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.
I don’t write poetry often, but the other day something kept rattling around in my brain that I had to write out. It started as a feeling and some images in my animation program, but became words as I just put my fingers on the keyboard. So, here is the ‘poem’ I wrote, as well as the video version of it below. (It’s appropriate for all ages)
You’re always there.
Your eyes watch me and I feel you; hands not unlike breath on my skin.
I’ve got goosebumps in my soul — I want to sing.
Tears strangle my voice in the stead of a melody — claws grasp my heart with careful fragility.
I trust you.
With careful precision, you force life back into my lungs.
Desire for the veil was never so sweet as your face — the glowing red my sign in the dark.
Passion pulls me away.
My life is no longer mine but yours — your will to fan the flames stoking my soul’s perseverance.
I will not go today.
(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)
I won my first year of NaNoWriMo! It feels pretty great, to be honest. I feel like it has been some of the best writing I’ve done in quite some time, and it’s worked wonders to jumpstart my vigor for writing again. Since, I’ve rewritten a short story and doubled its word length from an old favorite in high school, I’ve continued a few other projects — I work on more than one at a time sometimes — and I’ve just generally been extremely creative since my start in November. I’ve hit some major bumps in the road along the way (more like potholes), but I’m happy to say I’ve produced some pretty awesome things.
Here is an excerpt from my 2018 winning NaNoWriMo novel, ‘Bittersweet; Love Is War,’ and it is appropriate for all ages.
As the clock ticked loudly against the walls of the stone room, Byleth stood in the center of it all. The cold metal table beside him chilled his fingers as he drifted claws across its scratched surface, its sheen adding a glow to his already luminescent red eyes. So many times had he looked down at Faye from the doorway as she sat there — a spread out mess of a human hanging back in her chair and watching the smoke drift across the ceiling from her menthol cigarette. Although an immortal being, Byleth still couldn’t stand the smell of the cancerous stuff, and there was definitely plenty of it on a daily basis. He could almost smell its miasma now as the memory of it drifted across time.
He clenched his teeth and ran a hand through his jaw-length, wavy blond hair. ‘I could just imprison her again. Tie her to the chair and take away all of her free will, and I would find a way to make her fear me. That would dispel any kind of affection for me, surely. Then we can both move on.’ It would most likely do the exact opposite, knowing her. She was fearless and mad about him, which was a sick joke in itself. He chuckled. She’d probably get off over being tied to a chair by him anyway.
He was brought away from his reveries by the sound of pages flapping in the wind, and recognized the natural glow that had spread throughout the room. It shrunk to reveal a form that Byleth remembered all too well, and he instantly went on guard. The being was lucky he didn’t react on impulse and tear into its glowing, pale flesh. “What do you want?!”
“Hello, brother!” An angel with short, upswept blond hair smiled kindly at the Fallen, his soft features flawless and beautiful beneath the dim lighting in the room that had returned. “I see you are well, and that you have taken a turn for the better.”
“Voyeuristic, aren’t you?” Byleth scoffed and crossed his arms. “What brings you down here to pester me, Gabriel?”
“I’ve come to offer you a chance. As God’s messenger, I wish to make a proposition with you.” The angel’s blue eyes had a spark to them that caught Byleth off guard, and he realized that something was amiss. This angel had a different kind of aura than the one he knew all too well, although it most definitely seemed to be Gabriel.
He lowered his eyes in suspicion and decided to play along. “Oh yeah? What kind of proposition does daddy dearest possibly have to offer? Is he finally kissing my ass to get something out of me?”
“Language, Byleth!” Gabriel wiggled a finger in the air with silent judgment. “It is something great — something you have been desiring for a long time, I am sure. There is something in Heaven you wish to reclaim, isn’t there?”
Byleth’s eyes grew wide and his breath came short. He’d spent the better part of his time as a Fallen plotting ways to get back into Heaven to reclaim his throne. Most often, it had been a violent fantasy that involved much force and a taking over of Heaven, but he knew it was an impossible and foolish thing to try. God was too powerful for anything in the entirety of time, even for Satan’s seven-headed dragon with his legion of demons to conquer, but if he could get back onto his throne and allow them all to think that he had been redeemed, he stood an honest chance of at least enacting revenge on a grand scale.
He snapped back to reality as Gabriel’s expression changed to become something darker. The angel’s eyes shone a pale gray for a millisecond, which a Fallen would not have missed. Although he knew no being immediately with eyes like that, the underlying darkness made everything quite obvious. There was corruption on the other side of the charade. “Who are you? Show yourself!”
The being laughed darkly and the form blurred and shifted as if it were warped, and came clear once more as Byleth’s suspicions were confirmed. The being that stood before him then, however, hadn’t been expected. It was one of the few times he had honestly been at a nervous unease. The name he was finally able to mutter was as quiet as it was dangerous. “Azazel.”
Another absence on this blog, and another reason. Although, it’s an amazing reason this time (I promise)!
I’ve made the decision to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you aren’t aware of what that is, in short, it’s a challenge to write an entire 50,000 word — or more — novel in 30 days. On the more descriptive end of things, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that raises money for all kinds of good causes related to writing. One, in particular, is to fund kits to send to schools that need them and to encourage younger writers. Besides that, it is an event every year in November that has been going since 1999, and millions of writers join in on the chaos every year. This year is my first.
The idea is to start with a brand new manuscript; a clean slate. You may also begin with an outline, or a part of an outline and nothing else to go on other than your imagination. Either way, after you’ve created your own profile and filled in your novel’s basic details, you’re ready to begin.
Every day, ideally, you’ll log your word count in one of two ways. There are stats you can watch to see where you are at compared to the average person, and you can also see a projected completion date determined by your average daily word count, and how many words you have left to write to complete the 50k dash (or more!). Below are my latest stats, taken as of today.
You write your novel outside of the website, and as you log your word count and interact with the site, as well as donate if you so choose, you will earn badges. There are also badges you can choose to give yourself based on an honor system, as they are achievements that can’t actually be measured in any way. For example, I gave myself the ‘Something in my eye’ badge for wringing my heart out over a few scenes or more. Sometimes writing really can be an emotional roller coaster, but that makes for some of the best writing out there.
From November 20th onward, you can claim your win by pasting the entirety of your first draft in their official word counter. They also give you the option to scramble your words if you wish, although no one is actually going to read your novel. Nothing gets uploaded to the website and your words are deleted as soon as they are counted. Once that process is complete, I imagine you’ll feel pretty good about yourself for your successes.
There are prizes, but there are no limits to winners, so be honest! They are small things like coupons to writing programs and online courses, and other little things that really aren’t a huge deal, but a help to writers to keep them going strong long after they’ve finished their NaNoWriMo novel. Personally, the feeling of accomplishment from completing an entire first draft of a novel in a month is the biggest win of being a participant. Even if you don’t complete your novel, you’ve still accomplished something great, and you still have words there that you didn’t have before. It’s even more incentive to keep going for yourself, and for the story you have to tell.
I’m well into 27k words on the eighth day, which isn’t something I thought I would be capable of. I passed NaNoWriMo by for a few years after hearing about it, mostly because I didn’t think I could do it. I sold myself short due to my own insecurities, and I was doing the very thing some people in my life have done to me in the past — I was putting myself down because of a lack of faith in myself. I believed my anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses left me unable to do much of anything, and I was destined to fail. I would become too stressed and spiral down into a mess of a human being.
Yet, it’s November 8th and I have come a long way from that mindset. On the first, I’d sat in front of my computer mulling it over. A friend from a Facebook writing group brought it to my attention again, claiming that she was doing it herself. She needed a writing buddy. I’d told her I wasn’t participating before, but on a whim, I signed up for the site and I locked myself in. I haven’t looked back.
It’s like something lit a fire under me (usually, that’s Byleth, but this time I did it myself. He and Lestan have been the best cheerleaders). Having a deadline with the goal of having fun and just letting loose on the page, not caring about editing as I went like I usually did, was freeing. The goal was to just go until it was time to stop, as editing during NaNoWriMo is heavily discouraged. All of that would come in the months to pass after ‘winning’, and the site also has a section for just that. My goal is to be able to open up that part of the site after my victory.
At 27k in after only the first week, I am certain I can ‘win’. I can safely say that if you go into this as a lover of words, stories, and a passion for the art of writing, you’ll win too. Just keep at it and don’t worry about the numbers while you’re writing. Focus on the amazing story you have to tell, and the rest will come in time.
The best of luck to anyone who is participating this year. I hope to be able to make another blog entry when I’ve finally reached the ultimate goal.
Although I am not feeling so great today, I still wanted to post something a bit more positive since a lot of my entries have been dark. So, to mix up the monotony, I wanted to share a video I made solely in Plotagon itself without any outside editing. I am a beta tester for the program, and I was able to get my hands on a version that is still under heavy testing, but I’ve produced some amazing things with it! Hopefully, these new features will be available to all, but not until the bugs are worked out properly.
I made this video during a particularly bad night, as they have been lately. I was in a lot of pain from a medication that my body just didn’t like, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from creating this bit of comedy that I’m still pretty proud of. So without further commentary, here is the video, voiced by myself, Byleth, and Lestan:
(Update 7/2019: Plotagon Studio is the only Plotagon app available on PC and MAC currently. Plotagon Story is solely on mobile devices. The interface has also changed drastically, and no more content updates will be added in the foreseeable future. The community portion of the site/app has also been shut down, but people still post Plotagon videos on their individual Youtube channels. Plotagon Story is still free to download and use, and Plotagon Studio is available for professional use/enabling monetization at three price options.)
Maybe you’ve heard of this interesting little app while browsing the internet or the store on your mobile device. Friends have mentioned it or you’ve seen things on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you have no idea what it is at all, but you should. It’s small and simple to use, but it contains so much magic within that you can only access if you take the time to explore what it has to offer you, which is quite a bit.
Plotagon, in its storytelling aspect, is an app to create animated films by writing a script. The interface is very simple to learn and with a few clicks and a bit of creativity, you can watch your stories and ideas unfold in a way you probably didn’t think you were capable of. That was my first impression, anyway.
I’ve been a writer since I can remember. I’ve spent years upon years creating worlds and conversing with people in my head and on paper, and I’ve always had just that – my head to work from. My imagination is vivid; I can see everything happening in my mind as if I were watching a dramatic film on the screen – my personal biological theater anything but tame, and most unforgiving at times, in that aspect. So, of course, when I stumbled upon Plotagon three years ago in its bare-bones form, I was blown away by the fact that I could project these ideas on a screen in an interesting way for people to hear and see.
If you’ve ever played a Sims game or any game with character creation for that matter, you’ll know how great variety can be. Plotagon offers a lot of options to customize the characters that will star in your films. The one above is myself, but the diversity of items you start with as well as have the option of purchasing is impressive for what this little app is. Plotagon supports everyone as well, so no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever defines you, there is something here for you. (They released a rainbow pack for Pride month with some transgender t-shirts and gay pride themes! They are also advocates for anti-bullying and non-violence.)
After character creation, you are ready to begin. You’ll navigate over to the ‘Plots’ tab, which is what the community calls the films you upload, and you can begin planning out your script. This is very easy for even the most inexperienced user. The buttons across the top of your script are the important elements that make your plots shine, and the rest is up to you!
As you can also see, there are microphone and camera buttons off to the side of scenes and character dialogue boxes. With these tools, you can really create something that is both visually pleasing to look at and interesting to listen to. You can record your own voice with automatic lip sync and do your own voice acting like I enjoy doing, and you can also use the camera button to frame your shot in several ways. Of course, all of this is laid out for you, so it’s just a matter of experimenting with angles and a few clicks. No coding or experience needed with directing/filmmaking.
There is also the option of allowing Plotagon’s voices from the Acapela Group to do the talking for you. There is a myriad of voices to choose from in the store and the diversity is growing with every update. The voices sound much more interesting and emotional than most automated voices, and they also can express different sounds and emotions with little hashtag codes that you can enter. (For example, #CRY01# starts the voice’s crying sound, #LAUGH01# is the first option for a laughing sound for that particular voice, etc.) Below are just a few of the voices available among many others in the store for purchase. And yes, the voices speak fluently and properly in your native language! When you first download Plotagon, you will get a few free ones to experiment with.
Plotagon is definitely something to experiment with since you learn tricks as you go. Being a user of three years, I’ve found that the more you use it, the better you will get at controlling it and making your plots shine. You don’t have to be a writer to excel or make something interesting, either. If you have some extra time on the weekends or have interesting ideas you think would be fun to share with a very supportive community, that’s all you need to get started. Did something interesting happen to you that made your day? Plot it. Want to let the world know a bit more about yourself in a fun and creative way? Plot it. Are you a writer or creative person and have some stories to tell? Definitely plot it!
From personal experience, the Plotagon community was like a second home to me (it’s since moved to Youtube). I’ve made many friends from all over the world who have become some of my greatest and most supportive, and I have learned so many things about other cultures through this app and meeting like-minded creators. I have made friends young and old and from all walks of life. I’d also been given the opportunity to be a featured member for putting my all into what I make with the app. If you tag your videos on social media, they may even feature your videos on their Youtube channel!
As a testament to what I just stated, the above is the very first plot I published to the community back in the beginning of 2015 before it was moved to Youtube. (Click here for a more recent plot of mine.) I had no grasp of how to work the program other than what it guided me to do, and it was very bare-bones then. This was before character creation was introduced, voice record, and diverse electronic voices. The community was the most welcoming out of any online space I’ve experienced, and it was the first time in my life that many people actually cared about what I had to say and write. The community, even since it has relocated, is genuinely a bunch of nice folks who love to boost each other up and see everyone succeed, and I saw that from the very beginning.
I grew quite a bit myself. 412 plots later, I’m still enjoying Plotagon as much as I did when I began. It’s definitely proof that if you just have fun and create with your whole heart, anything can happen. Be genuine and reach out to others where you can, and it will be returned to you. Not only that, but you’ll meet some amazing people! But enough about me. I want to get back to the more technical specs of Plotagon and give a proper layout of the program. So, in summary:
Plotagon is free to use and comes prepacked with a few free items, voices, and plots for idea starters.
In-app purchases allow you to expand your Plotagon experience without breaking the bank.
Plotagon is always evolving. Every new update brings improvements or brand new features to the app as it is constantly in development.
The app is very easy to learn and provides an interactive tutorial in the plot creation screen.
Fun for all ages and a great learning opportunity.
You can get your plots featured on their Youtube channel if they really enjoy what you make! Just tag them with #Plotagon.
Now, some cons, although not many:
There are limitations with what you can do, but there are just as many ways to work around these limitations and trick the cameras! Limitations also make you think outside the box so you can become more creative.
The app may run a bit slow on mobile phones and tablets, especially if you have an older device. I highly recommend using Plotagon on a Mac or PC for the best experience.
I can’t really think of anything else!
Overall, you have nothing to lose by trying out the app. It’s free and a lot of fun, and if you stick around long enough, you can become a master at it too.
Images are from the Plotagon app. You can get Plotagon for yourself here: http://plotagon.com (Story is the version you will want if you are a home user, Studio if you are a commercial user or business, and Education if you are a teacher and want to use it in your classroom.)
*9/20/18 – This review has been updated to reflect community changes, as it has relocated to Youtube to host videos.
As I finished typing the simple three-letter word, I fell back into my computer chair and stared at the screen. The cursor was blinking at me on the document page as if it were tempting me to write more as it always had, but this time it felt odd to look at. I rarely finish things after all, so the forever blinking of the cursor didn’t seem as foreboding as it used to. It usually meant minutes upon hours staring at an unfinished story, the cursor beckoning to me to just try and to just do something and maybe things will start to flow to move that little cursor down the page. I had started my writing today with that feeling, but I ended it with just three simple words.
Yes, I finally finished my first longer piece of work. Totaling 135 pages in Google Docs, 55,796 words, and page after page of an emotional rollercoaster. It all started as a dream I’d had one night a year or so ago and it ended up blooming into this gigantic, complex, crazy world. I never thought I would see it to the end, and I can’t say I won’t miss it not ever being the end. I feel sort of empty now that my biggest project is finally complete. I’m so used to things never being finished that I always felt whole in that vastness of incomplete work – I always had something to do and some work to look forward to. Now? I hear crickets. The tension has left my muscles and I am breathing calmly, and I am staring at three simple letters that have caused me so many emotions.
It may seem silly to be so excited over this. There are authors out there who have published several books and continue on to their next project, not skipping a beat (or skipping a few beats to get a breather in). But for someone like me, who has little to no self-esteem or faith in myself to do much right, to accomplish this is to accomplish a goal I set out for myself. The next steps will probably be that much harder. It always is as you climb up the endless ladder of goal-setting.
Now, to edit all of these pages. I have to go back through it all and make a second draft and a third, and possibly a fourth. Then the formatting, the query letter, the summary that’s good enough to sell, and submissions to agents with no prior experience of my own to speak of. Goodness knows I’ll need one to navigate this hell I’ve just opened up for myself, and not the good kind of hell. I’ve already attempted to gather beta readers, close friends and friends from afar, but all I hear on the line is crickets. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands since my support system is so small and practically not there, save for two or three loyal friends. I’ve accepted that I’m very much on my own for this one and no amount of teeth pulling and pestering is going to get me any response aside from the usual defensive response or endless reasons as to why no one can seem to find time for my manuscript, but have hours to post memes and watch endless Facebook and Youtube videos. If I sound slightly bitter, I admit that I am, but not so much bitter as I am hurt.
I wish I possessed the magical key to unlock this support system I see so many with. Reaching out for help and asking for help gains me silence. I see others receive answers where I am ignored, and I see friends uplifting and promoting other friends’ work but not mine. At first, I was afraid it was due in part to the fact that I was no good as a writer or creator, but I found over time that it would only be true if anyone would ever take the time to set aside and actually read my work at all. It genuinely makes me feel undervalued as a friend and I wonder what my friends’ friends’ do that is so great and different with their writing that is different from me. What they’ve done that is so different from what I’ve tried.
I promote others and help where I can. I support all of my friends when I can as well where I can. I spend a lot of time doing this when I stumble across their things. I will always do it without expecting anything in return because I love and support my friends, but it does sting to not feel that love back. I can be humble until I’m blue in the face, but in the end it does get frustrating when you put hours and, in the case of my books, a year or more into something and no one wants to even bother to open it, and this is despite their claims of the synopsis sounding very interesting and good. I’ve gotten that across the board when I give the synopsis. So why, then, can’t I get anyone to open to the first page?
Maybe they genuinely don’t care. Maybe I’m not worth their time. Maybe I am fooling myself and people are just being kind so as not to hurt my feelings. But I cannot get answers if no one will tell me anything, good or bad. Even writers who have written things that aren’t up to par get feedback! It’s endlessly frustrating and I’ve found myself close to screaming out of that frustration.
How do you figure out how to not be invisible to people anymore? How do you do this, even though you speak so loudly, approach people directly, and try with all your might to do everything in your power to be heard, even among loved ones, only to be ignored or brushed aside? My whole life I have felt like a ghost drifting amongst people, and only a few can even see and hear me, and even then that’s a toss-up.
Being invisible when you work so hard to not be is exhausting. I know I started this entry with a positive outlook, and I still have that, but it brought up so many other feelings that I’ve been battling with throughout this process. It doesn’t feel good to know you have something you’re very proud of to tell the world, and no one will listen.
But to end on a lighter note, I am proud of my writing, at least. I am proud of myself for accomplishing the feat of writing an entire book to completion, and I am happy that I can continue to write even though I may be the only one reading it sometimes. I can only dream that one day I won’t have to say that and I can have others enjoy these things with me.
I was finally able to write something for the first time in about a month tonight. It felt good to have the creativity flowing again, even if it was just a beginning or a summary of sorts for a character I’ve been keeping to myself for a while. I adore him and I could never really figure out how to write his story or his summary, but tonight it finally came to me. I would also like to preface this with the fact that I am not a person of color, so I in no way have any idea what it is like. I can only write and be true to the character that Kolton has become as a black man, a character I love very much. I want him to see his true beauty, but he has certain struggles that I can only hope are not deemed offensive. If any of my readers are of color and see that I have written something wrong or offensively by accident, please let me know so I can correct it. Please know, also, that everyone has their own struggles that may not always be politically correct in their own head. As a trans person, I’ve had my own struggles that I just haven’t said aloud – struggles I’ve since overcome. Nothing written here is meant to be offensive, but an exploration of something deeper for this character. I can’t wait to write more for him.
For now, I hope this beginning and character profile is interesting enough to read as it was for me to write it. I think I love Kolton even more after all of this.
Kolton sighed, the red blush on his dark skin clearly visible beneath the dancing fountain lights. He hugged his arms around himself, his revealing deep v-neck sweater drooping from his right shoulder as he tried to gain some sort of modesty. It was his own fault he was standing there then, dressed more inappropriately than he’d ever been in his life. He was very aware that his smooth black leather pants left little to the imagination. “What am I doing, Jupiter?” He sat at the edge of the fountain as he spoke to his absent dog who was most likely resting comfortably at home, his deep British tone just barely above a whisper. His black rectangular glasses slipped down his nose as he stared at the ground.
He dared to glance around the city before him, the large wall of water behind him attracting late-night couples to its beauty. What had he been hoping for? Certainly not something he’d truly wanted. Or maybe he really did want the very thing he’d kept from himself in all of his thirty years of existence. He huffed a laugh. He had been the spoiled rich boy who lost everything.
As a child, his father and mother were very well off, although both neglected him more often than not. Parties and expensive luxuries consumed their world, and as far as Kolton was concerned, they’d forgotten they had a son. He was cared for by the butler and their few maids and it was enough for a child like him – a loveless child. He spent all of his free time writing when he wasn’t sleepless from studying for the prestigious private school he attended. The family butler, Grant, was his sole supporter and would often look over the young master’s journals when appropriate, giving praise where it was due. Kolton smiled. Grant was probably his only friend then too, and where the stirrings of his early budding sexuality began.
He felt emotion well up inside him and took a deep breath, standing at last to head home. He brushed his short black hair to the side where it had fallen in his face. The butler had never made advances toward him or anything like that. The older man actually didn’t have to do anything – his support was enough for poor young Kolton to confuse love with fondness or friendship. Since he hadn’t much experience with any of those things, he’d always just suspected he was broken or emotionless – asexual as he grew into a young adult. Grant had been the only person to ever make him feel somewhat normal.
Then everything came crashing down when he became a man. Instead of partying like everyone else on his twenty-first birthday, his parents had suddenly recognized his existence just long enough to see him off. Kolton had nothing but what fit in the trunk of the family car and the money in his bank account that he’d earned during his short time as an intern at the hospital. He’d been foolish to think that having rich parents meant security. Fortunately for him, he was very good at managing his finances and ended up with a small house in the country and a Borzoi puppy that gave him more joy than any other human on Earth. Jupiter was his everything.
He’d been neglecting the dog lately, but with moving them into a larger home after establishing himself as an author, along with the stress of his attempts to be more social left him with little energy at the end of the day. And then there was that short time in his life in between the mess that destroyed him and everything he’d learned for himself about human interaction – that painful blip in his life that kept gnawing at him any time he felt alone. He’d roomed with three of the most infuriating people he’d ever known, but it had been his only option upon leaving his parents behind.
It was a large home with rooms made into apartments, all of which were occupied once Kolton moved in for a short while. He had only needed a place during the transition while he sought out an affordable house, his life of luxury having spoiled him in the most horrible of ways. He noticed often the way the others stared at the gold and silver jewelry he wore – his rose gold watch one of the only presents his father had ever given him for Christmas one year. The rings were of his own acquisition, but their value alone was enough to have them kept hidden at all times when he wasn’t wearing them. The only housemate out of the three that never really bothered him, and seemed to be at peace with life in general, was the nature-loving blonde Minkz.
Minkz Murdock lived in a world all his own. His hair was equivalent to an 80’s glam metal band fashion disaster and he often wore a ridiculous pair of short cut-off shorts for a man. His heavily tattooed body only added to the clash of style that the man was. Regardless, he was kind and mostly kept to himself when he wasn’t outside fishing behind the house in the large lake. For some reason he’d taken an interest in Kolton, often watching him from afar and eventually striking up small conversation. At the time Kolton was repelled not only by his lazy, nature-loving persona, but by the fact that the man was obviously hitting on him. Repulsive.
Regardless, the two started talking more and more, Minkz inviting Kolton out back to sit with him in nature and Kolton rejecting many times. Eventually, Kolton made his way out to humor the man and found that existing in nature, where the only sounds were the wind and the rushing water, was rather healing and quieted his constantly rushing mind. He’d picked up smoking then for a short while, although he eventually stopped. During that time, Minkz would often share a cigarette with him – not because the man smoked himself, but to have a reason to be closer to the ex-rich boy that intrigued him so much.
“Why are you so fascinated with me?” Kolton put out his cigarette and slipped his hands into his pockets as he watched Minkz’s fishing line follow the stream of water.
“Honestly? I think you’re hot.”
“That’s a bit forward, isn’t it?” Kolton blushed and looked to the ground, suddenly wishing he hadn’t ventured out to the lake that afternoon. It was too damn hot out anyway and he was in one of his black turtlenecks. Minkz shrugged.
“Life’s too short not to be honest, man. Let me guess, you aren’t actually gay, are you?”
“I’m asexual, actually.”
“You can be asexual and have a preference – or no preference like me.”
“How can you not have a preference?!”
“So you do, then? Sorry, man. My gaydar just goes off when I’m around you.” Minkz chuckled as he began to fight a fish tugging at his line. Kolton blushed a dark pink.
“That’s rude. Besides, we’re much too different to even consider such a thing.” Yet, Kolton had actually thought about it. Even if it was just a fleeting thought brought on by the conversation, it hadn’t repulsed him as much as he’d wanted to say out loud. He felt queasy. Minkz had finally brought up the small fish that was now flopping around in the dirt and rocks.
“Different? Money doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
“I didn’t mean money…” Kolton suddenly felt self-conscious. It’s not that he wasn’t attracted to people of lighter skin colors, but that someone with skin so beautiful and pale like Minkz would even find his extremely dark skin attractive. He had always been self-conscious about it due to being teased in school for being one of the only kids with skin so dark in his class. Racism wasn’t something he was a stranger to.
Kolton was caught off guard when Minkz stood before him, lifting his chin to better see his pale gray eyes. The man’s voice was warm and gruff. “Kolton, you’re an attractive man regardless of anything so superficial. I think your skin is beautiful. You should be more confident in yourself.” It was the first time Kolton had ever been kissed or even considered kissing anyone, let alone a man dressed like some Woodstock hobo. Regardless, he’d fallen into it like a love-starved teenager, his whole body screaming at him to push Minkz away and never see him again. Once the rush in his stomach had turned to nausea he found the will to push the man away, backing up to gain some distance and wiping his mouth as if he’d tasted something foul. He’d been without affection his whole life in any physical manner and the very idea of it made him shake with anxiety. Minkz watched after him as he left angrily to return to the house, the blonde man returning to his fishing while deep in thought.
“Jupiter, there you are!” Kolton flipped on the light as he entered his home, his best friend coming to greet him with a wet kiss that was full of slobber. The man chuckled and kneeled down to hug the cream and tan colored Borzoi, rubbing the dog’s sides before ushering Jupiter into the kitchen. “Would you like a biscuit? Have you been a good boy?” The dog barked excitedly and Kolton tossed him a treat, then proceeded to make something for himself. It was much too late and he had gone without eating for most of the day. His stomach was still in knots.
Ever since Minkz had ruined him he’d discovered something within himself that he’d always tried to keep away. He had spent so much time fearing and detesting all forms of physical affection – love or friendship-wise – that he’d lived a celibate life up until then. Until Minkz had crept into his room and showed him just what physical affection could feel like and what he’d been missing for so many years. Kolton felt his cheeks grow warm and his stomach flipped in that familiar way that told him he was going to need a cold shower. It still disgusted him – that feeling that people often likened to ‘butterflies’ – but it seemed that once awakened it was a switch that he couldn’t turn off again. He hadn’t even seen Minkz since he’d moved out of there and he hadn’t been with anyone since they’d experimented that one night. Not until more recently when he’d decided that he couldn’t take it anymore and he had to explore those feelings again. He had to confront the fact that he’d been a closeted gay man for much too long, and rather it was Minkz’s fault or not, it was a beast that was slowly clawing at the closet door in a demand to be let free. He had himself to satisfy his embarrassing urges, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
So he’d gone out for the first time in search of… something. He’d purposely dressed provocative – revealing more of his dark skin that he tried so hard to cover up. It was progress at least, if he could even count it as anything positive. He was still confused and he still didn’t know anything about anything. He’d made it far enough to enter the nightclub, be hit on by a rather douchey looking guy, and then leave before the guy could even turn back around to hand Kolton a drink. The music had been too loud and there were too many people – too much noise. So he’d ended up in the city square, sitting by a fountain with dancing lights and suddenly so self-conscious he could have crawled into a hole. He’d felt naked even though he wasn’t.
Kolton managed a few bites of his sandwich before putting the rest in the fridge. It was going on ten at night and his office seemed a comforting getaway to all of his problems. Flipping on the dim light that illuminated the red wallpaper, Kolton sat down at his computer to start a new poem. He’d been writing a lot of poetry since he’d began exploring himself and who he truly was inside. He couldn’t admit it out loud or even truly to himself, but in reality, he was thinking about Minkz. Every time he sat down to write a poem the man’s glam rock blonde hair slid into his thoughts, remaining there until Kolton felt the need to pour bleach into his ears to cleanse the memories. The man had made him into an insatiable depravity.
Jupiter was at his feet, curling around his cold toes as he typed away. Giving into the words that wanted to remain hidden was at least a bit of a catharsis for his exhausted mind. Although it would probably never see the light of day, the series of poems that flowed from his fingers brought about a quiet that would lull him into sleep, Kolton once again realizing he’d almost fallen asleep at his desk. With his computer on standby and the house dark, Kolton drug himself up the steps with Jupiter at his heels to disrobe in his bedroom and then sink into the gray-blue silk sheets on his king size bed. His dreams were full of heartache and closeted monsters.
(This is a short bit of writing practice I did based off of some Sims 4 gameplay. Lucifuge Rofocale, a demon who lives as a vampire, couldn’t get enough of Bjorn’s blood. So, naturally, I had to write a story about it. MATURE themes ahead! Open-minded older teens & adults only! Link to a related Youtube video based on this story below.)
Bjorn stretched widely upon entering the old yet lavish home. He often visited – usually a few times a week at least. His absence had been much longer this time, however, and Lucifuge had become irritable. The demon who lived as a vampire had no shortage of ‘blood supply’. There was his chosen occupation, which brought many to his home in search of obscure sexual tastes – at times allowing Lucifuge to feed on them. This was a rare occurrence at the best of times and Lucifuge often was left with nothing but monetary compensation for his services, which was the expected outcome anyway. When it came to his particular tastes in blood, though, Bjorn seemed to be the only human who could sate his bloodlust.
The man was of average height with blonde hair that was slicked back just above his shoulders, still short enough to be decent for a human male of his age. His years were beginning to show on his brow and in the soft crow’s feet that were forming on his face. He was of average build but was lazy in his lifestyle and way of dress, often adorned in a beige sweater that fastened in front by a few buttons, a white t-shirt beneath, and a pair of faded dad jeans to complete the image of a sloth of a man. He spoke in a Southern drawl that made Lucifuge cringe with distaste, but despite all of this, at least the man had a redeeming pair of baby blues. Overall, he wasn’t the worst looking man on the planet. He could probably become quite attractive with a few trivial changes here or there, but Bjorn was as he presented himself, which Lucifuge had no control over.
And there the vampire was, focusing on all of this as his hunger for blood grew. He instinctively ran his hand over his silver braid to the side of his shoulder to occupy his hand with something. He knew his eyes were glowing a dark crimson by the way Bjorn seemed to back away from him ever so slightly, which wasn’t the norm. More than likely, his face had also changed due to his dark mood, the lines in his skin much more prominent and the shadows consuming his eyelids. He watched Bjorn as if he were eyeing up his prey and a dark, half-grin stole across his features. “My dear Bjorn, what has you so unnerved?” His dark and sophisticated English accent was clearly taunting, tugging at his guest’s nerves. Bjorn cleared his throat and leaned back against the window as if he were distracted by something outside. A low fog had started to drift about the property line.
“I just… I get nervous sometimes that the wife will catch me. We been doin’ this for a while now, you know? She’s gonna start to wonder where I go all the time at my age.”
“And that is exactly why she won’t suspect a thing. Is it so uncommon for a 40-year-old man to go out with friends to the bar? Play a game of poker or get completely pissed?”
“I got kids too, Lucifuge.” Bjorn sighed and ran a hand down his face. “I just don’t know how long I can keep doin’ this with all that weighing on me. I’m also a straight man.”
“Straight?” Lucifuge burst into laughter, leaning back on the second-floor railing for support. “Call yourself whatever you please, but what we do is far from it.” The vampire waited for his laughter to die down before he eyed the other man with a gaze to make even the most doubtful compliant. There was something within his dark red eyes that caused Bjorn to crumble inside no matter how hard he would try to avoid them. That damnable gaze won every time.
“Just take what you need so I can leave.”
“You love it and you know it. It’s a shame it had to be you, though.” Lucifuge pushed away from the railing and approached his guest, carefully sliding a hand low on the man’s hip and the other to the side of Bjorn’s face that had started to flush. He brought his lips close to ghost across the man’s neck, delighting in the shiver it brought forth. “You’re detestable. Your voice gives me a headache and your very existence irritates me. Yet… “ Lucifuge flicked his tongue out to tease the skin that had just begun to scar from repeated punctures. “I can practically taste your sanguis suavis.”
Bjorn held his breath as he expected the pain to come, but it never did. The vampire seemed to hesitate as he pulled his mouth back, watching Bjorn with interest. “What? Why didn’t you drain me?”
“No, that wouldn’t do for my current mood, I’m afraid.” Lucifuge pushed Bjorn back with force and the man fell onto the red satin sheets covering the lavish bed behind them. “The hunger will make for an interesting session – wouldn’t you agree?”
“You’re scaring me.” Bjorn’s heart threatened to break free from his chest as the vampire crawled over him, pressing their bodies together. Lucifuge’s voice lowered to barely above a whisper as he teased his lips along Bjorn’s ear.
“I must find a way to rekindle your interest. I can’t have you doubting what we have now.”
“Lucifuge…” A sigh escaped Bjorn as the body above him began its torturous dance. He felt utterly powerless and was embarrassed by his growing desire. “We don’t have nothin’ but convenience for you.” He groaned in pain as a clawed hand came up to grab his slightly fuzzy jaw, squeezing as it forced his head to the side to look into a pair of swimming red eyes.
“You can’t hide it from me when we’re like this, you fool. You’re quivering in your boots – which, speaking of…” Lucifuge released the man and sunk low to the floor, pulling both boots from Bjorn’s large feet. He then returned his gaze to the man above him and slid his hands along Bjorn’s thighs as he leaned up on his elbows to watch, the vampire tempting his desires as dark fingers crept higher. Lucifuge slid his tongue across his fangs, toying with Bjorn as his body swayed in an intoxicating spell that soon had the man on the bed gripping at the sheets in anticipation. “There is another artery here…” Lucifuge squeezed high on Bjorn’s thigh and the man forgot to breathe. “… and I’ve yet to try it, although I imagine your blood is rushing elsewhere.” The vampire laughed darkly as the man above him became compliant, falling back onto the bed and closing his eyes. “Speechless?” Lucifuge’s hand crept up to the button on Bjorn’s jeans, flicking it open and dragging down the zipper. “Then let’s begin.”