News

Delay

Hi everyone,

Very sorry, but my usual Monday post will be delayed this week. I’m swamped with non-S+P work, and have been unable to get what I want to share into satisfactory shape.

In the meantime, I’d like to share a sketch that Cybou of Cybou Creations, a friend of mine, did, completely unasked, of me:

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I highly encourage you to check out her art on her site and to visit her Facebook page—she’s pretty awesome!

News

Big News!

I’ve got two bits of exciting news today! First off, we’ve been getting a bunch of new visitors from various places lately, which is fantastic! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of you. It’s so nice to see you here! Please, kick your shoes off and stay a while. And feel free to leave comments—civil, creative discussion is encouraged!

Second, you may have noticed the new orange button off to the right, just under the banner. Well, my Patreon campaign, which I’ve been secretly working on for several months, is now live!

What is Patreon? you ask. Simply put, it’s a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, except that instead of donating one large sum to help finance a single project, fans can contribute smaller amounts on a monthly basis, allowing artists to have a stable, reliable sort of regular salary. So if you want to support what I do, please click the button and check it out. Your help goes a long way toward making this site possible.

Poetry

Squirrel Action Hero

The Snake Plisskin of squirrels is staring me down again
from some dirty patch on the lawn. He’s been hunting for nuts
and he seems to think I have some. I have to admit
I’m getting scared. His shriveled eye
dissects me with the shrewdness of an action hero
while his good one winks on the clean side of his face.
Come to think of it, he has a sort of Two-Face
sensibility, half good-natured
Harvey Dent, district attorney, half
scarred, raving monster. The other day I saw him
slip into a garbage can, then scramble out
a few minutes later, a cupcake wrapper
clenched in his teeth. He dropped
to the patio and turned toward me as if
sizing me up. Then he turned away.

Comments: Written in the spring of 2006. Originally part of my M.F.A. thesis manuscript.

Nonfiction

Read All the Things!

I’ve got this crazy idea that’s been banging around in my tin can for almost a year now, and I want to share it with you. Now, don’t get your hopes up too high—it’s not a creative project, per se. But I realized that I have a lot of books. A lot of them. Maybe not the most ever, but enough to make moving a real pain in the back. More significantly, though I’m ashamed to admit it, a good many of these books are ones I have never read. (Gasp! And I call myself a reader, a literary man.)
So here’s what I’d like to do to rectify the situation: I’d like to methodically read through every single book in my house.
To make it a bit easier, first I will be selling off or donating about 90% of them.
Just kidding. I’m not going to do that at all. Instead, I’m going to create a spreadsheet with the bibliographic information for each book as I read it. I’ll post the link somewhere on this site, and maybe on others, so that those who are interested can follow along. I think I’ll make it all-access, just for fun. And if I feel up for it, I’ll write a little critique or review of the book after I finish it and share that with my patrons. Or maybe with everyone, and also link to a GoodReads account. We’ll see.
Or this is what I hope to do. Right now, it’s just an idea, the smoke of something yet to take form, and many other, more pressing, more solid concerns are manifest before me.
Fiction

A Link to the Office

From blackness, a voice:

“Help me… Please help me… prisoner… dungeon of the castle.… name is…“

The voice drifts away into dream and haze, then returns.

“…wizard has done something…“

The voice (thin, high) fades out and in again.

“…other missing girls. Now only I—”

KRAKABOOM!

I startle awake in my chair, looking around. My cubicle. (A cubicle? Since when?) My tea-stained mug (who gave that to me?), my keyboard and its crumbs. My secondhand office chair, lumpy and torn. (Did the office actually give me this?) I struggle to recall what company I work for. A—bookstore, was it? No, that sounds… not quite—

SSSSSHRAKOOM!

Lightning and simultaneous thunder shake the office floor. A second flash, and then the lights go out. Pure dark.

I start to stand, slam my knee into some hard edge under the desk. Swear words come to mind, but all that tumbles out is a growl of random syllables. I’m clutching my knee and trying to balance on one leg, so I jerk and nearly fall over when a man’s voice addresses me.

“Hey, Link—“

Link?

“—I’m going downstairs for a bit. No need to worry, I’ll be back before long.”

I limp an about face and wince into a flashlight beam, raise my hand to shield my eyes. The light lowers and I see a mustached, balding man with a doting grin.

“Sorry,” he says. “I’ll be right back, just gonna see if someone’s still down in maintenance. You stay here, if the power comes back on you can keep working on the report without me. Or, y’know, go back to napping.”

He winks, fatherly, and walks away down the carpeted hall, disappears around a corner. I sit back down in the dark, massaging my knee. Who was he? Should I know him? He spoke like he knew me. Jerry, my mind says. Everyone calls him “Uncle Jerry”. It’s because of the mustache. Weird.

Wait. I can’t stay here in the dark. I pull open my desk drawers one by one, use the periodic lightning flashes to see their contents. Second try, I find a flashlight. Perfect. I get up, I stick my head over the top of my cubicle, and look around. The other workspaces are all empty. Great. Well, maybe I can find the vending machine and take all the Snickers.

Stupid! I realize when I get to them. The power’s out. Of course they don’t work!

All right, all right. I clutch my flashlight and head past the elevators toward the stairs. Damned if I’m gonna stay up here waiting for Jerry. I’ll just catch up with him downstairs, tell him I’m done for the night, gonna go home. He’ll understand. Heck, he’ll probably head out, too.

I push open the door to the stairwell, hear the noise echo down the lightless concrete shaft. Something about it makes me shiver. Whatever. It’s just the dark, the lack of electricity and people. I shine the flashlight ahead of me and pick my way down the stairs. I can hear the slow drip of water, and pointing my beam out into the empty space between flights, I glimpse something glinting as it falls. A roof leak, I bet. Continue on.

Seven flights down, I reach bottom. The floor is slick with water and my footsteps slap, splash and echo. The flashlight plays off of wet surfaces. Only one way to go—but wasn’t the corridor shorter last time I came through?

Something moans in the darkness, and I freeze, then inch forward, sweeping ahead with my light. There, in a heap against the wall: someone!

Carefully, I inch up. It’s Jerry, slumped where the floor meets the wall. He’s holding something tight to him—looks like a piece of office shelving. His other hand rests on a crowbar that’s lying on the wet floor.

“Jerry?”

“Wh-who? That voice…Link?” Jerry coughs out a laugh. “Thought I said to stay upstairs.”

“I got, I dunno, scared. Bored.”

“Ah, well…Guess you can’t…escape who you are.” He coughs again, and I notice the blood coloring his shirt. “Link…take the…the crowbar. And my shield…do what I couldn’t…rescue…her.”

Jerry’s head lolls as he goes unconscious. I check his pulse: faint but there. I don’t know anything about wounds, so I just make sure he’s comfortable and not bleeding too much.

Then I look down at the “shield” and crowbar. What the hell was Jerry talking about? Sigh. I pick up his “gifts” and stand, flashlight seeking the exit to the lobby. It’s not there. Instead, down the hall, a strange, old-looking wooden door, like you might see in a fantasy video game. I ready the crowbar and shelf-shield, and step slowly down the hall.

Comments: I feel like I posted this one already, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives. At any rate, I’ve revised it slightly, correcting a few words here and there. I still can’t find a good title, so what’s up there now is provisional. (If you have any ideas, by all means, suggest them!)

The idea originally came to me as a fun tribute roleplaying campaign, though Lord knows which system I’d have used. (Seems a number of my story ideas show up that way.) I held onto it for a long time, then was inspired by a writing prompt on Reddit to type it up as a story.