EXCERPT: “Ruined Lilacs and Broken Dreams”

Title: Ruined Lilacs and Broken Dreams
Author: Harper Kingsley
Character: Lindsey
Fill for the Bed Amongst the Leaves prompt.

EXCERPT-

Lindsey wanted to enjoy her life. She wanted to be happy and proud of herself. She didn’t want to be this giant loser, where everything she tried failed and every golden opportunity spoiled in her hands.

She wanted to be one of the shiny happy people. She was tired of wallowing in the muck of poverty.

It hurt to realize that her every problem could be solved with the addition of copious amounts of money. Her debts could be paid, the family wardrobe could improve, the quality of groceries that she bought could help fix any health issues. With some money in her hands, she could change the fate of her entire family and together they could prosper.

But as it was, nothing she did worked.

Her artistic abilities were sadly lacking. Her typing ability didn’t bring in much cash. And her profile on the shady solicitation site had received no offers.

It terrified her to think that it was only a matter of time before she lost the Kid. Someone would realize how poor they were and how much trouble she was in, and they’d take her little boy away.

“You’re squeezing me too tight, Momma.”

“Sorry, baby.” She pressed a kiss against the top of his sleepy head.

They were lying on the couch with an afghan tucked around them. The air was starting to chill, but she didn’t want to add another precious piece of wood to the fire. Monster House was almost over and they’d be going to bed soon enough.

Lindsey held her boy in her arms and stared unblinkingly at the television screen. The flickering motions and colors blended together as she tried to focus the rushing panic of her thoughts.

They were out of money for the month. All the bills were paid, but the food was thin in the fridge and on the shelves. There was a good chance that they’d be enjoying flour soup a couple times before she’d again be able to afford groceries.

/EXCERPT

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“He was the man in black. The stolid face of grinding bureacracy…”

For A Little While sideshot: He was the man in black. The stolid face of grinding bureaucracy, telling the proletariats that they needed to live a certain way or a very stern “Or Else” was implied.

Some incarnation of Phil had been walking around since the beginning of the organization, way back in the dark days of S.H.I.E.L.D., of S.W.O.R.D., of A.T.L.A.S., or of I.R.I.S. Every organization as far back as memory reached had had their own version of Phil. His genotype has existed since the beginning. And with the merging, there were hundreds of Phils filling the hives beneath the city.

They were sent out to handle the troubles of the agencies, garnering Phil the reputation of being at every situation everywhere. He was a LEGEND! to the people out there. From what the message boards implied, he was in the same league as the Arthur’s, the Charlie’s, and the Tony’s.

It would have been a heady knowledge, if Phil92 had known that he was not the original Phil. If he’d had any inkling that nearly everything he believed about his childhood had been a lie.

But he didn’t know.

He was currently living and working as Agent P872-549, alias Landon James. He hadn’t been back to base in more than 15 years. He doubted there was anyone working there that even remembered his real name anymore.

He’d been Landon for so long that he was probably going to die under the name. His family would mourn at an empty tomb and never know what had really happened to him.

It should have made him sad. And in a way it kind of did. But mostly he was resigned to it.

His job was important. He was saving lives. What was a bit of personal misery compared to that?

Phil sighed and hauled himself out of bed to face another day as Landon, personal assistant for the Secretary of the Union.

*
A. Phil clones, like the azi.

B. Each of the Phils is a person that has been Conditioned to be that person. They were snatched up off the street, offered tons of money to have their faces changed, then spent the rest of their lives as a Phil, loaded with various skillsets.

C. Phil died for a lot longer than he realizes. When he was brought back, it was deemed inadvisable to tell him what had happened. His memory was modified through surgery–a lasering away of the various memory strings–and he was assigned to a new team and a new life, believing that he’s Phil pretending to be Landon, while he’s really Landon thinking he’s Phil pretending to be Landon.

ROUGH PROMPT: Let’s wait three months and go to Octoberfest

This is the prompt that I’m working on at the moment. It’s currently a WIP, but it’s getting there.


Let’s wait three months and go to Octoberfest.”- The Professor, Futurama.

That’s a nice segueway right there.

A. The Professor is the protagonist of the story. He offers the narrative that moves things along.

A1. The crew is all dead. They died during the various adventures and he was unable to bring them back correctly.

The first few times he’d operated them like meat suits. There had been free-will algorithms running to keep things interesting, but it was basically like they were still normal. The personalities were intact. (Storyline A)

Then there had been more accidents. More terrible events that he probably could have stopped if he’d had time to think things through. But their adventures were always so fast moving. There was never a single moment to stop and take a breath. (Storyline B)

* * *
Storyline A —

A: In a future where human brains–the wetware part of the equation–are so closely tied to the hardware–the Great Machine State–that it’s near to impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. There comes a moment in time where there is no discernible difference between the organic brain and the vat-grown cyber-organic implants.

Legally and actually, a Consciousness is to receive the same treatment whether they are Bodied or Bodiless. There have been numerous instances of Damage reports filed against corporations and individuals that insist on flouting the law. They are fined, and their name goes on a list. Most don’t care to be caught again, and try to avoid it.

There is a list of Mentally Damaging Individuals. It’s a collection of all the reports filed across the two States of people that habitually abuse their employees or the people around them. The mods clip out the useless reports, keeping the serial offenders on their main page. It’s not an officially sanctioned site, but the government allows it.

INFO: The two States — Bodied and Bodiless. The Earth has been Unified for 15 years. There were some people that had known no different life.

* * *
Storyline B –

B: To eat a burrito and relax.

That was the only thing he wanted to do.

But life gets hard sometimes. One minute you’re going to school and getting an education, the next you’re standing in a convenience store about to be shot, your burrito still revolving around inside the microwave.

He stood with his arms loose at his sides, his hands palm-out and obviously not reaching. (B1)

*

B1: And damn did he want to reach for his gun. He could feel the weight of it right there, easily within his reach.

But there were civilians around. He didn’t trust himself not to get someone dead.

He was no hero.

He’d signed up for the Army straight out of high school, and it had been a last chance option for a registered fuck up. He’d been the kid that always got things wrong, and that included hanging out with the wrong influencers–the twins hadn’t gone to juvie, their daddy was much too rich for that.

No, he’d been the poverty kid, the one with no other choices: 2 months in juvie followed by two years in the Army, or 2 months in juvie followed by 25 years in the Richard Deacon Private Funded Correctional Facility of Fort Ima (or as others called it, Hell on Earth).

He’d done the Army thing and found that he liked the lifestyle. There was something about a more regimented schedule that agreed with him–his parents had been too slack with him. They would give him money and tell him to entertain himself while they lived their own lives. It took military training to have him waking up everyday with the confidence of knowing exactly where he was going and how he was going to get there.

And after the Army, he’d been recruited by the Project. (B2) He’d learned so many different things and fought in so many different scenarios. (B3)

His life had ballooned out into something larger than any dreams he’d once had.

He’d somehow lucked out into the perfect life for him. He had no idea how it’d happened, but he’d somehow lucked into the perfect life for him. It was as though every person and place had been crafted together just for him. (B4)

*

B2: He wasn’t supposed to know, but it was some kind of gateway to other worlds. They were still speculating on whether it only visited alternate Earths, or if those were actually other planets out in the universe. Which raised some serious concerns about parallel evolution.

Because either every race out there developed human characteristics naturally, or someone had been doing some tinkering.

*

B3: Dream manipulation. Dream thieves.

People that could reach right into your brain and pluck out the first thought you’d ever had. It was an exciting and terrifying new technology. It was also highly illegal to anyone that hadn’t earned their certification in safe Dreaming.

Bands of so-called Rogues dig into peoples’ heads and steal the secrets they find inside. The criminals make life hard for legal Dreamers.

*

B4: The last thing Tyler had ever wanted to do was rob a convenience store. But it was the only way to get Alphard to wake up from his Occluded state.

Tyler had been sent into the Dream world to try and talk Alphard into hitting his Eject Button.

If things worked out, Alphard would hit his Button, his Consciousness would return to his Body, and he would wake up. But if things went bad, the doctors were talking about doing a hard reboot, hoping that the momentary Body death would jerk Alphard’s Consciousness back where it belonged.

Tyler had seen what happened to some people after they’d been rebooted. Even the ones that suffered the least trauma still seemed different, changed.

Dying did something to a person. And coming back only solidified the changes and made them real.

Tyler didn’t want Alphard to go through a reboot. Not if he was available to fix things.

Which was why he was standing in a convenience store in an eerily cheery small town with a gun in his hand. He needed to add some conflict to Alphard’s Dream. It was the easiest way to kickstart Alphard’s mind before the approach and the reveal.

Tyler didn’t want to see the guy’s brain implode. Not only would it be terrible to Alphard’s mental state, but being caught in a collapsing Dream was a terrifying thing.

The oldtimers tried to say that Dreams were not real and couldn’t hurt people, but Tyler had to disagree. Even if there were no physical wounds, a person’s Consciousness could be damaged. He’d seen the tattered holes punched through his own soul; the spots where his armor hadn’t held.

Early Dream tech had let people make mistakes and experiment. Modern Dream tech could nearly take someone’s head off with its power and intensity.

Tyler had his settings turned down by default. But young kids–and Alphard–tended to crank the synch settings to max so they could fully experience the false reality of the Dreaming. In most scenarios, the person has a hard time telling Dream from reality and ends up either cutting off Dreamtime and going to rehab, or fully integrating into the Dual State.

And then there was Alphard’s situation. His stupidly deadly situation that could have so easily been avoided with the use of some common sense.

When this was all over (B5), Tyler would be having a serious talk to Alphard. He had already started semi-planning out the things he would say.

He refused to think that he might fail to get Alphard home. He had to believe that everything would work out.

“All right, this is a stick up!” he called out loudly.

He would be the best antagonist Alphard had ever known. And he would get his sorta-friend to wake up.

*

B5: When this is all over, if this is all over, I’m going to be a better person. The sort of person that other people look up to and admire.

I’d bought my Dream Box secondhand, and I can tell why the original owner had sold it. There were some definite slippages happening with the synch guides.

I wasn’t too worried (they’re just Dreams. There’s nothing there that can hurt me), but it’s weird to have the sensitivity jump from medium-soft to extra-hard, full-contact levels.

It’s lucky that I don’t enjoy horror mods or activity mods. Having full sensory input while undergoing a murder scene would be horrible. I don’t even like watching that kind of thing as a specter. Being actually hurt, even with the safety features to keep the pain from getting too real, was not something I was into.

In fact, I’d been prescribed Dreamtime to help with my social anxiety.

I’m supposed to interact with the Simulicra of a socializing mod. They’re to teach me how to be a normal person, and I’m supposed to show improvement at my next mental health review.

If things go well, I’ll be getting out. Back on the street where I belong, with real people and real situations, and food that doesn’t come out of a tube.

When this is all over, I am going to buy a real meal in a real restaurant. I am going to enjoy every single bite and reaffirm that the flavors I crave aren’t just from my imagination.

I am ready to really live my life.

“Oh man, I can’t make no Medicare co-payment…”

FUTURAMA (the episode where the Professor takes up Dimensional Drifting. Which, by the way, could be an awesome concept if done correctly. See bottom for more detail.) — So while he’s zooming off and racing, why not just turn around and go home? Is that guy going to be able to chase you down to where you live?

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — I heard that Japanese police won’t chase you down when you’re racing, they’ll just take pictures and show up at your house the next day. Those cars drive so fast that it’s a worse danger chasing them down.

RANDOM THOUGHT: I would hate driving around in the future equivalent of a family van. I’d prefer the shady lifestyle of Firefly with a tad less danger. Just tooling around the galaxy in my spaceship enjoying myself, then coming home to a normal house.

*

PROMPT: MC’s younger brother is into speed racing, and MC lets Brother soup up his vehicle. Then later when the action happens, he’s able to pull out the speed stops and break out of danger.

– MC is a normal guy that finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, and he shows a remarkable competence.

Yesterday he was sitting around his house watching the clock, waiting for his favorite show to start. Today he was in a desperate race to save his own life.

Thank God Maxie was such a gear head.

Rey had felt like disaster could strike at any moment, but he’d let Maxie work on his car. The kid had babbled for days about different adjustments he wanted to make on Rey’s Mock Faive. He’d been so excited that Rey couldn’t say no.

And now, because of Maxie’s upgrade, the Mock Faive — which had started out as a standard model with floor mats as the only luxury — was outrunning the squad of Law Officers that were screaming after him down the highway, their lights flashing farther and farther away in his rearview mirror.

“How the fuck is this happening?!” Tiny yelled from the passenger seat.

“Thank Maximilian. He gave the old Mock Faive a work over.” Rey neatly shifted and slid across the lane as smooth as he’d always dreamed of driving — it made him glance at his speedometer, his lips twitching as he held back an exuberant grin.

Sure, the cops were probably going to be waiting at his place to impound his car and ship him off to jail, but he couldn’t even care at this point. He was having the greatest adventure of his life, and he’d always promised himself (while watching movies, dreaming that he was Action Guy instead of Stable and Dependable Guy) that if he ever found himself in an adventure situation he would live the moment to the fullest.

He just prayed he didn’t end up sent to actual prison at the end of the night. A few days in jail was one thing. Something going onto his permanent record was something else.

There was a pained moan from the backseat. He risked a peek in the rear view mirror and saw the girl’s sweaty, pained face in the mirror. She was curled around her brother/boyfriend/dirty age-mate friend with her fingers digging into his jean-clad leg with desperate strength. Her dark brown hair hung in straggles against her face, sticking to her bloody, tooth-ripped lips as they opened in panting cries.

Her stomach was huge! Rey thought he glimpsed a ripple passing under the taut green tee shirt. That baby was about to pop.

“Where do I go?” he asked, taking a quick Exit in the hopes of avoiding drone coverage. If he were lucky, they’d amass along the highway routes, and he’d be able to slip past the whole mess before they realized he’d left the main road for a while.

“I don’t know,” the boy’s voice was painfully young and terrified. It made something ache in Rey’s chest — which was strange, since he’d never been the kind to care much for the woes of other people. The only ones he was warm to were members of his own family. Yet here he was risking imprisonment and Forced Re-Conditioning for a couple of runaway teenagers that had babbled some crazy story at him when he’d pulled over to check on them.

The boy’s rambling story, spoken much too fast to completely comprehend, had probably been lies, though he’d sensed enough from them both to know they were in bad trouble. They were on the run, chased by dangerous people that wanted the girl and her baby. That was all Rey needed to know, especially when he’d gotten a good look at the girl and seen how beat up she was.

Both of the kids were showing wounds on the exposed portions of their skin. It was mostly bruises on their faces, minor but painful looking marks, but there were cuts on their arms and hands as well as mysterious dark patches on their clothes. He only had to look in their eyes to see that they were in desperate need of saving.

It had been a no-brainer to let them in his car and start driving. Though he’d been terrified when those Company goons showed up and tried to run them off the road. It had only gotten worse when they’d pulled out an armory’s worth of weapons.

He’d never seen himself as a wheel man, but he’d outrun those Company cruisers and the Law Officers as well. It was kind of exciting.

“Seriously, where are we taking you guys?” he asked. “Because Tiny and I cannot get any more involved with your situation. Sorry, but we have families and lives.” “We… Can you take us to Bolston? Our uncle is waiting for us,” the boy said.

“Bolston, huh?” Rey looked at his gauge, checking to see that he had enough fuel to make it. He was glad to see that he had more than enough. “Yeah, we can drop you off.”

“Thank you,” the boy said. “Thank you so much for…” “Stop it. You’re making me uncomfortable. Let me just get you to Bolston.” Rey quickly put the commands into his Navi and the console began clearly stating directions. “It’s going to be forty-five minutes. How’s the girl doing?”

“Sha–“

“Ah, ah, ah, I don’t want to know any names!” Tiny shouted, covering his ears with his fingers.

“… She’s going to be okay. The baby wants to come, but I think we’re going to make it to our uncle before it starts really happening.”

“Good.” Rey focused on driving, switching on the music to drown out the girl’s loud pained breathing and whimpers. There was nothing he could do for her, and he couldn’t afford to be distracted from his driving.

Once he was sure they were far enough away from the Law Officers, he slowed down to regulation speed and hit the Camo Function on his dashboard. The color of the car didn’t really change, it was just a slight shifting of the armor scales that would make the paint shimmer a different hue, but he thought it would help. His car was no longer moving at blurring speed and the color would seem more plum than dark maroon. To the average eye witness, his car would probably be seen as a near navy blue.

Rey was beginning to enjoy the drive ahead. Though he couldn’t help some slight worries about his upholstery even with the towels he’d given the kids. It made him feel petty to be concerned about his car interior when people had tried to kill them, but a good detailing would put him over his monthly budget.

Shifting gears, he focused on the road spread out through his windshield. There were the lights of a town approaching, but they’d be able to drive right passed it. If things went right, they’d reach Bolston before 9 p.m.

Rey shifted his hands on the steering wheel and mouthed the words of the song playing through the stereo. It was something so normal that it relaxed some of his nerves. He was able to believe that everything was going to be all right.

All he needed to do was drive.

Rey = Reynaldo
Maxie = Maximilian

My trees are pollinating

The maple trees are sending out little white and yellow specks of dust. Just a rippling tide floating out of the air. Tiny dry specks that can be blown away.

I should write that. A society so advanced they use plants to breed. Your DNA added to some beautiful tropical flower and allowed to pollinate other flowers. Then a zygote for human implantation or budding pops out. To walk in and see a baby suspended in a large pod, floating nourished in a fluid filled pocket.

It’s like Aeon Flux in the connection to nature.

I wonder why people don’t breed plants as organic machines.
Genetically modified to do whatever we want naturally.

I’m not seeing living spaceships quite yet — how long can a giant clam hold its breath? — but I can imagine sting shooter plants, oxygen mask plants that fit over your face, and living houses with edible carpet and walls (think Chia with like hemp seed worthy growth.) People would never have to be hungry or homeless again.

Of course, before we have a bunch of botany miracles we need to be able to handle our pesticides. Our worst science seems to be the unsafe testing of chemicals and the release of horrible toxins without knowing the results. So I could imagine the horror of coming back to your house dead, one side just withered and nearly burned away.

And if you had a plant house, you’d have to be careful what you ran down the drain. The house would use your gray water as nourishment, so you would have to watch what soaps you used to keep from killing it with chemicals. Maybe it would always be richly oxygenated too? Though hopefully not to spark equals explosion levels.

Honestly, the future seems scary to me.

***

Read slashy plotty stories at Kimichee.

***

“Heroes & Villains,” an mm superhero action adventure novel, is coming out August 14th from Less Than Three Press.

The typical story of a boy dreaming of being a superhero … Then getting pissed off and throwing it all away to become the world’s most legendary supervillain.

Darkstar x Blue Ice.
You know you want some.