Friday Flash: (poem) “Space”

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SPACE

Losing consciousness

My last breath

crystallizes on the

window

Life and air and warmth

inches from my face

but an eternity away

 
 
So close

My lungs freeze

as I float into infinity

The stars reach for me…

 
 
Supplies and air enough for one survivor.
 
 

What will you tell the rescue ship when asked

about my absence?

Will you survive the airlock

once they learn of your

betrayal?

 
 
My last sight –

your grim smile

as you darken

the pane

 
 
 

*image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Centers photostream via Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

As always, polite feedback is always appreciated. I’m especially interested in any comments for this particular poem, because I was experimenting with this way of telling a story.

 

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Friday Flash: Smitty’s Problem

Smitty sat on the bench and wondered what he was going to do about his oh-so-embarrassing problem.

Girls noticed right away. Many wouldn’t say anything, of course; merely giggle and look down at the offending area. What could he say? What could he do to reduce his… well, to be delicate, his *dilemma*…

His male buddies were usually not so discrete. They’d make a face and comment, but when the problem failed to be resolved – not for hours, but months, and then YEARS,… well, he’d seen every doctor he could, but they all scratched their heads in puzzlement and sent him on to someone else. A never-ending line of physicians that saw no cure – nevermind his increasing discomfort! However, they did apparently see a paper they could publish in their near futures…

Smitty eventually found himself alone. And making new friends was impossible in this sort of situation. The problem was too obnoxious for polite company.

At least outdoors, in sandals, his feet could breathe and the fresh park air dispelled the noxious odor. A brief respite from his own company, and plenty of room for others to give him – and THEM – a wide berth.

 

*written at the sixminutestory site under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

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Books I Read in 2014

I know this is a few days late for a New Year post, but it’s the first weekend of the New Year, so I think I can get away with it. Anyway it’s my first post of the New Year! I stole… er, BORROWED the idea for this from a blog post by @JohnBooth, author of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek. I’ve actually read several posts about this sort of thing, but John’s was the most interesting and the one that sticks out in my mind.

 

Also, this past year was the first time I consistently was able to keep track of the books I read, because I was trying to win a free bookstore gift card from my friendly neighborhood library. I know that I’ve posted about books I’ve enjoyed before, but maybe something in my list might be of interest to you. I’m not sure what everyone counts as books, but I count pretty much everything – paperbacks, graphic novels, e-books, and audiobooks. Anyway, Happy New Year!

 

BOOKS I READ IN 2014

1. MIND NOISE by Helen Howell  A wonderful novella by my lovely Twitter pal and fellow #FridayFlash-er, Helen, about a gifted child in a perilous situation.

2. DHARMA OF STAR WARS by Matt Bortolin  I’m actually rereading this right now, so this also doubles also my first read of 2015. It’s a wonderful guide for the layperson who would like to learn about Buddhism in the context of the Star Wars movies. It’s quick and easy-to-understand, offering both an introduction to the philosophy and an interesting insight for the current practitioner.

3. THE WALKING DEAD: volume 1 DAYS GONE BYE (graphic novel) – by Kirkman and Moore    Does this really need an introduction? The obvious inspiration for the hit television series, the graphic novel differs enough to still be interesting to those already acquainted with the other storyline.

4. BETWEEN TWO THORNS by Emma Newman  A lovely fantasy by another #FridayFlash-er

5. LAST GOD STANDING by Michael Boatman  A very odd look at the Abrahamic God as a stand up comedian. It was very weird, and I both hated and loved it.

6. THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR by Kirkman and Bonansinga  This was actually a novel that I read as an e-book, rather than a graphic novel. I couldn’t put it down. It fulfilled the title’s promise to reveal the origin of the series’ most notorious villain, but I can’t say I actually enjoyed the book because it was so disturbing.

7. HOGFATHER by Terry Pratchett  For those unfamiliar with Pratchett’s work, he’s primarily known for his Discworld novels; these humorous fantasies do take place in the same universe and sometimes share the same characters, but each novel is a stand-alone. This particular book features the Disc World’s equivalent of Santa.

8. BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS by Kurt Vonnegut (audiobook) I checked this out of the library on the recommendation of another Twitter buddy of mine, Paul Weimer. The plot is really, really odd but comes together in an unexpected way. Though I’m generally not a big fan of Vonnegut’s writing, I did enjoy this one.

9. HOOT by Carl Hiaasan  (audiobook) This one I checked out for World Book Night, because it was the book selection I was given to hand out in my local community… as a paperback, not an audiobook. It’s a Middle-Grade novel about a Huck Finn-ish character that gets the new kid in town involved in environmental activism. It was a pretty fun story to listen to.

10. CINDER (The Lunar Chronicles: book 1)  by M. Meyer   This is a science fiction take on Cinderella. Poor Cinder is a cyborg in a society that looks down on them as less than human. I also reviewed this for Functional Nerds, but the biggest warning I can give you is that this series is so AWESOME you will be completely addicted to the world Meyer’s created and the characters in it. YOU MUST READ THIS.

11. THE ENCELADUS CRISIS by M.J. Martinez   I’m just going to link to reviews I’ve already done from here on out, but this book blends fantasy and science fiction.

12. TAINTED by A.E. Rought  BROKEN may have been a gripping science-fiction version of Frankenstein, but this sequel puts it to shame. Another MUST READ.

13. DOCTOR WHO: THE SILENT STARS GO BY (Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary)  For the 50th Anniversary, several novels and novellas were released (or rereleased) to highlight each of the incarnations of the good Doctor. This novel features Eleven, along with companions Amy and Rory, as they face off with yet another set of Doctor Who villains, namely the Ice Warriors.

14. WIZARD by Helen Howell   Another excellent fantasy that hasn’t quite been published yet, but when it is everyone should read it!

15. CINDERELLA: FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVE by Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus (graphic novel)    This is really cool story about Cinderella as a spy whose cover is as a glamorous celebrity that owns a chain of shoe stores.

16. THE CHRONIC ARGONAUTS by H.G. Wells (graphic novel by Jason Quinn and Russ Leach…) A great story featuring time-travel! Surprised, right?

17. FLATLAND by Edwin A. Abbott  (e-book)  A classic novel that illustrates the concepts of higher and lower dimensions with an engaging story that’s part adventure, part philosophy, and part satire. There’s a reason this is a classic, folks!

18. HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams (audiobook)  This is my favorite book, one that I’ve read and reread many times over, and the audiobook is wonderful as well.

19. SCARLETT (The Lunar Chronicles: book 2)  by M. Meyer  The science-fiction, fairy tale saga of Cinder continues with this original take on Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

20. APOLOGY OF SOCRATES (audiobook) Again, does this really need a description?

21. THE GHOST TRAIN TO NEW ORLEANS by Mur Lafferty  This sequel to THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY is full of the same intrigue, creatures, and humor as its predecessor.

22. GOBLIN QUEST (Goblin series: book 1) by Jim C. Hines   I was late coming to this particular series, but it was worth the wait. Jig the Goblin is a reluctant, yet endearing, unlikely hero when a band of adventurers ventures into his goblin cave.

23. DOCTOR WHO: FUGITIVE (volume 1) (graphic novel) This was a great deal I obtained through Humble Bundle, a wonderfully illustrated graphic novel featuring Doctor number 10.

24. THE CROSSOVER by Larry Kollar  When I read this adorably nerdy novel by my Twitter buddy and fellow #FridayFlash-er, Larry, I loved it. Fantasy characters transported to our own mundane world, mixing with geeks and gamesters. What’s not to love?

25. THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE by Douglas Adams (audiobook) See #18.

26. CRESS (The Lunar Chronicles: book 3)  by M. Meyer  Continuing to blend science fiction and fairytales, Meyer introduces the character of Cress, a hacker trapped on a satellite in this futuristic take on Rapunzel.

27. GOBLIN HERO (Goblin series: book 2) by Jim C. Hines  A funny sequel to Goblin Quest featuring poor Jig the Goblin and some of his fellows as they face off against an invading horde of…. fairies.

28. TITUS ANDRONICUS (Shakespeare audio)  This horror play makes the most chilling Stephen King novel look like child’s play.

29. THE ODYSSEY by Homer (Fagles translation)  I borrowed this for a class I was taking online, and what I liked most about this was the how this translation was so easy to understand. I thought I was already familiar with the Odyssey though the other adaptations I had read, but I was wrong. Another MUST READ for the mythology lover!

30. THEOGONY by Hesiod (e-book) A poem about the origins of the Greek gods.

31. 1984 by George Orwell (e-book) Another book in my top ten that I have reread many times.

32. DOCTOR WHO: AGENT PROVOCATEUR by Gary Russell and Nick Roche (graphic novel)   This novel features Doctor number 10 along with his companion, Martha.

33. THE WALKING DEAD: volume 2 (graphic novel) – by Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn    See item #3.

34. THE WALKING DEAD: volume 3 (graphic novel) – by Kirkman and Adlard   See item #33.

35. THE WALKING DEAD: volume 4 (graphic novel) – by Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn  See item #34.

36. THE WALKING DEAD: volume 5 (graphic novel) – by Kirkman, Adlard, and Rathburn  See item #35.

37. INTO THE ICEBOUND by Larry Kollar  Another book in the Accidental Sorcerers series, you don’t need to be familiar with the other novels to enjoy this story!

38. THE AGAMEMNON of Aeschylus     The first play of the Oresteid Trilogy!

39. THE GIRL WHO TWEETED WOLF (Hobson and Choi: Case 1) by Nick Bryan   I originally started reading this as weekly installments for #TuesdaySerial, but I quickly became enamored with Bryan’s writing style, world, and characters.

40. JERICHO: SEASON 3 (CIVIL WAR)  (graphic novel)  When the cult television series ended on a cliffhanger after only two seasons, the story continued on in graphic novel form. It’s awesome.

41. GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin (audiobook)  An excellent story, heavy on the political intrigue and backstabbing, with a dash of fantasy thrown in. The audio was read well. A very addictive series.

42. BOUND SOULS by Eric J. Krause  A steamy, supernatural romance!

43. JERICHO: SEASON 4  (graphic novel)   See item #40.

44. DOCTOR WHO: TESSERACT (graphic novel) The Tenth Doctor and Martha go on another epic adventure!

45. DEATH WARMED OVER by Kevin J. Anderson  (e-book) When a zombie detective investigates his own murder, aided by his ghost girlfriend and a human lawyer, what can go wrong?

46. CODE BREAKERS by Colin F. Barnes (e-book)   I got this one on the cheap through BookBub (I think) and though it wasn’t my favorite book, it was interesting enough to almost be worth what I paid for it.

47. INTO THE FIRE, PART 1 WOLVES by C. Gockel (e-book)  Humorous and addictive, these novels follow the exploits of the Norse god, Loki, and his human companion throughout this world as well as several others. I raced through this series. The first book is free, but you have been warned: It IS addictive!

48. INTO THE FIRE, PART 2 MONSTERS by C. Gockel (e-book)  See item #47.

49. JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL by Richard Bach (paperback)  A sweet novella about an outcast seagull who learns to transform himself and ultimately teaches others how to progress in their lives.

50. INTO THE FIRE, PART 3 CHAOS by C. Gockel (e-book)  See item #48.

51. INTO THE FIRE, PART 3.5 IN THE BALANCE by C. Gockel (e-book)  See item #50.

52. INTO THE FIRE, PART 4 FATE by C. Gockel (e-book)  See item #51.

53. INTO THE FIRE, PART 5 WARRIORS by C. Gockel (e-book)  See item #52.

54. STAR WARS, THE OLD REPUBLIC: REVAN (audiobook)  The voice work on this audiobook was great, though the story itself didn’t grab me in the same way as other Star Wars stories I’ve read. What’s interesting about the characters, however, is that it features several characters that use both the dark side and light side of the Force at different times in their lives.

55. BLINK by Larry Kollar  (e-book) I was privileged to be given a copy of this humorous superhero story, which is currently being released in installments on the author’s blog. It’s worth a read!

56. SHATTERED SHIELDS (e-book) edited by B. T. Schmidt and Jennifer Brozek  This anthology of military science-fiction and fantasy short stories features strong, realistic characters of both sexes in believable situations and interesting, sometimes heart wrenching, stories. My biggest complaint would be that I wanted each story to last longer.

57. THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE by Douglas Adams (e-book)  Yes, I know I listened to the audiobook and I’ve also read this as an e-book before (2013). I have a problem, okay?

58. DOCTOR WHO: THE STONE ROSE by J. Rayner   This was one of the better Doctor Who novels I’ve read with the Tenth Doctor. Rose and the Doctor visit ancient Rome after Mickey discovers a statue of Rose in the British Museum. Unfortunately, Rose must learn to be careful what she wishes for.

59. DOCTOR WHO: ONLY HUMAN by Gareth Roberts (Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary)  The Ninth Doctor and his companions discover a Neanderthal in modern day Britain. While Captain Jack stays behind to instruct the poor creature on contemporary living, Rose accompanies the Doctor back to prehistoric times to solve the mystery of the Neanderthal’s temporal displacement, only to discover futuristic humans living in the past. I couldn’t stop reading this, and I could never have predicted the plot in a million years. Another MUST READ.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get to #60. I decided to go to a party that night instead. :)

If any of these selections interest you, you can either follow the links or google the titles. Except for comics I obtained through incredible Humble Bundle deals, I bought most through Comixology because I enjoy their Guided View Reading tech. It zooms in on panels so I can read my comics even on small screens like my cell phone. Audiobooks I mostly checked out through my local library or downloaded for free. I also got several deals on free or cheap e-books through BookBub. A lot of the series, as I stated within the list, I got hooked on through an initial free e-book, so buyer (or consumer of free stuff), beware!

I will try to get back on a semi-regular posting schedule again in the next few weeks. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year!

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POEM: Twas Four Nights Before Christmas

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Twas four nights before Christmas

And all down the street

Carolers were singing

Despite frozen feet

The curtains were drawn

Inside windows with care

In the hope that street urchins

Would not come and stare

At each home’s occupants

In their striped underwear

 

Not to be deterred they came

Their voices so sweet

Carolers were singing

Despite residents’ retreats

Into their closets

Their bedrooms upstairs

In the hope that the children

Would no longer be there

Instead they sang on and

Rapped the windows downstairs

 

Twas four nights before Christmas

and all down the street

Children were walking

Despite frozen feet

They sang to closed doorways

They sang to closed drapes

In the hopes that Christmas cheer

Would not escape

the hearts of the inmates

In each darkened place

 

Twas four nights before Christmas

And all down the street

Traffic would have been blocked

By  small frozen feet

Despite numerous traffic laws

And multiple violations

One lone car honked back

In concurrent jubilation

 

Twas four nights before Christmas

A few houses, it’s true,

Opened doors to the children

With smiles painted blue

The doors were opened

To the small faces singing

Holiday greetings to all

Their voices were ringing

Christmas cheer in the air

They certainly were bringing

 

Twas four nights before Christmas

And some doorways opened

A few handed out cookies

And other small tokens

They stood in their bathrobes

Swathed in cotton and smiles

Despite the chill in the air

They stood there awhile

Silent Night and then Frosty

Warmed that chill air awhile

 

Twas four nights before Christmas

And all down the block

They would spread Christmas cheer

To all –  like it or not

Most doorways were closed,

Darkened, or empty,

But the ones that were opened

Had spirit aplenty

And joyful tidings to share

Warmed hearts and smiles plenty

 

So Seasons Greetings to all

No matter your inclination

Now go drink some warm cocoa

And for Heaven’s sake get inside and warm yourself by a fire before you catch your death of cold

 

* Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

** Of course, the rhythm was loosely based on that wonderful poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore. However, this poem was inspired by a night’s carolling with my good friend, Stephanie, and her lovely daughter, Sammi, and their friends. Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Friday Flash: Knives

Knives

 

Knives.

 

KNIVES.

 

What was she going to use them on next?

 

The silver blades shimmered in the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window, capturing her image on their gleaming silver surfaces before she turned away to grab another freshly scrubbed potato from the colander in the shining, porcelain sink. Chop chop chop, went the blade, smooth up-and-down motions repeated again and again, reducing the vegetable before her into ever smaller and smaller bits.

 

She loved these new knives, worth every penny. It made her want to chop something else, to test their abilities, to watch the thin blades slice through produce, flesh, and other materials like butter.

 

She stabbed the knife she was using into the counter, but instead it sliced clean through.

 

Brilliant!

 

She ran into the bedroom, grabbed a pair of old boots and chopped away. Piece of cake!

 

Smiling grimly, she eyed the discarded Barbie doll in the corner.

 

Worth. Every. Penny.

 

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*inspired by a prompt from the six minute story site. My #FridayFlash posting has been edited slightly from the original.

**The photo above is of a craft project I completed at the local Maker Space.

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Friday Flash: Creamsicle Tower

ice_in-bottle

 

The Potentate surveyed his creamsicle tower coolly.

Lord Howard stood behind him, rigid, hands neatly behind his back, and cleared his throat. Loudly.

The monarch continued to regard the sweet monstrosity before him.

Finally, Lord Howard stepped forward and addressed his sovereign ruler. “Sire,” he said, polite and yet as frigid as the ice-cream on the table. “The people in your kingdom have barely enough to eat, let alone food to play with.” His eyes darted to the large dairy-based castle slowly melting onto the linen tablecloth. “If you aren’t going to eat your dessert, you shouldn’t have taken it.”

The five year old dressed in the trappings of wealth and status shifted uncomfortably in his red velvet seat, a look of utmost discontent upon his face.

More tenderly, the Lord took out a silken kerchief and wiped the child’s face.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**inspired by a prompt from the six minute story site.

 

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Writing Prompt #123

 

The countdown had begun.

 

 

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Friday Flash: Wine

My schedule and frame of mind have both been a little out of it for the past week or so, so I’m pulling out and dusting off one of my stories from the six minute story site for this week’s Friday Flash. I may do this a few times over the next month, so I hope you enjoy them.

If you aren’t already familiar with the six minute story site, you should visit and check it out. It’s well worth six minutes of your time. :)

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Wine

If money was the root of all evil, then wine must surely be a close second.

Jasper gazed through the rosy depths of the wine glass in his hand, observing the scene beyond with quiet detachment. Wine had always mellowed him, left him with a feeling a pleasurable distance from his surroundings, as though nothing that happened would effect him at all. He remembered his girlfriend’s anger at his apparent coldness when she informed him of her condition, the way she had yelled and screamed and beat her fists against him as he silently took in her news, analysed the situation, and came to a calm and logical solution.

As he viewed her prostrate form, bent slightly as its image passed through the rounded glass, he admired the beauty of the merlot’s hue against what would otherwise have appeared cold and dead. Its rosy glow surrounded her like a halo.

Was it Emerson who said that the beautiful was God’s handwriting? Jasper smiled and set about worshipping another glass.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**inspired by a prompt from sixminutestory.com

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Friday Flash: Superpowered

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Harvey Draper strolled down the street, eyes glued to the screen of his brand new phone. At last, his teacher salary was paying off. His first raise! Of course, it was the standard cost-of-living increase his contract demanded, but he didn’t care. He took that extra money and bought – for the first time in his adult life – a brand new smartphone. He rationalized the extravagance as a necessary home phone number coupled with the advantage of unlimited information at his fingertips! He was a TEACHER, for God’s sake. What business did he have not owning a cell phone, like some sort of luddite? It was about time he made use of this technology – for the good of his students, of course.

His thoughts pulled him into previously unknown heights. True, his girlfriend had seemed unhappy with him lately, accusing him of being “emotionally inaccessible,” – whatever THAT meant. He felt things strongly, his emotions almost overpowered him at times – but he could never put what he felt into words. At least now, she couldn’t complain about not being able to reach him. Maybe he should call her? As he continued walking to class, he decided to cut through the park. Buoyed by bliss, his feet barely touched the ground… And then he realized they didn’t.

Caught off guard, he gasped. The shock reflexively caused him to extend his arms, why he couldn’t guess. Maybe some evolutionary throwback or reflex, an insane impulse to flap his arms like a bird or kick as though he could swim through the air… Though there wasn’t even a breeze on this cool, clear, sky blue day. He realized he should be panicking, but he merely glided up into the lower branches of a nearby tree, like an errant balloon. Luckily, the park was sparsely peopled this time of day, the only witnesses to his aerial feat were birds and a few puzzled squirrels.

His mind strayed back to the cell phone, still clutched in one hand. Wildly, he realized that he could google “squirrel facial expressions” while stuck in a freakin’ tree. How cool was that?

How was he going to get out of this tree?

No, it wasn’t panic that filled his soul but elation! Pure joy in the power of his flight, no matter how dangerous or uncontrolled. Perhaps he would join the pantheon of the world’s super-powered defenders, be one of those proud individuals marked for greatness! His body moved upward with each blissful thought, imagining his future heroics and how impressed his girlfriend would be. Noticing the correlation between his philosophical heights and his physical one, he took a chance, gave a quick glance around to make sure no other humans spotted him, and pushed off from the tree’s embrace.

He wondered if there was a cell phone tower close by. Would he get better access if he flew closer to one? How would he even get there?

What the hell was he thinking?

Spitting out a few leaves, he was amazed to discover he soared higher and higher. Birds gazed at him quizzically as he floated past. He spread his arms once more, but this time concentrated on the direction he wanted to go. He whizzed past apartment buildings, soared to the heights of the city’s tallest skyscraper, swooped down with his arms angled before him as though aiming for the ground before sailing back up into the blue.

Flying round a cell phone tower, he realized that through all his experiments he had instinctively held on to his new electronic gadget, the impetus for his latest discovery. He soared a bit higher as he realized he could now text his girlfriend, why hadn’t he thought of that before? Yet another new achievement! – though markedly less impressive than his new super-powered flight. Harvey soon found himself outside the window of her ninth-story apartment, floated outside its drawn curtains, texting her to come to the window “because there was something she just had to see.”

Her reply was succinct. “I don’t care. I’m breaking up with you.”

The moment Harvey read those glowing words, the wind refused to support him. He plummeted to the concrete below. Soon, his girlfriend heard the sound of sirens outside her building and drew the curtains to see the tragedy below. Apparently another would-be hero had failed to survive discovering his superpower.

Poor, flat bastard.

 

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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Writing Prompt #122

 

Staring at his algebra lesson, Walter bemoaned the fact that there were no snow days in cyberspace.

 

 

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