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, January 28, 2013


     I had been hoping to get ahead this past weekend because I'll be going out of town for a couple weeks...but it was not to be. My family's been struck with illness and other things which have, unfortunately, put me horribly behind on my writing. I'm going to try to get caught back up this week, we'll see. At the worst, this weeks posts will be delayed until next week. At best, I'll post all three of this weeks posts on Friday.

     Thanks for you patience.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Seasons come and go
Old man sits in young man's chair
Empty house of toys


Soon this door will shut
I hope to leave it behind
Greener fields await


Ashes left by fire
Covers all like a black death
Nourish budding seeds

*     *     *

These three are not necessarily as related to one another as my usual triple haiku, but they all had similar themes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


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
*     *     *
Above, the sky burned with the invaders thrusters. Wide eyed stares gazed up, mesmerized. Word had been spreading throughout the sector of some unknown force conquering world after world but no one thought it would ever come this far into the galaxy. Surely, they thought, someone would have been able to defeat them by now. Unfortunately, the worst of the rumors were turning out to be true as their very own outer defense ships flew in to attack.
As the enemy advanced, the defenders would eventually turn on their own people, until all were one with the invaders. It was a terrible sight to watch as friends and relatives succumbed to the strange power of the aliens. One moment they'd be fighting right along side of you, the next they'd be trying to kill you.
Patty rested in his jar. So many years had passed since he'd first come to his powers and almost nothing remained of his original form. Little more than a crumb of beef, he floated in the fluids that had preserved him for so long. He wasn't sure what would happen if he were ever fully consumed. Parts of him theorized that his consciousness was now so diversified that this little scrap of meat was redundant.
His ship orbited around this final planet, the goal of his hopes and dreams. Here, he'd learned from previous conquests, was a vast archive mapping out the entirety of space. This great civilization was already ancient when the earth and moon were still forming and over the eons they'd found the farthest reaches of the universe where stars and matter ceased to be. He'd been longing for this. Gone would be the need to waste centuries in search for new horizons. At last Patty would know where every form of life could be found, and conquered.
Fires burned on the planets surface as his soldier drones marched on, converting the strong minded and leaving the rest to die. Always growing closer to where the star maps were stored.
What's beyond the stars?” Patty's vocabulator buzzed.
A man who had been sitting on the floor beside Patty's plinth stood and gazed out the observation window. Patty selected a single human child every generation to raise without possessing it. Loneliness, Patty discovered, could drive one to insanity and it was to spare him from being alone that Patty kept his human companions. This one's name was Mary.
Isn't that why we're here?” Mary asked.
Hmmm,” Patty mused, “yes, but what about the thrill of discovery?”
I don't know anything about that,” Mary said. “I was born after these worlds were found.”
True enough. Mary's predecessor, a human named Stuart, had been by Patty's side when this vast civilization had been found by Patty's scouts and the resultant war had been raging ever since. It was a shame Stuart had died before this day. He had been looking forward to it with such anticipation.
And I wonder,” Mary went on, “what is the point of all this?”
What do you mean?” Patty asked.
Well,” Mary said, “you never make allies, you hardly need resources, you just conquer and move on. Why?”
Patty thought over the possibility of replacing Mary with a different human. Mary wouldn't be the first that he'd done such a thing to, but he didn't like it. He needed to answer the questions Mary was asking, and he could hardly blame her for asking them, most of his human companions did.
Why are we here?” Patty asked more to himself than to Mary, though his vocabulator had difficulty conveying such subtlety and Mary gave him a confused look.
Before Mary could voice anything the observation window flashed, signaling that the star maps had been found and were in the process of being compared with those Patty already had.
Move me closer,” Patty said and Mary complied, lifting his little jar from its plinth and carrying him to the railing before the window.
Proximity didn't make any real difference. Patty had others in separate sections of the ship where the schematics would actually be studied. For some reason, being close made something feel more real to him, a carryover from his humans, he wagered. Other species were far less sentimental. Perhaps that was why Patty always preferred a human companion to any of the other alien races he'd conquered. Certainly they had their uses. Warriors, builders, laborers...but it was the humans who could wonder. Other races saw the stars as just that, stars, and those that developed space travel had done so more as a matter of necessity. Humans began their space exploration out of necessity as well, but not a necessity for substance. No, humans explored out of a necessity to explore. They needed to know, needed to discover, and Patty feared...
The screen resolved and the comparison of the two star maps was clear. All that Patty had discovered was to be shone in blue, all that was new was to be shone in red. The map was blue.
Both Patty and Mary stared at the display for a long while and it was Patty who eventually broke the silence.
Take me out of my jar,” Patty said.
What!” Mary shrieked, “No, I can't do that.”
You can,” Patty said wearily, “it's what you were born to do.”
Mary moved slowly and without certainty. Around her, all of the beings possessed by Patty began to weep.
I don't understand,” Mary said as her hand rested on the lid, ready to open it. “You've won. You control the universe, everything. What's the matter?”
There's nothing more to learn,” Patty stated, “No new horizons, no more great discoveries. Nothing more to live for.”
Mary still did not open the jar. “Why not open it yourself?” She asked and she offered the jar to one of the Patty-humans on the observation deck with them.
I can't,” Patty said.
Why not?” Mary asked. “You've got hands.”
Because I'm weak,” screamed the Patty-humans as one, making Mary jump with fright. She'd never heard any of them speak before. None of the possessed spoke, not for centuries.
In her shock and surprise, Mary dropped the jar. Patty felt himself turning round and round. The fall seemed to him as an eternity, dwarfing the countless ages he'd endured leading up to this point. Everything he'd done, everything he'd accomplished, everything he regretted flashed through his consciousness. All the way back to the first moment he could remember.
It was cold. All around him lay the bodies of his fallen fellows, dead and useless. He tried to move but couldn't. Fear gripped him at the thought of dying this way, tortured and mangled by his oppressors until death. When all of a sudden a giant loomed over him, its hand reaching out to take him. Patty tried to escape, to move, but his bones were gone, they had been among the first things to be taken from him. The hand grabbed him, too hot to be comfortable but not so searing as he had expected.
It's okay,” a familiar voice said, “I've got you.”
Patty's vision cleared and he saw Mary holding him. She was so large, and he was so small, so insignificant. How was it that he had ever conquered the cosmos. A ridiculous thing. His possessed had all collapsed, all across the universe.
Are you okay?” Mary's voice was filled with concern.
Amazing...” Patty managed to make his vocabulator say even though it was so far from him, “My original plan was to destroy your race.”
I know,” Mary said, “but...you didn't, and that means something to me. I may not understand why you did everything you did, but I can't help but be amazed by what you accomplished.”
And that,” Patty said with increasing difficulty, “is why I changed my mind.”
His body, what was left of it, was beginning to dry out and flake apart. He couldn't feel his possessed anymore and, one by one, they began to move around him as though waking from a dream. Patty hoped they'd retain at least some of his memories, some of his knowledge. Perhaps they would, perhaps not. Either way, there was an entire universe out there for them to explore.
*     *     *
 I apologize this is a little late. My internet wasn't working this morning.
So here's the final installment of the Patty 'saga' (I use that term loosely). What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Melanie wasn't sure how to feel about what was happening in front of her. For the last half hour she'd been watching as Joan's friend, Matt, took measurements and made adjustments to the Heat Machine.
How long has Joan been in there?” Melanie asked for the third time.
She's just fine,” Matt said over his shoulder without making eye contact.
That's what you said last time,” Melanie said, “but that doesn't answer my question.”
Matt ignored her. “We're up to four hundred percent of our predicted output,” he told the older Asian man, Dr. Muto, at his side.
And how is the machine?” Dr. Muto asked.
Working like a dream,” Matt replied with a broad grin. “Heat flow's dissipating evenly throughout the structure and conversion to electricity is at ninety percent.”
So,” Dr. Muto said after he'd worked out some math on his notepad, “we can power America?”
Matt's grin widened even further. “That's correct,” he said and the two men clasped each other on the shoulders. “Now that we know it works, we can share it with the rest of the world.”
The smile on Dr. Muto's smile slipped but Melanie wasn't paying them enough attention any more to hear what he said. Instead, she walked to edge of the observation room and looked more closely at the safety glass. It looked new, much newer than the rest of the observation room.
Is this soundproof?” Melanie asked.
Both men stopped talking and looked toward Melanie.
It has to be,” Dr. Muto said.
Why? Melanie asked, “It didn't use to be.”
Her fire is too intense now,” Dr. Muto stated, though Matt looked uncomfortable with that response.
How much room does she have inside there?” Melanie asked.
Everything has been optimized for the Heat Machine,” Dr. Muto said and it was clear from his tone of voice that he was losing patience with Melanie.
You know Joan's claustrophobic, right?” Melanie asked.
Matt and Dr. Muto shared looks but neither of them spoke.
Seriously,” Melanie said, “You guys have been running this thing for weeks now and this is the first time you've let me in here to see her...and I haven't seen her yet. All I see is a big white dome behind soundproofed glass and a locked door.”
These are all for safety,” Dr. Muto said, waving to the security guard who had escorted Melanie in.
The guard stepped forward and opened the door, signaling the end to Melanie's visit.
No!” Melanie was outraged at what seemed to be a clear abuse of Joan and she pulled away from the guard as he made to grab her by the arm. “How could you?” She cried at the guard, “You've been here as long as Joan, you've seen what happens to her when she's all cooped up.”
Come on,” the guard said as he finally succeeded in grabbing her arm, and then added in an undertone, “I'll get you in.”
Melanie looked up at the guards face and he nodded toward the door. She wasn't sure if she should trust him but for a moment his stern face softened and his grip on her arm lightened.
Okay,” she said and the guard led her out of the observation room.
The door shut behind them and the guard immediately let go of Melanie's arm.
I'm sorry,” the guard said, “but ever since they came here we've had to be extra careful. Things get really bad really fast whenever anyone is found talking bad about how they're treating Joan.”
Together they walked down the corridor and Melanie recognized at once that the guard was not leading her toward the exit.
What do you mean?” Melanie asked.
Things in here are being run more like a prison state than a holding facility,” he looked around uncomfortably before continuing. “They've begun installing hidden cameras in some of the halls, but they're not showing up on our security screens.”
So, who's watching the new cameras?” Melanie asked.
That's the question, isn't it,” the guard replied.
Is that legal?”
Of course not,” the guard said, “but those who tried to bring this up with the judge have all quit now.”
That doesn't make sense,” Melanie said as they rounded another corner. “Why would they quit over a few cameras?”
Did they really quit?” the guard asked.
Melanie stopped walking and it took the guard a few steps to realize it.
Things in here are getting really serious and I know my time here is running out,” the guard said, “that's why we're doing this now before we lose the opportunity. The next hallway has some of the new cameras in it so we'll have to be quick. I don't know if they'll figure out what we're doing in time to stop us or even if my key card will still work.”
At that moment, several other guards came around the corner. All of them were armed and wearing riot gear and Melanie's heart jumped into her throat. They were caught.
It's okay,” Melanie's guard said, “They're with us and they're going to make sure you get out of here all right.”
Okay,” Melanie muttered but the serious looks in all of their faces made her wonder at how bad things had gotten.
What are you going to do?” Melanie asked.
We,” the guard said, stressing the word, “are going to let Joan's out for a walk.”
What?” Melanie was underwhelmed. With how serious everyone looked, Melanie thought they were going to break Joan out or something. “That's it?”
That's all any of us can hope for,” the guard said. “If we could we'd taker her away from here, but can you think of a way to keep her hidden?”
Melanie knew there was now way to hide Joan sufficiently. Her fire was too strong, too constant to hope to be able to hide Joan for any extended period of time.
Ready then?” the guard asked.
Melanie steadied herself and then nodded. As one, the guards moved forward with Melanie in the center of them. She hoped it was just to keep her hidden from the cameras and tried not to think of why else they would be shielding her. Before long they reached the end of the hall. Melanie didn't have a very good view of what they were doing with the door, but when she heard the beep and click of the lock, she knew they'd made it.
Wait one moment,” one of the guards said and a pair of guards went in ahead of the rest.
What are they doing?” Melanie asked.
Making sure no one sees you,” the lead guard said.
Muffled sounds of a scuffle echoed from inside the enclosure but none of it sounded very serious. As soon as it fell quiet once more, the group of guards around Melanie motioned for her to move inside. All but the first guard waited outside.
Why are you doing this?” Melanie asked as she was lead toward the dome of the Heat Machine. “Why me? Why now? You know you can't free Joan so why risk losing your jobs?”
He pointed to the side of the dome and Melanie noticed a rectangular slot with a hinged metal covering.
Creases around the guards eyes deepened and he pursed his lips. “That's the first in a series of slots that lead to the center of the dome that they can open and shut to pass food through,” he said with disgust, “so why let her out?”
Melanie put her hand to her mouth at the thought of Joan being confined inside of that thing for so long, alone.
They never let her out?” Melanie shot an angry glare to the observation room as it came into view and was surprised to see that there was a thick black screen covering the glass.
The guard shook his head. “We've checked with all the guards. No one's escorted Joan out of her dome for more than a week.”
But don't they know what happens to Joan when she's locked up?” Melanie's anger was rising. “And what about, you know, hygiene? What do they expect Joan to do?”
He shrugged as they finally reached the door to the dome. “Joan will probably be burning when we open this door,” he said, “that's why we brought you. Hopefully you can calm her down enough so we can bring her out.”
Melanie tried to put on a brave face but she couldn't help thinking about Tom and how easily Joan could do the same, or worse, to her.
*     *     *     
 I'd hoped to get this chapter to include Melanie and Joan's reunion, but it was already running long. You'll have to wait to see what happens.

Friday, January 18, 2013


There are times you can't
When nothing is possible
If you stand alone
Proffered helping hand
Brings everything into reach
Lifts you when you fall
When you find your strength
Help others along the path
Treasures to be found
*     *     *
   This week's haiku reflect on some recent events and the benefits of helping others. You never know when it will be your turn to need a hand up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


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
*     *     * 
Mankind stood on the brink. Patty held them immobile, staring down from the many heights he'd made them climb. A single command would make them jump as one, all around the world, and bring an end to their race. Patty's revenge would be fulfilled and his bovine kind would be free to roam...
Minutes ticked by and not a human flinched.
So much would be lost if mankind were eradicated. The fact that Patty was counting the minutes was evidence enough that he had become accustomed to the human brilliance. Cows didn't count time in minutes. They barely even thought of time. But to keep the humans meant the continued sacrifice of his own kind. Six ounces of beef per day per human was a high price to pay. His initial sacrifices were justified by the demands of war. Now that he commanded all of humanity, could he justify slaughtering millions of his own in order to keep the humans?
Of course, Patty could just let it all go. His connection to the humans and cows was a telepathic one that, if concentrated upon, he was confident he could sever. He would die and the world would go back to the way it was. Yet, could he do that, after all he'd done to get to this point, only to let it all go?
His billions of human eyes gazed downward from their many vantage points across the globe. Some from building tops, others from cliff faces. All of humanity welled up in Patty's mind with their struggle to survive, their will to overcome. The human eyes turned upward to the stars and a new idea came to Patty.
A compromise.
With Patty's expansive mind, he could sense each individual that he controlled. Little variation existed from cow to cow beyond basic temperament. But the humans varied greatly. Some minds were strong, some minds were weak. If Patty removed the weak minds he would have fewer humans to feed. With only the strong minds remaining, Patty could focus their genius on reaching new heights. Perhaps new worlds. Who knows, Patty might even be able to find a permanent way of possessing the humans.
Like pruning a tree, Patty began searching out the weaker minds. Unlike the humans, Patty knew a mind was not to be judged on what it specialized in. A brilliant laborer or farmer was just as valuable as a brilliant scientist. The weaker minds were the leeches: the ones who allowed others to make up for their weaknesses rather than working to become stronger themselves.
One by one, Patty took a step forward with each weak minded human. As soon as they were over the edge, Patty cut his connection to them. No need to experience their deaths. In a matter of moments, human kind became manageable and Patty set them to work. Some farmed, some built, and yet others planned for the future while Patty dreamed of the new horizons he was destined to explore.
*     *     *
 I apologize if this feels like too much exposition. The next (and possibly final) installment will have much more...action.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Tea Leaves sat slumped in his chair, unable to lift his mouth as the sludge that passed for food oozed out of the tube and onto the side of his face. Each breath rattled in his chest with effort and his heart palpitated at irregular intervals. To his side he could hear Judge Dervin slurping down his meal, gagging only a few times. They'd been getting better at keeping their food down, ignoring the fermented lumps of who-knows-what. Judge Dervin had even begun to get some of his strength back. Tea Leaves, on the other hand, was only getting sicker. He couldn't tell if it was something they'd put in his food or not, but every day, shortly after eating, he'd feel more of his strength leaving him. A pity, really, since he and Judge Dervin were almost beginning to get along.
You going to eat that?” Judge Dervin asked once his own food had stopped flowing.
Tea Leaves tried to laugh but all he could manage was a gurgle. He was so tired. All he seemed to do these days was sleep and yet when he awoke he felt just as weak and weary as before.
How are you doing?” Judge Dervin asked.
Tea Leaves shrugged. “It'll get worse before it gets better,” he said, his mouth tacky with drying saliva.
Will it get better?” Judge Dervin pressed.
Tea Leaves shifted his head to the side so he could look at Judge Dervin properly. Their relationship had always been an odd one. At times, Tea Leaves thought Judge Dervin was truly worried about him. At the moment, Judge Dervin's expression was unreadable.
It may if all I am is sick,” Tea Leaves said after some thought. “It may not if I'm poisoned.”
Concern flashed across Judge Dervin's face, but his eyes, looking to his own feeding tube, told Tea Leaves that Judge Dervin's concern was for himself.
Oh I doubt you have anything to worry about,” Tea Leaves droned, “They only put you here because it was convenient. I'm here for retribution.”
Why?” Judge Dervin asked. “What did you do?”
It was as though the many years had been stripped away and Tea Leaves could see his native England. His old home, old office, old haunts. “I was a professor,” Tea Leaves heard himself saying. “I loved teaching, seeing young and brilliant minds grow beneath my tutelage.” The faces of his favorite students rose to the surface of his memory and he smiled.
But I had a weakness,” Tea Leaves went on as the faces of another group of students overshadowed the others. All of them beautiful young women. So full of happiness and life. “I couldn't help it,” he wept, “and after each one I swore it would be the last...but it never was. There was always another beautiful woman, a lovely girl in my class who would be so nice, so innocent and trusting.”
You're disgusting,” Judge Dervin spat.
I know,” Tea Leaves agreed emphatically, “but I couldn't help myself. I couldn't. Such an urge, such an impulse...it was beyond reason, beyond madness.”
Tea Leaves needed Judge Dervin to understand this and pleaded silently within that he would.
And they never caught you,” Judge Dervin said with growing disgust.
Oh, but they did,” Tea Leaves shivered, “At least, Muto did.”
Dr. Muto?” Judge Dervin asked, “How?”
He had a daughter,” Tea Leaves stated.
Judge Dervin leaned back in his chair, a look of shock and horror on his face.
He already had his plans to change the world, and in exchange for my services he held his silence.” He sucked in a deep breath to continue and something inside pulled painfully tight. His heart quavered and his chest seized. A groan escaped his lips and his eyes bulged with terror. For weeks he'd known his days were numbered, but that number had been vague, ephemeral, as though it would never actually arrive. Muscles throughout his body tensed and jerked in their death throws.
Dervin,” Tea Leaves choked, “Dervin!” He pierced Judge Dervin with his gaze, willing him to listen to his final words. “I—I could never do it,” the taste of metal overwhelmed his senses for a moment and he curled in on himself. “I could never...” he groaned.
Judge Dervin pushed himself even further back in his chair, apparently repulsed by the sight of Tea Leaves' suffering.
Pain continued to crescendo until Tea Leaves thought he couldn't take any more. “Your daughter lives,” he said through clenched teeth.
Something popped inside of him and Tea Leaves fell limp.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Endless black I see
Pinpricks of starlight abound
Improbable wish
Worlds and wonders
I yearn to explore and touch
Yet I stand Earth-bound
Though someday perhaps
These bonds will break and I'll soar
For Terra Nova

*     *     *

   I've been pondering again on my lifelong ambition of being an astronaut and exploring the cosmos. I know I'll probably never get to in this life (due to my poor health and math skills, though my grasp of theory is amazing), but that doesn't keep me from dreaming. Or reading and learning about it. And might I suggest some good reading on the subject? TITAN UNVEILED by Ralph Lorenz and Jacqueline Mitton is an excellent read on the Cassini/Huygens probes that explored Saturn and this remarkable moon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


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
*     *     *
 Cows marched one after the other, silent and expressionless, into the slaughterhouse. Patty needed more beef if he was to win the war. Most of the world fell under his control without anyone noticing as Patty's beef spread throughout the world. Unfortunately, entire countries refused to eat much if any beef and Patty had to take those by force. And so Patty marched his forces onward. People made for better soldiers than the cows did, but that meant sacrificing more cows to feed to the humans in order to keep them under control. Even still, Patty's influence was so large now, losing these few cows were like a trimming of his tail.
This world will be mine, Patty thought to himself while he, as a human, slaughtered himself, as a cow, over and over. Each slaughtered cow was parsed into its different parts, packaged, and then shipped throughout his territory. Each human needed a burger a day to keep them under control. The excess patties were sent to the front lines where they would be disguised in veggie-burgers, cakes, chocolates, and just about anything else he could find that would mask the initial taste of meat. Once the unsuspecting person was under his control, he would take them to the nearest beef dispensary where they would eat a full patty. After that it was only a matter of time and patience to sneak beef into the person's friends and family.
Other countries were less than blind to what was going on. Every cow had been slaughtered in East Asia and left to rot. Patty had no choice but to send actual soldiers there in an effort to enforce his will on them. Even with the resistance he was receiving, Patty calculated that it would only take another couple of months before he had total control of the world.
And then...
Patty wasn't sure. His original plan was to kill the humans, but now with their minds as a part of his, the genius it unlocked was amazing. A world, a universe, far beyond and greater than the grassy fields his bovine minds were limited to. Could he let that go? The human need to discover, to create, their curiosity, were all so unexpected...and so wonderful. To a cow, the sky was just the sky. But to a human, the sky was another field to explore, with far greener grass and sweeter clover than anything else previously tasted.
The slaughter house fell silent and the sudden lack of activity distracted Patty from his reverie. Both the humans and the cows stood still, some of them caught in the middle of a motion, a step, a cut. Patty told them to resume. They obeyed and the slaughter house regained it's usual sounds. Patty frowned. This was not the first time such a thing had occurred. In fact, it seemed to be happening more frequently. The psychologists in him thought it might be his indecision about his actions whereas the neurologists in him theorized he might be reaching the maximum limit of minds that he could control. Patty wished he could get a second opinion but knew such a thing was not reasonable.
China attacked on the western front and Patty had to shift his attention.
Things had been quiet along the border for some time and Patty had been expecting the attack. Air strikes rained down on his ground troupes, a necessary sacrifice, while Patty swooped in with his own fighter jets. Patty was an expert pilot and each jet flew in perfect formation. He had no blind-spot, and the enemy jets were destroyed in moments. Once they were gone, the main assault pressed in and the Chinese front line broke. At the same time, Patty's Australian forces reached the shore along the South China Sea and began their march Westward. Every prisoner captured was force fed a huge amount of beef and then released with a backpack full of jerky. Each new captive was to go out and 'recruit' others to the cause.
*     *     *
Still working out where Patty will go exactly, but I think I've finally cracked the biggest problems I've been having with it.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Don't worry,” came a gentle voice.
It was calm and familiar and Joan pulled her fire inward in an attempt to see who it was. The loud rushing of the air vents subsided with her fire and after a moment the smoke cleared. Standing in the doorway of her cell was a young man dressed in street clothes and holding some kind of electronic device in one hand.
Hello Matt,” Joan said. She was getting better at recognizing faces.
Matt walked the rest of the way into the room and rested a steady hand on her arm. A moment later and began to lead her forward. Joan quavered with the effort to keep her fire from burning Matt.
I'm going to burn you,” Joan warned him.
Matt hesitated mid-step. “You don't burn your clothes, right?” he asked.
Yeah,” Joan said, “but they're just clothes.”
Then treat me like you do your clothes,” Matt stated and resumed his walk, leading Joan out through the door and into the long hallway that lead to the enclosure.
Joan wasn't sure about Matt's idea but she couldn't hold her fire back much longer. Inch by inch, her fire crept over her body, sprouting first from her free hand where it would be furthest from Matt. The air around her wavered in the heat, but as always, her clothes were unharmed. Her chest caught fire and she could see Matt's eyes glancing over to it. To his credit, Matt's hand on her arm did not tighten and he maintained a steady pace towards the enclosure.
I'm sorry they had to move you,” Matt said, still maintaining his calming tone even as Joan's fire started down her other arm. “I wanted you to be there, to be able to see our progress. I think you would have liked...”
Matt's voice trailed off into a whine as the heat from the fire began scorching his hand but he still didn't let go. There wasn't enough time for Matt to get to safety. Even if Matt ran full speed to the enclosure door he wouldn't make it in time. Tears sizzled on her cheeks as she accepted the fact that she was about to kill Matt.
Just think of me as a piece of clothing, Joan,” Matt's voice was beginning to lose its calm nature. “I'm just sock, just a shoe. Nothing big or complicated.”
Both Joan and Matt flinched as it made contact with his skin. Blisters had already formed on the part of his hand that were nearest the fire, but as the fire swelled up his own arm no new blisters appeared. Matt sighed in relief and Joan let her fire out the rest of the way. With a woof it burst outward and Matt jumped in surprise.
Sorry,” Joan said in response to his brief return to panic.
No, no, you're fine,” Matt said, a little breathless. “This is amazing.”
Matt stared unblinking through the fire and over his body. It had been a long time since Joan had seen beauty in her fire. In fact, the only time she could remember actually liking her fire was back when she worked in Mike's book store, meeting Tom. Tom loved her fire. In his most recent letter, Tom had admitted that it was her fire that first caught his attention and was the reason for their first conversation.
Mmmm,” Joan hummed, imagining that it was Tom's hand on her arm. She shut her eyes and laid her head against Matt's shoulder, again imagining it was Tom's.
Before long, Joan heard the heavy door slide shut behind them and she knew they had entered the enclosure. She sighed heavily and allowed her daydream of walking beside Tom to come to a close. Joan opened her eyes.
Wow,” she said.
They had told Joan what was going on, why they had moved her to the cell, but she never knew exactly what to expect. An enormous dome rose from the center of the enclosure. She had expected it to look more metallic but it didn't appear to be shiny enough. High above them, there the observation deck once was, they'd built what looked like a control room. Joan could see several people milling about through the control room's safety glass. On this side of the dome was a door. At the moment it was closed.
You'll need to stop burning for a moment,” Matt said.
It was difficult, but Joan managed it and Matt let go of her arm and moved to open the door. He took hold of the large wheel in the center of the door and turned it. Large bolts unlocked and the door began to open. At first Joan thought Matt was opening the door at an exaggerated slow pace but then she realized that the door was actually several feet thick and took a lot of effort to move.
That's quite the door,” Joan said as her anxiety began to rise. “Does it open from the inside too?” she asked.
I think so,” Matt said but he didn't sound very confident in his assumption.
The door finished opening and Joan stared into the darkness of the room beyond.
In you go,” Matt said, waving her forward, “Once the door's shut you can burn again.”
Joan didn't move. She could feel her face beginning to sweat and patches of fire flared up on her body.
Whoa,” Matt said taking a step back, “I said you can burn once the door's shut behind you. Any sooner and you might damage the machine.”
It's dark in there,” Joan groaned.
Your fire will brighten it up,” Matt said as he continued backing away toward the exit.
More fire spread over Joan but she held it tight to her body and finally began walking towards the doorway into the dome. Her first several steps were halting but as she reached the entrance into the dome she sped up.
Joan barely heard Matt as he called out behind her that he'd shut the door for her. Her fire was only sufficient to cast light a few feet around her. After a few more steps into the dome, the walls widened out a little. She assumed it was because she was passed the door and that she'd find the larger inner room soon. Joan was less than a few feet into the dome when her fire light illuminated the far wall.
Wait a minute,” Joan whispered with dawning terror.
The door boomed shut and she heard the locks grind into place and Joan threw herself against it, looking for a way to open it. The door was smooth on her side. Joan flared her fire, begging that she'd missed a turn or another door or something. Hoping that she was wrong. They knew better than this. Fire warped back in on itself as it reached the edges of the room revealing a dome shaped room less than six feet across.
Screams echoed loudly within the tiny room as Joan pounded on the door with her fists. Even though Joan could feel air moving into the room, her chest and throat were constricting and she began to hyperventilate.
PLEASE!” she shrieked, “Let me out of here, I can't breath!”
Bruises formed on her fists and yet she continued to strike the walls. She tried focusing her fire on the door, hoping to melt her way out, but the wall seemed to drink in her fire.
Of course,” Joan said as it dawned on her, “It was never about me,” and she slumped to the floor in defeat.
*     *     *
I'm trying not to have Joan as just crazy and more crazy, but I also don't want to make her too variable. I think I may have made her too sane in this one. What do you think?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Over the last few months I've been working on a documentary and it's finally done. Take a look and let me know what you think.

NuSol Capacity Fund: Selva Alegre, Peru