A Week in the Life of a Writer

I want to try something different. A sort of stream-of-consciousness thing. Mental notes from a writer in the process of the first draft of a novel.

This might be a huge mess. But I’ve had a couple of new followers lately, so I thought I should do something to let you guys into my world.

It’s Friday, January 25th. I’m at the end of a stressful week.

I’m a freelance writer by day, so I’m pretty much writing every minute I’m awake. This week, I worked harder and made less money than I have in a while, which is always fun. That’s the way it goes, sometimes. Freelancing is a hunt, and on a hunt, you don’t always end up with a meal.

The novel is going well. It doesn’t have a name yet. I keep getting an instinct to hold off. This book is a rewrite of a story I started years ago, but many of the scenes are new. Piecing it all together has been hard. I’ve been working on it since I got back from Bali. It’s almost twice the length of BEYOND MY DYING MIND, which I guess gives it full “novel” status as of now. I prefer to write novellas, so we’ll see how much this one changes as it develops.

It’s Saturday now. January 26th. I was determined for this to be a mental-health day. I’ve been struggling with the negative mindset lately. I think it’s work stress. But today was a good day. I meditated, exercised, and went for a long drive. It was nice, despite that my car is old, lacking a radio, and always causing me a low level of terror that it might break down at any time. The grass was bright green in the fields after all the rain we’ve had. California is so beautiful.

The lock is broken on the driver’s side door of my car, so I maneuver in through the passenger seat. I like the challenge.

More meditation tomorrow. More writing tonight.

It’s 1:51 a.m. on and Sunday, January 27th, and I’ve completed my first draft!

I’m so relieved I can move ahead with my normal rewriting process now. The first draft is the hardest part, and none of the magic even begins to happen until somewhere in rewrite four, usually. I’m getting there.

I’ve been staying away from social media lately. I needed a detox. Although, I’m still looking at Instagram, but my feed there is mostly yoga routines and pictures of the Alps. Maybe I should stop scrolling there, too.

The thing about stepping away from this stuff is you create silence in your life, and then you realize how loud everything was before. You get used to this new level of peace, and it becomes harder to reintegrate. But maybe reintegration isn’t what I want. Maybe I need to walk through a silent world until I find something new.

I meditated today.

I get into the headspace faster now. Some days are easier than others, but no matter how “well it goes”, it always does me good. I sometimes convince myself I’m too busy, which is stupid. I stopped meditating for a few weeks due to work stress and feeling overwhelmed, and it was such a mistake. I felt myself begin to revert to the negative, depressed person I used to be as the days went by.

I commit to meditation. Exercise is so important too. I did two workouts today.

And now for another thing that keeps me sane: writing. Second draft. Here goes nothing.

It’s Monday, January 28th, and I’m hard at work on rewrite two. I’m putting heart into this story, weaving memories with fiction. I’ve never wanted to share too many of my real-life paranormal stories with the world. It feels too personal. Being able to explain aspects of my experiences through fiction is a pretty amazing gift.

I have a dream of becoming multilingual and being able to write books in different languages. I’m trying to learn Spanish right now, which I’ve failed a few times in the past. The way teachers showed us in school just didn’t stick in my brain for some reason. I’ve been using a language app to study and it seems a bit better of a method. We’ll see. If this goes well, I’d like to also learn Chinese and German one day.

Well, I’m off to clean, light some black sage, cook dinner, and relax for sleep.

It’s Tuesday, January 29th, and I just finished watching episode one of the new True Detective. So very into it.

Work is going okay. I’m all caught up as of now. This job is such a crazy cycle of trying to catch up and then immediately being desperate to find work again.

I’m back to working on rewrite two. I’m 32 pages in, and it’s mostly small changes so far.

It’s Wednesday, January 30th. It was a depressing day. Low energy. I took time off work. I wanted to get my taxes done, but I gave up halfway through because it was too overwhelming. I’m going to set that aside for a while, I think.

I’m feeling low today, so I won’t write too much. There’s a lot I could say, but I’m not a big fan of “venting”. I’ve never gone on a rant and then felt better afterwards.

I get to write about immunity within the federal court system tomorrow. Woo!

It’s Thursday, January 31st, and it’s a better day than yesterday. It’s been a rollercoaster lately.

It’s Friday, February 1st, and I’m back down again. See what I mean?

I’ve completed one week of this journaling experiment. It’s a tough day. I couldn’t work due to fatigue and not feeling well. It happens. The thing about using your creative power to make money is it’s not always there. If I become too drained and out of balance, I get writer’s block and can’t work. I’m working on this whole, embrace imperfection, go-with-the-flow thing. It’s the hardest thing to post this (or any) blog because I have so many worries over perfection. But I guess I’ll do it anyway.

So, that’s it for my week of daily blogs. I plan on continuing to rewrite the book throughout February and March, and maybe by April or May, it can be with beta readers while I focus on getting out into nature and enjoying the springtime. I want balance in my life this year. I don’t want to miss out on so much because I’m always working. Going to Bali was a good start, but I need more.

Be sure to check out BEYOND MY DYING MIND on Amazon, and stay tuned for more news about my next book!

I Went to Bali, and Things Got Weird

It feels like five years have passed since I sat down and filmed my “Happy 2018” video on Youtube, which has now been deleted along with most of my other content. I can’t believe it was this year I published BEYOND MY DYING MIND. Time is a strange thing.

Changing Course

I never could get comfortable creating Youtube content, so when Youtube rejected me from the Partner Program a few months ago, it was the final sign I needed to change direction. Although I enjoy being on camera and editing videos, I don’t like talking about myself. At least, not enough to maintain regularly scheduled programming about my life. I like doing other types of content that aren’t focused on me, but having to come up with ideas for my books, two Youtube channels, and all the articles I write for my day job was stretching me too thin. Something had to give. 

If you’re subscribed to me, hopefully you’ll stay subscribed. The Youtube dream might be dead, but I still enjoy making the occasional video, like the recent film I made using clips from my trip to Bali (and a layover in China). 

For now, my main focus is back on writing books. I’m 35k words into a draft at the moment. It’s another afterlife fantasy, this one with lots of supernatural elements. I’ve been tinkering with it since 2012, and I’m not sure how it’s going to end up, but that’s part of the fun.

Going Far

This year, I was determined to get out and do more. I spent a month in Bali, and it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. What a strange and magical place with many powerful energies at play. I faced a new, difficult challenge daily, something I hadn’t been expecting from such a blissful-looking location. I didn’t get a relaxing holiday, but I did get one perspective-shifting moment after another. Through the conscious abandonment every crutch, I had set myself up to suffer, but it was the best kind of suffering. The kind that takes you deep within and helps make you a better you. 

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I was going through all this alone, which made it harder. I’ve traveled enough to know that some trips, you make a bunch of friends, and some, you end up mostly solo. Bali was the latter sort of trip. Despite being surrounded by fellow yoga enthusiasts and healthy eaters, I didn’t really click with anyone I met. I did have some nice conversations, however. A few times, due to various challenging circumstances, I was forced to surrender control and be vulnerable in front of strangers, and I was grateful for the kindness I received. Along with most travelers who come to Bali, the Balinese people are chill and nice to be around. I’m thankful for how everyone treated me while I was there.

There were also the times I can always count on, plentiful or sparse as they may be. The moments you’ll always remember. Every trip has them, and Bali was no exception. Like the night I shared my fish dinner with that hungry cat, or the evening of the rainstorm, when that beautiful release of pressure normalized my inflamed system, and I sat there watching a waterfall pouring over my balcony. All those mornings when I’d wake with the rising sun to watch monkeys scampering over the rooftops and collecting fruit from the trees in the garden. The day I arrived in Amed, found that ancient tree on the beach, and sat on its thick roots, surrounded by a graveyard of washed-up coral. From there, I watched the wild dogs play near the crashing waves, red flower petals fluttering down from the branches above. I remembered: This is why I travel. 

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Going Further

In 2019, I’m entering new territory. A lot changed this year, and I have higher standards for myself now. It’s going to take work to live up to them, but I’m no longer limited by the idea that my wildest dreams are unrealistic. Not when so many of them are already coming true. 

A tall mountain is high, and there’s no shortcut to the peak. In 2019, I plan to keep climbing. I want a thriving career. I want to be strong, flexible, and amazing at yoga. I want financial freedom. I want to create a comfortable home where I can offer warmth and safety to others. I want love. More than anything, I want my stories to touch someone out there. I already have accomplished some of these things, but I take nothing for granted. Success is not final, and failure is never the end. It’s like plank poses in yoga. You hold ground with every trembling, burning part of you. You accept the work.

I wish everyone reading this a happy holiday season! What are your plans for 2019? Will you be traveling anywhere? Are you in the process of climbing your own tall mountain? I hope amazing things are coming for you. 

bali_amed

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BEYOND MY DYING MIND just 99 cents on Kindle and FREE on Kindle Unlimited! Check it out and please leave a review to help a new author! 

THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Six: Alix Twelve 10/12 | 10:02 a.m.

Alix paced around her apartment, a clean space with light colors and minimal clutter. A simple design for calm of mind, she liked to tell her subscribers. Right now, those simple lines were blurred by tears.

She wasn’t sure what to call this feeling. Panic? Adrenaline? Nauseating excitement?

For years she’d thought of David Youngstone. She’d repeated his name in her head, each time forcing herself to focus on the memory of his face. It was all she had left of him, and from day one, she’d been aware that it would fade if she didn’t work at keeping it alive. Every night, before falling asleep, she’d run through the memory again, from the moment he’d walked up beside her after school to the last time she’d ever looked at him. She remembered the loving touch of his hands when he’d shared that vision of her life. He had a magical jewel called a vauxna that allowed him to see such things. She could still see it glimmering in the low light of the diner.

Everything he’d predicted had come true. His visit had been a pivotal experience in her young life, giving her the strength to run away from home, which, despite being an unwise decision on paper, had turned out well for her. She’d shared her story with her audience, but his part had remained a secret. It was more than the worry people wouldn’t believe her. It was like somehow, she’d known this moment was coming.

 

She stared at her laptop on the desk. The video was still open, an orange blur of streetlight against a night sky visible on the paused screen.

She got out her vlogging camera and held it up. “Hey guys,” she said, running her fingers through her auburn hair as she let the camera adjust to the light coming in the sliding-glass door. “So, I was gonna film a video about stress management today, but something really weird just happened.” She stared at the camera. “I have chills all over my body even trying to talk about it.”

She stopped the recording and set the camera down. Maybe she should think twice about this. With over a million subscribers now, deleting a video and hoping no one would notice wasn’t an option. If she put this out there, out there it would be. Normally, that was no big deal. She’d shared every detail of her transition journey, and it didn’t get more personal than that. It was in her nature to share, but this … Something told her this was different.

She fixed herself a strawberry smoothie with Greek yogurt and sat down at the computer, heading straight for Reddit. David Youngstone, she typed into the search bar. A list of subreddits popped up, the top one named after him. It had fifty-seven subscribers. The title of the pinned post read: IF YOU’VE HAD A DAVID YOUNGSTONE EXPERIENCE, PLEASE SHARE HERE.

It opened into a large post full of information and links. There were only two comments, one from a user called golden_dahlia76567 and another from someone called Thisshitreallyhappened111. She quickly learned the latter user was Daniel Hale, the guy from the Crocodile Terrorist movies.

Her phone buzzed with a video call from her boyfriend Jay, who was working a brunch shift at one of the most popular restaurants in Los Angeles. They’d both worked there part-time since moving here a couple of years ago.

Jay appeared in one of the seats on the restaurant’s back patio in all his dirty blonde glory.

“Hey babe.”

“Hey,” she said. “Oh my god. Something like … astronomically crazy just happened. David Youngstone is back.”

Jay narrowed his eyes. “What?”

“I’m not kidding. He came through a portal and appeared to other people. There’s a subreddit about it, and I’m sitting here trying to decide if I should tell my story—”

“What do you mean, a portal?”

“Look up the video. Just search David Youngstone. It’s the top thing.”

“You didn’t say anything about a portal when he came to see you.”

“There wasn’t one. Maybe I didn’t see it. Okay, I think I’m gonna tell my story anonymously on here and see what happens.”

She left Jay to check out the video and began typing out her post, leaving out any identifying details, like the reason she’d been suicidal that day. It was the other part that really mattered. David’s part. The way he’d treated her with such kindness. The way he’d walked with her down the street, butterflies in her stomach every time she glanced over at him. She was becoming a butterfly then too, not fully formed but ready to work on it. All she’d needed was a push.

After finishing the post, she tried to go about her day as normal. She filmed the video and wrote the blog she’d planned, struggling to keep her focus the whole time. At 3:30, she went to meet Jay at the restaurant, where she had avocado toast with eggs and a Bloody Mary. They went and handled some errands, did an aerial yoga class, got some groceries, and headed back home. They were getting set up on the couch with food and a TV show to binge when she checked her reddit account again. The message symbol glowed orange.

“Oh my god,” she said. “People responded.”

The first two messages were public responses from the users who’d already posted their stories. She’d read those in a minute. It was the latest response, a private message from a user called Ghost_Collector, that caught her eye.

Jay read along over her shoulder as her eyes scanned the words.

Hey there,

My name is Robert. I just read your story. I don’t want to post mine in public, but I met David Youngstone too. Like you, he came to me on a day I was thinking about ending my life. For years, I’ve kept that to myself. I figured he was just some kid, not a real time traveler. Now, I’m not so sure. On top of that, I’ve recently gone through something that brought me a great deal of healing from my past. Something that seems could have only occurred thanks to divine intervention of some form. Because of these experiences, I’ve changed my entire worldview, and now I want to reach out and find others who might understand. I guess that’s the point of this message.

Feel free to ignore this if it makes you uncomfortable, but if you want to possibly get together in some way and discuss our experiences, please let me know. I’ve already contacted Daniel from the video and Ella, who also had a David Youngstone experience. We’d all like to meet up if you’re willing.

Hoping to hear from you,

Robert Johnson

Alix pursed her lips and looked at Jay. “What do you think?”

“I think you’ve waited a long time for answers.”

He was right, although “waited” was probably the wrong word. For the longest time, she’d accepted it as a weird experience she’d likely never understand. And maybe that was still true. But at least now, there were others who got just how difficult that lack of understanding was. And maybe, if they were lucky, they’d somehow come together and figure this out.

She took a deep breath and began writing her response to Robert.

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Discover the rest of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Five: Daniel Hale 10/11 | 3:47 p.m.

Daniel drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, trying to focus on the music pouring from the speakers rather than his thumping heartbeat. Ella shouldn’t have gone up there. This was a mistake. He could feel it in his bones.

The hope had been for a solution to come to them on the drive over, but upon arrival, they’d drawn a blank, and after sitting on the street for twenty minutes, Ella had grown frustrated and stormed up to Jasmine’s apartment to give her one last warning and “put an end to all of this”. David Youngstone had said they needed to do something different, but Daniel was pretty sure this wasn’t it.

He leaned to the side, peering up at the building. Then he spotted Ella, exiting the bottom of the staircase and storming across the grass toward him, her dark hair bobbing with every angry step.

“What happened?” he called from the window.

She ignored him and returned to the passenger side. “Nothing,” she said, yanking open the door and climbing in with far more aggression than was necessary. “We can’t help her. We might as well go.”

“We can’t just give up.”

“What are we supposed to do? Hang out here all night and make sure no one murders her? If she sees us loitering, she’s gonna call the cops.”

“Well, do you blame her? I told you not to go up there!”

“At least I did something. You just sat here like a useless lump. What are you even good for? I can’t believe I almost had sex with you.”

“You haven’t come up with anything either. And believe me, the feeling is mutual.”

“Well, you’ll be rid of me soon.”

He sighed, resting his forehead on the steering wheel. “You know that’s not what I want.”

“Me neither,” she said, her voice barely audible.

“Then stop the bullshit. We know what we have to do.”

“Talk to Noland? I did. He was up there.”

What?” Daniel flailed in his seat. “You saw Noland?”

“Yeah. He came upstairs because Jasmine was yelling at me. I told him only he can save her now.”

“But did you tell him not to go to Pasadena? And about Bumbles?”

“No … We already talked about this. You can’t just go up to a stranger and tell him not to go to Pasadena.”

“That’s why you should’ve mentioned Bumbles! It’s his cat! Only he’d know about his cat. What if Bumbles was the key?”

She threw a finger in his face. “Why don’t you go tell him about Bumbles? I’m sick of looking like a crazy person.”

Daniel forced himself to breathe. She was right. He was failing to do his part. They’d gone over every scenario in the past few weeks, trying to think of a way to intervene. So far, they’d come up with two ideas. Starting a small fire outside the building to hopefully draw the authorities and deter Jasmine’s killer was the first. The second was to attempt a mild fender bender with Noland, stalling him long enough to ruin his plans in Pasadena and keep him in Los Angeles for the evening.

Obviously, both of those plans could result in life-ruining consequences, and they’d already seen from their dealings with Jasmine how unwilling people were to listen to strangers who popped up out of nowhere claiming to know the future. Daniel didn’t blame them. But he also wasn’t okay with failing the mission.

“David Youngstone chose us for a reason,” he said. “We can’t just give up.”

“Fine,” Ella said. “You go talk to Noland, and I’ll lurk in the bushes and watch for anyone who looks like they might be in a murderous mood.”

“And what’ll you do if you see someone?”

“I wasn’t being serious. Do you really think I’d crawl around in the dirty bushes?”

“Come on, Ella, the past few weeks have led up to this. Please help me think of something.”

“Why won’t you go talk to Noland?”

“I will. I’m just trying to think of the right approach.” He chewed his lip as they sat there in silence, the minutes ticking by. Then, it happened. The first raindrop, falling from the cloudy sky and landing on his windshield. Then another. Then hundreds.

“The storm,” Ella said. “It’s starting.”

“We’re running out of time.” Daniel let out a slow breath. “Okay. I’m gonna go find him—shit!” He threw himself forward, eyes wide.

“What?” Ella followed his gaze to see Noland coming down to the street. He turned in the opposite direction and headed toward one of the cars parked up the road.

“He’s leaving,” Daniel said. “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

“He’s going to Pasadena!”

“Okay, we have to do something.”

“Get out!” Ella shoved him toward the door. “Now! Go! Run!”

Daniel opened the door and stumbled out, falling to his knees on the wet sidewalk. By the time he was on his feet, Noland was already in the car with the engine running.

“It’s too late. He’s going.” Daniel jumped back in the car and put his seatbelt on. “We have to chase him.”

Chase him?”

“Yeah. Maybe we can approach him wherever he stops. Maybe he’ll need gas or something.”

“Hang on,” Ella said, popping her door open. “You go. I’ll stay here.”

“Why?”

“Someone has to make sure Jasmine’s okay.”

“But what are you gonna do?”

She shrugged and made a face. “Hide in the bushes?”

“Okay,” he said, looking ahead to where Noland’s car was pulling out into the street. “I’ll text you when I get somewhere. Remember—if she’s still alive after the storm passes, she made it.” He gave Ella a firm nod and started the engine.

He made it to the end of the road just in time to see Noland’s car make a right on the next road, which led to the freeway.

This was probably the most important thing Daniel would ever do. Failure wasn’t an option.

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Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Four: Noland Randall 10/11 | 6:20 p.m.

Noland was doing okay with the cleanup process until he got to Dad’s office. Everything in here was torturous to look at, from the empty bottle of Scotch ale on the desk to the UFO poster on the wall.

Then there were the filing cabinets, filled with notes about aliens, parallel dimensions, and other such things. Dad’s ability to believe in that stuff had always been enviable. It made for a magical life, which Noland wanted more than anything.

He crawled into Dad’s chair and curled up, hugging his knees. “Please, come back.”

The rain pattered at the roof as his muscles seized up with grief. It came in waves. When it was here, it felt like that calm numbness would never return. When it did, he missed the grief, wishing to cry until he turned inside out.

 

He’d given Dad that UFO poster for his birthday twelve years ago, along with some other alien-related items. Two years before that, they’d gone shooting with the gun that was in the closet. Noland hadn’t enjoyed it. Too loud and jarring. Plus, it had always scared him knowing the tiniest movement of a finger could change everything. That type of change was starting to sound comforting, and that frightened him even more.

The walls were closing in. He stumbled out into the hall, which was filled with empty spaces where their family portraits had been. The rain was coming down hard now, so he ran out back. Down it came, drenching him as he walked across the muddy grass.

He stood there as the water collected and spilled down his surfaces. Life was supposed to grow into something. He was supposed to have a family, or at least a career that meant something to him. He hadn’t accomplished any of that, and what little he had was being washed away, becoming one with the puddles and streams.

If only he could go back in time.

He thought of Jasmine. He was an idiot to have left her back at the apartments by herself. This had been his chance to be a gentleman and at least stick around the building for the evening to make sure she was all right. Maybe someone hadn’t traveled through time to warn of her murder, but there were people obsessed with the idea, and self-fulfilling prophecies were a thing. He’d look her up online and find a way to message her soon as he was back inside. Just to check if she was okay.

He turned, and something caught his eye. He walked closer, doing his best to focus through the rain.

Someone was standing in the shadows.

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Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.

THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Three: Robert Johnson 9/19 | 10:02 a.m.

Robert struggled to focus on I-40 West as it stretched ahead into the outskirts of Grants, New Mexico. He took another chug from the energy drink in the console, his palms sweaty, his heart slamming in his chest. He was getting close. She was waiting at a cheap motel a few miles from the next exit—or had been at the time of their phone call.

He glanced at himself in the rear-view mirror. Sixteen hours since he’d left St. Louis, and he hadn’t taken a full breath yet. His bloodshot brown eyes and rough dark skin aged him beyond his twenty-three years. It’d been days since he’d had a proper sleep or bothered with the skin care routine he’d been doing in Chicago. In some parallel dimension, he was looking like shit because he’d been out drinking with his friends the night before like a normal college student. Then again, if he was a normal college student, he’d already have his degree by now instead of having his studies delayed by a missing family.

Most of his friends had drifted, but it was his own fault for being so depressing. Adrenaline had fueled their efforts to help him in his search during the first couple of months, but no one could go on like that forever. They didn’t know what to say. All around him, the stench of tragedy hung in the air, emanating from the festering hole where the explanation should have been. His reality was a question mark, standing before him like a skyscraper. He had lived as a forgotten wanderer in its massive shadow, and now, after all this time, he was about to discover the truth. The only thing more frightening was the idea he never would.

A few nights ago, Mama had appeared on Aunt Tiffany’s doorstep in St. Louis. Tiffany had called, but by the time Robert made it there from Chicago, Mama was long gone, bolted out the door after overhearing Tiffany phoning the police from the bathroom.

“She wouldn’t even speak, Rob,” Tiffany said, crying. “I begged her to tell me where they were. She didn’t say a word.”

He’d stayed in St. Louis the next couple of nights, all his time spent driving around, unsure where to look. He’d eventually given up and curled up in a pathetic lump on Tiffany’s couch, where he stayed the next few days. She liked to watch the news, but the images of the massive earthquake in South America were too depressing for him to bear. Everything shook, rumbled, and fell. Including his phone when he’d realized the unknown number could be Mama. The thought crossed his mind every time someone called. This time, he’d been correct.

Mama had been quiet at first, but he’d recognized the sound of her breathing.

“I’m ready to tell you everything now, Robert,” she said. “I’m ready to tell.”

She’d given him her new location, and he’d left right away. Tiffany couldn’t take off work, but it was better this way. He wouldn’t have been able to take the car ride together, the unbearable silence as they both pondered the possibilities. Especially the one they were too afraid to ponder with clarity, the possibility that Jacob, somehow, was okay. Robert had put that sputtering hope out of its misery long ago, and it had now become the fog that floated around the back of his mind. He avoided it with everything he had as if acknowledgement would prevent it from ever coming true.

He took the exit and rolled down the road, passing hotels and fast-food restaurants despite his growling stomach. His GPS led him further from the recognizable chains and into a more remote area, where he spotted the sign for the Desert Lodge Motel, nearly invisible thanks to its display of faded gray letters against a dusty backdrop.

He pressed into the brakes, enduring a loud screech from his much-abused 2005 Mazda hatchback. It’d gotten him this far. Whatever happened from here didn’t matter as much.

He thought again about David Youngstone as he climbed from the car. The experience had remained fresh in mind over the years, at times giving him hope, other times making him laugh at his own baffling stupidity. Of course the kid hadn’t really been a time traveler. He was just a precocious young person. The water tower thing had just been a coincidence. It had to be. And that meant this whole thing could still be a bust.

Every screptch of his shoes against the dusty concrete walkway reminded him of that as he got closer.

He arrived at the door and knocked.

It opened to reveal Mama standing there. Thinner, older, and more vacant in the eyes, but Mama no question.

He’d envisioned this moment so many times. Prayed for it too. It didn’t feel like he’d expected. He could only tremble and stare.

“Mama?”

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Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon. Robert’s story will also be further explored in one of my future books.

THE MANDATORY SIX, Part Two: Jasmine North 9/17 | 3:47 p.m.

 

Jasmine’s eyes ached from staring at the open message. It had been at least an hour now. Just staring.

Ella:  Hey Jasmine. You don’t know me. Have you heard of David Youngstone? Have you seen this?

Below the message, a video was embedded in the chat. She’d watched it over ten times now. There was a man’s voice, barely audible beneath the screams from bystanders. It sounded familiar, but she couldn’t think of why. It tormented her.

Below the video, the text read:

Ella:  I don’t mean to alarm you, but David Youngstone was here on a mission to save YOU. He said he was from the future. He told us about the earthquake and warned that you’re in danger.

A few times, the typing bubble appeared and then vanished. Appeared and then vanished. Jasmine’s body surged with adrenaline every time.

This had to be some sort of experimental marketing campaign. She checked through the blinds and then the peephole to make sure there wasn’t a film crew waiting to get her reaction to being invited to “survive” some silly game. It’d been months since her last conversation, in person or online. She couldn’t handle small talk, let alone whatever the hell you’d call this.

There was no one she could see, so she returned to the computer and sat there attempting to breathe. Her fingers hovered over the keys.

Jasmine:  Whatever this is, I’m not interested.

Ella:  Someone wants to hurt you. He didn’t say who. But we think if we change your path, we can help you avoid getting hurt.

She checked her message requests every day, body burning with equal parts hope and terror. Noland was friendly. It seemed he might think to look her up on social media just for the sake of saying hello like a nice neighbor. Yet, he never had. And now here she was, sweating everywhere, going through something that could’ve avoided had she not chased that sliver of hope.

The typing bubble appeared.

Ella: He said someone was going to kill you.

 It made Jasmine laugh, which was maybe her third laugh this week. The other two had been produced by her favorite comedy show. Sometimes, books and TV were an escape, but the hollow pit inside was worsening, its echo destroying the equilibrium of her mind and body. She had so many holes, out of which spilled a quiet ceasing. She was a victim in one of those super-sick horror movies, trapped in a glass chamber filling an inch or two a minute. She might have been dying, but not for David Youngstone’s reason. It took self-esteem to believe someone would bother murdering you.

Jasmine laughed again, shaking her head. She hovered over the keys a moment more.

Jasmine: Let them.

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Discover more of the story in BEYOND MY DYING MIND, available now on Amazon.