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!