City Limits

I was on a confused city limit highway in a rusty old red truck I borrowed from a dusty farmer driving in circles looking for my father. The thick metal body of the vehicle rattled as I shifted gears over the cheap asphalt, but all the parts were well built and she drove stiff and strong. The truck had gotten me through the barriers and obstacles that were in my way, but as I pulled around another off ramp to an underpass rest area, I was disheartened. There were no signs on how to get back the other way where my mom was waiting at the college to help me look for dad. Part of me didn’t want to go back, the roads there lead to dead ends into rivers and were more confusing footpaths. The only difference was that the roads there had art and spectacles around it where the highway I was on was utilitarian, streamlined and uncaring.

The off ramp lead me down to a strange parking lot. Several other cars were down there. Jeeps and BMWs and a Mercedes, modern and plastic and brittle. My old truck backfired and echoed with heavy gears around the underpass giving me looks from the middle aged layabouts and a couple energetic naive youth. I shifted down, pushing the handle so worn only the silver aluminum on the handle shown. I rolled my window down to ask one of them if there was a way to get back to the highway in the opposite direction, each I asked were friendly, they told me to follow the parking lot to the other ramp. I knew they were wrong, but I trusted them anyway. I knew deep down that I’d be going the same way I’ve been going.

I didn’t know if I was looking for dad anymore, or what I was looking for. I pushed the sluggish truck on , getting new power from each gear as the highway flew by around me. The cars of a generation speeding past me to whichever city we were on the limit of. The cars were driving themselves.

I thought maybe I could turn around if I got to the city and throttled up to overdrive. 

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[BTS2] Love From Business

When I first met her, she was competitive, unflinching, dealing out hard truths. Such is the proper role of a prudent and influential investor.

We were adults, but I felt like a child when I saw the big building. Feko games was like a dream factory. Ever since I could wear a headset and dive into their fantasy worlds I was hooked. I didn’t need to play the game right, I just needed an open world full of places and people and monsters and magic. My character, just a small boy with a few tools in his backpack to face the trials of the world.

The three of us started a small game company with the idea that we could make something great, build something, and so we made a game and I was the creative guy where my two compatriots were the technical and visual sides of things. Time and money went into making the game. Little did we know that creating was the easy part, the hard part was seeing if people would buy it.

Trying and succeeding only in woeful sales, we decided we would bring ourselves to one of the big companies, Feko games. The massive building looked like glass waves frozen in time on a hill greener than the windows background. It’s glass and steel construction rose in three towers that seemed to undulate in the sunlight with curved modern design in the stout structures.

We stepped inside and it was like stepping into one of their games, the world changed. The main atrium of the visitors center was full of neon and in its dark suggestive use of space, screens and VR stations were everywhere with people plugged in and playing games. On the landings and balconies were stores and food vendors, it was a revival of the old way spaces were used, with a cyberpunk and yet utterly modern bend to it all. From retro to state of the art, they had everything in this mall/arcade. 

As the three of us entered, we had no words, we were awestruck.

An aide soon greeted us and lead us up to a glass elevator that looked over the expansive atmosphere. There were even people hanging from the ceiling in full immersion harnesses that glowed in purple and blue.

We were brought to a large table in an alcove that overlooked the atrium. We were handed refreshments and were told to wait for one of their investment representatives. The low thrumming of my heart pounded the giddy fear and excitement through my veins. How were they actually giving us amateurs a chance? Were we woefully out of our depth, or could we rise to this occasion?

I had had maybe two sips of tea, my compatriots to either side jabbered away about their excitement and I found myself at an uneasy loss for words. I felt like I should have something to say, that I ought to be the business version of myself who always knew what the prudent thing to say was, who knew how to keep a level head, but I was too damn excited and nervous that this giddy childless would be my downfall.

Soon a small woman in a very businesswomanly suit entered our alcove from the double doors at the far end. She held a slim tablet under her arm and her shimmering black hair motionlessly reflected the neons of the massive space beyond the railing.

“Hi how are you all.” She said, reaching across the table and shaking each of our hands.

When she shook mine, her gaze cut me down, It was as though I were an ant to her.

 

 

[BTS1] Brigdon

Grinding rails from the train up on the elevated tracks evaporated into the night’s traffic. Sparks spilled over the side of the riveted steel bridge and were lost in the pollution of neon signs, headlamps, and street vendor lanterns. As the blocks spun by, she could only think of the hours that she had spent in these twisted corridors. The days that had gone by in this alien landscape within the press of some ten million other people.

The lights in the train car flickered and she caught a glimpse of herself in the window. Getting older, the bags darkening under her eyes, tired eyes, eyes that no longer knew what to look for, no longer knew what signs would bring meaning back. Somewhere in the routines she had lost something. Something was left behind in taxes and faces and mistakes that kept coming back to haunt her in stabs and jolts. The cars buckled uneasily around the next bend.

“What am I doing?” She said to her blurred reflection in the window and then looked past to the cityscape. As the train came out over the river the lights and millions of people faded away and for a moment all that remained was the dark river of sloshing darkness under the bridge. It was a black void.

She turned away from the window and looked about the dingy train car, the green lights flickered over the graffiti stained walls and the shimmering silver bars and the plastic red seats. She was alone.

She wondered where real friends were, wondered why she felt so strange, like something was about to happen, but nothing ever changed, caught somewhere between the comfort and security of routine and just utter boredom with no good way out. Where was the adventure life was supposed to take her on? The strange anxiety of being trapped in the moment rose in her throat and she closed her eyes.

The train sped on as she slept. Carrying her away.

She woke up with a start at the lack of motion. The train wasn’t moving. In no time, her mind was racing.

“STOP, DON’T LEAVE!” she hollered at whomever was running the train. She looked around for someone who might tell her which station they were at, but there was nobody. She gathered up her bag and moved down the aisle to the doors. They opened as she approached.

Passing in a daze out from the green flickering room of graffiti. She found herself on the dark platform. She looked for someone else, but there were no people in the glow of the platform lamps. There was a light rain in the hush of thick foliage all around the station. There was no city, no people, nothing but the hum of the dingy lamp and the unused benches. Her heart sank. The train doors closed behind her. The train sped away.

She was left alone, utterly alone, clutching her bag against her chest in the patter of the light rain. She deflated, looking at the station name which read in flat black letters: “Brigdon”.  She had never heard of it.

She looked about for some kind of booth, an overhang to get out of the damp. But the platform had nothing, she pulled out her phone and saw it light up only to notify her that the battery was at a mere 4% at which point it promptly died. She was left staring at the dark drops of water on the dormant screen.

She cursed and, seeing no shelter on the platform, she made her way down the stairs at one end and took shelter under a tree with broad leaves. The rush of wind and rain made her shelter-tree shudder and drops fell on her no matter how close she pushed her back up to the bark. She looked around, for something to reveal where she should go, the only path angled from the station into the dark woods with no light whatsoever.

“Another train will be along at some point.” said a voice. “Not until morning I’m afraid”

She looked around  and then noticed, below her gaze at about waist height a small umbrella being held by a tiny person with a furry face like a fox.

Her eyes bugged when she saw the creature hold up the umbrella with a smile.

“If you want you can use my umbrella, I don’t mind getting a little wet.”

She tentatively grasped the tiny handle and held it over her head. Not taking her eyes from the small being.

“I was actually here to meet someone, but I guess she missed her train.” Said the little guy, looking downward and scrunched up his shoulders against the rain.

“W-who were you waiting for?”

“Oh, an old friend… Anyway, no sense in us both getting wet out here, my name is Lander.” he stuck out a small furry hand that emerged from the long sleeves of his coat. She shuffled the umbrella to her other hand with her bag and grasped Lander’s hand shaking it up and down, stultified by the strange little person.

“My name is…” She drew a blank. Panic arose in her. “I don’t remember my name”

“Seems like kind of an important thing to forget; you might be catching a fever.” Said Lander. “Come, if you need a place to stay, you can come stay with me, the next train isn’t until the sun comes up. It’s not safe to be out at night alone, especially in a rain storm.”

The panic that was within her came out as “If it’s all the same I think I should wait for the train on my own.”

“Suit yourself, you can keep the umbrella.”

And then without another word he turned and walked briskly away, producing a small flashlight from his coat and lighting the way down the path into the woods.

She watched him go and was soon left alone in the rain, the drops pattering off the small canvas of the small umbrella. A few moments went by before she turned and saw his little light bumbling down the path away from the small train platform. She was a city girl after all, she didn’t need help. The thought came upon her suddenly, but she soon soured to this small bit of pride and then hurried with her bag and tiny umbrella clumsily balanced after him.

As she ran, puddles splashed and the wind picked up with the rain falling harder and harder. Ahead of her down the path she could see the light bumbling on. As cold drops fell, they got in her eyes. Then there was a dump of water that fell from one of the broad leaves right before her. The splash hit the ground and rose up, covering her in water. She didn’t stop, but she failed to see the water congeal and rise up behind her.

She found herself running, and as she did, more splashes of water fell from the trees and rose up as watery blobs with shimmering tendril hands reaching out. She could see Lander when another splash fell between them. This time the puddle rose up in front of her and the watery blob appeared, eyeless reaching out towards her.

She screamed and nearly fell back, turning from this apparition only to see the five others behind her. She dropped the umbrella and soaking wet reached into her bag for her knife. She pulled it out in the darkness, flipping out the blade.

“Get away from me!” She yelled, but the blobs only continued sliding toward her. Panicking she brandished and slashed with her knife at them, but they only seemed to grow closer and bigger in the rain. She slashed at the closest one, but her hand only went through the monster and came out wet on the other side. They began to press against her and tried to drown her with their blobby bodies.

Before that could happen, a yellow light fell upon them and the watery monsters shrank away returning to simple puddles.

“Are you alright?” He called as he came up to her. “I told you this place is dangerous at night, you shouldn’t walk in the darkness.”

“You’ve got to be straight with me right now!” She said.

“What what, of course, I’m glad those pests didn’-

“No, you be clear with me RIGHT NOW…” She said, the rain and her tears mingling “Am I in a fucking fantasy story right now?”

 

 

 

Better Typing Skills

I’m a writer with bad habits.

I know this isn’t a shock to hear, I think the archetypal image of a writer in most people’s mind includes some bad habits. I don’t necessarily mean in my personal life, but more in a fundamental way that I have gone through my journey, there are some major ways in which I thought I could get by where I am now hitting a wall.

I’m forced now to look at the thing I have been suffering from most recently which is a lack of engagement as I’m working. I know that I have good ideas and could really get out a piece of art or a story that I can be proud of if I could have the same fundamental engagement as I find myself having with movies and video games, things I often label as distractions. It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy being endlessly distracted.  Why then, if I love creating and coming up with ideas and organizing thought, do I lack the ability to get as carried away with it as other diversions. Why would I put off something that I love?

There is the fact that other forms of entertainment are engineered to draw attention and require only the effort of sitting down in front of a screen, where writing requires considerable effort and steeling one’s mind from their own discouragement in order to continue. However, I am left to think on what I can do to control this? What can I do to be more engaged with the words rather than just pounding out ideas in my head as though they are individual bricks?

SO my bad habit:

I still look at my hands as I type. I can get into some blinding speeds this way, but it comes to my attention that on a fundamental level, I require a visual to be represented in front of me to stay engaged and become less distracted. The bad typing habit reduces my experience to a purely mental game, where my theory is that if I simply make the practice to look up as the words are coming out, I will get the same, or perhaps a heightened, sensory engagement from my eyes that have for so long subdued.

People have been telling me to type the proper way from most of my life, and I flatly ignored them, I type faster when I look at my hands, I feel as though I make less simple mistakes when I do this. However I can’t ignore that a fundamental problem may have a fundamental solution!

The issue at hand is that I am now rewriting my brain to be able to do this.

It’s like how writing on a page with one’s off hand brings them back to elementary school. Sure with training and diligence you can learn to write with your off hand, but after years of only using one hand, going back to learn with the other seems only useful for someone expecting to have an accident…maybe someone who feeds alligators.

For my part, typing in this stultified method of spurts and sputters and mistakes on nearly every word feels like a regression to such a primordial stage of my life. I am met with a sense of shame for putting this off for so long, but also a sense of excitement to be learning that which I have put off for so long. It’s exciting to think that there is something I have been missing for so long, now being realized.

The idea is not to just be good or decent at typing while looking at the screen, but to make it second nature and even surpass my previous abilities.

So in an effort to train myself and learn about how this might make me a better writer, I’m going to be posting this to inform you that I’m going to try my damnedest to make at least one post a day in this style for the rest of the month. I’m hoping such a regimen will be the rigor I need to shake out of a bad habit and become better at what I do.

What I end up posting daily will likely be some kind of stream of consciousness with a time limit, probably about a page in length, and made with no intention of continuing unless there happens to be some kind of public outcry for more of some post or another.

I typed all of the above without looking at my hands for more than a few cursory adjustments of my hands and I feel pretty good about this….

it took me an hour (0__0)