Month: May 2014

The size of now

This is brilliant. I’m not much of one for reblogging, as I prefer to post my own words, but this really is worth the read!

Muddy River Muse

The future is a very big place.

I know this to be true, because I have spent a lot of time there– typically getting lost in the big-ness of it.

It’s an easy place in which to get lost, in part because there are no reliable maps. Geographically speaking, the future is akin to those oceanic margins that cartographers of old so helpfully labelled “Here be Dragons.” Indeed, there may well be dragons. Or baby unicorns. Or giant radioactive sea slugs. A big problem with navigating the future is that, not only is it immeasurably big, it is also many. If I start from the point in time where I stand right now, I can see a multitude of possible futures, each one uncharted, each one spinning off into infinite combinations and permutations that shift and sway with each forward step.

here-be-dragons

Granted some of those possible futures are more…

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“Starship Rider” – Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Title!

It’s time again, dear readers, for a challenge from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig!

This week’s assignment? A story title generated at random from two lists of words. A story written to match that title. 1000 words or less.  I came in right on the nose with this one, and am awfully pleased with the results.

And in the interest of fairness, here is proof of my random rolls for the words I got.

Here’s “Starship Rider”:

“And there she is, Mr. Drevin. The Starlance-005. Fastest warp bike ever made.”

I whistled as my hands found her cold, smooth surface. I caressed her as if she were a new lover, tenderly but eagerly, exploring every curve and surface. I was in a hurry, but you didn’t rush this kind of thing. I bent low, my eyes gazing across her gleaming, stainless surface, my breath fogging the duranium plates that made up her exterior. Flawless.

“Frankly, I think you’re a little nuts. But then, I think all you rocket jockeys are.”

I smiled and turned towards the sales rep.

“Nuts, huh? Can’t say that’d be the first time I was accused of that,” I said, then chuckled. “Don’t imagine that’s a real great sales tactic, though.”

The rep, Cho, I think his name was, laughed.

“Buddy, I know your type. Twelve hells, I could probably tell you that riding that thing would cause a plague on three random core worlds and simultaneously cause your mother to sprout horrible, life-altering warts, and you’d still swing your leg over that crotch-rocket and ride. No…I don’t have to sell these, friend. You do that for me.”

I laughed too, sincerely, despite my hurry. Because he was right.

“May I?” I asked, gesturing towards the lady. Cho gave a nod, and I swung my leg over, settling down into the saddle.

A little nuts was probably right. Warp bikes were insanely dangerous vehicles, and they barely qualified as that. They were little more than a warp drive fitted with handlebars, a saddle, a few control pedals and panels, and an ionic force-field generator. Support systems were as minimal as possible. Magloks to hold your atmo-suit. Molecularly-compressed oxy tanks to keep you from suffocating. A micro-fusion reactor to power the beast. Handlebars to steer it. There was no shortage of people who thought anyone stupid enough to magnetically attach a nuclear-powered rocket between their legs deserved the likely very short life they got.

Especially when there were comfortable transports around. Reliable star barges, shuttling to every populated planet in the galactic system. Nice. Safe. Slow. It was that last word that killed it for me, though. Can’t have slow. Even if that term is extraordinarily relative. Even the slowest transport traveled several times faster than light through warp space, but for a guy like me, that still wasn’t fast enough. A warp bike, though, was a starship of a different color. They were the fastest man-made objects in space. Nothing could out accelerate one, not even the top of the line dart fighters employed by the Republic peace keepers.

Granted, a bike had no weapons, no amenities, no place to rest, eat, or shit. All it had was a whole lot of speed. You couldn’t go far on one. Short jumps between systems, with regular refueling. Ancestors help you if you ran out of juice and fell out of warp somewhere off the shipping radar. There was also the need to find a place to do things like resting, eating, and so forth. Even with all that, though, even with having to stop and sleep and lose that travel time, they were still magnitudes faster than any other ship known.

And that was exactly what I needed.

I spared a glance to the skies. Clear, getting dark. It wouldn’t be long now. Cho and I wrestled verbally over the price for a short while. The final price was still ludicrously high. Starfighter high, maybe a bit more. I could have gotten him lower, but I knew I was running out of time as it was. My appreciation of that fine hunk of machinery had been a waste of time I probably couldn’t afford, but I let my baser instincts get the better of me. Besides, it’s not like they were going to be around long enough to collect on my debt.

The paperwork took too damned long, and I was beginning to get antsy. I thank the ancestors that Cho read that as eagerness to get starborne, but twelve hells, I wished he would hurry it up. Finally, he had a contract in hand and a smile on his face. I signed it, rapidly, my scrawl taking up a quarter of the page. No time for neatness. Cho escorted me to the sales lounge, helped me suit up into an acceptable atmo-suit.

Outside, the sky was dark. Any time now.

Cho ran out with me as I rushed over to the bike, opening one of the tiny storage bays and stuffing what few belongings I had into them. The sales rep beamed like a proud new father, and for a moment, I felt kind of bad for him.

Or would, if he’d let me leave already!

“Hold up, Li!” he cried. We’d taken to using first names by this point. “You’re forgetting something!”

“What?” I asked in exhasperation.

“A christening!” he laughed, pulling a small bottle of terrible champagne from his pocket. “You know it’s bad luck to fly without a name! What will you call her?”

I hopped on to the bike, my legs locking into the magloks as the atmo-tubes clicked into the air tanks. I looked to the sky.

“Harley,” I decided. “Her name is Harley.”

Cho smiled, and brought the bottle back in an overly dramatic swing.

The sky filled with flashes of light.

Fuck!

Too late – I thought about warning Cho but it was too late. And a warp bike was a one person ride.

They descended planet-side quicker than anything I’d ever seen. A thousand stars, tens of thousands of planets, and we’d never found another sentient race.

Until three cycles ago.

I’d burned out my last bike getting here. I’d barely escaped then.

“Sorry, Cho,” I said, kicking the warp drive into gear. Entering warp in atmo is dangerous. Ludicrously so. I had no choice. They were here. I had to get to the core. Warn the Republic.

I hoped I could ride fast enough.

#FFC52 – 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 22 – “When is a Door not a Door?”

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This week’s Flash Fiction challenge, from the lovely mind of…

…ok, well, I can’t do that. I came up with this week’s prompt. I’ll allow you to decide if it’s lovely or not. ;)

Thanks again to the marvelous Thain in Vain, for sponsoring such a fun weekly challenge! One day, perhaps, I’ll settle on a format for the title… ;)

Without further adieu…

“When is a door not a door?”

Bill, my doorman, stood there smiling. I was used to this; he was cheesy,  but lovable.  Today, though, I was not in the mood. I’d walked in the door to find my apartment empty, save for a note from Cheryl. A real Dear John note, she’d left and taken everything.  My world collapsed. She ran off with some guy she’d been banging, apparently for years.

I won’t lie. I wasn’t in the mood for anything. Not even life.

I gave Bill a weak smile, fighting back my tears.

“When is a door not a door?” he repeated. I relented.

“When it’s ajar,” I sighed. He smiled, mischief in his eyes.

“That’s one answer,” he chuckled, holding the door open for me. Staring at my feet, I walked through it.

***

The first thing I noticed was the smell.

It wasn’t a bad smell, just a different one. Not the city. Not the stink of a million people crammed into a tiny little living space. Not the scent of asphalt and exhaust. This was fresh. Earthy. Pure.

I was in a forest.

I turned around. My building was gone. Bill, gone. I felt my heart sink, then begin to pound again, furiously.  I looked everywhere for Bill, for a door, for something that would explain this fucking madness.

In the jungle, I heard a roar. A strange, unearthly roar.

The fuck?

The roar came again. I trembled.

***

It’s been nearly a year now. I’ve found a way to live here. The vegetation here is edible, delicious even. I have shelter, food, water. The climate here is amazing – temperate, warm, all the time as best I can tell. There are dangers, yes, but I’ve conquered them all. I’m fit again, no room for fat when surviving.

And I am surviving. Thriving, even. Every day I awaken and I find myself renewed by the energy of this world, the strange beauty of the plants and creatures within. I find myself healthy, happy, alive. To think, how close I came to losing this.

I do get lonely, though.

***

I found her, crying, trembling in fear. At first I thought she was a dream, a figment of my lonely heart and mind, but when she saw me, she rushed for me, sobbing with relief. She fell into my arms, and I held her, comforting her. Wondering.

Eventually, she calms. She speaks. It’s strange to me at first…God, had I forgotten how to speak? I know one thing, I’d forgotten how strange it felt to be naked in front of another person.  I’d forgotten the need for clothes.

Her name is Eve. How crazy is that?

God, she’s beautiful.

***

We’re happy here. This place is perfect. Eden.

I was not surprised to hear her story. Pain, abandonment, lost hope. Her mind flirting with thoughts of the comfort of death.

And then, a doorman. Smiling. Cheesy, but a lovable sort. Asking a silly riddle.

When is a door not a door?

Be not sorry for being you…

Please don’t say sorry for you being you –
You are who you’ve been from the start,
If they can’t accept “to thine own self be true”
Then they do not deserve of your heart.
Please do not try to be what you are not
To meet some other one’s whims;
There only lies madness when you become caught
In trying to be perfect for “him”…
Or her, as it suits you, or even for they
Who expect you to meet what they wish;
You don’t owe them anything, dear, so I say
You should tell them to swim with the fish.
And, strange as it seems, that goes also for me,
Should I ask you to be something too –
Fear not, then, to tell me to jump in the sea
For I’d do just the same, love, to you.

Lust tapers? Not! (NSFW, AC, Sexual content, be warned)

You must forgive my needs, my dearest love,
For how can I not want you all the time?
Of all the things this poet can think of
To set to meter, fancy up with rhyme,
There is not one that even can compare
To you, my love, my dearest lady fair.

I know, at times, it seems that all I do
Is lust for you, like some demented fiend,
And when I cannot have you, it is true
I tend to get quite grumpy, dour, and mean.
How can I not? For you are like the drug,
And I the fiending, desperate, needing thug.

I long for you with every single ounce
Of passion that I can within me find,
I see you, and I feel that I must pounce
Upon you, feel our bodies intertwined,
But since we can’t, oh, torturous the fire
That burns within me, fueled by this desire!

And soon I find that every waking thought
Is filled with dreams of you in wicked ways,
Till nothing else could penetrate the knot
Of fantasies, and nothing else could faze
My sheer desire, my throbbing, aching need
For you, that you alone could quench, could feed.

I want to feel you, soft, beneath my hands,
I want to squeeze your breasts, to hear your sighs,
I want you to give in to my demands
With giggling lust, and willful spreading thighs,
I want you to want me how I want you,
As evidenced by wet and wanting dew.

Ah, to feel that wetness as I spread
It all across your wanting, waiting flower
With playful teasing from my other head
Till both of us are drunk upon the power
That mutual lust inspires in the heart,
And makes it hurt to ever be apart.

And then, to thrust into you, to combine
Our bodies, to give in to utter bliss,
To see you flush, as red as any wine,
To taste the need upon your flowery lips,
To take you and to love you, hard and fast,
Such are the dreams that build, endure, and last.

And oh, when you are wet like that, I joy
In ways no simple words could dare describe,
For though my carnal nature may annoy
At times, I’d love if you could but imbibe,
And drink full well my lust for you, and take
All that I have to give, our lusts to slake.

I do not think I ever could relay
How powerful my need for you has grown
With every passing hour, every day
That you and I have one another known,
“Lust tapers” – no, least not for you, from I,
But burns like sun and stars within the sky.

 

Kick Fear in the Sack…

Three days of not writing is all it took to make it hard again. Well, not terribly hard. After all, here I am, writing and reading and commenting. The latter part helps more than I would have guessed; reading the works of the brilliant (and sometimes terrible) minds of the people I’ve stumbled across on this journey of habit formation is sometimes the very cure I need to my lethargy. I read your words, my friends, and weep. I read them and laugh. I read them and shout with excitement. I read them…and feel. Oh, so very much. And what is writing, what is reading, if not feeling?

A friend of mine, a fellow writer, mentioned that sometimes, she sits down to write, and wonders if it is worth it, if there aren’t better things she could be doing with her time. She also asked what excites us about writing, and what makes us scared. This was my reply:

Imagine if Hemingway had asked that. Or Tolkien. Or Rowling. The thing is, ALL writing is worth your time. Even if you were a terrible writer (which I doubt absolutely), the time you spent would not be wasted. I have read some terrible, awful fiction…and yet, it got published. And that terrible stuff inspires me to write. Maybe something less terrible. Maybe even something great, that will inspire and entertain, and maybe even teach someone a little. The point is, that wondering, that questioning of worth, is just another aspect of fear. Another way that fear is manipulating you and keeping you from doing what your heart wants. Kick fear in the sack. Write.

My moments of excitement are easy to define – they are the ones where I begin writing and become lost in the world of my imagination, when the words flow from my brain through my fingertips and onto the screen and I can say to myself “this is good stuff!” The moments of fear are less hard to define, as they can be so insidiously subtle. They are the moments where I am too tired to write (but not too tired to play a video game for several hours). They are the moments where I have a great idea, then sit down at the screen and stare at it blankly. They are the moments where I am a hundred pages into a work, then go back and read it and rip it all to shreds and start over. Fear sucks. Fear is, as Herbert so eloquently put it, the mind-killer. But when you conquer that fear? That is the best excitement of them all.

So that is my advice for today. The advice that I am going to take myself.

Kick fear in the sack.

Be excited.

WRITE!

“Protected” – Another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge: 100 Word Stories…

One hundred words to tell a complete story. Beginning, middle, and end. It’s a tough challenge this week from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig, but I did my best to meet it.  Warning, it’s a bit dark.

Cancer. Fucking pancreatic cancer.

I left when she started crying. I took the letter with me, its portents of doom delivered.

Fuck. FUCK!

I know what I need to do. No chemo. No stretching out the inevitable, until I’m too sick to do anything but wish I hadn’t done anything.

I walk to the closet. Beneath the linens from her mom. I open the gun case.

***

The barrel smokes. Her ex, a bloody mess on the floor.

I’m sorry babe. If I can’t protect you in life, I’ll protect you with death.

One more shot to go.

I love you.

 

Going dark for the next 24 hours or so…

Howdy all!

I have been running like a maniac since 7:30 this morning. My stepdaughter graduated high school today, and I put together a pretty killer pasta bar, but I’ve been cleaning, cooking, shopping, chopping, arranging decorations… I am exhausted! And in a couple hours, I take a five hour drive out of state.

So, I’m not going to get any more writing than this tonight. Tomorrow, depending on when I get home, I may try to get some in…but Monday for sure!

Catch y’all then!

My four year anniversary!

Four years have passed, how quick they fled!
It hardly feels like that at all,
Each day I wake within our bed,
And fresh, my love of you, recall.

Love makes the years pass quickly by,
Or so the poets tend to say;
And truth, like lightning did they fly
To this, our four year wedding day.

Of course, the paradox is this –
Though short our time has seemed to be
That we have spent in wedded bliss,
It sometimes feels eternity.

What can I mean with such remark?
‘Tis just that I cannot recall
A life without your love, your spark,
Your heart, your mind, your one and all.

E‘en when I think back to the days
When you and I were not as one
Those memories blur – a different phase
Before a better life begun.

Remember then, this blissful morn
That then, four years ago today,
A better man was made and born,
Forever more with you to stay.

So let this be the best of days,
Rejoice in what we’ve had, and then
Look forward to the joy and praise,
Of what will come, not if, but when.

Happy anniversary, my sweet and lovely Myndee June. You know I’m a man of old tradition, and on this day, I am no different. Each stanza bears a clue that spells out todays surprise. I love you darling!

Since my lovely wife doesn’t follow my writing blog, I feel comfortable spoiling her surprise here! ;) As highlighted in the poem above (the one she received did not have such highlights), the first letter of each stanza of this piece spells out the word FLOWERS. Flowers are the traditional gift for a fourth anniversary, so in addition to the poem, my very awesome mom is sneaking over this morning to replant the flower bed in front of our house, that my wife has long been lamenting for its lack of, well, flowers.

I know it’s probably silly, but I really am a traditionalist at heart when it comes to such things. For our first anniversary, I wrote her a poem that I calligraphed on a sheet of fine, handmade paper and framed.  For our second, high thread count cotton sheets. The third, a leather Coach wallet, that she had wanted for ages. And thus, today, flowers…I hope she loves them!

2014 Flash Fiction Challenge Week 21 – “Baggage” #FFC52

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This week’s challenge, from the lovely Thain in Vain:

“A woman purchases a cookbook at a charity book sale and discovers a note tucked in the pages.”

As usual, 500 words or less. This one comes in right on the nose. Here we go, with “Baggage.”

“Karen! Cookbooks!”

Molly knew the exact words to catch Karen’s attention. Molly was her best friend, and she knew that Karen’s great loves in life were reading and cooking. When Molly got word about a book sale to raise money for the battered women’s shelter (Molly’s passion, thanks to her abusive ex), she knew she had to drag Karen along.

But Karen was reluctant. It was harder and harder to get out of the house since her husband Dean died. He had ignited her love of cooking – a passionate chef, he awakened her inner foodie, exposing her to strange and exotic tastes, expanding her appreciation for food and the world. Dean was a contractor, flying all over the world, and everywhere he’d go, he’d find new recipes and bring them back to share with her. That way, even though they couldn’t see it together, she could get a taste of the world. It was on such a trip that he’d died in a plane crash.

It was hard at first, going into the kitchen without him. Just looking at the stove would cause her to burst into tears, grasped in the clutches of inconsolable grief and shaken violently by its unrelenting pain. Time, though, made it more bearable. Eventuall6y, she found that cooking was a way of making things feel normal again. In the kitchen, she could almost feel Dean’s presence behind her, guiding her steps, advising her choices of spices and ingredients. She could, for a while, pretend he was there. She always cooked for two.

It was how she and Molly had come together. They had never really talked while they were both married, but had lived across the hall from each other for years. Things with Molly’s ex had come to a head not long after Dean passed; it was Karen who called the police, who escorted Molly to the hospital with a broken jaw, a dislocated arm. It was Karen who stood by her side when time came to prosecute. It was Karen who always had an extra plate of dinner to comfort her.

The two began flipping through the stacks of cookbooks.

“I wonder where they come from?” Karen mused.

“All over,” Molly answered. “Some are donated by clearance houses. Some from libraries. Some even come from that place that processes lost baggage.”

Karen picked up a book. Around the World in 80 Recipes. She smiled sadly. Dean probably would have loved this one. She picked it up, leafed through it.

Something fell out, a small folded bit of paper.

She bent and picked it up, unfolded it.

Her heart nearly stopped as she began to read.

Karen,

 This next trip is going to be a long one. I found this at the airport bookstand. Their prices are ridiculous, but I couldn’t resist. I know I’ll miss you, and that you’ll miss me, but maybe these recipes will help make it feel like I’m there.

 I love you.

Dean.

Karen closed the book and wept.