Friday, February 14, 2014

My Absence

I feel like I should point out that in September 2012 I ended up going to university, a decision made somewhat hastily. It left me with much less free time for writing and since this is already a secondary place for my writing, it has been largely abandoned.

I don't intend to forget it forever, though. The story of Sam Dennis is one I will continue someday, hopefully before too long.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Back To Carltonville

Sam did not forget that he wanted his revenge.
The winter in the woods was long and carried well into May. Vinnie stopped worrying about keeping Sam fed. With the bodies of water frozen over they couldn’t even get to the fish, but the boy’s strength did not diminish. He craved no food, but occasionally sucked on ice.
Sam spent his days with his training. He climbed slick rock faces and cold trees and executed, as far as he was concerned, awesome kung fu kicks. At night he asked Vinnie an endless stream of questions on all topics. For his part, the ghost tried to answer, but did not know everything.
At night Sam slept. Vinnie had grown less worried about protecting the boy and could go away for hours at a time. He visited the homes by the lake and looked inside, occasionally finding magazines or books that were open. Vinnie also occasionally followed the highway, watching the rare vehicles driving by, often with radios playing. Any bit of information he could gleam from these sources, Vinnie would use during Sam’s interrogations. It was a long, dull winter.


The snow stopped falling, and then vanished from the ground. A week later, Sam returned to Carltonville.
He followed the road most of the way, but far enough from it that he couldn’t be seen. Vinnie, nervous about the trip, floated along ahead of him. As they drew closer to town they noticed more animal life than in their neighborhood. Furry little creatures ran as the boy and ghost walked past. Birds flew away.
Sam walked in a grim silence, resisting Vinnie’s attempts at conversation. “We have to be quiet,” he said.
They reached a sign declaring that they were entering Carltonville and Sam decided to move away from the road. “We’ll come up from behind,” he said. “They’ll never see it coming.”
They came out of the woods at the edge of town facing a row of backyards. Sam hadn’t seen the town in more than a year, but knew instantly where he was. “Hey,” he said, excitement showing in his voice. “My friend Curt lived over there.”
Vinnie saw the house and noticed a clothesline with drying clothing flapping in the breeze. He looked at the tattered shreds Sam wore. “Do you think Curt would mind you borrowing some of his clothes?”
Sam looked down at his exposed body. “Good idea.” Staying close to the tree line, Sam crept toward the house. “Vinnie, is there anyone in there?”
The incorporeal skull streaked into the house and back in a flash. “Empty,” he said.
Sam ran into the yard and grabbed a pair of pants and a shirt that looked like they would fit. He ran back to the woods and took off the rags he was wearing. The new clothes were damp, but so clean. Catching his reflection in the window of a shed, Sam pulled twigs and leaves from his nappy hair. Then he heard a car.
Sam ducked behind the shed as the crunched the gravel of the driveway and came to a stop. Vinnie, hoping Sam could be found and perhaps return to a normal life, watched in silence.
A man got out of the car. Sam had only met Curt’s father on rare occasions, but recognized him. A tall, thin white man with streaks of white in his beard. He started toward the front door of the house but, remembering something, changed his path to come around to the back. He started bringing in the laundry, the line squeaking as he pulled the clothes in and folded them into a basket. Sam and Vinnie stared from behind the shed.
Sam noticed something. Curt’s father glowed. The same sickly green pseudo-light from the ritual seemed to ooze from the man’s skin. “Do you see it?” he whispered.
“What?” said Vinnie.
“The light. He’s glowing. He’s one of them.”
And Vinnie did see it. The man had the same distance from the physical plane that Sam had. He was changed.
“He’s one of them,” Sam said again.
Before Vinnie could react, Sam was running across the back yard.
The man looked up a soon as he heard a noise. Vinnie saw that the man, to his credit, did not react with panic, but prepared to fight. It was too late however. Sam leapt from eight feet away and came down on the man’s chest.
The man fell. Clothes spilled to the ground. The boy punched furiously. Blood spattered onto the back wall of the house.
The man rolled over, tried to detach his attacker, but could not. The grappling pair knocked into the clothesline pole and it fell. Sam grabbed the line and looped it around the Man’s neck.
“No!” the man as he tried unsuccessfully to get the line off.
Sam pulled the line tight, kneeling on he man’s back. The man struggled and writhed. He clutched at Sam, at the ground, at anything. Nothing could help. His eyes bulged and his face turned red. The eerie glow faded at the same time the man stopped moving. Half a minute after that Sam let the line go and stood up.
Vinnie saw the man’s ghost as it left. It was pulled away to places unknown before it could tell what had happened. Vinnie was not happy with the outcome of the trip into town, but it was plain to see that the man had been twisted and wrong deep down. He would not have helped Sam.
Sam was catching his breath when they heard another vehicle turning into the driveway.
“Run!” said Vinnie.
Sam was in the woods again in seconds, but stopped to look back. Curt and his mother were getting out of their van, which had pulled in behind the car. Curt was wearing a baseball uniform and calling for his dad.
“They’re not glowing,” Vinnie said. Sam saw that they weren’t.
“We better go,” he said.
As he snuck away, Sam heard screams as the body was discovered. He felt bad for Curt, but knew it was better this way.


They went back to the car.
“I killed him because he was evil,” Sam said.
“I know,” Vinnie said.
“The ones who killed my family will all glow like that, I bet,” Sam said. “I have to lay low for now, but soon… soon I’m going to kill them all.”
Vinnie made what can only be described as the mental version of a deep sigh.
“I know,” he said.


At the edge of Carltonville police have come and gone at the scene of the murder, but a group of three stayed behind.
“None of us want to hear it,” one said “but it has to be one of our group who did this.”
“We don’t know that,” said another.
“Barry would have been strong enough to overpower anyone in town who isn’t one of us,” said the first one again. “Someone in the group has turned. We have to call a meeting. See where everyone was today. It’s possible the killer will even reveal themselves by not showing up.”
“It isn’t one of us,” said the third. “There’s someone else.”
“What do you mean?”
“Over here,” he ushered them behind the shed. “Evidence. I didn’t report this officially. This is our concern, not there’s.”
He pointed down at the tattered remains of a suit of children’s clothing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Vinnie had tried to talk him out of it, but Sam had eaten the shape. Whatever it was, that strange peudo-lifeform from the other side which he had killed, Sam instinctually decided he could eat it. And that he should.

Sam had dug his hand into the vague mass and pulled it out holding a clump of its “meat” for lack of a more fitting term. The nine-year old had shovelled the clump into his face. Then he had followed it with another handful. And another. Minutes later the thing was gone and the boy’s face and hands were smeared with a mess that would be invisible to most living beings, but was clear to Vinnie.

Afterward Sam had wandered back to the stream to drink and wash himself.


Vinnie didn’t talk to Sam about the shape. Sam didn’t seem to care what it was or where it had come from. But the ghost was bemused. He’d been dead for a lot longer than he’d been alive and, in that time, he thought he’d gotten a pretty good idea about how things were supposed to fit together between the world of the living and that beyond it. This boy seemed to contradict what he thought he knew.

Though Sam didn’t care about the origin of the shape, a change had occurred in him. He wasn’t afraid any more. He would wander further from his car, and even slept outside of it when the weather permitted. When they would take trips to the lake, Sam still avoided the cabins, but wasn’t scared of them either.

“I’m going to get my revenge,” he said to Vinnie one day.

“What’s that?”

“When the winter is over, I’m going to go into town and find the people that killed my family.” He was just stating a fact. He and Vinnie had been walking returning to the car in silence before this.

“What will you do if you find them?” Vinnie asked.

“I’ll kill them all,” Sam said.

They were silent until they reached the car. Vinnie said “Why wait until the winter is over?”

Sam said “I’ve got to train first.”


Though Vinnie didn’t like the idea of Sam looking for revenge, he didn’t say it. The boy, he thought, should get back into town. He can’t live in the woods forever. The sooner the better, probably. But vengeance wasn’t a good path for a child.

After Sam had made the announcement, Vinnie spent the night hovering above the car and worrying.

The next day, his worry lessened. Sam’s idea of training apparently consisted of climbing trees, then jumping off while shouting “Hah!” and making what he considered to be karate poses. This became Sam’s morning routine and Vinnie, glad to see the boy still acting like a child, did notice progress over time. After a few weeks Sam could scale a tree in seconds and he could jump from the tops without a problem. “Hah!”

To further distract him, Vinnie invented a game. He would float around and Sam would throw rocks at him. If the rock passed through Vinnie’s non-corporeal form, he won that round. If Vinnie avoided it, he won. Progress was made here as well. Soon Sam was “hitting” Vinnie more often than not from further and further away.

It all seemed childish enough though that Vinnie soon forgot about what Sam had said.


They saw another shape thing. This one was larger than the first, but as grey and vague as the other. Still they could both still see it. It was high above. Among the clouds. Sam was again filled with dread by the sight of it, but ignored that.

“Get its attention,” he said to the ghost.


“Fly up there and draw it down here.”

“Why? That thing could hurt you.”

“It won’t. I’m going to hurt it.”

Vinnie intended to refuse, but the thing seemingly noticed them. At any rate, it had started in their direction and picked up speed.

“I don’t think you should do this,” Vinnie said.

“I’m going to eat it,” Sam replied, as if that were a counter-point.

It was over in seconds. The shape dropped toward the child like a bomb, but the child leapt directly at it. But Sam had miscalculated. Suddenly he couldn’t see. He couldn’t move. He had jumped right into the thing. He was stuck. It was fogging his mind. It was digesting his mind. Had there been a human viewer they would have seen the boy floating above the ground, writhing.

Vinnie swished himself through the shape repeatedly, trying to prevent it with something better to eat. He broadcast thoughts at it that could be translated “Look at me! Over here! Let that thing go! Eat me!” but the shape ignored the ghost.

Then it burst. Sam had leveraged himself against the shape and stretched it beyond its capacity with purely physical brute force. Sam gasped as though he’d been underwater, then looked at the bits of vague material that floated around him. He laughed hard, then ate well.


Sam’s tenth birthday passed unnoticed and uncelebrated.


When it snowed, Sam spent a whole day in the car. His clothes were straps and rags that did nothing to shelter him. Condensation on the windows was frozen. Snow piled up and soon light couldn’t get in.

Sam lay in the back seat looking at the ceiling. Vinnie, after watching the snowfall for some time passed through the window and floated above the driver’s seat, looking back.

“Are you cold?” he aked.

“No,” said Sam. “I think my powers make me cold-proof.”

Vinnie knew exactly what he was talking about, but this was the first time Sam had been open about it. “Your powers?”

“My super powers. I don’t know all of them yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m cold proof.”

Vinnie couldn’t tell the temperature of the living world, but he had seen the snow and could hear the wind. But Sam wasn’t even shivering. “I think you’re right.”

“I wonder what other powers I have. I’m strong and I can jump really good.”

“And you’re very fast and agile.”

“What’s a jile?”

“Agile. It means you move good.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

Vinnie hesitated, then said “I think you might be partially outside of the world of the living.”

Sam sat up and looked at the ghost. Vinnie continued. “Well, you can see and hear me, first of all. And you can see those shapes too. Most people can’t. But what’s really different is that you can touch the shapes. You can physically touch something that is outside your state of existence. It isn’t normal. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I saw a guy once, years ago, who seemed to be able to see ghosts. He was one of those ‘psychics’ who people pay to talk to dead relatives. I know there are a lot of people who fake it, but when this guy looked at me, it felt like he legitimately saw me. But I wasn’t related to any of those people, so I never talked to him.

“But you’re different. You don’t just see the other side. You can touch it. I think, in order to survive that contact with esoteric things, your body has to be tougher than a normal living thing. So now you’re between the worlds and equipped for both. You can see the unseen and touch the untouchable.”

“I can’t touch you.”

“Well, I’m dead. That means I’m as far from your plane of existence as I can get. But those shapes are in a realm beyond yours, but not dead. It’s a realm where thought energy is stronger than physicality. But you are totally able to punch those things. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The conversation ended there. Soon Sam was asleep. Vinnie floated there, wondering where a ghost could go to learn more about how the world worked.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I got another chapter of Sam Dennis's story done today, but it is sort of a rushed mess. I've just been too busy to do better.

But that's the thing. This can be a rushed mess. It doesn't have to be good. It is here for my amusement alone. Anyway, I want to try to not wait several months until the next chapter, but I can't guarantee anything.


Vinnie convinced Sam to sleep in the backseat of the car, swearing to watch over him through the night. The ghost did that, and Sam felt safer than he had in all his time in the woods. The next morning Sam, well rested for a change, was happy to find the ghost still there in the daylight, though he seemed dimmer.

That first morning together, Sam made the most of his first social contact in months and talked at length. He told of the night his family was killed, stopping to cry several times. Vinnie said little at first, it had been nearly a century since he’d last had a conversation, and listened eagerly. When the boy was apparently finished, the ghost tried to offer some consolation, saying “It isn’t that bad being dead, for what it’s worth.”

This drew Sam’s mind back to the fact his companion was a ghost. “It’s not?”

“Nope. I’ve been dead for a long time and I’ve been enjoying it.”

“Are my family ghosts now?”

“Well, I haven’t seen them around. I think they probably moved on to the proper afterlife, you know?” and feeling compelled to make it sound better, he added. “Heaven.”

“Why aren’t you in heaven?” said Sam wiping at his eyes with his dirty shirt.

“I felt like sticking around here. There was a lot I wanted to see before I went away.”

“How did you die?”

“I don’t remember, honestly. I was walking down the street one minute and then I was a ghost. I figure I must have been hit by a car or something, but by the time I knew how to be a ghost it was too late to see what had happened.”

“Were you white when you were alive?”

“I was Italian. Does that matter to you?”

“Not really, I guess.”

“Are you white?”

“I’m black, can’t you tell?”

“Not really. From this side it is hard to tell that sort of thing.”

Sam was quiet for a while. “So my family are okay?”

“I guarantee it,” said the ghost.


It was weeks before Vinnie remembered that living humans are supposed to eat. Sam, as far as he had seen, was not eating, but seemed as healthy as ever. Still, Vinnie brought it up and Sam agreed that it wouldn’t hurt to find something to eat.

They went to the bushes where Sam had found berries earlier in the year, but only a few withered specimens remained.

Sam didn’t want to kill a rabbit or a deer, when Vinnie suggested. They finally agreed to find fish. Vinnie flew off while Sam slept and located a lake. The next morning the two of them set out. When they got there Sam noticed cabins on the far side of the lake. “I don’t want to be here,” he said.

Vinnie followed his gaze. “Don’t worry,” he said. “There’s nobody over there. Just empty cabins. You’re safe.”

It was a pleasant day and Sam waded into the water up to his waist. Almost an hour later, he’d caught a fish with his hands.

Vinnie’s attempt to teach Sam to build a fire was ignored. Sam ate the fish raw and cold.

Watching this, Vinnie noticed a contrast between the boy and the fish. From his side of life Sam appeared much clearer. Sam was in some way closer to the other side than normal living beings.


They returned to the car. Vinnie suggested moving into one of the empty cabins, but Sam refused. Eventually Autumn came. The ghost and the boy spent more time wandering the woods, but never more than a few hours away from the car.

Then came a day when Sam was attacked.

It was broad daylight. There was no warning. Sam had been playing in a stream and was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of dread. He called out and Vinnie, who had been hovering high above came down to find the boy being stalked a vague shape.

“Get out of there Sam! Run!”

Sam ran. The shape followed.

“What’s happening?” Sam shouted to the ghost.

“It’s hungry! Don’t let it touch you!”

Vinnie recognized the creature. He’d seen shapes like it wandering around the other side, but normally they seemed unable to contact, or even notice, the living world. Sam apparently was out of his world enough to be noticed.

Sam scrambled up a steep, rocky incline, using his hands to steady himself. Vinnie waved his disembodied consciousness in front of the thing, trying to distract it. The shapes had never shown any interest in ghosts and that remained the same. It continued after the boy.

At the top of the hill Sam swore under his breath. He turned and looked at the shape. Looking at it sent a cold twisty feeling through his gut. His thoughts began to swirl and darken. His eyes couldn’t focus on the thing, but an impression of a bat or a shark came to him. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes. He jumped toward the thing.

He rained down blows on the shape. It was like punching gelatine, offering little resistance. After a full minute of violence Sam stopped and stood and looked down on the thing that had stopped moving half a minute before, but still hovered a foot above the ground.

Vinnie watched. Sam kicked at the lifeless shape.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

About Captain Chivalry

I just put up a story unrelated to my Sam Dennis ongoing tale. Captain Chivalry versus Doctor Dragon is a story I wrote something like twelve or thirteen years ago, but I never really did anything with it. In a way, it could be said to the first AbatwaX story, so now it is here.

Also, I used a lot more semi-colons back then, apparently.

Captain Chivalry versus Doctor Dragon

Captain Chivalry stood on a rooftop. People on the street below looked up. Mothers whispered to their children, “He saved the city,” “He stopped the explosion,” “He fought the aliens.” The children didn’t understand; such threats were unimportant to them. One man thanked God that the Captain was there to save the day whenever trouble should arise.

Above, the Captain looked out upon the city. Millions of people, he’d saved them all, more than once. He looked down. A crowd had formed at the base of the building. They looked up and pointed and cheered. He leapt to a building across the street. From there he jumped to another. He stopped when he saw smoke rising from a nearby shopping mall. He heard sirens approaching and hesitated, but did decide to react.

Captain Chivalry arrived on the scene. Doctor Dragon and his henchmen were in the mall. A fire had started when Doctor Dragon torched a security guard, nearly killing him. The fire was out now. The henchmen had gathered hostages and were demanding money. They wanted five million dollars in exchange for the thirty-nine lives they held in their hands.

When the Captain appeared one of the henchmen emptied his weapon trying to defeat him. They usually tried this, despite the well-known fact that bullets wouldn’t cut it against the Captain. The superhero fired a blast of force at the attacking henchman; it knocked him unconscious. The criminal would later tell his mother that being knocked out by the Captain’s force had felt like being awakened, startled from a dream.

The Captain had less trouble from the other henchmen; they surrendered the moment they saw him. This was the man they had, as children pretended to be on the playgrounds during recess. This was the man who had saved the lives of their family and friends. This was Captain Chivalry.

Only Doctor Dragon was left unimpressed. He spat fire at the superhero, whose cape burst into flame. This only stood to make the Captain appear even more awesome as he flew across the room and landed a punch in the lizard-man’s scaled face. Doctor Dragon was hurt, but quickly struck back. It took a lot of willpower to keep from wincing in pain as his fist shattered against the hero’s chest.

The two superhuman champions were quite alike. Both despised the abilities they possessed which set them apart from the average person. Both stayed awake at night wondering how being superhuman could make you so much less than human. Both Captain Chivalry, the magical protector of the Earth and Doctor Dragon, mutated, hated petty thief, were alone. If they didn’t disagree on how their powers should be handled, they could have been good friends.

With one more punch the Captain defeated his foe. The police had been present for the clash’s finale. They too were impressed by the sight of Chivalry as he saved the day. The Captain however did not believe he had done such a good job. As he leaped away, his cape reduced to ashes, he prayed that Doctor Dragon would realize the error of living a life of crime. He prayed the henchmen might become more respectful members of society. He scorned himself for not attempting to save these real victims of the crime. If he were the hero the world believed him to be, he would spend less time fighting dragons and aliens and more time fighting evil.