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, December 31, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 47

Things were going well, Matt thought to himself. Installation was on schedule, funding was more than sufficient, and the university was considering moving him up to full professorship within the year. He kicked a small, blackened stone in front of him and watched as it skittered across the floor of the enclosure. A few of the workmen looked up from their places at the clattering sound. So many of them were on edge, but they had nothing to worry about, Joan wasn't there.
Matt sighed, regretting the fact that he couldn't visit with her. He'd counted on her being there, but on further contemplation, it made sense that they'd moved Joan. From what he'd heard recently, Joan had become a bit unstable and accidents involving Joan and her fire were the last thing Matt needed. Permission may have been granted, but that didn't mean people didn't have their reservations about the project. The crew's nervousness was evidence enough of that.
Dr. Muto strolled over from the other side of the enclosure where he'd been going over some of the plans.
You are distracted,” Dr. Muto observed.
Matt shrugged his shoulders. “There isn't much for me to do.”
Are you not concerned for the installation?” Dr. Muto asked.
These guys seem to know what they're doing,” Matt said with a nod toward the workers.
They walked along the perimeter while Dr. Muto thought.
The people must know you are concerned,” Dr. Muto said at last. “If they feel that you do not care, how can you expect them to care?”
They're just builders,” Matt exclaimed. Dr. Muto's concern over such things had increased to near obsessive levels over the past few months and it was beginning to wear on him.
Dr. Muto shook his head in disappointment. “These are not just builders,” he said, “These are people who will tell their families, their friends about what they are doing. You must inspire them so that they, in turn, may inspire others.”
All we're doing is building a power plant,” Matt said.
Dr. Muto pursed his lips. “Tell me,” he said, “How many countries have fallen?”
Matt shook his head. “I don't know,” he said, “I haven't been keeping track.”
Well you should,” Dr. Muto scolded him. “This world is dying and it's up to us to save it.”
I agree that the world's a mess right now,” Matt said, “but this one Heat Machine won't be enough to—
No, no, no,” Dr. Muto practically shouted.
Heads turned toward them and Dr. Muto regained his composure.
It must go beyond this one Heat Machine,” he said in an undertone, “but unless the vision goes beyond you and me then other people, other nations, will ignore us and our world will not be saved.”
Alright,” Matt sighed, agreeing more out of a desire to avoid excess preaching from Dr. Muto than anything else.
Dr. Muto motioned toward a group of workers who were comparing schematics and Matt moved to speak with them. Right before he reached the workers, he looked back over his shoulder to Dr. Muto and saw him smiling proudly in his direction. It reminded Matt of the looks his parents gave him when he graduated high school, and then again when he started college.
How are things going?” Matt asked brightly.
The workers looked up from the schematics and Matt could see the weary expressions in their faces grow ever so slightly wearier.
They're going good,” one of them said in a terse tone before they went back to studying the schematics.
Good,” Matt said, rocking back and forth on his heels, “And the condensers are coming along nicely?”
The workers looked up at him for a moment and then returned to what they were doing without responding. Matt looked down to the schematics and realized they were not working on the condensers but were, in fact, working on the inner shell.
Oh,” Matt said, his voice a bit muted, “I didn't realize you'd already finished the condensers.”
Yup,” another of the workers said without looking up. “Finished those last week.”
Been working on the inner shell ever since then,” said another.
Right,” Matt said, “look, I know there's nothing I can do to help speed things up here besides leaving you all alone.”
The workers looked back up at Matt, some of them trying to conceal their smiles while the others did nothing to hide their amusement at Matt's forward admission of uselessness.
The thing is,” Matt went on now that he had their attention, “this power plant, this Heat Machine, is really important to me. I've been fighting to get this thing made for years, and now it's finally getting built and I just can't help but check in every once in a while to see how things are going. And just think, we could be the solution to the energy crisis and end all of the wars going on right now.” Matt left them to their work after that and was glad to find Dr. Muto had left for the evening.
*     *     *
So, I'm not sure how to feel about this chapter. I've been working it and reworking it for a while and though I still feel the need for this chapter, I'm not quite satisfied. I'll keep working on it, but in the mean time, what do you think?

Monday, December 24, 2012

JUST A HEADS UP, I'M ON VACATION

I realized this morning that I failed to mention on Friday that I will be on vacation all this week and therefore will not be posting. So here I am, posting in order to tell you that I will not be posting.

   Happy Christmas & Merry New Year

Friday, December 21, 2012

POETRY: THE RICHES OF CHRISTMAS

The lights are held with masking tape
Toothpicks hold the baubles
The tree is made of cardboard
And try as we might, it wobbles

Pennies pinched and couches search
Was not enough this year
No shopping trips or wrapping gifts
Yet still we're filled with cheer

The house is warm, our bills all paid
Good health we still enjoy
With friends and family all around
Our gratitude employ

Tis the season, deck the halls
Familiar carols play
I hope all's well with you and yours
Come this Christmas day

*     *     *
   Not every Christmas is as grand or extravagant as the others. I've had my fair share of both. What about you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A FREEBIE FOR TODAY: MORNING MUSINGS

 I realize I already posted today's short story, and I could have saved this for next week, but it's a bit short for my usual short stories, and definitely more essay in nature. So here you go, I hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts on it.
 *     *     *
  The sun rose early over the pond this morning, it's sudden light reflected off the waters surface and through the blinds into my room. Unable to stave off natures instinct to such an occurrence, I awoke and stared out into the still morn, the few ducks that have yet to fly south plodded about in search of their daily sustenance. A solitary crane demanded wide berth from his fellow feathered fouls as he dipped his slender beak through reeds and mire.
  Ripples diminished rapidly in the chill water, giving it the appearance of silvered glass and mirroring, nigh to perfect, the oaks and aspens beyond its bank.
  A raven flew in from somewhere behind my viewpoint and circled, briefly, a lone patch of earth near the center of the pond before landing on the muddy mound. The curious bird patted with its foot all around the island. I was reminded of River Dance, with the many dancers all in a line, stamping and stomping in rhythm. Right at the moment where I thought the raven was about to do whatever its strange dance had preceded, an entire murder of the black birds swooped in. Whatever the original intentions of the first raven were, I'll never know, for no sooner had the murder arrived than he took flight, an angry Caw escaping his beak before he fluttered away.
  The stymied murder flocked around, hopping too and fro in their agitation at not understanding what the first had so clearly understood. Yet the island would not reveal its secrets to them and eventually they left it for some scrap of garbage blowing through the trees on the bank opposite.
  I waited for the first raven to return, hoping to learn what it was that he had sought, and what it was that the other ravens had so jealously coveted for themselves. Alas, I waited in vain. The sun reached fully into the sky and as it did so the pond lost its reflective qualities. Ripples were no longer muted and the ducks, with their natural camouflage, melted away into the dull browns and grays of winter.
  The moment of wonder was broken and I had nothing left to do but to get ready for the day, musing on how little magic there was left in our world, and mourning the loss of it.

SHORT STORY: BEYOND THE HERD

Here's all the pieces of the story.                                                                                     BEYOND THE FREEZER  -  BEYOND THE SELF  -  BEYOND THE HERD BEYOND THE FEW  -  BEYOND THE EDGE  -  BEYOND THE STARS
*     *     *
The farmer walked along the fence line. A small contingent of cows on the other side of the fence, each one turned its head to watch the farmer as he passed. A noticeable shiver ran through the man. In his hand, a long slender tube of metal that terminated in a wooden stock. Patty knew what that was. Enough of the cows had seen it used that now, with their hive mind, Patty was intelligent enough to know it for the death-bringer that it was. Patty had the cows behaving oddly over the last few days in order to get the farmers attention, in the hopes of getting him to come into the field. The death-bringer changed things slightly, but Patty would adapt.
One cow mooed, loud and strong, staring directly at the farmer for the entire length of the low, causing the farmer to hesitate mid step. Once finished, the cow meandered back into the herd so as to make it indistinguishable from the rest. Another cow repeated this, and then another joined in. And another, until all of them were lowing at the farmer at once. While the farmer was thus fascinated with the behavior of these cows, Patty commanded another contingent, the ones he'd sneaked out of the fence the night before, to move around the farmer from behind. These cows walked with a grace unthinkable before their heightened awareness occurred and the farmer never heard them approaching.
The lead cow headbutted the farmer just hard enough to knock him to the ground while the others closed in around him. A pleasant crunch signaled the destruction of the death-bringer.
“What—?” the farmer stammered as the many bovine faces clouded out the sky above.
The lead cow bent down on its forelegs until it as kneeling, its head close to the farmers, and Patty, resting on the head of the beast, flopped forward onto the snout. The farmer stared in disbelief, almost as though he expected to wake up any minute from this horrible nightmare. Patty broke off a piece of himself and lurched it onward towards the farmers mouth. There wasn't much left of Patty now, it had taken so many tiny pieces of himself to claim this portion of the herd. Fortunately, cows, once commanded by Patty, never broke away from his control and he could continue spreading himself through the meat of those cows. But first, he needed the farmer. Old and greasy, the piece of Patty slid down the cows nose until it reached the very end, dangling precariously on the mucousy tip.
The farmers eyes, wide with shock, looked back and forth at the cows, seeking understanding. As one the cows, except for the one holding Patty, opened their mouths. Latent horror filled the mans face as the dawning realization struck him and he jammed his mouth shut tight. Again, the cows opened their mouths, looming down even closer to him, some of them brushing their tongues and noses against him. He resisted, turned his head away from them and shut his eyes.
Patty was prepared for such resistance. With a satisfying thck, one of the cows gored the farmers leg. In the instant that the pain struck the man, his mouth shot open wide and the piece of Patty dropped the few inches and landed in the back of the farmers throat. At once, the cow holding Patty turned its head and placed a horn against the farmers throat, warning him not to expel the piece of meat. Whether he comprehended the threat or just swallowed on instinct, Patty wasn't certain. It didn't matter, though. When the farmers eyes opened back up, he was Patty, and all of his knowledge about the world, about Patty and his kind, filled him.
He limped painfully home. His wife was out back watering her flowers and when she saw him, covered in mud and blood caked down his leg, her face blanched and she ran screaming over to him.
Are you alright?” She asked, offering him her arm.
Patty accepted her support and looked back thoughtfully toward the way he'd come from.
Just one of the bulls,” Patty said, his voice even and steady. His wife would expect nothing less from this man, considering all the times he'd been kicked, stepped on, gored and so forth. “He's been getting feisty lately and today,” Patty drew in a deep breath, as though contemplating on the incident, “well, I think it would be best if he were put down.”
He's not sick is he?” his wife asked, concern for their livestock showing in her face.
No,” Patty assured her at once, “vet was here just last week. I think he's just turned into an ornery cow and that's the last thing I need with calving starting soon.”
His wife nodded her head and she lead him toward the house. She called for their oldest child who appeared in the back doorway within moments and instructed her to get some rags and to call the doctor.
Do you think the neighbors are doing anything tomorrow evening?” Patty asked his wife.
Why?” She asked. “You're in no fit shape to go riding with that leg of yours.”
Oh I know,” he said, “But it would be a waste not to butcher up such a fine beast as that cow, and I thought we could invite the neighbors over for steak.”
With a grin, Patty allowed his wife to lead him the rest of the way into the house.

Monday, December 17, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 46

White walls. White floor. White ceiling. White lights. Joan hated the color. Her cell was a perfect cube, and while Joan burned with as much intensity as she could muster, it was to no avail. No scorch marks, no ash, no sign that she even burned remained behind. It seemed her captors had finally found her a perfect prison. Some days, all Joan did was burn, others she sat on the floor and cried. Today, she paced around the edges of her room with a low burn on to warm her cell. Days went by without any contact with the outside world so she hummed and talked to herself from time to time just so she could hear the sound of a friendly voice.
Joan,” a voice announced over the loudspeaker hidden somewhere above her cell, out of range of her fire. It was a pleasant voice, and Joan was thankful for that. She couldn't remember when it had taken over the loudspeaker but it was certainly an improvement from the guards who'd controlled it before.
Yes, I'm here,” Joan replied, pausing in her walk and pulling her fire back in. They liked it when she did that.
Your letters have arrived and they're waiting for you,” the voice said.
Joan leaped to the door, eagerly awaiting for it to unlock and slide open. The only times they let her out were when she received letters, and the only person who wrote to her was Tom. He'd kept his promise, writing everyday, and she wrote him back. The only problem was, with the country in its current state the mail was only being delivered once a week.
Perhaps it was better this way, Joan thought to herself as the door to her cell opened and she walked out into the fresh air of the enclosure beyond. This way she could spend several hours out of her cell, reading through Tom's letters and writing responses to each one before having to go back to her cell. The stack of letters slid through a small opening on the far side of the enclosure and Joan ran to pick them up.
How are you doing today?” the voice asked over the intercom as Joan sorted through the letters.
Joan was always careful to get the letters in order before reading them.
Joan?” the voice prompted.
What?” Joan asked, distracted and annoyed with the voice. All she wanted to do was lose herself in reading and writing letters.
How are you doing, Joan?” the voice asked again.
Fine,” Joan said, finding the first letter and tearing it open.
Dear Joan, she read, I hope this finds you well. Or at least better than last week. Things here are going well—
Joan?” the voice interrupted.
WHAT!” Joan shouted up to the voice. Her finger tips singed the edges of Tom's letter and Joan glared from the burned letter to the observation deck and back again. “Look what you've made me do!” she cried out. Tom's letters were like gold to her and now this one was damaged. Burned, like Tom.
I'm sorry, Joan,” the voice said, and it sounded earnest enough, though that did little to assuage Joan's emotions. “But please,” the voice went on, “it's been so long since you've let me come visit you.”
Joan ignored the voice, quelling the fire within that was struggling to burst out. Flakes of charred paper fell away from the letter but, thankfully, none of the writing was lost. She smoothed the page out lovingly.
See,” Joan said to herself, “it's not so bad.”
Joan went back to reading her letters, devouring Tom's handwriting. It had improved quite a lot over the weeks that they'd been writing to one another. The first several letters were almost illegible. Tom's writing was still shaky but at least his letters didn't look like they'd been written by a first grader anymore.
I got a cat, Joan read, but I can't think of a good name for him. I've included a picture of him so you can help me out.
Joan picked up the envelope this letter had come from and found the picture. A sleek, black cat with white and orange markings was eating from its bowl in the picture. Joan had never seen a cat with such coloring and could see why finding a name would be difficult. She returned to the letter.
He likes being held, but not being scratched. He'll sit on my lap for hours, purring, as long as I don't touch him. Whenever I do try to pet him he bats my hands away. Sometimes he'll bite if I don't stop right away, but I can't feel it.
Joan frowned. She hated it whenever she was reminded of how badly she'd burned Tom and she quickly finished reading the letter, eager to move on in the hopes of finding happier news.
Tom's remaining letters spoke about his parents, his cat, and his healing. In his final letter he told Joan that his face had begun to get some feeling back, discovered when he awoke that morning with the cat's tail flicking and tickling his nose. Joan clutched this letter to her chest in her ecstasy at the good news before moving on to writing her daily letter to Tom.
She told him about her cell, but not about how she hated it. She wrote about the new voice on the intercom, but left out how it had upset her and that she'd burned his letter. Joan even dared to tell Tom that she'd had a dream about the two of them, though she failed to write down that the dream was about her burning the world and leaving only Tom and herself behind. Tom didn't need to read about the bad things in her life, he had enough pain to deal with already. When she finished her letter, she folded it up and slipped it through the slot that Tom's letters had been put through. Her guards would take care of the envelope and stamp.
Finished with reading her weekly supply of letters, Joan tucked them away in her shirt for safe keeping until she was back in her cell where she could put them in her locker where they'd be safe from her fire. As she turned around to return to her cell she was surprised to see a woman standing there in place of her cell. Where her cell had gone she had no idea.
Hello,” the woman said. She wasn't dressed like a guard and neither did she wear the same type of jumper that Joan wore. Instead, she wore jeans and a T-shirt.
Joan didn't say anything. The shock of suddenly being confronted with this person and the disappearance of her cell was more than she could take in.
Joan?” the woman said, “It's me, don't you recognize me?”
Joan wasn't listening. Instead, she was scouring the ground, looking for any sign of her cell and all she found was a pile of rocks lining the perimeter of where the cell should have been.
What did you do?” Joan asked excitedly.
The other woman looked around uncertainly. “I didn't do anything,” she said.
But the cell,” Joan said and she moved around the pile of rocks, kicking some of them over, “You destroyed it.” Joan practically leaped into the air with triumphant glee and she proceeded to scatter more of the rocks.
There never was a cell, Joan,” the woman said uncomfortably as Joan threw handfuls of rocks around the enclosure. “You stacked those rocks yourself.”
Joan hesitated, something in the back of her mind nagging at her like a cog in a gear box slipping into place. “Say that again,” Joan said.
You put the rocks there, Joan,” she said.
Joan looked back to the letter slot, then back to the woman and the remnants of the rock pile. In the far corner she could just make out the edges of several letters tucked beneath the rocks. Joan moved over to them and pulled them out. Al of Tom's letters, safe and sound, tucked beneath the rocks.
These were in my locker,” Joan said, confused.
You've been putting them there the whole time,” the woman said. “Do you remember me?”
That last question sounded as though it was as much of a realization for the woman as it was for Joan to discover her letters beneath the rocks. Joan looked at her, hard, studying her face. The final piece clicked into place and Joan's eyes welled up with tears.
Melanie?” Joan said and Melanie nodded.
Joan ran to her friend and embraced her.
I'm losing it, Mel,” she said, fear etched into every syllable. “I can't keep on like this.”
Melanie didn't say anything, she just held Joan and let her cry.
*     *     *
 Thoughts on Joan's mental state? Thought's on Melanie and her behavior? Did it make sense, was it a surprise that it was Melanie at the end?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I'M PUBLISHED IN THIS-Words to Paint With: a collection of prose and poetry

"Eighteen inches. A foot and a half of soil I have to remove before I can plant anything. A foot and a half of soil I can't touch with my skin. A foot and a half of dust and sand I can't breath if I want to live. That's what the book says, the book I found down here with me. There really isn't much here besides a couple weeks worth of food and water along with some batteries, a flashlight, first aid and the book. I'm supposed to wait here until I have three days left of food and water and then I run for it. I have to get away, get to the rendezvous point as quick as I can. The book says so. I hope I can remember which way is North from here. That's important too. There's so much to remember, so many important things. If I forget one of them, do something wrong, I'm dead. Oh, God, watch over me."

That's an excerpt from a short story I got published in a book a little while ago, and I'm not sure if I told you about it. Anyway, the short story is The Last Man (I made a short film based on it, found in the FILMS section of the blog), about a solitary survivor of a nuclear holocaust. The story is told from the perspective of a journal he's keeping, recording his thoughts, impressions, and reflections.

There are a number of other really good short stories and poems in the collection so check it out here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

POEM: SECOND FRIDAY

Baby fell asleep
In his parents bed last night
He slept, they didn't

*     *     *

Here's the last little update for today, catching up for the missed time and posts of this and last week.

SHORT STORY: BEYOND THE SELF

Here's all the pieces of the story.                                                                                     BEYOND THE FREEZER  -  BEYOND THE SELF  -  BEYOND THE HERD BEYOND THE FEW  -  BEYOND THE EDGE  -  BEYOND THE STARS
*     *     *
“A little bit farther, Patty,” he said, using the name he'd heard others calling him by. “Just a bit farther.”
Something was calling to him, drawing him onward and he had to know what it was. The great light had come and gone more times than he could count. His grease trail had long since diminished and movement was getting difficult. Birds flew overhead, seemingly uncertain what to make of the strange entity he had become. Every once in a while, once of the birds would swoop down at him and he would have to leap out of the way. Each time he barely made it, and each time became a little more difficult.
The birds left him alone in the dark times, and that was a relief. But there were other things to worry about in the dark. He never slept, he didn't need to, but he couldn't stop to take a rest either and that was beginning to wear on him. Shifting forms in the black haunted his nights, threatening to overtake him and devour him should he ever cease his vigilance.
A bird swooped and, this time, Patty wasn't fast enough. Beak pierced flesh and the bird gulped down a chunk of meat. Patty reeled from the blow and dodged out of the way as the bird came in for another bite.
Oddly, Patty was still aware of the piece of himself inside the bird. He took a hold of it with his mind and bird flopped to the ground, ridged. Patty found himself in two places at once: on the ground, where he was following his dodge, and on the ground where he'd landed after falling out of the air. It didn't make sense. The bird was the one who'd fallen, but there, in his mind, he saw out of the birds eyes, knew the birds thought, he even felt the dull pain on the birds side where it had landed wrong. He knew everything the bird knew and had all of its memories, though most were of little interest to Patty.
Another bird took advantage of the apparent delay and swooped in. Patty swooped up and pecked at the other bird, knocking it away. The other birds scattered at this sudden change in their companions behavior and Patty was left alone with himself, both of him. The bit of Patty inside the bird shifted within the gullet and Patty's hold over the bird wavered. The closer to complete digestion that Patty's segment got, the weaker his hold over the bird. Not wanting to lose this opportunity, Patty gingerly picked himself up in his beak and flew off toward the horizon, toward the call driving him on.
It was nearing the end of the light when at last Patty knew he'd arrived. Spread out before him were more of his kind, or at least what he had been before he'd been taken, tortured, and changed. It was just in time too since the bird was beginning to come back to itself and Patty was eager to get out of it's beak. The moment Patty was back on the ground, he flew the bird as far away as he could. By the end of it's flight it felt less like a part of him and more just a being that Patty was giving strong suggestions to.
Calm lowing reached Patty as the light faded and with it went his hope of reaching his kind that day. Here, at least, there were no dark forms moving about like specters, and at last he could rest. As soon as the light returned he would finish his search. And now he had a new idea, a new goal. It was a remote hope, but perhaps revenge upon those who so tortured him was not so far outside of his reach.
*     *     *
 Sequel to BEYOND THE FREEZER. I'm laying around a bit more with the beef patty, we'll see how far it goes.

POEM: FRUSTRATION

Christmas season's here
Bank error in bank's favor
Less presents this year.

*     *     *

Just a bit of frustration on some happenings this month.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

DECEMBER, DECEMBER, DECEMBER...

   For those of you that don't know, today is/was my anniversary (4 years!). Had a wonderful day with my wife, got absolutely no writing done, and hardly any blogging. Sorry to those of you who showed up looking for a Short Story today and didn't find one, and sorry for last Friday not having a Poem.

   Tell you what, I'll make it up to you. On Friday I'll post a Poem, then a Short Story, then another Poem, all in one day. Just because you are all so awesome for reading my blog.

   I've had this one short story in the works for quite some time and I believe it's ready to see the light. Some of you may wish to read (or re-read) BEYOND THE FREEZER if you haven't already... because things in the universe are about to, shall we say, evolve.

Monday, December 10, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 45

Matt shuffled the note in his hands, reviewing briefly what he planned to say should things go badly. Even the slightest of sounds echoed in the hallway with its marble floor and hardwood paneling. Matt was beginning to see why Joan hated coming to the courthouse so much. He flipped through his notes again, the sounds of the rifling paper reverberated down the corridor.
You'll crease them,” Dr. Muto said, laying a hand on the papers to prevent Matt from fussing with them further.
Silence filled the hallway. Matt followed Dr. Muto's example and sat still on the bench, waiting for them to be called into the courtroom on the other side of the heavy double doors that stood, imposing, to their side. A guard stood before the doors, staring straight ahead as though Matt and Dr. Muto weren't there. Of course, this wasn't the same courtroom used for Joan and for that he was thankful. Matt didn't know what they used that courtroom for now, seeing as how Joan didn't have to heck in regularly anymore. Not here at least. Perhaps they'd turn it back into a standard courtroom again.
Poor Joan, Matt thought to himself. It was months since they'd last spoken to one another. He thought he was being all sorts of clever when he gave Joan his other cell phone. Matt believed he'd be able to talk to her, help her, until the Heat Machine was ready. Then he'd have a real excuse to be allowed to visit her on a regular basis. In actual practice, the phone lasted less than a week before the battery died. Even if Matt had thought to give Joan the charger, where would she have plugged it in? No, it was a nice idea, if only a bit flawed.
Please,” Dr. Muto stated more firmly, “you need to relax.”
Matt hadn't realized that he'd begun shuffling his papers again until Dr. Muto spoke.
Sorry,” Matt said, and he placed his notes inside the folder they belonged in.
There's nothing left for us to do but wait,” Dr. Muto assured Matt. “We've made our case, presented our evidence, and it's now up to the Judge to decide on the matter.”
Dr. Muto spoke with a steady, confident cadence and Matt wanted to believe him. He knew this wait would pass by so much quicker, so much more pleasantly, if only he could relax. But try as he might, he couldn't. How Dr. Muto managed to behave so calmly was beyond Matt's understanding. True, they'd spent the greater part of the past few months preparing their case. Matt even felt that they'd done a pretty good job of arguing their side of things. They had solid answers to all of the questions put to them, rehearsed for hours and hours in the days leading up to today.
What if the Judge doesn't rule in our favor?” Matt asked, finally voicing the fear that was gnawing away at him.
Dr. Muto turned his flat, steady gaze onto Matt. He felt as though Dr. Muto were sizing him up like an adult does to a child who's just asked a serious question and the adult is deciding how much of the answer the child can understand. It took a painfully long time for Dr. Muto to decide, or at least, that's how Matt felt once Dr. Muto began to speak.
If things go badly for us today,” he said evenly, “Then we are finished.”
Matt waited for Dr. Muto to go on, to expound upon his statement. He couldn't believe that Dr. Muto would be so pessimistic about the situation. Certainly there had to be another course.
What about an appeal?” Matt asked. “We could—
We could waste time with more court hearings,” Dr. Muto said in a terse voice, cutting Matt off mid-sentence. “Even if we filed for an appeal it's unlikely that it would be granted. Even if we were successful and presented our case again to a different Judge who decided to overturn today's decisions, it would most be too late.”
But,” began Matt and he was again cut off by Dr. Muto.
The world is killing itself,” Dr. Muto stated. “It does not have enough time remaining for us to hope for another chance.”
Matt stared at the wall in front of him, not really seeing it. The finality of Dr. Muto's words sank deep into him and it seemed as though his entire being could cease to exist.
They're ready for you,” the guard said and he moved to pull the heavy doors open.
They stood and followed the guard into the courtroom. Matt's heart threatened to burst up through his throat, it was pounding so hard. His stomach clenched as the Judge entered the room and they all took their seats. It would all be over in a few moments time. The Judge would pass down his judgment and they'd be finished. The world would die and they would be powerless to stop it.
Dr. Muto placed a hand on Matt's leg and gave him a firm but subtle shake. “You look like you're going to be sick,” Dr. Muto said under his breath. “Now would not be a good time for such things.”
Matt took in several deep breaths and steadied his nerves as best he could. His hands were still shaking when the Judge withdrew the folder containing their files but his stomach at least had stopped flopping around.
The Judge went through the usual opening statements and at one point Matt had to state his name, followed by Dr. Muto. Events moved in a blur as though he were stuck on a sped up merry-go-round and his nausea returned in force.
...and so it is the decision of this court,” the Judge was saying and the world slowed back down to the painfully slow pace it had been at before when they were still waiting outside.
Dr. Muto's eyes were shut, his face calm. Only the muscles around his temples were tight and Matt suspected that that was his way of showing fear. The court recorder sat off in the corner, stacks of papers and forms surrounding her desk, her hands busily organizing and filing the documents nearest her.
His stomach heaved and Matt tasted bile in his mouth. There was movement around him but his ears didn't appear to be working properly and all he could hear was a piercing ringing in his head. He heaved again and only just kept from throwing up. More movement. Matt's vision swam, the edges of the room turned dark, and everything took on an unnatural green tint. He was aware of there being sounds around him, but he couldn't hear them; a strange paradox.
Matt,” Dr. Muto's voice was hushed but urgent, his hands firmly shaking Matt out of his stupor.
Everything returned to normal and Matt was shocked to see that the Judge was standing.
What's happened?” Matt asked.
Stand up!” Dr. Muto growled, nodding his head toward the Judge.
Matt stood, his knees threatening to give way, and the Judge walked out of the courtroom. As soon as the door was shut behind the Judge, Dr. Muto took Matt by the arm and lead him away. They left the courtroom, turned down a few halls and eventually Dr. Muto stopped them, pulled open a door and pushed Matt through.
They were in a bathroom.
Instinct claimed him and Matt stumbled into the first stall he came to. His knees gave out and he knelt, purging for some time before rising back up, lips shaking. Dr. Muto had the water running for him and Matt rinsed out his mouth.
Wash your face,” Dr. Muto instructed. “The cold water will feel good.”
Matt splashed his face a couple of times and it did indeed make him feel substantially better. At last, Matt was himself again and he and Dr. Muto sat down on a bench just outside the courthouse. It was cold and snow was just beginning to fall but their bench was sheltered beneath the overhanging eaves of the courthouse.
What happened?” Matt asked.
You had a panic attack,” Dr. Muto stated as though this should have been obvious.
No,” Matt allowed himself a chuckle, “what did the Judge say?”
Mmm, that,” Dr. Muto said but did not continue.
In the few moments that they'd been outside, the snowflakes had increased in size and they were falling more quickly now as well. The few pedestrians lingering about the courthouse dispersed and Matt and Dr. Muto were suddenly alone outside.
We were granted our petition,” Dr. Muto said at last. “Though, we must build the Heat Machine within Miss Darcy's enclosure,” he added. “It seems as though her fire has become even more uncontrollable.”
Matt breathed a sigh of relief. Joan would be sad that he hadn't been able to get her out, but at least he'd be able to see her again, and now the courts couldn't keep him from visiting her.
*     *     *     
What was your first impression on Matt and Dr. Muto's situation? Did you know what they were there for? Did it make sense?

Friday, December 7, 2012

SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT

Sorry to those of you looking for a poem today. I've been working on a documentary these past few months and I would like to update you all on that. The film's about a group here in Seattle (NuSol) that went down to a VERY remote village in Peru and installed solar power for the people. While there, the river that borders the village eroded so much of the river bank away that parts of the village fell into the river. So, go here and see what I have to say about the project, and then go here to watch the trailer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SHORT STORY: 13

Some time ago I wrote some Short Shorts. This is an extension on that theme. I didn't originally intend for these stories to all be 13 words long, it just turned out that way.
 
13
The ball bounced, the child chased, the sedan swerved, and the mother mourned.
*
Everyone thought the old man was sleeping, until they tried to rouse him.
*
Within moments, it was over. The plane's emergency doors opened. She was safe.

Monday, December 3, 2012

IMMOLATION: CHAPTER 44

Who would have thought being numb would hurt so much? It wasn't the sharp pain it had once been, and at times Judge Dervin thought it was all in his head. That throbbing, burning ache in his arms, legs, and spine from sitting, bound, for so long. At least they fed him. Once a day, some unrecognizable substance trickled through the long tube his captors had run through the ceiling and hung just within reach of his lips. An identical setup beside him fed the other man. The food, if it could really be called that, never satisfied and more often than not it made them sick.
...another collapse this week...” the news reporter was saying over images of a collapsed coal mine with emergency crews scattered about.
That's new,” the other man said.
Is it?” Judge Dervin asked with mild interest. His eyes threatening to close as he slipped briefly unconscious.
It was suppose to be just nuclear and oil,” the other man shook his head thoughtfully. “But I suppose Feather Weight was more successful in his part of all this than we originally thought possible.”
Talks among the United Nations have dissolved,” the news reporter continued, “as the warring between the Middle East and Asia has finally spilled over into Europe in response to the loss of these coal mines.”
You're destroying the world,” Judge Dervin said as his head bobbed back up, awake.
Yes,” the other man agreed sadly. “Don't know how we couldn't see it at the time that that was what would happen. We thought we were saving the world. Still,” he said, brightening up, “wars come and go, eh?”
Judge Dervin wanted to spit in the mans face but his mouth was too dry to manage it.
Don't worry,” the other man said, reading the hate in Judge Dervin's face. “I'm not likely to ever see the outside of this room again.”
I hope you're wrong,” Judge Dervin said.
Oh, they'll let you go eventually, I'm sure,” the man said. “It's not in their nature to kill.”
Judge Dervin snorted his disbelief.
Well,” the man corrected himself, “not up close and personal.”
No,” Judge Dervin had to agree given the lengths to which their captors had gone to keep them alive, feeding them, cleaning them off once a week. It wasn't the sort of thing people did when all they intended to do was kill you. “That's what they had you for.”
The other man was silent. It took no great effort on Judge Dervin's part to piece together the truth. In their first few moments together, the other man had admitted to being a killer, and that Samantha had once been a captive here, in his house. Judge Dervin tried multiple times to get the man to admit to killing Samantha, but each time he'd failed and the other man had taken to falling silent now whenever the subject was brought up.
One of these days you'll tell me,” Judge Dervin said.
And I've told you before that I'd be a fool not to assume they're listening in on us,” the other man replied. “Now can't we put all of that aside, given our current situation, and at least have some pleasant conversation?”
Judge Dervin felt his head begin to droop once more and his vision flickered with his blinking eyelids.
Don't fall asleep now,” the other man said, his so voice strong and forceful that Judge Dervin could help but obey, “They're bound to be feeding us soon and you've missed the last two days.”
Judge Dervin filled with regret at being denied the peace of sleep in exchange for the retching the food would certainly induce. However, he couldn't deny that if he continued refusing to eat he would die. He couldn't give up, not now, not with his daughter's murderer a mere arms length away. No, he'd eat, force down the terrible food if only to build up sufficient strength to escape his bonds and then...he wasn't sure. In his current state all he wanted to do was kill the man beside him, but that wasn't justice. Samantha deserved justice.
Footsteps overhead heralded their daily meal and both men quickly moved into position to catch as much as they could in their mouths. Within moments, the thick, sour substance began to make its way down to them. Judge Dervin forced himself to keep eating even though his body kept trying to vomit. The sludge was like oatmeal that had gone bad days ago and the overwhelming smell suggested that such a guess couldn't be too far from the truth. Thick rubbery clumps, remnants from previous days feedings, were forced down the tube and threatened to lodge in his throat but there wasn't enough time to chew.
At last the flow ended and both man sat, panting from the exertion of gulping down their days worth of food in only a matter of moments. For a while, neither spoke and they occasionally convulsed as their bodies continued to try and purge. Bits of the gruel slid down Judge Dervin's cheeks and onto his shoulders and chest, soaking through his clothes and chilling his skin wherever it touched.
So what happens now?” Judge Dervin asked when several minutes had passed without further complaint from his stomach.
What do you mean?” the other man asked, still with a pained look on his face.
Your group,” Judge Dervin said, “what's next on the agenda?”
The other man just shook his head. “The world was suppose to figure that part out,” he said. “But it looks like we overestimated them. We hoped that our actions would force the worlds leaders into working together to find clean alternative energy sources. We thought we were going to save the world.”
How long before this escalates into another world war, do you think?” Judge Dervin asked with malice in his voice.
Oh I think we're already there,” the man said flatly. “Not everyone's shooting yet, but that's just a technicality nowadays.”
Judge Dervin spat a particularly large mass of gruel at the man which struck him square on the side of his face. “You disgust me,” he said.
The man flinched from the splatter of putridity and shook his head violently to remove the clinging globules.
I have never pretended to be anything other than what I am with you,” the man said, “and so why you must repeatedly sink down to such base levels of behavior?”
Were you honest with her?” Judge Dervin asked. “Did she know who you are? Did she?”
The man hung his head. “No,” he said, “she thought I was bio-engineer, which I am, but that's not really the point of your question.”
The man shut his eyes and Judge Dervin thought he could make out a few tears among the filth running down the man's face.
You're a fine actor,” Judge Dervin growled.
I am not pretending!” The man nearly shouted at judge Dervin, his face suddenly red and angry.
Well you must have done to get my daughter to trust you!” Judge Dervin shouted back.
The man was about to respond when his body gave a sudden jerk and he vomited all over himself. Once it began there was no stopping it and the awful smell of sick filled the room. Judge Dervin looked away, wishing he could plug his ears to the wet splashing and plopping that was happening right beside him. His own stomach trembled as guttural utterances were cut short with each eruption. Some of it splashed onto his arms and lap but there was little he could do about that.
At last, it stopped.
If you thought that stuff was foul going down,” the man began.
Oh shut up!”
Sorry,” the man said, “bad taste.”
You'll get no sympathy from me,” Judge Dervin stated, still not looking over at the man.
And I neither expect nor deserve you to,” the man replied, smacking his lips and spitting a few times. “That's better.”
How did you do it?” Judge Dervin found himself asking.
That is a topic I believe you would find even more distasteful than my recent gastric expulsions,” the man said with obvious disgust.
I want to know,” Judge Dervin pressed, turning back to look him.
The man shifted as best he could in his chair and didn't meet Judge Dervin's eyes.
Bought her a drink,” he said at last with forced levity. “She didn't even realize she was drugged until we were in my car and halfway out of town.”
Judge Dervin swore under his breath. He'd taught her better than that. No matter who the person was, no matter how well trusted...but it had been years since they'd last spoken. Who knew how many of his lessons she'd retained. Obviously not that one.
By that time,” the man went on, “she was too out of it to really fight back and, well,” his voice tapered off.
Did she die quickly?” Judge Dervin asked.
The man didn't answer.
You told me when I first arrived here that she use to sit in this chair,” Judge Dervin said, his throat constricted. “Did you do to her what they're doing to us?”
Still, he did not answer.
Did you make her live like this?” Judge Dervin shouted louder than before.
The man cringed back from the volume of Judge Dervin's voice.
Please,” he said, “they'll hear you.”
Judge Dervin hesitated. What would it matter if anyone heard them? 

*     *     *
Thoughts on Judge Dervin and Tea Leave's 'relatinship'?