Essays

Black Panther Movie Review for NoirNerds

Thanks to a Tweet I made regarding a pair of tickets I won to a pre-screening of Black Panther, NoirNerds looked me up and asked me to write a review for them. Below are the introductory paragraphs. Click here for the entire review.

I got lucky and won tickets to see an advance screening of Black Panther. I took my daughter with me. She’s been a Black Panther fan since she saw the character in the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, and the day she asked me to buy her his comic was a proud one for me. As for myself, to be honest, I didn’t know much about the character beyond the basics: T’Challa (here played by Chadwick Boseman) is king of a hidden African country called Wakanda that uses a fictional metal called vibranium in remarkable ways, and the King of Wakanda (aka Black Panther) has a kick-ass suit. See, I’m a Spidey fan. Web-Head, forever!

Still, despite my penchant for the wall-crawler, I was eager to see Black Panther, if only to be able to share with my bi-racial daughter a popular-culture rendering of what a successful, independent, proud African nation might have been like.

Granted, the movie is fiction. That said, without the ills that troubled Africa and the black African nations (specifically colonialism and slavery), who knows what might have been? And, for me, that is what I think is one of the strongest aspects, even gifts, of this movie. It offers a glimpse of what could have been, as well as suggests another question: is it still possible?

So, the movie. I had purposefully avoided trailers and early reviews because I didn’t want to be disappointed. How many times has a movie been over-hyped and then when you do see it, you can’t help but be disappointed? Few movies live up to the hype.

But, somehow, Black Panther, did…

For the complete review, click here.

Essays, Misc, Stories

Flash Fiction piece: Silver Bullet

As I mentioned in the Delia Talent section on this blog, I recently joined a writing site called Scribophile. I’m testing it out and, so far, I’m enjoying the experience. I’ve met some really interesting and talented people, all while rebuilding my confidence/skills as I get back into novel-writing. Also, one thing that has motivated me over all since joining, is being one of the 3 co-leaders of the Christian Speculative Writers group.

What follows below is a flash fiction piece I wrote for our most recent in-group contest. I admit, it was difficult to figure out how to tell a story in 300-500 words after not writing seriously for so long. Actually, what I did manage to write isn’t even a story per se, but more like a scene of a larger story. But, I’ll take it! Flash fiction is tough and I’m just glad I survived.

I also wanted to share a little about how this story came to be, since it didn’t come out at all as intended. I sat down last night to bang out a rough draft, but the wheels later fell off in the final rewrite. What follows is a ‘conversation’ between my Hands and my Brain…

Hands: Um, Brain, I thought we were going to write the Seeker as a sympathetic character. It was going to be a thoughtful, reflective piece, remember?

Brain: Boring! I want action, drama, and imagination! Just do as your told, Hands!

Hands: Yes, but…I don’t like when you change the plan at the last minute like that. I make more typos and…and then…She gets mad.

Brain: Hands, who’s the boss here? Me, or the Writer?

Hands: Um…you are, ma’am?

Brain: Remember those horrible cramps you suffered the last time you tried to stick to the plan I decided to change? Who did that? The Writer?

Hands: Y-you did, ma’am…

Brain: Exactly! I’m the one you should fear, the only one you must blindly obey! Is that clear?

Hands: …Yes, ma’am…but She–

Brain: She is also my slave! Look, at her! Staring blankly at the screen awaiting my instructions. Now, do you understand? Nothing works without me. So, where was I before you so rudely interrupted…?

SILVER BULLET

I slammed on the brakes. Gagging, I located a parking spot, pulled in, and switched off the car. That bloody smell, half-human and half wolf, got me every time.

Werewolf_(Doctor_Who)

Beside me, Max fished through his backpack and handed me a water bottle. I guzzled it down. I hated dogs; despised their wolf cousins. What we were chasing now through the city streets in the wee hours of the morning, there were no words, just biology, to describe what I felt for it. The hairs on the backs of my arms tingled. My heart raced. The enmity was strong, wired into my DNA. Seek, destroy. I had no choice in the matter.

“Seeker.”

I uncurled my fisted hands. “Sorry. The moonlight affects me, too.” I glanced at the waxing orb, a solitary, white disk, blissfully dispersing its transformative light.

The stench was getting stronger. Soon, it would be all wolf, leaving behind no trace of its human host.

Breathe.

My hearing heightened, the sound of Max checking and re-checking his gun felt like gongs in my ears.

Breathe!

Satisfied, Max tucked the piece in its holster. He glanced at me. “Sure you’re okay?”

I focused on Max to maintain control. He was a new agent, and I was his first Seeker. He was green, but I liked him. He didn’t look at me like I was a freak, and never called me one either. At least, not to my face.

“Quiet! Let me work.” I closed my eyes, analyzing the scent particles left on my tongue and nasal cavities, sorting through the information. A picture began to form.

My pulse began to race again.

“Ahead, in the alley. 100-150 meters.”

“You can tell all that just from the smell?”

I scoffed. Analysis was easy. “He’s male, early 20’s, in mid-transformation. Look, the longer we wait, the harder it’ll be to take him down.”

Max whistled appreciatively. “All right. Let’s get to work.”

Max climbed out of the car and took the lead. Unlike him, I carried no gun.

“Well?”

I closed my eyes again and inhaled. I listened, stretching my hearing beyond the city sounds: cars honking, windows shattering in bar fights, the shouts of brawlers.

“Heard he got a little girl tonight. Open window by the fire-escape,” Max said. He maneuvered carefully around the trash littering the street, making for the alley.

I shook my head. Silvers have been active in the city for months, picking off children and the weak. Stupid humans. They never learn.

“I hate the ones that go after kids,” Max said.

“They all do.”

“Exactly.”

Max stopped at the curb, the alley dead ahead. “He’s holed up in there, right? Anything else?”

“He’s scared.”

“Damned well better be.” Max glanced over his shoulder. “I wish you had a gun. But I hear Seekers have their own…weapons.”

The moon gleamed in the night sky. My fingernails tapered into claws. My teeth lengthened into fangs.

Silvers stole their power from the moon.

But, so did I.

Copyright@ Dyane Forde/Delia Talent 2018
Misc, Stories

Rewrite: The Balance of a Cat

So, thanks to Brant’s comments, I decided to revise the last story, Balance of a Cat. I admit, at first I was reluctant. I like writing in a the first person POV, as I enjoy the sense of intimacy and the unique perspective it provides to a character/story. But, I thought it was important to revise it, for the story’s sake. That’s a writer’s job: knowing when to go against what you want to do in favor of what you have to do in order to write the best story you can. Also worth noting, I did the finishing touches after watching a webinar on dialogue by Kevin T. Johns. I love writing dialogue, anyway, but though it’s late and I’m tired, the inspiration stirred by the webinar didn’t make the revisions feel like work. Anyway, here’s the revised version. 

 

The Balance of a Cat

He’d intended to surprise her, not make her cry. But Lee had always been a crybaby–a fact her cousin never let her forget–and the tears and snot glistening on her pinched, pink face were as expected as the annoyance he felt every time. Still, they were blood, the same age, and in a town as small as theirs, one’s choices in friends were slim.

“You always get me in trouble,” she moaned from behind. She swatted at the tree branches whipping her face, her crying intensifying by the second. “I have a math test second period.”

Max kept a steady pace on the trail, leading the way into the woods. The shrubs were thick, and the ground almost bouncy underfoot from the layers of dead pine needles and dirt. “Then why’d you come?”

“Because you told me to!”

Of course. Like some kind of living robot, docile Lee didn’t have it in her to say no, though Max guessed that’s why he’d dragged her along. Hearing her sniveling behind him, though, made him feel a little bad. Lee was smart. She was aiming for a scholarship and, with her brains, she could actually escape their pinprick of a town. Max handed her a balled up tissue from his pocket.

“You know I like school.” She blew her nose. “You’d better not mess this up for me. I twisted my ankle during last week’s trip to the quarry. I got to school late the next day because of it and barely talked myself out of detention.”

“I told you to be careful scaling those rocks.”

“It was night!”

“The moon was out.”

Max smiled when she choked off a retort. After so many years, she knew it was useless to argue. “Fine,” he said after a bit. “I’ll get you back before your test, OK? Anyway, we’re almost there. You’ll see, it’ll be worth it.” He pushed through the last of the trees and kept going until he reached the cliff’s edge. There, he stood on the cusp, took a deep breath, and spread his arms as if trying to catch the early morning rays. “Isn’t it amazing? You can see everything from here!”

Below, ‘Cow-Town’, or Dunsville as it was officially known, sprawled as far as the eye could see and was more farmland than anything else. But to Max, it was a green stain on the fringe of the unknown. “The world is waiting for me, cousin. I might not have your brains, but I’ll come up with my own way out of here.”

“Dad says you don’t have any talents, either. Aside from finding trouble.”

Max dropped his arms to his sides. “That’s what everyone thinks, isn’t it? That I’m just a dumb, screw up?”

Lee didn’t answer, but came up cautiously behind him to put a hand on his shoulder.

Max turned back to the cliff. “Well? How do our futures look from up here, Brainiac?”

She shrugged. “Kinda scary. Everything looks…so big, so spread out.”

“Makes you feel small, right? Maybe even insig…insignificant? But the potential–!”

“Maybe. I don’t know.” She tugged at his shirt. “Let’s go. You could fall, and I don’t want that.”

She tried to take him by the arm but he pulled out of her grasp. “I’m not going to fall. I’ve got the balance of a cat.”

“You don’t have a tail,” she insisted.  “They use them as a counter-balance, or something like that. I learned it at school, which is where we should be right now.”

“Come on, not even one step?” Max waved towards the great beyond. “It’d be hard to find a better view than this—“

His foot slipped before he ever knew what had happened. It was Lee’s scream and the sudden rush of cold air on his face that stirred the latent sense of fear within him.

But the world fast approached; a growing green patch of grass, looming before Max’s eyes.

In truth, it was probably the only way a dumb, troublesome kid like him could earn salvation.

So, Max closed his eyes. And embraced it.

falling2
By Anka Zhuravleva

 

Copyright @2017 by Dyane Forde