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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 27

Joan burned. Fire licked across her body and she relished the calming sensation that accompanied it. Matt had attached a few instruments to Joan before she started to burn but the majority of them surrounded her inside the kiln and she couldn't help but be amazed at how well they stood up to her heat. She'd removed a single brick at eye level in the kiln's outer wall so she could look out and speak to Matt while he gathered more data.
The kiln itself sat in an open courtyard behind the small brick building that was the Potter Barn. A few other kilns sat in the courtyard along with cooling racks and stacks of spare bricks and Matt used one such collection of bricks for his chair.
So what can you tell me about my fire?” Joan asked as soon as Matt looked back up from his laptop.
Well,” Matt scratched his head, “as far as I can tell, it's normal fire everywhere except for the first quarter of an inch above your skin and around your clothes.”
What do you mean, 'normal fire'?” Joan asked, “How is any of this normal?”
Matt rested his laptop on a pile of bricks beside him and got up to pace.
Fire follows some very specific rules,” He explained, “It radiates energy in a predictable fashion and can be, more or less, mapped out based on it's source. I've spent the past couple of weeks going over the data I collected last time and I was able write a program that could map our your fire. It's running right now and it's working pretty good.”
So what's wrong with the quarter inch above my skin?” Joan asked.
Not too much,” Matt said, “Other than the fact that it breaks the laws of thermodynamics.”
Thermo-what?”
Thermodynamics,” Matt stated, “The laws that govern heat transfer, among other things, but let's stick with the basics.”
Sounds good,” Joan agreed, remembering back to how much she loathed science class. “So what rules am I breaking?”
So, under normal situations, heat propagates through either physical contact, like when you touch a hot skillet, or through radiation, like the sun warming the Earth. Now, radiant heat spreads out equally in every direction, and since hot air rises, it's assumed that heat will propagate upward faster and farther than any other direction. Follow me?”
Joan's fire turned from calming into frustrating. “No,” She admitted.
Sorry,” Matt said, “Let me try again.”
Matt picked up his notepad and quickly scribbled something down.
Here, look at this,” He said and held the paper up for Joan to see.
The picture depicted a burning log, showing the majority of the heat rising upward and a little less going to the sides and even less going down. To top off the sketch, a stick figure was touching the log with a fair amount of heat going into it's hand.
You should have been an artist,” Joan teased. “I particularly like the expression on the unfortunate stick man.”
Matt shrugged. “But you get the idea?” He asked.
I guess,” Joan said.
So where your fire differs, is that quarter inch just around you and your clothes.”
Different how?” Joan asked.
Different in that instead of the heat radiating in every direction, it all radiates away from you or your clothes in a straight line.”
But isn't that how a flame thrower works?” Joan asked, still trying to wrap her mind around it all.
A flame thrower shoots a flammable gas or liquid across a small pilot light,” Matt said, “The fuel ignites and continues forward. But the heat still propagates like usual.”
Oh,” Joan nodded, though she wasn't sure she quite understood the problem yet. “So what's your best guess?”
Psychic projection,” Matt replied without missing a beat. “Though I'd have to consult a neurologist to figure out a way to test my theory.”
Joan snickered as her fire turned away from frustrating and became amused.
I'm psychic, am I?” She asked.
A heliopath, to be specific,” Matt said and picked up his laptop once more and began looking over the data. “And before you ask, a heliopath is a person who creates fire. And no, you can't move objects with your mind or see into the future or commune with spirits.”
Joan shut her open mouth and her fire sulked mildly.
Whoa,” Matt said at once, staring at his laptop “What did you just do?”
What? Nothing,” Joan stated.
Well something happened,” Matt said, typing away on his laptop. “Your fire's not as hot any more, and it's...slower, for lack of a better word.”
Maybe It's just going out?” Joan ventured.
No, I've seen that before,” Matt said, “This is something different. It happened all at once, too, across all of your fire. That shouldn't happen. It should have begun at the source and then spread out like normal.”
Matt continued to work on his laptop and, regardless of what Matt said, she felt her fire diminishing.
I'm going out,” Joan announced.
Matt paused briefly in his typing, “What's his name?” He asked before resuming his work.
What? No, I mean my fire is going out,” Joan snickered again and her fire shifted one last time before going out.
There!” Matt exclaimed, “Right before your fire went out it changed again.”
Joan didn't know what to say so she said nothing and began pulling off the sensors Matt had attached to her before. In less than a minute she stepped out of the kiln and handed Matt his instruments.
Let me know what you find,” She said.
Yeah, of course,” Matt said as he began packing away his things.
Joan began to make her way towards the gate that led out of the courtyard.
Um, Joan?” Matt called after her.
She turned back, confused by Matt's uncomfortable expression.
I've got a new job, working at the University, doing research and such, and I was wondering if you'd be interested in helping me with my new project?” Matt said all in one breath.
Joan wavered. “I'm not much of a scientist,” She said.
No, I know that, it's just that my project is a heat machine, it turns heat into electricity,” Matt explained, “And I was thinking that it would be interesting to see how much energy you can produce.”
The idea of standing inside of some cramped compartment, probably made of metal, with a large locking door, seemed too much like her old cell and she immediately broke out in a cold sweat.
I'd really rather not,” She said, “Sorry.”
Matt diminished but didn't try to argue with her. Instead he said, “Okay, see you in a couple weeks when I've finished going over the data?”
Sure,” Joan replied and left Matt to finish packing up.

Friday, July 27, 2012

POETRY: THIS WEEK'S POEM


Editing a film
Audio is causing grief
Patience is my friend

SHORT STORY: SHORT SHORTS

A brief explanation: From time to time I like to see how short I can make a short story. It's a good exercise in brevity. I'm not the only writer to do this, there are even competitions that do this. They give a maximum word count: 100, 50, 10, etc. Ernest Hemingway is said to have authored a short story in 6 words (though this may just be an urban legend) as follows:
For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”
The following is a small collection of stories I have written in an attempt to capture similar brevity, though not necessarily limited to just 6 words.

17
The floor boards creaked. The little boy looked beneath his bed. His mother wept at the funeral.

12
Several hours and one test later, she knew her dreams were dashed.

9
Can't stop eating. Bathroom scale's broken. Welcome to America
7
In the Beginning, things happened. The End.

IMMOLATION: Chapter 26

Shafts of sunlight cut through the room, let in by the tall windows on either side of the pulpit. Almost every pew was filled with people dressed in black. Melanie didn't know most of them. Outside was a beautifully warm summer day whereas inside the chapel the air conditioner appeared to be working overtime to prevent those inside from being able to enjoy the weather. The incessant hum from the vents above made Melanie both agitated and drowsy at the same time. Judging by what she could see of the others around her, she was not the only one so affected.
Below the podium at the front of the room were several photographs arranged around wreath that in turn surrounded a large picture of a middle aged man, smiling. As the speakers all took their turn standing at the podium while they shared their thoughts, their memories, their advice, Melanie found it difficult not to let her gaze wander down to the large photograph of her dad. And every time she looked at the picture she choked up and it would take her several minutes to quell her tears.
As the final speaker moved to the podium, Melanie cried quietly into her handkerchief, flanked by Joan on the left and Mike on the right. Joan and mike had both argued against sitting in the family section during the funeral but Melanie had insisted and neither Joan nor Mike could make any more arguments when Melanie's mom stepped in and gave them each a formal invitation to sit with them during the services.
Mike gave up early on in the ceremony trying to hold Melanie as he tried to console her, and she instead held onto his arm. There was something so comforting about having his arm there to hold onto, much more so than having him holding her and Melanie wasn't in any mood to argue with her instincts. Mike glanced over to her from time to time but he otherwise let her be. He was learning.
...but let us not allow our memories to be tarnished,” The speaker, her uncle, was saying, “By the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. For it is in forgiveness that we will find solace,” He'd always had a way with words. Perhaps that was why he'd been asked to be the closing speaker.
Joan snorted in derision and Melanie elbowed her in the side.
Sorry,” Joan whispered.
Melanie dabbed at her eyes and stemmed the flow of tears for the time being. Joan was blushing with embarrassment as well as glancing around to see who else had heard her. Melanie doubted anyone else had; Joan, at least, was subtle. But still, now was not the time for pessimism.
Her eyes began to wander back toward the photographs and so, not wanting to begin crying again so soon, she focused her attention on the casket instead. It was empty, of course, except for the few things people had placed inside themselves before the service began. Very few bodies had been recovered from the nuclear power plant, mostly those on the fringes of the complex. Melanie's dad had worked right next to the reactor, where the first explosions hit. Even if they found a way to get in that deep, there probably wasn't anything left for them to bury anyway. Thus the empty coffin.
Melanie began to cry. Mike leaned into her as much as he reasonably could to give her support and Joan patted her on the knee. Melanie rested her head on Mike's shoulder a listened to her uncle as he finished his remarks.
...whoever it is that brought this disaster upon our family, and the hundreds of other families who have been similarly affected. Just as they blazed a terrifying light into our lives in their attempt to scar and destroy us, so let us burn all the more brightly. For we must be beacons of hope, and not despair. We who have suffered so much can now extend the helping hand to those around us, who too may be suffering, and together we will become so much the stronger.”
Melanie leaned over to Joan and caught her attention.
Joan,” Melanie said, “Would you burn a little flame for my dad?”
Joan looked at her, uncertain. She'd been instructed not to burn while at the funeral and had every intention of not causing problems here, of all places.
Please?” Melanie begged, “I know it's stupid, but it would mean a lot to me.”
Joan nodded at last and rested her hand on Melanie's knee. A small flame spread out from the back of her hand until it covered Melanie's knee.
Someone's been practicing,” Melanie said as the fire continued to burn without scorching her dress or burning her skin.
Joan smiled a wane smile before turning back to watch as the casket was carried down the isle to the waiting hearse outside.

POETRY: LAST WEEK'S POEM

This weekend brings change
School is over, work begins
I'm making movies

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update: This Week

Sorry for the lack of posting this week. I had finals last week and graduation this past Saturday for my MFA in Producing for Film. Lots of family in town and just haven't been able to post. Never fear, I'll be back to speed this Friday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SHORT STORY: THE BOY AND THE CAR

He could only stand there and watch in horror as the car rolled forward. The was no one else in sight and the little boy wouldn't get out of the way in time. The car bumped up and down and the boy cried out for a few moments and then all was silent.
There was nothing he could do, nothing he could have done, and so he walked away. The empty car and broken boy were swallowed up in the night behind him. He couldn't remember how he got home. He just woke up in his bed the next morning, still dressed and dirty from the previous day.
There was nothing about it on the next days news. He wondered how long it would be before someone found out. Would they be able to trace him to the scene? His heart thumped in painfully in his chest and he skipped breakfast in the hopes of calming his knotted stomach.
Work was unbearable. People laughing, talking, working. All he could do was sit and stare at the screen. And then that night when he tried to fall asleep he kept seeing the little boys face, pleading with him to do something, to save him. The screaming still echoed in his mind.
The next day was the same. He couldn't eat. He couldn't sleep. His supervisor sent him home early to get some rest, thinking he was sick. That night he wrote down a confession but he was too sick now to deliver it. He'd have to wait until morning. For now, he let himself dry heave. Fighting would only prolong it. His heart pounded harder and it wasn't until midnight that his stomach stopped convulsing. And shortly after, his heart stopped hurting.
The next day his supervisor called to check in on him. No answer. The day after that the supervisor called again. No answer. On the third day with still no answer, the supervisor called the police. They found his body curled on the floor. He'd been dead for over two days. They found the confession he'd written but when they got to the place he described they found nothing there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 25

This is where her car was found,” The young officer said as he lead Judge Dervin through the parking lot. “We've talked with her friends and coworkers and have confirmed that she frequented the cafe, but...”
They stopped walking and Judge Dervin wiped the sweat from his brow. He never realized how hot Texas was. The officer's continued silence grew uncomfortable.
But what?” Judge Dervin prompted.
Your Honor, we've found some disturbing things in your daughters car.”
Such as?”
The officer pulled out a pad of paper from his pocket and flipped through some pages until he reached the notes he was looking for.
For one thing,” The officer said, his youthful face showing his discomfort with having to be the one to tell Judge Dervin, “We found plans to the nuclear reactor that was destroyed.”
She was a nuclear physicist,” Judge Dervin said in defense of his missing daughter.
Yes,” The officer said, turning to another set of notes, “And she'd marked the plans in exactly the same way that the reactor was destroyed. Your daughter went missing before the reactor was destroyed,” the officer continued, “So these plans couldn't have been a study on the accident.”
Judge Dervin nodded. “I'm sure she'll be able to explain all this once we find her,” He said. He didn't want to believe his daughter could have been a part of that disaster.
That's not everything,” The officer said and Judge Dervin felt himself droop just a little bit more. “The plans were labeled as one of five.”
You think there will be more nuclear plants destroyed?” Judge Dervin asked.
The officer shrugged. “We don't know what else they might be targeting,” He said. “We were hoping you'd be able to shed some light on this.”
Judge Dervin shook his head. “We haven't really spoke to one another in quite some time.”
The officer didn't respond to that. Instead he made a note of it on his notepad and resumed walking. Judge Dervin followed.
The only other thing we found was a list of what we believe are code names for the members of this group.”
The officer handed Judge Dervin the list:
Green Tea, Tea Leaves, Leaves Early, Early Bird, Bird Feather, Feather Weight
Early Bird,” Judge Dervin mused.
Do you know who that is?” The officer perked up, ready to write down anything Judge Dervin said, “Is it your daughter?”
Judge Dervin held back his glare. “I am not convinced my daughter was involved with this group. In fact,” He went on, “I think she may have been trying to gatherer evidence against these people and they found out and stopped her before she could tell anyone.”
The officer said nothing but Judge Dervin knew by his expression that he wasn't convinced.
But anyway,” Judge Dervin continued, “I seem to remember hearing someone referred to as Early Bird not too long ago. I just can't remember where I was or who said it.”
Well, if you do, let us know,” the officer said and then walked back to the rest of the police leaving Judge Dervin alone with his thoughts.
Please,” Judge Dervin muttered as he tried to hold back his emotions, “Please Samantha don't do this to me.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

POETRY: MY SON LAST NIGHT

Last night, while having dinner and watching Sherlock Holmes at my brothers house, my 2 year old son ended up watching his favorite show in the kitchen and we all had a good laugh at how cute he was.

Come and see my little boy
He's sitting in the kitchen
The tv on the wall is on
And he's enthralled in watching

He doesn't care the lights are off
His favorite show is on
He's sitting on his tiny chair
His socks and shoes all gone

A smattering of toys and food
Surround him on the floor
All forgotten as he views
This episode once more

It's not a habit to encourage
This mindless tv watching
But for now I must admit
How cute he looks this evening
 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SHORT STORY: HELLO BUS STOP, IT'S MICHAEL part 2

The fish were following him.
Shark Attacks On The Rise, the newspaper headline read and Michael quickened his pace, soon leaving the fish behind. There was a store not far from where he was that usually had some decent leavings in their dumpster and, since fresh baked bread was out of the question, Michael figured it was better than nothing.
Hello,” Michael said to a bench as he passed by. He liked that bench. It didn't say much but it was very happy to let him sleep on it a few nights back.
Watch out,” The bench replied.
Michael turned back to face front right as he stepped into a school of fish. Michael screamed out loud and dashed forward through the fish. A few of them touched him and he rubbed furiously at those spots, hoping their stench wouldn't stick and mark him for the sharks.
Fish!” Michael whimpered, “Dirty, dirty fish.”
Thankfully, the fish didn't follow and Michael was soon digging merrily through the dumpster. The food he found wasn't terribly old, if a bit soggy. He tended not to think about why most things he found in dumpsters were soggy.
The alley was silent. Michael hadn't noticed it before since there usually wasn't much in the way of noise in most alleys. But now that he listened, even the birds had stopped singing. Michael looked around carefully. A pair of sharks hovered at the far end of the alley, looking at him. Michael backed away slowly so as not to attract any more attention to himself. The sharks didn't follow and Michael escaped back to the main sidewalk.
Michael's stomach was far from full but he could wait a couple of hours and then go back. The sharks should be gone by then. In the mean time he could go and chat with the bus stop. It wasn't far from where he was any way.
There were more fish swimming about now. They always increased in number as the day wore on. He hated that about them, though at least they weren't out when he was trying to sleep.
Michael rounded the final corner to the bus stop and his heart missed a few beats. The Bus stop was swarmed by fish. Surely it told only take a few minutes with that many fish to attract sharks. His only real friend was doomed.
No, not doomed, not if he could do something about it.
Michael charged the fish. He screamed and yelled. He cursed, using words he hadn't spoken for many years. He didn't like the way they tasted in his mouth. But if it saved the bus stop then it was worth any discomfort he experienced.
What are you doing?” The bus stop asked.
Where there's fish,” Michael said quickly between curses, “There's sharks.”
Some of the fish fled but most just hovered out of his reach. Michael smacked a couple of fish that were close by and kicked them when they hit the sidewalk.
Stop it!” The bus stop cried in shock.
I won't let them hurt you,” Michael screamed as his rage continued to build. “They're working with the sharks, can't you see?”
Michael continued smacking and kicking all the fish he could reach and at last the school began to disperse. Michael smiled but his triumph was short lived. As the school scattered and dispersed, he saw the two sharks from before coming towards him fast.
No!” He cried and placed himself between the sharks and the bus stop.
Just be still,” The bus stop prompted, “They'll leave you be if you don't draw attention to yourself.”
It was too late for that. Michael had flailed and screamed too much to hope to be ignored now and the sharks closed the distance between them quickly. They sunk their teeth into Michael, trying to pull him away from the bus stop. Michael clung onto the bus stop with all his strength but the sharks predatory instincts were too much for Michael's frail body.
I'm sorry,” Michael wept as his grip slipped from the bus stop.
His friend was doomed.
I'm sorry!” Michael cried even louder, still struggling against the sharks.
Miraculously, Michael's thrashing about jostled the two sharks into each other and he found himself free. The sharks were interested in him, for the moment. If he could lure them away perhaps they'd forget about his friend.
Follow me,” Michael shouted and he began to run.
Sure enough, the sharks took the bait and pursued. Michael darted back and forth, avoiding their jaws. He was almost laughing when he moved to dart across the street. Unfortunately he didn't see the bus until it was too late.
Michael lied on the street for a time, the sharks circling him but not moving in for the kill. The school of fish that rode on the bus flowed out and formed a wide circle around him, watching him die. Michael saw, briefly, his old friend, once again surrounded by fish.
I'm sorry,” Michael muttered. “I'm sorry.”
His vision grew dark.

Monday, July 9, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 24

Matt needed to open another window. The dust was getting so thick in the air that he was having a hard time breathing without coughing. He pulled the cord for the blinds and they slid up, allowing even more sunlight to flood into the room and he opened the window. Immediately, the cross breeze blew the dust out of the room and Matt breathed easily at last. He turned back to the room. It looked good with all the natural lighting. The carpet even looked better, most of the stains were gone and those he hadn't been able to scrub out were faint in the sunlight. It had taken him the better part of the last week to clean his apartment but the results were worth the effort.
I can't believe I lived like that for so long,” Matt said aloud to himself before returning to the filing cabinet he'd been working on before the dust overwhelmed him.
Even though the cabinet was designed to help organize, very little organization actually existed within its drawers.
Midterm...midterm...final...” Matt muttered to himself as he placed each set of papers into their own respective piles. “Notes...doodles...Heat Machine!” Matt cried as he extracted a large collection of papers from the drawer. He rifled through the remainder of the drawer and pulled out a few other sheets of paper, adding them to the ones he already held, and then moved over to his desk.
A stack of papers, the largest in the room, sat on the middle of his desk and Matt added his newest found notes to the stack. Beside that stack of papers was a smaller, less yellowed with age, pile of papers. His cell phone sat on top of the smaller pile with a sticky note that read: follow up.
I should call her,” Matt said but he returned to the cabinet rather than picking up his cell phone.
His search through the cabinet failed to reveal any more notes on the Heat Machine and Matt returned to his desk and began sorting through the large stack of papers. Every once in a while he glanced over to the smaller pile of papers and his cell phone with the note.
I'll call her tomorrow,” Matt murmured and he continued sorting.
Unfortunately, the stack of notes didn't need that much sorting in the first place and within a few minutes he was finished. Matt glanced at the small stack again, he to hesitated, and then moved to the cabinet. Several little piles of paper surrounded it and Matt busied himself for several minutes placing them back into the cabinet in a more organized manner. Again, Matt found himself completing the task much faster than he anticipated and he looked back at the small stack on his desk.
It's probably too late to call,” Matt said, but then noted the amount of sunlight streaming into his apartment and knew his argument held no weight. “Alright,” He said, “I'll call her.”
Matt crossed the room, picked up the phone, and began looking for her number. It was on the back of the sticky note. He started dialing but then paused.
What am I going to say?”
Matt tried a few lines of opening dialogue but none of them sounded right and he felt more like an idiot than before just for trying to practice.
It's just research,” He told himself, “It's not like I'm asking her out on a date.”
Matt finished dialing before he could stop himself again and paced while he waited for her to answer.
One...” Matt counted as the phone rang. “Two...Three...”
A part of him hoped she wouldn't answer, that way he could just leave a message.
Four—
Hello?” Joan's voice said on the other side.
Um, hi,” Matt said lamely and he rifled through the stack of notes, holding the phone between his ear and his shoulder.
Hi,” Joan said, a hint of amusement in her voice, “Who is this?”
Oh, right, this is Matt.”
Matt who?” Joan asked and the papers Matt was shuffling fell through his fingers and onto the floor.
Matt Wellis,” Matt said, “I took your measurements a week back.”
What?” Joan, Matt could tell, was growing annoyed.
I mean I measured you fire, remember? And then we went to the coffee shop for the interview,” Matt waited but Joan said nothing. “Any way, I have the results and I thought you would be interested in what I found.”
Oh yeah,” Joan said, “I'm sorry. I'm just a bit distracted right now. I would love to see what you've found out.”
Great,” Matt said and hoped he didn't sound too eager, “What time works for you?”
This week's pretty busy, but this weekend should be fine,” She said.
How about we do lunch again this Saturday?” Matt asked.
That should be fine,” Joan replied and Matt quickly wrote it into his planner.
And I was wondering if I could get some more readings some time,” Matt added before he lost his nerve.
Um...” Joan considered for a few moments.
Matt held his breath.
How about this,” Joan said, “Do you know the Pottery Barn?”
Yeah,” He said, even though he didn't.
Lets have our meeting there around noon and we can get two birds with one stone.”
Sounds good,” Matt said and made a note to find what and where the Pottery Barn was, feeling great about how well the conversation was going.
Great,” Joan said, “Oh, gotta go, my dates here. Bye.”
Joan hung up.
Good for her,” He told himself, looking down at his planner and frowning as he read what he'd written on the following Saturday: date with Joan. “Not quite,” He said and scribbled out the word date and wrote research in its place. “I bet he's a jerk,” Matt said for no other reason than to make himself feel better. He smiled a wane smile and went back to organizing his old files.

Friday, July 6, 2012

POETRY: JOHNNY'S LAST GAME

Something didn't feel right,
As Johnny rounded third
His feet were hitting far to light
And soon he lifted like a bird

Spinning like a pinwheel,
His arms and legs a blur,
The UFO above, surreal
The crowd below a stir

Help!” He cried to no avail
Grasping fists of air
The tractor beam would not derail
But to fall he did not dare

So high up but moving slower
That soon young Johnny found
The UFO was now much closer
Than that most beloved ground

A screeching wail, a shaft of light
A massive door was moving
The tractor beam that held him tight
Seemed now to become soothing

He drifted in so merrily
He failed to see his captors
He only noticed barely
The caged and harnessed raptors

When once he fell onto the floor
He came back to his senses
At the booming of the closing door
He finally saw the fences

His captors said, “Well, it's a start,”
Would the human like some food?”
And Johnny found himself a part
Of the Intergalactic Zoo

Thursday, July 5, 2012

SHORT STORY: HELLO BUS STOP, IT'S MICHAEL part 1

For Sale: Freedom
For information, please contact your local Congressman or Senator
That's what the headline said, at least. Or more precisely, that's what Michael read. He had no way of knowing what was really printed, short of asking someone else to read it to him. And he didn't much like asking people to read to him. Besides, the newspaper was much more fascinating this way.
He finished skimming an article about Shakespeare suing an author over story rights, and then got up off the park bench. As comfortable as it was to sit and read the paper, a school of fish were drawing closer, and where there were fish, there were sharks.
The bus stop was its usual self, complaining about whatever injustice it had most recently experienced. Today, it was spitting.
..and they go, hacking up their green gray globs,” The bus stop told Michael, “And then they plaster them all over me. It's like they're hoping to someday form a mosaic on me.”
Michael nodded a sympathetic nod and tried his best to wipe off the offending masses. He knew about spitting too.
Michael liked the bus stop. It would talk to him and he liked that, even though it only ever complained. And what was more, he could talk to the bus stop when he;d had a hard go of it recently and it would listen and neither made judgments about what the other one said.
It's Time To Go, the headline of the newspaper read and Michael bid the bus stop good by. The morning was still young, an hour at least before breakfast.
Breakfast.
He looked back at the bus stop, growing smaller in the distance as he walked. He'd never told the bus stop about breakfast.
Why would he? He had no reason to, and he was sure the bus stop would have very little interest in the subject. Still, a pan fried egg beside some toast and hot cracked wheat...
Spittle dribbled warm and slick out the corner of his mouth and splatted wetly on the pavement.
Sorry,” Michael apologized instantly to the sidewalk. “So sorry,” And he stooped down to wipe it up.
The sidewalk, for its part, said nothing in return and Michael took it for a very rude stretch of sidewalk indeed. Things should know when an apology was heart felt and should accept it gladly. It wasn't every day someone was courteous to the sidewalk.
Michael told all of this to the sidewalk, very kindly, but with no success in swaying the silent sidewalk. In the end he gave it up as a bad job. Years ago he would have yelled, taught it a lesson, perhaps spit and curse and kick a bit. He was younger then. Now he was older. That meant something to Michael.
Baking bread.
Michael sniffed. It was faint, perhaps imagined. He sniffed again. Thick butter loaves with split tops sprang into his mind. That bread made the best toast. Michael moved to follow the smell. There was a bakery around the corner somewhere. There had to be.
But the fish were back. He tried waving his arms wildly to scare them away. He'd already given them his park bench, why couldn't they let him have his toast? The fish fluttered but never very far and always regrouped and Michael was forced to retreat before sharks could arrive.
Some days Michael was brave and he would dash through the fish to get passed them. Not today. And even if he did muster the courage, at this point in time with all the flailing he'd done, sharks were sure to be closing in soon. He was a fool. Now he'll never get his toast.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July

Hey, my next Short Story is being delayed for the holiday so check back tomorrow for it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

IMMOLATION: Chapter 23


Sorry for getting this out late, internet was down and I had to find an alternative spot to upload this.
 *        *        *
Joan stood up, ignoring her complaining knees and back from having to sit crouching for so long, and surveyed the small corner of the shop that she'd been working on for the last couple hours. The shelves were neat, the titles were clearly visible, and everything was in alphabetical order according to author, just like Mike had told her.
The labyrinth of shelves was getting to be more familiar to her now and Joan only made a couple of wrong turns before finding her way back to the front of the store. Mike flinched when he noticed the small flame on Joan's back, but said nothing. Perhaps it was Melanie's influence, or the fact that the fire didn't burn Joan's clothes anymore, either way Mike was getting better at hiding his discomfort about Joan's fire. Instead he pointed to another stack of boxed books.
Not again,” Joan moaned as she moved inevitably toward the boxes.
Mike nodded, “Afraid so,” He said.
Is it always like this?” Joan asked.
Only when we're open,” Mike teased. He began as if to pat Joan on the back and then thought better of it, patting her on the top of her head instead, albeit awkwardly.
Thanks,” Joan chuckled and lifted the first box from the stack. “And where do these need to go?”
Remember that corner you worked in on your first day?” mike asked.
Joan nodded slowly. “The one crammed so full of books you had me using stacks of books for book shelves?”
That's the one,” Mike said and nodded toward its general direction.
And how are these suppose to fit?” She demanded.
You'll see,” Mike prodded her, “Now get going.”
Joan carried the box just far enough into the shelves of books to be out of sight before stopping. She had to think, going through her mental map of the store, to see if she remembered where that particular back corner was. The store didn't seem to be shaped like a normal store. There were far too many back corners, far too many shelves to reasonably be able to fit into the shop, and far too few patrons in the store to justify the rate at which some sections were cleared out. In fact, now that Joan got to thinking about it, she rarely if ever came across shoppers while she worked.
Joan shook her head and started walking. She took the first right she came to, then her second left, another right, and then another. Dead end. Joan tried another path. The shelves were so high that she couldn't see over them to get any real sense of direction and the books did strange things to sounds such that Joan could never be certain where they were coming from.
Joan wandered around a bit more before she had to set the stack of books down and take a short break to rest her arms. She'd stopped in some unfamiliar section of the store, its shelves were nearly empty and judging from the abnormally thick dust on the shelves it looked like it had been a long time since anyone had been back here.
Joan.”
Mike's voice sounded right behind her and she let out a little scream of surprise. The flame on her back flared and she couldn't help it as she burned a small hole in the back of her shirt
Whoa!” Mike called out, backing away from her quickly. “Didn't mean to surprise you.”
Joan pulled her flame back under control and her shirt stopped burning immediately. They both wrinkled their noses at the smell of her burnt shirt and Mike waved his hand back and forth to try and clear the air of the wisps of smoke.
Any way,” Mike said uncomfortably after giving up on clearing the air. “Glad you found your way here.”
Joan looked around in shock. “This is it?” Joan exclaimed before she could stop herself. “I mean,” She corrected quickly, “Yeah, I just couldn't believe how fast the books flew off the shelf.”
Right,” Mike smiled and picked up the box so he could set it down on a sturdy shelf at waist level. “Any way, Melanie's going to be here in a few minutes and I thought it might do her some good to be able to talk with you for a while.”
Why don't you want to talk to her?” Joan asked, relieved at not having to stock shelves for a while but confused by Mike's behavior.
I do,” Mike said, not meeting her eyes, “But I'm not very good with these sorts of things and I don't want to make it harder for Mel than it has to be right now.”
Okay,” Joan said and decided that she believed him. Guys were, after all, pretty bad when it came to emotions and understanding them.
Take your first three lefts,” Mike called after Joan as she began working her way back through the maze.
Sure enough, three left turns later Joan found herself back at the front of the store. She sat down behind the counter and waited. She could hear Mike whistling to himself in the distance, though as always it sounded like it was coming from a completely different part of the store than where she now knew he was.
A few minutes passed before the door bell dinged and Joan looked up as Melanie walked in. She looked good, considering everything that had happened. Her eyes weren't bloodshot from crying and her clothes matched today. All the same, her usual smile and perky attitude were still missing.
Hey,” Melanie said.
How's it going?” Joan asked and immediately realizing that any number of greetings would have been better. Perhaps her judgment of men and their emotional competency had been too hasty.
We're getting through it,” Melanie shrugged and joined Joan behind the counter. “Funeral's tomorrow.”
What?” Joan asked, “Why so soon?”
Melanie shrugged again, something she'd been doing more often lately. “There's no real reason to wait.”
Melanie was right. There was no body to prepare for burial. In fact, there was no burial at all. All that they could do was hold a service and display some photographs.
I'm sorry,” Joan said and pulled Melanie into a hug.
Melanie rested her head on Joan's shoulder for a time before pulling back. “Is Mike around?”
Joan pointed vaguely off toward the back of the store and Melanie nodded, her expression saddening.
He loves you,” Joan found herself saying.
Melanie shrugged.
He...” Joan paused, not sure what she should say.
Melanie looked back to her. “Why won't he talk to me?” She asked. “Why doesn't he want to see me?” Tears began to shine in her eyes.
He...he said he wasn't very good with these things, and that he didn't want to make things worse.”
So he ignores me? Pretends that I don't exist?” Melanie shouted and Joan got the distinct impression that Melanie's shout was more for Mike than for her.
Is this a bad time?”
Both Melanie and Joan turned abruptly. Tom stood in the doorway. Melanie's shout had drowned out the door bell.
No,” Joan said immediately. “I mean, it could be better,” she shot a glance at Melanie who was quickly wiping her eyes on her sleeve and doing a good job at making it look like she was fixing her hair. “Any way, what can we do for you?”
Tom entered the store properly and looked back and forth at the two young women. “I was actually looking for you, Joan.” He said at last.
Well I never was very good at hide and seek,” Joan replied, surprised by her wit.
Tom didn't seem to catch it though and instead shifted his attention to Melanie. “I'm sorry,” He told her, “And,” He looked around the store, “Judging by the fact that Mike is no where to be found he's being his usual idiot self,” Tom leaned forward, resting an elbow on the counter, “Don't be too hard on him, just smack him a bit on the back of the head and tell him what he should be doing. He cares, he just doesn't know how to show it.”
Melanie nodded and skulked off to find Mike.
And here I was about to tell Melanie about how all men are emotionally stunted and not to hold it against Mike for being born that way,” Joan said.
We're a brilliant breed when we're not involved directly,” Tom answered, “The moment we get dragged into things directly, however, we become total morons.”
Joan laughed and Tom brightened a little.
And speaking of morons,” Tom began and at the same time that grew very interested in looking at something the counter only he could see, “I was wondering if you'd care to join me this evening for dinner,” He paused, but still didn't look up at her, “Since all my other attempts so far have been unsuccessful,” Tom finally looked back up at her. “And I'm sorry for the short notice,” Tom began again, cutting Joan off right before she could begin to give her answer. “I was just in the area and thought I'd poke my head in and see if you were working and—
You're just going to keep talking,” Joan interrupted him, “Aren't you?”
Joan laughed and Tom managed a slight chuckle.
Yeah, probably,” He admitted. “Like I said, brilliant breed until we get ourselves involved.
Well, before you get to rambling again,” Joan said, “I'd love to have dinner with you.”
Tom let out a sigh of relief.
But,” Joan said, “I don't think tonight's a good night for it.”
Tom deflated.
Melanie really needs—
Go on the date!” Melanie called out from the labyrinthine shelves, sounding much more like her usual self than she had since her dad's death.
Are you sure?” Joan called back.
I've got Mike,” Melanie reassured her. A series of muffled giggles followed, along with, “no...stop it...stop it...” And finally a slap and a mild shout of pain that sounded like it came from Mike.
Okay than,” Melanie said, “I get off at six, if you just want to meet me back here.”
Sounds good,” Tom stated eagerly, his face flushing slightly. “Really good. Okay, I'll see you back here at six.”
Tom backed away from the counter slowly, nodding and muttering affirmatives and eventually bumped into the door.
Right,” He said, “See you later.”
Joan burst into laughter the moment Tom was out of the store.
Though you may want to change your shirt first,” Mike called from the back of the store. “If Tom sees the hole in the back he might never recover from his fit of stuttering.”
Another slap sounded and mike cried out again. Joan wasn't sure if Melanie had slapped him for the comment or something else but Joan's curiosity wasn't strong enough for her to go and find out.