Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 36

Mid-July sun warmed my face as I waited for the 36. The bakery behind the bus stop, Cup These Cakes, caused a lot of drama with the conservative women in town, but filled the air with the delicious scent of fresh-baked bread. It's hard to complain about the name of the place when the gals behind the counter produce some of the best lemon glazed pastries I've ever had the fortune of sinking my teeth into.

I didn't move quickly anymore. I didn't care to hurry, even if I had still been able. I walked with a cane, and I found myself accosted at nearly every street corner by well-meaning girls and boys looking to earn their 'Help A Geezer' badge from whichever group they belonged to.

The bus pulled up, bringing along with it the usual scent of gasoline fumes. Dust coated my tongue when I inhaled, and I coughed violently. The kind of cough that shakes your frame and makes you wonder if you're about to pass out. Or throw up. A woman behind me put her hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay? Would you like some water?"

"No," I said, once I stopped coughing, "I'll be fine. My lungs just don't agree with all the fresh air the bus brings with it."

She laughed. With the aid of my cane, I carefully navigated up the steps of the bus. Swiping my card, I heard the familiar "beep" that meant I was allowed to sit for a few blocks. I moved slowly down the aisle, careful not to trip over anyone's extended foot or poorly-placed backpack.

I sat near the back, asking first to make sure an empty seat wasn't taken. It wasn't. It felt great to be off my feet, even for just a few minutes of a bus ride. My knees felt creaky. I sometimes wished I was a robot so all it would take was a can of oil to fix me up. My granddaughter Leslie would love to be related to a real Tin Man. I chuckled to myself at the image.

The bus began moving once the new passengers all seated themselves. The seats vibrated as the engine worked to bring the bus up to speed. A mother a few seats behind me worked to keep her children from running all over the aisle and other passengers. A man in front of me struggled to keep his music device working; his curses and the broken pieces of a woman's heartfelt lyrics alternated to create a new song entirely.

Before anyone could figure out what had happened, we found ourselves in the middle of a bus crash. Horns blared outside, and the bus jerked sharply to the right. Strangers fell against me, against everyone on my side of the bus. The squeal of metal on metal would have bothered me more, were it not for the fact I was busy trying to breathe. Everything went into slow motion, like it does in the movies.

All I knew was that we'd hit at least one car, and from the sound of it, one had run into the back of the bus as well, probably causing more issues behind them. We came to a stop, and most of the passengers had stopped screaming. One woman in the back continued to wail, in fear as well as in pain. Warm, thick liquid dripped down my forehead, and for a moment, I hoped it wasn't mine.

A sharp pain in my chest warned me that someone's misplaced elbow might have broken a rib. People struggled away from the right side of the bus, and a child began to cry near the front. The smell of rubber and hot metal filled the interior of the bus, and I began to cough again. Sirens filled the air as police cars and ambulances showed up to help the injured from the vehicles involved in the wreck. Hopefully to arrest the asshole who caused it all, too.

My heart beat painfully in my chest. How terrible would that be to die in a bus crash, not because of the actual crashing, but because of a heart attack only minutes later? EMTs helped people out of the bus and checked everyone. No fatalities, thank the Lord, and only a few injuries serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. One medic sat me down on the back of his ambulance. My heart still worked overtime in my chest, and I gripped my cane firmly.

"Are you okay, mister? How many fingers am I holding up?"

"I can't see how many fingers you've got up, son. I'm blind." I said. I smiled, perhaps a little sardonically. "Been blind my whole life."

Writing Exercise: Write a story about a bus crash from the point of view of a blind man. Don't let on that he's blind until the end of the story.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Many Paths

I'm a drifter, a squatter. I have no life of my own. I hear it happens sometimes; a soul gets displaced, and is able to wander about between realities to see every possible life he or she could have had. If it sounds glamorous, I can tell you that it's most certainly not. You never feel... comfortable, in a life. Or maybe it's just me, because I found love and searched through so many lives to find my happy ending. I'm still searching.

I met him for the first time when I was 24. We met through work in the life I'd chosen to settle in. I'd known since I was little that no life was truly my own, but by my mid-twenties, I'd decided I had enough skipping about alternate lives.

When we met, it was a taste of destiny. I can't say that there was an angelic chorus, but it was close enough. An immediate connection, the way he looked at me, everything was perfect. If you could overlook the ring on his finger. I wanted to, and maybe on some level he did as well, but that's not the way things work out. It only took a few weeks before I decided to look for a life in which things could have been different with him.

I found him again when I was 14 years old. I was out shopping with my mom, and saw him at the food court with his friends. I stopped by his table, my mom went ahead to order us some food. We made eye contact, and a subtle bell tone played at the edge of my hearing. Deja vu, soul memory, whatever you want to call it. We stared at each other, he smiled slightly, and I turned my head and walked away. 14 was too young for what I wanted from him, and you can't really explain to a man that you've loved him in other lives.

I found him in a life where he wasn't so perfect for me. We were together for a few years before alcohol convinced him it was okay to be verbally abusive... physically abusive. With tears, I left to search for another time in which we could be together.

I found him in lives where I died young. I found him in lives where tragic accidents took him away only years after we'd met. We remained faithful to each other, that was a constant. There was passion, always. I'd never met anyone like him, and didn't care to look further than him. I skipped past lives where we'd never met at all. I wondered, how long can I keep this up? How long will I be allowed to jump between lives until whatever higher power there was decided I'd had enough fun?

There's no real passage of time, for me. I don't know when I'll be satisfied. Maybe when I come to a life where we get at least fifty, sixty years to love each other. Maybe then I'll let my soul move on, die happy as an old woman with spoiled grand children.

I met him again today. I'm in my mid twenties again. His eyes are the same, intense brown that the have been every other time we've met. The sky is a little bluer in this life, not sure why. The sun burns with a warmth that seems more fierce. Maybe some catastrophe will strike us in a few years, and I'll move on again. But he introduced himself in the coffee shop, a script of his spread out before him on the table. His hand was warm, and familiar in a way he'd come to recognize, and a way I'd known from life times spent holding it.

He told me he felt like he'd met me somewhere before, and asked if he could see me again. I smiled, wrote down my phone number, and kissed him on the cheek. He was surprised, pleased, by my confidence. We were meant to be, and I'll look until I find our life together.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Sketch

She walks into the parlor, admiring the decor and the lighting of the place. It's not too bright, nor too dim. The candles on the walls are numerous enough that they match the light from any bulb she's seen, and there is something to be said for the mellow flickering of fire verses the almost harsh light of a lamp.

"I've heard so much about you," she says, clasping the artist's hands. They aren't calloused hands of a worker, but neither are they the soft hands of a man who spends too much time avoiding work. She smells something faint, and pleasant, coming from an adjacent room. "They say there's no one better with a pencil."

He smiles, and it reaches up to his eyes. She feels a little more at ease with what she's signed up for. He's pleasantly surprised by what he sees. He expected another high society woman; haughty, her hair pulled back too tightly, her face covered by too much paint. With this woman, he sees he won't even need to ask her to take her hair down. It's already in gentle curls around her face and resting on her shoulders.

"I'm flattered. I just find there's peace in drawing, and if I can make someone else happy while I do it, so much the better. Please, have a seat."

She sees the small table covered with various artists tools, and the easel that's waiting for its paper. She seats herself on the chaise lounger while he sits on the stool next to his station.

"I do have a privacy screen I can put up while you undress, if you'd like. Once you're in a comfortable position, I'll need you to be as still as possible for the duration. Don't worry too much about needing to scratch your nose, I understand that the body does strange things when required to stay in one place."

"I understand, and..." she blushes, "I'd like the privacy screen, please."

He smiles again.

"Of course."

He stands the screen between them, looking away politely as she begins to remove pieces of her clothing. She notices that he's mentioned nothing of the reason she's there; the fiance she knows will love this surprise. She wonders if this is standard practice, and finds that she doesn't want to be the one to bring him up. While looking into the artist's eyes, she'd all but forgotten the reason she called on him in the first place.

He's seen more beautiful women than his client, but there's something about her he can't quite put his finger on. Perhaps in drawing, it'll come to him.

She stretches out on the chaise, feeling vulnerable, embarrassed, and a little excited. She tries not to think about how many other women have been here before, just as naked, waiting to be studied by him.

"I'm ready... I think." She giggles, then cuts it off abruptly when she hears the obvious nervousness in the laugh. It's just a drawing, for pity's sake! She hears him chuckle in return, and he slides the screen to the side.

She's laying on her side, head resting on an outstretched arm. Her other arm is stretched down the length of her, with her fingertips resting lightly on her thigh. "Is this okay?"

He nods once, taking in every detail of her body... for his sketch, of course. He tries to be purely objective, this is a job, after all. But he thinks it would be foolish to deny what the candle light does to her skin, the curve of her hip and the swell of her breast. He takes out his pencil, and a fresh piece of parchment.

"I hope you're comfortable, you're going to be here a while."

There is no time when there are no clocks ticking. There is no night and day when the only light is candle-born to begin with. He starts with basic curves, gentle lines. He stops every few seconds to make sure the angles are just right, that he's bringing her to life on paper. He's trying desperately to forget why she first came to him, and instead focuses on the slight smile that keeps creeping to her lips, then disappearing. He's drawing the smile whether or not it's on her face when he looks at her, for it does something beautiful to the rest of the picture.

He's studying her. He's drawing her. He's falling in love with her.

She's never been looked at this way. She's wondering if coming here is the mistake, or if the mistake is her plan to marry someone else.

Neither of them know how many minutes or hours have passed once he drops his pencil for the final time. He continues to stare at her. She knows he's finished, but can't bring herself to look away. She wants to approach him, be close to him without the privacy screen coming back to bring her to her senses. In her hesitation, the moment passes, and he's left her to dress. In his hesitation, he's stopped himself from a potential embarrassment and serious breach of etiquette. The screen divides them.

He memorizes the picture on his easel as best he can. He knows she'll come back to his dreams, but will her image be this clear in his waking life? She pulls the screen aside, tucked safely within the confines of her clothing. Her cheeks are still a bit flushed, and she looks a little sad. She's feeling as if something is missing, and doesn't want to admit what it is.

He shows her the sketch, and another nervous giggle escapes her. She takes the drawing and hastily looks away. "It's... well, I've never seen myself this way."

"You hardly looked at it," he teases, fighting the urge to tell her she can't have the drawing, that he wants to keep it for his own. He doesn't want another man, who's probably seen her naked dozens of times, to see this picture.

"I'll look at it more closely when I'm not being looked at. I can't stop blushing."

She's already paid him ahead of time, so there is no exchange of money. She stands at the door, and sees that night has closed in around them. They stare at each other again, and the air is thick with everything they aren't saying to one another. "Thank you." She whispers, turning to leave his home.

He says nothing as she disappears. He waits another few endless moments, plagued by indecision.

"Oh, hell." He says to the silence. He grabs his coat and dashes out the door.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Less Writing, More Pictures

I haven't been writing in my blog lately (clearly), but I've been doing some writing in a story I'm working on. Instead, I thought I'd share where I've been posting the pictures I've been taking with my new camera. Specifically the albums from my Oregon trip, Mt. Rainier, Testing 123, and Markets and Bars. Enjoy!


Friday, June 25, 2010

A Missed Flight

Stars twinkled overhead, dulled much by the city's light pollution. It seemed worse than usual, and the smell of garbage overtook the man standing in front of his apartment complex.

"God... I hate this city," Steve muttered to himself. He checked his watch, impatient for the cab he'd called fifteen minutes previous. The cab was the first step to a glorious vacation; a cab ride, an airplane, and then all the tropical drinks he could stand. He was excited, too, for he was going ahead of his wife to surprise her. The thought of the clues he'd left behind to lead her to her ticket cheered him considerably.

The cab pulled up in front of the building as if his complaining had teleported it from locations unknown. The driver stepped out, a small man with a large bald spot on his head, and an almost obscenely bright orange shirt.

"Evening, sir! Can I take your bag?" The man asked, sounding pleased to be of service. Steve smiled, handing the bag to him. He walked around to the left side, letting himself into the back seat. He wasn't sure how he hadn't noticed, but there was another man slouched in the seat next to him. The smell of too many air fresheners made Steve's nose burn slightly. As the driver returned to his seat, a flurry of chaos hit the car.

The man next to Steve, with one deft movement, dropped a black bag over his head. He struggled in vain, for the bag reeked of something that was causing him to feel as if he were swimming through molasses. The driver was shouting something unintelligible in the front seat, and the man to his left was also shouting. Steve thought he heard the words "wife", "money", and "gun". He felt the barrel of something cold press against his neck, and his already pathetic struggles ceased.

"I don't have much money..." he said thickly, getting the taste of whatever pungent chemical they'd used in the bag all over the inside of his mouth. This caused another chorus of yells from both strangers in the cab.

He felt the car take many twists and turns, and found himself praying to a God he wasn't sure existed. All he'd wanted to do was take a vacation with his wife! Would he ever see her again? The car stopped, and Steve was pulled unceremoniously from the cab. He was marched a few feet, dropped into a chair, and had his ankles and wrists bound. He heard the distinct sound of a knife being sharpened, and his heart pounded with a fear he'd never known in his life. Not during any horror movie, or stupid stunt when he was a kid, had he ever been so frightened.

Now it sounded as if 20 men were yelling at him, and he heard the sound of a metal door being pulled shut. The bag was yanked off his head, and he shut his eyes against the light pointed directly at his face.

"Please, please! I have a wife, I don't want to die, I'm too young..." Steve was shaking from head to toe, and was thankful that the ropes binding him weren't cutting into his skin. He felt as if he were about to lose his dinner.

"Die, Steve Geller? You won't be dying here tonight. But... you will be on CANDID CAMERA!"

The light shut off, and he found himself staring into the grinning face of a tall man in a business suit. There was a crew behind him, laughing and cheering. He noticed the two cameras, one in front and one to his left. The camera's red lights blinked, taking in the wet spot on his khaki pants, and the lack of color in his face. The taste of that chemical was still in his mouth... and Steve threw up all over the front of his nice Hawaiian shirt.

Candid Camera: Extreme Edition, was terminated after the pilot was previewed by a select panel of viewers. Steve Geller won his lawsuit, and is now living comfortably with his wife on his own private island. The show's host Martin Adams sustained only a fractured arm and a bruised cheekbone once Steve had been untied.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Forest Full Of Lies

I still believe in love at first sight, because I experienced it when I was too young to be a cynic. Most people would call it puppy love, or infatuation. But no; at age 11, I saw a glimpse of the future I was meant to have. Could have had. Maybe in a different life time we'll meet again and things will be different.

I can count the times I've seen you on both of my hands, and maybe a toe or two. The times we spoke, however, would require a lot of other people's digits to count. The times you were honest with me, maybe just one hand. I think you did love me, in your own way, but you were too broken to know it and too entrenched in the mire of your own making to see that I would have been the best thing for you. I would have done anything for you, short of dying for you. I wouldn't have done that, because I wanted to live for you.

It took me two years to tell you how I felt about you, and at 13, I didn't really have the words for it yet. Some flowery poetry about passion I had no idea about, phrases from books I probably read and mimicked. The love was genuine though, and I treasured the times I saw you more than you can know.

You jerked me around, you used me, and you took away things that were precious from me. You made me the cynic I am today, you were the first heart-breaker, and even somehow managed to steal what was meant for you that day in your bed. I offered it willingly, so how did I come away feeling robbed and empty? But it's easy to ignore that sort of thing when you love someone, isn't it?

The last time I saw you, I finally saw first hand the damage you'd done to other people, and the damage you'd done to yourself. A woman, pregnant with your child, who was a year younger than me and crying because she was so alone. That could have been me... and I would have allowed it, too. I saw what was on your computer, and got her to admit to me that she'd known for much longer, the things you looked at when you thought you were invisible. When she went away to work, you visited me in the guest room and told me you loved me. You said the things that took me back to being 13 again, standing in the forest, looking up into your guileless eyes and seeing what should have been.

I find myself thinking about you all the time, and my heart aches every time I do. I've burned the bridge between us; burned it, got rid of the remains, and stand on the other side of it longing for you still. I see you over there, destroying yet another life, and I hate myself for how I feel. I should have left when I heard the first lie cross your lips. There's a place in my heart for you still, and I have a feeling I won't really ever say good bye.

Friday, June 11, 2010

You Don't Miss It Til It's Gone

Noah's eyes opened slightly, and he winced as a bright light was shone into his face. His arms were bound before him, and he found that he was sitting cross legged. As reality came back into focus, he noticed he was sitting on grass, and what bound his hands at the wrists appeared to be shimmering.


"SILENCE." A chorus of voices spoke in unison, startling him out of finishing the question. He looked around and saw that he was in a ring of mushrooms, out in the forest, and a full moon appeared in the sky high above him. How had he been stolen from his bed without waking up? Why in the world had he been abducted in the first place?

"Noah Avenford, you're here to answer for the death of your Fae companion. What say you?" It was a single voice that questioned him now, and it sounded as if it were directly behind the light. Interrogation tactics, hah! He wouldn't answer the lunatic's questions. Instead, he focused his efforts on breaking apart the gossamer threads that bound him. He found them exceptionally strong, and they were causing his skin to tingle as he rubbed his wrists together.

The light seemed to float closer to his face, causing him to squint. Then the light dimmed, and he found himself staring directly into the face of a small, angry looking man. With wings.

"I must be dreaming." He said aloud, knowing how cliche it was to say such a thing in this sort of circumstance. But what else could it be? Certainly there wasn't a fairy floating a few inches from his face...

"Noah Avenford, this is no dream. The evidence is clear; you murdered your Fae companion. Have you anything to say in your defense, Human?"

"My what?"

The fairy man, more quickly than Noah could follow, had pulled a small knife from his side and poked him in the nose.

"The innocent Fae, Awen-alore, is cold and dead this eve, because of your careless words."

"I don't believe in..."

A loud cry rose from the group of winged people behind the speaker, and the tiny man poked his nose harder to stop him from finishing his sentence.

"That is exactly what got you here, Human. And as you've attempted to murder one of our kind again, there will be no verdict other than the obvious. Guilty!"

"GUILTY!" The voices cried in unison. Noah's heart raced. Would they kill him? If this was real... would they really be so cruel in the face of his ignorance? No one believed in fairies!

"Noah Avenford, for killing your Fae companion, we charge you to a life without a Fae presence. You will receive no replacement companion, you will be as yesterday to us, forgotten and unimportant. You will be judged, once more, upon your death."

He woke up the next morning in his bed, drenched in sweat. He immediately checked his wrists, noticing no trace of the threads that had bound them before. In his dreams? His mouth moved uninhibited, and a quick search of the bed turned up no grass, dirt, or anything else to indicate that he had traveled. He laughed to himself. Fae companion indeed!

But his breakfast that morning tasted like cardboard. No matter how much seasoning he dashed on his eggs, he couldn't make them taste better. He found nothing on TV to amuse him. The sun traveling through a clear blue sky didn't cheer him, or make him feel anything at all, really. When he went out to the city center, people moved around him as if he were a dirty, homeless man, begging for change. He noticed he couldn't smell any of the usual things around him; the bakery, the pizza shop, car exhaust.

Noah returned home, wondering if maybe he had caught a cold. Maybe the dream had bothered him more than he wanted to admit. He decided to lay down and take a nap, hoping that would clear his head. It didn't.

That night, he discovered that he no longer dreamed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

You Think YOUR Job Is Bad...

I felt the pull, the undeniable urge to answer the call.

I closed all of my eyes, and felt my gills flutter slightly on my neck as my breathing slowed. It was effortless for me to enter the state that allowed me to communicate with clients. They were all so different, so interesting! This is what I told myself every work cycle. As long as I sat in my workspace, I was there to help whoever asked it of me.

*Hello? Anyone out there?!*

I trembled at the connection, the fear budding inside me.

*I am with you* I replied, feeling tension build up in my arms and neck.

*WOAH! Someone is moving the glass thing! Okay, ask it a question!*

I sighed. It was either a Nfen, or a Human. No other entities contacted us for answers with such ignorance.

*WHO ARE YOU?* The voice was loud, as if they didn't realize I could hear even a whisper with clarity. They probably didn't.

*Call me Amarha* I responded curtly. Entities who contacted me this way likely weren't prepared for long answers, and I had a feeling I knew what was coming next.


The entity contacting me sounded as if they were shouting directly in my face.

*What is your question?*

*Okay.. okay... DOES DAVE LIKE ME?* I could hear noises that I recognized as laughter. High pitched, obnoxious... the kind of frequency that drove many Communications Experts into madness.

I set aside my annoyance and felt along the thread of this being's universal signature. Yes, they were human. Children, by their reckoning. I pulled more information, looking for a "Dave" in her life. Why didn't parents realize that their children shouldn't be allowed to communicate at such a young age? It caused us nothing but grief.


Squeals of laughter, causing a headache to blossom behind my eyes. I hoped it would be over quickly.

*OKAY! Does Michael like Alyssa?*

I explored more pathways, noticing that Alyssa's pathways lit up in ways that were very rare for a human. She would go on to do great things... provided I didn't manifest through their board and destroy the entire city in which they lived.



The communication ended abruptly, which left me feeling slightly nauseous. Humans, among many other species, didn't know how to properly (and politely) close communication with us. Many of them didn't know to whom they were speaking, not that it mattered much. All of us had access to all of their information.

~I am taking a break.~ I thought to my work mates. Marr, a Sinthe like myself, smiled with her eyes.

~Dealt with a human, did you? I can feel your tension from here. They're a frustrating lot, aren't they?~

~If they asked questions worth answering, it wouldn't be so bad.~

Friday, May 7, 2010

That Fleeting Moment

Ryan met Aliah in the summer before his 19th birthday. Or, was it the winter after his 21st? Her hair, long, colored like honey... or deep auburn. He held his head in his hands, unable to recall any detail about the woman he was so deeply in love with.

"Hey there, Mr. Finnegan, how's your wife doing? I'm surprised she's not out gardening, lovely day like this!"

Ryan looked up to see the postman, Mr. Talbot, pulling envelopes from the mail box near the fence. For a moment, he could remember and imagine Aliah gardening in the sun. The next moment; nothing.

"She's inside, making some fancy salad with the tomatoes and cukes." Was she? Ryan stood, trying to clear his head.

"Ryan..." Her voice sounded so clear, but couldn't possibly have been loud enough to be heard from the kitchen. His heart raced. God, he loved her. He waved to Mr. Talbot, then went inside.

He felt her skin underneath his hands, smelled sunshine in her hair and tasted life in the kisses that sent him off on his routine every morning. He was seventy years old, with at least sixty-six years of memories in his mind. He knew that he'd been happy with Aliah, had a beautiful wedding, and yet... still could not say what color her eyes were, or how she looked when she smiled.

Moonlight filtered in through the window, and he knew this might be his last chance to ask her the questions burning within him. After so many years, he knew he'd only lived a few days at a regular pace. Where had all the rest of that time gone?

"Aliah." He whispered her name. "I need to see your face."

"You have seen it, my love." Her voice was beside him, and he could hear pain there. Her face was obscured by shadows.

"But I don't remember anything about you."

"If you see me... truly see me... you'll die."

"I feel..." his breath caught, "I'm scared I'll die without seeing you, remembering you. I'm seventy, and although I have memories, I feel like I've only really lived such a small fraction of my time."

She twined her fingers around his, squeezing gently, reassuringly.

"I love you Ryan. I shouldn't have, but I fell for you. If this is truly what you want..."

"I love you too, Aliah. I need to know you before I die." She sat up in their bed, the blanket falling around her waist. A light appeared, shocking his eyes with its sudden intensity.

It didn't dim, but he quickly grew accustomed. He sat up, eyes wide in amazement. Pure white wings fell behind her, and her skin glowed golden in the dark of their bedroom. Her hair fell over her breasts, and the ebony color contrasted sharply with the blazing blue of her eyes. He couldn't speak. Aliah put a hand to his cheek, and her skin both burned and soothed.

"The love I feel for you prevents me from disguising myself the way I do from everyone else. In my selfishness, I've stolen your life away. We don't live in the same ebb and flow of time as humans... I'm so sorry, Ryan."

"Don't be sorry, we've had a wonderful life together. Seeing you now... I remember every moment we've had... and you're so beautiful." He felt his heart beating arrhythmically, and couldn't explain or ignore his sudden fatigue. Her beauty, her love, was killing him. He had never felt so at peace before in his life, he was sure.

They embraced, kissing passionately for a moment that could have been seconds or years. She whispered something in a language no human had ever heard, and set him gently back into the pillows. She closed his sightless eyes with her finger tips, and relished his smile.

"I'll see you soon, my love."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Building Freedom

I looked out at the city behind me, my view from the top of my apartment building. The roof was quiet, and a warm breeze swept by me. It brought the scent of the sea. I listened to the whisper of traffic far below me, and the occasional airplane above me. Venus and a nearly new moon lounged in the western sky, and the water looked like a blanket of pitch.

I wasn't depressed with my life, but I wasn't content, either. My apartment had become barren, a place only to sleep, eat, and work. I'd quit my job, hoping to finish my last project before what little money I'd saved ran out. I'd spent the last month building freedom, and after many midnight tests, I thought I had the final product in my hands. It was lightweight, luxuriously soft to the touch, and flexible in the right places. After so many failed attempts, I knew this had to be the one that gave me my freedom. It had to be, I said, because I couldn't afford any more tries or wasted time.

I stood on the edge of the barrier that kept stupid people like me from falling to their deaths. If I'd had friends who cared, friends who visited me, they would have grabbed me and pulled me back. "You idiot!" They'd say. "You have so much life ahead of you! Are things really so bad?"

"No," I'd respond, "They're just so average."

With what I hoped was a graceful leap, my feet left the building. My heart seemed to stop in my chest, and I imagined it trying to leap back up to the safety of my apartment's rooftop. I left my life behind me as the wind whipped through my hair and pulled at the skin on my face. I turned my watery eyes from the ground rushing upwards to the unmoving sea.

I spread my wings and flew away.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Broken Bird

Molly looked up from her gardening to see her four year old, Adrienne, approaching. Her daughter looked concerned, and held something cupped in both her small hands.

"What's wrong, honey?" Molly asked, taking off her thick, leather gloves.

Adrienne opened her hands, revealing the lifeless body of a small bird.

"It's broken... can Daddy fix it?" She sounded hopeful. Molly wasn't sure if Adrienne was too young to understand death, but she and Adam had made a promise that they'd never lie to their children. She carefully took the bird, and placed it on a mound of dirt beside her.

"No Adrienne, I'm sorry."


"Because Daddy can't fix everything."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Straight For The Heart-Brain!

Greetings! This is but a piece of the multi-part Choose Your Own Adventure, Multi-Blog tale started by Barry J. Northern. It makes little sense to start here, so please feel free to check out the beginning of the story here! The previous choice that led to this blog can be found here! at Too Much Gun, Aaron's page of guns, cowboys, and everything else.

Your Choice: Pull out the baseball bat and make a mad dash for the heart-brain?!

Michael pulled the bat from his back and leaped from his seat. His companions looked shocked.

"Michael, what..." he heard Latoya start, but heard no more as he rushed towards the heart-brain.

It seemed as if time slowed a little bit more with each step he took toward the pulsing, alien thing. The rust smell was almost over powering, and he saw Mendigans turning their heads to stare at him as he ran. None of them reached out or jumped up to stop him, a fact he dismissed in his focus to attack the giant body part.

He swung the bat backwards, then forwards with a power that would put any little league player to shame. The weapon made contact with the heart-brain, and time seemed to stop. He saw the ripples of the impact, and the smell of rust was so strong he could taste it when he breathed.

As if a rubber band had been snapped, time sped back up to normal. He heard a wail in his mind, and was thrown away from the heart-brain. His bat disintegrated in his hands, covering them in sawdust. Instead of crashing to the floor, time seemed to be speeding up now. He was still flying backwards! Why hadn't he hit a wall, or his friends, or any Mendigans who might have moved behind him?

Everything became a blur, and he had to shut his eyes before he lost the contents of his stomach. And he definitely didn't want to be captured by aliens covered in puke. Besides, what would Latoya think? A cute girl couldn't ever like a guy who was covered in partially digested waffles. How did he even have the time to think all this through? Was he going to ...

Time returned to normal and he was dumped unceremoniously onto a pristine white floor. The walls around him, also white. He checked himself to make sure he wasn't wearing any sort of padded jacket, and also to make sure he wasn't missing any limbs, or hadn't grown any extra limbs.


A Mendigan appeared before him, wearing a very nice business suit. It had a strange hat on the top of its head, and what appeared to be a long white beard.

"Hello, Michael."

"How do you know my name?!"

"We know a lot about you. And we are most displeased that you would attack our *******."

The last word it uttered was spoken with a strange garbling noise that seemed to come from its tentacles. Michael guessed it meant the heart-brain.

"You invaded my planet! I had to do something."

"We were so hoping for a quiet, peaceful melding of Humans and Mendigans. You are not the only person causing disharmony. I believe you can be rehabilitated, however. Unfortunately, I cannot physically stop you from your course, I can only present you with a choice."

"You're stopping me pretty good right now, it seems."

Its tentacles fluttered, producing another strange gurgling noise. Was it laughing at him?

"This is temporary. I am a visual representation of the *******. We have no more time to chat, I'm afraid. You can return to your course of action, and deal with the consequences and a room full of angry Mendigans. They will protect me at all costs, and I highly doubt you and your friends will get away with the assault. Or, I will open a door for you."

Michael decided that it was a good time to get back onto his feet.

"What kind of door? Where does it go?"

"It goes to a place you have never been, and you will perhaps be able to reconsider attacking the ******* and lead a pleasant life among the Mendigans."

The Mendigan added two doors into the room with a sweep of its arms.

"The door on my right is the way to your present course of action. The door on my left, to a life you do not know. Which will you take?"

Choice 1: Return To Bashing The Heart-Brain!

Choice 2: Go Back In Time And Pretend Everything Is Normal!