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Literature
The Shadow's Secret
             The Shadow's Secret
                by Hokrim Ballister
  A young boy named Develyn woke up one morning very early. It was so early it was still dark in his room.
  He went to get out of bed but he could not see the floor.
  "How do I know what is down there?" he asked the shadow below.
  "Ask me," the shadow said.
  But Develyn was afraid. He waited for the lights to come on and then got out of bed.
  Develyn went to the kitchen for some breakfast. But when he looked in the pantry the lights did not come on.
  "How will I know what there is to eat?" Develyn asked the darkness.
  "Ask me," the shadow said.
  But Develyn was afraid. He did not eat anything for breakfast.
  Develyn went for a walk in the woods by his house. The trees were tall and green and the ground was soft under his feet. He came across a cave and tried to see inside but it was too
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Literature
Driving Blind
My eyelids feel as if they are tethered to my foot, falling at the same speed as my toes against the accelerator. At forty the world is still clear. By the time I'm past sixty the blur of freeway lights are further smudged by rows of eyelashes. The last digits I see say eighty-three and then the darkness swallows me up in a rush of wind and speed and oblivion.
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:iconhellpayne:HellPayne 4 8
Literature
Words Apart (Nathan's perspective)
  The meager November light shone faintly through a window in the back of Albatross Books, the historic bookstore on 1st Ave in downtown Seattle, located in a faded brick building sandwiched between a glossy new Starbucks coffee shop and a Persian rug warehouse that was perpetually having an inventory clearance sale. A folding wooden chalkboard sign out front was announcing the bookstore's  anticipated event that day: the start of Nathan Pratchett's book signing tour of his new novel.
  The cracked sidewalk outside the bookstore was stained from thousands of coffee-laden pedestrians tripping over the exposed roots of the trees that lined the pavement in this section of town, and the only way to escape the smell of dark roasted beans and the musty breath of intricately woven wool was to step through the tall oak doors of Albatross Books and inhale the delicious scent of a million printed thoughts and dreams.
  Behind a roped-off area in the back of the store, trying
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Literature
Penny and Tristan III
  Tristan and Penny ran as hard as they could across the field of tall grass as the waning afternoon sun shot its fading beams on their young backs. Tristan thought he could feel the sunlight burning a hole through him but it was only the burning of his lungs trying to keep up with their mad sprint. They had to make it to the river. There was no other choice. They would be killed if they didn't.
  Penny suddenly dove into the grass, disappearing instantly. Tristan immediately followed suit and started searching for her in the dense blades, crawling on his belly and waking the worms underground with the pounding of his heart.
  "Penny!" he whispered as loudly as he dared. "Penny! Where are you?" He could hear the footfalls of their pursuers through the soil as he kept maneuvering towards where Penny went down. Suddenly, her face was right in front of him, brows pinched in annoyance and a bleeding scratch from her cheek to her chin.
  "What are you doing?" she asked.
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Literature
Mind Swept II
  "It's not polite to stare, Bella dear," her grandmother said, smiling and leading the Capsule further into the room. All of the guests that were on that side of the apartment slowly and silently moved behind Bella, awestruck and intimidated by the presence of this incredible being who had the power of time and life in the touch of her fingertips. Both her grandmother and the Capsule stopped directly in front of Bella, but still Bella had not found her words.
  "I apologize, Adeline," her grandmother said, the disapproval distinct in her voice. "She's normally not this rude, I promise."
  Without taking her eyes off Bella, Adeline laughed. "Margaret, come on now. Give the poor child a break. You know she's never seen one of my kind before, and besides, it's biological! She can't help it!"
  Bells forced herself to blink three times and took a deep breath. "I didn't..." Someone behind her coughed. "I...didn't mean to offend, Miss Adeline," she managed to get out. "T
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Literature
Penny and Tristan II
  Tristan and Penny ran as hard as they could across the field of tall grass as the waning afternoon sun shot its fading beams on their young backs. Tristan thought he could feel the sunlight burning a hole through him but it was only the burning of his lungs trying to keep up with their mad sprint. They had to make it to the river. There was no other choice. They would be killed if they didn't.
  Penny suddenly dove into the grass, disappearing instantly. Tristan immediately followed suit and started searching for her in the dense blades, crawling on his belly and waking the worms underground with the pounding of his heart.
  "Penny!" he whispered as loudly as he dared. "Penny! Where are you?" He could hear the footfalls of their pursuers through the soil as he kept maneuvering towards where Penny went down. Suddenly, her face was right in front of him, brows pinched in annoyance and a bleeding scratch from her cheek to her chin.
  "What are you doing?" she asked.
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:iconhellpayne:HellPayne 3 9
Literature
A Song to my Father
They wrote your name
In a box just the same
As mine on the hospital form
I was mothers last chance
Placed in a stocking red fancy
On the December day I was born
But you just couldn't stay
Couldn't stay still enough
Long enough to see
Your only son grow
So I learned how to hide
All the questions inside
Until I could turn myself
Loose on the road
I saw your face in a box
Filled with so many toxic
Memories when I moved far away
There was a letter beside it
Where your handwriting scribed it
Filled with apologies
And the weather that day
You said you just couldn't stay
Couldn't stay still enough
There still wasn't enough
For you to stay for
So I learned how to kill
And I learned how to lie
Until I thought loss
Could touch me no more
In a box on a screen
I saw your name writ in green
With a subject line
A mere two words long
You wrote to say you were fine
And say sorry for the time
That it took to write
'Cause the words were all wrong
But you just couldn't say
Couldn't say it enough
How much
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:iconhellpayne:HellPayne 5 16
Mature content
Oaken Ghosts :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 3 6
Literature
Mind Swept
  Bella took off her rain coat and managed to squeeze it into the office coat rack. She wasn't usually late to work but she got caught up watching a news report when she was getting ready and besides, it was her birthday; Damien, her boss, wasn't going to fire her over ten silly minutes. Before sitting down at her desk Bella looked around and realized she didn't have to worry about anyone noticing her absence first thing this morning. All of her well-dressed coworkers in the design wing of the giant gaming corporation of ImagiGames were glued to the boardroom vidscreen, absorbed with the speculations and theories being spread across the news channels on the death of the first Capsule.
   Capsules were one of three distinct sub groups of human mutation, the other two being Readers and Blanks. No one remembered the first Capsule or what was transferred, probably not even the Capsule, and it was unknown how long Readers and Blanks had existed; but their impact in the world
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Mature content
Above the Lake, Below the Earth :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 3 3
* by HellPayne * :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 3 3
Literature
Lonely in our bed with you
The clock by your bed
Says it's 4:39
But we both know
It's ten minutes fast.
You're lost in a dream
That's making you smile
But unlike me
Your smile won't last
In the morning I'll brush
My lips close to yours
And pretend that I
Kissed you awake.
While you yawn and stretch
Your warm sleepy self
My cold ghostly heart
Will again break
I stare through your windows
I'm knocking on the door to your heart
I'm standing here screaming your name
You tear me in two but never apart
But you'll never hear me
You still can't see me
I wonder why I was given this voice.
You're living without me
I'm dying beside you
Not that I see any choice.
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:iconhellpayne:HellPayne 4 3
Literature
Penny and Tristan
  Tristan and Penny ran as hard as they could across the field of tall grass as the waning afternoon sun shot its fading beams on their young backs. Tristan thought he could feel the sunlight burning a hole through him but it was only the burning of his lungs trying to keep up with their mad sprint. They had to make it to the river. There was no other choice. They would be killed if they didn't.
  Penny suddenly dove into the grass, disappearing instantly. Tristan immediately followed suit and started searching for her in the dense blades, crawling on his belly and waking the worms underground with the pounding of his heart.
  "Penny!" he whispered as loudly as he dared. "Penny! Where are you?" He could hear the footfalls of their pursuers through the soil as he kept maneuvering towards where Penny went down. Suddenly, her face was right in front of him, brows pinched in annoyance and a bleeding scratch from her cheek to her chin.
  "What are you doing?" she asked.
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:iconhellpayne:HellPayne 3 5
Mature content
The Darkness Within :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 2 4
Deadpool by HellPayne Deadpool :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 4 0 Weird ass character design by HellPayne Weird ass character design :iconhellpayne:HellPayne 1 0

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Activity


             The Shadow's Secret
                by Hokrim Ballister

  A young boy named Develyn woke up one morning very early. It was so early it was still dark in his room.
  He went to get out of bed but he could not see the floor.
  "How do I know what is down there?" he asked the shadow below.
  "Ask me," the shadow said.
  But Develyn was afraid. He waited for the lights to come on and then got out of bed.
  Develyn went to the kitchen for some breakfast. But when he looked in the pantry the lights did not come on.
  "How will I know what there is to eat?" Develyn asked the darkness.
  "Ask me," the shadow said.
  But Develyn was afraid. He did not eat anything for breakfast.
  Develyn went for a walk in the woods by his house. The trees were tall and green and the ground was soft under his feet. He came across a cave and tried to see inside but it was too dark.
  "I wonder what could be inside?" Develyn said.
  "Ask me," the shadow of the cave said.
  But Develyn turned away from the mouth of the cave because it was too dark.
  As he continued through the woods, Develyn spotted an old tree with a very large hole in the side. He got closer. He wanted to see inside but there was no light for him to see.
  "I wonder what is inside this hole in the tree?" Develyn said.
  "Ask me," the shadow of the tree said.
  But there was a noise in the darkness of the hole and Develyn ran away afraid.
  Develyn walked home and saw his mother sitting at the window. She looked sad and there was a darkness around her.
  "I wonder what is making my mother so sad?" Develyn asked himself.
  "Ask her," the shadow around his mother said.
  But Develyn was afraid of what his mother might say, and so he turned away.
  It was night and Develyn walked to his bedroom. The lights did not come on and it was very dark in his room.
  "How will I know there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark?" Develyn said.
  "Ask me," the shadows said again.
  Develyn took a deep breath and gathered up all his courage.
  "What secrets do you hold, shadows?" he asked as bravely as he could.
  "Do you remember this morning, when you saw only me under your bed?" the shadows asked.
  "Yes," Develyn said.
  "Your favorite dog was sleeping on the floor beneath you, waiting to be pet."
  "Do you remember when you were hungry for breakfast but could not see in the darkness of the cupboard?" the shadows asked.
  "Yes," Develyn said.
  "Your father had placed your favorite muffin in the back just for you so no one else would eat it," the shadows said.
  "Do you remember the cave you saw that was too dark to see into?" the shadows asked.
  "Yes," Develyn said.
  "There is a song that sings through the mountains that you can only hear within the cave," the shadows said.
  "Do you remember the tree with the dark hollow in the woods?" the shadows asked.
  "Yes," Develyn said.
  "There were three sleeping kittens you could have pet inside the tree," the shadows said.
  "And now, here in your bedroom," the shadows said, "everything is as it should be. Your bed is made, your toys are put away, the dog is asleep beside you bed, and there is a small coin under your pillow."
  Develyn sighed. There were so many things that he missed because he was afraid of the dark.
  "Wait," Develyn said, "you did not tell me what had made my mother so sad."
  "That is not my secret to tell," the shadows said. "You will have to ask your mother."
  Develyn walked down the hallway to his mother's room and knocked on the door.
  "Come in," his mother said.
  Develyn opened the door and saw the darkness hanging over his mother and he was afraid. But he took a deep breath and found his courage.
  "Mother, what is troubling you? Develyn said. "There is a shadow where your smile should be."
  "Oh, Develyn," his mother said, "I have had a most troubling day! I have not seen the dog all day, I baked a special muffin for you that disappeared before breakfast, and three kittens have gone missing!"
  Develyn was overjoyed at the news!
  "Mother, meet me in the front yard and all will be made well again!" Develyn said.
  Develyn went to his room and called his dog. The two of them then went to the kitchen to retrieve the muffin from the back of the pantry. Develyn put the muffin in a small bag and went out to meet his mother in the yard.
  "Develyn, it is too dark to go for a walk," his mother said.
  "It is never too dark to walk with a faithful dog by your side, Mother," Develyn said. The dog barked and Develyn's mother was so happy to hear it.
  The dog led them to the tree with the large hollow in it. Develyn reached into the dark space and pulled out three sleepy kittens.
  "Oh, Develyn!" his mother said. "This makes me so happy!" Even in the dark, Develyn could see the light of his mother's smile.
  "Follow me, Mother," Develyn said. "There is more!"
  Develyn, his mother, the dog, and three sleepy kittens walked to the cave in the forest. They all went inside and sat down. Develyn portioned out the muffin to share with everyone and they ate it happily, sitting in the embrace of the shadows and listening to the song singing from deep within the mountain.

                       The End
The Shadow's Secret
A short children's story that appears in the second novel in my Twin Systems series.
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My eyelids feel as if they are tethered to my foot, falling at the same speed as my toes against the accelerator. At forty the world is still clear. By the time I'm past sixty the blur of freeway lights are further smudged by rows of eyelashes. The last digits I see say eighty-three and then the darkness swallows me up in a rush of wind and speed and oblivion.
This is my second attempt at completing this challenge; my first slipped off the page when I was reviewing my song list at the end of the page. Let's see if I can recreate the "magic" :)

1. A song from your childhood: "Puff the Magic Dragon" Peter, Paul, and Mary (I think). I either broke the vinyl record that had this song on it or my mom's turntable, i can't remember which. But that's no often I played it as a child.
2. A song that reminds you of your most recent ex: Ooh. "Like a Woman, Like a Man" Damien Rice. I'm not sure I can qualify this choice, but yeah...there it is.
3. A song that reminds you of one (or both) of your parents: "Someday Never Comes" CCR. This song always makes me laugh because, while it defines much of my relationship with my father, I doubt he (my father) will ever hear it, nor would he understand why it is listed here.
4. A song that calms you down: "Famous Blue Raincoat" Leonard Cohen. This was my first recorded cover and still my favorite. I will sing this song sometimes to simply make myself feel human again.
5. A song that is often stuck in your head: "I Wanna Rock" Twisted Sister. The best part about this song is when I belt out my Dee voice and get this song stuck in the heads of every carpenter around me.
6. A song that reminds you of a best friend: "Lullaby" the Cure. All of the Cure's songs remind me of her, this one just happened to come to mind first.
7. A song that reminds you of Summer: "Summer Loving" the Vandals. I must have worn out three mixed tapes with this song on them while tearing through the deserts of Nevada, high on life and cheap casino coffee.
8. A song that reminds you of your first love: "Walking in London" Concrete Blonde. Yeah, just writing it out takes me back to Virginia City.
9. A song that makes you hopeful: "Rebel Yell" Billy Idol. I hope to someday scream this whilst running down a rubble pile into a bloody fist fight with a rival scavenging party in post apocalyptic America.
10. A song by your favorite band: "Confessionary Hymn" Joshua James. The grit and rawness of this artist gets me every time.
11. A song on the soundtrack of your favorite movie: Kind of a tough category for me. There are so many great movies floating through my memory. Was "Jesus Built my Hotrod" by Ministry playing during the first kill encounter in John Wick? If so, then that's my choice. If it wasn't, well, then shoot me. :)
12. The last song you heard: "Back in Black" AC/DC. A new rock station in town is playing every song they can get their hands on. I'm not complaining and I thought it was a rather fitting song this morning.
13. A song that reminds you of a former friend: "Birthday Pony" Fugazi. This song takes me back to car camping and cheap smokes.
14. A song that reminds you of your current significant other: Any song by Old Crow Medicine Band (is it Band or Show? I can never remember). We laugh every time we hear a new song and say that it was probably recorded by these guys first.
15. A song you love singing along to: "Ice, Ice, Baby" Vanilla Ice. It's so much fun embarrassing the hell out of everyone around me when this song comes on and I bust out every...single...lyric.
16. A song that has made you cry: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It is a version that was recorded by a Pacific Islander (I'm pretty sure) who has since passed away. This heartbreaking rendition broke open a dam of tears inside me that I thought would flood all the rest of my years to come.
17. A song that makes you want to dance: "Belo Legosi's Dead" Bauhaus. If you have ever seen me dance then this choice would make more sense.
18. A song that you love but rarely listen to: "Sketches of Spain" Miles Davis. I simply don't sit still long enough to enjoy this beautiful recording anymore.
19. The first song alphabetically listed in your Ipod/Iphone/MP3: "Goodbye Forever" Alkaline Trio. My music (even the songs) are alphabetized by artist.
20. The last song alphabetically listed in your Ipod/Iphone/MP3: "Your Southern Can is Mine" White Stripes. I can't stop laughing right now after having discovered this was the last song.
21. Your favorite song: I don't think anyone who does this challenge can say they have a single favorite song. However, in the spirit of being a good sport, I'll say "Karma Police" by Radiohead. Why? Because it's an amazing song.
22. A song that someone has sung to you: "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod" by the Irish Rovers (I think). It was in the dappled moonlight filtered through a weeping willow. I will say no more.
23. A song that you cannot stand to listen to: "Baby Got Back" Sir Mixalot. Too many historical reasons to hate this song.
24. A song that you have danced to with your best friend: "Assimilate" Skinny Puppy.  I don't actually dance "with" people, but I've danced near my best friend to this song more than once.
25. A song that you could listen to all day without getting tired of: "Combination Lock" Fugazi. I have to will myself sometimes not to hit repeat forever when this song plays.
Drops from my wrists sound like scattered applause from a crowd eager to see the performance ended. But the wounds close up before the curtain comes down and, groaning, the crowd remains in their seats, and the endless play continues.
  The meager November light shone faintly through a window in the back of Albatross Books, the historic bookstore on 1st Ave in downtown Seattle, located in a faded brick building sandwiched between a glossy new Starbucks coffee shop and a Persian rug warehouse that was perpetually having an inventory clearance sale. A folding wooden chalkboard sign out front was announcing the bookstore's  anticipated event that day: the start of Nathan Pratchett's book signing tour of his new novel.
  The cracked sidewalk outside the bookstore was stained from thousands of coffee-laden pedestrians tripping over the exposed roots of the trees that lined the pavement in this section of town, and the only way to escape the smell of dark roasted beans and the musty breath of intricately woven wool was to step through the tall oak doors of Albatross Books and inhale the delicious scent of a million printed thoughts and dreams.
  Behind a roped-off area in the back of the store, trying to consciously ignore the security team milling about, Nathan Pratchett was leaning against a dusty brick wall, skimming over some PR related notes his agent had handed him a few minutes ago; the pale light through the back window and a single bare bulb light fixture about twenty feet away and covered in cobwebs wasn't making it easy to read, though, and eventually he rolled up the printed sheets and crammed them in his back pocket.
  The jingle of the bell on top of the front door made him look up and squint towards the street. Standing near the signing table was a young woman in a black dress, fit and flared, high heels, and curls. My god, so many ultra-black curls, cascading down her pale features, too many to be a salon invention and too silky to have been born from a hair product. Nathan realized he had been holding his breath, staring at the woman, when it occurred to him that she was staring right back at him, biting her reddened lower lip and shifting her weight from one heel to the other. Without blinking he pushed himself off the rough wall and started towards the woman in the black, revealing dress, but he hadn't even made it to the first rack of restocking shelves when she turned, walking down another aisle and out of sight. Nathan side-stepped and peeked down the next aisle over, trying to catch another glimpse of her, but all he saw was the bulky back of one of the security guards. Security guards! His last few novels had sold decently well, but Nathan hardly saw the need for security guards in a bookstore located in his "home" town of Seattle. If ever one of his favorite authors should be seen waiting at a signing event of his then, and only maybe then, would he think that such security measures were warranted. As it stood, however, no such appearance had been made. He kept walking and looked down the next aisle, and the next, just barely stopping himself in time to keep from running straight into the far wall when he noticed he had run out of book aisles to peer down in search of this mystery woman. She had vanished! That, or had been swallowed by that giant of a security team member (what was his name? Timmy? Tommy?). Nathan turned around to check the area one more time when he was abruptly confronted by his agent and manager, Cory Feels, who did not look happy in the slightest.
  "Hey, Feels," Nathan said, lifting his eyebrows in a way he hoped was inoffensive. Cory Feels was a particularly sensitive man when it came to facial expressions.
  "Hey? That's all you've got to say? Nate, I'm a pretty patient dude, but seriously? We've only got about a half an hour until that door blows off the hinges. Home town signing, man! I need to know where you're at, not running all over the damn store looking for my author!" Beads of perspiration had formed above Feels' glasses during his little rant and he blotted at his forehead with a handkerchief he kept in his front pants pocket.
  "Feels, c'mon. I'm twenty feet from where you left me with that PR sheet. You didn't have to send the security team on a man hunt or anything. They look like the hunting type, though, don't they? I bet they hunt. Let's ask one of them."
  Feels made a noise he thought was a good fake laugh but that everyone else thought was a noise more akin to a suffocating sheep. ""Oh god, Nate. You must have started writing comedy in your spare time. Hilarious. Come on, we need to get you ready."
  "Ready? Feels, it's a pen pressed against paper. What's there to get ready for?"
  "Are you seriously going to fight me on this again?"
  "I have no idea what you're talking about, Feels."
  "Dude. Please. Not today. Don't fight me in front of the security team."
  "Oh, I bet they would love that! Hunters and fighters. I love this team. Have I told you how much I love this team, Feels?"
  "More comedy. Super. Save it for the fans, okay? Come on. And what the hell are you doing over here anyway?"
  Nathan shrugged his shoulders. "I was looking for someone," he said.
  Feels looked around and adjusted his glasses. "In the Western Romance section?"
  "What better place to find that 'special someone'? You know how much I love to be called 'darlin'."
  "Fine. Can we get ready now then? Darlin?"
  Nathan laughed out loud and patted his manager on the arm. "I thought you'd never ask, cowboy."
  As the two men were walking back to the book store office they passed the security guard giant (Tony! Thank god for name tags, Nathan thought, as he looked at the man's shirt) who had a bewildered and uncomfortable smile on his face, a very unbecoming combination on his squarish face.
  "Hey, big guy," Nathan said, "what's with the goofy smile?"
  Tony seemed to ponder the question for the moment, as if he had been asked to compare two leading vacuum cleaner brands. Finally, furrowing his mile-wide brows, he said, "Nothin'," and lumbered off down the aisle toward the signing table. Author and agent exchanged a look and then continued on.
  Back in the office, Nathan and Cory Feels went over the opening speech one more time, with the agent mouthing along from memory (he wrote it, so no surprise) and waving his hands in the air to the words like an orchestral conductor. When Feels felt like Nathan wouldn't completely embarrass himself, the agent shushed the author out the door and jabbed him in the back the entire way to the signing table, humming a 60's love tune just loud enough for Nathan to hear. A line had started forming outside the bookstore and the voices of the crowd were seeping through the walls, drowning out the overhead music and Feels' melody. Right on cue, just as Nathan was emerging from the tunnel of books, the doors opened and the most eager fans of his novels began flowing into the building, the buzz of excitement crackling off them like static electricity. Nathan stopped in front of the table and remained standing, waiting for the incoming crowd to fill in the spaces of the bookstore like so much water in a silverware divider tray.
  "I want to thank you all for coming out today," Nathan said to the roomful of smiling faces. "There are more folks here in this room than people who bought my first book." Light laughter rang out from the collection of scarves, beanies and peacoats. "Back then, even my own mother was asking for Cliffs Notes to my stories." More laughter. "But the series grew and more people picked up the books and that happened mostly because of all the support and acclaim I received from all of you loyal readers here in Seattle. This would never have happened without all of you, so again, thank you." There was scattered applause followed by some nervous foot shuffling. Nathan pulled his favorite Cross pen out of his shirt pocket and pointed it to the high vaulted ceiling. "Now let's get on to my favorite part; let's get some books signed!" Behind him, Nathan heard Feels groan and the author realized he had forgotten over half of his practiced speech. He twisted his head around and whispered, "Sorry, Feels. But hey, I've got a few more chances to get it right."
  Nathan took a seat at the table and made a show of rocking side to side in his chair to make himself comfortable, waving up the first fan in line, a very bubbly, middle-aged woman in a puffy coat and holding Nathan's entire book series in front of her like an unexpected Oscar's award.
  "Oh. My. God! Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! I am so nervous right now! Mr. Pratchett, I am your biggest fan!"
  "Please, call me Nathan."
  "Oh my god, I couldn't!"
  "Sure you can. Just give it a try."
  "Okay...Nathan," she said, followed by a yelp that sounded painful. "Oh my god, this is such an honor! Thank you for meeting me!"
  "Truly, my pleasure." He extended his hands out to her stack of books. "Thank you for being such an avid reader! To whom should I make these out?"
  The woman seemed to only then realize that she was carrying something and, in her excited state, nearly threw the stack of novels at Nathan for him to sign. "Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod! I'm so sorry! I get clumsy when I'm nervous!"
  "I'll tell you a secret," Nathan said in a hushed voice. The tone seemed to melt her down to her shoes. She lost the ability to speak but was nodding vigorously, impatiently waiting to hear what her favorite author was about to say. "I get clumsy when I'm nervous, too. I forgot half my speech today because I was so flustered."
  The woman's hands went up to her mouth like frightened cats jumping up to a safe window ledge. "Oh my god, thank you for sharing that!" she said through her fingers. "I don't feel so awkward now! Oh my god, I totally forgot! My name is Margaret! Like the former Prime Minister of England!"
  Nathan wagged his eyebrows while opening up the books, one by one, and scribbling in them. "My, my, Margaret," he said, "your parents certainly chose a beautiful name for their equally as beautiful daughter."
  Margaret turned a dangerous shade of red usually reserved for someone in the late stages of choking on a zealous bite of steak tartare. "Oh my god! Will you write that in one of my books?"
  Nathan slid the signed pile back over to her with a wink. "Margaret, I already did."
  The overjoyed Margaret made a shriek squeal and hopped once before swooping up her signed books and scampering out the doors into the cold, autumnal air. An older man walked up to the table, with wire-rimmed glasses that sat below a wide broom of white eyebrows like linen curtains hanging pendulously over two circular windows. He was smiling, but Nathan could tell it was the practiced smile of someone who internalized their every pain and kept that darkness hidden from the rest of the world.
  "Mr. Pratchett, this is such an honor," the man said in a high, nasally tone, setting down a single book on the table.
  "Please, call me Nathan. And how should I address you, sir?"
  The man shook his head slowly, his eyebrows swaying like sea anemones. "I certainly haven't been called "sir" in a right few years. Oscar will do just fine, Mr. Pratchett, er I mean, Nathan."
   Nathan smiled warmly. "A pleasure to meet you, Oscar. Thank you reading my stories and making it out here today. I guess I picked a pretty dismal day to do a signing." He started to write something in the front of Oscar's copy when the older man put his hand out to stop him.
  "Actually, would you mind addressing it to my wife, Catherine?" Oscar said, his hand trembling slightly. Something in the man's voice, albeit subtle, made Nathan's heart ache.
  "I don't mind at all, Oscar. It would be my pleasure." He paused, his hand hovering over the space just below where he had written "Oscar". He started writing just as he did with any of his stories, without thinking, just letting the words flow from the world where all things are made and possible.

'Catherine, I hope you found a place of peace in my books. I am forever grateful to have been a part of your life, even though we have never met,
                         Nathan Pratchett'

  When Nathan handed the book back to Oscar, the older man peered down through his brows and glasses and then slowly nodded his head. "Thank you, Nathan. This is perfect. I...I wish you well, on your health and your new novel. Thank you for your time." Before Nathan had a chance to respond, Oscar had turned and walked away, replaced by the next fan in line, a woman in her late fifties.
  "Oh my god, I love you!" she exclaimed, hugging a first edition copy of Nathan's first book as she ran to the table.
  "But we've only just met!" Nathan said, smiling warmly and tilting his head to the side. "What would my mother say?"
  The woman laughed nervously, blinking rapidly. "I'm so sorry! I told myself I wasn't going to be 'that lady'! And now look at me!"
  "Look at me!" Nathan replied. "I used to be terrified of meeting new people, but here we are! Thank you for coming out. What's your name, sweetheart?" Out of the corner of his eye Nathan saw a flash of pale skin and black curls. His head turned like an unseen god had its hand on his skull and was twisting it in the direction it pleased. It was the woman from earlier, when he had been standing in the back,  before the crowd had showed up. She was closer this time, facing him, long legs emerging from that delicious dress that showed off a curvaceous figure he couldn't take his eyes off. He could feel his heart pounding as he drank in the sight of her. And then Tony, the bulky security guard, stepped up to speak to her and they both walked behind a shelf of books, hidden from view. Nathan felt the world speed back up and his eyes swam for a second. The lady in front of him was biting her lip and looking decidedly uncomfortable.
  "I am sorry," he said quickly, shaking his head vigorously. "I forgot how strong they made the coffee in the back here! Tell me your name once more, please."
  "I am the same...way...when I get over caffeinated!" the woman said, raising her eyes to the ceiling. "Charlene. My name is Charlene."
  "Charlene, what brings you to Albatross Books today?" Nathan said, straight-faced.
  "Um...well, I..."
  "Charlene, I'm kidding! C'mon, give me that book you're strangling! You're going to make it bleed ink all over this nice table!"
  Charlene laughed less nervously and more naturally and she relinquished her hold on the book. Nathan signed it and sent Charlene off into the cold air with a smile and a lifelong memory.
  The signing event was to last three hours, a time limit set by Feels who felt it necessary to put a cap on situations like this that could potentially last all day. Nathan had argued that it was his event and they were his fans, but in the end it was Feels' job to coordinate these things and so three hours it would be. The slideshow of faces in front of him never ceased to fascinate Nathan. It was hard to fathom that such a panoply of people could share a common interest in the stories of one author. And the stories they shared with him were incredible, spoken like they had known him for years and couldn't get the words out fast enough to catch up after a long time apart. Nathan did his best to manage his time with each person, listening, talking, sharing, and signing, wishing he could spend more time with them all but wanting to satisfy as many as possible before the three hours were over. He was surprised and disappointed when the security team stepped in between him and the table, blocking him from view of the remaining fans waiting in line. Cory Feels stepped up onto an old wooden step stool and addressed the crowd.
  "That's all the time we have today, folks," he said. The bundled crowd started grumbling, murmuring in discontent. "Now, now," he added, fanning his hands up and down to settle the rising wave of disapproval. "We have another signing here next weekend and I promise you will all have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Pratchett. Thank you again for coming!" He stepped down and grabbed Nathan by the arm. "Let's go, big shot," he said to the author, pulling on Nathan's shirt like an anxious parent trying to get his child to the school play on time. Nathan shook off his manager's hand and reluctantly followed the man back to the office, sulking and feeling guilty for not having satisfied everyone who had come out for the signing. Feels was reeling off appointments and schedules, leading Nathan to the car parked out behind the book store, when they ran into Tony, the security man. Feels actually walked into the man's chest so quickly he had to remove his glasses to see if he had broken them.
  "Beg ya pardon, Mr Feels, sir," Tony said, without looking apologetic in the slightest. Nodding in Nathan's direction, he added, "I'll get Mr. Pratchett to the radio station. You're in car one, we'll follow you in car two." Before either Cory could protest or Nathan could react, the two of them were being ushered into separate vehicles waiting in the back alley behind the brick building, with Tony personally opening the door of a blacked-out town car for the author.
  "Oh, excuse me," Nathan said, as he sat down with a whoomph on the leather bench seat, addressing the person sitting on the other side of the car that he hadn't noticed until now.
  "Hi," a warm southern voice said. Nathan's pulse shot up and a weird smile cracked his face in two. It was the phantom woman in the black dress. Before he could say anything, Tony banged the driver's door closed and stepped on the gas, the town car roaring to life and speeding away from the book store alley.
Words Apart (Nathan's perspective)
Beginning of a story written together with Senorita Black. It's been a fun and amazing experience writing with someone as talented as her.

SenoritaBlack
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This is my second attempt at completing this challenge; my first slipped off the page when I was reviewing my song list at the end of the page. Let's see if I can recreate the "magic" :)

1. A song from your childhood: "Puff the Magic Dragon" Peter, Paul, and Mary (I think). I either broke the vinyl record that had this song on it or my mom's turntable, i can't remember which. But that's no often I played it as a child.
2. A song that reminds you of your most recent ex: Ooh. "Like a Woman, Like a Man" Damien Rice. I'm not sure I can qualify this choice, but yeah...there it is.
3. A song that reminds you of one (or both) of your parents: "Someday Never Comes" CCR. This song always makes me laugh because, while it defines much of my relationship with my father, I doubt he (my father) will ever hear it, nor would he understand why it is listed here.
4. A song that calms you down: "Famous Blue Raincoat" Leonard Cohen. This was my first recorded cover and still my favorite. I will sing this song sometimes to simply make myself feel human again.
5. A song that is often stuck in your head: "I Wanna Rock" Twisted Sister. The best part about this song is when I belt out my Dee voice and get this song stuck in the heads of every carpenter around me.
6. A song that reminds you of a best friend: "Lullaby" the Cure. All of the Cure's songs remind me of her, this one just happened to come to mind first.
7. A song that reminds you of Summer: "Summer Loving" the Vandals. I must have worn out three mixed tapes with this song on them while tearing through the deserts of Nevada, high on life and cheap casino coffee.
8. A song that reminds you of your first love: "Walking in London" Concrete Blonde. Yeah, just writing it out takes me back to Virginia City.
9. A song that makes you hopeful: "Rebel Yell" Billy Idol. I hope to someday scream this whilst running down a rubble pile into a bloody fist fight with a rival scavenging party in post apocalyptic America.
10. A song by your favorite band: "Confessionary Hymn" Joshua James. The grit and rawness of this artist gets me every time.
11. A song on the soundtrack of your favorite movie: Kind of a tough category for me. There are so many great movies floating through my memory. Was "Jesus Built my Hotrod" by Ministry playing during the first kill encounter in John Wick? If so, then that's my choice. If it wasn't, well, then shoot me. :)
12. The last song you heard: "Back in Black" AC/DC. A new rock station in town is playing every song they can get their hands on. I'm not complaining and I thought it was a rather fitting song this morning.
13. A song that reminds you of a former friend: "Birthday Pony" Fugazi. This song takes me back to car camping and cheap smokes.
14. A song that reminds you of your current significant other: Any song by Old Crow Medicine Band (is it Band or Show? I can never remember). We laugh every time we hear a new song and say that it was probably recorded by these guys first.
15. A song you love singing along to: "Ice, Ice, Baby" Vanilla Ice. It's so much fun embarrassing the hell out of everyone around me when this song comes on and I bust out every...single...lyric.
16. A song that has made you cry: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It is a version that was recorded by a Pacific Islander (I'm pretty sure) who has since passed away. This heartbreaking rendition broke open a dam of tears inside me that I thought would flood all the rest of my years to come.
17. A song that makes you want to dance: "Belo Legosi's Dead" Bauhaus. If you have ever seen me dance then this choice would make more sense.
18. A song that you love but rarely listen to: "Sketches of Spain" Miles Davis. I simply don't sit still long enough to enjoy this beautiful recording anymore.
19. The first song alphabetically listed in your Ipod/Iphone/MP3: "Goodbye Forever" Alkaline Trio. My music (even the songs) are alphabetized by artist.
20. The last song alphabetically listed in your Ipod/Iphone/MP3: "Your Southern Can is Mine" White Stripes. I can't stop laughing right now after having discovered this was the last song.
21. Your favorite song: I don't think anyone who does this challenge can say they have a single favorite song. However, in the spirit of being a good sport, I'll say "Karma Police" by Radiohead. Why? Because it's an amazing song.
22. A song that someone has sung to you: "Winkin', Blinkin', and Nod" by the Irish Rovers (I think). It was in the dappled moonlight filtered through a weeping willow. I will say no more.
23. A song that you cannot stand to listen to: "Baby Got Back" Sir Mixalot. Too many historical reasons to hate this song.
24. A song that you have danced to with your best friend: "Assimilate" Skinny Puppy.  I don't actually dance "with" people, but I've danced near my best friend to this song more than once.
25. A song that you could listen to all day without getting tired of: "Combination Lock" Fugazi. I have to will myself sometimes not to hit repeat forever when this song plays.

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HellPayne

Artist | Other
United States
I write dark fiction and sci fi.

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:iconheatheraftercosplay:
HeatherAfterCosplay Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! <3
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:iconhellpayne:
HellPayne Featured By Owner 1 day ago   Artist
Thank you for sharing! Your work is as wonderful as you are lovely 😊
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HeatherAfterCosplay Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
*^^*
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HellPayne Featured By Owner 1 day ago   Artist
😄
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HalfFormedThoughts Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Huggle! :D (Big Grin) :D (Big Grin) :D (Big Grin) 
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HellPayne Featured By Owner 3 days ago   Artist
You amaze me, Bo
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:iconhalfformedthoughts:
Thank you Nico! I wonder why....have a great day and take care there! :D
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:iconhellpayne:
HellPayne Featured By Owner 3 days ago   Artist
Your work is haunting and beautiful, a treasured boxful of photographs pulled from a dream of longing and sorrow that, while always slightly out of focus, still ring clear as day in the mind. I hope you have a wonderful day, Bo
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Chanteur-de-Vent Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the fave.
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HellPayne Featured By Owner 3 days ago   Artist
You're welcome
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