Lou’s Diary – Entry 11

My heart is pumping a hundred miles an hour!  It’s been – I don’t know how long since my last entry.  Everything has been a blur since I went into the woods and returned the rubber wrist band to the body parts.  I was jumped.  A guy and girl came out of nowhere when I stepped out of the tree line.

I was so focused on the shelter I found.  I just let my guard down.  It was so stupid.  Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!  I didn’t even have time to put up a fight.  The guy charged me and knocked me flat on my back.  I could have taken him if I had seen him coming.  The girl flashed a knife in my face before I knew what was happening.

They called each other Pain and Fury.  He was Pain.  She was Fury.  It was pretty obvious they were nuts.  They tied my hands behind my back and forced me to the fire tower and practically dragged me up the stairs, screaming like idiots all the way to the top.

They trashed the cabin.  For no reason.  They just tore it apart.  They kept yelling, “Pain and Fury own this place!”  I tried to get them to calm down at first, but they stuffed a rag in my mouth and blindfolded me.  I sat in the corner and just listened to them senselessly throw things on the floor.  It was crazy.

They laughed and screamed and destroyed everything they could.  When there was nothing left to break, they finally settled down.  They talked about killing me.  Fury even pressed the cold blade of the knife against my cheek.  Pain said stabbing me was too boring.  He was tired of killing things with a knife. He wanted to kill me in a fun way.

Lucky for me he couldn’t think of a fun way.  He was too tired.  He wanted to sleep on it.  I heard them walk to the center of the room and things got really quiet.  I leaned my head against the wall and worked the blindfold loose until I could see under it.  They were asleep on top of the overturned lockers.

I twisted and jerked trying to work my hands free.  They may have been crazy, but they knew how to tie a knot. I scooted forward.  If I could stand, I just might be able to get out the door without them hearing me.  I worked to get on my knees but stopped when I heard a sound.

Bang.  The same banging from the night before.  It was coming back.

I managed to stand and tried to quietly move to the corner of the room to the right of the door.  It was the only place where I could even remotely hide The problem was I could barely see under the blindfold, and I tripped on nearly everything in my path.  Fury and Pain never even flinched.  They were dead to the world.

I pressed up against the corner just as the heavy footsteps stopped.  I heard the strange crying again.  The door slowly pushed open.  It stepped into the room, but it was still hidden by the door.  Pain and Fury slept.  Another step, I could make out a foot.  There was something off about it.  I couldn’t tell exactly what because of the stupid blindfold.

Fury stirred.  She mumbled something in her sleep.  Pain told her to shut up.  I wanted to scream, “Open your eyes you idiots!” But, I didn’t dare.  I pressed myself against the wall and tried to breathe quietly.

Finally, Fury rolled on her back and opened her eyes.  She let out a scream that was so loud I thought it would bring down the fire tower.  The thing at the door reached out, grabbed her ankle, and yanked her outside so quickly I couldn’t get a good look at it.  It was just a blur.  If I didn’t have the stupid blindfold on, maybe I could have seen it.

Pain sat up and yelled out for his fellow nutcase.  He got up and stood in front of the open door yelling her name over and over again.  He looked in my direction and got the word “What,” out of his mouth before he was ripped out the door.  I swear I could hear his bones snapping he was pulled out so violently.

I fell to my knees.  I was next.  My hands were tied behind my back.  I couldn’t see.  I could barely breathe.  The room started to spin.  The last thing I remember before passing out was falling forward.

Surprise, surpise, surprise – The Takers wins an award in 2010

Red Adept Indie Book Awards

Got home from a movie last night (The Fighter – good but hurt by all the hype), and what did I find in my Google Alerts file?  Something about The Oz Chronicles.  Much to my surprise, The Takers came in second in the fantasy category in Red Adepts Annual Indie Awards for 2010.  I believe the award goes to Kindle books.  It’s a surprise because I had no idea I was in the running.  It’s much appreciated.

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Oz Griffin is a bully, but does that make him a bad kid?

“The moral of the story” is not my favorite topic.  I think way too much is read into why a character did this, or why a plot went that way.   My experience as a writer has been that the actions of characters and the direction of plot have more to do with driving the story than they do driving a hidden agenda by the author.  In fact, the few times I have intentionally tried to sprinkle morality into my stories I have failed miserably.  It felt as if I was force feeding the reader.

That being said, given the current rash of cyber bullying and the resulting suicides, I feel like I should talk about the “hidden” message in The Oz Chronicles.  Understand, I didn’t write the story with the messages in mind.  Like any reader, I discovered them after reading the completed story.  You may have found (or will find) an entirely different interpretation and that’s perfectly acceptable.  The story is only mine in the writing.  After that, it belongs to the reader.

For those of you who haven’t read any of the books, the series is about a boy who discovers that he is responsible for the end of the world, and he is determined to bring it back.  Each book is a new adventure in his journey.  The main characters name is Oz Griffin, hence the title for the series, The Oz Chronicles.  In literary terms, Oz is the protagonist or hero.  But, he is also the villain.

How did Oz cause the end of the world?  He was a bully who picked on a boy who had Down syndrome.  The boys name is Stevie Dayton, and he eventually commits suicide. Stevie had been trained by a therapist to bring the monsters in his mind called the Takers to life and make those who teased and tortured him pay for their cruelty. But Stevie was too kind hearted to unleash the monsters, and he held them in until he died.  Once he was dead, they destroyed the world taking everyone but a few survivors.  Oz is among the survivors and not by accident.  Stevie wanted him to survive, not to make him suffer, but to save the world.  You see, despite all the cruel things Oz did to him, Stevie saw the goodness in Oz.  He saw the “magic” in him, and he wanted to help Oz find it.

Here is what I get from the story:

1. Oz is not a bad kid.  He’s a good kid who’s done bad things. The best heroes are flawed.  They are not perfect.  Part of their journey is overcoming their flaws and succeeding.  Oz must find the magic within himself in order to bring the world back.

2. Stevie possessed the greatest power of them all, the power of forgiveness.  He never lost sight of who Oz really was, and even in death, he was determined to help Oz find his path.

3. As hard as it is to understand at the time, tragedy can be a great gift.  It is an opportunity for you to discover things about yourself and your loved ones that otherwise would have remained hidden.  One should never look for tragedy, but when you’re faced with it, you should embrace it, take your responsibility in it, and take on the challenge to overcome it.

4. There are consequences in everything we do. Sometimes far greater than we ever thought possible.  In Oz’s case, his cruelty caused Stevie to take his own life.  That act caused an even larger catastrophe, the end of the world.  Those insignificant acts of bad behavior we think mean nothing, can have devastating effects.   You may not cause the end of the world, but you could alter your life in ways that will cause you untold loss and misery.

5. Tolerance is the noblest state of being.  To accept someone and be kind to them despite their differences is the only true way to honor the life you’ve been given.

I’m not naïve enough to think that all bullies are good kids who just made bad choices.  Sometimes people are just rotten, and they get a kick out of causing destruction.  I do believe, however, that most the cases of bullying today are committed by decent kids who just don’t understand what they are doing.  We, as a society, have to take some of the blame for their actions.  They see adults threatening to burn a religious book because it represents a different point of view.  They see adults spewing intolerance toward a group because of their sexual orientation.  They see adults vilify a group because they have more money.  They see adults marginalize a group because they don’t have money.   In short, they see adults not honoring the life they’ve been given.  How can we blame them for acting like most of the adults in our society?

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Book Four of the Oz Chronicles – It’s Here!

Jennifer Aniston finds a cold weather spot to enjoy The Land of The Dead, Book Four of the Oz Chronicles.

This was a bit of surprise for me.  I went to Amazon this morning and discovered that The Land of the Dead, Book Four of the Oz Chronicles is available for sale.  I had no idea it would happen that fast.  We didn’t even have time to put together a ribbon cutting or put together one of those fancy red carpet events.  Oh, well.  What are you going to do?

I did send a copy to my buddy Jen while she was hanging out in an undisclosed cold weather location.  She sent me a picture of her with the book.  She’s cool like that.  We talked about the book and Photoshop.

Book Description: In the fourth installment of the Oz Chronicles, Oz Griffin continues his efforts to restore the world he destroyed.  But, when Oz and his band of warriors are led to an abandoned Southern mansion, they encounter a serial killer and become infected with an almost uncontrollable urge to feed … on each other.  With only nine days to find the cure, Oz must travel to the Land of the Dead and follow in the serial killer’s footsteps.  Will Oz survive the journey?

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