What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Friday, June 29, 2012

POETRY: TIRED and DEATH

I'm not sure if this is an actual poetic form or not, but it sure is fun to write in, I think.

Tired
Movement slowing, thinking dulling, eyelids shutting
I sleep, I dream, I wake
Tired


Death,
Coming slowly, taking quickly, leaving quietly
As shadows fall away
Death

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Been A While...And I've Had Some Time To Think

     Last night was my Masters Presentation (similar to a Thesis Defense). In that presentation, I discussed the feature film project that I've been developing over the last year. Once I was finished, the panel grilled me with questions about the project and from those questions I've gained a few insights into how to tell a story about a story...if that makes sense.

     The film is a heavy drama about a widower and his autistic daughter. And while there are many difficult struggles and sad moments, it is also balanced out with a fair amount of humor. That said, in the presentation, time is limited and I had to choose which pieces of information to cover. Unfortunately, the main points in the story are all downers and I failed to mention the humor that balances it all out. The members on the panel were great at pointing that out and showing me how better to tell a story about a story (since that's what a presentation is all about anyway).

     This got me thinking about all the times I, as a storyteller (not just a filmmaker), have found myself telling stories about stories. Some times I'm pitching a movie idea or a novel, other times I'm chatting with friends, and every once in a while I'm telling my story about a story to the wall just so I can hear it for myself. Even now, I'm writing a story about a story in this blog. And far too often, I'm beginning see, I leave things out in the telling that shouldn't be forgotten.

     Returning to my film, pancakes play an important role in the father-daughter relationship. However, in the presentation, I failed to stress it sufficiently so that when the moment came for the pancakes to have their big moment, it failed to impress the panel as much as I'd hoped. Now, there's a delicate balance between seeding the story about a story with information, and blatantly giving things away. Subtlety is an art form unto itself that a good story teller must master. Far too often, I'm finding, when I'm telling a story I find subtlety comes easily to me, but when I need to tell a story about a story, my subtlety fades.

     I believe this is a common fault in many story tellers. When we craft a story, we're focused, balancing drama with humor, planting seeds, and building tension in anticipation of the grand finale. But when we're telling stories about that story, we forget. Something in our minds believes that our listener knows what we know and so we only hit the main points, leaving out the little bits in between that makes our story great.

     While I am not yet a master at this form of story telling, since I've only come to recognize it since last night, I'll refrain from getting preachy about how to fix this problem. I offer only this simple advice, tell the story. That's the whole reason whoever we're telling our story to is listening to us, so give them what they want.

     I'm still learning and growing as a story teller, and while my presentation was not perfect, members of the panel still cried when I intended for them to cry, they laughed when I wanted them to laugh, and they asked the questions I wanted them to ask when I wanted them to ask them. We can, all of us story tellers, improve, but along the way don't forget to cherish your accomplishments and success'.

SHORT STORY: SCREAM FOR THE WHISPERER

It was almost eleven thirty at night when Melissa finished cleaning up at the diner and was able to start heading home; everyone else had already left. She grabbed her purse, put on her overcoat, and checked herself over one last time in the mirror. Her brown hair was disheveled and hung dead at her shoulders. Her tired, brown eyes reflected how she felt and her usually pleasant complexion was worn and bedraggled. This was the last time that she would ever agree to both opening and closing the diner on the same day.
She did what she could with her hair before saying, “Lights, off!” in a commanding voice.
The air around her shuddered and the lights shut off. Melissa left the building and turned facing toward the front doors.
Admit no one except for the opener!” Again she used her commanding voice and again there was the shuddering in the surrounding air.
Though she was still very commanding, the waver in her voice betrayed the fatigue she felt. Melissa checked the doors briefly and then set off at a quick pace.
A block down from the diner the hairs on the back of her head stood on end and an odd pressure weighed itself against her back. She was being watched. All she needed to do was to call out and she could make the person show him or her self to her, but it was probably nothing to worry about. It wasn't such an unusual thing, even at this time of night and she continued walking. The watcher, though, did not lose sight of her and half way down the second block she couldn't ignore it any longer.
Show your self!” Melissa commanded.
no” a man whispered back.
Melissa stopped dead in her tracks, turning on the spot and seeing nothing but a dark street. If the man had used magic to keep himself hidden, he should have at least raised his voice. No one was powerful enough to simply whisper a command.
What do you want?” Melissa asked, now filling with fear.
a scream” the voice whispered back, his hot breath tickled her cheek.
Melissa gave a short cry, not intentionally, but because something had forced her to, as if the man did indeed have the power to create magic with his whispered answers.
Who are you?” she asked, turning around to face her assailant, though again all she saw was empty darkness.
Melissa steadied her breathing, waiting for a response. None came.
Show yourself!” She ordered the faceless voice.
Laughter.
Then, from a darkened alleyway before her, the shadows pulled away from the wall. Just as smoothly as they had blended into the wall, they blended back into the form of a tall man shrouded in a long cloak. His head was bowed and long, scraggly hair hid his face from Melissa's view. He drew closer. As he stepped, the black material of his cloak flowed back as though it wanted to melt back into the shadows and only the mans will kept them in place. With every step of his heavy boots on the pavement, Melissa's fear rose higher and higher.
He spread his arms out from his sides in a mock greeting; only now raising his head and revealing his face emaciated. He smiled and uneven, jagged teeth shone in the night. That was not, however, the worst; where his eyes should have been, there were two black orbs, distinct, yet matter-less, like a starless night sky.
Melissa turned to run, but the man whispered for her to stay and she was rooted to the ground. He walked right up to her face until there was barely half an inch between them. His demoniacal smile widened and he circled around behind her. His hand grasped the back of her neck and pulled her in closer.
scream for the whisperer,” was his only response to her struggling, his hot breath playing on her ears, his face almost touching her cheek.
There was a shuddering in the air surrounding them and Melissa lost all control as she let out a blood curdling scream.
He sighed after a moment and said, “thank you my dear,” in a contented manner as he let go of her neck and pushed her forward and away from him. “now die”

Monday, June 25, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 22

Samantha awoke to the usual stench of her own filth but the usual pain that accompanied consciousness was lessening; her wrists and ankles were losing their feeling. Tea Leaves had caught her trying to escape again he had been checking and tightening her bonds every few hours ever since. When she wasn't trying to escape, Samantha was either crying or being visited by Tea Leaves, and she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry, and so she held her tears for when he was gone. At the moment, she was too tired to try to escape and too emotionally drained to cry so she sat and waited for Tea Leaves to arrive. Judging by the sunlight it was getting near his usual time anyway.
Sure enough, barely a few minutes passed before she heard Tea Leaves' footsteps approaching and she steeled her herself against her fear. The door opened.
You're looking well, today,” Tea Leaves said as soon as he entered the room. As always, he didn't appear to find anything wrong with the situation.
You can't keep me like this forever,” Samantha stated while Tea Leaves checked her bonds.
You are, as always, and tragically, correct,” Tea Leaves replied, satisfied that Samantha was still held tight, “But I wouldn't think you'd be so eager for me to decide I couldn't hold you any longer,” He looked her in the eyes, his cold watery eyes not even flinching as he said, “Since I would have to kill you.”
I told you,” Samantha begged, “I'll go into hiding, I'll disappear, the others will never know. I—
Tea Leaves held up his hand to silence her and Samantha fell quiet.
They would find you and kill us both, as I've told you before.” Tea Leaves sighed, heavily, and his expression softened. “I'm sorry, my dear, but this is how it has to be.”
Samantha hung her head and looked down at her lap. She immediately looked away before her stomach could retch. She'd been in the chair for almost a week, not once had Tea Leaves let her out of it, no matter the reason.
Could you please clean me off?” Samantha found herself muttering.
Tea Leaves was getting up to leave.
I'm sorry?” He asked, “What was that, dear?”
I asked if you would at least clean me off since you wont let me do it myself.” Samantha looked down at the mess she sat in, soaking and staining her pants. It was even beginning to surrounded the base of her chair.
Tea Leaves shook his head. “I'd have to undo you,” He said.
Then pour some water on me!” Samantha screamed, momentarily losing control of herself as she thrashed around, rocking her chair back and forth to the point where she was in danger of tipping over.
The stench, the fear, everything she'd been forced to endure welled up inside of her until she couldn't hold it in any longer and she started to cry. Samantha screwed up her face as she tried to hold back the tears. She'd promised herself she wouldn't give Tea Leaves this satisfaction, but it was of no use. She'd never get free, never see her dad again, never get to apologize to him for what she's done.
My dear,” Tea Leaves said, his voice no longer firm or commanding, “I really do not wish to harm you...And if I can manage it, I will set you free.”
Samantha looked up at Tea Leaves and was shocked to find he was crying too.
Then why keep me like this?” Samantha asked.
Tea Leaves knelt back down and began to undo the tape on Samantha's feet.
Because I don't think the others believe I killed you,” Tea Leaves said, “And if it comes to it, I may need...evidence.”
If you'd told me I was in danger I would have believed you. I would have let you help me, make it look like you'd killed me instead of just kidnap me. I can still help you, if you'll let me.” Samantha hoped Tea Leaves believed her lies but with his face down, working on releasing her legs, she couldn't tell.
There are no windows in the bathroom,” Tea Leaves began once he'd released Samantha's legs and began working on her arms, “The door will be locked from the outside. I'll wash your clothes while you bath and then have them ready for you when you're done.”
Tea Leaves met her gaze and some of his seriousness was back, though a few tears still ran down his face.
I will try to find a way,” He said, “To set you free, but it will take time.”
Samantha nodded as the last of her bonds came free and she rubbed her numb hands together, trying to get some feeling back in them.
The bath was more wonderful than she could have imagined. As she sank down into the tub, feeling the warm water wash over her, she couldn't help but close her eyes and think of nothing for a time. The aches in her legs and back from having to sit for so long immediately began to fade. The raw skin around her wrists and ankles were soothed and the tape residue washed off easily after several minutes of soaking.
From time to time she heard Tea Leaves footsteps just outside the door and she made sure to splash around a bit so he knew she was still there and not trying to escape. But other than that, he left her alone and she cried out of relief.
I have to get out of here,” Samantha said to herself. She'd been talking to herself a lot recently, if only to hear a friendly voice.
Tea Leaves hadn't been lying when he said there were no windows in the bathroom, or that the door would be locked from the outside. In fact, from what little of the apartment she'd seen as Tea Leaves lead her to the bathroom, most of the doors looked like they had locks on the outside of them. She wasn't sure what she'd find if she looked in those other rooms, and she wasn't sure she wanted to. Regardless, they probably wouldn't have windows she could escape though. If they had windows, they'd be barred like the one in her room.
I'll have to find the front door,” She stated as Tea Leaves footsteps came by the door again. Samantha splashed again and he walked away.
I'll get him to trust me,” She said, “Get him to stop locking me in, and then I'll get away.”
Samantha nodded her head to herself and began soaping up to properly clean herself. The movement and scrubbing still hurt her sores and stiff joints, but getting to clean herself was worth it.
I'll go to Dad,” She muttered, feeling fresh hot tears run down her face, “I'll tell him everything.”

...tell him everything.”
Static crackled through the radio followed by some more splashing. Tea Leaves hung his head briefly, sighed, rubbed his face, and then opened the cupboard. The tea pot on the stove was already whistling. He grabbed a few little tins off the shelf and then moved the pot off the burner.
Pinch of this,” He said as he added flakes of dried leaves to the mugs beside the pot, “Pinch of that, and...”
He opened another tin and added a single pinch of its contents to the mug on his left. He poured the hot water into the mugs and stirred.
Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”
He dropped a cube of sugar into the mug on his left and then picked them both up. He whistled as he wound his way through the apartment, back toward the bathroom. As he drew closer her splashing became more deliberate.
Why do they always do that? He wondered.
When he reached the door he paused and then knocked.
Draw the curtain,” He said loudly to make sure she heard him, “I'm coming in.”
He waited until he heard the clinking of the curtain rings being jostled before he unlocked the door.
I'm sorry, my dear,” Tea Leaves whispered and then opened the door.

Friday, June 22, 2012

POETRY: 5 MORE LIMERICKS

There once was a girl named Beru
Who took everything said as quite true
So after a date said she sang like an ape
She formed a new band at the zoo

Quite often I set myself musing
On a creature I fear might abuse me
But when needing to think, nothing else can compete
When compared to this swordfish I'm using

There once was a duel fought out
Where the victor was clearly less stout
Ere' the fisherman died he rose up and cried
“Such a fierce blow from a trout”

A fine hardy yak from Tibet
Found its way down the hills to my step
With sweet glossy eyes, and looking so wise
It asked if I knew Johnny Depp

One bright sunny morning in May
A friend and I set out to play
Though others did stare at a sight so rare
As a child playing tag with a Grey
(Greys are the little aliens with the big heads)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SHORT STORY: CRIER Part 4

Sam was right, Dr. Ryshard hadn't been back to see him again since his first day. That was probably for the best. Most days, Sam spent his time divided between working on his project and curling up in the corner to cry. The day before, Sam had finished his project and so, with the sun just beginning to set, he was ready. The narrow ledge beneath his feet sloped ever so slightly away from the side of the Ryshard building and made it difficult to keep from slipping. He had to be quick, if he was overcome by the emotions now, he would probably jump. The lights from the city below illuminated the sculpted stone, metal, and glass structure. Up close he could almost appreciate the beauty. Above him was the final ledge he had to climb before he reached the very top of the Ryshard building. Sam's office was somewhere below. He tried not to think about it.
Fear welled up inside, threatening to overpower him. Sam punched the side of the building, the stone carvings biting deep into his fist and making it bleed. The pain drove the fear back and Sam reached up for the final ledge. The blood on his hand made it difficult to get a proper grip, but he managed to pull himself up before panic could take him. Once on the top of the building, Sam took hold of the rope he'd tied to his waist and began to pull. The bundle at the other end rose slowly in the fading sunlight. He'd had to pack it firmly with lots of padding in case it bumped against the wall.
An updraft caught the bundle and swung it out wide, pulling Sam with it. The edge of the building drew nearer and Sam dug his feet into the roof's rough surface. Sam slowed but he was still being dragged nearer the edge. If he held on, he'd be pulled off the roof to his death. If he let go, he'd lose this one and only chance. The promise of death was tempting, far more at that moment than it had been his entire time of being the Crier.
An short pipe sticking out of the roof caught his eye and Sam leaped for it before he could change his mind. He wrapped the rope around the base of the pipe and used it to anchor himself. The bundle swung back and Sam gritted his teeth as it collided with the side of the building. Something below cracked.
Sam pulled the bundle the rest of the way up and unwrapped it, fearing the worst. The first layer of wrapping came away easily, followed by the second. So far he couldn't feel any loose parts or see anything that would signify a broken component. The final layer of padding fell away and Sam breathed a sigh of relief. The crack from below must have been a window. Hopefully no one heard or saw it. Most people were gone by this time anyway. Still, Sam hurried over to the group of radio and satellite relays.
Which one is it?” Sam muttered to himself. The light was getting too dim to make out the signs that marked each one.
Sam rummaged through his pockets until he found the key chain light he'd brought. The light was weak, but that was the point. If anyone were watching on the security cameras, a bright light would stand out, but a faint one would go unnoticed. That was why Sam had picked sunset to implement his plan. The low light made it difficult for the cameras to get a good picture and gave Sam a good hour to work in.
Sam clicked on his light and made his way through the forest of aerials and dishes until he found the one he wanted. The service panel opened easily and he began wiring up the device he'd been working on. He had to be quick, if he took too long plugging it in, the change in the signal would become obvious and they could shut him out. His fingers trembled and he had to punch the rooftop several times to push back the nervousness and anxiety. At last the final wires were spliced together and Sam turned on his device. A high pitched hum was all that signified that anything was happening.
Sam leaned back against the base of the relay dish and took a drink from the water bottle he'd stored with his device. It would take a couple hours for the signal to be changed. Any sudden changes would be noticed, but subtle ones were far more likely to slip by. He took another drink. The water had a strong metallic flavor and Sam made a face as he downed another gulp. A quick look around revealed where all the security cameras were and Sam noted that there was a blind spot right where he was sitting. That was good, he didn't want to have to climb down tonight.
Besides, Sam thought, taking another drink from his water bottle and looking out over the city, It's such a beautiful night.

Monday, June 18, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 21

Matt wasn't sure how he should feel as he entered the old building that housed the physics department. A poster on the wall caught his eye and made him chuckle. The theater department was putting on an adaptation of Charles Dickens' “Tale of Two Cities”.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Matt nodded appreciably. “That about sums it up.”
Everything in the building, walls, floors, ceiling, was white and the intense lights reflected off of everything, dazzling his eyes. Memories of the headaches he use to get in this building came back to him and he wondered at how he'd never figured out why. Matt ignored the elevator and instead took the stairs. The stairwell, while intended only for emergencies, was not alarmed and the dull concrete grays were a welcomed relief to his already throbbing eyes.
Matt checked the scribbled note on the back of his hand. Dr. Muto had moved offices since the last time they'd seen each other. When he and Matt first met, Dr. Muto's office was in the basement in a back corner. They use to joke that the office was so small that it must have been a janitor closet before. The joke lost its appeal when, after an experiment ruined the carpet, they found the floor drain. Shortly after that day was when Dr. Muto moved offices for the first time. Then again, and again, each time to a slightly nicer, slightly bigger office, and always on a floor higher. Matt paused on the fifth floor landing, briefly regretting his decision to take the stairs, and checked the note on his hand again. Dr. Muto's office was one more floor up, just shy of the Dean's Complex on the seventh floor. Matt climbed the last few steps to the sixth floor and gave himself a minute to catch his breath.
I need to get out more,” He said, wiping his forehead on his sleeve.
At last he was ready and pushed open the door. The bright whiteness immediately assaulted his eyes and he had to blink several times before his eyes could adjust. To his side, the elevator dinged and its doors opened. Judge Dervin stepped out. It was odd to see Judge Dervin out of his robes and instead in regular clothes. For a moment they both stared at one another
Hi,” Matt said at last, waving an awkward hand.
Judge Dervin glanced over to the door Matt had just come through. “You took the stairs?” He asked.
Matt nodded.
Wish I had your energy,” Judge Dervin sighed.
Me too,” Matt said.
Judge Dervin looked at him, puzzled. “What?” He asked.
I wish I had my energy too,” Matt said. “I seem to have lost it all in the stairwell.”
Judge Dervin chortled and patted Matt on the shoulder. Matt didn't know what to make of it. Since they'd never really been on good terms with one another, such an obviously friendly gesture was a bit of a shock.
Glad you could make it,” Judge Dervin said and then turned to lead the way to Dr. Muto's office.
Thanks for the invite,” Matt said with not quite enough conviction in his voice.
Judge Dervin eyed him as they walked along. “I did get him to agree to meeting us here like you asked, instead of the courthouse.”
Yes, thank you for that.”
I thought you'd be a bit happier to be back here,” Judge Dervin said.
Why?” Matt asked, “You know they kicked me out.”
Well,” Judge Dervin fished around, “You just sounded so eager on the phone to have the meeting here.”
Matt chuckled and shook his head. He'd been eager to not meet in the courthouse. Just being in the building made him uncomfortable, feel like he was trapped, imprisoned. Here at least he could walk out at any time without fear of being restrained.
Judge Dervin looked like he was about to speak and so Matt, noticing that they'd reached Dr. Muto's office, knocked on the door and put an end to his and Judge Dervin's conversation.
A moment later, the door swung open and Dr. Muto waved them silently into his office. There were cups of tea for them all, placed perfectly on the table in the center of the room. Three chairs were placed around the table. Dr. Muto's desk was off to the side, clean and organized. Matt frowned. He missed the Dr. Muto who's office was nothing more than a glorified broom cupboard. The happy, excited genius who would help students on their unapproved projects simply because he thought they were interesting. Certainly Dr. Muto had always had his quirks, his knack for cleanliness and perfection, but back then those things had been endearing. Now they were imposing.
Thank you for letting us meet here,” Judge Dervin said when they'd all taken their seats.
Dr. Muto waved a dismissive hand. “It made sense,” He said curtly. “The university is a central location where the courthouse is not.”
Dr. Muto took a sip of his tea. Matt did as well, remembering back to the times they'd taken turns brewing it while the other kept working on whatever project they had at hand. Judge Dervin tested the tea, downing a polite sip before placing the cup back down on the table.
Now, what can I do for you?” Dr. Muto asked, turning to Judge Dervin.
Judge Dervin pulled out a folder and opened it, revealing copious notes. “You expelled this young man, after the two of you fought,” Judge Dervin began, “after he presented a thesis that you have admitted to be correct. Why?”
Matt almost spit out his tea. For a moment he considered standing up and leaving but his body didn't respond to any of his commands to rise and so he decided to sit it out and watch.
Dr. Muto shot a glance at Matt, but Matt was fairly certain his own expression of shock and horror would be enough to convince Dr. Muto that Judge Dervin was acting of his own accord.
I see,” Dr. Muto said, placing his cup back down on the table.
Matt couldn't help but notice how Dr. Muto placed his cup in such a way that it formed a perfect isosceles triangle with the other two cups.
I told you before,” Dr. Muto said, “Matt's ideas were not new and our disagreements came on the implementation.”
And what does that mean?” Judge Dervin demanded.
Matt, again, felt like leaving but couldn't.
It means his thesis was political statement, a social-economic piece of wishful thinking.”
Matt dug his fingers down into his chair, blood pumping in his head as the anger rushed back in on him. Anger he thought he'd let go of.
At least,” Dr. Muto said, his voice softening, “That was what I thought then, and I was wrong.”
Matt blinked. Dr. Muto, sitting there in front of him, was looking at him in the same way he use to all those years ago in his basement office. Like a proud parent.
I have never felt right about how those events played out,” Dr. Muto said, now speaking directly to Matt, “I've read and reread the thesis since then and, after my conversation with Judge Dervin, I finally began to understand.”
Dr. Muto got up from the table and moved over to his desk. He picked up a thin stack of papers and returned to the table. He thumbed through them, as though making sure everything was in order and then handed them over to Matt.
I've spoken to the Dean,” Dr. Muto went on as Matt scanned the papers, not believing his eyes, “And with the President of the university. They've both agreed, as you can see there, to revoke your previous expulsion, grant you your doctorate and,” Dr. Muto paused to take a sip of tea at the same time that Matt reached the final sheet of paper.
In moments he'd read through it. Dr. Muto let him read through it again.
And,” Dr. Muto said when Matt looked up from the paper, “Grant you space here to work on developing your ideas.”
It says here I'd be made an assistant professor,” Matt said, dumbfounded.
Judge Dervin took the papers from Matt's shaking hands and looked through them.
Yes,” Dr. Muto said. “We are all aware of how hard we made things for you over these past few years and feel it only fair to try to make things up to you.”
Matt still couldn't believe it. He glanced over to Judge Dervin who was frowning.
And what does he have to do in return?” Judge Dervin asked, setting the papers down.
What do you mean?” Dr. Muto asked.
Does Matt have to sign some kind of paper absolving the university of any wrong doing for the expulsion?”
Why would we have him sign anything like that?” Dr. Muto asked, “We are apologizing, not bribing.”
Judge Dervin huffed at that but said nothing else.
Really, Matt,” Dr. Muto said, “You don't have to do anything you don't want to. We really are sorry. We were wrong and we are taking responsibility for our mistakes.”
Matt was about to reply when Judge Dervin's cell phone rang.
I'm sorry,” He said, and answered the phone. “Judge Dervin speaking.”
Dr. Muto's smile faded slightly but he otherwise sat patiently. Matt continued to sit and stare at the papers before him. Everything he'd ever wanted. Funding for his projects. Never having to write another stupid paper for the Bleeding Edge.
...where was it?” Judge Dervin was saying as he scribbled down some notes in his folder. “Yes, certainly, I'll call the airline and...oh, I see...alright then, I'll call you tonight when I get in. Bye.” Judge Dervin hung up. “I'm sorry but I must be going,” He said, rising from the table and collecting his things.
Is something the matter?” Dr. Muto asked.
My daughter went missing a few days back,” Judge Dervin said, “They just found her car and they're flying me out tonight.” With that, Judge Dervin turned and left the room.
Poor man,” Dr. Muto said.
Yeah, but at least he gets to go someplace warm,” Matt said.
Hmm?”
Oh, the address he wrote down was in Texas,”
Dr. Muto's smile slipped even further. “Where exactly?” He asked.
Matt shut his eyes, envisioning in his mind what he'd seen and then tracing in out with his finger on the table. Dr. Muto jumped up from his seat and rushed to the phone.
Thank you,” He said hurriedly, “But I just remembered I was suppose to call someone. Please take those papers with you, think it over and let me know when you've come to a decision.”
Matt stumbled out of the room and back into the blinding white light, utterly confused but pleased with the results of the meeting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

POETRY: LEGACY

In honor of Father's Day this Sunday.

Some are better some are worse
But we can't pick and choose
The one we've got's the one we get
And on the good one's will I muse

Sometimes they wake up early
To get to work on time
Sometimes they stay up late
Making sure that all is fine

They offer words of comfort
And give us sage advice
They bear us up when times are hard
And make us feel so nice

If we do wrong, they discipline
Ensure we don't repeat
Lessons we will not forget
To keep us on our feet

They lead us by example
Ignoring any bother
They raise us up to do what's right
Because they are our fathers

So thank you Dad's across the world
For all that you have done
What you've taught us we now pass on
To children of our own.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SHORT STORY: CRIER Part 3

It had been hours since Dr. Ryshard and the others had left. Their final remarks still burned in his mind. Just hang in there. Sam punched the wall, adding yet another dent. His knuckles were bleeding and his wrist hurt but he liked the pain, it helped distract from the other pains he felt, the pains that weren't his. He punched again, and again, burying both fists into the wall as the sheet rock gave way. He didn't stop hitting. With each blow he felt his mind clear a little bit more, numbed the foreign thoughts and feelings. At last, he heard a crack that wasn't the wall and a stab of pain shot from his hand and up his arm like electricity.
His mind was clear.
Sam panted, lying down on the floor and cradling his broken hand. He still had his own negative emotions, but the others were gone, blocked somehow. Sam knew what a dangerous precedent this was to set, but finding relief from the anguish was worth it, for now. With his mind clear, the oddness about Dr. Ryshard and the others struck him. they'd expressed worry, concern, perhaps even fear. Things no one but the Crier was supposed to be able to feel.
The pain in Sam's hand began to lessen and the other pain returned, driving out his ability to focus. The only thing he knew was that Dr. Ryshard, and the few others with him, weren't part of the system. Their emotions were their own. Still, he wouldn't get anywhere without being able to focus. Perhaps he'd be able to find more out at his new job.
Getting ready for the day was a chore in and of itself. Not only did he get overcome with emotion every few minutes, but with the broken hand even simple tasks like buttoning up his shirt became almost impossible. He was late, but Dr. Ryshard should understand.
It was well past midday by the time Sam found himself staring up at Ryshard Dynamics. The building was the largest in the city, the highest levels passed above the cloud layer that hung over the city on most days. At the very top, Sam knew, were the emitters of the signal that created the Emotional Resonance. His identity card granted him access into the building and he quickly made his way to the restroom. His nervousness and anxiety fed off of the other fears swarming his mind and his stomach clenched. He spent several minutes face down in the toilet bowl. By the time he calmed himself down enough to leave, his stomach muscles ached and his teeth felt gritty and rough. Not to say anything about the taste.
His office was small but not so small that he felt trapped. The windows offered what he would have once thought of as a pristine view of the city. His work station lent itself to just about anything he could want to work on with places for experiments, diagrams, computers, prototypes, and notes. He just didn't know what he wanted to do with it now, if anything at all.
I didn't expect you today.”
Sam turned. Dr. Ryshard stood in the open doorway, leaning against the door frame with a concerned look on his face.
I have a job to do,” Sam stated. The knot in his stomach tightened and he was thankful he'd already purged.
Yes,” Dr. Ryshard said, stepping properly into the room, “And if spending some time here helps then by all means. Anything you want.”
I meant my job here,” Sam motioned to the work station. “Or was this all part of your plan?”
I told you before,” Dr. Ryshard ran a hand along the work station's surface, “The Crier's aren't chosen by us. We just keep an eye out for them so we can educate them, just like we did for you this morning.”
So,” Sam said, his anger rising, “you don't even want me here?”
I do want you here, Sam,” Dr. Ryshard said, meeting his gaze, “But given the recent changes you've experienced I think it would be quite unfair of me to either fire you or force you to show up on time for work.”
Dr. Ryshard sighed, looking much older than he was as the concern wrinkled his face in the afternoon light. “All I can ask is that you do your best. You'll still the same pay and benefits that you would have done had this not happened.” He moved back toward the door to leave.
How do you do it?” Sam finally asked, not knowing if or when he'd have another opportunity to speak so openly with Dr. Ryshard. Somehow, he doubted that the president of such a large corporation didn't make personal visits to employees that often.
Do what?” Dr. Ryshard asked, turning back to look at Sam.
You feel your emotions, all of them,” Sam knew it sounded awkward but it couldn't be helped. “How do you do it?”
Dr. Ryshard shook his head. “You know how many people notice that about me?
It isn't just you,” Sam interjected.
There are others, yes, but still, most people can't feel concerned by it and so they never think about it,” Dr. Ryshard moved back into the room and shut the door behind him, presumably so that no one else would hear their conversation. “But what's always surprised me is that not even the Crier's seem to ever notice. Or if they have, they never asked about it.”
So what?” Sam asked.
Just noting your observation.”
And?”
And regretting the fact that I cannot give you a satisfactory answer,” Dr. Ryshard sat down in one of the rooms two chairs.
Why not?” Sam asked, taking the other seat at Dr. Ryshard's gesture.
This is dangerous ground, Sam, for both of us.”
Sam waited. He wanted to speak but the emotions were welling up again and were threatening to overpower him. Hot tears streamed down his face but other than that he kept his composure.
If you need a few moments to—
Just tell me,” Sam said through his tightening throat.
I need you to listen to me very carefully,” Dr. Ryshard said, lowering his voice, “You cannot speak about my emotions, or anyone else who feels like I do...And no, you cannot do what we do, there's no way of knowing what it would do to the system.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 20

Oh my gosh, shut up!” Melanie cried, throwing one of the many shirts laid out in front of her at Joan.
It's true,” Joan said, holding up her arms in defense against the projectile clothing.
Melanie glared non-threateningly at Joan and tried on another outfit. “What about this?” She asked.
Joan only shook her head. “You're supposed to be helping me decide on what to wear,” She said witheringly, “Not the other way around.”
Yes, well,” Melanie retorted, “You're not trying very hard so you might as well help me instead.”
Right.”
Besides,” Melanie went on, “It's your first date.”
Exactly,” Joan exclaimed as she held up another outfit for appraisal to which Melanie made a face of disgust. “You and Mike are already going out. I don't see why you're so concerned.”
Ah, see, that's where you're wrong,” Melanie said wisely. “Why try hard when there's no solid relationship? No promise of reward. But when you've got 'em hooked,” Melanie winked conspiratorially, “That's when you want to impress them and keep them interested.”
Joan shrugged and returned to her own pile of clothing.
I don't even know why you wanted so much time to get ready,” Melanie said, more to herself than to Joan, “Date's not even for another three hours.”
Hey Mel,” Joan said, using a nickname reserved only for the most dire of situations.
What is it?” Melanie asked, dropping both her pretense and the clothes she was holding.
I haven't been on a date since Junior year.”
Melanie stared at Joan for a while, taking in the anxiety in her face, the worry in her voice. “That long, huh?” She said at last.
Joan shrugged. She knew it was a silly thing, especially considering how nervous and uncomfortable Tom apparently was with the whole situation. But still, it was one more thing her lost year had taken from her. Not to mention the renewal of how disappointing her Senior year had been without a single date. She and Melanie hadn't been as close as friends then so it didn't surprise her that Melanie didn't know.
Okay, then” Melanie said, brightening, “Tom's favorite color is yellow so I think that top there would be best,” Melanie indicated a shirt in her own pile. “And that skirt there would go really well with it,” She pointed to one of Joan's skirts, a lightweight flowery one she'd bought the moment she was released but hadn't found the right occasion to wear it yet.
Joan eyed the shirt Melanie was holding out for her, it was new, the tags were still on it and everything. “You know what could happen,” She said, still not taking the shirt.
It's okay,” Melanie said, not backing down and offering the shirt more forcefully.
But what if—
Oh just burn a hole in the back of it and get it over with!” Melanie chuckled, half throwing the shirt at Joan.
Joan pulled the shirt off from covering her face. The tags caught slightly in her hair as she did but came free without too much trouble. “You're sure?” Joan asked before changing.
Burn away,” Melanie said with a flippant wave of her hand, though Joan could see a hint of regret in her eyes.
Melanie would never let Joan go on the date now without the shirt and Joan knew it.
I'll try not to burn,” Joan said as she put on the shirt and looked herself over in the mirror. It fit her quite nicely. “Thank you,” She said.
Melanie nodded and opened her mouth to say something but her cell phone rang and cut her off before she could get any words out.
Hello?” Melanie said as Joan put on her flowery skirt and admired her reflection. She'd never had a very good eye for matching clothes. Melanie was a natural. Perhaps Melanie could—
NO!” Melanie screamed, making Joan jump and almost ignite.
In the short amount of time it took Joan to turn around, Melanie had sprinted from the room.
What's wrong?” Joan called out, following her into the living room. The TV was on and Melanie had collapsed onto the couch, barely in a sitting position.

Melanie's heart didn't seem to want to work right. It couldn't be true. Something, someone had to be wrong. But there it was, on the television, breaking news and everything.
...this morning when the first of three explosions rocked the facility,” The news anchor said. “Authorities are still uncertain how much radiation has been released.”
Melanie?” Joan's voice intoned from somewhere nearby.
...that were supposed to prevent this kind of accident seem to have failed,” An expert was saying. “We're not sure why yet, and we're not ruling out the possibility that this wasn't an accident at all, though our investigation is ongoing and may take some time.”
The image on the television screen changed to that of an areal view of the nuclear power plant. The silos that vented the heated steam were gone, collapsed in on top of themselves. Several of the containment units were nothing more than piles of rubble.
Melanie?” Joan's voice again, closer this time.
Melanie's heart still didn't want to work right and insisted on skipping beats. Her breathing was becoming uneven too.
It could take weeks, if not months, to clean all this up enough for us to begin recovering the bodies,” The expert on the television said.
Dad,” Melanie managed to utter. She swayed, her vision tinting green and darkening around the edges. Her stomach joined her heart in its irregular constrictions and she thought she might be sick if she didn't pass out first. In fact, it seemed to Melanie that it had become a race between the two.
Her stomach won. Barely.

Joan got to Melanie's side right in time to get a lap full of vomit. Through her disgust and gagging, Joan still manged to catch Melanie before she hit the floor.

Friday, June 8, 2012

POETRY: NIGHTMARES

Inspired by the night terrors I had as a child.

 Another night to toss and turn
Of pains and dreams unwanted
Nightmares so real that when I wake
The wounds from them I feel
Every night I find I'm hunted
Chased, attacked, and broken
In the morn, my body bruised
Where joint and flesh were torn
I stretch, I ache, I carry on
I try not to complain
I always wonder why it is
I suffer in this manner


   

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SHORT STORY: CRIER Part 2

Dr. Ryshard shifted in his seat, which was odd. It showed discomfort, something he shouldn't be able to feel. “Tell me,” He said, “What do you know about the system that makes our world perfect?” He said.
Sam had heard of it everyone had. Emotional Resonance. Though the details were always a bit vague.
All negative emotions are muted, leaving only the positive emotions to be experienced,” Sam said.
Dr. Ryshard pursed his lips and bobbed his head in partial agreement. “Yes,” He said, “And no. You see, imagine every person in the world is like so many tiny pools of water, and their emotions are like ripples. Some ripples are calming, others disruptive. What Emotional Resonance does, in simple terms, is collect all of those disruptive ripples and focus them all into one pool, allowing the rest to continue on peacefully.”
Sam frowned and looked away from the group of people gathered before him, thinking. The sky outside was clear and blue but if it gave him any joy he couldn't tell. Anger and depression swelled up again inside of him.
And so now I'm that pool?” He demanded, making the others in the room shy back.
Dr. Ryshard sighed. “It would appear so,” He said calmly.
Well I don't want it!” Sam screamed. “Pick someone else. Get a volunteer. I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS!”
The others in the room backed even further away at this outburst. Everyone except Dr. Ryshard.
I'm afraid no one ever has a choice in this matter,” Dr. Ryshard explained in his still, calm voice. “When my father first implemented the use Emotional Resonance, he thought everyone would benefit. Then they found the first Crier.”
The what?” Sam interrupted.
Crier, it's the term they use for people like you.”
Because we cry,” Sam muttered angrily.
Given their options at the time, I believe it was a rather gentle term.”
Sam glared at Dr. Ryshard.
You see,” Dr. Ryshard went on, “They only found the first Crier after he died. His family hadn't heard from him, he'd stopped going to work, never answered his phone. But no one was all that concerned, no one could feel concerned. Eventually his neighbor went to see him and found him dead. He'd killed himself. Two more Criers died before my father and his colleagues were able to figure out what was going on.
And that was?” Sam prompted when Dr. Ryshard paused in his explanation.
Could I have a glass of water?” Dr. Ryshard asked.
What? No!” Sam exclaimed and moved to get to his feet. What he intended to do once he got there he wasn't sure but he couldn't just sit.
The woman on his other side reached out her arm and took hold of his shoulder, preventing him from getting up. Sam bumped back down, his head knocking against the back of the couch painfully. She gently stroked his back before he could react and that was enough to take the edge off his anger and keep him in his seat.
Unfortunately,” Dr. Ryshard continued as though there had been no interruption, “We can't control who becomes a Crier. Nor can we take this calling away from you.”
But why?” Sam asked, aware of the tears that were beginning to run down his face.
Let's go back to the analogy of the ponds,” Dr. Ryshard said. “Let's imagine that there were a device that could transmit a sound that would steady the water, cancel out the larger waves. Well, some times, there would be a pond who's waves were out of synch. They would be strengthened, rather than dampened. Emotional Resonance works in a similar manner with one exception.”
And what's that?” Sam asked.
Human emotions, unlike ripples the in a pond, change the signal,” Dr. Ryshard said. “Every time the Emotional Resonance signal affects a person, taking away their negative emotions, the signal changes. Over time those changes add up until, somewhere in the world, those changes have to be removed from the signal or else the system falls apart.”
Dr. Ryshard became very interested the carpet and the backs of his hands as he gathered his thought. Sam wanted to speak, he had a thousand arguments to make, but somehow he couldn't find the will to voice them. He wanted to die. Let it all end, let the world and all of it's terrible misery die with it.
We've tried putting relays in the system that could reboot the signal. Tried medication for the Crier. Countess other thing. Nothing works. The most we've ever accomplished was to cancel out the signal,” Dr. Ryshard's face darkened, “And that was the worst moment of all. So many people, suddenly feeling emotions they'd never had to deal with, it–”
Oh, poor them,” Sam said, “How terrible for them to feel their own emotions. What about me? I have to feel EVERYONES!” He didn't mean to scream but he couldn't help it. Now that he knew these emotions weren't his, the random fluctuations were easier to detect. Certainly, his personal emotions played a role in which emotions got the focus and attention, but the intensity, the instability, was not his own.
Thousands died that day,” Dr. Ryshard said.
But they weren't Criers,” Sam noted.
No, they weren't,” Dr. Ryshard agreed, “But they were all born after the invention of Emotional Resonance. They'd never experienced depression, disappointment, anger. They had no coping mechanisms to help them.”
And what about me?” Sam asked. “How long before I just go and jump off a building?”
You won't.”
Why not? I want to.”
But you won't,” Dr. Ryshard assured him. “You see,” He went on, “It seems that each Crier is selected because they have a naturally strong desire to live as well as a high resistance to the negative emotions. Now true, many of the early Criers took their lives, but they didn't have what you have.”
And that is?” Sam asked, knowing, and hating, that Dr. Ryshard's words were true.
Understanding,” Dr. Ryshard said. “You know why you suffer, that the pain is not yours and so you may, perhaps, find a way to detach yourself from it. Others in the past have done so.”
But why not just shut off the signal?” Sam pleaded.
I already told you what happened before, when we accidentally canceled out the Emotional Resonance.”
Give them warning,” Sam said, “Besides, a few thousand people scattered throughout the world—
The signal was not lost over the entire world,” Dr. Ryshard interrupted, “Only in one town. Barely a handful of people were left and they were mostly the ones who were either too old or too young to end their suffering.”
Dr. Ryshard stood, the woman on his other side following suit.
So what do I do now?” Sam asked.