Epic Anticipation

I expect big things this next year.

2013, among other things, will be the year I complete my first novel.

It will also be the year I definitely pay off my car, possibly enroll in school again, and perhaps get one or two of my short pieces published.

Those are big things. I’m not making resolutions – I’m telling you what is going to happen.

In addition to those big things, here are some little things that I also plan to change in 2013 about myself and my life:

1. I will take more pictures and document the epic journey that will be my life with the woman I love more than anything else in the universe.

2. I’m going to change the look and feel of my blog. This dark theme seems old and I think I’m done being dark and mysterious.

3. I’m going to do a better job of writing non-fiction blogs. I typically just write spontaneously and post without edits. While that has been somewhat effective, I realize that I can say more if I take time to construct posts instead of slapping them together on a whim.

4. I will continue to attempt to rekindle the geek flame I’ve let sit smoldering inside since grade school. I’ve reached a point that I realize how much I’ve missed in abandoning the culture in response to the negative reactions of certain peers and former friends. I never gave up gaming, but four years ago I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a Star Wars shirt, or telling people that I love Inuyasha and Cowboy Bebop, or that I own a repeatedly watched DVD of Unico and the Island of Magic, or that I have a room full of Star Wars and Marvel Legos, or that my girlfriend and I watch Star Trek in bed at night, or that I walk in MMOs, or that I know who Paste-Pot Pete is, or that I sometimes pretend I’m the 37th Doctor, or that I’m seriously considering getting the Seal of Rassilon tattooed on my back along with ancient symbols for “fortune and glory, kid … fortune and glory”.

5. I’m going to make a concerted effort at reaching the pinnacle of good health, as much as is possible for a 35-year-old male who is currently just under 200 lbs and rarely exercises anymore.

6. I will strive be the person today that I feel I am meant to be tomorrow, and never the person I was yesterday.

It’s been a good year.

 

 

The Inner Wild: Family Feud

[Instead of approaching this linearly, I’m writing bits and pieces of it in different time periods. The commentary that book-ends this story takes place well before what I consider the “present” of the universe, some time before the Lunar Massacre but obviously after the Solarians, whereas the hearing itself took place before the Solarians, and consequently before the Inner Wild became the lawless hell that required the intervention of the Solarians in the first place.

I have two more existing pieces after this that connect to the Inner Wild universe, and possibly one that I can convert. I’m trying to decide whether to continue writing Inner Wild stories, or complete my Verse stories. I will decide by January 1.]

You will find it difficult to fault the Earth-born for creating the perpetual struggle of the opposites – the universe, in its entirety, is a study in opposition. The Earth disaster is a demonstration of how opposition must find a way to evolve or risk cataclysmic cancellation. Schools of thought must branch, philosophies must bear the fruits of new growth, dogmas must shift. If there’s one thing the Cole-Fitzgerald feud has taught us, it is, simply: old habits can be immortal.

Earth: The Final Thirty Years, Milton Gregory, Outer Imperial historian

Excerpt from the Cole-Fitzgerald Hearings, 5th Sector High Imperial court, Ganymede

Imperial Executor Thomas’s questioning of Albert Cole, only survivor of the Cole Dynasty:

Imperial Executor Thomas (hereafter identified as I.E.T.): Let me start by reiterating that it is this court’s opinion that the events that transpired exactly three Earth-years ago do fall within the jurisdiction of the Outer Empire and that all decisions reached by this body are binding to any parties involved, regardless of affiliation with the Independent Systems Accord or any other agreement not recognized expressly by the Imperial Charter.

Ambassador Gremaine (Former Ambassador to Imperial Interests, West Earth Democracy, hereafter identified as A.G.): As the remaining governmental representative of Earth, I must object to this hearing and counsel Mr. Cole not to answer any questions put forth to him as part of these proceedings.

I.E.T.: Objection noted and overruled. Mr. Cole, you will answer the questions to the best of your ability, is that understood?

Albert Cole (hereafter identified as A.C.): Understood, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, please tell the court where you were during the disaster on Earth.

A.C.: I was stationed on Luna with my unit, the 133rd Lunar Guard, on Lunar Base Gamma Three.

I.E.T: You are the commander for that unit. Is that correct?

A.C.: That is correct.

I.E.T: Mr. Cole, would you please explain the mission the 133rd Lunar guard was engaged in during the A4403 Collision?

A.C.: I am not authorized to divulge that information, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Your government is no longer extant. Your rank is no longer valid, and any classified data you hold is to be divulged at this hearing if we so order you to divulge it.

A.G.: Objection. The West Earth Democracy is still an operating governmental body, in accord with the Independent Systems –

I.E.T.: The Independent Systems Accord is dissolved, and you, Mr. Gremaine are hereby stripped of any title afforded to you as part of its statutes. Your presence here is by the generosity of this court alone, and may be revoked as I see fit. Do you have any further objections?

A.G.: No, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, please answer the question.

A.C.: My unit’s mission was to direct A4403 on its collision course with Earth.

I.E.T.: How many asteroids and sub-planetoids were being directly controlled by your unit?

A.C. My unit was only assigned to track and direct A4403.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, I find this very interesting. It has come to this court’s attention that during the last days of Earth’s habitability, the Cole and Fitzgerald Dynasties had over three hundred and fifty asteroids on trajectories that would impact the planet’s surface. Is that a correct assessment?

A.C.: That is correct.

I.E.T.: It has also come to this court’s attention that these hostilities were part of a premeditated and carefully orchestrated campaign designed and agreed upon by both dynasties. Is that also correct?

A.C.: Yes, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, this court has extensively analyzed the documentation outlining this campaign. Of the full list of asteroids and sub-planetoids used in this orchestration by your dynasty, all but one are listed in detail and trajectory. Can you tell us why A4403 was omitted from the list your dynasty submitted to the Fitzgeralds?

A.C.: I did not realize it was omitted from that list, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, I have a mission dossier in my possession that includes documents you were given prior to the execution of your mission. These documents clearly describe the trajectories of all inbound asteroids and sub-planetoids in the joint operation, and also goes onto provide specific instructions for your unit to avoid all possible interference by intersection of all, and I quote “predescribed objects that might jeopardize the impact of the undisclosed A4403 with the planet’s surface.”

A.C.: Your Honor, I was unaware that –

A.G.: This court does not have jurisdiction to reveal the military secrets of –

I.E.T.: Mr. Gremaine, you were warned. Guards, please remove Mr. Gremaine from these proceedings and any further statements by Mr. Gremaine are to be stricken from record.

Damon Fitzgerald (hereafter identified as D.F.): Your Honor, I would like to personally question Mr. Cole on this subject, if I may.

I.E.T.: Mr. Fitzgerald, while the court recognizes your position as last surviving member of your dynasty, this hearing is not an arena for the resolution of personal grudges.

[public address system mute for court official conference]

I.E.T.: It is the opinion of this court that you are to be recognized and given the floor for questioning.

D.F.: Mr. Cole, was it or was it not your dynasty’s intent to purposefully destroy the planet’s surface?

A.C.: I refuse to answer questions from an animal in a court of human law, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Keep your commentary to yourself and answer his question.

D.F.: Thank you, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Fitzgerald, you are not in a position to be granted any more latitude than you have already been given. If your line of questioning does not follow that already preliminarily deposed, it will be stricken from the record regardless of any revelations it brings to light. Mr. Cole, answer his question.

A.C.: I’m not privy to the reasons behind the decisions my dynasty makes in regards to military missions I’m assigned.

I.E.T.: Did you or did you not purposefully direct A4403 on its collision course with Earth, knowing full well that the Fitzgerald Dynasty would not have the resources to destroy it outside of the atmosphere?

A.C.: I did, your Honor. However, I would urge the court to examine the Fitzgerald Dynasty military intelligence for evidence of a similar tactic.

I.E.T.: This hearing is directed towards testimony by you alone, Mr. Cole.

A.C.: Ambassador Gremaine has evidence of –

[Damon Fitzgerald, at this time during the hearing, fired an improvised plasma weapon at Albert Cole, then turned the weapon on himself, taking his own life. Records of this hearing cease after lockdown of the Imperial Court was ordered shortly following the murder-suicide perpetrated by Damon Fitzgerald. No further hearings were conducted and the Cole-Fitzgerald case was closed after no surviving parties were available for testimony or pursuance of legal action]

***

It is interesting to note that the events that transpired during this hearing marked the end of the Cole and Fitzgerald Dynasties. Neither dynasty, both of whose lineage goes back to pre-nuclear Earth, had suspected the other of treachery after so many years of rehearsed and choreographed military campaigns.In the end, it was determined that both dynasties had undocumented asteroids set on collision courses with Earth, both set to impact the Home Sectors of each others families. While one impact would not have been enough to make Earth uninhabitable, both impacts together created an extinction-level event. It was this final conflict, taking place in Imperial Court and not on the battlefields of the Inner Wild, that sparked the degradation of the Inner Wild to the hell it would become before the coming of [ENTRY DELETED BY IMPERIAL DECREE S7-12366]

Earth: The Final Thirty Years, Milton Gregory, Outer Imperial historian

More Progress

At the first of December, you may remember me telling you that one of my pieces had made it past the first round of readings at a science fiction magazine.

I haven’t made that big a deal of it. I often forget that its floating out there and not getting submitted elsewhere.

I learned early after the first few rejections for this one story that this process can be random. You have to make it past an initial reader who may or may not be a writer themselves. You are blind to that person’s personal tastes – they may hate robot stories, or think that science fiction has to be big words, big science, and big ideas. You never know who that first person is going to be, but most likely it won’t be the same kind of writer/reader that the final editor, the last barrier to publication,  will be. You may have written the greatest science fiction masterpiece in the last decade, but if you can’t get it past that first reader, its going nowhere.

My three pieces have gone nowhere. I’ve received the occasional personal response, and they’ve been extremely informative, but for the most part, I’ve only received form letters:

“Sorry, this isn’t a good fit for us …”

“We cannot find a place for this piece in our publication …”

“This isn’t quite what we are looking for … ”

It wasn’t until December that I received my first bit of good news:

“Just a note to let you know that your submission had passed its initial reading … we are now considering it for publication … ”

So I made it past one reader … that doesn’t mean as much as the uninitiated might think. It gets my piece past one brain and in front of a few more. That’s even more opportunity for people to find something wrong with it. Maybe that first reader is just overly fond of robots stories, or isn’t that great a filter for the magazine. Maybe that one reader lets just about any piece through.

And that’s emotional and mental gravity pulling me towards self-initiated failure.

While I’d love to be the guy that is confident and thinks he’s the best no matter what, I am sometimes inexorably drawn towards self-deprecating inner monologues that cause the momentum of my path through life to be overwhelmed by the gravity of negative thought.

I want to be able to provide myself with my own momentum, my own internal velocity to escape from the pull of those kind of thoughts …

… but sometimes it helps to see things like:

“Just informing you that your submission has passed the second round of readings … your submission is now on our shortlist …”

And yes, I did get that very email today. Reaching escape velocity in …

3…

2…

1…

 

 

The Inner Wild

I began this project this past summer, wrote a few connecting pieces to it, then abandoned it.

I still think its worth pursuing. I love space westerns. I sometimes wish I’d been born about 20 to 30 years earlier just so I could have seen the pulp fiction golden years personally.

The Inner Wild, in the series, refers to the lawless wasteland the inner planets of the Solar system have become. A reverse frontier in a way.

This is the prologue.

—-

For mankind, there is always a frontier. Outwardly, our species has expanded and colonized; our ships have grown bigger and faster. Inwardly, man has the potential to be something more than he was the day before. Our truth, here in the Inner Wild, is that God has taken the outer infinity away from us. In here, we live on the edge of our own humanity.

– Jasper Grey, excerpt from Address to the 1st Revolutionary Council, one day prior to the Lunar Massacre.

Rance Talbot waited impatiently for the gravity lift to descend. It had taken him thirty cycles to traverse the thoroughfares of this quadrant of the Magnabridge during rush hour. Prior to that, his shuttle had been delayed between Outer Six Station, where he worked, and the Magnabridge rotating around Imperial Ganymede. He had been detained at the entryway to the Ganymedian Academy due to technical difficulties with the Identification Scanner. Finally, he had run toward an empty gravity lift only to have it blast away from its pad before he reached the sensor perimeter that would have halted it.

He eyed the massive orb of Jupiter rolling casually by, outside the safety of the Magnabridge. While he did not dislike the Jovian sector of the Outer Empire, he preferred Saturn and specifically Titan, where he had grown up.

The gravity lift returned with a thump, and Rance mounted the disk, sliding his shoes over the magnetized footguides until he felt his heels pulled down flat. The lift shot upwards with little warning, and Rance felt a momentary dizziness as he rocketed upwards into the Main Concourse of the Academy.

Still gazing at Jupiter, Rance reminded himself that he really needed to take a vacation and take his son, Luther, to see Titan before the Saturnian winters.

With a rush of air, Rance’s lift stopped at the concourse. Quickly, he stepped away and made his way towards the Administration Center, just opposite the gravity lifts.

Rance had only been to the Academy twice, once to tour the facility before sending his only son to be educated there, and again in response to a disciplinary hearing scheduled by one of his son’s teachers.

Today, he had been summoned for another disciplinary hearing.

***

“I don’t see what’s wrong with the paper, Mrs. James,” Rance said honestly. “I couldn’t write much better at his age, and I was the best of my class in writing.”

Mrs. James crinkled her brow in agitation. She had assumed any adult would have immediately noticed what was wrong with Luther’s paper. Sighing, an action that caused her small frame to expand rather unnaturally before deflating, she responded, “It is not the quality that is the issue, Mr. Talbot. It is the content.” She inclined her head slightly as she spoke the last sentence, as if proud she had made such a statement.

“I’m at a loss. My kid can’t have a bunch of mythological warriors as heroes? Is that not what the assignment was?”

“The assignment was to write about their living heroes – people in their day-to-day life that inspired them to be better humans, Mr. Talbot. Your son has chosen to cite the Solarians as his heroes.”

“So he picked some legends. Maybe he’s saying there’s no one he finds inspiring that’s living.”

“Mr. Talbot, I am unsure of what sort of morals and ethics are taught in the Saturnian sector, but here on Ganymede, we follow Imperial Law to the letter. The Solarian mythos is banned from public mention. Any person heard speaking of them, or seen writing material mentioning them, is to be reported for apprehension immediately.”

Rance narrowed his eyes at the diminutive educator before him. “Where’s my son?”

“I have not reported your son, Mr. Talbot, but I regret to inform you that he is to be expelled. His belongings have been packed and are waiting for you along with your son at the entryway to the Academy.”

Rance stood up, rage inciting his muscles to clench tightly.

“As I’m sure you remember from the contract you signed, any breach of Academy Guidelines or Imperial Law on campus by any student is punishable by instantaneous expulsion and revocation of any refund of tuition.”

“Over a bunch of dead heroes?” Rance replied incredulously.

Now it was Mrs. James turn to redden with rage. She stood quickly from her desk and hovered her finger over the Security Call button. “You are lucky I don’t do my duty as an Imperial Ganymedian and have you imprisoned, Mr. Talbot. The Lunar Massacre might have only been a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean what it taught the Empire has faded. You would do well to start acting like a citizen of the Outer Empire and keep your son’s thoughts from that hell beyond the asteroid belt.”

Rance seethed momentarily beneath the glare he cast at her, then turned to leave, kicking his chair aside as he departed.

***

“I’m not upset with you, Luther,” Rance said to his seven-year-old son as they rode the shuttle back to Outer Six Station.

“Then why haven’t you said anything to me since we left the Academy?” Luther asked. His eyes were red from recent crying and his hair was a mess from burying his head in his arms for the previous hour of the shuttle trip.

Rance sighed and turned to his son. Smiling, he tried to press the wild hairs down to no avail. “Luther, what happened today was not your fault. People in the Jovian sector are very sensitive about certain things.”

“Like the Solarians?”

“Like the Solarians.”

“Do you like the Solarians, dad?” Luther asked, biting his lip in trepidation.

“I used to have a book about them when I was about your age,” Rance said, turning his gaze to the massive orange planet outside his window. “It was my most prized possession. Old style books like that are very rare.”

“Really? A book?” Luther replied, his eyes brightening so much that it seemed his sudden elation had evaporated every trace of sadness.

“Really.”

Rance smirked uncontrollably, remembering his youth, remembering immersing himself in the tales of the old Inner Wild, before the massacre.

“Would you like me to tell you the story again?” Rance asked.

Luther nodded his head so fast, it seemed it might break away from his neck.

Looking around, Rance verified that no one was in earshot, then he began in a whisper:

“Once upon a time, in the Inner Wild, long before the Outer Empire, there was a planet called Earth. The Solar system was filled with evil men, all profiteers looking to grow rich off the vast resources of the planets and their satellites. One day, two groups of men fought a war of such magnitude that they destroyed the surface of the planet Earth and made it uninhabitable. The Earth had been the center of human government at the time, and once destroyed, the Solar system descended into chaos.”

“And then?” Luther asked, anticipating the next part.

“And then, a group of Colonial Rangers, protectors of the human race, took it upon themselves to restore order to the Solar system – seeking out injustice, righting wrongs, defeating tyrants, and freeing those enslaved. In the beginning there were twenty -”

Knowing the rest, Luther joined with his father.

“- and before the end, there were only nine. They tamed the Inner Wild and brought peace to the Solar system. No one alive remembers their names, but to those who are the descendants of those they saved, they are known as the Solarians.”

Rance and his son smiled at each other for the first time in a long time.

“I don’t need the Academy to tell me your brilliant, Luther. We don’t need them at all,” the father said, ruffling his son’s hair.

Their shuttle continued its short jaunt to Outer Six Station, the orange glow of Jupiter reflecting off its passenger windows.

“So you think Earth and the Solarians really existed, dad?”

“If you believe in them, Luther. Only if you believe in them.”

Akinesiac

Progress is relative.

In just two weeks, I’ve conquered the Adventures of Lolo 1, 2, and 3.

This weekend, I finally finished the main quest of Skyrim.

A week ago, my team in NHL 13 broke .500 for the first time, just in time for a playoff run.

I have less than 100 words left to read in Sandworms of Dune. That’s the entire Dune series now (minus Sisterhood, which I’ll read next)

My novel is 2/3 complete and I can now finish it the way I intended.

I have two short fiction pieces in the slush, and one that’s made it through and is still alive.

I met my soulmate and final companion and we totally kicked Christmas’s ass this year. We bought someone Star Wars Legos and I got some for me too (still need the Death Star though)

I’ve either watched or read the novelization (where the episodes are lost forever) of every Doctor Who episode from An Unearthly Child through the Curse of Peladon. I’ll be caught up by the end of 2013, I’ll wager.

I’ve now read approximately the first 800 Marvel comics starting with Fantastic Four #1 (Excluding Millie the Model, any westerns, and other non-superhero publications) since August 2011. I just finished Amazing Spider-Man #66 when Mysterio apparently shrinks Spider-Man down to six inches. I don’t have a favorite superhero yet, but I like Buscema’s Sub-Mariner, and Romita’s Spidey. My affection for Jack Kirby is now waning and I sadly look forward to his move to DC … I’m just tired of those faces, man.

I love Tubeway Army.

I became obsessed with Ink Master.

I’ve nearly finished Season One of Fringe.

I’ve now seen every Star Trek: TOS, TAS, and TNG episode ever. I’m three episodes into Season Two of DS9.

I’ve finished, legitimately, Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, and Link’s Awakening. Castlevania, Metroid, 8 Eyes, 3D Worldrunner, 1943, AD&D Dragon Strike, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, A Boy and his Blob, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Adventures of Dino Riki, Super Mario Bros 1, 2, 3, World, Land, and Yoshi’s Island, Mega Man 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,  and Wizards and Warriors.

I also rocked the Mass Effect series straight through for my soulmate.

It’s been a good year … but compared to where I’m going to go …

I haven’t moved.

Frozen Texas Summer

 

And finally, here is my last transplant from the Reliquary. It’s cold in Texas today – so appropriate, yes.

When I say that some of this really happened, I mean it.  Except that I’m the one who tortured Destro for information.

[Some of this really happened, but most of did not. I always wanted to write a Texas Summer piece, and this is just my first attempt. There will be more]

Time hates a Texas Summer. This rock we eat, sleep, and fornicate on careens through another cloud of debris and our eyes widen at the sight of meteors streaking through the skies. But time loathes our memories of this passage. Time takes our firefly dreams and throws them into the grass. Time kicks our childhood into glowing smears in the high grass.

There is one Texas Summer that time cannot kill.

The boys and I had managed to rig an old washing machine inside a tractor wheel using lots of Crazy George’s duct tape we stole and some abandoned extension cords. I still had a crush on Gina that summer, but it would fade after she put her palm on that asp later that year while climbing Crazy George’s oak. I guess George got his revenge on us through that fuzzy demon. I couldn’t tell you then why that scream of agony from that little girl turned me off of her.

Damaged goods, I guess.

We meticulously filled the washing machine with as many pillows as we could and still leave room for a body. I took my mother’s throw pillows without her knowing, but in the end they always know. I didn’t get the belt that night, I got the paddle.

Texas summer is a cacophony of cicada madness. You start to hear it even when its not there. Your sprints through the high grass send swarms of bugs into the big sky, and some days, the bugs are the only clouds to see.

Adam took the first roll, and what a terrible racket that contraption made as we pushed it over the precipice of the hill behind the old Ford dealership. We knew our time was limited, so we yanked Adam’s crumpled body out of the machine and set him aside. It took us another fifteen minutes just to haul the contraption back up the hill.

I wanted to go next, but Gabe was already in, his coonskin cap cocked sideways over his frighteningly blonde hair.

A week earlier Gabe had eaten a bunch of angel dust that Mike Cheevers had given him under the juniper tree at the corner of the Burnside fence. Gabe didn’t know it was just a bunch of pixi stix powder, but he still managed a convincing performance all the same. A few years later, Mike Cheevers gave him some meth and now Gabe’s lost.

Years later you find a reason to hate the trailer park crowd, though as kids, they’re just as daredevil as any suburbanite wanna-be. I don’t blame Mike, I blame Gabe’s preacher father.

When it came my turn, most of the duct tape had come loose, so we found some old chain in Crazy George’s shed to secure our mad scientist machine.

The door had been ripped off when Gabe finally had his turn, so when I first felt my stomach float up into my throat as the tire began its death roll down the long hill, I could see the world on spin-cycle. With a metallic clang, the washing machine broke loose and separated from its partner. My arms and head went out the hole and I got tangled in the flailing chain. The other end of was still attached to the tractor tire and it yanked my shoulder hard enough that it popped.

My ride ended in a heap of rubber and rusty metal with me at the bottom.

I felt the flush of boyhood pride. The bigger the crash, the bigger the bragging rights. I was still bearing rights on having touched a girl’s breast first out of all of us from earlier that month, so I was doubly proud. Taylor Boggs’s sister was a few years older than us. She had her hair cut short and wore jean shorts that her ass cheeks hung out of. Her breasts were small and hard, but that doesn’t mean much when you’re a young boy. She told me she’d let me touch them because I was special. Ten years later, I asked her again and she admitted that I was the only male to ever touch them. This upset her lesbian lover.

Once the boys pulled me out of the wreckage, a handful of parents had arrived, but none of them were mine. My daddy was still sleeping off a cocaine-laden gig night, so Adam’s mother laid down the law on me. She punished us with double-stick popsicles out of her coffin freezer. They were just the right temperature to freeze your tongue.

Crazy George had a son, Jacob,  that was in high school. Occasionally, he’d come out and play Star Wars or G.I. Joe with us, but mostly we only knew he still existed by the sound of his father screaming at him. We used to hide under the bushes right under Jacob’s window and listen to the violent spats. Sometimes Jacob would play Yes or King Crimson or Jimi Hendrix or some other musician we were too young to appreciate.

“Hey kids,” he said to us that afternoon. My lips were still stained purple from the tongue-freezing punishment. “Come play outside my window for a bit.”

I guess we gave him funny looks, because he tried to explain:

“I just need to hear some happiness outside my window right now.”

What the hell did we know about melancholy? We were kids.

Gabe grabbed his AT-AT and I dug Bazooka and his men out of Mr. Kemp’s sand pile where we’d left them. It was to be a brilliant battle.

Adam had Cobra Commander setting up a bush base with Beastor and Hordak, and I took Zartan and Ponda Baba over to the storm drain where they were going to launch an assault against Gabe’s AT-AT.

Music started to play, but we ignored it.

Gabe set fire to a stick and tortured Destro for information as somewhere someone might have insisted it took place in the court of the Crimson King.

We had never heard a shotgun blast up close before. The window shattered and Jacob’s broken skull lolled backwards through it spilling his melancholy brains onto Cobra Commander’s strategically sound bush base.

I remember looking down at bloody glass on my dirty legs.

King Crimson played on for a long time as we sat there, stunned. We knew we had just grown up in a matter of seconds.

Crazy George stared at us through the window and I’ve never seen an adult show fear like that ever again.

Maybe it wasn’t Gina’s scream that turned me off after the asp incident, maybe it was the fact that I’ve always needed to scream since that Texas Summer and I never have.

Damaged goods, I guess.

Time hates a Texas Summer.

But this is one Texas Summer that time will never kill.

The one thing I remember about that Texas Summer…

…is that it was so fucking hot.