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Writing Prompt: Empty Cargo Hold

The rumble of her stomach echoed off the walls of the cargo hold. She steadied herself with a bare arm on the cold metal as she gripped a small file and etched a feeble mark alongside fourteen others of similar lengths.

Her legs quivered as she made her way to the depleted pile of provisions. Three tins of tuna, five of red beans, and one dented can of tomato sauce, and no means to heat any of it. She jabbed the file into the edge of the tuna tin. The squeak of metal on metal tortured her ears as it reverberated against her cell of two weeks.

A second sound joined the chorus in a cacophony of hissing steel and groaning hinges. Her eyes remained trained on the task at hand, yet she had no control over the hairs along the base of her neck. Nausea twisted up her throat.

She envisioned the scratches on the other side of the cargo hold doors, far more numerous than her own.

She spooned a finger of blanched tuna shreds into her mouth fighting past the image it evoked of the pale creatures beyond the cargo doors. Her parched lips drank the moisture as she sipped from the edge of the open tin.

A heavy pounding renewed at the far end of the hold.

She heaved the gutted tuna tin at the din. “Well, break it down already! What are you waiting for?”

Anger and exhaustion racked her muscles. “I should just let the lot of you in. Join the party. Plenty of snacks.”

The unbuttoned cuffs of her uniform sleeves flapped at her wrists as she waved her arms. Futility sunk her to the hard floor. Her knees ached.

Her face turned at a sudden banging overhead. She was to her feet, file gripped, her will to survive driven by instinct alone. Her eyes darted in search of the source of the disturbance. She sidestepped as a ventilation grate slammed to the floor of the cargo hold.

She had scarce the time to take a breath before a body fell through the opening to land at her feet. Weapon at the ready, she eyed the lump of tattered clothing.

His face turned to her. “You’re alive.”

Relief loosened the creases on his face. “Thank God. I thought I was the only one left. Help should be coming. I radioed when everything went crazy.”

“Help is coming?” She recalled the young sandy haired man, a member of the wait staff in the main dining hall. “Have you been bit?”

He scowled at the question. “Yeah. Hopefully. What, bit? No.”

He drew up from the floor to his full height, not much more than her’s. He was a wiry kid, maybe in his twenties.

“Wait. Have you?” A shot of fear crossed his eyes.

“No.” She turned the file in her hand and into her pant pocket.

He sighed away all sign of concern as he peered around the cargo space. “This is a much better place to hole up than those ventilation tubes.”

“Yeah.” She followed his movements with her gaze.

“Hey. You have food.” He dug into the pocket of a small pack over his shoulder.

Her gripped returned to the handle of the file as he turned to her.

“I snagged some heating tins.” He opened his hands to reveal a cluster of small metal cylinders. “A hot meal would be fantastic.”

His smile seemed so comfortable, so congenial. Her eyes narrowed only a moment as she fingered the handle of the file in her pocket.

“Yeah. Something cooked would be nice.”

She glanced at the pile of storage sacks and shipping blankets in the far corner. “You must be exhausted from crawling through those vents. Why don’t you rest a bit.” Her fingers curled around the file handle. “I’ll get a flame going.”

“That does sound great. Do you have enough to last us?” The question was barely an afterthought.

“I will have plenty to survive maybe another couple weeks now.” She nodded as she watched him lay out on the piled bedding.

She considered the scraping at the door, the scarcity of the food, the man in the corner.

It was all about survival.

 

Phoenix Magazine! Thank you!

Just shy of a week ago I was blessed with the honor of Phoenix Magazine’s Reader’s Choice for Best Author. I am still in shock! For someone who does so much with words, I find myself at a deficit to properly convey my thanks to everyone who voted!

I want to send a very profound thanks to my dear and magical friend Moon Mermaid! She not only made the initial nomination, she has supported me in so many ways behind the scenes and beneath the surface. I am blessed to have her as a dear friend and to celebrate with her as she made Best Artist!

Phoenix Magazine’s voting system is write in only! That makes this even more amazing! I am humbled and proud to have this recognition bestowed upon my work. Thank you. Simply, thank you. I can only say that this is something I never imagined, though I always hoped that people would dig my writing.

Pop over to Facebook, and probably here too, for a celebration event. Thank you again!

J.J.M. Czep has been announced she will be a participant in Fandemicon, Utica New York’s first pop culture convention on Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 from 9:00am-5:00pm. The event takes place at the  Utica Public Library: 303 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501.

J.J.M. Czep is the author of Trolls, a story that follows the lead character Emily on an adventure in a world of lost children, friendly Trolls, a dreadful dot, pesky pirate Piskies, and an evil witch who seeks to drain magic from the world, Emily ultimately must find the strength to trust herself, and follow the path that will lead her to where she truly belongs.

J.J.M. Czep will be available at the event to sign books and discuss her writing with fans of all ages.

http://www.fandemicon.com

Jenn to Feature at MaricopaCon August 15th

maricopacon2015imagesJ.J.M. Czep has been announced as the featured author for the 2015 edition of MaricopaCon. The show, being held at the Mesa Convention Center August 15th and 16th, 2015, is sold out and will attract tabletop game enthusiasts from around the Valley and beyond.

J.J.M. Czep is the author of Trolls, a story that follows the lead character Emily on an adventure in a world of lost children, friendly Trolls, a dreadful dot, pesky pirate Piskies, and an evil witch who seeks to drain magic from the world, Emily ultimately must find the strength to trust herself, and follow the path that will lead her to where she truly belongs.

As the Featured Author, J.J.M. Czep will be available at the event to sign books and discuss her writing with fans of all ages.

Mesa Convention Center
263 N Center St, Mesa, AZ 85201
http://www.maricopacon.com

Thank you, Ann Chamberlain!

So much thanks to Ann Chamberlain and the Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Book Shop at the Faire is one of my most favorite places to do signings. Getting to play dress up as one of my characters, meeting up with fellow pirates and ren faire friends, and talking to families about the importance of reading. It’s not just for nobility anymore. *Wink wink*

In all sincerity, I look forward to visiting the Ren Faire and Ann every year. This year was a bit different, offering me the chance to visit with teachers and students during the week. For those who may not be aware, the Renaissance Festival does open during the week for one week of the season. During the week, school teachers and students only are invited. It was interesting to see that the elementary students did seem much more interested in reading and books than the high school groups. Do we really lose our thrill of stories after a certain age?

The students offered me some of the cutest moments to feed my author soul.

From a group of young girls: “Are you the writer? That means you are famous! You have to sign this!” I did try to convince them that published book and fame are not always synonymous. But I did sign bookmarks, posters, books, pretty much anything they picked up.

From a young girl to her mom: “I have to have this book! It is my favorite!” I know she had never even heard of either of my books.

From a teen boy: “You can’t be a writer, writers are old.” At least he didn’t say writers are only boys?

From a mix of students with their teacher: “If she buys the book will you come read it to us?” I “Awwed” at this one and I was like; Yes! Of course!

On some side notes, apparently the pirate books are for boys and Trolls is for girls. I also was mistaken for being Elsa because of my blue dress. Only at the renaissance faire.

Thank you for another wonderful visit Ann Chamberlain of the Book Shop! You are an amazing friend and a wonderful writer as well! I will talk more about Ann’s new children’s books in another post.