Friday, July 24, 2015

The 'No Help Whatsoever' Desk

Back when I was an IT monkey, I was occasionally asked to do a bit of technical writing.  I don't like technical writing, much preferring its more pleasant cousin narrative, but hey; I was the novelist, and i was being asked to write.  What can I say?  

The thing is, I would make two letters; one was exactly what was asked for, while the other ... was not. This was meant as a joke, of course, and most of the people laughed.  One actually turned his in, not bothering to read any of what I had written ... or as I like to say, Karma happened.

Anyway, here's one such letter.  I've censored the name and address of the guy in question, but everything else is exactly as it was when I first wrote it.



To whom it may concern;

Thank you for taking the time opening this letter.  The grace and agility you displayed in liberating this message from its papery tomb was a sight to behold; certainly, no one would dare stand against one with such magnificent talent with a letter opener.

To get directly to the matter at hand … are you sitting down?  Comfortable?  Would you like a cup of hot cocoa?  I know the weather lately has been so frightfully cold.  It is important in such times that we take care of our bodies.  I have extra marshmallows if you’d like.  No?  Very well then.  How can I help you? 
Of course!  How simple of me.  I must’ve lost track of the purpose of this letter.  I can hardly be blamed; you always keep the conversation so enthralling that I scarcely remember why I first came calling!  All that aside, I am writing this letter in regards to a man who wishes to … you know, now that I think of it, I don’t recall if he wishes to rent or to purchase a house.  Most embarrassing; my memory isn’t what it used to be, I’m afraid.  

 In any case, he wishes to do something with one of your houses, and he has asked me to write … me?  Oh, well, I’m of no importance, but the company I work for is ‘upgrading’ the local water meters.  Not all of them of course; only those who have forgone paying our ‘water protection’ fee.  After all, without the extra protection we provide, their meters will undoubtedly need extra measures to maintain proper functionality.  What if, hypothetically, of course, the resident’s car were to suddenly and unexpectedly explode while passing the meter, and a fragment of flaming metal were to penetrate the digital reading?  What a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting meant for the resident’s pets/children were to accidentally cause a break in the water line?  It would be most disastrous, as I’m sure you will agree.

Dear me, I seem to have drifted away from the matter at hand, that being (censored), a fine gentleman who wishes to peruse a house from you.  I assure you that this man, this gentleman, this wonder of skill and talent, would make a fine tenant/homeowner.  I’ve no doubt you’ve examined his other credentials and references, and as such am sure you will see that those fires had nothing to do with him whatsoever. 
I would also like to take a moment to speak about a certain former room-mate that has no doubt come up in your preliminary inquiries to the esteemed Mister (blank)’s past accommodations; a Mister Perence Millwater.  Mister Millwater has no doubt made some wild claims as to Mister (nope)’s activities; the reanimation of dead tissue, molecular engineering, the supposed ‘zombification’ of transients, and of course, genetic manipulation.  I can guarantee that these claims are almost completely unfounded, and are in fact meant to slander Mister (still not gonna)’s good name and character.  The basement of 797 Wisehower St. was always filled with gelatinous slime, and the testimonies given by the supposed ‘witnesses’ of the eleven abductions my client supposedly committed are believed to be fraudulent.

I could go on and on about Mister (give it a rest)’s financial stability, but I’m sure that is unnecessary.  Surely, you understand that allowing him to rent/purchase a house from you is the best course of action to take.  If you still need convincing, simply leave your office and approach the black limousine sitting outside, where my associates will be more than happy to impress upon you the quality of Mister (no, not even now)’s character.

Thank you again for your time, and I hope you will make the right decision.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Odd Occurrence



I had an odd experience last night I wanted to write down before it fades from memory.  I suppose I should give a little background; I’m a night watchman at (REDACTED).  I requested the night shift specifically; I like the graveyard shift.  Yes, it pretty much kills the prospect of a normal life, but seeing as I just passed my thirty-fourth birthday without so much as a single prospect for romance, I’ve pretty much given up on having that kind of life.  I’m a writer, and I’m happy with that … doesn’t stop be from being wistful, though.

Anyway, I’ve worked graveyards for a long time, and the security job is right up my alley; with the exception of some scheduling shenanigans I won’t get into, it was quiet, peaceful, and allowed me to continue my writing while still doing my job. The only downside is that I have to sleep in the day; it’s not as big a problem as it used to be; my roommates and I have an understanding about staying quiet while someone else in the house is sleeping, and only need the occasional reminder.  It does, however, mean that if I need to get up in the middle of the day, it’s usually still light enough out to see. 

If you’ve ever worked graveyard shifts, however, you no doubt are aware that although your body can eventually become accustomed to sleeping in the day and working at night, it never fully adjusts.  One day is all it takes for your body to switch back, leaving you effectively back at square one when you go back to work.  As much as I tried not to let that happen, I must confess some part of me does yearn for being social, if only for a bit. I like hanging out with my roommates, watching movies and playing games and such.  Because of this, I tend to sleep at night on my days off.

It was one such ‘weekend’ (in fact, my days off were Tuesday and Wednesday) that I woke up after a particularly loud snore.  I peered up at my computer blearily for a few moments as my groggy mind struggled to make the transition from the dream realm back to the mainstream.  The wall of text on the screen was part of the fourth Dreamer’s Knight book, a chapter I had been struggling to finish for a time now.  After a few minutes of staring at the screen, my eyes final focused on the time: 2:36. My last waking memories flitting back to my head, I fumbled for the mouse, saved the file, and shut down my computer so I could go to bed.

I didn’t even get to sit down before my bladder send an urgent signal to my brain.  With a groan, I staggered out of my room and into the darkness of the house.  I could navigate the kitchen easy enough, thanks to all the LEDs on the various appliances. Using a bourbon glass, I poured myself a quick drink of blue kool aid (not sure on the flavor; it was blue, and I’ve always had a fascination with blue drinks) before continuing toward the bathroom.

There are two bathrooms in our house; one’s part of the master bedroom, and therefore only accessible to the good Captain, who pays the mortgage.  The other is at the far end of the hall, third door on the left.  As I’m usually making this run with daylight, I was forced to resort to slowly walking down the hall, one hand touching the wall.  The first frame was the broom closet.  From behind the second, I could hear two sets of light breathing; the Captain and his ‘it’s complicated’. Finding the third door, I ran my hand across the door until I found the handle. Wincing a little at the cold feel of the metal, I started to open the door when a flood of light made me pull my hand and use it to shield my eyes from the sudden light.

My other roommate, Ishee, stepped out of the brightly lit room, a sleepy look on his face.  “Hey Alan.” He mumbled before shuffling off to his room.
I stared at the open door for a few moments before I realized it was the bathroom.  I quickly looked back at the handle I grabbed, only to see a blank wall. 

As much as I love fantasy, I’m not an idiot; I obviously misjudged my distance down the hallway and mistaken what I touched. Still, I wanted to write about this because of that single moment of fear, of horror that ran through me.  I’ve long been a fan of horror movies, games, and creepypasta readings, all in search of that strange thrill of being actually scared, but it’s been a long time since something got my blood pumping like that moment in the hallway.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dream Log #1

I was digging in some older directories and uncovered part of an old dream journal.  I'll be posting the entries here; I have to say, reading some of these, I honestly can't remember having them in the first place anymore.  Still, you know how much I love the dream realm.
-----
6-25-2012



I'm on a train that also seems to be some kind of bookstore (?) Almost immediately, I'm under the impression that I've done something wrong.  My Mom is there, seeming rather ambivalent towards the whole thing, while the other mothers (aside from the ones I recognize, I know they are mothers In the side car) seem disapproving.  I eventually come to the conclusion that a tag in my dress (In case you haven't figured it out, I am male) is showing for some reason, but not before a disconcerting encounter with the book seller, who won't give me a proper version of a movie I have for some reason; the first disc is scored with words, something about a disc blocking the way or a disc stopping something.  

 My friend, Cody Knight (note: Cody and I were in elementary school together ... and haven't seen each other for over a decade. I was always a bit jealous of his red hair and cool demeanor) is there, as are others I faintly recognize, but something seems fairly off about all of them.  I gradually realize that Cody is also viewed disapprovingly; while trying to write down the name of the book/movie (wanting to pick up the book since I can't get the movie), I ask Cody for a pen, only to see a girl with dark red hair staring at me, sitting where Cody used to be sitting.  I ask around, but Cody isn't just gone; nobody seems to know who he is.  The book was something like the Magic of Majerie or something like that, and was a multi-disc affair.   I also seem to recall making some kind of call; not sure what it was about.

That girl's stare was intense, and even more off-setting because she seemed to anticipate me looking up to ask Cody … as if she wanted me to know she knew I was going to ask.  And what was with that book?  Cor, I wish I remembered the name of the book.  It seems important.  It was a book and a movie; that seemed to be the thing.  I couldn't have access to the movie because the first disc had been marked, but apparently reading the book wasn't out of the question (Cody was reading the book, he confirmed this).  Was the fact that I was a girl (I was wearing a dress, after all) some kind of indication?  Did Cody turn into that girl, or did he disappear?  Was there some connection to the pre-dream, where I was dealing with some kind of sealed away force?  I remember feeling annoyed that someone had prepared traps and wards to deal with the force, but after so much time, no one remained who knew how to deal with them.

There was another segment, but it may have been past the awareness point; I was on some kind of dark rusty train, straight out of a silent hill game, and something tall and nasty with a scythe quickly took notice of me.  However, I summoned Truth with no problem, which seemed to scare it away.  Even if not past the awareness point, this seems to verify the nature of the Truth Manifestation; it responds when the wielder's will is firm (I remember not being afraid), and its mere presence is enough to dissuade most of the Dream Realm's dark denizens.
-----
That last bit I do recognize; in the Elsewhere Universe, Dreamers can summon what is known as 'Defiance', a sort of soul weapon that takes a form specific to that Dreamer.  I think I was going with calling the phenomenon 'Truth' at the time, though I can't remember what form my Defiance took in that Dream.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Romance, Shromance




I’m single.  Yeah, another big shock there, huh?  Thing is, unlike the social interaction thing, being single all my life is something that’s bothered me over the years. And before we even get into this, this isn’t about sex.  I know it’s an ugly truth, but hey; I’m a guy.  If it’s sexual gratification I’m after, I don’t need or necessarily even want assistance. I’ve never cared about sex, as even as a kid who barely understood a thing about social interaction, I knew that sex alone couldn’t sustain a relationship.  It always seemed to me … still seems to me, in fact, that a true romance would need to be based in friendship to have a chance to succeed.  Part of this came from my parents, still together after all these years and happy … with the occasional squabble here and there, but hey; friends don’t always get along either. 

I remember my first crush, a little girl named Leeanne Nyugen. Didn’t like me of course, and I don’t blame her. I was a little spaz (no insult intended; I probably would’ve been diagnosed with ADD, had people been more sensitive about such things at the time). It wasn’t until years later when I befriended a girl named Bridget Cunningham that I felt a genuine affection in me, an affection that grew over time. I carried her books for her, how often I can’t remember, but I do remember enjoying talking with her.  She always seemed to wait for me, too, and greeted me with a smile.
Then one day it clicked; I realized I liked her more than just a friend. I worried about what to tell her all day … but she wasn’t there.  It wasn’t until walking home with a mutual friend that I found out she had moved. 

It crushed me, in the way that only a lost love could crush the spirit of a teenager. It wasn’t until my senior year that I found someone else I liked. Mindy Reed, I believe it was; she was pretty and shy like me (er, the shy part, I mean), and she seemed nice enough to talk to. I made her a nice valentine (with a poem I found on a magic the gathering card. Shut up; it was an excerpt from Arabian Nights). For a time, it seemed great; I walked her to class on the rare occasions we met each other in the halls, and even mustered up the nerve to call her a few times. I probably annoyed the heck out of her, as I can’t imagine I had anything interesting to say, and the one story I was writing was, to put it bluntly, pretty damn bad. Still, she didn’t say so.  I tried to ask her out a few times, but something always seemed to come up; my stupid job ad McDonalds, friends we intended to double-date with cancelling, parents coming down on me because my sister was pregnant (don’t ask; I never understood it either, though I suspect they used me as an outlet for their anger and disappointment at her).  Eventually, she broke it off with me, but even then in a nice way.  I was still crushed, but I didn’t blame her.  I always wanted to apologize to her for just accepting it like that. I worry that she thought I just didn’t care.  I did; I still wanted to go out with her, to maybe have a relationship … but by that point, some part of me realized that I just didn’t know how.  Didn’t know how to date, to be a boyfriend … none of it.

There were one or two other girls, but looking back, I feel I was just on the verge of stalking them.  Not intentionally, of course; I still just didn’t understand the whole relationship thing.  It wasn’t until one of them passed a message to me about it that I realized my strange behavior.  I stopped immediately, of course; I never wanted to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and for that, I apologize to them as well: Stephanie Kelly and … er, the other girl whose name escapes me.

That was over a decade ago.  I still don’t understand relationships, and fear I’ll probably die alone in that regard.  I’m resigned to the fact that if there is a woman out there for me, she’ll probably make the first move and will ultimately lead me around by the nose. I’m fine with that, though; I’m a Dreamer, after all.  And if there is no one, if I am destined to die a single virgin, I can deal with that too. I’m not really alone, after all, not anymore.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Wings of Freedom: An Elsewhere Tale

Time for another short story, one that addresses the idea that Dreamers always work with the good guys.


The Wings of Freedom

The prince was unceremoniously thrown forcefully into the cell.  Turning over on the ground, he looked back at the two guards who had ‘escorted’ him to the chamber. 
 
Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed the bars and hissed, “You will pay for this.  You, your families, your goddamn pets … I’ll strangle them with my bare hands!”

The face of one of the guards went bright red.  He stepped forward, only to be held back by the other.  

"He’s not worth it." She hissed in his ear.  "He’ll feel the headsman’s axe tomorrow anyway."

The offended guard glared angrily at the jailed prince for a moment longer before turning away and heading for the door, the other guard following suite a moment later. 

"I’ll make everyone you even cared for pay in blood!" The prince screamed as she closed the heavy iron door. 

His only answer was a series of heavy clicks followed as numerous deadbolts slid into place, securing the prince in the cell.

Still fuming, the prince looked at his surroundings.  The cell was essentially a heavy iron cage in the center of a small room with metal walls.  There were no windows, no doors save the one, and a small vent to allow the circulation of air. 

"Okay, okay." He murmured, massaging his temples.  "This isn’t a problem.   They’ll come to get me once they realize what happened.  I just need to wait."

He spent the next few hours brooding on his cot, imagining all the horrible and foul things he’d do to the people who wronged him.  Not just the guards, mind; the prince had a sharp mind and a perfect memory; every person who wronged him from the jester who dared to make a joke about the prince to the King of the miserable little keep in which he was now imprisoned would feel his wrath. 

As the hours of night began to wane, the prince felt a slow desperation begin to seep though him.  Where were they?  They were supposed to be watching over him.  They were supposed to be helping him.

His ear twitched as one of the deadbolts slid back into place with a loud thunk. 

"Finally!" He exclaimed, clambering to his feet and moving as close to the door as his cell allowed.  "It’s about damn time!"

One by one, the deadbolts slid back into place.  As the door finally opened with a loud creak, the muffled sound of conversation from the other side became clear.

"Chinese?  We haven’t had chinese in awhile." Said the first man to enter, a thin fellow in a white robe.

A dark-skinned woman with a guitar slung over her shoulder stepped into the room behind the robed man.  “I dunno, Jay.  The last time we had chinese, I was sick for a week.  How about Sushi?”

"Come on, Melody; we do sushi on Friday, and it’s only Wednesday.  How about Mexican?  Some nachos would be killer right now."

"Hmm."  The woman scratched her chin as she considered.

The Prince screamed, “Where the hell have you two been, you incompetent buffoons?  You’re supposed to be keeping me safe, not disappearing when the palace guards start chasing me!”

"Geez, man." Said the robed man.  "Chill out already."

"Chill out?  They’re going to execute me!  Do you know what that means?  They’re going to kill me!"

"Well, yeah, man!  You tried to force yourself on that poor girl; even if she wasn’t a princess, you’d be in some serious trouble."

"She was promised to me!" The prince said defiantly.  "That makes her my property, and I can do whatever I damn please with her!"

There was a definite drop in the room temperature at the prince’s comment.  Melody opened her mouth only to be interrupted by Jay snapping his fingers.

"Italian!" He said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.  "There’s a great little bistro I used to visit in New York that makes a great meatball calzone!"

The prince stood dumbfounded, which gave Melody enough time to say, “Oh, that sounds good, but those things run right through me.  Maybe a sub sandwich?”

"I’m going to be killed in a couple of hours!" The prince screamed.  "Stop talking about food!"

"Well, we’re hungry!" Melody snapped.  "It hasn’t been easy keeping an eye on you for the past few weeks."

Jay nodded at the prince, adding, “You are a bit of a prat.”

"Excuse me?" The prince was livid.  "It isn’t for sub-creatures like you to question the bloodline of kings."

"Sub-creatures?!" Melody said, outraged.  "We are Dreamers of the Elsewhere Incorporate.  We can twist reality into whatever shape we need."

"And you have to do what I say." There was an air of smugness about the prince as he continued, "That’s what you said, right?  You’re here to make sure I’m right where I’m supposed to be."

Jay scratched his bearded chin.  “That is what I said.”

"And my proper place is on the throne!  I am the last heir to King Jonas, not that low-born thug Matthaius.  As such, I demand you get me out of here and help me deal with that horrible whelp."

"Horrible?" Melody began to circle the cage, one finger tapping against the bars.  "Let’s talk about horrible, shall we?  The first time we met, you had just tried to steal the gold from a travelling merchant."

"I am to be king." The prince said stiffly.  "Everything in this realm is mine."

"Next," Melody continued as though she hadn’t heard him, "You nearly kicked a beggar to death for the crime of asking for a single coin."

The prince snorted.  “I’ve no time for such scum.  If she couldn’t work, she deserved to starve.”

"And the gypsy who gave you a bad fortune?  The child who accidentally splashed mud on you?  The guard who tried to help you up when you slipped?  The town crier who had the misfortune of passing just a little too close to your window?  If we had left you to your own devices, how many of them would you have killed and/or robbed?"

"You wouldn’t understand.  I will be king!  I must act like a king!"

Jay snickered.  “I dunno, Mel; sounds like a king to me.”

"You’re not helping." Melody told him. 

"Neither are you!" The Prince kicked at his cot.  He wanted it to go flying against the cell walls for dramatic effect, and only ended up with a sore foot when the bolted down cot didn’t move an inch.  "It’s not for you to understand, it’s not for you to judge."

"He might have a point." Jay suddenly grinned.  "Pizza?"

"FOR GOD’S SAKE!" The Prince screamed, his voice nearly breaking, "STOP TALKING ABOUT FOOD!  I COMMAND YOU TO GET ME OUT OF THIS CELL AND HELP ME RETAKE THE THRONE LIKE YOU SAID!"

There was a long pause as the two Dreamers traded glances. 

"Let me tell him." Melody asked, clasping her hands together.  "Please let me tell him."

Jay shrugged and waved at the Prince.  “Be my guest.”

"Thank you." Melody smiled briefly at her partner before she turned her sights on the prince.  "We didn’t say anything about installing you on the throne."

"Don’t be stupid!" The prince snapped.  "You said you were here to put me where I was supposed to be!"

"And here you are." Melody leaned closer to the bars, adding in a softer tone, "In a cell beneath the true king’s castle, all ready for the chopping block in the morning."

"How dare-"

"I dare because you would have treated that poor princess like a sex slave until she committed suicide.  I dare because you would’ve murdered innocent people just because you didn’t like the look of them."  She leaned close enough to the bars for the prince to see the fire in her eyes. "I dare because you would’ve led this country to war, all to expand your empire."

The prince shrank back from the look on Melody’s face. “W-what?  What are you talking about?”

"I’m talking about the future, prince." Melody began to circle the cell again.  "You see, you didn’t need us to retake the throne; a sneaky little bugger like you would’ve found a way.  There are always those tempted by power, and they would’ve helped you kill the true king just for a chance at power.  They wouldn’t have gotten it, of course; you’d have them killed as well just to cover your tracks.  Or maybe because you’re a sadistic little bastard."

"You’d be stopped eventually; all dictators eventually are, but hundreds of thousands of people would die because of you.  Children who would have grown up to be artists or storymakers, or maybe even Dreamers, all dead because of one greedy, beastly, and downright evil little norm."  Melody faced the prince again, this time with a smile on her face that sent chills down the prince’s spine.  "And now none of that is going to happen.  The true king will lead this country into an era of prosperity, all because of us.  Job well done, Jay."

"You too, Melody." Jay paused.  "I’ve got it.  Wings-2-Go."

Melody smile became genuine even as a look of horror spread across the prince’s face.  “Ooh, yes.  I love their chicken quesadillas.”

"Then it’s settled!" With that, Jay approached the door.  With a wave of his hand, it swung shut and the deadbolts slid back into place.

"Nice and secure." Jay turned back to the prince.  "So that’s that.  Have a nice life, kiddo."

"Wait!" The prince said, grabbing the bars as Jay and Melody approached another door that appeared on a previously blank piece of wall.  "You … you can’t just leave me here like this!"

"That’s the thing." Melody said as she followed Jay through the door.  Leaning her head outside the doorway, she smiled at him.  "We can."

The door swung shut and vanished, leaving the prince alone in his cell, unable to appreciate the first rays of dawn that were slowly shining over the castle.  It was just as well; he would have probably been too busy screaming to enjoy it anyway.