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, November 30, 2012

POETRY: FOG HANDS

Miles behind me
My car is stalled and useless
Fog coalesces

Vision now obscured
I grope blindly on my way
Shadows in the dark

Wisps about me form
A chilled finger strokes my face
Prey to the fog hands

*     *     *
I drove through some dense fog the other night, while passing through Oregon, and couldn't help but wonder at all the strange shapes the fog took on as we moved through it. This also took some inspiration from a dream/nightmare I had a few nights back.

Have you ever seen things in the fog that weren't there? Like looking at clouds and seeing a bunny?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SHORT STORY: DUST Script


          EXT. DUSTY ROAD IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE - DAY

          A sleek, black car is pulled off to the side of the road.
          It's a classic. The drivers door is open and the hazard
          lights are blinking. An OLD MAN is sitting slumped in the
          drivers seat. His back is to us.

          Day turns to night and back again. The man hasn't moved.
          This road is almost never traveled on.

          The distant RUMBLE of a car approaches.

          The car pulls up and MARK, a young man in his twenties, gets
          out of his car.

          Mark begins to make his way to the drivers side door,
          expecting the worst.

          The Old Man's eyes are shut. He doesn't seem to be
          breathing. There are cigarette butts and whiskey bottles
          littered around him in the car. A small, ornate box sits on
          the passenger seat next to him.

          Mark goes to touch the old man but can't quite bring himself
          to do it. He paces back and forth, running his hands through
          his hair as he debates on what to do.

          At last, Mark pulls out his cell phone and begins searching
          for a signal.

                              OLD MAN
                    You can put that down. I'm not
                    dead.

          The Old Man's voice is dry and gruff.

          Mark stumbles in shock and drops his phone.

                              MARK
                    You're alive?

                              OLD MAN
                    So far today? Yes.

                              MARK
                    Well, anything wrong? Run out of
                    gas or something?

                              OLD MAN
                    Oh no,

          The Old Man starts the car.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    This car hasn't given me any
                    problems for a long time.

          He shuts the car off.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    Nope.

                              MARK
                    So what are you doing all the way
                    out here?

                              OLD MAN
                         (abruptly)
                    Waiting.

          Mark looks up and down the road, surveying the landscape and
          the emptiness that surrounds them.

                              MARK
                    For what?

          The Old Man squints his eyes against the glare of the sun as
          he appraises Mark.

                              OLD MAN
                    For you, I think.

          Mark shuffles awkwardly as the Old Man continues to stare at
          him with hungry eyes.

                              MARK
                    Look, if you need directions...

                              OLD MAN
                    Son, you could blindfold me, spin
                    me in circles and plop me down in a
                    cow pasture and I'd be able to tell
                    you in which direction Paris,
                    France is.

                              MARK
                    Right. Okay. Well I'll be going
                    then.

                              OLD MAN
                    I didn't say you could leave!

          Mark waves the Old Man off and keeps walking back to his
          car.

          Mark tries to start his car but it won't.

                              MARK
                    Come on...Come on...Come on!

          After several more tries he climbs out and goes back to the
          Old Man.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    I told you, you couldn't leave.

                              MARK
                    First of all, you're not what's
                    keeping me from leaving. Second, my
                    car craps out on me all the time.

          The Old Man nods, though looking more sarcastic than
          believing.

                              OLD MAN
                    Are you familiar with the story of
                    Aladdin and the genie?

                              MARK
                    What? We're in the middle of
                    nowhere and you're asking-

                              OLD MAN
                    Humor me, Mark. I'm old and my mind
                    tends to jump around a bit.

          Mark kicks at the dusty road and takes a few steps away from
          the man and his car.

                              OLD MAN
                    You want a ride to the next town
                    with a good mechanic don't you?

          Mark slumps and draws a deep breath before returning to the
          car.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    That's more like it. Now where were
                    we?

                              MARK
                    You were about to take me into
                    town.

          The Old Man makes a dry throaty snicker and settles back
          into his chair.

                              OLD MAN
                    You're funny. Sit down. don't mind
                    the mess.

          The Old Man gestures to the passenger seat and Mark walks
          around the car to get in. He picks up the ornate box off the
          chair and sets it on the dash before sitting down. The Old
          Man does not start the car.

                              MARK
                    Well?

                              OLD MAN
                    Well what? I asked you a question
                    and I expect an answer.

                              MARK
                    You're serious?

                              OLD MAN
                    Mark, I've never been known for my
                    sense of humor. Probably because I
                    don't have one...Yes, I'm serious.
                    Aladdin and the genie?

          Mark bobs his head against the headrest of the chair, unable
          to believe the situation he's in.

                              MARK
                    I answer your questions, then you
                    drive me to the next town?

                              OLD MAN
                    That is our arrangement.

                              MARK
                    Aladdin finds a lamp, he rubs it,
                    the genie comes out and grants him
                    three wishes.

                              OLD MAN
                    Do you recall what he wished for?

                              MARK
                         (without thinking)
                    No.

                              OLD MAN
                    Try and remember.

          Mark thinks, and as he does he casts his eyes around the
          car, taking in his surroundings.

          The cigarettes and whiskey bottles aren't the only thing
          littering the inside of the otherwise nice car. Crumpled
          newspapers, financial folders and stock reports cover the
          majority of the floor.

          As Mark continues to look around, his eyes rest on the
          ornate box. It appears to be hand crafted. There's a small
          latch keeping it shut.

          Marks can't take his eyes off the box and the intricate
          designs etched into the wooden surface.

          At last the Old Man clears his throat and calls Mark out of
          his revelry.

                              MARK
                    Gold?

          The Old Man smiles at Mark like he were a child.

                              OLD MAN
                    Not quite. He wished for riches,
                    power, and everything else a man
                    could ask for. In essence, he
                    wished for good karma.

                              MARK
                    He even got the girl.

                              OLD MAN
                    And everything was grand until...

          Mark takes another moment to think.

                              MARK
                    Until the lamp was stolen.

                              OLD MAN
                    And all that good Karma he'd
                    borrowed had to be balanced out.

                              MARK
                    He still ended up okay in the
                    story, though.

                              OLD MAN
                    That's because it's a story. In
                    real life when debts like that come
                    up, they tend to kill you.

                              MARK
                    Well thank goodness there's no such
                    thing as genies and magic lamps.
                    Can we get going now?

          The Old Man wipes his brow again and looks out towards the
          sun.

                              OLD MAN
                    Hand me that box there.

          Mark grabs the ornate box and hands it to the Old Man.

          The Old Man runs his fingers across some of the designs and
          then flips the latch and opens the box. Mark can't see
          what's inside due to the angle.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    The contents of this box have the
                    power to sway good karma in your
                    favor. All you have to do is ask.

          Mark sits motionless as the Old Man offers him the box.
          Inside is a pile of dust.

                              MARK
                    How long have you been out here?

                              OLD MAN
                    Did you ever have a pair of lucky
                    socks or something when you were
                    young? Or know someone who was just
                    naturally lucky?

          The Old Man is still holding up the box for Mark to take.
          Almost Pleading with Mark to take it.

          Mark Nods.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    Luck's like a flip of a coin. Some
                    things can weight that coin in your
                    favor and a few people know how to
                    flip it so it's heads every time.
                    But luck isn't the same as Karma.
                    Luck doesn't care how much good and
                    bad you get.

                              MARK
                         (skeptical)
                    Karma cares?

                              OLD MAN
                   
                    Karma's all about balance, my young
                    friend. You do good you get good.
                    You do bad you get bad. But this,

          The Old Man gestures with the box of dust again.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    This dust has the power to weight
                    good karma in your favor...all you
                    have to do is ask.

          The dust seems to be calling out to Mark as he feels it's
          pull on him and he continues to stare at it.

                              MARK
                         (still skeptical)
                    Just like that you'll share your
                    magic lamp with me?

                              OLD MAN
                    No, the dust cannot be shared. The
                    only way it can change hands is if
                    it's stolen by or given to someone
                    who knows what it really is. And
                    I'm giving it to you.

                              MARK
                    What about all that karma must be
                    balanced stuff?

          The Old Man shrugs.

                              OLD MAN
                    Before me, JFK had the dust. He got
                    it from Marilyn Monroe who got it
                    from some other guy who stole it
                    from Hitler. Before that I'm not
                    sure, though I think Rasputin had
                    it before the Romanov's stole it
                    from him.

          BEAT.

                              MARK
                    All of those people died horrible
                    deaths.

          The Old Man nods contemplatively.

                              OLD MAN
                    They certainly did.

                              MARK
                    So this dust gives you a great life
                    until you give it away or someone
                    steals it from you.

                              OLD MAN
                    If you overuse it, the price will
                    be quite high. If you're like me
                    and only use it a little here and
                    there...

          The Old Mn shuts the box and hands it to Mark, who runs his
          hands over the carved surface.

          The two men sit quietly, both looking at the box of dust.
          The Old Man coughs.

                              MARK
                    So why give it up? Why not hold
                    onto it until you die? Or better
                    yet, why not chuck the thing into
                    the ocean and forget about it?

                              OLD MAN
                    Go ahead and try to outlive your
                    time with the dust. try to throw it
                    into the ocean or into a volcano
                    even. It won't work. The dust won't
                    let you get rid of it unless you're
                    giving it away to someone who knows
                    what they're getting.

                              MARK
                    So why take the risk?

                              OLD MAN
                    I've often wondered that myself
                    over the years. Every time you feel
                    the dust being used in your life,
                    knowing you'll have to pay for it
                    later...But in the mean time you'll
                    be having one heck of a ride.

          Mark holds the box out for the Old Man to take.

                              MARK
                    Yeah, well, that's one ride I don't
                    think I want to ride.

          The Old Man gives Mark a pained smile. He doesn't take the
          box. Mark offers it again and the Old Man refuses.

          It dawns on Mark that he is the new owner of the dust.

                              MARK (CONT.)
                         (afraid)
                    What do I do?

          The Old Man pats Mark on the shoulder.

                              OLD MAN
                    Whatever you want. Live the life
                    you've always dreamed of living, or
                    continue on in the life you have
                    now. The dust won't do anything for
                    you unless you let it...but it will
                    always be asking to be used, just
                    like the genie.

          The Old Man stretches in his seat. He coughs again, this
          time sounding more serious.

                              OLD MAN (CONT.)
                    Well, shall we?

          The Old Man closes his door and tries to start the engine.
          The car sputters and dies.

          BEAT.

                                                            BLACK


                                                              *     *     *
This is script I'm working on for a short film I'll be shooting early next year. What do you think? Have you ever had anything that was Lucky?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Post

Just a brief update about what happened to last Friday's poem and yesterday's chapter of Immolation.

My wife has a cousin who works for a major airline. As such, she gets stand-by tickets at a discounted price that she can give to family and friends. The only catch is, as I stated before, the tickets are stand-by. If the plane fills up before you get on, you don't fly. My wife's cousin has been working for the airline for some time and knows what days are generally better for flying stand-by. As it turns out, Thanksgiving morning has always been one of the best days and so we set our trael plans around that. The night before Thanksgiving, however, all three flights filled up. My wife called her cousin and her mother to discuss our options. My vote was for driving. We'd done it before, drivine through the night (12 hours). If we left right away (we were already packed) we would arrive at around the same time if we flew. The weather was suppose to be clear that night, but a storm was suppose to be moving in Thanksgiving morning, blocking our travel by road should we try to drive then.

It was decided that we would still try to fly.

Thanksgiving morning, we got to the airport on time, checked our luggage, and waited for the first flight. Our two year old son was fussing, and then, without warning, he thew up all over himself and my wife. With only a few minutes before boarding was suppose to begin, my wife began working on cleaning the two of them off in the bathroom.

they got back in time to hear that the flight was full and no one on Stand-By would be getting on.

We waited for the second flight that morning, it filled up too.

I asked the woman at the information desk about the third and final flight: full, and the stand-by list was only getting bigger as other flights left their stand-by fliers behind. Our luggage had also been sent on the first flight, and we'd have to wait a week or so to get it back. not good with so much of our son's stuff in that luggage.

My wife was on the phone with her mom, telling her between sobs that we weren't going to make it.

A television in the corner of the waiting area displayed the weather. The storm that was suppose to have hit by now had been sitting on the coast, not moving, for the last few hours.

"We're driving," I told my wife.

She'd just hung up the phone and stared hard at me. She looked a mess (sorry dear) and our son was still fussing loudly. I picked up our carry-on bags, slung them over my shoulders, and explained to her about the flights, the luggage, and the weather. The tickets would be refunded, we could have her family pick up our luggage from the airport, and we could still have the rest of the weekend with her family.

So that's what we did. We had a great weekend, but due to my having to drive so much, I didn't write or post. I will try to have a short story up tomorrow, but I make no promises as I am quite behind on a lot of my projects.

Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SHORT STORY: A THANKSGIVING THANK YOU

Hours passed like minutes. Minutes passed like hours.
And still, nothing happened.
I blinked.
Nothing happened some more.
Heat of the afternoon sun permeated the room, flowing in unimpeded through each of the four large windows before me. Aged upholstery dug into my unclothed neck and wrists but I couldn't seem to gather the motivation necessary to shift my weight. Besides, the chair rocked almost effortlessly with my current position.
Electric buzzing emanated from the fan in the corner as it struggled to stir the stagnant air trapped within the room.
My sanity melted into the very chair I sat upon. Walls warped and turned inward. Hands and faces pulsed through the melting paint and the carpet turned to magma bursting up from the earths core. Screaming filled my mind and yet I sat still, hardly breathing, without expression.
I was going crazy.
I needed to escape.
I stood up. It was easier than I'd expected. Walls, floor, and everything were back to normal. The fan still whirling away with it's hypnotic drone, though no longer holding sway over me. Momentum was on my side, and not wanting to lose the opportunity, I walked to the door, opened it, and strolled out of the room.
Cool air brushed my face with a hint of fresh baked bread as I stepped out into the family room at my parents house. My younger siblings sat with varying degrees of glazed expressions as they stared at the television screen in the corner. Mom worked away in the kitchen, buttering the tops of the loaves she just pulled out from the oven. With a sigh of relief, she smiled at me as I made my escape from the grasp of the mind numbing television program and joined her in the kitchen.
What's up, little prince?” She asked.
I shrugged down my pride at still being called such, even though I was in college, and smiled.
I'm bored,” I admitted, a dangerous thing to tell a parent on the weekend, especially when there is always a list several pages long of things needing to be done around the house hidden somewhere in my mother's brain.
I was that bored.
Well,” she said and I braced myself for whatever task she saw fit to place before me. It might not be enjoyable, but at least I would be doing something rather than nothing. “Why don't you go write a book.”
I stared.
What?” I asked, certain I had misheard the chore she had set me on.
Write a book,” she repeated.
I thought for a moment, turned back to the room from whence I'd come, grabbed my laptop and resettled myself into the chair. From there, worlds unfurled, recorded with great care and detail, until my fingers ached and my eyes refused to focus. Day after day I returned to that place, figuratively and literally, pouring my soul onto the digital page. Some days I was filled with inspiration and the stories flowed out in great cascading waves. Other days my soul was shallow and murky and barely the slightest reflections of my dreamed up world could be glimpsed through the mire.
Over the years, the chair, the room, and even the laptop, have taken on different shapes, colors, and sizes. Some times I would visit that place only once in a long while, other times I would rarely leave it, but always there would be the call. Crying from the deepening recesses of my mind, in the place I didn't know existed until my mother kindled it to life, The Story would never let me be, never let me go.

And for that, I must say, “Thank You Mother,” for telling me to go and write a book. For this has been a most enjoyable journey, and has done more to enrich my life than any other worldly influence.
*     *     *
This is the story of how I became a writer. I owe it all to my mother.

Monday, November 19, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 43

Tom's eyes watered from the heat and the air above the ground wavered. He wanted to turn back around and run back out the way he'd come, but he'd made up his mind. While still in the hospital he'd heard how the world was changing, and it frightened him. He'd guessed at Joan's deteriorating state when no one would give him a straight answer to his questions about her. And he'd made up his mind then, between skin grafts and therapy sessions, what he was going to do.
When Tom told his nurse about his idea, she thought he was joking. His nurse didn't understand.
Joan sat curled on the floor of her enclosure, resting on the balls of her feet, her arms wrapped around her legs, her chin resting on her upturned knees. Her eyes, overlarge, it seemed, stared hungrily at Tom as he approached.
It is you,” Joan said in a soft whisper.
Yes,” Tom replied, forcing himself to keep walking closer, “It is me.”
Joan didn't make sign of moving from her spot while Tom walked, and before Tom knew it, he was sitting down beside Joan. For a while they both sat silent, each rocking back and forth on the balls of their feet. Tom felt the gaze of Mike, Melanie, and the guard all boring into the back of his head and he did his best not to think about them. After what felt like hours, but what was probably closer to a couple minutes, Tom rested an arm around Joan's shoulder. He didn't know what else to do, what to say, all the fine words he'd crafted in the speech he'd meant to give seemed to have evaporated away.
As soon as Tom's arm was around Joan, she collapsed into his chest, crying, pawing at his shirt as though she could hold him forever if only she could get a firm enough grip.
So unexpected was Joan's breakdown that Tom nearly fell over and had to steady himself with his free hand. Even still, Tom fell back until he was sitting flat on the ground, Joan moistening a patch of Tom's shirt with her tears.
He didn't know what else to do, so he patted Joan on the back and stroked her face, wiping away her tears and running his fingers through her hair. He ached to be able to feel the strands of her hair between his fingers, thinking back to the times before he'd been burned when he'd imagined doing this very thing, though without the burns and the enclosure.
I'm sorry,” Tom heard himself say much to his own surprise. “You are such a beautiful person, Joan Darcy,” Tom went on and Joan's sobbing slowed and she seemed to calm down a bit, “You don't deserve this, and I wish I could take you away from here to a place where you could be free.”
Joan's fingers loosened on his shirt and Joan sat back up. Her eyes were red and puffy but other than that she looked composed.
I got lost in here for a while,” Joan said, her breathing was still a little ragged and she hiccuped periodically. She rested her head back down on Tom's shoulder, though this time there were no tears. “Thank you for coming.”
Tom continued stroking her hair. “I've got to go soon,” Tom said, knowing it would be better to get that out of the way as quickly as possible, “My parents live out west and they'll be helping to take care of me while I finish healing.”
That'll be good,” Joan said, a definite pain in her voice that wasn't there before.
But I was wondering if I could ask something of you?” Tom said.
Of course,” Joan said.
I meant to ask you this question before,” Tom said, his body shaking from his nervousness, “But things got in the way of it.”
I burned you,” Joan said.
Yes,” Tom confirmed, “I was meaning to ask you this question when you ran out of the restaurant, and it scared me so badly that I would lose my nerve, I ran after you. Even though I knew I shouldn't.”
Tom fell silent, imagining in his mind the texture of Joan's skin, the wetness of her tears. He stayed in his imagination until Joan prodded him with her elbow to get his attention.
You were going to ask me something?” She prompted him.
It just seems so silly now,” Tom said quickly, “But I didn't want to lose this opportunity to ask if you'd go out with me?”
They both stared at one another for a moment, and then both burst out laughing. They weren't laughing at Tom, but at the situation. The weight of the events from the past several months broke over Tom's question and they were able to let it all go.
Yes,” Joan snickered, “I would love to go out with you.”
It'll have to be a long distance relationship,” Tom said.
Yeah, and that'll stink,” Joan shrugged, “You'll have to promise to write to me every day.”
Of course,” Tom said, “And I expect nothing less from you.”
It's a deal,” Joan said and held out her hand.
Tom shook it briefly before raising it to his lips and kissing it.
Okay you two lovebirds,” Mike's voice said over the intercom. He sounded as shocked and surprised as Tom felt. “We've got to get going if Tom's going to catch his flight.”
I'll write you as soon as I arrive,” Tom said and he got to his feet.
Hang on,” Joan said, taking hold of Tom's shirt to prevent him from walking away just yet.
Tom looked back to her, confused and a little fear rising in him.
You can't leave without giving me a kiss goodbye.”
Tom hesitated for a moment and then leaned back in towards Joan. She held up her index finger to pause Tom.
Could you take off your mask first?” She asked.
It was then that it struck Tom that she hadn't seen his face yet. When she came to visit him in the hospital he was still bandaged up.
I look a bit different now,” Tom said, hoping to prepare Joan for what she was about to see.
He reached up and pulled apart the velcro at the back of his head. He caught himself from telling Joan to not freak out when she saw his face, a phrase he felt inappropriate considering what happened every time Joan freaked out. The mask came off his face.
Oh,” was all Joan said. She reached over and touched his face. “Does it still hurt?” She asked.
I don't feel anything,” Tom said and then hastily added when he saw the sadness in Joan's face, “It'll come back over time.”
He wasn't sure if Joan believed him as there was no noticeable change in her expression.
And your hair,” Joan continued, running her hand over his bad scalp.
I'm looking into wigs,” Tom said with a smile.
Joan snorted a laugh but was cut short in her response by the intercom.
We really do need to be going,” Mike said.
Joan's hand slipped down to the back of Tom's head, her other hand grabbing him around the waist and she pulled Tom into a long, passionate kiss. At first he was shocked by it, but he quickly relaxed and for a moment they were the only two people in the world. At last Joan broke away from their embrace.
Okay you,” She said, “Don't forget to write.”
Yeah,” Tom said, breathless, “You too.
*     *     *
Is it too cheesy, Tom asking Joan to go out with him? I'm hoping  it's more sweet and cute, if a little endearing...but I worry how much 'cheese' has made it into this chapter.

Friday, November 16, 2012

POETRY: TRAIN

This isn't my stop
“Everyone off” said the man
He isn't joking

The train's not moving
There's an accident ahead
Now I have to walk

Cold air bites my face
Like lemmings we cross traffic
Hopeful for a bus

*     *     *
Riding the train into Seattle the other day there was an accident in the tunnel, where the train was suppose to go, and so we all got dumped out on the outskirts of the city with the instruction to "Find a bus and hope it takes you to where you need to go."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SHORT STORY: THE DRIVE

“Come to me,” the grating voice called to her from the void.
Katherine's eyes were open before her mind could register that she wasn't sleeping anymore. Always the same voice, always the same command, and always the same direction. Where that direction will lead her, Katherine doesn't know. But she also doesn't care anymore. For years the voice has been calling to her, and at last she's following.
Katherine pulled her chair back into the upright position and laid her hands on the cold steering wheel, rubbing it to warm it up before she'd have to keep a hold of the steering wheel to drive. Each morning was colder than the one before it. If she didn't find where the voice was coming from soon, her blankets wouldn't be enough to keep her warm through the nights.
“One more day,” She told herself, just like she'd told herself since the day she began her cross country road trip. Of course, she didn't know it was going to be such a long trip at the time. Two, maybe three days of driving. Today marked the sixth day. People would be worried by this time. Her decision to leave happened so suddenly she didn't even call in to work and get the time off. Then there was her busybody sister, Bethany, who came over almost every day to check in on her. Ever since they were young, Bethany had been that way, trying to take care of her, make sure she was okay. When Katherine was seven she appreciated the guardianship of her older sister. Now that she was a grown woman it came off as bothersome.
With a teeth chattering sigh, Katherine turned the key and the engine turned. At first it protested to being started in the cold but eventually it growled to life. The voice from her dream was still vivid in her mind and she inherently knew the direction it had called to her from; ahead and a little to the left.
Without further protest from the engine, Katherine put the car into drive and pulled out of the rest stop. If anyone had asked Katherine two days ago, she would have said rest stops were a thing of the past, but Arizona, it seemed, had missed that memo and she'd been quite pleased when she discovered vending machines at the last one. Gummy bear wrappers and candy bar crumbs now littered the passenger seat as well as the floor.
“Come to me,” Katherine muttered to herself, recalling the sense of direction she'd felt that morning. As the sun rose, the sense of direction lessened until midday when she just had to guess which way to go and hope she didn't pass it during the rest of the day.
She wished the sun were warmer. The blinding sunlight over the Arizona desert was unbearable at times and she was forced to pull over on more than one occasion to rest her watering eyes. She couldn't rest long, though. She had to keep going, keep driving, until she found the source of the voice. Too many miles were already behind her just to turn around now.
That night she found yet another rest stop and pulled in. She was too tired to get out and check if this one had vending machines as well so she reached into the back seat and pulled her cooler up to the front of the car. Within was the remnants of the loaf of bread she'd bought the day before, along with the jars of peanut butter and jam. After a lackluster meal, she spread her blankets out over herself and leaned her chair back. She was crazy for going on this journey, Katherine thought as she shut her eyes, but hopefully the journey would be over soon.

“Come to me,” the voice said, and Katherine drove on with a manic passion as the sun rose high above in the sky. This was the fifth time that day that the voice had spoken to her, and she was awake. The direction of the voice pounded on her head like a migraine and she knew she must be close.
Forward, the thumping pulled her, ever forward. Katherine didn't even pay any attention to the signs on the road anymore. She didn't care where she was, or how fast she was going, so long as she reached the voice today. It had to be today or it would all be for nothing. She passed perhaps a half dozen other cars on the road over a four hour period of time flying by them as though they were standing still. She thanked the voice each time, grateful that none of the cars was a police car. She couldn't be bothered with getting pulled over. Not now that she was so close.
The sun slowed in its ascent into the sky and eventually it began to sink. Katherine urged her car on, driving as fast as she dared.
“Come to me,” the voice called to her, less ephemeral and more substantial than before.
“I'm coming,” Katherine panted, “Just wait, please wait.”
Suddenly, the thumping in her head shifted to her right and she pulled on the steering wheel, slamming on the brakes at the same time. The car turned and slid, its tires squealing along the pavement and for a moment Katherine thought the car was going to flip over. Her knuckles clenched white to the steering wheel, eyes shut tight, she felt the car rock to a stop and the engine cut out.
“Come to me,” came the call, just outside her car.
Katherine opened her eyes. Dust swirled about her and in the evening light it was difficult to see anything more than a few feet away.
“Come to me,” the voice implored and Katherine thought she could see a figure through the shifting dust.
“I'm here!” Katherine cried out with excitement as she unbuckled her seat belt, “I'm coming!”
With a click, her seat belt released and Katherine threw open her door. In a flash she was out of her car and she felt so light, so free, it was as though she were flying. The air sped passed her as she flew, the ground below her moving faster and faster as the voice called to her, rejoicing with her in her success at finally arriving. Clouds whipped by with their chilly wetness but Katherine didn't mind. She wept with joy as she flew, free at last from her tedious job, free at last from Bethany and her nagging, free from everything.
The clouds began to thin and Katherine strained to see through the whipping wind what was on the other side. At last they parted and Katherine saw the canyon floor. In the last few split seconds leading up to her striking the ground, Katherine's joy turned to dread. The voice lied to her, tricked her, lured her to her death. She hadn't been flying, she'd been falling. The canyon must have been foggy and that was the clouds she thought she'd been moving through.
Perhaps Bethany had been right all along. Perhaps she should have taken her medicine, instead of flushing them away. Perhaps—
*     *     *
Thoughts? I didn't have as much time to work on this one as I would have liked, and I fear the development of Katherine's character is a bit lacking. But that aside, what worked for you? Impressions on the ending? Too obvious? Too much explanation? Was it good?

Monday, November 12, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 42

  Sorry this is a bit late, but as you will see it's a bit longer than the usual chapters. Hope you enjoy it.
*     *     *
Snow fell lightly and was just beginning to stick to the ground when they wheeled Tom out the front doors. He wanted to see if he could walk out on his own, but the hospital had it's rules. Mike and Melanie were already working on opening the car door while the nurse his wheelchair up to the curb. From head to foot, Tom wore pressure garments that were designed to shape his scarring into a more natural form. He'd have to wear them for the next year or so, day and night, until his scarring was set.
Tom lifted his face to the falling snow, shutting his eyes and imagining what each tiny flake should feel like.
We can take that mask off for a few minutes,” Mike said as he came over to help Tom into the car.
The nurse looked like she was about to scold Mike for even suggesting such a thing but Tom waved her off.
It won't make any difference,” Tom said, “I still don't have any feeling.”
None?” Melanie asked, coming over to stand next to Mike.
Tom shook his head.
But I thought your doctors told you it would come back?”
They said it might,” Tom corrected her, “And it still might. Won't know for certain until the scarring's done forming.”
Can you feel anything?” Melanie asked.
Leave him alone,” Mike butted in, “If we want to have time to visit Joan before Mike's flight then we need to get him into the car and on our way.”
Sorry,” Melanie said, and together she and Mike helped Tom into the back seat.
What time it it?” Tom asked after a few minutes.
Just past noon,” Mike replied.
And my flight's at six?” Tom asked, a bit more nervous.
Yeah,” Mike said, “And you'll probably want to be there a couple hours early because security has gotten ridiculous.”
Hasn't it always been?” Tom joked.
Yeah, well, you've missed a lot over the last several months that you've been in the hospital.”
Yeah, I heard about all those nuclear power plants,” Tom said.
Mike and Melanie looked at each other.
What?” Tom asked, “Did I miss something?”
Yeah,” Melanie said, looking back at Tom with a shocked expression on her face.
Such as?” Tom asked.
Such as the collapse of a dozen or so countries and the war over in Europe and Asia because there's not enough oil to go around and the world's running out of fuel.”
Tom sat bolt upright in his seat. “What?”
Yeah,” Mike said, “I had to sell the book store because of it.”
What?” Tom exclaimed even louder.
Seriously, Tom,” Melanie said, “How could you not know this? It's about the only thing they talk about on the news these days.”
Tom knew how he'd missed it. He'd stopped watching the news, stopped reading the paper, stopped asking people about the world outside his hospital room whenever they came to visit because it was too depressing to hear how bad things were getting. But he didn't think it would escalate this far.
Guess I was just too busy with therapy,” Tom said.
They continued to drive for some time. The snow began coming down more heavily and Mike had to speed up the windshield wipers. Few other cars were out on the road and it only served to remind Tom of how different the world was, and how much he'd missed.
At least traffic's not so bad,” Tom remarked.
Mike and Melanie managed meager laughs and Tom sank back into his chair.
So how's Joan?” Tom asked.
Again, Mike and Melanie shared a look.
You sure you want to see her?” Mike asked.
If truth be told, Tom wasn't sure. In the few times Melanie had come with Mike to visit Tom in the hospital, she'd always danced around the subject of Joan. She'd told him about Joan's new enclosure, from which Tom had guessed Joan's fire was still getting worse, but other than that he hadn't been able to learn much else.
Tom?” Mike said, bringing Tom out of his revery.
Hmm, what?” Tom asked.
I asked if you were sure you wanted to see Joan?”
Yeah,” Tom said, “Yeah, just to stop in and say hi.” Tom rubbed his gloved hands together, still surprised by the lack of sensation, as he tried to hide his trepidation. “I figure I won't be able to see her again for a while, any way.”
Yeah,” Mike agreed, “We'll miss you.”
I'll be back, don't worry,” Tom assured him.
We'll see how desperate you are to come back once you've gotten use to your moms cooking again and free rent.”
Tom smiled, or at least he did what he thought approximated to a smile. The scaring and nerve damage had a way of scrambling his expressions. Either way, Tom figured it didn't matter since there wasn't anyone to see it.
Yeah, let me tell you,” Tom teased, “It's every grown mans wish to be living in his parents basement.”
It's too bad they weren't able to fly out here and get you themselves,” Melanie said.
Not surprising, though,” Tom said, “Considering what you guys told me about the price of gas I'm surprised they could afford to fly me home at all.”
Mike and Melanie nodded solemnly and Tom followed suit, enjoying the freedom of life outside the hospital while at the same time dreading its uncertainties. In the hospital, at least, he knew what to expect. He knew when his meals were, knew when his physical therapy would be. He'd flirted with a number of his nurses and, even though his good looks and perfect hair were now gone, a few of them even flirted back. It was in that small world within a world that he found safety and that was why he'd shut out the rest of the world. With his life already in distress, he couldn't deal with the rest of the world falling apart around him.
But now he had to face that breaking world with its wars and fuel shortages and friends with broken dreams.
Tom shut his eyes as hot tears welled up in them. His eyes, the only part of him that still had any feeling, the only part of him that wasn't burned by Joan. He relished the sensation in his otherwise numb world but at the same time he hated that it had to come from his gnawing anguish.
We're here,” Mike announced after some time and the car slowed to a stop.
Tom was about to unbuckle his seat belt when Mike said, “Roll down your windows.”
Tom looked up and it was then that he noticed there were armed guards standing on both sides of the car. When Tom hesitated with his window, the guard outside gave it a sharp rap with his knuckles.
Sorry,” Tom said once he'd unrolled his window, “Just got out of the hospital.”
We're here to see Joan,” Melanie said.
Names?” The guard at Melanie's window asked.
This is my boyfriend Mike,” Melanie said, pointing as she spoke, “And this is Tom. He's an old friend of Joan's who just got out of the hospital.” Melanie added when the guard gave Tom and his body suit a double take. “We're on our way to drop him off at the airport and thought we'd stop in to say hi to Joan.”
I'm sorry Melanie,” The guard said, “But we're not allowed to admit visitors without prior authorization.”
Seriously?” Tom asked, earning a sharp glare from the guard, “I mean, does Joan get that many visitors?”
Melanie and Mike gave Tom worried looks, as though they hoped to communicate that arguing was not a good idea.
Besides Melanie?” The guard asked, “No.”
Tom blinked. “Wait,” He said, “You recognize Melanie and you're still going to turn us away?”
The guard was silent, his jaw alternately clenching and relaxing. Finally, he spoke. “Today's not a good day for visitors.”
Melanie slumped in her seat and Mike made to begin reversing the car.
No,” Tom said a bit louder than he'd intended, “I may not get another chance to see Joan and—
Tom!” The shock of hearing Mike speak so forcefully drove Tom into silence. “Joan's having a bad day.”
Then lets go cheer her up,” Tom said, still not understanding what the big deal was.
Joan's,” Melanie began but the guard at her door cut her off.
Drive in,” He said.
What?” Mike and Melanie said at once.
He's Tom?” The guard asked, “Joan's Tom?”
If you mean the guy who Joan burned,” Tom said, not liking being talked about when he was right there, “Then yes, that's me.”
It might actually do her some good to see you,” The guard said, “Drive on in.”
Mike, Melanie and Tom couldn't believe the sudden change in events but weren't going to argue any further as Mike drove past the guard post. Tom looked out the back window and saw the guard following in his jeep, talking on his radio. Ahead, a large concrete structure jutted out of the otherwise flat and empty ground. This wasn't the prison as he'd expected it to be, it was something different, something new.
The building was octagonal and several stories high, though the distinct lack of windows made it difficult to tell exactly how tall it was. Smoke, or steam, Tom couldn't tell which, rose from the roof in a thick plum that stood out against the cold gray sky.
Cozy,” Tom said as they got out of the car.
Joan's been in here for about three months now,” Melanie said, “I tried to visit her once a week but she's been having so many bad days lately that I haven't been able to get in to see her at all this month.”
They were joined by the guard a moment later and he motioned for them to go in; he followed behind. Once inside, they were all run through security and then the guard, who was apparently their escort now, took them over to an elevator.
We'll go up to the observation deck first,” He said, “And we'll see how things go from there.”
They all filed into the elevator and the guard pushed the button. The floor jerked and Tom's stomach turned. He never did like elevators, or airplanes for that matter since he was so prone to motion sickness. The thought of having a six hour flight ahead of him did not make him feel any better.
So what's wrong with Joan?” Tom asked in the hopes of distracting himself from the unpleasant swirling in his stomach.
The guard only gave Tom a withering look as the elevator doors slid open. Before them was a balcony encased in a thick glass shell that overlooked the interior of the building. The guard led them all forward and right as he reached the railing to look down the glass in front of him flashed with fire. Tom stopped walking immediately and memories of the night Joan burned him flooded unwanted into his mind.
Come down, come down, come down, come down,” A voice from below called to them.
The guard didn't seem phased by the fire and he pressed a button on the railing while leaning over a small microphone Tom hadn't noticed before.
You're friends are here to see you,” He said.
More fire shot up from below and for a brief moment the entire observation deck was engulfed in flame. Tom shut his eyes and reached out to Mike to steady himself. He knew his grip on Mike was too tight and he thought he heard Mike grunt a little but made no effort to pull free from Tom's grasp.
Melanie and Mike are here,” The guard said.
No response.
And Tom's here too,” The guard said just as Tom regained his composure enough to open his eyes once more.
Tom's dead!” Joan shrieked from below and though no more fire hit the balcony there was the distinct glow of fire emanating from below.
Tom made his way over to the intercom and the guard moved to make room for him. Down below them about thirty feet, Tom could see Joan, burning. She sat in the middle of a ring of stones she'd apparently piled up herself. Her enclosure was scorched black, making it difficult to make out any other features. Joan's clothes were burned in places but not so badly as Tom had expected. As he watched, Joan swayed back and forth, laying her hands on alternating side of the stone ring.
She's been burning for almost two weeks straight,” The guard whispered.
Um,” Tom began, not knowing what exactly he should say.
The guard was still holding down the button to the intercom and Joan sat up still when she heard Tom's voice, though Tom couldn't tell if that was because she recognized it or if it was just a different voice from that of the guards.
I'm looking for a book,” Tom continued, saying the first thing that came to his mind, “And I was wondering if you had it in paperback?”
Joan's fire went out.
Can I come down?” Tom asked.
The guard immediately took his finger off the intercom button. “What are you thinking?” He asked.
Her fire's out,” Tom said, pointing to Joan who still had yet to respond.
I would think that you of all people would know that that can change without a moments notice.”
Yeah, Tom,” Mike said, rubbing his arm where Tom had been gripping only moments before, “I don't think that's a very good idea.”
Tom?” Joan called from below.
Yes, I'm still here,” Tom replied, holding down the intercom button himself.
If you want to come down,” Joan said, “That would be fine. I promise I won't burn you.”
Tom looked to the guard who bit his lip, thinking. Tom was himself surprised by his sudden desire, his need to go down to Joan. He couldn't explain what had happened to his fear but ever since he saw Joan down below in her circle of rocks, looking so different from before. She was so scared, so weak, and she had been the one to give him courage.
Tom?” Joan called out again, a tear in her voice.
Tom moved to the microphone but the guard held him back and leaned in instead. Tom's heart fell.
He'll be down in a moment, Joan,” The guard said and then turned off the intercom. “Be careful,” He said to Tom, “And good luck.”
*     *     *
So tell me, what are your thoughts on Tom? Have any of you ever dealt with serious burns? Have I described his state sufficiently or should there be more? Less?