Rockets - a series of puzzles
Anthology of short stories - Giant Tales, Through the Mystic Door
The first two chapters of Unremembered Loss
A short story - Fog
A Good Tale is now in the puzzle business. Our first puzzle series is a collection of model rocket launches from Blaster City California. If you'd like to purchase one before we get our on-line store up, just send us an email request.
We are proud to announce that Douglas G. Clarke has eight stories, four under his name and four that he ghost wrote, in the new anthology, "Giant Tales: Through the Mystic Door." Currently available exclusively as an e-book and paperback from Amazon, and includes sixty-one stories from sixteen authors.
On Kindle for $2.99 and in paperback for $7.99 - Through the Mystic Door
On Kindle for $2.99 and in paperback for $7.99 - Giant Tales: From the Misty Swamp
After a year off from academia, I needed a project to ease myself back into the rigors of daily research. A friend suggested that I look at the life of Annay of Maple Grove. Having heard parts of her story in the songs of traveling Bards, it sounded like a reasonable suggestion.
I spent a month at the great library in White Water doing research. During that time I pieced together some interesting stories, but nothing really intrigued me. Then I found one of Annay’s early journals. It was written from the time right before and through the Siege of Maple Grove.
I was both fascinated and cut to the quick. Her accounts of the suffering and the way the people of Maple Grove rallied around each other, touched me. As I read about her struggle with loss and how it changed her life, it brought back my own personal loss.
Several times in the next three weeks I almost packed my things and left because of the depression I was feeling, but something kept me there - a glimmer of hope. Our stories were very different, but in some ways they were very similar. I ended up spending another five months in that dusty old library. I was rewarded with several more of Annay’s journals, one of Samuel Gee’s journals, many maps, and other official documents.
I learned about the hundreds of people who died, about the sacrifices, and about the love in the midst of all the violence. I learned what it meant to have friends, and I realized that my friend, who started me off on this journey, knew just what he was doing when he suggested Annay.
After the six months I had learned much, but deep in my soul I knew it wasn't enough. I finally did back up my things, but instead of going home, I traveled to Maple Grove. I walked along its cobblestones streets. I retraced the foot steps of those who lived through the siege. The facts I had learned began to come to life for me. I needed to know more - to understand.
I spend that summer searching for people who had witnessed the siege firsthand. Fifty years had passed so the task was not trivial. With perseverance, luck, and not a few glasses of ale, I spent many hours talking to men and women who remembered.
They told me their stories. How they had lost loved ones, had farms destroyed, were left orphans or widows, and had to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and start over. Their stories touched me and often brought tears to my eyes. Surprisingly, at least to me, they wanted to know my story, too.
I ended up finding a home in Maple Grove that I didn't know I was looking for. I sent for my wife and we found a little apartment to call our own. I started what turned into a year long process of pulling together all of the threads and bits I have gathered and weaving them into a whole.
As I wrote, I wanted to honor the people I had come to care about. I was tempted at times, for the sake of the story, to leave my academic rigors behind and just be a story teller. I did not yield to those temptations and I believe the story is better for it.
The reward is the book you now hold in your hands. In it you will find copies of the primary sources I discovered: journal entries, maps, log books, speeches, and drawings. Along with these historical documents are the stories and people that I found so compelling. Stories of love, sorrow, adventure, soul searching, and of wrestling with God.
Along the way I found nuggets of wisdom in the form of sayings. Each story is begun with one of these that seems to capture the heart of the characters within. After the saying, I introduce the story. It is my way of adding context to the stories since there are gaps between many of them - history is funny that way. While I tried to be as accurate as possible in these notes they should not be taken as authoritative.
After my short introduction I present each story - built on the facts I uncovered and the memories of those who lived them.
I started this project to prove to others that I had overcome the loss of my son and that once again I could hold my own as a researcher at the university. What I found was that I didn't need to prove anything to anyone else. What I need was the same thing Annay needed. We both needed to embrace our Unremembered Loss.
The war took a turn for the worse today. We lost the last farms outside of the town walls, and the turpes and foeturs have completely surrounded us. They are staying just outside of arrow range, but I could see them clearly - taunting us by running forward to draw arrow fire and then retreating before the arrow reached them. A couple were hit, but hundreds of arrows missed their targets before the Captain told the archers to hold their fire. I augured with him, but he wouldn't let me go through the gates to get close enough to use my magic. It’s so frustrating.
I used the monocular Master gave me for my birthday - I wish I hadn't. I could see turpes’ naked bodies, barely covered with short black hair - I don’t understand how God could have created something so hideous. I was trying to figure out what they remind me of, but nothing really fit. Maybe the elongated face of a wolf, but their heads are wider and rounder like a great cat. Their bodies are like men’s, but shorter and more muscular, and the hair on their heads is matted and long.
The foeturs aren't nearly as hideous, but they’re huge. I’d guess they’re nine or ten feet tall. They look even larger when standing next to the turpes (I think that’s right: one turpis and two turpes). The foeturs looked big and powerful next to the scrawny turpes. I'm not looking forward to being next to one, I bet I'll feel scrawny, too. Thankfully they were wearing clothing. Unfortunately that clothing was leather armor. A few were wearing chainmail over their leathers.
After the last of the farmers and guards were safely inside and the town gates locked, the captain called everyone together. He asked for volunteers to go up into the mountains to locate the turpes’ camp and discover their plans - Cadmon, Hector, Julie, Red Beard, and I all volunteered. I'm glad the Captain didn't hold my arguing against me.
I can’t wait to get out into the woods again. Eight weeks is a long time to be stuck in town. It's been hard for me to focus when everyone is being so emotional. I understand that they've lost their farms and their families, but I wish they could be more disciplined.
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The fog rolled slowly up the valley, staying out of the sun's sight. It found a creek bed and followed its course as is twisted between the boulders and trees, the creek careful not to trap itself where it could not flow, while the fog gave little heed to such things and was just as happy to go over as about a boulder.
The fog filled the hollows and looked for shade even as the stray rays of sunlight burned its back. But still the fog pushed on with purpose in its movement, for it knew that others depended on it completing its journey. So even as the sun baked away its very essence, it pulled more moisture from the now distant sea.
The fog skipped onto a stone wall and was greeted by the smiling faces of a hundred flowers. It slipped over the wall and slid between the fence boards to embrace its love. It flowed around each flower, caressed each peddle, wrapped itself around each stem. The flowers danced with the fog's touch and drank deeply with its kiss.
The flowers knew this dance well, having danced it each morning, but the fog was less sure of itself for this was the first and last time it would venture this way. It knew that in mere moments its life would end - evaporated by an unyielding sun, but it knew that this is what it was meant to do. That it must do like its ancestors had for generations unknown and that its ancestors would do after it was gone – to fight against the sun, against the trees and boulders, the walls and fences, so that it could embrace the flowers and give to them its life.
As the danced continued, and the flowers were left glowing, the fog gave up its last. No longer could it feel its connection to the sea, the sun having severed that connection. No longer did it push forward in search of other flowers - it had found its love. Its thoughts faded as its body did. Now only faint thoughts - love, peace, embrace.
As every day before, it knew that fighting was pointless. Compared to the might of the sun what was it? And so it lay down to die, hugging the ground, hiding beneath the flowers' leaves, but not fighting the end, knowing that its sacrifice would mean that the flowers could fight against the sun and, if only for a season, win.
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