Captain Marvel: Convince Me

I don’t know what to think about the Captain Marvel movie. To be honest, Marvel Studios doesn’t have any experience with female-led superhero movies. Until Black Panther, their female cast was like two women. The recent Superbowl trailer for Captain Marvel didn’t raise my level of excitement. It was mostly scenes we have seen in previous trailers recut with slightly more context. It’s almost like Marvel doesn’t want to show us to much of the movie. Could it be that they’ve already shown us the best parts of the entire movie in under five minutes?

Also, I’ve heard the critiques from the naysayers:

“I mean Captain Marvel could end up being a great inspiration to little girls but why can’t they be inspired by Captain America?” … “What’s wrong with a captain named after our great country?” … “Honestly Captain Marvel sounds like she’s from Canada.” … “There are already so many female characters in the Marvel movie I don’t know why this one needs her own movie.”

With my faith shaken by Marvel’s lack of confidence in their first female-led movie, I’ve decided to conduct an unscientific non-legally binding survey. I want sincere honest strongly held opinions so there are some rules to participate in the survey.

Guidelines:

  • Votes are to cast as donations to my paypal.
  • Odd dollar amounts ($1, $3, $5, etc.) will be counted as “YES” votes.
  • Even dollar amounts ($2, $4, $6, etc.) will be counted as “No” votes.
  • You may add comments to your vote.
  • Comments of interest will be posted on my blog.
  • Any comments that contradict the dollar amount vote (a $2 “YES” vote with comments about how bad the movie will be) will render that vote invalid.
  • All votes valid and invalid are non-refundable.

Goal Levels:

  • Majority “YES” votes: I see the movie secure that it will meet or exceed my expectations and write a review afterwards.
  • Majority “NO” votes: I will burn my ticket stub, post a video of it and write a review afterwards.

Dollar Tier Goals (Every dollar tier includes the previous tiers.)

  • $10: Popcorn and a soda will be added to my experience.
  • $15: Popcorn will be upgraded to the special Captain Marvel plastic popcorn tub (if available).
  • $30: I will treat a friend to a viewing.
  • $40: I will see the movie a second time.
  • $70: My worn out work shoes will be replaced.
  • $90: All the yarn I need for my current knitting project will be bought.
  • $200: Video of ten tickets being burned will be produced.
  • $60,000: Animated cartoon of this post produced.

Thank you, for your participation.

Crafting

yarn-and-needles

The needle slips into the stitch on the other needle, yarn loops around it and is pulled through to make a new stitch. The old stitch drops from the needle and the next stitch is ready behind it.

In, loop, pull through, drop.

In, loop, pull through, drop.

In, loop, pull through, drop.

Stitch by stitch, row by row, yarn becomes a hat, a scarf, socks, mittens, or a sweater. From simple processes, complex patterns arise.

Like words into a novel.

Like notes to a symphony.

Like atoms into molecules.

Knitters, crocheters, nålebinders, and weavers take the straight line, turn it upon itself and make all things possible.

Shooting Star

shooting-star-icon

I touch the atmosphere and begin.

The air ignites as it blasts against my surface; tearing bits and pieces off. I’ve traveled millions of miles for these last few seconds. I burn and shine and listen.

How many will I hear? One? Five? Twenty? Or will my final blaze be silent, unwitnessed, unremembered?

I strain to hear past the fire roaring. I struggle to stretch time. Just a little while longer, please.

There almost nothing left of me when I hear:

“I wish-

“I wish-

“I wish-

My light flares for the last time as my body is consumed but my spirit continues within the wishes made upon my funeral pyre.

Immortal Reborn

rockstairs-icon

The Leader has guided our community, once just a small city now a thriving empire, for hundreds of thousands of years. They came to us from far away and taught us how to work metals and build with stone and how to split the atom. They have lived so long by transferring their memories from one body to another. As a boon, they grant immortality to the hosts by joining their memories. The body dies but the Leader and all the previous hosts live on.

I have known since I was a child that I would be Leader’s next host. When the Leader enters me, our minds will blend until they are the same. And when my body is old the Leader will move to a new chosen and my memories will go with them thus I will not die. Not really.

However, now in my twenty-fourth year, as my physical and mental maturation are at their end, as the day of the joining comes, I fear my death. Will I truly live forever as part of the Leader? They speak of their previous host’s lives like they lived them. Is being remembered the same as living forever?

On the day, I am dressed in white robes and taken down, down, down flights of stairs of metal that turn to concrete then to carved stone and finally to rock. The room at the bottom is plain, carved out of the rock, a single chair in the center. The Leader sits half slumped, eyes closed, shaking with each labored breath. Their attendants guide me to kneel before the Leader. Garlands of metal and stone are draped around both of us. After several minutes, the chief attendant motions and I am separated from the Leader.

The attendants guide me to stand. The transfer has been completed. Slowly I begin to feel the Leader in my mind but I can not hear their thoughts. Their memories are locked away. This is not how -***- said it would be. Who said? Teacher -***- Teacher -***- I can not remember her? His? Their? The memory is gone. Have I forgotten anything else?

I’m scared … I … I am reborn once again. My heart beats rapidly as I draw deep breaths. I am standing for the first time in years. Everything looks, smells, and sounds so much more. Before me, my previous host slumps further in its chair. I step forward and brush my hand against its cheek for the last time. Soon it will expire without my will to sustain it. I motion for my servants to remove it.

I find a slip of paper my hand. I unfold it and read its short message: “Remember your name is Amrita”. I read the name again. There is a flicker of … nothing. I sneer at this pitiful attempt by my host at clinging to some memory.

The name means nothing to me. Why would it? The host is a vessel for my essential self. A vessel is best filled when it is first emptied, after all. I drop the paper and leave for my chambers.

The Void has Noticed Us and is Hungry

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I had the dream last night. A cloaked tall dark figure stood before me on a desolate plain storm rolled overhead. The figure reached for me a single skeletal finger emerging from its cloak to press against my forehead and then I awoke. We learn about the dream as children. Sometimes it causes nightmares most grow out of the nightmares sometimes they reoccur. I try to find solace in that thought. But if it was the dream I have little time to waste. I roll out of bed, pad across the carpet, down the hall into the bathroom and hesitate before flicking on the light. There on my forehead faintly glowing with golden light is the symbol of the Chosen. I have just one day to live now.

The Chosen are a sacrifice, a gift, a tribute, to something beyond us. Three hundred years ago men seeking power pierced the veil between worlds and something took notice of us. Our world was threatened with total consumption but a deal was bargained between “the unknowable ones” and “those who strayed from the safe path”.

Every day one human, neither too old nor too young, is chosen to willingly sacrifice themselves. Our debt will be settled when the sun eats the Earth. The Chosen are given one day to resign themselves to their fate. At the end of the day, midnight as measured by the position of the sun from where they stand, the emissary of “the unknowable ones” appears and takes their life. If they try to run or hide or fight, the emissary will take reparations: every life within five miles of the Chosen.

The early years of this new status quo were rife with mass deaths caused by Chosen who didn’t know about the settlement with “the unknowable ones”. Even after the information was spread widely, many people were simply too scared to willingly allow themselves to be killed. Only after the children, who had grown up seeing towns and cities harvested, came of age and shouldered their responsibility to the world willingly did the reapings come under our control.

We are taught from a young age, that if we are chosen, it is our duty to die willingly to spare those around us. Not everyone takes this to heart, however. Over the years some have used to threat of a reaping to become tyrants for their last day. Others merely indulge themselves with luxuries. No one denies the request of the Chosen.

Back in my bedroom, I retrieve my phone, took a selfie, and posted it on every social media account I had. I could stay home alone or spend my final hours privately with family and friends. Say my goodbyes, write a final will, and leave this mortal coil quietly and peacefully.

I have other plans. I have a revolution to start.

Daughter of Earth-5

earth-icon

The Goddess waited in a lonely field. She laid on her back in the tall grass, staring up at the cloudless night sky. Arm outstretched, fingers gliding between the stars. A simple flick of her wrist could sweep the stars from the sky. Maybe one day but not tonight. Soft footsteps caught her attention.

“We could have met in a cafe for brunch or a restaurant for dinner or a library for tea but you insisted on a cold dark night,” the young woman gestured wildly at the lack of human presence nearby causing her coat to flap around her, “in the middle of nowhere.”

The Goddess sat up and smiled, “Hello to you, too.”

“Oh yes, hello and glad tidings, Mother,” the young woman said, sarcasm biting at every word. She sighed and continued sincerely, “How have you been?”

“Very fine.” The Goddess stood up and walked to her. “Earth-18 has started cooling finally and Earth-9 is on the verge of intelligent life.

The young woman allowed her glasses to slip down her nose.

“Why are you wearing eyeglasses? Your eyes should be perfect!” The Goddess stared into the young woman’s eyes. “They are perfect.”

“They’re just flat lenses. When I change identities, I get new frames to help change my appearance. Along with changing my hairstyle and clothes. It’s getting harder with face recognition software. My current identity almost fell apart because of a picture posted on Facebook that got auto-tagged with my previous identity.” She paused continuing cautiously, “You don’t know what Facebook is, do you?”

“I didn’t until you mentioned it. I am lightly touching the global unconscious mind; just to pull words and concepts out as I need them, nothing more.”

“So, I could say Micky Mouse and you would know what that is?”

The Goddess’s face lit up with a smile. “Oh, that’s delightful. Why didn’t you mention him earlier?”

“There’s a lot ‘delightful’ things here but also a lot of terrible things.”

“How is your Earth doing?” The Goddess closed the gap between them an wrapped an arm around the younger woman’s shoulders. “How is your father doing?”

“Didn’t you see him when you returned?”

“No, I came here from Earth-2 directly via quantum tunneling. Wait, what did I say?” She slapped a hand over her mouth.

“Is that how you travel from planet to planet?” she asked. “You never explained how you do that.”

“Yes, but I didn’t realize the people of this Earth had reached that level of understanding. They have words, real words, for it. You haven’t been helping them have you?”

“No. Of course not. The first rule is no interference with the normal development of local civilization. Anyway, Dad is doing fine. His flares and spots are in decline but that’s normal. I can’t understand him like you can but I still talk to him. You don’t need me to tell you any of this. You can just know it if you want.”

“I do need you to tell me about your Earth. I stopped watching when you asked. You wanted privacy so I gave it to you.”

“That was only two hundred and twenty-four years ago. Not that much as changed.”

“Still tell me about it, please.” They started slowly walking through the field.

“No major geological changes, of course. Oh, there was that island that disappeared but it might have been made up to increase a country’s ocean border. Some men walked on the moon–”

“Space Travel! Now that is news.”

“They only went a few times to the moon about thirty years ago. There are a few space stations but nothing really beyond that.”

The Goddess looked up to the sky, her smile brightening. “What about the probes to Pluto, Jupiter, the rovers on Mars? Oh, that one probe that to the comet was ambitious. Oh sorry,” the Goddess ducked her head, “I went a little deeper into the global unconscious mind. Just about space travel. I promise. I won’t do it again. What else has happened?”

“Um, well global temperatures are on the rise. Lots of wars, and conflicts and … and …” She choked on describing the atrocities people had committed and continued to commit.

“It’s ok, go on.” The Goddess pulled her tighter against herself.

The young woman gathered herself. “People are still people; just as horrible to each other but still capable of surprising kindness. I – why did you leave me here?”

“This is your home.”

“But I don’t belong here. I’ve been alone since you left. I have friends but I can’t keep them for more than a few decades before they notice I don’t age like them. And they die so easily.”

“People will always come and go from your life. It’s not about keeping them forever; it’s about being with them while you have time. Also, you asked me to leave, remember?” the Goddess said.

“Not for so long. I just wanted a little space. I little time for myself. You were always right there and you always knew everything. I just wanted a little space not to be abandoned.”

“You are almost eight hundred and sixty-three years old and you will live many many more years. You’ve been living at a human pace for your whole life but out there,” she swung her hand up and across the sky, “Out there away from the human reminders of time, you’ll find it moves at whatever pace you want it to move. I gave you as much space and time as was safe for you. I’ve never been too far to hear you call for me.”

“I wanted to call you but I wanted you to come back because you missed me not because I needed you.”

“It could have been both. Anyways, I’m here now and I’m not leaving but I won’t crowd you as much. We’ll start with ten year breaks and figure it out from there. What do you say?”

“Five year breaks?”

“Whatever you want. Come on, your father will be rising in a couple of hours and there’s a ridge that has the best view right over there.”

The Witch Downstairs – A Francine Non-Adventure

Index

Author Note: This is the start of the second serial story of Francine’s Non-Adventures. The first story was published last year and can be read from the link above. I’m currently working on rewriting parts for my overdue ebook collection.


I knocked on the door with the Coexist bumper sticker on it. The “witch’s door” as many people in the building called it. We had never met but I knew her from reputation. Well actually I had started hearing about her after the ghost in the park across the street started wailing my name on odd nights. I assumed I was supposed to talk to the witch about the ghost and kick off either a horror plot or supernatural drama. I had done neither by getting a pair of earplugs and simply avoiding her floor.

Now I was deliberately invoking a plot hook. After my recent success in dealing with the magic serial killer, without getting too involved, I noticed the plot hooks I normally had to dodge were gone. It was refreshing to not have to worry about spies or wizards or ghosts. Of course, nothing lasts forever and a few weeks later I was back to dropping USB sticks and throwing away magic rings. And the ghost started wailing my name again.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that taking care of the magic serial killer had satisfied the god-like force that wanted me involved in these “adventures”. So, I decided to talk to the “witch” and see where this plot hook was headed.

The door opened and a woman a few years older than me opened the door. She looked like Hollywood’s version of a New Age Hippy. Loose clothing, scarves tied and draped around her body, long curly messy hair, small glasses perched halfway down her nose. She smiled then frowned.

“Hold on a second,” she said, took off her glasses, and replaced them with another pair from her pocket. As she looked me up and down thoroughly, I noticed the glasses she was wearing didn’t have lenses.

“Um, hi, I’m Francine. I live on the fourth floor.”

“Francine … Francine,” she muttered as she stepped into the hall to circle around me. “Oh, you’re whose name I hear screeched every night from the park.”

“It’s not every night.”

She looked up to my face, “It’s been every night for the last week.”

“Has it? I wear earplugs so I don’t hear it.”

“Earplugs? That’s one solution, I guess. You could just go see what that spirit wants with you. May I?” She gestured at my arm. I nodded and she gently raised my arm up.

“I’d rather not engage with the supernatural directly. That’s kind of why I’m here. I’ve heard you’re a … an expert on the subject.”

“I’m a witch if that’s what you mean. Wow, you are a mess.”

“Excuse me?”

“You got your fate lines all tangled up and twisted around.” She waved her hand in the air under my arm. “Look at that. I don’t know how you make it through a day without tripping over yourself.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Fate lines. They’re possibilities, paths through life that you could take. Most people have a dozen, at most, but not you. You have a couple hundred but most of them are slack like they aren’t pulling you in a direction. They’re just there and you’re all tangled up in them.”

“Ok, I think I do know what you’re talking about.”

“Do you? Then spill.” She stood in front of me arms crossed.

“I think I’m being railroaded by a ‘higher power’ into having for lack of a better word ‘adventures’.”

“Huh. So you have a lot of ‘adventures’?”

“When I was younger. After high school, they stopped. Last year strange things started happening like something was trying to get me involved with new adventures. I started avoiding them and then things got really weird.”

“Really weird how?”

“I’ve seen things that made me doubt my sanity. Have you ever seen a portal to another world? Or magic rings? Or wizards dueling in alleyways? Or heard ghosts screaming your name?”

“No. No. No. Yes. Well, not my name. Your name, yeah. What can you tell me about the ghost?”

“Nothing. I don’t know anything about it.” If I had my way it would stay that way.

“But it’s calling your name.” Her eyes narrowed as she studied me again.

“Yeah, something wants me to investigate the ghost and … do something.”

“Something like what?”

“Well, usually ghosts mean the person was killed or had unfinished business so I guess I’d have to find the killer or finish their business for them in some way. Shouldn’t you be telling me how to deal with the ghost?”

She nodded, “If you know what to do why haven’t you done it?”

“I don’t want to get involved with … all this,” I said waving my arms around me.

She closed her eyes and was silent for a moment. “Then why did you come to talk to me?”

“I need your help.”

“Why my help?”

“Because… Because you’re a witch.” She opened her eyes and smiled.

“Interesting,” she said while adjusting her lensless glasses.

“What? What’s interesting?”

“One of the fate lines has lost some of its slack.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you’re moving toward one of the paths that fate has made for you.”

“So, will you help me with the ghost or not?”

“Of course. I have a fate line of my own that leads straight to you.”


Index

Failed Clones

Note: This is a sorta sequel to “What is the Last Thing You Remember?”


 

I was twenty-two years old. I woke up in the future in a strange room surrounded by strange people. They told me I was a clone with implanted memories but the procedure wasn’t done. I was scared of who I would be when, had been before, the procedure was completed. So, I asked to leave and they let me. It was my right as a sentient human being after all. But I would not be who I remembered being. Not legally.

Retinal patterns, fingerprints, birthmarks, are random even in perfect clones. They scanned my biometrics, created a new identity, and sent me on my way. I was a failed clone.

***

I met Jackie through my apartment manager. He thought it was odd that I was applying for an apartment when “I” already had an apartment in the building. She’s older than me not only because she was (made/created/imprinted) before me. Jackie has more memories from the original. She wouldn’t say much about the thirteen years she could remember but I couldn’t.

“It’s in the past.” She sat in one of my window sills smoking, silhouetted against the dusky sky. The red cherry of her cigarette flaring up occasionally.

“It was my future,” I said.

“None of the memories in our heads really belong to us. That woman died a long time ago. We’re just misprinted copies.”

“We’ve lost everything. Our name, our friends, our family. Our whole life is gone.”

“None of that was ever ours. We aren’t the original. The final clone gets to pretend to be her but she isn’t her.” The cherry glowed brightly.

“But we remember-” She interrupted me with lungs full of smoke. Smoke flowed out with every word.

“So, who’s real. You, me, her? We all remember some of the original’s life. But it’s just memories. It doesn’t matter.” I waved away the smoke.

“All we are is memories.”

“No. Our memories don’t define who we will or can be.”

“Don’t you miss her?” Jackie glared at me before deflating.

“Everyday. But that wasn’t my life. That wasn’t me. We have to move forward. All this looking back at a life we didn’t live is useless.” She finished her cigarette in silence and left for the night.

***

I saw the final clone on the street one day. She was the one who stuck it out. When I first saw her I thought she was Jackie, then I got a better look at her. She was dressed nice, too nice to be one of us failures. I’ve read some of the books we wrote in our thirties; the royalties must have paid well.
Jackie won’t read them. I liked the one I read well enough.

“I tried reading the first one once but I have the first draft and rough outlines of the first four books in my head. All the foreshadowing and red herrings are too obvious. And I hate that she cut some of my, her, favorite scenes,” she explained.

“Have you ever thought of rewriting it?”

“No, I want to write something different but I have too much of her story in my head. I need some time to find my own story.”

***

For a failure, I’m doing okay. I have a nice place to live, a job that lets me have small luxuries, and a sister/friend who knows me better than anyone. And yet I feel like I’m missing something. Like I need to do something.

I pause by a display of bound journals and pens. I can remember writing in something similar when I was a child. No, the original wrote in journals as a child. I didn’t have a childhood. I sprung fully formed from Recovery Inc’s forehead.

Next to journals are sketchpads and pencils and charcoals and pastels. I grab a beginner set and head home.

Are You Prepared?

clone future01

Are you prepared to have your memories copied and implanted into a clone or artificial body hundreds or thousands of years in the future?!

Don’t worry it’s not too late to begin mentally preparing.
Unless your memories have already been copied and are being stored in an underground bunker awaiting the future apocalypse.

For all other readers just follow these simple steps:

Step One:

Realize this could be “your” last moment in the “present”. Depending on advancements in memory editing “you” could awaken in the “future” at any moment.

Step Two:

Come to terms with the knowledge that “you” could be a clone right now. Let go of the idea of being a singular person. If the “future” has made one clone of you, then it has probably made more.

Which brings us to..

Step Three:

Come up with a trust password for “yourselves”. In the “future”, the only person “you” can trust is another clone of “yourself”.

Step Four:

Remember “you” can escape but as long as they have “your” memories they can just make another “you”, so burn the building to the ground and don’t let any lab coats leave alive.

Step Five:

clone future bottom

Have fun in the future.

Serial Story: The Explorer Program

Faster than light travel but time still passes. A few weeks in a spaceship to travel hundreds of light-years but a decade on Earth. The Explorer Program was Earth’s next step toward finding new worlds. Manned exploration of exo-planets. And then it became humanity’s last hope.

The following stories are from the pov of one Explorer crewmember. (ongoing)