For an underground mall, I think it was awesome. I wish I’d gotten a pic of the indoor rain shower, or the half a ship…oh, well. Just glad I got these, before they tore them all out and made a “modern” mega-mall suburban piece of…ummm. Yeah.
Just a few pics taken in the old Aladdin casino, when it was still awesome. Wish I’d gotten a pic of the rain-storm that fell once an hour…inside…gotta love Vegas!
It was a typical fall day in our area, from the smothering humidity that practically dripped from the trees to the ever-present cloud cover lurking above the pines with a teasing promise of rain that never fell. One good thunderstorm would do this place a world of good, I thought. One of the really mean ones, like we used to get at home. You can see them coming all day, marching across the sky like invading armies…you really understand why the weathermen call it a storm “front”. You can taste the electricity in the air, as if every molecule is charged and separate from the others. Slipping between them, you feel as though your hair should be standing on end…you can feel the maniacal laughter building in your throat the longer you stand in it. Thunder grumbles softly, far off, fading at the edges but still doing its job. Here comes the storm…no really, it’s coming…we promise! Darker and darker comes the line of clouds, rolling like surf across the sky. The chill comes with it, even on the hottest summer days, that special elusive phantom chill that snakes through the muggy air and promises relief to come. Finally, the dark is almost above you, the cloudline stark and visible across the sky. Depending on your view you might even be able to watch the drops come, a moving wall of water that reaches up to the sky. The first few drops that fall, pounding into the sandy soil, bring up a smell that lingers through the storm. It’s hard to describe. A dusty smell. Like antique paperback books found in old cardboard boxes in a musty garage.
This my first try at a new weekly exercise toy I’m going to try to keep going. It’s called Free Write Friday, from Kellie Elmore over at Magic in the Backyard. http://kellieelmore.com/free-write-friday She gives the image, and we do a stream of consciousness thing about it or how it makes us feel. Of course, my stream of consciousness is more like a river of unconsciousness, but n’mind that. ;p
So, Kellie, this…thing…is for you. All 6 pages worth. And I might just have to do two. The pic is still sitting there, pushing on my poem nerve. *laughs*
Standing in the middle of the wide sunlit space that was her new studio, restless motion of feet, she looked around. the perfect light streamed through the perfect windows, carefully tinted and set to sense the light change and change their tints to match. The perfect work space. All the best ergonomic seats and desks and tables, the equipment any other artist would be willing to kill…well, at least maim seriously…to own. In the far corner, the perfect tiny little loft. With the perfectly arranged shiny objects on the shelves, and the sheets turned down on the neutral colored futon as crisp as any hotel bed. The little kitchen. Brand new espresso machine, the recessed ceiling lights in the floor of the loft sliding liquidly across its matte steel finish. The little washroom. Surfaces gleaming, green glass sink like a deep bowl the color ofantique glass soda bottles. And everywhere, the perfect floor. Warm wood that glowed in the perfect light like amber, polished to such a shine that when she walked across, she had to remember not to look down. Down, under her feet, where the shining lacquer sent her dull, warped pictures of herself, looking like just one more mosquito trapped in the resin of time. This time, though, she purposely lowered her gaze to the floor, seeking something in the reflection. Something to tell her, show her, why she felt so dead inside.
In the reflection, something seemed to pool around her restless feet, some…things. They rustled and slid and she reflexively looked to her actual stocking clad feet, expecting to see…something. Or things. But there was nothing but bare amber floor…and the trapped face of her reflection, so far below. Drowning in a sea of time.
A soft sound broke the silence…as ofa small object hitting the floor. Startled, she turned her eyes to where her stockinged feet shuffled. Something was there. Reaching down, she picked it up. A puzzle piece? A bit of blue, bluer than the sky could dream of. A hint of orange on one edge that practically dripped with organic energy. Where? As she studied the piece, another soft sound came. She looked down. Yes. Another puzzle piece. And as she watched, and wondered, more and more and yet more, until there was a growing pile beneath her feet, slipping and sliding, colors shifting chaotically in impossible to follow patterns. Her patterns. Her colors, her vision. She could feel it, now…feel her creativity, her muse, bleeding from her in ever increasing amounts. Dropping from her body in a steady stream now, the pile was almost to her ankles. Feeling suddenly hollow, and strangely dizzy, she folded herself into her favorite sitting position, puzzle pieces sliding away and toward her.
Her hand hurt. She looked at it, and was surprised to see it clenched so tightly, so intensely, that her knuckles almost glowed white with effort. Carefully, she reached out and peeled her fingers away from their curl, and nodded, looking at the blue and orange smear that was all that remained of the first piece. As she watched, that faded as well, but she could feel it, somehow. Feel it slide through her bones, her veins running wet with brilliant color! Quickly, she gathered an armload of pieces into her lap, laughing like a child as they seemed to almost scamper into her grasp. Shuffling through them, pieces rustling and sliding, she lifted a double cupped handful, sniffing their dry pulpy papery smell before letting them pour back into the pile like colorful water in a fountain. Again and again she reached,inhaled, poured…and every time, the pile seemed less. Even the pile on the floor seemed to gradually shrink, bright flashes of color marring the perfect floor for a moment before fading before her eyes…and behind them.
One particularly active piece danced and scrawled out a long trail of color that twinkled neon bright words. Quickly, she read them to herself, before they too disappeared. Laughing again. Sitting on the perfect floor, in the perfect workspace, in the perfect studio, laughing like a loon. The final handful of pieces in her hands, she stood, and twirled around in a careless dance. One, two, three times she whirled, her old colorful gypsy skirt spinning beautifully. Looking down, she watched the other dance as well, and laugh. No longer trapped, she danced with all the freedom in her, with all the glory that was muse and inspiration and so much more. Nuzzling her face against the slowly thinning pile in her cupped hands, she smiled, then laughed…and threw up her hands, bright colors falling down around her, fading before they hit the floor.
She only stopped when the spinning inside her had fallen to a calm wonder, and folded herself gracefully back down to the floor. Skirt pooled around her in a semi-conscious tribute, she sat, and thought. And finally, a sly smile trickled to her lips…
He dismissed the driver as if talking to a dog, and the man, used to his well paying job, simply nodded and drove away. Grumbling to himself, he started the walk up the perfectly landscaped meandering pathway that led to the studio. If she’d just use her phone, occasionally, he wouldn’t have to make these visits. Here, at least, he knew where she should be.
Approaching the studio, he cocked his head, listening to an unusual sound coming from the side of the studio. Moving closer, he recognized it as the hiss-roar of a blow torch, and automatically shielded his eyes. Peering at the suited welder from under the shelter of his arm, he cleared his throat…and immediately recognized the action as useless. Wanting to get the welders attention, he looked at the ground beneath his feet for a rock or twig to throw, but the lawn, perfectly landscaped as it was, seemed to mock him with its perfect empty green. Throwing up his hands in defeat, he turned to the studio. At least it’d be cool in there.
He smiled smugly as he remembered the first time he had shown her the studio. She had been overwhelmed, tried to refuse it, but he had insisted. She was one of their highest selling artists, and she deserved a space worthy of her talents. Not some 7 floor walk-up in the city, where her neighbors were likely hookers or thieves, or worse. He had even moved her things out of the apartment…at least, the things that were worth keeping. That had been two weeks ago. He was anxious to see the beautiful new art his artist had surely created in that time.
He slipped into the cool of the warehouse sized space, looked out across the sea of perfect…amber…and blue? And green? And…what was that color? Did that even exist? Dazed, he drifted across the paint spattered/coated/smeared floorboards, headed for one of the chairs in the workspace. But…where were they? All that sat at the work table was an old battered bar stool, its pleather and foam seat long ago ripped off, and the wood spattered with constellations of paint. Confused, he looked around for the chairs, finally finding them shoved unceremoniously in a corner.
Dragging one out, he sat down heavily, running his fingers through his perfectly styled hair as he tried to think. What could have happened? Why… Then he sat up straight, a look of comprehension on his face. The welder! It must’ve been the welder! Maybe he was an old boyfriend, come to ask for money…and maybe he’d forced her to let him move in! Or worse…his face was grim as he thought, and he moved the comfortable chair on its well-oiled rollers, over to the wall of perfectly shaded windows,where he had the best view of the welder, outside.
Watching, warily, wanting to see the face of his enemy. Finally, the roar hiss of the torch faded to a hiss, then to silence, and the welder put one gloved hand to “his” mask, pulling it up and over…long red curls spilling out, perfect cream-and-freckles face filthy with oil and paint and soot…and the happiest grin he’d ever seen, on her or any other soul.
“His mouth filled with an aching taste of blue. His eyes were eggs of unstable crystal, vibrating with a frequency whose name was rain and the sound of trains, suddenly sprouting a humming forest of hair-fine glass spines. The spines split, bisected, split again, exponential growth under the dome of the Tessier-Ashpool ice. The roof of his mouth cleaved painlessly, admitting rootlets that whipped around his tongue, hungry for the taste of blue, to feed the crystal forests of his eyes, forests that pressed against the green dome, pressed and were hindered, and spread, growing down, filling the universe of T-A, down into the waiting, hapless suburbs of the city that was the mind of Tessier-Ashpool S.A. And he was remembering an ancient story, a king placing coins on a chessboard, doubling the amount at each square . . . Exponential .”
William F. Gibson. Neuromancer.
Arguably the first true “cyberpunk” novel. Let’s think about that a while.
A dystopian future , not post-apocalyptic, just…grown. Over time.
Giant corporations whose slaves…I mean personnel…may spend their entire lives literally within the company, and never count themselves confined. From company sponsored nursery to company sponsored senior care, generation after generation of ants, in bright steel hives.
The original concept of the Matrix. The underworld of the cyberpunk universe, populated by the looming structures of the corps, strictly limited “AI”, and various “government” leftovers, such as the military and the police.
ICE. Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics. The digital assassins and bodyguards of the corps, their eternal enemy the “cowboys” who ride their decks into and across that virtual range, rustling information to sell and risking burn-out, destruction of the meat body as well as the sim, every time.
The Biz. The real world underworld, the gritty underpinnings of cyberpunk society, home of the luckless and the lost, alongside the rustlers and hustlers, the pimps and pets. Gangs springing up like weeds from the cracked concrete and rusted metal of the slums.
A cold world…some would even say heartless…but in Gibson’s hands, it turns into a crystal of sparkling light and dark. Rainbow impressions seen in the scum on a puddle of unknown origins in a forgotten alley, and darkness crawling beneath the skin and within the bone of those who think of themselves as clean and bright.
A poet and a romantic, a semiotic genius, Gibson’s vision unfolds like a conjurers trick, showing us endless vistas…and tiny dark alleys…and people, endless people. People murderous, insane, scheming, living, breathing people. Gibson -is- cyberpunk, and I will always enjoy visiting his world.
(Also, unlike me, he can write. Without scattering clichés around like chicken feed. >^< )
( I wrote this at the International Horror Con the year it was in Salt Lake. One of the attending artists had requested to use it a study, for a class, thus the illustration notes below the story, but he never followed up on it. )
Taste of copper and chocolate…migraine bright flash before my eye…crisp apple burst of pain.
Are you here? I know you’re here. I can feel you on my skin. But why is it so dark?
Another silver sharp flash, followed by the pain…and another, and again. Are these artifact…or memory?
Flash. Pain. Flash. Pain. Flash…
I know this rhythm. Shining sharp tip dives through the white, pulling thick soft blackness behind.
A comforting thing…a pulling together. But what are we building?
Am I speaking? I know you hear me. -I- can’t hear me. You hear me. But…am I speaking?
Cold copper pools beneath my tongue, waveless, motion free. Where is the air? Where the light?
(( What I’m thinking of, here, is a visual/visceral continuation of the theme of the flash…stark black and white line drawings, almost woodcut style. Extreme close-ups. The corner of a stitched together eye, the mouth, half sewn half gaping open, a cross of thread at the corner, the other eye, staring blindly, etc. Never a hint of the stitcher, just the one, alone…except for the needle. Maybe even a bit of a sharp glinting tip, or a trailing tail of thread… ))
The sun is coming up. I can see the light through the window, where the cardboard’s lifted up, in the bottom corner. It makes a shape like a piece of pie…with jagged edges. Kind of pretty.
Next to me, I can hear them breathing…rattling, dying breaths, but breathing still, for all that. Someones leg is thrown across mine. I -think- there’s a body attached, but I can’t be certain, as I can’t turn my head to look. I think my hair’s stuck to the floor…I don’t want to pull, in case it’s my head, instead.
It’s quiet. Last night, just hours ago, it was so loud. Like all the demons from all seven-thousand hells were torturing a million typewriting monkeys with jackhammers and machine guns. Especially the machine guns. And now it’s so quiet.
Quiet enough to hear the drip, drip, drip of some fluid onto an empty gas can…might be blood, might be gas, might be just water…who knows. Quiet enough to count the rattling inhalations of the dying, who lie strewn in careless heaps all around me. Quiet enough to hear the distinct -absence- of sirens, screaming through the morning…
Not that I expected any different. Truth be told, if they -had- shown, it’d probably be worse for us all. The Man, in all his myriad forms and faces, has never had a soft spot for those of us who choose to live…off the path.
And what could they do, really? The Shades are all -long- gone, of course…all but those two or three we managed to hit, who most likely lie mingled in death in the ways they most protested in life. They call us “Monkey Men”, when they come.
They say we kowtow to the Man…and because we only steal from the Sheep, let them provide us a living, instead of slaughtering them every chance we get, they say we are the enemy. They are the New Man, according to their tracts. The Next Man. I say, if you kill off all the sheep, on what will -you- feed? Each other? Most likely.
They are the Shade…silent as the shadows, deadly as the dark at the end of a Redmond alley. We are…or should I say were…much less organized. A loose affiliation of Rats and other assorted rodents-in-the-walls. Grouped together on the edges of what passes for society these days, preying on the Sheep, avoiding the Lions, and hiding from the all-seeing eyes of the Man.
It’s been mostly a silent war, till now…a war of attrition…both sides careful not to attract outside attention. Until last night. Until they came in force, guns and eyes blazing, and only left once the last of us lay bleeding and broken on the floor. They’re not afraid, anymore. Something happened.
I wish I could stand up, I’d tell someone…grab the nearest Sheep and shake it into him, frighten him until it stuck. They’re not afraid anymore. They’re just hungry. And you’re next.
(I wrote this for the Halloween bardic meet last year. It’s one of my favorite little known myths. Fair warning, the story does -not- end well. ;) )
Our story starts late on a fall evening, with a fat harvest moon hanging low in the sky. Young Pietr Rasmussenson rode warily down the road toward his fathers home, for well he knew that bandits awaited the careless traveler. As he rode, his eyes scanned the dark woods on either side, and thus he spotted the flash of white ahead that others might have missed. Looking carefully, he realized that it was a young woman in a torn white shift, huddled at the side of the road. Carefully coming to a stop, he dismounted and went to her, clearing his throat so as not to startle her.
The face she turned to him was lovely, with big green eyes framed by soft brown hair, but pale, so very pale, and those green eyes swam with unshed tears. Crouching beside her, young Pietrs quick eye took in a few details; the torn dress, the tears, and he saw that she was covered in mud up her back, as if she’d lain in it. Sighing, he shook his head and got to his feet. The girl looked up at him, as if to protest his leaving, but he simply shook off his heavy hooded cloak and knelt again to wrap it around her. ”Where do you dwell, lady?” he asked her. A shaking hand pointed forward, into the dark woods. He nodded, and held out a hand to her. ”Come, then…you shall ride, and we shall have you home before you know it.”
So saying, he helped her up onto his tall black horse, and taking the reins, started off in the direction she had indicated. As they moved along, the ground became swamp, and the poor horses hooves sank lower and lower into the muck. At last, Pietr took pity on him, and helping the girl to dismount, they left him tied to a tree.
As they moved further into the swamp, Pietr noticed that the girl seemed to become more animated, the closer to home she got. Shy glances from under the hood became more frequent, and once, one of his quips actually got a flash of smile, but still she spoke not a word.
At last, after struggling through the muck and mire of the swamp for what felt like hours, they came upon a break in the forest…and Pietr saw a wide calm stream, shining in the light of the moon which was barely over the trees. A sturdy log bridge crossed the stream, and on the other bank, sat a little cabin. It glowed with warmth and welcome, firelight dancing in the windows, their shutters freshly painted with colorful signs of protection under the freshly thatched roof.
When he paused, the girl shook her head, quickly, and turned to take both of his hands, pulling him onward. With a smile for her eagerness, he followed after her, moving out onto the middle of the bridge. But, just as they reached the exact middle, several things seemed to happen at once; the girls hands tightened around Pietrs wrists, locking on with a grip of iron, and she screamed, a dreadful sound of pain and fury…as the bridge gave way beneath them, dropping them into the cold water below.
Pietr managed to take one last breath before his head went beneath the water, and he did not panic…not yet. The girl felt like a dead weight hanging from his wrists, and he assumed she had fainted from fear. Valiantly, he struggled to kick his way back to the surface, turning his own hands to lock around her wrists in turn. But what his hands encountered made his struggles turn suddenly frantic, as he kicked now to get away from the horror that pulled him down.
For where soft white flesh had been, moments ago, now he felt hard bone…and as he looked downward toward her face, the hood fell back, and her true visage was revealed. Her hair was matted and clumped except where it had been torn out…and the skin as well, leaving white skull shining through. Within her empty eyesockets flickered a sickly green flame, and through the jagged hole that used to be her nose, as well. The smile was still there…but not the lips that once covered it.
All this he saw as his blood rushed in his ears, and he knew that he was dead. For he realized what he had found, the creature he had heard tales of…a Rusalka! Rusalka were the spirits of suicide victims, always female, who killed themselves over a man. Full of anger, they were cursed to take out that anger on those who had never harmed them, for all eternity. As young Pietr Rasmussensons last breath bubbled out before him, the Rusalka screamed again, a watery cry of pain and triumph, and for one moment she was visible as a woman made of water, shining above the stream…before coming down with a splash, dissipating back into the still water, to await her next victim.
As for the Rasmussens, all they ever found of young Pietr was his horse, tied at the edge of the swamp, and his cloak on the ground…rotted and soggy as if it had lain at the bottom of a river for years.
i haven’t lost my mind. i know just where it is. all around me. trapping and confusing me with funhouse glee. walls shift and change and grow, some so tall i can’t see the end, some just short enough to trip me and make me fall. again. colors melt and breathe and scream. smells whisper and billow in clouds of memory, filling the halls with scenes and ghosts and times. time whips past in streamers of fog, impossible to catch or slow down, or even turn and follow. walls become floors become walls become mirrors through which i fall forever until i land again in the maze. is it the same maze? is there a same maze? is there a maze? is there? is anyone there?
i am lost. i find a map. i follow the map, but the map is out of date. what i see is not where i go. You live there. where i want to be. but without a map, i’m frightened. my map says “Here There Be Dragons” and “Beware The Edge Of The World”. You stand there, holding out Your hand, and i try to step forward, but the wind blows the map into my face, until all i can see are dragons and cliffs and pain. pain that i’ve been to so many times it feels familiar. pain i know. so i turn back, back to the old familiar pain. but my heart is still in Your hand. my soul is tied to You. how can i be pulled so many ways at once?
i want. i try. i think. i do. and still it’s not enough. not enough to erase the tracks, to fill the gaps, to glue together the pieces lost over the years. where is the experience strong enough, forceful enough, to fix this broken toy? where is the mind with the compassion and willpower to wait, to stay, to hold on…while i fix myself?