Zoned: A Setting


A weed right outside my door. . . bloody things will survive the apocalypse, I guarantee it!


Nothing but weeds.

They choked the life out of anything else that might have grown. Not that anything else could have grown. The earth in the Zone was contaminated – abused by man and trained to hate all that walked across it.

He squatted in the dirt and fingered a hoary leaf. It stabbed back at him.

Worthless. It wouldn’t even give up moisture. Or, if it did, the nectar would be corrupted with poison.

The sun was high and the sky blazed a merciless copper. The air was breathless with heat. He draped his head and passed through the desolation man had wrought. He was a lone figure, a ready target, as he made his way back to the City.

The Zone was a land made bare, stripped of all that was good and clean. Stripped of anything a man might use to survive, outside the City.

It wasn’t enough that they’d poisoned the sky. No. The Greys – the people of the stars – had helped them clear that many years ago. It was the earth, they said. Even the Greys could only help them make the City livable.

It was a lie.

They had salted the earth long after the skies cleared – long after the Greys departed the world. All of it – as far as the eye could travel from their glittering towers, and as far as a man could run in a day – had been destroyed by man, after.

And a day was all a man had before the dreadnoughts caught up with him. Before the poisoned wasteland crippled his insides, made his bowels burn and turn to water. Few made it to Beyond, to the wild green that lay hidden, just outside the borders of the Zone.

Beyond the beyond

Beyond the beyond… also, the summertime view outside my house.

Those that did reach Beyond were loath to return. He was the only one to make the trip twice, and here he was, returning for a third time to the wasteland of modern marvels.

He had not been born there, amid its glittering towers. He was not an oligarch’s son, nor plebian drone. Nor was he one branded a Contaminate – a man who suffered to return to the City after escaping to the Zone.

No, he had been born in the Beyond, amid the green and growing things. He had been born, free to breathe and thrive in sunlight. He had stood on sturdy legs beside his mother as she did the washing, and skulked among the trees with his father as he did the hunting.

And he had left it behind to go to the City. He had followed a prophesy – attempted to claim what was his and free a people who had no idea they were slaves. He had failed.

No, he was not an oligarch’s son, nor a nameless drone. He was Samuel, and he was going to the City take back what was his.


A setting, a preamble, an introduction – whatever you want to call it, it’s all in the name of the WordPress Challenge of the Week: The Setting’s the Thing . Samuel’s intro is also part of The Heresy of Before universe, established here and here.

If you want even more Heresy of Before, check out Spirit Keeper, a Heresy of Before mystery serial debuting right here on the blog: Part 1 | Part 2

He Pleads . . . Fireworks?

Guess who this guilty pleasure belongs to...

Guess who this guilty pleasure belongs to…

A: Come on, D. Spill it. What are your guilty pleasures?

D: A, I’m as close to an ascetic as one can be.

A: That is a load of malarkey – you’ve taken ‘warrior-priest’ to a whole new extreme. Besides, I happen to know your heart still beats in double-time whenever Mairead sidles by.

D: Perhaps – but that is not something for which I feel guilty. Besides, it is not yet our time – and I shall not be some faithless cad–

A: Okay, okay – God, you are so pedantic. What about other things?

D: Other things?

A: You know, food. TV shows. Books. Your love of cats, even though you keep decrying the lack of war hounds in my home?

D: I never—

A: I didn’t say those were true – except for the last one. Ha!

D: One can love cats and hounds, A. I appreciate cats for their mystery.

A: Right. And not for their fluffy bellies, and their ecstatic chasing of the little red dot.

D: Oh. You heard that, did you?

A: You are in my head. I hear everything.

D: Oh.

A: Yeah. Okay, so we have cats on the list. Anything else?

D: I didn’t say—

A: Anything else?

D: You are relentless.

A: You aren’t answering the question.

D: Fine. Katy Perry songs.

A: Katy Perry?

D: Yes.

A: . . . Forgive me, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one. I mean, I enjoy her songs and all, but um, it just doesn’t jive with my vision of—

D: Did you know you’re a firework, A?

A: Wow.

D: And, A. You’re original, cannot be replaced.

A: Okay, you can stop now. I can see why maybe you’d consider that a guilty–

D: Hey – you know what, A? I’m not ashamed. I’m proud. You hear that world? Proud!

A: . . . Okay then. Well, on that note—

D: Not so fast, A – what is your guilty pleasure?

A: Mine? Oh, well. I don’t–

D: Come on, spill it.

A: Fine. Potatoes.

D: Potatoes?

Yep. Potatoes. I even go so far as to grow them!

Yep. Potatoes. I even go so far as to grow them!

A: Yeah. Potato in all its delicious, carby forms: chips, crisps, fries. Baked, mashed, twice-baked breaded and deep-fried. Scalloped and creamed, boiled alive—

D: Okay, okay, I get it – please stop waxing lyrical about potatoes.

A: Oh come on, D – I think I feel a poem coming on!

D: And on that note, we are definitely going to bid you all a fond farewell!

A: Do you have a guilty pleasure? Drop a line in comments. Thank you for stopping by and reading!

* * *

For the Daily Post challenge: No Apologies

Light of the World

The shiny kid on the far right: that's The Boy.

Photo of the Mukwonago Chief’s article on the show. The shiny kid on the far right: that’s The Boy.

D: So what, you’re just going to throw a couple pictures and a video up here and call it a post?

A: Yeah, that was pretty much the plan.

D: . . .

A: Don’t give me that look, Druid – I know I’ve been lax in blogging, and writing, and editing (not to mention cleaning – yikes!)–

D: Lax! What is this lax malarkey? Lax is kind – you’ve been downright negligent. Wait, why are you smirking?

A: You used the word ‘malarkey.’ I love that word, and it makes it impossible for me to take your scolding seriously.

D: *You* are impossible.

A: I do my best. So, lax or negligent, I think I have a good excuse: it’s a lot of work being The Boy’s roadie.

D: I think that’s groupie.

A: Do you even know what that means?

D: . . . No.

A: Thought not. Of course, I suppose I’m both roadie, and groupie. I am his mother, after all. It’s kind of my job.

D: And I can see that big smile on your face, A. Admit it: you love it.

A: Of course I do! So, here’s the song he’s going to be singing, starting this very evening:

Mom-pride aside, the entire cast is spectacular, and I can’t wait to see the full show. I’ve hovered in the background of a few of this week’s dress rehearsals, ostensibly under the guise of helping out with a few props —

D: Sneaky, A. That’s just sneaky.

A: Well, I had to make sure The Boy’s sword was sparkly enough. . .

D: (Sigh) The two of you are so strange.

A: Yes, we are. And we’re having a blast with our strangeness. Believe me, D. This is all in the name of recharging my creative batteries. After the show, I’ll have a better perspective for editing. You wouldn’t want me to do anything rash, like cutting out a whole swath of your scenes in World War 2–

D: Goodness, look at the time. You need to be getting going, A – or you’ll be late! A? A! Put the pen down, A. Stop editing!

A: Ha! Crazy writer logic wins again! Thanks for stopping by everyone, and have a wonderful weekend!


Because I’ve become quite fond of this image.

A Not-So-Shocking Adventure – A Regal Fortnight

adventureswithD-final (1)D: What do “Schindler’s List,” “Gandhi,” “Ender’s Game” and “Troilus and Cressida” all have in common?

A: Um . . . do I want to know?

D: Come on, A – play along.

A: Okay, fine. They all tread tremendously lyrical and exemplify the extraordinary tenacity of the human spirit.

D: I was going to say Ben Kingsley, but that works, too.

A: Really? Because I made that up—wait, what’s this about Ben Kingsley?

D: He’s my voice actor. I’ve decided.

A: Voice actor. . . again?

D: Of course – if you insist on speaking to the internet, I am going to insist on finding a man impressive enough to be my voice as well.

A:  And before D launches into the argument on why exactly Ben Kingsley is his perfect voice actor, why don’t you all head over to Green Embers’ Recommends and check out Episode 5 of the Not-So-Shocking-News Dialogues: Once Upon a Fortnightly.

D: Well, that was lovely.

A: Indeed it was – Happy May Fourth, D.

D: Considering that other great man, Sir Alec Guinness, was a part of that space opera, I shall allow your ridiculousness, this time.

A: Oh, how very gracious of you – I take it then, that peerage is now a requirement for a voice actor?

D: Not necessarily – but it does help. I was once a prince and a warrior, before you consigned me to the ones and zeros that make up this digital world of yours.

A: Uh huh. And?

D: And?

Is *this* the voice of D?

Is *this* the voice of D?

D: As if you needed more convincing. Admit it, A. He has my gravitas, my humility and my heart-breaking heroism down pat.

A: Oh good lord. Seriously?

D: Do you deny it?

A: (Sigh) No, and yet, how do you intend on convincing him, D?

D: I need to convince him? Send him a transcript, A – I command it.

A: Oh, no. No, that settles it.

D: What?

A: You, and the pointing, and the imperiousness. No. There will be no entitled voice actors for you.

D: But – but—

A: No.

D: Not even if I say, please?

A: Oh, stop making puppy dog eyes at me, Druid. . . I’ll think about it.

D: Of course you will, A. And I suppose in the meantime, everyone should really check out that podcast, hm?

A: Indeed – I hope you all enjoy it – and thank you for stopping by!

Revealed: Midnight Dynasty by Sarah M. Cradit

For most, death is a fact of life. If you are a Deschanel, it’s a way of life.

Midnight Dynasty, Book 3 in The House of Crimson & Clover, will be released in three dramatic acts over the 2014 Summer. Click here to read the Press Release.



June Release

The Deschanel Curse is back. They’ve never been able to stop it before, but as it threatens the lives of those closest to them, the desire to put an end to the tragedy has never been stronger.




July Release

The Curse has claimed its first victim. The Deschanel Magi Collective must bring the whole family together, to fight this as one.




August Release

The Deschanels continue to say goodbye to those they love, just as a new and unexpected hope dawns. Will it be enough to save them?


Acts I, II, and III will be released as ebooks only, across all major online retailers. Then, in fall, a paperback (and electronic) version combining all the acts will be available.


The question is: will you be able to wait that long?


Dive into the secretive, ancient, powerful world of the Deschanels and Sullivans…

St. Charles at Dusk
Set amidst the lush and vibrant backdrop of New Orleans, this is the story of Oz and Adrienne. Of forbidden love, and startling heartbreak.
BOOK 0.5:
Beyond Dusk: Anne
Anne’s entire life has been a lie. She must find the courage to discover who she is, including this terrifying, inexplicable ability she was born with.
The Storm and the Darkness
Ana is about to discover a startling truth: there exists no greater darkness than the one which lives inside of us.
BOOK 1.5:
Beyond Darkness: Shattered
Think you know the story of Ana, Finn, and Jon? Guess again.
The Illusions of Eventide
Nicolas spent 30 years under his flawed set of principles. Mercy, three millennia under hers. Both are bound by these chosen illusions, until their paths unexpectedly cross.
BOOK 2.5:
Beyond Eventide: Bound
Beyond Eventide: Bound- Ana, Finn, and Aidrik are forever bound. By love, promises, and the undeniable threads of fate.



Connect with Author Sarah M. Cradit

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