The Touch Comes Second


daemon

   The heavy loose folds of the daemon keeper’s robes, silvery black with hints of a deep green sheen, hunched over the plain moldy basin necromancy center. The white marble of the bowl’s shallow veneer seemed dull, and Arch the Demigod had never seen it quite in such a poor state. He paid particular attention to his breath, and made a choice to think heavily about the air he was breathing in. The room was cold; it was dark in this place (perhaps a darkness he never quite put a finger on); he was alone – still, after all these years, so very alone.

   “Minns,” he croaked. Seconds passed before the sound of a loosening chain around a metal gate clanged into the room from what seemed like several hallways. The slow slides of an old pair of leather sandals scraped across a worn clay floor. Small specks of earthen detritus cracked underneath the feet, and louder and louder they approached before they stopped behind him.

   “Master,” the listless voice of the Demigod’s aged servant drifted into the room. “Your orders.”

   The Demigod took a deep breath and exhaled into the basin. “The child,” he whispered into the . He turned to face the sickly manservant and asked, “do you still have it?”

   The servant began to speak, cleared his throat, and started again. “We do, my liege; it’s still held in the second cellar – the frigid one.”

   A soft growl of approval crawled from the Demigod’s throat. “Mmm, the hour is close.” He stared into the basin still further, tilting his head, looking for remnants of sheen – the sheen that can only come from a soul of the infant. “Bring it,” he said. His voice ended in a guttural slur – a signal of growing tired. Behind him, his servant bowed. The demigod didn’t have to see it. He gave the man an order; it would be carried out.

   The footsteps left his presence, and the metal gate sounded in the back.

   “All this time,” the Demigod said to himself. “All these years, these millennia, and it’s all now. Here. This second.” He stood erect again circled the basin. The light from within had faded immensely over the years, the many years of his kind. “But no longer,” he said looking into the empty dry bowl. This was the bowl within which his kind had once had a reflection, the power of which was used to control them – the masses, the underlings of the Demigods. This power was harnessed within the water. They were a powerful kind; all beings knew that. They had at once known, at least. But the flaw of their kind, given by the Great Fiend, was that only with the reflection could their power be made manifest.

   “….and then it was Garling – the human,” He hissed. Reaching up, the demigod grasped his metal head shield, that which was the source of stories – the stories which made most cower, freeze, and bend in their own fears. A metal skull, masking the true face of death that was his own. When the mask was removed, the demigod looked into the basin with the bones, rotten flesh, and almost-nothing which he had become because of the humans. “But it will not be again, sire,” he said. “Not ever. For when in our kind’s history have we had the blessing of Him to wrestle away one of their kind.”

   A cackle rose from within him when the gate in the backdrop of the darkness was manipulated again.

   “A gift,” he continued replacing his mask and ensured his cowl was set in the appropriate position for the ceremonial act.

   When the servant approached, Arch retook his position at the north side of the Basin of Three. A cooing nuzzled the air behind him.

   “Place him before me, Minns. We’ve waited far too long.”

   The skeletal and withered hands of the servant placed the naked babe into the icy surface of the greying and aging basin and the hand of the demigod stilled the child when it cried out because of the cold. Minns stepped away then, fully aware of the procedure.

   It wasn’t even a handful of receding steps and the prodigious iron claw of the master rose into the air and thundered down into the basin.

   A gush of wet red infused the air and splattered circles across the millennia-old marble floor, pockets of dust jumping into the room as the droplets dropped lazily upon it. In a simultaneous howl, both the demigod and the child roared, the one calling out an exuberant rejoicing at a renewed life, the other a lugubrious cry of it’s own life’s end.

   “Come, Minns!” cried the masked operator. “Come lay witness to our rebirth.”

   The servant crept up to the edge of the basin and looked down.

   Within the small vermillion pool of a shredded child and a thick primordial confusion, the body began to release steam.

   “Sir?” Minns said with question.

   “Yes, yes,” said the demigod. “Can you see it?” The body within the basin began to shrivel and turn, the meat, the skin, the organs, all began, in magnetizing formation, to clump, twirl, and intertwine.

   Minns hurled over, bent, and held his stomach.

   The demigod cackled even more loudly, holding his iron claw over the rising steam produced by the flesh and offal of the shriveling infant once pure human form. A ball of mist, exotic, and colored began to hover there by his palm.

   And in seconds, the inner basin, glossy and beautiful, held a calm violet sheen. In its center a globe, palm sized, lifeless, and dusty.

   The master turned back to his servant. In his hand, now upturned, a pure glow, hovering there, quiet and whole.

   Minns looked at the face of his master and saw no longer an empty withered skull of bone and despondency, but skin, muscle, and sinew. There were now pockets of eyes, brown and intent, and a smirk. He saw a man, young and virile, with blood flowing within him, and a life flowing about his physical aura.

   And then, his human voice loosed from his strong throat.

   “It’s time, Minns. It’s time for payback on what they’ve made us. It’s time to reclaim what is ours. It’s time for their end, and again, our beginning.”

   He clenched his now stronger iron grip around the soft glow, extinguishing it. And in a new brighter darkness. Blood drops, new life, began to fall upon them.

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Bells from Underground


Bells from Underground

by

L. P. Stribling

 

At their knell, the cell gates slide open,

Gritty rusted iron scraping on unforgiving stone.

Prisoners rouse their cold, sweat sodden bodies from the icy concrete of their cages,

The lights underground are present, but lack any infusion of hope,

“Get out, you filth!” The voice of the cell guard’s No. 1 is a soft-rolling

sludge from the mandatory metal speakers which are installed in this place on every seven feet of cavern wall – mind-crushingly thick.

They stand at their cell doors, their toes, blackened and rotten, only up to just before the now open entrance. Even after what this place does, most are still afraid of what would happen if their toes went past the line.

“And Call!” his smoke-heavy voice bails across the underground once more.

All is silent.

“Prison Resident Number…” a pause, “773461.”

Nothing at first. Echoing from the far end of tier six, somewhere out past the visible, tantalizing, but oh-so-dreadful cell line at their toes, there is a slam of metal on metal. Old metal – ore which has returned to stone after centuries of dull and repetitive clanging.

Somewhere, out in the dark origin of that clang, their gloved hands were on the him. Their heavy bludgeoning tools swung on their belts and the smack of their own steel washed toes struck the concrete halls. And in minutes, several quick but excruciating minutes, he would become this place, filling his own hole within a future block of smooth concrete. Atop him thereafter their heels would smack and click, and his pain would help build this cold dark cave.

“Back!” the yell came.

Their toes backed in a bit as the slow iron door rolled back into its own grungy bleak slam. They didn’t cross, though, no matter how slow it was. The dread still hung.

They returned their cold skin to the freeze of the concrete floor. Whom they lay atop few asked anymore.

Three hours more.

Then again they would hear the metal gun sounds of cell guard No. 1. For now they had three hours.

His smoky metal voice sung them to a transitory slumber.

The Making of a Tiefling


tavern

*Translated from Infernal

 

My mind is still my own, still that belonging to the human named Markus Shelling. But beyond that curtain, that dividing blanket which designates the limits of that strict human stage of reality….beyond that, and all praise unto Him, I have become so much more.

I was ah…well, Markus, rather. Yes, I should speak of him in the past tense, as that is where we left him (isn’t it, Master?) was never cut out to be a keeper. This, in Waterdeep Speak, is the term for those business folk who handle the books of other small businesses, taverns, apothecaries, general stores, or any other small establishment of public service. Ledger keeper or Book keeper, perhaps, would be the full term, and with as much quotidian inventory and numerical data which needs keeping track of, it stands to reason that the masses would see this position as one requiring, well, a degree of intellectual acuity.

A keenness which Markus did not possess, and he knew it.

No, the position of keeper was one he inherited with an almost radical reluctance. After all, his great grandfather, Jamison, had been a master of his craft and through the years passed this know-how onto his grandfather and his father. And no-matter his degree of protest, he knew that familial custom demanded his acceptance of the post one day.

There were four in his family. His brother, Craighton, was four years his senior, and his father’s prized son. He had the looks, the propriety, and the intellect which kept the Shelling family name in high esteem. He had merited both academic and athletic accolades at the Waterdeep Junior School and had been accepted to the Sword Coast Grand Academy to pursue a degree of higher learning in Mathematical Sciences. His father fondly recounted his eldest son’s aspirations of returning to Waterdeep to reorganize the books and assist with the water trade deficit. “If there’s anyone who can do it,” his father remarked proudly, “old Craigy can.”

And when he watched his brother ride off on a caravan of packed horses and two ornately bundled carriages, Markus felt a hidden burning of fear inside him. He swallowed hard, knowing that when his brother disappeared, it would only be him and his father. And Markus would be publically facing his own physical barriers.

Because Markus was the ugly antithesis of his brother, and if he didn’t know it himself, his father would be sure to remind him.

“Bring your worthless ass over here you waste of skin!” drunk, he would yell to the winds at Markus’s ears. He would jab a finger several times over into the boy’s head, each time with more force, and say, “And see if you can keep one fucking thing I say in this worthless head of yours.” He would then teach his boy – numbers, figures, addition, subtraction, accounts, balances, and over and again.

And, stuttering, and with deep breaths, Markus would try…he really would, and if he had just a bit more time, he knew that he would probably get it. But his father would wait until one full second before that time, and he would take pleasure in again laying hands to the disappointment before him.

Tears welled in him for nights, weeks on end, and Markus learned to wait until his mother and father slept before weeping to himself, praying:

 

“Oh d-d-d-dear spirits o-of Thy G-g-grand Faerûn, hear m-me, please, h-h-hear m-me….”

 

And when morning came, the looking glass of his water room showed him the aftermath of the fear his eyes exuded from the night before – the subtle pink lines of frayed tears, the lachrymal shades of his living nightmare.

 

“Markus, fix yourself you little shit. Slap yourself right before I do. We’re going into town.”

 

Markus would wipe his face, and turn from the room to answer his father’s commands.

Town days weren’t exceedingly special, but enough to merit a change of pace. His father went in twice a week; his father sat atop the bench to steer the carriage and whip the horses; his boy was expected to stay within the carraiage, ‘so you don’t make a fool out of me,’ was the general reason. Not that Markus argued it at all. He had come to enjoy the ride, and enjoyed what he was able to see of Waterdeep when they arrived.

He would wait in the back, hidden by the canopy of the carriage. Sometimes his father would be gone for several hours, sometimes overnight; at least he wasn’t beaten. But one day, Markus wanted that to change.

“You stay the fuck here, you bag of Sin; you hear me!? I catch you out of this carriage, you’ll need a sickbed and a cleric.” He stepped away toward the general store and continued muttering to himself. “Someone’s got to join me in the laughter.”

As soon as his father was out of sight, Markus snuck out of the carriage and followed him, his heart racing all the while. He watched his father walk down the two full rows of the main strip, Jarkaam Street, sidestepping local shoppers and the workers of the day. He stayed a safe distance behind the squat man, shivering lightly as he watched him spit into the dirt and shoulder past young women and several elderly townsfolk before turning down an alley way and slipping behind a nondescript metal door.

For hours Markus sat outside a small square window only several flickers of a low-burning candle finding his hidden peering eyes. He found a safe quiet spot atop a handful of ale crates – a place where he would be hidden and still learn.

Inside he found his father amid a gathering of well-dressed men, businessmen, each of them giving giddy nervous laughs at odd moments. From outside the glass, Markus caught words like “hidden”, “payment,” “street price,” “coinage,” and “product flow.” All the while the definition of his father’s heinous rictus faded in and out of definition amid thick billows of his own cigar smoke. He passed small sacks of brown paper from the inside of his vest pockets to open hands, each of those handing him thick wads of stained paper bills. The murmur of the dark room’s communal tavern rose and flickered with the short flames of the candles within.

 

“’Scuse me, you go’ a permit?”

 

Markus turned to find a man standing behind him with an immaculate uniform of social status, a small badge of Waterdeep sewn into the fabric at the heart.

“Ah n-n-no, I j-just am-ammm ah,” he struggled to sound normal and slipped from his squatted perch upon the stacked crates of wood where he thought he wouldn’t be noticed.

“Sorry?” the man said. “A permit, sir. This is private property, see?” The man put his hands behind his back.

Markus kicked another small crate to the ground with another nervous jolt of his heart.

The back door of the alley opened and three of the men from within stepped out, their smiles dipping into frowns as they saw the uniformed man.

“Is there a problem, constable?” One of them asked. Then the man turned and saw Markus. He whispered back to several of them inside the doorway, and when Markus’s father emerged, he dipped a hand in a front vest pocket and moved several pieces of gold to the constable’s hand, this accompanied by another of the small pouches Markus had seen from the window.

“Nothing we can’t take care of, constable,” his father said, his eyes burning hatred into his son’s skull. The constable turned and walked away as did the other men in their business attire, and the alleyway was given only to the son and the father.

He beat Markus to within an inch of his life that night.

 

“Fucking failure, ‘as what you are!” To this day I…he remembers being strapped to a long wooden table somewhere underneath the lively chatter, footsteps, and daylight of the city. He remembers the sound of water drops lazily falling into other stagnant pools of water. And he remembers his father’s bloody pair of hands, both open and clenched as they rained upon him.

“William, no! Stop it! He’s not Craighton!” He remembers his mother’s caring form running from somewhere behind him. Moving as fast as her emotions and fibers would allow. And he remembers him silencing her.

“Shut your cow mouth, woman,” his father exclaimed. A thick wave of ale stench washed across Markus’s shackled form before he heard the whip, the thud, the gurgle, and the drunken wheeze of his father as his mother’s still form dropped to the wet unforgiving underground at his side, a long pair of rusty scissors jutting from her neck.

“M-mo-mm-momma?” Markus made out, tears leaking from his eyes and mixing with the fresh blood of his clearly broken nose. “Mm-moomm.”

His father wheezed and Markus heard the familiar swig from a bottle behind him. “Mom-mom-momm-mommma!!” His father mocked in a cackle. “You’re ‘a fuck’n reason f’ ‘is,” he slurred.

 

“Oh m-make it s-st-sop, dear s-spirits,” Markus said to himself.

 

Yes, Markus, there came a whisper in answer Yes. We can do that. If you really want it to stop, of course. It asked.

 

Markus turned his head to the other side of the table from where he heard the voice.

“What you lookin’ at, you foul waste of piss?” his father said, gripping his jaw and spinning his head in a painful torque back to him. Markus sniffled and swam in the tears that fell from his eyes. “M-momm-mo-momm,” he murmured as his father’s deep charred voice mimicked him again, jerking his fingers from his face.

 

Shall we speak? The voice came again.

 

Markus turned back again. “Who are y-you?”

“I’m Daddy!” the drunk man hollered and cocked back a fist and landed it across his son’s tear-filled face.

 

Well, that didn’t get us anywhere, did it? Said the voice again – another whisper, somehow clear through his own fear and drunken blubbering of his father. How about we try answering the question. I’ll remove the annoyance and we’ll chat, yes?

 

Markus turned back to his father and responded. “Y-yess.”

His father was already cocking back for another blow, this one open-handed. “You little waste of pi-“ He grumbled.

 

And in mid swing, his hand at full speed about to strike through his son’s bloodied and tear-swollen face, the drunk man froze – every inch of his body still as though all of time rolled over him.

Markus’s eyes were wide as they watched him, waiting for everything to begin moving again.

“There we are,” came a familiar voice. It was the same quirky soft voice his mind had heard moments earlier, but this came directly to his ears. A small creature, slender-jawed and smiling wide emerged from beneath the table, looking at Markus lovingly with silver pupilless eyes. His crouching form rose to standing and it looked down upon his father from another two feet at the least. “That’s all taken care of then.” His vestments were simple and solid colored, both top and bottom dark enough to match the underground ambiance.

 

“Bit of a nuisance, wasn’t it, the fat little fucker?” He looked at Markus’s father before looking to Markus for a response. “Oh dear, excuse me! As if a manacled man doesn’t have other issues on his mind.” He made a wave of his hand and all Markus saw was the light blue skin of the creature and the long cream-colored nails. Two clinks and the manacles binding him to the table unlatched and fell to the floor.

“Now, Markus, is it? Name’s Kræm, Vinzur Kræm. We need to chat.”

 

Kræm, with magical oration, set it all down then. The Great Lord Fraz-Urb’loo had broken from his imprisonment to find his realm of Hell completely torn apart. They had not only invaded his home, they had ripped through his followers, and they had stolen his treasured staff. None of this, of course, made any sense to me…ahem..to Markus at the time, but it would.

Kræm was not a spirit or a god; he was humble about this (he still is, as I understand, the crafty funny servant), but he served the Great Lord, and was, at that moment, serving him to recruit others to join His cause….and he said the gems of an acceptance were many and glorious….all Markus had to do was agree to serve.

 

“You will be given power beyond power,” he said. His fingers tapped together and his smile was brilliant, white and shone confidence, “and all you desire will be made available at simple request.” He tapped Markus on his lips. “And that little B-b-b-b-babble you g-g-got there will d-d-d-disappear.” Kræam smiled and chuckled then. “Great Lord Urb’loo will grant you charisma, intelligence, deception, among countless other treasures. Just think, Markus!” He said. “Not one human ever will you ever have to compete with for mental supremacy. Talk with any of the weak-minded and they are yours; they are at your bidding. You will own their every thought.” He looked at the frozen form of Markus’s father. “And if they deign to challenge you,” he bent land looked in the man’s eyes until blood, dark and rich, began to slide from the frozen man’s nostrils, “they will wish their tongues never tasted freedom.”

He turned back to Markus. “And you have only but to say the words, and this power, is yours.” He reached out and offered an open hand to Markus. “Say it, boy. Say the words; vow to serve Him always and take the world for your own.”

Markus’s, eyes wide, looked down at his mother’s lifeless form upon the cold stone of the underground floor, then to the red-flowing face of his drunken father’s still form. He began to breath heavily. His eyes began to water, and then, looking at Kræm’s face, Markus dropped to his knees and took the servant’s hand.

“Yes,” he said. “I accept.”

“Good,” said the servant. “You’ve made the right choice. There is, of course, a price, isn’t there? All things have prices,” he said again, this time with the biggest smile he had shone. “But the price you pay will be trivial to the glory the Great One will show you.

“Remember,” were his words, quieter now, almost the voice Markus heard the first time. “All glory you ever receive is His gift to you. You are created, born, and made in this world as He wishes you to be….and He wishes greatness for you.” He then turned to the stilled pitiful drunk that had beaten on the boy and placed a blue clawed hand on his shoulder. The man began to wither and shrink in on himself. The pores of his skin dilated as the skin shrunk and dried splinters and flakes of blood spewed to the ground, burying Markus’s mother in a pile of dried sanguine excrement. The clothes wilted on the shrinking skin and fell away as all limbs were sucked into the hollow stiff body. Vinzur Kræm shook the clothes off and pulled away a long ruddy staff, the body of which, when analyzed, showed fingernails, and small stiffened sinews of muscle cramped into bones, ligaments, and tendons. The top of the staff was a translucent human skull, hollowed, and mouth agape.

“You’ll be needing an Arcane Focus,” said the servant. “Something to help you commune with the Great One and channel your powers…and fuck with good old pops if you’re ever in the mood for a joke. The Great One has an indefatigable sense of humor,” he snorted, slapped Markus on the shoulder . “Now,” he said. “Take this and face me, boy; let’s make this official.”

tiefling

 

[chuckles] It’s all laughable now. It’s only been several months, but that’s how it started. That was where Markus died, and where I began. The Great Lord gave me this remarkable form [chuckles], and these beautiful horns. And a name – Mir, the Infernal term for ‘order.’ “Lord Urb’loo will explain it to you if you last long enough for Him to deem you loyal,” said Kræm. He gave me some clothes and a pack, and sent me on my way. I was to keep my head down and leave Waterdeep.

 

And I’ve been on the road ever since, as Mir, willing only to please the Great Lord, give thanks to Him, fulfill His commands, and enjoy myself along the way.

 

Now, what was your story?

 

 

Night Lights


It’s been quite some time since I felt uneasy, in an odd, frightful sort of way. Legitimately unnerved. This morning was when that happened.

We have to put it into perspective, of course. I’m not talking about me feeling completely petrified. Nothing like that. This was more a feeling of just uneasiness and lack-of-knowledge, something which I couldn’t at the time rationally put my finger on, and thereby created a sense of strangeness inside me. Freaky – that’s the word.

I woke up relatively early. The sun hadn’t yet risen and so my bedroom was still dark. Kerrie was still fast asleep beside me, and I decided to go to the bathroom and start getting ready for the day.

When I walked around the bed and turned down the hallway, I saw light coming from underneath the bedroom door. To give you some sort of idea of the set-up of the house, our bedroom is all the way at one end of the house, leaving only one doorway between us and the house proper.

My first reaction was, Great, one of the guys left the light on before they went to bed last night. Still, another voice inside me thought, Hmm, that’s odd. Odd in a way that distanced itself from human reasoning. Again, I had just woken up and my mind was not sure what to make of it.

I opened the door, resolving to nip the matter in the bud. The main living area of the house was illuminated, but, from my vantage point, I could see only down the hallway. I walked to the end of the hallway, where there was access to the light switch and cut the lights. The house went dark again and I waited, expecting to hear voices of displeasure (if it really was one of the students up doing whatever they weren’t supposed to at that hour).

There was nothing.

I waited a few more moments, chalked it up to forgetfulness on someone’s part from the previous night and began walking back down the hallway to return to the bedroom.

Two heavy thumps from upstairs. I stop.

            Hmm, I think. Strange.

I shake it off, close the door again to the bedroom, and walk back to the bed. Kerrie’s still asleep and I’m clearing my head to figure out how I want the day to proceed. Oh yeah, shower. I head back to the bathroom and stop again when I’m in view of the bedroom door. The light is on again in the house.

That’s weird.

Okay, cool. Let’s just take a trip back to childhood when we got to challenge the ghosts under our bed and in our closet. I walk to the door, open it, walk out to the middle of the house and check out what’s really causing this.

Staircase. I go up.

At the top of the landing, I see one of my “kiddos” hanging out doing his homework. All phantasmagoria dissipates.

“Hi Levi,” he says, arching backwards over the arm of the small couch waving awkwardly.

“Hi Adam,” I say with a sigh as I turn back downstairs.

So that was it, at least as far as I can tell. That was the haunting of my house. Humans – big and small. There’s not much else to it.

I can deal with that. I mean, I’ve been training myself to not be afraid of the dark for all the years since I was, I dunno, eight-ish. I can get over the rest. All these guys have to do is turn out the lights.

Happy New Year! …enjoy some dark poetry!


…and just like that ~ BOOM!  ~ 2013 is done. Damn, that was quick. I hope you all found  yourselves in the company of friends, family, and loved ones during the closing of last year’s curtain.

…and while you were doing that, I was relaxing in the quiet recesses of my own glory writing some sweet dark poetry. WOOT!

scary face
scary face

These poems were published along with an interview over at Inner Sins today. You may find the poems (“Big Bad Wolf“, “Sliver”, and “Red Painted Door”) here, and the interview here.

Here we are. The cycle repeats from the top of January. May this year be productive, healthy, and full of steps toward your dreams.

Attack.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King – a review (spoiler free)


The last time I read a Stephen King novel was probably more than a decade ago, and I didn’t pick up the the first book in The Dark Tower series because I needed to take hold of another Stephen King book. It’s just that when The Dark Tower’s out there calling your name, you can only ignore it for so long.
Before starting out I had heard both the good and the bad about the series. Some told me (my brother included – a man whom I lean on heavily for book reviews and information) that they had read the first book and didn’t find anything worthwhile, that there just wasn’t enough there to pull them in. Then there were the others (mostly people I didn’t know), the masses who loved the story and never wanted it to end.
I can remember for the longest time telling myself, “Yeah, someday I’ll get to it,” but never knowing when that day would come around. Let’s face it, there is that whole deal with length; it is a 7 book series. For those of you out there who have read even a trilogy, you know that reading a series with anything past three (even the three books itself at times) is a commitment. So, yes, I kept putting it off and putting it off, and finally, here I am, in the inchoate stages of my graduate degree program when I start it.
The first book The Gunslinger could have been finished in a day, but I took two and a half. The read was both easy and nostalgic for me. It brought me back to all the familiar flavors that make up the beauty of King’s writing. Before getting into this, I’ll state that before the series, the only King that I had read were stand-alones: things like Misery, Needful Things, Cujo, Carrie, and Skeleton Crew. All of which are solid King books. But I never did a series. I’m trying to think now if King has any other series out there. Some may count the Green Mile as a series; it was when it first came out, in chapter books. There’s a special English word for them, but I forget it now.
Yes, I had read other King goodies, but now it was time. It’s The Dark Tower; it has to be done.
I’m not going to throw out any spoilers here. That always sort of irks me. This is way after the fact. The final book was released in 2004. Yeah, it’s been a while, but you know what. There’s someone out there who hasn’t read it. Some people view it differently, but my statute of limitations expires after 20 years. I’m not the kind of guy to go and see the midnight showing of some highly anticipated movie and then tell everyone about it the next day. There’s a word for that too; it starts with a ‘d’ and ends with an ‘ick’.

I’ve digressed. One of the finer parts of the book was the introduction. King talks about the number 19 and its relevance to the story. He talks mainly about what life was like when he was 19 and the way his ambitious heart oftentimes took off without his being able to control it. He speaks to the young writer who has yet to fall prey to the shackles of the life others want him/her to lead. He speaks to that person and with well-penned words of encouragement, goads them not to turn back, not to listen, not to follow any other direction but that of his/her heart. It’s inspiring, and worth at least a second read.
I’ve only read the first book of The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger. Unlike my brother, it held my attention. I’ll admit that the hold wasn’t as strong as some other books I’ve read, but it really didn’t have to be. In fact, if the hold was inordinately strong with the first book, it would be hard for him to maintain that hold throughout the entire series. King’s smart. The second book, The Drawing of the Three, is in the mail, and I’ll probably have it by the end of the week (thank you, Amazon).
The progression is slow, but methodical. The author’s delivery is simple, but pulls on your curiosity. He walks right where he wants to walk, and you, the reader, walk right along with him, not knowing or caring why. I read this book and thought (and continue to think) Damn, nineteen.

If you’re a fantasy/horror reader or writer, I would aver that The Dark Tower is a series you would benefit from. Don’t keep it on your ‘some day’ shelf forever.