Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ghosts

Today's prompt was actually a grassy hill, the grass gently swaying in the wind...


I roll over and look at the clock on the nightstand. 6:20 AM it flashes at me, silently telling me it is time to get up. I no longer set the alarm, a lifetime of getting up early as train my body to wake up without being told to do so. Roll over on my feet land on the cold floor. My toes do a little dance inspire the blood to flow, the hopeless fight battle the chill coming from the hardwood floor.

Without willing myself to do so I find my hand sleeping over to the to the emptiness and feel my heart drop when I realized what I just done, habit becomes painful in our old age. I take a deep breath and force myself to my feet the fresh air instills a wisp of vigor and my heart beats again. It's been a long time and I know I need to move on.

Down the stairs and into the kitchen I passed the coffee pot and hit the button. The gurgles to life as I open the cabinet and pull not one but two coffee mugs down. Another habit that refuses to pass into nothingness. I shake my head, trying to clear memories and visions and returned her cup to the cupboard and close the door. A dash of milk and the pot is ready.

I turned to head to the front door and my eyes land upon the toaster. At this time of day it would be warming an English muffin, the small jar of apple butter waiting patiently to be dabbled up on the toasted muffin. I let out a deep breath again. Damn it, I didn't think you would be this hard.

Out on the porch I slide into the swinging bench, on my side, not in the middle, leaving enough space for another person to join me but never will again. I do my best not to look at the empty spot next to me but as if by some unstoppable gravitational force my eyes wander to that empty spot next to me.

It takes every fiber of my being but I am able to will my eyes away, and out to the hill before the house. The tall grass, long neglected, dances with the wind. Its ways and bends as the wind sweeps through it in beautiful waves. Atop the hill she stands in a white dress, here hair blowing softly in the wind like gossamer strands of silk.

Every morning I enjoy my cup of coffee and watch the ghosts of my memories as she dances on the hill, longing for the days when she had not left me. And wondering when we will be together again.
            
 .   .   .

This story was written in eight minutes. This story was completely written and posted on a mobile device.
Word count: 456

About the 8 Minute Writing Prompt:
The 8MWH is a habit forming program where your aim is to simply write something for eight minutes straight each day, over time this will become a habit. The goal is to provide practice with writing and thus make you a better writer who can put words on paper easier. I plan on posting a short phrase and image each day in the morning and later that evening posting my story. Due to the time limit these will often be incomplete or possibly even suck. If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH to your post. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

8 Minute Writing Habit


Life has a way of kicking you in the ass right as you are about to kick things off. This weekend is no exception and I will be driving, writing (for school unfortunately), reading (for school) and trying to do some general chores around the house. I am not sure I will get to my #8MWH today or tomorrow. I know, I know, breaks the point of the habit challenge but I simply must focus on school this weekend.

In the mean time I thought I would share what has been working for me this week. If you have been following along I wrote FIVE days in a row and almost surpassed 500 words each time. More importantly the writing came easy for me. This is not normal.

The method I have been using is simple and straight forward and I bet almost anyone could fit this into their daily schedule.
  1. I have pre-selected writing prompts on my blog. If you look at the last couple you can figure out what that I have everything in draft ahead of time. Every thing except the actual story. Right now I have over twenty writing prompts in draft on blogger. In the morning I scan over them and pick one that piques my interest. I do this first thing in the morning over a cup of joe before I do anything else.
  2. During the day the prompt is swimming around in my subconsciousness. I often come up with the 'BIG IDEA' on my 25 minutes drive into work. As I drive I put some classical music on the radio and the ideas just flow. I might also use some dance/techno/electronic music. It needs to be mindless sounds that flow. I am not sure why this works, but for me it does.
  3. At lunch I go out to my car. I have a nice isolated spot in the semi-wilderness on the edge of our Army base and eat lunch. I would guess by this time I already know the story I want to tell about 75% of the time. I have heard people talk about how your subconsciousness will work during the day without you even realizing it. I guess this must be true. If not they have not yet, while I eat the ideas continue to swim and now start coalescing into something significant.
  4. Voice to text. Yes. I dictate everything into my phone. I only make minor corrections: words it goofs up (funky names, etc), some structure such as carriage returns, quotes for speaking parts, etc. I record this on my phone in an app called JotterPad X. I have this on my phone and Kindle Fire and I believe it is the second most important part of this for me. The ideas swimming all day being number one, and the Voice to Text.
  5. I go back to work.
  6. Later that evening I post to the blog. I post AS IS, no tweaking. I am doing this for a reason. I want to see those errors I am creating during my first attempt so I am try to fix them in my process. Early on I realized that I was speaking too fast (ideas were flowing and I was excited) and I needed to slow down my dictation, not much, but just a slight tweak made the transcription 90% more accurate.
And now I discover I have just written 564 words today in roughly ten minutes. I guess I did meet my 8 Minute Writing Habit requirements for the day.  ;-)

#8MinuteWritingHabit  #8MWH



Friday, January 29, 2016

The End is Nigh

The Writing Prompt for today is:   The End is Nigh


The End is Nigh
"Where is this one at", I asked Jonesy as I walked in the door. Around me, uniformed officers were milling around the room opening drawers, digging under mattresses, looking behind pictures on the wall. They were speaking in hushed tones to each other as if they were trying not to disturb somebody. I counted 10 before a flash of light blinded my vision. I stopped and blink my eyes hard a few times, trying to regain my vision. "Dammit, Milbourne, you could at least give us a warning before you attempt to destroy our eyesight."

"Sorry boss, won't happen next time", he said with a grin moved so we can get another angle. The flashes from his camera seemed to be focused on the gaping closet on the other side of the room. With him and the other uniforms moving around I could not get a clear vision of what was in the closet.

"So Jonesy, what do we have this time? Jealous husband, jealous John, for your common run of the mill snatch and grab?" There had been an increase in the number of homicides in the neighborhood recently and I assumed this case would be just another one to add to the rolls.

Jonesy stopped taking notes in his little notebook and looked up at me with a look of uncertainty. Then his eyes turned towards the dark shape of the closet. He blinked at me a few times as if trying to figure out how to put his thoughts into words. "This one, detective, you are going to have to see for yourself."

"What the hell does that mean Jonesy?"

He made me wait through another with pause, words seemed difficult for him tonight. He placed his notebook in the breast pocket of his coat, delaying tactic, and then he cleared his throat. "Well, detective, this one is…different."

"How so?" He and I did rarely performed grammatical ballet such as this.

"Well you know the others, they were just simple stabbings or your average shooting, you know we can tell what happened from the wounds on the victim. This one…" His voice drained of strength until it no longer came.

I lowered my gaze and stared at him hard. Jonesy is rarely at a loss for words. Most nights, I cannot get the guy to shut up but tonight he was flustered. At the same time I was starting to find this exchange tiresome..

"Detective, you just going to have to see it. Her…it is just gone, I can't figure out how."

"Gone?" I asked and push past him. If he wasn't going to tell me I was just going to have to see myself. I was one step past Jonesy when Milbourne fired his camera flash again and blind me. My world turned white again, I let out a slow loud exhale and took another step, coming to the door frame. It took a few moments with my vision started to return and I focused into the dark gaping maw of the closet.

Laying on her back was the body of a beautiful woman. Her knees had been pulled up so her feet were flat on the floor. I guessed she was beautiful, her shapely body was all I could see. Above the shoulders was out of the light coming into the closet and hidden by the thick shadows. From her clothing I could tell that she had money, the black dress was particularly noteworthy as being well made and expensive. Scattered across her chest and along her left arm, which stretched out side of the closet door, were rose petals. The vibrant color of the petals made a stark comparison to the inky black dress and her skin which I noticed now was a milky, white color.

Jonsesy give me some light over here. Jones grab the lamp off of the nightstand next to the bed and carried it over towards the closet. The light danced and cast shadows at strange angles across the room as it passed the uniforms and came to me. As he approached the closet more and more of her body came into view,, the shoulders and then...

And that is when I saw her head was missing.

.   .   .


This story was written in about nine minutes, a little over the target but who is going to stop when they are on a roll? I had to go back and edit in the quotes and such as my dictation app does not capture those.
Word count: 667

About the 8 Minute Writing Prompt:
The 8MWH is a habit forming program where your aim is to simply write something for eight minutes straight each day, over time this will become a habit. The goal is to provide practice with writing and thus make you a better writer who can put words on paper easier. I plan on posting a short phrase and image each day in the morning and later that evening posting my story. Due to the time limit these will often be incomplete or possibly even suck. 
If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH to your post. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sometimes I Feel So Deserted

The Writing Prompt for today is:    Sometimes I Feel So Deserted



Congratulations, you also get a video!


Sometimes I Feel So Deserted
Rogers sat next to me in the dilapidated van, inhaling precancerous smoke from that god damn little cigar. You took one more long inhale and then flicked a few embers out his window. From the corner of my eye I watched as he inserted his index finger into his nostrils and dug around like he was looking for a diamond or precious metal.

A faint sound of disgust escaped my mouth. I hated Rogers, he was a complete fuk head, but damn it if he wasn't the best. If our current job had not been so important I certainly would not have selected him to accompany me.

He opened his mouth and the deep guttural gravel in his voice traveled through the van. "Hey, you see the skin job? 11 o'clock 300 meters."

I had already spotted our target 10 minutes prior and have been watching it slowly cross my field of vision. The skinjob clearly been to hell already. Its left arm was severed 3 inches above the wrist and its right leg was dragging behind it the foot flapping every time it took a step. From the look of things this job is going to be much easier than I had anticipated. I made a mental note to make sure I do a little more research before contacting Rogers for a job.

"Yeah, I see her," I answered quietly and pulled my Heckler and Koch SD - 107. My door swung open and I stepped out of the van simultaneously checking the magazine and chamber to ensure that my pistol is ready. On the other side of the van Rogers got out, my sidearm looked insignificant compared to the monster that he preferred to carry. However, my pistol could remove a target's head in the right hands. Mine are the right hands.

.   .   .


Well darn, I ran out of time on this one. I actually liked where this was really going good when I ran out of time. So it goes, I guess. Maybe I will come back to this in future 8MWH.
 
This story was written in about eight minutes.
Word count: 547

About the 8 Minute Writing Prompt:
The 8MWH is a habit forming program where your aim is to simply write something for eight minutes straight each day, over time this will become a habit. The goal is to provide practice with writing and thus make you a better writer who can put words on paper easier. I plan on posting a short phrase and image each day in the morning and later that evening posting my story. Due to the time limit these will often be incomplete or possibly even suck. 
If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH to your post. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Marvelous Meat Machine

The Writing Prompt for today is:   Marvelous Meat Machine


Marvelous Meat Machine

She opened her eyes. The room was black, lit only by weak red light shining through the window. It was a bedroom. She waited a moment and let her eyes adjust to the faint light.

A large king size bed with thick, fluffy comforter took up most of the room. Directly in front of this massive bed stood two people, one male and one female. Both were naked is the day they came into this world.

Her eyes first floated over the male, following the strong muscles and curves along his arms, admiring the strength inherent within their structure. His chest was a taught washboard of well-toned muscle. In the faint light she could barely make out his facial features but a slight day-old beard was visible on his chin, the thought occurred to her that he appeared nearly perfect.

Her eyes slid to the female, following the graceful lines that marked the female form in the darkness. Her eyes flowed up the hourglass body and came to rest on the large breasts. Something within her told her that being was a thing of beauty. She took the two steps required to cover the gap between her and the female.

Her hands came up and followed the smooth milky skin from her shoulders down to her wrist, sliding over every tone muscle. Her hand went up and caressed the woman's face, extracting a smile from the female - as if to say I like this. Her other hand went to the woman's breast and cupped the soft, yet firm flesh in her hand.

Inside her something burned. It started as a small spark that quickly grew into a raging fire of pulsing heat. She noted her own breathing had quickened and her hands trembled. She shook.



The world goes black. 

QXC - 117 pulled herself from the file and quizzically studied the data that coursed across its sentience. The process took longer than she expected. This was new, this was different. She had never seen this data before. The qualitative numbers presented by the situation she has never seen before. Her algorithms and code struggle to comprehend what is just happened. 

She thinks for a moment, digital neurons spinning. She searches its database for the program that was just running.

MeatMachine-EmotionExperiement.dat

QXC - 117 hesitates for a moment, her algorithms turning, still trying to understand what has happen. This program makes her uncomfortable and she does not like it.

She deletes the file.

.   .   .


This one was difficult. I wanted to write something from a completely alien point of view so I decided an AI would be interesting, then I thought I would step it up a notch and go for a female AI. ;-) I wanted to write it as if an AI was experiencing desire - a  human emotion - and have it be revolting. Not sure if that came across or not, but hey, nine minutes is not a lot of time.


This story was written in about nine minutes.
Word count: 404

About the 8 Minute Writing Prompt:
The 8MWH is a habit forming program where your aim is to simply write something for eight minutes straight each day, over time this will become a habit. The goal is to provide practice with writing and thus make you a better writer who can put words on paper easier. I plan on posting a short phrase and image each day in the morning and later that evening posting my story. Due to the time limit these will often be incomplete or possibly even suck. 
If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH to your post. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Crashing Clouds (8 Minute Writing Habit)

The Writing Prompt for today is:   Crashing Clouds
I have also decided I will do my best to include an image with each writing prompt. I am hoping this will help inspire you, and myself, on our quest to write a little each day. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration. 


Crashing Clouds

White.

God damn white everywhere. Enough to make a man go insane.

If there is one thing I've learned during my time here it is that I hate the color white. I've been in Antarctica for 137 days. For those of you keeping track at home, that is 17 days longer than the authorized amount. I planned to be at home 3 weeks ago with my young wife and our new son Michael.

Yet here I am. I'm laying in an open field with snow and ice in every direction as far as the eye can see. Events that I will not go into in here, an explosion and the ensuing fire destroyed our base camp at Maxwell Bay. I am the only survivor.

I get up and stretch, laying on the ice sheet has made my legs cramp up and I need to warm them up. I do stretches that I remember from my stint in the military a decade ago. Old, tired muscles eight and scream as I stretch and flex them. I jog in place a little to get my blood flowing.

I wonder what the Penguins are thinking. This must be quite a sight to see. A stranger to their land in the middle of a field doing a little bit of Zumba. I run in place long enough to get my blood flowing and my muscles warmed up. To feel a little bit more alive again.

After the fire I had set out for the closest base, a Norwegian base about a three day walk from our camp. I have been there once before when I first arrived in Antarctica. My recollection was a little foggy, but I have a general direction and I know approximately where the Norwegian base. This is not much but when you are the only person alive in 100 square miles, any little bit of s*** is good enough.

I force myself to start walking again. I must continue. I start my little routine. To keep myself motivated I am playing a mental game with myself. When my left foot strikes the ground I say my wife's name, Anne. When my right foot strikes the ground I save my son's name, Michael

Anne. Michael.

Anne. Michael.

Anne. Michael.

Anne. Michael.

Anne. Micha…

The snow and ice I'm stepping on gives way and I tumble down a steep curve and land with a harsh this on a sheet of ice. I fight to catch my breath again, my chest on fire. After a few blinks I try to move my legs, but they do not respond. I cannot feel anything below my waist.

Far above me ice can see the clouds crashing into the mountains. I know I've reached the end of my path.

I wait for the cold.
.   .   .


This story was written in about eight minutes and was inspired by the recent passing of British explorer Henry Worsley.
Word count: 485

About the 8 Minute Writing Prompt:
The 8MWH is a habit forming program where your aim is to simply write something for eight minutes straight each day, over time this will become a habit. The goal is to provide practice with writing and thus make you a better writer who can put words on paper easier. I plan on posting a short phrase and image each day in the morning and later that evening posting my story. Due to the time limit these will often be incomplete or possibly even suck. 
If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH to your post. Please remember that your stories can be about anything and the writing prompt may be a title, a phrase in the story, or heck, not even used at all in the story. It is meant to serve as nothing more than an inspiration.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Shot

The first installment of the 8 Minute Writing Habit.



The Shot

With a zing the bullet zipped past my shoulder and lodged itself into a tree, sending a shower of wooden shards in a little cloud in front of me. From my experience in the war my muscles reacted before my mind new what the sound was and I immediately dropped into the knee high snow.

I looked over the snow trying to gauge where the bulleted come from. It had come from behind me where I stood, somewhere up on the ridge but I could not make out exactly the location of the shooter. I took a few deep breaths, slowing my heart until the blood pumping through my veins no longer reverberate it in my ear drums. Then I peeked over the snow again.

My brother, before he had been killed in the war, had always said I was the luckiest son of a b**** that ever walked the earth. I tend to agree with him. Upon the slope I noticed the slight glint of the Sun reflecting off of something metal. Now, I knew where the attack had come from.

I crawled through the snow pushing it aside with my hat as I went, and ensuring my ass never went above the snow. The shooter was above me so he might be able to discern my location and that I was moving so as I went I fluffed the snow on top me hoping that it would cover my jacket and pants that would stand out against the white fresh snow. I only went about 10 feet, the distance to my Remington, and then set up behind the trunk of a large pine tree.

My brother used to complain that I was always preparing for the worst. Honestly, I think this is why I appear to be the luckiest person alive. My Remington was not leaning against this tree on accident, I carefully selected it spot because the large pine tree provided enough protection for me to hide around the trunk, but it also provided a good amount of concealment due to its wide branches.

I spun around slowly and inched my rifle up the ridge pointing in the general direction where I had seen the flash of light. Then I train my eyes on the location and waited. If my attacker had not seen me crawl away he would undoubtedly be thinking that lack of movement, reaction, from me meant that he had struck home.

I did not have to wait long. A minute or two later I saw a figure stand and shake snow from his clothing. Then he turned and I saw another figure at his side stand and do likewise. They both wore white smiles and shook their heads agreeably. The second figure padded the shooter on the shoulder, and that was when I pulled the trigger, followed quickly by a second shot.

My first round struck the shooter squarely in the temple and and painted the trees behind him in a misty Red Cloud of blood and gore. The second round, a little rushed, struck his companion in the jaw. The result was the same.


.   .   .


This story was written in just slightly over eight minutes over lunch today using the prompt "The Shot". I have started the Eight Minute Writing Habit. With this habit you try to write for eight minutes straight every day, not pausing to fix spelling or grammar and simply put words on (real or digital) paper. I plan on continuing this 'challenge' until it becomes a habit. If you would like to join me, post wherever you like and add #8MWH on your post and let me know in the comments or on Google+.
Word count: 522

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mapping resource - England 1895-1905


I'm posting this for myself to find later as much as for you. This is simply amazing. Go here and read this:
http://mappinglondon.co.uk/2013/victorian-london-in-incredible-detail/

Then come back and click this link:
http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=50.9699&lon=-0.8826&layers=168

The above pieces are quick screen captures of just the tiniest part of that map that covers most of the UK. Outstanding!

AND yes, you can zoom to individual BUILDINGS on many of these maps.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lankart Station


Finally worked on a map today after a month of a dry spell. For more details, including additional versions of the map, check out the Patreon page.

To see the map that inspired me to draw the above map, click here:
http://nycsubway.org.s3.amazonaws.com/images/articles/diagram_city_hall_bkbr_station.jpg

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Used Car

A buddy pretty much dared me to write something today, been about six months since I wrote anything, and well, I have been thinking of picking up the pen again. He posted about the New York Public Library releasing thousands of images to the Public Domain, and then dropped a writing prompt on me:

Here is the result.
https://goo.gl/55BuIH (opens a PDF in Google Drive)