Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Halloween Story for Y'all

Here's a story I wrote last September. I submitted it to a couple places but it wasn't what they were looking for. So here it is for everyone to see. I hope you like it. And if anyone does happen to read it and you like it enough to publish it, let me know. :)

"Killing Time on a Friday Night"

It had been an incredibly long day at work and an even longer week. In the world of corporate accounting, time was a black hole. Regardless, the week was over and the weekend was charging to life. Well, charging to life wasn’t exactly right, especially since Jared was watching over the dead.

He had been out for over an hour, and the moon was high. Its silvery light shone on the headstones, giant gray teeth that poked out of the ground. A slight breeze blew, carrying the scent of cut grass and the river that flowed between the cemetery and the edge of town. All was quiet.

Usually Jared’s mind would be calm, and he would sit, a living statue in a marble garden. Tonight, however, he couldn’t focus, and the headstone he usually perched upon felt lumpy and foreign. Tomorrow he would get Cassie to cover for him. She owed him anyway, considering how he took four of her shifts when her boyfriend, the preppy, arrogant insurance agent, took her on a surprise getaway. That smug bastard. And what did she see in that jerk anyway? He wouldn’t be able to go five minutes on watch without wetting himself at the first snap of a twig. Okay, he admitted, maybe that was pushing it a little. Mr. Insurance Agent wouldn’t come out on watch to begin with. Too risky. Speaking of snapping twigs, what was that? Focus, he chided himself.

Thinking about Cassie and Mr. Insurance Agent wasn’t improving his mood or his concentration, and he pushed the thought aside as he tried to find a more comfortable perch above Gary Linerman, 1914-1976, Husband - Father - Watcher. Linerman had been one of the original Night Watchers, a group of men and women who protected themselves and their communities from "creatures of the night." Jared’s idol. A man who stepped up to take back the night from the ghouls, ghosts and ghastly creatures that made regular folks cower in fear at the onset of dusk. Linerman founded the Night Watch, and Jared grew up listening to stories of his exploits, and had signed up for the Night Watch as soon as he became of age.

With the moon full and the sky clear, there was just enough light to read by, and he fished around in his backpack until he found the battered and creased pad. He flipped the pages of Monster Mad Libs Volume 2 until he came to one that wasn’t filled in. It was the second to last. He reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out a black pen.

"I need an adjective," he called out to the empty graveyard. "Anybody...Anything? It’s just an adjective...Ok, how about ‘pickled’?"

He scribbled it in and moved on to the next blank. "Now I need an adverb."


The noise came from behind him, closer than he would have liked. It was a low, mournful groan that he knew well. A whiff of fetid corpse breath drifted to him on the breeze. It smelled of rot and wet earth. Despite all his years on Night Watch, the stench still bothered him.

"And just how do I spell that," he said as he dropped the pad into his bag and reached for the machete resting against the headstone.

The zombie groaned again, more forcefully, and this time its breath made his eyes water. It was too close for comfort. He could almost feel its cold hands on his shoulders.

"Now I need a verb," he said, his hand tightening on the blade’s well-worn handle. "I thought I’d use ‘chop’."

He pushed off the headstone and spun around. The blade glinted for an instant in the moonlight before it sunk into the zombies’ yielding flesh.

The machete had completely missed the head and neck of the towering creature. Instead it had sunken into the walking corpse’s chest, lodging in the breastbone. Jared’s eyes traveled up the mountain of undead flesh that stood before him. Instantly, he recognized the man it had once been. George Masterton, a former Shea Dale High linebacker who had gone on to become head bouncer at a club in the next town over.

The undead man-mountain looked down at the blade and pushed at it with gnarled fingers. Looks like he’s about as smart as he ever was, Jared thought.

"Hey Georgie, how’re things?"

The zombie moaned.

"That’s really interesting. How’s the whole undead thing treating you?"

It moaned again and resumed its shuffling. Jared stepped back, but reached out and gave the machete a tug. The zombie pitched forward a little, but the blade remained, caught on bone.

"Damn," he said, and retreated around another large headstone. Automatically, his right hand dropped to the Bowie knife at his belt. However, experience had taught him that it was hard to kill a zombie with a knife, especially one that had six inches and 75 pounds on him.

The zombie groaned again, louder and longer this time. To Jared’s shock and dread, another groan answered from the patch of forest about 200 feet to the south, followed by a third farther off, on the other side of the long field.

"Double damn," he said. "You just had to call your friends didn’t you Georgie?"

George kept coming, one dragging step at a time, and Jared was careful to keep a headstone between them. One of the other zombies called out and George answered. They were getting closer. Of course he could run. Outnumbered and vulnerable, the Night Watch manual demanded it. But Linerman never ran in any of the stories, and Jared wouldn’t either.

He looked around, seeking a weapon, inspiration or both. Two rows back was a chest-tall monolith of a headstone. He hurried over and waited behind it, keeping it between the zombie and himself.

George’s meaty corpse followed, intent on its first undead meal. With the headstone between them, Jared grabbed the handle of the machete and pulled, pushing with his feet against the towering marker. The hulking ghoul slumped forward against the cold marble and the blade came free with a wet sucking sound. Bloody, rotting hands groped at Jared’s arms, leaving trails of gore. The zombie’s mouth opened wide to receive living flesh.

Jared stumbled back, twisting his left ankle on a patch of uneven ground. Pain raced up his leg. He yelled, more from frustration than pain. The two zombies coming closer groaned again. "Shut up," he yelled. "I wasn’t talking to you."

George straightened slowly and groaned urgently. The other two groaned insistently. Jared rose just as slowly, trying not to put too much weight on his ankle. George’s animated corpse stumbled forward, hands out and mouth open, and Jared slashed in a downward arc, screaming as he did so. The machete cut deeply into George’s skull. The body dropped and Jared yanked the blade free again. Black blood and gray matter poured through the hole.

He stood panting heavily and watched the other two zombies stumbling toward him. His ankle throbbed and he was shaking from the adrenaline. The first zombie came within reach and his hand tightened on the machete’s handle.

Cassie owes me big time, he thought as aimed carefully and beheaded the first zombie and then the second. And if she’s so keen on spending time with Mr. Insurance Agent, then she can just bring him along. Wiping his blade on the grass, he suddenly stopped and grinned. He’ll be good for some added insurance.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Listen Up: I Need Some Audiobook Suggestions

I don't have an audio book to listen to on my commute right now. Actually, it's been about a month since the last audio book I've listened to. I've been listening to NPR, but lately, that just doesn't seem to cut it.

Can anyone recommend a good audio book for me to check out? My reading interests are varied, but I default to scifi and fantasy, mostly, with a preference toward modern or urban fantasy, or whatever you want to call it. I'm in the mood for something on the spooky end of things, maybe involving werewolves. No Twilight saga though, blech.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Curious George, The Obnoxious Little Monkey

"This is George. He was a good little monkey and always very curious."

That is what Margaret and H.A. Rey, and those who have continued on George's long legacy, would have you believe. First appearing in print in 1941, George was taken from Africa to live in the big city by the Man With the Yellow Hat. In his many adventures in print and on film, George finds himself in a situation where his limitless curiosity creates a cutsey situation that invariably leads to trouble. Then, by the good grace of the fact that he happens to be a monkey, George manages to resolve the situation, and the wronged or angered parties take a liking to George and let him off the hook.

The truth is, George is a nuisance. He is constantly causing trouble in public institutions, at businesses, at home, and among the neighbors. He must be stopped.

First off, the people that George interacts with must all be sipping generously of the stupid sauce, the Man in the Yellow Hat most of all, since they don't seem to think there's anything wrong with monkey helping them cook, running their sales counter, wandering around in a zoo or aquarium, visiting an animal shelter, etc. No matter how intelligent a monkey may seem, you shouldn't let him operate your business.

There appear to be no leash laws in the New York that George lives in, as dogs, cats, monkeys and any other animal is able to roam free up and down the streets. There are a couple of animals that George routinely pals around with whose owners only show up after the damage has been done. If the Man With the Yellow Hat would only invest in a leash, he could save himself the possibility of being slapped with numerous law suits.

However, I think the best investment that the Man With the Yellow Hat could make would be to take George to the vet and get him neutered. While this might be incredibly frustrating for the monkey, it might also have a great calming effect and help to curb the animal's curiosity.

Let's rid the world of this animal problem now so that he doesn't do any more damage.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The UCF is Awesome!!!

Ever since our little bundle of joy has arrived, Logan has been feeling left out. He haven't seen too much of the regression that we'd been warned about, but we've seen some mimicry, like whenever Ava sneezes, Logan sneezes, or Logan wants to be held like a baby, the way we hold Ava.

So on Saturday, we got home from Gymboree to find a large box from Amazon addressed to Logan on the front porch. It had come second day express Saturday delivery, so it was meant to get here in a hurry.
After questioning Logan's computer habits, we opened the box to find a card with this inscription "Dear Logan, happy birthday from some of your dad's crazy friends. We're glad you have a sister!"

Judging by the size of the box that was wrapped up inside, I thought maybe it was a large-boxed board game of some kind, but the heft of the box was wrong. We opened it up to find the Thomas the Tank Engine Rheneas' Roller Coaster Raceway set. Jackpot! Oh boy, did Logan want that opened up in a jiffy. It's a really cool set with a tiered spiral that leads to a large ramp, rocky towers, and a stretch of bumpy track.

This really made Logan's and our day. And it's just further proof, as if we needed any, that the UCF is awesome!

As you can see above, Logan was so excited his eyes nearly burst into flame.

I could barely keep Logan out of the way long enough to assemble the track.

It's a Girl!

I continue to be a lazy blogger and I've failed to post about the most important thing to happen around here recently, the birth of our daughter Ava (long a sound in front).

At 41 weeks and 1 day, Ava was born on October 8 at 3:04 p.m. She weighed in at 8 pounds 4.5 ounces. She was 20.25 inches long. She was almost a pound heavier than Logan, but a little shorter. However, her little feet are huge, so there's no doubt she'll be a tall girl.

We didn't run into any of the complications we had with Logan when he was born, and mom and baby ended up getting to come home a day early. That was nice for me, because I only ended up spending three nights in The Most Uncomfortable Chair in the World. I swear, the chairs that they have for the dad's at the hospital are designed so that you can have as little comfort as possible while trying to sit or sleep in them.

After an 17-year girl dry spell on all three sides of Brandi's family there's finally another girl. Also, you have to go out into my extended family to find any girls born in the last 20 years or so. Brandi says it was about time, break out the pink and bows!

She also said that
"this birth experience was like night and day compared to Logan's birth. It was very healing in a way. Having Ava with us the whole time and knowing she was healthy was a prayer answered, and when we all went home together this time, another answered prayer. It was such a long road to get her here and now that she is here we can't imagine life with out her. She is so beautiful and we are so thankful for our new bundle."

Thanks everyone for all the well wishing and support! It'll definetly be different raising a girl, but I think I'm up for the challenge.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's a New Eels Video! Sweet!

Here's the video for The Eels' That Look You Give That Guy, featuring Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi. Check it out.

And here's the video for Fresh Blood, also from The Eels' Hombre Lobo album. Why? Because it's good, that's why.

I hope there's a tour coming up soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's Friday, Have Some Music

Hello everyone. It's Friday and my mind is elsewhere. Here's a fun little diddy for you all.