Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our Old Hotel Room

The hotel has changed. When we were last here, it had an aviation theme: pictures of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, wallpaper with renderings of the Wright Brothers and the Red Baron, suites named after Kitty Hawk and the Apollo missions. There was even a flight simulator in the lobby. But now that has been turned into a plainly furnished breakfast room, and all the walls are a bland shade of pale pink covered here and there by insipid paintings of flowerpots and wheelbarrows. All the light bulbs are those new compact fluorescents that shine too harsh and cold. Nothing here evokes feelings of excitement like we had when we came here for our little adventures way back when.
Our room has changed. One wall is entirely blank except for a small flatscreen TV hanging in the middle of it; no more art or furniture, just a black box suspended in a white void. The carpet is the kind of dull blue-grey stuff found in waiting rooms and under cubicles. The upholstery on the chairs actually does look nicer, but it feels too plush and corporate. We never had much use for the chairs anyway.
The bathroom floor tiles have gone from dark brown to navy blue, as has the oversized bathtub. They replaced the caulking between the tub and the floor; no more open passages for spiders like that one that crawled out while we were bathing. You made me toss it out the window instead of killing it; I wonder if it ever found its way back inside, whether its children still live inside these walls.
The shape of the place is the same, but it looks like we were never here. That we never snuck away to this room to experience each other. That we never made love in this bed and in this tub and on this floor. Everything has been stripped and scoured, repainted and replaced. There is a new maroon bedspread in place of the old forest green one. Even the pillows are new, and somehow they don’t feel as firm.
I know I was na├»ve to think this place would never change, but I still hoped to find it at least close to the way it was, that there would be something left here to make it feel like it was still our place. But why should this one spot remain the same when the world keeps moving on? No one has any reason to care about the memories of two little people except those two little people themselves. Besides, there aren’t two of us anymore. Nothing is ours now; it only was ours once upon a time.
I am alone now. I am alone in a hotel room that just happens to bear the same number as the one we stayed in years ago. It belongs to someone else now.

Copyright (C) 2012 by Eric Landuyt

A Lunar Love Story

It was a well known secret about what goes on at the third house on the right from the reclamation building. It wasn't a good neighborhood, so the influx of people who came and went and never stayed more than a few hours couldn't be attributed to wanting to see the sights.

So it blew my top off when the cute girl I met in the Maenon Cafe claimed that house as home.

“...and that's when she said, that's not a monkey! That's my grandpa!”

I let out a peal of raucous laughter, slamming my hand on table for emphasis.

If there were bugs on the moon, I would have said her eyes bugged out, “Okay then,” she glanced at her wrist. “Its getting late. I should be getting home.”

I was being blown off, “Let me at least walk you home, Its dark outside and I don't want you to get hurt or anything.”

“That's really not necessary...” I cut off her protest.

“It really is. I want to take you home.”

I watched her pause, considering how best to ditch me?

“Please. My father raised me to be a gentleman, to always make sure that a girl gets home safely.”

I saw her acquiesce. “Okay, but I'm warning you, I don't live in some fancy place. And my family isn't all that usual. Certainly not like the chairman of the lunar planning committee.” she threw her thumb over her shoulder at the portrait of my father that adorned the walls of every business in the colony.

“Don't judge me on my father.” Great. Not another girl chased away by my overbearing ever present father. “I mean, he's a great man, but he's not the most helpful in my relationships.”

“No need to apologize...”

“I wasn't apologizing.”

“Fine, no need to explain.” I was really really screwing this up. “I understand being judged by your family.”

“Come on, I'll walk you home.” She tucked her hand in the crook of my arm.

We walked past the conversion buildings, “I used to spend hours in there on weekend. My dad would come into work and leave me to wander around. One of the areponics guys found me wandering around the sludge room, and he showed me how the whole process. Growing the algae for oxygen, turning waste into fertilizer to grow more algae...the circle of life.”

“I bet there are fewer lions and tigers and bears.” She grinned, smashing her body into mine, making me struggle for a minute to regain my footing in the lower gravity.

“Plenty of algae lions. I'm sure.” I snarked back.

“Oh, we need to turn here.” She pulled me down an alleyway. “Its shorter.”

The walls turned into smooth, featureless blanks. “Uh... I'm not sure we're supposed to be back here. Isn't this the maintenance passageway?”

“Yup.” She drug me by my arm, running out in front and jerking my limbs along for the ride.

“Maintenance areas are for authorized personal only!” I tried resisting, but found myself overpowered.

Again that infectious giggle. “Oh come on Reggie, live a little!”

“My father will kill me if he knew I was back here.” I grumbled, only a little.

We came to a certain section of wall, no different than any other, but she found a slight catch and clicked open a panel. “Home sweet home.” We passed through the open door and into a world of wonderment.

The walls were draped with bolts of richly colored fabric in various textures, with glints of gold running throughout the fabrics. “Holy...crap.” I gasped.

“That's what everyone says the first time.” She said, reaching over a marble top bar and grabbing a couple bottles of water and throwing one at my chest.

I gaped around the living room, taking in all the elaborate and rich details that decorated the small building. Far too decorous for such a small colony. As I saw scantily clad women leading men down the stairs, it finally clicked.

“This is the...”

“Yup.” She gave me a smirk as she gulped her water.

“And you...”

“No. I just live here.”

“Then...why?” I could barely squeak out.

“My mother...she's Lady Abigail.”

“So you're....”

“I don't know. Before she moved her, she was already heavy with me.” She moved towards one of the overstuffed arm chairs, patting the seat next to her. I flopped down.

Above us on the landing there was a slight noise, I looked up. “Dad?” I let out a fairly un-manly squeek.

“Reggie? What the hell are you doing here?” His deep voice rumbled down the stairs and scraped up my spine.

“Walking her home! What are you doing here?”

“That's none of your business! Now go home immediately!” He had made his way to me faster than I could see and his fingers burrowed into my bicep as he pulled me to my feet and shoved me towards the front door. “You will not mention this to your mother. And you will NEVER see this...”His cold eyes scanned the girl next to me and he sneered “person, again.”

He squeezed my arm harder, “Is that understood?”

“Yes Father.” I lowered my eyes and said, “It was very nice to meet you...”

“Jaime.”

“Jaime.”

And the door closed behind me, and I was left in the cold lunar evening, alone.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eli- Week 4. Operation: Daisy Episode I

This is actually something I don't usually do. This is the first part of a series of side stories that I am writing that go along with a full length play I finished not that long ago. I hope it isn't too reliant on references to that work and can be understood as a standalone product.

http://explodingrabbits.blogspot.com/2012/03/52-week-project-week-4-operation-daisy.html

Small Bites of Fiction

Some small sections of my assignments for a writing workshop I'm participating in right now.
*****

The tape spooled out of the cassette door, the last wail of the bagpipes screeched out of the beat up speakers. Fitting. Bob would appreciate the sentiment. I shoveled the dirt over the metal box in which Bob would lay for the rest of time. “Goodbye Bob. You were the best pygmy dragon a boy could know.” I brushed the dirt off of my knees and made my way to the kitchen.

Well that’s enough of that nonsense, now will you just go and buy a new little monster? All of your crying and caterwauling is more than I can stand.” My mother’s harsh tones burned my soul as she poured me a glass of milk to go with my oreos.

I can’t replace Bob! There’s no way to replace him! He was one of a kind!” She just didn’t get it, Bob was a pygmy dragon, a rare breed of an extinct species…of course he would be nigh impossible to replace, as if I would want that.


*****


This note is to inform the holder that Charlie the Gnome has requested your presence at a social outing of his choosing. Please respond by carrier pigeon or another outdated and unreliable mode of communication. (I suggest smoke signals). Signed, Charlie the Gnome’s social secretary.

When did a lawn gnome get a social secretary?” I mused aloud, “nevermind that anyways, how do I get out of this date? Last time Charlie tried this, he showed up in a loincloth and kept … adjusting himself. Not to mention the fact that his idea of a ‘romantic’ evening included a trip to a strip club, and underground, illegal strip club at that!”

My friend Jerri shook her head in bemusement. “What do you expect, getting involved, in ANY way with a lawn gnome?”


******

Charlie hollered up the stairwell, “Come on Allie we’re going to be late!”

I am NOT going to see Episode 1 in 3D with you….AGAIN. It doesn’t even make sense!”

It doesn’t have to make sense! It’s George Lucas’ gift to us after years and years of no new films! He re-releases his most visually stunning movies in 3D so that we can continue to worship at the alter of podraces and double ended lightsabers!” He wheedled.

So that’s all you need to make you happy? Flashy trash? What about substance Charlie? There’s nothing there to sink your teeth into. Why would any head of state sign a treaty that would allow mechanical beings, and / or bugs to keep a blockade around their planet, cutting off the materials and goods that her people would need to survive?” Allie slammed her door. “There is nothing you can say that will convince me to come see it with you AGAIN!”

Charlie sighed, defeated. “Not even agreeing to go see Sex and the City 3 with you when it comes out?”

Allie’s head popped out into the stairwell, “And have you sigh dramatically and fall asleep like you did last time? No way in hell. I’ll go with Bree and Lexie.” The door slammed again.

Charlie tried again, “What about going ice skating at the park?”

Once again the door opened and Charlie saw Allie’s head, “So you can complain every time you fall over on your ass? And bitch about how cold it is? I hardly think so.”

What about…”

Charlie… just give it up. There’s nothing you can offer me that will convince me to go to your utter geek-fest with you.”

But…but… how am I supposed to get there? Mom said you’d drive me!” Charlie’s chin began to quiver, “you promised!”

Allie sighed, “Fine, but I’m not staying. I’m just dropping you off. And you have to find your own way home!”

*******

Emerald as the isle from where he was exiled, Ernie twisted and scrunched his body across the cool surface of the table, his belly leaving a slight slime trail.

********

Charlie dove head first into the offal pit, scrounging through the refuse for something edible, or at least something that would not kill him upon consumption. He came up for air, exhaling a fetid stench into the cold morning air.

********

Lilly accessed my emotional interface, located the algorithms that conveyed love, removed the iso-chips, and then crushed them beneath her booted heel.

*******

Adolfa mourned for the life she had once lived, being Fuhrer of the Fatherland, memories of Eva, of the party, of all the things she had done as Adolf; she allowed her eyes to unfocus and her thoughts played out in the fluids of her eyes.

*******

Four wheels attempted to grip the sand of the road, Charlie spun the steering column with the palm of his hand.

*******

The wizened crone bent in half from age handed me a crimson orb from the tree of forbidden fruit, knowing it could end my existance made it taste all the more sweet.

Blog Design

Hey guys. Sorry this isn't my post. That will come later today. As you may have noticed I changed the background color of the blog. I did it because I wanted a bigger dark-light contrast. At least for me it makes it easier to read. If any of you have more difficulty reading with this change please let me know. Thanks guys.

I Don't Know

(don't worry, Eli... I, too, missed my deadline by a lot! By the way, is it me, or is the change in the blog's color from bright green to this remind anyone of a pear rotting?)


            I’m breathing too heavily. The ground seems stable, as it’s really my feet that make the earth twist and writhe today. There’s a weight on my neck from my head, and a head loaded with sandbags. My goal for today is to make it across that block.
            Even with the brick building’s support, each step becomes cautious and not unlike a fish’s first time on land. The headache makes me want to close my eyes.
            Okay, think, think of something. That should distract you today. Whatever you do, don’t listen to that sage in that tie and try to become ‘aware’ of how your body feels- that just reminds you how terrible it is.
            Time to make a promise? Ok, sure. Buddy, you don’t have to do your homework today. You’ve struggled enough as it is, wanting to drop after the marathon of half a windy block. Just use the computer to stay awake- napping throws the day into a blender- until you can take the sleep medicine. You can wiggle your way out of other promises you made in the state of faux energy, just like always.
            Maybe stress is where the problem comes from. Nearly all of my family is convinced that it’s no longer chronic fatigue, the last diagnosis thrown to us from the last doctor, but that it’s stress instead. But that always seems to follow becoming lifeless to all. Feel the headaches, fatigue, and chills; get stressed; feel worse. Stress doesn’t help, but summer won’t cure this.
            Time’s really flown by,  I’m nearly at the end. The insides of my muscles are jelly.
            Did I eat something to cause this? I run through the list- searching for traces of gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, or food coloring- and nothing seems to jump out. Salted peanuts can’t possibly be it. Unless it was made on the same conveyor belt as chocolate or something, but the back of the package would’ve told me if it did.
            I need to make a promise to myself that I won’t reward myself with gluten again. It seems pointless to avoid it, since any road I take nowadays leads to lead eyes and unclear, unfocused sleep. For me, the only difference between it and alcohol is legality for someone my age. I guess if beer could be purchased easily, I’d have lost myself a long time ago. I’ve failed myself in that regard.
            The block’s ended. Only an uncountable number left until home.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eli - Week 3: Road to the West (Re-Wrtie)

So I missed my deadline by a few days. Sorry guys. I will catch up and and give you the comments you deserve tomorrow and monday. I've just been a combination of sick and busy and it is screwing me. Anyway, here is my re-write. (Eric you may recognize this as I think I had you perform the monologue version once)

http://explodingrabbits.blogspot.com/2012/03/52-week-project-week-3-road-to-west-re.html

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Creep in the Library

This is the story I came up with for the Three-Minute Fiction contest. I'm not totally happy with the title, so feel free to offer any input. (Brynn, I'd especially like to know what you think.)


She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door. Civility had been defeated by sheer annoyance; Sabrina had to get away from this creep. Unfortunately for her, he was persistent as well as thick. He rose from his chair across the table and followed her out into the hall.
“I’d like to hear more about that book you were reading,” Creep said quietly, obviously using the library’s noise rules as an excuse to lean in far closer than necessary. “You made it sound really interesting.”
Sabrina quickened her strides and thought of the pepper spray canister on her keychain. No, that might be a bit excessive. At this point.
“The library has more than one copy,” she replied with what she hoped was noticeable exasperation. “You can check it out anytime.”
“Well, I’d like to check it out with you,” Creep whispered coyly. “How about a study date? If you give me your number…”
“I’m very busy right now, so I don’t think I’ll have time for that.”
“But if it’s for your class, you have to study for that, right? Come on, I’ll help you with your stuff, and you can give me a hand with mine.”
Creep clearly thought this was all just a game of hard-to-get. Sabrina gritted her teeth. The pepper spray no longer seemed quite so excessive. “I study better when I’m alone,” she told him.
“But it’s always more fun when you do it with a partner.”
Sabrina rolled her eyes at that last innuendo. They were entering the library’s lobby now, and she took note of all the other people coming and going around them. A desperate plan took root in her mind. Humiliating though it would likely be for her, making a scene might be the only way to get this guy off her back. She turned and looked Creep in the face.
“No offense, but would you just leave me alone?” Her sudden directness caught him off-guard. He tried to cover his confusion with a smirk.
“What? What did I do?”
“Well, aside from the fact you can’t take a hint, that pickup line you opened with was one of the dumbest ones I’ve ever heard. You won’t get anywhere sounding like a creep and an idiot.”
Creep’s smirk fell into a frown. He shifted uncomfortably and started blushing. The message had finally gotten through. Sabrina was about to make her long-awaited escape when Creep scowled at her and indignantly fired off one last volley.
“You know, if you don’t want guys checking you out, maybe you shouldn’t sit around reading the Kama Sutra!” he hissed. Sabrina flushed and wheeled on him.
“For the last time, you perv, it was the Bhagavad Gita!”
Sabrina’s bellow echoed off the smooth walls of the lobby. Every other person nearby froze in
astonishment. Creep glanced around nervously and realized they were all staring at him. He gave Sabrina a parting glare and stormed off in a humiliated huff.
Mortified though Sabrina was at her outburst, she still had to breathe a deep sigh of relief. Now to make her own escape with whatever dignity she could salvage. She turned to finally leave the library but stopped at the sight of a middle-aged librarian with a stern expression approaching.
“Is there a problem?” the librarian asked.
“Not anymore,” Sabrina sighed. “That guy just really didn’t know his Indian literature.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

of wires and den-(I hate this title, suggestions?)

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In a tiny filling station in the darkest, loneliest part of the smallest town in east Texas, was a lone red box machine.

The filling station had long ago passed into disuse, the windows were dusty, when they were present at all. And a variety of animals had begun to use the shelves and refrigerated cases as their homes. Generations of soft and furry animals had begun and ended their lives in the filling station. Chewing through the wires and drywall, creating weapons of twisted and tangled wire, armor of candy bar wrappers and drywall. Forming bands, raiding out further and further from their tiny, dilapidated home to search for food and goods.

Anchuk, the leader of the raccoon's band was braiding his wire whip, and twisting bits of scrap metal into his tail.

“Another accomplishment Anchuk?” a wizened old raccoon with grey fur asked, leaning on her cane made of wire shelf.

“We have recovered another of the cases. There will be many peanuts this winter.” Anchuk added a final, elaborate twist to the end of his whip.

“Why that is a reason to celebrate Anchuk! Why did you not inform the councils of Elders of your triumph?” The grey raccoon asked.

“We needed to regroup and take care of our wounded. The world outside the station is still a very dangerous place for beings our size.” Anchuk responded, jumping to his tiny claws. “And I am telling you now. Arrange a celebration if you wish.”

---

All of the tribes of the filling station were gathered around the community bonfire that night. The rhythmic drumming and clanging of the musicians instruments and the dancing of the children and unattached raccoons created a merriment that filtered out of the broken windows and caused the redbox machine to begin to glow.


The Eldest called for silence, and the children crawled forward to sit at her feet. “Long ago, before the station became our home, the raccoons lived outside, in the trees and among the grasses. It was not safe to be a raccoon. But all of a sudden, humans began abandoning this station, and soon enough, it was empty. And our ancestors formed a hole and moved inside. At first there was food a plenty, the humans had left their station intact. But soon enough, food grew scarce. But our spirits remained high. Instead of wallowing in worry, we celebrated long into the night while our raiding parties went out in search of food. And finally, something good occurred. The big box outside, drew a person to its glowing beacon, and our food problem became no more.” The Eldest raised her hands in triumph, and a growing roar filled the station.

Outside the window, the glow of the redbox grew in intensity.

The Eldest continued her story after the roar died down a bit. “Our people gained the experience to take care of ourselves, learning how to raid further and further outside of the station. Our raiding parties have become the life blood of our people, we are beholden to them. We can never forget the contribution that they make to our lives.” The crowd gave up an even louder cry of appreciation, every raccoon was on his or her feet, hands high and stomping and clapping and screeching and clamoring for all they were worth. As the raccoons' celebration reached a climax, the redbox's glow sent out a beam of light that shot far out into the distance.

The celebration stretched far into the dark of the night, loud enough that the raccoons did not notice the approach of a figure heading to the redbox.

The raccoons' dancing and the music had whipped them into a frenzy, the unattached raccoons paired off and found themselves a secluded corner while the children tried to force themselves to stay awake.

A zzzzzaaaappp of lightning struck the redbox and the person who had been drawn to the eerie machine. The individual fell threw the front window and rolled to a stop just at the edge of the celebration, nudging a group of sleeping children. All of whom woke up, saw the dead body looming over them, and screamed.

The Eldest made her way to where the children were cowering in terror, “have no fear young ones, it is another offering from the big box outside! We have been blessed again with more than enough to survive the cold nights that are coming! The parties' contribution will last for another year. Our people are meant to survive!”

The celebration redoubled, the station glowed with the intensified fire and heat of the dancers. And the redbox began to glow again.

As dawn clawed her way over the horizon with her rosy fingers, the raccoons on watch outside the station were alerted to the presence of an approaching vehicle with flashing lights.

Anchuk sprinted back to the station from his look out post, “Elders! We need to hide, there are humans approaching!”

The Eldest grasped Anchuk's arm, “I shall gather the children, you warn the adults.”

Both of the raccoons spread the word amongst the exhausted revelers, a wildfire spread through the group, raccoons fled in every direction to hidden spaces in the walls.

The flashing lights drew closer and stopped. Anchuk peered out into the station, watching as years of his life were overthrown by boots and nightsticks. The lead human found the dead body and spoke into a strange box affixed to his shoulder. “Affirmative dispatch, I found the Mps car, and I think I found the MP too. You'll want to send a crime scene unit, and the coroner.” He turned over a wire rack, “Uh, dispatch, we'll probably want a boss or two down here too.” Anchuk covered his eyes in disbelief, the human had found the last offering from the big box outside.

NPR Writing Contest This Week

For anyone interested, I just found out that NPR is doing their "Three Minute Fiction" contest this week. Writers are being asked to write a short story of no more than 600 words that starts with the sentence "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door." Entries must be submitted to www.npr.org by 11:59pm ET on March 25th. If anyone else needs an idea for this week, you could go this route.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vinnie Palladino Bans His Own Book

              I knew Vinnie since the first grade, and even I never thought he had enough ill force within him to pull this. I guess I’m partially to blame after the Missouri night when he stopped by for a friendly chat and a few drinks to “escape that humidity and those bugs.” Of course, I know he just wanted to talk again, and we would. He talked about possibly becoming a history teacher at his old school (which made him nauseous), and I talked about my same attempts to teach literature there (which made me anxious). I’d tell him what’s going on in the world, and he would listen under the condition that we’d later share already told stories of a youth reading together what no one else let us read.
            “And then,” he grinned, preparing for the big finish, “I threw the book at her feet and shouted, ‘I don’t care if I get in trouble, but this is the most boringest book I ever read!’”
            We both closed our eyes and laughed at the shared vision of Mrs. Pace’s wide eyes after seeing the recently banned Catcher in the Rye slammed at her feet. “Says the history teacher and author of ‘I’m Troubled and Nothing Happens,” I spoke softly, cheeks barely containing my smile.
            I’m surprised someone who had been talking all night could laugh as hard as he did. I guess he too realized that Hindered was not exactly fast-paced and fun. He still managed to chuckle out quickly, “I think it’s ok now, if that helps! I was too young when I read it!”
            “Face it, Vinnie… you would have never read that book then if someone hadn’t called the school to ban it!”
            His blue eyes were somewhere else while he hooted at my joke. “I guess it was pretty smart of Salinger to get it banned then!”

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            Two days later, I got a letter from him saying I should open his note at the town meeting that was scheduled yesterday for today. That should have tipped me off, but I still didn’t know what to do when I arrived through my old grade school’s automatic doors into the gym and saw him, impatiently waiting for the meeting to begin, behind a podium and in front of a huge red sign blaring, “Protect Our Children: Ban Vinnie Palladino.”
            The fully packed musty hall and sudden pressure placed on me almost caused me to forget the letter. Gathering the exploded inner pieces within me, I opened it as gently as I could with my shaking hands.
            You got me thinking yesterday about how my book needs publicity. Time for an experiment and a little payback. P.S.: Kids these days know too much about fake I.D.s
            At this point, I could only stand in the hallway and gawk at his smiling, greeting face making small talk amongst the locals. But, at exactly 12, he asked for the men and women of this fair town to seat themselves and their children, so I had to join them.
            “People of Republic, Missouri: Who is Vincent Palladino? If you don’t know, you’re either ignoring him out of fear, or don’t know exactly what great calamity has visited this world in the latest perversion of the written word.”
            Seeing the attention of every citizen tighten, he carefully adjusted the grey hair he had since birth. “Well, either way, you all have a problem now!” he continued, as I read, “Lecture by Professor Vincent Hill,” under the loud sign. I knew exactly what his speech would be like from that.
            “Yes, Republic has once again been burdened! Now, understand that I deeply despise becoming the bearer of bad news to this fair land, especially when it comes in the form of a book. I love books. Don’t you? Any time with a book is the most wonderful thing I could ask for, especially when in the company of Chaucer’s proficient diction or Carle’s eternal hegemony of semblances.”
            He had lost them for a second with the big words; I knew this pleased him. “But it took me a while to appreciate these masterworks, years of study and growing to cultivate my mind properly. Not to pick up a book, though- I could do that since I was a child. You all could. Not everyone can understand the complexities behind books at the beginning, though they can sure try to. And I can assure you right now that any member of this school to read Hindered would not be fully prepared for the true message it brings.”
            “But who’s to say kids can’t try? Well, they certainly can, if they want to take that first step into a world beyond their educations and recognition. The reason is I’ve seen what has happened to other kids that see the story’s villain explain his reasoning, and therefore sympathize with the notion that evil is necessary to create good. The next thing you know, the kid moves from simple arguments with parents to pulling tricks and dangerous pranks all under the notion of ‘creating good.’ We all know that’s just their flimsy excuse for causing trouble, but they won’t. And what if they grow up with that? Can you imagine a gang- a whole neighborhood- overflowing with delinquents spreading graffiti and sex wherever they please under a banner of ‘good’? Just because no one could teach them better?”
            The kids seemed to perk up at that ‘s’ word sooner than some parents could cover their ears. One family was leaving, which became more than enough to trigger fierceness in Vinnie.
            “See that family over there, leaving because I spoke the truth! Friends, let it be known that no matter how vulgar I may seem, I act so to warn you that this book becomes far, far worse in the hands of the ignorant! They may not know it, but it’s their problem too!”
            They seem to know now, as they sat down while Vinnie continued.
            “Yes, I’ve seen this books power, and the worst thing it has done is absorb them! I’ve seen them ignoring chores, even forgetting eating, in an effort to punish themselves (and everyone else) and become like the villain of the story! The villain! Friends, no decent writer could make a villain so appealing if not to seduce someone to his side. We can resist, and therefore it’s our duty to protect those who can’t!”
            One woman shouted from the middle, “Where’s your proof?”
            I tightened myself in sympathy. Debates were not Vinnie’s thing. Fortunately, though, quick thinking was, and Vinnie gave the look of true concern to her.
            “I cannot say in truthfulness that I have seen any of this. I refuse to lie to such decent people. However, in only stands to reason that they will, for that’s the actions of the children in this book. Children, as any good parent knows, imitate those they look up to or admire, and they seem to admire characters their age in books for reasons unknown to me.”
            His lies had become more easily blended in with the truth since high school. I liked that. I hate it when he lies to me.
            “But since I know you are all wonderful parents, I’m going to ask you directly: would you like to know what exactly they talk about in this book? They talk about implied sex. They talk about implied despair. They talk about giving away both as freely as you please! What if your son or daughter became one of them!”
            The woman in front of me fainted. An elder representative of the crowd stood up and loudly announced, “We’ve got a problem!”
            “That’s right sir, we do!” shouted Vinnie as he pulled the megaphone from the podium. What he didn’t expect was for the bolts attached to it and the top of the podium to come with it. “What do we got?” he inquired to the stiff lady in front.
            “A problem!”
            “Who here has a problem!?”
            “WE DO!” said the thundering audience, save myself.
            “Who’s gotta take care of it!?”
            “WE DO!”
            “Who’s got a problem!?”
            “WE DO!”
            “Yes we do! Now, if you permit me, I’d like to go off of my notes here,” he said, beginning a pace back and forth.  Only I knew he was lying, given away by a quick scratch behind the ear. “I need to determine whether the mark of Hindered has been here or not. Has there been any explicit… graffiti in this town as of late?”
            A muffled gasp and muttering emerged as they remembered the drawing underneath the bridge made last night.
            “Has there been any dangerous music coming from anyone’s radio.”
            More mutterings amongst them, worried glances.
            “What about the children? Have they been saying things like… like ‘Your god is my devil?’”
            A more panicked response erupted from the audience, and little Billy’s mom looked at him in both terror and shame. I recognized Billy because I saw Vinnie giving him five bucks yesterday for a reason now known to me.
            “Aha! And how about, ‘Parents caused all this.’!”
            Chaos had broken loose and was bouncing off of each mother and father in the gym. There was no need for him to shout, “So as you all know, we have… a problem! Thank you and good day!” as no one could hear him. I didn’t see him disappear backstage amid all of the confusion.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

            A concerned talk with him later revealed his plan to use the publicity gained by the town’s guaranteed banning of the book to draw national attention. The masterstroke would come from Vinnie Palladino giving a tremendous speech in its defense, making the town the country’s villain. I protested, of course, but I knew I didn’t have the skills necessary to change the hamlet’s mind. I was never loud enough, and everything would happen too quickly.
            The town banned the book, and Vinnie got possibly two news articles about it buried deep in somebody else’s paper.  The ban lasted, but became practically nonexistent for want of care within a day. I think I know why too- the good guys won a long time ago. Book banning became a silly practice a while ago, and wouldn’t last even in a silly town like this that switched between moral panics as easily as you please. Of all the towns, Vinnie had to choose the one ostracized from everyone as the nuts in fancy houses. The school library here still stacks Hindered in the creaky cubicle underneath the computer to this day.
            I wanted to talk to Vinnie about this until I ran into him again three days after the second reporter left. I think I was going to confront him, but what I saw changed that. He had the gym to himself that night; he took advantage of this by blasting a rock song (I think ‘Dancing With Myself’) through his stereo. The chairs were arranged for any large crowd that just happened to drop in, but the man was already giving a speech to his perfect audience.  The megaphone tight in his hand, he declared himself to the dim lights.
            “For I was once a child, like the ones you so selflessly shield, in love with words spoken and written. No matter what books the school chose, I would read them if they were thrown to a rainy curb by an authority. And I learned from those books that censorship would lock you in your own little world, away from the risks and pains integral to the human experience. I know I’m alone when I say this, but I believe that no book should be banned. We need to end censorship now.”
            “For as John Stuart Mill said, ‘If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind…’”
            I became his only audience member that night, captivated by the pure joy in his eyes, a joy that knew no time or place. As much as he hated his old school, I realized he was not as bitter as I originally thought him to be. I think he actually found inner peace before I did. So we each took a trip back to his childhood through that dead rock ‘n roll, back to a simpler time when things were darker, to dance with the past that could have been ours.

Friday, March 16, 2012

3 Poems

I wasn't able to finish a story for this week, but here are three poems I've been tinkering with that feel story-ish.


Nothing and Everything
Moving on, straight up the sidewalk,
heavy on my feet but alive in my head.
I want to vomit out what’s left inside
until I remember nothing.

Not far up the street, the lights are off in my place.
I couldn’t read her face as she shut the windows.
When she’s still, she’s like a frozen lake.
What’s left unsaid means everything.

She once told me about her nightmare of losing her home.
Maybe that’s why she stays in failing relationships.
She has been all around this big, loud city
because something bad feels better than nothing.

I’m laughing now but not because I’m happy.
I’ve finally accepted what I’ve known for a long time.
I never thought that it would be so hard,
but I used to think I knew everything.

Maybe she’s still standing there at the window.
I don’t really care if she stays this time.
We’ve repeated the same things so many times
that going through the motions now means nothing.

There’s a place by the ocean where I may go now.
It has so few people but so much life.
It makes me feel warm to think of staying there.
The sea eventually forgets everything.


Novelle
Novelle hides her battle scars with makeup.
She calls her father Satan
because she hates the man,
yet she still receives him at her shabby little country house.

Novelle hates her money.
She has very little, but all of it comes from Satan.
She spends her nights throwing it away
in the dives out of sight of her father’s palace.

Novelle buys homemade primitive art
which Satan derides every time he comes to visit.
After he leaves, she lays on her mattress on the floor,
staring at the art on which she spent the devil’s money.

Novelle tries to escape the old family traditions
that Satan imposed upon her in her youth.
He may be old and weak and impotent now,
but she can still feel him on her back.

Novelle died on the night of Good Friday
outside the city when peace had ended.
No one knew the alcoholic devil’s daughter
was ever not herself.


Through The Doorway
I step in through the doorway
and out of the evening cold.
Lamplight reveals the lines on her face,
but her eyes are not so old.
She is still the same woman
who first led me into the fire.
I was shy then and I’m still shy now,
but I am no longer a liar.

She gently takes my hand.
I come forward to do it again.
This will not be my first time;
does that make it a greater sin?
When the condemned is executed,
I will lose one of my many enemies.
But I must hold my trigger finger
until after I am released.

I know God has always frowned
on my dishonest, cursed ways.
Rolling these dice now costs me nothing;
the cards are all fully displayed.
None of the players are talking
as the criminal loses her life.
Perhaps now my lover can be called saved
though no one ever called her wife.

I step out through the doorway
and into the cold, empty street.
I know how far I am from the border;
I must move and stay on my feet.
Yesterday is gone along with the woman
who lit the match that charred my soul.
Now I will carry nothing more
than what it costs to pay the toll.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eli- Week 2 : Speechless

18 minutes before midnight. Close but here it is in all its rushed glory. I am sure there are grammatical errors galore! I will say that I have never written anything like this before. Enjoy.

With 13 minutes left...

The Post:
http://explodingrabbits.blogspot.com/2012/03/52-week-project-week-2-speechless.html

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nothing New


            London was covered by a black blanket of people, all of them moving briskly, looking at no one, and named Irene Bardakci.  No buildings larger than two stories, save one, were left to hide the presence of millions of identical preteens dressed in countless variations of drab oversized sweaters. That one remaining tall building is where Irene Bardakci stared at her living circus mirror, at the other hers she ruled over.
            It was from this sunny balcony that Irene decided that there was no point disguising how bored she had become anymore. The new books had not shown up yet, and she doubted she’d get any enjoyment from learning a new trade that she’d never use. And even if she did want to talk to someone (a thought that was continually gnawing at the back of her mind again), what would be the difference between that and just talking to her own thoughts? The air’s chills were becoming too much for her this morning, and everything seemed in place - no smells, no noise- so she calmly walked back inside of her flat. That was when the idea struck her.
            Though it took her a while, she eventually remembered which organized pile she left the Zero in. It was safely hidden in its pouch underneath the erlenmeyers and books on robotics and casings of dust. Scanning the room and confirming that there were no other Irenes around, she grabbed a forgotten metal piece shaped like a dreidel and stationed it in the middle of the room. She opened the door to the balcony with a tight tug, letting a large beam of sunlight strike the center. Quick angle calculations were made inside of her head as she opened the white pouch halfway and pinched the thick steel of the Zero. With a balancing breath, she held up the bag between the piece and the sun, then swiftly removed the bag to reveal the large ring inside.
            She had to move quickly to put the Zero back, lest the entire building forever transform. But her timing was impeccable, and the light that went through the ring and turned grey only hit the piece. Swiftly, it grew into a peach blob, violently expanding while somehow denting itself until the world’s youngest Irene Bardakci stood straight in its place.
            This copy of Irene Bardakci was no different from the others: small, frail as glass, and with thin black hair reaching far behind her. Her new eyes scanned the room calmly as if to keep the rest of her body from shivering. She was almost too frightened to take the folded robe given to her from the lordly duplicate of herself, but eventually put it on and began to take in her surroundings.
            It was as if her greatest wishes had thrown themselves down and kissed her feet. A ceiling, domed and higher than anything she had ever seen, was encased by a magnificent bookshelf of facts, with gateways to their worlds provided by curved ladders. Though workbenches and tools surrounded her, they looked as if no human hands had touched them. Best of all, she felt the air of sanctuary here, as if no one in their busy wild workdays would ever find this treasure. But there was still the fact that she had no idea how she got here from her bed, and why another one of her was here, examining her as if she was hunting her.
            “How did I get here?” said Irene to the taller version of herself that wore baggy sweaters and colorless braces like herself. She then realized that her teeth felt less pressure than usual, and a finger to her teeth confirmed that her own braces were gone.
            “You are a copy of myself from two years ago, sans nonorganic possessions” stated the planet’s current leader.  “Other than that, you’re the same woman I was before I was given this,” she said, holding up the heavy white pouch.
            “Given?”
            “Yes. It was someone in shimmering white wearing glasses, from what I could tell. He disappeared after dropping the ring.”
            “I see.” The clone looked at her feet, not sure what to say yet.
            “I brought you here because I want to… talk to someone.”
            “Why me?”
            Irene felt as if she should have seen this coming, especially since she knew how she preferred solitude. It was now her turn to look at her feet, only she was thinking of excuses for why she would create a new life and then leave it behind.
            This gave the clone a chance to glance outside and see a London nearly leveled. Below her marched a silent parade of doppelgangers, all moving forth to destinations invisible.
            “How did… where is everybody?” The clone’s panic stopped a departing Irene in her tracks, moments before she reached the door.
            “There all like us,” she said, turning back towards her copy. “They are the only ones alive. I am their goddess.”
            The clone was at a loss for words- not for anger or despair, but only for surprise. “How did this happen?”
            “I created the first clone by accident, through a flashlight. I was able to keep it hidden and fed, and even used her when I didn’t want to talk to anyone. But then I found out we were moving again.”
            A familiar pang hit the clone’s heart, which triggered a spreading dread through her gut. Then, a new, terrible thought struck.
            “Our family is alive,” said Irene, noting the fear in the clone’s hazel eyes. “A team of my women could not bring it to themselves to harm them. We’re keeping them safe.”
            “You took over the world because you were moving?”
            “It’s more complex than that. It was while crying into the arms of my copy that I discovered how much they’ve done for me and how little they asked of me. So we ran away from home. Our life savings got us out of town, and we even found a motel room, but that didn’t stop the police from finding us. I panicked, and used Zero on them,” she softly spoke as she motioned to the white pouch. “With them gone, I realized that I would be consistently hunted and that I had ventured far beyond the point of return. I needed everyone to leave me alone.”
            “Months later, I arrived at Washington D.C. and made my way to the top of an observatory tower. The landscape was cleared within seconds, replaced by thousands of myself. Afterwards, air support was obtained, and the rest of the country fell quickly. The world quickly united against me, but they were preoccupied with slaying the building wave of preteen girls approaching them and had no idea about my secret.”
            This image caused the clone to wince slightly, but only for a moment.
            “Now, we are at peace. Zero was enough reason for my world to elect me as their ruler, but everyone carries on so well that I might as well not exist. I finally have time to learn what I want and to achieve all of my projects. But I have since grown without something to do, and no reason for pursuing other things, so I created you. All other clones were fed lies to keep them in place, whether I needed them to farm or work factories. They all trusted me since I controlled both facts and the Zero. You’re the first one I’ve ever opened myself up to.”
            The clone was at a loss of words for a little while. But then she meekly stated, “I understand.”
            “What did you say?”
            “Your actions seem reasonable to me. We’ve established world peace, brought ourselves solidarity, and created a world where we can accomplish our dreams. Whose to stop us from becoming great scientists and athletes, now that we’re free from everyone else?”
            There was a new coldness emitting from Irene. She then harshly stammered out, “I want you to leave.”
            “Why? I can…”
            In a grey flash, the old clone morphed from a blob to a blob with dents to another one of herself. Irene placed the Zero back in the pouch and straightened her posture.
            “Your dreams have come true,” she commanded. “A life of peace and quiet awaits, where you can achieve your greatest aspirations. But we need you to work in order for that to happen. Report to E-L-0000834 for further instructions. She should be on the lower floor.”
            The clone, shaking from the cold and from shock, moved quickly out the door.
            Irene kicked the side of the workbench the moment her copy left. Why on earth would I think that this time would work better than the others?  she thought.  No matter how much worse I word the story, I open up to receive the same responses, that this is something ok. Well, I can’t say how, but this is not ok, she cried as she stared at the ever-blue sky that had made her the most alone she ever could have hoped for.