One of my writing friends, Louise Findlay, recently released a short story, Imprisoning a Duel Discord. Click here for more details. It is my great pleasure to be able to share a sneak preview with you today.
Imprisoning a Duel Discord Description
The world is in musical order. To maintain balance, a team of Government Agents, named Harmony, track down, experiment on and sometimes kill those who express the music of dissonance. Those like Psycha, a duel Discord of Vyla and Sios; a prime lab rat to Harmony.
Being able to disrupt harmony by voice and hands alone makes Psycha far more dangerous than the usual Discord. Will she run into trouble trying to protect her boyfriend, Caleb? Will her desire to destroy Harmony prove fatal for her? What will be left of her if she ever gets captured?
Imprisoning a Duel Discord Excerpt
What had Caleb gotten himself into this time? We were discords for music’s sake. We couldn’t strike back against Harmony if we ran, and be damned if he got caught. He was a Tara Discord not a Vyla like me. He was more vulnerable and I knew for a fact he left his Tara back at camp. Careless. That was so unlike him. He was usually methodical and paranoid. He couldn’t afford to throw his life away on a whim. I was the reckless one.
I hummed a tune to try and find his wavelength. Discords stuck out like a sore thumb, and he was a Tara. He was invisible without it, but I knew his musical signature like the back of my hand. I was almost certain I could pick something up, and I did. The three note discordant hum that was uniquely Caleb was faintly ringing in the air. I rushed to try and catch up to him. There was no way he would get captured on my watch. Cinder would kill me.
No. I caught sight of a man with the Harmony symbol on the back of his black suit. The tell-tale sign of a sharp, with two notes at the bottom and a treble clef in the middle, made him the enemy. I’d seen what happened to Discords when Harmony got a hold of them. They were mere husks of their former selves; dead and despondent inside. Their life cruelly ripped away. I would not let that happen to Caleb.
I screamed out notes at the man’s back, notes which clashed horribly. It was music to me, but the assailant recoiled, clutching his head in pain. How dare he try and take away the thing that made Caleb who he was. Being Discords defined us.
My enemy retaliated by taking out his Ko and trying to play me into submission. The harmony was excruciating to me. I was a duel Vyla/Sios Discord. Normal Discords were three parts discord and one-part harmony. I was fully Discord. I could control music with my voice and by touch alone. I hated Harmony for what they did to us, and I knew I’d be their prime lab rat.
“Caleb, run” I shouted.
I was bombarding him with musical assaults, but I had to be careful not to hit Caleb. He was powerless without his Tara. Why did he not bring it with him?
“I’m not leaving you,” he said.
Ah. Blood ran down my cheek when a note hit. Harmony and dissonance were opposites. One could hurt the other. Harmony were the government and Dissonance were the outcasts. I would make them pay for condemning us to a lifetime of running. Harmony agents lived to capture us.
“Go, you idiot. Get back to camp. You’re defenceless,” I ordered.
At last, he managed to see sense and fled. I couldn’t protect him if he was in the way. I waved a shield to protect against the agent’s next attack. Now Caleb was safe I could really let loose without fear of hurting him. I used my voice and hands in tandem to unleash a barrage of musical weapons at him. Streams of note swords and arrows flew at the enemy. He was pretty quick to keep up with me, but he couldn’t deflect everything I threw at him.
I started to hum a dissonant melody designed to sweep into his soul. I would poison his harmony with dissonance. He let out a hiss, which told me I was successful. I screamed as more musical implements of doom attacked me. I used the blood trickling down my arm in a note. Blood notes packed a mean punch. Judging by the look on his face, it did.
“Just die, Harmony bastard,” I said.
“Bring it, Discord cur,” he replied.
I screamed like a banshee. When he was distracted, I flung a spear at him. I turned his cries into a gag with a wave of my hand. His voice was grating to my ears.
Ah. A melody hit me straight in the neck and continued to constrain my throat. I tried to catch my breath, but it was impossible. I flailed around, trying to swipe him off me, but to no avail. I couldn’t let him get me. I couldn’t be captured. I finally managed to get him to relent, but my vision turned hazy as I gasped for breath.
About the Author
Louise Findlay writes fantasy (general short stories) and inspirational poetry. She enjoys reading and writing about mythological creatures, such as angels and demons, but has a soft spot for vampires. Louise is currently in the midst of writing a vampire novella about two vampire clans whose deputy’s clash in a big way, entitled A Spy in the Sagax Vampires.
She general writes ebooks, but she is a part of a few anthologies which are in print, and is working on a special secret project this year.
I have a special treat for you today, a short-story written by Louise Findlay. If you would like to know more about Louise and her work, I featured her on my author blog during the Fantasy Solstice Tour. For further details, click here.
Vicious Vines by Louise Findlay
I so hated this world. The clogging smell of petrol and dust. I could feel the air on my skin, all contaminated like a stain on my soul. I wasn’t wasteful like the humans. Clothes weren’t a necessity for me. I could just weave vines into makeshift garments, to stave off the cold. It was a waste making clothes from cloth and linen. It harmed plants and if they suffered, I suffered.
I always thought my unusual green eyes were a mark of my connection to the environment. The plants thought so. Their piercing shade certainly stood out from my auburn hair.
I was scared that my skin was taking on a greenish hue. I didn’t think I would change, but I didn’t really know what was happening to me; that was the worrying thing. The plants were happy though. As I accessed my powers I was becoming more like them by the day.
Everything hurt more and more, and I could hear the plants’ cries in my head. It was agonising; the constant screaming plaguing my mind. Humans destroyed everything they touched. They were responsible for the death and destruction of all this wildlife. I didn’t count myself among their number.
I made a last ditch attempt to free myself from this burden. Humans didn’t listen to reason, they only cared about what benefited them. They would pay for laying waste to the forests. They would pay for driving animals out of their homes. They would pay for uprooting plants from their habitat.
It was all the humans fault. Their industrial revolution; building things at the expense of others. It would come back to haunt them. I would make sure of it.
I didn’t have full control over my plant powers, but I knew I could rely on them to do what I wanted. To bring vengeance down upon the human menace.
I might have been content to leave them alone if I didn’t hear the constant screaming inside my head day and night; in my every waking moment and in my dreams as well. It was like having a drill constantly mining away at my brain.
CRACK! It was an agonising shift in my fingers whenever I called the vines to me. Every time I felt the change grow stronger. I didn’t know how to both keep my power, and halt the change. Part of me welcomed it, though the other part just wanted to stay the same.
I would do to the humans what was slowly happening to me. Yes, poetic justice. I’d infect them with plant genes. Then I would watch them trying to survive in their urban metropolis. It would take a lot of strength, but it would be worth it. I forced myself to create balls of swirling energy. The downside was that it was a bit too obvious. Humans ran and fought against anything they didn’t understand. They might escape my curse. Just as my muscles were about to give out, I condensed the energy to vapour. That would do. A swirling mist to encase and infect them.
Hahahaha. I walked for miles to the nearest town and watched the chaos unfold. It worked better than I’d ever imagined. I heard them crying out as they struggled to walk, could hear the conversion in my mind. Their thoughts were being simplified into matters which only concerned plants: food, water, sunlight and procreation. The newly converted plants were weak willed. I knew I could control them if I so desired. Why was I doing this? It was part vengeance; I felt the plants’ pain and wanted the cause of it to pay. But it was also to stop the pain. I couldn’t live with it any longer. It was slowly killing me.
Damn. I was going to kill whoever cursed me to this existence. No one harmed me and got away with it. No one harmed Kathryx without consequences. I had survived unspeakable torments.
As soon as I saw the eerie green mist I knew it was malevolent. I knew my body was changing. I could feel the crippling pain that accompanied it. Arrgh. It was like my body was being torn in two, and only half of me wanted to resist. But the other part, the part which was already damned, did not. I would find whoever did this, and they would pay. On my life they would pay.
The sunlight. It was like a blinding inferno of heavenly day. It nourished the vines that were slowly creeping up my face, but it burned my eyes. I was torn between sacred night and heavenly fire. As a vampire, daylight was my enemy. As a plant, it was quickly becoming my friend.
I suppose my vampiric nature was the reason I wasn’t like the humans. It didn’t matter now anyway. I was dead, whether man or woman or vampire. Plants didn’t bleed. My entire food source had been wiped out in one fell swoop. I had no desire to turn into a piece of shrubbery, but my wishes were of no concern. My body was fighting the battle for me. No sword or spear or arrow could fix this; no weapon could. But rendering the person who did this limb from limb, would make me the happiest creature alive.
I tried to resist the overwhelming urge to claw the vines off my face. They would only grow back again. I had tried that already, which resulted in a mauled face. All I could smell was the infestation of plants. When this was all over, if I was still myself, I was going to set fire to them all. Then I spotted it. Food. Human food. If the person wasn’t greenified yet it meant they had something to do with this.
Everything was slowing down. My feet were dragging. I just couldn’t maintain my speed. Once I was but a blip in the eyes of humans, and now I was struggling to walk. I had to find this person before I became rooted to the spot.
There she was. The red haired menace who started all this. I could see it in her eyes. That spark of violence I saw so often in my own kind. Oh, she was going to the feel the wrath of the last vampire alive.
I had my throwing knives out and began to slice the vines off her body as I charged straight at her with red in my eyes. The vines grew back as soon as I severed them.
“Stop it, please. You’re hurting them,” the menace pleaded.
Hurt plants? Oh, I’d show her hurt. She didn’t even know the meaning of pain. Try being left to starve underground, and trying to claw your way to the surface after having acid thrown on your decaying body.
“You change me back now before I decide your corpse is more useful to me,” I commanded.
She was scared. I could see the tears rolling down her face and hear the palpitations of her heart. This little snip of a girl thought she could destroy everything on the planet and not suffer the consequences? Naïve.
I suppose I should have been worried when I saw that glint in her eyes. But what could a human teenager do to me a vampire? Really?
Ugh. The vines were constricting around my body. I could feel the pressure round my neck. I held my breath, but I knew I didn’t have long before suffocation became a real concern.
“Look who’s in control now,” the human taunted.
No human was going to best me. I was the predator, not the prey. I just had to move my arms. The vines. If I ripped them off I might have enough time to kill her before they regrew. It would hurt though; tear my face. The regrowth would take a decade, even with my healing abilities. Disfigurement was better than death by strangulation, and by a human no less.
I tore my razor sharp nails across my face, screaming even as I took one of my knives from the floor and plunged it into her chest.
Instantly, the vines released me. As I stood panting, the human was breathing her last breath. I could feel the infection slowly retract from my body. The plant life began to wither as I watched her pained struggles.
I was free though. Free at last. Before I collapsed from the strain, I heard the human’s last words.
“Vira. My name is Vira” she said, and then promptly died.
I have an extra special treat for you today! Not only has Charles E. Yallowitz released his short story, which I introduced in this post Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts,but he also agreed to an interview. You can find a copy of Ichabod Brooks by clicking here.
Interview with Charles E. Yallowitz
Mel: Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in a lucky pair of socks? Or using a special pen?)
Charles: Nothing really strange other than I usually need music. Silence puts me on edge because I’m so used to it being a precursor to people interrupting me. Also, the music seems to remind other people in the house that I’m working. Beyond that, the only other thing I can call a strange habit is that I reward myself with pizza after writing a first draft. If I have a really hard time with publishing something then I use the same reward. I might be getting to the point where the local pizza place knows my order by heart.
Mel: I know what you mean. I’m on first name terms with the baristas at our local coffee shop! I like the idea of having a signal, a kind of writer at work – do not disturb soundtrack! What does your writing space look like? Can we take a peek inside? Is it safe to enter!
Charles: Currently, my writing space is the den with the desktop and the TV. I have an open window with a view of the backyard . . . sort of. Normally, I’m on my laptop in my bedroom with no view and terrible back support. I might try to take over the sun room for easy drink access and a less stuffy atmosphere. As you can tell, I don’t have a specific writing space and have to work wherever I can find space and quiet.
Mel: I can relate (it’s quite often my car!). But, moving on. What book do you wish you had written?
Charles: The one I’ve yet to write. Seriously, I never really thought that because I like certain books because of the author’s style. Me being behind it would turn it into a different story, which kind of defeats the question.
Mel: That’s a really good point. Perhaps the question should be then, which books have inspired you to create similar adventures in your own unique style?
Charles: I took some from The Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard, and tons of other stuff. I try to take something from everything I read, so that I learn more about the craft. Being a present tense third person author, there aren’t many books that I can connect to my style. So I feel like I’m making this up as I go along.
Mel: I think that’s a really important point; reading and learning from others. I’ve enjoyed reading your recent posts on the characters who bring Windemere to life. So my next question is about them. Who would play your favourite characters in a movie?
Charles: To be honest, I have no idea. Back when I started, I’d pick actors and actresses for the characters because it was fun to dream of that happening. A movie or TV show has really become the next rung for authors, but I’m actually more focused on the books right now. Besides, all I did in the past was go through IMDB to pick the top names for characters. Maybe it would work best with unknowns in all the roles.
Mel: It’s an interesting one isn’t it? The characters we see in our minds; whether ours or those conjured by others, rarely translate.
It’s like names, sometimes we have to go through a few before we find the right fit. How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?
Charles: I use a baby naming book and a few ‘meaning of names’ sites to choose. At least for several of the characters. It depends on their importance to the story. Main characters get this treatment if they aren’t from an old game where a friend played them. Supporting characters tend to get a careful choosing based on their personality or role. For example, a Paladin might get a name taken out of a list of biblical warriors. Finally, very minor characters and unique names are nothing more than letters thrown around. A lot of times I’ll take a word from some packaging and rearrange it to get a name. Creates some interesting combinations.
Mel: I can imagine! Have you ever regretted a name you’ve given? Perhaps, a minor character who decided they wanted to have their day in the sun.
Charles: I’ve been lucky enough to have changed the original names that simply didn’t work. So I haven’t regretted anything yet. The closest would probably be the character of Kira Grasdon. She was a minor character with one scene and evolved into a romantic interest for Luke Callindor, which meant appearing more often. Problem was that her original name was Linny Grasdon. Horrible name, but she wasn’t supposed to come back. The romance created an ‘LL’ thing that somebody pointed out, so I searched for a new one. Kira kind of popped into my head and that’s what she’s been for a while.
Mel: Kira Grasdon is a really cool name. Though I’ll admit I like LL – it brings a certain Mr Cool J to mind!
And if I can use a tenuous link to my next question. If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Legends of Windemere.
Charles: I actually think this way when getting into the mindset for writing. It’s typically when listening to an orchestral version of the Legend of Zelda theme. You’re following a flying creature who is zipping around Windemere as if searching for something. You run into various characters from the books and even series that I haven’t touched on yet. For example, you see Sari dancing in a tavern, a future thief character bounding over rooftops, the vampire characters on a battlefield, and whatever else pops into my head. It usually hits a high note with Nyx and Queen Trinity having a full strength caster duel in the mountains. The force sends the flying creature spiraling away and the whole thing ends to reveal you’re following Fizzle. He lands on a branch over Luke Callindor, who is sleeping in the forest next to his dog.
Mel: Now that’s one trailer I’d love to see!
But before I get distracted by magical lands and grand adventures, let’s move on. List five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.
Charles: Prolific, dedicated, anxious, creative, and wonky.
Mel: How about your next project. What can you tell us about that?
Charles: So many to choose from since I’m editing Book 8 and writing Book 11 of Legends of Windemere. Neither of those are close to going live, so I’ll talk about the one that I published today. Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts is a short story I wrote to simply have some fun and put something out between big books. It follows an adventure of Ichabod Brooks, who is a middle-aged man with a reputation for accepting dangerous odd jobs. In his words, a man has to eat and feed his family. The current job is to clear out a ruined village, which has become infested with strange creatures. It doesn’t go as planned and Ichabod finds a bigger mess than he expected. I aimed for simplicity, humor, and action with memorable characters. At least I hope they’re memorable. Feel free to check it out on Amazon.
Mel: I always appreciate good humour in an adventure novel. Is this something readers can expect from you in general? Do you like to use humour to balance all the action?
Charles: I like to use humor (you can tell I’m American here) to break tension and show a more flippant side of the characters. Since it’s an ensemble cast, cracking jokes and teasing helps reveal the growing bond between them. This feels natural to me. I also grew up reading a lot of Spider-Man comics, so battle banter turns up as a way for some heroes to throw the villains off their game.
Mel: You’ve got to love Spidey’s one liners! And it seems the humour comes naturally to you. But what about challenges? What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?
Charles: Hard to pick a greatest one because I always feel like I’m fighting against the tide. As far as being a published author, the biggest obstacle was accepting that I can’t please everyone with my books. I knew this would happen, but it’s a lot harder to put into practice when you have the ‘publishing’ high going. Submitting to agents and publishers got me ready for rejection. The negative reviews and angry messages over the years was something else. I’d like to think I’m better at letting it roll off my back, but there are times when one hits when my mood is already in the gutter. Nothing I can do about it.
Mel: Negative reviews are hard, and angry messages can be soul destroying. Do you have any tips on how to deal with unconstructive feedback?
Charles: I hate to use this phrase thanks to a certain movie, but my advice is to let it go. If the review struck a nerve then rant to a friend in private, take a break from the Internet, and focus on the next project. You can’t please everybody.
Mel: That is excellent advice. I find you a really supportive fellow author, and writing networks are really important. So let’s get back to the writing. I know you recently ventured into thriller writing, but are there any other genres you would love to explore?
Charles: I’ve tried poetry, gore horror, and a fairy tale/dystopia combination in the past. Right now I don’t think there’s anything else I’d jump into. The paranormal thriller was spontaneous and unexpected, so who knows what the future holds. I could end up trying my hand at a Western or High School Drama. Though I’ll always come back to fantasy where I feel the most comfortable and happiest.
Mel: Who can resist a good Western!
Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, Charles. I had such a good time chatting with you today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.