Friday, October 3, 2014

The Thief Who Couldn't

“Gentlemen, can’t we talk about this? I mean, it was just a scroll. One scroll out of thousands of scrolls in the library!”  The man looked between the two guards outside of his cell, batting his eyelashes and smiling his brightest smile. The guards looked at one another, very obviously caving to the prisoner’s charms.
“Well, he’s right, ain’t he? It were just one scroll…” the first guard said, tentatively pulling a ring of keys from the pocket of his jacket.
“And he did do a real poor job of stealin’ it…” the second guard agreed, looking the thief over with narrowed eyes.
“Oh, just the worst! I may as well have announced my intentions to the entire township!” The prisoner agreed amicably.
“As long as you promise not to do it again, I can let you out.” The first guard said, holding the key an inch away from the lock.
“I swear on the grave of my mother!” He said solemnly, neglecting to mention that his mother was still quite alive and owned a thriving tailor’s business in Glensdale, about twenty miles east. In fact, he wore the lovely crimson traveling cloak she’d just sewn together for his 30th year, not a week previous.
That seemed to be enough for the guards, however, as the first slipped the key into the lock and released the prisoner, and the second graciously opened the cell door.  
“Much obliged, gentlemen! I’ll be out of your hair in a moment…” he walked by the table on which his ill gotten gain sat; an unassuming scroll sealed with old wax, then paused dramatically. “Right, nearly forgot my scroll!” As he swiped the paper off the desk, both guardsmen protested loudly. The thief put his hand up. “Now, good sirs, surely you wondered why I would steal a single scroll out of thousands, nay, millions?” This question brought the guards up short, and they hesitated. “It is mine, of course! Been in the family for generations! Wrongfully collected and stored away in that dusty mausoleum of dead tomes and forgotten ledgers!”
“Where’s your proof, then?” The first guard questioned the thief, sounding as though he’d asked something clever.
“I’m afraid I have none, other than to tell you I know that I know opening this scroll would unleash a curse of epic proportions upon the good townsfolk, so naturally I had to retrieve it and keep you all safe from an untimely death!”
“I… well, that does sound serious now, don’t it?” The second guard said, turning to his companion.
“It does indeed. Well, you best get it to safety, then!” The first guard straightened up, and pointed towards the heavy door that led to the upper floor and outside to safety. “Best move along!” He said this as though it had been his idea to free the thief, and allow him his stolen goods, in the first place.
With another flourish of his large hat, the thief made his way towards the door, tucking the scroll carefully into the pack tied at his waist. He confidently grasped the handle, and pulled… and pulled… and grunted… and stepped back from the door.
“Good sirs, might one of you assist me? This door appears to be exceptionally heavy!” He said, no trace of embarrassment or frustration evident in his tone. The guards looked at each other in confusion, and one of them walked down the short hallway to open the door. The thief bowed once more, then disappeared up the stairs.
“If he had trouble with this door, there ain’t no way he’s getting past the one that’s leadin’ outside.” The first guard said. They both laughed, then followed the cheerful thief up the stairs to help him escape the building.
The thief, Delridge von Stealsthings, waited until he’d made it outside the limits of the busiest parts of town before he cracked the wax seal on the scroll. He’d heard from a guttersnipe, who’d heard from a nobleman, who’d heard from a priest, that this scroll contained a powerful spell that would imbue anything he cast it on with the ability to generate gold. He chuckled to himself, proud of how he’d talked his way out of a very problematic experience. But his pride, and elation, drained away as he looked over the contents of the scroll.
He couldn’t read a bloody word of it.

“Chris, this character is useless.” Mark, the creator of the barbarian character that hadn’t been introduced yet, said with a roll of his eyes.
“No, I’ll just have him find the clergyman who knew about the scroll and talk him into translating it for a cut of the gold!” Chris protested, pulling out his d20 to roll.
“Seriously though, if you have to make checks on every single thing like this, it’s going to drag the game out way longer than it needs to be. Are you sure you don’t want to reroll your stats?” The GM, Samantha, raised a skeptical eyebrow as she asked the question.
“You couldn’t even open a door!” Mark added. “A DOOR. There are bound to be at least a few more of those during the game!”
“Whatever, I told you I was going to get through a campaign with a character that sunk all his points into charisma, and I’m gonna do it.”
“Can’t you at least like, raise your strength back up to 8 so you aren’t defeated by doors?”
Chris sighed theatrically.
“FINE. I’ll take my charisma stat down to put strength back up to 8. Is that good enough for doors, Sam?” He looked up to the GM after furiously erasing the “6” next to “Str” on his character sheet.
“Well you won’t be lock picking anytime soon, but regular doors should pose no problem to you.” She laughed at the look on her friend’s face.
“This is what you get for having a high charisma and a low everything else.” Mark muttered, taking a sip of his soda. This was going to be a long evening.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

His Suit And Tie

He adjusted his tie, fixed his hair, and checked his teeth in the mirror. His suit was new (but smelled faintly of the inside of a closet), and his shoes were polished black. A garbage bag full of torn pants and dirty shirts sat near the door, waiting to be disposed of. The signs were already in the dumpster behind his apartment building. 

Ten minutes passed while he stood in his bathroom, and he couldn't say what he'd been thinking during that time, if anyone had bothered to ask.  No one did; not that day, not ever. 

Sunlight poured over buildings and pooled between the shadows of leaves on the ground, driving the man's spirits further downward as he walked to the corner of 9th and Stewart. One of the busiest corners in the city; the corner that had been his station until that morning. As soon as he'd donned the suit, he'd given up on his previous occupation. His previous life.  

He told himself he wouldn't do this, but he couldn't resist. Just one more visit. He walked slowly by the cafe on the corner. No one shouted obscenities at him, no one heckled him, and no one looked at him with pity. 

"The world didn't end like he thought, I wonder what he's doing now?"
"Probably killed himself. Can you imagine? How ridiculous would you feel if you went to bed expecting to be lifted up to some city in the clouds while you slept, and then woke up to the realization that you'd been wrong? Wrong for like... years of your life?" Two regulars he recognized conversed next to him, completely unaware of their present company. 

Their laughter burned in his heart, and blood rushed to his face. He considered walking into traffic. He considered wandering down dark alleys, looking for bad situations. He considered a lot of things in those few moments of humiliation and fear of the unknown. 

He straightened his tie, and continued his walk toward the daughter he'd disowned after she told him she didn't believe in his God. Now that they had something in common, maybe they could reconcile. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Eric Clapton Is Pretty Neat

Sorry, all I can hear in my head is the song. You know the one. If you don't, you're missing out on some sweet, sweet earlove.

I could change the world right now. I am changing it, slowly. Not in any ways that'll impact you directly, unless you own that frozen custard place up on 5th. I may have relieved you of two pints of vanilla custard last night. Don't worry, I enjoyed them more than any of your customers ever could. I even left a tip.

It's pretty easy to change the world though, one small piece at a time. If you follow some of my easy instructions, if everyone did, the world would probably be a way better place. If not better, then definitely more interesting.

Teleport into a pet store and take the animals to a shelter. "What if I can't teleport?" You ask. Well, then this tip isn't for you, and your life is kinda lame.

"Don't you show up on camera?" I also hear you asking. Well, no, because I'm not stupid. I wear a mask. It's a pretty sweet mask. Quit distracting me, ok?

Spend a few of your hard earned dollars on some flowers. Tulips are a pretty good bet; they're simple and don't have a lot of emotional attachment associated with them. And, in the right places, they're like a dollar per flower. Pass them out to random people, especially tired-looking moms. If you don't get maced after you try to offer them the flower, you'll likely receive a surprised and genuine smile. You'll know it's genuine, because it reaches their eyes. That's another fun game; call out people who aren't really smiling and make everything awkward.

This one requires that you pay attention (for once in your life). If you're out somewhere and you notice someone didn't tip at a restaurant, or coffee shop, or whatever, and you know that person was kind of a jackass... make a big, loud show out of tipping FOR them. "Oh, miss/sir, this tip is for you BECAUSE THAT GUY IS A CHEAPASS." Etc.

Take flowers from a nice yard and put them into a shitty yard. Can you imagine this trashy, dirty yard with one really cool flower in it? That would improve the yard at least a hundred-fold. PS: Don't let the first person notice you doing it. Most people don't take kindly to grand theft flora.

When homeless people ask you for change, look them in the eye and tell them sorry, you don't have any change on you. Or give them change. Or offer to buy them food. Really, is it so hard to at least pretend that they're a fellow human being? Jesus Christ, people. I mean, I don't like the smell of urine any more than you do. And if you do like the smell, I won't judge you.

Be nice to animals. If you aren't nice to animals, I will come to your house and ruin your day.

If you see a kid being an asshole, and their oblivious parent isn't putting a stop to it... say something. I don't mean smack some stranger's child around, but ... you know, suggest it.

These are only a few of many things I could suggest to change the world. But it's time for me to finish off that second pint of custard.

(Mini-serial I wrote on This is in response to the question 'How would you change the world?' )

Finally, The Flying Car!

In 100 years, there better be some goddamn flying cars. I don't need a Jetsons scenario or anything, but I expected something better than the crappy system we have going on now. Although, now that I think about it... it'll probably be worse to have people blowing stop signs hundreds of feet up in the air.

I'll step away from my doom-and-gloom scenario for a second here. Maybe we won't blow ourselves up or ruin our planet. Maybe we'll finally take a good look around and be like "Woops, oil really WAS limited!", and find something better. Cleaner. We'll have some cool nano-tech shit to play with. Maybe we'll speed up evolution in ourselves to become better, faster, stronger. Or maybe we'll mess some shit up and all grow tails.

Maybe waiting in line at Starbucks will take 2 seconds instead of 2 minutes.

Maybe we'll finally have a cure for Shitty Monday-itis. Or, you know... cancer.

And maybe, just maybe, they'll develop a remote that allows you to mute that lady you work with who has the really obnoxious laugh. Everyone has one of those.

(Mini-serial I wrote on In response to the question 'What do you think the world will look like in a hundred years from today?')

I Said 'No Salt' On My Margarita

Honestly, if I see myself at all in 20 years, it'll be a miracle. If it's not the suit wearing creeper, it could be that I finally kill myself in a teleporting accident. Or maybe I'll read the memories off of some particularly nasty piece of work and go insane. Or maybe I'll get hit by a car when I forget to look both ways. Who knows?

It sure would have been awesome to have "Precognition" on my list of Shit I Can Do, wouldn't it?

I'll probably be living it up on a tropical island somewhere. I'll only drink my drinks out of a fruit (pineapples and coconuts, please!). I'll never wear shoes again. I'll lay in the sun until I look like a leather wallet. I'll probably never get rid of the sand in those hard-to-reach places.

The idea of having kids is a nice one, but I don't want to burden a wife, or a child, with the problems I have. And, to be honest, I'm pretty selfish. I don't know if that'll change, but I do know that it makes me a pretty shitty superhero. "Not now, bitch, I'm trying to finish this episode of Doctor Who", I'll say as I shut my window against the sound of someone screaming in the night.

Well maybe I'm not THAT selfish. But pretty damn close.

I'm not motivated enough to move up the corporate ladder. I don't have a lot of ambition in life, except to make it to the end. Maybe, in 20 years, I'll meet my Suited Stalker, and we'll have margaritas instead of a brawl.

(Mini-serial I wrote on This is a followup to the story 'Real Life Slenderman')

Apples To Apples

The most important thing I can tell you is that QA is about as interesting as it sounds. Quality assurance. Here's how your shit is broken. Oh, you don't think it's broken. That's cool, but it is. Oh, you're not going to take my advice, and you're going to release it broken. That's cool, but now you have bad reviews. What do you mean, "this is QA's fault"?

That's my work. All the time. Sure, there are rewarding moments. When something I suggest needs to be fixed actually gets fixed. But that's such a small percentage in the face of all the times I deal with people who don't listen, people who don't care, and people who get hard-ons at the thought of meeting/exceeding a numbers goal. I don't give a shit about your 'records', you dick!

So my advice to you is that you do something else. Do something that doesn't involve people. In fact, just work with kittens and puppies. They're nicer, fluffier, and less likely to tell you that you're a moron for daring to suggest that their pet project is anything less than God's Work.

(Mini-serial I wrote on In answer to the question 'What advice do you have for young people interested in your area of work?' )

Sweet, Sweet Lemonade

Life doesn't give me lemons. I refuse that shit. Who said you had to take lemons from Life? Who said you had to take ANYTHING from Life? Lemons, limes, strawberries, kiwis; none of it. In fact, I GIVE lemons to Life. That's where Life gets all the fruit from.

Anyway, so I'll be honest. Sometimes I get a little down about things. I can't be 100% awesome all the time, probably. When I'm not at my best, I like to teleport out to this little tree house I've built out on the Olympic Peninsula. You heard that story, right? I hope so, otherwise this part makes no sense.

This tree house is pretty basic. Nothing fancy. Since I teleport out there, I don't exactly need too much in the way of amenities. Just a nice, comfortable lounge chair, a bookshelf, and a ton of my favorite books. Most people who know me wouldn't peg me for a reader. But I eat that shit up. Rothfuss, King, Simmons, Gaiman. Everyone reads these books thinking they're only fiction. Since I know better, they're a lot more interesting to me.

"But," I hear you asking, "what if you can't teleport when you're having a bad day?" Well, Mr. or Miss Sassypants, you could probably just pick up a book and read it in your boring ass living room.

(Mini-serial I wrote on This is an answer to the question 'When life gives you lemons, what do you do?' )