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The House

A short story

Pete unlocked the door and swung it wide open. The house he and his wife, Monica, had saved for was finally theirs. Tara ran past her parents and jumped on the couch.

“First one in the new house,” she said. Tara put her feet up making herself comfortable.

“Young lady, you know better than to put your feet on the couch with your shoes on.” Pete said. He and Monica sat down and took in the view from the large bay window. Tara pulled her sneakers off and dropped them on the floor. Monica looked at Tara and rolled her eyes.

“We put a shoe mat out in the kitchen. Go put your sneakers there.” She motioned towards the kitchen with her head. Tara slid off the couch and picked up her shoes.

“Lousy shoe mat,” Tara mumbled under her breath. Being seven was tough. She knew that in a few years, when she reached ten, everything would change, and she’d be old enough to make her own rules. Or so she thought. Tara tossed one sneaker at the mat. It hit the floor and bounced on to the mat. A smile crossed her face. This would be her new game. How far away could she drop her sneaker and have it bounce to the mat. She took a step back and gave the second shoe a gentle throw. That shoe hit toe first and took a bounce landing it next to the closet in the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” Monica yelled from the living room.

“Nothing. Just playing a game.”

“Play quieter.” Pete added.

Tara walked over to pick up her shoe and saw the closet door open a little. She dropped her shoe and ran into the living room.

“Mommy. Daddy. The closet opened all by itself.” She jumped on Pete’s lap and buried her head into his chest. Pete wrapped his arms around her.

“Honey, this is an old house. There’s probably a draft and it pushed the door open.” Tara looked up at her dad and kissed his cheek.

“Okay. Love you.” she said. Tara went back into the kitchen to continue her game. She went to grab her shoe and noticed that both were gone. She walked over to the mat and stepped on it a few times. Then she turned to the closet. The door was shut. She wondered if the draft could close doors too. She reached for the doorknob when her mom interrupted her.

“Tara. We’re going to order pizza. It will be about 20 minutes until dinner.”

“Alright, mommy.” Monica made her way back to the living room and Tara turned back to the closet. Her shoes were sitting on the mat. She picked up the left shoe and saw what looked like a bite mark. She threw the shoe down and ran out of the kitchen. She didn’t know what would try to eat a sneaker and she wasn’t going to stick around and find out.

* * *

Pete tucked Tara into bed. Between moving all the boxes into her room and helping her mom decorate it, Tara was exhausted. Her dad gave her a kiss on her forehead.

“What about the nightlight? Don’t forget to plug it in,” she said.

“I thought we were getting rid of that thing?”

“we could keep it for a little bit. Just for a while.”

“For a week. You stopped using it in the old house.”

“This is a new house. I’m going to need to get used to it.” Pete thought she sounded a lot older than seven. His little girl was growing up way too fast, but not so fast that she would give up her nightlight.

“Good night, sweetie.”

“Good night, daddy.” Pete walked out and closed the door, leaving it open a little. Tara pulled the covers up to her chin and wiggled herself deeper into her mattress. Tara wasn’t sure if she could get to sleep. The image of her sneaker with the bite mark kept creeping up in her mind. She rolled over on her side pulling the blankets up almost over her head and closed her eyes.

A small squeaking noise caused her to yank the covers completely over her head. She hoped that if there was something in her room, it would think she was a pile of blankets. There were more noises. It sounded like feet shuffling around. Tara peeked out from under the covers. In her room there was what looked like a little blue teddy bear. It opened the bottom drawer of her dresser and was pulling clothes out and throwing them on the floor. She pulled the blankets back over her and held her breath. She didn’t want to let it know she was there.

Without warning, the blue bear pulled the covers off Tara. She screamed and started kicking at it.

“Please stop,” it said. “I need your help.” Tara kept kicking and yelled for her parents.

“Tara,” she heard her mom yell back, “Go to sleep.”

“But there’s a monster in my room.” She grabbed the blankets and pulled them up over her as she backed into the corner. The bear looked at the closet and then back at Tara.

“There is no such thing as monsters. We talked about this,” her dad replied.

“Please.” she cried. Terror filled her voice. Pete got up and went to her room. When he opened the door, he saw the blue bear drop the clothes he was going through and run for the closet.

“What the…” he exclaimed as he ran for the closet door. He opened it and it was empty. He sat down on Tara’s bed and she wrapped her arms around him.

“You saw it?”

“I saw something,” he said, “but I don’t know what it was.” Pete picked up his daughter and took her to his room. He and Monica got dressed and the three of them left the house.

* * *

The moving van backed into the driveway early the next morning. Pete and Monica moved boxes while the movers grappled with the furniture. The neighbors across the street sat on their porch drinking coffee and watched the action.

“They didn’t last long,” the man said taking a sip from his mug.

“Nope,” his wife said. “Not even a whole 24 hours.”

“You think the bear showed up?” His wife nodded as she drank some of her coffee.

“Of course. Why else would they take off so fast?” The man took another sip and put his cup down. He broke off a piece of his muffin and tossed it towards the corner of the porch. A furry green hand reached out and grabbed it.

“Not everyone can handle this neighborhood. It takes a special kind of person.” The man got up with his coffee cup and went back into the house while the woman stayed on the porch. “You think they would have seen the signs.” The woman looked up at the street signs that were at the corner of their property, Elm and Sesame.

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Life is Hard…Read.

This might cause me to lose points with some people, but I write because the world needs to be entertained. Not scolded.

I don’t write to explore the human condition or to point out all the atrocities being caused by large, faceless corporations and/or governments. I’m not trying to start a revolution or cause people to see the world in a new way. It’s not my intent to inject social justice or certain political beliefs into a story.

I write so people can find an oasis from those things. When I read or watch a movie, I don’t want to be preached at or told I’m some kind of monster because I like or do certain things. I’m looking for an escape, if only for a little while. That’s what I hope my writing does. I want to create worlds where people can go when they want to get away from the horrors of everyday life.

There’s nothing wrong with writing for social change or to spotlight things that are wrong in the world. It’s my opinion that a lot of writers take themselves way too seriously. They push an agenda and try to wrap it in the skin of sci-fi or fantasy.

Maybe I’m the minority in this, but I’ve never picked up a book in the hopes it will change the way I see world. I just want to read a good story and have some fun doing it.

And I don’t care who or what the main character is. I don’t need to “see myself” in them to enjoy the story. If it’s a good, well written book I’ll read it.

There’s enough gloom and doom being pumped out through newspapers and cable news. As writers, it should be our job to rescue the masses from that and offer a place of rest for the weary.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but it just that. An option. If you agree, great. If you disagree, that’s great too. What I write won’t be for everyone and I’m okay with that.

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Saturday Thoughts

A small sample from my collection.

Comic books have been at the center of who I am since I was a child. My earliest memory was seeing Spider-Man on a show called The Electric Company on PBS. There was a book sale at my elementary school. I found that they were selling Spider-Man comics. They weren’t his regular adventures. These comics were with the characters form the show he was in. They were made to get kids to learn and have fun doing it. Needless to say, I got my parents to buy me one and I’ve been hooked on the ever since.

In high school, me and some friends made our own comics and passed them around. There were two ‘competing’ groups, and we would write our comments on the back page. I still have a few safely hidden away. My art is terrible but I had some good ideas(in my opinion).

I always held out hope that someday I would work for a comic book company. Having finished my first book I guess I’ll be working for me. I have a lot of ideas for other books but if you’re reading this you have probably gone through what I’m currently working on. Editing.

It is monopolizing my time leaving me very little time for anything else. On breaks at work I’ve been able to write down some thoughts about the next story I want to tell. I have a folder full of scrap paper with notes about characters, plots and back stories. Hopefully when the time comes I can decipher my notes and pull a proper outline together. I’m sure I will. My next idea is something very personal to me and I want to make sure it turns out well.

In the future, I’d like to add some comic book reviews to this blog. I’d also like to sit down with some indie comic book creators in my area and interview them. I’ve always been interested in seeing what makes other creators tick.


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In the Beginning

Why I started writing

I never planed to become a writer. As a kid growing up I was a huge comic book fan. I dreamed of waking one morning and finding out I had super powers. That never happened (obviously) and I settled into a normal kid routine. As I got older I matured and put away childish things. But not everything.

As a young adult with a good paying job, and not too many responsibilities, I could dedicate a good portion of my money to my first love. Comic books. I was a regular at my local comic shop for years. I’d walk in every Friday evening and my comics would be ready for me. I’d walk around the shop and look at all the new titles that came in that week. I was always looking for something new and exciting. But unfortunately the further away from childhood we get the more money it takes so I had to slow down and eventually stop buying them altogether.

While I was in my comics heyday I had an idea for a comic book that would spawn others. I shared my thoughts with a friend of mine that worked at the store. After I was done he told me that it sounded like a great idea. I continued to flesh it out in my head over the next few months and even wrote a small synopsis. That’s as far as I got with it.

Fast forward almost twenty years. I’m married. I have a daughter. I have a job that’s not too bad. And I was developing a crippling case of anxiety and depression. It was so bad that at it’s height I almost committed suicide. Thankfully I pulled myself out of that but my depression was still quite severe. I researched everything I could do to help me get out of my situation. I looked at changing my diet, trying oils and exercising. Nothing worked.

In that time I saw there was going to be a small comic book convention near me. I needed a quick escape from my problems and that sounded like the thing to do. I took my family and we milled around the con, it was held in a small community building, and I talked to some of the artist and writers there. One in particular I struck up a very meaningful conversation with it would change the course of my life.

His name is Rusty Gilligan. I told him about my idea and he said instead of making a comic book out of it, try making it into a pulp magazine. Every few months put out a few chapters with some simple black and white drawings. I went home with a new outlook on my story but I was still a few months from actually Taking shape. Shortly after I avoided oblivion, I found an article that said writing was a good way to combat depression. With nothing else to lose I sat down at my kitchen table with my lap top and started typing my story.

I flip flopped from making it a pulp to a novel and back again. I even put together a few mock ups of my first chapter as a kind of pulp to see what it would look like. While It didn’t look too bad I was still going to need an artist to help with the illustrations and I didn’t have the money to hire an artist. I put out posts on social media to see if any would be interested in helping me get things off the ground cheaply but I got no serious takers.

I kept at writing. I was finding that it was a good outlet for my anxiety and depression. Even if there were no pictures I could still tel my story. My wife finally convinced me to go the book route. It’s the best decision I’ve made. Writing has been very cathartic and I’m happy to announce that, as of this post, I haven’t had an anxiety attack or bad thought in almost a year.

I don’t write as often as I’d like to. With a full time job and a daughter to take care of I write in the evening after I put my daughter to bed and until my wife comes home from work. About 2 hours. Weekends are the time I try to be most productive but I still find myself writing at night.

I love my book. I’m not delusional enough to think of myself as the next big thing. I want to finish my story so I can share it with other people and introduce them to the characters that have been living in my head for years.    

The Flight

The cockpit filled with smoke as Captain Ray Braxton scrambled to put out the fire. For everyone he extinguished, another came to life. He glanced at the viewscreen hoping to see where his runaway ship was going, but it showed only a pattern of black and white lines before it exploded. The captain shielded his face as shrapnel blew out across the command area. Glass and metal shards cut across his arm and embedded in his chest. The pain was something he would have to deal with later, provided there was a later. The ship rocked with another explosion. He turned to the rear of the cockpit and, through the window of the emergency door, saw part of the ship missing. The cabin went dark with the fires offering the only light.

Braxton ran to the control panel. He flipped switches and pushed buttons in a futile attempt to get what was left of his ship under control. Frustrated, he slammed his fists against the panel. Lights and gauges came to life. A smile crossed his weathered face. There was hope after all. He made his way back to his chair and strapped in.

 A pad on the arm of the chair gave him control of the helm. He tapped in a series of numbers and whispered a prayer. There was no telling where he was or if the helm would respond. He dug his fingers into the armrests and closed his eyes. Whatever was about to happen, it would be the beginning of a brand-new adventure.

Branching Out

I’ve started a new writing project on Wattpad. I’ll be adding chapters every few weeks. while I’m working on editing my book (waiting on beta readers) and plotting the next one in the series, I thought I’d experiment with different ideas and writing styles.

I posted the short story, The House, to an online writing competition. I won 1st place. I put it on Wattpad and I decided to put more on there. Here’s the blurb for my new story Hell-Bent.

Henry Quaid and his family are in danger. His son has taken a picture of something no one has ever seen and ranger Scott Pope wants to keep it that way. Now, the Quaid’s are on the run from an alien possessed park ranger who is hell-bent on destroying the photo. And the Quaid family.

https://www.wattpad.com/story/220453236

I hope you’ll check it out. I’ll post updates when new chapters are added.

Another Origin Story

Issue #2 of Origin Stories is up and it’s incredible. We talk to artist Jason Seaux of the Necro-Man series. Check it out. Let’s continue to support our local artists and writers.

https://stephenhudlerauthor.home.blog/issue-2/

My New Page

Every hero has one thing in common. An origin story. Whether they were born with their powers, got them by accident or sought them out. Each one had a humble beginning before becoming great. Creatives also have origin stories. In this series I’ll sit down with writers and artists and find out what started them down this path. Part commentary, part instructional. I’ll pull back the curtain and show you their thought process and see what tips and tricks they have for anyone who would like to follow in their footsteps.

I love watching the commentaries on DVDs. Listening to the directors and actors discuss why they made the decisions they did fascinate me. That got me thinking. It would be great if books and comics had a commentary track. Finding out why the author wrote a certain paragraph or the reasoning behind the way an artist drew a page the way they did. This is that commentary. This is where we’ll find out why they made those choices and what influenced their style.

Check it out and give these creators some support.

Inspiration

Inspiration. It’s that intangible thing that hits everyone from time to time. Most of us recognize it but don’t do anything with it. Some jump at it and start using it but they end up fizzling out just as quick. Then there are those who grab hold of it with both hands and wrestle it to the ground. They use that inspiration to do amazing things.

I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t think anyone knows. As a matter of fact,  I’m not sure I would want to know .When it hits me, it’s like clouds parting and the suns bright, magnificent light shines down revealing what was hidden.

 There may be some science-y types out there that will be more than happy to bore us with an explanation that can’t be proven. No thanks. Keep it to yourself.

Before I wrote one word of my novel, I knew exactly how it would end. And it was inspired by a song. The first time I heard it, inspiration hit. I could see my hero and the villain locked in combat. A fight so epic it stayed with me for almost 20 years. Every time I listened to the song I was transported to that scene. It played out like a movie in my head with the song as it’s soundtrack.

You may be asking yourself, “What is this song that sparked Stephen’s imagination?” Well I’ll tell you. It’s The Call of Ktulu from Metallica’s S&M album. The mix of metal and orchestral music is awesome. When I finally got to that scene in my book I played it on a loop until I was done. My adrenaline kicked in as the music and my words swirled together. My fingers danced across the keyboard so fast they were a blur. When I was done I stopped the music, sat back and looked at what I wrote. It was everything I thought about for all those years, finally on the page.  

So I still don’t know where Inspiration comes from. I’ll let the philosophers and scientists fight over that. As long as it keeps shining down on me I’ll be happy. What sparks your inspiration? Do you have a muse? I’d like to hear from you.

Looking Ahead

The holidays are behind us and a brand new year is ahead of us. How are you going to tackle 2020? I’m still working on figuring that out.

I’m 90% done with the first draft of my book. Time has gotten away from me. Between the holidays, work and family obligations finding time to write is tough. I squeeze it in where I can. On New Year’s Eve I spent the evening at a friends house. While everyone was shooting pool and talking, I was writing my next chapter on my phone.

This is also my birthday month. I’ve never had a good experience with it. Every time I try to plan something fun, no one shows up. One year no one remembered it and I went out a day or two later and bought my own cake.

Sorry if I sound like I’m complaining. I don’t know if it’s the post holiday blues or the fact that we still have a few months of cold and snowy weather before spring that’s pulling me down.

What I need to do, and will do after I’m done writing this, is get myself refocused on my WIP and finish it. I’m aiming to have things done and polished by September or October. We’ll see how that works. I’ll give more updates as I go.

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year.

A Welcome Diversion

This weekend I took a break from writing to work on another project. Something I haven’t done in a while that needed my attention. Organizing my comic book collection.

Comic books sparked my imagination and set me on my path of writing. While I started writing later than most the seeds were planted way back in my seven year old brain. Sorting through my comics is a kind of relaxing meditation.

First I work on putting everything in alphabetical order then in numerical order. It’s very satisfying seeing my collection neatly cataloged.

Many people collect comics in the hopes of turning them around for a profit. The majority of my collection is from the 90’s. The comic book industry flooded the market with gimmicky or variant covers so people would buy multiple copies. I was one of the suckers who fell for it. I still loved the stories being told but there are still so many of them out there it’ll be 100 years until they might be worth something.

I do have a few jems in my possession. I have an Uncanny X-Men comic from 1990 my friend bought me. And a Batman Adventures with the first appearance of Harley Quinn. The true value of my comics is sentimental. I can pick up almost any of them and remember what I was doing back then. Those memories are priceless.

I’m going to have a lot of free time over the next few holiday weeks to work on my writing, but this was a nice diversion. One that helps me reconnect with my past and the inspiration for my WIP.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and a restful holiday.

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