Thursday, February 26, 2015

As Yet Untitlted - Chapter Two - I'm A What?

Chapter Two - I'm A What?

I wasn't sure if I was awake or not. I couldn't move. In fact, I couldn't seem to open my eyes. Perhaps I was in the place between waking and sleeping. I felt as though I were floating in some kind of cloud. I could neither feel anything solid above or below me. But I could hear people talking.

"I double-checked for any I.D. but couldn't find any, implanted or otherwise," a man said. "And no signs of there ever having been any kind of implants either. No trackers. Nothing."

"That's a relief," a woman sighed. I think she sounded vaguely familiar. Maybe she was the one who had tried to escort me to the low stone buildings in that cave. I couldn't be sure. "At least we know she wasn't sent to sniff us out. Or if she was, it wasn't by the Government."

I heard the sound of fabric rustling. "True that. Overall, though, she seems to be in relatively good condition, all things considered."

I wanted to blink, wondering just what this man meant by "all things considered". Was there something wrong with me? I didn't think so. Well, other than not knowing who I was, or anything that happened before I found myself in the tunnel.

There was more rustling. Whoever all was there had to be moving around, or at least rearranging something. I think I heard the clink of something metal. "Any idea what caused that kind of injury? It's definitely not something you see every day."

What were they talking about? I felt fine. Well, outside of being unable to move. And when I was in that tunnel I'd felt nothing but fear, curiosity, and a sense of disorientation. No pain. No illness.  What was going on?

"Whatever caused it, she's had it for a while," the man answered. "And with no external signs, not even scars, I couldn't really tell you. Of course, it's possible that it was done on purpose. A profession could have removed any outward signs."

I heard more clanging of metal, the gurgle of something liquid sloshing around in what I thought was a jar. "I've got her on an I.V. drip for now, to combat the dehydration. Probably best we let her sleep for a while. I'll give her something, just in case of infection, but I don't think that will be a problem."

Whoever they were, they couldn't be totally primitive. Talk of implants and medical equipment told me that much. But who were they? And why were they here, underground? Why didn't they want to be discovered?

For the briefest of moments, I thought I felt something touch my skin, but it was just as quickly removed so I couldn't be sure.  "Too bad there's nothing in her pockets or tool belt to tell us who she is or where she came from," the woman commented. "Would be useful. And I'm not about to claim any of those things we found either, as much as we might need them."

What exactly was in my tool belt, anyway? I had no idea. Whatever was in there, they apparently had a use for it. I wanted to ask them about that but felt myself drifting again. After another few seconds, my mind went blank.


The next time I moved towards consciousness, I found that I could actually open my eyes, but that didn't seem very helpful. Everything swam in my vision, leaving wavy streaks of color and dim lighting. Was I going blind? Or was it something else? I blinked a few sticky times and moved to rub sleep from my eyes. Something pulled at my arm.

I heard something moving to one side of me but couldn't focus enough to see who or what. "Go get Garret and Matthew.  Tell them she's waking up," instructed the same woman from before.

I tried to speak, but all that came out was random mumbling noises. My tongue felt thick in my mouth. Had they given me something that did this? I tried again, with the same result.

"Sh," the woman said. "Just lie still. The others are coming and we'll soon sort this all out."

I turned towards her voice, straining to make my eyes focus. It took a bit of effort, but it was slowly proving fruitful. Indistinct shapes came together, like shadowy images of what was real. I could tell that the light had a an orange quality to it, definitely not artificial. But why would they use natural light when they had artificial medical equipment. That was the only explanation for how they'd known I didn't carry an implant. They had to have scanned me, somehow.

Footsteps sounded behind me, several sets. One was heavier than the other. "How is she," I heard one of them ask, the same one who had mentioned the medical equipment, and some mysterious injury I seemed to have. But now that I thought about it, he sounded just like the man named Garret who had confronted me at the tunnel.

I watched as three distinct shadows moved into view, settling near the other one that had to belong to the woman. "She's coming out of it," the woman said. I felt her hand touch my skin. "Just give her a minute to restart her synapses. It's not easy to just charge back into action after such long inactivity."

The other, taller figure grunted. Was that the blacksmith I'd seen working the forge? The shadowy image seemed large enough. I thought I smelled smoke and fire coming from his direction but couldn't be sure. There were a lot of things that could account for that smell. Automatons sometimes had it as well.

With a start, I felt my entire body come back to life. It felt almost like someone had snapped a rubber band. I almost jumped from the bed I was on, but didn't. Sitting up, I shook my head like a wet dog. My vision suddenly cleared as well and I could see everything around me.

Four people stared at me. There was the woman from before, the man named Garret, and yes, that blacksmith I'd seen hammering away. The fourth was a child, a girl of about thirteen or so years old. But who were they? And what about the strange room I was in? It looked like a combination medical suite and mechanic's shop.

"Easy there," Garret said as he reached forward to hold me by the shoulder. "Best to start things slow. I apologize if there is any lingering confusion, but we had to restart your system."

What the...? What was he talking about? "I don't know what you mean," I managed to say. This time my tongue seemed to work exactly as it should. In fact, I could feel every part of my body coming back to what I termed normal.

The three adults exchanged glances. Were they holding something back? And if so, what was it?

"What's going on," I pressed as I moved my legs to hang over the side of the bed. "Why are you being so cryptic? There's nothing wrong with me. I feel fine."

Garret cleared his throat, looking rather uncomfortable. "Well, I'm not sure how to say this," he confessed. "And it makes absolutely no sense to any of us, but you're not exactly human."

I did a double-take. "What?" Every muscle in my body tensed.

I saw the woman also tense up, looking rather worried. "Too soon," I heard her whisper as she looked towards the younger of the two men. "Too soon."

I looked at the two of them in rapid succession, back and forth. "What's to soon? And what do you mean that I'm not exactly human? I feel as human as they come."

The blacksmith bit the inside of his lip. I could tell by the way his mouth moved. "This isn't something I can fix," he commented with a gruff voice.

I moved to push back my hair, realizing it was still in a ponytail. These guys were making absolutely no sense. Maybe they were the ones who needed help. That, or this was some kind of dream, a hallucination brought on by that bright light. Maybe I was really in the State hospital, and this all a dream brought on by massive doses of those chemicals they called medicine.

Garret pursed his lips. I could see the synapses firing behind his eyes. Or was that just my imagination. "Let me put this to you in simple terms," he finally said. "You are human, but you're not. Part of you is mechanical. Somewhere, someone managed to change your physiology so that you are now part machine."

I felt my eyes open wide. "Are you telling me that I'm an automaton?" I shook my head rapidly. "No. No. No. No. Not possible! Everyone knows automatons are corrupted! They want to destroy humanity. There's no way I'm one of those!"

The woman leaned forward. "We're not saying you are one. We're just saying that part of you is no longer human. They used to have a term for this kind of thing, something from the imagination of writers of old. They called it a cyborg, part human, part machine."

I backed away from her, scrunching up against the headboard of the bed. "No. You're crazy. I'm not a machine!"

Garret let out a sigh. "Essentially, you're still human," he confirmed. "But someone has taken the liberty of either replacing or coating your skeletal structure with a metal alloy. There have also been some modifications to your brain, probably so that your body wouldn't reject the technology. It's irreversible. The good news is that everything else, your organs, tissues, all that, are still human."

I felt my muscles trembling as he spoke. I did not like what he was saying. It wasn't possible. It was something out of twentieth century literature. How I knew that, I wasn't sure. Just like I wasn't sure about how I knew all those other things, like the smell of fire and metal. How could I know all that but not know who I was, or where I came from? I'd never heard of anyone successfully grafting a human to a machine. It wasn't possible.

"I know you're confused and scared," the woman soothed, "But it's the truth. Garret doesn't lie. And I saw the scans. Someone has altered you. We don't know why, or for what purpose. But whoever did it seems to have wiped your memory during the process. That, or the traumatic nature of the change has caused your mind to block it out."

"No," I whispered. "No." Without so much as a second thought, I pulled my knees in and pounced at the doorway behind me. I cleared the headboard easily, muscles ready to spring into further action as I pelted out the door. I took a moment's pause as I took in my surroundings.

I was on the far side of the forge, closer to the cavern's walls. But I could see no exit from that direction so I sprang forward, leaping over great chunks of rock that had not yet been put to any discernible use. If I'd paused to think about it, I was leaping over masses that were beyond a normal human's capacity. But the only thing I wanted was to escape the possibility that these strangers were right.

I made it as far as the forge, the heat beating against my skin as I collapsed into a puddle of tears. What was wrong with me? And why was all this happening? And why was the only exit I could see the one I'd come here through? I was not about to go back to that, regardless of current circumstances.

I heard them approaching me before I saw them. It was just Garret and the woman, and they approached with caution. I tried to ignore them, until I felt a blanket being draped over my shoulders.

"It's okay," Garret said. "We'll figure this out. We'll find out who did this to you, and we'll figure out who you really are and why this happened. Just trust us. Please."

I turned into his warm shoulders and cried.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

As Yet Untitled - Chapter One

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I will be starting out a writing experiment by writing a chapter a week, or thereabouts, of a random story that I have no idea, yet, what will be about. So, here goes, and cross your fingers it goes smoothly! Oh, and I think this is dystopian, but who knows for sure? The direction may chance on a whim.

Chapter one: Who Am I?

It was dark. So dark, in fact, that I couldn't see my hand when I put it in front of my face. Looking around was obviously no good. And the only sounds I could hear was the incessant dripping of water and the sound of air moving around me. The air felt damp.

Underfoot, I knew the ground was a mix of sloshy water and mud. I could feel my boots sticking in the muck, like so many suction cups were trying to keep me from moving. What I didn't know was why. Why was I there? And where, for that matter. Was I alone? Or were there others there with me? I couldn't remember.

The last conscious thought I had was of staring up into a bright light, shading my eyes from the intensity before it blinded me. I knew there were others near me. I could see them out of the corner of my eye. What I didn't understand was why, or where that light had come from. Or what I'd been doing before it came.

I decided to take inventory of myself. Patting down my body, I felt that I was wearing rough pants made of some thick material. Maybe it was some kind of canvas. The boots I could feel weighing down my feet laced up well past my ankles. And I knew I was wearing some kind of long-sleeved shirt that didn't have any buttons or other fasteners. It had to be some kind of pull over.

Around my waist, there was a tool belt of some kind, with irregularly shaped pouched all around. I hoped for some kind of flashlight, but my luck wasn't that good. I realized that my pants had those deep cargo pockets, also filled with contents unknown. And on my head, there was something like a scarf, only more rough. It tied my hair back, which I could tell was in some kind of rough ponytail. The final, and most reassuring thing that my fingers discovered was that I was intact, at least bodily, curves and all. I couldn't vouch for anything else.
A sudden sound startled me and I almost fell to the ground. I managed to save myself by pinwheeling my arms like mad. The sound came again, like metal striking metal. The sharp ping echoed around me. But, if I focused, I could hear the initial sound before it began to echo. Doing so, I realized where it was coming from, somewhere behind me.

I turned, slowed by the squelching of the muck beneath me. Even when I squinted, I still couldn't see anything. Was it better to go and see? Should I stay put and hope someone found me? Or should I head in the opposite direction?

Indecision weighed heavily on my shoulders as I continued to peer ahead. The sound came again, now at regular intervals, as if someone were hammering something. If only I could tell if that sound came from organic sources, or automaton. It would make my decision that much easier. Automatons were not to be trusted. Organic, usually, was much better.

After several more minutes, the noise stopped. I could hear the whoosh of steam rising in the air, as if something hot had been dropped into cooled water. That decided it. I had to find out what was going on.
trying to move as stealthily as possible, I worked on sliding my boots along the ground, with perhaps more success than I would have had otherwise. The going was still slow though, and I had to put my hands out in front of me, like a blind man.

Thankfully, nothing appeared to be obstructing my path, but I did fear running into protrusions from the ceiling, or possibly the walls. As things were, I think I felt the whiskers of plant roots or some kind of hanging algae touch my fingers as I reached upward. I didn't want to know if spiders were involved with that, so I focused on what was ahead.

The further I went, the more sounds began to manifest. There was a higher ping of metal hitting metal, like someone was using a fairy hammer. The slight gurgle of water also began to fill the air around me. There had to be a source nearby. I could also make out the almost indistinct sound of fabric rustling, heavy fabric.

A few more steps showed me that the path had started to curve. I could feel it under my feet. Perhaps I was in some kind of tunnel, or giant pipe. Did they make pipes that big? Not anymore. It would be too easy for refugees to hide from The State. And they definitely didn't want that. No, if I were in one of those giant pipelines, it had to be an old one, one never found by the government. There was no other explanation.

I moved forward several more feet, realizing that I was beginning to make out small details around me. There must be some kind of light source around the full bend. I could see that I was indeed in some kind of curved structure, very much like the pipes I'd thought about. Curious, I reached out a hand to feel the surface. It was cold, metallic, and rough. Except where odd plant growth had started. I didn't know plants could grow without sunlight.

Ahead, roots dangled from above, looking almost like an ethereal curtain of faint green. But when I looked towards the curve, I could make out an almost orange quality to the air, like fire supplied the light I headed towards. But that was impossible. No fire could burn in this filth. I wiggled a boot, making the water churn around it, as emphasis to my thoughts. Not unless there was some dry surface for it to burn in.

My heart began to pound painfully in my chest. Did I really want to continue? Was my curiosity worth the potential risk? What would I find if I went on? I wished I had some kind of reference to work with, but my mind was blank. I just knew that adrenaline ran through my body like quicksilver, and that I was soon going to hyperventilate if I didn't calm my breathing.

 Then the loudest sneeze in history launched down the tunnel towards me. Its massive attack echoed down the length of the pipe, then back again, as I just stood there. I was rooted to the spot in shock. That was no automaton!  It had sounded human, very human. Unless the usual creatures had somehow developed the ability to sneeze like a grizzly bear, an animal that had been extinct for decades.

Even more curious now, I almost rushed forward, but caution pulled me back. Even if the sneezer was human, there was no guarantee that he or she was friendly. It wouldn't do to run into the hands of, say, a massive murderer. Sadly, they still existed, despite The State's attempts to eradicate them. Human nature was still human nature, even with the bad parts.

I moved forward once more, noting that the watery mix of mud on the ground was changing to more water and less mud. That was, in my mind, an improvement. It also warranted investigation. One last section of curve, I was sure. The light was growing stronger the closer I came to the bend.

And suddenly, it was the end. the tunnel straightened out, but ended a dozen or so feet ahead. I could see where the outline of the pipe formed a giant O shape on my horizon. And beyond that, light! Blessed light! That flickered and danced in such a way that only a fire could have produced it. The sound of metal against metal also increased in volume, though I couldn't yet see what was making it.

A wave of heat soared around me as I started down the stretch, heading to whatever lay beyond. It gave me a moment of pause before continuing. What could cause that amount of heat? It almost felt like my skin was baking inside my clothes. But the water continued to trickle beneath my feet so I moved on.

As I neared the lip of the tunnel, I began to realize that whatever lay beyond was a lot larger than I'd anticipated. I could hear the fire now, roaring like a freight train at high speeds. I could hear the rushing of water behind that roaring, and the continued ping of metal on metal. Shielding my eyes, I took the last few steps to the edge and peered out.

I had come across some kind of cavern carved into the natural stone. A fire pit reached out from inside a massive kiln of some kind. And next to the licking flames, a man stood. He had a very impressive set of muscles that were covered in sweat. I could see the sweat flying off of his arms with every swing of his hammer. What I couldn't see was his face. I had no idea how old he was.

More mounds of what I guessed were homemade brick filled the cavern. Maybe some of them were cut stone. I couldn't be sure. They reminded me of pictures of Eskimo dwellings, before they had been taken into camps and integrated into the rest of society. Could those be dwellings? Or were they used for storage? I didn't see any other people around. Just the blacksmith. The word popped into my head as I watched him work.

From the distance I maintained from that forge, I wasn't sure what he was making. But whatever it was, he was working it with a furry. Blow after blow fell from his hammer as he swung down on what I thought was some kind of anvil. Sparks flew all around him. I wished he'd turn around so I could see his face. Was it old? Young?

"Well, are you going to just stand there all day, or are you going to come in," I heard someone ask. I'm pretty sure it wasn't that smith, though. His attention seemed consumed with his work.

Looking around, I didn't see the speaker at first. In my defense, I was still dazzled by the roaring flames and unusual display before me. Such forges were only found in story books and history lessons. But, after focusing a bit, I made out another figure standing off to one side, closer to my position on the lip.

This other man was not as well toned, but looked as though he'd seen his share of hardship. His hair was a bit stringy, but probably only because he hadn't bathed in some time. I think his hair was black, though it might have been a really dark brown. And his face showed that he was somewhere closer to my age, however old that was.

"I..." My voice cut off as I realized that his eyes were probing mine. They were dark brown, like melting chocolate, with little flecks of amber. Did people have eyes like that? Or was it just a reflection from the firelight?

The man walked towards me, never breaking eye contact. "We don't get many visitors down here," he commented. "Most folks don't know we're down here. And we like to keep it that way."

I felt like I was having a stare down with a potential enemy. I didn't dare blink, afraid that he was either a mirage or some kind of trick. I hadn't seen another human in... I couldn't remember.

"Well, don't just stand there and gawk," he said as he came right up to me and grabbed my upper arm.

His fingers pinched into my flesh and I yanked away from his touch. "Don't touch me," I growled, cradling my arm against me. I was sure his fingers had left miniature bruises along my flesh.

He raised his eyebrows at my behavior, taking a step back, though I noticed that he gave a quick glance down the tunnel I'd traveled. "Alone?"

I couldn't help but look back the way I'd come before looking back at him. What was it about his eyes? "I don't know," I stammered. "I don't know anything. I don't know who I am. I don't know where I am. I don't..."

Tears began to leak from my eyes and I felt my body shudder with them. Why was I crying? Was I having some kind of emotional breakdown? I had nothing to use as a basis for comparison. I only knew one truth. I didn't have a clue who I was.

"Hey!" He caught me before my knees buckled, holding me against his strong but lean chest. "Hey, it's okay. You don't have to cry about it."

I heard the crunch of boot steps coming up on us from the side, but I didn't turn to see who was there. "Shame on you, Garret! Making a girl cry!" The voice was feminine.

"I didn't do a think," Garret protested. "She did that all on her own! All I did was ask her if she was alone!"

The woman tisked. "And scared her halfway to her grave, by the looks of it," she scolded. Before either of us could respond to that comment, she had pulled me away from his very warm arms and was escorting me towards one of the stone huts. "There, there. It's okay. Don't mind him," she crooned.

What was going on? And who was this woman? The events from the past who knew how long swam before my eyes. Walking down the tunnel. Taps echoing down the corridor. Firelight blinding my eyes. I felt my feet falter and my body become heavy. My head swam and I swayed. The next moment, my world went black.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Working on an experiment

Hey all, I'm going to be doing an experiment. I know there are places like Wattpad and whatnot that allow you to post chapters of various stories, etc, for people to read. I actually do something similar on, mostly stuff from Fruits Basket and Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji for the die harders). And kudos to you if you know what those manga are!

Any who, I've decided to go ahead and give that a bit of a go here, to see how things go. I'm not making promises on any consistent release dates for a chapter, but I will do my darndest to make sure there's a new one every week. Sound intriguing? I hope so!

So, when will this be starting? Tomorrow, as in February 21, 2015. Yep, I will begin a story. Don't know where it will go. I'm going to be writing this "by the seat of my pants" as it were, while I sit on my big, blue exercise ball, because sitting on exercise balls is cool.  That, and we might have an epic storm this weekend, so ya know, something more to do. And we'll see how it goes.

In other news: still working on the cover for Kas. I'm hopefully getting a new serger in the mail tomorrow so I can sew the costume for my model, then some scouting with my photographer at the chosen location, a book store of all places... Go figure.... Then, fingers crossed, photo two in a place near my place with a guy in a cloak. Cryptic? or just confusing? How about both...

All that aside, I'm still working on writing my Dragon trilogy.... should be exciting there.... and working on a demon story... that is presenting more characters then I'd thought would be there, with more angles than I thought it would have, but that's life for you.  Also working on my younger audience-ish- book about a halfling.... and the normal every day life of working at a preschool, trying to get my voice actors to get their lines in... etc. while trying to have a social life. Daunting, isn't it? But I wouldn't have it any other way!

So, bookmark for tomorrow!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My stance on "Fifty Shades"

Okay, it's rampant out there. It's more likely that you'll get caught up in a debate about this movie/book, Fifty Shades of.... (won't put what I think it should be called), than getting bit by a rabid animal. And sure, that may be great odds, but it's still really not all that great either.

So, here's my take on the whole "romance" and supposed "awesomeness" that is Fifty Shades of Filth. And yes, I did say "filth".

Now, before I go any further, No, I have not read this book. and No, I will NOT go see the movie. And here is why.

 Fifty Shades is not real Romance. It is Porn. Plain and simple. Everything I have heard or read about this book/movie is trash. And I don't mean that I've only heard people trashing on it. Because I've heard/read a lot of people glorifying it to high heaven. Well, I'm pretty sure heaven doesn't want this. 

As the poster above shows, that's what most of the book is filled with. "I'm going to have my way with you, even if I have to beat it out of you, and if you don't like it, I'll tie you up, gag you, and still do it. Even if you say No repeatedly." 

That, my friends, is NOT love. It is NOT romance. It is RAPE. It is the dehumanizing of women, telling them that they are of no value, and that man has every right to dominate over them in every possible manner, but that it's okay because he showers her with gifts to get what he wants.

And, sadly, the way this book is written seems to make it very pointedly what the girl wants, but that above section in the poster, again... tells me that this isn't true. "If you struggle, I'll just tie up your legs." I'll just do it anyway. That, is not consent. That is not ever acceptable. And to glorify it in a book, and a movie, is sick.

I don't care that the story has "redeeming qualities." If all you get is a small bit of story line that says "he's a poor boy from a poor background who eventually gets turned around by said female protagonist", meanwhile filled to the gills with violent sex and threats of "I'm going to do it anyway".... No, that is not a story. That is not a "redeeming quality". That is justification. To read smut. And yes, it is smut.

There are those who say that reading it will not affect them. They're wrong. It's just like looking at porn, only probably more graphic, because our minds take the smallest ideas and play with them, ten-fold. That's why such books at Frankenstein are scarier when we read them, then when we watch the movie version. The next thing, you want more and more smut, which warps your view of reality. And that is where you are really in trouble. It's not "harmless". It is hurtful and wrong.

And that is why I have dedicated myself to writing only clean romance, innocent romance. That's how it's supposed to be, not grab all you can get in whatever manner possible. Not, let's show/tell you exactly what they're doing in the bedroom because I"m a sicko like that. We don't need that. And if you do, I"m sorry.

If you choose to be offended by this, I am sorry you feel that way. But I will NOT change my stance. But if you are in agreement with me, please make your stand and stand firm. If we don't, who will?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On a quest!

Hey all. I'm on a quest to get the cover for my new book ready for everyone. (I suddenly wanted to go all Texan on you with a ya'll.... weird.)

Anywho.... I'm working on putting together what I hope will be a fantastic cover. It's going to take a while, but, fingers are crossed!

In other news, the weather over here in the Dallas area has been CRAZY! And I mean that quite literally. I was hoping we'd get some of that snow that the northeastern areas have been seeing, but... no dice... I miss snow! REAL snow! But, alas, it does not seem that it will be. Sigh...

Instead, we've had up and down weather, with temps from downright freezing to almost eighty degrees... all in the course of a few days. This morning I had to scrape ice off my windshield. Saturday, it's supposed to be in the mid-seventies... What's with this crazy weather?!

In other, other news.... I feel like I'm on the Titanic in so many ways, wish I could go into details, but meh.... Life.

My day job is going. I wish writing was my day job, but gotta pay the bills and all that jazz. Wish a lot of things, but that doesn't make it so.

Any way, been editing my story during the kids' nap time at work and just wanting to squee about it. Maybe it's because I just love my characters so much and they just make me happy inside. Maybe it's just that awesome. I'll let you decide when you read it. You are going to read it, right? I mean, I plan on releasing a chapter  every couple of days or so, once it's officially been released. Risky of me? Probably. But there is no guarantee on how consistent I will be. I'm not going to say either, because life changes and all that.

What I do see, in the foreseeable future, is me pulling out my sewing machine, greasing the sucker, dusting out the gears, and working on making a period dress.... not sure which one yet though... but something. And my kitty is going to be running. She doesn't even like the sound of the vacuum cleaner being used, and it's a quiet thing....Oh well...

Back to editing, at least for now!