Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maybe I'll Worry About this Other Stuff Tomorrow

I keep opening my eyes and staring into the darkness.  The last time I dared look at the big red numbers on my nightstand it told me it was three in the morning.  I couldn't dare look over again.  I'd close my eyes and peer into darkness again, but it was soon filled by a wave of thoughts and feelings.

The comings and goings of the day had been interesting.  I almost wrote difficult, but that would give the wrong impression.  Nothing wrong happened.  It was just a day filled with thoughts and feelings that I was trying to work through.  I was trying to work through them at three in the morning and beyond.  Another glass of water?  No.  I'm not thirsty, I'm exhausted.

Why can't I sleep?  The most amusing is thinking about swimming at the public pool for exercise.  I don't swim well.  I never have.  But swimming is a low impact workout that should help with my back problems.  So, after doing some water exercises what do I do?  I swim laps, in the slow lane, on my back, trying to make my shoulders relax as I envision drowning when I forget to breathe and I sink a little, and then think of a shark coming out of the water and biting into my torso when I forget to kick.  I still managed two laps.  In bed, I think of asking the lifeguard if a predator (aside from the homo sapiens) has ever entered the pool.  I envision his answer.  One makes me think of an alligator attacking me, another makes me think of an anaconda attacking me, the last turns his face into a mixture between a piranha and that deep sea fish on Finding Nemo, with him answering, "Just me."

Some less amusing ones are politics, religion, or general principles that I've been debating with people on the internet, which lead me to other debates in my life, both online and off.  Some make me remember things I've learned and need to do differently, others make me wonder why people won't listen to reason.  I try to clear it all out, but it won't go.  It seems that once one thing leaves my mind there's another thought that has been dying for some face time who shoves him/herself into my mind and it's me thinking about that all over again.

I hear a noise.  It sounds like branches hitting our window.  The wind has  been blowing.  It also sounds a little like people robbing us.  What if I saw a dark shadow coming down the hall?  How should I protect my family?

I try to think of what I'd do with a million dollars, but that dream won't stick.

More thoughts flood and I get more tired.  I need sleep.  I need to wake up in the morning.  Stabbing through the darkness comes a tiny voice, "Bah, bah."  She's obviously talking in her sleep.  Butterflies come and carry away everything I'm thinking about.  How would a predator get into the public pool without someone noticing?  Things always seem to work out don't they?  Our house would be hard to break into, wouldn't they choose an easier house?  I have a beautiful little girl.  Maybe I'll just be grateful I have her, and worry about all this other stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sally, Part 36

+Sally, Part 35

All three men poured out of the hole and started retracing their steps through the alleys as quickly and quietly as they could, all the while, listening to their pursuers cuss them.  Syrin was incredibly nimble, often jumping over obstacles that Stacey and Mattias had to go around.  Occasionally he would start moving toward a wall, and then stop when he thought of if his comrades could climb it like he could, and then he would start down the alley again.  Finally, they came to a building with boxes stacked and leading up to a second story window.  Syrin scaled it easily while Mattias helped Stacey up them.  In time, all three were standing in a room with three beds, one dresser, a couple of backpacks, and a little stool next to a bucket.  Syrin immediately went to the backpacks while Mattias laid on the nearest bed.

"What is this place?"  Stacey was still standing in the middle of the room, breathing heavily.

"It's the upper room to The Mace and Sword."  Mattias's eyes were closed and his hands were behind his head.

"Won't they look for us here?"

"Probably, but not tonight.  Our benefactor, downstairs tending bar, believes too much in the cause to care if this is a good idea."

Syrin came up with his daggers and started his nightly ritual.

"We just got up here, and he's already starting with this?"

"It's how he makes it through.  Keeps him focused."

"Syrin!  We almost died.  Can't you just take one second and..."

"He can't hear you.  I once tried to talk with him, but he never missed a beat.  It's like he's in another dimension or something."

Syrin startled both of them, "Hardly.  I just didn't want to talk to you, just as I don't want to now."

Mattias and Stacey were both dumbfounded, and then Mattias started to laugh and Stacey followed suit.  Syrin never cracked a smile, but continued undaunted.

"We'd better get some sleep.  We have a lot of miles to cross tomorrow, and we won't do it if we're tired.  Go to bed.  Syrin will sleep when he's finished."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Acient Text

I felt so lost before.  It felt as though I was just drifting through space with nothing to live for.  All that changed though, when I finally met Charles.  It was 8455 AD and I was living on Earth at the time.  Charles met me while I was waitressing at the Sleepy Starship.  Charles said he had gotten off late that night and just wanted something to eat, and the diner was the only thing open in town.  He didn't seem all that amazing to me at first, just another man ordering another cup of coffee when he should have been sleeping, but as I poured, I could tell something important was on his mind.  He didn't look at me, or the coffee pot, or the eggs, who's yolks had split and were all over his plate.  He was looking beyond all of that.

It took three cups, but I finally got the courage to ask him, "Is something wrong?"

He blinked a few times and looked up at me, "Sorry.  No, nothing is wrong."

I started pouring the cup, "You just seem a little distracted."  To be fair, I was a little worried.  I thought he'd drive himself into a ditch with how out-of-it he seemed.

"Oh, in a way I am, I guess.  I'm working on the dig site just north of here,"  We all knew about it.  Some guy had been hunting up there and came across some pre-3000's stuff.  It was in all the papers.  Charles was one of the archeologists called in to work on it.  "There are several amazing pieces, all of them extremely well preserved.  I think we may start to actually know what life was like for them."

The old world had always amazed me.  No one else was in the diner, so I sat down to ask what he'd found, "So, what was it like for them?"

"Oh, I don't think I can really say that just yet, I can just tell you that we might be starting to understand."

"Well, what did you find?"

"That's the thing of it.  We're not completely sure.  We think it's some kind of scripture."

"Scripture?  You mean they had religion back then?  We never thought they did, right?"

"That's right, we always thought they were too undeveloped to believe in a deity, at least not in the same way that we do."

"So, what does the book say."

"We've only been able to decipher some of it, but there seems to be some kind of ritual in it where it actually specifies that the ritual is what's the most important thing in the book."

My head was swimming.  I'd never heard of anything like this, but it sounded too amazing not to look into. 

Of course, you all know the rest.  Eventually that whole book was deciphered, and it just made too much sense to ignore.  I'd say that's the day my life turned around.  I didn't know it yet, but those people, so long ago had found what life was truly about.  I read the whole book, and the ritual several times before we ever tried it out.  I invited everyone I trusted over to my house.  We read through the translation and all did it together.  No one at that first meeting was the same after it.  Some laughed, most cried.  We had finally found what we were looking for.  I didn't feel much of anything until I saw Charles, across the circle from me, tears streaming down his cheeks.  He felt it too.

Charles was an expert on the old language.  He was on the team who translated the scripture.  I once asked him how the ritual was pronounced in the old language.  He smiled a little.  I was always asking him stupid things like this, things that really didn't matter, because, who cares what they called it?  But he answered me, "The Hokie-Pokie."  I'm not sure why, but knowing that sealed it all for me.  I truly had found what it was all about.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sally, Part 35

 Sally, Part 34

Stacey couldn't see Mattias's expression in the dark, but he really didn't care.  Sally was dead, the ship he worked for had been taken over, and his best cooking pot was back on a hostile ship.  As far as he could tell, he had nothing left to live for.

Mattias didn't say anything for a long while, and Syrin still seemed to be peering out the hole in the wall.  Finally, Mattias gathered his thoughts and started, "Stacey, I'm sorry you heard that.  I really have no way to prove to you that what you heard was a lie, other than by telling you that it was."

"How am I supposed to believe you?"  Stacey's anger was coming up again.  "You're not even human."

At this, Syrin turned around, "Not human?  What are you trying to say Pudgy?  That only humans can be trusted?  Do you know what race of man continued to beat me long after I was conscience?  Do you know what race it was that killed my mother?  Do you know..."

Mattias cut him off, "Syrin, I understand your anger, but like you, Stacey has a history too.  We cannot expect him to try and understand us if we do not try to understand him.  It's true Stacey.  I did try to deceive you and the crew.  My race is, if nothing else, not understood by most races here.  We've come here for centuries trying to help where we can, but sometimes our help is seen as something else, so we often wear disguises so that we can move around unhindered.  Even after I got to know you I was still uncertain about telling you this.  I've found that races here do not trust each other, and I did not want to risk you not trusting me, though it seems my plan has backfired."

"I'm still not sure how I can know if you're telling me the truth about the slaves."

"You can't.  What I taught you on the ship, all of that is true.  It's truly what I believe.  I believe all men should be free."

Syrin was growing impatient, "Look, Mattias.  He's just like all the other humans.  He'll never trust you.  Let's either leave him, or kill him.  We've got to get moving while we still know where they are."

"So what do you say, Stacey?  You trusted me once.  Will you trust me again, and help us with this?"

"I can hear them coming back, hurry."

Stacey had trusted Mattias once, and believed in what he taught.  Perhaps Mattias was telling the truth, but then, if he wasn't, maybe Stacey could sabotage those plans before they got too far.  "I'll go with you, but you'd better be telling me the truth."

Stacey's eyes had started to get used to the darkness and could faintly see a grin spread across Mattias's face, "I am.  Don't you worry."

Syrin stepped out from the hole, "That's all very well, now let's go."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baldur's Gate III?

Okay, I know that I said that I'd be using this as a way to practice my writing skills, and I am, but this bit of news was just too interesting (to me) not to write about.

About a month ago, I was cruising Gamespot (something I do more often than I'd like to admit) when I came across an article about how a lot of sequels were coming out and being talked about when they made reference to Baldur's Gate III.  That's right all you long time gamers who hadn't heard about this yet, it looks like a Baldur's Gate III is in the works.  This, or course, made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I clicked the link faster than you can say "Bob's your uncle!" and got nothing but,

And a quote from Baldur's Gate II.  And that was it.  No link.  No real information.  Just the BG skull and a quote.  That was cool though.  I knew that BGIII was being worked on, and that was good enough for me.

Last night, I visited Gamespot again, and remembered BGIII and how I wanted to know more about it, so I looked it up.  Nothing really, but I did find a link back to where the skull and quote were.  Sure enough, more information existed.  Is BGIII coming out?  Yes, but not for a while.  More information had come out about what they are during currently, and what was it?  Remaking Baldur's GateI and II, including expansions.  The website reads, "Running on an upgraded and improved version of the Infinity Engine, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition™ will include the entire Baldur’s Gate adventure, the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack, and never before seen content including a new adventure and new party member."
I don't know if I can fully express how excited this made me.  I didn't game much growing up, but I did get Baldur's Gate I and II, and loved both of them.  I remember playing for hours, soaking in the story, trying to talk my way out of conflict, and listening to Smashing Pumpkins in the background.  It had wonderfully memorable characters, and the idea that more characters are coming only makes me happier.

The big drawback, and why I felt like posting something about this:  they have only announced one platform.  Those who know my gaming habits are probably thinking it's coming out on Playstation, because I don't own one.  Oh, no.  Not yet anyway.  The only device (and that's what it should be called) that has been announced is the iPad (it honestly took me a while to finish typing that).  I don't own an iPad.  I've never wanted an iPad.  I have no use for an iPad, until now.  but I'm certainly not paying $500 just to play Baldur's Gate.

So, this is my call to Overhaul Games and Atari:  PLEASE, have it come out on Xbox Live.  If and iPad can handle the game, Xbox Live could.  I would gladly download it.  It's a game that should be regularly paused to decide tactics in battle, so I'd gladly use Left Trigger (or whatever) and use my joystick as a mouse.  I have no problems with that.  I don't even care if it comes on PC, I just want it on Xbox Live.  Anyway, if you're a non-gamer, and still read through all this, thank you.  If you are a gamer, are you as excited about this news as I am?  Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sally, Part 34

Sally, Part 33

"Nice spot Syrin.  How'd you see it?"  It was too dark to see in their hiding spot, but Mattias was still smiling.

"I figured this would happen, so I walked through these alleyways before meeting you at the bar.  There are more of these than you'd think, but this was the first one we made it to where they wouldn't see us duck in."

"Well, good.  You okay Stacey?"

Stacey sucked in a large breath of air before answering, "Yeah, I'm fine."  Another long breath, "I just need a moment."

Syrin made his way to the opening and poked his head out.  "It looks like they're gone.  You wanna answer that question now?"

"Um... well, it doesn't seem like I have much of a choice..."

"You do," Mattias touched his shoulder, "Syrin just doesn't trust anyone.  It's his brother you know?  So, the more people who know what we're doing, the better the chance is we'll be caught and killed, and if that happens, his brother's death will be all but certain.  He's just a little extreme."

"Extreme?  I think it's extreme of you to keep so many people alive.  I don't know of many ghosts who get back at the people who stabbed them in the back, and Stacey's in a great position to do just that."

"I disagree.  They've seen him with us.  Him going to them would be the same as him putting a gun to his head."

"I guess."

"So, with that out of the way, what do you say?  Do you want to risk life and limb to give a slave his freedom?"

The words sounded bitter to Stacey.  He couldn't believe Mattias was still hiding behind the guise of 'Freedom Bringer.'  Without thinking about the repercussions, Stacey answered, "Freedom.  Give freedom?  I know what you are.  I heard some men talking on the ship.  You don't give people freedom, you only steal slaves from one slaver to sell to another.  And what's worse is how you enslaved all of us on the ship, by making us think we were free.  I don't want to work for you, just to help enslave more people.  And I don't care if Syrin kills me for it, I'm tired of you lying to me."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Little Girl

I'm in the living room when I hear her start to cry a little.  I look at the clock.  An hour.  Not her best, but certainly not her worst.  I close up whatever it is that I've been working on and tread softly by the door to her room.  Maybe she'll fall back to sleep.  Still crying.  Okay, I guess it's an hour long nap this time.  I open up the door and say what I say every time I wake her up from her nap, "Is there a pretty girl in here?"  The crying stops.  I walk over until I can see her big toothless grin, which breaks into a squeal when she sees me.  Her arms flap, her legs kick, her blue eyes shine, and I can't help but get butterflies and forget about how disappointed I was that her nap was only an hour.  It's probably just biology, but it's amazing how a little smile, a little giggle, a little coo or squeal can make you forget about the messy diapers, the late nights, and the inexplicable screams.  I'd like to thank God for my little one, my little girl.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sally, Part 33

 Stacey, Part 32

Stacey and Mattias turned to see a large man barrel through the bar door to meet two of his fellow searchers.  "There they are."  His massive index finger pointed squarely Mattias.

Mattias quickly followed Syrin's lead, "Yep, like halflings during conscription."  He pulled Stacey to his feet and the three of them headed toward the side door.  Stacey heard a loud blast, shortly followed by a bullet whizzing by his ear as he ducked through the door after Syrin.  He then heard Mattias throw a chair to the ground, another gun shot, and the three of them were tripping on crates and barrels as they tried to make their way to the adjoining alleyway as quickly as they could, their chasers following closely behind.

To put it kindly, running wasn't Stacey's strong suit.  It seemed that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't keep up with Mattias and Syrin, and only Mattias was kind enough to slow down occasionally and help him forward.  At any rate, he wasn't outrunning the shooters.  Syrin seemed to be picking through the alleyways as if he'd ran down them countless times before, Stacey panting behind and Mattias occasionally knocking things over to slow down their assailants.  Bullets ricocheted off the buildings just as Stacey and Mattias rounded another corner.  Several times Stacey could hear a loud crash and cursing, followed by scrambling.  Once he happened to catch a glimpse of Mattias smile spread at one of these times.  As much as Stacey hated that Mattias was a slaver, times like this made it hard not to love his undaunted spirit.

Suddenly, it seemed as though Syrin disappeared into a wall to the right.  Shocked as Stacey was he kept running, and when they got to that point Mattias shoved him at the wall and followed into what looked to be an invisible slot.  If someone were to be walking, and stop at just the right time it could be seen clearly, but to three burly men brandishing pistols it was easily ran past without a second look as two men watched and one man tried to catch his breath.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jake, the Bat Brandishing Friend

My mouth sputtered and more blood fell on the hardwood floor and my hands that were trying to support my weight.  I tightly closed my eyes and opened them in hopes that my vision would become less blurry, but it didn't help.  With what strength I had left I tried to look at Jake, my childhood friend, and current attacker.  He seemed so kind when we first reunited that it was almost difficult to believe that the man brandishing a baseball bat was the same man who rang my doorbell only a few months ago.

"John, now think hard.  Are you sure you've tried everyone?"

I knew it wasn't the right answer, but it was the honest one.  "Yes, Jake.  Yes."  He moved like he was going to take another swing at my head with the bat, so I closed my eyes, but felt his steel toed boots on my ribs instead.

"John."  His voice elvevated, "John, I don't want to do this to you, but you need more people.  You wanted to make money, right?"

"Yeah."  My ribs screamed, and a stream of blood fell from my lips like syrup.

"Alright then.  You want money, I want money.  The way for us to get more money, is for you to get more people."

Tears welled up in my eyes as my brain searched its catalog of names.  Nothing came.  My chin began to quiver, "I can't think..."  His bat stopped my jaw short of finishing.

"John."  He was shouting now, "I'm not gonna let you finish that sentence.  Who else do you know?  Imaging how hard it was for me to think of you.  Now, think hard.  Who else is there?"

When he came to my home that first time, it was just after I'd lost my job.  I hadn't shaved in weeks.  I didn't see a point when I never got any interviews.  His smile was so warm, his laugh so inviting, and when he said "It's not a pyramid scheme." it sounded too genuine not to be a part of.  Of course, I'd never heard of a pyramid scheme turning out this way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sally, Part 32

 Sally, Part 31

Finally Stacey was able to stand on his own, and Mattias led him to a poorly lit corner of the bar.  The three of them sat down and Syrin motioned to the bartender for three drinks.  After seeing the glasses Stacey almost said he didn't want one, but then thought better of it when he considered the circumstances.

Mattias started, "We're sorry this has to be done in such a horrible place.  I'm sure your nose is driving you crazy."  He was right.  Stacey was already discerning everything he smelled, but tried to stop when he realized it was mostly beer, piss, vomit, and blood.  "But, I'm afraid that what we have to talk to you about is very sensitive."

"Very, sensitive."  Syrin's eyes fixed sharply on Stacey's.

"Frankly, if anyone learned about what we're proposing here we'd probably all be hung before we got out of Andrill."  Stacey started to look nervously around the room, "Don't worry.  The men who come here are no angels, but they aren't the kind to turn us in either."

"That doesn't mean we need to talk loud though.  Plenty of paid informants in this city."  Syrin kept shifting in his chair and looking toward the door.  He stopped when the beers got to the table.  After handing one to each of his confederates he took a long drink, but his nerves didn't seem to calm.

Stacey sat in stunned silence.  He'd never seen Syrin like this before, and after the past few months on the ship, he didn't know what to make of Mattias or this meeting.  "You're probably wondering why we had you come here."  Stacey nodded, still looking around the bar.  "Do you remember when I told you about Syrin's brother?"  Stacey stopped looking around and set his eyes on Mattias.

"Yes, I do."

"Syrin and I think we know where he's ended up, and we plan to break him out.  After talking to you about it, and hearing how much it touched you, I thought you'd want to come along.  You're also lucky, possibly the luckiest man I've ever met, and to get his brother back from who has him we'll need all the luck we can get."

"A two hundred pound rabbit's foot, that's what we need you for."  Syrin still hadn't stopped looking at the door.

"So, are you in, or are you out?"

"And just so you know, if you're out, you'll have to be dead."

Mattias shot Stacey a smile, "So what do you say?"

Stacey only had a moment to think when Syrin stood up, "Looks like we'll have to get our answer later Mattias, we need to make like halflings during conscription."



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Michael's Wife

Michael hadn't always hated his wife.  I suppose that goes without saying.  Who gets married to someone they hate?  The hatred came slowly, from a 'honey-do' list, and on to little ways of controlling his life.  It could be argued that he was overreacting to a normal marriage, but that's beside the point now, his marriage will never be normal again. 

Michael's hatred eventually turned to blood lust.  He didn't just want her gone, he wanted her dead, and he wanted to be the one to do it.  In time, he plotted a spot for her body in the yard, under a lilac bush, where no one ever went.  It would be easy enough to do at night, as his neighbors on both sides were early sleepers, so he knew no one would see him.  He just had to think of a way to do it.

It was shortly after their ten year anniversary that Michael saw his opportunity.  His wife brought him a screwdriver, asking if he'd hang a picture in their bedroom.  He took the tool and examined it closely.  It was when his wife asked why he was looking at it that his mind crossed that barrier that separates what we want to do and what we do, and he killed her with the screw driver, and then proceeded to hang the picture that she'd asked him to.

Burying her was as easy as he thought it would be.  Arguably, he didn't dig the hole as deep as he should have, but what did it matter?  She was dead, didn't have a job, didn't have a family, and didn't have friends.  It's not like people would come looking for her.  Michael lit a cigarette and chuckled to himself after he put on the last shovelful of dirt.  "It's over," he thought to himself, "She's finally gone."

The depth of the burial started to trouble him over the next few weeks though.  It rained a couple of times, which brought him to the burial site to make certain that nothing of his wife's could be seen.  Eventually, the idea entered his dreams, and he'd go outside to find a hand, or a foot sticking out of the ground, but when he woke up and looked, nothing had changed.

Perhaps the most disturbing of his dreams is when he went to look and saw her face unearthed.  When he checked closer, her eyes flashed open, and he was panting in his bed with sweat pouring down his face.  He began to question his resolve.  Was killing her truly the best idea?  Surely he didn't want her in his life anymore, but this constant worry, these nightmares.  It had to stop, or he'd surely go mad.

Several months after the burial, he decided that his worries would be gone if he simply dug up the body and buried it at a greater depth.  That surely would stop the nightmares.  Once again, in the dark of night, he took his shovel and his lantern out to the lilac bush.  He dug for nearly three hours, but never hit the body.  There was no other lilac bush in his yard, and he had only dug for one hour when he first dug the spot.  Where was she?  His mind raced frantically.  Had someone seen him and dug her up afterward?  Had he dug under a different bush?  No.  He knew no one would have seen him, and he chose the lilac bush deliberately.  Quickly, he filled in the hole and headed toward the house.

That night, the nightmares had increased in horror tenfold.  He no longer saw her buried, but she walked his home, a decomposing zombie that never stopped looking for him.  Always though, he woke in a cold sweat, alone.  Morning finally came.  'Exhausted' barely describes what he felt as he drug himself out of bed.  He was out of plans.  Apparently, her body was no longer in his possession.  Perhaps he'd have to go through court proceedings after all. 

Just as this thought came to him, he heard something stirring downstairs.  His first thought was that he was being robbed, so he stumbled down the stairs as quickly as he could and ran into the kitchen.  What he saw there terrified him more than any group of robbers ever could, because there, at the stove, was the long, curly hair of his wife.  He dared not approach, for fear that she would turn, and it would be another zombie of his dreams.  Finally, she turned, her face exactly as it was before he had defiled it with a screwdriver.  "Michael, come sit down.  I made pancakes."  Her smile was genuine, but that did not ease Michael's mind.  He did as he was told though.

Michael couldn't look at her as he waited at the table for his pancakes.  The scene was not unique, she had made him pancakes every Saturday morning that they had been married, but that was before she had her skull impaled with a screwdriver.

"Do you want butter one them?"  She asked every Saturday morning, even though the answer never changed.  Michael grunted, and she put on the butter.  Just as she always had, she walked them over to the table and set his down in front of him, and then walked with hers to her seat at the table.  "Michael."  His head snapped up from his plate to see her smiling there, "I know what you did to me."  His stomach went empty, and he could feel the blood leave his face.  She took a bite of pancake, chewed slowly, never losing her smile or eye contact, swallowed, and then finished her thought, "It wasn't very nice of you.  All I wanted was a picture hung."  His throat got dry, and her smile got bigger, "I promise I'll never ask you to do that again."  Finally he was able to swallow, but could now see what he figured to be all of her teeth, "But I can promise one more thing, Buddy: I'm never leaving."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sall, Part 31

Sally, Part 30.

New enterprise?  It seemed certain now.  Stacey was about to become a slave.  Maybe he'd be sold as a cook though.  That wouldn't be too bad.  It'd basically be like being a cook for a ship.  Mattias looked over at Syrin, who wasn't quite and quick to believe that Stacey's stumbling in was a good omen.  "Are you sure you're okay Stacey?"

Mattias slapped Stacey on the back, "Of course he's okay.  Just look at him.  Color's even coming back into his cheeks."

"I'm just not sure he's the right guy for the job."

"How can you not be sure?  You saw how he dealt with those pirates."

"A drunken gorilla would have had the same effect."

Mattias turned sober, "Syrin.  I'm telling you, this is the man for the job."At this Syrin looked down, obviously unconvinced, but wasn't about to question Mattias.  Mattias grinned again, "Trust me Syrin, Stacey's our man.  Why, just as soon as he gets a little more color we'll talk about what we brought him to this fine establishment for.

Stacey reeled and started looking around the 'fine' establishment.  It was obviously a meeting place for the low lives of Andrill.  The beams were rotting, the glasses were dirty, and it was hard to tell if the barkeep had ever touched soap... or water for that matter.  Stacey's puke wasn't even cleaned.  A large man even walked in it while Mattias was trying to convince Syrin of Stacey's worth.  To be fair though, it really didn't change the look of the floor, or the smell, so maybe there really wasn't a reason to clean it.  The Mace and Sword seemed like a perfect place for them to talk about selling men to the highest bidder, but by what Mattias had said, Stacey wasn't going to be sold, but lent out, or worse, maybe they were going to ask him to be a partner.  Stacey wasn't sure which idea he disliked more.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How Daylight Savings Actually Came to Be

The door slammed shut and brought Deborah from the pages of her book, "Oh, hello Ben."  Benjamin didn't answer.  He walked slowly into the parlor, dropped his briefcase and collapsed into his chair.  "Ben, what's wrong?"

Ben took off his bifocals and rubbed his eyes, "I'm just so tired of the guys looking to me to answer every little problem."

"Oh... could you not answer this one?"

"No, but only because there is no answer.  For some reason, they've decided that 'something' needs to be done about the time not always matching up with the sun."

"What?"  Ben wasn't sure if Deborah didn't understand the problem or if she was as flabbergasted as he was at their stupidity.

"They say the farmers can't get as much done in the day because they wake up before the sun, and their hands quit before the sun's gone down because it's time for them to go home."

"Is this really a problem the Government needs to get involved in?"

"No.  Why should we?  Why don't the farmers just wake up with the sun, and tell their hands that they work until the sun goes down?  The whole thing's ridiculous."

"So what do they want to do?"

"Nothing yet, or at least I hope nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when they brought it to me, I made a joke, and they didn't start laughing until I did."

"What was the joke?"

"Oh, I said that twice a year we should change the time an hour so people wake up an extra hour when the sun is out longer."

"Well, that's not that funny.  Maybe that's why they didn't laugh."

"Maybe... hopefully.  I'd hate to be remembered as the guy who came up with something stupid like that."

"Ben, you've come up with bifocals, you've done some incredible work with electricity, and you worked on The Declaration of Independence, surely no one will think you came up with something this ridiculous."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sally, Part 30

Sally, Part 29

If Stacey wasn't already dizzy enough, this certainly put him over the edge.  He could feel the room spin, and then suddenly go dark.  When his eyes opened again everything was blurry.  Slowly, his eyelids opened and closed until he could finally see the face of Mattias right above him and Syrin standing a little behind.

"There he is.  Goodness Stacey, you gave us quite a scare."  Mattias was grinning from ear to ear.  At the sight of him Stacey's stomach lurched and he quickly rolled to throw up on the dirty, wooden floor.  "Whoa!  What happened to you?"

Stacey's head reeled as he tried to think of something, anything to say that would sound plausible and not give him away.  He started talking, hoping something might come to him, "Um... well, I was walking through Andrill..."


Nothing was coming.  Stacey could feel himself start to panic when the bar keep unwittingly came to his rescue, "Why, I'll bet it was those damn kids."

Mattias looked at him, surprised.  "Those 'damned' kids?"

"Uh, yes sir.  They've been drugging people and robbin' 'em."

Stacey grabbed on to the story like it was his last breath, "Yeah.  I only vaguely remember, but I think some kids stabbed me with something."

"That's odd, people been sayin' they put somethin' over your mouth."

"Uh, that's... that's what I meant."

Mattias gave Stacey a questioning look, "Kids huh?  Well, it's good your here at any rate.  Amazing that you were somehow able to remember to come here even after being poisoned, but maybe this is fate's way of letting us know that our new enterprise is the right one."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sniper Rifle

I'm really not sure why I bought it.  I guess maybe I thought it might be fun to show to my friends, but I never did.  I remember looking for it online, wondering if "Sniper Rifle" was a keyword that might get you tagged by the government.  It didn't take long for me to find the Remington 700 VTR.  The $700 it would cost didn't deter me.  I lived in a one room apartment (if it could even be called that) in the attic of a house that had been remodeled to have multiple residents.  107 1/3, Baker's street was my official address, the kind of place UPS has a hard time finding.  Rent was only $150 a month plus utilities, I spent very little on food, and I worked nights mixing drinks at "Feint," a popular nightclub only a few blocks from my house.  I didn't have much in my life, but disposable income was not hard to come by.

It came on a Tuesday, just as I was waking up for the day.  I heard the man in brown shorts come jogging up the long, straight, wooden staircase that led to my door.  He knocked and ran right back down.  When I opened it, I really didn't know what to do with it.  I spent an extra $500 on a scope, but then had to look on the internet to figure out how to mount it.  It took a few hours, but I finally figured it out.  I also ordered a box of bullets, and a bag to carry it in.  Again, why did I think I was going to carry it anywhere?  I didn't shoot guns.  I didn't have friends who shot guns, but I loaded my rifle just the same and looked into the scope.  All I saw was wall, and it made me sick when I tried to move it so I could see something other than white.  When I pulled my eye out, I looked to my right and saw the one window in my whole apartment.  I didn't think about how it might look, I just wanted to find somewhere to test the scope, so I opened my window and stuck the barrel out.  This worked much better.  I was able to see up and down my street, and was amazed at how close everything looked.

That night I put my gun back in its case and went to work.  The next day I woke up, and decided to look out my window again.  I noticed a jogger, which I easily followed with my scope.  I also saw some kids playing, a man getting dressed through a window, and several people in cars who were all easy to see and follow around. 

It quickly became an obsession.  I loved looking down that scope.  It was fun to try and figure out what people were doing, or saying. The rifle felt good against my shoulder too.  It seemed to fit me.  It took a few months, but eventually the gun didn't feel so heavy, and I was able to look for longer.  It was three months to the day that finger ever touched the trigger.  I had just been holding the stock with both my hands.  Maybe I should have ordered a telescope instead.  But my finger being one the trigger wasn't a problem right?  I was never going to shoot anyone, it just felt right for it to be there.  I wasn't a killer.  I wasn't going to shoot anyone, right?  Right?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sally, Part 29

Sally, Part 28

The boy was still talking when Stacey walked away.  The horizon seemed to sway within the framework of Stacey's hazy vision.  He was trying not to cry, as he staggered down streets and occasionally into people.  He couldn't hold back anymore and started to call out, "Sally!  Sally!  Sally, where are you?"  Of course, he got no answer, but strange looks, and the occasional murmur of 'crazy' or 'drunk.'

It had been years, but Stacey could still remember the face of that little baby.  The way he drank from the makeshift bottle, the way he stayed so quiet, as if he knew that a sound would get them both killed, the way he cooed and smiled, Stacey remembered it all as he staggered through the street.  He didn't stop either.  He went past the market, down alleyways, through districts, and even through the forbidden roads where no one but thieves and murderers dared tread, but if whatever was making him call out and stumble as he did was catching, no sane person wanted to get near it, so Stacey went on undisturbed, tears streaming down his face.

As pictures of Sally, and what Stacey thought Sally might be one day passed before him, a feeling of loneliness grew within him.  Surely, he could not go back to the ship now, nor did he want to.  He had no food to bring, so his crimes would be obvious.  This meant though, that he had no crew.  He had no family.  And now, he had no Sally.  He had never felt more alone, and his mind couldn't stop going over each fact until, if he could have figured out how, he would have torn his brain from his skull and be done with thinking all together.

Just as he thought of removing his thinking apparatus, he tripped and fell flat on his over-sized nose.  If he'd had more wits about him, he would have noticed people openly laughing at him, but when he lifted his head, he saw what appeared to be a blessing from The Gods, and refused to take it as anything other.  It was the next best thing to ripping out his brain, it was the pub.  If ever a man needed to forget, it was him.  If ever a man needed to stop thinking, it was him.  As quick as he could, he lifted himself off the earth and marched into that bar.

Wide, he swung the door open, and took three steps in when he noticed who was at the bar.  "Stacey!  I was beginning to wonder if you'd come at all."  Stacey had wandered into none other than The Mace and Sword, the place Mattias told him to go after he was done buying the food, and there he sat, having an ale with Syrin.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Wrote a Story With and Ending. Get Excited.

The sun hung heavy in the sky as a drop of sweat made its way down my forehead and off the tip of my nose.  It was no secret why I was standing here, boots shoulder's length apart, muscles taught, eyes staring into Jake's.  Jake had killed my family, over him thinking he'd been cheated somehow, and I wasn't about to wait for Judge Proctor to get Jake into the courthouse.  This standoff meant I forfeited the right to a judge, or rather, transferred that right onto me and my .45.

Every citizen of Marlbery was watching.  None were outside, but they didn't make any attempt to hide their faces peering through windows.  Even God seemed to want a good look, as not a single cloud blocked his almighty view.  I clenched my fingers into fists, trying to get them to loosen up.  Jake spat, leaving a trail of saliva and tobacco running down his chin.  I left mine at home, not wanting to be dead with tobacco hanging in my whiskers, but started to wish I'd left my vanity and brought the tobacco to steady my nerves.

Jake was a known gunman.  To be honest, I didn't have a chance of winning this fight.  I'd bought the .45 a week after Jake massacred the rest of my family, and my stand off was three weeks after that.  I wasn't ready, but I couldn't let justice wait for Proctor to get off his ass.  For the hundredth time, I licked my lips, but the dry couldn't be cured.  The sun seemed to sizzle my spit, and fry my lips further.  I could have used a drink, but I wanted my wits about me.

Sonny was chosen as the unlucky soul to yell 'Go.'  He was the only other person outside there with us.  He was a friend of mine, but an honest one, so Jake didn't mind him calling it.  It's not like I had a chance at winning this one anyway, even with someone trying to cheat for me.  My forehead longed for a breeze to dry the perspiration,  but none came.  I guess God didn't just want to see it, he wanted it to be fair: no wind, no rain, no shadow.  It was just Jake, me, our guns, and poor ol' Sonny.

Finally, Sonny finished his cigarette and walked over to where he was supposed to stand.  "You both ready?"

Jake smiled a little, "You know Carl, you don't have to do this.  We can go see Judge Proctor right now."

I ran my teeth over my lower lip, "Nope Jake, you know I can't do that.  Not after what you done."

Jake's smile spread, "Alright then.  I'm ready Sonny."

"I am too."  I could feel my gut shake.  I didn't want to die, but this was the only honorable thing I could do.

Sonny's eyes plead with me to reconsider, but when he could see I couldn't be deterred, he nodded, and after gaining some composure, yelled, "Go."

My hand shot to my pistol, but it never left the holster before Jake's gun went off, and I felt hot lead burn into my chest.  Jake shot again.  And again, and again, and again, until my body hit the dirt and my arms spread wide to show my riddled torso.  I stared into the blue sky for just a moment, as my last breaths sputtered blood from my lips.

I knew I wouldn't win, but it was the only thing I could do for my family.  The only honorable thing.  The only thing that would let me keep my head up high when I met them again.  Breath left my body, carrying my spirit to, wherever.  It was done.  I was done.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sally, Part 28

Sally, Part 27

Before he left the ship he grabbed some of his sacks and what belongings he could.  He debated taking his stock pot, but couldn't figure out a reason why he'd need to take that into the city.  He'd just have to buy a new one when he got the money.

As he walked off the ship he felt as if eyes were constantly fixed on him.  His mind told him that was ridiculous, but his heart lurched a little at every seagull and bell.  Each step was a labor, as he tried to make each one look 'natural,' which, as everyone who's tried knows, is just about impossible.  Finally, he left the docks and headed toward the market.  It wasn't his destination, but at least heading that way might shed whatever suspicion people might have gotten by his odd way of walking.

It had been a couple of years since he was last in Andrill, but hoped that Sally wouldn't be too hard to find, and that his little mother wouldn't be too attached.  Stacey first went to the little hole in the wall that was the little girl's home.  He knocked on the trick door and waited.  At first, he thought he'd get some strange looks from adults, but he didn't.  It seemed as though odd was the way of the district and knocking on sides of houses was normal.  Stacey didn't hear anything, but tried knocking again.  Still nothing.  Perhaps she's gone looking in garbage cans.  Stacey set out to look behind inns and grocers, but found nothing, except for the occasional swarm of rats feeding on cockroaches.

Next, he thought he'd ask children, but the few he found ran from him.  He tried asking a few adults, but quickly found out that the adults never paid any mind to the children on the streets.  Feeling a bit dejected, he went back to Sally's residence, and found a couple of children opening the door to it.  Stacey asked them if they lived there.  Tentatively, the oldest boy explained that they did.  Stacey asked if they knew where the previous residents had gone.  The boy stared at him a moment, "They're dead, sir."

Stacey could feel his stomach empty.  "Dead?"

"Yes, sir.  They got real sick and died.  We took both their bodies to behind the inn over there."

"Dead."  The boy said something else, but Stacey couldn't hear it.  His head was under water, and the hollow of his stomach was growing.  Sally had been what he was living for.  Sally was his reason for wanting to be free.  What would he do now?  Where would he go?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

If I had A Million Dollars

My family has a saying about me: Paul has to be the last person to sleep because he's scared someone will say something and he won't be awake to hear it.  I won't try and say that it's not an accurate saying, I am that way.  I remember when we lived in the apartments (as we called that residence), my parents had friends over and when my bed time came my parents sent me to bed.  I sat at the top of the stairs, just out of sight, trying to listen to their conversation until one of my parents came to check on me, and I ran to my bed, not realizing that sound traveled.  My parents were less than pleased.

To be fair though, I don't like going to bed when no one is awake either.  I remember one particular night, when I simply "couldn't" fall asleep, and my dad came in to help.  I explained that I wasn't tired, and he explained a game to me that might help me fall to sleep.  He told me to think about what I would do if I had a million dollars.  If I remember right I said something like, "I would buy a lot of toys," or something along those lines.  "You have to be specific," he said, "which toys would you buy?  How many could you buy?"  I said I would try it, and he left me with my fake million.  To be honest, I think I tried to figure out how many X-Men actions figures I could buy with that much money.  I doubt my math was right, but I soon found myself waking up to my mom's voice.  Ever since then, I've been hooked on the million dollar game to help me sleep.

The game has changed for me though.  Surprisingly, I stopped thinking about X-Men actions figures.  In high school, I thought about hockey equipment and ice rinks.  After my mission, I thought about cars and big houses.  What this post is really about though, is what I think about now.  I realized a couple of days ago that my day dream had changed.  Getting married changed a few things, but having a baby changed more.

So, here it is.  You will soon know what I think about as I'm falling asleep.  First, we'd pay taxes.  Note that I said 'we.'  I hadn't actually noticed until I typed it, but I highly doubt that word ever entered my day dream before I got married.  The money would be ours.  I also doubt 'taxes' ever came up before either, but for some reason, taxes started meaning a lot more after I got married.  So, really, We'd have about $600,000 after taxes (assuming we won the money, or something).  With that, we'd pay off the condo.  I cannot explain how great that would feel.  Then, we'd probably set some aside to buy a car when our Kia finally gives up (the one with the check engine light from a while ago).  With those things out of the way, we'd put a bunch away for retirement, maybe a little into a college fund for our daughter, and if there was some left over, clothes and toys for the daughter, cross-stitch stocking patterns for my wife, and a PS3 for me.  And that's it.  No fancy cars, no big houses, no ice rinks or action figures.  Less debt and more stability, that's what I want money for now.  It's just strange to think how much I've changed in only a few years. 

I wouldn't trade my new day dream for the old one though.  I want a good life for my daughter.  I want stability for my wife.  And I'm not ashamed to say I want both of those things.  I really don't want more than that.  Occasionally I'll really go nuts and give myself a few more millions, but to be honest, the daydream doesn't change much.  I just add in a little more stability.  My past self probably thinks my daydream is boring, and I think his is frivolous, but I don't think either of us would think the other is wrong.  They are just different, as he is not me, and I am no longer him.