Category Archives: Words

Free Fiction: Jamal & the Skeleton’s Heart

After last month’s self-indulgent story, here’s a tale that takes place in the same humor/horror universe as Gateway Blood. As a warning, this story contains profanity.


Being immortal, Jamal always has trouble keeping friends. Most times it seems like he just gets to know someone when then hit their expiration date. They shuffle off to whatever is after life, leaving him scratching his head.

Only this time, after being buried, his friend Newt–a non-binary skeleton–rose from the dead with a problem. A former lover and necromancer had stolen Newt’s heart from his grave.

Jamal agrees to retrieve the heart. And runs into his own brand of trouble; the kind that could end him.

 

This story was available for free from:
March 20, 2017
to
July 20, 2017
–EJ–

Copyright © 2016 by Ezekiel James Boston
Cover art copyright © fergregory

Free Fiction: Nexus Bar & Grill, World of Benjamin Baxter

Hello. After last month’s short, stark story (Soul Survivor), I want to get back to a world that I thoroughly enjoy playing in and a length with with I’m more comfortable.

While Benjamin Baxter is in this ‘Starwise’ novelette, the tale is more about the building and diviner from the Census Agency. This should be a treat for the readers who who requested to see more of the world from other points of view.

[ Teaser: I’m also working on a ‘Might-Lands’ project called Mr. Sam. ]


* From the fantasy World of Benjamin Baxter *

The Nexus Bar & Grill is one of the oldest buildings and most powerful locations in Las Vegas. Though the centuries, it has passed from owner to owner with little to no documentation.

A force for uncovering corruption, Census Agency Auditor Ally Dazs plans on changing that. And ferreting out who now owns the building should be the key she needs to make the Agency sit up and take notice.

She knows the task ahead of her and she’s never backed down from a challenge.

It’s time to put Las Vegas on warning.

This story was available for free from:
February 20, 2017
to
March 20, 2017
–EJ–

Copyright © 2016 by Ezekiel James Boston
Cover art copyright © EyeMark

Free Fiction: Soul Survivor

Hi there. After last month’s lighthearted free short story (Gateway Blood), one of the readers asked for something darker. Well, below is Soul Survivor, a short story I believe fills that request. Fyi, it’s a supernatural tale set in my Cause Beyond Reasonable Control universe slated to debut in 2018.


After a fight with another know-nothing commanding officer, John Snider finds himself reassigned into the real deep shit. During the Viet Nam war, joining up with any advanced forward unit promised death. Thinking his troubles with commanding officers were behind him, John gladly reassigned to Boudraux’s Bad Boys. Worst decision of his military life.

To survive Viet Nam, John Snider must first survive his unit.

“Soul Survivor” by Ezekiel James Boston, is free on this website for one month only. The story’s also available as an ebook through various online retailers and here. As a warning, this is a fictional story about a soldier during the Viet Nam war/conflict. As such, it contains rather strong language.

This story was available for free from:
January 20, 2017
to
February 20, 2017
–EJ–

Cover and layout copyright © 2017 Elsewhere Publishing
Cover art copyright © Dechik

Inspiration Tuesday: Scouting Party by Aaron Miller

When I saw this Scouting Party piece by Aaron Miller, I instantly thought about an NPC from an old D&D campaign that was quite the hit with my players. Some disliked him, but they paid him for his guide services through The Wet Forest.

While I enjoyed the character, this is the first time he has ever peeked his head out in my fiction.


 

Another bead of sweat found its forerunner’s path and ran down Swampy McGee’s cheek. As much as he wanted to wipe it, and the others beads, he remained statue still.

A raiding party comprised of torteeze, gator-folk, and lizard men had just rounded Tristan’s knee and were heading up east past Kellen’s waterfall. All three races of the Wet Forests’ vision were primarily movement base and Swampy didn’t want to catch their eye.

An ancient hate among the reptilian races normally kept them at each other’s neck. That rift was what kept their populations low enough for his guild of explorers get a toehold in the former elven lands.

The pinch of shredded jerky Swampy had in his cheek had lost all of its cherry-fly spice and had become bland horse meat. He resisted finishing it.

The raiding party was close enough to the waterfall that they wouldn’t hear much of anything beyond their near radius, but they were oft to glance around and it’d be a bloody shame if his chewing jaw is what sent their spears his way.

What could unite, them ‘ters? Realization made his eyes flutter. Steeling himself from excess movement, he focused on getting back to being statue still. They all have similar arms and armor. Whas’sat mean? They an army? Whose der leada?

Man, the blood of his forefathers—scouts unequaled—itched. He could go back with word of what he’d seen, but he wouldn’t have all the answers.

The last of the raiding party rounded out of site.

Wal piped, “We have to spread word.”

“Of what?” Swampy chewed his jerky and looked at the small wingless fae on the back of his swamp raven mount. “They walk ta’gether. Got the same gear. And what?” Swampy swallowed. He wiped his face. “Der’s a whole-lotta more ta know and a whole-lotta more ta tell.”

“No Swampy.” Wal shook his small head. “We’re not going to trail them.”

“You mean, you ain’t.” Swampy grinned. “You run and tell what you know.” He clicked his tongue twice. His strad-lizzard mount eased down into the water. “I’ma go find out mo’.”

© Ezekiel James Boston


the_scouting_party_by_aaronmiller-d52f6x7©2012-2016 AaronMiller
You can find more by Aaron Miller at:
http://aaronbmiller.com/
http://aaronmiller.deviantart.com/

An Exercise

Here are three different openings that I did as an exercise about a magic shop. I really liked how they turned out and am thinking about how to use three three in a novel. Not sure what roles they would play, but I think the main character would be Bart with Sadie–in some way–playing into it. Zed was the character I used to get into the right mind space for the exercise and he’s such a character, he’ll show up somewhere; I’m sure.


 

Zed

Stepping into Chaos Comics, the ambient magic in the dim, cozy shop made Zed Christi’s body hair jump to attention. Grinning at the knack caused by the invisible, kiwi scented energy—and the wonderfully toasty, shag carpet underfoot—Zed hooted softly in joy as he rubbed the static charge from his chest first. Unlike other shops, he could actually taste the mana.

Work had him visiting shops around the world and there was nowhere else that would let you port-pad to the front arch in your underwear. Nowhere.

Other places could always dwarf Chaos Comics’s boxcar size, but they could never capture the feel.

Rubbing down the rest of his body, Zed fondly mumbled old Joe’s motto, “No shoes, no shirt, no problem. Forgot your pants? That’s cool too.” Registering how much he’d spent over the years, the white carpet which spanned the store—even into the back issue rows—darkened to gold.

Remembering the first time he had seen the effect in his early teens, pride swelled in his forty-year-old chest. He’d managed to maintain his top tier customer status for twelve years running. Second only to Othar Ostrada’s thirty-six, which shouldn’t really count since the sovereign prince never had to earn his own ingots.

Rubbing his hands greedily, Zed stepped up to the spinner rack of the latest releases and grinned at the classic squeaks it gave as he rotated through.

He stopped at the empty bin where the current issues of Frank’s Blazzin’ Pyromancer Tips should have been. So much for buying an extra copies to bag up. Zed frowned at the empty spot. “But it just came out…” Getting the feeling he’d missed the release of a real steamer, Zed called out, “Uh, Joe. Do you have the new issue of Frank’s BPT in my pulls?”
 


Sadie

Sadie Arrowhead stepped into Chaos Comics and froze. Everything wrong with the dark, shitty store was epitomized in a dumpy, grown man standing in his tighty-whities spinning a squeaky rack right at the entrance.

Sadie shivered.

This was the same sort of bullshit, pervey old-man crap craft that got this boxcar store booted and blacklisted from more countries than years she’d been alive, Sadie pulled the cover from the dragonstone end of the cinnamon matchstick she created—and had always chewed since—for her master thesis project.

It remained dormant.

Created to only light in the presence of pure magic, it would never like in a shop as sinister as this one.

She glanced to the sandstone archway that led out into the Grand Marketplace in the island nation of Millstra and found the twenty-one and older etching at a child’s eye level. Yet, the ephemeral slime in the seedy air told her instincts that no one in this place would ever enforce it.

She put the cap back on her match. You’re not here for that official reason, Sadie. Just get the books and get out of this shit hole. Not wanting to touch the dumpy man, no less talk to him, she didn’t approach the counter. Instead, she raised her voice and called out, “Shopkeeper! In the name of Magestone and the Sovereign King Uther Skata Ostrada, I demand you hand over all copies Pyromancer Tips.”
 


Bart

Done with the final issue of six arc Demonfire spell bound into Frank’s Blazzin’ Pyromancer Tips, Bart Tsung felt a warming in his head as the magic lesson sunk into his repertoire. Used up, experience shared, the pages and cover went blank. He tossed it into the large black Rubbermaid bin in the employees only area of Chaos Comics. It thunked against the edge and, like the others, waited for distribution to recall them. He guzzled the last of his orange soda and tossed the aluminium into the green Rubbermaid recycling bin.

Bart had heard muffled voices call from the front of the store, but Joe—the old, tight-fisted, liver-spotted owner—wouldn’t pay him if he worked during his break and also wouldn’t let him bank the time. So, even though it went against everything he was learning in Business 414 about customer satisfaction, he let them wait until his time was up.

Opening the narrow door from the cramped break room, his nose curled up. The kiwi air freshener must’ve triple squirted.

When he first got the job, Janaa, his first—and only—girlfriend had once made him try the small, hairy on the outside, delicious on the inside, fruit. Scores of kiwis later, and years after the breakup, the smell still made her memory force its way into his mind. Obviously, she had bound a spell in what most called the cute fruit, but the complexity of even the most simplest of enchantments were always beyond his grasp and—working for tight-fisted Joe—he couldn’t afford a counterspell.

At least, not yet. It’s all about saving up.

Bart check the normally white shag carpet and noted it had turned gold. A customer with deep pockets had come in. He stepped into his flipflops—tight-fisted Joe allowed all kind of weirdos walked in there barefooted—and started to the front.

He froze. Deep green robes interlaced with gold. Magestone. His mind went to the bootleg Blasters DVD set he had in the back. Trying to tell himself it wasn’t about that, Bart walked down the counter toward the customers.

© Ezekiel James Boston

Inspiration Tuesday: Forsaken by Jonas De Ro

Taking in all the detail, I studied this image from Jonas De Ro for about ten minutes. I wanted to write something from within the scene and what I ended up with is something that’s going to show up in one of my science fiction stories. Jonathan will probably be a primary character with Jamaal working for an underworld kingpin.

This is 100% explore the concept. I’ll have to work in a hack scene or two prior to this that delves into this war torn setting.


 

Jamaal Miggs couldn’t make sense of it.

Through the years, he had dream-hacked hundreds of speculators, refuges, and work-seekers traveling in suspended animation to extract info he could use or sell to his contacts who would make the most of the exploit.

During most dream hacks, Jamaal would guide the temporarily unsuspended yet still deeply tranqued, traveler to various places during a typical galactic standard day. From transactions at banks during the daylight to secret indulgences under nightfall. He would find what captured their interests and what vices tempted them the most.

But this sleeper—this Jonathan Doughberg—just wouldn’t crack.

Jamaal tried all the prompts he knew to get Doughberg to actually go through his thoughts and all recreations—every single one—started with a battle-worn city. Vehicles riddled with bullet holes, buildings damaged by shellfire. Destruction and discarded furniture lined the side of the road and peppered the sidewalks: rubble, casings, casted off possessions… But the war torn streets were clear.

Hell, Doughberg wasn’t even present. It was Jamaal, alone on the streets. And for some damn reason, he was a kid.

This Doughberg conundrum had vexed him for months. A couple times a week, he hacked into Doughberg’s domicapsule to try again and again only to find himself standing in the same annihilated city.

Fuck, Jamaal actually had a dream of his own where he stood in the same spot; looking at the same shit.

He drummed his fingers on his leg. The Prism Corp neural interceptor that he bought for a hefty sum—and used without incident—weighed lightly on his hair. The Corp’s psychiatric unit used these devices to piggyback onto their deep space crews’ recollections.

Instead of merely being able to observe whatever random thought sleepers had during transport, the mods Jamaal built into the syncpads allowed him to guide the sleeper. To manipulate the sleeper. And–in some cases–even control the sleeper.

And it had always worked.

Until this guy.

“Shit.” Jamaal’s voice came back to him and it sounded weird. It sounded all growed up and he had used a dirty word. “Whoa!”

Jamaal flung the neural interceptor from his head. Its pendulum mount squeaked as it rocked back and forth. He was an adult and he used profanity all the fucking time. He wiped his face. Something about that scene had twisted his thoughts up enough and regressed him so that he actually thought from the point of view of his own youth when shit was the dirtiest word he knew.

He eyed the helmet of thin wires.

There was something new in the dream. He hadn’t noticed it until he ripped out, but there was a red ball. A red ball right as his feet. He was going to pick it up.

Jamaal bolted out of his chair to pace the narrow walkway in front of Doughberg’s domicapsule.

That damn red ball was going to haunt him for days. But there was no way he was going to go back into Doughberg’s sleep. While he hadn’t come across anything like this before, something at the edge of his conscious understanding warned that while he was trying to hack Doughberg; somehow, someone was hacking him.

© Ezekiel James Boston


jonasdero_forsaken©2014 www.jonasdero.be
You can find more by Jonas De Ro at:
http://jonasdero.deviantart.com/
https://www.facebook.com/jonas.dero

An Exercise

Here are three different openings that I did as an exercise about assassins experiences a hotel room where their target is going to be. It was good fun writing how three different character could/would perceived the same room.

 

Violette Simms

Violette Simms tried to blinked the past away. She had heard the Numi Hotel air freshener spritz—it would every hour—and had expected the light orange scent from her stay in this exact room last month. The subtle peach permeating the hotel room knocked her straight back to her early adolescences.

To Gainesville Texas.

To the Red River Peach Orchard.

To a time when life was only about occasionally plucking peaches with friends, getting home before Miss Lindsey texted a second time, and killing for a living was something only James Bond did.

She shook her head and exhaled sharply.

The different smell had thrown her, but that was good. Get the only difference to the room out of the way. If she didn’t get her job done in an hour, she’d be able to steel herself against subsequent spritzes.

While just short of luxurious, Numi’s rooms were quite spacious. The staff would leave the beige curtains open so, that upon entering, the picturesque view of Bear Lake—resplendent in the late spring sun—would steal your attention from the blueness of the room. It’d be a bit before the teal carpet and aqua wallpaper would register.

Violette had closed those curtains. She wanted Terrence Goodwin, better known as rocker Johnny Win of The Winners, to have nothing else to look at besides the saffron loveseat and, more importantly, the smorgasbord of pills she had laid out on the round glass table top set upon a lacquered tree stump.

Johnny had released a song railing against the President and, rather today or tonight, Violette would make sure that he would be yet another rock n’ roller who, tragically overdosed.


Oskar Lee

Oskar Lee slipped on his nitrile gloves and slipped into room 313 of the Numi Hotel. Shit. There was absolutely nowhere to hide until night.

The twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep hotel room with blue walls and dark blue carpet had sparse furnishings – sort of like his own apartment. In his case, too much stuff made it difficult to up and relocate on a moment’s notice, but this was supposed to be one of Bear Lake’s more luxurious resort-hotels.

Smelling peaches, his gaze shifted to the glass tabletop set on one of those pricey tree stumps in front of a yellow, dual lazy boy loveseat. Where was the smell coming from?

No peaches.

No welcoming bowl of fruit. Clearly the Numi—with its $250 per night rates had a bunch of shills stacking their ranking on TrueHotelAdvisor.com.

He shrugged off the scent and switched his cinnamon toothpick to the lucky left side of his mouth as he hustled past the loveseat to the king-sized bed positioned two feet from the floor to ceiling windows against the right wall. Early morning sunshine lit the hills on the other side of the lake.

He lifted the dark mustard comforter.

Crap. An oaken base. It’d be possible to hide inside… He knocked on it. Nope. Solid. He smoothed the comforter out.

Oskar had a few scarce minutes to get hidden, comfortably hidden, before the maids made their rounds and the door code was changed. The clients had ordered a Carradine—his specialty—on Jonny Win and it was always a good deal easier to chloroform someone when they were asleep. And a chloroformed target always made for an easy hanging.


Homicidal Artist

This was one of those times when people, obviously, didn’t understand the difference between hiring a lowly assassin and giving patronage to a truly prolific homicidal artist. I mean, when it comes down to it, any monkey can splatter paint on a canvas just like any thug can pull a trigger, but there would only ever be one Jackson Pollock.

One Monet.

One Picasso.

Most understand that they are not buying my art. No. My art is mine, and mine alone. They are paying for my discretion and simply providing me with a canvas… And, after this piece of death-art, I’m going to track down the designer who laid out this abortion of a room and make it so they never can do this kind of work again.

Anyone who would pair aquamarine wallpaper with dark teal carpet should have their hands chopped off. Then, their eyes scooped out because they obviously didn’t use them when they picked out sun porch yellow comforters for a king-size bed, and, and chose saffron for the loveseat—is that pleather?

I don’t want to enter this blue rectangle.

I don’t. God, I don’t. But I have to know…

Yup. It’s pleather.

What was that squirting sound—oh my God! Stock-gray Glade air fresheners? In Numi?

Are. You. Kidding me!

That’s going to cost them their nose.

I have to.

So, that’s: their hands for the blues, their eyes for the yellows, their nose for—

Wait. That’s not a typical Glade scent. No, it’s… Peaches… White peaches.

Well, they can keep their nose.

© Ezekiel James Boston