Friday, February 28, 2014

Middle Demons: Chapter 1

It's the last day of the month and I have had a few people ask me about the sequel to Minor Demons. Since I can't really think of anything that I want to blog about today, I decided to give a preview of the next novel in the Heaven and Hell series. It's called Middle Demons and is going to be around 70,000 words again. I've written about 7,000 words so far. Here's Chapter 1 of Middle Demons as it is currently. If you haven't already, you can purchase Minor Demons here: Minor Demons


This was easily the easiest job any demon on Earth ever had. The two demons from the department of inaction and laziness could have moved on to other targets, but that would require work on their part. It was much less stressful to watch the sins and crimes that Diego committed on a daily basis. So that’s exactly what they did. They kicked back, watched, and occasionally guided Diego to kill someone who was almost as awful as he was.
Of the two demons, one was still a demon-in-training. He was working for a minor demon with hundreds of years of experience. He still thought it was odd that this department exerted almost no effort in contributing to ease Hell’s soul shortage, yet many of the demons in the department of inaction and laziness were huge. They consumed many more souls than they brought down to Hell. The minor demon easily consumed three or four times what most demons had been rationed. The demon-in-training decided once again that he should pitch something other than just sitting there and watching.
“Maybe we should get Diego’s thugs to go shoot up some rival gang.”
“Nope. That could lead to retaliation and we don’t want that. Diego is good for giving us one or two souls when he’s in the mood for it and that’s all we really need him to contribute.”
“I’m really bored, sir.”
The minor demon reached into his pocket and pulled out two soda bottles. He handed one to the demon-in-training.
“Drink up then. We’re not even going to get him to do anything serious for another few days. He’s causing enough evil by just being in management for now. You should really learn to appreciate what an easy gig this is. We just have to babysit the drug lord.”
“I don’t get it. How do we have such a high soul count coming in if we rarely ever do anything?”
“It’s called working smart, not hard. We take credit for souls that other demons have been working on. If they complain or try to fight us on it, we kill them. Demons taste good too, once you get used to the texture.”
The demon-in-training looked appalled and felt a wave of nauseousness.
“You’ve eaten other demons?”
“Of course. You will too at some point.”
The minor demon showed his trainee a ring on his right hand.
“This allows me to turn into a creature that is fueled by an intense hunger. Once I change forms, it’s easy to overpower other demons and eat them. Lots of minor demons in inaction and laziness are given this ring when they become minor demons. You’ll probably get one eventually.”
As the minor demon was explaining things, the demon-in-training thought he saw something move from the shadows.
“I think I saw something over there. I’m going to go check it out.”
“Waste of time. I’ll be right here when you don’t find anything.”
The demon-in-training made his way over to a corner of the warehouse. There was nothing there. Maybe he was right. Maybe it was time to kick back and coast in his new department. Everyone else seemed to.
He continued to think that maybe he was going a little crazy from boredom and a good drink plus some sleep would help to pass the time. Then he heard a garbled scream, as if someone was choking on something. He ran back to where he had been lounging with his trainer. When he saw that three demons had killed the minor demon he served, he hid behind a stack of wooden crates.
“Look at this vile piece of shit! There are demons starving in hell right now and he’s laying here drinking a human soul like it was a soda. Well at least that’s one giant mouth less to feed.”
“The report said Diego had two demons watching him. Where’s the other?”
The demon-in-training felt a blade press against his throat. He looked up and saw its owner, smiling down at him.
“He’s over here.”
The three demons rushed over and surrounded him but the one with a sword to his throat waved them off.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“My name is Vomit. I’m a demon-in-training in the department of inaction and laziness.”
“How long have you been working for the tub of lard over there?”
“Three days.”
The demon holding a blade to his throat withdrew his sword and put it back in its sheath.
“My name is Gangrene, one of the minor demons in the department of murder. I serve Lord Shadow, middle demon of war.”
“What does Lord Shadow have against General Asmodeus?”
“Nothing, now that Asmodeus is dead.”
Shock registered on Vomit’s face.
“Someone actually killed that massive bl…”
He cut his sentence short when he remembered that it was blasphemy to speak against his department. Gangrene grinned at him.
“Yes. Lord Shadow killed that massive blob. We’re here to take the soul of Diego for the department of murder. You see those three over there?”
Vomit nodded.
“Two of them worked for Lucian in the department of lies. The chick was in the department of lust. All three of them are demons-in-training. I killed the minor demons they were working for and now all three of them work for me. So I guess you have a choice to make. You can fight for the dead blob, Asmodeus, and die like he did or you can work for me.”
“I’ll work for you then. The department of inaction and laziness is incredibly boring anyways. I signed up to tempt humans and steal souls, not kick back and take credit for things I didn’t do. Diego’s soul is yours.”
Gangrene looked back at his three demons-in-training.
The three of them nodded and left. Within five minutes, cops and DEA agents were breaking down doors, taking down security guards, and making their way to Diego’s office. Diego grabbed his two M4 Carbines with M203 grenade launchers attached to the base of each. As he stepped out of his office, both sides fired. Diego went down, but he took down most of the force that came to put a stop to him.
Gangrene removed a small box from under his cloak and opened the latch. Several souls were already stored inside. He walked towards Diego and reached down into his chest. When his hand emerged, he held the black soul of Diego which he then added to the box.
“Check the cops and DEA agents. We’ll probably have at least a few more souls to collect here.”
Vomit went to help the others, but Gangrene put his hand up to stop him. He handed the box of souls to one of his three trainees and pulled Vomit aside.
“Do you know what the minor demon power was of that fat fucker over there?”
“Sort of. He told me that his ring of power turned him into a creature with an uncontrollable hunger. He told me that when he used it he could…”
“Eat other demons?”
“Yes. I had no idea that they did that. He told me I would have to at some point as well.”
“You still look pretty thin for a demon in inaction and laziness.”
“I didn’t just sit around and drink down souls like they did. I scouted. I tried to suggest other things we could be doing. The way they ran things felt… wrong.”
“I guess it depends. Lord Shadow doesn’t eat other demons but the rage monster that he becomes when he uses his ring does.”
“So did Lord Shadow EAT Asmodeus after he killed him?”
“Yes. He also consumed Abigor and Malphas. Retrieve the ring for me.”
Vomit approached the decaying remains of the minor demon he had served just a short time ago. The smell was terrible. A dark, oozing blood still leaked from his throat and his bowels hung loosely from an open gash in his stomach. Vomit plugged his nose and pulled the ring from his finger. He gave it to Gangrene and Gangrene put in on his hand next to several other rings while staring at the remains of the demon they had just killed.
“Join the others. I want a moment alone with the decaying, obese monster over there.”
Vomit went to join the other three demons-in-training. Gangrene continued to stare at the minor demon whose ring he had added to his collection.
“I’ll bet you didn’t expect it to end like this. You expected to grow to the size of a small planet. While I’m always up for collecting souls for Lord Shadow, there’s a reason I volunteered for this route. You see, I know you won’t remember me. Actually… you won’t remember anything anymore. I had you gutted like the pig that you are.”
“I had an older sister. She was a demon-in-training who was sent out to watch over a crack whore. The whore wasn’t going to be worth much when my sister delivered her to Hell, but it was her first mission. She told me how excited she was. I still remember hugging her before she left and telling her to be safe.”
“After a few days of working her new target, another demon showed up. A fat ass named Glutton. He looked exactly like you did several hundred pounds ago. He killed my sister, collected the soul of the crack whore when she died, and then he did something I wasn’t expecting. He ate my sister.”
“Are you wondering how I know all of this? That’s rhetorical, because you’re dead. I followed her. I wanted to make sure she was alright, but I was too afraid to stop you from killing her. I watched you eat her without summoning the courage to do anything about it. Well, better later than never. Right?”
Gangrene placed his new ring on his finger. He didn’t feel any different, but Shadow had told him that the ring worked differently for every demon that used it. As he looked himself over, the only difference he could see was in his hands. A dark greenish substance was slowly emerging from his hands like sweat. He walked up to the remains of Glutton and touched his face. Glutton immediately began to dissolve from the place where Gangrene had touched. Gangrene smiled.
“I guess the creature that your ring turns me into is a walking disease.”
To speed up the process of decay, Gangrene touched both of Glutton’s arms and legs. When the demonic bacteria had eaten its way to the remnants of Glutton’s stomach, it started to make a sizzling noise. It was like music to Gangrene’s ears. He had finally avenged his sister.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What I Don't Need To Be Happy

I've been thinking about writing this up for a while now. I'm going to try to let this post just be written out of mild annoyance but I think this needs to be said. I turn 28 in under two weeks. I don't have a wife. I don't have kids. I am happy with my life the way it is right now.

I've seen an uptrend lately in people telling me how I'm living my life incorrectly. I need to focus on getting married. That's always what it comes down to, not finding someone I'm compatible with or someone who makes my life better than it already is. Just find the first single girl you can and get married because you're getting old. Now I've thought about WHY people would be saying this to me when they must know its offensive and annoying. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Jealousy
I think there are a few ways to be jealous in my particular case. I think some people miss the freedom they had when they were single. They realize that they have a spouse at home and kids who need their attention and I'm sure that's difficult to deal with when you're exhausted after work or whatever else is going on. I think of it more along the lines of people see what I've accomplished in my life so far and they feel some weird desire to put me down. My existence as a single guy who is accomplishing things is an act of rebellion of some kind, right? I'm actually going to let my ego make a list really quick:

-I've owned a house since I was 23.
-Every car I've ever purchased has been bought with cash.
-I still have yet to pay interest on a credit card. I pay it off every month.
-I have a bachelors degree with no student loans.
-I speak two languages.
-I've traveled to four countries in Europe, four in Asia, and around most of the United States.
-I have tens of thousands of dollars put away in a 401k for when I retire. I've been saving a regular percentage of my paycheck for retirement since I was 21.
-My credit score is several hundred points higher than pretty much anyone I know other than my parents.
-I'm a self-published author who has sold over 600 books and I'm closing in on 700.
-Conservatively taking the value of the home theater equipment in my house would yield an amount over $10,000. Add another grand or two for computer and network equipment. It's all paid off. I didn't buy it on credit.
-I understand computers, home theater, and most technology better than others. When I do in-home computer jobs for people, most people I know are happy to pay around $100/hr.
-I think I'm a generally well-liked guy. I know I can be an asshole at times but I think most people are happy to have my back because they know I'll help them out if they need it.

Some people will read that list and feel an immediate desire to put me down. I warned you I was going to let my ego write the list. :-P I guess in a way I understand why people who don't know me would want to put me down for being successful in some areas of my life but what I don't understand is why my friends and family (admittedly not a ton from either category) would want to put me down.

2. The Mormon church said so
This section won't be about Mormon bashing. At least I'm going to try to make it not be about that. I grew up Mormon and while I feel that I have very little in common with most Mormons now, I still respect a few people that are members of that church. The weird cultural trait that allows Mormons to tell me that I'm deficient because I don't have a wife is pretty troubling though. I understand that the path for most Mormons after a two-year mission is to come home, immediately get married, and start having kids. I'm going to be honest and not target anyone specific with what I'm about to say. In general, I don't know a ton of Mormons who have done that and are happy with the decision. There's a reason that the Mormon divorce rate is just as high or higher than the regular rate in the U.S.

I'll take it back a step further though. I don't know a ton of people who are happily married. That includes both Mormons and non-Mormons. Maybe it's because I've been a salesman or in-home computer tech interacting with people on a daily basis for so long but I've seen so many couples that just no longer care. They'll fight with their spouse in front of guests or random people. I don't want to become like that. I can't imagine dreading being around the person I'm supposed to love more than anyone.

I would like to see the general conference talk that tells all members to make their single friends feel like they're doing something wrong. If such a talk does actually exist, I feel I have even less in common with members of the Mormon church.

What I'd like to say about all of this
I have some pretty amazing friends and family. Most of them have backed me even when I thought they would have perfectly valid reasons to walk away. There has been a growing number from among my friends and family, however, that likes to say "Randy should just get married already" or something like that. A few of them say it to my face. Most of them say it behind my back. If you are one of these people, I want you to know that it is very likely that I found out that you said it. Whoever you told probably likes me at least as much as they like you. So I know you said it. I still try to be polite to you because you're still one of my friends or part of my family. I do, however, think a little bit less of you. You are not living my life so making statements about how I should have been married years ago are based on what little of my life you've observed. It may even be based on less than that. It could even be based on nothing other than the belief that marriage and kids is the path everyone should immediately take and that if I'm not seeking that our right now, I'm a bad or evil person.

I work 1-10 pm, Monday through Friday, right now. I tried going on a few dates with a few different girls a couple months ago. It didn't work because the only time I could really do anything was on the weekends or on holidays. There are also things in my life right now that I am pursuing with more energy than finding a girlfriend or a wife.

I date. I've dated a few girls for more than a few months since I got back from the Philippines in 2007. There are some of you who may have wondered about that since I don't talk about it all that often. You know why I don't talk about it much? I've found that, with most people, it inevitably leads to an awkward conversation about when I'm going to get married. I don't want to have that same awkward conversation over and over. It has a tendency to make me annoyed and possibly even borderline angry.

I have found girls that were very fun to be around. Ultimately, it didn't work out because of schedule conflicts or differing interests. I'm still not desperate though. I'm just not. If and when I do get married, it will be because I found a girl who makes my life better. Someone who makes me happier, even though I know it will be a different kind of happy than I feel right now as a single person. If I ever find that, I will get married. Until then... I'm doing this crazy thing called living a good, happy, successful life.

So ultimately, if you can't be happy for me right now then I don't understand you. I don't think the "you should get married" thing comes from genuine concern from anyone. If you know me, you know that I'm happy and successful. Why would either of those things bother you or make you feel bad for me? All things considered, I have a lot of friends and family who are happy to remain such without me getting married so I don't really care if I lose the few who seem to have a problem with me being a single guy. If after reading this you would rather not be my friend anymore, that's fine.