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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ghost Garden

17 Jun 17
I wrote a short story for my daughter a few years ago. She read it yesterday and liked it. It is posted for the first time below. It's raw and uncooked, written from the heart. I'll go through it and fix and expand slightly before publishing it with my other short stories. Enjoy. 


The Ghost Garden

There once was a very odd little girl named Katie-Anne. She grew up on a small farm surrounded by animals and fields of corn and it was ever her ambition to become a farmer. But not just any kind of farmer. She wanted to grow ghosts. She wanted to cultivate them, to see them start out as wee little will O’ wisps and flourish into full-blown spirits of the dead. How she got this notion to grow ghosts is beyond comprehension, though everyone who knew her freely admitted she was an odd girl and that may be the long and the short of it.

Once she got the idea of a ghost farm in her curly-haired head she wouldn’t let it go. Her father, the best farmer in the family, pointed out to her that crops needed seeds and he had no ghost seeds to plant. He had only corn and cotton seeds. His daughter sat down on the porch and thought.

Her father smiled, hoping this was the end of her mission. But his little girl’s ingenuity knew no bounds. She soon got up off the porch and asked her father for some bones. “Bones are ghost seeds,” she said, with all the conviction a nine-year-old could muster.

Her father shook his head, but honored her request. He sent her brothers to get some bones. Her three brothers roamed the farm and countryside near, far, and wide. Two of the brothers returned empty-handed, but the brother who roamed near came back with the chicken bones from the hen that was last night’s dinner.

Katie thanked her brothers most kindly. She put the bones in a pile and joined her family as they went about getting the fields ready for planting corn. She watched as they cleared away all the weeds and made nice rows for the corn to be planted in. Everyone but Katie was tired by the end of the day. She took the bones to her father and asked him to clear a piece of land for her to plant her ghost seeds.

Her father shook his head, but honored her request. He paced out a corner of the corn field about twenty paces by twenty paces. Then he added some fencing to separate it from the rest of the corn field. One of her older brothers made a sign for her little patch, just like for the corn. It said, “Ghosts” on it, in big letters.

The next day she helped to plant the corn along with everyone else, carefully placing each seed in the right place. She couldn’t wait to plant her crop. “I’m going to plant my seeds at night!” she told her momma.

As his daughter went to plant the chicken bones, her father pointed out that the field was fertile and ready to grow living things, but assuredly not dead things. Katie-Anne could see the wisdom in his words, and so she sat on the porch with her bones and thought.

Her father smiled, hoping again that this was the end of her mission. But his little girl’s ingenuity knew no bounds. She soon got up off the porch and went to her father. “You once told me plants need love, lots of sun, and rain. My ghost seeds will need lots of hate, loads of darkness and plenty of dryness,” she said, with all the conviction a nine-year-old could muster. She asked her father for some cloth to cover her garden with.

Her father shook his head, but honored her request. The next day he sent her brothers searching for cloth and the three brothers came back dragging a large red and white circus tent. With her brothers’ help, Katie-Anne set up a piece of the circus tent over her patch. “That will keep it nice and dark,” she said. She took the bones and planted them sparsely about her garden patch. “The ghosts will need plenty of room to grow,” she told her father.

Then she went to her youngest older brother, Jacob. He was the angriest of her brothers, though of course he loved his little sister. Katie-Anne asked Jacob to visit her bone garden whenever he was angry. “I want you to yell, stomp, and hate all over my seeds. That will help them grow.”

Jacob nodded, and feeling angry and hateful, immediately went to work. He ran over to her ghost garden patch, yelled “I hate you!” over and over, and stomped and tromped all over her seeds. After a while, exhausted and empty of all hatred, he went into the house, hugged his momma and took a long nap. The rest of the family spent the day fertilizing the corn field with manure.

“Well,” Katie-Anne said to her father, “my garden is nice and dark, and my seeds have been fertilized with hatred, which is just as bad as manure, yuck! All I need now is to keep my ghost seeds dry.”

Her father nodded, certain nothing would come of this, but proud of his daughter’s ingenuity. She sat on the porch and thought. She soon got up and went to her father. “Salt always make me thirsty. I’m going to keep my garden dry with salt!”

Her father tried to talk her out of this, because he knew how bad salt was for gardens and growing things. But then he thought that in some strange way, his daughter was making sense. Salt might be good for ghost seeds. Katie took a watering can, filled it with salt and gave her little garden a good salting.

As word spread about her unusual garden, an influx of curious people came to the homestead to see what was going on. They ignored the beautiful stalks of growing corn and came to see this odd little girl and her ghost garden patch. The family charged a dollar to come and see the barren dirt patch and to hear Katie-Anne talk all about it. She told visitors how important it was to keep the seeds covered and encouraged them to yell, stomp and tromp all over her garden. There was not much to see, but still people came and had fun.

Fall came and the family harvested the ripe fields of corn. Katie kept working her garden, even though she hadn’t seen even the tiniest of ghosts yet. She did not give up hope. She kept her ghost seeds covered, kept them hated (thanks to her brother and visitors) and kept them dry.

A month later, on Halloween night, when all the spirits were out and about and all sensible folk were in before dark, Momma called out from the kitchen. “Katie-Anne! Come look! Something’s happening in your garden!”

Katie-Anne ran to the kitchen and looked out the kitchen window. Sure enough, she could see wan lights floating slowly above her garden through the kitchen window. Katie’s face was vibrant with pride and accomplishment.

She had her first crop of ghosts!


**************************

Picture for today is a scary-ish pic of, well, I will leave it up to your imagination.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small piece of Horror

13 JUN 17
I wrote the following piece in response to a prompt. Not sure if it is the beginning, middle or end of a future story. Has the feel of somewhere in the middle, though I can't imagine heroine later in the story yet!

UNTITLED
She woke and the first feeling was pain. She felt beaten and broken from top to bottom. Her toes had throbbed all night in those sky-blue Christian Louboutin candidate pumps she had worn, so she wasn’t sure if that particular suffering was new or not. She hurt inside as well. Her dress! Her gasp changed to a grimaced as a sharp pain lanced through her side. She had never had a broken rib, but she had watched a lot of football with her fiancĂ© and remembered what pain he had complained about. She was pretty sure it was the same. She cracked open an eye, crusted with blood. The other eye wouldn’t open at all, it felt swollen shut. An aroma of metal, sweat, and drying blood drowned out her Chanel No. 5. Her tongue tasted blood and several new gaps in her once beautiful smile. She cried then. From the pain and the silly little thought of all the time she had worn braces and headgear to get that smile just right.

She tried to move, but found she was tied to a chair. Her elbows and hands were lashed to the armrests, her knees and legs bound by ropes as well. It was almost a relief. If she wasn’t bound to the chair surely she would have fallen out of it onto the floor by now. She couldn’t kick if she wanted to. Her head rolled weakly to the side and with her one good eye she noticed her left pinky finger was bent out at a wide angle. The deep blue nail polish on her pinky looked oddly out of place, away from the others. That’s not good, she thought. Luckily she couldn’t feel that particular pain at the moment, though the absence worried her in a different way.

More agonies were checking in from all over her body as she found enough energy from somewhere to look around. She was in a grey concrete room, maybe a basement. There was a sputtering vent fan high in a corner, maybe blowing air in or out, she could not tell. A metal table against a far wall drifted in and out of focus as her mind continued its slow climb to full consciousness. A quick scan of the table’s surface showed her some of the instruments of her torture. Pliers, a blowtorch, a hammer, hand saw, car battery, and her left shoe, strikingly colorful amidst all the other plain, industrial gear. With her foot and ankle still in it. The expensive sole was still red, the blue sides were now red as well.

That was what finally made her scream.

A door opened somewhere behind her. She tried to swivel her head, to seek with her one open eye, but her neck pained her. A man she didn’t recognize soon stumbled into view. Short, hard to tell since she was sitting down, but not even five foot tall she thought. Sharply dressed, his faced hinted at dark thoughts no matter of good clothing could hide for long.

He came closer, invading her personal space. He reached out and ran a finger along her cheek, tracing a ragged tear and making her wince anew at the feeling. “I like damaged goods.” He looked her straight in the eye. “I’m going to love you!”

She suddenly recognized him. Memories of her torture flooded through her and washed away her sanity. Her mind tumbled back into the sweet embrace of oblivion, her last thought was of her ending.

The sudden crack of gunfire shocked her awake. The smell of gunpowder overwhelmed the other acrid odors of the deathly room. Her eyes wouldn’t open. Over the ringing in her ears, she heard several male voices. The one nearest her said, “She’s still breathing. Looks like we got here just in time Cap’n.”

Picture for today is something horror-ish, to go along with the piece.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Paranormal

09JUN17 What does Paranormal mean to you? I'm supposed to be working on a paranormal short story for an anthology due out later this year. There's too many ideas though! Help!

'Paranormal' [defined as just outside of normal, can't be explained by today's science]  makes me think of Stephen King books like Firestarter or Pet Cemetery. Great books and movies. It also brought to mind the movie Escape to Witch Mountain (yes, I'm dating myself). Remember the harmonica that helped make things move? 



And lastly, because I'm trying to write a short story, I thought of a short story gem I read long ago for some class. It was called "The Enormous Radio" and was written by John Cheever. Great little tale about the unexpected turn of events that follows the radio getting fixed.

The Enormous Radio

So I have all this wealth to draw upon, you'd think it would be easy for me to come up with an idea for a paranormal short story. It's been terrible! There's too much to choose from. I kept throwing ideas around in my head and then thought of another great paranormal story: the Twilight Episode "Little Girl Lost". Great episode. 




But what could I add to a story like these? My first idea for a story like 'Little Girl Lost' would be to throw in some sort of time travel wrinkle to it. 

I've put the story on the back burner for now. I write fantasy for the most part, but I want this piece to be on the edge of fiction and nonfiction. Just on the other side of fiction. So 'almost true' that it makes you think it could happen.

Of course, now that I think about it, there was this article I read about one street over on the east side of the country where everyone up and left without any explanation. Cars and clothes still there. I bet I could write a paranormal story explaining why everyone left. 

The Eerie Abandoned Neighborhood of Lincoln Way

What does Paranormal mean to you? 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Listing of Stories

04 JUN 17: 

I like to write. Short stories so far. Quirky, strange, magical stories mostly. Think Harlan Ellison for those who've read his stuff, or the Twilight Zone. No, not Twilight! Ugh, sparkly vampires, lol. But yeah, like Harlan Ellison. I must have read his short story collections Ellison Wonderland, Shatterday, and Deathbird Stories a hundred times. Magnificent stuff. So creative. Harlan Ellison on Amazon

Anywho, for those that are interested in reading my stuff, below is a list of what I've written so far, with a little description and a link to my Amazon author page where you can purchase them at (Yes! I'm legit. I have an author page on Amazon and everything).

As an added bonus, my wife also has stories in many of these anthologies as well. She writes murder mystery type stuff.


My author page:
Author Page - Frank Montellano


·  Monster - A warrior battles dreams, at the risk of his sanity (Protectors of the Veil, a horror anthology due to be published by Austin Macauley later this year)
·  The Killing Parts - A mourning father figures out how to cheat death, but not without consequences (Fall: Fear & Hope Anthology, available from Amazon)
·  The Legacy - A family of witches, a murder, and the return of the prodigal son (Winter: Ruin & Renewal Anthology, available from Amazon)
·  The Symbol and the Ring - A CSI encounters an ancient evil in modern-day Los Angeles (Summer: Magic & Mayhem Anthology, available from Amazon)
·  Pawn - A chef-turned-thief tries to assassinate the queen. Turns out to be easier than he planned (Spring: Dreams & Nightmares Anthology, available from Amazon)
·  The Last Horn - A man in the entertainment industry tries to get his manhood back (Incarceration Anthology, available from Amazon)
·  The Pinky Promise - Items and a message from the past hint of desperate acts in desperate times (Time Capsule Anthology, due to be published later this year by Wolfsinger Press)

I'm going to keep on writing until I have about fourteen stories to put together in a short story anthology of my own. And then I am going to add illustrations, most from me, and hopefully one or two from my wife. She's much better at drawing than I am.

Picture for today is an inspirational picture. Making this list of stories has motivated me to continue writing. It's Darth Vader riding a rail! Do what makes you happy!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Alamo Memorial Day

29 MAY 17

Nothing quite like going to the Alamo. Me and my wife took a road trip for Memorial weekend. Very emotional. Took some pictures of this and that while we were there. 


 
For those who have never been, the roof of the church, including the iconic round part at the top, was an add-on after the famous battle. Inside the church is an amazing display of flags, representing the states and countries of all the men who died at the Alamo. I did not know that so many defenders were from Ireland. I had always thought the Alamo was defended by people from Texas and other Continental states, but there were actually a large number of defenders from across the sea. Each flag had a pennant, with the number of people from that state or country that died in the battle. Walking around the inside of the church was very moving. 

 This is a cactus on the Alamo grounds. I loved the order of the buds on the top. 


On the church door is a small plaque that reads "Be silent, Friend. Here heroes died to blaze a trail for other men." This is a detail from the front of the Church.


This is a column outside the Alamo gift shop. I love the intricate craftsmanship. 


These are some flowers on the grounds outside the wall surrounding the Alamo. I don't know the name of the plant, but I like the star-like formation of the flowers. 

Some more flowers from the grounds outside the Alamo wall. I used a macro lens for most of the flower pictures. The white flowers were hard to get, but I think the petite petals came out great. 


The following pictures are details from the Alamo Hall door.  









 A beautiful scene from the grounds of the Alamo. So peaceful. We also saw huge Koi fish in a small water run behind the church. Keep an eye out for them or you might miss them.




The following are several photos of the Cenotaph. Cenotaph means empty tomb. They are built to honor fallen heroes whose bodies are not recovered. In this case, the defenders of the Alamo were burned.

At the center of this side of the Cenotaph is the following inscription: "From the fire that burned their bodies rose the eternal spirit of sublime heroic sacrifice, which gave birth to an empire state."




 

The lady with the shields is from the North side of the Cenotaph. The inscription reads: "In memory of the heroes who sacrificed their lives at the Alamo, March 6, 1836 in the defense of Texas. They chose never to surrender nor retreat, these brave hearts with flag still proudly waving perished in the flames of immortality that their high sacrifice might lead to the founding of this Texas."









We also went to the Riverwalk. I had never been there. Very dense with lots to see, including many service members from the Air Force and Army. A few pictures from there of various things. We also ate dinner at the County Line. Great BBQ.
Details from a display of Glass in a store in a hotel on the Riverwalk. The 'blue' version is a photo-manipulation, the orange and red is the original picture. 


 A scene from nearby the Riverwalk.

 A black and white photograph from along the Riverwalk. The rest of the photos here are from the path to and along the Riverwalk.



To visit the Alamo on Memorial Day weekend was a way to really connect with the spirit of Memorial Day. Not only did we remember those who have fallen in the line of duty, but we took the time and energy to visit the site where the battle took place, where lives were lost and remembered.  A friend and fellow service member posted this on Facebook: 


Here are some rules for this Memorial Day weekend:
1. Please do not wish any veteran a "Happy Memorial Day". There is nothing happy about remembering the brave men and women who died for their country.
2. All though it is technically a federal holiday, it was established a few years following the civil war to honor those who died while serving in the US military, so remember those who have died for the freedoms we take for granted.
3. If you want to promote patriotism, take your family to visit a National Memorial Cemetery or a local VA cemetery, not an amusement park.
4. Don't tell me how great any one political power is or how much you don't like or do like your Commander in Chief. Tell me about Chesty Puller, George Patton, John Basilone, Dakota Meyer, Kyle Carpenter, Mitchell Paige, Ira Hayes, Chris Kyle and other heroes too numerous to name. Attend a Bell Ceremony and shed some tears.
5. Say a prayer, then another and maybe donate not just money but some of your time to a veteran cause.
6. Remember the Fallen for all the Good they did while they were here.
7. Reach out and let a Vet know you're there for them. We are losing too many at home in "peace".
8. Have a BBQ, have a party, but at some point during that event, raise a toast to the men and women who have lost their lives protecting this country.


Last thought: I used to drive along Basilone Road on Camp Pendleton for many years before learning the history of the outstanding man behind that name. History is all around us. Take some time to learn and appreciate those who came before us and who brought us to where we are today.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Incarceration is Now Available!

20MAY17 Happy Saturday! I have wonderful news to share. The Last Horn, my latest story is now available in the Incarceration anthology from Wolfsinger Publications, for sale through Smashwords and CreateSpace! Go get it now at a discount using the following codes:

- use code: XJ86G to receive a 25% discount on Incarceration – 25% discount is only good through 5/31/17

CreateSpace here: Incarceration on sale at CreateSpace - use code: 9HW5GHYR to receive a 25% discount – 25% discount is only good through 5/31/17.

The anthology features seventeen futuristic stories about capturing and punishing people for the crimes they commit. 
Auto License Plate Detection. Check
Facial recognition? Check. 
Punitive comas? Check?
Other new tech to make bad guys pay for their crimes? Double Check.

A short preview of my story The Last Horn is below:

The rookie read out loud from his phone, “E-COP, the latest software in predictive policing, also known as computer-based crime analytics. E-COP is intended to enhance, not replace, the feet on the beat.” 
“Get it in your head now, Parkinson. No box is ever going replace a badge. Predictive policing my ass. Just means they can reduce the force and spend the money on computers and geeks instead.” He took another sip of coffee.

Picture for today is the great cover for the anthology. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

Incarceration!

The cover art for the next anthology featuring one of my stories:


Story is titled The Last Horn. This story is for all my law enforcement friends. Release is scheduled for this month. More details to follow soon.