Featuring writers has taught me that every single one of us has a uniqueness which defines how we write and what we write. To me, Andrew Hope is among the more unique of them all. When he is not working on his novels, screenplays, or writing eye-opening short stories- he might be drawing for a comic book or doing something many of us deny enjoying: watching movies!
Now, to me, a story is a story no matter how its presented. I am vocal but honestly don’t like to get involved in the books vs. movies fight simply because there is so much you can do with one that you can’t do with the other and vise versa. There is merit in nearly all avenues for consuming our world. So you can tell that I can appreciate a writer like Andrew, who regularly reviews movies on his blog. Truth be told, his site is probably one of the first places I’d go if I wanted to see reviews (so long as he’s reviewed what I’d like to see), he is honest and has the typing hands of a skilled writer. I haven’t asked if he was open to reviewing other writers, but I know he could easily make a living off of it with how thoroughly he does it.

Andrew isn’t just good at reviews, in fact he admits that he is an accomplished writer and artist of comics. Major claims to fame being the artist of Mark Miller’s Shadowmen and to being the writer of Marvel’s Fantomex Max– I’m sure many of us would like to have a big name like Marvel under our belts. Preferring to work with screenplays and Weird Fiction, a type of horror-fantasy style, he attributes his inspirations from Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, and Clive Barker. If you are familiar with those names then you are familiar with the type of writer he is. His work is dark, vulgar, quite violent, and at times intentionally crude.

I personally believe that his word building is exceptional. Andrew uses imagery such that you can feel his interest in graphic novels and screenplay writing as you read. he makes the scenes just play in your head as movies- something we readers usually have to do for ourselves. While I personally haven’t read Fantomex Max, I’ve had the chance to peruse his short stories. And since he’s sent me a good long piece, I feel we should get right to the point.

Here is an excerpt from Andrew Hope’s short story Cold Wind to Valhalla

*I do not own any rights to any story or to any creative license to any work by Andrew Hope. This is a featured post that I do not claim to own nor have I altered the text contained in any way except to format it to my website. All images and texts you see are from Andrew him, at his own website with my understanding as to his permission to use them. Consider this statement a void of the Creative Commons to this page on this website.*

Like everyone around him, Eddie stood looking up at the TV.  The mood inside Stornoway Airport was a palpable mix of despair and fear that seeped into the very bones and grew like mold.  Even though it was only 4:30pm local time, it had grown dark outside the small terminal, and rain lashed against the windows.  Eddie looked around at the passengers who had traveled with him from Glasgow on the short, turbulent flight.  A tall man comforted his wife and two small children, three teens with earbuds stared vacantly at up the news reader.  The elderly couple who had sat across from him on the plane were locked into a silent debate, pinched mouths making the shapes of words that Eddie couldn’t hear.

“Jesus, is this really happening?” a man’s voice said beside him.  Eddie turned and had to raise his chin to meet the man’s eyes, which seemed to have been forced down by his brows into the center of his long, thin face.  Eddie looked away.  “How can this be happening?” the man asked again.  The question sounded begging, more like a plea.  Eddie looked back up at the television to try to understand it himself.  The seed of Armaggedon had been planted in late summer, from what he recalled.  It was innocuous enough for the times, an Eastern cyberattack on Japan had shut down its national power grid for three days.  While they struggled to restore power, the West went on the offensive of a sort; millions of embarrassing emails between the politicians of Russian and China were released simultaneously, and for a while the world had settled into a tense détente.  All that had ended last week, the uneasy ceasefire shattered by the tit for tat attack on the US Government that named every operative working in the deathlands of the Middle East, and their in-country contacts.

Eddie wanted – needed – to drag his eyes from the screen, but they were glued as the latest news filtered out, like a poison in the air.  China had declared war upon Japan for the arrest of all of the diplomats in the embassy.  The Japanese military had simply stormed the building.  The images recorded earlier that day from Tokyo showed the Chinese being led to vehicles at gunpoint with their hands behind their heads.  The ticker running along the bottom of the screen told of how US and British officials were scrambling to arrange a diplomatic solution to the problem, but gigantic crowds had assembled in both countries calling for blood.  The newsreader’s delivery was varnished over with solemnity, and it had the intended affect in this little place so near the top of the world.  A pall of terror and grief had settled over everyone from the passengers to the handful of people working the little retail stores of the terminal.  He couldn’t take it any more, it was smothering him.  He needed to leave.

Shrugging himself into his rucksack, a hand was placed on his shoulder; he turned and looked again into the face of the tall man.  There was anger there now.  “I heard you earlier; you’re American, right?”

“Uh, sure,” Eddie said.

“Why don’t you guys do something? This is getting out of hand.”

Eddie instinctively looked back at the TV then back to the man again, who had appeared to have gone over the edge of madness.  Why else would he have asked such a ridiculous question?  It didn’t matter now.  He shook his head and strode away in the direction of the ground transportation signs, leaving them all behind, knowing that he would never see any of them again.

He was in luck; the bus that he needed to get to Eoropaidh on the island’s northwest corner was sitting outside, engine rumbling, exhaust coiling up and into the cold rain.  He hooded his eyes and pressed his face to the glass of the door and saw the driver’s face illuminated by the light from his cellphone.  Eddie knocked on the glass and the man twitched in fright.  He looked out through the darkness at Eddie for a couple of long seconds, then fumbled around.  The door opened with a pneumatic hiss and Eddie stepped aboard quickly, rainwater running down into his collar.  Before the man could ask him if he’d been watching the news, Eddie went quickly to the back of the silent and empty bus, unslung his rucksack and put it between his feet.  Someone followed him out of the terminal and boarded the bus before the doors could close.  It was a man whom Eddie remembered had sat near the back of the plane from Glasgow.  They had boarded together while Eddie wondered if he’d seen the man from the flight from Minneapolis earlier.  It was hard to say with so many faces, all etched with anxiety.  Cocooned in the darkness, Eddie felt he saw the man strain to peer into the back where Eddie sat; he was sure he could see the man’s eyes roam, searching.  Almost too casually, the man dropped into a seat near the front, behind the driver.  Eddie realized that he may have to walk past him in order to leave, but what was the likelihood they were both traveling to the same destination?  It was the last stop on the hour-plus ride.  Eddie put up his hood and tried to relax, pushing himself into the stiff backed seat.  His hand unconsciously went inside his jacket to feel for the envelope.  Of course it was there, but it comforted him to feel the proof of it nevertheless.  The sum total of his life was in that envelope; each of the hundred dollar bills there were encoded with the story of him, and what he was worth.  Ninety five hundred dollars wouldn’t buy a car, but it might buy him something even more valuable.  He must have drifted to sleep quickly; he found himself snapping awake when the bus went into gear and pulled away from the terminal, headed for Stornoway and all points north.  Panicked, Eddie’s eyes darted around the dark interior.  Nobody else had joined he and the other man, but the bus already felt as if it was full of ghosts.  Inside his pocket, his phone buzzed.  Cynthia’s name appeared in the Messenger alert.  He tapped the application open and read, You sold all your stuff?!!!!!!! Where are you Eddie?  Please call.  C.  It was too painful to answer.  He put the phone back in his pocket and settled back again, leaning his head against the cold glass of the window, and waited for sleep to take him again.

He awoke a little while later and watched the other passenger get off the bus at a small bus shelter.  On both sides of the street were two sparse rows of stucco-covered, modest homes.  As Eddie peered out through the window he could see nothing beyond them, only the darkness that surrounded remote places like this.  The bus pulled back out onto the road, and when Eddie felt assured that he was alone, he made his way to the front of the bus and sat directly behind the driver.  “How far until the last stop,” he asked.  He looked to his right, and saw a church with all lights blazing and people filing into it.  Were they going in to pray for the Earth, he wondered, or just themselves?

“You American?” asked the driver.  “What are you doing all the way over here?”

“I’m visiting a friend,” Eddie replied.  “How much longer to go?”

“About 40 minutes … “ the driver trailed off, and fearful of being drawn into another discussion about how the future was fast approaching, Eddie returned to the back seat and this time did not sleep.

It was around 6pm when the bus reached Eoropaidh.  Eddie stood within the bus shelter watching it pull away and recede into the darkness.  When it had gone, he found his bearings on the small map he unfolded from his pocket and peered at under the dim bulb.  The rain continued to fall, now little more than a light drizzle.  He was glad of the shelter, though.  Around him the lights of the sparse houses were comforting, but the darkness that cloaked everything made it feel like the rest of the world had been erased, a sign of things to come.  He took out his phone and saw that Cynthia had sent several more pleading texts, but he skipped past them to his contacts and tapped the one that said “Jenny” and held the phone to his ear.  It rang long enough to make his heart palpitate, then a voice on the other end said, “Hello?  Is this Eddie?” and he exhaled mist through trembling lungs.

“Yeah, it’s Eddie.  You said to call you when I was in town.”

There was a pause he hadn’t anticipated, then she said, “Are you at the busstop?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“I’ll be there in five minutes.”  She hung up halfway through his goodbye.  Eddie pulled his collar up and tried to curl into his clothing, looking for hidden pockets of warmth, but settled for hunching his shoulders up around his neck and jamming his hands deep into his pockets, bunched into fists.  He stayed perfectly still like that for the best part of five minutes, until the lights of a car appeared from the north.  Eddie stood and went to the edge of the bus shelter, and by now the cold had settled into him like frost.  He shivered as he watched the lights come closer until he could see that they belonged to a small car.  It stopped by him and the woman inside rolled down the window.  “I’m Jenny,” she said.  “Get in.”

Eddie rounded the front of the car and got into the front passenger seat.  It wasn’t much warmer inside than it was out, but the car seat was the most comfort he’d had since leaving Minneapolis the previous morning.  He watched as Jenny turned the car around 180 degrees and pointed the car back in the direction she’d come from.  She was exactly like her AirBnB picture; fortyish with long red hair streaked with gray, thin lipped and strong nosed, above which were two hawkish eyes.  Not so much attractive as stoic, Eddie thought.  They made light small talk on the five minute drive through the absolute, swallowing blackness that lay beyond the small village.  She briefly asked him if he knew what was happening in Asia, and he mumbled that he hadn’t had much opportunity to listen to the news.  She nodded but said nothing, but he could feel that she was hiding her true feelings from him.

Past her face, Eddie could see the beam that shone out from the nearby lighthouse, and that too was swallowed by the night.  She took a single lane dirt road that veered away from the lighthouse, and soon he could see a small red house approach, with lights burning in each window.  Gray smoke exhaled from it through the chimney.  They parked outside it and got out.  It was little more than a shack, but seemed recently built, or renovated.  He carried his rucksack to the front door and waited for her to unlock the place, but she merely opened it and went inside.  He followed and she closed the door behind him.  “Take off your jacket and put it in the cupboard there,” she said, making his eyes go to the coat closet beside him.  He did as he was told, draping it on a hanger next to her coats.  A brief movement caught the corner of his eye; Eddie turned to see a small dog run from the next room and come to sniff his legs.  “This is Rhubarb,” she said.  “He won’t bite.”  Eddie reached down and ran his fingers through the long fine hair that fell down over the dog’s eyes.  When he stood up again, Jenny was looking him up and down, and he felt suddenly scrutinized.  Self conscious, he looked away to her small TV that was playing the news, and she looked too.  “It’s been on all day,” she said.  “It’s getting worse over there.”  He looked at the screen; it was the same recorded image of the Chinese diplomats being marched out of their Tokyo consulate.  The voiceover said that the Russians had ordered all of their worldwide diplomats home, an unprecedented move that analysts were struggling to interpret.  “Coffee?” she asked.  Eddie nodded absently, and she walked into the little space in the corner of the room that had a fridge and microwave tucked among some cupboards.

“Can I take my boots off?” he asked, and watched her take a cup from over the shelf that held the microwave.  She was slim and able-bodied and her clothes fit her well, but that wasn’t why he was here.  He’d have to tell her the truth sooner or later, though.  Why not now?

“Make yourself at home,” she said.  He pulled his boots off and set them by the front door, and by the time he went to the couch, Rhubarb had jumped upon it, quivering in anticipation.  Eddie sat back, and the couch seemed to absorb his mass and draw away much of his tension, drinking it into itself; at once, his limbs no longer felt leaden and his muscles sagged in thanks.  He patted his inside pocket for the envelope and felt it there.  The little dog came to lay across his lap and while he watched the events on the news and waited for Jenny to return, he stroked its small back and head.  It didn’t matter that she’d think he was crazy when he told her.  Mostly because that was the truth, but also because of the envelope.  He looked around the living room.  It was sparsely furnished but cozy, the kind of place that he himself had dreamed of moving to.  A place where he could be far enough from the world and its people, a place where any interactions he’d be involved in would be orchestrated by him on a schedule he would control.  He looked at his phone and opened the messenger app to read Cynthia’s panicked texts.  In brief bursts she told him how they were leaving the city to go north to the cabin until things calmed down.  She begged him to get in touch with her so she knew he was okay.  He looked at the time – it would be mid afternoon in Minnesota.  Although he thought better of it, he messaged her back: I’m okay.  In Scotland.  He regretted sending it – his new location would raise too many new questions he didn’t want to answer, so he followed it up with I’ll be in touch soon. Stay safe, E.

The microwave dinged, and Eddie shot a glance into the kitchen area to watch Jenny spoon instant coffee into two mugs.  He said no to cream when she asked over her shoulder, and soon she was in front of him putting the cups on the driftwood coffee table that sat between the couch and the TV.  Rhubarb leapt to the floor and trotted off, back into the room.  Jenny sat to his right on a rocking chair blanketed with what looked like a homemade quilt.  What else was there to do here, he wondered.  His heart began beating too quickly.  Would she really throw him out when he’d revealed the true reason he was here?  He had to constantly remind himself that’s not how people – reasonable people – actually behaved.  Before she could engage him in polite small talk, he took the envelope from his pocket and said, too loudly, “I lied to you about why I’m here.”

She glared at him over her pursed lips, suspending the act of blowing across her mug.  As always, his stomach squirmed and the familiar rush of emotions washed over him; embarrassment for his lies, shame for the revulsion they produced in the other party, the feeling of worthlessness that the meds and his daily cognitive, self-affirming mantras kept at bay.  “Oh?” she asked sharply.

He put the envelope on the table with shaking hands.  “I need to get to the island tomorrow,” he said.  “This is my life savings … it’s all yours. I just need you to take me there.”  Her eyes glanced downward at the packet, then back to him, and her face was set like stone.  She didn’t reach for it, and he crumpled inside, a failure.  He spoke up quickly, to placate her.  “Don’t throw me out,” he said.  “Will you just listen?”

She cooled her coffee with her breath and, surprisingly asked, “Why do you want to go there so badly?”  Eddie’s mind swirled around and he realized he hadn’t anticipated the question, thinking that bribery would eliminate any of them.  He couldn’t tell her the real reason … but honesty was part of the therapy too, and ultimately wasn’t that why he was here?  She stood up before he could commit to saying anything and swept her hand at the TV.  “Look at what’s happening?  The fucking world could be ending today or tomorrow.  Nobody wants to go anywhere or do anything.”  Her face twisted, bitter with the taste of the world.  “Why bother?”

…….. Want to read the rest? CLICK HERE

© 2016 Andrew Hope, All Rights Reserved

Registered WGAW November 26 2016

*I do not own any rights to any story or to any creative license to any work by Andrew Hope. This is a featured post that I do not claim to own nor have I altered the text contained in any way except to format it to my website. All images and texts you see are from Andrew him, at his own website with my understanding as to his permission to use them. Consider this statement a void of the Creative Commons to this page on this website.*

If you want to learn more about Andrew Hope you can follow him on the twitterverse here. You can also find him on his website here. He is a kind person and quite approachable in his social media style. I suggest you take a look at his work and see for yourself his merit as a storyteller. Last I knew he has a trilogy in the works, so remember that you’ll be seeing more of him in the near future!

I would also like to personally extend my thanks to Andrew for his patience with me, as he sent his work to me over a month ago and didn’t hear from me for most of that time. I loved the story, Andrew, and I hope to see more of your work in print.

I’ve featured writers for a few weeks now. It has brought me nothing but true gems. I am proud to feature the work of great writers- people who deserve to be heard. I want to continue to share your work. So please, if you want to be featured, contact me via message here, or here. I will respond to everyone as soon as I can (I’m not the best at responding immediately).


If you want to check out some of my work, click here for a collection of everything I do on this website. At the end of each post is a personal book recommendation from me to you! I ask that you check them out, as until I’m published those recommendations are my only way to feed my kittens (…aside from delivering Chinese food…)!


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