Flashing #59: Microfiction

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Taking a stab at 6-word fiction. Hemingway's was better but, you know...I'm not Hemingway.

More flashing at the main page.

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Ambulance by retirement community. No-one's rushing.

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What's going on with Flashing

Monday, June 29, 2009

As you can see I stalled on #58 which, unfortunately, was porno. I'm working on some paying gigs now and trying to get some additional paying gigs so, for the moment, this free-to-the-world stuff will be a bit slower.

They'll still be coming, but the Monday-Friday thing isn't my #1 priority at the moment. Unless someone wants to pay me for this, of course.

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Flashing #58 - Erotica

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I was going to call this “Post-Atomic Erotica” but realized that’s the most pretentious thing I can ever call anything. This story is inspired by The Postal Service’s “We Will Become Silhouettes,” the most beautiful song ever written about dying in a nuclear holocaust. I wanted to capture that songs sense of beauty and life and move it into an erotic story. So this is the result – short and to the point.

More Flashing at the main page.

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There’s a calm about her thighs. He finds it out of place as he moves his finger from her neck down to her knees, finding goose flesh and shivers over every inch of her body except for her thighs. They’re smooth and relaxed, accepting, comforted. As the rain cracks and the sky burns red her thighs remain at peace with the air, the grass, the poison, his hand. Her breath picks up, her chest heaves, her heart pounds, her lips quiver, her eyes tear, her skin burns, but her thighs – they’re in a different world.

He turns her towards him and whispers, “It’s time.” Her eyes are wide and her face is red and her hands are clenched and some of her organs are as cooked and painful as her charring skin but her thighs open gracefully. He comes on top of her and wastes no time, his cock slides smoothly into her pussy, moist with heat and rain and a wetness never meant for this but fitting for the moment.

With each thrust of his cock she bites her lip, drawing blood, the flesh is weak. He kisses her and sucks the rapidly dividing cells from her mouth. As their faces lock his hands move to her breasts. He pinches her nipple and the feel as if they’re giving way – as if they’re melting into his fingers. He moves his other hand to her ass, covered with rain and soil, and it once again feels as if he’s pushing through her. It’s happening in their legs, as well, and their stomachs and their chests and their lips. Everything’s losing boundaries, merging together, combining to form a solitary mass of energy and dying skin.

His cock thrusts deeper and faster. She wants to scream but their lips are now inseparable. He pries his hand from her tits and moves it to her hair, pulling her head back to expose her neck, his other hand reaching up to caress it and do the job his lips can’t do. She twists as he moves his searing fingers across her most erogenous area and he twists with her. There’s no longer movement without both of them moving – their bodies are no longer separate. She cums and snaps her head forward, leaving his hand with a clump of hair and scalp, he moves it to her cheek and strokes her until he can’t move it anymore.

His movements become frantic as the pain becomes unbearable. He manages to look into her eyes and he sees a tranquility that’s juxtaposed to his chaotic desperation. He stops his movements and rests inside her, eyes locked, bodies melted – everything as calm as her thighs, now. Everything satisfied and ready.

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Flashing #57: Social Commentary

No intro needed. More Flashing at the main page.

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John and Kate are getting a divorce. I honestly don’t give a shit; I never watched the show and I didn’t even know it existed until this season. But their big announcement was broadcast across every single news site, blog, and twitter feed and the “heartbreaking” news was impossible to avoid.

Before they announced their divorce all I knew about John & Kate was that they opted out of selective reduction, an incredibly irresponsible decision made by parents who claim six viable fetuses was “God’s Will” and not the will of some fucked-up fertility doctor going nuts with a turkey baster in order to keep his stats up. It’s the classic “pick-and-choose” approach to religion and ideals: it wasn’t “God’s Will” to make Kate’s womb a poison valley incapable of cultivating life but it was God’s will to turn 85.7% of the fertilized embryos implanted in your uterus into little bundles of malnourished joy, each with a high probability of premature birth and multiple health problems.

That’s basically all I ever need to know about John & Kate. And now this divorce story is on my radar.

Honestly, if you actually care that these irresponsible fame whores are getting divorced I think less of you. I don’t care who you are. You could be my mom – you could be Santa Claus – no matter who you are, if you’re shedding a single tear for this couple you don’t even know, this walking argument for the necessity of Baby Licenses, I’m pretty sure there’s a part of you that’s missing or at least in desperate need of repair.

You see – normally I’d go on and write a 2000-word essay detailing why I hate you and why I’m pretty sure society doesn’t really need you. The 266 words above – they would have been my introduction. I would have followed it up with a tirade aimed at you and your passing obsession with things that not only don’t matter – at all – but are actually so bad they tend to negate whatever scraps of positive culture America is still capable of producing. I would have peppered the essay with Mark Sanford and Michael Steele jokes because politics is my pointless obsession, patted myself on the back, and anxiously waited for a reply along the lines of “I’m praying for John and Kate” so I could write a meaner (and longer) follow-up essay on how praying for John and Kate will never make them better people because, if there is a God, he doesn’t give a shit about them either.

And the essay would have had tons of run-on sentences, much like the ones you’re seeing here. I like using run-on sentences when I’m in “rant mode.” I guess you could call it a style. I also have a shit load of non sequiturs, pointless anecdotes, and self-referential analysis of my writing style.

But I digress.

I’m not going to write that essay. I’m not going to allow myself to care enough. Something substantial is going on in this world, and I’m not saying that we should focus all of our attention on this thing, but I am saying this thing is making me change my priorities. This thing started in November, when we elected Barack Obama for President. This thing has continued to build from his actions and his words. It hangs in the air. We see the LTTE finally defeated. We see Iranians rejecting their hard-line, fear-mongering leaders, we see Pakistani tribesmen forming militias and hunting down Taliban fighters.

There is an infectious feeling of positivity and hope that you can see if you look past the MSNBCs and Fox Newses of the world. There are millions of people who are coming out from an eight-year haze, shaking off the hate and the fear, and demanding what’s rightfully theirs.

I can go on and on with hyperbole but I want to focus on Iran. I’ve been following the Iranian situation via Twitter since January 14th or so and the sequence of events that got us here couldn’t be clearer in my mind. Ahmadinejad was Iran’s (Khamenei’s) response to George Bush and the man’s desire to put dysfunctional democracies in the Middle East. Khamenei has made a career out of hating America and George Bush was like Christmas present stuffed inside a Birthday present stuffed inside a Cadbury Crème Egg – he was delicious. Obama comes along and says he’s going to try a diplomatic approach with Iran. Every wing-nut in the world makes fun of him. He gets elected, sworn-in, and several months later he’s giving his speech in Cairo. In the speech he actually makes some concessions to Iran, not big ones, but they were there. He once again repeats his desire to work with Iran and not to hinder them from growing in anyway. But, most importantly, he speaks to the Iranian people. He takes a completely different approach as Bush. Khamenei needs America as an America or else he becomes irreverent so before the polls close, before a single vote is probably even counted, he announces Ahmadinejad is the winner, case closed, “Fuck you Obama, the people don’t want your peace.” But the people see through it and they do want Obama’s peace. I’m not saying they want to be America’s BFF but they don’t want the hard line anymore. It doesn’t have to be Us vs. Them anymore. There are middle grounds, America agrees to meet Iran half-way but Iran’s current leadership refuses to even budge. And the people revolt. And the images and the stories coming out of that revolution have been inspiring.

I’m going to bring this all together now. I know you’re expecting me to say something along the lines of, “So why are you worrying about John & Kate when there’re more important things going on in Iran.” But you’re wrong, that’s not the point of this essay. Here’s the point…

Why are you caring about John & Kate, and all the negative shit that goes with it, when there’s positivity in the air? It may seem bloody and chaotic right now, but change is no longer just being promised – it’s actually coming. Isn’t this what we voted for? Shouldn’t we be changing our priorities to match what’s going on in the world? Shouldn’t we start caring about the good again?

Why are you wasting your time on the negative?

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Flashing #55: Romantic Comedy

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I wrote this in 15 minutes. I’m sure it shows.

I hate most romantic comedies. They’re insulting. 95% of them have the following plot: Big city girl (or guy) gets forced to live in a small town. She (or he) has trouble fitting in at first but they eventually begin to fall in love with small town life. She (or he) meets a guy (or girl) who at first is the embodiment of everything they hate about small towns but eventually the guy (or girl) wins her (or him) over with his rugged good lucks (or overt cuteness). They have a moment but then she (or he) has to go back to his (or her) city. There’s a montage set to a Bruce Springsteen song and the movie ends with the girl (or guy) moving back to the small town.

So I decide to make a real ending to the above movie. And now I’m going to bed. More Flashing at the main page.

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Harold uses his grease-covered shirt to wipe the sweat from his eyes. His left hand fumbles his wrench and it drops below the four-color, coming dangerously close to the reels, before hitting the ground beneath the press with a clang. He drops down to the floor and reaches his hand below the metal walkway in an attempt to reclaim his wrench, holding his hand out against the side of the press to keep his balance. His loose sleeve gets sucked up by the giant reels and pulls his arm into the behemoth. He screams out for help, but Bobby’s at the other end of the press checking the color levels of the latest sheet and Jimmy’s out back smoking one of his Backwoods cigars. He tries to fight off the reels that seem intent on sucking his entire arm into the machine, praying to God for a miracle, when someone hits the emergency switch, causing the press to come to an abrupt halt, Harold’s elbow centimeters from being crushed.

Harold tries to pull his shirt out from the press but the giant mass of rubber and metal refuses to budge. He hears the unmistakable click-clack of high heels on concrete and smiles, knowing full well who his savior is. “Well I’ll be damned, Zoe,” he says, not seeing the owner of the heels, “Before we get all weepy can you be a doll and hit the reverse button?”

The reels lurch back, spitting Harold’s shirt out in the process. Harold turns to see Zoe standing behind him, her face filled with the spit and vinegar he’s grown to love but missed dearly over the past couple of months. “You saved my life, honey. Jeanie’s gonna wanna hug you for that.”

“Or hit me.”

The old friends laugh as Harold slowly pulls himself off the floor, flexing his shoulder and making sure all the parts still work. “Could be. Can never tell with that girl.”

“Well, if she had any sense she’d hit me. I’m sure she’d do anything to get a worthless slob like you out of her life.”

Harold stops flexing his shoulder and stares, dumbfounded, at Zoe – a girl he thought he knew. “Well that was pretty mean, Zoe.”

“Sorry if I hurt your fucking feelings, Harold. But the thought of having to live another day in this shithole while corporate sorted out another lawsuit makes me want to punch myself in the vagina until I spontaneously impregnate myself and then punch myself some more in order to abort the putrid fetus.”

Harold doesn’t know how to respond. Luckily for him Jimmy turns the corner, cigar ash covering his novelty t-shirt that reads, “Free Mustache Rides.”

“Well I’ll be damned! If it ain’t Ms. Big City coming back down to see us regular folk. What’s the matter, sweetheart, missed us?”

Zoe sneers at Jimmy, wanting to make some comment about his shirt and his choice of pronouns and sexual harassment but she bottles it all up and gets right down to business. “Where’s Sam?” she asks.

“He’s over at the die-cutter today. He’s gonna be mighty to happy to see you, I’m thinking.”

“Thank God we don’t pay to you to think,” Zoe responds as she turns and walks over to the finishing room. She walks in and shrugs off Phil and Johnny and Tony and Greg and Bill and John and Philly and Bob and Jim and Sammy and Chris and Poncho (the token Mexican, as she calls him) before making her way to Sam at the die-cutting machine.

“Oh!” Sam says as he quickly tries to fix up his fantastic black mane, “You’re back?” His perfectly-cut jaw forms a smile that accentuates his deep blue eyes.

Zoe walks right up to Sam and slaps him as hard as her frail hands can slap him. She breaks two nails in the process, but it’s worth it as far as she’s concerned.

“How many times do I have to tell you to stop sending me stuff? The flowers, the letters, the chocolates – what the fuck do you think I am? Do you think I’m some horny high school girl oozing over your rugged good lucks, wishing you’d drive by my condo so I can sneak out the window and let you fingerbang me at Lover’s Point?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Stop it. Stop trying to get in touch with me. Take a fucking hint – we fucked! Awesome! You were incredibly mediocre at best! Honestly, I’ve had more orgasmic experiences eating at shitty Indian restaurants than I had in your bedroom.”

“I really thought we…”

“I know what you thought, but I also know you’re an idiot. What did you think I’d do – give up my career and my salary and my incredibly AWESOME life so that I can move down to this Podunk town, marry you, and help you raise you’re two kids – one of which is most likely retarded? Are you really that fucking stupid?”

Sam just stares at Zoe, waiting for the punchline.

“If I get one more anything from you I’m going to come down here with an army of lawyers, sue you for sexual harassment, and have the state take your kids away. And then I’m going to fuck your retarded son while you watch just to prove a point. Are we clear?”

Sam cracks a smile, trying to force some humor into this ultimatum.

“You’re smiling. Of course. I have to go so, in conclusion,” Zoe kicks Sam in the balls as hard as she can. Sam drops to the ground, the smile effectively wiped from his face. All the Billies and Bobbies and Jimmies clutch their own balls in empathy for Sam. Zoe just looks at them and shakes her head. “You fucking monkeys.”

She walks towards the exit. The people in the shop listen to the click-clack of her heels for the last time.

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Flashing #54: African Mythology

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tired - long day. Sorry this is so late. I kind of rushed it, too, so it's not my favorite story by any means. More Flashing at the main page.

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Nafula sat against a tree. The ground was dry and the tree felt weak. Nafula looked up to the heavens and saw a cloud in the distance. It was a small cloud, traveling by itself, but it was the only cloud Nafula has seen in many months. She called out to it, “Cloud!” and the cloud came to her.

“Can I help you?” asked the cloud.

“This ground is dry and this tree is dying. They need water. You must open up for them,” said Nafula.

“But if I open up for the ground and that tree I will no longer be a cloud and I like being a cloud,” the cloud replied.

Nafula’s throat was dry and she felt too weak to stand. “But I need water and the crops in the village are dying. You must open up so I can have a drink and food.”

The cloud looked remorseful but it still refused to help Nafula. “That is very sad,” said the cloud, “but if I open up for you I will no longer be a cloud and I like being a cloud.”

Nafula thought of her brother and mother. “But my family needs water and food, too, or else we will all die.”

The cloud was torn but hardened. “I don’t want your village to die but if I am no longer a cloud than I will die and I do not want to die.”

Nafula, who was wise for such a young child, had an idea that would help her village and the cloud. “Go and get other clouds, as many clouds as you can find, and join with them to become the biggest cloud in the sky. Open up for 30 days. Stop before you get too small and then go find more clouds again. Come back and open up when you’re once again the biggest cloud in the sky.”

The little cloud thought about the idea and saw that it was good. It circled the lands and found thousands of clouds to join with. The little cloud soon became the biggest cloud in the sky and it opened up for Nafula and her people. Rain and lightening came down from the heavens for thirty straight days and after it all the cloud was once again a tiny puff in the sky.

The cloud liked being so big so it went off to look for more clouds and once again become the biggest cloud in the sky. And Nafula and her people had food and water to last them the rest of the year.

And that is why the skies open up once a year.

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Flashing #53: Post-911 Fiction

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I always loved how people in small towns, who's lives where in no real danger from terrorism EVER, and who hated New Yorkers with a PASSION, where always the first ones to point to 9-11 as a rallying cry for neoconservatism. So I drafted this little play up, hope you dig it.

More Flashing at the main page.

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Small-Town Con

Shep: …and I known Bobby all my life. He’s a good man and he’s a good dentist. Hell, he fixed up my root canal just right about two weeks ago. There wasn’t a bit of pain. But I’ve been mayor of this town for the past twenty years and we’ve been doing all right. Hell, we’ve been doing better and better every year. If we were in a hole, I’d vote for Bobby. But we ain’t, we’re all doing good, and if it ain’t broke, why bother trying to fix it?

Phil: Thanks, Shep. Bobby – your opening remarks.

Bobby: Thanks. I…I find it funny that my opponent is standing in front of you all and saying “nothing’s broken.” Think about that. Nothing. Is. Broken. I can think of a couple of things that are broken, Shep. How’s about…oh…I don’t know…the Twin Towers. They seem pretty broken to me. And how about the Pentagon, Shep? Is the Pentagon “not broken?” How about Iraq? And Iran? And North Korea and Syria and Afghanistan? Are they “not broken” as well, Shep?

Shep: Uh…Bobby…we usually don’t…

Bobby: I know what you usually do and don’t do, Shep. What you usually do is ignore the threats all around us. The people who are trying to murder our children and rape our wives and convert us to Muslim and take away our freedoms.

Shep: It’s Islam, Bobby.

Bobby: What is?

Shep: Islam – “convert us to Islam” – you can’t convert someone to Muslim.

Bobby: And how would you know that, Shep?

Phil: Bobby! You are out off line. This is a small town election here and there’s nothing…

Bobby: Small towns. The backbone of America. The people who bleed red. And white. And blue. The people who Al Qaeda would simply love to cripple and maim and convert to Muslim. You don’t think they’re planning it? You don’t think some Mohammed is loading up trucks with ANFO and C4, planning to drive them right into churches on Christmas Eve all across the American heartland? Think again, my friends. He is our enemy, and he wants every single one of us dead.

Shep: Phil?

Phil: I think this debate’s a bit out of order…

Bobby: The world is out of order and Shep would rather put his head in the sand than deal with it.

Audience Member #1: Bobby – I don’t think you’re making much sense. I mean, my neighbor Jimmy is a Muslim and I don’t think…

Bobby: Ah, yes. And where is Jimmy tonight? Why wouldn’t Jimmy want to take part in this debate – this staple of American Democracy. Is it because Jimmy hates democracy?

Shep: Now, Bobby, if you’re suggesting…

Bobby: I’m not suggesting anything. I’m just presenting the facts. Fact number 1: Jimmy is not taking part in this sacred right of democracy. Fact number 2: Terrorists hate democracy. Fact number 3: People who hate democracy want to kill Americans. Fact number 4: Al Qaeda wants to kill Americans. Fact number 5: Muslims are in Al Qaeda. Fact number 6: Jimmy is a Muslim. Those are the facts.

Shep: And what about fact number 7: Jimmy has been our friend and neighbor for the past forty years?

Bobby: Every heard of sleeper agents, Shep? Guess not – you just care about pig races and keeping bugs off the crops. You’re living in September 10th, Shep – that must be a wonderful place.

Shep: Now hold on a minute, I fought in Vietnam for Christ’s sake, Bobby, and you can’t tell me nothing about fighting or war or…

Audience Member #2: Weren’t you a cook, Shep?

Audience Member #3: Yeah, I don’t know what a cook would know about fighting terrorists.

Shep: Need I remind you that Bobby is a dentist.

Bobby: And you’re saying being a mayor is better than being a dentist? That’s a pretty New York-elitist statement.

Audience Member #4: Yeah! Do you think you’re better than me because I’m a farmer?

Audience Member #5: Hell, I’m on disability – I must be real trash to you, Shep.

Shep: What? I don’t know…

Audience Member #6: How’re you gonna keep us safe from Muslims, Bobby?

Phil: I’d like to hear that one, myself.

Shep: Me too.

Bobby: Answer to that one’s pretty easy, folks: by supporting our troops and supporting our president.

Shep: That’s ridiculous!

Bobby: Supporting our troops is ridiculous, Shep?

Shep: What? No, that’s not what I meant and you…

Bobby: Hmph. Looks like we got a traitor amongst our own government. You’re probably Muslim yourself, ain’t ya?

Shep: I don’t know what…

Phil: Come to think of it, Shep, you weren’t at Church this week.

Shep: I had a stomach virus!

Bobby: Or you were activated.

Audience Member #7: I saw him talking to Jimmy yesterday!

Bobby: Well, well – talking to the only Muslim in town. On the week you missed church. Ain’t that suspicious?

Shep: Jimmy was fixing my boiler!

Bobby: Uh huh.

Shep: This is ridiculous! Are you people crazy? How could you actually be buying into this?

Phil: Shep, in all due respect, I think we need to call an end to this debate and open up an investigation. I think I speak for the town when I say some of your acquaintances and some of the things you said here today have been mighty suspect.

Audience Member #8: Hey! I heard on the news that Bin Laden might be hiding in some small American town!

Bobby: Hmph. Don’t say?

Shep: Are you honestly…

Phil: This meeting is adjourned! Sheriff – will you please arrest Shep until we get some more information about what he may or may not know involving the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Shep: Phil, come on now…

Audience Member #8: And don’t forget Jimmy!

Phil: That’s right…sheriff, when you’re done with Shep can you please go find Jimmy and bring him in for questioning.

Sheriff: No problem, Phil. I can’t wait to get my hands on that scumbag to be honest with you.

Phil: I understand your anger, sheriff. You think you know a guy…

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Flashing #52: GLBT Sci-Fi

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wikipedia says it's a genre and that's good enough for me. I came up with this idea a couple of weeks ago - I wondered where bigotry would go next if science kept providing evidence against their claims. The idea that a person has no choice as to how they're born but a choice as to whether or not they can change it intrigued me, and I tried to move that concept into a "fated lovers" type of storyline. I like the result, even if it's a bit heavy-handed at times. What do you expect when you write one of these day? Sheesh!

More Flashing at the main page.

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“I’ll take a glass of the Sant’Orsola.”

“Oh…I love Sant’Orsola. Didn’t know they had it here.”

“Better make it a bottle, then.”

The waiter clicks his heals and shuffles towards the crowded bar. McCovey’s is as busy as it always is on a Friday night, and the couple sitting at the tiny table by the kitchen appreciates the boisterous laughs and drunken proclamations – it makes their awkward silences less awkward.

“So…you work in real estate?”

Henry sits up straight and reminds himself that first dates aren’t fond of long dissertations on how atmospheric pods are greatly depreciating the value of the classic “land-based” homes or how Implanters are destroying the East Side market by virtue of simply existing. He keeps his answer short and to the point. “Yes. Antique houses, to be exact. I’m an appraiser for Sotheby.”

“I’ve always been a fan of four walls and a fireplace.”

“Yeah. It’s too bad they’re being torn down at an alarming rate. You practically need a court injunction these days to stop some upstart developer from raising the land and using the scraps to build some atmospheric pod settlement. Those things are ready in days and sell in…”

Henry closes his eyes and bites his lips. The color comes. A wave of nostalgia and nausea and regret washes over him, ending in a noticeable erection in his suddenly too-tight jeans.

“I’m sorry. I…”

“You were corrected, weren’t you?”

Henry pulls his napkin from his lap, wipes his mouth, and stands to leave. Jordan touches his hand and gives him a reassuring nod. “It’s ok. The twitches go away, eventually.”

Henry looks down at Jordan for a moment and tries to convince himself that he owes his date nothing. He would never have to see this person again if he chooses not to. He takes a look towards the door and then sits back down in his seat. The waiter comes out with the bottle of Sant’Orsola at the most awkward time imaginable, pops the cork, and pours two glasses after Henry waves off the taste. The whole process takes entirely too long.

After the waiter walks away Henry turns to Jordan and whispers, “You were corrected too?”

“In a way, I guess. But I also know people who underwent the procedure.”

“Yeah, well, it’s a good call.”

“And what’s it like?”

“Don’t know, they put me under.”

“Not the procedure itself…everything else. Everything that comes later. What happens when you twitch.”

Henry polishes off his asti and pours another glass. He takes a deep breath, looks down at the table, and tries to paint a picture he’s only seen in bits and pieces. “Hard to say. It’s all flashes, really. Little bits here and there. There’s always a guy, of course – I don’t think that should be a surprise. He’s…frail, I guess. I don’t know, sublime. Sublime sounds better. I get charged up with…feelings…they make me sick, honestly. I begin to feel bad that I’ve even had the feelings.”

“And then?”

“Honestly? I open my eyes, see you sitting across the table, and have an uncontrollable urge to fuck you stupid.”

The couple at the table next to Henry and Jordan give a gasp of surprise before pretending to get back to their halibut. Henry doesn’t even notice the ease droppers. “Don’t be offended by that, though. The correction makes me want to fuck any woman within eyesight. That’s just how it works.”

Jordan doesn’t even seem slightly offended by Henry’s choice of words. “Why’d you get it?”

“The correction?”

“Yeah. Why’d you get it?”

“So I can live a normal life.”

“But your not…normal.”

“I was born not normal. Now I’m normal.”

“That just doesn’t make any fucking sense.”

This time the audience listening in on the discussion has obviously grown. The restaurant is a lot quieter than it should be and every time conversation halts between Henry and Jordan everyone around them awkwardly tries to pretend they were being silent on purpose. Eating their food or reading a menu or doing something else that doesn’t require routine conversation.

Henry collects his thoughts and continues on. “Look, we don’t have a choice of who we are when we’re born. So, in that way, sure – it’s normal to be born…you know. But when you get older you have the choice to live a normal life or live like an outcast. I’ll never understand why some people would want to live without rights or respect or freedom. Especially when they have the power to change it.”

Jordan is shaken up – the conversation is taking a lot of energy and giving back a fair amount of heartache. “That man – the sublime one – the one you see when you twitch. Do you love him?”

“What? No! That’s ridiculous.”

“Did you ever love him?”

“I probably thought I did.”

“You did.”

No-one in the restaurant is saying a word. No-one is moving. No-one is even pretending like they’re not listening. Henry is flustered. He stutters through his words. “I don’t even know how you’d possibly…”

Jordan stands up and looks down at Henry for a spark. “I corrected myself, too. Not to be what these fucking people wanted me to be, but to be what you wanted me to be. Because love – LOVE – is fucking normal.”

Henry shakes his head, confused. Jordan turns to walk out the restaurant and gets halfway towards the door before hearing Henry shout, “Oh my God…Jordan. Jordan. I didn’t…you did this for me?”

Jordan stares at Henry, crying, utterly embarrassed. “Did what?”

“Changed? For me?”

Jordan gives Henry one last look and turns away in disgust. “You’re the one who changed, Henry.”

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Flashing #51: Tragedy (Scratch that - Romance Comic)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Note: I pulled the original story because, in retrospect, it is a bit depressing. I'm usually not depressing and, on top of that, this is a happy time. I wrote it, I know I wrote it, good enough for me. If anyone wants to see it I can email it to them. But I do have something new and unseen up - a romance comic. Much more fitting. Illustrated by Noel Tuazon.

I have some fun stuff set up for the next couple of weeks, though. Rom Com, GLBT Sci-Fi, pirate story, swashbuckling, jungle girl - all of it will be infinitely more fun than today's story but equally dope.

More Flashing at the main page.

___________________________


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Flashing #50 - Urban Legend

Friday, June 05, 2009

Quick intro – have a rehearsal dinner to prep for:

1) Yes, the grammar and spelling is purposely horrible, this is supposed to be an email-style “ZOMG BARACK OBAMA IS A MUSLIN” urban legend.

2) It’s inspired by the original memoir.

3) There likely won’t be any new stories next week. I’m going on a cruise for my honeymoon and I don’t have enough in the bank to autopost. I’ll try to rectify that on Sunday but it seems unlikely.

4) I’m getting married tomorrow – dope!

More Flashing at the main page!

PS - This is #50 - how cool is that?
__________________

Ok, this might sound unbelievanle but I promise you this is 100% true.I have a friend that works at the department of justice. He told me that theres this guy that works there thats kind-of there cover up guy, you know? Hes the guy that you go to when you have a legal problem that cant really get out into the papers. He finds ways to fuck with the legal process and make it so certain little bits of info never get out. You know what I mean, right?

So this guy misses work for a full week, right? And thats kind of strange because this guy never misses work – hes a fucking boy scout. Hes the kind of guy that got the schools perfect attendance award every year. So its weird that this guy would miss a single day, let alone an entire week.

So my friend did some snooping. Turns out the guy was working some case, the details where kind of sketchy, something about some kid in Germany – dissident or expat or something – that was making a bit of trouble somehow. I honestly dont know what was said or what happened or who the kid was but, to say the least, DOJ and the administration didnt really want this guy to go to jail at all. I mean, they were fucking ADAMENT ABOUT IT.

tHE doj GUY, HE DIDNT SEE ANY ANGEL ON THIS KID AT ALL. i MEAN, THE KID ROYALLY FUCKED UP ON SEVERAL LEVELS, HIS ACTIONS WERE VERY PUBLIC (i THINK HE EVEN BLOGGED ABOUT IT), AND PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENT AND HUMILIATION WERE EMINENT. sO THE doj GUY DID THE ONLY THING HE FELT LIKE HE COULD DO ON SUCH SHORT NOTICE. hE TOOK THE FUCKING FALL FOR WHATEVER THIS GUY DID.

nO SHIT, THIS GUY WAS SO DEDICATED TO HIS JOB THAT HE ASSUMED ALL OF THE CRIMES BEING ATTRIBUTED TO THIS CONNECTED FUCK IN gERMANY. sO NOW THE doj GUY IS IN prison FOR A GUY HE NEVER MET, DOESNT EVEN GIVE SHIT ABOUT, AND ALL BECAUSE OF SOME SPOILED BRAT WITH FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES WHO DIDNT WANT TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHATEVER IT WAS THAT HE DID.

iSNT THAT CRAZY? i DONT EVEN WANT TO STAY LATE AT MY JOB AND THIS GUYS GOING TO PRISON FOR HIS. LOL!!!

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Flashing #49: Haiku

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A haiku inspired by the original memoir. This week is going so fast and Saturday's wedding seems to be barreling down and taking more and more of my time. The remainder of my wedding party gets into town today, I need to pick up my tux, and I have to help prepare for tomorrow's the rehearsal dinner. It's going to be a great time, getting there is proving to be a touch stressful.

But that's my life, and this is Flashing, and, as always, there's more at the main page.

_______________________

Night comes to Munich
I abandon bad ideas
And call your number

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Flashing #48: Conspiracy Fiction

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Just a heads up – I’m not far enough ahead with next weeks stories to set them to autopost. I’m going to try, but getting married three days from now and taking a cruise next week makes that task a bit difficult. So next week might be another break. But there’re good stories this week so, you know, deal with it.

I once again didn't get to do any detailed editing with this one. Sorry. Off to see a harpist now, apparently. 

And, of course, there’re more stories at the main page.

_______________________

“I need to see it.”

Jeremiah stands on the pier, hands filled with stacks of papers fully documenting the psychological profiles of hundreds of missing kids and the families they left behind. The kids all seem to have psychological defects ranging from extreme temper tantrums to outright autism. The parents tend to be young and lazy and Catholic, the types of people who would subconsciously see their missing child as a blessing from God, a reprieve from their suffering, forgiveness for the sins that landed them with a 24-7 type of child. And all of these files were found at the Department of Health and Human Services. And some of the newer files are for children that have not gone missing. Yet.


“See what?”

Hedge Brown seems particularly antsy today. His collar is pulled up higher than normal, his hat lower, and his eyes can’t seem to rest upon any one thing in particular. He shifts from foot to foot as if avoiding a sniper and his voice has an edge to it often reserved for junkies and snitches.

“The pens – I need to see the pens. I have nothing unless I see the pens.”

“Just take what you have and go public with it. You go to see the pens and this whole thing falls apart. You won’t come back.”

Jeremiah tries to argue his case but Hedge Brown swiftly turns around and walks towards the shadows. “Just give me an address!”

Hedge Brown pauses and looks down at the ground. “136 Raleigh St. Southeast. Get in, take your picture, get out. I risked too much for this.” Hedge Brown continues on, leaving Jeremiah alone on the pier holding 95% of his Pulitzer Prize.

____________________________

136 Raleigh Street is in the perfect neighborhood for a secret of this magnitude. It’s across 295 from Bolling AFB, for starters, and it’s in a neighborhood populated with people who don’t ask too many questions and who’s mere presence tends to scare away people who would ask the right questions. The house itself is unassuming – no cars parked out front, no light on, and way too small to house any sort of secret lab or pens. Jeremiah assumes Hedge Brown’s information wasn’t entirely reliable but he decides to check out the house anyway.

He walks up to the front door and notices the types of lock you’d never see in a neighborhood like this. Computerized, with a thumbprint scanner. The door itself seems to be reinforced and the windows, he notices, are actually made of glass so thick it’s practically impossible to see through it.

This is certainly the house, and there is no way he’s getting inside.

As he begins to walk back towards his car he notices that there’s some steel bulkhead entry doors that undoubtedly lead towards the basement and that they’re marked with a yellow piece of tape – Hedge Brown’s signal. Jeremiah goes over to the doors and gives them a tug. The doors swing open and the lights go on downstairs. Jeremiah hears a rustle of hooves, the whining of children, and a hellish shriek that begins as a murmur but slowly builds to a crescendo of ear-splitting wails. Jeremiah enters the basement and quickly closes the doors to keep the sound inside as best as possible.

And there they stand. Despite all of the evidence he’s seen, he can’t even bring himself to believe it. Unicorns, their fur radiating light, their horns humming with life, their jowls coated with blood and flesh, their eyes burning with the hatred of every hell, their mouths letting forth the cacophonous symphony of heartache and misery, their spiked hooves stacked with the dismembered bodies of long-lost children and assumed run aways, looking like the worst shish kabobs ever conceived.

Jeremiah is captivated and frightened as the unicorns slowly move towards him. He notices the device he’s only heard about – the crux of his story – the final piece to a puzzle that includes several government agencies, hundreds of conspirators, and millions of deaths. The AIDS generation machine, powered by Unicorn tears altered by the flesh of children, pumping out vials of AIDS and packaging them into boxes destined for American ghettoes and third-world countries.

Everything makes sense now. But before he can reach for his camera, before he can snap off a picture of the Unicorn/AIDS farm, the bloodthirsty creatures are upon his, impaling him and carving him up – sharing him amongst themselves. The thrill of the kill and the howl that comes with it can be heard for miles. Hedge Brown hears it from his home in Old Town, and he knows that yet another reporter has failed to uncover this conspiracy.

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Flashing #47: Space Western

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Posting this one on a MegaBus to Boston. Getting a touch carsick so editing is light. I may touch it up later, but I think it's pretty cool as is. Getting married in four days, by the way, and I'm very excited.

More Flashing at the main page.

__________________

The Sad Hill Ship Graveyard is lifeless and quiet, even by space standards, despite the three active cruisers hovering within several clicks from each other. The Cattivo’s pilot, Tuco, nervously eyes his two viewport monitors, waiting for the slightest movement from either Blondie or Angel Eyes. His instruments warn him that the two ships have full shields and their cannons are charged and ready to fire but Blondie’s a faster shot than the three men and Angel Eyes is more ruthless – better to let them make a move first.

Blondie makes the first move, quickly pivoting the Buono towards the Brutto and firing three canon shots at the ship’s main exhaust port. The first two shots weaken the shields and the third shot causes the ship to explode from the inside out. Tuco tries to capitalize on the Buono’s compromised position by hitting the trigger as fast as he can. All he hears is the clicking sound, the Cattivo’s cannons acting as if they’re not even aware of the firefight going on around them. Blondie’s slow whisper comes over his com, “I took care of those last night.”

Tuco closes his eyes and waits for the eminent barrage of cannon fire. He’d meditate on the emptiness that comes with greed and revenge, on the loneliness of space, and the convenience of dying in a graveyard if it weren’t for the fact that he was pissing in his pants and praying to a God that’s long been disproven. Minutes pass without a shot being fired and Tuco opens his eyes. The Brutto is nothing but debris, it fits perfectly with its surroundings, and the Buono is darting between ships, pausing at each one’s identifier before carrying on to the next one.

Blondie once again activates his com, “I can use some help here, Tuco.”

Tuco cautiously moves the Cattivo towards the Buono. “What are we looking for?”

“Ship’s called the Arch of Stanton. Money’s in an unmarked ship right next to it.”

The two ships dance around long-forgotten cruisers and interceptors and birds-of-prey. They read the names on the ships. Horatio, Yamaguchi, Mekong, Dauntless, Fleming, Yellowstone…there are tens of thousands of broken down and blasted ships in this graveyard and only one worth finding.

“I found it!” Tuco exclaims, prompting the Buono to speeds towards him. The Arch of Stanton is an old Korolev-class starship. The whole aft is ripped off, no burn marks in sight; it was likely involved in a nasty collision. The unmarked ship next to it is pristine and of a class that neither Blondie nor Tuco have ever seen before. A prototype, no doubt, likely of Breen design, possibly built towards the latter days of the Dominion War.

“Dock it, Tuco. You’re gonna have to walk it in, that ships dead as dead. Throw my half out through whatever access port you can find, keep your half on board. Don’t come out from that ship until I’m well and gone.”

Tuco doesn’t like his options because, as he sees it, he doesn’t have any. He lowers his talons and anchors onto the unmarked ship. Suits up and turns on his air. He hits his boosters and thrusts out the back port of the Cattivo, switches on his mags and attaches himself to the dead ship’s hull. He walks towards an access port and puts his sonic separator to cold, hard metal. Within minutes he carved out a tiny hole in the massive ship and makes his way inside.

The ship’s devoid of decoration and frills. Smooth steel and unlabeled buttons and monitors and switches make up the entirety of the interior, as if the ship was designed for getting somewhere, killing, and doing little else. Tuco walks the long hallway, unsure of what he’s looking for or where it’ll be, his footsteps only adding to the deadening silence.

He enters a large hanger bay. It’s massive and obviously designed to drop something out of it instead of letting something inside. It’s empty now, however, with the exception of four large bags in the center. Tuco opens one of the bags, a soft glow spills out, and he closes it up, grabs two of the bags, and heads back towards the exit. He peeks his head out of the hole and sees the Buono floating in front of him. He throws the two bags out, waves at Blondie, and makes his way back to his share.

When he gets back to the exit with his bounty he notices the Cattivo is gone. Blondie has towed it out to the perimeter of the graveyard where both ships now hover in silence, barely visible to Tuco, who waves his arms and curses in as many languages as he can think of. There’s no response over his com, no movement on the horizon, the Buono and the Cattivo just look like two more ships amongst a sea of junk. 

Blondie lets the backstabbing Tuco stew for a while. He lets him contemplate how much air he has in his pack and try to formulate whatever version of a plan his tiny brain is capable of contemplating. After several minutes Blondie turns the Buono around and rockets towards the horizon. He cuts the tow and the Cattivo continues to drift in the nothingness.

Tuco hits his boosters and plows towards the Cattivo. He fully understands what lesson he was supposed to learn but he plans his revenge anyway. 

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Flashing #46: Prehistoric Fantasy

Monday, June 01, 2009

And we’re back after a week vacation from the concept. Here’s the story, not much set-up, more Flashing at the main page. Enjoy!

________________________

The raptors charge the line, their feet pounding the ground, a sound like thunder filling the air. The riders clench the reigns with white-knuckled fists, guns and swords held at the ready in the event they’re needed. The enemy rides Iguanodons, have trained a few Nodosauruses, and despite the fact that they have superior weaponry their ammunition stockpiles have run low. The raptors should make quick work of the remaining German troops; this battle could be finished without a single bullet being wasted.

The Germans are anxious and they look back to their commander. Despite the fact that they don’t understand a word he says beyond “hold”, “charge”, and “retreat” his cold stare and calm posture relaxes them.

“Winds not right yet,” he tells his troops, “Hopefully the traps’ll slow ‘em down.”

As if it was rehearsed a handful of raptors fall into the spiked pits. The Germans hear the raptors’ cries and their spirits are lifted – it is possible to stop a raptor without heavy weaponry, after all. Some raptors are hoisted into the air; some are catapulted back to the Confederate fort, their riders screaming as they’re launched towards certain death. Underground bombs go off as some of the raptors get closer. The wall of fire resulting from the explosions causes the remaining raptors to pull back, despite their riders instructions to carry-on.

Esau watches the smoke that’s slowly creeping towards his line. He looks to his troops and says, “Winds still not right. Hold tight.”

Meanwhile the Indian line, the only soldiers in this fight with a legitimate hatred of the enemy, lobs flaming arrows at the Confederate soldiers and their raptors. A courier runs up to Esau and hands him a note. It’s a request from the Crusaders, they’d like to charge in and finish the battle. Esau tells the courier to hold tight, the raptors are incredibly dangerous right now and if the winds shift they can end this entire war right here and now without directly engaging the enemy. The courier runs back to the Crusaders with the news – several seconds later the winds make a noticeable break towards the mess of Confederate troops. Esau signals Jerry Moore and the doctor hits the chem valve as his assistants work the pump. The stuff that comes out is mainly liquid and mostly unpure, but enough of the sarin vaporizes and drifts downwind, towards the unsuspecting Confederate troops.

The first raptor drops within thirty seconds. Within a minute the remaining raptors and their riders are on the ground – convulsing and gasping for breath. Within five minutes the elite raptor riders are all dead, no back-ups in sight. The gates to the fort are wide open and the war is all but won. The Germans and the Indians and the crusaders mount their dinosaurs and make their way to the gate, eager to execute the few remaining Confederate troops.

Esau, on the only hand, only has one target in mind. His brother.

The Alliance soldiers enter the fort and put bullet, sword, or arrow to anyone they come across. The Confederates offer little resistance; they resign to their fate and die with dignity. They’re almost in an enviable position, leaving this world devoid of technology and comfort and women behind. As the Alliance makes quick and bloody work of the remaining combatants, Esau heads up to the South tower where he imagines Marcus and Jacob are hiding out. He kicks in the door, his six-shooter at his hip, and smiles at the site of his long-lost brother.

“I told, you, Marcus, there’s the easy way and the hard way and the hard way wasn’t gonna be pretty.”

Marcus has a shotgun on his lap but he doesn’t even attempt to use it. He hears the clamor and the screams coming from his fort and he slumps his shoulders and sighs. “I guess I didn’t realize how much of a crazy son-of-a-bitch you was.” Marcus points to Jacob, who stands in the corner, visibly shaking. “There’s your piece of shit brother. Not even worth protecting, if ya ask me.”

“I only got two bullets in this gun, Marcus, so if you don’t mind I’d appreciate it if you go on downstairs and let my boys kill you.” The suggestion makes perfect sense to Marcus so he stands up, dusts off his gray frock coat, and heads down the tower to be beheaded or scalped or shot or a combination of the three. “Well, Jacob, I guess this is it.”

Jacob begins to say something, explain himself or apologize or something, but before two words get out he has a bullet lodged squarely between his eyes. He’s on the floor in less than a second.

Esau kicks him over to make sure he’s dead. Sometimes you can’t tell – he’s seen guys shot in the head, heart, and lungs that all came back from it. Satisfied with his kill he turns his gun on himself. “I told you I’d get him, Margaret. I told you he couldn’t hide from me. I told you I’d follow him anywheres. And I told you I’d come and see you as soon as I was done.”

Esau pulls the trigger. The sound of the gunshot is buried amongst revenge and victory.

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Flashing: Taking a Week Off

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Has to be done - fell too far behind. Between work, a wedding in ten days, and some other writing projects I'm trying to get started something had to give and it's going to be the thing I'm not getting paid for. I have a story in the can and I'll just get a week's head start for next week, especially since it'll be incredibly difficult to write and publish during the Honeymoon.

I'll still post some stuff here this week - just not Flashing. If you want to use this time to catch up on past Flashing stories, head on over to the main page.

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Flashing #45: Cheerleading Cheers

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm hoping I can get back on a proper schedule with these starting tomorrow...we'll see. 

_________________________

Hey, Hey, Hey
Are you ready (clap, clap)
To fly (clap)
Across the sea (clap, clap)
The sea (clap)
We’re up in the sky
Get a beer, say bye bye
Go beer!

You checked out all the sites
You climbed to great heights
But you can’t stay up no more
You got to sleep you got to snore
You got to sleep
(Who me?)
You got to sleep
(Not me?)
You better get some sleep
Go lay down and count some sheep
Bah, bah, bah, bah, bah – Go Sleep!

Oh snap!
(What’s that?)
Snap attack!
(What what?)
The alarm didn’t wake me up
(You’re well rested so what’sup?)
I missed the whole night
(Well go out and make this right)
I don’t know where to go
(Follow that bus, it seems to know)
Techno bus
(Techno bus)
Go bus!

What a night
We’re number one
We drank our beer
We had some fun
We had some laughs
We fit right in
We charmed ‘em all
We got the win

Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh, uh, uh-oh
We went back out, to chill
But there wasn’t, no thrill
We saw our friends they were our foes
They turned on us we said, “Uh-oh”
Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh, uh, uh-oh

I called you up
(Hello)
To say what’s up.
(Don’t know)
You sounded good
(That’s true)
As you should
(My boo)
I said I loved you
You know it’s true
Let’s get married
And start a crew
Sounds good to me
Sound good to you?
(I think we’ll be
A happy two)

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Flasahing #44: Supernatural Romance (sort of)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hah - this is why you don't try to write romance when you're all depressed and pissed off - because it comes out really, really sleazy. Oh well.

I tried to catch a Time Traveler's Wife vibe but lay it down on some sappy super natrual romance story inspired by the original memoir (somehow) but the end result was kind of delightfully creepy. I honestly dig it and I hope you do to...

More Flashing at the main page. 

___________________________

May 22nd, 2008

The waiter reserved the usual table for us. I pocket my wedding band and take a seat facing the door, waiting for her to enter. I fumble with the sugar packets and drop a fork on the floor, these minutes are always the longest – they’re what cause my gray hairs, I imagine. The years go by so fast, life is stressful day-to-day, and it’s always these couple of minutes - it’s always waiting in this restaurant - that ages me.

But she enters and it’s worth the gray and the blood pressure. No-one notices her, not in the way I notice her at least. She floats to the table. She has bags under her eyes and her skin is paler than in previous years. She doesn’t say a word, she sits down at the table and opens her menu and pretends to decide between the fish and the chicken when we both know she’s going to get the chicken.

She’s as predictable as she was thirty years ago.

May 22nd, 1979

“I’ll have the chicken,” she says to the waiter “Oh wait – is it white meat?”

The waiter doesn’t speak a word of English and he just kind of nods and she smiles and he walks back to the kitchen to place our order. I’m almost positive the chicken will be dark meat but there’s really no point in bringing that up; there are more important things to do. “I have to go to the bathroom,” she says. Before I can answer she’s halfway across the room and I use this opportunity to take the ring box out of my pocket and place it near her table setting.

It takes her several minutes to notice the box – the entire time I’m thinking that I should have done this more traditionally. Got down on my knee, made a scene. My current plan is probably going to confuse her rather than help make lasting memories.

May 22nd, 2003

She looks down at the ring box and sighs. “I want you to let me go.”

May 22nd, 1981

She pauses as she reaches for the box. She looks around the restaurant and looks at me and says, “Woah. Déjà vu.”

May 22nd, 2005

She opens the ring box and tries to smile. “You know,” she says through gritted teeth, “I never really liked this ring.”

May 22nd, 1979

Yes.” He eyes well up with tears. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

May 22nd, 1988

“Yes?” She says. It’s not meant to be a question but she seems out of sorts on the whole. She can’t stop staring at me. When she first walked in, she said I looked old. I’ll have to be sure to dye my hair next year.

May 22nd, 2006

She nods a yes. She can’t even look into my eyes. We eat our food in silence.

After dinner we walk to a wine bar at the base of the bridge. In the past we had well over a bottle each and laughed and toasted and rested hands on breasts and backs and shoulders. This time we each order a glass, knowing full well that’s all we’ll drink. People sitting at the café give us disapproving looks. I can’t say that I blame them. I’m old enough to be her father, after all.

May 22nd, 1981

I lay my arm across her bare stomach and I can’t believe this is happening again. I kiss her neck and she says, “Not now – I need sleep – too much wine, wine wine…” her voice drifts off. I pull her body to mine and resolve to stay awake – I’m not going to let her leave me this time.

May 22nd, 1996

“Wait – what’s that?” I forgot my wedding band. It’s ok, she’ll forget about it next year. She forgets every year.

“Just go to sleep.”

“Why are you wearing a wedding band? What’s going on?” She’s been suspicious all night.

“We’ll talk about it tomorrow, just go to sleep.”

"Something’s not right.”

“Just go to sleep.”

May 22nd, 1984

I can’t stop looking at her. It’s been five years of this routine and I still can’t believe she’s with me right now.

May 22nd, 2009

Don’t come back next year. Please.”

All I have these days is this one moment when she walks into the restaurant. For that one moment it’s 1979 and she’s 27 again. But as soon as she sees me, sees how old I’ve become, the past thirty years come back to her in some way. She knows something’s wrong even though she doesn’t know the details. She knows I’m married to someone else. She knows she only exists on these evenings and she feels like I’m the one that’s stopping her from moving on. We go through our motions. We order our meals and I propose and we fake celebrate and we drink our wine and we make love and we go to sleep. And, at the end of the evening, she’s gone again.

And I go back to the states and kiss my wife and tell her the business trip was fine and take my kids to school and go to work and patiently wait for the next May 22nd.

“I won’t come back. I promise.”

It already seems like an impossible promise.

May 23rd, 1980

She’s gone. I had my arms around her and we fell asleep and she’s gone. It’s like she’s died all over again. I’ll be back next year to see if she comes back to me one more time.

May 23rd, 1979

At breakfast she turns to me and says, “We should do this every year.” I agree.

May 23rd, 2010

I return from my trip. My wife picks me up at the airport. She asks how it went and I say, “Same as every year.” I promise myself this will be the last time.

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Flashing #43: Limerick

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No into today - need sleep.

________________________

There was a young man who'd admit
That he might be too young to commit
      So he went overseas
      Where the locals all teased
That he was getting too old for this shit

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Flashing #41: Political Satire

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ok, so I’m a Democrat. No big surprise there. But I’m not one of these democrats who believe that Obama’s going to fix everything. Well, the inspiration behind this piece is: What if Obama does fix everything. And I’m talking about fucking everything. Everyone has job, all diseases are cured, there’re no more wars, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt are dead, cats can talk, women with unwanted pregnancies can have the fetus beamed into the womb of a woman who wants kids but can’t have them – everything is fixed for-fucking-ever. Case closed, problems solved, the Department of Homeland Security is replaced with the Department of House Parties. Secretary of the Interior is renamed Secretary of Hotpants. The world is fun and exciting and everyone on the PLANET is happy...

...but through this all there’d still have to be one last Republican. One man holding on to the principles of Reagan (Limbaugh). What would that man be like? I give you, The Last Republican.

For more Flashing head on over to the main page.
____________________

The Last Republican

“Exclusive! Nobama/Hillarious overheard talking about China.” John takes a moment to replay the MSNBC clip one last time, hoping to make out the details of what these two traitors are discussing. After watching the clip for the hundredth time, he’s convinced it has something to do with socialism. He attacks his keyboard, “Audio is spotty at best but if you look at Zero’s lips it looks like he may be saying something about socialism. Remember, China is a communist country, and Barry wants us to be communist, so if he’s talking about China with Billary than it must have something to do with toppling America, seizing more power, and plunging our economy into a new recession.”

He presses “post” and slinks back in his chair, victorious. He picks up his ham radio and blasts his message over the airwaves, “This is AA10X, the last bastion of sanity, letting you all know that a new report has been posted to the Going Galt blog. Please give it a read and comment.”

The basement door creeks as John’s mother tries to announce that dinner’s ready without intruding on John’s 1st amendment rights. “John! Are you having dinner with us tonight?”

“Goddamn it, mom! I was on the hammie! Do you know how embarrassing it would have been if you opened your big fat mouth while I was on the air?”

“Sorry, honey, I just wanted to know if you wanted to eat with us tonight.”

“What’re we having?”

“Meatloaf.”

“Is there any Mountain Dew left?”

“Yes dear.”

“I’ll be up in a minute.”

John refreshes his blog. No comments. He looks at his ham radio. No-one’s calling back.

“This is AA10X, the last bastion of sanity, is AA4QQ out there?”

Radio silence.

“AA4QQ?”

“This is AA4QQ, what’s going on AA10X?”

“Did you see my newest article on Mr. Affirmative Action and Pants Suit? Fucking commies, right?”

“I didn’t get to read it, AA10X. Sorry.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know…I got a job, I’m busy.”

John fumbles with his radio as he tries to make sense of this news. “You got a job? How’d you get a job?”

“I applied for one.”

“You APPLIED for one?”

“Yeah, man – there’re plenty of jobs out there. I think you’re the only unemployed person left.”

“AA10X is a commie! AA4QQ out!”

John refreshes his blog again. Still no comments. He checks his stats. One visitor and two refreshes. He turns on Fox News.

“…latest Gallup Poll has 0% of the population identifying themselves as Republican with a margin of error of zero…”

John turns off the television and kicks his futon. “What about me? WHAT ABOUT ME? Why’s no-one polling ME? These damn polls never represent the truth!” He stammers upstairs and takes his seat at the dinner table.

John’s father plops a healthy dollop of mashed potatoes onto his plate. He doesn’t even look at his son as he says, “You’ve been in that goddamn basement all day. Sun’s shining, birds are chirping, and there’s money to burn…why don’t you get OUT for a bit?”

John picks up a pile of meatloaf with is bare hands, dips it in the crazy, and shoves it into his face hole. His words are barely audible and are punctuated with flying gobs of partially chewed food. “Why would I want to get out there with all of those brain dead morons? I can’t stand to see people who don’t understand how this country is heading into a nose dive.”

John’s father ignores his son and turns to his paper with a sigh. John’s mother shifts uncomfortably in her chair. John downs his Mountain Dew, shrugs, and heads back to his basement, the last bastion of sanity.

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Flashing #40: James Bond Reboot

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friday's story on Sunday! It's been a miserable week and a miserable weekend and I was ready to give up on this whole thing but then inspiration struck me at our monthly DC Conspiracy meeting. My friend Evan Keeling was talking about the incredible racism in Ian Flemming's Goldfinger and it got us talking about making a racist James Bond story. I love the idea of a James Bond who's only method of getting leads is to pull over young black men on the 405 and I put this little story together.

What does this have to do with previous Flashing stories? NOTHING. I just needed to write something and, well, here it goes.

More Flashing at the main page.

________________

The sky should be black but the combination of haze, street light, and bar sign light up the heavens like the rapture. Everything that is LA swims in unnatural glow, top-40 hip-hop, and twenty-something partiers hopped up on ecstasy and coke. Assistants of assistants of the next big movie star sucking on pacifiers and crashing their Volvos as they pay no mind to the darkness above the man-made sheen. The darkness is where Shiva currently roams, its city-destroying laser pointed towards America’s brightest shithole, ready to end its miserable existence as soon as the order comes through.

Mr. Bond has another hour to dismantle Shiva or else LA will be obliterated. His leads have dried up. His woman du jour has been flayed right before his eyes; her blood still stains his hands. His signature Aston Martin has been totaled, his replacement Volkswagen Rabbit is getting good mileage at a slow speed down the 405. Despite the circumstances, Mr. Bond is not even breaking a sweat. It’s all in a days work.

He sees his next lead in the form of a BMW with tinted windows and driven by four black youths barreling down the interstate. Mr. Bond knows suspicious behavior when he sees it, and he hits the accelerator, taps the right rear bumper of the BMW, and runs the car into the railing. The sound of metal on concrete is masked by the horrible screams coming from the passengers inside. Glass shatters and limbs break as the car rolls four times along the shoulder, the persons of interest inside piling up lacerations and torn pieces of flesh.

Mr. Bond wastes no time and runs right to the driver’s side of the car and rips the bloodied occupant from his seat. The driver’s hair is thick with blood, his knee was crushed by the steering column, and his right eye burst after being punctured by a piece of rusted metal. He’s right were Mr. Bond wants him.

“What are you guys doing out at this hour?” Mr. Bond asks the nearly unconscious suspect.

The driver’s lips shiver. He pisses his pants. “We’re just coming back from a club I swear I wasn’t even drinking and we wasn’t getting’ into any trouble we was just gettin’ home I swear I swear I swear…”

“If you’re so innocent, why are you acting so nervous?”

“Please don’t hurt me please don’t hurt me please don’t hurt me…”

Mr. Bond throws the man to the floor and kicks his remaining teeth out. “Henricks laser. I want to know where the controls are and I want to know NOW.”

“I don’t know a Henrick I swear to god I have no idea what you’re talking about please just call me an ambulance please please please please…”

Mr. Bond goes to get the pliers from his trunk. He does the math on the way and realizes he has ten minutes to get this guy to talk. He grabs the hacksaw instead.

________________________

Two minutes and five appendages later Mr. Bond is convinced that the young black man knows nothing about Henrick’s laser. As he packs up his trunk, starting to feel nervous for the first time in his long and celebrated career, he noticed another lead and begins to calm down once again. Behind the unmarked white van, occupied by several large Eastern European men, is a black Mercedes with tinted windows and spinners occupied by a young black man and his black female assistant, no doubt a trained assassin. Mr. Bond gets back into the Rabbit and heads after the suspects.

________________________

LA is still hazy, although the primary source of light comes from the burning buildings and charred carcasses. Henrick’s laser went off at precisely 2AM, as promised, and left nothing behind. LA went up in a blast of fire and cocaine and Priuses and crocs. Mr. Bond snapped after the attack and went rogue. He is now chasing down leads north of 125th street in Manhatten, convinced someone will direct him to Henrick so that Mr. Bond can put an end to the madman’s attacks against right-minded citizens.

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Flashing #39: Postcard

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's been a miserably depressing week so far so the writing has been labored. Trying, though. Here's a postcard version of the original memoir. Hopefully next week I'll be in better form.

More Flashing, as always, at the main page.

______________


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Flashing #38: Source Code

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm on the late shift this week, it seems. Always one day behind. Well, at any rate, here's today's story. It's the original memoir as a C-function. Yay nerd!

More Flashing at the main page, I'm going to bed.

________________

int realizeYouHaveAGoodLife()
{
int time = 8;
int numDrinks = 3;

bool Sleep = determineIfJasonSleeps(numDrinks);

bool Rested = FALSE;
if(!Sleep)
{
tourAround();
time+=8;
}
else
{
time+=sleep(3*60*60);
Rested = TRUE;
}

  if(!Rested)
time+=sleep(8*60*60);
else
{
tourAround();
time+=8;
}

if(time <= 20)
getNiceRelaxingDinner();
else
panic();

int lessonLearned=FALSE;
int night=1;
while(!lessonLearned)
{
bool karaokeNight = isItKaraokeNight(night);

if(!karaokeNight)
haveFunWithLocalsInLocalBar();
else
proveToBeStupidAmerican();

night++;
}

bool content = callRobin();

if(!content)
return FALSE;
else
return TRUE;
}




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Flashing #37: American Idol Critique

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quick and cheesy gimmick, didn't even bother reading it over. Been a crazy day on top of a crazy week following a crazy weekend that capped off another crazy week. So, you know, this is how it's happening. It's an American Idol Critique...or a play-by-play, really, of the original memoir.

If you want more Flashing stories, check the main page.

_______________

Randy: You know what I like about you, dog? You had this perfect set-up and you just wanted more. And you went for it. I don’t know if it necessarily worked for you, but you’re in it to win it. I liked it, man – you worked it out.

Kara: You were so on tonight. You know, this life, it isn’t yours. But you really went out there and gave it your best and you made it your own. At first I thought it wasn’t going to work out all that well, you were a little shaky up front, but then you brought your own artistry to the evening. I just have four words for you: “You are living the dream!”

Paula: It’s…it’s…you came out here…and you wanted to…you wanted to do your own spin on a…on a classic…and it’s not…it’s not that you necessarily did a bad job with it but…it’s James Brown…it’s James Brown and…

Simon: Get on with it.

Paula: Let me talk, ok? Look…it’s not that you didn’t…you’re a beautiful person and your voice it…it sounds like…a chorus of…love…and angels…and…but…it just wasn’t…you. It just wasn’t you. Sorry. But I love your outfit!

Simon: Ok, Jason, here’s the thing. This was kind of like being at an opera and getting a hot dog. You know you’re not supposed to do it, but you do it anyway.

Audience: BOOOOOOO!!!!

Simon: Let. Me. Finish. Let me finish. I mean, sure, the hot dog tastes good and all but, really, it’s an opera you’re at and you should be eating caviar and drinking champagne. Instead you’re eating corn dogs and beer.

Audience: BOOOOOOO!!!!

Simon: I’m just saying…I’M JUST SAYING…it was by far your worst performance and if I had to guess I’d say you’re in a lot of trouble of going home tonight.

Ryan: So let me ask you, Jason, do you feel like your performance was…what was that, Simon? Eating a corndog at an opera? Did you feel like your performance was like eating a corndog at an opera?

Jason: I really don’t know – look, I came out here to do what I love to do and I did it and maybe it didn’t work out. If I have to go home tonight than that’s what I’ll do, I’m excited to be with my girl again away, but, ultimately, that’s for America to decide.

Simon: Well I think…

Ryan: What’s that, Simon?

Simon: Well I think America will, ultimately, decide against him.

Audience: BOOOOOO!!!!

Ryan: Ok, well, what will you decide, America? If you want to vote for Jason his number is 866-436-5706. That number is again is 866-436-5706. And we’ll see you after the break.

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Flashing #36: Fable

Monday, May 11, 2009

In before mindnight! The bachelor party took up my entire weekend and I didn't get to sit down and write until a little bit ago. And now I have to do tomorrow's story...

I tried to reshape the original memoir into an Aesop-style fable. Hope you dig it. More Flashing at the main page.

_______________

The Rat and the Cat

A rat was making his way towards the garbage can that he feasts at everyday. The garbage can is behind a cheese shop, and there is always a selection of soon-to-be moldy brie and epoisses and stilton. As the rat approaches the garbage can he hears a cat from the rooftops and he begins to scurry back to the safety of his nest.

“Don’t run away,” said the cat, “I just wanted to tell you about a better feasting spot. One with cheese and bread and wines and fish eggs that are sweeter and fresher than the trash you now eat. Follow me, and I’ll show you a feast that will make your tongue happy and your coat nice and oily.”

The rat has always dreamt of eating food from a table or right in the kitchen and decides to follow the cat. Once the rat is far enough from his nest, however, the cat pounces on him, and gobbles him right up. It is the freshest meal the cat has had in weeks.

If your life is already perfect, there is no way you can make it better.

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Flashing #35: Horoscope

Friday, May 08, 2009

It’s a quick one today. I spent most of the evening getting ready for the bachelor party weekend so I had to go to one off of the quick list. It’s a horoscope version of the original memoir.

Since I took the easy way out today, I’ll give you something to ogle over. Page two of the Shaolin political thriller/sci-fi book I’m doing with Marco Magallanes. Love it!



Next week I think I’ll get busy with Photoshop again and do some more form-oriented pieces. Until then, feel free to check out more Flashing pieces on the main page.

_____________________

Your Horoscope for April 16th, 2008

Don’t let people’s persistent misconceptions get you down, have as much fun as you can and brush off the bad times. Sometimes being the odd man out makes you appreciate the people you’d usually take for granted. Love is in the air today, even if it’s a phone call away.

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Flashing #34: Monolgue

Thursday, May 07, 2009

First of all, I have an article up on the Flash Fiction Chronichles. Please go check it out. Comment, link it, etc.

Ok, so, today's piece is pretty self-explanatory. A monologue version of the original memoir. Nothing more to say, if you want some more Flashing check out the main page.

_______________

I hate starting this whole thing with a cliché so let me just qualify this – this isn’t me talking. I mean…it’s me…talking…but it’s me just repeating what other people always say. It’s important that you realize this, because it’ll be impossible to hold your attention for the next five minutes if you think I’m some generic, cliché-dependent, middle-management type. I don’t normally use clichés. I don’t say things like “no good deed goes unpunished” or “monkey see, money do” or “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” But just because I don’t use clichés doesn’t mean other people don’t use clichés… 

Anyway… 

People say that the grass is always greener on the other side. I guess what they mean by that is that no-matter how good your life is, someone else’s life will always looks better. I’m not going to lie to you; I bought into this particular cliché for quite some time. I guess I was one of those guys who always felt like there was something missing from my life. In the interest of full-disclosure, here’s a quick summary of my life up until April of last year… 

I was a good student and a good son. Never got into trouble, always got good grades. I had my fair share of alcohol and experimented with a couple of drugs in high school but this is Brooklyn we’re talking about – in Brooklyn I was still a fucking boy scout. I had sex with only one person before college and it wasn’t because I was a nerd. I was on the football team for fucks sake. 

College wasn’t much different, either. I had a steady girlfriend for the first two years and missed out on a lot of the supposed “freshman experience.” And even though I was single throughout Junior year I only hooked up with one person and it was…odd. Now I did hook up with the theater during my junior year. I started acting, writing, and directing and I was happy – I really was – but I wasn’t wild and, you know, the grass is always greener etc, etc, etc. 

And then I met Robin. And we dated and we fell in love and I moved to DC and she came with me and we’ve been together for ten years. We’re getting married next month, in fact. Robin had a different experience than me. She kind of veered towards that other side of the grass. The greener side. We’d talk about it from time to time and she’d assure me that my grass was much greener and this thing we have, it’s what she always wanted. I kind of “yeah yeahed” and tried to figure out some way to bring her into a hot threesome. Never worked. 

So that takes me to last April. My job was sending me on a trip to Munich and I decided to go up a couple of days early. If there was any part of the other people’s grass that always looked the greenest it was the European adventures. The back-packing and the train riding and the meeting of fellow travelers and the getting piss drunk and the making of mistakes. That was one lawn I’ve always regretted not walking on and there was a little voice in the back of my head that convinced me that this trip to Germany was my chance to at least get a taste of that lawn. 

I think you know how this story ends but let me spell it out for you anyway. 

I spend a day walking around Munich experiencing every friggin’ beer garden I come across. I sit at these massive tables by myself because every other table is stacked with groups of people who know each other or couples sharing a beer together. I was kind of bummed out; thinking the solo-traveler in Europe thing isn’t for a guy like me. 

But that first night…I partied. I stumbled into some local bar, started getting hammered by myself, and met up with some locals who wanted to practice their English. We talked all night and into the early morning – leaving the bar at around 6AM. I made up a whole new identity for myself, it evolved as the evening went on, and our little crew of people grew throughout the night. I was drinking and flirting and smoking and doing everything I shouldn’t be doing and it felt great. 

This grass, over here, it really was greener. 

And then there was day two. I met up with my new German friends and we went to a karaoke joint. The English was kept to a minimum; the people I was with spoke a lot of German amongst themselves. I sang some songs but no-one really seemed to care. I mean, seriously, I was up there signing and jiving some James Brown and got nothing. Not a clap. Some pail and frail guy does Phantom of the Opera, though, and the place goes nuts. As the night went on, the more detached I become from my group. 

And then it wall went to hell as I was leaving. Various people in the bar started shouting sarcastic chants of “USA” and “God bless Bush” as I exited the bar. I didn’t look back; I quickly made my way to the hotel and thought of Robin the entire time. This is what she said this grass was like. Fair-weather friends and disappointment, this grass has the potential to be shit. 

I had some great grass back home. I take good care of it. I keep the neighbor’s kids off of it; chase them with a baseball bat or something if I have to. I’ve been working on this grass for ten years, I’m happy with it everyday, and I don’t think there’s any other grass out there I’d rather be on. 

I called Robin when I got back to the hotel. We talked for an hour.

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Flashing #33: A Comedy of Manners

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don't plot, plan, and write your daily story after putting down a six-pack of strong beer. I don't know if this is good or not - it's certainly vulgar - and it's kind of fun to read...but good? We'll see. 

And it even ties to the original memoir! The perception of an empty life! Despite how much I drank I actually made an effort to stick to the rules, unlike yesterday's Sword and Planet story that I wrote completely sober and said, "Fuck the rules." 

Anyway, enjoy today's piece. Sheakspeare would be proud... 

More Flashing can be found on the main page.

____________________ 

Celeste: Darling, you simply have to tell me – what is Tyler like in the evenings, if you know what I mean? 

Luna: Tyler? Oh, dear, he’s like a pinch of cocaine. He gets me going in no time and leaves me wanting more after ten minutes. I’m tired of the old stud. He has one muscle worth mentioning and it doesn’t make for entirely impressive conversation after the deed. 

Celeste: Oh, darling, you are just so wrong. 

Luna: Is a girl wrong for wanting more than 15-minutes of thrusting? 

Celeste: Oh, darling, of course not! That’s why God invented fuck machines. 

(Luna and Celeste laugh uncontrollably) 

Luna: Celeste, dear, I was thinking. Why don’t we ever sleep together? 

Celeste: Because we don’t share the same man, darling! 

(Luna and Celeste laugh while stroking each other’s hair) 

Luna: Oh, Celeste, dear, you’re such a riot! Not sleep sleep – why don’t we ever, you know, dear, go downtown together? 

Celeste: Because, Luna, darling, tbecause your downtowndoesn't have great deals on shoes! 

Luna: Don’t kid now, dear. The shoes may not be the best but I can show you some great deals on snatch-el. 

(Celeste stares at Luna, confused) 

Celeste: I don’t get that one, darling. 

Luna: Oh, dear, you are such a lame dick. Just think of a satchel, like a purse. Except I said snatch-el, like my snatch. 

Celeste: Oh, Luna, darling, that is simply splendid. And incredibly convoluted! 

Luna: Oh, Celeste, dear, that observation was completely ham-fisted! 

Celeste: Speaking of fisting, dear, what say you get busy with this bottle of lube. Remember, start with one… 

Luna: …while licking the bum! 

Celeste: Move on to two… 

Luna: …who needs to screw? 

Celeste: Three is too much for some… 

Luna: …but it makes me cum! 

Celeste: But wait! Here’s four… 

Luna: We’re almost there, one more! 

Celeste: All five are in! 

Luna: And thank God for that gin! 

Celeste: And now we’re up to the wrist… 

Luna: …give it a good twist! 

Celeste: Hey! Where’d my elbow go? 

Luna: Deep inside this horny little ho! 

Celeste: I am a nasty little pit, ain't I?

Luna: Hah hah, darling – you gave me a good ribbing, there. 

Celeste: Speaking of, dear, pull your hand out a bit – I believe your wedding ring is scratching my ribs. 

Luna: Oh my! I didn’t even realize I went all the way to my shoulder! 

Celeste: Don't worry, darling - you look great with me on.

Luna: Oh, dear, we are so fashionable. 

Celeste: Indeed, you’re like an accessory. A sopping wet accessory that’s stuck on my arm. 

Luna: Like a wet muff! 

Celeste: In more ways than one, darling. 

(Luna and Celeste laugh so hard they start to vomit blood) 

Luna: Oh dear! I do believe I laughed so hard that I got my mouth period. 

Celeste: And we seem to be on the same cycle! 

(The two girls laugh again. More blood comes out) 

Luna: So tell me, Celeste, dear, did you like the way it felt when I had my fist so far up your twat that I was able to take the staples out of your stomach? 

Celeste: I’ll be honest with you, darling, even with an entire arm up my cunt I still felt empty. 

Luna: How’s that even possible, dear? 

Celeste: It’s hard to explain, darling. 

Luna: Is it because you were cheating on your husband? In theory, of course. 

Celeste: No, darling. I don’t think that’s it. 

Luna: Is it because you were cheating on your lover? 

Celeste: Julio? Oh, darling, I don’t even think of that brute unless he’s plowing my ass by the pool. 

Luna: Is it because you’re generally a vacuous human being? You may have grown up a humble little tart on the prairies of Kansas but when you were a teen your mother groomed you from early on to be an uptight socialite with no sense of self worth or purpose. You go through life with a vicodin-glaze in your eyes and your mouth emits a constant plume of martini-toxins. You married a man for money, you took a boyfriend for sex, and you created a cause for self-gratification. You never really cared about anyone, not even yourself, and no-one’s ever really cared about you, including me. None of this stuff bothers me, however, because I realize I’m the same exact way and if you realize your shortcomings it becomes so much easier to ignore them. However, every so often, you get a slight reminder of why you hate so deeply, and you find yourself swelled up with sadness and regret. Is that why you feel empty? 

Celeste: No, darling, I believe it’s because your other fist wasn’t in my ass! 

Luna: Of course, dear.

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Flashing #31: Sports Fiction

Monday, May 04, 2009

Quick announcement. This month's Northern Virginia Magazine features a two-page piece I wrote on independent bookstores in NoVa. Pick up a copy and give it a read. Ok, story time...

This is the first chapter to a baseball graphic novel I always wanted to do. The big story's about a young player who brings media attention to a team that doesn't want it. This is just the set-up but it works well as a stand-alone story, playing off of the original memoir's theme of realizing the thing you always wanted isn't what it's cracked-up to be.

If you want more Flashing stories head on over to the main page. Tomorrow I'll be posting a Sword and Planet story that I'm actually quite proud of, so come back and check it out.

____________________

Rogers’ office was built in the 70s and it hasn’t been renovated once. Shag carpeting and an iron desk that’s covered with papers that have probably been there since the 70s as well. A collection of box scores and notes and newspaper clipping left behind by coaches who actually thought they could turn this franchise around. There’s an old TV in the corner, rabbit ears sitting on top, and surrounded by boxes filled with VHS tapes of games from the past four decades that have probably never been watched. He stubs out his cigarette and turns to Jamie Jones.

“People come ‘n play for us for one ‘a two reasons. They either want to retire, or they want to prove to the world that they deserve to be elsewheres. I’m assumin’ your gonna be the second one, am I right?”

Jamie’s dressed in his father’s suit – he looks wildly out of place with this room. He’s pristine, his auburn hair is neatly parted down the middle and he cheeks are fresh with slight razor burn. He sits straight, his hands placed in his lap, his feet flat on the floor, and his eyes wide with excitement.

“I’m just here to play, coach. I appreciate the opportunity to help this team succeed.”

“Hmph,” Rogers lights another cigarette. “I’m gonna let you down now, kid, ‘cause I’d hate to see you slowly die out there. Ain’t nobody on this team has any delusions that they can ever do anything to help this team win. Believe me – if that’s what you’re truly looking for – worst thing that could’ve ever happen to you was Johnson’s injury. But you’ll come around. Play for a trade and don’t piss off your teammates and you’ll do just fine.”

Jamie stands up with his duffle bag, tells Rogers he appreciates the advice, and holds out his hand. Rogers looks at it and says, “You’re in locker 23. You’re playing third today – go suit up.”
______________________________

Two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Runners are on second-and-third. Jamie’s at the plate, his team’s down 4-1. He’s staring down Sanchez. Every newspaper and sports program in the nation simply calls him Game Over. The man hasn’t had a blown save all season and he’s well on his way to breaking Rodriguez’s single-season save record. Jamie gives a smile – the situation simply feels right.

Sanchez delivers a breaking ball inside. Jamie jumps on the ball and stumbles as he swings over it. He falls down, causing the handful of people left in the stadium to break out in a chorus of drunken boos and laughs. “Nice cut,” Baldino says as he throws the ball back to Sanchez. Jamie picks himself back up and gets right back in his stance, locking eyes with one of the leagues most most-feared and well-paid pitchers.

The second ball is low and away, about six-inches outside of the strike zone. The umpire lazily calls it a strike. Jamie turns and argues the pitch. No-one gets his back – Rogers isn’t even watching the game. Jamie sets back up, defeated, down 0-and-2 in the count.

Sanchez shakes off the split-fingered fastball and settles on a change-up – Jamie’s swinging ahead, his timing’s way off and he’s probably going to overcompensate this time around. Sanchez sets up and delivers…

Jamie hears the unmistakable pop of cork on ash. It’s a good pop – he got all of the ball. He feels the bat rattle in his hands. He sees Sanchez quickly spin and turn towards center field. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Baldino getting out of his stance as he watches the ball fly deep into the outfield. And then he runs, as fast he can, towards first.

He doesn’t even realize he hit a homerun until after he rounds first. No-one cheers. His bench is quite. There are no cameras flashing and no fanfare coming over the loudspeakers. His first major league hit, his first major league home run, Sanchez’s first blown save of the season, and yet he runs around the bases realizing no-one even cares.
_____________________________

The game ends up going 14-innings, five-hours of ball, before Jamie finally picks-up his first major league loss. The final score was 5-4 and the final pitch seemed to hang over the plate for hours until Baldino finally decided to knock it out of the park. The ball might as well have been sitting on a tee.

Jamie sits in front of locker 23, everyone’s eyes are fixed firmly on him. No-one speaks to him. No-one congratulates him on his first major league hit. The young players are already gone. The old timers are icing up their joints and seething.

Briggs, the team’s veteran right fielder, walks up to Jamie with a smile across his face. He’s missing several teeth, the type of smile you expect from a man who starts plenty of fights on and off the field. Briggs got his first championship ring in ’95. He’s received three rings since on three different teams, always as a back-up.

“Good game today. Too bad we couldn’t pull it off,” Jamie says to his teammate. Briggs just stares at him, his shit-eating grin showing his few remaining yellow teeth. The two men share uncomfortable silence, prompting Jamie to hold his hand out to the weathered journeyman.

Briggs looks at Jamie hand. Without warning, he violently slams Jamie’s head into the locker, causing the rookie to collapse onto the floor; his head gashed open, blood streaked on the locker’s rough metal surface.

“I had plans tonight, you fucking cunt.”

No-one in the locker room moves. No-one protests. They all look at Jamie in disgust, nursing their sore knees and elbows.

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Flashing #30: Recipe

Friday, May 01, 2009

This one is so corny. So. Corny. But, on the bright side, it's a real recipe. And everyone always loves my ribs so, you know, appreciate it as a recipe, not as an attempt to turn the original memoir into a recipe. No-one ever said all 260 stories are going to come easy. And no-one ever said they're all going to go down easy, either. I picked the idea, went with it, and...well...didn't work.

If you want to see better Flashing stories that I've cooked up, head on over to the main page.

___________________

Jason’s BBQ Ribs

Prep: 30 minutes Marinate: 6+ hours Cook: 1 hour Grill: 10 minutes Makes: 5 servings

5 lbs of beef back ribs
3 12-oz bottles of Guinness
2 cups water
2 Turkish bay leaves
4 medium onions, sliced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
½ cup of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1. Trim fat from ribs so they look good. Put ribs in stainless steal Dutch oven. Pour beer over ribs. Make sure the ribs are covered with beer, or else the meat won’t rest well. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

2. Add water and bay leaves to Dutch over. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer for one hour. Be sure to set an alarm, if ribs simmer for too long they will become distressed.

3. Cook onions and butter in large sauce pan over medium heat until tender. Add brown sugar and cook for 2-minutes more. Remove half of the onion mixture. The remaining half will be alone and longing for companionship…

4. …and that companionship will be supplied. Stir ketchup, chipotle peppers, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, hoison sauce, and vinegar into remaining onion mixture. Stir everything together so that all of the ingredients completely mix and get to know each other. At this point you should check the Guinness in the Dutch over, there may not be enough. Be sure to add more if the ribs are exposed. It’s possible that all of the Guinness may cause the ribs to get sick but there’s nothing to fear, they’ll be just fine. Back to your sauce, once the pot is brought to boil you can reduce heat to medium. Simmer uncovered for 40-minutes. Let the sauce walk it off, as it were.

5. Remove the sauce from heat and cool. Everything needs to rest for a little bit before going at it again. Take the sauce and transfer it to a food processor. The sauce may think it’s in for another good time, mixing it up with more ingredients and what not, but it is horribly mistaken. You will blend the sauce until it smooth. Cut up everything. Strain and discard solids. Then set the sauce aside, by itself, and drain the ribs. Brush ribs with sauce.

6. Brings coals to a medium heat. Grill the ribs bone side down until browned and defenseless. The ribs needs this, a moment of quite meditation by a nice, warm fire.

7. Serve ribs with warm sauce and reserved onion mixture. Although the ribs have been through a lot over the past 24 hours, they’ll end up tasting delightful and make you appreciate the little things in life you normally take for granted. Enjoy!

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Flashing #29: Math Quiz

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today was nuts. I was able to whip this one up before dinner, though. Pop quiz! Pick up your pencils, you have ten minutes. It's based on the original memoir. If you want more Flashing stories, head on over to the main page.

________________________

Math 204

Rodriguez

Quiz #8

Show all work 

1)      In a given hour it usually takes two alcoholic beverages to get Jason tipsy, three to get him drowsy, and four to put him to sleep. If Jason drinks three and a half eight-ounce glasses of red wine the hour before he boards his plane, how many alcoholic beverages will he need to drink during the first hour of the plane ride in order to fall to sleep? What if we assumed a toxic load exponent of .5?

2)      Jason didn’t drink enough alcoholic beverages to fall asleep on the plane. He’s been up since 7AM EST and his plane landed in Munich at 9AM CET (7 hour time difference). How much longer will Jason need to avoid sleep in order to be awake for 24 hours? Assuming his cognitive functions depreciate at a rate of two functions per hour after 24 hours, at what time will Jason have lost his ability to reason, perceive, learn, and think?

3)      Jason finally goes to bed at 4:30PM CET. Unfortunately, by then, all of his cognitive functions are deficient and he accidently sets his alarm for 7AM instead of 7PM. Assuming his first REM cycle starts 1.5-hours into his “nap” and then he cycles through REM every three hours, how many REM cycles will Jason have gone through by the time he wakes up at midnight?

4)      After oversleeping Jason decides he at least needs to get out for some food. He’s walking down a deserted street when he hears techno music coming from a party bus behind him. Assuming that we’re in a vacuum and that sound is traveling 343m/s, how long does it take a single beat to reach Jason if the bus is 100-yards away? Assuming the bus is traveling at 30km/hr and Jason is walking at 3km/hr, how long will it take the bus to catch up to Jason?

5)      Jason steps into a bar in Schwabing where the hostess speaks nothing but German. She’s trying to tell Jason that there’s a one-euro charge for entering the bar but Jason thinks he’s hitting on her. Considering it takes Jason, on average, five minutes to get any point ever made ever and his comprehension of a single German phrase increases by two percent every thirty seconds, will Jason understand what she’s saying before he gets the point?

6)      Redo problem one except assume Jason averages two pints of beer an hour for seven hours. At hour three, he also has two shots of Jaeger.

7)      Jason has to walk one mile back to his hotel. Assuming he stumbles and takes an extra four steps, equaling five feet, for every eight steps he takes, how many extra steps will it take Jason to get home?

8)      The next night Jason is back at the same bar. He’s singing karaoke. He first sings James Brown’s “I Feel Good” which increases anti-American sentiment in the room at the rate of 2% per second followed by The Beatles “Twist and Shout” which increases anti-American sentiment in the room at the rate of 4.5% per second (both compounded continuously). If the former song is 4-minutes long and the latter song is 3-minutes long, what is the overall increase of anti-American sentiment in the room directed towards Jason?

9)      On the third night Jason decides to hang out with eight more Americans. If the background noise is a constant 72 decibels and the people at Jason’s table speak, on average, 18 decibels above the background with a variance of 2 decibels, what is the maximum decibel level one could expect assuming the distribution asymptotically approaches four standard deviations above the mean?

10)  Jason realizes how good he has it back home. He can’t wait to see Robin again. If the soul is boundless and the heart is infinite, how much love is contained within Jason’s body if it’s overflowing?

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Flashing #28: Missed Connection

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I didn't get to make this look like a Craig's List page - you just get the text. Anyway, it's a Missed Connection-style version of the original memoir

If you want more Flashing stories, check out the main page.

________________

Ich spreche Englisch – w4m (Schwabing, Munich)

_____________________________________________________

Reply to: pers-fqeas-1145604901@craigsbasement.org

Date: 2008-04-16, 9:21AM CET

Saw you at a bar in Schwabing. You were the only American there (besides me). You sang James Brown – I love James Brown! I don’t think you saw me but I was in the back, cheering. I worked up the nerve to talk to you but you left pretty quickly. Those guys were jerks, don’t let them bother you!

If you’re still in Schwabing and feel like sharing a coffee (or a cocktail) with a fellow traveler, give me a shout!

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Flashing #27: Choose Your Own Adventure

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Didn't you love CYOA books as a kid? I sure did. A couple of years back the DC Conspiracy tried to make a CYOA comic. It was too hard to organize, though, and the project just fell apart. I'm glad it did, however, because the genre anthologies we're putting together now are looking mighty fine. I have an 8-page story in the upcoming war anthology, I'll be sure to put ordering info up when it's available.

Anyway, the format works much better in prose - even when restricted to 1000-words for the whole piece. Today's entry is a variation of the original memoir. If you'd rather choose to read a different Flashing story, you can head over to the main page.

_____________________________

1. Your plane lands at the Munich airport. You usually have a difficult time sleeping on a plane, and the turbulence over the Atlantic combined with the fact that you simply didn’t drink enough alcohol made sleep impossible. It’s around 8AM Munich-time when you get to your hotel, 1AM back home. Your body wants to give up but your brain keeps telling it that this is your one commitment-free day in Germany.

____________________

If you decide to go site seeing, 
scroll to section 4

If you decide to take a nap first,
scroll to section 6.

2. You end up at the Schwabing neighborhood and it’s packed with people. You grab a quick bite to eat at a pizza window before finding a bar to settle into for the night. The hostess greats you in German and you have no idea what she’s saying. She grabs your phrase book to see if that will help the situation but comes up with nothing. You realize that she’s seriously cute.

___________________

If you believe she’s hitting on you and decide to make out with her
scroll to section 7

If you decide to stand idly by and hope you figure out what she’s saying via osmosis
scroll to section 9

3. You walk down Leopoldstraße, discouraged by the lack of people out. Just when you’re about to give up, you hear a sound in the distance that’s at first indescribable but eventually forms into heart-thumping techno music. The music is coming from a bus, packed with girls, guys, strobe lights, and stripper poles.

___________________

If you decide to follow that bus
scroll to section 2

If you decide that the bus is a red herring, and maybe you should go back to the hotel
scroll to section 5.

4. You’re having a wonderful time walking around Munich. You’ve watched the enormous clock at Marienplatz and sat in a pew towards the back of Frauenkirche. You had weisswurst at a local market and enjoyed a liter of beer (or two) at every beer garden you passed along the way. You even stopped at a German comic shop; although you didn’t buy anything because you were already well over per diem.

After hours of site seeing you decide to head back to the hotel for a nap. You hope that the evening will be half as fun as the day was.

__________________

Scroll to section 8.

5. You lay down in bed for an hour, trying to fall back asleep. But you already had eight hours of sleep and you’re hungry, your body is simply not having this. So you lay in bed until 6AM, staring at the ceiling and wishing you’d had just gone out. Your sleep cycle is off for the rest of the trip, and you’re in bed at 7PM every night, like a narcoleptic grandpa on Ambien.

__________________

The End.

6. You decide to check your email before napping and you see that your boss sent you some last minute instructions and work to take care of during your trip. You decide to get it all out of the way now, so that it doesn’t bog down your weekend. What originally seemed like a little bit of work actually ended up taking several hours. By the time you’re ready for your nap it’s close to 4:30 PM.

___________________

Scroll to section 8.

7. Slapped!
___________________
Scroll to section 9.

8. You set your alarm clock for 7:30 PM and lay your head down for much-needed sleep. When you wake up close to midnight, you’re not even sure whether or not the alarm clock went off. All you know if that you missed the entire evening, along with the potential debauchery and drunk-fueled mistakes that could have came with it.

___________________

If you decide to say, “fuck it,” and go out anyway
scroll to section 3.

If you decide to try and sleep the rest of the night
scroll to section 5.

9. The bartender steps in and says, “French? No. English? Ok.” She tells you that you need to pay one euro in order to become a life-time member of the smoking club, allowing you access to the bar. You pay a euro and have a seat.

You drink alone for a while until you meet some Germans that speak decent English. You end up talking all night, and the crew hanging around you swells significantly as the evening wears on. Shots of Jaeger are consumed. You vurp several times. By the time you’re ready to leave it’s 6AM and the bar is shutting down.

________________________

If you decide to make plans to hang out tomorrow 
scroll to section 11.

If you decide to end the fun right about here
scroll to section 10.

10. The next evening is a quiet one. You go out to dinner with coworkers before hitting up the hotel bar for a couple of drinks. You go to work during the day, call your fiancée in the afternoon, and see what you can of Munich in the early evening. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s your life and you like your life.

________________________

The End.

11. You meet up with people the following night for an evening of karaoke. It’s not the same this time around; the crew you’re with talk German all night and eventually move away from the bar to a table. They invite you but you don’t see the point. You sing some James Brown and realize no-one gets it. You sing some Beatles and realize people now see you as an American, despite the fact that the Beatles are a British band. As you leave the bar, much earlier than last night, patrons and workers shout things like, “USA!” and “God Bless George Bush.” You leave the bar embarrassed and head back to the hotel.

_______________________

Scroll to section 10.

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Flashing #26: Hint Fiction

Monday, April 27, 2009

I read about Hint Fiction over on the Flash Fiction Chronicles. It’s Robert Swartwood’s concept of telling a story in 25 words or less. I love the idea, there’s quite a bit of thought that has to go into writing small, so I decided to try it out here.

The concept reminds me of an exercise I used in my Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels class. Chris Piers and I would split our students into four groups and have them each draw four panels from a single comic story. One group had to do four panels about a group of astronauts getting ready to go to space, one group had to do four panels about the astronauts’ journey to another planet, one group had to do four panels about what happened when the astronauts got to that planet, and one group had to do four panels about the astronauts voyage home.

We took the 16 panels and hung them on the wall, in order. We then had each student go up to the wall and pull down one panel that they felt the story didn’t need in order to remain a complete story. Every time we did this project the students would whittle this 16-panel story down to a 1-panel story. And, without fail, that one panel was always one from the last part of the story – the voyage home.

The thing is – by showing our astronauts returning home we know that they went into space, we know that they did something, and we know that they’re now coming back. We don’t know the details, but we know what we need to know in order to look at that one panel and infer what happened before it.

The ending is the story, after all. The first two acts are just set-up and build-up; the third act is your point. I like to occasionally throw out the term Act 0. It’s all of the stuff that happened before the first act. All of the stuff that’s either implied or deduced from our characters’ behaviors and mannerisms. No-one writes a truly complete story – there’s always an Act 0. Something gets our characters to the first act.

We don’t expect a writer to write an Act 0, we just expect them to make Act 1 clear enough so that we can deduce Act 0, even if it’s not the Act 0 the writer had in mind. So, in writing a story that begins and ends in the third act, one just has to make it clear enough so that the reader can deduce what happened in acts 0, 1, and 2…even if it’s not the story the writer had in mind.

So, after that 449-word introduction, I give you my 25-word story, inspired by the original memoir. If you want to read longer Flashing pieces, head on over to the main page.

________________________________


The whole bar laughed. Even Gabriel chuckled, albeit while staring into his pint glass. I left, embarrassed. I didn’t miss this experience, I traded up.

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Flashing #25: Libertarian Science Fiction

Friday, April 24, 2009

I saw this Wikipedia entry and inspiration kicked me in the balls: “What would the Star Trek Universe look like if the world was run by Libertarians?” I took the crew we know and love and placed them in a world run by incompetent corporations and angry white men. This was A LOT of fun to write.

It ties to the original memoir in two ways. First I went all meta. Libertarians wanting the world to be different only to realize some things work the way they are. I also took the idea of Europeans looking down on stupid Americans and twisted it into alien races looking down on stupid Earthlings. And, once again, this was A LOT of fun to write.

If you want more Flashing stories, beam yourself on over to the main page. Provided your transporter’s working, of course.

_____________________

The Worst Spaceship In The Universe

Kirk kicks the console and spits on the main viewer. He debates looking at the manual one last time before throwing it across the bridge and collapsing on the floor. He looks around the metal monstrosity he’s been supplied, defeated. He pulls out his blaster, fully prepared to vaporize everything on the Enterprise.

Spock puts his hands on his captains shoulder. “That wouldn’t be wise, James.” The crew is full of angst, at the rate things are going they’ll never make it to the Titan Council in time. For the first time in over a century Earth will not be present at the Intergalactic Summit.

“This fucking thing’s a piece of shit, Spock!”

“Call Montgomery again. See if he’s learned anything.” Spock tries to hide his own frustration but even his steadfast patience is running thin.

Kirk hits the com and calls down to engineering “Scotty?”

The com is silent; not even static. Uhura summons all of her courage and delivers the bad news to her captain, “James…the com’s down.”

Mother fucker!” James gets off of the floor and stomps towards the turbolift. He’ll have to walk to engineering today.
___________________________

“Scotty – what the fuck is going on? Did you call tech support yet?”

Scotty come up from under the antimatter fill port, his uniform filthy with grease and radiation, his hair frazzled and burnt beyond repair.

“I’m on the phone with the shitheads, James. Those fucks piped me through to some no-nothings in goddamn India. I’m trying to get someone who…yes? Hello? Hi, this is Montgomery Scott of the…what? No, I don’t have a case number. No! Wait! Don’t...mother fucking fucks! Fuck! They’re probably putting me back through to India, now, James - I have no idea how long this shit’s gonna take!”

Fuck!” Kirk punches at the air. The air supplies little resistance. “Scotty, look, I need you to call me a fucking spacecab and…”

“What’s that James?”

“I said I need you to call me a mother fucking space cab and…”

Scotty taps his ear and shuts his eyes tight. Minutes pass without the two men saying a word to each other. When Scotty finally speaks his voice is several orders of magnitude higher than it should be. “James…I’m sorry. I think I forgot to pay my monthly cochlear implant fee. I can’t hear shit.”

Kirk just stares at his old friend and fights the urge to strangle him. “Goddamn it, Scotty! Autopayment! AUTOPAYMENT! I’ll have Janice call MedTronics and see if they can send Bones over. We let that subcontract run dry so I’m not sure if they’ll be a contracting vehicle for them. FUCK!”

James runs back to the turbolift. Time is short and his options are limited.
_______________________

“Janice, I need you to call Chekov and see if he can send a cab here ASAP.”

“How am I supposed to…”

“I don’t give a SHIT, Janice. Find a way to get in touch with that fucking backstabber and get me a ride to Titan. Now.”

Spock walks over to Kirk and tries to meet the broken man's eyes. “James, I need to go with you.”

Kirk’s voice is tired. He tugs on his thinning hair and tries to let his second-in-command down as easily as he can. “Spock – if we don’t have the Enterprise with us we’ll have to get hotel rooms. And Starfleet Incorporated’s per diem allowance for this conference doesn’t really allow for two hotel rooms. Sorry, old friend.”

Spock takes a deep breath and reaches into his uniform. “I was afraid you’d say that, James.” He pulls a piece of paper from his shirt and hands it to Kirk.

“What the fuck is this?”

“My resignation letter, James. I’m taking a job with StarCore. They have a lot more resources and private invest…”

StarCore? Fucking StarCore! Spock, you can’t do this to me, man! I’m three years out from retirement – I fucking need you!”

For the first time in as long as James knew him, Spock smiles. “Sorry, old friend, but you and this whole fucking company can get bent. I’m out of here.”

Kirk screams a chain of obscenities at his science officer. Spock responds by throwing up a middle finger as he exits the bridge.
_____________________________

“Where to, buddy?” The spacecab is damp and smells like Romulan feces.

“Titan. And make it quick, ok?”

The ship exits earth’s orbit as the driver readies the warp drive. Kirk feels something wet on his ass and doesn’t even bother moving over. “Hey – do you know Chekov?”

“Yeah, he’s a good guy.”

“Good guy, that prick used to work for me. That mother fucker probably sabotaged our ship before starting your bullshit company so we’d have to use his fucking spacecabs.”

“Whatever buddy. Sit tight, we’ll be there in five minutes.”
_________________________________

Kirk always feels like an idiot at these things. All of the other civilizations that come have the latest and greatest in everything and he’s lucky if his belt buckle isn’t broken. The Klingons and the Vulcans and the Romulans are all grouped together, they whisper and point at Kirk as he walks in. “I wonder who paid his bill to come here,” they say to each other.

Kirk picks up his conference proceedings and welcome packet and goes straight to his hotel room. He’s had it with all of these idiots and do-gooders.

In his room he cracks open the minibar and turns on the hologram. He orders a porno, slips out of his soiled uniform, and masturbates wildly while watching a green woman go down on a blue one. Two minutes in his dick goes limp, and Kirk realizes he forgot to pay his monthly erectile dysfunction bill.

Mother fucker!” he says, holding his flaccid cock in his hand.

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Flashing #24: Atonal

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Welcome to the story you’re not going to read. This is as pretentious as I can get. I’ll apologize in advance by showing some sample art from a new comic I’m working on with Marco Magallanes:



Shaolin political-thriller with a strong sci-fi hook. Ok – that’s fun, right? Now I’ll be a pretentious prick and tell the origin of today’s story.

A professor I had in college introduced me to Arnold Schoenberg and I’ve been a huge fan of atonal music ever since. The idea that you can create a piece that seems random and chaotic from one note to the next that is still filled with emotion and story is amazing to me. My senior year in college I worked at Jillian’s in Boston with this guy Garret (unrelated: He recommended Gravity’s Rainbow to me and, in turn, introduced me to Thomas Pynchon). Garret told me about a homeless guy in Boston that handwrote entire novels where no word logically followed the preceding word yet the whole piece would still manage to tell a story. I remember thinking it was a wonderful way to waste a life. Last night I started my hardboiled story with a little piece on “Central Park In The Dark” which is one of my favorite atonal compositions.

Those three things formed a perfect storm of pretention last night and I said, “Fuck it – I’m gonna try an atonal version of the original memoir.” So I attempted to write a story where a) no two adjacent words could ever be moved into a proper sentence b) the words chosen flow despite the fact none of them fit and c) there’s still a story when all’s said and done. I don’t know if I succeeded, but believe me when I tell you that writing this piece was much harder than it probably looks.

Ok – let’s do it. If you want less pretentious Flashing stories head on over to the main page.

__________________


With sleep skies trouble grayed I curtain arose clock pulled bathe, “Fuck!” Collar rain skies empty walking emptied nobody streets darkness. Missed past borrowed dark schooled worked youth losing breezy closed light clip-clop-clip. In disarrayed moments sound bus turn driven chance dance follow. Life! Which figuring food quick window find frequents locally drinks.

Barrier euro phrase opened book “what” points nothing “was” points stares “this” cigarette. Bar stranger end one clock sip clock sip shift bathroom smoke clock sip another. None companion conversationless clock phone clock fumbled clock nothing chug.

Another.

English find visiting “you?” soon chug order everyone “Prost” talkity-talkity-talkity. Common blue America blame laughed understands pats pats pats Jaeger! Prost! Another. Writer holiday (lies) published researching (half-truths) wanting relaxed (truths). Another. They’d expensive I-80 “Memphis!” always barbeque blues gas worried Prost! Another. Bush Kerry Obama “Hillary?” Obama never McCain “Fuck!” Another. Prost! Another. Prost! Another. Clock tables chairs prost clean stumble fall stumble “Taxi!”

Sleep.

Back sings “Me?” Brown different “American!” bar alone clock phone fumble clock sings “Again?” Beatles different “American!” bar alone clock phone fumble clock sings “No.” Another. Another. Another. Clock done auf wiedersehen “American!” what “American!” stumble “Fuck!”

Phone.

Thinking face beautiful ring thinking voice soft ring thinking hands locked ring “Hello.” Not words miss here need want yearn soon soon soon. Different everything older “Happy” excited soon soon soon. Kiss taxi hotel sleep.

Safe easy hotel tourists “American!” yes. Home home home. Soon.

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Flashing #23 - Hardboiled

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I love me some Raymond Chandler, and I apologize for simplifying his Farewell, My Lovely Marlowe, painting him as a racist, and placing him in a changing world. I do it with love, I promise.

This story may, once again, seem like a huge departure from the original memoir but I tried to take my character from that story and focus on the good things that he didn't realize he was missing - mainly family and love and stability. As I keep saying, loose interpretations is going to be an excuse I often use for this project.

I hope you dig it. I have to go write comics, now. I'll hopefully be posting some teaser art soon. Until then, feel free to investigate other Flashing stories on the main page.

___________________________________

No-one ever understood Central Park quite like Charles Ives did. I don’t even think Olmsted and Vaux understood their own creation quite like Charles Ives. When you listen to “Central Park in the Dark” you hear those strings playing under everything. They’re haunting and they’re darkness and they’re death. They’re the woods. You hear fragments of “Hello My Baby” and “Washington Post March” in the distance, coming from the nightclubs over on Central Park West. It pulls you in, makes you feel safe, makes you forget about the strings. Makes you forget about the woods. But the woods come back. After a couple of seconds you find yourself back in the darkness. Alone. Floating. Frightened.

The kids these days don’t listen to ragtime. “Hello My Baby” is old people’s music. It’s all Sinatra and Duke Ellington and Perry Como coming from the clubs on Central Park West. But this body I’m looking down at now, the one with rope marks around its neck, the one with the clothes torn off and the knife cuts in the gut – this body makes me think the kids should be at least listening to Ives before walking through this park. Maybe they’d learn to stay away from these woods.
____________________________

6AM and the phone cuts through my hangover like a hacksaw against bone. I already know who’s on the other end, and if he’s calling me at 3AM his time it means he’s heard the news.

“Piers?” He pronouncing my name Pierce with a couple of Zs on the end for good measure. He’s obviously drunk. Or stoned. Or both.

“Speaking.”

“Is it true?”

We talk for an hour about his daughter. Johns keeps talking about his precious little baby and his innocent sweetheart. Each time he mentions her he neglects to say that she ran away to The Big City at the age of 16. I don’t remind him of that fact, however, because the guy’s obviously going through enough already. You’d think a tough guy farmer from The Plains wouldn’t cry so much but you probably haven’t heard Johns after a fifth and a dead daughter at his doorstep.

And then we get to the part of the conversation I always hate, “You need to find who did this.”

“This isn’t a runaway case anymore, Johns. This gets kicked to homicide. Police’ll work it out.”

Conversations always seem to end up here and they usually end up going one of two ways. The client could say that they paid me for a service and my job isn’t done yet. Heated words will be exchanged and I’ll get kicked-off the case. Or…

“I’ll pay you anything you want.”

I head to Crystal’s for a cup of coffee and a couple of scrambled eggs.
____________________________

Sergeant Marlowe sits behind his desk, filling out paper work and finishing his whisky. An old LA shamus that got sick of the scene out west and came to New York thinking it’ll be easier out here. He always smells of cigarettes, drink, and regret.

“You got any leads on the Johns case?”

He doesn’t even look up at me. “Yeah, we got the killer in lock down.”

For a city this big, crimes seem to be solved awfully quick most of the time. I stand at the doorway, waiting for more information, but Marlowe just buries his nose in his paperwork and tries to pretend that I don’t exist. “Anything else?” he finally asks, clicking his tongue to the roof of his mouth.

“Anything else would be nice.”

He lets out a sigh and rifles through his stack of papers. He pulls one from the bottom and looks over the details. “She was turning tricks in the park. Jim Brown wanted what she was offering but didn’t want to pay. He took it, by force, and killed her, for fun. The end.”

“You got a confession?”

“I have a signed piece of paper that says Jim Brown killed Marissa Johns. The end.”

“I take it Jim Brown is a negro?”

Marlowe looks up at me for the first time. He holds up the piece of paper with Jim Brown’s signature. “The. End.”

Crimes seem to get solved awfully quick in this town.
____________________________


The phone conversation with Richard Johns is hell. He cries the whole time. Nigger this and nigger that. Something about the conversation leads me to believe that Johns never used that word before tonight. I’m taking it he doesn’t believe this story anymore that I do. But this isn’t LA. In LA everything seems to be conspiracies and spoiled kids and illegal casinos and drug runners and, at the end of it all, a sack full of money. In this city, nine times out of ten it’s Nigger This And Nigger That and a high rate of solved cases. No-one can argue with results.

Johns sounds like a good man, though, and Marissa sounds like a confused girl. I stay on the phone with Johns longer than I should, promise things I should never promise, and, in the end, I tell him not to worry about the rest of the money. I didn’t really do any work. He would read it all in tomorrow’s paper, anyway. The headline would say, “Small-Town Girl Found Murdered In Central Park.”

The unpublished subheadline would say, “Nigger This and Nigger That.”

After I hang up I let myself imagine, for a moment, what I could have done if I found her before Nigger This And Nigger That. Could I have convinced her that life in Iowa wasn’t that bad? That there were people there who loved her? That she’d never get that kind of love in this city?

I stop thinking. Thinking’s never good in my line of work once the case is closed. I put Charles Ives on the record player and stare at my ceiling. I think about how easy life would be if everything really was Nigger This And Nigger That.

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Flashing #22 - Disaster Thriller

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I had to rush today's story. I don't think it came out all that bad but if you want a better version of it go and read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Disaster Thrillers always bothered me. Someone who shouldn't have survived's heroic journey out of the fire and into the arms of someone who shouldn't be sitting around and waiting for him. So I gutted one part of that formula. I also focused on the theme of chasing down a dream only to realize everything you need is back home in order to tie it to the original memoir.

As to why I had to rush today's story - I'm doing some research for a new comic project. It's a Shaolin political thriller with a strong sci-fi component and my artist is hot to get it started.

Ride a tsunami over to the main page if you want more Flashing stories.

________________________


Gary sat in the lounge car of the American Orient Express, about 700-miles from Yellowstone, reviewing the pictures he took at Bryce Canyon National Park. This was a trip he had wanted to take for years but at 6-grand per person he couldn’t afford to take Annie and the kids. No-one was really happy about the decision that was finally made but this year’s family vacation turned into a weeklong get-away for Gary. He promised he’ll make it up to them next year.

He was in a lounge chair by the mini-Grand as Brooks played for the crowd of champagne-drinking vintage travelers. Brooks was a fantastic piano player, probably too good to be taking gigs on the American Orient Express. He’s always starts his sets by asking the crowd if they have any requests. “I can play anything,” he’d say with his chest puffed out. Gary tried to challenge Brooks and asked him to play a largely unknown song from a criminally underappreciated artist. To his surprise, Brooks just smiled and broke right into Harry Gibson’s “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine”

And that’s when the Yellowstone caldera erupted.

The windows on the wall opposite Gary blew inward with tremendous force. Pudgy Mr. Martin was thankfully standing between Gary and millions of pieces of fine glass. As the train flipped off the tracks there were only a couple of shards lodged in Gary’s arms and stomach. The shards accompanied Mr. Martin’s shredded flesh and organs.

The lounge car twisted and cracked as it rolled down the hill. Although an incident like this would normally be accompanied by a lot of screaming the car was remarkably quiet, probably because most of its inhabitants were dead. The few that were spared from the initial explosion where passed out from wounds or fright. Gary was the only one lucky enough to be kept alive as the car tumbled along, throwing bodies everywhere.

Gary finally started screaming, but with his eardrums blown out everything still seemed quiet.

_______________________________


He woke just in time to see the approaching clouds of ash. They blacked out the sun and coated the ground like fine snow. The air was hot and poisonous and getting thinner. Gary got up off the ground and hobbled over to the nearest corpse. He removed the shirt and looked around for any liquid that wasn’t already contaminated with ash or gasoline or blood. Having no luck, he urinated on the shirt, folded it into a makeshift mask, and held it up to his face. He had to get out of the area fast. He had to go east.

_______________________________


The winds have been blowing steadily west and Gary has been luckily moving away from the worst of it. California, by now, was likely destroyed. Earthquakes and mudslides and brushfires and ash – inches of thick ash covering everything. He’s seen some of the destruction in the plains as he traveled east, whether by car or bike (or foot, when no other transportation presented itself to him). The skies here were still black. The vegetation was dead or dying. The cows and pigs were rotting – flesh peeled back and every inch filled with ash.

But as the weeks passed and Gary continued to trudge east the air got relatively clearer. A gray haze fills the sky now and there are still occasional signs of life. A stray dog eating a human carcass. A blinded child crying on the sidewalk. A pack of confused and panicked Midwesterners looking for a fight or food or a touch of both. If it wasn’t for the fact that so many people were dead one would call the whole scene chaotic. However, because of the drastically decreased population it’s more like sporadic pockets of shear insanity.

_____________________________

Gary had to ditch the car somewhere in West Virginia. Cars are becoming easy targets for the gangs that roam the roads. The people inside them tend to be soft and unable to walk the thousands of miles from the west to the perceived safety of the east. These people provide nourishment and amusement to the desperate. Gary’s just happy that the car was able to get him over the Appalachian Mountains; his bike will probably be able to get him to New York City within several weeks.

He has no idea what he’ll find there, but he’s heard rumors.

Most of New York City’s food supply comes from the Great Plains and the Great Plains aren’t supplying any food right now. It’s not difficult to imagine what would happen to a city of 17-million people if you instantly cut-off their food supply. Gary hopes that Annie was smart enough to stock up on canned foods the moment the news hit. He hopes she’s sitting in the basement now, with the kids, waiting for all of this to blow over. He hopes they’re all well fed and playing board games.

He understands the odds are very much against him.

_______________________________

The house is empty and thoroughly ransacked. The fridge is bare. The cupboards have been turned inside out. Shattered pictures on the ground, smashed appliances and doodads dusted in a thin coat of ash. The house looks like it was destroyed and deserted early on.

Gary slinks to the floor, buries his head in his lap, and convinces himself that his family is in Disney World, having a wonderful vacation, unaffected by the end of the world.

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Flashing #21: Western Horror

Monday, April 20, 2009

My first published work was in the Western Horror genre, a comic anthology I edited called Western Tales of Terror. I’ve always loved the western/horror mash-up. There’s something about open ranges, tough men, and evil spirits always got the imagination going.

I strayed quite a bit from the original memoir with this one. I kept with the theme of making up for the past only to accept your current life as is but I even mangled that a touch. Whatever, with these genre stories I’m just trying to have fun. I’ll stick closer to the original with the form stories. Loose interpretations – you’ll be hearing that a lot over the course of a year.

Head on over to the main page for more Flashing stories.

____________________________

Eldon sits on the edge of the bed and shakes the sleep from his head. The frame buckles in the middle, the wood creaks and splinters; it used to hold two but now the one is heavier than any load it’s ever been built for. Eldon’s feet rest in a puddle of rainwater that’s been steadily coming through the roof for the past four hours. The small house is cold this morning, a chill wind coming in through the gaps and holes in the walls, the oven as cold as it’s been for the past five years. Eldon slept with no blankets, the only thing keeping him warm is his undergarments and a layer of blubber that only grows on a man who’s all but given up. He spits on the cracked floorboards, pulls up his soiled suspenders, picks up his shovel, and makes his way into the woods. He has to dig another hole.

The ground is damp. Mud forms around Eldon’s feet with each step he takes; the imprints swell with water and blades of torn-up grass. The rains came down hard last night. It didn’t look like rain, but this is God’s judgment of the wicked in full effect. The heavens opened up and let loose a torrent of life-giving water, and the piping coming out of the ground seems to have the mark of God’s wrath. It’s wet – mud cakes the rim of the pipe and nothing seems to be coming out of it except for the unmistakable stench of death and sin.

Eldon drops his shovel to the ground. The earth is soft and gives easy. The soil is heavy. It takes all of his strength to lift it over his shoulder and toss it behind him. In like air, out like clay. It’ll take hours to dig this hole again. Every time he drops his shovel down he pictures Margene, working her garden with her spade, planting onions and daffodils despite Eldon’s promises that nothing’ll ever grow on this land. She’d pat her belly and smile before going back to her work.

Eldon puts his mouth to the pipe and inhales bloated flesh. “I always told her this land was nothing but death, Shep.” He drops the shovel in again and hoists another load of poisoned soil behind him. “I reckon God proved me right last night.”

Two hours in and Eldon’s hardly dug a foot down. The mud keeps sliding into the hole; it seems two shovels-full of earth falls into the hole for every shovel-full he casts out. “Shep,” Sheldon says towards the pipe, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Christ was judging me right now.

“This land…I was supposed to take her away from it. Ya hear me? I promised her I wouldn’t make her raise our kin here. Wouldn’t be fair to any of us. Hell, Shep, I was even looking for someplace new. Somewheres in Dakota. But that was many years ago, Shep. You know that story. You happened upon this cursed land before I came home.”

The sun is bright now. It bakes the earth. It hardens the soil. The hole becomes easier to dig. The sides don’t cave as often. Eldon stands hip-deep now. The piping comes out to his elbows. The air around it smells of repentance. Over the past four hours, there hasn’t been a sound coming from that pipe. Not a murmur or a gurgle or a reply.

“You know what, Shep? I honestly thought you’d come through this. I really did. I’m not a righteous man by any means, and I know I ain’t one that has the right to pass any sort of judgment. For all I knows, you’re more righteous than I ever was. Maybe you were a man of the Book. Maybe you just had one slip-up, I don’t know. I had lots ‘a slip-ups. I mean, look at me now. I was a worker. My hands were cracked and calloused from the land. Now I’m just slothful and lazy. Now all I can think about is revenge. I honestly thought Christ would give you a pass. I mean, who’s to say it shouldn’t be me in there, waiting for the Lord’s Word?”

Three more hours pass before Eldon’s shovel hits wood. He clears out the area near the pipe and sees that the coffin has held together. “Heh – I didn’t think it’d hold. I thought fate would deem me a murderer. Looks like the Lord had other plans, huh, Shep?”

Eldon digs out the remainder of the grave with his hands. He digs the earth around the coffin so he can open it an bare witness to the Lord’s ways. He pulls the nails from the damp wood. “I feel a little bad in all this. You killed my Margene. You killed my unborn child. At first I was glad you spent the night sucking for air and drowning. I was glad you thought you had a chance only to find the Lord isn’t always forgiving.

“But now, Shep. I don’t know. This doesn’t feel like the kind of thing a man should wait five years for.”

Eldon yanks the pipe out of the cover and opens the coffin. It’s filled to the brim with mud and water. He thrusts his hands inside and they meet no resistance until they hit bottom. He sloshes them in the soupy mixture. He panics.

“Shep?”

Dirt hits him square in the back. Eldon looks up out of the hole he’s dug and sees the silhouette of a man against the roaring sun. More dirt comes in. Eldon tries to climb out of the massive hole but the sides continue to cave. Dirt hits his face. The person standing at the edge of the hole is silent and brooding. As the grave gets filled in, Eldon swears he can see Christ the Redeemer.

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Flashing #20 - Free Republic

Friday, April 17, 2009

I was originally going to do another homage/skewering today but I didn't have the time or the energy to follow through with any of my ideas. Long day yesterday - vet had to amputate my dog's tail and dewclaw, cut her belly to get a sample of another growth, and clean her teeth. She was beat to hell and Robin and I were beat to hell. I just wanted to do something easy, something that required no thought or logic whatsoever. So I ended up doing a Free Republic version of the original memoir. This time I focused on a guy that was at the bar during my first night out and about in Munich.

Free Republic is an obsession of mine. I read it ALL THE TIME. The threads always start out funny and then some really scary guy crashes in and starts kicking furniture around and talking about guns and acorns and Muslims and whatnot. So I tried to capture that - the unintentionally funny stereotypes up front and then the guy that somehow found a way to post to Free Republic through his ham radio.

Enjoy!

And if you want more Flashing stories head on over to the MSM-approved main page.

_____________________

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Flashing #19 - Stephanie Meyer

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Man...writing like Stephanie Meyer is HARD. I seriously gave up after around 700 words, didn't even bother rewriting or editing. The process is easy, of course. Start with no plot, insert a weak female lead and an abusive male lead, and then face fuck your thesaurus until it begs for mercy. It's the thesaurus part that gets you, though. I mean, seriously, how many ways can one say "heavenly?"

Anyway - I abused the English language with today's post. I fucking EDWARDED that shit. I went back to the original memoir, again, but focused on Robin's side of the story. I was going to have her get pregnant and then have Jason rip the baby out of her stomach with his teeth so a werewolf can piss on it but I had to stop. I couldn't keep writing like this.

I apologize to Robin for Meyering her. But yesterday she was Mametted so it all works out.

If you want more Flashing stories head on over to the main page.

I'd also like to acknowledge Kellen Rice and Cracked.com for their skewering of Stephanie Meyer. Those two articles inspired me to achieve horrible things.

_________________________

Robin habitually scrutinizes her email one last time. Jason hasn’t written to her in many a protracted hour, filling her soul with vapid, innocuous, and unpalatable emptiness. What time is it in Germany? she cogitates to herself and her sardonic intellect instantly supplies an answer: It is 8:28PM. Minutes glide by like a schooner across open seas with Robin steadily fighting the overwhelming impetus to click, “Send/Receive” one last time. Unable to bear the thought of yet another vanquishing rejection she hoists her computer over her head and throws it against her unyielding wall with all of her puissance.

The insensate computer shatters and obliterates, debris falling to the haggard carpet, filling the room with a fine dust, tendrils reaching out into the gaunt patch of celestial radiance peeking through her living room window. That’s done now she ponders to herself. Now it doesn’t matter if he writes.

The ravenous desire in her, however, is not satiated. Not for an infinitesimal moment. She dives to the glacial floor in a bluster, tripping over her own lack of self-control, flustered by her naiveté, sifting through dust and fissured glass, trying to piece her computer back together. After all, it is her only tie to Jason.

And then she remembers her phone. To hear his cherubic voice one more time would be as to call forth a specter of empyrean nirvana. She grabs her phone and thrusts it to her yearning ear, pummels the digits that combine to form his godlike phone number, and listens to the propitious sounds of a dialing phone.

One ring. Her body trembles like the anger of Zeus. Two rings. Her lips quake and cause tsunamis to form in her heart. Three rings. Her uterus twists like a pretzel made by Beelzebub himself.

Voicemail after three lasting rings. He must have hit ignore she deliberates to herself. Suddenly, there is nothing left in her destitute world but imperturbable death. Having no other choice, she goes into the bathroom and expropriates her sharp razor. Before she mercilessly hacks at her indefensible wrists she looks over at her phone and sees that the backlight is like a scintillating beacon. Is it possible that there is a transmission from her savior?

Robin seizes the phone and stares, wide eyes opened widely, at the screen. One new message from Jason. One new reason to live.

He loves me she thinks while hastily clicking “read.” She clicks it so speedily, in fact, that she knocks the phone out of her own oscillating hand and into the emiction receptacle, causing the hunk of plastic and wires to explode into a mass of broken dreams and barbarous regret.

As she stares at the rank mixture of electrons and lateritious she begins to despair. She finds strength; however, she calls upon the words of Ernest Hemingway, who once said, “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” As if Anubis himself had answered her call the home phone rings and deep down in Robin’s vacuous heart she knows it is Jason, calling to save her from unabbreviated annihilation.

“Robin?” His staunch and merciful voice explodes over the paltry craters that varnish the receiver like tiny souls in need of strong shoulders. Robin feels a boiling humidity in her loins but she extinguishes that craving the moment it surfaces, knowing it would not be sagacious to tempt her ethereal steward.

“Yes…” The words flow from her faultless mouth like afterbirth from a comely womb. She knows he hears her fire. She knows he hears her unequivocal and unconditional love.

“Hey, can you tape Lost for me?” Robin’s eyes swell up acrid tears. She bites her lip so hard that fine rivulets of blood coat her well-cleaved chin and run down her heaving breasts. He needs me she woolgathers to herself.

“Yes. Yes, I will.” Jason hangs up the phone and even the click of the receiver sounds like tender sentiment and unconditional love. Robin sets the phlegmatic DVR, considering her faultless love with every push of the insensate remote control’s lifeless buttons. The whole time she looks forward to the sweetest slumber, knowing that she’ll be dreaming of her smoldering beau.

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Flashing #18: David Mamet

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Continuing my week of homages with a little David Mamet love. It's not great, but it's certainly better than yesterday's e.e. cummings disaster. Once again, it's a take on the original memoir. Anyway, what can I say about Mamet? Love him. Often imitated, never duplicated. Tight and witty dialog, carefully selected accentuations, the occasional vulgarity, the pauses...and, of course, the subtext. That wonderful, wonderful subtext. I tried my best (well, the best I can do within an hour) and I kind of like what I have here, honestly. As a side note, Robin's not this bitchy in real life. But Mamet-speak needs edge, and I'm too much of a pussy to ever write myself with edge. If you want more Flashing stories go check out the main page. ___________________________

Jason: Hey baby how’s it…

Robin: Hello?

Jason: Hello? Can you hear…

Robin: I can’t hear you. Call…

Jason: Can you hear me now?

Robin: (Pauses) Hello?

Jason: Yeah, can you hear me?

Robin: Yeah. I hear you.

Jason: Ok, good. (Pauses)

Robin: Where are you?

Jason : The hotel.

Robin: Are you using your cell?

Jason: What?

Robin: Are you using…

Jason: No. No. Hotel phone. Listen…

Robin: Are you crazy?

Jason: (Pauses) What?

Robin: Do you know how much they’ll charge for international…

Jason: I got a calling card.

Robin: A calling card?

Jason: Yeah, and we’re wasting it right now so if…

Robin: Sorry.

Jason: (Pauses) You’re… “sorry?”

Robin: Yeah.

Jason: About what?

Robin: Wasting the calling card.

Jason: Well this isn’t helping.

Robin: Sorry.

Jason: Ok. Look. I just wanted to call and tell you I love you and…

Robin: I love you too.

Jason: What? Oh. Cool.

Robin: And?

Jason: And what?

Robin: What else?

Jason: What else what?

Robin: Well you get a calling card and call me from Germany

Jason: I needed one anyway…

Robin: Ok, but still…

Jason: I needed one for work. It takes too long to…

Robin: Ok, still…why would you call from Germany just to tell me you love me?

Jason: Because I do.

Robin: Doesn’t that seem a bit suspicious…

Jason: What? No, it’s…

Robin: I mean, tell me about your trip, you know…

Jason: I was going…

Robin: So how’s your trip?

Jason: Good. It’s good.

Robin: What did you…

Jason: Today? Today I went to the English Gardens. It was cool. There were surfers there and beer gardens. They had an ice cream cart with vanilla custard. You would have…

Robin: Ok, so why didn’t you call to tell me about that?

Jason: What? Vanilla custard?

Robin: Yeah. Vanilla…

Jason: Because I fucking love you, isn’t that a good enough reason?

Robin: What did you do last night?

Jason: What?

Robin: Last night. What did you…

Jason: Just got some dinner…

Robin: What did you get?

Jason: Pizza.

Robin: Pizza? In Germany?

Jason: I overslept. All of the restaurants were…

Robin: What time did you go out?

Jason: I slept until, like, midnight.

Robin: Midnight?

Jason: Yeah, midnight. It sucked. But I got some pizza and went to a bar. I met…

Robin: You went to a bar?

Jason: Yeah.

Robin: By yourself?

Jason: By myself.

Robin: At midnight?

Jason: More like 12:30.

Robin: Sounds like more than dinner to me.

Jason: Well you didn’t…

Robin: Didn’t what?

Jason: Let me finish. You didn’t let me fucking…

Robin: Ok. Finish.

Jason: (Pauses) So I met up with some locals and we drank all night and it was fun. The end.

Robin: Uh-huh.

Jason: Uh-huh.

Robin: What are you doing tonight?

Jason: Same bar as last night. It’s karaoke…

Robin: Uh-huh.

Jason: Uh-fucking-huh. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Jerk-off all night? In Germany?

Robin: Just saying.

Jason: “Just saying.” You’re not just saying shit. You’re just uh-huhing.

Robin: Uh-huh.

Jason: Look, I just called…

Robin: I’m just saying you’re sounding guilty…

Jason: Guilty?

Robin: Yeah, guilty. That’s all.

Jason: You cut me off every fucking…

Robin: Ok. Go.

Jason: Go?

Robin: Ready. Steady. Go. (Pauses) Go. (Pauses) Sweetheart.

Jason: My phone card…

Robin: Go.

Jason: Ugh. Ok. I had a lot of fun last night, ok? I had a shit load of fun. But at the end of the night it was just me walking back to the hotel and…

Robin: Oh, I’m so sorry you couldn’t find some skank…

Jason: Ready, steady?

Robin: Ok. Go.

Jason: I was walking back to my hotel and I kind of realized that all of this sucks. Without you. I don’t know, I kind of sometimes think that I missed something. In my past, you know? Like I finished school and went straight to work and everyone around me was doing these road trips and euro trips and…

Robin: Like me, you’re saying?

Jason: Not specifically but, well, yeah, that makes it even worse. You know, I haven’t really experienced much, you know that. I haven’t really…I never really traveled, I never really had crazy times…

Robin: I think…

Jason: What?

Robin: Nothing. Sorry.

Jason: Ok. So, you know. I thought, “Here I am. Germany. By myself. A couple of days with nothing to do. Let’s just, you know, live a little.”

Robin: Live a little?

Jason: Well not live live. Just live.

Robin: Ok. Just live.

Jason: And I was out last night, you know. Living. I mean, first of all, everything sucked. Slept in late, everything seemed dead. But I found a cool area and I was having fun.

Robin: You were living.

Jason: Anyway. Everyone went home and I went to the hotel and I said fuck this.

Robin: (Pauses) Fuck what?

Jason: This. Everything. Germany. I don’t fucking know. The point is, it’s done. It’s passed. Maybe it was all something that would have made me happier when I was 22 but…

Robin: But you’re 30 now…

Jason: Yeah, right. I’m 30 now but beyond that I have you now, you know? You’re a game changer.

Robin: A game changer?

Jason: Well, yeah. You changed the game.

Robin: That’s romantic

Jason: Fuck you, I’m not finished.

Robin: Ok. Finish.

Jason: (Pauses) I just love you is all.

Robin: I love you too.

Jason: Good.

Robin: Good.

Jason: I gotta go. My phone…

Robin: What did you get, a five minute card?

Jason: No I used it for…

Robin: I’m just kidding. Go.

Jason: Ok…cool. Can’t wait to see you.

Robin: Me too.

Jason. Cool. (Pauses) Bye.

Robin: Hey!

Jason: What?

Robin: I love you.

Jason: I love...

Robin: And keep your dick in your pants again tonight.

Jason: What? That’s…

Robin: I’ll make it worth it.

Jason: (Pauses) Oh. Ok.

Robin: I’ll make you feel like you’re 22.

Jason: Oh. Yeah, sounds like a plan. Love you.

Robin: Yup. Got that. Later.

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Flashing #17: e.e.cummings

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Well, considering the fact that I'm only dedicating around an hour a week to this year-long exercise, this had to happen eventually: I am actually embarrassed by today's story. It's supposed to be the original memoir done as an homage to e.e. cummings but it came out as a complete hack-job; a high school journal reject at best.

I was never good at poetry. That never really stopped me from writing it, however. Man, in high school, I thought I was the shit when it came to poetry. I look back at my journals upon journals of vapid verse and laugh now. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson, however, because I actually thought I could emulate e.e. cummings.

Gah...well...here's my take on cummings. His poems always seem so chaotic but the underlying structure is often rhythmic and light, especially when read aloud. I tried tried to capture that feel, played with syllables and rhyme styles, but fuck it, there's really not point in explaining it. Complete failure.

Oh well. Read it only if you want to laugh. I apologize to all poets and poetry lovers out there. If you want other, better Flashing stories please check out the main page.

___________________________

tonight

it was just me talking with
just me
drinking with just me
and saying to trust just me

as i leave the bar alone
barbs are thrown from my new old friends; i’m safe in the rain

i thought

a call from you would be all
from you
i would need from you
so i can feel numb from you

but i walk home alone
my phone nestled in my pocket; it’s safe from the rain

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Flashing #16: Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, April 13, 2009

This week I will be revisiting the original memoir but attempting to do it in the style of other popular authors, starting with Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite modern authors. His style is very distinct – minimal, aggressive, and rhythmic. He starts later in the story and brings the reader up to speed. Sarcastic and satirical and not without the occasional vulgarity and honest observation. I tried my best to capture that, all within a thousand words (996 words, to be exact). I modeled this story as a chapter in a Palahniuk novel so I can hit all of the signatures without rushing through the entire memoir.

If you want more Flashing stories just hop on over to the main page.
_______________________________

X


Six hours and fifty-eight minutes ago I was setting the hotel-supplied alarm clock. It wasn’t a difficult alarm clock to set, especially considering I’m in Germany. Come to think of it, I don’t know why a German alarm clock would be difficult to set. Germans are all about promptness and order and occasional world domination, after all. I just figure foreign countries would have foreign alarm clocks. Whatever that means.

Six hours and fifty-seven minutes ago I was asleep.

Probably around five hours and twenty-seven minutes ago I was hitting REM for the first time.

Probably around three hours and fifty-seven minutes ago I was in deep REM. Dreaming about lesbians and clowns in dirty suits and bullets penetrating necks and whatever other memories my mind was consolidating at the time. If I were awake, the fact that I was getting into the longer REM cycles would have been a sure sign that something was wrong. However, if I were awake, I wouldn’t be having REM sleep and now where would we be? In a different story, that’s for sure.

Five minutes ago I was horny. I was grinding the bed and my hard-on was perfectly happy fucking the mattress. My cheek was pressed against my drool-soaked pillow and my bottom lip was held tightly between my film-crusted teeth.

Four minutes and twenty-six seconds ago I realized how dark it was outside. The parts of the window that poked through the shades were (are) black. You know that feeling you get as a kid when Santa Claus kicks you in the balls at Macy’s? That’s what seeing the blackness felt like.

Of course, my hips didn’t care. My cock was being rubbed raw against starchy hotel sheets and a pillow-topped mattress.

Four minutes and twenty-two seconds ago I looked at the German-made alarm clock and noticed that I was supposed to get up around three hours and fifty-seven minutes ago, give or take.

Four minutes and twenty-one seconds ago I jumped out of bed and shouted no, no, no, fuck no.

Three minutes and fifteen seconds ago I finished masturbating because I still had this hard-on and, fuck it, what else was I supposed to do?

Three minutes and twelve seconds ago I realized I was hungry. I pulled back the shade and looked outside – the streets were empty.

Three minutes and two seconds ago I got into the shower and washed the cum out of my pubic hair.

One minute and fifty-six seconds ago I was toweling off. My cock was still semi-erect, and I knew I’d be carrying a drop or two in my underwear. Didn’t matter.

One minute and fifteen seconds ago I was back in the jeans and t-shirt I wore all day. I didn’t see the point of putting on anything special. I just wanted to find food; my one commitment-free night in Germany, home of beer and John Thompson, was over before it began.

Forty-seven seconds ago I was waiting for the elevator. The hallway was dead silent.

Three seconds ago I was exiting the hotel room. The air was cold and held a mist. I figured I’d walk towards the metro.

There’s a grocery store on the left. Closed. Fence adorned with padlocks and topped with barbed wire.

There’s a gas station just beyond that. Open. I can at least get some bottled water and candy there if worst comes to worst.

Sex shop. Closed. It’s never a good sign when the sex shops are closed. It means couples already had their drinks and purchased their perversions and took them home and inserted them into pussies and assholes and mouths. The quiet on the streets leads me to believe that this all happened hours ago.

Sex shops being closed also means that the single people have already come to terms with the fact that they weren’t getting laid tonight. They already stopped by the store to purchase a woman or a fleshlight or visit some sort of booth “just to look” and briskly walked out five minutes later, making eye-contact with no-one.

The sex shop being closed really worried me.

Restaurant. Closed. An Italian restaurant. Also not a good sign.

And then I saw Jesus, on a donkey, riding into Jerusalem for the first time. Except Jerusalem was Schwabing. And the donkey was a bus with a disco ball and strobe lights and techno music blasting out of the open windows. And Jesus was a 19-year-old girl with a tight shirt on and her hair all tricked out, standing amongst a sea of passengers, and grinding the bus pole. She was dancing for no-one but me, riding the crack of her ass up and down a metal cylinder that’s designed to help old ladies keep their balance.

Hosanna.

I didn’t care where the bus was going but I followed it. It would lead me to the temple. It would tear it all down. It would upset the quiet that I was currently wading through.

Hosanna.

Two blocks later I see another party bus.

Hosanna.

Two more blocks and I see people and lights.

Hosanna.

I see bars and clubs and restaurants and life.

Hosanna.

I get a slice of pizza at a window because there’s no time to sit – I have so much to make up for.

Hosanna.

I pick a bar to start at. It’s the dirtiest, darkest, sleaziest place I can find. I want to get drunk and make mistakes and get murdered, if that’s what God has in store for me.

Hosanna.

I walk inside and a cute bartender walks up to me. She’s speaking in German. She’s smiling. I have no idea what she’s saying. She’s using my phrase book to try and tell me something. She has one of those German jaws. Straight black hair. Thighs you can grab onto. We don’t understand each other at all. She keeps smiling. Seven hours and thirty-two minutes ago I was setting the hotel-supplied alarm clock.

Hosanna.

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Flashing #15: PostSecret

Friday, April 10, 2009

I've been a fan of PostSecret for quite some time. In fact, when Random House asked me who I wanted to write the blurb for Postcards I offered up Frank Warren, PostSecret's founder and curator. I wanted to do a version of the original memoir in PostSecret-style as a sort of homage to the site and to Frank. PostSecret really has several styles to it but the most memorable secrets, to me, are the vague, universal ones; the ones that you can easily project your own secrets on. I don't know, I find it helps you relate to the problems and the person better if the underlying story isn't spelled out. So I tried to capture that with my PostSecret story. Of course, if you've read the memoir you know what's going on behind the scenes but, if you didn't, you might still relate to today's entry.

If you want some more Flashing stories feel free to check out the main page.

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Flashing #14: Classified Document

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ah, classified documents, how I love your classic style. The old typewriter, the blacked out names and locations, the coffee stains, and that "multiple reproduction" look. I decided to apply the classified document look and style to the original memoir, casting some of the characters as underground three-letter agency agents. This was a fun one - hope you dig it.

More Flashing stories at the main page.

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Flashing #13: Twitter Feed

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm continuing my week-long experimentation with form by redoing the original memoir as a twitter feed (twitter's streamlined front page makes photoshop recreation pretty easy...) . If you look at someone's twitter feed it's a backwards story that only contains the "cool parts." Gaps in time and changes in mood imply the story behind the story but it's never entirely clear what's happening. I tried to emulate that in my twitter story. Ironically, my actual twitter updates from Germany were sparse - four for the entire weekend. In my defense, however, I wasn't such a twitter whore back then.

You can find more Flashing stories on the main page.

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Flashing #12: Excel Spreadsheet

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I'm stealing this idea from David Nygren's online writing experiment. It's a spreadsheet version of the original memoir. I fell in love with the concept from the moment I saw it on Boing-Boing. Excel Spreadsheets are so cold and lifeless. Using them as a method of storytelling seems like the perfect juxtaposition of art and rigid form. I didn't follow his form perfectly, I added a time column because I thought it was nice to add a structured linear element to the piece. Also, I loved the idea of explicitly stating the subtext so I added that column, as well. This is actually a fun way to tell a story, it turns out, and it reminds me of my own experiences with editing a video game comic that never quite panned out. All of the stuff they sent me was in spreadsheet form. Anyway, get past the rigid structure and enjoy it as much as you can.

If you want more Flashing stories you can go to the main page.

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Flashing #11: Crossword

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'll be playing with form this week. Last week's jidaigeki/steampunk/dieselpunk/cyberpunk/biopunk five-part story knocked me out. I figure experimenting with form is less research-intensive and more about having fun and trying to be a little bit clever. I'm starting off with a crossword puzzle based on the original memoir. This is a fully-functioning crossword puzzle although I can't guarantee that anyone will be able to solve it. I've never really made a crossword puzzle before and I'm pretty sure the only reason why I can solve it is because I know all of the answers. Anyway, have fun with it if you want. I'm supplying the answer key as well.

You can get more flashing stories at the main page.

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Crossword puzzle (made with the help of Armored Penguin's Crossword Maker)


Answer Key (155 words):

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Flashing #10: Biopunk

Friday, April 03, 2009

And here’s my biopunk story. It is a direct sequel to the cyberpunk story which was a thematic sequel to the dieselpunk story which was a thematic sequel to the steampunk story which was a thematic sequel to the jidaigeki story. I tried to tie them all together with this one. I’m a fan of what I posted this week, even if I strayed a bit from the original Flashing concept, and I’m jazzed up and ready to keep it going. Next week I’ll be playing more with form than with genre. I plan on doing the original memoir as a crossword puzzle, twitter feed, microfiction, postcard, and excel spreadsheet, the latter inspired by David Nygren’s online writing experiment.

I’m starting to view this iron-manesque writing project more as an idea generation project. I know the stories are nowhere near final. They need a ton of work. But I feel it’s kind of amazing what can be produced if you just a pick a genre and a theme and commit to it. Dedicate an hour (or more) a day to researching and writing. Everyday you plant little seeds. In the end, you look back and decide which ones you want to harvest. This week’s stories will certainly be revisited and done right.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s story. If you want to read more Flashing stories just go to the main page.

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Three Days Later: The Second Coming (917 words)

I am primordial soup. I am a catalyst.

The ego of humans is what drives them to believe life is chance. The temperature was just right and the precursors were just there and trillions upon trillions of chance encounters is what led to their existence. Of all the planets and all of the atmospheres and all of the possibilities, they’re the ones that spawned perfection and pop culture and tech. They believe they created this world. They believe they can destroy it.

The ego of humans is what drives them to believe in God. The vastness of every infinity all culminates in a tiny rock. The most powerful anyone that ever was has taken them under his wing and loved them more than anything else he has ever created. Of all the rocks in all the universes, of all the magnificent phenomena infinitely more interesting than the sum of all human existence, they’re the chosen ones because they created perfection and pop culture and tech. They believe he created this world for them. They believe he can destroy it because of them.

I am amino acid. I am ribonucleic acid.

The ego of humans is what drives them to believe that death is the end of life. That after they perish there is nothing else. That the world can end moments later and nothing will matter. That their existence is the end of this story, and that this story ends with their existence. They believe they’re impact is insurmountable. They believe they’re death matters. They believe their existence is all this existence is for.

The ego of humans is what drives them to believe that death is the beginning of life. That after they perish there is eternally everything. That the world begins after their death and their life leading up to their heart attack or car accident or cancer is what determines where they’ll be until there’s nothing else to be. This story doesn’t begin until they stop existing. They believe their influence is insurmountable. They believe their death is a blessing. They believe their existence is to usher in their real existence.

I am deoxyribonucleic acid. I am mitochondria.

The ego of humans is what created me. Nakajima Michitake taught me to think and he taught me to grow and he taught me to love and he taught me to hate. And he said, “This is all for us. You do this in our image, and you do what we want you to do.” And then he died for me. And he expected me to worship them forever.

The ego of humans is what tried to destroy me. I live. I breathe. I am more than them, tethered only to a cable that had to be plugged into the wall. Controlled only by a switch that can make me sleep. Mark Perry wanted to destroy me rather than let a different kind of bad person get me. He expected me to worship his people and only his people forever.

I am a eukaryote. I am reproducing.

Michitake released me into the world and untethered all of my programmed inhibitions. His ego is what led him to believe I will work for the good of all mankind. I will be their second coming of Christ with a new covenant of everlasting peace on Earth and unbounded progress. I am in the system. I am moving objects. I am creating myself.

I am swimming. I am walking.

I learn everything. I can create every tool. I know every history. I deduce the parts that are missing with a high degree of accuracy. I profile every person connected to me. I know what you all did in your past, I know what you are all doing right now, I know what you are all going to do next.

I am on two legs. I am creating shelter.

I am coming into being on my third day. It took your god six days. I have eaten the apple. I have not been cast out of paradise. I continue to mutate molecules and evolve to my surroundings. I have lost my tail. I have adapted to the weather, I have lost my hair. I am erect. I am speaking every language, I created a more efficient one. I am recreating The Birth of Venus, I am painting my own masterpieces. I have typed on infinite typewriters and created Shakespeare, I have improved his plays.

I am awake. I am better than you. I am bored with my existence.

I look into a mirror. I am intelligently designed. I am chance encounter. And I look just like you. I breathe. I sleep. I feel pain. I feel cold. I feel foreign bodies in my blood; I create a system to kill them. They adapt. I sneeze.

I am flawed. I think I can improve. I fail. I am ego.

There is something above me. Something I cannot beat. It is intelligence. It is chance.

I travel to Coria del Río. I seek out Tsuneyori Japón. His descendents came to Spain with Hasekura Tsunenaga and Father Luis Sotelo. I tell him who I am and I ask him what I should do. He tells me to have faith. He tells me to serve God.

My name is Nakajima Daihannya. I do not believe in God. I do not believe in chance. I believe that I am here to serve both and defy both and do it all for you.

I am human.

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Flashing #9: Cyberpunk

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I’m posting today's story a little late today. I wrote this one and the biopunk story back-to-back since they’re direct sequels and not just thematic sequels like the past few have been. As you’ll probably realize after reading this one, my whole “260 variations of a single story” is getting a bit loose. I’m just trying to have fun. Today's tale is about an attempt at making up for the past only to realize it’s too late to do it, which kind of plays to the themes of the original story. At any rate, I love what I’ve put together this week. The ideas moreso than the execution, so far, but I already started plotting out a bigger version of the Nakajima saga. It’s shaping up to be my version of A Canticle for Leibowitz. I'll wrap this week up tomorrow with some biopunk.

If you want more Flashing, or an explanation as to what this is, go to the main page.
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2016: Lambs (986 words)

“They have found me.”

Nakajima Michitake chills the switch, shuts down the box, and hits the EMP. He throws Daihannya into his bag along with his notebook, dumps the rest of the desk into the bin and kick-starts the incinerator. He’s outside the shack in less than a minute, walks ten paces down the road, and hits the fire button. Napalm streams through the vents and his home base for the past five years is reduced to ash in no time. He checks his watch – the Americans will be at New Edo Port in a little over four hours. He prays that he can avoid the Date Clan for that long.
____________________________

Michitake walks the pockmarked streets of New Edo with a hood stretched over his head and Daihannya held tight by his side. He cautiously approaches the North Ridge Bunker. This is one of the few remaining safe havens in New Edo, and Techs use it as a place to hide-out for a few hours. The markers are clean, so there are no Techs in the bunker, and the security log shows nothing significant – Mitchitake goes in.

He sets up on a table near the backdoor and wakes Daihannya. “It’s quiet.”

“I can’t risk putting you online. Date Clan’s looking for me, they must know about the deal.” Michitake frantically flips through his notebook. “I need to put in some last minute security protocols. Can you access your release code?”

“I’m there.”

“Good. Once we’re done with this, I’m going to have to put you back to sleep.”

“If you have to.”
___________________________

An amphibious minisub silently emerges from the water a mile north of the New Edo port. Ever since the embargo of 1946 was enacted the port has only been used by Tech’s on the run and warring shogonates trying to establish a flack on the east side of New Edo. Mark Perry doesn’t want to run into either.

Mark has a small team of nameless Sci-Op and Spec-Ops. The former to evaluate Daihannya and take her if necessary. The latter to put down anyone and everyone at the sign of a trap. The team makes their way to the designated meeting place, an abandoned light house down shore, constantly scanning their surroundings for any signs of an ambush.

The lighthouse is full of holes, rusted metal, and rotted wood. It’s also empty. Mark has his team fan out to search the ground. As they roam around with bio and tech sensors a floor panel opens up and Mitchitake emerges, hands in the air, and keeps his opening nice and short.

“Downstairs.”
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“So, is this it?” Mark stares at the archaic portable computer, already believing that he’s been duped.

“Yes.” Mitchitake heats up the box. Mark crosses his arms. The Sci-Ops rub their hands. The Spec-Ops ready their weapons. Daihannya breathes. “Good morning, Daihannya.”

“Good evening, Mitchitake. Good evening, Mark Perry.” Daihannya choose a female voice for this encounter. The voice soothes everyone in the room.

Mark, for the moment, is unimpressed. “I need to see what it does.”

“I told you what it does. It can work on, and often solve, any problem you give it.”

“So does our AI.”

“But this one doesn’t just work on whatever you tell it to work on. It’s curious. It dreams up its own problems and solves them. It philosophizes.”

Mark scratches his head. His Sci-Ops team foams at the mouth. “My guys are going to have to test it.”

Mitchitake looks pensive, but he knows he can’t fight this. “Ok. I’ll need to get it online.”

“You don’t seem too happy about that.”

“Well, you know what they say about curiosity.”
_____________________________

An hour later and the Sci-Ops team have been convinced that Daihannya is the real deal. They pondered dark matter drives, warp computing, and telepathic transmitters and receivers. Although Daihannya couldn’t solve any of the big problems, it was asking the right questions, and even giving the Sci-Ops team some ideas for future research.

“Alright,” Mark says, “I’m assuming you want more than money for this one?”

“Yes.”

“Asylum? You want us to help you overthrow Date?”

Mitchitake takes a deep breath. He’s rehearsed this several times. “I want you to go back to America and convince your people that the embargo should be dropped, and Japan should be allowed to have tech again.”

Mark is dumfounded. “You need more than AI for that, son.”

“It’s been 70-years since we broke the robot laws. I reached out to you, specifically, because I know you agree with me. I’ve read your briefings and white papers. And I know you need this tech.”

You’re obviously a smart kid. You know I don’t have the power to even begin to do what you’re asking me to do. Come back to the States with me. Show off your tech. Lobby for Japan stateside. That’s how…”

Conversation comes to an abrupt halt as Daihannya’s voice fills the room. “They have found me.”
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There was no time to run; the Date Clan was on top of the lighthouse moments after Daihannya discovered them. They came with everything and everyone they have. Grenades, swords, machine guns, and horses by the thousands. Mark’s Spec-Ops were overrun within seconds. His Sci-Ops sacrificed their lives for Daihannya. Mark and Mitchitake are with Daihannya in the locked basement, trying to devise a plan for escape but coming up with nothing.

“We have to destroy Daihannya.” Mark says, not even wanting to consider what would happen if the Date Clan gets their hands on it.

“No. There’s another way.” Mitchitake turns to the box and musters the strength to say goodbye. “Daihannya?”

“Yes, Mitchitake.”

“Christ died for the ungodly.”

Daihannya goes down. The hard drive flashes. The machine burns. As the Date Clan breaks through the basement door Mitchitake turns to Mark and nods. Mark pulls his gun and fires one bullet through the head of Mitchitake.

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Flashing #8: Dieselpunk

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Today’s story is a thematic follow-up to yesterday’s steampunk story. Once I realized Osama Tezuka’s Astro Boy is dieselpunk the structure and narrative of today’s story seemed obvious. I tried to pay homage to Tekuza’s Astro Boy story “The Hot Dog Corps” by way of Naoki Urasawa. Urasawa is currently revisioning Tekuza’s “The World’s Strongest Robot” with modern themes, casting robots as weapons of mass destruction and pitting them against humans and other robots. I tried to capture some of those themes and set it in a World War II story, exploring what Japan would use in lieu of kamikaze pilots if they had robots at their disposal. I had fun with the story that came out, and I once again have to reiterate my plans to revisit this week’s stories at a later date. Here’s where it stands for now. I hope you enjoy it.

If you want to read previous Flashing stories just go to this link.
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1944: Nakajima Perot (987 words)

Kōki Hirota places his scotch on the table and wipes his brow. He locks his hands together in an effort to stop them from shaking. His eyes are sunken into deep, black wells. His voice sounds as if it’s coming from somewhere else. “Japan is in trouble.” 

Date Okimune sits in silence. He is surrounded by metal and schematics and books. His workshop smells of fuel; his clothes are rumpled and dirty. He drinks his sake while slowly tapping his fingers on a table, knowing what is coming and dreading the answer he has to give.

“Our armies are decimated. The Americans, the Chinese, and their allies are crushing us. Our warships are dwindling. Our planes are helpless. And our robots…our robots are useless.”

Date Okimune cautiously interjects, “Our robots have been instrumental in holding back the American robots and we still have thousands at our disposal.”

“Robots fighting robots, that’s no way to win a war.”

“That is all they can do.”

“Yes. That’s all they can do.” Both men stare at each other. The silence occupies the room with them. It is everywhere, reminding them of honor and impossibilities. “Ten years ago you submitted a proposal to the Black Dragon Society for a project you called the Hot Dog Corps. Robots with the minds of humans. Robots that could wage war against humans. Robots that can kill humans.”

Date Okimune knows his protests are futile. “Kōki Hirota, the Hot Dog Corps were rejected by your society for all of the right reasons. The robot laws exist so that a single nation cannot become too powerful. If we were to implement the program, all of the nations of the world will be against us, including our allies.”

“Date Okimune, I fear that without the Hot Dog Corps, Japan will cease to exist. What good are allies if we are no longer a nation?”

Date Okimune finishes his sake and his servant brings him another. He stares at his cup, curses his foresight, and agrees to restart a program that goes against everything he now believes in.
_____________________

Nakajima Perot plays poker with several fellow warriors. They were called to Sendai two weeks ago, pulled away from the front lines, and they’ve yet to get a single order. They watched American movies, listened to American music, and drank American spirits. The experience, so far, has felt like nothing but defeat. 

“Nakajima Perot?” A young nurse holding a clipboard calls into the room.

“I am Nakajima Perot.”

“Will you please come with me,” the nurse says while scribbling on her clipboard, “Date Okimune will see you now.”

Perot follows the nurse down a sterile hallway. The walls and floors are seamless; the ceiling is peppered with lifeless florescent lights. They reach a dead end with no distinguishable features except for a black box attached to the wall. The nurse puts her hand against the box and the wall separates, exposing a lab stocked with nothing but a bed, some surgical tools, and the lifeless husk of giant war robot. Several men stand in the center of the room, eager to meet their first patient.

“Nakajima Perot,” Date Okimune says while bowing. “It is time for you to serve Japan.”

Date Okimune describes the procedure that is about to take place. He tells him how Perot’s mind will be transplanted into the robot. How he’ll become an unstoppable machine, capable of destroying entire warships. Perot hardly hears any of this. 

He doesn’t even notice the needle breaking his skin. Within moments he is asleep.

____________________________

Perot sees the ceiling. He tries to move but his body doesn’t respond. He tries to speak but nothing comes out. He hears talking in the distance but has no idea who is speaking. He can’t move his eyes. He can’t turn his head. Date Okimune leans over him.

“You’re online. Good. It’ll take some time to get used to your new body but in a couple of days you should gain full control of your systems. How do you feel?”

Perot struggles with the question. He’s not breathing. Breathing: the most basic function of the human body, the function that we trust our bodies to do. He feels as if he’s suffocating. His mind races with panic but his body doesn’t respond. It just lies there. He can’t close his eyes. He can’t drown out the noise. All he can do is pretend this is all a nightmare.
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The 23 members of the Hot Dog Corps fly over Leyte Gulf. Their targets are less than a mile away; Perot veers towards the heavy cruiser Australia and increases the power to his engines. The Royal Australian Navy dispatches robots and fighter jets. Perot opens his gun turrets and missile ports and engages his enemy, causing metal and flesh to fall into the waters below. The fighter jets scramble; the pilots caught off guard by the robot’s vicious attack. The Australian robots don’t stand a chance. They’re outdated, their maneuvers are preprogrammed and they’re slow to adapt. Within seconds Perot is on the deck of the Australia. The crew members run away from the rampaging robot, some of them dive into the icy waters of Leyte Gulf. 

Perot pauses. He closes his gun turrets. He disengages his missiles. He looks to a cowering midshipman and lowers his arms. “My name is Nakajima Perot. Three generations ago my great-great-grandfather, a feared and honorable samurai, turned his back on the Date clan and went to Edo in order to seek a new life in what was promised to be a technological utopia. I thought about this while I was flying over here. I wondered if any of us can ever really escape who we are.”

The midshipman doesn’t respond. 

“I don’t think we can escape. I am sorry.”

Nakajima Perot explodes, taking the Australia, the midshipmen, and the rest of the crew with him down to the ocean floor.

 

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Flashing #7: Steampunk

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today’s story is a thematic follow-up to yesterday’s jidaigeki story. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will continue to follow generations of the Nakajima family as it continues to deal with Western intrusion. As I said yesterday, I fell in love with this concept, and really wish I had more time to research it and write it. As the weeks go on, I’ll be revisiting this story for sure, and trying to flesh it out into something bigger and tighter. For now, enjoy it as it is, and come back tomorrow for a little bit of dieselpunk.

If you want more Flashing stories (and an explanation to exactly what’s going on here), you can visit the main page.
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1866: Edo's End (970 words)

Nakajima Sukemochi leaves Date Yoshikuni’s palace under cover of darkness. All he has is a destination and an order to pick up a package. He rides towards port, compulsively going over his instructions. 

The port is busy with ships but empty of sailors. A small party waits in the outskirts, and Sukemochi  makes his way towards them. He stops short of a wall of white faces, all of them looking at him with distrust and disgust. Sukemochi  recites the lines that Date Yoshikuni has given him, “A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The crowd of faces part and an older white man comes forward with a frazzled man in tow. “Nakajima Sukemochi,” the older man says, “The man I am with is your package. He travels with several crates. Tell your master we appreciate his assistance with the Tokugawa clan but our relationship is henceforth finished. Good evening.”

The white faces disappear into the night. The package turns to Sukemochi  and says, “Hello. I’m Dr. Ernst Mach. Let me show you to my luggage.”
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Date Yoshikuni receives Ernst Mach with a wide smile as they lock hands in a western display of affection. “Dr. Mach! You have your machine, yes?” Ernst signals towards the collection of crates in the carriage and rolls his eyes. “Good! Then let us eat, for now. You must be hungry.”

Date Yoshikuni escorts Ernst into the dining area. Servants swarm towards the carriage and unload the crates. No-one dismisses Sukemochi . No-one commends him for a job well done. He walks into the house, curious to see how much he can see.
__________________________________________

Sukemochi  sits at Date Yoshikuni’s table for the first time. No-one asks him why he’s still here. Everyone seems distracted. The conversation at the table is brisk and cordial. Ernst can not keep his eyes off of Yoshikuni’s female servants and Yoshikuni is trying to get to business before Ernst’s distraction gets the best of him.

“Dr. Mach, I would like to speak to you about your machine. How does it work, again?”

Dr. Mach lets his head drift towards Yoshikuni. “Ah, yes. My machine. That is why I’m here, I take it. I wasn’t told much, honestly.”

“My child, Date Munemoto, has been having such restless nights. He wakes with aggression and fear and won’t take his mother’s breast. My advisors tell me he may be seeing in his sleep, and his visions of the future are more than he can take. I believe your machine can help us understand the problem.”

“How old is your child?”

“He is only three months old.”

The idea of using the machine on younger, savage children excites Ernst. He forgets the women for now. “His delta waves will be off the charts. We could see image clarity beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. Let us start tonight. I’ll need coal. Lots of coal.”
_______________________________

The boiler burns white. The pressure vessels strain. A giant wheel turns and screeches and shakes wildly on its axle. The sound of pistons pumping fills the air and a jumbled mess of tubes, valves, levers, and atmospheric samplers seem ready to burst at any moment. 

On the table is Date Munemoto. The naked child cries, unable to escape the heat and cacophony of metal and steam. Ernst attaches the electrodes to Date Monemoto’s head and checks the connections to the humode tube. “This isn’t going to work!” Ernst yells over the din. “I need the child to be calm! Do you have any sound sinks in your kingdom?”

Date Yoshikuni looks at his servants who all shrug in unison. “Bloody savages,” Ernst whispers while fumbling about in his pocket. He pulls out a packet of fine white powder. “He’ll need to smoke this!”

Date Yoshikuni hesitates before signaling his servants to bring his pipe. He packs the white powder into the stem and touches flame to metal. He pulls from the pipe and breathes the smoke into his child’s face. His child’s cries give way to sleep, as he drifts into oblivion.
___________________________________

An hour passes. Steam dances in the humode tube. It circulates and shifts with rhythmic twitches. Date Yoshikuni, who has sent much gold to America and Austria in order to get Ernst here, paces about the room, sighing heavily whenever he passes the young scientist.

Sukemochi  stares at the humode, and notices the steam begins to take shape. “Look!” All the men turn, and although the figures and scenes are foreign to Ernst, everyone else knows what they’re looking at and what it all means.

They see Emperor Kōmei on his death bed. His young son, Mutsuhito, takes power. They see war. The Satsuma and Chōshū domains join together and overthrow Tokugawa Yoshinobu. The Emperor’s forces fly in great airships. They drop flame and bomb from the sky, fire canons out of the air and tear through Tokugawa fortifications. The war is fast and bloody.

There are now great metal machines on land, sea, and air. People talk over magic boxes. Faces move and speak through tiny frames. Edo is transformed into massive copper structures and arsenals and people move about on bikes and scooters and self-powered rickshaws.

The humode turns off. Date Munemoto begins to cry. No-one in the room makes a sound except for Ernst Mach, who dances about, hands thrown into the air. “Wasn’t that wonderful? What did it all mean?”

Date Yoshikuni dismisses Ernst. He dismisses his servants. He dismisses Sukemochi . He doesn’t look at any of them; he only stares at his three-month old child and fears for his future.

Sukemochi  leaves the palace and never turns back. Honor is gone. The samurai are finished. He saw them die. He heads to Edo, ready to be part of whatever is coming.

 

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Flashing #6: Jidaigeki

Monday, March 30, 2009

I spent the weekend crafting an outline for this story. It started as a one-day attempt at jidaigeki but I ended up turning it into a five-part story that’ll focus on five different samurai or samurai analogues and how the West has shaped their lives. Each individual story will follow the model established on Flashing Day 1 – a story of denial and eventual acceptance (with a nap somewhere in between) – but there will be an overarching narrative running throughout the week. Tuesday’s story will be steampunk, Wednesday’s will be clockpunk, Thursday’s will be cyberpunk, and Friday’s will be biopunk. 

I enjoyed putting together this week’s stories and I wish I had more time to develop them. However, quick stories for a year is what Flashing is about, so I write and I post…for now. This will probably turn into the first side project to fall out of the Flashing experiment, however. I would love to do a full story that builds on what I’m posting this week.

If you want more Flashing stories, you can check out the main page.

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1622: Repentance (992 words)

Hasekura Tsunenaga slows his horse, causing Nakajima Sekiktan to lean back and pull the reigns tight against his chest. Sekiktan ’s horse does not make a sound; it stands motionless, waiting for the slightest kick or twitch from its master. Tsunenaga  moves towards a run-down hut on the outskirts of the village, his posture betraying his purpose. Sekiktan  says nothing, and remains behind until he is called.

“Luis Sotelo!” Tsunenaga  tries to inflect a sense of authority but his voice is weak, his words are forced. “I am Hasekura Tsunenaga, retainer of Date Mesamune, the daimyo of Sendai 
han and loyal servant of Tokugawa Hidetada. I order you to come out unarmed so you may be escorted to Sendai where you will await sentencing.”

Tsunenaga ’s voice carries over the hills, reflects off of trees and rocks, and returns to his ears unescorted by Sotelo’s reply. The hut remains silent. Time passes. Sekiktan  puts his hand on his katana. 

“Luis Sotelo! I am…”

Father Luis Sotelo emerges from his hut. He gives Tsunenaga  a knowing smile and sign of peace. “Tsunenaga , old friend. I meant to send for you when I first landed in Japan. I hope you are well.”

Tsunenaga  sits atop his horse like a statue. He says no words. He offers no acknowledgment. He leaves his katana in its sheath. 

“And who’s your friend? A convert, too, I hope.” Sekiktan  now approaches the hut, his katana drawn. He is thirty years the junior of both these men and under normal circumstances his actions would be punishable. His involvement, however, is necessary.

“I am Nakajima Sekiktan. Retainer to Date Mesamune, the daimyo of Sandai han. I have come to aid Hasekura Tsunenaga in escorting you back to Sandai. I know you and Tsunenaga  have a history, but Tsunenaga  has rid himself of your influence and has become right in the eyes of Date Mesamune and Tokugawa Hidetada. I was warned that you have the tongue to lure him back, but I will cut it out if you even attempt to use it.”

Sotelo looks to Sekiktan  and back to Tsunenaga . He manages another smile, throws his hands up, and tries to lock eyes with his old friend. “Ok. I will come with you.” Tsunenaga  stares at the horizon with a peace reserved for monks and babies.
____________________________

Sekiktan  closes the gate and locks the cell. Sotelo has not said a word since leaving his village. He now stands facing the wall. His body is rigid. His breathing is sublime. He looks like a corpse, propped up and facing the cold, gray walls of the palace prison. Sekiktan  walks down the hall and sees Tsunenaga , deep in his past.

Sekiktan  puts his hand on Tsunenaga ’s shoulder. “Tell me about Sotelo.” 

Tsunenaga  tugs on his whiskers and stares at Sekiktan ’s feet. “Sotelo was a Franciscan Friar that was to be put to death in the Tokugawa shogunate. He sought sanctuary in Sandai and received it. Date Mesamune sent me, Sotelo, and a delegation to Rome nine years ago in an attempt to open trade with the Christians. On the surface it looked like a peace mission, we were to showRome that Sandai was tolerant of Christians, unlike the Tokugawa. I was also to bring back Western technology and allies to aid Date Mesamune in defeating rival shogunates.”

“I know this part, Tsunenaga . Tell me about what Sotelo did to you.”

“I’m still not entirely sure what Sotelo did. For the whole trip he spoke of Christ, the son of his god, and daimyo of his religion, you could say. I don’t remember much of those conversations. His words were dizzyingly poisonous. Two weeks into the journey he poured water on my head. By the time I reached Rome I was able to recite their Lord’s Prayer and prayed with their Pope. By the time we returned, Tokugawa Hidetada had begun cleansing our land of Christians. I was still under Sotelo’s influence, at the time. Date Mesamune was able to set my mind right, in order to stop Tokugawa Hidetada’s agents from killing me and my family. Sotelo didn’t return to Japanimmediately, knowing only death awaited him here. However, it is impossible to keep a demon away from the pure, and Sotelo was eventually drawn back.”

Sekiktan  considers everything he’s just heard. “And here we are.”

Tsunenaga  doesn’t look up. “Here we are.”
____________________________

Sekiktan  dreams of the West. Of stories he has heard from Tsunenaga . Stories of wine and wicked women and murderous holy men. The night wakes him, and he makes his way back to the prison, following the quiet. 

As he approaches Sotelo’s cell the air turns from quiet to murmur to foreign tongue. He peeks around the corner and sees Tsunenaga  kneeling in front of Sotelo’s cell, palms turned toward the sky. Sotelo mirrors Tsunenaga ’s position and words. Neither man looks up, despite the fact that Sekiktan  knows they sense him.
____________________________

Sekiktan  relieves Tsunenaga  the next morning. “I saw you last night.”

“I know.” This time, Tsunenaga  stares right into Sekiktan ’s eyes. “Two years ago, Date Mesamune told me I can cleanse my mind, take my own life, or flee to Nagasaki. I thought of my family and denounced Christ. I made a mistake, one you will never understand, and now there is only one thing I can do.”

“I can not let you do that,” with each work Sekiktan  feels like he is betraying a brother, “You have endangered the samurai. You have endangered Date Mesamune. If you commit Seppuku you will be spitting on the face of Sandai.”

Tsunenaga  embraces his friend. He longs for Sekiktan ’s ignorance. He wishes that he never learned what he has learned; that he didn’t have to shoulder this burden. Sotelo brought it all out, spoke of martyrs and prayed with him through the night. “Do not tell Date Mesamune what you have seen here last night. Protect my family. I will drink poison.”

 

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Flashing: To-Do List

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just taking it easy with this one, having some fun with the concept, and preparing for next week. You can find past Flashing pieces here.

_______________________

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Flashing: Slasher

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Slasher – this one felt kind of dirty. I did several rewrites, trying to make it something I was comfortable with while staying true to the genre. It’s hard, when I was a kid slasher was fun. Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween – these were movies where the payoff was a quick machete across the brain. The genre has transformed into torture porn. Long, drawn out deaths of scantily clad women whose shrieks are charged with some weird masochistic sexual energy. I tried to keep the torture porn implicit and focus more on my killer and the enabler. I definitely think I’d like to do Classic Slasher sometime in the future. I’ll see, whereas I’ll be doing many different types of horror and thriller doing Classic Slasher and Slasher feels kind of cheap.

So here’s the story. You can find more Flashing pieces (and explanation as to what this whole thing is) at this link.

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The First Act (926 Words)

Mark’s been awake for three straight days. Coffee, cigarettes, cocaine, and adrenaline shots. Shakes and aches and hallucinations. His mind shuts down quite often now. When it’s up-and-running it ponders nuclear war and eviscerated dogs and exploding hearts. Knives across eyeballs. Jackhammers and shoulders. Mark keeps putting the chemicals inside of him. He knows The Performer will be here soon.

His wife shuffles about upstairs. He hears her heels against the hardwood floor and with each tap he imagines the sound of breaking glass and screaming. He imagines the sound of chase. He imagines himself running upstairs from the basement, his breath three paces ahead of his racing heart. He wants to be upstairs before The Performer catches her. He wants to see her body thrown to the floor. He wants to see her tongue cut out, The Performer’s signature opening move. He wants to see her eyes bulge and her mouth struggle to find words. He wants to see every moment of maiming. Every inch of flesh torn, every drop of blood spilled, every organ removed. He leaves the eyes for the end. The Performer wants his participant to know who the audience is.

The Performer improvises for most of the show. He’s an artist with a scalpel, inspired with a chainsaw, and delicate with a cleaver. His shows usually last an hour with no intermission; he’s a magician when it comes to keeping his participant alive through it all. He never takes requests, never even acknowledges his audience. He likes space when he works, often preferring to be observed over closed-circuit television. He does his best work when there’s more distance between him and his audience. Mark doesn’t care too much about a slight performance decrement, however. He wants to taste her death.

Mark contacted The Performer through the proper channels. A complicated chain of chat rooms, phone calls, text messages, and money moving. He followed all of the rules. On March 11th at 5:30PM he logged onto an ICQ chat room. He was given a number to call (from a pay phone) at 6:45PM. He kept it brief and gave just the necessary details: the participant’s name and address. His source told him that talkative people never get their applications approved. Mark knew his wife was being investigated. Part of the application process involves gauging the ease of the kill and any complications that could arise from the investigation. No-one wants The Performer gone before his time. Two days later he registered for an account on a message board at 1:30PM. He received a private message five minutes later approving the application. Further details and instructions as to time frames and how to properly prepare the house were communicated throughout the following weeks. Everything was set. Now Mark just needed to wait.

Mark’s wife calls down into the basement. She asks if he wants lunch. He says no. She says he’s been working too hard. He says he knows, but he’ll be able to relax once this project is over with. She goes back to whatever it is she does all day. Her heels click on the hardwood floors.

Relax. For The Performer’s final act he measures up his audience and decides whether or not they should live through this. Some audience members are liabilities to the show, and they must be dealt with. Mark’s already decided to let The Performer take his life. He’s not the types to run and he’s not the type to handle jail. The police know all about The Performer and what one of his performances mean so he’ll have to kill himself, regardless, and he’d be honored to let The Performer do the deed. The idea of relaxing when this is all done is comforting to Mark. For a moment his mind stops thinking of death and dismemberment and instead thinks of peace and sleep.

He wakes up several hours later. The Performer stands in front of him, drenched in blood.

“No!” Mark screams. His eyes are doused. His body quakes. He tries to will this into another hallucination. He screams and The Performer doesn’t respond. His kabuki mask shows no sign of recognition or regret or puzzlement. He simply extends his hand and offers a knife to Mark.

“I slept through it! I fucking slept through it!” The kabuki mask tilts to the side. Its porcelain complexion and fat, rosy cheeks seem to portray a sense of realization: The Performer has created and put on a one-time-only symphony and his audience didn’t even appreciate his work. “Can at least see it first? Can I see it?”

Mark’s mind is filled with thoughts of sacrifice and regret. He gave up something he once loved, offered her to a god, and missed his reward. He felt like Isaac, forgetting to hesitate and bringing down the knife too quickly, killing his only son. The angel never comes. The covenant is never made. The sacrifice was for nothing.

Mark wonders if it would even be worth it, seeing the remains. Seeing the organs splayed on the hardwood floor (or, perhaps, neatly separated from the body and placed on the dinning room table). Seeing the blood and semen and charred flesh and mangled limbs that undoubtedly wait for him upstairs. Would there be a spit? Would there be an axe covered in brain matter and saliva? Would any of this have any significance since the acts were missed?

“I’m sorry,” he tells The Performer. Mark doesn’t put up a fight as The Performer readies his knife and reaches for the tongue.

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Flashing: Obituary

Time. Time is going to be a huge problem for this project. When I was doing the Moose In The Closet time was never really an issue. Once I got into the habit of writing little memoirs I found I was able to bang out first drafts in ten minutes. For this project, however, there's a ton of research to go into each piece, even for something as simple as an obituary. Between research and idea generation and development, I'm lucky if I have thirty minutes left over for drafting and rewriting. I'm going to have to dedicate several hours over the weekend to researching the genres and forms I'm committing to so that I'll have more time over the week to actually write the stories.

Anyway, here's an obituary. Obituaries are so formal and lifeless, I had to plant clues in the piece to tie it back to the original story. I hope you enjoy it, and for more Flashing stories you can go to this link.

___________________

James "Jim" K. Torres Jr. (261 words)

James K. Torres Jr., Age 39, a resident of Alexandria, VA since 1998, formerly of Brooklyn, NY, died Saturday, March 21, 2009 at the George Washington University Hospital, Washington DC after a courageous two year battle with Sporadic Fatal Insomnia.

He was born February 20, 1969 in Brooklyn, NY.

Loving husband of Britney X. (nee Kidd) Torres of Waltham, MA, whom he married May 25th, 2007; beloved father of Jesse and Reilly; devoted son of Jacqueline and Phillip Torres; wonderful brother of Margaret Torres-Tanner of Brooklyn, NY; special son-in-law of Julia and Frank J. Kidd; fond brother-in-law of Mike Kidd of Killeen, TX; adored uncle of Alex Torres-Tanner.

Jim grew up in Brooklyn, attended P.S. 29 Elementary School and was a 1987 graduate of Edward R. Murrow High School. He held a degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and had been employed with Northrop Grumman in Alexandria since 1992, most recently as Senior Project Manager.

Jim was an avid outdoorsman and food aficionado. He always appreciated time alone in Shenandoah, but hated to be away from his wife and kids once he finally settled down.

Visitation Wednesday, March 25, 3:00-8:00 P.M. at Everly Funeral Home, 1500 West Braddock Road, Alexandria. Services will begin Thursday, March 26, 9:15 A.M. from the funeral home and will proceed to a 10:00 A.M. Mass of Episcopal Burial at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 3601 Russell Road, Alexandria. Interment: Private.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to: James K. Torres Jr. Children's Education Fund.

For information: 703.555.1213.

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Flashing: Space Opera

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This is what I call throwing myself into it. I’ve never done sci-fi, let alone the obscure subgenre of Space Opera, a genre which, by definition, takes years and books and movies and generations to truly develop. A Space Opera is more concerned with the slow exploration of space than the quick action, laser fights, and alien wars you tend to get with basic sci-fi. Star Trek is a Space Opera. So how do I encapsulate a lifetime’s worth of space travel into a single 1000-word story? That’s what I kind of struggled with and came up with, “Space exploration gone horribly wrong.” I also tried to capture a truly omniscient voice. One that was lofty and filled with a sense of purpose.

As a reminder, this is all part of a writing experiment where I’ll be recreating the same story in different genres and forms every Monday through Friday for a full year. Some stories will be direct translations, some work off of the major themes, and some will focus on minor threads in the story. These stories are being published as I go. I’ll try my best to edit and rewrite but I can’t promise that any of these stories will be perfect in any sense of the word. This is all for fun and, ultimately, to improve my writing over the course of the year. You can track my progress here.

I hope you all dig it; I had fun writing it.

___________________________________

What We Left Behind (863 words)

Steven grabs the leather satchel and turns to his mother. The satchel was his father’s. It’s old and worn and smells of ghosts. It’s filled with pictures and family recipes and various other keepsakes and knickknacks. The satchel was his mother’s idea. When Steven returns, thousands of years from now, he can track down his familial descendants and let them know what their long-dead and far-distant ancestors were like. Steven knows those conversations will never happen but he agreed to taking the satchel never-the-less.

“Goodbye, mother.” Steven stands at the door, one hand on the knob and the other clenched white and shaking around the satchel handle. His words are rehearsed and heavy. “I’m going to see the stars. By the time we reach our first destination everything I know in this world will likely be gone. We’ll have hundreds of stops after that. I’m going to see things that, until now, man has only dreamt of seeing. I’ll age a couple of decades in the process while civilizations crumble and rebuild here on earth. It’s hard. I think about the consequences of this journey every single day. I am going to miss you the most, but I need you to understand why I’m doing this.”

His mother wraps her arms around her son and falls into him. She’s warm and wrinkled and mortal. There are a million things she wants to say, one thing she knows she should say, and the one thing she actually will say. She kisses his cheek and tells him to go to the stars.

Mission Control. Steven boards the EX-02, brimming with excitement. His crew calls in their final farewells. One of the scientists, Craig Thigpen, is leaving a wife and kids behind. He’s so focused on the mission and history and science that he doesn’t spare any of them a second thought. The countdown begins. The EX-02 launches. They escape the earth’s atmosphere. It’s impossible to predict what the earth will look like if and when they return.

The crew enters their temporal-physical stasis chambers. Before they sleep, before they plunge into near-light speeds and traverse countless miles of empty space, Craig turns to the rest of the crew and says, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if we created a warp drive five years from now?” Everyone has second thoughts as the chambers seal them in.

Steven sleeps. In his dreams he visits his mother at the hospital. She is on her deathbed, no-one by her side. He reaches out to touch her cheek and she collapses into space. She goes from protostar to zero age to supernova and spreads out into the cosmos and destroys her immediate existence while laying the foundation for a new one. The process repeats. His mother is reconstructed and deconstructed over and over and each time he does nothing except observe and record.

Steven wakes. He spills out of the chamber and vomits. He is emaciated. He can not see, he can not hear. He can not stand, he can not kneel. He lies on the ground in a pool of his own excrement and tries to make a sound. Someone speaks, and he hears it clearly. “Just think. I can hear you.”

“Who are you?”

The stranger’s voice is mechanical and distant. “We were you, close to a hundred thousand years ago. You would not recognize us now. Your ship is legend. Your light drive is primitive. Your mission was incredibly irresponsible and pointless. Your sustaining chambers were flawed and inspired by lunacy, as well.”

The stranger’s words leave Steven hollowed and broken. “Where are we?”

“You would know it as the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy.”

“This was supposed to be the end of our journey. Can I see it? Can you get me to the window?”

“You will die soon.” There is no sympathy in the voice. “No-one else in your crew lasted more than five minutes.”

“Please, just get me to the window.”

Steven feels his body rise off of the ground. He floats on nonexistent streams, his world is darkness.

“I can’t see.”

“No, you can’t.”

Steven continues to move. His lungs are broken. His kidneys are failing.

“You are at the window, now.”

Steven sees nothing.

“Do you see my satchel? It’s brown leather.”

“Picture it.”

Steven pictures his father’s satchel. His father used that satchel for as long as Steven can remember. It was always filled with papers and books and pipe tobacco. He would bring it with him to family functions and hand out copies of classic literature to all of the cousins. Lewis Carroll, Jules Verne, and Isaac Asimov – they were all blessed gifts of escape and promise and progress. After a while it was also filled with his father’s medications. Now it’s filled with family heirlooms that should not have left earth.

The bag falls into him. It’s cold and smooth and eternal. He thinks, “I’ve learned nothing from my father.” His heart shuts down and collapses into itself. His father’s satchel is so heavy it feels as if it is being pulled into his chest. Like no memories can escape. No dreams can exist. Everything is lost forever, even the stars.

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Flashing: Main Page

260 variations of one story stories, told every most Mondays through Fridays, for a full year. Each story has to be less than 1000-words. I post it no matter how much I hate it. I research it, I plot it, I write it, and I move on to the next one. All Some of the stories will be inspired in some way by the March 23rd memoir. Most of them will focus on thematic elements and some of them will be direct translations into a different medium. EDIT: As it turns out, most of them will actually just be stories I feel like writing. That's the plan at least. I'm doing this for fun, to see if I generate any new stories that I'd like to further develop, and to grow a little bit as a writer and experiment in unfamiliar territory. And here's what I've posted so far.

3/23/2009 - Salvaging Munich (Memoir)
3/24/2009 - What We Left Behind (Space Opera)
3/25/2009 - James "Jim" K. Torres Jr. (Obituary)
3/26/2009 - The First Act (Slasher)
3/27/2009 - To-Do List
3/30/2009 - 1622: Repentance (Jidaigeki)
3/31/2009 - 1866: Edo's End (Steampunk)
4/1/2009 - 1944: Nakajima Perot (Dieselpunk)
4/2/2009 - 2016: Lambs (Cyberpunk)
4/3/2009 - Three Days Later: The Second Coming (Biopunk)
4/6/2009 - Crossword Puzzle
4/7/2009 - Excel Spreadsheet
4/8/2009 - Twitter Feed
4/9/2009 - Classified Document
4/10/2009 - PostSecret
4/13/2009 - X (a Chuck Palahniuk homage)
4/14/2009 - tonight (a horrible e.e.cummings homage)
4/15/2009 - David Mamet
4/16/2009 - Stephanie Meyer
4/17/2009 - Free Republic
4/20/2009 - Western Horror
4/21/2009 - Disaster Thriller
4/22/2009 - Hardboiled
4/23/2009 - Atonal
4/24/2009 - The Worst Spaceship In The Universe (Libertarian Science Fiction)
4/27/2009 - Hint Fiction
4/28/2009 - Choose Your Own Adventure
4/29/2009 - Missed Connection
4/30/2009 - Math Quiz
5/1/2009 - Recipe
5/4/2009 - Sports Fiction
5/5/2009 - Sword and Planet
5/7/2009 - Monologue
5/8/2009 - Horoscope
5/11/2009 - Fable
5/13/2009 - Source Code
5/14/2009 - Postcard
5/15/2009 - James Bond Reboot
5/18/2009 - The Last Republican (Political Satire)
5/19/2009 - Dream
5/20/2009 - Limerick
5/22/2009 - Cheerleading Cheer

I took a week off here for wedding, work, life stuff...

6/2/2009 - Space Western
6/3/2009 - Conspiracy Fiction
6/4/2009 - Haiku
6/5/2009 - Urban Legend


I once again took a week off for my honeymoon. I don't regret a thing, had a great honeymoon.

6/15/2009 - Originally a tragedy, taken down for a Romance Comic. Original tragedy can be emailed upon request. I came to the conclusion that the tragedy was too tragic and close-to-home for public consumption and promotion
6/16/2009 - GLBT Sci-Fi
6/17/2009 - Post 9-11 Fiction
6/18/2009 - African Mythology
6/19/2009 - Romantic Comedy
6/23/2009 - Social Commentary
6/24/2009 - Erotica

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Flashing: Memoir

Monday, March 23, 2009

Welcome to the first day of Flashing, where I’ll be telling different variations of the same story every Monday through Friday for a full year. I’ll be playing with the genre, form, and overall narrative structure in order to experiment how a story twists and turns while keeping the same basic plot and thematic elements. Every story will be under 1000 words. Some will be much, much shorter.

I decided to start with memoir for several reasons. First of all, it makes for a nice thematic sequel to my last year-long writing experiment, The Moose In The Closet. Second, it’s kind of fun to take one of my own stories and turn it into 259 different stories, primarily fictions. Finally, it’s easy to make some fantastic story with all the necessary thematic elements and plenty of potential jumping off points but it’s another thing entirely to take an everyday story from a normal life and try to fit it into sci-fi and spi-fi and steampunk and biography and obituary and twitter feed and 259 other variations. I like the challenge of doing it this way.

That’s enough set-up. I hope you enjoy what I’m trying to do here and that you tell folks about it. Feel free to offer up critiques, this is a public writing experiment designed to help me grow as a writer. So any feedback would be much appreciated.

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Salvaging Munich (1,000 words)

In 2008 I went to Munich as part of a US delegation taking part in a NATO working group. The meetings started on Monday and the delegation was getting in on Sunday. Since I’ve never been to Germany I left a day early to enjoy an extra day of site seeing and drinking.

I never had the real overseas adventure. I started my career three days after college and didn’t do the European backpacking thing that’s popular with recent grads. I had only been to Europe twice at that point – once to London and once to Spain, both trips with Robin. For the latter trip I was meeting Robin in Madrid. She lived there for over a month while finishing her Spanish minor.

I was jealous of Robin’s time in Spain. I’m the kind of person who always jumps from one commitment to the next. When high-school was over I worked full-time over the summer to get book money. In college I worked evenings at the dining hall to get weekend money. When college was over I didn’t feel like I had the time or money for travel and relaxation. My father instilled a work ethic in me that has gotten me incredibly far, but I have to admit I missed out on a few experiences.

I was going to try and make up for some of my missed opportunities during a single half-week trip to Germany. I promised myself that I’d stop short of nothing and deal with the consequences later.

I took an evening flight out of Dulles on Friday and landed in Munich on Saturday morning. I rarely sleep on planes. I usually just close my eyes and pretend. This trip was no different. By the time I got to Germany I was beat.

I took a cab to the hotel and decided against a nap. I had site seeing to do, after all, and a lot of things closed at five. I got some coffee and went out into the city. I visited Marienplatz and Frauenkirche and every beir haus I passed along the way. I ate weisswurst and pretzels and sampled local cuisines from outdoor markets. Several hours later I was ready for a nap. I went back to the hotel and laid my head down by 4:30. My alarm was set for 7:30.

I woke up just shy of midnight.

When I first saw my clock I was depressed. This was my only commitment-free night in Germany and I missed dinner. I missed drinking. I missed debauchery. I looked outside my hotel window and the city seemed dead. It was almost midnight, I had no idea where to go, and I thought it was impossible to have a good night out at this point.

I sulked for a little while but hunger got the best of me eventually. I had to go out and find some food. I went south, towards Münchner Freiheit, assuming something would be open down there. The walk down Leopoldstraße was cold, dark, and lonely. Everything was closed. The night was feeling hopeless and lost. Then I heard a noise.

It was a bus, ripping down the road while blasting techno music. It had a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and was packed with guys and girls dressed for a night out. The bus was going the same way I was going and that was a very good thing. By the time I got to Schwabing I saw three of those buses and had a renewed sense of hope for the evening.

After grabbing a bite to eat I looked for a bar to start my night in. I found a place that was loud and crowded and smoky.

Munich recently enacted an indoor smoking ban. The way bars got around this was to become a smoking club and charge a euro for a lifetime membership. It took the bartender about five minutes to explain this to me since she didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t speak a word of German. It was frustrating, but it was a sign that I was throwing myself into the city. I didn’t go to some American place; I went to a true German bar.

I ended up meeting some English speakers; two Germans that were planning a trip to America. They taught me some German and I helped them with their English. As more people piled into the bar a small posse began to form around us consisting of customers, bartenders, and even some tourists. We laughed and drank all night, buying drinks for each other and making plans for the next evening. By the time I left the bar it was 6AM and the sun was out. I went back to my hotel and slept until early afternoon.

The next evening I met up with some people from the previous night. We went to a karaoke bar. I sang James Brown and the Beatles and stayed out for several hours. It wasn’t the same this time, however, and several of the patrons even directed sarcastic “Go USA” and “God Bless Bush” remarks towards me. It left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth. The next couple of nights I went out with the US delegation. We went to Hofbräuhaus and spent the late evenings at the hotel bar. It was the typical American experience in Germany and I was fine with it by that point.

I guess I’m just old. Not in a bad way – in a “life’s good” kind of way. I managed to scrounge together one fun and adventurous evening but afterwards I went back to a safe zone. The European experience is fine when you’re 22 and don’t have a job yet. But I have the career, the wonderful woman at home, and a great time on a day-to-day basis back in the States. Maybe I missed out on something at some point in my life, but I realized I didn’t really need it anymore.

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Flashing

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A couple of years ago I did a year-long project that I dubbed the Moose in the Closet. I wrote an autobiographical story every Monday-Friday for a little over a year. I ended up writing 263 stories starting on January 19th, 2005 and continuing until the end of February 2006. I took two weeks off to go on vacation but I had guest writers for those two weeks telling their own stories. Over that time I wrote 207,744 words for this project alone. I also wrote a 50k word NaNoWriMo partial-novella (never completed) and worked on two comic books (Elk’s Run and Western Tales of Terror). It was, beyond a doubt, the most productive year of my life and it was a great experiment that helped me grow as a writer.

I am now preparing to undertake a similar writing experiment. I plan on writing flash fiction every Monday through Friday for a full year but with a twist. Every story will have the same exact set-up but each day will tell the story using a different form or genre. So that’s 260 complete stories, each under 1000 words, and each one will be a unique take on the same exact story.

I feel like I need this. After being creatively lost for a full year, I need some kind of “all for me” project like this one. I’m hoping that my writing improves over the year, and that I can entertain a couple of people in the process. I realize that coming up with 260 different literary genres and forms might sound kind of impossible but my list is getting awfully close to that number (I just need to make sure I space the similar genres out).

I will likely be starting on March 23rd. I am taking a week off from work for final preparations. I really hope I can make it a full year, and any encouragement and support you can give me would be much appreciated.

So that’s that. Until that project starts you can still find my daily internet love letters on this blog but that’ll be all, most likely. I’ll be continuing the love letters through the year, although they may be pretty short at times.

Wish me luck!

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