drawnonwords - A Writers Tale

My own views, posts, musings, stories and the odd picture for all to enjoy and let others know.

Category: 2017 Page 1 of 3

Zen – A year on

Zen – A year on

Dear Reader

I am surprised a year has passed so quickly since I first published Zen and The Art of Timetabling. It taught me much about my success as a writer and how satisfying it felt to hold my book.

It is one of those fixed moments in time, that obviously, will never go away. Nor in this instance would I want it too. It was a tough process in some respects, going from what was a simple concept to publication but it was an enjoyable one. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I would have done some of this differently of course. The interesting part is what bits?

As I think about it now, I am unsure just what I would change. The content is fine however, as a writer I would more than likely wish to rewrite parts or add to bits. This I feel, is the one bane for all writers. We can see how to improve and always thing we should improve that one line. It is almost an addiction to perfect the words. But that would mean never finishing or publishing and then publishing again.

The cycle might never stop, hence the timetable would indeed fail. There is that word again, timetable. It is always with us. It guided me in being able to complete my book. But is it in itself open-ended? There is one way all writers eventually stop writing. So, should I like others publish edition two?

Since completing my book, I have undertaken other projects and another book (not timetabling) is heading for publication. It is completely different, as some might say, combining photography and writing two of my passions.

Yet I can never forget Zen and The Art of Timetabling, I am really proud of the fact I wrote it and what I consider the rules for all timetablers around the world. It’s a bold statement but many have agreed they are true.

So what next? Maybe there is a second edition waiting to emerge.

Mark ODonnell is the author of

Zen and The Art of Timetabling – available from all good e-book sellers

Star Trek The Doomsday Machine

Star Trek: The Doomsday Machine

A fans thoughts

It is often difficult to pick favourite episodes with the Star Trek universe, there are so many. However, I have found that certain episodes I will happily watch no matter what. The original series has a number which I enjoy, The Doomsday Machine being one.

In this is a second series episode, the Enterprise is following a series of destroyed planets when it comes into contact with her sister ship the USS Constellation. The ship has been heavily damaged by an unknown force, to the extent that it seems no-one is left aboard.

Captain Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and a damage control party beam across hoping to discover who or what is behind the attack.

They find one lone survivor, Commodore Matt Decker, deeply traumatized at the loss of his crew and it seems his ship. He tells Kirk of a planet killer, a machine that can slice planets into bits. Kirk asks about his crew, Decker emotional reveals he beamed them to the third planet of the system. That planet was destroyed.

Realising what he must do, Kirk orders McCoy to take Decker to the Enterprise, while he and the damage party ready the Constellation for tow. As they do, the planet killer reappears, and attacks the Enterprise. Damaging the ship Spock manages to stay ahead until Decker decides to take on the beasts again. Spock informs the Commodore that phasers alone will not destroy it but he insists on making the attempt. It is clear the planet killer is heading towards densely inhabited areas of the galaxy and only the Enterprise now stands in its way.

Watching the fight from the Constellation, Kirk els helpless until Scotty informs him they have power and phasers. It becomes a cat and mouse game as Kirk frees the Enterprise but himself becomes a target again. At this point, Spock manages to regain command of the Enterprise, citing Decker as being frankly mad.

Decker takes matters into his own hands by using a shuttle craft to explode inside the machine. It naturally causes little damage.  It does however cause something which Kirk gambles on, the destruction of the Constellation.

Why do I enjoy this episode?

Almost all the original series were stand-alone plots rarely did we see non Enterprise characters reappear. We did of course have the Klingon’s and the Romulus’s appear a few times, but unlike other series, there was no real story arc. The Doomsday Machine, stands out for me as a slow building dramatic ‘How can they win’ episode. It is simple in its plot, the pace is just right and the conclusion just that momentarily humorous. Watching Kirk waiting for transport as the countdown is going, while Spock is calmly stating what to do and Scotty sort of ignoring it all, is classic.

You are made to wonder about the machine itself, but not allowed time to dwell on who built it. There is no need to mention a race or why they did it. It’s just there and blindly killing planets. That was it’s function. There is speculation between Kirk and Spock but the dialogue does not slow down.

There is also the sacrifice of Decker to try to redeem himself which he fails to realise will save the day. As Kirk points out, they are stronger with him than without. A point he misses when he closes communications. Could the Enterprise have beamed Decker out? How would that have changed the story?

There are always people who will look for those little plot holes which given the nature of a television show can’t be helped. For me, in this episode, there are few to be honest. It is well written, hence I can watch it again and again.

The episode does pose some questions of the time. The Doomsday machine had clearly become rogue since it had been found to have travelled from another galaxy. The question was basically why have such devices if they could obviously go wrong. Was that something the producers were trying to say about atomic weapons of the day?

The Doomsday Machine is one of my favourite episodes, I can even quote many of the lines and love the dramatic harsh music. It is all round enjoyable to watch.

Rivers of Time

Hello Dear Reader

Rivers of Time

I decided to write a short story based on the premise that time is like a river. We all have our own river, some feed into others and grow stronger, some merely cross paths. A simple idea and one that I am sure is not unknown. What if that river is linked to time itself and we keep appearing in differing points?  Add to that some rivers keep crossing certain paths carrying our souls, joining in moments of time.

Many people do believe we have been here more than once, not able to remember our past lives. There are guides, spirits some call them, who influence our lives in many ways. Some, straight-forward, some the hand of fate we may never know why.

Hence I have written this piece, combining poems, flash fiction, and a short story, Rivers of Time.

Enjoy.

Rivers of Time

Time flows for all,

Never sleeps or stops.

Time flows like a river,

Never knowing its true course.

Time flows with a passion,

Never caring for those it touches.

Time flows as a force,

Never binding as it goes.

Time flows for all,

Never knowing fates hand.

Time flows without care,

As it wanders many paths.

 

Rivers of Time: Beginning?

It is understood by many, that time flows in one direction, always forward. Some believe we only appear once each stream forming the rivers of time. Others believe we exist as numerous streams at differing points throughout time. Appearing by chance, never remembering our past lives, loves, mistakes or heroic acts.

Some cultures worship the river of time, as it meanders. We appear randomly time and time again, occasionally seeing glimpses of our pasts in dreams or nightmares. There are those that hold we each have a soul mate. One whom we share much more than just a physical connection.

Time and Fate: companions in our journeys. Fate may alter time or so it seems. Offering different paths, a chance of happiness or the misery of despair. Chance can be hidden or we can be blind to what is there. We can never stand still despite our best efforts as time rolls onwards.

Two souls wandering, their paths crossing through time. Briefly, they touched as knight and princess bound over the centuries to meet again. Fate playing its hand, like ripples in the river, forcing the soul along an unknown path.

The destiny of each soul, woven into the rivers of time.

Rivers of Time: The Old Woman

Curiosity: they say it killed the cat. However, he was still curious. It had been twenty years since he first saw her, his life touched in ways he never imagined. Standing outside the shop, crystals and rocks catching the mid-day sun, he closed his eyes.

After all those years, the memory was still vivid. Exploring the town, he came across the shop, almost tucked out of sight. He stopped to admire the crystals and gemstones, something of a passion. As he looked into the window, he felt someone was watching. Glancing around he saw no-one. His friends would be on the beach or the other side of town. There was a familiar sound. He looked down to see a black cat in the doorway.

It mewed at him, the hypnotic call drawing him closer. Green eyes locked with his, a compelling need to move forward. The cat suddenly moved into the shop as he bent to stroke it. There was a brief moment of darkness as he followed.

“She will always do that.” He looked up to see an elderly woman. There was a sparkle in her green eyes, something that made him stare for a moment. The cat must have moved further into the shop as he could not see her.

“Forgive my curiosity, I did not mean to stare.” Her eyes were as green as the cats.

“You are looking for a gift, for your soul mate.” It was not a question but a statement.

“I was thinking of a gift, yes. But I don’t have a soul mate. Your shop caught my eye. Crystals have always held a fascination for me.” He felt a cold shiver down his back, under examination not just from the old woman. Without realising, he had stepped closer to where she was.

“The right crystal is important if you believe. They can heal your spirit, guide your journey and show you, true love.” Her voice was calming, the sales pitch inviting.

“How would I know which crystal is right for me? How do you know about my soul mate?” He was humouring her, a traveller to part with his cash.

“You have to open your mind. Believe in what you wish for rather than your cynical thoughts.” She reached out and held his right hand in hers. The move was sudden. He felt trapped unable to move.

“Your Grandfather tried to tell you before his death, the story was true.” She kept her eyes on his, unnerving him.

His mind drifted to his Grandfather, a story he told him. It was a lucky guess by her, the sales pitch was good. He kept quiet.

“You don’t believe that one can see your past or your future?” It was as if the shop did not exist for a moment. He began to remember the story he was told.

“You never truly believed what he said, how at a young age you were saved. How you were close to death. Rushed to the hospital, operated on, the real reason for the mark on your neck.” His mind was racing, this was not right. How could she know? It must still be a lucky guess. He refused to answer, to be drawn in. Something was not right. It had to be a set-up. One of his friends had put her up to this. She must have seen his neck and the small mark where he had supposedly been operated on.

“You refuse to believe, even now. Yes, I can see your mark, it could be a guess. How many know of the doctor that never lived?” A chill ran through him. He had never told his friends of the story. He had always believed his Grandfather was kidding. Even days before his death, he told the same story. He just smiled to appease, not wanting to upset him.

“He told you of your guardian angel and your beast, ones that have been with you since birth.” Her voice was mesmerising, he was trying to understand her words.

“I have never told anyone of that story. How could you know?” His mind went over the words of his Grandfather. “What or who are my guardian angel and beast?”

“They guide you, watch over you. At times, they will interfere as yours has over the years.” She seemed to look over his right shoulder.

“Your inner beast is a dragon. You understand the mythical beast don’t you.” It was becoming uncomfortable for him, he felt heat and sweat, it must be a light. This was all a trick to make him believe.

“Yes. I mean, I there is a curiosity about such beasts. What could they be like if they existed?”  He was struggling now to keep control. He had more than passing interest in dragons, he felt foolish saying to others but not her.

“Now you understand why you are drawn to the dragon. Mine is a cat, as you saw.” A smile crossed her face. “They guided you here. Now, your wish is to find your soul mate. She is waiting for you.”

He was sweating now, heart racing as his mind flashed imagines of a woman.

“I don’t know what you mean. I have not come to find you or my soul mate. I had no idea.” He felt faint.

“It is time for you to glimpse your future. Follow me.” The old woman tugged his hand and he followed.

He fought the feelings inside himself. He had thought of his future, someone to share his life but this was beyond all he knew. He was supposed to be relaxing, escaping all the pressures of life.

He lost track of time as she talked to him. Knights, dragons, spirits, worlds gone and worlds to come. Throughout she told of his soul mate. They had met before on different plains the old woman said. He found it hard to believe that he had a past life. The more she spoke the more he was drawn into this strange world. He felt drowning in a sea of riddles. His soul mate was something of a dream as she described her to him. He would know when he saw her? Raven. Her hair, the bird or name? His mind filled with images, his head fit to burst. Then it was over.

His eyes opened, the memory still fresh. He had visited every year since, always a little nervous of what the old woman might reveal. He had learned more of his past life: how he met his princess while he was a knight. He had doubts, times he thought she was just telling him what he wanted to hear. Yet he knew she was right. The years had passed without that feeling.

One summers day it happened: he saw her. Raven hair, soft smile, flowing dress as she walked towards him. A sudden glow inside him unlike any before. Somehow he managed to greet her. It took time, he was not the most patient of men. He had found his love through the river of time. The old woman said he would but it would be a troubled start. That was over six months ago. Now he needed her wisdom again and what the future held. He opened his palm to show his stone as the familiar sound greeted him. The soft meow made him smile.

“Hello, old friend.” He stepped inside.

 

Rivers of Fate

Fate is a universe of uncertainties,

Throwing unknowns into the rivers of time,

Changing paths without thought.

Fate is all-seeing, all-knowing,

It depends on nothing,

Offers paths without boundaries.

Fate is cruel, harshly uncaring,

Changing the rivers of time,

Offering paths that lead to darkness.

 

Rivers of Time: Forgiven Knight

He looked out at the sunset. Despite the heat, he was cold inside. He held the flower, a simple blue beauty, its life so short. It was her’s, one she enjoyed. A faint memory surfaced, in a sea of blue, the pure white of her dress. Her smile welcoming the knight home, helping to shed the cares around him. A single touch sparked the fire within, the two dragon stones calling to each other, bonding again.

He looked down at his stone. It was dying, lost without its twin, the spark needed yet so far away. A sigh escaped his lips, it was deep and sad beyond what he thought. Something nudged him. Scales rubbed against right hand. Looking into the eyes of his dragon, a silent bond between the pair. They both understood each other’s loss. Both felt alone now in a strange way, both still trying to reach out.

He looked again at the bright blue flower. There was her scent captured in the bud, held for as long as he could remember. There was still the faint light of hope, he knew that he had to believe it. To complete his quest, to find his one, he had to truly believe. He rose from his knee, his armour battered a little more.

He looked out at the shattered landscape and placed his right hand against the dragon. Out there they would find her, rescue her and ultimately ask her forgiveness. He placed the blue flower inside his armour, climbed on the dragons back. He heard her cry inside his heart, always watch over me.

 

River of Time: The End?

At the end of time, on the river sits a rowing boat. It waits for the knight and princess. A fixed point never to be changed by fate. The final moment for the two souls that will last a lifetime.

Time waits patiently as the river slows around it. The calm water, no longer touched by fate or chance, slowly fades to grey. Bright sparks, echoes from the past, approach the simple boat. The knight and princess, joined once more, as the boat send ripples through time.

Each ripple an act of fate guiding the souls to journeys end.

Is the end of time the beginning of the story?

Forgotten Letter from Prague

Hello Dear Reader

Over the past few years, I have found a passion in my writing. I have been very lucky to have a couple of pieces published and completed my own first book. A novel is in the works, (80,000 words to edit is not a simple task), as well as a poem and short story book. Alongside my writing, I have added photography as a passion. Combine the two and you do get the best of both worlds.

This blog I offer an old short story, one which I enjoyed writing. I hope you enjoy the emotional ride.

(With thanks to Keele Creative Writing)

The Forgotten Letter from Prague

I placed the scarf around my neck. It was an odd thing to do but felt right. The loft smelt musty and it was the one room in the house I rarely visited. There were a number of boxes around me, each holding the oddest memories: a black and white picture, a ripped t-shirt, the past.

One of the dusty boxes had fallen open. I could barely look at the contents. There before me was an old briefcase; it had two neat circular holes, numerous scuff marks, and no handle. I could just make out three faded letters: ‘L.J.K’. I reached, expecting it to snap open and rip at my hand.

I started shaking; memories were surfacing, good and bad.

As I gripped the case, dust swirled creating a mist. I took a breath, trying to remember what I had left inside this forgotten world. Opening the briefcase, there was a hint of perfume. The dim light made it difficult to see the contents. I touched something soft: a sinuous strip of silken cloth – a white scarf with traces of rusty autumnal colour dotted in the centre. I knew the stain was her blood.

I lifted the scarf to my face, closing my eyes, trying to smell what was left of her scent. There was nothing. It was lost like the rest.

I took out a large brown folder sealed with a red ribbon, the letters ‘L.J.K’ scribbled on the front. There was a handwritten note in one corner. It read, ‘Last contact unknown, runner eliminated, property lost. Forget Prague’. The handwriting was mine. Deep within the faded ink, I could see pain in the rushed, jagged edges of the writing. I held the folder for what seemed like hours. I closed my eyes and let the memories surface.

It was a late evening in London when the old man handed me the folder. He looked tired and drawn. Clearly, he knew more than he wanted to say.

I hear his voice: ‘She is gone. Don’t look inside it. Dispose of it, best if this was lost.’

Why had I kept these last vestiges of her? I opened my eyes and gazed at the sealed top.  I nervously ripped open the folder, nearly dropping it in panic.

I watched the past explode, papers and pictures scattered over the dust-covered floor. There was her face, her beautiful face, so soft, so innocent, so very long ago. The picture was black and white. I must have taken it. She was smiling her quirky smile. Her eyes smiled too, her face always told what she thought. I moved the picture to one side, and I picked up a white envelope. It was hers, I could tell, it was the goodbye letter we all had to write. With a delicate touch, I peeled the envelope open and took out her letter. The paper felt old, textured against the pads of my fingers. It was from another time…another world.

Dare I read it? What harm would it do now after all these years? My hands trembled as I held the piece of history, a relic. Why had I kept this, what earthly good would it do?

Memories continued to appear. The 60s: no internet; no flash contact; no time for regret. We were too young to understand the consequences. They never explained what really could happen. Each of us was recruited from our cosy university life. We joined to fight for our country and what we were told was right.

We were introduced to all this by our professor, someone we trusted. He saw something different in how we related to the world. He taught us part of the game. We had to make notes on our fellow students for fun. That was what the professor said it was, just fun. Then there was the turning point: I was told to eavesdrop on two visiting students. As I listened, nothing they said made sense to me. When I told the professor what I heard, he studied my face for a moment. Smiling, he said it meant everything to him.

Little did we know, he was the link between our simple world and the rough exterior of real life.

After that, he took us to see his friend, the older man who smelt of cigarettes and whiskey. He taught us more of the game. It was exciting at first, a dare to beat the oppressors, grab the prize and escape. Like a game, but not played on a board. It soon became all too real: the first one of us lost. We held a ceremony, everyone said nice words over an empty coffin. That hit home, that hurt. Now you had to win, the stakes were higher each time, the dangers just a little closer. Our gang of many became a group of few. She and I, we just got too close, too comfortable in our ways; that was our downfall.

I glanced at her picture on the floor. We knew the risks; it was our job, our fight to keep freedom alive. What was the cost? My chest tightened again. I felt trapped. The letter was dragging me back. A flash, her naked body against mine as we lay in bed. Her soft laughter, the sweet smell as she slept in my arms.

I recalled that last hour before we parted, we exchanged information, the last list of names. Then she gave me the letter. Don’t open it, wait for me, she said. She held my hands like never before like she knew it was the end.

My heart sank a little, thinking of what might have happened to her. The state police would not have been kind. We knew the sort of things they would do with the wrong person. Beatings, torture, sickening methods to make her talk. If she was in their hands it would only be a matter of time.

I waited, of course, and waited too long. The knock at the door was not a friendly one. Shouts, dog barks, the deep thud as a foot crashed through the paper thin-flimsy door. I was sweating, breathing deep, stuck for a moment and unable to move. She must have told them, they would not have stopped until they knew everything. The aggressive noise made me panic and I fled. All of my training failed me. This was not some acting class anymore. They wanted whatever I had, it was their secret and we had stolen it. Scared for my life, I never looked back. I ran for five days until I found safety back in London with the old man.

He was understanding to a point, not like his military bosses who were as brutal as the opposition. There was a time when I wondered which side I was really working for.

What felt like a few weeks later, unsure because I lost track of time, the old man came to me with both my letter and this envelope.

I was finished with them. They looked at me as a washed out, broken toy never to be used again. I asked if we had news of her, he told me to take the folder, destroy it and forget.

Forget her? Him? The others? Everything?

I was given cash, a new name, a job and was discarded onto the pile of failures. ‘Oh, what a circus we have,’ the old man said as he left. I felt cold and disconnected.

That was the past, the old man gone, the others possibly lost. Enough time had passed, I was stronger now… or so I had thought. I opened her letter, wishing to hear her voice in my head as I read.

My dearest one,

I told you not to open this. I am gone, never to return. While it remained sealed, you had hope. Our love is broken. It will hurt you more than you know.

This is the most difficult letter to write and for you to read. You understand as you have written the same. We are told it is just operational and not to be concerned. This is going to be my last memory to you: death.

We had a job to do, and we did it well my love. Never show them we were beaten. Savour the time we spent, those glorious moments locked together.

Think of when we spent those lazy afternoons, enjoying the rain beating on the windows, watching the clouds pass by. Those moments kept me strong. Make sure they keep you warm.

I feel refreshed as I write. My feelings were sometimes too private, I kept you out at the wrong moments. Don’t regret what we have done and please don’t regret anything for my sake. 

Be brave as you must.

I am rambling now, not thinking straight, but that’s what a letter is for I guess, my sweet.

I have to finish, they say its time.

Be safe. You have to forget me one day.

Yours L.J.K.

My hands dropped as the letter floated down into the dust. Every muscle screamed inside me. As I looked at the scattered papers I saw another picture; it was a disfigured face, bloodied and battered. Her’s. A tear ran down my cheek and dropped onto the picture. I had ignored the old man, I had searched for her a couple of times, always hoping she had been spared. I never knew what became of it all, until now.

I sat looking at the pictures and papers.

I could not read the rest; it would be too hard, too emotional.

I vowed to bury it all, to have closure in my life.

Later that evening, I stood over a small mound of fresh earth and silently said a prayer. I walked to the house, my heart cold, my happy life broken… again.

Flash Fiction – Alien Landscape/Forgiveness

Alien Landscape.

He fought hard against the growing tide of assaults. Inch by inch crawling over the itchy grains., each one like a mountain exhausting to climb. Another wave, battering, forcing him back what seemed like miles. There was one aim, to make it home. All he wanted was that safe place. Again he pushed almost frantic to be with those he knew.

He could only feel, no sight to speak of, just a sense of where to go. Homing in on what he desired, fighting the pain of each slow movement. Would he never reach his goal? From deep inside his spirit grew, finding inner strength to move forward. He carried everything he owned on his broad back. A single mistake, he would lose all.

The path was clearing, strength growing, his target in sight. One more push, one more almighty effort. Another assault, he held his ground waiting as it past. Breathing deep, he moved upwards towards his chosen spot. Crowded, covered by kindred spirits all searching, he inched his way through. He felt the spirits of those before as he nestled with his group. His search complete, his journey done waiting for everything to begin.

The lights shone bright, as the first note was struck. A thousand voices cried their name. Now he was home, back again.

Forgiveness.

He looked out at the sunset. Despite the heat, he was cold inside. He held the flower, a simple blue beauty its life so short. It was her’s, one she enjoyed. A faint memory surfaced, in a sea of blue, the pure white of her dress. Her smile welcoming the Knight home, helping to shed the cares around him. A single touch sparked the fire within, the two dragon stones calling to each other, bonding again.

He looked down at his stone. It was dying, lost without its twin, the spark needed yet so far away. A sigh escaped his lips, it was deep and sad beyond what he thought. Something nudged him. Scales rubbed against right hand. Looking into the eyes of his dragon, a silent bond between the pair. They both understood each other’s loss. Both felt alone now in a strange way, both trying to reach out.

He looked out at the shattered landscape and placed his right hand against the dragon. Out there they would find her, rescue her and ultimately ask her forgiveness. He placed the blue flower inside his armor, climbed on the dragons back. He heard her cry inside his heart, always watch over me.

He looked again at the bright blue flower. There was her scent captured in the bud, held for as long as he could remember. There was still the faint light of hope, he knew that he had to believe it. To complete his quest, to find his one, he had to truly believe. He rose from his knee, his armor battered a little more.

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