Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Today's Topic -- A Year After Your Death
"If you're seeing this message then I'm dead," the video transmission said. The message came in from the interstellar sleeper ship Tyrone, now a little more than one light year away from earth. It was Captain Sara Johnson.

"They made me record this before we left in case something happened to the ship. There should be data accompanying the message from the black-box transmitter on the ship. While I hope this is only a malfunction, I have been assured that you won't see this unless we are all dead. I'm sorry Allen; I really wanted to come back to you"

The transmission ended and Allen turned off the portable DVD player. He looked up at the Space Agency representative who had brought this to him. His name-tag said DuPont, Travis.

"We've confirmed the ship has split into two main parts with a cloud of debris surrounding it," DuPont said. "Of course it's still traveling at a good percentage of the speed of light towards the Tau Ceti system. We have a team looking at the data, trying to see if there was a flaw in the ship or if this was caused externally."

Allen didn't know how to react. Sara left eight years ago on this mission and had about 120 left to go. He had expected his little sister to outlive him by many decades.

"Thank you for coming by but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this," Allen said.
Well you could use this as the beginning of a story or as a bit of background before doing a character study of either Sara or Allen. I'm not sure but I had a pretty hard time coming up with even this much. The trick, of course, is that it took the message a year to get back to Earth. So even though they just found out about it, it's a year after her death. This is one of the days I did the last time I used this list of writing exercises and it gave me trouble then too. I have a semi-long rant about death associated with that. I think I'll reprint it here just to make this post that much longer. Here it is.
A year after my death the atomic clock with open the vault and all of you that are present can have your bodies removed.

A year after my death I won't care what happens because I won't be here to see it.

Even if I'm reincarnated I'll only be a year old and my memories will have been wiped so I'll only be a baby carrying the karmic baggage of countless previous lives. Any of my friends and family that have survived the year after my death may care to remember me but I won't be thinking of them.

If I'm in a place of eternal paradise or eternal damnation my thoughts won't be on this life. I'll either be praising the lord in a mindless dance of devotion or cursing his absence in eternal torment. All of the things that made me who I was will be fading from memory.

Photographs will record my life but only for so long. After memory has faded and all record of my existence has been obliterated by time I will still be dead. If my life, writings, and thoughts change the course of humanity for thousands of years and my name is revered or cursed daily for all measurable time, I will still be dead.

Whether I pass into nirvana or rot in the ground I won't care either way. Will I miss life? I don't know. Sometimes the monotony of the human condition makes me think no. But other times the diversity of human experience and the spark of invention and creative mayhem make me miss the life I will never see after my death. There's something about the here and now that makes me want to stay here. It doesn't seem like fear of the unknown but rather not wanting to leave a party too soon. There's too much fun left to be had.

So a year after my death, I'll be dead. That's all I know for sure about death. There may be an infinite variety of existence before during and after death but all I have available to me is the before death part.

Regardless of the volumes that have been written and the thousands that have been martyred, there is only faith and physical facts waiting after death. The body will rot, or if preserved properly it won't. Faith or its lack will be tested, or it won't. There's no way to tell but there's also no way to absolutely rule out the existence of something more. A year after my death, I'll have the answer ... or I won't.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Today's Topic -- You are standing in a doorway.
The earthquake started as Officer Robinson reached the crime scene. He was on the fifth floor of the apartment building and immediately ran for a doorway. He braced himself in the door and watched as the body inside bounced across the floor.

The body of a middle-age man had been nearly severed at the waist. His entrails stuck to the floor in a wet mound. His torso was tethered to the mound by his intestines. His face was partially crushed and his jaw enacted a gruesome marionette show as it bounced out of sync with the rest of the head.

A bright light formed at the far end of the apartment. Officer Robinson saw some shadows moving on the far wall. He reached for his gun as the light flashed and went out. The last jolt of the earthquake followed the disappearance of the light and knocked Robinson over and into the corpse. His uniform was ruined. He got up and tried not to spoil the scene further or slip in the gore around the room.

He went quickly to the kitchen with his gun drawn and found an empty room with a large circular scorch mark on the floor. Blood had been used to draw several weird shapes on the walls.

"Robinson, what are you doing in there," Sergeant Tanner said from the other room. "Is it safe to come in?"

"I thought I saw some movement in here that wasn't part of the earthquake," Robinson said. "You better send some crime scene guys in here. There's blood all over these walls."

Robinson could hear the click and whirr of the crime scene photographer and other movement in the other part of the apartment.

"Jesus Christ," Tanner said. "You been in there huggin' the corpse. You're a friggin' mess. Don't tell me you got a thing for chewed up dead people now."

"Very funny; that earthquake knocked me on my ass," Robinson said. "I need to finish up here so I can go scrape this guy off of me."

"Funny thing about that," Tanner said. "The only people who felt the earthquake were the ones already in the building. If I hadn't felt it myself, I'd think you were lying just so you could snuggle up with your friend in there."

"You don't know when to quit, do you?" Robinson said.

"I figure I've got one or two more before it gets too old," Tanner said.

"Sergeant," an officer called from the other room. "You and Robinson should come get a look at this."

(To be continued, I'm sure. I was thinking about some Hellblazer/Call of Cthulu kind of story. I'm not good with the police procedural so that would need work. I just liked the idea of bracing in a doorway during an earthquake next to a gory crime scene.)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Yippee, two days in a row!

I'm so proud. I actually wrote the second day's topic on the second day. So here it is.

Today's Topic -- Write about a time someone said no.
"You can put that away right now," I said. "I'm not getting into that suit."

"Then you'll die," the Steward said. "It's as easy as that."

"I have acute claustrophobia," I said. "If I get into that thing there's a good chance I'll have a seizure and probably die."

"Then you have a choice to make," he said and tossed the suit onto the bed of my cabin. "This ship has lost hull integrity. There's no way you can get to a section with escape pods without putting the suit on. I've got five other passengers to get into suits. You need to start putting this on now or I am authorized to leave you behind."

With that he turned and left the room. A dull thud shook the room as some other section exploded in decompression. They needed to vent the atmosphere or the whole ship would blow up. I knew that but it didn't make the suit on the bed any more of a lifeline than before.

Space was vast but the ships that traveled through it were little cans. I booked the largest suite and had my meals delivered so I could avoid the corridors. If it wasn't for the opportunity of a lifetime to study at the best university in the quadrant, I would never have gotten into this death trap.

I went to the terminal in my room and checked the emergency screen. It said four minutes and 47 seconds until this section, including this cabin, would begin decompression.

I went back to the bed and stared at the suit. My mind closed in, my vision tunneled, my breathing became ragged; I had to turn away and walk around.

"Three minutes to decompression," a voice announced to my room.

Such a calm voice, I thought. After the air is gone I probably have two to three minutes before I pass out. Then maybe a minute more before I die.

"This is stupid," I yelled and run back to the bed. "I'm not gonna die because I can't get into a damned suit."

I grabbed the suit, unzipped it's front and stepped into the legs. My heart pounded and I started sweating as I put my arms into the sleeves. The room spun as I grabbed the zipper and I passed out.

"Section 42 decompression complete." I heard it far off and I knew that I wasn't dead. I couldn't see anything but I felt air. I'm was still breathing air. I tried to move but I couldn't tell if I did.

"Just lie still and you'll be OK," a voice said. It was the Steward. But where was he; where was I. I didn't really care. "We found a med-kit. We've given you something to relax you. Luckily you had the suit almost on before you passed out."

"How much of this is he hearing," a second voice said from farther away.

"I don't know but I doubt he'll ever get on a space ship again," the Steward said from the farthest away.

I'm not dead, I thought and passed out.

Please comment if you want but remember the raw, first-draft nature of this post.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy FN New Year

Well it's 2005. Hoop de do. I had a pretty good birthday considering we didn't go eat at PF Chang's -- there was an hour and a half wait and I neglected to call ahead for reservations. We had a pretty bad Chinese substitute at China Court down the road. Calvin also chose this day to scream at everything. So it wasn't until the kids were with the Grandmother for the evening that the day really picked up. Tamara and I had some pretty good Bar-B-Que at Oklahoma Station and went to see Blade 3. It's a brain candy action movie but still pretty good. So that's what it's like to turn 40.

Today we had the Hodge/Baker tradional New Year's meal -- enchiladas, tacos and black-eyed peas. They were pretty good. I ate too much and then we all played Uno Attack. With 8 players the game took over two hours. That's just too much "spitting" Uno.

After we got home I remembered what I wanted my only New Year's Resolution to be.

To write every day.

I'll worry about guitar, excercise and other things later. I just want to do this. So I had this idea to use the book, "A Writer's Book of Days" by Judy Reeves and see how long I can keep it going. I tried using this book once before a couple of years ago but it didn't work out. She has the normal writing life rah rah stuff but also an idea a day to write about. So I'm going to try to use her "Idea a Day" part of the book if nothing else and write something and post it here in the blog. That way I get writing practice and blog entries. I'm hoping it lasts more than a week.

Today's topic -- Write about Sunday afternoon.
He woke up to a cat licking his face. The wet sandpaper tongue rubbed against the flesh between his nostrils; wrenching him lick by lick from a happy drunk dream to a hung-over wakefulness. The cat stood on his chest and licked and purred and nuzzled and sailed across the bed barely catching her claws on the edge. She climbed back up and licked her paws as if she'd been doing that all day.

Jerry looked at the cat. His head throbbed. He stared at the cat and contemplated throwing up, getting some aspirin or perhaps a large saw and decapitating himself. It would serve the cat right if he threw up on it but then he'd have to clean it up. He stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. The day was too bright and the bathroom had no windows. He left the door cracked and navigated his toilet, aspirin and shower with minimal light.

He felt better after the shower and noticed the smells; bacon and coffee. Was someone cooking in his apartment or did he drink enough last night to have a minor stroke? No, he heard a noise. Someone was moving around in the other part of the apartment.

Jerry thought hard. Did he bring someone home last night? He couldn't remember. He went back to the bedroom to get dressed. He looked around for any signs of someone else's stuff. There was nothing. He had no clue who she was but if she was making breakfast... This could be very bad if he couldn't come up with a name.

He went into the kitchen and hoped for the best. He was not ready for what was there. A skinny guy wearing boxers and a tank top literally pranced around the kitchen putting the finishing touches on a full bacon and eggs breakfast. He noticed Jerry in the doorway and stopped.

"Hey, lover boy," he said. "You were really packing them away last night. Come over here and get some food in you. It'll help you face this glorious afternoon." He then went over and sat down at the table.

Jerry stood in the doorway - stunned. The food smelled good but he didn't know this guys name. He didn't know why a guy would be in his apartment at all. He did a quick mental inventory and nothing seemed out of place; but last night was still primarily a blank.

"Hey, come on over and I can explain it to you," the man at the table said. "As drunk as you were last night, I'd be surprised if you can remember who you are if your mother doesn't write your name in your shorts."

Jerry walked across the room and saw a heaping plate of eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast and a cup of coffee just for him. He sat down and looked at the man next to him. He looked to be about a head shorter and fifty pounds lighter than Jerry.

"Look, before you start doubting anything or going over the top, let me introduce myself and tell you want happened," he said between sips of his coffee. "My name's Mark." He held out his hand but Jerry didn't take it.

"You have some mean friends," Mark said. "You thought I was a girl and they sent you over to pick me up. You did too. We were getting ready to leave when I noticed how drunk you were and how much they seemed to be enjoying it. I got you home and barely got you through the door when you passed out hard. I tucked you in and stuck around to make sure you didn't choke on your own vomit."

"Uh, thanks," Jerry said and continued to stare at Mark.

"Oh, I admit I made you breakfast so I could play with you a bit but when I saw you in the doorway I couldn't. You look pretty hung-over and I imagine your friends are going to give you hell about this for a while."

"Yeah, they'll get some good laughs out of this," Jerry said. "We were celebrating. I got a promotion. They just kept buying me drinks and I kept drinking them. I guess I'm getting too old for that kind of shit." Jerry started on the breakfast slowly. He was relieved that he was the only one being stupid last night.

So there you have it. The idea is to write until you get to a stopping point or you run out of steam. This is a first draft so any problems with tense or viewpoint or anything else is not supposed to be on your mind. I'm putting it up in it's raw form. So please comment if you want but remember the raw, first-draft nature of the posts.