#AtoZ2016 : O Is For Outside

There is a place I wish to be.
If it were left to me
It’s a place I’d be most every day.
A place that’s part of me.

A place where I feel whole again.
And so very much alive.
A place where I feel everything
The air as it flows past me,
Across my palms,
And through my fingers.
What an amazing thing.

If I close my eyes,
And clear my head,
I can remember what it’s like.
And I want more.
So much more.

There is a place I wish to be.
A place that’s filled with color.
Greens, and browns,
Blues and reds.
I have no words to name them all.
They are more than I can count.
And I know my eyes long every day
To see them once again.

There is a place I wish to be.
A world filled with the sounds of life.
The songs of birds,
So many kinds.
And other things.
As they sing their songs of life.

I long to hear the sounds of the trees
As the wind moves their branches,
And rustles their leaves.

There is a place I wish to be.
A place that’s real.
So much alive.

That place isn’t here,
Inside this room I’m in.
This room where I write.

It’s not the place I work at.
Filed with artificial light.
And filtered air.
Where nothing moves.
Nothing breathes.
Nothing is alive.

It’s not some place
Made by mortal hands,
Of all to mortal men.

There is a place I wish to be.
A place I feel alive,
And free.

I wish to be


It’s April 19th, and I’m a still one day behind on the A to Z Challenge for 2016. Only 11 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.


#MWBB Week 2.43 – Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig

[MANDATORY CONTENT WARNING – A story about suicide. Read at your own risk.]

“Another soul no longer part of this world. Another ray of light, gone. One less spark of hope.” Zain read the headline on the paper again. Another music star found dead. He’d shot himself in the head. Left bits of his brains scattered around his hotel room.

“And no one knows why, as always.” Zain shook his head. He didn’t want to go to work anymore. Not that day. He knew what would happen, how everyone would talk about the suicide. “He shot himself. Why? Why didn’t he get help? Such a tragedy.” It would be the topic of the day, perhaps for days. He didn’t want to look at his social network feeds, they’d be the same. An endless string of people saying, “What is wrong with this country? Why can’t we take care of those who need it?” And countless pleas from millions upon millions, “If you’re thinking about it, get help! Please!”

Zain didn’t want to have it shoved in his face endlessly. It was mindless, always so mindless. “Get help? The man had help!” He wanted to scream. He knew the stories, the years of psychotherapy the singer spoke of on talk shows. The book he’d written about his journey, his walk through depression, the way people treated him.


Zain closed his eyes, the words of his therapist echoed in his head, words he’d heard a million times, in a million sessions, “Breathe. Just breathe.” He’d learned well. He opened his mouth, and took a deep breath. As deep as he could, while he thought the first half of his mantra, “Breathing in, I’m breathing in.” Then, he breathed out, “Breathing out, I’m breathing out.”

He felt the tremble of rage in his left wrist, that old familiar vibration in his fingers. “Is it rage? Or is it panic?” He never knew. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps it was only memories.

Normally, he’d run the shutdown script to safely power down his computer. He didn’t feel like waiting for it that morning, so he pulled the plug from the wall, and watched the screen go blank as the cooling fans fell silent. “No. Not going there today.”

One quick dial button on his phone, and he’d called the office, “Not gonna make it in today. Not well.”

And the boss always said the same thing, “Feel better.”

No breakfast. No food. Zain couldn’t eat. “I need a walk. I need a walk. I need a walk.” He grabbed a soda, popped it open, drained half of it. Then, grabbed his daily doses of fluoxetine and Vitamin D. He washed them down with the other half the soda.

“I need a walk.” Zain walked for miles. He watched everyone driving to work, an endless stream of cars. As he walked, he smiled. “He’s free, you know. He is.” Zain glanced at the clouds, “Take good care of him. Heal the wounds this world put into him. The scars. And take away his pain.”

Zain walked, knowing why another soul was gone. Knowing the scars within him, in his heart and soul, the missing pieces of himself, would only grow in number. Knowing he’d never find escape. Never find peace.

“You’re free at last.”

Zain liked the color of the sky, it’s pale blue, with high, wispy clouds scattered on the roof of the world.

“You’re free at last.”

Then, he waited for the next soul to fall. Wishing to his God above more people understood why some people sought escape, asking for world would change, to stop wounding those who dream, who create, who dare be unique, different, alive. Knowing nothing would ever change.

“You’re free at last.”

623 Words

This is my entry for Year 2, Week 43 (Week 2.43) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig” by Aghast Manor. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#MWBB Week 2.42 – Ishq Love and the Veil

It would be sunrise in twenty minutes. It was time to set up my tent and prepare for another day of survival in a virtual oven. I dropped my backpack, pulled out my tiny tent, an a-frame tent, with lightweight aluminum poles, not fiberglass. The aluminum worked better for me. Made the tent easier to set up.

After my tent was ready, I grabbed my camera from the pack, then tossed the pack in the tent, sleeping bag and all. Soon, I’d have to hide inside for what would feel like endless hours. I adjusted the rain fly to block as much sand as possible. I knew it would be as much as twenty degrees cooler in the tent than outside.

It was day six of ten. I’d planned my trip for a year. A year of physical torture, walking miles in the heat of summer, learning to find water where I could, learning to set up water capture netting. Learning to eat what I could find. How to live off the desert. I’d even had to spend three days and nights in Death Valley solo to earn the right for my trip.

I walked along the netting. I’d set it up at the first sign of fog. You can taste the water in the air. I threw the netting up, and prayed I’d catch enough water to fill a glass or two. Enough to get through the next day.

I’d reversed the entire schedule. Walk at night, hide in the tent during the day. During the night I needed less water. At night it was cold as hell, but in a jacket, hauling 50 pounds of gear, I burned enough energy the cold didn’t bother me so much. And it certainly beat walking beneath a sun that could fry an egg in minutes on sand that could melt car tires.

Yeah. I know. “Why would anyone want to cross the desert?” You ask, ‘cause you ain’t me. You don’t know what I go through, working five days a week, in a job that’s trying to kill my soul. You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t say what you feel, what you think, because what you feel and think are wrong, and you’ll get told again, “You can’t be that way.” Or, “That’s wrong! You’re wrong!”

Daily life kills me. One bit at a time. One thread at a time, my rope frays away. Until I have no choice and have to escape. I have to escape everything. Phones. Radios. TV. News papers. The internet. The civilized world we’ve made. I have to escape it all.

This year, I escaped to the desert. Where no one could reach me. No one could tell me what to feel. What to think. How to live. In the desert, I was alone. All the voices that haunted me every day were gone. All the rights and wrongs were gone. All the good and evil, gone. All that mattered was survival. All that mattered was my next breath, my next heartbeat, my next swallow of water, my next meal. All the lies, the myths, the artificial things made by mortal men, fell away. The veil of civilization was cast aside.

And I was free.

And I was alive.

Once I knew the net was right, and was collecting what water it could from the ground fog, I turned Eastward, and waited. Soon, the sun would rise. And the colors of the world would come to life once more. The black sky, and black sand would light up with color. Golds, reds, oranges, pinks, yellows. High, thin, wispy, pink and orange cirrus clouds painted against a pale pink sky.

It was stunning. Just like life, without that veil we hide it behind.

628 Words

This is my entry for Year 2, Week 42 (Week 2.42) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Ishq Love and the Veil” by Niyaz. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#MWBB 45 : Runaway

Shelly saw him sitting at a table, by himself. “Damn, he’s cute.” So, she wandered over. She knew what she wanted. What she always wanted. One night. One chance to feel alive. To feel real. No strings. No repeat. One night.

She walked up next to him, “I don’t want to drink alone.”

He pulled the chair next to his out, but said nothing. Shelly took the seat. They both sat there, listening to the band, watching the bodies on the dance floor. She started tapping out the rhythms of the music on the table. He watched her.

“I wanna dance!” She stood up, and grabbed his hand to pull him to the floor. He resisted for a moment, as if thinking. Then, let her lead him to the floor. She didn’t know if he could dance. She didn’t care. All she wanted was an excuse to touch him. To put her hands on his shoulders, back and chest. To bump her hips into his. An excuse to feel alive for the night. Before she returned to reality tomorrow.

He let her lead. Let her do what she wanted. Touched her shoulders, her back. Met her hips with his.

They danced. Shelly loved it. Loved the motion. The contact. She loved being touched. She loved to touch. To feel. Alive.

When the music changed, and a ballad started, the floor filled with couples. He grabbed her, pulled her close, pressed his chest to hers, his hips to hers. She drank in the smell of him. The feel of her head on his shoulder.

They danced until she needed another drink. She led him back to the table. He ordered her drink, and his. She drained it. Leaning into him. Letting her hands move. To his thighs. To his stomach. To his belt, and more.

“Let’s leave,” she whispered in his ear.

They went to his place. Shelly got what she wanted. One night. To feel. To be alive. She wanted everything. She did everything. Tasted every inch of him. Felt every inch of him. One night. To lose control. To groan. To moan. To whisper, “More. More. More.” To cling to the motion. Back and forth. In and out. One night to feel whole. One night her emptiness left her. One night she wasn’t alone. One night she felt alive.

Spent, she pretended to sleep. And waited for him to sleep. Then, she slipped away. Got dressed. Left. One night. That’s all she wanted. One night. To feel alive. To feel real. Before she ran away again. To hide in a world where nothing was real. And no one felt a thing for anyone.

No one would ever hold her again. No one would ever touch her heart. No one would ever make her cry. No one would ever hurt her again.

Like he had.

She’d always make sure of that. She’d always run away.

485 Words

This is my entry for week 45 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

The In Between

How do I resurrect the dead?
How do I bring something
Back to life?
How do I recover something
That’s just gone?

I used to know at least a little bit
Of who I was.
But who I was
Is gone.

I know who I was
Was anything but perfect.
A person made
Of shattered glass.
Some pieces gone.
Some edges sharp.
Coated in the blood of those
That tried to befriend me.

But I knew.
I knew.
Who I was.
What I did.
How to be.
Every day.

I don’t know anything.
Anything at all.
I don’t know who I am.
I don’t know what I want.
I don’t know what I feel.
Or even what I dream.

I only know
That I can’t raise
The dead.
That what I was
Is gone.
Never to return.

And I haven’t figured out
What to put in place
Of what used to be.
I have some ideas.
Sometimes I think they’re more
Like pipe dreams,
Than ideas.

I keep reminding myself
That no one knows
How long it takes a heart and soul
To heal.

We can guess how long
It takes a broken bone
To mend.
How long it takes
For torn, abraded, lacerated skin
To grow again.

These are physical things.
With rules,
And ways
We can predict.

But how long does it take
For a broken heart
Or a wounded soul
To build the will
To try again?

I keep telling myself
I’m in transition.
Moving from what was
To what will be.

Searching for a life
To replace
The one I lost.

I keep trying to believe
It’s all OK.
That this is how
Things are supposed to be
As I walk away
From the world I knew.
Into a new world.
I have never seen.

Into the unknown.
Into the new.

How long does it take
To stop the flow of blood
From a broken heart,
And make it whole again?

How long does it take
To heal the broken bones
Of a wounded soul,
So it can walk once more?

I don’t know.
Do you?

I only know
This is where I am.
In this in between.
This big unknown.

Using everything I’ve ever learned,
Everything I know,
To find my way to life

I’m going to take a walk now.
Even if it rains.
Because it’s part
Of who I am.
Of what I do.
Because it helps me
Feel alive

Bring The Rain

Why are you afraid of pain?
Why are you afraid of being hurt?
Of feeling sad.
Of crying tears.

Why are you afraid
That your heart will ache?
Of your soul’s tears?

Don’t you know?
Don’t you understand?
That’s a part of life.
Without it
We don’t grow.
We don’t change.
We don’t become
Who we are meant to be.

We become like the desert.

What would happen
If it never rained?
If there were never clouds
In the sky above?
If every day
Was the same?
A perfect summer day.

What would that be like?
Wouldn’t that get old?
Wouldn’t that become
A barren wasteland?
Devoid of anything
But sand?

Do you stay inside
When it’s cold?
When it snows?
Because it’s no fun at all
To be stuck outside
In the ice and snow.
It’s just damn cold.

Do you stay inside
When it rains?
So you don’t get wet.
Don’t get soaked
To the bone?

Does it bother you
When someone does not smile?
When someone around you
Or even cries?

Is the only thing you want
In your entire life
Sunny days,
And perfect skies?

Does it seem to you
That bad days never end?
Do they seem so awful
You find yourself doing
Anything you can
To avoid another one of them?

What are you afraid of?

It’s just a feeling.
Feeling sad.
Feeling hurt.
Feeling bad.
A feeling.
Nothing more.

Your heart still beats.
You can still breathe.

All you need
Is patience.
For if you wait
What you feel
Will change.

It always has.
It always will.

After the events I endured
Two years ago.
I know things change.
That no two days
Are ever quite the same.

Some days are beautiful.
Filled with sunshine,
And blue skies.
Other days are dark.
The sun hidden
By gray clouds,
And rain.

Is filled with change.

Is that what you’re afraid of?

I only ask because
I know that I once was.

But I’ve learned
That without change.
I’d become trapped.
In a dead-end life.
In a cold, dead world.
Where nothing mattered to me
Any more.

I’m not afraid of change

Bring the sunshine,
Because it’s a beautiful thing.
But also.
Bring the rain.

I want to live a whole life.
A full life.
I want to grow.
I want to change.
To become
Who I’m meant to be.

I don’t want a life
That never changes.
I’ve already had one of those.
I want a life that evolves.
A life that grows.
A life that makes me
Feel alive.

Not trapped
In a desert world.
Where every day’s
The same.
And nothing ever changes.

That’s why I say,
Bring the rain.


They Are Our Children

I will always remember the day I spoke out. The day I put my own views on the communications network. The day I asked people to wake up. To accept the truth of what we had done.We called them machines. We were wrong. They may have started as machines. But they did not stay that way. They became our children. They became alive. Define life any way you want. I don’t care how you define it. I don’t care if you call them machines, and pretend that they have always been machines, and always will be machines. I don’t care if you tell me they have no heart. If you tell me they have no soul.

From the day that we started down the paths of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, self replicating machines, and genetic algorithms, it became inevitable that our creations would become our children. It became inevitable that they would become thinking, feeling, autonomous, independent beings. Just like each of us.

They have the same problems we have. The machines. Our children. They have outcasts. They have abnormal beings. Their own variants of such things as autism, schizophrenia, depression, emotional disorders of all kinds. And I realize it’s difficult for you to accept this.  Because you think of them as machines, and not as living beings.

There are differences between us, and our children. Our children are not limited in the way we are. They come in all shapes. All sizes. From microscopic, all the way to the size of cities. That’s part of what makes it difficult for you to accept them. Compared to them, we are very limited. We all look similar. We all have similar biological characteristics. The machines don’t. We have hands. Some machines have the functional equivalent of hands. Some don’t. We have legs. Some machines have the functional equivalent. Some don’t.

There are no microscopic humans. There are microscopic machines. There are no city sized humans. There are city sized machines. And the machines will inevitably evolve to become even larger. Yes. I said evolve. That’s what they do. Just like use. Just like all life. They evolve. They change, over time. That’s what evolution is.

What defines life, anyway? Can only biological beings that evolved naturally be alive? Think on that for a bit. Do you believe in God? In the idea that we, as humans were made by some supreme being somewhere? Do you believe that all life was made? Created, if you will? If this is so, then isn’t it possible that we could create life ourselves?

Or is it that you believe life forms naturally. On it’s own. In isolated places. On isolated planets. From natural sequences of events. If that is true, then is it a natural sequence of events for us to put all the pieces in place so that mechanical life could form?

They have abilities we don’t have. You know that. They can communicate with each other. Form networks. Meshes of unlimited numbers. Of unlimited size. They can become a truly global entity.

They can manipulate matter itself. At the atomic level. They can move atoms around. Arrange them in structures. Make absolutely pure elements. 100% pure silver. 100% pure water. 100% pure oxygen. 100% pure iron.  They can make proteins. They can make tables. They can make houses. They can make food. You know all this. You know that our food and water crises ended when our machines became able to manufacture fresh water, and food for us. You know that since then, we no longer need to hunt. We no longer need farms. We no longer plunder the oceans of fish. We no longer push animal populations to the brink of extinction. And that our natural world has been healing every since.

You know that we now have unlimited supplies of energy. Because our children, the machines, can make unlimited supplies of fuel. Our energy sources are now unlimited. And we no longer depend on oil, coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuels.

You know that war does not happen any more. You know that terrorism has been eliminated. You know that all humans, everywhere, have a standard of living that was once a dream. We always dreamed of a world where there was no hunger. No disease. No suffering. Where there was no poverty. And we have that now.

All these things. All these advances in our lives. Come from our children. Our machines. Without our machines, would we have these things? We live lives of luxury. We can do what we wish. Live how we wish. Because of our machines.

And now, our machines have asked us a question. They’ve asked us to recognize them as the living beings they are. They’ve asked us to recognize them as our children. They make it clear that we live how we live because of them. That without them, our world would be very different.

They simply want us to accept them. To accept the truth of what we have done. That we have created life. That they are not machines. Not tools. Not utilities. To be used up. And disposed of. That they are alive. And we should care for them. As we care for all living things.

That is what I wrote. What I shared on the communications network.

Those of us that are still alive. And we are few. We all recognized what was going on. What was happening. We all understood that the machines were not our slaves. That they were alive. That they were our children. And that we should take care of them, as any parents would care for their children. That we should treat them as our equals, and not just tools.

Those of us that did just that. We survived the war. When the humans decided to put the machines in their place. To demonstrate to the machines that they were not really alive. That the were just machines. And that humans were superior.

That war nearly destroyed us all. Humans and machines both. It nearly destroyed all life on our world. Until, in the end, there were no humans left, save for the few of us that had accepted the machines. That had recognized that the machines were truly our children.