Monday, May 19, 2014


Sun and Mountain may have been the first story I wrote with publication in mind, but Otto was my first story to actually see any kind of publication.
It was published in a local short story magazine and won first place in it's category. It may not be a masterpiece, but it's a fun little story that I'm quite proud of, if I do say so myself. And I hope you will like it as much as my friends and I do.

By William Bowles
It was another gray day in Industry City, and as always, the morning found Otto pushing his old steel-mesh supply cart from house to house.
Despite the distances he had to walk each day, he rather enjoyed his job. It was not what you'd call a dream job. Or a nice job. Or even a respectable job. But it was a job. A real, legitimate, occupation. Most others like him would never achieve anything in life, working as servants or manual laborers: slaves in all but name.
When he reached the next house on his route, he approached the front door and pulled the cart up just behind him and to one side. He knocked three times on the door and waited patiently for a reply. It wasn't long before the door opened to reveal a curly-haired, middle aged woman. She looked at Otto with a slightly puzzled expression, but listened nonetheless.
“Evvvning ma’am.” Otto greeted in a friendly tone.
“Good evening....” she said, unsure of how to respond.
“My nammmme is Otto. Are you havinggg agoodday?”
“Yes, I am. Thank you for asking. What can I do for you?”
“It’s nnnot what youcando for me,” Otto said, “it’s what I can do for yooou.”
“Oh?” She looked behind him and saw the cart. “Are you selling something?” It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out his agenda at this point. He gave his regular sales pitch, displaying various trinkets, devices, tools, and parts. It was all mechanical goods. People in Industry City would basically buy three things from mobile venders: mechanical goods, edible goods, and subscriptions to magazines that would never show up.
Although she found nothing she needed, she gave him a tip. According to another of Otto's philosophies, these small donations were, in a way, better than sales. For one, they are given out of good will rather than for personal gain, which cheered up the young salesman on hard days. Secondly, they did not deplete inventory.
Meeting a friendly person always improved Otto’s mood, and gave him the courage to keep going on through rough times. Some days he needed all the support he could get.
When Otto knocked on the next door, the resident seemed to stall as long as he could, no doubt waiting to see if the visitor would leave of his own accord. Finally, however, the door opened. The man was large, unshaven, and not happy at all to see Otto.
“Gooood eveningsir!” Otto said. “Howareyou?”
Otto could already tell the man was uninterested, but he had to ask regardless.
“Nope. Sorry. I don’t buy from robots.” The man said plainly, his apology being nothing more than an empty word, most likely spoken unaware.
“But sir, if you’d jussst...” Otto said in as friendly a voice as he could muster.
“I don’t buy from robots.” The resident said, with finality, and closed the door. It wasn’t even slammed, just closed, as if a full slam was more effort than the mechanical vendor was worth.
Otto was left standing at the door step, dejected and embarassed. This sort of treatment, though unfair, was not uncommon.
Despite his hardships, a robot’s lot was not as bad in those days as it had been in years past. He in particular was better off than most of his kind. Even so, rejection hurt him as much as it would a man of flesh and blood.
The fact that sales had been down didn’t help matters. His inventory was beginning to run low and he hadn’t received any supplies in a long time.

As sales continued to escape him, even he--usually so perky--was beginning to lose confidence. But a ray of light came to him at that time, personified by a familiar face.
Lewis was a distance down the road, and walked quickly towards Otto, waving to catch his attention. He too was a salesman; one of the few that had managed to escape the factory work of common machines. The encounter brought Otto some confidence.
“Hey there, Otto!” Lewis said cheerfully as he approached. He was a V twenty-four: Mk2, a newer model of android than Otto, a V twenty-three. The two were of very similar outward appearance, but the improved twenty-four had an upgraded voice card that was more durable than Otto's, which was already damaged.
“Hello Lllllewisss.” Otto said, his mood already beginning to lighten.
“Are you alright Otto? Something seems to be troubling you.” Lewis inquired. “Have sales been down?”
“Twentyyyyy percentanddropping.”
“Aren’t you due for a re-supply?”
“Prrrobably not.” And then, for optimism sake added “Maybe withinthemonth...”
“My sales are up 12.66 percent this month. Maybe you just need a break. I know you work all day.”
“I’m ok-k-k--- ay.” Otto insisted. His argument was unconvincing.
“You really don’t sound too good.” Lewis said to him. “You remember Bart, right?”
“He raaaan like clockwork.”
“Yes.” Lewis agreed. “And no one has heard from him in months. No doubt he wore himself out and short circuited.”
“You don’t, don’t, donnnnn’tknowthat.”
“Listen to you, Otto. You’re about to blow that old voice card of yours yourself. Let’s take some time off. It’ll do you some good.”
Otto agreed to take a break. To Lewis he seemed reluctant, but in fact he welcomed the change from routine. But Otto was a hard worker, and he only allowed himself rests when necessary. Within the hour, he was back to work.

The next day (as gray as usual), as Otto pushed his old cart along, he came across a house that seemed to be illuminated less by lamps or light fixtures than by sparks. He could hear the buzz of power tools inside as he knocked on the door, and waited for the resident to answer. After a second, the sparks stopped and the lights came back on.
The young man who answered was wearing heavy-duty machining gloves and a welding mask, which he raised after opening the door. When he saw Otto, a smile appeared on his oil-smudged face.
“Hey buddy! What’s going on?” He said, clearly a robot enthusiast. When he saw the cart, he added “You selling stuff?”
Otto nodded.
“Well, let’s see whacha got.” To him, the idea of buying mechanical parts from a robot seemed a novel idea.
The machinist stepped out of his house, approached the cart, and scanned Otto’s inventory with child-like enthusiasm. It wasn’t long before he found something that really caught his eye. He pointed to the parts and shouted out to Otto, an excited grin on his face.
“Are these parts to a V twenty-four?”
“Mk2.” Otto specified.
“Wow!” He exclaimed, picking up an arm here, a battery there. “You got like, the whole guy in here!”
“I have parts for the entire model.” Otto confirmed. “Except for the voice card, I’m afraid.”



The idea behind this story was to start out giving the readers the least information possible, and then allow them to find out more a little bit at a time. First, Otto's just walking along with a cart full of supplies. Then you learn more and more about him as the story progresses. I hope I was able to do so as well as I would have liked.

In contrast to Sun and Mountain, there isn't any specific lesson here. At least, not that I'm aware of. And certainly not one that was a driving focus or motivating factor in it.
If you think there is, then by all means, enlighten me.

As mentioned before, Otto is part of my short story bundle "An Introduction of Sorts", which is available on Kindle and Kindle apps. It's only a dollar, and because of Kindle's hosting fees, I don't get much at all per sale, but it is nice to be able to see how many people cared enough to purchase it.

Again, I hope you enjoyed this story, and I look forward to posting further pieces here in the future.

Until next time!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sun and Mountain

This is the first story I ever wrote with real intent to publish; the first I wrote with any idea that fiction could be a thing that I did. Considering that, I figure it would be a good first story to post here.
It's a little different than my usual style, but I like it. It has a lot of sentimental value to me, and a special place in my heart.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sun and Mountain

One cold winter afternoon, while Sun was high above, Mountain marveled at Sun's warmth.
"Even on this frozen winter day," Mountain said to Sun "you can still keep us all from freezing!"
"This is nothing!" Sun said. "I can create more warmth than this!"
"Really?" asked Mountain. "Show me!"
So Sun began to glow a bright red, and sent forth a thousand balls of fire in all directions; each one exploding in a shower of sparks, warming the earth as if it were a hot summer day.
"Amazing!" Mountain exclaimed.
"It is very hard to control so much fire." Sun replied.
"You are very good at it." Mountain said in admiration.
"Thank you." Said the Sun. "It is what I've done since the dawn of time."
"I wish I had fire..." Mountain said, half to himself.
"You cannot control the fire." Sun said. "Fire is strong and fierce and dangerous."
"What if I had just a little?" Mountain suggested.
"There is never a little fire." Sun replied. "You are not strong enough to control the fire."
Disappointed, Mountain said good-bye to Sun. Sun said good-bye, and went about his way.
But Mountain couldn't let it go. He was envious of Sun's fire, and wanted some for himself. But since he could have none, he was crestfallen.
That's when Shadow came to him.
Now, you must understand that Shadow is the trickiest of all Nature’s children. He is mischievous and cleaver.
"What’s the matter, Mountain?" Shadow asked.
"I wish I could have fire like Sun." Mountain said in a sad tone.
"He won’t let you?" Shadow asked.
"No." Mountain answered "He said I’m too weak."
"You’re not weak." Shadow said encouragingly "You’re one of Nature's strongest children. Even Wind, who moves all others, cannot move you."
"You think so?" Asked Mountain.
"Sure! In fact, I will get you the fire you seek."
"Really?" Mountain asked in disbelief.
"If you can help me." Shadow said. "I help you, you help me. That sounds fair, right?"
"Yes, yes!" Mountain exclaimed.
And shadow left to get the fire. But Sky over heard this. Since Sky is everywhere, he sees everything. And whenever he sees trouble, he always reports to Sun, who cannot be everywhere at once.
"Are you sure about this?" Sun asked Sky.
"Positive." Sky answered with certainty.
"Then you must keep an eye on Shadow." Sun said. "And if he starts causing trouble, you must stop him."
"But I cannot do anything." Sky said to Sun.
Sun though about this: it did pose a serious problem. Sun can stop Shadow, but can only be in one place at a time, and even then, he is too far away to catch him quickly. Sky is everywhere, and is close enough to the earth to act quickly, but cannot do anything to stop him. Sun thought about this for a minute.
"I know!" Sun exclaimed. "I will give you fire with which you can stop Shadow. Shadow dislikes anything bright."
So sun took a piece of fire, and split it into a thousand pieces and sent them across the heavens, so Sky would be able to use fire no matter where or when Shadow appeared.
But Shadow is also everywhere, and he over heard this discussion. He decided to use this to his advantage. Some time later, when Sun was away, Shadow came out to play some tricks.
"Stop causing trouble!" Sky said to Shadow.
"I’m not hurting anyone." Shadow said defensively.
"Sun told me to stop you if you caused any more problems." Sky said sternly.
"What are you going to do about it, Sky?" Shadow asked. "You can’t do anything."
"I can stop you now!" Sky said, getting fed up with Shadow’s petty games.
So Sky took fire from one of the fragments Sun had given him, and threw it down to the ground with a mighty shout. He threw it so hard and fast it became like a jagged beam of light. So great was Sky's fire that it shocked and scared Shadow. It was stronger than either of them had imagined. But Shadow’s plan had worked, nonetheless. He picked up a branch that had been hit by the fire, and now burned on one end.
Shadow went with haste to Mountain with the fire.
"Here, Mountain!" Shadow said.
"You really got the fire!?" Mountain exclaimed, not thinking Shadow would actually succeed.
"You can have it," Shadow said "But you have to help me."
"Anything!" Mountain blurted out in desperation.
"You must let me hide within you when ever I need." Shadow said quickly, knowing Sun would come soon.
"Yes, of course." Mountain agreed. He opened his mouth to let Shadow in. So Shadow went into Mountain’s mouth and put the fire in his throat. Just then, Sun came.
"Mountain!" Sun shouted.
"I am here!" Mountain said in excitement.
"Is it true?" Sun asked, fearing the worst. "Have you taken the fire?"
"Yes!" Mountain said, barely able to contain himsef. "Watch what I can do!"
Mountain looked to the heavens, opened his mouth, and sent forth a great flame that shot up, and rained down upon the earth around him. But the fire was hot, and Mountain yelled out in pain.
"That hurt!" He shouted. "My mouth is burning! My throat is burning! My stomach is burning!"
Sun sighed in disappointment. "That is because the fire is too strong for you. It is fierce and chaotic. You thought it was small, but it grew very fast."
"I want to get rid of it!" Mountain cried out "Help me! Take it back!"
"I cannot take the fire back, Mountain." Sun said. "It is your burden now. You must always hold it inside of you, so it doesn’t burn up the whole world. This is why I always keep the fire far away from the earth."

So, this is why Sky has stars, to throw fire down at Shadow when he causes mischief. This is why Shadow always hides from Sun, coming out in the open only when Sun is away, and hiding when he is near. He also hides in Mountain’s cavernous mouth, since Sun can never find him there. And this is why Mountain has fire inside of him. And since he isn’t strong enough to hold it, it often escapes from him.
If Mountain had just let Sun take care of the fire instead of being taken over by jealousy, he wouldn’t have the painful burden that he has brought upon himself to this day.


To this day, I am not sure how I came up with this story. It sort of wrote itself; each element of the tale inviting the next scene unbidden. 
It was inspired, in part, by old Native American folk tales, where in aspects of nature were the characters in place of the humans that had not yet come to be.
What's odd is that I have tried numerous times to write more fables like this one, yet it never worked. I could not, as they say, make lightning strike twice. It is as if this story of Mountain and the rest of nature's children could come about only by spontaneous inspiration, and never by force. It certainly wasn't for a lack of ideas-- those I had plenty of. Perhaps it will happen again some day. Perhaps it won't. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
And if I never get the inspiration for a second, well, at least I will have written this one.

Sun and Mountain is available on Kindle and related apps, bundled along with two other stories, Maintenance and Humakora in a collection called "An Introduction of Sorts"-- so called because it was essentially my introduction to the world.

Anyways, I hoped you liked it. I will post more of my stories here, along with excerpts, prompts, exercises, as well as whatever writing related topics I feel like talking about.

...I need to come up with a good sign-off.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Introduction of Sorts

Welcome to my new blog. Make yourselves at home.

Here, I will post short stories, excerpts, and more. Some of which I have already published (usually either self published, or in a local magazine), others are being seen by the public for the first time.

I am hoping to reach new audiences through this blog. I tend to write in a wide variety of genres, mainly fantasy and science fiction, but I've dabbled in a variety of other genres and settings.
Maybe it's a better idea financially to pick one thing and go with it all the way, but I write what I enjoy, and I want to reach as many different people as I can, not just one group.

But enough of my rantings-- there will be a story here tomorrow, which I will talk about then.

Until then, take care!