The very thought of "re-training" fills me with rage. Thoughts of my "re-trained" brother with his eyes stabbed out and bleeding, screaming out in terror is more than I can bear to think about. The poor boy was going through hell because he tried to sing a song in the cafeteria. The simple act of singing, an expression of freedom, was horrifically contagious in a camp of repressed expression. He could have initiated a total revolution in the cafeteria that day, but the guards brought the room under control almost immediately. Unbeknownst to most, the cafeteria is really a gas chamber; anytime the crowd gets out of control the gas knocks everyone out and they can't remember what happened. I've never been gassed, I'm not sure what it's like, but I hear it is scarily effective. Years of scientific study and development has turned this camp into a well oiled machine, cranking out the greatest warriors the war effort has seen.
And I'm the best one they've made thus far.
I'm up early because today is the big day. I leave the camp to go on my first mission. I've been briefed with the information I need for the event, I know I'll be the one on the front lines flushing out most of the Togs and then I can enter the base and shut it down. I have a perfect verbal and photographic memory, I have twice the capacity to remember information as a regular human, so I have memorized the instructions for this event without issue. Performing the operation will not be hard. The hard part will be the trauma of experiencing the outside world. I've heard a lot of bad stories about Maniacs who come into the real world and die trying to escape their mission or worse, maniacs who kill themselves the first chance they get because they are miserable. I'm not miserable because my life is pretty easy for me to handle, I have all the resources I need to succeed for what I was made to do. Admittedly I have a strong moral compass that has developed silently and purely of its own accord that tells me everything I was ever made to do or be represents the most horrible existence in the world, but because of things that have happened to me before I know that if I hold out long enough someday someone will save me from the nightmare.
And that's exactly what happened.
The Cheerio Tower aka "Perishable"
Transition Plaster Work:
The wood one is already in my gallery and the string one we never really got a good photo of, you really need to see it in person to enjoy it properly. Too bad.
My friend Ferd Crotte is participating in a contest on Inkshares with his book Mission 51. The story is about an Alien named Mat and his adventures on Earth around 1954. It's a really touching story and I've worked with a group of artists to bring it to life with awesome color illustrations! If your pre-order the book right now (it's only like 10 bucks!) you can get an ebook with all the color plates! Or for $20 you can get a hard copy of the book! It's a fun read, you won't regret it.
He really needs you to pre-order now so he can reach the quill goal of 250 pre-orders. Don't worry, this is not a risky investment, if we don't reach the quill goal you get your money back!
In case you're wondering what kinds of illustrations are in the book, here's an example of one I made:
Please help us make this book a reality on everyone's shelves!
I'm an illustrator for a book called Mission 51. The book will be published by Inkshares so long as we get enough people to pre-order the book in the next 18 days. We need 88 pre-orders as of this journal being written. That's close to 5 pre orders per day. If you or anyone you know likes science fiction I think you'll all really enjoy this book. It's written by Ferd Crotte, and on Inkshares it's a Staff Pick and it's backed by the Great Scifi for the 21st Century and Beyond Syndicate (which is a pretty big deal).
The E-book is only $10, and you get beautiful color plates of all my illustrations of spaceships and aliens and the Earth
You can buy the book here and read sections of it to get a feel for it : www.inkshares.com/books/missio…
THANK YOU <3 <3 <3 <3
Cori laid it out for him clearly. "Suppose I came to the philosophy department and started learning about philosophy in depth. Really learning and understanding it, spending lots of time on it. Would all the time in this building and around these wizards somehow turn me into one of them? The wand waving type, you know?" Cori waved her hands mystically in the air in a mocking way.
Idan didn't know the answer. He'd always been raised a wizard, he'd had the skills to conjure the 5th dimension since before he could remember. He didn't know how one acquired the skills, if that was even possible, or if they were something inherent to people. He didn't know if it could be trained into someone. He was struck with irritation that he couldn't answer what seemed like such a simple and common question. He decided to find out. "I've never heard of someone becoming a wizard through philosophy. But I can't rule it out as a possibility."
Cori's eyes dropped. "That makes me nervous. I'm not ready to deal with that responsibility. It seems like a lot of work to manage." That was true. Magic had its drawbacks. It was exhausting to use, it was hard to control, it occasionally caused migraines or escaped out of the user unintentionally, causing more bad than good. No wonder Idan was always in a bad mood; managing his magical tendencies was like handling a perpetually cranky baby with the strength of a dragon.
But Idan reassured Cori. "I bet if you spoke with a professor here he would know more than I do about this. Dr. Wells is around here somewhere." Idan patted Cori on the back and motioned down the hallway as he checked his watch. "Great gargoyles, I've got to go! I'm supposed to be lecturing on basic conjuring techniques in ten minutes at Himbleton Hall!" He kissed his girlfriend on the cheek. "Good luck here. I'm sure you'll be the best in no time."
Cori's eyes narrowed as she said nothing. She looked like she was judging him, like she was somehow dissatisfied. Idan moved his eyebrows together pleadingly as if to say, do I have to? Fine. He went in for the big one. The kiss on the lips. He was always nervous when he was intimate with Cori. It was a rumbling sensation inside him. Maybe it was just the magic in him rejecting a completely human form. Maybe it was the fact that he felt he wasn't good enough for Cori. He felt horrible all over. He was still holding onto her as these thoughts raced through his mind. Cori pulled away and shook her head. "You poor thing. You mother taught you nothing about love." Sure she did- she told him to stay away from it. He had ignored that warning. "You just don't kiss a lady like that. And you don't think horrible things when you do it." What? Cori reads minds? Usually that's reserved to mage types...
"I uh, I'm sorry - I mean I was trying to be nice. I don't know what you want from me in these situations!" Idan wrung his hands. "I really have to go!"
Cori half smiled as she shooed him away. "Go. Go do your lecture. We'll keep working on this," she motioned between them, "But your business is higher priority."
Idan wasn't sure what it was about Cori that made him so uncomfortable. There was something in her attitude that would normally be interpreted as meanness, but to him it felt like flirting. She was flirting with him right? Is that what girlfriends do? There was nothing he could do with magic to understand her. It was as if she were shrouded in a thick mist, and the only information he had to work with were the pieces he collected from his human faculties. It was like living in a futuristic city for one's entire life then being left in complete wilderness with nothing but a frying pan and a knife to survive. He had to trust that she would help him understand. And if worse came to worse, they could part ways. But he didn'tlike that idea. Something told him deep down that he'd run into Cori for a good reason- he'd sensed from her personality that she was unlike anything he'd ever encountered before- and if he was going to understand the purpose in life, he would have to understand Cori first. If he didn't understand her and everything else at that fundamental level, all would be lost for him.
The dream starts out as a big online high school summer camp reunion/get together (I go to an online high school where my friends from around the world come together in the summer to hang out). So me and my friends are at this big mansion where we all live together.
After about 5 days at this camp, one of the kids, call him Jeb, mysteriously gets super sick and dies. Jeb's closest friend, call him Ryan, is really traumatized by Jeb's death. I stop and talk to Ryan at the hospital. Ryan tells me in passing that he had a really weird dream about a creepy looking alien-like hand that reached out and touched him about 5 days ago, and right after that Jeb started exhibiting symptoms of illness. I assume the two events aren't connected, but Ryan can't shake the funny feeling that they are.
Another few days go by. I'm having lunch with my friend, call her Amy. Amy and I see a kid at a lunch table double over and throw up black vomit. Cut to the hospital again, and the kid's friend is telling me about a weird dream he had about a hand that reached out and touched him, and right after that the kid at the lunch table started to get sick.
At this point I am getting nervous. The trend seems to be that one person has a dream about a hand reaching out and touching them, and then immediately afterward their closest friend dies. The problem is, all of the kids know each other at the camp, so if you have a dream about a hand, its almost certain that someone will die.
Its 6 pm at night when i come to this realization. So I begin warning people at the camp not to sleep or if they do have a night mare about a hand, try to keep the hand away from them or wake up. But just as I start screaming this out to everyone, there's a fire drill. Everyone starts down the stairs in the building, but there's some kind of hold up, and we're stuck on the stairs for hours. People start to fall asleep. I try to keep everyone awake. One of my friends was supposed to come visit but when he shows up right about now i yell at him to go home.
Then it starts to get really late. Finally the hold up on the stairs is resolved (maybe someone died again?). In any case, Amy and I are the detectives in a mystery that seems to be impossible to solve. Amy and I are exhausted. Amy decides to try sleeping, and she feels confident that if she sleeps in her room she won't have nightmares, she seems to have some special trick to do that. I on the other hand have no idea what will help me, so I decide to sleep in my car parked outside the building. I climb into my car, and I start to lay my head down in the back seat when I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye. I look out the window of the car and I see a giant hand- its like a 7 foot tall, giant black plastic surgical glove- blowing in the wind. when the wind picks up, it fills the surgical glove up with wind and fills it out. Now the hand is standing up in the wind, the base of it starts to shift toward the car. I am absolutely terrified, because I can't tell if I'm awake or asleep. The surgical glove I noticed, has a cowboy hat on and its using two of the fingers to hold a third finger like a baseball bat. I remember hearing a southern woman's voice while I sat in the car watching this spectacle- the voice said "don't you go away from me!"
[This is the point at which I woke up in my bed this morning. I was so horrified I couldn't go back to sleep. I don't know what the conclusion of this whole story would actually be, maybe I'd discover there was some food poisoning and all of the weird events were a coincidence- or think i resolve it when in fact the hand curse continues. Whatever, it was scary as hell when it was happening. While i was awake laying in bed the story skipped ahead in my mind:]
I leave the camp the next morning with Amy. When I get home I don't have any more weird dreams. But then I'm out job shadowing a surgeon and there's a statue of a surgical glove in the corner of the room. It falls over and just brushes up along my leg. I'm horrified. Amy calls me and tells me she's not feeling well and needs me to take her to the hospital. I scream at the top of my lungs.... End movie roll credits. The hand nightmare continues.
“Cori, I have to go lecture. I’m taking Cerys. Should see you next week.”
Cori sighed. “Yes, see you then.”
Idan normally would leave promptly- not in a rush but not dragging his heels either. He had an assertive domineering nature but it was expressed through such a weak gangly frame that was unprepared to completely express the intentions of its owner- He tripped on his way out the door. Mumbling something about a ledge, he stumbled back through the door to the kitchen where he washed the dirt from his hands. Cori rushed over. “No no! Let me help you- are you okay? Is your trip delayed?” Normally he would have brushed her away like he brushed everyone away. But then he remembered she was Cori Benson, and she was part of his family. He let her hands fall over his in the sink water. She held him close until her cheek was touching his. He tried to keep his breath even but her riotous feminine energy was something disorienting to be around at that moment.
He turned off the faucet and he turned around to see Cori.
By “see” I don’t mean "look". Idan always looked at people to convince them that he was paying attention, all the while his mind was elsewhere. But when he turned around to actually see Cori, he recognized the beautiful details and shining perfection of all the features of her body and expression. Her brown eyes were large and attractive but not overstressed, her nose was small and round like a child’s, her lips were full but not overwhelming to the viewer. The face had a harmony, every muscle and joint working together to produce a smile in the mouth and eyes, the lines about the nose, the tenseness in the neck. Her extremely long brown hair fell everywhere about her, parts of it pinned up were slowly falling out of place like a river crashing over cliffs and splaying out into falls. Time seemed to freeze as Idan examined these parts- then he went deeper. Imagery is fine, but it was the mind that mattered to him. He conjured the elements of the 4th dimension to see into Cori’s past- just the past few weeks. He saw her with a quiet look, vacuuming and cleaning his house dutifully and unquestioningly. But he could see her mind was fast at work, turning over questions of morality and value, of what makes something “good” or whether evaluative terms were meaningless in the first place. He could see her making a meat stew but all the while stewing over Idan’s own behavior, asking herself whether Idan saw anything valuable in her or not. He saw her finish cooking and sit down to read a book called “The Problem of Induction” and could hear her read the words aloud, and then watch her sit and pause thoughtfully as she considered the claims of the author. Then her face darkened as she looked out the window. Idan saw himself in this memory come through the door in a black raincoat, he hair disheveled and his face twisted up in exhaustion after a long day at work. He saw himself walk right past Cori without acknowledgement, pour a cup of hot stew, drink it in one fiery gulp, and swiftly escape to his office where he locked the door behind him. He saw Cori sigh from her restful repose in the living room; “The Problem of Induction” had been tactfully placed title facing up on her long creamy legs to attract attention to the book- it was an attempt to cause reason for conversation. Idan noticed all of Cori’s attempts to get his attention. He had understood them in the past to be Cori’s attempt to learn from him- he assumed Cori had just opened the Problem of Induction to a random page, tried to understand it, and, when she failed, asked for Idan’s help. He didn’t have time to help someone like that, he thought, no time right now, maybe later. Maybe for Cori I’d do it, but not now. But what Cori had actually been doing was different; Cori believed that Idan was a misogynist the way he treated her, and that the only way to get to Idan was to appeal to his sense that women were weaker in body and mind than men. She made herself appear weak to appeal to him, when she was quite the opposite. He winced at the thought of the past weeks and how horribly they misunderstood each other.
His hands has dripped dry by the time he came back to reality in the present. Cori had been shaking him. “Idan are you alright? Say something! You're frozen!”
Idan shook his head. “Uhh I- yes I do that. I’m sorry." He took a moment to center himself. "I’m sorry you think I’m a misogynistic ass and that I have a superiority complex.”
Cori’s face froze in place, as if to say “I will neither affirm nor deny.”
Idan continued. "I am none of those things. I want you to know that I think you’re a brilliant person. I want you to come with me to Eragin and I’ll show you around the philosophy department at my school. You’re an intellectual and to leave you in this house alone, condemned to a life of boredom would be a crime.”
Cori’s face eased. She walked into the anteroom and grabbed a large pink bag stuffed with clothes. Idan was shocked. “You packed already?” Cori’s head fell and she bit her lip distastefully. “Oh, this one... I packed this bag today because I was leaving you,” Idan’s heart jumped into his throat as he heard the words, “but now that I'm staying I might as well use it for this trip!” She laughed as the terror in Idan's face melted into reassured warmth. “Cori I-"
“No,” Cori put her finger on his lips. “Enough talk. We’re late.”
This poem is not literally about parenting, it's about producing art and poetry and my role as the author/artist in the presentation of the works.
A friend once called me
in so many words
"an irresponsible parent.”
And I am.
I let fly the words of a moment
inseminated on the page,
borne out of a printer
taped on a wall
in a bathroom
near the sink.
I keep them there for now.
But sometimes I take them out for a spin,
put them on around town;
people quack and laugh and quake.
and they say
"you know, that’s pretty good."
But he doesn’t think so,
He thinks instead
"She's an irresponsible parent."
and I am.
Is it wretched? Is it wrong?
Yes, yes its is.
And as a parent I haven’t yet grown.
I think the key step in recovery is acceptance,
I can accept and acknowledge now.
But I don’t have the time to change.
My body is dragged on a chain
dragged through the mud and rain
college shit and dental school
all the time starving and scratching for some muddled piece of clarity.
the next eight years of my life are planned and packed-
None of it involves parenting.
Basically my complaint here is that in order to make truly thoughtful works of art that are worthy of praise I need more time to devote to learning the finer elements of these mediums in detail and until then I know some people will not respect me as an artist.
where I have nothing left to say.
My eyes are weepy
and my head aches.
I should think I should try
but it doesn't matter anyway.
he told me.
They put a lot of thought in apparently.
He had more to say on the matter
But he never came back to elaborate.
I talked with a friend about establishing
our official remarks, our reasoning,
whether to go on or to forget,
to clarify for me once more
whether I was stone in the bottom of a river
or an otter on the shore.
I could feel the sun rising within me,
That tomorrow I'd get that math homework done and be free-
free to be alone and silent.
Free to watch the sun set and the cats sit in the driveway.
Well at least they had each other.
But as for me,
all I knew for sure
is that I-
I never wrote slam poetry.
sudden silence, soul sucked by a leech
Can't help me now
i'm gone to the wind
stuck in a timeless vortex
stuck on a windswept beach
you could hear my thoughts if you tried
where are you? What is going on?
I have died inside,
and my hair is bleached,
to show the shifting
of the turning tide.
"Oh I love this show!"
I sat in front of the big TV monitor eating ramen out of one of those "do not microwave" styrofoam cups that I had indeed microwaved.
MK rolled his eyes. "Why would you love it? I think it's boring."
I smiled at MK, but my eyes gave away a sobering look. "Ryan and I would watch this show every Friday night. We made time to be together in the hour of that show. It was a moment of peace for me in my life."
MK nodded thoughtfully, now understanding the value of the show. Then he cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. "Your memories of Ryan all sound so positive. What was it about him that was so great?"
I delighted in the opportunity to answer the question, though as I tried to decide what to answer, I was at a loss. What made him so great? Maybe because when he died I was so devastated that I reverse engineered him in my mind from that experience as someone truly great. Sure we had our arguments, but anyone in a relationship did. I thought longer. Then I had it.
"Ryan opened my mind to a new way of thinking. He talked me out of my long held dream of becoming a chief police officer and instead got me going to school for computer science. He shared his love of computers with me in a way that ignited my academic passion and he continually made me a better person. He loved what he saw in me, and that made me appreciate and love him back. He was also just really self-sacrificing and considerate, which I had never really seen in a man before I met him."
Mk nodded, listening intently. "And do you feel like no one can fill that space in your life again?"
I looked at MK, assessing him up and down. "No, Michael, no one can replace Ryan." I stressed the names to indicate their difference. "And I will never replace Debbie."
"That you won't, that's true." MK sighed. "Life really sucks sometimes."
A long silence followed as we both looked at the floor. The television kept playing but we weren't paying attention to it anymore. "You know," MK began again, his face twisted up with emotions, "I want you to know that whatever happens to us, to you, to me- I want you to know that even if you don't feel the same way you do with me as you did with Ryan, I understand how you feel now more than Ryan would. I'm in the same shoes, and that level of understanding is inherently valuable. You're never alone, and so long as I'm alive, I'm here for you."
I fought back tears, my voice was hoarse. "I know, MK, I know... I'll do my best to be here for you too."
MK tried to laugh as he broke our stare to look up at the TV. "You know, I'm really beginning to like this show too."
But I knew that when he said that he was just trying to make me feel better. I knew if we were ever in front of this television again, we'd always avoid that TV show. It reminded us of our pasts; for me it was a nostalgic reminder, but with him around it was a reminder of how the building body count in our lives was slowly burying us. Anyone that ever meant anything to us was being torn away forever, the permanent experience of separation was killing us slowly from the inside out. And it would continue to do so until we could take it no longer or until a similar fate as those we love consumed us. We'd become the absolute epitome of the phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished."
(Author: Meg is not a projection of me in this story in the sense that she does not reflect my actual positions on issues nor does she have the same personality as me.)
Loneliness is a horrible thing- for people who cannot use it to their advantage.
“Are you writing your little diary entries at a time like this, Meg? We’re at war you know.”
I’m one of those dreamers who feeds off that sorrow and weaves it into a tapestry no one has seen before. That’s why I put up with the loneliness. It’s both necessary and sufficient for this creative process. Ryan would have been proud.
“Don’t pretend like you can’t hear me, Meg. You’d should get some sleep. It’s late.”
MK pulled my earbuds out. I told him not to do this many times before, it frightens me so much. I’m a very jumpy person, I’m beginning to read his insistence on this behavior as delinquency.
“What do you want?” I asked quietly.
“I want you to do to bed so that when we get up at 400 hours you’ll have your wits about you to man the digi-center.” I sighed. He was right. I should go to bed.
“Horatio can handle that. He built the digi-center for Christ’s sake.” I stood up to leave.
“Don’t ‘Meg’ me. I’m an independent woman of indepdenent means. I’ll do what I want when I want.” I stood my ground. I now believed I was going to bed because I thought it was right. Wouldn’t want to be tired tomorrow, hell, we’re at war, you know.
MK just shook his head. “You don’t know the first thing about independence, and if you did, you’d never find yourself here. On a ship, being independent is the same as being dead meat. You and Horatio have to work together to run the digi-centers on both sides of this ship when we’re under attack. Clear communication is crucial. Everyone’s lives will be at stake. Are you willing to risk that? Will you risk the life of my son? And for what? A diary entry.”
I bit my lip in disdain. I really was the horrible creature he made me out to be. How selfish of me, not to notice I was potentially putting the lives of some of the few remaining human beings in this world in danger. It was so reckless of me I could barely forgive myself now. I was swinging from a jungle vine in my own mind, emotions racing, I felt I could almost fall over.
The next thing I remember I was awake in MK’s arms in bed. When I sat up a bit he looked at me and winked. “No worries. No war yet. Turns out they re-scheduled to next Friday.”
“No worries. No war yet. Turns out they re-scheduled to next Friday.” How I delighted at the words. I rushed downstairs to finish my work- the last threads must come together, in the conclusion of a tale that may live to see the next generation; the epic voyages, battles, and mysteries of that tall dark, handsome figure, the illustrious and daring Michael Knight.
(for clarification, Meg as referenced in this story does not refer to me in the flesh. It refers to a person who resembles and retains my name, but is hardly at all like me)
“Penelope, where’s my shaving crème?” Horatio scratched the mountain range of infected hair follicles in his scraggly beard as he rifled through the bathroom cabinet for the canister.
“It was empty so I threw it out,” Her thin voice drifted from the kitchen.
“Woman!” Horatio slammed the cabinet door. “You never throw any of my shit out, hear me? That can had at least one more use in it!”
“You’re a hoarder, Horatio! Get another can out of the other bathroom you lazy ass!” The voice was considerably more hostile. She turned on the blender.
Between the sound of the blender and his major hangover Horatio could barely think. All he could feel was a growing rage and general loss of self-control. He was shaking as he stood over the toilet in a stupor. He threw up a few times then collapsed on the floor.
When he woke up he was looking MK in the eyes. “You’re a sorry excuse for a man, Horatio.”
“Fuck you, bastard. Why do I put up with your shit?”
MK started to laugh. He laughed and laughed. Horatio was getting freaked out by the hilarity of the situation. What was so funny, anyway?
“Why are you even here in my house? Don’t you live on a ship or something? I thought I wouldn’t see you again for another year.”
MK just shook his head and wiped away tears from all of his laughing. “I got a temp job in town and I thought I’d come by to see how things were going. You know what Penelope said to me when I walked in?”
“No, what.” Horatio wiped the drool off his face as he came to his senses
“She said: Oh look, the real wife in this relationship is home.”
Horatio growled. “That bitch treats me worse than you do. I don’t know why I-”
“-why you put up with either of us, I got it the first time. You stay because we’re the only people who will tolerate you. Relationships require reciprocation. You get out what you put in.”
“If I wasn’t totally stoned I’d say you were trying to insinuate I’m the cause of my own problems. Point taken.”
MK looked down at the sorry mess curled up next to the toilet below him. “You can’t live like this. You need to be back where you belong.”
Horatio’s eyes narrowed. “You got an opening for a crook?”
“You’re always welcome on my ship, bud. You’ll have to leave the Mrs. Horatio Terazzazi home though.” MK met Horatio’s eyes as they both grinned.
“She doesn’t like the stink of your ship the way I do anyway. She’ll find some loser to entertain herself with while I’m gone.” Horatio got up and dusted himself off. “We go.”
Hey you around?
Dad just got back from a trip, bought me this cute hat. You doing okay? How are things?
Yo! Can you believe this teacher? He's all like "you guys probably didn't study for the exam and did great anyway" but that's not true. I studied for that exam for three days straight nonstop! You didn't take it did you? What have you been up to?
Um, you there? not sure what's going on. Are you okay?
This was like the 3rd or 4th time that the silence went on too long for me in the past few months. It bothers me every time it happens, as if it were the first, as if it were somehow my fault, or that maybe I wasn't worth talking to. I think what's going on is someone's just walking out on their previous life. Moving on, walking out.
Someone else told me today: "friends in the end aren't really worth it, all they do is let you down."
It made me feel cold and alone. Friends don't have to be that way. When they are, you know they're the wrong people for you.
When people walk out on you after you've tried to be good to them, you have to accept that they aren't for you, even if you really want them to be. People don't change as much as you'd like them to. So don't force it. I've always been afraid that I'd be all alone in the world someday because of the experience I had in high school. I know now its not the same on outside world so to speak. I can't be afraid anymore. I just have to accept and move on however hard that is for me right now.
This is some random passage recalling some time MK and Alistair are working a criminal-type job for allies of the UFIM (US intergalactic military). Alistair is MK's co-pilot, an escaped member of Maniac society, he refused to obey maniac society's laws, refused to accept that maniacs were a separate race from humans, and let MK buy him off from a Maniac Mercenary ship in order to escape working for "the man." MK and Alistair are best friends and they work together making money off criminal jobs that the UFIM lets "slip" to aid the allies in the fight against the Resistance, a conglomerate of alien forces trying to force the UFIM back onto the planet earth. That's enough backstory.
I woke up this morning around four in the morning to find Alistair strumming an electric guitar softly. It wasn’t plugged in, and I could only barely hear it as I woke, so I wasn’t sure how long he’d been there. He was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat with his feet kicked up on the dashboard where the drink holder was, the only place without any buttons or levers on it. He was humming softly. When he noticed me open my eyes he stopped.
“Not safe for you to sleep on your shift.”
“We’re deep in a neutral field with no asteroids or traffic- and autopilot is on. Our course should have no incidents for the next four hours. Plus, I’m not operating a mission. I’m already a criminal on this ship.”
Alistair pulled out a nail file and started working away at his thumb. “In my culture we hold ourselves to the highest standard regardless of the institution we’re assigned to work for. We are perfect at what we do because it’s the only reason we have to live. We must be the best. You should try it sometime. Its very rewarding.”
I really loved listening to the way Alistair talked, his high mindedness and his valor. But it was four in the morning and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. For all I knew, if I didn’t get enough sleep tonight it could be the difference between life or death tomorrow.
“Yeah… Well we can talk about the merits of my captainship later. Is there something else you’re here to talk about?”
Alistair began studying his fingernails with vicious concentration. “I need to tell you something personal, in case I don’t make it out of this mess.”
I was shocked. I had no idea Alistair had anything to hide. “Sure, your secret’s safe with me, although if you don’t make it out alive chances are I won’t either.”
Alistair nodded in understanding. “I’ve got a girl someplace that’s in love with me.”
I almost burst out laughing. “I think there’s about a hundred of them that would pay me just to touch you. That’s not some deep dark secret Ali. You had me excited for a minute though.”
Alistair shook his head. “Not like that. One that I know, that I grew up with. She’s got green hair and grey skin. She’s one of my people. We grew up in the same camp.”
I couldn’t believe it at first but then it seemed natural that the only person to resist being totally brainwashed in Maniac “Society” was the only guy with a girlfriend in the complex. I began to think this story was more of a cry for help. “Do you know where she is? We could probably steal her out or buy her if you want her that bad. We have the manpower.”
“I don’t know where she is,” he admitted. “If I did I would have stolen your ship for my own and saved her myself. I have the manpower.”
I grinned. “You know that wouldn’t work. Plus Maniacs aren’t designed to fantasize like that.”
Alistair resisted a smile. “I’m free of that, MK. I’m free but I still feel very alone without her.”
I could hear the remorse in his voice. Who knows what happened to her, she might not even be alive still. Maybe she was worked to death in a sweatshop, or given a weapon and sent into the front lines. It would be a miracle if the two ever met again. But knowing Alistair, if he could work a miracle for justice, he would do it. And this to me seemed like the perfect form of justice for Alistair. He still looked concerned though.
“Is something still the matter?”
“Yes. If I ever did see her again I don’t know what I would do. We were never in a ‘real relationship’ like you call it, I can barely conceive of what that even entails.” I understood what this conversation was about now.
In some ways, having Alistair as a co-pilot was a lot like having a son. I had to prep him socially for the “real world,” empower him and show him how to be appropriately in tune with his emotions. “Well she might know about as little as you do, so you just have to go slow. You have to talk, you might go on a date together, maybe take a trip someplace… You don’t try to invade her space, but if she seems willing just go for it. If you really love her, you’ll feel something instinctive kick in eventually and everything will fall into place. You were raised a maniac but you know you’re a human. It comes naturally to humans.”
Alistair looked at me with an empty stare. “I don’t understand and I can’t imagine this at all.”
Despite his stony face, I could hear the frustration in his voice, and I completely understood. Meg told me about this all the time when I was UFIM training school. She said she studied crime management for four years without a single relationship or ever meeting anyone she ever liked in a sincere way. Then the one time she met someone meaningful, he disappeared after a few months and she never heard from him. She could never be sure if he really felt the way she did, and they never had many opportunities to meet together or be close. That’s what Alistair was going through: unbearable doubt and confusion that cannot be resolved by anything but seeing and being with someone in person again. This was the plague of the modern era; friends and family were scattered so far and wide that valuable physical closeness and actual in person interaction was rare and precious. Sometimes it was so rare that one felt completely alienated from all of society- estranged from what was supposed to be a more universal and connected society. The more we expanded our horizons, the more fractured and cold we became. Alistair was the gleaming product of this universe, and he knew it. He didn’t like it, and I was willing to do what I could to help him; In many ways that helped me too, because in all these years I’d lost mostly everything that ever meant anything to me. Holding onto Alistair was holding onto myself and everything I wanted to be.
Reading philosophy is a good deal of slogging.
Understanding what he meant by that using merriam webster,
or the OED.
He probably thought what he said would make sense to people,
or he might have thought it was a little dense for people.
but at the root of it he couldn’t tell me why he said what he said, when I asked him directly.
It seems he was struggling to find the words.
Inevitably, I could relate with him in that way.
and when I write my analysis,
I hope he’ll understand what I say.
In this world a human being is composed of the physical body and the soul. There's some kind of magic in this world that people can harness if they're capable of really connecting with their soul somehow, and there's a witch that's capable of tearing souls partly away from their bodies. She wants to enslave everyone and run the show.
The story begins in a courtroom where a case is being closed. Hera is one of the committee members who helped make a decision on the case. As Hera is leaving the room the judge tells Hera she has to help save the Prince, who has been "abducted." She goes immediately to the king and Queen to learn the details of her mission.
Hera finds out from royal court that the witch has cast a spell on the prince that separates his physical body and personal goodness from the evil material of his soul. Essentially now he is a small baby boy with little wits and distinct from that his evil and intellect is slinking around in the shadows of the real world, wreaking terror everywhere. The soul fragment terrorizes people by giving them nightmares and forcing them to not sleep.
The Royal court tells Hera that the nature of soul fragmentation is such that with time the ability for the prince to be restored to normal will be less. After having your soul torn up internally there's only so much time until you can't put it back together anymore. The royal court says Hera has about five days to save the prince.
Hera also meets Tom, the son of the dead, at the Royal Court. Tom has been hired to help Hera. Tom finds a sent of tracks from the evil spirit (I guess Tom can smell the evil spirit? Tom is from the underworld so he has some physical abilities to detect souls that regular humans don't have.)
Hera and Tom pursue the tracks of the soul fragment until they reach the edge of a woods. There they meet Oberon, a rabbit-eqsue creature, who for a large sum of money (which Hera could not pay upfront, but promised to in the future) offers to provide Hera with transport and security. They continue their journey with Oberon, since Oberon indicated he had seen the Soul fragment (and the innocent fleshy baby part of the prince) pass by the woods about a day ago.
The crew moves across the landscape nonstop from town to town all day, collecting reports of the creature and figuring out where it went next.
Then they run into the soul fragment for the first time. Tom tries to cut it with his Scythe but its no use. Tom accidentally slices the baby too, which bleeds a lot and starts crying. They run away, but not before noticing that the monster is very protective of the fleshy baby prince. The soul fragment carries the baby away.
Night falls on day 1. Hera falls asleep in a town hotel with Tom and Oberon. In the middle of the night she wakes up and notices Tom is gone. Tom returned to the underworld for a few hours to attend to some personal business apparently...maybe that'll be relevant later. Hera doesn't know where he went and she and Oberon walk outside to see where he might have gone.
They find soul fragment at the edge of town and its explaining to the baby what's going on. Hera overhears this without the soul fragment detecting her nearby. Apparently the soul fragment thinks the baby prince is it's child. Very weird, Hera thinks. Normally soul fragments aren't confused in that way, and that means it may be even harder to bring the pieces of the prince back together. The soul fragment later disappears into the bush. Hera and Oberon return to bed.
Day 2. Tom comes back in the morning and explains he was off seeing Marzanna. apparently Tom does not sleep. Why am I not surprised.
Hera tells Tom what she learned about the soul fragment. Tom devises a plan where Hera is a nurse at a hospital and she tries to help the baby while she talks to the soul fragment to convince it that it is not the father of the baby, and that instead it *is* the baby (confusing much? This is why I don't like Descartes mind-body dualism bologna).
The nurse plan does not work out so well, since the soul fragment starts to recognize Hera when she's talking to him.
This is where we learn a lot more about Hera, whose backstory is pretty underdeveloped at this point. We get some internal monologue from Hera:
I could tell the fragment was catching on to who I was. It was beginning to recognize me. The baby knew it before the fragment, the baby kept trying to hold my hand when I was close, and the evil would tear it away from me. I was one of the prince's greatest admirers outside of his official circle. He admired me more than anyone in his official circle and any of the others outside it for that matter. Could that help me somehow in my encounter?
The short answer was no. Because as soon as the cunning soul fragment knew who Hera was, he was able to tap into her mind. He started invading her dreams. And this turned Hera into a zombie pretty much. After the nurse plan failed, Hera, Oberon and Tom ran away again and camped out. Hera tried to go to sleep but kept having horrible nightmares. Tom disappeared again and didn't come back in the night to save Hera from the awful nightmares. This time Tom was secretly researching the depths of Hell's library to find a solution to the soul fragment problem. He realizes the only way for him to defeat the soul fragment is to physically mutilate it in someone's dream, to the point that it surrenders and listens to what Hera has to say to it. Hera has to be the one to tell the soul fragment what it is and how it can reunite with the rest of the Prince's body.
Day 3. Tom comes back and Hera is sobbing. She doesn't have any control over her thoughts and Oberon has to pin her down to keep her from trying to bash her own head in to make the horribleness stop. Tom realizes what happened and begins to formulate his final plan.
He pushes oberon aside and gives Hera a kiss. In doing so he makes some kind of emotional connection with her that she opens up to him more. He can then invade her thoughts the same way the soul fragment did. He tells Hera to go back to sleep. Hera doesn't want to because the nightmares are so awful, but he tells her she has to and she has to not die in the dream otherwise their plan will fail. They enter the dream.
Tom shreds the soul fragment almost to death in Hera's dream. Hera convinces the monster that the witch lied to it; the soul is not the father of the fleshy child, they are one in the same. The soul fragment surrenders itself and accepts Hera's words.
Just then the witch swoops down on Hera's sleeping body and tries to wake her up, but Oberon fends her off. Oberon gets killed in this fight, which makes me cry because he was such a good bunny. *sniffle*. Hera didn't have the money to pay him anyway.
Hera wakes up and sees the dead Oberon and the witch stumbling away with a bloody leg. Tom is laying on the ground, apparently still recovering from the fight in hera's dream (which is reality for him, since he is physically tied to the dream/soul world where dreams, heaven and hell are all based.) Hera grabs Tom's scythe which is laying on the ground and cuts the witch down the back, which physically ties her to the underworld. Tom grabs her and pulls her down into the underworld with him.
Hera realizes that between Tom kissing her and touching his scythe she's been tied to the underworld too. Tom takes her down with him when he takes the witch. In the underworld they find Oberon in a woods. Tom tells Hera he doesn't love Marzanna and that she's been cheating on him (Marzanna: Have not! Tom: Dead wrong. You have.) and that Tom loves Hera instead. Queue Romatic ending, except that everyone is dead. Oh wait, Hera is in love with that real prince too. Hera tells Tom that if he really loves her he'll help her escape Hell and get back to the real world where she can be with the human man she loves. I guess that will have to be an episode 2.
But sometimes buying material things can be pretty awesome too. Like recently my mom and I went up to the music store and I bought a trumpet. (wait no you play the piano what are you doing). That's right folks, I am now playing the trumpet. Or at least i will start doing so as soon as i figure out whats wrong with the trumpet because its making some really weird dying sorts of noises and I'm pretty sure I'm playing it right according to the informed people on youtube. I'm getting some real lessons soon after final exams. Trust me, I'm going to stick with it.
I also bought a pink wig. This is a little more strange but I've been struck with the need to go more feminine recently. I usually just do homework in my pajamas and my dad's big green jacket with no makeup and no pizzaz so to speak. But then i had this conversation with a friend that sort of changed my view on life in the past few months and not only has it made me a happier person but I also want to celebrate my life more every second of the day. I think part of the process of feeling like you're celebrating is to sort of go through a ceremony, aka, dressing up, behaving in a kinder way, etc. so I want to do that. So my plan is to pin up my real hair, wear my pink wig (it's like a really light almost whitish pink color, like Penelope's hair, not screaming neon!), maybe whip out the black eyeliner and dig through my wardrobe for some more goth stuff. I have a handful of black shirts but i may go on a spree for some other things to go along with all this. We'll see! If i look horrible in it i'll abandon the idea but I have faith that this will work out.
I am really excited for winter break, I'm going to florida to be with my cousins, whom I adore and think are quite hilarious. I wish they lived closer so I could spend more time with them... Everyone I want to see is always too far away.
Alistair and Terminus
Horatio and Penelope
Monsters from the other side of the universe
As with most phases in life, this one must come to an end. One must come to terms with the nature of inventions, that they are used for the time that they are needed and then replaced with the new and improved models. Of course there is that uncomfortable interim between such inventions, and I believe it is time for that uncomfortable interim to come to an end.
As it has left off over 50 years from where it started, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished wraps up on a distant and unusual planet where a species of bipedal, clicking plants rule the environment. Less than 5000 humans have been transported to this planet by means they do not understand or remember. MK and his crew are among these. Max was missing for a while, and the MK found him with the help of the team, then the team fought the remainder of the Maniacs that still held a grudge against humans for destroying the free will in Maniac lives and repressing their innate sense of joy, love and happiness. Later MK and the team ran out of enemies to fight and they settled on being the best shipment delivery team known to man. This is the happy ending we always wanted, minus Debbie, the rest of human society and the earth, and the bottom half of MK’s legs.
But I always wanted more out of the story. Every time I went running, every time I tried to fall asleep at night I would think: I need more. And I couldn’t make up more. MK was 55 years old, he didn’t move the way he used to, and part of his heart was torn out and squeezed to death when he lost Debbie. All that is left is this child, Max. Max was supposed to carry on the lineage of heroic deeds, but what was left for him to do? Earth and most of its inhabitants and values were gone. The team was stranded in an essentially technologically barren, green wasteland full of plants that make noises like crickets. These plant people had no use for the military power of the century, a handful of rag-tag soldiers from the corners of an immense intergalactic empire. No, these people were nothing now, all they did was deliver seeds from this place to that on the last plane they were able to put together themselves.
It would seem we’ve come to a dead end. I have made so many promises to myself that this was the story, that this story would go down in my history as one of the most epic adventures of all time, filled with the hate, joy, laughter, sorrow, revenge and pain of a thousand lifetimes. I still promise it will be that.
But it cannot be that right now. Not now, in the trenches of one of the most difficult times of my life. I’m sure I will see worse, but at the moment I need to do everything I can to preserve my personal well-being and motivation in a time where everyone around me is asking me what I want to do with my life and is constantly grading judging, assessing… Now is the time for action, and motivation, of success and a desire to continue to succeed. I cannot accomplish these things if I continue to live in MK’s world as it is. I will fail.
Instead I have to seek new heroes. Where and how I do not know. But I have to formally release myself from the bonds of attachment and maintenance and accept the possibility of the new. This is my statement of inner release.