City of Wolves: The Arrest.

Decided to take a crack at A Writer’s Path’s challenge. The challenge was to write a scene that began with the sentence “It had been at least a minute since he last blinked.”

So this right here is my attempt. Hope you all enjoy it.

It had been at least a minute since he last blinked. They always did funny little things in the backseat whenever they were trying to hide something. This kid was no different.

Once I had this guy who shoved a bag full of meth right up his ass. Thing was so full that the pain was enough to keep his eyes open wider than Goldie Hawn’s for the better part of half an hour.

It was a look I was familiar with, so obviously this kid was not exactly on the up and up with me. He was trying to hold something back, so I thought he had to be involved somehow.

Before we get any further, let me just say this was the strangest case I ever worked.

My name is Jennifer Kessler, SFPD. I am a vet of this outfit of fifteen years and thought I had seen it all. Not just bags of ass meth but people screwing their pet dogs and setting them on fire, old bastards killing their own grandchildren for insurance money, snooty rich assholes going out on what they liked to call ‘hobo bumper.’ To see how many hobos they could bump with their bumper. But when you work a job like this, there is always something new.

The Butcher By the Bay case. You may have read about it in the papers. Worst serial I have ever worked in Frisco. He had been stalking our streets for the better part of two years now. Twenty confirmed victims at the time. But you know how cases like this work. There were probably a whole lot more.

Anyway, confirmed victim number twenty one just washed up in San Francisco bay this morning. Or at least the upper sixth of her did. Her head sat in a freezer somewhere for a couple of days, completely drained of any blood before it was placed inside a cooler and left adrift in the water. He probably got rid of all the blood so it wouldn’t hurt the copy of the latest bullshit poem he left behind.

Yep. The Butcher was one of those guys. He liked to sign his work.

My partner Adrienne Palmer and I were the first on the scene. She could tell I was starting to suffer from fatigue.

“Come on Jen. This case is getting to you. There is always one severed head too many.”

You know, the usual cliches. But they wouldn’t be cliches if there were not said often.

I have a thing about severed heads. Bad memories.

Despite being vertically challenged, this latest victim told us a whole lot. She didn’t show the signs of being held captive as all the others had. That and she was blonde. Our boy had a thing for brunettes.

Her name was Angie Fletcher. She was 18 years old and came all the way from Miami to go to school. She wanted to be a meteorologist and liked surfing and hiking. She was really good friends with another girl named Laurie Thompson. The two of them had gone out two nights ago and never came back. Laurie was still missing.

And she was a brunette.

Palmer and I guessed that this poor girl was just an appetizer for our guy. The other girl was the main course. He usually kept them for a week.

That left us five days.

Now this is where things started to get weird. These two kids found the cooler. Both of them weren’t even twenty yet.  There was a Native American kid going to one of the local colleges. I forget his name. One of those weird names that is a bit harder to say than something like Phil.

He had this friend with him, a rugged kid with the thickest Kentucky accent I had ever heard. They just seemed like two random kids out for a morning stroll along the beach. Both were pretty well jolted by the whole thing.

Especially the kid from Kentucky.

Ethan. That was his name. Ethan Wallace. I heard Palmer call him by name. She had seen him working odd jobs at lumber yards and food markets from time to time. Just a kid who lived paycheck to paycheck without any real aim in life.

Once we collected their statements and sent the two on their way, that should have been the end of it. So imagine my surprise when I bumped into Ethan again by the docks later that evening.

Our boy had finally made a small mistake. Our latest victim had a tattoo on the back of her neck. It was fresh. Fresh enough for her to have gotten it the day she died. That gave us a time and a place to begin. The design was very specific. Only one shop in town did it. This little shop headed by some graphic artists trying to pay their tuition.

I stopped by the place in the evening to interview the owners and scope the place out. That’s when I saw Ethan hanging out behind the shop in the alleyways like he was on the prowl.

He looked more than a little strung out. The kid drooled whenever he thought no one was looking, but what really took me was when he got down on all fours and smelled the ground, walls, pretty much every inch of that alleyway. I swear, this kid was acting like a bloodhound. I had seen some weird shit in narcotics, but nothing quite like this.

He grunted and groaned, even growled when he was back there.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I happen to see a material witness pop up randomly during an investigation and behaving in a way that is, in a word, slightly suspicious, I tend to think they may be involved in some way.

That and he bolted the moment he saw me. Never a good sign. But I caught him. My career began with chasing down some of the fastest junkies in Frisco. You better believe I caught this one.

That was just after six when I cuffed him and started driving to the station. I noticed right away that his eyes looked funny. Bloodshot. He couldn’t stop looking at the sun as it went down.

“Now don’t you pop up in the strangest places.” I said. “Why were you running?”

“I have to go to the bathroom?” He asked.

He didn’t say it. He asked. As if expecting me to answer.

“What are you? Ten?” I scoffed.

“Hey listen detective, I understand that you are just trying to do your job and all, but I really need to get going.”

“Must be one hell of a leak.” I said.

Just before you get out of the docks there are a bunch of railroad crossings. I was trying to beat one train that carried enough shrimp to make that Bubba guy from that one Tom Hanks movie blush. But it was a bit quick for me and I didn’t have too much of a death wish that evening.

So we were caught at the crossing. Train was going real slow, so the two of us would have some time to watch the shrimp go by.

“So how are you involved kid? You get your kicks out of crime scenes?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I was looking for the guy that did it.”

“Oh, were you looking for our boy? Sorry kid, but this isn’t the kind of case you want to go Charles Bronson with.”

“Bronson?” he laughed. “I was thinking Jodi Foster.”

“Another sign of our bankrupt culture. That Foster flick was just a remake of Death Wish. You ought to check that out and see a real movie.”

“Hey, don’t knock me!” he shouted. “I like Bronson. I saw that World War II movie he did.”

“Which one? The one with Lee Marvin or the one with Steve McQueen?”

He looked confused. “The one with Jim Brown. The football player?”

I nodded. “That’s the Lee Marvin one. Dirty Dozen. Classic.”

The sun dipped lower.

“Hey listen. I was just trying to help out. I am on your side here.” he tried to explain.

I wasn’t hearing it.

“Kid, as much as I am enjoying the movie trivia, you will still be getting some free room and board for the night.”

“Yeah, well I have caught a lot of guys.” he boasted. “I bet I have caught more guys than you.”

I turned back to him. “Oh really? Well do tell Dirty Harry. I would love to hear of your exploits.”

In the flashes of the passing train lights, I thought I saw something strange about him. He seemed pale. Looked like someone who had been going cold turkey.

By now, the sun was completely gone. The violet sky got darker and darker, and one by one, out came the stars.

Ethan took one look at that sky and lost it.

“Oh god. JC is going to kick my ass.” he laughed.

“Who is JC?” I asked.

“Trust me, detective. JC is not the kind of girl you want to meet.”

He leaned back in the back seat and shut his eyes. He started to hyperventilate. His skin got drenched with sweat. I could see him well enough now to see that he was pale. Defiantly sick. I have had a few junkies blow some chunkies in my back seat if you know what I mean. So I had a pretty good idea of what was coming next.

“Who did you catch, kid?” I asked him.

“The ones I catch, you don’t hear about.” he said.

He started to cough. I mean really cough. A cat with a tribble caught in its throat cough.

“Let me out or I will throw up.” he threatened me.

“Go ahead, kiddo. I have had worse things in the back of this car. The spot on the door? That was from this one time I drove a pregnant car crash victim to the hospital. She popped out twins right there on the leather. And that one spot, right where you are sitting, that was from this one time…”

His eyes snapped open. They had been bloodshot before, but now they were different. No longer red. I had seen lots of people on lots of drugs, but never one that made their eyes turn yellow.

Or their pupils change shape.

His eyes. This kid’s eyes were not human anymore. Everything was wrong. The pupils were wrong, the color was wrong, the irises were wrong. Even the size and shape was wrong. They were too round. Too big. They were a wolf’s eyes.

It had to be drugs. There couldn’t have been any other explanation. Had to be drugs.

I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder.

“Kid, what did you take?” I asked.

He shook his head. “ Nothing.”

I gripped his shoulder tight. “Kid, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you took. You tell me I can call a hospital, they will know what to do and be ready to pump your stomach by the time we…”

He opened his mouth and snarled. You may think snarl is an odd word choice, but you didn’t see those teeth. They were getting sharp. Right before my eyes they were changing shape, growing longer and getting a good deal more pointed.

“I took nothing.” He growled.

Forgive me for being more than a little lost when this started. I hadn’t exactly seen anything like this outside of Joe Dante and John Landis movies.

I think I managed to squeak out a “Kid.” in there somewhere, but it was hard to hear over those noises he made. Those noises. They weren’t even human anymore. It was like an animal.

He was like an animal. His shoulders has lurched back in a way that they should have broken. Sweat began to pour out of him in buckets and formed puddles on the seats. Thick black hair began to sprout all over his body. I heard a loud snap as the chain on the handcuffs broke. He reached out and grabbed the back of my seat. That is when I noticed the claws on his fingers. Still growing claws. They were doing a real number on my seats. I didn’t want to see how good a number they would do on my face and figured that was as good a sign as any to get the fuck out of the car.

“JC is going to be so pissed about this.” he managed to spray out along with a crap ton of spit. Most of which hit me in the face.

 The train had already gone by when I finally got out. It was just me, the car and him.

Only it wasn’t him anymore. I could barely even see what had been Ethan inside what was now in the back seat. It must have been half a foot taller, covered in black hair, and it was still changing.

The cloths on him tore to ribbons. I could hear his insides sloshing around, growing and shrinking, his bones crunching and twisting. He didn’t shift into this new shape. He lurched into it. With sudden jolts and surges, his features changed more and more.

It was starting to look like a wolf.

His canines became like a canine’s, his nose got covered in this rubbery black skin, his face was pushed out by something underneath. Oh good god if only you could hear that sound it made. It must have hurt like hell.

The entire thing didn’t take too long. Maybe a minute. Maybe two.

You know how some people say they get frozen with fear? Well, that show this kid put on had me more stiff than the stiffs that washed up on the bay from time to time.

By the time he was done, he was at least a foot and a half taller, and his face only had the smallest traces of being human. Completely covered in black hair, a hell of a lot better built. About the only thing that was human about him was he still walked on two legs. When he pulled his hands away from the back seat, the head rest came right off with them.

Not sure if he did that on purpose.

When it opened the door and stepped out, the sweat that drenched the back seats trickled out to onto the street.

Those yellow eyes focused right at me. The thing that had moments before been Ethan Wallace started to lick its lips.

Now I know what you are thinking. This is the part where I get torn to shreds, right? Wrong. Things still got stranger.

This thing didn’t lay a finger on me. Not one.

It did put its finger to its lips and went “Shhh.”

The thing grabbed what was left of its cloths out of the back seat and booked. And I didn’t go after it. I may be stubborn, but I am not stupid.

Like I said. Strangest case I ever worked, and that was just the beginning.

You may be wondering about the Butcher. The kid was telling the truth about that. He wasn’t involved. Neither was the other kid from the beach.

Ah. Kotori. That was his name.

And neither was this JC girl that Ethan mentioned before he started his Lon Cheney Jr. impression. I would meet them all given time. I would run into Kotori a few nights after this. And then I would run into her.

Jordan Childs. The alpha.

They were not involved in the murders yet, but they were about to get involved. Because I was about to get them involved. None of them may have been the Butcher, but the Butcher was an animal. With a case like that, it can’t be a bad thing to have a couple of werewolves in the rolodex.

Yes. I still use a rolodex. Get over it.

http://ryanlanz.com/2014/12/23/ten-quote-tuesday-20/

Progress on Proofreading and Illustration Coming Up

After taking a few days off from the book, proofreading and prose fixing on the book began again this week. A few hours ago, I finished a run through on chapter 4, leaving me with 16 chapters to go. This part is actually going surprisingly quickly, and has thus far actually been rather fun.

There is a certain comfort in having a finished book in front of you. It is much easier to see the mistakes and fix them accordingly then if it is bumbling around in your head with nowhere to go.

Writer’s block comes from one thing and one thing only. Fear of writing something bad. Best advice I ever got and best advice I can ever give, don’t be afraid to write something bad. Sometimes you need to look at that in order to fix the problem.

Pictured above is the progress that was made on the picture last week. Last week was an exceptionally busy week, so I was sadly unable to post it then. But the Great Red Wyrm is here now, and he shall be continuing to take shape as the weeks go on.

Since the polishing is coming along and since I attended a networking event today and actually met a literary agent who may be able to get this to some publishers, we will be working on picking up the pace.

Joe & I have some laughs

Though it would be interesting if all of you could get to know a few of us as individuals.

Artist Joseph Buehrer and I are actually very good friends, and we regularly hang out whenever possible. During a visit to Ohio last December, Joe and I got together and finished a little side project of ours, a V Log we had teased a few months prior.

You see, Joe and I have a little series. I, being a fan of exploitation and horror films, show Joe some movies that have managed to elude him, such as Videodrome and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In return, Joe delves into his expertise of anime and shows me films like Afro Samurai and Ghost in the Shell 2.

In this video, we watch the notorious cult film I Spit On Your Grave, Roger Ebert’s most hated film, and tape our reactions to it before providing our final thoughts.

Though this video was shot back in December, there were lots of transfer problems which ended up marring the final video. Since the raw footage still exists, I will eventually be able to provide a much cleaner image for the channel.

Anyway, hope you all enjoy.

We Did It

At 6:35 Pacific Standard Time on March 18th, 2015, it happened.

There was a gap between the material I was writing and the pre-determined ending of the book, and at that minute on that day, that gap was closed.

I must confess to not being completely prepared for the relief that followed. Perhaps knowing that there is still much work to do with the manuscript before it is time to send it off to a publisher is what made me think that, but the moment that gap was closed, a feeling of accomplishment took me, and I felt validation.

435 pages, 156, 383 words and 20 chapters.

Apart from that, well over 1000 pages were written and an untold number of words, very little of which has gone into this current version of the manuscript.

Even though the majority of the chapters need prose to be fixed, the characters need further dimensions and many things need to be moved and refurbished to find a proper place in the overall story, the simple fact remains. This manuscript is uninterrupted. It goes from beginning to end without a break, and that alone qualifies it as a finished book.

It is hard to believe it has only been since June that serious writing on this story began, and now only a few remain before it is ready for the long and perilous journey to find a publisher.

This opens up a little more time for me to work on other things. My two scripts, a horror comedy and a supernatural sleuth story can certainly benefit from some attention. I have a Youtube channel that is actually starting to get some views, so new content is required there. On top of that, there is still much to do with this story and these characters. More world building articles for the site, more illustrations needed from Joe for when we finally get it printed, and of course further installments. I have at least two more books in mind, though there may be as many as eight swimming around upstairs. We will see what the future holds.

But this draft is done, and once the prose is fixed, the search will begin. It has been a blessing to meet these characters, and in the time we have spent together, we have all become very close. Though we have many travels ahead, I am certain they can give me the strength to see it through to the end.

Thank you Cullen McCurdy, David Spada, Joseph Buehrer, Fallon Leigh Walker, Steven Hilton, Jack Edwards and Rishon Cox for walking this road with me. I would have never made it this far without you.

Thank you to Zhyx, River, Celice, Blondie, Hunter, Glaive and all the rest for choosing to carry this tale. It would have not been possible without your input.

And thanks to all of you reading this for showing me that this pursuit was not fruitless. That it mattered to someone as much as it mattered to me.

Above pictured is Joe’s progress on the illustration. We have another world building article in the proofreading stage, and I will be working to fix up a few chapters a week. It shouldn’t be long before the current and final versions of chapters 1 and 2 are available for you to view, and hopefully you will have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

I will see you all soon.

Current Manuscript State, Next Meeting and World Building

It has happened. The manuscript broke 400 pages, currently rests at 144,000 words, and still has two chapters to go before it is done. I never dreamed my first book would be so long, and to have made it this fat in such a short time, with such great support from friends and family has been a very rewarding journey.

My next meeting with artist Joseph Buehrer will be taking place this coming Saturday, with more of his fine work to be posted. In addition to this, I will craft new pages for the concept art section detailing the step by step evolution for each of Joe’s pictures.

I have been so busy focusing on the book itself as to not have much time to craft articles for the world building section. a duty which was taken up by my editor and dear friend Cullen McCurdy. I will be sending him my notes on certain articles periodically, and he will be furnishing me with drafts of the articles, which I will in turn bring to you.

You can check out Cullen’s own site here.

https://mccurdyc.wordpress.com

The first article articles deals with the history of the city of Ganbury, and the Tower of Every War, both of which are two of the most important landmarks in this book. I hope you all enjoy this little example of universe building. Rest assured, there is more to come. Hope you all enjoy this one.

https://zhyxthenovel.wordpress.com/world-building/a-brief-history-of-ganbury-and-the-every-war-tower/

Only Since June

Much has happened the last few days.

This manuscript has climbed up to over 138,000 words and currently stands at 388 pages. At the very least, there is still a chapter and a half to go. Everyone over on this end, myself, illustrator Joseph Buehrer, editor Cullen McCurdy and concept artist David Spada are very enthusiastic about our progress.

I must apologize for my tardiness. Things have been picking up at my internship. I am with a film distribution company right now, and we are prepping a deal to produce a film for a major TV network. That has taken up a good portion of my time, but I would never dream of abandoning this project. Not now. Not after coming this far and not after all the time and effort that Joe, Cullen and David have been so kind to invest in it.

Though this story began shortly after I left high school, it was only last June that the effort to put it into novel form got underway. It is hard to believe that in that time, a first draft of the book was finished and a new one put to the page, and now that draft is nearing completion. And I never thought it would break 400 pages, but right now, that is pretty much inevitable.

Illustrations are coming along as well, and this next one looks to be more stunning than the last. Another sneak preview is attached for you all to enjoy.

I did a lot of work on the prose in the first few chapters as well, working on chapters 1 through 4 during a nasty bout of writer’s block. The new drafts of chapters 1 and 2 will be posted here, but not until they have been thoroughly proofread. After all, it would be cruel to subject all you fine people to the horrors of typos.

Additional world building articles are also in the early concept stages. Due to a now pretty full schedule, finding the time to put them to the page has been a chore, but it will be done.

As for Zhyx and Heavy, they are in the midst of their final bitter skirmish, and the fight between them is akin to the end of the world. Hopefully when this hits the shelves, you will enjoy reading it as much as we did making it.

Zhyx & Heavy Comparison