Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WIP of Oops

[This was an idea I had some years ago that I decided to expand into more of a short story. Well, maybe. We'll see how ambitious I get.]

“OH SHIT!” Azrael looked around sheepishly hoping no one had heard his outburst. A few other angels looked over but were so accustomed to such expletives that no one gave it much thought. After all, many of them were charged with day-to-day monitoring of the often absurd and usually sacrilegious going-on of mankind and so the occasionally vexed expletive was nothing unusual.

Still, Azrael being the angel of death and all, was tasked with writing the names of men, or women, in his book at their birth and in turn erasing them when that man, or woman died. Not the most exciting of jobs but it beat something like Umeroz’s job of being the angel of the second hour of the night. How lame is that? Or Dagiel, angel of the fish? I mean come on!

While Azrael wrote reasonably fast with the meat sacks, um, blessed children of God, dropping like flies as some 150,000 plus per day he had little time these days for making house calls. That is to say, being on hand for any one person’s death and doing the whole ushering souls to the great reward and all that. Oh sure, he tried to make an appearance for some of the big events like floods, wars, earthquakes and the like; the things that racked up the body counts. But for the most part there just wasn’t time to show up every time some Thom, Dick and/or Harry shuffled off the mortal coil. In fact for a while he even transferred things over to the PC to make matters a little more streamlined but when the threat of Y2K came along he figured he was just tempting fate and for whatever reason Fate had made it quite clear she had it out for this particular member of the heavenly host set.

“Oh this is bad, this is really not good”, he looked around for a dry cloth to sop up the diet Coke before anyone noticed. The sticky, brown liquid ran down the page and dripped onto the floor. “Oh crap, HE/SHE is going to be seriously pissed. This is even worse than the time I misplaced the book with all the Atlantean people. Or forgot to erase those guys they made the Highlander movies about. Jeeze, those sucked, and to think I’m responsible.”

Ink and diet Coke ran down the page smearing and effectively, erasing 63, no wait, 64 names from the Book of Life. Additionally 6 names were smeared and faded nearly, but not quite, beyond recognition. What could this mean in the grand scheme of things? Were they somewhat dead? Mostly but not altogether dead? Azrael couldn’t say. But what he could say with absolute certainly, without fear of contradiction or second guessing that he was most profoundly fucked.

Azrael looked around surreptitiously. No one seemed to notice as he dried the page with the sleeve of his robe and turned the page. With 107 people and change passing on each minute and even more being born he could hardly dwell on past mistakes or risk falling behind on his task of perpetual writing and erasing. Now it should be noted that even with divine clerical skills (the bookkeeping sort not the religious sort in this case) that allowed him a level of scribing well beyond that of mortal man he could by no means stay ahead of the mortal nature of mankind. In fact he had a staff. Again, not a clerical staff in the parting of seas, smiting the heathen sort of staff but rather the secretarial pool sort of staff. By virtue of such a plan was hatched. Azrael had to atone for the error of his ways. That is to say, he needed to cover his ass.

At this point there are a couple of issues that should probably be mentioned concerning divine power and the whole angle of death thing. Not to suggest the power of the holy is not all it’s cracked up to be or anything of the sort; it’s really quite impressive in the whole Old Testament sort of way. But, it is, one might say, fickle. That is to say, there are no hard and fast rules governing it nor predefined limits to and definition of what is and is not possible nor a predefined description of just what powers are available to those tasked with the execution of His divine will. All of which is a long winded way of saying Azrael did not simply have the ability to simply gaze down upon the Earth and smite the 68 individuals in question so as to balance the books. This in turn brings up two other points.

The first of which is that first and foremost the aforementioned angel was a bookkeeper. A bean counter as it were. After untold years of recording and deleting names in The Book human life really meant little more than an ever increasing and decreasing ledger of statistics. Therefore the only logical solution to the recent discrepancy between the total of dead recorded vs. actual dead was to go forth and bump off the inconvenient 68 ledger entries - also known as humans - so as to balance the books as it were. This in turns leads us to the second issue at hand. Azrael was, as mentioned earlier, the angle of death. This was however more of an administrative position than a field job.

For thousands of year he had been tasked with the recording of births and deaths in The Book. That is, The Book of Life, not, you know, The Book as written, edited, rewritten and reedited by a collection monks and politicians over the years. Basically a desk job. Not to say he didn’t occasionally make is way down to the big blue marble but more on holiday than for purposes of smiting and ushering souls to their subsequent rewards. What this meant was that if Azrael was going to balance the books he was going to have to do it the old fashion way. He was going to have to get his hands dirty. More to the point, he was likely to get his hands bloody.

Another rather inconvenient problem was that one didn’t simply check divine power out from the weapons locker without considerable paper work or, well, the heavenly protocol version thereof. At least not if one were off on a personal mission of ass covering which he in fact was. Instead he was going to have to go planet-side and make do with such powers as were granted by default to an angel. Azrael palmed a letter opener.


"I don't understand...why won't you help us?"

Her eyes were pleading but I could see the beginnings of anger in her body and face. The man stood abruptly and walked to the window, staring blankly out into the rain.

"You are the best at this, isn't that right?" she continued, "That's what we were told. You found the Tompkins girl after everyone else had given up, right? And the Miller twins?" She was trying to remain civil but frustration and anger compounded by the hell her life had plunged into over the last four days were cracking her shell. She was getting close to coming apart.

"Look, Mrs. Phillips," I said, "I've just been very lucky a few times with these cases." That was a lie, but I wasn't exactly going for straight honesty here, not if was going to get out of this one. "The police have their best people on this, they've got the whole city turned out looking for your little girl. I know some of the guys in Missing Persons, I've worked with them before, and I can assure you they will do everything they can to find her. And if you just give them..."

"The police are useless," the husband snarled suddenly from the window. I started to continue but the wife cut me off, "No! I don't understand! We need more than the police, and that's what you do! You find people!"

"Yes, that's true ma'am - I do find people, but it's usually guys who are running out on their wives or insurance scammers, that kind of thing." She started to protest and I went on, "Yes, I have found some children who have been abducted, and yes they've been exceptional cases in some instances." But I could see I wasn't getting through to her.

I sighed. "Okay, you want to know the truth? The truth is, I am good at finding people. Very good. Sometimes I find kids. But the fact is that seven out of ten times when I find them they're dead." She flinched as if I'd taken a swing at her. "It's just the ugly reality." I looked down at the single picture she'd placed on the coffee table in front of me, the little sun hat, the brown curls poking out, the big eyes squinting in the sun, and I remembered all the other ones - the ones whose lives I'd slipped into, whose faces I'd come to know as if they were my own kids. The ones who I found and brought back to their families - and the ones I couldn't find, who had disappeared into a world that swallowed them and left only snapshots and broken hearts behind.

"You have no idea," I said painfully, "how hard it is to do this. To get to know these kids, to sit on their beds and look at their toys. To come to think of them almost as your own. To love them." I could see she was starting to get it. "And to lose them."

"I just can't put myself through that again."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blank sheets of paper

“But I’m not ready”, Aedan looked nervously at the sheets of blank paper spread out before him on the table.

“Doesn’t matter at this point my friend. You either start writing or the future stops happening.” The old man looming over Aedan with his long white, beard and colorful coat somehow managed to look frail and doddering yet nonetheless imposing.

“But, but, I never wanted this. I mean, I did, but not…not like this. I mean, how can I write under this kind of pressure?” Aedan’s eyes darted back and forth across the pages. He clutched the quill in his right hand more like a knife than the delicate writing tool it was. With a start he realized that on top of everything he’d never used a quill in his life!

“Well if you hadn’t put it off so long you wouldn’t be under so much pressure now would you?” The old man stroked his beard and leaned over the table in clearly an “I told you so” manner.

The young man fidgeted in his seat. He had always wanted to be one of the legendary Weavers. They were the secreted society of scribe/wizards that defined the future with their writings. These timeless men and women wove reality throughout the ages through their stories, always staying behind the scenes. Aedan had been given the chance to join their ranks; he had given up his job, his house and his two cars, and everything else that tied him to life in the early 21st century. But now as he sat, pen in hand, ready to define the future…his mind was blank. He had writer’s block in the worst possible way and at the worst possible time.

“Look, maybe if I could just have a little privacy.” As the elder Weaver left the room Aedan’s trembling pen touched the paper.

Corn field

“Lozenge-shaped I’d say.”

“Oh it most certainly is not! Cigar-shaped.”

“Cigar-shaped? I don’t know what the hell kind of cigars you smoke but that’s not cigar shaped.”

“Well it sure isn’t lozenge-shaped. What the hell does that mean anyhow. Lozenge-shape?”

“You know, I don’t care what shape it is, I’d like to know what the hell it’s doing over my corn field.”

“Ever notice that these things never show up in New York City or Paris or anything like that. They’re always over somebody’s cornfield in the middle of nowhere. Well, except in them movies like, uh, what was that movie with those guys in it and aliens come blow hell out of things. Then the president, not the real president but the guy in the movie, gets in a jet and…”

“Will you shut up already? Jeeze. Come on; let’s get a closer look.”

“Huh, closer look? Are you sure that’s such a good idea. I mean, it just sounds like something they say in a movie just before the aliens disintegrate them with some sort of death ray. Like in that movie with those space ships that land, well, in some body’s corn field in New York and…sorry.”

“Man, that sucker looks even bigger up close. Well, you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, and cigar-shaped.”


“Hey look, a door’s opening. Something’s coming out just like in that movie with that spaceship and the big robot and the alien and the guy says Klaatu barada nikto.”

“(sigh) You can’t remember the name of any movie ever made but you remember Klaatu barada nikto?”

“Hey, is that a weapon?”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Looks vaguely like rain

It wasn’t rain of course, and we all knew that, but, in that sort of watercolor painting sort of way, it did look vaguely like rain. At first anyhow.

The phenomenon, later called The Blurring, was first noticed by truckers and ranchers off on the horizon of those big, square states in the middle: Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and later in Idaho, parts of Colorado, Texas and so on. Off on the horizon it looked like the gray, streaky haze of rain reaching down from the sky. For the first few weeks no one gave it much thought until it was noticed that, in places not necessarily known for a lot of rain, there always seemed to be a storm off in the distance. And always, it would seem, in the distance.

Ultimately it was discover – not explained, as there really is no explanation - that the phenomenon was not rain but a sort of unraveling of areas of the world that were uninhabited. Scientists have neither explanation nor even theories; as far as anyone can tell it is simply a result of subjective reality. That is to say: in that there’s no one there to contemplate these places, to hold them in active memory as it were, they simply have started to fade. Again, there’s no logic, no scientific reason or even leading theories as to how this could happen or, since the world has of course been vacant of human minds for nearly its entire history, why it would start happening now.

And still, from a distance, it looks vaguely like rain.

Josh Flagstone - Traveler

Excerpt from the manuscript of Josh Flagstone: Travelers of Now and Then

And things they seem, have become stranger still. In an effort to extricate myself from this most peculiar of situations, I had become aware of another in a like predicament.

At first I thought him a warden of this place and thus held my distance lest I be discovered. I followed him to one, final door, a door which, as it happened, did indeed leave the bizarre and meandering shop only to deposit one into an out of doors that was stranger still. No sooner were we outside then my supposed captor took steps to obfuscate himself among this unexpected landscape. Still, his trail did lead me to the base of what seemed a magnificent and naturally occurring throne made of a moss-covered, decaying log. It was here that I discovered the journal, which he had hastily hidden but moments earlier.

Were this place not queer enough reading the journal has left me quite ill-at ease as I realized that I am both the discovered and originator of said book. This is indeed my journal, meaning, that I have in-fact been following myself through this place, or, more accurately, another version of myself.

It was at this point that my thoughts returned to the letter that had lured me to this place, and on this quest, to begin with. There were, it did say, clues to be discovered and travelers –stranded it would suggest- to be rescued. It did then occur to me that I had stumbled upon the first of the clues and travelers to be found in this place and that indeed they were one and the same. Further, that they were none other than me. Or rather the “other” me whose progress I had shadowed. However, if I were to rescue him I would first need to discover his whereabouts and convince him that the two of us would do well to work together.

Then I was distracted from my revere by a sudden realization: The tree stump throne, as I had named it, which, from afar seemed nothing more than a decaying stump while my fancy formed it into the likeness of a throne, now indeed seemed much more of an intentional construct. It was as if my fancy had changed it from a trick of the eye to a throne, albeit one of stump and moss, but a throne fit for some forest lord nonetheless.

(To be continued)

Drug of choice

“Right, now, before any of you wise-asses start snickering about it, yes, the “drug” ring was being run outta the back of Starbucks. Ironic I know, now get over it; it’s not that damn funny.

Bout three years ago we started hearin’ about a new designer drug called Damnation. Thing is, all it did was cause a euphoric sensation and left the user feeling guilt-free, energized, happy, productive and, I’m told, allowed for some really great sex. With all the other shit on the street Damnation really wasn’t high priority if you get me.

Then people started dieing. Not overdosing or anything like that mind you, but homicides. We don’t get a lot of that up here in Seattle, so, it didn’t take a lot to show up on radar if you get me. I only have a few minutes here so I’ll cut to the frickin’ chase. You see, when this started happenin’ we also stated hearin’ more and more from the star-gazin’ crystal-lovin’ hocus pocus types too. You know, the X-Files, Buffy world’s bein’ overrun by spooks types if you get me.

Eventually we tracked the whole thing back to this Damnation drug. Some supernatural/shrink consultant explained it as being a drug that tore down all inhibitions and concerns with, you know, morals, ethics and all that. Basically it dissolved the soul and left the body just fine. And better yet, the pushers were from hell. Course we all agreed that was a load of crap. Still, suddenly we had just a load of sociopaths runnin’ around poppin’ people left and right. Seems like every third person and his aunt Emma had decided to become a serial killer. Oh lucky us.

We finally tracked the bastards down and sure enough, demons.
Posted by Shawn at 7:44 PM 0 comments

Careful, they bite
So, I was watching a show in the Discovery channel (or some “smart tv” channel as we collectively refer to the History, Discovery and TLC channels) and someone was suggesting that crop circles may be, what I would call, a supernatural/natural phenomenon. That is, some sort of ionized wind vortex that touches down like a mini tornado, but, is able to leave geometric shapes due to the fact that the vortex owes its origin to a sort of collective, subconscious psychic power of the entire human race.

Sooooo, okey dokie says I. Not being one to poo poo anyone’s theories I in fact rather liked the idea of phenomenon and even supernatural creatures resulting from the collective sub consciousness of the human race. How about nasty, little black creatures spawned from such emotions as greed, jealousy, bigotry and rage. Or, conversely, lovely faerie-like creatures resulting from love, kindness, hope and charity.

So remember, the next time you lose your cool in traffic, make a racial slur or horde money when a family goes without, maybe, just maybe a set of little, black eyes open somewhere far away and teeth, sharp and hungry drip with the spittle of human corruption.
Posted by Shawn at 7:41 PM 0 comments

As long as I keep typing everything’s ok
As long as I can just keep something, anything flowing, to hold the chaos at bay, to define the world as we know it, or at least as I know it, it’ll keep going. But they’re there, in the shadows, I can see them from the corner of my eye, waiting, waiting for me to stop, waiting for an opening to glide in and tear it all apart.

I can’t say I really know what they are - demons of some sort - whispering, grinning with stark white teeth and ash black faces more of a smoky abstraction than a thing of skin and bone, but they’re evil. They want to change everything, to shred the very fabric of what we hold to be true, chaos, darkness and fear. But I can stop them, I can hold them off, I can keep writing and writing and defining the world, cataloging this reality as it is right now, I can keep it all going, I can hold them at bay. A war’s broken out over seas somewhere, no, no it hasn’t, I won’t let it! The White House is repealing the Constitution, NO, no I won’t let that happen. I’ll write an article saying it was all a big mistake and everything’s fine; I’ll save it all, I’ll protect us all as long as I can keep writing we’re safe.

Wait, what was that beep? My battery! I’m nearly out of power, NO, if I stop writing…
Posted by Shawn at 7:39 PM 0 comments

Aaron Flesher could remember the future
He knew that in 2044 they would start terra-forming Mars and that they had established the first colony there some 12 years before that. He knew that in 2054 the U.N. would recognize artificial intelligence as sentient and therefore deserving of human rights. He remembered when they discovered evidence of life on Europa in 2066 even though it clearly had died out millions of years before. He remembered the first contact with alien life carried on radio waves from deep space. He remembered a great many things from the later half of the 21st century and he knew, he absolutely knew that these were memories not premonitions. None of this would be of particular interest was it not the year 2029.

What Flesher didn’t know was why he knew so much of the future and so little of the present. This place, this time seemed so primitive to him and so alien. Not alien in an otherworldly sense of the word, as, this was his Earth. The world was as he knew it, as he remembered it, but of an earlier time. How then, he wondered, had he come to be here, some 30 years before his birth. There was no such thing as time travel either in this time or in his. Had he somehow come detached from the time continuum or perhaps his consciousness found a way, intentionally or otherwise, to travel back in time? If so, why, and how and how would he return?

What Flesher didn’t know, and never would, was that in fact time travel did exist, or more accurately, once existed. It was a reality of his time, the latter part of the 21st century before he was sent back to the year 2029 to prevent one Dr. Albert Kemmelman from laying the groundwork for such an abomination against reality. In 2032 Kemmelman was to, or would have, or did in one reality, publish his research titled “A Dissertation on Time Slippage” that in turn sparked the first practical research into time travel. Once such travel was made possible by the most brilliant and well meaning of scientific minds the world was thrown into chaos. The paradox of changing the past was inevitable and seemingly irreversible. Until that is, agent Aaron Flesher was sent back to see that this atrocity was never started in the first place. Mr. Flesher succeeded in his mission of “negotiating timeline paradigm” and, for the time anyhow, the development of time travel was never begun.

He sat and remembered a future reality, a time familiar yet distant from which he was stranded with no possible explanation.

A beautiful execution

Even those who stood outside protesting capital punishment had to admit it was indeed a beautiful execution.

In 2017 the United States finally gave up on the notion of executions having any value as a deterrent and admitted that they were a way for society to act on a deep-seated, passive aggressive, need to extract revenge on a faceless enemy that was guilty of everything from crime to traffic congestion, political corruption, unemployment, and any and all other woes of mankind. Once this was out of the way the government realized that the ancient Romans were certainly on to something and that, not only could the unwashed massed be easily detracted by these executions but there was in fact money to be made.

Much akin to the tradition of the prisoner requesting a last meal, he could now request –even design- his or her own execution. Of course many lacked the imagination to come up with anything particularly marketable and so were appointed “execution consultants”. Some however requested spectacular crowd pleasers that became media events delivered into the homes of the nation by all of the major networks.

Such was the case on June 30th, 2033 as one Reginald Follsworth ended his life with such grandeur as to shame the greatest of Vegas acts. A small, silver tear shaped craft shot skyward as a thousand white doves flew to freedom as on the ground the five hundred voices of the Tabernacle Choir sang hallelujah and white tigers roared. Reaching its zenith the craft fired off streamers of metallic ribbons, fireworks and glass globes that floated gently earthward reflecting the noonday sun. Then, the metallic craft exploded in brilliant flames of orange and purple, leaving a trail of sparkling green dust that floated off in the Pacific breeze.

Ratings were at an all time high.

Awesome Comics Issue 1


Awesome Comics - By Garrison

The Intro

People think it’s easy to be a superhero. I got to say it’s probably not the hardest job in the world but it’s still got it’s difficulties. All the heroes you see in comics are vigilantes, dudes who don’t see the point in following regulations. They just go around the city saving people trying to balance another job with their duties. Yeah right. Working like that will usually get you sued, imprisoned, or killed. On one hand politicians were tired of this lawless behavior but realized that super crime was a growing problem and the public had gotten used to the superheroes protection. So they created the regulations:

1. Heroes must register their identities and powers to the newly sanctioned F.B.S.I. (Federal. Bureau. of Superpower. Investigation.)
2. All unregistered vigilantes will be considered Super villains and will be dealt with
as such.
3. All heroes must have some form of funding to pay for damages.
4. Individual heroes are liable for all lawsuits and damages unless stated differently in a

That’s about it, I mean there’s all sort of other legal jargon but that all I can recite off the of my head. I’m your basic punch and fly, oh and I can shoot lightning from my hands. I’m working on a force field power and I’m saving up for some new weapons and gadgets. I don’t get many big contracts but that’s why I started this blog to let people know the life of the lesser heroes, the ones with out comics and had their bubble gum trading card pulled for being too boring to look at says the stupid manufacturer. He thinks my costume is too plain obviously he’s never tried to sew spandex to Kevlar. That’s why I’m commander cool.