Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seeing Eye Parapalegic

The wooden door resonated deeply with the knock, just like always. Jay didn't turn his head. “Hey, Monty.”
“Jay, open the door. It's one of those infernal outward-swinging ones.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” He stood and opened the door. His brother rolled inside and switched on the light.
“Thank you.” Monty wheeled himself calmly to the table and Jay sat back down.
“No problem. So, what brings you off campus?”
“Just seeing what you're up to. Reading?” Monty glanced towards the braille book in front of his brother.
“Yeah. 'Hamlet.' Gear was complaining about it. Apparently it's an assignment.”
“Does he know that Facet is his English teacher?”
“Nope. I don't think she knows he's her student either.”
“I'd like to see them when they find out,” mused Monty.
“You'd like to see Sonya at all.” Jay gave what he imagined to be a mischievous grin. Monty glared at him.
“Riiight. You think I like her, little brother? Your mind reading has failed you this time.”
Jay shook his head. “Don't think so. Anyway, how's the math?”
“Same as always. Joyce from Physics won a big award last week, but everyone still hates her class.”
“And you won the student's choice award again?”
“The final results aren't in yet, but I can't roll two feet across campus without someone telling me they voted 'Professor K all the way.'”
“Creative. Just the math majors, or everyone?”
“Mostly math majors, but I've had quite a few that I only saw for introductory stats. I think it was one of the art students that's been putting up the posters all over campus.”
“Yeah, just a drawing of me and the slogan in big orange letters. There's a couple hundred of them.”
“Ooh, does everyone else call that cheating?”
“No, they know I had nothing to do with the posters.”
“But you had something to do with the rally.”
“Not voluntarily,” Monty admitted. He realized something. “Wait a minute, how'd you know about that?”
“I have my ways.” Jay leaned back in his chair with his customary smile.
“You have a source is what you have,” muttered Monty, “and one of these days I'm going to figure out who it is.”
“Anyway, what were you saying?”
“My appearance at that rally was not voluntary. My wheelchair was hijacked by a robotics major.”
“And they made me roll right onto the stage in front of a thousand cheering students. So I waved.”
Monty glared again, despite knowing that Jay couldn't see him. “One of these days I'm going to find your source, you know this? And they made me do skate tricks in my wheelchair.”
“Now that was voluntary.”
“Ok, maybe it was. A little. But I did not voluntarily attend or condone the rally. The faculty knows that; in fact, it was one of the engineering professors that helped me disassemble the remote control. He said that he'd give the student an A for it, in fact. Apparently I was hijacked by someone fairly skilled.”
Another knock at the door made Monty look up.
“Jay? You home?” asked a female voice.
Jay smiled, and whispered, “Did I mention that a certain Dr. Sonya DuBoise lives two doors down?”
Monty paled. “No, you failed to mention that,” he said weakly.
“I'm home, just give me a minute to get to the door,” said Jay, loud enough for Sonya to hear.
“How do I look?” whispered Monty. Jay raised one eyebrow. “Ok, ok, fine.” Jay stood up to let her in. “Wait, no, not yet! I'm not prepared, I...”
Jay smiled and put his hand to the doorknob. “If you don't want her to see you,” he whispered smugly, “hide.”
Monty wished fervently that he hadn't worn shorts and a completely unsuitable t-shirt; also, that he could stand up and whack his brother on the head. He could do neither, so he rolled backwards into the closet and shut the door. “You are so not funny.”
Jay calmly opened the door and smiled. “Sorry about that. What did you need?”
“I was just wondering if you had seen... I mean, encountered my cat.”
“The walking dust mop?”
“I suppose you could call him that.”
“Third floor laundry room, yesterday morning. I'm afraid to say he completely evaded my stick. Our encounter was less than pleasant.”
“Oh, terribly sorry about that. Any idea where he went?”
“None, sorry.”
“Well, thank you for your help.” She glanced around. “Hey, your lights are on. Did you have a visitor?”
Monty breathed in sharply, and whispered, “No. No you do not have a visitor.”
Jay, of course, could hear him. Sonya couldn't. “No, I don't. I had the light on for the seeing eye dog.” Monty had to resist smacking himself in the face. This could not go well for him.
“You have a seeing eye dog?”
“Just got him. His name is Gomery.”
“Well, I hope he likes cats.”
“Oh, he loves cats. But I don't think I'll be keeping him for much longer.”
“Really? Is he not trained right?”
“I suppose he's alright. He stops and starts when he's supposed to.”
“What's wrong with him, then?”
“Well, he has no fashion sense, for one. Matched spots with stripes.”
Sonya gave him a strange look. “How would you know?”
“I have my ways. And he tells the worst jokes.”
“Your seeing eye dog tells jokes?”
“If you prefer to call them that, yes.”
“You're taking your seeing eye dog back because you don't like his jokes.”
“And because he's thoroughly immobile. Couldn't keep up with me if I carried him.” Monty glared at Jay through the door.
“Oh, well, I suppose that's a good enough reason. Where is he?”
“He's in the closet, resting.”
“Can I see him?”
“I don't know, let me ask.” Jay walked over to the door and knocked. “Gomery, would you like to come out and see Sonya?” Sonya watched incredulously as Jay waited expectantly. “At least answer me, Gomery.”
Monty silently cursed his brother. “Bark bark. Bark. Bark bark bark woof.”
Jay gave a small smug smile at the door before turning back to Sonya apologetically. “He says he's too tired. Terribly sorry.”
“No, that's ok. I'm... I'm gonna go look for my cat now.”
“Right. I'll see you later then!”
Jay shut the door after her. Monty rolled out of the closet and glared at him. “You... That was....”
“That,” replied his brother smugly, “was for the mashed potatoes. Now what were you saying about not liking Sonya?”

Random short. Just figuring out how these two interact.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Missing Christmas

So I'm in Arkansas as I write this, as I have been for the past five-ish months. Now, don't get me wrong, Arkansas isn't that bad of a place by any standard; I have a roof over my head, three meals a day, and seventeen billion (or so it would seem) hours of homework a night. In fact, the biggest thing wrong with Arkansas is the fact that it is not, through no fault of its own, Colorado.
Now, I understand that I chose to come here. And I understand that I'm choosing to come back in January. But at the moment, I'm wishing, rather forlornly, that I wasn't here, and that I had chosen to go to a school in Colorado instead.
Why? Because as I said before, Arkansas is not Colorado. In fact, it's very much not Colorado (You call these mountains? More like "largish hills.") And as it is not Colorado, many of the things that I'm used to happening in Colorado do not happen here.
Things like snow. Now, a few weeks ago, everyone was all excited because it had snowed. I got kinda excited, so I went to my window and looked out.
That was not snow. That was thickish frost. It was thickish patchy frost at best. It didn't even stick to the sidewalks. Laaaame.
Now, Colorado has snow. Snow means winter, winter means Christmas, unless you happen to be in pre-Aslan narnia.
Arkansas does not have snow. Therefore, it stands to reason that it is not winter (it is a nuclear apocalypse and all the trees have died), and therefore, there will be no Christmas. Santa Clause does not exist. Rudolf is a lie. And Frosty the snowman? Yeah, right.
This makes getting into the holiday spirit difficult, to say the least. The hall decorations are helping, but until frozen whiteness falls out of the ceiling (at which point I am MOVING OUT), it ain't the holidays that I'm used to.
But snow's not the only thing that's missing from Christmas down here. There's also a crucial lack of Girl Scout related excursions (though I got at least one of those over thanksgiving), assorted madness trying to get Operation Christmas Child together, and staring suspiciously at mysterious packages that arrive in the mail and are rapidly whisked away to the magical land of wherever mom hides stuff. This was supposed to be happening all through the month of November, eventually leading up to the annual deciding not to get a real tree this year and decorating three smaller ones to look like a big one. Yes, true holiday traditions. And all they have in Arkansas is ice and paper snowflakes.
But what I really miss, surprisingly, is one of the things that I least looked forward to when I had the option. Wrapping books at Borders with my girl scout troop. Getting stiffed by the lady with five oddly shaped books who's yakking on her cell phone the whole time and running out of tape at crucial moments isn't something you'd think I'd miss, but it is. At least, right now. Maybe in a few minutes I'll be missing having a heater that isn't schizophrenic, or pretending that my mom doesn't already know everything she's getting. Who knows. But right now, I'm missing Borders, and I'm missing it like crazy.
The sad thing is, it's one of those things that even if I had stayed in Colorado, I wouldn't be doing. My girl scout troop is done. Over with. Graduated. I don't usually adress real life stuff here, but it's happened. And even if we do get together to go to the mall once in a while, we will never do another fundraiser. That includes Borders, and all the cell phone yakking, odd shaped presents, reciept not-having and tape running out of that comes with it.
Somehow, I miss it.
It's hard to grow up in Christmastime.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Magician's Grave

I stand here, waiting. Waiting for what, I don't know. Magic, maybe.
I stand where his grave should be. He has no grave, but here is where it would be, on a hill, looking away from the city, looking up at the sky. There's a tree here instead; just starting to bloom. Ten years old.
I planted it here. When I was young, too young to really understand who he was, what death meant, who he could've been. To me, he was a friend. A mentor. A refuge, a shelter, a listening ear, a caring voice. And again, he was a friend. That meant so much to me, young though I was.
I didn't really understand what it meant to die; simply that he was gone, he was gone, he wasn't coming back ever or ever again. I couldn't see him, I couldn't speak to him, he couldn't speak to me. He was just gone; a few brief days of silent twilight until he at last slipped away, vanished into nevermore.
I remember how he died. I was there. I saw it, I remember it. I don't count those brief days of halfness in the hospital, sleeping, barely breathing, barely living. He didn't die there, that was just when the last little bit of him stuck around while the good part, the living part, the part that made him him checked to see if he was done. Had he kept all his promises, settled his affairs, fed his doves and said his goodbyes? And then he was gone, vanished. I'll never be able to explain quite what it was, just that sitting there, my little hands wrapped around his thin fingers, I looked at him, and he almost, almost, seemed to smile. Almost seemed to laugh, halfway, as the magic came to take him to be with it, his magic, my magic, the world's magic, what little of it still showed through. And then he was gone. Gone-gone, not halfway, not leaving anything to chance, not leaving anything to ordinariness. Just gone, with that last hint of laughter and the frantic panic of the machines sent by doctors and nurses to guard what little of him was left.
The others were with me, then, just as they were when he really died, for real, the first time when he stood and saved me and gave his life for mine, not twilight died in a cold white room with silent machines to watch over him. They cried with me, and took my hands, and held me, and rocked me to sleep as I cried for him, cried because I couldn't see him anymore, and I couldn't see him ever again, and that was all I understood. I didn't understand that they were crying too, and they were as lost as I.
It is doubly sad to be lost when you're a grown-up, because then there's nobody to lead you home.
But he was gone, one hundred and a half percent and never coming back, no matter how much I cried. All I have left to me are his words, his words and his scarves and his doves, and a little book with golden pages, which I gave to the inventor. But I know, somehow, the magic, his magic, my magic, is still here, in golden pages and doves and dancing stars. In the colors of the sunset, in the silent whisperings of twilight, in choice and in belief. I am not afraid.
But that's never stopped me from standing here, in front of a tree just barely in bloom, and waiting for something that I can never name. He has no grave, no gravestone, no great monument like they gave to the others. This is the only place I have to mourn for him. This is the only place anyone will ever mourn for him; I and the others who knew him. This tree is a gravestone, a living monument, sheltering doves and freely dispensing fruit and being draped in all different colors as the seasons change. Stone is dead, and he was alive, so it's alright.
It's alright.

Written while listening to this song.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Emotions suck

Emotions. Yay.
On a related note, I hate/love/loath/need you all, so go away but don't leave me and shut up and talk to me.
To anyone who may be offended by my wanton drama-queening, I'm sorry. Once I turn into a robot, I can guarantee it won't happen again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Climbing (Last and Only Friend)

I'm climbing.
It briefly enters my mind that when I reach the top, he'll kill me.
So maybe he will. So what?

He's climbing.
When he reaches the top, he'll kill me.
Maybe he will. So what?

I'm climbing.
Nothing matters anymore. Nothing. Not me, not him, not anything. Just climbing, climbing, getting to the top so he can kill me. Climbing, upward, onward, through the blinding snow. My hands are ice, my face is ice. He'll kill me, but he will only kill ice, not me. I've been dead for a long time.
So maybe I am. So what?

He's climbing.
Everything matters now. How I look, what I say, how I say it, what I think, how I breathe, everything. Just everything. He's climbing, climbing, coming the top so he can kill me. The blowing snow outside the high window swirls briefly into the dancing firelight before it disappears into the blackness of the ice outside. Somewhere, he's out there. I wonder if he's still alive. Maybe he's been dead for a long time now.
Maybe he is. So what?

Still climbing.
I pull myself onto a ledge, one that's just big enough for me to sit, to stay for a moment while I turn my hands from ice to hands again. But I can't stay for too long, all of me will turn to ice. I am already ice; my blood runs colder than the snow that melts on my skin, that sticks to my hair, that turns my black clothing into icy whiteness. I am ice. All he will kill is ice. I start for the top again.
Maybe I'll die before I get there.
I won't.

Still climbing.
I can feel my brother's blood pulsing through my own veins, getting colder and colder by the second. I move to the fireside; maybe he'll feel my warmth like I feel his cold. He's coming to kill me; his hands are ice and his blood is ice and his heart is ice. And I am fire, white hot and burning. My hands are fire, I destroy everything I touch. My blood is fire, I cannot control myself; I cannot choose what I will destroy. And my heart is fire, I cannot bear the destruction that I brought, but all I do to fix it destroys more. So I confine myself here, in this tower, on a cliff on a mountain on a snowy plain, where all is ice like my brother, and where he's coming to kill me.
Maybe he'll die before he gets here.
He won't.

I'm climbing.
My brother probably knows I'm coming. Of course he does, that's why he's going to kill me. I blow on my frosted hands whenever I get the chance, trying to warm them up. Sometimes, I'm glad the cold doesn't burn me like it does him. I can feel his warm blood in my veins, pulsing, burning, roaring through me, with that eternal fire that wanted to save the world, but instead turned it to ash. Ash. My brother. My last and only friend.
I'm climbing
So he'll kill me. So what?

He's almost here.
I pause, hesitantly, at the window. I want to open it; he's not that far yet, but... I am glad that the heat of the fire doesn't burn me like it does him, but I cannot be careful enough, I cannot know how much to hesitate. How much can he stand? He's cold, he's ice, he's frost. Frost. My brother. My last and only friend.
He's climbing.
So he'll kill me. So what?

The rock gets colder as my hand touches it.
I can feel him now, he's here, he's nearby. I'm almost to the top. My brother, my last and only friend. Ash. Ash, my brother. I'm coming, I'm climbing, I want...
I want you to kill me.
Ash, my brother. My last and only friend.
I'm climbing.

I can almost touch him now. We are linked, somehow, painfully, sorrowfully, for no two could be so alike. And yet so different. I am fire, I feel, I love and hate and change, I move, I walk and run and climb and learn by knowing, and he is ice, he stays, he reads, he feels so little and knows so much. We are brothers, but we could've been strangers. And yet somehow, painfully, sorrowfully, we are the same. I can't explain it, I never could. But now he's coming, he's coming to kill me. My brother, my last and only friend. Frost, my brother. It should me me out there climbing, and you here in this tower so far away. That is how it should be. But you're coming, you're climbing.
You're going to kill me.
You're climbing.

I'm at the top.

He's at the top.

He's going to kill me.

My brother, my last and only friend.


Inspired by this song.

The Train

I sit silently on the hill, waiting for the train.
I don't want to get on it. I never do, I never did, and I never will again. I just sit, and wait, and watch for it, just to know that it's still there, and that I'm not the only one left.
Someone has to be running the train, I know. Someone is still there.
I don't want to find them, but it's nice to know.
I can hear it coming, far away, the chug-chug-chug of the old steam engine pumping smoke and water into the air, bringing ash to settle on the trees, the empty bird's nests, the new fallen snow. The distant clacking is comforting, but I still sit, I still wait. I can see my own breath like the steam of the train.
It's getting closer. Chug-chug-chug and clack-clack-clack dance in the breathless air, spewing black warmth into the silent cold. I pull my old jacket tighter around my shoulders.
I wonder if the train will still come through here in spring.
The empty gray sky tells me a story, today, of how I should get to shelter, or I might be stuck here, sitting, waiting for the train, in the snow and ice and ash. A story of snow, and snow, and then maybe snow tomorrow. There will be no sunset today, only empty grayness fading into black.
I can almost see it now, the big black engine chug-chug-chugging it's way along the frozen tracks. Every day, a moment and an hour before sunset, it makes its way through this empty forest. Empty now, but not when it started. Not back when, way back when, before me, before my mother, before my grandmother and great grandmother and all so many years ago, back when the train was new, and the tracks shone in the sunlight. Back before the tracks were lined with ash from the train rolling by, again, again, again, and again. Back before the forest was cut, and grown, and cut, and grown, and left to rot when nothing was left, and slowly, slowly grew back, back into something that it never thought to be. It's still a forest, but it's a place for things like me.
Things with no place for them.
I rub my human hand with my other, trying to warm it. My left shoulder is cold; I can understand why. It's a problem, but not in spring, not in summer, not in fall. I can deal with it in winter. Metal is cold, always cold, but I'm ok. I'm ok now.
The train is coming still. The light shines through the blowing snow, shining on the tracks. The tracks are black now; once they shone like my left hand does now. Once back when.
I wonder, when I am as old as these tracks, will the train still come?
The engine rushes by me, finally. I can see the silhouette of the coal man, rising and falling like a clock. I know they have machines for that now, but he still rises and falls, rises and falls, moving the train with his dented shovel and blackened hands. I can't see his face, but that's alright. I just need to know he's there. I just need to know I'm not the only one left.
The cars of the train clack-clack-clack along behind the engine, staring at me with frosted windows and darkened cars. There's nobody there, not like the coal man. If there was then I would never know. But the coal man is still there, and that's enough. That's enough.
I don't need to be lonely, not anymore. I don't need to feel that way. But somehow, somehow, I do, I am. But it's better to be lonely than to pretend not to be. This is my place; there is no other for me now.
But the coal man is still there, and that's enough. That has to be enough.
So I sit silently on the hill, watching the train roll away, staring at it long after it's faded into the distance, long after the clack-clack-clack fades into the silent cold.
The train still comes. And that's enough.

I wanted to write something not quite so happy; more specifically, I wanted to write something that felt like this. Not sure that I succeeded, but at least I tried.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Solar vs Bottom Dweller

“And with a push of a button, I shall destroy your puny hydraulic dam, and destroy this city!” The man in the fish suit laughed maniacally. “And the river shall once again be free for fish to swim in! Freedom, my brethren!” He spoke to the two catfish swimming lazily around in a walking robot tank. “For I am... The bottom feeder!”
Solar could only stare. “You cannot be serious.”
“There is a fish ladder. It's not like they're stuck,” came Susan's voice from the huge robot panther beside him. “I remember I rescued a cat from it once. Dear Duplo, he was such a wonderful kitty.”
“He spit everywhere, and smelled to high heaven,” complained the robotic voice of Todomi, who was the one actually running the robot. “You said yourself that you should've left him in the fish ladder.”
“I didn't really mean that, dear, any more than I meant that I wished I'd kept the cat-cannon to launch you into the sun.”
“Focus please,” said Solar, as he watched the maniac below dance in front of his camera via which he was threatening the city; namely all four people watching his videoblog. “He might not have a brain, but he has a bomb.”
“And a rather interesting robot! Do you think we could manage not to break it, dearie?”
“Sure, why not.” Solar pulled a staff out of a beam of sunlight. “I'll distract him, you take care of the bomb.”
“Right! Let's go, Todomi!”
The agile robot leapt into the forest surrounding the dam, disappearing into shadows as Solar stepped into light. He was off and running down the slope, head down, headed straight for the fishman.
It didn't take long for the man to notice him, especially once he started attacking. “Heathen superhero! How did you find us?”
“Gee, I wonder,” said Solar, as he landed a solid hit to the man's chest, knocking him back. “It's not like three people a day threaten the dam or anything, and of course there would be no reason for someone to be up here watching for it!”
“How dare you suggest the plan of the great ones is unoriginal?!” The Bottom Dweller threw a handful of muck at Solar, which he dodged.
“Quite easily!” Solar twisted around and struck the man again. “You've put your bomb down by the generators, right next to one of the central pillars. It has a digital timer, I'm guessing.”
“You spy!”
“I'm no spy, you're unoriginal! What you fail to realize is that the pillar you intend to destroy won't actually bring down the dam! It's still structurally sound without that support!”
“That's why there are two bombs!” The fishman looked triumphant as he finally managed to hit Solar with a fistful of mud.
“On the same pillar!” Solar wiped the mud off with the back of his hand and struck again as the man squawked.
“You spy!” He struck with the fury of a thousand flopping goldfish. Solar caught his fist and twisted it around his back until he cried uncle. “I.. I surrender! You win this round, land dweller!”
“Big surprise.”
Solar stared at the robot containing the catfish tank. “Excuse me?”
“You dare surrender to this pathetic human? You make us ashamed to call you our brother.”
“I'm sorry, Oh great ones!” The man in the fish suit cowered, bowing as much as he could without breaking his still-twisted arm. “Forgive me! My human body is weak!”
“You shall pay for your disobedience!” The catfish-mobile began charging what appeared to be a high powered laser. “Now, speak your last, and be honored to do it in our presence!”
“I shall love and serve the fish of the world, even in my death!”
The robot stood high on it's spindly legs and the two catfish inside did their best to look imposing and merciless. “Now, then, die!”
Solar caught the laser beam in midair, freezing it in place.
“What is this treachery?” asked the fish.
“What is this lunacy?” countered Solar.
“The great and mighty catfish, heathen!” The man in the fish suit had regained some of his self righteous confidence. “They will transform this puny human town into the beginnings of a new Atlantis, ruled by catfish, where humans are slaves to the superior race! You shall be no more than a pebble washed away by the mighty river of their greatness! All hail the mighty...”
“Done!” Susan's robotic panther sprang out of the top of the dam. “Bomb's gone. All taken care of. How's the madman?”
“Ruled by fish.”
“All hail the mighty catfish!”
The panther gave as incredulous a stare as was possible with a robotic panther face. “Seriously?” it asked in Todomi's voice.
“Dearie, bring that fishtank robot back. I'd like a look at the robot, and I'm sure you and the other kitties wouldn't mind a snack...”
The fishtank backed away. “Do not touch the tank of the great ones, mortal... shining cat thing! For we are great, and we shall destroy you when we conquer...” It didn't get any further before the robot panther leapt. The smaller robot didn't stand a chance. It was trapped before it could even start it's laser charging.
“We'll have to leave you alone for a while, Solar. I need to take a closer look at catfish technology.”
“Right. You call Sam?”
“She's on her way with the police. Do try to be nice, dearie, the poor girl's had it rough recently.”
With that, the robot panther leapt from the dam, landing neatly on it's feet hundreds of feet below, and took off toward Susan's little cat-filled home.
“Oh, yeah...” Solar stared after it. “Right.”

Wrote this as a part of a much larger story, in which I've been making all my characters ten years older than I originally thought them up as. Apologies for the lack of conclusive ending, but it makes sense in context. For now, laugh at the insane fish cult member. And comment!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Magician's Door

The inventor slumped against the wall, staring at the wooden door. Nothing was behind it, no flying ribbons, no escaping doves, no smiling magician to burst out just as he opened the door. Nothing would fall on him, nothing would fly out at him, nothing would scare him. He knew that.
So why was he so afraid to open the door?
He stood and put his hand to the bronzed doorknob, then stared at his hand, and slumped back against the wall. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing.
The magician had nothing dangerous; the worst that he could expect was ribbon. He knew that, the man was about threatening as a basket of kittens. Or at least, he had been. Now...
He put his hand to the doorknob again. Opening the door in three, two, one...
He slumped back down, letting his hand slide from the doorknob like water. No, no, he couldn't do this. He was afraid. Why? What was so different about now? He'd never known if the magician was here...
That was it. That was what was different. That was why he was afraid.
He knew the magician wasn't here.
And that scared him.
He didn't want to walk into the empty room knowing that it would never be filled again, he didn't want to know, to see with his own eyes, to test and to verify the magician's absence. He knew it, he'd seen the man fall, but somehow, somehow...
Somehow, maybe, if he didn't open that door, the magician would still be in there. Still laughing, still smiling, still quietly reading the little book with golden pages. Still feeding the doves, opening the windows, throwing ribbon everywhere. Still living, still laughing, still loving.
And he didn't want to know that he wasn't.
Oh, he was not crying. No. No. He was not crying. He was not going to cry about this. Not because the magician had gone and gotten himself shot, darnit, not because that stupid magician had gone and stood in the way of that stupid, stupid idiot conqueror and took thirteen stupid shots to the chest and gotten the stupid crap beaten out of him, darnit, not because said magician had wound up in the stupid hospital on a respirator with no magic left and probably going to die within a few days, maybe a few hours, a few stupid lonely hours, darnit, not because that stupid magician was dying, not because he was dying, not because he'd never wake up, not because he was... not because the magician was his friend, his good friend, maybe his only friend, and his friend was dying, darnit, not because he was too much of a stupid coward to go and see the only friend he had before he was dead, darnit, stupid dead, stupid death, stupid stupid stupid stupid! Darnit, he was not going to cry!
The inventor was crying.

I wasn't sure if I needed to introduce the character of the inventor before I showed his response to the magician's death, but I'm posting this anyway. I've written some other magician stuff involving this character, but I didn't like it so much as I liked this. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The world was falling.
This didn't see quite right. He opened his eyes.
Ok, so the world wasn't falling. He was falling.
This didn't seem quite right either.
The ocean below him seemed quite small still, so he had a ways to go. He looked back up. Nothing. He'd fallen out of nowhere.
Nothing seemed quite right today.
He looked all around him. Hello cloud, hello other cloud. Nothing else around. He looked back down.
The ocean was still very far away.
He stretched, then gathered up his hair and stuffed it in his collar. Nothing worse than hair getting in your face when you're falling to your death.
It momentarily occurred to him that he shouldn't be this calm about falling out of nowhere to his death. He considered panicking, then decided against it. It couldn't do him much good, and besides, it was a pleasant day today, if you discount the wind. No sense in ruining it. He looked down again.
The ocean didn't seem to be getting any closer. Probably because it was just so big.
Maybe this was a dream. Yeah, that must be it. He was having the flying dream again, and he'd wake up right before he hit.
If he ever hit. The ocean needed to hurry up and get here.
But he didn't remember the flying dream being quite so... cold. Or windy.
No matter. Clearly, he was dreaming. Which totally explained the lack of panicking. And how and why exactly he was falling.
He flapped his arms experimentally. No, he couldn't fly. No matter, it was just a dream. Too bad; he'd always wanted to fly.
He looked back down and wondered, momentarily, why the ocean was still an ocean. If this were a dream, it should logically have turned into lemon pudding by now. But no. Still water, still big, still very far away. How high up was he, anyway?
It pleased him that the ocean was getting a little closer. He rubbed his ears. Dreams shouldn't be so cold. He decided that as long as he was here, he might as well have fun with it, so he twisted around in midair until he appeared to be seated.
At that point, he began going through the motions of having a tea party.
Abe Lincoln stared at him. “You should be panicking,” he said over a cup of earl grey.
He nodded politely, and his mind's version of Abe Lincoln pulled the parachute cord and vanished.
He wondered why Abe Lincoln hadn't seemed quite himself today. He'd had to work much harder to bring him to the tea party.
He looked back down. The ocean was getting closer fast. He said goodbye to his imaginary tea party, gave the tiger a hug and waved goodbye as he drove away, and then turned his attention back to falling. Yes, he should be hitting the ground within a minute. Or the water, either way.
So he'd be waking up.
He stared down at the ocean calmly and politely, arms outstretched. It briefly flashed into his mind that he was going to do a bellyflop, and it would hurt like nothing else, so he pulled himself into a swan dive and waited.
He'd be waking up any minute now.
Any minute now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A few random shorts

I haven't written anything really worth posting recently, but I have quite a few small things that I like enough to share. Don't expect them to be complete or make sense; they're not, and they won't.

A slice of the sky, of heaven and angels, cut down and bound here, bound to the earth to walk, to walk forever and ever amen, always staring up, never quite remembering who, or what, she is. Never, ever knowing, always longing, never looking down, never looking back, always trying, striving, reaching higher and higher, seeking to pull herself up from here, from this empty dust of too many distractions and nothing is real, nothing is reliable, and yet far too steady and unchanging, she walks the earth. Her prison. She doesn't remember, doesn't, couldn't imagine what she is, who she was. Who she will be. The wind calls her name. She doesn't know it's hers.

Black. White. Black. White. 64 squares. He stared at them darkly. Chess, chess, how he hated chess. The boy that sat across from him apparently liked it. Oh, and how he hated this boy. Smug little... The boy stared at the board a moment longer. “You're sure.”
“Yes, good grief! I'm sure!”
“You're sure you're sure. You want to move your queen to take my pawn. You're sure.”
“I'm sure! Just take your turn already!”
The boy shrugged. “Fine then.” He gently picked up a the black rook with the delicacy of an artist. “My turn.”
The man sputtered in shock. “How the...”
“Checkmate.” The young face broke into a gentle smile as he tipped over the white queen with the rook. The small noise of it tapping to rest on the board sounded like the crash of an empire.
The sirens of the police sounded like a dirge.

Jack stumbled out of the smoking robot, coughing. He looked up with tired eyes through the shattered mask, and saw her.
“Amy...” he whispered.
She was running to him before she even knew she was standing up. He opened his arms just in time to catch her as she embraced him. “Jack...” she mumbled.
His heart skipped several beats as they stood there. He was holding her. He was holding her. He was holding her! He closed his eyes, savoring the moment, and was hardly embarrassed at all when he started crying. She was crying too, and he shushed her gently, reveling in this new role as the comforter, the pillar of strength.
Thirty feet away, Crash hauled himself up, and proceeded to pull the little robot up from the hole behind him. They stared at the pair for a while, and then Crash shook his head and sat down, smiling broadly.
“So. Who's his best man, you or me?”
Fixit sat down next to him, looked at him for a moment, and then pointed to himself.

“Cursed be the charcoal, cursed be the wood, cursed be the gasoline, cursed be the one that would. The world will burn, the world will burn, the world will burn and I will laugh and the world will turn and turn and turn and we'll be left behind.” Spindle offered his hand. “Shall we dance?”

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jars and spiders

Love, Mike Queens thought between glancing behind him and not using his turn signal, was a very strange thing. It made a man do things, unmanly, unnecessary things, like buy flowers. Flowers. Dead plants. It was beyond him why dead plants were deemed necessary by love, but they were, and even an idiot like himself could look at flowers and say “I will buy these for Sadie” without having any comprehensive reason why.
And for some reason, dead plants made Sadie very happy with him. Sunflowers especially; roses seemed a little formal... How did he know this stuff?! He was male, for goodness sake. Men aren't supposed to think about roses and formality and piddly little stuff like that, they were supposed to think about guns, and lifting heavy things, and opening jars, and killing spiders, and other manly things.
But then, Sadie was his match with a gun any time, and heavy things were not his specialty.... But he was good with jars! And very good with spiders. Sadie didn't like spiders, and spiders didn't like rolled up newspaper. Mike glanced at the rolled up newspaper in the side pocket of his jeep door and smiled. Yes, he was good with spiders.
But then he glanced back at Sadie, sleeping peacefully through the bumpy jeep ride into the outback, and sighed again.
Why was he sighing? This was that whole love thing messing with his head again. It made him buy flowers, it made him sigh... What next, jewelry?
He glanced at Sadie again, then swerved slightly to miss an alarmed looking road-creature.
Ok, jewelry. Her ring size... seven maybe? Eight? What was the rule on this, guess high or guess low? But maybe rings were too formal, maybe he should start off with something less... committal.
Darnit, he was thinking about these things again! Jars and spiders, Mike, keep it together!
Bracelets... did she wear bracelets? Or earrings? Another glance in her direction made him almost hit a tree. Earrings. Small ones, maybe, she didn't seem like the type for big hoops or dangling things getting caught in her hair and in her way... Maybe just diamonds, set in...
Diamonds? No! Way too committal! What was he trying to do here, propose?
How the heck was he supposed to propose, anyway? The whole get down on one knee affair was a little... cliché, but a classic nonetheless. Maybe something a little more creative, like a scavenger hunt, or...
Good grief!
Mike shook his head in disbelief and pulled off. He didn't know whether it was love or just plain old lack of sleep that was making him think this stuff, but either way, he was in no condition to drive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spindle's March

The rhythm of a thousand pounding footsteps hitting the ground in unison shakes the city as they march, one in mind and thousandfold in body to the center, to the tower, to the summoner. To Spindle. Spindle. He twirls around the spire of the tower, the ever-present smile glued onto his mask, laughing as they march. This is it, this is it! They're coming!
They march, march, footsteps on concrete, from everywhere, from miles around. They come from sewers, from forests, from everywhere. The army of the unknown, the army of the feared, the army of Spindle. The inhumanly tall form winds it way down the tower, laughing, laughing. He is mad, no doubt. He has known that for a long time. But now! Now madness was sanity, now the unknown marched the streets! Now the uncontrollable was his to command, the feared feared him! He leaps from the tower, vaulting head over heels in the air.
The pounding beat works its way closer, and they begin to arrive, begin to gather. Spindle watches, gleeful and mad and inhuman. He spins again, spins with dark, near-demonic joy as the abominations surround him.
Abomination! What a word. Spindle loves words like that. Abomination, exhumation, rotation. Quotation! No, no, that one's no good. Spindle laughs. Abomination! He is, they are! This is what they are called! This is abomination!
He dances, his long limbs trailing behind themselves as the creatures watch. This is it, this is it! They're coming, they're here! He can hear them, the march of thousands more getting closer and closer, the pounding beat syncing up to his mad heartbeat, the rhythm shaking the dark, damp city that for so long has called him abomination. He is! This is his march, the march of the abominations! This is his night!
Spindle laughs, and spins around in glee. This is his. This is his. Everything is his now.

Spindle wants to wish you a happy Halloween.
In person.
I'd hide if I were you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too big, Too white.

The doctor exited the room, slowly shaking his head. The hero knew instantly what he meant. So did the rest. But the little girl did not. And when they told her, when they told her that the magician could not get better, that he would never come back to dance with her and to show her the spots in the world where a bit of magic still showed through, when they told her that he would never even open his eyes again, or breathe without a machine to help him, she cried. She cried, and shouted, and fought against them all, trying to get into the room where his battered body lay. The hero held her, took her kicks and scratches and screams in stride, and did not move, did not cry, did not change his face or look into her eyes as she fought him. He did this for her.
She fought for a very long time. The others tried to console her, took turns holding her, took turns being kicked and bitten and scratched and screamed at. But she fought on, and on, trying to get in, trying to see him, even when they took her away from the hospital she kept screaming, kept crying. The magician, her magician, was being taken away from her. She couldn't understand why.
She fell asleep, sometime between the second and third day after. And the hero finally left her side, finally came back to the hospital. He came to see for himself what he wouldn't let her.
The magician lay on a bed far too big, looking far too small, far too pale against the white bedsheets. He looked too frail, too thin and tiny to really be the magician, to really be the color and life and everything that he had been. Even his smile, his ever-present smile was gone, covered with the respirator that allowed him to get just enough air to cling to whatever of the incredible life was left in him. The long IV in his thin, pale arm was too much. The hero couldn't stay here, in this colorless room, with a friend that he never knew well enough to understand.
But he needed to know. He needed to understand.
So he stayed.
He fell asleep there, in the visitors chair of the tiny hospital room, waiting for something he knew would never happen. But he chose to hope for it anyway.
The morning light filtered through the white, sterile curtains as he awoke. The magician still lay unmoving on the too-big bed in the too-big hospital gown and everything was white, white and sterile and far too big and not magic at all. This was not where the magician belonged, his mind decided as he awoke. And when his mind was fully awake, and clear and ready to be rational, he still held onto that thought. With or without his magic as he'd known it, the magician remained just that, a magician, and his magic never could, and never would, have tolerated such empty whiteness.
So the hero, in one of the least rational but perhaps greatest ideas he'd ever had, tied his red bandanna to the magician's bed. Just a little spot of color, just a tiny bit, just enough to break the sterile whiteness.
And just a little, just a tiny bit, the magician looked more like himself.
The hero smiled, a sad smile, nothing like the magician's, but perhaps just a little more than it had been the day before, and walked out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Puppies (of the evil sort)

Puppies, they say, are the least evil of creatures. I stand in direct opposition to this point of view. No, I am not taken in by the adorable brown eyes, the big, fun, fuzzy paws, or the oh-play-with-me-please-please-please attitude. I am well aware that all these are designed to trick me, to fool me into dropping my guard and snuggling the fuzzy little hairball like there's no tomorrow.
And that's when the vampire puppies attack.

Just practicing not taking myself seriously. Enjoy.

Monday, October 27, 2008


He rushes at me, his sword drawn. I leap out of his path, and try to cut him with my own sword. He dodges, but not without another cut to his cape. His clothes are all full of holes from my attacks, and mine are likewise. We've been fighting for so long, so long now. I whirl around and try to slice him in the back, but miss. That cape of his makes it difficult to judge where he is. It doesn't matter. I'll win this anyway.
My wounds are bleeding, still. How long they've been there, I don't know. How badly I am injured, I don't know. How badly I have injured him, I don't know. I only know that I am bleeding, and he is bleeding, and eventually one of us will run out of blood. It will be him. I'll win this.
I jump out of the way of his sword as he tries to cut a path through me. He almost doesn't expect my counterattack, and my sword nicks his shirt. Almost, I almost had him that time. He almost has me with a thrust at my chest. Another button gone.
I hate him. He hates me. We've hated each other, and fought, attacked and defended, dodged and struck, trying to destroy each other for as long as I can remember. I don't know why.
His sword almost catches my ear. My sword almost severs his foot. Sword clashes against sword, sparking the air into light and noise. The ruined city around us watches silently. We've been fighting for so long now...
Why do we hate each other? Why do we fight, why do we attack each other with swords drawn, why do we strike and destroy? Why? We've been fighting for so long now. I don't remember why. Why don't I remember? Why do I hate him? Who is he? Who am I? Will this ever all be over?
He rushes at me. I dodge. A flurry of swords, he dodges. I miss him, he misses me. Another tear to my clothing, another ever-so-slight wound that slowly speeds my demise. Another clash of swords.
Until we know. Until we know who, and why, until someone comes here, and tells us who we are, and why we fight, we won't know. We won't remember. And this will never be over.
I rush at him, sword drawn.
I don't remember why.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happiness has bad penmanship is a very interesting thing. The basic premise? You put in several blocks of text, and it spits out a bizarre amalgam of them that somehow makes sense. Here are some of my favorites that it's given me:

"Something seemingly deadly, monstrous, inhuman.
We needed something tangible.
Something that he twisted around.
She didn't know I designed the stars. "

"I told you, I could've sworn that I was not dead."

"They've shot her.
She didn't know I live in exile.
The difference was much stronger than prison.
“You're awake then.” A Memo, from Outsiders.
Once, all must be stopped for me. "

" “You don't want to miss it.
Trust me.” He shot her. "

" “It's nothing to do anything with.
Now they come to you.” He kidnapped my arm to make me sir, does yours have a name?” “Yes, it's name is Jack.
Call me sir, does not give you license to call me now.
He still shoots laser beams. "

"This is the earth shattering crunch of the imagination, alone."

"Happiness has become a bullet."

" "The golum is afraid of healing, quite clearly!”
“It is.”
"The golum is a blessing that you say I couldn't carry."
“You don't want to see it!” "

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Crucial Question

The crucial question. The one and only answer. One he had, the other he so desperately needed.
A year ago he'd been convinced he knew the question. He'd prepared, he'd practiced, the whole thing was set up. And he was so sure of the answer. He just had to ask the question, and hear the answer. Happily ever after.
How quickly things had changed.
So much had happened. The world was dying. Perhaps it was already dead. Everywhere, things were falling to pieces, and only he could stop it. So the world asked him the crucial question. Not his question. It's question. And he answered.
And now, now the world was in a thousand pieces on the ground, trying to pick itself up again. It had shattered somewhere between the middle and the end. And it asked a thousand questions, all without answers, and the one crucial question was lost amidst the noise. But he had a new question. Still the old remained unanswered, but if the answer to the new question was no...
Happily ever after would never come.
So he sought his answer. The question was asked a thousand times to a thousand people, and all eventually lead him here.
A shattered chapel. Stained glass windows shine patches of color on the splintered pews. Here, here is where his question could be answered. Here, in front of the alter he stands. Here is where the first question would have lead him if the answer was yes.
Here is where his heart breaks if the answer he seeks is no.
And they tell him the answer will be found here. He goes back outside. A field of yellow flowers, underneath the sun. A little bit of life left in his shattered world. He almost smiles.
And then he sees her. Among the ruins of a battle.
She is lying on her back in the field, her eyes closed. She does not move.
This is the crucial question.

The Sleeper

“Quiet.” The stranger held up his hand. “Peace be to you, my brethren. We are gathered.”
“Brethren?” Victoria pulled back. “We are not your...”
“We are gathered,” he repeated, interrupting her, “not to mourn, not to conquer. We are gathered simply to know.”
“Who are you? Who is this 'we' that you keep talking about?”
“We are gathered.” He kept his face turned to the ground, not opening his eyes. “You seek the sleeper, correct?”
“We do!” Galen stepped forward. “Do you know where...”
“Peace. You have sought what you do not understand. Do you truly know what you seek?”
“We seek the sleeper, the one who dreams this world into being.” Victoria responded. “The unknown element of all that drifts in and out of existence. The one thing in this world that is real.”
The stranger did not smile. “If that is so, what shall you do when you find him.”
“We shall wake him.”
“Why? To escape! The sleeper is what traps us here! If the sleeper awakes, than we can...”
“Escape.” The man finally smiled. “You do not understand what you ask. Escape is entirely possible. Your quest is in vain.”
“What do you mean?!” asked Galen. “We have fought our way to the deepest part of the world, and you tell us it's all been for nothing?”
“Not for nothing. We are gathered.” The stranger lifted his arms, motioned to the ethereal world around them. “Here, where ideas are the shape and substance, where everything changes and all remains the same, here at the border of darkness and light where nothing becomes everything and everything melts away; here is where we have come. Here is the world where the sleeper resides. This is his domain. And here. We Are Gathered. And now you shall know.”
The two stepped back, staring. The world around them shifted, moving inward and outward, pulsing with power at his words. Shafts of brilliant light formed out of the darkness. Color became color in it's true self, indescribable and impossible. They fought to hang onto their existence, their very being, as reality moved around them and beneath them and inside them.
And then the man spoke the words as they realized them.
“I am the sleeper.”

Listening to too much creepy music. I could've continued this, but didn't feel like it. Enjoy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I found an acorn today.

I hold an oak tree in my hands. So small, so fragile. I could crush it, and it would never be an oak tree. So easily I could crush an oak tree.
There's something special about acorns. Maybe they're only special to me, because I'm not used to them. But as I've been walking under the oak trees on my way to class this year, I can't help but look up and wonder. They're so tall! I want to climb them, and build a house up there, and not come down until dark, or maybe stay up there all night. You can't do that with a pine tree. And now their leaves are turning color and falling, and I can see the birds nests in their branches. There's at least one nest in every tree; some have as many as three or four. I want to climb up and look, and see if there are still any egg shells left in their nests. Of course, all the eggs turned into birds long ago, but bits will still be left.
I wonder if acorns leave bits behind when they turn into oak trees.

Random philosophy isn't really my thing, but it seems almost magical to me. I can hold an oak tree. That's amazing. Any one of them is easily ten, twelve times my height.
But they all started out as a seed.
I can't really get my brain to wrap around that. As much science as I've jammed into my head, I still can't fathom how something so huge could have started out as something so tiny. This thing is literally smaller than my thumb, and if I plant it, if I let it grow, it'll turn huge. I know it'll take years and years to do it, but it'll grow. A little brown nub that I could easily crush will turn into something, that if it fell, could easily crush me.
And I'm ranting. I admit it, I don't have a story to post today. And I really don't know how to express myself about this kind of stuff. But I am just amazed that God could pack an oak tree into an acorn, and I thought you all should know.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The little glass boy sits on the wooden floor, playing with his toys. Wooden toys, wooden floor. His mother watches him from atop the wooden stool, with wooden brown eyes. Wooden toys, wooden floor, wooden stool, wooden mother. Everything is wood. Except for the little glass boy, with his shining green eyes. So fragile, so weak. If she touches him, he might break.
The little wooden horse clop-clops across the floor in the little glass hand. Frail. So frail, so delicate. If she touches him, he might break.
The wooden mother thinks that she might be going mad. Her wooden mind is splintering, perhaps. For how can a mother of wood and a father of wood give birth to a child of glass?
Perhaps the child is wood. Perhaps she just can't see it yet. That must be it.
The mother turns her wooden eyes back to the brown leather in her hands. Shoes for the people, shoes for the children. Shoes for the little glass boy. Does he need glass shoes? He's so fragile; the leather might break him. The leather has never broken her; it's so hard to tell what will break her child. He's so delicate. Frail.
The little glass boy cuts his finger on the sharp edge of a nail, but he does not cry. He simply puts his glass finger in his little glass mouth and sits, still. He does not want wooden mother to worry. She worries so much. Perhaps it is because he is made of glass, and she is not.
Are all children made of glass?
Mother doesn't take him out to see the other children much, because she's afraid he'll shatter. But the other children look like wood to him, and sometimes, in the right light, he looks like wood. He's sure he could play with them, he's sure he would be safe. Maybe if he played outside, the sun would turn his glass to wood, and wooden mother would stop worrying.
Perhaps wooden mother will always see him as glass. Perhaps that is just what comes of having wooden eyes, and being a mother.

Is the kid actually made of glass, or is it a metaphor? You decide!


They stared back at him in shock. “But...”
“Go. Go on without me.”
“But the creature...” Tarei spoke up, taking a step back down towards him in the darkness.
“I can deal with the creature. I have been for years.” Frail looked downward at his tattered shoes. “Someone has to stay here and deal with it anyway.”
“But you'll be trapped here again!” Daro shouted from the top of the rope ladder. “Just come on! We'll find a way to get you out!”
“I'll be fine. Just go on without me.”
“But...” Tarei stood staring at him at the foot of the ladder. “I...”
“Go,” Frail repeated softly, staring straight at her with those incredibly green eyes of his. “I'll be fine.”
She ran to him, and before he could stop her, she embraced him, crying. “I don't want to go without you.”
He smiled, just a little, and slowly hugged her back. “I know. Shh, shh. Listen.” She was still for a moment. “I've been down here so long now. I know what it is to be alone, trust me. But I can't go back. I couldn't adapt again. I can never live among light and noise. And... As much as I'd like to be with you, I know you could never live down here. And I could never live up there. This is all I know.” He was crying too now. “I can't go with you. I'm sorry.”
They stood, crying in each others arms for a moment, before the creature's roar sounded behind them. Frail released her in an instant. “Go! I'll lead it off!”
“But...” She stood reaching after him as he ran towards the noise. “Frail!”
“Sis, get up here!” Daro shouted from the top of the ladder. “Now!”
The second roar was all she needed. She glanced back once more as she ran for the ladder, only to see Frail's pale form dodging the huge claws as he danced it away. The ladder swayed wildly beneath her feet as she climbed. She had almost reached the top when it jerked sharply to the right, and she almost fell. A tearing sound came from below, and she glanced down to see the creature's claws removing the bottom half of the ladder. Daro pulled her over the edge, and they stared down for a moment. The ladder had been cut off over 20 feet up the cliff. There was no way for Frail to follow them now.
But apparently there was a way for the creature to follow, for the earth shattering crunch of it's claws embedding themselves in the wall to climb shook them to their bones. Frail's voice could be heard, shouting at the creature, trying to get it's attention. He would save them.
Someday, she would come back to save him.
Another roar from the creature. They took off running. The two stumbled blindly towards the white light where their rescuers had disappeared, and burst into the sunlight, out of the humble looking mouth of the cave into which they had disappeared almost a month ago.
For a moment, they were blind. Rustling all around them alerted them to someone.
And once the world faded back into color, their parents embraced them. At last, they were home.
But someday, they'd go back. This much they knew.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A Memo, from the desk of Jack:
Ok, guys, this is getting ridiculous, not to mention out of hand. I mean, I understand your logic. Don't get me wrong, it's totally logical. Yes, the thing looks like a toaster. On my face. Yes, it shoots laser beams. From the mask, on my face, over my eyes. And yes, I could understand that you say I have a toaster on my face, and that I am, therefore, shooting “toaster eye beams,” thank you captain maturity. And yes, it looks ridiculous. I know. I designed the stupid thing, I should know. All that matters to me is that it works.
This does not give you license to call me “Toasterman,” Toast face”, Toastereyebeam man” or any other variation on that theme that your little brains might spawn. My name is Jack. Call me Jack. Not “Toasterface,” not “the Toastinator.” Jack. Maybe Sir. Either one works.
This also implies that the bread thing was not funny the first time. And if I wake up one more time with bread taped to my face, any part of my person, or anything that belongs to me, so help me, I will find out who did it, and then I will fire your sorry rear end halfway to China. Because you work for me, remember that? I pay you to work for me. I sign your paycheck. And I, Jack the paycheck man with the toaster on his face, am calmly and collectedly, like a mature, reasonable adult, am asking you to STOP IT WITH THE BREAD. Also, the butter isn't funny either. So stop. You're only making yourself look stupid.
PS: If anyone gets the bright idea of jelly, so help me I will fire you TO THE MOON.

A brief exercise in not taking myself so seriously. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In the Land of the Blind...

“No no no no!” He walked in just in time to catch the device before it smashed to pieces against the concrete wall. “Why isn't it working?!”
“What? What's happened?”
She looked up at him, and he stepped back in shock. Her eyes were bleeding. “It's not working! All that preparation, all that testing, all for nothing! Nothing's working! I... I... I'm blind!” He watched her, paralyzed, as she stumbled across the room. “I must be doing something wrong. I have to be doing something wrong. There's no way I could've missed something. I mean, I've been preparing for this for years! I've cured every cause! I must be doing something wrong! Ok, it'll work this time. It has to work. I'm sure it will work.” She stuck her head in the machine of which she was so proud, the machine that had brought fame and fortune to her and healing to so many millions. It whirred to life; lights flashed and the electromagnetic field pulsed through the room. One light, diagnostic complete. Two lights, course of action certified safe. Three lights...
The machine cranked to a sudden stop, sputtering smoke out the cracks. She pulled her head out, coughing, then rubbed the smoke from her eyes and stared with bleeding eyes unseeing into the room.
“No!” She kicked the machine. “No no no no no! Work! You stupid machine, you stupid stupid stupid machine! This is what you were made to do! Come on, this is stupid! What the heck is wrong with you?!”
The machine only made a noise like a truck backfiring in response.
“Fine! Fine, I don't need you! I'll find a doctor, a doctor with a certified machine! And he'll know what's wrong. He has to... I have to... There is no...” She broke down, crumpling into a heap on the floor. “No... No no no no... I don't want to be blind.... Please... Not this, not my sight! Take my hearing, leave me crippled, just... just don't... I don't want to...”
“Hey, hey, it's ok. We'll find a doctor.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “I'm sure they can do something...”
“A doctor? You think a doctor can cure this?!” She was suddenly back on her feet again. “Look at me! Look. At. Me. Every person in my family, that's every single one. All of them. They've all gone blind. Suddenly, inexplicably, without hope of a cure! And now, we all know that it's coming, we all know that someday, someday we too will lose our light, and we try, we try to stop it. But I thought... I thought that I could reverse it! I thought that I could lose it, and then take it back! That's not to say I wanted to lose it, not even for a minute did I want to lose it! I treasure my sight! You haven't noticed this?! I took advantage of every minute I had of having eyes that worked! I've been doing that for years! But... but now... It's happened to me...” She trailed off for a minute, her rage slacking away as he watched in shock. “I never really thought it would, I'd hoped it couldn't. I'm the medical genius, after all, I've cured cancer, I've cured everything. And I thought... I thought... that I'd cured blindness. But now...”
She stood silently, weeping tears of blood from unseeing eyes. And he watched, through the heavy glass lenses that he'd so often cursed, and was thankful, thankful for the first time in his life, for his own blurred vision. In the land of the blind...

It's no secret that I'm interested in blindness.(Completely blind character count: 3) I've kinda been wondering why. I think it might be that my vision is horrible and I'm afraid that someday this'll happen to me. Maybe.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Injection

They hand me the needle, as they do every day. Every day they give it to me, and every day I make my choice. They tell me the choice I should make, of course, but it's my choice whether I choose their way or my own. Their way, their way is the injection. They want me to take it, to slip back into that half-dream where all of their orders make perfect sense, and there's no reason that I'd do anything else, or want to. If I take it, the world smiles upon me, the cold steel walls are my home and all that I desire, and all that I could ever want, I already have.
I haven't taken it in a while.
I wanted to be a better soldier. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could improve myself, to be smarter, faster, more like they'd want me to be. And I realized that the injection slowed me down. So I stopped taking it. I did it for them. I wanted to follow their orders, I wanted to be the best that I ever could be.
But I started to realize. Things that I'd known were right for as long as I remember suddenly became wrong. The orders I was given stopped making sense. I went, I did, I conquered and accomplished, but I saw things. I saw things that I'd always seen, and never really noticed. I saw children, families, mothers and fathers and little babies. I saw riches, poverty, greed and generosity, and I started to realize. I saw laughter and smiles, I saw screaming faces and weeping. I saw my own hands stained with blood. I saw how the blood refused to wash away. I saw gunpowder, smoke, bullets, I saw wounds and injuries and death. I was death, I brought death. And under my faceless mask and unmarked armor, I started to realize.
I realized that something was wrong. Something was wrong with the orders that I'd taken, something was wrong with me for taking them. The injection, the injection was wrong, the drugs that they put in the food were wrong, the whole accursed UQA was wrong. ISO Industries was wrong, the doctors that were so very proud of me were wrong, and the fact that I can't remember anything of myself is wrong. That I can't remember anything that is not blood, is not war, is not death and faceless masks and guns and cold steel walls and needles that make things make sense is wrong. Everything is wrong.
And I am wrong, perhaps. My very existence. Perhaps. I don't know yet.
They hand me the needle, as they do every day. Every day they give it to me, and every day I make my choice.
My choice is not wrong.

Yay for things I wrote in ten minutes or less. Anyway, short thing about Tin. UQA is Unquestioning Army, by the way. Explanation? Maybe later.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Touch

The stranger stretches out his hand to me. I don't think twice about accepting it. It's been so long, so long since I could touch someone. And even him, even him I cannot touch. Anything I touch dies. Everything withers, turns to stone and dust. Thin, ragged gloves cover my own hands to keep this death from spreading.
And warm, elegant gloves cover his.
He pulls me up from the mud where I've fallen. I'm bleeding just a little. A drop falls on a flower, and it shrivels. He doesn't notice. He motions me to follow him. I don't think twice. My feet are moving before my head can say no, and I stumble after him like an ugly duckling. He smiles, and slows so I can walk beside him. I've been slower, recently. Something is eating at me, making my blood run like ice. Perhaps I am finally killing myself. It's about time.
He opens his mouth to speak, but closes it again. I'm not sure what to say to him. Thank you. Thank you for helping me up. Is there anything I can do for you, sir. Thank you for letting me walk with you.
“So. You've got it too.” He speaks in a conversational, friendly tone, like he refers to the weather or what a fine crop we will have this year.
I look up at him in shock. “Excuse me?”
“The touch. You have it too. I can tell.”
I hide my gloved hands behind my back. “The touch? I don't know what you're talking about, sir!” I try to smile to hide my fear. I am a horrible lier.
He sees right through me, and smiles again. “Of course. I don't know what I'm talking about either. I'm afraid I'm rather strange like that, my dear lady. Perhaps we should go somewhere more private to figure it out, eh?” I hesitate. He senses my discomfort. “No, not like that. There will be no wind of scandal in this, trust me. I merely wish to talk away from prying ears. Would that be alright?”
I nod, so slightly that it's barely noticeable.
But he notices. “Come on, then. This way.”
We arrive at an inn, one of the better ones. He slips in a side door. I hesitate, but he reaches out his hand again. I take it again, glove in glove, and we go in. He leads me to a parlor, where a maid stands waiting with tea. He thanks her politely. She is too demure to ask about me, but he sees her curiosity. Nothing scandalous, he assures her. The inn's reputation will be safe. If she would like, there is a window that she may look through, just to make sure. She assures him that she would never suspect him of such a thing, but I can hear the relief in her voice. She looks at me, long and hard, and leaves. He is such a perfect gentleman.
“Now,” he says, pouring me a cup of tea. “I know you have the touch. I knew as soon as I saw you. I have it too. See?” He pulls the glove from his right hand. The patterns of mottled gray on his skin are all the confirmation I need. I bare my right hand as well, and accept the cup of tea with all the grace I can muster. He smiles. “So I'm not the only one. The doctor said that all we all were killed as soon as we were born, but I knew...”
“I thought I was the only one,” I admit. “I've never met someone else with the touch before...”
“Nor have I.” He looks away for a moment, rubbing his neck with his mottled hand. “So this is a first for me, too.”
“How did you know I...”
“Your hair,” he says with a shrug. “You've tried to hide it, but...”
“The bonemark?” I refer to the streak of white hair that runs from behind my ear, and refuses to be dyed.
“If you prefer to call it that, yes.” He sighs, and removes his silk hat. He has it too, though his is cut short. “You're lucky not many people know about it anymore.”
I shrug. “Enough know. I hide it as well as I can.”
We sit in a strange silence for a moment.
“So.” He pours me another cup of tea. “What's your story?”
I hesitate for a moment, then spill forth. This might be my only chance to ever have someone listen. “I killed my mother when I was born. The doctor wanted to kill me, but my father wouldn't let him. He kept me a secret from everyone, or they would have killed me, and I spent my first ten years with him. And then I tripped, and fell, and he caught my hand. And I wasn't wearing gloves.” I struggle to keep from crying. “He died. I've been on my own ever since.” He takes my bare hand in his gloved one and looks into my eyes. He understands. Somehow, I can tell. I struggle to ask him. “And you?”
He looks away again. “I... killed my mother, yes. And my father wanted to kill me. But the doctor... he told my father that I must be killed in a special way, and took me away. The doctor raised me. And when I was old enough, he started taking... work for me.” His face burns with shame. “I hope I don't have to explain what kind of work it was.”
I understand him, and pity him. I know what it is to kill. It is not a pretty thing.
“He made a lot of money with me. And he gave me so much, so much to keep me happy, to keep me obeying. I know now that he was afraid.” He puts his head in his hands. I put my gloved hand on his shoulder. “I didn't... I didn't want to kill. But I thought that I did. I thought that it was my duty to the doctor to kill, my duty to the world. It was why I'd been put on this earth.” He paused a moment, in the stillness of the room. “But I was wrong, I was so wrong. And when I saw that... When I killed him... I almost meant to. I almost wanted him to die. I almost... Almost...” He can't finish his sentence. I don't blame him, no more than he blames me. And that fact is a comfort more than anything I've ever known.
We sit in silence as the moments pass.
He looks up at me, finally, and tries to find the words, eventually giving up and switching topics. “I'm curious...”
I know where his sentence is going.
“Can we touch?”
I stretch out my mottled hand to him in the same way he stretched out his to me. And he takes it without a second thought.
We sit there, for a moment, waiting to die.
Perhaps we are dying already.
Perhaps this feeling is death.
Or perhaps this is life.

I don't even know where this one came from. Enjoy anyway.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Magician's Stars

“Don't you see it?” The magician raised his hands and twirled around on his bare feet, dancing amid the tiny specks of light. “It's coming, it's coming! Oh, you have to see it!”
The hero watched with a skeptical eye. “It's nothing spectacular.”
“Ah, not yet! Not yet! Just wait, wait, you'll see it!” The magician laughed his beautiful, musical, weightless and worryless laugh. “I didn't see it at first, either.”
The girl ran to his side and twirled with him, her lacey skirt billowing out like his flowing sleeves. “Is it here yet?”
“Not yet, not yet! It's coming, just wait! You'll see it. I promise you will.” He picked her up in his small, skinny hands and raised her above his head as he twisted around. She laughed. “Just wait!”
The hero sighed and crossed his arms. Another one of the magician's distractions. There was no need for this...
“Ah, but where are you going, my friend?” The magician was suddenly in front of him, smiling that carefree smile that irked him so much. “You don't want to miss it. Trust me.”
He brushed past the magician without a word. The magician stared after him, and shrugged. “If you don't want to see it, I can't make you. Happiness has to be chosen, my friend.”
He snorted and walked on.
Something that he couldn't identify stopped him, just before he descended the steps to leave. He turned, to see the magician, eyes ever-hidden just as always, dancing with the girl in the specks of light. And he stood there, watching them play, and if only for a moment, allowed himself to smile at the pure lightness and color and unadulterated fun that made up the magician, so full of inexhaustible life.
The magician suddenly stopped and sat down, and motioned for the little girl to sit next to him. She obeyed, looking up at him with a question in her eyes.
“It's here. Watch.”
The tiny specks of light suddenly bloomed, expanding into miniature stars. And from each of those came a thousand other stars, smaller, burning with intense, pure color. The smaller stars darted among the bigger ones, swirling around in a dance far more intricate than that of the magician. The little girl gaped in awe, and the magician only smiled. The tiny stars ranged further and further from their parents, each venturing out a little more than the last before darting back to the inner circle, and the process repeated itself.
The magician held out his small hand, palm upward, and seven tiny stars darted over to it. They swirled around his upturned hand, an unpredictable, patternless pattern of pulsing color and light. He moved his hand, and they followed, like ducklings running after their mother. The little girl reached out her hand, and he brought them over to her. And she held out her hand, much like he'd held out his, but smaller, and more hesitant. And one little star came to her, moving from his hand to hers, slowly rotating around as she watched it, all the wonder in the world shining from her face. Then it darted away, fleeing back to it's mother star.
“Don't be afraid,” said the magician with a smile. “It won't hurt you. Just believe it, and it will come to you.” He stood, and stretched out his arms, his face turned to the sky. “This, this is life, this is love and beauty! All these must be chosen, all must be believed!” The stars rushed to him as he spoke, both the tiny ones and their mother stars, swirling around him in a vortex of light and life and joy.
And the girl stood, and laughed with him, and danced with him among the stars.
And the hero watched from a distance, and desperately wished to go closer, but didn't.

Sort of goes along with the story I posted on dA, but not half so depressing. This story happens before that one.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Snow. This must be snow.
I shudder in the cold. Something had fallen on my hand, and my hand was wet. Must be snow.
I take another brick in my snow-wet hand and put it on the others. They are snow-wet too. Or are they blood-wet? My hands are bleeding again, I can tell. The cold numbs the pain. Only a little, though.
The workmen call to each other. They're going in. It's snowing.
But I don't want to go home yet. They aren't here to make me stay, but I don't want to go home. My hands are bleeding. My father will yell if I get blood on the floor again. He says that I'll stain it, and if something is stained with blood, it is cursed.
This whole mill must be cursed, then. There is enough of my blood for a thousand curses.
I drag the plank with the bricks on it across the wet ground. My blood is soaking into the rope, I can tell. They will yell at me again, but it's not so bad as when father yells. They don't hit so hard.
I trip. They've left a plank stray on the ground again. I curse under my breath. That's something I've learned from them, something that I didn't know before. Before the fire. Before the blindness. Before everything.
I stumble back to my feet, and drag my bricks onward. It's hard to tell where to go. Normally, I take it to the bricklayer. I can hear him working. The slap of mortar hitting the bricks is something I've gotten to know very well. I just drag the bricks to the sound.
But now he's gone, because it's snowing.
I trip again. This time, I put my hands out to catch myself. One falls into something squishy.
A bucket of mortar. I curse again, and pull my hand back out. It makes a squelching, gloppy noise as I free myself. They will be angry because there is blood in the mortar now. I scrape it off on the edge of the bucket. I don't care.
I want to leave. I want to vanish. If I could turn to smoke and fly away, then I would be happy. I would sting at their eyes, make their vision cloudy and black, black like mine, if only for a moment. Maybe then they would understand.
“Vale.” I didn't hear Ivan walking towards me. “Are you ok?”
“Fine.” I pulled myself up again, feeling around in front of me for the brick wall that I knew was here somewhere.
“Sorry I couldn't get here earlier.” He is breathing hard. I can tell he's been running. “The doctor came by today, and I couldn't leave until he'd had tea and crumpets with my mother and told me all about how I must take care of my hands.”
“What did he say?” I try to smile, if only for his sake.
“He says that I'm almost completely healed! He took the bandages off, but he wouldn't let me look at the burns while he put something new on it. It smells better than the other stuff. Here.” He shoves his hands into my face. They smell of aloe and dirt. “He says that I'll be able to keep the bandages off in about a week.”
“That's good.”
“Has he been to see you lately?”
I shake my head. “Father won't pay for it. Besides,” I finally find the brick wall, and put my hand on it to guide me as I feel around with the other hand for the rope that I've dropped, “he said that I couldn't be cured.”
“I know what he said, but don't you think that maybe he could've changed his mind? Maybe he's learned something since then. I'm sure there's something he could do if he just would try...”
I shrug. Where is that accursed rope... “I don't know. But father won't pay for it anyway.”
We stand in silence for a moment. He's looking up at the mill, I think. I can't feel his breath as much when he's looking up.
“The mill's almost done. Maybe when they finish it, you won't have to spend so much time up here...”
“Maybe.” I shrug again.
“I wish you could see it. The bricks are really pretty against the snow.”
I don't reply. I've been far too much involved with those bricks to ever wish to see them.
“Your hands!” He's finally noticed. I keep my palms down so he can't see them. “Vale, what happened?”
I shrug and keep my face to the ground. “Nothing.”
“You're bleeding.”
“I know.”
“Let me see them.” He grabs the hand that I've been fishing for the rope with. “Oh, wow...”
I jerk my hand back. “I'm fine.”
“No,” he grabs my hand again, “you're not.” I hear the soft swishing of his bandages unwinding.
“Ivan, no.”
“Just the stuff around my wrists. You need your hands more than I need mine.”
“Ivan...” I try to pull away, but can't. I hear the sound of threads tearing from each other.
“Here.” The bandages are ragged. He wraps my hand clumsily; I can feel the cloth twisting around itself. The knot is similarly tied. I know it'll come undone in a few minutes. It just feels unstable. He begins to unwrap his other wrist and releases my hand. “Give me your other hand.”
I obey. He exhales, then lets go. He grabs it again in a moment, and begins to scrape off the mortar with a stick. In another moment, the wrapping begins again. He runs out of cloth halfway across my palm. Snow touches down where my skin is left bare.
“Hang on just a second...” I hear him unwrapping cloth again.
“No, Ivan. This is good enough. Thank you.”
“I'll wrap it again as soon as I get home, ok? I have plenty of this stuff. You need it more than me.”
“Ivan, I...”
His sharp gasp cut me off. “Oh...”
“What?” He doesn't respond. I repeat myself. “What's going on? Are you ok?”
“Vale, look. Look at my hand.” I can hear panic in his voice. “Look!”
“I can't! Ivan, what's happened?”
“Ivan, I can't see your hand! I'm blind! What's happening?”
He is silent for a moment longer, then he takes my hand in his, mine unbandaged and his fully wrapped, and guides my fingers to his other hand. As soon as I touch his palm, I know what has happened.
We stand here for a minute, as the snow swirls around us, as I trace his scars with my blood. He is shaking. He is almost crying.
I remove my hand, but do not speak.
And slowly, surely, he wraps his hand back up.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Life, the universe, and everything

Life, the universe and everything. Something simple becomes infinitely complicated. We don't really know who we are now, but that's alright. Some things aren't meant to be known, perhaps, but we'll keep chasing them. And the number of cogs and wheels that all turn together multiply by a thousand times, until there are so many, so many that we cannot count them, and we cannot see the one for the so many others. Perhaps we shall never know why. Life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wheeler and the hobo

Wheeler awoke to the sounds of traffic below him. He wondered, not for the first time, why taxi drivers got up before the sun did. His stomach growled. He needed to find real food today.
He sat up and pulled out his battered pocketwatch. 5:30. The church bells wouldn't ring until 8. He moaned. He was hungry! And his cd player was out of batteries, too. He stared at the street below the church steeple where he'd been sleeping. Yellow taxi's zipped by in both directions, in a great hurry to go nowhere in particular. People walked quickly by, stepping over a sleeping hobo like he wasn't even there. The pretzel vendor was similarly bypassed.
Wheeler had enough for a pretzel.
“Top o' the morning t' yeh, sir.” The man gave Wheeler a smile missing three teeth as he approached. “What can I do for yeh today?”
“Pretzel.” Wheeler muttered through his scarf. “How much?”
“Only a dollar, sir.” The man pulled one out of his cart. Wheeler handed him a dollar. “Want anythin' on it?”
“Nice talkin' to ya, then!” The man waved goodbye, and turned back to hawking his wares to the disinterested passers by. Wheeler joined the slow trickle of early morning pedestrian traffic as he made his way across the city. Was the guitar repair place open yet? Probably not. He should stick around to hear the bells, then go later. But people always gave him more money in the morning, it seemed. And if the guitar place was open, he wouldn't need the bells anyway, though he did enjoy them. And then he could relocate to someplace less drafty.
Fifteen minutes later, he stood disappointed in front of Rocky's Rock On Guitar Sales and Repair, closed on Saturdays. He swore softly. No guitar today, and likely as not no guitar tomorrow. He walked away, disgusted. And he didn't have enough to pay for batteries and the repair bill, and of course Rocky's had a large, obvious sign stating that they did not under any circumstances take credit. He'd been counting on that guitar today!
Wheeler started back to the church. He was beginning to ache all over. He hated feeling hungry. The noise of the traffic zooming by only furthered his annoyance.
“Will you shut up?” he growled at the cars. Traffic continued regardless, and a man walking by gave him a strange look. “Quit tempting me!”
He glared at the street as he walked along, his hands jammed into his jacket pockets. Oh, what he would give for a street musician right about now. Ironic, since he normally hated seeing them because it meant more competition for him. Maybe that annoying girl with the violin would be in the park... No, she only came in the afternoons, and he didn't want to deal with her today. She thought she was so much better than him, just because she wasn't homeless... The old guy who sat behind the burger place, maybe? No, he'd been chased off for loitering almost a week ago. Too bad, he was pretty good.
He sighed. He hadn't really been here long enough to get a handle on where more than a few of the musicians were. How long had it been now, a month? No, less than that. He'd been working at the soup kitchen over Thanksgiving, and he'd moved at least twice since then. He wondered how the nuns would be spending Christmas this year. If he had enough, he'd send them a gift. Maybe he could carve them a cross; that would certainly make Sister Valerie happy. And Sister Bertha would just be happy to learn that he hadn't starved yet.
But Sister Mary probably wouldn't even notice. She'd be too busy with the Christmas concert.
Wheeler sighed again. He missed the nuns, especially Mary. He almost wished he'd found a way to stick around after he turned 18. Maybe if he didn't need to wander so much, he could've.
Wheeler turned down a side street on his way to the church. He nearly tripped over an older man laying in the alley.
“Got any change, sir?” the old man muttered.
“Sorry.” Wheeler shrugged. “I got nothing, unless you're short on bad luck.”
The man laughed, wheezing. “I've got plenty of that. God bless you anyway.”
Wheeler nodded. “God bless.”
The man burst into a coughing fit as Wheeler walked by. He glanced back over his shoulder, then stopped short. Blood. The old man was coughing up blood.
“Hey, you alright?” Wheeler changed his tone to one slightly less insolent and slightly more concerned than what he usually used.
“I'm just old, moldy and cold,” the old man wheezed as he tried to laugh again. “I'm fine.”
“Hey man, you're coughing up...”
The old man went into another fit of coughing. He stared at his hand for a moment afterwards. “Huh. I'm bleeding.”
“Hey, man, you need to have a doctor look at that.”
“Can't afford no doctor...”
“The emergency room won't turn you away.”
“Can't get there... too far...” The old man slumped, shivering in the cold.
“I'll take you.” Wheeler knelt down. Why was he doing this? He didn't need anything else to worry about. He should just walk away.
And yet, somehow, he didn't.
Wheeler picked the old man up as best he could. Luckily, the man was practically a stick. “You know where it is?”
“That way...” the man pointed north with a shaking hand. “corner of... seventh and... Turner drive...”
“Got it.” Wheeler ignored the stares of the passersby. “Keep talkin', man, I don't want you going into shock. What's your name?”
“That short for Theodore?”
“Yeah...” the old man coughed again. “But nobody calls me that anymore. I used to be Theo...”
“What happened?”
“Eh... stock markets, divorce. Lots of stuff. Now I'm Teddy.” The man paused, drawing in a raspy breath. “I have a daughter, you know. Haven't seen her in a long time... Her mom took her when we split...” Wheeler rounded a corner, only to be met by the blinding first rays of the sun on the horizon.
“That's too bad. Do they know that you're out here?”
“No... no... I haven talked to her in such a long time... She probably hates me.”
“What's her name?”
“We named her... Francisca...”
“After St Francis?”
“You know the saints, boy?”
“Raised by nuns, man. Hard to avoid it.” Wheeler glanced both ways at the crosswalk. “Patron Saint of animals, the environment, Italy, and stowaways. Two feasts, both in fall, born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy, to a rich merchant, and he was originally named after John the baptist. Which is to say,” he paused as he steered his way through a crowd, “Yes. I know the Saints.”
The old man laughed again, then fell into a coughing fit. “Sounds like it. We wanted her to be... gentle like him... Didn't work out.”
“Eh, names don't mean much; Living proof, right here.”
“Stephen. First Martyr of the church, patron saint of headaches, horses and Belgium. Germany too. And Italy, but they have so many that I don't count it.” Wheeler stared at a street sign for a moment. “I'm not him. I'm not wise, I'm not a great speaker, and I definitely am not a martyr. I do have a headache, though.”
“So, then, Stephen...”
“Wheeler. Everyone calls me Wheeler.”
“Wheeler, eh?” The old man coughed into his sleeve, staining it red. “Why's that?”
“Like I said, I'm no Stephen.”
“Right,” Teddy mumbled, zoning out.
“Hey, man, stay with me. Only ten blocks or so 'til the hospital.”
“Tha's a mile, boy.”
“Only a mile, man. Positive thinking.”
“You'll have to forgive this old man... Sorry about all this.”
“Hey, it's alright, man, I had nothing to do anyway.”
Ten blocks later, Wheeler deposited the old man in a wheelchair in the emergency room. “Stay here.”
“Not gonna be a problem...” Teddy sunk into his chair, soaking in the warmth of the heated hospital.
“Can I help you, Sir?” the receptionist asked politely. She fingered a clipboard with insurance papers on it, half impatiently.
“Not me,” Wheeler said, shaking his head. “Him. He doesn't have insurance, but he's coughing up blood. Didn't know what to do with him.”
“How long has he been..”
“No idea.”
Behind them, Teddy burst into another coughing fit, spattering blood all over himself and the floor. The receptionist stared. “I'll see what I can do.” She disappeared into the back part of the ER.
Wheeler sighed and took a seat next to Teddy. He picked up a magazine on nutrition, flipped through it for a moment, and put it back down. At least the ER wasn't busy. They should see him within an hour at least, and there's no way the warm air of the waiting room could hurt anything.
A jolt of pain ran through his body. He suddenly realized something. The warm air couldn't hurt Teddy, but it was dead quiet in here! He moaned.
Teddy glanced at him. “You ok?”
“Just hungry.” Wheeler replied. “Nothing a sandwich and half an hour of bad cafeteria muzak couldn't fix.”
“Mr... Um...” The receptionist stood at the door to the back.
“He's Teddy.”
“Mr... Teddy. Right. We can see you now.”
“Thanks, Ma'am.” Teddy tried to stand as he spoke, but couldn't. Wheeler pushed the wheelchair where he rested to the door, where the receptionist stood waiting.
“Sorry, man, but I don't think I can take you any further.” Wheeler held up his hands in a defeated sort of gesture. “Patient privacy and all that.”
“Well, I'll see you later, then. God bless you, Wheeler.” Teddy sat up straight and nodded to him as the receptionist wheeled him into the back part of the emergency room. Wheeler waited by the desk, not quite sure of what to do. The receptionist reappeared momentarily.
“Are you related to Teddy?” she asked, clearly surprised that he was still there. “Is he your father, or...”
“Tripped over him.”
“So you just brought a random stranger to the hospital?”
“Yeah.” Wheeler shifted from one foot to the other nervously. “He got no place to go.” He kicked himself for what he was about to do. “Here.” He handed her the 50 dollars that he'd saved to repair his guitar. “It's not much, but it's all I've got. I know it won't even begin to cover his hospital bill, but...” Wheeler shrugged. “Best I can do.”
“...Thank you.” The woman took the money hesitantly. “I'll tell him it was from you...”
“Don't bother.” Wheeler turned to leave. “I'll pay as much of his bill as I can... I might be back.” He waved goodbye without turning around, and walked out.
He made it less than a block from the hospital before he collapsed. He cursed himself and his stupidity over and over again. He was so dead. He now had no way of getting his guitar back, a hospital bill to pay, and he'd gone and missed the bells, all for the sake of some random stranger who he could have just walked away from. What on earth possessed him to do such stupid things?!
He gave in and allowed the traffic noise to wash over him, his head in his hands. It nauseated him, but it was better than the gnawing hunger he'd been feeling all day. So now he was homeless, guitarless, saddled with a debt not his own, and he was probably going to be sick. Great.
Yeah, this was going to be a wonderful day. He could just tell.

This makes no sense if you haven't read Wheeler's profile. If you haven't read Wheeler's profile, he lives off of sound. Anyway, meet Wheeler. Say hi, Wheeler.

Ok, fine. Don't say hi. See if I care.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Skyler and the mob

Skyler's wrists burned. The ropes they'd tied him with dug into his skin, rubbing the burn deeper into him with every bump or curve in the road. Perhaps if he could see, he could've been prepared, but the blindfold made that impossible.
The choking cigar smoke, however, made it very possible to tell who he was talking to.
“Shouldn't'a run, thief. That was a very bad move.” Rossin. Oh, how he hated the man.
Skyler held his tongue. Whatever he might have to say at this point couldn't possibly help him.
“Bein' quiet? Hope you did that with whoever else you mighta met.” Rossin blew a huge cloud of smoke in Skyler's face, sending him into a coughing fit. “Glad ya didn't. Yeah, we know ya didn't go to the police. Like ya could, thief.” The mob boss poked the back of Skyler's hand with the cigar tip, leaving a small burn. “Wondering how?”
“You've been watching me.” Skyler spoke in a low, controlled tone. “Ever since I cleared out.”
“Heh.” Skyler could hear the smirk in the man's voice. “Long before that, thief.” Skyler tried to keep from tensing up. He couldn't give Emma away. “And we found somethin' interestin. Boys, it seems our little thief here has got himself a girlfriend. Lose the blindfold, please.” The huge man on Skyler's right ripped the dirty rag off his face. What he saw made him wish he hadn't.
On Rossin's lap rested a portable computer. The screen showed something he had never wanted to see: Emma tied up, blindfolded, confused. He barely refrained from crying out. Rossin's grin grew wider. “Yeah, see what happens when you run?” The cigar met Skyler's hand again. “The question is, what happens now?”
“Let her go. I'll do what you want.” Skyler tried to keep his face impassive, but it was nearly impossible.
“What? Before we even get to the threatening? Well.” Rossin raised one thick eyebrow. “This should be easier than I thought. But...” Skyler hated the way this man grinned. “Let's see just how much you like her, Thief.” He pushed a button on the laptop.
“Hello?” Emma's voice crackled through. “Is anyone there? I thought I heard someone.”
“Emma!” Skyler tried to choke it back, but finally failed. “Let her go!”
“She can hear you, lover boy.” Rossin sat back, his arms folded across his chest, holding the cigar between his teeth. “So, let's get started.”
“Skyler? What's going on? Who's that?”
“Emma, I...”
“Enough talk.” Rossin pushed the button again and turned the laptop away from Skyler. “She's in good hands, don't worry. Worrn knows if he touches her, he's dead.”
“Worrn is with her?!” Skyler would've strangled Rossin, if not for rope and three bodyguards. “You know what he'll do!”
“Hey, hey, I warned him. If he touches her without my express permission, in fact, without my orders, you have my personal promise that he dies.”
“You...” Skyler shook with uncharacteristic rage. “You...”
“Me what? Monster? Uncreative. Heard it a million times. Oooh, how about devil? I like that one. Satan's a good one too.” Rossin sat back again and gave Skyler the grin that he so hated. “So. You're working for me again.”
Skyler only glared. “Right.”
“Glad we could come to an understanding, then. Boys?” The two huge men on either side of Skyler grabbed his arms. “I'll contact you when we need your expertise. Until then, stay in your apartment. If we see you going any further away than the nearest grocery store, Worrn gets a phone call. Are we clear?”
“Well, then. Show our good friend the door.” And with that, Skyler was tossed from a moving car.
The river was cold. It felt good on the rope burns. He didn't care anymore.

More random story bits. This one is kinda dormant in my head right now, but I wrote this bit a few weeks ago, and felt like posting it. Please tell me what you think.