Monday, July 31, 2006

The Larch Chapter 1

“…There is trouble with the trees…” Geddy Lee

There it was. Or maybe I should say, “there HE was.” He had been a man in life. That much you could tell, but lying there in the early morning wet snow, crushed like a bug under that huge tree, he looked like a used tube of tooth paste.

The tree had fallen from the edge of a small stand of trees that screened the baseball diamonds from Irving Park Road, ending a few dozen yards before the bend where Irving Park intersects Linder Avenue. He was just off an asphalt path that ran around the edge of the park inside the trees. The trees themselves were inside a four-foot fence that was between the park and the sidewalk on the Irving Park side. It was a quiet corner of the park that was now cordoned off with yellow police tape and uniforms telling joggers to go around.

The sun was making a pitiful attempt to rise but was still overpowered by the headlights and mars lights of half a dozen police cars. It was so early that the crowd of gawkers was still quite small.

“Watch your shoes in this snow, Alison.” My partner Joe warned. The snow was slurpee-wet and patchy.

“I’m alright. Cause of death?”

“Suicide?” Sawyer Woodruff, the Medical Examiner offered from beside the dead man.

“No, I doubt that.” Joe said. Always the straight man, Joe Mozambique. Which itself is funny because he used to be Joe Martin.

“Any chance the tree didn’t do it?” I asked.

“Well, if the ground hadn’t been right there underneath him.”

“Why was he here?” Joe asked.

“I think it is a regular cross country course.” I turned to the nearest uniform.

“Is this a running trail?” He looked at me like I was a Martian. I knew that word had gotten around about my operation, but I hadn’t known that people would know me on sight. In fact, since my SRS no one talked civil to me except Joe and Sawyer. It didn’t bother me.

“Answer her.” Joe said.

“Yeah. It’s a cross country trail that leads from Gompers Park through La Baugh.” He indicated the route with his hand. I pulled out my electronic notebook and started a scene sketch. The uniformed officer didn’t take his eyes off me. Like I would jump him if he did. It didn’t bother me, much. I kept sketching and writing notes. I drew a big box for the park and added the trail, stand of trees, the killer tree and the body. I added labels.
“Who is this guy?” I asked as I was finishing the labels. “Did he always run here, in the dark, in the dead of winter, in shorts?”

“There is something pinned to his sweatshirt.” Sawyer unpinned it and read. “Steven J. Hawkes, Editor in Chief of the Northwest Herald.”

“Is that his business card?”

“Looks more like a note from his mom.” Joe took it, looked and then handed it to me.

“Conveniently pinned to his back where it wouldn’t get any blood on it.”

“It was probably pinned there after the tree -, oh. That is what you were getting at.” Joe frowned and I winked at Sawyer. The Crime Scene Crew was working on the stump end of the tree. I dropped the card in a bag and followed Joe to the end of the tree.

“Was it accidental?” Joe asked.

“I’m no expert on cuttin' down trees, but it looks to me like it was cut deliberately so it wouldn’t look cut and would stand for a while. Oh, hello Alison.” Bertram Acker didn’t like me. He was near retirement and everyone called him The Colonel. Except Joe and me.

“How so?”

“Well, it looks all cracked, like it broke.” He scratched his belly and groaned as he leaned down to show the end of the tree.

“And I think these here are spots where somebody took a real long bit and drilled a lot of holes through the trunk.”

“So it was weak?”


“Prints?” I asked.

“On bark?” I knew the only reason he deigned to answer me was because he liked to hear his own voice.

“Now down here,” he groaned as he got up. “At the stump.” He led us over to the stump.

“Look familiar Alison?” He pointed to the stump. I ignored him.

“Anyway, the interesting thing here is that.” He pointed to a clear boot print.

“Great, now all we have to do is find somebody with a muddy Timberland size ten.”

“What size do you wear Alison.” He used my name like a dagger.

“Size seven, thank you very much.” I held one high-heeled boot out of the snow.

“Men’s or Women’s?”

“I can still kick you ass old man.” I whispered. Joe got his arm between us and steered me away by the shoulders. Sawyer walked up wiping his hands.

“That’s all I can do while he’s under the tree.”

“Can we cut it up so we can get it off?” Joe asked. Acker’s people were already pulling out the chainsaws.

“No, lift it off him. I want to check something. Call for a crane.”

“That’ll be expensive.”

“I think this was a homicide. I want to check to see if the branches were altered, or cut so that the trunk would hit the ground flat.” I pointed along the length of the tree. “While you’re waiting, look for a trigger mechanism. The killer prepped the tree and left it to stand until the victim was underneath, and then released it. How? I’ll be waiting in the car. I’m freezing.” I huddled in my black leather trench coat.

“A homicide?! What the hell are you talking about?” The colonel yelled.

“My call.” I said without turning.

Joe caught up to me. “You aren’t cold.”

“I am so.” I walked over to Lieutenant Jose Perez, the uniformed officer in charge.

“Do you have the person who found the body?”

He pointed to two teenage boys in track clothes.

“Would you please send them to us over in the car?” He grunted in the affirmative.
As we turned to walk away a young woman waved to us and called.

“Detectives. Could I ask you a few questions?”

“Ignore her.” I told Joe under my breath.

“May I help you ma’am?” Joe had walked over to her despite my warning.

“I’m Liz Sherman of the Northwest Herald. Could you tell me what is going on?”

“A tree fell on a man.”

“Is he okay? Did he die? Who was he?” She had had her notepad up her sleeve and she pulled it out.

“We can’t talk about it right now.” I said. “We’re conducting an investigation. You understand.” I smiled.

“There may be a press conference later if there is anything to tell you. Sorry.” I turned away with Joe’s arm.

“Could I just have your names?”

“That would have to be off the record for the time being.” Joe said.

“And since we know that that request couldn’t be guaranteed we can’t say. Good morning.”

She smiled ironically and wrote it down, but let us go.

“So you think it was murder?” Joe asked me in the car.


“Me too.” I smiled a thank you to him, but he wasn’t looking. I pulled out my PDA and prepared to interview the boys. Joe got out and opened the back door for them. He sat in the front passenger seat.

“Good morning boys.”

“Morning.” The heavier boy replied. Both boys had dark red hair. The taller, thinner one kept looking at his running shoes.

“What are your names?” Joe asked. The stocky boy stared at him.

“My name is Detective Alison Brickhouse and this is Detective Joe Mozambique. What are your names?”

He glanced at me and then stared at Joe again. “Harris.”

“Harris what?” Joe asked.

“Connor Harris.”

“What’s your friend’s name Connor?” I asked.

“Finbar. He’s not my friend he’s my brother.”

“Where do you live boys?” Joe asked.

Connor frowned at him. Finbar told us softly under his breath. We wrote it down.
“You boys run here often?” Joe asked. Finbar nodded and Connor shook his head violently.

“You don’t?” I asked.

“I don’t run at all. I’m a wrestler.”

“I made him come.” Finbar mumbled.

“Sure. ‘It’s good for you. You’ll build up your stamina. It can’t hurt!’ You said. Now we missed school and the coach is going to bump me off the team!”

“Did you boys see anything unusual this morning?”

“Dead guy under a tree.”

“Did you see anything before that?”

They shook their heads.

“Hear anything?”

“We heard a loud boom and then when we turned around we heard the tree fall.”

“You heard the tree fall?”


“We saw it too.”

“You saw it? You saw the tree fall?”

“Well, we saw the branches moving and the top of the tree go down.”

“When was that?”

“Right before we went back to look.”

“So you didn’t see the tree hit him?”

“Ew, no.”

“Ok. Do you boys want a note from us or anything?”

“No.” They were almost out the door.

“I don’t think we will be needing you…” I said to their backs.

“Are you, um, Guys interviewing witnesses?” Lieutenant Perez stuck his head into the car.

“What do you have?”

“Two old ladies from the corner.”

“Send them.”

We got out of the car to greet the ladies. A uniform brought them over. They were your garden-variety old widow women wearing long coats over their housecoats and golashes. They had the faint smell of Ben Gay and house cat under the pleasant aroma of jasmine. They walked arm in arm with the cop.

“This is Mrs. Pepper and Mrs. Nesbitt.”

“Good morning ladies. We have a few questions to ask you.”

“If that’s not too much trouble.” I added. “I think you’d be more comfortable in the car.

“Are we under arrest?”

“My husband was a doctor.”

“You aren’t under arrest. We just have a few questions ma’am.”

“Oh well, in that case.”

“Is this a murder investigation?”

“We think there may have been intent, yes.”

“Oh how exciting.”

I held the door and helped them in.

“Aren’t you a dear, and so pretty too. I was very pretty when I was a young woman.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you see anything unusual this morning? Anything out of the ordinary?”



“There was that man.”

“A man?”

“Yes. The one that the tree fell on. That poor man.”

“Did you see the tree fall, Mrs. Nesbitt?”

“No, but Gertrude did, didn’t you Gerttie?” She raised her voice to her companion.

“Oh yes. I was watering the houseplants by the window when Percy, that’s our tomcat, knocked over the ironwood. He’s such a naughty boy.”

“What did you see, Mrs. Pepper?”

“I looked up from the plant to see where Percy had gone to and I saw something large moving in the park.”

“A tree?”

“What’s that dear?”

“I said did you see the tree fall?”

“Oh yes, you can see the trees very clearly from our house, especially since the leaves have fallen.”

“When was that?’

“Oh, I would say right after breakfast. I always water the plants after breakfast on Thursday.”

“Only the plants in the front room,” Mrs. Nesbitt corrected.

“I can hear you,” Mrs. Pepper said.

“I said, you only water the plants in the front room on Thursday. You water the bedroom plants on Monday, the kitchen plants on Tuesday, the outside plants on Wednesday when they need it…”

“Not in the winter.”

“No dear, I said, only when they need it.”

“Only when they need it.”


“Do you know what time?”

“Oh I don’t know, Lilly, do you know what time it was that I told you that a tree fell in the park?”

“No. I was washing the breakfast dishes.”

“So, right after breakfast you saw a tree fall in the park. Did you see the man that it fell on?”

“I didn’t see anything I was washing the dishes.”

“We see lots of young men, and women,” she patted my knee, “running in the park now a days.”

“Did you specifically see the man that the tree fell on?”

“I can hear you.” She looked at Joe in a way that showed that she clearly did not hear him.

“Did you see the tree fall on the man who was running?”

“I a saw a man and a woman. I think that they must be married because they were running together and talking and laughing as they ran. But then I never exercised with my husband. Oh that wasn’t done. I saw a tall woman, like you.” She smiled at me. “But dark, like him. I saw a man and two boys, but they weren’t together. I saw a young dark woman with black hair who stopped. Oh, but that was after the tree fell. She ran to our house to use the phone. She called the police.”

“Where is she?”

“She said that she had to go to work. She asked us if we had seen it happen and I told her that I had seen the tree fall and she said that that was good and that I should tell the police. She left right away. Then police car came right after she left.”

“Did you hear an explosion?”

“I can hear you.”

“Did you hear any loud noises before you saw the tree go down?”

“Did I hear any loud noises?”


“Well Percy made a heck of a racket knocking the ironwood down.”

When the ladies had left we asked if Lieutenant Perez had any other witnesses. He said that he didn’t, but that the park groundskeeper wanted to talk to somebody.

“You wanted to make a statement to the police Mr. Bulltick?” Joe asked when we had gotten the large black man in the passenger seat. He was too thick and tall to fit in the backseat. I stayed in the backseat and Joe moved to the driver’s side. Bulltick was late middle aged with huge, hard hands.

“I wanted to talk to somebody, yeah.” He looked over the seat and eyed me thoroughly. He spoke to Joe.

“I heard you was doing an investigation and I don’t want nobody thinking anything bad about me.”

“Why would anybody think anything bad about you?” I asked.

He looked at me with respect, but surprised.
“These are my trees.”

“Your trees?”

“I’m responsible for this park and the care of it. I keep a safe park sir.”

“Do you prune the trees?”

“No, I call for the team when they need it, but I am responsible for calling in hanging branches and such.”

“You know these trees well.”

“Yes sir. I know every one of these trees. I walk the rounds every afternoon before I go home.”

“Walk the rounds?”

“I walk through the park and look at every tree, every field, every piece of equipment to make sure everything is safe, but I can’t be here all night sir.”

“So you didn’t see anything wrong with this tree yesterday?”

“No ma’am.”

“It looked fine to you.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Did you get a good look at the tree this morning?”

“Pretty good. There are a lot of police around and they’re keeping everybody away. I tried to look, but the police told me to move back. That’s when I asked to speak to somebody, sir.”

“Do you know the man who was killed?”


“Do you know who was killed? Do you recognize him?”

“Oh, I thought you were asking if I was acquainted with the man. Do I know who he is, well sir, I couldn’t tell who he was from looking at him. Like I said the police were shooing everybody away, but I heard the policemen saying that it was Mr. Hawkes from the paper.”

“Do you know him?”

“Well, I’d recognize him. I mean I would’ve recognized him under normal circumstances sir. I couldn’t say that I know the man. We never had words sir. I just seen him running most every morning when I come in. He is mostly done when I come in. He don’t have no reason to talk with me sir.”

“Do you think that that tree could have fallen down by itself?”

“No sir. All the trees was safe when I left yesterday. There weren’t no snow on the branches and I didn’t see no damage on any of them.”

“Could the damage have been done last night, during the night?”

“It’s possible sir. Somebody could’ve drove a car into the tree. It would probably have taken a pretty big truck to fell a tree that size though.”

“But we would be able to see the damage on the tree.”

He nodded.

“And shouldn’t we see the truck or tire tracks or something?”

“Yes ma’am. We should see signs. You don’t take down a big healthy tree like that easy.”

“What if somebody cut it most of the way through and then stuck an explosive in the cut?”

“Hm. Like an M80? I guess. Yeah.”

“Would you have seen such a cut in the trunk during your walk through?”

“If the cut was away from the path and low so that the underbrush hid it.” I added.

“Yeah. The way that tree fell it would’ve had to have been away from the path. And if it were cut low to the ground I couldn’t have seen it no way.”

“It would be a good thing to have him look at that tree.”

“What kind of tree is it? Do you know?”

“Yes ma’am that was an American Larch, a Tamarack. Is that important?”

“I don’t know?”

By the time they had brought the crane, the sun had risen and a crowd had gathered. The tree had been altered. All of the biggest and lowest branches had been nearly cut through. We told Acker to let Bulltick work with the C.S. lab folks who were working on the tree.

The uniforms were holding the sizable crowd back beyond the sidewalk with some effort. Nobody paid us any attention while the M. E. people tried to un-skewer Mr. Hawkes. The trail had been muddy and several of the stumps from the branches had gone right through him. He came off with a sickening pop. The crowd groaned.
In my heels I was a shade taller than Joe and I scanned the back of the throng of people who had all thrown coats over sleeping clothes and come out to see the early morning spectacle. As I scanned, my vision was blocked by something dark. I looked and saw a pair of brown eyes looking down at me. Then they were gone.

“Did you see that?”

“What?” Joe had been watching the tree.

“Someone was watching me.” Normally this was not an uncommon or unwelcome experience. I am striking. I am a beautiful woman, if I do say so myself, tall, athletic, stacked. I paid a lot of money for it. I had never met anyone that guessed that I had not been born this way. I am quite proud of that, but nobody was good looking enough to distract a bystander from the spectacle of Mr. Hawkes.

“Where?” Joe and I were moving toward the crowd.

“Right there. I think it was somebody on a bike.” We tried to muscle our way through to the back of the crowd but we couldn’t make any headway. I pulled back.

“Forget it. They’re probably gone.”

“Why do you think it was somebody on a bike?”

“I think it was a black female about this tall.” I held my hand over my head. “And then she went down and away.”

“Looking down on you?”


“Probably somebody standing on a bike.”

“Hey, Brickhouse.” Sawyer was walking towards us and wiping his hands. “You sure you think this was a homicide?”

“Why, What did you find?”

“Well, there’s a lot to sort out. He is real messy, but the nearest I can tell he was standing up when the tree hit him, maybe even running.”

“How do you know? Show us.”

He led us back to the tree and pointed to the mud.

“It looks like he was hit by some branches while he tried to get away.” He pulled out a cigarette and continued to explain while he lit it. “He was running directly away from the tree. See the slip marks in the mud? He wasn’t even on the trail anymore. And there are a bunch of Pre-mortem bruises, abrasures and lacerations.”

“Cuts, bumps and scrapes for the rest of us.” Acker put in, as he over looked the work.

“Caused,” Sawyer continued with an angry glance toward the colonel, “most likely from branches that batted him around before that big one impaled him.” He shook his head.

“So he was running along, the tree started falling, he turned and ran. Then the tree smacked him around before splatting him?”

“A man wouldn’t run perpendicular to a falling tree.” Acker argued. He held his hands up like a man and a tree. That way it was perfectly clear which way to run.

“This wasn’t a pole falling, but a tree with wide, heavy branches. Also, suppose you are running along and you hear a loud sound, like an explosion on your left.” I turned and faced the way he had been running. I simulated being startled by an explosion and turned to my right.

“Nice imitation of a running MAN.”

“Hm. I don’t know.” Sawyer said. “I would have figured that if it were a homicide the killer might have knocked him out before putting him under a falling tree. It seems pretty risky trying to kill a man with a tree. What if it missed him? That’s a lot of preparation…”

“Exactly. A lot of preparation. Somebody planned it. And they weren’t trying to pull a harmless prank. Maybe that’s what they wanted it to look like. Who would plan on rigging a tree to fall just for fun?”

“The Tree Hater’s Club?” Acker said and pulled out a cheroot.

“We’ll see if any activist group claims this.”

“They may not.” Joe spoke up. “If they hadn’t planned on killing anyone they may not claim it for fear of hurting their cause.”

“Like tree hugging?”

“Anyway, somebody wanted that tree down. Either it was a pointless prank; a political statement of some kind or some one was aiming to deliberately drop a tree on Mr. Hawkes. I don’t care. It was definitely deliberate and whoever they are we got them at least on Reckless Endangerment.”

I looked at my watch. “Lets go to Northwest Herald.” I took out my cell phone to call Lieutenant Daniels, our boss and told him what we were doing. He wasn’t there so I left a message. Joe went to tell Bulltick to help out Acker however he could and to tell him whatever information he could. I looked around for the ranking uniform. I found Sergeant Chauvana Insular eating a donut. She was as wide as she was tall. I walked over to her.

“Are you the officer in charge?”

“Hey, you’re that man who got his thingie whacked off.”

“I’m Detective Brickhouse. Did Lieutenant Perez leave?” She was looking me up and down.

“Off shift at eight. Damn! Those look real.” She reached to poke my breasts. This was not new to me and I had anticipated it in time to put my hand up.

“They are. Are you the OIC?” She shook her head.

“Lord I would never believed it. You look just like a woman.”

“Sergeant. I need the OIC, now. Are you the OIC?”

“Now, no need to get all uppity and shit. Just because you had to get your little man snipped don’t make you any better than the rest of us. In fact, I don’t give a damn what you did to yourself, I deserve respect as a woman and.. .”

“Ready to go?” Joe walked up and interrupted.

“And don’t you start getting all up in my face Mr. Man.” She started swiveling her head on her neck.

“All apologizes to my most respected sister,” Joe said and bowed slightly.

“We have to go and we’re through with the interviews here,” I said.

“Would you inform the Officer in Charge and have a fine day my sister.”

As we walked away I heard her say, “His ass ain’t so fine anyhow.”

“What was all that ‘my sister’ talk?”

“Mandisa talks that way to the women in her quilting circle.”

Day VIII – Escape

Well, I made it out of Rochelle, unfortunately without posting parts of The Larch. I'm going to do it today.

Story idea: I have an Alien Generator that I built (if I can figure it out, I'll post an example). It might be really good for designing races for a fantasy story. The story would be filled with all sorts of other races and modern machinery, except they're run by magic. Wizards are like Geek Squad and have to go around fixing things or creating new magical items. The crux is, everything is run my nanobots and the races were designed by genetic engineers.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day VII - D'OH!

I had to wait an hour to use the hotel computer only to find that it won't read from the USB port.

For those who know, my thumbdrive troubles continue. For those of you who don't know, when I was in Afghanistan I was issued a thumbdrive (memory stick, external USB drive...) and it died on me. I didn't do anything to it, it just died. I had a second one that MJ had given me. It died (it was old to begin with). Then I got another one and it, you guessed it died. When I got back to the states I got one for myself. It died. There must be something about my aura or personal magnetic field.

Well, I think this time it's just because this computer hasn't had the driver installed for that port and I don't have the authority to add it.

If you think all this is an elaborate excuse for not posting excerpts from The Larch, you may be right. I am going to try to post it later, when I get home. In case I don't I have all my excuses in place.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Day VII - Rochelle Day

Blogging will be light today, because I'm in a hotel in Rochelle, IL.

Never heard of Rochelle? Don't blame you. It's the "Hub City" because five railroads go through here. "Go through" being the operative words. None of them stop. I hope this site doesn't become a hub city.

Anyway, I haven't found "Dream Police" yet. I'm thinking about posting a couple of chapters of the detective novel I'm working on. It's called The Larch and the POV and main detective is a post-operative transexual. Would you like to see it?

Friday, July 28, 2006

"New" Short Story

This is a recent photo of me. I wanted to post it so I could change my image on my profile.

This short story is from a challenge put forth by Major John of Miserable Donuts fame. We were waiting for our flight out of Kyrgyzstan and were sitting around smoking cigars and starting to reminisce about our "Time in the 'Stan" when MJ suggested that we write stories about Vasco da Gamma (the name of the cigars we were smoking). On the plane, with my batteries fading I wrote this. I was the only one who wrote a story.

I don't think it ever appeared anywhere and I just recently found it (while looking for a story called "Dream Police" which I will post as soon as I find it).

“The Wreck of the Vasco da Gamma”

“Come listen startrippers
to the da Gama’s sad tale:
a crew of a thousand
and nukes for a sail.
A ship with no ocean, a beach without sand
a planet ‘round Procyon she was destined to land


Vasco da Gama race far away
One tenth ‘c’, a century and a day
Da Gama, da Gama where have you gone?
Earth’s sons and daughters may never know.”

“Captain Andre we’ve had no response from our call to the VdG. We did pick up a likely candidate in orbit around the fifth planet. That planet seems to have life as well.”

“Life, hm? First things first, Ms Diaz make a course for intercept with the probable. Once we’ve linked with the VdG we’ll turn our attention to the natives.”

The Flor de Copan’s engines fired and she turned away from the wormhole nexus. The FdC was the first of the new superluminals, finally making use of wormholes to reach the stars in less than generations. Of course the first mission for the new technology was to discover what became of the old technology.

Days later the FdC approached within visual range of the asteroid turned space habitat turned starship. The VdG looked alive and functioning, but she answered no calls. The FdC’s crew of five made ready to dock with the much larger ship.

“Captain, we’ve been receiving radio signals from the planet.”

“Are they trying to contact us?”

“They are definitely of intelligent origin, but I can’t translate. I have the computer working on it. It seems like a lot of traffic. I don’t think it is specifically for us.”

The VdG was looked somewhat like an American football with a rough brown skin and two tapered ends along the long axis. At one end was the machinery of the nuclear reactors that acted as engines. At the other end were huge mirrors that took in the needed heat and light from the engines to keep the colony ship alive. As the FdC approached the mirrors were aimed at the star Procyon. They moved to the dock near the mirrors.

As the two ships communicated and brought themselves together four of the FdC’s crew were crowded at the window before pilot Ruiz.

“Do you see charring?”

“It looks like there were explosions there.”

“The docking system and hatch work fine.”

“Did anyone see any damage anywhere else?” Captain Andre asked and received negative responses.

“Jaeger and Tomar get your suits on. You’re coming with me.”

Within minutes the three were standing in the VdG’s airlock. There were burn marks and dents there too, but everything was functional. The readings on their suits told them that the atmospheric controls were working in content and temperature. This was confirmed a moment later when the inner door slid open to reveal a slender young woman in a tunic, sandals and a heavy metal collar.

“It’s a trap!” She managed to say before a wrench of pain gripped her face and her hands went up to the collar. Before they could reach her she was dead on the floor.

Behind her stood three, bear-sized, fur covered dinosaurs with weapons in their hands. Their lipless mouths and conical teeth looked like they were in permanent smile.

“Welcome to Procyon V.” They hissed in passable Portuguese. “We will take your ship now.”

Day VI – Horror Story Idea

I've been reading S. T. Joshi's A Subtler Magick and I came up with an idea for a story. It would be a cross between the Walmart invasion and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (by H. P. Lovecraft).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Epiphany" A Short Story

"Maggie!" Josh ran out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist.

"Josh, you're dripping."

"I've got it."


His eyes searched the ceiling while his eyebrows and lips danced. "I, can't, remember."

"Finish your shower honey, you're dripping."

He waddled back into the bathroom, careful not to slip on the tiles.

It didn’t hit him as soon as the water hit. It took a while to sink in. He stood, steaming, holding the bar of soap. His eyes flitted over the tiles, but his vision searched the membranous shadows of his mind. The idea approached, unbidden from behind and engulfed him in light.

"I've got it!"

He snatched the curtain back, grabbed the towel, stepped out and called again, "Maggie! I've got it!"

His second foot slid on the tile. He grabbed the towel bar to steady himself, tore it out of the wall, but managed to stay upright.

When she came in he had the towel in one hand and the bar in the other.

"What did you do?"

"I slipped." He grimaced at the pain in his back caused by the sudden, awkward moves.

"Are you okay?"

"Fine." He stared at he holes in the wall.

"Why did you call me?" She asked, arms akimbo.

"Dang, I forgot again."

"I know how to get it back though."

In the shower it came to him again, quicker this time, brighter, clearer.

He called over the falling water, "Get a pen and pad! Quick the water's getting cold."

Day V – But If I Don't Have My Health…

I have volunteered to design a form to solicit donations for our Girl Scout's spaghetti dinner due Sunday, committed myself to blogging here everyday, an APFT to train for next Sunday, a family reunion Saturday, a major project due for work in August, a first draft of a short story due Sunday, a MV contest story due next Sunday, new glasses to pick up, committed to studying Greek daily, a FLIPL due next Sunday, my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wife to murder and Guilda to frame for it. I'm swamped.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Day IV – Now I Need to Fix It

This is the first page of what I have so far for the MV publishing project (I think that because this is only an excerpt that may be thrown out completely I can get away with posting it here).

My brother had mentioned that my writing often resembles the script for a radio play. I think that's what's wrong with this. I try to show more than tell, maybe too much. If I follow Edgar Allen Poe's advice and stay within theme and mood I should be able to cover more time (I have been writing Flash like a prose haiku, all in one instant) and say what I'm trying to say. Now that I've identified the problem I can fix it.

It's raining today. That makes me want to write horror, but I'll stick to this.

>>"Lest Too Light Winning Make the Prize Light"

"Sir, I hate these state dinners." Captain Trinculo Tarun pulled at the stiff collar around his bullneck.

"An officer is also a diplomat, Captain Tarun." Major Zedong Foolendu took a forkful of food and smiled to his junior across the table.

The woman Major Foolendu had been assigned to escort sat directly across the table and to the young captain's left. Her name was Menaka Miranda, the daughter of Falkland's ruler, Huxley Pramesh. The way her wings fluttered gracefully each time she used her utensils enraptured the major.

"I just think this is a waste of time when we could be out fighting." Tarun said quietly.

"Fighting whom? Do you know your enemy?" Menaka asked.

"Miss Miranda, we have been briefed." Captain Tarun looked to his major for support.

Major Foolendu took another forkful of food and smoothed his thick red moustache. He watched the breeze play with Menaka's gossamer hair. The long table was perched among thick branches high in the tree of the Royal Aerie. The uncovered window of the space habitat was behind her and the setting sun played with her silky mane.

Menaka put down her fork and turned to Tarun. "Just what were you briefed? Did they tell you that Ambuda Nguyen is the leader of a street gang who can be rounded up like a common criminal?"

Tarun puffed his prodigious chest. "We ARE the Dravidian Guard. We are the finest regiment in the world of Medelhan."

"Ah, but you're not in Medelhan." She caught the way Major Foolendu's red eyes watched her and she blushed. She looked down for a moment and regained her composure. "You aren't in Medelhan, you're in Falkland, and you are walkers."

Just then they were interrupted by a tone that meant that the king was about to speak. King Pramesh sat at the center of the table on a raised perch.

"Friends. We wish to welcome and thank the Dravidian Guard of Medelhan and Ambassador Gonzalez for responding so quickly to our request for aid. We would also like to thank them for bringing with them our own Ambassador to Medelhan, and my brother, Ashok."

There was polite applause and both ambassadors waved slightly.<<

That's funny. This paragraphicated just fine. I don't know why Reach Out didn't.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day III - I've Got It!

There is a forum on Mirable Visu for people working together to try to get published in Outercast. I signed up for it and the theme is Brave New World (like the book).

My idea is that there is a spabitat (space habitat) in the future where they use genetic engineering to put people into castes. If you have an unregistered child, then that child doesn't get genetically screened or engineered. That child is then an outercast and ineligible for government aid or citizenship. The people are happy and well adjusted because they are all doing jobs that they are adept at.

The purpose of the castes is only to give you an advantage in a certain profession. There are no restrictions on a social level. People live in long houses that have a sort of extended family in them. Everyone in the family could be a different caste.

When you apply to have a child you can choose the caste to which that child will belong (something like having one child who is a jock and one who is a brain...).

The story will be about a peacekeeping force from this world (spabitats are called worlds) is sent to another world based of a request from that world's government. It includes an ambassador and a military contingent. The regimental XO falls in love with a local national from the second world. Because she is an outworlder she is automatically an outercast and unable to have registered children. Therein lies the conflict for the protagonist.

Whatdya think?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day II - Won't Get Fooled Again

Boy, I really got the itch now. Here's some stuff:

1. Magic system in which all black magic is balanced by white magic (like Ying and Yang). What most people assume is that the black magic is bad and white is good (this isn't necessarily true). The story(ies) is(are) about a Black wizard who is good (as a child his(her) family offered him(her) up to a senior Black wizard to keep his(her) family safe) and uses black magic for good (this of course means that there must be a bad White wizard, but who is (s)he?)

2. Mirable Visu Contest Story Ideas (continued): The Bellwether's asteroid broke chunks of itself off and rained them on Earth so it could body snatch in order to better enjoy the terror of the destruction it'll bring. The chunks absorb the brain/mind of the hitee and assume their identity. It also allows it to understand the limitations of humans (won't get fooled again).

3. Fermi Paradox possible explanation: Life is a curse, an infestation that must be kept isolated (quarantined) on Earth. The true gift is intellect. There is non-life intellect out in the universe and it is trying to keep life on earth. The disembodied intellect may have been life before that transcended life or it may have arisen somehow from non-life.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Philosophy Day 1 (minus yesterday, which doesn’t really count)

Okay so I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. The first day out of the box I didn’t write on the blog. That’s because it was Saturday and I mainly do (shhh, don’t tell anybody) most of my web stuff at work.

I am working with my brother on some Pod movies he wants to do, so he wanted me to write some very short plays. I wrote one about a door-to-door sales man/woman.

I have another play I’m working on that has two superheroes in a Dr.’s office filling out paperwork.

I am also working on a story for a contest on Mirabile Visu. The contest is limited to 750 words. The themes are Transformation and Space with the added challenge of horror.

What is being transformed? A person is too obvious. Should it be society or something similar?

I want to make it Lovecraftian like “Alone” or “Bellwether’s Asteroid.” I was thinking of “what if the creature from Bellwether broke apart and fell to earth as a meteor shower and the pieces each possessed a person?” I think that’s what I’m going to go with.

Friday, July 21, 2006

New Philosophy!

That's it, new philosophy here. I am going to post everyday, weather I have anything to say or not. I want to draw more readers so I'm going to post random writing thoughts and stuff. I HOPE I get some feedback.

At first I didn't want to push the "Reach Out" excerpts too far down, but I looked at "Creating Family Websites for Dummies" "Writing a Good Blog" entry and they said to write everyday.

SOOO, now the idea is to keep it fresh, keep the readers coming back, and maybe I'll get some comments and people will read the book chapters.

Wish me luck.


PS: Bruce!

PPS: Beer!