Monthly Archives: January 2014

Work, Children, and Burning Quilt

*Cue music!* - We go togeeeeether, like oil and water, cats and fire pits!

*Cue music!* – We go togeeeeether, like oil and water, cats and fire pits!

Kitchen
You are in a kitchen. Light from the full moon reflects through textured glass on the south wall, reminding you that you’d rather be sleeping. Assorted appliances line the counter like stoic, chrome soldiers. There is a cabinet filled with every food imaginable on the west wall. The rest of your house is to the north.
There is a mug on the counter.
Your son is shuffling nearby.
Your daughter is twirling nearby.

>STATUS
It is 5:52am. Something important is afoot, but you can’t think clearly.

>INV
You are carrying:
a typical amount of tired
work clothes (wearing)
work badge (wearing)

>NORTH
The children block your path.

>LOOK AT CHILDREN
They appear equally disgruntled by the early hour. You should probably do something for them, but can’t think clearly.
There is a loud beep and a bubbling sound from the row of appliances.

>FIND THE BUBBLING SOUND
The bubbling sound is coming from a fresh pot of time delayed coffee.

>GET COFFEE
(in the mug)
Done.

>DRINK COFFEE
Ah, nectar of the Gods! Your head clears somewhat.
You are now aware that you will shortly be late for work.

>NORTH
The children block your path. They are hungry and standing here expectantly.

>TALK TO CHILDREN
Son: “Feed me breakfast, please!”
Daughter: “I want food, please!”

>STATUS
It is 5:55am. The children are tired. You must leave for work 18 moves. If your children are not fed and happy, you will have a burning quilt.

>GET QUILT
There is no quilt here.

>COMPUTER, YOU HAVE A TYPO
If you say so. You just wasted two moves.

>GET FOOD FOR CHILDREN
You have to be more specific.
The children are hungry and pacing around you, grabbing at your pants.

>LOOK AT FOOD
Between the fridge and the cabinets, you want for nothing.

>MAKE EGGS
Risky. Your spouse is in bed with a migraine. You need to avoid a tantrum. Maybe ask what they want?

>CHILDREN, DO YOU WANT EGGS?
Son: “I want some eggs!”
Daughter: “No, I HATE eggs, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
That’s not going to work. Try again, perhaps.

>CHILDREN, WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Son: “I want cereal!”
Daughter: “I want a smoothie!”
That’s not going to work. Try again, perhaps.

>CHILDREN, PICK AGAIN
Son: “I want pasta and meatballs!”
Daughter: “I want a pony!”
You hear stirring from your bedroom. The children are getting too loud.

>CHILDREN, FOCUS!
The children stare blankly at you.

>STATUS
It is 6:02am. The children are tired. You must leave for work in 9 moves. If your children are not fed and happy, you will have a burning quilt.

>COMPUTER, DID YOU MEAN GUILT?
No. Tick-tock, tick tock…

>CHILDREN, WHAT DO YOU WANT
Your son crosses his arms and pouts.
Daughter: “Fine, I’ll have some eggs.”

>MAKE EGGS
You only manage to place a pan on the stove.
Son: “NOOOOOOOOOOO, I HAAAAAAAAAAATE EGGS!!!”
You hear stirring from your bedroom. The children are getting too loud.

>CHILDREN, YOU BOTH SAID EGGS
Son: “No I didn’t! I never, ever did!”
Daughter: “But I hate eggs, and you KNOW that!”

>DRINK COFFEE
You can’t right now, your face is buried in your hands.

>PUT CEREAL AND YOGURT ON TABLE
You place a selection of food on the kitchen table.
Both children are now crying loudly.

>KISS CHILDREN AND GET COFFEE
Each child gets a goodbye kiss.
Mug of coffee: taken.

>STATUS
It is 6:10am. The children are tired and grumpy. You must leave immediately for work. You sense a burning quilt coming.

>NORTH
You head towards the bedroom to rouse your spouse.
Both children wail, “NOOOOO!!!!!” and clutch violently at your legs. You lose your balance and leap forward, trying not to spill hot coffee on your offspring. The mug goes flying from your hand and into the open hall closet across from the kitchen. You tumble in after it, sprawling headlong onto a fluffy quilt, now saturated in 20 steaming ounces of Columbia’s finest.

On a Burning Quilt
You are on a burning hot quilt. You are also upside down in a closet. The exit is to the south.

>WEEP
There, there.

>STATUS
You are going to be late to work. You are covered in coffee. Your children are nearby, angry. Your spouse is standing nearby, holding and shaking their head.

>QUIT
Good call.

For anyone chuckling or nodding their heads right now – check out the Twinfamy blog. It’s good stuff that makes a parent feel better.

Photo credit: Me!

Advertisements

Your Word, Your Bond?

Every moment in life can be viewed through myriad angles. Even if fiction hits the page in one form, you can always turn it on its head in a second or third pass. We join our intrepid hero, Headcount Jones as they stand at the precipice of fateful decision…

Work is all fun and games until you have to go and kill someone.

Work is all fun and games until it kills you.

>PUSH DIRECTOR
The evil office director totters for a moment at the edge of the gaping elevator shaft, lowering his newspaper just in time to still not save himself. Gravity embraces his body with a fatal clutch and pulls him to an untimely death at the bottom of the metal cavern.
As his final scream echoes into oblivion you look up into the security camera lens. There will be no escaping your fate this time. You flash a winning smile and realize this is…
*** THE END ***
You scored 4 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of paper clerk.

WHAT NOW? >RESTART

Your Word, Your Bond?
You Are Carrying:
Copyright (c) 2014 Cordell Falk. All rights reserved.
Revision 4 / Serial Number . . . _ _ _ . . .

“It’s not a Monday unless you’re late,” you muse as you pass under the worn Welcome to Bigcorp banner at the entrance to your work. You cross the lobby and slap the cracked, orange button on the wall. A series of metallic groans mark the approach of the ancient and hazardous elevator car. The doors clatter open like the maw of an ancient dragon. You step inside and punch the ‘2’ button.

Elevator Car
You are in an elevator car. You see an official looking list taped to the wall.
There is a sticky note here.
There is a newspaper on the floor.

>GET NEWSPAPER
Taken.

>LOOK AT STICKY NOTE
There is writing there. It looks like your employee Heather’s handwriting.

>READ STICKY NOTE
Someone has scrawled your declaration verbatim from last month that you would either kill the evil director or quit in protest the next time he screws up the numbers for your group.

>READ LIST
The text announces that your work group has come in last in the district with 0 widgets produced. The evil office director has obviously forgotten to carry the decimal in his latest update, once again. Someone has scribbled in angry red crayon across the bottom.

>LOOK AT CRAYON
YOUR WORD IS YOUR BOND, is scrawled across the top of the list in your employee David’s handwriting.
The elevator finally ascends and lets you out.

The Second Floor
A circular room branches into two wings, east and west, where awesome productivity may sometimes occur. The elevator doors are to the north, partially obscured by support columns. There is a staircase to the south.
The evil office director is standing here.

>LOOK AT DIRECTOR
He projects the snappy, carefree fashion sense of a man who gets his monthly bonus regardless of performance.

>EAST

East Hallway
You are in the east wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your left.
A plumber is here, working.
There is an open utility panel on the wall.

>OPEN DOORS
You do not have access. You belong in the west wing.

>HELLO, PLUMBER
“Hi there, be done soon. Have you seen my tube of caulking?”

>LOOK INSIDE PANEL
A number of pipes criss-cross en route to various parts of the building. A massive yellow handle is pulled out at a 90-degree angle from the main.

>ASK PLUMBER ABOUT PANEL
Plumber: “Sorry, sir. Had to shut off water to floor 2 or we’ll flood the main shaft.

>WEST

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here.
“Hello, Headcount!” the evil director offers with a wave.

>WEST
You hear the elevator car creaking back down as you leave the area.

West Hallway
You are in the west wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your right.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
There is a tube of invincible latex caulk here.

>OPEN DOORS
The doors are firmly sealed shut.

>EXAMINE DOORS
The creases around the doors are sealed as if by invincible latex caulking. Through the window pane in the door, your work group is visible. David stands in front of the staff, arms crossed and head shaking. Heather draws her finger across her throat in reminder.

>GET TUBE
Taken. There is plenty of latex remaining.

>PUSH CART TO THE EAST
Ok.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.

>GIVE NEWSPAPER TO DIRECTOR
“Thanks Headcount,” he says. He butterflies the pages open, obscuring his field of vision.

>WAIT
director: “Whoever that is, can you hit the call button?”

>SAVE GAME
Saved.

>PUSH BUTTON
You hear a horrible crunching sound from behind the closed elevator doors.

>WAIT
The elevator doors grind open, revealing the rusted interior of an empty elevator shaft. The car is nowhere in sight.
“Ah, there we are!” the evil director says over the top of the paper. He steps up to the edge of the shaft, pausing to finish the story he is reading.

>PUSH CART AT DIRECTOR.
The evil director squeals in terror. He tumbles in a full circle, the newspaper pages flapping like broken bird’s wings, and he strikes the ground with a terrible thud. Free from witnesses, you have fulfilled your vow. You are given less than an hour to revel in your success before the director’s fate is revealed and your group is downsized due to poor performance.
*** THE END ***
You scored 18 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of assistant coffee peon.

WHAT NOW? >RESTORE
Okay.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
director: “Hey you, did you hit the call button yet?”

>INV
You are carrying:
a tube of invincible latex caulk

>GO DOWNSTAIRS
Okay.

Front Lobby
You are in the lobby of Bigcorp. There are locked gates blocking hallways to the east and west. The elevator doors are to the north, obscured by a statue of bureaucracy. There is a staircase to the south.

>CAULK ELEVATOR
You apply a generous layer of caulk around and between the doors. You could likely float the Titanic inside of that thing.

>GO UPSTAIRS
Okay.

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.

>EAST

East Hallway
You are in the east wing hallway of your office. A set of key-coded double doors is to your left.
A plumber is here, working.
There is an open utility panel on the wall.

>LOOK INSIDE PANEL
A number of pipes criss-cross en route to various parts of the building. A massive yellow handle is pulled out at a 90-degree angel from the main.

>TURN YELLOW VALVE
The plumber frantically waves your hand away.

>GIVE TUBE TO PLUMBER
The plumber accepts your gift and walks away to inspect the remaining latex.

>TURN YELLOW VALVE
A hissing and bubbling sound emanates from the core of the building.

>WEST

The Second Floor
The evil office director is standing here, engrossed in a newspaper.
There is a heavy cart full of computers here.
director: “Hey you, did you hit the call button yet?”

>PUSH BUTTON
You hear a horrible crunching sound from behind the closed elevator doors.

>WAIT
The elevator doors grind open, revealing the rusted interior of a water filled elevator shaft. The car is nowhere in sight. The surface of the water is a foot below the level of the second floor.
“Ah, there we are!” the evil director says over the top of the paper. He steps up to the edge of the shaft, pausing to finish the story he is reading.

>PUSH CART AT DIRECTOR.
The evil director squeals in terror. He tumbles in a half circle, his vision blinded by flying pages, and he splashes down into the water.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! A bonus for saving me!” screams the evil director, flailing.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! A promotion for saving me!” cries the evil director, splashing.

>WAIT
“Help! Help! My company car for saving me!” gargles the evil director, weakening.

>SAVE DIRECTOR
You reach into the elevator shaft and pull the now humbled director to safety. He lies sputtering and gasping, soaking the carpet. He throws his arms around you in gratitude and you smile with crafty vengeance into his tilted hairpiece. You can’t wait to come back to work tomorrow.
*** YOU HAVE WON!!! ***
You scored 38 of a possible 42 points, earning you the rank of vice-president.(Next time get a corner office out of him)

WHAT NOW? >QUIT
Thanks for playing!

The author of this blog disavows any responsibility for haphazard workplace hooliganism that may follow consumption of this post.

The First Draft Dilemma

Fear the WEES - The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

Fear the WEES – The Wizened Elf of Errant Syntax

A first draft is merely a starting place. Whether it becomes the start of something wondrous or the start of a lingering nightmare is entirely up to you… and, of course, the W.E.E.S.

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>VERBOSE
Maximum Verbosity.

>FINISH FIRST DRAFT
It’s never that easy.

>WRITE
A line appears on the horizon. It speeds toward you in a blur of grey and brown, creating a hard concrete surface beneath your feet. Dingy walls rise up along all sides and a domed roof appears overhead.

>WRITE
Details fill out around you, subtle color blends, glistering slime molds, pungent smells and flickers of light from dying bulbs and cracks in the glass above.
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>LOOK

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES standing here, waiting.

>WHAT IS A WEES
The Wizened Elves of Errant Syntax are mythological creatures renowned for their sensitivity to both poor grammar and errors in frequency. In olden times they were retained by kings and heads of state to ensure that diplomatic affairs were conducted in only the most formal and proper of etiquette. The WEES faded from human society after one too many monarchs were devoured whole after uttering, ‘Um…’.

LOOK AT WEES
>The ancient creature has cracked grey skin, covered with the dust of a billion shredded pages. His pointy ears turn your way and he studies you with eyes sharp as fireballs.

>INV
You are carrying:
a thesaurus

>SHOW THESAURUS TO WEES
The WEES claps his hands together and bows reverently.

>WRITE
A homeless man that reeks of fetid dingo’s kidneys appears, laying slumped against a wall.
The WEES wrings his hands and stomps his foot, shaking the ground. “Been done!” he shouts, pointing to the west.

>WEST
Ch.8 – Hotel Ballroom
You are in an elegant ballroom covered in gold drapes and dazzling crystal. A sixteen piece band sets the mood from atop a stage on the north wall. Debutantes and gentlemen in top hats mill about, brushing elbows among high society. There is a Chapter Seven to the west and a Chapter Nine to the east.
Earl, your stock broker, is leaning against the bar.

>LOOK AT EARL
Earl, in his rumpled brown suit, stands out amid the fancy setting like a heap of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>EAST

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. Pools of stagnant rainwater and streaks of mold are the only regular inhabitants these days. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the east.
There is a WEES here, leaning on a gnarled walking stick and wearing a smug grin.
There is a homeless man here, reeking of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

>ERASE KIDNEYS
The homeless man smells much better now.
The WEES nods in appreciation.

>WRITE IN PEAT MOSS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “WRITE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t know the phrase “IN PEAT MOSS”.

>CREATE PEAT MOSS FOR THE HOMELESS MAN
The homeless man now carries the odor of an old highland bog.

>CREATE RATS
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and your word “CREATE” explodes into pixels.
I don’t understand “RATS”.

>CONJURE RATS
Soft squeaks and the skitter of small claws add to the ambiance.

>CRAFT A COLD WIND
The homeless man shivers.

>HELP WITH NEW WORDS
This is your dream, help yourself.

>MAKE A CAREFUL FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
Your main character will now pause for introspection about his ex-wife and Earl the stock broker, while avoiding of the words KIDNEYS, WRITE, PEAT MOSS, CREATE, RATS, CONJURE, CRAFT, COLD or WIND.

>LOOK
The WEES screams, “Used!”
The WEES waves his staff and disallows your last request.

>USE THESAURUS
You’ll have to be more specific.

>EAST
You can’t enter chapter 10 until you flesh out more of chapter 9.

>WEST
The WEES smashes you on the knee, having seen you do that already.
The WEES notices that you used the word “MAN” again somewhere in your recent flashback sequence. He gobbles the sequence down with a fierce gnashing of teeth.

>KILL WEES
(with the thesaurus)
You hurl the hardbound copy at the WEES. He catches it in mid-air and thumbs through the pages.
The WEES scans the room and screams, “Cliche!” He waves his stick and the room trembles from his wrath. Some items are no longer here.

>DESCRIBE THE ROOM

Ch. 9 – Abandoned Subway Station
You are on a transit platform in the hub of a long unused subway terminal. There are no surviving details here. There are no exits here, as you cannot proceed without completing this chapter.
There is a vicious looking WEES here, wielding a gnarled walking stick.
You sense a lethargic disinterest is lurking close by.

>RESTART

A Dark Blackness
You are in a deep and endless field of dark. There are those who might call this Chapter Nine. To the west is Chapter Eight. Chapter Ten lies somewhere off to the East.

>WAIT
A WEES wanders into the room and looks about with its eternal curiosity.

>WAIT
“No!” shouts the WEES. “Just said that!”
The WEES waves his gnarled walking stick and blinks, confused. There is nothing to edit out yet.

>WEES, THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT
The WEES turns a brilliant shade of persimmon. “Whoops! Sorry, mate! Be redundant at will,” he says and then vanishes in a puff of white smoke.
A small card falls to the ground.

>READ CARD
“Erika Marks has an excellent post on battling a first draft. Enjoy it at: http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com

>WRITE
Ok.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Writing: A Marathon

A victory smile with sister Selena Jones. We fell over seconds later.

Me and sister Selena Jones with victory smiles. We fell over seconds later.

Not a marathon of writing, but rather writing of a marathon. Instead of crafing a witty blog post Sunday night, I was soaking in Epsom salts – having completed the Carlsbad Marathon earlier in the day. For those of you not particularly predisposed to running in a long and mostly straight line, the following is a taste of the mental fortitude (read: insanity) required to survive one of the most grueling endeavors you can pay good money for. So go grab your Ultima sports drink and foam roller and let’s begin, shall we?

In a Car
You are in your car. It is dark outside. Piles of running gear surround you.

6:08am >LOOK AT GEAR
Of note are your racing bib, a set of pins, your gel fuel and your GPS watch.

6:08am >PUT ON RACING BIB
(with the pins)
You secure the bib to your shirt.
Your bib is pinned too high. You might rip your nipples off.

6:08am >ADJUST BIB LOWER
That’s better.

6:08am >GET GEL AND PUT ON WATCH
Taken.
You are now wearing a GPS watch.

6:09am >GET OUT OF CAR
Done, with pain. Your muscles feel very tight.

Parking Lot
You are in the mall parking lot. There is abundant activity to the west.

6:09am >WEST
Done, with pain. Your muscles feel very tight.

Near the Start
You are in a parking lot, surrounded on three sides by an endless sea of portable bathrooms. Marathon runners mill about, enjoying the easy access to relief (which will be impossible shortly due to the 7,000 half-marathon runners en route). There is a starting line visible to the south.
You hear announcements droning on in the background.

6:11am >LISTEN TO ANNOUNCEMENTS
A very excited individual is ushering people to the starting line. You take a moment to ignore him and wonder if you’ve paid your utility bills this month.

6:12am >STRETCH
Your calf muscles cramp violently in response. You are now filled with sporting terror.

6:13am >INV
You are carrying:
GPS watch (wearing)
gel fuel
a measure of sporting terror

The droning voice rises in tone and excitement.

6:13am >SOUTH

Starting Line
You are in a public street that is closed to traffic for race day. 1,999 eager runners are packed into the lane in front of you. An eager and nervous chatter fills the area near the back of the herd.

6:14am >LISTEN TO CHATTER
People wearing trash bags are complaining about the 50 degree weather. You stifle a cruel chuckle.

6:15am >PUSH THROUGH HERD
You’ve done this before. Nothing to be gained up there.
With the blast of an air horn and a resounding cheer from the crowd, the marathon begins.

6:15am >WALK TO START LINE
You follow the shuffling herd. As you cross the timing strip on the ground, someone shouts, “Moo!”

6:16am >START GPS
You wisely remember to activate the GPS Watch. You will now be ready to panic with scientific accuracy.

6:16am >RUN

Mile 1
You are plodding along and conserving energy, just ahead of the walkers.
Spectators with signs are cheering madly nearby.

6:27am >RUN
Your solid tempo takes you past the 4:30 pace runner. You would LOVE to finish in 4:30!
A sound like an airy thump-thump-thump approaches from behind.
A man bouncing a basketball catches you and matches your pace.

Mile 2
There is a man running and bouncing a basketball here.
Spectators with signs are cheering madly nearby.
A water stop is just ahead.

6:37am >GET WATER
You slow for a drink. The basketball guy nearly mows you down.

6:39am >RUN FASTER
Your pace increases. The thump-thump-thump of basketball remains close behind.

Mile 3
There is a man running and bouncing a basketball here.
Spectators with signs are cheering for the man with the basketball.

6:47am >SLOW DOWN
Your pace decreases. You can see the basketball thump-thump-thumping just steps ahead.
At a slight bend in the road, you all must stop for the basketball guy to manuever.

Mile 4
The road is still nice and flattish.
There is a man running, bouncing a basketball, and pissing you off nearby.

6:58am >PASS THE DAMN BASKETBALL GUY
He accelerates in response and mercifully vanishes into glory.

Mile 5
Just ahead the road leads up an on-ramp and begins to climb.
Spectators with signs cheer near a water stop.

7:07am >READ SIGNS
The signs offer messages about family, zombies and bowel movements.

7:07am >RUN

Mile 6
You are going uphill. A man is setting cups of beer on the sidewalk. A punk band is rocking out nearby.

7:16am >EAT GEL FUEL
Mmmmmm. Black Cherry.
The man slaps a cup of beer into your hand.

7:16am >DROP BEER
Wise move.

7:16am >RUN TO TOP OF HILL
A surf-rock band waves at you as you pass.
You hear an airy thump-thump-thump as the evil basketball guy goes charging past you back down the other way.

Mile 9
You are at the summit. There are no spectators here as this hill sucks.

7:43am >RUN DOWN HILL
Wheeeeeeeee!!!! That was fun! This might not be so terrible after all!

Mile 12
You are running through a business park that smells of salt and fish.
Medics are here, waving sticks covered in petrolium jelly at you.

8:12am >EAT GEL FUEL
Mmmmmm. Black Cherry.
One of the medics offers you pain killers, which you decline.

8:12am >RUN
You run strong and hard, filled with sporting joy and the rush of endorphins.

Mile 13
You are leaving the business park area, looking at a sharp, short hill. A ukelele band is rocking out nearby.

8:22am >RUN
The sharp, short hill hurts. A lot. Your sporting joy splatters on the ground. You rejoin the main race course and crash into a horde of 7,000 rabid half marathoners who started running 90 minutes after you did.

Mile 14
You are being passed by lots of fresh half-marathon runners. There is a band here, playing nothing and starting at you.

8:31am >EAT GEL FUEL
Mmmmmm. Black Cherry.
You realize you could really go for that beer you don’t have anymore.
A spectator leans into your path and screams, “You’re almost there!” You ignore him and continue on.

8:31am >RUN TWO MILES WITH CAUTION
You thankfully avoid being trampled. You are feeling nervous: This is where your stomach usually cramps up like a nightmare.

Mile 16
You are near the turnaround of the half-marathon. A sign on the side of the road invites you to keep going. A lone spectator waves a placard that reads, “Glad you picked the long one?”

8:50am >RUN
As you run, you sense that the flat looking road is actually angled downhill. You manage two miles without the need to vomit or otherwise dive into a portable restroom or large bush. Perhaps this year your stomach will cooperate!

Mile 18
You are at the final turnaround point for the full marathon course. You can confirm now that, yes, you had been running downhill. Three miles of gentle uphill are staring you in the face.
You cannot feel your hamstrings.

9:10am >RUN
You can’t do that.
A spectator leans into your path and screams, “You’re almost there!” You mutter a gruff, “Excuse me!” and continue on.

9:10am >JOG?
Fellow marathoners are falling off left and right with tight quads and rolled ankles. They protest your assistance and wave you on.

Mile 20
You are back at the turnaround point of the half-marathon course. All participants are back together for this final leg of the race. Lots of cheerful walkers and slow joggers fill the road alongside you.
You cannot feel your hamstrings.
Your hips feel sore.

9:32am >RUN
Not possible, Ace.
An elderly saviour offers you some orange slices. They taste like eternity and sunshine and unicorns.

9:32am >JOG
You continue on, adopting a bit of a duck waddle to get feeling back in your legs. As you pass a water station, a volunteer empties a cup of water onto your shoe. They apologize and offer a cup of pretzles which you hungrily devour.

Mile 23
You are in the adorable, quiant village-like setting of downtown. Tired spectators stand behind colorful signs and say little.
You cannot feel your hamstrings.
You cannot feel your calves.
Your hips are grinding sources of pain.

10:06am >DO ANYTHING BUT WALK
A spectator leans out and screams, “You’re almost there!” You snap the man’s neck and discard him in the bushes.

Mile 25
You are so close that you can feel the finish line beckoning you forward.
Strange, you cannot feel your body but you feel a lot of misery.

10:32am >RUN
You have inhaled a gnat.
Your gait has changed, you will be crippled soon.

10:32am >COUGH AND RUN
Cough, cough.
There is a gnat wriggling in your throat.
Your gait has changed, you will be crippled soon.

10:33am >SPIT AND RUN
Hack, cough, wheeze, *spit*.
You have swallowed a gnat.

Mile 26
You are near the finish line. A steep .15 mile long hill stands in front of you.
Your legs are disembodied.
Your hips are blinding points of agony.

10:44am >LOOK AT GPS WATCH
You see that you’ve already run 26.2 miles, due to dodging and weaving. Well, that sucks.
You are passed by an energetic looking runner holding a 4:30 pace banner.

10:44am >SPRINT LIKE THE DEVIL IS AFTER ME
You growl and charge ahead. You blow spittle through your clenched teeth. You draw strength from the cheers of the spectators. You scare the crap out of slower runners as you pound up behind them.

At the Finish Line
The finish line catwalk is before you. The announcer is calling your name as you thunder down the flat home stretch.
There is a photographer here.

10:46am >POSE FOR PHOTO
Your calf muscle asserts itself and cramps up. You stumble and nearly eat crap. The photographer flashes an evil smile and offers a sarcastic thumbs up.

10:46am >RUN
You jump/hop/flail across the finish line and end your epic journey. A kindly volunteer approaches and places a shiny medal around your neck.

Finishing Chute
You are in the finishing chute, a narrow pathway lined by chain link fence and filled with volunteers. More able bodied runners are dodging around you. There is an expo to the east.

10:47am >EAST
Sorry, your legs no longer work. You manage one single, gimpy step in that direction.

10:47am >EAST
Sorry, your legs no longer work. Another runner offers assistance, which you stupidly decline.

10:47am >EAST
Sorry, your legs no longer work. A volunteer offers chocolate milk.

10:47am >LOOK AT MEDAL
It is shiny, but it is not magical. It cannot help you walk.

10:48am >DRINK MILK
You drink it. It does not help.

10:49am >LEAN ON FENCE
Aaahhhhhhhh… Wise move.

*** YOU’VE WON!!!! FINAL TIME 4:29:53! ***

[To be followed up in 2015 when I go for 4:00 flat.]

Of Writes and Wrongs

yac 1-16-14 glasses book

A Sidewalk Cafe
You are in a sea of wicker tables, most of which are filled with hipsters and stay at home parents. A caboose converted to a freestanding coffee bar serves the uncaffinated masses. The aroma of freshly ground coffee and sugary additives envelopes the scene in a comfortable home style haze. There are shops to the west.
(You are currently seated at a round wicker table.)
There is a laptop here on the table.

>LOOK AT HIPSTERS
The tablet wielding hipsters mingle and frolic in their impeccably mish-mashed clothing.
(Somehow you never managed to be this cool.)

>LOOK AT PARENTS
The stay at home parents laugh gaily and sip drinks in a well-rehearsed, relaxed fashion.
(Somehow you never managed to be this cool.)

>LOOK AT LAPTOP
Your laptop is on. Chapter 13 is on the screen, awaiting completion.

>WRITE NOVEL
(on the laptop)
A barista enters the area and stands at your table.
barista: “Sorry. You have no coffee. You can’t work here.”

>BUY COFFEE
barista: “You don’t seem to have enough money.”

>INV
You are carrying:
an arm
a leg
a list
laptop
money ($3.00)

>LOOK AT ARM AND LEG
arm: it is an average arm.
leg: it is an average leg.

>GIVE ARM TO BARISTA
barista: “What kind of place do you think this is?!”

>READ LIST
1 – buy lots of milk, cheese, yogurt.
2 – buy veggies
3 – write

>GET LAPTOP AND STAND UP
Taken.
You rise from the table. The hipsters snicker at your jeans and Atari T-shirt.

>WEST

Organic Matter Dairy
You are standing in front of a store called Organic Matter Dairy. Cheeses, yogurts, and milks of all variety assault your visual and olfactory senses. There is a coffee stand to the east and farm stand to the west.
A cashier is standing in front of the store with a knowing smile.

>ASK CASHIER ABOUT DAIRY
cashier: “Just name it and I’ll run inside and gather it for you!”

>GIVE LIST TO CASHIER
The cashier reads the list with a nod.
The cashier disappears into the store and returns with two nylon bags heavily loaded with dairy. You take the bags and sling them over your shoulder.

>PAY CASHIER
cashier: “$3.00 is not enough, sir. That’ll be an arm or a leg, please.”

>GIVE LEG TO CASHIER
That would make your remaining shopping rather difficult.

>GIVE ARM TO CASHIER.
cashier: “Thank you, come again!’
Your bags of organic dairy slip from your shoulder and clatter on the ground.
A pair of hipsters strolls past and chuckles at your domestic futility.

>GET BAGS
You wisely put the bags of organic dairy on your remaining good side.

>WEST

Farm Stand
At the west end of the strip mall area is a huge pop-up canopy festooned with cardboard replicas of roots and tubers. There are pre-packaged sacks of vegetables piled up in two mountains. An eager looking farmer stands between the piles.

>LOOK AT PILES
One pile of sacks is labeled ‘ORGANIC VEGGIES’. One pile of sacks is a labeled ‘CHEAPER CONVENTIONAL VEGGIES WITH ADDED PESTICIDES AND CHLORPROPHAM’

>GET VEGGIES
(which ones, the organic veggies, or the cheaper conventional veggies with added pesticides and chlorpropham?)

>GET CHEAPER CONVENTIONAL VEGGIES WITH ADDED PESTICIDES AND CHLORPR
I don’t know what you mean.

>ASK FARMER ABOUT VEGGIES
Farmer: “Got two types, kiddo. Your choice.”

>ASK FARMER ABOUT CHEAPER CONVENTIONAL VEGGIES WITH ADDED PESTICID
Farmer: “Didn’t quite get that kiddo, you ran out of space.”

>ASK ABOUT VEGGIES
Farmer: “If it doesn’t fit in the parser limit, you probably shouldn’t put it in your mouth.”

>GET ORGANIC VEGGIES
Done.

>PAY CASHIER
farmer: “$3.00 is not enough, sir. That’ll be just under an arm or a leg, please.”

>GIVE LEG TO FARMER
Farmer: “Thanks much, come again!”
The farmer hands you back some change.

>INV
You are carrying:
a list
laptop
bags of organic dairy
a sack of organic veggies
money ($8.00)

>EAST
You wobble/hop east, using the weight of your bags for balance.

Organic Matter Dairy
A cashier is standing in front of the store with a knowing smile.

>EAST
You shuffle/scoot east as best you can.

A Sidewalk Cafe
The hipsters titter and gawk at your awkward entrance on the scene.

>SIT AND OPEN LAPTOP
You seat yourself at a round, wicker table.
You open your laptop. You novel is back up on the screen.

>WRITE NOVEL
(on the laptop)
A barista enters the area and stands at your table.
barista: “You again. Can I help you sir?”

>BUY COFFEE
barista: “Oh, I’m sorry. The hipsters and stay at home parents have drank it all.”

>KILL BARISTA
barista: (laughing) “Oh, you’d have to take a number for that. You are welcome to stay while you wait!”

>WRITE NOVEL
(on the laptop)
You are too frustrated to write Chapter 13 right now.

>WRITE BLOG
(on the laptop)
Done.
One of the hipsters places a card on your table.

>READ CARD
“Next time, keep your limbs intact. Check out a site like LocalHarvest.org. Stay healthy, stay in one piece. Oh, and nice shirt.”

photo credit: Camera Eye Photography via photopin cc

The Creative Process

yac 1-13-14
You Are Carrying: The Creative Process
Copyright (c) 2014 Cordell Falk. All rights reserved.
Revision 42 / Serial Number OU812

You are a creative mind caught in a world of awkward impetus and grey malaise. The fulfillment of your every imaginative whim lies just over the horizon where the rising sun kisses the mountain peaks… behind the hilltops… over the ocean… and beyond the wasteland where you now stand.

A Dark and Lonely Starting Place
You are alone. There is an endless endlessness all about you. Obvious exits are in all directions.

>STATUS
You are in good health and spirits.
It has been one move since your last creative work.

>RESTORE GAME
Saved Game Name? >DAY3
Restored!

>LOOK

Kitchen
A standard issue kitchen setup sprawls before you. There is a well-stocked pantry to the south and the dining room to the east. Your office is to the West.
Your spouse is here.
There is a chicken dish on the counter.
There is a pile of vegetables nearby.

>LOOK AT SPOUSE
Your spouse is on soup detail, stirring and chopping with abandon.

>STATUS
You are tired and distracted.
It has been 1,823 moves since your last creative work.

>LOOK AT OVEN
The oven is pre-heated, awaiting your culinary talents.
Your brow perks up. You could write a cooking blog…

>SOUTH
Spouse: “Where are you going? Cut up that tomato and onion and get that chicken cooking!”

>LOOK AT CHICKEN
A masterfully spatchcocked chicken lies in a glass pan.
Your brow perks up. You could write some erotica…

>CUT TOMATO
You hand bounces off of the tomato harmlessly.
Your brow perks up. You could write a kung-fu comic…

>GET KNIFE
You don’t see one here.
Spouse: “What’s the hold up? The kids are starving!”

>ASK SPOUSE FOR KNIFE
Spouse: “In the drawer! Get it your damned self!”
Your brow perks up. You could write a demonic horror story…

>OPEN DRAWER
The open drawer reveals a collection of store receipts, assorted whisks, and a knife.

>GET ALL FROM DRAWER
knife: Taken.
receipts: You can’t allow your spouse to see those.
whisks: The whisks form an immovable tangle, a vision of metallic kudzu, invincible and taunting.

>CUT TOMATO
(with the knife)
The knife makes swift, clean slices through the ruby flesh. You imagine how such a weapon would fare against a hedge of metallic kudzu.

>DROP KNIFE
Dropped.
Spouse: “Really? On the floor?”

>GET KNIFE
Taken.
Spouse: “Get to that onion!”

>CUT ONION
(with the nasty knife)
Spouse: “You can’t use that, this floor is filthy!”

>WASH NASTY KNIFE
Water cascades in dual waterfalls around the blade of the knife.

>CUT ONION WITH KNIFE
Your grip on the wet knife fails. You deftly flip your wrist and the errant blade executes a single flip and lands back in your outstretched palm.

>DRY KNIFE
You dry off the handle and instinctively flip the knife around once more.
A vision of jungle adventures in a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk universe has entered the room.
Spouse: “Seriously, any time now!!!”

>CUT ONION WITH KNIFE
Before you can cut, a tribe of cannibals enters your mental scene, swinging handfuls of the wickedly sharp metal kudzu vine in a terrible arc of terror and menace.

>STATUS
You are energized and horribly distracted.
It has been 1,839 moves since your last creative work.

>PUT CHICKEN IN OVEN
Done. You feel like you forgot something. The imaginary tribesmen cheer your success and you perform a double flip of knife to show off.
You wisely put down the knife before you accidentaly decapitate someone.

>KISS SPOUSE
Your spouse pulls back, noticing a familiar gleam in your eye.
Spouse: “Oh crap. You’re going to your office, aren’t you?”

>WEST
The tribesmen in your head follow you.

(Disclaimer: The oft-distracted author of this entry has never forgotten his children at the store or at school, but if anyone has seen his car keys, please respond!)

Photo credit: michael pollak
via photopin cc

The Parenting Game

medium_4684467836
photo credit: peasap via photopin cc

Today finds you, a harried and hopeful author, on babysitting duty at your sister’s cozy house. A 15 month old toddler could be a handful for some, but you have nothing to worry about. After all, you are a master of creative dilemmas and hectic deadlines.

Cozy Living Room
The smallish living room contains a fuzzy rug, a set of couches and a bookshelf filled with colorful, rhyming books. There is a hallway to the east and a kitchen to the south.
There is a diapered toddler here.
A dog is here, circling your legs expectantly.

>INV
You are carrying:
a proof copy

>LOOK AT PROOF COPY
Your only copy awaits nap time for final editing.

>LOOK AT TODDLER
Sweet. Innocent. He coos at your attention.

>SOUTH
The dog tags along behind you as you depart.

Kitchen
You are nearly blinded upon entering the room. The all white floor, walls, counters, and appliances are awash in glorious daylight from large windows over the sink.
There is a note on the counter.
A towel is draped over the oven handle.
A dog is here, circling your legs expectantly.

>READ NOTE
(Taken)
“If you fail to find the coming events humorous, Joelle Wisler offers a brief child rearing tutorial: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR KIDS SO THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO LIVE WITH THEM
You don’t have your smartphone, so you discard the note.
The dog voraciously eats the note and lies down, satiated.

>GET TOWEL
Taken.
You hear crying from the living room.

>NORTH
Cozy Living Room
There is a diapered toddler here, crying.

>GET TODDLER
You trip on a lump in the rug and crash headlong into the corner of the bookcase, knocking yourself unconscious.
*** You have lost ***

(Quit, Restore, Go Back?) >GO BACK
Done.

Cozy Living Room
There is a diapered toddler here, crying.

>EXAMINE RUG
You spot an unusual lump beneath the rug. You lift the edge and retrieve a rubber tow truck. The dog enters the room and consumes the tow truck as if starving.

>GET TODDLER
No, he might wrinkle your proof copy.

>PUT PROOF COPY IN BOOKSHELF
Done.

>GET TODDLER
Taken. He winces at ceiling lights and screams wildly. The dog rushes into the room, all barking and slobber, and smashes through the front door, never to return. You don’t know how you’ll explain this one to your sister.
*** You have lost ***

(Quit, Restore, Go Back?) >GO BACK
Done.

>TURN OFF LIGHTS
The toddler falls silent. There is an awful sound and an unpleasant smell.

>TURN ON LIGHTS
Cozy Living Room
An undiapered toddler is here, giggling.
There is a small poopy here on the rug.

>GET POOPY
You are interrupted by an awful sound and an unpleasant smell.
(Which poopy, the small one or the orange one?)

>LOOK
Cozy Living Room
The smallish living room contains a fuzzy rug, a set of couches and a bookshelf filled with colorful, rhyming books. There is a hallway to the east and a kitchen to the south.
An undiapered toddler is here, giggling.
There is a small poopy here on the rug.
An orange poopy lies nearby.

>GET SMALL POOPY
You are interrupted by an awful sound and an unpleasant smell.
Your path is blocked by a wide, runny poopy.
The toddler wobbles out of the room and to the south.

>LOOK AT ALL POOPIES.
small poopy: You see nothing special.
orange poopy: You detect carrots.
wide, runny poopy: Something is not right here.

>PUT TOWEL ON RUNNY POOPY.
You are no longer cornered by the wide, runny poopy.

>SOUTH
Kitchen
An icky trail on the floor heads north back to the living room.
An undiapered toddler is here, giggling.

>GET TODDLER
You yank the child into the air, holding him at arms length. Best head for the bathroom.

>NORTH
You slip on the icky trail and hear a sharp *SNAP!* as the tendons in your ankle cease to agree with each other. You drop the toddler protectively onto your chest as you fall. Your shirt is likely ruined.

>CRAWL NORTH
Cozy Living Room
An undiapered toddler is here.
There is a small poopy here on the rug.
An orange poopy lies nearby.
A soiled towel is covering a wide, runny poopy.
A dog is here, growling at the bookcase.
The dog is carrying:
an unused diaper (attached)

>GET PROOF COPY FROM BOOKCASE
You protectively reach for your precious novel and the priceless edits within. You accidentally knock the diaper loose from the dog, further angering it. The dog tugs the proof copy from your grip and consumes it with gusto. The child claps and squeals with joy as you hear the sounds of a car returning home out in front of the house.
*** You survived! ***

You conclude your babysitting experience disappointed, frustrated, and severely injured. You also left the house in 235% worse shape than you found it. This gives you a score of 52 and a rank of ROOKIE PARENT (8 months exp.)

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AGAIN?

>HELL NO

Thanks for playing! Comments left below from similarly experienced parents and/or authors may appear in future installments.