Vitural

February 18th, 2010

  The virtual re-creation is not finished yet, but I’m guessing they did not go down easy. While waiting in the lab, I look at the photos of the arcs of blood; that means this was a battle. There is castoff on the walls and ceilings, hell even on the light fixtures. The guy who did this was good at killing people though, as the preliminary results did not betray anyone but the couples’ DNA in the room.

 The Fightsim notifies me that it is ready for the re-creation. The first cut hits the male victim’s right forearm. His blood travels along the blade and hits the left wall just over the couch. The female victim gets punched and knocked unconscious in between the couch and coffee table. The second knife wound is across the palm of the male victim’s right hand. Blood lands on the coffee table and TV.

 He must have attempted to fight back at this point because the following wound is to his left bicep while the arm was extended. This upward cut created some of the blood on the ceiling and light fixture. With both arms hurt, he must have attempted to flee because the next gash is across his back. This injury is not superficial like the others though, it is over an inch deep at its deepest level and cut through some major muscles. He was on his hands and knees when the attacker started stabbing his lower back and kidneys.

 I pause the re-creation. Over ten stab wounds in the back. That should indicate passion and personal connection. With the absence of evidence of the murderer at the crime scene, that would suggest professional work. I make a note of the inconsistency and resume.

 The man crumbles to the ground and is stabbed three more times in the chest. Then he goes back to the woman, pulls her to her knees, slits her throat and then threw her over the couch.

 I rewind the re-creation, watch the woman’s murder again and zoom in on the knife wound. The slice is clean, so most likely she was unconscious on her knees and facing the couch. After slitting her throat, he picks her up and throws her on the couch.

 Why didn’t he just kill her where she lay?

 I put away the re-creation and start scanning the video footage from the Evico. I change the room around virtually and look at the various blood patterns. I look to see if any objects have been moved since the murder and do not find any evidence of it. Sometimes it is fooled into believing curtains are a obstacle or a tablecloth makes a solid wall, so I look for a region which might have been missed by the Evico and do not find any.

 I set up the virtual bodies as they were found. The woman is 5’7”, wearing a mini-skirt and a lacy blouse. She is wearing more makeup than she needs, and her rotten teeth and gums mark her as a drug user. She was probably pretty once, but now she just looked worn out. He did not have as much anger for her, so maybe she was just collateral damage.

 I pan over to the male victim. He has got fake animal-skin boots, and not the expensive type, denim pants and a tattered band T-shirt. Methamphetamines were found on his person, but located in his boots. The killer might have missed it, so I can not rule this out, murder for drugs, but that does not seem to fit with the violence of the stab wounds.

 I zoom into his back and examine the wounds. They are uneven as if he was moving during the struggle. He was most likely in shock, but his body was still trying to run and hide. The murderer must have flipped him over because he would not have the strength to do it himself. The final three stab wounds were made while he looked him in the eye; a cou ‘de gra, if you will. I checked the DNA results for someone other than the two victims in the house, but there are still just two sets of DNA.

 The murder feels spontaneous to me, as if they were killed in a fit of rage or fury. They typically present themselves to me in one of two ways: Either the killer leaves his DNA at the crime scene or he uses something to cleanse the crime scene. No chemicals were used at this crime scene, and the murderer left no DNA.

 I walk out of my virtual projection room and head for the vending machines. The manner in which he killed the woman nags me while I walk. Why did he put her on her knees? Why did he then pick her whole body up to put her on the couch? It would have been so much easier to just push her forward. Picking her up took unnecessary effort.

 I wave my hand over the front of the machine so it can read my RF chip and select a Honeybun. The device charges me and dispenses the goods. I open the Honeybun and some of the icing drops to the ground. Rather than cleaning it up, I just use my shoe to smear it in, no one will be the wiser.

 Then it hits me! He used her blood to smear in his blood. The Evico alone would not be robust enough to separate the two bloods, so it would have just returned the woman’s DNA. The theory is sound; however, to prove it I would have to actually go to the crime scene, and I do not go to crime scenes.

 When I was in the academy, they require investigators to do one crime scene to pass the course. It was the worst day of my life, and it still haunted me. The cops there had the nerve to tell me I was lucky, and it was not a bad one. I still have nightmares about it.

 If I tell someone of my suspicions and it ends up being true, they will recieve credit for cracking the case and it will be a negative rather than a positive. The spectrograph used to identify intermingled blood is light and works quickly. I could be in and out in less than 15 minutes. I suddenly have an urge to pee while I contemplate going into that blood-filled room.

 I prefer my virtual world, and I do not want to add to my collection, the sights and smells from actual murder crime scenes. I toss the Honeybun as I enter the bathroom. My hands are shaking as I urinate. “What’s the big deal”, I keep thinking to myself, “You’ve seen hundreds of crime scenes.” After I wash my hands, I splash water on my face. I can do this.

 I call for an escort and sign out the spectrograph. The cop picks me up downstairs and I sit in silence as we travel to the house. The cop looks old and bored. He is likely to have seen many of these kinds of crimes. I make up stories about his life to distract myself.

 The house is covered in yellow tape and he has to break the seal to allow me access. As he opens the door, the smell assaults me. It is a combination of bowels, urine and something rotting. The little bit I ate threatens to come back up, and I have to walk away from the house before I even go inside. I breathe through my mouth like they taught us, while the cop seems to be waiting patiently.

 I need a few more deep breaths and to steady my nerves. I can feel sweat forming on my back and armpits even through the Fall chill. My eyes do not seem to want to focus and it is as if I can taste the blood in my own mouth. I know its shock, but that does not alleviate the terror. I want to get away, and never go in there again.

 Is this really worth it?

 Is some small note in my file worth adding to my nightmare collection?

 The cop coughs and I wish him dead. He is right, though, I need to either do this or leave, and I am already here. So I straightened up and headed back into hell. I move quickly before I lose my nerve and enter the crime scene.

 The virtual view did not effect me, but standing here does. I move over to the couch as I try to work to keep the Honeybun down. I set up the device to scan the patch I suspect to contain the perpetrator’s blood, and now I’m left to wait for the system to do its work.

 The floor is covered in blood, so I look upward. The blood on the ceiling looks like red stars in a night sky. It is better than looking at the floor or walls, in any case. The waiting is killing me, though, so I try to see constellation in the dead man’s blood. I sit in the man’s house where he was murdered and I create images from the drops of his life that hit the ceiling.

 What class of person does this?

 As I contemplate what a horrible person I am, the device alerts me to being finished. I scoop it up and run out of the house without even checking the results. Once safely outside in fresh air, I look to see if I was correct, and I was. I tell the cop I’m done, go back in the car and upload the data to find and capture this guy.

 Travis Putnam was brought in a week later. He had a record and a temper. He also was a germaphobe and daily removed layers of skin and hair in an attempt to stay clean. Seeing how he was entirely hairless, he would not leave hair behind, and the scrubbing removed any dead skin which might have sluffed off.

 The fight started because the victim would not let Travis borrow his boots. The effort had cost Travis a tooth which landed on the couch. He believed slicing the woman’s throat would spray blood over the couch. When it did not work, he resorted to picking her up and moving her.

 Right before I fall asleep some nights I dream of the murder. I feel like I’m falling into a vat of blood and I jolt awake to the smell of bowel, death and decomposition lingering inside my nose.

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The Mores (Rewrite)

February 9th, 2010

“The dragon has scales like the black o’ night and teeth the size of yer forearm,” the merchant says.

 “No one said anything in the village,” I say.

 “They wouldn’t know, would they? It’s going on 50 years, since the last time he’s been seen.”

 “There would be stories if what you say is true.”

 “Maybe they didn’t want to scare you, lass, being new to the area and all.”

 “I don’t believe you.”

 With a tip of his hat, the merchant says, “Believe whatcha will.”

 The decaying smell of swamp assails me as I walk away. I do not fancy living here, and prefer living in a city. I miss the neighbors and the sounds. Here visitors are frequent because of Colby’s work, but it is not the same. Now this merchant brings tales of a dragon who hunted in this area. I do not like it, not one little bit. I enter the house, sit down and start reading while I wait for Colby to finish bartering with the traveler.

 The sound of hammer hitting steel signals the merchant’s departure. I put my book down, and check to make sure there is no trace of him or his wagon. Seeing none, I head to the forge.

 I watch my husband slam red hot steel with a hammer. The impact bathes the forge in sparks. The noise is deafening, but I can tell his focus is intense. The sight of him in a loin cloth with the front of his torso and arms covered in protective leather still looks strange. I watch the muscles in his back as he swings the hammer and pounds the metal.

 Colby sees me watching him, and I say, “Did you hear about the dragon?”

 “Yes, I expect he hears and makes up many stories while on the road.”

 “So you don’t believe it to be true?”

 He puts down his work, walks over to me and engulfs me in a hug smelling of fire and ash.

 “My love, do not fear the daydreams of some aspiring bard. He has little to do on the road but make fanciful tales.”

 “So you think it made up?”

 “Yes. he’s just an old man who spends too much time alone.”

 Colby’s reassurances put my fears at ease, and I kiss him deeply.

 “I love you,” he whispers.

 I say, “I love you too,” and smile.

 I finish the daily chores, and still have time to read before supper. I pull out my most treasured book, Magical Creatures. It is Colby’s gift to me from our wedding day. I turn to the page on black dragons and begin to read:

 Black dragons are a medium sized with a breath of acid. They prefer swamps, bogs and marshlands. They crave treasure and sleep for long periods of time. They are not as aggressive as the reds, but they are still evil.

 The weeks pass, and I forget about the merchant’s fantasies. Colby and I enjoy time together talking and reading. We buy books and spend the night discussing them at length. Our first year of marriage is glorious.

 It is a joy to have someone to talk with who cares for what I have to say. Men are so troublesome when it comes to listening to a woman’s mind. Colby is different; he sees me. He appreciates my opinions, and it is one of the many reasons I love him.

 On a drizzly twilight, a midwife confirms my suspicion; I am pregnant. Overjoyed, I run to the forge to tell Colby as the midwife leaves. She believes I carry a girl, and I worry that message will not be taken well. Men prefer male children, and I fear his disappointment, but I am still elated.

 “I’m pregnant,” I say.

 Colby turns and grins, “That’s good news!”

 “The midwife thinks it’s a girl.”

 His delight never falters, “We’re going ta be parents…”

 “I know!” I say as we embrace.

 We talk about names and building a crib. We discuss clothes and buying a cow. The excitement of the baby keeps us up late into the night, and we fall asleep holding each other.

 The next night when I call to Colby that dinner is ready, I hear something large breaking through the trees of the swamp. Upon hearing the noise, Colby and I go inside of the security of our home.

 “What is that?”

 “I have no idea, but it’s big,” Colby says as he draws his bow and scans the swamplands behind our home.

 Something twice the size of a wagon breaks through the tree line. The ebony dragon advances on its two powerful hind legs. Its wings curl to its sides, to prevent them from catching in the trees. The sight of it fills me with terror. It stops to look at the clearing around our home and lifts its head. Its nostrils flare and a foul stench overcomes me. It notices our movement, and rushes the house. Colby’s arrow hits the dragon in its right shoulder. The tip barely penetrates the skin.

 The dragon’s head lowers as he peers into the window. I hear a deep intake of air, and it snaps me out of my terror. Colby pushes me into the front of the house as the acid blasts through the small window. The spray covers the entire room and splatters onto Colby’s back. The smell of acid is so pungent I vomit in my mouth.

 Time slows down as we scramble to get away from the dragon. I hear the dragon’s claws raking the roof off the house. I see Colby struggling to stand, and then I see his back. The skin is gone, the muscle is exposed and I can see the white of bones clearly. In my shock it seems unreal, as if his skin is a shirt, and I need him to put his shirt back on.

 The dragon’s hole in the roof expands, and I expect another breath attack. Unable to open the front door, Colby uses the window beside it. The gruesome wounds on his back should have killed him, but he grabs me off the floor, and tosses me sailing into the front yard.

 “Run!” is the last word he ever speaks.

 Paralyzed in the front yard, I watch in horror as the dragon looms over my home. The drake’s acid strikes Colby. The acid flows over him like thick green drops of water. The shower melts off his face, leaving his skull and jaw open in a soundless scream of agony. I lay in horror as I watch my darling devoured by this enormous winged serpent.

 He is gone, and I am left with a hole where my heart used to be. Everything is gone. . .

 I wail as I understand he is gone, gone forever!

 I wail my voice ragged.

 I wail every time I relive his death, as he tries crying out to me.

 He’s gone.

 I wail. I know hunger and thirst and yet I wail.

 I wail as my mind loops through our life together, knowing that I will never experience moments like that with him again.

 I wail that he is gone. Truly, permanently gone. Never again will I see his smile or feel his touch.

 I wail at losing half my soul.

 No sound emerges and yet I try; even without voice my loss still needs out.

 I have no notion how long I sit replaying the final moments of his life over and over again. I try to yell and scream, but my body will not obey. I put every ounce of my pain and suffering into my scream. Everything falls away but trying to make my voice work again. The sorrow pounds me for release.

 I feel time pass and my body transforming. I concentrate on making my voice heard. I move but not with my legs; my body is no longer human. The oddity of it breaks my focus. The overgrowth of weeds mean several months must have passed.

 I move to the place where he died. I look down at the scarred stone and finally funnel all my grief and pain into noise. I sound much louder and stronger than I ever did while human. The keening sound of my cry shatters the windows, and some part of my mind knows me as the mournful spirit foretelling death. I am a banshee.

 I know things. I know how to cast magic. I know I do not have milk to nurture my daughter and need to find someone who does. About to give birth, my knowledge includes the time of my pregnancy. The art of how to mask my unborn child jumps to mind. I just need to find a wet mother with a girl child to replace.

 I search for homes not protected with iron, and find a defenseless cottage. The spell I weave puts their child in a form of stasis while mine can develop and strengthen. As I leave, the loss of my child overwhelms me. I wander lost, unable to find my home.

 I hear sounds of merriment and waves of anger hit me.

 How can they be joyous? How dare they?

I will make them pay.

 I enter the clearing and scream at them. I will end their happiness, and I give them all my mourning and anguish. My cry kills all ten of the fairies and turns them pure white.

 I did not want to kill them, and the shame of it brings me back to thoughts of Colby. I become engrossed in my thoughts again. I travel to where I lost everything, to the place that defines me: Boglamore.

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My Disc

January 31st, 2010

This is my DISC assesment. It translates into this:

A perfectionist, Mark is very willing to expend the effort to achieve high quality results. Because he works so carefully, he tends to be sensitive to criticism. Mark tends to gather a great deal of information before making choices. He believes that if everyone would process information in the same way as he does, a better level of quality would be maintained.

Mark prefers to work through problems by analyzing things that worked in the past. He is willing to follow another person’s lead if they display adequate ability and if Mark has confidence in their ability. He is someone who is able to lead, if necessary; but usually prefers to wait and see if another person volunteers first.

Mark takes a flexible approach in his dealings with others and he is willing to pursue different avenues to maintain good relationships. While he is patient and will not usually rush, Mark is not afraid to actively seek new solutions if previous methods do not fit the current situation.

Mark usually avoids being the center of attention. He tends to pick his friends carefully and is usually cautious and not overly “open” to strangers. Mark may sometimes come across as being skeptical of what others tell him they will do, but once a person has proven their reliability, Mark is willing to invest more time and trust in the relationship.

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Last theme change

January 30th, 2010

I couldn’t figure out how to increase the size of the comments width. I also didn’t like the required pictures with each post. This new theme, however, I LOVE. Very simply and allows everyone to focus on the words rather than the bling. I won’t be changing again unless I find some problem with this one. Sorry for all the recent changes. :)

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Incremental Negative Progression System for Blackjack

January 27th, 2010

 The Martingale system works like this: if you lose then you play double on your next bet. Because people bet different amounts, let’s use the word “unit” to describe the bet. So when you lose one unit, you bet two. If you win, you win a total of one unit. For the Martingale system, this holds true so long as you can continue doubling your bet. The problem lies in exponential growth, however. If a unit equals $10 dollars, and then you lose 7 times, it requires $1,270. Your 8th bet will be $1,280. So you will essentially be risking $2,550 to win $10. If you have played much blackjack, you know losing 8 in a row is not that unusual. So I came up with a variation to the Martingale system to tackle the problem.

 

I have worked as a dealer in a casino for 16 years. I can not tell you how many different systems I’ve seen people use. I’ve even seen mathematician’s use stupid systems. The first and foremost beneficial action you can do is to follow basic strategy. At a minimum, you should play extremely close to basic strategy. Here is what a basic strategy card looks like:

 

From http://www.online-casinos.com

*If you click the image, you should be able to print it out from their web page.

If you have done much research into blackjack then I’m sure you ran across card counting. Card counting is where you increase your bet when the deck is rich in 10′s and Ace’s. Blackjacks pay a unit and a half, so increasing your bet during high-count times, creates an advantage for the player. (Sometimes, the house calls counters advantage players) It should be noted though, unless you are willing to risk drastically higher stakes and do a lot of work to maintain an accurate count they do not raise your edge exceedingly.

 I do not relish the notion of keeping up with the “count”, or increasing my bet by 10 times my original amount. When I designed my system I wanted something that did not force me to remember a collection of information, like card counting. I also wanted something that would not require an immense bankroll, like the Martingale system. So I designed something that is both economical and easy enough to remember while drinking. :) I’ve done remarkably well with this system. It allows me to drink, and I win more than I lose.

 

My system works on negative progression, that means that your bet increases when you lose. Unlike the Martingale system though, you only increase you bet one unit when you lose rather than doubling it. When you win, you decrease your bet by one. So if you decided you were going to use a unit of $10, then every time you lost you would add $10 to your last bet to get the amount of your current bet. Every time you win a bet, you subtract $10 from your last bet to get your current bet. That is the basis of the whole system: incremental negative progression.

 There are only 3 exceptions to the above rule. This has to do with double downs, splits and Blackjacks.

 1) If you win a double down it counts as 2 wins so subtract 2 units from your winning bet for your current bet. If you miss a double down add only 1 unit from your loss to get your current bet. Example: Your unit = $10. You currently have a $50 bet, double down, and win. Your next bet should be $30.

 2) Splits work the same way as double downs. If you win 2 splits it counts as 2 wins, so subtract 2 units from your winning bet to get your current bet. If you win 4 splits it counts as 4 wins, so subtract 4 units from your winning bet to get your current bet. If you lose splits, only count half of the loses. So 2 loses means your current bet will be 1 unit higher. (Your choice when it is an odd number of loses to round up or down) Example: Your unit = $15. You currently have $120 bet, split twice, and win all 3. Your next bet should be $75.

 3) When you get a blackjack it counts as 2 wins so subtract 2 units from it to get your current bet. Example: Your unit = $25. You hit a blackjack for $100. Your next bet should be $50.

 Another Note: Combine the number of wins and subtract the number of losses in complex hands and use the number of wins. Example: Your unit = $10. You bet $70, have 4 splits and 2 double downs. Lets say you only lose one of the double downs, you have effectively won 2. (Lost 2 and won 4) Here is each hand in the example:

 A.) DD, got 18, and won = 2 wins

B.) DD, got 13, and lost = 2 loses

C.) Got 19, and won = 1 win

D.) Got 20, and won = 1 win

With your bets changing every hand, the dealer is going to hate you. Even if you do not use this method, you should still tip. If this approach helps you, TIP! I’ve been asked many times, “What is [expected, normal or standard] tipping.”. There is not a fixed amount to give. The guidelines that I think you should use are these: 10 percent of your buy-in per hour, or 1 unit per hour if you are using my system. You will notice I did not say winning or losing. I did not even mention anything about tipping whenever you make a blackjack. That is because although I tend to believe that you should tip more when you are winning, I do not “blame” the dealer one way or the other. To me the dealer is just like a waiter. He just delivers my cards rather than my food. Regardless if the food is good or bad, I tip based on the service given in both cases.

I do not bet for the dealers, but some dealers prefer bets to hand-ins, so it is debatable. I do not tip rude dealers, or dealers who are bitchy or complaining the whole time I’m there. (I usually change tables, in any case) I do not think you should tip someone who does not interact with you at all.

If you truly want to be a winner, I have the “golden rule” for you: Set the amount you want to win, BEFORE YOU GO. I can not stress this enough. Get a number in your mind that you would be satisfied with before you leave the house. LEAVE when you achieve this goal regardless of where you are in the system. If your goal is to triple your buy-in and you have reached that goal: Leave. Do not let it bother you if you are not back down to one unit. The system will increase your bankroll even though your average bet slowly keeps getting higher. When it comes to winning, pay attention to your bankroll, not your current bet. I also would not recommend trying to collect more than triple your buy-in. It requires several hours, and the higher your goal the less likely it becomes that you will hit it.

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The Mores

January 23rd, 2010

By Mark Coveny (Published 1-23-2010)

An only child born to loving parents, I had few duties. The only memories I have of childhood are of my father’s book collection. At fifteen, Colby More courted me. An attractive son of a blacksmith, we both enjoyed reading. On our wedding day, he gave me a book entitled “Magical Creatures”.

 After the marriage, we spent several days traveling to our new home. We finally pulled up to a vine covered stone building surrounded by moors. The house looked old, dirty and rundown. The plaque at the gate read: “Bog La More.”

“This is our new home. I know it’s not much now, but it’s got potential.” Colby said.

 “I was gonna name it Casa La More, which means House of More, but since it’s in a swamp I thought Bog La More would be funnier.” He said with a chuckle.

 Stunned to silence, I noticed this hovel did not even have a roof. I glimpsed a mangled fence through the thigh-high weeds. I cringed at the sight of the broken and dirty windows.

“This could be the house of our dreams, I just need to do some work to get it back ‘n shape.”

 “Um, yeah.” I responded halfheartedly.

Over the course of the next months, Colby repaired the building and I cleaned. With the doors and windows fixed, and the walls changing color, the shack became a home. I began to take time on literature. I dreamed about what the home could become. The excitement about our future grew within me again. After finishing the house, Colby started work as a blacksmith.

Colby’s business became lucrative, and he bought new books for me to read. The townsfolk asked me to teach their children, when they found out about my reading. The children loved my stories, and I felt needed and a useful member of the community. Life is better than I ever expected, and Colby is my soul mate.

 I hear rumors about a black dragon in the area, but Colby discounted them as superstition. I trusted him with my life and believed him utterly. I have never seen a dragon and refused to believe anything bad could happen to us.

 After nearly a year of marriage, I became pregnant, and the news elated me. I fantasized about being a mother and raising our child. I found out the baby is OK from a midwife. My life, at this point, is exceptional.

Life came crashing down on me one drizzly twilight when reality met fantasy. Colby bought some fireworks from a traveling merchant that day. When the sun began to fall, he shot them off to celebrate our future child. The loud explosions are not enjoyed by all.

 “They are splendid my love.” I said.

 “They were expensive, but worth it.” He replied.

 I smiled at him. I stroked my belly, thinking of our child. I had only seen fireworks a few times in my life. Father told me Gnomes made them, but I never met one. Then I heard something large coming through the forest. It woke me from pondering baby names. Colby scooped me up and took me inside.

 “What is that?”

 “I have no idea, but it’s big.” Colby said as he drew his bow and opened a window.

 Something twice the size of a wagon broke through the tree line. The ebony dragon advanced with its two powerful back legs and wings curled to its sides. The sight of it filled me with terror. It stopped to look at the clearing around our home and lifted its head. Its nostrils flared, and a foul stench overcame me as it rushed the house. Colby’s arrow hit the dragon in its right shoulder. The arrow barely penetrated the skin.

 I heard a deep intake of air. It snapped me out of my terror. I knew I would soon burn in the Dragon’s fire. I ran to the front of the house. It sprayed not fire, but acid. It blasted through the small window, slammed Colby in the back and pushed him on top of me. I could hear the dragon clawing at the window and roof of our stone home.

 Colby opened the front window. This gave me a clear view of his back. The acid had melted his shirt and skin. With the skin gone, I could see the bones and muscles on his back. The gruesome wounds on his back should have killed him. He turned, grabbed me off the floor and tossed me sailing into the front yard.

 “Run!” He yelled from the window.

 Paralyzed, I watched in horror as the dragon loomed over my home. Everything slowed down as the drake’s acid struck Colby. The acid flowed over him like thick green drops of water. The shower melted off his face. Caught in a soundless scream of agony, all I could see of him now is bones. I lay in horror as I watched my darling devoured by this giant winged serpent. He is gone, and I am left with a hole where my heart use to be. Everythings gone. . .

 I sobbed at the loss.

 I began to cry.

 I wailed when I understood he is gone, gone forever!

 I wailed my voice ragged.

 I wailed every time I relived his death, as he tried crying out to me.

 He’s gone.

 I wailed. I knew hunger and thirst and yet I wailed.

 The loss is too much, everything else seemed meaningless now. There is no world without Colby.

 I wailed as my mind looped through the good times, knowing that I would never experience them again.

 I wailed as I thought of all the work destroyed.

 I wailed that he is gone. Truly, permanently gone. Never again would I see his smile or feel his touch.

 I wailed at losing half my soul.

 My throat quit working and yet I still tried to continue. Without words, other than pure sorrow, my loss still needed out.

I have no notion how long I sat there replaying the final moments of his life over and over again. I tried to yell and scream, but my body would not comply. I put every ounce of my pain and suffering into my scream. Everything fell away but trying to make my voice work again. The sorrow pounded me for release.

 I felt time pass and my body transforming, still I concentrated on making my voice heard. I moved but not with my legs, my body is no longer human. The oddity of it broke my focus. I wandered to the house and realized change. Unaware of the passage of time, the yard is overgrown, the house covered in vines. I remembered the first time I looked upon this place.

 I moved to the point where he died. I looked down at the scarred stone and finally drained all my grief and pain. I sounded much louder and stronger that a human voice. The keening sound of my cry shattered the windows. Some part of my mind knew me now as a banshee – the mournful spirit foretelling death.

 I knew things. I knew how to cast magic. I knew I did not have milk to nurture my daughter and needed to find someone who did. About to give birth, my knowledge included the time of my pregnancy. The magic of how to mask my unborn child jumped to mind. I just needed to find a wet mother with a girl child to replace. I started looking.

 I searched for homes not protected with iron. I found a defenseless cottage. The spell I cast put their child in a form of stasis while mine could develop and strengthen. As I left, the loss of my child overwhelmed me. I wandered lost, unable to find my home.

 I heard sounds of merriment and waves of anger hit me.

 How could they be joyous? How dare them!

 I would make them pay.

 I entered the clearing and screamed at them. I would stop their happiness. I gave them all my mourning and anguish. My scream killed all ten of the fairies and turned them pure white.

 I did not mean to kill them, and the misery of it brought me back to thoughts of Colby. I became lost in my thoughts again. On autopilot, I headed back to where I lost everything. The place that defined me: Boglamore.

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The basis for a tragedy is that life is unfair and unkind. There is neither justification or rationalization of the “why” when things like this happen. Haiti is an example of bad things happening to people for no reason.

When we look at the scared people it makes our hearts pour. We yearn for a reason, but there is nothing. Certainly there must be a cause and effect involved, we tell ourselves. As an atheist I don’t believe in Gods. For those of you who do, ask yourself, why would a benevolent being allow something like this to happen?

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Abuse of Power

January 21st, 2010

Injustice

Many times in our lives we are treated unfairly. It makes us feel helpless and vulnerable. We deal with it by getting angry, sad, or in many other ways. We wish so badly things went differently, that the other person could somehow understand where we are coming from, but that’s just not the case. They don’t want to listen, or they selectively listen to the parts they like, the parts that confirm the judgment they’ve already made.

 Justice is about treating everyone equally. It’s about rules we all have to follow. We can’t get away with excuses or justifications in a court. You simply have to do the “right” thing irregardless of: how mad you are; how much you would enjoy vengeance; how justified we feel we are. When we say something hurtful to someone, does it really matter if we’re were mad?; Does it matter if we’re drunk?; Does lying and telling them we didn’t mean it afterwards take the pain away? I don’t think it does.

 I believe that when we mess up we should own up to it. The guy who abuses his wife because “she had it coming” isn’t forgiven because he was mad. The drunk driver who kills a child isn’t forgiven because “He can’t stop himself from drinking.”. These are extreme cases I know, but the same defensive mechanisms are still used when people make mistakes in everyday life. We say “I couldn’t help myself”, “I couldn’t stop.” or “I was overwhelmed.” We don’t accept these justifications when it comes to big stuff, why do we accept them when it comes to smaller stuff?

 It feels good to have power. It feels good being the one making someone else feel helpless. At a very basic level it means we aren’t the helpless ones. It’s a sort of vengeance against the people who’ve wronged us in the past. The feeling of power is very fleeting though, so we tend to repeat it. This is how a injustice against us in the past creates a cascading effect of injustices against others.

 The person who wronged us in the past is likely untouchable. There is no way for us to “get back at them” or settle the score. That’s the reason they abused their power – because they felt we wouldn’t be able to stop them or defend ourselves. They had us at their mercy, and their mercy wasn’t kind. It’s very hard not to abuse power.

 The old saying goes “Power corrupts”. I don’t believe it’s the power that corrupts, I believe it’s the fact that we aren’t accountable to anyone. It’s been proven in many studies that if we believe we can get away with something we want, we will do it.

 Even though we consider stealing wrong, we have no problem stealing on our taxes or from big business. To me that’s proof positive that we, as a people, are only good when we’re held accountable for our actions. If we think we could get away with it or we don’t feel a personal connection, then we don’t have a problem doing something normally we’d consider morally wrong. The morals involved haven’t changed, in both cases it’s taking something that doesn’t belong to us.

 My advice to the world is to work hard to put yourself in other’s positions. Abusing power gives us instant gratification, and gives the other person long term hatred. I work daily to keep from hurting other people’s feelings, and I suggest you do the same. This shows itself more greatly when we disagree with someone. Consider this, in a case of “us versus them” how easily are we mean or abusive for even the slightest infractions.

I’m not saying that we need to accept everything thrown our way. I’m just saying maybe Isaac Newton was wrong when he said “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”. I don’t think the reaction is equal, and I would like to see us, as individuals, strive for an equal reaction, rather than an overreaction.  

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I’m going to do my best not to be listed with these fellow author’s for not giving an equal reaction:

Alice Hoffman called her critic “Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron” and “Now any idiot can be a critic,” reference Los Angeles Times.

Alain de Botton posted a comment to the personal blog of critic Caleb Crain ”I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make.” reference The New York Observer.

And of course the batty story of Candace Sams, who threatened to sick the FBI on a reviewer. Author WTFckery at play has the epic dialogue.

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Lux’s Death

January 20th, 2010

Yanked by my shirt, dad tore me from the cupboard. I did not see a sword, so it meant father just wanted to beat on me. I deflected the first punch with my arms. He leaned toward me as he drew back his dominant hand for a hook. Connecting that hit would mean lights out for me. One hairy punch would end the fight with little damage, still I ducked.

I am 5’10″ tall at 15. My father is 6’5″ with arms the size of most men’s thighs. Our fights are not fair. My life is not fair. I do the best I can.

I jumped back from his left front kick, but hit the back wall. The overextended kick still landed. My right jab hit his nose. I sidestepped toward the door. I hoped to make the door before his vision returned.

He blindly rushed me for a tackle. I drew my knee up spearing his jewels on impact. Contact took the air out of me, but he hurt worse. This close I could smell the liquor on him. I pushed him away when I noticed his pain. He landed on his knees and looked up at me.

“Your a bastard, and your whore of a mo–” he squeaked.

My right cross knocked him unconscious, blood oozing from his busted lip.

Who’s the bastard now? I thought.

My earliest memories are fighting. I fought my father. I watch my father beat, bruise, and break my mother. I watch my father fight strangers at the bar. At eleven my mother died. I know my father’s viciousness. I don’t consider her death a mystery but everyone in town does.

I checked the mirror for bruises or blood, then I went to what started the fight: his treasure. I rummaged through the gold coins. The amount of gold in the chest amazed me.

He is rich and we live like paupers! I thought angrily.

Numb, I could not think. I could not decide what this new revelation meant, or what I should do. I put the chest back and traveled to the place I do the best thinking: the bar.

As I walked to the bar I thought of how I started working there three years ago. It is one of the few times my father’s constant fighting caused some good. I fantasized many times about the owner being my real father. We talked about how wine and beer is made. He showed me a book once on the whole process. The book must have cost him a fortune. He let me look at the book unsupervised.

The bar is a five minute walk from our house. Dad liked living close to liquor. As I walk in I see three foreigners. One is a dwarf! I assume a warrior from dad’s teachings. The scarred human with all the pouches would be the wizard. Leathers meant the other human is either a thief or a ranger. They looked familiar to me.

My memory synced. I knew father’s tales of his adventuring party. I moved closer to hear what they are saying.

“Lux’s house has got to be around here.” Said the ranger.

They are talking about dad. I thought.

“Crush some skulls, and they’ll talk I say.” Grunted the dwarf.

“My spell might work if he’s close enough.” The wizard said.

“I want’s me part of the treasure, even if I have to take it out of his hide!” Exclaimed the dwarf.

Dad stole their treasure. It dawned on me.

I attempted to draw no attention as I left the bar, but the owner spotted me.

“Rellik you gonna work tonight?” He questioned.

“Naw I’m not feel’n well.” I responded.

“Ok, hope you feel better.” He said with a concerned look.

“Thanks.” I said as I left the bar.

I noticed the adventures still talking amongst themselves as I left. I ran to warn father. While running my mind kept asking why.

Why should I help him?

What do I owe him?

Why should they get the money?

Why not let him die, he killed my mother.

My pace slowed as I neared the house. Father did not stay down for long. I lost track of time while at the bar.

How much time passed? I could not remember.

I peered into the house checking to see if he is still sleeping. He looked exactly as I left him. I creeped through the house for the treasure chest. I will not limp away empty handed.

This is my chance. I thought.

I could live out my days on a farm I bought with this money. After I stole the chest I strapped it to a horse in the barn. Guilt seeped into me as I led the horse away from my home.

They would find him helpless.

My father never did a selfless act in his life. My mind struggled with leaving him to die. My father feared helplessness. I know the worst end he could imagine is to be slaughtered like some farm animal. So I tied up the horse, and ran back.

The group found the house. I could see them looking from the edge of the forest, just outside the clearing to our house. I circled to the back. I pulled my bow, and shot. The arrow hit the shutters on the back window with a loud thunk. I could see dad moving inside the house. I positioned myself for a better view of what was about to transpire.

The adventures walked up, and the dwarf found the door locked. The wizard began moving his hand, then threw dust in the air. He put his fist through the cloud. A wagon wheel size opaque fist hit the door, and blew it off it’s hinges. As soon as the door disappeared, my father’s arrow head exploded blood from the back of the Wizard’s neck. His death mask a frozen smirk.

The ranger returned fire so quickly I never saw him pull off his bow. The dwarf rolled out of the doorway and drew his hammer. It seemed practiced somehow.

“Lux throw me gold out and you don’t get smash’d.” Yelled the dwarf.

I did not hear a response.

The dwarf picked up a board beside the house as a makeshift shield. They nodded to each other. Simultaneously the dwarf rushed through the door as the ranger fired arrows through the front window.

I could hear fighting inside. The ranger drew his swords and joined the fray. Several minutes later the ranger stumbled back outside, his chest soaked in blood. The ranger looked pale even from here. He sat down outside the house and looked at the stars. The dwarf followed him with his right arm and leg bandaged. The dwarf looked at the ranger’s wound, shook his head, and went back inside to rummage around the house.

The ranger gazed around. He stared toward me. I felt he could see me somehow. He smiled, slumped, and died. My stupor broken I ran to my horse.

I rode for several weeks toward wine country. I only spent modestly. I did not want to draw attention to myself. After I started seeing grape fields I relaxed. My dream to make wine filling my head.

Before I entered the inn’s barn, I saw a woman washing her hair. Her beautiful hair allured me. I figured her a barmaid.

“Barmaid, are their any vineyards for sale ‘n this area?” I asked.

“I’m no barmaid!” She seemed insulted.

“I’m sorry, do ya know about anything fer sale?” I prompted again.

She relaxed saying “There is one in town, but I wouldn’t buy it.”

Intrigued I asked, “Why’s that?”

“Old man smith ran the place in the ground.” She said matter of factly.

Attracted, I responded, “Well, which one would ya suggest?”

“Brown’s place about 10 miles from here. It’s been taken care of, and it’s at a good price.” She stated businesslike.

“Well thank ye, would ya mind if I bought ya dinner as payment for this valuable information?” I said.

Her cheeks turned bright red. Her gaze dropped to the floor. Timidly she responded. “If you like.”

Her response excited me in ways I can not even explain. I knew this golden hair girl would be mine.

Over the course of the next week I bought the Brown’s vineyard, and we talked repeatedly. She is knowledgeable about the process of producing wine. We married before long.

My life is now as I dreamed it, all those years ago. I captured what I always wanted. Sadly the violence is still inside my head. My father is not truly gone from my life. Daily, I control the frustration and anger lest they consume me.

I promise myself I will never lay a hand on my wife or child as my father did. If I can provide nothing else for them, this I guarantee. I am not my father.

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According to Engel, “in the past twenty-five years studies on abuse and family assaults strongly suggest that abused children become abusers themselves,” yet victims often don’t receive any treatment until their repetition of the abuse is already underway.

Also check out Victoria Women’s Transition House. The link is to a list of the cycle of abuse. If your being abused, get the help you need.

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Banshee’s Mourn

January 20th, 2010

I stalked the family of three, as they trudged through their day time routines. I formulated a plan to steal a closer look at the infant. The search of the village over the past week left only this house and one other possibility. Salt deterred me from entering the other house. The salt also made it more difficult for my nemesis Boglamore to switch the infants in that home. I, as a fairy, loathed banshees, Boglamore was one of the worst. The pain of seeing Boglamore’s scream kill 10 of my fairy brothers still haunted me. I was close to catching the banshee’s offspring. I just needed to find the child. I believed, this house held the child.

I watched as the father of the family brought the sweet milk from his cow. It was the magic time for fairies: dusk. My power was strong now, but hunger would set in later. I could taste milks warm wholesomeness on my tongue. My mouth watered.

Stay focused! I told myself.

I watched the wife cook to pull my mind away from thoughts of milk. I floated within 4 feet of the woman undetected. I found the brown of the mother’s eyes unremarkable, but her hair was long, like wisps of golden smoke. The breeze through the window created the illusion of her hair barely hanging on, like the dying leaves of a tree in fall. I measured her normal human height. (it’s hard for a fairy to tell these things) She seemed plump.

She’s still heavy from the pregnancy. I thought.

I peered across the room at the soundless crib. A quick flight through the window would let me look at the infant. That’s the human type of blunder, not the fairy’s way. I finally came up with the trick. It’s fun to prank humans. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

Stealthy I moved to a position in the field next to a cluster of grapevines. I waited for the husband to come near. He crashed down the row of grapes. I released my spell. The vines sprang forth to entangle my prey underneath them. I smiled as he tried to dislodge himself. The spell was subtle although ancient, the vines healthy and many, a human didn’t stand a chance. That will subdue him for an hour or more. I expected calls for help and rushed back to the house.

I smiled proudly as the sounds of a struggle grew. The mother dashed out of the house to check on the disturbance. Now was my chance. I sped to the crib. I tugged the covers down to inspect the child. I could see no outward appearance of defects, mutations, or telling Banshee features. I began to cast a spell to reveal the infants true form.

“Iszera batogaloo, misdara da revealous cretarsemba,” I cast, looking for signs of the banshee’s magical voice.

I concentrated to maintain the spell to see deeper, past any illusions. I felt fairy dust pour off my body. I cursed my slow fairy magic. It takes time to break a banshee’s spell, time which I did not have. In the back of my mind I knew the dust might give away my presence to the family. My worry was threatening to break my concentration, this spell is not easy.

When I heard the mother return from the field the spell broke. Hiding in the rafters of the house, I punched the wood. The mother checked on her babe. She finished the meal just before the father came in covered in leaves.

How had he freed himself so quickly?

The father gave the mother a tight hug. His kiss on her check was quick, but his gaze lingered on her even after he took his seat at the table. She filled his plate with large portions, setting it in front of him. Steam swirled off the plates with a gamey aroma of deer. My mouth filled with saliva again. I might do something stupid if I couldn’t control my hunger.

He inhaled the food, he couldn’t enjoy the feast she provided. Bits of food fell to the floor while he ate. The father then moved the table and pulled out the bed. The infant laid there still quiet. The male sat on the bed. He looked at the female with food hunger in his eyes. The woman smiled. Her hair cascaded across her face as she tilted her head. He growled at her showing teeth. She slid to him. He tackled her down on the bed.

“eep” she cried

The male stripped, and forced her into nudity even as she attempted to flee the bed. She futilely tried to free herself from his restraint. He pinned her arms above her head. He began nipping at her breasts.

This is some sort of attack. I thought.

The man forced the woman’s legs apart with his thighs. She watched him as prey watches predator before they strike. The mother wore a calm helpless look of resignation on her face. I know nature, the woman did not have long to live.

The death of this woman would make my mission easier. I struggled with indecision. I wanted to keep the woman alive, but her death would mean less humans to interfere. I decided not to break my morals. I cast a spell.

There was a knock on the door.

The man stopped the violence to look around. The color flowed back into his eyes. The male animal was perplexed by the knock, he didn’t seem to understand what it meant. I cast the spell again.

There was a knock on the door, again.

The males face flushed red. He jerked his clothes from underneath her, grumbling. He slapped the bed in frustration. The woman burrowed into the sheets for protection. The killing blow prevented! I was very proud of how I understood and handled the situation.

Humans are just like any other animals. I smirked.

The man ripped the front door open looking for whoever interrupted his sport. The house groaned under his strength. I now understood why the vines couldn’t hold this human’s strength for long. I prepared another spell against this beast just in case. The woman put on her clothes underneath the covers, while the man banged around outside.

“Who’s there?” He yelled repeatedly.

No ones there human, I thought.

“Come back inside, they’re gone,” the woman finally called.

The man stomped into the house. Slamming the door behind him made bits of dust fall from the roof. He blew out all the candles, slipped into bed, and drifted to sleep. The woman stared at his back for many minutes crying softly.

She should be happy, I just saved her life. I puzzled

As the woman fell asleep, I focused on the quiet baby, his eyes following me as I floated down to the crib. I locked gazes with the child. I drifted closer to see the intelligent gleam in this so called human. He did not make a sound. I wanted to know for certain that he is the banshee’s child.

“Iszera batogaloo, misdara –,” I began to cast

The banshee child’s scream was horrid, but not fully developed to it’s killing potential. I was forced from the sky like a pheasant shot with an arrow. Dropping from the air saved me from detection, as the humans shot up in the bed.

While the woman nursed the child, I crawled under the bed to recover. The man crashed back to sleep. I didn’t doubt the origins of this child now. I waited for the family to lay back down to bed.

I collected fairy dust I cast to the ground earlier, arranging the dust in a circle around the crib. I etched eight symbols in the circle with great detail. Eight fresh leaves, from the fathers clothes, worked well as the nature element present in all fairy magic. An hour from dawn I finished the circle.

Dazed with hunger, I scavenged what scraps I could from the floor to eat. The last gel like mass, of hard and cold deer stew resisted my throat. As I ate my mind cleared of everything but the spell at hand. The spell required perfection to place the human child in the crib. I was now mentally ready to weave my magic.

In a low voice I chanted, “barbalama, tusorulagosmar, tiscamakpeck, eeknarboo masgonar.”

Fairy magic grew around the crib. I could feel it working. I felt it seek where the true child was hidden. My magic found the child. A dim pulse of light returned the human child to the crib. The changeling imprisoned in my enchanted pouch.

I checked the pouch to make sure Boglamore’s infant was secure. The infant banshee could do no harm in there. The elder’s spell would make the child’s voice harmless forever, when I returned. The human lay in it’s rightful place. I headed to the barn for a warm glass of delicious milk. It was my reward for fulfilling the vow to my fallen kinfolk.

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Wikipedia on changelings  states that our society use to put children believed to be changeling into ovens, and fires. Children with physical or mental problems were beaten or killed in an attempt to “cast out the demons”. If you believe that this type of child abuse is in the distant past I suggest you check out these articiles.

Unsolvedmysteries.com has a page for Exorcisms that have ended in death.

Couple Bit Child More Than 20 Times in Fatal Exorcism from Tyler Paper in 2008.

How about letting someone die because you believe they are beneath you? Fox news reports also in 2008 Woman, Baby Die After Doctors Refuse to Treat Them in India.

Reference site: What’s the Harm. If you want to look at pages of dead children with supersitious parents. Also worth checking out: Things Atheist didn’t do and Still More Things Atheist didn’t do.

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