Sunday, February 19, 2017

Goodnight, Travel Well


Another weekend to another week with all sorts of stuff that happened, and not very much of it was interesting. Well, unless you enjoy hearing about people playing videogames, which I hear there's a market for that.

I've been working on edits and drafts of short stories for their rerelease. I'm going to keep my original books out on the market, but move them to free. Basically keep them like "garage days" versions of the stories that I'm releasing now. I've rewritten Heroine of a Thousand Faces and almost finished with Things that are Cold. They're retitled and are so restructured and remixed from the original version, it's almost like they're alternate universe versions of one another. Granted, the new versions of both stories are like, way better written. Or at least on the level of where I'm at now compared to where I was at when I finished the last draft. I also heard back from a couple magazines with the most positive rejection letters I've received so far. I'm invigorated to rock out some more work and touch up a couple others. I'm glad to finally have people tell me, "didn't quite make it, but please send more". That's been my #writerslife this week and the previous.

A deserted Chinese playground is the perfect metaphor for this game.
Videogamewise, I beat DOOM (2016) last night, and it was awesome as awesome can be. I finally started playing Resident Evil 6. Remember how I was playing through all the Resident Evil games last year? Well, I played all of them but 6, and it's been about the biggest disappointment so far.
It's mostly disappointing because it won't get the hell out of its own way. And I'm really not a big fan of the crossover sections where you have to essentially play the same level as a previous storyline, "but this time, two other people got their first." I don't know if that makes sense, but it sure is annoying to be cheated out of additional content because of game concept. In other Resident Evil related news, I just ordered VII from amazon. It should be here tomorrow. Yay president's day.

In the wake of finishing DOOM, and since I already played through (and loved) Wolfenstein: The New Order, I fired up the prequel, Old Blood. I played through the prologue of it, and it was like a less cool version of New Order. I'll give it some time. I found the Skyrim iron helmet. See. Look to the left. Just a little to the left. There it is! Aren't easter eggs neat?
Since I've been playing Bethesda published games, on top of playing Resident Evil, I've been looking to play The Evil Within for... over a year now. So that's on my horizon. I've been trying to chip away at my game catalog as best as I can, and I've thankfully been getting it done. Especially since I've finally been spending time with Final Fantasy XV, rolling with the homies on my bro trip.
"Isn't being rich awesome?!"
I've enjoyed the game while I've played it, but I know that it's going to be a big one. Last time I played a modern, highly anticipated, RPG, was Fallout 4, and I sunk 2 months of my life in game time into it. And all my stuff kept getting lost underneath my house... Damn you Fallout 4! Damn you! I've been a fan of Final Fantasy since the SNES days. Final Fantasy VI was the game that solidified my love of JRPG's and I've since made my way through the entire series from start to finish multiple times. I haven't sunk more than 4 or so hours into it, but I've enjoyed my time thoroughly playing the game. I just know that FFXV is going to be a time commitment before I'm done with it. Hence why I'm "getting sidetracked" by playing shorter games.

Fitting in time for media is a very serious affair. Much like I've been back to binging on Buffy, and have started Angel as well. The missus and I are groaning through the last season of Hell on Wheels. We have 3 episodes left and man, it started out as such a great western. Since I'm watching Buffy again, I finished season 3, so I'll be writing a recap soon. Since I'm watching each episode back to back, I'm on S4e4 of Buffy and S1e4 of Angel. I'd like to do my season 3 recap before I get to the end. As of now, I'm standing on season 3 being my favorite season. That could possibly change at any moment.

Alright, what games I'm playing, what I've been watching, and what work I've been doing. I think we're all wrapped up here. And this is where I leave you with the final final chapter of To Slice The Sky.

This is the epilogue, and was again well received as an ending on reddit. I'm pleased with the ending I landed on, but still feel like I could make it a little tweaking when I do my next pass over. So, with that, I leave you with the tail end of this serial novel that will turn itself into a traditional novel with a little bit of final buffing and stitching.



“-ck.” Decker peers into his empty pint glass, mugging displeasure. “Like you know how movies fade to black after the end credits? Like that, but with more feeling.” Chicken wire blisters chase along his arms past his shirtsleeves. The only remnant of his slagged nanoweave crisscrossed his skin. “Unpleasant, painful, feeling.”
“Another fill?”
Decker waves off Brawl, thinks better of it, then motions for another pint.
Wiping inside tumblers, Brawl’s arm creaks and clicks beneath his cheap flesh regrow. “When I asked yous guys how it all happened, I didn’t mean from the beginning.”
“You didn’t stop us.” Trip sloshes what’s left of his whisky and melted rocks. “Or bother to clarify.”
Brawl gently takes the glass from Trip’s hand, “I guess you could say you had my undivided attention.”
It was as empty as usual in The Canby. Brawl plonks down a fresh pint in front of Decker. He downs half of it in the first go, capping the drink with a refreshed, ‘aaah’. Playing on the stereo is that super catchy old song from the year the civil war broke out.
And you’re still the worst part about California,” haunts the silent air with twang-jangly guitar chords.
“I think that pretty much wraps everything up,” Trip slides off his stool. “Got people to see, places to go, an escape route to plan.”
Decker catches his reflection in the amber mirror of his glass. His eyes are dark inkwells in a sunken face. Their light gone, never to return. He lets out a burp then looks up at Brawl, into his glowing pupils.
“You’re gonna stay holed up here in the SFV, huh?”
“Where else would I go, The Pit?” Brawl laughs like a rusty dumptruck. “No one else was coming back to claim this dump. ‘sides, we still have the underground. Most folk seem to be pleased keeping out of sight for a while.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Fixer walks from behind the winerack with Manner in tow. Fixer outstretches his arms at the sight of the dudes. “Hey you two. Leaving so soon?”
Manner beams as she approaches the bar. The four of them exchange hugs, each holding on as tight as they can manage.
“I’m gonna miss you fragheads.” Fixer pats Decker on the back, “Mostly for buying me food. But secondly… awe, nevermind. I’m gonna get all teary eyed and ruin my reputation this early in the game.”
Decker’s pocket vibrates.
          You decide on a destination? -M
Trip shrugs, “I think the three cities are no goes.”
“Yeah, too many Vampires in Metro City.” Fixer’s eyes look far away, reading text across his HUD. “Yes, Manner, vampires are totally real. There’s vids on the net. Do your own research for once.”
“Vids that no one can remember seeing,” said Brawl.
“Don’t you start,” Fixer frowns hard at the bartender. “You’re supposed to be on my side, tiny. I told you, it’s a conspiracy cover up by the Universal Church.” He turns to Trip, “So, yeah, I went over the scans we did. That biochip is in there, alright. A regular piece of the ole brainstem.” Fixer shows his palms to a distressed Trip. “Don’t worry though, it’s the same as ours. Just like you made it. I wrote up a little primer on how to work it.”
“I’m just glad the lactation stopped. Never. Temping. Again.” Trip chops at the air in front of him.
Decker, Fixer, Brawl17 and Manner shoot awkward glances at Trip. His cheery faced demeanor droops. Together, they burst into laughter for what feels like the first time in forever.

Hugs were exchanged and goodbyes given, each packaged with promises of future visits.
As they’re one foot out the door, Trip pulls a prescription bottle from his pocket and places it in Manner’s hand. She looks at him with curious apprehension, eyeballing the capsules trapped in orange plastic. Trip sticks out his tongue and gives it a wiggle. Her already ruddy face blushes a deeper shade of red. She hugs Trip around his waist, lifting him off his feet. His gangly frame flails in a bear hug, but she keeps her grip around his middle before depositing him back on solid ground. She grabs his face and gives him a kiss on the cheek that turns it equally red.
Exiting the bar, the mid-morning sun mocks their sleep deprived eyes, burning warm and yellow through the partly cloudy skies. Rains last night, rain in tomorrow’s forecast, but today was clear. Deep blue skies all the way to the protective mountains surrounding SFV818. The kind of sky where even if hungover, beat to hell, and on the run, it would be hard having a bad day underneath.


Decker and Trip sit, in the hills off Mulholland Drive, hidden inside their high school smoke spot. Thousands had tagged their mark on the rocks walls over the decades, but to Trip and Decker, this place always felt like their own private hangout.
They stare off into the Pacific as it laps over the fallen ruins of downtown Los Angeles. Seagulls call from the windows of drowned office buildings. A cold January breeze keeps the air traffic lights visible and the smog transparent.
Trip buries himself deeper inside his ugly scaled long coat, shivering against the marine winds. He tightens and loosens the straps of his backpack, unable to find the perfect setting between comfort and weight distribution.
His possessions have shrunk a whole lot since fleeing Ocean City. All he has now are sundries and a few changes of clothes. He thinks about all the things he dreamed of owning when Roplaxive came to him with a job offer. He makes sound to push it from his mind.
“What’s up?” Decker stops dancing along the carved and spray painted cliff edge.
Trip waves him off, “Just, nah, it’s stupid.”
“When has that ever stopped either of us?” Decker poked about in the dirt with a knobby stick.
“Was just thinking. About stuff I used to want. And how all of that just doesn’t matter. Might not ever matter. Ya know?” Trip feels hot in his chest and ears. “Whatever, just a stupid thought. Not a big deal.”
Decker stews for a moment, “Like waking up from The American Dream.”
Trip didn’t buy that description, but couldn’t supply a better one.
He dwells for a moment too long about what changed inside him when he took that trait. Or if that was just an obvious physical moment of change, and really, he’d been a different person the whole time.
His mouth is dry. He blames it on the constant winds, or the nerves shooting through his body that’re becoming impossible to ignore. The feeling of a new adventure he never would have signed up for, waiting on the horizon.
Decker paces the length of their wedge of nostalgia, wielding his stick like a boy with a beer gut. He absently whacks at brush weeds, staring off into the oncoming sunset. He transforms the stick from sword to spyglass, looking down its length towards the horizon. Gusts of wind cause him to squint at the bright rainbow oil painting, flanked by desalination stations. His eyes seem sadder now, just the plain skag brown he was born with. Maybe they’re watery from grit being blown into them, but it looks like he’s about to cry at any moment.
“I think it’s time to go.” Decker chucks the stick into the ocean and dusts his hands on his pants. “Don’t you agree?”
“So, what’d we decide? Vancouver?”
“Better than The Confederacy.”
“Decker, you can’t malign an entire region based on a few truckers.” Trip tries to catch what Decker is looking at as the sun creeps towards the sea.
“Why not? Everyone else does it.”
Trip rolls his eyes, “And if everyone was jumping off a bridge, then—”
“—Everyone is jumping off bridges?!” Decker pretends to run in the direction of hypothetical bridge jumpers.
Trip ignores his friend being himself. “So, Vancouver sounds like the safest bet. Plenty of migrant work to blend in with.” Trip keeps his eyes on the horizon and fingers on his pack.
“Yeah, I guess so. It’s still in the Western State Coalition, but your uncle up there’s pretty cool.” Decker looks his best friend and fugitive in law in the face. With a, ‘let me get what I want’ smirk, he says “Maybe he can help us open a juice bar.”
Trip groans. “We’re not doing an idea that came to you in a hallucination.”
“Didn’t you say you were going to stop taking the fun out of things?” Decker crosses his arms, staring down Trip who responds with a roll of his eyes.
“It’s not polite to ask family for money after you haven’t seen them for fourteen years.”
Decker groans, “Ugh, I’m gonna hate Canada.”
“You voted for Montreal, originally.”

They leave behind the spot of their youth, and step onto the wet mountain path leading back to what’s left of civilization. The fires in the mountains are all put out, but the blackened patches remain, only slightly washed out by unexpected rains. The world holds its breath as the first hints of twilight blanket the clear skies, hiding any chance of starlight behind a layer of storm clouds.
Trip looks away from the coming storm to the final patch of light fading away behind them. “You know what?”
“No, what?” Decker calls from up the path.
Trip basks in the last bit of sunshine before catching up with his friend. “We could totally run an awesome juice bar.”
“Oh, the best bar, for sure,” Decker raps Trip on the arm with a wry grin. “But what are we gonna call it?”


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