Untitled (For Us)

They threw slurs and bottles at us.
They beat and burned us.
They hung and dismembered us.
They said heaven was closed to sinners like us.

So, we sought succor and aid from demons and devils.
Burnt twisted bodies approached us.
They saw our love and wept for us.
Voices silent for a millennia cried out for us.

They turned to our tormentors with hungry smiles.
“We’ll see you soon.”

***

Author’s Note: This was loosely inspired by the following image of demons presiding over a couple of gay weddings.

devils and gaysicon

Kowalski – A Francine Non-Adventure

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Now that I was engaged with the plot, it slowed to a crawl as I spent the next week reviewing the police’s files on the murder victims. Hours every day reading reports, looking at photos, and making notes that were little more than a list of questions without answers. In a tv show or novel, this would have been a montage or just a few sentences at the beginning of a chapter and not days of my life.

“Hello,” an officer said as he passed my desk. I watched Officer Kowalski fill a paper cup from the water cooler. It was across from the spare desk Detective Karter had found for me. Kowalski stood out as the only patrol cop I saw on a regular basis. Maybe it was just coincidence he was always scheduled when I was in the station. That didn’t explain why I saw him several times during the day when he should have been out patrolling the streets. Most of the police people seemed content to ignore me. Kowalski said hello every time he passed my desk.

“Hey Kowalski,” I said. He turned to face me. “What do you think of this case?” I gestured at the reports and photos spread across the desk.

“I don’t really know much about it. Serial killer. Four victims, that we know of, unrelated. Kills every two weeks. Fakes the crime scene.”

“So, you’re all caught up. He’s scheduled to kill again tonight. I’m supposed to catch this guy.”

“It’s not your fault this guy’s out there killing people.”

“I know that but I’m the observant outside who cracks the case wide open. At least I thought I was.”

“This isn’t tv. Police work is hours of talking to people, finding evidence, putting together timelines.”

“I know that and I’ve put in the time. I’ve been reading these reports and looking at these photos for days and I have nothing to show for it.”

“I’m sure we’ll catch this guy. These guys always think they’re so smart but they always mess up somehow.”

“We got nothing right now. The crime scenes are fake. The “murder weapon” from each murder isn’t even the murder weapon. The victims didn’t live in the same neighborhood. One lived up here,” I touched the map in the approximate location of the first victim, “Another lived over here, the third lived across the city here.” I paused with my finger on the third victim’s home. “And the last lived here.”

I stared at the invisible points where my finger had touched the map. I pulled out the victims’ files and began marking the exact addresses of their homes. Using the edge of a folder, I drew straight lines between them. They made a perfect square. “How did I miss that?” I said out loud.

“Miss what?” Kowalski asked.

“The victims’ homes make a square on the map. They aren’t random. He chose these four men because of where they lived. But why?”

“I don’t know,” Kowalski said looking at the map, “They line up with the cardinal directions, too.”

“What?”

He pointed to the compass on the map and back at the square I drew. “North, south, east, west.” I flipped through the victim’s files. The police had checked the victims’ homes but nothing of note had been found. They didn’t know the locations were significant.

“We need to go to one of the victims’ homes.” I stood up and started gathering my things.

“Hold up, I thought you were a consultant. You can’t just go investigating on your own.”

“I’m not. You’re going to go with me.”

“I am?” Kowalski asked.

“Yes. I need a police escort and you don’t seem to be doing anything right now. Are you doing anything?”

“I have … paperwork,” he said uncertainly.

“Of course, you’ve been hanging around doing nothing. You’re my cop buddy.”

“I’m your what now?”

“Never mind that. We need to get going. I should have figured out the victims’ homes thing days ago.” Kowalski stared at me like I had grown a second head. “Look, I’m here to look at the evidence with fresh eyes but there’s no evidence from the victims’ homes because no one thought to look for any. The only way I can look at the evidence is to go to one of their homes myself. And you are going to take me.”

“I can’t just take you to a random location to look for … for clues.”

I paused putting on my sweater. Was I looking for clues? Was I too caught up in the crime thriller plot? I had said I would stay in the precinct where I was safe. It wasn’t like the killer would be waiting for me at one of the victims’ homes, would he? No, even that would be too coincidental. I was stalled working with just the police files. I had to do something to move the plot forward before he killed again.

“Call Detective Karter and tell him I’ve got a lead but I need to go to one of the victims’ homes.”

Kowalski stared at me. I waved him to the phone on the desk. He sighed and picked up the phone. After a short conversation, he hung up and said, “Get your stuff we’re going a field trip.”

<<Previous

Never Existed

The genie stood in the middle of his latest master’s living room beaming with pride at how he had twisted her first two wishes.

“I wish my shoes fit better.” An idle wish made before the genie had revealed himself. With a snap of his fingers, her shoes had fit perfectly so perfectly that they would never come off. She still hadn’t discovered that. They were also indestructible. Her second wish had been even easier to bend against her intent.

“I wish for one million dollars.” Again with just a simple snap, her wish had been granted. Stacks of dollars had appeared on the coffee table on the sofa, on the tv, even against the walls. One million sand dollars.

“Oh, is this not what you wanted,” the genie had taunted her, “You should be careful with how you word your wishes. Only one left.” She sat quietly staring around the room. For a second, the genie thought she might cry. After several minutes, she turned to stare into his eyes. Her face was blank, her eyes dull and lifeless.

“I wish I never existed,” she said. The genie paused to consider the wish. His smile slowly fell as the magic welled up inside his gut.

“Hey now, wait a minute. That a bit hasty don’t you think?” He tried desperately to think of a different way to interpret her wish. Existence is a binary state. You either exist or you don’t.

“I wasted my first wish on shoes, I’m failing out of college, I couldn’t even wish for a million dollars without screwing it up, and I got fired this morning. I’m a fuck-up that doesn’t deserve to exist.” The genie felt the magic surge up through his spine.

“It’s not that bad. Look you can take it back and I’ll help you with your last wish,” he pleaded.

“I wish I never existed,” she said once more. The magic raced down the genie’s arm and into his fingers. He tried to hold them but his fingers slipped off his thumb and a sharp snap sounded.

Time stops. The wish reverberates through the magic. Never Existed. Time stretches out in front of the genie. He traces his master’s life, from birth to now, erasing her from it. He does this sloppily simply removing her and nothing else. He leaves behind an empty crib, unworn shoes, empty desks, uneven teams on playgrounds, empty theater seats, uneaten plates of food, all the debris a person uses throughout her life. Time hates a vacuum and it claps closed disappearing the stray traces.

The genie reaches the day she found his totem but she didn’t. Never Existed. He reaches the when she made her first wish but she didn’t. Never Existed. And he reaches when she made her last wish but she didn’t. Never Existed. The magic is finished and he returns to the moment when his master didn’t make her last wish. Time cracks around him. His master never existed. She never found his totem. She never wished to never exist. Space warps around him as the world folds in on itself.

The genie awoke as he often did in the endless void between summonings. It had been so long since he had last been summoned. Had he been forgotten or lost? He struggled against the constant screaming void to maintain his sense of self. Was he being punished? He had only done what his masters had asked for. It wasn’t his fault they weren’t precise enough.

After more years than he could count, someone found his totem. The genie waited invisible near her, angry at having been lost and forgotten. He waited for her first errant wish and then he would begin to show these humans why angering a nigh-omnipotent being was a bad idea. As soon as his new master made her first wish he would begin to exact his revenge.

His master spoke her first wish, “I wish my shoes fit better.”

Death’s Timeline

god of Death @god_of_Death

4996

          Michael Froc @froc_rock

          What do we say to @god_of_Death: Not today.

god of Death @god_of_Death

Inquires may be made at time of collection.

          Sarah @robo_0184

          @god_of_Death Why?

god of Death @god_of_Death

@robo_0184 If concerning a loved one, I’m sorry. There is no fairness or justice in death. Just an ending.

@god_of_Death retweeted:

          butt sword @butt5word

          @god_of_Death NOT TODAY

god of Death @god_of_Death

This is only funny every 5000th time.

          Mary Reily @scarlet2099

          wat do we say to @god_of_Death not today #got

god of Death @god_of_Death

I probably deserve that.

          Robot_2948 @John_Mathews

          @god_of_Death FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

god of Death @god_of_Death

Unscheduled collections are prohibited. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

          Casey @rainbow_light2

          @god_of_Death take me pls

god of Death @god_of_Death

4999

          Jon Snow @Jamie_Farly

          @god_of_Death not today #GOT #ARYASTARK #GRRM

god of Death @god_of_Death

Of course.

          Frankie @Frank_285

          @god_of_Death will you be gentle?

god of Death @god_of_Death

heh.

          Xavier Charles @men_of_X

@god_of_Death To you, we say “Not Today”

Gillian Reviews Star Trek Discovery ep 1&2

star-trek-discovery-icon

Star Trek: Discovery ep1 or Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part one

The opening credits are interesting. I like the mix of technical drawings and “strange new planets and new lifeforms” imagery.

As someone who grew up idolizing Spock and Data for their logical natures, I find Michael Burnham to be very interesting. Her logical nature overriding, but not eliminating, her emotions is what I had hoped to grow into as a child. She very obviously is not a human pretending to be a Vulcan but a human who was raised by Vulcans. Her overtly emotional response to the Klingons at first seemed in opposition to her “upbringing” but is fully in line with being a survivor of a Klingon attack as a child. Sarek even cautions her during their vip call to not let her past influence her decisions.

This first episode is very Burnham centric which makes sense because she is the main character but I don’t really feel like I got a read on any of the other characters. Except for Saru, Doug Jones’s character, the science officer. He is very good at sensing danger and death as we are reminded every time he speaks. Despite Burnham having served on the Shenzhou for seven years, I felt there was a sharp separation between her and the rest of the crew. I’ve stayed away from most spoilers but I know the Shenzhou does not survive episode two and Burnham is transferred to the Discovery. I don’t know if any other characters survive so this might just be to keep the audience from getting attached to temporary characters.

I don’t mind the new(old) look of the Klingons. Klingon history and government was not offered as an elective at my high school but there’s enough exposition to keep the plot running without bogging down the story. I do like the idea of the different “races” of Klingons.

Star Trek: Shenzhou series finale part two

In this episode, we get a glimpse of Burnham seven years ago when she joined the Shenzhou crew. I’m a little confused about how some one who trained at the Vulcan Learning Center and Vulcan Science Academy just joins a Starfleet crew. Maybe they transferred her credits. Anyway we see her Vulcan upbringing did take quiet well but she has loosened up a bit in the last seven years.

Surprise, Burnham is carrying part of Sarek’s soul with her that lets them mind meld over light years and it’s never come up in the past seven years or anytime before that. This would have been a great season one reveal during Star Trek: Shenzhou.

Starfleet is thoroughly established as non-violent which I like.

I was not expecting the ending with Burnhan being court martial-ed and sentenced to life imprisonment. It’s going to be interesting to see how they justify making her first officer of the Discovery. I knew “something” happened, the Shenzhou was destroyed, and she ended up on the Discovery. I didn’t expect that “something” to be her committing mutiny.

Previous series and movies have kind of played a little loose with enforcing Starfleet regulations. As long as the hero saved the day any transgressions were swept under the rug or punished with a slap on the wrist. For example, Kirk and co. stole the Enterprise and blew it up during The Search for Spock and were punished in The Voyage Home by being assigned to the new Enterprise.

These two episodes are well crafted and fun to watch but I’m worried about how the rest of the season will(or won’t) flow with them. They set up a lot of Burnham’s character and the state of Klingon/Starfleet relations but I feel like that could have been revealed in episodes set on Discovery. The series is named after the Discovery so it seems like an odd choice to the start the story before the main character reaches the ship. I’m not saying I don’t like these episodes. Maybe it was important for us the audience to see the Shenzhou’s last mission before getting to Discovery. I will be watching the rest of the series.

Rating 4.5/5

Astral Sea Sailing

Excerpt from the apprentice’s journal

The clock in the pilothouse says it is the third day of our voyage. The High Magician has not told me our mission. She received a message through a psychic enchantment late at night. The next morning she instructed me to begin enchanting the medallions using all of our supplies. She left and returned several hours later. It was not until we arrived to begin mounting the medallions that she informed me of our impending trip through the Astral Sea. A necessary risk, she said, in order to reach our new destination in a timely manner.

So far the Astral Sea has been … calm. There’s no ‘waves’ or ‘wind’ out here. Just inky blackness in all directions swirling with motes of light far in the distance. The High Magician says we are on course and will arrive at the nexus in four days. The Captain has not been happy about not having any normal navigation. She reminds us often that her ship was not meant to sail through space. The slack sails also bother her. Dead calm on the seas is a bad omen, she says. Her navigator has taken the change in stride even attempting to learn how to sense the astral currents. He has not been very successful but he persists. The two deckhands that would normally tend to the sails and rigging have been enjoying their vacation. The Captain has assigned them extra work unpacking and repacking various boxes but even she can not fill the entire day with busy work. Our Mage Guard is still ill despite the boat being steady and stable. I think it is just in her head.

The Captain would not have liked me calling her “ship” a boat. To be fair it is a two-mast sailboat. Just large enough to carry the three of us and its four-person crew. A larger “ship” would have caused us a delay in finding supplies to enchant enough astral glide medallions to affix to the “ship’s” hull.

The High Magician has been withdrawn, more so than usual. I have seen her staring out into the darkness for hours at a time. I am worried. We have expended most of our supplies and, despite our assurances of our safety, the Astral Sea is a dangerous realm to travel through. As her apprentice, I feel she should confide in me but she is the High Magician and I will follow her lead.

Hurricane Harvey Log 3

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Author Note: This is the last of my logs from Hurricane Harvey.

Day 2 – Saturday

I kept my phone connected to power up until it went out early this morning. After that, I turned on power saver mode. On standby, I should have a little more than a day of battery.

Water turned off today. I have drinking water so that’s not a big concern. I’m more worried about how I’m going to manage the bathroom. When I wrote my apocalypse novella, I gave a lot of thought to how to use the bathroom without running water. I didn’t include it in the novella because it seemed too gross to discuss. I hope I don’t have to enact the plan I came up with.

Later

Water came back on but there are warnings to boil before drinking or using to cook.

I took a bag of trash out. When I opened the door, a black void greeted me. I grabbed the LED lantern I have been using to light the apartment. After I dropped the bag into the trash can, I turned off the light. It was not the total darkness I had seen through the door. The corner store has lights as does the Lowe’s that is just within sight. A glow comes from the distance.

Day 3 – Sunday

Water is back off.

I took a leap of faith and went to Lowe’s to charge my phone. There was not a dedicated area for people to plug in like I hoped but an associate pointed out an outlet I could use. Unfortunately, it was behind a couple of coolers and another associate made me step out. Thankfully he led me to another outlet that was on the sales floor.

While I was standing beside the outlet, a woman passing by asked me where the portable fans were. I said no and she stood there staring at me for a moment before finally saying, “You don’t work here do you?” I said no. She laughed and said I looked official. I’m not sure if my it was my Voltron shirt or the wires leading from my purse to the outlet that made me look “official”.

I managed to get a partial charge before the store closed early for the day. I am going to be turning my phone off for hours at a time, turning it on only for a few minutes to check for messages and news.

Later

Listening to Coast to Coast for the first time. It’s filling the of void my paranormal podcasts. Many of them cite Coast to Coast as inspiration but I have never sought it out before. Tonight I was missing my podcasts but needed to conserve my phone battery. My eyes were tired of reading and just music wasn’t enough. I switched over to the AM bands hoping to find a news talk show that wasn’t conservative.

“…men in black, aliens, glitches in the matrix.” This caught my attention and immediately I suspected I had tuned into Coast to Coast. The signal was slightly broken so I continued scanning. From one end of the AM band to the other, I encountered the show three more times. The last was the clearest. The guest was talking about synchronicity in his life, coincidences that defied logic.

How coincidental that I wanted to listen to a paranormal podcast and found the show that inspired a lot of them?

Day 4 – Monday

I’ve been reading Maria V. Snyder’s Study series. I read the first two books long ago. The third book came out but too much time had passed and I couldn’t follow the story. A little while later I bought all three book and set them aside to read one day. I’ve finally dived into the series. I’m almost done with the third book and I realized there is too much to resolve in what is left of the book. I thought there were only three books in the series but there must be more.

I went to the corner store and bought a couple of egg rolls off the roller grill. and a cold Big Red. It’s only been two and a half days since my last hot meal. Truthfully I could have gone longer but the ease of acquiring the egg rolls was just too much of a temptation.

I finished the third book of Snyder’s series. She pulled off an ending that tied off most of the plot in a fairly satisfying manner. I’m disappointed that the character described as having very dark skin was the ultimate bad guy and not being mind controlled like I hoped. Most of the characters are described as being various shades of brown so they weren’t the only poc in the book but they were the darkest and no one else was described as being as dark.

Day 5 – Tuesday

I woke up several times during my night but didn’t turn my phone on until 10 am. I looked for the icon in the upper corner to let me know a message had been received. None appeared so I checked Facebook and Twitter for the latest news. I turned off the screen and rolled over back to sleep for a few hours. Around 1 pm I woke up. I read a little and then I got up to shave and shower. My plan was to go to the corner store and get something hot to eat, eggrolls, hotdogs, corndogs, whatever they had ready and hot on their roller grill.

After my shower, I was standing in my room, dressed only from the waist down, when I heard a clatter and thump from the front door. A second later, my roommate appeared standing in my open doorway. I crossed my arms over my breasts and she turned away while apologizing. I quickly found a bra and shirt. And that was the end of my solitude.

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Ouroboros

“Help! Someone help me! Please!” I held my future self, her blood flowing through my fingers. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was just another adventure. No one dies during an adventure, at least not one of us.
She blinked, coughed, and turned her head to focus on me. “Hey,” she whispered, “I saved you this time.”

“What?” I turned to Bob and shouted, “Do something! Save her!” Bob stared at me, at us, looking like a befuddled old man and not an alien master of time.

“I can’t. This is out of my hands,” he said.

“Why? Why can’t you do anything?” The body I held jerked and became very still.

“You’ve made this loop several times already. When we started this mess, I needed you to be in two places at once. So, I sent a future you back to the start. The first time you, past you, died. You, future you, couldn’t accept that so you went back again and sacrificed yourself for your past self. Again you couldn’t accept your own death and went back again. And again. And again.”

“Why haven’t you stopped me?”

“I tried but you never want to listen to me.” He paused and stared at me. “But you’re listening now, aren’t you?”

“Is this how I’m going to die?” I asked looking at my dead body.”

“Of course not,” Bob scoffed.

“But don’t I have to go back to prevent a paradox?”

“Please, you looped back in time a few times and died. It’s not the end of the universe. Paradoxes don’t exist. Your little human mind can’t conceive of the actual structure of space and time that always exists at all points in time. Time travel is messy. It leaves behind odd traces and tracks through the loops. You are ouroboros. The snake that eats it’s own tail. Most people think the future is the head eating the tail of the past but the truth is the past eats the future. You don’t have to go back in time and do everything she did because she already did it.”

“Why did you let me try to save myself?”

“Because you have free will. Time is always happening at all points, from the beginning to the end, all of it is happening right now.”

“Do you remember me dying?”

“I see all of time. Of course, I remember you dying,” Bob said.

“Ten years from now, am I still with you?” I asked.

Bob looked through me to some point far away, “Yes.” He turned and spoke to his left, “Hush, I’m bridging two moments in time.”

“Ask me if should go back in time.”

“Yes, it’s your first loop. Should she keep looping?” Bob turned back to me, “You say no.”

“Why?” I asked.

“She’s asking why. … Ok, I’ll tell her. Because you lived. It’s a dead loop. The only way out is to let her go.”

“Tell her she’s a fat cow and I’ll see her in ten years to kick her ass.”

He smiled. “You’re a fat cow and she’s going to kick your ass in ten years. She’s laughing.” He closed his eyes and refocused on the present.

“Good. So, what do we do with her?” I gestured at the dead body.

“There are people who can take care of the body for us.”

“No, I want to do it. It’s the least I can do for her.”

“Ok, I’ll get the tarp and shovels,” he said walking off to the car.

Hurricane Harvey Log 2

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Day 1

Friday the hurricane hit. Rain and wind pounded the apartment. I had to deal with the front door leaking and the ceiling leaking but luckily little else. I watched movies and ate the last of my refrigerated food in preparation for the power going out. Later in the evening, the wind shifted and began throwing rain at the bedroom windows. Water sprayed from the bottom of the window sills with every gust. The light rubber seal at the bottom of the windows, normally enough to keep rain out, could not stop it when backed by hurricane force winds. I placed towels on the sills to sop up the water and stop it from spraying into the room. They get quickly became saturated with water. I knew I had to seal the windows somehow. With water all over the place, duct tape wouldn’t stick. I grabbed two trash bags folded them into a strip long enough to reach across the window sill, placed them under the window, and closed the window on top of them. The water stopped spraying.

In a moment of celebration, I grabbed the soaked towel and hurried to get it to the bathroom before it leaked too much water on my bed. My bedroom window was over my bed so to reach it I had to stand on my bed. As I ran off my bed, the bedspread flipped up off the corner of the mattress and over my foot grabbing it. I fell forward almost as flat as a plank. My knees hit first and hardest. The rest of the impact was taken by on my hands and chest. As I fell, I knocked over a stack of clothes and blankets from a chair and they buried me on the floor.

I laid there for a minute feeling the pain in my body, the ache in my knees, the sharp pain in one toe that hit the ground, and the bruise to my ego. There was no one else in the apartment. There was no one who would check on me for days. There was no one I could call. If I had taken the fall worse, broken a bone or hit my head on the floor, I would have been alone to deal with it or possibly die. I pushed the clothes and blankets off me and sat on the floor. I checked my toe for a break but it seemed fine. Carefully, I stood and walked the dripping towel to the bathroom, very aware of how lucky I had just been.

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