Excerpt from original writing: What Lies Beyond

Since it’s Pride month, I wanted to post more LGBTQ moments from my stories. This is the start of more than a few I have planned, but I have a few posted from previous months. Happy Pride everyone!


The two drifted through the cemetery in near silence, Lestan only speaking up as he noticed something unique in their path. The spirit was content with this, never replying but smiling back to acknowledge the other’s presence. He stopped them once they reached the mausoleum he’d occupied the night before, and he drifted around to the front to see that it was locked. A sadness enveloped him. He didn’t have to worry about those sorts of things. “I am sorry, it seems you cannot come with me to see what I have to show you.”

“In there?” Lestan approached the chain lock and held it in his hand, the rust flaking against his fair skin.

“Yes, inside. Below.” The spirit dispersed through the peeling green doors and was absent for a second, only to resurface as his face faded through the door to look out. Lestan found it amusing and bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud. The spirit’s distressed expression didn’t affect his humor. “There is no way to let you inside from here, either.”

“A chain lock isn’t going to keep me out, love. Move back — or don’t, actually.” He finally chuckled. “It’s not like you can actually get in the way, can you?”

“No.” The spirit’s interest was piqued as he hovered beside the vampire anyway, watching intently as hands curled around the chain and pulled tight.

The lock popped away from the metal and rust crumbled to the ground as Lestan applied his full strength, and the iron gate swinging open. The vampire smiled at his victory and pushed against the green doors, the lock in them still intact. It went the same way as the chain, and Lestan stumbled inside. He was careful not to fall down the stairs and stopped before them, allowing the spirit to join him. It seemed the entity was able to manipulate objects in the basest of ways only, which allowed him to close the door behind them. Despite the streaks of moonlight inside, they were awash in darkness.

“So, what’s in here?”

“Down there.” The spirit drifted ahead and Lestan followed him down into an even darker abyss. The pupils in his eyes enlarged like a feline’s as he adjusted to the darkness, seeing everything on par with the entity.

He was nonplussed. “Did you know them?” He looked around at the decayed forms resting in their respective hollows. They’d been down there a while, otherwise the stench would be beyond what the vampire could handle.

The spirit stood in the center of the room, glad that Lestan could see along with him, at least. “No. I just like it here. Come, stand still.” Lestan did as he was told, standing before the spirit in complete silence. “We are beneath the earth now. Can’t you hear it?”

Lestan shook his head. “I hear the wind outside and the insects.”

“There’s something else. Maybe you can’t.” The spirit became sad once more but was comforted by the dull hum of the earth’s pulse. “It’s the sound of life from the source itself.”

“You can hear that?” Lestan finally understood and was in awe. “What does it sound like?”

“Listen. If you can hear the insects, you can hear the pulse. Close your eyes.” The entity closed his own and a small smile was on his lips as he heard it, the thrum surrounding his senses as he became lost in the earth’s song.

Lestan closed his eyes as well, and they stood there in silence for some time before the vampire finally reopened his eyes. The spirit seemed so serene and at peace, and he wondered what it would be like to see other positive emotions on the melancholic being’s face. It suited him more than he would likely ever be able to imagine.

Moving on pure curiosity, Lestan took a step toward the spirit. He was lost in Mother Nature’s thrum and ignored the vampire’s close proximity as Lestan paused right before the specter, their noses nearly touching. Lestan’s lips parted as he observed the entity’s face up close and he found a beauty in it — its features shockingly pale with dark circles around the eyes and charcoal lips. The vampire wondered what they felt like — if they had a feeling at all. He was able to touch the spirit’s hand last night and tonight, and he was sure that while the spirit was distracted he would have his chance to find out.

Lestan slowly ghosted his lips over the spirit’s, a faint feeling of something similar to flesh meeting his own. The spirit finally noticed his closeness and seemed uncertain of what to do, his body remaining frozen as the vampire slid his tongue along the ethereal black lips that had started to tremble. He finally pulled away, his form more corporeal than ever as a light blue blush lit up his cheeks. He had felt a spark of something that he couldn’t put a name to. It felt warm, which was something the spirit did not and should not have experienced. It was nice in all of the wrong ways, and he backed away until he was at the wall of the mausoleum, fading once more.

“No no, don’t fade, sweetheart. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Lestan covered the distance between them and reached out to touch the spirit’s hand, but his own just bled right through. “Don’t you want to know the name I thought of for you?”

“I am not worthy of a name.” The spirit’s voice was shaking and becoming unclear again. “Please do not give me a name. I have no individuality and am not anything other than my purpose.”

“Jack. I want to call you that so I don’t have to keep referring to you as ‘spirit’.”

“Jack? No.” The spirit curled into himself as he flickered.

“It’s from a movie that reminded me of you, honestly.” Lestan smiled awkwardly. He suddenly felt self-conscious; he’d never had to name anything before. What was worse was that it made the spirit highly uncomfortable, even more so than the kiss he’d attempted.

“I must go. Please leave me and do not return.”

“I can’t do that!” Lestan panicked as the spirit began to fade entirely. “I don’t want to leave you alone. You have to be lonely by yourself existing in this agony all the time. You deserve to be happy.” His words resounded off the walls as he was alone at last, the spirit having receded entirely. The vampire approached the stone wall that the spirit had been huddled against, and rested his head against the cold surface. “Jack — please let me call you Jack. If you’re still listening, I’ll be back tomorrow. Wait for me by the same tombstone, okay? I’ll be there until you show up, even if it’s almost sunrise.”

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

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Book Review: Unchained (Blood Bond Saga #1-3)

Unchained (Blood Bond Saga #1-3)Unchained by Helen Hardt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Spoiler warning)
This book definitely has an interesting story, but the delivery fell short for me. Please note, this is just my personal opinion and in no way is an attempt to say anything bad about the author or her talents. This may have just not been her best book or series. Spoilers, so beware.

The first part begins with Dante, a vampire who had been imprisoned for many years. He is stumbling around the city looking for blood, and he ends up in a hospital to meet the woman who will ultimately possess him for the entirety of the book: Erin. They become absolutely obsessed with each other from first eye contact, and there is a deeper connection between them that hasn’t happened between a vampire and human for some time. That’s the basic premise from the start.

Now, beyond this, the story fell apart for me. There is a lot of filler — or so it felt like. Dante goes here. Then he leaves. Then Erin goes here, then here, then leaves, then goes here. Dante is constantly uptight and arrogant, and he’s suspicious over his grandfather for who knows what reason. By the end of the third part, I still have no idea what his problem with his grandfather was, or even why we are supposed to suspect… something from the man. Unless his reason for anger was not justified and it escaped me.

My other problem — I’ll just say this: abbreviations for words. Certain words were abbreviated that just made me stop and I groaned (vamp, being one). It took me away from the seriousness of the story. I honestly wasn’t a fan of the general writing or style, but that is most likely my problem and not the author’s. I only mention it as it was a big factor in my rating.

Now, I do get the back and forth, hot and cold between Dante and Erin after reading through the book in its entirety. But, I have to admit, it’s extremely frustrating in the way it’s written. It goes back to my point of the constant back and forth, person A goes here and then goes there, and then person B goes here, and then decides a minute later to change locations for some reason or another, usually an upset. I was getting whiplash from all the moving around. And then we get another mystery introduced that hit out of nowhere, about Erin having mysterious marks on her leg? What I don’t understand is if she’s supposedly bonded to someone else, how can she be bonded to Dante? I was under the impression the bond was pretty solid and existed between a fated human and their vampire, but I’m confused even now. Maybe it’s explored in later books.

The story has promise, but I wasn’t inclined to read any more of the series. I feel like the story was dragged on for the purpose of it being longer, at least, that’s what it felt like to me. The cliffhanger was just so epically huge and after reading the first three, nothing felt good about the ending. ‘Read more books to finish the story,’ basically. And I understand how a series works, but in book series I’ve read before, I at least felt some sort of completion at the end of each book. Something was wrapped up in some way, and while in the 3-in-1 version of this book we did get one ‘kind of’ answer to the story (the explanation for the blood bond was also confusing and I felt it could have been explained or worked out better), I’m just so… underwhelmed? I’m not sure. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. If nothing else, I felt bad for the grandfather because he seems to be getting a lot of flack for just wanting to be helpful or keep Dante safe. But Dante? My goodness man, just say something. I understand why you might be stuck in a teenager’s mindset, but speak!

I don’t like writing negative reviews, and this definitely isn’t a bad review per se, but I personally did not like how the book was written or the pacing. I did enjoy what story there was to enjoy to a point, but I wish the author had at least moved things along a bit better and left out the extremely energetic characters’ traveling. If the ending had been more fulfilling in some way and not as confusing, I’d probably have given the story more of a chance. But maybe serials just aren’t my thing.

As always, kudos to the author for writing a story and getting it out there. I’m sure Helen has other wonderful books, and I’m sure many will enjoy this one where I did not.

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Book Review: Hunting Annabelle

Hunting AnnabelleHunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted to expand my reading interests as well as to discover new authors. I was extremely happy I gave this author a chance.

Hunting Annabelle is about a young man named Sean who has a pretty gruesome past, as well as severe mental illness. It’s set back in the 80s in Texas, where he lives with his mother who is a respected doctor. Sean is an avid drawer and people-watcher, and so far he’s managed to stay out of trouble. He hasn’t hurt anyone and he does his best to keep in line, but everything falls apart when he meets Annabelle.

Oh, Annabelle.

But I won’t get into spoilers. The story begins with Sean meeting Annabelle at a popular amusement park, and he hangs out with her and ends up drawing her picture. He’s immediately taken away by her and he falls for her pretty quickly, and she seems to be an interesting and quirky character herself. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Annabelle and we don’t get answers until the end, which is definitely worth waiting for.

The book started to hang a bit near the middle, but the steps Sean takes to find Annabelle after she’s been supposedly kidnapped are necessary to the story. But that’s not to say it becomes uninteresting. We learn so much about Sean and how he tries so hard to fight down the urge to harm other people, and he does fail more than once. He’s an interesting and well thought out character, and I found myself loving him even with his horrible imperfections. I love characters who have quirks, darker moments, and flaws. It makes them feel real — human.

The mystery of the entire book continues to the end where you’re still guessing on what could really be going on. We do get clear answers, and maybe, just maybe the reader will suspect all the wrong people. You most certainly will be surprised, at least I was. I had a very strong emotional reaction to the scenes leading up to the end, and the ending itself made my sick little heart scream with joy.

If you enjoy dark and gritty, even disturbing, romance, then you’ll love this. Wendy has hit the mark with her debut novel, and she’s an excellent writer and storyteller. I will definitely be reading more books from her!

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Book Review: The Little Snake

The Little SnakeThe Little Snake by A.L. Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure where to start or even how to review such an amazing story, but I can try. This is not normally a book I would have picked up, but I wanted to take a chance on something different.

In this very poetic fairytale-like story, we follow with both Mary and Lanmo the snake. Mary’s city seems to be crumbling around her as she gets older, and humans and technology are doing themselves in. Meanwhile, Lanmo, a very magical and special snake, who no human is ever to see unless it’s their time, becomes interested in Mary as a child. They become extremely close friends, and Mary teaches Lanmo, whether or not he realizes it, about what it means to love. This isn’t something Lanmo was ever meant to do.

This story pulled at my heart and the ending left me nearly in tears. With the interesting and unique way Kennedy weaves poetic words throughout the story, she chooses to not reveal a definite end with them. But it’s for the better, and I think when the reader comes to the end, they will know what truly happened.

I haven’t read something so amazing and quirky in a while, and it was refreshing. Kennedy’s love for strangely specific wording and pleasant-to-read run-ons give this book a rhythm solely its own. I’ve already started recommending it to friends, and I am going to definitely recommend it to anyone, of any age who can read it, for something more meaningful. And there is a lot of emotion, meaning, and subtle philosophy about humanity in this book, or so it felt to me.

In short, do yourself a favor and read this!

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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

Excerpt from something new

I woke up after hearing a new song by one of my favorite artists (after the excerpt), and I was instantly inspired in a way I hadn’t been in a while. The song felt so close to home for me, and its vibe was something I just melded with — it was like something that carried the same kind of energy with it that I put into my own art. So, here is a rough draft of the beginnings to a new story. It was also a reason to write Byleth into his favorite era, and it was a chance to step outside of my comfort zone.


Byleth’s adrenalin lit up like fire when he saw the angel.

He watched on as the colorful lights drifted around the room, the patrons all dressed in bell bottoms, hot pants, and large colored glasses. Byleth’s own white platforms drifted across the swirled brown carpet as he did his best to remain inconspicuous. The blue-eyed blond in his sight smiled widely as he conversed with the humans, and he seemed to be favorable to the seductive tones of Jimi Hendrix playing in the background. Something was offered to him that was barely visible, and as Byleth zeroed in on the angel’s pale hand that took it, foolishly, as a gift, he bit his lip to keep from laughing.

The angel placed the tab on his tongue, and it would only be a matter of time.

Byleth took a deep breath and adjusted his large, round tinted glasses before circling around the dancers. A few women in flowery micro-dresses sidled up to him, and he groaned internally for having to pass them by. Something much more important was about to happen — something that would quite possibly change just about everything. The Hellish king politely declined and took his time weaving through the sex and drug-fueled environment.

Just a bit longer.

He finally gave in to a couple coaxing him into a sway, and he joined them with his eyes never leaving the strange man in white at the table in a far corner. The blond’s posture was seeming to relax as it sunk into the chair, and he was running his hand through his hair. It was beginning.

Byleth excused himself and approached the group at the table. “Mind if I steal your friend for a minute?”

“Hey, man! You wanna ball with us?”

Byleth smirked. “Not really, I’m more interested in that one.” He pointed a clawed finger toward the blond who had finally taken in his presence.

“Byleth?” The man in white stood and stumbled as he fell into Byleth, who nearly tripped backward in his attempt to catch the man. “I thought you hated this scene!”

Byleth chuckled and held the man at arm’s length. “A lot changes in a few millennia, Gabriel.” He eyed the angel carefully. “You seriously came down here in that? No wonder these cats are looking at you weird.”

“Cats?” Gabriel’s eyes drifted, and he smiled. “Cats! Yes, there’s an orange one there, and a white one there! Strange…” The angel seemed perplexed. “I was under the impression animals of that variety went without clothing and weren’t capable of playing cards.”

Byleth had to contain his amusement and steered the angel out onto the dance floor. “Come on, you weirdo. We’re going to have some fun with your trippin’ ass.”

“This is fantastic!” Gabriel fell into the sway Byleth had started, the others around them preoccupied in their own haze. His blue eyes were glazed over. “I hadn’t realized this realm was so beautiful. Everything moves like poetry, and humans are so… beautiful.”

“Oh yeah?” Byleth quirked his brow as he dared to take the angel’s hands in his, pulling him close. “What else?” It was as if he were talking to a child.

Gabriel’s attention returned to the fallen angel dancing with him, and something curious came over him. The silence was enough to make Byleth stare at him cautiously, wondering whether Gabriel was about to go into a bad trip. In a matter of seconds, his heart was in his throat and he tensed as he was pulled against the angel’s body.

His red eyes widened as he was being devoured, the angel kissing him like he’d never tasted anything so delicious in his existence. Byleth’s supernatural senses took in the taste of the acid that was consuming Gabriel, and for a moment he allowed himself to connect with the chaotic yet blissful energy invading him. He closed his eyes and fell into the heady atmosphere, and he noticed the angel’s face had become damp with perspiration. So the drug had allowed Gabriel to feel as humans did, which was an interesting side effect for an angel.

Byleth.” The name fell from the angel’s lips in pure ecstasy. “It’s so… warm? Is this what it feels like to be in heat?”

Byleth chuckled as desire dripped from the form in his arms. “If you want to call it that. But I’m not sure if I—” Byleth’s flirtatious tone was interrupted by hands wandering around his white turtle neck. The orange jacket around his shoulders was on the ground in seconds, and Gabriel was leaning into him, taking in his scent. A thin hand snaked up to his collar and tugged it aside, and Byleth felt a rush of air against his neck as the angel breathed deeply.

“You smell so good, Byleth. So good.”

It took every ounce of the fallen king’s willpower to not crumble. Gabriel, God’s messenger and devout son of Heaven, was grinding on him and practically devouring him like an animal, and it was the worst turn-on he never knew he had. It brought to mind memories that were well into the future, of the time Azazel had stolen Gabriel’s form to drag him into a cruel game that left him with the being he was at that moment — the Byleth who reveled in debauched things and had found the ability to love once more. His vacation into the past hadn’t changed any of that, and the 60s seemed to be even more potent for his newest desires.

He gave in to his body’s whims at last, and kissed Gabriel hungrily. There was nothing more that he desired than to corrupt something so innocent, especially when that something was an angel who deserved his revenge.

He’d be a fool not to take this opportunity with fate.

©2019 Shane Blackheart

A Dream Journal Excerpt – My First Sleep Paralysis

I don’t remember any particular sound except for silence.

I don’t even remember the sound of my feet tapping across the floor, although I do remember the floor was a very strange color — like that of dried blood. The walls were white cream and the lights yellow, and all was bathed in a sickening light. In the walls themselves there were no windows, although there were half-moon alcoves peppered throughout the room. They seemed to be a place of rest for those who happened to be wandering about the sick room, which was more of a long hallway than a proper room. I don’t recall seeing any beds, but there was a large space in the middle that wrapped around a desk. There were no nurses or doctors.

Emptiness and quiet.

It was then the realization that this was a place for the infirm — the dying — with the mixture of scents from the sweet, sterile air and the institutional lighting began to frighten me, and I needed to get out of there. I left the sick room, and I remember not much of what else happened of significance that day, except for that afternoon.

I was on the back porch of the second story of the building. There was a white fence surrounding it. I was sitting with a friend who I can’t remember the face or the name. Her hair was black and it was coiled, her skin dark brown, and she was wearing overalls. We were reminiscing about the tour we’d taken earlier that day inside the building.

Inside, there was a large room that served as a conference room. There, we had learned that the man who had founded the very place — a place filled with people who may have well been invisible — had passed away. The time he’d passed wasn’t certain, but it had been a good while ago. In his possession, at the time when he was alive, he’d had a very valuable collection of paintings. This artwork was very abstract, a few of the pictures almost frightening and Hellish.

This collection was, very possibly, haunted by something that did not want the memory of the collector to be remembered. Why this being wouldn’t want the man to be remembered I couldn’t figure out. In fact, I was actually quite skeptical when I’d first heard of it. Interestingly enough, I can’t even remember who told me. I only recall being the single presence in the room. There may have been one other — possibly a man.

I should have taken warning, but I had been a foolish skeptic, and I continued to view these paintings in all of their strangeness. I found them beautiful in their grotesquery because I also felt my mind was dark and grotesque. The images spoke to me in ways I felt only I could understand, and in ways that only this man who had created such a strange place could understand as well. It was saddening that he was gone because I’m sure I could have had many great conversations with him.

Later, as I sat on the balcony with my friend — at least, I called her a friend — we’d set up an easel and she was painting. I wasn’t quite sure what she was painting because she wasn’t looking at anything but leaves; it’s all there was in front of us. Trees with those strange oval-shaped leaves and the ferns that rose higher than the building itself.

We were talking about the strange paintings and the haunt, itself. No one had known what it looked like, but it was known to be nightmarish in appearance. It was then that I realized a noise and it was in the ferns. I listened closely, and I turned to my friend to ask if she’d noticed. She looked at me, seemingly nonplussed, but she had heard something as well. She figured it was only the wind or it was just my mind playing tricks on me as my mind tended to do.

I did discover it was something, and the something was not much of a something at all.

Imagine, if you can, something staring through the bars of that fence adorned in black, its head hooded, and its face wasn’t a face at all, but that of a cow’s skull. Although this skull did have soulless eyes, it was expressive. The bone was very organic and ancient, and it had markings from age. I wasn’t even sure it had any sort of physical body at all.

My friend had gone into hiding when I searched for her. We’d run, but I began to doubt myself. I was crazy, but not so far gone that I would hallucinate something so vividly. It hadn’t helped matters that I didn’t see it for a while after that. It just disappeared.

I was in a large kitchen much later that night, and it was dark as pitch. There were small lights coming in through the windows, and they seemed like street lamps, although there were no streets or lamps on the small island. There was only a large hill through the windows that led down to the ferns, and then where they met the water that surrounded the place.

It was a community kitchen, tiled the same as the sick room beneath it. There were large counters, some in a circular pattern with a stove in the center, some just there holding various kitchen tools and cutlery and appliances. There were no tables nor a dining room. It was all clearest in my mind because that’s where it happened again.

Something was standing there, and I don’t know why, but I had gone to it. I was certain it was male. I felt a pull toward it, and I sunk to my knees and placed my hands on its hips, and when I looked up I saw nothing but darkness.

Blankness.

I rose to my feet and ran. I ran throughout hallway after hallway — I can’t even say what it was anymore. Every door would open only to lead to another hallway that would fade off into darkness. I was trapped. I knew I couldn’t follow the darkness because it would only end up badly for me in the end. Instead, I turned around to face the thing again.


There’s much more to this dream that I’ll be revising later. This is just a small part of it, and doesn’t include the afterward when I described my fight with twilight and awake, and the dark being which I felt a strong allure to that held me down, threatening to never let me wake up again. This was the first sleep paralysis experience I ever remember having, and it happened back in January of 2015 if I dated it right. I plan to fix up a lot of my dream journal entries and compile them into a book of their own.

©2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from original writing: What Lies Beyond

The title is one I thought of back in high school when I originally wrote this story, but I can’t make myself change it. It has a history, as well as it being Lestan and Jack’s personal history. This is just a small bit from it, and it’s one of the many moments in the story where Jack has some self-reflection. It’s appropriate for all audiences.

 


 

The wind rustled through the spirit’s translucent form, his hair unmoving in the breeze. He stared at the moon as if he were seeing every minute detail, its rocky and cold surface beckoning to him as did the vastness of space. He craved the void but only ever crossed into it when necessary. Otherwise, he was afraid he’d become lost and never return. That was not his purpose, and he knew his place and where he had to remain. To leave would be to abandon those wracked with grief due to their own unfortunate passings, and that was something the spirit would never wish upon any creature.

He lifted his hand and a battered, pale heart appeared, the agony contained within reaching a volume that could be heard throughout the cemetery. Every soul he led into the next world left their sorrows with him, and in his heart, he felt the weight of every single one. Hundreds — thousands — of cries and haunting screams rustled the energy around him and the trees swayed with the sheer force of the energy until the spirit withdrew, the heart fizzling out to return to him.

He looked out across the cemetery before drifting off the tombstone he occupied. He didn’t walk often as mortals tended to, but after meeting the vampire earlier that night, he felt the need to think, and to think brought its own kind of melancholy. He’d never spoken to another creature at length. It had been enough to cause his entire existence to pause, but what was even more curious was the vampire’s persistence in wanting to know him. It simply wasn’t the way things were supposed to be, and the spirit felt raw anxiety rising within him, the grass beneath his feet flattening with an ethereal breeze as his energy sparked in the darkness.

A name. The vampire had said something about a name before the spirit vanished. He knew the meaning of them and their importance, but he wasn’t anything important enough in his own mind to be deserving of a name. He was just… there. He existed for his purpose and although he’d put a name to that purpose for the vampire’s sake of understanding, it wasn’t even close to the true meaning. The spirit sighed, a dim, pale blue glow emanating from him as he drifted between the shadows in the cemetery. Speaking with the vampire had brought upon more complications than he had ever wanted to deal with.

Cold stone caressed the spirit’s entire being as he drifted through it, the mausoleum steps just below him as he hovered near the walls. Thin, vine-like branches wound their way through the small and narrow windows in the walls, their tendrils dry and clinging to life as they stretched over the worn surface. Silver strands of moonlight disturbed the peaceful dark and spilled upon the floor where the spirit drifted past, the stone steps leading down introducing a much colder atmosphere than above. Stopping once he was fully below ground, the spirit gazed around the quiet room.

Hollowed out shelves in the stonework lined the walls, their presence barely visible to the naked eye in the purest of darknesses. Although the spirit’s eyes were as black as the void, they allowed him a glimpse into that world that none were able to perceive otherwise. He was as much a part of this darkness as it was of him, and within it, he could see the bones lying neatly and untouched in their respective shrouds. The materials were wrought with decay and their jewels tarnished to never shine again, insects crawling over and between them on their path to devour what was left of the body below it.

It was beautiful.

The spirit drifted over to a body that was much less decayed than the others, the bones jutting out where the flesh had all but dissipated with time. His hand trailed over the skull that was thinly veiled with parchment-like skin, and he pressed his fingers gently into the eyes, his own falling shut as he felt a semblance of something that was once there. A sadness gripped at his chest and he pulled his hand away. These were his true friends and the only ones he could ever allow himself to have. They could not tempt him away from his purpose or claim to give him a name. They’d become just as meaningless as he, their own names lost with the passage of time.

The spirit dropped to the stone floor among the spiders and other insects. The tomb walls behind him brought comfort as he welcomed their frigid chill, and the energy of the ever-changing earth behind them seeped through him. He could hear every breath within the womb of Mother Nature itself as he basked in it, and he closed his eyes once more as he took in the sound. An involuntary thought crossed his mind in that moment.

Perhaps the vampire would enjoy it just as much with him. If not, then all would be understood.

 

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from Untitled original writing

I haven’t thought of a better title for this story yet, as it was converted from a fanfiction. I made the events and characters my own and did a lot of renaming and lots of rewriting. I just had so much fun with the story and it had so much more potential, so I made it my own. The plot was already drastically different than the source, so now it’s just a matter of finishing it.

I’m also really excited because this is the first novel I’ve written with a transman as a main character. Draven is the transman in the story who is a thirty-nine-year-old writer, and he is the guardian of an eighteen-year-old punk of a boy, Lucien, who lost his parents in a car crash a year previous to the story’s events. (I mention ages so readers know all characters are eighteen or older in the context being given, although there is no mature content in this excerpt). Also to note, the picture was chosen because it best reflects Draven’s style and the feel and look of his house.

Here is a scene from the most recent chapter I wrote for it, and I’d safely rate it PG-13 mostly for language, so it’s appropriate for most audiences:

 


Lucien’s fingers slid along the smooth surface of the desk, Draven standing nearby to watch him. He looked up at the man as he remembered his first exploration of the room. There had been a drawer that was locked, and although he’d had other plans with Draven when they’d arrived home from the awkward night at the bar, his curiosities were strong. They’d grown so close in such a short time, so surely the man would divulge his secrets. “Hey, what’s in your locked drawer?”

“How did you know I’d locked one of my drawers?” Draven arched a questioning brow. Lucien chuckled.

“Remember when I snuck in here and caught you doing fun things at your computer?” Draven’s face became a darker shade of red than what it had been from the inebriation. “I, uh…” That old, creeping feeling of doing something wrong and getting caught still loomed over Lucien’s head despite he and Draven’s relationship. He licked his lips nervously. “I might have been going through your stuff.”

“Why would you go against my wishes?” Draven approached the desk, but paused as he realized how stupid it was to say. Lucien had already done much worse than go through his desk.

“I was depressed and in a bad mood. I needed a distraction because mom and dad… a year ago.” Lucien paused and his thoughts became dark. He became rapt in the surface of the desk, tracing the light as it bent across the slick wooden edges. He could hear the muffled cries and the sound of the siren, and he was vaguely aware of the phantom pain in his lower back that bothered him whenever everything came flooding back.

“Lucien?” Draven set his hands on the teenager’s shoulders and shook him gently to bring him back to reality. “Hey, Lucien? Are you with me?”

“What?” Lucien blinked hard a few times before he was able to tear himself away from the grisly memory. It was happening less and less, but any time he was careless enough to mention it, the PTSD symptoms would come crashing over him like a tidal wave. He should have continued his visits with his therapist, but all it had ever done for him was upset him even more. Exposure therapy just pissed him off. He focused on Draven fully. “Sorry. I don’t really feel so good.”

“Perhaps an early night would be best for the both of us?” Draven smiled and petted the teenager’s hair before Lucien knocked his hand away.

“I won’t be able to sleep. I need a distraction.” He returned his focus to the present and glanced down at the desk drawers, his hand drifting over the locked one. “Maybe I’ll feel better if you show me what’s in there.”

“Lucien…” Draven sighed and they stood in silence, just staring into each other’s eyes as if in an unspoken argument. After some time, Draven relented and opened the middle drawer of the desk, fishing through it until he produced a small brass key. “If you’d been more thorough, you’d have found it.”

“I mean, I would have. You just got home too early. Not that I’m complaining.” The teenager smiled slyly as he moved aside. Draven unlocked the drawer with hesitation and paused before pulling it out to reveal a large stack of manuscripts. Lucien’s heart dropped as disappointment washed over him. He’d hoped for something more scandalous or secret, but it had only been some old stories. “That’s it? Why are those locked up?”

“Their… contents aren’t something I’d want others to find.” Draven fell into his office chair and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m not sure if you’ve read any of my books, but they’re more respectable than those.”

“What are they about?” Lucien reached into the drawer and pulled out the top stack of papers that were held together with a large clip. The title page didn’t reveal much, other than an over-the-top unoriginal title that screamed dramatic. He scanned through the first few pages, and then flipped the rest as if they were a flip book, pausing near the middle when a particular scene caught his eye. Lucien’s breath caught in his throat as he remembered the small paper of notes he’d found that day, and it all made sense then.

Draven glanced up at him to see that the teenager was fixated. “I was never comfortable with myself enough to be with many people, so I lived vicariously through my writing.”

“This is hot, though.” Lucien blurted the words as he felt something stir deep in his stomach. The erotica on the pages in his hands was nothing short of flowery smut — the subjects engaged in things that made even Lucien blush. He dropped the manuscript onto the desk and picked up the second, just as transfixed on it as he was the first while skimming through. “And it’s amazing. Why do you care what people think?”

“People know my name, Lucien. If I were to publish something like that, I’d lose all respect.”

“Then those people would be the assholes you ignore. You wouldn’t need them anyway.” The teenager grabbed the third, smiling wide. Draven sighed in frustration.

“You’re young and you aren’t a writer. You wouldn’t understand the intricacies of the publishing world — or the etiquette.”

“So? It’s just words.” Lucien dropped the third manuscript, intent on taking them back to his bedroom to read further. “Aren’t there authors out there who use different names? What if you just changed your name for those books? Can you do that?”

“A pen name?” Draven sunk back into his chair and stared at the stack on the desk, honestly pondering the reality of that situation. It lasted all but a few minutes before Draven shook it out of his mind. “No. I can’t. It’s too embarrassing.”

“More embarrassing than what I do to you?” Lucien flashed Draven his best bedroom eyes and straddled the man’s legs over the chair.

“What you and I do is private. Those wouldn’t be.” The man’s eyes fell shut when Lucien sunk down into his lap and kissed him. He rested his arms around the teenager’s waist and gave no resistance.

“But it would be awesome to let other people see it. Even if they didn’t know it was you.” Lucien’s lips drifted over the Draven’s neck and he nipped at the skin. “Wouldn’t that be hot?”

“I’m not fond of exhibitionism.” Draven hummed with pleasure as Lucien left a bruise on his neck. The teenager rocked his hips forward to gain another beautiful sound from his guardian, and returned his focus to the man’s red eyes.

“Seemed to be cool with it earlier after we left the bar.”

“I wasn’t in my right mind.” Draven’s hands crept higher and up the teenager’s shirt to feel his thin form. “You’re not eating, Lucien.”

“I don’t get hungry.” Lucien’s voice held a tinge of irritation. Although Draven had been all for touching him earlier, he seemed to be deflecting now.

“You’re much too thin.” Draven willed away his desire and leaned back to look into his ward’s eyes. “You’re not doing well. This mess you’ve stumbled into with Grace and I can’t be helping.”

“I’ll tell Grace eventually, okay?” Lucien huffed. “Can we not do this right now?”

“You need to figure this out before it does any more damage to you than it already has. We both know you’re still dealing with other things that aren’t getting better. This is the last thing you need.”

“I’ll be fine!” Lucien slid out of Draven’s lap and grabbed the manuscripts from the desk. “Maybe if you quit this hot and cold shit it’d be easier.”

“I can’t continue this while Grace is oblivious to it. You must realize that this isn’t fair to either of us, Lucien. You can’t just run away from things that aren’t pleasant in life. You have to confront them or they’ll never get better.”

“You should probably stop drinking. You always get weird when you do.”

“Lucien, you must tell Grace.” Draven stood from his chair and approached the office door. “I can see how much she cares for you. Address it however you like, but stop playing these games. You once told me you’d like me to treat you as the grown man you are. Act like it.”

Lucien’s lips parted as if he were ready to argue, but fell silent as he was left alone in the office. Draven had never gotten so angry before — had never spoken to Lucien like he had earlier in the evening. It caused the teenager’s mind to go blank, and he was faced with a side of his guardian that he’d once found amusing in thought, but was hating every bit of now that it was a reality. He’d asked for this, and now he had to deal with it.

Tomorrow he would tell Grace. Maybe.

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

Heart Surgery (original poetry)

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)


Heart Surgery

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.

No.

I will not go today.

(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

Books are immortality