Thursday, December 19, 2019

Greengate Prologue

What follows is the prologue of an old WIP. I touch on Greengate and its locale in a number of my stories. Enjoy.

PROLOGUE TO GREENGATE
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Greengate haunts me still in memory and dream. 

I was five years old playing in the backyard as my mother watched me through the kitchen window. 

Our house was one of ten clustered around the crossroads that we shared with a general store and an old stone church. To the north and east sprawled the gently sloping hills of Pennsylvania, endless orchards of apples and peaches and cherries. Cows grazed in the fields where limestone boulders jutted through the earth like giant broken teeth. To the south and west, the grassy knolls turned into woods of oak and maple that crept up the sides of large steep hills. The range stood to the east, running north and south as far the eye could see. Named South Mountain; it's stream-carved valleys, runs, and roads bore such imaginative names as Dead Woman's Hollow, the Devil's Racecourse, the Black Andes and Horsekiller Road. 

Engrossed in my play under the shade of the old oak, I ran my Tonka trucks over the tree roots that broke through the surface when I looked up and saw the face. 

It was a man's face created out of the leaves and branches of the oak, and it looked down at me without any emotion in its green eyes. With it came the overpowering realization that I was not watching it as much as it was watching me. 

I blinked my eyes and rubbed them to make the illusion go away. I thought it merely a trick of sunlight among the branches. I looked up again, and the face was still there. I felt a gentle breeze at my back, and the eyes blinked as the leaves gently swayed. 

More puzzled than scared, I turned to look at the house where my mother's head stood framed in the window as she bent over her dishes. I looked back at the face, and I looked up at nothing but leaves, branches, and bright sunlight where nothing looked back. 

It is one of the clearest memories of my childhood in Greengate.

Another memory.

Years later, Peter Mackey and I sat on a limestone boulder near the base of South Mountain, sharing penny candy we had bought at Echon's General Store. Peter and I were ten, and we talked about topics such as baseball, our fourth-grade teacher who had paddled Keith Bream in front of the whole class, and the new Johnny Quest cartoon show on television. 

The light dimmed as the sun sank below the Blue Mountain range to the west, its shadow slowly spreading across Greengate. 

Our conversation suddenly stopped when out of the small patch of woods to our right came a stag. 

The woods around Greengate and South Mountain are home to white-tailed deer, and they were a common sight in the fields and orchards, but this was like no deer that Peter and I had ever seen. At least seven feet at the shoulder, Its beauty filled our hearts with joy and awe. 

Our mouths open, not speaking, we stared goggle-eyed at the creature. It walked right by the rock where we sat as if we were invisible. Maybe we were. We watched it until it disappeared in the woods that lead up the slopes of South Mountain. 

Peter and I went home and never mentioned it then or ever again.

And yet, another memory.

I am eighteen years old, still feeling cocky from my high school graduation just the previous Friday. 

"This is for real, right?" I ask Ken once again. "The night before your wedding, you drag me out to an old orchard?" The clouds race against the full moon while Ken Wright stands in rapt attention, searching the darker shadows of the apple trees. The night is alive with a choir of crickets accented by a chorale of fireflies. 

"Do you believe in fairies?" he asks. He smiles at my look of stunned surprise. "Not the ones we see in Disney films or in the children's tales. I'm talking about the fey folk who live between reality and dreams." 

I shrug my shoulders and lie. "I don't have much of an imagination."

He turns his face to the full moon which had washed him clean of color. "Years ago, I saw her. I was eight years old and wandering through the orchard, and I saw her running among the trees. Her hair was as red as autumn apples, and her clothes looked like they had been knit from autumn leaves. 

"When she looked at me, her eyes were wild and dark. I think I fell in love with her then, and at night she still runs through my dreams."

I sadly shake my head. "Tonight is your last night as a bachelor. We should be at a party. We should be drinking your father’s beer, not haunting an apple orchard looking for a will-o'-the-wisp."

My friend continues as if I haven't spoken. "I've remembered her for years, and before I take those vows tomorrow and spend the rest of my life with a woman of flesh and blood, I wanted to put this final dream to rest." 

I clap him on the shoulder. "It's late. You have other dreams to dream." He ignores me. 

"You will want to be well-rested for tomorrow night," I smirk. 

I leave him standing in the moonlight among the apple trees. 

The next morning the wedding party waits nervously at the old church for the bridegroom, his beautiful bride almost in tears. Excusing myself, choking back the mounting fear, I return to the old orchard where I had left my friend the night before. 

I find Ken's body half-fused into the ancient bark of an apple tree, taken in a wooden embrace. 

A gentle smile is his sole expression. 

The next day, I left Greengate and did not return until almost two decades later.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Traveling to Japan!

In just a few hours (Friday, November 8th at 1 am E.S.T.) I will be leaving my home to spend nine days working for Japan CPI at the Tsumagoi Resort in Kakegawa, a city in western Shizuoka Prefecture (the red locator on the map). We will be flying from Baltimore to Detroit and then across the Arctic Circle directly to Chubu Centrair International Airport and then on to Shizuoka


I plan on uploading many pictures of my adventures there, so follow this blog and come along with me.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wolf Hunter: A Short Story


What happens when you combine Norse mythology with Japanese manga? A rather odd piece of flash fiction.


Wolf Hunter 
by Alan Loewen 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 


My name is Vidar, the son of Odin.

You do not remember Ragnarok, the final battle between the Æsir, the gods of old, and the Jötnar, the forces of chaos. I remember it well.

I saw the cosmos destroyed and reborn, and so very few survived. Then the Fates decreed the new world arising from the ashes would never remember the old. They changed the memory of mortals, even in dreams, so no evidence existed of the glory of Asgard except as tales for children.

Yes, I remember Ragnarok when god and giant slew and slew and the killing ended because there were no more to kill. The only survivors were myself, my brother, Váli, and Magni and Modi, the sons of Thor.

We had given ourselves up to the Fates, to let the Norns play out their cruel hand, but we have not died. We have watched the eons flow by us like water and, to our surprise and delight, Mjolnir, Baldr, and his brother Höd have been reborn. As Asgard now lies in uninhabitable ruin, the reborn have joined us in Idavoll.

Hod still stands gifted with prophecy and, some moons ago, he cast the wooden slips. They revealed to us that as we have returned, the monsters would also someday return: Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, and the giants, Surtr and Garmr. And the divination has also revealed the ultimate cruelty of the Norns. Fenris the Wolf has already risen from Hel to walk Midgard once again.

At Ragnarok, I saw Fenris kill my father, Odin, and I tore the demon's jaws apart in my fury and grief. I have sworn a mighty oath the beast will die again at my hands.

Hod told me that Fenris was reborn in a faraway land called Japan, so taking the guise of a mortal, I once again walk Midgard.

This new land is strange. The people, the customs and their gods are peculiar, and I try my best to walk unseen. Yet, I delight in discovering the people in this island nation have an understanding of honor that I treasure.

Hod's prophecy and my oath led me like a beacon. In my inner self, I could sense Fenris lurking in this place. I could smell him.

Finally, in a busy city the people call Tokyo, my spirit told me to sit in a park and wait. Taking my place on a bench, I ignored the people walking by keeping my eyes on the entrance where I knew Fenris would enter.

The moment I sensed him near, the old grief and rage drove me to my feet, but then I stopped in disgust and dismay.

A group of silly young girls had entered the park, giggling and laughing and blocking my view of the monster surely behind them. Yet, I could feel the demon wolf's presence as you mortals feel the hot summer sun on your skin.

It was when the Japanese school girls reached me, I realized the beast was in their midst. I clenched my fists and searched the group for it, but when it met my eyes, I froze in surprise.

And then I laughed. For the first time since I buried Father Odin so many millennia ago, I roared in my sudden knowledge that the Fates can be capricious to those who are evil as well as those who stand on the side of honor.

The dark eyes of a young schoolgirl met mine filled with surprise at my outburst, passed over me in ignorance, and I watched her continue on her way.

I will not kill a child, no matter what her spirit may have been in eons past. Maybe someday when she reaches adulthood, she may remember what she is, and if that happens, I will be ready.

Until then, I drink mead in Idavoll and my brother gods and I toast the Fates who we now know have a sense of black humor to temper the horror they weave of our lives.


(Fenris graphic copyright to J. Humphries. Please peruse his amazing art gallery here.)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

My Libraries ...

Somebody asked about my libraries so allow me to take you on a tour.

A confirmed bibliophile since I could first begin to read, I've collected, lost, and gave away more books than I can remember.


In my office, I have two bookcases, this one handcrafted for me 23 years ago. Consisting mostly of works on theology and ministry, the upper left shelves are dedicated to books about and by Theodore Roosevelt, my personal hero. I may not have appreciated all his politics, but as an individual, his life is certainly to be admired.


The second bookcase in my office this holds my books on business management, my music CD's, and ephemera that covers a plethora of subjects such as neolithic survivals, books on cults, and works on ancient Britain.


These are the three books that are perpetually on my desk. My goal is to read through each one at least once a year; Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Baltasar Gracián's The Art of Worldly Wisdom, and the New American Standard Bible (Updated).


This is my personal bookshelf in my home, and unfortunately, the room is too small for me to back up to capture the entire bookshelf. I would say this contains 95% fiction and the rest containing books to aid in me in my research on my current work in progress. The paperbacks are stacked two deep.

By the bye, this does not take into account books in the storage room, the ebooks on my Kindle eReader or the books stacked up by my bed. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Yes, I Have Been Unusually Quiet.

Allow me to explain:

I can say without superfluous profanity the last four months have been hellish on my family and me with a long bout of personal ill health, four funerals, a sick wife, the protracted death of my beloved dog, and all culminating in the passing of my father.

Needless to say, my nights are consumed by incessant anxiety dreams, several of which contain scenes that will appear altered in future stories. (May as well use them.)

Last night I dreamt I traveled to one of the eastern Asian countries and had an interesting conversation as I passed through customs:
"We have come here to study your country's magnificent volcanoes."
"Ah, yes. Many scientists come. The last one was consumed by a herd of rabbits."
"But ... but rabbits don't eat flesh."
"These ones did."
Now I confess even though I was inspired to get out of bed and write the conversation down immediately, it's a little too silly to use in a story, but the concept is perfect for a horror story: a nonchalant speaker revealing a horrific truth. I could use the idea in so many ways, even in stories that are not specifically horror:
"The coroner says the woman was killed by her Shih Tzu."
"What! But that's just a little dog!"
My partner shrugged. "It's still descended from wolves."
Just an idea. Use it if it works.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Strange Streets: My Best Kept Secret

Strange Streets is a foray into dark fantasy romance where the narrator discovers the object of his unrequited love is not the person he initially thought her to be. A story of 5,380 words, it forms part of my ebook, Rowan Dreaming.

Oddly enough, those who reviewed the ebook make no mention of Strange Streets, and I believe the story to be just as compelling as its companion piece.

I developed the idea when a detour took me through Carlisle, Pennsylvania and I was delighted by all the little odd shops, delis, and restaurants that peppered the main streets. In my story, James and his adopted cousin, Darcy, enjoy a hobby of visiting small, obscure shops in various small towns:
...for the last two years, when she was not assisting her parents in the daily routine of running the family farm, we would take an occasional Saturday and explore the streets of any nearby town or village. Darcy had no interest in malls or the predictable sameness of the chain stores. Instead, she reveled in shops that stood on what she called "strange streets," the tiny little shops and eateries with their quaint, special eccentricities that existed only off the main thoroughfares 
Over the months, we had wandered through Greencastle, Newville, Waynesboro, and other assorted burgs and villages throughout south-central Pennsylvania and even ventured into Maryland. My Ford, always threatening to breathe its last, took us on many an adventure and I took delight in following my enchanting will-o-the-wisp, sharing in her joy when she would find some inconsequential, yet eccentric treasure.
However, in Carlisle, they discover an extraordinary street and an otherworldly adventure that changes both their lives.

The Kindle ebook is yours for a mere 99¢ and can be read immediately on your phone, computer, or tablet with a free Kindle eReader. And Strange Streets is bundled with the novella, Rowan Dreaming, another dark fantasy romance that takes place in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.:
It was just a ball-jointed doll and for pawnbroker, Auden Gray, it was just another item to sell. Until Auden found his business partner dead with the doll in his arms. Investigating, Auden discovers the doll serves as a gateway to a dreamworld so seductive, men die under its spell. And Auden's time is running out as his resolve to discover the origin of the doll crumbles under the allure of Rowan, the dreamworld's sole resident.
The ebook can be yours at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, or whatever Amazon serves your country.

Thank you for allowing me to entertain you. I look forward to doing it again.

And please remember to leave a review, even if just a short note of affirmation. Reviews on Amazon are an independent author's bread and butter.







Wednesday, July 3, 2019

My Free Online Stories


As I write to entertain, I have been guilty of posting stories for free on this blog and here is an easy master list for you to easily find them. If you are entertained, as a I hope you are, please feel free to purchase any of my collections at your nearest Amazon and please do not forget to leave a review. Needless to say, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED! Feel free to link to the stories, but please do not cut and paste, download, or copy.


Complete Short Stories


  1. Gray Matter: A Dark SF Story in Six Paragraphs
  2. The Man Who Loved A Doll: A Parable
  3. The City of Sarkomand, A Guide for the Traveler
  4. Child of Sorrow
  5. Quatermass vs. the Aliens
  6. Nightmare
  7. Fake Memory Challenge--Sixteen Tiny Tales
  8. The Sinister Minister's Thanksgiving Confession
  9. Molly's Christmas: A Story For Children
  10. The Star: A Super Short Christmas Story
  11. A Lord of All Futures Christmas Tale
  12. Diesel-Punk Super Short For Your Amusement
  13. Revelstone 2020: A Cyberpunk Story
  14. Adrift Off The Great Red Spot, 22°51'23.14"S, 98°49'24.40"W
  15. Sheila: A Morality Tale
  16. Jenny, Sweet Jenny
  17. Kill Your Darlings
  18. Timely Revenge
  19. Fifteen Super Short Stories
  20. Wolf Hunter: A Short Story
  21. The Curse: A Flash Fiction of 450 Words
  22. Summer Games: A Short Story
  23. Wild Carrot (humorous short story)
  24. Lair of the White Rabbit (Vignettes)
  25. An Exercise in Insanity (44 Super Short Stories)

Desperate Attempts at Humor (Please Don't Hurt Me)

  1. The Psalter of Saint Brumphrey the Unstable
  2. It Is The Month Of March And My Heart Yearns For Paris
  3. A Writing Exercise From 2011 (Zombies)
  4. Cheerful Company And A Merry Time
  5. Meditating On The Afterlife
  6. The Detective, The Dame, The Diamond, and the Dog
  7. Trekking With My Mother Through The Kohl’s Bra Aisle
  8. Rabbit Barf Cookies or "Get That Man Out of the Kitchen!
  9. Paranormal Romance? Let Me Give It A Shot. Oh, Man, I'VE OFFENDED MYSELF!
  10. The Horror... The Horror... (Teaching at a Homeschool Co-op)
  11. The Many (Supposed) Faces Of The Rev. Craig "Alan" Loewen
  12. Almost ALL My My Little Pony Satires
  13. Spells From Loewen’s Dark Grimoire
  14. My Schnuffel Bunny Intervention
  15. What Is A Bodice Ripper Genre Story?
  16. A Christmas Carol Parody
  17. When It's Superbowl Sunday and You Have No Life
  18. A Day In The Life of Detective Nick Weaver
  19. The Tea Experiment: What Hath My Madness Wrought?
  20. The Rotwang Convention For Mad Scientists
  21. Pepsi
  22. Winter Tales from the Blizzards of 2015 and 2016
  23. Grey Ghost and Doom Storm Reminisce
  24. 10 Pointers When With A Werewolf
  25. My First and Last Interview
  26. Belinda McFate: The Literary World's Weakest Female Character
  27. My Road Trip - Day 344
  28. The Most Common Cause of Death Among Literary Characters
  29. Mrs. McGillicuddy's Home for Unwed Cats
  30. Case Study: Counseling Transcript of Client Blanche Thibodeaux

Fragments

  1. Faydra: A Tale From the Fractured World
  2. Slender Man: An Excerpt From An Old Work
  3. Grave Gate Sample
  4. I Dream of a Cat at a Parisian Bistro
  5. When Imagination Calls (Story Excerpt)
  6. Rat Hunt: A Story Excerpt
  7. Rat Hunt Segment #2
  8. The Lord of All Futures Story Excerpt
  9. Elysia House
  10. Sister Unicorn: A Fable For Adult Children
  11. Doll Wars: The Prologue
  12. The Hunters Three: An Experimental Story
  13. The House: An Excerpt
  14. The Lord of All Futures Story Excerpt

Poetry