Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bad Cop

(Here is another flash-fiction piece inspired by Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge that he puts up every friday. This week's is here. Another random roll one. I rolled up Bad Cop and Assassin for The Who, Trailer Park for The Where, and I won't ruin the surprise about The Uh-Oh. I will note there is quite a bit of profanity so you are warned.)

Bad Cop

The note was slipped through the bottom gap of the cheap hotel door.

He poured another couple fingers from a brown-bagged bottle. The amber liquid sloshed into the glass.

He capped the bottle and stood.

The news played on the television in silence.

He walked over and picked up the note. On it was a number and a name scrawled in pen. He brought it over to the desk and set it in the ashtray. He took a drink from his glass and shook out a cigarette. He lit it, then set the note on fire.

He breathed out smoke and took another drink.

The walls were so thin he could hear the couple next door, grunts and groans. Couple? More like perp and night-walker in this type of joint, he mused to himself. He took another drag and finished the glass.

His phone buzzed on the desk. It was his partner. He picked it up. “You know I’m off tonight,” he said.

“Yeah, Jack, I know. It’s why I called. Why don’t we get together tonight? Grab a beer. We ain’t done that in awhile.”

Jack hesitated. “Can’t,” he grunted. “Got plans.”

“Since when in the hell do you got plans? You said yourself it’s your night off. C’mon man.”

“No, Derek. Like I said, I got plans. Maybe another time.”

“Maybe another time,” Derek’s voice sounded wooden, cold.

“Tell Theresa I say hi,” Jack said.

“I know what you do, Jack.”

There was a moment of silence. “No, you don’t.”

“You need to stop. Just, come on over and we’ll talk about it.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“You can get out, Jack. Let me help. You don’t have to do this.”

“You don’t got a fucking clue, Derek. You don’t know shit. Mind your own goddamn business.” Jack ended the call and hurled the phone across the room.

He took a swig from the bottle and stubbed out the cigarette. Time to work. He grabbed a different phone from the desk and punched in the number from the note.

Someone answered but didn’t say anything.

“I’m here to take out the trash,” Jack said. “You know that’s the stupidest fucking thing to have me say, right?”

A chuckle came back at him. “We play the game, man, you know that. The bag’s at Garden Acres,  lucky number 7.”

“You serious? Sending me to a fucking trailer park?”

“Payment will be in the room when you get back, as always.”

He grabbed his badge and gun from the desk. He left the hotel and brought the bottle with him.

Garden Acres sat at the end of dirt road, a sprawl of filthy trailers and filthier families.

Jack parked back up the road a ways and sat in his car, thinking. He took a swig from the bottle. HIs phone rang and he recognized the number. He shook his head and answered it.

“Derek, how the fuck did you get this number?”

“You leave it in your coat and you leave your coat on the chair. I found it and took down the number.”

“You went through my pockets. Why?”

“Because I’m fucking worried about you, Jack, can’t you see that? Ever since Jeannie died, things are different. You’re different. Now you’re doing this shit. Let me help-”
“You can’t help me,” Jack said, then took a deep breath. Despite the booze, he didn’t want to be angry with Derek. They’d been through rough shit together and had been friends for almost as long as he could remember. He tried to moderate his tone of voice. “Listen, Derek. You’ve been my partner and friend for who knows how long so right now, you have to trust me. You have to trust me on this, Derek. You don’t know what’s going on and I can’t tell you. All I can say is this is something I have to do. Trust me, this one last time. Can you do that?”

Jack heard a sigh on the phone, then Derek’s voice. “Yeah, I can do that. Promise me we’ll grab a beer tomorrow? Talk about the good old days, like old times?”

Jack chuckled. “Shit, you know there weren’t any good old days, but yeah, we’ll go to the bar tomorrow.” He hung up and took another swig. He grabbed the silencer off the passenger seat and put it into a pocket.

He got out of the car, patting his gun holstered on his right and slipping his badge in his coat pocket. He closed the door and listened to the forest around him, silent in the night. He walked up the road towards the park.

The dirt road led into the park with trailers on either side. This late, most were dark but a few had lights inside. Nobody was outside. He thought he heard a car door open and shut.

He walked through the park like he was on business, which, he supposed, was true. 1,2,3,4...Numbers on little wooden signs told him he was getting closer. He passed a trailer that had a picnic table out front and a little tricycle in the tiny dirt yard. Thankfully that was number 6.

No families, that had been his number one rule. No families.

Number seven looked worse than most, the windows broken with cardboard covering them, a screen door with no screen banging in the wind, a variety of trash out front, plastic and paper bags, pieces of metal.

Jack walked up the metal steps and tapped at the door.

“Whose there?” A voice called, shaky and high.

“Police, open up James, just want to ask you a few questions.”

He heard frantic movement.

“Just a minute,” called James.

Jack grabbed his badge.

James opened the door a smidge and peered out. His face looked gaunt and his eyes red.

Jack showed his badge. “I’d like to come in and ask you a few questions, that’s all.”

“What’s this about?”

Jack threw his shoulder into the door with all his weight.

The door flew open and James staggered back.

Jack closed the door, calmly.

“What the fuck, man?” James cried out, rubbing his shoulder. “You can’t do that.”

“Like I said, I need to ask you a few questions.”

“It ain’t right,” James said. “I got rights, ya can’t barge in like that, you fuckin’ hurt me.”

“What you got is drugs, in your body on these premises so I can do whatever the hell I like, James, and you’re not going to do a damn thing about it,” Jack said, taking a seat on the arm of a faded yellow couch. “Or should I call in some backup, maybe a couple dogs? You want that, James?”

James swallowed and shook his head. “What do you wanna know?”

“First, I’d like a glass of water.”

James walked into the kitchen with his head down, grumbling to himself. He grabbed a half-clean glass from the counter and turned on the faucet. “What is this even about, man? I don’t know anything.”

Jack took his gun and silencer out. He screwed the silencer on.

James turned and his eyes widened. He looked tense, ready to run.

Jack didn’t want that. “Don’t worry, bud, this is only if you refuse to answer my questions. You tell me the truth and you tell me quick and you got nothing to worry about. Just get me that glass of water.”

James filled the glass and brought it over.

Jack went to take it and shot James in the head. The glass fell, splashing water onto the brown rug.

The body dropped like a sack of potatoes onto the floor.

Jack took a moment to breath.

The door opened and Derek stepped in, gun in hand.

They both raised their guns but neither fired.

Derek kicked the door closed behind him. He glanced at the body on the floor.

“What the fuck are you doing here, Derek?”

“I could ask you the same question, Jack.” Derek shook his head. “I can’t fucking believe it.”

“Derek, get the hell out of here.”

“No way, you fuckin asshole. I gave you a chance. Now, you’re under arrest. Drop the gun and put your hands in the air.”

“Oh shove it, Derek. You followed me, didn’t you? Of course you did. You always wanted to be the hero, didn’t you? Here’s the truth, there aren’t any fucking heroes.”

“I’m not going to say it again, Jack. Drop the gun. You’re under arrest.”

“Don’t do this, Derek. I can’t go to jail. You don’t understand.”

“Put the gun down or I will shoot you.”

Jack took a slow breath. “Okay, Derek, okay,” he said. He fired.

His partner’s head jerked back and his corpse crumpled to the floor.

Jack closed his eyes and took deep breaths. He remembered why he was doing this. It had to be done. It had to be. He unscrewed the silencer and put it in his pocket. He put the gun in his holster. He looked out the windows but there seemed little to no activity out in the trailer park.

He walked out and back to his car, telling himself it was worth it. It was. He got in his car and drove away, passing Derek’s car farther back up the road. He didn’t look at it.

He grabbed the bottle but didn’t drink. After a moment, he put it back. He didn’t want to be drunk. He stopped at a gas station and grabbed a coffee. He finished it by the time he got back to the hotel. He got out and walked up to his room. It would be worth it. It always was.

He slid his key into the lock and opened the door. He walked in and she was standing by the bed.

“Jeannie,” he said, unable to breath every time he saw her.

They embraced and he could forget about everything he’d done, the people he’d murdered, his partner, all of it. He could forget it when he was with her. She made it worth it.

It was worth it. Always.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Liebster Award

Apparently I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by AJ Bauer who has her own blog. She nominated me because she really enjoyed the flash fiction piece "Griefstruck God"  Now, after a little bit of research this award seems more like bloggers patting each other on the back than any actual award, a little thing to make new bloggers feel good, but even if so, who cares? If it works, if it generates a good blog post, if it generates new subscribers, what's the harm? Therefore, I thank AJ Bauer for her nomination. It also forced me to find new writing blogs to nominate on my own, discovering new authors with interesting sites.

So here it is, the rules as AJ Bauer puts them: The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers that was specifically created to highlight new blogs with less than 200 members (but I've also read it can be as high as less than 3,000 members, so pick your poison). If you are nominated, the rules are pretty simple and they are as follows:

  • Link back to the blog that nominated you.
  • Answer that questions they set for the blogs they nominated.
  • Nominate 10 blogs of your own, and be sure to let them know with a link to your post.
  • Ask 10 questions for the blogs you nominated in your post.

Onto her questions:

1) What is your favorite flash fiction that you have written?

This is a tough one and I'm going to have to pick two. The first is a story generated from an awesome website called theyfightcrime.org. It's about a werewolf from another world partnered with a tough lesbian lawyer who, you guessed it, fight crime, simply titled "THEY FIGHT CRIME." The second is a post-apocalyptic tale about a knight and his sword struggling to find the fabled Garden of Eden and what happens when he finally does, called "The Garden."

2)If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The power to not get distracted while writing. Sure seems like a superpower to me...

3) What is the number one item on your bucket list?

Travel to Europe.  

4) List 5 of your favorite books

1. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
2. Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
4. Seize the Night by Dean Koontz
5. The Gunslinger by Stephen King

5) Who has inspired you most for your writing?

Probably Dean Koontz? I simply devoured his writing when I was younger and couldn't get enough. I loved the stories and the characters, especially the villains, and the surreal sometimes crazy things in his novels. I've moved on from his work for the most part, but his writing really resonated with me years ago.

6) What made you decide to start a blog?

I figured if I wanted to get serious about writing, I needed motivation to actually write, so I started one in college. I figured having to put content out there where somebody would read it would instigate me into writing more. It didn't work out that way, not at first, but slowly it's grown better and better. I've also learned it's a way to grow an audience, so I suppose that's another part of it. It's nice to have a place to write random fiction and get a few comments on it and it's also nice to have a place to vent, to write about life and shit like that, a journal of sorts. 

7) What is the best piece of advice you have ever read or received about writing?

Best advice on there? Finish your shit. 

8) What do you hope to accomplish in the year 2014 (writing or otherwise)?

Much more flash fiction, hopefully one piece a week at least. There's three or four short stories in my head and on my computer in various stages of completion that I would like to finish. There's an old novel that needs finishing and editing before I hope to turn it into a serial. I'd like to continue the story about the werewolf and the lawyer and maybe turn that into a fun little serial that I continue on my blog every month or so. There's numerous other things. I hope to be successful in grad school, hope to have enough time to be with those I care about. Lots of things in 2014. 

9) What is your favorite and least favorite book to film adaption?

Favorite: No Country For Old Men. Truly brilliant film from an amazing novel.

Least: World War Z. It is a zombie action movie that had nothing to do with the great novel by Max Brooks. Max Brooks told a story in a unique and awesome way. Movie was pure generic action flick. Blah. There could be others that are worse but that's the one I can think of off the top of my head.

10) List 5 of your favorite characters (books, movies, or otherwise)

1. Roland Deschain, The Gunslinger.
2. The Judge, from Blood Meridian
3. Too many characters to name from The Wheel of Time series
4. Omar from The Wire
5. Al Swearengen from Deadwood

Now, onto the blogs I've nominated. I had to go searching for up and coming blogs, for which I'm glad. It's nice to discover new authors/bloggers and force myself to interact with them, something I'm not good at. I chose them mostly for the great flash fiction they've written, but also because I've found their other posts to be interesting as well. Some have only just started but their flash fiction post was great, and there's one that's not even a writing blog but it's here anyways, because it's about learning and growing as a person. Here they are:

Imagine That - Fantasies from a corner booth
On The Write Track

And here are my questions:

1. Why blog in the first place?
2. Write a haiku, right here, right now.
3. What is your haiku about and why?
4. Who inspires you?
5. What was the last book you read and why did you read it?
6. Who is your favorite poet? (if you don't have one, discover one!)
7. What's the best blog that you follow and really enjoy reading?
8. What makes a good blogger and a bad one?
9. What's your favorite novel/movie/tv show?
10. What was your latest 'finished' creative endeavor? What did you learn after completing it?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fixing Things

As I previously noted, our television broke due to unknown but theorized problems. Regardless, replacing it would have cost almost a thousand dollars and getting it repaired would have been a couple hundred at least.

So my girlfriend did some research and pushed me to do some research as well. We found a nice website at shopjimmy.com which is all about providing hardware to fix televisions and you can just put in the information about your tv and see all the parts that it uses. After watching some videos, and determining that it was most likely the motherboard that needed replacing, I bought a new one and had it shipped. I unscrewed the back of the television, carefully unplugged the wires from the motherboard and unscrewed the board from the tv. I took the new one, screwed it in and plugged all the wires in. I screwed the back of the tv back on and WALA! It works, good as new or almost.

It's actually pretty cool, if you think about it. It was a learning experience. We tend to interact with all these technological gadgets without any idea of the way they work or what's even inside of them, like magical artifacts. Because they are complex and we don't know how they work, when they break, we think we have to get a whole new one, or hire specialists to fix it. But these products aren't that special, they aren't magical joojoo. They are bits and pieces made by humans that work together to make the machine function. Yeah I don't understand a tenth of what goes on in the insides of the television, but after opening it up, I know there's numerous circuit boards and their functions. The power supply board provides power to the motherboard and a secondary panel, the motherboard handles the inputs, the actual functioning of transmitting digital images...or something like that.

I don't know, and i won't ever know how everything works, but I know if there's a problem with one of the circuit boards, I can replace it. It's unhooking wires and using a screwdriver, and using a soldering gun if you're really serious. The point is there's ways to fix everything, whatever it is, and there's limitless information on the internet to assist and aid you in whatever repair job you are trying to do. Use that information. Use the collective conscious of all the internet users out there. Whatever the problem you are having is, there is undoubtably someone else who has had the same problem and has posted about it on the internet, and most likely there have been others who know how to fix shit answering questions and helping out.

I'm no engineer and I've never replaced a motherboard before, but I did it a week ago and it was fairly simple. It feels good to do something yourself, to learn about something, understand how it functions and then be able to fix it because of that understanding.

Obviously, there are things you simply can't fix but there are also many things you can. I'd never heard of someone replacing the motherboard of their television before this, but now I know it's possible. Now I know how to keep a tv working for much longer while spending less than a hundred bucks on parts. That's a useful thing to know!

And there's way more out there. The internet is full of how-to's and do-it-yourself repair jobs. There's thousands of people out there who know alot of cool shit and have put it out there for others to read, and learn and understand.

Let's face it, life's going to break your shit. Try to fix something yourself, it it's possible. It will feel good.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Griefstruck God

(I took a flash-fiction writing challenge put down here by Chuck Wendig, whose work I haven't yet read but love his blog about writing and life. The challenge was to randomly generate two words to form the title for the story you will write. I rolled the dice and got "Griefstruck God", so here it is.)

Griefstruck God

It’s said He came with a fury unimaginable by mortal minds. He swept cities into the sea and buried them within the earth. He torched entire forests and leveled mountains. The world shook to his emotions….

The knight rode through the deserted streets of a once-great city. His torch flared, lighting the area around him. A few buildings stood but most were leveled, as if by a giant hand, not even leaving debris behind. Decimated.

His horse stepped over bits of rubble and debris, bones of those who had lived in this place.

There was no sound in the great cavern in which the city now rested, having been buried beneath the earth long ago.

The knight pressed on, toward the heart of the city.

A sound turned his head. He swept the torch and turned his horse.

Footsteps, padding slowly in his direction.

He drew his sword.

A figure emerged into the light, shuffling forward, thin and hunched like an old man. Gray hair hung in streaks from his head and a filthy beard stuck out from his chin. Rags covered pale flesh.

“Why?” the ragged figure asked. “Why do you disturb me?” The figure lifted a finger and fire shot out, streaking by the knight’s helm.

The horse stepped, nervous.

“I come to remind you,” the knight spoke, boldly.

“Remind me?” The old man chuckled. He clapped his hands and a lightning bolt struck the ground in front of the knight.

The horse reared, throwing the knight to the uneven cobblestones and took off, running into the darkness.

The torch hit the ground and sputtered, going out, plunging the knight into darkness.

The knight stood, slowly, holding his sword in front of him. “I come to remind you of those who worship you. You hold responsibility for-”

“RESPONSIBILITY?” The roar came, a wind hurtling into the knight and sending him stumbling back.

A wraith gripped the knight’s neck, choking him. He swept the hand away and slashed the wraith into nothingness. “You neglect your duties!” The knight called.


Fire erupted from the blackness.

The knight dove to the side.

A torrent of flame, seemingly endless, rushed past.

“You did, and thus, you are responsible. You’re people are dying,” the knight said.

Another laugh, out of the dark. “What of them? Insignificant. Do you not know I slaughtered thousands myself? Perhaps I need to come again, perhaps it is you all who need the reminder. I DEMAND TO BE LEFT ALONE!”

Lightning slammed into the knight, hurling him through a wall.

He lay there in rubble, stunned.

“I grow tired of this,” the voice came, weary. “I no longer care. Come to me and there shall be consequences. Before you decide, consider how much pain a God can inflict. You cannot imagine, mortal.” The voice faded.

The knight emerged from the building he’d been thrown into, light springing out of nowhere, illuminating the ghostly city in a ghostly blue.

The horse came trotting up, breathing hard and eyes wild.

The knight slapped it’s rump and set it off back in the direction they’d come. He looked at the sword in his hand and dropped it to the ground. He started walking towards the center of the city, a great temple that loomed above all, stretching nearly to the cavernous ceiling above.

Lightning flashed in front of him, shattering stones.

He ignored it.

Walls of flame burst into existence in front of him, and disappeared the moment before he reached them.
Giant bears and animals attacked him, each missing and fading to nothingness before touching him.

He came to the steps of the temple and walked up, boots ringing against the stone the only sound in the giant tomb.

He found the old man within the temple, standing next to a stone casket.

“Still, you come,” the old man snarled, turning, his eyes burning. “Before you die and doom your entire kind to nonexistence, tell me why.”

The knight took off his helm and dropped it to the ground. “Your people need you.”

A force slammed into the knight’s gut, sending him to his knees. “My people,” the old man said. “Those I made from nothing, formed into being, those I helped grow into a powerful civilization, those I allowed my daughter to live with because she wished to, those, of whom she became one because she loved you so, those who killed her.”

Tentacles ripped through the floor and wrapped around the knight’s wrists, thorns growing and digging into his skin.

The knight cried out in pain.

“Yes. Feel it, for it is nothing compared to my torment,” the old man stepped up to the knight.

“It was...a mistake,” the knight said. “A mistake...a hundred years ago…”

“A hundred years?” The God screamed.

The knight winced in pain, unable to cover his ears.

“A hundred years may be more than a lifetime to you, mortal, but it is NOTHING to me!”

The knight saw himself growing old, dying. Saw his body rot and turn to dust, to nothingness. He saw it a hundred times, saw himself die a thousand ways.

“I never should have let her walk among you,” the God whispered.

“You couldn’t have stopped her,” the knight gasped, struggling to stand. “You did not control her, no one could.”

“How do you know…” The God said, looking closer at the knight’s face. “You,” he said. “How have you lived this long?”
“I do not know,” the knight said, standing, ripping the tentacles out of the floor. “A curse, perhaps, for loving the daughter of a God.”

The God struck him across the face with his fist.

The knight flew into the wall.

The God looked at his fist. “Yes,” he said. “I see why you mortals tend to use your own hands. It feels...better.”

“Kill me if you must but it will not bring her back,” the knight said, staggering to stand. “She made her choice, not you.”

The God appeared in front of the knight, dagger in hand held to the knight’s throat. “I’ve never done it like this before,” The God said. “Spilling a mortal’s blood like this, so primal, so primitive. I wonder how it will feel.”

The knight smacked the dagger away.

The God didn’t move, eyes wide, as if in disbelief at what the mortal just did.

“It was not your fault,” the knight said and embraced the God.