Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Healers

A friend of mine had a recent visit to a hospital for a quick surgical operation.  After her recovery, she mentioned a drug induced dream she had during her stay.  Today's blog post was inspired by her spooky tale.


I first walked through the doors of this hospital so long ago. The years have passed in a single breath. I spend so much time here, it seems like I never really leave. Patients are rolled in and rolled out. More patients have come and gone, most of them successfully, than I care to count. So many patients use this hospital that they were able to afford a major expansion.

New wings of the building with fancy new machines and operating rooms with the equipment to allow doctors to perform all the advanced new techniques. The new rooms and fancy hallways meant the older wings would be used less and less. Eventually, the hospital bigwigs stopped sending patients down these halls and putting them in these rooms. Janitorial would only send someone to clean the floors as a hazing ritual for new hires. Maintenance would park inoperable gurneys and other pieces of equipment in the vacant halls while they waited for parts or an order for disposal. I was the only one that still regularly walked these hallways and entered these rooms.

I guess I shouldn't say that patients were never put in these unused rooms. Sometimes an intern would mislabel some transfer orders for a comatose patient or a doctor would want to temporarily “relocate” a patient that was healthy but still being difficult. Then they would be put in a room and I would watch over them. I would discuss their condition with them even though they generally were in no condition to hear me. Eventually, the intern's mistake would be uncovered or the doctor's nerves would have settled and someone would come to collect the patient I had carefully watched over. They would be would be returned to the normal, active, upstanding, shiny new areas of the hospital.

Even though it was rare for patients to be placed in the rooms I watched over, I was not alone. Many former patients would greet me in the halls. We would discuss many topics of the day. The weather, the local scholastic and professional sports teams, the latest entertainment releases. Conversations with these friendly souls did wonders to diminish the omnipresent boredom and silence when there were no patients for me to visit during my rounds. When a particularly difficult case would come under my watch, I would sometimes ask one of these former patients to visit and speak with the patient while I continued with my rounds. I will never get a chance to see follow-up reports or read dismissal charts. Because of this, I can't be certain if my efforts have any actual impact or not, but I believe strongly enough that it does good that I will keep on doing it as long as the hospital keeps accepting patients.

****** ****** *******

“Sir, I know you asked me not to report this any more, but it's happening again. We've had patients saying they have heard voices while in the older wings of the hospital.”

An older doctor sighs heavily. His impatience and exhaustion with the topic obvious. “Jensen, we will go over this one more time. The original wing of this hospital is unused and only rarely entered. Any patients that say they hear voices there are experiencing drug induced auditory hallucinations. We've sent out a number of memos requesting that patients no longer be placed in those rooms. If we are still getting reports of voices being heard in that wing, it seems those memos have gone unheeded. It seems we must draft a new one immediately and make sure every one pays attention. We must not let rumors grow that this is a haunted hospital.”

“But sir, these patient stateme.......”

“This is not a haunted hospital! There is no ghost of a doctor that died from a stroke while on his rounds. While patients have died in the long history of this facility, their spirits do not roam the unused halls. The patients that reported these voices were experiencing a side effect of the drugs that had been administered to them. This is the last time we will speak of this. If you mention it again, that will be the last words you utter as an employee of this hospital.”

Have you ever had an odd dream during an illness or while on one medication or another?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

All Alone

One common thread through all of humanity is the occasional desire to be alone.  Even the heartiest of party animals desires a moment now and then to collect their thoughts.  For some people, this desire is much more powerful.  They avoid society at large except when absolutely necessary.  In this instance, the desire to be alone seems to become extremely dominant.

I've always felt a little lonely.  Even when in a group of people, I was still by myself.  Out at the club, I could be found in a quiet corner sipping on the one or two drinks I would order all night long.  If I attended an "intimate" party at a friend's apartment, most of my time would be spent looking out the nearest window or conversing with the resident cat.  At the few concerts I could be convinced to go to, everyone else would be standing up and singing their throats raw while I would be quietly sitting in my seat checking my social media feeds.  Honestly, most people didn't even notice my presence or absence in these situations.  I go more to avoid any awkward questions than out of any actual desire to party, dance at a club, or sing along with a band.

This weekend I took a chance to be truly alone with myself for a change.  I packed up some supplies, requested a week off from work, and headed up into the mountains for some camping.  Nobody for miles around.  No cell phone signal to interrupt my thoughts with calls or alerts.  No traffic rushing by outside my window.  Just me and my thoughts.  It was ideal until I woke up with a view different than the one I had fallen asleep with.

Plains roll out before me instead of the mountains.  Small flowers have replaced the old-growth forest.  The blue sky seems the same, just a different shade of blue than I'm used to.  A few puffy clouds drift near the horizons, not close or large enough for me to imagine any interesting forms out of their wispy shapes.

It takes me a minute to realize the complete lack of noise.  No chirping birds.  No insects buzzing by.  No animals growling as they rustle through the underbrush.  Even the wind seems to be particularly silent in the trees.

I have the feeling that I am so alone that even the Earth itself is ignoring me.  For once in my life, I am truly comfortable.  If only there was some way to tell exactly where I am and how I got here in the first place.  I'm less concerned with being able to get home than I am with getting back here to decompress later.

If you had one place to be completely by yourself, how often would you go there and how long would you stay?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

More to come

It seems like I have had a number of projects all hitting me at once.  Finishing editing on a book and sending it to the publisher, working on ideas for longer Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style stories, family adventures, life in general, and many other things.  

One project required quite a bit of research and study.  Now I'm doing a preliminary writing of a story for a comic book.  The tricky part of it all will be the art.  Anyone that's seen my digital graphics knows I have little to no artistic talents.  Once I am done, I will be handing off the work to another to bring my ideas to print.  To aid them, I hope, I have began doing some rough layouts.  This is the idea I have for the first page.

Once I get things more polished and in process, I will let you know.  In the meantime, here are some of the stories from the group I'm working with.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Guard Duty


Aspects of this story have been plaguing my mind for about half of my life.  While this particular scene takes place deep underground, I have a specific physical location in mind.  There are still many aspects of the story itself still missing, but I believe I have one major character and a starting location all sorted out.

I sit here on my throne, at least that's what I consider it. It's truly little more than a stone that happens to be the right height for me to sit on comfortably and offer my aged back some support. On cold days, I am not above placing a couple layers of skins on the seat. Just to keep the cold stone from sapping too much of my strength, not out of a desire for padding. My time here is one of duty, comfort has no place when discharging a responsibility.

Here, I watch. Here, I observe the happenings around the world. Here I sit and see all that is to be seen and contemplate how I would go about solving the problems of society. There are many things I could do to solve those problems. Things I could move. People I could assist. Other people I could eliminate entirely. So many things I could do to solve all the problems there are and everyone alive would be better off afterwards. However, I am not permitted to do so until the time is right.

Such are my orders. Orders that were given to me at the same time as the powers I now possess. Powers that are granted by the very crystal that I now watch over. Powers that would forever solve humanity's problems, if the person wielding them didn't mind becoming the subject of adoration of hundreds of thousands of people and the hatred of millions more. Such is the reasoning of those that instructed him when he first accepted his post. Now, he just sits and watches the world go by without acknowledging his existence. Just as he likes it.

Not for the first time, I look around this place that has been my home for far too many lifetimes to count. It is a large underground chasm with more open space inside that many cathedrals. My chair sits on a 10 foot high ledge at one end of it. Along each side in front of me is two rows of statues. Four of them to each side, all facing towards each other. The statues are of humans wearing majestic hooded robes. From the area the robes pool around their feet to the top of their hoods is easily 20 feet. The faces on the statues all appear similar, but I have looked each of them over enough times to know the differences between the individuals. To a casual observer, the different figures would appear to be close cousins. After such a long time in the company of these stone-faced individuals, I know how unrelated they really are.

On the floor of the cavern, between the statues, is the only source of light I have had for my entire time here. It is a giant crystal that shines bright enough that I think the sun would seem pale in comparison, should I ever see it directly again. This crystal was created by the people that assigned me to sit here and watch. The same people that made the statues that stand in observance with me around the crystal. They imbued the crystal with its power and created it to continue to collect power over time. For generations I have sat here and watched it gather the light energy of life itself. I will continue to do so until the timing is right and the power is ready to be released, however many more generations that will take.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Adventure of Your Choice

One of my favorite series growing up was the Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Stories I could read over and over, taking different routes and reaching different endings each time.  I mentioned them before in relation to Wil Wheaton reading them live online.

For some reason, I recently got the idea to try and write a story in a similar style.  Obviously, some adaption had to be made for the digital method of choosing story options instead of simply turning pages.  I hope you enjoy it.


You are the First Officer of an exploratory space vessel. You stand and look over the bridge and see the other five officers working at their stations. The Captain sits in his raised chair next to your position. The bridge is relatively quiet as the large display screen shows a map of nearby solar systems and the status of various ship systems. All power levels, environmental systems, and faster-than-light engines are all showing green and functioning properly.

The peace is broken by the communications officer speaking up. “Sir, we have an incoming communication. It appears to be a distress signal from a colony ship en-route to Tau Ceti. A malfunction took out their FTL drive and some of their environmental systems.”

Captain Hogarth issues commands in a clipped tone. “Navigation, plot the colony ship's location and put it up on the main screen. Communications, reply that we are on our way and get their registry and the number of people aboard. Also, relay the signal to any other ships in the neighborhood. We don't enough space to transport an entire colony's population.”

You look down at the Captain as the two officers acknowledge and execute their orders. “Should I alert the Medical Bay that we will have injured incoming?”

“Let's wait and see how many people are hurt and whether their own medical facilities are functional first. No need to get the doctors and nurses all hot and bothered for nothing. We should notify the Marines that they will need to gear up to board in unknown conditions.”

You nod at him and glance at the navigational display as the colony ship appears on it. Even with the FTL drive at full power, it will take just over two hours to reach the same region as the stranded ship, then another hour running on the sublight engines to get close enough to dock.


If you use the ship's interior communications system to contact the Marine squad, click HERE.

If you take the lift down to the crew quarters and notify the Marine Lieutenant directly, click HERE.

This post was challenging on two fronts.  It was fun writing a story that takes many paths because I didn't need to decide which direction a story should take, I could let it take all the directions that came to mind.  The other challenge was creating the different pages for the different choices and linking them all properly.  In all honesty, I may do this again if people like the format.

Are there any other directions you would like to see the story go?  Comment below what you think.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Universal Power

There have been so many cosmic powers given to different types of characters.  Different versions of Captain Marvel have had stellar abilities.  Spider-Man briefly became Captain Universe.  The residents of Oa, founders of the Green Lantern Corps, have abilities that are practically god-like.  Many gods themselves have had heroic tales told about them.  The majority of these powers could be considered to be at the "galactic" level of cosmic powers.  What if a an average person were suddenly given "universal" level powers?

I know everything.  The bindings between electrons of different atoms are a breeze to calculate.  The secrets of gravity are but a plaything to me now.  I can also see everything.  I can tell what Heisenberg postulated was impossible.  I can watch as as galaxies collide and planets collide into rubble.  I can see life forming in the deepest recesses and intelligence developing in the light.  I can see how time flows and know how truly easy it is to move back and forth in the stream.  Normally, a person might be surprised to suddenly having the knowledge of everything that is and ever was.  I was comforted by one more thing I knew.  In addition to waking up knowing everything there is to know in all of existence, I also know why I've been given this knowledge.  I have been tasked with saving the universe.

Every few eons, as measured by our traditional meager human methods of tracking time, two great powers rise in the universe.  One is bent on manipulating every fiber of every type of energy for its own benefit.  If someone or something will not comply, it is destroyed without any further thought.  The other power prefers to let all life and existence continue on without any influence at all.  When the two powers rise, they come together and have a contest to determine which one shall maintain control of all existence for the next few eons.

Since the powers cannot influence the universe with their combat, the powers each select a handful of lifeforms and imbue them with the knowledge and abilities required to combat those selected by the other side.  Knowledge nearly as expansive as the powers themselves posses.  Awareness beyond that which any human scientist could ever even dream of.  Enhanced strength and the ability to survive in the vacuum of space.  Imagine The Incredible Hulk, Superman, Mister Terrific, and Sherlock Holmes all rolled into one powerful superhero.  Then multiply that by about a quadrillion and you might get close to a small inkling of what I've been given.

With the entire universe being at stake, a simple game of darts or one-on-one isn't going to be sufficient.  Instead something akin to an intergalactic obstacle course is established.  Tasks are assigned that require a combination of the newly gifted abilities and some of the organic intuition and creativity that is required in the short life of a mortal being.  Imagine a puzzle style video game where one level is altering atoms to create an element with specific magnetic and conductive properties and the next is is positioning planets and moons in a solar system in order to achieve balanced orbits around the central star.  Unfortunately, getting a Game Over means more than just having to load the last save point.

Even with all my new knowledge, I have no clue how long this competition is going to take.  I also don't know which team I'm on.  Should I help or hinder any fellow competitors I come across?  How can I tell if we are on the same or opposing sides?  Given what I know of the powers that are in competition, is this even a contest I want to win?

If you had the power to do anything, absolutely anything, how would you use it?  Would you achieve some personal goal or do something for the betterment of humanity?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Reason Behind the Hunt

So many heroes are motivated by tragedy.  The main character of my current works in progress is no exception.  He decided to hunt Demons after watching his mother die.  While I work through and touch up my first draft, here is what you might call my hero's origin story.

I still haven't settled on a name for him yet.  In the meantime, I use "SonHunter" as a placeholder.


SonHunter had taken his pregnant wife and first two daughters to a local festival to boost the town's morale in the face of the Demon threat. A celebration to remind everyone of the days before Demons brought humanity down through fear and random destruction. His mother had been feeling ill and decided to stay home. He was never sure if she was truly ill or that was part of the Demon's plan to get her alone.

SonHunter was walking with his wife and children when the screaming started. He hurried his wife and children along so he could get them safely into the house before investigating the source of the suffering sounds. It was only when he saw the flames licking at the sky behind the house his family shared with his parents that he became truly afraid. He began running, ignoring the words of his pregnant wife and cries of his frightened young daughters.

SonHunter reached the field behind the house to see his mother's body completely engulfed in flames. Her clothes nothing but ash floating in the air as the Omega Demon stood nearby, laughing as the last breath of life left the woman. SonHunter reached into his pocket and grasped the crystal he kept there in case of emergencies without breaking his running stride. A primal roar of rage came out of him as he charged at the Demon. “You foul beast from Hell! What have you done?”

The Demon turned at his words and raised one hand. It seemed to grin as it snapped its fingers. SonHunter suddenly found himself frozen in place, mid-stride in his run at revenge. The Demon licked its lips in anticipation of more fun as it looked SonHunter up and down. Its attention wandered only when the sound of the cries of SonHunter's daughters came around the corner of the house, closely followed by the two girls with tears streaming down their faces clinging to their mother's hands.

The Demon turned to look at the new arrivals. SonHunter had never heard of any Demons speaking out loud until that moment. “Ah, even sweeter little things to play with.”

The fury in SonHunter began to build and rise. His vision tunneled in on the Demon, blanking out the rest of the world. He tried to force his limbs to move. Pressing against the Demon's imposed paralysis with every ounce of will he had. He had lost his mother. He refused to lose his wife and children as well. Not today, not now, not ever.

With another roar that seemed to shock the Earth itself with its ferocity, SonHunter shattered the spell the Demon had him under. He charged once again at the figure of evil and torture. The Demon's face was locked into a look of shock right up to the moment SonHunter thrust the crystal at its chest. The shock momentarily became pain before disappearing completely in the flash of light that signified a Demon's capture.

SonHunter's wife stood frozen in place, as though the Demon's spell had hit her when he broke free of it. The girls, his own daughters, cowered in fear behind her legs. Peering around their mother at the previously enraged form of their father. Fresh tears now flowing down their faces.

SonHunter took a step towards them. They all stepped back as one. He turned and walked towards the flaming remains of the bonfire and his own mother. Tears flowed down his own face. Tears from the heat of the nearby flames. Tears from the sudden loss of his mother. Tears from the reactions of his wife and children. Tears of a lack of hope for future happiness. On his face, he could feel a pair of cool streaks in the heat still radiating from the deadly fire.

Do you think anything more can be added to help the story along?  Do you have a suggestion for my main character's name?