Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alone in The Tub-A Horror Short

1:18 AM
I wrote this a little while ago, and have had it sitting around not really knowing what to do with it. I've shared it before in other locations, so I see no problem with posting it up here for everyone to see. 

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Alone in the Tub
By: Christopher Godsoe

Gene flexed the digits on his left hand, watching the dried blood fleck and fall to the floor. 

I can't even do this right.

He struggled to focus on the clock above the bathroom sink. After a moment of squinting, he found he could make out a time of midnight. The pale illumination from the streetlamp outside streaked through the side window, bathing the remainder of the room in a bleak incandescence. 

The three inch scab on each wrist felt tight, as though his very body was physically denying his final wish. 

The devil doesn't even want me 

Self deprecation had always been a skill he wielded well.

The pulsing veins in his temple did little to relieve the pressure inside his skull. He wasn't sure if this was caused by the alcohol or the blood loss, but either way, it was his own doing. 

At least he had created something with his efforts tonight. 

He hadn't expected to wake from the three bottles of cheap wine he had ingested prior to slitting his wrists. He had assumed that the impending headache would be lost along with his last breath as he slipped into the afterlife. 

No longer my problem, he remembered thinking at the time. 

The world that had mocked him at every turn had apparently not yet been ready to for the party to end. Contemplating an encore attempt on his life, he found his courage had diluted along with the alcohol. 

He tried in vain to climb from the tub, but the blood loss that had not been sufficient to end his life had weakened him considerably. His foot slipped and his tailbone struck the bottom of the tub along with the back of his head. 

The streetlight blurred as he struggled to maintain consciousness.

Why am I still fighting? 

He pondered the question, but the migraine mitigated any attempt at rational thought.

A tear trickled down his cheek and rolled into the corner of his mouth. He smacked his dry lips on the saline, and the salt stung as it wicked into the cracks. The fresh pain pulled him back to reality as he read the clock-12:03.

Resigned to his present location, he closed his eyes to give the headache an opportunity to dissipate. 

He ignored the pinging that then began emanating from the drain at his feet. The superintendant had been promising to have the plumbing fixed for months, but like much in his life, the follow through had been lackluster. 

Perhaps if he had put his foot down harder, the man would have performed his duty and repaired the pipes. Gene thought that the issue must be that two of them had become unsecured in a confined space. That would explain them banging against each other when someone in the lower levels of the building turned their water on and off. 

It wouldn't take a lot to fix it. He kept repeating the thought in his head. 

His thoughts slowly evolved to how the super was a lot like him, probably allowing a lot of individually insignificant problems to go unadressed and compound over time.

He made the natural connection that if he had applied himself a little more, perhaps he could have improved his fortune.

The clock read 12:05.

His relaxed breathing drew in a sharp, pungent odor. It had the stench of a struck match, which was a foreign scent in his candle free bachelor pad. He opened his eyes, looking around for a possible source. The odor faded almost as quickly as it had arisen. 

The heavy lids of his eyes began to close again. Burning alive, unable to escape the tub after a failed suicide attempt would have been an extremely ironic way to pass, he thought. A smile began to twitch along the edges of his parched mouth for the first time in recent memory. 

Perhaps, when his constitution returned, he would give it another shot. His life may have only been one good push away from turning around. The possibility seemed to fill his chest with the air of inspiration. 

He could go back to school as he had always wanted to work in engineering. He would have to let his car go back, forfeit his apartment, and maybe declare bankruptcy, but he could do it. 

What was public opinion worth when he had already chosen to end his life? He was surprised to find that he didn't care. Societal pressure was nothing compared to the intestinal fortitude required to slit your own wrists. 

For the first time in his life, he could see light at the end of the tunnel. 

He glanced over at the clock, suddenly desperate to know the exact time that his life had turned around. The clock read 12:06, but the second hand was quickly streaking past the 6, so he decided to round up to 12:07. 

At 12:07AM on December 7th, 2008, Gene had decided that the only thing holding him back had been himself. His chest rose, taking in his first breath as a man free of his own demons. 

The antiseptic laced bathroom air he had expected to inhale was replaced with the acrid, sulfurous smell, back for an encore performance. The resulting coughing fit caused his still throbbing head to ring. A quick appraisal of his surroundings led him back to the drain.

Thick gray smoke had begun to rise from the pipes, lit by a faint orange glow. The pinging began again, and quickly rose in volume and frequency. 

Gene had the strange image of magma backing up through the drain, the vision sending shivers up his spine. He made another attempt at climbing from the tub, but could only lift himself an inch or two before his muscles atrophied and he collapsed back with a hollow thud.. 

Something hot and slimy scalded his leg. He heard the damage even before he felt it. Unable to provide even a token defense, he could only writhe in horror as a black, smoldering tendril rose from the drain and climbed his chest. His shirt gave way to smoking ashes at the mere touch of the wriggling stem. 

The skin quickly bubbled and blackened underneath, winding a scorched highway up his torso. Wherever the tendril made contact with his skin it split and curled away from the path of the appendage like a cheap plastic plate thrown into a campfire. 

Gene tried to scream, but the most his dehydrated vocal cords could muster was a hoarse whisper. 

The tendril forced itself against his lips, burning them away instantly as his teeth shattered from the rapid temperature change. Given an opening, the whip-like appendage forced its way into his mouth and grabbed something deep inside of him. 

The finality of the situation finally gripped him. He knew now that the drain in his tub would take him directly to hell the way all implausible information is accepted when no plausible alternative is available. All his recently acquired ambitions would go for naught, and this night would end the way he had originally planned. As all light began to fade, a perverted sense of accomplishment welled up within him. 

The tendril chose that moment to extract his blackened heart, retreating down the drain with it's catch.

The last image of Gene's mortal life was that of the clock running backwards, resting back at exactly midnight.

It seems the devil would have him, after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The journey of a thousand miles begins with 3103 steps.

10:32 PM

Here is the first chapter of my new novel "pre://d.o.mai.n/theSagaof/MilesTorvalds"

I decided to post it here to give everyone a taste of what I'm doing, and to get everyones impressions. 

If you like it, please let me know.  

If you think it has problems, I would like to know what they are as well. 

Thanks in advance for any comments! 



Chapter 1

By: Christopher Godsoe 

Miles Torvalds unfurled the 3'x2' roll of fabric and looped each corner over the spindly stainless steel frame. A single connection later and the fabric burst alive with color and movement.

The loading animation meandered across the screen as he clipped the image sensor to the well worn contact patch at the top center of the monitor. It took several attempts to seat the camera properly so that it would solidly illuminate the power led, but Miles had been through the process hundreds of times and eventually made the connection.

He wondered if the genius that dreamed up the flexible display had realized the paradox of making something more portable only to be confronted with the monumental pain in the ass of assembly later. He had to believe that a few extra days at the design table would have likely devised a more reliable solution.

Of course, if he hadn't pressed the unit well past it's recommended service life it may not have been an issue, but such was the case when you were financially drawn as he and his family were.

The load screen disappeared, replaced by a solitary cube rotating slowly in the center of the screen. In the background, the morning dawn was breaking over the crest of a hill. The hill was actually a physical location, located approximately 3 miles from his present position. He loved the view there, and apparently he was not alone as someone had setup a wireless broadcast camera there years ago and still currently made sure it was operational.

His last visit to the clearing with the exceptional view of the mountains was when he had noticed it; the innocuous black box mounted firmly to a branch opposite the sunrise. It had taken him only three hours to locate the feed and gain access. The security was rudimentary, most likely the out of the box security enabled in hardware on the unit itself. It was a token gesture that Miles assumed meant that the proprietor of the camera with access to his daily moment of zen was not overly worried about others partaking as well.

Six months later, after a bad fight with his then girlfriend, he felt the almost overpowering need to sit and lose himself in the almost endless perspective at the clearing. At the time of course it felt like the end of the world, but as he neared his 19th birthday he had gained the necessary distance from his childhood to realize that such things are not the end of the world.

Now he longed for that naïve sorrow, that weight on his chest. He knew on some level that it would go away at some point. That knowledge that while difficult to bear, the pain was acute and he would, as his father was known to say, "live and learn".

He had taken solace in that vista then, and as his life began to unravel he continued to return there, if only by proxy.

Now, as everything felt as though it were in free-fall, he left it on almost constantly. Like any drug, the images had begun to lose their effectiveness over time with use.

He raised his hands, palms facing the screen and paused until the cube twitched slightly. He then rotated his left hand slightly and the cube responded in kind, rotating and displaying a grid of nine icons along its face.

Were this 2010 instead of 2025, the object would be instantly recognizable as a Rubik's cube, with each of the individual faces emblazoned with a application shortcut.

Miles extended his right index finger slightly and selected his mail client. The program filled the screen, already having pulled the most recent batch of rejection letters from hospitals.

He had been expanding his search further and further away from their home, knowing that soon he would pass the threshold where it wouldn't be useful to search any further.
As it was, the list of hospitals that specialized in the form of aggressive gene therapy his mother needed was small. The list of hospitals that still accepted research cases that the hospital would themselves fund reduced the list to a select few.

On the plus side, it was a list that he could manage to contact by hand, giving each request the sincerity it deserved. On the flip side, it meant that the list of possible saviors for his dying mother was frighteningly small, and shrinking exponentially by the day as he became more and more frantic in his search.

He had sent the requests without his mothers or fathers knowledge. They were proud, both of them, but he was not. He would beg until the end of the earth before he accepted defeat.

Secretly, he resented them for what he saw as, "giving up".

He clasped his hands angrily together and the mail program crumpled like a sheet of paper and disappeared.

He angrily spun his left hand and the cube blurred into a diamond shaped top as a simulated physical inertia carried it around.

He settled into thought, glancing around the cube at the scenic view it partially obscured.

He decided to voyage to the real location in the near future. Why this view captivated him so much he couldn't say. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that over the years the view had come to embody freedom in his mind at a time when all he saw told him freedom was an illusion.

His mother was a prisoner of her bed, her illness, and their house.

His father was a prisoner of his mother, although it was the last thing she would have wanted.

He was a prisoner of his love for them, which would not allow him to leave and pursue his new life when his mother had such little time left.

They were all a prisoner of the endless system of insurance, government, and selectively imposed legality that had denied his mother coverage when they had dutifully paid their premiums for close to three decades.

Miles hated that feeling, that he had no control over his life, that someone else was pulling his strings, that he and his family were not free to live the lives meant for them.

So, in a nutshell, the mountain range partially occluded by atmospheric haze in the distance, the green grass and reflective water embodied the limitless optimism that he had possessed as a child.

Somewhere, along the meandering path of his childhood he had lost that innocence, that belief that all things were possible, and like most of the world, he would spend the rest of his life trying to close the curtain on reality and recapture that feeling.

The mountain range, that clearing, was his last little piece of that.

Miles caught the slowly decelerating cube and twitched it one more quarter turn to the right, selecting his social network  "LOCALE".

A flat grid emerged from the empty plane of existence between the very real plastic surface of the display and the very filtered image of the clearing. It tilted towards him at a 45 degree angle and shapes simulating the combination of old architecture and new construction of downtown emerged from the flat plane to fill the plane.

Small three dimensional avatars populated the map in the voids representing streets, occupied benches in the parks, gazed out windows in cafes.

"LOCALE, locate Skyler for me."

The map rotated and panned, then slowly zoomed in until the bright red mop of hair could be seen, then zoomed in further until Miles could see that he was feebly pushing his breakfast around his plate while his mother continued to apply her makeup as she sat on the couch.

He took another few bites before discarding the rest. Miles remembered when the ability to follow the majority of someone's day had held a sort of voyeuristic thrill to him. 

Obviously the program was entirely opt in, and you could turn off visibility to the network as you saw fit at any time, but the majority of the time people just left it on, realizing that in a world populated with traffic camera's, "Public disturbance surveillance", and entirely too much satellite observation, not much was secret anyways.

The majority of the youthful user base of Locale saw the networks ubiquitous surveillance as a way to give the government and observing entities the virtual "finger". 

The sentiment went, "If they want to spend that much money just to see what I'm doing, I'll give that info away for free just show them that they aren't the only ones with that kind of power".

The older generations were seen as power hungry, greedy, and protectionist.
The rebellious youths fought back against this the same way that rebellious youths always have, by flouting the system and spreading their wings to see how far they can fly before running into the bars of the cage.

Miles clasped his hands again to close the program, he had seen that Skyler was already on his way to meet him at the internet café that they frequented.

He closed his hand while twisting his wrist, making the gesture  that he had recently programmed to control the shutdown procedure, that of twisting out the still beating heart of an enemy.

A little dramatic, but then again, Miles had a lot to be angry about, and a lot of hearts that he would like to rip out, if only virtually.

He could hear the raspy sound from the hall as he descended the stairs.

Every morning, the same sound greeted him, slowly growing in volume from his bedroom door to the hallway.

From the door to his room, some mornings he could convince himself the sound came from the tree whose branches bathed the stained glass window on the second floor landing in a kaleidoscopic shadow three quarters of the year.

By the time he reached the end of the hallway where the stairwell ended his capacious imagination was overcome by the stark reality that his mother was dying, and there was nothing he could do about it.

He could move digital mountains, work terabytes of data the way a sculptor handles softened clay, but in the real world, he was as powerless as everyone else.

The ravages of time would take his mother soon, the doctors had all but assured he and his father of that, but at least this morning she seemed to be alert and happy to see him. He could take solace in that much, at least.

"Good Morning". He tried as always to keep his voice cordial and even. He didn't want her to feel the change in him like she had in everyone else.

She had thanked him for it before, explained how everyone else handled her with what she called "kid gloves", and that she had been happy that he had not.

He told her that she would always be his mom, no matter what the test results had to say.

He had to be the strong one.

His mothers condition had broken his father in a way it could not his mother.

He was a beaten man trying to be the rock that she needed, but in reality he was having all he could do to keep himself going.

In many ways the crushing of his fathers spirit troubled Miles more than his mothers prognosis, itself dire. He worried that when his mother died his father may not last long without her.

He could see him enter the study from the corner of his eye as he approached his mother's bed, the stainless steel and dull plastic out of place amongst the well oiled shelving and antique table lamps.

The study had been converted from the poor man's library it had been in a previous life to his mothers makeshift hospice suite, and in many ways the conversion served as a microcosm of his fathers regression from a man that had a zest for learning, with myriad projects and interests, to his mothers caretaker.

Another sad fact in an entirely depressing situation.

Many of his father's old books still populated the shelves, collecting dust. Miles knew with every part of his soul that they would likely never be opened by his father's talented hands again.

He leaned in and gave his mother a light kiss on the cheek, an arm around her that was little more than a formality. The cancer had robbed her of so much muscle and bone mass that the healthy bear hugs he used to give her could cause irreparable damage.
"You hanging out with the guys today?" She asked him, the  exertion from the question enough to cause his mother's respiratory rate to climb.

"Yes, I'll be back in time for lunch. Rest and try not to talk too much. Dad's going to start telling you what to do again as soon as I leave and you need to save your strength to argue with him".

His mother smiled but said no more, only nodded and turned her head to smile at her husband.

"Oh, she knows better than to argue with me," his father said with a smile.

His mother rolled her eyes theatrically and Miles smiled back at her as he turned and left.
Once he was out of eyesight, his pace quickened.

He pushed through the front door and out onto the street, the first few steps somewhere between a dash and a sprint.

After a moment, he could feel the ethereal tether pulling at him from his mothers bed losing its grip, and he slowed to a more casual walk.

A few more corners, an unmarked side street and he reached the coffee shop where he and his friends hung out. More commonly, it was referred to as an internet café, but as he and his friends carried more mobile processing hardware in their pockets and backpacks than the café could boast in its entire commercial life span, they rarely made use of those services.

The din of clacking keys, clicking mice and techno music did remind them of their childhood, or the abbreviated few years of awkward adjustment that served as one anyways.

They could feel at home here. Too young to drink, the seedy little internet Café served the purpose of the local bar where everyone knows your name, but no one judges you. It was a place to belong for a generation that didn't want to belong to anyone or anything.

Miles noticed the familiar red mop of his cousin Skyler's hair and gave it a shake as he curled around and slid into the opposite side of the booth.

"Hey, how's it going?" Skyler's predictable greeting.

Innocuous enough, but Miles knew what he really was asking was, "Hey, how's your mom doing? How's your father holding up? We worry about you."

Miles gave his standard response, "Same old, same old."

Which was of course code for, "Things still suck, they're just taking their time progressing. I see her every day so I can't really tell how much worse she is getting over time."

Skyler opened his pack and handed Miles a box wrapped in packing paper.

The little box broke through Miles melancholy demeanor immediately.

He looked up at his cousin with an expression of amazed delight.

"Dude, your sideARM came in?"

Skyler smiled crookedly. They both knew what the box contained, a state of the art mobile computer that the hacker community had come to refer to as a "sideARM" in deference to the handguns used by police officers while referencing the processor architecture that it employed.

In many ways, the mobile computing devices served much the same purpose. As the government and law enforcement became more corrupt, the hacker community had begun to assume more and more of the "Robin Hood" role. They attempted to right as many wrongs as possible, while at the same time attempting to cover their tracks well enough to elude the cyber crime division and live to fight another day.

Skyler's parents, Miles fathers brother and wife, were wealthy. They had none of the struggles that Miles' parents did in trying to assume his mothers expenses while trying to keep the mortgage paid.

Skyler had asked multiple times for Miles blessing to ask his parents to help, but Miles father forbid it.

The one time Miles went around his father's back and mentioned it to his mother, she explained to him that it was not his father's decision to not accept the help, it was hers.
The offer of financial help from his Aunt and Uncle had made Miles' parents uncomfortable around their own family, and after a few quiet visits they stopped visiting, requiring Skyler to ask the same questions every time he spoke with Miles and hoping for different answers. It was also the reason why he felt the need to hide his meeting with Skyler from his parents to avoid exacerbating their shame.

Her body may have been failing, but her mind was still sharp as ever. A lifelong accountant, she knew the expenses that her husband was struggling with, and knew that when she was gone the debts would still need to be satisfied from somewhere.

When a treatment became available that could possibly cure her at considerable expense, Miles father had spent weeks trying to find a way to pay for it. He explored all possibilities, from selling the house to taking out loans with near larcenous interest, all of which were vetoed by his mother.

His father had argued with her for hours when she finally gave him her decision. His father had admitted to him later that he would continue to find a way to get the money.

Miles had a similar plan, but the odd programming jobs he had taken, data retrieval, etc, had only yielded enough money to help with monthly expenses. Miles had written a subroutine and snuck it onto the family mainframe that would misrepresent financial transactions from the hospital, making them less than expected by the amounts he deposited, in effect laundering his contributions in a way that would not allow his family to know how much he was helping.

"That's not mine." His cousin smiled at him deviously.

Miles didn't understand initially, but caught up quickly.

"No… didn't."

Skyler's smile spread into a wide grin."Damn right I did."

Miles leaned over the counter and gave his cousin a one-armed hug. "I can't pay you back for this."

Skyler's jovial expression hardened, became determined, resigned.

"You're going to need it."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Free Will and other Malarchy

12:18 AM
While I was enjoying the modern marvel of "Watch Instantly" films with my Netflix account tonight, I took in two movies that I believe carry more profound statements about the human condition than the "Summer Blockbuster" status they were saddled with.

First I watched "Surrogates", where almost the entire populace has taken to interacting with the world outside of their homes through robotic proxies. It is a movie that I had been meaning to see for some time but never got around to it, the theme of becoming dependent on  intermediaries to interact with the outside world on your behalf is something that the perceptive, open minded individual can already see happening to some degree today. When people try to resume an actual fleshly interaction with the outside world, they suffer from anxiety over the worry of what can happen to them.

Many people interact often through facebook or their cell phones much more comfortably than they do in person. Online, they can be more direct, more confident, the way they would like to be in real life. 

The false protection the couple hundred miles of copper wire and fiber optic cable give them functions much in the same way that alcohol can function for someone that has trouble approaching difficult situations. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some anti-technology evangelist looking to go back to two cups with a taught string to relay messages. I love technology, gadgets and the seamless communication opportunities that they enable. 

I'm simply spitballing about the inherit dangers that accompany all of this, and I feel it's important to consider the implications. 

It can be used to replace normal human interaction, can be employed as a coping mechanism, and ultimately strip us of our humanity if allowed to do so. 

What does this have to do with free will? Well, some of the characters steer some pretty strange behavior through their "Surrogates". One could say that the removal of fear has "set them free" to live the exciting, adventurous way that they choose without the risk of injury or death.

Of course, their-in lies the paradox. If you are not actually at risk, how adventurous can your life be? If you spend the entire day controlling a robot to act on your behalf, relying on it's interpreted sensory perceptions of the outside world, you're not much better then a brain in a vat with wires coming out of it.

That brings me to the second movie that I watched-"Gamer". Gerard Butler's character Kable basically serves as a "Surrogate" to Simon, a 17 year old boy that has used daddies bank account to purchase a human life to play Black Ops with.

The concept is ingenious. You get the mortality of the convicts in the "game" butting up against the desensitized youth that cares more about their convict making them look good than them as a human being. 

Simon even says at one point, "They're convicts, they had it coming anyways". 

Kable replies, "What about me?"

"You're different"

So essentially what he's saying is that, "they're all criminals, but I'm willing to put you on a pedestal because you're helping me get what I want, fame". His connection to Kable further distances him from the lives of the other convicts as they explode into human effluence around him.

Kable has no free will until halfway through the movie, when the "Humanz" Hacker group uploads a bit of software to Simon's hard drives and frees Kable. 

I love movies like this because under the explosions, special effects and CGI, they make you really think. 

Just what is free will?

You recognize it when it's completely gone, as in Kable's case, but there are more subtle measures of control that can limit free will. 

Going back to "Surrogates", the people are extremely reckless and impulsive when controlling their robots. Undoubtedly they feel that the cybernetic components are a part of them, and that they are actually doing these things themselves.

That's the illusion, the glamour of what is designed to shield them from the fact that they are no different than a guy with a remote control in his hand telling a machine what to do and calling it life. 

You have the choice to control as you will, but the simple fact that you are controlling a machine that is not a part of you, the actual spiritual "you" that has evolved from birth to adulthood clouds your judgement and enables choices that you would not make were the consequences more natural.

At one point one of his wifes friends allows Bruce Willis' character to literally beat the synthetic flesh from his face as he mocks him.

Not likely to happen in that flesh were not a latex composite. 

In Gamer, Kable's wife is forced into actions that she would not choose for herself out of need for money in order to get her daughter back. Unbeknown to her, her daughter was taken as part of a grand scheme and she will not be allowed to get her back regardless of the level of depravity she succumbs to. 

Free Will taken, Free Will subverted through deceit and more subtle means of manipulation. 

Some would argue that the choices you make are already decided, that you are the person that you are and the choices that you make will never change. They would say that just because you cannot see every consequence of your actions, they are still your actions and Free Will is an illusion. It's called nihilism, essentially that nothing you do bears any great significance because it's all preordained.

Those people would say that we are all slaves to our destiny. It's an interesting theory, but not one that I subscribe to. I think every choice you make in life is the by product of genetic predisposition combined with the stimulus taken in over time. 

If you are a violent person by nature, then environment can shade you in a different direction, but not correct the condition. It's much like how a good card player can sometimes salvage a bad hand, but he will never beat a player that is dealt a Royal Flush. 

And what does this have to do with writing, you ask? Yes, everything that I post here on this blog has to do with writing, as that is what I do here, that is the purpose of this site. 

Fictional characters have no free will apart from the will that you give them in your own mind, though at times it doesn't feel that way. Sometimes the characters can almost "speak" to you, telling you what they would do. This is nothing more than an extension of the writers will, but if the phenomenon can cause a writer to steer from what he wants to accomplish, to cause more problems for him or herself in plot and setting, how can that be considered the writers will?

I chuckle when I compare that with a commonly accepted theory that God gives us free will, then condemns those of us that don't act as he would choose. Once you set the wheels in motion, it seems, you aren't always responsible for what comes of it.

Sometimes it can completely screw up your outline, so you are forced to either choose a different motivating factor for that character or derail the narrative and take the story off the tracks.

But can a fictional character have free will? Are any of us any more than the puppets to the chaotic arithmetic of reality?

I think that the important thing is to ask these questions, not necessarily to think that you can answer them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What I have cooking.....

10:23 PM
I've been having a little bit of a hard time getting back into the swing of things regarding my next novel since the worst of the cold from hell has passed (If you haven't had it yet, you will).

I decided to write this little piece outlining the themes I am looking to incorporate into the novel and hopefully it will start the creative juices flowing.

The story, if my shameless self-promotion campaign has somehow eluded you, introduces the character of Miles Torvalds as a young man with a serious problem.

His mother is dying of cancer.

The story is set in the not too distant year of 2021, and technology has evolved.

It has also further become a barrier from life to those that seek to use it as such, and liberating to those that can wield it's awesome power.

For instance, modern medicine has progressed to the point where certain cancers are cureable.

More importantly, the form of cancer that is slowly dragging Miles' mother into a early grave is cureable.

No problem, right? Wrong.

Natural miracles are free, those crafted by the hand of man are quite often not.

The Torvald's have medical insurance, but the greed of insurance companies is apparently not as easily cured as cancer. Miles pursues all legal and obvious avenues to help his mother to no avail.

So, reluctantly he decides to give up and resigns himself to the fact that his mother will not see another Christmas.

Well, if you believe that, you don't know Miles very well. Don't worry, if you choose to take this little journey with me, you will.

The exhaustion of legal options does put him at a crossroads of his life. His mothers illness has taken a toll on his father, who now manages to appear more tired and weak than his dying mother.

He wants to see his parents laugh again. He wants to hear more of his mothers boundless optimism for his future without it being tinted with the regret that she will likely not be there to see it.

They have always told him that he would do great things.

Well, one persons greatness is another persons villainy. All that is left is for him to decide who will hate him when the dust settles.

Will it be the "system"? The faceless puppeteers that control the fortunes of millions by having the resources to shape policy and deflect guilt?

Or will it be himself? His family could never hate him for not excommunicating himself, but he would always know that he left options on the table to save his mother. How could he look himself in the mirror every day knowing he didn't do everything he could?

That decision is the crux of the novel. His choice comes early in the book, and I don't think that it takes a rocket scientist to see which way he is leaning.

Of course, those of us outside the dark reach of the situation can cheer him on to his life as a fugitive from the safety of the other side of the page.

The simple fact is it is more entertaining to watch someone do courageous things that we might not have the guts to do ourselves, to imagine ourselves doing them and glean some semblance of pride in the ability to visualize our role in a fictional characters accomplishments than to lay our own freedom on the line.

The small matter of planning how to steal a large sum of money, actually pulling it off, then getting away with it long enough to use it to fund his mothers life saving surgery will sure be plenty fun for us to watch, sadists that we are.

I want to invest you in his actions, his choices, because this novel is not the end of Miles story.

He plays a large part in my upcoming novel "d.o.mai.n", and the story of how he became the person depicted in that novel is, I believe, a fascinating story.

I want to make you ask yourself the same questions that Miles has to ask himself, to be weighed down by the gravity of the consequences from the safety of your own imagination.

I want you to realize that the fictional world I offer is no different than our own in the sense that often there are no right answers, only a choice between acceptable losses.

I want you to feel guilty along with Miles, I want you to share pride in his successes, to feel you have a stake in his plans, and be halved by his losses.

Oh yes, there will be losses.

You cannot tread in the footprints of a power you don't understand without attrition.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I couldn't write at 18, but hope I can now.

8:29 PM
Common wisdom dictates that you start out having to be taught everything, learn until you think you know everything, then realize you don't know anything.

Most people make this same progression in their lives, and certainly I am no different.

I was an uncommonly inquisitive child, an arrogant adolescent (some would state that I haven't fully left this stage behind me yet), and have come to realize that answers are best sought than known.

The journey of life is, at least in my eyes, about learning. A person that stops learning is intellectually like a shark that stops swimming.

I don't believe it's the answers that we find in life that are important, it's the trials we must endure to learn them. There are no shortcuts.

Try telling a teenager something, then watch. They will undoubtedly do what they think is right, disregarding your advice and make the same mistake that you tried to save them from.

Of course, you did the same when you were their age as well, so it's with a hint of hypocrisy when you chastize them for not listening. (If you happen to be one of those kids that always took advice and never made stupid mistakes, I pity you for the adult you must have become).

The point being that we humans make mistakes, and through the years and pain discover things about ourselves that are much like riding a bike in that they can't be explained with words or Powerpoint presentations, they must be mastered through trial and error.

Writing is a lot like that to me. I have always enjoyed writing, but never had a lot to say. My stories have evolved as I have grown, and disputably, matured.

When I was in grade school, they contained graphic depictions of action sequences, reflections of the horror movies I loved, and the minimal amount of plot necessary to tie it all together.

When I was in High School, they became more expressive, exploring the emotional angst-filled situations that I had only begun to wade through. My characters had all the answers, because I thought I did.

And now? I write about what interests me, knowing I have very few of the answers. I write everything from horror to Drama to Science Fiction, my favorite. I has come to realize that having all of the answers is boring. No one wants to read a story where it is understood that the hero will never take a scratch.

As a child I dreamt a lot more than I do as an adult. I don't know if it's a chemical change in my brain or because I push a lot of subconscious thoughts and concerns that I might dream about onto paper with my writing.

I do know that whatever I am experiencing in my life affects what comes out on the screen in front of me. Initially I hid from it, only writing when I was in the right frame of mind to produce the story that I had carefully scripted in my mind, but lately I've been using it to my advantage.

I listen to music themed to what emotions I am trying to capture in my characters as I write specific scenes. If I have a bad day, I skip ahead and write a scene that is designed to show anger or frustration.

Every day I get another piece of the package I need to become the writer I hope to be. I still have a lot to learn, and I probably always will.

But the journey will be enjoyable, of that I'm certain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Conditions of Creativity

1:04 AM
The nasty cold that I've been battling these past few days has driven me away from my keyboard at a time when I desperately want to make some headway on my novel pre://d.o.mai.n/theSagaof/MilesTorvalds.

And that got me thinking.

I realized that it's always been this way for all mankind. Creativity ebbs and flows with the amount of time we have to "screw off", so to speak.

I heard that Google, the search company, allows it's employees to work on side projects for 20% of their work hours, to get them involved in new thinking and paradigm shifts.

I fear how impressed I am at this concept, that employees should be given the liberty to seek answers within the realm of the business for themselves, is the antithesis of the vast majority of the working people in this country. If creativity truly does get it's genesis from our down time, then the encroaching corporate structure is threatening to push us back to the stone age.

Let me take you back in time a few thousand years.......

Throughout our history as a species, only once we became relatively secure near the top of the food chain did our art evolve from crude cave drawings to sculpture, frescoes, etc.

Case in point, It's awful difficult creating entertainment and works of cultural significance when you are running for your life.

People who are considered "Cultured" typically have more free time due to either a job that allows them to pay others to perform mundane tasks that would typically consume said free time, or are independently  wealthy and don't need to work.

Very few people that work 60 plus hours a week for middle income wages are considered "cultured", again, it's hard to muster the energy for art and deep thought when you are fighting for your life.

The only difference is that now the fight is societal and financial instead of physical.

This, in my opinion, is what has become wrong with this country. When you have to fight every day just to scratch yourself back to the line you started from, you don't have alot of energy to pursue new ground.

That new ground is our swagger as a society, our greatness. The enterprising spirit is still alive in this generation, probably the next as well, but if we don't start working for class equality, then the generation after that will simply succumb to whatever is thrust upon them, and our great nation will have enslaved itself to the very ideals that it fought against less than 300 years ago.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

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