30 January, 2013

(refinement)

PREFACE: Sorry for the dead air, things in my social life have been crazy the past week or so. Now, though, things have reached a plateau (despite seeing a very high probability of getting crazier in the next week), so I've decided to bang out a few blogs while I have the stability.

I have a Cast page now, so check it out if you haven't already. Some people I have yet to write about, but that will change soon.

To continue in the hopes of making this into an actual blog about becoming an author, I am continuing where I left off in (idea generation).

Now that we have a protagonist, an antagonist, and the beginnings of a plot, it's time to do some refining. How do the characters come together to create the story? Why are they in opposition? In my opinion, the pro-/antagonist relationship is the most crucial to develop, as without it, there is no story. Who is Spider-Man without the Green Goblin? Batman without the Joker? Navidson without the house? Think of an protagonist-antagonist relationship and you'll find that the more well-established it is, the better the story is.

In my story's case, I chose to emphasize Tristan's being as much of an average Joe as he is by making the antagonist a larger-than-life character. He is pompous, and looks down on everyone, actually dismissing Tristan's worth as a person outright. Tristan's not even worth a bullet, and is just tossed over the antagonist's shoulder, at which point the story begins in earnest.

Tristan's personality is key for this story, and is one I've always wanted to write about. Emotionally stable, cool as a cucumber, unflappable, easy-going and high-spirited. Pretty much everything I want to be.

How about his wife, though? How would Mrs. Halpenny react? What does she want out of life? What makes her a real person? I eventually found out that her relationship with Tristan is the good old "opposites attract"-style of relationship. Slightly unstable, loud, brash, hot-tempered, and a strong desire to be the center of attention. Her name is Jennifer ("Not Jen, Jenn, or Jenny, thankyouverymuch!" *glare*) Reigh, and I don't see her taking Tristan's surname. As much as she loves him, she's too much of a leader to take what she sees as the backseat of the relationship.

How long have they been together? That was an easy question, and I received an answer immediately. Forever. First relationships, since they were both sixteen.

As far as what Mrs. Jennifer Reigh wants out of life, she wants to be a famous singer, a household name, a superstar. Whenever she needs support, all she has to do is turn to Tristan. I find myself likening their relationship to a kite and its string. She lifts him up and shows him new things, while he keeps her grounded in reality and her plans feasible.

I suppose that's good enough for now. We'll further refine the Tristan-Jennifer dynamic when we cover the first writing prompt of "Five-page short story of an event during the week preceding Page One."

Let's work on the Tall Man. If you haven't read the cast page yet, he's the antagonist of the story. I started out with what intimidates me, which is kind of silly in retrospect, but is people taller than I am. At 6'2, being noticeably taller than me is both quite impressive and outside the norm. I'm not trying to imply that it's a bad thing, however. It's just one of those fears that belongs to the basic reptilian part of the brain.

With that in mind, I wanted a villain who made people just stop and stare when they should be running or fighting. I amplified the height issue. I really wanted to impress the sense of foreboding being evoked by the characters, so I figured he'd be well beyond the human range. I also wanted him to pick up Tristan as easily as I pick up a coffee cup. Proportionally, that adds several feet. After sketching out a few ideas, the Tall Man revealed his height to be exactly double mine. 12'4. The Tall Man, indeed.

He'll also be part of some invading force, maybe. I have some ideas I won't be putting here in the blog, because I plan on this story to be the first in a series, and I would hate to give away any spoilers. ;)

I want him to have some lackeys, too, but I'm torn between people being pressed into service with things like slave collars and such, or just making them fanatic loyalists. I'm leaning more toward the slave collars, as I find that adds more to the intimidation factor, but we'll see how things go as we move along.

Finally, I'm still unsure about the Tall Man's banishing device, but this post is long and dry enough for now, so we'll tackle that next time.

26 January, 2013

(The Sing With Me Initiative)

I can't sleep, as I have quite a lot on my mind. A wise woman once told me that the best way to quiet the mind is to just write it all out. Well, okay, maybe it wasn't said so much as shown, but, regardless, here I am, writing.

It's presently quarter past five in the morning on a Saturday, and I have to work tonight, so you'd think I would be trying a bit harder to fall asleep, but it (in my experience, as I'm no expert) is less about force and more about finesse, and I'm not really feeling delicate at the moment.

Most likely in March, I'll be doing something I think is neat with the video blog. I'm calling it the Sing With Me Initiative. I asked four friends of mine (of which only two currently have pseudonyms for this blog: Sol and The Photographer) to sing a song with me live.

It's not really for anything in particular, but I want to get my friends more involved with my life, as I have never really been very good with the whole self-disclosure thing. What better way than to dive in head-first, yeah?

Upon further reflection, I kind of want to branch out after singing with people "in-studio" and move to singing with people not in my vicinity, but still finding a method of harmonizing with them to make it sound less like two pieces of audio, and more like two people singing a song together.

However, since the vlog has such a small fanbase at this time, I don't know how well it will go over.

Before I seek clips of songs elsewhere, but after live-action singing, I want to get the other five people in the vlog project in on this initiative. In my head, we're all going to finally find a time to connect for one big group chat, and we'll sing together then, but I also have yet to bring this up to them, so I don't know if it will be feasible.

So far, the song list is as follows:
(TBA pseudonym) and I- Reel Big Fish - She Has a Girlfriend Now
(TBA pseudonym) and I- The Black Keys - Things Ain't Like They Used to Be
Sol and I- Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man
And neither The Photographer nor I have picked out a song yet.

Bear in mind that the song list is subject to change for any reason.

I didn't talk about what I wanted to, but I suppose that's another story for another time.

21 January, 2013

(PoMS)

Taking a break from authoring for a moment. Life happened, so please excuse me.

I was a hair's breadth away from being exactly where I wanted to be re: Potential Mrs. Saturday (PoMS from here on out), and things were going along quite well. Have you ever met anyone who you just clicked with? There's that instant connection that you know you're going to spend the rest of your lives strengthening together?

PoMS and I had that. We were always talking. ALWAYS. It was amazing. Granted, I met her in a very tumultuous period in her life, but I was patient, for how could I not? She was in pain and I held out a supportive hand, because even if I didn't fall fast and hard, I want to help everyone in pain. It's just how I'm wired.

Sunshine and happiness and kittens followed. To any third party, I'm sure it looked pretty disgusting. I mean, I absolutely adore all that mushy-gushy stuff, and there were a few instances of me saying "...really?" With the arched eyebrow and everything.

Not the conversation-ender I thought it would be, oddly enough.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad, but I very much enjoyed it. We were two people feeding off of each other (in as positive of a way as possible), and it was nice. Whenever we had free time, we would be texting. Or talking. Sending pictures back and forth, just to see each others' faces. I said it was disgusting to a third party, so you can't say I didn't warn you.

Pretty much how it happened.


Yeah, we had it pretty bad for each other.

Now it's time for something that seems to be a non-sequitur but is actually related (just bare with me while I get back around to it). It takes 14 Gs of lateral acceleration before the heart literally explodes from the chest, tearing itself apart from the other organs. True story, bro.

I'm not entirely certain how I arrived at this thought process, but is there an emotional equivalent to this? How does one weigh unkindnesses? Are there different measurements for different types of insultory actions? How much stress can the emotional heart withstand before it claws its way from my chest?

Aww, he looks so happy. (Disclaimer: not his own heart)


I don't know the answers to those questions (and there are more, similar to them), but I do know that I have reached my emotional 14 Gs. Well, maybe 13.9. I have given one too many second chances, and do not want to risk that .1 emotional G force. It is time to pick myself up and try again, as much as I don't want to, because I do still care very deeply for PoMS.

Just not enough to get back in line for the emotional rollercoaster.

16 January, 2013

(idea generation)

So here I sit in my bookstore,  coffee within half an arm's reach, staring out the large window at the falling snow. Norah Jones is singing to me over the store's speakers, and I am surrounded by people clutching onto books as if they were lifelines and sipping piping-hot beverages of their own. Take away the snow and I'm in heaven.

As I'm looking out the window, I daydream. It has been quite a number of years since I figured out how important it is for someone who calls himself a creator to while hours away lost in thought, so I spend a significant portion of each day doing just that. I hope to always be a creator.

In the middle of my imaginings, it occurs to me that I'm (yet again) approaching a week without putting up a blog, and I start to panic. I'm apparently not doing as well as I had hoped in improving my consistency, but I hope we can just chalk it up to growing pains and my still trying to find my footing in the blogging world. I just don't want to cut myself too much slack, either, for then I very well may never get anything done at all.

I do a very quick caricature of myself in the margin of my notebook while I race for ideas on what to write about, and eventually settle on the pretty lame idea of a meta-post. A blog on how I wrote the words you're currently reading. Not coming up with anything better, I dive in headfirst. (Loop back to the beginning of the blog, only with some poppy-folksy lady-singer I can'place instead of the ever-lovely Miss Jones.)

Finding that to not be sufficient to my tastes, I decide on another idea: the aspiring author who has a blog about achieving his aspirations gives an example of idea generation. The topic of idea generation could be a series of blogs in and of itself, but for the purposes of this exercise, I'll only focus in on the materials relevant to my first novel.

The very first step I take is to pick one of the hundreds upon hundreds of pre-made characters (as I generate character concepts for fun) that live in my mental catalogue,  and since I am currently going through a phase in which I prefer stories of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations, I pick a character who is as close to his original mold as possible.

The protagonist of the story I'm writing in the hopes of being published is Tristan, who started out as an alter-ego of mine. He is the source of all of my amazeballs ideas, the person who picks out my clothes, chooses what I talk about, and, at his core, is literally everything I have ever wanted to be.

However, he needs a surname, as he isn't Cher, and for that, I go through my imaginary rolodex-o-names, trying to find one that sounds good when preceded by Tristan. Not really thinking of anything good, I begin thinking of surnames that people I know have said they would change theirs to given the right motivation. One old friend comes to mind in particular, and what she said automatically becomes Tristan's surname when I remember saying that if I had the inclination to change my surname, I would change it to Halpenny, as well. (Since Tristan is everything I want to be, that became his surname as soon as I said I'd like it to be mine.)

So, we have a first and last name. It's a start, no? I don't want the story version of him to be too similar to me, so I age him about ten years and make him an English teacher--a job I've wanted for years, but put on hold (for now) to be a writer. I also gave him a wife, because average people get married between my age and his (although, if my family is any indication, it's closer to mine than his--a fact that kind of haunts me), and I just want him to be in love.

The next step is to put him in an unexpected place. This stage stumped me for a bit, as I wasn't too terribly keen on writing a blurb about Tristan in some inner-city slum or the like. I was laying in bed, thinking and thinking and thinking, when it hit me--literally. I had sneezed, bumping my head on the dresser at the foot of my bed, which dislodged my copy of the Golden Compass-trilogy-in-one-big-ass-book from the top, where it proceeded to smack me in the face.

There is no possible way for an average guy like Tristan could get to an alternate reality all on his own, so that means that someone had to put him there, which means I just created an antagonist! Kick ass. I have two protagonists, an antagonist, and a loose overview of the plot! The wheels are turning now, baby!

(Next: Refinement!)

13 January, 2013

(the only redemption is...)

When Dy Saturday  mentioned to me that he would be having Guest Posts on Sundays (at least this is the goal he envisions for this place) I assumed I would be invited to post.  I'm sort of big headed that way.  I waited. Aaaand I waited. The subject came up twice more. Still waiting. So then I sort of hinted.

Nothing.

So one day I just said, "I want to Guest Blog on your Blog."

And now he we are, and I invited myself.  Oh, yeah, folks this is Sleepy Bard from The Insomniac's Dream.

So, Dy's blog is still inventing itself and he is still searching for his blog voice. (By the by, I love his writing. I'm his #1 fan.)  Being that it's a little more serious over here than on my own blog, I am choosing to write about a serious topic (with a dash of humor).  (And I'm using a lot of parenthesis)

Some of you may know that I have been in a life long battle with not only Insomnia, but Anxiety and Depression, too.  I have attempted to write about it on my own blog in the past, but I found that my blog voice is one of humor and I took the blogs down and hid them away.

I can go years without ever feeling Depression.  I can live for a long time as a "normal" person and be happy, live my life as if nothing is wrong.  Because it's not.  When it's gone, and I am not struggling, I don't even give it a second thought.

But when it's here, it is all encompassing.  It's an evil, evil thing that creeps up on me unexpectedly and wraps its nasty tendrils around me and pushes me down.  I can't sleep.  I can't function.  I can't breathe. I am either listless and drowning in my own fears and sorrow, or I am anxious, crying helplessly and fighting down panic attacks.  I feel hopeless, useless, and worthless.  I struggle with the feelings of guilt that come with not being able to be a  good mother at these times.  Sometimes, I can't even get out of bed.  I lie there feeling like the weight of the world is crushing me into the mattress and it is physically impossible to get up.  I don't clean my house.  I don't shower.  I lie in bed for days sometimes, with my phone being my only connection to the outside world.  I stumble to the computer to write, in hopes that it will be therapeutic.

Before we move on with this story, yes, I have tried medication.  I have tried so many, I've been through them all.  Every.  Single.  One.  Makes things worse for me.  I do not have suicidal ideations, or thoughts of hurting others when I am in an episode.  On the meds?  I have lots of bad thoughts, horrible, scary thoughts that frighten me.  All the bad side affects get me, they get me hard and fuck me up.

I've tried talk therapy, and well, I can barely open up and talk to my friends and family, let alone a stranger.  Therapists, "Shrinks", they turn me off, give the heebie jeebies and I just can't talk to them.

I like to think a lot of my episodes and issues are situational and as things in my life begin to look up and get better, I may be done with this forever.  One can hope.

I am not looking for pity.  I'm not looking for attention.  I want to share my story in hopes that through writing I can release some of this pain, and find healing through writing.  I want to share my story in hopes that someone out there who feels the same way will read this and not feel so alone in the world.

Because we're not alone.  Many people suffer from Depression.  It's not a bad word.  It's not embarrassing. It happens to the best of us, to a lot of us, and we are not alone.

On Wednesday I had a particularly bad day.  I did not sleep the night before and fell into slumber somewhere just after dawn.  I cried myself to sleep.  I woke up a few hours later and I was still crying.  Uncontrollably.  I couldn't MOVE.  Not even to roll over, just enough to pull my legs up so I could be in a ball, under the covers.  It was a big cry, with lots of sobbing, gasping for air, stomach clenched, my heart was aching to release all of the sadness  the pain in my heart.  I screamed, and I yelled.  I hated myself for being so goddamn helpless.  I had to fight down panic attacks, one after the other and struggle to breathe.

When I had finally calmed down enough to lie on my back and take in a few deep breaths, I stared at the ceiling and realized I had that crushing feeling.  Something was pushing me down, down into my mattress and there was no way in hell I could move, or get up, or face the world outside my bedroom.  It wasn't that I couldn't go outside, I couldn't even leave the sanctuary of my bedroom.  

Resigned, I laid there and held my phone in my hand, staring at it, willing it to ring.  Praying for a text.

You see, the two closest people in my life that usually check in on me throughout the day to make sure I am ok, the two people that I confide in, that I trust enough to see me in this situation, the two people I rely on when I am down this far, also suffer from Insomnia and battles of their own.  Crazy Girl and The Writer.

After a few hours I couldn't hold my water anymore, as they say, and I stumbled through the dark apartment (we have thick curtains and keep it very dark in here.  Probably part of the problem) to the bathroom.  Deciding I felt dehydrated, I grabbed a glass of water and returned to the bed.  Under the covers, I clutched my phone, that lifeline to my support system (Crazy Girl and The Writer) and prayed, prayed, they would wake up soon, one or both, and check on me.

I attempted meditation, I tried to talk myself down (up?) but I cried all day on and off and finally I couldn't take it anymore.  The following is the text I sent Crazy Girl.

"I need some serious help.  I can't get out of bed.  I can't move.  I feel like the world is crushing me into this spot in the bed.  I'm dizzy, not breathing right, anxiety.  Feel like I'm going to throw up, shaking.  I need to get out of this fucking bed and shower and clean.  I am not getting up.  I hate feeling like this.  I can't keep living this way."

She inquired if I had least had a drink in there with me, and as to where the boys were (living room) within five minutes she was here, in the bed next to me.  She brought me a cigarette and started what she has always done for me in the past, what she has to do so often (she is truly an amazing friend, I am so blessed to have her).  She began the talking me up.  She made me sit up to smoke, drink some water, and inquired about supper.

"No, no," I shook my head.  "Can't.  Just can't."  Calm, so calm, she handed me my phone.

"Order them a pizza, then.  You have to feed them.  You don't have to get up."

She tried for awhile to get me up, to motivate me.  It wasn't happening.  I pulled the blankets over my head and cried into my pillows.

I found out later, she was texting The Writer.  She was texting him and telling him what was going on, and that he needed to start talking to me, too.

Eventually I peeked my head out and started talking to her.  In an attempt to make me laugh, she pulled up this silly soundboard app on her phone and played sound effects to match my statements, what I was saying.

I did laugh.  I laughed so hard.  Life is so much better with sound effects.

Soon, I had her talking to me, I had The Writer texting me, and I was feeling better.  Still couldn't even face the daunting thought of getting out of bed, or leaving the room.  Crazy Girl called her husband and had him run to the store to get me more cigarettes.  I had cigarettes delivered to me!

Tiny Bard took care of the pizza guy, made his little brother a plate, then came into the bedroom us.  He had two plates.  My son brought me dinner.  Silently, he climbed into the bed, underneath the covers with me and handed me a piece of pizza.  He laid his head on my shoulder, "I love you, Mommy.  It will be alright."

But will it??  Is it fair to an eleven year old that he had to get dinner for his brother?  That he has to see his mother this way, that he had to bring her food?  That he understands enough that he knows to just be there for me? That he lives in a cluttered house??  It was enough to make me cry all over again.

The cats came into the bedroom.  My beautiful, loving, sweet, adorable, therapeutic cats.  They climbed into the bed with us and snuggled me.

Tiny Bard and Crazy Girl comforted me, made sure I ate something.  Drank something.  The Writer continued to text me through it, in the way that he can.

I was surrounded by support and love, from all sides.  Cats, friend, son in bed with me?  Check.  The Writer on the other side of my phone?  Check.

I sat up so I wouldn't choke on the pizza (see?  no thoughts of hurting myself) and I gestured with the slice in my hand and Tortie (that bitch!) snatched it in her mouth and dashed off the bed through the apartment.  Bitch stole my pizza!  I just laughed.  Too much to get out of the bed and chase her down.

Tiny Bard ran after her and brought me my pizza back.  Guess what folks?  Yeah, I ate it.  She had it in her mouth, and it was probably on the dirty floor (I don't clean when I'm like this) and I ate it.  Cause I give no fucks.

Before she left, Crazy Girl texted The Writer to let him know she was leaving, and I would be alone.

So, The Writer called me on the phone and we talked until he had to go to work.

I got through it.  Another episode.  A really bad one.  But I made it out the other side and I am so thankful to my friends, Crazy Girl and The Writer for knowing how to deal with this, for knowing what to do and say, for being there for me.  For loving me in spite of all of my crazy and never giving up on me.  You are amazing, both of you, and I love you so much.

Also, thankful for such an amazing kid.  He has to take on burdens beyond his years, but he does it without complaint, he does it because he loves me, he does it because I'm his Mother

. It's still the same day as I write this now (I believe Dy is putting it up on Sunday).  I am out of bed.  I am motivated.  I am going to wrap this up and get into the shower.  Yeah, it's late, but time is not of essence when you're an Insomniac.  I'm going to shower and I'm going to clean my house.

Through it all,  The Writer will text me and keep me going.

10 January, 2013

Cats and Dogs (Theme Thursday)

Today, I'm putting my story on pause to participate in Theme Thursday. Get used to it. Even as I type this up, I'm slightly unsure what to say about cats and dogs. It's raining, so there's that, but I don't think that's enough, so we're taking the spaghetti method, in which we throw a bunch of ideas at the wall and see what sticks.

I suppose this could also be a "That Makes Me Think Of" post.

TMMTO 1-
The first thing cats v. dogs makes me think of are the stereotypical binary gender roles. "She's a sex-kitten," or "He's ain't nothing but a hound dog." I'm not entirely certain how this sort of thinking began, with women being compared to felines and men to canines, but come on! As if there isn't enough of a gulf between the sexes without adding to it by saying that we're completely different species.

Yeah, I know that popular thinking has us coming from different planets, but I never really understood that mode of thinking. Why do we feel a need to emphasise our differences instead of what draws us together?

Sorry for getting preachy, that's just the mindset I have about a lot of topics. Moving on....

TMMTO 2-
The weather. This is another one of those sayings that I have no idea what the genesis is. (Call it irresponsible journalism for not doing my research and I'll tell you I'm not a reporter, I'm trying to be entertaining.) Where do the cats and dogs in this saying coming from? Is Mittens finally coming back from kitty heaven? Hmm...

TMMTO 2a-
Zombie pets. Which would be easier to take on? I've seen cats get very ugly and vicious sometimes. Plus they're all stealthy and silent killer instincts, but having suffered from 36462657281058 dog bites in my life (okay, seven for real) it feels like I would either freeze up at the sight of a zombie dog, or all of my pent-up canine-induced rage would finally have a legitimate outlet.

TMMTO 3-
Yowza.

09 January, 2013

(no comment-ary)

Rereading all of these old posts really is cringe-worthy for me. I'm rather embarrassed by exposing myself to such a degree, but then I realize that you can get a sneak peek on all the posts for both this and next week if you can find my nanowrimo livejournal (no hotlinks for you) from back in the day, which doesn't really help anything, but whatever. I'm not really feeling up to commentary today. Enjoy the third bit, "Shootout".

"That's whut he was talkin' 'bout, Often? That's why he was all bad-moody? B'cause yew bumped inter him?" It was the next morning, and Often was only half awake. After the bounty hunter left, the sheriff introduced herself as Chandra Indrani and told him to sleep off all the booze he had been drinking. He protested, but she reminded him of what her position was and that she could have him put in a jail cell for the night instead.

Begrudgingly consenting, Often had picked up his shoulder-sling rucksack and went upstairs to his room above the bar, which he acquired about three months ago. About. That night he dreamt of his crew and his current predicament, being stranded on a desert planet. The terraforming process had been sabotaged. It was a lifeless moon beforehand, but he knew that Thor had made great strides in the past several centuries.

He awoke in the middle of the night, having been gripped by the nightmare of how he wound up in this bar, so he went downstairs to have himself a drink. Chandra had found him, several hours later, face-down on the countertop in a puddle of his own drool. She rolled her eyes and dumped a bucket of water on him. He awoke with a start, jumping up, tripping over his stool and falling to the ground. After helping him up, she ordered him some coffee, thinking she could get a sober conversation in with this cute stranger before he left, either by drink or by train.

"Why hello, good sir," she brightly said with a curtsie. He grunted. Undeterred, she cleared her throat and continued.

"My name is Chandra. Chandra Indrani. I run this town," pointing to the badge on her vest as she spoke. "It's a quaint little township and I aim to keep it that way. What business did you have with that man? If'n y'all dun mind me askin', o' course." He gave her a sideways look and drank from his mug. "It's the least y'all could do fer me savin' yer life, you know."

He sighed and stared at her. Putting his hand to an item on a chain around his neck, he told her his story of meeting Olivia, the beautiful woman with the short brown hair and blonde highlights, of meeting the bounty hunter, and how there really was no bounty. The man was just psychotic.

"That's whut he was talkin' 'bout, Often? That's why he was all bad-moody? B'cause yew bumped inter him?"

"Apparently."

"He's a dumb man, then." She would have continued berating the bounty hunter if someone had not shouted a very derogatory remark about Russians in incredibly poor English. Chandra saw Often twitch at the comment, and then he went right back to drinking whatever happened to be in his mug now. She didn't know, she had been too engrossed in his story.

"Whut! No reac'shun? Well, mebbe he's hidin' under th' petticoats of that no good whore pretendin' ter be a man!" He said words that even Often, being a full-grown man, couldn't bring himself to say. In anger, Often crushed his glass by squeezing too hard. He stood up and slunk over towards the window to see what was going on.

Looking through the blinds, he saw the gruff man with the gold teeth. What he also saw caused him to rub his eyes and drop his jaw.

"Fiona!" he gasped. She had her hands bound behind her, her ankles bound, and she had was wearing a collar with a leash going from her neck to his hands. Rolling her over so she was lying on her side, he put a foot on her hip and rested on it as she cried into the dirt. Her waist-long red hair was strewn about, gathering dirt and dust and general filth. He punched the wall next to the window.

"Fiona? What? Who's Fiona?" Chandra asked, confused.

"Weren't you paying attention? Fiona's part of my crew! She's the RA's medic--and my friend. Next to Tuesday, I've known her the longest. She means a lot to me, and if he hurts her...." he trailed off, letting Chandra imagine what he might do to the man with gold teeth.

"I have to get her to safety. Chandra, you go around behind him. I'll distract him until you get there, and when I give the signal, incapacitate him," he took her shoulders in his hands, "by any means neccesary. I will not let him hurt her." He thought of Olivia, and how he failed her. She loved him, trusted him, practically adored him, and he let her down. He was a colossal failure. Her safety was the one thing he guaranteed her. That's the reason why she spoke up to him in the first place. Even though his ship was named Reckless Abandon, he made her feel safe.

Almost getting lost in his memories, he snapped back to the here and now. Fiona was in danger. Resisting the urge to drink some more--he had recently read a book written by one of the waiters at his saloon who's main character drank whenever he was feeling blue, with dire consequences--he ran up to his room and got his holster, which housed his prize-winning revolvers, Huginn and Munin. He ran down the stairs, taking them three at a time.

Reaching Chandra again, he told her the signal and then they looked into each other's eyes just before they parted. His telling her how urgent this situation was, and hers wishing him the best of luck. She took her black helmet off and gave it to him.

"Here, you might need this."

"Thanks."

"Now, go get him," he said, putting the helmet on.

"Good luck," she whispered, as she ran off.

Often kicked open the swinging doors and stepped out into the street. He stood at the bottom of the stairs onto the wooden sidewalk. Glaring at his opponent, Often cursed in Russian and then demanded to know what he wanted with Fiona.

"Jest a li'l lovin' is all. She's so pretty, see. Et's been f'rever since ah've been wit' a woman, ether way," he said, grinning his solid gold grin. "Once ah kill yeh, we'll go back to me hideout an' make us a baby!" While he was laughing, Fiona screamed and Often ran up to him, drew back a fist, and punched as hard as he could in a donward arc, knocking a couple golden teeth out as their mouth came into contact with both a fist inside a spiked glove and, a few seconds later, a stone on the ground.

"Пойдите в Хэль, ублюдок." <"Go to Hel, bastard."> Often bent down and picked up Fiona, spit on the bounty hunter's forehead, and just before he turned to walk away, was tripped, sending Fiona flying across the street and Often down into the dirt. Before the man with a few less gold teeth now could do anything with his gained advantage, Often was back on his feet and between both Fiona and her assailant.

Staring each other down, they both had their hands just above their guns at their waists, ready to draw at any second. Chandra entered Often's line of sight behind their opponent, and for a fraction of a second, he flinched. Глупый! But it was too late, the man with the golden smile whipped out his pistol and fired at Often. It seemed to take forever for his bullet to reach Often; and when it did, it clanged harmlessly against Often's forehead, covered by Chandra's helmet, and ricocheted off into the sky.

It had caught Often off guard, having been expecting his chest to be riddled, and it knocked him right off his feet. He fell backwards into the dirt, but before he even reached the ground, the owner of the bullet had recieved a replacement, as well as three extra. Chandra decided to store them in his back, so he wouldn't lose them. Both Often and the man with the gold teeth hit the ground with dull thuds. The only difference is that while the man's back ached (to put it lightly) on the way down, Often was hearing a very loud ringing sound. He decided that he'd have to talk to Chandra about that.



When Often awoke, he wasn't in the street anymore. He wasn't wearing his coat anymore. Niether was he wearing the silly alarm bell ringing helmet, nor his holsters, boots or anything else that could be considered dirty. So in a freshly bought pair of underwear, he sat up and looked around. He noticed his clothes, neatly folded, on a chair across the room. And while he was focusing on the room, he saw a bureau, a closet, a mirror with loads of makeup cases and perfume bottles on the dresser beneath.

Looking down, he saw that he was sitting in a bed. A foreign bed. Then he realized that there were two women standing in the doorway, watching him inventory his new surroundings.

"So, how often do y'all find yerself in a foreign bedroom in th' mornin', anyhow?" said a voice with a distinguishable drawl. "Ah bet it's ev'ry night o' th' week," she went on with a giggle and a wink. "Now, ah'll let y'all catch up." And with that, Chandra left the room, closing the door behind her.

Fiona ran up to Often and they embraced each other for a long time. When they finally let each other go, Often told her to turn around so he could get dressed. They talked as he did.

"So cap'n. It's been quite some time. I've missed you so much," she gave him a tight hug from behind after he slid his shirt over his lithe body. "We've all missed you."

"I 'ave missed all of--vait, all? Who else vas vith you?" Often turned around as fast as he could, hoping against hope that she was there, alive and well. Odin knows he couldn't live if he knew she came to harm. He just could see no point in it. Her eyes brightened and she gave him a beaming smile.

"Cap'n, we're all there. All in the township of Deluxe 116. Marcus, Jones, Tuesday and Olivia. They're all alright. After what happened, the ship only broke into two piec--" and before she could continue, Often snapped on his pilot's goggles, buckled his boots up, adjusted his mantle to look just the right amount of adventurous, and started heading for the exit.

"Chandra!" He called, coming upon her by surprise in the living room. She looked at him quizzically after hearing her name. "Suit up. Ve're heading for D. 116."

"D. 116? What's there?"

"My friends. My family. My life. My crew. They all are still alive. You 'ave no idea 'ow 'appy that is making me," Often said, beaming.

Not even ten minutes later, the trio took off towards the township of Deluxe 116.

08 January, 2013

"What Often Did"

Today is only new things in the fact that this is the second quarter of the first chapter. Wednesday and Friday will see the other half. As I said, this chapter is solely for reference purposes for me.
Often ushered the passengers getting off on this planet onto his dinghy. After making sure they were all safe and comfortable, he opened the cargo bay doors and drove out towards Frigga's capital city of Megalopolis. He sighed while he was thinking about it. People in charge of important things like naming cities are so uncreative. Uncreative? Is that really the word? I don't think it's a real word. Whatever. They're the opposite of creative.

He had several conversations with the passengers on the way to Megalopolis. Since he had heard whispers of it throughout the whole voyage, he confirmed that his parents were very free-spirited when it came to naming their children. He was rather embarassed to admit the origin of his name. He hated the thought of someone finding out that both his and his younger brother's names had to do with their parents' sex lives. His name was the frequency of sex, and his brother's, Ardent, was how they felt about each other during sex.

He supposed that Ardent got the short end of the stick on this deal. The only thing he had to say was "My parents had sex a lot. You could say they did it...." and someone would catch on. Ardent had to talk about the whole feelings issue. Not that Often or Ardent had a problem with feelings, it's just that, growing up, the idea of your parents having sex is kind of icky.

Often almost realized something, but the split-second he did, one of the passengers, a cute brunette with blonde highlights, asked him a question. However, he had been zoning out, so he didn't pick up on it.

"Excuse me? Could you repeat that, please?"

"I asked if you would be coming back anytime soon, Mr. Caoine." She batted her eyelashes when she spoke. The old man sitting right behind him started patting him on the back and chuckling. Whispering into his ear, the old man said "Way to go, sonny. She's a real cutie. Ah heh heh hehhh!" At least, he thought he was whispering. His comment made both Often and the brunette woman blush, some of the other passengers chuckle, and his wife smack the back of his head.

Deciding to ignore the comment, Often looked back and replied to his passenger's question.

"I very well might be, ma'am. I go where work is. I'll actually be staying here, on Frigga, for few days, looking for people who want to go offworld."

"Ah, what luck. I'm only going to be staying here for a few days," she said.

The conversation went on like this until they got to the harbor, where he got out first, and held the door open for his passengers. He walked them into the check-in building where he presented his ID and his passenger list to the Harbormaster, an elderly man on the verge of retirement.

"Well, everything seems to be in order here, Mr. Caoine. It seems like everything I have heard about your freelance operations are true. All seven of these people look remarkably happy, and I'd wager that they'd all recommend your services to their friends. It's rare to see such praise come towards an underdog this early in his career."

"Oh, well, it's not all me, sir. I couldn't have made happy these people if it weren't for my crew. Tuesday, Marcus, Jones and Fiona all do their fair share, and they each love to do exactly that."

"Heavens to betsy, he's humble too! Miss, you've certainly picked a good captain to be with," he said to the brunette woman with the blonde highlights, who apparently had been standing next to Often the entire time. They both became rather flustered at this comment, and both began to correct it at once.

"Actually--" she began.

"Y'see--" he replied.

"--I'm just his--" she continued.

"--we only just met--" he went on.

"--passenger, and I've--" she said.

"--and had only just started--" he added.

"--only asked him out--" she mentioned.

"--talking to going out," he finished.

"--on the dinghy ride over here," she concluded. They both shared a laugh at the Harbormaster's disoriented look. He had just heard two people tell basically the same story at once and didn't understand any of it. Deciding to start over, they agreed to tell the story only once.

"Well," the Harbormaster began, "it seems you two will be wonderful for each other, you obviously can already continue and finish each other's sentences. It will be a great time all around." He was smiling as he spoke. "Well, I'll let you two get on with your day; there are other boats to inspect and other captains to talk with. Here's hoping the both of you last a good, long time. Maybe even until you're my age. Ha ha ha."

Laughing as they walked towards the exit, Often and the woman talked and got to know each other a little better. They arranged a place to meet up later that evening for a few drinks. As they said their goodbyes, she pecked him on the cheek and turned to leave.

"H-hey! I just realized something. I don't even know your name!"

"Olivia. Olivia Bragi." She smiled as she told him, for she saw that he loved her name.

"Bragi, huh? Then, gods permitting, you are my muse as well. I will go back to Reckless Abandon and write poems upon poems expressing my undying desire to love you! Or something." He winked. He liked being overly dramatic. It made people smile and, occasionally, chuckle, which seemed to be the effect he had on Olivia.

"I'll see you later tonight, Olivia Bragi."

"See you tonight, Often Caoine." He watched her walk away and smiled. It had been forever since he had been in a relationship with someone. This would be his chance to finally settle down. He was already pushing thirty, and he finally realized that he wasn't getting any younger. He should probably be checking in on his crew. They were putting some last-minute finishing touches on the ship before bringing it in to dock. They wanted their home to look as beautiful as she could among the other ships in the docks.

He spun around, started back towards the other door and immediately walked into someone, knocking him over. Both parties fell to the ground in a heap of tangled arms and legs. This man started cussing and hollering, generally making a scene. Often was the first to get up, so he offered his hand to the man on the floor to help him up, while only metaphorically falling over himself apologizing.

The man on the floor, however, wouldn't have any of that. He furiously smacked Often's hand away and spit at the floor between Often's feet as the man was getting up. After finally standing up, he opened his mouth to speak and revealed two rows of teeth made entirely of gold. Какие гротескные зубы, Often thought to himself, and counted himself lucky to still be able to call his "pearly whites".

"Listen, you little fuckin' Russian punk. Why don't yeh watch where the hell yer goin'? There's a reason why ther's hardly any of yer kind here."

"Hey, sir. What's your problem? Not only did I apologize, I offered to help you up. There's no call for racism!"

"Fuck off."

"Besides, I shouldn't be unwelcome here. I have French in me. I don't even understand this anti-Russian bias. When was the last time Russia did anything wrong?"

"Obviously not enough," the man retorted, commenting on the amount of French Often's genes posessed. With that, Often swung his arm around and decked the man. He bent back. Spitting out blood, the gold-toothed man felt the need to insult Often again.

"Heh, yeh think havin' French blood run through yer veins is any better? If I scraped the bottom of Europe and Asia's barrels, the result would be you, ya little shit." That comment earned the man with the gold teeth a kick to the stomach. He fell backwards out an open door and into the street. People around Often started clapping. They had seen and heard everything.

By the time the gold-toothed man re-entered the port check-in, Often had left. He ran through the building and got outside just in time to see Often ride away in his dinghy.

"Heh! A steamboat dinghy, what a surprise," the man with the gold teeth said, rolling his eyes. "Hmm...."

Cruising along, Often turned the music volume as high as he could without getting a headache. He always calmed down when listening to music. He plugged in his music player, in which he had every Diordeca song ever recorded stored. They were his favorite band. During a ballad, he heard something that he had never heard during this song before, the sound of four engines being gunned.

As they got nearer and nearer, he started to make out features on the one in the lead. He was wearing a black bandana that looked oddly familiar. Then he remembered the guy in the port.

"Дерьмо! Tuesday, get your ass down here! Looks like I've been followed!" Often shouted into the white, spherical walkie-talkie he held in the palm of his hand. It was the size of a golfball, but it could connect him to his ketch, even if he was on one side of the planet and it was on another. Luckily for him, his ketch, the Reckless Abandon, wasn't on the other side of the planet, but in orbit around the planet.

Tuesday, his pilot, has been his best friend for years. She was the one who convinced him to start building their ketch, back on Freya. At first, it was just a two-seater atmosphere-flier in the shape of a teardrop. During this period, they shipped their two-seater, which was named Raindrop for it's shape, to a beautiful gas giant swirling with colors surrounded by thousands of beautiful rings. It reminded them of the planet Saturn in the old history textbooks in the chapters about the solar system humans lived in hundreds of years ago.

During the terraforming process on the solid planets, a giant surface was created and wrapped around this new Saturn, named Loki. It was several hundred meters thick and supported by magnets that opposed the metals at the core of the planet. It was clear, so the inhabitants could enjoy the magnificent colors the endless storms produced. Homes on the asteroids orbiting Loki went for enormous prices that only the top of the above above average socioeconomic class could afford to live there. Others could visit the planet itself, though. It just costs a fortune to live on the asteroids.

After a while, they had saved up enough to add on to their two-seater. They found an old transport ship and made modifications to it, so that the Raindrop could serve as the cockpit. They added rooms, knocked down walls (but not any that would cause a hull breach), making it fit to be a ferry to help people who wanted to go from planet to planet. They even do deliveries from time to time. And when they were finished modifying the ship, they found that somehow, vines could grow on their ship, even though they hadn't found any dirt from which it could originate. They never questioned it, since it was benign, and actually helped them out a couple times. It now grows berries and honeydew.

And now this ketch was flying in over the wooded area a couple hundred yards away from Often. He was skimming along the ground, towards his home on his personal dinghy. He found it fascinating that all this "nautical boat talk" was reused for spacecrafts. However, that was the last thing on his mind as he was currently being pursued by several other enhanced dinghys--a raiding party. He was just dropping off some passengers aboard his ketch in the local harbor (hooray nautical lingo) when some bandits recognized the basic dinghy design as belonging to a steamboat class ship (which it originally did, but was taken and added to one of his ketch class' bays) and decided to rob it blind, seeing as how the steamboats weren't very fast, agile or dependable.

Dodging the gun fire by zig-zagging around rock outcroppings and trees, Often was getting impatient. He shouldn't have to wait this long to get picked up by his own ketch. Turning the handle more, he increased his speed, making his twists and turns hairpin and much more dangerous.

"Дерьмо, это в последний раз, когда я иду соло!" <"Shit, this is the last time I go solo!"> he said as he turned and saw the gang gaining on him. Looking at the leader of the pack, he saw the metal plate covering his jaw and a tiny glint of gold in the middle of it all, where his mouth would be. He wondered what it would come down to. What would he do if he was forced to fight?

Finally, after a shot grazed the side of his dinghy, he saw his ketch. It was resting just above the ground, facing Often and his pursuers. He did a 180-degree turn, slammed his dinghy into reverse and went sliding into the waiting hatch while making a face at the leader, who screamed some sort of vow to kill Often someday.

The Reckless Abandon stayed low to the ground and fly by, just over the heads of the gold-toothed man and his cronies, leaving their dinghies to become faulty in it's wake. Some dipped and crashed into the ground, some went spinning off a couple yards away, and the dinghy belonging to the man with gold teeth was flipped over, bottom in the air. He fell to the ground with a heavy thud and cursed Often's name, spitting into the dirt.

07 January, 2013

self-measurement (the kind you can tell your ANYbody about)

Eight years ago, a friend of mine told me about a writing competition, in which you weren't actually competing against anyone, there were no prizes, and all you got at the end was the novel you worked on. I think it's a fitting metaphor, don't you? Anyway, I decided to check it out and see what sort of stories I had locked inside of me. This is, according to the dividing scheme I was using, the first quarter of chapter one.

I think it's a little cringe-worthy, but I was also eighteen. I had just graduated high school and thought I was the man. I present it to you here, now, to show progress. This is where I was, this is where I am, and here's where I hope to be. This story was called "Reckless Abandon" and when I found out about Firefly and Serenity later on, I would be so incredibly disappointed by my now-apparent lack of creativity.

Oh, by the by, I never did wind up finishing this story, but, if it's enjoyed, I have the other three quarters of Chapter One, and the first quarter of Chapter Two. And so, without further ado, may I present to you, unedited any more than it was when I originally posted it to my nanowrimo-livejournal, all the way from 2005, Reckless Abandon, Chapter One, Part One: Bounty Hunter.
"Nothingk against you, personally. I vould like to conteenue thees des-gussion, I just am in mood to be alone right now, so I vill have to feenish you off, da?" mumbled a figure to the drink he was holding in front of him in a Russian accent that grew more and more pronounced with every drink he finished. His most recent drink, in response to his drunken, hardly decipherable statement, sloshed around inside the shot glass and then calmed itself, allowing his gaze to stare unapologetically at itself. He at first thought this lack of a response was rather rude of his drink, which he paid good money for, then settled on the idea that it didn't really matter ('Nothingk deed aynymore,' he reasoned.) and emptied the glass.

Heavy drinking aside, there was something about this man that automatically distinguished him from other men. If you saw him standing in a crowd, you would instantly remember him. It's that he has two circular scars on his cheeks. When he was a few years younger, seven, to be exact, he went out for his twenty-first birthday. He and his friends went out for drinks, then went and played in a construction site. He had climbed high up on a ladder that wasn't sturdy. After one drunken lurch too many by it's occupant, the whole ladder tipped over and he fell down, impaling his face on a metal pole that was sticking up out of the ground. He considered himself lucky to have had his mouth open at the moment of impact, or he might have shattered his skull.

Starting to think about that night again, he slammed his glass down onto the bartop and ordered another, requesting that the bartender to leave the bottle. It was going to be a long night. It was much drearier in the saloon than usual. He just sat at the bar in silence, his black mantle draped over his midnight blue shirt (he had been very particular on the color in the store) and the bottom half of a black jumpsuit. His knee-high black boots with three silver buckles going up the calf rested on the brass footrest beneath the bar.

In fact, the saloon was more than just drearier than usual, it was downright macabre. A couple dead bodies (looted, of course) were strewn about the floor, randomly. One of the swinging doors leading into the saloon itself was missing it's top hinge. Someone had programmed the self-playing piano to play only the gloomiest songs. There were men with various limbs missing sitting at tables, drinking their problems away. Even the bartender, a nice fellow with always a humorous anecdote to share, seemed affected by whatever caused this dreariness.

Someone outside had just been shot, and the victor stumbled in through the swinging doors, bumping into the one missing a hinge and knocking it to the floor, giving a couple tables a good view of the dead body, lying in the middle of the torch-lit dirt street. Up to the bar he shuffled and sat down without a word, staring at the bartop.

His eyes were wide and his face somber. He was a young lad, no older than twenty, and this had been his first drunken duel. The small amount of booze he had wasn't enough to hide the fact of what happened. After a couple minutes of staring at the bartop, he slowly raised his head and told the bartender to bring him a bottle of the strongest liquor available, for he needed to forget what he had just done.

It was at about this time that the first man, the drunk with the Russian accent, came under the delusion that a gang of thieving babies were going to come around and steal his vocal chords. He decided to beat them at their own game. Somehow, he rationalized that by using his vocal chords, he wouldn't have any, so the voice thieves would skip him. Don't ask me, it's a drunk's logic.

"Hey, braht. Brahtver," he waved at the boy sitting next to him, and when he received no response, he pushed the seemingly catatonic boy lightly with a black-gloved hand. The boy fell from his stool onto the ground. No sooner had he swayed from his perch at the bar did a gun fire, the bullet missing both him and the drunk's hand by millimeters. It exploded a bottle of whiskey behind the bar and finally stopped when it buried itself in the back of the cupboard. The room was instantly silenced.

The boy, now standing himself back up, looked around, bewildered, as though he had just awakened from a deep slumber. At the sight of the drunk with his arm still reached out towards him, he started to run towards the door, but stopped in his tracks when he discovered he was facing down a shotgun barrel. The rest of the saloon started chatting again, seeing as how this was almost a daily occurance, someone being on the wrong end of someone else's bad side and gun. People get shot and died. So it goes, as they say.

"Don't move a muscle, kid, or I'll blow yer brains out!" screamed the owner of the shotgun barrel, which was attached to a handle and assorted other parts normally found on this brand of shotgun. He was actually a rather clean man. His hair was slicked back and he was clean shaven, not that you could see either. His hair was covered by a bandanna and the bottom half of his face was covered with a metal plate, with a hole for talking, through which you could see his solid gold teeth. From what little of his face one could see, it looked as though he'd been through Hel and back. He wore a white cotton shirt over a thin layer of body armor and under a black vest. Bounty hunter--that was his title, even if it was self-given.

Swiveling around and facing the drunk man (with his arm still stuck out) he pointed the shotgun in his direction. This was the man who had single-handedly brought the world--all worlds--crashing down around him wherever he went. And yet, here he was, completely wasted and pushing guys off their barstools. It seemed sad, almost. Until you realized what he's done, that is.

"Often Caoine! This day was s'posed ta be glorious fer meh! But I found yeh in a stinkin' bar. Not even a classy 'un, either. Things en't lookin' up fer yeh, are they? Ha ha ha!" He levelled the shotgun at Often's chest. He actually didn't want to kill the bastard this way. He had hoped that Often would have been able to put up at least some resistance.

Having an idea, the bounty hunter turned the gun back to the young boy.

"Often Caoine! Yeh'll fight me or I'll shoot th' lad!" He looked around for the teenager, who had started creeping out the door, and at this new statement, bumped into a table and started to run. Before he could get more than a step beyond that point, he was clubbed over the head with the butt of the shotgun.

"Yeh can't go nowhere if I'm ter use yeh as bait, kid. Even you shoulda known something as simple as that." After making sure the kid was out cold and wouldn't start running off again, he turned back to Often and aimed the gun square at his chest. Or, he would have, if Often wasn't standing right in front of him.

"Heh. Ваше оружие не загружено," <"Your gun is not loaded."> Often said, unaware that, due to his drunken disposition, he had lapsed back into his native tongue. "Слушайте, этот свет, который должен быть хорошим оттенком темно-синий, уродливый желтый цвет. Это означает, что ваше обвинение мертво." <"Look, this light that is supposed to be a nice shade of blue is an ugly yellow color. That means your charge is dead.">

At the confused look on the bounty hunter's face, he realized what was causing this miscommunication. As he opened his mouth to sloppily translate, a shot rang out, silencing the saloon once more, as they once again tried to figure out who let the bullet fly, and who the unlucky sod was on the receiving end of it. It had harmlessly buried itself in the floor, but before anyone had figured that out, the unknown gunslinger let another one ring out. In this bullet's fury, it hit the shotgun and sent it flying out of the bounty hunter's hands, much to all involved's surprise.

"Nah boys, I know y'all wasn't fightin' in my saloon, were ya?" said a feminine voice with a very noticable drawl. "T'wouldn't be very gentl'menly of y'all, y'know. 'Spesh'ly with a lady such as m'self present. Ah might get skeered 'r somethin'." She spun her pistol around on her finger and then slid it into it's holster at her hip. And what a hip it was, Often later wrote, beautiful in it's curvature. It wasn't the only thing on her most men considered beautiful. Her face was heart-shaped and posessed lips that always seemed to be pouting. Her eyes were the most unnatural shade of green that anyone in this area had ever seen. When she let it down, auburn hair framed her beautiful, bronze face and flipped up a little, just above her shoulders.

She walked up to the two men and looked from one to the other as she crossed her arms and waited for an answer to her question. The bounty hunter stepped up, cleared his throat, and began to speak.

"No, ma'am. We was just talkin' 'bout the ramif'cashuns of havin' much too much to drink, as in this poor boy layin' on tha ground, here," he said, gesturing to the boy he had knocked out just before she had entered the saloon. He smiled as innocently as he could, although that's not saying much with his sharp, angular face and pointed eyebrows, making his innocent smile seem a little creepier than it should.

She looked from the bounty hunter to the drunk and back again, sighing. She sized up both men, winked at Often, and told the bounty hunter to take his guns and put them in the safety-deposit box at the door, just like everyone else, or leave. It was there to stop incidents like this from happening. The only time people actually used it, however, was when they heard that the sheriff, this petite, almost Southern belle of a woman, was approaching.

The bounty hunter took up her offer to leave, after coming to the conclusion that he didn't want to share a bar with "some Russian, old Earth punk," to sugarcoat it some (and by some, I mean greatly). However, he didn't depart before offering up a final warning to Often.

"You lissen up, fool. There're bounties on all of yer crew for what yew did, and I be fixin' to claim 'em all. They say yer all worth more together, so I'll be gath'rin' you-all up, as I heard some of yer crew're only a few towns over. Then I'll be comin' back fer you."

"Bounties? Awn this fella? What fer?" asked the sheriff, putting her hands on her hips.

"Heh," laughed the bounty hunter. "Wouldn't yeh like ta know, woman." Curling his lip, he picked up his shotgun, rested the barrel on his shoulder and walked out the saloon, planning on getting his bounty on Often Caoine, even if it was the last thing he ever did.

03 January, 2013

Winter Blues (A Theme Thursday Long-ish Short Story)

I woke up late in the day. Again. I was having a particularly bad dream, and having mixed feelings about having woken up one more time. I sighed and began reflecting on how intensely my dreams mirrored almost exactly the actual events a whole year later. Not to mention that my legs still hate me. The dream was about the accident, which I suppose makes sense, as this time last year, I (myself, my body. I didn't have a car at that point) was side-swiped by a Jeep.


I had been walking up a dangerously sloped and curved hill to meet up with some woman I was being set up on a blind date with. She was...an artist? I think? It didn't really matter, as I hadn't made it to the date. Hell, I didn't even want to go on it. It was the end of December, which meant it was the coldest point of the year, and I had actually been considering moving to a Southern state, or even near (or on) the Equator. Or the Sun. I heard it almost never gets cold on the Sun.

Instead of being out and social, I just wanted to be hibernating, but I was told again and again that I get moody when the only person I talk to at home is my cat. I, according to my friends, need to be in a relationship.

These were the thoughts I was trying to block out as I was listening to my mp3 player while speedwalking to keep from freezing to death, when a car's horn cut through the music. I looked up in time to see a green Jeep Cherokee whip around a car trying to pull onto the hill, and it practically flew into the first turn. I thought that the driver must either be a psycho or drunk, as the holiday season ended tonight at midnight. Either way, I was just glad to be on the other side of the road, going up while it was going down.

Which is what would have happened if there hadn't been a patch of black ice that stretched across the street. I stopped walking so I could provide a witness statement to this drunkard's accident when he struck the invisible strip of ice and shot into the right lane at a 45-degree angle and directly at me.

It gets kind of fuzzy from there, but I can remember some still shots. The first one is of the look on the driver's face. He looked serene, almost calm. His eyes were closed and he was smiling! I later found out that he had a vision of his death the night previous. That face was him apparently surrendering to his god. Douchebag.

The next is the Jeep hitting a second ice patch and launching into a spin. I remember thinking it looked like a top and smiling at the memory of one of my favorite childhood toys instead of engaging my goddamn legs.

The next photograph comes mostly in black, with those red lightningbugs that shoot into your vision from squeezing them too tight. It's a different sensation. This isn't a visual photo. It's tactile, as this is the moment I was smacked by the rear end of the Jeep and began my arc into the street. I remember the sound of my foot breaking on the downbeat of some song I can't listen to anymore, as it gives me panic attacks and the feeling of my arm dislocating, the smell of gasoline and the taste of blood in my mouth. And the blackness.

Long story short, I flew across the street, bounced off a small, red Saturn parked there, and landed in a heap on the sidewalk.


Rolling stiffly over to lean on my elbows, I look at my alarm clock, resting on the windowsill, to see how much of my day I've wasted. The first thing I notice is that the sun is setting. I feel like shit now, but my clock is telling me it's only 330p.

"That's not so bad, eh?" I say to Penelope, my gray tabby, curled up in her cardboard box. She doesn't even look up at me, choosing to start snoring instead. Bitch. I decide that maybe it's time for me to do something instead of moping. I push the blankets half off of me before rushing them back up. I'm freezing. And in my own goddamn bedroom, too.

"Let's try something else, P," I grunt to her. She is still fast asleep. I wrap my comforters around my body, cocooning myself, and slide my legs off the bed. The bottoms of my feet instantly become gangrenous upon touching the floor. The blood can't circulate fast enough to keep the tissue warm and alive.

At least, that's what it feels like. I mumble some swears as I yank my feet back up and then drape the comforters over them so when I stand back up, they'll be between my feet and the floor. And it works! In my little cocoon, I shuffle into the bathroom to prepare myself for the day. The shower's hot water arrives after five minutes (and sixteen seconds, for you statisticians) and departs four minutes (and fifty-six seconds) later.

I towel-dry off, and shuffle back into my room. I throw on four layers on both top and bottom as quickly as I can. My jacket, hat, gloves, boots (over three pairs of socks), and scarf go on, and then I decide it's time for me to go to the post office, as I am expecting a package today.

I make it outside, which is a notable event as this is the first time since early September (we had an early Winter and no Autumn) that I have left my apartment. The driveway is shovelled and it actually turns out to be a nice day for a walk. I begin thinking to myself that I'll have to do this more often. Maybe it's time for a complete change. Maybe I'll build snowmen, or go sledding, or visit a friend with some hot cocoa.

I realize, at this point, that I am beaming with hope. Things are going to change, I can feel it! However, I don't even get a chance to finish the thought before I can see one of my own feet almost in the middle of my field of vision as I look straight ahead, causing me to fall down. 'How ironic,' I think to myself on the way down. 'This year, I am the one who hit a patch of ice.'

My head bounces off the railroad ties my landlord uses for planters in front of the building, and I wind up rolling onto the sidewalk, perfectly out of view of the street due to a snowbank, and the building itself because of the stupid shrubs and trees in the planter being coated in snow. I start to panic, because with the the rest of the tenants all working second-shift, I'm the only one home for a long while, and with the forecasted blizzard tonight, no one's walking, they're all driving to the store for supplies to wait out the snowmageddon, as the local news is calling it.

Once again, everything fades to black within moments of striking the ground. The last thing I remember thinking is "Goddamn it, I hate winter so goddamn much."