Tag Archives: series

Kandy Krinkles

In September, I began my fight to recover from a chronic illness brought on by heavy exposure to toxins. My original intention was to use the time to work on my novel I began a decade ago, but somehow I had been sidetracked by my sexy friend, Kandy Knight. Writing a web-serial seemed like a good idea at the time. Creating a new story with artwork felt therapeutic.

At first, anyway. It didn’t work out so well.

The Road So Far

I wrote the first sixteen episodes of Kandy Fangs: Venom in October, enough to get me beyond the end of the year posting one episode a week. I wanted to get ahead since I suspected my illness would make writing difficult at times. Creating art on my iPad each evening was a joy. Initial reaction to Venom seemed positive even though most readers went no further than the first two episodes. By November, I could barely write. In December, I couldn’t do anything productive at all. I was glad I had written ahead, and continued posting the prepared episodes each Friday.

Analysis

Healthier now, I’ve reviewed my work to find a bit of a mess. Writing while out of my mind might have led to some interesting creativity, and it was indeed a helpful activity. However, the project became victim of poor planning and execution.

KandyFangsVenomAd_256Five points stand out worth considering before continuing this project:

1. The story is poorly suited for an episodic approach

There’s too much going on with the dual-non-linear format putting a significant amount of time between related events. Not only are there two sides to the story, one side is non-linear on its own. Also, the many subtle clues slip away from the reader’s attention between episodes. Venom would be better served in a different format.

2. Web stories should represent the writer’s strong effort

A serial is too much work while battling illness. Worse, a non-linear story is challenging even for a healthy writer. It would have been wiser to write several single-shot flash episodes whenever I was able. Smaller projects mean better focus with time to rest between.

3. Traffic is down

Since November, traffic to KandyFangs.com has fallen steadily. Worse for Venom, the average visitor spends more time on the original episodes from 2011. This is a pretty good indicator that points #1 and #2 need to be addressed.

4. What the hell did I get myself into?

Likely due to blind crashing ahead with a mind poisoned by toxins, I ended up creating something I’m uncertain I would have normally attempted. I remember doing all the work, but it also feels like someone else did it. Perhaps this feeling is partly due to four months passing since I last actually worked on Venom. That’s a hefty chunk of time. Still, I must think it was the toxins doing most of the driving.

5. I’m unhappy with the quality

If the writer isn’t satisfied, it’s time to step back and re-plan.

The Road Ahead

Is it really all that bad? I’ll let you decide. Start at the prologue and try a few episodes.

[Update:] When I continue to work on Venom, I will aim for a different format and target audience. I have some great ideas that don’t work on the web. For now, I’m stepping away from Part I of Venom.

I’ll be posting more web fiction at KandyFangs.com, some single-shot flash stories and episodes for Part II of Venom in the future. I’ll continue exploring creativity with Venom and more non-linear storytelling.

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Kandy Fangs – 5

fiction by David G Shrock

[Update: Kandy has moved! www.KandyFangs.com]

This is episode 5. Start at the beginning, return to episode 4. Find more serials at TuesdaySerial.com.

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Steve marches on the sidewalk leaving the sanctuary behind. He sees Kandy in his mind, a memory consuming his thoughts. Her grin reveals her serpentine fangs. Can a forgotten memory come back into reality, experienced for the first time like the Sanctuary of Sin?

The gun barrel, his first memory if there is any order, tells him that Kandy is a professional killer. She takes good care of her gun. Kandy is Itoril, a descendant of Ithuriel. And she knows him.

His name, Steve Reynolds, feels as strange as the interior of the sanctuary—ghostly. It is the name Kandy mentioned, as did the young naked man, Torx, from the apartment. What brought him to the apartment? Who was the rock star leaning against the door? There is no memory between the nightclub and the police station.

Bright yellow catches his attention, and he finds police ribbon taped over dark double doors set in a brick building. Peering up, he sees a sign extending out from the building displaying a skull beside the name of the establishment, Necropolis. Inside is Detective Silver’s crime scene where someone found an unconscious Steve Reynolds after the forensics team finished their job.

Glass shatters against the doors, fragments from the bottle fly in different directions. Laughter explodes, an engine roars, and a car speeds off down the road. Steve watches the tail lights of the car disappear around a corner. The scent of alcohol rises, a cheap national brand.

Nothing about the building stirs his memory. Made of gray stone around brick, it appears much like the other buildings in the neighborhood. The bottom two floors are windowless, and the windows in the upper six floors are all dark. Or blackened. The lowest windows reflect the city glow like dark mirrors.

Continuing around the corner, he notices the streetlights dim. Like walking into a black fog, the world darkens. Stone steps lead up to glass doors with brass handles. The same skull-with-fangs design hangs above the door. Light beyond the glass reveals red stairs climbing up to black curtains.

Glancing around, Steve finds an empty street. The silence is unnatural, but not disturbing. It feels like the quiet after a heavy snow storm, peaceful. He claps his hands. Hearing nothing, he claps again noticing not even the air moves through his fingers. The cold is gone as well. Watching cracks of darkness chomping away the cement, he recognizes the pattern. Like at the sanctuary, he steps out of time. His beating heart reminds him he is alive. He listens to his heart thumping in his chest, the sound traveling up into his head where the double-patter finds his inner ear. The thump followed by the patter is familiar music—comforting. His heart slows as he watches the darkness creep beneath his feet. Peering up, he finds a sky filled with raging purple clouds, the deepest violet crashing with the lightest amethyst. The buildings still stand around him, but they appear nearly transparent.

Climbing the steps, he watches the building fade out and back in like a passing shadow. He reaches for the brass handle, and his fingers pass through. Shadows eat the door, the brass frame crumbling into a dust before disappearing. After a day, this ghostly shadow world feels natural. He enters Necropolis.

The red carpet on the stairs intensifies, vivid red, the shag standing up removing imprints from passing feet. Cracks in the black painted walls smooth over sealing themselves. The room at the top of the stairs is nearly empty. An aluminum ladder leans against the wall on the left, and a pile of plastic gathers at its feet. In the far corner, a light hangs from a hook in the ceiling. Half the room is black. Streaks of black paint extend into the dingy yellow half on the far side.

A doorway catches his attention, the one between two others within the black wall. Masking tape splattered by black paint runs around the doorframe. The light reveals the shape of door hinges within the varnished wood. None of this is familiar, but the darkness within the room calls to him.

Light cuts across the room to a pile of tarp in the corner. The entire back wall is dark glass reflecting the doorway. Shadows creep up from the floor, hazy blobs taking shape. An etherial sofa rests before the glass and another on the left against the wall. Between them, the shadow-shapes become a round table and two ghost-like wine glasses sitting on top.

This is where it happens. This is the place Kandy points the gun at him. He imagines her standing back towards the glass wall. But Kandy is not here, not even her ghost, only the memory of her consuming his thoughts. He looks at the ghost-table and the ghost-goblets. Are these memories? They seem to be, but these ghosts belong to the room. Even rooms have memories.

Approaching the glass, Steve stops short afraid that touching the ghost sofa might extinguish it. He steps around the end. Peering through the window, he finds a large room illuminated by a purple bar running from the ceiling down to the floor nearly a dozen meters below. Eyes adjusting, he realizes it is a strip of black light connecting to a stone column. Other columns appear within the shadows. At the bottom, the wood floor stretches out to a stage. Gazing at the dance floor, he searches for crime scene tape or anything that might mark the investigation. Nothing but dust lit by a single strand of purple.

Movement catches his eye. At first it appears like a reflection on the glass, an illuminated fog. Individual shapes rise up out of the haze. Ghosts, over a hundred of them, move about on the floor below. A collective mass, they writhe near the stage where speakers surround a band of specters. The ghosts dance in slow motion. Their hands wave above their heads as they twist at their hips. Heads bounce sending hair into a blurred fibrous etherial fans. Movement draws his gaze up to his reflection the glass and another figure behind him.

Spinning around, Steve finds a woman standing in the center of the room. She wears a short dress made of steel rings, like armor but with rings far too big for protection. Her smile is menacing. The slender fangs barely extend beyond the row of teeth, but there is no mistaking them. Her blue eyes light up with recognition. Looking over her long blonde hair and pale face, he tries to place her. The woman is as unfamiliar as the surroundings.

Gliding up beside the leather sofa, the woman purrs. Placing a hand on the backrest, she gazes through the glass at the dance floor below. No longer ghosts, people dance at normal speed to the music pulsing through the glass, the walls, and the floor. The woman taps her fingers to the beat. A red ember burns within her iris, the unmistakable characteristic of an Itoril.

“I bought this club recently,” says the Itoril woman. “I renamed it Necropolis.”

“The city of the dead.” He tries to pull his gaze from her, but her near perfect breasts peeking through the steel rings prove too much for his willpower.

“Can I get you anything?” She speaks with a purring whisper. “A drink? A dancing girl?”

“No.” He realizes he stares at her nude body within the shimmering rings, but what else is he supposed to look at? The woman dresses for attention, and she has it. “Thank you.”

“We recently added the special lenses.” Lifting her hand from the sofa, she motions out the window. “Most of my employees are human. The black light on lenses causes their eyes to glow.”

Tearing his gaze from sin, Steve peers down. Some of the dancers wear glowing bands around their wrists. White shirts glow near the slender purple rods. He spots a pair of glistening green eyes on a man in black. A woman carrying a tray holding drinks has red eyes.

“It’s all part of promoting vampires. Books. Movies.”

“You’re trying to become accepted.” Unusual eyes and sharp teeth tend to encourage violence.

Spinning around, she leans against the glass. “When it’s cool to be a vampire, we will be the rock stars.” Her grin appears cruel, the sort of smile a child makes after getting away with something sinful.

“Careful you don’t become lost within your own fantasy.” Steve watches a woman dancing within a big birdcage hanging from the ceiling. Her hands grip the bars, and her hips throw her skirt around. The city of the dead appears more like the city of sex appeal.

“You don’t remember me.” She turns to the window and places a hand on the glass. “I was just a girl. A teen with attitude. You wore a dark suit with a blue necktie.”

Steve looks at the side of her face, at the strands of hair pulled back over her ear. He has no memory of her. Nothing. Instead of feeling lost, like a part of him is missing, he feels normal. So what if his childhood is nonexistent? Yesterday is there as it always has been.

“Yasmine,” says the woman. She touches her head to the glass, and peers down. “My birth name was Jasmine, but Auntie pronounced it like Yasmine.”

Leaning closer to the glass, Steve peers down. He sees the top of a woman’s head bobbing as she dances, her arms swinging. She stands on a black pedestal above the dance floor. Even from this angle, he recognizes Kandy. The woman is everywhere.

Steve steps back. “Excuse me. I need to meet someone.”

“Decided to enjoy a dancing girl, after all?” Yasmine remains at the window watching her guests.

The back staircase twists within a narrow shaft, a door blocking the floors above. This is not Torx’s building. The steel groans under his weight as he spirals down.

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Continue reading episode 6 at www.kandyfangs.com/?p=29, or try a special single-shot story where Kandy has a “Dance With the Dead.”

Kandy Fangs – 4

fiction by David G Shrock

This is episode 4. Start at the beginning, return to episode 3, or find your place in the menu, Short Fiction-Kandy Fangs.

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The directions are easy to follow, and Steve finds a brick building with large black letters spelling out the name, Roseland Sisters of Sorrows Sanctuary. Roseland is a city resting in a valley between two mountain ranges. The area is known for its microbrews. Why recall such a thing? He knows the city like he knows the value of a dollar and the basics of a combustible engine propelling the cars on the street. The real mystery: who is Steve Reynolds?

As he opens the door, Steve imagines a number of possibilities waiting on the other side: standing in line for evening soup, waking up from a dream and telling his wife about his strange adventure, a woman at the front desk recognizing him, or angels descending the staircase to guide him home. Even a Sister smacking him across the head with the bible shaking his memories back in place seems more likely than what he finds. Somewhere in his groggy state standing before the arched doorway, stumbling into the shadows between the cool outside and the warm indoors, the world swirls around him sending his head sloshing. Then everything orients within his thoughts, and he finds the unexpected.

Three apparitions occupy the room. In the back, lounging on a sofa, a ghost smokes a cigarette held between her fingers. She wears a white top and matching short skirt. She sits at an angle, legs crossed, foot kicking the air. White boots hug her legs all the way up to her thigh. On the right, a bartender wears a white vest barely hiding her breasts, and white bow tie around her bare neck. Hand held out, she serves a martini to an apparition dressed all in black. Like the first, the third ghost wears boots that are too long and a skirt too short.

High on the wall, the lamps within red glass cylinders cast an eerie glow within a haze of smoke. In the back corner, a curtain of beads hangs in the doorway. Sparkles dance down the beads catching light and movement beyond the curtain. The black-and-white tiled floor reminds Steve of a chess board. The two women, one in all black and the other all white, are chess pieces. Two queens command the battlefield in dark smoky ruins, a sanctuary of sin.

The apparitions move in slow motion. The black queen takes her martini glass, and the bright red lips on the bartender’s face curling into a smile. Even the smoke spewing from the white queen’s sparkling pink lips moves against time.

Steve steps inside, his shoes silently gliding across the tile. Taking in a deep breath, he notices the lack of a cigarette scent. Stopping in the center of the room, he spins around. The hands on the clock above the bar indicate three minutes before ten. His watch shows nine minutes after nine. The second hand on the sanctuary’s clock turns at a constant rate, nearly half too slow. Not constant, he realizes watching the slender second hand pass the twelve. Movements increasing in speed, the pair of ghosts at the bar come alive, less transparent. The black queen’s hips rock to each side as she lifts the martini glass to her lips.

The floor shudders, and shakes again. It is a beat increasing in speed, and he realizes it is a drum, music from the room beyond the beads. The black queen’s hips move with the beat as she dances in a circle, holding her glass up, spinning around, appearing less like a ghost.

Sound crashes the room, music pounding into his head. He breathes in the heavy cigarette smoke and coughs. Watching the black queen dancing in a circle facing him, he meets her cruel gaze.

The black queen looks like Kandy.

Her face darkens. It is the look of a predator spotting easy prey. The sinful smile reveals terrible teeth, two fangs on top and a smaller pair on the bottom. Her eyes appear iridescent, red burning through hazel.

The music fades into the distance, and the room grows darker. Kandy becomes transparent as her movements slow. The bartender and the white queen are ghosts again. Darkness creeps over the room eating the furniture and the walls. The shadows eat away at the floor, a storm of dark purple clouds erupting in its place. Retreating from the disappearing floor, Steve races for the fading exit. Without reaching for the knob, he runs through the insubstantial door.

Sounds attack his ears, a nearby car engine and the background roar of the city. A chill settles upon him, and he shivers feeling streams of sweat slide down his face. Headlights glare then fade, a car passing on the street.

Looking back, he finds the building as before. Hanging on the bricks the sign reads, Roseland Sisters of Sorrows Sanctuary. He touches the door feeling the rough wood. Kandy knows him. He wants to go back inside and demand answers, but his stomach churns from the disorientation of time in slow motion. Is amnesia playing with the senses stirring up memories? Opening the notepad Detective Silver gave him, he reads the directions verifying this is the correct address.

“No way in hell I’m staying here.”

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Continue reading.

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Kandy Fangs – 3

fiction by David G Shrock

This is episode 3. Start form the beginning, go back to episode 2, or find all in Short Stories – Kandy Fangs.

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Like I told you.” Leaning back in the chair, Steve Reynolds folds his arms. “I don’t remember.”

Sitting behind the wood desk, the detective looks up from his notes. His bushy eyebrows scrunch down. He appears to fall into deep concentration, his head bouncing as if considering different options.

Growing tired of the scrutinizing gaze, Steve looks through the window behind the detective. Police officers sit at desks, some of them writing and others talking on phones. From somewhere at the far end, a radio squelches and a scratchy voice mumbles an announcement about an incident on Tenth Street. Whatever it is, nobody responds.

Eyebrows bouncing up, the detective nods. He swipes a hand through his dark wavy hair ruffling the silver flecks matching his name. “Amnesia, then.”

“Yes, Detective Silver.”

“I’m very sorry.” Silver leans back, and the chair groans. “For someone at your age.” He shakes his head. “I mean, you’re at the prime of your life. You might have a family. Someone worrying about our absence.” His eyebrows clamp down as he leans closer. “You don’t remember anything at all?”

“Not my childhood.” He feels as if he has been over it a thousand times, at least five with the detective after hours of pouring through his thoughts back in the waiting room. “Not last week. Nothing until that apartment.”

Silver waves a hand motioning his acceptance. “I’ll do everything I can to help you find your identity, but I need you to think.”

“No.” Steve stands sending the chair smashing against a cabinet. “I don’t know anything about that street.”

“Washington.”

“The last thing I remember is a club. A dance club.”

“Necropolis.”

“City of the Dead?” Dropping into the chair, Steve slumps over and buries his face in his hands. His memories are not here. They are out there somewhere. Maybe with Kandy.

“The nightclub,” says Detective Silver. “My crime scene.”

Rubbing his face, Steve takes in a deep breath. He sits up, and continues in a calm voice. “I’m uncertain how I even arrived at that club.” Falling. Dropping through purple clouds into a room of ghosts. “I was helping a young woman. Sabrina. I helped her out to the stairs and I lost her.”

Silver glances at his notes. “From the mystery apartment. An old building you don’t recall the location of.”

“That’s correct.”

“Help me understand, Mister Reynolds. Minutes after forensics packs up.” Silver grabs his pen and taps the end on the table. “Among a dozen officers. You somehow lose consciousness between the officers and the exit.”

“No.” Steve shakes his head. “Like I told you before, people were dancing. There were no officers. I never heard any gunshots.” Folding his arms, Steve meets the scrutinizing gaze. He has had enough. He wants to go home, but home resides beyond his memory. Anywhere is better than the police station.

Breaking the gaze, Silver lowers his head. He scribbles something on his paper. “Fair enough, Mister Reynolds. Without an address of this apartment, we don’t have much to work with. My team is going back over the crime scene. Something will turn up.”

Detective Silver opens a desk drawer and tosses a small notepad on his desk. He opens it and writes on the first page. “Directions to a shelter. I’ll contact you there.”

Steve takes the pocket-sized notepad and reads the directions. None of the names mean anything to him.

“And here’s a pen in case something comes back. About the apartment or about Necropolis. Anything at all.”

Taking the pen, Steve slides it into his shirt pocket along with the notepad. He promises to stay in contact and exits the office. The radio squelches, and this time two officers respond climbing to their feet. Finding the main entrance, he pushes on the glass door.

The cool night air reminds him he has no jacket. He wonders how many hours have passed inside the station. He supposes without any memories, a day is forever like a child with nothing behind him and a lifetime to imagine.

He listens the sound of his shoes clicking down the steps onto the sidewalk and the cars rumbling on the street, all familiar as if he knows them without really remembering the sounds from anywhere in particular. Even the dampness in the air seems familiar. He recognizes a coffee shop as a coffee shop, but the name on the glass door means nothing. He considers going inside. Hunger should have taken him by now, but he feels fine. Of course, he has no money to pay for food.

Spotting a woman on the others side of the glass, Steve grabs the handle and opens the door releasing warm air and the scent of coffee. He stands to the side and flashes a smile. The woman returns the smile and strides away, her heels clicking on the sidewalk. Steve breathes in the coffee aroma and releases the door listening to the squeak of the hinge and the smack of the frame. Scents and sounds are all recognizable and familiar. If only his home address would materialize with the same familiarity.

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Continue reading.