Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blog Take-Over with Carl Hackman

My name is Carl Hackman and I came to writing late in life - very late if you consider I’m 51 now - but I have always had a creative bent.  Even when serving in the Royal Navy I spent a fair amount of time either reading or teaching myself guitar.  One thing I always yearned - l love this word - for was to hold a book in my hands with my name emblazoned across the front cover.  Finally I have a chance, albeit sight, at seeing my dream become reality one day.  I have one novel entitled ‘JAGUAR’ awaiting revision and am over halfway with my current work entitled GERALD.  I am hoping to enter this latest novel  in a competition at the end of July (2103) and am looking for extra readers to help me polish it in time to submit.  If you feel you could give honest feedback please grab hold of me through one of the links at the end of this post.

Thanks for reading.

My latest project is a fantasy novel which I hope will be a series based on a character named Gerald who is a young wizard who…  well I’ll let you read the first part so you can get acquainted.

Chapter One

A flash of blinding blue light filled the room, followed by a cloud of billowing, dark, acrid smoke.
Now this is not the sound you want to hear from a wizard, especially a short wizard and Gerald was only four feet eight inches tall meaning that he wasn’t a very good wizard yet.
He had dreams of exceeding six feet tall but only the best wizards in the land ever reached those dizzying heights and at the rate he was going he would not be a wizard much longer.  Four feet six inches was the statuary minimum height for all wizards anything less and you were back to working in the fields or shovelling horse poop until you reach the minimum height again.  At one point he had achieved a height of five feet tall but an incident involving Lord Moleheart, the head of the village, and copious amounts of custard set him back a bit.  How was he supposed to know that creating a feast for his Lordship’s birthday would involve juggling so many words, several of which were purchased on the wizards’ black market?
He felt a rumble under his feet, steadily increasing in strength until the floor beneath him began rolling like a ship in a gale.  Trying to stay upright he staggered to the window at the front of his weather-beaten cottage.  The small hill which was supposed to be growing outside, to improve the view, failed to materialize but the cotton ball clouds which were normally gently drifting on the warm summer breeze were fairly whizzing by.  Add to that the image of villagers hanging onto structures for dear life really made his frown of consternation deepen.  His eyes nearly popped out of his head when the village herbalist flew past his window and as he followed her progress across the green his eye caught sight of Lord Moleheart perpendicular to the ground hanging onto a tree.
“Gerald?  What have you done?” shouted Colin as he made his way across the room using every vertical oak beam along his path to keep him upright as he progressed.
“Mmmm?” replied Gerald, the point of his especially tall and very slightly illegally obtained wizard’s hat twitching as his bushy eyebrows bumped against the brim in a tattoo akin to a drum roll.
Colin very rarely shouted, he liked to blend into the background as much as possible.  If he could get away with it he even whispered his spells.  So shouting at Gerald indicated something was very wrong and Gerald had been especially naughty.  This fact was borne out when Gerald shrank one inch before his eyes.
“Double crap!”
“What have you done” said Colin, “have you been buying words again to strengthen your spells?”
“It was only supposed to be a small hill, to brighten our view.  It always looked so flat outside this window and you know how there is this tikitonic plate thingy just outside the village.  Well the word I know can make it move a bit but... and I was reliably informed about this by the guy I know who knows a guy, that this other word will move two of them together to make a hill.”
“Well, you’ve managed to cause the earthquake that should result in the formation if there was a fault line there, although I don’t believe there is one located this close to the village.”
“But the guy who sold me the word guaranteed...”
“And you believed him?  Tell me exactly what you did.”
“Mmmm... ok...  first I pictured the plate thingies and then pictured them moving towards each other so one begins to overlap the other.  Then said the first word.  Then pictured them moving more and the hill forming and said the next word to add power to the first...  Then stamped my wizard’s staff on the ground to really give it some oomph...”
“But you don’t have a staff; you are not tall enough to own one yet.”
“Yes I have... look,” said Gerald, showing him the gnarled, white, wooden staff.
“You do know that is just a replica don’t you?”
“Well yes, but it all adds to the overall image of wizardry doesn’t it?”
“Is that all you did?”
“Mmmm, yeh... I think so anyway.”
“Well my stomach was rumbling as it is tea time and this image just popped into my head”
“What image?”
“A slice of pie...”
“So let me know if I have this correct,” said Colin, “you were attempting to create a hill using a word above your skill level whilst banging a replica staff on the ground and you were also thinking of a slice of pie...”
“That about covers it,” said Gerald.
By now the rolling had settled down to a steady rumble which seemed strange as earthquakes normally do their thing and then stop even if it is only for a short while.  But Gerald could still feel a constant vibration through his feet.  As he looked through the window he noticed the clouds’ passage across the sky had slowed down, they still moved at a higher rate than normal but at least they were not the blur of earlier.  A crowd had also gathered on the village green now that they were not hanging on to buildings, trees and each other for dear life.  He felt a stab of fear as all eyes turned in his direction and a tall figure wearing an expensive flowing cape broke away from the group and headed in the direction of his cottage.
He backed away from the window and looked up at Colin, which was a strange sensation because he normally looked down at him, “emm... I think I may be in a spot of bother here.”
“I think you are probably right,” said Colin.
“Do you think he’ll believe me if I tell him I don’t know what is happening?”
“You could try.”
“Mmmm... Right, I suppose I better go and answer the door eh?”
Gerald walked across the room and opened the heavy oak door, covered in stickers of runes and other miscellaneous wizarding symbols, to greet Lord Moleheart.   He had just stepped onto the weather-worn step when the rumbling stopped.  Not in the nice gentle way like a sigh of relief, this was more like a runaway cart hitting a brick wall.  One minute Gerald was standing on his doorstep, drawn up to his full and important height, and the next he was flying through the air, his voluminous robes expanding around him like the wings of an eagle.  He hit Lord Moleheart squarely in the chest as he flew through the air and as the entangled pair landed on the ground Gerald’s robes rode up and surrounded them in a Persian blue shroud.
When Colin appeared in the doorway a writhing mass under a sea of blue confronted him, along with four wriggling legs, two of which were very white and very thin.  There was also an image he would not be able to shake from his mind for a very long time: a pair of bony buttocks encased in red silk boxer shorts with the logo ‘GERALD – HIGH WIZARD’ embroidered on them, very slightly wedged between said buttocks.
“Gerald, get that out of my ear!”
“I’m trying,” squeaked Gerald, trying to untangle his staff from within the folds of his robes.
Finally, with much swearing and energetic arm swinging, the two combatants finally separated.  Gerald bent down to pick up his hat and tried to straighten the tip which was now located at ninety degrees to its original vertical position.
“Awww.  That cost me two spells and a day of polishing the boss’s caldrons.”
Lord Moleheart’s puce face moved to within an inch of Gerald’s and growled.  “What have you done this time you pigmy wizard?”
“Errrm... nothing, my Lord,” said Gerald placing his hat over the spiky covering on his head some people would tentatively call hair.  Gerald’s eyes were roaming around trying desperately not to make contact with the glare of the Lord of the manor.  But there was no avoiding them once he was physically lifted off his feet by the front of his robes and Lord Moleheart’s nose thrust against his.  Even at this point in the proceedings Gerald’s little legs continued to run for all they were worth in an effort to escape the wrath of the village leader.
“What have you done?”
“Honestly, I’ve done nothing...  I was as surprised as you when the ground started moving.”
“Well something is going on and it isn’t natural.  An earthquake is possible but I’ve never heard of one occurring here.  But the hurricane winds that accompanied it point to a naughty wizard up to no good again.”
Gerald breathed a sigh of relief as he was lowered to the ground and the vice like grip released.  It didn’t take him long to recover and after smoothing his robes, setting his hat straight and readjusting the slightly wedged boxer shorts, cleared his throat in a self important manner.
Raising his staff in the way he assumed an important wizard would he said, “I, my Lord, will seek out the reason for this chaos forthwith and notwithstanding ....”
“Shut up.”
“Yes my Lord.”
 “You are correct though, we do need to find out what occurred here.  I’ll send a messenger to the King’s palace to see if the Court Wizard can shed any light on it.”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing my Lord...  It sounds like a very good idea and I would like to volunteer my services to deliver your message.  As a wizard myself...” Gerald quickly looked round and glared at the giggling Colin, “I will attempt to ascertain the cause of these events.”
Lord Moleheart sighed, “ok, you go and make it quick mind you.  I want to know if this is likely to occur again.  You can take your peasant servant with you.” 
“Peasant servant?”
“Yes, you know, the little guy on the doorstep dressed in peasant clothes?”
“He’s a wizard too,” said Gerald.
“Are you sure?  He looks a lot like a peasant to me.”
“He’s my apprentice”
“Ahhh,” said Lord Moleheart as he walked away deep in thought.
“Ooooh you liar,” said Colin.
“Shhh...” said Gerald, looking around to check his Lordship was out of earshot.  “Looks like we are taking a little trip eh?”
“Apprentice, pfft... I’m taller than you now so really it is the other way around.”
“Only by an inch and I’ll get that back in no time at all.”
Gerald walked past Colin and back into the house, a list of essential items growing in his head.  He took down a blank scroll, a quill and bottle of ink and started writing.
List Of Essential Items For Very Important Trip:
1.       Book of Spells no wizard should go on a very important trip without
2.      Top of the range wand (only slightly used, small crack at tip.).
3.      Wizard’s Staff, carried by important wizards at all times.
4.      Spare set of robes, Red with silver stars and crescent moons (in case I have to attend very important meeting).
5.      Latest Wizarding Market brochure in case there are any must have items for sale.
6.      Bag of Gold taken from bank yesterday (only very slightly overdrawn).
7.      Cart
8.      Horse/Pony
I think that about covers it, thought Gerald as he packed his replica ancient wizard’s chest.
“Have you packed yet?”
“Yup,” said Colin holding up a small knapsack.
“Is that all you are taking?”
“All I need is a change of clothes and a book or two.  What have you got in there?”
“Just the essentials,” said Gerald grunting as he struggled to carry the chest out through the back door.
With Colin’s assistance he managed to place the chest into the back of the rickety two wheeled cart along with Colin’s knapsack.
“Do you think we have forgotten anything,” said Gerald, sitting at the front of the cart, reigns in hand.
“Errr... food?”
“We’ll pick that up on the way out of the village.”
 “Errr... Pony?”
“Crap...” said Gerald climbing down from the cart.
Nonplussed, Gerald walked over the stable and brought out their second hand looking pony.  Even though there were quite a few bald patches and one bent ear he was very proud of the fact he was a horse owner.  Not many people in the village could afford a pony or horse.  Actually Gerald couldn’t afford one and Rebel, as Gerald named him, was acquired after a small mistake involving a gardening job, a scythe and an explosion converting Rebel from a breeding stallion to a patchwork gelding.   The Owner refused to pay Gerald and as he was about to slaughter the pony Gerald kindly agreed to take it in payment for his services.  The owner was so happy with this bargain that he followed Gerald all the way down the track from the farm waving his scythe above his head with joy.  Gerald couldn’t actually catch the words coming from his mouth but he was sure they were filled with praise for his professional wizardry.
He hitched Rebel to the cart and went back to the stable, shed actually, to retrieve a bag of oats for the pony.  Once he hung the bag on the back of the cart he climbed onboard joining Colin.  Confirming that all was as it should be, they moved off onto the main thoroughfare of the village waving to various villagers as they went about their daily lives, after recovering from the terrifying events of earlier.  The friendly inhabitants waved back in various forms, using clenched fists or, one or two, fingers in response to the smiling wizard’s gesture of farewell. 
“You see how happy they are that we are undertaking this important mission,” said Gerald.
“I’m sure they are happy that we are leaving for a while Gerald.”
Gerald stopped outside the general merchant store and waited while Colin went in to fetch enough supplies to last for the next few days.  When he came out he handed the rations to Gerald who peaked inside.
“These look a bit beaten up,” he said, “I’ll just pop back in and have a quiet word with him and explain that people such as us on a mission as important as ours should have only the best quality items not these battered looking things.
“I wouldn’t if I were you Gerald.”
“Why not?”
“He informed me, in no uncertain terms, that these items were in perfect condition prior to the quake this morning and that the value of his stock is now worth half as much as it was due to the fact that most of it flew off the shelves.  He also stated that if he got his hands around the neck of the little wizard he assumed was responsible he would squeeze until the little wizard’s head popped off.”
“Ahhhh, well I think we should just carry on our way then.  I haven’t got time to chat.”  And with that Gerald and Colin set off down the road with the sun on their back.  As the cart bumped along a little plaque hanging from the back of the cart swung merrily back and forth with the words ‘I heart Wizards’ branded on it.


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