My Tale in 20 #Tweets, WALKER, has just been posted to Twitter. It was written on my 70 year old Royal typewriter before making the pounce into cyberspace. If you’re curious about the inspiration behind my latest project you can read about it here:
Here’s my latest entry:
1 Arthur Pence stepped out of his townhouse and smiled up at a long stretch of salmon scale clouds, a luminescent pink in the morning sun.
2 He tightened his trench coat and started down the steps. Only to freeze for reasons that had nothing to do with the brisk December air.
3 He gawked down at a set of footprints in the fresh fallen snow of the front yard. Only they weren’t footprints. They were hoof prints.
4 They were impossible prints, any man would tell you, for the most obvious of reasons. There was only a single pair of them.
5 The sight of that single pair of prints, as though made by a man with goat hooves for legs, filled Arthur Pence with a sinking dread.
6 The sight and the sensation combined to make Arthur forget about his planned day at the antique shop and restoring that Edwardian cabinet.
7 There was only a sense of certain doom, as though this were a Grim Reaper calling card, left in the gleaming sunlight for all to see.
8 The dread sank deeper into his bowels at the sound of footfalls. He looked up as his neighbour, a portly bald man named Syms, approached.
9 “Damnedest thing,” Syms said, as he stopped by Arthur, who eyed him curiously. There was something off about the retired engineer.
10 Syms looked lost, haunted. Somehow sheepish. He chewed on his lower lip as his eyes darted over the length of the tracks and back again.
11 “What is it?” asked Arthur, his throat dry. Syms threw him the barest glance and looked back to the ground. “Saw something last night.”
12 “Some . . . thing.” A curt nod from the engineer. “It was . . . dark. That streetlight’s on the fritz. But . . .” He shook his head.
13 Arthur’s heart was pounding now. His voice came in the faintest whisper. “But what?” “Saw someone walkin across the yard,” Syms said.
14 A long pause followed. In it a young couple came down the sidewalk, hand in hand. They saw the prints. “Some kinda joke?” The guy said.
15 Arthur forced a chuckle. “Yeah. Just turned 40.” Which happened to be true. The couple walked on. “I gotta go,” Syms said suddenly.
16 “Wait!” Syms stopped, but didn’t look back. “From the waist down he looked like a goat. Later I thought I dreamed it. But now this.”
17 With that the engineer bolted back across his driveway and into his house. With a last look to the tracks Arthur turned and went inside.
18 With trembling hands Arthur picked up his phone and called his doctor’s office. With a trembling voice he asked for more sleeping pills.
19 As he spoke he kicked off a prosthetic leg and gave himself a scratch low on his shank. Then he frowned down at a hoof that needed a trim.
20 When he finished on the phone he slumped against the kitchen counter with a heavy sigh. “Sleep walking is going to kill me,” he said.
My Tales in 20 Tweets heated up today with my first story to leave me open to the possibility of litigation. (PLEASE SUE ME SETH MACFARLANE!) The story was just posted on twitter, and is placed here for more leisurely consideration by the Family Guy legal team. Enjoy!
THE INCARNATE EVIL OF SETH MACFARLANE
1 Harold Rhymes, 86, knew that the moral collapse of western civilization began with the words “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.”
2 But after encountering the work of Seth MacFarlane, Harold came to realize that this moral collapse was complete. It happened like this:
3 Harold was reading the evening paper and smoking in the back porch of his Kentucky farmhouse when a shriek came from the living room.
4 The cry quickened his arthritic limbs in a way he had no longer thought possible. He made it to the living room at a trot in 6 seconds.
5 His 9 year old grandson Tyler was wailing in his mother’s arms. His twin sister Tanya was on the loveseat, typing on her smart phone.
6 “It’s just a dumb cartoon,” she said, as her brother screamed. A toon with the worst animation Harold had ever seen was playing on the TV.
7 Francine scooped up her son, who was now as purple as that dumb dinosaur he used to watch. They rushed past grandpa and off down the hall.
8 “Brian’s dead,” Tanya said, without looking up from her phone. “Who?” asked Harold. She shrugged toward the TV. “The dog on Family Guy.”
9 Harold gave a Clint Eastwood squint to the tube, then joined his daughter and the lad, who was hugging his knees and sobbing on his bed.
10 The two worked their magic and the boy settled. Until his sister came by and called him a cry baby for bawling over a dog on a cartoon.
11 Tyler screamed “I’m over it! I don’t even remember Brian’s name!” The bawling session went on with renewed vigor for a good 20 minutes.
12 After Harold told Tanya to stop stirring the poop he got her to explain what the fuss was about. She produced a box set of a TV show.
13 Harold considered the title. Family Guy. Didn’t sound bad. Sorta like a cartoon Waltons. Maybe they did a show inspired by Old Yeller.
14 Tanya, who was indeed a first class poop stirrer, suggested they watch some of it. Harold shrugged. “Fire up the VCR,” he said.
15 Tanya loaded the DVD and cuddled up with her grandpa as it began. Then the veteran of D-Day learned a new meaning for the word offensive.
16 The humor ranged from scatological to violations of everything sacred and holy. The worst was an old pedophile who groped after the son.
17 But really the father was no better. He all but masturbated on screen. Then there was the suspiciously effeminate black man with a lisp.
18 By the time the cartoon father simulated intercourse with a tunnel using a car, Harold had enough. “Rewind it,” he rasped.
19 Tanya grinned and rewound the ‘VCR’ by running the DVD backwards at x64 speed. Then she hugged her shell shocked grandpa and went to bed.
20 Harold gawked at a name on the box, the supreme corruptor of the innocent since the serpent in the garden. “Seth MacFarlane,” he said.
My latest tale in 20 tweets, the stand alone story BOOK GIRL, has just been posted to Twitter. New entries each Friday at 10 AM Eastern.
This story is lovingly dedicated to my daughter Caley.
BOOK GIRL by DJ Britt
1 Caley was reading Ender’s Game as we drove home from Regina. Which is a city on the Canadian Prairies if you care. Or even if you don’t.
2 It was the opening of THOR 2. My 17 year old daughter passed up 2 free showings of it, a reward for her volunteer work, to see me instead.
3 I glanced at her book as we drove. She was on page 70. A few moments later I looked again. She was on page 83. “You’re a fast reader.”
4 She always has been. On one drive she inhaled one of the Twilight novels. Now I nodded to Ender’s Game, which is in theaters everywhere.
5 “There must be some way to exploit this.” She gave a bewildered chuckle. “Whataya mean?” “This power of yours,” I said.
6 Her eyes widened in disbelief. “Reading?” “Reading at lightning speed. If you were in the Marvel universe it could be your super power.”
7 Caley scrunched up her face. “I’d be toast in the Marvel universe. And they’d laugh at me.”
8 I drew a picture of her audition with the Avengers, and agreed they would laugh at first, upon meeting Book Girl.
9 “But what if you chose that moment to unleash your super power. Which is any power you read about in a book over the past 24 hours.
10 “Read Harry Potter before the audition. Then when they laugh you hit something with a lightning bolt. That’d shut Robert Downey Jr. up.”
11 “And that is almost impossible,” Caley said, laughing. I nodded. “It would give you colossal street cred. You’d nuke Marvel’s bad asses.
12 “But your weakness would be that it only lasts for 24 hours. So In 24 hours you’d be toast. Sorta like the Green Lantern that way.”
13 “How’s it like the Green Lantern?” “His ring,” I said. “It has to be recharged every 24 hours.” “Oh,” said Caley. “Didn’t know that.”
14 “Well, it is DC.” And we both nodded. A silent agreement about the irrelevance of Marvel’s rival.
15 There are fines for distracted driving. None as steep as the real life consequences can be. In the next instant that truth hit home.
16 I looked back to the road to see a bull moose cresting the slope just ahead on the right and start into the highway.
17 I choked the wheel in a white knuckle death grip as I braked and veered left at the same time.
18 None of which would help. The Moose and my Impala were about to collide. I couldn’t cut any faster. Another stride from the bull and . . .
19 Light erupted from the passenger seat out through the windshield, freezing the moose in his tracks. I veered around with inches to spare.
20 Heart pounding I straightened the car out and looked to my daughter who, unperturbed, returned to reading her book. “Light gun,” she said.
“It may be true that all the world’s a stage. But stages are even more so.”
Curtain Call – DJ Britt
It was the most surreal experience of my life. And by far the weirdest moment of my Ultimate Act of Writing Insanity, my 24 3-Day novel marathon, all live online. This particular entry, a Faustian tale called Curtain Call, was also written live on a stage in North America’s largest shopping center, West Edmonton Mall. It resulted in interviews for radio, television and newspaper. And some of the strangest looks.
One guy came up to the stage as I typed like mad and asked “What are you doing?” I told him, and he squinted in a weird way. For about three seconds he did this protracted, prune faced blink. A look so rich it made it into the story. Then he said “That’s crazy.” I pointed to the sign, which assured him I’m the Insanity Writer. “Oh,” he said.
I’m now working on a final draft of that story, with plans to make it available on Kindle for 99 cents. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime you are warmly invited to check out some of the free audio tales by clicking on the audio menu above. And do drop in on Fridays. My tales in 20 #tweets continues, first live on Twitter at 10 AM Eastern, and then here on the site.
See you soon!
PLUNGE, a three part tale, concludes today. You can tune in on Twitter, each Friday at 10 AM Eastern, for a new tale in 20 tweets. Check out the previous episodes here:
And here’s the finale:
1 BOUND HAND AND FOOT Sonia plunged into the muddy river. A gunshot, and an eruption of pain in her right arm as she began to sink.
2 She was thankful for the pain. All thoughts, even those of her son, were gone now. There was only a sniper scope lock on her own survival.
3 She turned and saw the outline of Allain’s boat against the sun. The bastard hadn’t elected to dive in after her. He would watch and wait.
4 As she settled on the river bed she closed her stinging eyes for an instant. ‘Crab crawl,’ she decided. ‘Only chance.’ She looked back.
5 The shore was 150 feet at least. Kicking with her bound feet she began her journey, as her hands groped for something, anything.
6 Her lungs began to burn as her fingers dug through sludge and skirted over smooth stones. It was almost time to breathe out slightly.
7 It was the only way to relieve the pressure. Her nose wasn’t an option though. The press of water into her nostrils made that impossible.
8 Panic arose geyser like as she tried to force a bit of air out through her gagged mouth. None escaped. Without that release she was done.
9 Sonia raked the right side of her face against the riverbed. The first bubbles appeared followed by a drop in pressure in her lungs.
10 She pressed on, quickening her pace, slowly emptying her lungs until she became light headed. NO! She thought, as the sun began to dim.
11 Now she faced the real possibility of fainting just long enough to wake up drowned. She gave her head a vicious shake and changed tactics.
12 She dug her feet in and shoved off hard, abandoning her crab crawl for a desperate backwards lunge, first one, then another, and another.
13 The last lunge was so frantic that she came down hard. The last of her air rushed out and she thought with a sudden calm ‘That’s it.’
14 As the words finished coursing through her mind she froze with wonder. The bubbles surface mere inches above her head. She almost lunged.
15 Only to realize it would be the death of her as surely as drowning. For Allain was watching, and Allain was waiting. ‘Do it slow, Sonia.’
16 With her very last reserve she eased up and drifted back into a stand of river weed lining the shore. ‘Slow or die Sonia. You choose.’
17 To her own surprise her body obeyed. Gingerly her nose and mouth emerged, and she drank in the sweet stench of the bayou air.
18 Sonia eased back as she breathed one long slow breath after another, with her head and back pressed against the mud of the shoreline.
19 There she waited with freezing limbs and a throbbing arm, with a perfect patience born of the will to live, until she heard the oars.
20 When she at last looked the bastard was gone. Sonia crab crawled out of the water and rubbed her bonds against a rock until she was free.
It’s deliciously anachronistic, writing Tales in 20 #Tweets on a 1941 Royal typewriter. Like seeing a jet stream in a Western flick. It’s rekindled something in me. Something I thought deader than the zombie horde of the underworld that shuffled up to our door on All Hallow’s Eve. (Zombies are like jeans, I decided. The more worn and torn the trendier they be.)
I was recently asked to offer my thoughts on overcoming the obstacles to becoming a successful writer. Here was my answer:
“Write your ass off. Get rejected countless times. Do gimmicks like 24 3-Day novels in one year. Get media attention on both sides of the Atlantic, without a penny to show for it. Then buy into the Art for Art’s sake school. And you’re at the last stage of the grief process – acceptance.”
But now, as I type madly away for Twitter, which won’t be sending a royalty check any time soon no matter how successful its launch on the stock market, I’ve noticed a change. It struck me while penning (Royaling?) my twenty tweet tale Book Girl, coming soon to a monitor near you. I typed a line. *Clickety click, Clackety clack DING* And I looked up amid an odd sensation. One I couldn’t identify at first. Then the feeling attached itself to a narrative inside me. It happens that way sometimes.
I saw a scene inside myself, from a tale I’ve never written down. It’s a post apocalyptic world. Our hero leads a ragtag band of pilgrims across a scorched plane, littered with burning refuse. They set camp at the base of a mountain. There a miracle occurs. One of the refugees gives birth. A sick baby girl begins a desperate fight for life.
A doctor is there. He sets up a medical tent, and a makeshift incubator. He is tending the babe when our hero comes in. Side by side they look down at the infant. “Tell me doctor,” our hero says. “What do you see when you look at her?”
“I see a very sick baby girl,” the doctor says.
Our hero nods in understanding as the baby coughs. “What do you see?” the doctor asks.
“I see hope,” our hero says.
Years pass. Almost twenty. An epic of desperate struggle has unfurled, one where our hero sacrifices all that he is and could ever hope to be. He is left an exhausted man, nearly broken by the weight of his burden. He is injured in battle, separated from his compatriots, and left in a cave, it looks to die. But wonder of wonders he is found by an expedition. A young woman settles at his side, and begins to care for him.
She looks at him, bemused. “You don’t know who I am.”
He tries to place her but fails. “I’m sorry. Should I?”
Her eyes laugh, and she nods. “You named me.”
He stares at her, completely at a loss. He wracks his brain, trying to fathom when he named a . . . His eyes light up, and he whispers a single word, tinged with wonder.
“Hope,” she says.
All that whisked through my brain as I looked up from my Royal, and at my reflection in the window before me. In my mind’s eye that reflection was not alone. A young woman stood by my side, her eyes laughing.
“Hope,” I said.
My Tale in 20 #Tweets, Plunge, continued on Twitter today. You can find part 1 here: http://www.24novels.com/?p=1965
Here’s Part 2:
1 EARLIER THAT DAY Sonia Palette arrived at the Torrengton Bend Bait and Tackle Shop, an ungainly structure of weathered wood planks.
2 The hunt for Chicago cop killer Vincent Allain had led to this, and to an unlikely first question to the slender old shopkeeper.
3 Sonia’s eyes raked the counter, in search of the debit and credit card reader that had to be there. “Do you take Visa?” He nodded.
4 He reached under the counter and pulled out a credit card imprinter, one that may have first been used during the Kennedy administration.
5 She looked to her escort, a State Trooper named Miles. “This is the place?” “It is.” To the shopkeeper. “No electronic transactions?”
6 “Never. Is there a problem?” There was. An FBI agent had called her with the break, a Visa transaction under the name of Tyler Burrows. An alias for Allain.
7 The break had come on her second day in the Pelican State. The agent saw it as professional courtesy, as Allain deserved Chicago’s finest.
8 Moments later she was riding shotgun with Miles, well ahead of the cavalry. Now she tore the pic from her vest pocket and dropped it down.
9 The man confirmed that Allain had been there. “Night crawlers and a six pack o’ beer. But I didn’t need ol’ Betsy here. Fella paid cash.”
10 An explosion, distant but strong. One that took out the narrow wooded road they had just been on. Sonia’s Beretta flew into her hand.
11 Miles turned to the door and reached for his sidearm, his last voluntary impulse before his head was demolished by a shotgun blast.
12 Sonia levelled her 9MM, but for an instant she was blocked by the falling trooper. Allain used the time to empty his other barrel.
13 The Iraq vet blasted the glass fronted counter, and Sonia was awash in a storm of debris. As she fell to her left she took a shot blind.
14 It did nothing to slow Allain’s charge, who dropped his shotgun in favor of his Glock. He reached her while the glass was still falling.
15 She tried to raise her weapon but the bastard pinned it to the floor under his boot. As he did he spun and shot the cowering shopkeeper.
16 Sonia kicked but Allain’s right leg blocked as the .45 was aimed her way. The old man clutched his throat as he sank against the wall.
17 Allain grinned, showing his gold eye teeth as the shopkeeper gurgled through his death throws. “Well hello darlin.”
18 Sonia stared at and through the .45 as she tried to fathom it all. “He was an agent. Gave his code. The chief knew him. Vouched for him.”
19 With a final rasp the old man died. Allain half closed his steel grey eyes, as though savoring the aroma of death. “Got the tense right.”
20 The sociopath’s glare hardened, a look as unforgiving as the weapon in his hand. “He was an agent. He most surely was.” TO BE CONTINUED
So I’ve taken the plunge, with a story called PLUNGE. The first entry in my ‘Tales in Twenty Tweets’ run was posted to twitter this morning. Every entry will be posted on Friday, first on twitter (starting at 10 AM Eastern) and then here on the site. Enjoy!
PLUNGE by DJ Britt
1 A dragonfly buzzed over the rowboat in which Sonia Palette was bound hand and foot. A loon cried out, a mournful call. As though it knew.
2 Squinting against the sun Sonia looked up at her murderer. Vincent Allain, 33, who had a sheet longer than his muscular tattooed arms.
3 His left arm featured a long tattoo of the Madonna, who stared sadly down at his victim, as though Sonia were Jesus en route to Golgotha.
4 With each stroke of the oars the Virgin Mother drew closer to Sonia and then withdrew, as if to beckon the Chicago cop to eternity.
5 “That should do,” Vincent said, releasing the oars. The gangly son of a bitch winked at her, plucked the cigarette from his ear and lit up.
6 “Used to come cray fishin with my daddy in these parts” he said, steel eyes gleaming. “Shit to eat. But catchin ‘em was fun.”
7 Sonia glared back as she breathed slowly through her nose, and tried desperately to work the duct tape binding her hands behind her back.
8 He drew his Glock from its place at the small of his back. “This trip’s a bit of a payback I guess. Them crayfish gave me my best times as a lad. Now I get to give em a meal.”
9 “If you weren’t a cop I’d plug ya first.” Allain grabbed the anchor on its chain. “Struggle and I’ll pop your kneecaps. Your call.”
10 Nostrils flaring above her gag, Sonia worked her bonds as Allain chucked his cigarette into the bayou. Her right wrist turned, barely.
11 The Louisianian put his .45 down and started working the heavy chain. “How old’s that boy you’ll never see again? Seven? Cute feller.”
12 The bastard had plucked Colton’s pic from her wallet, after taking her into “A Southern gentleman’s custody.” Sonia’s focus faltered.
13 She saw Colton in her sister’s arms at O’Hare, reaching out to her as he fought to keep back the tears. ‘Tuesday hon,’ she had said.
14 A floodgate opened behind the image, a torrent of regret that threatened to drown her before the bayou could. ‘NO! FOCUS WOMAN! FOCUS!!’
15 Vincent bent to his task. Sonia let him raise her legs as she drew in a long slow breath the only way she could, through her nose.
16 He started to wrap the first coil of chain around her ankles. Sonia finished breathing in and, with a glance to the Blessed Virgin, struck.
17 She rammed both feet into Vincent’s left knee with all the strength she could muster. As she did she rolled hard to the right. “BITCH!”
18 Allain fought for balance as Sonia plowed into the rowboat’s starboard side, which lowered enough for water to splash in. Sonia kept rolling.
19 Sonia went up and over, plunging into the muddy river. A gunshot, and an eruption of pain in her right arm, as she began to sink.
20 ‘Colton!’ She thought, as she writhed away and sank from the daylight into the bracing wet dark. ‘I love you Colton!’ TO BE CONTINUED
And so it begins. An all new act of literary insanity. My TALES IN 20 #TWEETS. You can read about the genesis behind the madness here -
There are rules of course. There has to be rules. Otherwise my madness will go riding off in all directions and tear me limb from limb. So here they be, for all to see.
1. BEGINNING ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 1, 2013, AND ON EVERY FRIDAY FOR THE NEXT YEAR, I WILL PUBLISH A TALE IN 20 #TWEETS ON TWITTER, BEGINNING AT 10 AM EASTERN.
2. EACH ENTRY WILL BE TWENTY TWEETS LONG. NO MORE, NO LESS. OTHERWISE THIS HASH TAG WILL MAKE NO SENSE – #T20T.
3. SEQUELS ARE PERMISSIBLE. Some stories will continue the following week. Others tales may return to characters I visited several stories before.
4. PROSE OR VERSE? Yes. I see great advantages in poetry for some entries, especially verse with a strict meter, given the 140 character limit per tweet.
5. STORIES WILL BE POSTED ON MY SITE AFTER THEY ARE PUBLISHED ON TWITTER. But do check out the madness firsthand. You can do that by following me on twitter -
Your friendly neighborhood insanity writer has come out of hibernation, just in time for winter. It happened exactly like this:
My dear wife Georgia and our ebullient daughter Crystal went in on a gift for me. A Royal typewriter. “Huh,” I said. I had been hoping for an iPad. I wasn’t picky. An iPad 1 would have been fine, just 8 gigs, wifi only. I hear they went to the moon with something like Commodore 64 technology. If they could do that I figured I could achieve a literary miracle or three with a first generation iPad. Instead I was left staring down at a keyboard older than God. Something meant for a world of fedoras and cigar smoke, an epoch impossibly distant, where people actually wrote words on paper.
I looked the keyboard over and my eyes lit up. There was a hashtag symbol! (#) “How could they have known about Twitter?” I muttered. Curious, I sat down. Seven minutes later a page was properly inserted and ready to go. (YOU try setting the margins on these things. No. Don’t. You’ll make me look stupid.)
Ever so gently I pressed down on the letter T. Ever so gently the corresponding metal doo dad eased forward and touched the paper. I let go. The doo dad fell back. And there was nothing on the page. “It doesn’t work,” I said.
“Don’t be a sissy.” My wife reached out and pounded down on the T.
“Ah,” I said, as I took in the letter on the page. In that moment I began to see the mad logic of it all. “It’s like a printer that doesn’t need a computer.”
“There ya go Hon.” Georgia gave me a peck on the forehead and headed off, leaving me with my retro wares.
And so I began to type. In an unsissy like manner. I began to hunt and peck furiously, with the refined sense of direction common to all decapitated chickens. Only these were ice age chickens, trapped in a glacier they didn’t see coming. And you can’t blame them. Seeing how they were decapitated and all. With a deranged and excruciating slowness the words came, as my two index fingers shot out. Again. And. Again. And. Then. Again.
Inspiration struck. I typed several hashtags in a row. ################# Then I snatched up my iPhone, took a pic of my miraculous, computer free printer, and posted the shot on Twitter.
“I’M ALIVE AGAIN!” I tweeted. “*lightning strike, maniacal laughter*”
So really it was the hashtag’s fault. That’s what gave your friendly neighborhood insanity writer the notion that then formed in my addled brain.
“TALES IN TWENTY TWEETS!” I cried, as my right index finger made its super slo-mo journey toward the next key, which came crashing down with an authority that would shock sissies everywhere. “TALES IN TWENTY TWEETS!”
It all begins on Friday November 1, in this Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Thirteen. (MMXIII) I will post a tale on twitter, starting at 10 AM Eastern. It will be 20 tweets long. No more. No less. Because, otherwise, this hashtag would make no sense -
And oh yes, each and every tweet destined for the murky mists of cyberspace will first be written on my Royal typewriter.
See you around the water cooler, with smartphone in hand. If you hold it up to your ear, and listen oh so closely, you might hear the clickety clack sound of my Royal in action.
Until then, my best to you and yours.