I Really Need Some Help

I hate this sort of thing. I’ve been trying not to drown everyone with it. But clocks are ticking and I have exhausted the last resources I could think of. So, unfortunately, you all get stuck with a whining, begging post, in the hopes that it somehow finds its way to a place that might get some results.

The basics: Things have not been good. Most of you are likely aware of it. Among the things that have occurred due to that scenario is my computer landed in a pawn shop. At the time, things seemed like they would work out; but coming down with strep throat and having my car explode monkey wrenched that.

Now, were it just a computer, I’d probably say “shit happens” and move along. I love my computer, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just pragmatic enough to know that it is just a thing. The problem is that this particular thing happens to have every manuscript I’ve worked on since I started writing on it. It has all the photos, artwork, cover files, PDFs and everything else that goes into a finished product. It has all the software and code to my programming projects. It has all my notes, my trial runs, my finished-but-not-yet-edited books. Some of that made its way to my tablet via the wonders of cloud sync, but not all by any means. Not even close.

In short, it contains the last twenty (and nearly 30) years of work. Hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, tears, all locked in that little box. Unless I can find a way to rescue it from the pawn shop, it all goes down the drain, and (not to be melodramatic) most likely any lingering urges I have to keep trying go with it.

Sad part? It’s not even that far out of reach. Just far enough that someone in my situation can’t do anything about it.

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So now I’m begging. If you see this, and you’ve got just a second, please give it a share. If you’ve got $5 or $10 floating around you’re not using and want the eternal gratitude (and a blank check for any favor from me I can conceivably grant) of an artist who just wants his box of dreams back, please click the Paypal to the side or visit my GoFundMe. $700 more is all it’ll take. That’s like $2 per Twitter or Blog follower I have. Even less if more people see this.

There’s a ticking clock, or I’d be content to leave the campaign there, thank folks as it came in, take care of things as I could. As of today, I’ve got a three weeks before the flush. October 11 is D-Day.

Please help, if you can. Give a share. Throw $2-5 bucks in the jar; that’s the cost of a cup of coffee. Send me a bill, if you want, and I’ll find a way to repay it as soon as humanly possible. Anything. But please help.

Link Spam:

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/kaineandrews

Paypal: kaineandrews@gmail.com

Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/kaineandrews

 

Fiction: Names

This is something I was tinkering with, maybe to go on /NoSleep. There’s a second half, still being fiddled with it, but I guess I’m looking for some input. Interesting? Not? Want more, or had enough? Ah well. Comments, critiques and flames welcome. Here we go.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Things haven’t been going so well lately, and I’m starting to think I understand the reason. I’m at my wits end, here – you have to be pretty desperate to finally turn to internet groups for help, I think – so I’m hoping someone here has some suggestions.

 

It started about a year ago. The woman I was involved with at the time – Sarah – and a friend of hers – Donnie – were very big on claiming they were witches and had magic powers. Of course, they backpedalled pretty quickly if you pressed them on the issue, didn’t want to actually discuss it or prove anything. This annoyed the hell out of me, as while I like to think of myself as a logical person, I’m also a curious one and willing to contemplate ideas that are a little outside the boundaries of normal, if folks are willing and able to talk about it rationally.

 

I’m not so curious, now.

 

Anyway, after about a week of trying to get them to explain themselves, one night they relented. They said we were all going to go across the street and do a little ritual. “Just a minor one,” they said. “Open the doors, free your mind.”

 

At the time we were living in a dingy little apartment that had the benefit of not needing a lease agreement or a credit check. Part of the reason for the lack of more stringent tenant policies was the location; on one side was an abandoned office complex that hadn’t been able to keep a business running within for more than six months at a stretch. On the other was the local boneyard.

 

I’ve always thought graveyards being haunted was kind of a silly idea. I mean, think about it, if you assume ghosts are real and they’re sentient enough to haunt people, why would they lurk in a graveyard? They could be haunting Katy Perry’s shower or the CIA offices or something. Why sit around a bunch of stones listening to people cry and stupid teenagers screwing around? So the graveyard never bothered me. But my lady and her friend decided it was the best place to do this, because they were sure there were spirits there who would be up for a chat.

 

So off we went, dashing across the street just before midnight, climbing the hill that ran alongside the graveyard’s northern edge, slipping through the broken part of chickenwire fence that I’d found years ago. We didn’t have much with us; a sprig of mint and one of sage, a handful of old pennies, a bit of sea salt twisted into a piece of wax paper, and a small hunk of bread for each of us.

 

They explained the items to me; the mint and sage were meant to keep spirits from getting too close. The smells bothered them, my friends claimed. The pennies were for luck, and because copper – or so they claimed – was an excellent conductor for spirit energy. The salt was in case things went south; throw it at a spook or make a circle around yourself. The bread was to be eaten before the ritual began, grounding us in the physical and keeping us from “drifting away,” so to speak.

 

I let them take the lead, and we wandered around for a bit before Donnie said “This is the spot.” He sat down, indian-style, and we did so as well. He spent a minute fussing, making us shift about until he decided our positions were right, then told us to eat the bread.

 

At this point I was honestly kind of bored. I was half expecting one of our other friends to be hiding behind something, ready to jump out and scare us or something similar. That didn’t happen. Donnie just bowed his head once the bread had been eaten, and started… Praying, I guess? I was raised Catholic, so I know the rhythms and styles, but this wasn’t one I knew. Something about the Goddess and all her attendants watching us, throwing wide the gates. He was mumbling a lot, and I have ear problems, so I didn’t catch all of it. Still thought it was mostly mumbo jumbo, him and Sarah trying to freak me out or have a laugh at my expense, but I went along with it. Bowed my head, clasped my hands, tried to put myself “in the mood,” so to speak.

 

That was all fine and well until Donnie started calling names. I recognized a few – Gabriel, Astarte and Azmodan come to mind – but the litany was pretty long and not all of them seemed made to be pronounced properly. When he started doing that, it started to feel like spiders were crawling all over the back of my neck, and like the temperature had dropped about ten degrees.

 

Color me spooked. Also color me no longer curious. I’d had enough. But when I tried to get up, it seemed like something pressed down on my shoulders, holding me in place. I swear I heard someone whisper in my ear. “Just wait. The best part’s coming.” I didn’t recognize the voice.

 

Starting to get a little freaked out, I stopped trying to get up. Donnie stopped in his recitation of names and prayers. He was grinning ear to ear as he asked Sarah and I to close our eyes.

 

“There. Inside, in the dark. The farthest corner of yourself, locked away from everyone and everything else, that’s where he resides.”

 

I was really not digging this. The feeling of hands resting on my shoulders was getting stronger, and I swore someone – or something – was breathing, almost panting, in my ear.

 

“Who?” the pants seemed to be saying.

 

“Baphomet,” Donnie said, as though replying to them. “And if you really want to understand anything, you’ll let him out to play. All you have to do is say yes.”

 

Sarah was already saying “Yes,” saying it over and over in a breathy voice that almost didn’t sound like her at all. The voices in my ear seemed to be chanting it as well. My tongue seemed heavy and thick in my mouth, and my lips wanted to part, let loose the air that felt locked in my lungs, let it loose in a single exultant affirmative cry.

 

Being asthmatic saved me from that. Saved me from whatever would have happened if I agreed to… Whatever it was. My lungs locked completely, and I started to wheeze and choke. My eyes popped open, and I saw my “friends” looking at me the way a little kid with a magnifying glass looks at a fresh ant colony. Sarah seemed to have at least a little worry in her expression, but Donnie was showing nothing but malevolent glee.

 

I started patting down my pockets, fumbling for my aspirator, and finally got it socketed in my mouth. Pulling the trigger, I tasted the godawful slimy copper taste, and felt my heart rate jump up another two notches, but at least my lungs let go so I could breathe. Watching me whoop and gasp, Donnie shrugged and stood up, declaring the ritual over.

 

 

If I’d been paying attention and applying anything I learned from a thousand bad horror movies, I’d have pointed out that he didn’t close the circle, didn’t tell the things he’d called to leave, that we were done. But I was a little more worried about breathing, at least until we got home.

Brilliance or Stupidity?

I’ve seen a lot of posts and Tweets lately discussing the need to mine ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may be. Polls about how often one has had a seemingly “dumb” idea that turned out to be amazing, how often one comes up with a seemingly dumb idea that turns out to be just what the doctor ordered in their current work in progress, and so on.

But what about the other side of the coin? What about the times you’ve had an idea that seems to be absolute brilliance in a can, that perfect concept that you hadn’t seen done before and that would easily be your great work… and then have a moment where you read back, clutch your head or start bashing your face on the desk and say to yourself: “Jesus. This is fucking stupid.”?

I bet that happens a lot more than people are willing to let on. I know it’s happened to me; in one of the many, many attempts to work on Palace of the Ebon Dragon, I had retooled things to the point where a handful of ancient spirit entities – who may or may not have been angels, though they presented themselves as such – were responsible for keeping the titular dragon chained and sleeping. The dragon has manipulated events to get a special ghost under his thumb, who will then release those bindings and free the beast.

Seemed like a fun and interesting idea, at least until I started writing it. Then it started to feel like bad Mega Man boss rush fanfiction. It was probably fixable, but by the time I realized the problem, I was in too deep. So into the junk pile it went as I attempted a different approach to the story.

I’m sure its not the only time. But it’s the one I remember best. Maybe because I’ve been trying to find a way to tell the Ebon Dragon’s story for fifteen years or so. I’ll figure it out eventually, I guess.

I can’t be the only one, right? What about those of you out there? Have you had an idea that seemed like a flash of insight that turned into rancid milk when you tried to pour it on the page? (Better question; are you able to admit it and suffer the cringing?) Let us know down below!

Fiction: She’s There

I know she’s there. Always. Watching. Waiting.

I don’t know why she’s there. What she really wants. If she even wants anything. If it’s anything that I can give. But she’s there, just the same.

Sometimes I think I see her. Drifting through the corner of my sight, hiding in my peripheral vision, just over a shoulder and whispering in my ear while I’m on the couch watching TV or trying to read.

I say “trying” because when that happens I’m not really doing anything except trying not to scream. When she’s on me like that, right on top of me, I can feel every inch of my skin trying to crawl off my bones and hide. My guts roil inside, and I want to gag and vomit but can’t. I have the almost unbearable urge to begin screaming, but can’t open my mouth to do it or summon enough breath to make anything above a whispering pant that doesn’t even begin to convey the fear and disgust I’m feeling.

I think she does it on purpose. I don’t know what she wants, but I know she likes what she does to me.

I made the mistake of falling asleep on the couch once. It wasn’t like I’d planned it; I did my best to stay the hell out of the living room unless it was broad daylight, or my roommate’s dog was with me, or there were plenty of people home. But I’d been running a fever, slipping in and out of consciousness, and had lurched to the couch to put something mindless and soothing on the TV, thinking it’d help.

I fell asleep, and stayed that way until dawn the next day. But it wasn’t restful. I was trapped, sitting behind the couch and staring at my own body as she poked and prodded and laughed and screamed. I was just as helpless to do anything about it as I was when I was awake. She knew it; I know she knew, because she kept looking up at me – the me that was watching, not the me that was passed out on the couch – and she was grinning. Her teeth were yellow and crooked and reminded me of broken tombstones.

Finally I felt something change, after hours and hours of being forced to sit and watch her. I could see myself stirring, and felt a tugging. I was being pulled back into myself. She seemed to realize it, too, and pulled away from me.

Before the aware version of me was drug into my body again, I saw her slide towards the patio door. It was a big sliding glass style, and the chill of the night had frosted it over. She cocked one finger at me, knowing I was watching, still grinning that graveyard grin. She put one hand against the door, and I saw the frost retreat from her touch. She extended one finger, and traced it against the glass, above the spot she’d put her palm on. Her body shook, and though I couldn’t hear it, I knew she was laughing.

When I woke up – all the way, that is – I stumbled towards that door to look.

A palmprint was perfectly preserved amidst the rime on the door. Just above it, in ragged letters, she’d scratched out a message for me.

“I’m here.”

Upcoming Gaming Goodness

It’s gametime! At least, if you’re into gaming of a technical persuasion. As always, as we lope into the final third of the year, the video game releases start ramping up to the inevitable holiday combat to determine who shall claim the largest pile of cash on Black Friday.

Of course everyone knows Call of Duty will probably claim the crown. It almost always does. Yippie. (Though, to be fair, WWII actually does look like it has potential.) But it’s not on my “must buy” list for the year.

Instead, allow me to share the games that I am frothing at the mouth for, and why.

Vampyr

(Coming November for Windows, PS4 and XBox One)
 
So, let me get this straight. You’re going to give me a Victorian(ish) open world London. You’re going to let me explore that world as a vampire doctor. And then you’re going to give me that world where most (if not all) of the citizens are actual individuals instead of faceless mobs, with routines, personalities and their own little personal dramas that I can assist with or scatter to bits? Yes, please. Oh, and supposedly you can turn everyone you meet into a vampire, if the urge so strikes you. Yes, I will be trying that. I’m sure it screws you up to do it, but I want to see if I can start a vampire apocalypse. Of course, I’m only doing it for science. I’m a doctor! I have to save these patients! And making them vampires is obviously the answer; what better way to combat the flu than ensure the patients aren’t breathing? Sure. We’ll go with that.
Still, in all seriousness, I think the game looks amazing, and has a good potential to scratch the itch that has kept my skin crawling since I finished my time with Geralt in The Witcher 3.
 

Yakuza: Kiwami

(Coming in August for PS4)
 
Take a great crime drama. Inject it with neon, crazy martial arts, a frankly ridiculous number of grunts and stern faces, and the ability to engage in important activites like playing with crane catchers, slot car racing, going on dates with women you pick up in hostess clubs and karaoke singing. Then top it off with a surprisingly touching story about children, lost loves and parental abandonment. That’s Yakuza. Pretty much all of them, really. But once upon a time, it was a little-known release for the PS2, the creators of which probably didn’t expect us to still be disco stomping the hell out of garishly dressed punks and cackling maniacally almost twenty years and ten games later. But for those who haven’t been there since the start (or who adore the games and lament the fact that there’s no PS2 Classics version for download on PS4 and/or whose PS2s or PS3s are sadly deceased), or those who only found the awesomeness of the Yakuza series owing to the popularity and mass availability of Yakuza 0, Sega has decided to throw us a bone with this updated remaster of the original. Supposedly they’ve made some story and translation tweaks, added a few new minigames from later entries in the series as well, so even for returning series veterans, there’s still plenty of fresh stuff to get sucked into.
 

Ghost Theory

(Coming December 2017 for Windows, Mac OSX, PS4 and Xbox One)

This one is more of a cautious enthusiasm; it’s a crowdfunded game, which could be awesome (like Friday the 13th), or godawful (I’m looking at you, Mighty No. 9). But the idea seems like it’s right up my alley: Use psychic powers and “authentic” ghost hunting tools to investigate several supposedly authentic haunted locales? I’m in. The graphics don’t look the best, and from what I’ve seen/heard about the controls, they seem a little wonky. But the idea is enough to make me say “Yes, please! Shut up and take my money!”

There’s other games coming up that I’m looking forward to, of course. South Park: The Fractured But Whole (play an episode of South Park where the kids pretty much decide they’re going to do their own MCU scenario with their own superheroic identities? I’m down.), Assassin’s Creed: Origins (I gave up on the AC series a while ago, but Origins’ new setting – Ancient Egypt – and more RPG-styled focus looks like it may drag me back in.), and Wolfenstien II: The New Colossus (old-school-ish FPS sequel to the frankly friggin’ amazing New Order/Old Blood? I cannot express enough “yes” for this.) Those are higher profile, though, and I was hoping to show off a few folks might not already be drooling on their preorder receipts for. Plus, between those and the ones described above, I lean more to weird vampire/criminal RPGs and ghost hunting. The others’ll end up as PS Plus or Games with Gold specials quickly enough, I’d wager.

 

What about you folks out there? Something coming up this holiday season that you just have to have? Let us know what it is and why it must be played in the box below! 

Running Away

It looks like this may actually happen. The pieces are in place, the logistics mostly worked through, the plans checked and double checked.

Transplanting to Oregon. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Is that something good? I’d like to think so. An environment that is not inherently murderous to someone with my particular blend of physical and psychological deficiencies? Check. Better employment options? Check. A more diverse and accepting artistic community? Check. Cheaper? Check. All positives.

Does that mean there’s no negatives? Probably not. But the apparent positives far outweigh them. But it’s not the concept of how their vehicle registration system works, or figuring state tax on top of federal – and the nightmare that will be calculating two-state income with a potential dab of a week of unemployment covering the “job transfer leave” period in the middle – but things tied to my own unstable mental state.

I’ve heard a saying before: “Put an asshole on a plane in Baltimore, an asshole gets off the plane in LA.” Substitute whatever geographically seperated locations you like in there, it boils down to the same. Gist of it is that a change in locale is not a fix for anything. I disagree, in this particular instance, but that doesns’t mean part of me doesn’t think it’s right. “Sure,” that part of me says, “you’ll be able to breathe, won’t need half those meds you’re currently taking and can cut back on the others, will have better access to the things you need, both personal and professional, and will be in a place you’ve wanted to be since you discovered there were locations other than Nevada in the world. But is that really going to make anything better?”

I know that’s stupid. I know it’s the part of me that is afflicted with a number of issues that the nice man in the white coat gives me all those pills for. I know that while it won’t fix everything, when you take away a large number of stressors and add in some additional supports, it overall makes things better.

But I’m still scared. Terrified that I’m about to press a giant reset button only to end up at the same fucked up checkpoint that I can’t pass, or worse, will only be making it worse.

I don’t know what to do except hope. I may be an asshole getting on a plane in Reno, and I may still be an asshole getting off the plane in Salem… but at least maybe I can be a marginally happier and healthier asshole. Cross your fingers and wish me luck.

Little Miss No Name: Doll Demise

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I think this portion of the greater tale is done, now. I don’t know if it’ll go into any larger final product, or if I’m just performing a brain dump, or if it’s one of those mutliverse things of “how this could have happened” but not directly tied to the actual narrative. But it still entertained me, and thought I’d share. (Commentary about how I am amused by alcoholism and child abuse is probably warranted.)

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

I took a step, moving slow like you do when you sit on your feet too long and it’s all tingly. Then one more. It got easier, so I got a little closer. Mommy was still making that panting noise, and her arms were still sticking out, but she was watching me. Her eyes were leaky and her mouth was twitching and I knew she was scared. Scarder than she had ever made me, maybe.


It was bad girl thinking, but that made me happy. I wanted her scared. I wanted her to hurt. Hurt like she had hurt me. Now I could.


Maybe I was a bad girl. Maybe I was as bad as Mommy said. Maybe I deserved the stuff she did. Maybe it was my fault that Daddy and Oscar were gone. But it felt good to feel bad.


I took another step.


Mommy shook her head, then bent down and grabbed the scrubby for the potty. She bent down and smiled, but not a happy smile. It was a scary smile, the kind she used to get when she’d had too much of her medicine or when she talked about Daddy leaving.

“Come on, you little bitch. You want your Daddy? Your goddamn dog? I’ll make sure you see them.”


Mommy’d said a swear. That was bad; she’d always told me so. That meant she was bad, too. Maybe badder than me. That made thinking bad things okay, didn’t it? It was confusing. I stopped, trying to think.


Mommy ran at me and swung the scrubby, like a baseball player. It hit me in the face, and everything turned sideways again. Then she hit me the other way, and the world flip flopped. I tried to put my hands up or to scream or to cry or anything, but I was stuck again.


She hit me again, and I flew across the room. I hit my head on the wall, and there was a sound like eggs cracking. Everything got real dark. I could still see Mommy, and she was coming closer, but it was like watching shadows dance when your night light was going out.


I wanted to cry. Wanted to say sorry. I was going to be punished for being a bad girl, and I deserved it. Mommy was maybe bad, but she was the Mommy, and that meant I was more bad.


She threw the scrubby behind her, and I heard it land in the tub. She reached down and grabbed me by the foot. She lifted me up, and now she was sideways and upside down.


“I’ll teach you.”


She pulled me back, and then swung me hard, right into the wall. I heard another crack, and everything went black. I couldn’t see anymore, but I felt when she pulled me back and swung me at the wall again. And again. And again.


I felt like I was going somewhere. Away. I thought I heard Daddy, but he was whispering to me, tickling my ears with his beard. I heard a happy bark, and knew Oscar was talking to me.


She swung me one more time, and I went with Daddy.


Bye, Mommy. I’m sorry I made you so mad.


I was a bad girl.


Little Miss No Name: Doll Abuse

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Continuing from previous posts, semi-random snippet that is totally unedited and somewhat freeform. Just liked it. Thought I’d share.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

Then she just stopped. Like someone had hit a button on a clicker that turned her off like a TV. She went all still and frozen, like a plastic person again. I could feel where her fingers were around my arms, and it felt like I was slipping. I wanted to thrash and grab and fight, because I thought she might drop me, but I still couldn’t move and her fingers were getting looser and looser and I thought she was going to drop me in the tub. I didn’t want to go into the tub that way. That was how you got drownded. Gina had told me all about getting drownded once, when she had swimmer lessons. She said people fell in the water and couldn’t get out and tried to breathe water until they turned blue, and then there’d have to be a funeral.


I didn’t want to be blue and have a funeral. Who’d even come? Daddy and Oscar were gone, and I hadn’t seen Gina in forever, and Miss Winters didn’t come over anymore, not since Mommy was mean to her that time, and Mommy was all weird and didn’t like funerals.


But I didn’t fall. Mommy’s fingers grabbed me again, and she started to move. Her mouth opened and her lips pulled really far back. So far I saw the red stuff come out of a spot where her skin had ripped and it spilled down her chin, but she didn’t seem to notice.


I was scared then, scareder than I was when she found my pictures, even. It was even worse than when she told me her stories. So bad I thought I was going to wet myself, just like a baby, but I didn’t. But my eyes got all shimmery and wavy, like I was looking at Mommy under the water, and I wondered if maybe you could get drownded without going in the water. I blinked really hard, and the watery look went away, and I felt something wet go down my face.


Mommy screamed, really loud, the way the girls in the movies late at night screamed when the bad men with masks and sharp stuff caught them. It hurt my ears, even worse than when she was like a teakettle. Then she threw me, really hard.