Category Archives: Original Writing

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

Excerpt from original writing: Baalthazar [M]

This excerpt is better suited for more mature readers, as well as those who don’t mind a bit of steamy interaction between two demons. A bit of mild adult content ahead.

This is taken from a much older story I started writing years and years ago. I found it again while going through my writing folder, and I missed the way I used to write for my spirit guides and alters when we explored the world we created to exist in together. I still, to this day, am not sure what or who Baalthazar really is. He’s the only one who hasn’t spoken up much or volunteered much at all about himself personally. Maybe one day he will be ready to open up. I suspect that if I continue with this story, he may just tell me more since he allowed me to see his vulnerability in this, but in the end, I know he’s only here because Daro is.


Baalthazar sat awkwardly beside the demon he had spent too much time searching for. He hadn’t really thought about what he would do once he found him, other than bring him back to Hell with him. The young demon was lonely as it was down there and spent a lot of time on his own in the little space he’d taken for himself. Daro had been the only one to ever pay him any mind, save for Lilith who would occasionally drop in to make sure he wasn’t royally screwing anything up. A demon obsessed with voodoo magick wasn’t one to be trifled with either, so she would usually do so at a safe distance. It wasn’t until Baalthazar had messed with the wrong demon that she’d finally come around to make sure he was alright. Daro hadn’t been there to protect him.

Lilith wouldn’t come with him, though. He tried to convince her that he knew nothing of the world above and she was better versed, even if she was a bit rusty on her basic human etiquette. Since Baalthazar had been the one to screw up, however, it was his own duty to fix it. The only way he knew how would be to leave for a little while and let things cool down — well, as much anything could cool down in Hell. He just knew that Asmodeus wasn’t one you wanted to piss off, and without his personal ‘guard dog’, as Lilith often called Daro, he was mostly defenseless. One could only control a powerful demon with voodoo magick caught unaware for so long.

“Baalthazar? You’ve grown silent.” Daro was staring at him patiently as their earlier conversation died off.

The young demon shook his head as if to be rid of unpleasant feelings and looked over to the fire that was still burning strong. It brought out the frightening orange hue in his eyes that made him unnerving to most. “I… was just thinking as I often tend to do, but not very often at the same time.” Baalthazar forgot to breathe when he felt Daro’s large hand covering his that had been sitting in his lap.

“You are troubled. I imagine it has to do with your parting from home?”

“Kind of — yes. With you gone I had no one there to… to really talk to, you know? I got bored so I did something stupid.” Baal bit his lip to try to stifle a giggle that escaped anyway. “It was worth it though. Very much worth it, indeed.”

“I see you have not been harmed in any way, but were you dealt punishment? Surely you are aware that demons are not to meddle within each other’s affairs or personal spaces without good reason.”

“I didn’t stay long enough to find out. Lilith told me I should leave, but she refused to come with me.” Baalthazar sighed and looked to the fire again as if longing for home. “So I wanted to look for you because I knew you were up here and I knew you would protect me like you always do.” A light blush lit up the young demon’s face and he unconsciously intertwined their fingers.

“It seems I am always picking up the pieces after one of your many disasters, little demon.” Daro smiled and lifted a hand to turn Baal’s face to meet his. His pink eyes were glowing, but not from the fire.

It caused that same uncomfortable feeling to rise within Baalthazar’s stomach he had been feeling when Daro was around, and he turned even redder. It was becoming harder and harder to hide the way he felt and he knew that Daro was most likely already aware of it more than he was. “I am sorry for that. I get quite bored, you see, because no one ever really bothers to, well, bother me so I end up having to make up my own kind of fun.”

“Which is devious at best, even for a demon, but you aren’t entirely demon, are you? I suppose that would be an apt excuse for your behavior.” Daro’s smile dropped from his face as he was nudged away.

“Please refrain from mentioning that out loud!” Baalthazar hugged himself and closed his eyes. “Why must you remind me of my fiend blood? I am a hybrid — a mistake that should not exist and everyone treats me as if I’m something dirty. Something disgusting and unworthy. Why do you have to remind me of that?!”

“It is not my desire to remind you of anything so horrible, little demon.” Daro reached out to draw Baalthazar close, which caught the young demon by surprise so much that he had to latch onto the toned body against him for support. “You are unique, this is true. You are not, however, a mistake nor are you a burden to Hell. As humans have their imperfections, so do demons. Many will not admit to their faults and rightfully so, as most demons are above wrong or right, but many are not willing to accept that which was not meant to initially exist.” Daro hummed a quiet laugh as Baalthazar’s claws gripped at his long black overcoat. “You exist because you are meant to exist. We all play a part in this strange world and in between, so why would you be any different, little demon? Perhaps their distaste of you is their unwillingness to accept a change that will force them to confront certain things within themselves they have never had a need for.”

“Like… affection?” Baalthazar’s breath came short as he rested the side of his face on Daro’s bare chest. The demon prince was darker skinned than most demons would appear, and it gave him a tribal yet exotic beauty that was difficult to ignore.

Daro chuckled and set a hand on Baalthazar’s head between his horns. “The very same affection that brought you into this world and your mother and father out of it.”

“Is that why I feel so disgusting?” Baal lifted his head to look up into Daro’s eyes, an expression of sadness betraying the prince’s true feelings staring back at him. Everything felt like it was happening at once and Baalthazar was afraid. “Every time I’m around you I feel like I’m going to be ill and it burns in a way that I can’t even describe.” It was happening again. As his hands rested against the taller demon’s bare chest, he couldn’t help but move his fingers along the tanned skin to feel its roughness. He knew very well that his embarrassing problem was very visible and that Daro must have noticed.

He had. A curious smile stole over Daro’s face the young demon had never seen before, one that was much darker than all the others that had been kind and warm. “I am aware of your struggle, little demon. You need not fight what is happening to you.”

“It’s not as if I can help it. I can’t just will it away whenever I want to feel normal again!” Baalthazar shifted to face Daro fully and climbed up to sit on his knees where it was more comfortable. “What did you do when it happened to you, Daro?”

“I had the pleasure of being in the company of a rather persuasive vampire.”

“No!” Baalthazar hissed. “That fiend comes nowhere near me!”

“I did not imply he would, little demon.” Daro laughed again. “I was merely recounting my experience.” He hugged Baalthazar to him again and ran his hand through the expanse of messy green hair. “I suspect yours will be equally enjoyable as mine was.”

“You’re making an awful lot of assumptions.” Baal pulled away and looked up at his superior. “I want nothing to do with this kind of madness.”

“You seem to be expressing the opposite sentiment. I assume you remain so close to me because of your affections.”

“That…” Baalthazar averted his gaze only for his head to be turned to look back into Daro’s eyes. “I look up to you and you are very admirable, Daro. Am I to blame?”

“There is no need to attach such negativity to these feelings.” Baalthazar closed his eyes as Daro ran his thumb across the young demon’s bottom lip. “Perhaps, if you will allow me…”

Baalthazar swallowed hard as he felt Daro’s body heat between them, his own mirroring just how much he truly did desire it. He made no further struggle as Daro brought their lips together. It was soft and innocent — just enough to test how the younger demon would react. When there was no rejection, Daro slid his hand beneath Baal’s jaw and coaxed his mouth open to find a way past the sharp teeth. The younger demon responded eagerly as a wave seemed to crash over him at once, his breath hot in the demon prince’s mouth as he slowly lost the battle he’d been fighting for too long. An embarrassing moan escaped him as he felt a clawed hand on his thigh, Daro’s hand creeping higher before squeezing as if to gain permission before going further.

Baalthazar took the moment to pull back, his face flushed darker than before as he was rendered breathless. “That was strange. Too strange. Maybe we should… We should stop this.”

Daro smiled in a way that was more inviting. “Come here, Baalthazar. I only wish to ease your pain.”

The younger demon rose up onto his knees and wrapped his arms around Daro, hugging the taller demon’s head against his chest. “You cannot possibly find me desirable.” Baalthazar breathed the words as claws wandered up his leg once more. His hips rocked at the sensation that sent shocks of pleasure pulsing into his desire.

Daro chuckled against his chest and slid his lips over to tease a nipple with his tongue. Another embarrassing moan escaped the younger demon. “Would you like me to prove that you are false, little demon?”

“I am afraid.” A shiver ran down Baal’s spine as claws just barely grazed the bulge in his tight jeans.

“There is no need to be.” Daro released the younger demon and leaned back on his hands, coaxing Baalthazar to join him.

Baal got onto his hands and knees and crawled over Daro, but not before observing him carefully. He stopped between Daro’s knees and found that the demon prince was just as aroused as he was. “You… you desire me?”

“Very much, little demon. The opinions of others are not my own, so you need not doubt me.” He welcomed Baalthazar into another kiss before resuming his tortures with his hand, this time sliding up to squeeze the bulge in the young demon’s pants. “Stop me if you become uncomfortable.” Daro whispered the words against Baalthazar’s lips as his fingers fumbled with the button on the younger demon’s jeans, and he pulled them open.

There was no resistance that time.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

 

Dog Days – original writing


The mug of catnip tea was trembling in his hands, and his black fur bristled beneath his gray sweater as the heavy-voiced pitbull delivered the news. It was as if the TV set was underwater, and everything around him was closing in fast.

A gentle hand on his shoulder ceased the impending doom if only for a moment. He leaned against a broad wolf’s shoulder, his boyfriend’s gray fur ticking his pink nose. “Sorry, Striker.”

“Hey, you’re fine, buddy. Just drink your tea.” The wolf’s soft tone was much more welcome than the sharp delivery invading the dark living room, and Striker found himself thankful for the sudden downpour outside. “I’ll keep you safe. Always. You know that, right, Sam?”

“Thank you. Just… give me a minute. I’m sorry.” The cat sipped his steaming tea and waited for the blanket of calm to wash over him. It was hard to come across catnip in that day and age, but he was thankful to know a few who grew the stuff. It was getting harder and harder to find reputable sources for it anyway, what with the police dogs’ superior sense of smell. They could sense a few plants of catnip from a mile away. Bloodhounds were like that.

“Hey, why don’t we change the channel? I think it’s time for your favorite show, anyway.” Striker fumbled with the chunky remote in his claws before switching to something more cheerful, and a beautiful white cat appeared on the screen. She smiled with a glow that most did not, and she planted herself on a stool where she crossed her legs, her white sundress with palm leaves falling gracefully just above her knees. She pulled out a book and began to read.

It was a rainy night in June when Tabitha fell into her dream. She rarely tripped or stumbled, or waltzed gracefully into it, but released herself into it fully, granting it ownership of her perceived reality. Sometimes she would fall flat or drift gently onto a chaise lounge, and at other times she would be welcomed by semblances of creatures she knew with blank faces, all smiling with whiskers upturned.

Adventurous opossums and bats and platypi greeted her with kinship, and the Dodo once had her over for supper. She’d danced with butterflies and spoken to young foxes, and stargazed with raccoons. She’d seen the future and traipsed through the past, Bastet greeting her with motherly grace. Through all of this, Tabitha knew peace and love, home and comfort, and it was her kind of unreality. It was her homesick and her tears, and her fond memories yet to come.’

Samhain sighed as the catnip calmed his aching muscles and tickled his brain. He’d spent the better part of the day tense and with worry, the sight of Catty on screen bringing him a semblance of home at last. The news had been filled with nothing but bad things, and politics had become more and more unbearable to behold. It was bad enough that he was in hiding with Striker, and Striker knew as well the risks they had to take.

Love did not come easy in those times, and especially not for the others.

Samhain was othered, and Striker was not. It was pure fate that they’d managed to find comfort in each other, and as the bulldog-majority government created more and more restrictions for felines in society, Striker stood by Samhain through all of it. He was as loyal a companion as canines were thought to be. As they were to their own kind and only their kind.

Tears threatened to spill over Samhain’s golden eyes as a poodle stood from the crowd on television. She barked loudly toward the stage and threw a rotten fish that landed directly on the book in Catty’s hands after slapping her in the face. The short-haired cat paid it no mind and brushed it off, and continued reading as if it hadn’t happened at all. The poodle was ushered out of the room, and the cats in the audience began to murmur and growl in displeasure.

Striker grabbed for the remote again. “Hey, we don’t have to keep watching this.”

“No, it’s fine.” Samhain’s claws drifted up to turn the wolf’s face to meet his, and he kissed him softly. “It’s far better than anything else on TV right now, and Catty is so wonderful. Her peace of mind is contagious.”

Striker’s face twisted in sadness as he watched his partner stare glassy-eyed at the TV, the catnip claiming his conscious thoughts. For a moment a great emotion welled up within him, and his heart beat faster behind his red flannel. He turned Samhain to look him in the eyes, his equally as golden. “Sam, are you okay?”

“Of course.” The cat chuckled humorlessly. “I have to be, don’t I?”

The rain outside became a torrent and thunder resounded. Shortly after, the electricity in their small suburban home flickered. Striker paid it no mind as his ears drooped. “No, you don’t have to be. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.”

Samhain paused and inhaled deeply. His catnip tea was nearly gone. He turned his head to stare at the TV again, Catty having once more continued with the poetic journey of Tabitha the Persian cat. He then drifted back to Striker, who hadn’t stopped observing him. His heart sunk. “I’m scared. There isn’t a way in this world for me, nor for anyone of feline descent. My heart flutters and my fur prickles, and my tail curls between my legs. My breaths come short and my purr is a deception to my truth, and every day I look into your eyes, as beautiful as they are, and I question you.”

“You question me?”

“But then I realize you are not like them. I realize you are one of the lucky ones.” Samhain smiled and pecked Striker’s black nose before returning to Catty.

As the rain poured outside and the thunder boomed, the two became one with the sofa and basked in the sole light of the TV set flickering in the room, and they knew they were with each other and that they were where they needed to be, and that they would be safe.

They had to be.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart