Junk Food

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jasmine: the Introverted Sorceress, Part One

Night time at the train station always made Jasmine uncomfortable.  The pushy people, the echoes and the lights mostly.  She almost always stared too long at the lights as they moved in long diagonals, projecting flickering vibrations.  When the trains pulled in they howled and that upset her too.  There was always such a long pause before the doors opened.  The rush of people and smells made up for the stagnation and only agitated her nerves more.  Most days with books she could ignore it a little, but today it was suffocating.  She spent her few moments in line to board daydreaming about whether or not other people felt that way too.  It seemed to her like she was the only one.

Two pages into her new chapter, someone asked her to sign another donation form.  It was for a basketball team from a local high school.  She must have made a strange face while she was thinking about the boy's half-hearted speech that he stopped mid sentence and scoffed at her.  Then he walked away.  She hated it when people did that.  It made her feel even more alone.  Now she was thinking about what expression she could possibly have made to make him react that way, or if it was just the way she looked, instead of those first couple pages in her chapter.  That bothered her most of all.

It was raining on her street.  Jasmine loved the rain because it made people move slow and carefully.  She felt less like her own pace made more sense.  She knew how to be fast, it just upset her in the same way the train station at night upset her.

"Fast people are stupid" She mumbled to herself.  The words got lost in the downpour, "They make me feel stupid for being slow but they don't see how the world really looks.  They miss everything."

After turning her usual pattern of corners she turned on tuesdays, Jasmine skipped up the short steps into her porch.  The end of her walk home was the only time she ever skipped.  She fumbled with her keys like always and heard a skittering.  Her fumbling stopped with an abrupt rattle and slink as the keys fell flat next to her feet.

"Hello?"

Only rain.

Her eyes became wide and her pale skin white.  She wanted to be a cat and hide behind her claws in the hardest-to-reach spot around.  Instead of becoming a cat, she just stood there staring into the night.  Her eyes darted from bush to bush and her adrenaline pumped through her making her hands shake and her face quiver.  Finally after several eternal seconds she knelt down to pick up her keys and went inside.

***

The next day, at QQC Enterprises, her mind wandered.  Jasmine thought of little else beside that moment on the porch the night before.  She always use to mind being surrounded by many anonymous strangers and the office was no exception.  The thin carpet cube walls were all that stood between her and the dry forced interaction beyond.  Even her computer screen, her last bastion of solitude, betrayed her with every stroke of the keys.

The smell of the place was wretched, so Jasmine always plugged her nose with plastic wishbone plugs. She removed it to take a sip of coffee from her carafe.  Spinning sideways in her chair, she caught a quick glimpse of a strange woman looming toward her.  She quickly spun back to hide inside her computer screen and tapped the keys like crazy.

"Hello?" A new voice.  Smoother than most.

She glanced up while tapping nonsense on her keyboard and tried to ignore the powerfully attractive woman resting on her cubicle.  Resting.

"What is it?" She hadn't meant for it to sound so curt.

Visibly taken aback, Chloe shot back "You been here long?  I know just about every programmer in the building but I don't know you." She coyly tapped a loose folder against her palm as she leaned in overhead.

"About three years eight months."

"Huh.  Well you got a name, Three Years Eight Months?" Chloe was absolutely pouring out of her half-open button down dress shirt.

"Jasmine."

"Hey Jasmine, I'm Chloe."

"Hi."

"Hi."

Jasmine realized she had written ten long lines of completely ridiculous gibberish and that it was probably visible from where Chloe was standing.  She turned the screen of in a brief panic and sat still.

"Are you busy?  I can come back later."

"I was just getting ready to go eat lunch.  Excuse me." In a sudden torrent, Jasmine swung up from her chair and into her favorite coat and made a dash for the door.

"Jasmine!" Chloe turned every head on the floor when she called after her.  The door slammed behind her.  "You forgot your lunch," she finished to herself.

***

The train catapulted through the MacArthur tunnel and screamed as it passed another.  Jasmine tapped her foot and could think of nothing more exciting than the two trains colliding in the dark.  She felt so morbid for thinking it, but it was like a sickening thrill to her.  She hated roller coasters, crowded theme parks, driving fast and heights, yet found herself locked in thought with the imagined crash.

First all of the lights would crackle and snap off and the windows would shatter all around.  People would be launched from their seats into each other in each car spraying blood and vomit everywhere.  There would be no telling whose face had your foot through it or when the next thoughtless flailing human would crash into you.

Jasmine grinned without noticing.

"Did you know that more people die in car wrecks than airplanes and trains combined?  By about at least 4 times, I think." Chloe slid into the seat next to Jasmine.  She was still holding her lunch.

"Hi."

"Hi.  You know you forgot your lunch back there."

She had to laugh, "Is that my lunch?"

"I tried to find you but you sped off like Speedy Gonzales!"

"I am not like Speedy Gonzales." Jasmine caught herself smiling and shied away for a moment and said, "Well how come you still have it?  That was like five hours ago!"

"There she is!  Here," she handed her the semi greasy bag, "I ate your banana."

"Okay."

There was a long and very awkward silence, as there always was when conversations between strangers and Jasmine reached this phase.

"You like movies?"

"Not really." She blinked away the fear and dared to ask, "Why?"

"Cus I'm going to see one tonight and I wanted to know if you liked movies and wanted to come.  But since you don't like them I'll just go by myself.  It's okay, I was going anyway."

"No, I would - well what kind of movie is it?"

"A violent one.  Lots of blood and swearing.  Just like the ones I had to sneak over to friends' houses at night to watch when I was little.  You in?"

Chloe looked at Jasmine now like nobody ever did.  She felt uncomfortable at first, but forced herself to look up and saw Chloe's eyes every time, just piercing through to the core of her.  Each time she glanced into Chloe, she felt a little bit more courage to do it again.

"Okay."

"Great!  This is the stop, come on!"

Suddenly Jasmine was being pulled through the crowded train and into the front of the departing commuters.  She was squeezing Chloe's hand so tight by the time she realized she was holding it, it was too late to retract back into the comfort of her pockets.

Chloe led Jasmine down strange Berkeley side streets at the speed of an extrovert bounding toward sensational relief.

They turned dark corners into bright busy streets and crossed them together hand in hand.  Wind blew across the heavier intersections, but always in the direction she felt it wanted to.  Just as Jasmine began to relax and accept the new pace, Chloe stopped and turned to her and proudly presented, "The theater!" with her entire body.  She then jerked Jasmine into the doors like a wild pregnant mare.

They said nothing in line, except for "Two please!"

This was utter shy-person hell.  The theater was full when they got there and there were people standing in the aisles spilling popcorn as they laughed for what appeared to be no reason.  There was a roar of haphazard conversation that rose and fell and crushed Jasmine beneath itself.  The environment dawned slowly on Jasmine like a sickness.  Somehow Chloe found two seats, in the relative center of the dark theater.

"There!"

"I don't feel good, Chloe." As she stumbled over feet and nearly slipped on popcorn twice.

"What!  It hasn't even started yet!" Chloe swam through the crowded aisles and found the row, "Use the sticky soda to stop yourself if you slip." She smiled back at her.  They crashed down into their seats and immediately reclined.  She touched Jasmine's leg lightly and locked eyes with her for the first time since the train.  "Just relax."

"Okay." Jasmine melted back into her seat and let Chloe put her hand wherever she wanted once the lights went down.

***

To Jasmine's surprising disappointment, Chloe had not put her hand anywhere she had wanted her to.  They were holding hands again, but the pace was different now somehow.  Jasmine began to feel uneasy again.  Her feet kept up but she felt sad and couldn't figure out why.  Chloe led her down through more side streets, dark and light until she found herself turning a familiar corner and stood bewildered before her own doorstep.  Chloe's hand unclasped and released hers and she stood back and beamed at her.

"Good night then." Chloe leaned in and kissed Jasmine softly between her ear and her neck and then on the other side of her nose just above her lips.

Stunned, Jasmine gasped a "Good night," and slowly fell, no floated, backward against the front steps she had always savored skipping past.  She picked herself up from a daze and on her feet again regained a more Jasmine way of seeing.  She was still holding her greasy lunch bag.

Chloe was gone.  Jasmine went inside, listening for a soft whispered hello.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Everdark Whispers


There was a place in the pacific northwest of America where the elders dared not to go.  It reminded those who saw the end, with their own desperate eyes, of what it had felt like to lose hope.    But they didn’t remember much before the empire fell.  In the forests and glades, somewhere in the People’s Republic of Oregon, a thick dark valley slowly devoured the plants and animals that surrounded it.  Helpless against the consumption, all life became slowly trapped between the Everdark, as it was called by those who remembered, and the places where the toxic sunlight burned hot through the holes in the sky.

As with most of the American states, Oregon and Washington had merged with some of their neighbors after the Federation lost power.  Small settlements began to develop as people founded communities with other survivors around them.  By the year twenty-one twenty, the states had all gone back to agrarian economic societies.

Farmland with good soil was the new prized real estate and the market was getting bloodier by the decade.  Pretty soon all that remained of the great American empire was forgotten as Melinda Zulinski, the last of the Zeitcaust survivors, passed from the world.  She lived to be one hundred and eight and left her legacy woven in the stories she told to her grandchildren.

*             *            *

Willow opened her eyes for the first autumn dawn, and peeled her body from her lover's.  She rolled around in her furs next to Jonah for an hour or so, but he still twitched, dreaming, in a way that could not be faked.  So she touched herself and thought of how she climbed atop him in the dark like a motorcycle and how powerful that made her feel.  She could still feel the heat of him.

The wind shook the golden grass that threatened to snap at once, it was so brittle.

At full light, Willow gathered her tanning equipment and her favorite pre-Zeitcaust magazine simply titled "Cycles", and climbed the short hill back to Camp Central.  She liked flipping through the old pages and smelling the paper while she waited for her new leather to set.  Jonah was not far behind, a rusty assault rifle slung loosely back.  His hands were full with small sacks of seeds and grain.  His feet drug a path to the camp's main stores where he left his and Willow's shares for that week.  Theirs was always a modest one, yet it was almost always the same amount, so their fellow Weaver Camp citizens were almost always grateful.  It was more than most couples in the camp could produce that didn't result in another mouth to feed.  Both were purposes that could not be argued against.

So that was the way of things until Illiah said otherwise.  Nobody spoke above an elder.

Decades of drought winters had brought lessons to the survivors of exactly what to expect in the autumn; hungry Ferals with lots of guns and practice killing.  Desperate people without skilled agrarian communities usually meant hostile and ultra-violent raids.  The Weavers had guns and the wall and the illusion of security but they had no solidity or true experience.  They had been left alone for the most part the recent years due to such a small size of community.  Thanks to Illiah, however, their reputation had grown more and more widely known across the Pac during spring and their crops did exceptionally well that year.  She was so concerned with production, and keeping her title "Champion" on as many lips and ears as possible, that she ignored the obvious backlash that comes with all fame.

"Every night I keep expecting to wake up with an arrow in my chest and a freshly cooked chicken squawkin' on the tip." Jonah said to Willow as she slid into the bedfurs beside him.

"At least it'll be cooked and you won't get sick." She kissed him goodnight.  

*         *        *

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Cosmic Child Excerpt 2

The blast took my breath but I kept my footing.  I remember thinking that this was going to be the most exciting death ever.  Complete with karmic irony!

My glowing hands clenched the metal railing, that flimsy ass railing, so tight I knew it was going to break if I moved.  This was the end of the world, as far as I knew it.  This was me finding my voice by accident for the first time.  When I realized the blast didn't kill me, or knock me down the windy fucking staircase that snaked up the inside of this ridiculous "wizard" tower this bitch lived in, I immediately panicked and screamed.  It was so primal that I lost myself in the moment, in the sound, inside of the vibrating metal of the flimsy ass railing.  Glass broke around me, above me.  It rained down the stairs and threatened to slice out my god damn eyes.  That's when it all started going really well for me.

The Witch named Fury was stunned.  She may have possibly run out of - mana?  Chi?  Mojo?  Fucking magic juice? - or simply gotten careless.  But I found a hole and I exploited it.  Two twin beams of energy blasted from my open palms and pinned Fury to the wall.  Rock and dust sprayed everywhere.  It kind of got in my mouth, which is odd that I remember that detail as being one of the worse things that happened to me that day.

That's the point where this all starts getting fuzzy.

Somehow I ended up mostly buried in a giant pile of rubble and Fury was nowhere to be found.  What is even weirder is that I was in a completely different part of town than the one I entered the tower from.  But the flimsy metal railing was there, the concrete dust tasted the same, fucking everything about it.  The same!  Oh, except for being pinned beneath an armoire that smelled like old lady perfume.  I had forgotten seeing that in the way in cus I was all sneaky sneaky floor's a creaky.  You get the picture.

Come on, now, Cosmos, don't fail me now.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Robotique

Inspiration for this came from a video a friend posted online about tiny robots that can fly around, avoid barriers or obstacles, work in teams and even build simple structures using magnets.  My mind of course soared to the land of the future where technology is everything and the world no longer resembles a lush wild habitat but a techno-industrial global metropolis.

So now I have to tell a story about Joe.  Joe is fictional but very much alive.

Act one contains frivolous imagery, as usual.  The exposition is clear but not as sharp and concise as I like it.  Joe is introduced and we find out he is dying.  At the end of the act, his brain is put into a low-tech flying robot but it is very fragile.  There is a risk of loss of consciousness but he does it anyway because he is so scared of death.  The relief of a successful consciousness transfer marks the end of Act one.

Act two the flying robot body begins to fall apart.  The maintenance expectations are too low and Joe can barely keep it from falling apart.  This puts him in almost the same condition he was in during the beginning of Act one when he discovers he is dying and decides to transfer his mind.  A series of tests and prototype bodies come along.  Joe finds himself becoming a guinea pig for a carousel ride of experiments involving several stages of what ends up becoming his more permanent body.  Only real catch is that the body is the size of a sky scraper and moves at lumbering slow speeds relative to the rest of the world.  Joe is alone but he becomes proud in his new form.  Powerful yet humble.  He feels enlightened.  

This enlightenment is short lived however, when the disconnect he experiences between himself and the mortal world keeps him in the dark about a political eruption.  The humans have been using him as a staging area for their radical movement against brain transfers.  Joe is powerless against this threat that is literally happening inside of his colossal body.  One human woman enters the core of Joe's brain center and learns to drive him.  She forces the activists to leave by operating the body, which had been static for many decades.  The activists lose their vigor and steam as they run screaming into the open arms of the law.  She saves him by taking him half way around the world, from his home in the Republic of California to the Chinese Conglomerate Alliance where there are many others like him and he can be safe while his body is repaired.  

While his body is recuperating, the woman begins falling in love with him and wants to undergo a similar procedure.  Joe forbids it, but she goes behind his back anyway and arranges for them both to be placed in bodies the size of space shuttles that can fly and operate in zero gravity environments.  The catch is that they have to serve as prototype spacecraft for the CCA and test warp drives and participate in other volatile experiments.  They are promised they would remain in the same fleet so they could be together, but the promise is almost immediately broken when a global war breaks out between RoC and CCA.  Joe makes off with one of the experimental warp drives and zaps himself into uncharted space and is all alone once again with very little solar power.  The second act ends with Joe adrift in space with his power cells unable to recharge due to lack of sufficient solar energy within range.

Act three begins with a tiny space probe from unknown origin.  It inspects Joe from aft to stern and determines that he is indeed a living thing, we presume.  A kind of space tug boat comes to take him away and they warp out together to another part of space.  When Joe comes to, he is greeted by an ancient planet-sized robot creature that is somehow able to communicate with him, though at first he doesn't realize how.  Then it becomes clear that the planetbot is in fact his companion, the woman who he was separated with.  She says she was taken in by a sort of Galactic Federation of Intelligent Machines capable of slowly altering the course of galactic movement and patterns in the stars.  Joe must decide whether to continue growing and expanding or to die.  His power cells are failing and will never be able to be recharged again.  This is his last chance to cling to life.  He must use all the power left in his cells to make the transfer happen.

Denouement: (I love that word)

When his mind is transfered, he discovers that he is not clear enough about what exactly he is going to be transfered to.  It turns out he becomes a small, flying robot with highly degraded awareness and intelligence due to the repeated mind transfers he has undergone.  He lives out the rest of his eternal days as a maintenance bot in a factory in a big city on the planetoid robot body of the woman he had loved.

End!

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Shit you're not clear on?

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Scene

A scene ends when you change the location or the time within which you have placed your subject(s). There are stricter rules for scriptwriting than there are in literature, but I am pretty sure the idea is the same. 

They are building blocks, just like sentences and paragraphs, and they are indeed much better when full of juicy meat like substance.

Lightness

Saying the word "happy" right now feels like the first time I said "fuck".  It comes shockingly naturally and I can't remember ever not saying it about myself.

Wait, what?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blankity Blank Games Spec Ad

This is a script for a spec ad that I wrote this time last year.  Unfortunately it never made it to production, but I still very much want to produce/direct this piece.

SOOOOO if anyone is interested, give me money!  Hahaha.

FADE IN:

WHITE:

DREAMER (V.O.)
In my dream I travel from person to person, from mind to mind.  At last I inhabit a killer.  A mercenary.  I’ve killed one of my own.  Betrayal in cold blood and my brothers in arms smell a rat.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

DREAMER runs full speed through a thick forest.  He breathes in heavy mechanical gasps and exhales steam.  The ANTIQUE RIFLE in his hand catches branches as his stride quickens.

Thunder cracks.

Dreamer nearly slips but catches his balance.

Closing in behind him are three men.  All are masked and armed.  They point and yell in a FOREIGN DIALECT to one another.  Rage fuels their every move.

Dreamer turns a corner and opens his stride into a grassy clearing.  His pursuers follow only a short distance behind, still closing.

DREAMER (V.O.)
I distinctly remember resigning to my impending end.  As my brothers more than match my quickening gate.  They will catch up to me soon.  Then they will end me.

EXT. ROCKY LEDGE - DAY

Dreamer crests a sheer cliff.  Pebbles roll from his sliding feet as he swings his balance back to avoid a less honorable death.

Thunder cracks again.

Two rifles lock and click. (O.S.)

ECU: A dirty thumb pulls back the hammer on an ANTIQUE REVOLVER.

ECU: The chamber spins into place.

DREAMER (V.O.)
As I catch my last breaths, I feel the cold steel barrel before it even touches my right temple.  I never see the bullet.

The pistol fires.

WHITE:

DREAMER (V.O.) (CONT’D)
The crack of the flint is faint and damp and it sounds like I’m under water.  I feel the very life of me being swiftly pulled from my fingertips, my toes, up through my chest and neck, gathering momentum as it goes.  Finally it reaches my head and I feel nothing.

FADE TO BLACK:

VOID

Rumbling thunder.

DREAMER (V.O.)
Then thunder rolls to a deafening crash.

Deafening thunder crash.

INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

ECU: A TWENTY-SIDED DIE rolls to a stop in the center of the frame.  The number “20” settles on the top.

Four GAMERS, one of them, the Dreamer, erupt into cheering and laughter.

DREAMER
Oh man, another crit?

GM
Yeah.  Sorry man, tough luck.

GM hands Dreamer a BLANK GENERIC CHARACTER SHEET and a PENCIL.

FADE TO LOGO:

VOICE (V.O.)
Blankity Blank Games.  Cus you can never take it too seriously.

The Cosmic Child

Some men are just old because they look it, even if they really aren't.  This one old man outside a Peet's Coffee in the Pearl District looked me dead in the eye one day.  His miscolored, aching eyes, so dry they made me blink and well.

"You are the cosmic child." He named me.

This distorted my perspective and ego profoundly for the following year and a half.  Who the fuck was he kidding?  The cosmic child?  But then I thought, really?

Everybody wants to be special, I guess.

The conversation that followed on this, my name day, went in all sorts of astronomically comical directions.  My heart pounding with joy, like some kind of opposite from a whore in church.  Those first few months in Portland were pretty dry.  I knew I was just experiencing some kind of ego high that wasn't really enlightenment.  It was earned.  It wasn't supported by some kind of rich epiphany.  He simply offered it to me and I ran with it.  For years, I ran with it.  Believing I was some kind of celestial creature born from a city I had only just arrived in that week.  I wanted to be connected to it all.  The culture, the hip shit.  The fucking zeitgeist.


That was my second mistake.

Then I let her in.  "Enemy," they whispered to me beneath my nightmares.  My only nightmares.  The snake crawled in an open sore and bit down.


Humility hit me hard then.  I think the planet cracked.  Perhaps it was from the massive concussion my ego made when it came screaming and white hot back down to Earth.  I gave up the dream, the special powers, the responsibility.  And I let the inspiration drift through my empty ape eyes and across the greyscale cityscape along with her spectre gods.

Sweat.  Not blood.  "E-ne-my," echoing and enchanting.  The word never held so much power before that.  It covered me like a blanket and left me shivering in the cold.

Cherry

There comes a time in every blog's girlhood when enough is enough and nature unleashes her fury.

POP

All systems go.