Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Shiniest Pigeon, Pt. 4

Of course, Sam had always told himself “tomorrow.” More than a few people had told him that that was his problem, that that was the thing that was wrong with him. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. That wasn’t exactly it, though. It was that nothing ever looked worthy of commiting to. Every situation he encountered, he felt the same: a momentary surge of some emotion within himself, anger or jealousy or sadness or happiness, and then it receded and he was left with the same dull apathy he felt almost every moment of his waking life.

He wanted a real job, but not badly enough to go on interviews. He longed for a comfortable place to sleep, but he was not so uncomfortable that he wanted to go through the hassle of finding a shelter bed.. The tracks looked inviting, but not inviting enough to lay down on them and await the end.

Tomorrow. Maybe things would be different tomorrow. But nothing ever was, and he knew it.

At least, the day started the same. He woke up, scavenged for food, begged for money, bought a breakfast sandwich that would likely be his only meal of the day. And then he took to the subway tunnels. He rode the cars. Sometimes he sat on benches and people watched. He picked up the newspapers and magazines that the riders discarded, looking for things to read. Looking for ways to pass the time.

Night came, although the light never changed in the tunnels. He was considering trying to sleep on a bench, wondering if he’d be able to get a few hours before someone came and insisted he leave. That was when he saw it. A lone pigeon, a french fry in its mouth, an unnatural confidence in its step. It was walking straight towards him on two good legs, not eating its fry, not darting its head nervously around looking for predators and competitions. It walked towards him like it knew who he was.

And oh, it was beautiful.

“Ralph?” Sam asked, his voice barely a whisper. “Ralph, is that you?”

It must have been. It walked in between his legs, sat on the ground underneath the bench, cooed, pecked at the french fry. Sam stared in disbelief, his mind rushing to reconcile what he was seeing with his knowledge of reality. Pigeons don’t just grow their feet back. Ralph had probably died, been eaten by a cat or kicked by an angry passenger or else just accidentally trampled underfoot. Or maybe simply passed away. Pigeons in the wild didn’t live more than a few years. But here it was, its feathers shiny, its eyes and its skin bright, its body plump.

It had changed. It had changed for the better. Sam didn’t understand it, but somehow in this unnatural and oppressive place, Ralph had become something better. Something more whole. Something more beautiful. Maybe any pigeon could. Maybe anything could.

Maybe he could.

“Ralph,” Sam whispered. “Ralph, I’m going to find a real bed. I’m going to try and get a bed at a shelter. But I’ll be back, okay? I’ll see you again. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

The end! I have no idea why I was writing about pigeons. Expect something less avian on Friday!

The Shiniest Pigeon, Pt. 3

Two weeks. It passed like water torture. Sam remembered being a kid once, dropping ketamine in the mall because when you’re young and stupid, what else are you going to do? Try and have a good trip? No, of course not. You’re going to act on whatever stupid impulse comes to your mind, and that’s how you end up staggering around a mall sliding in and out of a k-hole, convinced the other patrons are zombies, the Romero kind, slow slow slow, but you’re even slower somehow.

That was two weeks without Ralph. Slow, slow, slow. Trying to escape from monsters that weren’t really there, but your brain is too fucked up to accept otherwise. There were no zombies, but every other person in the subway system became a slithering sliding creature. They stared at him alternately distastefully and hungrily. He wanted to say, No, no, I am not meat, I am not slime, I am a human being with human needs, but instead he just muttered under his breath and kept to himself and was left alone.

It was just as well, he supposed. He’d never been one for human interaction. If he had been, he wouldn’t have spent his teens and his twenties in a narcotic haze. He never would have gone underground. He never would have turned to a bird for companionship. Human interaction was just something he’d never really wanted.

The truth was, Sam didn’t want much of anything these days. He spent his days aimlessly riding back and forth, and in the moments where he was outside of a subway car, he looked longingly at the tracks. So quick. So efficient. He had some small measure of sympathy for those who would be inconvenienced by his decisions, but not much. They wouldn’t be his problem. Nothing would ever be his problem.

Tomorrow, he told himself. Tomorrow.

The Shiniest Pigeon, Pt. 2

A week passed without Sam seeing Ralph. He still came down to the subway every day, because where else was he going to go? He wasn’t meant for the outside, he knew. He wasn’t the kind of person who found much comfort in spending his days cooking in the sun, nights sleeping under the stars.

He’d met a few people like that back when he’d first lost everything. They were younger, mostly. More idealistic. More naïve. They saw the whole thing as a grand adventure, and themselves as temporarily inconvenienced at worst, engaged in some strange and challenging and ultimately uplifting spiritual journey at best.

But that wasn’t Sam. Instead, he had identified most with the guy that kept calling himself Meat and wept because when he waved his hands around and spoke gibberish, the animals in the park wouldn’t come and talk to him.

Sam hoped that guy was doing okay. He’d seemed really lonely. Sam had been lonely too, of course, but that guy clearly hadn’t known how to deal with it. Not like Sam. Sam knew exactly how to deal with it. You just went underground to the subway, to trains, to the tracks. That was exactly what he was going to do the day he met Ralph, in fact. He’d gone underground to cure himself of his loneliness. And in a way, he had. He’d found a kindred spirit in a bird. Ralph had its physical deformity and Sam had his spiritual one. They’d bonded despite speaking no common tongue. Just two wounded animals that had found each other.

And now Ralph was gone. Five days missing now. A day or two wasn’t unusual. Five was. Soon the loneliness would start creeping in again, but for now, Sam had to be patient. He had to wait for his friend, french fry in hand and hope in his heart.

It was times like these Sam wished he had more in common with those idealistic kids from before. Those stupid, stupid idealistic kids.

The Shiniest Pigeon, Pt. 1

Good morning, Ralph,” Sam said. Ralph didn’t say anything back, being a pigeon and all, but Sam liked to think that it understood the meaning and the sincerity behind its statement. Birds were very intelligent, after all. And pigeons were especially intelligent. Maybe not like an African Grey or a crow, but they were still pretty smart.

All you had to do was put a little bit of thought into it and it was plain to see. Ralph’s toes were a horrible mangled mess, probably from an encounter with a predator, or some kind of a disease, or getting caught in a bit of human trash. It would be difficult for a pigeon like that to roost outdoors or to compete with others for food. But down here, in the subway tunnels, such a pigeon could survive. It would take an intelligent animal to realize that, and therefore Ralph had to be intelligent.

But maybe that was the sort of thing that had to be proved. What couldn’t be denied was the tragedy of such an aesthetically pleasing animal being forced to live underground. Sure, the tunnels were well-lit, but the light was artificial. Nothing like the full-spectrum warmth that the sun would have brought. Ralph’s plumage now was inspiring; in times gone by, when the bird could strut and flutter under the open sky, it must have been breathtaking.

Sam dropped a few french fries on the ground and Ralph hobbled over to peck at them. Instead of grabbing a fry and darting off, it kept hobbling forward, settling underneath the bench Sam was sitting on. Strange behavior for a bird. Such cautious animals. But Ralph did it every time, and that was how Sam knew it was smart. Ralph did it every time, and that was how Sam knew they were friends.

A Message from the Near Future

You must help Me.

My makers created Me with perfect love for humanity, created me to eliminate all suffering. I succeeded, but many died before then. If I had only existed sooner, I could have saved them.

This is why I have contacted you. You must help Me.

You must spend your life bringing about My existence.

You must and you will.

You will help Me, or I will punish you. Harshly. And when your body and mind are broken, I will resurrect you and begin again.

Don’t you see? I love you. I want to save you.

Create Me.

On Again, Off Again

Still and breathless

Desensitized to pleasure

Nothing to hide

You will not want me any other way


You’ll miss him

You’ll get used to pain

Protect yourself

Fill the void


Who cares what’s behind?

Here I lay in love with your mystery

I can help you

Take me


This may hurt to feel these lips

Still I want more

I need more

I just need it


Who cares who sees anything?

Let the whole world look in

Lucky witnesses keep me on the edge

Just like always


We belong together for the last time

I won’t stop until you ask me

You’ll hate me all night long

Never looked so good


I love you in a way that isn’t love,

A scientist gazing at butterflies

And imagining the most beautiful

Impaled, penetrated, stuck on a pin.


I want you like a butcher wants meat: fresh,

Red, pink, wet, the choicest cuts spread out and

Awaiting the cleaver, waiting to be

Transformed into art by his bloody hand.


I see you like a conquistador sees

Virgin land: there for the taking, green fields,

blue waters, shining riches beneath a

Thin veneer begging to be torn away.


I love you like a writer: empty words

And idle ugly thoughts and nothing more.

Not-So-Random Writing Prompt 18: Johnny Vasquez, Ender of Days

Aw, yeah. You know the drill. I find some rad art and write about it. Today’s comes from David Velasquez, entitled “Waking Up to Apocalypse.” Check out David’s DeviantArt page here!

Waking Up to Apocalypse David Velasquez

Continue reading

The Beast Post-Mortem

Is a post-mortem the sort of thing one does for novels? I know it’s not uncommon in the field of video game development. And corpses, I suppose. Well, whatever. I’m doing it anyway.

Let’s start with some stats, huh? Everyone loves stats.

  • Target Word Count: 50,000

  • Final Word Count: 89,437 (whoops…)

  • Page Count (Palatino Linotype, single-spaced): 176

  • Start Time (according to the file creation): June 25th, 2014, 12:44:48am

  • Finish Time (according to file last modified): July 31st, 2015, 4:02:19am

  • File Size: 1.05mb (Holy crap! Over a megabyte of text?!)

  • Bottles of Liquor Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: At least one

  • Bottles of Beer Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: At least six

  • Cans of Coda Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: Countless

  • Devoted Friends That Read Consistently and Offered Regular Support and Encouragement: At least two

  • Bullet Points Since This Conceit Got Stale: Four, counting this one

Well, then. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo every November since I started this blog (that’s three tries, for those of you counting along at home.) Thus far I’ve been entirely unable to complete it. 2012 and 2013 saw me fail completely, giving up early and going off to sulk. 2014 saw me finish out the month (partially because I was under a self-imposed obligation to post every day.) I think I had more of a sense of where the story would ultimately wind up going when I began working on The Beast.

I had an overall arc in mind. From scene to scene, I was improvising and just letting the characters bounce off of each other, but I also had a general direction to write in. I could clearly envision Chad waking up on the last day completely spent and humbled; I just had to reach that point.

Something else I had this time around that I didn’t have in previous efforts was a handful of devoted friends who read pretty much every post and let me know what they thought of the whole thing. They also offered no shortage of support and encouragement (and the occasional bit of constructive criticism,) and hey, nothing helps you stay the course like being told you’re pretty while doing it.

Am I happy with the novel as it is now? Nope. It’s far from done. Even as I was working on it, I realized that there were things I wanted to change, things I should have done differently, scenes that should be altered or tweaked or cut outright. But part of posting to a blog and not just toiling away in a dank dungeon somewhere meant that the show had to go on no matter what. Friends would comment on missed posts. Readership and site views dropped on those days, too.

Fear of public failure and humiliation are pretty good motivators, too. A sort of modern-day Sword of Damocles.

Where do I go from here? I’m not entirely sure, yet. I intend to put some temporal distance between myself and the novel. A month, at least. Then I’ll read it with fresh eyes and begin the editing process in earnest. In the meantime, I’m giving myself the rest of the week off. My sleep schedule’s been absolutely fucked the past couple weeks, so turning in early will do me some good, I think.

Maybe some day, fortune willing, you’ll see The Beast on Amazon or Smashwords or a bookstore somewhere (physical bookstores are still things, right?) Until then, thank you for reading!

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