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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

In celebration of seeing Wonder Woman, I decided to share this piece I drew back in 2012, during my first semester of college. It was the first project my drawing class had been assigned. The task was to draw something we felt represented ourselves, our style, and our inspiration. I chose to recreate a picture done by Jim Lee, one of my favorite DC Comics artists.

Wonder Woman has always been more than just a comic book character to me. Outside of my mom, she was the only real female figure I had. And she taught me many things. True strength comes from within, not from your muscles. No matter what size I am, I can still do anything I set my mind toward. All I need is love, compassion, and the courage to be myself. And lastly, I don’t have to be Wonder Woman to be a wonderful woman.

I won’t lie. I cried quite a bit when I saw the Wonder Woman movie. One of my childhood icons was now more than animated character or a drawing on a page. She was on a big screen in live action. She became real. That movie was everything I could have asked for and more. I was so happy to see my hero, that I couldn’t help but cry.

This is one of the things I love about books/comics/TV shows/video games/movies, etc. Usually, everyone finds their hero. That one character that stands out the most to them. The one that connects with them the most. People learn from these characters, are inspired to be their best by these characters. The list could go on.

I know there’s a difference between the real world and fantasy. I am not blind to my everyday responsibilities. But whether it’s reading a book or comic to forget myself for a little while, whether it’s playing a video game to release my frustration, whether it’s writing stories or poems to vent my feelings, fiction does help me get through this thing we call life. Just as music does. Just as chatting with family and friends does. And Wonder Woman? Well. She’s an aspect of fiction that’s helped me the most.


Amongst the Stars

A comforting chirp made my head rise. I smiled beneath my mask. My familiar glided into my room and landed on her perch. She was a pure white owl. The last of her kind. Her brilliant feathers reflected light, giving her a soft glow. I reached out a hand. Her head swiveled to me, slender black beak complimenting the shape of her head. It was her head that inspired my mask. We all had to wear masks. At least, we magic users. As much as magic was frowned upon, we “men of science” could use our powers safely if we wore masks. I disagreed with it, but I wasn’t ready for death. There was so much to be discovered! Long ago,  I came to realize I would have to be the discoverer. The others were content with their lives behind glass. None of them wanted to step outside our ship and walk amongst the stars. The stars were right there. Right outside the glass. The other so-called scholars scoffed and thought nothing more of the stars. I, on the other hand, made the stars my life. I studied them. Drew them. Visited them in my dreams. Even my robes were midnight blue and littered with stars.

I sighed when Aphrodite refused to come to me. She most likely thought I was crazy, too. Turning back to my desk, I gazed out my window. Let my mind wander through the stars. I didn’t understand. Why were they so bad? A small weight landed on my shoulder. Aphrodite chirped at me. She gazed at my drawings. Sketches of a streamlined vessel that would take me throughout space. I conjured a small model with my magic. Everything had been perfectly thought out. Though the design had been tedious. The air locks startled me. Standing, I reached behind me and covered the drawings. Never had I been so thankful for the mask. The High Counciler of our mega-ship stood in my doorway. “May I come in?” It took me much longer than I wanted to find my voice. “Yes, your grace.” He strode into my room, studying my various instruments and tomes. His white and gold robes trailed him. I swallowed. This was bad. He typically left magicians alone. Unless he disposed of them. Well…I did want to learn more about space, didn’t I?

His piercing brown eyes settled upon me. My limbs trembled. “It has come to my attention that you wish to study the stars. Is this true?” All I could do was nod. “Excellent. An enemy threatens our colony. One from outside our ship. I require your assistance. Your studies will prove useful against these aliens. Will you help me save our ship and people?” My voice left me again. I was surprised. For the High Counciler to personally ask for my help…? Though he didn’t have his normal entourage. Perhaps they prepared defenses? Grinning beneath my mask, I nodded once more. “Absolutely, my grace. It would be an honor and privelage to work alongside you.” He clasped a strong hand on my shoulder. “Fantastic. Come with me, child.” I followed, overwhelmed with the task ahead of me. My head suddenly exploded with pain. Darkness became my vision.

When I woke, I felt weightless. Felt odd. My eyes opened. I floated amongst the stars, suspended in a force field. But for how much longer? My magic was instinctual, but it wouldn’t last forever. I spun around. The colony ship was no where to be seen. Aphrodite couldn’t be found. I was alone. With the stars. Panic grew inside me. Gnawed at my very core. I would die with the stars. My force field flickered. It wouldn’t last much longer. More flickering. The magic faded. I was lost. It didn’t take long for lack of oxygen to slay me. An invisible vacuum sucked my air away. My vision blurred. I felt myself sinking, falling. Had gravity taken over. How– My body hit a hard surface. The stars disappeared. This was it. I had died.

“Simulation complete.” My ears heard, but my brain didn’t comprehend. Someone ripped off my mask, placed something over my nose and mouth. Full consciousness returned. I coughed until I could breathe normally. Stood sooner than I should have. A medic crew caught me before I fell. I looked around. I was in the Simulation Chamber. Why? Why had I been rendered unconscious? What was going on? Where was my familiar? I struggled against the medics, but I was too weak for them. Not even my magic could be summoned. The High Counciler placed a hand on my shoulder. “Your magic surpassed expectations. We have been doing our own research. However, technology fails us. It doesn’t last in space’s conditions. Please help us. I promise there won’t be any more surprises.” I studied him in wonder. That had been a test? I passed?  I had honestly been recruited? “I exceeded expectations?” He nodded. “Yes. Your magic kept you alive for the equivalent of six days. If we could combine your archaic knowledge with our technology, we could discover amazing things.”

Pride swelled in my chest, replacing any fears I might have possessed. They were ready to accept magic. And they had chosen me. I had kept studying the stars when the Elders mocked me. I learned how a spaceship works and designed my own. I didn’t fail myself, and I now had the High Counciler asking for my help in true space research. My eyes glistened with happiness. “As long as I can properly enjoy the stars.”

 

 


Home

When are you coming home?

A text message I never received an answer to. I only wanted to know so I could prepare accordingly. It was his birthday; I wanted to surprise him. I had it all planned out. He would come home, I’d welcome him with kisses, listen to his day. Then we’d go somewhere nice. One of those fancy places that charge a huge chunk of change for a small serving of food. Then we’d go to his favorite park, stroll for an hour or so. Go home. Maybe have some fun if he was up to it. A nice night.

After an hour, I assumed he was busy with work. After two, I grew antsy. He was normally good about responding. Three hours rolled around. I occupied myself with laundry. Then it was time for him to be off. No call or text. Even when he went somewhere with his buddies, he always let me know. I gave him another hour.

Nothing.

I tried calling him. It only took him twenty minutes to get home. And that was with traffic. The phone rang and rang until the voicemail answered. I left a cheery message. Maybe there was a wreck. Another thirty minutes passed. Where was he? My worst fear crossed my mind. Was he cheating on me? I couldn’t subside the feeling. He had to be cheating on me. It was his birthday. He would do what he wanted. That had to be why he was ignoring me. I left another voicemail. Told him I was worried that I hadn’t heard back from him. Told him I loved him.

The only woman he talked about besides me was my friend Carla. Who was conveniently single. Oh, that good-for-nothing, two-timing…. I calmed myself. There was no proof he was with Carla. Not yet. I quickly put on my shoes and grabbed my keys. I’d go to her house. If he wasn’t there, she could comfort me, give me advice. If he was there…I wasn’t thinking about that scenario. His phone had to be dead. There. That settled it. But I was still going to Carla’s. I opened the front door.

The tree in front of our house was so beautiful. It stood tall and strong, tested by many winds. The bark was rather smooth. Leaves full and vibrant green. It was one of the most magnificant trees I had seen. But something was different this time. Something was…off. Then I realized.

My husband dangled from a branch, hung by emergency jumper cables he kept in his car. My keys fell to the concrete porch. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t breathe. Faint sirens blared from somewhere in the distance. There may have been neighbors yelling. I couldn’t tell. Somehow, my feet took me to him. His lifeless eyes drilled into my soul. Judging me from another life. All I could muster was why. What would drive him to such lengths? Swallowing, I noticed a piece of paper in his left hand. I took it. The sound of the unfolding deafening everything. On it were six simple words:

You never gave me a home.


The Magic of Music

The music store door opened with a pleasant ding of the entry bell. Marina entered with a smile, her sun-kissed skin glowing in the noon sun. A quick glance affirmed she was the only customer at the moment. She sauntered to the sole employee polishing electric guitars. Delighted to see a man. Clearing her throat, she adopted her sweetest voice. “Excuse me. Could you help me?”

The employee rose. Completely enthralled by the woman in front of him. “Certainly. What…what can I, uh, find you?”

She smiled. Pulled herself onto the counter and coyly crossed her legs. Mini-skirt providing very little coverage. “I need the highest quality microphone you have.”

He was at her feet. “We have several types. Are you wanting–”

“Shh.” She placed a finger over his lips. “Spare me the details. Bring me the best one for picking up multiple voices and tranferring them to a video.” Mouth open, he nodded and did as he was told. Her turquoise eyes watched him. “What’s your name, lad?”

“S-Slash. That’s what they call me, at least. Y-you?”

“Marina.”

“How aquatic.”

She scrunched the back of her sun-bleacahed hair as he returned with her request. “It is. Tell me, Slash, would you like to know why I need this?”

“Yes.”

Her lashes batted. “My sisters and I are making a music video. You can find us on YouTube under Marina and the Sirens. We’re uploading at midnight tonight. Would you like to hear a sample?”

He nodded more enthusiastically.

Sliding off the sales counter, she carressed the side of his face. Eyes swirling like the Bermuda Triangle. Then she began her song.

“When the full moon rises
And the tide is high
We’ll be rid of guises
Victory is nigh
As the raging seas churns
Secrets come alive
Soon you’ll see water burns
Only strong survive
Come with me, to your watery grave
Come with me, I’ll hold you hand, all the way
Listen to my voice, soon you’ll have no choice
But to dive into deep waters
Come with me, without falter
Come with me…”

She drew out the last note for more effect. Slash had been entranced, hanging on every syllable. Her eyes continued glistening. “You will give me the microphone. Say your counts were off. You will scrub any security footage of me. You will remember nothing. Except that a little birdie told you of my group. And you will convince your friends to watch our video at midnight.”

“Yes, Marina.”

“Excellent.” She grabbed his face with both hands, kissing him passionately. “Now go.” One last nod to her commands. Her eyes returned to their normal color. She took the box. Smiled again at the door’s ding. With graceful ease, she slid into the car she sung off a man three weeks ago. The surface world was so easy to manipulate. She pulled out her phone. Dialed one of her sisters. “Put me on speaker.”

Marina watched the still spell-induced man inside. “Listen up, sisters. We have eleven hours to be ready. I have the microphone. I’ll pick up the last bit of items we need. Practice the song. At midnight, we’ll upload the video so everyone in the world can hear it. When they do, they’ll be under our control. We’ll lure them all into the oceans. We’ll take back what is rightfully ours. The oceans will be filled with bones once again. Spread word to all our sisters. Victory is nigh. We’ll show them the true magic of music.”


Who’s the Hunter?

The vultures circled. At first, it was one. Then three, then five, circling like the ravenous scavengers they were. They waited. Waited for the Hunter to emerge. Then they’d feed. It was only scraps, but to them, it was more than nothing. I waited for the Hunter as well. Body painted with mud, I waited amongst the dense undergrowth. Not moving, barely breathing. Nothing knew I waited. Even the insects found little interest in me. All I had to do was wait.

Patience was a virtue of mine. I could lay in wait for days. The longest was a week, before I passed out from no nutrients. Then I developed a tactic. Leave my mouth open. Bugs provided protein; dew provided water. Simple and efficient. As I tried to be. But was the plan of attack good enough? I had gone over it time after time. Made sure it was drilled into my brain. I couldn’t help second-guessing it. The fate of the village rested solely upon my shoulders. I was the only warrior brave enough to face the threat to our lives. The Hunter had been preying upon my people for over two hundred years. Normally, offerings sufficed, but this year, it refused to be pleased. It even devoured our leader’s daughter. Demanded more. But what could we give it? So it’s begun a rampage. Now the Hunter must become the Hunted. My skills with a spear had become legendary. Still, would it be enough?

Acid rain started falling. My clear skin turned a pale green. A lower concentration of acid. Not that it made any difference. It only aided my camoflauge. The vultures stopped. Odd, considering water never bothered them. My ears tuned. Even their elongated shape couldn’t pick up anything other than drops splatting against foliage and the sharp hiss they made upon reaching the ground. I heard it. A leaf moved. No…it had finally drained pooling water. Was that air movement? No. My imagination. I was getting antsy. The Hunter should’ve stirred by now. Perhaps the rain delayed it? I couldn’t recall actually seeing it attack in the rain. My arm muscle twitched with anticipation. No. I took as deep a breath as I dared. I needed to remain calm, remain patient.

Two thick drops landed on my back. Thicker than acid rain. I remained still. Fought the urge to look over my shoulder. Another drop. Except this one burned. My flesh seemed to catch on fire. The spear was in my hand, and I whirled around. Everything in me stopped. The Hunter somehow snuck up on me.

Eight souless eyes bore into me. Red fur contrasted the light green foliage. Jaws the size of my armspan revealed rows of needle-shaped teeth. Thick saliva streamed between. I had not known fear like this before. I couldn’t move. I was face to face with the Hunter. The one I hunted. It became clear why it had lived so long, why it achieved deity status. And it was patient. The Hunter waited for the opportune moment to strike. I had to strike first. We both moved at the same time, a blur of two warriors clashing together. A sickening crunch of bones and a creature’s pained roar echoed through the rain.

The vultures circled.


Between the Worlds

Her lungs felt like they were going to explode. Her legs prickled as she pushed them harder. Arms felt numb. She didn’t know how long she had been running. But she had to get to him, had to help him. A short, high-pitched shriek echoed through the trees surrounding her. No! That thing couldn’t be here. Not now. She choked and gulped down more air. Trying to get her muscles to move faster. The air cooled considerably. Breaths appearing in short clouds. Her body trembled. Shorts and a tank top didn’t cover much. She tried to keep going, but her pace slowed. No! Her eyes squeezed shut in attempt to focus. That only made everything worse. The darkness caused by her eyelids shifted and spun, brain fluids swirling. She opened her eyes and outstratched her arms. All balance and sense of direction lost. As she hit the ground, she saw it. Caught a glimpse of the Nameless One. A tendril reached for her. A dark light flashed. When her vision refocused, she didn’t see the dark forest. She was in a bright meadow. “No!” she screamed. “You can’t do this! You can’t take me from my world to aid him then send me back when he needs me most!” She slammed her fists against the ground. She had spent two weeks in the other world. Learned its secrets and customs. Learened all about the Nameless One, who was an inter-dimensional spirit with a nasty habit of ruining people’s lives. Tears flowed. How could it be so cruel? He was going to die without her help! She beat the ground some more. Another flash. Except this time, her warrior was brought to her. She gasped and sprinted forward. Froze. His bloodied body fell in seemingly slow motion. His eyes were lifeless. The Nameless One ripped out a sword that morphed into a smokey tendril. She sunk to her knees. What? Why? “What is wrong with you?” she cried. But the Nameless One didn’t respond. It only cackled hideously as it slowly dissolved into another world.


War: Chapter Two

The chittering increased, echoing off the hollow bone walls. Bone walls of the valley. He scrambled to his feet. Readied himself for an attack. Sweat beaded from his pores, though the ghostly chill remained. There was not enough rancid air to fill his lungs. He pressed a hand on his chest. Hoping to keep his heart inside his rib cage. It pounded dreadfully.

He blinked several times. Vision granted since the first time he opened his eyes. The darkness seemed a better option than this visible nightmare. Swallowing down a lump in his throat, he surveyed the dead area around him. He was, indeed, in a valley. Not too horribly wide. He reckoned maybe three football fields. But he could not reason how high the walls rose. How deep was he?

Everything appeared in faded black and white, slightly tinted blue. Except there was more red than he would’ve liked. Not a bright red. A red that had most of the pigment washed out. It stained almost everything. Especially the soft ground. Blood. Oozing, saturating blood. He fought the urge to inspect his feet.

Bones littered the terrain. No, bones made up the terrain. The walls, structures resembling trees, and he could only assume bones made up the ground underneath the muck. No wonder the place reeked of death. How many people had died down here? Was he next? He had never feared death until now. Nover thought of a preferred way to die until now. He certainly didn’t want to die down here.

The chittering picked up again. They refused to show themselves. He ran. Searching for anything he could use for defense. He wasn’t ready to use the bones of another as a weapon. However, he may not have a choice. The squishing sounds under his feet sickened him. It sounded worse now that he knew what he travelled on.

Another moist sound he couldn’t describe echoed off and on in his ear. He assumed it came from the muck until he stopped by a bone tree. Not that he wanted to stop. But he was human, after all. He needed to catch his breath. His eyes found the skeletal structure. Thick blood poured from between the spaces. Plump white specs dotted the red. He peered closer. Maggots tumbled to the ground, their plasma casing relocating.

With another exclamation, he jumped back. Careful not to fall to the disgusting floor. Maggots lived in the blood? That could only mean the larvae touched everything, too. He dared not look down. His skin crawled with the theory of his shoes being infected. A shriek snapped his head right. Mutated maggots? That was all his brain could conjure. And it wasn’t a pretty image.

An unsettled breeze passed his left. He pivoted, but nothing could be seen. He didn’t understand. What good was this new-found sight if he couldn’t see what truly hunted him? Glancing around, he jogged forward. The soaked bottom of his pants slapping his legs. But he still dared not look down. He kept his eyes on the darkness out of reach up ahead. This valley had to have some sort of end. Surely it couldn’t go on forever.

Or did it? He paused at this thought. What if he made a never-ending loop? Never meant to find the end. Caught in an eternal cycle of hellish nightmares. He didn’t know where this valley existed. Didn’t know if he existed any more. Refusing to accept this as his fate, or as fact, he pushed on. What else would he do? Stand and do nothing?

The unnatural cackle reverberated off the valley walls. He swallowed. Not this again. He had no weapons. Which still wouldn’t do any good if he couldn’t see the thing. Another round of laughter stood his hair on end. It edged closer. The creature made its way toward him. But he couldn’t tell which direction it came from.

Cracking bones made him cringe. Covering his ears, his eyes widened. A mound of bones rose in front of him. The form shifted and settled, sending blood in every direction. Its size increased with every passing moment as it emereged from the ground. Until it reached roughly twenty feet high. Then the creature shook off the mess of bones and muck, revealing its true form.

Its body comprised of a grotesque mixture of robotics, bones, and decaying flesh and muscle. Front haunches peaked its height as its back sloped to a mechanical tail ending in a spike. Black ooze and green-tinted liquid seeped from all parts of its body. Thick smoke escaped its spine grinding into place. A large, mutated animal skull served as its head, eyes glowing bright red.

He backed away in horror. Chunks of rotted flesh, swarming with fat maggots, fell to the ground. How was he supposed to fight this? Wicked laughter escaped the nightmare’s jaws. A constant sound of moving bones headed toward his back. He glanced over his shoulder. Something burrowed under the muck to get him. Once again, he had no choice but to run.

A serrated metal talon from the beast in front of him barely missed his head. Falling to the ground, he rolled back to his feet. Dodged the skeletal maw. More laughter sounded. He did not look behind him. But this was the creature that chased him before? Why did he have to put the belt on? Why did he have to see? He liked the darkness better.

The moving mound caught up to his left. It swelled like a wave ready to burst free from the ocean of blood. A cave in the valley wall caught his eye. Vaulting the mound, he made a break for it. Pumping his weakening legs as hard as he could. He barely made it into the carven as the mound mowed by. Fought his breath trying to escape. His eyes adjusted to the dim light.

Then he squinted. A white haze pulsated from the back of the cave. Curiosity sunk in. He crept to the source of ligt. A shriek from outside quickened his pace. Nothing but more skeleton piles lined the back wall. He fell to his knees and pushed bones out of the way. Ignoring the sound of feeding maggots. A breastplate emerged. And it was the cause of light. He ripped the piece of armor from its previous owner. Slipped it over his head. His chest swelled. The breastplate filled him with a righteousness he had never known before.


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