Blood Soaked and Gone

I turned in the edited manuscript for Blood Soaked and Gone today. It contains a dedication that the original version didn’t have. I wanted to post it here, too.

I’m dedicating this book to my popgun, Elise.

Sometimes a friend becomes a sibling. Elise Soroka was like my wayward, fey older sister. She was an inspiration to me in many ways, not the least of which was following my love of fine art.

We drifted apart, as family members often do, and reconnected in much the same way: unexpectedly. It was grand!

You’ll notice if you read Blood Soaked and Invaded, I named a gun after her. Why? She was tiny, fast moving, and never failed to impact my life. I don’t think she ever knew how much.

About the same time that my editor returned this manuscript to me, she passed away. Her liver failed, and she nearly died. A transplant opportunity materialized as if by magic, and she endured the surgery, something the doctors hadn’t really expected, and started to thrive.

She contracted a post-op fungal infection and it spread through her like wildfire. Before I knew it, before I’d been able to see her, she died.

I never told her that her alter ego in my books is a gun. She would have laughed and punched me in the arm.

I miss her, love her, and will never forget her.

Two are home, but not here

The past two weeks have been a little insane, at least from the perspective of tragic events. Two weeks ago, a friend of mine from college, George Jamison, was shot and killed during a robbery attempt. Last week, a childhood friend, Elise Soroka, succumbed to a post-op infection, after a successful liver transplant.

How do you even approach things like these? The first is blind chance, and senseless violence. The second is blind chance, and infection.

In fiction, we can use time travel, and any one of thousands of tropes, to cope with death. We stop it. We start it. We rewind it and spin it in different directions. As authors, we live in worlds of our own creation and control… sometimes until real life pulls us out of the happy grass shack.

I will not be so bold as to tell you what to believe, or suggest a personal spirituality that might fit you; that would be presumptuous. I will share that my own spiritual journey has more switchbacks than unpaved country roads… even more reason not to get up in yours. There seem to be just a few things that ring true across the world, and I work to hold to those things. Love one another, because life is better that way. This world is not our end.

We grieve because we hurt. Honestly, it is a selfish thing, because there’s nothing that our loved one needs now. We grieve, and have such a hard time rejoicing.

A New Orleans style funeral.

An Irish wake.

In the old days, someone who passed away was seen as being freed from the sour dross of mortal life. The toil of work would never touch them. Hunger would never cramp their bellies. A taskmaster’s lash would only strike empty air.

The dead were the lucky ones.

My friends have died, lucky to be relieved of the lash, and I am still here. Their transition to whatever comes next leads me to grief, but it also leads me to praise them, hold a kind of joy that they were in my life in the first place, and hope.

Why hope?

If there is a heaven, I will see them again. If there is a great oneness that we all return to, it will remember that we were us, and we will be one again, as we once were. Should we reincarnate, our paths may cross again, and some spark might bring us together… even closer than we were the last time around.

What if there’s nothing after we die?

The shocking truth of nature is that you and I are the stuff that the universe is made of. I may never know who reads this, but at one time, your atoms and my atoms exploded into being…we either emerged from nothing together, or we emerged from a place where EVERYTHING was ONE.

Atoms, those cheerful building blocks, don’t stop when we die. They go on. They merge into other things, transform, dance, create… and in an infinite universe, of infinite possibilities… may meet again.

Elise, George, let’s meet again, and dance in the hearts of stars.

Apparently there’s some kind of Treasure Hunt going on

Two people have requested a 140 word, or less, Sci-fi, story from me, because I’m a published author. I did it, because it looked like fun, and thought I’d post them here. Do not use these if you’re involved in this activity. I will find out, and my wrath will be, horrible threats of gastric activity.

So, here’s #1

“The Queen’s Pleasure”

-James Crawford, 2014

“Your Majesty, may I present the first cybernetic Elopus in the cosmos!”

The Queen of England, Misha Collins, was aghast at the creeping horror that undulated across the stage. “Doctor Rittenhaus-Benchley, why, in the name of all that’s holy, did you do such a thing to an innocent Elopus?”

The Doctor, titular head of the Royal Academy of Advanced Cybernetic Science, stared at his Majesty, and felt the creeping hand of doom crawling up his leg. He was surprised when she addressed the animal directly.

“You poor thing! We are so very sorry you were treated this way. We cannot make it right for you, but we can be sure that no such thing happens again.” She turned to him, “It is our pleasure that you be marooned on the penal asteroid for your crimes against sentient creatures.”

Doom had arrived, indeed.

#2

“A Gift from Jeebus”

-James Crawford

“Good Heavens! What is that thing? We have never seen anything of that sort before!” Misha, the Queen of England exclaimed, ruffling her feathers.

“Your Majesty, it is an Elopus, half elephant, half octopus.” The Prime Minster explained. “It is a gift from the High Oat of the planet Jeebus, apparently sourced from the royal stables.”

“Gracious me! What do the Jeebians use them for?”

“They ride them Mum. They ride them.”

“Do you hear that, Clive?” Queen Misha asked.

“Is it the bubbly tooting, M’Lady?”

“Indeed!”

“It is the call of the male Elopus, calling for a mate or a spin around the Buckingham Palace Royal Aquatic Gardens.” Clive enlightened the Queen.

“Blublubluhonk! Blublubluhonk! Blublubluhonk!”

“My Queen, now is a good time to take cover!”

“Whatever for, Clive?”

“The Elopus is angry, and will likely kill us all.”