Mark Hurley

The author's professional portfolio and résumé.

Archive for July 2010

Orc Story Collection: Story 4

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(Illustration by my talented former colleague Britt Scott. Hire him post-haste.)

The League of Champions
Human Village of Adan, 912 HC (Written for Red Dust Studios)

Reta’s slash was hasty, and its force pulled her weight forward as the Brandless Orc parried easily. Still she had enough of a sense of honor not to let this outrage to nature kill her like this, even as she stumbled to her left gracelessly. She fell to a knee and threw her sword into a vertical blocking position, her enemy’s blow numbing her arm through the steel, but blocked nonetheless. She forced herself to stand, and fall back.

She cast off the cumbersome breastplate that kept her from bending comfortably at the midsection. She felt the heat of the waning sun on the intricate brands that covered her torso and announced for all the victories and honors she had earned as an Orc warrior. Unchien insisted they all wear his ridiculous plumage at the beginning of melees, but by the time only two stood, the crowd wanted blood, and nobody much cared how protected they were. The unmarked Orcs, the Brandless with no professional battle experience, had to leave it on, else the crowd catch on to Unchien’s dishonorable ruse. If the spectators saw that the Orc was unmarked, they would know he was specially bred on the premises, a tool of the slaver to rig the fights and personally profit from the gambling.

Reta was upon her opponent before the heavy armor stopped clattering on the stone floor of the arena.  She had the offensive from the beginning, raining blows on the decidedly Human shield and lobsterred gauntlet of the Brandless. He left her frustrated, hiding behind his defenses and tiring her out, the coward. She was breathing heavily, her bare chest heaving with the effort, her arms almost too sore to hold up her small round shield when he leapt upon her.

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Written by scumbagstyle

July 31, 2010 at 12:50 am

Posted in Fantasy

Churchyard Luck, Balls Deep

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Churchyard Luck, Balls Deep

Too often my limbs are expatriates.
My secrets around my ankles, I huff
And gracelessly shuffle in the fishnets
Of my fancy and impending infamy.

This morning the Elantra becomes an extension of my
Arm, plucking at the breast of Brooklyn
Pre-dawn with twin beaks of ravenous light and
Scabbing it all over with the whine of feathered alternator belts.

Under the brake pedal, Seamus the girl-cat
Rolls amber beads, attack pattern beta, until my
Sole shredded walking shoes connect with tail,
And she darts to ride shotgun in Silence’s lap.

Our children, Silence’s and mine, have been cats
Named after streets, love songs, and poets. But will no
Woman carry my sons, no skeleton of snow covered
Tree lumbering toward motherhood after so much denied existence?

Happily, Silence would drown today, in a cocktail
Of Vitamin C and menopause pills, as the radio jockey
Goes balls deep on Physical Graffiti, or lay her
head where Sylvia Plath sleeps out her blizzards, or

Better: Where Brian Wilson smiled to waste his weeks
And weeks. Childless, Silence will never build the better
Familial windmill. And from her perch on the rear windshield,
Seamus cries as if to remind us that there is death in this car.

Written by scumbagstyle

July 31, 2010 at 12:37 am

Posted in Poetry

Chuckles Goes To Bermuda

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Chuckles Goes to Bermuda

(This was Mark Hurley’s first attempt at creative nonfiction, included to show the amount of growth attained through education and experience.)

America seems to me to be a difficult subject to broach these days. We live in an era where half of the American population is poised to jump down the throats of men they consider to lack patriotism, while the other half would rather you subscribed to decidedly communist philosophies in order to remain politically correct. Meanwhile, young, idealistic high school students are told they could be President one day if they just followed the rules, embracing their ambitions while swallowing them just enough to appear humble and, oddly enough, not ambitious. How is a young American man, presented with the inherent contradictions in the system, supposed to trust that his hard work will lead to success later down the road? In the span of two years, I believe I learned just where a lower middle class boy could expect to end up in the new century. In this anecdotal journey, I can not expect you to consider me a hero on par with Aeneas, but I beg of my reader to think of me as a young Hercules, who does not yet know where his youth and ambition can bring him.

In the Massachusetts high school system, an American History class is pretty much mandatory for all third year students. God knows why they wait so long. A seventeen year old should probably know the difference between the Jefferson who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the Jefferson who moved on up to the east side. Many of the juniors at Methuen High School do not know this. To their credit, though, many of them are the sons and daughters of recent immigrants from our neighbor to the south, and one cannot be expected to lug an American History book in a satchel that will be carried over one’s head for much of the magical journey. Plus, a good amount of them are twenty-three or twenty-four years old, and a father of three clearly has better things to think about than his dubious American heritage.

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Written by scumbagstyle

July 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Nonfiction

Whatsoever Thou Shalt Ask Of Me

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Whatsoever Thou Shalt Ask of Me

(This essay is dedicated to Travis Senkiewicz, who donated the keyboard it was written on, and who knows just how nuts a woman can be, and exploits it daily. He is a genius. A savant we’ll say.)

Until recently, women have been historically described as being especially susceptible to hysteria. It was a rather unscientific solution to the problem of why women act so unnaturally – that is to say, “not like men.” Monuments were built to the inevitable emotional swings of the more erratic of sexes, such as the Taj Mahal, which exhibits colors that change at least three times a day and was attributed to the fickleness of the female mood. The idea has almost completely gone out of vogue, after dying slowly and painfully, like a young actress drawing out her final scene in a horror film far beyond the point her audience’s attention and good taste will allow. Its terminality became apparent in literature in the late 1800’s, with the advent of Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emily Dickinson, and the like. Having had many varying relationships with women, I would like to say that the idea that women are hysterical still has at least one hold out. I proudly retain the notion that every woman alive has the potential to be bat shit crazy at the drop of a hat. However, unlike my esteemed predecessors, I do not believe it is a reason to keep women locked in tiny rooms with yellow wallpaper or keep them from voting. I do believe it is a reason to find a doorjamb to hide in and hope it will all blow over with minimal casualties. The hysteria of women, I believe, is an inherited genius, a kind of Darwinian brilliance, a naturalist’s wet dream personified that rears its ugly head when natural instinct kicks in and the woman is not getting her way. Conditioned to react, women are veritable machines, person sized reflexes, buzzing and rippling with carefully, unconsciously calculated responses to any and all stimuli. It serves as an excellent understanding of why women will burst into tears at what appears to be nothing, or why my bold sitter, 14, played doctor with me, 7, while my parents were at the movies.

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Written by scumbagstyle

July 17, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Nonfiction