07:55:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 819 words  
Categories: Announcements, Old Ventures: Refuge

ANNOUNCEMENT: NaNoWriMo 2018, Old Venture: Refuge

I'm sorry. I know, no man is an island, but I've had trouble even being one drop of rain in a river. It's difficult, these days, not to feel like the very foundations of sanity are shaking loose. And I have struggled under my burdens, as I know many of you do. I only yesterday finished last year's NaNo (which I'll be uploading soon to the blog) and I'm going to try and publish one chapter a day this NaNo. It's going to be a rough election cycle this year, and I'm hoping we can get through it together. But if you retain none of the words before or after this, remember these: you are not alone. Amidst all the chaos, and pain, and dehumanizing horror, you are known, you are cared about, you are loved. And so long as we continue to have each other, and to hold one another in our hearts, we have hope. Below is an excerpt, a preview of a chapter I realized was important enough to write and publish out of order, where it might still have some impact. As always, check back daily for updates, on this as well as on older projects that I got behind in posting publicly. And in the meantime, may you and yours stay safe and close in these trying times.

* * *

Jack stepped out onto the stage, and for a moment was blinded by the house lights, and then the chorus of flashbulbs from the media. "I'm happier than I can say to welcome a true American hero onto this stage," the man said, flashing a wide smile.

Jack shook his hand stiffly, then waited for him to clear the stage before speaking. "I'm not comfortable being here," Jack said, "and I'm sure that shows."

The audience chuckled nervously. "That's okay. You're laughing with me," he paused, "I think."

"But I've never been comfortable using my... celebrity, I guess, like this. I've marched, with John Lewis, Martin Luther King, for many varied human rights on many different occasions. You could say I've never been apolitical... but I've always attempted to keep who I am as a man separate from who I was as a symbol. I never wanted to trade on the good I've done, and even today, that's not my goal.

"But I can no longer abide my prior silence. This is not the usual push and pull of politics. This is the rise of something far more sinister, an enemy we fought a world war against, an enemy I hoped we vanquished for good. Maybe that was nave of me. Maybe my generation failed to keep the flames of vigilance lit.

"I didn't decide to speak until last week. I waited, hoping that sanity would return, that someone, anyone, would be able to show the Republican candidate that he's not just trying to be the leader of conservative America, or scared America, that he'll need to lead all of us. He'll need to represent the will of all of us. He'll need to represent the hopes, as well as the fears, of all of us. And their convention convinced me that realization will forever evade him. At his core, he is a divisive and spiteful man. He doesn't like the idea of an America united, unless he can force us to unite behind him, not as a good and changed man, but as he is, angry, scared and lashing out.

"And with each passing day, the parallels with the fascist rise- a rise that cost our world millions of lives- become stronger, and harder to ignore. Every day, more language about how everyone but America is the problem is used, while more narrowly defining what counts as America. I have seen this ugliness before, I have seen what it does to good men and women caught up in its throes, and I have seen what they in turn do to those they deem unworthy of sharing soil with. I wish I could be here for any other reason, truly. But we do not get to choose our burdens, only how we rise to meet them.

"So please, vote. Not just for Democrats, but for democracy itself, for a return to normalcy, to respecting our differences, and the rights of others. For returning this country to an ideal for the rest of the world to envy. For a world where our most vulnerable are cared for, protected, and safe. For America as we want her to be, and need her to be, not what she was. Because viewing who she was through rose-tinted glasses can't erase those who were left behind or excluded in that past, and we know better, now, and we have to do better. The only hope I have to leave you with is this: we can do better. I've seen it. And I pray I'll live to see it again. Thank you."

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  09:45:10 am, by Nic Wilson   , 12 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Exempli Gratia

New Barren Mind, with 75% more Sydney*.

* Claim not verified by the FDA.


  09:46:41 am, by Nic Wilson   , 306 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 32: The Shit List

?Ismail? You getting tired of sleeping on the concrete bunk? I know I?m getting tired of having to cook twice as much food- well, four times, if you count Monty?s portion.?

He just looked at me.

?Thing is, I got the preliminary results back. They took their sweet ass, double-crossing their Ts, umlauting their Is. See, the government really wants to put all of you into real prison. This city, it?s a liberal experiment, and even most liberals aren?t quite comfortable with the concept. So they?re hungry to put all of you into the penal system- oddly enough not a metaphor for the high incidence of rape in prison.?

?You told the Gates interrogators a number of tall tales, most of which could have been verified with the evidence- if you hadn?t been lying your taint off. What kind of a man tries to take credit for somebody else?s shoddy work?

?You didn?t build that bomb. And I?m certain you didn?t kill Mahmoud, either. So why did you want the punishment? Or maybe you didn?t want that. Maybe you just wanted your fellow citizens here to stop treating you like the child soldier you were. So you wanted an adult rap sheet. Is that about the sum of it??

I unlocked the door. ?Either way, it doesn?t matter. I?ve got no reason to detain you any further. Except,? I put my hand on his shoulder, ?that shit you pulled with my truck. I can?t just let that slide. So you?re now on the bottom rung of the ladder. That means you?re dealing with plumbing and all the other shittier chores. You do them, do them well, and don?t complain, and in three months time they all go back into the rotation. Less time if somebody else manages to get onto my shit list.?



  07:28:47 am, by Nic Wilson   , 427 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 31: Wake Up Call

After bin Laden bit the big one, we all knew Khalid was the next bastard whose head Americans wanted to see on a pike. So it really had always been a matter more of when and never if.

Still, I knew the minute it happened Hamdi was going to show up at my door before the sun rose. Because he was a prick, and couldn?t just let me get a few hours of contiguous sleep.

We still hadn?t gotten Monty?s sleeping arrangements settled away, so he was in a sleeping bag at the foot of my bed, like a puppy. And his bowels had never settled down after he got here, which wasn?t helping things any.

It was a little after four when Hamdi started pounding on my door. Since I?d been expecting it, I hadn?t been able to get to sleep until a little after three.

And the moment I cracked the door he laid in. ?We will not stand for this. Our brother in Allah was stolen from us in the night. The United States of America continues to piss on the values of all civilized nations from on high?

?Hey. It?s early. Can we please use the inside protest voice?? I asked.

?Crony of the United Slaveocracy. We demand that you inform your superiors and contacts within your oppressive government that thirty-seven citizens of Bim Maa Chia have declared a hunger strike. We will not eat until our brother?s return.?

?Look, Hamdi, you can bitch at me, you can swear at me, you can even spit at me like you were a fucking camel- though I reserve the right to kick your ass for that last one- but the fact of the matter is I didn?t know they were going to go all Seal Team 6 on Khalid. If they?d mentioned it to me, I would have told them no. Hell, I?d have put a guard up around him- we?ve got a fucking agreement to abide to- even if that means I?ve got to make sure both sides do their part. But let?s be honest here, for a moment, here. This hunger strike was about your families, and only changed because you thought that this was a winning fight. I can?t figure if you?re trying to change things, or gain political power- here or outside the BMC- though I presume you lean towards the latter.?

?You know what happens when you presume,? he said.

?You make a resume have to p??

?Thanks, Monty,? I said.


  09:40:03 am, by Nic Wilson   , 10 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: OKCupid, WTF?

A new Barren Mind, adding yet another wrinkle: OKCupid, WTF?


  07:34:06 am, by Nic Wilson   , 283 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 30: Team 6

You know how paranoids always freak out about silent black helicopters? Well, just like silencers on guns in the movies, neither is remotely close to being actually silent.

My dreams are interrupted by a metronome; it ruins the pacing of everything. The pretty girl walking down the street stops basking in the sun, and hurries away. A loud old jalopy?s engine backfires with worrying precision as it goes by, but the noise never dissipates with it- it gets louder, until the paranoia it breeds in my tears me out of my rest.

There?s a moment where I just assume it?s Ismail, kicking at the walls at high speed, but once I?m awake I know the sound from Desert Storm. I grab my radio off the nightstand. ?Orange cat, there?s a fucking bogey in my skies.?

?I copy, blue dog, but I can assure you, I?m looking at the radar. There?s nothing. Not so much as a gaseous seagull overhead.?

I got my rifle out of the gun safe and checked to be sure it was loaded. ?Let me be perfectly clear- I am going to fire at the helicopter you?re telling me isn?t hovering over my head unless you get me something approaching a straight answer.?

?Um. You shouldn?t do that.?

That told me at least that he knew something- and it also gave me a hunch. I pulled up the GPS tracking data on my computer. And I was missing one. ?Where?s Khalid??

?I?m afraid that?s classified.?

?Son of a bitch.?

?Yeah, pretty much.?

?Are they trying to make my job a bigger pain in the ass??

?Yeah, pretty much,? he deadpanned.



  09:31:29 am, by Nic Wilson   , 21 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Cock-Up

A new Barren Mind, with lots and lots of pseudoprofanity (because we know how much the kids these days love that).


  08:07:21 am, by Nic Wilson   , 12 words  
Categories: Survival

Survival Page 92

A new survival page. Now with more window-based disembowling than ever before!




  09:33:39 am, by Nic Wilson   , 14 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: As I Am

Finally getting back to the Fish arc of Barren Mind with As I Am.


  09:26:28 am, by Nic Wilson   , 424 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 29: Hunger Strike

Come to find out, my deputy?s name is Monterey, though he only answers to ?Monty.? Literally. I even tried calling him for lunch, and until I called him Monty he wouldn?t waddle up to the table- despite the fact that I don?t think he?s missed a single meal in all his life.

So I was glad when Monty answered the door for Hamdi. He had a wagon full of food, mostly perishables, fruits, vegetables. He said, ?We?re tired of waiting for our families. The agreement was six weeks, and it?s been nearly twice that. Gentlemen, we are going on a hunger strike. These foodstuffs are the proof of it.?

Monty didn?t know Hamdi, but he sure as hell didn?t like the smaller man talking to him like that. He reached for his belt, for his gun, baton, or maybe just to pull up his britches so he could smack him one, I couldn?t say, but I put a hand on his shoulder to slow him up.

?Hamdi, that doesn?t make any sense,? I told him. He just stood there, blinking at me. ?Don?t you remember Cuba? There you at least had some communication with the outside world, via the Red Cross, Amnesty, and the occasional lawyer. Here? You don?t have an outlet. Even we can?t send outgoing mail, can?t twitter. There is no way to get a message out.?

?So your captive audience of two is us,? I continued. ?But even if we?ll assume, for the sake of argument, that my deputy and I are sympathetic to your cause, we aren?t the ones holding up your families. For what it?s worth, neither is Defense. It?s all State Department, and can you really blame ?em? This? thing, here, it?s bringing the families of terrorists across US soil, where they will be held captive, permanently, on the taxpayer dollar, for an average stretch of nearly fifty years. Even the concept makes people all kinds of nervous.?

?We have an agreement,? said Hamdi wearily.

?And we?re all tied together on this one. You can throw your tantrum, but there?s nothing we can do for you.?

?Don?t tube us.?

?Perish the thought. You want to meet your maker early, that isn?t my business. I?ll drag the horses to the feedbag, but I ain?t helping em chew. But you?re digging your own damn holes in the ground. They don?t pay me enough to be your grave digger.?

His eyes got a little wide, but then narrowed again into hot little coals. ?Fine.?


  09:22:09 am, by Nic Wilson   , 455 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 28: The Full Monty

I got woke up the next day by a knock on my door. I assumed it was something that might require me to shoot someone, and grabbed my holster off the coat rack.

The last thing I expected to see on the other side of my door was an overweight redneck in jeans that were about five inches too small- muffin topping aws only the beginning of his problem. But it also kept me from seeing the Marshall star on his belt, so before I knew he was my new deputy the first words I got out of him were, ?Too many damned sand niggers.?

?Can I help you, son?? I asked, feeling a little self-conscious that I was standing there in a pair of boxer briefs.

?I?m your fucking deputy,? he said, and spit tobacco inside the slit in the door I was speaking through- and onto my foot. But the bombshell was enough that I let the door go, and it swung lazily open.

?How the fuck did you pass the physical?? It?s the kind of thing I?d know better than to say if I?d already had my coffee- though honestly he was either in his fifties and looked young or had put on fifty pounds since they tested his body fat, cause otherwise there was no way.

He snorted at me by way of explanation.

?Uh, sorry,? I told him, ?didn?t mean anything by it. You?re just a bigger fella than I?m used to seeing in the Marshalls.?

?It?s mostly muscle,? he told me, and pushed his way in, lifting his gut enough I could finally see the tin.

?So how long you been with the service?? I asked him.

?Few years.?

?And you asked for a transfer here??

?Course not.? I think he sensed where my line of questioning was headed. ?Look, I don?t want to be here anymore?n you want me- but they got my pension hostage. I?ve got at least eight years before I can retire.? Which meant he was at least thirty-eight- or as old as forty-two. ?So it was relocate here, or get in the dole line with all them beaners-? then he peered at me through the sparse morning light, ?present company excluded, a course.?

?Of course,? I told him. ?But would you mind stepping back outside so I can put on some pants.?

?Actually, I?d like to borrow the use of your toilet. Had me some Mexican on the way in that refuses to settle in.? I pointed him in the direction of the bathroom, trembling at the thought of the abuse he was about to rain down on my undeserving toilet.

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