Sunday, March 31, 2013

Luck Of The Claw - Episode 4.

- Episode 4 -

"Hey, Thatch, you sure we're going the right way?" Cobble asked his taller companion. Of the two, Cobble was short and round while Thatch was tall and skinny. Neither were known for being overly smart though.

"Yeah, yeah, Cobble we'll be back to the tower in no time," Thatch explained. "I keep telling you, I know the way back, Baron Samael told me himself exactly which way to go." "But didn't he also tell us not to forget something though?" Cobble had to ask. He couldn't shake the notion they had forgotten something important.

"Nope, we took care of that guy and snatched up everything he had found. All we were supposed to do was bring it back to the Baron and he'll be so happy. I bet we even get rewards!" Thatch seemed so sure that Cobble couldn't argue, it did sound nice to think about not getting punished for once.

"If we're getting close, does that mean we can stop and rest a bit?" Cobble offered up another question. "Cause I am getting tired, maybe we could stop and take a nap or you could take a turn packing the big bag." Thatch clearly had no intention of actually doing any more heavy lifting than he had to, so the idea of taking a break was definitely the better of the two.

"Alright, we'll pause for a brief break, but then we'll hurry back, agreed?" Thatch offered. Without a second thought Cobble blurted out; "agreed." And before you could even blink the two flopped down beside the path with a grunt. "This stuff sure is heavy," Cobble said considering his bag as he removed it from his shoulder. "I know the Baron wanted everything but didn't he say it was key or something that was just important?"

"Yeah, he did say that, didn't he?" Thatch said as he recalled the same thing. "And he is sure to be really proud of us for bringing him all this other loot too. But I bet he would be even more glad if we already weeded out some of the junk for him!" Cobble was always impressed by how Thatch always had the best ideas.

"Like this silly little book," Cobble mentioned while holding a small plain book. It didn't look like much except for a slight etching of a white horn marked on the cover. The funny little thing didn't even seem to have any words in it. Not that it would of mattered, neither Thatch or Cobble could of probably even read the thing anyway.

After a few minuted the two had sorted through their pile of items and tossed aside anything they were sure wouldn't please the Baron. Quite proud of their labor they decided to take a quick nap before heading back. Surely they would make better time without the weight of the extra junk and either way Baron Samael would reward them for being so smart.

As he drifted off to sleep, Cobble still kept thinking there was something they had forgotten. He never had been great at remembering things, but he was sure they were supposed to do something on their way back. His stomach growled at him as he tried to remember what it could of been. It should would of been nice if they had another one of those crows like the other day. Sure was a great idea Thatch had had to cook it for a snack. Maybe the Baron would give them a really tasty treat as a reward! Yeah, that sounded really good to Cobble as he drifted off to sleep.

Steel Dragoons - Part 3.

Carefully Alwyn navigated through the rubble, crisscrossing through streets and between buildings. While he approached the target area he couldn't help but wonder what was really going on here. These were political malcontents- people angry and radically opposing what they assumed was the New Republic via violent demonstration.

Something just didn't feel right about this, Alwyn was used to going in advance and doing the recon. It was literally his job, but this time he couldn't shake the feeling they had walked into something all wrong. Alwyn was always taught to trust the intel until your recon proved otherwise but he had found his own instinct served him better.

"On your toes boys and girls, I am getting a real bad feeling on this one," Alwyn told his waiting squad mates. He knew, realistically, that he was the one more vulnerable right now - they were all safely still tucked away inside the transport. Nothing short of military grade anti-armor missiles or perhaps, maybe, some cannon could penetrate it's armor. And Alwyn couldn't think of any that could that was man portable. No way intel could of missed that.

His armor's sensors started picking up a heat flare just up ahead, it wasn't something he had to wait for his internal systems to analyze or cross reference. He had seen it before many times but never like this. Alwyn watched in horror as an entire salvo of Hammerhead missiles took flight in a dead aimed path towards the transport.

No time to intercept them, all he could do was hope they had heeded his warning. Alwyn hefted his rifle and turned to face the missiles launch site. They had been able to get off one salvo, but they would not ever manage a second. This was no longer a recon mission, by his reckoning it had become a seek and destroy. And that was another thing a bloodhound was good for.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Steel Dragoons - Part 2.

- Part 2 -

Intelligence had reported only a violent lightly armed force but as Alwyn scouted around he quickly realized that their reports were less than accurate. For on thing, he had already felt the thunder like echos of mortar fire slamming into buildings and streets. And he knew it wasn't from ADU forces. How could they have missed mortars?

"Locating possible mortar positions," he reported through his comm. He knew if he could at least locate them then he might have a chance to neutralize them before the squad deployed. If he didn't then that meant his squad could be sitting ducks, and that was something it was his duty not to allow.

Mortars didn't have the range of heavy cannon, so they couldn't be too far away to be hitting near enough to him. And to be effective they would definitely have to be concealed in some manner that still enabled them to fire. Alwyn scanned his surroundings, then checked his displayed map of the area. There had to be something that fit, and if it was him - there. Right, there; four central buildings formed a square perimeter. Each one had an upper level with just enough exposed area to mount mortars while allowing them all to enforce overlapping crossfire.

Alwyn zoomed in to be sure and marked each mortar on his display. "Requesting tactical artillery strike on the following targets." He knew he could have tried to remove the individual threats manually, but that was a calculated risk that his odds didn't favor. Even at a distance he ran the risk of alerting the other three positions and possibly drawing too much fire. Then his squad would be without eyes and ears in advance of them and well, it's dangerous walking into to anything blind.

One thing that still troubled Alwyn though, if these radicals were capable of deploying mortars both without being detected as well as in such an effective formation then what were they dealing with? Now wasn't the time to stop and contemplate matters, right now he had to investigate what other surprises were in store inside that defensive perimeter. Already on the move, Alwyn noted all four marked positions destroyed simultaneously. It was a wonder what even light mass drivers could do to a target considering the distance.

"What other surprises do you have in store for me I wonder?" Alwyn asked himself.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Steel Dragoons - Part 1.

When the door opened you never had time for questions or doubt - you just had to charge out and engage whatever awaited you. That is the job of a member of the Armored Defense Unit's tactical assault division. It's what every member of the squad had signed on knowing, and so when you heard through your internal comm the familiar command of: "Go, Go, Go!" You did.
Chaos exploded outside the armored transport, hostile forces had laid siege to an urban center and were destroying everything. It didn't matter if the people they encountered were civilian or not, whatever their beef was it was costing innocent lives. And that meant it was about to end, violently if need be.

There would be no negotiations, no peaceful approach. Not once the slaughter and bloodshed had begun. Civil unrest, even anarchy, could be dealt with to a point but this, no, this demanded a firm hand. The firm hand of a TAD squad in full gear and zero restrictions on their rules of engagement. Many of the squad were thrilled about it, but it always made Alwyn nervous. He genuinely felt that without some form of restraint that it made them little better than heavily armed wild dogs. It was like giving barbaric thugs advanced weapons and pointing them in a direction.

Alwyn served his unit well, while he only held the rank of Specialist his official job title was listed as "Armored Cavalry Scout." For him it was a fancy way of saying he was the squad's bloodhound. It meant he was the eyes and ears that would seek out threats and relay key info back to his squad leader. But while he was only a Specialist he was often on his own or on those rare occasions asked to lead small scout patrols of 2 to 3 men. Ironically, though, he had to admit he preferred it when he didn't have to take command of a patrol. It never felt right having to order anyone else around, much less being responsible for them.

"Time to go to work," Alwyn told himself as he thrusted himself out the door and into madness. Always the first to face what awaited them all; he was used to it. In a way he preferred it. At least out here and on the move he didn't have time to think or worry over details. Out here there was only his job, his duty and he best be getting to it.

"Beginning recon," he informed his commander as his eyes scanned the surroundings and relayed his HUD data back to the transport. Already he was analyzing the placement and strength of the enemy as he navigated his way around. Soon the rest of the squad would be deployed and they would rely on his relayed data to direct how and where to strike.

With any luck he could manage to spot the vital targets needed to end this conflict without any further escalation. Because if he didn't, well he already knew the kind of ordinance they were packing and it meant the whole area could be leveled just to end this. Orders were orders, but if there was even a chance to take out these extremists without resorting to that he was determined to try.

Luck Of The Claw - Episode 3.

- Episode 3 -

High atop FrostThorn tower Baron Samael sat awaiting an important message. He gazed out carefully watching for some sign of one of his crows that might be on it's way with news. But nothing approached his dark stone tower.

Any day now he should receive word, he was sure of it. The Baron had been setting his plans carefully into motion for a very long time now and the thought that they were all coming together excited him. Some unfortunate fool had already found the Vault of Echoes and that meant very soon his minions would deliver to him a key element of his plan.

The Vault had been an ancient site used to lock away dangerous and powerful items of magic. Legend said it was lost to the ages forever and would never be found again. Only it was. And Baron Samael planned to use the power it contained to enhance his own magic. Then, nothing could stand in his way of taking over everything for as far as he could see.

It really was getting damp in this old tower, the Baron noticed. He had been so preoccupied of late he had managed to miss it. With a single gesture arcane energy snaked from his finger to summon one of his servants to him. This wouldn't do, he couldn't allow even the smallest task to be overlooked. If he did, well the next thing he knew they might begin to think they should be free as well.

A small slender figure appeared in the doorway before the Baron careful not to speak or look up at him. Green fire flew forth in a flash to torment and burn at the servants flesh who barely managed to keep from crying out in pain. All the servants had learned painful lessons of their own as well as from watching what happened to the others who didn't. The silence was fortunate for them since the Baron despised weakness.

Satisfied the lesson was firmly engraved upon his servant, the Baron turned his gaze back to the skies. "See to it that the entire tower is cleaned and dried of this irritating dampness immediately," he ordered quietly. "I need not remind you that next time you will find me far less forgiving." The Baron could of easily taken care of the whole tower through his magic alone, but he did so enjoy this so much the more.

Now, where is that crow he wondered? If Thatch or Cobble had bumbled things up again he would torment them until what little wits remained to them were gone. No, clearly even those two couldn't screw things up at this point. All that was left to do was to wait for word that his prize was on it's way.

Baron Samael hated waiting.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Luck Of The Claw - Episode 2.

- Episode 2 -

Ever since he could remember Trinity had always been trying to tell him not to do this or how to do that. Never-mind her being his sister or a tiny bit older, it could drive anyone mad he figured. She was always worrying over how to do something or busy daydreaming she missed the opportunities Camden could spot.

Like this food for example. There it had been, just sitting there while it cooled slightly waiting for someone to eat it. Well, if the farmer couldn't appreciate the delicious food he had available to him then Camden would just make sure it went to someone who would. Namely him and his sister. It wasn't the first time he had to take something to feed them and probably might not be the last either.

He couldn't say he didn't enjoy it, though because to be fair he did like the thrill of being chased. Camden may not be a careful planner like Trinity but one thing he could always count on was thinking on his feet. There had been many a tight spot he had seen his way out of by just reacting on instinct. To him it reminded him of how he saw a fox one time get away from a hunter's trap. The fox had never seen it there but when he realized it was about to catch him it just reacted and managed to escape. No elaborate plan, just instinct and good reflexes - just like him.

They had been on their own for as long as he could remember. Trinity often tried to tell him they had ran away from a home for orphans when they were smaller but he didn't like to believe her. No, instead he liked to imagine that they had been taken from their parents in the night by people seeking revenge on them. Surely his father had to have been some kind of hero or something and had been killed. There just was no way they were just orphans.

Camden was determined that some day he would find out what happened to their parents. That, and he would become a legend himself - he was already pretty good with a blade. All he needed now was some kind of adventure that could lead him to fame, treasure and perhaps someplace they could call home.

"How about that plan Trin, any time now might be good!" Luck was a great thing to have on your side but eventually it had a tendency of running out and Camden didn't like to think of that happening right now. "Almost there," Trinity answered and then pointed to a section of rock. "As soon as we pass through there, hit the ground and slide."

Camden decided maybe next time it would be best if she didn't tell him her plan after all. Because this was less and less fun. When they passed through the opening in the rocks he did as she had said though and found them both sliding down a slope fast.

"Trin, I don't think I like you very much right now," Camden decided to mention. "It's alright, love you too," came her reply. Before either one of them knew it the ground below their bottoms came to an abrupt stop. Replacing it, was the Pool of Tears.

The only problem; they were now falling into it. Yeah, Camden really didn't like his sister much right now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Luck Of The Claw - Episode 1.

- Episode 1 -

There is a subtle music in the forest; the sound the leaves make when the wind blows. It is a form of magic, in a way. That is what Trinity always thought on clear cool mornings like this. She liked to close her eyes and let the wind blow through her golden hair as she imagined herself making magical songs as well. Oh, to be up on a stage and have all eyes excited to see you there! The very thought of it was her idea of heaven. Nothing at all like standing here by a plain dirt road that cut through the woods and wondering where her brother was.

"Where could Camden be anyway?" Trinity asked herself. "Please don't be getting into trouble," she started repeating to herself. It never seemed to do any good, but Trinity always secretly hoped that maybe the next time she might get lucky and find her brother not causing mischief.

Unfortunately, there was an approaching sound from over the hill that could only mean one thing; Camden had done it again. It sounded like someone was really angry and that person was chasing after whatever it was that had caused his unhappiness. And just as predictable as the sun rising each morning Trinity spotted Camden flying over a hilltop and heading her way.

"No time to talk Trin," Camden managed between gasping for breath. "We best be off!" With a free hand her brother grabbed his sister and took off into a full run diving between trees. As usual, luck was smiling on them almost as big as the one on Camden's face - an arrow missed them both to thud into a tree behind them.

"What have you done this time?" Trinity demanded as she tried to keep up. He was always doing this to her, every time she wasn't looking he was doing something that led to them both running for their lives. She was certain she could of been on her way to being famous by now if not for Camden.

"Don't worry Trin, I remembered breakfast," Camden explained with a chuckle. "I got your favorite; roast chicken!" In his other hand he held up his prize for her to see and sure enough it looked like he hadn't been joking. And as much as he could frustrate her, she had to admit Camden did do his best to look after them in his own weird way.

Right now though, they needed to escape this angry farmer first. While Camden liked to act first and think second(or never) Trinity preferred to think first. And it just so happened that she had an idea to save both of their skins. If she wasn't mistaken, and she rarely was, they were close to the perfect spot. Very few people dared to venture near the Pool of Tears and for good reason. It was a both a sacred place and surrounded by steep rocky walls.

With a quick giggle Trinity told her brother: "follow me, I have an idea!" Camden always hated it when she had one of those.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Where To Next?

Where do we go from here?
The question itself is a difficult one for many reasons. I have just finished off my experimental serialized bedtime story for my children and I must concede it seems to be a huge success. With that said though, I now face a daunting dilemma - how do I dare approach beginning another?

Well, let's consider a few things. First, I have just finished a 30 episode super hero themed story that has proven to be a hit with my kids. And I did wisely decide to end it with enough of a hook to allow me to potentially return to it later on for more stories. However, I feel a little tapped out in regards to the theme. I could, by all accounts, easily just pick it back up and keep on going. Yet, variety is the spice of life, and as such I think it could diminish my kids interest if the stories continue down a singular vein.

Another factor to consider that I originally didn't consider is that while the first attempt was solely meant to be bedtime entertainment for one of my sons it instead became a focus for all my children. Considering that little fact would lead me to at least approach my next work with that in mind. For example making the focus perhaps a pair of siblings like a brother/sister duo or some such. No matter how I go about it I should at the very least present some other elements that all my kids can enjoy. Not saying I plan to try to cater to all of them because that could get messy fast. Rather, it is more probable that I will work in some more moments for a little girl to shine in as well as a boy.

The biggest thing that I am struggling with however is what some might think to be the simplest choice. And to be blunt it might normally be. It's the theme or genre with which to work in. This last piece was specifically requested by my son and based off an idea I had while reading a similar story to him. But if I do go forward with more stories(and I have been already told I must do so) then I have to start with the idea of what kind of story it will be.

A few of the possible things that come to mind was a fantasy or science fiction themed tale. Either could prove exciting and entertaining to kids, especially if you forgo the cliched and over-used elements. It would be rewarding in it's own right to see sparked an interest in such stories in any child's eyes. There could be wondrous dragons and fiendish wizards to describe to captivated stares. Or just as easily laser blasted fire fights, and silly robot sidekicks. The possibilities are kind of endless to be fair.

And that doesn't even include taking into consideration all manner of other types of stories. I will admit thought that any real attempt at anything involving horror etc. isn't even on the list of options. That is one thing I just don't see as being appropriate for small children for a bedtime routine.

My son had already made a demand of me to begin a new story right away after finishing the last one. But he also said he wanted one about Transformers: Beast Wars right down to using all the licensed characters. Not really sure how I feel about that one to be frank. Perhaps if it was a generic transforming robot story or something.

I even admit it has crossed my mind to try a children's story set within my Requiem universe. But something tells me that may be a bit self-servicing, even if it would be an interesting challenge.

Well, I could always ask my kids later to see what they might like - and more than likely will. But I would also welcome any other input! So, what do you think? What kind of theme/setting do you think could be entertaining to children? I would also love to hear what anyone thought of my little experiment as well. Did you enjoy the story? Do you think it works well as a children's story?

A Light In The Dark - Episode 30.

- Episode 30 -

"Wake up Jack, you're going to be late for school," Dad said from the doorway. Jack opened his eyes and looked around, somehow he was in his bed. He glanced out the window and to his excitement the sun was already up in the sky saying hello in it's own way. But how was he home, the last thing he remembered was fighting Mr. Graves?

"Um, Dad," Jack called for his father. "What do you mean I have school today?" His Dad was immediately back in his doorway wearing a huge grin. "Well, buddy," he began to explain, "it looks like somebody fixed the problem last night and they have managed to get the power back up this morning." Dad started to walk back down the hall but stopped and poked his head back in. "I wonder who we have to think for all those flares last night?" he asked with a chuckle.

He had really done it, he was really a hero just like the Force Guardians! The whole way to school he felt like he was walking on air. Everything seemed brighter, everyone was smiling and happy, it was a great day. Jack even managed to get to school a few minutes early and saw a whole bunch of other kids were gathered around outside the school. Kim and Ben ran over to greet him.

"Whats going on?" Jack asked his friends. "Look what a bunch of people have been finding," Ben told him as he held out his hand. In it was a small strange piece of rock, Kim held one up as well. "I bet it's from that meteor the other day," Kim said as she studied hers. "How many were there?" Jack asked concerned.

"A bunch," they both answered at the same time. Jack had hoped they were going to say anything but that. It seemed like things were only just beginning to be interesting in his little town. Well, at least they had a bright flare for emergencies!

The End

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 29.

- Episode 29 -

There was no room left for fear inside Jack, his heart was a pulsing white hot engine of courage and determination. He watched as Mr. Graves angrily tossed Kim and Ben to the ground. This wouldn't be as easy as fighting off a whole horde of hounds like before, Mr. Graves was smart and mean. Jack knew he would have to be careful, so he covered himself in armor of light complete with a blazing sword and shining shield.

"Let's see just how you handle someone who isn't afraid of you - somebody who can fight back!" Jack challenged Mr. Graves. Already shadows were swirling around him like a sinister swarm. Dark claws tore and slashed at him as Mr. Graves tried to find an opening to hurt Jack. There was still so much fear in the town, so many people scared that there really was monsters in the dark waiting to get them.

Jack stood his ground with his shield up and only cut at the shadows that managed to get too close. With each strike the strands of black would vanish and Mr. Graves became even more angry. But while Kim and Ben watched they saw Jack fighting Mr. Graves and he wasn't even scared. If Jack could stand up to Mr. Graves then they could too, there was no reason for them to be scared anymore.

The less fear there was, the weaker Mr. Graves became. He needed it, desperate he tried anything he could think of to scare them. The teacher of terror tried to change his shape into a giant nightmarish monster but it wasn't working. Too many people all over town had seen Jack's flare's of light and even now they could see his bright glow pushing back the thickest darkness. Hope was spreading.

With a mighty swing Jack chopped a huge part of the shadow monster Mr. Graves had become. He didn't even pause, he just kept up his attack - kept cutting and spinning like a whirlwind of light. Darkness vanished in flashes and puffs as Mr. Graves himself started to be afraid for once.

"Time to face the light of day!" Jack yelled. The brightest explosion of light ripped forth out of him and it was almost like the very sun itself had just rocketed right up into the sky. Only a tiny sliver of shadow managed to flutter out of the way and into a drain. And as Jack fell to the ground exhausted to be claimed by a deep sleep he almost thought he heard Mr. Graves voice. It was so very faint but it almost sounded like he said "This isn't over!"

But Jack was already helplessly fast asleep.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 28.

- Episode 28 -

It was so very dark in the box. Not even Jack's own glow seemed to be shedding any light at all. It was just blackness all around him, it just didn't end. Fear held him tight like a steel chain that refused to even let him breath it felt like. As he became scared he could feel his power slipping away. Very soon he wouldn't be able to do anything and right now there wasn't anything he could do.

"I'm sorry everyone," Jack apologized. "I tried to do my best but I guess I just didn't do good enough." A single scream pierced through the emptiness, it was Kim! His friends still needed his help. But Mr. Graves said they would be okay, he had promised. "No! I made the biggest mistake in the book; you never trust a bad guy!"

Black claws reached into the air all around Kim and Ben as Mr. Graves enjoyed the complete terror on their faces. "Help us!" they pleaded and begged. Locked away within a prison of darkest night Jack could hear their screams. It called to the very core of him and instinct demanded he act.

Blinding white light slammed out of him and exploded against the black walls until they shattered into bits. "Let my friends go, now!" Jack demanded with eyes that burned like white hot suns. He could never truly be afraid if someone he cared for was in danger, for he had the heart of a hero.

And now Mr. Graves was going to have a lesson of his own - he was going to learn just what that meant. Power flooded through Jack and his light was already building brighter and brighter. "Last chance, Mr. Graves," Jack reminded his teacher.

"Time to finish this," Jack thought to himself. He had decided, once and for all that no matter what it took he was going to end this right now.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 27.

- Episode 27 -

Jack dashed down the street as he hurried to find his friends. He knew he was getting close but as he turned the corner something just didn't feel right. It was so dark down this street, darker than it should even be without any street lights. Better be extra careful Jack decided as he slowly walked forward to check things out.

The feeling of hope that Jack had been able to sense spreading through the town now seemed like a faint echo in the distance. There was a strong fear here and it's icy presence made Jack wish he had a winter coat on. "I know you're here Mr. Graves," Jack shouted even though he couldn't see him. Deep down inside a small part of Jack couldn't help but feel a little scared as he tried to spot Mr. Graves.

"So glad you could join us," Mr. Graves hissed from somewhere in the deep darkness. "We've been waiting for you, me and some friends of yours. Sadly they were neither fast enough or smart enough to escape me." Jack had been too late, Mr. Graves had his friends now and he wasn't sure what to do. "Oh, what would the Force Guardians do?" Jack tried to ask himself. But he wasn't sure what his favorite heroes would do in a situation like this.

"Please," Jack tried to beg, "don't hurt my friends I'll do anything you want!" He still couldn't see Mr. Graves and every time he could hear him speak he couldn't even tell where his voice was coming from. "I know you will," Mr. Graves told him.

A box of thick black darkness began to form in front of Jack. "Get inside the box," Mr. Graves commanded. "Once you are inside then you won't have to worry about your dear friends any longer." Jack wasn't sure where his friends were but he did know that if he even tried anything Mr. Graves could still hurt them. He didn't have a choice.

So, Jack took a deep breath and stepped into the box. Instantly it sealed shut and he found himself in nothing but pure darkness. And all he could hear was Mr. Graves laughing as he felt himself becoming afraid again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 26.

- Episode 26 -

Mr. Graves watched from outside a bedroom window as he calmly calculated the next step of his plan. Even now Jack was on his way through town to try and stop him. But he already had one of his dear friends and soon he would have the other. This was going to be easy!

As usual the little know-it-all was sitting in her room with a battery powered light and emergency radio. She had apparently been prepared for situations like this, but one thing she couldn't have expected was shadows oozing into her room. Curiosity kept her at first from screaming before instinct overwhelmed her and made her scream in panic.

"This isn't real," Kim mumbled to herself as the darkness started to look like her teacher. "This can't happen, it's not possible," she tried to remind herself. Kim had read a lot of books and things and she was sure that shadows couldn't do things like that. But sure enough, standing in her room and smiling with glee was Mr. Graves.

With a wave of his hand a wave of black swept through the room and all light vanished. Darkness wrapped around Kim and even though she tried to struggle and fight it was just to strong. It squeezed and held her tight until she couldn't move.

In the distance bursts of light exploded in the air that gradually were getting closer and closer. "Late again," Mr. Graves whispered to himself quietly. "But let's see if you remembered to study for the test." "A test?" Kim managed to ask with a groan. "Yes," Mr. Graves confirmed, "a test over the use of traps involving live bait."

For once Kim didn't know what to do, but she hoped desperately that whoever was coming did.

A Light In The Dark - Episode 25.

- Episode 25 -

Even in the darkest patches of night a single glimmer of light can spark hope in the hearts of those who see it. Jack knew this better than anyone, since he had been terrified of the dark for so long. But, just like Dad had said, the darkness was nothing more than a bully. It needed you to be scared, it needed your imagination to allow it to win. If you stood up to it and choose to be brave then it lost all power over you.

He had been right when he told his Dad that he could be a flare. Fighting against these shadow monsters Jack had not only defeated them but he had also given people something they needed. A single little boy had shown them how to be brave even in the face of something scary, and he had done it by making his own light. Powers or not, Jack was a hero.

The growing ripple of faith in everyone who could now see this shinning hero in a hospital gown still flooded into Jack. But he knew Mr. Graves wouldn't stop spreading fear and terror throughout the town. He knew Mr. Graves was a mean teacher, but how could he have became such a evil man? Whatever had happened to them that day, had it done this to Mr. Graves? Jack didn't know for sure but he did know that if he couldn't save Mr. Graves from this thing he had to make sure to stop him from hurting anyone.

"Hey, Flare," Dad yelled with a grin from the doorway to the hospital. "Jack, sweetheart, at least put these clothes on," Mom begged. "I have to hurry," Jack tried to explain. "It was Mr. Graves, something bad has happened to him and I think he might hurt more people. My friends could be in danger!"

Mom bent down to look her youngest son in the eye, and when she spoke her voice was soft and clear. "You come back safe, my little brave hero. If anyone can bring light to those afraid in the dark, it is you my little angel." Dad didn't have to say anything, Jack could tell by the look on his face that he was proud of him.

Charged by his own courage and the hope he was bringing to everyone Jack looked out at the empty night covering his town. "Well this is a really big emergency," Jack noted. "I guess we're going to need a really big flare." Both his parents agreed with a smile as their son started off into the dark in a run.

"Good thing this town has me to help light the way," Jack said loudly as he launched bright blasts of light up into the sky as he went. Now, if he was going to hunt down a shadow in the dark the first thing he was going to need to do was shed some light on things. With every little flare that glowed to mark his passing people looked up and began to be less afraid. And with every spark of hope Jack felt more and more like he could really do it. He could stop Mr. Graves.

All he had to do now was try to make it to his friends before Mr. Graves. The only problem; he might already be too late.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 24.

- Episode 24 -

Moving through the night like a liquid shadow Mr. Graves hunted for something he was sure would help him get his revenge. He knew for sure that little James or Jack or whatever his name was was friends with those other two kids. That annoying know-it-all girl had pestered him after getting to class early, insisting that she be allowed to sit directly behind him. And then there was that little cowardly kid - what was his name? Speedy or something like that.

Yes, he was sure those two were close to the bothersome boy. The boy who even now was struggling to overcome a whole pack of his delightful little play things. These new powers were just so deliciously wonderful, and he couldn't help but notice how the more afraid everyone became the stronger he was becoming.

He couldn't leave this task up to mindless shadows, no - he was going to see to these two personally.  "Now, if I am not mistaken," Mr. Graves told himself. "That other boy lived right around the corner here." But he had to pause and think for a moment about the girl. "I believe the girl is a couple streets over."

Ben was easy enough for Mr. Graves to find - he was the most terrified kid on his block. He was shivering under a bed sheet when thick strands of darkness wrapped around him and pulled him to Mr. Graves.  But just as he tucked the black blob behind him an upsetting feeling settled into his stomach.

Jack had just wiped out all of his night hounds that he had left to take care of him. That was impossible! And why did it feel like there was a growing warm feeling pushing back the fear? Oh, that child was becoming far too annoying! But once he had little miss smarty-pants he would make him suffer.

Mr. Graves hadn't forgotten that day in class. Oh, no, indeed he remembered quite well the look of terror on the young man's face. It was much like the look on another boy's face. And he knew just how to punish little boys like that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 23.

- Episode 23 -

In a slow ripple hope began to spark to life as other people could see a brave little boy standing alone against monsters of shadow. An entire town had gone dark and outside the hospital was a single light that defied the night. As it spread Jack could feel his own power growing, but he could also still sense the spreading blanket of darkness.

"Smile!" Jack said with a chuckle. One quick pulse of power and an enormous flash exploded in the air above him. It was like a hundred photographer flashes all going off at once. "Aww," Jack remarked to himself, "they forgot to say cheese." In a single blinding moment he had wiped out the last of the dark dogs that had been left. He could feel the drain it had taken on him though, if not for the surge of hope he might not have managed it on his own.

But, Mr. Graves was still out there. Jack didn't have any idea what he was up to but he could feel the cold fear drifting through the town. Even with the power out and so many people scared though, there was still a growing warmth of hope. Because there was still a source of light to drive back the dark. It made Jack smile, the idea that he really could do it. He could be a hero, just like the Force Guardians.

"I've got to find Mr. Graves," Jack told himself. "Before he hurts anyone else." The thought reminded him he still had no idea how Kim or Ben were. And if his teacher had been looking for him he might go after his friends. That is what the bad guys always did on Force Guardians and if anything Mr. Graves was just as bad - or worse than them.

Behind him Dad leaned over to whisper in his Mom's ear. "Told you honey, he's a brave little man with a huge heart. I always knew he would do something special one day." Neither of them had ever expected anything like this though, and the night was not over yet.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 22.

- Episode 22 -

Dogs of darkness rushed and began to circle around Jack until they became a blur of black. It always seemed easier when the Force Guardians dealt with monsters like this. But, then again, they were a whole team of heroes. Jack was just one little boy.

"Let's light things up," Jack said with a smile. He had to admit it was kind of fun to say it and it was the kind of thing he always saw superheroes do on T.V. In a bright flash Jack's skin started to glow brighter and he could see clearly now that these shadow monsters didn't like it one bit. Growling, they leaped from all around him trying to claw and bite at Jack. Each time he could feel the cold touch of the empty darkness they were made from. With every attack some of the beasts were destroyed while others circled back around to try again.

The longer the monsters attacked the more Jack could feel himself getting tired. He was going to have to do something else to speed things up. These things were moving to fast for him to try to blast them all one by one. He couldn't risk using up all his energy like that especially if he missed, then he might be powerless against these creatures.

"Light-bulb!" Jack roared aloud as an idea struck him. He had just remembered stick fighting with Walter in the back yard because his brother had taken all his toy darts for his dart gun. With a thought he formed a shinning sword of starlight in his hand and held it up to face Mr. Graves pesky pets. Slashing and moving he fought to strike at the shadows as they continued to attack him. But still he could feel the chill of the darkness draining him, he could feel himself starting to become afraid.

"I can't believe I said light-bulb, I'm starting to sound like Dad," Jack joked while he tried to catch his breath. There was still a few more dogs of darkness left and it was becoming so hard to keep his light going. He was just getting so tired and cold.

Hope sparked to life from a window behind Jack, and as he felt it it washed over him with warmth. Wiping a single tear from her cheek, Mom watched filled with hope as her brave little boy faced the dark he had feared for so long. The surge charged Jack's light even brighter.

Time to introduce these shadows to what happens when you turn the light on.

Not Everything Can Be Looked Up.

By this time tomorrow my father will be at the hospital.

Granted he is going in for a routine procedure(a heart cath) but there is the chance they will decide to perform open heart surgery depending on what they find. He's already had his fair share of procedures and tests over the years, but a part of me is still terrified.

I never knew my father's father. Sadly he passed away just under a year before I was born. My Dad was 27 at the time and his father was just 52. Now he has made it to 60 and while I am older than he was I can't help but fear the idea of losing him now.


You can't look everything up. One thing my Dad has always told me was that if you didn't know something you should look it up. But after watching him over the years I have also seen first hand that not everything can be looked up in a book. Before he was even 30 he lost his own father, and a few years back after some similar heart trouble he let it slip that he had made it past the age his dad had. He never would admit it, I don't think, but deep down he has been afraid that at any moment he'll leave us much like his dad left him.

One thing he and I have in common is that we struggle with finding the right words to say most of the time. For me, well - writing things down just seems to work better. It helps.

With any luck everything will go without a problem tomorrow. And if it does, maybe then I can ask him just what do I do if I can't look it up.

We may wrestle with the words or fail miserably at expressing it but I hope he knows I love him. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 21.

- Episode 21 -

Speeding through the endless patches of darkness that blanketed the town Mr. Graves raced his way toward the hospital. He had felt one of his little pets as it was destroyed and the fact made him curious. Whatever it was he had to know, up until now nothing had managed to be a threat to these incredible new powers he had.

A single light greeted Mr. Graves as he slipped up closer to the hospital. It hung in the air just above the doorway to the building and it's very presence was an irritation. Carefully he studied the light; it wasn't part of the building and it clearly wasn't a streetlight. But where was it coming from? Was it this strange light that had defeated his shadowy servant?

Lost in thought, Mr. Graves was startled when his eye caught sight of a small figure as it moved just under the hovering mini-moon. It was a little boy, he was still in his sock feet and a hospital gown! "Oh what wonderful luck," Mr. Graves thought to himself. Here before him, helpless and all alone he realized was none other than that annoying brat - Jack.

Reaching out Mr. Graves called to his night hounds and brought them to him. He almost wanted to giggle to himself as he sent a pair of his pets charging in to attack. But almost instantly his grin vanished when Jack turned to face the approaching dogs of darkness. "I'm not scared of you," Jack roared as he threw his hands out in front of him. Each hand exploded into a blast of white hot light that rocketed straight into the hounds vaporizing them.

And then Jack looked past the monsters that had attacked him to see Mr. Graves surrounded by dozens more. "Look out Mr. Graves, those things aren't safe," Jack yelled. Furious, Mr. Graves could only see a child who was still defying him. A child who had to pay.

Melting back into the deeper darkness Mr. Graves pointed his finger at Jack as his pets swarmed towards Jack. "Destroy him," he commanded. Jack watched as his former teacher vanished but he didn't have time to chase him. He was going to have to deal with this mob of monsters first. Then, he was going to have to find and stop Mr. Graves. If he could make things as bad as these shadow dogs, then Jack knew it would only be a matter of time before he did worse things.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 20.

- Episode 20 -

The humming of electricity was quiet and now a whole city was bathed in darkness that was like heaven to Mr. Graves. He could almost hear panic and fear building in waves as people all over town were realizing there was no power. That meant no lights, no T.V., nothing worked. An entire town that was now beginning to be afraid, afraid of the sudden dark that they told themselves couldn't hurt them. Only now, it could.

With a short squeal that he couldn't help Mr. Graves shaped packs of shadowy hounds. "Now," he told his creations, "go and find me that little boy." He watched delighted as they scattered in all directions flashing through dark patches of the night. They would hunt until they found Jack, and then Mr. Graves would deal with him.

Jack could feel the unnatural darkness racing through the city, he could feel so much fear growing. He knew what it was like to be afraid of the darkness, but he also knew you could stand up to it. As fast as he could he decided to forget looking for his shoes and instead rushed out the door into the hallway. His sock feet slipped on the slick floors and he almost fell when he bumped into something.

"Almost forgot," Jack muttered to himself before imagining a little ball of light that instantly was floating in the air above him. "What's going on?" his Dad asked in a panic, startled by the sudden strange floating light. Mom was just starring blank at her son who was now standing by her in his socks and a gown.

Something was prowling up the hall, Jack could just make it out at the edge of the light from his floating glow ball. He couldn't let anything hurt his parents, but whatever this thing was it was heading right for them. So he imagined the first thing he could think of and stepped in front of them.

A bright wall of white exploded into life that the black beast slammed into before it evaporated. When Jack turned around his Mom was crying and Dad was holding her, he could tell they were scared. "Mom, Dad," Jack tried to explain, "there is something I have to do." He had to pause for second to make sure they could hear him. "There is something bad coming and I have to try to stop it, I have to help."

"Why, son," Dad interrupted, stopping Jack before he could continue. "You are just a little boy, what can you possibly think you can do if there are more things like that out there?" Jack didn't even have to think to answer his father, he already knew what to say. "Dad," he said in a calm voice. "What do you call those special bullets people shoot up into the sky in an emergency?" The question confused his Dad, all he could do was reply; "do you mean a flare, buddy?"

"Yeah, those," Jack confirmed with a grin. "When there is trouble people always shoot one of those up, and you know what? It brings hope. I can be like one of those flares," Jack explained. "Because people need me to be, look what I just did Dad by being brave. Everyone is scared and if more monsters are out there in the dark then maybe I am the only one who can stop them."

Slowly his father began to understand and smiled at his son - he really was becoming just as brave as he knew he could be. "I am proud of you, Jack," his Dad whispered. "You go be that flare, and do the best you can." As Jack slid off down the hall he could hear his Mom still crying but he was sure Dad would take care of her.

"Time to bring some hope... and light," Jack said to himself. But what if he couldn't do it? He would just have to trust what his dad had told him and do his best.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 19.

- Episode 19 -

Jack woke up suddenly, he wasn't sure why but all at once he was wide awake and sleeping just didn't seem like something he could do if he tried. So he looked around his hospital room - all the little machines were still there, beeping and blinking. He couldn't tell for sure if it was night time or not because the nurse had closed all the window blinds. But by the clock on the wall he was pretty sure it must be. Telling the time by the hands on the clock was something Jack never had quite gotten the hang of but he knew enough to know that the way they were pointing was normally after dark.

Jack couldn't quite shake the feeling something wasn't right though. It was sort of like that day outside school. Just thinking about it made his head still hurt, he couldn't remember anything about what happened. All he could remember was begging Mr. Graves to get back inside and then he was having some weird dream.

And then there was the glowing. How had he done that anyway? He had tried to be brave and then he felt that gentle warm tingle... There it was again! Excited, Jack concentrated again and tried to imagine a little strip of light in his hand. And just like something from an episode of The Force Guardians there it was like a little dagger of white light. This is so awesome he thought!

But as amazing as it all was Jack couldn't help but worry about his teacher. What had happened to Mr. Graves? A faint cold chill began to tickle at the back of Jack's neck. Something bad was coming, he could feel it somehow. And if he had any kind of powers like his favorite heroes then maybe he could do something to help!

Quickly Jack started to unplug the various wires they had stuck all over him and decided he would check on his parents. They were supposed to be outside his room catching a nap. They worried too much. But now it was his turn to worry, because while he looked around for his shoes every light in town went out.

A whole town was dark, and it made Mr. Graves smile.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 18.

- Episode 18 -

Slow and steady the sun began to slide down in the sky, ready to turn it's attention to other places. As the fiery orb gracefully said it's daily goodbye people went about their days like they always did. Shadows lengthened and street lights began to flicker on.

For Mr. Graves though, it was a magical time. He could hear a sweet music in the air as the daylight faded. No matter what people told themselves, there was always a part of them that still feared the night and it's darkness. And it was just that fear that Mr. Graves found to be simply delicious.

"Hmm," the shadowy Mr. Graves whispered to himself. "Maybe a snack is in order, I do feel rather hungry." The idea sounded too delightful to ignore, so with a grin Mr. Graves decided to leave the basement. He began to twist and melt as his shape changed until he was just so much darkness in the room. In a flash he poured out of the windows and up to the streets.

Hissing he soon discovered how uncomfortable bright street lights could be. Getting near one made his skin sting and burn. It was almost as annoying as having to listen to those kids in his class day in and day out. Furious he concentrated on wanting to smash the street lights and as he watched shadows formed into black bird shapes. They circled up into the air and in seconds the street light exploded.

The relief washed over Mr. Graves and he sighed. That did feel so much better! But there would be more bright lights all over town and now he felt even hungrier. He would have to do something about all the lights before he could begin hunting through town for that irritating boy.

Just then Mr. Graves began to giggle. If something were to happen to the big power lines to the town then all the lights would go out. But first, wasn't it almost time for that young lady to be walking home? Yes, he was sure it was. He could wait to have a quick snack first, after all he was going to have a busy night.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 17.

- Episode 17 -

"You should get some rest sweetheart," Mom said softly as she looked down at him. "The doctor said you may be able to go home soon! They just want to run a couple more tests to make sure everything is healing fine." Jack knew his Mom was worried, even if the doctors said he was fine she would still worry he might not be. Maybe it's part of being the mom; your suppose to worry about everything.

"I'll be alright, Mom," Jack said hoping his Mom believed him. Even if she didn't it felt good to at least try to make her think he would be. "I'll be right outside checking on your father if you need me," Mom reminded him. "Want me to leave a little extra light on for you sweetie?"

"No, thank you though," Jack replied. His Mom sighed before she went out in the hall. Jack was sure it was times like this that his mom wanted nothing more than for him to be a baby again. But he wasn't a baby, he was a big kid now and he knew he could be brave. The thought sparked his courage and then suddenly there was a glow from under his blankets.

Carefully he lifted his sheets and peeked down to see a little point of light shining from his chest. It was just like in his dream, somehow he was glowing! Curiously he touched it with his finger and it felt warm, kind of nice really. But what was this thing he wondered, maybe if he had a little more light he could check it out.

Instantly, the warmth spread through him and a beam of soft light shot out of his hand to become a ball of light that hung in the air. It was a gentle light and didn't seem to hurt his eyes. Did he just do that? Jack was both excited and a little scared of the possibility. 

And with that brief moment of fear the light he had created flickered out. Jack was going to have to figure this out, but for now he was tired. Perhaps Mom was right about getting some rest.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 16.

- Episode 16 -

The lights down in the basement had never worked very well but the constant flicker was far too irritating. With each pulse of light the shadows were pushed back like waves on a beach. Except for a single corner, for some reason the shadows there seemed to wiggle and swirl.

Long black snakes of darkness shot out suddenly, each one smashing a light. "That's better," a cold voice purred. The basement was now completely dark and it felt wonderful. "Now, what happened..." the shadows whispered. "Ah, yes, it was that child - he must of done something." Anger rippled through the blackness as it started to take the shape of a man.

"Hello," said a little old man from the stairwell as he pointed a flashlight down into the basement. "Anyone down here?" he asked. "No, not anymore," the voice answered. Instantly shadows rushed forward and pulled both the man and flashlight in and then they vanished. There was no sound or sign left that anyone had even been there a second before.

Only one figure now stood in the basement, smiling ear to ear. And it looked strangely like Mr. Graves! It felt good down here in the basement but that flashlight had burned. What had that little boy done to him? His memory was fuzzy but he remembered Jack distracting him, trying to make him miss witnessing a once in a lifetime event. "That little brat!" Mr. Graves growled.

There was too much brightness outside, he could feel it somehow. He would wait, and then he would find that little boy who had done this to him. Cold tingled up and down Mr. Graves arms as shadows flickered around him. Soon, very soon, he would teach little Jack a lesson and then all the kids would learn to fear him.

Their fear would be delicious.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 15.

- Episode 15 -

"He's waking up doctor!" a young nurse squealed. Alarms started to beep in various ways, whatever they were for Jack wasn't sure about. All he knew was his head hurt and his mouth felt really dry. Why was everyone yelling and what did that lady mean?

Jack quickly started to figure out who they were talking about as soon as he opened his eyes. It was him. He was tucked into a big white bed and there were wires taped all over him that plugged into weird machines. That was the easy part - he was in the hospital. But what had happened?

Jack tried to ask what had happened but his throat hurt too bad, he couldn't seem to speak. "Easy there young man," a doctor told him as he pointed a little light in his face and started looking him over. "You have been out for quite a while, it is amazing to see you awake again." The doctor began reviewing some of the machines before he continued explaining. "We weren't sure how much damage it did to you when it hit. The surgeons were able to remove some of the rock fragments that hit you but unfortunately they couldn't get all of them."

Mom and Dad were in the room now standing behind the doctor, they were asking him something that Jack couldn't make out. "What about the others?" Jack managed to ask with a grunt. It was Dad who answered; "the other kids said it was you who warned them, and they managed to get out of the way in time. They said there was a few scratches and bruises but nothing serious."

But then everyone's faces changed. "About Mr. Graves though..." his Dad seemed to have trouble deciding how to tell him. "Well, buddy, they told us you tried to help him - but nobody has seen him since the accident. It's like he just vanished. He could of made it to safety but it was so dark nobody could really see very well."

Somehow, deep down, Jack knew Mr. Graves wasn't gone. He could feel it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 14.

- Episode 14 -

Slowly Jack began to open his eyes, he felt like he had just awoke from being asleep for a very long time. But when he tried to look around he saw nothing but emptiness. There was no one around him, nothing to be seen and strangely he didn't hear anything at all. "Hello," Jack said trying to see if there was anyone who could even hear him. But nobody answered him, there wasn't even an echo.

Jack wasn't sure where he was or even where anyone else was but he decided right away he wasn't going to just sit here and be afraid. The last thing he could remember was the meteor that was heading straight for them. Where was Mr. Graves, and was his friends safe? He had no idea, but he had to find out.

Something warm tingled inside his chest as Jack stood up and started walking around even though he still couldn't see. "I will not be afraid of the dark," he reminded himself. He had to make sure everyone was okay, they could be anywhere, he was determined to find them.

The tingling began to get worse, his chest even started to feel warmer. Confused Jack noticed it didn't hurt so much as it just felt like a really warm bath and then it started to spread all over him. Was he starting to give off heat like the heaters in his old classroom? People can't do that, Jack was sure of it.

But then why else would he be glowing? Wait, Jack was sure he had to be dreaming because he really was glowing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 13.

- Episode 13 -

Rocketing through the sky a hunk of rock was speeding it's way to the ground. Kim was the first to spot the strange meteorite as she yelled; "look, look, there it is and I think it's glowing!" She was right, of course, even Jack could see that it sort of rippled with a strange light. Even as the sun's rays were lost in the shadow of the moon the mysterious space stone shinned.

Everyone was so amazed by this almost magical thing that was happening above them, but something still troubled Jack. "Shouldn't we go back inside Mr. Graves?" Jack asked cautiously. "Be quiet!" his teacher snapped. "You do not want to miss this," Mr. Graves added but his eyes never left the sky.

Jack looked up at the darkened sky again and this time he was sure of it - that bright little rock seemed to be heading towards them. He had to do something! But what could he do, Mr. Graves seemed pretty clear that he didn't want anyone disturbing him. If that thing did hit anywhere near them though he was sure somebody could get hurt.

Determined, Jack said in as loud a voice as he could; "everybody get back inside this isn't safe out here!" The other children hesitated, they weren't sure if they should even listen to Jack. Mr. Graves refused to move even an inch. "No," he roared "I can't miss this!" But by now even the other kids had started to notice the meteorite was getting closer and closer. Everyone ran for the school as fast as they could hopping it might keep them safe.

Jack pleaded one last time as he reached for Mr. Graves. "This isn't safe Mr. Graves, we have to get inside," Jack explained. "Run and hide if you are scared little boy," Mr. Graves replied. In that moment Jack knew one simple fact - he wasn't scared at all of the darkness around him. He was only worried about someone getting hurt.

And then, all at once everything became black and silent.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 12.

- Episode 12 -

The short walk to school seemed strangely long to Jack. Each step felt like a heavy thud, his feet didn't seem to like the idea of taking the rest of him to school. But Jack was sure he had done his very best like his Dad had told him, so he was proud of himself. Having to waive goodbye to his Dad though, that kind of felt like waiving goodbye to a boat while you were swimming in the ocean with sharks.

As scary as the dark was, Mr. Graves was pretty spooky himself. Jack reminded himself that he couldn't let himself be scared, that and he had to hurry or else he would be late again. Being late didn't seem like a good thing to do two days in a row. As he hurried to class Jack noticed Mr. Graves wasn't at his desk, but he decided it best not to stop and just went straight to his seat.

It wasn't until long after the school bell rang that Mr. Graves came into the room walking so fast he was almost jogging. "Change of plans today everyone," he said as he tried to catch his breath. "I want everyone to follow me outside for a special surprise lesson." The whole class was shocked, nobody even moved to stand up. Mr. Graves had to repeat himself again, "I said, everyone will follow me outside for a special assignment." Pausing by the door he added, "Now."

Still not sure what to make of Mr. Graves' announcement the class started to line up behind him and silently followed him outside. While everyone else was wondering what their teacher was up to, Jack was still asking himself; "what about my homework?" He had worked hard on it and was proud of it. But his attention soon turned to the sky, it didn't seem to look right. Something was wrong with the Sun and the Moon, they were not supposed to be that close to each other. He couldn't help but think they might crash into each other or something.

"What we are going to see today, is a once in a lifetime event," Mr. Graves said. He seemed as excited as Jack and Walter usually was on Christmas morning. "We are going to be lucky enough to see an eclipse, and not just any eclipse either. There are even reports that during this particular eclipse we may get to see a rare kind of meteoroid."

The sky began to darken further and the darker it became the more excited Mr. Graves got. This had to be something he had always dreamed of, Jack thought. But a part of him, something small and deep inside, couldn't shake the idea that something was wrong. At first he thought that maybe it was just his fear of the dark, because if the sun was covered up it would get pretty dark outside. Even though the thought scared him a little, it wasn't what was bothering him.

And then it hit him - Mr. Graves had said meteoroid. Wasn't that what they called rocks in space that could fall to the ground and make those crater things?

Why did they have to be outside again?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 11.

- Episode 11 -

"Morning, little buddy," Dad said from beside Jack's bed. He was squatted down like a big bull frog, his chin resting on the edge of the bed. Jack opened his eyes to his Dad making a silly face and couldn't help but smile. "Proud of you for last night," Dad said while he rubbed Jack's head ruffling his already messy hair. "Wanna know a secret?" he whispered and looked over his shoulder like he might get into trouble if anyone overheard him. It was possible Jack knew several times Mom fussed at Dad for telling them all manner of weird things.

Jack wasn't sure what Dad was about to say but he was curious to hear what it was, so he nodded. "You can always be proud of your best, son. Even if you fail, get sent to the principal, no matter what it is - I want you to always know that if it was your best you can be proud of it. There is no shame in it." Dad stood back up and winked at Jack. "Your best is always good enough for me, and I am proud of you."

"Dad," Jack interrupted as his Dad was almost out the door, one foot already in the hall. "Yes, buddy?" Jack had just remembered what Mom had said last night. "What did Mom mean when she said you were scared of something?" The question made Dad's face change, he looked real sad.

"Promise you won't laugh at me, or tell anyone?" his Dad asked while pausing to look up and down the hallway. "I promise," Jack declared, not sure what could be so bad Dad would worry about being laughed at. When Dad spoke next to answer the question Jack had to really listen cause he was whispering super quietly. "I am scared of spiders... and girl's underwear," he said while looking down at the floor.

"Have you tried your best?" Jack asked next. "Why do you think I fold the laundry and try to fix things under the house by myself? I keep trying but they just still are too creepy, always make me get all tingly." His Dad couldn't even help himself, just thinking about it he shivered. "Well, Dad," Jack said with a smile, "then that is good enough for me."

"Guess we'll just be proud of each other then," his Dad chuckled. "Let's get a move on, we have to get you to school." Unknown to either of them a single star twinkled just a little brighter before it started to fall from the sky. Perhaps big bright hearts have a gravity all their own.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 10.

- Episode 10 -

Jack stared at the back door for a few minutes, he really didn't want to go out there. He swallowed but the lump in his throat didn't go away. As scared as he was he kept telling himself he had to do this. He couldn't let the dark keep bullying him, he wasn't fast like Ben and even if he was you can't outrun the darkness.

No, Jack was determined he was going to beat his fear. He took a deep breath and reached for the door knob. His eyes were closed when he stepped out onto the back steps but he couldn't bring himself to open his eyes right away. "I have to be brave," he told himself. "I am brave, I am not scared of you!"

Slowly he peeked out of one eye and he could see stars twinkling up in the sky. He tried to imagine all the stars shining just a little bit brighter pushing the darkness back. And you know what, it kinda helped. So he concentrated just on the stars trying not to even think about how dark it was outside.

Before long he had drawn down on his paper lots of little pictures of dots and lines. The dots were the best way he could think of to draw the stars and the lines helped him picture the shapes they made. He was sure that he might not have the names right but maybe he had gotten them close enough to not get a bad grade.

Satisfied Jack decided to go back inside and get ready for bed. Once he took his eyes off the sky a tickle worked it's way up his back and the fear started trying to come back. He tried his best to keep reminding himself that he was brave but he couldn't help a quick hop to jump back inside. It felt so good to be back inside where the lights were on.

But now Jack still had to wonder if Mr. Graves was going to send him to the office or not. Jack wasn't sure any homework was good enough to impress mean old Mr. Graves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Light In The Dark - Episode 9.

- Episode 9 -

Dinner was delicious! Mom always fixed some of the best tasting food Jack could ever remember eating. Even Walter had been nice to him, offered to tell him the answers to his homework and everything. But something about the way he said it made Jack think maybe it wasn't the best idea though. It probably had to do with Walter trying to keep from giggling - he didn't do it very well.

"Now Walter," his Mom said quietly without looking up from her plate. Normally that meant she was warning you to listen closely cause if she had to speak louder you'd be in big trouble. Dad might yell when you were going to be in trouble, but Mom didn't. In a way it was kind of even scarier.

Jack could even remember one time when he was little Walter had accidentally tossed his ball in the house and it broke a really old fancy plate Mom had on a shelf. When Walter tried to blame him, he could barely hear Mom whisper "Walter, come here please." He got in loads of trouble that time. This time Dad interrupted, "leave him be Walter, we've all had to learn to be brave at some time or another."

"Sorry Jack," Walter muttered. It was Mom's turn to hide a little giggle as she covered her mouth while Dad gave her a look. "Sorry, honey," she said after a pause. "Maybe Jack can help you with your fears after he overcomes his!" Laughing to herself she started clearing the table and headed for the sink.

Even Dad was still afraid of something? The thought was sort of shocking to Jack, Dad was supposed to be like Superman. How could he be scared of anything? One glance at the back door and Jack forgot all about what he had been thinking. It was already getting dark out, that meant it was time for homework.

Time to be brave.