Haley the Space Assassin, Episode 2

Haley, You’re Not in Kansas Anymore

“I don’t think you’re really get the idea behind this Robert,” Haley Meadows said. She stared at the man, thirty years her senior, and thought, I’m not sure where The Service is getting these guys from, but they need to send them back.

Haley had been working for a government agency called, The Service, for the past four years. For the most part it was a great job. It turned out she had an unusual knack for dealing with the strange and unusual beings the galaxy had to offer. She was really just a glorified delivery girl, but the pay was excellent and her clients usually tipped her, which helped pay the bills the college Registrar’s Office seemed to always be sending.

Her new Trainee, Robert, had, yet again, demonstrated his inability to fill out the requisition form in front of him. She felt a little sorry for him. He was born into a world where the only thing he had to worry about was the U.S. and the Soviet Union coming to blows over which side of Berlin had the best Weiner schnitzel, and now, he was filling out a requisition form for Nayrb Shephard’s Pie to replace the stock he was about to deliver. It was, unfortunately, Haley’s job to teach him.

She was just about to start the banal process of showing him how to fill out the form when her cell phone rang. “It’s your dime!” she answered.

“Haley, this is your work phone, I told you not to answer it that way,” the voice on the other end admonished.

Haley giggled a little, “Okay, I promise I’ll think about trying it your way, one of these days.”

“Oh Haley. Good thing you’re good at your job. Hey, I have a delivery for you. I’m texting you the order now.” The voice on the other end belonging to Dale Swenson, he was a good guy. She loved to yank his chain.

“Thanks Dale, I’ll head out right away. Say,” she said, making sure Robert was no longer in the room, “where do you get these guys from? Robert can’t understand the requisition form. I’ve shown him like four hundred times and he still can’t seem to do it. It’s like trying to teach my mom’s cocker spaniel how to make eggplant parmesan.”

“Just get moving on this order, the customer entered the atmosphere a little while ago and you have a long drive. We really don’t need him getting hungry. I’ll get someone else to work with Robert.”

Haley knew the consequences of not doing her job right. One of her colleagues was late with an order and the alien got a little cranky. Eight thousand people had to be relocated, and the government had to replace four-hundred head of cattle. It wasn’t a good day.

Haley wondered, not for the first time in her life, where one goes to culinary school to learn to cook for Aliens.

“The Service”, as they were called, was a secret agency set up in the fifties to assist the occasional visitors to planet earth. There were never more than fifty aliens in the United States at any given time, but when they did arrive there were landing permits, transportation, sometimes hotels, species specific cuisine to be arranged, and occasionally repairs to spacecraft all needing to be arranged. The Service arranged it all.

Haley was recruited early, after accidently watching an alien spacecraft land at their local baseball diamond. Since that moment her life had been more of a blur than anything else.

I really need to remember to shove this car into a volcano, maybe burn my clothes, and then have intense psychotherapy to forget I’m making this delivery. The smells coming from the back of her car were intense. The entrée literally smelled like a dirty diaper, probably because, that’s exactly what the client ordered. She took some solace in the fact that he ordered a pint of ice cream to go along with it. At least this guy appreciated one thing normal.

Some species liked beef, some species liked pieces of metal, but some had an affinity for human waste. Not a lot of species, but enough that it was a common item for delivery. A few even considered it a delicacy.

Reaching the parking lot, she got out of the sad little car. Rusty, but reliable is what she called it. Thankfully the delivery box was not see through so she, thankfully, couldn’t see it. The delivery location was a hotel on the outskirts of the city, room 17.

Knocking on the door, she could hear someone shuffling from inside. “Who is it?” a male’s voice called form behind the door.

“Special delivery service,” she said. That’s how she was always supposed to reply to any inquires. It was a code established in the Galactic Treaty on the Treatment of Otherworldly Visitors. If any human asked, her normal response was that they delivered top of the line food and whole meals to discriminating clients.

“Who do you have a delivery for?” the male voice asked.

Haley looked at the order from. “A Mr. Xalert.” She could hear the shuffling moving closer to the door. She was used to this kind of treatment; some aliens tend to be more skittish than others. Once a client asked her to remove her clothes to prove she wasn’t wearing a weapon. It was the only time she had ever failed to make a delivery.

“Does it smell good?” the voice asked.

“God no! It smells like two dirty diapers, wrapped in Michael Jordan’s gym shorts,” she said. Her patience was growing thin with whomever was on the other side of the door. Protocol stated that after waiting for three minutes to make her delivery it would be up to her if she waited longer.

She heard the door lock slide back and the security chain on the door being released. The door swung open. “Sorry for all the questions. You can never be too careful, you know.”

As Haley stepped inside she thought it was odd that he let her pass, and then he looked out into the hallway before closing the door. Awfully paranoid for a space alien, wearing a human suit, ordering take out from a secret government agency, aren’t you?

“Indeed, never too careful,” Haley said. She always tried to find out more about the species she was dealing with. A little small talk could get you a lot of information. Over the years she had developed a sense for physical features, dialects, and accents. This guy stood out like a sore thumb, at least to Haley. “Bagorian huh?”

“Wow, that is impressive. How did you know? This earth suit costs a fortune, supposed to be one of the best.”

“The temples. Bagorian’s do make the best, but they never get the temples quite right,” she said, pointing at her head.

“Wow, very perceptive. Say, you are awfully young aren’t you?” He was right, most of the delivery people Haley worked with were between forty and retirement age. Mainly career government employees looking for a change from the norm. Many, but not all, had specialized training in logistics, or other specialties they had been specifically recruited for. As for Haley, she always assumed she just had a way with people, and that was her special skill.

“I was recruited at a young age.”

“Ah, that explains it, come in. I’ll get you the money.”

“That’ll be two hundred fourty dollars.”

“Ouch, prices have gotten steep.”

“Well, you can pay in galactic credits if you want. It’d be cheaper overall.”

“No need. I’ll just have to hit the cash machine later.” He picked up his wallet from the night stand and started leafing through his cash.

“In town long?” she asked.

“Not really, I have to head up to North Dakota.”

“You do know that Virginia is nowhere near North Dakota right? It’d have been better to land there.”

“True, but the landing pads were full.” He pulled out two hundred dollars in fifties and two twenties.

“Yea, it has been a busy season.”

It was at that moment when his jacket fluttered open. She only caught a glimpse of something shiny in his coat, but it was enough to make out what it was. Suddenly the blood in her veins went cold, her skin felt scratchy, like it suddenly became dry. She could feel her knees weaken. This guy was carrying a disruptor tucked in a shoulder holster. Granted, it wasn’t unusual for ships to carry weapons on-board, and she had seen them before, but this was the kind of weapon only criminals carried. She suddenly had a bad feeling about this delivery.

She stood quietly, trying to bring her heart rate down to a manageable rhythm. She watched him re-count the money and then pulled out a five galactic credit note, presumably for a tip. All she could do was think to herself, Just be cool Haley, you can make it out of this.

“So, you have business in North Dakota? What do you do?” She had to know more. By her training she knew she should ask some general questions. Suddenly an old sign flashed through her mind that she saw in an airport once, If you see something, say something.

“I am in acquisitions and liquidations you could say.”

“Oh, like buying businesses and such?”

“Yes, something like that. An awful lot of questions for a delivery person.”

Oh crap! “Well, I’m an inquisitive girl. Earthlings always like to know more. Who knows, maybe you and I will cross paths again. Never know, there are only so many delivery people in this area—“ She suddenly stopped herself, aware that she was babbling nervously.

He regarded her for a moment. Not necessarily with suspicion, but maybe some curiosity. “True, you earthlings are always looking into everyone else’s business.”

He pulled a five galactic credit note from his wallet, a fairly generous tip given the exchange rate, something else fell from his wallet. For a moment the item hung there in the air, like destiny, or time itself had decided to hold it for closer inspection. Then it whirled through the air, like a helicopter seed, falling from the Maple tree in-front of her apartment. It flashed from black to white as it tumbled end over end towards the floor. It bounced on the freshly vacuumed, plush carpet of the moderately priced hotel room, coming to rest, face up.

The item itself was a calling card of sorts. A calling card she’d been trained to spot and regard with a heavy dose of suspicion. Specifically, it’s the calling card of the Galactic Order. A simple card, it usually was one of about a dozen colors which denoted their rank and title. All of them had the symbol of the order, three rounded triangles, one in the center and two flanking either side, but overlapping. It was supposed to convey togetherness and justice. But it was justice, as defined by the galactic order, more commonly referred to as the galactic mafia.

Haley stared at the card for a brief moment. She had seen every color, except for this one. It was a color no one was ever supposed to see, under any circumstances. Usually it was found at murder scenes, crawling with investigators, always on the body of the deceased. It was a black card. It meant death.

The three triangles were normally a silver color, but these were different. These three triangles were gold. As she stared at them, in disbelief, it struck her how perfect the color was. It wasn’t like the gold was simply printed on the card stock. The gold was carefully placed on the black of the card, like an artist had sat down with gold leaf and crafted each of the triangles by hand. Each one was, in-and-of itself a work of art. A brilliant, gorgeous, and deadly work of art.

The gold triangles were only given out under one circumstance. The receiver was a member of the special class of alien. The bearer was always royalty, of the mafia type. Oh shit, she thought.

“I didn’t mean to see …” Haley stammered.

“Oh, I am so sorry. I am so very sorry.”

Haley turned to leave. She wanted to run out the door as quickly as possible. Wishing, beyond hope, she could get out of the door fast enough to save her life. With every fiber of her being she wanted nothing more than to forget everything she had seen. Maybe, if she ran fast enough, she could turn time itself on end and go back to when she had called the recruiter for The Service and agreed to enter their training program. Maybe she could stop herself from making that call.

She always knew the work could be dangerous. They told her it could be, in the same way they tell people it can be dangerous delivering pizzas, or flying an airplane. Yes, something could go wrong, but it likely never will. She never really thought it could happen to her. Now, here she was, sentenced to death, by accident, by someone she could only assume was a Galactic Assassin.

Then everything went dark …

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Haley, The Space Assassin

Hello everyone! Lately I have been having some fun with a little story line. I’ve not decided what to do with it. It isn’t Horror, but it is another genera I’m always fascinated with, SciFi. I’m especially fascinated where the two genres meet. It’s called Haley, Space Assassin. This is the introduction to her and how she gets recruited by the government. Please enjoy, it was just something I had some fun writing. I’ll post more on Haley as soon as I have a few extra minutes to work on the story line a bit. But, for now, enjoy the introduction.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

Haley, Space Assassin

Four Years Ago

Haley Meadows was sixteen years old. The Texas night was clear, and the temperatures warm. It had been the best day of her life. Her birthday party was a smash hit and would be talked about for weeks. The presents were opened, the cake was eaten, and the day was complete. Although it was three in the morning, she found herself sitting on the back deck of her house, in one of the lounge chairs, staring out at the stars, unable to sleep.

It wasn’t the first time. She often did that, watching, wondering, looking in amazement at the sheer enormity of it all. Her friends, whom she’d invited for a sleep over, were snoozing in the living room behind her. Haley wasn’t tired, she just wanted to drink it all in. She pulled the little lever on the lounge chair and laid back, content to let those far away stars sing her to sleep.

Just as her eyes began to feel heavy, something else heavy settled on her. It was a sound. At first deep and grumbling, but then it grew louder. It reminded her of her sister’s boyfriends car when he decided to play his music too loud. Suddenly a large disk swooped over their house, a partial ring of lights off of its back end. As it passed their house, it shook the trees and windows. Haley, suddenly fully awake, let out a little yelp, and turned to look at her friends who were all still fast asleep.

Putting on her shoes, she briefly thought about putting on something other than her nightgown, but she didn’t want to take the time. Running out of her house, she ran down the small foot path, leading in the direction the flying thing went. Their house was fairly remote and the only thing out here, aside from their ranch house, was the municipal ball fields.

Running as fast as her legs would carry her, it didn’t take long for her to catch up to a scene that would forever change her view of the world around her. Cresting the rise of a small hill, which overlooked the ball-fields, she saw what it was that shook the house. In front of her was a spaceship. She shook her head, and even pinched herself to prove she wasn’t really dreaming. But there it was, an honest to God spaceship. It appeared to be going through some sort of landing procedure.

Next to the craft, three men stood stoically next to a car, along the first base line. They remained passively watching as landing gear stretched out from the bottom of the craft. They looked like statues in the glow of this unbelievable craft.

You have got to be kidding yourself Haley, she thought. There was no way she was going to let herself be convinced she was seeing what she was seeing. As the pads touched the ground, little wisps of dirt flew up from the ground. Impossible to believe, but there it was.

She remained motionless, frozen, as she watched a small platform extend out from the craft and contact with the ground. Two men, looking very human, walked out with small rolling luggage, like you would take on a family vacation to your lake house or grandma’s for the weekend.

She stood, with her mouth agape. There was a huge part of her screaming, there is no way this could be happening, but there was another part screaming, you are witnessing something amazing.

“Hey, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here this time of the morning, young lady!” A man in a uniform said from behind her.

Haley whirled around to face the source of the voice. In front of her stood a man, in a uniform, he was wearing a green uniform and carried a holstered pistol. He had a black arm band that read, MILITARY POLICE. For a brief moment all she could think about was the fact that she was dressed in only her tennis shoes and nightgown.

“Oh crap, I was just, uhhh …” Her mind stuttered to come up with the right words to say … some excuse to give him. But in reality, she only had one question in her mind that seemed to suddenly hijack all of her thoughts. “To hell with it … what is that thing?”

“I think you’d better come with me,” the man said. He wasn’t really threatening her, but he made it clear that saying ‘no’ wasn’t really an option. He grabbed her by the arm and led her to a green military truck parked slightly downhill.

“Okay, I guess I’m going with you then,” she said as the man put her in the truck.

In a few minutes they were traveling down a dusty desert road towards the baseball fields. As they drove, she came up with a myriad of excuses as to what she was doing there. Undoubtedly, he was bringing her to some sort of military jail where she would be tortured and made to sign some sort of confession. Meanwhile, her parents would be told she had been sent to a special boarding school, and would be home when she was like thirty or some such nonsense.

As the man in the uniform parked the truck, he told her to stay put. He jumped out of the vehicle and walked over to another man, standing by a large black limousine. After a brief exchange the second man came over and opened the door.

“Come with me, little lady,” he said.

“Oh God, I am not seven. Don’t call me little lady.” She might never see her family again, she might even spend the rest of her life in prison for accidently seeing an alien spacecraft, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to be treated like a child.

Stepping out of the truck, she was suddenly overwhelmed by what she saw. The ship was real; she wasn’t imagining it. In front of her, resting on four pads extending from the bottom of the fuselage, was a baseball diamond sized space ship. It was enormous. The platform she saw earlier had already disappeared back into the ship.

“Come with me, please,” the man grabbed her by her arm. He wasn’t forcing her, but again, she got the impression the decision wasn’t hers to make. He took her over to the waiting limousine, parked about fifteen feet from where the platform had been earlier.

As she got one foot into the car, she turned her head just in time to suddenly see the space ship disappear from her view. “Holy Crap!” was all she could say.

“Holy crap indeed,” a male voice rang out from inside. Sliding into the seat, she looked across the compartment to see a man in a uniform sitting with his hands folded in his lap. To her, he looked like a younger Morgan Freeman. “I’m still amazed every time they do that. I suppose holy crap is as good an expression as anything else.”

“Before you do anything to me, I have to know something,” Haley said.

“Oh yea, what’s that?” He asked with a slight smile on his face.

“How does that thing not crash into the ground when it lands? I mean, Earth’s gravity should take something that large and smash it against the rocks and turn it into space ship soup. But it landed so …”

Elegantly, I believe is the word you are looking for.”

“Yes, elegantly. And then the whole platform thing came out of the bottom and those guys stepped out. It was crazy. And you guys, with your uniforms and guns. I mean, what’s next? Is Will Smith going to jump out and flash something in my eyes, and tell me to study math harder and wait to have sex until I am married or something?”

“Will is busy today, you get me.”

“So you are going to flash my eyes,” Haley was now talking a mile a minute. “I mean, crazy. I knew you people existed, I just knew it. It only makes sense, there is limitless space out there, and it sounds ridiculous if you say we are the only planet in all of this space that has people on it. Oh my God, just let me drink it in for a few more seconds. This is totally, like off the charts, amazing! I just can’t believe it. Aliens are real, and they look like us!”

“Well, those are human suits actually.” The man sat back in his chair with a smile on his face, seemingly amused by the girl’s reaction to everything she was seeing.

“Wait, they wear those? Holy crap, this gets better and better. Okay, you can flash me now. I’m ready, but holy crap! All of this on my Birthday!”

“We don’t really flash people. We could, but the testing of the technology was a little … embarrassing.”

Haley suddenly lowered her voice, sounding very serious. “Embarrassing, do you mean you killed someone during testing?”

“No, but our testers did cluck like chickens for a few weeks. Turns out messing with someone’s brain wiring is more difficult than you’d think. Happy Birthday, by the way.”

“Thank you, but if you’re not going to flashy-thingy me, then what are you going to do? I mean, this is kind of big to just tell me it is swamp gas or something.”

“Oh, we just kill you.”

There was an awkward moment of silence, and Haley looked like she was about to cry. Her face suddenly turned red, her eyes became big as saucers, and her mouth fell open.

“Oh my,” he said quickly, realizing his mistake. “I’m just kidding. Don’t worry we don’t kill anyone.”

Visibly relieved, Haley said, “You had me there for a second.” She still wasn’t completely sure he was kidding about killing her though. It seemed to make sense that if someone saw something they were never meant to see, then they needed to be silenced.

As if he could read the concerns still on her face he said, “Okay, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have told you we would kill you. I was kidding. Let me restart this process. I am Lieutenant General Profitt. And I assure you the only thing I am killing today is a brew-ski after I’m done talking to you.”

Haley still wasn’t completely convinced, but for the moment she thought it best to just play along. “Ok, fair enough, my name is Haley Meadows. And if you aren’t going to kill me, what are you going to do with me?”

“Well, it is pleasure to meet you Haley. And, to answer your question, that depends completely on you, Haley. Let me ask you this, what do you think you saw there, just now?”

“I think,” Haley began, “I watched the arrival of an alien spacecraft. Judging by the size I would guess it is a transport craft of some sort. Too big to be a fighter, if I learned anything from watching Starwars.”

“Bravo, young lady. I’m really glad I met you today. There are a ton of people out there that would never have gotten past, ‘I don’t know’. But you thought about what you saw, eliminated the possibilities, and you made an assessment. You took it one step further, and thought about the type of space craft. Very good! So, who do you think those men were that you saw walk off board?”

“That’s another thing,” Haley said. “Only three of them got off. A military craft likely would need more people. So, I’d have to guess they’re the crew for a galactic trucking company?”

“Again, you win extra style points. Well done, as it turns out, you are correct at every turn. That was no military vehicle, as you say. That’s a Tal-Severns transport craft. It’s built to be a mid-level freighter. Supposed to be in transit for no longer than a week.”

“And those people, the Tal-Sevens, they are our allies?”

“Tal-Severns,” he corrected, “and no, they are most certainly not our allies. As a matter of fact, they wanted to destroy Earth four years ago. But, as it turns out, they need a new transport hub. So, today is an olive branch. They were in trouble and they needed help. We offered and they reluctantly accepted.”

“So, you said it was up to me what happens next?”

“Yes, Haley,” the General leaned forward, “it most certainly is. You can, if you like, sign a simple piece of paper, and walk away from all of this. With the promise, of course, that you never tell a single soul what happened here today. Go back to your life. I’ll even give you a ride home. But there is another choice.

“You see, Haley, this is only half of my job, the other part is looking out for talent. I’m not interested in hiring people who are going to question everything they see and wonder if it’s real. We only take about thirty percent of people who apply to our program. The rest of our staff we find as we go along. People that react a certain way to the circumstances they’re put in. So, the second option is this. You sign the same piece of paper, promising you’ll never tell another soul what you see here, and will see in the near future, and you meet with our human resources department next week. Of course you would have to finish school, and there are some specialized courses we would have you take, but I think you’d be a good fit. I’m offering you a job.”

For a few seconds Haley was speechless. A few minutes ago she was convinced he was going to pull out a gun and shoot her, then probably hide her body in the middle of the desert. And now he’s offering her a job. Most girls her age were thrilled with babysitting and working part time at a fast food joint. But he was offering her a government job … working with aliens.

“I’ll … I’ll have to think about it,” Haley said.

“I would hope so. This isn’t just a job. You don’t just flip burgers and drop orders of fries. You’re going to be interacting with the galaxies most influential, and interesting creatures. Some, of whom, I can hardly believe are real. I’d hope you would at least sleep on it. Let’s have you sign this non-disclosure agreement, and I’ll take you home.”

A moment of panic gripped Haley. “But, what’ll I tell my parents?”

“Tell your parents only that you were offered an internship, through school, and you were thinking about it. I can fill them in when I meet with them, I just can’t hire you without your parent’s consent.” He handed her a card. It simply said, LTG Profitt, and had a phone number. “Make up your mind, and call that number either way. Give my assistant your name, and she’ll forward your call. And Haley, there is no harm in saying no.”

Fifteen minutes later, Haley was stepping out of the limousine in front of her house. She walked in and took off her shoes. For a few moments she was able to convince herself she had fallen asleep and dreamed the whole thing. Until the sharp edge of the business card dug into her hand. She sat down in the lounge chair on the deck and looked again at the stars. They seemed different. Suddenly they seemed a lot closer.

 

Review: The Clockman, by Eric Lahti

The Clock ManThe Clock Man by Eric Lahti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Eric Lahti’s work. His ability to tell a good tale is really quite exceptional. In the book, The Clock Man: and Other Stories, we get a few stories. Although one, and I suspect two, will dovetail into the Henchman series.

Out of the stories in the book, its namesake, “The Clockman” was, by far, my favorite. It focuses on a former corrupt (but they all are in this story), police officer. I won’t give too much away here because I hate spoilers, but needless to say, in the mind of Mr. Lahti, nothing is ever as it seems, even if the characters don’t know it yet. I expect to see great things out of, Felix Crow, the central character from story.

Felix is pulled into a world where he is being essentially forced to do something, granted, he is promised that he will be well rewarded, but he is still told to do it or die. He wisely choses to do this thing (again, no spoilers), and he is embroiled in a mystery that brings him face-to-face with an epic adversary. Mr. Lahti is very good at describing the scenes his characters are in. Authors must be good at that aspect of the game of risk turning their readers off. He does the world building piece masterfully without skimping on well-developed characters.

Felix has a host of other characters in the story which appear and help him out. One of these is his companion Chan. Chan, appears in another story and I suspect we will see more out of Chan as well.

Eric is a dystopian writer and even if the story seems normal, it is a safe bet it won’t be for long. Just sit back and watch it happen! For those of you, like me, are not a big fan of the dystopian movement, don’t be turned off! The character building will have you completely engaged and while the worlds are the rough and tumble lives of the quintessential dystopia, it all works well. The worlds work. Granted, not the way we are used to, but they work.

The other stories are as masterfully written as The Clockman, and totally worth a read. You will get a good sense of where the world of Eric Lahti is going to be taking us in the next few years. I cannot wait. That is my only big criticism … I want to read more!

View all my reviews

Yes, you are going to get hurt!

I recently watched a video of Steve Harvey addressing the crowd after a taping of family feud. There was something in what he said that really got me thinking about my own life. No matter if you are a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or anything else, you have to admit that his words ring true. Check out the link at the bottom. The crux of what he is saying is that you have to learn to jump off that comfortable ledge you are on if you ever hope to have lived. You are not meant to play it safe in life. Yes, you area going to get bruised and cut. Yes, you are going to experience pain, but your parachute will open and you will survive.

It was hard deciding to try and write a novel, but that wasn’t the hardest part of all. Writing is easy if you are never going to let anyone read what you wrote. Actually, putting the thing out there was the hardest part of all. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and my biggest fear is criticism, both positive and negative. But learning to deal with that is a choice. I could hide, but what good is that going to do me? Ultimately I did it. My book, No Name was self published. A friend of mine recently pointed out that I’ve come a long way in a year. It’s true, and there is really no way to describe how different I feel over all.

So, next week, when I’m done with my current rounds of editing for my upcoming book, I am going to try something new. I’d like to try and write a series of smaller works to offer on my Facebook site, for all of you wonderful people to read. Let’s see how many people actually read them. The working title of the story line is, “Haley, Space Assassin.” What is it bout? Well, I guess you are just going to have to tune in and read it for yourself. I’m not sure where this experiment will end, but it should be tons of fun.

Until then, take a look at this video. I hope you enjoy it. I really enjoyed it!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

I got nothin … seriously

Some days it seems like I can sit down and write a million words, and then a million more, and it all flows out of me effortlessly. Some days it seems like I can’t scrabble together one sentence. Today is seems to be the latter, rather than the former.

I’m not sure what it is causing these wild sweeps in creativity. All I know is that it’s pretty much the same for every writer on earth. But, dare I say, it’s the same for everyone on planet earth. There is an old joke that goes like this. “Every week I give 100% at work. 12% on Monday, 23% on Tuesday, 40% on Wednesday, 20% on Thursday, and 5% on Friday.” It is humorous, but I think there is some truth to this. No one gives 100% at work all of the time. And I think that is naturally true of all of us.

20150620_205329Sometimes I don’t even feel like writing. There are times when I would much rather play video games, read a book, play ice hockey, or anything else you want to throw in there. Other times I’m consumed by the desire to write the next great American Novel and I would gladly spend hours at the computer.

No matter what happens, I always write! I may only spend an hour a night writing during the weekdays, but if I’m in the zone, I write longer, sometimes hours longer. It really just depends on my mood.

Why do I tell you this? I want to encourage everyone who has ever wanted to do something hard, to try and keep at it. The old saying, “If it were easy, then everyone would do it,” applies to writing and about a million other things. If you have passion in your heart for something, follow your dreams.

I realize this is not the most earth shattering blog posting ever, but it is all I got today. Now, I am going off to edit some more. Have a great week everyone!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

Reflections of Italy

I wanted to take some time to give you my unvarnished opinion of Italy, and add a little note on why I think all writers should do this kind of trip. I spent fifteen days in Italy. During that time I visited Venice, Naples, Rome, and Florence. For the most part we made our own accommodations through Air B&B and Booking.com. It is overall cheaper and we had more control over where we were staying by not using a travel agent. Plus I object to the role of a travel agent in our digital age. With the exception of the train trip from Rome to Florence, we rented a car when we needed it. Believe it or not, car vs. train is mostly a wash. Car being a little more expensive, but it’s far more reliable than the Italian train system. Now you know the basics, so here we go.

Venice

VeniceThere have only been a few times in my life that I was actually depressed when I had to leave a place. Venice is one of those places. There is something magical about it, which is not really describable. My advice is to go off season, when the regular tourist season is at it’s low point.

You wake up to the sounds of Venician school children making their way to school and real people going out to do their real tasks, versus the stage-managed world most tourist locations give you. Real life unfolding!

Spend some time walking and learning to use maps of Venice. You will get lost, but ultimately you will find your way back to your accommodations. It’s a wonderful city. People are hugely friendly and love their city. Learn to eat as the locals do and you’ll be fine. The mist that occasionally pervades the city will remind you of the best noir stories you have ever read or watched on the screen. And no, we didn’t take a gondola ride, but there are plenty to be had.

In Venice, art and the beauty of the world surrounds you. Once a month (usually full moon) the city floods. They have specially built walk ways to get around the cities which they put out only for the flooding. They just carry on like nothing happened. It’s brilliant!

I was sad when we had to leave. I could have spend far more time there. Just being …

Naples

Naples.jpgLet me start off by saying that Naples is a really big ghetto, punctuated by terrifying streets. But I’ll also say that you should definitely go. Pay attention to the traffic and if you are traveling with kids, keep em really close. The people of Naples are crazy drivers.

Amid the squalor that is Naples, the people are hugely friendly. Ready to smile and will help you out even if you didn’t need it. If they speak to you in English, (English is quite common, btw) stop and chat. You’ll get a sense of how intensely proud of their city they really are and how glad they are you made it out to see them.

There are some interesting sights to see in the area. Pompeii and Herculaneum, but Naples also has crypts which are fascinating. If you’re into the macabre, this is a must see. Also, I had the best pizza of my entire life in Naples at a little place just outside of the church we visited which is also the entrance to the Catacombe di San Gaudioso.  It was pretty amazing. Seriously, the pizza is almost worth the plane ticket!

Rome

romeI’ll be honest, I wanted to love Rome more than I did. We saw tons of Roman ruins, and cool Christian sites, but what really bothered me was the rampant street beggars/street sellers selling ‘selfie sticks’ and ‘umbrellas’. Many of them (operating illegally, btw.) go out of their way to stop you and pester you. I had to yell at one of them to leave my children alone at one point.

Also, I’m not a fan of large crowds and Rome has way too much of that. I could literally find no place to grab a few moments of solitude. Even at night, the building we stayed in was kind of loud. The Colosseum was nice, but I really was ready to leave by the end of our stay in Rome.

Florence

Here is the interesting thing about Florence. It is really small. I mean, as far as tourist destinations go, it is postage stamp sized. But I actually really enjoyed it. Tons of wonderful things to see and lots and lots of interesting architecture and paintings everywhere. The streets are clean and the people are friendly, but it was also very commercial until you get off the beaten path. We stayed in a little neighborhood just North of the train station and it was excellent. The local restaurant, which became a favorite, was friendly and amazing (see photo to drool).

Florence.jpgDo yourself a favor and try to stay outside of the city center. Look for places where you are forced to eat and drink as the locals do. You won’t be sorry. It may cost you some taxi money or bus fare, but it is totally worth it.

The people of Florence will be the first to tell you how Tuscan they really are. And insist you try some of the local wine. It was truly amazing.

An unsung hero of Florence is the Galileo Museum. Back when the Medici family could still have you killed, (maybe they still can) and make you sleep with the fishes, they started a collection. It focused on scientific instruments and the arts. The Galileo museum features the best of this collection of scientific instruments. They are not just brilliant, but brilliant works of art in their own right.

Take some time to just wander into the little churches you will find spread out everywhere. They are interesting and some have lot of amazing works of art. Pay special attention to the funerary monuments (think that look like coffins) inside the little churches. Sometimes they were done by some very famous sculptors for a family friend. And no one even knows they are even there.

Why Every Writer Should Take a Trip Like This

If being a writer was as easy as just writing words on a page we would all be Shakespeare or Hemingway. When it comes down to it, it’s all about life experience. A trip like this is steeped in life experience. You’ll see another side of the world that is exciting and frightening, but also exhilarating and rewarding too. I can honestly say it has added to my literary arsenal of world observations. No matter if it is Italy, Germany, the desert Southwest of the US, or Canada, a trip like this expands your horizons and can only make you a better writer.

So, on the Balance

Venice was my favorite! But a trip like this is special in many ways. You get to spend lots of time watching the world move around you. You see people of every sort interacting in every sort of way. Even my experience with the street urchins trying to hock counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags had their impact on the way I look at the world. They will certainly end up in a book someday. If only the be a victim for a serial killer who is tired of people trying to sell them selfie sticks when all he wants is a truly great piece of pizza.

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Just a simple, quick note. I want to wish you and yours the happiest of new years. May 2016 be better than 2015, but not as great as 2017 will be!  It is my sincerest thanks to everyone who has joined me on my writing adventures!

God bless you all!

-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer