Midweek Musings 1×01

Hey, Mobsters! Welcome to a brand new feature Ruth and I have been slowly cooking up for your muse-ical enjoyment:

Midweek Musings

As some of you may have determined, we are music fiends. We not only love listening to it, we love writing to it. For me, a turn of phrase – be it musical or lyrical – can take my mind on a journey.

One of the biggest examples I have of this is the band I’ve chosen to debut Midweek Musings with. Back in August 2006, I picked up Breaking Benjamin’s newest album, Phobia. I was already a diehard fan, but this album dropped in the midst of a personal shit storm. I was trying my damndest to get divorced, I was raising a kid on the skinniest of shoestring budgets, and then in mid 2007, my father passed away…

Through that time, I found comfort in the dark lyrics, the pounding beats, the heavy guitars of Phobia. They combined to take me to a new place – we’ll call it, Novelland. In Novelland, guess what I did? I wrote a damn novel. My very first (of currently two, but hopefully many).

Eight years later (good Lord), and almost six since their last release, I’ve waited a mighty long time for a new BB album. I’m three tracks in, impatiently waiting for the June release. So far, sooo good.

Here is Breaking Benjamin’s newest track, “Defeated”, from their upcoming album, Dark Before Dawn:

“Defeated”

Slip away, your vanity is gone, I’m falling out of place
We all fall down, the pain goes on
We bear through the war and turn the lost away
We all fall down, the pain goes on

And I’ll be the fire that dries the flood

As I fight for one last prayer, I’ll keep holding on
No love to believe in
As I drag the Devil down, I will stand alone
No longer defeated

Stripped away, we rise above it all, forgotten and betrayed
We all fall down, the pain goes on
No better than before, still broken and afraid
We all fall down, the pain goes on

And I’ll be the cloud that hides the sun

As I fight for one last prayer, I’ll keep holding on
No love to believe in
As I drag the Devil down, I will stand alone
No longer defeated

I’m falling to pieces, pained and used
I know what I needed, it’s not you
It’s not you

As I fight for one last prayer, I’ll keep holding on
No love to believe in
As I drag the Devil down, I will stand alone
No longer defeated

No longer defeated
No longer defeated

But Cara… What do we do with this musical offering??

As far as we’re concerned? Anything you want! This is an un-judged (non-judged?) writing event. Write whatever the music inspires. Just one caveat: For the sake of our comments, keep your word count to 1K. We’ll actively be looking for your stories between now and next week, when Ruth takes over the musical selection and offers new musical fuel for the writing fires.

Beyond that, have fun!

Post your musings in the comment section below.

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16 thoughts on “Midweek Musings 1×01

  1. No Prayer

    Beep. Beep. Beep. Whoosh. Beep. Beep. Beep. Whoosh.

    The sounds drove Sinjen mad—the regularity, the impersonal noise, the supremacy of death over life.

    Roman griped his shoulder. “You need to feed.”

    “No.”

    Cold plastic hit his cheek and fell unheeded to the floor.

    “Dammit, dude. The gargoyle is right. You need the blood.” Caleb scooped the blood bag off the floor and waggled in front of him. “You wasting away in your stubbornness is not going to help Sade.”

    His hand snaked out, grasping the werewolf around his throat “This is your fault.”

    The pressure on his shoulder increased—enough that a mortal man would have shattered beneath the pain. Sinjen felt nothing. His life, his very existence lay in that hospital bed, machines breathing for her, beating her heart, keeping her alive. He eased his grip, allowing Caleb to breathe.

    “This is no one’s fault, Sinjen.” Roman’s measured voice grounded him. “Let Caleb go, my friend.”

    Female fluttering jarred the corner of his vision. Adele, Caleb’s mate. Savannah, the witch who had saved Roman’s heart. Both stood in the doorway, uncertain of their welcome. The small room turned claustrophobic. All he needed now was his sire and that damn dragon.

    Cold silence washed over his skin and Sinjen remembered belatedly to be careful what he wished for. He released Caleb and the wolf immediately scrambled away. The women disappeared, ushered out by their mates.

    “Are you prepared to let her go?” The vampire who’d changed his life almost a millennium before stood beside him, gaze fixed on the body swathed in bandages and tied with tubing and wires like some macabre travesty of a BDSM scene.

    “No, Mathias. I am not.”

    “Then you know what to do.” The frigid air warmed and sound returned. Mathias had disappeared.

    “What did he mean?”

    The dragon. Of course. Now his day was complete. “Nothing.”

    A string of Greek curses filled the quiet between the noises of the machines and power surged. Nikos Constantine, Drakon of Clan Kholikikos, was not one to be satisfied with his non-answer.

    “Will Mathias turn her?” The temperature in the room surged in direct proportion to the dragon’s anger.

    “You are mated to another, Constantine. You have no say in Sade’s life. You never have, despite your feeble attempts to insert yourself.”

    Another, particularly vicious curse snarled from Nikos’s mouth. “She is a friend, St. John. One of the few humans I consider as such. I will ask again. Will Mathias turn her?”

    Sinjen turned his head to stare at the dragon. Nikos recoiled from the expression he wore. “No. He expects me to do it.”

    Nikos sat down—hard—on a chair. “You?”

    “Yes.”

    “But why?”

    “Because then he will have further power over me.” Sinjen scrubbed his fingers through his unkempt hair. “I have turned one human in all my years. One. When he was killed in New Orleans—”

    “The Legate? He was yours?” Nikos watched Sade before his gaze strayed to the lights on the machines keeping her alive. Eventually, his eyes met Sinjen’s. “I first met Sade there, when she came to investigate. I lost one of mine as well.”

    He fought the surge of jealousy. True the dragon had met her first, but it was his arms in which Sade sought both comfort and completion. He clung to that fact.

    “I love her.” The dragon’s voice sounded like sandpaper and grated across Sinjen’s skin. “She was never mine,” he continued. “Never meant to be. But still, I loved her. Her spirit. Her heart. She was undefeated.” He pushed wearily to his feet. “Until now. I will mourn her and say prayers for her safe passage to the next life.”

    He didn’t acknowledge the dragon’s leaving. Stillness shrouded the room once more. All but those infernal machines.

    Beep. Beep. Beep. Whoosh. Beep. Beep. Beep. Whoosh.

    Could he let her go? Free her soul? Or was he too selfish to do so.There was no prayers strong enough to save his own soul. The time had come to decide.

    ****
    675 words from a book far in the future, the the Penumbra Papers urban fantasy world (And no. I have no clue what choice Sinjen will make.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • OMFG. Silver James. How “far in the future” are we talking here?? Who cares about typos in a world this rich? (I’m kidding… I always care about typos. Ask Siobhan.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • First two Penumbra Papers books are out: THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC and SEASON OF THE WITCH. The next books, THE DEVIL’S CUT is Caleb’s story and is out late summer/fall. Then there’s Roman’s story, a novella where Sinjen and Nikos go head-to-head over Sade, Ariel’s story, Nikos’ story, maybe a few more novellas. All I know is BLEEDING LOVE is the last book in the series, whenever that is. Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m mean and evil. I need to write faster. Or shorter. LOLOL

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “What—” He choked on the word, his gaze focused somewhere far from this room of blood and chaos. “What did you do?”

    “What I had to do.”

    My words, or maybe my tone, dragged his attention to me. The vampire’s corpse, her head smoldering, lay between us.

    “So this is a victory?” His blue eyes narrowed, but I didn’t know what he searched for. “You’re the hero of the day?”

    “I suppose.” My shoulders felt as though I carried a load of bricks. “I dunno.”

    “You saved us all from a sick woman.” He scoffed. “Well done.”

    “Sick?” I dragged a humorless laugh from the acidic pit of my stomach. “Did she really get that deep in your head?”

    “She needed our help.” He rubbed his temples. “She just needed—didn’t she?”

    “Not so much, English,” I said.

    “Everything’s foggy. What the hell happened?”

    “Short answer?”

    He nodded.

    “She hypnotized you.”

    “Why?”

    “So she could eat you without any of your pesky objections to appeal to whatever moral fiber she had left.”

    I didn’t wonder out loud if she’d truly meant to kill me. That was a conversation to have with the higher Iris powers. A targeted strike against an Iris was way above my pay grade, and vamps could absolutely carry out an assassination. Vamps who’d been around long enough to learn a ruthless level of self-control.

    Yeah, there was the rub.

    A newborn vamp had anything but control. Yet this one’s frenzy had subsided the moment she’d recognized me as an Iris.

    You came. He knew you would.

    The words ate at my gut.

    Could someone make a vampire with—what? Pre-programming? Maybe another vampire could induce that hypnotic state and then turn someone, but I just didn’t know. The worms affected the human vocal chords. The impact on the human ear best resembled the fabled song of the siren. For the vampire, their voice essentially removed all resistance from the prey.

    I had to bless my nonhuman ancestry. Sometimes it was the only thing that gave me an edge in these fights. But now the only person with answers had two flaming holes in her cranium, so I’d have to outsource this problem.

    I’d have to talk to Jackson.

    The only vampire I counted as a friend, Haruki Jackson had been managing the unfortunate change in her mortality and dietary needs since World War II. She might know just how far a vampire’s hypnosis could go. Damn, but it messed with my world view. Everything changed if vampires could be created with a singular purpose.

    “You’re contemplating an awful lot over there.”

    My gaze slid up to meet his.

    “I suppose.” I scraped my hair back into a mess of a ponytail and fished a black elastic band out of my bag. It bought me time to give him an answer as far removed from the truth as I could get. “I need to find Carlisle. Get this mountain of paperwork started.”

    “She’s more than paperwork.”

    The bare disbelief in his tone accused me of terrible things. Coldblooded. Heartless. Murderer.

    One of the three was true.

    “Fuck, man,” I said softly. “I know that.” My shoulders rolled inward reflexively. I didn’t need his two cents to hate how this night ended. “How can you think I don’t know that?”

    I said the last to myself, but maybe he heard me. His heavy arm wrapped around my shoulders. He hugged me to his side and let go.

    “I’m sorry,” he said. “You saved us. In a no bullshit or sarcasm sort of way. And Mariele—” He sighed. “She wouldn’t have wanted a vampire life. So you saved her, too.”

    “If you think you’re making me feel better, you’re wrong.” Don’t be nice to me, you idiot. I just murdered your friend. “You should go home, English. Mourn your dead and move on.”

    “No. Whoever did this to my friend has a reckoning coming.” He bared his teeth. “I will be there. And I will do whatever it takes to bring the fucker down.”

    “Good luck.” I meant it, in some apathetic way. “You’ll probably need it.”

    “You’re down. I get that.” He struggled to hold back tears.

    Oh, I was so far down, I was surprised I could still see the surface of the earth. I should be staring at the outer core, or at least the mantle. I needed time to myself, time to recoup.

    We’re down,” he continued. “Both of us. But we’re not out, Iris. I am with you all the way to the end.”

    “Kelly!”

    Oh, thank the gods. Saved by the Miami P.D. I couldn’t handle any more earnest conversation tonight.

    “It’s about time, Carlisle,” I said, turning to my favorite cop in the world. For more reasons than saving me from uncomfortable conversations. “Where the fuck have you been?”

    @caramichaels
    809 words

    Liked by 2 people

  3. BURNED

    You know you’ve made it to the bigs when the smoke shop truck comes to you. And we’re not talking delivery. We’re talking pick up. But the thing you don’t count on is that making it to the bigs and staying in the bigs are two different things.

    Nate Hendricks realizes the difference the moment he sees Johnny Brava coming down the street. But big balls don’t imply big brains. Not in the way big feet imply a big dick. Not that Hendricks gets it. What he gets is that he has his big balls in one palm and a big wad of cash from the smoke shop in the other, so he’s feeling no pain and could give a shit about brains.

    He stands there in his driveway, his dumbass grin highlighted by the glow of the smoke shop truck’s brake lights, feeling like the big man on the block, feeling like he can take on the world, take on Brava even. After all, Brava is just another thug, right? So no reason to worry.

    And for a few minutes, one or two at least, his crew believes it too and stands beside him, ready to go to blows if it comes to that. A couple of them are ignorant enough to want it to come to that, but those are the guys new to this game and to this neighborhood, the guys who don’t know better.

    But when Brava reaches Hendricks’ house and stands out front, unassuming in his jeans and white wife-beater, Hendricks’ crew takes a step back, away from Brava, away from Hendricks, away from the impending brouhaha.

    “Nice evening,” Brava says, shoulders relaxed, hands in the pockets of his jeans.

    “Yep,” says Hendricks, momentarily quiet despite his earlier bravado.

    ”Kind of evening folks enjoy stretching their legs, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, and maybe swapping commentary on the weather.”

    Hendricks keeps silent, baffled by the direction of the conversation.
    Brava nods to Hendricks’ crew. “You do any barbecuing over here on weekends?”

    One of the guys nods affirmative. Couple of them glance at the door that leads into the back yard.

    Brava smiles encouragingly. “Right on. Nothing like a grilled steak, is there?”

    Hendricks finds his voice. “This ain’t no steak house, Brava.”

    “Course not,” Brava shrugs. “Just wondering whether you have a spare propane tank I could borrow?”

    ”Sure, there’s one out back,” one of the guys speaks up.

    “Shut up, peckerwood,” someone else says, but it’s too late and everybody knows it.

    “I’ll get it refilled and bring it back tomorrow,” says Brava, stepping onto the driveway.

    Hendricks moves to block him but Brava is already in motion and nobody in Hendricks’ crew intercepts him.

    Brava reaches the back door, opens it, and moves into Hendricks’ back yard.

    Hendricks nuts up then, trips over his dick and his pride trying to get out that door and gauge Brava’s expression. But all the fuss is for nothing.

    As though the yard full of shoulder high pot plants doesn’t faze him, Brava jerks a thumb towards the rusty barbecue and says, “That the spare tank?”

    Hendricks answers in spite of himself. “That’s it.”

    ”Cool,” Brava says, reaching down to unhook the tank from the barbeque and then reaching into his pocket for a pack of smokes. “You got a light?”

    Hendricks snaps, finally. “The fuck are you doing, Brava? Pushing your way in here, running over my crew, borrowing my shit.”

    Brava laughs. “You’re kidding me, right? I haven’t been anything but conversational. You need to lighten up, bud.”

    “Yeah, whatever. I can play the good neighbor bullshit too. Go ahead. Take my tank, take my lighter, and then get off my property.”

    “Sure thing,” Brava says, putting a cigarette between his lips and returning the pack to his pocket. “Didn’t mean to overstep, Hendricks. My apologies.”

    Hendricks tosses him a lighter.

    Brava catches it with one hand, yanks the propane tank up off the ground, holds the hose nozzle to the lighter flame and directs the blaze into the heart of Hendricks’ grow.

    The next few seconds are filled with noise, smoke, and the pungent stench of burning foliage. When it’s over, the yard is a scorched barren wasteland.

    Brava pitches the tank towards the barbecue and tosses the lighter to Hendricks. “What you do in your own house is your business. But when you do something that affects the reputation of this neighborhood, that’s my business. If I ever see the smoke shop truck in this neighborhood again, it will be more than your crop I burn to the ground. We clear?”

    Hendricks doesn’t answer. Can’t say a damn word on account of his balls being stuck in his throat.

    Brava doesn’t wait for a response. He walks back into the garage, down the driveway, and off down the sidewalk.

    Hendricks follows, stands in the driveway and watches Brava head home.

    Half way down the street, the kindergarten teacher, Valentia Jimenez, comes out of her house, sleek as a cat in her yoga gear. “Everything okay, Brava? I heard a ruckus while I was in the shower.”

    Brava waves to her, a paragon of neighborly perfection. “Nothing to worry about, Miss Jimenez.”

    Valentia steps off her porch and the breeze stirs her still damp dark hair. “Thank goodness. The parent-teacher conferences have me off kilter this week. Thought maybe I’d missed the block party.”

    “That’s next week,” Brava chuckles. “But hey, tell you what. I got pork chops and potatoes in the oven. Wouldn’t be no trouble to bring you a plate.”

    She leans on her white picket fence. “Oh, I don’t want to impose, Brava, but that would be lovely.”

    “Like I said, no trouble. Give me ten minutes and I’ll have it plated and at your door.”

    The way Jimenez smiles at Brava, face lit up like the fourth of July, yanks Hendricks by the short hairs. Fucking Johnny Brava. The guy was a real piece of work. He turns around to say as much to his crew, but they’re gone. Just like his weed and his dreams of street cred.

    You know how it is. One moment your balls are good as gold and the next, you can’t get your shriveled up shit sold.

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / a smidge over 1k

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: #MidweekMusings 1×01 : Defeated | My Soul's Tears

  5. “Define defeat.”

    I stared into my eyes in the mirror, and heard that voice in my head.

    “Define defeat.”

    Chaos. A cacophony of thoughts, of feelings, of beliefs erupted inside me. “I’ve lost everything.”

    “Everything?”

    “Yes.” The flash of anger I saw in my eyes shocked me. I’d never noticed such violent emotions in myself before. “Everything.”

    “Have you?” Such an innocent question. Such a simple question. “Have you?” That damn thought echoed through my mind. My hands shook. My heart raced.

    “Everything I was! Everything I had! Everything I built!” I’d never known I could feel such anger. I wondered where it came from. What powered it. What fueled it.

    And that damn question echoed through me again. “Have you?”

    “I worked so hard to take care of them!” That was my answer. Them. Everything was for them. Everything was to take care of them. Help them. Give them what they wanted. Hold them when they needed holding. Dry their tears when they cried. Give them the means, the tools, the inner strength needed for happiness. To smile. To live. To love. To be what they wished. Do what they wished.

    “Have you lost everything?”

    “I can’t take care of them anymore!” I was a failure. I’d failed. Everything had imploded. My job, gone. My income, wiped out. I wasn’t taking them to the doctor when they got sick. No. Not anymore. This time, it was me. Visiting the doctor endlessly.

    What did I feel? Numb? Broken? Defeated? A failure? I heard the words of my doctor, “All his greatest fears have come true.”

    Was that it? Was I afraid?

    “Do you remember?” I stared into the eyes looking back at me. “The nights you couldn’t sleep. The endless days.”

    I remembered headaches. Every day I went to work. I remembered eating naproxen pills, two of them, every morning when I reached my desk. Before I did anything else. I remembered, the pills didn’t help. The headache was always there.

    I remembered nights. Spent with my eyes open. Staring at the ceiling. Not seeing anything. Not thinking anything. Wondering if I could ever sleep. Wondering if I’d stagger to work having been awake all night. If I could function on three or four hours of sleep. Wishing I could close my eyes, and dream. Just for one night. But sleep never came, until I passed out from sheer exhaustion. Until I pulled the covers up, and without thinking, without trying. Without turning out the lights, turning off the TV, brushing my teeth, or any of the things I did to get to sleep. I pulled the covers up, and passed out.

    It was the only time I slept.

    “Have you lost everything?” echoed through my mind. “Or have you found something?” My eyes in the mirror wouldn’t let me go. “Have you found something?”

    I knew the truth. I knew what had happened. I knew what I’d done to make everything happen. To make everything inevitable. I knew I wanted out of the work I’d had for years. I wanted change. I wanted a question answered.

    “What about me?”

    Every decision I’d made, everything I’d done, for nearly 30 years, was never about me. Never had been. Never what I wanted. What I felt. What I believed. Everything had always been to care for someone around me. To help someone around me.

    “What about me?”

    I’d never seen such fear in any eyes I’d ever studied. Such confusion. “How hurt am I?”

    I didn’t know. Staring at my eyes I saw a lost little boy. A child. Wounded. Confused.

    “I don’t even know who I am.” That changed everything. Every part of me “I don’t know who I am.”

    And that voice in my head laughed. “Now I can change.”

    I’d lost my life. The life I’d worked so hard to build. The life I the world taught me to want. The one we’re all supposed to want. That dream, of a family, a job, success. It was gone. All of it. Burned to the ground, turned to ash.

    “I’m free.”

    As I stared into my eyes, the chaos faded, the cacophony grew silent. Until there was only me. The lost little boy. “Now. I’m free.” I actually smiled. I hadn’t smiled in days. I couldn’t remember when. I couldn’t remember feeling anything but anger. Burning through my blood.

    And I smiled.

    “Now, I’m free. To learn. To grow. To be.”

    I wasn’t defeated. I wasn’t broken. I hadn’t lost everything. I’d gained everything. I’d broken free from the life I’d been trapped in. The life that owned me. Suddenly, I was free. To feel. And to learn the answer to that question I’d never answered.

    “Who am I?”

    789 Words
    @LurchMunster

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love this, Mark! Stripped down and completely honest. I feel there a great deal of non-fiction in it, and that makes it all the more poignant. 🙂

      Like

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