Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Code Red

"It's your fault." It's not often to tell a client that, but sometimes it's the truth. 12 person jury, and they convicted him. It was his own fault, really. I call it The Giver's Dilemma. Like the prisoner's, only not alike at all. Essentially, you give gifts. And then you must give better gifts. And better gifts after that. And the gifts given in childhood count the highest, in this regard. We can remember when we got for our eighth birthday and not last year. To whit: if you give shitty gifts, the shit hits the fan.

In his case, 15 years without chance of parole.

I told the jury, "You can't put Santa in a no-fly list! He's the spirit of Christmas! Sure, he has sherry at every single home, but he's never been charged with a DUI yet." It failed. Horribly, miserably, failed. The prosecution got into the obesity epidemic, and my client as a poor role model, and then got into the whereabouts of Mrs. Claus, and the nature of Santa's 'elves'.

I tried to point out the magical aspects, to help salvage my client's dignity, but it never worked. I said: "And then the presents appear!" made more sense than the prosecution's arguments about relativity and a-entropic space/time fields. To which he said: "Oh, yes, and 'a stork brings them' makes more sense to children than nonsense about sexual reproduction."

Did the prosecutor made the naughty often? Don't even go there. It's an invasion of privacy and rights that made the Bush-Cheny administration look like poster boys for libertarianism. Then we had PETA weigh in on flying reindeer, church leaders on how my client had turned the Christmas season from a holiday about someone not born in December in a manger who may not have existed into crass commercialism that netted companies small fortunes and boosted the economy. It was the only part I won.

I tried to appeal to the fact that my client was a mythological entity, but I had no more luck than Creationists on their best days. I appealed to his Sainthood in the end, desperate for anything to sway jurors muttering about scab labour and shoddy toys and the prosecutor -- he just smiled. The scroogiest, grinchiest smile in lawsville, and said: "Your client is a bearded pseudo-saint with an affinity for the color red who makes it his mission to redistribute wealth to the youth that follow his orthodox code of behavior, while at the same time de-emphasizing religion? There is no Santa. He's just a fat, magical Trotsky!"

They laughed all the way though my attempts at a rebuttal. The jury convicted in in less than five minutes for a DUI, terrorism, flying without proper licences, animal abuse, scab labour, using illegal tactics to break up unions. Christ. I can't even recall all of it.

And when it was over, the Prosecutor laughed and left, a halo around his head, and said: "Yes! People wil celebrate Christmas in my name again! Mine, not a pathetic third century saint!" Never did get his name., but damn he argued a good case.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


“In nomine ....” The priest paused, unsure how it went from there. You are dying, he informed himself, but he already knew that. Memory had degraded, simple things become complicated, complicated ones simple. Two hours ago, he had rounded off pi to save time. What pi had been before was -- gone.
        “In name,” he said. “In the name of. Yes. That is is.” But what? He moved slowly through the junkyard, hands touching things at random as if hoping to spark memory from rust.
        I am dying, he thought again. It was not comforting. It was not uncomfortable. It just was. He knew he should not be. He had been the word made flesh, to live forever. But the world moved on, as worlds do.
        Who used fossil fuels? Energy cubes? No one, and none. And all that ran on them, dying and discarded. An immortality that does not change is only a prolonged death. Change. Strive. Or die. It seemed so simple now.
        The priest moved slowly, senses acute, hearing the child crying. There were responses built into him, about children crying, and comfort. Memory dredged up voices: “He is a robot: he cannot hurt the children, as men of cloth have. It is a perfect choice.” But I have words, he thought now, so I can. Other memories came and went, brief sparks, like a hurricane touching down and vanishing again.
        He used to be Important, the priest knew. Powerful, with the true kind of power, the kind used to better serve others. He had changed lives, helped people, told them the words that they needed to hear for the moment (often not what they had to hear, no, but the priest understood that few wanted what they needed). He wondered what he needed, but the crying voice seemed enough.
        To do what I was meant for, he thought, and he was, if not satisfied, at least content.
        The child was human, or human enough. To the priest, ‘human’ was ‘consciousness’ and he knew it when he saw it, in humans or otherwise. There are things that scanners cannot scan, he remembered counselling other robots. We are more than the sum of our parts.
        And the child before him was that. The priest counted several back-up organs, regenerative tissue, and currently a broken arm lodged under a fallen machine.
        The child cried, pulling at his arm though it did not move. He could have cut it off, and grown a new one, but that would have hurt more. So the child cried, and waited for rescue.
        “I am here,” the priest said, kneeling down beside the child.
        The child looked up, confused, and the robot was aware of being scanned in turn. “A robot?” Wonder replaced pain, for a few moments. “I didn’t know we still had robots.”
        The priest did not wince: his features remained calm, placid, hiding any pain that could have shown. “What do you need?”
        “My arm is trapped,” the child said.. “And I don’t think my distress call is reaching my sister.”
        The priest nodded, assessing the rubble and making calculations. “I am not certain I can free you from this: my systems are dying.”
        “Ah.” The child fell silent, pale with pain. “Is it hard?”
        The child nodded.
        “Sometimes. Things grow harder.” The priest sat down, sevros whining in protest. “Do you have priests, still?”
        “Some,” the child said. “But we are all immortal now. If I die here, I will live again with these memories, or most of them, in moments. It is only sleep, for us.”
        “A different world.” The priest was quiet then, wondering what their lives must be like. “Are you often sad, or happy?”
        “When I want to be,” the child said. “I could turn off my pain receptors, but then this would have no meaning.” He tugged at his arm, which remained stuck. “It will be a poor story to tell if I’m not hurt.”
        “You could free yourself,” the priest said.
        “I know. But then what’s the point to getting stuck, or the purpose?” the child asked.
        The priest stared into bright and challenging eyes. “I am a machine, for all that I am. I cannot escape that. But the universe is not one. Things do not have a purpose, as if they were equal, as if you are interchangable, as if it were a machine. To have purpose implies function. What is your function?”
        The child fell silent, thinking it over. “To live? It is what I am best at,” was added,. and the priest approved of the humour.
        “You are, and you are a part of life. There is no Purpose in that, no Meaning. I am, and you are, and we are part of life, and life is.” The priest stood, slowly. “This is not what I was taught to say, but it is what comes to me now. Sparks of data over memory crystals. Everything we do is like that. Meaning is not necessary. Appreciation is.”
        “Are you sure you’re not broken?” the child said, tugging at his arm again.
        “I am running down. I am dying. I am not certain the comparison applies.”
        “What do you do?” the child finally said.
        “I watch more sunsets,” the robot priest said. “I compare. I contrast. I am reminded that everything changes. And I am often afraid,” he added, mostly to himself. Death would end everything save memory, and only this child might recall him of all that now lived.
        “I’m not,” the child said.
        “Yes.” The priest stared down. A part of him wanted to ask if the child was certain to survive, if no distress call meant the child would not project awareness into a new body, but the priest knew them for its own pain, and said nothing. He reached down, with his good arm.
        “In nomine,” he said. “Yours and mine.” And he pulled the child free of the arm. The child screamed in pain, for a moment, the blocked the pain and pushed the priest back.
        “You - you hurt me?” the child said, a new arm growing.
        “I gave what you needed,” the priest said. “I am sorry.” He turned away, uncertain if he was more sorry for the child or himself. He would never have done that, before. But everything was falling apart. Even primary programs. Even his own commands. Desires remained, even now, but the child’s pain remained as well.
        The priest sat down, calmly, and stared up at the sky. The sun would rise, the sun would set. He waited to appreciate it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Art of Interviewing

When the come to the Firm it is my job to talk to them; I like to consider myself a First Responder.

"Yes, we offer brand name recognition." "Yes, we can give you new powers." "Yes, we help design your costume for you." "Yes, we hook you up with the best PR firms."

But really, I just ask questions. I'm good with those, and silences others feel the need to fill. And most of them want to talk: hiding their truths from family, lovers, friends. I've never understood why they do that, or what it says about them and trust, but we make a lot by referring them to discreet psychiatrists. If you can't tell your S.O. you are a superhero and you go around fighting for justice and truth, it adds up to a lot of sessions.

They talk away, and I just listen. You have to be a good listener, in this job. You have to know what to say, what can't be said, what must be said even if the client could destroy the entire office building in under three seconds. It's like poking a lion in a cage, waiting for it to roar. I understand why supervillains do the things they do better, now. (I prefer the publicity end of The Firm to the financial, so I have few dealings with them.)

Most of the heroes are scared, when they talk to me. What if they lose control? What if they turn on 'beat up villain' and can't turn it off? Even with training and government funding, there is always that fear. But fear doesn't always limit potential. I pay attention to the ones with potential,. the promise for heroism, who need that small extra push to greatness.

Some of them do realize something is missing, some indefinable drive or need, but they skirt the issue, slip aside from it. And I listen, nod, make notes, and run scanners, learn identities, probe secrets. Many of them have horrible masks that any decent face-rendering system can bypass. For the others, there are simple 2-minute DNA tests, secret databanks, and government files. Can't represent a client you don't really know, after all.

We weed out the ones without families, focusing on the loved, the cherished, the kindly family people. And we send our agents out, some time after the hero has left for work, or on a patrol. Because the Firm gives the services the heroes need, not only those they want. Because only the tragic hero is real, because we are defined by our loss, the sum total of regrets. Because a pure hatred can make a hero that no idealism can truly foster.

Because they could be great, and if their families must die to save the world, this is the price paid. We include it in the miscellaneous fees, when we do not do it for free.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Before the Injection

The strength to do
things that must be done

They ask me -- where from? --
even as I pick my last meal

(I pick the one you
always made, in silence)

I remember how you touched me.
I know where strength comes from.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So. The new year is going to be something new. I posted about it on the other blog. Dunno what I'm going to use this one for now, really: it may just end up as primarily a nano-ish blog (it's not like I update it often anyway).

Shall figure it out as I go along, as always ...

It's not the new year yet, but .....

I've decided to do something different with this blog. 2006 was poems (over 500), 2007-2008 were poems and stories. The poems have been falling by the wayside. I don't think 2006 burned me out on poetry, but there are only so many subjects I write poems about, and I've exhausted a lot of them. As well, 2008 has not been a stellar year for short stories. So for 2009 I plan to do something different.

It's called Gloaming. It's going to be a novel, posted in 3-4 page installments, written as I go. It began life before nanowrimo this year, but most novels being worked on before nano don't jell again after unless a draft is at least finished. This year was no exception, so I took what I'd written and deleted it. This is Gloaming v 2.0.

It is the story of Katie Smith, a 17 year old girl whose life is touched by magic and what it does to her, those she knows, and the world around her. It's being written by her, as letters/pages left for someone else to read. We shall see how it goes :)

A word of warning: I am a master of typos. You will find these (often odd ones). Have a good laugh over them, post comments if need be -- about them, or the story itself.

I plan to begin posting it in the new year, though not at any set schedule. Gloaming will be, essentially, my writing break from other novels, projects, and so forth. I will try to update it biweekly at the least.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Remember Ficlets

Remember Ficlets

The old man sat in the room, sunlight sliding in through cracks in the grimy window, and waited. There was cheering outside, joy and laughter; the sounds of children learning adult games of war, dominance - but hush, he told himself. It was never like that, when you were young. It was only a game, not a tool. Only a game.

He stood slowly, joints letting him know he was alive with the occasional twinge of too-familiar pain. The children had stopped coming, for lessons or for stories. Time had moved on; other heroes, other legends: some of them went out to make their own. He could see it in their eyes, remembered the hunger in his own.

"The price is having to be the best," he'd told them, desperate and sad and yearning. Nothing remains: you grow old, lose, try again. Then you are too old and there is nothing left but a pale mockery fighting the same old fight.

He turned on the lamp beside the bed, electric light filling the room, and stared at the ball in it, whispering: "I choose you," and remembering his youth.

3 short poems found on looseleaf paper


We have names for the masks
Not for what lies under;

We only have words for
Things we have words for;

Every time I dream of you
I forget a few more.

A finished fragment

The final piece of the puzzle
wasn't found in the box
(I made it in the backyard shed
cut & sanded to fit need);

The emptiness in the eyes
only wakens to a dream.


I wish to wake before the dawn
To see the night as clear as day
When everything that's come is gone
Leaving us nothing left to say.

Water's reflected on the moon
I'm dreaming of my destiny
And everything that comes too soon
Beneath the wide and empty sea.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Looking for sex in all the wrong places

The Warrior About Whom There Was No Prophecy strode into the city, seeking the Villain Who Must Be Named (because, otherwise, it was hard to find him.) They had been childhood friends, but death and blood had come between them and the Warrior knew he was under a terrible curse, but not its nature.

In time he found a woman, who was searching for her heart’s desire, but his quest went deeper than his heart, and the Warrior did not see his own True Love, but only information.

“I am looking for Sex. I have been my whole life,” he explained. “Sex was my childhood friend, but because of Sex my sister and my parents died in my arms and I … who are you looking at me funny? You’re calling the guard?!


And the Warrior drew his very ordinary and unnamed sword and slew her, screaming about Sex, and had to flee the guard, who seemed to be in league with the terrible villain as well, never once wondering upon the nature of his curse.

Somewhere, a magician named Bob was amused.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nano, fixing of..

Just some quick notes here, for me and to me:

- Camden needs to actually BE a superhero. The bank incident should spur him on to become one and win back Angelina.
- The world is one of superheroes and villains; as much as him being "I'm neither!" over it works in theory, it failed in practice. GhostSoul it works for, since he is essentially amoral. Camden is not.
- The mid-life crisis becomes more oomphable with him questioning his decision to be a hero, the good he's done etc. etc. It also needs to happen via scenes throughout the novel, not just in the rare scenes I did. The Rsketh need to be more than they were.
- Yugo needs to appear more.
- a CREDIBLE (i.e. useful to char and plot) alternate-dimension trip has to happen, not the thing I wrote.
- If his parents are important, they need to BE in the novel more.

things to leave entirely as they were:
- Master J.
- Edsel worked wonderfully.
- Bryce, though there need to be non-powered them flashback moments.
- Atomic Crush. More scenes with, too.
- Linda, though she does have to change jobs.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Things I learned this year in nano....

1) Just because the first week rocks on toast doesn't mean the rest of the words won't come very slowly. Granted, Real Life involved itself, but it was still rather surprising.

2) Do not plan to write 22 years of someone's life as a nano ever, ever again.

3) First person with a cast of over 80 == stupid.

4) Two nano in a month may happen again next year; I just end up having idea A and B and C come screaming along; I ignored them this year, but did a lot of plot stuff for them in 2 notebooks when I could have been working on nano.

5) Do not try to run rpg sessions even once a week during nano. The focus is gone.

6) Starting to do plot stuff in September does not work. A 12K file on the nano seems good until you realize less than 1K of it was actually an outline of the plot :)

And it becomes a wordle.

Nano 08 worldle.

And was done, at almost 75.5K. A strange first draft, heading off into odd places at times, with a plot too big for a nano and too damn many characters. I suspect will (would?) be a better novel if not in first person, so shall let it sit six months, re-read it, and go from there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Untitled Poem

I walked with her in dusk and gloom
Though the will'o'wisps clear light
In darkness and in fears
And a hundred silent nights
Underneath the newest moon.

Every night I walked her home anon
No matter the rain nor wind
Sometimes we shared our quiet fears
And others would remind
Ourselves to all that's been and gone.

We walk together in memory
My lady's footsteps and I
And still I walk even if my tears
Remind me I shall die
And she never thinks the less of me

Monday, November 17, 2008

Short poem that isn't very good

Failings of kindness
in trying to make your feelings
my own;

failings in love
were we both too weak to let go
of us?

Failing to know
whrre knowing reaches wisdom
and peace,

Failure of -- what.
That I see us and no longer

Sunday, November 09, 2008

9 days into nano....

43,000 words done, which is not bad at all. I'm only 3 years into the actual plot, which is not as good since said plot spans 22 years, but a lot of the 'now' plot has been setting up characters and back story for some, as well as foreshadowing fun. I think the second draft will shorten the time frame to 10 years (or even less) but that's for then.

Currently, the MC is en route to another dimension - the details and nature of which I've yet to decide - and various things are happening back in his 'real' life that should shake things up some. Social pressure to become a superhero will grow, his brother head down dark paths and possible cracks appear in his relationship with his GF. All of which leads up to the first of 3 (now 4) alien invasions and the price protecting the world exacts on him.

Should be fun, though whether I finish it in the month or not is doubtful...

Friday, November 07, 2008

just an older poem

It's midnight in the garden
And no one's learned to weep,
But Eve is sitting all alone
And Adam's fast asleep.

nanowrimo fun

Ah, nano.. research tonight has been a) syntax of british sign language and b) how one goes about destroying a galaxy

Yes, it is late, but grief comes late and early and all..

I believed in you.
I bought into your stories.
How flexible you were.
That you'd be, for me,
during storm or snow,
hail or winter.

I do not believe that,
in these dark times
of dear, or the mail -
but you promised
flexible keys to me,
cleanable keys for me
even mobile mobility!

(In my loss, I can only link
to you, no tears are mine)

And only the old is left,
to be learned again,
because with it I have
spacebar (well, half of one).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The alley was quiet, a nice shortcut between Sixth and Rogers. I’d used it a few times on dates with Cassie, since her parents were strict on when she got home.
        “So how was the movie?”
        “Interesting,” Edsel said from beside me in his soft, accentless voice. “I had expected a virtual system.”
        “Might happen some day. Right now it’s just to expensive and if everyone sees the movie really differently in VR landscapes. There’s not enough commonality their yet, or something.”
        “I would think they all get different things from it regardless.”
        “I guess. But they have the same basic experience, not having rejigged a VR to turn the characters into furries or something from their view.”
        “Besides, I just wanted to know if --.”
        “Your money, now!” The voice was harsh, a gun waved a the two of us after we walked by the dumpster. The gunman was wearing shades and looked scruffy, sounded desperate.
        I looked down at my hands, which remained normal, and got between him and Edsel. “Are you stupid?”
        “I said gimme all your money! Now!”
        “Do you know how many superhumans and vigilantes this city has?” I demanded. “How many people have you even managed to mug?”
        He stared at me, then waved his pistol. “I’ve got the gun!”
        “For all you know I could be one,” I snarled.
        “You - you haven’t done anything.” He clicked the safety off. “Money! No tricks!”
        I glanced down at my hand, saw my skin had begun to turn red and tried to keep the change from reaching my face. I looked back up and sighed. “Why do you even need the money?”
        “You’re not my goddamn therapist!” He moved closer towards us, and finally noticed Edsel. “Mother of god....”
        I glanced over; Edsel removed the sunglasses he habitually wore outside and was holding them in his hands. Grey, two-fingered alien hands and onyx eyes stared at the would-be mugger.
        “He’s just a friend,” I said quickly; I didn’t know what would happen if he shot Edsel, but I doubted most hospitals would be able to treat the wound fast enough.
        “I. I.” The mugger threw his gun into the dumpster, added an: “Oh shit,” tonelessly and began to run.
        “I didn’t want you getting shot either,” Edsel said calmly as he put the glasses back on. “His motives might be interesting.”
        “Right.” I snapped my fingers, two bolts of red energy flashing from my thumb that sliced brick out of the wall in front of the mugger and carved a line in the alleyway in front of him.
        The mugger stopped and looked back, then froze.
        “You’re going to hurt me, aren’t you?”
        I sighed and walked over. “You could have kept running?”
        “You - you sliced right through the ground!”
        “Oh. Right.” I tried to let me skin return to normal. “Why did you want to mug us”
        “You’re not gong to beat me up?”
        “Why would I?”
        “Your skin turned frikken’ red and-- and--” the mugger waved a hand to the shattered brick wall. “That, to flesh!”’
        “I wouldn’t.” He stared at me in disbelief. “Part of my power is being really good at controlling it; I doubt you’d want a demonstration though?”
        He nodded.
        “So, why this...?” I waved a hand to the dumpster with the gun, but still saw him flinch.
        “I lost my job to the Fixer.”
        “Sorry, who?”
        The mugger scowled. “He fixes stuff. Buildings. Rods. Not much need for public works with assholes like that around.”
        “Public works accepts anyone,” Edsel put in quietly from behind me.
        “What the alien said. Tried finding a job after that, but --.” He shrugged. “I never finished high school, you know? And I thought about how most people expect the heroes to save them, and figured --.” He shrugged. “First two kids beat the living crap out of me. Street Angel got them into self-defence classes. Ended up running away from a suspicious shadow, you know, the second time.”
        “And we were number three?” I said slowly.
        “Yeah. I don’t even have insurance against getting beaten up by super-folk, you know? I just didn’t know what to do.”
        “Wait, insurance?”
        “You’re new at this, aren’t you?” My would-be mugger relaxed a little. “Look, if you spent all your time hitting giant robots, blasting people who can take that,” waving a hand to the line I’d cut in the earth, “All the time, you might hit a regular person too hard one day, right? Or, if not you, some other hero.”
        “It’s why they let the vigilantes deal with muggings. And they’re easy enough to avoid, really. I just --.” He shrugged again.
        “There is a Drycleaners down by the warehouse district, fourteenth and Smith. They’re rebuilding, and could use more staff. Easy job to learn, and there is at least one opening.” I grinned. “Take out one superhuman who is having a fit about the state of his clothing and no one looks at you the same again.”
        “You really don’t plan to hurt me?”
        “I’m not a superhero. So no.” I paused, thinking that over. “That came out really bad, didn’t it?”
        “A little,” Edsel said. “And your powers shielding me or not, I need to get home soon. There is -- too much to See out here.”
        I nodded, walking past the man who’d tried to mug me and kept going.
        “You plan to call and find out if he shows?” Edsel said, sounding a little strained.
        I sent out more energy on the infra-level, trying to give him more respite from the amount of information flooding him. “His choice. Sid you see him?”
        “In the alley. You never issued any warning.”
        “I know.”
        I looked over, but he looked back without any expression I cold decipher. “I’m not a superhero,” I said. “I don’t plan to be one.”
        “I know,” Edsel said again.
        “Then what was that about?”
        “Giving you reasons why. Reminding you, when you fly, that people don’t look up to see gods overhead.”
        “They don’t?”
        “They’re too busy watching for falling debris,” the alien said, and we were both silent for the rest of the walk to his home.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Quest

I'm the locker room joke come to life. Everyone makes those jokes, about the kid who can see into the girls locker room, or the invisible pervert. I'm superhuman: I can do both those things, and a few more beside. I can shift my shape and sneak into places, through barriers -- but none if makes a superhero.

Not that I ever wanted to be one. We all grew up reading about them, about their exploits and their deed, and until the Super Expose came along no one probed into marriages, team rivalries, bad passport photos: they'd all be scared. But not Mac the Maverick. He went after all of them (even Atomic Crunch) and they beat up photographers issued restraining orders, blew up his offices, sued him -- and that was just the superheroes. But he published anyway , the truth, the lies, the slurs that people gave up and got paid for (sometimes) and showed, sometimes painfully, how thin the veneer of 'super' lies over that of 'human'.

Everyone hates me. Even those who loved what he did hated him. But I never did. I wasn't going to go around calling myself Peeping Tom and being some superhero, or some villain, or work for some shitty shadow government. I was going to get rich. And I did and I have. I don't do it for the money anymore. Mac has other superpaparazzi for that these days. I just follow special projects, like The Eight.

And Dance Master. He's fast, he flies: that makes him hard to take pictures of, track, pin down. I've followed him for that alone. And seen him dance. I've seen his dances that kill ninjas, his dances to woo women, his death dance that took down an entire Chess Board in close quarters. I've seen him at his strongest, his weakest, and every point between.

But he' s clever. For all the press hounds him, he declares he has no boyfriend at all. I understand why: he doesn't get many endorsement deals as it is. I know finding this will hurt him. But there is nothing more important than truth, no matter how many stones we uncover to get at it. He's handsome. Beautiful. Athletic. Male. And his power is superdancing for chrissakes. Anyone can draw the lines, but he still refuses to let them put the picture together.

I admire that. I really do. But it does not prevent me from doing my job. Nor the women he brings home and screws like wine bottles. (I called it "corking them" in an editorial; the lawsuit is ongoing.) I know it's just a cover. I know he loves me, deep inside. I know what his powers are trying to tell him.

I know he'll understand, some day. The letters, the roses. the articles. All of it. We only hurt the ones we love. All he has to do is admit what everyone knows. And I will applaud his bravery, smile
my bedroom smile, and he will know how much I cared for him, how much I love him, to drag him into the light.. With one simple camera, and a flash.

Friday, October 10, 2008


It all depends on upon the things it all depends upon
When the air is full of whispers, and the sky is filled with pain
And no one is there to tell you just what it's supposed to mean

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


They lock them away, once they can do more than destroy mountains. In dark places, or stasis fields, or other dimensions. Some might simply be killed; I am not sure. My brother wonders about this more than I, because he is Teleshaper, one of the three most powerful telekinetics in the world that the world allows for.
        He is a superhero, because otherwise he would have been locked away in fear. He hides his true strength, because they will lock him away regardless if he uses it. His secret is that he is stronger than anyone knows, strong enough to juggle mountains. Strong enough to tear the planet in half. Maybe.
        And he’s a hero. But there is mind control, and trickery, and madness: he could be pushed to that, the people who make the hard decisions think. The ones who allow the Atomic family to exist for reasons all their own.
        I’m just his younger brother. They tested me, too, but found nothing. Mom can fly, dad is a decent teek. I’m just normal. It’s my secret, one even the Institute that studied me might not know. I can make other things normal, too. I’m average. Boring. And I can stop their powers, by thinking about it. I can make any of them normal too.
        My brother can level mountains. I could stop him from doing that; does that mean I am more powerful than he is? More powerful than even Atomic Storm? The Six? Possibly. that’s my big secret, that I could beat nay of them. That I could drag them down to the human level, and then punch them a few times. Some of them have probably never even bled before.
        I watch them on the TV, and wonder which ones I’d hurt the most. Even the heroes would be afraid of me. And I would die. Every time the urge get strong, I tell myself that. they are heroes, and villains. They are our gods, sometimes. They would kill me, for dragging them down. Others would help them, because I’d hurt their saviours.
        I try and work out how long I’d have, before someone would kill me. I wonder how many other people are out there, like me, who can stop powers from working. I wonder how many the Institute knows about, how many die in accidents, how many get snatched up into covert groups and die in secrecy.
        I am more powerful than the most powerful superhuman on this planet, and I am too afraid of dying to ever use my power. It’s almost funny, except it’s not. I wonder how many of them would want to be normal, how many would protect me if it came to that, but I don’t know. I don’t know.
        I just watch them on TV, and ignore the digs by my brother at me because I’m just ‘normal’ and my parents constant waiting for me to develop powers, to make something of myself, and keep my secret deep inside.
        I go through a lot of Tums. But I still have it. And they don’t look as scary, or as impressive, when I know what I could do to them, to all of them. If only no one would hate me, when they knew my secret, if only they’d realize I’d be saving them, making the suerphumans remember they were human, if only I could be sure it would get rid o the ulcers if only ...
        But I turn the TV off, when the news finishes, and go to bed. Not tonight. I have a crappy job, but my secret gives me strength. Lets me endure everyone. I won’t give that up today.
        Even if I need to by more Tums next week.

novel titles

I can has title? would be a neat title for a novel :P

Just not for one I'd write. I am 10K into plotting nano bits, and have just realized I have no title at all for it.

Minor thing :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To Show

There's an empty hollow in the corner
where once a rocking chair of wood
some times you come there and you've stood
tears don't come even when they should

It feels like the whole world's quiet, silent
before the grave; feelings only violent
a single harsh breath silenced; there it went

Across the roads, through the woods you used
to walk through and they're all waiting, all confused
everyone knows you were never abused
everyone knows
they're only waiting for the final mourner

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The day too-bright summer
hot, the sky empty-clear azure
blue never reaches

Clouded, his thoughts are
owned, not shied from, hands
dark and heavy, light above

Cancerous, a world full of omen
meaning craving for a hunger
hope gnawing inside.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember, remember ....

Was catching up on a friends blog and realized: Oh, it's the 11th. And so I thought about the day a bit.

I remember being woke up by a phone call from a friend, telling me to turn on the tv. I did, and stared at the screen,and asked her if it was a movie. She kept telling me to wake up and that it was happening. I realized I actually had never thought about said centre before,not really known it existed. The first thing I said was, "So, when do the conspiracies start?"

After, I went downtown (I was living in Ottawa then) and the entire core was silent, the mall almost empty. I got some food, and the manager at the fast food place told me she'd sent everyone home early, and was about to close up for the day. I went past a closed bar,and people clustered about a tv still on, silent, watching it.

I thought about fear, and the response to it. And what would drive people to what the terrorists did. I wondered at foreign policies that made terrorism a logical response, and thought more about hate and fear on the way home.

I look back, now, and the fear won. The terrorists won. Any victory against them was Pyrrhic at best. It doesn't have to win, not in the end. But after a war that couldn't be won and another that should never have been I wonder about what the end of this will be like, what historians will say ... and where they will be silent.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Plotting out nano

I am ostensibly writing superheroes. The chief problem is that I tend to apply real-world thinking to them (like, "How can the cast of Smallville afford insurance anymore?). The end result is that I need to strike a line between this world and that of a world in which super humans exist.

In this world, superhumans are sometimes celebrities. Which means they attract a special bred of paparazzi. There are superhuman talk shows and tabloids. (There used to be an olympics for superhumans. Once, three years ago. No one talks about that too much. They were held on Mars to reduce collateral damage ... they still haven't found Phobos yet.)

In this world, being a 'mutant' can be cool. It can be freaky. It can be ugly and useless. It can also just be cancer, and you just die. People do that, after all; most never return.

In this world, superheroes can save it. Sometimes. Those who do it often, and not from problems they cause, are considered heroes. Plain and simple. (This is akin to huge sports stars, who can get away with anything and the world turns a blind eye.)

In this world, aliens exist. Some heroes. Some villains. Even tourists. A few have TV shows, though aliens chefs have never caught on.

In this world, superhumans are common enough that a sudden rush of missed classes by good students leads to teachers asking them if they have powers. Sometimes. Most people learn to take the insanity in stride, and even derive pride from it. ("I was there during the invasion of the Meteons, man! It was so awesome! They turned me into a car with their whole 'make humanity useful, let it understand its servants' science that Inventions Inc. reversed, but it never helped me pass driver's ed.")

In this world, superhumans can be treated as weapons of mass destruction and locked away accordingly. In this world, even the villains who believe humanity to be ants crushed under their death ray still have to find funding to make it, and pay their phone bill.

In this world, there are bars for superhumans. With strong drinks, and a 'no fans and no sidekicks' policy. Because life isn't fiction,and sometimes you aren't fast enough, don't have the right power or trick for the job, don't think quite quick enough that one time ...

In this world there are heroes, and their are villains, and some have powers, and some do not: and in the end all that defines them is their common humanity and how far they'd go.

Monday, September 08, 2008

To Love That Never Was

There must have been a reason
Sometime and way back then
For everything you did, and didn't
And the way that things begun.

I'd like to think I understood
Or could have been a friend
But you only lets the cats close
And each died in the end.

From cars and dogs and people
But each you bore with pride
To come home with a new pet
And a secret deep inside.

The day I found the pet food
And the rat poison jar
After you'd bemoaned vet bills
And the last died to your car.

I watched the dogs come next
They came and died so fast
I wondered what they took from you
And how long you could last

I never said I loved you, just
Held for hope in vain
And then I found the dog food
The night of storm and rain

I'd been helping you because of
A wild night of hail and wind
And what I saw I never spoke
And fear I hid behind

When the vet clued in years later
When just one dog got loose
My brother was the one to find you
Holding your makeshift noose

You said it was a leash and laughed
(He still pales to recall)
The dog's eyes filled with broken thing
and he cowered to the wall

I know all this and more beside
I'd followed all the news
And yet when I see your face
I still feel so confused

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Untitled piece

The home of the alchemist Ikhthu turned out to be a giant fish, bright blue and preserved by unknown means. Dead bodies hung off the enormous tail under a large sign that read ‘graffiti is not tolerated on the whale’.
        “You’re certain he won’t kill me?” Quinn said slowly as they stared up at the rotting corpses.
        “You heal,” Carson said absently.
        “Right.” Quinn squinted. “Their legs and arms?”
        Carson looked up, then shrugged. “Why would an alchemist waste parts?”
        Quinn turned a little pale but managed a smile and followed Carson to the side of the fish, which had stairs in need of repair leading up to a door.
        Carson walked up and rapped on the door. “Hey!”
        The door was opened a few minutes later by a kid of about 10, who scowled up at them. “Oh, you.” His skin was a pale green and his voice odd and bubbly and one hand had been replaced by a red claw at some point. “I don’t recall asking for anything from you this week?”
        “I need a favour.” Carson nodded to Quinn. “He has writing under his skin; we need to know what it says.”
        “Oh?” he snapped his claw thoughtfully. “Now I’m interested. Come in.”
        “How old is he?” Quinn whispered as he followed Carson in.
        “I’m almost twelve,” Ikhthu snapped, not turning around.         
        Carson just smiled at Quinn, then looked around. the interior of Ikhthu’s home hadn’t changed, though there were even more fish tanks and the walls were covered in details drawings and notes scattered about seemingly at random.
        “You used to have a bed?”
        Ikhthu waved his human hand to a tank of water. “This is easier; the bed too up too much space.”
        “Ah. I guess that’s why you have gills?”
        “Don’t need them. They look cool, though, right?”
        Carson nodded. “You’re still making fish men?”
        “Trying to.” He scowled, heading around tanks to the back. “My backer keeps wanting breasts on them.”
        “Breasts?” Quinn asked, looking into a tank. A creature, neither male nor female, was in it, covered in green scales with a mouth of sharp teeth and alien eyes that stared back at Quinn without blinking.
        “I told him that would make them less aerodynamic,” the alchemist said. “And he only wants the female ones. I’m going to have to change how they breed to take that into account. they could impregnate themselves if I do it right.”
        Quinn looked back. “What?”
        “Just how flexible are they?” Carson said, trying not to laugh at Quinn’s expression.
        Ikhthu gave them both a blank look. “What does that have to do with anything?”
        “He probably wants to use the for sex,” Carson said.
        “Excuse me? I am the alchemist. That means I am the insane one. Did you see the claws and teeth? You don’t have sex with things that can rip you into shreds. Even I know that.”
        “You’d be amazed what people will do for some fun.”
        “The same people who think alchemists are mad?” the boy frowned. The standards may have to be revised. I would not copulate with a fish person, even if my equipment was functional yet -- is something wrong with your friend?”
        “Quinn? He has coughing fits sometime.”
        “I see. I built the fish men to survive predatation, Carson. I could see keeping them on display at art, but other things -- that is, at the least, foolish.”
        “It’s okay; you replaced your hand with a fish claw; you’re still insane in my books.”
        “I am beginning to consider that I may be sane; insanity seems the only rational response to an insane world, thus I am sane.”
        “What did you make the fish people for?” Quinn said
        “To see which one would survive when I throw them all in a giant tank of course. That will determine the next generation build.”
        “And this is sane?”
        “Saner than having sex with them. Now what do you want?”
        “He needs to go in a solution so we can read the writing under his skin,” Carson said. “If you can do that?”
        “Of course. Do you want him alive after?”
        “I want me alive after,” Quinn snapped.
        “I could make you better?”
        “No thank you.”
        “I said no.”
        “With gills!”
        “Ikhthu,” Carson interrupted, “just what we want, all right?”
        The alchemist sighed. “Everyone would be better with gills. Fine. get into the vat near the front, I’ll add the solution, and you just swim around.”
        “That’s all?” Quinn said.
        “Unless you want --.” Ikhthu sighed. “Figures. No, that’s it.”
        Quinn shrugged and stripped, lowering himself into the cold water and swimming around slowly as the alchemist added red dye and just watched. Quinn swam, ignoring the whispered conversation with Carson involving “just one fish man? Please?” as best he could, and the world began to swim along with hi. danger hit, hard, a feeling like ants over his skin and his body grew numb and distant as he sank into the reddened water.

“Is he supposed to float without moving?”
        “Well, probably, no. You don’t seem worried?”
        Carson smiled tightly. “Quinn surprises me.”
        Ikhthu looked up in surprise. “You knew my solution would kill him?”
        “I thought it might.”
        “Are you people really certain we alchemists are the mad ones?”
        Carson shrugged and grabbed rope, hauling Quinn out and starting at the words under his skin. “Parchment. Now.”
        He began writing quickly, reversing letters easily. They were in code as well, but that was easy enough to decipher. He finished the chest as the colour faded, frowning at the results.
        “What’s it say?” Quinn said, not moving.
        “Surprising things. Your pages are important. You are aware you aren’t breathing/’
        “Oh.” Quinn started breathing again slowly, coughed up some water, and stood, finding his clothing and dressing.
        Ikhthu made a happy burbling sound and regarded Quinn hungrily.
        “We need to go now,” Carson said. “You’d be a perfect lab specimen.”
        Quinn just nodded and followed him outside slowly.
        “Don’t ask. We need to get back to the apartment, and talk.”

Thursday, August 28, 2008


All that is left
is a blackened pot
drying on a rack
cutlery scattered
under it, kindling.

Cold to the touch
as if it were iron
or had burned under
cold fire:

If things were -- different --
the water drying
would be your tears,
something left behind.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Small little poem found in a file

I've been plotting out your thoughts, I have to say:
Following down your neuron pathways
Isn't quite the same when all I'm doing is waiting
For you to think my name
With another word than friend.

I'm making t-shirt slogans from your dreams
Soothing all your unquiet fears
Never wondering what I'm doig, from this task
Never pausing, only waiting
For other than the ending.

The machine keeps making noises, I keep making notes
Funding's cutting, i'm low on choices
I want to turn off the machine, turn it all off and ask ...
(I can't keep loving you by rote)
Can you just once not codescend?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

small mercies of youtube

“barbie cthulhu” video results 0 0 of about 0

... Well, I found barbie death goth so I figured this had to exist as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008



It is one of the first things we wonder. For some, the only thing we ever really say. But there is never an answer. We think there is, or should be, but all we have is this life, and then death. It's all we know we have, all we really get. Everything else is guesswork, desperation, faith.

We pray when the dead are dying, when we're in pain, when hope has fled us, when we have nothing else -- prayer is what is left when there are no other options., no other changes, no other hope left to us. That's the only time faith comes in. We only mean then when they're all we have left, when everything else has failed us and we can only hope for miracles or gifts, or rewards.

We offer anything, then. And those we care for still die. Nothing changes that. Not magic, not will, not power. In the end, our god fail us as much as everything else does. We end, and we die, and our story is over. no matter our goals, hopes, desires, dreams -- in the end it all comes to naught, nothing, finished.

We finally learn that our desires cannot change the ways things are. But this is not the worst thing, no, not at all. Even outliving those you love is not that. But part of it is in there. They die, and we go on. They die, and the world goes on. We who have lost so much, been so deeply shattered, waken to realize it means nothing. The world continues as it was. As if nothing happened.

So, to the why, there is nothing. We will die as well, and the world will continue. People wll get up, and go to work, and laugh and love and hate, and we will be only the past, and they will all look to the future. We will learn that the world doesn't break when we do, how insignificant we truly are.

And I wonder, walking, if old people wonder this, with eyes still clear and hands close to the triggers of bombs. If they think they would matter, if it ended with a bang and not a whimper. If they ask why, and all they get back is

"Why not?"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

.. should not be forgot.

Dearest Andrew,

Beginnings are easy. We don't always see them, but they are there. New loves are the most common kinds, easily definable. New jobs, loss of jobs, loss of love: the more visible the ending, the more obvious that there is, or was, a beginning. No layers to peal back, you see; only a clear gaze pinned onto oneself.

I have been thinking about you a lot lately. About us, sometimes, but mostly you. R----- left me, today. His father left his mother; I should have seen it in that. I think I thought I could change him, the dream my mother gave to me. It may be the dream of all women, to shape men with their wiles. And like all dreams, there is nothing of truth to them. Love, beauty, hope: all our dreams fade away as we grow older and see clearer. I sometimes think that revenge is the only one we keep.

Hate keeps us warm when all the other fires have grown cold.

I know you will be wondering; so, yes. I have been drinking. We find what solace we can on dark nights. This isn't one, never fear. It is a night like all the others, no better and no worse. I thought of you when he left, because of how it happened. There were no angry words, no slammed doors, no curses. Only young love is still that volatile.

I found myself unsure of what we had when he left, beyond habit. It made me think of you, strangely. I am not sure why: Perhaps because you were my first, or because R---- reminded me of you, in some small way. I think what we had was not love, if it was only to try and recapture you. It was a hollow ending.

Even when I am in love, you know, I understand that it is not a real thing. Not a quantifiable thing. I understand it in the way we know solids are empty spaces. Did you know that the space between the heart of an atom and where electrons roughly are is greater, dear, than from Sol to Pluto? I can know this, but I cannot imagine it. And I have never been able to fool myself about love.

I wonder if what if why you left, the real reason. My failure of imagination. That I could not give enough. I doubt it was the only one, but I'd like to think you saw that deeply into me. With R---- it was something else, Andrew. I will not bore you with the melodrama of it. it It was, merely, that love was his gift, and I was to receive it. An offering, on his terms, and nothing more.

You kissed me when you left though. A kiss as strong as our first, a farewell. Few are as strong at the end of things as at the beginning. I think, if I was to remember you by only one thing, that would be it. Our real gifts are ones we do not we have. Things we give away that do not return to us.

Because memories are surer that dream,

- Deliah.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thoughts on nano...

So, for this year I wanted to do something involving superheroes. Only not a parody/satire in the direct sense, since that has been done to death. The interesting problem is that the resulting novel will not be a superhero one, in a strict sense.

Time passes. People age,die, grow up. Change.

Superheroes do not change. It's one of the defining characteristics of the genre. Many Famous Detectives also follow the same mold (you could throw James Bond in it too). They don't age. Each story is complete, itself: it leaves no scars, no wounds that last, no baggage to drag a character down with. We grow by experience, but we learn via scar tissue.

So I am not quite sure what this nano will end up as, for all that it will hold the tropes of a superhero story.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zombie Seasonal Haiku

The world is cold, I
feel lost, thinking: am I dead
Inside? So hungry.

In summer brains are
Soft, casing easy to peel:
Look! no seeds inside.

Autumn leaves are a
Memory of my hair, which
Falls out as i rot.

Spring is growing things,
Rats burrowing in my legs,
babies born: more brains!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tales of a hunter


I lie to get jobs. Every town is a new name, a new identity thrown on like a cheap coat. Mr. Reynolds was asking me the usual questions, if I thought I’d be a good fit at Harolds. It’s a clothing store and he was treating it as if it would be my first and lost job, as if I planned to sell clothing until the day I died.
         I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of motivational tapes he was on.

“So, what do you want to do when you grow up, Billy?”
         “I want to work in retail, Ms. Smith.”
         “Yes, but what do you want to do?”
         “You already know that.”
         “We hoped you’d made progress since our last session.”
         “Increasing your dosage is not progress. I know what was put on this world to do. Do you?”
         I’d laughed, too. You don’t laugh at people in power. It had led to electroshock, but I never admitted to killing anyone. Because hey weren’t people.

He hired me, even told me his first name was Alex. I’m good with people, always have been. Sociopaths are too, I’ve been told, but people tell me a lot of things. Often when they don’t want to and in between screams.
         I lasted over three hours until one came in. Complaining old lady demanding this and that, trying to give meaning to miserableness by ordering staff about and considering it an outing, being social, meeting people. It would have been confused with royalty, once, but I saw beneath that. I offered to help her, the new guy foisted on the old lady.
         Alex asked me where she was, five minutes later, and I told him I’d left her in the change room. He looked in and staggered out a few moments later, throwing up on the beige carpets. The look on his face when he stared at me told me we were back to Mr. Reynolds but the only asked me to enter his office, then closed the door, and the blinds, and unplugged the phone.
         “What the hell happened?!’
         “She died,” I said.
         “You killed Mrs. Ditmore!”
         “Well, yes. It is quite hard to strangle yourself with scarf and bash your head open with shoes. It’s all right though,” I said giving him my third-best smile. “I am sorry I had to ruin a 220 dollar pair of shoes though.”
         “She was a demon. Normal people do not produce that much blood in a room when beaten to death.”
         On reflection, I probably sounded a bit too authoritative as Mr. Reynolds pulled out his cell phone so fast he almost sprained his wrist.
         My stomach rumbled, and he nearly wet himself.
         I used the moment to stand, grabbing his hand lightly. “You don’t want to do that.”
         “You killed one of my customers!”
         “You don’t want demons for customers. They cause aggravation, feed on frustration. Demon is just a term for them: they’re an infection, parasites who prevent people from being the best that they can be. I try and prevent them.”
         “Mad.” He jerked back. “You’re mad!”
         “I’m also hungry. I need a good job; a place to stay for a couple of weeks to ground myself. You call 911 and I’ll tell people you did horrible things to me.”
         “N-no one would believe that.”
         “The case would drag out. I have lots of buried skeleton,” I said gently. “I bet you do, too. Everyone does. You’d never escape the stigma of it. Or lawyer fees I couldn’t afford to pay, even if you won.”
         “How dare you?” He glared, anger pushing the fear aside.
         “It’s the law,” I said. “You appear to be a sane man, Alex..”
         “Mister Reynolds, to you - whatever you are!”
         “All right, Mister Reynolds. Then you should that your being innocent doesn’t matter. Victims go on trial along with the accused. And people would dig up dirt.”
         “What kind of monster are you?” he whispered.
         “Only the human kind. I’ll be gone in two weeks,” I said. “I just need to pay for some repairs on the car and an alimony payment.”
         “Will you kill any more customers?” he demanded.
         “Only the demons.”
         He paused a moment. “Do they have to be our customers? Can’t you do it outside work hours?”
         “Demons exist to destroy the potential to see the good in others, our faith in our shared humanity. Most of them frequent retail.”
         “Not politicians?”
         “Even demons have standards.” I waited, but he didn’t laugh. “Who do you think is a demon?”
         “My niece.”
         “Oh. Children.” I reminded myself that the car did need a lot of work, and his desire was working through his shock nicely. “I’ll see what I can do, but if she’s two or a teenager it’s hard to tell.”
         He did laugh at that, though I hadn’t been making a joke this time. I didn’t let it bother me; there was one less demon in the world, and that meant the world was a better place, even if I’d spend the next three hours lying to my fellow species and cleaning out a dressing room.
         If hunting demons was easy it would show up in the classifieds.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I do what I can

I do what I can and I can what I do
But I fear I'm losing it all for you.

I've traded summer for winter, dreams for memories
All for a door to your home and a set of your keys.

I wish I could be certain of anything but doubt
There's your new trick in bed I didn't know about.

Maybe you learned it on the anonynet
All I'm feeling is almost regret.

I do what I can and I say I still love you
Over and over, as if words make it true.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Short Poem

Destiny or duty,
the end of one
begetting the other.

We are here to do only
what we can, what we wish
(the difference as slight
as good and evil, as
hate and yearning);

rarer than the gift is one
who can recognize others' gifts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


talk to the person whose
job is to make it clear, whose
way is the sun's Way
hiding from the moon billowing

and we cling to each other
the time before dreams ifwhen
the forgetting passes us

by the river clothing hangs to dry
we fish & catch nothing, bait
resting in water's edge

(This is not not-zen zen, just
being lazy)

He says the fish
belongs to the moon, blind as.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ah, language

According to the Lotus Wordpro Canadian spellchecker 'coloration' is a word, yet 'colouration' is not :p

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the naming of characters

Character names tend to come to me from no discernible place. In some cases, they have meaning (for example, I did one novel (well, half-done it at present) where African names were used for everything, from people to nations, and most of the names told you something about the character (Ayo means joy, which tells someone how he views the world). This is the only time I did something like that, and it was fun. It also got me thinking about the actual process, and what process other people use.

For the current novel (Gloaming) I did my usual method of making up the character in my head and going through bits of plot, fragments of dialog and such until a name came to me that just 'fit'. For example: the one MC came into my head as Katie, and fairly feisty at that. Which seemed all well and good, so I decided I really should know her last name, even if it never comes up in the novel. I picked the last name of some neighbours we had, for something that sounds a little off-normal (Holmes). Then, something about the name Katie Holmes bugged me, and I googled it.

So now her last name must change, unless a YA horror is derailed by people thinking about Xenu. The other MC, however, I ended up going with Mike Smith for, due to how common the names are -- as if his parents tried to ensure he'd be average. The only problem was michael just didn't fit, but somehow Kevin did. Then I googled Kevin Smith, and thereafter banged my head into the desk. So I went with Jaylen (a randomly found name via a generator) but it's not working, so it's back to Kevin. And I'm changing their last names.

I just found it funny that, entirely by accident, I managed to inadvertently name two characters after celebrities. It luckily didn't hold true with the third MC,Duncan Hoyle, whose name came from Duncan popping into my head as nice and solid and Hoyle referring, obliquely, to card games and chance. Which means I still end up using names that provide hints, even when I don't plan to...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Cellar's Voice, Without Rainbows

I do not know how long the human body can live without food or water. All I know is I cannot undo the chains holding me to the wall and I am very tired. And dying.
        I don’t want to die, but I have no strength left to prevent it, nothing left to call. There is a hole inside me where there was hunger, gnawing emptiness and wind that doesn’t blow in this world. Is this death for other people? I do not know. I only know that I am a magician, and we do not die as others die. I know that and this darkness and the fear of those who refuse to call me kin. Everything else changes but the fear remains. Even if I told them it was I who ended -- but it does not matter.
        I am dying, and I have few illusions left the hunger is not stripping away. I still believe they love me, and hope for the future, but I think one can’t live without those illusions; until I die they, at least, will remain. There is a strange kind of peace, if not strength, in having nothing left. They are killing me with their silence, with no food and water, leaving me to starve to death. Perhaps this will reduce the curse a magician makes when they die.
        That wouldn’t be a bad thing; I’d rather not curse anyone when I die. Not even those who deserve it; the world has enough curses without me adding more, and far to much hate as things stand. Or perhaps that is only the darkness speaking, giving its own voice to my pain.
        It is not their hate that hurts, but the places it reaches inside me that hurt. I hate myself because they hate me. I don’t want to, but it’s hard to not internalize hate, when you’re hated like that. For being a magician, for having magic, for being a legacy of those who destroyed the world so long ago.
        And so: fear, hate. I stare into their hearts -- I can do this without power; it’s a trick -- and all I see is their hatred. I want to ask what it does to them, what chaining me destroys in them, but I never have. It would only hurt, especially if it is true. And now I never will.
        But there is enough, in my wishing for another life, to press my thoughts into earth and stone. To make the ground remember what men will forget. In another age some magician will hear my voice, know these words. Perhaps a better one, but from here I cannot see it.

They have not let me out of the room in over a year. The last time was because I wanted to see a rainbow, having never had before. I undid chains and the door and walked upstairs, and they screamed and forced me back down. I said I knew no guests were there, but it didn’t matter. Nothing I could have said would, and doing would only make it worse.
        It was a very beautiful rainbow, though, and I kept it inside me for months until someone asked for it. She’d never seen one, and I’d never had someone speak in my head, magic to magic, wishing to wishing. She’d heard a lot of stories, so I won’t give her name. She told me magicians can make the dead answer for crimes, so I think - I think she never even told me her real name. Not even for the rainbow.
        She took it, though, when I offered it, and she did things. Terrible things, with the sliver of hope it gave her, to give more to her magic than hate.
        They’d removed her eyes, so she couldn’t look at them. And done it again, when they grew back. They did that every single year, and I had no response to that. But I knew hate wasn’t enough, for magic. You needed hope, and the other intangibles of the world. She said that, if we had love, we would have changed the world. Enough of us, enough love -- but we are too few, and too far apart, and she leapt into the darkness between thoughts, between wishes, between people. Years, and she only found me.
        And all I did was get her killed.

I lie. Even magicians lie. Maybe especially -- we’re lied to do often that the truth has no value. Now I’m just being silly-stupid. But everything is getting slower, fuzzy at the edges. And the hunger has come back, and the magic can’t make it go away.
        All things have limits, even magic. Even wishes.
        She wanted to make them pay, though I didn’t see the point. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, since it wouldn’t matter. Maybe that’s why I have nothing left, because I have nothing to try for. She thought so; she’d reached me, not I her. I was younger, and I should have been the one to do it. But I wasn’t driven by hate, and there was nothing else to drive me.
        The drought was only local; no one else will care, it will only be a brief season, not even a footnote in history. But she made it, with her hate, with her anger, to try and take them with her when she died. Maybe she was stronger than I was, to hate them on their own terms. I don’t know. I just know I can’t do what she did; when I see people, I know them. And you can’t hate something once you understand it, even if they never understand you.
        She never saw; I don’t know what her trick was, if she had one. Maybe she lost it with her eyes. I can’t say. I stopped her, though. For the rainbow. Because there hadn’t been any, since her drought, and I wanted to see more before I died. She had anger and hate, and I had nothing. The nothing won.
        I don’t know what that says about her or about me. I just know it took too much, and I am dying now and the drought began to fix itself because she is dead. And people found out about her, from the screaming. My family doesn’t want anyone to know I exist, so I die a slow death I cannot escape from.
        I wish I had magic enough to make it didn’t matter. I wish I couldn’t understand why they fear us. I wish I could hate them. I - I wish the magic hadn’t taken that away from me with everything else. Why can I hate myself and not them? How does that ... how does it .... work?

The wind is deeper, the darkness inside me greater now. Someone is coming down the stairs, and I can smell food. I can smell food. Torment or blessing, it doesn’t matter. I have gone where tears cannot reach, beyond the places where words have meaning. I am only a voice, putting word into stone, making a final wishing real.
        Only this.

And if you, hearing this, can somehow show me a rainbow
        just one
        I might learn happiness

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A few poems

We have names

We have names for the masks
Not for what lies under

We only have words for
things we have words for

Every time I dream of you
I forget a few more

A name is

A name is a blow, wound never recovered from;
Who is so full as to be empty?

To whom is it worthy to empty our identity?
One must love without becoming.

His ego, so fragile! forced to steal her name
Who does she not ask for his?

Her Body

They dressed her up as a bride while
I watched, scratching down notes trying
to appear professional, not interested.

I am told it is done to virgins, though
not how one determines that they are
("She was unmarried," I am told, simple,
as if that were answer enough).

Blood is not removed from martyrs here.
burying them with fashion accessories intact
(my definition brings no smiles)

I want to say the bride should be given red,
bloodied: -- Aren't all virgins martyrs? I half-joke.
I'm told only that wives were left that way, dying
for their sins, loving their straying husbands.

Dying for her sins, I am told, undertaker's voice
flint and ebony. I tread still waters: Aids? as if
death needs helpers. A hand waves to compass
the cool room, this silent world.

"This is the disease." I want to say: The world?
but I just take notes, pen stuttering across the page
a lump in my throat, ice in my soul.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Presentation, circa 2040

"Humans don't do the operations. It's not that they -- sorry, we -- can't. We can, even if machines are more accurate. History proves that. And machines have never quite matched human intuition when it comes to odd problems, though that is lightly debated. Presentation, please."

An imagine flickers into existence in front of their eyes, a young boy is sitting in a chair, head shaved, strapped into the table while wired run into his head and IV feeds into his body.

He is smiling.

"Now, as you can see, the subject is approximately seven years old. There's no real reason for them to be this old, but we prefer them over three so that they don't into odd problems with bones later on that could call for surgery and possible downtime. Next."

A robot moves into the screen, with needles, saws and other instruments coming out of its torso as it examines the subject.

"While some will -- and do, make no doubt about that! -- object to the Procedure, the graphs included at the end of this presentation show the decreased cost in running the World go down by at least 30%, possibly as high as 40%. The reality is that our clients pay for complete immersion. It's what their parents wanted for them, and what they decide to want for themselves."

The board members nod and smile, running figures on their own programs. They look pleased.

"The reality of the world is that the System is almost entirely automated now. It is entirely possible for aliens to invade, land, destroy our entire infrastructure and the World to remain. We've run scenarios, for those who care to look. If it doesn't we'll all have died and it won't really matter then, will it? Next."

The robot moves forward, inserting needles and bringing down saws.

"The World is whatever the clients wish it to be. Almost none of them make a utopia, almost all have education implanted into their brains without having to learn it and, in general, their lives are considered as rewarding and fulfilling as ours, even if they do spend them entirely in a virtual world. For those who think we do not, there are interesting studies being done on how the universe is one giant holographic projection and the like in any event. All of which means: we have no leg to stand on."

The images changes on the cue word. The robot removes the boy's legs, sealing the wound, and prepared to take him to a smaller, modified creche.

"Gallows humour aside, ladies and gentlemen and others, they have no need of extraneous limbs. Arms remain useful, in case of unforeseen events and the need to manipulate various equipment, but legs are entirely redundant and useless."

The boy is installed gently into the creche by the robot, tubes moved and placed into it as the lid closes.

"Now, if you will switch screens to F, I've prepared an examine of the modified nutrient bath and the savings in effort and energy down the line from producers and distributors to our end. There is no practical need to put energy and nutrients into limbs that do nothing at all, and there are various legal precedents that shore up any case such a thing is needed."

"I do not believe it will be."

He never stopped smiling.

Neither did the board members.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Last Spell

She hadn’t seen an omen in over a decade. Nor even anything vaguely omen-shaped (Tea leaves did not count; one could read anything from them. Many did.). But her arthritis was not as bad, this morning as others, and Edwina had not switched any herbs. Further, the old instincts coming back, like falling off a horse all over again, the weather had an unseasonable cold bite to it, and there were more beggars on the streets than normal, when she went to the market.
         She still did that, omens be cursed! Routines could shatter them, or make them true. Edwina did not know which was true, or if either was. But it was comforting to see the same old shops, the same familiar faces two hours before noon, and she bought more than she usually did, and some food for travel out of a habit older than the pain in her lower back.
         The market was bright and alive, but beyond the urchins she spotted more hungry faces, heard the desperation under merchants casual greetings, saw the way people paused to count up coin before paying, the way the few guards in the market kept their hands too close to the blade. Oh, then Edwina knew what was coming. She bought a few other things, lastly, before going home, and cleaned up the small single room flat she considered home, above the shop of a spice merchant who should have charged for the aromas she got for free.
         It didn’t take long, but her body was old and it too longer than she lived before she began to make supper. She went down for some spices, before she was done, to mask the extra ingredients, and was unsurprised at the single knock on the door when the afternoon faded into twilight.
         Edwina stood and walked over to the door, leaving her cane by the chair. It had no power, and she did not want to seem weak. “Welcome,” she said, opening the door.
         The young man standing on the other side of it was tall and pretty, with eyes as cold and empty as the barren seas. He had a sword on either side, no doubt other blades hidden, and his hair was short, chopped ruthlessly above the far too pretty face below it.
         “I am Edwina,” she said, offering up no bow or curtsey.
         “Kel,” he said, voice low and rough. His gaze flicked about the apartment, even hunting into shadows “You expected me.”
         “Or someone like you. Omens, you know. No dead birds,” she added, and he gave her a thin wintry smile but just followed her inside without a word, closing the door. He didn’t lock it; Edwina didn’t ask him to.
         “Food?” he said, surprised, voice almost rising to its normal tone.
         She pretended not to notice, nor the faint blush that followed. “It is poisoned,” she said, offering him a bowl. “Just in case.”
         “Ahhh.” He let the breath out slowly, taking one. “All the dishes?”
         “Not quite.” She poured them both wine, from her meagre stock. “Few seek out a mage in this age. There are few of us left.”
         “I know. But there is something I wish for.”
         “Hmmm.” She drank her wine, noting that he drank first. Courage, or something else? His eyes gave away nothing. “Across the ocean, this would not be done.” He waited with the patience of death, respecting her magic. Or perhaps only age.
         “Warriors marry, in fair Calderon by the sea. It is law, there. To marry, to have children. To fight for more than lords and kings, gods and wizards. I would wish more did that here.”
         “Calderon has fallen to such things many times, has lords who build castles they need to design to defend against their own hired mercenaries. That is not true here,” Kel said mildly. “We do not betray our lords. Not for love nor other things.”
         “A pesky thing that gets in the way of duties and obligations. Yes, yes. I know all the reasons. You should know they don’t matter, who walk and do skilful murder and are nothing else beyond that.”
         “But there is something beyond that.”
         She said nothing in turn, starting on the salad. He followed suit, and broke first.
         “I have married to death, to the battlefield, to the fatalclash of blades.”
         Edwina nodded slowly. “I felt as much.”
         “I have fought battles that would be legend, were their any bards left to speak of them. I have killed mages. Even wizards.” He smiled strangely. “With help, but even so. Two years ago I met my best friend from childhood. We did what was duties sake, and I killed him. He used to be better, but he hesitated when I did not.”
         “It has not been the same since.”
         “It has not. I find I want another path, but I cannot find one. Not alone. And so I have sought a mage, though few are left in our land.”
         “And how many did you have to kill, to find me here?”
         “Only three.” His smile was crooked now, and she was relieved the irony had not escaped him. It was possible to go so far even magic could not save someone. If they did not wish it, there was no magic that could at all.
         “I do not know how many spells I have left in me,” she said. “I am old now, Kel of Orshkar Reach. A mage is not a wizard, to kill others and extend their own life, extend their own magic. We pay with our own years. Surely a wizard could help you more than I.”
         “Wizards -- seek different things, and they would demand prices that would make this pointless.” He began eating the bread. “Many deaths, and always they would hold their power over me.”
         “When did you first kill?” she asked.
         “I was seven. Over this face, and a fool’s jokes.”
         “You could arrange for scarring,” she said mildly, eating the rice.
         He ate some, then looked up. “I tried; it made no difference.”
         “And yet you had the scars healed, hmm?” He said nothing, not returning her gentle smile, and Edwina sighed and stood up slowly. “I will cast a spell for you, then, before I did.”
         “You remind me of my daughter. I had one, before the magic woke inside me, and now -- well, I doubt she’d recognize me. In five years, I became close to this, and have walked the world since. Her daughter might be alive, but I have not looked in on them.” She smiled into his cold, cold face. “You should know better than to ask questions to which you do not want to know the answer.”
         “I see.”
         “What do you seek with a new life?” she asked as they finished the meal, before the silence became too brittle.
         “A wife. Children, perhaps. A place in the world where I do not have to kill a friend again.”
         She nodded slowly and leaned back into her chair as he reached for the wine. His hand shook, slightly, and he drew a knife from somewhere, swifter than thought and it flew through the air straight and almost, oh! almost true.
         “You should be honoured,” Edwina said as the second blade fell from his fingers and Kel fell over. “Even for one such as yourself, who has made death his bride, it took longer to work than it should have.”
         She stood slowly, trembling a little, ignoring the blade and pain as she had ignored all other pains in over two centuries of being old. “Almost too long. You make wake and remember this, you may not: I do not know. But one cannot be reborn without having died. The poison is only a short death. Your blade a - true one.
         “ Mages die slowly, unless by our own spells. And so few do, because of what we’d return as. Because of what wizards can do to our bodies and spirits. It does not matter: you gave me my death, warrior, and I owe you magic.”
         Edwina reached down slowly, the made moving that little moment it needed, and felt her life’s blood begin to flow from the wound. It was a simple spell, a minor wish only, and she threw the rest of her magic out into the world, to cure the aches and pains of those she’d known in the market a little, because there was nothing to hard now, and no reason to keep it inside.
         Much of the magic had died, during her long time of wandering and wishing to do things other than die. But there was enough for those little things, and she sank down beside the warrior, and wondered as the poison killed her own pain and she drifted into sleep, just what he would think of his beard when he awoke.
         Edwina truly hoped he would not cut it off, but she had put measures into the spell to prevent that.
         “No excuses,” she whispered, or thought she did. “No more, for killing and drawing of blades. That is my gift to you, Kel. Wear it well.”
         And then there was just blessed darkness.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Even lust can be subtle

The wind    only a breeze
a scent of poplars long ago

I remembered a memory
too vivid it could not be real
      in it you sill bit your fingers
      to the quick

Each time I whisper your name
I pretend you listen   hear   know

I wish a little thing so small
hoping it small enough to come true
that you were not so far below
      the bare earth between us
      not so very hard

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Last Laugh

Nothing we do ends well. It’s not a lie, but sometimes it’s close enough to the irony that seems to run the universe that the differences aren’t all that apparent. Like most things, it holds together if we don’t put it under too harsh a light.
          This isn’t a diary. I expect it to be found after I die. Nor is it a confession, since there’s always things we leave out of that. There are things about me I’d be happier if even God didn’t know. I imagine it’s the same for whoever reads this.
          I don’t know what is going happen, not yet. There might not even be a body left. I can feel the trap, the future, the story, all closing around me with a chill finality. Maybe it’s a mother, or a police officer; I don’t know which. Someone is going to come after me, like in the movies. I think they’ll want explanations, to know why I did it, what kind of monster I am.
          I have no idea what to tell them.
I blame Stephen King. Him and ‘It’. I always wanted to be a clown, to make people laugh. Not the kind of humour that’s born from sorrow, but the kind that is taking joy, sharing it on, making the world a better place. If you can make people laugh and not hurt someone in doing so, you’ve done something beautiful.
          It’s all I ever wanted. But somewhere along the way it just fell apart. The kids were always scared of me. No matter what I did, or the jokes I said, they were always afraid. Sometimes they even hated me. Understand: I didn’t learn how to be a clown, didn’t become one, as a means of strength. Too many people use humour as a weapon, a defence -- I just wanted to use it for its own sake, without the meanness of stand-up comics, without the bile of tv comedians.
          I guess it just wasn’t possible. But it was my dream. I started seeing a psychiatrist a few months ago, because I was getting angry with the kids, for crying, or laughing at me in a way that was all mean and hurting themselves. He said that if my dreams had been true, they would never have been dreams at all. I think he’s just angry that he never got a tv show like Dr. Phil.
          Becomes sometimes dreams do come true. The problem is trying to tell dreams from nightmares, at that point. I tried everything, to keep the dream pure and bright, but it never mattered. I tried religion, modern religion (my shrink), new age psychobabble -- none of it helped. Children don’t lie like adults do, and in their eyes there was a harshness adults hide, a light judging clowns and humour and laughter.
          They couldn’t see it for what I could. I’m not sure anyone can. Even children have lost that kind of wonder.

I could have done something else, been anything else, but I’d put too much of myself into being a clown. Too much of my identity, of my longings, of the who and how and why and what of me was in being a clown, and I didn’t have any other me to be.
          It would have helped, I think, if I’d ever actually got around to going past first base with Maria.
The first child looked like her. And she laughed, and made jokes. But the party was at her place, and it was horribly easy to get back, to enter, and take her home. I never called it a ‘fun house’. The media did that. It’s a damn trailer, double-wide. There’s nothing ‘fun’ in trailer parks. The only mythologizing done there is the idea that no one is brewing meth.
          It made it easier to hide them, to hide the monster growing under my skin. I even got more work, by scaring the children, letting them see under into the new me, the one they wanted. They’d all seen horror movies, all seen ‘It’: to them it was just acting, just another kind of joke. To them I was just a clown, playing up the darker parts of the archetype.
          Well. No. They never thought it like that. No one really does, I think. But if you pretend to be something, you become what you pretend if you do it long enough. The darkness grew, though I was never dumb enough to dare give it a name. Or pretend it was real: I tried not to give it power, but --
          but you can’t be laughed at, like I was. Hated, like that, by those I had tried to help. You can’t have all that, and not internalize some of it. The darkness grew, and there were always more children who reminded me of Maria. Or other people. Or myself. Eventually, it just didn’t matter. There was a lesson, and they needed to to learn it, that the real monsters are human. Gloriously, terribly, human.
          And that under the mask, I was just like them. And they were all just like me.

But nothing lasts forever. People make patterns, find out clues, follow hunches. For a while, it was as if the universe was on my side: nothing I did went wrong. I don’t know who is after me, but someone is. There’s always a hero, come to destroy the monster. And I am one, now. I stopped lying about that, and things began going wrong.
          Maybe I wanted to fail. Maybe I have to fail.
          Maybe it’s because, no matter how hard I try now, I can’t bring up the kind of humour I used to have, the kind without pain, or hate, or rage, or fear. There’s nothing noble to me now, only a darkness I keep on feeding, and I’m trying to save the children from it now. I am being. And becoming.
          I hope the darkness can die. Every time I look in the mirror, I don’t see any shadows on me. It’s gone deep, and something is growing in my soul. These aren’t the words, but I don’t have words. Judgement is coming. I hope someone stops me.

There is crying, from the spare bedroom. I could make my nose red again, with her blood, before judgement comes. I can hear sirens. I can feel thunder, even though there is no storm.
          The girl is crying, and she reminds me more of Maria than Maria did.
          I just want this to end.
          And I hope they hurry, before she stops crying. Before my nose needs to be red again. Before I smile, and tell her jokes, and laugh.
          It is getting to hard to think, to write. Whoever comes, save me. From the Clown, please save me.