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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Weekends are tough

Looks like the weekends may be a bit difficult to get this done. Hopefully tomorrow I may have the time to make two updates. Keep a look out for that!

Day 3: Lunch Hour

Kevin escaped from Roosevelt Middle school. Just like he had done for the past week. When crossing the street, he always pretended to be an action star. His favorites were from the black and white tapes his father had left. Today, he was Steve McQueen. From his hiding spot in the bushes along the front of school, he could see his freedom. Across the street, a flag pole stood tall and proud in front of a large building. The American flag flapped bravely in the wind. He just had to get to the embassy and he’d be safe.

Either side of Park Avenue was clear and checking behind him showed that he hadn’t been followed. It was as good a time as any. Kevin broke from the bushes and ran with all his might toward the building. His over stuffed back pack bounced erratically, forcing him to hold the shoulder straps tight. He was close. Freedom was his!

“There’s the booger!”

Caught! Kevin looked back over his shoulder. It was her. Brenda, the seventh grade giant. Her five-foot-two frame allowed her to tower over Kevin. Which she often did when she would trap him in a corner. The top half of her face was covered in a mass of freckles that made her look like she was wearing some kind of mask. Her fiery red hair was pulled back into wild pigtails and her green eyes spelled murder. She ran after Kevin, followed by a gang of relatively smaller boys.

Kevin picked up the pace.

It had been like this ever since he had started the sixth grade. He didn’t know what he had done to get Brenda’s attention. But he had done it. From the first day of class she would corner him during lunch, charlie horse every limb into numbness, then take his lunch. This week had been different. Mrs. Wzeljock, his teacher, informed him that the school doesn’t mind if the children spend their lunch hour at the university library across the street. Armed with the knowledge, Kevin had given Brenda the slip every day. Until today. And it was clear she was not OK with it.

The University of Vermont’s library, his embassy, shone as a beacon of safety. His lead on Brenda was good. Kevin looked back once again and fear struck him. Her long, spindly legs were a blur of motion. She had left her gang behind and her face was red. Kevin hit the lawn of the library, but his shoes weren’t ready for the slick grass. His feet flew out from beneath him and he tumbled over, his heavy backpack drove him hard into the ground.

Bits of rock in the dirt scraped along his knee and elbow as he rolled over the ground onto his back. His leg cried out in pain. But his brain screamed at him to keep moving. Brenda would catch him if he stayed on the ground. Straining against his heavy pack, Kevin lifted himself off the ground with a mighty grunt. Well, mighty for a seventy pound short stack. He got to his feet and stole a glance over his shoulder — Brenda was barreling down. Her fierce red hair looked like a mane of fire. Keven bolted for the steps leading up to the doors.

He could hear Brenda’s boots slapping the pavement of the parking lot behind him. Running up the steps proved to be too much. Lugging the backpack up the stairs slowed him to a crawl. Brenda reached out a clawed hand, her multitude of colored bangles rattled together like a snakes tail. She latched onto the hand strap of Kevin’s bag.

Which was exactly what Kevin had planned on. He felt her fingers wrap around the strap and that was when he slipped out from the backpack. Brenda pulled down hard, expecting to pull Kevin down with it. Instead the now lighter bag rocketed to the steps, causing Breada to stumble over it.

“You little twirp!” Brenda scrambled over the bag and swiped another clawed hand at Kevin’s ankle.

After a few more steps and one flung door, Kevin was inside the library. Resting his back against the door, he breathed hard to catch his breath. He could hear Brenda yelling after him and getting closer.

Inside, the library was cool and dark compared to the warm spring day. The librarian was shooting daggers at Kevin over her thick rimmed glasses. Her deep red lips pursed together. “Excuse me,” Kevin said. He gave her a weak smile then made a brisk retreat into the safety of the library. Just as he turned down a long row of bookcases, he heard the doors fly open.

“Yow owe me big, Baxter!” Brenda yelled out. Her voice shook the books surrounding Kevin. He pressed himself against them, willing that he could be absorbed by them.

“Young lady! That is unacceptable.”

Kevin swore he heard a small, eep, escape Brenda’s lips.

“Another out burst like that and I’ll make sure your teachers know how you’ve been behaving. Do you understand?”

“Yes ma’am.” Brenda’s rubber soles squeaked on the marble floors.

It was time to find a better hiding place. Kevin slunk along the bookcase, deeper into the sprawling library.

The University of Vermont’s library was old and oppressive. Rows upon rows of bookcases sat like sentries in the aging building. The ceiling was tall, which made Kevin feel more like a runt than ever. He slipped between the “Mm – Np” cases for Natural History and headed toward the back side of the building. As he wove in and out of the aisles, the darker his surroundings became. The bookcases in the back corner were spaced closer together, causing Kevin to feel squeezed.

Stopping in the row marked, “Ancient Civilizations”, Kevin leaned back and tried to calm himself. He strained to listen out for Brenda’s squeaking shoes over the thud of his heart beat in his ears. Nothing. Another close call, but he gave her the slip. Kevin continued down the row of books and came out by the far wall. The lights were so dim that Kevin could barely make out the small plaque in front of him, pointing out that the exit was to his right.

Out of the corner of his left eye, Kevin caught a light flick on. At the very corner of the building, was a door. The soft glow of a lamp could be seen through the crack along the door jam. A green glass square had been set into the middle of the door, casting an eerie glow dancing along the floor. Kevin approached with growing apprehension. But there was something special about the room that drew him in.

A large brass doorknob, in the shape of a lions head mid roar, jutted out. Kevin placed his small, trembling hand on top of the lion’s mane and marveled at how cold it was. Closer now, he could read the peeling letters across the glass.

Office of Whipple Van Buren Phillips, P.H.D. Paranormal Studies

Kevin turned the knob, and with a soft click the door popped open a few inches. A hand slammed down on his shoulder and spun him around. Kevin let out a not so manly yelp.

Brenda’s smallish nose was just inches from his. She squinted a green eye at him and her lips snarled in anger.

“You’re in for it now, twirp.”

This little exercise has taken on a little life of its own. I’m stopping there because I’m really enjoying where this is going. Maybe this is exactly what I need for NaNoWriMo

Day 2: Street Doc

Fun with Cyberpunk.

“This will hurt.” Cutter latched the head brace across Rixer’s forehead. Three metal nubs on the inside of the half-circle bar bit into Rixer’s skin.

“Gah!”

Cutter flashed a row of too white teeth and let out a satisfied chuckle. Rixer lay spread eagle on a modified dentist chair from the early twenty first century. He was sitting back slightly, watching the doctor secure thick metal clasps around his arms and legs. Like his head, each bit down into his skin. The cushions of the chair had rotted out decades ago. Now only stained leather over hard wood supported the thug.

Surrounding Rixer inside the abandoned warehouse were cluttered workstations. Rows of luma-bulbs had been affixed to their undersides, casting a soft blue under-light. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Cutter darting between the stations. The doc was old and a bit weird, Rixer thought. Cutter had shaved his head, but grown out a thick graying beard. He wore an all white mechanics jumper that was cinched at the wrists and ankles. His left hand was an ancient cybernetic replacement that was complimented by a discontinued datajack implanted into his left temple. Rixer watched the street doc hammer the keys on dying computer decks. Many of which were missing keys.

Mumbles escaped now and then as he read the information on the monitor before taking off to another station. Thick cables snaked around the legs of the sturdy metal tables, ran along the floor, then climbed up the rusted support beams of the building. The old tech made Rixer nervous.

“This gonna work? This drek looks like it’s gonna go vapor.”

Cutter flashed Rixer another toothy grin before slipping on a bulky set of VR goggles. He looked over Rixer’s body. Prodding at the thugs thin, sinewy muscle. On a monitor behind the doctor, Rixer could see the an x-ray layout of his own body. The dense dermal plating that was woven across his chest created a dark spot on the screen. As Cutter moved up Rixer’s body, the image followed. Long strands of wire crisscrossed through his limbs and led up to a bundle at the base of his skull.

Running along the right side of Rixer’s head, just beneath the skin, where four dark squares. From each a network of fibers had been attached to specific points in his brain. “How long have you had these skillsofts?” Cutter lifted his VR goggles and pushed back Rixer’s hair to check the skin.

“A few months. Best cred I ever spent. Some hacking upgrades. A killer driving algorithm. And I splurged for…”

“They have to come out.”

“Frag you man! I just got ’em!”

“They’ll interfere with my procedure.” Cutter removed the goggles, pressed a button which caused the chair to lay back flat, and then slipped out of Rixer’s periphery.

Rixer struggled against his bonds. The metal nubs in the head brace dug deeper. “I’ll turn you to meat, man! You didn’t say shit about havin’ to pull my ‘ware. Yorin called and vouched you were up and over, man. I don’t care how sly this tech is. Let me out!” As the thug pulled harder the latches tightened.

Laughter from Cutter bounced around the warehouse. “Yorin. He was the tweaker on the BTLs if I remember. Long list of contacts and an easily modulated voice.”

Sounds of tools banging and the quick test of a whirring saw made Rixer flinch. Sweat mingled with blood trickled down his brow. “OK, man. Deals off. I’ll even let you keep the cred. Wiz?” Rixer’s voiced cracked and he made a small chuckle. The Street Doc’s footsteps echoed throughout the warehouse making it hard to pin point him. Rixer’s eyes darted back and forth, but he could only catch a glimpse of the white jumper sporadically.

“Funny. Your friend friend Yorin said the same thing.” Cutter leaned over into Rixer’s face, a splatter shield pulled down over his own. The light from the luma-bulbs caught Cutter from beneath, throwing his eyes into deep shadows. His warm breath fogged the plastic into neat little circles. “And I’ll tell you what I told him. You’re serving a higher cause. And I’ll just take the rest of your money once I’m done with you.” He lifted his cybernetic hand, now replaced by bone saw shining in the light. It kicked to life.

Shock rippled through Rixer when the saw entered his head. His eyes bulged and his mouth opened wide in a silent scream. His jaw popped out of socket from the strain. Cutter removed the strip of skin and hair, revealing the four skillsofts attached to the bone. Rixer heard, more than felt, a screwdriver popping the implants from his skull. Once free, Cutter collected the dangling skillsofts in his hand and then yanked. Rixer’s skull echoed the wires popping free from the connections to his brain. His body burst into an explosion of senses as his brain fought to understand the surge of electric impulses. He gurggled and felt his tongue go numb.

As Rixer’s vision was dimming, Cutter whispered into his ear, “With a bit of cutting, everyone can become perfect.”

30 day challenge: Day 1

Going to write some Flash Fiction every day for the next 30 days. It is time I push myself as a writer. You’re with me, right? Write.

Kan Boar read the stars above and shuddered. Ruler Chan Kawil would be displeased with his reading. But for the past seven days it had not changed. Despite the bloodletting upon the pedestal of the Gods, and the sacrifices,  the great heavenly bodies did not change. Tikal, the center of Mayan society, was doomed. Jaguar Priest Kan Boar sent his servants away and thought in solitude.

The stars stood firm. Their message was clear. A Pale Rider loomed over Tikal. Many arms, strong and terrible, stretched out over the stars, ready to engulf everything it saw. It hungered and would not stop until its powerful lusts were satisfied. The People would be wiped from the face of the Earth. And they were powerless to stop him.

The weight of Kan’s headdress pressed down upon him. The large, golden statue of a jaguar with ruby eyes was oppressive against his forehead. A slow spreading headache wrapped itself around his head. The long Quetzal tail feathers woven into the back hung low and itched his bare shoulders. For long moments he remained in the roof-comb at the top of the temple. Perhaps if he stayed inside long enough, the people and Chan would forget him.

Through the south door of temple he could see the soft glow of a multitude of torches. Murmurs and prayers climbed their way up the temple steps into the room. Kan could feel their anxiety like bugs crawling across his skin. Once more he shuddered and walked out of the room onto the temple steps.

Down the steep steps, in the large open field the People of Tikal had gathered. Since his retreat into the temple more had arrived. The news of Kan’s nightly readings had spread and now they all stood, shoulder to shoulder, waiting to hear his final proclamation. Since the third evening they began to gather. In earnest the People prayed to the Gods.

Spare us.

Kan now stood before them. For the last time. A sea of hopeful eyes and fervent prayers met him. He worked his mouth, but no words came forth. Why was he chosen to be these People’s harbinger of destruction? He lifted his hands, fingers spread, and a wave of silence washed over the gathered masses. Kan, gritted his teeth.

“The heavens have spoken their last message,” his voice was clear to all, propelled by the curvature of the roof-comb to reach the furthers member. A pit grew in his stomach and radiated up his chest. “They say… They have heard the prayers of the faithful. Peace is with us!”

The lie drove him to his hands and knees. But the crowd erupted in cheers and exultation. Children danced, mothers kissed their new born babes, and men called out triumphant war cries. He wept for them. For what he was doing to them. All the while he masked his tears as those of relief.

Ruler Chan Kawil ascended the steps, his long train of golden silks beaded with jade stones billowed out behind him. Chan Kawil lifted Kan to his feet and wrapped his arm around the priest. Addressing the People, “Ix Chel smiles down upon us this evening. Truly she favors our great Jaguar Priest Kan Boar, Star Reader. Heaven touched! We shall erect a temple in his name.”

More cheers and prayers reached Kan. With each shout of his name he twinged. Their words felt like hot coals being drug across his back. I shall bear this burden, he thought. Let them live their last days in revelry.

He dismissed himself from Chan. Claiming he must perform the final rituals of thankfulness to the Gods.

Inside the roof-comb the praises of the Tikal People were muffled. Their torches and growing bonfires caused the carvings of the Gods to cast fierce shadows. The four Bacabs, guardians of the cardinal points, sneered at Kan from their places above the four entrances to the room.  He approached Can Tzicnal, bacab of the north who was painted in a wash of white.

“Does this have to be the way?” Turning in a circle, he looked to each God in turn. “I have served the Gods in every way. I have done everything you have asked of me. The people have followed unquestioningly. Yet you turn your backs upon us.” Kan fell prostrate before Can Tzicnal. “Take what you want from me. But spare them, I beg of you.”

Kan lay in the dim orange light. The Gods were silent.

Jaguar Priest Kan Boar stood up. His face was stained from tears mingled with dirt. Lifting his hands, which trembled in anger, he removed his headdress then cast it to the floor. The golden jaguar statue broke free and clattered across the stone. Kan let out a roar of anger, snatched the obsidian knife from the sacraficial pedestal and pointed it toward Can Tzicnal.

“I will bring my wrath upon you in Xibalbá!” Kan flipped the blade around, grabbed the handle with both hands, then thrust it into his heart. A hollow thud echoed in his chest when the hilt collided with his breast bone. Kan Boar’s dark eyes stared intently upon the carving of Can Tzicnal. A wicked, blood filled grin spread across his face.

Kan’s lifeless body slumped to the floor. His blood filling the cracks of the stone beneath it.

***

The mourning over Kan Boar was felt across Tikal. Ruler Chan Kawil was so overcome that he refused all aid and languished within his palace. On the seventh month the People had  their first encounter with the Pale Men in Silver. While leary of these newcomers, Chan eventually trusted them. They traded freely with their leader. He rode a strange beast of burden, clad in silver.

But the Pale men soon turned on Tikal. With wicked sorcery they cast plagues upon the People. Stole their land, precious metals, and stones. They rode out and consumed all that was in their path. The People cried out for mercy from the Gods. Why did you, why did Kan Boar, forsake us?

If only they knew to not trust these men. If only then, they could have been saved.

Update

Trying to get back into the habit of posting updates on what is going on. So here we go. I have started meeting with a local group of Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers every other week. It has been the best writing group I’ve ever been a part of. Lots of varied and valid opinions from everyone. Plus they are all solid, capable writers in their own right. So bully there.

Personally I’ve been working on my first novel, “The Weird.” The slug I’ve been working with so far is this:

Teddy Roosevelt assembles a secret team to fight paranormal activity.

It was a fun place to start. A bit derivative of things like “Warehouse 13” or “X-Files”, but I wanted to see where I could take it. As with most things, as I began to get my notes in order and rules for the world things changed drastically. The focus on certain characters shifted around. Several were added or taken away. It really took on a life of its own.

But as the deeper I got into it the more I wondered if it was the story I actually wanted to tell. I have currently written the first two chapters and now doubt has set in. Not whether or not I am a good writer. But if it is a good story. Is it sellable? I suppose that is a bit early to ask.

My second book idea is a Y.A. Horror story. Like a Cthulhu for Kids. I know this is a contradiction in terms, but I think you can do some very interesting things with it. So like “The Weird” I’m starting to flesh out the rules of the world and find my characters. I’m even tempted to set both stories within the same world. That way I only have to keep so much information in my head at once.

Other than those two works I have a short story called “There Was a Death”, that I’m muddling through. Once I get it to a state I like I’ll post an excerpt here. It’s a pretty dense concept about reality, the after life, and the human consciousness.  It is a lot to pack in and make understandable, but I think my take on it is interesting. We’ll see.

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