Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Short #2

Here's a clip from my new manuscript. Much love.

~500 words

Samuel leaned back in his lawn chair, wiggled his feet free from his sandals, and tugged at the loose grass with his toes. Children crawled all over the park. Most were prepared for soccer: shinguards, high socks, bright jerseys with numbers, and wails that warranted higher percent alcohol in his mojito. He took a sip and sighed and looked out over the field.

Carmin kicked him, “You’re glaring at the kids again, Samuel. You’ve got to stop doing that.”

He shrugged, “They’re not my kids.” Another sip.

“Some of them are your grandkids, Dad,” a voice behind them said.

Michael, the eldest son of Carmin and Samuel, dropped some bags beside them. Dark shadows splayed under his eyes and his hairline was receding; not by much, but if you knew him, you saw it dropping back like the ocean’s tide. Other than that, his physique was admirable. An erect posture he’d gained from the military made him look taller than he was and his presence commanded attention. He kept his muscles lean and veins rose out of his arms. The things he could control by himself were kept under control.

Of all his kids, Samuel loved Michael the most, and though he tried not to show it, the misbalance had become something of a family joke, much to Samuel’s chagrin.

“Glad you could drag your grumpy ass out here, Mom and Dad. Stella will love that you came out for her soccer game. Speak of the devil…”

Stella came shrieking, pushing through Michael and leaving her mother, Tamara, behind. She was a scrawny girl, much in the likeness of her father and grandfather. Samuel couldn’t help but love her, even as she wailed into his ear.

“You’re here! You’re here! I’m so happy you made it, Grandpa.”

Michael cleared his throat. “And, missy?”

Stella looked sheepishly at her father. She went to Carmin: “I love you, too, Grandma!” The moment suddenly awkward, Stella dropped all the soccer equipment she’d been carrying. “I’m going to go find Ashley, Dad!” She sprinted off.

“Wait Stella—” Michael said. His shoulders sagged momentarily. He brightened at the touch of Tamara’s hand on his shoulder.

“Just let her go,” she said. “She’ll be back in time to play the game. And she’s only ten. They’re supposed to run from stuff towards other stuff.” She smiled at Carmin and Samuel. “Nice to see you, Mom and Dad, glad you could make it.”

Samuel lifted his mojito towards them and grinned, “I’m just waiting for my favorite grandchild to kick some ass. I’ve been waiting a long time for her to start beating other kids at athletic sports. Even if you didn’t let her play when she was younger, I’m sure she’s going to beat the shit out of these kids.”

“Samuel,” Carmin said.
“Dad,” Michael said.

“What? A granddad deserves to be proud.” He took another sip. “When does it start?”  

-----to be continued-----

Friday, September 26, 2014

great ideas upcoming—wait I lost it...

How many ideas do you have in a day? If your heart is pumping, I'm betting on hundreds. If you've had a decent breakfast, maybe even thousands.

How many of those ideas are any good? Well... probably one or two. For a day, try to classify every idea you have. Is this a good idea?

Should I cross the street when a car is about to hit me? BAD

Does this yellow shirt look good with my saffron blazer? DON'T ANSWER THAT

Should I eat a burrito for lunch? GOOD

But what of the serious stuff, the kind that merits a call to someone:
"You will not believe the wonderful fart my brain just had and there will not be one dry eye at the end of this Wonka ride."

That's right, folks. Every once in a while, you have a great freaking idea.

And, where, pray tell, does that great freaking idea go? Probably down the great freaking idea gutter, which, unsurprisingly, is the same gutter used for shitty ideas.

Save your great freaking ideas. Buy them a nice home somewhere on a slip of paper, better a journal, even better ten journals, and crazier (Memento-style) yet, a tattoo. But get it down. Make some other piece of universe remember for you, so when you have the time, you can make it a real freaking great thing.

That's all folks. Now, excuse me while I bash my head trying to remember that great freaking short story idea I had earlier today.

-----the end-----

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Story #1

Ahh yes. And alas, I have at least one story under my belt for this month. I've got two manuscripts to work on now and I'm actually working on them! Diligently even! Of course there's no immediate reason for excitement. I revamped my design document for NaNo's 2013 story, and it looks like I'll need to rewrite about 70-85% of it. Then I'll need to add about 100% more. Sound good? Well, at least one of us is looking forward to it (-.-)

And for my newest manuscript, I'm definitely going to hold off on starting anything too crazy. I'll get a very nice outline going. Maybe write some clips of it (and post them here if I don't write any shorts...). Probably come up with one or five terrible endings! I can't wait.

Anyway, I'm sure you've been waiting for the short.

by Yours Truly
~800 words

Emily tugged at her earbuds and thumbed the volume on her phone higher. She could tell that the music was loud, that the sound waves were jostling for purchase in her ears, but the subway’s rails roared and overwhelmed her music. She sighed and yanked the earbuds out. Emily glanced at the rest of the riders.

They looked despondent and weary. It was the end of the workday after all. The last thing any of them wanted to admit was that they couldn’t relax to their personal music.

A businesswoman leaned with one hand gripping the overhead straps, the other holding a folded newspaper. Whenever the train screeched to a halt, she quickly shuffled to a new page. If she succeeded, a devilish grin multiplied the creases on her forehead. If she failed, she scowled all the way until the next stop, glaring at the pages as if they resisted change. Her frustration visibly agitated some riders around her.

A bicyclist glanced nervously at his road bike. Commuters crowded into the subway car and pushed up against his bike. He grimaced but said nothing. Slowly, he resigned to staring at the floor or his hands. Emily wanted him to look up, to look around, and find her staring at him. From deep in her gut, she just wanted eye contact. But it never happened. When the train came to a stop, he politely navigated his way to the exit.

A pack of teenagers giggled through the doors and stood, huddled, beside two fat men slouched in the handicap seats. The boys hooked their arms through the arm straps and flexed as well as they could without falling. The girls rolled their eyes and laughed at things on their phones. Eventually the boys did too. The fat men—hands perched atop their bellies like hopping sparrows—chuckled from time to time.

A woman sat next to Emily. She looked middle-aged but dressed younger. Her ring finger was bare. Emily turned and smiled as the woman faced her.

“Hi,” Emily said.

“Hello,” the woman said. She smiled as if it hurt her face and pride: a flash-cooked upturn of the lips and squeeze of the eyes. Hastily, she drew a pair of earbuds from her pocket and clicked through her phone.

“My father just died,” Emily blurted.

The woman’s hands froze but her face jerked up in surprise. Emotion filled her face. “I’m so, so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. Uhm…”

Emily had no idea why she had lied. It had come to her like a fit of déjà vu. Suddenly, she had just known that she had to say those words. She knew her father was quite well, breathing as of their phone call not ten minutes before she boarded the subway. The lie—for there was no other way to feel about it—settled into her mind. It became a reality.

“Oh god it was so sudden.” Emily felt her shoulders shake. What was that? It was a nice touch. The woman touched Emily’s elbow, but carefully, as if there was an amount of contact she could not exceed. This is cinema, Emily thought. She hoped that people were watching, eavesdropping, and taking videos.

“It was just ten minutes ago. I was just listening to music when my phone started ringing. I just answered my phone through my headphones. I didn’t even know who was calling me. It was my mom on the other line.” Emily’s eyes started watering, and she was amazed. She might audition for her school’s theater group.

“My mom’s voice was all cracked up like a joke, and she says to me, ‘Sweetie? Sweetie is that you? It’s mom. I… ah… I have terrible news, honey. It’s about your dad.’” Emily stopped to wipe at her eyes. She quickly rubbed them against her jeans. She had no time to deal with tears. They were distracting from the real show.

The woman was crying. Big gushing waves of tears surged down her high cheeks, and her makeup was smeared around her eyes. There were smudges on the back of her hands. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m a wreck, but I have no business feeling sorry for myself while you’re dealing with your father’s passing.”

Tranquility had seduced the subway car as every ear had tuned to the misfortune of two riders. Someone coughed loudly and Emily and the woman looked up. It was the businesswoman from earlier.
She raised an eyebrow at Emily.

“Oh, did I interrupt your little drama? Ma’am, I’ve been on this train for fifteen minutes with this young liar. She was never on the phone with anyone about any dead one. She’s a twisted little—” The train screeched. The businesswoman rolled up her paper, pinned it under an arm, and gave one last devilish grin.

-----the end-----

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August Story #2

Hah! So I've now squared my debts with August. Two stories in the bag. Rest assured, my dear reader, a great two many more short stories are in store for you. Whenever these past two stories become somewhat reasonable. I will give them their own pages in my great short story vault.


A Future
by Yours Truly
~855 words

“Who can tell me about the downfall of the nation model?” Mrs. Traveras’s boot heels clicked against the classroom linoleum. No one spoke. Someone–probably Daniel Ozaga–rolled a pencil against a desk, the steady drum pacing the silent students. Mrs. Traveras glared in the direction of the pencil and it ceased. Definitely Daniel. She nodded perfunctorily.
            David scratched right above his ear then toyed with his curly hair. He had no idea what Traveras was talking about. He’d been daydreaming about something, about what he couldn’t quite remember any more.
Traveras patrolled the aisles. “I will wait until someone speaks.”
David sighed and looked at Lindsay. Now he remembered his daydream. She glanced at him and shrugged, her face drawn up in mock confusion. He slapped his palm to his mouth and stifled a giggle. Traveras’s heels struck the floor. She stopped behind David.
“You have the answer for the class, David? I believe everyone else is ready to hear it.”
“I don’t know the answer, ma’am.”
“Give us your best guess.”
“I don’t know, ma’am.”
Traveras stepped in front of David’s desk and stared at him. “Mr. Ramirez, your father works for Gascon Interstellar. I believe you have a healthy understanding of how we have arrived at our current governance system. We’d all love to hear what you think.”
“Everyone knows the answer, ma’am.”
“Then enlighten us, David. I am interested in what you have to say. Your classmates will listen attentively.”
 David sucked in a breath. He scratched at his ear again and peeked at Lindsay. She was smiling at him. He breathed out calmly.
“The nation model didn’t work kind of like… kind of like the religion model before it, I think. Mostly, it created divisions among people. Religion failed because these divisions existed even when people lived close together. Nations failed because even on the same planet people couldn’t be unified, much less once interstellar life became a thing. A norm, right? The company model has been successful because all the interstellar companies have an incentive to keep turmoil to a minimum. It also helps that everyone is, in some way, paid by the companies.”
“And what created the opportunity for the companies to take over?” Traveras’s voice was quiet but every student was listening. The pencil rolled somewhere, but a vigilant student hushed it. Traveras flashed a smile.
“Mostly, national governments sucked,” David said. “Their ability to rule effectively was hampered by the ideological divisions among each other. Competition with each other adversely affected their constituents, whereas in the company era, each giga-manufacturer has minimized those fallout events. At least, that’s what I think.”
“Very good, David, maybe you have been paying attention in class.”
“But, Mrs. Traveras?”
“Yes, David?”
“There’s something I never really understood.”
“About what?”
“About the company era.
“And what is that?”
David paused. He enjoyed the moment when everyone looked at him.
“If the company era is so much more effective than the religion and nation eras, then, ma’am, why are people still so fucking unhappy?”
The classroom erupted. The students thumped their desks and jumped from their chairs. They hooted and hollered. Someone–probably Ozaga–was whistling. David hadn’t been planning on swearing, but it came out of him like an ocean swell.
“David Ramirez! Language!” Mrs. Traveras looked at her suddenly untamed class.
She went to the front of the class, picked up her favorite stick, and tapped out a steady rhythm on the drawing board. Slowly and one at a time, the students hushed. Ozaga–that boisterous, inciting fool–was the last one to calm. Traveras approached him, and he saw her. He knew the gravity of the situation, out of habit and the gravity of Traveras’ face, and steeled himself. He laid his palms upright on his desktop.
“Thank you, Mr. Ozaga.” Traveras whipped her stick down and it snapped against his palms. His knuckles made a hideous rapping against his desk. He whimpered and was silent.
 Traveras turned back to David.
“Don’t think that I’ve forgotten about you, Mr. Ramirez. So you think you know everything now, do you? Well, then let’s hear what you’ve got to say.” She hoisted her stick onto her shoulder and leaned it there, building energy.
“Well, ma’am–”
“Don’t ma’am me. Get to the point.”
“Er, okay. It just seems to me that we’re learning that the company era is best because the companies are in charge of the schools. Everything I said was just what we’re taught to say. But it’s not the truth. I don’t know if people know it. I’m not sure if my folks know it, or even you, Mrs. Traveras. We’re just being taught what we’re supposed to know. I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s always gone, even way back to the other eras.
“The company era isn’t a solution to any of the old problems. You might think so. The people on newsscreens might think so. I’m pretty sure every adult thinks so. But it’s all the same as before, I think. I don’t know what else to say. That’s just how our galaxy has turned out.”