It has been nearly three and half years since I started working at The Lookout. I’ve made many friends along the way and had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented people.
I will take many memories away from my time at The Lookout: watching Main Campus transform under the renovations, enjoying LCC’s Black History Month events, reviewing plays and concerts, and being recognized as The Lookout employee of the year during 2013.
I can still remember how eventful my first year was at The Lookout; taking photos of students evacuating Main Campus during a bomb scare, traveling to D.C. for the Rally to Restore Sanity, seeing robots on campus, and much more.
I’ve also made many connections on campus during my tenure, working hand-in-hand with members of LCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the American Marketing Association and more.
I thank my fellow editors for putting up with my often hectic availability and my quirky demeanor. I’ve tried my best this semester to balance two jobs and classes while maintaining a somewhat tenuous grip on my sanity.
I would also like to thank my adviser Larry Hook for taking a chance and hiring me when I had zero journalism experience. Thank you for entrusting me with the responsibilities as editor in chief and webmaster.
I also appreciate you taking the time to teach me the art of journalism and how to improve my writing skills.
I think I’ve held almost every position at The Lookout except for ad manager, sports editor, and A&E editor at one point. Now the time has come to move in a different direction—computer information technology.
I will still maintain The Lookout website and post stories online if I am needed. I will continue to write, but it will be limited to my blog or fictional novels. If you are ever in need of my ramblings or a few iotas of wisdom, I can be found at nrwilson.com.
Thank you for reading my work over these past three and a half years.
As an author, I’ve always imagined having a book launch, but I never quite found the incentive or time to put one together. Now I find myself in the prime position to do so with plenty of help from friends.
The book launch for my second novel, Red Widow, will be held Monday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in the LCC Library. The event is free and open to the public.
Red Widow is a crime thriller that tells the story of Vivian Xu, a young streetwalker being extorted by a homicide detective. If she succeeds in tracking down a deranged serial killer, her criminal record will be expunged and she will be offered a chance at returning to society.
This novel borrows from several different genres, including medical suspense, horror, psychological and mystery. At its core, Red Widow deals with the oppressive fear of failing in life.
During the book launch event, LCC Fashion Design students Ana Espinoza and Caricia Ramirez will display illustrations inspired by Red Widow’s cover art. It feels exciting collaborating with other artists, and I look forward to seeing their work on display.
There will also be a theatrical reading of Red Widow. Content will most likely be suited for adult audiences.
I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about speaking before a large number of people because I have a tendency to ramble. I sound more coherent and organized when I put my thoughts in writing, but I will do my best to explain my novel. With the support of my friends, I’m sure it will turn out great.
Signed copies of Red Widow will be available for $4 during this event only. After the book launch, the paperback will be available for $8.99 on Amazon. The eBook version will be available to download for free from Amazon Kindle, iBookstore, Nook and Smashwords.
I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Jennifer Hennings, Christine Conner, Espinoza, Ramirez, Melissa Kaplan and Ernie Block for making this event possible.
For updates on the Red Widow book launch, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit nrwilson.com.
Over the past few months, I’ve been paying attention to Pope Francis since he was inaugurated as the head of the Catholic Church. Some of the things he has said in candid interviews have raised my eyebrows in shock.
He strikes me as a very humble and sensible man, not someone who would use the power of the pulpit to exert his world views on the masses.
What really got my attention was when he said the Catholic Church is obsessed with gay marriage and abortion.
Pope Francis gives me hope that the Catholic Church can begin to send a more moderate message that would draw people to God instead of turning them away.
I can attest that I left the Catholic Church because it felt like it was becoming more of a political body obsessed with gay marriage, birth control, abortion and supervising sex--instead of preaching love, forgiveness, and acceptance. I still consider myself a Christian, but not a Catholic.
Much to my relief, even Pope Francis noted this obsession within the Church, and he said clergy must find a balance between their spiritual and political missions. However, he said the Church’s positions on gay marriage and abortion are clear and will not change.
I was disappointed to hear him say that women still should not be ordained, but he added that this shouldn’t be construed as women being viewed as inferior in the eyes of the Church.
I understand not everyone will agree with me on issues of reform within the Catholic Church. I’m simply stating that Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air in a world so often dominated by overbearing demagogues. He seems more willing to accept and love everyone instead of casting aspersions and judgment.
I commend him for trying to shift the Church’s focus to helping the poor and less fortunate instead of political schemes. Given the state of affairs in our world, we could use more positive people like him.
The thought has been growing in my brain for a while: Are race relations improving or declining in America?
Sirens cut through the murky ghetto as wreaths of fog descended.
Men adorned in riot gear tumbled out of the armored SWAT van in front of the eerie residence. Armor rattled loudly on their bodies. Most perturbing of all, their gas masks bore a jarring resemblance to the killer they were tasked to subdue.
The abandoned neighborhood could easily be mistaken for a massacred village in a third-world country. The addition of armed men toting military grade weaponry only lent credence to this haunting impression.
Nikolai shouldered his way out of the police car. He glanced backward at the sound of clapping boots to see a pair of snipers hole up across the street. He could vividly remember the horrors he witnessed over a decade ago when racial riots ignited this district.
Those sights would not be so easily forgotten.
Nikolai’s heart raced from the anticipation of confronting the homicidal maniac supposedly wallowing inside. The assault team fell into position at the remote corner of the street, waiting to pounce at any moment.
He felt a surge of egotistical triumph when he saw the assault rifles cradled in their hands. Nikolai paused outside the arched doorway, looking into the empty sockets of the Victorian residence. His heart beat out a staccato against his bulletproof vest as he reached for his firearm.
He wouldn’t lament the death of this killer if he elected to defend himself. If circumstances dictated his death, he would gladly oblige. However, Nikolai preferred to take him alive. He wanted to look into this murderer’s eyes and see what kind of hell motivated him to deprive five innocents of their lives.
He disengaged the safety on his semi-automatic pistol. Just in case the killer was feeling particularly motivated tonight.
He curtly nodded.
“Police! Search warrant!” the point man yelled through his mask. Only the hoarse wind shrieked in reply. Several anguished seconds slipped by, and the anxiety tightened like nooses around their necks. The door imploded as a metal battering ram plowed through.
“Move!” SWAT agents funneled into the torture den.
Tactical lasers swept across the dark rooms, illuminating the details in a scarlet, ghostly pall. Nine assault rifles swiveled through the shadows, ready to salivate bullets at a moment’s notice. Nikolai followed in their wake with his fingers welded to his pistol. Rapid footsteps murmured in the silence as the response team swept through the grime. They moved as a singular unit designed to subdue and eliminate any aggressor. Nikolai plodded his own course, not so eager to follow in the footsteps of others. He would explore this deformed hell for his own eyes and make a judgment call.
The house was not nearly as decrepit as the exterior suggested. A perverse elegance haunted this shell of a home.
He craned his neck to peer inside an austere dining room. Past lacy curtains he glided, studying the china assembled on the table. Although the silverware and candelabras had been meticulously arranged, no trace of food could be found. He immediately lurched to a halt when he saw the serrated knife on the table. It gleamed seductively in the dark, waiting for someone’s gentle touch. He scanned the room, hoping no one was lurking within reaching distance.
Too many times he had seen what a well-placed blade could do to someone’s face, especially when the culprit was violently unhinged and apathetic. It didn’t take much to tunnel through the eye and rupture the—
A shape sent him barreling to his left.
His eyes fixed on the stuffed vulture on the cabinets, leering down at him from its perch. He sighed and kicked the black feathers scattered on the carpet.
Cursing under his breath, he moved on to catch up with the tactical team. The moment he crested the stairs, he froze.
The point man had paused in front of a door at the end of the hall. He flashed hand signals to his companions and braced himself. His armored boot sent splinters lancing across the room as the door tore off the hinges. SWAT agents swooped inside like ravens with disorienting yells, each man pointing his gun in a different direction.
“What the fuck!”
Screams lit up the room and Nikolai waded forward with his finger pulsing on the trigger. A gunshot erupted within feet of him, screaming into his skull.
He saw the blood splashed across the walls, and he catapulted forward, frantically trying to determine if the killer had been shot.
“What the fuck happened?!” The SWAT agents parted before him like a sea to reveal the victim, and he saw a woman’s face.
Dozens of them, nailed to the walls. Their faces were eternalized in frayed photographs, flecked with blood. Explosions of scarlet were splattered across the room, collecting on the floor in a cesspool. The only thing missing were the bodies.
Nikolai gazed at the walls decorated with arterial spray like a deranged artist on an inspirational rampage.
“Shit,” he whispered.
“Check the basement!” one of the men bellowed. Nikolai staggered away from the wall as the assault team retraced its route. All of the women in the photographs looked exactly the same. The same pronounced cheekbones, creamy flesh, green eyes, and silky, blonde hair.
Had the murderer killed them, too? Or were they merely his fantasy victims?
Nikolai stopped just short of the red ooze, gazing at those smiling faces. With a final shudder, he fled the chamber and charged downstairs. The assault team was already scouring the cellar. Their gun-mounted lights danced across the medical gurney and signs of struggle strewn across the basement; scalpels, trays, and clamps littered the floor with spite for any semblance of order.
Nikolai inched toward the gurney for a closer look, and he realized at once the straps had been sawed apart. The thought of Vivian strapped to such a device made him cringe.
In the throng of shadows, something gleamed under the gurney. He donned a rubber glove and crouched among the chaos. Nearly pressing his cheek against the floor, he caught sight of a syringe.
He managed to retrieve it as he stretched under the bed. Nikolai rolled the syringe between his fingers, studying the needle as though it might spill it decadent secrets. Twenty milliliters of fluid remained. Where did the other ten milliliters go?
“Nikolai, you may want to take a look at this.”
He tucked the syringe into a plastic bag and approached the solemn gathering in the corner. Nikolai shouldered his way past onlookers and was instantly thwarted by a red light glaring in his eyes. A passage beckoned him into the bowels of the dark.
The longer he stared he felt the veins in his eyes growing more engorged. Perhaps the shadows were thinning, slicing across his vision like fine razor blades.
“Where the hell does it lead?” one of the men asked.
“Precisely,” Nikolai answered. “Hell.”