Martian Immigration

I don’t know what this is. Maybe I could mix it up with something, like underground refugees he finds. Maybe he’s captured by the Martian Immigration Police. Maybe he finds evidence of ancient Martians by accident. Let it simmer…

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Too many people got on the boat. We crashed somewhere on Mars. At least, they said it was too many people, and I assume that’s why we crashed. Who knows? Could be anything. It was a cheap ride.

I walk outside under the blue-red sky and wonder what desert lay here centuries ago and what beauty is here now. The surface of the nearby lake ripples in the wind, and the trees smell like a dream. Nothing like it on Earth, nothing at all, but I guess that’s one of the necessities of progress.

The rocket that got me here was cheap. It was one of those that they overbook to get that much more money. Look where it got them! I’m the only survivor.

Any family I had is long gone. My only friend died in the crash. I’m here, alone, and I don’t know in which direction the closest settlement lies. I drink water by the lake, sit, and think.

I’m here with you, Sue.

Here’s a story based on, uh oh, real life! Actually, it’s 100% true. This really happened. Glad I don’t work on a help desk anymore….

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Not too long ago, I worked on a help desk for a large corporation. I worked the early morning shift and had a lot of calls where workstations wouldn’t start up, people couldn’t log in, etc. One day I got a call from “Sue.”

“Hello,” Sue says. “My screen is just black.”

“Is the light on the monitor on?” I ask, thinking it is probably turned off.

“The what?”

“The light on the monitor?”

“The what on the what?”

“The monitor. There should be a light on the bottom right if the monitor is powered on.”

“The monitor?”

“It’s…the screen, there should be a light.”

“No,” Sue says before I can finish. “I told you, the screen is black. Oh, wait, you mean that little light that’s on the computer on my desk?”

Workstations are placed under the desk. I try as best as I can to take a deep breath without it being heard over the phone. “Yes…”

“Yes, it’s a little orange light.”

“Okay, so the monitor is powered on.” Before she can argue about what a monitor is, I rush forward, starting at level: four years old, “Have you tried tapping the keys on the keyboard or clicking the mouse?”

“Of course I have, and the screen won’t come on. That’s why I know my computer is broke. I need someone to come here and fix it.”

Ignoring the fact that the screen is indeed powered on, I say, “Ma’am, will you please check the workstation under the desk? If there isn’t a light next to the power button, try pressing the power button.”

“I don’t have time for this. Just send someone out there. I need someone to come fix my computer.”

“It could take a couple hours for someone to get there, but I’m with you right now. Please just press the power button on the workstation. It may work.”

I hear Sue mutter curses under her breath and about how she wants a hardware tech to come out and how she shouldn’t have to do this. A minute later, I hear Windows starting in the background.

“Ma’am?” I say. “Is it coming on now?”

“Yes, unintelligible.”

“Have a good–”

click

And that was how I helped Sue find the power button. Bonus points: boss was randomly auditing my call and bought me a cup of coffee.

A Tired Monkey

The wingbat stared at the sky and pondered what might be in another era. Thousands of years had passed and the gubers lived strong. These beasts, with horns that reached hundreds of feet high and trunks like the elephants that you had nightmares of as a child, destroyed the homes of the wingbats, who flitted of to Mars to live the rest of their sols.

The gubers ruled the Earth for millions, if not many millions of years. Decades? Centuries? Millenniums? They were nothing to the gubers, who wanted only production and evolution, management and organization, peace and brutal warfare.

The moon was home to an old species…you guessed it, humans. They were tall and thin and light from Luna’s light tug, but had little food to subsist on. More water evaporated into space than could be replenished. The humans were to die, and the gubars only waited.

A new type of wingbat was born one day, on Christmas Eve in the year 86,723,148 A.D. He flitted about and felt the wind of Mars and was ever happy and proud. All the other wingbats were in awe of his speed, his dexterity, and his abilities in the game of poker.

One day, an old wingbat approached Maximus and said, “My crapson, you are the fucking chosen one that our goddamn, dumbass people have spoken of for like three years. You know your shit and that’s why we’re fucking sending you to the worst kind of shit your ass has ever witnessed.”

“Just tell me what to fucking do,” Maximus said to the old wingbat.

“Go kill the shit. On the thing.”

“What the hell? You speak of Crappy the Crap, the crappiest crap who ever crapped?”

“Fuck yeah.”

“I’ll fucking go to Earth and fuck some shit up.”

Maximus, the crapperson of Plentimus, flew off to Earth to face Crappy the Crap in battle. When the young wingbat arrived there, however, he witnessed something that disgusted him: All of the gubers were ugly, lazy, and malcontent. It would be an easy battle, but there would be no honor in it.

“You there,” Crappy the Crap said, the biggest guber said. “You are Maximus? I hear you play a good poker game. How about we play a round and whoever wins shall inherit the Earth?”

“I can fucking deal,” Maximus said. Winning in poker against one of the greatest gamblers in the universe would certainly be a greater honor than slaughtering the pathetic creatures.

THe first hand was the wingbat’s, but the guber came back around in the second. The battle tipped up and down for each combatant and there was the ever flowing sound of chips being transferred back and forth as each other one gained the upperhand. Finally, Maximus landed the best hand imaginable.

“No,” Crappy muttered. Hands of sludge covered his eyes as tears poured forth like Niagara Falls expels water during spring. “It can’t be!”

“Oh, but it can, bitch,” Maximus said, the wingbat’s eyes gleaming with the shining light of righteous victory. “It can, bitch.”

“Five kings! Five of a kind! Why, this hasn’t happened since Bleepy destroyed Gappy in the Great Poker Tournament of 24,565,019 A.D.!”

“Give us our home back.”

And so the wingbats returned to Earth from their temporary shelter on Mars. The humans left the moon at the urging of the wingbats and returned to Earth, where they crossbred to become something like angels.

The gubers, on the other hand, were left with a Mars that was already rusting over. The radiation set in after three hours.

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1st person, present

If people insist on writing in the first person, present tense, then how about they write steam-of-consciousness works? This crap where it’s the MC just observing what’s happening and reporting to the reader feels more impersonal and broken than writing in the third person.

“I walk down a hall. I see a dragon. Then I run away from the dragon.”

This is boring. I mean, I’m falling asleep here! Let’s jazz that up:

“The hallway is too dark, but there’s a little bright light that I see and I’m not sure if it’s just my eyes tricking me when I find a beast. Its jaws are going to destroy me, shit! Run, run, run, damnit, run!”

Anyone who wants to write in this style should be required to read James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Does your mind ever take a break? Are there times when you find that others have been talking, but you have not been listening? Of course! It happens all the time! So if you’re going to write in this style, don’t have the MC be a damned omnipotent god. In third person, it’s okay to reveal everything.

Just make it real. Put me in the person’s head. Their thoughts should be their actions.

The Martian does a pretty good job of it.

Page One – Cemetery Demons

This is page one of the first novella I am writing with the express intent of self-publishing it. I’m gearing for around sixty pages, and kind of winging it.

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I wait outside the cemetery, watching the fog curl above the ground. The glow of the moon turns everything silver. The branches of the winter-dead trees hang over me like scepters in the night.

“Come on come on, already,” Frisky says, the little red demon that hides in my coat pocket, his horned head poking out like a turtle. “So hungry!”

“Relax,” I say, pushing him back down into my pocket. I feel his wings flutter and his tail whip back and forth against the side of my stomach. Frisky sometimes reminds me of the lizard I had for a pet, when I was a child. “The dead will rise.”

“You gonna have extra, right? Need food!” For such a little demon, Frisky eats a lot. Dead human flesh is his favorite, but he more often settles for small mammals. Blood stains the inside of my pocket.

“I’ll give you an arm. That’s all.” I don’t like giving Frisky too much. After all, I don’t want him to become addicted, to get that feeling or idea that human flesh is the only thing he must consume.

I start to get nervous and I do my best to ignore the cold sweat that trickles down my spine. The candles are all laid out in the appropriate pattern. The night shadows, the near invisible beasts that lurk on the edge of reality, slowly circle the inside of the pattern, searching for some way to escape. They are vaguely human-shaped, and that similarity reminds me of some nightmare. They lack eyes, but I know they are staring at me, aware that I am their captor.

My watch says it’s been only sixty seconds since I have read the incantation, offering libations of my own blood to the dead. It must soon be time. I quiet Frisky.