Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Brutes: The Manifestations of Misogyny, Oppression, and Femicide

Illustration By: Chenthooran Nambiarooran
Brutes are not birthed by something as simple as hate. No matter the species, hatred sits heavy in the hearts of all Manifestations, smoldering like accursed embers. What pools together to eventually give these particular abominations form originates from something angrier, darker, and far more malignant. It is a sense of entitlement to a woman's attention and body. It is a callous demand of subservience. It is keeping a patriarchal structure of dominance through intimidation, fear, and hostility. It is threatening any woman who breaks those norms or expectations with rape, violence, and death.

Brutes inextinguishable rage is fueled by the agonizing bride-burnings of India. Their relentless, single-minded hatred flows from the remorseless murders of 5000 women a year in 'honor killings'. And their venom glands brim with the contempt of ceaseless, brazen attempts at seizing women reproductive rights in the U.S with over 460 bills aimed at that goal alone.

From the tears that wet the sun-bleached bones of the murdered daughters of Juarez, to the final breaths of thousands of unwanted infant girls, Brutes are the monstrous spawns of Misogyny, Oppression, and Femicide.

Illustration By: Chenthooran Nambiarooran
Appearing as disturbing mixtures of exaggerated masculine and feminine features tragically fused together in dissonance, all Brutes are nearly 7ft tall, imposing beasts of overgrown muscle. Their skin is covered by a natural pattern mimicking large old and fresh bruises. The heads and faces of these Manifestations resembles that of a severely physically abused woman, with both black eyes swollen shut, and the lips split down the middle.

However, like a majority of things in Purgatory, this is all a deception mirroring real tragedies that have given it life. These swollen eyes and bloody tears are in actuality a pair of over-brimming poison glands. While what looks like an injury to the lips hints at concealed, vertically opening jaws and razor-teeth lined mandibles.

Visible beneath the skin, are a pair of abnormally long arms sprouting from between the Brutes massive shoulders, hugging around its ribs, and running up the center of the chest, where they end as hands grasped around the neck. Anytime these Manifestations spray their black-red venom at a target, the hands violently strangles them causing a terrible choking sound as it concentrates the stream.

Mere seconds after contact with a target's skin, this venom causes symptoms similar to that of hemophilia, resulting not only in profuse bleeding from even small cuts, but also painful bruising from the slightest impact.

All Brutes are blind, solitary predators that rely on a form of echolocation to hunt. This sound mimics that of a woman's sobbing as they traverse the urban wilderness. Upon detecting prey, attacking, or pursing their screams change into an unnerving, simultaneous split between that of a mournful woman and enraged man.

Brutes are monstrously strong, with hands not only large enough to easily clasp around an adult's head, but also the strength to easily crush skulls. Their harden, ridged knuckles serve not only to make their punches especially dangerous, but also aids in their very minimalist hunting style of smashing through any structure that comes between them and prey.

With an excellent sense of hearing and smell, Brutes tend to simply charge targets, before bringing them down with a brutal tackle, whereupon, they will immediately resort to strangling, punching, slamming, or stomping prey until it is dead.

Perhaps, most disturbing of all, is the behavior exhibited by Brutes upon detecting a female Lost Soul, which causes them to instantly enter a berserk state that increases both their strength and blood lust. During this state they will make every attempt to reach the source of their hatred, destroying any and everything in their path, so they may devour her.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Removal of my Novels from Amazon and KDP Dispute

It is with deep disappointment that I must regretfully announce my books 'A Violent Lament' and 'The Languishing Bay' will no longer be available for sale on Amazon. This is a shame because I deeply appreciated the platform the company provided indie authors like myself who often produced literary experiments that might have had otherwise never found a way out to readers.

This unfortunate but also unavoidable decision was reached after careful consideration resulting from an ongoing dispute between myself and KDP. The protracted incident in question began in late 2016, continued throughout 2017, and onward into early 2018, in which I repeatedly attempted to negotiate with Amazon's KDP customer service department concerning funds owed to me due to books sold on Amazon. Unfortunately, nothing was accomplished throughout this lengthy attempt at communication and the process was further hampered by repeated issues. These problems include but are not limited to;

1. Repeatedly dealing with a changing number of representatives who would not only claim they would investigate the matter but also promised to get back to me on a specific date with more information only to never return.

2. Having to constantly re-initiate contact with these same KDP representatives after long lapses in communication, whereupon I would not only learn there was absolutely no new information, but I was also essentially starting over by having to once again re-inform the representative as to what the issue was and then provide all the information once again.

3. Continuously receiving conflicting, confusing, and erroneous information in multiple emails regardless of how many times it was corrected with an earlier representative.


4. Later, as it seemed perhaps KDP was finally making the protracted issue a priority, I was told on more than one occasion that I was being assigned a single representative to make both the investigation and communication easier. Except, barely one email later I would find myself speaking to yet a new representative and this meant starting all over again.

While the amount agreed upon between KDP, and myself, logically does not warrant a potential lawsuit as it would most likely not cover the fee to hire an attorney, the principal of the matter remains; after nearly 2 years of patiently and politely attempting to resolve this grievance, through perpetually missed deadlines, broken promises, and unprofessional customer service, an agreement was finally reached between us. Then the information was once again changed and KDP went back on said agreement. I provide this information as a word of caution to other writers and authors.


Below are the earliest corresponding emails I was able to locate and organize into chronological order. Unfortunately, I have yet to locate 2016's emails or they may have been deleted. Had I known it would come to this I would have made a better attempt at preserving every exchange and correspondence. 
----
(1) May or Early June 2017 – Williams to KDP

Subject: Possible Issues

Good Morning,
I am writing because I am confused by Amazon Kindle's payment information. The historical information says that my books have earned $430 in royalties but I have not received any notifications or payments since 2014. Am I reading this information right?




2) June 19, 2017 KDP (Shruthi H) to Williams
From:Amazon.com
Sent: Monday, June 19, 2017 8:30:05 AM
To:angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello,
Thank you for contacting Kindle Direct Publishing.
We'll need a little time to look into this.
I've reached out to our technical team to investigate this issue.
We'll contact you with more information by the end of the day on June 23, 2017.

Thanks for your patience.

Regards,

Shruthi H
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com




(3) June 24th Williams to KDP
Good Afternoon and thank you for reaching out so quickly.
I was curious to know if you were still looking into the matter I emailed KDP about a few days ago. I was told I would be informed of new information on the 23rd but never heard back.

(3) June 25, 2017 KDP (Nadia G.) to Williams
Sent: Sunday, June 25, 2017 5:40:04 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello Walter,
Thank you for reaching out to us.
I've had a look at your account and I see my colleague Shruthi is currently working on resolving your concerns.
It's taking longer than usual to resolve this, and I'm very sorry about the delay.
We'll reach out to you again with another update as soon as possible.
Walter, we thank you for your continued patience.

Regards,
Nadia G.
July 18, 2017 Williams to KDP
From: Walter Williams <angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 5:49:08 PM
To:
kdp-customersupport1+A3GLH8KWJ4JUV2@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Good Afternoon

It has been over a month since my original inquiry but have still have yet to hear anything back. Has any new details been discovered?

September 23, 2017 Williams to KDP

From: Walter Williams <angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, September 3, 2017 12:47:01 AM
To:
kdp-customersupport1+A1WP0CSD2XV3VS@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Good Afternoon,

I originally made an inquiry to a possible issue, now 3 months ago, and was told a month into my original inquiry that I would soon receive an update or answer to my question but have received no information since then. Has there been any new updates? Or information I should be made aware of?

Date? Williams to KDP

Subject: Still Waiting for an Answer

I wrote asking questions about book royalties over 5 months ago, and was told to be patience several times before the person I was speaking to simply vanished with no more information or answers. This is the last reply that I received in my email:
------
Hello Walter,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

I've had a look at your account and I see my colleague Shruthi is currently working on resolving your concerns.
It's taking longer than usual to resolve this, and I'm very sorry about the delay.

We'll reach out to you again with another update as soon as possible.

Walter, we thank you for your continued patience.

Regards,

Nadia G.
Kindle Direct Publishing
--------
I was writing to ask why does the kindle report says a overall royalty of $430.55 but I have only been paid $118.38? I would really appreciate if someone could answer my question this time as I had patiently waited for months of while constantly being reassured that someone was going to be right with me with the information before simply not responding at all.

December 10, 2017 KDP (Athen R) to Williams
From:Amazon.com<kdp-customersupport1@amazon.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 9:13:32 AM
To: 
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello Atma,

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

I am unsure why my colleague did not get back to you, regarding the investigation.

I need some time to look into this issue. I understand that, after the last experience, you may like to hear that.

However, I can assure you that it will get resolved this time.

Thank you for your patience. I will be in touch.

Regards,

Athen R
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com


December 12, 2017 Williams to KDP
From: Walter Williams <
angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:30:29 PM
To:
kdp-customersupport1+A3MLKF5292BZ55@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Thank you for your time and a timely response. It is appreciated. Do you know how long such am inquiry should take?



December 13, 2017 KDP (Karthikeyan SB) to Williams
From:Amazon.com<kdp-customersupport1@amazon.com>
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 8:35:45 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello Atma,

I'm sorry for the frustration caused.

I wanted to let you know that we're still researching the issue to provide you an update.

I've notified about your e-mail to my colleague. My colleague will be in touch with you again with an update as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience in this case.

Regards,

Karthikeyan SB
Kindle Direct Publishing

Date the 20th or 21st or Williams to KDP
Original Message
I was told over a week ago there would be an actual update to my inquiry but have not heard back. This has been the pattern for months as I have literally been asking the exact same question since last May. Each time someone tells me they are going to look into it, forward the message to their colleague, or find answers, then I hear less and less until no one responds any further. This is incredibly frustrating as I have been shown a great deal of patience over this extended time but the issue has yet to be resolved no matter how many times I email or call. I am going to try this diplomatic approach one more time and explain the situation as clearly as possible.

To date I have been paid on two separate occasions. $**** on July, 30 2014. And again $**** on Sept 18th, 2014. However, the overall Royalties Earned information section the total earned is $430.55 to date. I have explained this since May and each time someone say they will look into it then I never hear back.

Also in the exact same issue concerning payments, I have discussed with two of your representatives I cannot receive a direct deposit because I have an SSI account that does not allow outside direct deposits.

December 22, 2017 KDP (Dennis B.) to Williams
Sent: Friday, December 22, 2017 2:23:52 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello Atma,

I am very sorry that this issue is taking so long.

I have personally contacted my colleague that is working on your issue, because unfortunately I am unable to see the necessary information.

My colleague assured me that she will contact you by today.

Once again, I'm very sorry for how long this is taking.

Happy Holidays and thanks again for your patience.

Regards,

Dennis B.
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com
Date Jan 1 Williams to KDP
Good Morning,
Has there been any new discoveries or updates to my current inquiry?

January 2, 2018 KDP (Sai) to Williams
Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:29 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Message From Customer Service

Hello,

I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

I've researched this issue and see that my colleague is still waiting for an update from our reports team.

I see that they've already started the investigation from their end. It's taking longer than usual to resolve this, and I'm very sorry about the delay.

I've requested our reports team to expedite the process.

Rest assured, my colleague will reach out to you with an update as soon as possible.

Thanks for your continued patience.

Best regards,
Sai



January 16, 2018 Williams to KDP 
From: Walter Williams <angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 7:02:57 PM
To:
kdp-customersupport1+A11NKQUNKMT66N@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Has there been any new information or updates concerning the on going issue? The last time I heard anything was Jan 2nd. This has been an on going pattern since last May.



January 17, 2018 KDP (Panjarathinam) to Williams
From:Amazon.com<kdp-customersupport1@amazon.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 5:53:52 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello,

I am extremely sorry for any frustration this issue has caused.

I understand that your royalty payment from
Amazon.com has not been processed yet even though the historical reports show that 430.55 USD has accrued in your KDP account. Historical reports allow you to view your sales, royalties, and KU/KOLL data up to the month of the most recently released Prior Months' Royalty report. So these reports show information regarding sales right from the month your account has been created.

I checked the records and could see that you get paid through check. Your current KDP royalty details are:
Amazon.comKindle Store - 69.83 USDAmazon.co.uk Kindle Store - 13.96 GBPAmazon.com.au Kindle Shop - 0.35 AUDAmazon.ca Kindle Shop - 4.79 CAD

We pay royalties for each marketplace approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month in which your royalties meet the payment threshold. Royalties accrue on your account until the total amount in each marketplace has reached the minimum threshold.

The current minimum payment threshold is 100 USD for the check payments . In this case, you have not met the threshold. Further details regarding payment thresholds can be found here:
https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AE24XS35AM53P

I checked further and could see that the outstanding royalty payment that needs to be paid from
Amazon.com is 69.83 USD and not 430.55 USD. This is because it includes previous payments that you have already received. Checks with the numbers ***793, ****2221, ***7928, ***8211 have already been received and en-cashed at your end. These amount to 360.75 USD.

In June 2014 we had a technical issue that resulted in checks being processed regardless of the payout amount. That is why you received a payment for 2.24 USD in June 2014.

As the threshold has not been reached, Royalties will have to accrue on your account until the total amount in each marketplace has reached the minimum threshold.

I hope that the information I provided you was helpful.

Have a nice day.

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,

Hariharan Panjarathinam
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com
Note: Fair enough. If they claim the amount was not actually $430. But that still left $147 unaccounted for. At this point I disagreed that I had been mailed some payments as records simply do not reflect this. However, I am absolutely sick of debating, repeating, and starting this conversation over. I move on.
January 17, 2018 Williams to KDP
From: Walter Williams <angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 3:01:35 PM
To:
kdp-customersupport1+A8BWWVMZHRMWF@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Thank you for getting back to me as, as I had explained previously, it has taken over a year to get any answer. If I could trouble you further, can I have a copy, or could you direct me to where I could find these checks on my site? These payments are not showing up on my listings no matter how hard I search. I keep getting this.


**793 Jun 01, 2014 – Jun 30, 2014 USD Paid

**393 Jun 01 2014 – Jun 30, 2014 USD Failed

***2221 Mar 01 2014 – March 31 USD Paid

****8136 Aug 01 2013 – Aug 31, 2013 GBP failed

But there is no more information then this. I am unable to find the other checks mentioned in the email.
January 19, KDP (Luis Z.) to Williams
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2018 8:49:52 AM
To: 
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello,

I'm contacting to follow up with you regarding the payments on your account, I hope you are doing great.

I'm glad to let you know that after contacting the account payable team, they explained that there were payments sent to your account as check that due to the time that they were paid, are not showing in your payments reports.

Those are payments made on 2012, 2013 and 2014, keep in mind that the platform has been changing from time to time so those payments are not being showed in the reports, they actually provided the information of the payments:

1. 31-Jul-12 on
Amazon.com with check number ***211 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled which means that it was cashed.2. 30-Apr-13 on Amazon.com with check number ***7928 and the amount $147.00, the status is Negotiable which means that it wasn't cashed, we can void it and re issue it.
3. 30-Jul-14 on
Amazon.com with check number ***2221 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled.
4. 18-Set-14 on
Amazon.com with check number ***793 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled.You can confirm your address in your account and we will be able to re send the payment ***7928 to the new address.

We look forward hearing from you soon.

Thanks for using KDP, have a lovely weekend.

Regards,

Luis Z.
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com

January 20, 2018 Williams to KDP
From: Walter Williams <angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2018 4:00:58 AM
To: 
kdp-customersupport1+A3I83XRXXXN5UN@amazon.com
Subject: Re: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Thank you for your help and the updated information. It is certainly appreciated, Luis.

The given address on my profile is the same but was updated to be safe.
Comments: Happy ending, right? We finally resolved this exhaustive issue after constantly restarting, missing deadlines, breaking promises, and suffering through many other issues. No, not a chance. Even after our agreement nothing happened. So after waiting for a while I once again contacted KDP.
March 7, 2018 Williams to KDP
EMAIL: angelsaber@hotmail.com
DATE: 03/07/18 21:22:07 PST
COMMENTS: I have been attempting to resolve a payment issue for well over a year now.

March 8, 2018 KDP (Shenieka S.)
Sent: Thursday, March 8, 2018 11:35 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com<mailto:angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry

Hello Walter,

I apologize for how long it has taken us to solve this issue. I understand, you're inquiring about your check payment for April 2013.
I researched your payment and found that we issued a check for April 2013 for sales in the amount of $101.08 on 4/30/2013.

We cannot reissue this payment as it has already cleared the bank and cashed.
I recommend contacting your bank and checking for any deposits made on that day.
Bank ID:*****0248
Check # ****7928


I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

Regards,

Shenieka S.
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com
Note:
Now, this is where I begin to grow impatient for many reasons. But the main factor is this, this is LITERALLY the beginning of the conversation again. This is almost exactly where we began in 2016. I was repeatedly given numbers of checks said to be cashed or deposited, and no less than 2 to 3 times. No matter how many times KDP was told this, no matter how many time it was explained, nothing ever came of the conversation except asking me to call a bank with yet another check number that requires sitting on the phone for forever with an understandably begrudging customer service representative.
Date March 9 Williams to KDP
No. No this has not been remotely helpful in the least. Frankly, this is the exact same issue I have encountered for over a year despite trying to continue work through this. This is the information I was given last:
-----
Fri 1/19
Hello,

I'm contacting to follow up with you regarding the payments on your account, I hope you are doing great.

I'm glad to let you know that after contacting the account payable team, they explained that there were payments sent to your account as check that due to the time that they were paid, are not showing in your payments reports.

Those are payments made on 2012, 2013 and 2014, keep in mind that the platform has been changing from time to time so those payments are not being showed in the reports, they actually provided the information of the payments:

1. 31-Jul-12 on
Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> with check number ***8211 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled which means that it was cashed.2. 30-Apr-13 on Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> with check number ***7928 and the amount $147.00, the status is Negotiable which means that it wasn't cashed, we can void it and re issue it.
3. 30-Jul-14 on
Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> with check number ***2221 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled.
4. 18-Set-14 on
Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> with check number ***793 and the amount $****, the status is Reconciled.

You can confirm your address in your account and we will be able to re send the payment 5087928 to the new address.

We look forward hearing from you soon.

Thanks for using KDP, have a lovely weekend.
---
Now, KDP has once again changed the information and the amount. Why does this keep happening? Your team has been doing this for over a year. I am constantly told someone will get back to me then no one ever does. I am told someone will give me more information, and no one does. I have to constantly email and call to remind anyone at your team that this is an ongoing issue an each time the info changes or we have to start over. I am not calling the bank again. I am not starting this process over. I was told to update my info and I would receive what I owed. How has this changed in less than two months? And again in that two months no one contacted again despite saying they would.

Why is your information now conflicting with the information of the last info I was given? Check
***7928 is not for $101, as clearly stated in the last email, and it was to be mailed out long ago.



March 9, 2018 KDP (Miranda Shelby) to Williams
From: kdp-support@amazon.com<mailto:kdp-support@amazon.com> <kdp-support@amazon.com<mailto:kdp-support@amazon.com>>
Sent: Friday, March 9, 2018 11:51:37 AM
To:
angelsaber@hotmail.com<mailto:angelsaber@hotmail.com>
Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing - Customer Relations

Message From Customer Service

Hello,

My name is Miranda Shelby with Amazon KDP Customer Relations. Your previous interactions with KDP Customer Service have been brought to my attention in regarding a payment discrepancy. I will be taking over your case, going forward.

I would like to find out more about the discrepancy you are seeing to further investigate and resolve this situation as soon as possible. Please provide me with the best phone number and time of day to reach you. My normal office hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. PST.

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Miranda Shelby

Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.



March 9, 2018 Williams to KDP
Sent: Friday, March 9, 2018 5:57:18 PM
To: 
kdp-support+A13P21CUHIQZ89@amazon.com<mailto:kdp-support+A13P21CUHIQZ89@amazon.com>
Subject: Re: Kindle Direct Publishing - Customer Relations

Good Afternoon, Ms. Shelby. First, I would like to state my current level of frustration and anger is not directed towards you as I realize you are new to this situation. My anger is towards KDP Services. I fail to see how one more conversation is going to change this ongoing problem since I have been doing this exact same thing beginning well before June of 2017.

In every instance, but one, when I have been told I would receive an update by email or a phone call, days or even weeks pass with such promises failing to materialize until I reach out again. And on several occasions when I have been forced to reach out again the entire process starts over as if they never heard of me or as if I am asking for the first time.

In the email before the last a representative asked me to update my information because my problem had been resolved and I was going to receive a check. That was in January. I heard absolutely nothing again so I reached out last week asking of I was still going to receive a check, only to be told to wait until the 6th for an update. Again nothing happened. I reached again on the 8th to be told the check was sent years ago.

But the EXACT problem is we are starting all over again as this last representative stated the wrong date and amount. The exact same date and amount that was discovered to be an error at the very start of the inquiry.

This no longer just about money, Ms. Shelby. Had it been resolved even in January, I could have just chalked this up as clerical errors or poor customer service. But this gross lack of communication, the constant promises of offering more information and then never emailing or calling back, this endless run-around, and being repeatedly treated in this unacceptable manner for months only because I made a simply inquiry about a missed payment is bordering disdain and contempt.

I have talked and talked. I have been in numerous email exchanges. I forward emails only to have them ignored. I have given information time and time again.


March 10, 2018 KDP (Andrew Heliberg) to Williams
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2018 1:06:30 PM
To: 
angelsaber@hotmail.com
Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing - Customer Relations

Message From Customer Service

Hello,

My name is Andrew Hellberg with KDP Customer Relations; replying on behalf of Miranda who is currently out of the office. Is there a time and number for us to give you a call? We truly believe your concerns would be best addressed over the phone, and we can accommodate a callback for you to go over this. Please allow 24 hours from the moment you reply for one of our team to give you a call.

Best regards,
Andrew Hellberg

Final Note: If you have made it this far, than I thank you for coming on this inane, rambling, and often confusing journey with me. As I stated near the opening of this essay/letter, the amount is simply not worth legal action. And the purpose is not to convince anyone to boycott Amazon. I do present this story, however, as a word of caution to authors dealing with KDP or those considering publishing on Amazon.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

Manifestation Profile: The Dires

By Vincent Van Hoof 
Dires: The Rabid Hounds of Corruption

Society is governed by laws. These rules are meant to act as bindings that ensure chaos never breaks free to lay waste upon all that people built and accomplished. However, such rules require a force capable of extending their existence beyond the mere elegant words written on parchment.

This falls upon the women and men of law enforcement to carry out this demanding and potentially dangerous duty. Their badge is a symbol of the granted authority to judge when it is necessary to give orders, intervene with force, detain for questioning, or even kill if a situation escalates to lethal violence.

It is no secret that power can twist the thoughts, motivations and goals of even the noblest of souls. Unfortunately, there is no automatic immunity from corruption even when it comes to those who enforce the law.

Worse, sometimes laws are created by the unjust. Over and over again, as evidenced by headlines, news stories and the video recordings by bystanders, two themes appear to run through these tragedies of official corruption: harmatia and hubris.

The first, harmatia, or a “tragic flaw of character." This is seen in those men and women who somehow manage to join law enforcement in spite of a terrible personality flaw that could never lend itself well to performing the vital duties of an officer.

These flaws can include harboring racist beliefs, having anger management issues, possessing a bully mentality, displaying chronic dishonesty, or some other extremely anti-social trait. These individuals have joined the force for some reason other than serving their community and each is just a poor judgment call waiting to occur.

The second is hubris. This occurs when individuals overestimate their capabilities and importance allowing past successes, or the authority of their station to lead them into making a foolish mistake they would otherwise have been able to avoid.

This can result in police officers arriving at the ill-conceived conclusion that their duties automatically entitle them to some sort of fringe benefits in the form of extra privileges, or worse, lead them to believe they are exempt from the very laws they took an oath to uphold.

In worse-case scenarios, this corruption spreads from just a small number of officers until it infects the very culture of an entire police department. Deluding these men and women into viewing themselves less and less as peacekeepers, and more as some sort of “warrior's lodge,” fighting a war. This mindset creates would-be avengers, misplaced soldiers, or just uniformed thugs.

Regardless of how the degeneracy occurs; from the Rampart Scandal, the so-called Oakland Riders, the 39th District Corruption Scandal, the Miami River Police Scandal, to Puerto Rico where over 1,700(6) officers were arrested for massive corruption. Such shameful displays always result in far reaching consequences, ultimately eroding essential public trust, and harming the overall legitimacy of police work as a whole in the eyes of the community.

Many citizens readily take solace in the belief that there are more “good” cops than “bad” ones. Perhaps, there is some truth to this optimism. Yet, if such hopes are genuine, one must ask “why are there not more bad officers being turned in by the good ones?”. In the end, a lie of omission is still a lie. In much the same way inaction when witnessing injustice is supporting it.

By Ashley Atkins
Every officer who degenerates into an oath-breaker by surrendering to the loathsome temptations of accepting bribes, falsifying reports, planting evidence, callously using excessive force, or any other number of criminal activities, unleashes roaming packs of Dires: the Manifestations of Police Brutality and Corruption.

Equal in size to large wolves, these Manifestations appearances is best described as if some malevolent power cruelly fused the base templates of Humans and Hyenas together, then sculpted that mixture into a four-legged abomination. Dires’ stout torsos are muscular, with broad chests and lean forelegs, while their backs partially slop downward to powerful hindquarters, equipped with a long, serpent-like tail.

Wild, wiry hair covers only the top of Dires’ heads, backs and tails, with the rest of their body resembling hairless, onyx or alabaster human skin. Both their head and faces strongly resemble either men or women, but are always offset by long, pointed ears, and an exaggerated snout full of thick canines. The wide, opaque eyes of Dires are always lit by an inner glow.

On both sides of these Manifestations' bodies, from the neck to the hindquarters, there are abstract, luminescent patterns of vivid red and blue. When aggravated, in pursuit of prey, or attacking, these patterns brighten and begin rapidly flashing.

Dires always roam in packs, never fewer than four, but rarely more than ten. While on the hunt, if a single Dire spots prey or a threat, it will instantly alert the rest of the pack by releasing a powerful warning. A distorted sound between a wolf's howl and an air raid siren.

Dires coordinate and strategize with a series of sounds that resemble a combination of radio static and incomprehensible whispers. This form of communication extends to a sort of shared telepathy among all the members of the pack, keeping each member aware of the others’ movements and able to quickly change tactics even when separated by short distances.

All Dires have a number of organic weapons to bring down enemies and prey alike. These abilities ranges from the ability to unleash intensely, strobe-like flashes from their eyes, releasing a misty cloud of CO2 from concealed slits running along their back, to discharging a painful electric shock from a pair of barbs at the end of their tail. But the most dangerous Dires are those able to fire bullet-like projectiles from their tails.

All Dires can possess any of the above abilities, but none of them ever has more than one, making pack tactics a vital part of their success when it comes to a hunt. These Manifestations cannot attack any Lost Soul who once had ties to law enforcement during their life, unless they are first provoked by being attacked.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hide & Go Murder!

So, I hung with two different groups of kids growing up. The second group, down the block and around the corner. We all lurked around this 2 story apartment complex. It was the place we conducted all our games, experiments, and other manner of ill-advised ideas.

One game in particular-- which I would like to inform you fair ladies and gents, I was, and still am the extremely proud inventor of-- was this version of “Hide & Seek” that we all called “Jason”, as in the homicidal, undead, sex-hating, murder-machine from the Friday the 13th movie franchise. You see, “Jason” had all the same basic rules as the original game, but through the miracle of modern science we also successfully incorporated a plastic meat cleaver, and old Jason Voorhees mask, that I had left over from a previous Halloween.

The kid who was “It”, had to wear the mask, and tag out runners before they reached the safety of the the apartment's front steps. But the rules were that Jason had to touch you with the actual meat cleaver to tag you out, which was considered a “kill”. For even more demented fun, anytime someone was tagged out, they had to scream like they had just been murdered. Just imagine how much all the parents, and other adults of the neighborhood probably loved, and appreciated our theatrical death cries.

Did I forget to mention we only played this game during the evenings? We did this because we wanted our games to have the same sophisticated, and nuanced atmosphere of the movies.

So this one time, Jermaine’s older brother, Shawn-- who was obviously bored out of his mind-- came out to watch a couple of rounds of “Jason”. He thought it was all pretty funny. Imagine our awed shock when he, who was 17 years old, offered to join in with us mostly 4th and 5th graders. But he said he would only do so if he could play the killer. We all eagerly agreed. Now, looking back, I do not think it ever remotely occurred to any of us that Shawn was bigger, faster, stronger, coincidentally wearing all black, and could most likely swing a pretty mean pretend meat cleaver.

So, on that particularly clear summer night, the games commenced in all its creepy glory. Perhaps because he was in a particularly magnanimous mood, Shawn decided to extend the normal 10 seconds count to 20. Everyone bolted in every direction,

I had not been hiding long before I heard the first victim's scream. After hearing a second, and then third unfortunate recipient of a meat cleaver to the extremities, and/or sternum, I carefully crept from behind the bushes in hopes of reaching the safety zone. Just before I was going to take my chances, I heard running coming from around the corner behind me.

I quickly ducked and rolled under a nearby car. Lying there on my stomach, I watched Jason creep by in search of more victims. Only after I was certain it was as clear as it was going to get, I crawled from under the vehicle, and hurried off in the opposite direction to the apartment's backyard.

There were two ways to enter the backyard. The actual entrance, a wooden gate at the front of the apartments, near the community parking area. And the other was by way of a single, missing plank that left a small gap in the tall, wooden fence at the rear of the property. My only safe option was the latter. I was surprised to find 5 out of the 9 other boys all hiding there.

Another scream from somewhere nearby signaled the end of another victim, and then silence. The killer was lurking somewhere out there and we had no idea where. The last survivors, and I, split our surveillance between watching the hole in the fence, and the front entrance at the start of the long straightaway nestled between the apartment, and neighboring house.

Did anyone see him?” The first boy asked.

No.” The second replied nervously.

We should just make a break for it!” A third chimed in.

But which way?” The first asked.

If we all run it won't matter!” The third reasoned.

No! He's super fast! He could kill everyone!” The second warned.

Indecision kept us all rooted back there. On one hand we all could have made a desperate sprint for the safe zone, but Jason could have been waiting to ambush us. On the other, we could have made the classic-- and might I add tactically sound-- choice often demonstrated in many of horror films, and split up to take our individual chances of sneaking to safety. Then the choice was made for us when Jason suddenly came barreling down the straightaway with his cleaver held at ready.

Oh shit!” One of the boys yelled before we all rushed for the hole in the fence. Unfortunately, one of the “heavier” boys attempted to go through the makeshift exit first, and promptly clogged it with his wedged bulk. In a mixture of excited laughter and nervous screams we began trying to save the heavier kid, and ourselves, by attempting to force him the rest of the way through.

He's going to kill us all!” Someone exclaimed.

We’re all going to die, you fat bastard!” Another yelled.

Shit! He's almost here! He's almost here!” A third warned over, and over.

Jermaine, and I, exchanged a look, then as if the plan was agreed upon on some telepathic level, we both jumped at the same time, grabbed a top of the fence, and scurried over it just as Jason arrived to begin slaughtering all the others. In true horror movie fashion we ran for safety without looking back.