Friday, May 30, 2014

Lamentations of the Flame Princess (Pre-Play/Quick Read Through) Review

I have recently picked up the Lamentations of the Flame Princess "Rules and Magic" Book at The Wyvern's Tale (the friendly local game store). I have only flipped through it a couple of times and have not actually read through the rules. Though from what I have read it appears to be a D20 based system. The book itself does bare the the "18+ Explicit Content Warning". It is classified as a "Weird Fantasy" so I expect that when the Referee Book and the Bestiary comes out it will have some Lovecraftian type monsters and story elements.

The 2013 Free RPG Module "Better Than Any Man" takes place in medieval Germany. I picked it up last year but haven't had the chance to play it. The setting is incredibly dark and I find it a nice break from the fairy tale sort of settings that seem to be common in games such as "Pathfinder " (by Paizo Publishing) and Dungeons and Dragons 4e (by Wizards of the Coast). Now don't get me wrong I love both of those games and I took part of the play testing of D&D Next. But I have been yearning for a darker more gritty setting. I have been playing the Song Of Ice and Fire RPG, which accurately displays the feel and setting of the novels.  In my humble opinion I find that even with a quick read of this game, it definitely gives the world a incredibly gritty feel.

The artwork in the module and book is delightful. Mixing Old School artwork like those found in AD&D and the more recent Dungeon Crawl Classics, with modern style fantasy artwork. I have shared some that I found via Google. But most of the artwork, I would classify as NSFW.

All in all, I look forward to playing this game at Free RPG Day on June 21st. If you are in the Asheville Area, I will be running the 2014 Free RPG Day adventure at The Wyvern's Tale, I encourage you to join us!

Get the rules for free Here! It does not contain any of the art. So, I encourage you to go and buy the hardcover book at your FLGS so you can see the beautiful and disturbing artwork!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Jack O'Callahan Mystery: The Curious Death of Mr. Grove, Issue #2

Note: I didn't want to wait to share this! I plan to try and post every Wednesday.

     The foyer of the Grove Tower was a place of modern design. Stainless steel, glass and dark metal made up most of the design. The receptionist desk was crafted from dark wood and black marble. Silver letters reading “Grove Technologies” was emblazoned on the front. Couches, coffee tables and potted plants were scattered about. Men and women in business attire  moved in, out and around the foyer. Jack led Jenn to the elevator. He pressed the button to call the elevator. A couple of men in suits joined them in waiting for the elevator. Jack eyed them like a hawk. They wore much nicer clothes than he did. Probably custom tailored, he thought, thinking about how his store bought suit must stand out. The elevator arrived and they all got on. Jack and Jenn stepped in first claiming a spot in the corner. Jack selected the 50th floor. The other men selected their floors. The doors slid shut and the car began to rise. Quaint jazzy music played over the elevator’s speakers. The other people in the elevator trickled out, and eventually left Jack and Jenn alone.
     “I was wondering”, began Jenn, “How do expect to gain access to the office?” The elevator doors opened to the fiftieth floor. 
     “Just follow my lead.” said Jack stepping out. Jenn nodded and followed him out of the elevator. This floor was mostly corporate offices. Jack walked up to a the main receptionist’s desk A redhead with a boyish face manned the desk. She had a data screen attached to her horn-rimmed glasses. Her hands flew across the keyboard, and her fingers danced about the touch screens. She payed no attention to Jack and Jenn as they approached. Jack cleared his throat. She looked up, her glasses flashing from the light radiating from the computer screens.
     “Yes? Can I help you? Do you have an appointment?” she asked. She spoke in a hurried, stressed voice.
     “Uhh, no. I’m Detective Jasper, Twenty-Sixth Precinct.” said Jack flashing the badge, “This is my assistant, Sophie Donovan. We would like to take a look at Mr. Grove’s office.” The receptionist looked at them confused.
     “I thought the police had closed the case already.” she said.
     “Well, we just wanted to check over a last couple of things before we shelved the file, so to speak.” explained Jack. He leaned in close and motioned for the receptionist to do the same. “We suspect some foul play.”  The receptionist eyes widened.
     “You think someone might have killed him?” whispered the receptionist. She quivered with excitement Oh great. This one is a gossiper. 
     “Maybe. But you have to keep it quiet. The captain doesn't want the press to know until we are absolutely sure. Got that?” said Jack. The receptionist nodded. “Good. Could you point us to Mr. Grove’s office?” asked Jack. The receptionist nodded and pointed down a hallway.
     “It’s just down there. At the end of the hall. Here’s the key.” said the receptionist, pulling a key from one of her desk drawers. Jack took it, thanked her and headed down the hall.

     Mr. Grove’s office was paneled with dark wood and had black carpeting. It was just as big, if not larger than Jack’s office. There was a vacant secretary’s desk. A computer screen was built into the top of the desk. A solid mahogany door with the name “Anthony J. Grove, C.E.O.” displayed in bold gold letters opened into the rest of the office.It was a corner office, and tall floor to ceiling windows stretched around to provide a panoramic view of the surrounding buildings. Slatted blinds hung over the windows. There was a pane with black tape crossed over it. Rain drops pattered against the thick glass. There was a black leather couch and matching chairs surrounding a black coffee table. A mini bar was set into one wall and a fireplace sat near by.  A door that was nearly invisible due to the panelling lead into what could only be assumed as a lavish bathroom. A set of pegs jutted out from the wall, Jack hung his coat on one. An intricately carved dark wood desk sat with it’s back to one of the windows. A set of three computer screens were positioned on the desk. Jack whistled.
     “Wow, what I wouldn’t do for an office like this.” said Jack stroking his chin. 
     “It is incredible isn’t it?” said Jenn looking around in awe. Jack nodded. He walked over to the windows and rapped his knuckle on it. It made a deep resonance. 
     “Hmm.” muttered Jack.
     “What is it?” asked Jenn.
     “It’s this glass. It’s got to be about seven to eight centimeters thick. No one could throw themselves through it.” He paused. “It would have to have been already cracked for someone to even achieve throwing themselves out of it. Jenn, could you check his personal schedule? I want to know what he was up to for the past month.”
     “Okay.” nodded Jenn. She went to the secretary’s desk, leaving Jack in the office. He looked around. His eyes taking in every detail. The couch caught his eye. There was only one pillow. That’s odd. he thought, Why would someone only have one pillow on the couch?  He scanned the floor around the couch. Something under the leg closest to the window caught his eye. He crouched down to get a better look. It was a white feather. He picked it up with his thumb and index finger. It looked like a goose down feather. He pulled under his nose. The smell of gunpowder was faint, but noticeable. He pulled a sealable plastic bag from his jacket pocket and dropped the feather inside. He then picked up the pillow. He felt it. The pillow was definitely stuffed with goose down. He pulled a small notebook and pen out of his jacket and began to take down notes. He continued to look around the office, twirling the pen in his fingers. He slipped and the pen rolled underneath one of the chairs. He stooped to pick it up, but his fingers touched cold metal. He gripped the item and pulled it out. It was a shell from a gun. He looked at the rim of the shell, “HP 9mm AP” was stamped on the bottom. Well this is an interesting turn of events. A fired shell at the scene of a suicide. He heard Jenn come over to him.
     “What’s that?” she asked. Jack stood.
     “It’s a shell, from a pistol.” said Jack, “Hollow point, nine millimeter, automatic pistol.” He put it in another plastic bag. “So did you find anything from his schedule?” he asked. Jenn nodded and held up a thumb drive.
     “Yes, I copied it to this” she said referring to the thumb drive.
     “Good. Could you check out his personal computer?” asked Jack. Jenn nodded and sat down at the desk. A picture frame displayed an image of Maxine Grove and and older man that had to have been Mr. Grove. Jack picked it up. He inspected the picture carefully. Mr Grove sat on a park bench, his arm around his daughter. He had brown hair that was greying on the edges. He wore a toothy grin on his thin pointed face. There was a remarkable resemblance between the two. He was wearing navy blue suit with an indigo shirt and black tie. Maxine was wearing a blue cotton sundress that hung lightly over her feminine form. Her hair was held back in a loose braid that hung over her shoulder. Jack couldn’t help but smile. He hopped to have a family one day. He set the picture back on the desk. Jenn had pulled up his schedule and had begun to copy it to the thumb drive. The transfer finished and she ejected the drive.
     “Alright! Got it!” she reported.
     “Hěn hǎo!” said Jack, “Let’s get back to the office, before David gets too lonely.” They left the office, walked passed the receptionist and into the elevator.

     David was sitting at his desk with his feet propped up when they returned. His jacket was flung over the back of the seat, and he held a dumpling with chopsticks over a takeout box. He watched the rain running down the glass of the window. He heard the door open and stood to see who had entered.
     “So, how did the breaking and entering go?” he asked. Jack hung his coat on the coat rack before helping Jenn remove her coat.
     “We didn’t break in” said Jack hanging Jenn’s coat on the peg.
     “If you didn’t break in, then how did you gain access to the office?” questioned David. Jack smiled and held up the police badge. “Did you really? You know that’s a federal offense!” exclaimed David.
     “Well, they haven’t caught me yet. And I suspect Detective Forgrave won’t do much more than a slap me on the wrist.” said Jack. David thought about this remark for a moment.
     “Yeah, you are probably right. Detective Forgrave likes us too much. We are a valuable asset at times.” 
     “Exactly.” said Jack. He turned to Jenn. “Let’s take a look at that schedule shall we?” Jenn slid behind her desk and into the chair. She plugged the thumb drive and pulled up the schedule. Jack moved behind the desk to look at the screen. David went into the office to retrieve his box of dumplings. 
     “Let’s take a look at the week before he was murdered.” suggested Jack.
     “The secretary’s schedule or the personal one?” asked Jenn. David returned, munching on a dumpling.
     “The secretary’s” said Jack. Jenn selected the file and scrolled to the week of August 21st. There was a slew of various meetings and appointments. One name stood out, “Dr. Watcher”. 
     “Click on that one.” said Jack, “Doctor Watcher.” Jenn nodded and selected the date. The window expanded and displayed a more detailed description about the appointment.
     “Doctor Watcher. Chicago Education Institute.” read Jack. “What is that?”
     “It’s a private college.” said David. Jack and Jenn looked up at him in surprise for the swiftness of his response. He looked down at them. “What?! I did go to college remember, I thought about attending there.” explained David.
     “You dropped out after your first semester.” said Jack dryly.
     “How do you know?” interrogated David.
     “You told me. Remember?” responded Jack.
     “Oh. I guess I did” recalled David. 
     “Anyways.” began Jack. “Do you know of this Doctor Watcher?” David thought for a moment.
     “The name does ring a bell. Doctor Hannalore Watcher; I think that she is the Head of the Psychology Department.” he recalled.
     “Huh” grunted Jack, “So he was seeing a psychiatrist. But for what?” 
     “Maybe you should give Doctor Watcher a visit?” suggested Jenn. David smiled.
     “I like her. You picked a good one.” said David.
     “What does that mean?” asked Jenn, her eye brow arching into her forehead.
     “Uh…” stammered David. His face went red and he ducked into the office.
     “What just happened?” asked Jenn. Jack straightened.
     “I have no idea.” said Jack, “Back to the schedules.” Jenn opened Mr. Grove’s personal schedule. It was identical to the one that his secretary had except for one entry. It was just one name, “Jewel”. It was on the day of his death.  Jack looked at it quizzically.
     “Who could that be?” he wondered.
     “It sounds like a joy girl name.” said Jenn with a small amount of spite in her voice.
     “See if it comes up anywhere else in his schedule.” said Jack. Jenn scrolled through the schedule. The name appeared several times over the course of the past couple months. 
     “Looks like your hunch was correct.” said Jack, “She appears to be a joy girl. David! Come ’ere!” David poked his head out of the door.
     “Yes?” he answered.
     “I want you to go talk to this Doctor Watcher. I need to pay Cordell a visit.” said Jack begrudgingly.
     “Hey, If you don't want to go see that xìng yǐn zhě. I’ll go talk to Cordell.” said David.
     “I’ll do it.” stated Jack, "I've been meaning to pay them a visit."
     “Alright. I’ll give Doctor Watcher’s office a call and set up an appointment.” said David.
     “And I’ll go see what Cordell is up to.” said Jack.
     “Who’s Cordell?” asked Jenn.
     “A purveyor of information, and hard to get information at that.” said Jack. 
     “Like a hacker?” asked Jenn?

     “Something like that.” responded Jack.

Please comment! I love getting feedback!
Issue #3: Coming Soon

Why I Enjoy Writing Mystery/Crime stories.

So, I have discovered that I love writing mystery and crime stories. But why? Well first off it is incredibly easy. You take the crime and figure out exactly what happens. From there you come up scenes revolving around characters discovering clues. This allows the reader to piece together the clues as they read. Letting them figure out what is going on with the characters.

Secondly; it might be that I have a sadistic side, but I love coming up with ways to commit a murder. (To the NSA Operatives reading this, I am just a writer) The psychology of why someone kills is fascinating. There is usually a reason; lust, greed, hate, anger, contracts, etc. But sometimes there isn't. Maybe the perpetrator could be mentally deranged or psychotic. Something I hope to explore later.

I often find myself walking down the street and I pass an alley, and I think, "Huh, that would be a good place for a murder. Then I take pictures so I can describe the area later.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Jack O'Callahan Mystery: The Curious Death of Mr. Grove, Issue #1

It was late August, 2043; Chicago. Jack O’Callahan stood about six feet tall. He stood straight with the posture of a soldier. His square jaw was cleanly shaved. His eyes were grey and peered out from beneath thick eyebrows, and his dark brown hair was parted and combed back. His sleeves were rolled up and a tattoo of a raven holding a spear was visible on his fore-arm. He wore an underarm holster containing  a Drachen .45 Semi Automatic Pistol. He looked around. He stood in a large office with bay windows that were slated by venetian blinds. The room had two wooden desks, and was currently full of boxes. Empty filing cabinets lined one wall, and four cork boards leaned against one of the desks. Connecting to this room was a bathroom with a shower, and a room that he had dubbed, “The Waiting Room”, which connected to the hallway outside.  The doors connecting the office to the waiting room and the waiting room to the hallway had a pane of frosted glass. The waiting room was less full of boxes. There was a secretarial desk with an unplugged computer terminal. He had no idea how to set it up. There were some wooden chairs, not the most comfortable of things; and a leather couch. There was potted plant and an end table with a lamp. A coat rack stood in the corner. There was a door leading to a small bathroom as well.
     He heard someone enter. It was David Lang, his partner, and best friend. David was of Mandarin descent, though he didn’t quite look it. His father was an English man and his mother from Beijing. He definitely took after his father. He had a roundish face with short black hair. His nearly black almond shaped eyes were the only thing that resembled his mother. David was carrying a box which he set on one of the desks with a thud. He exhaled and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed his forehead.
     “Thats the last one.” he said. He looked around, “It’s a nice place.” Jack nodded and smiled.
     “It sure is.” he agreed. 
     “So, Where do we start?” asked David. Jack thought for a moment and looked around the office.
     “Let’s get the cork boards on the walls.” suggested Jack. David rummaged through a box and pulled out a hammer and a box of nails. They had put up two of the cork boards on the wall when they heard someone enter the waiting room. They looked at each other confused. Jack stepped into the room to see who it was.
Standing amid the boxes was a woman. She wasn’t the most attractive of things, but she wasn’t ugly either; an average woman of her mid-twenties Jack looked her up and down. She wore a white blouse, that clung to her with a hint of dampness from the summer city heat. The blouse was paired with a black pencil skirt and black heels. She had obviously dolled herself up. Her curled flaxen hair seemed to glow in the natural light streaming in from the open office door. She carried a black handbag and a manilla folder. Jack cleared his throat before speaking.
     “Excuse me miss, can I help you?” he asked. She looked at him with her big sapphire eyes.
     “Umm, is this O’Callahan and Lang Investigations?” she asked tentatively, her eyes darting to his holster.
     “Yes. Yes it is.” responded Jack. She seemed relieved. 
     “I’m Jennifer Bianco, I’m here for the secretary position?” she said. Jack paused for a moment before remembering.
     “Oh yes! I’m Jack O’Callahan, you called right?” he asked. She nodded. She opened the folder and pulled out a piece of paper.
     “Here’s my resume.” she said, handing him the paper. Jack skimmed it. He looked up at her.
     “I just have a couple of questions.” he said.
     “Okay.” she said.
     “How good are you at computers?” he asked pointing to the terminal on the desk.
     “Extremely good.” she began, before beginning to spout out terminology that was gibberish to Jack. He smiled. 
     “Wonderful! I'm not to great with them and my partner, David, isn’t much better than I.” said Jack, “What about your organization? We keep extensive non-computer records.”
     “Oh, I am very organized! Though I haven’t worked with non-digital records much” she explained.
     “Well, It’s not that hard. We like to keep the records from old cases, incase something similar comes up. I’ll explain in more detail later.” explained Jack, “And one last question. Are you good with a paint brush?” She seemed confused by the question.
     “I’m sorry. I’m not quite sure what you mean.” she stated.
     “Well, I would like to have ‘O’Callahan and Lang Investigations’ printed on the window on the door and the window in the office, and ‘Office’ printed on the office door.” he explained. She thought for a moment.
     “You wouldn't have to have them painted Mr. O’Callahan. You could get them printed as decals and then just stick them to the windows.” she said. Jack blinked. 
     “I never though of that.” he said, “Though I am not really up to date on these new techniques.” She grinned, her red lips parting to display a row of sparkling white teeth. Jack looked at the resume again. 
     “Well, Jennifer was it?” he asked. She nodded. 
     “Yes, but everyone calls me Jenn.” she said.
     “Okay, Jenn. It looks like you are perfectly suited for this job.” stated Jack.
     “Really?! Thank you!” she exclaimed. She was elated. 
     “Yes, Can you start tomorrow?” he asked.
     “Yes, of course!” she said. Jack turned to the office door.
     “David! Come out here!” he called. David emerged quickly.
     “What is it?” asked David. Jack stepped aside.
     “David, This is Jenn Bianco, she’s our new secretary.” said Jack.
     “Hello! I’m David Lang. Nice to meet you.” said David, holding out his hand. Jenn shook his hand.
     “Nice to meet you too!” she said. 
     “Alright. Could you be here by ten?”, asked Jack. Jenn nodded. “Good.” said Jack, “Here’s a key, and we will see you tomorrow.” He handed her a small silver key.  She took it, and left. They watched her leave. The scent of perfume hung in the air.
     “So, What do you think of her?” asked Jack.
     “Well, she is a pretty thing, isn’t she?” said David. Jack nodded in agreement.
     “Let’s get the office set up, and then go for a beer.” said Jack, “I’m paying.” 
     “Sounds damn fine to me!” said David.

     The next morning, when Jack arrived at the office it was already eleven. When he got to the door he noticed that lettering had appeared on the glass. It read, “O’Callahan and Lang, Private Investigators”, in a bold serif font. He looked at it for a second. Huh, he thought. He opened the door. The boxes in the waiting room had mysteriously disappeared. There was a tan coat hanging on the coat rack. Jenn must have cleared this up, he thought. The office door was a jar.  He noticed that the the word “Office” was printed on the glass in the same lettering as the front door. He stepped in. The office was now void of any boxes. Jenn stood at the window on a step ladder. She was leaning towards the window applying  letters that matched the ones on the front and office doors. She was wearing a simple blue dress. Black seams ran up the back of her legs and she wore similar shoes to the ones she was wearing yesterday. Jack hung his coat and hat on the coat rack. 
     “Good Morning Miss Bianco.” he said. She jumped and began to loose her balance. Jack ran over to her and caught her as she fell. She seemed flustered as he landed in his arms.
     “Oh! Mr. O’Callahan! You startled me!” she exclaimed. Jack set her down.
     “I’m sorry. Please call me Jack.” he said. “You ought to be careful on ladders. Speaking of which, where did you get it?” 
     “Oh, from the service closet in the hall.” she said pulling a blonde curl from her face.
     “Huh, didn’t know that we had a service closet.” he said. He looked around, “So what happened to all the files?”
     “Oh, I sorted them by name. Well the name that was on the tab.” she explained.
     “Good thinking.” he said, “But you did this in an hour?”
     “Well.” she said,pushing her hair behind her ear, “I kinda came in at eight. To get an early start.” She looked sheepishly at the ground. Jack was surprised.
     “Well, that kind of attitude will get you far in this business.” said Jack. Her face lit up and she smiled.
     “Really?! Thank you!” she exclaimed.
     “I like you, I think you are going to do well in this office.” said Jack, “Did you get the computer to work?” 
     “Oh yes, It was actually really quite simple.” she began to babel in words that Jack could only assume were computer terminology. He smiled a nodded.
     “Has anyone called?” asked Jack.
     “Nope!” said Jenn. The phone began to ring. “Speak of the devil.” said Jenn. She skipped out of the office and picked up the phone. Jack sat down at his desk. He could hear her answering the phone. 
     “Hello? O’Callahan and Lang Investigations? How can we be of assistance? Yes. Yes. Okay. We will see you then!” He heard the click of the phone getting hung up. He heard the clicking of her heels as she re-entered the office.
     “Who was that?” he asked.
     “A Ms. Maxine Grove is coming in she has a job for  you.” reported Jenn.
     “Wait, Maxine Grove, as in Grove Technologies?” he asked. 
     “I guess. She didn’t say. I guess we will find out.” said Jenn. 
     “What time is she coming in?” asked Jack.
     “Twelve” said Jenn. 
     “Thank you Jenn” said Jack. Jenn smiled, climbed the ladder and continued to place the lettering on the window. Jack leaned back into his seat. Things are looking up. he thought. He withdrew a cigarette case and an old-fashioned Zippo from his jacket pocket. He took a cigarette out a lit it. The ember glowed orange and the wisps of smokes hung in the humid air. Jenn looked at him from her perch on the step ladder.
     “You know, that’s incredibly horrible for your health.” she scolded.
     “Thanks for the concern.” he muttered, the cigarette bouncing as he talked. Jenn finished applying the letters. She stepped down from the ladder, folded it up and took it into the hallway. Jack leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk. He puffed on his cigarette.  He reached behind him and flipped the switch on the radio. After fiddling with the dials he decided nothing good was playing. Nothing more than disgusting pop music and dull talk shows. He took a final drag on the cigarette before stamping it out in a glass ash tray. He adjusted his posture and closed his eyes. 

     He must have drifted off to sleep, because when he opened his eyes Jenn was standing to over him. He jumped and cried. His had flew to his pistol, his muscles tensed.
     “Ta ma de!” he swore, his hard pounding. “Jenn! It’s only you!” He relaxed.
     “I’m sorry!” she cried, “It’s just Ms. Grove is here.” Jack pulled a cigarette out.
     “Send her in.” said Jack lighting the cigarette. Jenn walked to the door and opened it.
     “Mr. O’Callahan will see you now!” she announced. She stepped into the waiting room and left the door open. A pair of stockinged feet encased in a pair of black heels stepped into the room. Jack’s eyes moved up the athletic legs. She wore a knee length black dress, that clung to her curves. The collar of the dress plunged in a V-shape, exposing a small amount of cleavage. On her arm was a small black leather handbag. Her hands gripped a pair of gloves that matched her hand bag. Her skin was as pale and as smooth as white marble. Her brown hair fell out from underneath a black beret with a midnight blue feather stuck in it, and hung at her shoulders. Her chin was thin and pointed. Her lips were red like fire; they stood out against her pale skin. Her shadowy green eyes peered out from behind a small veil. He could tell that she had been crying. She looked lost, like a puppy in the park at midnight. She was a dame though. Probably turned every head walking down the street; men and women. Jack stood as she entered, setting his cigarette in the tray.
     “You must be Miss Grove.” said Jack, “Please, Have a seat.” She stepped daintily to the chair and sat down and crossed her legs. She pulled a handkerchief and dabbed her cheeks. “So Miss Grove, What can I do for you?” he asked returning to his seat.
     “Haven’t you read the papers Mr. O’Callahan?” she asked, her voice quivering.
     “No, I’m afraid I haven’t.” said Jack, “Been tied up, with a new office and all.” 
     “Well, since you don’t know. My father is dead.” she sniffled, obviously trying to hold back tears. Jack looked at her.
     “And your father is?” he questioned.
     “Anthony Grove, the owner of Grove Technologies.” she answered. Jack leaned forward.
     “How did he die?” he asked.
     “He was murdered.” she stated bluntly. Jack leaned back in his seat.
     “If he was murdered, why not go to the police?” 
“I did! But they said that it was suicide.” she began to openly cry. Hell, thought Jack, I hate seeing women cry
     “How did he die?” asked Jack. Ms. Grove sobbed quietly and didn’t answer. Jack offered her a cigarette. She took in in her thin fingers. He flicked open his lighter and held it out. She leaned forward and puffed on the cigarette. Her hands shook as she held the cigarette.
     “So. Can you tell me how he died?” he asked again in a more gentle tone. She slowly began to from words from sobs.
     “W-w-well. He was found on the pavement outside of the Grove tower.” she began, “The police said that he had thrown himself out of the window of his office on the fiftieth floor.” Jack blinked. My god. What a way to go. He picked up the cigarette in the ash tray and re-lit it.
     “So what makes you think that he didn’t do the dead himself?” he asked taking a drag off the cigarette.
     “Daddy was not the kind of man to do such a thing!” she cried. “Things were looking up! The company had posted record profits for the last quarter.”
     “Sometimes depression strikes for no reason.” said Jack.
     “He never showed signs of depression!” gasped Ms. Grove.
     “Maybe he hid it from you.” suggested Jack.
     “And why would he do that?” she asked.
     “As to not make you worry.” said Jack. Ms. Grove looked to the floor.
     “You don’t believe me either.” she breathed. “I knew I shouldn’t have come here!” She stood and began to storm out of the office. Jack stood and called after her.
     “Wait!” She stopped and spun to look at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Sit down”, said Jack in a commanding tone. She obeyed.
     “I’ll take the case. But it’s going to cost you.” he said.
     “How much?” she asked quietly.
     “Two hundred a day, plus expenses.” stated Jack. She reached into her purse and pulled out a black leather wallet.
“How about seven-hundred and fifty now? To get you started?” she asked, withdrawing some bills from the purse and laying them on the desk. Jack snatched them up like a crow grabbing corn from a feed bucket. He fingered the bills, counting. Sure enough seven-hundred and fifty dollars.
     “Alright doll face. I’ll see what I can dig up on your fathers death.” said Jack.
     “Thank you so much Mr. O’Callahan. If you find anything please give me a call. I’ll leave my number with your secretary.” she said, smiling for the first time. Her red lips framed a row of straight white teeth. He nodded and she walked to the door. When she opened it she nearly ran into David. After uttering an apology and an ‘excuse me’ she left the office. 
David turned to watch her leave.
     “Wow! What a babe! Who was that?” He asked.
     “Miss Maxine Grove. A new client.” said Jack. David hung is hat and coat before moving to sit behind his desk.
     “So, what are we doing for her? Did a piece of jewelry get stolen?” said David jokingly.
     “Her father was murdered.” said Jack dryly. The smile was wiped off Davids’ face. 
     “Murder?” he asked, surprised.
     “Yeah, that’s what she said any how.” said Jack, “The police said it was a suicide.”
     “You don’t believe her?” asked David.
     “I believe the seven-hundred and fifty dollars she gave us.” stated Jack, holding up the bills. David whistled.
     “Thats a lot of cash” said David. Jack nodded.
     “Do you you still have contacts at the police department?” inquired Jack.
     “Yeah, why?” 
     “I’d like to take a look at crime scene.” said Jack.
     “Well, If they did write it off as a suicide, it wouldn't be labeled as a crime scene.” explained David. 
     “Oh. Well that’s good news.” said Jack, “I’ll need to take a look at his office.”
     “It’s bound to have a lot of computers. It is a modern corporation.” said David, pulling an orange from his coat. He flicked out a switch blade and began to peel it.
     “I forgot about that.” said Jack, “I guess our new secretary will come into use sooner than I thought.”
     “What do you mean?” asked David popping an orange slice into his mouth.
     “She is very talented with computers.” explained Jack. 
     “So what do you plan to do with that talent? Didn’t they teach you how to use computers in the army?” asked David.
     “No, they taught us to kill. That’s all.” The words put a sour taste in his mouth.  “And you know very well that I’m not proud of what I did while enlisted. Why did you bring it up!?” spat Jack. David blinked.
     “I’m sorry.” apologized David.
     “It’s okay.” said Jack, “I know you didn’t mean anything of it.” Jack stood.
     “You want me to hold down the fort while you and Ms. Bianco go break into Grove Towers?” asked David. Jack pull his jacket from the rack.
     “If you wouldn’t mind. And we aren’t breaking in. We are going to ask. Nicely.” said Jack, opening a drawer on his desk and pulling out a police detective’s badge and tucking it into his pocket. David chuckled.
     “Alright. You kids have fun.” joked David. Jack smiled and stepped into the waiting room. 

     Jenn was sitting behind the desk. She looked up with a smile when Jack entered.
     “You heading out?” she asked. Jack nodded.
     “Jenn.” he began.
     “Yes Mr. O’Callahan?” 
     “I could use your help.” he said.
     “Anything you say.” she said joyously. She seemed eager to help.
     “I need you to accompany me to the Grove Tower.” said Jack. “There are bound to be computers that need to be accessed. And as previously stated I am terrible with the things.” Her face lit up. She jumped from her desk and grabbed her coat. Jack took it from her and helped her put it on before opening the door for her.
     “Oh, why thank you” she said, her cheeks flushed. They stepped into the hall and walked down towards the elevator. Jack pressed the button to call the elevator. 
     “So”, he began, “What drove you to work as a secretary at a private investigators office?” She looked up at him with those bright blue eyes.
     “I got bored.” she said plainly. The elevator arrived. The doors slid open and they stepped inside.
“You got bored?” inquired Jack. “Bored of what?”  He pressed the button for the ground floor.
     “Well, the dullness of working in various I.T. departments.” she started.
     “I.T.?” interrupted Jack.
     “Information Technology” responded Jenn. “I worked at the Simeon Corporation for two years. Mostly tech support. It got boring after the first six months. And I couldn't bend over a computer desk to fix something with out being ogled.” The elevator let them out at the ground level. 
     “I wouldn’t know how that feels. I think I'm fairly invisible to most women.” said Jack. Jenn looked up at him.
     “That can’t be true!” exclaimed Jenn, “You are a good looking guy. You’re tall and strong. Also you hold yourself well.” Jack laughed.
     “Thank you. You aren’t to bad looking yourself.” he smiled. She blushed for the second time. They stepped out to the curb and Jack hailed a Taxi. The taxi pulled up and they slipped in.
     “Grove Tower” said Jack to the cabbie.
     “So what exactly happened?” asked Jenn, “When that poor woman came in she was crying like a babe. I let her touch herself up before telling you she was here.”
     “She was Maxine Grove, of Grove Technologies.” explained Jack.
     “Oh! I heard about her father on the news. He threw himself out of his office window. Terrible shame.” She looked down at her feet, “Was that what she came to you about?” 
     “Shi.” affirmed Jack, “She thinks that he was murdered.” Jack looked out the window. The city horizon was grey with rain clouds.
     “Do you believe her?” asked Jenn.

     “I don’t know yet.” said Jack. He rubbed his upper lip with his index finger, thinking. The rest of the cab ride was uneventful. When they arrived there was a flash of lighting and a clap of thunder. Jack paid the cabbie and they hurried into the foyer of the building. They had no sooner stepped through the door before rain began to pour out of the sky.

Issue #2
Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Concerning My Mind

Hello, I'm Galen Fiore Kral. I have ADHD and bipolar. I have used writing as a way to express my emotions, views, and thoughts on the world. I have been told by my friends and family that I have a brilliant mind. I don't believe them. Yes, I weave my words, build incredible worlds, map them out, and develop languages for the people of my worlds to speak. But to me thats not brilliance. It's just how my mind works.

I think that most people don't see me for who I truly am. I seem to surprise people with things I know. It hurts at times. I am always nervous or afraid that I am going to say or do the wrong thing. I have gotten better at being out spoken, but it still is a terrifying concept. I have a friend who will remain nameless, and gender neutral. This friend was someone I thought I could trust. They were like a sibling to me. But they led me on and then stabbed me in the back. This person still thinks that I am their friend, I don't have the heart to truly make it clear, because of a tangled mess of reasons. I used to be very trusting in people, but now I have developed a darker more cynical view of the world and the people in it. This is portrayed in my newest writing project, "TechNoir".

As a writer I find it incredibly difficult to talk to people. I spend so much of my time coming up with the perfect words to place on the page, I find it next to impossible to engage in small talk with any new person. It doesn't help that I have an extreme dislike of small talk to begin with. I find it so incredibly stupid and dull. I find mundane things incredibly boring to write and to discuss.

Well this is all for now. I have things that need to get done.