|Author: Justin Swapp
Setting: the present, in Spain
Availability: in the Anthology The Crimson Pact, volume I
Story: Sloan, an American student studying in Spain, is waiting for his tutor and enjoying an espresso at an outdoor café. He is approached by an old man, a man who looks like a warrior, although he is dressed quite normally. After the man asks Sloan his name, and they carry on a short awkward conversation, the man places on the table a small die with strange markings. Sloan will never be the same again.
This is a flash fiction story, so a review will necessarily be short. However, it is part of The Crimson Pact, Volume I. This anthology has created a setting in the opening story, “The Failed Crusade,” by Paul Genesse and Patrick M. Tracy. To understand any of the 25 additional stories in the book some explanation of the opening story is necessary. At some time and place, both unidentified, humans have banded together to fight against demons who are attempting to conquer the world of men. The humans are losing the battle. However, they have all sworn to a pledge, called the Crimson Pact, that they will do whatever it takes to eventually hunt down the demons. At the end of the fateful day of loss, two people call upon the skills of a Spirit Coaxer and manage to cross over into the world of the demons.
The idea of the anthology is that the subsequent stories will build upon that introduction and tell the tales of those who crossed over and their descendants and followers throughout any age or world. Additional volumes are planned, and submissions are ongoing.
Commentary: The Failed Crusade is narrated by General Cruek Ostor, and has the feel of a cross between a medieval manuscript and a video game. The flowery language may make it difficult to immerse yourself into the world and the battle, but it has what I call “internal integrity.” This mean that you never are suddenly jogged into the wrong time or place by words or images that don’t belong. It took me a whole page to get into the story, but once I did, it worked well.
This opening story sets the stage for almost anything to happen with only a few basic ground rules that need to be followed. The remaining stories in the anthology are a complete mixture of styles- from stories that read like video game introductions to romance. “Transition” is set in the modern world, and if it were not for the fact that it’s in this anthology, would not signal any suspected direction for the plot too early.
The Crimson Pact is a classic good vs. evil fantasy. However, the contributions of many authors ensure that there are stories to please everyone, and you’ll never be able to predict where the next story will take you.
|Author info: Justin Swapp grew up in a simple world where he played outside; running and hiding, talking openly to people, shooting pot guts, exploring caves, and generally looking for ways to exploit his imagination. The phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword" always fascinated him. Swapp got what it meant, but wanted to be able to wield that pen. And, he says, "that is harder than it looks." |
Several other stories by Swapp can be read at his web site Justin Swapp: Fiction for your Reading Addiction
Language skills 8
Depth of meaning 6