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.