The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.
Yet, it is not ghosts haunting this quaint dusty village.
The true spook of Miners Hill is one Owen Grabbler. A very much alive rambling drunk rancher who wanders over the hill on his horse to talk to them.
“The spirits let me see spirits. Know what I mean?” Grabbler shouted to the ghosts he knew were avoiding him.
Owen stood outside city hall relieving himself into an old dried up fountain. He fumbled with his manhood and a bottle of whiskey with the same hand while his free arm maintained a questionable balance.
A group of frustrated spirits summoned all their energy to give the drunk Grabbler a little push. Maybe face down in the dirt covered in his own urine would teach him a lesson.
The horror they must have felt when a sharp rock hidden just below the soft dust at the bottom of the fountain made Owen Grabbler their newest permanent resident.
Danny Machal May 27th, 2015
Posted In: Mondays Finish the Story
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while waiting for Jeff over at GreatHites to get it in the podcast. Now that it’s in, I can post it here. 1984 meets clockwork orange is the tale I’ve written. Complete with my own butchered accents if you listen to it. Enjoy.
(about 1500 words)
“Eh, where you at mate?” Logan snapped his fingers. “Didn’t you hear me?”
“Hear you when?” I said.
“Just now? Here you are, off on some distant planet. Here I am,
spillin’ me bloody guts out about me mum. All the while your off
rodgerin’ in some dream world with lord only knows what.”
“Sorry mate. Just kinda spaced out ya’ know?” I wasn’t that sorry.
Whenever Logan was drunk, the first, second, third, and last subject
he ever talked about was his ruddy mother. He would go on about how
she secretly wished for the Reconstruction to fail, or how she wasn’t
treatin’ his dad fair, an gettin’ round to the other toms on the
block. She was a right fair git don’t get me wrong, but a bloke can
only be told the same tale so many times. Besides, if Logan knew what
I knew through me dad, about the Reconstruction, he’d join his ruddy
ole mum and burn flags.
“Eh, you’re hopeless mate ya’ know that?” Logan said brushing the
golden shoulder length hair from his eyes.
I spaced out again. It’s getting time to head to our respective
lofts over on third street anyway. We both live in the same men’s
dorm. I’m not sure he’s going quietly or if he can even walk. He
isn’t that much bigger than me, but we are both fairly short stout
blokes. I’m fortunate to be a little more firm in the sinew than he
is though, so I can muscle him about if it comes to it.
It came to it only once before it did. Some tom gets spouting off
about how the lass Logan was seeing is getting round. Naturally this
strikes a chord with my hot tempered friend and he sees fit to break a
beer bottle on the bar. Grabs the bloke by his arm and starts slicing
at his chest, all barbarian like. I nearly broke his arm myself
getting him out of there. Of course I took a slice to the arm while
trying to save him from arrest. Bloody F5 Agents are crawling the
streets these days just looking for a good reason to send a young
bloke to a labor camp. He looked alright tonight though. As long as
we don’t run into any rebel Chavs looking to challenge her royal
Majesty’s new glorious way of living, we should be just fine. Those
Chavs got it right if you ask me.
“But ya’ aren’t askin’ me, are ya’ mate?” I said to Logan.
“Ashkin’ you wha’? Logan slurred.
“That’s all I needed, let’s go mate. Your mum’ll be expectin’ a call
that we got to the dorm safe.”
“Aye, Darren, so ish’ be. Le’sh get on with it.” Logan stood up and
started for the door. He’s walking straight tonight. This is a good
sign. We should make it back without incident. He stopped at the
door before opening it, wiggled his arms behind himself and into his
blue jumpsuit. He zipped up the front, covering the yellow work shirt
and puffing out his chest to expose the embroidered image of her
Majesty on his left breast. Bound for a warm room and a soft bed, we
set off into the icy night air.
Three blocks is all we had to make it. Three bloody blocks, but no.
Logan catches a glint of something gold in the only eye he has managed
to keep open. Turns out the gold glint is the toggle on the vest of
some Chav. A Chav spray painting a big ol’ red X on the Queens vide
in the middle of some off shoot alleyway. There she sits, smiling in
all her glory, and some Freedom Fighting Chav comes along to tag her
like a game of political bingo. This strikes a chord with my hot
tempered friend. He decides it’s time to teach this Chav a lesson.
“I’ma crush his vide in with my royal lovin’ boot Darren I am. You’s
The idea of fighting seemed to sober him up right quick. I’ll stay
out of it because I know just as well as that Chav does, it is illegal
to deface an image of her Majesty, caught by the wrong people and you
will pay the price. She has worked so hard in the Reconstruction.
Bared so much of the burden, she is our personal Jesus she is.
Logan seemed right sober on the physical like, but in the head – he
is drunk enough to send me to the F5 Court himself for showin’
sympathy to a Chav, or even acknowledging that he might not be as well
pissin’ in her royal soup as to raise that spray can. Like it
mattered, we were all headed somewhere if the F5 caught wind of the
disturbance. Either way, I had to say something.
“Go easy on em’, eh? He’s just a young tom not knowin’ what he really
thinks. Bloody parents are probably activists.” This struck a chord
with my hot tempered friend on account of his mum.
“Bullocks Darren,” he glared at me and that was that.
Logan started off down the alley. The gas lamps behind him created a
ten meter shadow monster moving toward this Chav, but the Chav stands
there smiling, vide to vide with Logan. Like he isn’t scared. Two
paces out and Logan has stopped. He is eyeing the Chav deciding the
best way to make him understand how important it is to never shat on
her Majesty’s image. Four more Chavs emerge from the shadows and
charge at Logan pouncing in the air. Their boot heels point at his
chest. He is quick to the reflex and grabs a Chav in mid air like.
The lad’s body is deflected straight into the bricks, he hits his vide
and lights out. One Chav down, four to go, or maybe three. The
original grinning bloke still stands in the back. Hasn’t moved an
inch he hasn’t. Just what is he playing at?
The other three set to work on Logan getting him on the ground.
Boots are busting him in the ribs, about the vide, and pulling at his
queer inviting hair.
Looks like he might have the upper hand now. You see, Logan isn’t
feeling any pain, just throwing punches. Every time he lands one and
hears a Chav yelp he is renewed in spirit. Looks like he’s holding
his own, I’ll keep watch for the F5. Fights are good for wearing
blokes out right quick like.
I look out the alley entrance in both directions, and see nothing but
steaming drains. I hear the growl of Logan but with a high pitched
flavor. I look back and the original Chav has got himself a broken
steel pipe he has. He’s getting to work on Logan’s vide and I see my
mates blood start to stain the street – he goes limp. I start running
The main Chav takes the jaggy end of his steel and puts it to Logan’s
throat. Prepared to shiv him in the neck and send him to Charon.
“Eh, easy mate,” I said, stopping and holding out my hands.
“You don’t want to be doing that.”
“Oh aye, I think I do. You two toms can lick the royal Queen’s bum
all ya’ want. Tis a bad day in the Isles when a young bloke can’t
stand up for what he thinks is good an decent. Not without getting
the Queen’s blind hounds trying to stomp him and his mates,” he said.
“Look mate, I know where ya’ comin’ from, but I tell ya’ this just
isn’t the way. He’s drunk and just got a temper is all. Now let’s
just part ways, you drag your mate and I’ll drag mine, before we all
end up in the F5’s mitts,” I pleaded.
This Chav is ready to make this his defining moment in the
resistance. He was going to make my mate a martyr, and himself a
legend, I could see it in his eyes. There was nothing I could do.
He raised his arms and the jaggy steel cast a claw like shadow on
Logan’s swollen vide. Light flooded the alley from both ends.
“Bleeding Christ it’s F5,” the Chav shouted. He dropped the steel
and the four ran toward the alley exit closest; hoping for an opening
to give the Agents the slip.
An Agent stepped into the light wearing a black jumpsuit. His chest
puffed out and the Queen’s embroidered vide on his breast displayed
his allegiance. He gripped the chrome metal baton firmly in his hand,
which according to him, was just an extension of her Majesty’s own
arm. The Chavs sprinted at him and split off in pairs, as to rush
past on either side.
“Evening lads,” he shouted.
In a right quick automatic reflex, he turned that baton all
horizontal like. The ends extended and anchored into the brick walls
of the alley. The Chavs all ran into it, hitting in the vide or the
throat, knocking them to the street.
“Four rebel Chavs walk into her Majesty’s bar,” he laughs.
As they lay gasping or clutching their vide with blood inking through
their fingers, he goes to work on them with the retracted baton. An
Agent takes my arm from behind.
“Lets go, worker,” he says to me. I move toward Logan and his grip tightens.
“…but my mate, what about my mate?…Logan,” says I.
I struggle and turn back to look at the Agent. I see the reflection
of my own vide. The eyes stare back at me. In that split second I
remember everything. Everything that led to this moment. How they
came to power, how it all happened: the Queen, her Agents, the
Reconstruction, the dorms, the Rebel Chavs, the work camps, and my
Danny Machal July 1st, 2009
Chapter 4: Plymouth rock blues.
Beep Beep Beep!
Remy blinked his eyes, ‘What the hell did I drink last night? My head hurts like hell.’
He looked up at the starry night sky in the moments between full consciousness and sleep. Then he felt the weight on his chest and the memory came rushing back to him.
Beep Beep Beep!
The microwave sat square on his chest, but it felt heavier somehow. He slid out from under it and laid it to rest on the ground next to him.
‘Hell of a price to pay for a good meal. You are a heavy son of a bitch.’
Danny Machal May 7th, 2009
When it comes down to story structure there are two schools of thought: planning out the major plot points and filling in the blanks or, starting with a blank paper/screen and winging it. As a new writer I’m still trying to discover the only consistent advice (if you can call it that) I ever hear, “find what works for you.” I don’t think that finding what works for you is something that can be done blindly, life is just too complicated and time is too scarce. I have tried both methods, and right now I’m leaning toward the “just go for it” way of things. Mainly because I still haven’t truly discovered a subject matter that I can write about on a regular basis and not get bored with. On some bigger projects I have stuck with (novel) outlining has saved me from sitting in the windless sea of writer’s block.
There was an assignment in my writing class (now over) that involved outlining. I took advantage of it and outlined my novel. Just by sitting down and figuring out what happens next worked wonders. I didn’t have to write chapters only to scrap them later, just a couple sentences about each sequence of events. You can experiment with your stories very quickly this way, and in large projects that is what I will need to do. When I become a successful writer and have to work with a deadline, outlines are going to save me much wasted time in throwing out chunks of precious word count. I take a different approach to short fiction, you need to explore ideas to their fullest before they are tossed.
Just the other day I opened up my word processor and I waited, just staring at the screen. I imagine my brain like a scrolling marquee of ideas. After watching the ticker for a bit I just picked one and wrote it. I was able to expand off of this and got about a 1000 words during a lunch break. I like the story and I plan on keeping it fairly short (2000 words max I think). This method of “winging it” has worked but also failed. The Las Vegas story I scrapped last weekend was a wing it session. I explored some ideas to maturation and they just didn’t work.
So do you outline or do you wing it? That is your question to answer. I can only speak for myself. What works for me is outlining the big ones and winging the short ones. If you are not even pondering this sort of thing try what I am trying. If it doesn’t work then try something else. The simple fact that you trying anything at all sets you apart from all the other people out there who stop at the “want to” portion of their writing career.
Danny Machal April 10th, 2009
Early today I went over the list of things I needed to do tonight (yes I make lists). I have several different activities on this list that are 100% geared toward writing and getting the brain exercised. I noticed that I had overlooked a deadline for a weekly writing contest that I wanted to take a stab at, it is TONIGHT!
*panic! gasps for air! WHIZ! BANG! POP!*
Normally in a given day I have about 10,000 ideas that I can pull from thin air. If I’m given a prompt to write from I can easily generate all sorts of ideas for the criteria. However tonight I’m drawing blanks and just can’t seem to get past a couple sentences before I run out of gas. I think maybe my brain is just fried. Anyone who knows me or can read the top part of this website knows I have been hitting the words pretty hard lately (everyday for hours), and I just need a break.
I can’t think anymore and I’m struggling to even finish this post. I’m taking the night off unless by some miracle that one great idea comes to me but I doubt it will.
Danny Machal February 17th, 2009