Call Yourself Men?

Slit the flesh,
Strip the skin,
Snap the bone,
Suck up the marrow.

Call yourself men?
You’re nothing but blood and gore.

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WTF!?!?

GunsWhat the fuck! It was the only thing he could think, on a loop. What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck. He could barely see where he was going. the world around him blurred and cloudy. He blinked hard, yet this did nothing to help, only producing a speckle of bright white spots.

He was running: that was one of the two things he was sure about. That and that who he was running from was trying to shoot him. There was shouting from behind him, men yelling incoherently and gun fire. He remembered gun fire. He remembered causing it.

He didn’t want to die. But what did he want? Fuck if he knew. The world around him was still blurred into streaks of light and dark greys as he raced past. The world twisted and caved in on itself like crashing waves. He slammed into a wall, unable to stop in time, his head banged hard against the corner bricks.

A bullet clipped the back of his neck and planted itself in the wall with a phut. He started running again, with blood dripping down his ear.

The world was now darker; a claustrophobic sense fell upon him. It wasn’t until the world brighten again, did he make the realise he had been in an alleyway. He didn’t think he’d been this confused beforehand. But he didn’t remember what had been occurring beforehand. Nothing. He tried to think back, strain and reach back in his mind. The world turned white as he tried to think of anything.

He shook his head. What had happened? Where was he? Who was he? That question scared him more than any other. He should remember who he was, and he knew that at one point he had been someone, he just couldn’t think who he had been. Come on, what the fuck! How could he not know who he was? He was him! Who was him?

He shook his head more violently, the grey world turned ninety degrees and hit him in the chest. His body started flying up the floating pavement, his hair being torn, his palms scraping against it as he tried to cling on as he was taken off his feet. He clung tightly to the floor as he hovered for a few second before the wall righted itself and he slumped ungracefully on the hot tarmac. He closed his eyes, the blankness in his head making the sounds around him ear-achingly loud.

From the sound of people, chatting and yelling, he could tell he was on a crowded street. People muttered as he lay on the ground. This wasn’t normal, he knew that deep inside, they didn’t like what he was doing. He didn’t care, he was too exhausted from- there was no gun fire. He pushed himself up quickly, making a woman behind him shout and swear at him. He turned around, staring up at the sky, but he couldn’t see shit. But he definitely couldn’t hear anything and given how long he’d been staying still they would have shot him by now. So where had they gone? Who the hell had they even been?

“Excuse me?” a sharp voice snapped.

He looked down at the small woman glaring at him. When he didn’t move she pushed past him. He wobbled over to the nearby wall and slid down it, panting. What the fuck! What. The. Fuck. He hugged his knees as he sat on the hot and sticky ground, still trying to catch his breath. They must have stop shooting given the amount of people.

He sat more comfortably on the ground, cross legged. If he stayed here, he’d be safe from them, whoever they were. He rubbed his eyes, pain gathering behind them. Had he hit his head? Was that why he couldn’t remember anything? He couldn’t remember doing that. Well he couldn’t remember anything.

“Excuse me,” this voice was gentler and deeper than the other one. He looked up and blinked, a man wearing thin black glasses was hunched over him. Did he know him? Did he know anyone? He must, it would be silly not to know anyone. And yet…

“You’re bleeding,” the hunched over man said thickly, gesturing to the side of his face where the blood was running down. He touched his cheek with his left hand. It came up wet.

He swallowed finally speaking, “I…I don’t…I don’t know where I am. Who…somethings happened,” he stumbled over his words as if he had not spoken in years. For all he knew that could be the case. The man standing over him straightened up then slowly looked round before nodding. He pulled a large plastic device from his purple suit. He burrowed his eyebrows, purple seemed wrong to wear. How could he remember fashion tips and not his own name? The man was speaking into the device, yes that seemed right, he remembered others doing that. He suddenly felt wary.

“W-what are you doing?”

“I’m calling you an ambulance, you look hurt,”

No shit. It wasn’t at all like blood was running down his face.

“What’s an ambulance?” he asked, the purple suited man just shook his head, smiling quickly, before continuing to talk to himself.

The ambulance, it turned out, was a van with loud and flashing blue lights that made him jump up in fear until the man told him it was alright. He also had to be assured by the man when two green suited men tried to put him in the van.

He didn’t want to be left alone with them. Still when the doors were shut, and they set off the men did was wipe his face clean and ask him questions. None of them he knew the answer to anyway; What was his name? Where did he live? Did he have any family? Any close friends? He just shook his head to each of the questions.

“Well if you can’t tell us anything then-”

It wasn’t like the other gun shots. It came from under the truck and was louder. It shook the van taking it off their wheels. The equipment littering the shelves above him scattering to the floor but as the van tipped the bottles and bandages floated mid-air along with the two men who had been helping him. As they screamed in terror, he clutched onto the shelf above him as the van continue to spin. He was flung from side to side, his legs being slammed repeated into the side of the bed he had just been sitting on, the men toppling around him their pained moans echoing with the crushing metal as the van fell. Finally, it came to a screeching halt and shook once more making him fall onto his already bruised legs. He bit his lip and looked at the devastated inside of the ambulance. It was smaller now, the walls bent inwards. Bottles of medicines had burst open, the tablets littering the floor and the stench of chemicals filled the air.

The two green suited men were leant up against the walls as he was, only they were covered in a lot more blood. Behind him he heard another gun shot. He sat straighter, though his legs still hurt. They had shot the driver, whoever they were.

He stumbled to his feet as the doors were kicked open. These men were wearing black, just like him, though had a mask covering their faces. The one that stepped through the door looked familiar, despite his face being covered. Though it was hard to trust a man who was holding a gun.

“Help,” one of the ambulance crew said feebly.

For one moment he thought these black masked gun wielding men were here to help. The thought was put to rest when the masked man shot the green suited guy in the head, his chin lolling on his chest with a final groan. The masked man walked over to the other paramedic who was unconscious, blood dripping from his nose pooling as dark red in between his lips. He watched wide eyed as the masked figure shot him as well. He fisted his left hand, slowly standing up.

“Ah so you can walk.”

He froze, pressing his back against the wall, “who are you?”

“A friend.”

He looked down at the bodies.

“Hey if you can walk out of here, then I won’t have to shoot you.”

“Some friend.”

The man just shrugged. He stayed by the wall, some part of him believe that he could easily defeat the man, something told him he knew a bit about fighting. But he couldn’t remember if that was true or not. He was also outnumbered and out gunned three to one. The masked man raised his gun, and he put his hands up to surrender, shuffling as best he could past the bodies. The two men outside also aimed at him, yet when neither of them shot he thought they might be keeping their word.

Why did he always have to be wrong? He felt a sharp pinch in his neck and in panic swung his arm at the man behind him. But he hardly got through the movement before his arm felt twice as heavy and he stumbled to the side under its weight, falling, his bruised knees colliding with the deserted roads. He started panting, the air feeling thicker. The fucker had done something to him, God fucking dammit, what the fuck was going on? He was so tired, but something would happen if he closed his eyes, he had no fucking clue what, but something.

“Wait,” he mumbled his lips feeling numb and thick, “who am I? What are you?”

Their only reply was to tightly grab his aching limbs and practically dragged him away, refusing to answer his persistent, yet quieter questions before he was forced asleep. What dickheads.

Just Pain in a Book: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson Review

well of ascension

Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

***

When I review books, I like to make notes as I go so I don’t forget anything that comes to mind. One of my early notes was a simple prediction: ‘this isn’t going to end well.’ And quite frankly that summarises my entire feelings towards Well of Ascension. That is not to say it wasn’t a brilliant reading, in some ways much better than the first book. Actually one of the problems I had with this book is the fact I didn’t get to write many notes because I was so busy just being glued to my kindle, telling myself, one more chapter, one more chapter.

From page one, we are back to the races, set a year after Keliser’s and the Lord Ruler’s deaths with Elend as King. And for a while I was worried this sequel was going to be a straight forward fantasy, (not that I would have really minded), but it becomes clear that Well of Ascension doesn’t forget its roots and we get back to the cunning politics and devious people. Because really that is what Final Empire was about, it had fantasy elements but it was about politics and rebellions with magic just happening to also exist. Which is what this book is too, it may well include the end of days but its really about how the Kingdom will survive.

While W of A carries over the same elements of Final Empire, it is not the same book and definitely feels like a continuation rather than a repeat. There are new character interactions that obviously, given the society in Final Empire, could never have interacted and it’s great to see these people bounce off each other in a way we’ve never seen before.

But the best thing about this book is definitely the fact I had no idea where it was headed. Usually I have a vague idea about how a book will end and where the characters are going, (I did with Final Empire), but honestly, all of my predictions were horribly wrong. In a good way though, I probably don’t read enough outside the YA genre to have read enough books with an unhappy ending. But to me it felt bold, how many bad things just keep battering our main characters down. And then when you think it’s all going swell-OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT MORE BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

‘Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.’

~Ah the story of my life

The Good

Like I said, the book feels like a continuation and the characters feel the same, Vin especially. She is still very insecure after her life on the streets but she’s maturing and learning still, which is great (mostly) to read about. She, along with the rest of the crew are bitter for Kel’s death, still feeling its effects a year on and even though he is dead, what he did is never forgotten both the good and bad, given he’s left this horrible mess for them to fix. Yeah the Lord Ruler was evil but there was infrastructure and patrols to police bandits and now all of that is gone and it’s Kel’s fault.

The chapters are shorter which I’m grateful for, I prefer being able to have the option to read in smaller chunks.

The villains are perfect, we have quite a few and we’ll talk about Zane later but both Lord Cett and Straff are excellent in different ways. Straff is just a dick and unforgivably evil, it makes him easy to hate and I like that, I’ve read about too many complicated villains with a soul, it’s refreshing to see a straight forward bad guy. Cett definitely takes a more active antagonist role and is actually really fun to hear talk, he’s very blunt and doesn’t have any illusions about himself. I wish we had more time with the council Elend sets up, there are clearly enemies and internal battles going on there that we don’t get to see, but what we do see I like.

Anything else…oh yes, Spook continues to be the best character ever.

‘”I killed their God,” Vin said quietly […]

“I helped too,” Spook said, “I even got my nickname from Kelsier himself! But nobody cares about poor little Spook.”’

~Never change Spook, never change

The Bad

Once again, I had no idea what the hell was going on in any of the fight scenes. And given this book is like two thirds fighting and death, it becomes tiring and I end up glazing over swaths of chapters.

But that really doesn’t matter compared to ZANE. Let me take you on my journey with Zane. Almost immediately I had the niggling sensation of a love triangle between him, Vin and Elend. And I thought Vin would be better than that…BOY WAS I WRONG. I just couldn’t work out why Vin liked Zane AT ALL, he clearly is evil. And yet I had to sit through Vin pining between Zane and Elend, while Elend just sat there telling her he supported her no matter what…you’re a bitch Vin. Seriously, Elend, THE PERFECT MAN, is right there and Vin seems unable to communicate any of her thoughts to him in a way that makes Vin seem so stupid despite how wary and clever she is in the rest of the book. Also, without spoiling anything, the twist with Zane is just jarring and clearly done for shock value. But in the end all of this is for the good, Vin and Elend come out of it stronger than ever before, and after thinking about it, I enjoyed the turmoil Vin went through for the outcome.

‘He found insanity no excuse, however, for irrational behavior.’

~Tell that to Vin, Zane

And the Ugly

So as I started in this review, this book isn’t one I’d describe as happy and the pain I went through for these characters is both horrifying and amazing. I love watching characters not succeed, or rather I prefer my books with high conflict and stakes. This isn’t the kind of book where the characters can avoid every shot thrown at them. But still the amount of characters who die or are severely changed by what happens shocks me. Literally ‘had to put down the book and walk away’ shocked. But everyone who dies, dies for a reason, no one is made just to be killed like so many often are. Even those who live on with the terrible consequences, it’s all for the sake of character development, even if it kills me a little inside.

(At least Spook doesn’t die, that’s all that matters).

Famously

Interrogation Room

The woman spat blood to the floor, the tears now falling much heavier down her face. Her shoulders heaved once again as sobs shook her head and the creak of rope strained against her.

The blond man shook out his hand, hissing as he did.

“She’s got a tough face,” he noted to his black haired companion. The red head was now drooling pink spit falling to her blouse as she continued to sob.

“I don’t know what you want from me! I’m not Hiza.”

“Of course not,” the Black-Haired Man said, his voice dull and grey. He sighed and folded his arms across his chest, “hit her again,” he said in the same tone.

The Blond Man sighed as well but stepped towards the Red Head again.

She screamed, what little movement her legs had she used to try and push herself away from the two men. It didn’t work, and his fist fell with a dull thud. The Red Head sniffled.

“I’m not Hiza!”

“Sure.”

“Do I even look like them!?”

The Blond Man joined his companion with his arms folded.

“Well famously no one knows what Hiza looks like.”

The Black-Haired Man let out a long sigh.

“Well why do you think I am them!?”

The two men looked at each other, at the sight of his partner’s arms the Black-Haired man shook his arms out.

“We have good information that you are Hiza.”

“No, I’m not I’m Caroline Hansen.”

The woman’s sobs became louder, crying into her chest. The two men stood frozen for a minute,  making the woman rock in the chair, her sobs becoming screams.

“…As in Fredrick Hansen’s daughter?”

She sniffed, “you know my father? He’ll kill you when he finds out what you did to me? He’ll break every bone in your body! He’ll burn you alive.”

The men looked at each other for a long time.

“If he finds out,” the Blond Man repeated.

The Black Haired man nodded and drew his gun.

 

You couldn’t have waited?

Wedding Cake

Samantha beamed at her groom though she wasn’t really paying him any attention. She was smiling for how perfect the day was going. Her train was being held by her beautiful niece and her dress were dazzling white. Her hair was curled, her makeup was flawless. Everything was prefect. Even the groom was, a twenty-five hunk with an oil baron father, days from dying. She smiled for the crowd who was simpering as the groom read his vows. She dabbed the corners of her eyes. She wasn’t listening to what he was saying but didn’t matter really. He just needed to say his and then she’d say hers and then they’d be flying to the Bahamas.

The church doors opened and at first Samantha paid no attention to the screams from the aisle, they had been very over dramatic all day. Only when the gunshots started did she scream herself, pushing the groom away as she dived. Everything happened in slow motion and Samantha was able to turn just in time to see her groom riddled with bullets, ruining his three-piece suit with his blood. She sobbed as the vicar fell gracelessly across him. She had been so close. The bullet storm still streamed overhead, but she could see the cloak room from where she was. If she could just crawl unnoticed to it…maybe she could see what the law said about marrying a dead man. She slipped when she took her first step, biting her red lipstick in pain. She turned over, her whiten dress was now stained by blood.

“Shit,” she hissed. The shooting had quietened though the screaming had not. Samantha held her blood stained dress and looked across at the groom. He wasn’t moving, deathly still. She sniffed and sobbed again. So close. Heavy footsteps approached her, and she groaned and rolled her eyes as the shooter came into view.

He was masked and held the gun to her head, still all she did was exasperatedly mutter, “You couldn’t have waited until he said I do.”

 

Writing Tip: 185#

[Robbie Blair on his Writing Space] My walls have humorous posters about commonly misspelled words, how to use semicolons, and when to use i.e. or e.g. in a sentence. I do this because I want to make myself comfortable, but also because I want to remind myself that writing is what this space is for.

-Robbie Blair

Raindrops

Rain

The sky fills with clouds and the pattering is gentle.

The tiny dancers turn the leaves,

Until they tap their beat into the ground.

The sky darkens, and the soldiers come.

The army tears the leaves and bark from their homes,

And storm them to the dampen floor.

 

They retreat, the sky is filled with sunlight.

The rain dries and returns to home,

The cloud march on for new land.