NaNoWriMo 2012 – The City of Light

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is go here.

Now that you’re back, or still with me, here’s my plan for this year’s National Novel Writing Month.

Last year I wrote 50,097 words of my science fiction epic, titled at the time: This Wretched Orb

I wrote 11,367 words on that last day because I’m a procrastinator and was deep into Mass Effect at the time.

I plan to do better this time around, but I’m going back to the same story, which I consider 1/3 finished.

The new title is The City of Light and it continues the story of the protagonist from This Wretched Orb as he struggles to place himself in the reality, or lack thereof, that surrounds him. It’s science fiction and it begins with the sentence:

“A man came into existence on the desolate shore of a vast sea of blue.”

Where the man goes from there is far beyond that desolate shore. He finds life, and meaning, and death.

Never seen by the public eye before, here’s the final portion of last year’s entry:

While Adam slept, he dreamed.

Much like the hallucinations he had experienced after ingesting the mushrooms, the visions were frenzied and filled mostly with strange diagrams and symbols. But beyond those, he also saw himself traveling over the surface of a world not unlike the one he had come into existence on.

He floated over mountain ranges, and over vast seas of blue that seemed to stretch on forever to the horizon. Strange groupings of buildings appeared below him with metal paths atop tree-like formations over the city. Along these metal paths, odd snake-like creatures circled.

It reminded him of the one part of the diagram from the waterfall cave he did not understand. As he watched, one of the snakes blew steam into the air.

He was then whisked away to another part of the world where he saw human habitations built into the side of a cliff. People streamed forth from these abodes down long ladders, and entered large moving juggernauts that sported huge spools of metal on their backs that crackled with lightning-like energy. On and on, the juggernauts rolled out from the cliffs in vast numbers.

His visions changed again and the man found himself hovering over a huge, heavily fortified castle. In the many courtyards that formed layers and layers of defense for the central keep, metal bulks that were vaguely humanoid lumbered around. In the distance, Adam could see a large army of men approaching the city.

As the men breached the first wall, the lumbering metal hulks destroyed them – crushing them with their stomping, trunk-like feet or burning them with spouts of flame that shot from their appendages.

The army of men dwindled as they slowly broke through to the inner defenses of the city until only one man remained. The man, bearing only a sword, ran into the massive doors leading into the keep.

Again, the visions shifted and Adam found himself flying through space outward from the center of a large, spiral galaxy. He floated over planets and on each one he passed he saw lights that indicated large settlements of people. Sometime he saw massive metal constructions in space around these planets that smaller metallic ships floated around like bees around a hive.

Outward he shot from the galaxy until he reached another spiral galaxy, and again each planet he floated over, whether rocky or gaseous, had either mass settlements on its surface, or the floating stations in orbit around them.

Adam’s vision stretched until all the stars around his extended into lines. Then there was only blackness.

Adam felt himself still floating through space, but there was only the void around him. Gradually, he began to notice a faint glow in the far distance. He floated closer and closer to it, its blue light growing gradually larger as he approached.

Eventually, he could see that it was a star. Around that star floated a solitary planet. No other heavenly body was to be seen in that space – just one planet and one star.

His body floated in closer to the planet and strange visions assaulted him there. He saw giant men with axes and swords fighting fierce creatures made of ice. Humans in tight-fitting bright clothes flitted about in the air, fighting each other with strange powers. Reptiles flew on vast leathery wings and man clad in shining armor pursued the massive beasts on white horses.

Adam saw a man hung from a cross. A girl sat at a large table for tea with strange guests. Two men stood over a dead body – one smoked a pipe. Massive armies marched against each other, sometimes men against men, sometimes men against evil looking humanoids. Massive vessels circled the planet, firing energy blasts at each other, decimating one another.

Finally, Adam passed all this commotion and flew toward a giant fortress of crystal. He entered through the opening at its front, and floated down long hallways.

He saw a portrait of himself hanging from an icy wall, and next to it was a portrait of another man that happened to look similar to Adam. Hundreds of thousands of portraits lined the long hallway and as he floated down it, Adam gazed at each man or woman in the pictures. They all seemed familiar somehow. At some point the portraits changed from being of the front of men and women, to be the backs of them.

He looked as portrait after portrait of bare backs passed him by until gradually he noticed strange shapes start to form on each portrait as they progressively moved by him. Letters began to from gradually from back to back, always growing clearer and sharper.

The name they spelled out was ‘ADAM’. The name appeared it’s clearest on the last portrait, and then there were no more. Again, Adam fell into a deep darkness, floating through the void with seeing any hint of light as he traveled onward. Far, far in the distance, Adam saw he was approaching another hallway of portraits. In these frames, he saw the bodies of dead people. It took him a while to realize that these were the same people he had seen in the original hallway, only now they lay in differing positions, bloodied, burned, impaled, mangled, mauled. One in particular caught his eye. It was him and a crude sharpened stick had been forced through his back and out his chest. Adam knew he should understand what this meant, but in this dream state, the meaning slipped by him.

This new hall of portraits continued on for a distance until it too passed him by.

Adam then entered a vast throne room. At the center of a dais on its far end, a man in furs sat on a mighty throne, a massive sword in his hands. Even as Adam watched, the man morphed into different people. One was a barbarian with only one eye. One was Cain in his grey robes, holding a sharpened wooden stick. And finally, Adam saw before him the Bear God.

And then Adam awoke.

And the next part of the story picks up in the strange City of Light, where men seem to live forever, while the specter of the Bear God and his people hangs in the wilds beyond the city’s gates.

Like last year, I’ll write a post every day, with my first line written each day, and my last line for each day.

I hope that I can be successful again this year. At November 30th, I hope to be 2/3 done with my first science fiction novel.

Wish me and all the other NaNoWriMo participants luck.

Nostril Mining on Titan

More flash science fiction. I’m good with spontaneity I think.

As Wayne stood in the methane downpour, his mind was diverted from the logical queries that should have been forming in his brain. He should have been freezing and gasping for air as he stood naked on the surface of Titan.  Instead, he was assaulted with a powerful yet illogical urge to find the rest of his party and place his mouth near their orifices. His brain slowly surrendered to hostile takeover, but his notorious habit of nose-picking was unscathed. After removing his finger from his nostril, he silently regarded the myriad insect-like creatures crawling on its surface, meticulously cleaning the dust from underneath his fingernail. “Don’t mind us,” their collective voice echoed in his head. “Where are your friends?”

Star Wars VII

I could speculate. I probably will before this post is over.

The mind reels, recoils, quivers in fear, needs fresh underwear.

I did not expect Disney to go for Lucasfilm, but I do have to say that I’m not surprised Lucas was willing to part with the company. In his sixties, he’s become a bit … eccentric. And it could be good for us.

The original trilogy has a nice formula to it. The first film introduces the setting and the characters, the second puts them in the worst possible situation, the third details how they get out of that situation. I think Lucas described it that way at some point, in some documentary … jeez, I’ve seen so many.

So consider then the possibility that the entire series, outside of the actual continuity of the progressive storyline, could follow that same formula.

The Original Trilogy – Lucas introduces to the universe, the characters, the mythology.

Prequel Trilogy – Lucas puts the series in the worst possible situation.

The New films – Someone other than Lucas gets it out of that situation.

Just remember, Return of the Jedi had Ewoks … victory with a price.

Disney gets a lot of credit for what they did with Pixar and Marvel, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not perfect. Phase One was a bold move, but you cannot carve a chunk out of Earth-616 to make your own and not expect painful casualties. The Marvel continuity is EPIC, and the big screen is not big enough – its going to lose steam. I fear for Ant-Man. I bitched because he didn’t even get a mention, a cameo, but Ant-Man alone? I think that’s pushing it – the Ant-Men don’t stand well alone. The Marvel Universe has no leading man, no leading team. I think the opportunity to capture the epic scale of the Marvel continuity would have been to make it a serial, hour-long episode format for television – give yourself room to include the X-Men, Spider-Man, the FF, the Inhumans, the entire multiverse. That’s why I’m reading Marvel from FF#1 – it’s beyond epic. See this.

I think a serial format is the opportunity that’s going to be missed with Star Wars as well.

Star Wars is no longer just the six films, a handful of heroes, and a few planets. There’s the entire Expanded Universe to consider, an Expanded Universe, I might add, that no one has officially denied as canon. Star Wars is epic with content when previously it was not. I think that because of its size and potential, three more blockbuster movies are just too risky.

The separation between the home theater and the megaplex gets smaller by the minute, and there are some fantastic franchises operating solely on the small screen – franchises that make the blockbuster seem like Ishtar the Animated Series. Entertainment is changing, and I feel like Disney has a philosophy ill-suited to the epic universe. They’ll stretch it thin to hit a wider audience, and then they’ll alienate the core fan base. It’s all or nothing with a film that big, with that much expectation.

Lucasfilm had a great idea in turning the live-action Star Wars franchise to the serial format, and it seems like they’ve lost out. Disney will go big with fences. At least with the series, you can adapt as the audience demands. Look at the success of The Clone Wars. Look at the success of any sci-fi series in the last two decades.

They’ve got one shot … or probably three. And to me, that’s not epic enough to get the live-action Star Wars out of the grips of Lucas’s Empire.

I wasn’t around for A New Hope. I was a baby in the theater when Empire came out, I remember getting a Bib Fortuna action figure for my birthday right before going to see Return of the Jedi. I worked in a movie theater and built Phantom Menace and previewed it three days before release. Those were big moments in my geeky little life. I don’t remember where I was when I first saw Episodes 2 and 3. It’s not that I’m older, it’s that I’ve seen or read so much better.

I still enjoyed the prequels. They were thin, but they delivered on the important setups for IV through VI. I love The Clone Wars. I really hope it all works out, and I’m sure I’ll be entertained regardless.

But … I see visions of dark things, things perhaps to come, things not yet set in motion, but possible.

Through all this time, something has always bugged me about the future of Star Wars, and I have one great fear …

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …

The new film has to be a fair temporal distance from the fall of the Empire. Please, no matter what direction this next film(s) takes, for the love of all that is beautiful and wondrous in this universe, do not try and connect Star Wars to our present universe … ever. Thanks.

 

A Requiem for Mr. Harrison (or Mr. Mystery’s Reflection in a Pool of Blood)

This is material I wrote many moons ago when I spent more time drinking and less time caring about what I wrote. I’m rescuing it from my old blog so you can see what I write when I don’t intend to submit it for publication. There’s a difference.

Because I do have stories in the limbo of submission, and a rotation of submitting those works, you won’t see any of my good stories until they’ve been rejected by every outlet on my list. If you followed my old blog, you’ll recognize this (and a bunch of other things I intend to post here while focusing on NaNoWriMo).

I see brilliance in it, but in the end its a reflection of my dark side –  a christmas list of things I never had the guts to do, like save the universe – and a warning against letting that dark side run free. It’s vulgar garbage, gratuitous in use of expletive, and completely devoid of any real message beyond: shit happens. Enjoy.

Oh, and by the way, this is totally science fiction.

I woke up this morning and grabbed a handful of my clothes. The handful smells of ashtrays and last night’s three too many, but I smirk with the roll of the drums and we start this day with a yummy taste of disappointment.

Like every day.

I wish I could have been too much for the people I’ve known, but the door beckons and outside I go with the wind, a stench of my yesterday following, socks drifting through my fingers towards the ground and I drift also.

The sidewalk threatens to eat me and my shoes are trapdoors to the places I’m going to end up going. Going and going through the muck and grime and into the water of the ever-running river of life, filled with the bobbing heads of a thousand pointless people in their drowning contentment.

I stumble by the house next door and notice a leafblower unattended and I feel the need to take it and make it mine. There’s some mysterious reason for me to do this, but I think there’s something more to this yardwork than the wholesale slaughter of thousands and thousands of living things for the sake of a Yard of the Month sign.

I should stop by the funeral home and pick up Ms. Harrison’s urn – the granite vase full of her late husband’s remains, the remains of her very long day. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s only a few blocks away and I can pop in for a quickie with my favorite corpse artist.

I should have stopped seeing this bitch ages ago, but you get used to that feeling of certain body parts wrapped around your certain body parts – the familiarity of a perfectly made burrito that you never seem to be able to buy anymore. Thank God I don’t have to pay for these fleeting moments of sexual bliss. The morbidity of it all is beyond my acknowledgement, but I cherish the moment when we stumble high into the unused chapel during a long service. We sway and buck against each other with the rhythm of the droning organ. Sometimes I can’t even tell if it is her crying or some poor soul mourning over an empty shell of the person they used to know.

The irony is too fucking wicked for me to linger on. Which one of us is the empty shell of a person, I have no idea.

No idea.

I sprint past the Morrison house and dodge having to speak with the old biddy that inhabits the mass of cobwebs that once housed the greatest family in this small fucked up town. I drop a shit-stained towel in her yard for my own comfort.

The funeral home is bustling with activity and I get the glare from Henry, the fucking part-time director. He’s got the look of a pig in a box. He wants you to think that he belongs where he is, but we all know better. Henry belongs in the casket, he’s dead inside. He’s just repeating the same old shit every day – bereavement, tears, cheap flowers, and outrageously priced caskets for a fucking worm-feast to spend eternity in.

I dodge him and the stupid family he’s attending, so willing to put all their money into a service that’s as pointless as making sure a corpse gets a three-course meal before it goes into the oven.

Sara and I used to joke about the people we’d have sex in front of and on top of – these useless bags of what used to be life. She’s got those glasses and that look of being the fucked up chick that everyone knows better than to get involved with except the people that get off on that shit … the glasses and the standoffishness, not the corpse-painting nympho shit.

I don’t mind it either way.

She’s not fucking here this morning anyway. I dump my laundry into the pile of cheap-shit clothes we really put on the bodies before they go into the ground. You don’t really think we’d let those expensive suits and jewelry go into the ground do you?

That’s what I do, I sort the fakes out according to colors and styles so they look just enough like the real shit that we can get away with it. Sara sells the stuff out of the little store she runs with my other love interest, the impenetrable Melina. Melina sits on a stool behind a nearly broken glass case with an old cash register from the 70s blocking every customer’s view of her nearly perfect breasts pushing out her faded Tubeway Army t-shirt just enough to suggest that there’s something unholy and beautiful underneath that cloth that you’ll never get to.

I’ve seen them once, and only because Sara got behind her and lifted her shirt up. Sara’s got breasts like those tension balls, fun to squeeze into different shapes, but no real form to speak of on their own. Not that I mind. I hardly ever take her shirt off anymore. She hardly takes my pants all the way off.

And fuck all if I really wanted some breakfast this morning but she’s not here.

I see Ms. Harrison’s urn and snatch it up. The keys to the body boat most people call a suburban are on the embalming table and I swipe them. Henry just stares dumbly at me as I drive off with the corpse he’s supposed to be burying in an hour.

“I’ll be back in thirty minutes!” I scream out the window at him. I think he says something back, but I don’t give a shit.

I take the first three corners nice and easy, but on the fourth I purposefully hit the curb and cut the wheel. For a second I’m on two wheels, but the fucking corpse doesn’t roll. Jake, our old driver, is the only one I’ve seen flip a corpse that way. Too bad he flipped his ass right off the old Gully Lake Bridge a few months back. They couldn’t tell which lifeless hunk of bloated flesh was his when they finally found the old ambulance he used to drive.

At Ms. Harrison’s I pull two wheels up into her yard and jump out the passenger door with a fiercely urgent look on my face. I’ve got the urn under my arm. Her yard is meticulously perfect. She carts her broken old body out her door every day and picks up every fucking leaf in her yard, summer to winter to spring to fall. It’s like she’s afraid they’re eventually going to weasel into her house one day and smother her with that wet dampness.

She answers the doors quickly frowning at both my parking job and the shit-streak-looking trails of mud I’ve tracked up her sidewalk.

“It’ll take me all day to clean that walk,” she says right off. “You should be more courteous.”

I just smile.

“Here’s the old man,” I say. She’s appalled. She’s also a freaked out OCD-type germaphobe, so what I do next is quite possibly the closest I could ever coming to killing the poor woman.

I pop off the top and sneeze a spring day’s worth of snot into her face. A cloud of ash and bone erupts from the urn and coats us.

I think she screams, but anyway, she’s down quick and twitching. I pour the rest of the ashes on her and reach into the house to turn one of the figurines on the small table beside her door a little past perpendicular with the other assorted crap she’s got piled there. If the realization she’s got her dead husband in her eyes and nose and throat doesn’t freak her out, the figurine out of place will.

My day is done, I think. I feel like returning to the room I live in, but I get the urge to do something else. I want to act on all the things my previous night has brought to my attention. I want to be who I realized I am last night.

I am the most important person in the least important speck of the universe.

It’s been a good day so far. On a scale that ranges from rabid badgers falling from the sky to angry elder gods flaying my skin off, this day ranks right up there with ants finally rising up against humankind. And I for one would welcome their socialist ways, their quick justice, their tenacious service to their queen.

I leave the elder Ms. Harrison on the floor of the entryway to her house and skip down her muddy sidewalk. I find myself humming a tune I don’t recognize and that disturbs me a bit, like what if this tune has been secretly transmitted into my brain without me knowing it – maybe it has set up residence across from my brain’s database of hummable tunes and is polluting my cranium with subliminal advertising.

Fuck it – its not a bad tune after all.

One of the two tires I’ve ridden up into Ms. Harrison’s yard has burst open a fairly good sized ant nest. The panicked and angry workers struggle to relocate the newly born while attacking the giant rubber invader. I watch entranced for a moment, but soon I begin to hear Ms. Harrison stirring from her shock – probably about to call for help, the bitch.

I just now realize the gravity of what I’ve done. The suburban advertises the Hobbs-Crocker-Marsh Funeral Home in painfully contrasting white on black. It won’t be long before I catch shit from Dr. Hobbs. I probably will be terminated.

No more chapel sex with Sara. No more free suits.

Fuck. I’ll probably even have to invest in a washer and dryer.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter. After what happened last night, nothing matters that has any connection to who I was the day before.

Jumping into the driver’s seat of the body boat I catch a glimpse of the late gentleman in the back. My attempt to flip the corpse has resulted in him slipping out of the casket and now he lays crumpled stiffly like a scarecrow made of sticks instead of hay.

I key the ignition and floor the accelerator, tossing hundreds of angry ants into oblivion and digging a nice big nasty fucking rut in Ms. Harrison’s yard. An idea starts to form in my brain and it’s so sick that I nearly vomit as I giggle thinking about it. In a few short seconds I’m at 45 miles an hour – then 55 – then 65.

This time I’ll do it right and land myself forever in the annals of funeral home lore as the second crazy shit to flip a corpse in the body boat. Only this time, I’m going for the grand prize. There’s a fat curb coming up fast  and its so thick that you could land a plane on it. Throwing on more acceleration I prepare to cut the wheel and face death.

I see the gauge read 80 just as I hit the curb and cut the wheel.

For a second I think it’s not going to flip, but the one front wheel still on the road loses its grip and I see the pavement come rushing at my open window to fast for me to brace myself. Again and again I see it coming just before my face is pressed against pavement – pavement – grass – sidewalk – the roof of a car – and then I’m hanging upside down, my face broken and bloody from trauma.

I have to be quick to make this work. I unbuckle my seatbelt and fall from my seat into a pile of pain. Ignoring  it with good spirits,  I wiggle out of the window. I only take a moment to survey the destruction I’ve caused. It looks to me like I managed to flip the body boat a total of six times before ending up in someone’s  yard next to a Volvo I’ve crushed. Not bad for a day.

Snapping out of my self-congratulatory debriefing I rip open the back door of the boat and grab hold of the corpse in the suit. With my last ounce of strength I pull him from the wreckage just as people are starting to notice.

“My God! Someone help us!” I scream. “He’s not breathing! Help! Call an ambulance!”

I look around in a feigned panic more to ascertain who my hero is going to be than to dramatize the situation. I see him almost immediately.

Late thirties, early forties, he’s been jogging. Pasty and sweaty you can tell he hasn’t been at the exercise game long. I assume he’s just hit that brick wall of mid-life bachelorhood. Too old to keep up with the game, but too young to realize it’s too late. Yes, this guy is going to be my hero today.

A crowd has started to gather and I make the motions of checking the corpse’s pulse.

“Does anyone know CPR?” I shout.

Come on hero, it’s your moment.

“I do,” he says and jogs his semi-fat ass over to the scene of the accident.

“Thank God,” I say. “He’s my boss. I can’t imagine losing him. You have to help him.”

Still faking panic and shock – and I’m a bit surprised no one’s concerned about me and my face. Possible death always gets top billing though. Those goose-neckers that make the traffic jams worse at auto accidents aren’t looking on with concern, they want the blood and guts. They want to see the newly dead – they’re breaking their necks to catch a glimpse of the soul evacuation. The light from heaven, the fire from hell.

The fool doesn’t even bother to check the body, he just starts pumping away at the guy’s chest. I should probably get ready to run, but this is going to be too good to give up front row seats for.

In that glorious moment when he stops pumping and grabs for the guys head I realize that this idiot does not know CPR at all. The fool presses his entire mouth over that of the corpse and blows mightily. The resulting sound is like a wet fart as the corpse’s mouth repels the air. The jogger pulls his head away and attempts to pry the corpse’s lips apart. A few people have already realized the truth, but this dumb shit catches it in waves. I can clearly see the levels of recognition.

Holy shit … this guy’s lips are sown together.

Holy shit … this guy’s eyelids are sewn shut.

Holy shit … this guy’s ice cold.

Holy shit … there’s an empty casket in the suburban.

I’m already sprinting away, my monster grin catching gnats in the wind. There’s blood running into my eyes and nose and mouth and I drink it down like wine. All this stems from last night’s revelation. This glorious moment is brought to by a five second epiphany … a whisper from one human to another. A second’s glance at the man behind the curtain.

Last night …

I hear sirens in the distance and they create a strange cacophony when blended with the wind blowing against my face as I run full sprint. My face is still bloody, but I feel the tingling of the slow healing process starting. I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Up ahead of me a small city bus crosses an intersection. If I hurry I can catch it and ride it back to the funeral home where my sentencing awaits.

I catch up to the bus as its brake lights dim and the driver gives it gas to pull away from the bus stop. Screaming and banging on the side of the bus, I convince the driver to wait. Out of breath and bloody I climb aboard. The driver, an older African-American gentleman, frowns at me as he takes my dollar.

“You need an ambulance, not this fuckin’ bus,” he coughs at me. The guy looks and sounds like he eats lit cigarettes for breakfast. “Unless you’re going eastways, you best get out and call 9-1-1.”

“I’m fine,” I say and collapse into a seat.

“Suit yourself … “ he mumbles something after this that sounds like: crazy ass white boy muthafucka.

There are three other people on the bus staring at me. Two old ladies hold their week’s worth of groceries in their laps, celery jutting from the tops of their sacks. A smart looking man in his sixties sits at the back of the bus reading a newspaper. He looks at me over the tops of his glasses which sit halfway down his nose.

Thinking back to last night, I know what I have to do.

“Sir,” I say to the man, “You need to get off of this bus right now.”

The man ignores me and turns his gaze back to his newspaper. I stand and shuffle back a few rows before sitting down to stare at him again. “Seriously, sir,” I say, “You need to exit this bus immediately.”

The man still keeps his gaze away and mumbles something.

“I’m sorry, what?” I ask.

“Leave them passengers alone!” I hear from the front. “And keep your damn seat.” The bus is picking up speed down one of the major thoroughfares.

Again I stand and move back in the bus until I’m in the row directly in front of the man.

“Sir,” I say, “If you don’t get off this bus right now, you are going to die.” I hear the women squeak and turn to see the driver glaring at me through the rear-view mirror.

“If you don’t stand up right now and march to the front of this bus and ask to be let out,” I continue, “I’m going to grab you and throw you out … do you understand?”

“Please,” the man says, still not looking at me. “Take my money. Just don’t hurt me.”

I laugh and grab the man roughly. To my amazement he’s light and easy to carry.

From the front of the bus I hear: “Put that man down, you crazy ass! Leave them people alone!”

Once I get the now-blubbering man up to the front of the bus I politely say to the driver, “Please, could you stop the bus so this man can get out?”

“Sit your crazy ass back down before I stuff my fist into your face,” he screams at me. “I ain’t stopping this bus for shit. I’m behind schedule and on fuckin’ probation, ain’t no way some crazy ass white boy gonna cause me to lose my job.”

Calmly, I kick the release on the door and pull the handle. In one swift seamless motion I set the man down and kick him out of the bus at 30 miles an hour. The man rolls well enough that I think he survives. Immediately, the bus tires scream as they lock up and I’m already out the door and running again.

I can hear the driver screaming after me, but I know I’ve gotten away. A few blocks away is my next stop. I can’t wait to see Melina. I have a feeling that today I will finally have the chance to hold her in my arms and feel those wonderful tits against me.

And here she is.

I haven’t known Melina long but Sara has known her since they were kids. What little information I’ve gleaned from my close personal relationship with Sara has been mostly epic dramatization of their long and blustery existence as lovers. This is the kind of thing most men would love to hear from their partners, I’m sure. In my case, I feel cheated.

In theory, I am supposed to be attracted to this girl behind the old cash register. I can clearly see that this is why she has appeared in my life in this way – she is here to tempt me and ruin me. In truth, I hate this woman.

Her lack of knowledge of music and music culture astonishes me and contributes to my overall negative perception of her. She lies in the category of those who can sing the lyrics of a song but have no concept of the music behind it. She’s wearing  a Tubeway Army shirt today.

“Gary Numan is a fag,” I say.

“Thom Yorke is a mongoloid,” she retorts without looking up from an art magazine. I bite my lip in anger at her blasphemy, but alas I must save this girl.

Melina and I share only hatred of one another. I feel she is a vapid waste of space, she feels that I am a pseudo-intellectual creep who uses words to confuse people.

“If I had your brains, I’d eat them.”

“What the fuck does that mean?” she queries, still eyeing her pop art and glorified graffiti. I don’t know what I meant and I am caught off guard a bit. So I just say something randomly, hoping it fits.

“Because you’re a zombie – if I had your brains, I’d be a zombie and all I’d eat would be brains – but I’m such a self-glorifying bitch I’d refuse to eat other people’s brains and I’d eat my own.”

This finally raises those brown eyes from the magazine and she stares at me. I can’t see her tits, but I know they’re back there somewhere behind the old cash register. In just a few moments, I will breach that no-man’s-land, that wasteland where few souls of the opposite sex have tread. Soon, she’ll be in my arms, her breath against my neck, our legs awkwardly entangled, our chests heaving, lungs gasping.

“Sara’s not here. So fuck off. And go to a fucking hospital.”

The cash register sits on the only sturdy and wooden part of the glass case Melina sits behind. If I try to leap over the glass part, I could very well end up in the hospital. The damned cash register is in my way if I go over the wood. I realize I could just walk around the case, but I have very little time to do this right. I realize that I don’t have time to be considering things like this.

In as swift a motion as my scrawniness allows, I plant my hands on the wood and vault my legs sideways over the glass. For a brief instant, I think I have enough momentum to clear it. My hip comes down first and with a dull crack, the top pane of the case splinters. With a sloppy breakdancing move I windmill my legs to shift my balance off the glass. In doing this I kick Melina directly in the face.

The glass shatters as I manage to clear myself of it and the irony of Melina’s shattered nose is lost to me as I wrap my arms around her. Screaming, she elbows me and manages to squirm so that her back is to my chest. I wrap my arms tighter around her and I’m not even considering how close my hands are to her breasts.

There’s barely enough time.

With all the force I can muster, I bend my knees and propel us backward, parallel to the broken case and away from the window.

Before we’ve even hit the ground I hear the Grand Marquis hit the window. I don’t see it pass by us, but I know it’s taken out the cash register. A large portion of the display case is torn from the ground and slams against us with almost the velocity of the car. I can hear Melina scream and out of the corner of my eye I see the bumper of the Grand Marquis disappear into the office.

We lay there a moment, the sound of tinkling glass all that is left. She’s in my arms, her breath against my neck, our legs awkwardly entangled, our chests heaving, lungs gasping.

A few moments pass, and our breathing dies down a bit. I can hear people walking in through the window, crunching broken glass.

“You can take your hands off my breasts now.”

The moment is too climactic.

“The moment is too climactic,” I say.

There’s silence a moment, but she doesn’t pull away from me.

“You knew.”

She turns to look at me now, my hands sliding away from her.

“You knew that was going to happen … and you saved me.”

All I can do is nod.

“What the fuck are you?” she asks.

“I saved five people today,” I explain. The glass is catching rays of sunlight and shattering them against the ceiling in rainbows of Sesame Street toddler psychedelia. The Grand Marquis’s radio is droning a garbled rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”.A dead roach lies in the bodily rictus of death under a rack of clothes and my fallibility slaps me like a freight train.

“They didn’t realize I was saving them, but it doesn’t matter. I can’t save everyone.”

Melina’s still staring at me, and tears are starting to dribble down her haughty cheeks. I know she’s thinking she almost died and I saved her. I can see her thoughts – twisted thoughts about how filthy she feels being rescued by someone she sees as less than a zero drowning.

“An old woman would have been robbed and killed today, but I gave her a mild heart attack instead. The thieves avoided the house because of the police presence. I saved a jogger from a massive heart attack from overexertion, but I made him make out with a corpse instead. His visit to the emergency room for shock brought attention to his heart issue.  I pushed a guy off a bus before his stop where he would have been caught in the crossfire of gang violence and shot to death. I got a bus driver fired – he then went to bar and later today will pass out in a dumpster instead of going to his home which will be destroyed in a gas line explosion.”

Melina’s now staring at the blood pooling beneath us. I know it’s mine and I know I’m dying. My femoral artery has been sliced open by a piece of glass and all the city’s emergency response units are tied up with the chaos I’ve created elsewhere.

In one last act of chaos, I stick my palm in the pool of my own blood.

“I loved you, Gary Numan,” I say, and put a bloody palm print on Melina’s shirt, right on her left breast.

Observers will say I squeezed a bit.

But I know I died.

Bon Voyage

I like flash fiction. It’s a challenge. This one wasn’t – and it’s a bit long.

With her stuffed bear pressed against the thick glass as a witness, the little girl watched the accident from the safety of the observation deck. The massive freightliner drifted slowly away from the station, taking an assortment of dock men and droids with it. The incident had taken only a few seconds to develop – a minor lapse in concentration having flowered into disaster. In the impact, one of the technicians had bitten his tongue, and as he held on to a cluster of pipes on the ship’s side of the docking platform, globules of crimson drifted out of his mouth as if he were blowing bubbles. As the ship and all its crew exhaled their last,  the girl waved the bear’s hand in farewell.

 

The Trick is Not Minding That It Hurts

I take a long weekend and come back to this, Freshly Pressed and pregnant with followers. Thanks WordPress!

And you can too, with Mutant Blue!

I’m happy that my spur of the moment rantings have been validated … however, I can’t help but admit that there’s a distinctly sour taste in my mouth. I appreciate the publicity, but in a way it hurts. I never blogged here to be heard, praised, or even occasionally challenged. I just write, and I’ve written much more than just the one post that got me here. So much for pathos.

So, let me tell you a little about me and what I’ve done and what you can expect me to do.

I’m 34. I have a good job. I have found my soulmate. I am happy.

I’m content with that – but I have the potential to do more. I want to do more.

I write … did I say that? I write things like this and this. Those are good places to see me in my writing.

I also write science fiction – mostly shorts, but I do have the prerequisite in-progress novel that affords me membership into the Unpublished Club that has so many members.

I dig epic. I mean epic like Marvel, and Tolkien, and Herbert, and Doctor Who; not epic like you want it all but you can’t have it. That’s true though, you should probably write that down.

Geek is not a good word for me. I prefer “human”.

I also prefer “Earthling” as opposed to “American”, but c’est la vie. My family’s been here on American soil before it was American soil, since at least 1730 or thereabouts. Halifax, North Carolina. Check that town out, it has historical significance in regards to the American Revolution. I don’t know which side my family was on, but I can make a guess. Just another example of contentment impeding the progress of the human race … sorry. I’ll stop bludgeoning with my futurist stick.

I don’t involve myself with politics. Neither Right nor Left is Forward, and the progressive party will soon be stagnant tomorrow. A Futurist Party is about a century away, but I’m only concerned with the now because I’m a doer -cough- not a thinker.

I cough when I tell lies. -cough-

Maybe if everyone coughed when they told lies the cough syrup companies would get rich instead of telling us not to lie.  … oops, there’s that stick again. I’ll put it away.

I have another blog here. It’s a project blog and I refuse to claim that it will make any sense to anyone but me, but I have posted some fiction there if you are interested. At one time, all my fiction was there, but I started submitting a good deal of it to publications, so I took it all down. As I get rejected, I’ll end up posting the rejects here for your enjoyment. P.S. please do not search for A.K. Thorne, he doesn’t like you. I like you though, and I don’t have the death sentence on twelve systems … just two, thanks.

What you can expect here is sarcasm and dry wit as it pleases thee. I was always more Marx Bros than Three Stooges, and way more Wodehouse than McGill. I read as much, if not more, than I write. One day, I’ll tell you about my Book Queue, the world’s most inefficient and unsatisfying method of exposure to all genres of literature ever devised. I invented it.

Please, enjoy. And if the tickle ill befits the itch, there are always SIXTY HORSES WEDGED IN A CHIMNEY.

Why Sci-Fi?

My first short story was about a psychologist employed at a research facility in Southwestern Colorado. His employer was funded by the government to research ways to manipulate a human’s perceptions of his own reality through drugs and what was known as the Dream Room, basically a 30×30 room with wall to wall 3D screens and interactive 4D holographic images. The patients were put into the room and then shown whatever series of images the researchers thought would work best to manipulate the patients’ perception of reality.

It was garbage. I thought it was brilliant at the time though. And the last line, “Her smile faded over and over again, forever.” Well, I thought it was gold. I may let you read it sometime.

That’s science fiction. I didn’t think it so at the time, but everything I write is science fiction.

Is it a preference? A moral imperative? An uncontrollable urge?

I think it just happens that way. It’s the language by which I communicate difficult ideas to people I think may have more difficulty coming to terms with them than I do. Do I think I’m smarter than my readers? Absolutely not, and that’s why I prevent myself from writing some days. I’m afraid my readers are more intelligent than I am.

Consider H.G. Wells and Jules Verne – who some consider the Fathers of Science Fiction. Their works weren’t about the technology presented, it was about mankind and how he would react in the presence of such changes. Would he change? Or would he stagnate and impede the progress of his species?

You should read The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells.

To me, science fiction is not about the setting, the characters, the technology. It’s not robots, aliens, spaceships, lasers. A work, to me, qualifies as science fiction if it poses a question that we have yet to answer as a species – that one day we must answer as a species.

The truth of our present is not in our past, it is in our future. Our worth should not be based on what we have done, but what we have the potential to do.

There is no greater commentary on both our past and present than our possible future.

We equate success to wealth, power, and fame – not vision, creativity, imagination.

We waste a great deal of time defending the traditions of generations long past as the road map to our future. We concern ourselves with where we sit in comparison with the rest of the world, and where we came from, when our lives should be dedicated to progress – the forward motion of our species into the frontier that lies just beyond where we’ve become comfortable existing.

The human species’ worst enemy is the human species we were yesterday.

We have allowed this idea of permanence to pervade and infect our culture, whether social, civil, military, corporate, or spiritual. We find contentment and then vehemently protest the movement away from that comfort zone. That … is … stagnation. We find our cash cow, and then rail against the cash machine. We inherit a prime location, and we won’t part with it for FEAR that we might not find something better.

I listen to a lot of news radio and I’m disturbed by the amount of paid advertising the oil corporations are putting out there pushing and pushing for continued support of their livelihood, regardless of its effect on the environment, more advanced initiatives, cleaner technology. It sickens me. It is the equivalent of the horse trader sabotaging the steam engine. The pickaxe maker spreading rumors about the dangers of mining machinery. The abacus entrepreneur swearing that the calculator causes cancer. The Flat-Earth believer stoning Copernicus. The monotheist tribe slaughtering the polytheist tribe.

The Promethean flame evolves, and we must evolve with it, eagle be damned.

That is why sci-fi.