That time Kris was scared of Tina

Kris here

Tina’s been writing quite a bit lately about some personal things she’s been going through and I’m very proud she’s advanced to the point that she can share these things. She gave me the go ahead recently to discuss another rare facet of her glowing personality, so I decided to give it a brief mention. Something she can’t tell you about, because she’s never been there!

There are a lot of preconceptions in the world, and I’m not really sure how or where I’ve built all mine up. The one I wasn’t prepared to have shattered was the one about sleepwalking. Do people actually sleepwalk? Heck I don’t know, it’s just a movie trope I guess. I’ve moved rooms and not remembered it, or told someone how to solve a math problem and then lapsed into unconsciousness. Is that sleepwalking? Maybe, but let me tell you about some stuff I’ve learned in the last ten years.

Firstly, there are different levels of sleep walking and my experiences certainly don’t span the spectrum – they only span my wife.

The first time I encountered this was about seven or eight years ago. Tina jabbed me awake a bit roughly, so I jolted up like the house was on fire. “Zomg what’s wrong!” I looked to my adorable wife in alarm. She stared at me. Just..staring. And then she handed me a small children’s toy. Okay sure, but what’s the matter! I took the toy from her hands and investigated, maybe it was actually going to explode? No, no it’s just a toy. She bolted from the room into the pitch-black kitchen and rushed over to the fridge and just stood there. She was staring at the closed laundry door for about a minute or so in the darkness and obviously I’m a grown adult, so I’m not going anywhere near. I’ve seen the Blair Witch project dang it. She yanked the freezer open, talking about “I have to save them! I have to save them” Looking frantically, tossing stuff every which way. I flipped the light on in my room and followed her into the kitchen.

“Saving who Tina?”

She plucks this bag out of the freezer in triumph, backing away from me clutching the bag like a stolen candy bar. “I have to save the peas”

“The …the peas?”

My wide-eyed wife ran into the bathroom with those frozen peas and climbed into the bathtub, where she stayed in a state of panic until she fell asleep about 5 minutes later. A minute or two following, she woke up super groggy and disoriented.

“Kris, why am I in the bathtub?”

What did we learn from this experience? Well, Tina is just so cute and terrifying. Sleep walking can apparently turn you into a different person with very different goals than your usual self. Lastly, if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and then runs off into the other room to stand unmoving in the darkness, just hide until they get into the bathtub and everything should be fine.

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Kris’s random totally-not-procrastinating blog about a dream

Kris here,

I’m a big fan of scary stuff. Movies and games, stories, creepypastas, SCPs. Not the gory stuff, that’s actually terrible and I hate it, but if you throw me at a spooky world filled with ghosts or monsters lurking beneath, chances are pretty good that I love it. I think it’s because I accidentally watched one of the Poltergeist movies as a 4/5 year old after everyone had fallen asleep. Sitting in the dark listening to some tiny lady talking about some ghosts and go to the light child, it gave me nightmares for about a decade. Which was great!

I’ve actually spent a good while seeking out good nightmare stories on the internet over the years, so if anybody knows a fabulous one, go ahead and throw it my way.

I don’t really mind the scary dreams though, I kind of prefer them. I’ve had a bit of a recurring dream recently. Well, more like a recurring place. I’ve dreamt about this big spooky, dilapidated mansion 5 or 6 times in the last few months – but every time I do, I remember stuff from the last time I was there. Once I even brought Tina for some reason, and she was like “oh well we have to bring Nik” and dream Kris was like “are you crazy this place is haunted we can’t bring a 6 year old!” Obviously we did bring him and he gets lost and I wake up while my dream haunted mansion slams a door in my face with Nik on the other side.

Thanks dream, I really like a good adrenaline rush to get going in the morning.

For anyone out there like me, surrounded by people who hate being scared, here are some classic fallbacks I recommend:

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Anasi’s_Goatman_Story – This one might be hard to read if you’re not a fan of the greentext style, or the more casual (read: bad words) style of storytelling. I don’t let things like that get in my way but I understand we all have our sensitivities.

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Smiling_Man – This is a pretty brief story, nothing extravagent but still a good read.

http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-087 – Man this story is super classic, I’ve read it like 5 times. It’s just fabulous. The entirety of the scp-wiki site could honestly be featured here because there’s a lot of good writing, but not all of it is spoopy and I’ve only read about a hundred or so.

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Ted_the_Caver – I don’t have a particular affinity to creepypasta wiki or anything, but it’s a convenient aggregate of stories that I’ve read over the years so why not keep it simple? Ted the caver was such a sinkhole of amazing when I read it a few years ago, I can’t not recommend that everyone just take some time to read the whole thing right now.

Leave a comment and share your favorites, let’s make sure we sleep with the lights on for a week!

That *one* time Kris skipped school to read

Kris here,

Long ago when the world was still young, I attended high school. I was thinking about it recently for one reason or another and I was reminded about the time that I accidentally skipped a week of school to read a couple of books I’d stumbled upon.

Don’t worry, I caught up with my schoolwork. In fact, I’m pretty sure my teachers at the time were relieved for a momentary reprieve.

And yes, my mother did in fact try making me go to school. I told her I was sick and how irresponsible would it be for me to be selfish and go to school. It wasn’t a lie technically, I was sick of not having read those books already.

But I digress.

The books in question were specifically The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings. I loved the characters’ personalities and conflicts, as well as just the entire everything about Belgarath. I didn’t even actually like the main character of the story for about 80% of the story, but the world was so fleshed out and all the other characters were written so amazingly. I didn’t necessarily hate the MC, more along the lines of him just being so underwhelming next to everyone else.

Okay yeah he was like 15 or whatever and my favorite character was a thousands-of-years-old sorcerer who literally drove the direction of the world. I guess I have to give him a year or two to mature before he fits in with his traveling companions of sorcerers and royalty.

Now that I’m older and better read, I’m able to recognize the hilarious number of tropes and cliches written into that story so brazenly. I’m almost positive Eddings sat down one day thinking, “I bet I could just mash together every fantasy stereotype and everyone would buy it. I’m not going to even hide it, fight me world.” He made it work, so I can’t complain.

The story itself revolves around a kid named Garion who lives with his aunt Pol on a farm for a decade and a half or so. One day a super important orb is stolen by the evil main character to awaken the evil god and we all gotta go stop it. The journey is long and dangerous and explores the world in question through some pretty diverse backgrounds. It’s also one of the first stories I read that spans a time of years, instead of everything happening quickly and immediately.

It isn’t an in-depth, complex look at humanity or anything like that; good guys are GREAT, bad guys literally sacrifice to their god by cutting the hearts from living victims. So the bad guys are BAD. There’s a prophecy and some interactions with a few gods and all in all, it was amazing. I recommend it whole-heartedly for any fantasy fan. It’s a bit of a lengthy read, but I’m not sure why that would put a damper on anyone.

I actually started reading the series to my 5 year old for a week or two before remembering that, oh right – there are some pretty descriptive death and murder scenes written in. Nothing gory or crazy, but almost guaranteed to give the child nightmares for a while. I had to give up on it for now, but we’ll resume in a few years.

Happy 2018 to all, and to all a good fight. With our bad habits, of course

Kris here,

I hope everyone had a fabulous last couple weeks. The celebrations, the ear infections, school’s out so all your children are stuck at home. What a truly amazing time. Around this time last year we started our blog, so it’s exciting to look back and see what we’ve accomplished in a year’s time. My first post of 2017 was about making bite-sized goals for yourself in light of the “New Year’s Resolution” fever we all get around December 31st. I definitely think it helped me start building a goal-oriented foundation. Last year, Tina and I made some good strides forward in writing, I got a few hundred miles of running in, and Nik is on the verge of reading!

Here’s to hoping the new year is chock full of progress and candy while we reach for those lofty aspirations. Well probably not candy, Tina always steals mine.

In November, I put about 30,000 words into a new story (which was NOT the story I’d been planning for months) and I’ve been throwing a few hundred words at it every couple of days. One aspiration I have this year is to get that sucker first-drafted so I can start editing it a bit, and then start work on my 2nd through 45th drafts too. I know Tina is a good way ahead of me in her own story, so maybe we can both wrap those up by year’s end. I plan on trying for about 10-12,000 words each month. This would put me about 150,000 words by December, which is a splendid goal indeed.

Something else I’ve been working on lately has been a lot of running. I know, I know. There’s no “Keyboard” in running, but that’s totally fine. The last few months I’ve gone from “running about 30 seconds and then being dead” to “running for 5 minutes and then dying,” so there’s definite progress there. I’m looking to throw at least 10 miles per month into that endeavor. It’s not a lot, but don’t forget about that 120,000 word thing I said earlier!

Lastly, my third goal is this silly blog. Tina and I swap every week so we each get to participate, but throwing short stories or chapters or something up randomly makes it hard to know when we’re writing about writing or actually doing the writing. Subject to change, I believe I’ll start putting any kind of stories up on say, Saturday or Sunday. We may also change Wednesdays to story day and blog day can be on the weekend. I’m sure everything (read: my wife) will get this whole thing sorted eventually.

Whatever your goals for the year, be sure to make them into a CRAP list! You know: concise, repeatable, actionable and productive. Know what you want the end result to be, then break up your progress into smaller, easier blocks. You also need to write everything down so your brain doesn’t pull a fast one. Good luck out there, and remember; it’s easier to walk a mile a day for 1000 days, than to walk 1000 miles in one day!

Nan-oh-noooo

Kris here,

November’s come and gone and I just wasn’t good enough to join Tina’s book club this time around. I pulled up about 35,000 words for November averaging a bit over 1000 each day – not bad, but some of the other writers out there were leaving me in the dust! I didn’t expect I’d hit the full 50k mark from the start, so making it 2/3 of the way is alright by me for now.

One important lesson I learned last month was just how many things the world could throw at you when you’re trying to get some danged work done around here. More importantly, I have 3 acts written down for my story, and in 35,000 words I’m barely halfway through the first act! The small half that is. My primary concern is that my verbosity is getting the better of me, and my main character may not need to adverb everything he does. On the other hand, shut up he’s my main character. Goddangit if I want him to thirstily gulp his refreshing spring water in order to blanket his fatigued body in the relaxing, refreshing shade of the quiet bungalow then that’s just what he’ll do.

Yeah so as you see, I have a few days…years? Worth of editing to do. It’s fine, I’ll do it all later, I just need to get everything laid out now so I can rewrite it 11 times before tricking someone I’m not married to to read it. While I’m off doing that, here’s another quick thing I wrote for my adorable wife for Christmas!

::Strangers at Dusk::

A solitary stranger rode into town on a blustery day. Snow driving itself into piles against the empty wooden jailhouse, the clanging of spurs echoed round the ghost town. He hoisted himself out of the saddle, bracing himself against the impressive antlers on this enormous buck. Floorboards creaked and groaned at his landing, glass rattling in its loose enclosure.

“I reckon I come to the right place.”

He caught sight of a few folk peeking through windows and he smiled leisurely at their panic behind the blinds. “Good.” 

Black, soft boots left no prints as he smashed the door to the jail. ‘That’s no good at all.’ Furrowed brows drew together as he casually observed the small, empty cells and grunted. Sliding his red vest aside, the figure loosed his six shooters in their holsters.

“Whoa boy. You wait here, this is like to be dangerous.” He steadied his steed with a firm touch on its glossy nose and moved ahead. He heard shouts across town from the iron mine that was these peoples’ lifeblood. 

That was where he would find his prey. 

Itching for action, the man kept his hands at the ready on his stroll through town. His massive beard catching thousands of snowflakes as his reached around and brought his rifle to the ready. Crunching snow beneath his boots, he finally came to the end of the road. 

A fierce bald man with a scraggly beard waved a pickaxe threateningly at a small pair cowering before him in the snow and demanded they open the bank.

“But sir, we have no banks. We work for the old lord in the castle!”

Biting down on the pipe between his teeth, the massive gunslinger closed the distance to the grizzled old bandit’s back and swung his rifle like a club. Crack! The old miner rolled down the hill to the mouth of the cavernous mining tunnel. “Ya ain’t good enough for bullets.”

Whirling to face the assailant, an angry prospector lit a stick of dynamite quickly and hurled it up the hill. “These people belong to me now. It’s time for you to die, fool!”

Seconds later, thunder rang through the valley. Chapped lips blew the smoking rifle barrel as the old prospector watched his dynamite fall uselessly to the ground.

“I’m afraid you’ve worn out your welcome, friend. I aim to take you down.” Another bullet loaded into the rifle as his voice reverberated through town like an earthquake. 

A roar behind him drew his gaze suddenly. The earth shook with every giant step. Dazzlingly white fur reflected the sunlight as the snow monster plowed through the pair of elves on the ground, hurling them across the street.

“Come on then, you varmant”

Widening his stance and training the sights on the enraged beast, the lone man set his rifle against his shoulder and waited.

Closer, the monster rampaged, grabbing up a dropped hatchet and flinging it at his oppenent – only to have it blasted to the side with thunderous retort.

The gunman quickly slid a large caliber round into the barrel of his Winchester with the monster bearing down on him. 

Planting the gun between him and the beast, he pulled the trigger as the monster made to leap over him with a deafening screech. The creature’s new hole and the blood staining his red suit gave testament to its pain, and proved the hunters’ wrath against the monsters’ body. It flew at him again in a frenzy, ripping the rifle away from him. 

The old man took a solid hit to the jaw. Catching the monsters’ next swing, he used the momentum to launch his massive body into the air and delivered a stunning kick to the side of its furry head. The monster howled and clamped its teeth loudly all about as if to bite him in two. Shouldering it violently, the old man gave it a heavy round of justice to the stomache before finally hurling it at the dastardly prospector below.

At the sight of his two henchmen defeated so easily, the villain moved to flee to the labyrinth inside the mine when a resounding retort of gunfire stopped him short. 

This bullet had singed his moustache clean off, infuriating the bandit. Scowling, he turned to the lawman. 

“Your aim is slipping, old man.” His eyes darted to and fro, searching for a weapon against his longtime nemesis.

“It looks like we have ourselves a problem, here. A yellow, snively coward without a gun stands before me begging to die. But no weapon in sight?” 

Drawing a peacekeeper from his belt, he shined it against the white fur trim on his coat and threw it to the ground in front of his opponent.
“Alright scum. Draw.”

Both men twitched at the trigger. Greasy, unkempt hair topping a mug who’d never known shame stared into the abyss that was the other’s face. Twinkling eyes set under a red and white fur hat, promising him an eternal reward for blinking first.

Lightning struck the old church steeple on the hill with an explosion of thunder bathing the two men in destruction.

When the light dimmed, only one man remained.

Spurs jingling against his boots, the big man sidled over and retrieved his favorite gun. Tipping his furred cap at the terrified townspeople looking out at him, he wandered back to his partner and pulled himself to the saddle once more. “Alright Rudolph, let’s get a move on boy.” The two left as quietly as they came, a wake of dead bandits at their backs.

“Merry Christmas to all, and don’t break the law.”

Kris writes a Christmas story. Well..

Let’s all get into the holiday spirits. Haha, spirits.

Kris here,

Let me tell you, Tina loves to celebrate holidays something fierce, and has ever since we met. I’m afraid my apathy and general disgruntlement regarding holidays might wear off on her eventually though and that would be super sad, so I’ve taken this year to start my holiday spiritualization quest. To begin, I’ve written a silly short story about Christmas eve. More specifically, a story to tell my child to make sure he never tries to sneak into his presents early ever.

Let’s call it “Peeking at Presents”

***

Blanketed in darkness, Mortimer began his nimble descent. His ninja-like reflexes served him well as he rolled off the top bunk, landing in a crouch with a soft thump in the night. Quickly surveying his surroundings, he was relieved he hadn’t been discovered. His room was exactly the same as several seconds earlier.

Whisking himself away into the night, Mort latched onto the doorknob and silently slipped into the dark hallway. He rolled out of his door to the pitch-dark cavern beyond.

Sliding along with his fingertips brushing the rough paint, he hit his first landmark. The bathroom door. Ever so slowly, he slid his toes against the rough carpet until he felt the cool, glossy finish of the dining room.

Suddenly he froze. Did someone whisper his name? A chill wind crept across the back of his neck. Maybe someone forgot to shut a window. He couldn’t leave any loose ends behind him though, that could only spell his doom.

Changing course, he tiptoed to his parents’ room in the hallway adjacent to the one he’d just left. Cautiously groping the still air, he found the door and crouched low to listen.

Strange, it was a lot darker than yesterday when he snuck out to acquire the gingerbread cookies.

Ah, there’s the culprit.

None of the clocks in the kitchen were on. The snow must have killed the power again. In that case, he could afford to hurry. It was too dark for anyone to see him sneaking around. Plus it seemed like it was going to get much colder. After some reconnaissance, he could retreat to the safety of his favorite quilt. He confirmed the whispering in the vicinity of his parents’ room, and it was time to strike.

Darting up off the ground, he snuck back the way he’d come. Nearly falling headlong over a forgotten chair, he skirted as far around the table as he dared until he bumped into the door joining the dining room to the kitchen. Maneuvering until he could just make out the metallic smell of the door handle, he lowered the latch to the door carefully. An icy burst of air bumped the door into his nose, setting his heart aquiver.

Blinking in a daze, he let his ears adjust in the darkness. Still with the whispering! Was he hearing things? It sounded the same as before, but he could almost make out the words this time. Was that his name? Why were his parents so loud, or was that them? Maybe it was a living room window open and there were-

Gasp!

What if robbers were trying to get in! Mort slunk to the floor with narrowed eyes.

Nobody was getting into this house on his watch.

Stalking into the living room with his arms at the ready, he crept into the middle of the room to pinpoint the direction of the whispering.

Mort almost cried out in pain then, as the Christmas tree flared up in all it’s multicolored glory. He blinked away the tears from being blinded and dove under an end table to assess the situation. The whispering had silenced itself in the glow of the Christmas lights. Are the lights on a timer? Clever mom and dad, had they minimized the lighting to deter him from this mission? It must be Christmas then, they rigged the tree to turn on at midnight!

Or was it motion activated? A trap? His parents were worthy adversaries indeed. After several minutes though, it was clear nobody was coming. What good was a trap if you fell asleep guarding it, sheesh.

Mort took a quick inventory of the windows, confirmed they were all closed and locked, and leaped silently to his quarry. Eyes all a sparkle, he marveled at the mountain of colorfully wrapped packages in front of him.

“Wooow.” Whispering in glee, he quickly took inventory and separated the gifts labeled for him. Ugh, why did Marina have so many? She already had about a thousand sippy cups and stuffed animals, how many more could one girl use? He shuffled hers behind all the others and grabbed a few of his more promising looking ones. Giving a last long look and listen to make sure he was alone, Mort carefully, silently peeled back the sticky tape sealing his treasure.

There was a painting in the first package. Cool, a painting! Turning it so the tree lit it up, he was. Well, confused. It looked like someone had thrown a bucket of red paint at the canvas and then scratched out the silhouette of a person, just black ink on their fingernails. At least, he thought it was a person. There were no real defining traits except holes where the eyes would be, the vibrant red bled through and looked right through him no matter which direction he pointed the picture. Shuddering, he shoved the canvas back into its wrapping and tossed it to the back of the pile.

He grabbed a heftier package then, one with more bulk. He rocked it back and forth and a faint twinkling sang out into the night. The boy tapped his lip in thought for a few moments before carefully revealing this one too. Inside was a magic question ball. “Well, at least it isn’t socks.” He whispered to himself.

Whipping his head around at the sudden sound of hushed laughter, his eyes swept the area clean.

“Hello”

He waited a minute after whispering to the empty living room. Must be hearing things. He shook the ball in his hand without much thought, alarmed to see a picture of himself smiling inside.

“What the?”

He shook it a few more times: Him smiling but with pointed teeth. Him cowering in fear. Him staring angrily straight at his real self. Recalling Halloween when he’d asked for some scary stories for Christmas, he silently chastised his parents. This was a little too far guys. Sliding the ball back into its box and then into the paper, he caught a glimpse of the picture glaring at him before it disappeared behind the holographic snowflake wrapping. Tossing this one back with the painting, Mort decided to call it a day.

Downtrodden, he turned to sulk back to his room. He nearly fell flat on his face tripping over a small package.

“Mew.”

“What!?” His eyes went wide as the small box mewed its little heart out. “You can’t put a kitten in a box!” Mort’s joy at hearing the meowing turned to panic as he thought of how scared a little kitten would be, how hungry it was. It must have been freezing in there! He ungraciously ripped the paper and threw it to the floor. A few minutes fighting the tape later, it was finally free.

“Got it!” He threw open one of the box flaps, and the world plunged into darkness. The Christmas tree couldn’t have picked a worse time. He groped for the second box flap when the cat inside the box yowled loudly, ferociously.

“It’s okay little guy, I’m your friend!” He cooed to the spitting feline hesitantly, then slowly lowered his hand gently until he brushed the bottom.

“Huh?”

Small hands explored the empty package frantically. Nothing. The hissing and growling stopped abruptly. Nervously, Mort tossed the box at the tree and backed away. The hair on his neck stood at end, reacting to the voices suddenly whispering his name. Harsh breath tickled the inside of his ears. Tears of fear welled up in his eyes, disorienting him even in the inky darkness. Invisible fingers traced their way up his back.. Mort panicked, bolting for the kitchen door.

Before he arrived, the darkness shifted and writhed around him, a living wall of shadow. A cat shaped itself out of ethereal shadows. Mort froze in place. The cat couldn’t be real, he could see the door right through it. But if it wasn’t real, why did he see the door in its sickly glow? He decided to take the chance. It couldn’t be real.

The apparition arched its back, growling and flicking at him with translucent claws. Shrieking in a human voice, the cat leaped at his face! Burning eyes and fetid breath burrowed into his mind. Mort yelled out and tripped over his own feet, dragging himself backward.

The cat was gone.

He flung himself off the ground into the nook of the fireplace. His back against the solid wall made him feel safer, and he could see the entire room from here. Well, would have anyway with some light. The deafening silence roared in his ears as spectral shapes flickered in and out.

Mort stayed very still, scarcely daring to breathe.

After a few minutes, he conjured his ninja alter-ego, Mortimer Wild the Kid. Elite super spy. He wouldn’t let himself be chased into corners by shadows and whispers!

Drawing to his full height, he took a defiant step forward, daring the shadows to come at him. Puffed up his chest with the next step, and then balled his fists at his side to-

An icy claw stabbed into is ankle, a strangled scream choking the boy. He fell into the tree face first. Every fake pine needle on the fake tree stabbed at him with malice, shoving him to the floor. The skeletal grip pulled him inexorably into the fireplace. His racing heart drown the rest of the world. Mort’s eyes were wide, gaping at the ethereal sinister face coalescing in the blackness. Its twisted smile laughing without a sound, opening ever wider as it drew him into its mouth.

No longer fighting the streaming tears, Mort pried violently at the clammy fist. He winced as his fingernails broke and bent backward, but still it remained.

He locked eyes with the monster in the fireplace, its gaze piercing his soul. The two stared unblinking for an eternity.

Bright light cut into his eyes suddenly, blinding him even worse than the horrible darkness.

“Mort, what the heck are you doing out here man?”

His fathers’ irritated voice rang hollow in Mort’s ears, bouncing to and fro in his head until he was ripped back to his senses.

“Dad!” Mort flung himself across the room into his fathers’ arms, burying his face into strong shoulders. Waves of relief washed over him, terrified sobs wracking his small frame. “Dad there’s something in the fireplace! It tried to eat me and I couldn’t get away and there was a cat and it tried to claw my face off and all the lights were off but the Christm-”

“Mort, Mort. It’s okay son, I’m right here buddy. You’re totally fine, you just had a nightmare.”

“No it was real! I saw the painting and the eight ball under the tree and then-”

“Judging by the paper all over the floor, I already know what you were doing.” Sighing, his father continued, “we told you if you couldn’t wait until Christmas day to open your presents that we’d have to take them back, didn’t we?”

His father’s stern voice held little room for discussion. Gathering Mort in his arms, the two traveled to his now brightly lit room.

An hour later, Mort lie in bed staring at the waving shadows on the ceiling. He promised to stay in bed so they wouldn’t throw away his presents, but the loud whispering in his bed and the yowling cat outside promised to make this night a very long one.