Do Not Walk Away

Okay, so in the shower this morning I was thinking about Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and then I got cranky, as one does, and then I wrote this.  It could probably do with a an editing pass or three, but for now, I present it to you as-is: Those Who did Not Walk Away (but neither did they turn away).

Content warning: there is a lot of sacrifice mentioned in this story. None of it is described in any detail at all.

👿

“So you want your little town to thrive.”  The demon lounged inside its summoning circle.  It looked comfortable, relaxed.  It did not look human, which was a blessing of sorts.  Its legs were too long, its skin too leathery, its horns – well, it had horns.  And a tail.  But it looked humanoid, and that was nearly enough. “I can do that.  You know I can, of course.  That is why it was me that you summoned and not some other being.”

Either the thing was flattering them or it had garnered that much from the carefully-researched phrasing of their request.  Dr. Hoge, the putative leader of their group, nodded.  “We know you can.  To thrive within the definitions we’ve provided here – good health, good lives, good chances in life as per the outside world, good opportunities to help others.”  That had been a very important point in all of their arguments leading up to this discussion – they needed to be able to do good outside the town limits if they were going to do this.

“I can do that, exactly as you’ve asked, and with no loopholes, no traps.  Of course, there will be a price.” Continue reading

Blog Post: Projects and Productivity (Telecommute Month 5??!)

It might be weird, but I love the days at work where I have a project that really takes up the whole day and all of my brainspace.  I love when I can dive in and really focus and, what’s more, feel productive.

Copyediting the Journal is almost like that.

At my last job, sometimes I would get an assignment of Build A Spreadsheet/Workbook That Does (something really we should have independent software for).  That, that was pretty damn awesome.

In between, well. Continue reading

All the Worthy People

From writing prompt found here.  Um, warning, discusses the violent end of the world. 

🚀

“You don’t understand!  I’m just an orderly.  There are plenty of doctors, plenty of scientists, plenty of people who can do a lot of good-”

They didn’t sedate me.  I didn’t argue with the point at the time, because if I was only restrained, maybe I could get out somehow, but they had gotten me trussed up really good and they were dragging me onto the ship.

All around me – separated by a very tall fence of chain-link and razor wire – people were shouting that they’d take my place.  I kept adding to their shouts.   Let them go instead of me

They were in a hurry; I understood that.  They were working against a literal doomsday clock; in less than 2 hours, the world was going to end. Continue reading

Blog Post: The Cottage

It was always just The Cottage to me, the way Lake Ontario was The Lake.  Sometimes I have to remember people down in Ithaca don’t have the same context.

My aunt and uncle – my mother’s older sister & her husband – are selling their cottage on Lake Ontario. (3)

It got flooded badly in 2018 – standing water for months 🙁 (1) and it got very moldy, and they are not young (my aunt must be, let’s see, 50+2020[year]-1+7… 76, and I think my uncle is within a year of that) and not in phenomenal shape.  I understand why they are selling it. 

On the other hand, I am mourning.

This is the last family childhood memory place still in the family – Grandma’s House, my great-grandfather’s house (other side of the family) are both gone.  All that remains is my parents’ place.

So I wrote them up a thing on Facebook, and I thought I would share it here, too.

This was part of my childhood.  I think it’s okay if I’m crying a little.

⛱️

I’ve been thinking about this for days. There are so many memories for me associated with the cottage – it’s more like a feeling, a set of emotions, than a memory.

For me, thinking about the cottage says “summer” and “family” in one breath. It brings to mind sand castles and sailing and German Potato Salad; it brings to mind Andrea at the kitchen window saying “Service!” and bridal showers and baby showers…
Grandpa at the kitchen table, telling us things he still remembered, even then, about his earlier life.

I remember when there was still a little cottage between [house of last-name], and [cousin and cousin] and I played make-believe in its doorway/on its porch. I remember, vaguely, the renovation, the new wall, how it looked before the garage.

Summer picnics, of course, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day. It never seems right, not being at the cottage, Uncle [Uncle] manning the grill. Bacon and cheese on triscuits and asparagus wrapped in bread.
I love that the cottage was part of Uncle [Uncle]’s family history, that it became part of our family history. It will always be a part of the geography of my childhood, one of the few places in my life that were not my home that felt, nevertheless, like home.

Hair-Ball Season

This one is all Cynth’s Fault. 😀 😀

“Are you sure it’s supposed to be a game?”

Theo was always the most uncertain of the three of them, or, if not uncertain, then sort of filled with a generalized nervousness.

Merit rolled her eyes.  “Base-ball.  Foot-ball.  Hair-ball.  Now, you two have a natural advantage, so hold still.”

Normally, it was Oli who was trying to climb on top of Merit.  Today, Merit reversed the roles, climbing up onto the long-furred grey-and-white cat and beginning to groom him aggressively.

As was normally his wont with Theo, Oli, after a moment of enjoying the feeling of someone getting the spots he couldn’t, twisted his head so he could groom Merit in return.

Being the unfriendly thing that she was, she growled at him immediately. Continue reading

The Greater Gatsby

Content warning on this one: It made me cry a couple times. Kitties, real kitties who lived with us once upon a time. 

This is sort of in a way after Cats Have Nine Lives.

 

His name had been The Grey Gatsby when he was a kitten, and he had held it with the sort of dignity that all cats posses (although he was fairly certain that he possessed it in greater measure than most cats.  Most cats were relatively silly when they thought nobody was looking.  He, of course, was never silly. He had taken on many other names throughout the years, in the way that people and other animals tended to gift them – Gatters, Gatamon (he liked that one), The Terrifying One (from the co-pets, or at least the creatures he was told were also pets, although he thought they looked far too much like food), the Bigger Cat (from the cat he grudgingly allowed to be his clowder, a name that pleased him also as much as The Terrifying One, as that cat – Drake – became rather larger than him but never stopped thinking of him as The Bigger Cat).  Sweetie might’ve been his favorite, although he would never admit it. Continue reading

150

Prompt from here: https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/hopquy/wp_a_recent_scientific_breakthrough_has_led_to/

Content warning: Um.  vague philosophical horror, also discussion of end of life.

~*~

The Arenoraan Treatment was supposed to be the best new thing in the world, or rather, it had been  supposed to be the best new thing ten years ago .  Ten years before that, ten years before that – scientists had been inching the lifespan longer a little at a time.

The Arenoraan Treatment, it was supposed to be the best; it was supposed to let people live happily at least to their two-century mark, if not long beyond.  The assumption was, of course, that while people who were now around 135, 140 were enjoying their extended lives, scientists would have time to figure out the next step in immortality.

I was only 90 at the time, but I was looking forward to it.  Only ninety still sounded amazing to me, because at fifty-five, I’d been starting to fall apart.  Now here I was, ninety, and nothing ached and nothing creaked and I was down to one pill a day, and that was a multivitamin supplement. Continue reading

Again

Content warning: the below includes casual discussion of past murder, suicide, murder-suicide, mass murder, and child abuse.

For all that, it’s a relatively light-hearted piece. 

~*~

“What the hell?”

First the woman had kidnapped him – he sort of remembered “does this smell like chloroform to you?” and then he was here, tied up in a very quaint kitchen.  Then she’d poured something down his throat, something that smelled awful and tasted worse, and held his nose and pressed his lips closed until he swallowed the shit.

The worst of it was, he didn’t recognize her at all, and yet she seemed maddeningly familiar. “Have you been stalking me?” That might explain it, if he’d seen her here and there. “And if so, why? It’s not like my family has money for ransom.  It’s not like I-”

The memories started to hit.  He swallowed twice, blinked, and realized why the kitchen seemed so familiar.  They’d raised their first child here – what?

“What?” Continue reading

Breaking Character

“Wait… wait.  This wasn’t in the plan.”

He had not broken character through the whole ceremony.  Through the reception, the cake, the photos.  Through the limo ride.  Through the helicopter ride that followed that.  Through embarking onto the little yacht.  Through getting into international waters.

In short, until there was absolutely no chance that anybody was going to catch them, he had stayed 100% in character.

Magdalina had to admit she was impressed.  When Shadi had suggested him for the role, she’d been…  well, doubtful was a good word for it.  Dubious.  Uncertain.  The man was barely out of college, barely shaving, barely at all familiar with the criminal underbelly.  How was he going to pull off a lynch-pin role in a complicated, three-stage heist? Continue reading