Remember The 80’s

synthwave-3941721_640

Let’s build a place
That’s perfect.
It has
Gated reverb,
Hair metal,
New wave.
No tech distracts
From our friends
Or fam.

Let’s build a place,
An idyll,
A dream,
Based on a past
That didn’t
Exist
Anywhere but
In our heads
And hearts.

Let’s build a place
Without the
Bad stuff.
Forget crises,
Ditch sadness,
Leave pain.
No AIDS, racism,
Trickle down,
Cold war.

Let’s build a place.
Remember
Goodness.
Recreate time
Untainted
And pure
An ordered time
With new wave,
Not hate.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 95

This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #109, idyll.  This look into the past was inspired by Chris Molanphy of Slate’s most recent Hit Parade podcast about Phil Collins and Genesis.  What could be more 80’s nostalgia?

20190525_Community Hands_Instructions

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 3 of 3)

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Whether it was the god’s fault or not, the weather became beastly cold and worked to freeze their hands and feet.  The truck driver had burst open some of her cargo and took out the goods destined for a big-box store, outfitting both of them well.  The god’s winter would have to try harder to freeze them.

Eventually they reached the top of the mountain, huddled against the wind and snow.  Even in the daylight, the thickness of the storm prevented them from seeing very far.

“Where’s the cavern?” the trucker asked.  She held onto the hitchhiker’s arm to make sure they didn’t get separated in the storm.

He held tight to her as well.  “I don’t know.  This could be a trick as far as we know.”

“How?” she asked.  “You saw it just like I did.  The vision.”

“Could be falsified.”  He fell to his knees and huddled.  “There’s got to be a way to call it.”

The trucker crouched beside him and put a hand to the top of the canvas rucksack.  She held his chin with the other hand.  “We have bait.”

“That’s too big a risk.”

“Is there another option?”

The hitchhiker gripped the straps of his sack in his gloved hands.  He looked to the sky and cried out, “I have it!  Show yourself, and I can work out a deal.  I’ll trade you the Apple if you will grant us our freedom!”

He put his hand to the clip and undid it, showing the contents of the bag to the sky.

The snow stopped falling in an instant, the sun shone from the lap of the god, and then –

BOOM

“You… You shot me?”

Thank goodness she’d checked my bag.  Thank goodness she’d stolen my magnum and hidden it in her coat pocket where the god didn’t look.  Thank goodness she’d eaten the Apple and had the free will to pull the trigger.

I shared his heart with the truck driver, and we both relished in his power.  The god no longer determined our fates, no longer directed our paths or altered our present.  The pesky narrator would have no power over me.

I lifted my hand, the power of the all-knowing, narrating god coursing through my veins, and returned my friends and family to their natural state: alive, well, and home.

She grasped my shoulder.  “Can we even go back?” she asked.  “We’re not as we were.”

I hugged her.  “What else can we do?”

“We can’t control people’s fates.  We can’t take away free will just like the god we killed.”  A tear went down her cheeks.   “Is this goodbye, then?” she asked.

I nodded my head.  “I’ll see you around.  Invite you to birthday parties, get trashed sometime when it’s a bit more convenient.”

“I’d like that.”  She patted me on the back, pulled me tight, and used her newly gained power to vanish somewhere else.  “By the way, my name is Evelyn.”

I ran up to where she had stood.  “And my name is-”

But she was gone, and I had a new goddess to chase.

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 2 of 3)

(Part 1) (Part 3)

The driver coughed a little bit.  “I tried it while you slept.”

The hitchhiker stirred from a quick nap, still tired in the middle of the night.  “Tried what?”

“The thing in your bag.  The thing your pagan god wants.”

“I… I suppose that was the safest thing for you to do, really.”  He clutched his bag tighter.  “You do realize that your fate is tied to mine now, right?”

She drove without speaking, her lip trembling as if she couldn’t say anything worthwhile.  “I realize your pagan god is watching.  I know why it wants that thing in your bag.”  She pressed the pedal harder, accelerating on the empty road.  “We passed through Denver about thirty minutes ago.  Do you know where you’re going?”

The hitchhiker squirmed in his seat.  “You don’t?”  He lifted a brow and clutched the bag closer.  “If you took a bite, you know what I’m doing.  You know where we’re going.”

“I know the road,” she said.  “I know where to park, where we have to get out and continue on foot.  But that’s it – that’s as far as my knowledge goes.”  She gulped.  “It seems I’m still a trucker, just hauling things more important than me.”

Her explanation settled him, allowed him to relax.  “You scared me for a minute.  I was afraid the god was using you.”  He wiped his eyes and laughed.  “Before I found it, I was what you’d call a damn dirty hippie.  Used to be a ski bum at some of the slopes around here, at least until I wore down the funds mom and pop gave me.  I only know where I’m going because I’ve climbed the peak before.”

“Then we’re suited for each other.  I’ll help you – you showed me freedom, after all.”  She cleared her throat.  “Why me, though?  Why share with me?”

He shrugged.  “Honestly, I would have shared with anyone if I’d thought they’d take me where I needed to go.  The god has left me with nothing.  Everyone I’ve ever known has had their history erased, gone as if they’d never existed.  I only have the one, too, so I had to be careful when I used it.  I think you were a good choice.”

“We’re going to kill your god.  I assume it knows?”

“It knows.  I can’t imagine it doesn’t.”  He grunted.  “The walk will take most of the day.  How long’s the drive?”

“An hour, hour and a half if we get unlucky.”

“The god will make sure of that.”

(Part 1) (Part 3)

Godkiller in a Bag (Part 1 of 3)

(Part 2) (Part 3)

He awoke because his body grew chilled.  An eyelid fluttered open, and his breath condensed in the winter air.  The Greyhound bus was sitting at a stop, engine off, but there were no other passengers.  There was no driver.

He grunted and pulled his pack closer to him, feeling his heart slow and his nerves calm when he checked inside.  Whatever was after him didn’t know what the bag contained, and it desperately wanted to find out.  He zipped the bag closed, ensuring that anyone or anything watching wouldn’t find out.

He put the tips of his mitten gloves over the chilled ends of his fingers and walked up the aisle of the bus.  He bent down to look out the front window, finding that the bus was parked at a rest stop along the route.  It was possible everyone had just stepped out for a stretch break, but that wasn’t likely.  Not with whatever was after him.

The rest stop was mostly empty this time of night, only a few trucks with napping drivers and minivans with tired moms and dads switching who slept and who drove.  In the distance he spotted looming mountains rising out of nowhere just past Denver.

After refilling a few water bottles, he clenched a fist and approached a trucker climbing into her cab.  “Excuse me,” he hailed, waving his hands.  “Excuse me, but are you headed into Denver?  Maybe further?”

“I don’t take hitchhikers.”

He gulped, let his bag slide down his shoulder just a little, and nodded.  “Well, that’ll probably work out better for you anyway.”

She grumped and shut the driver’s side door but rolled down the window.  “Why’s that?  You an axe murderer?”

He shook his head.  “No.  I just think I’m cursed.”

“Why?”

He looked to either side, then up to the sky.  “Some god, or goddess, has it in for me.  It started when they burned down my house and killed my dog, but then they took all my friends and acquaintances a couple weeks ago.  Shoot, they made everyone on my bus disappear entirely, and I’d only known their faces for all of four hours.”  He pulled tight on the rucksack.  “If I got to know you, I’m sure you’d disappear too.”

She shook her head and cranked up her truck.  “You sound like a nutter.  ‘Sides, why’d you want to get me stolen by this pagan god of yours, assuming it’s real?”

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” he said.  He took off his rucksack and fiddled with the plastic clip.  “The god can’t see inside my backpack, but I think it knows and wants what’s inside.  I think what’s inside can kill it, and that’s why it’s so scared.  If I show you, you become more valuable to the god alive than dead.”

She rolled the window up a couple inches.

“I’m pretty desperate,” the man said.  “I haven’t shown anyone else what’s in my bag, and you’d be the first.”

She wrinkled her nose, but took her hand off the window crank.  “Fine.  If I like what I see, you can hitch a ride.”

He unhitched the bag and stepped on her truck’s runners, giving her just a peek at the contents.

Her eyes widened and he clicked the bag shut before the curious god could sneak its view into the burlap.

“Get in,” she said.  The truck’s doors unlocked at the push of a button.

He jumped off her runner and hurried around the front of her truck, then clambered into the passenger’s seat.

(Part 2) (Part 3)

The Nostalgia Corner

Slowly but surely, my mom is making me clean out all the crap I left at her house.  I’ve not lived in her house for several years, but now my younger brother has finally moved out and she’s done with it all.

On one of my recent trips to Mom’s house, I cleared out some of my childhood books (there are plenty more still waiting, too).  Included in this plethora of paper packages were several notebooks that I had used in school or to just write bullshit garbage in.  I found a Space-Jam spiral notebook from 1996 that contained this gem:

“BOOOOOOOM! So that takes care of the narrator.”

I was REALLY little when I wrote that.  Even though the story was filled with toilet humor and useless asides about things I thought were cool at the time, I must admit that I am extremely proud of my young self for being so strangely meta.  The main character spent most of the story confusing the narrator so that they could kill the god-like voice, take the power for their own, and rescue their friends from the torture of a bad field trip.

This month is Time Travel month here on Let Me Tell You the Story of, so later this week I’ll be posting an updated version of this sordid tale.  It’s not really time travel for anyone else, but in many ways, nostalgia and memory is an ordinary way for ordinary people to travel through time.

This experience will start on Wednesday the 25th.

Writing Rituals Tag

I was tagged in one of E. Kathryn’s recent posts about writing rituals.  I was thrilled to see that she thought of me when she made the post, so I decided to participate.  While I understand that the goal of blogging is to increase traffic, I don’t really like the nameless preying on clicks.  I much prefer individual responsiveness and interactivity, and I thought this presented me an opportunity to do so.

This post is effectively chain mail, but I hope that the people (strangers that I follow!  Gasp!) will be ok with this.

People I Follow (And Now Suggest to You!)

I chose Natalya Edwards, author of My Creative Writing Space, because her writing journey has intrigued me since I followed her.  I like reading inspirational tales from people, and the determination in her ‘Why I Must Write‘ post convinced me to follow her.

They are probably too popular, and almost definitely to artful, to respond to this lowly tag, but I wanted to point out Tetiana and Tony from Unbolt Me.  Their site is insanely hard to peruse, but I’ve followed them for a while and the sheer genius of their madness always has me excited to see their next post.

Also someone I find has an extremely classy demeanor, Tom Darby of Eagle Canyon publishes a lot of cool stories on his blog.  His ability to write a flash fiction is incredible, and his perspectives are really interesting.  My favorite of his recent posts is the Baristas’ Tale.

Lastly, I wanted to point out Danielle Summers who is publishing her Blackrose series on her site.  I was a little bit wary when I saw she was writing a vampire story, but the horror elements associated with the unreliable narrator are spot on.  I hope she continues writing!

Anyway, enough of that intro mess.  My Responses to the Writing Rituals tag:

When do you write? (time of day, day of week)

I write in between bouts of work.  My longer writing streaks are usually between 7 and 8 pm, just after supper but before I have to walk my dog or become forced to maintain my living space.

How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?

I don’t.  If I don’t get to write on a certain day due to distractions, I must forgive myself or I would surely go insane.  I think living life is an important part of writing, and ignoring life could have consequences both near and far reaching.

How do you review what you wrote the previous day?

I love to edit, and allowing myself to edit eternally is one of my bigger curses.  However, I usually wait more than a day to edit some of my own work.  The longer the wait, the more likely I am to read what I actually wrote rather than what I thought I wrote.

What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?

Music doesn’t really inspire me.  Visual art doesn’t either.  I’m pretty deep into the reading-writing learning style, and text truly does soothe my soul.  Sometimes nature, whether hikes or canoeing or something like that, can calm me.

In the spirit of the question, though, my favorite genre is disco.  When I really want to evoke a certain, nigh indescribable feeling, I listen to KC and the Sunshine Band’s I’m Your Boogie Man directly followed by Rob Zombie’s metal version of the same song.  I’m pretty sure that feeling is ‘troll harder,’ so I don’t think it’s actually relevant to writing.

What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch youtube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block?

One of my favorite ways to inspire myself is to learn new science.  I like going to scientific seminars and reading papers to figure out new ways to solve problems of the future.

I also like to look at mine and my family’s life.  I have led a strange, exciting-ass life filled with really interesting characters.  I have hoped to publish a story collection titled “Squirrel Gravy for the Soul,” but I rarely speak of that collection since I might embarrass family members or friends from back home, and I dread speaking with some of them about the possibility.  I often feel it safer to leave it be.

What tools do you use when you’re writing?

I made a post about electronic resources that I enjoy using.  The one that I am continually surprised by my love for is yWriter, which is a freeware version of Scrivener.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session?

My writing sessions are done all over the place and in a plethora of formats, so there is no definitive need.  On my sofa, on my phone, next to a slowly dripping HPLC… I usually write in sessions of about 10 minutes.

How do you fuel yourself during your writing session?

I eat little, work a lot, and sleep like an old person because my schedule is dear to me.  I eat breakfast sometimes, lunch sometimes, and most of the time I eat supper.

As far as diet, I am pescetarian, do not consume caffeine of any sort, and drink fruit juice on rare occasion.  I have sampled many varieties of tea, but now only consume true herbals with any sort of regularity.  I must confess, however, that my dear little Southern heart has a soft spot for decaf sweet tea.

How do you know when you’re done writing?

Usually something happens like the dog needs to be walked, my machines overpressurize or have an A280 peak, or I have to do something else more immediately necessary than writing.  Eventually I may be able to focus on my writing more, but at the moment keeping myself alive, healthy, and with an acceptable level of income is more important.  I often use timers to stop myself from writing, and my days tend to be extremely well structured.

 Questions You Can Copy if You Want to Participate:

When do you write? (time of day, day of week)

How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?

How do you review what you wrote the previous day?

What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?

What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch youtube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block?

What tools do you use when you’re writing?

What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session?

How do you fuel yourself during your writing session?

How do you know when you’re done writing?

To Stop and Smell the Flowers

This flash fiction is in response to K.R. Summers’s Creativity Challenge #2. After reading the prompt I immediately thought of this dream, this nightmare that I’ve had hundreds of times, and wanted to write something that could draw a reader into the character, fear, and inevitability I’ve experienced so often. Thank you for the inspiration, K.R.!

***

 
The mouse touched the blade gratifyingly, sniffed the sweet water and natural sugars in the tender grass. The dew quenched his thirsty tongue as he bit into the bottom of the shaft and chopped the grass down from its former height.

He folded his prize, stuffing the sweet blade into his mouth so that it wouldn’t trip him on the voyage home. The mouse then took off through the lesser grasses, those that were too tall and rough or too young and spindly, navigating back using the homey smell of his own dandruff. He shook out his fox red coat, hoping to leave his scent here to remind himself where he’d been. The heart in his chest beat hard, each moment outside of the colony ever more dangerous.

Home sat over the next couple anthills, near the puddle made by elephant’s footprints. Each time the rain fell, the puddle welled up with cooling water from which the mouse enjoyed sipping.

The mouse paused, feeling the earth vibrating beneath his feet. Something, something heavy and in a hurry, thundered nearer. He stuffed the piece of grass further in his mouth and pushed apart the grass in his way.

An ant scurried over his foot, so the mouse hastily retracted his paw. He hid in the scrubby weeds off to the side, his breath rapid and shallow for a few moments. Upon settling, the mouse decided the light creeping of an ant couldn’t cause the movement in the earth that reverberated across the plains. He held tight his grass, the leaf litter underfoot soft though it shook with the soil underneath.

He took a risk and stood on his hind legs, peering over the growth to see what might have scared the ant to action. A whiff of the air, fresh and windy above the grass, brought information from upwind. The scent of elephants, of their fear, wafted toward the mouse.

A stampede encroached upon his territory. He had little time to make it back to the colony, underground, and hope for safety.

Though the earth moved with ominous jolts, a meager flower caught the mouse’s
eye. Ignoring for now the impending elephants, the mouse blinked and crept toward the four petals on a spindly stem. He pulled the grass out of his mouth and let it fall, the dust of the earth sticking to where he had slathered the blade with spit.

The delicate flower’s light, powdery scent flooded his nostrils. His sharp teeth nibbled lightly on the edges of the flower and tore off tiny bits of lovely purple, his tongue tasting the delightful violet.

The stampede rushed ever closer, the trumpeting of the elephants giving fair warning to the innocents in their path.

The mouse felt his heart throb, nearly coming out of his chest. It bit the stem of the flower and hugged it to himself.

A giant foot above him blocked off the sunlight.

Nostalgia Time – Looking Back at Your FIRST Story

The first story I wrote will always be near and dear to me. I still have some of the original copies of it, somewhere at my mom’s house (bless her heart).

I had learned to read before entering Kindergarten – at least in a very rudimentary fashion – and in first grade I was absolutely in love with chapter books like the Junie B. Jones series. My first story was written on large sheets of paper with enormous line sizes and was a fan-fiction of the series, albeit somewhat toilet-humor oriented. I loved using new words I learned and stretching the boundaries of spelling.

When I read stories by younger authors, I am often reminded of my first ‘original’ story. Heavily influenced by multiple television series, I wrote The Sword’s Point starting in the summer between 5th grade and middle school. Sometime in undergrad, I realized just how horrible, trope-ish, and dull the massive project actually was. I spent significant effort trying to completely wipe the story off the face of the planet, and I do believe it possible that no copy yet remains.

After a few more years to look back on it, I regret that. I regret not being able to find the story that I worked on for years, regret not being able to recount the things I cared about in middle school, regret not being able to see my growth as an author.

For those of you writing your first story: chances are good you will eventually come to hate it, even if it is a financially successful work. Regardless of what happens, don’t throw it away, and never regret having written it. I’d also love to hear your perceptions on starting this journey and if you’ve found it edifying.

For those of you writing your second or third or tenth or hundredth story: take a look at your first story, and have a moment alone to savor the accomplishments you’ve made since then. I’d love to hear some of your feelings on your first story, so comment below!