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And the Award for Worst Blogger Goes To

Has it really been two full months since I’ve updated this thing?

Yeah, it has. Usually I try to pass the buck and say, “Well, nothing has really happened since we last spoke” and then try to invent ways to make myself sound semi-productive, but the truth is, stuff did happen.

Let’s start with the release of Caldera 5 Audible!
Yay

Caldera 5 Audible

And…the release of Caldera 6 Audible.

C6 Audible

So, there’s that. And yes, Max is cleaning off a spot to fit in C7 and the rest when his schedule allows.

You really think I would have been all over those, right? I mean, I always tell you that I’ll announce here and at Facebook but once again, I dropped the ball.

In other news…Caldera 12 has been finished and sent to editing. It’s bounced back and forth and has gone into the que with the publisher. I think we’re looking at a June release for that. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see it out around my birthday.

C12

For those of you who have been following along, this ends the Caldera series. I left enough of the characters alive that I could maybe one day go back and address them again, but really, what more could be told after twelve stories?

I’ve broken ground on Bridger’s next escapade. Some of his partners in crime will be returning and a whole slew of new characters will be added to the fold for this story. Special thanks go out to Phil Sammons, DJ White, Lisa Vasquez, Matt Laughlin, Gregg Soares, David Mauk and my childhood friend Mario Gomez for allowing me to use their names for characters. They’re all bad asses in more way than one!

Once I wrap up Bridger 2, I want to move on to other projects that are rattling around in the old noodle and use Bridger 3 as a sort of reprieve for those times that stories go stale or I just need to step away. Believe it or not, that was how Caldera came into being. I had no desire to write any kind of zombie story but when I’d get burned out on the Monster Squad, I turned to another idea just to clear my mind. Before I knew it, Caldera was born and you see what it turned into.

So, enough prattling and apologizing. I won’t promise that I’ll do better but I will promise that I’ll TRY to be better at keeping this place kept up with all of the latest and greatest news and ideas.

Until then, here’s wishing you much love, luck and bacon!

Heath

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Jeep Edition

As you can tell by the title, I’m wasting time. I should be penning the end of Caldera 12, but sometimes you just can’t force yourself to do what needs doing. You sit at the computer and the next thing you know, you’re surfing cat videos on the web.

Most of you know, I’m a car guy. Especially Jeeps. And Broncos. And Mustangs. And classics and muscle cars and big trucks and… yeah. It’s an addiction.

Anywho, I’ve been adding stuff to my wife’s newest Jeep. She named it Fred. Considering we almost named one of our twin girls Fred, know that my wife has a real affection for that name. So, I’m surfing eBay and Jeep 4X4 catalogs and ordering stuff I shouldn’t be and trying to slip it onto Fred when she’s not looking. Well, while I was doing this, my daughter (the almost Fred) asks if I’d fix up hers a bit. She has a JK Wrangler and it’s vanilla plain. She wanted a cool script on the side of the hood like ‘Mudslut’ or ‘Boobiebouncer’. I had just put a hood decal on Fred so I could see the appeal. While I applauded her taste in decals, I also thought that perhaps she should go with something a bit more ‘factory’. It was then that I realized, Jeep has a metric shit ton of ‘editions’ out there!

You should keep in mind that Jeep has been around since 1941 in one form or another. We’ve had a whole series of CJ models (Civilian Jeep). Then AMC was bought by Chrysler and it was announced that the CJ would no longer be made and my heart dropped. Luckily, Chrysler wasn’t stupid. They rebadged the vehicle, made a lot of improvements and released the YJ Wrangler. Purists hated it. Why? Because it had square headlights. Forget that it had a much more civil ride, plenty of power, a wider track to reduce accidental rollovers and that it handled much better than the old CJ. No, it had to be hated because the headlights weren’t ROUND.

However, this was when their marketing department cooked up a plan to sell even more units. Up until this time, you could get your CJ in the base model, the Renegade which was kind of a middle of the road package and the upper crust was the Laredo. A select few would be fortunate enough to find the Golden Eagle and even fewer would locate and own the Silver Eagle. These were all trim levels, if you will. But once the YJ hit the streets…all bets were off. Jeep released ‘editions’. Islander, Rio Grande, Mountain. The list was growing. And people were buying.

We move from the much hated (but much improved) YJ to the TJ. A short, stubby little jeep that seemed to mix the best of both the CJ lineup and the YJ. With improved ride and handling came creature comforts. A real dashboard. Airbags. A host of comfort and safety items. And sales skyrocketed. With those sales came even more ‘editions’, many of which carried over to the new JK lineup.

The JK was a mixed bag to some. To purists, this thing was HUGE. And now it offered four doors! To somebody who had never really been into Jeeps before, this thing was TINY. Regardless, with an even wider track and even more safety items (and a couple of more doors), the Wrangler became the yuppie/hipster/soccer moms choice for all weather driving the world over. At least they kept the headlights round, right guys?

With the new JK came even MORE editions. Jeep may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but they know how to market. We were now finding a resurgence of old names like the Islander and the Sahara and the Renegade, but we were seeing so many new ones that sometimes you couldn’t be certain if it was a factory ‘edition’ or not.

Seriously, we soon saw the (I kid you not) DRAGON edition. This ugly monstrosity…er, I mean, this tattooed beauty had a literal dragon etched across the ENTIRE THING.

2014-Jeep-Wrangler-Dragon-Edition-front-view

Then we saw the Mountain edition. And the Rocky Mountain. And the Smoky Mountain.

2017-Jeep-Wrangler-Smokey-Mountain-Edition-122

We saw a MOAB edition.

MOAB

A Freedom edition.

Freedom

The return of the Rio Grande.

jeep_hood_riogrande5

The return of the Islander.
Okay, I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the Islander. Hehehe. Tiki Bob. 🙂

jeep-wrangler-islander-f

Then we have the TACTICAL Jeep. The ‘Modern Warfare 3’ Black Ops edition.

2011-naias-jeep-wrangler-call-of-duty-black-ops-edition-live-photos_3

Then there were Arctic and Polar editions.

2012-jeep-wrangler-arctic_100369522

polar-jeep-wrangler-2014-front

Let’s not forget The Recon edition.

recon

And the return of the Golden Eagle.

gold eagle

We’ve even seen the return of the Willys. The Jeep that started it all.

2014-jeep-wrangler-willys-wheeler-edition_100446358_l

But here’s the thing. For every factory made ‘edition’ out there? There’s at least three others that Jeep owners have made themselves. Everything from Stormtrooper Edition to Beach Bum. From Redneck Edition (they have no teeth but damn are they scrappy!) to Hillbilly edition (they’re engaged to their cousin). There are Jurassic Park editions and tributes to pets. Some are funny and some make you scratch your head and wonder what the owner was smoking.

There are people who do nothing more than create custom accessories for you to personalize your Jeep. Being probably the MOST customized vehicle out there, you’ll see variations of a theme that you never would have guessed. And as difficult as it is to try to describe here, it truly is easier to say, “It’s a JEEP thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

Oh. And what did I put on Gigi’s Jeep?

Gigis

Simple. Tasteful. Nothing too ‘out there’.
She wouldn’t let me put ‘Boobiebouncer’ on there. 😦

 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

I Dropped the Ball

I just realized that I hadn’t updated the site in a while. Actually, not since C8 and we are anxiously awaiting C11 to drop at the end of the month. That’s just unacceptable.

I’m sorry. I wish I had a valid excuse for letting things lapse here, but I don’t. Since I last posted, both C9 and C10 have released.

C9 C10

For those keeping score, C9 hit the shelves on Halloween and C10 was a Turkey Day release. Now, just after Christmas (when everybody has their new devices) C11 will be available!

C11.jpg

I wish I could say that 12 was soon to follow, but alas, I just got the template laid a few nights ago and it’s been a bit tough getting back into the writing habit. I can say that not all of this time was wasted doing silly stuff like enjoying the holidays with family. I actually got a little work done. Max Zener stepped in to narrate the rest of the series and he was able to pump out C4. We did a line by line with it and I just recently mashed the button so you audiophiles out there will soon be able to enjoy the continuation of the story! Ya know, it’s not easy jumping from C4 to C12. So much has happened since then that…it’s just been tough.

For those of you who have been with this series since the git-go, if you’ve heard the rumors that 12 will be the series end, then you heard correctly. There’s just too many other projects languishing by the wayside. It’s nearly impossible for me to ‘universe jump’ any more. My brain just isn’t what it used to be I suppose. Going from one cast of characters to another takes me a lot longer to adjust to than it used to.

I will say this, though…just because Caldera is ending doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of the characters. I actually have a spin off in mind that may or may not see the light of day. I’ve toyed for months with the idea of doing a spin off of the Monster Squad under the IMPACT label and even have a few ideas bouncing around in my noggin. It’s just getting the time and mental faculties sharpened enough to jump back into that world.

Anyway, I’m going to wrap this up. This is time that could be spent writing the tales you love to read instead of sharing mind-spew. So with that, I’ll bid you adieu. We’re caught up on upcoming releases and I promise, I’ll try to do better in keeping you updated.

In case I forget to come back between now and then, Merry Christmas! I hope that you and yours has the happiest of holidays and a prosperous new year!

Love, Luck and Bacon!

Heath

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Quit Jumping to Conclusions

I have to stop. I just HAVE to. I read something and, like so many others before me, I jump to a conclusion. Man, if I had actually read as many books as I’ve judged by their covers…

Let me explain. And no, this isn’t book related. This is just me airing out my head. And yes, it gets gusty in there.

I’m a car guy. Always have been, always will be. In fact, my mother often told me that my first word was ‘Mustang’ and she claimed that I could spot one a mile away as a toddler.
So, years ago when Jeep first announced their Renegade. I read that it would be ‘based on the Fiat 500 chassis’ and that was all I needed to know. Every time I saw one on the road, I laughed at the drivers. Who could be SO STUPID to buy a rebodied Fiat? I mean, come on.

Then, I actually drove one.

2017-Jeep-Renegade-Trailhawk-front-three-quarter-03

HOLY SMOKES.

I actually fell in love with that zippy little doo-dah. I mean, it was FUN. Got great gas mileage. The Trailhawk version is actually called by off-roaders the ‘Baby Wrangler’ because you can’t hardly stop the thing! It will go where most other four wheel drives tremble.

So, now I LOVE these things.

If any of you have read my blog over the years, you may remember one of the few times I rambled about something other than writing. I really try not to do it often. However, this one time I went off on FoMoCo (https://heathstallcup.com/2015/03/17/get-real-ford-im-ready-to-quit/)
Shortly after I did, they announced the new Ranger and the new Bronco. I really wish it had been because of the above blog post, but I’m not that egotistical.

ANYWAY, I was excited. Until they announced that they would be using their ecoboost 4 banger. Immediately I was pissed. I’d decided, I would have nothing to do with it and turned my back. I had an F-150 ecoboost and although you couldn’t tell it was a six cylinder, I don’t trust turbos.
I just don’t.

Then I watched a YouTube video from a guy who felt the exact same way I did. And his mind was changed. And that reminded me of the Renegade. And I suddenly felt very… ‘judgy’. So I went through a few more videos. Surely, somewhere out there, somebody would prove the ecoboost 4 banger was a turd.
I watched guys tune one in a Mustang and slip it into a GT only race group. After they smoked a few factory Coyote V-8’s, they were found out and forced to leave. How dare they outrun these wonderful cars with such a heretic engine?!

Okay. So maybe I jumped to an incorrect conclusion. Er, more like an uneducated one. Still, I swallowed my pride and decided that I would give them a chance. And I might give the turbo 4 Wrangler a chance (but not if the same Wrangler is available with the Pentastar V-6). I still hope and pray that Ford will rethink their decision and bring the Bronco out with a naturally aspirated V-6 (dare we pray for a diesel variant?), but either way, I’ll give the new Bronco a chance.

And that’s about it. That’s all I really wanted to talk about tonight. I just had to admit that I was wrong.
Once.
Okay, technically, TWICE, but, it’s sort of about the same thing, so I’m calling it a ‘once’.

Here’s wishing you much love, luck and bacon!

Heath

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Cliffhangers

Yeah, cliffhangers. We hate them, don’t we? But we also NEED them. It keeps us engrossed in the story.

Think about those books that were total page-turners. You know the ones I’m talking about. You break them open and you’re just gonna read a few pages before bed…until you realize the alarm is going off, it’s morning and you should be in the shower, but you only have one chapter left!

How does that happen?

Well…suspense. You break a story into sections. Usually, there are at least three scenes. Each scene can either be its own chapter or the three scenes combined make your chapters. But each scene, if left on a mini-cliffhanger, has you turning the page to see what happens next.

Now, in a perfect world, each and every scene would have its own cliffhanger ending, each one building suspense until you reach the final chapter and now, the suspense is SO built up that…well, you just GOTTA have the next book now! That’s the whole idea, right? Leave people wanting more.

Yet we HATE cliffhangers. Heaven knows, I do. I’ll never forget the first cliffhanger that had me ready to burst…. The Empire Strikes Back.
OH MY GAWD!! How could they do that?! I mean, REALLY!!

Yeah, well, it’s like that. I know the pain, the frustration, the…ANGER. But at the same time, we need this built up suspense. It keeps us going, forcing us to push through. It helps motivate us to read on, to find the end. If that end ever comes.

So, now you’re groaning, your guts tightening as your mind formulates the question…why is this asshole bringing up cliffhangers?
Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure you’ve already guessed it. C8 left us on a pretty good one. And, well…C9 does the same dadgum thing. Maybe C10 will be…nope? Nope. No…I can tell you with absolute CERTAINTY that C10 is just as bad if not worse.
Maybe 11? We’ll find out. I just broke ground on it tonight.

Oh, and for those of you wanting them now? Sorry. The easy part is done. Now they go into beta, editing, more beta, more editing, etc, ad nauseum. Besides, I have to get ahead so I can switch to a completely different universe. I hope to get Bridger II written soon. Just as soon as Caldera releases its hooks from me…

Peace, Love and Bacon!
Especially Bacon.

Heath

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

C8 Is Out and Other Stuff

Okay, so Caldera 8 went live yesterday. Yay!

Caldera 8

Here’s the obligatory picture that everybody says will help drive traffic to your site.

But that’s not really what I came here to talk about.
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak to a few writing groups. I even joined one afterward. Good people in that group. But…one thing that I’m often asked that I don’t always address well is, “What would you tell yourself if you could go back and give yourself advice when you first started writing?”

Most of the time I think, ‘Don’t QUIT! Write whatever you love and those who love it will find it.’ Or, something to that effect.
But here lately, I’ve been taking more trips down memory lane and I recall a moment when I was ready to pack it all in. I had made the mistake of getting online and reading through some ‘Writer’s Forums’. Oh wow. Some of the people in those places are completely whackadoodle. And yes, that’s actually a medical term for ‘nutso’.

I remember I joined this one group and they were discussing all kinds of topics. And being completely new, I was totally enamored with their replies and their suggestions and…well, I believed them. Imagine that! Believing people you don’t know on the internet.

Anyway, I remember this one guy (who everybody seemed to look to as sort of the group leader or guru or some such) and he was saying, ‘if you write more than 500 words in a day, then it’s crap and not worth reading’.
Well, that blew my mind. I mean, here I was throwing down THOUSANDS of words a day sometimes. Did that mean my writing was crap?
He went on to tell folks that unless you were signed with a Big 6 publisher, you weren’t a REAL writer.
Oh wow. I’m totally screwed then.
Another of his rants was about ‘horror’ and how only IDIOTS read such drivel.
Well, I have no idea what golden pearls of wisdom this guy was writing, but I had concluded that he:
1. Wrote less than 500 QUALITY words per day.
2. Must be signed with at least two of the Big 6 because people just hung on to his every word. And;
3. Whatever he wrote, it must NOT be horror.
He’s so lucky.

Well, needless to say, I was sent into this downward spiral. Seriously, I was ready to just hang it all up and walk away. I mean, who was I to question this guy? Anybody who did dare to question him got raked across the coals by the entire group.
But one voice did. He told him that he was an indie who hired reputable editors and cover artists and he worked his tail off to market himself. He made himself available to his readers and he loved interacting with them. And he made good money doing it. Oh, hell no! This was sacrilege and they laughed this guy right out of the forum. How DARE he say something that went against the great an almighty Oz?!

I actually called my editor at that time. An indie writer who built himself up from the worst possible starting point and remade himself into a force to be reckoned with. He talked me off of the ledge and convinced me that my writing was worthy. If nothing else, let the sales prove that point. Take the risk, believe what he told me and finish what I started.
So I did.
And I’m so thankful that I did. Because of my writing, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people out there. I’ve taken the hits and the less than constructive criticisms and tried to improve my storytelling. I’ve made friends with some of the coolest people with a similar off kilter sense of humor as mine and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this ride.
No, I’m not quitting or anything silly like that. I was just reminded of the time when I allowed nameless, faceless people on an internet forum convince me that there was only one way to do something. And I almost believed them.

So, I guess I wasn’t wrong when I said that I would tell myself not to quit.
But I would also add, don’t listen to internet commandos who proclaim that there is only one way to do something. Look at others who can prove that person wrong and do what they did.
Yeah.
I think that’s what I’d tell myself.
Oh, and exercise more. That way you can eat more bacon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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C8 Update

MAY have just sent Caldera 8 to the editor for cleanup.
I also MAY have the cover from Jeffrey Kosh that goes with it.
I also MAY…no, scratch that. Of course I’ll share that cover here. You guys know I’m the worst secret keeper and I’ve even shown covers that he’s created for me for stories I hadn’t even written yet. I guess I figured if I had the cover made then I just had to write the story.

It made sense to me.

Caldera 8.jpg

Anywho, here’s the cover. I’d give the newest installment of Caldera a couple of weeks minimum to be available.

But for those who were asking, here’s your status report. If I had the mental capacity to write the blurb right now, I’d gladly share it. But sometimes the blurbs are harder than the stories.

Keep the faith dear readers.

Heath

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Time Flies

So I’ve been slacking. In more ways than one.
I just realized that I hadn’t done much on here lately and you can only imagine my surprise when I look and see that my last post was at Thanksgiving.

So, here’s a quick little something to let you guys know I’m alive and still attempting to get my stories done.

Since I was last here, Caldera 7 came out at Christmas. I honestly can’t believe that I didn’t post something here at the holidays. Even a season’s greetings to my friends would have been nice.

After that, I took off a bit for the holidays and got a pretty slow start back to writing. It’s so easy to NOT write. It’s even easier when you get discouraged. How was I discouraged, you might ask? Well, let me tell you.

I HATE Windows 10. I remember now why I forced my laptop back to 8.1. But…I got myself a really nice new desktop with a huge monitor (old eyes and all that) and it came with Win10. I started suffering the same ransomeware type of behavior but ignored most of it. You know what I’m talking about. Your computer slows to a crawl, you can’t get online, nothing. Oh! You have an update waiting to be installed. If you set it to automatically update, you won’t have this issue anymore, we promise.

Like an idiot, I did. And when it installed the newest update, it cycled off and ‘saved’ a previous version of my works in progress. I had nearly 15 chapters of Caldera 8 and over a dozen chapters of Bridger II WIPED. Yes, I back up everything, and I even kept my thumbdrive plugged in to make it easier. Well, when it wiped out my current copies, it ALSO overwrote the files on my thumbdrive. If you follow me on Facebook you may remember that rant.

Needless to say, I went into panic mode.

I was able to get some of the data back by copying the files over from my old laptop, but I still lost a TON of work. That little experience really soured me and it has taken me a LONG time to force myself back to the keyboard. But I am back and I’m working tirelessly to catch the stories up to where they were and carry on. I could sit in the corner and cry about all of the words lost, but instead, I got revenge. I found every ‘hack’ I could online to prevent my computer from cycling power on its own and implemented them. If I were a smarter person, I’d just find a copy of Win 8.1 and force it onto my computer, but then I’d have to deal with all of the files again and I’m just sick of messing with it. Instead, I’d rather castrate the software and put it at my mercy. >insert evil laugh here<

Anywho, that’s it. That’s really about all I’ve been doing. Playing catch up because Microshaft decided to screw with me again.

Oh, and for the few of you that messaged me about the IMPACT teaser…I’m still not sure. I may have started a project along that line, but it’s taking a back seat to Caldera and Bridger. Maybe once I’m caught up a bit, I’ll readdress that.

Okay. That’s it. Y’all have a blessed day and keep the faith.

Heath

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good people, good food, good times and lots of loving memories!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but that’s because I’ve been tied up with side projects that are taking much more of my attention than I’d like. Writing is on hold until at least after Christmas.

Hopefully soon I can get back to putting the stories in my head down on paper so others can suffer the insanity along with me!

Until then, keep on keeping on and enjoy the time with your friends and family.

Here’s wishing you much love, luck and bacon!

Heath

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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For My Girls: Ch 7 Huntress

I think this will be the final installment of my ‘Stories that Will Never Be’.
There are a few paragraphs of Chapter 8 that were written but it does little to nothing in pushing the story forward.
Since this story will never happen, I might as well lay it out for you.
Odin, her grandfather, hates demis. Demigods have the potential to become more powerful than the old gods and he refuses to suffer a demi to live. That’s why she’s kept away from him and ‘managed’ by Thor.
At the end of the trilogy would be the big slap down between young Erica and the grandfather who didn’t know she existed. She’d kick his ass, of course, and although he loses, he’d tell her to finish him because he’d never quit hunting her.
She doesn’t have it in her heart to kill family…so she strips him of his power instead. It’s hard to kill a god when you’re basically a human. She and Alejo run off to make demi-babies and live happily ever after.
At least, that was the plan. Who knows what the story might have evolved into. Heaven knows, the original Hunter trilogy was NOT supposed to be what it became, but, it is what it is.
Anywho…on to the final chapter.

7

I didn’t want to leave his side.

Ever.

I wish I could put into words the emotions that ran through my mind, through my heart…but there are no words for what I felt.

I thought I knew what love was. I may not have centuries walking the earth like my father, but I have had many experiences. Just nothing like this.

I have loved.

I have loved many. I love my father. I love my mother. I love Uncle Thor and I love Tex.

But this? This was something new. I liked it and it terrified me at the same time. This young man made me feel things that I didn’t think were possible. From the moment I laid eyes on his image, I knew there was something about him. I just didn’t know what.

We spent the night walking along the beach. We talked. We kissed. We talked more. We cuddled. We built a fire and lay beside it, talking and laughing and sharing experiences.

We almost missed the sunrise but we sat beside the smoldering fire and held each other while the sun broke along the horizon and warmed us with its rays.

I hated to leave his side but when the sun rose, he said that he had to go and that I should return home. He promised to meet me the following night at the same spot and we sealed the date with a kiss.

I had no idea what was happening with me, but I liked it.

I also had no idea how to tell my mother.

 

*****

 

“You’re what?” She stared at me wide eyed.

“I think I’m in love, mother.” I couldn’t help but smile even though her face was one of shock and disbelief.

She reached out a shaky hand and took the back of the chair. I watched her pull it out slowly and practically fall into it.

“What am I going to do? First it’s coffee, now you’re in love?” She turned and gave me the saddest look I’d ever seen. “All in the same day?”

“Mother, it’s not horrible. It’s wonderful.” I pulled out the matching chair and sat beside her. “He’s lovely and he’s sweet and he kisses so-”

“Oh my god!” She was to her feet and pacing. “You kissed him?”

“It was just a kiss, but it was such a kiss!” I was on my feet again. “It was like our souls were intertwined and-”

“Please stop!” She fell into her chair again, her head shaking. “Sweet baby jeezus, Erica, you’re only a child.”

I froze and stared at her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Mother, I’m a woman.” I reached down and lifted my shirt. “See? Bossoms.”

“Erica, stop that!” She reached out and pulled my shirt back down.

Now, I have to be honest. I don’t know exactly why I did that. She is my mother. Of course she knows that I have bossoms. She buys my clothes for me. She knows that I’m…developed. I understand that most normal children at the age of five are probably still pooping themselves or eating dirt. But I’m not your normal five year old. Well, nearly six. But the principal is the same.

As Hildy said, age is nothing but a number.

I watched her hands shake as she turned slowly and got to her feet. She reached for the coffee and I had to stick my foot in my mouth. “You’re shaking enough already. Do you really want coffee?”

She turned and glared at me with such intensity that had the look missed me and struck the wall it would have peeled the paint. “I need something to calm me down and dammit, coffee calms me.”

Things were getting real. She didn’t allow cursing for any reason and she just dropped a D word. Something tells me I should have just mailed her a wedding invitation…if it ever comes to that. I guess there is such a thing as over-sharing.

I sat back down and waited for the lecture on how I was just a child, I couldn’t know what love is, blah blah blah.

When she sat back at the table, she took her time. I think her cup was half empty when she finally looked up at me again. The next words that came from her mouth nearly knocked me from my chair.

“I’m sorry, Erica.”

Her voice was so soft that I barely heard her.

“Mother?”

She shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.” She took another drink and I waited.

“They warned me.” She motioned toward me with her hand. “That you would age very quickly until you reached…this. Adulthood. And then it practically stops. You’ll remain young and vibrant and…beautiful forever.”

I wanted to tell her to stop. That her tone and actions were scaring me. But I’m a huntress. I know no fear.

“They said that you would…grow up. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.” She sniffed back a tear as she sipped her coffee.

I reached out and took her trembling hand. “I’m sorry mother. I never wanted to hurt you.”

She laughed and I could tell it was to keep from crying. “You didn’t hurt me, Erica. You’re right. You’re a woman.” She turned swollen red eyes to me and I saw the tears threatening to fall. “I just miss my baby girl.”

She patted my hand and I wanted to cry with her. I was in such a hurry to grow up and I had no idea how much she cherished the time she had with me when I was little.

Suddenly she sobered and glanced nervously over her shoulder. “You mustn’t tell your father. Or anybody! Do you understand?”

“But father will understand. I’m sure-”

“No! You don’t understand.” She lowered her voice and leaned closer to me. “You were sent to kill him, not fall for him. If word gets back to Thor, they’ll hunt you!”

I nearly snorted a laugh. “But I’m Uncle Thor’s favorite-”

“You’re a tool Erica!” Mother stiffened and glanced towards father’s study. She turned back to me and lowered her voice. “If you don’t do as you’re told, you will be removed. Do you understand?”

My head was shaking. I’m not sure if it was denial or fear. “No, they wouldn’t do that. Alejo’s gods accept him and they teach him the ways of our kind.”

“Our kind?” Her eyes were wide and her hands were trembling again. “Sweetheart, his gods are not your gods. They’re not your family. Do you think they would stand against Thor and his warriors if it came down to handing you over or go to war?”

I fell back in my chair and I could feel my mouth working but no words came out.

“Sweetheart, there is no sanctuary against the gods. They don’t acknowledge the sovereignty of other gods. They don’t even acknowledge your right to exist.”

She sat back and huffed as she tried to search for the right words. “They hid you from Odin. They hid you from Freya. They know that if word got back to them that you existed, you would be hunted and destroyed. The old gods simply cannot allow you to usurp them.”

“But I would never…”

“That doesn’t matter. They simply cannot allow you to exist. The possibility is too great for them.” She sucked back a sob and squeezed her eyes shut. “I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

“Nor I you, mother.” I reached out and took her hand again. “I can’t hide forever.” My mind raced faster than I could form words. “Even if I killed Alejo, who is to say that Odin wouldn’t order Thor to destroy me?” I stood slowly, my mind in a whirlwind. “I don’t want to die.”

“Then don’t.” She stood and squared her shoulders. I had seen my mother resolute before, but not like this. The set of her jaw was pure defiance. “Do what you must, but you survive. Do you hear me?”

I nodded, unsure what exactly I could do against Odin Alfather. But I knew that if I ever hoped to live in peace, I’d have to be prepared for war.

“I hear you.” I stepped away from her and released her hand. “I love you mother. Tell father that I love him.”

“Be careful Erica.”

Those were the last words I heard from her before I transported myself to Svartalfheim. I stood outside the tree that Hildy called home.

I tapped on the bark above the opening to her home and prayed that she was home.

“Back here child.”

I stepped around the giant oak and saw her in a tiny garden. I hadn’t seen it during my last visit. The great tree that she made home had blocked it from view.

I walked along the edge and watched as she finished plucking a few herbs from the ground. She placed them gently in her apron and hobbled toward me. “I was about to prepare food. Care to join me?”

I gave her a gentle shake of my head. “I’ve come to talk, if you don’t mind?”

“You talk while I cook.” She cackled as she made her way back to the tree. She placed her herbs besides the opening and slipped inside. When she came back out she carried an oversized kettle. “Hang this over the fire and fetch some water.”

I hung the handle from the iron hook then scooped a large bucket of water from the stream. She was already searing meat in the pot when I came back and the smell had my mouth watering. She stirred the meat, searing the edges before adding the water.

“So talk, child. What brings you back to old Hildy?”

“I’m frightened.”

“Of course you are.” She ladled small amounts of water over the searing meat as she spoke. I watched her add a few of the freshly plucked herbs then she sat back and eyed me. “You just discovered the truth and now you are unsure what you should do.”

I nodded. I didn’t know how she knew, but I prayed that she would have answers.

“What should I do?”

She shook her head as she added tubers and vegetables to her pot. “I cannot tell you that, child. That is entirely up to you.”

“Can you tell me the outcomes of a decision? You are an oracle, are you not?”

She smiled at me but there was such sadness to it. “I wish that I could.”

“Do you see any future for me?”

Her eyes brightened and she nodded. “Oh yes, child.  A long and prosperous future.” I watched as she squinted and appeared to stare into the shadows of the woods. “I cannot see how you come to that point though. If I could, I would direct you through to the easiest route.” She shrugged. “All I can tell you is, you will survive. And you will do well.”

“With Alejo?” I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know the answer, but my mouth asked before my brain could stop it.

She shook her head slowly. “I cannot see that. I do not know if he is your future or your ruination. I can only see that you survive and you prosper.”

I sighed and sat beside her while she cooked.

“I don’t think I’d want to simply survive without him.”

She patted my shoulder and gave me a sweet smile. “Nobody can tell what your fate is. Nobody can direct you down the ‘proper’ path.” She sat next to me and took my hand in her leathery palm. “You must walk your own path. If that path leads you to love, then by all means, embrace it and experience it and enjoy every moment you can.”

I turned to her and I felt tears swelling in my eyes. “I’m afraid.”

“I know. And you have every right to be. It’s not every day that one finds out exactly what their life is worth in the eyes of others.” She patted my hand once more then stood and stirred her pot. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many, many…many years, it’s this. Don’t let a chance at true love slip away because you fear the outcome. Embrace it. Relish it. Give it everything you have. Even if that loves dies or is somehow taken from you, you’ll have known what it feels like and it will help to form you into the person you were meant to be.”

Her words brought me peace. She didn’t point me in any direction and say, do this and all will be well, but I felt as though she armed me with enough hope that I could face whatever it was that the gods had in store for me.

If it meant that I had to renounce my lineage and never return to Asgard, then so be it. If Alejo was right and the gods of Olympus would welcome us, then perhaps it was time I went there and met his gods.

What was the worst that could happen?

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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