I won an award!?

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So apparently my Screenwriting professor had the dean award me for my screenplay version of Show and Tell.

Award

Here’s the Screenplay version if you were curious.

Script Show and Tell

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A New Tome is Found (part 3)

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The elevator doors slowly opened, as if tired, and although unheard, I could almost imagine a ‘phew’ of exertion from it as the doors opened, and the heat from the office washed into the elevator.

As I entered the office, all eyes were riveted on the book in my arms.

The Professor squinted at it warily.

“EmJay, is that…”

I shrugged.

“You tell me.”

Ramon cleared his throat, “Which one is it? We have the Cookbook, so…”

I dropped it on the large desk, the cold it radiated generated light fog which dripped down the edge, to the floor.

The boss leaned over it, chewing her lip as she pondered.

“The Economicon, eh? I think that’s a bit fishy.” She bent to open the book but thought better of it at the last second.
“Want me to ask Hartwood?” Jane enquired.

“Mmh. No,” The Professor returned to her desk and fished through her drawer. “Let’s call Kwok in.”

Pulling a wand from her desk, she stroked it several times, causing it to emit different colors with each stroke. Once it glowed canary yellow, she tapped the book, which slowly began glowing the same shade of yellow.

“It’s safe. Kwok. Now.”

“Yes ma’am,” Jane sat at her desk and flipped through a bulging Rolodex.

“So, you think it’s legit?” I asked, hoping that the answer would be no.

Ramon nodded. “It has the same feel as the Cookbook. Definitely something demonic.”

He opened his messenger’s satchel and pulled out a wooden case. Opening it revealed a well-used art set. With a quick, practiced hand, he sketched a startlingly detailed three-dimensional lockbox and padlock in the center of a magical circle on the surface of the desk. He then reached out and opened it.

“EmJay? If you would…” Ramon gestured grandly to his work.

I nodded and picked up the book and placed it into the lockbox that had until a moment ago, just been a drawing, closed it and closed the wrought iron lock that sat near it, securing it from meddling hands.

“Jane, get that fan on it. We have a new air conditioner for the time being.” The Professor said, turning her attention back to her phone-cum-computer.

Jane shot a thumb up into the air just as she hung up the phone.

“Yes, Boss. Kwok is on his way.” She rose and unplugged the fan, relocating it to the table, then went on a quest for what I assumed was an extension cable.

Now we just have to wait for Mister Kwok.

Another Tome is Found (A Horror’deurve from the Cookbook of the Dead) (edited)

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It was cold.

Not the ‘let’s bundle up and we’ll be sorted’ kind of cold.

It was the kind of cold that cut through you like a knife.

What was unusual about this though, is that it was just a few weeks’ shy of summer, and just a few moments ago, I had been as they say, sweating balls.

This told me that I was getting close to my target, a non-corporeal haunt. For those not in the know, a haunt is almost-but-not-quite a ghost. Sometimes it’s an emotional echo, a leftover bit of rage, ecstasy, jealousy, what have you. These are by far the most common kind of haunt to deal with, but unfortunately, not the kind that has been making mischief for the last month.

The haunt I’ve been sent to deal with is sneaky. Very sneaky. Which is unusual because haunts by-and-large, are unintelligent masses of emotion, and incapable of intelligent thought.

A curl of breath escaped my lips, gradually vanishing as my body temperature dropped to room temperature.

Wait. Let me explain.

I’m what you’d call a specialist in the field of the afterlife. Yeah. Mortimer J. Appel, Necromancer, at your service. Before you get all uptight, keep an open mind. I’m what you’d call a psychopomp. Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant when I started either. It just means I guide the dead to rest. No, not like the reapers. I don’t particularly care about where you go when you die, just that you get there. Ah, but I do have some other abilities…

Anyway, after spending two weeks chasing this thing, I realized it was sensing my life force and fleeing when I got too close.

Which is convenient for me, because all I have to do is die. It’s nothing special. Anyone can do it, the trick is coming back, and not just anyone can do that.

So now, the detachment that comes along with death dulls the pain.

Oh, it’s still there. I can feel it if I care to. There’s power in pain. It can drive a man onwards when all he wants to do is lie down. I’m not at the point where that’s necessary though.

Revenancy. That’s the name for the state I’m in right now. It’s your basic intelligent undead. A few steps above zombie, a few steps below Vampire. …The purebloods, that is.

Common vampires are just barely smarter than zombies, not even considered people, they’re just smelly, faster, smarter zombies that crave blood. Don’t get me started! Vampires are a huge problem for Necromancers, and I don’t care to explain why just yet, it’s embarrassing.

Anyway, now that I’ve cast loose the life in me, I found that the haunt has become less evasive. What I didn’t expect was the emotions it pushed outwards, the Book that it orbited, or the fact that it wasn’t alone. A dozen haunts slowly circled the floating Tome

I took it into my hands, wiped away the layer of frost that covered its heavy leather cover and read its title:

The Economicon: The Economics of the Dead

I applied spiritual pressure on the haunts that hovered nearby, and felt them transfer their emotion onto me. I paused, because the emotions were unlike any I had absorbed before. They tasted like a complex combination of depression, resignation, and something else foreign to me. As I processed the emotions, the haunts faded away, finally free.

I tucked the book into the large pocket inside the breast pocket of the khaki overcoat I usually wore when out on a job, and headed back to the office. The glittery black eyes of Nathan, my driver flicked my way as I sat with a grunt in the back seat and shut the door with a little more force than expected.

“Everything alright?” He said, pulling out and heading downtown.

“Things got a little weird, but we’re good. Get us home, take the scenic route, I’m going to res.”

“Sure thing. I’ll wake you when we arrive.”

I’m gonna need some help with this one. I buckled my seatbelt, and began the process to return to life.

“Let the boss know I’m heading in, and we’re going to need a staff meeting.”

“Yes sir,” Nathan’s eyes cleared to appear normal as he drove.

A very delicious fruit – A Horror D’ouevre from the Cookbook of the Dead

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On a random Tuesday, the wife decided that we needed to look at a house that was for sale, so I rode along as we cruised through middle-classed suburban homes that became older as we progressed. Old architectural styles marked the years like rings on a tree. Finally we stopped in front of one, with a disinterested looking middle-aged man who watered the lawn with a hand-held sprayer. Coming to a stop, I released the seatbelt, it’s whizz and snap as it sprung to it’s resting spot spurred me outside into to the warm spring afternoon.

I waved my hand to the man who nodded to me and dropped the hose, and headed inside through the garage, past a well maintained 1949 Buick Roadmaster, beckoning me as he went.

I could  not help but notice the tree that stood on the yard as I passed by. What’s unusual about that is that I had somehow managed to completely miss it. Despite being spring, it’s branches held fruit that despite my best efforts, I could not identify. Then it hit me, the scent was as if I were being caressed by sensual hands made of warm sunlight. I detoured briefly and plucked one from it’s boughs and found that it’s skin was faintly furry, like a peach, but softer than velvet. I rubbed it against my shirt to polish away the fuzz, and take a bite, but was pulled from my reverie by the home owner clearing his throat.

I blinked my eyes, the spell broken. With an embarrassed grin, I followed him inside. The house, on the inside was one part faux log cabin and one part experimental art, with unusual carvings scrolling around the room in the rounded surfaces of the logs that formed the walls. My wife took to the carvings with interest, which seemed unusual to me because she was usually a philistine about such things. I glanced at the flyer for the house that I printed and failed to identify anything in the pictures.

“Ah. Well.” The home owner began. “Since you saw the tree, I suppose I should give you a little explanation.”

Glancing back at the fruit in my hand, I took a bite. The homeowner reached out to stop me, but was too slow.

The flavor struck me like a double shot of whiskey. The good stuff too. I felt a warm glow glow into my stomach. I had never tasted anything like it before, it’s flavor somehow complex and simple at the same time. I knew I was hooked in a very real way.

The man continued, “I’m the custodian of that tree. And like you, I ate that fruit.” His eyes flicked to the fruit that now dripped nectar down my hand into the floor, then back to me. “You’re addicted to the fruit, as I’m sure you realize by now. So I’ll get down to brass tacks here. You’re buying the house, and I’m finally going to be free.”

I started to argue the point, but in my heart I knew he was right. However, I felt as if I were missing something important. Ah!

“How are you getting free of it? Is there some sort of drug?” I asked.

“Yes and no. After a while the strength of the addiction weakens, and then something can be done about it.”

“How long is a while?”

“For me? Thirty years. I got suckered into eating the fruit three decades ago.”

I was floored. He must have been a child when he got addicted.

“But today, I found my replacement, and my cure is en route.” He smiled.

A knock on the door rang out.

“That must be him now.” He dashed to the door and opened it eagerly.

“Ah! It’s been a while, come in!” He ushered in an ancient looking Asian man dressed in casual clothes and a slightly worn looking tweed jacket.

The new man looked at me, appraisingly, “Is this the new caretaker?”

“Yes! After all this time, yes!”

The old man glanced at the gnawed-on fruit I held, and back at me, almost pityingly. “It would seem so.” He pulled a metal flask from inside his jacket and handed it to the waiting hands of the home owner, who shakily opened it and began gulping its contents with gusto.

A startling transformation took hold of him, his hair began streaking, until all of his hair was a uniform grey, and his skin lost its luster as it sagged and became liver-spotted and wrinkled with age. The once middle-aged man was now fully in the golden years of his life.

“Well, you’re free to go. Enjoy what life you have left.”

“Damn right.” The man took a briefcase from behind one of the couches, a hat from the rack by the door, and left without another word, into the garage, where his equally ancient car rumbled into life, and was heard crunching away on the gravel driveway.

“Well,” The old Asian man said, “Let’s get you up to speed.”

He sat on a couch, and gestured for me to join him.

All of this was taking its toll on me, and I sat across from him, for the stability of it, if nothing else.

“My name is Hyunsung Kwok. You can just call me Kwok. I am a merchant-mage. It’s been my business to buy the fruit from that tree from its caretaker for many years now.”

I managed to blurt out what I had hoped was a reasonable question, but as my head was now spinning, I expect was somewhat less so. I can’t even remember what it was, because I swung my head about, to see my wife silently poking around the room, completely oblivious to what had just happened, or the exchange of people in the room.

“Ah, your wife, I suppose? She won’t see or remember any of this.”

A sound, a very minute sound, suddenly came to my attention, despite the overwhelming situation that had presented itself to me. I noticed that small black, shiny beetles had crawled out from under furniture and were swarming about.

“Mr, …ah, what was your name?” The old man prompted.

“Gonzalez.”

“Good. Mr. Gonzalez. The old caretaker’s magic left with him, and the tree needs protecting.” He pulled a large book from within his coat, although how it managed to fit there was a mystery.

“Magic?” I managed to say.

“Yes. And this book will teach you all you need to know in order to take care of the tree and property.”

“Oh, and before I forget…” He pulled out a thick envelope from his jacket, “Your payment for this years harvest.”

Kwok stood and straightened his jacket, “Some advice. Don’t stray too far from the house for very long. The tree needs you nearby. oh, a few hours here and there are fine. You can still go shopping, and to the movies, but the longer you’re gone, the tree will make you feel anxious, and it will get worse as time goes by. It would be very bad to ignore it. So don’t.”

“What about my wife?”

Kwok glanced to her. “She cant see the tree. Don’t let her eat the fruit. It will end badly.”

Looking back in my direction, he pointed to the book that now sat on the couch. “Start reading. Take it seriously. This is your life now. Once the tree chooses a new caretaker, I can free you.”

He opened the door and left just as suddenly as he had arrived.

“Hey, do you think we can haggle the owner down on the price?” My wife asked, sitting on the couch.

I watched in horror as the beetles that were now everywhere began crawling up her legs.

“I know we can, and in fact, I did. Go home and get your stuff, we’re going to give this place a spring cleaning.” I stroked her gently, trying to knock the beetles off of her without drawing attention to them.

“Great! I have a good feeling about this place.” She kissed me and left to complete her mission.

I sat there, and opened the book that Kwok had left for me.

“I’m glad one of us does.”