Category Archives: Fiction

Recent Writing Revelations

2016 is the year I write a lot. I’ve been aiming to do at least 100 words a day, and I usually do that. I’ve been doing Coursera work, outlining, flash fiction, and even some memoiring! I’ve been learning a lot of things lately and thought it would be nice to put to words what I’ve discovered in the first quarter of this year.

  • I still suck at creating titles. You can definitely tell because of this blog. Part of it has to be marketing. Will it make a good hashtag? Is something else with a similar title already out there? Is it evocative of another work, and do you want it to be? You also tend to write much more of the middle stuff of stories than you do titles, so there’s just a lot less practice on it.
  • Memoiring is powerful. I haven’t grown up in any overly odd situations or gone on adventures, but I grew up in an abusive home. It’s hard to explain to people, as it doesn’t fit the standard ideas of what constitutes abuse. Being able to write about these events, even if it’s just for me, helps me realize how unnatural things were and how it affects me even today. I don’t think I’ll ever write a full book about this, or even if it’s something I’d want to share with a wider audience, but it is inspiration for many characters and scenes in my stories.
  • Interactive fiction: where to start? Project Zed is an idea I’ve had for a really long time, and I’d love to be able to write it. A big part of it that’s making it hard for me to get anywhere is that I’d need programming skills (or recruit someone who can) to create the interface for the story. At least things such as drones, wetware and neural networks are much more common now than when I originally had the idea, so I should be able to craft something much more realistic.
  • It’s okay to be like others. Growing up, one of the stories I absolutely loved was Eragon. It was quintessential hero’s journey, someone rising from nothingness, mystical creatures and intelligent dragons. I loved it and was really into the fanfiction community; I didn’t write too much of it, but I beta-read and edited for others and did lots of theorycrafting about the subsequent books. Now, looking back at the books, I can see the flaws and how it really is “Star Wars with Dragons.” But that’s okay! Because I absolutely loved it, as did millions of others. It made me write more, think about literature more, expand my own ideas about fantasy. It made me read Earthsea and Garth Nix and many others. As I’ve been nailing down the outline for Enter Humanity, I’ve realized that it’s very much like Game of Thrones, with the political issues and multiple POVs and no true “evil.” There are very few original stories left, and someone, somewhere will always love what you write.
  • Maybe the Oxford comma really is necessary.

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Inter Unum Sommnium et Alterum

Each and every night, before I go to bed, I travel to another world. It’s not a dream, since I can still control myself. When I drift off into sleep I leave this place. Tonight I’m lying on a hill in a spruce forest, the needles smelling sharp in my nose. I can see the pale blue sky with paler clouds stretched across. In the distance was a jagged mountain. It was like a pyramid; I knew there was something buried deep inside.

The dragon that lived on the cliffs took flight. I never get to get close to it, I usually fall asleep before that. There had to be other creatures that lived in this world, though I’ve never seen them. I haven’t seen much of here, but the mountain is always there, somewhere in the distance.

People keep saying that I need to apply to colleges. I don’t want to. I know I’m not good enough to get in. I never did well in classes. I’m not good at anything. There’s the state school I could always go to. Everyone treats it as a joke. It’s where you go to be a gym teacher. .

I don’t want to be a gym teacher. I don’t want to get stuck at school. But I don’t want to get stuck at a shitty job, either.


Now I find myself on the mountain itself. The rock is shorn sharply, as if someone came down with a knife and carved it from something else. That’s how glaciers form mountains, isn’t it? By just cutting into the Earth and pulling everything else away.

You can see out for miles up here. There’s the spruce forests covering the rolling hills and a glinting river through one of the valleys. Up to my right I can see a plateau. There’s a meandering heard of brown creatures out there. I wonder what those are. They could be horses, or buffalo? Maybe they’re aurochs like in that book I read once.

A sudden updraft of wind knocks me backwards. It’s the dragon taking flight. Its flint-grey hide matches so well with the mountain. It circles around the mountain a few times, too high for me to get a good look, then it flies off in some direction I can’t see; the entire mountain is in the way.

Mom gave me some applications to fill out. I check what they needed. Transcripts of my grades (shit). Letters of recommendations from teachers (shit). Essays on why I want to get in (fuck). $100 application fee each (christ). There’s 5, 6 of them here.

Is this what everyone else is doing? How do they expect me to get this all done? The due dates are all in a month. What am I going to do.


I’m now on some other part of the mountain tonight. I feel uneasy, exposed, like I’m backed up against a wall. I scan the land below me to see if I recognize anything. There’s a big lake that I think I’ve been to once before. There’s more forests out there, but I think I see some deciduous woods this time. I look up to see, right at eye level, another mountain in the midground.

On it was a bristling black tower. It looked like a fortress rising out of the face of the rock. Seeing it made me anxious. Things like that just don’t appear on their own. How long were other people here? Did they know I was here too?

A deep sound hit me as it shook the ground. I could hear rocks tumbling down the mountain off to my left. My eyes snapped to the tower, something rising from it. It, too, was a dragon.

Today I fucked up. After class I went to my Spanish teacher and asked for a recommendation. He just looked at me. Are you sure about that? he asked me. I just left the room. I hid in the band closet the rest of the day.

I tried looking over the applications again, and I just couldn’t do it. I’m not going to get in with my grades. My teachers don’t like me. Do they even know who I am?

I was on the mountain again. It was so odd, that I ended up here three nights in a row. Normally I don’t end up at the same place twice in a week. I could see that dark tower out on that other mountain. I didn’t like that there was another dragon here. Or that there was someone out there who controlled him, and enough people to build himself such a fortress, too.

I sat down and pulled my knees to my chest. I didn’t want to leave this place, but when I’ll get found out, I won’t be safe anymore. There was no way that I could defend myself, either. I didn’t know how to fashion tools out of stone to create better ones. I couldn’t just punch a tree down to get wood.

Next to me sat the flinty grey dragon. It was big, but it didn’t seem to be aggressive. It was looking out at the black tower.

“You know there’s another dragon out there, don’t you?” It didn’t respond, but I knew that it understood me. “You might be able to stand up to it, but I don’t know about everything else that lives there. It’s probably bad, too.

“What are you going to do?”

The dragon stood up, but then lowered its side towards me. It looked at me with silvery-blue eyes. In that moment we understood each other. I used its leg as a step and swung onto its back, where the neck met the body. I twisted my fingers in its soft mane and the dragon slipped off the mountain and into flight.

I knew that everything was going to be okay.

I’ll talk to my English teacher in the morning.

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Chicken Story

Once upon a time there was a farm, with all the typical barnyard fare, except there was no rooster. There was no need of one, as there was only the need of unfertilized eggs for the farmer and his wife to eat, so there was only one hen as well. She was a beautiful hen, with fluffy golden feathers. The ducks and the geese and the swallows and the owl could never be as beautiful as she.

Every day she would lay an egg, and every day she would sit on it, waiting for it to hatch. And every day it wouldn’t hatch, for there was no rooster. She knew that she didn’t need a rooster, for the there was no bull and yet the heifer gave milk, there was no dog and yet the bitch had pups. So why shouldn’t she have a chick without a rooster around?

She spent her days sitting on her nest and empty eggs, angrily pecking at any of the other animals that came by. Soon the other animals left her alone in her corner of the barn. She was alone, but she didn’t care, she knew that one day she would get her chick.

And one day, it did happen. She was sitting on an egg that looked no different than any other. She had the same anticipation that it would become an empty shell with a fluffy chick flopping out. There was a faint cracking sound, and she looked down her breast. Something was trying to hatch out of the egg!

She stepped off her nest, and the egg was rocking so slightly, whatever was inside was trying to get out. The hen had no idea what was supposed to happen between this and the hatching. Her squawking and screeching attracted the other animals, and the mother duck knew that the chick was in trouble, that it was too weak to break out on its own.

The duck tried telling the hen that they had to intervene, that she had to do the same for her own children, and the hen only laughed at her. Those ducklings weren’t as good as her own chick, they needed a drake to be born. The hen sat and watched the egg, waiting for it to hatch.

A day later, the chick finally broke through the shell and collapsed in the nest. The hen was amazed, she finally had a chick, but it was so ugly. It had grey, bumpy skin and was covered in slime and goo. Where were the beautiful golden feathers? The hen kicked the sickly chick out of her nest and got to work on making another egg.

The chick had no perception of what her mother was, since she was already forsaken from the nest. All she knew is that she was tired and cold. As the mother hen napped in her nest, the owl brought the chick up to its own home in the rafters. The owl had had its own chicks that had grown up and left to make their own nests, and she couldn’t leave a chick to die alone. The swallow parents brought the chick food, as the owl soon discovered that chickens don’t eat mice.

The grey, slimy chick slowly grew stronger, and once she opened her eyes, she was just as fluffy and pretty as any other chick. Once she learned how to walk, she played with the swallow chicks in the rafters. She never bothered checking on her mother in her nest below, as the owl was the mother for all she knew.

The hen had another egg that bore a chick, and this chick hatched out perfectly, it came out fuzzy and yellow and calling for its mother’s attention. She spent all her time taking care of the chick, though she rarely left the nest, as she still hoped that she would be graced with a third, roosterless chick. She let her chick play by itself in the barn, but always close enough so she could watch without having to leave her nest.

When the first chick noticed that her swallow friends were starting to fly, she asked her owl mother why she wasn’t flying. Give it time, the owl told her. She asked why she grew faster and was already much bigger than the swallow chicks. We’re all different, even though we’re all birds, the owl said.

The chick tried to fly with her swallow friends, but she didn’t have the feathers that they did. They were a shiny steely blue, while she was still very yellow and fluffy. You’ll get your feathers soon, the swallow parents always told her. Some chicks just take a little longer to grow.

She soon did, though she had big, wide feathers on big, wide wings. Her friends were all small and sleek and could flit around the rafters of the barn. Their size difference was apparent, as she was becoming as big as her owl mother, who already towered over the swallows. When she finally learned to fly, the chick was very clumsy. She felt terrible, she would never be as good as her friends.

We can do things besides fly, the other swallow chicks told her. They still chased each other around, looked for bugs hiding in the hay bales, looking out at the rest of the farm from the window, pestering the bats while they slept.

One day, the swallow parents felt that their chicks were all old enough and strong enough fliers to leave the barn on their own. The yellow chick, who had grown up to be a big, golden hen, wanted to go as well, despite not being as good at flying. The owl still let her go, she would be close enough to get help, and her friends would be with her.

All the chicks flew down to the floor of the barn. They played in the air, looking at the horses and sheep and the heifer up close. The golden chick ran after them, making short flights to get up as high as the swallows, though she could run as fast as they could fly.

The mother hen squawked. Who are you, she demanded. The chick explained that she was the chick raised by the owl up in the rafters. The hen wasn’t very happy. How is there another hen, the only ones are my daughter and I! Another hen stepped forwards from behind her mother, wings tiredly hanging from her sides. This chick, the second chick that the hen had hatched, had dull brown feathers and looked quite dull.

Hey, she looks a bit like you, one of the swallows said. She should play with us, another said. The golden chick asked if the brown chick could play, and the mother hen regarded this new chicken carefully. She told her daughter that she could play, just to stay within view of the nest.

The gold chick and the swallows played like they normally did, and the brown chick struggled to keep up with them. She could barely jump, and she couldn’t even fly. The gold chick asked why she couldn’t, and the brown chick snapped that real chickens don’t need to fly. The brown chick puffed out its chest and walked back to its nest that sat next to her mothers.

The gold chick wondered about the brown chick for the rest of the time that she and the swallows played in the lower level of the barn. When they returned to the rafters at the end of the day, she asked the mother owl about who these other two chickens were. The owl told her about how the hen had laid the chick’s egg, but rejected the chick since she was hatched sickly. The owl had brought her up to the rafters to raise her, since her egg-mother refused to acknowledge her.

The brown chick said that I’m not a real chicken, the gold chick said sadly. Chickens lay eggs and raise their chicks to be good chickens, the owl told her. She laid you and that other chick, but did she raise you? And did she raise the brown chick to be a good chicken?

The gold chick thought about this as she sat in the nest and the sun was setting. She thought about this as she slept, and thought about it as she dreamed. She was woken up the next morning by the young swallows asking her to go play with them. With the owl’s blessing, she flew out of the barn door with her friends, to explore what the rest of the farm had in store for her.

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Transmediation of Watchmen

Rorschach’s journal: October 12th, 1985:

Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!” And I’ll look down and whisper “no.”

They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or president Truman. Decent men, who believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice.

Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.


A smiling yellow face floats in a sea of blood on a cold New York street. An ugly world-weary man in a dirty raincoat walks through the puddle. The deli owner yells something at him, but he doesn’t hear. All he’s concerned about is carrying his sign that proclaims the coming end time. The deli owner shakes his head and continues hosing the blood into the storm drain. The ugly man tracks bloody foot prints behind him.

“Hmm,” the detective says, looking at the blood splat below. “That’s quite a drop.”

“Yeah, poor guy,” his partner said, inspecting the apartment door. “Y’know, I always wonder…, do you think you black out before you hit the side walk or what?”

The detective shudders. “Frankly I don’t need to know that bad.” He turns from the broken window and scans the disheveled room. “What do you think happened here?”

“Well, looks like someone broke in by bustin’ this door down. That would take either two guys or one guy on serious drugs, because the door had a chain fastened on the inside.” The partner pulled his cigarette from his mouth and lifted the door chain and lock, ripped from the wall. Which means that the occupant was home when it happened.”

“Hmm,” The detective walked towards the center of the room. Spilled bottles of liquor stained the carpet. Framed paintings lay on the floor, chairs were over turned. Dark blood on the floor and walls painted a picture of a brutal attack. “I saw the body, an’ he looked beefy enough to protect himself. For a guy his age, he was in terrific shape.”

“What, you mean apart from being dead?”

“No…I mean this guy, this Blake guy, the occupant…he had muscles like a weightlifter. He would have put up some kind’a fight. I’m certain.” The detective had already seen the body. The victim, Edward Blake, was old, scarred, missing some teeth, but his body looked like he could enter a strongman competition. And win. At least that’s what he could tell from what was left of him. The coroner’s office would give him a full analysis later.

“Yeah, well, looks like he lost.” The partner stuck his cigarette backed in his mouth and looked at the shattered mirror on the wall. The detective was looking at a framed photograph on a side table. “Maybe it was a couple of guys and they just overpowered him.”

“Maybe. The data we have suggests he’s been doing some sort of overseas diplomatic work for years. Lotta classy expense-account living. Maybe he just got soft. He don’t look too soft in this photograph. Wonder how he got that scar? It looks…” He peered closer at the picture.

“Hey! The guy he’s shakin’ hands with in the picture, it’s Vice-President Ford!”

The partner came over and took a look. “Hey, so it is! Well, listen, between you and me, I think we can rule him out as a suspect. A job like this just isn’t his style.”

“That’d be real funny if we had any better leads to go on.” The detective placed the photo back on the table. “I mean, what is this? A little money got stolen, but no way is this a straight burglary. Somebody really had it in for this guy. I mean, how did he go outta the window?”

The two detectives walked down the hallway to the elevator. Police protected the crime scene from any unwanted prying eyes.

“Maybe he tripped against it?” the partner asked.

“Forget it. That’s strong glass, man. You trip against it, even a big guy like that, it don’t break. I think you’d have to be thrown.”

“Well, if this Edward Blake was as big as you say he was, then one guy would never lift him, so we’re talking two assailants here.” They stepped into the elevator. A man was already inside.

“What floor ya want?” he asked.

“Oh, uh, ground floor, please,” the detective said.

“Ground floor, comin’ up.” An image of Edward Blake being thrown through the window and splatting against the ground flashed in the detective’s mind. Normally cases didn’t get to him like this, but there was something so odd about this case… He turned to his partner as they stepped out of the elevator.

“So look, you haven’t answered my question…is this a burglary, or do we look for some other motive?”

“Listen,” the partner said, “it could just have been a burglary…maybe a bunch’a Knot-Tops on KT-28s or ‘luudes. You know how it is…a lot of crazy things happen in a city of this size. They don’t all need motives.”

“So what you’re saying is—”

“I’m saying let’s not raise too much dust over this one. We don’t need any masked avengers getting interested and cutting in. Follow it up discreetly, sure. But in public.

“Well, what say we let this one drop out of sight?”

The detective shook his head as they walked down the street, back to the precinct. “I dunno. I think you take this vigilante stuff too seriously. Since the Keene Act was passed in ’77, only the government-sponsored weirdos are active. They don’t interfere.”

“Screw them,” the partner spat. “What about Rorschach?

“Rorschach never retired, even after him and his buddies fell outta grace. Rorschach’s still out there somewhere. He’s crazier than a snake’s armpit and wanted on two counts, murder one. We got a cozy little homicide here. If he gets involved, we’ll be up to our butts in corpses.” He noticed the detective huddling inside his coat. “What’s the matter?”

“Uh, nothing.” The detective did a quick glance-back at a man carrying a sign reading THE END IS NIGH. Something about him made him uneasy. “Just a shiver. Must be getting’ a cold.”


That night, a pale full moon hung in the sky. A shadowy figure walks to a storm drain, plucking something out. He looks at the yellow, besmiled button in his gloved hand and then turns his attention skyward. Reaching into his coat he pulls out a gun. With a blast of compressed air a grappling hook shoots skyward; it latches onto the broken window of Edward Blake. The man climbs up the rope. He pulls himself into the room and hops in.

He pulls a flashlight out of his coat and then wanders into Blake’s room. After rifling through the drawers he goes digging in the closet. “Hunh,” he growls, pushing at the wall. He takes one of the wire coathangers and straightens it out, using it to poke at the wall. Something in the corner of the back wall catches his eye: a small button. He grumbles as he pushes it.

Some mechanism clicks and moves the back wall to the side. He pushes the panel aside to reveal a superhero’s costume with a small arsenal of weaponry. The masked intruder went through each item, stopping at a picture of a group of superheros posing for the camera.


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