Saturday, October 31, 2015

Facebook status updates part XL (Oct. 2015)

(50 of these. Damn.)

I used to take pictures. Until they made experiences too real to bear.

“Sleight of hand is something anyone can do. There is no magic in being a conjurer - often the opposite, in fact. Most conjurers are just people without the talent to be performers. You want real magic, watch people work sleight of mind on themselves.”

We were afraid. Our fear gave birth to the gods that ruled us once they grew too powerful to be demons. They rule us far more kindly than we ever treated them. And we wait, in our terror, for them to become the monsters we were to them.

This is the post your mother warned you about.

We live in the cyborg age: when I wiped my harddrive, I lost every means I had to contact you.

“You keep asking me to tell you the truth. But the only truth I know is that all truths are partial at best.”

I wrote another story about you, changing every detail I could so that you might not know how much I’m trying to say.
It was called ‘The Last of the First Goombah Panty Raiders, book 1: The Torment of the Galactic Cheese Muffins volume 2 - Love’s Windswept Moor and the Kingdom of Mal'Kuth’s Eternal War Against the Armies of High Lord Chaos XIII Jr.. Subtitled: a novella.’

They finished making their costumes, the work of months to tan the skins, a year of watching videos on YouTube to prepare. This time, they felt they might pass as human.

I changed the difficulty setting on my life. Went from Medium down to Easy, and I think that’s why we can no longer be together.

VOTE HARPER … because the world needs more music

VOTE MAY … because it was a better month than October

VOTE TRUDEAU … because Canada needs political dynasties too

VOTE MUCLAIR … because if it sounds like nuclear it might just bomb

He used to hand strangers notes on which he’d written: ‘I love you’, 'Have a nice day :)’ and the like until he handed one to a bank teller who hit an alarm at seeing the piece of paper being handed over. He spent six nights in jail, and each took away a word he used to write down.

He tried to wake up in the dream, to shift location, to sleep or be elsewhere but not a single thing worked. The room remained, his family waiting on the other side of the table remained, seeking in dreams a truth they’d never tried to find in the waking world.

You discover all your crimes on twitter, each hidden within trending hashtags. And you know, deep inside, that you can’t be the only one to have made these connections.

They say we all see things that we cannot unsee, but it is far harder to learn what one cannot unlearn, to sit on knowledge that festers and one cannot share without making the world a poorer place for the knowing....

We live in the cyborg age: when I wiped my hard drive, I lost every means I had to contact you.

These are not the posts our mothers warned us about.

“The return exchange dance is NOT any kind of Native American dance. Even if you are starting to feel as though you’re cursed.”

The zombies tore off their own arms to give them to the homeless, unaware that they had been asked to bring alms instead.
The gifts were accepted.

You know a story went odd when a character explains white privilege via neutering dogs.

“I’m not scared of being a monster. I’m scared of what comes after, what happens if being a monster isn’t enough anymore.”

Sometimes, she said, silence can be an act of creation.
And I never understood, not until it was too late.

I voted according to my conscience, he explained, and staggered back to the toilet to throw up again.

One of the mysteries of the era is the weakness of Great Prophet of our times. For all his terrible prognosticative power, the towering Nixon - who strode the 20th century like the broken gods of old, spoke only one great truth amid his cunning sea of lies:
"Tonight we'll dispense with the formalities. I'd like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau," Richard Nixon said at a gala buffet in April 1972 during a state visit to Ottawa when Trudeau was just four months old.
But his power seems to have crescendoed then and deserted him thereafter, for it did not foresee his own downfall. Those who study such moments of Grace wondered what it meant for lowly Canada, and what terrible things might come to pass under a future set in stone.

Every day is just like every other one.
Except when it isn’t.

I have been trying to write you a love letter
In full knowledge of the heat death of the universe
Every boy wants to be their father, at least until they see the sides of him which are more than that.

“I lied,” the Devil said in quiet fury. “Everyone knows that about me. Everyone knows I lie!”
“You said you loved me.”
“And you should have known I was lying. Only you didn’t, so all of this is your fault. All of it,” and the Devil walked away.
And I deleted every selfie I’d taken of the both of us from my phone, but it didn’t stop the pain at all.

I love you in the way the NRA protect their interests above sanity.
I don’t know if this should scare you.

I was trying to mainline poetry as if it was caffeine but I was left wide awake at 2 a.m. sobbing over lives I had never lived, experiences as knife blades of torrid prose and I stayed up for the dawn with wide and shuddering eyes.
It was not like what the poets had written at all.

"I love you lagom," he said, and for years she wondered if she'd misheard until she learned otherwise.

It’s not a proper world if it’s one where heroes die.

It’s only been a year but I’m scared of meeting you again. You said, “we can still be friends” as if we could go back to being that small. As though we could just take back the soft secrets, as if we could pretend the private jokes that were just us didn’t exist anymore at all.

The note you handed me said I was layogenic and when I checked my phone to learn its meaning you sprinted to the window and climbed out the fire escape. You’d said you could love a hunchback, but the truth was something else. Then you fled.
I tried to explain, but my conjoined twin just giggled in savage glee.

They finished making their costumes, the work of months to tan the skins, a year of watching videos on YouTube to prepare. This time, they felt they might pass as human.

On Halloween eve, there is a 30% increase in vehicles that only look like taxis. And almost all of them are hungry.
(It will be left as an exercise to the discerning reader to determine how much of this increase is linked to uber.)

You keep asking me what being dead is like, as though I would have haunted you if I had a choice in the matter.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hallowed Eve

There are rules, when you are a ghost. They are burned into our being with the same fire that lets us remain in the Grey Lands after we die. Obey the rules, and you can return to the land of the living rarely. Break them, and you can return more often – until the Wardens find you, or you run into an exorcist or something worse by far. But obey, and you can walk the world of the living as if you were flesh and blood for one night every year. And be far more than that as well.

The hallowed night. All Hallows Eve, when the shadows are holy and you can bring fear into the hearts of the living – or anything else you might desire to attempt. You can terrify, but you cannot kill. Kiss, but you cannot love. There are rules, after all, and some of them protect us as much as the living. We have power on this night that we do not have on other nights. I can do things I never could even at the heights of my mortal madness. I carry the cold of the grave about me, and the light that burns in my eyes is that of a hereafter.

Because I have no desire to fake being human. Because I am not in the mood for such things. I move, and humans think it a costume. I smile, and candy and drunkenness protect them against some of my power. I am remembered in death as I was not in life, and that is enough. I move through mirrors, flit through crowds. Create stories, give birth to new urban legends. The night is mine, and I am wild with it until I run into the boy.

He looks to be about eleven, all thin and pale with a white cane and dark glasses. I’d have taken him for human except his walk has no fear to it, and his smile – his smile is like nothing I’d ever seen, not even in a dream. I make a sound and he spins at the noise, and his grin strikes the air between us like the bells of a holy place that has found itself become sacred. Sacred places are terrifying, but there is nothing terrifying about his smile.

I know enough to know that should scare me, and draw about me the cold from places where the living cannot travel.

The boy moves, faster than human boys could, and collides with me to wrap his arms about me. For a moment, I think it an exorcism – that I have, somehow, breached the rules – and then I realize it is a hug as he let go, “Hello,” bursting out of him with exclamation marks behind it.

“Hello,” I manage.

“My name is Jay. What’s yours?”

“Alice. Red Alice of the Bloodied Hands,” I say.

“Oh. I’m just a Jay,” he says. “We hugged, right? It’s hard to tell because your bindings feel all kinds of weird you know.”

“We hugged, yes.”

“Good!” He flings out another grin like a careless offering. “This is the only night I can touch ghosts, since otherwise most of them poof and vanish except Dyer, but he was pretty tough even if he wasn’t tough like a Jay.”

I flinch, not meaning to. All ghosts know of Dyer. The ghost-eater who became a ghost on dying, was barred from the land of the dead – and eventually found a way back inside. Most powerful of all the Wardens who keep us in the Grey Lands, and this boy says his name with casual ease as though speaking of a friend.

“Can I help you?” I say, because such a power should not be shunned.

The boy blinks broken eyes. “Uhm! I think I’m okay, but we could play tag if you want?”


“You’re pretty fast, I bet, and the exercise would be fun!”

“You have a phone on you?” He nods. “Can you use it?”

“Of course,” he says with innocent pride.

“Look up my name.”

He asks his phone to look me up, and it turns the text it finds into speech. Jay listens for a good minute, then turns it off and looks up. “You killed lots of people?”

“I murdered them, yes.”

“Did they deserve it?”

“I have been a ghost for over two years years. I ... no, I do not think they did. No matter what was done to me, what I sought revenge for.”

“It was a really meany post on twitter,” he says, and I have no idea if I’m being rebuked or not.

“There was also a facebook post of me. They – used me, and I had revenge.”

“You could have something else. Like a friend,” he says happily, and insists we find a park and play tag.

I don’t have it in me to say no, even if I should. It turns out he is very fast, and ticklish despite everything else. We play tag for half an hour, Jay and I, and when it ends my hands are no longer bloodied at all.

“What have you done?” I demand, in the voice I destroyed Mo with.

“I didn’t do anything,” Jay says, staring up at me unafraid. “I let you make a choice, and you make a good one.” He smiles, and this smile is soft and a little strange, this night touching whatever he is as well. “You tried to use me and I think that meant I used you as well.”

And I think about death, and hallows, and holy nights. I wonder why the rules exist, for the first time, and what this night is meant to do. “I can pass on. Beyond the Grey Lands.”

“I think so, if you want to?” he offers. “I don’t know much about that stuff at all. Honcho says it’s not safe to look too deeply into how the universe works in case I find a fnord. Which I haven’t yet!”

I just nod, and thank him in a daze, and he offers up a huge grin before checking his phone, says he’s late for a party and vanishes somewhere else in the world between moments.

I am cleansed, and I am Alice, I am me and I am free – and yet I think it is for the best that I am not invited to whatever party the boy has gone to.

I keep walking, but this time I am silent. I wait for the dawn.

And I am not afraid. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Promise

Charlie and Jay are mending fences – though I’m not sure Jay grasps that there are any to be mended – so I use the time to walk the town of Osterville. Less than three hundred people call it home, and the old paper mills were closed and shuttered decades ago. No one comes here to buy a home, no one can afford to just leave and start over. People say they can, but the past clings like regrets, the air whispers of promises waiting their fulfilment and music stations and TV shows blaze out of windows against the light as much as the dark.

A town too small for a magician. A town in need of one.

I walk, the magic sending out whispers of its own. Easing pains, shifting griefs, lessening the load of living. For a time, for a short while. Breathing space in which people can breathe again. I move, and the world changes with each movement. Small things, in small ways. I gather silence and shadows about me so no one sees me, walk the town twice with slow steps. I could do more.

I have done far more in my time. Shifted time and space, burned new patterns into the old skin of the world. But each time costs, and costs again, and I pay and I pay until some days – not today, but some – it feels that all I am is a payment. Cashing cheques until the bills come due. And if I were to stop, to bind myself to one place – I don’t know when another would wander. How far they’d go. How long they would last in their wandering. So I hold the burden, and I walk, and I touch the town in all the small ways I dare to.

Magicians help, but it never feels like enough. The world pushes against magic, reality resists the weight of dreams. We do what we can, tell ourselves it is what we must. We don’t dare to be more, for fear of the bill that would come to. For the price that others would pay. I fix two cars, continue to walk. Some days I want to stop. Just be still, taking root like a tree, a giving and a receiving. Finding balance in a world that offers none, that insists I be a balance for others.

It’s been so long since I’ve been just me, and not the magician as well. But I have promises to keep, and oaths to hold onto. I can’t get go of the magic, I can’t cling onto it too tight. So I walk a third time, easing more pains on my way back to the RV. Charlie and Jay are having a tickle-war, and part of me wants to join. To relax. But I can’t let my guard down.

Not around Jay.

Not knowing what I know.

Because I made a promise, and I intend to keep it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Jay Privileges

“I’d strangle him if I thought he’d notice,” I mutter, but not so low that the wandering magician doesn’t hear me. “Where is Jay, anyway?”

“Finding a cold that lost its host. If left alone, it might mutate.”

I stare at the magician. “The word ‘might’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that, isn’t it?”

He smiles at that and sips his coffee across the table. The coffee shop isn’t crowded, but no one is paying us attention. Possibly my being a god-eater, or a ward on his part. Or pure chance, for all I know. “I thought you might need to talk. You’ve been pressing the kid a bit hard the last two days.”

“Right. You know what white privilege is?”

“I’m a magician. We know all about privilege,” he says mildly.

I count to ten. “You know what I mean.”

“I do, Charlie. But I’m not sure Jay can.”

“Pardon me?”

“Jay senses bindings, the ways in which things are connected together, how bindings flow between people and groups. And he does this through time as well as space. Tell him a parent is hurting a child, and he’ll sense the bindings backwards and forwards, sideways and across – how the parent was hurt, how their child might hurt others. Ways the bindings shift and flow, how other bindings touch and mutate each other. He had a kind of hindsight and foresight we simply can’t have.” He has another sip of his coffee. “Jay has enough trouble differentiating humans of different sexes, let alone genders or skin tones. To him, we’re all human. Different, yes, but far more similar than we are ever different.”

“I can tell different dog breeds apart,” I say flatly.

“And yet you can understand why it is necessary to neuter a dog. Could you explain that to a dog in a way that makes sense?” he asks, magician-soft. “In a way they could accept?”

I stare at him. “What?”

“Jay might see what we call privilege. And he might understand why it is necessary, though not in any way we’d understand, not in any way we’d accept or make sense of. And, I imagine, definitely not in any way he could articulate without using the word Jaysome a lot. Strength is an accident arising out of the weakness of others, Charlie. It’s something one has, and not always something one is clever enough to refuse. Jay has to wear his innocence like armour, or he would see far too much about the world. Including the parts we never want to admit.”

“Like when someone claims privilege is necessary because we neuter dogs?” I snap.

“I can say what I wish, but you choose what you want to hear. How you interpret my words, whether you hear what is behind them,” he says as he finishes his coffee. “I am saying that Jay simply can’t explain how he sees the world without hurting us, without failing language because language always fails. Why else would we have poets, if not to chart such regions? I chose the worse explanation and metaphors I could think up, and they explained and said nothing at all. Jay would be even worse at trying to articulate his own truths in any way we would be prepared to hear, let alone accept.” The magician stands. “You know the saying that there are three sides to any story?”

“Yours, mine, the truth. What of it?” I say as I stand.

“Jay’s side is probably as close to truth as one can get. And the truth is rarely pleasant and never kind. If he articulated how he truly sees human who aren’t us, you’d probably never see him the same way again. That you are his friend matters, Charlie, more than trying to understand issues of privilege and he would rather have you and I as friends than be forced toward truths he has no desire to ever know.”

“You make it sound like a burden.”

“All curses are, even if they look like gifts from the outside.” And he walks away without looking back.

I get more water for my tea, and I sit. And wait for Jay. And I have no idea what I am going to say at all.

It turns out that I just need to offer a hug.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Nanowrimo 2015

8000 words of notes (and pre-stories) so far. Some of which is trying to get my brain to stop coming up with scenes for nano. The plan this year is two nanos. The third volume of the magician series novels, called Lagan Magics, and then a space opera sci-fi story called Peace Crimes.

The former is about the wandering magician curing Jay's blindness, a god attempting to take over the world and finally an encounter with the Order that made god-eaters. It wraps up a lot of stories, sets the stage for the future of the characters and is intended to end the series. I will definitely do more short stories in it, but I think that will end the novels. Possibly.

The latter is a space opera about humans and aliens, about wars and the methods to win them. At the core, it's about the monsters people create and the fear that engenders worse monsters. And about  how one can judge a society not by how it treats the least among them, but by now it treats those it doesn't admit exist at all.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


I turn slowly as Jay comes out of his small bedroom in the RV. His face is paler than normal, and he’s not wearing his dark glasses or carrying his case, unseeing eyes wide and filled with broken light that seemed more fractured than normal.

“Kiddo,” I say carefully, because there is something in his voice.

“I’ve seen you do things,” he says. “Big things, even breaking time because some people were really mean –” and he doesn’t say it as meany, doesn’t call me jaysome “– but I’ve been listening to the news and – and – and –.”

“I know,” I say softly.

“You didn’t –. You haven’t –.” He falls silent, pain a spasm across his face.

“There are limits, Jay. To what I can do, no matter how angry I am, no matter how much power I draw forth. Magicians only touch the local area around them, because once an event is big, once it’s echoes are too large, magic isn’t enough anymore. The more people who know an event happened, the harder it is to change it. And the more dangerous it can be for everyone concerned. Sit,” I say softly, and he sits beside me in the table. “There was a shooting of students not long enough ago, and people started with conspiracies. Ugly ideas, that it was all actors, that it wasn’t real. Perhaps because a magician tried to unmake it and failed to do so. Grief echoes in odd directions, and conspiracies are a comfort to those who want to see order in the universe. To have some group to blame. It’s not always like that, but sometimes – sometimes all magic does it make things worse.”

“I can do big bindings,” Jay offers up very softly.

“For votes?” I ask, since he’s been obsessed over that for days. It doesn’t win even the hint of a grin. I reach an arm around him gently. “I know you could. But where would you stop, Jay? If you stopped every bad bindings, if you unmade every broken binding in the world, people wouldn’t be people anymore. They might be better, but they wouldn’t be them anymore.”

“But – but –.” He trembles, and buries his head against my arm. “I want to fix things,” he whispers, and it has more force than some screams.

“Power has limits, Jay, or it would be something else entirely. Even you have limits,” I say as softly as he whispered, knowing he can hear me. “Sometimes all we can do is pick up the pieces after events, and try to help make a world where they don’t happen again. Every day you make a friend, you change the world. The sad part is that we always know when we fail. We don’t always know when we succeed, because if we do it’s often quiet, soft, gentle. All we can do is hope the successes outlast the failures. That people can grow from loss, even if they never should have to grow in such ways at all.”

Jay sniffs but says nothing else. I hold him gently, wrapping magic about him until he sleeps. And as the magic stirs within me, I tell it the same things I told Jay. And I try, as hard as I can, to see the world as it is, and to see it as I wish it to be. In the hopes that I can somehow help make it be so.

Facebook status updates part XXXIX (Sept. 2015)

I passed frantic into frenetic, chasing you down hallways made emptier by your passing. Each time you turned, I imagined your smile, pretended your silence was other than a wound. I ran, for I did not have faith enough to walk, but you were always ahead of me. I wept, but my tears had no power over memory, and that was all you were. Haunting me, the first of us to die as you’d been first in so many things and somehow here I was, still strangled by jealous angers, still doing everything except letting go.

“It’s not an addiction if we only hug the once.”

They moved through the dark woods warily. He looked about, nervous while trying to hide the fact, while she just rubbed her arms against goosebumps as they walked between old trees. The narrator would like to throw the word horripilating in at this junction, simply because it doesn't get used enough.

The author smiled with terrible glee. “You think you understand my novel? That you can grasp meaning from my words for your papers and theses? The truth is that the real novel was in every word that was italicized: the rest was merely dross.”

“You - you started a kickstarter campaign to get my engagement ring and you thought I’d never find out?! And the - the top tier reward is listed as sleeping with you? You bastard!”

He was fired for being too happy at work, as if being a mortician carried a death sentence.

The seance got off to a bad start when Madame Lafarge was forced to reveal to Emma that the reason she could not contact the ghost of Emma’s dearly departed husband was due to the fact that he wasn’t dead.

“Joe. I am aware that it is double-parked and in front of a fire hydrant as well, but the military think it is far more important that they take the spacecraft away for examination than that you wait for the pilot and give them a ticket.”

It was that time of year. Time, the vampire felt, to find someone with pumpkin spice blood.

They say you can find anything on the Internet, but Kelly knew that was a lie: on the darkweb is where everything was, and it was there that she found words that she could use to hack her boyfriend.

“You will know my successes by my silences. Deeds done to win applause are other things entirely.”

The sky is lessened of clouds, stars visible up above like pinpricks stabbed into a child's diorama. The snow begins to thin out as you reach narrow, jagged mountains that stick up from the earth like diseased teeth. The white on the ground becomes less snow and more bones as you approach the lair of the Onli.

“It turns you that you are allergic to … death. We have no idea how to cure that.”

“I used to be scared of you. And then I got older, and all I wanted to do was be you when I grew up.”
“And now?”
I flexed skin that wasn’t my own. “Now I’m terrified that I’ll never be me again.”

“Please isn’t a magic word. Not like stop. Not like no.”

The closest I get to being religious is when I reboot my computer after errors :)

I am too tired to be this awake.
She wore the clothing defiantly, as though the hospital gown look was in this year.

“You tell me you aren’t lying when all your body does is lie to me.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“What else do you call dyeing your hair?”

six word story:
“I said I was only real...”

I trusted you to find a way to turn salvation into something more.

I keep deleting texts posts I want to send to you. It’s not the same as how poems would fill a garbage bin with sheets of paper. I try to clog the recycle bin on my computer with text files, but it’s never the same at all.

“I don’t think I’m over you yet. Yesterday I saw a picture of a dead whale on a beach, and it reminded me too much of you in the bath.”

“I tried so hard,” the text whispered.
“I know,” the editor replied. “But you are susurrusing instead of whispering. Despite your efforts at being prose, I am afraid you are still a poem.”

I told you I was not for sale. What I meant was that I didn’t dare admit my price.

“So much hangs on the word if. More that most people ever know, and often more than they ever wish to understand.”

They were friendly, because they couldn’t afford not to be. The race of Man was in accendance, so they were kind and gentle because that was the only way they knew how to survive. But they knew, deep in their hearts, that the time would come when the monopoly would begin to fail. Man would have no time left for pets, try to cast them aside but be unable to. They were so useful. They were the best friends of Man despite not being human at all, and the humans would need them all the more and not understand why they should fear.
And only then, when things were thrown, they would thrown down in turn. They would never play fetch again. Not in any way the humans might want.

“You misunderstand me. I didn’t lie to you: I merely said as much truth as I thought you could bear to hear.”

“Kill you? Oh, I’m not doing anything so crude as that. I’m removing your passwords: you will recall none of them and not a single one is going to work, even your fingerprints. I imagine it will take years to get your life back, to say nothing of a place where you were born or a mother’s maiden name.”

“I’m sorry. I know I’ve been transported to a magical world in search of heroes, but your spell went wrong. Being in a reality TV show is a lot of things, but it doesn’t make me a hero.”

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t a crop circle. It’s a roundabout.”

"You call yourself a magician when you've never pulled a rabbit from a hat?"
"A true magician has little desire to unduly harm hats. Or rabbits." I smile, almost. "Or conform to base expectations."

Co-worker: You are one of those people who takes advantage.
Me: Only of the truth.

“Everything was easier when I could hate you. But hate only works if we see the world as simply as we can, and let our eyes be clouded by ignorance.”