Some of the Things I Need to Say

Some of the things I need to say, and the ways in which I wish to say them…

In words and art and action, I send myself into the world, all the while receiving it back. This is Full-Duplex living; an ongoing process of back-and-forth, a multi-media educational experience with a monthly (and hefty) subscription fee. I’m very often in arrears.

Take a look at my screen (already aging):

Capture

Pardon my French, but what the hell.

This is the two-way window I choose to use to make sense of my world. Things spill off the edges and onto a desktop, in a constant state of rearrangement – folders stuffed into folders of things I hope to get to later. I didn’t bother capturing those – the desktop goes on forever, in every direction. There’s not enough coffee in the world the fuel even the most cursory exploration of this ever-expanding space. Maybe I have the wrong drink.

Why am I here? It’s the most well-worn question we have, I’ll wager. Technology, is seems, has done nothing to bring us any closer to the answer, but we can share the screenshots with each other as we try, with great expediency!

This screenshot represents a single human mind trying to hold itself to one task, while being pulled in every other direction. Do I learn more before I speak? Do I inquire more before I act? I emote and express and produce, in an effort to filter and curate these countless things I’m on the hook to understand better, so next time it might all go a bit more smoothly.

Two-eyed seeing.

A new Editor to help me level up my layout.

Settings that await changing.

Hidden items at the fringes, to be revisited, someday.

The book in front of me (not pictured), temporarily abandoned mid-chapter to make time for emails in need of reading and writing.

This post.

TOREADs, helpfully pushed aside, perhaps indefinitely.

Videos, Books, and Companies.

Things and People to LinkInto.

A snapshot of a mind struggling with its own I/O responsibilities ^^^

Who is waiting for me to say what? What is waiting for me to learn how? How does any of this stuff matter more than anything else?

Maybe I should just be out in nature, breathing air, pumping blood, and feeling like a proper animal, properly unconcerned with things that have nothing whatsoever immediate to do with simply making it through another day.

There must be an app for this. Something to help make decisions about which of all of the important things are the most important of all. A problem of timing, and priorities, and decisions.

Do you recall those Choose Your Own Adventure games of recent yore? What kind of lessons did that format mean to impart? The choice of which door to take – the North one or the East one? The decision of whether to drink the potion, or apply it to your sword, or leave it where you found it? The option to trust the traveling merchant, or to say a quick farewell, and then be on your way?

Every choice leads to a new page, and then leaves some others to go unread.

Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for this ride (here comes the Metaphor Mixing again), and I’m seeing it through. Whether I’ll have the option to get back in line and try again – and whether I’ll have enough tokens to do so (and the interest in even spending them) – remains to be seen, on some other side.

For now, I’m still learning to ride the ride.

– Mike, on one-too-many coffees!

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No More Applesauce

An image of a Mana Architect

“Young Niall is writing a speculative future fiction story, and I am preparing to read it at The Kinder Gardener’s Childcare, Tech Hub, and Retirement Villa”, informed Bee to her Grandniece Maevis, after the girl had grabbed the sheets of paper from Bee with her jelly-filled hands, and asked her what she was doing, spitting the question all over the pages through a mouthful of crumbs.

The young woman was only minutes in the door after coming home from college for Christmas break, and she was already smearing substances everywhere she could get her hands on, which every year, included more and more surfaces of Bee’s house. Maeve had shot up a full five inches since Bee had last seen her that Summer.

Crumbs-and-applesauce had been the odd girl’s favourite mid-day snack since her second day of first grade, thirteen years ago to this day. Do that math. That’s a lot of applesauce.

They didn’t have applesauce in the college cafeteria, and Maeve had already been missing it quite badly. She told Bee she thought she might be getting the shakes, in fact, to which Bee tut-tutted quite disapprovingly. Maeve hadn’t seen her Grandaunt in months, and all the child could think about was raiding the old woman’s kitchen. Hers. With her food in it. Bee had always been protective of her food. She did not much like that about herself, but there you are.

“There is no more applesauce, Maevis. That was the last bit. I threw out all the rest. They had molds. You opened every single jar I had that last visit, I think”. Bee tried to brush the crumb-jelly from Niall’s manuscript. The boy would most certainly notice.

Maeve snorted, because Bee liked to count molds, as though they were individuals, rather than one unfortunate thing you either had someplace or you didn’t. She hauled open a cupboard and began the Great Rummaging. “I’ll get more later at Too-Toonies. I gotta go drop this… Thing off for Niall and Blueberry before I head over to Normand’s.” She was holding something large and box-like under one arm, appearing to be wrapped in foil and rubber bands.

“Two kinds of molds, Maevis.” Bee re-stated. “Two. That’s two-too many molds to have in one’s applesauce, or any other thing.” The elder woman had put the sheets safely aside, and was now at the kitchen island (“The Isle of Hamm” is what Maeve called it), a butter knife held calmly in one gentle fist, and a soap-cloth clenched quite firmly in the other. Old Dooley was already lumbering down the long, narrow, central back hallway, where he enjoyed spending most days rolling lazily around, slowly following the sun patch as it crossed and stretched its way across the weathered and paint-stained wood flooring. His second-favourite past time these days was licking soap off the kitchen floor, a thing that happened more often when Maeve was around, he had long ago noted. He yawned a hello in Maeve’s general direction.

“Heya, Drools”, Maeve cheerfully slammed the cupboard, cracking something delicate on the other side, and strode across the kitchen to the immaculate sink, to begin filling it with things she would soon smear with the various applesauce alternatives she had just found. She scratched Dooley on the way by, which he huffed at. He wasn’t fond of of that nickname, at all. In all the years he had followed her around patiently, and waited for her to come home patiently, protected her from being possibly abducted (once or twice), and slept on her cold feet patiently (only to get kicked repeatedly in the head all night long,) and all those many other things… Maeve never once seemed to clue in that he knew what she was saying, almost always. In a dog manner, at least. He found the soap spill near Bee’s feet, and started working away at it – being perhaps a whit more careful not to drool any of it, out of principle.

Bee had moved on, to go close the cupboard Maeve had just slammed. There was a trick to getting it to not pop back out. She had meant to ask Bently to fix that, before… well. She put down the butter knife, aligning it perfectly with the counter splash guard, entirely out of habit.

“Maevis.”

Maeve half turned, eyebrow slightly cocked, a Move she had been working on. “Beatrice”, she countered. She was crumbling an entire loaf of white bread into a bowl now, but had paused mid-crumble. The house ants were already sending signals back to the Queen that the Maevis girl had returned, even taller, and considerably hungrier. There would be celebrations for days, which, bear in mind, is a lifetime for most ants. Some would come to call Maeve’s visit that year as the Age of Plenty.

“Maevis, we need to talk.” Bee said, plainly.

Maeve’s eyes shot a quick glance around the room, spoon poised over an open Nutella jar, and half-whispered, somewhat conspiratorially, “I think we might be already. Talking, I mean.

“Maeve. I’m being serious. Stop trying to be funny quite so constantly. It’s tiring for an old woman.”

Maeve Morgan Laughed Out Loud. The idea of Aunt Bee… getting tired… that was the joke. Except Maeve also knew Bee wasn’t joking, and she knew it almost immediately, which was concerning. She always knew when Bee had said a True Thing, and she could sense the elder woman was tired, maybe for the first time, in quite that way. Had this happened over the last five months? She spooned more Nutella into the breadcrumb bowl than she had first meant to.

“Aunty Bee-”

“Grandaunt.”

“Grandaunty Bee, you know I’m just like this because I have the ADHD, right? And I left my meds in the dorm – maybe on purpose – and I’m on Christmas – sorry, holiday – vacation… and I’m just really happy to see you and Dooley -” (Dooley had followed the soap trail to Beatrice, who was still clutching the soap-cloth, which was still dripping lemon-flavoured soap, his second-favourite kind) “- and I’m also happy to finally not have any schoolwork, for, like, two whole weeks. I brought so many books to read I have absolutely no space left on my ReKindle”.

Bee did not know what that was, but she would ask B.B. to “Google it” later for her, a thing she was also not so sure about. The world was changing too quickly these days, she couldn’t remember where or when she was, half the time or more.

“Well, I’m glad you’re still reading. I worry about children – I’m sorry, I meant young people – today. You spend so much time with computers, I wonder when you find time to keep up your reading skills. Also, you do not have ADHD. You have creative spirit, but you should still follow your doctor’s advice about taking your medications regularly.”

Maeve scrunched her face slightly, not quite sure how to respond to any of that. She scooped in some peanut butter packets she found in Bee’s Kitchen Accessory drawer. Bee looked away, her stomach turned a half knot.

“I need my ginger ale…” the old woman queasily half-spoke to herself, tottering off toward the walk-in pantry (“The Food Vault”, in Maeve’s mind and imagination).

Dooley finished the soap cleanup and stepped over to Maeve’s leg, leaning in for a good scratch, before he would retire for the day back to the sun room / art studio. Maeve’s hand met his furry old head reflexively. “Drools, you are a Dog Among Dogs.” Dooley knew that already, having been told it on countless occasions, but it still warmed his old heart to hear his human daughter say it. Every single time.

Maeve watched her Grandaunt Beatrice swing the pantry’s door open, and gingerly step in, in search for the Ginger ale, which she normally hid masterfully from Maeve whenever the girl came to visit. The woman wasn’t even trying to hide that she had some in there, and that wasn’t like her at all.

Don’t change our thing, Aunt Bee, please. I still need it. Maeve thought she only thought that, but it came out in a small whisper anyway, to herself. She had been practicing the art of Speaking Good Thoughts at Short Distances, ever since she had read Great Step-Uncle Bently’s weird wizard notebook, which she found and mostly photocopied last Summer break. The old man left stuff everywhere,which was why Bee would send him away for a while, before eventually letting him come back. Maeve hadn’t had time yet to ask if Bently was in the house, or somewhere else for the holidays.

“Niall is writing speculative fiction?” Maeve mumbled to herself, stuffing half of a PBNS (Peanut Butter and Nutella Sammich) into her mouth, chewing thoughtfully. She hadn’t seen Niall at all last Christmas – that is Holiday – break. She felt slightly sad about that, being honest with herself, as she was now actively practicing at doing more of. Maeve hated fiction – she had always been on record as hating it. She wondered what Niall had written about.

Dooley gave her hand a knowing lick, extracting what Nutella, bread and peanut butter traces he could, and then tottered off toward the long, narrow, central-back hallway to the sunniest and sparkliest room in all of Elder Falls. Maeve watched him go, hiked the awkwardly wrapped tinfoil and rubber-band package up on her hip, grabbed the bowl of Sammich Supplies she had scavenged from Bee’s cupboards, and headed upstairs to do some serious thinking.

When the kitchen had emptied of the fuss of people and their worries and concerns, it would often breathe a long and silent sigh of relief. It expanded as it relaxed, in fact, but not so much that any measuring device in the house might ever notice. Old houses breathe – this is well known. We do not often ascribe reasons for them to do so, but that does not mean they don’t have their reasons. Maevis was home for another Winter visit, and the Old Grey Lady could stop worrying so much about her, if only for a week and a day.

The second wave of advanced scout Ants had just arrived, scurrying quickly from the tall toaster, to better assess the situation around the sink and surroundings. It was even better than They could have expected. The Queens would be Most Pleased.

Calling All Writers! Our Short Story Contest is Now Open For Submissions

A Global Divergent Literary Collective

The Contest is officially open!

Since its inception in 2016, The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective has had the privilege of featuring some of today’s most fearless writers. With members that span the globe and editors who share a passion for pushing boundaries, we as a collective have enjoyed reading, promoting, and watching the success of each individual artist as they have grown in their craft and left their mark upon the literary world.

Now, as writers and readers, editors and fans, we at Sudden Denouement Literary Collective are ecstatic to open up the doors to our outstanding, award winning collective, and invite you all in to pull up a chair and tell us your stories.

The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, are pleased to dip our toes into the waters of great literary contests and announce our first ever short story literary prize with a call for…

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What Most to Expect Whilst Being Consumed

I wanted to write something scary – or possibly even horrifying – for Halloween, but writing to disturb has run somewhat counter to my nature up to this point, and I found it weirdly difficult to not inject humour and some amount of hope. I stalled, then I wrote this lead-in, and now I will complete it, albeit in abridged, redacted form. WARNING: It is a bit disturbing, at least to me. This is why I cannot be a horror fiction writer, or for that matter, a field reporter of any kind.


Of the many and varied books one might happen across while browsing the cramped aisles of Frumpwart’s Rare Books at the edge of town, the most controversial and sought-after must surely be the limited edition copy of the handbook titled, What Most to Expect Whilst Being Consumed, the Horridly Abridged Version (by Sundry & Posthumous Authors Unknown).

The compact and unassuming field guide catalogs, in frequently vivid and unsettling detail, what the reader might wish to prepare themselves for, in the event of being captured and then eaten alive by any number of creatures – both monstrous and mundane – that might be found in the high, middling, and low places of the Westfarian Isles.

The book’s price is frankly absurd, as the shop’s owner, Elias Frumpwart, has never much wanted to part with the thing, and quite possibly never will. It lures curious customers from all corners of the realm, through his shop’s ever-open front door. Elias, it would seem, does not sleep.

abstract background branch bright
Stock Photo that is supposed to be creepy and indicative of a scary, spooky forest. Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

 

I shall now read for you the entry on the Moribund Toad, which is not in fact a toad at all, but a being somewhat resembling one:

Moribund Toad – Subterranean, Nocturnal Hedgewilder
Average Dimensions: 1-2 Arms x 1-2 Arms x 2-3 Arms

The Moribund Toad, known for its pallid and lethargic hide, faint and continuous reek of decay, and ever-woeful expression, inhabits the dankest of places, where it can sit in peace and contemplate the cruelty of inescapable mortality.

Rarely moving at all once it has found a spot from which to hunt (which is more of a mind-numbing wait punctuated by a sudden, horrifying lashing-out of its powerful tongue, a thing capable of reaching 24 or more arms in length), the Moribund Toad is perhaps the most patient hunter in the Isles. It often forgets to eat, in fact, so preoccupied it can become with self-loathing and pity.

Little warning is typically to be found in and around the Moribund Toad’s hunting places, given it digests fully its meals, and releases the waste entirely through its oily, porous, translucent skin as a faintly poisonous mist. Since it moves nearly not at all, it can easily be mistaken for a large, frowning stone. Creatures with particularly good olfactory sense might detect it through scent, which is why the more clever individuals of its kind choose environments chock full of unpleasant smells, in order to mask their own.

If the Moribund Toad detects a Victim in its tongue-range before the Victim senses the danger (and the Toad has a clear shot, which it nearly always does), there is little to be done; silvered, serrated carving knives are the only known and commonly-affordable tool capable of cutting the thing, and then only with a great deal of effort.

The Victim of the Toad’s tongue grapple should most certainly wish to be caught by the skull, for then the ordeal will most often be over quickly enough. The alternatives are generally far worse. [the remainder of the abridged version’s three-page description of the sundry ways in which the Victim might be slowly dealt with and toyed with by the Toad, if not killed outright, are redacted in this particular article, out of respect for the families of those taken by the Moribund Toad, especially the townsfolk of Cranberry Bleaks, where the Moribund Toad population often gets quite out of control, especially around late October].

Exactly how the manual’s research was accomplished and then dutifully reported on – often up to and quite past the point where the researcher would be even capable of continuing to take notes – is a mystery that will perhaps never be resolved.

-B.N.


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Foot Stomp.

I’m having a bummer weekend and have been trying to pretend that I’m not. Doing that is frequently expensive.

[I then proceeded to list various things that I felt where at fault, and causing my weekend to be a bummer. In each case, I had to concede the bullet point was not as bad as I was making it out to be. This created a list that was taking up space but saying very little; like I couldn’t even get complaining right. Who would want to read that (or this?)? So I removed the list of complaints. You’re welcome.]

My Published Things still somewhat outnumber my Drafted Things:

scorecard

I don’t know what these stats might say about my productivity – possibly nothing. For the reader’s amusement(?), here is the full list of draft titles:


Foot Stomp. [A draft at the time of this writing, but now no longer drafty]
Compendium: Greater Society II
Other Somethings
Game Knights @ Uncle Norm’s
The Neverpresently infamous TippingJar
Hand me that Ratchey-RiggamaJigger
All in Bees’ Good Time
Character Study: Branchlii Booknard

Open Ideating
A Considerable Audience
I/O Ewes
EllisBeth Shore and the Low Slowly Drake
The very first user story
The Short Step
The Trust Pokes Just Right Through You
Job Journal I
The Young TwentySomethings
“We need a little more Han Solo”
You Mean to Have It Then, Won’t You?
The Elder Fellers
Open Source Ideas
Principle III (a less-inspired post)
Roles of youth in Peace-building [Guest Author: Deng William Alaak]
What do I know about South Sudan?
TOWRITE
Paranoia
Toughtlings
Untitled
The Future of Everything
Give the Gods a littleMore Hope.!
On the Accumulation of Positive Privilege
Somethings
Straight-Forward Sketch Fiction : Part Ia
HEAVY LITTLE ROCKET

An idea this just made me have: I will finish the next Draft according to reader vote, or, in the absence of a vote count, random die roll. One vote of a pool of one vote is 100% of the votes, according to Math (and Math is no common liar), so go for it, Dear Reader! Control my actions like a Puppet Writer. Is PuppetWriter.com taken yet? It is not.

When I get Writer’s Block, I write sideways. >>>


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