Wednesday, September 12, 2012

1820's Maid Thing

June 6, 1820 My family is a family of servants. The boys are sent to serve the Queen, and the girls are sent to serve the Duke. It’s been this way for ages. The boys wait until they are eighteen, and then ship off to wear the Queen’s insignia on their breast as they march with their rifles. The girls needn’t wait quite so long, as the Duke’s always had need for more servants in one of his households; we make the journey up north when we hit thirteen. My three sisters have gone already, and both of my brothers have gone as well. I turn thirteen tomorrow. The day after, my father will take me north. I do not want to go. I have no desire to serve the Duke, regardless of his sizable monetary support to my family. I know what goes on behind his walls. They say he is a traitor, that his entire employ is treacherous. They say that people disappear in his house. Maybe that is true, but even if it is not, his reputation as a cruel master precedes him. My eldest sister will not even speak of him when she comes home for holidays any more. I can hardly wonder why. June 7, 1820 I have turned thirteen years old. My family prepared a great party, and it was much fun, but I know what is to happen tomorrow. They know as well. My mother held me tightly tonight. She was crying. She told me that this was the way of our family, that we have always been servants of the Ducal house, that Father’s line went far back into that history. She told me that I should never be afraid of things, but that if I ever was unsafe, I should run away. She whispered these things to me, perhaps for fear that may father might hear her, or perhaps for fear that the Duke’s ear might catch these breathed warnings. I know she does not want for me to go. I share her dislike of the idea, but if I were to not go, the Duke might send a caller to see what is keeping me, and his generous gold chain might be snipped off. Though I loathe this duty, it is a duty I must bear for my mother’s sake. Wish me luck, dear pages, all the luck you can muster. I fear I will need more tan just luck, tomorrow, though. June 8, 1820 My father and I sat in silence inside the coach for the entire duration of the trip to the common house in Kettering. He bought me a new pair of shoes when we arrived here, and though he said little, I could see in his eyes that he, too, dreaded my departure. I write tonight from the hearth in the common house, the cool stone reassuring on my skin, but nothing else to convince me of any virtue in living in the Duke’s house. On the morrow we will hire another coach, and take the rest of the trip. By this time tomorrow I will have arrived at that accursed house, and my father will have left me there. At least my sisters will be there, and, God willing, unharmed and unchanged. Tonight is the night my freedom dies. June 10, 1820 Tonight marks my second night under this roof. I would have written last night had I not been so exhausted! My first day in his employ, and the head maid put me to such work as I have never been prepared to do! In the interest of keeping a record of all the things that happen to me here, I will tell you what occurred yesterday. Father and I arrived on the grounds of the manor in the late morning, and were met by a tall, elderly gentleman in a smart black jacket. He told us that the master was out, but that he had left instructions to be followed on my arrival. He took my things, and beckoned me inside. My father made as though to come into the manor as well, but the elderly gentleman stopped him. “Master’s instructions only allow for the girl today,” he told my father, who looked visibly shocked. Our goodbye was cut short, father promising in a whisper to see me again soon, and I was ushered into the foyer. My quarters, I was told, would be with two other maidservants in the east wing, on the ground floor. He took my trunk off down a hallway, instructing me to wait where I was until the Head Maid came to explain things. I waited a few moments, nervous and quite upset about my father’s sudden removal, before the woman I know as the Head Maid appeared. She ushered me without more than a “Come with me” into the north wing, and handed me a parcel wrapped up with string. “Put this on. We will fit you into a proper uniform later,” she said curtly. She crossed her arms, and waited. She expected me to just strip in front of her! I protested, but she brushed that idea to the side. “Why waste time you could be listening to the instructions I will give you by hiding away while you change? You must be more conscious of your use of time, child.” She began to tell me of the rules and standards of the manor, while I sheepishly changed into the uniform she had given me. She remarked briefly on my stay, saying I didn’t need such a thing yet. The nerve of this woman! I turned away from her to finish changing while she continued to explain in her monotone, teacherly voice that as a maidservant in the Duke’s house I was subservient to not only the Master himself, but also to any guests he would welcome, and to the older serving staff, most especially herself. If she were to give an order, and I were to disobey, I would be punished harshly. I was not working a normal job, she said. I was essentially the property of the Duke, thanks to my family’s relinquished me to him. I was so angry, I wanted to box this woman’s ears! How dare she even insinuate that my family sold me? And yet, I could hear in her voice that she had told many others these same things, and perhaps meant them. She both frightens and angers me. My uniform is too big. The bodice does not fit, and the hem drags along the ground. I tripped on it twice walking to my room behind “Miz Weatherby,” as she is called. She showed me to my room, which had two beds. “But I was told, Miz Weatherby, that I was to stay with two other girls,” I had said, and she simply nodded. “That’s correct.” “Where will I sleep, then?” “Sort that out between the three of you tonight.” A great, big mansion like this, and they somehow do not have the rooms for their workers to have their own beds? Preposterous. I know I am being bullied, because I am the newest girl. I knew this was going to be a terrible place. It was not long until Miz Weatherby had given me my duties. I was to clean the baseboards on the long staircases that led up to the mezzanine in the foyer. She gave me a pail and a brush, and told me to get to work. Just like that! And I spent the next three hours scrubbing those baseboards until they shone. They did not, however, shine enough for Miz Weatherby. I would have expected that she would have been disappointed, but never that she would make me do the whole thing again! I was exhausted by the time dinner came about, and stumbled back to my room shortly thereafter. The other two girls in my room are May, who is fifteen, and Julia, who is eighteen. They both seem nice, though Julia does not much care for conversation. It was decided that since I was small and May was the smaller of the two, that I would share her bed. I gratefully accepted this offer (as I would have slept in the cupboard just then, how tired was I!), and dressed for bed. I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow. The morning came all too quickly, and we were awoken by a small bell I had failed to notice that hung by the door, attached to a string that terminated in a loop outside. Miz Weatherby comes by in the mornings at around six and yanks on that string at every door, a not-so-gentle wake-up call that left my ears ringing and my head still half-asleep as I got dressed. May and Julia were both used to it by now, and had become incredibly efficient at getting into their uniforms. May helped me lace a little tighter into mine, but no amount of tight lacing would fix the sleeves that were too long or the hem that dragged and tripped me. I still have not yet seen the Duke himself, yet, even all of today. I worked with Julia waxing the wooden floorboards in the ballroom all morning, and during the afternoon, I was shown all the rooms in the north wing that would need attention by the maidstaff. Guest rooms that were covered in dust, long unused; a wardrobe room on whose hooks hung only one old dress, moth-eaten and riddled with holes; seemingly endless hallways. The north wing, Julia quietly explained, had been unused of late due to the master’s recent habit of not taking callers. He seemed to be taking them again, however, and that necessitated us polishing the whole wing to a sparkle. I only ran into Miz Weatherby once today, which was refreshing. She seemed too busy to say much, other than a scathing “We simply must put you in a better-fitting uniform,” before bustling off on her way. I agree with her on that point, because it is hard to do any work with sleeves three inches longer than my arms! Today was less tiring than yesterday, thank God for that. Dinner for us maidservants is held in a small room off the side of the main dining room, and is, to be honest, quite good fare. I was seated across the table from my sister Mary Ann, who was delighted to see me, but our eldest sister was busy helping in the kitchen and did not eat with us. Mary Ann promised to tell me everything she could about everything here tomorrow, when she had time. When we parted after dinner (as she still had unfinished work to get done), she planted a kiss on both my cheeks, and squeezed me nearly in half. I suppose one must get stronger when one does this sort of work, but she could have perhaps been a bit more gentle! I write all this by the candle that is in my room. May has gone to sleep, and Julia reads behind me, sitting cross-legged on her bed. I suppose I had better retire, as well; I have already taken up more pages tonight than I had thought to. Good-night!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Things that Actually Happened 10

I look like a Touhou.

I have noticed that the stuff I wear on a normal basis, which is also how I draw myself in the comics (as wearing whatever I was wearing when that thing happened), looks remarkably like a Touhou character.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Lesson in Poetry

Today I taught a lesson on poetry at one of my schools. I told the students about how to make rhymes, and how to count syllables. The assignment during class was to write a cinquain and a simple ABAB poem, and here are the results for each group. It should be noted that many of them have only heard poems in English through music, and that this was their first time ever trying to write anything artistic in English, essentially. We did not have time to proofread them, unfortunately, but I think there is something to be gained in reading these little bits of imagination given shape before they try to grind them into that mold forcibly. Perhaps we will not revise them.

Poems written by Third Year Students at Ouse Middle School, Class 3-1

Simple Rhyme Poems (ABCB)

Many people fall the holl
Because there was the holl in front of a book store
Many people fall the holl one after another
I looked it.

A man was standing in a sea
He rang a bell.
Then, something fell!
It was a shell.

It was raining
Haruki find out a snail
He threw away it
After that it went into the pail

One day, a boy talked with his friend.
I’ll give you my pen.
Oh, Thank you.
But I already have it ten.


It’s Snow
I’m in my room.
I’m playing the video game
It’s exciting and very difficult
Good Bye

I am
On the big tree
I’m seeing people under the tree
People looking on the big tree
It’s me.

I am
By the big sea
Looking with my pritty dog
We want to swim toghether there.
But cold.

I was
Eeating much food
In the beautiful beach
Then I was swimming in the sea
It’s panful

He was
In a sea then
Ringing a bell many times
After seven hours he saw
A Shell

He is
On the many birds
He dancing pop dance there
The birds starting be very painful
They died.

Class 3-2

Simple Rhyme Poems (ABCB)

One day, I went to Tokyo
I bought a bag.
Next day I went to America.
I bought a flag.

One day, in the morning,
My mother is making a pie.
For my father.
My father is wearing a tie.

One day, it was rain
There was a pail.
It was blue.
The something staying by the it was snail.

My family went to a trip.
Among the trip, we went to the sea.
We saw a lion for the first time.
So, We didn't free.


We are
In the Class room.
Studying with our friend.
We are studying English together
It's fun

One day
I ate a pie
It was so delicious
I thought that it was like a dream

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Piece of the New Story

For the One Hour Challenge today (which was interrupted by the second year English teacher wanting to tell me about what happened after the earthquake last March for about fifteen minutes), I wrote a scene that would maybe happen somewhere shortly after the second chapter of the Detective Lory story. No proofreading, of course, as per the rules. Proofreading comes later. Here is a scene from Detective Lory's story.

The house was, or so it looked from the outside, completely desolate. The yard was dried up and dead, a testament to those who frequently visited it in the waning hours of the night. The front door had been boarded up and then subsequently broken into more times than was necessary to count, and the most recent time was still evident by the shards of splintered wood still clinging to the rusty, jagged nails that protruded from the cracked and broken doorframe. As I approached the place, that feeling of dread I'd long since learned to ignore (though not to suppress—it still came, now and again) crept into my veins, reminded me that there were places that exude an aura of unfamiliarity, of foreignness that warned against entering. I entered.

The first thing anyone could have noticed was the furniture, covered in old sheets like that would somehow retard the passage of time and save the plush couch from the dust that crawls and the rats that chew. It was all arranged very neatly in a circle, facing outwards, closing off a space in the center that radiated stink. The circle’s inside was completely sullied, stained with old and perhaps not-so-old blood and littered with bones that looked unsettlingly human. I had certainly seen worse before, but that everything else in the place was free of gore and instead caked with dust while only this circle was painted red and brown made my reason-centers churn a bit. I tore my eyes away from the strange circle, and scanned the floor.

Footprints. Footprints, and not my own, appeared here and there where the dust would show them. And the lot of them was pretty new, to boot. Three, four, maybe more had been through here recently, though not through the front door, through which I had come. No, their prints led back deeper into the house. Of course they did. Of course. I undid the leather strap on my hip holster and loosened my revolver, just in the unlikely event I would need it, and strode quietly toward what I assumed would be a kitchen area.

Telltale signs here told of habitation. Empty cans were stacked up in the corner, dirty dishes not far away, and half a jug of water was on the table next to a kerosene stove that was still lit. The goddamn fire was still lit? Then someone must have been here just minutes ago! Did they hear me coming and split? Dammit!

I turned the stove off (after all, I’d read enough stories of houses burning down with people inside) and yanked my gun from my hip, looking to make sure all the chambers were packed. If someone was here, they might still be, and if they were, then they might be keen on my own exit, regardless of how it was executed. I listened closely, for a long minute, but I could hear nothing. As silently as I could manage, I slipped toward the door that led to the basement, which was ajar and inviting (like the maw of some strange beast waiting to prey on the unsuspecting passer-by).

The stairs were warped and mouldering, so if I wanted to get down there, there would be no chance of doing it without anyone noticing. My best chance was to do it fast, get to the bottom landing, and stay low. If anyone shoots, they will likely be shooting at my chest, not my knees. I took a deep breath, then steeled myself and kicked the door all the way open, in the same movement starting my descent. I definitely heard something down at the bottom of the stairs, I know I did.

Taking the steps three and four at a time, I hit the bottom and ducked, and just in time, too. A loud crash rang out, and the wet wooden wall above my head splintered into bits. I swung back behind the stairwell and fired blind around the corner, and heard a cry. Good. The sound of something clattering to the ground and a soft thud of a person’s knees were drowned out by the growling cry that issued from my attacker’s lips. I poked my head around the corner to check: safe.

The possibility that there would be more of them was definitely there, but for the moment, I had to get the gun away from this one. It was a shotgun, with a short barrel, and it was now a disassembled shotgun. I had hit the man in the thigh (a lucky shot, really), and when I got close he spit and cursed in a language I don’t think I had ever heard before. I leaned down to him.

“You have two choices. One, tell me what the hell you are planning, or two, get shot again. Then we move back to step one,” I said, cocking my hammer. “Up to you, champ.”

After a bit of deliberation that may have involved a bit of extra gunpowder and the infliction of another wound, I was informed that the people I was looking for called themselves Cat’s Silver Eye, that they were powerful and influential, and that I would never stand a chance against them. Of course, more information came afterward with a bit more persuasion (“I’m halfway out of bullets, now. Would you like another?”), and he mentioned that they had some item of great power. Mumbo-jumbo magic quack work, if you ask me, but it was something. They were trying to get the other half of the key (oh, so it’s a key, is it?) so that they could open a vault that contained some infinite thing or another.

I’d heard about enough of his talk, though. I left him cuffed to the stairs and went further into the basement. It was damp down here, and smelled like moldy paper and kerosene, with just a touch of something foul. The walls were plastered with scraps of paper covered in scribbled notes, diagrams, maps… and then there was a Polaroid picture, a copy of one of the ones in that package from before. A lady in a long dress with a handbag smiled brightly as she walked arm-in-arm with a sharply-dressed man into a restaurant. The same figure in the background, standing under a theatre marquis that touted the playing times for “Ace Backwards,” a new film.

No, hang on. Wait a second. Ace Backwards? That film isn’t supposed to be released for another three days…?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Things that Actually Happened 9

This style will only happen when appropriate. Most of the time, I will draw them normally.

I Lied.

Yesterday on Facebook i said I was going to do another chunk of the one hour challenge detective story. This is what I made instead. It is just a cotton print, but with it, I finally have a reason to wear this tie.
Tonight, since because of a flu breakout there are no club activities, I will actually be home early. Expect something then.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Eva and I, or, The Wages of Love

Edit: Proofread, bits expanded upon, and things explained better.

We met a few years ago at school. It was the same story as you might hear from anyone else: A friend of mine had a class with her, she started hanging out with my
"in-group," and over some time, she was just as much a part of my normal day as the five-dollar lunch in the basement cafeteria. She was smart, she could talk the talk
my group talked, and we accepted her seamlessly.

Of course, as Nature's badly-written Science Fiction script is wont to have us portray, people fall in love. It wasn't exactly the way I'd have preferred it, though,
but then, love is never exactly the most accommodating of circumstance-makers, often only coming when it is wryly inconvenient or downright dishonourable.
Dishonourable, as this instance most definitely was, for, you see, one of my group had just started his own relationship with her.

He was the good-natured type, a solid friend to have when you wanted to have a friend. He wasn't the kind to try to get anything out of having people close to him; he
had friends because they were awesome to have. I wish there were more people in the world that shared his sentiments for this, but that's getting off-topic here. He
was one of my own, my people, and if I didn't support him in the most difficult of manly endeavours, what kind of friend, what kind of tribesman was I? The men in my
tribe took care of each other, and this was to be no exception.

Thus it was that my group of previously-four-and-now-five started a strange set of connections within itself.

Adam and I were really the ones who made it happen to begin with. Tex mentioned that he sort of liked her, and so Adam and I set it up and pushed it into place,
letting the pieces fall like tetris blocks, giving them a nudge or a turn here and there so they would fit. It was my own action that signed my hands away, which still
makes me laugh even now. Tex and Eva got along rather well, in fact, after the initial kick-start. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of that possible link
between myself and her.

There was romance, there was cutesy crap, and everything that would normally show up in a penny dreadful wasn't lacking here. Adam and I cheered Tex on from the boy's
side, while Alice played the role of support for Eva. Things were going extremely smoothly, so we should have known that something would have gone wrong sooner or
later. Still, with nothing of the kind of notion that the audience of any stupid romance movie unconditionally bring with them, there was no reason to exercise any
damage prevention measures. That would have been presumptuous, and what would have been termed by the more common of our age group as "a dick move."

Now, I'm no party-goer, and I'm even less of a Disney fan, so when it was posited that the group went to that accursed park, I made the decision to skip out on it.
After all, park tickets were more expensive than any right-minded college student would be comfortable paying, and I'd been to the original version of the place more
times than I'd like to recount. It was, of course, during this particular trip that the last straws were piled on, and the camel called bullshit on the metaphor about
a single straw's difference in weights being enough to break his own back. This straw? It was more like a large concrete waterway pipe. All at once, with only hints of
its existence beforehand to prepare for its incoming.

Tension, stress, and worry are things Eva doesn't exactly take well, and when the initial blow hit, it cracked the glass holding back the entire aquarium of mental
overload. Slowly, but very, very surely, that crack spread. You can try to fix that kind of damage, you know. Tape over the cracks, glue in the little valleys, but it
only holds for so long.

I finally knew it when Alice and I were sitting, waiting for class to start, and Eva arrived later than usual, crying.

"I'll take notes for us," I whispered to Alice. She knew exactly what I meant, and the two of them disappeared, leaving me trying half-heartedly to follow the lecture
for the rest of that seemingly-extra-long class. When it was out, I immediately began searching for anyone who could tell me what happened. I sent messages to Alice,
Tex, and Adam, but only Adam got back to me immediately. We met in the cafeteria.

Adam told me that Tex and Eva had been having some trouble. It was true, I had been privy to a bit of that knowledge, but I assumed it was the sort of small,
inconsequential issues that always cropped up now and again. I was wrong. I asked the nature of the trouble they were having, and he told me that Tex had gone back on
a promise that he had made, a sort of deal-breaker on both ides of the equation. It was a big deal, or, at least, only a big deal when presented with the reality of
itself to Tex.

Tex's main difference between himself and the rest of the group was that he was religious, where the rest of us were patently not. That he followed the teachings of a
religion did not factor into our harmony, really-- I mean, honestly, he didn't try to indoctrinate us, and we didn't try to rationalise him. It was a complete non-
issue, so much so that I wondered if he was only religious when his parents were around. Apparently, though, he became religious when faced with the prospect of a
long-term relationship with someone who opposed the idea of being held to any set pattern of beliefs because someone said so. Suddenly, kissing was a no-no, physical
intimacy got cut back to nearly-nothing, and talk of that dreaded word so many people hear too often from people in white collars knocking at their doors at
disgustingly early hours. He'd taken back his oath that the religious difference would not matter. Suddenly, and very strongly, it did.

Of course, I had the "Bro Code" on one hand, and my undeveloped feelings for this girl on the other. What's a guy like me to do? I invoked the only thing I knew to
invoke in situations like these: The Neutrality badge. I would listen to what happened from both sides, without bias from either, and throw my tracks neither north nor

What actually transpired is a story I don't know if I have the right to tell, but the differences between an independent, nonreligious girl and a spiritually middle-
class boy were enough to drive them apart and break the bonds Adam, Alice, and I had tried to tie in the first place. I felt like the idiot on display for forcing it
to happen in the first place. If I hadn't initially paired them together like some terrible one-true-pairing fan-boy, nobody would be having the intensely bad day they
were having now. Now, obviously, any onlooker would tell me it was not my fault, but I have a habit of assuming responsibility for my friends' unhappiness. This time
it actually was something I had done, and it was something stupid. Add to this that I wanted nothing more than to be responsible for this girl's happiness, and it
becomes painfully clear that I had little choice but to do something to alleviate one side or the other

What used to be a nice circle, with all points connected to all other points, suddenly had a glaring disconnect right through the middle. We were all still friends
with Tex, and we were all still friends with Eva, but Eva and Tex were no longer friends. What can you do to fix it? She wasn't religious, and he wouldn't have her if
she wasn't religious. The only direct paths were to change the mind of one of the parties, and that was as likely as convincing a butterfly that life was better
without wings.

The group eventually amassed enough platelets to scab the wound and prevent any more blood loss, but as most wounds are wont to do, a scar was left there. A scar
that is hard to hide, one that will not be obscured by make-up. It still flares red now and again, especially when subjected to similar conditions to the ones it
experienced when the scar was made. We try not to let those happen very often at all.

But then, where was I, in this whole thing? Was not I also in love? Was not I also pining for the heart of pure, fair Eva? Has the author forgotten about the romantic?
Do they not share the same heart and head?

No, he has not forgotten. But the romantic, the romantic wishes he had been forgotten. Too much is at stake for the romantic to be involved, and he knows it.

The group was scattered to the winds at the end of that fateful year, to return to the places from whence they had come. We still kept as together as five points on a
map could be, but then, thrown as far apart as we were, what else could be done? We drifted apart much in the same way that leaves drift in a pond's clear, still
water. Slowly. Up until this point, I had kept silent about my own interest in the companionship of such a girl as Eva. What good could have come from it? During the
occupation of her heart-land by Tex, I would have been an unwanted guest at best, a threatening challenger at worst. During the rebuilding effort after the war, I
would have been no more than the philanthropist that donates money in hopes of being recognised with one of those gaudy bronze plaques that they tack to the last
remaining bits of the capitol building, a constant reminder of what destroyed it in the first place. Any time after that, and I would look like that guy who looks for
old people to rob because they are easy targets. I intended to be none of those things, and would not have afflicted that kind of status effect on any allied player.
My self-respect coupled with my fear of rejection made be believe that if I said anything at all, I would look like I was trying to capitalise on her losses and slip
in like some sleaze-bag. No, I wanted nothing to do with that image.

Flash forward three years. We've all finished school, and when I moved back to my hometown, I found she was only a hundred miles away.


Too far for me, who had no resources. Alas! That hundred miles was the longest hundred miles I'd ever not-experienced.

There was a play, called "The Casket Comedy," wherein one of the main characters laments his inability to meet his loved one for an entire six days, and he makes it
sound like the world is coming apart at the seams with his oratory. When I had not seen hair nor hide, heard word nor breath of my love for two years, what kept me
going? What kept me thinking that I had some shred of chance, some glimmer of that gold in the mines that produced primarily dirt and coal?

Really? It was the romantic in me. It was the thought that if I hoped hard enough, if I pined enough, if I stared at the moon long enough, maybe the stars would align
to produce just the right polar magnetism to pull the two of us together, and we'd live in that land of unending silent gazing into each other's eyes and wistfully
sighing, holding hands in some small cafe somewhere.

Of course, there's nothing realistic in that, but as I have determined through many a philosophical conversation with many friends, I've never been a realist.

I moved into her town, into a house less than two miles from hers. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish, but I moved into a house where I inhabited a single
room of it so that I could be closer to her. I didn't have a stable job, I didn't have any actual resources any more than I had before, but I knew I just had to be
near to her.

It certainly made it easier to see her. I saw her in the first two months nearly ten times more than I had seen her in the two years previous. I was jobless,
relatively poor, and living in the same house as a self-proclaimed Crip gang member, but I was happy. Due to my lack of money and the rent of my single room being
higher than I could provide regularly, the endeavour was destined to be short-lived, but I could mark no better time spent in that year than the ill-planned jaunt into
being closer to her.

It's amazing, how being in the same vicinity as someone else has the power to override so many of the issues that the rest of reality imposes on one.

Alice and I never drifted as far apart as the others did. Even now, I appreciate this with a greatness to it that I wonder if she understands. When I was feeling
particularly self-loathy and melancholic, I would talk to her about what I wanted to say but could not bring myself to. She knew just how much I was in love with Eva,
perhaps more than I knew even myself. She's a keen girl, one who asks questions that only have answers when she asks them. In another life, she might have been my
level-headed sister, but in this one, I think she's more valuable than that-- she's one of the most unique girls I know, and that makes asking her for advice the most
productive out of all my other acquaintances. She told me that there wasn't time to wait-- what if she found someone else? What if she had to make due with a lesser
specimen because I didn't offer myself? What if you DIED and never told her? Don't wait on it.

I didn't actually intend to tell her how fond I was of her that night. It just sort of... spilled out, like when a jar is too full of honey and it sloughs down the
side, leaving sticky sugary trails behind. The Buddha once said something to the effect of there being no guarantee of happiness as a direct result of action, but that
there being zero chance thereof if you remain inactive. That Alice had been pushing the importance of this confession? declaration? on me for some time probably had
some influence on it. She had, in fact, even helped me write the mental script I had totally planned to use but ended up stumbling through and missing most of. I
should thank her again for that sometime.

We'd gone to have tea with some friends, and she'd given me a lift (seeing as I was lacking in both navigational skills in my new town and also gasoline). We ended up
talking for way too long, about way too much for that time of night, a night I knew wasn't the right night for it. We both cried. I told her about everything I'd
thought about her, for as long as I had, and she told me that maybe, just maybe, she felt something kindred to it. We both admitted we were scared.

As is often the case with many real-life stories that are too boring to be made into Hollywood blockbusters, she had the presence of mind to know that she wasn't ready
for a relationship of any kind, and I had the willingness to acquiesce to her request. We left it on the table and covered it up with one of those Indian throws that
are so useful for covering up junk you don't want guests to see when they come unannounced and you have no time to clean up. The rules were pretty easy, really.

Don't talk about it to anyone who was directly related, so that nothing dramatic happened. Don't talk about it to her, so she could have uninterrupted time to sort out
what she wanted and when.

I often wonder what it must be like to be in cryostasis. How aware is your brain while it's frozen? How much do you remember during your frozen stay? While nothing
about you changes, do you still have the ability to store data? Or is the whole thing literally imperceivable except from an outside standpoint, one that is not your

Enough time has passed since that fateful night that I wonder if she's forgotten about it. I have not. I think about her often, really. Quite often. Often enough that
I had to write this story to get it off my mind. Now that I am once again far away, we do not speak often, and this concerns me. I will lay awake in the middle of the
night, after waking from some dream, and sigh quietly.

What rightly should I do? I can only wait, as she asked. That's fine, though. I have waited four years already. I am patient. I can wait longer.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Story Start!

This is the unedited, un-proofread version of the story I began writing today under the duress of the ONE HOUR CHALLENGE.
The ONE HOUR CHALLENGE is an exercise that consists of unplugging the internet from my machine, opening up wordpad, and typing for sixty minutes nonstop. This is the first time I have done it in a long time, so I wanted to let you guys know I am still writing here and there. Hereafter follows the story bit, cut off authentically at the one hour mark.

The last time I saw her, we had both been much younger. The light had been a yellower shade, and the music had been scratchier. They used different techniques to capture images back then, but even after seventeen years I could recognise her on the screen that was once silver and now just an axpanse of white.

I'd never met her, personally, but I knew all about her. She was the most enchanting actress of my childhood, the princess with the flirty eyes and the pouty, slightly-moist lips. She was the subject of every young boy's imagination, every director's vision, every late-night businessman's lust. Her body was a measure of sheer perfection, skin the colour of cream and hair that floated about her shoulders like gossamer. She was everything a boy of thirteen years could have wanted in a woman, but everything he could not have. I grew up on her films the way most children grow up on milk and bread.

I'd written her letters, of course. Every self-respecting boy wrote her letters. Once in a very long while she would appear on a radio show or the like and read one or two of the letters she received, talk about them, and always wish a kiss to the boy who wrote it. She never read any of mine on the airwaves, but I always hoped that she'd wished a kiss or two my way on her own time. When I turned seventeen, my father took me to see the opening of her fiftieth film, "Sleeves on my Heart," an absolutely riveting tale about a girl who loses her way in Paris only to be saved by a dashing young gumshoe who was fleeing the mafia. I imagined myself as that hero, that agile, quick-witted lad who never missed a single clue to who had murdered his father.

I knew it right away. I wanted to be a detective. I'd become a private eye, and have an office with a door that would have my name painted on it. I'd be taken into the confidence of beautiful ladies like her, or sweep them from harm's way, or do whatever else detectives did until the last scene when they get the girl. My father gave me the information I wanted about how it was done (he, himself, was a carpet layer, but he'd had a friend back when he was younger that had run the same race as I wanted to run. I made a few contacts of my own over the next few years, and when I hit twenty-five, I'd gone through the police academy and done my time as a beat cop long enough. I quit the force and started on my own business venture.

My office was small and wood-panelled, but it was everything I had wanted when I was a kid. The problem was, now that I was older, I had more... sophisticated tastes. It would do, but only until I could afford something better. Something with a glass door, maybe, and a desk with a bottle of whiskey in the bottom drawer that was never empty. During the time it took me, though, I never missed a single release of one of her films. "Midnight Trigger," "A Rose in the Mist," "The Orchard Letters," all of them. What we call her best films now. But then, for me, her best will always be Sleeves.

When I woke up this morning, I had a headache. My television played light static, an empty bottle lay next to my couch, and my ears played the song you hear when you think you are dying. Out of the VCR stuck a black casette with a white label across it: "Hold the Door for Me," the last movie she'd done before she just sort of dropped off the radar three years ago. I pulled the blinds shut, alleviating at least a bit of the headache-inducing reality to which I was subjected, and put my old copper kettle on the burner for coffee. Like any story you will hear any private eye tell you, business had been slow around then. I'd had a few cases here and there, but nothing really big for almost two months. My tiny office was still the same as it was four years ago when I first rented it, except I did have a bottle of some horrible booze that smelt like paint thinner in my desk. I was not looking forward to the prospects of sitting in the office all day again, but it was better than sitting in my drafty flat -- at least the office had a radiator to help stave off the winter's fingers.

Two cups of coffee, an aspirin and a short worry about my rent later, I pulled the collar of my jacket up and started for the office.

The landlord had left me another pleasant note reminding me about my rent stuck in my mail slot. I put it with the others she had so finely written me (in the trash bin), and sat heavily in the leather chair that had been both a business conductor and insomnia relief to me. With weather like this, I didn't expect many visits, and only perhaps one or two telephone calls. Winter seemed to dull the crime scene in this city to no more than a trickle, which was paradoxically both good and bad. Still, I fully intended to spend the first half of the day second-sleeping off the remainder of my hangover until the call came in.

"Yeah, what is it?"
"Is this Detective Lory?"
"...yeah. What is it?"
"Detective, this is Officer John Holloway. We received a... package at the station, think you should come take a look at it. Looks like someone's looking for you."
"What? What's in the package?"
"Maybe you should see it yourself."
"...fine, give me a half hour."

The boys in blue and I never really had too good of a reputation since I quit the force. For a while I though Sergeant Harris was out to step on my toes at every opportunity, pulling the police tape excuse at every case I got. Harris was the kind of fellow you'd expect to eat his cereal without milk, a real macho-man type, who wasn't terribly fond of being beaten to the punch, not especially by one of his former subordinates. If he had the chance to stick his fat thumbs into my pie, you bet your coat he'd do it. So, really, I didn't feel like going to see him or officer what's-his-number or anyone else at the station.

But then, what were the chances I'd just spend the whole day sitting at my desk drooling otherwise?

I arrived a little later than I'd said (on purpose, of course), and strode behind the receptionist like I was the boss. She started to protest, but just then an officer with the nameplate "Holloway" hurried up to me.

"Detective, what took you so long? This could be a real serious case here."
"Sure it is, kid. All right, what's the skinny?"
"Well, Detective, it seems someone has got some pretty grand plans laid out, and you look to be part of them. Here, let me show you."

I followed him into the back, where of course Sergeant Harris stood. He had his back to me, and was leaning with both hands on a table, stuying the items thereon intently. I approached the table and nodded a sort of half-greeting, half-"oh, you're here too, are you?", and he grunted and smirked in return. The table was strewn with polaroid photographs, pctures of what appeared to be places in the city. Normal lighting, people in the frames, nothing really odd about them, but...

"Well, mister hot-shot, what do you make of it?"

...but in every single shot, a man in a long white coat was in the background. He was always facing the cameraman straight-on, no matter where the location. He seemed to be wearing a sort of opera-mask-looking disguise in all of them, covering the top half of his face. He was tall, but not overly so, and not buiilt in either extreme. A relatively normal guy, it looked like (well, excepting the mask and the jacket).

I perused the photographs again, making sure to look over every detail. Plus, it gave me an excuse not to have to talk to Sergeant Hairy-Ass just yet. In all of the photos, one person seemed to be the focus of the photo. The locations were definitely in the city, and I recognised many of them. A seedy bar on Main street. A news stand on the corner of Fourth and Grand. The cinema down by the docks.

Then I saw it properly. One of the photos showed me, in the cafe by my office, staring into space while