Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nightmares of Katrina 18

I slipped under for only a moment, freed from the need to stand against the raging current I was able to better orient myself, to find a better footing, to better place myself and rise again.

As my head broke the surface I realized that the dark, slimy, viscus waters were perfectly clear below, I had been able to see as clearly as through a rain cleaned sky.  I had seen Brown, her head dragged under by one of the creatures, barreling toward me.  But I had seen others as well, I had seen other people and other things, swimming, turning, churning seemingly through open space.

I also realized as I hadn't before that the building was full of people.  Had only the floorspace been available it would have been standing room only, wall to wall.  With the wall and ceiling space used, they had room to dance and gyrate; as well as fight off their attackers.

None of them seemed to be able to fight them off, presumably because they were not focused on that task, abandoned as they were to the rapture.  I saw that there were far more creatures than I had ever expected and something that really didn't sink in at that time because of the brevity of my glimpse, but I saw that once a devotee was completely ensnared and wrapped in tentacles, the capturer and the victim began to disappear.

As I regained the surface I was aware that I had planted my feet and stood upright on the wall beside the door by which we had entered, the gravity of Earth no longer with any meaning in that cavernous, gyroscopic well.  I was well braced between the jamb and some sort of sconce as I prepared to receive the writing mass of Private Brown and her tormentor.

Her head surfaced and I saw, no I heard her singing, chanting at the top of her lungs, sputtering and spurting water and chords.  She was lost to the passion again, oblivous to the tentacle that wrapped itself around her throat and mouth.

I tensed and I launched myself at the pair.  Our velocities combined and we struck with tremendous force.  I had been braced for it, the creature was not.  I still had my Gerber multitool in hand and I drove it into the tentacle around Brown's throat.  It withdrew and I struck again, this time against the creature's body.  It was massive and thick, but not as strong as I had anticipated.  It writhed and fought, but I was able to make blow after blow land and take a physical toll.  I twisted and pulled, bit and struck.

Suddenly the combination bore fruit and I had Brown free.  The creature realized it a scant moment after I had, but I moved first and decisively.  I turned her to get myself between the creature and the Private, nearly throwing her out of the water.

It wasn't until that very moment and action that I realized that I had been fighting subaquisly for several minutes and my air had run out.  Sparkly tunnels of darkness began to strangle my vision.  I got my feet below me and stood to clear my head into the air.

I found I was standing on or near the ceiling and the atmosphere was not much dryer than the water had been.  There was so much humidity and spray in the air that I could barely breathe or see.  Brown was mercifully close, nearly floating on her back, and I snatched her up into my arms, ready to fight off another attack, but the creature had gone off to find a more suseptable victim.  I saw it moving against the current.

All the creatures, when they moved they moved against the current of the spherical eddy.  I made three realizations, that I had no idea how to get down from a ceiling that disobeyed the law of gravity flagrantly; that although we had won a localized victory against one creature, the battle raged on from water to creature to air, at an even more fevered pitch, cressendoing past all reason; and finally, I realized that Doctor Zoe was no longer on my hip.

Where Are the Boys?

I've read all I have of Boys of St. Leonard's.  It's less than I thought there was.  I did a bit of skipping around when I wrote what I wrote so I not only have to finish the book, I have to fill in the blanks.

This is actually very exciting since there were some problems that I now know how I want to fix.  I don't know if they are the right fixes, but I know what I want to try.

One thing I realized when reading this is that the problem I have with writing mysteries is that I can make a plan and get the characters started, but sometimes I have trouble making them do what I need to to get the story done right.  I suppose that's why there are so many cardboard characters in mysteries.

Anyway, I'm happy that I have at least gotten this step done.  I hadn't even gotten this far with the last book I tried to edit (Seekretya) last March.

I thought I should post an update since the only way to make sure I get this done is to be beholden to someone/something about it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nightmares of Katrina 17

The eye of a hurricane is the calm, the safe place, but to get to it you have to go through the eye wall, the most deadly, destructive, powerful part of the storm.

I dragged Doctor Zoe into the chapel expecting sanctuary, a kind of eye in the temporal, physical, psychic storm.  I found nothing of the kind, no shelter from the mayhem nor our pursuers.

The foetid, slimy waters of the street flowed muscularly into the building bringing all their chaos and swimming monsters that could only be of another world, another aspect of our universe, one in which the beauty and wonder of life are dark and base.  Two of the creatures flowed through the doorway as soon as I put it past me and torpedoed deeper into the ruinous edifice.

I watched as they went by swimming as my mind swam in the sights, smells, sounds, and what I could only describe as a tactile sensation of time being stretched and distorted.  My mind followed them deep into the building.

Deeper and deeper it went, the interior of that building.  In New Orleans no building had a basement, so what was I observing, how could such a building, euclidean on the exterior be so alien within?  The floor dropped away and the waters swirled around the concave bowl of the chapel, carrying chanters, whisking them away as they still danced, sang and played.

The whirlwind, whirlpool within spun all around the hollowed interior from that chasmic floor up the walls, onto and over the vault of the ceiling high above, all studded with acolytes.  In all the known universe, the wind the air, the planets, the stars, the galaxies themselves all spin on the plane, spin round a circular epicenter.  This was like none other, spinning as it did in the spherical.  How such a thing could occur I could never fathom nor even imagine if I had not witnessed it my very self.

This was no two dimensional vortex in a three dimensional world, but a three dimensional one which must have twisted four or more dimensions.  It was all I could think of in the din and roar of the waters, air, pipes and throats.

Amid all the swirling flashed lightning and the past and future.  Mixed into the cacophony of those ill-tuned instruments and adulational ululations were screams as the tentacled beasts made their attacks, dragging the choir within the waters forcibly.  They must have past us after spying the target rich environment of the maelstrom.

I slowly, painfully, was forced into realizing the Doctor on my hip.  In my adrenaline addled state I had become completely unaware that I was carrying her bodily.  The pull of the vortex tugged at my legs and I was slowly succumbing to it, but additionally my shoulder blade sent pain signals to my brain as Zoe pounded on my back to get my attention.  She was also screaming in my ear.

"My leg is broken.  My leg is broken!"

"What?"  I asked her, with complete absence of understanding.

"Don't put me down.  Don't let go!"

My feet slipped, the current pushed me, my attention was drawn away again.  I had spotted Brown, there above us, over head, swirling on the ceiling.

She was throwing her arms around her head, she sang with all the gusto of an enraptured soul.  Parts of her uniform had been torn away by the howling wind, by the slashing waves.  Everyone in that wailing pandemonium was being declothed by forces shearing against them.

I stood as solidly as I could, clinging tightly to the woman on my side, yet struggling against twisting consciousness to attempt complex thought and planning.  How could I reach Brown, how could I get both the women out, out of this.

What was this?  Where, if where was even a concept that could be applied to the situation, where were we, and how did it relate to our world, the world which I had to return.  Was our world still out there?

My eyes swam round and round as my brain screamed courses of action hysterically, desperately.  I searched for what my own mind could not supply, for an answer.

I saw there at the center of it all, a glimmer of the eye.  The eye of this storm was clear, elemental, galactic, a perfect glimpse at the heart of the universe itself.  Then the thought struck me that I was not at all sure it was our universe.

A particular, individual scream struck the consciousness of my senses.  It was Brown.  The currents were swinging her directly towards us, but she had three tentacles wrapped round her.

It had brought her to a realization of reality and she screamed my name.

Zoe screamed beside me as well, "We're going under, don't drop me, don't let go!"

And I slipped beneath the waves.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Path to the End of 2011

I put forth the question:  "Which book should I work on and get to a publisher by the end of the year?"  I gave you five choices to vote on, and I got 16 answers.  That's not bad for one of my polls.

The choices and results were:
Eve's Christmas Eve Adventure
Reach Out
Guya Principal
Boys of Saint Leonard's
St. Leonard's is the clear winner, and I'd be happy to do that one.

My wife, however, voted for Eve's Christmas Eve Adventure, so I'm inclined to do what she says.  She told me that I can do whatever I want, but I’m conflicted.  Of course I don’t want to ignore the voters, and I want to do what my wife says, and I want to do St. Leonard’s.

I think I will try to do both.  I will work on both of them.  I suspect I will be able to finish Eve before the end of the year, and I will have to continue BoSL into next year, but that will be alright.

Thank you so much my voters.  I hope you also continued on and read some of the older posts or maybe, dare I hope; the whole blog?

There is one more thing, aside from the fact that I will have to finish Nightmares of Katrina.

I am going to have to set in my mind that writing is my second job, no, I’m going to have to set my mind that my job at Abbott is my second job, and that my writing is my real career.

What would a boss expect?  Daily output, working every day, producing results, certainly.  I will have to provide those if I am going to get anywhere with all of this.

This is not a hobby, Rugby is a hobby, Ukulele is a hobby. 

Exercise in all it’s guises is a way of life, a lifestyle.  It’s what I must do to physically live.

Scouts is my vocation, my duty to the community of mankind. It is what I must do to spiritually live.

Being a good father and husband is what I am, I cannot be any other way.

Abbott pays the bills, but it is neither my soul nor my life.  It facilitates me, it doesn’t define me.

I am an artist and writing is my career.  I best start ACTING accordingly.

Nightmares of Katrina 16

The sky grew dark and the rain was starting to fall.  As Hurricane Rita made herself known I felt a sinking feeling in the bottom of my gut.

Doctor Kin in the cab of the truck that splashed along the soggy streets toward a questionable destination, following unspeakable submerged creatures, chanted along with the beckoning tones, possibly enraptured as Private Brown unquestionably was.

"Kin, Kin!"  Zoe shouted at our driver while pounding on the roof of the cab.  "He's going to take us straight to that chapel."  She announced.

I agreed, but pointed out that we needed to follow Brown and get her out.

"I'm not convinced he'll let us get back out again."

While we followed Brown I spied several people slipping in the dark open maw of the chapel's undoored doorway.  Brown sang at the top of her lungs, skipping oblivious.  The two huge forms followed in twin wakes behind her, gaining on her as the rain fell harder.

"We need to go faster, get Brown," I said.  Zoe pointed out that the fastest way to the chapel was in the bed of our very truck, as long as we were headed toward the chapel we would have no problems.

Just then lightning flashed across the sky, stretching and bending time, everything was out of proportion, distances wrong.

We were further away from the chapel, yet closer to Brown, then she stretched further away, sliding ahead without ever changing speed.

It all snapped back, tentacles reached from the water, grasping for Brown who headed pell- mel for chapel with nary a care.

"Go, now, faster!"  I shouted.  Kin was oblivious to me, but I got the impression that he was not only aware of Private Brown's plight, but that it held great interest to him, that it was of some import that she got to the cursed building.  He slammed the gas pedal to the floor.  Water sputtered and sprayed as the tires tried in vain to accelerate to match Kin's urgency.  It threw Zoe and myself back onto the floor of the truck bed.

More tentacles reached up and over the sides of the truck, there must have been an uncountable number of the creatures.  Kin sang at the top of his lungs, the notes from the chapel penetrated my chest and vibrated the truck.  I could see ripples in the water from the sound waves.  High, sharp notes pierced our ears and the sky.  Lightning flashed revealing eye stalks mixed in with the grasping tentacles.  We were moving too fast for them, were too heavy.

We barrelled ahead, Brown raced, arms and legs churning, pumping.  The creatures could not get a grip, could not slow us down.

Suddenly I was sitting in my own hummer, straining to hear the music, but it was there faint and distant, but there.  It's rhythm matching the rhythm of the music Kin sang in the truck that now carried me to the chapel.  I shook my head to clear it.

"The time flux is getting worse," Zoe mouth spoke from beneath wild eyes.  Chief Mac answered from her front seat, "What?"

I closed my eyes tightly, then reopened them, my mother was leaning over me singing, singing in a language I did not understand.

Then it snapped back, Doctor Kin singing along with the unmistakable music and chanting.  The rhythm was the thread that wove through all the dreams, tying them together, keeping them all in sync.  All of time oscillated on the carrier wave of that accursed tune.

When I focused on the song, letting the music fill my head I could feel myself being pulled along, down into the rhythms, the tones, the beat, the chords...

Until Doctor Zoe called to me, "Major!"  She slapped me.  That brought me back.  The chant was the link, but it was doom as well.

One of the tentacles had a-hold of Zoe's leg, "Help me!"

I reached out and grabbed at it.  The fur was thick and hard like frozen grass.  I kept one hand on it and pulled my multitool out with the other.  Zoe and I struggled against the pull of the hideous grasping creature until I could managed to get my Gerber out.

I couldn't get it open in time so I just used the hard metal to slam against the tentacle.  The shock made it release.  Zoe dove across the bed helped by the fact that the truck had hit a bump.

Zoe landed on me.  I grabbed her and twisted to the side.  We ran over other creatures and the truck came to a stop.

"He's gone!"  Zoe shouted into my ear.

I turned and saw that the truck door was open and Kin was running the now few paces to the chapel.  Brown had entered ahead of him.

"Follow, follow!"  Zoe said, "The only place away from them is the chapel."

I could hardly think, hear or move.  I was still being crushed and tugged by the music, like the current of a class 5 rapids dashing me against the rocks of my sanity.

"Get us in the chapel now!"

Going in the chapel, yes, I had to go in the chapel, Zoe and the chant agreed, and go I must.

Though she was not a small woman, in one confused and adrenaline driven effort I lifted myself and Zoe up out of the truck and landed on my feet in the water beside it.

"Get out of the water, get inside!"  She shouted at me, I had no time or presence of mind to think why she needed me to carry her.  She was Chief Mac, and my mother, it all swam around and around like a whirlpool being sucked into a sink hole.  I could not think why so I carried her, on my hip as I ran the few steps into that chapel of horrors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You Vets!

Happy Veterans's Day and thank you to all the vets and their families!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nightmares of Katrina 15

As I was ripped from the tree's grasp, as the too blue sky whizzed past my vision I managed to catch a glimpse of what had yanked me bodily into the air, what tremendous power was treating me like a rag doll, completely at it's mercy.
It was a woman.

More specifically it was a woman standing in the bed of a pickup truck with a rope. She had caught me in a loop in the rope as they drove by. The power that was pulling me was the truck. She pulled on the rope as I flew and maneuvered me into to land on my upper back in the bed beside her.

"You alright?" She asked, looking down at me. I couldn't speak at first, having just had the wind knocked out of me. I nodded.

"You after that girl?" She asked. Again, I nodded. "You got to stay out of the water, there are things in there."

She had a New England accent. She was a healthy, fit middle aged woman with a farmgirl build and straw colored hair under a faded Boston College cap. She told me her name, I'll call her Doctor Zoe because she was a Biologist from Boston College who had come down to study the affects of the storm and flood on the biology of the area. When she arrived she found that she was blocked from entering as a scientist until the area had been secured and cleaned up. She joined a volunteer group. She was part of a larger group of animal collection and control. They were the same group I had originally encountered, but her group was involved in collecting and rescuing non-domesticated species.

The man driving the truck was another scientist. It was his truck and he had convinced Zoe to make the run they were on. I'll call him Doctor Kin since he was a Physicist. I had no idea why a Physicist was involved in collecting animals, but I was in no position to argue.

I asked what she meant about things in the water, if she meant microbes. She replied in the negative. There were much larger things, she had seen them once or twice before in the past two weeks, but this day she had seen several and moving much more, obviously.

I asked what she thought they could be, she didn't have time to answer because just at that point I had spotted Brown again.

"There!" I shouted, "We have to get her back."

Zoe told me to sit and knocked on the back window of truck. The small window was open and through it she told the driver to turn right at the end of the block.

"They aren't like anything I've ever seen," she told me.

I asked how much of them she had seen. She said that she had not seen much above the water, but the size and what looked like fur did not seem to go together. She mumbled something about tentacles, but was very hesitant about that.

I told her that I had seen one out of the water.  I described it for her in as much detail as the urgency of the bouncing truck would allow.

She stared gape-mouthed at me. The only thing she could say was, "Really?"

I asked her what she thought they could be. I had to ask her again, she seemed to be off in her own mind. Finally on the third try she came around to me again, "I have no idea," she managed.

I asked her where she thought they could have come from and she shook her head.

"I think I know how they got here though." I said and told her that it looked like the one I saw just materialized.

"I wonder," she said. She told me just the other day that she and Kin had been talking about the weird things going on, about how the time and spaces didn't seem right.

"I noticed that too," I interjected.

She said that she had suggested to Kin that it was almost like friction, like our universe was rubbing against something and the uneven friction was causing the time to go faster or slower depending on how the two things rubbed and jumped between each other. She thought that they could be distorting each other too.

She said that Kin thought that it was nonsense. He didn't suggest an alternative or an explanation, just told her it was ridiculous. When she pressed him, and told him that she had read something about the universe being a bubble inside of other bubbles he laughed and asked her if it wouldn't be just as reasonable to think that maybe our universe was just a giant gas bubble inside the gut of some trans-dimensional monster, and the titan had just taken an antacid.

"He's very odd about it," she said," I know he's considering it seriously, but it's like he knows something and he's hiding it."

I asked her, "Do you think it could have anything to do with these creatures appearing? Do you think he might know something about that?"

She looked at the back of his head through the window. "If he did, he wouldn't tell us. There she is!" She shouted this last as she jumped up in the bed of the truck. She had spotted Brown skipping through knee deep water. Everywhere here it seemed to be flooded, though before there had been patches of higher ground that were clear.

Zoe tapped on the window. Kin shouted, "I see her, let me just get around these trees." She sat down as he slowly drove around some downed trees in the road.

"Brown!" I shouted, she showed no sign of hearing, or caring. She didn't look like she was following any dog anymore. She seemed to be gleefully skipping off to some predetermined location. I shouted again, and again.

Zoe didn't join me, instead she put her hand on my shoulder, "Wait, do you hear that?"

Above the slosh of the truck's tires and beyond the distant splashing of Private Brown's skipping I heard the music again, if it could be called music. Now it sounded more urgent, more pleading and calling. The pan pipes were more pronounced and the rhythm quicker.

Brown seemed to hear it too, and it drew her quicker. I could see her laughing and her skipping changed to running.

We came around a particularly large tree and Zoe pointed ahead, "Look!" She pointed at the dark waters behind Brown and how they bulged menacingly with the portent of two pursuers. The things we had seen and only glimpsed were clearly and purposely following the Private who obliviously ran forward.

I looked ahead to see where it was she was so intently heading and saw several streets converging on a corner where prominently stood a brick building. Though it had no markings as such and no actual steeple, it clearly had been a chapel. All around it were littered vehicles, but not like we had seen before. These were much less damaged and some seemed to still be running. There were others there too, other people moving toward the chapel, and they all seemed to be singing.

Then I heard the strangest thing I had that very queer day, I heard Kin humming the same distorted tune in the front of the cab.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I Need Your Help to Finish My Novel!

The first thing is I need to decide which novel to finish.

I have talked with Mrs. Prop and we decided that instead of writing another NaNoWriMo novel at a break neck pace and with no regard to quality.  I know I can do that and it doesn't really get me any further to becoming a published author at this point.

I need to take the next step.

I have tried to edit these novels before, but I have run into problems.  I think what I need to do it dedicate the same amount of time I would have to write a new novel, to fixing one of these.  I've given myself to the end of the year and since I don't have to meet NaNo's deadline of 30 November, I can start later as well.

For the next week I'll leave a poll on the blog where I'm begging you to vote.  Which novel should I finish?

Here they are with some comments:

Eve's Christmas Eve Adventure
A children's Christmas novel in 12 chapters designed to be read one chapter a night around Christmas.  It was the first one I did.  Ultimately I'd like to record CDs of this and hand them out as Christmas presents.

Reach Out
This is a YA (young adult) SciFi novel.  It was the first one I wrote for NaNoWriMo.  It has a very truncated ending.

Guya Principal
This was the second "finished" NaNo novel.  It is a SciFi comedy and it's sort of aimed at teen to adults.  It too has a truncated ending.  I think I want to change the ending though.

Boys of Saint Leonard's
Mystery novel.  This is not finished, but it is probably the best written so far.  I really love these characters and I'm dying to write a mystery, but I'm not sure I really well equiped for it.

I finished this NaNo last year.  Like all my NaNo novels it's ending is truncated, but it's further along than the others.  It is a YA Fantasy novel and in addition to the novel I did a lot of world building for this one.  All that world building can be found here on this blog.  This was also the novel I tried to edit last March, but I never really got through a complete critical reading of it.

PLEASE vote on the poll on right, and comment on this post.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

2011 Resolutions - Fourth Quarter Review


1. Waist - 36
Q1 - From 41 to 38
Q2 - Loose 38s
Q3 - My belts and pants are really too loose, my wife and kids have started to mention how my pants look gathered at the waist. I can fit into my old suits well now
Q4 - Bought new pants and 36s fit noticeably better than 38s. Was measured at my health screening with my shirts on at 36

2. Weight - >220
Q1 - From 244 to 232
Q2 - 231
Q3 - I was right about 222 (100kg) at the lowest I checked

3. Finish P90
Q1 - Switched over to Body for Life

4. Bike commute as often as possible (75 times)
Q1 - NA
Q2 - On track
Q3 - I'm on track, and if the weather holds I should blow right through this
Q4 - DONE 2 Nov 11!

5. Walks (10k steps a day)
Q1 - Averaging 8,000
Q2 - With the bike commuting I'm up to 9,600 average.
Q3 - With bike commuting I'm up over 10k


1. Pay more attention to family finances
Q1 - I think I'm doing that.
Q2 - Started keeping track with Evernote.

2. Quarterly Dates
Q1 - We've gone out to dinner several times, but no overnights yet.
Q2 - None
Q3 - Still haven't had one, but I'm trying for mid November.

3. Game Night
Q1 - One failed attempt
Q2 - Fail
Q3 - In truth I had forgotten about this goal. The kids do like to dance with the Wii though quite a bit and now that the weather is getting dodgy they do more.

4. New Pet
Q3 - NSTR (doesn't look good)

5. Walks
Q1 - None
Q2 - None
Q3 - Have not done once this has been a total fail

Music (these are sort of in order):

1. Learn to play ukulele (the definitions are still subjective)
Q1 - Working on
Q2 - Work on memorizing 5 songs for Owasippe.
Q3 - I have about 4 or 5 songs memorized, I led a song at Reneker's closing campfire, but that was Make New Friends and it's only two chords. I still feel like I'm not doing this right and I think I'm starting to sound worse than before (I think)

2. Play with my family (both in my house and a holiday gatherings)
Q1 - Marginally successful
Q3 - It did play at camp and at g/Pete's birthday I played Wild Rover for everybody. They seemed to like it

3. RE-learn to play sax.
Q1 - NA (goal changed from harmonica)
Q2 - I think I terrible, but I'm in the band (see below)
Q3 - Decided not to continue on with the CLC band, maybe next year, I'm too busy with bike commuting and such

4. Learn to play bass
Q1 - Not yet
Q2 - Sax took over
Q3 - Pushed off to next year

5. Join a band
Q1 - Not yet
Q2 - DONE! Libertyville Village Band.
Q3 - Back out again


1. Commissioner Key
Q2 - Working on
Q3 - Working on

2. Archaeology Merit Badge Clinic
Q1 - Little done
Q2 - Talked to an Archaeologist who runs one in another district. He hadn't held one yet and promised to call me when he did
Q3 - Never went to a clinic or a mock dig. I did sign up again to be a MB counselor


1. Do NaNoEdMo in March
Q4 - Not doing NaNoWriMo so I can get this done

2. Submit my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel to a publisher
Q1 - NA - Not scheduled until after #1 above
Q2 - Not yet
Q4 - Not doing NaNoWriMo, the new goal is to edit one of my previous novels and get it to a publisher before the end of the year

3. Blogging
A. I will blog more posts this year than any previous year
Q1 - On track
Q2 - Slightly behind
Q3 - Back on track with my bike commute reports. I attempted some audio reports with mixed results
Q4 - Success - I already have more than any other year by 1 Nov 11

B. I will review and update my 2011 goals at least quarterly
Q1 - Done, here, now.
Q2 - Yep, and done again.
Q3 - A bit late, but done


1. Don't get laid off
Q1 - So far so good
Q3 - They pushed the layoffs back

2. Get a Promotion This is a Q4 thing, and I've told my boss about it
Q1 - NA
Q2 - NA
Q3 - Mrs. Prop has given me some things to apply for and I've redone my resume, but I haven't applied yet

I have some new goals. Some have developed from these and some are completely new. I'm going to record them so I don't forget. These are new and not carry-overs from 2011:

1. New Job outside ADD
2. Fix Lincoln Avenue Trail
3. One new fiction story a week (maybe I can split this between fiction and Papa stories)
4. Learn sax and get back in both the Libertyville Band and the CLC band
5. P90X or Insanity
6. 100 Bike commutes
7. Learn bass
8. Earn the right to write a NaNoWriMo by making 3 novel submissions by November

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everybody!

I can't believe October is over and ten months of 2011 are over.  I'm not ready.  I'm on a roll with Nightmares of Katrina.  I had hoped to climax on Halloween, but I missed that.

I was trying to commute to work by bike 75 times this year before the end of October.  Though I went again today, my 73d and I will make 75 this year, I didn't do it before the end of October.  If the weather goes bad I'm done.  Then at the end of November we are being moved to a building who's only entrance is off a highway.  Once we move there I will not be able to commute by bike, period.

I did have a good health screening today, and I suppose I should see all this as the glass being half full.

Oh, and I have had more posts on this blog this year than any other year.  The funny thing is that even though my output has been tremendous, very little if any of it has been fiction.  I'm almost out of fiction practice.

My plan for November:  I am NOT doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I am going to edit one of the books I wrote in previous years and get it to a publisher by the end of the month.  I plan on spending as much time as I would have to write a new one, but I'm really not sure how not to cheat myself.

I can write garbage each year and do nothing with it or I can improve and better my output.  It's time to be an author not just a writer.

Oh, and since October is over, no more horror.

Happy Halloween!

Nightmares of Katrina 14

I only stood still on the porch of horrors a mere moment. A scream of anger, a wail of pain and a howl of effort ripped through the tiny house and jolted me into action, any action.

The only thing I knew I wouldn't do is go in the water. At the first beat of the bellowing I lept back to the porch from which I came. The reassuring dryness of the porch encouraged me to continue. I raced across that porch and lept to the next and the next, back to the house from which I began. The familiarity of the porch reminded me of my mission, to find my soldier and bring her back.

The confusion and indecision returned. Then I heard it, the singing. I paused, cocked my ears. It was the same as before, Islamic tones and rhythm, Gregorian progressions, but unknown language. I could hear that there were words now, but I couldn't distinguish what they were let alone what language they could be. There was something more as well. It was just starting, the sound of flutes, I suspect pan flutes because they didn't sound as sophisticated or as in tune as modern flutes.

I turned my head one way, then the other to zero in on the sound, to determine from where it came. On the second sweep my eyes slammed on the brakes of my head.

Across the street on the house facing me was a spraypainted X as we had seen earlier, but this one was queer. At first it was only a feeling I had, an unrightness about it. Then I realized. Normally they give a date at the top, the unit doing the search is identified in the left hand space, who they found in the bottom space and hazards in the right hand space.

This one had a date and time in the top space, an address on the left side, some gibberish words in the right side and on the bottom it said, "All!" The date was the day I was looking at it and the time. I couldn't be sure what time it was then so I looked down at my watch. The time on the X was the same as the time on my watch. As my wide, disbelieving eyes crept back up at the house with the X, and the distant choir grew louder my eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of a moving body, a moving, BDU clad female body splashing through the putrid water away from me.

"Brown!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, but she didn't seem to hear me.

I took a step forward, my instinct to go after her taking the initiative before my fear of the sewage slop covering the ground. My second step was hesitant so that I didn't quite launch myself off the porch, but tottered on the edge as fear lurched up and took hold of my legs.

My eyes darted away from Brown to scan the porch and yard before me. At just the instant I would have tumbled into the rancid dark waters I twisted and heaved myself toward the four foot tall fence that surrounded the yard. The fence was a sturdy wooden one with a wide handrail top. It took my weight with only a slight give. I danced along it like an NFL receiver trying to get to the tree that had fallen across the front of the yard from the parkway. Had I made the tree I might have had a chance of tip toeing along the unstable branches to the hood of a nearby car and onto another. Where I would have gone from there I knew not, but the matter was moot, since I could not even keep my balance all the way to the tree.

My arms and one leg windmilled, I gritted my teeth and strained every muscle within the planted leg to try to pull myself back upright, to no avail. As I fell my free leg seemed to have more sense than I myself had, as it instinctively found a solid, flat landing space and stuck it.

In an instant I found myself with one leg soaked and immersed to the knee.

The house of the horror released another bellow of anger from the occupant, the water moved in a tidal fashion and I put the second leg down, the better to jump back onto the fence.

I was so rattled and so anxious that I put all I had and did a standing vertical leap over the four foot fence, entangling myself in the small, downed parkway tree.

I grunted and struggled against the clinging, grabbing branches, leaves and thorns until something clasped my left wrist and wrenched me free.

I flew backwards through the air and out of the tree, yanked by some unknown force.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nightmares of Katrina 13

"Crap!" Was all I could think. There was no use calling after PFC Brown to try to get her to come back. The look in her eyes said that she was gone, immersed in the hunt, with the thrill of a chase.

"I'll go after her," I told Chief Mac and handed her my radio. I kept my cell phone, though it was likely to get wet, and had spotty reception at best, it was still a fairly good communications link.

In hindsight, going after her was the worst thing I could have done, even though it was the only thing I could do. If only we had kept a closer watch on her, if only we had realized earlier how she had been affected by the proceedings of that day, the distortion of time and space, the confusion of direction and purpose. She clearly thought that we had plenty of time, that we had nothing better to do, that this was a good use of her time and that she was tacitly approved to aid in the rescue effort, a noble task to be sure.

I vaulted the rail and landed square on the tree both the PFC and LTC had traversed. In two bouncy steps I was on the porch. It gave a rotted, spongy thud with no ring of healthy lumber. It was a sickening thump, followed by dull creaky footsteps as I walked into the house. I really had no idea where to go once inside.

Stepping inside the house was like putting your head in an open pit latrine in mid-summer, that had had several loaves of moldy bread dropped in for good measure. It took my breath and choked me so that I couldn't get another. Everything was rotting and soaked. My eyes watered and my vision swam. As my ocular senses struggled my auditory ones sudden gave clear direction with the aid of a piercing scream.

There are animal noises and human noises. Speech sounds are distinct and uniquely human. This scream was not a speech sound, but it was somehow not animal. It was short and sharp, with a direction more clear than any others I had had that day.

I followed the sound out the front of the house, onto the front porch, across to the neighbor's porch, then the next, and into the third house. I found the source of the sound, and ...

The LTC was standing in the house stone still, his mouth open with no sound coming at all, though he had been the one from which the shocking sound had come. Before him, in the middle of the moldy, foetid, rotted room whimpered a creature like I had never seen.

A dog was involved, to be sure, but it was not, had not been the one he had been chasing. This dog was large and looked like it had been healthy, probably bullying others and leading a pack of feral creatures. Though it was upright it was not standing on it's own feet, though it was alive, with a crazed, terrified look in it's poor goggling eyes, it was not making a sound.

Through the dog, that's the only way I can think to describe it, had materialized another creature. I could not begin to guess how the creature had come to be there. It was partially through the dog, but where they met they seemed to be melded together, the dog getting the worst but not the only bad mix.

This must have been one of the creatures I had seen moving through the sewage in the streets. It was several meters long, or so I guessed it had been. It was almost as wide as the dog was high along it's whole length, but I somehow got the impression that it could equally be be oriented either horizontally or vertically. The dark hide was armored and covered in coarse fur like an alligator with a the pelt of a razorback. There were several sets of appendages of varying lengths and thicknesses arranged in an unknown pattern through the middle of the overall length. Each appendage seemed a cross between the chilatinous leg of a trantula and the barbed suckered tentcle of a titanic squid, ending in bifuricated digital tentacles.

The head was protruding from the side of the dog opposite the body of the creature. It seemed to be a collection of sensory stalks, eye, antenna, ear funnel, proboscus and tongue darting narrow mouth. It was from these aardvarkesque mouths that the whimpering moaned. The creature baefully turned it's eyed stalks toward us, pleading for what I could not begin to fathom.

Given no aid from us the creature lurched and scrambled it's limbs to try to raise itself. The tentacles gathered under it's bulk and tensed to lift, yet failed. It struggled again and this time the dog gave a tiny gasp of pain. The creature smacked the dog's face and continued to attempt to lift itself.

I grabbed the LTC's arm and pulled. "Let's get the hell out."

He followed mindlessly. "Wha - wha - what was that?"

"I have no idea what it is, but I need to find my soldier. Can you help me sir?"

He was clearly of no help whatsoever. I pointed him in the direction of the street, just beyond our view, and pushed. "Get back to the others, sir! Go now!" I shouted in his ear. He heard and obeyed more because of his training than of any concious will. He stumbled forward and in the direction of the vehicles.

Standing on the porch alone, with an unknown horror in the house behind me, I struggled to know where to go, what to do next, I only knew I had to go somewhere and get my soldier back.

Nightmares of Katrina 12

After the second sighting and after the haunting half Gregorian, half Mohammedan vocals in the distance, we turned down a street that went up.

The street in question rose from the partial flood mercifully and angled up to pass over another. I was nearly overjoyed to be out of the water, though I wasn't sure why I was so shaken by what clearly must have been my imagination. I clamped my lips closed in order to not speak at all. I felt sure that anything I said for a time would not convey any semblance of leadership or conduct becoming an officer. I fully expected that my speech would be strained, high pitched, rambling and nervous, if not blasphemous.

PFC Brown kept up an excited chatter that hid my coyness anyway. She was excited about the idea of passing very near a swimming alligator. I would have been too, since I had spent some time earlier in the month looking at any body of water I passed for alligators. I say I would have been if not for the fact that I was sure that whatever it was that I saw, it was definitely not an alligator.

As we crested the overpass we saw another party, the first we had seen in nearly an hour. There were four vehicles parked on the left side of the road, two hummers and two civilian pickup trucks. The pickups were both white with animal control markings on them, though I believe they were from different jurisdictions. Near the vehicles were about six military personnel and five civilians dressed in shirts and hats denoting their authority as animal control.

Brown mentioned them as soon as we crested the rise and the Chief looked up from her map, seemingly interested.

"Let's find out what they're doing," Brown asked.

"What the hell, might as well. We're not going to find that other warehouse," the Chief said, then she asked me if it were alright with me. I was fine with it.

This part of the road was still elevated above surface level and beyond the shoulder was a waist-high wall topped with a tubular steel guard rail. We pulled up facing the first hummer. We got out and walked toward the group who were all crowding near the guard rail. They were facing the houses that lay beyond. The top of the rail was even with the top of the doorways.

The closest person in the group was a young woman in a an animal cruelty polo shirt and a concerned look. I was walking a bit ahead of my compatriots and she turned to me as we walked up.

"He'll never be able to get that dog unless he climbs over there and gets it."

I asked her what she meant and she pointed as she explained. On the porch of the dilapidated house opposite the thickest part of the group, stood what I suppose was a dog. It only fit the most basic of the requirements to be categorized as a dog, and it was mostly on the strength of the previous comment about it being a dog, and the fact that it was clearly a domestic animal, but not a cat, that I decided it was a dog. It was sickly, mangy, jittery, wet, muddy, misshapen, and oddly bred. There was a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) calling to it and reaching out.

"We're collecting up animals and bringing them to shelters," she said.

PFC Brown moved ahead to get beside the LTC. The Chief and I followed.

"He won't come," someone said.

"It's getting late," another said.

"What'll happen to him if you don't get him?" Brown asked.

"He probably won't last another night out on his own."

It didn't need to be said that his chances were a good deal less optimistic since Hurricane Rita was bearing down on us.

The LTC He was a fairly large man and despite his steel gray hair was in very good condition, I guessed he was a runner. He, like everyone else in the group was dry and fairly clean, showing that they had not been in the flood waters that day. He looked at his watch and clearly made a reluctant decision. He handed some things I surmise were valuable and/or perishable to someone nearby, grabbed the rail and hoisted himself up on it. In a few moves he was over the rail and into a tree that had fallen between the house and the street. The attitude of the tree gave him an easy passage across the tiny flooded backyard and onto the porch.

The sight of his movement made the dog freeze, shiver violently and then dart into the open back door of the house just as the LTC set foot on the porch.

"Shit!" The LTC said. He darted into the house after the dog.

The house was what could be called a shotgun. It was designed with a long hall from the front of the house to the back, all on one floor. It was small enough, so the saying goes that a shotgun blast could sweep from one end to the other.

The Chief and I watched intently to see if we could tell where the dog went. Suddenly it darted out the front, onto that porch and lept to a neighboring house. The LTC was still searching the first house.

"I don't think he's ever going to catch that dog," Chief Mac said. I was inclined to agree with her.

I said, "Okay, let's go. Where's Private Brown?"

It was only then that we both noticed that she had followed the LTC across the tree and was on the porch about to enter the house.

I called to her to return.

"I got to help catch that dog," she said and advanced, disappearing into the house.

"I'll get her," I said, and as I said it I began to regret the need for it. The regret would only grow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nightmares of Katrina 11

When we left the Convention Center the Chief was determined, anxious, confused and frustrated. She had planned this trip with plenty of time to do everything and now time did not seem to be on our side.

I was rattled. Though our radios and cell phones still did, the satellite phones didn't work and I didn't know how to get them fixed. I still wasn't sure where we were or where we were going, and how we were getting there. The heat had me soaked and partched, despite the fact that at each of our stops we had watered up with commercial bottled water. The thing I had almost seen kept nagging at my memory, I don't know if it was because I vaguely, hauntingly remembered glimpsing something like it before, or because it was wholly unlike anything I had ever experienced. I busied myself between the map and my watch. I wasn't about to be caught off guard by the time at least, or so I determined.

PFC Brown was different. She had been fairly quiet and attentive to the Chief. Wherever Chief Mac told her to go she went with hardly a comment, but a dutiful, "Yes, ma'am."

Now she brought up my aleged sighting again. "I wonder what that was you saw sir."

"I probably didn't see anything, maybe some floating Spanish moss."

She didn't seem to think so, "Didn't you say it swam away? Did it come up and down?"

I tried not to think about it, so I didn't answer her, but it didn't dissuade her from continuing the conversation without me. She suggested it was some sort of domestic animal, maybe a ferret or another more exotic pet. She told us of her pets at home. It was clear that she missed them. She was so young that she still lived at home with her family, and there were several more animals in the house, but a particular dog and cat seemed to be hers alone. She mixed wondering if they were being well cared for, with wondering if we would see my cryptozoophyte. She was excited to be trying different routes, most with at least some water on them.

I wondered aloud if going through the water were a good idea since we really didn't know how deep it was. The Chief agreed and said we wouldn't go down streets unless we could clearly see that we would not be swamped under.

We kept a sharp eye out. In a way it emboldened the Private to go down streets with water, where she avoided them as a rule. Now the rule had changed and she seemed to joyfully plunge forward.

After what my watch told me was just under an hour and my memory told me was far less we heard the distant sound of choral singing.

"Do you hear that?" The Chief asked. I was surprised because with my less than stellar hearing I couldn't at first and it was jarring that the Chief would mention something that so clearly did not advance her mission.

"It sounds like someone is going to church," Brown added while I still could not hear it.

When it finally crept up on my hearing like a train in the night passing far off, I recognized it. At least I thought I did at first. "I think it's a mosque," I said.

Chief Mac agreed that it had the tone and rhythm of Islamic Arabic, but she swore she didn't recognize any of the words. It was never loud enough for me to make out individual words, because almost as soon as I heard it, we turned down a different street and the ghostly a'cappella died away again.

"Is it close to nightfall?" I asked, wondering if it could be a mosque and since I really didn't trust my sense of time anymore, and I looked at my watch. It wasn't any closer to night as the sound had been audible for only a few seconds. "Odd," I said and as soon as I did, still looking down at my watch, a shape appeared in my peripheral vision.

"What?" Both women asked, but I made no reply, I sat stone still and without even turning my eyes focused on what I thought I was seeing.

In the wake from our tires, the water coming to just below where the door openings were, there was another bump in the waters. It was the kind of bump a submerged log makes in a river flowing swiftly over it. The watery disturbance was longer than the opening for the door and wider than my thighs.

The water flowed smoothly over it, then as it rose closer to the surface the water began to undulate as the texture of what lay beneath started to affect the flow. Just before it pulled away from us and plunged completely out of sight again I thought I saw something break the surface.

"Do you see it again?" Brown asked excitedly.

"It's bigger than I thought before."

"Is it still there?"

"No, it's gone - not near us now," I said as a shiver ran up my spine.

"It's not a dog or rat then?" The Chief said.

"No, it's too big. I dont' think it's a mammal at all," I said and pulled out my map. I wanted to think about something else, anything else.

"I know, it was an alligator!" Brown declared more excited than frightened, "There are alligator in the streets, wow."

"I'm sure it wasn't an alligator," the Chief said, I said nothing. I was sure it wasn't an alligator as well because I had seen part of it and I was sure alligators didn't have tentacles.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why, Oh Why?!

Why do people insist on cuddlifying Cthulhu?

Great Old One people! 

"It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster..."
"... a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful."

"These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape — for did not this star-fashioned image prove it? — but that shape was not made of matter."

"Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."

Doesn't sound like cartoon or plush toy time to me.

Nightmares of Katrina 10

The route chosen between the University campus and the Convention Center was mostly straight, but it passed through areas that had been flooded and barricaded until recently. We had heard rumors that it was now passable, but there were a lot of rumors that month.

We turned down one street and found it at least partially flooded. There was no traffic control to tell us not to go that way, indeed we saw no sign of life at all, no occupied vehicles, no workers, no soldiers, no occupants, and stranger than all that, no animals. I didn't see a single bird in New Orleans ever for the whole month we down there.

This street was deadly quiet and still.

The water was clearly not that deep, as we could see where it came to on the houses, barely covering the crawl spaces under the small homes. This was a lower middle class neighborhood, with some fences here and there and mostly two bedrooms on one floor. I don't know if it had been a tidy place or not before nature's savagery, certainly when we went through it was littered with pollutants and flotsam. How much of it was thrown out by the storm and how much from wretches too poor to care, I couldn't tell.

We moved forward cautiously, our knobby hummer tires splashing excessively, despite our creeping pace. The doors were off and we all pulled tighter within the vehicle, wary against the stray splash of the foetid liquid. The smell was not at bad as had been reported very early in the month, but our churning probably brought up some odors that would have been better left to run off as the water level lowered.

Every house we passed had a spray painted X on it. They had all been visited and cleared by the Texas National Guard only recently. None showed hazards, Some had had bodies, some not. No live victims had been found.
Something caught my eye; something in the water. The glint of sun had been glaring up mercilessly and it had suddenly been disturbed. I turned to look, but the brilliance had returned and blinded me. I must have shouted or grunted because the Chief turned in her seat and demanded, "What, sir?" while Brown slammed the brakes.

"Nothing," I said. "I just thought I saw something in the water."


"No, swimming I think. It's gone now, I think." I tried to see it again, whatever it was. I pointed to where I had seen it.

"Was it a dog or cat?" Brown asked.

"I don't think so, it didn't seem the right shape."

"Maybe a rat?" the Private asked, but the Chief said that rats would have been noted on the houses, and none of them showed rats anywhere.

"It could have been a fish," the Chief said and I let the matter rest, but it wasn't a fish. If anything it had been dull, not shiny like the scales of fish, it may have been furry, or mossy, and it had to have been bigger than a rat, far larger.

We made it to the Convention Center without another incident, but I stayed as far inside the vehicle as I could while we traveled. The Center was a cacophony of activity. There were vehicles driving in and out, there were people everywhere, civilian and military. Fortunately or unfortunately the people we were sent there to find found us. I don't know how we would have known where they were in that disturbed ant-hill of a building, but as soon as we pulled inside there were people there waiting for us. They waved us to park near their vehicles.

The Chief never needed to get out of our vehicle. She discussed some thing with the Sergeant who found us and gave him the package we were to deliver. He complained to her about thing, and she to him. I could tell that they didn't get along, but mostly I could tell that the Chief was annoyed at the delay. The Sergeant was the sort of man who could drag out a simple answer or question for several minutes and Chief Mac felt that she had no sort of time for that.

I looked at my watch when we entered the building. I was preoccupied trying to think of what I could have seen in the waters outside. I glanced at my watch again and saw that far less time had passed than I had expected. I chalked it up to boredom and the reassured feeling I was having of being high and dry in a solid building. Finally when the Chief managed to break off the conversation and waved PFC Brown to move out again I glanced down at my watch again. I would have sworn only moments had past, but it had been well over an hour.

Now I was anxious. I jumped out of the vehicle to provide a ground guide through the building's parking garage and back out onto the street. As soon as we had passed the doors I jumped back in. I knew the Chief was determined to find her second warehouse, but now I wondered if we would get back before nightfall. There was something very wrong about the day and the waters still slithering through the half flooded streets.