Sunday, August 3, 2014

Escaping Storybrooke - episode one

Disclaimer: The author claims no ownership over the established TV characters used herein; this is a fan fiction based upon ABC's Once Upon a Time.

Fairy tales are true, and Storybrooke is the part of our world that proves it.  Most of the fairy tale characters lived in a place called the Enchanted Forest, which existed in a parallel universe.  An Evil Queen named Regina cast a curse to ensnare all her enemies and their kingdoms, steal their memories, and bring them into a world without magic.  She did this first for her own selfish reasons, and secondly for an older evil magician called Rumplestiltskin, who was seeking to find his lost son Baelfire.  The curse was broken and many adventures were had, but Regina and Rumple's selfish and self-serving natures haven't ever really changed.  They are connected to their enemies through family ties, largely through a boy named Henry, whom Regina raised in Storybrooke.  Henry is the son of Rumple's son Baelfire (called Neal in the world without magic) and Emma Swan, the daughter of Regina's enemies Snow White and Prince Charming.  Henry has brought all of them together time and again, hoping to help them make themselves better people, but in the end, some people just cannot be changed.




Six scraps of paper appear in six places across a small town in Maine, and six lives are shattered in an instant.  They don't know it yet, but the copies of a goodbye note they each hold are the seeds of a larger decimation than they have ever faced, or can yet fathom.

In his pawn shop, Mr. Gold carefully sets the note back down on the countertop on which he found it.  He clenches his hand around the head of his cane.  His free hand, shaking a little, moves up to cover his eyes.  In a flash, he lifts the cane and brings it down on the case before him, shattering the glass top down upon all the trinkets and gaudy things that have never really been his.  Nothing is ever really his.

In the town library, Belle's eyes go wide and she cannot even bring herself to finish reading the note.  She drops it and runs out of the building, but on the street, she feels stuck.  She cannot tell in what direction she wants to go.  Her lips quiver and her eyes flicker back and forth between extremely disappointed hurt and extremely unsurprised anger.  She pulls the wedding band off her finger and stares down at it in her palm.  After several breathless moments, she drops it in the street.

In the Sheriff's station, Emma Swan reads the note for a second and then third time, quickly scanning every line for some clue as to where her son might have actually gone.  The things the note tells her seem utterly unreal, and yet in this place she knows anything truly is possible.  She fears it is not a game, a joke, or a cruel lie; she fears the truth of her son's written words.  After all, she saw it appear before her, so she knows there is real magic tied up in the tale of his goodbye.  She shrugs into her jacket and bolts from the station, only taking a single moment to consider where she must go; there really is no question in her mind about where all of them are about to end up.

In the mayor's office, Regina drinks another glass of whiskey before finally allowing herself to pick up the note from her son.  She recognized his handwriting from several feet away when it appeared, but a sense of deep foreboding kept her fingers from lifting the words up to her face.  Now, she reads it all in a flash and then the page bursts into flame in her hands.  It incinerates instantly, and Regina disappears in a swirling cloud of purple smoke.

In the pawn shop, Mr. Gold is no longer holding the cane.  Belle has it in her hands, and she is screaming at him.  He isn't listening to her words; the expressions moving across her usually soft face are breaking his heart, and he cannot speak to defend himself.  There is no defense against her accusations, because she finally knows the full truth of him.  She finally understands that her love, and his love for her, will never be enough to change him.  He sees the spot on her finger where a wedding ring should be, and anger overtakes everything else.  Rumplestiltskin rips his cane out of his bride's hands.  She cowers back from him, though he doesn't raise the cane against her.  He turns his back on her just as a cloud of purple smoke brings Regina into the room behind Belle.

"Get out of my way," Regina says, magically flinging Belle against a case to the left.

"What?"  Rumple spits out the word as he turns, then begs, "Don't hurt her!"

"Why do you keep pretending like you care about anyone but yourself, Rumplestiltstkin?  You can't fool me any more than you can fool yourself.  I know you better than everyone left in this town, and I really shouldn't be surprised at all by what you've done this time."

"You wanted to kill her yourself, Your Magesty, or don't you remember that?"

"But I didn't.  I chose to let her live.  We all agreed on that, didn't we?  Didn't I deserve a say in her fate, if you were just going to ignore all of that?"

"What, dearie, did you want to thrust the knife into her chest yourself!  Is that what you're angry about now?"

"Of course not.  Because I wanted to, but more than that, I wanted to be better.  For Henry!"

"Fat lot of good that did," another voice breaks in.

Regina and Rumple, as well as Belle just getting her bearings again, turn to see Emma has come in the front door to join them.

"You got one too?" Belle asks as Emma helps her to her feet.

"Yeah.  I got one too."

"Why are you here?"  Regina spits her words at Emma over her shoulder, unwilling to turn fully away from her old mentor even to face the woman she considers to be an enemy again.  "Trying to find another way to screw me over?"

"Not everything is about you, Regina.  In fact, right now, none of this is about you.  It's about finding Henry.  Isn't that more important than your petty grudges?"

"You're wrong, Emma," another new voice chimes in.

Everyone turns to the front door - Mr. Gold moves to stand beside Regina, and she moves a few inches away, but will not cower as Belle did - as Snow and Charming come in.

"This is as much about Regina as all of us," Snow says.

"And it's as much her fault as the rest of us," Charming adds.

"Do we believe what it says?" Belle shouts, looking embarrassed for a moment when all their eyes turn on her.  Setting her lip, she goes on, "Maybe he just wanted to give us all a scare.  Henry could be somewhere here in Storybrooke, waiting to see what we'll do next.  This could just be a test.  And I'm afraid I already failed."

"Belle, my dear, you have every right to be angry with me," Mr. Gold croons, trying to step close to his wife, but is blocked by Emma.  "I never should have lied to you."

"To any of us," Regina says.

"You're right," Mr. Gold says, lowering his head, and Regina is actually surprised by his genuine regret.

"Can we save the happy family moments for after we put our family back together?" Snow snaps.  "My baby is safe with Granny right now, but my grandson is missing.  We can't just imagine it's a prank and try to ignore this for one second."

"No one's ignoring this," Charming says, clutching Snow's hand.

"If we believe it," Emma says, "then what are we supposed to do about it?  Isn't it already too late?"

Her resolve to control herself is strong, but a single tear escapes the corner of Emma's eye, and all of them see it travel down her cheek and drop onto her jacket.

"You have to go to him," Regina asserts.  "He asks you not to, but no matter what, he's still our child.  I raised him, but he came from you and Neal.  You can go to him, so you have to go to him.  Right now."

"She's right," Snow says, choking back a sob.

"I'll find him," Emma tells them as she moves for the door.  "I'll bring Henry home."

They watch her go.  For a moment, all their disputes are forgotten.  They feel a little hope; Emma has brought each of them hope in the past, whether through her own actions or the actions of the son she brought into the world, and the memories of those moments help them now.

***

Henry's goodbye note:

Emma, Regina, Snow, Charming, Rumple, Belle, et al…
I love you all.  I have to tell you that first, so you can understand I'm doing this for you as much as for myself.
I hate all of you almost as much as I love you.  It scares me what you're doing to me, because of what you always do to each other.
Belle, maybe it's not fair to lump you in with them, but you choose to love my grandfather time and again, so you're a part of this too.  He lied to you about the dagger he gave you.  He lied to all of us about Zelena.  He killed her, and he could only do that because he gave you a fake.
I don't know that I would have spared Zelena myself.  That's part of why I have to do this.
I wanted to know what I was really capable of.  I've seen enough magic to know the basics.  I made it up as I was going along, this little spell to see into my future.  Nothing concrete, of course, because it's always changing, but even the possibilities that unfurled before my eyes terrified me.  Terrified me more than anything any of you have done already.
If I stay in Storybrooke, I will become one of you, and you are all monsters.
I do love you.  That's why I have to be honest with you.
I saw your secrets wrapped up in the things I will do if I stay with you.  I saw what you have done, what you could do, what you would choose to do, and I can't be a party to any of this anymore.  I have to break away.
Afterward, I had to handle living a full day in your presence without letting on about what I'd seen.  One day was too much.  I knew by nightfall that I had to get away, and so, that's what I'm doing.
I've written a spell to escape.  I can't get away near as far as I'd like to in space, but I can escape just far enough away in time.  By the time you read this, I'll have already grown up, in this world, without you.
I'm going to go back in time.  The process will skew my memories.  I won't lose everything, but I won't believe much of what remains with me.  You'll be legends to me, wherever I end up.  I'll still be in America.  I'll still be me, pretty much.  But I'll have a chance to fix myself; be a normal boy, and maybe grow up to be a normal man.
I'm hoping I overshoot the era I think I'll end up in, so maybe I'll be really old or already dead when you come looking for me.  I don't think I can handle ever seeing any of you again.
Who am I kidding; I know only Emma can come after me anyway.
I was trying not to use this word, but Mom… Mom, don't come looking for me.  I don't want to break your heart twice.  Consider this a suicide note, won't you?  Just tell yourself I died, that it didn't work, that I killed myself for nothing.  I think that will be easier than coming after me and seeing the truth; that I was right and I had a better life without you.  I'm telling you that's what I want, that's what I believe in, but I don't want you to suffer seeing it.  And you will suffer if you see it.
Regina, you're still my Mom too, but… I can't let that stop me.  In fact, you're still the biggest reason I want to get away from Storybrooke.  Nothing's changed for me since I first went looking for Emma.  Nothing at all.
You all play at happy family and comrades in arms when other horrible things come knocking, but the second you all get too close and there STOPS being an outside enemy to fight together, you go after each other's throats again.
I can't watch it happen again.  Ever again.
I can't handle how much I hate you all for it.  The lies and grudges and petty arguments.  Especially the fighting over me!  I'm not a fucking possession; I'm a person.  None of you realize how you make me feel when you do this again and again.
None of you will ever be able to let go of the past, and I can't really say I blame you for it.  I've seen enough of the horrible things each of you have done in the name of the things you believed in.  This is my horrible thing.  You can't stop me.
It's already done.
I sacrificed my future to gain this chance, and it's a sacrifice I make all too happily.
You want to know what I saw?  I saw myself consumed by magic.  I saw myself become more powerful than anything that any of you have ever seen before, or could even imagine.  I saw myself bring more magic into this world than you could believe.  I saw myself changing this world to suit my liking.  I saw myself breaking Storybrooke free from obscurity and secrecy.  We spread out and all of us further changed this world, making it almost unrecognizable, and this world doesn't deserve that.
Ultimately, I saw myself as judge, jury, and executioner of my own family.  I won't let that happen.  I can't let myself become that kind of monster!
So I have to forget you now.  I have to forget what we've fought for together.  I have to let go of all of you, because I can never choose between any of you.
I love you all too much to let your petty disputes rule me.
And I hate you all too much to stand looking at you one day longer.
Goodbye.
Please, let me go.

- For the last time,
  Henry

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Should I Be Medicated?

I avoided doctors for years.  I paid for that by suffering through hyperglycemia earlier this year before discovering I am diabetic, and beginning treatment for that.  I paid for it in other ways in years past, too, but that's not going to be detailed here.

I worry that I'm never going to stop paying for it, mentally speaking.  I was diagnosed as a clinical depressive about ten or more years ago.  I was briefly on medication for this; I honestly don't remember how much it might have helped.  I know the whole prospect scared me enough that I quit taking the pills and simply never went back to see that psychiatrist/psychologist.  I want to say I was seeing a male psychologist, and had to consult once briefly with a female psychiatrist to get the anti-depressive prescription.  I only concretely remember two things from this period: one, that I was holding back from the psychologist because I was not yet out as gay; two, that I was afraid the medication would eventually "water down" my creative side, and that is entirely why I stopped taking it.

On the surface of my choice, anyway, that is why I did it.

I think I wanted to see how far the road of crazy I could go down before I just couldn't turn back anymore.  I wanted to flirt with absolute self-destruction, because that's what I do.

I only had to worry about myself, I thought.

This was years before I ever even considered the prospect of living a life WITH someone.

Now, these days, it isn't just me paying the price for my old choices.  My old, bad choices.  My mistakes now affect my partner as much as they affect me, and most days, it's like I get into this fog in my head where I just can't see that clearly at all.

I don't have paranoid flights of fancy that are immensely recognizable as delusion; instead, my brain sculpts perfectly possible little nuggets of paranoid nightmare for me to live in, and it's my partner who has to suffer through the accusations as well as my terrible rants and tantrums.  I never resort to physical violence against him, because I won't ever do that, but the emotional violence is damning enough.  I sometimes wonder if there's any hope of me stopping this.

And then I wake up and it's a new day and I don't worry about it so much anymore.  I figure, it's over; move on.

But how far can I move on when this thing is still inside me, just waiting around corners for its next opportunity to strike?

I've fetishized the idea that it is something akin to Dexter Morgan's Dark Passenger, though I did this long before I ever read Darkly Dreaming Dexter or watched the TV show; Dexter's Dark Passenger simply resonates with my own concept of what I am, and what I have in me.

But it's just me.  It's just a chemical imbalance in my brain; I understand that much.

When I'm in those moments where things turn, I feel like I have turned into something else, someone other than who I want to be and must be to accomplish my writing.

Would medication really change my creative side so much?  Is it a risk at all anymore?  Or should I just try harder to control this all by myself?

I don't know if I can let another doctor in.  I'm still going through enough minor turmoil dealing with figuring out the right way to treat my diabetes (it's an ongoing struggle, apparently).

I feel like I should just "man up," but of course that doesn't apply.  Depression and paranoia are sexless things, and man, can they really get in the way of better things.

They have been holding me back from some creative things, to be honest.  I've been working on my comic book series, but a little too slowly for my own liking.  The artist I've been corresponding with has been fantastic.  She has her own obligations and can only spare so much time for something that isn't paying her yet, but for that fact, she has turned out fantastic work so far and shown she is excited for even the prospect of this project getting picked up and being published.  So really, I'm just mad at myself that I haven't been finishing scripts ahead of even HAVING a schedule to worry about.

More significantly, I stopped working on the first drafts of Volumes Two and Three of my serial killer series.  I also have done nothing to find a way to hire an editor; at this point, if I'm going to stick to the release date I set for Volume One of The Killers Club, I just have to edit the damn thing myself.  I haven't started that final, REAL, deep editing phase yet, and I still can't afford to pay an editor.

Boo fucking hoo, right?  It could be worse!

I could be alone, homeless, jobless, and still unaware of my diabetes.

I have to focus on the good things that are still in my life, and the great things still to come!

How much longer can I remember them?

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hate: Evolution's Perpetual Stopgap

This is an opinion piece.  Take it with a grain of salt; I'm not a scientist, evolutionary biologist, or expert on anything.  I'm just a writer with an opinion.


(picture from pixabay.com)

Hate

Evolution's Perpetual Stopgap


Whether you are on the evolution or creation side of the ongoing debate, you probably understand that hate is part of the equation of our evolution as a civilization on this planet.  One group neighbors another; the two exist in relative peace or at least ignorance of each other until they start competing for the same resources, and then they develop an innate hatred of one another; usually, this would lead to war.  Why do we still repeat this pattern in the modern day?

The simple answer is there are simply too many people on this planet, and we aren't working toward a solution to that on a large scale.

As a science fiction writer, I see the larger scope of this problem.  Over time, resources on the planet continue to dwindle while an unchecked population (of the entire human species, NOT ANY PARTICULAR SUBSET THEREOF) continues to expand.  Material space diminishes.  Natural beauty is rendered unimportant to a consumer society, merely so it can be crushed and replaced with commercial space and for commercial gain, which only perpetuates the problem further, and faster.

Instead of focusing on an actual solution, we perpetuate hate.  We don't realize the ultimate goal of hate; the absolute destruction of one's enemies.  We vilify anyone we don't understand.  We demonize those we partially understand, but disagree with.  We let those we don't like suffer and spiral downward toward their own destruction.  We don't work toward a future for our unseen future generations anymore; we are caught in spirals of NOW NOW NOW.  What can I get now?  What can I have now?  Why don't I have this now?

Eventually, maybe our enemies will die out.  We'll just find new ones.  The problem continues.

On a large scale, unfortunately, this is currently a problem for our governments.  Gods help us all.

On a small scale, what can you do about this?  Subtract hate from your own life.  Teach your children, your friends, your customers/clients, your coworkers, and anyone you meet that hate is not the answer.  Meet hate with sympathy, empathy, and an attempt at honest understanding.  Learn the reasons behind that anger in others, where you can.  Don't hold onto your own anger.  Analyze it; take it apart and remind yourself that anger isn't going to get you anything.  Anger will only waste your time and perpetuate your own bad mood.  Wouldn't you rather be happy?  Wouldn't you rather people just be happy?

The more happiness and understanding we spread, the better chance we have as a species of uncovering an actual solution to our problems.

Hate was a stopgap solution to the ancient problem of resources competition; aren't we better than that now?  Don't we fancy ourselves as more evolved, more learned, and more creative than our ancestors?

Answer hate with something else.  Find what that thing is for yourself, and hand it out frequently.  Give it away, or if it's something you can make, hell, sell it.  Just spread it, as long as it brings joy to someone, even just yourself.  Contentment isn't so hard to find.  It's only hard to keep if you let it be so.

Give up hate.  Burn it up on more productive pursuits.  Use any remaining anger you have to fuel exercise, passion, fair debate, menial labor (at home if not at your job), or creative endeavors.

Live your life as if it is a dance viewed only by all the most appreciative, understanding, loving, giving, and caring people you have ever known or can imagine.  Make every move count, every day that you can.

There will be days where you forget this, or it simply seems impossible.  Analyze why things didn't work out.  Figure out how to change your reactions to maybe stop that happening again.

Hate is not the answer.  Hate can never be the answer again.

Make art or silence or love instead.

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Killers Club is coming (Volume One release date announcement)

The Killers Club
Volume One

The Accidental Killer

(Over 120,000 words; eleven chapters)

Chasing an escape from misery, Andrew will find himself going down a dark rabbit hole into an underworld he will never be able to escape.

Can anyone survive The Killers Club?

Release Date:
Monday, September 1st, 2014

***

I have been putting this part off for quite a while.

I'm a great procrastinator, which is something I continue to try to overcome.  Some things do seem to get better with age; other projects fall completely off the back of the stove and disappear into nothingness.  Occasionally, they come back from this state.  The Accidental Killer sat untouched for a very long time, and I've been happy to return to it recently with a little editing and finally starting working on the rest of the series.  As I work on Volume Two, I will explore options for getting Volume One edited by someone other than myself.  At present, I cannot afford an editor.  I may explore options for funding that, or simply teach myself to do a better job at editing this as if it isn't my own work.

Now, I have a deadline.  Now, there will be no more excuses.  Come what may, The Accidental Killer will be made ready to publish by September first of this year.

Perhaps I'll even move that date closer up to the present date.  We'll just see how things go with that.

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.

(and no, I never got around to singing/recording The Starnaut and his Ship.  Yet.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Starnaut and his Ship


The Starnaut and his Ship
(Copyright 2014 Erik J. Avalon)

To travel so far
I gave up my all
The stars, they did call
Yet you are my home

Expected none of
It, yet this is how
I found it to be
Yes, you are my home

Leave it all behind
Fly and you shall find
All that you could seek
Yet you are my home

A place uncertain
A world forgotten
A land unforeseen
Now you are my home

You are just a thing
They tried to tell me
Use, but do not love
Yet you are my home

It is such a strange
Thing to realize
How close can we be
But you are my home

Just a ship, but more
Always waiting for
Me, there you are, and
Yes, you are my home

No matter how far
We venture into
Space and beyond, al-
ways you are my home

Now I realize
Just how dear you are
I have lost the key
Are you still my home?

Lost and drifting 'lone
Crash and burn; stand; wait
See alien 'rises
You must be my home

Many years have I
Wandered lost; afraid
You I have not seen
Yet you are my home

My heart never left
Your warmth and your cold
Your steel and embrace
You will be my home

Here I'll die, waiting
Never again will I
Step into your hold
You are not my home

You are so much more
Than I can explain
Though apart, together
You're more than my home

No computer, they
Said would ever be
Enough for the trip
So they took my home

To be, and inside
Nestled spirit of
The person I loved
And made you my home

Sent me deep into space
With your voice, disem-
bodied; such a waste
Just to make a home

Was it worth it? How
Can I ever decide
Was it all for naught?
Now without my home

Was it right, what I
Have done; set you free
To roam all the stars
Forever alone

I hope you forget
As the eons roll by
That you ever knew
Me; please, find a home

So here I will rest
Lay my bones to rot
Watch the skies roll by
You are not my home


(images from pixabay.com)

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How Net Neutrality Changed (Saved) My Life

About six years ago, give or take, my mouth cost me my job.  I have a habit of not always thinking enough about the things I say before I say them, and this particular time, I was working for a small business where that could get me fired.  I didn't say anything particularly nasty or untrue, but the way I said it was unfair, and I understand why I was fired.  That's not the point; just the beginning.

For several months to a year, I worked through a temp service where you came in extra early, got in line, waited for them to call your name, and hoped for work.  You got paid that day for work that day.  It was never much.  It was barely enough to get by.  During this time, I let my brother and his friend move into my apartment with me.

Late in this year, I moved across town for a personal experiment, to see if I could uproot myself completely and move on.  It didn't work out.  During this time, I expected my brother and his friend to keep up on the bills at my apartment; they weren't able to.

When I came back early the next year, it was to an eviction notice.

Enter: the man who saved my life.  But it wasn't that simple.

The Internet saved my life as much as Kurt ever did.

I've always had trouble interacting with people in public or social situations, so largely, my social life has been online.  I barely even had 'Net access at the time, but I was a member of a site called Gay.com, which is vastly different now than it was then, but that's besides the point.  I went into the Cincinnati chatroom on Gay.com with no hope.  I was jobless and soon to be homeless, so I figured, what the hell; just do whatever I want, right?  That involved meeting a relative stranger, and not to go out on a date.  I had Kurt over to my apartment.  Neither of us expected anything more than it was.  Within a week, I was living with him and his roommates at that time, and we've been together ever since.

Without net neutrality, I wouldn't have had access to that website, and I never would have met Kurt.  I shudder to think what, where, or who I would be without that crucial series of circumstances that led Kurt and I to one another.  I thank the universe every day for that man in my life, and we almost never met at all.

Net neutrality is essential to the Internet remaining the free domain it has always been, free to express and interact and live as the people we deserve to be, but maybe can't always be in the lives we find ourselves in, in the real world.

The Internet opens the world up; losing net neutrality will shut it back down again.

Don't let that happen.

***

Live excellently.  Forgive freely.  Admit your faults.  Embrace weirdness.  Hate no one.