Sunday, November 25, 2012

GREED-Part One

     Hello all. This is another story I wrote last year and it is vastly different than the innocence of Sublimity. I know some of you have already read GREED, but I added two more paragraphs to the end of the story that help tie it together better. Please let me know what you think! Part two next week.



            The room is dark. I can see only the yellow of it’s reptile-like eyes as it stares at me from the corner of the room. I am wearing only a pair of shorts, which is good because the room is stifling hot. “What do you want?” I yell. I can hear it breathe. It is a heavy, labored sound.
           “I think you know,” it answers in a gravelly voice. “I want what you started with.”
           I realize my hands are bound behind me and my ankles are tied to the legs of the hard wooden chair. I can barely move. It walks behind me so I can no longer see it’s outline. “I don't have anything left.” I try to remember how I got here.
            It grunts and I can feel it’s breath on the back of my neck. “You are trying to remember how it started. What brought us together.” It returns to it’s corner and I can see the slits of it’s eyes again. “Why you need me to finish this.”
            “I don’t need you,” I give in half-hearted response. I continue trying to process information. My wrists hurt and I can’t feel my hands because the circulation is cut off. “Who are you, and what do you want with me? What do I need to finish?” It seems both familiar and foreign to me.
            “You know the answers to both of those questions,” it appears to be enjoying the verbal parry. “My question of you is whether you are going to give me what you owe, or if you are going to make me take it from you?”
            Sweat rolls down my face and stings my eyes as I try to focus on it's details in the corner. In the shadows, I can barely make out it's charcoal-colored face, which is ridden with scars from numerous past encounters. “When have we met?” I ask in effort to identify it.
            “You have known me your whole life,” it explains as it takes a step toward me, eyes burrowing deep into mine. “I have taken many forms.”
            My shoulders burn from being bound, “Please loosen the rope around my wrists,” I ask.
            “In due time. I think first we should discuss an agreement.”
            “Agreement about what?” The pain is excruciating.
            “Payment,” it snorts. “I want what you started with.”
            “What did I start with?”
            “Quit with the diversions! You know what I want, what you owe! I am here to collect!” it bellows.
            It rushes at me. I can see reflection from the dagger in it’s hand. I turn my head in effort to avoid the blow. It makes contact on the right side of my face with its fist. “I don’t know what I started with.” I can feel it’s acrid breath on my face as it stares at me. “No matter how much you beat me, I won’t know what I started with.”
            It goes back to its corner. “This may take longer that I thought. I was with you at the beginning. Your wants were different then.”
            “At the beginning of what?” I taste blood at the corner of my mouth.
            “The debt cannot be paid if you do not understand.” It sounds agitated. “Perhaps I should loosen your bindings?”
            “That would help.” It rushes. Another fist to the right side. Blood flows freely from my nose. It mixes with sweat on my chest. “Stop!” I yell.
             It stares at me from inches away. I can see some of the definition of the deep gouges that traverse it’s face. “Are we finished with the games? Are you ready to discuss an agreement?”
            Perhaps a different tactic would give me a clue, “When was the beginning?” I spit blood. “What were my wants then?”
            It grunts. “The beginning was the beginning. Your wants were simple.” Once again, it retreats to it’s corner. “Do you understand now?”
            “Tell me more.”
            “You did not understand all the complexities at the beginning.” It’s voice softens. “You simply wanted life.”
            “At the beginning?” I believe I am starting to understand. “When I was a child?”
            “Yes.” It sounds relieved that it is finally getting through to me.
            “And then what happened? How are we connected?” I try to use a soothing voice despite the burning pain.
            “You started to realize there was more.” It sounds as if it is resolved to tell the story. “Life itself was no longer enough. I knew you then, and you knew me.”
            “How did I know you? Where did we meet?”
            “You and I are the same. We have known each other from the point where desire deviated from instinct.” It is playing with the dagger. I can see flashes of reflection as the blade catches what little light there is in the room.
            “Why don’t I remember you?” Maybe it looked different when I was younger.
            It snorts, “Of course I looked different then. So did you.” It sounds agitated again. “Do you understand now?”
            I thought for a moment, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. It is difficult to think beyond the pain. I am trying to recall what wants I had when I was a child. It rolls it's eyes. “I wanted life when I was a baby, right?”
            “Correct!” It stops fidgeting. “Then you progressed beyond only basic survival. You began to want things. I was with you at the beginning.”
            “My parents gave me things,” I tried to understand. More drops of blood to my chest.
            “Correct! But you were not satisfied.” It stares at me from the corner. “You always wanted more. People always want more. They want more for themselves and they want more from each other.”
            “Why are other people’s wants my concern?” I try to make the connection.
            “They are part of you. They are part of me.” It plays with the knife again. “We both have an interest in others’ desires. Maybe you need some time to figure it out.” It leaves the room through a doorway I had not noticed before.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sublimity-Part Three: The Finale

     Here is the the third and final installment for the Sublimity story. I thank you for reading it and I hope it was enjoyable. Please let me know your thoughts and, as always, do not be afraid of the the follow button; it is your friend.


           At last, there was the site. They pulled in and started unloading gear. The site selected was in the middle of a pine tree clearing. The site had two tables set up in a loose L-shape, split by a barbecue grill set on a pedestal. Fifty yards to their front, through a gap in the trees, they could see a small creek lazily meandering through the park.  They could faintly hear the soothing sound of running water. "This is a nice site Grandpa," Thomas gave him an approving smile.
            "I like it too Thomas." Grandpa was stacking the last few pieces of wood he brought for a fire later that evening. "Is there anything left in the car?"
            "Nope," Thomas called from the car. "That looks like all of it." They spent the rest of the morning organizing and getting ready for the rest of the family to arrive. They finished early, which left some time for the two to explore a little ways down the creek. Thomas was amazed by the clear water, allowing him to see salamander and small fish going about their business in the creek. Before long, the morning cool had burned off giving way to late-spring warmth and soon Thomas heard cars making their way up the short dirt road that accessed the site. 
            Thomas’ mom, Grandma, Ally, and Molly were in one car. The other held Aunt Alice, Uncle Sean, and Dad along with the rest of the food. Once all were reunited, the kids moved toward the creek to start exploring. “Stay in sight of the picnic area,” Thomas' mom yelled in a serious tone. Aunt Alice seconded the comment and with that, the brood slipped into their own kids' world.
            They walked up and down the creek. “Look at these!” Ally squealed, pointing to a group of salamander. She splashed in the water and they darted off in all directions to her amusement.
            “I know! There’s a bunch of stuff in here,” Thomas replied. “Grandpa and me looked around for a while before you all got here.” He jumped over the creek where it narrowed going into a slight corner. “Woo Hoo! Made it!”
            “Grandpa and I,” Ally corrected. She was two years older than Thomas was and did much better in school. She enjoyed showcasing her intellect on occasion.
            Ralph let out a snort and tried to jump the creek too, but at a wider point, and he did not make it. He shorted the landing by about eight inches and fell backwards with a splash. “Dang it! I missed!” He started giggling, which got everyone giggling.
Before it was all said and done, the four of them were wet over a good percentage of their bodies. It was cold at first, but they dried off quickly in the late spring warmth. By the time they were dry, they had already moved on to a new activity. They had paired up for war: Thomas and Ralph versus Ally and Molly. The boys' and the girls' squad each established a base in the tree cover on opposite sides of the picnic site. The boys were the first to attack. "I can see them between those two trees," Ralph pointed and whispered from a crouch position.
Thomas nodded and moved silently toward the girls’ position using trees as cover. "I will go in from the left and you go from the front to distract them."
"Okay." They were both low to the ground and whispering their plan. They maneuvered toward the girls’ position until they were about 50 meters away, then all hell broke loose. On signal, the boys separated and Ralph ran up the middle screaming like a banshee. Thomas kept a bit more quiet and came in from the side. He didn't let out his blood curdling scream until he was right on top of the girls' HQ.
"No fair!" Ally cried foul. "We weren't ready yet. You said we had half an hour to prep our base." She scowled at Thomas.
"It has been half an hour." Thomas wondered why girls always took so long to 'prepare' things.
"No it hasn't," Molly replied, entering the fray.
Ralph tried to keep the peace, "Okay, we’ll reset and look at our watches this time. It's 3:30 right now so the next attack can't start until 4:00."
The attacks went off according to the new schedule published by Ralph and they lasted until Grandpa rang the dinner bell at 6:00. The kids had eaten sandwiches with dirty hands while they were on the run at around noon, so they were famished. They agreed to a peace treaty so they could eat the hamburgers and hot dogs Grandpa had grilled. Thomas was so busy playing that he hadn't noticed the smell of the barbecue, but was acutely aware of it now, which got his mouth watering. They washed up, and sat down for a delicious picnic dinner.
After dinner, Grandpa built a fire and everyone pulled up a seat to bask in its warmth while digesting the big meal. All the kids were there too, full and tired from the day of nonstop play. Thomas sat and looked at every one's faces dancing in the glow of the fire. He contemplated how good it was to be out of school, and in the company of those who accepted him for who he was.
The gallons of soda worked their magic on Thomas and he got up to heed the call of nature. "I'll be right back," he told Mom and started toward the edge of the picnic site for some privacy. Thomas looked back at the fire from a cluster of pines and could hardly see the group. "This'll do," he said quietly to himself, and took care of business. When he finished, he looked up at the stars and pondered the view, which was much better than viewing the night sky from the city. That was when he saw it.
He watched as the object approached from the far horizon, moving silently toward him in the night sky. It was a large, maybe three or four football fields across, dark brown disc that was slowly rotating as it executed its trajectory toward Thomas. The craft was not overtly illuminated, but had an ambient glow around its edge as if it was lit up on its top, producing a soft ring of light around it’s circumference. The object was almost overhead and Thomas could not believe what he was seeing. It steadily continued on its flight path, which was a large arc that went directly overhead, never veering from course or altering speed. Thomas watched, amazed by its size and the lack of sound from the craft as it flew. He searched his vast eight-year old data bank to try and identify the craft but came up with nothing. The object did not scare him though, rather, he was curious as to what it was, and was taken aback by its beauty as it grew smaller and was eventually swallowed by the darkness of the night sky on the opposite horizon.
Thomas stood there for a few moments, gathering his thoughts, before he ran back to the group by the fire. "Did you see that?!" Thomas asked excitedly. No one by the fire looked very excited. "Did you see that thing?" he was quickly getting agitated.
"What thing tard?" Ally took the opportunity to attack.
Mom chimed in, "What are you talking about honey?"
"The giant thing that just flew overhead," Thomas was beginning to suspect they, in fact, had not seen it. "It was a big, brownish, flying...thing!"
Dad picked up the ball. "Calm down Thomas. Tell us what you saw," he used his 'you'd better relax' voice.
"A thing," Thomas was still keyed up. "It flew across the sky. It was big. None of you saw it?"
Thomas was known as somewhat of a joker and, to the rest of the family, this seemed like just the sort of story he could cook up as a gag. "None of us saw it tard," Ally continued the attack on her brother. "Because there was nothing to see." He and Ally got along most of the time, but each had their own mean streak, which reared its ugly head occasionally.
Thomas ignored her. "Ralph?" he pleaded, "You honestly didn't see it?"
"I don't know what you are talking about," Ralph was trying to stay out of the line of fire. "I thought you just went over there to pee."
"I did!" Thomas was yelling again. "The thing flew overhead after I was done. It went from there to there," he pointed and made a long arc with his arm. "Come on! I'll show you where I was standing!" He started walking back toward the trees but no one followed.
Mom tried to calm him down, "I'm sure you saw a plane or something," she patronized, "but I don't think anyone else saw it."
Thomas took a step back, trying to process. It had seemed like a big deal to him and he hadn't the foggiest idea how they could have missed it. Maybe the light from the fire drowned it out, after all, it wasn't very bright and it didn't make a sound. Maybe they were engrossed in their own conversations and just did not notice. It did happen though, of this Thomas was sure. He throttled back the emotion, "I did see something."
Ally was relentless, "Sure you did tard. We believe you." She pointed toward her head and made a circular motion with her finger.
"Shut up Ally!" Thomas knew he wasn't going to win this battle but he wasn't about to simply surrender.
"That's enough! Both of you!" Dad put his foot down. "I think you are both tired and it is time to start packing up." He got up to get things ready to go and the rest of the family followed suit.
Thomas brooded while he helped and eventually they were all ready to go home. He took another look skyward in hopes of seeing the craft again to prove his sanity. No such luck though, and he got in the car to head for Grandma and Grandpa's house. Another family picnic down, and this was one for the books, he thought during the drive. He knew what he had seen, he just could not prove it.
The experience faded into the background the following week as he started enjoying his summer freedom. He played with his sister and cousins until Uncle Sean’s family left. Back at home, Abraham was visiting his cousins for the week so Thomas was left to his own devices. On the next Saturday, one week after the sighting, Thomas was playing quietly in his room while reflecting on what he witnessed in the Santa Fe' Forest. Thomas thought that maybe he was the only one given that fantastic, sublime gift. None of his family members had seen the object and they were at the picnic. As such, no one from school could have seen it either, especially Ryan or Victor. He thought of what Grandpa had told him during their drive into the forest, which brought a smile to Thomas' face because the experience of sighting the extraordinary craft certainly made him unique and special too.     

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sublimity-Part Two

     Here is the second installment of Sublimity. When we left the brood last week, they were preparing for their trip and family picnic. Please let me know what you think.



     His dad got home about an hour later and the four of them piled into the car for the hour-long trip to Santa Fe'. Ally and Thomas played car bingo in the back seat for about half of the trip. Then they started getting restless and a few ‘are we almost theres?’ later, they arrived at Grandma's house. Uncle Sean, Aunt Alice, and their two kids, Ralph and Molly, were already there. They had come in from Las Cruces, which takes infinitely longer than the trip Thomas' family just taken. He had not seen his cousins since Thanksgiving last year because Uncle Sean’s family went to Aunt Alice parent’s house during the Christmas break. He missed them on that holiday, but they were here now and Thomas was glad to see them.
     “When did you guys get here?” Thomas asked Aunt Alice while they hugged.
“We got here at about noon,” she squeezed Thomas. “Uncle Sean did not have to work today and I started my vacation.”
“What about Ralph and Molly?” Thomas didn’t completely understand the concept that their schedules could be different. “Me and Ally had to go to school today.”
“They finished yesterday.” Aunt Alice wiped the smudged lipstick off Thomas’ cheek. “What are you going to do this summer?” she queried.
“I don’t know,” Thomas replied and he sincerely had not thought of the summer beyond tomorrow’s picnic. “I’m just excited for tomorrow.”
Hellos and pleasantries were exchanged with the rest of his family. Grandma asked if he wanted something to eat. Grandpa threw a pretend punch and acted hurt when Thomas fake-retaliated. Uncle Sean commented how much he had grown. Ralph and Molly said hi and then the kids separated into the usual boy’s section in the backyard and girl’s section in the den for both parties to catch up. Thomas and Ralph compared toys, talked about school, played war, smashed ant hills, and then it was time to eat. They resumed after dinner and soon it was bedtime. Thomas didn't complain, he was tired and knew he was getting up early to go scout out the site with Grandpa in the morning.
  It was early when he heard the whisper, "Time to get up. Let's go." Thomas did not need much coaxing from Grandpa to get out of bed. He got up and tried to wake up his cousin.
  "C'mon Ralph," Thomas was excited. It was here! The event!
     Ralph did not share the enthusiasm, "Go away!"
  Grandpa whispered, "Come on Thomas. It looks like it's just you and me." He turned toward the kitchen to fill his thermos with coffee. "Go get ready. We leave in half an hour."
Although Thomas wanted to spend time with Ralph, he was kind of thankful that just Grandpa and he were going out to scout out the picnic site. Spending time alone with Grandpa made him feel special, like he was important. “Okay. I’ll be ready,” he whispered so as not to wake Ralph. With that, Thomas shot past Grandpa for the bathroom to brush his teeth. One thing about Grandpa: if he said thirty minutes, he meant thirty minutes; he did not wait for anyone.
Before long, the two of them were in the car heading for the forest where the campground was. There was a day use area in the Santa Fe’ National Forest where they always held their family picnic. They rode with the windows down and the air grew cleaner and a bit cooler as they entered the lush blanket of pine trees. The sun felt good on his skin as it flashed between the trees and the scent of the fresh pines filled the car, which relaxed Thomas. He loved the big trees for two reasons. First, they provided shade from the hot desert sun in the afternoon so he and his cousins could play longer. Second, they rendered piƱon, or pine nuts, a southwestern delicacy. The family often came up to the same forest, right before the Balloon Fiesta started, to harvest the succulent nuts, which they took home, roasted, and ate as a snack. The year’s bounty rarely made it past the Thanksgiving school break.
  "How was the second grade?" Grandpa asked.
  "I'm just thankful that it is over," Thomas replied.
     "That bad huh? What made it so terrible?" Grandpa continued his line of questioning.
      "My teacher thought I was a troublemaker," Thomas confessed. "And there were two other boys that just got on my nerves all the time." He explained how Ryan and Victor dominated the class and that he felt incompetent next to the two, which lasted the whole school year.
      "Why are you comparing yourself to others?" Grandpa asked. "You are not Ryan or Victor or any other boy. You are Thomas and you only have to compete with yourself to be the best you you can be."
      Thomas did not quite grasp the concept of competing with one's self. "How do you mean?"
      "You have your own qualities Thomas," Grandpa explained. "And you have your own experiences. These qualities and experiences are what make us individuals. You only have to make sure that you keep your mind open and take advantage of opportunities to improve yourself."
      Thomas thought this sounded like good advice, but was still glad the second grade was over. Maybe he could make use of this advice to prepare for the third grade, which had to be considerably more demanding than the one he just finished. Thomas filed the conversation away for future use as they drove deeper into the forest.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sublimity-Part One

I apologize for the expanse of time that has passed since my last post. I did end up successfully completing Script Frenzy last April with my 100-page (on the dot) screenplay Echoes of Enchantment. Success came on the last day of the event through a grueling 25-page grind that lasted about six hours.

I thought I would change things up with a bit of fiction that I wrote last year. This is a short story I wrote as a primer before starting the novel. Please let me know what you think.




  Had the clock actually stopped ticking? "I think it has," Thomas thought. It read 1:30, which is what it had said for at least an hour and a half. The class was watching Charlotte's Web and munching on popcorn with soda chasers, courtesy of several volunteer moms. Thomas didn't know why he had to come to school at all today because this was almost fun, and fun was not something he associated with school. It was the last day of second grade and he was ready to get started with summer. He was glad school was letting out because he didn't care for school, and this year in particular, because some of the things learned that were not part of the lessons. He didn't care much for his teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, either because she had labeled him as somewhat of a discipline problem for often failing to finish all of his work. The lessons were so boring and there was so much more to focus attention on or do in the classroom.
  Charlotte was spinning her web, touting Wilber's unique and special qualities, but Thomas didn't notice because he was reflecting on second grade. There was picture day when a kid, a fifth-grader he thought, pushed him down and, consequently, he was photographically immortalized with mussed hair and a cut lip. He thought of two classmates, Ryan Jones and Victor Flores, and how they seemed to always do the right things. They finished their schoolwork before anyone else and they got good grades. Thomas recalled the instance when Mrs. Abernathy allowed the two of them more time with the science experiment kits than she gave anyone else in the class. "We just have a little bit more to do," Ryan pleaded to Mrs. Abernathy. She allowed them the extra time. Thomas remembered that he thought the kits were fun, but lost interest quickly when he wasn’t allowed the extra time needed to do his experiments. All the helper moms always seemed to dote over those two as well, like right now one of the moms was bringing them more popcorn and soda. Thomas didn't necessarly hate the two of them, but he wouldn't feel bad if they both threw up, preferably on each other, on their way home from school today. The thought of this made Thomas smile.
  Two o'clock. The big-hand finally made its agonizingly slow uphill climb to the top of the clock. One more hour. The gears in Thomas' mind shifted out of reverse and into forward as he envisioned the upcoming annual family picnic. Thoughts of Ryan and Victor melted into images of the forest as he pondered the event that signalled the official start of summer for Thomas. He looked forward to washing second grade off of his skin and enjoying the freedom summer brings. This year was different from past years because of the inequities he observed and registered for the first time in his short life, which made Thomas feel comparatively inadequate to his contemporaries somehow.
Buzzzzz…..the bell that buzzed, instead of ringing like bells are supposed to, which always made Thomas wonder why they called it a bell, buzzed, signifying the end of second grade and he start of summer. “Have a superfantastic summer!” Mrs. Abernathy said to the class as they gathered any items from their desks that had not been taken home already. She always used weird words like that. “Don’t forget to place your chairs on top of your desks,” she yelled above the din. However, Thomas heard it in the background because he was already out of the room and into summer’s freedom.
He waited impatiently for Abraham Zephyr, Thomas’ one and only friend. “Hurry up,” Thomas called to Abraham. The two had similar interests like cars, bikes, and pretty much anything with wheels. Abraham was more outgoing than Thomas, so he had other friends with whom he spent time. Not to mention numerous cousins who lived in town that he visited on many weekends. Frequently, the Monday morning walk-to-school conversations were consumed with the latest exploits of the Zephyr clan, which made Thomas a bit jealous because he likely had spent the weekend alone and didn’t have much activity to report to Abraham.
  "Wilber is a pretty talented pig," Abraham said as they walked toward his house. "He's lucky he had Charlotte to do his advertising." He chuckled at his own wit.
  "I wasn't really paying attention," Thomas confessed. "I'm just glad school is out for the summer. I'm ready to start having some fun." Thomas thought of the upcoming picnic, "I get to see my cousins pretty soon at our picnic." He liked when he was able to tell Abraham about visiting his cousins, because then Abraham was forced to find something else to do.
  "When is your picnic?" Abraham probed. He didn't let Thomas answer. "I'm going to my gramma’s this weekend to get some more rabbits. Two of my cages are still empty." Abraham and his dad had built rabbit condominiums in their backyard with eight cages that could hold two rabbits per cage. Thomas didn't know what fascinated Abraham about the rabbits because they didn't do much, they had to be fed, and their crap needed cleaning up. None of which interested Thomas because they sounded like chores, which he despised.
  "I'm not sure when the picnic is," Thomas admitted, "it's always at the beginning of summer. We go to my grandma's house and meet up with my cousins there for like a weekend or something." Abraham did not seem that interested since they had reached his house.
  Abraham walked toward the door and called over his shoulder, "Later dude. Give me a holler."
  "See ya," Thomas replied with a wave and he hurried home to let the second grade melt away in the southwest spring heat.
  Thomas' mom met him at the door, “I have a surprise for you! I spoke with your uncle this morning and he told me this weekend is better for him and his family to have the picnic. We're leaving tonight!" She sounded as excited as she had just made him. Thomas' mom knew it had been a tough year for him even though he didn't say anything. Moms just have a way of knowing. She was excited for Thomas because she knew how much he looked forward to this event every year and what it meant to him. "Get in there and pack your bag," she motioned toward his room.
  Thomas had priorities. He started with toys: Which ones had his cousins seen before? Which ones would they like best? Which would be the best to use in the forest where they picnic? Half an hour later, he hadn't gotten very far when his mom came to check on him. "What are you doing?" she asked while surveying the piles of toys. Thomas had divided his toys depending on priority of importance. "Do you think you should pack some clothes?"
  Thomas confessed that it had not crossed his mind, but agreed that it was probably a good idea. "Will you help me?" he asked, which was really kid-code for 'will you do it for me?'
  Mom knew this and she had already started setting clothes on his bed according to type. "We'll be staying until Tuesday and you will probably need extra because you don't stay very clean when you're with your cousins," she was half talking to Thomas but mostly verbalizing a list for herself. Ten minutes later, his clothes were packed and his bag was by the front door next to Alyssa's, or Ally, his sister. "Pick the toys you are taking and you are NOT taking all of them," she warned, "You need to be done in about twenty minutes so you can get cleaned up for the trip."