IML_42 t1_jdxx6xk wrote

Hey! Thank you for this well considered feedback. It really is greatly appreciated.

As it relates to dialogue tags, I actually prefer that they blend into the background unless I really want to add emphasis (as you pointed out).

Generally speaking the tags are there first and foremost to provide clarity for the reader. For that reason I don’t mind having the “Hal says” “Iso says” be repetitive because they are meant to fade away and allow readers to skip over them. I don’t like to get too cute with dialogue tags as I personally get taken out of the story when I read something like “Hal hissed/bellowed/squealed” as those things often don’t adequately describe vocalizations made by a real person.

Regardless, I greatly appreciate this dialogue and you taking the time to provide feedback. Thank you!


IML_42 t1_jdxv9mb wrote

“I thought they’d never leave, bro,” says Jesus as he takes a swig of wine from a Nalgene water bottle.

“They were certainly persistent, my dude,” I say as I take a seat on the couch beside him. “Hey pass the Cheetos would ya?”

He tosses the bag of the orange mana from heaven into my lap.

“So who were they? Why were they looking for you?” I ask. “I’ve never had those types give me the third-degree like that before.”

“Oh my dad likes to keep tabs on me,” he replies. “He wants to be sure I’m being productive down here, you know, not wasting my time drinking wine and eating Cheetos,” he says with a wink.

“Come on, man,” I reply. “Be serious.”

“I am, I am,” he says showing his palms for mercy. “Look, it’s really nothing. I just—I don’t like to talk about it. Now can we drop it and just chill, dude?”

“Yeah, ok,” I say. “I get it. My family stuff is weird too. Just know that if you want to talk I’m here for—“

“Ah crap!” He interrupts. “Get down. Now!”

He dives across the couch and covers my body with his just as a bomb goes off in the kitchen.

“What the fuck?” I scream.

“Language!” he yells back. “They found me. We gotta go. Now. Go get your go-bag,” he says as he digs under my couch and pulls out a fully loaded backpack.

“Go-bag?” I reply, “what the hell? Who keeps a go-bag?”

“Someone who’s prepared,” he says as he lifts me to my feet. He roots around under the couch some more and pulls out a flack jacket. He puts the flack jacket on me and tightens the straps snug like a dad would secure a life jacket on a little kid.

“What the hell is happening?” I ask again.

“Would you watch your mouth?” he replies. “There’s no time to explain. We gotta get the heck outta—“

I hear a slam in the kitchen. The back door’s been kicked in. Gun fire erupts and the living room is filled with flying feathers as down pillows explode and the couch is torn to shreds. Thankfully, Jesus knocks me to the ground before I explode like the pillows.

“Crawl!” He commands.

I crawl army style toward the front door. As I approach the entry way I hear a hard knock against the door.

“Shoot,” says Jesus, “they’re trying to bust down the door. Hold on.”

Jesus grabs his Nalgene of wine and readies himself in a crouch before the entry way.




After the third slam the door flies open, three men in white shirts and black ties—the same who had come and inquired after Jesus—burst in with guns drawn.

Jesus unscrews the lid to his Nalgene and throws it onto their pristine white shirts.

“Yeah, that’ll teach them,” I think to myself.

The men scream in agony. Their skin hisses and burns, it melts and begins to slough off onto the tile with a sickening splat.

“What the hell?” I say again.

“Holy water,” says Jesus matter of factly. “Works every time. Let’s go,” he says as he waves me on.

We exit the house and break into a dead sprint. Jesus is quick, nimble on his feet, his gear flies freely in the wind. I sneak a glance at his face and I notice he’s…smiling? He looks like he’s having the time of his life.

We get to the street and I hear a salvo of explosions erupt behind us.

“Don’t look back!” he commands. “Just keep running.”

I hear bullets whizz by my head, I try to shimmy myself downward into my flack jacket—I wish he’d have given me a helmet. Soon the bullets subside and we get about three blocks away. Jesus pauses and looks behind us.

“It’s ok,” he says. He’s notably not out of breath in the slightest. “We can take a break. They’re not following.”

“What in God’s name was that all about?” I ask again.

“Oh, that? Like I said, my dad likes to keep tabs on me,” he says. “You know, wants to make sure I’m staying sharp for the war ahead.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I ask. “I could have died! And my house! Why did you have a go-bag in my house? Oh and my couch—“

I am interrupted by a deafening explosion, much larger and louder than the original explosion that kicked off this nightmare. I turn around to see a mushroom cloud rising from my house. Or rather, what used to be my house.

“Jesus Christ!” I scream.


“They blew up my house. What the hell, Jesus? You let them blow up my house for…for a god damn test?”

“You’re really a potty-mouth today, dude. And don’t worry about the house,” he says waving me off. “Take it from me, you can’t take it with you. Now let’s get to moving. You don’t want to be caught out in the open for this next part.”

“Next part?” I ask not wanting the answer.

“Yeah, the angels are going to blot out the sky with their arrows,” he says. “It’s actually pretty bad ass.”




IML_42 t1_jdwk779 wrote

My boss is an asshole—bossy and domineering. My boss is unfair, overly critical. Nothing is ever good enough for my boss. My boss never cuts me slack; my boss is more gentle with my co-workers than he is with me. My boss is more kind to my co-workers than he is to me.

My boss is discriminatory.

My boss doesn’t like me—I don’t like my boss. Why would I? My boss has unattainable expectations. My boss demands too much. My boss is easily disappointed. My boss is punitive bordering on cruel.

My boss is cruel.

My boss tells me that I’m not good enough—I try to ignore him. My boss knows my insecurities, my boss leverages my insecurities against me. My boss sabotages my success. My boss tells me that no one likes me.

My boss knows that no one likes me.

My boss doesn’t let me rest—I work day and night. My boss doesn’t believe in PTO, my boss doesn’t believe in sick days. My boss takes no time off, why should I? My boss wants me to always be online, my boss wants me to always be connected. My boss believes that hard work builds character. My boss tears me down to build me back up.

My boss forgets to build me back up.

My boss thinks I’m a loser—I think my boss is right. My boss says I should quit, I’ll never be good enough for my boss. My pushes me past my limits. My boss knows my limits. My boss knows I will not find success.

My boss knows my potential.

I tried to quit—to find a new job. My boss found me instead. My boss is relentless, my boss doesn’t sleep. My boss will always find me, my boss will always know me, my boss will always own me.

My boss will always be me.



IML_42 t1_jdw7oi1 wrote


IML_42 t1_jdt9abp wrote

“God damnit,” is the last thing Hal hears before he begins to cast against the vault.

A slurry of words fall from Hal’s mouth with fury and vigor. If good magic was where intention and practice met, then Hal’s magic was at the intersection intention and passion. He cast against the vault door as if his life depended upon it.

And it did.

“Open sesame!” He screams. “Entrado a now-o,” he cries.

He waves a straight arm wildly through the air like a sword, casting behind it a cross-pocked afterimage of glowing red. He extends a palm toward the glowing shapes and says, “Fucking open, you god damned door!”

As his spell meets the magical defenses of the door, it erupts into a fire of white and red lightning, the spell roars and rages against the defense set by a mage of greater study, but lesser ability.

The door crumbles into a million pieces before him.

Iso opens his eyes to the mess before him. He looks up at Hal. He already knows what’s happened but, being the prudent mage that he is, confirms his suspicions.

“You get impatient and just blow up the door?” he asks mundanely.

“Er—yeah, but I mean I had to. There’s—“

“You think about the fact that you probably just destroyed the Book of the Damned inside?” interrupts Iso.

“Well, not exactly. I—“

“We’re so fucked,” says Iso.

“Look, the Kantaban guard is right outside the door and I had to act,” says Hal. “We didn’t have time to do this the right way. We needed results and you bet your sweet ass I got the results.”

Iso rises from his seated position and begins laughing. Hal is taken aback by this reaction. He’d never seen Iso laugh before. Iso puts a hand on Hal’s shoulder and looks him in the eye.

“Kowabunga,” he says simply.

“What?” says Hal confused.

“You really casted a spell with ‘Kowabunga’, dude,” he replies shaking his head. “You’re something else, you know that?”

“Look, Iso, my spell isn’t going to hold them out there much longer. Can we figure out how to get the hell out of here and debrief of my spell choices later?”

“Let’s see what’s left of the book and then you can blast a hole in that there wall so we can make our escape,” says Iso.

The Book of the Damned is badly burnt but not beyond repair. Iso’s mood improves at the sight.


Try as they might, neither Hal nor Iso has any luck casting their way out of the vault.

“We’re fucked, Iso,” says Hal.

“Cast the spell you did to crumble the door, Hal,” says Iso, “surely it will work on the inner walls as well.”

“It doesn’t work that way for me,” says Hal. “I kinda just, feel it in the moment.”

“Well, you better feel it fast or we’re going to be feeling the pointy-end of a Kantaban Guard Rod,” says Iso gravely.

As if he summoned them, the guards break through Hal’s defense and enter the antechamber. Hal and Iso share a look.

They’ll have to cast their way out.

They are two powerful mages, but their odds of survival against upwards of ten Kantaban Guards are not good.

Hal turns to Iso. “The book. Throw it to me,” he says.

Iso looks at the Book of the Damned and back to Hal. He reluctantly tosses the book to Hal who catches it. Hal feels it’s power in his palms, he feels words flowing through his mind, whispering, rooting out mental corridors long-empty, burrowing their long-forgotten, ancient wisdom deep into the recesses of his mind.

In that moment, he understands the chaos at his finger tips.

Hal stares down the Kantaban guards and then closes his eyes. He says the first words that scream in his mind as if begging to be uttered.

“Ashes to ashes! Dust to Dust! Now you die, you must, you must,” he screams.

The Kantaban guards look around at one another, then down at their bodies.


They advance.

And then it happens.

The Kantaban guards slowly crumble into nothingness, first arms fall off and dissipate into ash on the white marble floors. Then heads and torsos dissolve into nothingness like water dissolving pillars of dust. Hal’s words had cleansed the room of any trace of the guards.

Soon the two mages stand alone in the now silent vault. Hal looks to Iso as if to confirm that that just happened.

Iso looks to Hal and smiles—another first for Hal. Iso approaches Hal and takes the Book of the Damned from him. He then puts a hand on Hal’s shoulder and finally speaks, eyebrows raised.




IML_42 t1_jdt943l wrote

Iso Mito, a great mage, sits cross-legged before a menacing vault. His hands move in practiced, precise formations, his finger tips glow faintly blue as his mind picks it’s way through the locked door. A bead of sweat gathers on his forehead and streams down his chin into his lap.

This is hard work.

He is given the most critical job—he’s the most tenured mage on the team, after all—the job of cracking the most expertly shielded vault in all of Kantaban. And the vault’s defenses are high for a reason, for within the vault sits the most closely coveted spells in all the land.

To get past the vault’s defenses requires the brightest magical mind, one intimately familiar with runic and intentional magic, one able to call upon an encyclopedic knowledge of defense spells and their associated counter spells.

A mind like Iso Mito’s.

In the room with Iso, defending his back, is Hal Miter, another mage. Hal’s leg bounces in anticipation, betraying his impatience with the process. He watches on as Iso continues on in a workman like manner.

“How is Iso progressing, Hal?” asks Fin Baker, group leader, through the ether. Hal hears Fin’s voice as his own within his mind.

“As best I can tell, he’s cracked the first runic guard but has yet to proceed to the second order defense. At this pace we’re going to get caught,” replies Hal silently.

“Patience, young one,” says Fin. “We have planned for this. We have time. You are there to provide protection and support. The rest of us have done our part. Iso should have all the time he needs.”

“Whatever you say,” says Hal.

To say that Hal is bored is an understatement. Fin often chides Hal for his lack of patience.

“Success should be hard fought, the result of tedious study and slavish devotion to the craft,” says Fin at any given one-on-one training session.

To which Hal inevitably replies, “Fuck that. I’m not going to be slavishly devoted to anything.”

Or Fin has been known to say, “Magic works best when treated as the intersection of intention and practice.”

To which Hal replies, “Nope. I don’t give a shit how it works. What I care about are results. And, oh baby, you bet your sweet ass I get results.”

So it was no surprise to Hal that he was given the least critical role for the mission. He was given Iso babysitting duty while the rest of the team worked hard to ensure that Hal’s role would not be needed.

“What a fun job,” thinks Hal to himself.

Was it Hal’s fault that magic came naturally to him? The rest of the group viewed him as dangerous, a loose cannon. To Hal’s mind that was simply because they were jealous of his gifts. Hal knew in his heart that he could open the vault more quickly and more effectively than Iso ever could.

Alas, he was not afforded the opportunity.

Hal hears footsteps in the corridor. That’s odd. No one had alerted him they were coming.

“Fin, I hear footsteps just outside our antechamber. You send reinforcements?” says Hal.

“Shit,” replies Fin. “It’s not one of us. Hal, you listen to me and you listen good, do not engage unless they do. We’re too close to blow this whole thing because you’re trigger-happy. You stay still and only engage if Iso’s life is in danger. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Fin,” says Hal petulantly.

“Hal, I mean it. Do. Not. Engage,” says Fin knowing fully well that his meticulously planned mission was about to go tits-up.

Hal turns to Iso, still seated before the vault door, fingers still pulsing a faint blue. Hal taps him on the shoulder to see if he’ll respond.


Hal knows better than to bother Iso while casting, but some part of him wants to warn Iso of what’s about to happen. He taps again.


The footsteps grow louder.

“Fuck it!” Curses Hal under his breath. “Bring it on, big boy.” Hal readies himself, his back to Iso. He spreads his legs wide and raises both hands in anticipation.

The footsteps have now paused just outside the door. The antechamber door creaks as it opens. Hal sees a flash of the crimson robes worn by the Kantaban guard. He knows he has no choice but to strike now.

As the door swings open Hal begins casting, unthinking and natural. He says words that mean nothing in his tongue but that carry with them the force of a magical codex.

“Kowabunga hang ha!” He cries aloud as a wave forms before him and swallows the Kantaban guard at the doorway. The force of the wave sends the guard tumbling down the corridor.

Hal just makes out another 5 guards wading through the now knee deep water. He’s bought some time, but not enough to allow Iso to crack the vault. He knows he has to act fast.

Hal scans the doorway and screams the first words that come to his mind. “Entranco no passo!” A black mass rises from the bottom of the doorway and slams against the top of the door jamb.

“That’ll hold them for maybe five minutes,” Hal says aloud.

“Hal, what the hell is happening down there?” says Fin.

“Kantaban Guards. A lot of them,” replies Hal. “I’ve sealed the door, but it won’t hold long. I need to help Iso get through the vault asap.”

“Do not interfere! For the love of all that is holy you do not interfere with Iso. The consequences could be catastrophic,” orders Fin.

“If I don’t do something both Iso and I are royally fucked, Fin,” replies Hal, “and I think you and I both know I don’t mean that metaphorically.”

“Hal, please, don’t do anything rash,” says Fin.

“Rash is my middle name,” says Hal as he turns to the vault.

Part two in the next comment. r/InMyLife42Archive