Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/03/19

It is sad, to me.
How you can not see.
How to you,
Everything is the same.

I see the clouds you see.
The air, cold and empty.
The ground, dry and cracked.
The same as you.

I see the tracks
Along the ground.
The beginnings of a road,
That leads into the unknown.

It is sad to me.
To know the truth
That we do not see
The same things.
Even though we look
On the same world.

For your world is black and white.
There are no other colors.
Only rules.
Yes and no.
Good and evil.
Right and wrong.

You do not see
The pale blue sky,
Filled with clouds
Of many kinds.

All you only see the clouds.
Floating in nothing.
And they are white,
And happy.
Or Dark,
And angry.
Or some shade of gray.
As they move
From good to bad.
Or the other way.

You do not see
The cut made by tires
Through the dry, parched dirt.
Where a machine
Crushed everything
In its way.

Only only see
Another shade of gray.
Painted on the ground.
The only thing there is.
Anywhere around.

You do not see
The storm that lies ahead.
The colors you can’t see
Would tell you that.

All you see
Is the blackness of the clouds
Above your head.
All you know
Is the blackness is weaker
Up ahead.

Because to you
The world is black and white.
And only shades of gray.

And I can’t explain to you
The world I see.
And what I know
You’re headed for,
If you stay on course.

For you have no concept.
No understanding.
No knowledge.
Of the colors
That are so obvious to me.

All I can really do,
Is walk beside you.
And hope we find a way
To make it through
The storm that lies ahead.

For I find
I would not be me.
If I let you face that
On your own.

I find I can not let you
Fight the coming storm.


Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. This is the second week in a row. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

#ThursThreads Week 258 : But It Is Too Late

If Ginger had a bad feeling, so did I. “Let’s see what you’re afraid of, little girl.” I paused, to think, and decided to gather information, and to do that, I needed connections. One empty office network jack later, and I could record every bit of every byte that Ginger’s office computer sent, or received. One dropped pencil on the carpet of the room, and I knew every word spoken. One quick link to the cell network and I knew everything that passed through the System On a Chip that made the phone work.

From there, of course, it was easy to drop background processes into memory, and have them forward every picture, every text message, every e-mail to me.

“So, you wanted someone to do something about the thing you worked with, did you?” She’d even gone off the network, into the world of isolated meshes. The world with no rules. No regulations.

I looked at the picture she’d posted on several of those meshes. Michelle. Pretty smile and all. And underneath the picture, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?” There’d been no public responses, of course. Private responses were another matter, and her cell phone history showed that. She’d erased everything on the phone, of course. But it was all still there, safe in the computers of her service provider.

Phone calls from sources I knew. Sources I watched.

“Nice try, little girl. But it is too late.” And for Ginger, it clearly was.

249 words

This is part 7 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 258 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge: 2017/03/12

Vahit stood in the court, nestled between the buildings. As a child he’d tried to meet everyone. “Hello, I am Vahit. I live there. We are neighbors. I am pleased to meet you.” He had failed, of course. There were so many neighbors. And so many changes from week to week.

He’d learned, this is what life was like in the city. People stacked together in buildings, like sardines in an can. The same sardines you saw in the market, in the cans, that no one cared about. Tiny little dead fish. No one cared if they’d had families. No one cared if they’d had dreams. They were just dead fish, to be eaten by people like himself. People with no money, who lived in sardine cans, and dreamed of one day owning a car, a home, and a yard.

It was a lie, he knew that. He’d lived in the same sardine can for twenty-three years. He’d played the game, go to school, get an education, learn to read, to write. Learn math, and science, and a trade. Learn how to make a living. How to get paid. Learn skills, so you could one day find a woman, marry her, take care of her, and raise a family of your own.

It was how his mother had taught him to live. How her mother had taught her before Vahit even existed.

It was a lie.

Vahit knew he’d never leave his sardine can. He’d live there his whole life. He’d die there one day. And no one would mourn his passing. Another tiny, dead fish, in an ocean of tiny, dead fish. They would notice when the odor became strong enough. Then, dispose of his rotting body, and clean his part of the sardine can up. And find another sardine to put in his place.

It was the way of life. Meaningless. Pointless. An endless game of screaming into the void, “I am someone! I matter! Look at me!” One voice of millions, screaming the same thing, endlessly. And if one of those voices fell silent, what did it matter? Did anyone notice? Did anyone care?

Vahit had placed flowers outside the door of Sevda’s part of the sardine can every day for a week after Sevda died. No one noticed. No one spoke to him of Sevda. She with the soft, golden hair Vahit used to touch. She of the smooth skin that calmed him so much.

Sevda had gone, and except for Vahit, no one noticed. And on the seventh day after Vahit had found her dead body, cold as ice, on the mat she’d always slept on in the corner of her room, new sardines had filled in that space. They’d taken the flowers he’d left by the door, and thrown them out.

As if Sevda was no one. As if she’d never been.

No one greeted the new sardines. No one spoke to them. A man, a woman, and a little boy. They were just more sardines, living in a can. Waiting to die.

Vahit looked up at where the sky had once been. There was nothing there to see. Only light. Only the life of the city.

The sky was gone.

Vahit wondered as he stared at the white sky what it was like to be alive. He wondered too, if anyone, anywhere, any longer knew.

Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.


Two Headlights In A Sea Of Black

It happens every time
I drive home from work.
In the dark.
I can’t stop it.
I can’t escape it.
It’s everywhere I look.

Two headlights
In a sea of black.

I see that.
Over and over.
Night after night.
And I remember.

That’s the last thing I saw.
Two headlights.
In a sea of black.
Too close.
Moving too quickly.
And I hear my voice.
In my head.
Again and again.
“That ain’t good.”

I remember two crunches.
I heard them.
One deafening, overwhelming.
One quiet.
An aftershock.

And me with eight fractures,
And two days in the hospital.
And I’m still healing.

And every time I come home from work.
Every time.
In the dark.
Everywhere I look.

Two headlights.
In a sea of black.

I know I’ll adjust.
I know it’ll take time.
I know I’ll be OK.
And I know.
On my trip home.
That’s not going to happen.
I won’t let it.

But I still remember.
And may never forget.

Two headlights.
In a sea of black.

#ThursThreads Week 253 : We Have To Move Fast

Finding Michelle’s desk was easy. It was the one people stopped by regularly, for opposing reasons. Bill stopped by when he got to work, and put a rose on what had been her desk. A pretty rose with canary yellow petals that had lipstick red edges.

Mary and Marvin stopped as they walked past. Mary shook her head. Marvin threw the rose in the waste can.

And so it went. Some people paused, quietly shook their heads. Others nodded. Thomas even whispered, “you got what you deserved.”

The people who worked in the desks around Michelle’s were just as two sided. Lilly, took two naproxen pills, washed them down with root beer, closed her eyes, and whispered, “I miss you. And I hate the way people are behaving.”

Becky took a photocopy of Michelle’s picture and stabbed holes in the eyes, until the eyes were gone. Then, she put the picture in a folder with other copies of the same picture, all of which were mutilated, and started to work.

Joey has a picture on his cube wall that said it all. A bar, with a woman at it, and a man. And the word bubble above the man read, “We should shoot all the transgender people. Problem solved.”

So it went. From desk to desk. Person to person. Except in the Human Resources office, where Ginger worked. She was on the phone. “We have to move fast. I have a bad feeling about this.”

(to be continued).

248 Words
I’m not on Twitter.

This is part 6 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 253 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 249 : Can’t Take You Anywhere

Michelle worked for Northrop Dynamics, a major defense contractor. She’d worked on-site, at the local US Naval facility. She’d worked there for a decade. I parked my car outside the facility, in the local shopping center parking lot. “Arm.” Its security systems kicked in. No one but me, alive and breathing, could open the car. Attempted forced entry guaranteed the car exploded. Didn’t matter if it was the police, the Navy, or a petty thief.

I muttered, “Active” as I walked from the lot. The armor kicked in, and I vanished. No heat signature. No radar signature. No air currents. Nothing. I walked to the secured gate, and watched the armed Marines check the stickers and badges of each vehicle that entered.

I walked in. Followed the same path Michelle had always followed to work, examined the parking space she would have parked in.

The doors to the facility were actively guarded, and required two factor authentication to get past. I watched people cross through the two door arrangement, and decided who to tag along with. When he opened the first door, I stepped in behind him. When he opened the second, I tagged along.

No one knew. No camera saw. No weight sensors registered my presence in that room. I was not there.

I chuckled, looked at the guy I’d slipped in with, “Can’t take you anywhere, can I?” Then, I watched him wander off to his job.

It was time to find out more about Michelle’s life.

249 Words
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter, you know)

This is part 5 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 249 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

“Write What Scares You” Part 3.

Like I said. I’m fire breathing angry about people telling me I don’t understand, when I do understand, and far better than any of those people realize. So.  More words I’ve written in the past month.

So you know. When the ACA gets destroyed (and the GOP, in US Congress, and The Donald, clearly want to get rid of the ACA), My eldest child will be uninsured. So you know. They’ve spent the past 4 years looking for work. And finding none. Can’t get a job at Walmart. Can’t get a job at BestBuy. Can’t get a job picking fruit on a farm. Can’t get a job washing feces out of stables.

4 years of effort. No job. Not even a nibble.

No 401K, no 403B, no retirement fund of any kind, no contributions to Social Security. No work. None. Nada. Zip. 4 years.

There are 95 million like them in the US. People who have left the workforce. Because, they can’t find work. Period. There are no jobs for them. When even McDonalds won’t hire you, what does that say? How do you deal with that? How do you “work hard, and get an education, and make something of yourself” when that’s what your dealing with? Hell, even starting a small business is anything but trivial, as there’s no source of income, and therefore no funds, to start it with.

This is what a lot of millennials are dealing with. More of them are dealing with this very problem, all the time.

I know 30 year olds, mid-30s, who can’t find a job. College educated. Able to type. Able to run a computer. Able to word process. Able to fill in forms. Able to be an office assistant in any office, anywhere. Able to man phone lines, and work in call centers. And. They can’t get work. They can’t find work. They beg for gig work, online. “Go visit my Fiver page! For $5 I’ll do a Tarot reading for you! For $5, I’ll record any song you want me to sing, and you can give it away as a Christmas present, or a Birthday present!”

One of my dear Facebook Friends (whom I hope to meet in Atlanta in September, at Dragon*Con) is disabled. She lives in physical pain that leaves her on her back, on the floor, gasping for breath, tears streaming from her eyes. She’s doing everything she can. But, the medical insurance has become a problem, after the past few years. And her disability claims have so far been denied. And, she’s been out of work now for over 2 years. She didn’t quit her job. She had to give up her job, ’cause she physically could not be at the school she worked at, every day it was open. She missed more, and more days.

I worry about her.

She’s got a GoFundMe page, where she asks for help with her medical expenses. And she’s got a small store on the net, where she tries to earn any money she can to help pay the medical bills. For her, a ride from the house, to the Georgia coast, is pure misery. She ends up in such physical pain she can’t sleep when she gets there. Sometimes, she goes for days on only a couple of hours of sleep, because that’s how much she hurts.

Did I mention I worry about her?

She literally can’t work hard, and get ahead. Literally.

There’s others. The list of names goes on and on. If I had the income, I could spend well over $100 a week, just on GoFundMe pages, helping people obtain the medical care they need to simply stay alive. And telling those people, “Get a job, and deal with it” doesn’t work. Because. They’ve been trying to get jobs for years, and have gotten nowhere.

The best part? Almost to a person, none of them would be welcome in any church I’ve ever tried to attend. Because. They are different. They don’t fit the social behavior requirements of any of those churches.

Another reason I don’t attend any church.

Yeah, I know. I’ve been told, repeatedly, “Those people need the church!” I know that. But. Sending a homosexual, or transgender person to a church? Really? That’s gonna help them? Sending a person who has had brain damage and memory loss from a concussion to a church is going to help that person? Hell, the church is likely to absolutely torture these people.

Yes. I try very hard to understand. I do. I try very hard to look at things from more than one perspective. I really do. I understand completely how people feel about things like the ACA, and Social Security. I honestly do.

I also understand how people would behave about those same topics if it was someone they knew. Someone they cared about. A daughter. A son. A mother. A father. Brother, or sister.

I find it amazing how cold, and heartless some people can be, in proclaiming, “Get a job! Earn your keep!” and how desperately they fight for the government support of their relatives and/or friends, when it’s someone close to them.

And I find it a striking contrast far too many people are completely blind to. Completely, totally blind.

There are reasons I spent 6 years in psychotherapy. And there are reasons I take 40 mg of fluoxetine every freakin’ day. Because. I see this kind of behavior all around me, every day, all day long.

And it literally drives me mad.

So, now I’m waiting to see what changes start to happen at the Federal Government level. And to see how those changes affect people. Something I can afford to do. Sit back and wait. Because. I’m a white male. I’ll be OK.

Yes. I’m angry. I’m tired of dealing with people who can’t see the double standards that apply to everything they touch in life, and refuse to admit those standards even exist. And yes. In the days ahead, I’ll have more to say.

If you can’t handle that. If you can’t handle me speaking of the things I observe around me every day. Then fucking leave.