Tuesday, January 31, 2012

hmmmm

I did my chapter, sent it to the publisher and he dropped the ball...LOL...sent it to the wrong email address is what I did! (yeah, that means now I have to post something here.
Looks like the media got it's wish, in a way. But Newt says he's not quitting, yet. It sure gets tiresome to have an obviously left wing, in the tank for democrats, media picking the republican nominee.
The CBO has a pretty chart up, showing what is not news. Federal workers make more money than private sector workers.
Writing from a teenagers point of view...

Oh, and go to facebook and 'like' this photo: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=367651119927372&set=a.364277303598087.104915.123066604385826&type=3&theater


Monday, January 30, 2012

Link Dump

I am going to get another chapter done tonight, I promise you, all three of you. But to try to keep up with the one post per day, I need to just hit some news aggregators and hit y'all up with some links. I will add some commentary of course.
"Amid attacks on his prior support of limited school vouchers, state Sen. Andy Dinniman told the Chester County Democratic Committee at its endorsement convention that he no longer supports any vouchers." Darn it Andy, I wanted to work on your campaign...now, not so much. Why do you hate poor people?
Joe Paterno's family says they'll be selling copies of the coach's memorial service and donating the proceeds to charity. Charity or not, that is a class-less move. We all know that the 'proceeds' will be 'less administration costs'. Disgusting.
This one is funny...his campaign has been touting the 22 million job lie, and he almost fell for it himself!
Ummm, it was a movie based on a book folks...it is interesting to learn that King hated The Shining. I loved it, actually thought it was one of the better adaptations...but I didn't write it, I only read it.
Because sometimes the truth is important: http://wattsupwiththat.com/
If one ignores the misuse of a word in the first answer, the rest of the interview is very good!
There, if you click on a few of those links you will have killed ten minutes or so of your life...the only real worthwhile click is to Whatisthenever.blogspot.com



Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2012/01/30/3072003/paterno-family-plans-to-sell-dvds.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just in Case

Today is going to be funky again, school and whatnot, church, maybe a bike ride and hopefully sleep in there somewhere.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Broke the habit

missed two days in a row, but I have good excuses. Yesterday at the Techo-bloc  contractor showcase for free stuff and to learn stuff. Called away to take a son to the doctor, just a minor concussion...then home for nap then work.
Thursday...no excuse.
Today, very little sleep, union rally, need a nap. I will try to work on Sentinel and school later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aqua PA union Rally in Bryn Mawr

Pictures and video from an SEIU 32BJ Union Rally in Bryn Mawr. Aqua employees are trying to avoid a strike by showing the company that they are united and strong. There will also be a march on Saturday at 11 am.




video




Writing and reasons

I hated when my English teachers and professors told me what to think about a story. Usually, it's just an elderly gentleman who caught a really big fish. I can not imagine that Hemingway set out with some incredible social commentary in mind when penned that story, but many well-read supposedly knowledgeable people will tell you that the story is incredibly deep, with meanings inside of meanings, and that Hemingway did it on purpose.
I call Bullsh*&.
I wrote a short story for a writing contest back in December called Alien Life; it wasn't very good, came in fifth out of three entries, and most likely should not have been written (here is where you, dear reader, hit the comment button and tell me how wonderful I am). I started the story as a simple explanation for a bell shaped spot on a counter at work. It was an odd thing and it stayed there for weeks. Odd.
Then, I thought I could try to document paranoia, the disintegration of a mind. So that is what I did, under the guise of being taken over by an alien (I did touch the spot, by the way).
Then, the story was done, edited, re-edited, and submitted. It should have been edited again, removing about 750 words. (Again, comment button, tell me, tell me) Then I printed it and let is sit for a week or three, picking it up again and reading it. Oops. I realized that the story, while not a very good description of paranoia, was a blatant parable about how depression/suicide destroys everything around the one who takes his/her own life.
I did not set out to do that, I set out to write a story about an alien. Stories take the author, not the other way around, and, to be honest, when a project has to be pushed (such as trying to get a group of people out of a cabin), maybe it is time to end the project. Then again, going backwards, if the characters let you, works as well. That sticking point could be the story telling you that this is a good stopping point, now figure out more about how the characters ended up in the cabin.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A political gripe

I am not going to link to the thousands of articles about Mitt Romney's tax returns and the silly 'effective' tax rate. I am just going to rant a little. By inventing this 'effective' rate, democrats can pretend that Mitt does not pay his fair share of taxes, or, that he hides his money somewhere so that his real rate is lower.
It is a disgusting play, absolutely disgusting, and I don't like Mitt (see, I use his first name). The Romney's gave 16% of their income to charity, I wonder how many of the journalists who are crowing about the invented rate gave that much of their income to charity. No I don't, I know the number, none of them, not one. By virtue of the tax code, charitable donations are deductible, therefore his tax rate was exactly what it should have been, but the stinkin' lousy losers that pretend to be journalists don't report that. They take the amount of taxes he paid and divide that number by his total income.
Is that how we all do taxes? Really? You out there, do you take deductions before your figure your tax? Do you have dependents? Do you take the standard deduction or do you itemize? If so, your 'effective' tax rate is much lower than what the effing democrats say you pay, and if you make less than about $35,000 your freaking 'effective' rate is freaking 0, yeah, 0.
Why do people not take the time to learn this stuff? Why is this number going to be repeated for the next month, like it means anything?
I am going to ask anyone who uses on me if they paid taxes on their gross income or if they deducted anything.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Searcher and the Sentinel (7/8)


This is another chapter/part/installment of a collaboration with the soon-to-be-renowned author J.R. Wagner . His parts, found below mine can also be found at the link. More on his forthcoming book Exiled, book one of The Never Chronicles, can be found here. My parts are going to be mostly raw and unedited, unless I find a little extra time. Enjoy:


8
The Sentinel
As we wound our way through the maze that was the second circle I marveled at the changes only a few years had wrought. The burned out husks of automobiles, so prevalent in the third circle, my circle, had been carefully placed to provide many defensive positions. Though the autos looked much like those in the third circle, and much like the ones that were said to have carried people along these streets, these were heavily reinforced. It would take many direct hits from the weapons found in the Districts to either punch through or move one of them.
Manny was leading the way, this was his circle, he knew the best routes and all of the passwords; and I would have been killed on sight had I not been with Manny, just like both Manny and I would be killed in the first circle had we not cajoled Davis into providing us with a legitimate pass. Third levels, like me, never go back, and second levels, well, normal second levels, only were allowed one trip back every year, if they lived that long and if they didn’t move out to the third level. Manny was an exception. He was the only person to have ever completed his time at third level, an accomplishment that was rewarded with a choice of stations and the ability to request permission to travel between levels. This, of course, did not mean that permission would be granted, but Manny so rarely asked, he was usually given the pass. Adding me to the request made it more difficult for Davis to sell to her superiors, but when she explained that the tools needed to teach the Searcher were in the first circle, and the only one who could retrieve them was Manny, and that Manny wasn’t going without his new bestest friend Grant (being the Searcher and all), her superiors relented.
“Hold up, Manny,” I called, he had increased his pace down the middle of a wide avenue flanked by beautifully crafted homes; I had been admiring the marble and stone facades and had slowed.
Manny stopped in the middle of the street, clearly exasperated with my pace and shouted for me to hurry up.
“But these places are incredible,” I called back, “Can’t we do a little exploring? I never saw this street when I worked the second circle.”
“There’s a reason for that, Grant,” Manny called, now beginning to look around warily, “See and autos here? And sentinels?”
It only took a second for me to catch on to what he was saying. This was a bewitched street, a fake, a creation of the hags and warlocks. There were probably rooms in those buildings with great big picture windows that showed lush green pastures, bright yellow sunlight, or the sparkling blue of an ocean. More illusions, none of it real. I quickened my pace.
Cathcing up to Manny I asked if many had been lost.
“Only six or seven,” he said as he turned and began to walk again, “and those are the ones who we know about, because they came back.”
We walked in silence for a while, each of us pondering the meaning of that statement. Coming back from captivity with the witches, with the warlocks, was not desired, not at all. It was better if they never came back, their disappearances blamed on one of the many other horrors that roamed the streets at night, horrors from below and above, that we could never really exterminate, nor did we want to, they kept both sides from the Districts at bay; it was worth the cost of a few lives per week.
“Are they still…” I started to ask.
“Only one left now,” Manny said, “he lives alone down where the river splits the second and third circle, no one goes near, but they say he sings at night.”
“Sings?” I asked.
“Yes,” Manny replied, “And they say he’s pretty good.”
“You’ve never gone to listen?” I asked.
Manny was quiet for a long time, long enough to walk the last block before the 30 foot high concrete wall blocked further movement in an easterly direction. We turned left and headed north.
“He was my bunk-mate,” Manny said at last.
I rued asking the question, but didn’t have time to apologize for dredging up old memories, we had arrived at the steel door that marked one of only three ground level access points to the first circle.

7
The Searcher
I opened my eyes fully expecting to wake in my bunk having never left for downtown.  Having never fallen through that hole.  Having never stepped on the body of that dead girl -the trauma of that experience would be too much to cope with.

A green blur -bright green, green that doesn't exist in the districts or downtown or anywhere that I've ever heard, filled my field of vision.  I blinked and the green came into the focus.  Green fields.  Expansive, rolling, a rock jutting out here and there until the green met with the blue waters beyond.  

Not a dream.  Any of it.  The girl. My God, the girl.  I stepped on her. I stepped in her.  She was so young. I've seen my fair share of death in my time.  I've never dealt any, contrary to what others believe.  I've always been one step removed from the death -a spectator. Never intimate with it.  I have an aversion to it. Most people will say that but when someone close to them is dying, they don't walk away. They don't hide.  I do.  In this world my fear is irrational at best and inexcusable at worst.  Death is everywhere. Somehow, I manage to avoid it. She, whoever she is, will haunt me for the rest of my days.

I was in a comfortable wooden chair with a cushioned seat.  I turned my head. I could move.  I was close to the large viewing window -right up against it almost. I looked down at my legs, which were bare.  Also, surprisingly, they were clean and free of the fine blonde hair that typically covered them.  I wiggled my toes.  They were neatly trimmed and...pink.  Bright pink, of all colors.  I'd never seen painted toes before and found myself chuckling at the sight of them.

"Something funny, dear?" a woman's voice said.

I turned, it was the same woman from before. Beautiful dark hair -almost down to her hips.  Dark skin -not the darkest I've seen still much darker than mine -much more beautiful.  Dark skin is a desirable feature in the districts. This woman, despite her impossibly old age, would be very desirable.  She was holding something -a cup of steaming liquid.  She sipped on it gingerly as she moved closer.  Her movement was so smooth, so effortless, I wondered if she had feet beneath her floor-length dress.

"My toes," I replied.   "They're painted.  I've never seen painted toes before."

"I suppose then you haven't noticed your fingers," she replied in her unique yet whimsical accent.

I lifted my hand in front of my face.  Sure enough, the nails were neatly trimmed and painted a matching shade of pink.  I laughed again.  The woman smiled and closed her eyes as if the sound of my laughter was a most magical song.  I finally noticed my clothes.  I was wearing shorts and a matching top made from the softest fabric I'd ever felt.  Both were white with thin stripes of pink that exactly matched my nail color.  My arms were bruiseless, hairless and dirtless just like my legs.

"You were quite a mess when they brought you in here, Searcher, but I had plenty of time to get you fixed up," the woman said.

"How much time?" I asked. "How long have I been here?"

A concerned expression crossed the woman's face.  It left as quickly as it came.  She set her steaming drink on the wooden table and extended both hands toward me.  I looked at them, then looked at her.  She smiled.

"Take my hands, child and I will help you up and show you what you want to know."

I haven't accepted help from another person -not even a woman, in longer than I can remember.  I wasn't about to let things change simply because I was dead.  As I reached down for the armrests on my chair, I could feel her inside my head again.  It wasn't painful or invasive but it was clear she was trying to change my mind. I suddenly knew this would be the first time I'd stood since I'd gotten here.  I would most likely be unstable and there was a good chance, I would fall head-first through the glass viewing window, which, despite being dead, didn't sound like a good idea.

Reluctantly, I took her hands.  They were warm and smooth -so smooth. The wooden floor was warm as well.  As I shifted my weight over my feet, my knees began to object and sway in strange directions. I'd never had trouble holding up my own body weight.  This was crazy.  The woman slid her arm beneath mine and wrapped it around my back.  I could sense her strength even with the gentleness of her touch.  Her touch felt...well good. Amazing, actually.  It's been so long since I'd been in the embrace of another woman.  My apprehension drained from my body.

I took a few steps (it was obvious she was supporting a considerable amount of my weight as I did so) then she turned me toward the back wall of the room.  Standing in front of us was a woman who must have been the twin of the woman helping me stand.  She was helping a girl stand as well.  The girl was strange looking.  We both wore the same outfit, both had painted toes and fingers and even had the same skin tone yet there was something different about this girl.  Her face. She was very unlike the girls of the district.  Her hair was longer than any district girl -it came down to just above her shoulders.  It was not quite blonde and not quite brown -like the color of the leather we dried out in the summer sun during the hot months.  Her eyes were big and bright.  Her lips were full-too full and her teeth were white -too white.

As I studied this girl, she studied me -almost mimicking my behavior.  At first I didn't mind her looking at me but eventually, I could tell she was mocking me -trying to do exactly as I did.  I leaned in, she leaned in.  I put my free hand on my hip, she put her free hand on her hip.  I put my hand on my head, she... Then it struck me.  I could feel the hair on my head.  It was long.  Longer than it  has ever been.  It felt so smooth and soft.  I ran my fingers through it, she ran her fingers through it. That girl was me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Time and stuff

There are many reasons for my lack of writing some days and other days, no reasons at all. Today was a day of both. Here it is 9pm and I should be headed to bed but I am typing on the blog, right into the new post window instead of reading chapter 7 of the Searcher and keeping it in the back of my mind while I solidify chapter 8 of the Sentinel side.
Watching a football game I really don't care about out of the corner of my eye (really over the top of the lap top) because I am in one of those moods not to go to bed but not to be creative either.
Books are at work, reading the first Dirk Pitt offering from Clive Cussler and then a book about dogs and then...all while trying to concentrate a few hours a day on an MBA class, work and...sheesh, too much whining.
Time to just vegitate...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Our Town Review

Spent the last two evenings thoroughly enjoying the Downingtown West High School performance of Our Town.
The cast was awesome and they did a wonderful job. If I was good I would be able to capture a picture from the video I took of the end (I got the whole thing!). Then I realized too that I don't have permission from the whole cast, only the lead whom I know very well.
So maybe I get it out there, maybe not, if I can find a you tube clip, I will link that later.
Our Town is a nice look at life, not just in small town USA, but for all of us. Stop, slow down, look at each other, live!
Now, go live, please, don't be one of those who do not understand.
(edit, Sunday, January 22)
Not much of a review up there, is it? I was tired, it had been a very long day.
The main character, Stage Manager, did a fine job setting scenes and tones. He projected well, and one could see the hard work paying off.
Emily was incredible;  her shining moment (for me) was the building of the smile in Act II, when George professes his love, perfectly done.
George was also very well played, the confusion of adolescence obvious...and the parents too, these kids did such a great job, it was easy to suspend the knowledge of who they really were and to see them as the characters they were playing.

I think this is a play for young adults to perform in. The parents are such caricatures of parents, at least to us today, that they can be played very well by those who are not parents, but may be, someday. The younger parts are perfect for those who have left the budding youth stage and have entered the awkward 'falling in love for real this time' stage, and that was so evident by the body language of Emily and George. This play is about living life, and kids tend to do so, and not do so, all at the same time! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rumi again

Back to The Big Red Book translated by Coleman Barks. Great poetry, written in the 13th century, but not by an Italian poet, sorry Bob.
Page 89, The Day I Die is the poem. Simple, as most of Rumi's work, and plain. Many of the poems in this book are very easy to read, easy to internalize, and this one is no exception.
"On the day I die,
when I am being carried to the grave,
Don't weep.

Don't say, He's gone. He's gone,
death has nothing to do with going away."

I love it. Not only did Robert hunter borrow language from this poem for the song "He's gone" but he also used imagery regarding death not really having to do with going but with the arriving elsewhere, such as "where the wind don't blow so strange".

Rumi says "Your mouth closes here/and immediately opens/ with a shout of joy there
and Hunter says "nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile."

Dead Heads will argue with me forever, but Hunter and Garcia were very in tune with the Bible and with other religious and mystical writings. So much of Hunter's lyrics are based on, if not a belief in, a strong respect for God.

At least Rumi and his fans don't try to hide it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bonus Post

John Bolaris was fire from Fox, for conduct unbecoming I guess. These antics were a shock? Really?
So I saw the headline to this article

Purple Substance In Allegheny River Harmless, Officials Say and I have to admit I chuckled because I knew exactly where the article was headed. No, I don't work out there in Pittsburgh but I do know that one does not dump even a little Potassium Permanganate into a sewer, or, into a stream the public might see. This is some seriously purple stuff:

 and we hesitate to use it to treat water, although sometimes it is the only thing that will oxidize out the geosmin. I know, too technical. Geosmin is not harmful, but it smells like a wet paper bag, or a musty basement, so people complain if it gets into the drinking water. And, funny enough, only a few people complain because only certain people can smell it. I happen to be one of those people, lucky me. It takes too much Chlorine and Carbon to neutralize the geosmin so if we have a nasty outbreak (this is cause by algae), we add Permanganate. This results in an additional set of tests every hour to ensure we don't turn the drinking water purple! It does not take much.
Okay, that's my blog for the day...

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Searcher and the Sentinel


This is another chapter/part/installment of a collaboration with the soon-to-be-renowned author J.R. Wagner . His parts, found below mine (can also be found at the link. More on his forthcoming book Exiled, book one of The Never Chronicles, can be found here. My parts are going to be mostly raw and unedited, unless I find a little extra time. Enjoy:



6
The Sentinel
I was massaging my wrists where the ropes had been, waiting on the offered measure of Dragon Necter, when the dog trotted through the door.
Manny and I greeted the dog by name and I reached down to scratch him between his ears when he sauntered over to sniff my pant leg, almost losing my hand in the process. Wow, for a mild mannered looking Springer Spaniel, Buddy sure was testy.
“Watch it, Grant,” the dog snapped, “you’d do well to remember your place around here.”
“Umm, Buddy…” Manny started.
“Save it, Manny,” the dog said as he turned three times on the carpet in front of Manny’s desk, “I’ve heard all about the prophecy, and I aint buying it.”
“But,” was all many was able to get out  before Buddy snarled at him.
“Fine, Buddy,”, Manny said, “but Davis is gonna be pissed if you don’t at least act like you believe in this stuff.”
“After the couple of days I just had, I don’t really care,” The dog said, resting his snout on his paws, then lifting his head to say, “Some races out there you just can’t reach.”
The dog returned his head to his paws and shut his eyes, signaling the conversation was over, at least his part of it. I knew, though, he would be listening to everything Manny and I said, ready to correct us at any moment. I have always wondered why that scientist gave dogs the ability to speak to humans. Sure, it was only through their minds, but during the conversation it sure seemed like the dog was speaking out loud, heck, different dogs had different voices, or was that in my head too?
“My head hurts Manny, pour another measure of that Nectar, will ya?”
“Awww, Grant,” Manny whined, “I don’t have much left.”
“Hey, I’m the Sentinel and you are my Mage, we should be able to get all the Nectar we want, back in circle one.”
“Like she’s gonna let us go clear back to Circle one,” Manny said.
“If you told her you needed supplies or something, yanno, like eye of newt or toe of dog…”
The dog chuffed.
“Sorry Buddy, I meant toe of frog,” I continued to brow-beat Manny until he agreed to at least ask Davis if we could start my training in Circle one, back with the young ones, as far away from the one who breached as possible, and as close to the Nectar as possible.
“How do you think she got over the wall?” Manny asked, as he was collecting the stuff he was going to need for a trip to circle one.
“I don’t know,” I admitted, one minute she was kicking ass on her side, the next she was climbing, I didn’t wait around once it was obvious she was gonna make it.”
“I don’t blame you,” Manny said, while trying to choose between his dirty grey shirt and his dirty brown shirt, opting to take them both in the hopes he could find time to wash them.
“She’s the Searcher,” Buddy said from his place on the floor, “If you want to buy into that prophecy crap.”


5
I'm dead. No other possible explanation exists to explain what I'm seeing. In fact, I'm not sure I can explain what I'm seeing.  I'm in a room. It's large as we consider rooms but inside the dwellings of old it would be considered medium-sized. I'm seated. In what I'm not sure because at the moment, I cannot move my body -otherwise my senses seem to be working rather well. The temperature is comfortable.  I can't remember being comfortable in years. I smell something -whatever it is, smells intoxicating.  My body feels clean despite not being able to feel it. The perpetual layer of grime that exists on all dwellers of Earth seems to have been washed away.

In front of me is the largest pane of glass I've ever seen. Two women standing side-by-side with their arms outstretched couldn't reach both left frame and right. Large wooden planks (Wood! can you imagine?) covered the floor from my position to the window.  Only one other thing stood between where I was sitting and the large window.  A small table (also wood) and two chairs.  The tabletop was empty.  

Through the window (this is the best part) is an expanse of green rolling fields that tapered down to a rocky shore.  Beyond, blue water. Blue!  I'd never seen such a brilliant shade of blue. Looking out into the green and blue expanse must have touched something in the recesses of my memories because I find my eyes filling with tears. I can't explain it. I haven't cried since I was a little girl.  They roll down my cheeks.  I try to wipe them away only to remember I am unable to move at all.  

Shore birds rise and fall on the air currents above the water.  Some type of grazing animals munch on the green in a large bunch.  They're all a dirty white color. Rather than coarse hair matted tight to their bodies, they seem to defy gravity with what could only be the softest of coats. 

A loud creaking noise followed quickly by a sound I cannot identify  takes my attention from the distance.  I see movement out of the corner of my eye.  I want to wipe away my tears -embarrassed that another person will see them.  Then again, I'm dead so what's it really matter?

"Beautiful, isn't it?" a woman's voice says.
"Yes," I reply, letting go of my desire to begin interrogating and allowing myself to relax just this once.
"Are you able to move yet?" she asks, walking into my field of vision.
She is old -much older than anyone I've ever seen.  Guessing from the wrinkles around her eyes I'd say she's probably twice my age.  She has long, dark hair -almost as dark as her skin, and soft features.  She doesn't live like the rest of us.  She smiles, looking deep into my eyes. I feel her right then, in my head.  She's trying to calm me down but the sensation of someone inside my mind is unnerving.  She must have sensed this because she immediately backs out.  When you're dead, I guess anything is possible.

"You need not fear," she said. I detect an accent -nothing I've ever heard before.  
"Where am I?" I ask.  The sound of my own voice is startling.  The gruff, grainy, bark-like timbre is gone, replaced by a smooth, almost musical quality.

She smiles but says nothing. I see her reach for something just out range of of my peripheral vision.  The world goes black.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writing Contests

Hey, if you are a writer who stumbled on this blog because I used the title "Writing Contest", go to this other site and submit an entry! While there, looking at the submission guidelines, don't forget to favorite the site, navigate out to the blog, and leave a comment for the author.
Of course, if you are one of the 4 regular readers of this blog you have already been to The Never Chronicles web site.
Oh, well, that's all I have tonight!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Join us in June (15-16) for the Chester County Balloon Festival, organized and supporting West Bradford Youth Athletics, Inc. Food, fun, and Refreshments from Victory Brewing of Downingtown!

Put it on your calendar, the tethered balloon ride is fun, or, hit the web-site to reserve a real ride!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Searcher and the Sentinel


This is chapter/part/installment two of a collaboration with the soon-to-be-renowned author J.R. Wagner . His parts, found below mine (his idea, I think, I may have the instructions wrong), can also be found at the link. More on his forthcoming book Exiled, book one of The Never Chronicles, can be found here. My parts are going to be mostly raw and unedited, unless I find a little extra time. Enjoy:


4
I awoke from the blow to my head rather quickly, but opened my eyes very slowly as soon as I realized where I was. I wanted to listen in on any conversations, knowledge is power they say, and considering I found my hands and legs bound, I could use a little power, if it was to be had.
“Keep an eye on ‘im,” I heard Davis say. She was the boss of all interior teams, the leader of the rovers; black leather clad killers.
“He’s out,” Manny replied, “and besides, I tied him when that durn fool of yours dropped him here.”
Manny was the second level Commander, older than Davis, but lower in rank, and lower in power. Inside the women ruled, we men followed orders, and if we didn’t, well, there were the rovers to think about, weren’t there?
“Liza is not a fool,” Davis snapped, “she was following orders not to kill him. He’s the one, the Sentinel, with a capital ‘S’.”
I almost mimicked exactly what Manny did, which was inhale so quickly that it made a whistling sound as the air passed through his mostly toothless mouth, but I didn’t, I managed to stay still, calm, unconscious looking.
“Bullcrap,” Manny said, pushing his chair back, the wooden feet sliding easily along the relatively new vinyl floor. This fact stuck with me, I must ask Manny where he found the materials, my room needed a new floor and all the good stuff had been destroyed so long ago.
“All signs point to it,” Davis explained, pacing now, her perfectly shined black leather high heeled boots passing in front of my slitted eyes with each lap. They had trussed me in one of the corners of Manny’s office, so I was lucky in a way, I was able to see Davis spin around, the movement fanning her long coat, exposing just a hint of red leggings above the boot tops, just below her left knee. Another fact that would stick with me…for a long time.
“Records show this is his fourth return, he excels in all his duties, he has the mark…”
Manny interrupted her, “many men have the mark, it doesn’t prove a thing.”
“And none of them live past their 15th year,” Davis replied, “also part of the prophecy.”
“Some do,” Manny said, hesitantly, almost whispering the words.
“Yes, Manny, we know,”
“You know?”
“We’ve watched you too,” she told him, “even if your care-for tried to hide the mark.”
Manny’s hand slipped unconsciously to the spot on his neck where his care-for (he preferred mother but the word really had no meaning anymore) had cut out the mark of the Sentinel, a reddish brown figure that resembled crossed swords, if you squinted and really wanted it to look that way.
“You, too, are part of the prophecy,” Davis continued, “you will now begin to train the Sentinel in the ways of magic, as your care-for did for you.”
Again Manny was shocked at her knowledge, he thought no one knew the things his mother had taught him.
“And you, Grant, you would do well to learn quickly,” Davis had stopped directly in front of me, “because this one, the one who breached; she’s also spoken of in the prophecy, and while she may be scared now, she will gain confidence with each kill, with each rover she takes down. You must lean the magic, it is the only way to stop her, to keep her from learning our secrets.”
I closed my eyes tight, knowing my ruse had failed somehow, and listened as Davis left the office. Manny shuffled over to where I lay and began to untie the cords that bound my hands and feet.

3
My mind knows something happened between walking away from the outer limit barrier and squatting in the corner of a shadowed room taking a leak yet, regardless of how hard I try, the memories will not return.  I finish, look around for something to wipe with, find nothing and decide it isn't worth worrying about at the moment -especially since I've no idea where I am.

As I buckle my belt, I'm relieved to find my knife still hanging from its leather sheath. The sun is rising, I can tell by the blue light that filters through the paneless window.  I cautiously approach the window and gaze down onto the street below.  Judging from the size of the person walking along the sidewalk I must be near the top of one of the tallest downtown buildings. 

Person?  Downtown? My body tenses as I press myself against the wall and out of view.  When I slowly peek around the paintless wooden trim that shows no signs of ever holding glass between it and the fire-scorched exterior, She (no chance a man would wander downtown) hasn't changed her direction or pace.  She didn't see me.  I watch, curious as she continues along the sidewalk until reaching an intersection.  She looks both ways then hurriedly crosses the street and hops back onto the sidewalk where she resumes her more casual pace. 

I'm tempted to shout down to her but her behavior causes me to remain silent.  I've never seen anyone move in this fashion -worry free.  I've only heard stories of a time when we didn't have to constantly be looking over our shoulders and gripping our knives.  She continues another block then turns east. The clouds are thick this morning yet even at this height, I can tell she is wearing black leather.  Whoever she is, she is well connected.  Her jacket hovers just above the ground as she walks, blowing slightly in the breeze until she is obstructed by the single wall standing where once an entire building rose from the ground. 

I turn and cautiously make my way into the hall searching for a sign of a stairwell or ladder sticking up from the hole  infested floor.  While I don't remember how I came to be up here, there must be a way down.  As I move closer toward the center of the building, the natural light from the perimeter dims and I almost step through a crack wide enough to send me down to the next floor if I'm lucky, to the bottom if I'm not. 

I move slower as my anxiety increases.  I can feel my heart beating against my chest.  I can't remember the last time I was this worked up.  I need to relax. I pause and take a few deep breaths.  That's when I hear it -faint at first but growing louder with each second that passes.  A ding.  A bell. Ding, ding, ding. 

My knife is in my hand and I'm crouched on the floor as I slowly move toward the sound. Ding, ding.  Forget my chest, I can hear my heart beating in my head.  I can feel the sweat rolling down my neck and drenching my shirt between my breasts. I continue toward the sound, crouched, knife ready, taking long, low steps as I hug the wall. 

I see something along the wall.  At least, I think I do.  In the darkness it's hard to distinguish shapes.  I take another long, low step forward.  I see something for sure. There is a light source ahead.  Ding, ding, ding.  I run my free hand over my head pushing the sweat away from my eyes -grateful I had my head shaved just before I left. 

I notice my hand shaking as I draw nearer to the shape -to the light source. My hand never shakes. I can see there is a hole in the wall ahead.  The shape appears to be a part of the wall that has fallen into the hallway.  I relax a little.  Still, something doesn't feel right.  Ding, ding, ding.

A few more steps and the yellow light is bright enough to make out the ragged outline of the hole in the wall.  Two more steps and I'm there. I step up on to the fallen chunk of wall to look into the hole, which is slightly higher than my eye level. The wall chunk gives beneath my weight.  Not in the way a brittle wall would give -it was soft, mushy, gross.  Something crunches then I feel moisture in my boots.  The light from the hole casts just enough to see what it is that I'm standing on -in.  If I hadn't been so transfixed on the damn hole, I would have seen it sooner and not stepped onto it.  A body.  Rotting, stinking -but everything stinks these days.  I'm sure I don't smell much better than the corpse on the floor beneath my boots.

Ding, ding, ding.  My heart is racing now, my breathing more rapid than if I were running full tilt.  I try to step back but find my boot is lodged in the...the body somehow.  Grasping the lower edge of the hole, I lift myself slightly and manage to pull my boots free.  As I lower myself to the ground something happens -I slip in the wetness.  I slip and fall onto this person I've just trodden on. 

Splat.  We are face to face.  My face is actually touching hers.  It is clearly a woman -that much I can tell as I lift my head away in horror. A girl actually.  I shriek and roll off her simultaneously releasing what was left in my bladder (good thing I didn't bother taking the time to wipe) expecting to hit the hard floor of the hall.  Instead, I feel the air whooshing past my body as I fall into darkness.  Ding, ding, ding grows faint as does the yellow light above.  I scream for the first time in my adult life as I anticipate the impact.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Collaboration Title

So we need a title, and I am terrible at titles. Cue Google, and the prhase "Title Creator", which led me to Fictionalley.org  . A title creator by aabashenya. I am going to try it out!
My first attempt produced the following:
Title One: dark creatures of scary streetsTitle Two: the scary fighterTitle Three: the sentinal of dark creaturesTitle Four: dark fighterTitle Five: the searching sentinalTitle Six: winding streetsTitle Seven: searching creaturesTitle Eight: scary winding
Title Nine: winding for streetsTitle Ten: searching and winding
None of which helps us very much. So I need to go back and change some of my word choices.
Title One: broken creatures of dark streetsTitle Two: the dark fighterTitle Three: the sentinal of broken creaturesTitle Four: broken fighterTitle Five: the searching sentinalTitle Six: travelling streetsTitle Seven: searching creaturesTitle Eight: dark travellingTitle Nine: travelling for streetsTitle Ten: searching and travelling
Better, but not quite there. I will now ask my collaborator for some help...
Title One: broken horrors of ancient streetsTitle Two: the ancient SentinalTitle Three: the Woman of broken horrorsTitle Four: broken SentinalTitle Five: the searching WomanTitle Six: travelling streetsTitle Seven: searching horrorsTitle Eight: ancient travellingTitle Nine: travelling for streetsTitle Ten: searching and travelling
Going in the wrong direction, I should have waited...
Hey, Collaborator, click on the link and see what you can do...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Experimental Collaboration


This is chapter/part/installment two of a collaboration with the soon-to-be-renowned author J.R. Wagner . His parts, found below mine (his idea, I think, I may have the instructions wrong), can also be found at the link. More on his forthcoming book Exiled, book one of The Never Chronicles, can be found here. My parts are going to be mostly raw and unedited, unless I find a little extra time. Enjoy:



2
Why on my watch? I thought as I hurried along the passageways through the rubble, trails I had traversed since I could walk, trails and paths designed to look as if monsters travelled them nightly; this was how we kept both sides out: fear.
Why me? No one was going to believe me, no outsider had ever scaled the barricades, no outsider would want to, we leaked too many stories of the horrors within the city, some real, many imagined, all designed with our safety in mind.
I quickened my pace, any female with wits as this one, might see through the disguises we used. Then again, it was almost dark, and perhaps, wits or not, those horrors that were real, would take care of the problem for me. Maybe I didn’t have to report the breach.
But I had to, it was law. All breaches of the perimeter must be reported at once; a breach was the only reason a sentinel could leave his post. These words had been repeated so many times during his life, from his fifth year when he was assigned third level sentinel duty, then again at 11 when he earned (two years early) second level sentinel duty, and again, every other morning, for the past 7 years, as he suited up and headed out to the real perimeter, with the razor wire, the concrete, and the smell of death.
Why me? Early now, I am going to be challenged by the second level, and if none of the cameras or sensors picked up the intruder, I was going to have to fight my way in. Sun at my back, sun at my back, sun at my back; let the other guy get blinded.
“Hey, Grant, why so early,” came the call from somewhere to my right.
“A breach,” I hastily called back, veering slightly left to try to skirt his position.
“Nothing showed,” was the answer, closer now, and I wasn’t yet in position.
“She came right over after kicking some big guy in the jewels,” I called, slowing, turning toward where I thought the other sentinel was lurking.
There was a snicker to my left, and the same voice to my right, much closer than expected, possibly inside the burned out shell of one of the thousands of cars that still lined the streets of the city, repeated, “nothing showed.”
I caught movement out of the corner of my left eye, turned my head in that direction, and understood an instant too late my mistake. The snicker was a recording, and the movement was only a shadow of the man who landed the debilitating blow to my head. Thankfully he didn’t kill me, a breach of protocol to be sure, but one I will be repaying for years, if not decades (if we live that long).
I came to in the office of the second sentinel commander, a seasoned soul of 32 years, not the oldest man inside, but one of the top ten we all guessed. 25 was considered a long life inside, we all knew that the outsiders lived much longer, but they didn’t come back when they died.





 1

The city had been abandoned for years.  Neither side sent men within the outer limits for fear of the horror that dwelt beneath the concrete and steel shells that once housed millions. I cannot say what drew me into the emptiness even now. I suppose reflection is jaded with emotion and therefore a fruitless effort.

My body ached from the beating it took the day before.  I can generally hold my own in a fight but this man was out of the ordinary.  My only solace is that toward the end, I managed to cut him with my knife.  It wasn't deep. A mere scrape across his ribs -but it bled like a sonofabitch.  Just enough to distract him as I punted his crotch up into his stomach.  You'd think a man would learn to protect his jacobs by now.  Clearly his over-confidence saw to his undoing.

He shouldn't have messed with me anyway.  Who picks a fight with a woman on the edge of the outer limits?  He was just asking for an ass kicking and I was happy to oblige.  Did I kill him?  Did I kill him as he lay there like a baby in the street cupping his manhood while tears and snot and blood ran together on the side of his face.  I didn't.  I couldn't.

I had more important business to attend to.  Plus, he had earned my respect.  If I hadn't pulled out my knife it would have ended differently. He was nothing to look at. Average height, average build -even a bit on the small side.  My god was he fast though.  He had my respect as I walked away.  I walked on, beckoned by something more powerful than survival.

One thing was for sure, I was headed where no man would follow.  No woman either.  Even now, as I said, I'm not sure why I listened to that voice that called to me but I did. I climbed over the concrete barriers stacked ten-high marking the beginning of the outer limits.  I climbed over the fifteen foot fence topped with razor wire mounted at the peak of the barrier pyramid that encircled the city.

The sun was setting to my right then left as I thew my legs over the razor-wire topping and began the climb down.  Blazing orange light threw long shadows when interrupted by what remained of the buildings, long abandoned.  No rubble from the destruction littered the streets making the scene even stranger. We all knew why that was -the thought of it sent a chill through my body.

As my feet touched the pavement, the sounds from outside the wall immediately silenced.  The hum of the generators, the buzz of the trucks patrolling the districts.  Even the wind silenced when I dropped off the second tier of the old traffic barriers.  The sound of my boots hitting the ground echoed between the buildings towering above me.  I froze.  Waited.  Looking. Scanning the streets from left to right then the buildings now windowless and open for any sign of movement.  Nothing.

Every molecule in my body wanted to turn around and retreat over that wall yet something more powerful pulled me onward toward the center of the city.  Toward the heart of the madness.

I had never traveled inside the wall.  I don't know anyone who has.  Why then, was I being called?  Why now?  My body began to move.  It was all I could do to slow my pace, quiet my footfalls and stay in the shadows as I continued on.  It was my body...but I was not in control -and that frightened me even more than what lies ahead.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interesting Day

Spent the afternoon and evening at the Farm Show. And to be honest, I was concerned that I would be bored, like I was when I was a teenager, forgetting how much I enjoyed it as a young child. I was not only not bored, I had a great time! This is something every parent needs to do with their children and I am feeling bad that I did not take my kids.
Sure, we can send them to Springton Manor to meet the big pig, or to Milky Way farm to see the chickens and cows, but at the Farm Show, the kids can pet the cows, many cows. They can watch the cows being milked. But the best part, they can actually talk to teenagers who raised the cows and had FUN doing it.
And the same thing with the sheep, the goats, the rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys. There are horses too, from miniatures to Belgians...and a butter sculpture:

There is food...lots of food, including a great Tilapia sandwich. Oh, and ice cream, made with PA honey, that you can smother in more honey. And fried stuff, if you like that sort of thing (or if your brother isn't with you).
There are tractors and quilts, solar panels and fence manufacturers, seed companies and more tractors. There are three arenas where all kinds of stuff goes on all day. We went for the heavy-weight horse pulling. Teams of horses, weighing in at around 5000 pounds per team, pulled a sled with over 10,000 pounds on it. Very impressive animals!
And tractors...

Monday, January 9, 2012

something different

I am going to go to flicker right now and look for a random picture. If I can find one, I will post it here and then write a very, very short story based on that picture. Wish me luck.

Not working, all the good ones are under copyright. I was going to link back and give credit...crap. Not much else though...unless a rant about how the University of Phoenix website seems to be down tonight, and with a class starting tomorrow, this is not a good thing. I usually upload my bio and do all the signing in  stuff a day early so I can get a jump on the rest of the week. Online schooling is not as easy as some say, there is more writing than most people do in a lifetime, and that includes brick and mortar graduates.
Oh my...the page loaded in another window, time to get some work done.

Spoke too soon, impossible to get on to the site, so went to kill those thieving pigs instead of going to bed, how silly of me.
Funny how this blog is becoming a journal...

Perhaps I need another idea...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Randomness

I asked my one Constant Reader (with apologies to Mr. King) to help me out with ideas for today's blog post, the following were her offerings:
Trucks. We bought a truck today, a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500 with the 5.9 liter (360cid) Magnum. A 46RE transmisson designed for higher hauling capacity, quad cab and full size bed. I can now pull the dump trailer! This is a truck, a wonderful trucky truck!
Washers and dryers. And then tonight we bought a new Washer and Dryer. The style is 'really big ass', or, Whirlpool Cabrio. Much needed purchase, with two teenagers.
Taking ten minutes to text. This might be an exaggeration, but for some reason my samsung tough phone bothers people. No, it is not a smart phone, no web to speak of, and just a normal phone keyboard. The phone is a nuisance to begin with, so I really don't need one with all the bells and whistles. If I did have an iPhone, or, other smart phone, I wouldn't get anything done, I would spend all my time using those bells and whistles.
Stupid movies that everyone but me like. Avatar. Forrest Gump. Both of them drive me nuts.

Winter Classic

I still got nothing...so more journal like posting, and I have one minute. Watched a hockey game at Citizens Bank Park tonight, good fun with my wonderful wife and a good friend. The Phantoms won, no fights, and great fireworks!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A quick one

Wow,,
    hurrying, hurrying! Got caught up in Google Calendar and lost track of time. Distractions, I might someday do a post on all my distractions...oh, look, an angry bird...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Politics

The Iowa Caucuses are over and Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President this year. Rick Santorum, who finished a close second (by eight votes), is not a good national candidate, Ron Paul who took third place is too isolationist for most of the republican party, and Newt is simply hated by the electable center right candidate that the republican establishment thinks we need to beat President Obama. Personally I think a tomato can could beat Mr. Obama in the fall, unless everything turns around or he gets us into a real shooting war, but I am just a silly man from Pennsylvania, my opinion on who should be the nominee does not matter. This leads me to the real reason for this post, and I am going to fly by the seat of my pants on this one, no more links.
Parties should pick candidates for higher office in the space of a week, or, since we pick the actual President in one day, we should pick the nominee in one day. The usefulness of conventions is over, they are now simply a reason for local big-wigs to leave home, get drunk, and do nothing else. Hold primaries in June, that gives the candidates 5 months to campaign for the big job. It also limits the amount of money needed. They spent $12 million on TV alone in Iowa, with each sate expecting big money from now till spring, except of course all the states after Super Tuesday. Those states have no real choice as most hangers-on have left the races by then. It is silly for me to even choose a name when I go into the booth, the decision has been made already.
I will still go vote though, there are other races that mean something, mostly local. When I am king of the world, after the welfare recipients are put to work (after the drug tests), after businesses are fined for hiring illegal workers, and after Obama-care is repealed, the first thing I am going to do is make it illegal to hold caucuses or primary elections in another week other than the first week of June!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for 2012


Yes, I have some. I write them every January with the idea I am supposed to open the document a few times during the year to check on my progress. It works, slightly. Last year was bad, I only checked it twice, the year before that I had checked in 8 or 10 times. Some of the items have been on the list for years (finish Gus, publish poetry), others are removed as completed and new ones are added. It was very nice to delete 'be a good shop steward' this year and rewarding to add 'compete in more than one triathlon' because I had checked off the goal of 2011 to 'enter at least one swimming competition'. 
All of this is simply a distraction though, a reason to not be completing to decade long goal of writing the story/stories that have been bouncing around in my head. Maybe if I finish I can move on to other stuff; and that is more BS because I have completed many other writing projects in the interim, only one of which is publishable, in my opinion, but not in the opinion of the publishers I have sent it to.
Even this blog is a distraction, so I will hit 'publish' and send it off, pull the notebook out of the bag and...play Angry Birds.

Good Year Continued

Yes, I still am pushing for content, and it will get worse next week when I start a class. To continue the theme from yesterday, some work related things may occur in 2012. Da wife is looking to move into management (uh oh, did I just jinx that?), and I am trying again to change the shifts I work. Not an easy thing when one has to fight a union along the way. I thought unions were supposed to look out for the employee? Hmmm, it seems they only look out for themselves, screw the guys that work 24 hours a day, they don't count.
And due to unforeseen circumstances, this post is late...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Going to be a good year

There are many things about this upcoming year that will mark it as one to remember. Middle son is graduating High School and headed off on his life, oldest son finishing first year of college, and youngest son headed to states for the YMCA and School???

And J.R. Wagner is publishing his first novel, so we won't have to keep asking "What is the Never?"

And I am going to finish writing about Gus, once and for all, to never pick it up again. This is the only way I can move forward. Or, perhaps, I am afraid that once Gus is out of my head, all the threads will blow away. That is impossible, there are too many of them, too many people need to die in too many horrendous ways. Yeah, I don't know why, but they do. Maybe I realize that all the forensic television is supposed to make the average murderer think twice, they are going to be caught. Not the serial killer though, he can use the forensics to his advantage...
Why? I don't know. Growing up reading King? Egg? Chicken?
And I am going to publish the book of poetry, one way or another. Someone is going to see the merit, see the fund-raising possibilities, bird-cage lining possibilities, fire-starting possibilities.

And I am going to win a contest, maybe a short story, maybe a poetry, maybe a new novel contest, but I am going to win something. Or at least enter something. Or at least write something that might get entered.

I do know that I am going to be building lots of stuff this coming year, starting with steps and a walk next week, a compass rose design throughout the winter, two stone walls this spring, and another patio! More in the pipe-line too, a couple of walks, and a few walls.

And...and...it is going to be a good year!