004: Spike

(wow, this is getting repetitive…fourth installment, DUH)  Believe it or not, (c) 2011 Lydia DeWolf sharing is for preschoolers! 😉

Spike and I were friends, we said.  On one level, it was true—we did enjoy one another’s company from time to time.  But this state of affairs wasn’t brought on by any common interests or particular understanding… more like she scared the heck out of me but I was still in charge of her. 

            We were being friends at the moment, replaying a conversation we had often, and never got anywhere with it.

            “Regulations, regulations,” one of us would start.  This time it was me, fussing with the piles of paperwork.  “I swear, does HQ have to sign off on every breath I take?”

            “What kind of breath?”  She shuffled a stack into order.  “If you’re breathing in, I’ll need you to file this permission-to-intake-regulated-quantities-of-necessary-gaseous-molecules.  If you’re breathing out, the permission-to-expel-necessary-gaseous-molecules-which-have-been-processed-and-partially-depleted.  If you yawn, there’s a whole different set of permits.”

            I stuck out my tongue and made a face.

            “Whoops!” she said, holding up her hands.  “Where’s your authorization-form-for-extending-an-appendage-rudely?”

            “There’s another appendage I’m about ready to extend rudely!”  I shook my fist.  “Let’s hope Raleigh made enough of a scene to avoid any more mishaps for a while.  It kills a lot of trees somewhere!”

            She rolled her eyes and stapled a stack, popping some very contraband chewing gum.  I touched my hair absently, comparing it to her cropped blond head.  She kept hers short for convenience, and probably to scare recruits with the wild spikes.  Mine was growing, but slowly, and curled…my body, strangely, still relearning this function.  I shook my head, tucking strands behind my ears, and bent over the tabletop. 

            “I don’t really see why they do this to us,” she said suddenly, her voice muted and flat.

            I looked up, almost uncertain if I’d heard her.  “Sorry?”

            “Look at what they make us do.”  She gestured toward the reams of memos.  “Why the rules?  Why the forms and permits and official notices?  Why the curfews and uniforms?” 

            “We’re a military operation, Spike,” I said.

            “We’re technicians, for gosh sakes!”  Her eyes were bright, a strained smile of disbelief stretching the corners of her mouth.  “What war are we fighting with our missing negative signs and our derivatives and our rotating line segments?  Is there a reason we can’t do this crap at home?  In chairs?  With—with gravity?”

            “I’ve never seen you like this,” I began, calmly.

            “Maybe because I like it!  Maybe I like wearing the uniform, being a part of something, maybe I like playing the role!”

            “So you like playing the role, that’s no big deal.”  I smiled.  “You do it well, Raleigh was ready to fall over in fear.”

            The light went out of her face, and I didn’t know if it was a good thing—the ice crept back into her eyes. 

            “We’re an expeditionary force,” I continued.  “I don’t even give the orders on this metal box.  We just do what they tell us to.  We’re not much more to them than our vectors.  They make us do…all of this,” I waved my hand toward the table, toward our uniforms, “because they want us to be safe.  We don’t know what’s out there…and we don’t know if it’ll like us if we find it.”

            “Extraterrestrials are a myth, Zee.”  She shook her head at me.

            I half-grinned.  “I’m not an alarmist, and I’m not talking about E.T.  You know what I mean…by the time we find them, if we do…they may no longer be part of us, you know?”

            A red light blinked on behind me, telling us Deck 4A was closing for the set of hours arbitrarily deemed the “night shift.”  It reflected in her eyes, two gleaming spots that turned her irises purple. 

            “They’ll be part of us,” she said, her words barely above a whisper.  “They’ll still want us.”

            I heard it hovering, unsaid, in her throat.  In the husky tones, “He’ll still want me.”

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003: Dreamschool

(The third installment… this is where the merged idea starts to come in)  Needless to say, (c) 2011 Lydia DeWolf keep your hands to yourself, children! 😉

Most kids were selected for Academia Oneira after a rigorous testing process.  They competed with each other, with their teachers.  With nonsense, most often.

Dreamschool was a misleading name.  It wasn’t housed in lofty, pleasant buildings, among misted mountaintops or along a majestic coastline.  It was located on land flatter than the prairie, fit only for growing miles and miles of cotton.  The most dreamlike quality it had was the way the tufts of fiber would break free during harvesting and collect like warm-weather snow along the roadways.  To go there was to go back in time, to somewhere tractors still rusted and petrol-station owners used a sideways Z letter when they needed an N in their signs.

It looked old, too, built all of brick and wonderfully bland.  It looked as if Baptists had built it, and they probably had.  Tame and sensible, valuing what went on inside rather than outside, with very little ornamentation.

There were six or seven main halls filled with classrooms and simulators, most with impressive snow-white columns and still unfitted with gutters to catch the rain.  Inside, they’d been changed when Dreamschool’s founders moved in.  Gone were the drop-tile ceilings and thin gray carpeting the original builders would have installed.  Tall doors of dark-stained wood matching floors took their place.

Like the students’ minds, the bones of the structures were solid and ordinary, but consistency was by no means a virtue.

Since Dreamschool served as a military base as well, the dorms and barracks were one and the same, at one end of the sprawling green campus, built of cinderblock against the seasonal storms.  Tornadoes had touched down enough times over the 800 years the place had existed that these were state-of-the-art.  Invincible.  Inside, they were polished white and pristine.  They were inspected twice a day, and brutally.

The only truly modern-looking part of the school was the testing and sciences building—or compound.  It resembled a large, complex molecule, made of shining acrylic bubbles and chrome jointing, connected by encased walkways, sealed against the outside by airlocks.  They kept it normalized, they kept it monitored.  As you walked the halls, the soft voice of “Janis” reported the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and gaseous components of the air.

Everyone loved Janis, whoever she was.  We would answer her when her automated messages came across the speakers, as if she were our old friend and colleague.

“The time is 20:30pm,” she would inform us, gently.

“You don’t say!” we’d reply in the gap.  “I don’t suppose you’d happen to know the temperature?”

“The temperature is exactly 22 degrees Cels—”  For as long as anyone could remember, there had been a skip in the temperature report, a scratch from the original recordings.

“Thanks, old girl, you’re a brick!” someone would say.

Dreamschool’s motto was Logica est ferramenta: Logic is a strong instrument.  We used to translate it, “Logic is a tool,” which was probably more in line with the level of respect given to consistency and syllogism.  At Dreamschool, if you could make anything make sense, you were right.

I was never tested to enroll.  They never fed me the pictures and words and asked me for whatever story I could cobble together from them.  I was born into it, bred for it.  My father ran the place.  I was the medium.

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002: Complicated

(The second installment of a new sci-fi venture I’m writing in bits)  As always, (c) 2011 Lydia DeWolf don’t you even THINK about it… 😉

Sector 1B Roxanne; on board the USSC Alabama; Left Wing Lounge.

 

I cradled a plastic bag of liquid coffee between my hands, staring dazedly at reruns of rugby championships. Foxe, a familiar voiceover artist, narrated the games, drawing parallels between teams of the distant past and teams of the even-more-distant past. Nobody really cared about the old sports now… we just watched them when doped-up on exhaust or on leave. Fast-forwarded, the games became a kind of sitcom, only the players talked with their bodies. The Kiwi All-Blacks scored again. I squirted a marble-sized blob of coffee from the corner of the bag and nudged it toward my mouth.

            Jules’s voice entered the room curses-first as he crawled along the ceiling. “Oh, of course, your role is just as important, they say! Every man does his duty! Every man a hero! Every man equal! But as Orwell said, some are just more equal than others. We’re not equal enough to get the pulls in our quarters, don’t be ridiculous, HQ!”

            “What are you ranting about now?” I asked him, without annoyance.

            “Mindless, history-burners,” he grumbled on. “Probably couldn’t tell you who Orwell was if their lives depended on it. But of course, we can calculate our projective to seven decimal places with our brains, so we must be better than you!” He climbed hand-over-hand down the wall, over-steering himself and colliding with a pole that connected “floor” to hypothetical “ceiling.”

            I squeezed a glob of coffee toward him and he moved to intercept it, only to have the bubble splinter over his nose. “Aw, Chief,” he griped, “you did that on purpose!”

            “Nothing of the kind, monseigneur.” I looked back to the screen and the little men doing their haka just before the start of an accelerated game against the Springboks. Jules clawed into the bolted-down couch and buckled himself in.

            “I tell you what I’m going to do,” he announced. “I’ll get Wardrobe to stitch magnets into my pants. Then I’ll just sit down on a wall and scooch around decks 1 and 2 on my bum.”

            I smiled but didn’t take my eyes from the sports. He fell silent for awhile… then invariably began to hum his little song.

            “What are the words?” I asked, after a long pause.

            He hesitated. “Well, it’s French.”

            “You and your dead languages,” I needled, elbowing him playfully. “So translate, monseigneur!”

            He sighed, and after a few minutes, began to sing softly. “Arise, children of your country… The day of glory has arrived.”

            Little men in black uniforms beat their chests and shouted inaudibly on screen.

            “Against us, tyranny’s bloody banner is hoisted….”

            I saw his story in the words, knew what I was doing to him. He whispered the words faintly, without breath enough.

            A tiny woman, arms full, scurrying from bunker to bunker, feet bare against shoots of grass turned to needles by ice. Everywhere she went, a path of red that turned quickly to black in the cold.

            “Do you hear, in the countryside, the howling of those ferocious soldiers? Into your arms they come, to slit the throats of your sons and friends….”

            Every knock turned away. Inside the bunkers, they turned to each other and shrugged their slender shoulders. “The wind, the wind,” they whispered. “How it roars. How curious.” The tiny woman shrouded her baby tighter against its blight.

            “To arms, citizens, form your ranks! We march, we march! Let impure blood water our fields….”

            And every citizen that sweareth not to the honor of the Coalition, be they shut from the warmth of comradeship. In four days’ time, shalt come upon the land the ice terror. A simple oath ’twill be to enter the bunkers. Swear it, else you shall surely die.

            “Everyone is a soldier to combat you. If they fall, our young heroes, the earth will produce new ones, ready to fight against you….”

            She slid down a few steps to an entrance to a bunker. “Swear it, or you shall surely die,” said the triggered robotic voice. She pushed her son against the portal to warmth, sealed against the chemical blast of ice.

            “Sacred love of the Fatherland–“

            She hissed the oath into the microphone, through cracked and swollen, blackened lips.

            “Lead, support our avenging arms. Liberty, cherished liberty, a lie to your defenders. Forsake! Forsake! Let impure blood water our fields.”

            “That’s not how it goes,” I broke in, turning from the image of the small green field. My eyes were seeing the ice crystals of the story.

            Jules won’t meet my gaze. “You are right. That is not how it goes.”

            “What people would say such things?” I asked. “What people would butcher their citizens with artificial winters and force them to revoke their rights for warmth? What people would succumb to that? They should have stood till they froze. What people would swear it?”

            He fingered the frayed end of his seatbelt and breathed evenly, through his nose, for a moment. “It’s complicated,” he answered at last.

            A series of bolts whistled pneumatically out of slots and a door opened on the rigid blue body of a woman. A uniformed man stooped and picked up the bundle pressed against the threshold. Turning, he closed the door on the cold and descended to the warmth of the bunker. 

 

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001: Introduction

Pippin and I started this thing last summer, a writing challenge.  There were a hundred themes, and we would write 2 pages or so, something short, for each one.  We would read and critique each others’ work.  It actually was neat to write again, things that didn’t require a mega attention span, things that didn’t require commitment.  I could sit down and think about a one-word prompt, and take it wherever I wanted.  I played around a lot with different styles, since I enjoy doing that…  And I discovered that I enjoy writing shorter stories!  I may share some of the few themes we did before we got busy later too, but I wanted to start with these.

This was the first theme and the first segment I wrote, although I’d had the scene floating around in my mind for a while.  But lately, as I’ve revisited the two themes I wrote around this story, I’ve really loved the feel.  I adore science fiction, if you didn’t know already… and I wanted to try my hand someday.  

This didn’t really get off the ground though, until I took a separate idea, also science-fiction-y or at least futuristic, that had come directly from a dream I had.  I’d been the main charrie in the dream, but had certainly embellished it and thought it through more thoroughly after waking up, haha.  I didn’t realize until now how well they fit together… 

So anyways, the next couple of posts will be bringing you up to date with what I’ve already written, and then I’ll post the next bits as I get them done.  No promises, I get tired and bored and I can only write when I’m in the “feel” of the book.  I can’t really explain that, never have been able to, so I won’t try now.  Of course, all writings on my blog (c) 2011 Lydia DeWolf, hands off me buckoes!  Without further ado…

 

001: Introduction 

 

Sector 4A Bartholomew; on board the USSC Alabama; Vector Computation Station 1 

 

            All was quiet on the 4A deck. A few sniffles sounded, mainly newbies still recovering from initial space-sickness. I tucked my hair behind one ear and bent over some scratch paper. Jules started humming “La Marseillaise” under his breath.

            Spike honed in on one mathematical argument. “Aw, crap, guys, seriously!” she groaned. 

            I slid out of my chair and walked over, skirting wheeled station chairs. Scanning the highlighted text on her eScron monitor, I reached to my belt and flicked a switch. Instantly, a yellow light bathed the 4A deck, making everyone look as if they’d suddenly contracted jaundice. Crewmembers bolted from their seats and held their hands where I could see them. New recruits fumbled to copy their motions, reeling in the unfamiliar pull of gravity.

            “Nothing to be alarmed about,” I said clearly, “at least not this time around.  We go through this at least once every new batch.  Just don’t change a thing in your vectors and for gosh sakes, don’t bump the simulators.”  I leaned over, the only movement in a group of statues, and scrolled through the screen with one fingertip.  “Who ran Test Set 3.8?”

              Nobody owned the scratch.

             “Permission to introduce the freshies to space ice?” Spike growled, her cold blue stare sliding from face to nervous face. Sometimes I wondered if she enjoyed her role a little too much….

            Someone swallowed loudly in the silence. “Here, ma’am.”

            I turned to the recruit. “Name, rank, condition, all that jazz.”

            “Raleigh, engineer third class,” he warbled, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Division four-ought-seven, scared stiff, ma’am!” He ventured a grin and a few of his divisionmates chuckled.

            “You should be!” I snapped, cutting through the sound. “You scrambled your signs.  We’ve got an extra negative swimming around out there in Sets 3.9 through 4.5!  Company, rework!  Raleigh, follow me.”

            “Aw, shucks,” he groused, slinking after my heels as the others seated themselves and began to check and recheck.  I led him around to the observation dock and placed him with his back to the wall of windows.  Nothing like a sheet of very clean acrylic at your back with only ice cold space beyond to make you feel at ease. 

            “Raleigh, this is serious.  You get that, right?”

             “Sure, Chief.”  He accidentally leaned against the cold glass and started forward an inch or two in surprise. 

            “No, I don’t think you do. Did you care about your grades in school?” I asked him.

            “Well, sure, Chief, that’s why I’m here.”

            “Explain why you’re still an engineer third class after six years’ service?”

            The line of his neck hardened, but his expression remained submissive, if a little sleepy. “What I did just now, Chief. Losing track of stuff.” He tried a rueful laugh. “Kinda sucks, you know? One stray mark and bang, my record’s lost another point.”

            “Your record. So you worried about your grades and now you worry about your record, and holding onto enough points to make the next promotion.”

            He smiled and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Sounds about right, ma’am.”

            “Idiot. Back in elementary school, a sign error will cost you half a percent. Here, it’ll cost eight guys their bloody lives!”

            His face became a mask, like hardened wax. He swallowed once and licked his lips.

            “No one’s ever told you that, huh, Raleigh?  Well then, time to wake up.  You ain’t in simulator school no more.  Out here, you mistake your epsilon for a three, and you can explain to a mother why her boy isn’t coming home.  Would you ever play with someone else’s life?”

            “No, ma’am,” he whispered.

            “Then don’t play with your numbers.  That clear?”  I laid a hand on his shoulder. 

            “Yes, ma’am.”

            “Good.  Now run along.  Rework 3.8.  Remember, my crew doesn’t make mistakes.”  I sent him an encouraging smile and let him lead the way back to 4A. 

            All of my seasoned troopers looked up and stared as if it were the first offense in the history of man as Raleigh made his way back to his seat.  I smirked.

            “Aw, come on, Chief, no blood?” Spike whined.

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Got a Ways to Go / But This Is Still The Place / That We All Call…

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Home means:

  1. Reading a lot of books: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card; Sacred Influence by somebody (mind-blowing…everyone should read it, trust me it’s relevant); Psmith in the City by PG Wodehouse; Warranted Christian Belief by Plantinga; The Birth Order Book by Leman (also should be read by everyone); and three or four manga….
  2. Cooking a lot of stuff with sugar… and sadly, I’m no fan of sugar anymore!  College cured me I guess…actually I blame my track-running fitness-enthusiast (still wonderful) roomie.  Water water all around and not a drop to drink… It makes my mother antsy for me not to want all of the Christmas food!  Just can’t help it!
  3. Playing a lot of cards… mainly Canasta!!  And Skip-Bo and Phase 10 and maybe some Euchre. We’re a card-playing family.
  4. Speaking a lot of languages–often during the card-playing!  Or Karte spielen… or jugando… Mi hermano y yo speak Spanish, and I speak German, and we all speak some strange version of English that mainly consists of Nacho Libre quotes… “I forgeeeve you….”  It’s kind of awesome.
  5. My dog likes me best.  But he needs a bath.  This is pretty much an eternal condition–when he smells nice he’s a hermit.  When he wants to sit on your lap all day he smells like he rolled in a dead thing and then played with a skunk.  I may exaggerating.  Just a little.
  6. Lists are awesome.  Oh wait…

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It Won’t Be Long Before We’ll All Be There With….

Phew, I’m tired…. One meeting from you know where to go through… and then the laaaast final of my first semester!  And it’s speech–no biggie!

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It snowed yesterday early in the morning.  It was aaaamazing!  I was TRYING to sleep in because I had absolutely nothing to do and I’ve been staying up too late again… and I got a text from [one of] my wonderful roommate[s]!  Cracked open the blinds and there it was!  Looked like a blizzard, it looked great!  Till I thought of the driving I’d be doing the next afternoon–that is, this afternoon.  

But lo and behold it all melted way before noon!  In fact, if you’d actually SUCCEEDED in sleeping in, unlike me, you probably wouldn’t have known at all!  

Lucky thing I bounded out of bed, bounded into rain boots (for the first time, I’ve resisted resorting to them when I have my hikers… but it was wet.  And I planned on trekking) and ran out the door with my camera.  Sketchily, I went behind the buildings to the edge of campus where there are a lot of trees.  Ahhh it was pretty!

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I took some pictures while feeling very self-conscious… I don’t like to photograph in public, you know? I tell myself when I finally get the money for a more “artsy-serious-photographer” looking camera, I’ll have the courage.  But we’ll see. 

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Then I ran back through the parking lot and got inside and made hot tea to un-frost-bite my shutter button finger.

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Okay maybe I’m exaggerating.

But snow puts me in a faaabulous mood. 🙂

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Today Was Brought To You By The Letter 8 and the Number Turquoise

>.<  Day Two of Finals is complete.  *the machine wiiiinds down, and conks out*  Actually it was no biggie, just German final today, and that was fun!!  I’m going to miss that class… and the fact that Luka has been calling the girl next to me “Marge” all semester and just today we told him her name is really Megan!  Bwahaha!  

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I have a lot of ideas for this blog… Of what I’d like it to be.  Or maybe it could be.  If I could own up to the world about some of my interests and things that I like and appreciate.  Sometimes I think I box myself into my own little…box…yeah…  But anyways.  Maybe, maybe not, new stuff may appear here, orrrrr it might not!  

I wrote a couple songs last night and now I realllllly miss my guitar!  A lot a lot.  Only two days and then I’m home!

And my Honors paper is actually coming along, thankyouverymuch.  I’m actually supposed to be working on that right now… Ha.  

Pretty much I’m too tired… I was up till 2 last night talking to my cowboy on the phone and you know, I can’t sleep in however much I try, so I’m going to need a little extra rest tonight!  

It should snow.  It neeeeds to snow.  It would be lovely if it would snow.  *hinthinthinthint*  

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Also.

Bagels are awesome.

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Almost One-Eighth of the Way Done

It’s finals week….  Actually I’m enjoying it!  I’m relaxed, I have no classes, no homework, just studying and some exams…  Now let’s all collectively roll our eyes, heave a sigh, and say, “FRESHMAN, just you waaaait!”  

I know, I know… so sue me.  If it makes you feel any better, I’m worried about my final Honors paper.  The prompt is “What is Wisdom?”  Yeah, riiiight.  I have an outline…and it’s due on Wednesday.  

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I wouldn’t mind if it would decide to snow, though.  I mean, it’s like zero zero zero degrees outside right now and raining and misting and BLAH!  And windy, forgot the wind.  Trust me, when you’re out in it you can’t forget it!  

I’m pretty tired…and itching to take pictures.  I tell ya, my burning desire for a DSLR grows daily…  Or even just my Minolta, which I left at home at Thanksgiving… Or my guitar.  I’d like my guitar.  

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I promise this is not a complainy post!  I’ll be home in only three days!  With waaay too much time on my hands!  And it’s almost Christmas.  And I need a job.  Hmmmm.  

I started writing again, too.  Back at Thanksgiving.  We’ll see what comes of that, I may share some of that on here too…but only very inconsistently of course!  

I have a short story bouncing around in my head, but I don’t know if I want to write it as a poem or prose, or if I want to write it at all.  It’s about a plane. 

Planes are awesome.  I’m going to miss my Bell helo that comes around here every day…and the Pipers, I gotta figure out where those guys are taking off from!  Back to plane-watching the Cessnas and Robinsons back home, though, looking forward to that…  

Observation: If you lose/get rid of/eliminate/whatever something that you really really really need…a lot of teeny tiny random needs take its place.  Before, being cold or being “poor” (haha…more like just being too practical to buy myself anything special), being tired or being stressed or not being good enough at what I do…wouldn’t have bothered me quite as much as it does now.  Interesting.  

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Daily Drawing

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In Extremis

Let’s take a break and be serious here for a minute.

I have a bone to pick with life.  It goes like this.

I don’t want time to ever be something I’m just trying to pass.  Get it?  Like, I’m tired of thinking, “Only X more hours and today is OVER.”  Those X hours have been WASTED.  Lost.  Uncool, dudes.

I have kinda made a promise to myself that if I find myself in that situation, I’ll change it.  Then comes college.  To be honest, I’m spending a lot of time just trying to get through X hours faster.  Trying to make it to such and such a break.  And it’s already November?  I mean really!  Something is wrong with that picture.

So I’m trying to figure out how to change it.  Trying to figure out if it’s my mindset…my activities…something I AM doing or something I’m NOT doing and should… in order to fix this funk.  Life is way. too. short.  For reals.

If I figure out the magic answer, I’ll let you know.  And no, I’m not quitting college, growing my hair out, and living like a gypsy with a guitar.  Well yes about the hair part.  But no to the other ones.  It’s just bothering me how much I’m thinking, “I just have to get through this semester.”  I don’t want to have to “get through” anything, ever…

Anyways.  This is also to say, I…………am getting back into photography.  Slowly.  Gonna get me a tripod again, and start taking pictures again instead of leaving the ideas stuck in my head.  And this also means that as I start my second Flickr account… I’m going to unveil my first.  It’s been long enough, I’m emotionally detached enough to let anyone see it now.  Keep in mind, this was the first time I had ever done anything like this, the first time I’d actually used art to express myself, and it was heady and it was exciting.  And it put me in strange moods.  It was like…working out knots in muscles that had been there for so many years.  I revisited a lot of bad memories, and that’s probably why the pictures tend to be a bit depressing at times.  But it was good for me, it was necessary, it gave me the zoned feeling I used to get when I’d finish a chapter.

And I’m okay with that now.  So here’s my first flickr and here’s my second, where you’ll find me now.

And that’s pretty awesome.

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