Spring is Here – Weekly Update

It’s been a pretty good week for writing. I hit my 2500 word challenge this week, no problem. Already 500 words into this week’s. I still have no idea where the story is going, in fact I’m starting to worry. Every scene that I come up with doesn’t fit. I have one idea that I’m heading towards, fast, and after that? I don’t know. Hopefully something comes along, otherwise this will get forgotten about like so many other stories I’ve started.

I’m feeling positive, though. I’ve not sat in front of the screen and written nothing, yet. The words flow, but only at a snail’s pace. It took me a lot longer to write the 500 words today, than it does normally. Hopefully it picks up again soon. If not, then I’ll head back to The Broken Pocket Watch. It’s close to being finished, and I have that pretty much mapped out. I just needed to get this idea down first.

I’m pretty sure I will be uploading new writing on here next week at some point. I’m going to start editing tomorrow, and then that should be well underway before next week so I can get ahead before putting it on here. I plan on writing a new post about that later in the week, once I’m sure of what’s going on.

My challenge of reading one book a week has really faltered. It’s only week 3. I did read The Trial by Kafka in a week. That one went well, it was only around 200 pages though. Last week I only read half of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, which I have now finished. I wanted to finish that and read the whole of A Monster Calls by today. I haven’t read much of the latter. I’m about a quarter of the way through it. My plan is to finish that and Moon over Soho by this time next week. I started reading Moon over Soho last year, so I’m cheating and hopefully will get to start a new book fresh next week and stay on track. Probably not though.

I enjoyed Norse Mythology quite a bit. It didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed my time reading it. I knew nothing about the Norse Gods before, and now I know a little. At some point I would like to read more about them, but that will have to wait. I know about Ragnarok, which other than being the title to the new Thor film I’d never heard of before. That will have to do for now. I thought the collection of stories worked really well as it heads slowly towards the ever impending fate of the Gods. At times it is funny, others truly gruesome. I would recommend the book to anyone looking for a quick fun read.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update – Norse Mythology

I’ve already failed my weekly challenge. Week 2 and already faltered. I was aiming for 2500 words, but just missed the 2000 mark. Not that good, but I’ve already done over 1000 this week. So I’m ahead at the moment. I’m still in the post-opening slump that I suffer through on most of my stories. I have no idea where I’m going with it, less than last week. Some ideas that I had no longer fit into the story, which is often the case. I don’t know where it’s going, I’m just hoping it’s somewhere good.

My plan is to carry on writing tomorrow morning, and hopefully get close to another 1000 words. I want to get 3000 words this week, since that makes up a little for last week. I’m also hoping that if I can just keep writing ideas will come and It’ll start to fit into place. I’m also planning on putting some of my older stories on here next month some time. I have a plan, and will go over it more once it’s more certain. I have to edit things, which is something I always put off.

I didn’t read all of Norse Mythology this week, I’m just over half way through. So far I’m enjoying it, but I don’t think about it once I’ve put the book down. I then have to force myself to carry on reading, but once I start I’m engrossed. I know nothing about the Norse Gods, other than the Marvel adaptations. So I know nothing. Neil Gaiman’s book is definitely a work of love as he re-imagines the timeless tales. I definitely want to read more about them, and find out as much as possible.

So even though I’ve already failed my challenge of one book read and 2500 words written, on the second week. I’m still going to push forward and not give up, at least not just yet. My book for this week, once I’ve finished Norse Mythology is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The film adaptation is one of my favourite films of the year so far, so I’ll love the book even more. I hope to finish it by next Monday, but we’ll have to see how badly I fail next week.

 

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13/03/17

My  updates on here are pretty much non-existent. It’s not because I’m not writing, because I am (more than ever). It’s just because I don’t feel ready to share anything yet, since I don’t want to upload the start of a longer story when I’m not happy with where it’s going yet. I have two stories that I’m working on. The Broken Pocket Watch, which is nearly finished. I’m about 10000 words away from the end and have near enough every scene mapped out.

The other story is untitled, but currently saved as Forsaken on my laptop. It’s the one I’m putting my main focus on at the moment, I’m just under 12500 words on it. I have an idea of where it’s going, but it’s constantly changing as I write. I think that’s a good thing. I’m writing most days, and feeling good about the results.

I want to update this blog more often, so I’ve decided to challenge myself, in a way. I want to write 2500 words a week and read one book a week. Every Monday I will write a post about whether I hit these targets or not. I decided this last Monday, and managed to achieve it this week.

I only wrote on four days this week, due to late finishes at work. I didn’t think I’d gotten anywhere near 2500 words to be honest, but after I’d finished I found I was pretty close to 3000. I’m really happy with that, since it’s not taking that long. I’m playing music, and just writing. I’m trying to write solidly for the whole album, though I do get distracted often.

I’m just leaving the beginning stages of Forsaken, which is where I always start to feel nervous. For the first 10000 words I feel like the words just flow out so easily. Once I hit that mark, things seem to slow and the ideas stop. I always feel that if I can get passed 15000 words I’m going to make it to the end of the story. I know where some future scenes take place, but getting there seems to be turning into a struggle. I hope I get through this, since I’m really happy with the story so far.

The Trial by Franz Kafka was the book this week. It is one of the strangest and most confusing books I’ve ever read. I didn’t know much about it before I started, but had heard the term Kafkaesque used often and wanted to see where this came from. I chose The Trial simply because it was the only book of his I’d heard of. I’ve since looked into other stories by Kafka and will be looking to read them soon.

The whole story is set in a dreamlike world. Things feel familiar, although they are presented in alien ways. K, the protagonist, has been arrested yet is still allowed to go to work and move around freely. The freedom is a complete illusion though, as he slowly gets bogged down by his unknown case. He never finds out what he is accused of, and neither does the reader. The court is held in an apartment building, with the offices taking up the dark and dingy attics. Every one he meets seems to be connected to the court, from the painter he seeks advice from to the priest who knows about K’s case, despite having never met him before. The twisted story is full of striking scenes and is definitely going to stay with me for a long time.

I could probably write an entire post just about my thoughts on it, but I won’t. I’m going to think about it more, and let it settle in my mind.

The next book I’m going to read is, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. A recent book, that I bought at a talk Gaiman did in London. He read out a chapter and spoke about the reasons for writing it. I really enjoyed the talk, and hope the book proves to be as good as some of his earlier novels.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Thoughts on Resident Evil 7 – Spoilers

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this game since it was announced, only 7 months ago. After the lackluster Resi 6 I wasn’t expecting much from the series. Revelations was good, but revelations 2 felt like a step back. Clearly Capcom looked at PT, the demo for the now cancelled Silent Hills, and thought they might as well take a stab at actual horror again, and not over the top action shooting everything that moves that they tried so desperately to perfect over the last few games. While at first glance this may seem like a PT copy-cat, it really isn’t. If it wasn’t for the change to first person, there probably wouldn’t be much comparison at all. But that change is a breath of fresh air. It makes the house seem smaller, you have to move yourself to see around corners, rather than a camera. When you are being stabbed or jumped at, you really are being stabbed or jumped at. It feels intense. (I can only imagine what it would feel like in VR)

The visuals in the game are simply jaw dropping. The opening scene of a car driving through the middle of nowhere, pure stunning. I genuinely thought it was real footage, until the camera changed into the car. This is one of the best looking games I’ve played, and especially a horror game. Every little detail, from the moths flying around lights, to the creepy walls and ceilings. To the way the light reflects from the candles. It’s stunning. There are some truly creepy moments in this game, with gore around near enough every corner. It looks real, there isn’t any cringe worthy animation here.

The story is a departure from the wide spread zombie, or other virus, infestation that I’ve come to expect from the series. Instead it’s a much more isolated and individual story. In the middle of nowhere, you are searching for your missing wife, after receiving a really vague, and seriously not that convincing, email that she is in this house and wants you to come get her. You become trapped in this house, this nightmare. The Baker family want to hunt you down and kill you, and you don’t have much to defend yourself against these near immortal beings. Unlike the recent, bullet crazy, games in the series, this time I constantly found myself low on ammo, having to rely on my knife, or more likely fidgeting in my seat as I awkwardly try to run around the enemies in the tight corridors. Every bullet counts, and I winced every time I missed a shot.

The Baker residence feels like a throwback to the mansion from the original game, in the middle of nowhere, with no one coming to help. It’s isolating, creepy, and makes you feel helpless as you try to find a way to escape. It’s the perfect setting for a Resident Evil game. I felt completely alone as I walked around the house, desperately avoiding any enemies I came across. It’s only intensified by Ethan, the character you play as, not coming from STARS, or some over government agency, like most other resi evil characters. You’re just a normal guy, who comes completely unprepared to find your missing wife.

This feels like an old-school Resident Evil game, with the constant backtracking to unlock doors with a new key. Locked doors that you need to insert an emblem to open, part of which is hidden somewhere you would never look but find accidentally and have no idea what it is you’ve found. At the same time it feels fresh. The high levels of gore and violence for one thing. I wasn’t sure if I failed somehow when I had my hand cut off in the opening area, only to carry on playing with one stump. My mind jumped to Evil Dead, I wanted a chainsaw for a hand, but instead in similar style it’s stapled back on. The stupidity of it fades off fast as the intense dinner scene takes place. The antagonists are introduced and I feel like I’m not going to survive, hand or no hand. They are terrifying, relentless near enough unstoppable. The earlier parts of the game are spent avoiding them at all costs, or they will hurt you.

That leads me to a minor problem I have. At one point, I was caught and had my foot cut off. It was gross, I was sure that “you are dead” was about to pop up on screen, but instead I just lay there, and then I realised I could move, as I pulled myself around I found I could pick up my foot, but I’d already wasted enough time and died. In the loading screen it told me to act quickly to put back severed limbs. I wish this happened to me again, so I could react. But even though I died again and again in many various ways, I never had my foot cut off. I wanted to see what was going to happen, how I reattached it. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The other problem I have was the AI. For the most part, I was terrified of the monsters. They were powerful, I was helpless. I couldn’t kill them all, and struggled against most single enemy encounters, let alone a hoard of them. I ran passed most of the enemies and they are too stupid to open doors, which was a constant relief. That was well designed, it was tense. I would run into a room, dart about in a circle, grab an item and escape, shutting the door behind me. I don’t have a problem with that, it works. But the main antagonists. They are walking around too, and you cannot kill them. You can stun them, but they will carry on and they will kill you in a fight. But for the most part you can run around them. They are slow, and not very bright. Alien Isolation, this is not. They will stand still and shout they’ve spotted you and then make chase, by which point you are around two corners, through a door, and they are no where to be seen. Once I realised that they were no issue at all. It kind of feels like a let down, because they are no real bother at all, only a mild irritation. It takes away the horror of fighting them, at least until you are trapped in one of the boss fights. Then it’s panic and die time.

There is a section late into the game, that really drags the game down a peg or two. After you escape the Baker residence you find yourself on a wrecked ship. Interesting change of pace, but then it goes on and on and on and on, kind of like this post. I hated this bit. At first I liked the change of scenery, but in the end it just feels like pointless padding to make the game have some kind of length. At this point in the game the horror has dissipated. I have bombs that take away the threat of everything, and they are a plenty. It’s boring, and serves little to the game. It’s during this scene that it explains one of the biggest plot points, but it would have been better if it was just that and then back to the fun part.

Like the tapes. They are a brilliant mechanic. Ethan watches, as you take control of whoever is holding the camera in these videos. They show you new areas in the game, that you will soon find as Ethan. It gives some brief relief from the tension of the main game, and helps you solve puzzles. Some of these are optional, so you feel like you are uncovering secrets as you play through them. It’s a brilliant idea, although I was wondering how one character got a camera to film one of these scenes. It’s an odd, almost b-movie technique, completely fitting in with stapling your hand back on, or however you can reattach the foot.

There is one other thing I want to write about, and that’s the name. Resident Evil 7. It’s not an important point, and the only reason it bothers me is because I’ve been a fan of the series for such a long time. This is not a Resident Evil game, at least not in the sense of how it fits into the wider universe. There is little mention of the other games, and while finding an article that references the outbreak of Raccoon City was a nice touch, the other links (the ending) feels forced and out of place. It sticks to the formula of a resident evil game. But I don’t think it justifies the number 7. It should have just been a side game. I imagine that was down to marketing, to give the series a much needed reboot and the number would help sell games. This isn’t a throw away side story, this is the next instalment of one of the longest running game series ever.

Overall this game is incredibly well made. The visuals, the sounds, the enemies. It’s all near perfect. There are a few things that let it down, but not much. It’s a brilliant game, and even though it’s only about 7 (funny that) hours long, it’s worth playing. And I do think that Evil Within and Alien Isolation prove that horror games shouldn’t outstay their welcome. The length feels natural, even though the ship section pads it out a little too much. It’s the most tense I’ve felt with a horror game in a long time. It’s genuinely scary at points, and not just because of pointless and overused jump scares. What more can you ask for from a Resident Evil game?

8/10

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chapter Seven

Lizzy won’t leave me alone, follows me as if I’m a sick puppy. Constantly trying to look after me. I want to be left alone for a second. The moment I left the bedroom she was there. Trying to make me something to eat. Something to drink. Trying to pry herself into my evening however she can. I understand why she would want to. She’s just looking after me. She’s seen the video.

“Is there anything I can get you?” She asks for the hundredth time.

“No, honestly I’m good. I’m just getting some toast and then I’m going back to bed. Just enjoy your evening.”

“I can make that for you.”

“I’m capable to make toast. Thank you.”

“Yeah, but you’ve had a bad day. At least let me make you a drink. Hot chocolate?”

“If that will make you leave me alone.”

“See not so difficult. Oh, looks like we have no milk. I can make it with water?”

“Just leave it.”

“I’ll go to the shop. Don’t move a muscle.”

“Seriously, Lizzy. That’s enough now. Just stop it. I’m fine honestly. I know you want to look after me, but honestly I’m fine. There is nothing wrong with me.”

“You can’t be alright, no normal person would be. Not after what you’ve lived through today.”

“Well I am, honestly. Just let me go back to my room and get some sleep. I’ll be alright in the morning.”

“If you need anything just call me. I’ll come running.”

“I know you will.”

I went back to my room, and sat on my bed. One hand to eat the toast, the other to load the video on my phone again. I sit there and watch it a few more times. I’ve turned the volume down so Lizzy can’t hear it, but it’s loud enough for me to hear the gasps and screams. I’ve studied each of their faces. Every little detail.

After watching it, I don’t know how many times, I scroll down and look at the messages. I place the empty plate on the bed and stare at the first comment. No profile picture, but named Jules and Louis. The comment reads, “You deserve whats coming”. I can’t believe it. It’s got the most likes and comments. Who is it? Why would someone write that. Most of the replies agree that we deserve to be punished. A few defend us, especially after Lydia, and a couple even comment on the lack of apostrophe in what’s. The internet is typical. Someone is trying to scare us, and instead of manning up, they just hide behind their username. I hate it. I have to tell Louis. Maybe he’s already seen it. I just need to speak to someone and he’s the only one who will understand. I close the app and pull up the contacts. I press Louis and put the phone to my ear as it rings. I wait, whispering come on under my breath. Nothing. Straight to voicemail. I try again, and nothing. Again. Nothing. What’s going on. Louis is never that far away from his phone. I’ll leave it five minutes, and if he doesn’t answer, then I’ll go round. It’s just down the street.

He didn’t answer. The cold street welcomes me like an old friend, wrapping it’s frozen fingers around me and dragging me outside without question. I didn’t tell Lizzy I was going out. She was in her room, and that’s where she will stay. This would probably worry her and she would want to come as well. I decided it was best for her to stay at home. Even in my coat it’s cold. Colder than it was earlier. I almost regret not getting gloves, even though it’s only just down the street.

His house looks empty. None of the lights are shining through the windows. Maybe he’s gone out with the rest of his house mates. They were out drinking today. Maybe he caught up, not wanting to be alone tonight. He would still answer his phone though. I hurry down the path to the front door and knock on the door. It opens without any pressure. That’s weird. The latch is on. I take it off and walk in.

“Louis? You home? Your door was open,” I shout.

Nothing. I shut the door behind me and walk into the hallway. There is a living room to the left and stairs in front of me. I walk to the doorway and peer inside. No one there. Maybe he’s in his room. There are no lights on in the house, the landing is near enough in complete darkness. The floorboards creak with each hesitant step.
“Louis?”

Nothing. I hover outside his room, not wanting to go in. I just feel something bad is going to happen. It’s not just what happened today, but Lydia last week as well. No one knows who did it. Who killed her. Or why? I put one hand on the door and slowly push it open. The room is empty. I pull out my phone and call him one time. Leaning slightly on the door frame, looking at his scattered room. Rubbish and clothes all over the floor, and the distinct scent of sweat. It starts ringing, and then a ring tone echoes from somewhere else in the house. I turn around. It’s behind me. Is this not Louis’s room? He doesn’t answer the phone either way, and it ends up going to voicemail. I walk towards the room the ringing was coming from. The door’s shut. I already have one hand out when I reach it. My phone tightly gripped in my other one. Pushing the door open reveals another empty room. An unmade bed, more clothes. A few books. Nothing out of the ordinary. I ring Louis again.

It’s definitely in this room. I kick a pair of jeans out of the way, and there’s the phone. Where is he. It’s not like him to leave his phone anywhere. A creak echoes behind me, freezing me in place. A cold ripple moves across me, before I dare turn around. Then the door swings shut. Louis has jumped out from behind the door and shut it.

“Did you see him?” he whispers.

“Who? No.”

“There’s someone in the house. I’m sure of it.”

“I didn’t see anyone. Did you call the police.”

“No, I wanted to make sure. It could just be someone being an idiot, I’ve been hiding in the wardrobe. I couldn’t get out to get the phone. I was wishing you would just leave. How did you get in?”

“The door was open, on the latch. That’s probably what you heard, the door moving in the wind. There is no one here.”
“Did you shut the door?”

“No, probably should have done, but you know how it is? I was scared. Thought a clown or something was in here.”

“This isn’t a horror film.”

“You were the one who thought someone was in the house, hiding in a wardrobe for half an hour.”

“You can’t prove it, and I was only doing it test you. Because I’m not a scaredy cat.”

“Really? Come on lets close that door, before you become one.”

I lead the way back through the door and towards the stairs. As I reach the top of the stairs, I freeze in place. The door is shut. I can see it from here. I didn’t close it. I’m sure of it.
“What’s up?” Louis asks.

“The door. It’s shut. I didn’t shut it.”

There’s a clatter from downstairs. Sounds like plates smashing on the floor.

“I know you’re here,” a voice says. “No use hiding. I’m coming to get you, it isn’t going to be quick. It isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to hurt. You’re going to pay for what you did to my boy.”

Neither of us can move. We’re both frozen in place. Louis just behind me. We can’t move. The floorboards will squeak too much. He’s going to find us. My legs start shaking, sweat forming all over.

“Back to the room,” Louis whispers. “Now.”

I follow, both of us creeping along the landing. He knows where to stand, probably gotten used to having to be quiet at night. He leads me back to the room and shuts the door behind us.

“Under the bed,” he says. “And for God’s sake turn your phone to silent. I’m going to call the police.”

I nod, not knowing what to do. Slowly I lower myself to the floor and crawl under the bed, while Louis bunches up a load of clothes so I’m hidden. I can smell the sweat, fags and booze. My heart beat echoes in my mind.

“Hi, yeah, I need the police right now. There is someone in my house. Yeah it’s 124 Cranstin Road. Yes, please send them quickly. He’s here. I think we’re safe for now. We’re hidden in the bedroom, I haven’t heard him come upstairs yet. Thank you. I don’t know. I’m not sure about weapons. I didn’t see him, just heard him.”

Louis carries on whispering, I wonder where he is. It sounds like he’s all around the room, shouldn’t he be back in the wardrobe.

“There’s two of us. Jules is under the bed. I thought it best to hide her. I’m just hoping he goes away. I haven’t heard him in a while. Maybe he thinks we’re not here. Yes I think he’s here to hurt us. He was smashing plates downstairs.” More silence. “Two minutes. That’s great.”

I pull out my phone to check the time twenty three to nine exactly. We can do this. We can survive.

“Wait a second, I think he’s coming up the stairs now. I’m going to go quiet.”

I hear some slight shuffling, and then a load crack.

“I love that sound,” someone shouts. “I’ve just thrown my knife into a door, if you were wondering. I’m going to search that room, and then let my knife choose again. You may be lucky this time Louis, but you won’t be forever.”

How does he know his name. Is he the one from the video. The one in the comments. Is that how he knows us. Is this the boys dad? No it can’t be. It just can’t be. It was an accident. An accident. I can’t believe this. I didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident.

“I’m coming to get you.”

Less than a minute.

“Not that one, maybe this one. Oh hello. I can’t believe you would just wait here like that for me.”

“Now come on, I don’t know what you’re doing here, but just calm down.”

“I’m calm. Just like you were when you killed him?”

“Killed who? That boy earlier? He isn’t dead.”

“It’s all the same to you, though isn’t it. He’s in hospital right now, when he should be at home.”

“Please, just put the knife down.”

“I’m afraid I can’t. This is how it has to end.”

“Please, just calm down.”

“I told you, I am calm. Does that hurt.”

Muffled screams echo in my ears. I want to crawl out and help, but I can’t do anything.

“You don’t need to do this.”

“You would say that, lie still and this will be quick.”

A sudden weight is shoved onto the bed, and then another on top of it. God. He’s climbing on top of him.
“We didn’t mean anything. It was an accident. Please, I swear.”

“That isn’t good enough right now, I’m afraid. Where is the woman? At her house? I’ve been there. There was no one there. Where is she? Here?”

“No I haven’t seen her.”

“Sure you haven’t. She’s under the bed? No. In the wardrobe? She’s in here. You don’t need to tell me, I’ll find her. Just let me do this first.”

The weight on the bed shifts, as it’s franticly squeaks, trying to escape. I can’t do anything.

“It’s over now. Jules. Where are you? Come out to play.”

What do I do? What do I do? It’s been two minutes. Where are they? What’s going on? Why is this happening. I can’t stop crying. Why is this happening.
“You under the bed then? If you’re not in the wardrobe, then that’s where you are. I’ll give you five seconds to get out, and I’ll make it quick. Five, four, three, two. No? Really? I’m going to enjoy this, probably a little too much. One.”

Chapter Eight

I have blood on my hands. I’m covered in it from head to toe. Is this justice? Was it worth it? I found them both. The internet is a wondrous thing. People are so willing to talk. But was it really worth it. They’re not here anymore. They will never be coming back. It was worth it. Of course it was worth it. They nearly killed my boy. They deserved everything. The sirens are ringing in the street. They’re a welcome relief.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment