IF YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING THE GROWING NUMBER OF MASS SHOOTINGS AND WONDERING “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THIS?” THEN YOU’LL WANT TO READ MY IMMERSIVE FICTION PIECE “FOLLOWING MY DESTINY” FOR A FIRST PERSON VIEWPOINT. NOW AVAILABLE IN ISSUE #22 OF TRAJECTORY JOURNAL

Human beings want to understand things because it makes us feel more in control of our lives. There are countless books, articles, and blogs about how stuff works from automobiles to xylophones. But we don’t really know everything that happens inside the human brain. I know some of you are huffing and puffing, perhaps explaining the functions of neurons and ganglia to your computer screen, right now. And you’re right about the mechanics of those systems. But a list of parts doesn’t explain why a person who appears outwardly “normal” to the casual observer would want to murder a store full of people, a school full of children, or random individuals attending a concert or movie. That’s what makes the whole phenomenon so scary. How are we supposed to stop these killers if we have no idea where, when, or why they’re going to strike next?
 
I wrote “Following My Destiny” to give readers an idea of what life looks like through a mass shooter’s eyes. My original plan was to use the research I did in more of a creative nonfiction format, but the result was dryer than a high school book report. Frustrated, I talked with some trusted friends and fellow writers, who suggested an immersive fiction approach that made use of my research and my personal mental health issues with PTSD. The results were still pretty flat…Until I was wrapping up another late-night writing session and my hand wrote: The voices are always talking to me, no matter where I am…”
 
Chance McCandless had finally come to life! And once he started talking, there was no shutting him up. My day-to-day activities were constantly invaded by his observations and desires, delivered in a strangely dry and matter-of-fact voice. Sleep provided no escape, just frequent nightmares in which I was always running or drawing a bead on targets. Feelings of guilt, anger, lust, and shame kept washing through me as if I were the one committing crimes, not Chance. He brought me to the realization that mass shooters carefully plan their crimes, slowly accruing supplies, and studying targets. They also spend time figuring out how to be invisible or accepted on the surface while their brains whir like food processors inside their skulls. In our modern world where everything moves fast, and stores are understaffed, those that notice something off about a person are too busy to point it out. And if they do tell their manager or law enforcement, nothing good happens, so you can be damn sure that employee or fellow tenant will keep their head down and mouth shut in the future. The system is broken.
 
“Following My Destiny” begins with Chance telling us about the voices, his desires, and what he’d like to do to his father. Not that I’m endorsing violence, but his hatred is not without provocation. Also fueling the fire is Chance’s favorite podcast delivered by religious zealot Lediv Bloodsmoore who preaches Armageddon to his followers. Chance is desperate for recognition and is planning to do something “really big” in the nebulous future. But when an unexpected event occurs, he’s forced into action too soon. Without a fully developed plan, things speedily spin out of control. Bullets start to fly slicing open Chance’s detached view of life and making his ideas crumble. Should he give up like his friend Al, keep fighting to the bitter end, or make a run for it while he still can and continue “spreading the good word” across the nation?
 
Intrigued, interested, and wanting to read more? Excellent! What you’ll want to do next is order a copy of TRAJECTORY issue 22 spring 2022. Inside, you’ll find excellent poetry, short stories, and flash. There’s a photo documentary about the wall between Mexico and U.S., a piece about the legendary Charles Bukowski, and poetry so real that it hurts. In other words, this fully independent literary journal publishes real writing by real people, not just college kids who are guaranteed to get published because it’s part of the degree their parents are paying for. To date, TRAJECTORY issue 22 has sold out two print runs and is printing a third as you read this. To get your very own copy of this excellent literary journal you can contact:
ME through this blog. I have a limited quantity for sale at $20 each which includes domestic shipping and handling. You can also contact editor in chief Chris Helvey at: adobechris@hotmail.com to purchase issue 22. I also encourage you to check out TRAJECTORY’S website at: https://trajectoryjournal.com where you can read previously published work, sign up for the newsletter, and subscribe. All of which supports independent writers and poets, which is good for everybody. Thanks for reading this post from Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Skull and I would love it if you’d follow us at: https://damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com so we can continue to help independent writers and presses. Until next time, keep writing!