Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Last Astronomer

The fuzzy glow of terminals filled the room. Charlie sat with his mouth gaping and his head thrown back, occasionally stirring. His chair creaked and whined in protest with Charlie’s every breath; its cracked features taught and stressed seemed to fit him like a glove. From the polidynium observation dome at the corner of the room, the sun emerged from the dark crescent surface of Earth. The electric hum buzzed calm and unending.
“It is now Seven AM, Charlie. It is time to wake up.” A smooth female voice spoke as the entire room began to slowly fill with light, becoming slightly brighter with each passing moment.
Charlie snorted and grimaced, rolling over to find another position as he brought his arms to his eyes.
“It is now Seven AM, Charlie. It is time to wake up.” The voice repeated with the exact same inflection, the words like warm butter.
The room became brighter and Charlie sharply grumbled something unintelligible and began to curl into a ball while covering his head even further.
“It is now Seven…”
“I know what bloody time it is you witch!” Charlie yelped from is chair, “I heard you the first damn time!”
“..AM. It is time to…” The voice paused as Charlie spoke. “ I have prepared your tea for this morning. A Darjeeling black blend without cream or sugar.” A compartment emerged near the bed to Charlie’s left, and there was a lit white mug, steaming.
Charlie sat up slowly and through wrinkled and squinted eyes, he glared at the tea and sighed. He rose from his chair with one hand on his lower back and the other gripping the armrest; a cacophony of cracks, snaps, and pops as he rose.
He hobbled and winced his way to the steaming tea and gripped it with two hands and then limped to the observation dome, making quite the effort. He stopped at the edge, unwilling to climb into the center and placed one arm on the rim. Breathless and staring out at the orbital sunrise, he took a sip and swallowed.
“Charlie, it appears your Arthritis symptoms are growing worse since your last visit to the surface. I have increased the dosage of Trimetridone in your tea by 16%.”
Charlie looked down at the steaming cup in his hands and frowned. “I can tell.”
“You have neglected your sleep cycles, this will only increase the rate of your deterioration. I recommend that we increa-…”
Charlie waved his hand and made some incomprehensible sounds interrupting the voice.
“That’s quite enough of that, please. Did I receive any communications while I slept?”
“Yes, you have a video log from your former colleague Vasili Lomonosov. Would you like me to play it?”
Charlie had been waiting for this. This was the news Vasili was going to tell him and it hurt before he even heard a word of it. He took a deep breath.
“Yes. Play.”
The main terminal displayed an image of a grayed man at a cluttered desk. His haves crossed as he rested on his elbows. His uniform was torn in several places.
“Hello Charlie, I hope you are well. I know it has been some time since we last spoke and I do apologize, but you know how things can get. Things haven’t been…ideal here recently. The global conservation effort has been tough on most of us, especially people at our age.” Vasili looked down, breaking eye contact.
“I… I regret to inform you that my lab has been officially decommissioned in the wake of the new Terra Conservation shutdowns to conserve power and resources. Unfortunately scientific endeavor has taken a backseat to survival in this case."
"My equipment and data will no longer be available for use in the scans. I can give you some of my latest extrapolations and a few unrefined coordinates before they take me offline, but I'm afraid that is it. I'm sorry.”
Vasili chuckled softly and stifled a cough, “Ah Charlie, if only we all were so lucky to have that fully self-sustaining research station of yours. Anyway, I wish you luck my old friend. We may not have much time left, so please, go easy on yourself. Goodbye for now.”
Charlie stared at the screen in pause and softly sighed into his cup, displacing the wisps of steam.
“Computer, are there any other quantum arrays resources that we can utilize?”
“Negative. The Randal Moore Array was the last functioning resource that could contribute to your search effort and it has been taken offline as of 14:00 GMT.”
Charlie turned to the Earth and began walking to the observation dome. He didn’t grimace as he walked this time, and his chest was raised. With one hand to support him on the edge of the dome, he stared over the Earth among the abyss. There were things to be found out there and he was going to find them. After all, no one else would - he was the last astronomer.
He sipped his tea and exhaled.
“Run the array at the new set of coordinates.”
“That data is incomplete. The population of systems is too broad to extrapolate a meaningful response.”
“That’s fine. Run them.”
“Dr. Lomonosov’s customary vocal greeting is included in the standard message. Due to his absence in this scan, would you like me to record a new vocal message?”
“I suppose.” Charlie barely replied, still transfixed on the view.
“I have Dr. Lomonosov’s script, would you like me to provide it for your own message?”
“No. No, I don’t think that would be appropriate,”
“What would you like to say?”
“Is anyone out there?” He muttered almost in a whisper.
“Very well, I’ll begin the transmission.”
Charlie fell asleep in his bed that night, an event that had become increasingly rare. He turned in fits, longing for the comfort of his chair. The electric hum was unending.
“Charlie, there has been an anomalous reading.”
Charlie woke, groggy and coughed. “I thought we discussed not waking me for another god damn satellite interference discovery.”
“The telemetry does not match any known human signatures.”
There was a still pause, the electric hum faded into a hot flush on Charlie’s face; a ringing in his ears. His stomach turned - this was it.
He stood and ran to the main console.
“Can we extrapolate the data? Where is it from?”
“The data is organized; I am referencing all known forms of data interpretation. Source is unknown.”
Charlie typed faster than he had in years examining the signal.
“There was almost an instant lock on the array. How is that possible?”
“The telemetry does not match any known human signatures.”
“Damn… this is big.”
Charlie stared at the stream of data as the computer identified patterns in the stream. First one, then three, then eleven, then thirty.
“Charlie, I have extrapolated the data. It is a response to your vocal message.”
Charlie opened his mouth but there were no words, only the electric hum. His quivering hand reached towards the console to support him.
“What… what does it say?”
“Displaying on main terminal…”
On the screen, before the last astronomer, before Earth and the abyss there was one word amidst a sea of data.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Viper Pt.1

The Viper 
Part One

It had rained for what felt like weeks in the Alder forest and sunlight was a welcomed change. It had finally peeked from the clouds in the evening just as the setting sun cast beams through the hazy autumn dusk, deep in the misty woods.

Through the tops of the trees a large raven deftly danced through branches with vigorous pace. As it moved through the wooden web, it cawed and flapped its pitch-colored wings mere inches from jagged fingers.

 “Og-hur!” it croaked. The bird came to a perch on a tree and scanned the fogged forest floor erratically. “Og-hur,” it said again and took flight in a slightly different direction.

Gwyn held out his leather-wrapped arm as the bird landed; the gale briefly blowing his long white hair into a mess.

“Og-hur,” the raven cawed; its head bobbing

Gwyn took out some seeds from a pouch on his side and fed the bird some seed. It will be night soon; I need to find this beast. He stared hard at the animal and spoke softly, “Where?”

The raven turned and leapt off Gwyn’s arm and flew to a branch only a few paces away and perched. It hoped backwards and awaited Gwyn’s approach.

“Og-hur,” it cried as it fluttered its wings. “Shhh,” Gwyn motioned a single finger to his lips and silenced the bird.

The raven leap from the branch and landed at a near-by tree awaiting its master. Gwyn stalked with a stealthy precaution and slowly unsheathed his dagger and sword. The blades glistened with a milky-amber shine as the sunbeams collided with their steel.

After a few paces Gwyn picked up on the foul scent; an odor that was unlike anything else. Ogre. Rotten stink and swampy musk assailed his nostrils. I hate ogres.

He came to a large oak and peered around it’s trunk to see the beast. It was hunched over itself in the middle of a destroyed camp with embers scattered around what was a campfire. The ogre gorged itself on the remains of whoever occupied this camp, by Gwyn’s guess. Humans. With a sickening crunch, the ogre discarded a half-eaten torso, unmistakably female. It landed grotesquely at the base of a tree surrounded by the remains of the others.

Gwyn’s stare narrowed and he clenched his jaw. He gripped his blades tight and placed a foot forward to advance towards the hulking abomination. As his foot fell, a twig broke and he froze instantly. The ogre ceased its meal and jerked his head to the right, the motion rippling the skin and muscle on the monster’s neck and back. It sniffed, turned its head again, and paused for frightening moment before continuing its meal.

A bead of sweat dripped from Gwyn’s brow. That was too close, too careless. He inched forward again and picked up speed to close the distance. The ogre paused its feast, noticing a presence and began a guttural growl, but Gwyn was fast. Now! Gwyn leaped through the air onto the monster’s back, driving his dagger deep into the back of its neck until he felt bone.  

The ogre let out a roar as its hands went flailing at its back. Gwyn let go and kicked off to a safe distance. It stood as quickly as its stubby legs would permit and wrenched the dagger free, flinging it into the sea of leaves. It turned and roared as it began charging. Gwyn readied his sword and ran towards the beast poised for attack. The ogre clumsily lurched forward and raised its arms to pummel the man. At the last second Gwyn slid feet first under the beast, savagely slicing its thigh with a flash of steel. The ogre wailed and stumbled forward, unable to stop under its momentum. It crashed into the oak tree, snapping it in half with the loud pop of splintering wood. The ogre remained stunned for a moment under the fallen oak.

Gwyn stood up and began to strafe, sword raised in his hand. He was breathing heavily and drenched with sweat, his heart was racing yet his eyes were still narrowly focused on the monster. Come on you bastard. The ogre began to get up and ripped the debris off of him in a howling rage. The beast stood and began to charge again, emboldened by its fury. Gwyn stood still, awaiting the ogre’s approach.

As the ogre swung, Gwyn dodged to its side and buried his sword into the beast’s flank. The sword wedged deep into the meaty flesh and Gwyn could not pull it free. Before Gwyn had time to react, the ogre’s massive arm backhanded him with enough force to throw him through the air. He abruptly landed on his shoulder and a fiery pain shot through his arm. Fuck me, I’m getting sloppy.

Through gritted teeth, Gwyn tried to stand but he was overwhelmed by the intense pain in his arm. The ogre roared, exhaling a foul, noxious breath and charge. Gwyn kicked at the leaves and dirt furiously to gain a footing but failed. The ogre reared and raised his hand to obliterate him under its gargantuan fist.

A black flutter of feathers swooped in at the ogres face, clawing at its eyes and darting away only to turn in and press an attack once more.

“Og-hur!” The raven cried again and again as it ferociously thrashed at the ogres face, weaving about the creature’s slow arms.

Gwyn hesitated for moment as he starred at the ogre try in vain to swat at his raven. I’ll have to thank that bird. There was a sudden shimmer of steel under some leaves only a few feet from Gwyn. He awkwardly hobbled towards the glint while the ogre was preoccupied with the raven.  

He grabbed the hilt off the ground and gracefully wrapped his fingers around the grip until the leather creaked. The dagger fit so perfectly in his hand that it felt like anther limb. Gwyn felt the revitalizing confidence of his blade and stood to rush the ogre.

The ogre noticed Gwyn’s sudden movement and turned his attention away from the bird. Gwyn feinted to the left, then jumped to the right and narrowly missed the monstrously huge fists as they slammed into the ground. He leapt into the air and thrust the dagger under the beats jaw, driving the blade upward into its skull.

Like an extinguished flame, the ogre went limp and its eyes rolled backwards, inches from Gwyn’s face. The force of Gwyn jumping off the ogre’s chest sent it falling backwards, hitting the ground with a deep thud.

The raven flew up to Gwyn’s shoulder and perched. “Vi-per,” it cawed.

“The Viper,” Gwyn thought. I have always hated that name. He reached into his pocket with his good arm and pulled out some seeds for the bird. He wiped the trickle of blood from his temple and approached the corpse. He wrenched free his sword, but had to place his foot on the beasts head to free his dagger.

Gwyn wiped them clean and placed them back in their sheaths. He began pacing towards the nearest town with his arm in a makeshift sling over his shoulder.

There will always be monsters. Gwyn didn’t know why, but he had an awful feeling that something much worse was lurking around the corner. It usually was.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I haven't updated in a while but I wanted to share some things I've written recently. I haven't worked out the kinks in my novel quite yet, so instead of pulling out my hair in frustration when I get stuck, I just work on other things. 


“Be careful with that,” Tyce said with his grizzled, raspy voice as he stoked the fire. “The edge is coated with Oleander. Very poisonous.”

Elya’s brow furrowed as she turned the dagger over in her hands.

“Ah, I see. This is for the kill then. The King?” she asked.

Tyce nodded and stopped prodding the embers. He nudged a little closer and slid his hand to her bare knee.

“Why, yes it is. Very risky, but good money. Very good.”

Elya frowned, her expression twisted with concern.

“Don’t worry dear, I’m a professional.” He gave a wry smile and caressed her leg. 

Elya puffed. “You should hire me to do it!” She mockingly prodded the dagger at him.

Tyce gave a hearty laugh. “Who would be so foolish to hire such a lovely damsel as you to be an assassin?”

Elya returned a crisp, pointed smile as she eased the dagger towards his neck.

“The King.” She said.


The sword does not smile
When blade cuts and stings
The mace does not dwell
on the malice it brings

The axe cannot weep
When red stains its head
The dagger cannot profit
From alley man dead

Fear not the shiv
the arrow or sling
Fear not the claymore
fit to slay kings

Fear but the Hand
and murderous sight
For anything's a weapon
when it's held just right 

Last Words

Walking past her room I shuddered
The cold, piercing thought uncovered
The aching weakness of my shell
As I wondered what of death she’d tell

Someone called and as I feared
Her last moment was almost near
Through door I went with pounding chest
To hear sweet things from her last breath

Looking at her lying there
I lost my tongue, I found no air
Stalked by specter, scythe in hand
Her life now falling grains of sand

Longing for words to ease my mind
I came forward and hoped to find
Whispers of meaning, of soul at peace

But I only heard my own heart beat

The first piece is kind of my interpretation of a Jeffrey Whitmore piece with a fantasy spin to it. I'd really like to become more comfortable writing in this style, it's a lot of fun. 

I've already shared the two poems with a few friends and they've given me great feedback. I really need to try and venture aware form the familiar quatrain ABAB style rhyme scheme. It's really fun for me to try and convey ideas with this structure, it's almost like a word jigsaw puzzle that I have to assemble. I'd like to try and do something a bit more modern, though. 

What do you think? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



Bright blue and white light poured into the cockpit illuminating every panel inside. Even with the heavy filter to dim the light, a thunderstorm from orbit was truly a site to behold. It was a raging chasm from up high, churning and flashing as the clouds billowed with the storm. A constellation of  lights occasionally twinkled through the blanket of gray and white as the storm marauded across the metropolis-strewn surface.

Emery’s view screen was replete with a panorama of Earth in its full splendor, alive and stunning in front of her. She sat lax in her harness in her full V.A.C. suit, transfixed on the view; her hands still clutching both the controls as ambient jazz was playing throughout the compartment. Even through a helmet’s visor, it was a spectacular sight, a sight she frequently observed. This far off the route, away from the lanes and impulse gates and the chatter, she was always reminded of why she loved being a pilot.  

Emery hummed a sigh and closed her eyes. The fabric of her gloves made a creaking sound in protest as she released the yoke levers and moved to cross her arms behind her head. She pressed the white button near her leg and the restraining harnesses swiftly disconnected and zipped into the chair, releasing her.

“Hell of a view, that Earth.” she said out loud, leaning backwards and floating up and away from the chair, legs crossed.

Emery took a deep breath and exhaled, fogging her visor for a moment as she lay suspended in weightlessness. She took in the Jazz playing over the speakers. Sometimes it felt like there wasn’t much in the world that understood her, the people she met knew her face and occasionally her smile; those that were closer knew her more like a familiar song, but nothing quite so personal - and then there was Jazz. The music was felt, not heard.

As she lay suspended about the cabin, she drifted into a dazed stare at nothing in particular. She started blankly until the reflection of a flashing green light began to illuminate her ceiling. She leaned her head towards her dash to see the COMM hologram on her view screen glowing. Emery quickly snapped out of her daze when she read the name: PONCE, T.

She rotated forward and pressed gently on the ceiling to push her towards her dash. Still Floating, Emery reached over and pressed the glass, sliding upwards with her finger to open the channel. She was greeted by a cacophony of shouting, drilling, and metallic whines. Emery wasn't surprised.

“About God damn time Ponce, whatcha got?” Emery said with urgent concern.

“Kid, we just scanned down some heavy debris fields near the Yaris B gate,” A man shouted over the sounds, “The haul looks good by the initial analysis. I’m forwarding the coordinates on to you now.”

A series of coordinates populated the view screen, making quick course adjustments. The calculation stopped and read:


Emery smirked and reached for the projected course on her screen and slid it to the side with a fluid diagonal motion.

"We can’t confirm if it's been tagged yet, better get there quick." Ponce said sarcastically.

“Any other scavies inbound?” she asked as her hands moved deftly across the screen, entering in manual course adjustments.

Ponce responded with a throaty chuckle and spoke with some playful concern, “Someone picked up the Mantis en route near that sector about 30 seconds ago.”

Emery straddled the seat and pressed the white button; the harness restraints slithered around her, pulling her taught to the forwardly angled chair.

“Hell, that’s all you had to say Ponce!” She laughed.

“If that son of a bitch Layne thinks he can outrun the Ceryneian in his half ass ship…” Emery mocked, trailing off as she slightly shook her head.

Emery grabbed the yokes and snapped one back a few inches as she feathered the pedal at her right foot. The ship quickly rotated about its middle as the front and opposing rear vectoring thrusters fired in short corrective bursts.

“Give em’ Hell, Fawkes. Don’t get yourself killed.” Ponce said calmly.

“No Promises big guy.” Emery said as she closed the channel.

Emery made some quick motions to disable to thrust inhibitors, she diverted power from her life support to her engines and the particle deflector array and flicked a switch on her dash to begin preheating the burners. A saxophone solo came over her speakers; it’s swiftly ascending and falling melodies arcing through the cockpit. Emery reached for a panel to her left and slid a finger quickly from bottom to top and the music began to blare through the speakers as the soloist carried on. It was so loud she could hardly hear her own thoughts – just the way she liked it.

Emery tightened her grip and felt the Ceryneian humming all around her, as eager as she was. Her lips manufactured a wry smile and she felt her stomach lurch with anticipation. She curled the throttle on both yokes and felt the restraining harness begin to resist the motion.

Emery looked out at the darkness and with a fierce confidence she slammed the yoke levers forward, punching through space with speed and agility. At this speed, she was certain that nothing, no ship or person or ghost could ever catch her.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

As I think, so shall I become...

A pretty ubiquitous theme in my blogs, posts, and videos is my desire to be a successful writer.

Writing for a living is really the only thing I can see my self doing when I imagine any future or outcome of my youth; it's just the only "career" that makes sense. I've been writing for a while now, which leads me to believe I understand a fair amount of the craft. I'm not an expert and I'm certainly not a master of the art, but I am familiar with the tropes, the plot devices, characterization, pitfalls, etc. I'm familiar with these "tools of the trade" to the point where I'm confident I can discuss it ad nauseam with anyone who'd listen.

So, if I'm so confident about my understanding of the topic and the bits and pieces that make up the craft, why am I so afraid to share what I've made?

At times I'm amazed and ashamed of how juvenile I can be at my age, and this fear of sharing what I make really tops the list. It's silly to fear criticism or reproach for the things I write and I know that, but that has not created within me any comfort or lack of fear. I understand the irrationality of the urge to avoid exposure and where the fear resides, but none of this diminishes the fear itself. It's irrational, that's just how fear works.

Really, the crutch of my problems are pretty contingent upon a few core fears:

1. What if I pour my heart into in something, share it, and have it thrown back at me because people don't like it.
2. What if I'm told that I should strongly consider pursuing another career, that even my best is a far cry from "good writing."

I feel almost silly after writing them down. I fully understand the flaws in this kind of thinking and the circular, self-fulfilling logic they create. For starters, no matter my audience, not matter my content, someone wont like it. That is something I need to learn to deal with, because it's okay if someone just doesn't like my work.

Secondly, and really the more frightening of the two, is the very real possibility that for all my trying and wanting, I really could just be terrible at writing. I have a relatively tough skin about most things, I'm not stranger to harsh words, but hearing that I'm not cut out for this, or that in spite of it all it's just not something I should pursue would crush me.

Again, I understand that these are irrational. I don't think someone is going to tell me my work is shit or that I should reconsider my career choices - but the fear is still real, and it's preventing me from trying.

I'm a big fan of conditioned psychology, so I feel that the only real solution here is to immerse myself in an environment where these fears have a really good chance of occurring so that I can experience them and understand that they won't in fact "crush me." I just have to accept that the only way I can grow as a writer is with criticism, failure, and hard work. If someone doesn't tell me what I write is shit once in a while, I'm not going to know what works and what doesn't.

So, I'm going to give it a shot. I don't think I have a large audience here, and I like that for now, but I'm going to put up a lot of what I write anyway, and in the off chance that someone reads it, I want to know what they think.