testing tuesday

Could be testy Tuesday, depending on how I do on this test at work. I don’t know if I’m doing a good job or not. They’re pretty poor at proper feedback.

Oh, well. It’s union and there’s a pension. For now, I guess, it will do.

At least until I can start living on the proceeds of publishing.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 692 words, comic: Bike #1

the matrix

It occurred to me a week or two ago that I’d never actually seen The Matrix. I love the Wachowskis, but that’s from their Netflix Sense8 series, which carried wonderful messages about commonality, understanding, love and kindness.

The Matrix was something I hated by proxy. When it came out, I had to listen to way too many dudebros (including one particularly obnoxious one named Jeff) who went on and on and on about the core concept of living in a non-existent reality, and as a result, I went, well, I’m not watching that. It’s like you people have never read any science fiction before – or read fucking Alice In Wonderland. Heard of Plato.

Every single one of them wanted to be Neo, to feed that Messiah complex, that only they and they alone were special, they and a handful of others, and they most special of all. Oh, and they get the girl in latex with the nice you-know-whats who’s kind of a badass (but still, submissive to them).

Anyway, somehow, after that initial decision not to go watch it fifty times in the theatre with the rest of the dudebros, I somehow avoided it for the next twenty-four years.

I finally watched it, and as a sci-fi action, it’s okay, though the effects are a little cheesy in the nowadays. If you want good hard action, John Wick and Atomic Blonde are better options. The plot holes and things that didn’t make sense were a bit much. You want to break free of the predetermined role, get out into the Matrix, where you’re immediately called “the One” and put on a pre-determined path? How does that break you free of determinism? Of “Fate”?

The religious aspects are a bit much for me. Anyway, cheesecake popcorn filler, as far as I’m concerned, thus validating my dismissal of all the dudebros who’ve never bothered to pick up a Philip K. Dick novel or actually read Lewis Carroll. If The Matrix blew your mind, I bet you also believed that the Fast & Furious movies have plots, or that Moulin Rouge was actual art, and not just pretentious drivel trying to disguise itself as cleverness.

Thus ends Misanthrope Monday and its first genuine rant.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 3033 words, comic: Bike #1

peaceful moments

My mornings the last few days have been very productive, in terms of being able to fulfill my morning routine and necessary tasks before I even really get started on the day everyone else wants of me.

That is a particular type of joy that feels so relaxing and warm, allowing my mind not to worry about the other shit I have to do and simply enjoy a nice morning’s sunshine, and the drifting of soft snow as it falls lazily from the sky.

Reflective this morning, ain’t I?

Target: 1200 words
Written: 957 words, comic: Bike #1

the rolling stones

Is there any band that’s been as good as long? Are they the best band ever? I might debate that, but anyone who can go as long as they have, through as many iterations and styles and still, well, be as cool as Mick Jagger and somehow seemingly alive as Keith Richards?

Damn, son. That’s some hoodoo right there.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 314 words, comic: Bike #1

another week, another end of week

Thank goodness. Kindness. I use the words thank god and for Christ’s sake and things like that, but realistically, I shouldn’t. I’m not Christian. I’m agnostic at best.

Habit, I suppose. There’s no correlation between divinity and human religion, though I believe in the divinity of certain behaviours. Kindness, for one.

Perspective and understanding, another.

Total honesty, in the nicest possible of conveyance.

All things to strive for, and for which I repeatedly fail.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 444 words, comic: Bike #1

late riser


Eyes crack in tiny slits. Dark room. Alarm. One hand snakes out from beneath cold linen sheets. Taps a button. Silence returns. Cold air hangs over the bed like black cotton. Presses down heavy.

Ugh. Her legs curl under her, hand clamped between her thighs. She pulls the covers tighter, curled around her shoulders. Across the back of her neck. She feels herself shutting down.

A little while longer.

The mattress tugs. Envelops. Sucks her in, like a smothering friend. She curls into a ball. Trapped between pillow top and the black cotton air, she pulls the linens close. They slither coldly against her naked skin and wrap around her ankles.

The tinny alarm pierces her eardrum again.

God, is it louder now?

Her body turns and one hand rises, landing flat on the snooze. The room is gray now. The edges of the curtain shine with uncertain light.

Uhngh, she cries silently and pulls the linens hard against her chest. Night air seeps in.

I don’t want to do this, she thinks as she squeezes her eyes shut and prays for sleep to come once more, laying prone. The light at the edge of the curtains teases her. Taunts her. She shifts, but the linens wrap themselves around her legs and torso, and she doesn’t get far. She pulls the linens up to her face, over her head.

The light behind the curtains won’t leave her alone. It grows in intensity. Pokes her. Prods her. Calls her by name. White streaks of sunlight lay flat across the wall and she peeks with one eye out at the white fire outline of the window. She reaches out. Inches back the curtain. Morning light floods the room, full of promise and potential and prosperity. A universe awaits outside her windowsill, but the sun is blinding and she can only make out the largest of shapes.

Nope. Not ready for that, she flinches as she lets the curtains fall back again. The room resumes its heavy gray silence. Her hands ball in front of her face.

A few moments more. Not now. Not yet.

She rolls away from the window. The linens constrict more tightly around her exposed skin. She plunges, headlong, back into oblivion.

The alarm screams its ruthless tone again. It grates against her insides and fills her head like a spiked pinball ricocheting inside her skull. This time, a hand comes whirling, streaking through the dead filled air. It crashes down.

Off, damn you. It’s not time yet. I’m not ready.

She stubbornly points her back at the lighted window, the linens stretched so tightly across her that the cold air seeps straight through.

Why is it so cold in here?

She pulls the bedclothes up over her face, over her head. The pillowtop grates at her thighs. Tiny pieces of lint dig into her side. Even the linen itself, once so smooth and so warm, feels like sandpaper that scrapes across her legs and belly.

You have stuff to do, her mind gently reminds her.

I know. I don’t care, she replies. I’m tired.

You still have stuff to do.

Behind her, the window beckons. She can’t see it. Refuses to see it. She squeezes her eyes shut. Spots and flecks dance in her smothered pupils as she refutes the call of the sun.

Ugh. Can’t it wait a little while longer?

She rolls onto her back. One arm drapes off the side of the bed, as she glares at the gray flipping numbers of the old clock. She got this when she was a child and it stayed with her since – her daily tormentor.

Tick tock, comes the back of her head.

Not time. Not yet.

She lays, linens twisted and coiled around her legs, one arm hanging lazily off the edge of the mattress. She stares with tired eyes at the window, outlined in white morning light. The air is cool across her skin and the black cotton is now gray wool, stiff and suffocating. Beneath her, the mattress scratches at her.

You should go outside. You know what’s out there.

Thoughts of sky and sun and cars and children dance through her head. Everything so clear and bursting with colour. Violent green grass and the pink flowering cherry blossom beneath the window. The tiny rock garden with its golden sumac and its red rose bush. A tall gingko with bright orange fruit hanging precariously from the branches. People. Places. Things. The world. Life.

Ugh. Do I have to?

Yes, comes the soft reply.

I can stay here.

Not forever.

Leave me alone. Let me sleep. Please.

She tries more extreme measures. Head under the pillow. Her breathing stifles. Carbon dioxide builds in the small space in front of her face. Her own breath, hot and stuffy, singes her eyes, wets her lips. It smells of garlic and ash and doesn’t taste much better. She pulls her knees to her chest, but the linens tighten on her thighs, keeping her from full contraction. She lays, unmoving, and pulls the pillow down tighter across her face. Sweat beads up on her nose as her exhales raise the temperature. It grows hard to breathe. The room is a hazy gray now, almost white, and still, the light creeps in under the pillow.

No, she tells herself. Tells the clock.

You don’t have a choice, the clock tells her back.

Muscles relax and her grip on the pillow loosens. Fresh air creeps in through an opening at the pillow’s crease. It brushes against her face, its icy tendrils licking at her nostrils.

Please is the lame reply, the word hanging impotently at the front of her mind.

No choice. Sorry.

Again, she turns to face the window and stares at the clock. The time surprises her.

Already? How did it get so late?

There is no reply. Only silence, still and pale, frozen in the bedroom’s haze.

Two fingers gently pull back the edge of the curtain and a sliver of the room soaks in white heat. It bathes her face and she squints, but doesn’t turn away.

Ugh. Just…


A tiny…


One moment longer…

Not a chance.

She lets the drape fall closed and sits up. Slowly, she untangles herself from the linens, unwrapping the suffocating coils from her waist and legs. The air of the room is frigid against her skin and she pulls the sheets up over her naked chest. Her heart sinks as she swings her ankles over the edge and leans on the balls of her hands. For a moment, her stomach churns as vertigo kicks in, and she steadies herself against the falling edge of the mattress.

With a sigh, her feet find the floor, soft and plush, and she grips the centre of the drapes and flings them wide. White light floods over her. As her eyes adjust, the world convalesces into pure shapes, sharp and green and red and gold, full of movement and warmth and light.

At last, she smiles, a soft and tender thing, the edges of her lips raised in the barest of lifts, and she exhales, her breath wafting against the window pane.

At last.

She casts one last mournful look at the bed with its rumpled sheets and tousled mattress, no longer inviting, merely cold and stiff and sad. She shakes her head and smiles. Fare thee well, temptress, she says as she turns from its cold embrace. Fare thee well. She heads to the door, out to greet the day, however much of it yet remains.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 611 words, comic: Bike #1


It’s a thing. Headaches are, as well.

I started getting up earlier because I wanted the extra time to write, but now I’m wondering if I’m fucking myself, because I’m exhausted all the time.

Maybe I need to go to bed earlier? What’s the loss of half an hour of TV viewing, versus the fulfillment of one’s dreams?

Target: 1200 words
Written: 1479 words, short story: Late Riser

broke down car

It’s not right, I tell you.

Somewhere along the road, something got broke and it can’t be fixed. The engine keeps failing and no one can figure out why. But instead of replacing the car or the damn engine, we’re stuck with the thing – failing, over and over. Sometimes in the driveway. Sometimes on the freeway. Sometimes on the curve of an icy road.

And no matter the frustration, no matter how often we try to fix the damn thing, it doesn’t get any better.

It gets worse and worse and we know – one day, nothing’s going to start that car again. We’re going to be stuck, wherever we are, in a parking lot or a snowbank or piled up in the wreckage with a dozen other cars enduring the same nightmare, and that’s where we’ll be.


Freezing or bleeding or quietly starving to death. We can’t get out and walk. We’re locked in. The car won’t start. We already ate the only granola bar in the glove box and ripped our shirt to tie around the hole in our belly, but we’re still bleeding. Still dying. Still stuck, in motion or standing still, inside this goddamned car, on this goddamned road, that we never wanted to be on in the first place!

We don’t know how we got here. All we remember is getting behind the wheel and the car started moving on its own. It keeps going and going, and every once in a while, there’s a nice place to stop for a cup of tea, or some beautiful body in a car that smiles as we pass, and maybe, if we’re really lucky, a good song on the radio. Something beyond the nightmare newsline or the static rhythm of whatever tired old pablum some generic pop star is regurgitating to the front lines.

Eventually, this car will die, and we won’t know where that is. Will it be in the high country, in Pirsig’s mountains? Or in the desert, those vast plains of dry and dusted skeletons? Maybe in a city, in the run-down parts, where people oppressed by others who know no oppression scrabble for food and shelter and feed themselves on compromise, over and over again, the way we do, when we’re running out of hope. When we’re living hand to mouth and all of a sudden, the goddamn car takes a shit. Again.

This car takes a lot of shits. We take a lot of shit.

Sometimes, all we can do is sit there and cry, glaring at the dashboard with desperation as it flashes its warning lights, pounding on the steering wheel and screaming bloody rage at the insensibility of it all. All the while, the wheel takes us nowhere we didn’t choose to go, in fits and starts, sometimes slow, sometimes beyond any sensible limits.

We could have gone anywhere, if we’d just ignored the directions we were given. Instead, we followed turn after turn, signpost after signpost, going where the arrow pointed, and now we’re here, with everyone else, wondering what the hell went wrong. Wondering why that turn into the green valley looked so pleasing, and why we drove on anyway into the smog and the soot. Why the thing sputters and chokes and makes noises we can’t identify, over miles and miles of busted asphalt and crushed gravel. We wonder why we learn to live with the little imperfections. The tear in the seat where the spring sticks through. The radio that only tunes one channel, poorly. The rearview mirror held up with baling wire and a trunk that won’t quite close. That goddamn muffler.

Yes, someday, this car’s going to die, and nothing will revive it. Someday, this car will cruise or crash to a stop, to its final resting place, its forever home. It’s going to decay and become no more, as will everything around it, up to and including the road itself. A pile of dust it will be, carried on the wind to the desert, mote by obsequious mote, until it’s so far lost, no one would ever know it existed.

That’s where we all go, in the end.

And no hunk of junk is going to stop us.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 1273 words, short story: Late Riser