Guest Writer 1

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So we promised guest writers and we have started! Welcome Imani! Our first guest writer!

Here’s a brief write up from our special guest:

Mostly Imani just thinks she’s awesome. She has a mostly boring life however that says otherwise but everyone’s got to have dreams. Imani in turn has a cat, a five year plan, student loans out the wazoo and a fondness for 2nd person fiction. She can be found here on twitter (displaying her not so hidden love of Calvin & Hobbes or here at the blog she never updates because her life really isn’t as awesome as she likes to tell people it is.

Thanks for joining us this week, Imani!

Game(Rules), Part 1

guesticonYou play this game with yourself. It’s not a fun game – and to be fair it’s less of a game and more of a set of rules but really who’s to stop you from calling it a game in the comforts of your own head? This is a game you’re long since familiar with. Each day is a new day of play. Your game is a solitary one but then again most of your life is. You’d say you prefer it that way but that’s a lie and you do your level best not to lie to yourself, you lie to too many other people about too many other things.

 

You keep the rules of your game (your life) simple less you forget them; trying to remember things is part of the game as well. Level one goes like this (rule one:) If you get up without hitting the snooze you can eat whatever you like for breakfast, no one will judge you. Rewards are key to success, keep all rewards equal to in value to the task accomplished.

 

Level two (Rule two:) Game face must be worn from the second you step foot out the door till the second you return at the end of the day. You don’t want anyone to know that what you’re saying on the outside doesn’t match what you’re thinking on the inside. When you were younger – naive and foolish and oh so much younger – this was a hard and you lost this level a lot (broke this rule a lot). It was even harder back before when you lived with other people the space that made up “safe space” and “every place else” was a lot smaller. There was less down time, you slipped a lot, gave away things, said little things you thought were okay that were definitely Not Good. Older you, current you, you don’t live with anyone, you’ll never make that mistake again. A Good Day earns you…well this earns you nothing but the lack of stress and in turn if you fail the stress to be Better is it’s own punishment.

 

Level three (Rule three:) write everything down. Where you’ve been, who you saw, what you’ve told them, if you ate today, what you ate today, did you wear that shirt this week. Everything because details are important and getting tripped up because you can’t remember the details would be the most shameful way to get caught. And getting caught forgetting isn’t something you ever want to image the ramifications of. If you go the day without messing up, without having to confer with your notes in an obvious way – because what would be the point of keeping notes if you didn’t look at them? – you gpet to go home and do nothing. Absolutely nothing and it is the most glorious thing to do, your most favorite thing to do. If you fail however the punishment is to put yourself through your paces. To go through your notes and study, everything until you know it so well you dream it.

 

Your game is simple and it keeps your life uncomplicated and you protected. You exist within the parameters of your game and you find great comfort in knowing that these are things you’ve done and can continue to do.

 

Once back a long long time ago you tried to think of a way for your game to end. You tried slowly once to ease out of it, to do what other people seemed to do but it left you feeling….wrong. Too many comments were made, about your pyshical state of being, your mental state of awareness and really just all the things you want people not to look to hard and long at.

Excuse Me, Princess, Part 1

kellyiconThe church bell rang in great, thundering tones, the bellows of a giant echoing across the city. The whole capitol was in a frenzy; along with the church bells belting out that ungodly racket, there were the shouts and curses of the city guards, the barking of excited dogs, and the clattering of hooves and cart wheels against the stone streets. Winona imagined the city – built into the side of a hill and crowned by a castle built of stone so white to this day the people swore it was built with magic – as a great anthill, all its workers running around in a panic at the behest of its queen.

Every single one of them was looking for her.

To be more specific, they were looking for what she had just stolen. The princess sat obediently on the horse, hand tied to the reigns and dressed for all the world as a simple peasant’s daughter. Winona led them down the dirt path leading away from the capitol, trying not to smile at her latest success. God, she was good. It would take the guards ages to search the city and realize the princess was long gone. By the time they had realized the princess was gone, Winona and the princess were already on their way to the next town.

“You’re a villain,” the princess sniffed. She had the most miserable expression on her face, and she had looked that way ever since her last escape attempt. She had slipped off the horse and ran to a traveling merchant ahead of them, begging him to believe she was the princess. Winona had simply apologized to the man for her ‘younger sister’s’ wild imagination, and explained that the girl was just a tad touched in the head. He had smiled at them, handed the princess a bright red apple, tipped his hat and went on his way. Winona made sure the girl was tied tight to the reigns from then on.

“Guilty as charged,” Winona said.

The princess apparently didn’t know how to respond to such a confession of Winona’s moral failures. They traveled in silence for the next mile, where they came upon a fork in the road. Winona took them off the main Royal Highway and onto the little dirt road that would lead them to one of the smaller villages far from the capitol. They were making good time, and less than two days away from their destination.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Money.”

“For such a reason you’d kidnap me? Your queen’s daughter?”

“Your mom’s no queen of mine, princess.”

“I have a name! It’s Rosa!”

“You can call yourself Sweet Pea for all I care,” Winona said.

“What’s your name?”

Winona suddenly had a vision of the next twenty miles being nothing but a game of Twenty Questions with an indignant fourteen-year-old.

“You can’t be stupid enough to think I’d tell you that.” The princess huffed, and probably would have crossed her arms if she could have. Winona wondered what it must be like living in a castle, filthy rich and with a small army of servants catering to her every will. Well, after this job, Winona would have the money and the servants, too. Two out of three wasn’t bad.

“What will happen to me?”

Winona glanced behind her. The girl’s face had fallen, all haughtiness forgotten.

“I hand you off to my employer, he pays me, he sends a ransom note to your dear mama, your mama pays it, and we all go home happy and filthy rich.”

“Do you promise?”

“Promise what?”

“Promise me I’ll be okay?”

Winona didn’t glance back this time. Instead, she kept her eyes focused on the road.

“Yes, I promise.”

* * *

The inn wasn’t pretty, or spacious, or even particularly clean. There was one bed and one thin, ratty blanket, and Winona could hear the wind whistling through gaps in the walls.

“You can’t expect me to sleep there,” Rosa said. She looked at the bed like one would regard a mangy, rabid mutt.

“Either that or the floor,” Winona said. She forced off her boots with her foot and crashed onto the bed. “Here, you can even have the blanket. Just remember, if you try to escape, that these roads are full of bandits who’d love to get their hands on a pretty girl like you.”

Rosa slipped into bed a few minutes later, and Winona blew out their bedside candle. Winona didn’t stay awake long enough to know if the girl hard fallen asleep; when she had finally drifted off, Rosa’s breathing was still curled into a tight little ball and her breathing was harsh and shallow. Was she crying? Winona dismissed the thought. The girl would be fine; hell, she’d be back home and under her down-feather comforters in less than a week.

“Help!”

Winona started awake to find a knife held against her throat. A man – or woman, she couldn’t tell in the darkness – stood over her, holding the knife, while someone else pulled Rosa toward the window.

“Help me! Please! You promised!”

Simulation 14, Part 1

raboicons

I miss him.”

* * *

The bowl shatters across the wall and sends porcelain shards and noodles in a cascade against the tile. Each piece, as it flies away and begins falling to the floor disintegrates into nothingness as it gets further from Jeanette, as if it is falling away into pixels. She doesn’t see that though, or notice it. It’s not a part of the memory; it’s part of what’s left of it.

“How could you fuck her? How could you do that to me?”

He’s looking at her from across the counter, his eyes full of a rage as vivid as the one she feels. She knows there will be hell to pay for the broken bowl but the time for that is later. She also knows that if she doesn’t express her anger somehow now there will be much more than broken bowls tomorrow.

“It just happened. You were gone and–”

Her hands fly from the counter where she’d rested them and she pulls her eyes away from him to look out the window behind her. There is no landscape outside but her eyes don’t tell her that, only that this is what she sees. A featureless landscape of a color that is less than white and more than nothing.

“I was gone for a week! While I was telling my mother how much I cared about you, you were fucking her! You were inside her and I was gushing over how in love we are. How is that okay?”

“Look, I know. It’s not okay but you have to understand.”

She looks at him then and she sees that he’s crying. She sees that his knuckles are white against the pale brown counter as he clutches the edge and she’s no longer sure who carries more rage or desperation.

She reaches across the counter to touch his fingers.

* * *

His hand is like a white hot iron across her face and as her head cocks sideways she can feel the imprint of each fingertip across her cheek and know that there will be an outline there tomorrow. The skin stings and burns where his hand has left her face but the pain of the second slap is far worse.

“Baby!”

The words are more squeak than a voice as they come out but they’re drowned out by the smack of his palm on her cheek again. She can feel him pulsing inside her with each contact and each searing spasm means she can feel herself contract around him.

“That’s too hard. Please. . .”

She presses her knees to his sides as hard as she can as she rides him and starts to squirm from the pain. The tear of her bottom lip leaves a streak of red across his palm and she sees the blood as his hands reach to her hips and pull her down harder on him, lifting her and bouncing her body off of him.

“No.”

And then she’s on her back and he’s holding her down. His giant hand is wrapped around her wrists above her head and his body is on top of her, pushing against her. His other hand wraps around her neck and starts to squeeze as he pounds into her, pushing her head against the wall as she chokes under his fingers.

* * *

Each drop of blood that falls from his fingers seems to be accompanied by a tear falling from his eyes but not a single drop of fluid touches the ground, instead seeming to disappear. Each splotch, red or clear, never forms on her dress or on the floor but Jeanette neither notices it or sees it. That’s not part of the memory. It’s part of what is left of it.

“Baby, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I made you so angry.”

“My hand. . .”

His hand is a mangled mess and around them on the floor she can see the shards of the mirror. Small slivers are stuck in his knuckles and she turns his hand over in her own, examining it. The wounds are shallow and it doesn’t seem broken.

“I’m so sorry baby, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t mean to do it. . .”

She wraps her arms around him and gently pulls his injured hand behind her as she does. His body is wider than her own but she manages to surround him and his head falls against her shoulder and begins to weep.

Each of his tears soak into the sleeve of her top accompanied by her voice.

“It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.

* * *

How can you say that? After he hurt you so much.”

But that’s is. When he hurt me was the only time I felt real.”

. . . Terminate Simulation 14 . . .

Bundts and Bolts, Part 1

bernicons            Bundts and Bolts is the name of the bakery downtown that’s been getting a lot of hype lately. It almost went out of business not two years ago, back when it was known as No Bundts About It when some cyber chick freaked out when she found an actual lug nut in the cupcake. Everyone else found it to be hilarious but the cyber community freaked the fuck out. The owners almost went bankrupt with the legal fees. Yet, somehow, they pulled out of that shitstorm and were now the talk of the town. People line up around the block for an over-priced mini cupcake. They renamed the place to the aforementioned establishment as a not-so-subtle screw you to the cybers that wanted the place shut down.

So why do I even care, you ask? Why am I trying to break into the kitchen at Bundts and Bolts? I need a small cake for my little sister’s birthday. It’s already 4pm and there’s no way I’d get something if I went to the back of the line now. Even then you’re more likely to see me lick a pastor’s boot than see me pay over $60 for cake. I told Clare that I could get her a much bigger cake from the corner store and she could eat at least twice as much but I knew what she was thinking. She passes the bakery everyday on her way to school and all her classmates talk about having been there for a home-made, old fashioned, artisan crafted-bullshit, confectionary treat, everyone but her. I can’t afford to get Clare much, I can barely afford the studio we live in, but I can snag a cake for her. It’s what I do best after all. Yeah, okay, people don’t like thieves, but if that bitch with the moped wanted to keep the damned thing, she should have tried harder.

Across the street from Bunts and Bolts I see a group of cybers sneering at the place. One of them’s got a robo third eye embedded into the middle of her forehead with e blinking bindi  between her eyes. Flannel shirts, fake flowers braided into their hair and beards, listening to music from a dubstep group you know you’ve never heard a song from. All three of the lady’s eyes stare me down as I walk into the back alley behind them. I swear, if Clare ever comes home asking for some kind of cyber augmentation I will personally move us out into the country and get us as off the grid as we can get… okay not really. No one lives in the sticks but new-age hippies with gardens for front yards who then complain if someone like me takes an eggplant…

Out of sight, out of mind. I climb up the fire escape to get a lay of the land as I continue across the power lines toward Bolts, it’s cool, nobody ever looks up anymore so nobody even sees me. At a glance, the place looks pretty under-secured but at a closer look… it’s exactly like. I’m really surprised actually, you’d think that they’d have this place locked up a little tighter. A lot of people say it’s the bakery’s new lead baker that’s so masterfully brought this place back up into the public eye, a baker that doesn’t like the public eye and thus has never had an interview. What? Has nobody ever even tried to break in? I land just outside on the docking bay where I guess they must unload all their flour and sugar and whatnot. They’ve got a combination lock- a combination lock. I’m insulted. My laser bolt cuts make quick work of it and I manage to lift the door just enough as to not make so much noise and wiggle my way in.

I hear people in the front room, trying to haggle the price of an almost day-old cannoli but it’s surprisingly quite back here. I mean, I know that it’s close to closing time but wouldn’t some people be runnin’ about trying to get their last orders filled? I shrug and continue on. In and out with the cake, that’s all I need. Turns out that the kitchen one door down from the loading bay. There’s someone in there for sure, I can hear them humming, so I open the door just a crack to get a peek and see what I’m up against.

Icing squirts out of two of its fingers, creating two separate rings of  decoration on the outer lip and middle of the cake. It does this without even turning the cake on a lazy susan because its elbow just turns in the socket with such automated swiftness I almost missed it. When it’s done it spreads its fingers out so that a thin lining of metal can connect the fingers together forming a kind of spatula to smooth out the frosting on the sides. Its face is a black screen with big, yellow, digitized eyes inspecting its work closely. Then a small smile forms on the screen below the eyes. Its happy with its creation.

My mouth falls open. A robot is the lead baker? I must be leaning against the door to much because it opens just a little more and the fucking thing squeaks. The robot turns its head toward me with a surprised look on its digital face.

“Can UB help you, human?” it asks.