How To Find What You Came Here For

Welcome to the worlds that populate my brain!
The short stories you find here are the product
of a vastly overactive imagination
powered by coffee and M&Ms.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Felonious Intentions

Rene Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.”

I would like to add a corollary to this: “I read, therefore I write.”

When I read, I am pulled into whatever world the author has created.  Every story, even if I’ve read it a hundred times before, becomes an out of body experience for me. Even mediocre stories can take me out of reality for a while in a way that the most immersive movie experience can’t.

My mind is trudging along next to Sergeant Vimes, feeling the cobblestones of the streets of Ankh Morpork under my thin-soled shoes, when I read Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!

My heart tumbles right with Eve and Roarke’s when I read J.D. Robb’s Naked In Death.

I’m reading over Candy Foster-Smith’s shoulder as she writes in her journal about post-apocalyptic America every time I open the cover of David R. Palmer’s Emergence.

My pulse pounds with fear and excitement during that final battle for Gondor as I devour J.R.R. Tolkein’s Return of the King—a book I’ve read at least once a year since I was ten years old.

And that’s why I write.

It’s not because I have a million and one stories bopping around in my head like kids jacked up on Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix…although that is a factor!

I’d like to be published.
I’d like to be one of the few authors
who “make it” and become seriously rich.
I’d like to make it a career.

But I don’t need those things.

I write because I need to recreate
that feeling of experiencing a different reality
vicariously through the characters on the page.

My goal when I write is to draw others,

          willingly or no,
into the world I’ve created.

I’m a wannabe literary kidnapper.

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about our writing goals.  Sure I want to be published.  Sure I want to have my writing on the New York Times Bestseller List (although the shine is off that one a bit ever since I saw Twilight up there, I have to admit).  But mostly?  Mostly I'm looking to abscond with your mind, your heart, and your soul. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Umbrella Of Hope

“Damn Mark, try to miss a few, would ya!”  Ellen rubbed at the elbow that had slammed into one of the cupboards in the back of the old ice cream truck.

The suspension was completely shot, and every bump or pothole Mark hit bounced Ellen around the back like a pinball.  It didn’t help that the roads down to the shanty town weren’t a priority for maintenance, so there were more holes than pavement.

“Nearly there, Ellen.  Just hang on!” Mark called back in his perpetually cheerful voice.

When the truck finally rumbled to a stop, she couldn’t wait to pop open the door and jump out.  The sad little cluster of makeshift houses had grown since they’d been there last.  The area was a patchwork quilt of materials—everything from sheets, to cardboard, to scavenged wood and metal had been pressed into service.

Ellen reached back into the closest cupboard to pull out her immunization kit.  New houses meant new residents, and they’d need to be inoculated.  When she turned around again, she caught sight of several wary faces peering at her through cracks in temporary walls.

Mark was more popular.  He’d be handing out food and water vouchers from the window that had, once upon a time, been used to dole out ice cream to excited children. 

“I’m gonna hit the new places.  See ya in a bit,” Ellen waved back at Mark and got an absent wave in return.  She checked to make sure the batteries in her radio were fresh, and then turned down one of the narrow alleys.

She’d learned how to knock on doors that didn’t exist, scratching at a sheet or strip of fabric, rattling a curtain of cans, or flicking a finger on a sheet of corrugated metal.  The occupants appeared reluctantly, if at all.

After several stops, she hadn’t managed to immunize a single resident.  That wasn’t unusual—the people living here looked at government-sponsored healthcare with distrust, at best.  What was unusual was the lack of children.  A feeling of unease followed her between the eerily silent homes.

Coming around a house made entirely of cardboard, Ellen stopped and stared at the structure in front of her.  She pulled the radio out, and fumbled for the call button.

“Mark…Mark! Come down to the new section, by the river.”

His reply came quickly, “Why?  What’s wrong?”

“Just get down here!”

She heard his shoes slapping against the dirt a few minutes later, and then he was standing next to her, gaping.

“What is it?” he asked.

It was larger than any other structure in the shanty town, and it boasted a collection of wood and metal walls.  There was a makeshift fence surrounding what looked like a play yard filled with children and old toys.

But what had captured Ellen and Mark was the roof.  Umbrella after umbrella, in every color and style imaginable, had been overlapped to create a colorful cover for the building.

“It’s a school,” Ellen whispered.

Image courtesy of treborwilson via Flickr CC2.0. Click image for source.

This post is my response to a prompt from  Write On Edge to write a 500-word short story using the picture above as a prompt.  I was sorely tempted to write a piece from the novel I'm planning for Nanowrimo (Mary Poppins & The Zombie Apocalypse), but I resisted!  Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and please let me know what you think in the comments!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rodeo Reverie

I’m in the backyard I’d spent my childhood in.  I can hear the buzz of mosquitoes in my ear, and feel the cool breeze that carried the scent of bovine flatulence on my face.

The lucid part of my brain—the part that remains separate even when dreaming—notes the lack of cicadas.  For better than ten years I’ve lived in North Carolina, where the cicada’s metallic buzz provides a never-ending counterpoint to every other night sound.

But right now, in my dream, I’m back in Cody, Wyoming. 

And I’m listening to the rodeo.

In a few years the rodeo grounds will move to the edge of town, but right now it’s just a few blocks away from my house.  Its lights create a false sunrise over the tall fence surrounding our yard, and the sounds of excited people and irritated bulls carry clearly. 

I’ve been to enough rodeos that I can close my eyes and picture what’s happening.

A dip in the crowd noise means the next bull rider is in the chute—a tiny metal cage just barely wide enough to accommodate the two-ton bull.  The rider’s lowering himself onto furious animal, wrapping a thick rope around his right hand.  Things can go wrong badly and in the blink of an eye in that cage. 

A sudden rush of noise from the crowd means that the gate has opened. 

The bull is out, throwing the back end of his body high into the air, twisting wildly, bucking with the single focus of throwing the rider onto the hard-packed dirt.

I can judge how the ride is going by the noise.  High volume and lots of excitement means the bull is bucking and twisting for all he’s worth—it’s a good ride.

An extended “oooh” means the rider has come off the bull, whether he hit that magic eight seconds or not.

Silence after that means the rider came off and the bull stomped him or got him with those blunted horns.  It means the rodeo clowns are out there distracting the bull so the rider has a chance to get out.

It’ll stay silent until the rider stands up and waves his hat to signal he’s OK (even if he’s got a few broken bones he didn’t have before), or until the rider waves from the stretcher. 

If it stays silent too long…

Time to wake up.

This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge – we were supposed to write something in which a local item or industry plays a role.  Where I grew up, rodeos were a part of life.  One of my first (unofficial) jobs, was climbing all over the stands with a friend of mine, selling programs.  I chased sheep in the center of those grounds, watched barrel racing, and closed my eyes a lot when those brave men strapped themselves to two tons of pissed-off bull.

Thank you for stopping by, and please, let me know what you think in the comments!