Friday, March 31, 2017

22 Stories: POV

This one's not finished yet. Not even the rough draft. But it's going to be the companion collection to 22 Stories: Falling Up. What it is is a series of short stories, each one presenting the events of Falling Up (and more) from the perspective of each chapter's key side/secondary character. So, presented below, is the first short story of 22 Stories: POV, which would be the one about Aleph. It's a rough draft still, but I'm not planning on publication for at least another year anyway, so... enjoy...



With faith as my guide,
I step into the unknown;
No fear of falling.



"Good afternoon, Stan-My-Man. Good afternoon." I greet the security guard with all the irreverent flare I can muster.
The guard's eyes widen at my bright yellow top hat, borrowed from a theatrical stage somewhere in Manhattan, which does not agree with my red tank top and knee-length khaki shorts. But the real kicker's my purple slippers.
"Nice footwear, there.”
"Why, thank you, Stan. Fuzzy and straight out of hell's bedroom, right? Only the best for Virtual Design, my friend. Only the best." I dance a little jig through the metal detector. "Which is why I'm here, no doubt." I smile at the expression on Stan's face, a study in begrudging respect. But I can afford to rattle people like Stan, as I am the director of Professional Recess, the number one corporate party consulting firm on the east coast, if not the world. A specialized business niche, yes, but also a very lucrative one. And tonight is going to be more lucrative than most, as the tech company being served (Virtual Design) seems quite happy to spend like there's no tomorrow.
"Getting paid overtime tonight, Stan?" I know the answer but ask the question just the same.
"Press your thumb, please." Stan can be seriously professional when he wants to be.
"Sure." I allow the pedestal reader to confirm my identity. "'Now I'm just a number.'"
Ignoring my lyrical reference, Stan waves me along. "All your stuff is in the next room."
"Good to hear, Stan. Now, tell me, are you going to be having fun at this little shindig tonight, or are you just going to frown as everyone passes you by?"
"I have my duties."
"Yes, you do, Stan. Yes, you do.”
No reason to continue to torture the security guard – he's not as much fun as my girlfriend Cherise - so I open the door in the back of the room and exit the windowed foyer of Virtual Design's Executive Building as swiftly as I arrived.
On the other side, I find everything set up just as I planned it. There's a computerized podium in the middle of the first floor antechamber, and a table standing next to it with dozens of white gift boxes on top. The boxes are all tied with blue ribbons, and I shake my head. Damn, that's a lot of money.
Money. Now there's something to think about. What fool would decide to throw the most expensive party in Virtual Design's history right after their stock prices have dropped – across all sectors – for the fourth quarter in a row? What fool, indeed. And the answer to that question would be none other than Condit, of course. The top dog. Or naked prince, depending on how you want to look at it.
Naked in his love for projects that are nothing more than resource absorbing black holes. Throws money and influence around willy-nilly. Or that's what I've been told. I've even heard his latest "secret" project psychologically damaged its participants. Phillip H. and Emily F. - the twin stars of Project Immersion - apparently suffered so much that now they're speaking with lawyers looking to sue. Crazy.
Of course, rumor's not always right. And I'm pretty damn sure that the director of Virtual Design still has an ace or two up his sleeve. After all, Condit did tell me a few things. And, oh yeah, I almost forgot. "Stan," I advise through my earbud PDA, already hooked into the building's system, "Give Phillip H. carte blanche through security. No such thing as contraband in his case. Good. Thanks, Stan. Kisses." Sorry, I can't help it. He's just asking to be fucked with.
And, speaking of fucking, I wonder if Cherise will be here tonight. After all, I do have "free" access to floor number seven, and it'd be a shame to let that go to waste. Virtual Design's own little replica of a Japanese love hotel. What more could I ask for?
A lot, actually. Like reassurance. See, Condit wants me to spy on the party's attendees. And to be sure I don't shirk my detective duties, he's decided to hold Cherise hostage. How? By threatening to station her in France, of all places, in some kind of lockdown facility. And he can, because her job is the one thing Cherise values in this world more than me. Damn. But, oh well, this is what I signed on for. And the pay is nice. Just need to be careful with Condit.
What he wants seems easy enough to do. At least, that's what I tell myself. I just need to keep an eye out for anything unusual. Particularly anything relating to Phillip and Emily, who might not even show up tonight. And why would they? I know I wouldn't want to attend a party held by the company that'd damaged my mind, not unless I had a pretty good game plan. But what game could they possibly play that Condit wouldn't find out about?
God, I'm getting nervous.

Boaz and Jakin are the first arrivals to really spark my interest. Since they were in charge of the failure called Project Immersion, I need to dig a little. Jakin's face is sunburned. I heard they were on vacation, yet, here they are. Together. Which is doubly curious because I also heard they hate each other.
Like a vampire in sunlight, Boaz squints under the bright yellow fluorescents shining down and searing the room free of shadows. "Festive," is his one-word commentary on both the room and my attire. "Are these they?" He motions towards the gift boxes.
"Yes, in-deed-y. Now, let's see here. Boaz." I mark the podium with my finger. "And Jakin." 101 and 201. Locating the proper boxes, I hand them over.
Boaz and Jakin, never really acknowledging one another's presence, silently engage themselves in unwrapping their party favors. Afterwards, they both don the visors they find inside, which are like the black visual sealants normally used for online entertainment, only with a twist.
"Clear glass, huh?" Jakin surveys the room through his visor.
"Yep. Each visor is individually attuned to the mind of the wearer and will overlay the real world as seen through the glass with virtual images projected on the glass. Plus, there're earbuds for sound." Having explained this a few times already, it rolls right off my tongue.
"So, the virtual meets the real, eh?" Jakin shakes his head, appreciating the technology.
"Nice sunburn. Why aren't you still out at the lake, or wherever you were?"
Jakin straightens. "Heard this party would be too good to miss, Aleph. That is your name, right?"
"Right." So, I'm not the only one who's been asking questions. I wonder what these two are up to. "Decided to come to this shindig together, did you?”
Jakin smiles and then coughs. Boaz is the one who answers. "We've got a little business to attend to. Nothing major. Just something unfinished.”
I wait for him to elaborate, but he doesn't. So, I decide to make a little joke as they head towards the stairs: "Do please be sure to immerse yourselves completely in the festivities!"
Neither Boaz nor Jakin give any visible reaction, but I'm sure they're wondering just how much I might know about Project Immersion and maybe even about their agenda for tonight, whatever it might be.
I leave a voicemail for Condit, hoping that I'm doing a good enough job to keep Cherise working here in New York, rather than that Paris lockdown. Not sure, though, as I didn't really learn too much. I'm not the world's most effective interrogator.
Others arrive. Quite a large number of others, as a matter of fact. And, amazingly, everyone is given a visor, although not all of them are personalized. Most are, though. And the most personal of all the visors are the two I am about to hand to my most important and surprising guests: Phillip and Emily. Now I really must pay attention, so I can make myself useful to Condit.
As Phillip holds the door open for her, Emily steps through, only to stop and gaze distrustfully about the brightly lit room. She visibly heaves an inaudible sigh. Phillip nudges her forward from behind. He has a small black backpack slung over his shoulder. Backpack? Odd. As for Emily, she has a fresh white rose tucked in the yellow belt cinched around her waist. Attractive couple, really, although their body language speaks of distance. When they finally approach, I give a little bow. "And you would be?"
Saying her name, Emily runs her eyes down my impeccably dressed self from top hat to slippers, blinking a bit at my show-stopping footwear. Yes, these babies are the best things I have ever worn.
Phillip and Emily, like Boaz and Jakin, must have some agenda for being here, an agenda that Condit probably wouldn't like one little bit. After all, what makes you want to party with a company you're planning on suing?
Phillip looks towards the stairs and asks about the "JUMP HERE" sign. I turn around and announce, "That's the way up, or down, depending on your perspective. Forward is the general direction understood by people in your situation."
"Situation?" Phillip sounds off balance.
"With impetus." Cryptic, I know, but hey, that's just me.
Phillip crosses his arms. "So, do you give riddles to all the guests, or are we special?"
My answer is nothing more than an enigmatic smile, and this has the desired effect. Phillip breaks eye contact, and Emily shifts her weight from one foot to the other.
I hand over their visor gift boxes, playing a little game by first giving Phillip Emily's visor, which of course doesn't work on Phillip. When he notices this, I pretend to have made an honest mistake, which I immediately correct.
But I do more than just mess with these two lovebirds' minds. I also remind them that the visors are all connected to a computer network that monitors everything. The visors effectively see what their wearers see, both in the real world and in the virtual.
"Kinda creepy." Phillip swallows, and I think he may be having second thoughts about whatever it is he and Emily have planned.
I then watch in amusement as they discover what happens to be, in my humble opinion, the visors' most amazing feature: visual erasure. When you don a visor and look at someone else who is wearing one, you can't see the visor that the other person is wearing. You just see their face. There's the slightest bit of distortion, but it's really quite negligible.
"Wow," says Phillip.Emily seems not so impressed. "Let's get things started."
Chastened, Phillip asks me if there are any more needed preparations.
I see this as my golden opportunity to give my prepared script, the one Condit gave me a few days ago, just in case: "No, no more preparations. Of course, some things you can't really prepare for. Takes all the fun out of it. Just don't be afraid to jump. You've got twenty-one more floors to fall up through, and you will find, when you reach the top, that you were really ready for everything all along. That, or your climb will end prematurely. Best of luck to you both."
"Is this the same script you give all the guests?" When I don't answer, Phillip turns to Emily. "Well, let's go before I change my mind. I've got calls to make, people to see. Hell, we might even run into Boaz and Jakin, don't you think?"
Emily answers something or other, but my mind begins to race. Phillip and Emily and Boaz and Jakin? Could they be here for the same reason? Something having to do with Project Immersion? I need to call Condit.
As Phillip and Emily head up the stairs, I leave another voicemail and then wait for more guests to arrive. After a fairly uneventful hour, Cherise comes walking in. Yes! And she is wearing, below the hem of her bright yellow dress, her own pair of purple slippers that complement mine just perfectly.
"They picked someone else for France. I have to stay here."
"Oh, baby, when did they tell you?"
"Just now."
"Really, on a Friday night?"
She just shrugs and looks into my eyes. "How much longer do you have to man this podium, babe?"
"Why? You want to get me out of these slippers?"
She smiles. "Oh yeah."
Thank you, Condit!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Musings On 22 Series

What’s going to happen in a couple of months is this. I’ll re-publish two versions of 22 Stories. The primary re-publication will be the novel entitled 22 Stories: Falling Up. This will be the final edit of 22 Stories: Falling Upward through the Tarot. The secondary re-publication will be called 22 Stories: Web Ready Rough Draft. This will be the original novella I published online while writing the story for the first time during or shortly after the year 2000. It will be edited to an extremely small degree. Mainly just to correct narrative oversights. The clunkiness of the language and the lack of description will remain, it being an historical document, more or less.

After that, and when I find the time, I will put together 22 Stories: POV, which will be a collection of short stories, each focused on the secondary characters presented chapter by chapter in all three versions of the novel proper (Web Ready Rough Draft, Falling Upward through the Tarot, and Falling Up).

Then, if I’m ever blessed with the authorial determination to accomplish Tav: Future Perfect, I will have put together an epic sequel dealing with events spanning from 2012 to 2044. After that, I would hopefully be given the opportunity to wrap it all up with Cabal: Climbing the Tree. This one I have chosen to call a mid-quel, as it would cover the years 2012 to 2033.

Now, you may be wondering how I can still call this metaphysical science fiction if it’s already the year 2017. Well, that’s because of the metaphysical part of said descriptive term. My idea is one of competing reality timelines. In this paradigm, any given remembrance of the past, or intention for the future, creates what I call a “reality overlay” - like a visual overlay, only comprised of aspects of all known (and unknown) senses. So, our base-line reality becomes a consensual enterprise determined by the outcome of the struggle between competing magnitudes of perspectival manifestation. With this idea of multiple realities, I can play with our real world history and integrate them into the events and historical details I write about in my novels, while explaining inconsistencies in terms of this competing reality timeline framework. Wordy, I know. And heady.

Since I’ve already composed a number of chapters for all of them except Cabal, I’d like to share a little something about the narrative approach used in each of them, in sequential order.

22 Stories: Web Ready Rough Draft - This one shows the protagonists in a more mind-controlled state than any of the other versions. I presented it in the present tense mostly as an experiment, and also because my intuition told me it was a good idea.

22 Stories: Falling Upward through the Tarot - I considered rewriting everything in the past tense, but decided against. First, because I was lazy. Second, because I felt the present tense would make the protagonists feel more immediate to the reader. I tried (with the help of an editor) to make the language more “literary” - but now I feel this backfired. The writing style we ended up with was too cerebral, so the immediacy was not as immediate as I’d have liked.

22 Stories: Falling Up - Hopefully, I do this one correctly. There are some larger edits, but mostly the rewrite is simply a trimming of the language.

Tav: Future Perfect - This one is 100% literary. It is intentionally verbose, but this is cushioned both by my use of the past tense, and also by a more poetic approach to the story-telling. If I ever finish it, it will be my masterpiece.

Cabal: Climbing the Tree - I have not actually written any of this one, yet. I have only conceived a terrific, time-bending concept that will be a reflection of the events of Tav: Future Perfect.

Plans.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Back Copy

“Phillip and Emily work for Virtual Design.
Phillip and Emily were always kinda an item.
Except for these last nine months.
Nine months I’ve heard they don’t remember.
I mean, they remember me, but not all that well.
And they’ve both been acting a little strange.
Maybe they shouldn’t have signed up for that secret company project.
Project Immersion.
I think that’s what it was called.
But you didn’t hear it from me.
Next.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wouldn't It

Wouldn’t it
Be nice
To hold her
Again

?

Even if it’s not
Her
I’d just like
To somehow know
It’s okay to hold
Someone
Even when the world’s
Someones
Scrape my insides
My outsides
My in betweens
With flittering slices of
Dangled absence

But still
There is
(Within my center)
A throne standing and
Fit for a queen
The empress of every
Unsung intention that
Might
Have been
So. So. So.

S
T
R
O
N
G

.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Transmittal

This was never
Received 
Not in time
Not on the nose
Not under the bus
But scraped across
The road
Bloody tarmac
A landing field for
Poppies dangling
Overhead and
Overheard 
Whispering whispers about
Little bits of sacred non-compliant figments
Blushing blistered pigments
Of red and white
Bone blossoms like
Cups drinking down the drain
Dew drops heavy and
Torrential 
As if the ocean felt full
Its liquid cornucopia overturned atop
The earthen turtle shell of the world
Worn round and thin
With cotton candy licks
From sugar tongued kisses
Rabbit gifts
Rabid for the taste of sweet
The sweet ending of a story never
Told and never
Sold on the highway out past
The prairie 
Weaves 
And
Waves
Of chaff
No wheat
Just the final dripping remains
Of justice dropped
On the accounting table of
Life
It
Self
.

Friday, March 3, 2017

N.B.

To believe our selves and our environment are not manipulated by many external and internal forces most of the time is to choose ignorance over awareness.

And what really sucks are those forces that keep us ignorant with intent to harm.