Category Archives: Original Writing

Excerpt – Everything Is Wonderful Now

‘Everything Is Wonderful Now’ is the last book I completed and had edited. It means a lot to me because it’s based on my childhood going into my current life, and is unapologetically honest about various kinds of abuse, mental illnesses, and one of the more unfortunate experiences of coming out as transgender. It’s the book I am currently hoping to get published, and I can’t stop trying no matter how discouraged I get until it happens in some way. This book is too close to my heart to give up on it, and it’s the story I’ve always wanted to tell.

Here is another excerpt from it — the entirety of chapter two. I posted another shorter preview on this blog a while back. I made a playlist for it to help inspire me, and you can find that here as well.

“I don’t want to be here anymore.”

The young girl stared at the ground, long blond hair falling in her face. She couldn’t look at her mother, but she didn’t know why. Her dad always said she should try harder to overcome what was bothering her inside, but she couldn’t conquer something she knew nothing about. She wasn’t sick. Her mom, Cathleen, made absolutely sure her doctor told her that even if he seemed concerned when he did.

“What do you mean, sweetie?” Cathleen finally focused on her daughter. She’d been engrossed in Jerry Springer — a rare chance since her husband was on the road for another few weeks at least.

The young girl shrugged and bit her lip, sighing. “I don’t know. I just don’t want to be here.” She glanced at her mom to see she was giving her ‘that’ look. The look she hated more than anything because it put her on the spot, and her cheeks burned hot with shame.

Cathleen smiled affectionately and patted the green sofa beside her. “Come here. You want to watch a movie? Princess Goblin? That’s your favorite, isn’t it?”

Sera fell onto the couch and stared at the floor. She didn’t want to watch cartoons or go through the usual routine. It was the best way her mom knew to distract her from panic attacks, but tonight Sera was calm. The serenity she’d found frightened her in some ways, but she couldn’t piece together an explanation that would make sense. All she knew was that she wanted to go to sleep and not wake up.

Sera mumbled as her mom brushed some of her hair aside, “The Princess and the Goblin.”

“Alright. Sit still.” Cathleen stood to open the VHS cabinet while Sera stared listlessly across the room. Their dog, Bear, a Chow, came shuffling in with her purple tongue hanging out, her perky ears and soft fluff bringing Sera a sign of comfort. Bear stole Cathleen’s spot and the young girl laid her head against a sandy-colored warmth. The familiar sound of the VCR accepting the tape resounded in the quiet room, save for the clock that struck midnight.

“Hey, mom?” Sera slid off the sofa as her mom returned with a bowl of macaroni and cheese.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?”

“Can I just go to bed?”

Concern washed over Cathleen’s features. “You don’t want to watch your favorite movie?”

Sera shook her head and made her way toward the dark hallway. Memories resurfaced of the last time she’d sleepwalked down it. Dream visions of a beautiful field of flowers beneath a blue sky had comforted her before she regained consciousness. Her hands were outstretched to touch the slatted white doors of the hall closet, and she fell to the floor. Out cold.

The girl shivered as a familiar panic threatened to shake her. She didn’t like uncomfortable memories because they only brought the possibility of it happening again, which wasn’t an option. She hurried the rest of the way to her small bedroom and closed the door behind her. She waited to see if her mom had followed, but it seemed she was finally alone. Which was the way it needed to be.

A large double speaker tape deck powered to life. Sera carefully selected one of her favorite cassette tapes — ‘Beautiful Garbage’ by Garbage — and dropped onto her metal frame twin bed. She closed her eyes and waited for the woeful tones of Shirley Manson to lull her to sleep, but no such sleep came. The day had worn her down so much that she was too tired to sleep. Silly.

A slight breeze rustled her collection of Spice Girls dolls. Sera sat up from where she’d been contemplating the best way to stop seeing anything at all, and she noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe the wall shelves had come loose.

Another cold breeze. It was obvious that time.

The girl dived under her comforter and pulled it up to her nose. If she was certain of anything right then, it was that monsters did not dare to harm someone beneath the safety of their blanket. The closet door she made certain to always close creaked before a feeling of being watched alarmed her. Sera swallowed hard when the distinct sensation of a hand brushing over the comforter triggered trembling. Her blanket was yanked to the bottom of the bed and she was vulnerable. Left out for the monsters to consume.

“You’re pretty young, you know that?” A deep voice with a sarcastic lilt invaded the dark silence. When Sera sought out the source, a passing car’s headlights illuminated a reflective pair of golden horns.

“Mom!” The metallic bed frame knocked and clicked with the floral bulbs around the bars. Surely, that would’ve caused enough racket for Cathleen to come running, but it all came to a stop as the intruder leaned over Sera’s bed, his clawed hand wrapping around the metal frame to still it’s rattling.

“You don’t really want her to come in here right now, do you? I mean, the whole reason you’re here is to be left alone.”

Sera squeezed her eyes shut as the shaking caused her teeth to chatter. She couldn’t get a single word out to save her life, which was ironic considering her whole reason for seeking out a forever sleep.

“I’m not going to hurt you, chill.” The tall figure stepped back into the shadows to observe the shivering child. He hardly considered himself frightening, although to most humans, the sight of horns in the middle of the night with red eyes wasn’t exactly comforting. He was hardly the angel he once existed as, but he retained his shoulder-length blond hair and unearthly beauty. That didn’t matter to a kid, though. And that was why he never dealt with children. He should’ve never answered the call. “Alright, whatever. I’m not going to eat you, so go back to your self-destructive thoughts alone.”

As the being raised his fingers to snap, Sera found her courage. “Wait! What are you?”

The being sighed in frustration and twisted his hand in midair. The angst of Shirley Manson fell to a tolerable volume. “Aren’t you a bit young to be listening to that shit?”

Sera’s shivering slowed to a tremble as the sense of danger receded. Surely, this being would have harmed her by now if he’d meant to. “I — I like it.”

The figure spun back around to face the child who’d curled up with her knees to her chest. Her eyes were wide and her mind was buzzing at impossible speeds, so many thoughts turning into a cacophony that threatened to drive the being mad. It was another reason children were low on his list of humans to entertain. Their minds were wide open and they were too curious about everything. “Okay, whatever. Anyway, what’s your deal?”

“What?”

“What…” The being sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Why do you want to sleep forever?”

“Oh. I want to just go to sleep and live in my dreams.”

The being quirked a brow. Something else was surfacing in that tiny underdeveloped brain. It intrigued him. “You know that isn’t possible.”

Sera took a deep breath and stared at her knees, her fingers squeezing light denim. “Since I can walk while I’m sleeping and still be in a dream, why can’t I just have that happen all the time? There’s a way to do that, right?”

Understanding dawned on the being and he sobered. The red in his eyes ceased glowing and he sunk down onto the girl’s bed, crossing his legs. Her expression told of her confusion when she laid eyes upon him. He looked like a very tall man adorned in a white button-up shirt tucked into a pair of faded jeans. If it weren’t for his horns and strange eyes, she’d think him nothing more than an average person.

When their eyes met, he was unwavering in his attention. “You want to die. Why?”

The word hadn’t crossed her mind. She knew death meant to stop existing, but was that how people went away to live in their dreams? She’d never known anyone who’d died. “I think so, at least.”

“Why?” the figure pressed. “You’re ten years old. You’re barely out of the womb. What reason could you have to want to die?” He huffed. “You haven’t even suffered through puberty yet.”

Sera’s face scrunched in confusion. “Puberty?”

“Oh Hell. Listen, you’re way too young to be feeling whatever you’re feeling right now. I doubt you have a reason that’ll convince me you actually want to die.”

Sera reached for the remote to the small TV on her nightstand and switched it on, the Munsters drifting over the now barely audible Shirley Manson. “It’s too dark and I’m scared.”

The figure squinted as his eyes were invaded with light and snapped to turn off the stereo, the loop of the child’s thoughts combined with all the artificial noise too much for his short temper. “You didn’t answer me. Why do you want to die?”

Sera grew shy and grabbed her comforter to pull up to her chin. Her Winnie the Pooh security blanket was in her hands and she chewed on the silk edge. “I… don’t know.”

“Yes, you do. Why won’t you tell anyone the truth?”

The girl glanced at the figure. “Because no one will believe me. I told the principal at school what happened but I got blamed for it. I’m the one who got in trouble.”

The figure’s patience was gone. “What did you get in trouble for? What happened to make you want to call it quits?”

Sera dropped the blanket and grew somber as the memories hit her, and it was clear in the way her eyes glazed over. “At lunchtime, the boy I had a crush on found out I liked him because my friend told him. I was happy at first because I thought we could be friends, but he told me I was gross. Everyone started laughing at me and I got really sad and started crying.”

The figure’s attention turned to the hard floor that was covered by a decorative fuzzy carpet. “And then what?”

“Then I went to the principal’s office with my friend. I just wanted to go home, but the principal put me in a room alone with some tissues and said if I cried I’d feel better.”

“Human empathy at it’s finest,” the figure droned. “What did you get in trouble for?”

“I got in trouble because this girl in my class, Tracy, and some boys beat me up at recess. She bullies me all the time. My friend told the principal I started it and everyone lied and got me in trouble. So I got blamed even though I didn’t do anything. They believed my friends.”

“Those aren’t friends.” The figure stood and approached a white dresser with a large mirror. Beneath it was a row of small troll figures with gems in their belly buttons, their hair wild and in numerous colors. A clawed hand grabbed a green one that was supposed to be a costumed version of Frankenstein’s monster. The child certainly had an interesting mind full of strange curiosities from what he could catch, but there was a pain there as well that was underlying. It was more than a human of that age could be expected to carry, and there was much more than just being bullied at school and framed for it.

There were flashes of memories with a man’s face and a belt in his hands. Blackouts and irrational fears and illnesses — of the mind and body — and days spent in the hospital. He feared a different kind of hospital visit was looming, but he couldn’t be sure. He froze as he caught himself worrying over it all and dropped the troll doll. This wasn’t his problem. He had been curious and only meant to lurk because of the child’s call and her strange dark aura, but it hadn’t been so superficial. Her concerning wishes were real and she meant it with all her little human heart that hadn’t stopped booming in his ears.

The figure turned to face the girl who’d gone silent, leaning back on his hands against the dresser. “I don’t expect you to understand, but just listen, alright?”

Sera nodded, staring at the being with rapt attention and wonder.

It was endearing in an odd way. He continued. “I’m not a dream or a nightmare, or a bogeyman. I’m a fallen angel. Judging by your Bible over there on the desk, you already know a little bit about that, but I assure you it’s all bullshit.”

The girl’s eyes blew wide. “You’re a demon?”

“No.” The figure cut her off before she could continue. “A fallen angel is not a demon. We just hang with them because we don’t have a choice. I am a king of Hell, but I’m far beyond even that.” The figure’s ego shined brighter than the headlights blinding the room once more. “My name is Byleth. You’ll probably have better luck looking up Beleth since humans have spelled my name differently throughout the years. I can teach you more about this stuff, but you can tell no one I’m around.” Byleth was sure to emphasize the seriousness of the matter. “If the adults find out what you’re doing, judging by their spiritual alignment, they’ll try to stop you.”

“But mom knows what’s good and what isn’t–“

“No, she doesn’t. Not in this context, anyway.” Byleth approached the child once more and dropped onto the side of the bed. “I can tell you all kinds of things that you’re not old enough to understand that would shake your world, especially concerning them. I’m your ally right now, and judging by everything going on, I’m your only ally. Do you want help or not?” He couldn’t believe what he was considering, but the darkness that seeped from her wasn’t just from illness. It wasn’t something he saw in children, let alone one so seemingly pure. He’d considered its purpose the moment her mind opened to him and he could read her like a book. She was no ordinary ten-year-old.

Sera nodded as she remained transfixed on him. “Are you real?”

Byleth’s laughter lit up the room and would surely be heard by Cathleen, but it wasn’t the case. “Yes, I’m real, sweetie. But only you can see and hear me right now. I’ll make sure no one else knows unless it’s necessary, alright?” As the girl opened her mouth, Byleth held up a finger. “Ah-ah, no. We can’t tell mommy. Definitely don’t tell daddy. Definitely not him.” A low growl rumbled in Byleth’s chest like a tiger’s. “We’ll talk more about them later. For now, just focus on surviving and pay attention to what I tell you.”

Sera sighed as tears streamed down her cheeks. “What if I can’t do it?”

“Stop it.” Byleth quirked a brow and stared into Sera’s eyes until the tears stopped again. “You’re stronger than you think you are. Trust me, I know. You can do it.” A deafening alarm bell interrupted them both, Sera screaming in surprise as her heart boomed in Byleth’s ears.

Her shaking hand stilled the alarm bell and the tremors returned. “Can you walk me to the bathroom? If I wet the bed again mom will get mad at me.”

Byleth fell silent in a stupor and stared at the child, all emotion draining from him. What in all the Hells had he just gotten himself into?

©2021 Shane Blackheart

From Vexis – original writing

I’m kind of lost when it comes to pursuing publishing anymore. For the time being, I’m just going to write for myself with no further intentions to publish. I can’t seem to get anything to work, and I’ve lost hope for succeeding after trying just about everything. Maybe at a later date I’ll try again. For now, the pile of rejections will be a reminder I have to figure out what to do to improve.

With that said, I’m going to keep writing for myself like I used to. This is from a book that started as a short story, and it’s in the same universe as another of my books, Everything Is Wonderful Now. It’s called Vexis, and this is from the last part I wrote. The cover art was drawn by myself.

The toddler tossed and turned in her sleep. As far as she was concerned, she was stuck in a wintry landscape with a growing, howling wind eating away at her sanity. Nothing but dead trees lined the landscape, and she didn’t have anything to comfort her or keep her warm. Her silk blanket was nowhere to be found, and her little lamb that played music was missing. There was a note pinned to the tree before her, but she couldn’t read. She barely knew what was happening other than the fact that she was lost.

Vex slipped out from behind the tree and ripped the note from its trunk. Sinister red eyes formed in the hollow. “Hello, little one,” Vex soothed. “I hope you enjoy my memories, as horrific as they were.” They paused and looked down to see the child had sunk to her knees, shivering. She stared wide-eyed at Vex, who took pride in her fear. Interesting. It had been the one thing she retained from her time near death. Fear. And she would live with a fear of everything for the rest of her life, no doubt.

The child blurted a cry — a near scream. Vex glanced at the note and then moved to drop down beside the child in the snow. They placed an arm around her, feigning a moment of comfort and trust. “You can’t read yet, but this note was left for you. You’ll find it again when you’re older. It explains a lot you won’t understand for now, if you ever do.” Vex showed the note to the shivering child. “It’s out here, in the cold. You’re lost in the snow, and it’s where you will remain.”

Vex rubbed the child’s back and stood, setting the note in the cavity of the tree. It was time for her to wake up, although their meddling would have a negative effect on the process. Vex smiled. This was the start.

The wintry world flickered as the child regained consciousness, and Vex sunk back into the old library. Other rooms had begun to form inside the child’s mind, but nothing much was in them yet. One of them would be her prison — a place for the ghost Vex would slowly coax out of her until she became someone else. Someone Vex carefully molded.

Vex watched as the child sat up in her bed, mumbling and yelling with her eyes wide open while seeing nothing. Her mother and father rushed in to console her, but the night terror had already progressed. The dead trees scattered about her room, and red eyes emerged from all of them. Her bedroom — a place of safety — had become the nightmare itself through hallucination. Vex found it interesting in the way humans could experience dreams and nightmares in the waking world too, and it reminded them of the last life they lived while a void walker among dreams.

The child devolved into a panic attack that shook the dust in the library Vex resided in. Rushed thoughts of danger in the form of images instead of words flooded the headspace, and Vex watched them swirl with delight. “Yes, all of these things could happen to you. So many horrible things. It’s why you should leave this life to me. I know how to deal with such horrible things, and I can keep you safe.”

©2021 Shane Blackheart

Salem – a bit of inspiration

Last night while listening to Lil Nas X’s new album, which is fantastic by the way, I got caught up on the track, ‘Life After Salem.’ The visualizer for it on YouTube sparked something in me after the third round, and a quick scene popped into my head.

While on repeat, I wrote this scene. It stretched longer than I’d realized, and it was the first bit of inspiration I’ve had in some time. It just goes to show what music can do for your soul, especially if you’ve been in a slump. New music, mostly, or something you haven’t heard in many years. It’s why music will always be an important part of my creative process.

Here is that scene. I’d like to flesh it out into a book some day, if I have the spoons for it.

It was late — later than she’d meant to stay on campus. With her friends, however, she felt safer than usual. There was also something about the mysterious dark stranger a bit further down the sidewalk, although his aura was more of a loner’s than anything else.

The young woman’s heart fluttered as it hit her. It was him.

“Hey, what are you doing?” A girl with long blond hair reached out to stop her friend who had jogged ahead. “Are you nuts?”

“It’s fine! I know him.” It was a lie, of course. A half lie. She’d never spoken to him before but had only observed from afar. He was too interesting to ignore, and there was something about him that felt like home to her in a way she couldn’t figure out.

The tall man turned around, and she saw beneath a dark hood black lipstick, bright gray eyes, and below were silver rings on his dark brown fingers. He was ethereal, unworldly. A crow landed on his shoulder.

The young woman brought a hand to her mouth in surprise. He was certainly taller than she realized, but he was just as dark and handsome up close as she’d suspected. She looked to the crow. “Is he yours?”

The dark man glanced at the crow and lifted a hand, letting the bird nip lovingly. “Yeah.”

“Oh, okay.” The girl gripped her messenger bag tightly and took a deep breath, but before she could speak, he interrupted.

“Did you want something? Or are you just curious?” A sly smile revealed two small canines slightly sharper than average.

The young woman’s eyes blew wide. “Oh god, are you a…” She looked around, conscious of her friends still present just a way down the sidewalk watching them. “… a vampire?” she whispered

The dark man fought back a laugh and licked his lips for cover. Feathers flapped as the crow left him. “Nah. Vampires aren’t real.”

The young woman sighed with relief, then chuckled. “That was a dumb question. Sorry, you just look like one. What with the way you dress, you know?” She glanced back again. They still hadn’t moved.

The man finally noticed the three girls and lost the good nature he’d managed. “Is this some kind of joke I’m not in on or?”

The woman grew flushed. “No! Oh my god, no. It’s just… I…” She groaned. “I’m sorry. I’m not really good at this whole meeting new people thing.”

The man looked her up and down from beneath his hooded cloak jacket before holding out a hand. It was covered with a black fingerless glove, and his nails were short but rounded to a point and painted black. “Would it be easier if we were somewhere brighter?”

The girl glanced at his hand and then back to him. “Uh, well, my friends…” She looked behind her to see the three girls huddled together nervously. She then looked back to the mysterious stranger. He had a calming aura about him despite his intimidating attire and his affiliation with crows. It brought back the itch she couldn’t scratch — she had to know who he was. There was just something about him that was so different from anyone she’d ever met. Something not entirely human, even though they’d already covered the vampire bit. There was something else there. Something out of time.

The girl smiled and took his hand. “Sounds good to me. Where are we going?”

The man quirked a brow as he curled his fingers around hers. “I figured you’d be the one to say. I don’t really go many places that are considered lively, nor for the daytime folk.”

“You’re positive you’re not a vampire?” She followed as they walked together down the sidewalk.

A snort. “Nah, not a vampire. Flesh and blood, unfortunately.”

“Right. So you don’t like people-y places. Where do you usually go?”

The man stopped at a cross walk. A moment of silence passed between them before he answered casually. “The graveyard.”

“At night?” She didn’t miss a beat as they crossed and realized they were still holding hands. Her pulse quickened. Why couldn’t she let go of his hand? She could have just dropped his and turned around, but something…

“Yeah. Can’t get caught though, but it’s easy to hide in black.” They came to a side road and the man paused in doubt. “You want to go to a coffee shop or something?”

The girl glanced down the road that gradually got darker with spaced out streetlights, versus the cozy coffee shop in the other direction beneath the city lights. She squeezed the hand in hers. “Um, graveyard’s fine.”

The man’s eyes widened and he looked down at her. “You sure?”

“Yeah, well… Yeah, why not? YOLO.”

The man squinted. “YO… LO?”

“You only live once!” she smiled. She was pretty sure he was safe based on her observations. Safer than most of the other men around campus anyway. He wasn’t one of those frat boys lingering around a stray drink at a party. “Seriously, yeah,” she assured. “I’ve seen you around. You’re pretty cool.”

The man stared at her for a minute before huffing a laugh and steering her toward the side road. “Cool, huh? Never been called that before.”

The girl’s cheeks burned and she spoke no further. She’d finally released his hand as he reached for a cigarette, and she watched as the end lit up beneath the night sky. Smoke drifted around him in a way that made him even more otherworldly, and as he flicked the ash into the air, she noticed even more silver jewelry on his wrists and around his neck. Upside down crosses, pentagrams, and plain silver rings, although there was at least one on his right middle finger that looked like a silver snake curled around the length of it.

The walk was further than she’d anticipated, and she quickly checked her phone for the time. It was nearing ten at night. It definitely wasn’t how she’d expected to spend her evening after a late study session, but she was finding it to be more exciting than hitting the bed. Classes started early in the morning, and it was important to keep up her grades, although most wouldn’t care much about literature. It was her major — minoring in philosophy. Throw in a creative writing course and a few other classes for credits, and she was your average academic nerd. And she loved every second of it.

What was even more exciting, however, was the darker age of it all. The rainy days in the oldest parts of the university. The smell of old books that permeated the library air. She surrounded herself with candles, old tomes, black and brown wool sweaters, and dark academia music. So it really wasn’t too odd that she became interested in…

Oh. She hadn’t even introduced herself.

“Uh, hey.” She stopped him from walking just as they approached the wrought iron entrance. “Sorry, I’m Agnes.”

“Salem.” His voice was quiet and deeper than before as it ground against his vocal chords. It brought out the silence surrounding them in such a forbidden place to be after dark.

“I love that.” She followed him past the gates. “Seriously, that’s a cool name.”

Salem paused and turned around. “What do you want?”

Agnes was taken aback. “What… I just wanted to hang out with you.”

“No one just wants to hang out with me, Agnes.” Her name on his tongue sent shivers down her spine in all the right ways. “A dare? A photo of a weird dude for social media? What is it?”

“No, none of those things.” She started picking at her nails and hung her head, her long brown hair falling in her face before she smoothed some behind an ear. She felt much smaller than she actually was — and she definitely felt tiny in front of Salem. His six feet to her five foot five was a contrast. “I’ve been watching you for a while, and no, I’m not stalking you, I promise!” She looked up at him hurriedly, her over-sized brass, round glasses sliding down her nose. “I just really think you’re cool. You’re not boring like most everybody else. And maybe I’m a little in love with all things dark, even though I might not look like it.”

Salem smiled, to her surprise. “A budding bookworm goth, huh?” He chuckled. “Well, if you’re not here to tease me, then come on. Let me show you something.”

Agnes fixed her glasses and did her best to contain the adrenalin that rushed up inside her. It was so exciting she could burst. She didn’t want to go home any time soon.

Agnes followed Salem to the center of the cemetery where he stopped beneath a large weeping willow. A section of grass was set out for resting, and a few granite benches lined a large stone circle. Salem gestured for Agnes to sit, and as she did, she looked up through the willow’s leaves. The moon was out and almost full, and its silver rays beamed down on her face like magic entering her body. She knew the power the moon had, if you believed in that sort of thing. It could make even the most innocent person wretched, or the smallest person so powerful.

It was also a bad time to go to the grocery store. People hyped up on a full moon night crawled under Agnes’ skin.

Salem went to light another cigarette, but thought twice and pocketed the Newports again. “What kind of music you listen to?”

“Mostly dark piano pieces. I like dark ambiance too.”

Salem smiled. “Dark Ambiance? What kind?”

Agnes’ heart fluttered. They were connecting. They were actually connecting. “Atrium Carceri. Cities Last Broadcast. And I like some darker soundtracks too, like Eyes Wide Shut. The music from that film is just…” She made a sound of pleasure before catching herself and her face grew hot.

“Eyes Wide Shut? Really? You?” Salem turned to see her fully and crossed his arms. “You don’t look the type.”

“I know.” Agnes looked down at herself in her knee-length brown plaid skirt, black Mary Janes, and brown wool sweater with a white button-up beneath. She looked every bit of the dark academia scholar. Her leather messenger back completed the whole aesthetic she didn’t realize had made up her entire being. “I guess you’d just have to understand the things that go on in my head, really.”

Salem dropped down beside her and she caught a whiff of myrrh. It made her head spin. He had a cigarette ready in his hand again but hadn’t lit it. “And what sort of things are those, Agnes?” he smiled.

She was being teased and she knew it. Agnes puffed up and looked him dead in the eye. “I like rainy days. I read Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and Georges Bataille. You tell me.”

He lifted his eyebrows and made a sound of amusement. “That’s interesting company to keep. Story of the Eye?”

Agnes’ breath hitched in her throat. Electricity coiled in her stomach. “One of my favorites.”

A slight breeze rustled the willow, and the silver peeking through danced around them like the leaves were made of crystal. An audible swallow, and then shuffling in the dirt beneath the bench.

Agnes leaned close and took Salem’s cigarette, bravely placing it between her lips. She looked up at him longingly as he pulled out his lighter and lit the tip. She took a deep drag, remembering the habit she’d tried to kick so many times. Her friends would be pissed for sure.

“Huh,” Salem mused. “You’re serious.”

“Completely.” Agnes turned the cigarette and lifted it to Salem’s lips, which he took gently, albeit with a bit of flirtatious flair. Her insides quivered.

Salem took a drag before exhaling off to the side, and when he returned he leaned low to meet Agnes eye to eye. He searched her gaze to be sure she felt safe, and upon seeing the yearning behind her eyes, captured her lips with his own.

She slid a hand along the side of his brown face and squeezed her legs together. This was the magic she’d felt and why she’d been so intensely interested in him. They were the same in many ways, and she could taste it upon his cool tongue. He was the dark night’s sky beneath a cloaked hood, a walking mystery in black and silver. He was a taste of the unknown — the darkness that she wasn’t brave enough to wear so openly like he did.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

Xenogender

I am not a gender but an idea,
a walking philosophy of strange.
I have made friends with my shadows
and I walk among them as family,
leaving the fear behind
as I survive another day.
And I bask in my oneness with myself
and with the universe as it exists.
Cold and vast, and eerily beautiful,
as beautiful as the rotting flowers in my soul.
My being encompasses everything
they told me I am not,
and I choose to defy the boundaries
society forces with an iron grip.
I am an alien, xenogender and wild.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

“Fear Itself” – Excerpt from my current novel

It’s been some time since I’ve written much of anything, but I’m getting back into the swing of things. Writing a query letter, crafting a good pitch, preparing for the rejections to surely come. Beating myself over the head with self-doubt as PTSD grips its icy claws around me once more.

In between, I’ve been editing and posting short stories to my Wattpad page that are of a more erotic nature, although they aren’t typical erotica. There’s more introspection in them and the emotional responses are more of the focus. There’s also some comedy to give readers a breath of fresh air after the dark.

I returned to the book I’m crafting the perfect query for. I remembered a scene in it near the end where my alias has to conquer his fear of the unknown, namely darkness and the entities that exist in it. My spirit guide, Darokin, who is front and center in that scene, delivers some advice I’d nearly forgotten, and re-reading the whole scene, which is based on true events of my life, choked me up.

I’d fallen so far down again after nearly making the climb to the top. Metaphorically speaking, I’d started to conquer my fears before 2020 hit, and then fresh trauma, and being in a PTSD loop for months led me to write this book.

So, with a risk for spoilers that I’ll let slide, here is that scene I wrote during a PTSD-fueled bit of passion for my book, ‘Everything Is Wonderful Now’:

Sean shivered in the cold as he zipped his black hoodie to the neck. There was a full moon shining down on him and the demon prince, which was a perfect atmosphere for what Darokin had in mind. The cemetery wasn’t a place Sean often went after dark due to irrational fears, but it was all a part of the plan. Now that he knew he was a child of Lilith, and both Byleth and Darokin confirmed it, he would have to get over these fears and embrace his true nature. It didn’t help that he was weak, malnourished, and sick on a daily basis. But Darokin’s presence that night was all the more important.

The prince worked in the shadows and was familiar with the energy within it. The moon’s silver rays gave him a renewed vigor, and his eyes glowed beneath it as he was in his element. He looked to Sean as the boy stopped half way through the cemetery. “You have nothing to fear, Sean. The shadows are your allies, not your enemies.”

“Yeah, except for the thing feeding off me.” The boy wrapped his arms around himself and continued past an ancient mausoleum, pausing to stare up at its beauty. The cemetery during the day was a regular place of relaxation for him when he wasn’t ill, and it had been some time since he’d been there. At night, however, it was a strange new world to him. The dead lied below every step he took, but he knew they were just that. Their souls had moved on and they were no longer present. It wasn’t them he had to fear, but the echoes of mourning that remained in the atmosphere. Distant cries of grieving families drifted between the trees, and the occasional footstep that didn’t belong to him or his companion caused him to pause and listen.

Darokin stopped Sean as they reached a patch of grass at the center. A large monument towered over them, but otherwise, it was a place to rest with a few benches in a circle. “Nothing here means you harm, dear Sean. You must make peace with it, and in doing so, you will begin to conquer that which has latched onto you.”

“The thing I helped to create.” The boy stepped into the grass and turned to face Darokin. “So how do I do it? How do I stop being afraid?” A powerful dizziness struck him, and he realized he hadn’t eaten that day. It was no way to begin this.

Darokin knew it as well, but the demon prince pushed. “This does not require physical strength. It’s mere exposure therapy, as you are no stranger to.” He waved his hand at a rhythm, stirring the shadows around them. “Energies of the night — they take many forms. But they are merely onlookers. The ones you see and the ones I call to you tonight are merely curious. They do not wish to scare you or harm you, but they are honest in their presence. They will not spare you their gaze because you fear them, for they know you as well as I do. As well as Zagan and Byleth do. Better than you know yourself.”

Sean knew what he meant. The boy had no idea what it entailed to be a child of Lilith, other than what his path was destined to be. It explained a lot of things, such as meeting Death at birth and coming back from it, as well as living a challenging life to put it mildly, but he also remembered many things he felt as a child. He never spoke of them to Byleth back then because he didn’t have a word for them, but he could sense the good and bad in people. He felt their energy like a suffocating blanket if he were too close, which is a lot of the reason he couldn’t stand up to the children who meant him harm. He had to grow numb to their blind hatred to protect himself, but being so young and not knowing what was happening, he reacted as a child would. With fear and tears.

He was tempted to do that then as a feeling of being watched surrounded him. He turned to see the shadows swaying, and after a short time, a pair of milky white eyes stared at him from one of the forms. He was certain it was a singular being among many, but it looked more like the things he noticed while doing rituals in the safety of his home. Here — beneath the moon and in the middle of the night surrounded by the dead — Sean was among the rawest of energies these forms could take. Nothing was filtered through windows or mesh screens. There were no candles or lamps, and no light switch to run to in fear.

The boy kept his eyes on the being that watched him. It made no move to approach, but merely stood with the others as a more definite form took shape. Its face was emaciated and it’s hands bony, and it wore a long black robe that seemed to be made of the shadows themselves. It’s eyes seemed to glow like white pearls, but it had no mouth or nose. It was quite inhuman.

“You are familiar with Hades in your reading, are you not?” Darokin interrupted the swishing of the light breeze. He smiled hopelessly as the boy made a step toward him, and as much as he wanted to open his arms to Sean to comfort him, it was counterproductive. “You will notice that what is drawn to you resembles your own passions and interests — including the darkness and death. You have been obsessed with Death since birth, and they have been obsessed with you. They know they failed to claim you, so they admire you. You’ve beaten the odds, so to speak.” Darokin stepped back and held out a hand. “Stay where you are. Let them speak to you.”

Sean paused and took his eyes off the emaciated being to plead with his friend. He couldn’t bear to see it. “This is fucking ironic then, isn’t it?” Sean’s emotions surged as he fought the anxiety. “I’ve spent most of my life wanting to die, but when I’m finally confronted with things resembling death, I’m terrified. Why am I so afraid?”

“The unknown is what you fear,” one of the beings spoke softly. “The unknown is that which many refuse to acknowledge. You dress up your dead to appear as if they are merely sleeping, and you forget about them once all has been made clear with the dark blessings of graveyard dirt. You fear what cannot be seen because you feel the need to fight its existence. You deny it.”

Sean finally turned to see that the being approached, but kept a safe distance. A musty, damp, and cold aura seeped from it, and it smelled like mold. “What you fail to see is that you cannot resist the unknown, but face it. It cannot hurt you. Only enlighten you. And you fear knowledge.”

“As most angels and God would have it,” Darokin continued. “So you see, dear heart, the only way forward is to face the unknown. You have a lot of fear within you, but you resist that which is your true home. Where you belong. It is among those like myself and these.” Darokin gestured to the many dark forms that gathered Sean hadn’t noticed. There were so many of them. “You are not a child of the light. You can only benefit from finding comfort within the dark instead of fighting it. Only then will your ailments begin to lift — including your irrational fears — and you will be able to face that which is draining you. That which feeds on your fear. Because fear is the most potent of human emotions. If you show that you are at home in your darkness, and that you have control over the unknown and welcome it, your Intruder will recede. He will lose his power.”

“But what do I do about being anxious? I can’t control it. I don’t know when it’s going to happen. When stuff catches you off guard…” Sean paused and held his breath in fear as another being came closer. It had become so cold he was shivering. “How do people not even flinch?”

“Come.” Darokin gestured for the boy to follow, and Sean was more than happy to do so. He grabbed onto the demon’s dark muscular arm and continued through the cemetery until they reached a mausoleum, in which Darokin clicked open the lock. They entered through the iron doors and were greeted with the smell of ages past, and crept lower down a set of steps that led to complete blackness.

“What’s down here?” Sean’s heart leaped into his throat when he heard scuttling. “What was that?”

“Tell me, you do not really fear physical pain or actual harm, do you?” Darokin stopped and backed away from the boy, and the wave of anxiety that enveloped him was powerful. “You fear not knowing. You fear not having control over your environment. Here, in the darkness, you cannot see as I can. But you see, you have not come to harm. That which circle around us and those who lie in their shrouds beside you, they will never harm you. You fear it because in reality, you do not really want to die, do you?”

“I don’t know.” Sean sank to the ground and hugged himself. Despite the darkness providing no line of sight in any direction, he squeezed his eyes shut. “I really don’t know.” More scuttling. Was that a moan? A breath from ages past. A death rattle?

“And here is the obvious sign.” Darokin became firm, which was not a tone he usually expressed. “You’ve closed yourself off. What you refuse to realize is that by closing yourself off like this and succumbing to your fear, you become vulnerable to things that do wish you harm. You are a spiritual parasite’s absolute dream. You do not fight back.”

“So it’s my fault I’m being targeted? Are you seriously victim blaming me?”

“There is your problem as well.” Darokin pointed to the boy on the ground. “You are beyond a victim of this life. I have chosen to guide you. Byleth has chosen you. Zagan has come to join you to protect you. We do so not just because you belong to the darkness like we do, but because you are capable of a strength you refuse to acknowledge. You survived Lilith’s test — her curse. Will you let that be in vain? Will you turn your back on all of us after what we have done for you by allowing yourself to be the victim?”

“I’m sorry.” Sean took a deep breath, stood, and opened his eyes. Fear shot through his veins and nerve endings like electricity and he felt faint. “One of my first experiences with the unknown was an angel that looked like something out of the Necronomicon. I was in the dark and I was alone, and he wanted to hurt me. What if something like that happens again?”

“Do you really believe Byleth, myself, and Zagan would let that harm come to you?” Darokin approached Sean at last and placed a hand on his forehead. “Why would we let you continue to seek out this Intruder if we did not believe you were capable of defeating it?” He trailed a finger down the boy’s face and lifted a bony chin. “The universe only gives challenges it knows you can overcome. It would not make anything impossible. And you see, you are safe even now in the bleakest of shadows. You have received wisdom from your true allies. So, dear Sean, tell me. What do you really have to fear if not fear itself?”

The boy realized he’d stopped trembling and searched for a good excuse. He was full of them and exhausted all the same, but something else rang true in the prince’s words. He’d never come to harm from anything he’d feared in the dark. He tiptoed around their help during rituals with the safety of a candle’s light, but he’d seen them in the flame’s flickering shadows. In the smoke from the incense and in his peripheral on particularly manic nights. He communicated with them unknowingly when he drew each tarot card, and the energy he called to when looking for answers — when Byleth, Darokin, and Zagan were nearby to protect him so that the wrong thing didn’t reach back — was the very same that surrounded them then. It was the only force that answered his calls for help when he was told it was the angels who would do so.

And the Intruder — he wasn’t of this darkness. He wasn’t of Lilith or Hell or whatever anyone wanted to call it. He was of Sean’s own darkness he’d given power to for so many years. A thought form that became something real when he’d succumbed to defeat and stopped eating. When he grew tired from not sleeping and fearing death, causing his body to become weak as he was paralyzed with panic attacks night after night. In reality, he feared meeting the Intruder again and he’d unconsciously placed that fear on other things. Yes, the entity was feeding from him, but only because he let it. He’d given up.

Sean let out a shaky breath as tears fell. When had things gotten so bad? He was practically killing himself without meaning to, and that thing wasn’t helping. It wanted to keep him — to have him, as it often said. To keep growing stronger because that fear was what had haunted Sean his entire life. It was as powerful as was his resilience, and that resilience was needed now. Although he’d wanted to die for so long, he realized he feared it too. But now that he knew the truth of everything, he realized why the words had become empty. It was an easy escape. But he’d survived for a reason. He’d made important friends for a reason. And Lilith, wherever she was, had chosen him to defy the odds and show the world the truth they tried to ignore. The unknown that the angels wanted to keep humans ignorant on so the divine would have control and power. With knowledge came power in itself, and that was detrimental to them.

Sean’s tears stopped as Darokin wiped them with his thumb. “I’ll try harder, I’m sorry.”

“You always do,” Darokin smiled. “And you always will. This is but another hill to climb, but trust me, dear one. It is a small hill.” The dark prince leaned low to meet Sean from his six point five foot stature, and kissed him. “Welcome home.”

Sean’s nerves finally eased, and he placed a hand in Darokin’s. “I guess the first thing I should do is eat. Right?”

The demon chuckled. “It would be wise.”

©2021 Shane Blackheart

It’s Just the Wind

I exist e v e r y w h e r e

but at the same time,

I am nothing.

A ghost with unfinished business;

a bleeding heart with too much hemorrhaging.

Others are not responsible for my happiness,

yet I continue to reach for them in the stars.

Their lives flash by and I am but a speck of dirt on their window–

to be washed away by the rain.

The passion I pour onto a page is muddy water.

It is no more important than the speck on the window,

yet the pool of mud delves deep into the earth,

deep into the life-giving center of everything.

And as time passes, the trees blur by the window.

And I become a tree only to blur past.

Another

another

another

anotheranotheranotheranotheranother

I’ve become a storm;

howling and knocking people off their feet.

Yet I am invisible and my yelling is merely nature;

temporary.

It’s nothing more than the wind.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

Home

The day after I unpacked my things

and settled back down to claim peace,

the sun came out.

It had been absent for days

and the storm in my heart poured rain,

the gray skies mourning with my life.

And today as I sit by the window with the sun

I feel the longing of nostalgia for better days.

I smell times past upon the air;

in the orange sun that refuses to warm the frigid breeze.

And although my heart is empty,

I am home.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

Poe’s Isolation

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Beyond my small prison of old, creaking wood and flickering candlelight, the world falls silent. There is no raven at my chamber door, nor is there the meow of a mischievous black cat. Yet, hark! I can hear the distant cries of Annabelle Lee and the bells in the tower off the beaten cobblestone path. The gentle thrum beneath my floorboards is surely no heart but a gathering below — of people who are none the wiser.

Or perhaps, they tempt the red death slowly closing in on all of us — crushing our lungs and burning us alive.

A growing wind toys with the flame dancing in my vision. There is a storm on the horizon. Its gust spares not my journal’s pages nor my pen — but what is that? Valdemar’s cries that drift through my room. They’re from…

I turn to look toward my bookshelf, noting their emanating from that very spot. My eyes grow wide and I return to the flickering flame and my journal, my hand squeezing the fountain pen much too tight. These voices I’ve created and come to know haunt me in this silence, but they are scattered.

The raven finally makes his appearance known by tapping gently at my window, but when I look up to see the first drops of rain — the pecking of tears on the pane — nothing is there. I run my hands through my thin hair and take a deep breath. While isolation is my dearest friend, it is also my cruelest enemy.

There it is. The cat’s wailing near the–

I look hard through the dusty windows to see a shutter creaking in the wind.

Perhaps the red death has claimed me and my life is flitting before me. My creations and my ghosts, as well as the skeletons I hold dear, are the last and most important memories to guide me into nothingness.

Before my story is finished, I have but one last request.

Please, I beg you. Don’t bury me alive.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

STIGMA – book trailer

I don’t have publishing details or anything yet for my book, but I wanted to make something for fun since I love this project so much. It’s extremely close to my heart in many ways, and I wanted to share the excitement in a more creative way than just typing about it.

So, here is a book trailer I spent a few days creating. My editor and I are working on the final touches to the book, and we’re discussing possible publishing avenues. Traditional or Indie is my highest hope! Either way, no matter which type of publishing I pursue, the book will be published as soon as everything is worked out. When that time comes, I’ll be sure to update this video with any relevant information.

Until then, hopefully you enjoy the little trailer I put together and it sparks some interest in you.

Autumn Rain – an original poem

I wanted to try writing poetry again. It’s never been something that’s come easy to me since I’m better with flowery words in longer prose, and I usually fail for words when it comes to painting something more abstract for a proper poem, or at least, something that resembles one. I found a TED Talk about poetry tonight though, and I followed its guidance for an idea. This is what I came up with, in memory of one of my best friends who lost her life too soon when we were teenagers.


Etching people of never past across wallpaper,
a childlike innocence rapt with brilliance —
you were a creator of life.

Your very presence brought sunshine into my bleak home;
my upstairs of cobwebs and stale, stagnant air.
You made me a creator of life, too.

I loved you like a lily loves the sun;
a flower sprung to life and realized as something beautiful.
And now I love you like Autumn rain.

Nostalgia and fragments of you haunt me.
The pages I salvaged from your heart’s permission,
they are your eternity.

As a creator of life,
you drift among faded lines of frozen expressions,
and I cherish the soul you left in that ink.

I’ve wilted without your sun,
and the smell of pencils have turned to must,
your legacy now etched into my lucid dreams.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart