Starfall

The manned probe was the first of its kind. It was built for a crew of 5 people, and its mission was to fly beyond the bounds of our solar system. Engines and rockets were built using what few blueprints remained of the Nazi superweapon that had threatened the world only two decades ago. In 1965, man attempted to truly venture beyond. There were a lot of speeches, a lot of high minded optimism, and a lot of men on earth hungering for a life away from it. They were the ones who wanted it, but not the ones who did it. That fell to a few lucky astronauts who weren’t so keen on something so risky.
Captain George Reeder didn’t remember his crew’s names anymore. There was no way to send a transmission when the craft exploded. A wave of light bombarded them. He distinctly recalled a crewman mentioning that it wasn’t coming from the direction of the sun. It tore through the ship, and in an instant, it was reduced to a mass of debris.
George watched as his 4 crewmen choked and died in the vacuum of space. He remembered their drifting forms, still in the airless void.
For some reason, though, George didn’t die. He simply hovered in space, unharmed, but without a way to propel himself in any other direction, he spin in circles as he hurtled past the planets.
It was a disorienting experience, initially. He couldn’t figure out a way to slow his spin, and very quickly vomited out everything in his stomach within hours of the accident. He could reposition himself, but the spinning never ceased. He learned how to not let it bother him, and after what seemed like an eternity, he was able to simply sleep.
And sleep he did. There was nothing else to do, and he had no equipment or tools to communicate with anyone or anything. He was a man, spinning endlessly, shooting through space at an extremely fast speed. Immortality meant nothing if he had to spend it bored out of his mind.

Years passed. He spun. He felt himself leaving the solar system.
He wished he could finally be home. Everyone thought he was dead, and, if he was honest with himself, he was. There was no trace of him, and no trace of his crew. The ship had been reduced to nothing, and the rest of his crew was most likely turned to ash.
But then the light hit him. It didn’t happen instantly, though. George saw it moving towards him for a very long time. It moved very slowly—relative to his position in space and its distance from him. He waited for a very long time, trying to think of what it could possibly be.
It was a curtain of light, shining in a nearly endless array of color. Beams of gold seemed to fly from it, giving it the look of a spiked ball.
He hoped it would kill him. If he died, then everyone back home mourning him wouldn’t be lying to themselves. He wouldn’t be forced to come home again, and tell them that they lied to themselves, and that he was actually alive all this time.
He wanted to die, but if his body could survive years in the vacuum of space, then he feared that nothing would truly be able to kill him. He was afraid that his immortality was total and all-encompassing.
There was no comfort in that. He feared that he would suffer forever without any way to lessen or even end it. And what is an existence of suffering without a way to end it, or even mitigate that suffering?
It was horror. It wasn’t living. It was simply a way to mark time until the end came, and even then he might survive it.
I will never be, ever again, he thought. His mind was consumed almost exclusively by thoughts of what he’d like to do to die. He imagined a chair with a noose, breaking his neck when he kicked it from under his feet. A fistful of pills along with a bottle of his favorite bourbon. That would be a nice way to go. Just kick back and let sleep take you.
He could put a gun to his head and pull the trigger, splattering his brain all over the walls. Destroy his ability to live instantly. That would be pretty nice. He would like that. A simple and easy way to end his suffering.
It would all be a hell of a lot better than the life he had to live right now.

He was so totally entranced by imagining increasingly elaborate ways to kill himself that he didn’t notice when the light hit him. It filled his vision and bombarded every inch of his body in the most intense heat he had ever felt. His uniform burned away, leaving him completely naked in space, trapped within a golden ball of radiation.
He didn’t resist it at all. He had hoped for this moment for what felt like eternity. He could finally die now! He could know that all of the framed photographs wreathed in flowers, the pomp and circumstance of his and his crew’s funeral, the tears the entire world would shed for him and his comrades—it would all be completely true now. No more holding out hope, no more looking up at the stars and thinking “maybe they’re wrong”.

But something happened. He stopped spinning. He started moving in the opposite direction. He started moving back to the solar system, and very fast. Faster than he thought possible.
His muscles tightened and felt like they were going to explode. His mind opened to the vast possibilities of the universe. He saw himself as a part of it, a cog in the vast machinery of existence.
And he grew so strong. Stronger than even he thought possible. The light was giving him life.
And he hated it. This was the true toll of his power.

Coffee? Maybe

Like what you read? Want more? Why not help me out by buying me a coffee?

I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to, which is weird. Since I started writing my coffee intake has lessened, and I’ve actually managed to write even more than I did when I was drinking up to six cups a day!
The obsession writers have with coffee confuses me sometimes. My intake was well over normal, and I felt like I just couldn’t get anything done. Just a bundle of jitters and frayed nerves.
Cutting back definitely helped me out a lot. I was finding focus coming more easily to me during my working sessions, especially when I started a new round of medication. The process was all about finding what worked for me and how that could improve my life.

These days, I have my morning cup and that’s really it. I sometimes treat myself with an afternoon cup on colder weekends, but that’s about it. Coffee and I are finally good.

A few thoughts on IT

-aside from Pennywise himself and the weird scene at the end, i knew next to nothing about the plot of the book. the movie trailers explained a bit more, but not much more than “clown lives a long time”. i honestly thought it was some sort of John Wayne Gacy serial killer monster clown. What I got was both weirder and scarier than my initial impressions.
 
-speaking of that weird scene at the end, i get why it’s there, it’s not written in a gross or skeevy way, and it makes sense. still a strange thing to read
 
-the gut churning cruelty that the book runs on made it a tough read at some points, but i liked its overall message and themes. surprisingly hopeful, for all of its darkness and violence.
 
-the difficulty of adapting such gruesome and graphic material definitely caused some strain in the television adaptation. in order to tell the whole story, IT would have had to be at least twice as long.
 
-all of this does leave me wondering what will make it into the movie. the inciting incident that leads to their reunion was not something i had expected to read, and me being who i am, turned my stomach in the worst way. king’s sensitivity on this and mike’s character makes it clear where he comes down on it, but still, IT was not an easy read.

Captain Ron

Captain Ron was the galaxy’s most accomplished mercenary. He was a lonely man who lived in the shadows of his coming death, and with it, the extinction of his species.
His life was always war. The Dogmen of Sarrak-4 were soldiers all. He rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming captain of his own ship. He saw action from just outside the galactic core to the farthest reaches of the spiral arms. He never lost a man, and was not above fighting himself.
The Dogmen resisted entrance to the Consortium—they would not have a seat in the senate, and had no say in any negotiations as a consequence. They waged war against them, demanding a seat at the table, but the Triumvirate never wavered—entrance into the government must be earned, by blood and by deed.
Ron joined this war at its end. The Emissary from Sarrak-4 had been killed in single combat during a dispute with the Kharite Champion, the Triumvirate member of the planet Khar. In retaliation, a Dogmen capital ship directly attacked Origin Station, the seat of the Triumvirate.
Everyone on board was killed, and soon the Consortium turned its full military might Sarrak-4. Ron’s ship was captured and his crew killed. It was only after he valiantly killed 7 Kharite soldiers alone did he see the video. His home planet, the seat of his civilization, shot through like paper.
A voice could be heard on the video feed. “Let this be a lesson to any who would threaten us: the Khar are the sword of the Consortium, and we will never hesitate to wield our full might.”
That day, he disappeared to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, never to be found again.

There would be rumors, of course. A heist at Origin Station by a Dogman. An entire battalion of Kharite soldiers ambushed and killed. A Scion-Separatist rebellion that culminated in an official recognition of a new species of AI. The exposure a Doza-led slave ring that led to the dismissal of the Dozan member of the Triumvirate.
Ron would never admit to any of them. He would do the job he was assigned, take his money, and run. He wanted to die at this point, but it seemed like nothing would let him. He kept doing more and more dangerous jobs, hoping that someday it would happen.

He finished burying the bodies. He was supposed the head of a security detail for a new colony. They paid top dollar for the mythical Captain Ron. A sickness claimed the life of the entire crew, and the security detail.
There was no one left but Ron. He threw the shovel aside and went to the comm tent. There was a bottle of Alkt on the table with the comm device—it was to be a celebratory drink when the colony was up and running. Ron drank half the bottle in one gulp. It burned all the way down, and his stomach felt like it could catch fire.
He fiddled with the dials, trying to find something. No one was out this far, he knew, but maybe he might get a lucky signal.
A twist of a couple of dials pulled up something strange. It looked like an old Kharite faster-than-light broadcast channel. The encryption told him that it was probably a secret relay channel that no one had bothered to use anymore, possibly for decades.
He couldn’t make out the language clearly, but it wasn’t Kharite. The transmission came with a host of pictures depicting a planet not unlike his own—blue oceans, continents, white cloud cover. It made him tear up a bit.
Also included were coordinates. They were old Kharite standard galactic coordinates, and they didn’t match up with any known world in the Consortium database.
“Come to Earth, we have Godsteel. We are looking for someone to train soldiers for a new era of war. Come to Earth, we have Godsteel. This message repeats.”
He ran it through the translators on hand, and couldn’t find an exact match, but he constructed enough of it to know “Godsteel” and “War”.
He’d work for free if he had to.

How I Got Here

I’ve been reading for a very long time, probably my whole life. I don’t remember the very earliest stuff, but there’s a good chance it involved some kind of book and some kind of reading. My parents liked to tell me that I taught myself how to read, which I’m still skeptical about, but I was reading beyond what a kid my age should be reading from the start.
Writing was also a big part of my life, and always has been. For as long as I could hold a pencil, I was telling stories with words. They weren’t all very good—in fact, I’d venture that exactly none of them were good—but I was writing. Putting pen or pencil to paper and creating some kind of world with nothing but my own imagination was the most thrilling feeling to me. I couldn’t give it up, no matter how hard I tried. Grades suffered, parents got angry, teachers shook their head at my untapped “potential”, but I kept going. There wasn’t anything else but the writing, and if I wanted to be a writer, how could I do that if I didn’t write?
During my high school years, I read everything I could get my hands on—fantasy novels, science fiction, terrible manga, terrible comic books, classic comic books, secretly classic comic books that more people should read (*cough*Milligan/Allred x-comics *cough* the fact that they don’t get the recognition they deserve is criminal *cough*), literary fiction, old books, poetry—just all of it. I played a lot of RPG’s too—KOTOR II and FF IX were favorites of mine that I played over and over. I discovered George R. R. Martin and devoured the first three ASOIAF books in rapid succession (still waiting on that one). Neil Gaiman’s Sandman showed me that comics could be more than superheroes. Watchmen showed me that superheroes could be both more and less than superheroes in the most moving and heartbreaking ways possible. Fiction and creating it were all I wanted out of life, and that seemed to be moving somewhere.
And in all that time, those 4 years of high school, when I saw Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and dug through piles of used back issues of comic books, I started to create my own heroes. They were little more than rips of other characters—a Cyclops copy here, a self-insert mutant who could touch Rogue skin to skin without being injured there—but the ideas kept flowing out of me. I made little teams of teenage heroes, each with their own *extreme* power, and called one of them…
[I’m doing this for 1.) dramatic emphasis, and because 2.) I’ve only typed this out a few times before in public, and 3.) it has never gotten easier or less embarrassing.]
Tiem Pzycotik. Having no internal editor or sense of shame, I pressed on, fleshing them out and making more and more stories. There was a world being created, and I didn’t want to lose it. Superheroes and all of their flashy and not-flashy powers, set against villains who were evil zombie-robot-samurai or just plain mutant zombies, or even just a guy with a robot suit and a bad attitude. It was all mine, it was all here, and I was going to stay on it.
Life got in the way after high school. I made several mistakes in trying to figure out my place in the world, first listening to too many outside voices and shoving myself into a place where I didn’t fit. I tried to study music for about a year, had a nervous breakdown, and failed miserably. I came back to my parents’ home as a failure and a disappointment.
This story is really getting away from me, I think we’ll have to continue it another day.

A Forgotten Death

Captain Crash was tied to a chair in a what looked like a featureless concrete room. He opened his eyes, but his left was swollen shut. His mouth was filled with blood, and when he spit, he could see that at least two teeth flew out in it.
Above him was a single hanging lamp, casting a pale greyish green light over him. It made the blood turn almost black. He could smell an awful mix of sulfur and blood in the air, mixed with cigarettes and perfume. Oranges and vanilla. That meant one thing.
The Secretary had found him.
He tried to break free from his bonds, but they were heavy steel bolted to the chair and to the ground. He could move his hands and feet, but nothing else. His eye wandered the room, trying to take in any extra detail, something that could tell him where he was—if he could figure that out, maybe he could get out of here alive. His chest was compressed. He could barely breathe. That meant no screams.
The chair rose from the ground, and spun 180 degrees. There was a door, a heavy steel thing with no knob.
And there were no windows he could break. This would be a tough job, even for a seasoned hero like Crash.
“Did you think it would be that easy, Captain Anders?” A voice asked from the corner. “You’d just report to the facility and think I wouldn’t notice?”
She was standing over a table, resting her hands in a bucket. The jacket of her impeccably tailored powder blue pantsuit was resting on a chair. Her sleeves were rolled up, and she was wearing a pair of wooden vambraces, covered in intricately carved inlays, filled with rubies and gold. She was holding her hands in a bucket of ice. It sloshed around as she flexed her fingers. “I’m nowhere near as strong as I used to be, I gotta tell ya. This happens more and more now.”
“Madam Secretary, I’m an officer in the United States Military, and an official Post-Human Operator,” he said through broken teeth and swollen lips. “You’re not gonna get away with this.”
She lifted her hands from the bucket, and toweled them off. Moving with an inhuman quickness, she was on him, and her fist met his jaw. Everything went white for a moment, and then he returned to the world. Her fists and the vambraces were glowing in eerie red and gold hues.
“Captain, you’re the first person to leave the facility that the Vice President was able to read.” In the corner he stood, stock still and towering, eyes glowing purple. “He got something from you. Nothing definite—impressions, really.”
“But we got something from you. Oh boy, we got something from you.” The VP’s eyes glowed brighter and Crash could feel him digging into his head.
“Well, Mr. Vice President, let’s see them!”
Crash felt his world convulse. A sound like sheet metal wobbling filled his head, and then the cell around him faded into blackness. A new world began to snap into place. The images were blurry and ragged, drained of nearly all their color. “We think they might have tried to wipe your memories when you left, but your abilities necessitate a stronger bone structure and a muscle mass than can withstand your own power, so whatever they did, it didn’t take—not all the way. You’ve got a thick skull and a fatter brain. Makes it tough to really get in there.”
It was a large containment unit. The General was standing next to him, and on Crash’s other side, a 8 foot tall beast that walked like a man. He wore a uniform that suggested elite military, but in his heart, he knew this was a real life alien.It was filled with a luminescent green fluid. Wires ran through it, connecting to a body, completely still in the fluid. “Entros,” one of them said. “—of some kind. We’re still—fig—ossibly mean.”
“Yes. —In gods. ——Must be close—“
And behind them was a door.
The memory ended, and Crash was back in the real world.
The Secretary bent over to look Crash in the eye. “They’re hiding something, and you lived to tell about it. I couldn’t let that slide.”
The VP nodded. “This is a good start to an investigation, son. You’ve tipped us off to something big.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t let you live. We have to deal with these issues discreetly, and a Post-Human is far too great a liability to keep around.”
“Why?”
“It’s been twenty years, son. The United States has struggled for two decades to restore truly powerful superheroes to its ranks. You know better than most. You fought the top when after everyone died. Even today, we live in the shadow of Fort Conger. Starfall destroyed everything, and we’re picking up the pieces. We wanted new heroes. A way to truly push us forward, and you know.” Another jaw blow. “Or know enough. We’ll get what we need and stop,”
Visions again. They were so intangible. They resisted any kind of touch. The buildings were made of wisps of silk, then the world disappears into a silk, as far as the eye could see. Crash could see the office, its fabric form billowing away in the unusually strong winds today.
“Give me a second longer.” The VP thought, and then nodded.
Nodding to the VP, his eyes glowed more intensely once again, and Crash’s restraints were removed. “It may not be the greatest way to go, but a decorated soldier such as yourself deserves to die on your feet.”
Making the most of it, Crash let out the loudest scream he possibly could. The VP fell to the ground, unconscious, while the Secretary kept her footing, even with the concrete cracking and breaking around her.
She delivered a flurry of punches to his face, and he did his best to block them, but she was too fast. His defenses were breaking and she was getting through, battering his cheeks and jaw. A final punch landed square in his nose, reducing it to a red ruin, and body blow seemed to collapse his stomach.
He fell to his knees, unable to breathe. The scream subsided. He couldn’t see anything. His arms felt limp and cold. The only feeling was the presence of the Secretary, looming over him.
“That was a fine showing, Captain, but I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve dealt with sonic abilities.” She put her hand on his forehead, and he could feel her hand beginning to close.
He attempted to speak, but nothing came out but blood and wheezing. He noticed he was beginning to cry.
“I’m sorry soldier, but your service to this country is at an end.” She closed her fist and Captain Crash’s skull cracked and splintered, stabbing fragments into his brain. It was at that point he lost consciousness and ceased to be.
Grey matter curled around her fingers, and she opened her head, letting the ruined corpse slump to the ground. “Fucking shame to lose him. You awake, Aaron?”
The VP rolled over, rubbing his head. He got to his hands and knees and vomited. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Good, ‘cause we have some work to do.”

GET GOING

So you’ve decided to write a novel. Great!
Where the hell do you start?
That’s easy—you start at the beginning, of course. Not the beginning of the novel, but the beginning of your process, which you’re going to discover over the course of creating this thing.

1. Get Started

This is the part of the creative journey that will never change for any writer, no matter what. All creative projects—a novel, short story, novella, serial work—they all have a beginning. Every writer has to take that first step into the unknown. That’s scary! There’s a whole world of prose waiting to be written, and you’re staring at all of it floating there in your head, just waiting to be put down on the page. Trust me, you’re not alone. All of us, regardless of status or ability, grapple with this part of writing each time a new work begins.
So how do you combat this? What are some of the ways you can avoid the paralyzing fear of getting down to the work that needs to be done?

There’s a simple answer, and a complex one. I’ll get the simple one out of the way first.

BUTT IN CHAIR. WORDS ON PAGE. That’s all there is to it, and there’s no substitute for that basic tenet of writing. If you take nothing else away from my advice, I want you to know that is the true secret to writing. Everything else is just fluff designed to make that part easier.

But, I promised you a more complex answer, and a complex answer you shall have. Here goes!

Find something you’re passionate about.
Brainstorm ideas.
Don’t worry about the quality of the idea.
Pick something to latch onto.
Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Trust yourself.
Be critical, but don’t be cynical.

That’s it. I’ll go into each point in depth later on.

Boredom

Boredom, idleness, all of that “not working” time. Sometimes it feels like it takes up a good portion of our days, others, almost none. It takes many forms.
That time at home, when there’s nothing to do, and you don’t want to push yourself to act. You just sit and take in whatever’s at hand. You let your mind wander and drift away, because there’s nothing demanding your attention.
Those waiting times, in line, in lobbies, in traffic, those liminal between spaces, where you’re separate from the world in a way, caught between reality before and reality after. It can feel tense, the minutes ticking by slowly, oh so slowly, waiting for that moment to come, when you’re called on, or the cars lurch forward ever so slightly, or when things just finally break from their stasis and just MOVE.
There’s the late night boredom, eyes open in a world gone to sleep. A world lit by streetlights or starlight or moonlight, but a world where the familiar has receded into the darkness, rendering it unfamiliar.
I like those moments. I savor them.

Prologue

The world as we know it died 20 years ago. In a sense, it is kept existing, let those who truly understand no the the world is gone, and it could be dying.
Every major superhero died all at once in one-day, and Hell followed with their deaths. It was a very long summer that year, in 1996, when every major super villain decided to rise up at the same time. People called at the bedlam—it was a period of almost constant undressed, Full of people who held the almost unimaginable power, with only the weakest able to stand against him.
In probably, the tide shifted to the people, in some measure of order was restored to the world, but the scars remained. This is a world without its greatest heroes, its greatest powers, in the sense that something was missing could be felt.
No new exactly what was missing. There was something missing in the air, there was there cosmic absence. The stairs still shined overhead, the moon still hung over the earth, but there was something that couldn’t be felt anymore. What was the sense that a vital organ have been removed, or that several limbs had been amputated at once.
Most people simply thought this was an effective losing so many powerful heroes once, but there remainder a very small group of people who thought otherwise. They were sure let’s something more terrible had happened, and they were determined to try and figure out what that could possibly be