Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Things

1. The 3rd part of Falling is still in the works. It's just that I thought I was going one place with it, but when I started actually looking at part 3 within the context of the story as a whole it didn't work on a number of levels (mainly pacing), so I've had to start from scratch a few times. It is still coming.

2. When I was writing Stump I had to edit out a section that didn't have the right tone. But I liked it so I decided to pin it to the idea board and see what I could do with it. I've made some good progress and when it's done I'll post it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


You had asked her to stump you and, like you knew she would, she did. Things had gone beautifully, the way they always do. It's one of your favorite things about her. Sometimes it's the only thing you like about her.

Now you sit in bed leaning back against the head board listening for the faint sounds of her crying, but as usual there are none to be heard. You can just make out her form bent at the waist, legs over the edge, the small traitorous movements of her shoulders the only evidence of her tears. There's a part of you that wants to reach out, hold her, place a hand on her shoulder maybe- any act of comfort no matter how small. But you know it would only make her cry harder so you sit in the dark and listen unable to pretend to drift off to sleep.

She says she has to go to the bathroom and gets up. The door closes. The light comes on.

You wonder if your both pretending you don't know somehow cushions this or if it's only a farce facilitated by your guilt. Guilt? You were hoping for casual indifference, but yes, you decide, guilt is the better fit. After all, you knew when you asked that she would do it. She always does it. And you knew that when you were finished she would cry because she always cries when it's over. Sometimes you think you won't ask again, but you always do.

The toilet flushes and the faucet starts. It'll be another five minutes at the fastest. Once she forgot to shut the door completely and when you passed it on the way to the kitchen you glanced inside. She was standing by the sink tears streaming down her face massaging the air where her left hand used to be. You couldn't ask her for a month after that. In fact, just thinking back on it makes you hate yourself a little. Knowing that she's in there now rubbing that absent appendage makes you hate her a little too.

The faucet shuts off and the light follows. You slide down in the bed and turn over, eyes closed. She climbs into bed and you can feel her looking at you. You pretend to be asleep. She's calm now- collected. If you looked at her, you think, you'd never imagine the past few minutes. But you don't look. She settles in. After she drifts off you remember that you didn't say goodnight.

She's gone before you wake up- a frequent though not constant occurrence for mornings after nights like the last. There's no particular pattern to it, but sometimes when she's not there you wish that she was, and sometimes when she is you wish that she wasn't. Today you're not sure.

You shower and dress and make your way to the kitchen. She's set up the coffee maker on her way out. Maybe you wish she was. There's a note on top of the spoons. You're definitely glad she isn't.

The note is new twist, one you're fairly certain isn't welcome- especially with your morning coffee. The two of you have never done notes before and the domesticity of it feels intrusive. You decide on black coffee that morning, but take the note out of the drawer. You put off reading it and settle into your first mug. The note could be important, you think. It could be goodbye, you think.

Goodbye. There's an unexpected sharpness to that. You stare at the note over your coffee mug. You take a deep breath you don't realize you're taking until it's expelled. You reach for the note with a forced casualness. You don't force yourself to read it so much as disallow yourself to skim.

An apology. Not goodbye at all. You catch yourself almost wishing it was goodbye. Her apologizing for last night is somehow offensive. Or maybe its accusatory? No, more than that. It feels like an indictment.

You grab your phone and start to call- to apologize. You stop mid-dial. You're not sure why, but you can't complete the call. You close you phone and stare at the note. You finish your coffee and use the note to wipe up the ring left by the mug. It's not a complete cleaning success, but that wasn't really the point. You toss the soiled paper in the trash and empty the coffee filter on top of it.

It's almost as if there was never a note at all. You decide to pretend you never got it. You'll figure out the details before the next time you see her. Maybe you won't even have to do that much. It'll be just like last night and all the other nights like it that came before. It's one of her favorite things about you, she's told you. Sometimes it's the only thing she likes about you.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Falling Part 2

It had taken a little over a week for him to him to be able to leave his bed for more than a handful of minutes. Now, two weeks out, he could do something that almost resembled walking. It wasn't atrophy- the nanos had prevented that. He just needed to regain the feel for actual physical movement. It had only taken him four days to remember his name- Sam. Sometimes the old name- the one from the other place- would snap in, but when that happened, and it happened now with alarming infrequency, he at least knew that it was wrong.

Sam suspected that he had done something with machines before he had gone in, but that thought pushed him to the edge of catatonia, and right over if he held onto it long enough. So taking deep slow breaths, he let it go. Dealing with anything more high tech than what he needed to make instant food made him forget where he was and what he was doing. That was when it didn't make him hurt. It usually made him hurt. The right side of his face, particularly his eye, would hurt viciously. Once it had hurt without abatement for a day and a half. Sometimes when the pain was bad enough to keep him awake he wondered if it was just jealous spite- his body's way of getting back at him for daring to have such a wondrous adventure without it. At those times he would tell himself that even if such a thing were true, he wouldn't regret it. Curled into a ball with his arms around his head, he would promise himself that even if it got worse- and Sam knew from research before he went in that it was terribly possible for things to get a good deal worse- but even if it turned out like the very worst of the stories he had heard he wouldn't regret it.

Last night had been one of those nights. The day hadn't been so bad though. He had even gotten something that with a month's evolution might be exercise. He had slept through half of the day before getting up to check on how much money he had left and how much longer his bills were paid up. Sam checked because it helped him keep track of the days, not because he had to worry. He wouldn't have to worry for a couple of months.

Sam had been smart about things. He had worked hard and saved everything he hadn't needed to pay bills or eat with. The day before he walked into the center and shelled out the combined fees for the implantation surgery, the extraction surgery, the two month residence (care and feeding included), and the in-residence physical therapy Sam had paid his rent five months in advance (the two months he was in and three months worth of recoup time just to be safe). He had also made sure he had a healthy utilities credit, though if worst came to worst it wasn't like they were going to shut him down if he missed a month or two. He just had to make sure that he was in good enough shape after three months to get a job.

That had been the plan, but now actually turning himself around in that time frame seemed better suited to some old world pagan god. What could he do? He was just Sam. Not even old Sam now. Certainly not the name he had to forget. Still, he had to try. He couldn't end up like those wretches everyone walked by and laughed at. The ones constantly worrying at their faces, especially their eyes. He used to pity them, now he hated them for their weakness. The more he thought about it the more their failures felt like chains around him. Binding his legs and arms, squeezing his chest, strangling his neck. He couldn't breath. For an instant he thought he was back in that pool of horrors, but his apartment came to his aid by stubbing his toe and snapping him back to it. He thought about maybe not checking his money for a few days. He was, after all, alright for a little while.

He would just have to find a new way to keep track of time. He decided to try counting the slips of paper instead- he didn't need to know exactly what day it was, just how much time was passing. He had opted for the paper notifications because they were recommended by an associate who's family member who had gone in. The slips were delivered daily through a slot in his apartment door. He wished he knew their name- the associate or the family member- so he could thank them when he was able to leave his apartment. He picked the day's slip up from the floor (he must have dropped it in his panic a few moments ago) and sat it on the kitchen table. He awkwalked (a term he came up with to describe his current ambulatory style) to his desk and laboriously wrote himself a reminder to find out who this associate had been and thank him or her. Whoever it was had helped him get a little leg up on coming back, and after the episode by the doorway he felt there was no greater thing a person could have done for him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Explanation of Sorts

I guess this should have been the first post, but story now this is the second.

I'm not entirely sure what this site is going to fully wind up being. But whatever the final version, it is first and foremost a place for me to get out/ work on my own short fiction. That means that what's here is my original work.

Whether I go back and edit or just kind of let things stand is a decision I'll have to make in the future. Right now I don't know. I had planned on doing something like this in the near future, but this was kind of spur of the moment.

Thanks for coming by, and welcome to Sometimes Robots.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Falling Part 1

The light came from everywhere, but illuminated nothing. There was nothing to illuminate, just a vast and unending greyness. He was running through it, though towards what he did not know. He had no way of knowing how long he had been running or how far, but it seemed that he had been running for days. For the first time he notices something on his feet- a powder- and then...nothing. There was no more surface and he fell. The surface wasn't the only thing he had run out of, the light was gone now too. He fleetingly thought it was just as well, afterall, what's the difference between darkness and light that doesn't show you anything? A tingling began in his right eye. It became a fire.

And then splash. The burning in his eye stopped. It was quickly replaced as his whole body was consumed by pain. He didn't know how, but he managed to swim. All he could do was hope it was towards a way out. The light returned, this time it was green and he saw that he was no longer alone. He swam towards the figure in the distance and after some time- there was no telling how long- he saw that it was a woman. As he came closer he was able to see something else. The surface. He forgot the woman and kicked desperately towards what he hoped was escape. He forgot running. He forgot falling. All that remained was kicking. And the pain. The pain should have been overwhelming. He couldn't explain why he hadn't succumbed to it. But the surface seemed close now. So close. Just a few more kicks and at least his face would be clear; some part of him would be free of the pain. Almost there he reached up- only to brush up against a smooth hard surface. Mad with frustration he pounded against it and tried to scream. Now his lungs burned too. He didn't know why he wasn't drowning, only that he wasn't surprised. Something soft moved against him and he looked down.

The woman he had seen earlier. An eternity of pain later she looked up and again he tried to scream. Her face had been eaten away, leaving only scraps of muscle and her perfect eyes. He tried to push away, but she grabbed him. Then her hands were at his throat- he thought she was trying to kill him. She kissed him and suddenly the pain stopped. He managed to shove her away and kicked down in panicked desperation. The pain was back, and the further down he went the worse it became. But it was better- anything was better- than the horror waiting- he hoped- at the not-surface. The thought of it following after him made him kick faster yet. The pain was terrible and he wondered if his face now looked like the woman's. Still he kicked. There was something down there. He couldn't make it out yet, but it was moving- maybe alive. As he got further down he was able to see it was another woman. He remembered the horror above him and fearing that what was below him was only another horror, he picked a direction neither up nor down and swam.

The woman- or he feared- thing below had seen him though and began to follow. He turned his head and saw this and tried to kicked faster and harder, but he was at the limit of his ability. What was worse, the woman/thing swam faster than him. It would be on him soon. Panic tore at him. He had to go faster, had to get away. Something grabbed his ankle. He looked down to see a hand not terrible looking at all. His gaze followed it to its owner and her face. There was no horror there either. He wanted to relax, but forced himself to look further and the horror welled up again. She had no legs, but a tail in the same degraded condition as the face of the abomination on the surface. He screamed. The light.

Blinding white light assailed him. A searing pain ripped through his skull and he noticed that he was breathing. Not green liquid, but water. He could hear his screams resounding off of walls. There were things holding him down. And then there was a voice, "Jesus, this is always the worst part."
Another voice, "The worst part for us, you mean. I hear that after they come to it's like two months of hell that make the chem-junkies' dt's look like a walk through the friggin park."
The first voice again, "It's gotta be some damn ride to go through all this."
A new voice, "You know, some of the poor bastards go back."