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Choose Your Own Adventure 1

Originally published at The Shuffle. You can comment here or there.

By the time he got to the mountaintop, he was wheezing fairly hard. He scowled as he leaned on his stick, a short and gnarly piece of ash wood that was smooth and shiny from his daily use of it. This was his favorite view. From this point he could see the valley below, and the long way back to the ironically-named Nearhaven. He couldn’t stay in Nearhaven for longer than a few hours at a time at most, as he was wanted there for several hundred counts of petty thievery, shady dealings, and all other manner of things that got a man’s thumbs cut off.


Daxos ne-Randyll liked his thumbs right where they were. Without them, he was a man less a job. Some folk wouldn’t call stealing a job, he thought, but he was pretty confident those folks wouldn’t miss the occasional jeweled candlestick, pocket change or gold door knocker, either.


So he kept to his occasional visits to the smallish city as few as possible, usually taking all he could before the moon reached its zenith, and waddled, pants heavy with swag, over to the stables. A Crown got him a noble’s horse for the evening from the stable guard. He sold his wares to the Dark Man in the next town over, visited one – or two – or three – brothels, ate at the inn, and returned the horse before sun-up. The Dark Man paid well enough; a quick, habitual jingle of the coin purse hidden under his arm reminded him of that. It was the job itself that was getting old. He had been a thief since the age of 10, and both his ears were nocked to prove it hadn’t been an easy road, but the game was wearing thin now. He was 22 by his reckoning, and knew it was only a matter of time before one slip up left him several digits less than the count he had now. It had been 2 more years beyond that since he had seen Randyll, the hamlet in which he was born and raised early on.


He had enough money and food to last him the week. He gazed sideways up at the sun to figure the time, and knew he should begin his descent. Camp was in the wood in the shadow of the mountain, and he still had some trapping to do to augment his bread supply with some meat. He turned from his spot and began the long way down. In about 20 minutes, he was again out of breath, but at least taller plants than scrub brush was fast approaching. He thought about how good the shade was going to feel after his climb and smiled, pulling on his waterskin to get a sip. In the moment he looked down, he tripped and fell, but where there should have been the abrasive pain of skin on earth, there was only the sinking feeling of falling through the air. He had fell off a sheer cliff face. He had a moment to reflect on his idiocy, and then he felt nothing.



He awoke in the shadow of the mountain in what could have only been several hours later. The sun was hidden from him, and the sky had begun to change from the bright blue it was before. He sat up and tensed as head-splitting pain shot through him. “What happened?” he wondered aloud, to no one in particular. A quick look up revealed the secret to his miraculous survival. His waterskin, cloak and – yes, he looked down to double-check – his shirt had all managed to catch limbs, slowing his descent enough to only break a rib or two, and leave him with a nasty welt on his head and a pain all over his body, as though he had been caned. He couldn’t believe it. This is where the people who went to the temples every moonstage would proclaim that the Shepherd had some kind of plan for him. He snorted, wiping off the pine needles that had stuck to his chest and back. Looking around he noticed what appeared to be a crack in the rocks. Only wide enough and tall enough for a slender man to fit, but undeniably present in the rock face. He jumped as high as he could, grabbed his shirt, which hung low from the last large limb of a nearby tree, and looked at the cave.


He just might make it back to camp tonight, bread waited there, as did water, and all of his other possessions, but the sky was still changing, the section he could see through the trees were turning a pinkish color, and the mountain seemed to glow gold. These woods filled with wolves at night, and only fire kept them away. He knew this because that’s why he had set up on the edge of the wood – wanderers rarely came here for fear of the wolves, and he was allowed peace, quiet, and a fair certainty that no city watchman would wander this way, no matter what reward they offered. Caught out in the woods alone at night was not a pleasurable thing, but if he left now, he could make it.



TO SEE IF THE CAVE IS SAFE AND TRY TO SET UP CAMP, LEAVE A RELEVANT COMMENT BELOW



TO MAKE A BREAK FOR THE WOOD’S EDGE AND CAMP, DO THE SAME.

Shuffle 4

Originally published at The Shuffle. You can comment here or there.

It wasn’t much to look at now, this church. He had been married in it 10 lifetimes ago, and it had aged 15 lifetimes since. The steeple had fallen into the yard, bell upturned. It would’ve made a fine birdbath, if birds still flew around here. He stared at it, and decided that the last time it rained was too long ago to risk using the water in the bell for drinking. Looking to his right, he saw a sign that loudly proclaimed TH END  S HER  G D BLES  Y U  AL where it had once said Peese/Tannish Wedding 3:30. He stared at the sign longer than he should have, his survivalist side telling him he shouldn’t be standing in the middle of a street in Torrington, Connecticut of all places, while his weaker side cried out for just another minute of nostalgia.

The survivalist side won. It always did. That’s why he was still here, he guessed, when so many others had died. Lived, while so many others met their various but commonly terrible ends. The poor bastards in DC, San Fran, Atlanta, and so many other places never stood a chance. They were all dead within five hours of eachother. Sometimes he considered them the lucky ones for the horrors they had missed, the breakdown of America, every day watching the mobs that had once seemed so remote wind up in your city, in your town, down your street. When participants of the mob broke into your house and tried to rape your wife, and you turned their heads and guts and limbs into spots on the wall that looked like someone had thrown a jar of strawberry jelly at it. Yes – he thought sometimes, staring up at the red night sky, clouds ablaze from the light of fires everywhere – they had been the lucky ones to die so fast.

Before he moved into the church, he looked down, pulling on the T-shaped charging handle of his rifle, just enough to look inside the chamber, to make sure he could still see the dull yellow brass in there. It was impossible to see small details in the gas mask’s little circle windows, but he saw what he was looking for. He was loaded. He patted the magazine in the well, as he always did, and thumbed his crucifix through the heavy material of the hazmat suit he was wearing, as he always did. The small gold cross was little more than a lump to his fingers; the thick pads of the hazmat gloves and the tarpaulin-like material over his chest did their best to round the outline of it, but it was still there. With all his superstitions and double-checks out of the way, he took one last breath and pushed gently on the door of the church. The hinge moaned gently.

Inside sat a congregation of the dead. Some huddled, some lay on the floor, others reclined, shrunken eyes staring towards the ceiling. Their bodies were clothed, and some wore jewelery still. He tensed. He was used to being in towns that had been scraped clean of valuables by the Vultures. It was a relaxing feeling, knowing they’d been through the town. Vultures killed all the nutjobs on their way through, and though they made food harder to find, it was comforting to know they had already hit the place. Vultures never hit the same town twice. After they had scraped it once, why return? There might be 400,000 survivors in the whole Eastern Seaboard that weren’t crazy or Vultures, all of them scattered, hiding in the mountains. Once the valuable items were gone, they weren’t liable to be coming back anytime soon. If the people living had enough sense to have survived this long, they had enough sense to stay hidden, scraping together a living in the mountains, never making their presence known. Communities make a footprint, communities need people, and those people could be Vultures; Vultures who were waiting for the right time, when the community had reached a certain level of development, to disappear in the night. Come morning, the community would be dead, a scorched hill of shit, nothing left but hastily-uprooted crops, charred corpses and blood trails to mark that anything had ever lived there. He had just passed a town three weeks ago, New Anderton, Pennsylvania, which had much the same story. He spent the night in a half-burnt lean-to, the ashes of the family that had recently lived there keeping guard at the door.

But they had not yet hit Torrington, for one reason or another, and that meant dangers. Many dangers. Not only the remote chance of the Vultures sweeping in while he was in town, but the very real chance that there was some insane warlord-type who still ruled the town. The church would no longer be a safe place to stay the night, he realized. Looking behind him, he noticed the softening of the light spilling in from the door, and he knew he had to leave immediately, if he wanted to find a house to stay in for the night. It was stupid to come here his survival instinct told him. You just had to see it, didn’t you? You were safe in New Anderton. You were safe in Alexandria three months ago, but you just had to come back. And now all you’ll get for it is a bullet. He shook the thoughts from his head, closing the door to the church and leaving the silent mass to whatever peace they could get before they were desecrated by the Vultures.

The first house he ever bought was only 2 miles away, he realized, and he was determined to make it there before the light of day died. Following the old walks he used to take with his now-dead wife was slow-going and painful. Everywhere were reminders of what once was before the great pandemic came: the Ice Cream shop here, the Taggins’ house there. Both had seen better days. Rodger Taggins was once a stickler for a neat garden, now it was overgrown with weeds, and what looked like the beginning of a sapling growing in the rich soil. If he could see it now he thought. Finally, and ever more painfully, he stood outside of the house he used to own, all those lifetimes ago. He checked the chamber of his rifle and palmed the underside of the magazine again, just to be sure. He squeezed the cross around his neck again, and started silently up the walkway to the front door.

Welcome!

Originally published at TechRelevant. You can comment here or there.

Well, so its like this… I got bored with LiveJournal a little bit, and wanted a better platform to talk about my opinions on news than facebook. I had had this site hanging out for a bit, and I figured that I would go ahead and start posting here.

If you read my LiveJournal and my Facebook, this may seem redundant, but if you read only one, this is a great way to see what I’m thinking or writing about when I’m not on the other sites. I’m going to try to post here as often as possible, using this as a collection point for what had previously been a scatterbrained collection of thoughts.

Additionally, I started another blog for the Shuffle writing experiment I am trying to run at shuffle.acutabovestudios.com. Go on over and check that out, as well. Vote or otherwise comment on a favorite story you’d like to see continued.

Stay tuned, let’s see how this works.

Tags:

The Shuffle

I'm going to try something.

Little bits of stories that come to mind, collecting them, seeing if my style is solid enough to be used across different genres, and my storylines interesting enough that people would ask for more.

So here's my call to you, anyone who reads these regularly enough:
If you like a story, or care enough about the characters that you would want to see what happens to them next, please let me know, and I will continue the story.

Please note that these stories, especially in the beginning, will not be fact-checked in any way. There may be inaccuracies and plot holes abound. They can be changed. What I care about is you caring about the story enough to say something.

If you have any ideas, stories you would like to see told, let me know somehow, and I will do my best to work my magic for it. So sit back and read, eh?

The first entry is my zombie story I wrote several months ago.
The second entry is new material
The third has not even been written yet (that's where you all come in!)
Of drafts, doodles, and things unpublished, all that can be said is that they are thoughts - captured for time eternal in their natural state, like photographs of a wildling animal.

Not as easy as I had hoped.

When I started my book last year, I knew trying to finish it would be a pretty difficult task. I thought I did alright, but didn't really have the time or ability to do any serious writing. By the time I get home at night, though my body may not be tired, my brain certainly is... And I find it extremely difficult to get any writing done in that brief sliver of time between work, eating and sleeping.

I would love to be able to sit down with a fiction author and pick their brain on the steps they take to get things done in their books, and perhaps have them read what I had written, and see if it's worth the time I've invested and would continue to invest.

I feel the creative mood that Avatar and Assain's Creed 2's ending have put me into slowly ebbing, and I want to catch it before it slips away... I'm just not sure I can. It has been almost 7 months since my last creative spell - almost 10 months since I last touched my book. I'm afraid of how long this hiatus will be if I let this one go.

Tags:

A Time for Cooking

Recently for me, life has taken an even greater turn away from what I've known and been comfortable with all these years, and headed right for what I like to call "the finer things". I am beginning to read more (~60-70pp a night), and really enjoy cooking when I get a chance to do so.

Today presents an excellent chance for cooking: the apples Jenna picked in the fall (all 10lbs of them) are going to go bad within the next few weeks, Hanukkah is upon us (Happy Hanukkah to all who observe), and I watched a "Man vs. Food" episode which featured stromboli.

I have selected appropriate recipes for each, and will be cooking for the rest of the day, excited to see how each turns out. I haven't had Latkes since 5th grade, when my then-classmate Lindsay and her father brought in a recipe for them to share with all of us. I want to see if I can make them as good as I remember them. My recent research into my likely Polish ancestry has made this a personal interest, as well. My pops says he can remember being given a type of potato pancake as a kid, so its all tied in.

The stromboli I'm most excited for making, as it looks delish. I'm having my parents over, and they are going to be ordering up custom creations by my hand. Its the first time I've made them, but I think they'll turn out great.

Lastly, the applesauce will be fun to make, I'm bringing it back from last year, hopefully just as good as it was then. Nothing super special about applesauce, just proper application of heat, time and care (not to mention cinnamon), and you're left with far better than what you started with.

I will do what I can to post pictures, no promises... I'm usually lazy about it.

Don't Panic!

Remember, if you are healthy and get Swine Flu, rejoice!

You have built up antibodies for when it mutates to a global, lethal pandemic.

Aren't immune systems great?

Enough of this already. The media are doing a great job at fear-mongering, because there's NOTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT.

The change in me.

Originally Posted by XXXXX
whats the other side? i thought islam was the other side?

You Responded:
Where does this "us vs. them" mentality come from? It sounds like in your eyes we are facing some organized, Nazi-type force. This is a percentage (note: NOT the whole) of people of a certain creed, who are on a rag-tag mission to do as their theocracy has misguided them to.

You have the right to judge who you want, but only until that right infringes on others' rights, such as the support of someone killing them as they attempt to pray peacefully [the poster I was responding to did this earlier in the thread], or saying that they do not have the right to do so. When you take away the rights of others, you shoot yourself in the foot. What if the government wants to take away YOUR right to assemble? You wouldn't have a leg to stand on; you once supported the revocation of that right for others, so what makes you so different?

Do you know any Muslims? I am guessing you do not, though I may be wrong... Referring to "them" as the "enemy" is extremely easy until you start to see shades of grey in the world and in people. I know people of all creeds, all sexual preferences, and races, and I can say that the ones I know are their own people. What right have you to look down on them  as "the enemy", just because you don't know them?

What about the children caught in the middle of the wars? Should we kill them young? After all, they're only "them", "the enemy", right? Have you ever worked with inner city kids? When they grow up with hate, they are just as dangerous as the previous generation, but when treated with attention and respect, they can grow to be productive members of the world. Its the same all over the world - children are blank slates; ingrain in them hate, and that's all they will know. Ingrain in them tolerance and respect for fellow men, and the possibilities are endless.

Though I have never been in a war myself, I consider myself a patriot. I am the kind that advocates for the equality of others, because that's what the country was founded on. It wasn't long ago that I thought just as you do - but then my friends went off to war, and started to come back with stories of people trapped in the middle... They long for freedom, but are such a defeated group of people that they forgot how. Theocracies do this. THEY are the enemy. Free thought and and the very least indifferent coexistence should be "our side". You don't have to LOVE everyone, I'm not a hippie, and I certainly don't love all of "God's creatures", as they say. I was mad as hell after 9/11 - and I still am - But I will quote Gettysburg for dramatic effect:
"Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men one at a time"

Lastly, beware of divisive forces on the inside. It could very well be that they create or at least puff-up division on the outside to make us easier to be defeated in our separation.
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Can you imagine me writing this years ago? It was while writing this that I realized how I've changed since high school... And how much the people I've met since then have changed how I look at the world.

This is one of my favorite poems, especially when featured in the Dead Can Dance song of the same name.

You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him
And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It's wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You saw courageous Caesar next
You know what he became.
They deified him in his life
Then had him murdered just the same.
And as they raised the fatal knife
How loud he cried: you too my son!
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It's courage that had brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You heard of honest Socrates
The man who never lied:
They weren't so grateful as you'd think
Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried
And handed him the poisoned drink.
How honest was the people's noble son.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It's honesty that brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

Here you can see respectable folk
Keeping to God's own laws.
So far he hasn't taken heed.
You who sit safe and warm indoors
Help to relieve our bitter need.
How virtuously we had begun.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It's fear of god that brought us to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

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