Whitmire and the Rally Car – A Short Story by the Brothers Seim

The Artists Sunset Oregon Coast 853x1024 Whitmire and the Rally Car   A Short Story by the Brothers Seim

The Artists Sunset - by Gavin Seim

Last Fall I (Gavin) took a trip with my friend and mentor Ken Whitmire. A man from whom much of my knowledge as an image maker has been inspired. It was quite a trip and after making it home in one piece, Nathan and I wrote a story. A true story, but as all our stories written side by side to tell it in our Brothers Seim way. The image on the left is a piece I made during this trip called, The Artists Sunset. You can learn more about that here on my pictorials journal. But now for your consideration…

Whitmire and the Rally Car.
by The Brothers Seim

He was like granite and steel. Eyes of grey slate, looming over us like a king.

We left early that morning from Yakima and drove all the way to the Oregon coast. Ken had a portrait session on the beach and I went along to get footage and stills of him working for a video I was producing, that and to spend a few days with one of the most experienced wall portraitists of this century. Taking a trip with Ken Whitmire is akin to cruising Yosemite with Ansel Adams. These would be memories to talk about when I’m as old as Ken. If I live that long.

It was beautiful and surprisingly warm for a November evening. One of those sunsets that seems to last forever. You can’t expect those on the coast, but you hope for them. They glow with brilliant color, light that goes on and on, like a great song that just keeps playing. We drove Kens tiny Toyota Matrix right down onto the beach. I’m not sure that’s even legal. But at 82, I figured Ken could chat his way out of a ticket. What had me worried was the sand. In my travels I’ve spent my share of sand time, as crowds gather to gawk at the stupid guy who “thought” he could make it. But then, I’m a young’un. Only a jerk would stop to gawk at an eighty year old man.

“Ken maybe we should stay in the parking lot.” I suggest.

“No, we’ll be just fine.” he says with that old man tone that suggests he’s done this dozens of times before. He guns it. Well, as much as you can gun a Toyota Matrix. We plow through the soft entry path, slowing with each passing second, barely reaching surf-packed sand, then driving on down the beach.

It was a brilliant family portrait. Not the kind that everyone who buys a camera and claims they’re a photographer goes out and makes. This was the work of a master. I helped with lights and exposure setups, watching how Ken worked as I grabbed my stills and footage. After the portraits we hung out on the sand till after dusk, loading up while getting photographs of the sunset and a few of me posing with my 4×5 view camera.

Finally we headed out. Back at the soft sand, Ken tries to gun it and get us to pavement. Moments later we’re were buried up to the bumper. No biggie, right? Ken came prepared with a brand new tow rope and the folks who would normally be expected to stand gawking were super nice, getting their 4×4 and helping push or pull as needed to set the little car free. Ken’s no stingy old guy, either. They earned a case of beer for their deeds.

After grabbing a sizable sack of saltwater taffy, we moved on. Coming through Tillamook we stopped, not for cheese, but for dinner at a place called the Rodeo Grill. They had peanuts on the tables and you just tossed the shells on the floor. It felt satisfying. Probably because you can’t do that at your mom’s house. Not ever.

We moved on, working thorough the the hills towards Portland. Ken thinks his Toyota is a rally car, but he’s not reckless. We make it to Portland around ten thirty and I find a Motel 6 on my iPhone. We just need a place to bed down, but turns out it’s pretty seedy. I glance over reviews mentioning something about bed bugs and Ken says “Lets move on.” We promptly get out of Dodge, deciding to make a place called the Vagabond in Hood River. Word On Yelp is that it’s old, but cheap and pretty nice.

It all happens about half way. It’s storybook dark outside and Ken’s cruising at about seventy. I look up and barely have time to point shout “uh ehh uh”. A huge bull Elk is looking down like a god from the middle of the interstate. I don’t know if it’s the darkness, the long drive, or the carmel and marshmallow sweet potato I ate at the Rodeo, but I could swear this is the biggest Elk I have ever seen. I felt like a child in our tiny rally car, but Ken reacted instantly and I think God was is the back seat. This was beyond rally driving. “ELK” was feet in front of us as Ken jerked the wheel so hard that Mr. Toyoda probably turned over in his grave. We just slid by ELK at about sixty miles per hour as he smiled down on us.

It was like slow motion. I felt us sliding and I can still hear gear flying around in the back. I remember thinking about stories I’d heard. How Elk are the worst because their legs can come through the windshield. Then they bludgeon you to death.

The car squealed like my two year old on tickle day, rubber against dry pavement. Then Ken pulled hard left to correct and I think we did a three-sixty. I wondered how much damage slamming into the median at rally speed would do. But we glanced carelessly off the concrete, then back across the interstate which was mercifully clear of other vehicles. Finally we stop. I note with satisfaction that we’re still alive and that my underwear remain dry.

ELK walks off claiming no fault. A guy comes out with a light from the frontage road to see if we’re ok. It seems the only damage is some nasty scrapes on the bumper, so we move on to the Vagabond, Ken grabbing us a nice little double room for half price because it’s Veteran’s Day.

The next morning we sleep late, have a big breakfast and a nice drive home without any issues. Well, except nearly pulling in front of a semi-truck. But that was no big deal. Because we didn’t.

<<<>>>

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Making Characters Sing… Figuratively

writing characters 375x450 Making Characters Sing... Figuratively

Gary Gentroft, photographer, character - Portrait by Gavin Seim, 2010.

By the Brothers Seim: We’ve learned that  creating a natural character is one of the more challenging aspects in writing. We do struggle with it at times, but have discovered some things along the way.

Let Them Grow: Characters tend to develop a personality by themselves as we write. Planning is good, but forcing an instant personality on an important character is good for little more than filler until you have them laid out and can rewrite them as needed. That’s not necessarily bad, but we should be prepared to craft our characters slow and naturally.

3D! More or Less: Single and multi-dimensional characters are both valuable. Your primary characters need to have dimensions. They need to have depth and personality. Unexpected quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Their not one of those movies with the red and blue glasses. These are the deal deal.

But Minor and cameo characters should often be a bit more single sided. They serve one purpose and that is to fill a space in your story. The reader may only see a few aspects of their personality. That’s a good thing, because if you have a cast of hundreds making with deep intricate personalities , it would probably clutter up your story. Readers can be frustrated by “too much” information (A lot of readers feel this way about certain books in The Wheel of Time Series, for instance). So yes, that much information can be successful, but it’s risky.

Emotion: Important characters should have a method to their madness. A way they react to things, but also a breaking point. A great character possess both positive and negative aspects. At some point the walls come crashing down and they have to stand naked in front of the crowd. When that happens you had better have a solid foundation for that character.  The reader needs to “feel” what they feel (see Kaladin, in Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings).

Quest: I know it’s a fantasy term, but most people have a primary goal in whatever they are doing. Usually characters should as well. That said it doesn’t have to be grand, or even abnormal. You can make the most mundane of things fascinating by writing them properly. Ask yourself what your characters goals are, their hopes and dreams. Blend that with the reality of their situation and their personalty, then watch them form before your eyes.

That’s all for now… The Brothers Seim

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A Very Simple Note

Dear writers,
it is no longer revolutionary or daring to have a culture that is so “enlightened” or “loving” that they have sex with anyone and anything whenever they feel like it. In fact, it never was. College kids and animals totally had that idea first.

That is all.

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Trauma, Hollywood style

You know how people die in movies? They get shot or stabbed in the chest, grunt, fall down, and summarily expire. That irritates me. I was watching The Magnificent Seven the other day (Good movie, by the way), and at one point James Coburn’s character chucks a knife with a blade no more than four inches long into an enemy. It hits significantly below the man’s right breast, and it does not sink in to the hilt. It misses his heart by about ten inches, and probably didn’t reach deep enough to pierce the bottom of his lung and almost certainly not his liver. Nevertheless, the man grunts in pain and collapses, apparently in his death throes.

Now, I realize the guy messed with James Coburn. That always results in death, of course. But realistically, there is very little chance that wound would have been fatal at all, and certainly not that quickly.

I imagine he would have gone into shock almost instantly unless he had been stabbed a lot in the past. In my experience, this means he probably would have sunk to his knees and spent a moment or two totally dazed before realizing he had better get serious and take care of that wound. Then the real pain would set in.

The point here is that movies and books very often do a very poor job representing injuries and their effect on a person. Low profile actors die of badly stubbed toes, but the star takes a couple of rifle rounds to the chest and stomach and ignores them, ’cause he’s busy.

I am not pushing for long, drawn out death scenes. My point is, do a little research about the wound your portraying, and make it at least somewhat realistic. You might be surprised at how much is survivable (something like 10% of heart puncture wound victims make it) but how little is debilitating; if you get shot in the arm or leg, you had better be on a massive adrenaline rush or you are down for a long time. Also, dying instantly is extremely rare. Unless the victim is completely calm, to die instantly they probably need to be beheaded or the equivalent.

All I am really saying is do some research, think about the effect of the wound (i.e. Chest injury = blood loss and shock.) I am no medical expert, so if you are (or even if you aren’t), feel free to point out any errors I made. Please do your homework, though, just like you would for anything else. Your story will be the better for it. At least, that’s my take on it.

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BLOOD AND THUNDER!

Have you ever been reading a fantasy story set in another world, or in a pre-historical version of this one and been stopped by a modern profanity? You stop and think “I get the point, but didn’t that expression only become an exclamation in the past xxx years?”

If you haven’t, that’s probably because you aren’t me and don’t have my odd quirks. Nevertheless, it’s still anachronistic.

Let’s take a popular one: “Damn!” Most of us know that this word means to cursed to hell, to be condemned, or to suffer eternal punishment.

At first, it doesn’t seem to be anachronistic. People, no matter their faith, have pretty much always believed in eternal reward or punishment, and it’s a powerful thing, so why not curse with it?

The thing is, I believe the phrase originally simply meant “to judge.” Also, it did not appear until the 13th or 14th century, which was after the invention of firearms. Most High Fantasy stories are not aiming to emulate that time period. Generally, we usually have worlds that exist between 300 BC to 1000 AD.

My point is this: High Fantasy or old world authors, invent your own curses! Whether you can explain them away or not, modern curses just don’t feel right in a wrong setting, just as words like “Dude” are unlikely to work. It has far more ring if you invent something relevant to your world. For example, in Brandon Sanderson’s The Way Of Kings, the characters often exclaim “Stormfather!” If you have read the story, you probably know that it works. It fits the world. And it sounds a whole lot better than an armored Knight exclaiming “Crap!” At least, that’s my take on it.

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Writing Great Dialogue & Five Tips for Making it Crackle.

By Nathan Seim

At first, writing dialogue was extremely difficult for me. No matter what I wrote, when I actually went back to read it, I found what I had written was usually lifeless, dry, and boring. I thought for quite a while that dialogue was the hardest part of writing fiction, but I just figured I would improve with practice.

Months of practice did help, but there was still something missing. Gavin might have been a little better than I, but really he had the same problem. Our dialogue just wasn’t alive.

Finally, “when all hope seemed lost” (dramatic effect), we figured out the issue. We didn’t know our characters, and if you don’t know someone, how can you know what they would say or how they would say it? We hadn’t known it, but in our first draft, our characters lacked dimension and personality.

At that point, we really started cracking down, and, by the time we went through are first chapter again, they were already fleshing out, and, sure enough, our dialogue was starting to crackle. We were getting things like personality, undertones, implications, and (Gasp!) inflection.

The moral here is if you feel something is wrong with your dialogue, but you don’t know what, check and see if you really know your characters. Not just what they do and look like, but what they want and need, what they detest, why they do things, and the way their mind works. Speech tells someone’s life story in implications and hints, and if there is no life story to tell, their speech will probably be dry as a scorched pork chop. At least, those are my thoughts on it.

5 Tips…

1. Take the time you need to build a real character. Scenes in which people casually talk and interact are great for this, because one’s personality under incredible pressure is just a magnification of one’s personality in normal circumstances.

2. If you are trying to write in dialect, and it isn’t working, try writing in your native accent.

3. If possible, try to write in such a way that you do not need to narrate how your character is speaking. (i.e. he shouted, she said softly, she stated, he intoned, etc.) It’s better if your context shows how they are speaking, and beyond that it is left to the reader’s imagination.

4. If one wording feels more grammatically correct but a different wording fits the character better, always fit it to the character. In real life, dialogue isn’t usually grammatically correct. Say it aloud. Feel it.

5. Try to think of someone you know who is similar to your character, and imagine them saying your line in the situation you have built.

All these things will really help make your dialogue feel real, at least… That’s my take on it.

Nathan

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Freedoms Eve – A Short Story by The Brothers Seim.

eve online graphic 300x166 Freedoms Eve   A Short Story by The Brothers Seim.Space. Another frontier. Wait, hasn’t something like that been done. Let’s start over… This is the first Science Fiction short Nathan and I have written. The world it’s set in actually comes from a very popular (very fun) game called Eve Online. If you play it you already know what it is and you can appreciate some of the homage paid to it here. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, don’t worry because the story is original and it stands pretty well on it’s own

Hope you enjoy… Gavin & Nathan.

Freedom’s Eve.
A short story by The Brothers Seim.

His eyes swept the vast expanse of space before him. To his sides and rear where thousands of combat ships, each fitted to it’s own role, each armed to the teeth with guns, electronic weapons, missiles and the countless other methods humankind had invented to destroy one another in great numbers. In front of him was empty space, but he knew that was about to change.

The Jovian Directorate would send a Detachment to investigate the incursion into their space, and the Amarrian Imperial Fleet would murder them, in cold blood. He wanted to wonder why the Amarr would do such a thing, but he knew already. Why? Because a few lunatics, insane for power, had their people utterly convinced that God himself willed it. He knew it was a lie that this entire mighty fleet would be annihilated for. Amid the twisted hulks of mankind’s greatest achievements, now become instruments of death, would be bodies, burned, then frozen almost instantly.

Garet Drembar knew all this, but in spite of that knowledge, he was going to lead his ship into battle alongside the Amarr. At first he had said that he had no choice, but it was a lie, he knew that. There was always a choice. The choice was to fight alongside his Amarrian masters or die in screaming, writhing agony as the Vitoc poison that pulsed in his veins overcame the antidote the Amarrians supplied him. He chose to fight. It was a brutally clever method really. Poison your slaves, then give them an antidote that is one hundred percent effective, but that only you can supply. The Amarr had used it for centuries to control slaves who held delicate jobs. And Garet was a slave, and his job was delicate indeed.

He was the commander of a Prophecy-Class Battlecruiser, crewed entirely by Minmatar slaves, all under the effects of Vitoc. Garet, in truth, was proud that his team was among the finest in the Amarr fleet. They had labored for years, training tirelessly, holding silent against atrocities ordered by their masters, and now they were going to their deaths. He had told them this and they had taken it like true warriors. He was proud.

Fifty-four seconds after a they dropped out of warp, Garet walked onto the bridge and Dran, chief engineer and Garet’s brother, pulled him aside.

“Garet, you know I’m not afraid to die, but if I go down, I’m taking as many Amarrian animals with me as I possibly can.”

Garet shook his head slowly, knowing and understanding his brother’s sentiment. “I don’t think we’ll have a chance. When the Jovians realize what we’re doing, the fleet is going to burn in the wink of an eye. The casualties will send the empire reeling for decades to come.”

“ And I want to watch it writhe, Garet”. Do you remember? She was my wife!”

“I remember brother.” He said, his mind filling with the memories of that day long ago. He saw her again, shot dead as she turned to run, her body striking the ground like a discarded doll, strands of amber hair bathed in the mud where she fell.

“Garet, we have 6 frigates incoming.” The voice of his intelligence officer shook him from his reverie.

“This is it everyone.” Garet took the captain’s chair, and as his adrenaline began to rush as the Brutor tribal war tattoos appeared on face.

Then they heard the voice of the Jovian captain over the comm. “Amarrian fleet, you have entered sovereign Jovian space. Please go back the way you came.”

There was a moment of silence before the voice of Idonis, Ammarian Holder and Commander of the Imperial fleet, spoke, his course voice coming over the comm, made ugly by the voice Cripters that prevented the Jovian from listening.

“Acquire passive locks. Fire on my order.”

The Jovian spoke again, his firm but calm voice a stark contrast to the rasp of Idonis.  “Your ships are locking us. Stand down or be destroyed. You have five seconds.

Idonis answered without scrambling the comm. “God is with us. Fire at will.”

With those three casually spoken words, deep space was lighted with laser fire. The Jovian frigates broke formation and engaged. Garet knew they were transmitting everything that was happening. They had, at best, two minutes before a Jovian Capital fleet arrived.

The first Amarrian ship, a Maller class cruiser, exploded and Garet could feel his brother smile, as the lives of the seventy-six imperial citizens blinked out. A moment later the sound of tearing metal reached through the void and the Armageddon-class battleship to their port side broke into three pieces, flailing bodies spilling from it’s hull and into open space.

Garet and his crew lost count as ships and lives blinked from existence, Crushed from this detachment of only six Jovian Frigates.

The voice of Idonis Crackled over the comm once again. He laughed. “They have not touched us. Ten cities for the captain that spills first Jovian blood.” The comm clicked off.

Finally three of the enemy ships ventured too close to a battleship. Stasis webs spat from the Amarr vessel, slowing them to a crawl. Garet gauged the distance to the nearest of the crippled frigates and ordered Dran to open fire. He nodded curtly and obeyed. The ship exploded in a rain of molten metal under the impact of the six pulse laser beams. A small escape pod came clear of the wreckage and dropped instantly into warp. Maleatu Shakur whistled and the bridge crew looked at one another in surprise.

“Warp pods.” Dran muttered.”They take care of their own!”

Another Jovian frigate went up, but this time the Amarr caught and destroyed the escape pod. There were three frigates left, one of which was webbed down by an Amarrian Apocalypse-class Battleship. The other was engaging the aggressor from out of web range, effortlessly evading it’s slow tracking lasers. The third was just sitting in space, doing… “Close on that third frigate! Do it NOW!” Garet roared. His men reacted instantly and he saw his lasers light the darkness. A moment later the frigate exploded. To late. The enemy ship had left a glowing field in space.

“We have a Jovian Cyno Field.” Garet said to the fleet at large.

Dreadnoughts and Carriers close around the field. Prepare for incoming hostiles.” Came the voice of Idonis. “I’m going to bring in the Avatar. We must hold them off until the wrath of God and the Emperor comes.” The Amarrian capital ships, along with several dozen smaller vessels closed in on the cynosaural field. At that moment, twenty Jovian carriers and a mothership jumped through it. The battle began in earnest.

Hundreds of Jovian ships poured from the mighty mothership. Laser fire danced in the darkness of space, but for every Jovian cruiser that died, ten Amarr battleships burned. Garet watched as a single Jovian battleship destroyed an Amarrian Archon-class carrier, a ship that should have held fifty times the strength.

Then Idonis was on comm again. “Amarrians, hold your ground. God is with us!”

The Jovian’s realized that The Arzad, Idonis’s Imperial Armageddon-Class battleship was the flagship of the fleet, and three cruisers broke off from the body of the Jovians to deal with him. Dran’s words from earlier that day returned to Garet’s mind. The man’s wife was dead, on Idonis’s order, simply because she was of the Starkmanir tribe. He had destroyed them all, simply to take vengeance on one man.

“Move to protect the flagship.” Garet ordered. He expected his brother to object, but he did not. They were still about 16 kilometers off when vengeance came. The Jovian mothership spewed fighters like wasps from an endangered hive. In just less than a minute, an entire wing of six Armageddon-class Battleships, five prophecies, a dozen cruisers and scores of frigates and destroyers were reduced to shattered debris, floating in space. Men screamed for help into the comm, words barely intelligible through terrified sobs, then they were cut short as their hulls breached and their living bodies froze solid.

“The wrath of God has come!” Roared Idonis over the now open comm, as the massive golden hulk of an Ammarian Avatar-Class Titan, one third again as large as the the fighter-spewing Jovian Mothership, erupted from warp. Massive capital lasers sprang from it and the entire Ammarian fleet moved to assist. Garet watched his ship interface reading, as the shields of the Jovian ship slowly melted away.

Then, Without warning the entire sky erupted in a sunburst of crimson light. The Avatar had fired it’s doomsday weapon. The massive bolt of fire tore into the Mothership, it’s shields blinked, then vanished. Garet could see the deep pits cut into the armor of the ship. They were winning.

The thought had not yet reached his tongue when three more Jovian Motherships dropped out of warp, two of them supporting their wounded comrade with remote shield boosters.

Then, close behind them, it came. The sun, a mere one and a half Astronomical Units distant, glinted off its deep gray exterior as it dropped out of warp and locked the Avatar. A massive green antimatter beam erupted from it and Garet watched as in an instant, the shields and half the armor of the Avatar were sliced away. It was a Jovian Doomsday weapon. Clearly they faced the Jove version of a Titan-Size Starship.

Both the Avatar and the Erebus, the two titan classes with which Garet was familiar, could fire only a single doomsday shot every quarter of an hour. If this Jovian Behemoth had the same limitation, maybe, just maybe, the Amarrian Remote Support fleet could keep the Avatar afloat. The Amarrian Carriers and Motherships closed around their stricken comrade, massive welding lasers and shield repair beams piecing back together the Avatar’s defenses.

Two more antimatter beams erupted from the Jovian titan and a massive hole, nearly a kilometer long, was ripped in the Avatar’s hull.

“Stabilize, stabilize!” Cried Idonis to the Avatar’s pilot.

“Cannot stabilize. Falling back.” Came the stoic reply of Captain Zoriac.

“Warp to safety.” Idonis ordered, and the comm went silent as the titan began to turn, engaging its warp drive. Just as it finished accelerating and aligning to the warp target, a fourth beam spat from the Jove ship. The massive Titan accelerated for an instant more. It’s last registered speed just over 1000km per second. Then the mighty avatar split in two, turned sideways in mid-warp, and shattered like glass. Garet heard an involuntary gasp escape Idonis who had left the comm open. He frowned, then reached over and switched off his outgoing comm.

Garet looked around. What had been pitched battle thirty seconds ago had become a route. Some Amarrian ships dropped into warp, while the rest were systematically annihilated. Garet looked down at his sensors. The Arzad was halfway through armor when Garet’s readout showed that it’s warp drive was activating. No retreat order, Idonis was simply running, abandoning his fleet. He had just finished aligning when Garet heard the Arzad’s computer voice over his incoming comm. “You cannot warp because you are being warp scrambled.”

Their own ship was melting under Jovian fire. Garet gave the order. “Abandon ship! To the escape pods!” He saw a red flashing light indicating a private transmission from the Arzad. Apparently Idonis had muted his outgoing comm, wishing to speak only to Garet. He ignored the request.

According to Brutor tradition, Garet and Dran moved to flank the door of the lift as the bridge crew fled for the escape pods that had been a gift from Idonis himself. In a moment, only they remained on deck. As Garet was about to step into the lift, he glanced back at Dran’s console. The warp scramble icon was active, and he saw the symbol for passive target lock on Idonis’s battleship. His brother had warp scrambled The Arzad. The Jovians would not finish Idonis. He would. Him and his brother, and all his men. He glanced at Dran and nodded slightly. It was right and good. Suddenly the fleet comm came to life again, and Idonis was screaming.

“…You Garet, you and all you’re kind! Release my ship now!”

“Idonis, I want to hear you scream as you are burned to ashes. Justice has come for you.” It was Dran who spoke.

“Garet, this is mutiny! Control you’re crew!”

“I stand with him Idonis. For what you did to the Starkmanir, to the Jove, to my crew, to your own soldiers, I condemn you to die here, beside so many innocents whose blood is on your head!”

“Think Garet! I can get you out of here! I can give you your life, your freedom. I could make you a holder in the Empire itself!”

“What about my ten cities?” Garet’s voice dripped scorn.

Idonis’s ship would explode at any second, and Garet’s own was nearly gone.

God burn you, Garet! God burn you!” Idonis screamed and sobbed into the comm. “Gunner, shoot the Matari escape pods!” he ordered. Lasers from his battleship bit into the escape pods that were now moving away from Garet’s failing battlecruiser. Garet saw six split apart, and the name of each man that died echoed in his head.

Then it came. The hull of the Arzad breached and the reactor went critical. Idonis fell to his knees, gasping and praying. “No, God help me. I’m so scared.” There was a rumble, then a roar as the reactor on his ship exploded, and he was incinerated in instant.

It was done. Garet and Dran stepped into the lift and reached the escape bay as their own ship fell apart under Jove fire. Each went for their assigned pods, which were side by side. Garet found his destroyed by weapons fire, and it was impossible for one unit to support two men.

“See you on the other side!” Garet shouted over the roar of destruction.

Dran nodded, but then glanced towards him, realizing that Garet had no pod. “Garet, take mine. I am alone, and I have seen justice done. I am content.”

Garet nodded. “Go in peace.” He embraced his brother quickly. It was not the Matari way to deny such an offer, so he stepped into the pod and punched the button to seal it. He threw Dran a firm salute, which his brother returned. All atmosphere outside Garet’s pod vanished as he shot into space, the sound of his pod’s impulse drive engaging. He looked back. There was a flash where Dran had been standing as the tortured ship ship cracked apart, then was obliterated by a final salvo.

It was at that moment that Garet made his decision. It was time. He was going to free the Matari. He began to weep, the faces of good men now dead, flashing before his eyes.

<<<<<>>>>>

(c) 2011 The Brothers Seim. Please do not copy this story. Please share it by referring readers this this page.

Story idea and content Gavin & Nathan Seim. Any direct references to Eve Online characters or lore is CCP Games (R).

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Malefactor. A Short Story.

Nathan and I are past due to post a story. The book is making good progress and we’re really excited about it, but in the meantime we really enjoy the satisfaction of making and sharing short stories. It challenges us and sharpens our skills in various genre’s of work.

This is Malefactor. A tale we spent quite a good bit of time perfecting and that we’re pretty proud of. It takes place during the time of Christ, attempting to look at situations from a different perspective than we might be used to. Hope you enjoy… Gav

Malefactor.
A short story by the Brothers Seim.

I follow crowds. You see, in time, crowds disperse. I can generally spot the ones who are wealthy, careless with their purse. Sometimes I can get it without them noticing, but more often I cut the cord and run. I am not a subtle man, not usually. I have my moments, but more often I just use brute strength. I know how to fight, though I’ve always been careful about violence. I’m not afraid to hurt people, but I can never tell who might have citizenship. If they catch me and they can prove I’ve murdered someone under the emperor’s protection, they will crucify me. Otherwise, they’ll just sell me into slavery.

Not that I intend to get caught. No. But I’ve seen crucifixions. They draw crowds and so they draw me. I remember that first wretch. Some Egyptian who murdered a centurion. They dragged him out of his cell. He kicked and screamed and resisted, but the guard knew how to use his whip. In the end I watched him carry it up to the hilltop and then they… Gah, I don’t want to think about this.

For the past three years I’ve done well around here. There’s this Jewish teacher, and he draws crowds. I can’t describe what it is about him, but when you hear him you understand. He’s not a lawyer, but there is something about the way he talks. He’s brutally blunt and the Jewish leaders hate him. Really hate him. Pharisees hate anyone with a voice who questions them. Saducees do to. I think that’s why they hate each other so much.

These Jewish leaders are such hypocrites. They’re no better than me. They steal, they cheat, they lie, they even kill, but when they can’t hide what they do they always come up with some sort of law or tradition so the people will tolerate their crimes. I wish I was so cunning. But even so, when they trouble this teacher, he seems to come out on top. I often hear what he has to say while I watch the crowds. I admit, I like it when he tells the leaders that they will spend eternity with Lucifer. He’s the Hebrew demon lord.

Today the teacher is riding into the city. I have a perfect place. This crowd is so thick and the people are going wild. They won’t even notice me. Here he comes. That group of Pharisees over there are watching whats happening. Ha, they look furious. That one walking away is quite wealthy. He’s my man. Well worth the extra risk. His purse chain is made of metal. I cannot cut it. I’ll just wait till he goes into that alley. Here’s a rock that will do the job nicely. I’ll just stay at a reasonable distance until I can catch him alone. I had better wait for that cloud to move overhead. No reason to risk him seeing my shadow. My, But it is a beautiful day. Look, that flower cart is here today. I’ll buy one for mother once I’m finished.

It’s time. I’ll not hit him too hard. Just enough to knock him out. Run quietly… Caesar’s stones, the suns coming out. My shadow, he’s seen it. He’s shouting for help. Run around this corner. Damnation, there’s a soldier. Now those fool Pharisees are yelling that I am a thief. Can my day get any worse? Their catching up. Hands off me, roman scum. Take this rock in your face. Haha, that will stop you. Time to go, the soldiers are coming in force. Three more. I’ll duck down this alleyway. Ooomph! Who tackled me? Gah, my head’s ringing. They must have slammed it on the pavement. Someone’s yelling. Something is…

Where in Hades am I? Straw and stone floor, barred windows, locked door. A prison cell. This lump on my head is the size of an egg. They must have knocked me out. Least of my troubles though. At least I didn’t kill anyone. At worst, I will be sold. Then I can escape. Slavery is not so bad, compared to the alternative. There is nothing I can do but wait. Better get some sleep.

The door is creaking open. How long have I slept? my head feels clearer.

That guard in the doorway is motioning to me.

“Come with me.”

He’s binding my hands and leading me out of the cell. We’re in the halls. I hear a room full of people ahead. The judgement hall? Is that Pontius Pilate, the Procurator? He’s looking me over. Why would they bring me to Pilate?

He’s speaking to me. “You know what you’ve done.”

Should I respond? No, better to just shrug and say nothing.

“You killed a roman soldier with a stone.”

“Killed him? No, I only hit him once! I didn’t kill anyone!” How can this be happening.

“Really? the soldiers who witnessed the murder said differently.” Pilate motions with his hand, as though I am of no importance. “Take him and crucify him. ”

“No! I won’t die like that, you Roman…”

A soldier’s gauntlet smashes into my mouth. I have to fight the wails of pain and terror rising in me. I cannot. What does it matter now anyway? I’m choking. My vision is blurred by tears. Crucifixion! It has come to this! Finally I regret the way I have lived. I could have worked. I have an able body, but not for long, not now. My guilt, the regret, it’s more then I can bear. My life has been a lie, but I didn’t kill anyone. I didn’t. Did I? I have robbed the poor, taken everything they had. I have assaulted people and left them on lonely roads. But surely I do not deserve what’s coming.

I’m breaking down. Everything that has happened. It’s playing over and over in my mind. I don’t know how long I have been laying here, sobbing, but the door is opening again. I cannot face this. What choice is there?. Pull yourself together!

The jailor is shouting at me.

‘“Get out here!”

I can’t move. He’s dragging me. I have to force myself to look up. Somehow I do, only to see a long log with a beam across it near the top. “Carry it!” The jailor growls. I shake my head. Aah! A searing pain rips across my back. And again. And again. I pull myself to my feet. They lay the cross on my back and I trudge up the hill, I can hardly think. I can’t make it to the top. I am stumbling under the crushing weight of this beam. What if I just lay down and let them beat me to death? It might be quicker. No, he’s coming with the whip. I have to keep moving.
I must have reached the hilltop, because a guard kicks me down. They pin me to the wood and tie me there. Suddenly I can think clearly. It’s all real. Horrible images, that Egyptian, the look on his face.

a soldier is coming with the spike. I close my eyes and tense my body. The tip of the nail is cold. I hear the mallet strike the nailhead. I can’t even hear the scream that’s ripping from throat. My mind is overcome by the pain. That alone provides some tiny relief, but too little. Now they have hold on my feet. I can’t kick free. Their pinning them down. He has another nail.
They’re lifting me into the air. Ah. I know what’s coming. I grit my teeth hard, and only a grunt escapes me as the cross is dropped into its place.

I know I’ve been up here for a little time. I am still in horrific pain, but it is becoming all I know. The rule, not the exception. I look about me. There are two other crosses on the hill. I am on the right side, on the left, another murderer. At least I’m not the only one suffering. Who is that in the middle? If I twist my shoulder I’ll be able see. It’s the Jewish teacher. What has he done? The plaque over his head reads IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

The Pharisees and Saducees are inciting the crowd. They’re mocking him. I decide to give it a try, maybe it will take my mind off the pain. “If you are the Christ, save yourself, and us!”
He turns and looks at me. I expect hate, a returned insult, but that is not what I see. He’s looking at me like a shepherd would if he found a stray sheep, dying. Does he truly feel sorrow for me?

His teachings, I heard them, but they were nothing… No, they were something. I knew he had the words of life. I just refused to listen. Now it is to late. He won’t forgive me. I have openly mocked the son of God. I deserve what I am getting, and worse. But this man is innocent, innocent in a way that no other human being can be. I know that is was within his power to save me. Not this body, for it is not worth saving. The unspeakable terror! Now that I believe his teaching, I know that death is not the end. I dare not imagine what awaits filth like me.
He’s looking at the crowd now. He’s going to speak. “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Is he praying for me?

The other victim is taking up my insult and calling for The Christ to come down from the cross, and rescue us and him.

I cannot not bear to listen to my own foolishness repeated. I’m going to scream at him. “Do you not fear God? You are going to die with us. This man has done nothing wrong.”

He is God. He is innocent. But it does not matter. God will not hear me now! I have try. I’ll call to The Christ. “Jesus!”

He turns to look at me again.

“Lord, when you are with your father in his kingdom, remember me.” It isn’t pity in his eyes, not anymore. It has become warm, radiating love. Then he speaks, not to the crowd, but to me.

“Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”

My self pity is draining from me, like the blood that runs from my wrists and feet. I know that he speaks the truth. The son of God has told me that I will be with him. The pain is nothing now, nothing compared to what I know awaits me. I am forgiven! I want to smile. Even as I dangle here on my cross, I know that no earthly suffering is worthy of comparison of where I am going.

A woman is at the foot of Jesus’s cross. Beside her one of his disciples. He looks at them and says “Woman, behold your son!” Then to the man “Behold, your mother!” A spasm of pain wracks his body and he cries out I do not understand the words, but the tone is clear. He is utterly alone, forsaken. I feel hot tears running down my face. It is as though everything he suffers, he suffers for me. He’s gasping. He’s trying to speak again.

“I thirst.”

Someone is shouting for a sponge. They’re dipping it in something. Their putting to mouth, but he’s refusing to drink it. I would rather be ten times crucified than watch him suffer any longer. He’s looking to heaven.

“It is finished! Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” His body goes limp. I feel so relieved.

I’m feeling the earth shake beneath me and it’s getting dark. It’s never been this dark. I do not care. I’ll just close my eyes to wait for the end. I can hear a voice from the ground. It is the centurion who nailed us here.

“Truly, this man was the son of God.”

I cannot shout, but if I could I would cry out in agreement.

A soldier is coming to the centurion. He’s talking to him. The centurion is handing the soldier his mallet and motions towards our crosses. What is happening? The soldier is standing below me. He doing something with the mallet. He’s smashing it into my legs. I’m so numb, but I know they are broken.

I cannot support myself any longer. I can draw small breaths, but they are to little. Joy! Any second now…

The pain is gone. It’s all gone. Where are my bonds? The place I am in is beautiful. There are people all around me. Who is that man. Abraham! Everyone is waiting expectantly for something. I am on grassy ground. I’ll just kneel down with the others to wait. The thick clouds above us are sundered by glorious light. It is radiating from a person, like a man. It’s Jesus! But not like he was. He’s so radiant. I don’t want to look away. He’s embracing Abraham. Now he comes for me. He places his hand on my shoulder. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the rest I have prepared you.”

<<<<<>>>>>

(c) 2011 The Brothers Seim. Please do not copy this story. Please share it by referring readers this this page.

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A Short Story – Sixth Floor, 2AM | 2011 WOTR First Place Fiction.

This is the first of our growing collection of short stories to actually get posted on our journal. There will be more to come. We also have plans to start posting them on Kindle and beyond.

This is the story that took first place at the annual Write on the River short story competition.  Needless to say we were stoked, not to mention honored, by this recognition. Heck, it was first conceived in a checkout line at Safeway. (It had a long way to go at that point.) Please feel free to post your lavish praise (as well as critiques, comments, hate and whatever else) in the comments. Gavin and I read them, Honest! So much for introduction, now here’s our story…. Nathan

 

Sixth Floor, 2AM.
A short story by the Brothers Seim.

He was seventy-five and she was seventy-two. They had fallen asleep last night in the king-sized bed of their sixth floor condominium.

He woke to the smell of smoke. She to the sharp intake of his breath as he came awake.

“Something’s burning.” He said, still groggy. He rose, pulled on his robe and went into the living room. She saw him walk to the door, touch the knob and recoil. Rising from the bed she pulled on her own robe and followed him out, then went to the window and looked outside.

He walked back to the nightstand and took the towel from it. Returning to the living room, he wrapped it over the knob and cracked the door to peek out. Flames and a billow of smoke clawed into the oxygen-filled room and he snapped the door shut. Belatedly, their smoke alarm began wailing.

Through the smoke outside she saw the dark sky alight and flames spewing from the floors below. She could feel the heat through their closed window and she stepped back.
He walked to her side. She turned to look at him, hazel eyes questioning.
“We can’t get out that way. Hall’s on fire.” She could hear the hint of fear in his voice.
“I’ll check the phone” she said, walking to the kitchen and lifting the receiver. She looked at him and shook her head.

He groaned, then took a chair from the kitchen table. “Why didn’t the building alarms go off?” He wondered aloud, as he pulled the wailing alarm from it’s place on the ceiling. It fell silent as he removed the battery. Stepping down, he placed it on the table.
Walking over to her, he took her hands firm in his own. “There’s nothing we can do but wait and pray.” They wrapped their arms around each other and swayed gently back and forth as the song of sirens, fire and machines raged outside.

“They’ll probably come in time.” He whispered in her ear.

She laughed softly. “You don’t sound very convinced.”

“I can’t lie after all these years. You’d know. It could be our time.”

She ran her hand slowly down his back. “I’m not sure I care.”

He laughed gently. “I’m not either.”

She wondered how their children would cope if help came to late. She nearly said something to him, but stopped.  Their children were all grown, with children of their own. She smiled to herself. The time was long past when they were lost without their mother.

“I love you,” He whispered in her ear.

“I know. I love you, too.”

He went and took their iPod off the nightstand in the bedroom. He set it to repeat and docked it into the speaker on the end table. She felt a thrill go through her as an old-time rock and roll tune began to thump from the speakers. She knew the song before the voice of Elvis rang out. “Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising…”

More than thirty years ago, on their anniversary, she remembered the first time they had danced to this song. They had been so young.

They tossed their robes into the corner. He extended his hand and she took it. He warmed up with the basic step, then spun her quickly under one arm, let go and caught her other hand.
She had never been able to get interested in what they called “Old Fogey Dancing.” They were old, but they didn’t have to move like it. As they finished the movement, he pulled her close and she looked into his eyes. Smoke had begun to seep into the room as the flames raged outside their front door, but the heat was building from more than just the fire outside.

He began the next move and when she realized what he was doing she cocked an eyebrow at him. He nodded confidently and both his hands dropped to the level of her hips. She locked her hands behind his neck, then leapt towards him and he took her weight, swinging her past his right hip, then back and across his left. On the third swing she parted her legs as to wrap around his waist. Using the momentum from their movement, she pushed back as he lifted her upwards until she was vertical, head down, above him. He held her there for an instant, then brought her down, still in time with the music, and spun her under one arm.

The flames that had seared away their door had begun licking up the walls as smoke poured into the house. She wrapped her arms around him as Elvis sang “And your kisses lift me higher, like the sweet song of a choir…” they kissed, both feeling as in love as they had on that day. They were not so old after all.

 

As the sun started to rise, a group of firemen sat around the station kitchen, talking about the couple they had found in unconscious embrace on their living room floor. They had managed to quell the flames enough for two of them to reach the balcony and break into the living room.

“By rights, They should be dead.” Said one of the men. “That room had been full of smoke for way too long, but they were both awake when we put them in the ambulance.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” said one of the others.

“Tell me about it.” said the first. “And just before the ambulance left, Gill asked the lady how they breathed in there.”

“What did she say?” Asked another.

She smiled at him and said — she wasn’t sure they had.

<<<<<>>>>>

(c) 2011 The Brothers Seim. Please do not copy this story. Please share it by referring readers this this page.

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We won first place in the Write on the River 2011 competition.

Got an exciting phone call tonight from Susan at Write on the River. Nathan and I won first place for best fiction, at the 2011 annual WOTR writers competition. We’re both really stoked.

The story is a short piece called Sixth Floor, 2AM and it’s 949 words long. The truth is we rarely make a story this short, so the thousand word limit on the competition was a very good exercise.

I could go on, but what else is there to say. We’re excited and looking forward to going to the annual Write of the River Conference in May for some networking and great speakers. Hope to see some of you there.

We’ll be posting the full story on here soon, so stay tuned… Gav

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