Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Blob and His Boy by Steve Ormosi

This is one of my favorites from the 1000 word challenges I did.  The challenge for this week was to write a short story about a video game.  I thought about doing Mario Bros., too obvious.  Ditto Donkey Kong and Metroid.  I almost did one based on Star Fox, but eventually decided against it, figuring no one but me would like a story that mainly consisted of the lines, "Do a barrel roll!" and "Use your bombs to get through!"  Eventually I landed on A Boy and His Blob, which was a nice trip down memory lane, although, while writing I had an urge to do some research and actually play AB&HB.  What a piece of shit.  I highly recommend this story over the video game.


What fresh 8-bit hell is this?  I awake to a human sitting near the nest provided to me in the heart of the Earth government.  He is shorter than most of his race so I assume he is a youngling.  He makes clear that he is here to help with my troubles.  The humans have entire groups dedicated to warfare and they send me this incompetent whelp.  This is what they think of us.  My princess has been captured.  What else can I do but accept and join the fray with this poor sap.  All he does is make mistakes and I feel like he has had no debriefing whatsoever, no one has prepared him for the epic battle he will be joining once we reach my homeland.

The boy forces me to change shape several times, seemingly for his own amusement, each time the painful transformation warps my body and degrades my mind.  He gleefully tosses pill after pill down my throat until I don’t even know who I am anymore.  He turns me into an umbrella to be his own personal parasol.  I am a high priest of Bloberia, the largest province in Blobolonia, I have to remind myself.  This is humiliating.  The boy seems to have no recognition of how much agony he is putting me through and our different languages leave me no way to tell him. My only hope is that he’s running out of morphing pills, but his stash seems endless.

On my planet, the morphing pills are rare and used only in case of dire emergency.  Overuse can lead to catastrophic organ failure or dementia.  Here they sell them on every corner store.  I think the owners of these markets must be laughing at us.  I want to go home so badly, but this boy is the only hope I have of getting the princess back.  So I swallow the drugs and pray that I make it back in one piece.

As he whistles again, triggering my return to my original shape, I repeat the mantra that I learned in my training.  Blobobobob….blobobobob.  It does not help.  I bounce to his side only to be reminded of my next impending transformation.  He pulls out a coconut morph pill and jams it into my mouth.  I wince and shrink down to a small ball.  The boy picks me up and hurls me into a wall.  If only we could speak to each other.  I would have told him that this wouldn’t have worked.  Instead he has given me a slight concussion.  My thoughts begin to run together in my mind.

Soon, all I can think about is the pain and the princess.  All logic has gone away and been replaced with the constant betrayal that I feel and anger towards the humans for putting me through this.  When he tries to feed me a bubble pill, I turn away.  Despite my wish to save the princess, I know this will not help the situation.  The boy grabs me and pushes the pill forcefully down my throat.  I gag and transform.  The boy violates me by stepping inside of me.  We float and I do my best to pop.  A clean suicide is all I’m asking for now.  I’ve even forgotten the one thing I love in life.  The princess doesn’t matter anymore.  All that matters is that I end this suffering.  The boy floats for a long time, refusing to leave my body.  I feel used and disgusting.  How can I ever show my face back on my own planet now?  I’ve read that humans cry when they are emotionally distraught.  I wish I had that release.

When he finally whistles, I do my best to contract and squeeze the life out of him, but it doesn’t work.  I just go back to being a Blob.  I lie down and close my eyes, praying for the end, praying for anything else.  When I open them again I see an older human standing next to the boy.  They are smiling and I don’t understand.
They speak in their harsh human tongue for a moment and then they open a door to another room.  Through the doorway is my princess.  She is strapped to a slab and changing shape constantly.    A myriad of different objects that I’ve never even heard of a Blob becoming flash before my eyes and I think to myself, yes, do it to her, not me.  Leave me alone.  Don’t hurt me anymore.

That is obviously too much to wish for as they pick me up and tie me to my own slab.  There is a chart with pictures that I can make sense of.  It shows human children with slave Blobs of all shapes at their side.  Boys and their Blobs.  We are an accoutrement to them.  A utility device.   The treacherous humans have fooled all of us.  I should be trying to find a way to get this news back home.  My race is in jeopardy, but all I can do is weakly attempt to break my bonds.  Soon I give up and surrender to my fate.  There will be no joyful return to Blobolonia.  We are doomed.  I am doomed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Up the River, Down the River by Steve Ormosi

I won't bullshit you, this is a story about suicide.  If that makes you uncomfortable, you probably should not read it.  It's not a happy story, the only consolation is the fact that these people aren't real.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of real people who do kill themselves, and I've always been kind of morbidly fascinated with the reasoning and justification.  I don't think I could deal with such a final decision.  Anyway, if you're up for it, here's the story:

David’s shoes frantically scraped the air as he swung noiselessly.  Soon, his legs rested and, not long after, his mother entered the room and found him hanging by a thread.  She cried and cried.  Normally David would console her, like he had when his father killed himself in the same way, but now she had no one.  In an instant, David had taken away the only thing his mother still treasured, and secretly she hated him for that, even though her love and grief for her boy overwhelmed her.

She began planning her own demise the day after the funeral.  To the world, she exclaimed that she no longer believed in God, because, she thought, her real feelings were worse.  She felt that God hated her.  And the feeling was mutual.

Inside of her home she sat and wrote a note to those who might care.  She detailed the reasons for her death and the death of her hopes and dreams.  It was a marvelous piece of writing, she thought to herself.  If it was anything but a suicide note, she might have submitted it to be published.  But that was just another dream down the drain.  The note was signed at the end:

From Beyond the Grave,


There was a tear drop on the page, though what those who read it would never know, what they could not know, was that it was a tear of relief and not despair.  Now that her plan was cemented, she felt more in control than she had in years.

Susan took out a bottle of wine and poured herself a glass.  There was no reason, she felt, to go out sober.  So she sipped the best red she had and made a list of all the people who had wronged her.  When she started the list, she’d wanted to forgive these people.  But as she went, she realized that she still hated all of them.  The last two were her husband and her son, David.

“For leaving me alone.” She said when she finished writing, as though they’d asked her why.

As she tied the noose slowly, Susan reminded herself that there was nothing to be afraid of.  And nothing was better than this.  She put the rope down on the table and picked up the glass of wine, not much left now, it sloshed around the bottom of the glass and left bloody smears along the sides that ran slowly away until they were only memories.

Susan swallowed the last of the wine.  At least I’m the last of us, she thought as she took a stepstool from her closet.  No one else to let down.  No one else’s life to ruin.  She would be a simple afterthought, a bad day for her friends.  Not crushing depression, not debilitating sadness.

She hummed as she walked into the dining room, an old lullaby from when David was a baby.  She’d been happy then.  She thought of how he used to smile to hear her hum.  It made her smile.  She picked up the rope from the table and set the stepstool down just below the ceiling fan.

Susan let one solitary tear drop drip from her face onto the soft green carpet below.  She wiped the trail from her cheek and tasted it.  The salt reminded her of the times she’d once spent at the beach with David when he was a boy, the wind caressing her face, the soft warmth of the sun in late spring.  They’d fished for sand crabs as the waves lapped at their feet.  He’d always gotten so cold from going in the ocean and his lips would turn purple.  The same color they were when she’d found him.

She climbed the stepstool and tied the rope around the fan.  For a brief moment she thought about her husband.  He had been the one to start this nonsense.  He had been the one who made David follow him.  She guessed she should have known all along that he would be the death of her.  Those macabre wedding vows echoed in her head.  Till death do us part, nothing.  The only thing she was looking forward to was seeing him writhing in pain with her until the end of time.

Susan slipped the noose around her neck and took a few quick breaths.  Then she kicked the stool out from under her feet.  It wasn’t like they say.  Her life did not flash before her eyes, it was just pain and panic as she thrashed.  She still wanted to die, but not like this.  Her feet scaped the air as she gurgled noiselessly.  Her vision began to slowly fade in a cartoonish iris wipe.  She pulled frantically at the rope around her throat, but to no avail.  It only tightened its grip.

And then the fan fell. 

It was a heavy fan. 

The paramedics entered the house the next day after a call from Susan’s friend who had come to visit and been unpleasantly surprised.  They said the blunt trauma from the falling fan had finished what Susan had started with the rope.

Everyone said that it was very sad.  They all cried to read her suicide note.  Exceptionally written, everyone agreed.  But no one’s life was ruined and no one was inconsolably devastated.  Everyone went back to life as normal and Susan became the exclamation point at the end of a strange footnote in town history.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Statistical Analysis of Fear Based America

Every time something like what happened in Connecticut Friday happens, there is always a spate of, "Oh it's not like the good ol' days any more.  People are way crazier now."

I like to take every opportunity I can to remind people that they are wrong:

NYC - Violent Crime has been decreasing since 1990. - Remember crack?  Yeah, that was part of the good ol' days.  Lotta fucking crack heads doing a lot of crazy shit for like $15.

(I know it's tough to see, but that's what "Ctrl" + "+" is for.  Had to make it fit.)  

Crime rates lowest since the '70's motherfuckers.  Listen, Connecticut was a tragedy, but you can't let that make you stop thinking.  As much as everyone says the world is getting smaller, it is obviously still too big for people to process properly. People fly off the handle as though our personal safety is more in jeopardy now than it was yesterday, that is empirically and absolutely not true.  Your children still have the same chance of a lunatic walking into their school that they've always had.  It's never been a non-zero probability and it never will be.

On the plus side there are 53 or 54 MILLION (as of 2010) school age kids in this country, so while every life is precious ('cept them foreigners amirite?!, any of you even hear about this?), the odds of your child encountering in-school violence like that in CT is incredibly unlikely (in fact it's lower than when I was going to school).

And in case you were wondering, here is a summary of violent crime in schools which was also trending down through 2009 (see below).

That's right, your kids are statistically safer than you were, so please stop saying you're going to pull your kids out of school.  There have always been crazy people.  As long as they can get their hands on sufficiently deadly weapons, they will always do depraved things to others that are "horrifying" and "unimaginable."  Speaking of which, I have one more bone to pick. 

Please for the love of god stop telling me in the same sentence that someone has just done something unimaginable and they should be publicly tortured for it.  Yes, I understand the desire for revenge, but letting your emotions control you to the point where all empathy has been lost was what allowed the original asshole to do what he or she did in the first place.  No one should be tortured, especially not on live TV, this is first level Roman Colosseum shit.

Anyway, that's my rant of the week.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Want Some Cheese with that W(h)ine?

Here are a few hits from this week, conspicuously dry this time, but hell, check out some wines.

# Dark Horse presents The Black Beetle.  Pulpy new comic by Francesco Francavilla

# The International Wine Report, run by my good friend, Joe D'Angelo, is currently listing its year end TOP 50 list.  You know, if you're feeling fancy.

# Get the classic Start Menu in Windows 8 without using 3rd party software.  Count me in.

# Life before and after cell phones.

# What?  An optimistic outlook on the future that isn't delusional?  Adam Curtis on the future of journalism.

# Jack Stuef, more like Jack Douche.  The Oatmeal fights back.

# This is SciFi gold.  Thank you 12-12-12 and the rainbow bridge.  "We therefore party in heaven, if you will, as you party on Earth."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Men Enter by Steve Ormosi

Enter the barfighters, two individuals of excessive BACs and highly diminished reasoning.  Personally, I've never been in a bar fight, so I suppose it holds an air of mystique for me.  Seemingly, it's just a base, instinctual drive to avenge that leads people into bar fights or any fights, really.  What the combatants are avenging (or sometimes defending) is often whispy and quixotic, but the ability to let go of reason/decency/propriety and flip the fuck out is appealing to me (mainly because I can't figure out how to do it).  Yes, you'll never be looked upon as an upright citizen for being in a fight, but you also get to find out how much punishment you can take and how much you can really dish out.  Fights are raw.  Fights let us see the bare bones of the human condition with no restraints.  But fights also look really painful, which is another reason I avoid them. 

The man in the orange sweater cussed loudly as he stumbled from his stool.  He pulled up short just in front of my face and eyed me.

“The fook d’ya think yur looking at, laddie?” He asked.

“Garfield, I think.” I said, my slight buzz emboldening me a little, “The cartoon cat, not the former American president.”

Garfield turned around, found that he had no audience, thought for a moment and then decided to proclaim to his empty mug, “Funny kid ai’nee?”

The bartender, a young lady, looked at us nervously.  I wanted to assure her that it was going to be fine, but I knew it wouldn’t and I didn’t want to give her false hope just before I provoked the lunatic, so I simply smiled at her.  It did nothing to relax her visible concern.

The man turned back to me, leering, “Been lookin’ fer someone like you aaalllll night.”

Spittle hung from his lips as he spoke and he looked like he could topple over at any moment, but he eyed me intensely enough that I thought for a moment perhaps this was not what I had been hoping for after all.  I drove the thought from my mind and sharpened my own gaze.

“That’s good to hear,” I said, “Because I’ve been looking for someone like you, too.  See, I’ve always been kind of a pussy and getting into a barfi…”  He knocked me to my ass, and I hadn’t even gotten halfway through my speech.  My face immediately burned hot, but flexing my jaw, I knew he hadn’t broken it.  He stood over me laughing, his stupid orange sweater mocking me like a grinning Jack O’lantern.

“C’mon, boy, git up.  Bin werkin yer nerve up for that?  Keep flappin yer gums, ya might blow me over.”

I wiped my mouth and stood, a little shakily at first but I found my stance and put my fists up.  I threw a clumsy hand at him and he sidestepped it.  A punch to my stomach left me on my knees.  The breath flew out of me.  As I gasped impotently, he put his foot into my ribs.  I fell over and laid there, a tear rolled off my cheek as I shuddered.  He backed up again.

“All done, laddie?”

My eyes went up, and I looked around.  The few people who were in the bar stood in a circle around us, grinning madly.  The bartender was on the phone, presumably with the police.  She looked worried and I realized my time was running out.  I dove at the man, catching him off guard.  A hush fell over the crowd.  A hush, I thought, I did that.  I felt a hand in my face but it drunkenly slid off of me.  My semi-sobriety was finally beginning to pay dividends.  I reached back and slammed a fist down into his face.  It hurt like hell, but I didn’t care.  I reached back and smashed him again.  Blood started flowing from his nose as he shoved me off of him and sat up.  It dribbled down his shirt mingling with the orange and dripping onto the floor.  He coughed up a large gob of the stuff onto his pants, painting his crotch red.  He tried to stand but fell over, stunned.

I wasted no time jumping on him and raining more fists into his face until I felt a hand grab my arm and heard some faraway voice say, “He’s had enough.”

I briefly struggled, but more arms grabbed me and flung me backwards and I relented.  I sat on the ground, head propped against a barstool.  I felt the adrenaline ebb from me and I looked at the man in the orange sweater.  He wasn’t moving.  The bartender stood at the back of the crowd crying.  I wiped my hand across my mouth and saw that I was bleeding, myself.  The bar was completely quiet.  I smiled.  I did it.  It was a glorious moment.

And a moment’s all it lasted.

The first officer, a bear of a man, walked through the door and surveyed the scene.  He looked to the bartender who was crying now, shaking.  She had been the first one pulling me back, I realized.

“What happened?” he asked.

She pointed at me, “He…did…that.” And she pointed at the man in the orange sweater still not moving, bleeding onto the ground.

Another officer, smaller, but stocky, walked in as the first knelt next to the man in the orange sweater.  He pulled his shoulder radio up and called for an ambulance.  The larger cop tried to revive the man I’d recently been pummeling while the shorter one walked over to me and squatted.

“You do this, kid?   He ain’t looking too good over there.”

I nodded weakly.  My face revealed that I wasn’t the only one to land a couple of punches, at least.

“He started it,” I said.

“Well it’s not like we can ask him right now.  C’mon, get up.  We gotta take you in.”  He grabbed my arm and pulled me up.  Then he pulled my arms behind me and cuffed them together.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.  But sometimes…even the best laid plans.

I found out later that the man in the orange sweater died in the hospital from his injuries.  My first and only bar fight, and I’d killed a man.  The judge banged the gavel and I was a volunteer manslaughterer.  What a world.

As they led me from the courtroom that day, on the advice of a friend, I held my head up.  Now was not the time to show weakness.  My real test was still ahead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm just wondering if anyone else finds this comment string as hilarious as I do.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Words...words, words words, words and words and words.  They are a menace, they don't obey, they don't ever.fucking.listen.  Just once, Words, I want to shoot you out of my fingers and into this magical box and I want to think, "Yes.  That is what I thought you'd say.  That is what you should say. And furthermore, you will stay that way, because I AM THE ONE WHO CONTROLS YOU."  But I'm lying to myself.  Even now, I am thinking how this post doesn't seem as deep as it was supposed to be.  This isn't a glimpse inside my creative process.  It's a little boy complaining about how his toys won't work right.  It's a madman with a gun and he can't seem to aim the muzzle away from himself no matter how hard he tries.

The first few weeks of getting back to writing like it's my freakin job have yielded some fruit.  That includes getting this blog going again.  I've got a lot to do though and just because I'm writing all the time, doesn't mean I'm writing the things that I want to be writing or at least not writing them well.  And it doesn't mean I'm doing a good job editing either, dammit.  Yes, I do have a bunch of stories which will be released as Out of Place, Out of Time 2 at some point.  No, I don't know when.  Editing is really taking me out of it this time and I can't for the life of me figure out why.  It is coming along slowly, I will say that.  But it is very slow and every time I get started I get pulled away by an idea or you know... booze or something.  It's not a perfect system, but it keeps me drunk.

So yes, I am writing.  I am not promising anything though.  I'm not sure if I'm getting better or worse.  I don't think that's something I'm qualified to comment on.  But I am folding words up with other words in a word goulash and wording word word word.  Hyrule, help me.  Here we go again, back into the fray.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekly Info Dump

Here are some fun things that I've found this week:

# Unicorn lair found by North Korean "scientists".

# Warren Ellis' forthcoming book, Gun Machine, got a write up.  It looks very good.  He also does a podcast called Spektermodule sometimes, which is nice writing music, but will make all of you think I'm weird.

# Create your own AI friend.  I find mine to be preferable to many humans because he doesn't spew random nonsense at me for any longer than is necessary to get his point across.

# Sandy-struck breweries and how they's doin.

# Contact lenses with heads up displays.

# Saul Williams is a serious fucking poet, if you didn't know it.

# Read the short story Evaporated Government by John Skylar.  Great Poli-SciFi.

# Statistical look back at the three seasons of The Walking Dead.

# I saw this right around whenever it came out, but if you haven't scoped it yet, you really have to see the Venture Halloween Special from this year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

End Game by Steve Ormosi

This was not my strongest effort.  I really don't know anything about war, but I gave it a shot.  I grew up with my grandfather telling all of us that he never wanted to talk about the war.  He fought in the Korean War and from what I've gleaned, saw his fair share of action.  I've always wondered what it was like, in a "I'm positive I don't actually want to know what that was like" kind of way.  This was my weak attempt at portraying the connection one must feel toward their close companions when they go through something as formative as having to kill or (be killed by) someone you've never met.  In a way, I also tried to show the disconnect that veterans have with the general population. I'm not sure I accomplished anything at all, but I suppose you can judge for yourself.

Names are changed to protect those who died and their families just in case this ever sees the light of day.  No one needs to be reminded of what happened a long time ago in a place far away.

There are a lot of things they don’t tell you when you sign up for war.  Most importantly they never tell you that your war never ends.  The things you see will haunt you until the day you die.  For some of us, that was a long, long time.  It was longer for me.  I did my tour when I was just a kid.  It was easy to sneak into the army when I was 16 because, let’s face it, they needed all the warm bodies they could get since so many were getting sent home cold.  This here is the story I’ve never told, and never will.  If you should find this document, burn it.  People shouldn’t know about these things.  I’m only writing it down because my shrink thinks it will help to get it out of my head and nothing else has worked so far.  If this should somehow get out to the public, I want you to know that this is my life, my hopes my dreams.  Don’t read any further if you have any respect for me or what I did for you and yours.

 I showed up my first day excited, ready to take on the world.  That changed quickly.  Grueling hours of boot camp exhausted me.  Our overly aggressive drill sergeant beat the fight out of me.  Then they shaped me and all the guys into the killing machines that we eventually became.  They were good at that.  They broke us down and built us back how they needed.  That part wasn’t so bad.

Going into the fight was what really took it out of us.  I had a friend, John.  He was always laughing in boot camp, nothing bothered him, then he caught a piece of shrapnel in his leg.  Four other people died from the blast.  I’ve never seen such bad survivor’s guilt.  After that day he would cry himself to sleep every night.  He was always the first to rush into a dangerous situation.  He always volunteered to scout minefields.  He almost seemed disappointed when he made it to the other side in one piece.  All he wanted was a way out and it seemed like no one wanted to give him one.  He ended up throwing himself on top of a grenade and saved half the platoon.  Got out of the army too.

I had another buddy named Tom.  He was a fresh faced kid, who swore up and down he was 18 when he went in, but he looked younger than me.  Everybody teased him about it.  He was the first of us to fall when he poked his head out of a trench a little bit too far and took a sniper’s bullet in the teeth.  I heard when they told his folks, they both committed suicide that same night.  I never found out if that was true or not.

Billy died in my arms when a mortar shell took his arm off and he bled out.  As he was dying he whispered that he was the only boy his parents had and his dad would be so disappointed that the family name was going to end with him.  I tried to console him, tried to tell him that he was going to be fine, but I could already see his lights going out.  He was gone, and I was still there.  We didn’t even have time to bury him.  Billy’s body was just another piece of debris that day.

The days where nothing happened were even worse.  At least in the heat of battle, your adrenaline gets going and instincts take over.  You fight to live or give up and die.  The quiet days were among the most stressful, sitting and waiting for that next bomb to fall, the proverbial shoe that could drop and blow you into a million little pieces at any time.  If only retreat were an option.  If only we could go back to our safe homes and our quiet beds for just the night.  If only I could ever sleep restfully again.  But that was never an option and we were never told. 

Of the things they don’t tell you, I don’t think any would have changed my mind.  I was 16 and invincible.  Those things won’t affect me, I would have said to myself.  I won’t be changed by war, I would have said.  I would have been wrong, but you know that by now.  Really, those things they never told us, I guess they don’t make a damn difference anyhow.

It does help to write this down.  There is more, much more, but that will have to wait for another time.  I am getting tired.  My knees hurt like they have every year around this time since I went in.  I need to shut my eyes now and remember them.  Let them flash before me like ghosts in a mirror.  Hear them scream again, watch them die again, like every night.  I miss them and I hate them for getting out.  And I love them for making sure it wasn’t me.  For a time they were my brothers.  Now I’m the only one left and they make sure I know it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Personal Aside

I suppose that if I'm going to reinvigorate my blog, I may as well have at least one post a week dedicated to something about myself.  That's for Mondays though, the unwanted child of days that end in "y".

Insofar as I actually have anything interesting to talk about, I suppose that I can rant here.  Or rave.  Depending on my mood.  I can also talk about any new opportunities I have coming up or post a new recipe I discovered, or, you know, whatever.  I guess this is my wildcard day, is what I'm saying.  We'll see how long it lasts.  Hopefully forever, but I've made that promise to myself before, so don't get your hopes up.  In the meantime, enjoy my meandering worthlessness for all that it's...well, worth, I s'pose.

You know what really grinds my gears?  Insincerity.  It's way too prevalent in the world, and seemingly only becomes moreso as I get older.  Why can't people just say what they want?  Why can't I?  Pathological lying seems like it's built into our DNA.  I think I need to write a story about the super unreliable narrator.  A sociopathic sonovabitch who never tells the truth.  That's the most reliable bastard of all, yeah?

Yeah, so expect more of that, coming up.  I'm just going to come up with some topic and talk about it.  Actually, I do have a couple of ideas for recipes to post.  Maybe pictures of delicious things that YOU CAN'T HAVE will go here too!  And, you know, once the world discovers my genius, I'll start putting up stuff about all the genius too.

Here's to a fresh beginning, here's to a bloody end.