One Million Project Magazine

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December 2016


One Million Project


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of this magazine

may be reproduced or transmitted

in any form or by any means without

written permission from the author

or publisher. Printed by OMP Magazine


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Jason Greenfield

Author & Founder

Thomas Cardin


Sheena Macleod

Author & Promotions Manager

Victoria Stoyanova

Guest Artist

Kate McGinn


Cassandra DenHartog


Michelle Kidd


Douglas Debelak


Geraldine Renton


Sharon Rhoads


Lincoln Cole


Lora Tabakova

Publishing Manager

Greg Meritt


Rachel Wollaston


Paul Skelton


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Story by Jason Greenfield. Art by Thomas Cardin

Chapter One: Thoughts of a Tyrant, as dictated to Central Comp

I am Darkikonn, Lord of all Quarr and Liege Lord of

the Seven Quadrants. My rule extends to the edge

of known space and a trillion trillion trillion sentients

quake under my booted heel. I am Darkikonn!

Is that a suitable opening I wonder? I find a melodramatic

statement, firm and unyielding in its intent

to be best. The usual form if you will, simplistic

in its straightforward but bombastic language, accurate

in content but perhaps somewhat … cliché?

I think so anyway but my thoughts remain my own

and of course nobody would dare to unintentionally

agree with those thoughts unprompted ~

Computer records a heavy sigh ~ it would mean

their life of course and one must preserve form. I

am as much a slave to form and function as all others

are slaves to my despotic whim. If I DIDN’T order

the occasional random execution among my

lackeys on a flimsy pretext or even none at all, everyone

would be so disappointed.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

I may be merciful of course but even then I must

do it in a studied, coolly calculated manner and

if my rare displays of mercy were even more

chilling than one of my equally unpredictable

rants or random punishments, then so much the


I may act unconventionally but within the expected

parameters and if I did not … well where

would it all end? The decay of Society I suppose.

My Society!

… Hmmm, a notion worth exploring.

There are those who resist of course. There always

are … Rebels … how I envy them their

bloody minded single headedness – the blacks

and whites through which they view the universe.

I am evil; therefore I must be removed so

that good can prevail. ~Computer records a

hollow laugh~

Children. Children who cannot conceive that

there are consequences bound in consequence

and every action has an equal and mostly negative

reaction. Yes, they are simplistic fools who

live in today with little regard to yesterday or

tomorrow except how the latter pertains to their

own limited world view. How I envy them.

This current group of rebels are not the first nor

sadly shall they be the last. In X years of rule

almost a dozen rebellions have sparked, flared

and been extinguished. I know how they think

you see, because once … once I was one of


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Oh yes, it’s true. Darkikonn is my chosen

name of course (Did you really think my

birth mother would saddle an innocent

babe with such an appellation?) and chosen

carefully at that. Somewhat hokey and melodramatic,

it nonetheless inspires a certain

symbolic grandeur.

Dark Icon … Well, I thought it was clever

anyway. End recording.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

‚Those Who Would Resist My Rule‚

Review by Kate McGinn

Politics has been in the news a lot lately. As

Americans head to the streets to protest the

recent election, we have yet to determine

whether the results will be for the collective

good or not. Divisive rhetoric and a country

torn in half by opposing beliefs became the

talk of the political pundits on the cable news

networks in the US. For weeks before the election,

the rest of the world held their breath to

see who would be leading the government for

the next four years.

I became entrenched in the election coverage

over the past year and a half. I’ll be the first to

admit it -- I’m a political junkie. Every four

years, I overdose on fact-checking, reading

news articles and flipping the channels from

one political panel to another weighing each

side’s arguments against my own personal beliefs;

and even I couldn’t wait for this year’s

news cycle to end.

I headed to California to see my son before he

went out to sea with his squadron, and to assist

his new bride with moving to LA. I finally

turned off the TV after November 8th and

picked up Jason Greenfield’s story, Those Who

Would Resist My Rule , and began to read.

As I became involved in the story, I was

pleased to see his tale was set in outer space.

I had grown up watching Star Trek in the 60’s,

Star Wars in my teens, and I looked forward to

getting lost in Greenfield's ‚Space Opera.‛

It had all my favorite elements of a good sci-fi

story. Bad, bad villain – check. Handsome

prince striving for peace – check. Sassy love

interest – check. But, my checklist ended

when I began to see this short story was more

than a simple exercise in escapism. Its meanings

ran much deeper below the surface, and I

found two questions about humanity within

the storyteller’s threads as he wove his interstellar


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

The first premise explores whether youthful

ideals are destroyed with the passage of time

and exposure to humanity’s flaws. Do all

adults become more cynical with the passage

of time? Do we cave to the philosophy of ‚If

you can’t beat them, join them‛ as we age? Or

does repeated exposure to corruption, greed,

and war deaden our need to condemn such


Interesting questions to ponder. I would like

to believe we can retain our youthful wonder

and optimism; although, I have also encountered

the increased cynicism in many people

over time. In Those Who Would Resist My

Rule, we see how new generations believe

they can right the wrongs inflicted upon them

by the current political bureaucracy. We continue

reading only to find those same idealistic

revolutionaries falling into the same mind

set, as they become enmeshed in the day-today

tasks involved with governing.

The protagonist in the story reflects on his

continuing use of brutality, reasoning that it

is a performance which the citizenry has

grown to expect. It is a show of power designed

to intimidate and bring order. He

confesses feeling trapped into maintaining

this role for the good of all. With the passage

of many decades, he doesn’t recognize his

errors in judgment until it is too late. The advisors

he has relied upon over the years encourage

his oppressive acts. He surrounds

himself only with people who agree with him

and destroys anyone who protests his actions.

And he doesn’t have a Twitter account!

Unbelievable!) Strangely, he chooses a wife

who rebels against the dictatorial side of the

man she married forcing him to show the

prince he’s carefully hidden from view so that

he can win her heart.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

The second premise is that history will repeat itself.

It can, but it doesn’t necessarily have to if we reflect

and learn from our mistakes. We can avoid this

supposed inevitability if we recognize the signs

showing us we may be headed in the same disastrous


Great societies throughout history have risen to

glory and power before falling into ruin. Wars continue

to use up the lifeblood of our youth and tap

our resources. Sometimes the battles are fought in

the name of religion. More often than not, the reasons

are simple greed and the siren’s song of power.

Jason Greenfield wrote about these fictional characters

long before this last political cycle began.

His enjoyable tale, set in a distant galaxy, gives us a

few poignant messages about human frailty which

we would be wise to heed in the days ahead.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Thomas Cardin

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Thomas Cardin and I’ve been a professional

artist for most of my life. I’ve always

been a creative, losing myself in other worlds,

what ifs, and whimsical explorations. For the last

several years I’ve also turned to words to create,

growing myself into an author as well as artist.

Why did you join One Million Project

and what inspired you to do


I heard about the One Million Project through

Jason Greenfield on WriteOn. We connected

there by reading each other’s work.

Why do you do what you do?

I think visually, so images are constantly appearing

in my head like there’s a projection screen

behind my eyes. It’s always been natural to use

my hands to draw and shape the things my imagination


How do you work?

I visualize, I sketch, I refine. If I look for the energy

and dynamics of a piece first and I succeed in

translating that through whatever medium I am

using, I’m invariably more satisfied.

What’s your background?

Growing up with a mother who is a master

at painting in oils and water colors. Having

a father who was a professional photographer.

Having an uncle who wore a fifty year

pin as a Disney animator. They didn’t give

me my skills, but they taught me I could do

anything if I worked for it. ‘Can’t’ is a very

bad four-letter-word for an artist.

What’s your strongest memory of

your childhood?

My father reading to me before bed. He

didn’t read Dr. Seuss, he read Edgar Rice

Burroughs. I went to sleep with Tarzan

swinging through the trees in my mind and

John Carter cutting a swath across the surface

of Barsoom to rescue the incomparable

Dejah Thoris.

What’s your most embarrassing

moment? Most?!

Something tells me it’s still ahead of me.

One day I’ll turn a corner in front of a parade

and my pants will fall down around

my ankles. I live in constant fear of that.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What jobs have you done other than

being an artist?

I’ve been a security guard, worked in a photo lab,

been an assistant to a metal sculptor, clerked a

liquor store, clerked a gift store. I’ve also been

hired to phone a list of a several hundred people

inviting them to a private party. I was just a kid at

the time and I would lose myself imagining just

what kind of party it was.

Name something you don’t love,

and why.

Any ugly thought or speech aimed toward another

person. When will people realize that it

doesn’t build themselves up to put another

person down? When it’s aimed toward women,

a race, or a religion, you’re identifying yourself

as someone who needs to be removed from

the gene pool.

What makes you angry?

What day of the week is it? Oh, today I’m angered

by people who see me for just who I am on the

outside and don’t bother getting to know me for

who I am on the inside.

What superpower would you have and


I have more fun with this topic than you can imagine.

It really boils down to how I am feeling at the

time. Sometimes I want invisibility so I can do crazy

and impulsive things without anyone ever knowing.

Sometimes I want to be a hyper-intellect so I

can amass knowledge and solve problems which

would push our world further along and get us all

past these frightening times and into space so we

can be frightened by entirely different things.

Throw mindreading and empathy into that mix,

then give me something for healing, because I am

all kinds of messed up physically.

Favourite or most inspirational place

(in Devon)?

My favourite place is a state of mind. That right

-brained state where creativity just flows and

there’s no sense of time. I have another favourite

place to be, but that’s not very appropriate

here. I’ve travelled across the United States

several times and I always find beautiful and

peaceful places. One favourite is a natural

spring in Yosemite, it’s shaded by trees all

around and the little pool that’s formed is always

in a state of motion on the surface as water

continuously rises - oh, and the taste of it,

so pure.

What’s the best piece of advice

you’ve been given?

Tell yourself to learn something new everyday.

My father gave me that one when I was a

youngster and it still sticks with me. Every time

I start a new piece of art or writing, I try to improve.

I try to tackle something that will make

me learn a bit more. There’s a lot of positivity

to be gained by telling yourself to learn, it becomes

a mantra for improvement.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What has been a seminal experience?

What to choose?

When I was a teenager I traveled cross country

three years in a row from the west coast to

the east coast. Each of those years I took a

weeklong cruise on a tall ship off the coast of

Maine, a windjammer schooner cruise. We

helped sail and every morning we hoisted the

largest mainsail in the world on the Adventure

- the vessel now lives in the Smithsonian Maritime

Museum. The experience is still indescribable.

I never knew I could fall in love with

a ship. After those three voyages, there’s

nothing I wouldn’t have done for her.

What work do you most enjoying


Creating. Words or art, creating is king for me.

What themes do you pursue?

One of my strongest themes is selfdetermination.

In writing, I love for my characters

to grow until they are the master of their

own destiny. In my art I want my pieces to be

able to speak for themselves and draw viewers

into my imagination.

What’s your favourite art work?

Too many to name. Anything that blows my

mind. When I look at a piece and my jaw

drops because I have no idea how the artist

created the effect or imagined the scene, or

composed the colors, it becomes a new favorite


Describe a real-life situation that

inspired you?

I was in a game store when I was probably

only seventeen or so. A woman brought her

young son into the store waving a Dungeons

and Dragons book at the proprietor. She demanded

to know if he had sold her child the

book. He said he did, though he announced

this with great reservation. She turned around

and thanked him. She said her son had been

doing incredibly better in school, he’d been

inspired to read and think creatively. I’d already

been playing for years at that point and

it really hit home how mentally stimulating

role playing was for me.

Why art?

Art is all around us, it’s in clouds that puff and

flow through the sky. It’s in the wind that flutters

through the leaves on trees to orchestrate

shows of light and sound. It’s in the

curves of the female figure and the giggle of

an infant. Art is sensory pleasure in any form.

Of course I want to take part!

Name something you love, and


Illumination. Not only do I have a great love

of light, when I see it in a painting as though

it’s bursting off the canvas, I am completely


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What memorable responses have

you had to your work?

There was one time we were building a video

roulette game. We came up against a patent

that a competitor held and the whole team of

us, engineers and artists, thought we’d have to

give up, losing the thousands of man-hours

that we’d already invested in the project. Then I

thought of a way around the patent, a way we

could solve it with artwork alone. Everyone

looked at me like I had solved the riddle of the

sphinx. Artwork is problem solving, people, but

it’s awfully rewarding to have a room full of

people look at you with such appreciation.

Having the game go on to become one of the

companies all time bestsellers is even better.

What food, drink, song inspires you?

I love music. I found a huge interest in music

with the alternative sounds of the late seventies

and early eighties. For me the music of XTC

always draws out my emotions. The ephemeral

music of the Cocteau Twins summons images

of angels and the cadences of Dead Can Dance

hold the anatomy of dragons within them.

What do you like about your work?

I like when I succeed in creating that line of

energy that I originally envisaged. It’s so easy

to lose it as a piece gets polished and refined.

When I can maintain it throughout, I am happiest.

What research do you do?

Everything. If it’s the human form, I am

searching images to find just the right angle

or bend of the elbow. Even if I am creating

something from pure imagination, that mental

image is built up from something, either

words of an author or images from a movie or

even a previous piece of my own.

What is your dream project?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on many

dream projects professionally. The trick is to

make everything you do a dream project. An

artist should have a love affair with each piece,

you’re not doing it proper justice otherwise. I

think it would be awesome to work on the

projection graphics that they employ on

Dancing With the Stars or other live shows,

they blow me away.

What do you dislike about your


I’m incredibly self-critical. It’s never good

enough. It never pleases me on all counts.

There’s always something wrong or something

I could have done better.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Name three artists you’d like to be

compared to.

Michael Whelan, Frank Frazetta, Chris Foss.

There’s so many others I can name, I don’t

paint or draw like any of them. I paint and

draw like me, but it sure would be awesome to

be compared to them.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I met it. I put a roof over my family’s head and

lived in a very affluent part of the country

while I worked as a professional artist. It didn’t

last unfortunately. I had over twenty-five good

years as a professional artist. I made a lot of

profits for my employers. Now my goal is to

succeed just as well on my own. It’s not happening

yet, but there’s always the next story or

next piece of art.

What’s integral to the work of an


Flexibility, taking criticism constructively, and

improving, always improving.

What role does the artist have in society?

We visualize dreams for people. We’re responsible

for every graceful curve and splash of

color that catches the eye. If it’s not us, it’s

mother nature herself.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

Find the beauty in everything. Turn away from

ugliness, whether it’s in ugly speech or narrow

minded prejudice.

What art do you most identify with?

I see myself as a fantasy artist. I love to lose

myself in the countless scales on a dragon’s

hide or the detailed lace of a fairy wing. I can

look at that kind of artwork for days and days.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do

you do to counteract it?

Not necessarily lonely. I work alone now, but I

have many fond memories of working collaboratively

with other artists. Nothing can be

more challenging and fun than matching styles

with another artist and producing a work that

merges the efforts of two or more artists. I

love to bring people into what I am doing as I

am doing it. I post my works in progress on

my Facebook page to get feedback all along

the way.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What do you dislike about the art world?

Having to sell yourself. I want my artwork and writing

to sell itself, but it seems the world expects the artist

to put themselves out there as well and shmooze. I

don’t want to do that. Notice my art first please, if

you see me first, you may not be able to look past me

to what I can create.

How has your practice changed over


It’s changed dramatically with different media, none

more so than digital media. I can paint on the computer

in ways that are impossible with traditional media.

Learning how to embrace those new methods is

key to growing as an artist.

Should art be funded?

I’m all for it. I’m going to be making art anyway, but if

I can be funded, that means someone out there likes

my work that much and is willing to help me continue

my journey and grow.

What role does arts funding have?

For the artist it can mean the difference between

working productively and working to survive. Right

now, I’m surviving, but it’s not off my artwork or my

writing, it’s from a day job that literally anyone could

do. It doesn’t exercise my mind or my spirit in any

way. I can’t help but think that the artist who is funded,

and is worth funding, is going to grow exponentially.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Story and Original Concept BY: Paul “Skelly” Skelton. Edited and Redrafted by Jason Greenfield


‘Ey up Jack lad, yer Uncle Jim’s nodded off,

he he he,’ laughed Dick

‘He has, he he, he has Granddad!’ Jack replied,

‘Granddad? Do you ever nod off?’

‘Nay lad, I have to keep alert, being the

biggest and oldest tree in this whole


‘Keep alert Granddad? What do you have

to keep alert for?’

‚Well...er... just to look out for us all, ahem…

yes, that’s it. You know Jack lad, I make

sure we’re all happy, and safe. Mm yes.’

Dick smiled benignly at his Grandson.

‘I always feel happy and safe with you

Grandad, and Uncle Jim, but, well, how big

is this whole world Granddad?’ asked Jack


‘Ah, yes, well you see them common trees,

them shabby ones way over theer?’

(Jack was too small to see them), ‘Well,

they’s near the end of this world and, furthermore

..,’Dick continued importantly,

‘...it’s about the same distance whichever

direction you look.’

‘WOW!’ exclaimed Jack excitedly ‘How do

you know that Granddad … coz we’re,

we’re rooted aren’t we? So, as we don’t

move, how can we know over theer is the

end of this whole world? Is it just coz we’re


‘Oh yes we’re Nordic pines, we ARE intelligent,

as are the birds, to some extent.

They fly about in all directions and bring us

information... Plus I was here at the

beginning of time, just after this world was

formed and there were no other trees back

then and I could see in all directions Jack


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

‘Granddad, if you were the first tree, where

did you come from?’

‘The first seed, Jack lad.’

‘And where did the first seed come from


‘Well, that came from the first pine-cone,

which fell from the sky.’

‘Gosh you must be very clever Granddad.’

‘Ho ho ho,’ laughed Dick ‘Yer Uncle Jim

doesn’t always think so.’

As if he could sense he was being spoken of,

Jim chose that moment to wake up with a

massive tree creaking yawn.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Paul Skelton

What made you want to become a


Initially to help Jason with OMP. Then I decided

to develop my writing, and maybe it could

be an earner for me when I'm retired.

Have you written any other books

that are not published?

I've just finished 'Little Christmas Tree 2', and

a bunch of horror / thriller short stories.

Might donate one to the next OMP book.

What is your writing style? Pen,

type-writer, or computer, etc.?

Bricklayer. I construct my stories from all sorts

of what I call building blocks, like building a

wall. Then I bash it out on a computer.

Do you write alone or in public?

With or without music?

"My wife is usually nearby, at home. I listen to

very loud Rock music . . . always."

Does your story have a lesson? a


No. It's written to entertain and amuse the

reader. However, it's nearly Christmas, so it

may affect your attitude to your Christmas

tree this year. Ha Ha!

What is your favourite part of the


The part where Mickey the Magpie moans

about having to build his own nest; he's

such a geezer!

If you could spend time with one

character from your story, who

would it be, and what would you

do with them?

I'd go flying about with Mickey the Magpie,

and 'plop' on people I don't like.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What character in your story are you

least likely to get along with?

Uncle Jim, he's a big strong pine tree that

whinges all the time, he'd really get on my


What do you read for pleasure?

Classic Rock & 4x4 magazines, the daily newspaper,

some Stephen King and Michael Crichton


Who are the authors/artists who inspire

your work?

None. I'm inspired by life, people I know and

quirky BBC Radio Four plays from the seventies.

What do you do for living?

As little as possible! Actually I'm a school

caretaker, so I do a lot of mopping floors and

fixing things. It's a wage.

What are your favourite things to

do when you aren’t writing?

Off-road driving, listening to rock music, going

to rock concerts, crosswords, Sudoku, fishing

and shopping with my wife. Every now

and then I bash a story out.

Do you have any plans to continue

writing in future?

I sure do, and I hope to get published. I'm

unsigned right now, so open to offers . . anyone?

What is your favourite book? Why?

Catch 22, it's crazy, (a bit like me?), and it's title

became an everyday catch phrase: How brilliant

is that? Don't die until you've read it Lora!

Why did you decide to participate in

the One Million Project?

I wanted to help Jason out, and was curious to

find out how my story would be viewed by others.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Collision of Worlds

By Lincoln Cole

Shadows on the Horizon

‚Come out, come out, wherever you are!‛

Father Paladina knelt under the stairs, eyes

closed and struggling to control his breathing.

Each gasp sounded like the cracking of a

tree branch and he couldn’t contain the occasional

sob as terror coursed through his


‚I can smell you, priest. I know you are in


The voice was coming from upstairs in the

kitchen. He hadn’t had time to close the

door to the basement when he came in, and

he couldn’t remember if it was open before

or not. He should have been able to remember,

but right now if felt like his mind wouldn’t


He couldn’t remember ever being so terrified

in his entire life. He held his rosary between

his fingers and pressed it against his

lips, praying as hard as he could for the

strength. He knew he was going to die, and

the only thing he prayed for was the

strength to die well.

After all, right now it wasn’t only his life at

stake his everlasting soul was as well.

‚Are you in here?‛ the man—if he was still a

man—asked from somewhere upstairs. Father

Paladina heard a squeaking sound as a

door was opened. This was followed by silence,

and then another squeak as the door

was closed.

Footsteps creaked over his head, slowly

shifting from board to board across the

kitchen floor. Niccolo Paladina felt his tense

muscles throbbing in pain as he crouched

down, aching and tight. It felt like he’d been

hiding forever, but it had been less than a


‚Maybe you’re down here,‛ the man said,

and the closeness of his voice nearly drew a

gasp from the hiding priest.

He was just overhead now, at the top of the

stairs. The man began humming to himself

as he took his first step down. Father Paladina

winced as dust fell down on his head.

Another step, the sound of the boot on the

stairs like a nail in the priest’s coffin. He kept

on coming, humming a tuneless hum, until

the father could see the boots in front of his


‚Priest? I can feel you down here, priest.

Why are you hiding? You know I’ll find you.‛

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Niccolo could feel himself trembling and he

knew the man was right.

He shouldn’t have come out here alone. He

shouldn’t have left the car and Father Reynolds.

It was the middle of the night, he was alone,

and something was very, very wrong.

It had stopped raining, but that was little consolation.

At least the rain had dulled the sound

and everything didn’t sound so…crisp. His

breathing, his slight movements, the way the

rosary clipped against his teeth as it rattled.

It was over. He was going to die. He should at

least face it like a man.

A man of God.

He forced his legs to move and stand up, stepping

out from under the stairs to confront his

pursuer. It was dark in the basement and everything

was in shadows, but he could see the

man’s face.

A scar ran from his ear down his cheek to his

jawline. He had a scrabbly brown beard but it

didn’t hit it at all. He was wearing a red trucker

hat and overalls, but that wasn’t what caught

the Priest’s attention. He couldn’t see past the

man’s eyes, the way they were dull and dead,


‚There you are,‛ the man said, grinning and

baring his teeth. He looked more feral than

anything. ‚Ready to meet your maker?‛

Father Paladina opened his mouth to speak, to

pray, but no sounds would come out. His voice

had abandoned him, the words he’d practiced

for years caught in his throat.

‚What? Cat got your tongue?‛ the man asked,

stepping closer to him and still grinning his

insane grin.

‚Vile abomination, you don’t belong here. By

the power of Christ I compel you,‛ the priest

muttered, taking a step back. He held up his

rosary, hand still shaking. ‚In the name of the

Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.‛

The man stopped moving forward, his grin fading.

‚You compel me?‛

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Father Paladina was emboldened, feeling the

power of God coursing through him. It was

having an effect, the power, the prayers, and

his faith. They were holding the demon at bay.

‚You do not belong here. Return from whence

you came. Through the power of Christ, I demand

that you leave this place.‛

A long moment passed, the only sound the

Priest’s breathing. He held his rosary forth,

hand unwavering and back tall. They stared at

each other, locked in place as the seconds

ticked by.

‚Silly priest,‛ the man said finally, his grin returning.

‚Don’t you know you have no power


The man reached up and grabbed the rosary in

Father Paladina’s hand. There was a sizzling

sound, as though something was burning, and

the priest could feel it heating up.

He watched in horror as the man stepped closer,

pressing the cross to his forehead. It burned

where it touched, and the man started laughing

a wild and maniacal laugh.

Father Paladina released his grip on the cross

and jerked back in disgust and horror. The man

let it fall to the floor, and there it lay.

‚How does it feel?‛ the man asked, stepping

closer to Father Paladina. He was still grinning

that sick and toothy grin. ‚How does it feel to

know you are truly alone?‛

He reached forward, grabbing the priest

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


Michelle Kidd

Interview questions - Sheena Macleod

December 2016

You recently won a Kindle Scout campaign

for Timeless Moments. Congratulations.

What does this mean for


Thank you! It still seems a bit surreal. It is a wonderful

opportunity. Because I home-school my

two sons, I am limited with the time I have to

write and market. I’m new to this world of publishing.

Kindle Scout pushed me to get out of my

comfort zone. The KS program was a crash

course in many of the things necessary to promote

my work and have it seen by readers and

potential buyers. It has been an exciting time.

I’ve learned much and am grateful for the opportunity.

What made you decide to submit

Timeless Moments for Kindle


Good question. There are so many opportunities

for authors today. It isn’t always easy to find the

path that’s a good fit for the writer and their

book. Since TM was my first book, I didn’t feel a

traditional publisher would take a serious look at

my manuscript. I wasn’t comfortable going the

indie route alone. When I learned of Kindle

Scout, it seemed like the middle of the road. On

my own, I doubt I would have had the courage to

plunge ahead, but I loved my characters so

much. I wanted readers to have the opportunity

to meet them. Kindle Scout gave me the exposure

to get my book out there and into the hands

of the public.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

What was the inspiration behind Timeless


A high school yearbook from the year 1915 inspired

me. One picture particularly held my attention.

I found myself wondering what would happen

if I could travel back in time to find out why

such a striking young woman would look so sad. I

combined that idea with my fascination of time

travel, and the story grew from there. Originally,

Timeless Moments was to be a series of short stories,

but another friend encouraged me there was

much more to Jewel’s story. I guess his enthusiasm

was contagious and led me to write a full-length


Does Timeless Moments have a moral?

The fundamental message for Timeless Moments

would be love. Love conquers all. The story

has three distinct timelines, but love is a central

vehicle that drives the characters throughout the


What is your favourite part of Timeless


There are several sections of Timeless Moments I

enjoyed writing. Probably my favorite is when Addie,

a cook/housemaid, must overcome her fears,

putting her own life at risk , to help the main character,

Jewel. It was an intense scene to write, and

I was quite eager to find out how Addie would respond.

In life, we’re often faced with those kinds of challenges.

We hope we will choose the morally

responsible thing, but when our own lives or

comfort is threatened, the decisive lines of morality

often become blurred. It was interesting to see

how Addie responded.

I’m also a big fan of history. I love how the past

directly influences the present. Being able to combine

the timelines and travel between the worlds

was so a dream come true. I hope readers will find

the transitions as enjoyable as I did writing them.

What is your favourite book? Why?

It is hard to choose one. But the fictional book that

inspired me the most was Charlotte’s Web by E. B.

White. From the moment I opened the pages of

Charlotte’s Web, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Those first lines gripped me and pulled me into

the Arable’s kitchen. To my young mind, it was

magic. Words have the power to connect us like

nothing else. Mr. White had me at Fern’s sopping


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Why did you decide to participate in

the One Million Project?

When first approached with the idea, I wasn’t

sure I would be able to contribute. But as I read

about the organization and learned of the many

talented participants working together to benefit

charities, I wanted to add my support to such a

worthwhile endeavour.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I enjoy spending time with my family. Family is

everything to me. It is why I chose to homeschool

my two boys. When I’m not working on lesson

plans or tapping away at the keyboard, you’ll find

me curled up with a good book or quilting. I’m

very much a homebody.

What are you currently writing?

I’m very excited about my next project. It is another

mystery about a young woman who finds

her mother murdered. All the evidence points to

her. She finds herself in a race to unravel her

mother’s past to find the real killer.

What advice would you give to

someone considering a Kindle

Scout campaign for their book?

I would highly recommend the experience to

anyone who wants to have their book published.

The benefit of the Kindle Scout program

does not come only from being selected

(although that is a plus J ) It is so much

more. It gives those who are thinking of going

the indie route a taste of the work involved

in marketing their novel. You have the

added advantage of offering those who voted

for your book free copies to review prior

to your launch. If you are not chosen, those

who supported your campaign are notified

when the book becomes available. They are

given a direct link that allows them to purchase

your product. Throughout the process,

you develop a network of friends, other authors

and valuable contacts that are necessary

to market.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Victoria Stoyanova Art

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

One Million Project


New Book Releases


Art Projects

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Past in Shadows


Cassandra DenHartog

Love doesn’t come easy.

It doesn’t come fast.

It comes with everything that’s made to destroy

the heart and soul.

Nikolai is a crippled PI suffering from fibromyalgia

and a bad case of brokeitis. On the surface his

crass disposition comes off rough, but deep down

a loneliness eats at him

Ada is hiding from her past, a victim of being

pimped out at a young age. Her dream of becoming

an artist is cut short by a boss with an evil

agenda and creatures trying to attack her in the


When Ada reaches out to Nikolai for help they

soon realize neither of them will have answers if

they can’t address their own emotion turmoil. They

are thrown into a dark world, but when her life is in

danger it’s the mysterious vampire named Steel

who saves her. Together they can break a curse

hundreds of years old and in the process might

just find the love they have been yearning for. Together

they make a love triangle between two people

no one expected.

The book is available on Amazon





Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

The Involuntary Ghostwriter


Douglas Debelak

The book is available on Amazon

In the beginning, questions and more questions:

One of my favorite is, ‚What if God was one of us?‛

Which resonates through the lyrics of the song ‘One

of Us’, written by Eric Brazilian, recorded by Joan

Osborne, and later by Alanis Morrisette.

What if, as the Christian Bible tells us we were created

in the image of God?

What if, rather than having existed forever, He had a

beginning? What if, He was born and once lived a

life much like our own. What if, He was once just a

boy who took His parents literally when they told

Him ‘He could be anything He wanted to be?’

If so, how would He have become more than just a

boy, more than just a man? How would He have

transcended his mortality to become the Creator of

our universe?

Since the writers of our Holy Books have been men

and women, weren’t they ghostwriters for God? If

they had no choice, but were compelled to write the

words they did, weren’t they Involuntary Ghostwriters?






A financial boon gave Jonathon Fry the opportunity

to fulfill a dream and write a novel. But, he was soon

haunted by erotic dreams of a beautiful woman he

had never met, and his mind flooded with memories

that were not his own. Were the words he wrote his


Jonathon’s wife was the beneficiary of his late-night

arousals - until he’d been stupid enough to answer

her question honestly: What got his hormones in an


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

The Adoption:

A Psychological Thriller


Greg Meritt



A childless couple. An adoption specialist.

A little girl with a secret. A young boy

with unimaginable powers. A scientist

with an over-inflated ego. And an elderly

psychic who knows the truth.

In the fall of 2002, in Seattle, Claire and

Logan Keller adopt five-year-old Samantha

Jennings and welcome her into their

home. But then strange, bizarre and incredible

things begin to happen. The Kellers

are unwittingly pulled into an unfathomable

world of deception, power and

suspense. They find themselves on the

run from an unseen force, searching for

The books is available on Amazon




“The Adoption‛ is a stunner! I was hooked from the

first page and could not put the book down. Greg

Meritt is a master storyteller, up there with the best of

them! A psychological thriller of thoughtful and creative

proportions. Not one boring page in the entire

book. A definite A+ from me!

—Valerie Byron, author of No Ordinary Woman, The

Man Who Lost His Genius, and The Man on the Train

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Raven's Peak & Raven’s



Lincoln Cole

A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big

problem. When the townsfolk of Raven's Peak

start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon

to discover the root of the evil affecting people.

She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she's

ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay


Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying

fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in

the supernatural that he knows nothing about.

Now she's forced to protect him, which is easy,

but also to trust him if she wants to save the

townsfolk of Raven's Peak. Trust, however, is

something hard to have for someone who grew

up living on the knife's edge of danger.

Can they discover the cause of the town's insanity

and put a stop to it before it is too late?

‚QUALITY OF WRITING: Absorbing. Excellent. The author

writes with confidence and there are no wasted words. Every

sentence is there for a reason and adds to or carries the story

along. ‚ - Ben (Amazon Reader)

The book is available on Amazon



Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Timeless Moments


Michelle Kidd

Kindle Scout Winner - Jack Vines has the

Victorian home of his dreams--or so it

seems until he discovers an intriguing

beauty lurking in the shadows. Stunned,

he finds they share the house but live a

century apart. The realization leads him to

questions so disturbing it changes both

their lives forever. She is a prisoner of the

past, shrouded in a world of dark mysteries.

He holds the keys that will protect

their future. But first, he must solve the

mystery concealed for nearly a hundred


‚As an insatiable reader, I've learned that not all

books are that sought after/ but seldom found

"great book! So, when I find one, I treasure it. This

book reads almost like poetry. The story is unique,

with time travel at its' centre. The characters come to

life, even at 100 years apart. This is not a weird sci-fi

story. It is totally believable. his is one of the very

best I've ever read. I can't recommend it highly

enough! ‚

The book is available on Amazon

- By nanajanrog (Amazon Reader)



Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Bite Size Stories V3


Jason Greenfield

Bite Size Stories is the book for people too busy

to read. Sections One and Two present tiny stories

that can be read in just a few minutes, averaging

500-1200 words.

Read them on the train or during a 15 minute

break. Perfect for airports and waiting for buses.

‚It could take 10 minutes of your time during the rush

hour or 2 hours before bed. Smart idea!‛ - Amazon


The book is available on Amazon




Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Victoria Stoyanova Art


Victoria Stoyanova

She is a Bulgarian artist born in 1968 in Sofia.

Her love for painting becomes a personal philosophy and lifestyle in 1997 after a very successful

career as a fashion designer. In the short time of 18 years Victoria realized 36 solo exhibitions

in Bulgaria, France, Italy, England and Greece.

Won second place in the prestigious competition of Oxford—International Art Competition

"Tears of Happiness", Oxford 2013 and first place in the International Competition contemporary

Artists "Step to success 2013" Moscow.

Owner is EDO ART Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria. Victoria Stoyanova’s painting is music in color.

Colourful, exuberant and very emotional in their stories.

In her paintings light and darkness dance drama dance. You'll know in images and emotions.

Victoria is the sister of the wind, equally delicate and bold, multifaceted, fast and exciting.

Favorite great thought is: "If

ever I am visited, the muse will

find me working!"


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Victoria Stoyanova House of Lego

In verse Bobby Kasteels

50cm x 70cm

Victoria Stoyanova White Silence

50cm x 70cm

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Victoria Stoyanova Dream of Lotus 50cm x 70cm

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Who is the voice behind ‚It’s me Ethan!‛

By Lora Tabakova

The mother and fighter behind the best new

blog of 2016 by the IBA—Geraldine Renton.

When I was looking for a guest for our One Million

Project Magazine, I decided that the best person

for would be Geraldine. I have been following her

blog for one and a half years and I do admire her

efforts and positivism.

I asked Geraldine for a short interview a few

months ago when it occurred to me that I am not

the right person to ask questions nor anybody else

for that matter—when trying to understand what is

Hunter Syndrome and how it affects everyone and

everything around.



Here is how Geraldine asked & answered the

questions herself.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Geraldine Renton

Often Vs Never

What is Hunter Syndrome?

Hunter syndrome is a rare genetic, life limiting

illness. An enzyme which helps break down

waste material in the body, is missing or in milder

cases of the syndrome, this enzyme is partially


Because this tiny enzyme is damaged or missing,

the waste materials build up in the body , as

there is no other place for this waste to go but

to stay in the body, slowly building up over time.

This build-up of waste causes damage to every

single part of the body and brain; every single

part of the body- from fingers right to hair!

This syndrome normally affects boys only but

there are two girls in the world with the syndrome.

It is genetic and normally passed from

mother to son; but often it can occur in the

womb with no family history.

There are roughly 2000 boys worldwide living

with the syndrome.

With severe cases; these boys tend to die during

their teenage years.

Each child is given Enzyme Replacement

therapy (ERT) once a week, with the hope

of slowing the progression of the syndrome

down; in layman's terms this treatment

buys families, like mine, time.

What does life limiting mean?

Life limiting is a nicer way to say terminal,

when referring to Hunter Syndrome. It is a

progressive syndrome, which means the

boy who once learned to walk, talk, cycle,

use the toilet, feed himself will lose all

those skills in time.

Why do you write about Hunter


For awareness. When my son was diagnosed

there was nothing out on the internet

only medical journals telling me my

son was dying. I wanted to show the world

and more importantly, newly diagnosed

families with any special needs; that there

is a life to be lived with my son, that it is

not always sad. I wanted people to understand

our life and to therefore understand

on some level , what it is like to be that

parent of the child with special needs.

I write for me. I write so I can look back

and remembering the good, bad, sad, funny

life we have with Ethan.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Do you write about anything

other than Ethan?

Absolutely ! I love to write. I write poetry. I

write about my Irish childhood and I have

written a few short fictional stories.

Does your government help you

with the life you have to live?

That's a difficult question. Yes and No.

Ethan needs care 24/7 and as he ages his

needs will become more intense. I gave up

my job to be Ethan's carer. The government

pays me a small wage but have been

cutting it for years. Now, when it comes to

the ‘budget’ of our small island. Carers like

me can’t protest so we are easy targets

when it comes to taking financial help

away from a group of people.

We fight for everything Ethan needs such

as therapies, medical help, medical equipment

and schooling. Ethan has a medical

card, which covers almost all his medical

expenses, which I am eternally grateful for

as the ERT- Ethan receives currently, is the

second most expensive drug in the world.

What could the government do,

to make your life and that of

Ethan's a little bit easier?

They could roll out a plan for Carers like

me, who are still quiet young and know

that their days of being a career will end

faster than most; due to the fact that their

child has a terminal condition. They could

reduce the amount of letters they demand

when apply for help with the financially

side of Ethan's care; it is soul destroying

having to ask for a letter over and over

stating that your child is dying.

How old is Ethan, tell me about


Ethan is 14. He is funny, caring and very

charming. His favourite thing to do currently

(as this changes due to the progression

of his syndrome and his level of understanding)

is flick switches while dancing

to ‘Mickey Mouse clubhouse’ theme

tune...it is a talent! Ethan loves to be loved

and gives love so freely. He is innocent and

always will be. Ethan can make you laugh

without even trying to; once he laughs

even the coldest heart would find it hard

not to laugh along with him, he is the definition

of a child with an infectious hearty

laugh. It is the most beautiful sound in my


What are your hopes and dreams?

That's a hard one. On a personal level, I

hope one day soon, that a cure for all MPS

and related disease can be found. I hope to

see Ethan become an adult. I hope his

brothers get to have some more quality

time with him and us, so we have the opportunity

to make some great memories.

I hope all my boys know that I love them


On a more professional level, I hope to

write a book or two! My dream is to become

a published writer who people enjoy


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

‚There are a few different competitions

out there for earning a publishing

contract, but none quite like Kindle


By Lincoln Cole

One Million


‚The light won't go out, is a collection

of short stories and poems ….‛

By Cassandra DenHartog

‚Sitting around the fire with the others,

Janie Mackay looked up at the star

-filled sky……‛

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Kindle Scout

By Lincoln Cole

There are a few different competitions out there

for earning a publishing contract, but none quite

like Kindle Scout. This is Amazon’s version of

reader powered publishing where anyone can

submit a book, fans vote and then Amazon publishes

the books that are the most popular.

Except, that isn’t quite how it works.

Basically, the reward of the program is a contract

with Amazon , (and a fairly good one at

that) where you split royalties, can still sell your

own paperback, and they help to perfect and

promote. The selection process is determined

partly by reader votes , (called nominations) ,

but the final decision is purely internal and

made by their editorial team. They have selected

books with almost no nominations and turned

down books with thousands.

Signing up:

You need a 50,000+ word novel that isn’t published

or released anywhere else, a cover and

some other minor details. You agree to a fortyfive

day exclusivity deal (meaning you won’t

send it to agents or publishers for a month and

a half) , and then they build a landing page. You

agree upfront that if they do select you, you will

automatically be enrolled in the final contract,

so make sure you understand and agree to

those terms BEFORE you submit.


Once you have a landing page, you will direct

people to it. Friends, family, enemies and anyone

you can reach should be directed

here, and ideally they will read the content

you wrote and nominate. The first 10% of your

book will be available along with all of the other

details , and it will also be promoted and

available on the Kindle Scout website for people

just browsing.

There is a Hot & Trending list and countdown

lists so you know when campaigns will end.

They allow you to see details like how many

hours you spend Hot & Trending and the page

views, as well as how many were from people

browsing their website and how many you

sent in through your campaign.


If you are selected for publication, then you

will receive a $1,500 upfront advance , (which

will be paid back from your first sales) , and

they will contact you directly for further details

about the process.

They orchestrate at least one promotion every

three months for the first year , (though many

books get considerably more than this, especially

in the first months). Many selected books

have sold thousands of copies in the first

weeks or gone on to be bestsellers and Amazon

itself gives priority consideration to their

own imprints for recommendations and sales.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Further Information:

In general, if a book is amazing it will get picked

no matter how many views/nominations it gets,

and if a book is terrible it won’t get picked even if

it spent the entire thirty-day campaign on the

Hot & Trending list. The program has been out

for a couple of years, but many books are still

performing incredibly well and show no signs of

slowing down.

Kindle Scout limits the details they give authors

and prefer for their system to be a black box of

information, but there are benchmarks and ways

for people to fully understand how well they are


If you are interested in giving the program a try,

then you might consider checking out my Kindle

Scout Guide where I go into extreme depth about

the program and tips and tricks to increase your

odds of getting picked. It is a great place for new

authors to start, and they might submit four or

five times before finally getting accepted, but it is

certainly worthwhile to win a contract.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Guide to inserting pictures

By Lincoln Cole

If you have ever scrolled through an interactive

Kindle E-Book you know the value of pictures.

They can convey an idea that might take you

several paragraphs to explain, or even display a

book cover that you would never be able to

properly describe.

The best part of this is that adding images to

your call to action is incredibly simple and can

be done very quickly. This guide assumes you

are building your document in Word and intending

to add a ‚call to action‛ page at the

back of your book. If you aren’t sure what

a ‚call to action‛ is, a quick internet search can

clarify it for you, as well as the benefits you gain

from it.

Step 1: Copy and paste your image into

your ‚call to action‛ page. You will need to right

click and change the size, though when you upload

your book to Amazon they will handle automatic

resizing based on their templates.

Step 2: Immediately after the image, put the text

of your ‚call to action‛ so that it wraps from the

bottom to below the image. Make sure the image

is aligned where you want it on the screen,

often on the left-hand side.

That’s it. When you upload your Word document,

the Amazon system translates the file into HTML

code, which looks something like this:



This is how Amazon actually embeds the image

and makes it clickable. One important thing is that

Amazon will actually read the above link tag and

re-translate it for their own system, which means

that on different devices your image will be sized

differently. This is because a phone image size

shouldn’t be the same as a Kindle image, and

honestly if they didn’t resize, or if you declared

sizes specifically in a file and forced the upload, it

could result in a very bad user experience for


Step 3: Hover over the image and select the

‘tight’ format for text with images. This will pull

the text up to alongside the image, and you can

play with the formatting to make it look how

you want.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

A few extra notes:

1. When you are using a hyperlink, be careful

that you DO NOT put

in Amazon Associate links. Your book is

considered offline, and Associate links are

not allowed to be included offline. For this

reason, it is often best to build a landing

page on your website for the book you are

promoting and direct all traffic to it, and

then from there direct back to the book

on Amazon with Affiliate tags.

2. If you are attempting to generate email

subscribers, then often a very good way to

do this is to either offer a free book or a

free sample of a book. The best way to do

this is through Instafreebie. You can integrate

with Mailchimp and force signups

(though with a small monthly fee). In general,

people are more likely to subscribe

with a tangible benefit promised instead of

an eventual contact from you through a

simple ‘signup’ field on a web page.

3. Amazon has begun updating their system

to strip out links but leave images. This isn’t

necessarily a bad thing and only applies to

certain formats of devices (for example, if

you include an image with a link halfway

through the book, there is a very good

chance that Amazon will remove the link

but leave the image). This creates a better

reader experience, so you should leave your

links in the back of your book. You can,

however, include images or promotion

things throughout to hopefully drive increased

awareness of your books and covers.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

The Light Won’t Go Out

Cassandra DenHartog

The Light Won't Go Out, is a collection of short stories and poems

from several authors wanting to make a difference. Each

story was written and donated to help promote a sense of hope

for anyone under any circumstances. This book will be raising

money to donate to the charity the Light Won't Go Out which

supports children with cancer and helps their families get

through tough times while they deal with the financial burden.

Publishing Manager’s


The book was published on 15 of December 2016 on Amazon.




Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing


By Sheena Macleod

Snow-filled clouds gathered outside the highrise

flats. Inside, in a small sitting room on the

ninth floor, Janie MacKay’s gaze drifted back to

the official-looking envelope on the mantelpiece.

Sitting beside the letter, a clock mocked

her as it ticked off the minutes until the contents

came into force. Many others throughout

Scotland would have received the same standard

letter. The only difference would be the

name and address on it, she thought.

Chewing on a fingernail, she wondered what

to do. She had grown up in the care system

and learned early to let other people make decisions

for her. Her mother had died when

Janie was two-years-old, and she had no idea

who her father was. Having been moved about

between foster homes, she had grown up feeling

on the periphery of life. Though she was

made welcome in these people’s homes, she

had no recollection of what it felt like to be a

‘real’ member of a family.

Ten years ago, when she turned sixteen, a

social worker had brought her and her meagre

possessions to this flat. A sitting area,

bedroom, kitchen and bathroom within the

large multi-story complex soon became her

home. She had been taught to cook, shop

and clean. No sooner had she stepped

through the door that first day, when a large

van arrived with the new ‘white goods’ and

household basics that she was entitled to

from the Council; a fridge-freezer, washing

machine, cooker, bed, chairs, and more. She

had stroked it all, unable to believe her eyes.

Every week she received unemployment

benefit and, by setting some aside, had

saved enough for a second-hand multimedia

screen with a built-in social network


Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Janie looked over at the media screen. She

recalled the soaps she used to watch, the dramas

and sitcoms. She missed them all. Her

electricity had been cut off over three months

ago. Sometimes she replayed her favourite

media programmes in her head.

Janie’s attention returned to the mockmantelpiece,

and a distant memory of a similar

one filled with Christmas cards flashed before

her eyes. Unable to help herself, she lifted the

letter down and re-read it. Tomorrow, the 14th

December 2036 she would receive her last

phased payment of unemployment benefit.

The government no longer had the funds to

pay benefits of any kind. Arrangements had

been put in place to drop off a food parcel to

her twice a week. She could remain in her flat,

but no services or repairs would be provided.

Janie’s low mood deepened. She had been

blighted by depression for years; unable to

work she had found ways to exist on her own.

Though she had had lots of virtual people she

chatted to on her social network box, she had

no real-time friends who could help her now.

With no electricity, she had been unable to log

in. She missed her friends from the therapy

group, the members of the exercise class, her

chat site ‘buddies’. At the flick of a switch they

had been removed from her life. The pain she

felt had been no less acute than if they had all

suddenly died. She had grieved for each and

every one of them.

These people had seemed real to her then; they

had been the centre of her life. She had been

delighted by each of the virtual birthday and

Christmas cards they had sent her. In her mind,

she had visualised their hands passing their

cards to her in friendship. With no real-time

social outlets, they had made life liveable. Apart

from food shopping, she rarely ventured outside.

Truth hit her like a punch in the chest; she

was isolated and lonely, and had been since

she moved here. People surrounded her in the

numerous flats throughout the complex, but

she had never spoken to one of them. Like her,

they were unemployed and rarely ventured out,

and when they did they kept their heads

bowed low.

Sighing, Janie pulled on a warm coat and made

her way outside. It was late and starting to get

dark. She needed to think, plan what to do.

While she walked around the multi- story

building, she picked up an armful of twigs. Returning

to the front entrance, she sat down and

scrunched the letter in her hands. Using a twig,

she dug a small hole and placed the letter into

the stony ground. She flicked her lighter and lit

the paper. Then, she settled twigs on top.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

Sitting cross-legged in front of the fire, she

started to sing. Gently at first, then her voice

rose as it did when she sang along to the social

media church. Soon, other people from

the complex gathered beside her and joined

in the song. Most brought wood for the fire.

As their voices filled the air, Janie felt a sense

of exhilaration she had never felt before. It

was as if her spirit had been set free.

The following evening, they gathered

around the fire again and told each other stories;

some dramatic, some funny. When soft

flurries of snow started to fall, Janie looked up

and let the flakes glide onto her face. She

couldn’t remember the last time it had

snowed in December. She wondered if it was

a sign; an omen.

Evening after evening, Janie joined the others

who gathered around the fire outside their

building. Within a week, they had started to

meet during the day. Together, they pooled

their resources and provided for each other. A

group soon formed to carry out household

repairs. Another group set up to alter, refashion

or repair clothes. Janie joined a group who

looked after the children so their parents

could work in a particular group. Someone

even suggested pooling a small sum of money

to buy seeds to plant in the spring.

As Janie glanced around the smiling faces

surrounding her, she realised that these people

had become her real-time friends. She

could hardly remember any of the virtual

people she used to speak to on her social

network box. They had been no more real

than the virtual Christmas cards they had

sent her. Thinking of this made her recall the

pens and paper she had in a drawer. She

hoped she had enough sheets of paper to

make each of her new friends a real Christmas

card. She would start making them tomorrow.

On Christmas morning, Janie found an envelope

that had been pushed under her door.

Brushing back a tear, she opened it and

placed her Christmas card onto the mantelpiece.

When she joined the others around

the fire, she handed out her home-made

cards. Later, someone dragged out a fake

Christmas tree, and the children decorated it

with ribbons made from strips cut from an

old sheet.

Sitting around the fire with the others, Janie

Mackay looked up at the star-filled sky; a sky

filled with hope. A few weeks ago she had

grieved for the loss of her virtual friends;

never again would she see their light shine.

Today, she knew this star would never go

out. She recalled what she had read about

her ancestors being cleared from their

homes and sent to live on the barren cliffedges

in the remote highlands of Scotland.

They had survived losing their homes and

became stronger in the process, and so

would she.

Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

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Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing



Copyright © 2016 by OMP Magazine Publishing

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