Archive for category Can’t Publish This

Not for Human Consumption

“And now look at me.  Don’t take this the wrong way, but understand me when I tell you that you–all of you–are unique.  Where I’m from, guys your size don’t communicate, they spend their days soaking up the sun and watching the world pass by from the branch of a tree.”
Virrn tilted his head.  “You are the first I have seen alive who was not watching us from behind the clear walls.  Excuse us for not knowing how to respond.”
“Look,” Kate said, shifting her weight to accommodate her bad arm.  “Let’s just agree to give each other a little leeway.  I guarantee you protocol for me is going to be a lot different than what you’re used to.  I forgive you.  And I promise I’ll try to behave.”
“You are willing to concede much.”
Kate let out part of a breath.  “Story of my life.  There’s a lot more where that came from.”  She peered back toward the tear in the hull and the scattering rays of light that broke through the trees and found their way down to the metal walls.  “Do you mind if I ask what you have to eat around here?  It’s been at least three days since I had something filling.”
Virrn leapt from his perch on the haptic display and leapt onto Kate’s arm.  Their eyes locked.
She recoiled momentarily.  “Is that a no?  I wasn’t intending to take your food.”
“You are sad.”
You are observant,” she said, unsure how to respond.  “And blunt.  This is me giving you leeway, by the way.  You’re a little more forward in your speech than I’m accustomed to.”
“What did you do to become sad?” Virrn asked, crawling farther up her arm.
“What did I do?” Kate wanted to brush him back down her arm, but decided against it.   “I didn’t ask for it, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“It found you?” Virrn opened his mouth wide.  “What did you do?”
“I–Nothing everyone else I know hadn’t already done.  I played the game and lost.”
Virrn tilted his head.
“A metaphor.  Sorry.  Relationships.  You’ve most likely seen them in some form if you were paying any attention at all during your education.”
Virrn crawled past her elbow and turned back.  “What was it like?”
“While it lasted, there’s nothing that can compare to it.  Now that it’s over?  I’ve spent the last four months wishing I could remove my heart and eat it.”
“A metaphor?” Virrn said.
“I think so,” Kate replied.  “Most days, anyway.  You catch on quickly.”


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A Bird

Avon, Lautrec, and Siegfried were all awake at the same early hour the next morning, two of them finding much less sleep than usual.  Radford was already seated and dining contentedly, as though his capture the night before of the most malformed bird in the entire forest had no effect on him.

“It’s a sign, I say,” Siegfried muttered.  “A warning.  It isn’t natural for a bird to live like that.  How would it have survived, feeding two greedy stomachs with only one mouth?”

“A warning?  For what?” Lautrec asked.  “To stop eating birds, because some of them are terribly ugly?”  As if to prove his indifference, he cracked the shell off a boiled egg and placed the entire thing in his mouth, throwing the shell aside.  “If we spent our days worrying about every awful creature we came across, we would have no time left to do anything else.”

Siegfried pointed to the floor where the bird or birds had sat the evening before.  “Can you blame them for burning it?”

Calista had summoned Amand shortly after she had realized what was lying on her floor.  Amand had taken the carcass in a coal scoop and carried it out past the property line, where he had burned it along with other unwanted refuse.

“I’ve witnessed ugliness before,” Avon said.  “The markets of Macquarie are lined with it.  Some of the scaly beasts they dredge from the deeps would drive anyone from eating fish again.  I’m sure Radford could attest to it.”

At this Radford appeared to notice the others for the first time that morning.  He swallowed an impossibly large piece of bread spread thick with honey and butter and fruit jelly.  “Macquarie has some foul-looking castoffs, but every one of them has a function, and every one of them performs it in its own way, whether we appreciate it or not.  That,” he said, squinting at Lautrec.  “That were no bird.  It didn’t fly, it didn’t sing, it didn’t care for the wee birds like any decent winged creature.  It flopped on the ground like some awful fish, dragging its half-dead self through the bushes until I put an end to its creeping pain.  I don’t know what attacked it in the first place, but even that poor beast had the sense to turn and run from it.”

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Toned Down

What the actual junk, Facebook.  You have a problem.  You have a lot of problems.

Something that’s been making the rounds: “Share this if you’d stay up all night just to stop someone you love from committing suicide!”

There are so many things wrong with that statement I don’t know where to start.  My original plan was to throw sarcasm at it.

Forget the interim plan.  Plan A was good enough.

Truly you are a paragon of unwavering selflessness to sacrifice six whole hours of sleep to prevent someone from ending their life!  If everyone on earth exhibited the same unsurpassed love you show, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IN THE EVENT YOU WERE ACTUALLY CALLED TO DO SOMETHING TOUGH.

‘Just’ to stop them from ending it all?  ‘Just’ is used when you say you’d drive 80 miles ‘just’ to buy doughnuts, because they’re so good and who cares if I get fat.  ‘Just’ is used when the object of your assessment is trivial and ultimately meaningless.

I don’t claim a history of demonstrating or great ability to demonstrate true sacrificial love, but I hope to the uttermost that I would stand up and do something to change the situation, regardless of whether I thought I loved that hypothetical person or not.  And I don’t even remember the last time I genuinely sacrificed to prove my love for anyone.  I’ve done things I don’t like for folks I care deeply about, but I don’t know if I’ve ever truly forfeited my own interests to serve someone else in a major way.

Love is far more than a vapid pledge to give up an eminently replaceable commodity to prevent an irreversible tragedy.  Love is sacrifice. Love is placing another’s good completely and interminably above your own.  Love is long hours caring for someone who can’t care for herself, because you promised you would in sickness and in health. Love is knowing when to let go despite every fiber of your being wanting to hold on.  Love is getting two hours of sleep each night because you’re working two jobs and are trying to give your kids a decent life.

Written by a hypocrite.  But blast it all, if the hypocrites can’t speak, the world will forever be a very quiet place.

Whatever the heck kind of disease that site is spreading, it’s hardly a shadow of the real thing.  Facebook, you wouldn’t recognize love if it backed over your head with a truck.  You’re dabbling in things you don’t understand, and I’m fairly convinced you never will.

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Please do not ever use these. If you must, please do not cite your sources.

You stole my heart, valentine!  Please give it back.  Just because I donated a kidney doesn’t mean you can freely take more of my organs.

I didn’t fall for you, valentine, I was pushed.  I will likely carry the scars for some time.

Valentine, I have determined that your positive impacts currently outweigh the negative effect of your presence.  I have therefore also determined this relationship should continue.

Valentine, I wanted to write you some poetry, but I am functionally illiterate and honestly, I’m not sure you even speak English.

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Worth It.

Emerson gestured toward the second-floor walkway across the plaza, directly in front of the overstuffed bookstore she frequented on the weekends. “What about that one? She’s carrying an umbrella.”

“Why would that make a difference?” Rafael asked, leaning into the painted brown rail. The barricade was attached solidly to the structural steel in the floor below and yielded nothing to his weight.

Em pointed up at the glass roof overhead. “The precipitation forecast hasn’t bumped above twenty percent in almost three weeks, and it’s nine-thirty in the evening.”

“I can think of at least three stores on that side of this mall that would sell an umbrella. Sales wait for no man,” Rafael said. “Or woman. I would argue that it seems too silly for someone to carry an umbrella.”

“If I didn’t know better, Rafael Gerous,” Emerson said, hissing out the final syllable of his name. “I would say you’re being deliberately obstinate. Fortunately for me, I do know better, and whatever misguided train of thought is running through that head of yours, I’m not wasting my money on tickets. Fine, you could argue that she just bought the umbrella. But if that’s the case, then where’s the tag? And why,” she lowered her voice, “Isn’t she carrying it in the giant bag in her right hand?”

In one swift motion, Emerson pulled her phone out from her vest and began dialing.

Rafael let most of the air in his lungs hiss slowly out of his mouth. “Why do you keep that thing there?” he asked, tensing imperceptibly and checking his watch. “Between that and your obsession with Turandot you look like you’re about to plug someone with a couple rounds every time that song goes off. And who are you calling?”

“Your brother.” She pointed to a pair in the crowd about thirty meters ahead of the two women, who had stopped briefly as the second placed something in the plastic shopping bag. “You notice those two by the rail staring into the fountain?”

“The mayor–he was supposed to be downtown this evening!” Rafael began moving toward the pair, but the nearest transverse walkway was beyond the fountain; they would have to double back. “Forget my brother. We can handle this. It’s not a crime to carry an umbrella.”

Emerson was already three steps ahead of him, her feet clipping briskly across the aged grey tiles in front of The Abdominal Showroom. She slipped the phone back into her vest, ignoring the two men by the window somehow managing to make doing crunches an aggressive act. “Don’t even start with me, Raph. I didn’t get this job by making assumptions based on looks. We need your brother. Something feels deeply wrong about those two.”

“We’ve got this!” Rafael said. “This is a mall! Why call Daniel? We have no reason to believe this is a serious matter.”

“It is serious,” she bit back. “I know of two threats against the mayor’s life.”

Rafael sucked in a quick breath. “The bald guy over there? The one whose greatest accomplishment in office is not drooling on the podium at council meetings?”

“You really have been kept in the dark,” Emerson said, shaking her head as the two passed a small stand selling overpriced cheese. “I guess it’s not your fault. That’s why I called in. We aren’t going to be able to stop them, but your brother is on his way. This situation is about to get Dan Gerous.”

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In His Defense, the Success Rate is Still 100%

Arnold set his hat by the door and nearly tripped over a pair of black leather size 10s.  “Why are there–Whose shoes are these?

“They ain’t mine,” Cannibal Sherman said, his voice resounding from the kitchen.  “Ask Brett.”  Brett Krinkins had been the one to send out the invitations–it was his house, but he was nowhere to be found.

Arnold untied his laces.  Judging by the state of the shoes in front of him, he imagined he was the only one around who still did so.  The backs were broken down and the only set whose knotted bows weren’t still intact was the glossy black pair by his foot.

“Sorry, hon, nobody’s really that helpful around here.  Let me grab your jacket.”  Britt was the older sibling of the Krinkins pair.  “You might as well be talking to the walls.

Whose shoes are these!” she bellowed from the well-lit foyer.  She wasn’t asking a question anymore; she had turned it into a demand for an answer.

Arnold stepped back slightly.

“Quit yelling,” Brett called down the hallway.  “If we don’t know whose they are, we can just cut them both in half.”

Britt’s face wrinkled in a mixture of confusion and exasperation as her brother clomped down the wooden corridor.  “You do know that’s not how that works, right?  It only works if people are fighting over the item.  You don’t just hack stuff in half and expect to solve the problem.”

“I do,” Brett said, stepping into the entryway, his arms full of cheese wedges and a colorful mix of soda cans.  “And it does.”  He handed the cans to his sister.  “It got people to stop leaving their crap at my house.  Take these into the kitchen please,” he said to her, picking up the shoes.

She took the soda reluctantly, somehow managing to hang onto all of the cans and Arnold’s coat.  “Why on earth do we let you host?  You can’t just misapply one solution to everything you see and expect it to fix the issue!”

“I haven’t been finding tacky bakeware in my kitchen anymore,” Brett said.  “As far as I’m concerned, the problem was solved.”

“That’s the problem with you; you get one tool and you use it on the world!  When all you have is Solomon’s logic, suddenly everything looks like a baby.”

“The better to avoid kid-sitting duties, my dear.”  As he turned the shoes over in his hands, he felt a palm on his shoulder; he spun around to see Abrams’ somewhat irate visage inches from his face.

“They’re mine, thanks.”

Britt shook her head and strode off toward the kitchen.

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I Think It’s Done.

I think it’s done.

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A Slight Departure in Tone

No matter how much effort they put into keeping up appearances, the kids back then were always looking for love; those who were truly brave would steal away on starless summer nights to MacNeely’s mansion at the top of the hill, slink in through the side door, stand at the foot of the mighty Victorian staircase, and loudly call out Old Man MacNeely’s name exactly eleven times in the hopes that he would use his powers to grant your wish for romance, if he didn’t use them to beat the everliving snot out of you as he threatened to do to all the other misbehavin’ punks that repeatedly broke into his house.

To this day, there are about five different people claiming to have started the tradition. Nobody has been able to provide evidence of having started the tradition, but everyone knows who pushed it out into the street for everyone to gawk at, the day he nearly had his head busted by MacNeely’s three-foot cane.

It was Steve Billings–the boy who nearly broke both his arms trying to shove his way through a solid oak panel, but still managed to outrun MacNeely down the hall to the garden door.  MacNeely wasn’t quite as spry as he always told us he had been “back in his cross-country days,” but he came close to catching Steve that night when Steve completely forgot MacNeely kept the front door locked.

In a mysterious twist, crazy Steve nearly broke Madalyn Barrett’s arms as he ran into her in headlong flight out the side door in the dark. Scared her half to death, and made her forget all about her own plan to summon Old Man MacNeely. She was too busy busting Steve’s head with a stick.

I guess MacNeely got him, in a way.

Madalyn and Steve started going out a week later. Neither went near the house again. I felt sorry for the older man for a few months after that; when the rest of the kids from down by the railroad line saw it had worked for those two, they redoubled their visits. I think he was seeing at least one incident a night for most of the summer, twice as many on the weekends.  I suspect the shouting and the collisions with his front door drove him to hire a butler.

I tried summoning him a few times myself–once before the butler showed up, twice after. It worked–well, the summoning part did. He came flying out of his second-floor study before I got my fifth “CAN YOU HEAR ME MACNEELY? I’M TIRED OF BEING ALONE!” out, his eyes wild with fire and his hands heavy with old shoes. I stuck it out through a couple of loafers, but I never did get to finish all eleven lines; by the sixth he had switched to steel-toed boots.

I had hoped to run into Jenna Hudson on the way out, no such luck. She never had been the type to get pulled into the crowd’s antics. Instead Ted Levitt was forced to dive for cover as I tore through the hallway, the enraged clomping of shoes both worn and thrown behind me.  Ted never considered approaching the stairs. As far as I know, he never went back either. He still stares at the mansion when he passes sometimes.

Actually, since the windows melted, he stares at it more often than not.

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As of this moment book two has eclipsed book one in word count by ~350 words or so.  210,000 total.

For comparison, this is about 550 pages longer than anything I was ever told to write.

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Where, Oh Where?

Listen First

The night that we met, you said it was true love
Said no one on earth could love me like you.
And little did I know you meant ev’ry last word
But who could have guessed you were talking to you?

You took me out fishing one evening last summer
Said we’d eat what we caught, that we couldn’t lose.
I played the good sport, and sat for eight hours
But it just ain’t the same eating stanky old shoes.

Your hair is as brown as the trees in November
Your eyes are as blue as the lake west of town
That stare is as cold as the depths of December
‘Tween you and the lake I think I’d rather drown.

I look in your eyes and I see confusion
I look in your ears and I see lots of hair
And now that I’m actually paying attention
I’m just about certain that you aren’t my Claire.

Where, oh where, are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?
I searched the world over and thought I found true love,
You met another
You were gone.

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