A Letter To A Friend

Dear David,

I finally got my passport this year as you were very persistent in reminding me to do, and I finally traveled overseas in what I hope is the first of many more trips to come. I anxiously boarded each plane hand in hand with my husband among a hoard of strangers, some just as anxious or weary and all with their own stories for why they were going where they were going.
What marvelous adventures we had on our trip, so many miles walked, sights seen, food eaten, and fellowship shared. We were all doused in sunscreen to guard against the sunshine in Palma De Mallorca (Spain) with Sharky. We had tapas for the first time, explored old castles, and walked nearly the entire length of the bay of Palma. Learning a Norwegian drinking song while the sangria and stories flowed, our smiles and laughter lighting up the night. You were missed and yet you were there.
trio
We walked along the harbourside in Bristol, feeling the pulse of the city where pavement meets the water. The city holds a calm thrum of life and intriguing tidbits of history. A stop in at Arnolfini, bacon and egg sarnies at the Buttery, three hours spent wandering the S.S. Great Britain, and milk stout and pie at The Grain Barge. Our proper welcome to the city was with OJ in the evenings. We began our first night at The King Bill, sitting and toasting on those dark leather couches by the fireplace. Singing a Norwegian drinking song while cider and stories flowed. We walked three abreast, grinning and taking up the entire width of the sidewalk, while clutching each other’s hands to warm them against the bracing chill of the night air. You were missed and yet you were there.
trio
We walked through Tollymore Forest in Northern Ireland and saw the Book of Kells and old library at Trinity College in Dublin. We made the ascent up to the Acropolis in Athens and roamed through the ancient Agora, and then got happily lost in the winding side streets of the city. We’ve gone swimming in the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas. I’ve sailed a ship off the coast of Mallorca. We’ve had cappuccinos in Milan. We’ve gotten sozzled on good Scotch. A silver convertible BMW roadster drove by us as we walked up the avenue of stones at Avebury, where we also watched the sun rise on the Autumnal Equinox and were handfasted by a druid. A circular rainbow appeared outside of my airplane window, it looked like a blue eye following us, as we took our flight back across the Atlantic Ocean. You were missed and yet you were there, sliding on light beams, carried in our hearts and thoughts. I always said you were one of those rare bright souls in a sea of dark, you were also a collector of those souls. I imagined that you tied little strings to those other bright lights and would weave them together like in a tapestry. I like to think that beautiful tapestry of people, of friends connected together, continues to grow tighter and stronger.
Until the next adventure.

Love and light,
Sjr

 

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There was nothing left, just dust and stars…

A dear friend, David, passed away on the 22nd of November, and the days since then have been a slow calming of the disquiet. A yawning void has been growing, and it’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that there will no longer be any words sent when inspired, no more sliding in on lightbeams, or dialing in from the Sky Bunker. No more tales and photos from his travels. No more exhilarating surprise of finding a hand written letter in the mail, with his (sometimes hardly legible) scrawl and doodles. He was brilliant, kind, and funny. I would swear that he could make a friend out of anyone who crossed paths with him. The outpouring of love, and happy memories shared in the wake of his death are proof of that.
He will be missed by all that knew him, and remembered always.

lettersedit

I dabble with Tarot from time to time, as a personal thing. It’s not something I do lightly or often but I do find it useful for personal introspection and not necessarily divination.

David, was fond of doing Tarot as well. I think he’d been doing it since he was 15 (circa 1986). A fan of the classic, Rider Waite was his go-to.
It’s been well over a year since I’ve pulled cards, but after these past two weeks I just felt it was time.

Not necessarily solace, but an affirmation of what was already perceived and known. Message received universe.

Farewell my friend. Dangerous Dave, Zed-killer and Literary Type.
-Sjr-

Songs of Spheres by David J Rodger

One of the things I appreciate about the stories written by science fiction & dark fantasy author, David J Rodger, is the shared universe aspect. It makes it extremely easy to pick up any single one of his stories and find yourself immediately immersed in that world with a ready-made primer built in to the narration. As you continue to read more of his work, you’ll feel how they all seem to tie together, without being dependent on one another.

The main protagonist for one story feels like he could also be the disgruntled unnamed gentleman briefly mentioned walking down the sidewalk in another. Spheres brushing up alongside each other in their own singular orbits.

Which brings me to his short story collection Songs of Spheres (which can be purchased for Kindle or Paperback)

Songs of Spheres by David J Rodger

I love this collection of short stories. There is a darkness that lingers with you afterwards, a darkness I enjoy going back to. For me it’s like Blade Runner met William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy in a bar, and then H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones decided to camp out outside that bar and peer inside the windows.

Here are some of my particular favorites in this collection:

Merchant of Oropas

In certain cultures, the possession of an object during magical ceremony can infuse it with qualities that cannot be measured or monitored by scientific means. They are said to become like beacons, within the Astral Planes, guiding or warding other worldly spirits with no restrictions of time, or space.

Dilemma

A tense and fast-paced plot that plunges into the heart of our fear of the ‘monsters’ we make to serve us. Biological intolerance clashes with the vain attempt to rationalise cold-blooded murder.

The Tainted Moor

In the North East of England is a place where something so terrible has occurred, that the locals dare only to speak of it as a warning to survivors thinking of going there. The Tainted Moor. Man has tried to penetrate the chaos of the Infection and brought such calamity upon the battered Earth that even the Angels weep in despair. An indelible stain upon the bruised flesh of Mother Nature.

Stories with sprawling and vast environs, yet give you very close and intimate portraits of the souls trapped within for those who wish to take a look inside.

Screen Capture from Blade Runner (1982) - Ridley Scott

Yellow Dawn

There’s nothing that can compare to the excitement of getting packages in the mail, for me at least! Even if you know what’s in them it doesn’t lessen the excitement of unpacking them.

The long awaited supplies for brewing a batch of stout to be ready for next month finally came in today and *drumroll* a new Role-Playing Game book! Fresh off the presses, the newly updated Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur 2.5 by David J Rodger.

Yellow Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic near future with a landscape fueled by the machinations of its denizens, Cyberpunk technology, and a threat looming beyond the stars to wreak its havoc upon mankind. Fans of cosmic horror and Cthulhu Mythos will appreciate what this universe has to offer to its readers and players.

Dog Eat Dog, the first novel set in this universe, is a wonderfully immersive introduction that sweeps you into the action and gritty intrigue at a rapid-pace and doesn’t let you go. The Yellow Dawn page on the author’s site provides an abundant amount of resources such as scenarios and bolt-ons, links to the short stories set in the universe, and all manner of goodies to enrich the gaming experience.

“In Yellow Dawn the Earth has been ravaged by viral pathogens, the death of billions observed by the orbital colonies and deep-space habitats that were largely unaffected by the Outbreak. Ten years later a handful of cities have bounced back and survivor settlements sprung up across the New Wilderness. The Infected pose an extreme threat within the thousands of Dead Cities; and rumours of alien monsters and Satanic ceremonies filter out from the deep wilderness on the tongues of those brave enough to travel. Players have the chance to become heroes in the New Wilderness, or become involve in city-based investigations and action-adventure.”

“The Influence of Hastur is revealed in pockets of Infection, through the terrible once-human victims that have been erroneously dubbed “zombies” alongside the horrific – and sanity crushing – phenomenon that snags the unwary in Dead Cities. The risk from the Infection is evolving: giving GMs the ability to adjust the threat as the game progresses, keeping players on their toes.”
From the Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur Press Release

All in all, a very impressive creation from an independent source. Once I’ve got a group of willing players to try this out with me I’ll be writing again. Take care until next time, and remember:

Murder At Sharky Point by David J Rodger – A Review

It was a dark and stormy night on the first of October in the year 2010. The rain was not yet near, but the sky above the house was being torn apart by the fierce lightning. Eight solemn and suspicious individuals became entangled in a thick web of lies and deceit, and murder most foul…

I have always wished to host a murder mystery party, and my first game storyline came from friend and author, Mr. David J Rodger.

Murder At Sharky Point by David J Rodger - A Review

 

The character invites were placed inside document envelopes, marked with the name of the invitee, and delivered to their hands or left at their desks at work to discover. The rabid responses began to flood in, and the excitement rose to a fever pitch. None of the individuals chosen to participate in this event had ever played a murder mystery party before. I received ecstatic updates on purchases to fulfill the costumes for the characters. I received comments just to say “I can not wait!”

The night arrived. The storm arrived. The players arrived.

Introductions were made to the dinner guests before they were sent off to separate corners around the house to read the rest of the nitty gritty details pertaining to their characters. Their wide-eyed curiosty became replaced with a mischievous gleam as their minds mulled over what they knew and their machinations began to grow.  We were all a little slow to start, considering this was our first attempt at this particular form of role-play for gaming. Then, a magical transformation. One of the investigative agents fell full tilt into his character and purpose, without mercy, and the rest of the dinner guests transitioned into their roles and knowledge with a dangerous ease.

It began in nervous laughter and smiles, and ended with insults flying, seething glances, clenched jaws, and elegant subterfuge.

By the end of the game, they really did not mind who had racked up the most points. All they wanted to know was Who Did It?

Who were the ones responsible? I’m not going to tell you. All I will tell you is that the murderer/s were not discovered this time around.

The players and I all had such a wonderful time, that future Murder Mystery Parties have been planned with other campaigns. But none of us will forget our first time and how Murder at Sharky Point treated us, and will likely return to it with new groups of players in the future. I’m certain this game can only get better the more it is played. There is so much to it to discover that each time through with players will provide more insight into details of the various intrigues.

To any players of role-play, live action or tabletop variety, I would recommend this game. The characters are a delight to get into, the plot keeps you guessing (and squirming), and I can not think of any other game experience I’ve had that was quite like this one.

The Author’s Site:
http://davidjrodger.com

You can Purchase Murder at Sharky Point on Lulu:
http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/murder-at-sharky-point/12466364

The Story So Far (Episode Three)

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, tonight in our third installment of The Story So Far we would like to present you with an interesting retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Visit to Newgate” using characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a quiet nod to George Orwell.

(I would have been slapped if I turned in another seven page story instead of four like we are specified to do, so I apologize for the brevity of this. I hope you still enjoy it though.)

The Prisoner at Newgate

“My dear Watson, I’m glad you’ve arrived. I have a favour to ask of you. There is a particular prisoner at Newgate that is in need of medical attention. I want you to attend to this man. I would normally accompany you, of course, but this sick man would likely make an attempt at murder at the very sight of me. If you go alone he will behave properly.”

Watson barely had time to remove his hat and coat when he entered the door before Sherlock Holmes addressed him. Watson shrugged his shoulders back into the folds of his damp coat that the rain had taken a fondness to on his walk back from the club. He stole a glance at the clock.

“Do you wish me to see the prisoner at this time of evening, Holmes?” Watson asked perplexed. Holmes didn’t even turn in his seat where he sat smoking his pipe in front of the fireplace. A considerable cloud of tobacco smoke clung to the air in the sitting room.

“Yes, Watson, I do. The man may be condemned, but he is not scheduled to meet his the moment of his death soon. I see no reason why he should be allowed to leave this earth before then. He should wait each agonizing day and hour until the allotted time that due justice is mete out. Please do this for me, Watson.”

“Very well, Holmes. I’m certain you must have your reasons that this can not wait until tomorrow. I’ll do as you ask.” Watson reached for the door to leave with his bag in hand. Holmes voice interrupted Watson’s movements once more, this time he turned to look at Watson.

“A word of warning my friend, this prisoner is cunning. He is not to be trusted no matter what he says to you. Be wary, and never take your eyes away from him. He is called James, and you’ll find him in the condemned ward.” With that said, Holmes turned back to face the fire and returned to his fervent smoking. The blue smoke coiled up along the walls and hung from the ceiling like clouds.

Watson hailed a hansom to take him the short distance between the apartment on Baker Street and Newgate prison on Newgate Street. Watson was accustomed to the wet and dreary London weather, so was not affected by the potential dampening of spirits the weather can cause. However, as soon as the dark building was in sight, Watson felt an inexplicable chill creep up his spine. The trip was short, and soon Watson’s feet were upon the cobbled street before Newgate Prison. As he was walking up to the entrance a feeble old woman stumbled against him. She recoiled in the dark and peered at him beneath the brim of a tattered straw bonnet, her eyes rimmed in red with permanent tear trails marking her gaunt cheeks.

“No use anymore, I don’t know why I keep trying. If her father had stuck around she wouldn’t have done what she did. Sell herself she did, on the streets. She doesn’t care that she hurts me, she doesn’t care that she’s done wrong.” The woman lamented hysterically before continuing on her way down the street.

Watson knocked on the door of the governor’s house, explained his undertaking to the officer on duty, and was lead through the heavy oaken gate to the murky stone passage which led to the yards. Watson could hear pitiable crying as they crossed the yard for the more upright individuals of the prison population and headed towards the press-yard. Not just from the women, but likely from the boys and young men as well. The cries were eerie in the moonless night coupled with the sound of the rain pelting the stone and steel construct of the prison.

The turnkey opened the gate for Watson and his escorting officer. They crossed the yard swiftly while the chilly rain battered against their shoulders. Once the officer reached the building he led Watson to a narrow stair-case and the two men climbed upwards to access the condemned cells. The lights were out in the two lower cells, but candle light shone from the third cell at the top of the stairs throughout the small passageway. A man was heard singing a children’s rhyme, his voice carried softly from the cell.

“Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s;
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells at St. Martin’s;
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey;
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch;
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney;
I’m sure I don’t know,
Says the Great Bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed;
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.”

The officer unlocked the cell for Watson to enter. The prisoner was sitting upright on a bed on the floor eyeing Watson with keen expectancy as he entered. The man imprisoned inside must have indeed been wealthy for he resided in relative comfort when compared to the rest of the prisoners. He had a mattress, with a pillow, and a few blankets in his possession, as well as books for his personal convenience. He was not chained down in manacles either. He was relatively clean, which was also evident by the basket with the soap and bathing supplies inside. Watson could spy the signs of fever on him though, in the pallor of the man’s face and the rosy-colored spots visible on the man’s chest through his loosely buttoned shirt. Typhoid. This was not a surprise to Watson considering the conditions that most of the prisoners lived in. The man seemed familiar to Watson, but he could not quite place where he had seen the prisoner before.

“Good evening, James.” Watson greeted the man, setting his bag down beside the bed. “I’m here to inspect you and do what I can to make certain you stay healthy.” Prisoners died all the time in Newgate, despite this Watson was determined to do as Holmes asked, even if the act of kindness seemed to be cruel at heart. Sherlock wanted this man healthy and able to face his fate meeting the lady Justice standing strong, not sickly in bed.

“Your aid is much appreciated Doctor, thank you.” James replied. The comment may have been intended as sarcastic by the look in the man’s eyes, but the tone of voice implied only congeniality and gentlemanly manners. Watson proceeded in helping James stand on his feet and examining him over.

“You seem to be fighting off the fever fairly well by keeping clean as you are. Your condition could be worse, but I recommend immersing yourself in a cold bath, and I’ll speak to the governor about getting you fresher food and water.” Watson proclaimed after looking James over thoroughly. “May I ask why you were singing that children’s song?” Watson inquired of James, who had remained compliant and helpful the entire time.

“I was merely pondering on simpler times in life, of moments lost in the past that can never be recovered.” James answered graciously. Freed from Watson’s inspection he sat himself back down upon his bed gingerly. Watson packed up his bag, making certain all of his supplies and tools were accounted for.

“Do you feel any qualms for the life you have led? I imagine that in your situation you must have time now to be more introspective concerning yourself and what have you done so far in this world.” Watson’s hand was nearing the cell door to leave but he looked at James, waiting for his reply. At this point James laughed, a deep and dark laugh, not one of mirth or good humour. His dark eyes, shining with fever, narrowed at Watson.

“You will not find me clinging to a bible in my final hours, sir. I will not be begging God to forgive me for my trespasses. There is only a single regret I suffer from, but God can not help me in easing it.”  Watson’s hand faltered at the sound of sinister fervor in James’ voice. “My only regret is that I failed to kill Sherlock Holmes. Goodnight Watson. Please send my regards to Holmes, with reverential enmity, M.”

———

Thank you folks for tuning in, and until next time, that’s The Story So Far.