Sample from The Life of Ants, the Hybrid, by Ernie Howard
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“It is time to go Dear One. The future of this planet depends on you and some others just like you. It is time to learn new things, but things you need to learn cannot happen on this planet.” The Orb’s voice inside Emma’s head sounded excited and almost happy. “You must go where we took your father.” A picture of an old train car popped into Emma’s head. She knew instantly how to get to it. “You have to leave tonight. There is no time to waste. You must find your protector. You must help save this planet.” The Orb winked out and was gone like it had never been there in the first place.
Emma got up from her bed and went to her desk. She would have to leave as soon as possible. Her dad would no doubt try to bring up some food for her, and if that happened all would be lost. She had to remember that her parents didn’t know what was best for them. For her as well. She started to write a letter. It would be dark soon.
When she was done with the letter, she grabbed her school backpack and emptied the contents of the bag onto her bed. She wouldn’t need paper and pencils where she was going. She threw in some clothes, and a bottle of water that had been sitting on her nightstand for a week. Emma checked her pockets to see that her three dollars that her mom had given her for lunch this morning were still there. She had faith that she wouldn’t need it. The Orb had told her about her protector.
“I need to getaway. Get the fuck away… Can’t. Can’t take it,” Gram thought to himself, watching the streetlights blur by the windshield.
Streetlights… Streaming. Headlights… Beaming into the abyss; the nothingness that is our lives. His mind drifted until he heard someone shout from a passing car.
“We are ants!”
“Did you hear that?” Gram asked.
“I didn’t hear shit,” Wallace said. “I think you should probably lay off that shit that is in your pocket.” Gram looked across the car at Wallace. “What? You don’t think I know what you’re doing when you wipe your nose with your hand? You’ve been doing that shit since I picked you up from the nuthouse.”
“It’s not a nuthouse. It’s a detox.” Gram said. He didn’t believe his own words as soon as they left his mouth. Wallace erupted in a loud laugh that shook the car. A laugh that only a man of Wallace’s girth was capable of.
Sample fro The Light Through the Water, by Ernie Howard
I died when I was 8 years old. I drowned. It was summer and my father took me down to our dock to go for the first swim of my summer vacation. Being scared of the water for all of my short life, but having learned how to swim the summer before, fear had abandoned me to the point of blurring my self-preservation. I had become cocky. I barreled across the dock, with my bare feet slapping the boards, sending off hollow echoes across the lake that existed right outside our door. My father’s shouts to wait blew away, lost in the noise of my feet, and my shouts of glee.
I reached the end of the dock and with the summer sun on my back and sheer joy of no classrooms for the next three months, I launched myself into the air. There was a moment of peace, of floating, that lasted for hours in my 8-year-old brain. I was Superman, soon to be Aquaman. I splashed into the surface of the lake like a missile. My body sliced through the water until my feet embedded themselves into the mud at the bottom of the lake. I let it slide up to mid shin, squishing my toes into the cool muck, letting the lake comfort me like it was giving me a hug. The lake was fickle. The comforting feeling left as soon as it came when I tried pushing against the muck trying in vain to propel myself back up to the world of oxygen. The lake wouldn’t let me go. It held me firm. It’s cool comforting hands, had turned into the slippery tentacles of a sea monster. The more I tried to free my feet, the further they sunk into the muck. I couldn’t hear anything down there but my beating heart, but for my whole life I remembered a sucking sound, and the lakes chuckle as it laughed at its own watery joke. My little boy mind did not understand the trouble it was in. I was 8 years old. Little boys don’t think of their life ending on the first day of summer. I was still in the what do I want to be when I grow up phase, not the contemplating my own mortality phase.
My pulse grew faster, and my lungs burned, screaming for the oxygen they needed. My calm left me there at the bottom of the lake to fend for myself. I panicked. Just before I passed out I looked up at the surface, to see the light coming through the water for one last time. I thought I would never see the sun again. I reached out my hand trying to grasp the light, trying to grasp the last bit of life. Then as my world went black.
People don’t remember much from when they were little. They remember a birthday present, or a favorite toy, or that kid that lived down the street that had blond hair and ate his boogers, (what was his name?). Most of those memories have a haze over them. They are like a forgotten book in the book shelf of your mind. But I will tell you I remember every detail of that day. The light through the water was so bright it looked like it was piercing water molecules on its way to my strained eyes. The face of my father was even more detailed. His worry and grief I could feel with every cell of my body as he looked down at me in my hospital bed. I woke up, and in my blurry vision I saw my father.
“I saw the light.” I said. My father’s raised his eyebrows. “The light through the water.”
**DISCLAIMER** Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I do earn a small commission from them.
“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”
– Chief Seattle
Sample From The Pool
The front desk was empty except for a bored-looking oversize cat. It stared at Shawn as it licked its paw like a Popsicle. The cat glared as if Shawn was a soon to be a dead piece of prey that it would bat around a little before devouring, bit by bit.
Shawn moved slowly toward the desk, trying not to scare the obese cat. He didn’t like heights, but cats came in at a close second. As he moved closer, he heard the animal growl. It seemed to come from deep inside of the cat, reminding Shawn of a horror movie he’d seen where a woman was possessed by a demon. He’d almost made it to the desk unscathed when the cat let out with a surprised hiss and jumped over Shawn’s head, raking a claw across his scalp. Before he could slap the cat away, it was gone. Shawn reached up and touched the spot where the damn thing had clawed him. He looked at his hand and was happy to see no blood. Grateful that the cat was gone, and that he wasn’t bleeding like a stuck pig, he let out with a laugh.
“Don’t mind Gobstopper. He doesn’t like many people. Hell, some days, he don’t even like me and I’m the one who feeds him his chow.”
Shawn jumped at the sound of the man’s voice; he hadn’t heard him come up behind the desk. But there he was standing behind the counter, smiling with teeth that looked to be stained by many years of chewing tobacco. The man turned his head to the left and spit into an old-fashioned spittoon in the corner that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a while. The loogy clanged on the stained metal, the sound echoing through the small office.
The man wore an eye patch with a MIA POW insignia embroidered right in the center, over his right eye. The older man’s full head of white hair and beard made him look like a one-eyed Santa Claus; his oversized beer belly helped with the illusion. Shawn immediately felt good in the man’s presence. Despite the man’s eye patch, he looked like a jolly old guy. Like if Santa Clause had decided to quit making toys to become a pirate. He stifled a giggle that threatened to escape and smiled back at the man.
“So, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I need a room with two beds preferably, but if you haven’t got any available, I’ll take whatever you got. I’ve been driving for a while and I think I would take a floor and a sleeping bag at this point.”
The man gave him a knowing smile. He paused for a second, staring into space. Shawn knew the man’s gears were turning; he probably was going over a mental map of the motel.
“Mister?” Shawn didn’t know if the old man had lost his train of thought, or if the old guy was having a stroke. The man snapped out of his trance. Just as Shawn was going to ask him if he was okay, he spoke.
“Call me Jonathan. Jonathan Piedmont. Mister has always made me feel like an old man, and I already know I’m old, so I don’t need any reminders on the subject.” Jonathan let out with a full-bellied laugh that looked and sounded like it would shake the small office off of its foundation.
“Shawn Bailey.” Shawn reached his hand over the counter to shake Jonathan’s hand. The man’s hand was hot almost to the point of being uncomfortable. It made Shawn want to pull away, but he shook vigorously, not wanting to be rude.
“Glad to meet ya, Shawn. Now let’s see what we got open.”
Shawn watched the old man shuffle papers on a desk that had a thick layer of dust and old coffee mug rings. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years. He moved one of the coffee mugs that had seen better days and underneath it was an old-style room key; a real key with its own plastic tag, stamped with the number one.
“Here we go. Looks like you and your family got the last room in the whole place.”
Does it have two beds?” He was really hoping to sleep in a bed without the kids.
“You’re in luck, my friend because all of our rooms have two beds. We have hide-a-beds if you need them for your family, for however long they need them. Excuse me, for however long you and your family need them.” The twinkle in Jonathan’s single eye had lost some of its luster, and the man’s smile had gone from jolly to pursed. Does this guy think my kids and wife are going to leave me during the night? He shrugged the old man’s comment off and changed the subject.
“My kids are excited about the pool out front. They were practically jumping out of the car when we pulled up.”
The old man stopped frozen over his ledger book. His smile disappeared. Shawn watched as Jonathan shook his head slowly, letting out a long sigh that rattled in the old man’s throat.
“There are some rules about The Pool that you and your family need to know about.” The mood in the room had changed so fast, it took Shawn a second to even realize it had gone south. Even the temperature dropped a little, and the sun shining through the window dimmed as Jonathan looked at Shawn. The serious look on Jonathan’s face reminded him of his father.
“The rules of The Pool are quite simple. Number one: Only one person can walk through the gate at a time.” Jonathan looked at Shawn with his one eye. The single blue eyeball bored into him.
“Number two: The gate must be fully closed before the next person goes through, and that person must open the gate unassisted.” Jonathan paused and bored a few more holes into Shawn.
“The third and most important rule of all of these is you must be ready to enter The Pool. If you are not ready, the results could be disastrous for you and the inhabitants of The Pool.”
“My mother used to sing to me when I was scared at night. When shadows in corners turned into drooling creatures who wanted to eat me. When the wind wasn’t just benign air, but a crazed demon bent on taking my soul and my body, bit by sweet bit. I’d lay my head on her chest to feel the vibration of her singing. The song would come out in low tones and hurried breaths, and just slightly off-key. I always thought my mother’s inability to hold a perfect tune made the song better. It was as if mom had put her touch on the song she’d chosen to sing. Her voice made pleasing chills go down my spine, and made my skin turn to goose pimples. I’d burrow deeper into the blankets smiling into my pillow. Mama would end the song and ask if I wanted to hear another one. If I were asleep, she would plant a kiss on my head. The moisture and the soft smack of my mother’s lips would wake me up just enough to see her walking out of my room.”
This is the first paragraph of my latest. Have a look at Melody 8. Remember that this is unedited.
My mother used to sing to me when I was scared at night. When shadows, in corners turned into drooling creatures who wanted to eat me. When the wind wasn’t just benign air, but a drooling demon bent on eating my soul, and my body, bit by sweet bit. I’d lay my head on her chest to feel the vibration of her singing. The song would come out in low tones and hurried breaths, and just slightly off-key. I always thought my mother’s inability to hold a perfect tune made the song better. It was as if mom had put her own touch on the song she’d chosen to sing. Her voice made pleasing chills go down my spine, and make my skin turn to goose pimples. I’d burrow deeper into the blankets smiling into my pillow. Mama would end the song and ask if I wanted to hear another one. If I was asleep she would plant a kiss on my head. The moisture and the soft smack of my mother’s lips would wake me up just enough to see her walking out of my room. Most times I wasn’t asleep, and I’d answer with a muffled yes that came deep from my pillows and blankets. Mama would answer with the same response every time. “Okay smart one.” I never knew why she called me this, and it’s funny to look back now and realize, I’d never asked her why she called me smart one.
I loved the sound of my mother’s voice. All the way up to the day she was put to death because of it.
This blog post is not a self-help post. When I say change your life books, I guess I mean change your perception books. And if you ask me, those sorts of books can be more transforming then some theory about how you’re doing it wrong, (Life that is). I believe reading is a fundamental skill that needs to be used daily. It is an immersive way to figure out new and enlightening things. Meaning, you have to actually think about the content, rather than watching something and cutting out an important part of the learning process. I’m not going to give too much of a description of these reads because, one, you can just look them up on Amazon, and two, I hope you read them and form your own opinion.
These are books that have changed my thought process, and my perception of the world. Or I guess you could say my reality.