He’d never noticed a door there before. He stood there staring at it, at first in confusion. But the longer he watched the frame, the more it became a beacon drawing him closer. He looked around the room but nothing else seemed different. How could he not have seen this before? A great rusted metal door would certainly stand out in an old home made mostly of stone and wood wouldn’t it?
Schwyn Jones walked towards the door like something might jump out and bite him, but nothing did. Either to his relief or his dismay, he couldn’t say. He reached an uneasy hand out and touched the door, quickly retracting his hand as he jumped away. “hah!” He said as if it would move on its own. Nothing happened.
There was a very dim glow seeping through the small crack between the door and the ground. He hung upside down trying to look inside, but he could see nothing. A gentle hum was singing through the strange metal that comprised the door, so he pressed his ear to it. The door must have been hollow, as the hum began ringing. It sounded almost like a generator, but for what he had no idea. This part of the house had barely any electricity to generate.
He gripped the door knob gently, then squeezed as he sucked in a deep breath. He pushed the door open and saw nothing in front of him. The light seemed to be directed from a funny angle and yet there was nothing in the room itself. He stepped inside.
Instantly he felt sick. A dropping sensation hit him in the gut split second before his head hit the floor. The room was full. And he was…on the ceiling?! What just happened? The open door shut on its own at what looked like the ceiling now. Did the room turn? He was on the floor in the room he was in, but this was the ceiling when he walked in.
Schwyn walked around the room, looking for something he might climb to get back out. He found another door and bit his lip considering going through it. He closed his eyes and charged through the frame, only to slam to the “floor” that should have been the right wall.
“So this is how it feels to be in an Escher painting..” he said as he stood up and walked around, looking for another way out. Gravity must be confused in this part of the house, he thought. The further into this new wing he got, the stranger things became. Metal grated flooring, and sheets of metal were curved to make up the rounded walls.
He went through another door, and another. Falling each time in a different direction. Right, left, straight down. He found a small door and crawled through it, finding that this time he fell straight ahead. When he stood up he found himself in a room full of people.
“Welcome to the experiment.”
My name is Garret Narlin, and I should be dead.
In Mirrudge everyone is born with a birthmark on their forearm bearing the date they will die. Within the week of their death date, people are moved into the Expiry Thoroughfare as their final resting place; a final earthly Utopia. On their last night, the Eve of the Pass is held in the grand ballroom. During the celebration of passing from one life to the next, caregivers dress the beds. As the passing draws near, people retire to their beds with a final goodbye.
My death home is quiet, and I’m alone. The minutes are ticking by, and I can’t help but feel scared. I get to my room and look at my bed, the white floral draped gently around the edges and the satin sheets glimmering in the moonlight. Looking at it now, I feel stronger. I feel ready. With one last look out of the skylight, I let my eyes shut for the last time. Or so I thought…
I feel a hand grip onto my arm and jump. My eyes open and the morning light stings my eyes.
“Lornen! Lornen! He’s alive!”
My breathing hastens, and my heart feels constricted. I climb out of my bed and stare at it. It stands vacant, but in the wrong way.
“You must come with me now Garret.”
I fearfully shuffle one foot in front of the other across the floor after them. In all the history of Mirrudge, this has never happened. No one has ever survived their death day before. I stumble from my supposed resting place and through the city to the labs where the doctor rushes to me, slamming his hand on my chest and breaks into tensely triumphant laughter.
“Shena, come here.”
A young girl joins us in the room, and I know her immediately. My sister. I can see her quivering arm, and her date. Three weeks ago. Doctor Hesher places his hand gingerly upon her chest and feels both our hearts beating at once.
“In sync. It’s happening. A new age in Mirrudge. The pair of you will heal our world together.”
Hesher looks to us both, hopeful and proud. Shena reaches her hand out for mine, which I grasp, before locking her into a taut clinch. The hug releases a powerful burst of golden light around both of us. Flashes of a future appear to us both as we share a gaze, no death marks, no Eve of the Pass. Just life. We know what we must do, and we begin with Hersher. Together we place our hands over his heart, one atop the other, and watch as his death mark fades away. His laughter turns to pure delight and relief. Kissing us both on the cheek, he rushes us out of the lab and towards the city. With my sister’s hand in mine, our marks fade, and we march toward our destiny.
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?!
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.
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.