Hershey, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart!

After 20 years, I was finally going to see the Backstreet Boys thanks to my sister, but it sadly didn’t happen.

Let me lead you through the night we had with our sister in law…

Our hotel was full of fellow Backstreet fans. Old fans, new fans, me fan, you fan. You get the point. So before the concert, we went to Applebee’s, mostly for the $1 Mai Tais, but also it was on the way. And surprise, we weren’t the only BSB fans there either! Great minds and all.

Dinner is done and it’s time to head out to the concert! But wait, those clouds don’t look very good… Torrential rain, some rolling thunder, and lightning. Yes, yes there was lightning. We sat in traffic to Hershey Park Stadium for half an hour. In that time, we saw one person directing traffic at the end. One employee, after 25 minutes of confusion and chaos. Tsk tsk, Hershey. But, we finally park, and decide to walk the rest of the way to avoid the full trolley.

This is when things got fun. The line of a concert is where you make friends with people for one night, that you never expect to see again. And we did just that. Mainly bonding with the people who also had no idea where to go or what to do, as there were once again no employees or signs. Oh, there’s someone! Running back and forth in his staff vest ignoring people. Helpful.

Once the line starts moving, our favorite communal phrase begins, “the line is back there”, even though it doesn’t always work. About 45 minutes in this line, we get to the bag check and metal detector. Oh my god, we’re here! “Line for ticket check starts to the right ladies and gents!” Seriously? Another line? But at least this guy isn’t letting people cut in line. Now the ticket check machine is acting up. Slowing down the line, causing another backup.

We finally make it inside and get to the merch table, before they run out of what we wanted, duh. Ok, go to the seats. Somewhere? Oh, we just need to go through the gate, deal. One employee again. Oh, wait there’s a second usher, next to a gate. Except, he let us walk the whole way to him before pointing the other way. So, we walked into the crowd and didn’t make it to the ONE open gate in the fence. Well not until the concert started anyway.

They had masses still crowded in the walkway, and they turned the lights off. People started rushing forward, some people got knocked, some separated from their group, and I got shoved into the heavy fence. Two songs while the crowd isn’t moving, then this happens:

“You’re dropping out my battery is low, just so you know we’re going to a place nearby, gotta go! Hey guys, we gotta go for a little bit for the weather. But we’ll definitely be doing this concert!” Thank god! “Good evening everyone, this is Hershey’s security, due to the weather, this concert will be postponed, please evacuate.”

Evacuate, not exit. Let’s cause panic on top of things. Good job Hershey. “Excuse us miss usher, is it postponed for tonight? Do we have to leave?” “I don’t know, not tonight, I don’t even have a walkie talkie.” We’ll why not? You work here, you should have good communication.

Find an usher in a blue shirt, maybe they’re higher level. She told us everything she knew. Not tonight, contacts for information, what to do with tickets. But she pat us all on the shoulder and told us she was sorry. Finally! A good employee that cares about their job! But she’s like Tigger, the onliest one. As there was nobody helping people exit.

After all the money, the trip, the million lines, and zero help from Hershey, we didn’t even get to the field. We missed seeing the 8 minutes of the concert, and I don’t even know if my brown folding chair was dark or light.

Shame on Hershey for caring more about money than safety. This terrible experience, outdated stadium, and lack of employees is a bad reflection on you.

We understand the weather, and don’t blame the Backstreet Boys or Hershey for postponing, but this was poorly handled by the venue. No back up plan, not enough direction for their patrons, and certainly not enough employees. I hope they were kinder to the Backstreet Boys.

But most importantly, what jerseys were the boys going to wear?!

Flash Fiction: Shadow Arena

He’s like you, honey. You’ll be ok, Mr. Dither was just like you. Your father and I are so proud of you for making it through the Penumbra Training. We’ll be there for your graduation ceremony, we hear it’s a performance, I hope you’re practicing. We love you so much, and we can’t wait to see what you can do with your gifts.

“Who told our parents we were performing? Because they sure didn’t tell me.” The boy was barely 17, but large in his stature. His shaggy silver hair hung around his face as he read his mother’s letter over and over before handing it to his sister.

“My training didn’t mention a performance either. I’m kind of freaking out.”

“Look, we are all…different. They probably just want everyone to see that we can control our powers now. Maybe they won’t be afraid of us anymore.”

Just then the bells clanged throughout the slated passages, and the parade of fifty students wandered to the main hall. In front of two doors, Mr. Dither stood with his hands folded as his lips spread to show off his jagged whites. He wasn’t the most comforting man, and now as he glowered over them they all seemed to hold their breath.

“Well now, my faithful students, I fear I must make a confession before your…graduation. There will be a performance of sorts, two of you will step up to these doors, and walk through into the stadium. You will perform your skills through a test.”

A curtain dropped between the doors, showing a great beast 10 times the size of the man. White shaggy fur with great black eyes, and bloody gums with fangs resembling those of the professor who had rescued them from the fear of society. The beast sniffed the air and began pacing the cage, lapping his tongue through his teeth as he eyed the crowd. Mr. Dither just chortled at their reactions.

“Surprise! I’m evil. I haven’t been training you to control your powers, I’ve been training you for mutiny. And don’t try to run, your student bands will kill you if you don’t follow your orders.” He leered watching a few bodies fall to the ground as they tried to rush for the doors. “Anyone who can escape my pet shall join my army. Any of you that do not, become shadows in my army, after my pet eats you alive. Now line up.”

The siblings at the front of the crowd were ushered apart, one to each door. They looked at each other unable to breathe. Would one of them have to die for the other to survive? Would their twin connection help them to kill the beast, or at least escape together?

The doors opened and they shuffled in against their will running to each other in the center of the arena. They looked around the stands. As their eyes fell on their parents’ smiling faces, the cage door opened and the beast emerged.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I’ve always been an ideas person. It comes from being a problem solver, which comes from strategy board games and puzzles. I look at problems and think of weird ways to fix them while making it a little less sucky for everyone involved, well I do that with my story ideas too. How many I have finished is of no consequence (I’m getting there!), but I have almost 30 different ideas at the moment. The list continues to grow. Flying pirates, old west, hunting magic, time travel; nothing seems to be off limits. So where do I get my ideas? Well, my brain is a strange place sometimes.

I’ll watch Pirates of the Caribbean, and feel like I’m falling off something in the middle of the night. Boom, flying pirates. Well, what would they be up to? First, I have to design the flying part, then the pirates themselves, then I’ll fill in what their issues are. “Man, I really wish I could travel back in time to see what Hampton Court Palace was like in its hay day.” Well, the next best thing is to visit and write a story about it. Let’s get on that!

I had a dream once about two people watching the stars, and he decided to lasso one for her (Thank you George Bailey), next thing I know, I’m planning a story about space travel. My brain seems to take a piece from this book, a bit of that movie, and a lyric from that song and say, “Make something.” So, of course, I have to. It’s like a challenge to myself, and I’m competitive. I can’t let my imagination squirrel beat me. What’s the imagination squirrel? Oh, we’ll talk about that another time, right now I’m working on sewing a button back onto my jacket.

Wait…where were we? Oh yeah, squirrels and ideas. My inner tree rat will go collect a bunch of stuff and dump it back in my brain. Then I’m like, what can I do with this? Sometimes, I’ll be riding in the car and see a weird shrub or a random set of stairs that go nowhere, and three hours later, the squirrel will scream “Moss Stairs!” What do I do with that? Well, where might I find those stairs other than outside a gas station? They seem old, so history. But not too old, not like Shakespeare times, maybe Victorian? Well, what would I write about the Victorian times? Hey, check out this weird Nikki Minaj video. Well, I can make that work. Hello, Frankenstein story! (This blog will make a lot more sense once I finish writing my novels.)

Long story short, I find random things and piece them together. It’s like making my own puzzle. How do these things fit together? Well, they don’t, so how can I get from this corner to that one? The rest fills in like a chapter, or two, or twenty-seven. You could do it too! Keep a dream journal if you can, or keep a notebook with you when you go out to write down interesting things you experience. Take a picture of the oddly shaped rock on the turtle’s back; you could be the next Terry Pratchett.

Stay tuned for next week when I discuss that pesky squirrel. But I’m sorry in advance; there’s no moose.

Forget Adulting. Today I Don’t Even Want To Human.

I am NOT a morning person. I have alarms set for 5:30, 5:45, and 6:00 am. They overlap each other and play every five minutes. I still don’t get out of bed until 6:10 am most days. I try to switch up my alarms, but they are currently meant to send me a message.

5:30 am – No More Dream: BTS

5:45 am – Right Now: PSY

6:00 am – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Theme: Power Rangers

Here’s what my brain interprets this as:

No More Dream – It’s time to wake up! You’ve heard the alarm, and whatever you were dreaming about is gone, so you might as well get up. ~Snooze

Right Now – Seriously, you’re going to be late if you don’t get up right this minute! ~Snooze

Go Go Power Rangers! – It’s time to kick some behind, get up and go!

So, when I do finally get up, I have a strange mix of music in my head, and I have to take a minute to blind myself as I stare at my phone screen to make sure all the alarms are turned off because I don’t live by my lonesome. Once the alarms are off, I go to the bathroom and get my hair brushed, and brush my teeth, and try to remember what I was dreaming about. Can I turn it into a book? Short story? Flash fiction? Nope, it’s gone. Oh well.

Then I have to listen to something that makes me want to adult for the rest of the day. I have to wake up my mini-me and get ready for work, get her ready for school, and get us out the door on time. Then I have to drive like I have some sense in my head. Then I have to be at work for 9 hours. If you’re not a morning person, you know this is the worst thing in the world. You have to get up early, be productive, then go to work and be a functioning adult.

But I have days, like today perhaps, where I don’t want to adult. I don’t even really want to human. Being a human means you have to be awake, productive, and move around. I’d much rather be a cat today. Even dogs have too much energy for my level of awareness today. Cats can just lay around the house staring at things, occasionally chase loose strings, and wait for some human to come in the house to feed them. Doesn’t even matter what human it is, they come in, you appear, there’s food. That sounds good to me!

Ok, so I should be writing, but I can’t do that at work, so I wouldn’t be writing anyway, right? So why not spend the day laying in the sunlight and hiding under random pieces of furniture? I feel like that would be an epic reset button. When you’re struggling to find motivation at work when you have writer’s block when you’re not feeling well, when you have to get up at unnatural hours of the day because you’re expected to work; take a day to cat even if it’s just part of a Sunday. Just veg out, don’t do anything. Make your to-do list in your head if you have to, but don’t write it down, don’t act on it. Just exist for a few hours, and you’d be amazed how much more you can focus afterward.

So, forget adulting. Tonight, I’m going to be a cat.

A Short Story – In Honor of Endgame

I rolled over and smacked the snooze button, but the dinging pursued like a dog that needed to be scratched behind the ears. I peeked through one reluctant eyelid and saw the number 3 leading the time, blaring angrily at my tired face. Again. And again. Ding ding.This is getting old. I forced my way out of my comforter made igloo shroud and shuffled to the hallway. That’s when I saw the shadow on my wall, cast from the street bulbs. I moved to the front window and pressed my face tight against the glass trying to see what face dare wake me before my work alarm. His smile beamed through the frosted cover with an annoying alertness. I threw open the door and scowled as though he would burst into flames for his trickery.

“What may I ask do you want at this offensive hour of the…”

“We gotta go!” He pushed past me and walked to the closet. “Well, really I gotta go, but you gotta come with me. ”

“I hope there is a particularly good reason you are attempting to drag me from my home before dawn in my pajamas. Because last time, your cat got out of the tree all by himself.”

“Yeah, that was rude. But this time, oh man you gotta come with me. Time sensitive material here. And if I don’t take you with me, you are liable to break my nose. …Again.”

Again he grinned, as he threw clothing into my travel bag. He thrust a pair of jeans and a mostly clean tshirt in my face as he rushed to gather a few things from my bathroom. I dressed and threw on a pair of canvas sneakers, letting him yank me to his station wagon. If we had to leave at this dreadful hour, we may as well do it in style right?

We drove for about three hours before my eyes fully opened to the smell of instant coffee from the gas station we had stopped at. A few miles down the road he drifted onto a dirt path. He began bouncing in his seat and smacking his palms against the wheel as frustratingly as a child holding his wee wee. I rolled my head to the side and stared at him as he threw the car into an abrupt park and flung himself out of the door.

I followed him as he rushed across the field about ready to pick up a handy ear of dried up corn to hurtle towards the back of his head. That’s when he stopped and threw his fists in the air. I joined him at the edge of the trench, and my jaw fell open.

“I knew it! Hah! We made it just in time!”

He pointed into the sky as a godly blur of golden hair and a billowing scarlet cape fell to the ground. His manly mit gripping the hilt of a large hammer as his face grinned to us.

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