“Wh’cha thinkin’ ’bout?”: Walking with My Old Man

Ick… I keep doing this thing where I start a post and then lose heart, interest, or I get hungry and forget that I was writing. The writing then gets shunted off into the drafts, where I come back to it later and think, “Now’s not the time… I’ll get back to this later” (… and then I keep doing that and feel dumb). I started writing this thing a few days after Memorial Day. I think that’s all I need to say to set the scene.

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I found my self oddly struck by an emotional impulse recently. That impulse was to be a bit maudlin. I suppose it was just seeing the right few things at the right few times. These were not particularly heavy or heady things… to be honest, I couldn’t tell you for certain what these things even were. It was somewhat of a glacial movement: a bunch of small sad things that rolled into each other before my eyes with just enough moment to shift my temperament.

They got me to thinking about my old man. My old man… my pa… is passed-on. Late. Joined the choir invisible… (etc., etc., etc.). He died some years ago. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a long time, but I think it was ’07 — I’ve never been much for remembering dates, even  when it’s something monumentally important. He died at the hands of a cancer that developed oh so many years after exposure to hazardous chemicals during the Vietnam War. I’m far from inconsolably torn-up about it now; it’s been a long while since I have actively grieved about the loss of my father. That said, sometimes I think about him. Today is one of those days.

I imagine some might be surprised that it didn’t really occur to me to think about him on Memorial Day — not that he died actively in armed service of the nation, but these days Memorial Day tends to have a certain catch-all quality that extends to anyone who served in the military. I think it didn’t occur to me because I don’t really think of him as having been a “military man”, I think of him first and foremost as my father. I mean no offense by that statement, it’s just that my father retired just about the same time my brain was becoming developed enough to start racking up permanent memories — I remember him picking me up from an on-base preschool once or twice, and letting me idly play with his garrison cap on the ride home (when I think about that/those time(s)). I can almost smell the drying sweat of his bald head from the Georgia heat that would waft up from the cap. I remember him much more as my sage companion and mentor during my Montana childhood and adolescence.

I briefly attended therapy just before my relocation to California. It was a measure taken to help me sort some stuff out enough to finish my dissertation and get my Master’s Degree. I mention this because he came up in a lot of those sessions — what with my therapist rightly thinking that maybe, just maybe, my anxiety/depression issues weren’t all solely connected to some dissertation. There was a lot of reflection on my aforementioned childhood and adolescence, and Pop was a huge part of those periods. I’ve written before about my father — though not here. When I wrote about him before, it was directly reflecting upon the last few weeks of his life. A time when all of my siblings gathered to see him off — one of the few times we had all been in one place. I wrote the piece for a graduate course about Autobiography and Memoir. It is some of the most moving writing I’ve ever done, there was not a dry eye in the house when I read some selections from it for the class. Some day I’ll get around to doing something more with it (maybe I’ll even post it up here), but I currently only have it in hard copy form… alas, I’ll have to retype it. I have not, however, written about some of the thoughts that came up during therapy that I like to think about from time to time. That is something I’m going to try to do here (I apologize if it gets meander-y, but I think it’s appropriate given the subject matter):

My father and I, long before his body was too ravaged by cancer to do so, often took walks. They weren’t really a scheduled thing, we just took a lot of walks that inherently involved conversation. It is possible that it began as a whole-family, evening activity (the whole family meaning “the whole of the family that lived in Montana”, which consisted of myself, my father, my mother, and my closest-in-age brother). I remember a number of evening walks where we’d all go to the nearby park, jaunt through half of the park, cross a bridge leading to a small island, stroll up then down the one road on the island, and then return home via a path through the other half of the park.

They became “me and him” time because my mother ended up working later and later nights (the hazard of being a nurse in a small town), and my brother — like most teens — got busy socializing, rebelling, or sports-ing. I was not particularly interested in the normal teenage stuff: I was social, but had a very small group of often busy friends; I only got caught up in about a quarter of the rebellion of my brother (I had no rebelliousness of my own, and no one wants a kid-brother horning in on their rebellion as it’s too… Leave It to Beaver… when one has a tag-along); and I slowly, but surely, slid away from having a sports physique (I had an advanced mind for tactics when I was very young, but eventually you have to be mentally sharp, and physically fit to continue advancing in sports). And so, my father saw fit to fill that extra time with our walks.

The walks, I believe, served a few purposes: 1) It was some physical exercise, even if if didn’t get me back to “fighting weight” 2) It gave my father a chance to bond with (read: figure out) his oddball, irregular, growing  son through the art of what he would’ve call “jawing” (the spelling doesn’t really do the very slight Kansas/Missouri accent he had justice). Early on, I think he might have been concerned about my oddity. There was a period when my father was asked by teachers if he wanted to put me in a class for children with special needs.

Explanation:
I was always the last kid to turn in assignments… I also took the longest of any of the younglings returning from recess  to switch from outside-clothes to inside-clothes in the winter… I had trouble with tying my shoes… and I didn’t really seem to want to read. These were all small potatoes and/or merely seasonal problems, so the teachers floated the special needs idea to my father without any real certainty or emphasis. My Dad asked if they’d keep an eye on me… As it turned out, I was always busy helping other kids do their homework before I’d turn mine in and I just spaced out in the winter and when it came time to tie my shoes (so keeping me on-task seemed to solve the issues). I was just a little weird. Oh, the reading? Yeah, one summer when the school got brand new  literacy enhancing reading materials, they gave me all the older reading materials that were going to be chucked-out (oddity that I was, I asked if I could have them) and when I came back I was reading at a High School level. The teachers then asked my father if he wanted to put me in an advanced class, to which he responded “let’s just work on gettin’ him to tie his shoes” (an issue eventually solved by the glory of Velcro).

My Dad could see I wasn’t deficient, but he could tell that I was weird. It was new to him. He had raised four kids (my elder siblings) before my brother and I came along, so he thought he had it covered — he was the first to admit he didn’t do a perfect job, but he thought he had surely seen it all… Heck, even though my closest brother engaged a fair amount of  ne’erdowell kid activities, he had a pretty solid idea of how to work with that stuff. He wasn’t, however, prepared for weird. I was the boy who wanted to know how to make diapers for my teddy bears, the kid who would busy himself during the occasional — yet inevitable — timeouts by writing down numbers as he counted them out (only to have forgotten that he was in time out four hours, and gods know how many pages, later…) who never got a solid grasp on math, the kid who would try to invent board games that included everything he ever enjoyed (because I sucked at checkers), the kid who got bored reading kids books (Babe: The Gallant Pig) so instead read his father’s furniture restoration guides and autobiographies (It Doesn’t Take a Hero: The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf), the son who insisted that every writing assignment for one class all take place in the same fictional world (I was a terrible typist too, so he typed the assignments as I dictated and worked out all the kinks with me), etc., etc., etc. I was a different animal than my father had ever dealt with before. So he took a different approach: He walked with me.

The walks (and talks) slowly evolved from being about “figuring me out” to “encouragement and bonding”. That was something I didn’t realize until I talked about it in therapy. My Dad figured normal school structure clearly wasn’t doing what I needed it to do, so I guess he figured, “He likes the walks, let’s start there”. What began as “what the hell am I going to do with this kid?” became an after-school ritual that I daresay he looked forward to as much as I did. I would come home, do whatever settling needed to be done, and then we’d begin to walk. He would always start with “Wh’cha thinkin’ ’bout?” If I hadn’t anything immediately on hand, or we ran out of my topic(s) during the walk, he would tell me all about the things he was thinking. We would talk about whatever idea we had in any — and every — which way we could. If nothing was pressing either of our thoughts, we’d lapse into a brief, but comfortable, silence until something along the way jogged a new idea and we continued conversation’.

In a way, that was my father modelling to me what education and intelligence should be. He always said that it wasn’t about knowing what to think, it was about knowing how to think. Those walks weren’t just physical exercise, they were mental exercises. They’re what I miss most about my old man. The immediate snapshot that jumps into my head when I think about those times is us walking in the fall… all those amber-yellow leaves swirling around on the wide street as we walked by, talking about nothing (and everything) in particular. It was that, and the aforementioned scholastic paper-writing that was a logical extension of the walk/talk template, that came to define my burgeoning adolescence — it also came to define me as the man I am now.

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Well… non-fiction/memoir, that’s something I haven’t put on here before.

Until next time,
~Bret~

A Book Review… (to push back stagnation)

I haven’t been on here in a while, and that’s more-or-less unacceptable… I mean, part of the whole point of this thing was to get me doing more godsforsaken writing. With that in mind, I return to badger the handful of people who occasion to read this thing for reasons beyond my comprehension with a review.

I have, in the past, crammed a handful of book reviews at a time on this bad boy, and I think that has been reflective of my laziness. I will endeavor to write a single, slightly more in depth, review of a single book on here this time (we’ll see how that goes)…

So, the book this time is a book I consumed some time ago, but realized that it has stuck with me the other night… when I returned to it again, for the forth or fifth time since I originally enjoyed it. This is interesting as it is a feat that, for me, has generally been reserved for Harry Potter Books, or pirate-based literature like Treasure Island (which is, admittedly, one that I am reluctant to count as it was the primary piece of literature that I focused on in my Master’s Thesis). Also, Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One makes the list too, because all of the fantastic references make it worth re-reading. In fact, in a roundabout way, it is Ready Player One that got me to this book. I, as you may know, am a huge proponent of audiobooks (it’s by preferred book consumption method), and Wil Wheaton is the narrator of both Ready Player One and the book I’m going to commence reviewing.

Original Cover by Mike  Krahulik (Gabe from Penny Arcade)

Original Cover by Mike Krahulik (Gabe from Penny Arcade)

The book in question is Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi (by the way, his blog also has some of it’s older material published as You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing). Agent was a book that Scalzi wrote as a first foray into the world of writing Sci-Fi — originally it was free via his aforementioned blog. It is not particularly hard Sci-Fi, and I’m not going to bury the lead (any further) in telling you that I think it’s freakin’ great. The plot moves at a fast clip and feels almost cinematic the vast majority of the time. In fact, I’d love it if someone did make a movie based on it. It reads like a wittier My Favorite Martian meets some of Elmore Leonard’s lighter fare (think Get Shorty, or Be Cool): an all the more accurate simile because all the above takes place in Los Angeles, and Get Shorty is about the film industry.

Back to the point, Agent is about the Hollywood escapades of film agent Tom Stein as he gets enlisted to represent space aliens that want to introduce themselves to the planet earth; the aliens are worried that humans are rather apt to paint the arrival of aliens as a bad thing in popular culture. The space aliens in this story are kind, funny, and incredibly endearing. Tom Stein and his employer (Carl Lupo), while portrayed as sharks, also come off as overall good people. All of the secondary characters — even the quasi-antagonistic reporter who is trying to figure out what’s going on — are fun, strongly written, and generally likable (I particularly liked Tom’s assistant Miranda). And above all, shy of the characters intentionally written as dopey (Tom’s lovable earthling acting clients), everyone is entertainingly snarky, with such fun moments as:

  • “Oh, is that all?” I said. “Heck. That’s easy. The answer is no.” “What?” “No.” “No?” “What part of that two-letter word don’t you understand, Brad?” I asked. “Was it the vowel that threw you, or the consonant?”
  • “Until I actually got down here, we were under the impression ‘groovy’ was still current. It’s all those Brady Bunch reruns. Stupid Nick at Night.”
  • …originally from the mean streets of Marin County, where they’ll busta cap in your ass for serving red wine with fish.

He also manages to have some subtle characterization that I really enjoyed. Tom Stein being Jewish is an element that is used deftly, but not terribly overtly. The same can be said for Miranda’s hispanic background. There is a charming, French-Canadian movie director (though that one might also have to do with Wheaton’s voice work). Scalzi even gets in a joke or two with Carl Lupo involving wolf-like characteristics.

Scalzi also does some great stuff with setting. He really describes California in a way I dig. If I’m honest, some of the places he points out actually made me look them up when I got to Los Angeles because he did a good job making me like the places without too much description. Scalzi clearly knows a fair amount about L.A. and the surrounding area and conveys that information palatably. He also takes some amusing shots at Hollywood culture without resorting to terribly painful clichés. Any jokes that one might have some familiarity with are put out there for confirmation and not dwelt upon (attractive people being endemic in Hollywood, etc.). Speaking of, many of his running gags are subtle as well — there are some jokes about the cost of owning a horse farm that are very well played.

In terms of cons, I can only think of one: there was a moment, late in the story, where I felt a bit bludgeoned by some exposition/foreshadowing. It was this a single moment where there was some dialogue that felt almost as if a character was saying “Oh, and I’m going to say this just to make damn sure the audience figures out what’s going to happen next!” That said, it’s a tiny gripe that is only noticeable because the rest is so fun and good. I’m definitely going to have to grab some more Scalzi books.

Current Cover

Cover for the Paperback

Well, that feels like a pretty sufficient review. I’m happy with it.

Till next time folks,
~Bret~

Sci-Fi-futurey Whatnot Fiction

Alright… So I’ve been actually writing today, mostly more of that pirate fiction that I’m always on about. I haven’t reached a point with it that I want to throw it up here yet though… but I wanted to put something up, so I reached back to something that lay dormant from about a month and a half ago. I realized that I was like two or three sentences away from it feeling post-able… so I did.

It’s a Science Fiction bit (as the title of this post implies), that is about a character I made up a long time ago… You see, he was this Arnold Schwarzenegger-ish that had a ’80s / ’90s “Coolness” (I.e. what I thought was a cool action hero in middle school), that I originally took way too seriously when I envisioned him. I remembered him about a month and a half ago and thought it might be fun to write about him, but deliberately take it too far with a goofy version of what I had originally imagined… I mean deliberately hackneyed “cool“, but with a little more sci-fi… He has a talking Knight-rider style car (though it’s more hover-y…and might even be like a small ship), there is a turbo-elevator (called, of course, a turbovator), he smokes “zigars” (which are like sci-fi cigars that have properties that I think I stole from a Phillip K. Dick short story, or movie based on said short story, and an eyepatch (because I’m obsessed with pirates, and they look cool).

I deliberately wanted to write something I could write a bunch of short stories into, sort of like Rafael Sabatini did with the later Captain Blood material. Admittedly, this isn’t even a full short story, but it does some establishing. I will explain that Jack is a futuristic mercenary who works for A.M.M.O. (Armored Militant Mercenary Organization… “Cool“, right) and was a founding member. They send out operatives on missions. I hope it’s as fun to read as it is to think about [Side Note: the formatting is weird, but readable. I hope it isn’t too much of a bother] :

Begin Transmission
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“…Does it have to be me, V?”

“I apologize, sir,” she spoke with the practiced patience often required to be Jack’s Operations handler, “but the mission required an extremely high level operative –”

“You know how much I hate escort missions, V,” Jack interupted.

“– and you are, regrettably, the most competent and available operative,” she finished.

“Excellent back-hand, Verity. You’re being cheeky… and I like it.”

“Anytime, soldier.”

“What’re you wearing?” He said with just a hint of wry.

“Oh, it’s NACH,”

“What’s that, a brand?”

“Not really. it’s an acronym, means ‘not a chance in hell’, sir.”

“Verity, one day I will propose to you, and you will say yes. Until then –”

“Mission objectives?”

“If you’d be so kind.”

“The target is Roxanna Buzan. She was kidnapped for what my dossier lists as ‘a special characteristic’ –”

“Great… So now I’m flying blind.”

“As opposed to usual, when you’re only half blind?”

“Very funny, V,” he responded as he absentmindedly scratched an itch right below his eye-patch.

“She’s been taken to a remote location in Konstameer, sending the specifics to your robo-car, as as usual”

“He has a name, V,” Jack stated in a half-reprimand, half-joke.

“I know, Jack… I guess it’s just that he’s too, I don’t know, too… Polite? It weirds me out, reminds me he’s a construct…”

“Hey, you were just tellin’ me to be more polite. Isn’t that… What’s that word? Hippopotamal?

“You know darned well that the word is hipicritical –”

“I do indeed”

“– and, I don’t know, just give me some time. I just have to get used to it. You’re the only operative in AMMO who has anything like Andrew.”

“Time was, V, when a lot of ops guys had Andrews. They went out of style because you had to read a lot of manuals and tinker with a lot of interfaces and operating systems to get ’em comfortably customized. Most ops guys are meat-heads, V.”

“Not like you, Jack,” Verity said sardonically.

“Why do you think I’m so highly ranked, V? I can read.

At that Verity let out a snort of laughter, then composed herself, and returned to a more professional tone, “Anyway, sir, I’m beaming the details to your ro– er, Andrew, as we speak. Operations HQ will expect a preliminary operation plan and a tentative requisition order proposal by 0500.”

“POP and TROP by five. Got it,V.”

“… And, sir, I’ve been asked to inform you that — seeing as this is a grab-and-go — there is an expectation that you will resist the urge to requisition an abundance of high-explosives…”

“Did they tell Michelangelo ‘no brush’, V.”

“They didn’t permit him to use explosives either, sir.”

“Fair point. The world will never know what he could’ve accomplished with plastique.”

“My heart bleeds for you and the ghost of Michelangelo, sir. Is there anything else, Jack?”

“Yes, Verity, when are you going to go to dinner with me?” He asked with a smile.

“Maybe after this op, soldier.” She responded with a smile.

“That’s what you always say.”

“That’s what I always mean.”

“Fair enough. Mission notification received. Will comply,” at which point he ended the transmission, put back on his boots, and headed for the turbovator. He had to go to his garage to see Andrew, and plan an operation before he could sleep. At the thought, he paused a moment, pressed a few buttons on the turbovator com-screen, and waited for an acknowledgement.

“Sir, I have received the data package from Miss Verity. I presume you would like me to prepare your preferred caffeinated beverage?” A tinny computer generated voice came out of the speaker.

“Yep. The blacker the better, Andrew.”

“I shall have it ready.”

“Thank you, over and out,” as he spoke, he braced himself for the launch of the turbovator. He had never actually witnessed the failure of a gravity compensator in a turbovator, but the reptile region of his brain had never seemed to get past questioning that one modern convenience.

A few tenths of a second after Jack braced himself, the com-screen lit up with the destination point, made a dulcet engagement-announcement tone, and the turbovator shot downward like a cannon. As Jack stepped out onto the open-air garage platform, he wondered if he’d ever get over his turbovator nonsense. He then directed his attention to a sleek, glossy, gunmetal auto-conveyance, that vaguely resembled automobiles of Terranoids centuries in his past — though without the vulcanized rubber wheels. As he approached, the window began to glow with the neon blue silhouette of a man’s face, lacking any specific facial features.

“Good evening, Master Jack,” as the voice continued, there was a pressurized whir as the door opened — hinged from the rear — and swung 170 degrees to reveal a smal,l specialized tray in which was seated two differently sized tubes, “I have prepared your customary operations-planning, preparatory consumables.”

“Thank you, Andrew,” Jack said as he grabbed the larger of the tubes. It was a clear, half liter tube filled with a tar-black, almost syrupy liquid. Jack then twisted the top with his other hand, releasing a puff of steam, and began to drink. After a few sips, he paused, “Good work, Andrew. You always make it just right.”

“One merely follows the parameters, Master Jack. Parameters which you programmed into my memory banks, if I’m not mistaken.”

“–and yet I manage to screw it up every time I try to do it without your precise, mechanoid hands.”

“I do not have hands, Master Jack.”

“Alright. Without your…auto-servos? Techno-which-i-jiggers? You know what I mean….”

“I suppose I approach some level of comprehension, sir. I merely measure.”

“Fair enough,” as Jack spoke he picked up the other tube, popped out the stopper with his teeth, spit it onto the tray, then “poured” the zigar inside it into his mouth. once he positioned it to a point of comfort in on the side of his mouth, between the teeth, he asked Andrew, “You got a light?”

“Sir, you are perfectly capable of lighting your own zigars. I see no need to assist you.”

“Well, my mini-torch is in my pocket and my hands are full…”

Andrew said nothing.

“What? I don’t smoke in the car anymore…”

“It is not about the car, sir.”

“What… you care about my health? C’mon Andrew, you’re an Automated Carssistant… why should you care?” Jack asked as he set down the tube  on the tray and started fishing in his pockets for his mini-torch.

“You’re the man who customized my programming. Perhaps you should ask yourself, sir.”

“I only started smoking the things for the nega-rads while we were on Nurgolix V.”

“And yet… we are no longer in an excessively radioactive planetoidal system, sir.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll think about it, okay? Now, we should get to work…” he took Andrew’s silence as a temporary assent and continued, “Now, can you put up the visuals that Verity sent you, and hologram yourself out here? I don’t like talking to you through the window, it feels like a damn drive-thru.”

After a few seconds of loading time, a three dimensional hologram of butler, still with no facial features, appeared. Along with him appeared a two demnsional map interface that floated in the air in front of Jack. To the side were various smaller window interfaces with the necessary pictures and documents from the data package. With lighting the zigar, but still keeping it in his mouth, Jack began to talk with his holographic Andrew and plan for the mission…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
End Transmission

Hope there was fun to be had. Once again, sorry about the format.
See you next time,
~Bret~

Time to Do a Book Review or Two

In the period of long silence referenced in my last post, I happened to read a fair amount of books (as is my custom). I figured it might make for a good post if I were to do a little bit of reviewing (as has also been my custom, on occasion), so here we go:

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

LifeofPi [Full disclosure: I technically read this before the period of silence, but never managed to write up a review] Life of Pi is an interesting case. Something about it had a strange effect on my opinion of it. How do I explain it: it’s like this… Sometimes people talk about growing to love something that they originally failed to understand. For me, Life of Pi is the exact opposite. I say this because I loved the idea of the big twist… and, in fact, I feel like it did work for the movie version. The thing about the book, though, is it began to be something I liked less the more I thought about it. I guess I was annoyed by the notion of Martel writing a couple characters who appear to say “It’s important that the reader realize the twist has ramifications… but we’re also here to say that it’s the readers job to think about the specifics of those ramifications… and we’re not going to help”… and that irked me. There are also large swaths of the story that it feels like a stretch to say are all that connected to the revelation (which I feel were largely excised from the movie, hence my feeling that the movie worked better). That said, I also kind of wonder if — for schooling purposes or suchlike — I was somehow forced to think about it in depth, and construct an essay or argument about Life of Pi, i might enjoy it more (akin to when I had to do something similar with Kafka’s The Trial), but not enough to try doing so.

Zorro, Isabel Allende

Zorro_(novel)_cover

I’m a sucker for romantic rogues with Robin Hood complexes. Zorro, in particular, has always been a character of which I’ve been a huge fan. I won’t say that I know everything about the Z-man, but I do think I know more than the casual hobbyist; I’ve read The Curse of Capistrano (though not so much his follow-up short stories), seen three different iterations of The Mark of Zorro, loved The Mask of Zorro, fondly remember the television Zorro, and have even procured some of El Zorro: la espada y la rosa.  I quite liked Allende’s interpretation — that is ostensibly framed as a prequel to any existing Zorro tales. To some degree, I’m a little impressed that such an awesome, esteemed author as Allende would even bother with a pulpy character like this, but I’m glad she did. Even in translation, her poetic prose is evocative and fun to read. She weaves characters from history, divergent Zorro lore, and her own characters with beauty and creativity in a way that I found an inspiration. The first two thirds of the book are quite stellar, with the bit of occasional lag. The final third seems a little strange… maybe it’s because it approaches and overlaps some of the already trod-over material, but it seemed to lack some of the spark of the first two thirds. The ending also seemed oddly melancholy in a way that left me feeling a bit deflated. That said, I would still recommend the book to anyone who digs Zorro. Allende did some great, new, and engaging writing about a character that some might say is old hat.

I had considered writing more reviews (of which there is certainly material for kicking around in my head), but I think it’s more important at this point to just get up another post.

Thanks for the attention Dear Reader,
~BK~

A Romantical Interlude (for a Pirate)

Alright, I refuse to let myself get caught up in over-indulgence, and go on and on about the fact that I have had radio-silence (figuratively speaking) up here for a crap load (again, figuratively speaking) of time. Someday, I will likely tell you all of where and what happened in my life — trials, tribulations, relocation, etc. Today/tonight, however, is not that that day/night.Let’s just say I am back, and what better way to be back than with some of my fiction? None, that’s what. So let’s get this party restarted! I am posting a romantic interlude from my pirate story. It actually is answers on of the questions in that last story (i.e. who her is), which I linked to earlier: so you lovelies — all four of you who might have read some of my drivel before — may refresh your memories from fifty bajillion <sic?> years ago.

If I’m wholly honest with you lot, I haven’t decided exactly where this bit goes in what I have written thus far. I am certainly engaging in the use of jumping back and forth time-wise in the story, but I haven’t decided the exact order. This can either go before or after the last bit — with minor edits, of course. It would serve as a prologue if I did that, which is nice, and it would work well with Hawken waking abruptly… but I also dig the idea of presenting a crop of mysteries a la LOST, and then filling-in the her one, and it’s less possibly cliche.

This portion introduces the man who will be the villain, one of the major settings, and gives some characterization of the main character (including what will be his “pirate name” so to speak). I’ll admit that it is pretty heftily inspired by an early scene in the/a film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo — with an alteration of object that has personal, sentimental significance to me), and also shares some details with Captain Blood. There’s more to it than that, but I don’t want to give away everything…

 

Without further ado, I’ll commence my transmission of fiction:

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They had escaped the dull roar of the upper-crust of the isle of St. Fitch – who were concerned with nothing more than rubbing elbows and patting each other’s backs  – and made their way to the shores. After passing the outer streets of the city, they came to a semi-secluded beach with only a smattering of palm trees and bushes.

“No matter how crazy or hectic things get, I can always come here and feel better” she spoke, almost absentmindedly.

“You don’t like your father’s… soirées?” He returned, a little puzzled.

“Why should I?”

“I don’ know. Well, I mean,” he was a bit taken aback by how frankly she responded, and stammered on weakly, “… they’re rich, and you’re…”

“So, because I was born into some means, I’m supposed to be like those greedy, bootlicking, sycophantic blue-bloods?”

“That’s not what I meant. I just… Can I tell you something?” as he asked the question, he raised his eyebrow.

“What?” she responded, with a fiery indignation in her eyes.

“I’m not sure I know what sycophantic is…” he spoke with mock-ignorance. At that, she faltered, letting out a hint of a grin – which she tried so hard to suppress – shine through.

“You are so…” she reached for words.

“Charmingly ignorant?” he offered.

“I was thinking ‘so much more clever than you let on’, but you make a decent point.”

“Let it never be said that I was not a humble man,” he took her laugh at the comment as an opening for a change of subject and did so, “look at this fog… isn’t it so beautiful how it just… muffles the light with its embrace, an’ makes all seem so soft and comfortably enveloping?” he had just noticed how thickly the gentle haze of the ocean had enveloped them. With the eventide had come a serene fog, making the  whale oil lamps of the streets and houses behind them appear as starbursts.

“You’re humble and poetic” she said. They had been walking very slowly together along the sand of the beach for some time and, with the exception of the occasional streetlamp that kept wanderers from getting too lost, the signs of the burgeoning colonial city of St. Fitch faded into the distance.

She had grabbed his hand and took it in hers as he began to respond, “Hardly… poets are artists and composers that make you feel beauty through terms and expressions of sooth, building palaces of perfection with just a well-placed word in a sublime wall of sound an’ meanin’. I’m not like that, I’m merely a rough-hewn sailor who occasionally turns a phrase.”

As he’d spoken, he’d been looking toward the gently grayed sky above him, peering into the mists that were preventing him seeing all but the very brightest of stars. She did not let go of his hand, but she had stopped when he’d referred to himself as a mere sailor. When he realized they had stopped, he turned his gaze back toward her – wondering if something was wrong. She was biting her lip discontentedly, clearly looking for words. She was looking at him with emotions that he wish he understood – she seemed to look at him both sadly and longingly – and finally said,“Hawk, you think you’re nothing…that you’re destiny is to be nothing, but that cant be true… You’re beautiful. I hear you say things sometimes that make me see the soul of beauty. When you tell me about the world, I see bold, beautiful truth because of what you say. You’ll say things that make the world seem more real in a way that isn’t so sad as it sometimes seems. Sometimes you say things that make me think I might have a fleeting moment of understanding love, Hawk…”

Her fog-dampened hair was beginning to cling to her face just as – he gradually became aware – her fog-dampened shift and petticoats had begun to cling to her lithe curves. She was staggeringly beautiful to him in that moment and it rendered him speechless. She pulled him closer and embraced him underneath his coat. He could feel their warmth intertwining as her arms wrapped around him. He wrapped his arms around her as she laid her head on his chest. The two stood there, softly swaying in the fog for some time, the only sound apart from the calm, gently rushing ebb and flow of the tide being their gentle inhalation and exhalation of breath.

As they stood there together, Hawken slowly began to notice the somber sounds that accompanied the their breathing and the waves rushing along the shore. He could hear birds cooing back and forth, and the insects gently playing their harmonious melodies with the breeze. It was a beautiful, silent, near-perfect moment. He closed his eyes and inhaled a deep breath of the misty, salt air through his nose. He could smell her and feel the wettish heat of her body pressed against his. It was then that was the perfect moment, one he would never forget.

They couldn’t stand in that embrace forever, no matter how greatly either would have given of their lives to extend that moment. Slowly, hesitantly, they allowed the embrace to subside. wordlessly, they had decided to lay together on the shore. The night, and even the fog, was unusually warm and accommodating. Hawken removed his coat and wrapped her in it as they sat down in unison. Both were soaked to the skin as they huddled together intimately, half-on and half-under his coat. Neither had intended it, but beautiful intimacy had given way to ardent passion. He could feel her hands pulling at the the clasps of his shirt and nearly scratching his chest as he kissed at her neck and clumsily tried to disentangle her petticoat — making his way to her shift. And as they continued, ardent passion gave way to torrid carnality. They made fervent, dauntless love three times before it had occurred to either of them to take any rest to speak of.

They lay there, only quasi-clothed, breathing slowly once more. Her head and arm lay draped over his chest while he was now laying spread out upon his back, with one arm overlayed about her. He looked down at her and, despite the perfection of their time together, his mind laggardly came to the prospect of their relationship and its future.

“I… I love you,” he said simply, not knowing what to say about what was churned in his thoughts, not wanting to let reality weigh on their time together. The slight falter in his voice had betrayed something to her though. She looked up at his face, suddenly ill at ease.

“I love you too, Hawk…” she said earnestly — yet tremulously — waiting for him to unmask whatever hidden dark-cloud burdened him. It still troubled him, she could tell, but he let silence persist.

“I love you, Hawk, and I always will,” she broke his silence with the only words she could find.

“I know…” he said tenderly. He heard the hidden pain and confusion mounting in her voice. He knew he not avoid it now. He began, “I love you so much. Don’t believe for even a moment that I won’t hold you in my heart, above all, for… I can’t think of ever a time when the thought of you could escape the hidden and sacred recesses o’ my memory. You and your love will stay with me forever…”

She could sense it now. He spoke so wondrously above his station when he had a mind to, but now he could read in her face that she could foresee the grim culmination of his words. The words and thoughts he dreaded.
“Hawk. Tell me what you’re afraid to say,” she was anxious… Hawken was not a man who worried over nothing. What’s more, while she desperately wanted to fix whatever it was for him, it was always he who could do that for her. He could see it was her desperate desire to do that for him, but they both were rightly unsure if that could happen.

“ I’ve loved before, and I suspect so’ve you — though I’d never ask, just as you’d never tell. But that’s not the point … More rightly, love, I thought I’d loved… until I found you. I had sort-of loved… Honestly, I’m not rightly sure if what I had felt then wasn’t really love, or if what I feel for you now is greater than love.” He pulled her into a meaningful embrace as he quietly continued, “… but how? How can this work? How can our love work? I know you don’t like when I say I’m just a sailor, but I am… not yet even an Ordinary Seaman. My father, before he died, was a Glover. Your father is a Captain, and on his way to becoming a Commodore, if doesn’t decide to become the Governor of this bleedin’ island. Our worlds touch, but they ain’t the same…”

She listened, but at that she stopped him, putting two fingers over his mouth to silence him. It worked. He was surprised into silence. Then she spoke, “Hawk. I don’t know how, but it will work. I love you. You love me. Don’t ask me to tell you how… but godsdamn it, it will!”

Hawken had never heard her curse. And he had never seen a fire burn as brightly as in her eyes as it did then. She was near tears, but they would be defiant tears. She lowered her hand, but still stared at him with an impassioned, blazing devotion. Yet again, he was struck dumb. after a moment she pushed his coat off her and began fumbling with her hands through ocean-wetted sand at their feet. The tide had come in and the waves reached their end just inches from their feet — occasionally, gently licking at their toes.

“What on this earth are you d– ?” he began.

“Here,” she said, holding up a small, wave-battered, white seashell, “Look at this, Hawk!”

“It is a seashell…” he had no idea what she was getting at.

“Look at it… know it. Learn its every crevice, Hawk, because this is our love. I will keep this so that everyday I can look at it, and think of you and our love. So that the way I feel for you right now can never, and will never fade. Come what may… our love will continue. I don’t care how long it takes for this to work. It will.” she held the shell in her fingers so he could see it, and then grasped it in her palm when she felt he had understood.

She had done it. She had fixed it for him.His worry melted away in a wash of passion as he leaned forward and encircled her in his arms once more. He kissed her fervidly and, as they seemingly floated back down to the surface of the sand together, their torrent of love-making began anew.

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End Transmission

 

It is pretty late, so I did not format it really at all (Sorry). I actually wrote an original draft of this a while ago, but lost all but a bit of it when I fried my computer. This is a drastically expended version (which I had intended on doing anyway). It wasn’t originally at all steamy, and the shell stuff was completely non-existent. I am rather proud of the expansion.

I think my next post will be a review of some kind. I have read a boat load of books since I left this thing dormant so long ago (and there are pretty well always movies in my life). This time, I just wanted to put up some of my writing… pretty much just for my own sake.

Be Seein’ You (sooner than later, this time),
~BK~

Full-on Pirate Fiction: It’s About Blasted Time, by my Reckonin’…

One of his lesser-used works

by the hand of good ol’ Howard Pyle

So, I dig pirates. This is far from hidden — or difficult to discern — information, given that I talked about it a bit already. I’m essentially inches from a Master’s Degree in English literature with a thesis that basically is a treatise on why pirates are so cool (and basically their own archetype), and Long John Silver — in particular — is among the most super-cool the archetype has to offer. To be honest, and this is some inside baseball  here, I basically decided to write a thesis as an excuse to research a novel that’s been kicking around in my brain — slowly developing — for years…

And I’ve said before that my pirate writing would meander its way on here eventually. Well, no time like the present, I always (read: never) says! A friend of mine recently suggested I should just go all out with this novel via the interwebs, as we live in a modern age, and just start posting it. I’ve finally realized that he was right… after all, Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan-fiction (with a twist), and look at her now… plus, all I was going to do was squirrel away what I was writing while giving excuses about “when I had the time to do it properly”… To heck with that! No one ever got anywhere by standing still (…or some such). Up it goes… before I do, though, I’d like to tell you lot a bit about what this novel will entail — aside from the two secondary characters being my attempt at a “piraticized” transplant from Sholay:

  1. A quarter — maybe more, maybe less… likely less — of the plot is heavily influenced by Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood.
  2. The young protagonist is named Hawken (a nod to Stevenson).
  3. The overall plot; many subplots and characters; and jokes in the book are references to sea chanteys — some of them will probably be sung by characters, as well. Specifically (know that some of these are absolutely NSFW content-wise… I’ll mark them as such): Turkish Revelry,  Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold, Hanging Johnny, Sally Brown, Blood Red Roses, Good Ship Venus (NSFW), Baltimore Whores (NSFW), Bully in the Alley, Haul on the Bowline, Drunken sailor — because… come on, it’s Drunken sailor!, and something mood-settingly sad like Lowlands Away. There will need to be some adjustments though, as the next bit will explain.
  4. While painfully accurate in some ways, I still intend for it to be in the fantasy genre landing somewhere between 17th and 18th century in an Caribbean-esque, but invented setting. I want the English Age of Piracy to be the “feel” of the story, but I also want to be free to have whatever whimsey I feel like chasing as a writer. I want it to be familiar to pirate literature enthusiasts (having Island colonies like “St. Fitch”, instead of St. Kitts… etc.) and I want to feel free to use bits from any pirate eras I want. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s so clear in my mind. It’s like I want to make a renaissance (and slightly post-renaissance) fantasy-fiction in the same way we see medieval fantasy-fiction all over the shelves at bookstores (you know, like the pulpy sword and sorcery stuff… or Game of Thrones… or Wheel of Time, but a couple centuries later). This kind of thing may — probably — already exist, but nowhere near the sheer volume medieval-inspired fantasy.
  5. I don’t want to rule out mysticism and magic in the world, but this story in particular won’t ever deal with it beyond superstitions and hearsay.
  6. As is my custom, I’ve seeded some little bits and jokes in what I’ve written specifically for me (Shakespeare and 17th century dramatic tropes in general occasionally pop-up). I’m even considering adding a character on the crew who is directly a reference to Shakespeare’s lost years, but I don’t know if that would fly in a fictional-fantasy world that is invented… could I play it as sort of an “alternate universe” bit? Not sure.
  7. This all stems from fantasy stuff I’ve been (technically) playing with since I was a wee lad in middle school. “The Captain” in the piece of it I have here was originally some ridiculous, overly fantastical character I made back when I first discovered how “cool” pirates were — whilst knowing absolutely nothing factual of them. I also invented Ace and Deuce before I knew about Sholay, but it was like I was trying to imitate Sholay before I even knew it existed.
  8. I also want to have a… well, I just going to say it… a super sexy gay swashbuckler in this story, as well. Sort of like how some initially saw Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Jack Sparrow as gay, but I want this guy to go full-tilt… not cheeky implications… fully, incontrovertibly gay, and extremely bad-ass. An initial inspiration for this character was Captain Jack Harkness (Whovians out there will know what I’m talking about here). I haven’t developed him at all yet, though.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is a ridiculous amount of stuff! Yes, that is true. However, odds are that this is all just going to be what informs the novel. Even all those songs I mentioned, besides one or two, will likely get a single line or mention at best. Also, I’ve thought of all this stuff and I thought it would be great to tell you it… even if it is relatively minimal insofar as what’s physically present in this novel. Maybe a bunch gets cut… Maybe there’s stuff in here that will end up in other novels. I’ll never know ’til I try.

If you have borne with me thus far, I cannot thank you enough(you beautiful soul, you). The least I can do is… well, actually do what i’ve been saying I’d do … let you enjoy or ignore the beginnings of my pirate novel:

(Commencing sampling… finally:)
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He brought his boot down with a firm thud on the end of the wooden frame of the room’s bed, waking up the young man, “You ready to work, boy?”

After waking from his dreams with a start, the boy stared into the man’s eyes. He wondered how those eyes could still have such a gleam of new beginnings, and still be so full of whatever torments the man had lived through.

“Hmm?”

“Yes sir,” the boy replied after composing himself. After a pause, he began, “Sir, I just wanted to say that I…”

“Save it, boy. I’m only going to tell you this once: do not tell the crew about anything to do with our past, I don’t know what they’ll do – well, I have an idea what they’ll do, but I think you want to keep your insides just that… insides.”

“Yes sir.”

“I’m not sure just how this is going to play out. If I tell them I trust you, that’ll do… for a while. You keep your mouth shut and let me work this out. Till I do work this out, you keep it down to ‘aye’ and nodding. You do exactly as I, or any of the men, tell you – unless you are in the presence of myself and myself alone.”

“Aye s…”

“You’d best drop the ‘sir’, or the men aren’t going to trust you. You refer to me as Cap’n from here on out, boy… And I want you to understand, you don’t say anything. Your only word is mum – you don’t tell anyone your name, where you’re from. Anything – ‘cept ‘aye’. If I tell you to do something, and anyone asks you why, you tell them ‘Cap’n’s orders’, anything else, I’ll throw you overboard myself. You got that, boy?”

“Aye… Cap’n,” He said the words tremulously, but he knew this was what he needed to do to absolve himself. He owed this man his life.

“I think we understand each other. Things aren’t going to be easy. If you’re lucky, Ruvee will take to you… and if Ruvee takes to you, wont be long before Aji takes to you too. Your life will be hard – harder – if those two aren’t in your corner.”

“Aye, Cap’n.”

“I’m telling you all this now for your own protection,” which was true, the Captain only hoped the crew didn’t press the boy too hard – or at least that the boy could withstand the pressure long enough for him to get things lined up first – he then concluded, somewhere between very stern and rather comforting, “now get yourself ready.”

At that point the Captain swept his cloak off his shoulders with a slight flutter, placed the hat he had held in his hand onto his head, and silently left the room. He was a fairly tall man with dark hair that just grazed his shoulders. To some degree, the look of the captain embodied all the fanciful tales of seafarers that the young man had heard in his childhood. The captain’s build suggested he was capable of quick movement, but unquestionably strong as well. He was not a man of bulk, but his muscles were well defined. His skin had been sun-bathed – and looked as though it had been for years – with a bronze tone. The captain was adorned with a rather impressive array of fine clothing as well; he was wearing a fine short-waisted beige doublet, a blue jerkin with patterned embroidery, and a pair of black knee-breeches. Over it all, the Captain was wearing a deep blue, almost black, cloak with golden needlework at its edges. Atop his head was the recently placed leather cavalier hat that matched his fold-over boots perfectly.

The young man was always amazed that the Captain – a man of such force and expertise – seemed to constantly be on the pinnacle of fashion, and had so many clothes for so many occasions. He smirked at the thought of seeing what would happen were he to refer to the captain as “a dandy”, but the smile melted from his face after thinking of some of the less pleasant moments he had experienced with the Captain in their time together up to the present.

Thinking on the Captain’s more stern disciplinary actions up to this day had reminded the young man of the task at hand: get dressed, and try to mentally prepare for meeting the crew he would be working with into the foreseeable future. Getting dressed would, of course, the easy part. He had no clothes to his name outside of a pair of grubby slop breeches, a rope to tie them off with, and a loose fitting cloth shirt. The young man used to be of a bit more means: miserably low-paid a clerk as his father was, and himself later, on his own – even as a mere shipman – he had always managed to keep himself from looking like too much of an urchin.

Those were the days before “the incident” – as the Captain had come to refer to it. The young man looked back at those days fondly. Sure it was hard work. Sure his old captain had been a bastard. But those days, when not terrible, had some adventure… And those days had her… That was all over, though, and his new captain promised him something almost as good as the return of love into his life: the Captain promised him Vengeance.

This was all information that he needed to push to the back of his mind. He was now to concentrate on keeping his mouth shut, and doing as the Captain said. He couldn’t let worry overtake him, and he couldn’t let the Captain’s men know who he used to be.

~

After sitting a moment in meditative thought, he dressed himself, and left the room to follow the Captain’s lead. So long as one didn’t look closely, his natural grace could’ve made even his homespun clothes seem like the work of a fine tailor. He just had a certain quality about him.

He walked down the stairs leading from the upstairs rooms, passed by the reception area, and made his way to the dinning hall, where he knew the Captain would be waiting. To call the room a hall was rather generous, it consisted of little more than four tables and a small bar space. The Captain was passing the time eating from a bowl of some sort of pudding and conversing with the Inn’s owner, a man by the name of Isgar. Upon the young man’s entry, the Captain and Mister Isgar were coming down from a rather raucous fit of laughter.

“…and I said ‘If you weren’t such a bully, you’d realize that behind every trap door that’s seen too much use is a devil!’” the Captain concluded and began laughing with Isgar anew. It was yet another quality of the Captain that amazed the young man. Even though “the Cap’n” was so stern and disciplined, he could instantly put anyone at ease.

“I have to say, Master Isgar,” the Captain said as he had another spoonful, “that young lady of yours makes some of the best hasty pudding I’ve ever had. If I’d a few less years on me, I’d snatch her right up – a lovesome woman who can cook like that.”

At that Isgar’s daughter, who had just come in to fill the Captain’s glass, blushed. She was a very pretty young lady: a freckled brunette, who did her best to disguise her tomboyish nature, but one need only to look into her eyes to see she was tough. Upon filling the Captain’s glass, she looked up and saw the young man.

“Bah. Her mother – gods rest her – would’ve never let me hear the end of it were I to give her to salty sea-dog such as yourself. I’d’ve had to gut you or she’d’ve beat me black an’ blue with the cookin’ wares she taught our Jenny to use so well,” he spoke with an air of deep loving for his daughter, coupled with the humorous tone he had kept with the Captain, “and it appears to me you’ve got some competition with your valet,” he was referring to the fact that Jenny had made her way to the boy, and was now playfully pushing him toward the table with the Captain and her father.

“You go sit down with the Captain and I’ll have some pudding out for you just as fast as my legs can carry me,” the young man resigned to her will, returning her smile, and started heading for the table.

Speaking quietly enough that the boy wouldn’t hear his compliment, the Captain responded to Isgar, “I can hardly blame her, there are great things ahead of that boy. Great things…”

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(Sampling finished)

It’s not a lot, and technically I’ve got more, but this is what I have with some polish on it. I try not to be too verbose, but when I imagine it… When I hear it in my head… it’s right. That said, I’m very possibly too close. It’s too dear to me to make adequate judgement. I’m not saying I wouldn’t cut or simplify based on other peoples’ opinion, but I don’t know the working from the not-working in my own head. Likely as not, I should just get the hell on with it regardless and let polishing come later. I’ve always been willing to butcher and cut-up my writing in the past, but that was a little different. I’m usually clever enough to keep some distance in what I write. At the very least, putting this up has incentivized me moving forward. I have an audience now, even if I’m mostly just imagining you lot up…. Good enough for me.

Be seeing you (next time),
~Bret Kinslow~

Bookitudinal Reviewage

So I said my next post was going to be a review, and I happen to have read some books lately… therefore, book review I shall. I recently have read:

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day – by David Sedaris. This book was awesome-tastic. [Full confession: I consumed this via Audiobook]. This version is a combination of some studio produced readings of short stories (which were quite good) and some live performances of other stories Sedaris wrote (which are what makes the story shine). The first half of the book is fun and funny… but when you hit the stories explaining his family, and his more random shorts, that is when he makes you laugh out loud. I’d like to think that that’s pretty high praise, because I long ago burned-out my laugh circuits (by which I mean that I am one of those insufferable people that doesn’t laugh at a performance when I find it funny. Instead, I simply give a wry smirk and think to myself “that’s quite funny”). That said, Sedaris got a few genuine chortles from me. I totally recommend it, it’s very casual, odd-ball charming, and gives you more than a few things to think about with regard to the way we think about families, nationality, and other matters of the personal cultures we all have.
  • The Number of the Beast – by Robert Heinlein. Let me be the first to say that I agree with the analysis of the book that calls it  “a catalog of Heinlein’s sins as an author; it is sophomoric, sexist, militantly right wing, and excessively verbose” (a review by Sue K. Hurwitz). That said, upon reading it, you can also see why Heinlein is one of The Big Three of science fiction: the book is incredibly intelligent. On the positive side, I liked the fact that all the main characters sling sharp wit back and forth throughout the novel, and it makes you ask questions of culture (sexuality, academia, scientific advance, and how humanity would respond to the discovery of aliens and alternate universes) in the way only science fiction can. It also has an amazing premise: that being that all fiction and myth exists as a “reality” in alternate universes — I should also mention that the characters themselves exist in an alternate universe to our own, they briefly show up in our universe when they are universe-hopping and there is a clever reference involving President James Carter. At one point (in the first half) the heroes show up in an alternate reality where America never fought its Revolutionary War, Russia and Britain possess space-age tech and are in an on-going colonialistic war over the ever-expanding pool of claimed planets in the galaxy, and — if you like history — the developing narrative is quite entertaining. It also makes some fun pop-culture references, and you can really see the breadth of intellect contained in Heinlein’s head.  The bad news: the book is, at times, juvenile with its sex humor (prepare for frequent, unflinching use of the word “tit” and “tits”, and a small crew of folks constantly talking about jumping each other in the sack with, and without, various degrees of innuendo). Moreover — once you get past the first half — the protagonists meet/shack up with some characters from other Heinlein novels (Lazarus Long and his ilk) and the narrative becomes hard, at best, to follow. Which leads to its final problem, the novel reads a bit like an attempt on Heinlein’s part to make a narrative based on little than stringing together all the pop-culture and intellectual ideas that he found personally interesting (Oz, Wonderland, countless other authors and their works, some pretty technical use of physics/mathematics and piloting jargon, and the SCA are all referenced with incredible specificity — yet somehow — with abandon) in a way that is amazing, but rather hard to keep up with (if not a person living in Heinlein’s imagination). All in all, I can’t recommend it… but I can’t exactly “disrecommend” it either — it’s so intelligent and creative. It’s not often a book does that to me. Take from that review what you will.

I’m also currently reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which is shaping up quite nicely (thus far, it reminds me — in a couple of ways — of The Alchemist, but with less of a seeming feeling of pretension/narcissism on the part of the author). That said, I have not finished it, and so that review will have to come another day.

I’m thinking my next post will be some more of my own writing: I’ll likely let you lot in on some of my pirate-based fiction (“Finally,” you’re thinking, “something that isn’t a bunch of role-playing nonsense!”)… no promises though.

Hope this is as good for you as it was for me,
~Bret Kinslow~

Some personal stuff — and some Superhero writing

So, not unsurprisingly, I fell off the earth when it came to this blog… It was, to some degree,  laziness, but it was also a confluence of things (which is weird… you know, to say that it was simultaneously laziness and a bunch of stuff happening, but that’s life). Maybe I’ll just pull a Whitman and say “Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
That’s right! Whitman said I can tell you to suck it, metaphorically speaking — I am entirely using it metaphorically though, Whitman wouldn’t necessarily have said such in a metaphorical way (For instance, read here about how Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman may have clapped themselves together like a set of cymbals). And if you think that doesn’t deserve to be in the dust jacket of a book I write some day, I don’t know what to tell you… Hmm I feel as though I’ve gotten off point here…

Anyway, I decided it’s time to get back on this horse. I was away for a multitude of reasons:

  1. In the middle of any given month I sink into a deliciously self-loathing, depression/anxiety trap — some months I am able to say “get over it, self” and it ends there, other times (like this one), things kind of go gray and I fall off the map for a bit — so much so that seeking medication, etc.  can be on the board. So, I had been reading books and not-talking-to-people ’til…
  2. A friend of mine wanted me to be in a play, and moreover, begin a Theater Company. Thus, I have been trying to learn my lines… With a great deal of tribulation. That’s all done now — the line learning, not the play… oh, that reminds me, I should put on my carnival barker hat once more and direct folks to the play again… ahem…If you can come to Livingston, MT next weekend, COME SEE THIS PLAY!
  3. Most of my creative endeavors were less polished than usual, and only recently have I put some interesting stuff together.

So, on the positive side, I am feeling less “eurgh”, and so I return. I also happen to have some more stuff I’ve written. This time, returning to that super hero stuff like with the Earlier Robin Hood stuff. In fact it’s from the super-hero “universe” as the Robin Hood character. This one is a high-tech hero — think Iron Man — with a piratical twist (I know how shocked some will be that I would do such a thing). I thought it would be fun to have a character who, instead of being a legendary figure, was a descendant of one. More over, I figured the idea of making a modern, technological hero with a pirate theme would make for a fun juxtaposition. I also crammed a few inside jokes in there: one being a reference to a famous liquor company, another being a very inside joke with my friends that I play Role-Playing Games with (I am amused by the use of “Bob”, “Steve”, and “Terry” as generic names for people), and the last being that every name in the piece (that isn’t a Bob, Steve, or Terry)  is a reference to some famous pirate — I would tell you them all and link them here, but that’s more work, and there are already so many links as to boggle the mind here… ask me if you’d like to know what they are and I’ll tell you in a comment. Another thing I’d like to point out is that I love cramming a bit of trivia in my writing– particularly the super hero stuff (for instance, in the Robin Hood story, the sheriff of Nottingham is interrupted when trying to tell Robin that the University of Nottingham had added a Robin Hood  focus as a branch of their Master’s history program… which is an actual thing): in this piece, there is a brief mention of an MIT pirate certificate… I will also say that this one is a proper origin story, meant to be kind of like a dossier explaining what what an uninitiated person would want to know before picking up a comic about him.

Anyway, I’m back on form. Here is some writing for you (commencing sampling):
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The Early Years:
Charles Eduard Morgan was born to Drake Steven Morgan and Françoise Therese de Belleville Morgan, and is the sole heir to the Korsayrion Collective — the 6th largest private financial institution in America. Born to an affluent family, young Eduard (who eschewed the name of Charles, his grandfather’s name) lived a childhood of luxury and whimsey that was given to him at the cost of his father’s presence. His father, head of the Korsayrion Collective, was “a man of business, not of the child-rearing sort” that tried to make up for his lack of attendence in his boy’s life with the best of support staff (Valets and Nannies), a top notch education, and fostering the boy’s creative (and seemingly exceptional) scientific mind when he could find time to be there. As a result, though Eduard developed great respect for his father, his familial relationship was far more developed with his mother and the members of staff tasked with his supervision and upbringing.

Often the Morgan family would take yearly, lavish vacations — generally to some locale which could foster scientific education, as well as sometimes allow for Drake Morgan to combine business and leisure in a way that only a man of his stature could. As time went on, the pressures of leading and maintaining the ever expanding Korsayrion Collective made the presence of Drake Morgan’s presence diminish even further — in regular day to day living, but especially on the vacations (where Drake increasingly seemed to forswear leisure for business entirely). Family tensions rose, and Françoise Therese expressed that she was taking umbrage to Drake’s expanding absence by, after a time, ceasing to engage in the family sebaticals. Strains on the Morgan family continued to mount when disaster stuck…

A Life Altering Crash:
On what would be the final vacation the Morgan family — a term now used loosely, as Françoise Therese no longer partook as a means of voicing her disapproval with Drake’s time away from the family — the Morgan family’s private jet, one in a fleet of private jets owned by the Korsayrion Collective, experienced a mechanical malfunction and went down in flames over the Atlantic. The exact malfunction was unknown, the only recovery from the wreckage was Eduard, found conscious, but in a state of shock… mumbling incoherently. The world at large presumed Eduard would never recover, and it was years before Eduard would return to the public eye — and even then, it was quickly discovered that questions about the crash could not, and would not, be answered by Eduard. Too much aggressive probing would leave the boy near catatonic, and the media came to accept the Morgan family’s official statement of basic details and a request to let the subject be…

A Public Return:
At the age of 17, Eduard returned to a normal life in the public eye, seemingly cured of his traumas. He did state that he would not ever be able to give the details of his tragedy in a public interview, but he had left the trauma in the past. The only lasting effect seemed to be a now deep-seated discomfort with any form of airline travel. Shortly after his public return, he attended MIT, double majoring in Business (management science) and Engineering. Listed among his proudest acheivements at the time was, “embracing his heritage” and earning MIT’s Pirate certificate completing courses in pistol, archery, sailing, and fencing. Though he would go on to graduate with honors, he began to act-out, developing a reputation as a philandering playboy — through a number of minor scandals — as well as engaging in some occasionally risky behaviors. After graduating, he decided to capitalize on his bad-boy image.

The Roaring Twenties:
He found success leveraging Korsayrion money into a fairly lucrative multinational alcohol conglomerate, originally started in his mother’s home nation of France. He used his money from this to engage in pet-projects, such as engineering his solar sail-powered, fully mechanized sea vessel (not surprising, considering his specific adversity to plane flying) and continuing to “live a life of adventure” he called it. So successful was his Alcohol conglomerate, that he was eventually able to procure a casino in Las Vegas — inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, Treasure Island. Still incredibly financially viable and now in his mid-twenties, his reputation with the public began to tarnish…

While once his antics caused some amusement, his behavior once again became erratic… A condition accelerated when, in a press conference, his mother — reasonably well-known, and liked, the world over for her philanthropic endeavors — revealed she was dying of a terminal disease. Spiraling out of control, Morgan lost the public’s favor.
After a number of personal scandals, he bowed out of the lime-light, and returned to his mother’s estate in France. 

A Change of Heart:
He spent his mother’s last few weeks with her, and after her death, announced that — while he would still be the head of his conglomerate and the Korsayrion Collective — his asccension would occur after a temporary leave of absence. During that leave of absence, he would be returning to MIT in accordance with his mother’s final wishes.

Upon his return to MIT, his focus keened as his genius resurfaced. He graduated with an astounding 3 Master’s Degrees in the Sciences, and A Ph.D. in Physics. When he returned to The Korsayrion Collective, and his own conglomerate, he announced that he would largely be functioning independently, and while saddling some of the business end (Treasure Island and Morgan Spirits, primarily), he had no intention of upending the Financial Institution. He would leave things as they were, serving largely as a figure head, provided they did not interfere with his personal doings, no matter how strange they seemed, so long as his actions did not threaten the Korsayrion Collective’s solvency. Surprised by his new-found responsibility, the heads of Korsayrion agreed and made him the CEO of Morgan Spirits and Treasure Island.

A Search for Redemption:
He immediately set to work creating a power-suit, anti-gravitational technology, and a heroic identity that has now made it possible for him to start earning the public’s respect back (though it will prove a tough battle, as his two primary businesses are a constant reminder of the out-of-control rebellious playboy he used to be). Making contact with his family lawyer, a superhero in his own right (known publicly as Presto the Prestidigitator™), 

Eduard has expanded his personal life into the Superheroic world in an effort to do some good. Why create the suit, and anti-gravity tech? Unbeknownst to the public, his mother’s final wishes were not what he asserted them to be.

He had declared, “It was my mother’s wish that I return to my education, back to when I shone the brightest…”

She truly said, “You have lost your way…You must be a better man… Be the man your father and I wished that you could be… Make us proud… Make this world better.”
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(End Sample)

I can’t say I’m in love with the ending, but I often feel self-conscious about trying to be poignant, sweeping, or grandiose. Elsewise, I’m fairly happy with it. I’m not sure if I have anything else I’m really itching to write about this character (I will probably return to writing my period novel about pirates before I do much more with Eduard as a written character), but I like having him as an option I might add more to.

I think my next blog entry will be a book or movie review, I haven’t done something like that in a while.Thanks for readin’ my ramblin’s,
~BK~

A bit of a Lie and a Truth…

So, I said I was going to continue something in this post. As it turns out, I had something half formed in mind with the Jason story, but then something else came along… It’s about a character who is almost just like Jason, but not quite. This is why this post is a bit of a lie and a truth: it is not an expansion of something I’ve written (lie), but it is influenced by my thinking about writing and characters I’ve already worked on (so what I said I was going to work on is true)… Anyway, a friend of mine recently suggested that we should play a game of Dungeons & Dragons, because it has been a while since my friend-group has played that particular game. Also, someone else wanted to be in charge of the story than usual, so we thought it’d be neat to see a different perspective that usual trying to make a fantasy story involving us all. I was in from the get-go, as I do have a soft spot for pulpy fantasy. I decided to make a character who is an archer… to be honest, I wanted to make a character similar to Jason, because I had him on my mind from putting that writing up here (and to add another level of freaky write-ception, the original Jason was inspired by a D&D character from my youth… let’s just say you should realize at this point that I have some very obvious comfort zones as a writer). Anyway, I decided to make a similar character. Moreover, my friend said go ahead and come up with a back-story, after he explained the details of his fantasy world… I got swept away with it and decided to write his backstory down, thinking “Hey, this will be a good blog post”. The part that I had the most fun with in doing this is that I found myself continuing to check in with my friend to write a prologue that fit in with his world. It was some fun collaborative writing. This is a fairly average fantasy world. There are Elves, Dwarfs, Humans, Half-Elves (because Humans and Elves can interbreed), Orcs (the bad guys),  and Halflings (think Hobbits, and you’ve got the right idea). Humans are currently in charge (but there is a lot of them, and they’re bickering Game of Thrones style), and Elves used to be in charge… Okay, I don’t want to bore you lot with details so I’ll just tell you this: the only detail that is only hinted at, but not explained is the fact that, in this fantasy world , a long time ago, the vast majority of Elves mysteriously went away. After the Elven exodus — for some unexplained, potentially mystical reason — the Elves that remained became physically uncomfortable in the sunlight. Now, I made this as a backstory: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Robert Terrianth (of the house of) Stevens

For reasons that no one seems to able to fathom, when the elves diminished some families stayed behind — maybe they were captured and forced to stay, maybe some wanted to stay… no one is old enough to remember for sure. What we do know is that, in the recent past, once such remaining Elf descendant was the beautiful J’ferra Terrianth, who was taken by the human noble Robert (of the house of) Stevens. When he was wed to her, he was engaging in the thoroughly antiquated Human-noble practice of “Elvation” — for you see, in the earlier times after the Elves left it was a sign of clout, especially in the minor houses, to have a blood connection to what was seen as the “original” ruling race of The City (so higher noble houses could commodify Elf women and marry them to lesser houses — in exchange for allegiance). By Robert’s time it wasn’t really a meaningful practice — Human’s were content to just rule, they needed no metaphorical “symbol of their right to rule”. Robert, however, found himself entranced with the beautiful, and surprisingly charming, J’ferra and accepted the union that was offered from a waning house.

The two had a son, Robert Stevens II — called Robert Terrianth Stevens in the courts, to both distinguish the two, as well as denote his elfin heritage. At some point in the youth of Robert II, called informally Hob, or Bob, J’ferra died (of some unknown illness, likely hastened do to continued life above ground)… Robert loved Hob enough to hope he could get Hob some courtly prestige and a proper ennobling, but Robert’s efforts to find Hob a companion from another house was perpetually stymied by the boy’s elfin heritage in an increasingly Human-run world. With his own political powers dwindling — what with no wife, and an heir that was little more than a relic of a bygone era — Robert had to marry a human woman from another house. Robert married a woman named Cherise — from another lesser house — and had a few more children. No one in the house of Stevens attempted to directly route Hob away from courtly success, but the growing boy — now a young man — saw the writing on the wall. Cherise, while not an evil-stepmother by any means, reasonably could only make headway advancing her own fully-Human children. Hob, wearied by the the constant let-downs, and vaguely jaded — by the system, far more than any family strife — decided to ease his father’s burden and strike out on his own.

Hunting had proven one of the courtly skills Hob was adept at, and the forest had always intrigued and comforted him, so he set up a small encampment near the wood’s edge. Using what little money his family could spare to see him off, he made his encampment into a small living space, bought a pony and cart, and the tools necessary to sustain himself by the bow. (nothing too permanent)… This was a handful of years ago. A hermit-man in his twenties, he now finds himself making the pittance he needs to be comfortable by selling archery-related goods, and hunting the quarry of the forest. No longer in need of his courtly name, he mostly just goes by the functional epithet “Bowyer”; if a given name is necessary, he’ll still offer up “Robert”, though any acquaintance close enough use a familiar name usually calls him “Bob” or “Hob”. Were word sent from any of his half-siblings, step-mother, or father, he would surely help in any way they’d ask — though for the life of him, he can’t see them needing anything he could offer them — and as of late, it would seem that the forest is proving to be more than meets the mundane eye…

As a relatively woodsy fellow who’s lived alone in the Great Forest for a decent handful of years, Hob started going slowly and cautiously further into the woods. Hob has begun to come across a handful of  forest creatures that seem a bit too prescient to be average woodland beasts. Mostly, these animals have been small birds and other — occasionally more furry — woodland dwellers, who seemingly lead Hob to bandits and other ne’er-do-wells who appear to do undue harm to the Great Forest (surely by mere coincidence, according to Hob). One recent event in particular seems to have Hob a little unsteadied at the moment:

In the beginnings of the last winter months, Hob became particularly disquieted by a bear that frequently appeared at a spot where Hob liked to fish. It never seemed to be too aggressive (and also surprised him by not hibernating), and often went about its business, apparently ignoring Hob. One day, after a string of unsuccessful days fishing, he absentmindedly looked to the bear and — barely audible — said, “hope you’re having better luck than me, I’m starving…”

The bear grunted, as if to sigh, almost immediately following Hob’s mumble. Hob paused, staring warily at the bear, hoping he hadn’t startled it with his speech. The bear stared back. After a while, the bear turned to leave, giving a little roar (almost… beckoning?), and began to amble back from whence it came. Curiosity finally got the better Hob, and he decided to follow it — giving it ample space, lest he anger the beast — slowly, going deeper into the forest than Hob’s already-perhaps-too-generous comfort zone. In a small clearing, the bear paused, patted a small mound of earth twice, grunted, and continued its saunter. After the bear reached the edge of the clearing, Hob resumed his pursuit.

Hob stumbled over the small mound and paused, looking down. The ground was somewhat loose, perhaps freshly dug and/or covered up. He saw a hint of something in the soil. Brushing away some of the dirt, he saw berries. Temporarily forgetting about the bear in his newly remembered hunger, he brushed all the dirt away. He took his sack from his belt and quickly began to stuff the cache away — thanking his excellent-good, woodland, fortune. He keep the last berry, and popped it in his mouth as he tucked the sack away. He was surprised to find it left him full. Before he had more than a second’s time to ruminate on how strange and unsettling that fact was, he heard another distinctly bear-ish grunt. His eyes shot up, and there was the bear. It was standing still at the edge of clearing. It had come back… Or maybe it hadn’t left, he thought he’d watched it continuing on its way, but there is was… They stared at eachother again. Once again, the bear gave a grunt… but this time it was too much. Hob hadn’t a clue what was happening, but he was spooked. He needed to get the deuce out of there, before he got eaten by what must’ve been a crazed bear. He was way too far in the forest, and he realized how crazy all of this was. It was insane… Hob slowly backed away, waiting for the bear to charge. He paused at the opposite edge of the clearing, and the bear continued staring, almost as if puzzled. After Hob backed away far enough, the bear grunted again, and then turned to continue on its own way.

Hob tore-off back to where he came from with as much haste as he could muster, every so often turning to make sure the bear wasn’t following. After a brief stop at his campsite to grab his bow and arrows from his lean-to,  he scrambled for his more permanent hut at the edge of the woods…

 

It is here that we find Hob at the beginning of our adventure, ever-so-slightly unsteadied, terrifiedly sprinting to his hut, pony, and cart…

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I deliberately tried to infuse some humor in this thing, which wasn’t really there for Jason — though I will be getting back to Jason at some point, so there’s still hope. The other thing I tried to do was combine two styles… one fairly direct and descriptive and the other focused on action (as per the suggestion of another friend, one who sometimes comments here)… Who knows if I accomplished that…

Anyway, who knows what my next post will bring? I don’t…  I’ll tell you that much.

See you next time,
~BK~

Pontifical Writimacation on Lackadaisy (…and a sampling)

Okay… somehow, I managed to start getting a bit of burnout here. That is totally unfair to myself, and lazy, but I let it happen anyway. I could probably blame it in on the fact that the middle of any month tends to be a bit depressing for me, but that’s crap ( I mean, it is technically true for me, but letting it affect me is probably the number one thing getting in the way of me being a successful creative writer). I wanted to make this blog because writing is something I dig… I mean, I like looking at — and engaging in — any kind of writing I can get my hands on. I can tell you what it takes to make a good story, and I can identify what parts make a bit o’ writing good (be it books, movies, television, speeches, arguments, etc.) because I love consuming almost any kind of composition.

Moreover, I know I am a good writer. That sounds arrogant, but I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m allowed to be proud of my abilities… I’ve studied this stuff (fairly extensively), and it’s fair to say that I’m actually pretty darned good at it. Every time I write something that I feel good about, if I show it to people, they’ll inevitably say “Oh, this is actually really/quite/very good, Bret. You should keep going”.  It’s not like I’m saying I’m a natural either… I have worked and worked and worked on getting better, and I still cock it up sometimes. And there are certainly pieces I’ve written in the past that are crap — maybe sometime I’ll show you lot some of the sort of prototype Brad and Ruby stories (they are some seriously boring ladlings of ass-gravy — sorry for that strong imagery, but I want to make it clear that I am far from oblivious to the fact that some of my writing isn’t that strong). I also am aware that some of my writing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s not what I want to talk about here., though. People can feel free to like or dislike whatever the hell they want about my writing (I know it’s good for some), but the point is that I have a much more important and debilitating flaw that I want to talk about here in an attempt to own, treat, and/or defeat with some effort via this blog. My real flaw is this….

I can’t be arsed to do it

To “not be arsed” to do something is a beautiful little British-ism that basically means “I didn’t care enough to put in the effort”… Now, I’m sure you’re aware that I do care about writing (hence the blog), but godsdamned it if I don’t struggle with being lazy about it. I have an idea that strikes me suddenly and after a few minutes, as quickly as I was inspired, the muse leaves me. The reason I chose the term “couldn’t be arsed to” though, is simple self-deprication as motivation. Grad-school has taught me a number of things, and high on the list is that hidding behind lack of inspiration is just plain laziness. I’ve always got something to be anxious, nervous, sad, or… er… hungry about, but to use that as an excuse not to write is unbearably stupid and I’m going to work on that. I cant say that I won’t still be posting every other week, but I intend for this stuff to mean  something to me… with any luck that means it will mean something to you too.

With that in mind, I’m going to post one more old sample my writing. That sample will make a fairly substantial amount of (I think at least three) writing idea kernels that I’ve put up here, and next post — hopefully in the next week instead of two, but no promises — will consist of me expanding one of the kernels I’ve posted up here (feel free to drop some hints if there is anything in particular you’d like to hear more about… Seriously, I love blog comments… Deb? Carson? Jill? Anyone should have a go, comment on Facebook if you need to…).

This weeks kernel is of the fantasy genre, it’s the beginning of a story of one of the characters that occupy a fantasy world that exists in my mind (I’ll tell you more about that later). That character is named Jason.

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{Commencing Sampling:}

Jason took a broad-tipped arrow from his quiver, lined up his fletchings, nocked the arrow, and pulled the string taught. He took a deep breath and focused on the task at hand. He was to give the signal to attack by taking down one of the gnolls, but which one? There were so many.

“Which one will do the most damage to the crowd as a whole?” he asked himself. There were no magicians, he could tell because of the utter lack of magical healing present on the fresh wounds of the recently injured. He thought a moment and decided the obvious choice was to pick one of the higher-ranking members of the packs. Even though the crowds did not give a visible sign of separate divisions, he knew full well that these creatures could not have possibly overthrown a town without at least having some smaller, more specialized groups; After all, a mass of unorganized brutes could not possibly take a town that had fully-capable, aptly trained knight regiments, no matter how small the regiments. He made a quick scan over the monsters he could see, trying to distinguish which of them could be a higher-ranking element of this collection of beasts. All of the creatures seemed to be equal in so far as height. All had equally crude weapons, some had clubs made with little more effort than pulling a large branch off a tree, others had created makeshift swords from rusted old scrap metal.

“How do they show each other who is in charge?” he demanded of himself. He knew all the other soldiers, along with his friends, were waiting for him to fire and let them know the battle was to commence.

“Come on Jason, this can’t be that hard,” he told himself, “you can figure this…” Suddenly it hit him as though nothing in the world could’ve been more apparent. Some were wearing armor. One in about every eight or so of the gnolls wore leather armor that was very like in color to that of their fur, these armored beasts obviously were all the head of a pack.

“Now,” Jason thought, “one of these disgusting bone-gnawers has to be the alpha.” He looked, hoping to catch some sort of even more distinguishing armor. As his field of vision fell somewhere in the middle of the crowd a glint of non-rusted metal caught his eye. One of the gnolls who had a particularly packed huddle around him was wearing a chest plate, none of the others were.

“There’s my mark, there’s the alpha” He smiled and waited for a clear shot. One of the gnolls surrounding the alpha, stooped for just a second. That was all Jason needed. As the gnoll’s head bobbed Jason let his arrow fly. Near instantly, the commanding gnoll stumbled backward a step. His snout jerked skyward as he gave a single bloody cough. The arrow had pierced his throat through the corner of his mouth, and now the tip protruded through the back of his neck. After a moment the gnolls body stiffened, snout still skyward, then toppled backward to the ground dead. The surrounding beasts attention snapped from whatever had had them before, to their now fallen commander. But before the gnolls were given the chance to react, the soldiers hidden in the forest began their siege.

As the warriors stormed the encampment Jason continued to fire into the fray, taking down a gnoll with each arrow he loosed. Though Jason had many arrows in his quiver, he quickly realized that he would soon be running out of safe targets. As the melee combatants spread out, the risk of striking those fighting on his side would steadily increase. It had become obvious that though his vantage point began as an advantage, it was quickly becoming a hindrance. If he could just get closer he would once again be of assistance to the fight.

“But how can I get down there,” he thought as he looked around weighing his options. He looked down the cliff-face he sat atop. He could climb down for about thirty feet, but then there were no more rocks for him to get a good foothold on, that would leave him sixty feet away from the battle, which was still too far to be of use. Why hadn’t he taken rope that the general had offered him before the battle? “You arrogant fool,” he said to himself. How would he make it the rest of the way down? He would have to figure out the last part as he went; he was needed on the battleground. He slung his bow around his shoulder and climbed downward as fast as he could. It had been a long time since he had climbed anything and on more than one occasion he had a hard time keeping his balance. As he climbed downward, he looked behind his back to the ground. He realized that he had not seen his friends since they and the other soldiers had left to prepare for the ambush.

“ They’re okay, it’s you that you should concern yourself with,” he said to himself, realizing the truth of the matter. He reached the point where he could no longer climb quicker than he had wanted to, but at least now he could check up on his friends. He scanned the field again, there seemed to be more gnolls and humans both on the ground at this distance. It was harder to see individual people now; he was having trouble finding his friends. He thought for a minute. “Well, they would have stayed together, so it will be easier to spot Drax than Anna, focus on Drax,” he told himself.

~

Dhraxiss – or Drax, as his friends had come to call him – and Anna had been Jason’s closest friends as long as he could remember. Throughout the years many were surprised that the three had continued to be so steadfast to each other, mostly because the three of them were so very different. From a very young age, Jason had been tall, always two or three inches taller than anyone else his age, and rather thin – not by any means gangling – but nevertheless, thin. For much of his youth, Jason’s height made him rather awkward in everything he did – except when he used a bow. It was here that Jason shined. By the time the three were in their teens, Jason was a better archer than any adult in their town. Jason was no longer awkward, he was a witty young man that occasionally let arrogance get the better of him. Even though he would never admit it, his skill in archery and his friends were the only constants he felt he could truly rely on.

Drax was easily the strongest of the three, and though not as tall as Jason, in all other ways he was the very definition of big. He was the son of their village’s chief blacksmith, who also happened to be the chief armorer and weapon-smith of the kingdom, Drax had therefore had a hand in making, and thereby practicing with, many different types of arms and armor. Having practiced with so many weapons, Drax had come to realize that each separate weapon served separate, but equally important purposes, that fact pushed Drax to learn all he could in the realm of combat tactics. However, being in close proximity of a forge for his entire life, he couldn’t help but have a number of scars. One in particular that lay across his face had led him to think rather lowly of himself in so far as looks. Unfortunately, it was this unwarranted lack in confidence, as well as his natural ability, that led him to practice and perfect tactics in so many weapons.

Anna was slight of stature but her personality was by no means diminished. As a young girl she was the most precocious of the three, her constant curiosity was intensified by her eyes. Her parents were never fully capable of explaining it, but a family rumor had it that Anna’s great, great, grandmother had them too, but no one new for sure. Anna’s eyes were gray, the most intense gray anyone in the town had ever seen. Anna was always “the talker” of the group. Whenever the three were pursuing goals best achieved by diplomacy, Anna was the group’s orator. The people of the town had always said that not only was Anna a good talker, but she also seemed to have an air of wisdom that was inexplicable for her age.

The parents of the three had always suspected that Anna would move on first if the three were ever to split, simply because Anna seemed to contrast the others the most. She was very popular at social events and was very much an example of perfection in elegance. The two boys were graceful enough when there was call for it, but seemed to excel most in physical activities. Anna, however, did not separate herself from the other two at all. Her charisma just made the three of them more popular as a group, but even though all of their village looked upon the three of them in high esteem, they still made a point of being rebellious, together in their mischievous adventures always.

~

“Now, where are they?” Jason thought to himself, pulling himself back to focus on the present task. He scanned over the masses of gnolls and soldiers now engaged in a brutal melee. Everywhere he looked he saw combatants being felled, and blood being shed. He had feared that the soldiers of the town were not as well-trained as those at the capital. This battle was proving it, but seemed to him that more of the monsters were falling than soldiers, and for that, he was thankful. Some of the soldiers were fighting extremely well. The gnolls became increasingly more feral the closer they were to the alpha and the center of the field, however, and while Jason still felt he made the right choice killing their leader, he couldn’t help but notice that the act seemed to heighten the thirst for blood in many of the more able-bodied warriors amongst the gnolls.

He was beginning to worry. He really hadn’t thought through what he was going to do. He didn’t want to panic though, that wouldn’t benefit him, or anyone else, in the slightest. “They’re fine,” he said to himself out loud, “next time you just have to think about what happens afterward”. It was only after he forced himself to calm down that he saw them. (…)

{End transmission}

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As you can tell, that ended very abruptly… on the one side, that’s because I wrote myself into a corner, but I have — in just re-reading it now — already thought of a couple of ways to keep it going. Whether or not I choose this one for next entry, I will still be continuing it eventually.

Thanks for reading this drivel,
~BK~