Thursday, October 29, 2020

Enjoy Random Chance & the Paradise that is Earth!


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and get access to my entire library!

Notes: My intent with this story is to present it in ten-chapter segments (or so), something like a television mini-series. I wrote the first ten chapters, which appear in the volume above, got started on the next ten, and promptly hit a wall. I've recently completed chapter five of Book Two. 

It's science fiction, but told from less of a techno-wiz-bang perspective and more from a soulful, spiritual one. That right there subverts the science in science fiction, which is what I wanted to do. I very strongly oppose the materialist, atheistic mindset that has swept over the world like a noxious infection. It is my belief, held very strongly, that humanity, if it is to survive even to the next century, will have to return to its spiritual roots and embrace them. The 35th century, where Random Chance lives, will be a much more soulful one than this one is--by necessity.

That said, don't mistake me as a religionist or fundamentalist. I'm not. In fact, I'm very much not. Both in the end are outgrowths of materialism itself, and must as well be seen for what they are--toxic.

Enjoy!


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>>Table of Contents<<


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When you crack the sky, ‘scrapers fill the air.
Will you keep on building higher
till there's no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?
--Cat Stevens
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Prologue
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Year: 3467 AD
Aboard the UOT Adelson, a day out from Mars

“Report."
The captain of the Adelson didn't look up from his palm-pad.
"Sir," said the officer. "I think we've found him."
"Found who, sailor?"
It wasn't that the information on his palm-pad was too important to look up from. It was, after all, nothing more than real estate listings on Rhea.
"Well?"
"We believe it's The Pompatus … er, The Pompatus of … of, er, Love, er, sir—"
One didn't speak such nonsense to the captain. And that included such words like "Pompatus" or "love." It was enough to release him from the technology in his grip, which he tossed on the table. He brought his glare to the sailor.
"Love?"
"Pompatus, yes, sir—"
"And this concerns me why?" demanded the captain of the UOT Adelson.
"It's his ship, sir," said the sailor quickly. "The traitor’s son’s ship. Random Chance's—"
The captain squinted. "You believe it's his?"
"Yes, sir."
"You're wasting my time, Lieutenant! I'm not interested in belief; I want certainty, do you hear me? Certainty!"
"Y-Yes, sir.”
"Make sure it's him. If it is, pursue and overtake. Now get out!"

Chapter One


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Enjoy "N.V.": A Fan-Fiction Tribute to Zelena from ABC's Once Upon a Time!

Wicked always wins.

ABC's Once Upon a Time had much promise which went largely unfulfilled over its seven seasons. The writing became progressively more slipshod as the show progressed, with various plot-lines left abandoned almost willy-nilly. Important characters were pushed to the back or tranquilized and tagged and safely suburbanized. The Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena, played by the marvelous Rebecca Mader, was one of them. This story seeks to address the tragic short shrift Zelena was given, and takes place shortly after she meets her "sister" witches from the south, east, and north.

Enjoy!


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Synopsis

His name is Nathan Vach, and he's having terrifying dreams. Left alone after his father and brothers die in the Second Ogres war, and after his mother perishes from illness, he retreats into his family's big home far from anywhere. But the dreams continue to plague him, so he decides to visit a metaphysician in Munchkinland. There he learns startling news: that he has a gift for someone--a Soul Gift. It's a Gift that will be a great blessing to he or she destined to receive it. Walking home, he has no idea just how powerful that Gift is--or the individual who, unbeknownst to him, will soon try to claim it. Read on!


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N.V.
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CONFUSED AND FRIGHTENED

----

This is a tale about a witch. A wicked witch. Some say she came from the west. But I think she came from Heaven.

   This is the story of how we met, of how I fell in love with her. This is the story of my happy ending, and, I pray, hers.






It was that bridge. I never trusted it. Trolls occasionally lurked under it. I have lived long enough in these forests to know that those beasties migrate. They are like birds—big, hairy, bipedal birds that will rob you blind, then cook you alive. That is, after skinning you first. And laughing about it the whole time.

   I was there to help clean up the carnage after they attacked the Munchkin Commissioner Keljrad on that very bridge. He won, but not before most of his entourage died, and he too, later, from injuries. It was an impressively gory battle.

   I tried not to think of it. Still, it must have been quite a sight—tiny Munchkins and their tiny spears and swords and bows and arrows swarming over those monstrous trolls, and being thrown about like fleas. Or bite-sized beef pot pies, which was how, I was certain, the trolls thought of them.

   After that disaster, the Prefect of Munchkinland declared the bridge off limits to his people. He went to Oz to petition the Great Wizard’s support, but the Wizard, apparently, had no interest in lending the Prefect his voice, and off the Prefect went, angered once more with him.

   The Wizard of Oz. What a peckerwood.

   Anyway, back to that bridge.

   I thought of going another route, and in fact had ever since that battle. It was creepy before; now it was just evil.

   It was shadowed under the boughs of tremendous fir trees and made of black granite, and arched over a tumbling stream in a minor gorge some forty feet deep. The trolls hid on the bridge’s bottom. They typically flattened themselves against the stone using their inhuman strength, and waited till you were right on top of them. Bastards.






I have the gift of Foresight. Or ... I was supposed to. My mother was a Seer. A really talented one, actually. But she didn’t see the illness growing in her belly, and one day she died. It crushed me. I grew up with my father and two older brothers, all of whom died after being conscripted to fight in the Second Ogres War in the Enchanted Forest, which was just a walk (or in this case, march) through a portal away. Mom wasn’t around to warn them, and I, supposedly also with the Gift, felt nothing but guilt ever since that I didn’t foresee their doom and steer them clear of it.

   Alone, I rattled around in this big house, miles from nowhere, and did my best to stay sane. I was not entirely certain I had been successful.






Forgive me. Where are my manners? My name is Nathan Vach (“Vok”). I’m human, but don’t hold that against me. I think I’m one of the nice ones, rare as we are.

   More on “successful.” You see, they weren’t Visions I was experiencing, but something else. They started a few months after my twentieth birthday. I was very confused and frightened by them. They felt totally alien—but somehow very familiar. Increasingly panicked, I packed my bedroll and several days’ worth of food, enough to get to Lageb, the nearest village and first stop on my journey, made sure I had my passport, and off I hiked.

   My ultimate destination was Echeld, in the heart of Munchkinland, more than a week away. In my case it was closer to eleven days, since I was determined to avoid that damn bridge. A highly regarded metaphysician lived there, and I had plenty of gold to see him. Don’t envy me for that. That fortune came at a tragic cost—losing my entire family.

   Long story short ... Oh, hell, I’ll just give you the long version.

   I got to Echeld in the late afternoon of the tenth day, booked a bed at the inn (the only one there that accommodated humans), and tried to relax. My father had been highly respected by Munchkins, having supervised the construction of several major civic projects of theirs, including this very inn (humans didn’t typically stoop—physically or in any other way—to help Munchkins). I visited Echeld once when I was ten, yet Mr. Dinys, the innkeeper, still recognized me and ordered the help to ready the best room, then insisted after I cleaned up and settled in to feed me at the Carrot Table, which was reserved for human luminaries passing through. I felt thoroughly humbled and red-faced sitting there while other patrons glanced at me and whispered animatedly.

   Mr. Dinys’ daughter served me. I was shocked—she was human! After she brought out my soup (which was delicious—beef with barley), I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

   “I’m sorry,” I blurted. “Forgive me ... but you’re human.”

   She snickered sweetly. “You noticed.”

   I laughed nervously. “I did.”

   I hoped she would provide an explanation, but she blushed and hurried off. With some disappointment (for she was quite pretty), I took a spoonful of soup. Delicious. Mr. Dinys appeared soon after and filled my mug with some of his famous ale. It was as good as rumored. After the fourth refill, I was lubricated enough to relax the reins on my mouth.

   “Your daughter is quite pretty.”

   He was walking away. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder.

   “Oh?”

   I held up my hand. “No offense. I was just commenting.”

   He turned to face me fully. “Her name is Brynn. She’s sixteen. We adopted her.” He gave a short bow. “I will convey your compliments.”

   “Oh, no,” I started. “Please don’t—”

   But Mr. Dinys had turned away and was speaking to a couple at a nearby table.

   I finished the cup, dropped more than enough coin on the table to pay for everything and tip the very pretty help, and left for my room.

   Once inside, I stripped off my clothes and fell into bed and was asleep instantly. Thankfully, I wasn’t visited by another one of those “visions.”



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Extra Notes: Personal Tales from Along the Pier


This blog turns three years old in a couple of months. In truth, it is much older than that: it's closer to twelve years old. The original Pier to Forever I created right here on Blogger back in 2007. Back then, however, it was almost all thoughts and essays like this. I don't recall posting much else--my stories and such. Back then, blogging was still a "thing," and so I began getting lots of hits and comments. A couple of posts went semi-viral, and that's when I discovered the lovely existence of trolls, some of whom took exception to what I was saying and began flaming me. Frustrated with them, and with the blog's slowing growth, I gave it up a couple of years later. By then the pundits had declared that blogging was "yesterday." Foolishly, I listened to them.

"Foolishly, I ..." is a sentence that I can use far too often looking back on my life, I suppose. Many foolish decisions have I made in the course of the past half-century-plus. I look back on them with regret. Most of them, at least. But I'm inclined to agree that a life without regrets, perhaps a lot of regrets, perhaps a few very strong regrets, isn't a life that was really lived. Foolishness is just par for the course for human beings. We're finite, small, pathetic creatures when you get right down to it.

------

When I quit the original version of this blog, I also quit Facebook. The year was 2010. My tutoring business had just died. Kye and I were broke to the point of homelessness. She had just started her copywriting business. We couldn't afford a full apartment, so we rented a bedroom in a home from a Scientologist, who turned out as crazy and immoral as his religion. We moved out into another bedroom in La Mesa (a suburb of San Diego), this one with a retired Salvadoran emigrant and his American wife. They had been married more than sixty years. He was underwater on his mortgage and desperate for cash, so he rented one of his bedrooms to us. We stayed there two years. He turned out to be no better than the Scientologist.

We bought a 1984 Pace Arrow, fixed her up, called her the TARDIS, and moved to a trailer park in El Cajon, an eastern exurb of San Diego. I made the mistake of criticizing the park management on a form specifically asking for criticism, so the management--of course--kicked us out. We gassed up the TARDIS and left San Diego altogether, stopping finally in Smith River, California, the northernmost township in the state, just a minute or two from the Oregon border.

We stayed in that park for two years. What a filthy, rotten, despicable place. Drugs, prostitution, a criminal management team, grotesque disregard for hygiene and enforcing their own rules. We packed up again and moved to Gold Beach, up the Rogue River a little ways, to a park we ended up staying at for four years, until we got evicted because I reported the owner to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) when I saw his employees killing baby swallows. That decision wasn't a "Foolishly, I ..." decision. Not in the least. The owner and his family were, and are, horrific, monstrous people. I'd always known that. If faced with the same circumstances again, I'd do the same thing--again, and again, and again.

We moved downstream a mile to another, much smaller, much quieter park. So far, it has worked out just fine. We'll see how it goes.

Since 2010, I have looked for gainful employment probably three hundred or more times. I've never received an interview. Two reasons prevail. The first is my age. I'm past fifty, and ageism in the United States isn't just a "thing," it's practically enshrined. The second is my credit, which is terrible. In the U.S., employers are allowed to check your credit score. If it sucks, as mine does, they are well within their rights to refuse you employment, or fire you if you are already working for them. It's a human rights violation, plain and simple, but as the world is perhaps noticing now, the United States couldn't give two shits about human rights. The white supremacists have thrown off their hoods and taken over our government. But the truth is, they've always been in control.

And so I write. And write. And write. Twenty-four titles since then, with probably three new ones to be added by the end of this year.

Titles almost no one has read, and probably never will read.

That's tough to deal with for a year, let alone a goddamned decade. The human animal is a tribal one, and requires recognition and praise from his peers for his hard work. I've more or less gone without not just a decade, but the high end of two decades. It has worn on me in ways I can't elucidate fully.

So in the past week, I made a couple of hard decisions.

The first is this: I rejoined Facebook. I know, I know: I've posted right here on this blog probably dozens of times how much I fucking hate that site and that I'll never rejoin it ever again. But this past week, I went against those promises and rejoined anyway. I can (maybe) live with the decision, because I'm sick and tired of not having, not finding, my tribe. My community. Over two billion people use that social media tumor. If I'm going to find my tribe, it'll probably have to start there, for better or for worse.

The second decision is less morally gruesome. I'm going to return to church. Not the Catholic Church in which I was raised, no. But the Unitarian Universalist Church which I became a member of in 2003. There's a tiny congregation in Coos Bay a couple hours north of here. Kye and I are going to the Sunday service tomorrow morning. If that turns out okay, I'll make an effort to get up there monthly, maybe bi-monthly. We'll see. It's a liberal church with a strong progressive stance, and with a strong commitment to social justice. Right up my alley.

------

I have "smoked" since rejoining Facecrotch. "Smoking" is the term Kye and I use to refer to the activity of looking up people from our past. I've spent a couple hours doing so the past two days.

One thing I can say doing it is this: I do not regret leaving those people behind. If their Facebook profiles are anything to go by--and I believe they are, being highly curated "best of" showcases of suburban bullet points--those individuals live shallow, consumptive, meaningless lives. I actually feel sorry for them. Life is plastic smiles, "toys"--cars and motorcycles and fancy houses and the newest tech; it's gleaming white teeth, Republican propaganda, skin-crawling self-promotional podcasts, cat GIFs, smarmy inspirational sayings from people who largely do not deserve to be quoted for any reason, videos of their kids learning to be good suburbans, vain efforts to hide ballooning asses and guts and balding heads, trip photos out the yazoo, and mindless, thoughtless 'likes' and emoticons and Jesus just shoot me already why did I rejoin this cultural cesspool O God I think I sold my soul to Satan.

As for this blog, it's going nowhere. I love this digital space. I've made it into something special. And it's only going to get better and better.

What a motherfucking ride it's been.


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Update: late October, 2020:
I've already re-quit Facebook.
And the church?
Covid-19 destroyed that little venture
for me, less than a month after originally
publishing this essay.
There you go.

The Emergent Crown

 

The Emergent Crown

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