Document 13: A Dystopian Tale, Part 11

Here is Part 11 of “Document 13”, a dystopian graphic novel I’m creating with my daughter. This week: It moved!

Love it? Hate it? I welcome any and all feedback!

The year is 2074, the world has been plunged into darkness. One girl, Sarah Doe, will learn the secrets of the dark forces that run the ruined world. With the help of a few friends, her family, and her own powers she will fight to return the world to an order not known since well before her birth. Will she succeed? Read to find out!

———————————–—————

Scene: Interior hallway. The orderlies are pushing two gurneys towards a large door.

O1: It’s been awhile since we fired this up. We don’t have much time before morning, let’s hope it works still.

He switches on the incinerator.

O1: Alright, just a few minutes and it should be hot enough.

One of the sheets on a gurney moves.

O2: Did you see that?

O1: See what?

O2: It moved!

O1: You’re nuts. They’re dead.

O2: We gotta push them in, bodies creep me out…

O1: Alright, let’s go.

One of the sheets moves again. Sarah moans.

O1: Shit ! What the hell? No one survives outside! We gotta push her in the oven first.

They push the gurney to the oven opening and open the door.
Sarah sits up. She sees what they are about to do. She quickly rolls off the gurney and struggles with the orderlies, knocking one of them towards the incinerator door. His hand goes into the fire.

O1: Aggghh!!!

S: Get off of me!!

O2 lets go of Sarah and rushes to 01. Sarah runs away.

O1: Get her! My arm is not as important as my life!

O2 runs after Sarah.

She manages to make it outside the building but trips and falls just before the airlock door. Orderly 2 catches up and they struggle. The headmistress appears.

HM: What is this?! I thought I told you to dispose of her !

O2: I don’t know, she woke up!

HM: I don’t know what is going on, but you’ve become a real liability around here, Sarah. I may have one last option. Orderly, load her in the transport and take her to the lab.


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“Document 13” A Dystopian Tale: Part 10

Welcome to part 10 of “Document 13”, a dystopian graphic novel I’m creating with my daughter. This week: an escape.

The year is 2074, the world has been plunged into darkness. One girl, Sarah Doe, will learn the secrets of the dark forces that run the ruined world. With the help of a few friends, her family, and her own powers she will fight to return the world to an order not known since well before her birth. Will she succeed? Read to find out!

If you haven’t read the other parts, go back and read them first!
———————————–—————
**Scene:** Just outside the secret hiding spot in the pantry. Sarah is zipping up a bag while Ruby waits.

R: You have everythin’?

S: I think so. You sure I can read well enough to understand your directions?

R: Girl, you read better than I do. You’re some kind of super genius or somethin’. You remember the signal?

S: Yeah. Stay behind you in the shadows until you put your hand behind your back.

*They walk out cautiously and Sarah lags behind a bit.*

**Scene:** Night time in the compound. All the orphans are asleep and aside from a few lights around the perimeter, everything is dark. Ruby is seen walking towards the suit room.

Orderly 2: What do you need?

R: I received a message that one of my family is hurt. I need a suit to see him.

O2: You know you have to get permission from the Headmistress to get a suit. Do you have it?

R: No, sir… I’m in a hurry, can we skip the formality just this once?

O2: Tell you what, the shift’s almost over, no one has been near this room for a month anyway, I’ll go with you and get her permission.

R: But sir, that will take too….

O2: Shutup! I’m not losing my job over you!

R: OK…

*She puts her hand behind her back and follows the orderly towards the office.*

*Sarah sneaks out of the shadows and approaches the suit room. Just as she gets in she hears a voice behind her.*

Orderly 1: So there you are! I knew if we gave it enough time you’d appear.

*The headmistress appears with Ruby and orderly 2.*

Hm: Send them outside. No suits.

Sarah: Kill me! Not her!

Hm: I can’t have any insubordination, both or none. I can always replace a cook…

Ruby: Girl, shh.

*The two orderlies shuffle them into the airlock.*

S: I’m sorry, Ruby! You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. I should have just been obedient and left before!

R: No Sarah, you are here for a reason. The good Lord wanted me to find you. I don’t believe He’s gonna let you die, even if I do. You are special and if a noose didn’t kill you, nothin’ will. None of this is in vain. I’m not their slave, I can die with my head held high. I love you.

*The airlock opens, both women struggle to breathe, holding onto each other and finally falling still.*

Hm: Retrieve the bodies and dispose of them in the incinerator. Don’t mention this to any of the other orderlies. Do it quickly!


———————————–—————


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“Document 13” A Dystopian Tale: Part 9

Welcome to part 9 of “Document 13”, a dystopian graphic novel I’m creating with my daughter.

If you have missed it so far, check it out on my Drip Torch Studio page.

Love it? Hate it? I welcome any and all feedback!

The year is 2074, the world has been plunged into darkness. One girl, Sarah Doe, will learn the secrets of the dark forces that run the ruined world. With the help of a few friends, her family, and her own powers she will fight to return the world to an order not known since well before her birth. Will she succeed? Read to find out!
———————————–—————

Scene: One month later in the pantry. Ruby enters and shuts the false wall. Sarah has several books now. She also has a pencil and is tracing letters when Ruby comes in.

R: It’s gettin’ harder to keep you. The orderlies have been askin’ harder and harder questions, which is sayin’ a lot for them. I think they have their suspicions. I love you girl, but it’s gettin’ time for you to leave the nest. 

S: But how? You said they are guarding the suits. Robin died without a… 

R: They only have two guards. And they are dumber than bricks. You should hear the questions they’ve been askin’. Sure, they’ve gotten tougher, but when the early questions were softball questions… 

S: What are we going to do? 

R: They switch shifts every twelve hours. The next switch is in two hours. Gather your things. I brought you some extra rations and directions to the outside. 

S: The outside? 

R: Now, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten everything I taught you. The safe-haven outside the city. My friends work in a factory supplyin’ shoes to the floatin’ city, but they have connections to the safe-haven. I’ve managed to smuggle out a message to them with one of the other orphans so they’ll know you’re comin’. She had no idea what she was deliverin’ but I’m sure she got it on the right bot. I hope anyway… When the guards are switchin’, I’ll distract them and you sneak out. Do you remember where to go?

S: The library in the Northwest Quadrant. Stick to the safety corridors away from dogs.

R: Yes, they will meet you there and take you to the safe haven.

Scene: HM office, one week earlier. One of the orphans is standing in front of the hm desk. The hm is reading a note. 

Hm: Thank you my dear one. You said the cook gave this to you, correct? 

Orphan: Yes, ma’am. She said to hide it in bot Q105. 

Hm (taking notes): Q105? That’s a shoe factory bot… thank you again, you’re dismissed. 

The orphan leaves.

HM (picking up the phone): I think we found her. I have a plan. 


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The Curse of Time

Tick tock.

Emma stared at the watch her father left her ten years ago. Despite its age, it was still ticking away, ten years now since the owner departed from this world. Well, the second owner anyway. It has been twenty years since the first owner passed away. That owner was Emma’s grandfather.

Tick tock.

Both men had owned this very watch. Both died young and sudden. Ten years apart to the minute exactly. Emma knew the stories well, but they didn’t spook her. She didn’t believe in superstitious nonsense. It was just a watch after all. A watch could not *kill* someone. It’s not a completely inanimate object, but it is not alive.

Tick tock.

Even so, today Emma is slightly worried. Today is exactly ten years since her father died in a most random way. He had fallen down three flights of stairs while checking the time on this very watch. Her grandfather had died ten years before that by stepping straight in front of a bus. Witness accounts testified that he had been staring at his wrist, and despite the honk of the bus horn and the screeching of tires he didn’t even look up to see what hit him.

Tick tock.

Both had died at exactly 6:53 PM. Despite the violence inherent in their deaths, the watch remained unharmed. It was a curiosity that fed the family rumors that the watch was cursed. No one wanted it when her father died, but Emma remembered admiring it all of her childhood, so she gladly took it. It wasn’t ornate or anything, just a simple numbered face and a bland black band. But to Emma it represented her father, and since he wasn’t a very rich man, he didn’t leave much else in his will.

Tick tock.

In Emma’s room, the time on both her phone and the watch said 6:45 PM. Despite her agnostic attitude about curses and killer objects, Emma is not going to take a chance near any staircases or busy city streets. She sits on her floor, snacking away on chips and scrolling her phone. Only occasionally does she glance at the watch, which is laying on the floor next to her.

Tick tock.

6:46. She doesn’t feel different. Surely a curse would create *some* feelings of lingering doom in the accursed. Even so, she insists on sitting still until the wretched anniversary passes. She’s not convinced, but she will be cautious. If anything it will prove to her relatives that they are paranoid and need to give up on such fables. When they call her later this evening it will feel so great to gloat. Despite her urging them to stick around for what would be, in her mind, an uneventful evening, none of them wanted to be around for, in their minds, an impending disaster. They weren’t taking any chances. Instead, they agreed to call her and check in right after the fateful minute.

Tick tock.

6:47. Emma plays a round of Candy Crush. Her mind is focused on getting just a few more lines matched. Success! Before the next round can start, she takes a long look at the watch and remembers her father. She sets down the phone and picks up the watch. Even though it was ten years ago, the trauma still turns her insides. She was the one who found his lifeless body. At ten years old she had never seen a body. Her father’s body had the dubious honor of being the first. To be honest, it was the last also. Death is a concept that resides far from our modern minds. She hasn’t known anyone else who died in the intervening years.

Tick tock.

6:48. Emma watches the second hand tick tick tick around the face of the watch. She ponders the seconds her father spent wearing this watch everywhere he went. She never saw him take it off. To him it was a memory of his father, a man Emma had never met. He didn’t think it was cursed. It wasn’t until his death that her relatives noticed the coincidental circumstances of both of their deaths. Both stared into this very watch face as they died. Both died ten years apart to the minute.

Tick tock.

6:49. What did they see? Emma wondered. It was just a watch. Nothing special. Three hands: a second, a minute, and an hour hand, each gliding across a black and white numbered face. Emma thought about time. None of us know when we will die. How many times will those hands drift around that perfect circle during our short lifetimes?

Tick tock.

6:50. Emma was beginning to drift. She couldn’t stop staring at the timepiece. The rest of the world fell away. She could see her father wearing it, swinging her in the yard as a child. He loved his only daughter. The memories made her feel warm. She wished he could have seen her grow into the young woman she is today.

Tick tock.

6:51. The hands move on and on. Around and around. There is nothing else in the world to Emma now. She can hear her father’s laugh, his voice, she can see his smile. He was a good man. How many hours did he play with her? Why did she not appreciate the seconds and minutes of his life? Time is short she thinks.

Tick tock.

6:52. Emma’s mind melts into a melancholic haze. Her eyes bore a hole into the watch. She can’t take her eyes away. Visions of her father fill her head. The second hand ticks away. One, two, three, four, five… She counts the movements. There is no watch now. Only a circle. Only hands spinning on a dial. Only numbers representing the abstract concept of moments… How many of those moments constitute a lifetime? How do we not see them fly by except when we look at our wrists? How can we be so blind and not appreciate every second of this thing we call life? So many questions. The power of time overwhelms her…. She feels as though she is falling….

Tick tock.

6:53. Emma’s body slams into the roof of a car. Pedestrians on the sidewalk scream. One of them had called out to the girl in the sixth story window only a minute before. He watched helplessly as she stared at something in her hand, completely unaware of his voice or of the danger she had put herself in. She seemed in a daze. He called out several times before that girl leapt. Or fell, depending on which witness you asked. They all agree on one thing: She never took her eyes off that watch. On the car’s rooftop, her body lay mangled, the watch clenched firmly in her lifeless hand, in the gaze of her glassy open eyes.

Tick tock.

6:54. Emma’s phone rings in her now empty apartment. Her family wanted to believe her, the watch wasn’t cursed, they were crazy for imagining it. It was a coincidence, right? Sadly, she never answers, and they know the watch has claimed another victim.

Tick tock.


This was originally written on my Hive blog. I hope you liked it!


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Hide Me Under a Rock, I Don’t Want Your Intimacy!

I know I said I wanted intimacy, but maybe not that much!

If you follow me at all you probably know I write about all kinds of subjects (how to be a Butthole Wife, abortion, art, music, modesty, sex, politics, you name it). Sometimes I get really personal. I don’t have much of a filter on how much I share. This might get in me in trouble one day!

My post last week got a Facebook like from none other than my pastor. The post where I called out pastors and elders for not being out there in homes. Yeah. That one.

The thing is, I’m not sure I really want what I called for in that post.

Right now my wife and I are working 90 hours a week between the two of us. That means that our time is extremely limited. When we are home we are either sleeping, cleaning, cooking, eating, or catching the kids up on school.

I say cleaning, but what I really mean is we are trying to keep up with just that day’s mess. Not the previous mess from yesterday (and before), just today’s.

We are juggling. And when you juggle you drop things. When you drop things you make a mess. And you’re too busy keeping the rest of your life in the air to clean up every mess.

So messes pile up. Real messes, metaphorical messes, mental messes.

From all outside appearances my life is falling apart. I have nothing together.

Outside appearances are often all that anyone who bothers to peak in sees. Which is precisely why I am terrified of someone suddenly becoming interested in my life. What if they see the messes? What if they see my juggling and my dropping? What if they judge my entire character on the circumstances surrounding this terrifically tumultuous season of my life?

I have to be careful what I say. Someone might take me up on my challenges. Someone my try to get to know the real me, not the mumbly me that most people know. They might see the silly me, the sloppy me, the me that loses his temper way too easily, the anxious me, the passionate me. They may see the ugly side of me. The side of me that struggles with all types of temptations and often fails.

They might get to know me intimately as a friend, only to find out that I can be a disappointment as a friend. I am selfish and miserly. I am far too busy with my own life to take on the weight of others. I can’t invite you to my messy house and I’m too broke to go out for a drink. My texts are all somber and I breathe on the phone. I take far more than I could ever give in return.

I may speak a big game when it comes to intimacy, but ultimately I am too ashamed of myself to let you in.

Except when I blog. I’ll lay it all out for you here.

Behind the safety of my keyboard and screen.

Where Have I Been?

Maybe you follow me. Maybe you don’t. If you do, you might have noticed my recent absence. What is the reason for this absence, you may or may not ask?

Long story short: life is nuts. I was going to “stick to the plan” this year. It would seem that plans are obviously for the weak. God laughs at our plans. He has better ideas for us.

We haven’t stuck to the plan. We have made a decision to stay in Florida and pursue whatever we can. This has led to mounting debt and some very tight weeks, since the “whatever we can” has been slow to materialize. Sure, I’m driving a bus full time and doing delivery on top of that, but the money sucks.

I know that this is intended to make us more trusting and reliant on the Lord. But pain and struggle is never fun to go through. Getting used to a routine of 4:30 AM wake ups and virtually no time to myself has been a big adjustment from last summer’s mountain top freedom. So has getting used to the lack of funds.

And seeing others in more difficult situations makes me feel ashamed for feeling overwhelmed. I feel like I should be able to suck it up. I guess different people handle different levels of stress. I thought my tolerance level was higher, but it seems I am wrong. However, stuff that was huge to me before is practically nothing now. It amazes me to think I got so worked up over so little not that long ago.

I can only hope that means that what I am anxious about today is going to feel very small to me in the near future. I do realize that that could be the case in two ways: either my future problems will be that much bigger (like now versus three years ago) or the problems will be resolved and I will realize how trifling they were in the scheme of things. Let’s pray it’s the latter.

One reason I have been away from here is that I started journaling. Something about handwriting out all of your feelings, fears, and doubts is cathartic. It may not be as quick as typing but you can’t beat the tactile feel of a pencil scraping across paper. I love to make marks with my hands, no matter the medium. And I love to make words. What better way to combine those loves than with a journal?

You should be glad I am writing in that book. Along with the busyness increase there has been a flare up of the old anxiety. Not the particular anxieties of money and weariness, no, the general anxiety that speaks some pretty awful things into my brain. I get those out on that paper. There was a time when I thought “hey, I’ll be real on my blog”, but those days are gone, or at least put away for a bit until I can get a lid on this nonsense.

There is a plan now, and contingencies. It’s not all bad. There is dim light at the end of the tunnel.

I just don’t know how long that tunnel will be….

Fail to Smile

Writer’s block and too busy this week. It was a strain just to get Wednesday out. You probably noticed…

So here is an ancient poem. I am not sure what I was thinking at the end. Guess I thought it was cool?

Fail To Smile

2/16/00

She has straight teeth that fail to smile,
For life is too short,
Running straight and in file.
She has eyes that fail to blink,
For what she might miss.
Her ship comes in only to sink,
And she cries little more than once a week,
At all the things she’s done.
Going back for more each night,
She cries herself to sleep.
To wake she will fight,
Her eyes hidden away from light,
Struggling for them to keep
Shut.

No words could utter as mad as her eyes,
No thoughts her pain could realize.
She lives out at sea,
Blue as the sea,
Calm as the breakers against the skies.

LoveherdearsweeteyescompleteherlifeIpray.
Ifonlyshewascontentandnotjustsatisfied.
ButwhoamItosay?
Isithearingherlipsfortheyhavesighed.
HowamItopray?

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Out of Ideas?

I was complimented the other day on my dedication and consistency in posting my blogs. Honestly it’s not easy. Especially when you write every day. You dry up and start digging for ideas.

Sure, I could write responses to every crazy person on the internet. But that gets old for both readers and me alike. We only have so many words in our life and they can’t all be spent arguing with idiots.

So what does one write about if he isn’t going to address every hot topic of the day?

Thankfully I didn’t lock myself into a niche blog when I started this whole thing. I have left everything open for discussion. I can write about politics, religion, sex, marriage, travel, life, all the hot button issues, all the boring things, and all the stuff that matters to me.

There are many people who can produce original ideas day in and day out. But even those people go through writer’s block. Perhaps that is where a niche topic comes in handy. When you have a crowd of like minded followers you can harp on the same subject day in and day out and they lap it up.

That’s easy! Those of us who write about all kinds of things have a problem of choices. When you have such a large selection of subjects it can be overwhelming. Even if you manage to select one you probably don’t have enough to make a full post of it.

Maybe this block is a perfect time to learn focus. I can hone in on one thing and exhaust it. But what one thing? What dead horse can I beat?

Maybe this is just showing me that I can’t lock myself away from the outside world for four days at a time. I am not one of those people who needs to hide up in a cabin for months to “find themself”. My mind atrophies without interaction, and not simply the interaction of a text message either. A physical human being’s presence is what really gives it life.

Now is a good time to start. I’m going to hone in and hang out this weekend.

We’ll see what turns up Monday.

Niche Markets Are Such a Bore

Because I can…

I read a post the other week which purported to tell the reader how to be a super successful blogger. I may or may not be a super successful blogger, I am not entirely positive how to judge such a thing. This person’s advice was to pick a niche and stick with it. Not a narrow niche mind you. But a niche just the same.

To me however, a niche is narrow by definition. A niche boxes you into a corner and tells you that when you just aren’t in the mood to write about the same topic “too bad, your audience wants consistency.”

Consistency is the key to success when it comes to blogging, so they say. Write every post about cooking or travel and you will get 10,000 followers. Write frou frou sentimental platitudes and people will read you every day. I agree with these assertions. I have seen them in action. The most successful bloggers are the ones who day in and day out write about the same crap ad nauseum.

Personally though, I couldn’t care less about a niche. To me, variety is the spice of life. If I bore you one day with history I may interest you the next with money making tips. One day you might snooze at my art opinions but after a few posts you might just fall in love with my frou frou sentimentality.

Why limit yourself to one topic, fellow bloggers? Why put yourself into a box of predictability? Does your niche really gain you a lot of satisfaction? Or are you writing just for the paycheck? Is writing for a paycheck allowing you to do what you love or have you given up what you love just for the paycheck?

The author made a point about goals. He said you can’t attain goals without consistency. Do you make it a goal to stay passionate about your niche? What happens when you lose that passion? Is your goal to have a million fans or is it to do what you’re passionate about? I realize those are not mutually exclusive, but I feel for some people, passion about a subject doesn’t necessarily draw a crowd. Maybe they have a waning passion, maybe the subject at hand is frankly boring.

Someone has to write the boring stuff. Someone has to write about the not-so-popular subjects. Someone has to write about history, or make suggestions about music, or long treatises about government, interspersed with sappy love stuff and poetry. We can’t all write about amazing foods we have tried in far off exotic places. Some of us just like to write randomly about whatever we want.

And some of us consider that ability to be a success.

Why Do I Write?

I wish I had a full sized Matisse… And a desk… And a quill pen….

Why write?

Why write when you are pretty sure no one is reading?

Why write when it gets stressful to keep pumping out posts?

I ask myself those questions sometimes. It can get crazy trying to manage real life and keep up with a blog (or two or three). Sometimes it’s a strain to come up with ideas about what to write. Sometimes I write a complete dud. I had a friend once who wanted to do a podcast with me, like I have time or energy for that! No, blogging is enough.

But why do I do it?

Once upon a time I wrote poetry. Loads of it. I had enough teenage angst to fuel all kinds of creative output. I was published a few times in some random youth anthologies and school lit mags. It was fun, but with age came a dwindling of talent.

In those days I even wrote songs. A few were recorded by my wife’s (then girlfriend) guitar instructor. He hated me. At least the recordings were okay.

Growing up, I was fairly political. I had tons of opinions. I made bumper stickers for my car, some of which I am now greatly ashamed of. My university had a well-read paper and I put my political thoughts and writing skills into innumerable letters to the editor. Some were published, most were not.

After college I went into a bit of a writing hibernation. I had written so many papers and reports that I was spent. It took several years before I started to write randomly again. It was mostly political, but after some prodding I started my first blog about my exploits as a homesteading parent. It was a short lived blog.

Giving up on the blog, I holed up in writing commentaries on social and political subjects. All of them were saved as Word documents, pointlessly hidden on my hard drive.

Knowing how much I enjoy writing, my wife encouraged me to start a new blog. Thus was born Drip Torch Press. It has not always been an easy thing, but I have tried to stay fairly consistent in posting at least once a week. It’s certainly helpful to have the ability to schedule posts out weeks ahead of time. If you ever notice that the posts have stopped, just know that I died weeks ago.

So why do I do it? The big reason: catharsis. As someone who struggles with anxiety it is imperative that I have an outlet for my jumbled brain. The benefit of having a place to dump my thoughts and collect them into little piles is immeasurable.

Having this project is also a perfect way to increase focus. With anxiety comes a frequently scattered brain. It is healthy to have a place that distracts the mind and focuses it on one thing at a time. Learning how to focus here translates into learning focus elsewhere.

Writing to an audience, big or small, is also an ego boost. If I didn’t have a blog my narcissistic tendencies would probably channel themselves into destructive and annoying habits. At least here the recognition is deserved, not just expected.

And last but not least (until I think of another reason) I write for money. I try to impress people into buying my photos and paintings (it hasn’t worked). I post all of these posts on Steemit, which over the course of a year and a half has allowed me to buy into the cryptocurrency markets. It’s a slow trickle, but a trickle nonetheless.

One day I will be able to buy a cup of coffee and say “I earned this from doing something I love!”

That is the goal…