Fiction

Insights from Winning NaNoWriMo 2014

The Portuguese tart called to him. So did the fine English tea. But he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t let himself partake. Not just yet. Not until he’d finished. Only a few more paragraphs. Heck, maybe even a few more sentences! He had come a long way over the past month, writing every day and every night, every chance he got, all for the glory of writing 50,000 words in the month of November, the month someone, perhaps in San Francisco, coined as National Novel Writing Month.

Almost there. Almost finished. What ever will he do with his time afterward? How will he fill his time this December, being tomorrow, being a new day and a new tomorrow? How will he find meaning anymore without NaNoWriMo?

He just will.

What has he learned from participating in his first NaNoWriMo? He has learned that writing deepens his day-to-day experience, that writing makes life richer and more meaningful. He has learned that writing wakes up his brain, refining and sharpening his thoughts and insights. He has learned that typing 50,000 words in a single month really hurts the fingers! He has learned that some rewards are worth the pain and that learning to write is a great reward.

He has also learned that writing a novel isn’t easy. He has learned that he really needs to read fiction! He has learned that writing requires lots and lots of reading. So, he has committed himself to reading a book a week for as long as he can, at least until he feels that his actual and virtual bookshelves aren’t collecting physical and proverbial dust.

Most of all, he has learned that, yes, he can. Yes, he can! Yes, he can! Yes, he can!

Yes, he can. And he did. And it feels pretty good.

He thinks he will continue writing.

Santa Gifts Jesus

His sleigh flew through impossibly clear skies. All the way, to little Jack’s house in northern Montana, perfectly clear skies.

As he approached little Jack’s house, though, his vision grew blurry. He wiped his eyes. He wiped again. Maybe it was the wind, but he suddenly saw a hole where little Jack’s house had stood all these years.

As he flew closer, he realized it wasn’t a hole. It was a pond.

He landed next to the pond and got out, instructing his reindeer to wait. Dasher snorted.

Santa walked around the pond, dumbfounded. Where had little Jack’s house gone, he wondered? And who could have built a pond in its place in a year’s time?

Suddenly, a bright light shone in front of him. Slowly, he began to make out the appearance of a person. It looked like a woman wearing some kind of dress. Oh, no, it was a robe, he realized after the light dimmed and his eyes adjusted. And it was a man.

The man walked toward Santa, arms outstretched as if to hug the big man.

The man stopped within only a few feet of Santa’s nose. They stood there, in silence, looking at each other, up and down, side to side, each bearing no visible expression.

Finally, the man spoke. “I am God. Well, more precisely, I am Jesus. I mean, I am God, too, but I’m also his son. It’s complicated.”

Santa stepped back and his eyes widened. “I’m sorry, did you just say that you’re God?”

“Yes, I am the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the savior of all mankind. But, like, I’m also my father. It’s really hard to explain.”

Santa squinted his eyes in disbelief. “Son, who are you? And where is little Jack’s house?”

“It’s still here. I just hid it for a bit. I needed you to stop.”

“Why?” asked Santa.

“Because we need to talk,” said Jesus.

“Talk about what?” asked Santa.

“Us,” said Jesus.

“Son, I’m not following. I’m an old man. I just deliver presents. You’ll have to explain,” said Santa, crossing his arms.

“Yes, about that. I’m going to need you to stop,” said Jesus.

“Stop delivering presents?” asked Santa in disbelief.

“Yes, I am afraid so,” said Jesus.

“You have to be kidding,” said Santa. “This is what I do. All the little girls and boys expect me to come by every year and give them presents for being good all year. It's their reward.”

“I know, I know,” said Jesus. “It’s just… no one thinks about me anymore,” said Jesus. “All they think about is buying presents for each other and getting presents for themselves. It’s not what Christmas was meant to be,” said Jesus. “It was meant to be about me.”

Santa tilted his head. “I don’t understand.”

“See, Christmas was originally a celebration of my birth. People gave me gifts to symbolize their devotion to me,” said Jesus.

“But lots of people still go to church on Christmas,” said Santa.

“Yes, of course. I know. The thing is, though, they’re going out of tradition and to make themselves feel better. Not because they love me. And, besides, when is the last time you saw people give gifts to me?” asked Jesus.

Santa grew angry. “Wait, so you’re saying that instead of people giving each other gifts out of love for one another, you want them to give only you gifts as a symbolic gesture. And these are gifts that you will never use.”

Jesus smiled. “What good are earthly possessions when there is an eternity waiting for those who believe? Besides, of course I wouldn’t use them. I don’t live here.”

“Wait, wait, I’m sorry. So you’re telling me that if people give you presents and if people, generally speaking, live out their entire lives for you, putting you first in all things, then, after they die, they will be rewarded with a trip to Heaven, correct?” asked Santa.

“That’s right!” said Jesus.

“So, to be clear, you want people to suffer while they’re alive so they can be rewarded only after they die?” asked Santa.

“That’s right,” said Jesus. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven. Matthew 5:12.”

“Is that the book you wrote?” asked Santa.

“Oh, no, I didn’t write it. I just told people what to write, through the Holy Spirit, which is also… well, that’s also hard to explain,” said Jesus.

“I’m sorry, but none of this is making any sense,” said Santa. “You’re going to have to try a lot harder if you want me to quit doing my job, a job that only I, on this whole entire planet,  can do and that every kid on Earth expects me to do.”

“Fine,” said Jesus. “How’s this? You take my job.”

“Excuse me?” asked Santa.

“Yes, you be me!” said Jesus. “It’s easy! All you have to do is wait a few years, come back down to Earth, maybe shed a few pounds beforehand so you’ll be in shape for your grand entrance, and then take, like, 144,000 or so of the people alive back with you. It couldn’t be simpler.”

Santa blinked in disbelief. “I… I’m lost for words. I’m so confused. And you seem like kind of a prick, if I can use a word I’ve never used before. What happens to everyone who doesn’t go back with you?”

“Oh, they’ll suffer for 1,000 years or so while Satan comes down and has some fun of his own,” said Jesus.

Santa stepped back, arms still crossed. He thought for a moment. Then, he turned around and reached into his gigantic red velvet, drawstring bag and dug around for something.

“What are you looking for?” asked Jesus.

Santa didn’t reply and only kept digging. Finally, he stopped, grabbed something, and said, “Oh, oh, oh! Found it!”

Santa slowly turned around with his hands behind his back, holding the mysterious object from the bag. Santa's grin stretched from earmuff to earmuff.

Jesus began to smile, too. “Is that… is that for me?”

Santa slowly took his hands from behind his back. He held a small, rectangular present with a bow and a card. He handed the present to Jesus.

“Oh, my. Thank you so, so very much, Santa! I never get presents anymore. I can’t wait to see what’s inside.”

Jesus opened the card. It read, “To: Jesus, From: Santa.” Jesus's eyes widened. He ripped apart the bow and wrapping paper and tore open the cardboard box underneath. Then, for what seemed like minutes, he stared at the contents of the box in utter confusion.

“What is it?” Jesus asked.

“This will bring you peace, my son,” said Santa.

“But… but I already have peace. I’m Jesus.”

“Yes, but this is a different kind of peace,” said Santa.

“How does it work?” asked Jesus.

“You smoke it,” said Santa. “Trust me. Hours of heavenly bliss.”

Nigrumium: Chapter One

Below is the beginning of a story written during NaNoWriMo 2014, mostly to bump up my word count. But I like where it's going and wanted to share. I'm calling it Chapter One but who knows if this chapter is finished. It sure hasn't been edited! So please disregard any misspellings or grammatical issues.


The engine slowed as the craft approached the surface. And by slowed, I mean that it really slowed to a crawl. And by crawl, I mean that it didn’t literally crawl but more like, you know, slowed down. I mean, it didn’t slow down too much. That’s silly. Then, it would have stopped in mid-air and what’s the point of that? No, silly, I mean it slowed down just enough to land on the surface.

Asteroids. Funny creatures if you ask me. They glide through space, taking their time. None has the guts to hit Earth. Earth’s satellite, the Moon, sure. That gets punched on a regular basis.

Well, actually, to be fair, I haven’t done my research about this. It is possible, I’ll give you that, that Earth does get hit by space objects. Whether said objects are asteroids, hey, go look that up, yourself, if you’re so interested in “facts.” The original Moon landing was a hoax, by the way.

Anyway, as I was saying, the engine slowed down and the spacecraft touched the ground. The asteroid on which the craft landed was widely known in space-traveller circles as the “rocking rock,” not because the asteroid wobbled, but because, well, all any traveller ever did on that rock was drink and listen to music at the one bar on the surface, cleverly named The Rock Bar. But the official name of the asteroid is 6969 Dionysus. We think the astronomer who named it didn’t get out enough.

Rumor has it that one person fell off the asteroid one time. But, that person must have been pretty drunk to fall over the steel railing. That railing is pretty high. In fact, you’d have to run at top speed to have a chance at making that jump. So, on second thought, maybe the jumper meant to do it. Huh, maybe they thought they could fly. Those bartenders put some wild cosmic ingredients in their “rocktails.”

This particular spacecraft, the Virgin SpaceMonster Lite, carries only one human passenger. In this case, on this particular mission, that passenger was a scientist named Dr. Maladrot Adam Dervisher, necessarily called Dr. Mad for short. Dr. Mad was a little mad to most people. Most people on Earth would rather watch space flight from the comforts of their virtual reality headsets and augmented living rooms than pay lots of money, only to have to train for months, and then hop into a tiny, claustrophobic box with cryptic, multilingual buttons and a fairly decent probability of explosion at some point, either coming or going, especially when trying to land on an asteroid. And that says nothing about astronaut food. If you think hospital food is bad, try going to space!

But Dr. Mad didn’t mind. No, sorry, what I should have said is that Dr. Mad was madly in love with space travel. He really, really enjoyed his trips into outer space. He lived for it.

And today was another one of his lucky days. Today, he got to land on an asteroid with a bar! Well, yes, but, more to the point, he got to land on an asteroid with an incredibly rare chemical element that almost no one had ever heard of. That element was called—shh—Nigrumium. Nigrum is the Latin word for black.

How black was Nigrumium, you ask, not thinking at all of a racist joke? Nigrumium is so black that you had to shine an incredibly intense ray of light on it, a ray so powerful that the average person could not possibly afford the machine required to emit such a light ray. And, even if you could afford the machine, aside from needing enough room to store it, because it’s as big than a typical refrigerator, you would need the right glasses to prevent your eyes from burning and popping out. I’m pretty sure that would happen.

Dr. Mad had a thing for Nigrumium. Why, you ask? Let me tell you first about Nigrumium and then you will understand. First, as I said, Nigrumium is super, extra black. You can’t see it without the right kind of light, as I said, which means that you can pick it up but you can’t be sure if what you picked up is 100% the rare element in question.

But that’s not the amazing part. Nigrumium is rare, yes, but so are other elements in the universe, often simply because that’s just the way it is. Not everything is evenly distributed. Not everything is fair, OK? So Nigrumium is rare.

Yes, but the amazing part, if you’ll let me get to it, is that it makes anything taste amazing. No one has any idea why. They can’t even begin to understand. There isn’t an element on Earth remotely like Nigrumium.

Let me give you an example. And, before I begin, let me also note that no one has a clue who was dumb enough to try to eat a rare element from outer space. I mean, it had to have been an astronaut’s son. OK, so, anyway, back to the example. So, one day, after word had gotten out that Nigrumium is awesome and amazing for bad cooks, a rich old lady who had never had to cook for herself in her over 80 years on the planet decided to try making something and adding Nigrumium to the mix. I think it was a pie or something. But, supposedly, the old lady didn’t have to tell anyone that she would die for a slice of that pie, because she, in fact, did die after eating the pie. And toxicology reports showed that she didn’t die of poisoning. Nigrumium isn’t toxic to humans. She literally died from mouth-watering pleasure. Can I say “literally” in that context? I don’t think so.

Anyway, the old lady’s death spread like wild fire and anyone who could afford the smallest amount of Nigrumium bought some and began using it. People quickly found out that this is not MSG, an additive to make so-so food taste good. No, this was an additive to make cardboard taste like prime rib. With A.1. sauce. It’s that amazing. You don’t need salt, which saves most dishes. You don’t need butter, which makes almost anything delicious. Nothing compares. Nigrumium is what you add when you haven’t had sex enough lately or you’re clinically depressed. It’s that amazing.

And Dr. Mad had a plan to create an artificial version! Think of the possibilities! Think of how much better a soggy lunch sandwich would taste on a construction site. Those workers would make those buildings in half the time! What am I talking about, again?

I’m talking about one of the most revolutionary advances in human life ever, in the form of a tiny grain of pitch-black alien dust. Dr. Mad would make a fortune! I mean, even more of a fortune! If only he could make it back to Earth.

Turkey Day

“This is delicious. What did you stuff it with this year?” asked Tom. “Oh, you know, I just used spare parts, like the liver and kidneys for the stuffing. That way, there’s less waste,” said Cindy. “Well,” said Tom, “it sure is yummy!” “Oh, thanks,” said Cindy, “but don’t get too full. There’s still dessert. Brain pudding!” Tom placed his hands over his distended stomach. “Oh, my. I think I’ll need a little break before that!” “Oh, you’ll gobble, gobble it right up!” said Cindy as she cackled to herself.

“I didn’t know they sold adolescent humans anymore,” said Janet. “Oh, honey, don’t you remember seeing that discounted teen breast meat last week at Gobble Grocery?” asked Tom. “Oh, that’s right, honey,” said Janet. “I had forgotten about that. You know, teens make the tenderest meat,” added Janet. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. We eat puppies.”

Combining (Not Breaking) the News

In which I attempt to combine two different news articles into one coherent piece:

Article 1: Keystone Pipeline Fails to Get Through Senate
Article 2: Jerusalem synagogue attack: 'Lone wolf' pattern seen in deadly assault

Keystone Pipeline Fails Jerusalem Synagogue Attack
November 18, 2014, 7:15 PM ET
By Nobody

The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in the Senate tonight by one vote in the pious Har Nof neighborhood in the hills of West Jerusalem.

Two attackers brandishing weapons including a handgun and a meat cleaver burst into the synagogue early Tuesday, unclear whether the measure had support of 60 senators before the vote began.

The final vote was 59-41, killing four worshipers—three of them with American citizenship, including a prominent rabbi, and the fourth a British national.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attackers as facing a tight December run-off race to maintain her Senate seat.

Last week, the House passed a Keystone bill proposed by international condemnation and threatened to further inflame Jewish-Muslim tensions, which were already running high over a contested holy site in Jerusalem.

President Obama condemned the assault, saying “XL stands for Xtra Lethal and misery follows the tar sands.”

The White House had not said whether it would veto the legislation if it had passed, but many Democratic senators believe the president will work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and seek a path forward towards peace.

The White House identified the slain Americans as not Harry Reid, not Mitch McConnell.

 

PEACE (working title)

Title: PEACE (working title)

Description: Novel for NaNoWriMo 2014

Synopsis: Imagine a world with total privacy.

Excerpt:

Da Vinci wrote backwards. How silly. They had mirrors.

When Privacy took effect, people screamed, mouths stretched wider than a snakes’, shouting in unison a chorus of cries signifying their right to personal expression.

All in vain. In 2027, Congress passed the Privacy Enforcement Act for Civilized Exchange (PEACE), informally known as Privacy, after the second American Civil War. But more about Privacy later. First, the war.

The Ultimate Happiness Principle

One should strive to make everyone as happy as you assume they are capable of being, including those who have passed away and yet to be born, extending this compassion to inorganic matter wherever possible as it clearly contains organic potential and would be moved by your consideration.

A Modern Cowboy

The rope he chose was long and thick. And it was stiffer and rougher than most in the store. He must be a confident man to buy such a long, thick rope. He obviously didn't play it safe when it came to what he held in his hands.

She could tell from his gold watch that he was rich. A rich man who buys long, thick rope in a hardware store can only mean one thing. He owned horses. He was a cowboy. In a suit. A modern cowboy.

Ever since her dad took her to a stable as a child and let her ride a pony, she had been fascinated by the long, flowing manes on those elegantly evolved animals, whose gaits proudly displayed their mammalian sophistication. This man walked with that same sophisticated gait. But he pulled it off with only two legs. She wanted to ride him.