Sun, 1 Jun 2014

4AM: a Conversation

— SjG @ 9:46 am

Me: Huh? What?
Brain: Hello.
Me: Why am I awake? I have to get some sleep before tomorrow’s big meeting.
Brain: I thought this might be a good time to go over some of the more embarrassing and painful moments of your past.
Me: What? Why now.
Brain: Oh, I don’t know. I just figured it would be — well, think about how you could have done so much better, even as a child —
Me: Oh no. We’re not going to dwell on that the lunch bag incident again? That was forty years ago!
Brain: I wasn’t planning on revisiting the lunch bag incident. Still, it is an excellent starting point.
Me: I don’t know why I stomped on that kid’s lunch. He left it out after first recess.
Brain: You know, I have an image of that’s kids face around here somewhere. Ah yes, here it is. He remembered his lunch, and came out to find you and those other kids taking turns stomping on it. Look at that expression!
Me: Oh, God.
Brain: The fact that he probably has no memory of this at all does nothing to lessen the impact of that image. Here, look again!
Me: I need to sleep, not remember ancient history.
Brain: Ancient history! Right, well, I had planned on starting even earlier than first grade.
Me: What?
Brain: Remember in Kindergarten? There was the African-American kid?
Me: He was the first African-American I’d really talked to.
Brain: Right. And you asked him why his hair was “so weird” didn’t you?
Me: I was just a stupid kid!
Brain: Oh, but the questions of stupid kids have impact too. And do you remember the name you called him?
Me: I … no, I can’t —
Brain: You called him “Jaunty.” I have no idea where you came up with that, but remember how much he hated it?
Me: I —
Brain: But you insisted on calling him “Jaunty.” Even I don’t remember his real name, but you liked to annoy him with that nickname.
Me: I don’t know why!
Brain: But you did it. I’m here to remind you of that!
Me: I need to sleep. Can we go through this some other time?
Brain: No, no, no. This is a perfect time!
Me: I have to sleep. I have a meeting tomorrow, and I’ll make more stupid regrettable mistakes if you don’t let me sleep.
Brain: We’ve only just started. I have volumes of material here.
Me: Please?
Brain: Just two incidents, and you already quitting? No, no, no.
Me: Let me sleep.
Brain: Let me see. I have here, seven… no, eight other episodes from Kindergarten alone.
Me: Sleep. I need to sleep.
Brain: Or, perhaps you’d rather jump forward to college? Those are fresher. And, I might add, more embarrassing too. Shall we start with that woman with whom you played those weird eye-contact games during your Literature in Translation class?
Me: Please let me sleep!
Brain: Or shall we review that night you drank too much and barged in on your crush when she was trying to finish her term paper?
Me: OK, that’s it. You’re going to let me sleep, or else.
Brain: Or else? Or else what? You can’t do anything to me. I’m you!
Me: I’m serious. Let me sleep!
Brain: What’re you going to do if I don’t? Drink some booze? Then we can just drunk-dial your ex, and get more material!
Me: I could go out to the garage right now, and start huffing acetone. That’d shut you down!
Brain: You wouldn’t do that.
Me: Keep me awake much longer, and I will!
Brain: You sound like you’re serious.
Me: I am absolutely serious. I mean it!
Brain: OK, OK then. We’ll reconvene on this some other time.
Me: Thank you.
Brain: OK, sleep well then.
Brain: (oh, and enjoy this dream about large spiders)

Mon, 31 Dec 2012

Weight of Things

— SjG @ 4:26 pm

It was bad luck that Ponderus, Fifth Imperial Lord of Varia, was born on a day with exceptionally light gravity. The Royal Minister of Standards duly weighed out the calibration stones, and a clockwork chain of events began: the Royal Metallurgist selected materials from her mineral store-room, and crafted the Standard Unit; from there, countless copies were cast at the Imperial Forge, endless couriers and emissaries spread out across the land, bringing the new metric to cities, towns, and villages alike.

Merchants groaned at the new metric, for, as luck would have it, the Fourth Imperial Lord had been born on a day of extremely high gravity, thus the old metrics had been small and easily carried. Now with Ponderus, the Fifth Imperial Lord, this convenience was gone. If someone purchased a simple quarter King of flour, it required seven large stones on the balance.

It was a mere four months later when Simon Waggoner, a potato farmer, had had enough. Over the course of the morning, he’d had to weigh out a thirty-king of potatoes twelve times, and something inside him snapped. In the middle of the market, he threw down his metrics onto the floor, shattering two of them. The entire throng of merchants, farmers, restauranteurs, household shoppers, and all fell silent and drew back. Inevitably, the word would get out, and soon armored legions of the Royal Knights would march in.

“Friends,” implored Simon. “I am nothing if not a loyal subject of his Supreme Majesty. But, if he loved his subjects, would he not give us a convenient weight, regardless of the day’s gravity?”

And thus the War of The Metric began…

Mon, 8 Oct 2007

Microfiction: Aachen’s Corvid

— SjG @ 9:14 pm

(In order to better motivate myself to work on a novella that I started last year, I plan to occasionally post little excerpts, sketches, and ideas here. These may or may not wind up as part of the final work, if in fact, a final work ever is produced.)

Strutting along the antenna, twenty stories above the crashing sea, the crow was a moving painting, colored vividly by the light of the setting sun. Ruffled feathers, glittering eye, he was an agitated study in deep charcoal, cobalt blues, and oil-slick opalescence.

On many a day, this crow might be found here, admiring himself, studying his fine reflection in the glass of the control system dials. Or he might be frolicking in the stiff updraft of the winds rushing over the seawall, or croaking out territorial challenges, or flirting, soaring low over the rookeries, or talking history with the murder, recounting the histories of the surrounding places (histories that generally revolved around the memories of particularly fine scavenging). But not today.

The others were keeping distant. Earlier, they had fluttered away upon his approach. The crow paced, turned to peck at the itch of a mite. The morning, so recent, was a muddled confusion. Now images, fragmentary and alien, flashed into his thoughts. He contemplated briefly a sudden, unbroken dive down to the sea-rocks, shattering amidst the ruins of this waning day.

Words formed. Words that were unfamiliar, but their meaning was clear.

The crow didn’t dive. He didn’t look at his reflection in the machinery of the pumping station. He knew what he would see. He’d seen the glint of metal on the back of crows’ heads before.

He knew that he had been split apart from the murder forever.