a day in the life

Image Credit: OnConference.com

The restroom smelled of acrid decay, mostly emanating from the pools in the corner, and I instinctively stopped at the sink to wash my hands.  I could feel the stink of the place on my flesh.  When I looked up, the wizard in the mirror said, “The trick is to believe you are where you want to be.”  I blinked and he was gone.

I long blinked again and then held my tired lids closed and imagined the smell of sea spray filling my nose while the crash and roar of the tides echoed in the distance.  I wasn’t surprised to find myself in the same dingy bathroom when I opened my eyes.  I could see where I wanted to be.  I could hear it and smell it.  However, I never truly believed I was there.

The level of faith and trust required to truly believe in something had never come easy to me.  My mind worshipped logic and my heart beat to the rhythm of mathematics.  One of the yellowed iridescent bulbs over the sink flickered in response to my distracted lingering and I turned off the faucet and carefully stepped away in search of a towel to dry my hands.  The wizard winked at me from the air blower by the door.

I wiped my hands on my pant legs to avoid that germ fest and used my back to push open the door.  I considered the cost of the shirt I was wearing and briefly debated burning it rather than throwing in my washing machine when I got home.  Sound reasoning, however, swayed me quickly to the side of soap turned to sounds through mechanical agitation.

The hallway was lined in copies and bad knock-offs of famous paintings and I shook my head in disgust at the ruse of our dying culture.  It reeked of desperation to fake high society rather than own the truth of our reality.  The wizard stepped in to replace the screamer and whispered, “The trick is to believe you are what you want to be.”  I ignored him and carried on down the hall.

I walked purposefully, holding eye contact with those I passed, and projecting confidence and an exuberance for the mundane rituals of our pointless lives.  Again, though, I was not immediately successful or happy.  I knew what it meant to be both.  I knew what it took.  However, I did not believe I was worthy of either.

The office smelled of futile decay.  A sea of cubicles, awash with wasted life, drifted with the tides of change.  Eyes shifted above glowing screens to mark my progress across the floor.  I could hear their thoughts, a cacophony of pleas for freedom, and the weight of their cries slowed my steps.  Laughter, cruel and low, caused me to turn and see the wizard staring at me from a nearby computer monitor.

I hated him.  His mocking promises and half-truths had haunted me since I first began to understand what it meant to be a contributing member of society and the shiny gloss of a child’s dream of adulthood quickly wore away.  I knew he was a figment of my stifled imagination, logically, and I would never be free of him, but his demand for faith was something I could never supply.

We Don’t Need No Thought Control

Today we are discussing some of the problems with higher education over at Stories That Must Not Die. Pop on over and add your thoughts and experiences to the discussion.

Stories that Must Not Die

Please welcome Bumblepuppies to discuss higher education, graduate school and a form of cultist sequestration I had no idea existed.


I’ve come here to tell some stories. I usually write humor but today I intend to go serious with topics that sometimes end up as a punchline for me these days. You should not expect extreme emotion from me, but rather a disturbing calm. I have been away from the situation for a while now, long enough for other life events to move into the foreground. It is for this reason that I don’t usually talk about this anymore, though it is something people need to know before allowing friends and relatives to pursue a Ph.D.

If you humor me on the small stuff early on, you’ll find that the issues grow as you keep reading.

And so…

I remember that my academic department had an email listserv for all…

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NaNo Teaser 3

Would you believe me if I told you my current NaNoWriMo word count is 52, 794?

Wait, wait, wait, before you start congratulating me, you should probably know that I just introduced a new character 5,000 words ago, and while looking for a segment to share with you today I found another character I had introduced and then forgotten about that I need to work back in.  So… Okay, yes, I have hit the 50K word target, but this story is a long, long way from being done.

Not that you really care as long as you keep getting glimpses of it, right?

Well, sorry to keep you waiting, here you go:

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His dreams were more troubled than normal.  Instead of the fire lifting him up it burned him.  Rather than feeling in control and powerful, he was vulnerable, weak, and afraid.   It was the fear that eventually woke him, and he struggled to remove himself from his tangled blankets.  They strangled him and suffocated him.  The fear from the dream carried over and he cried out.

Antyn finally managed to fling the covers away and he hurdled out of the bed.  His breathing was rugged and hoarse.  His body was chilled despite the sweat on his brow and cheeks.  He wrapped his arms around himself to try and steady his nerves and calm his trembling.  When he was in control again he looked askance at his bed.

“It was only a dream.”

He wondered if Hoyla had the power to send him dreams, and if she did, if she would send him one to make him feel small and insignificant again.  Was The Casting sending him a message that there were still forces he should respect and fear if he valued his life?  Was he supposed to take the nightmare as a sign to hedge his confidence, double check his plans, and not trump up his own contributions?  Was it simpler than that, and Hoyla was getting revenge for the questions and attitude he continued to ply her with?

Or, was it really just a dream.  He’d had nightmares most of his life so it wasn’t that far out of the ordinary that he would have one.  But, he hadn’t had a bad dream since he’d left the magic school, since he’d made up his mind and come to terms with the fact that he would never be a wizard.  The timing seemed strange.  Why would he have one that night in particular?

He rubbed his eyes to wipe away the last dregs of sleep, and then went to throw some water in his face from the basin in the kitchen.  The fear faded to the recesses of his mind and spying a new delivery he smiled, breaking the last grasp of the nightmare’s spell over him.  He had things to do, he had a purpose, and he had an important skill.  Antyn removed the items and placed them carefully on his work bench and once each item had been cataloged and checked off his request list he set to work mixing chemicals.

Day turned into night, and back into day.  He took small breaks to eat and relieve himself, but otherwise he was fully engaged and hardly noticed the passage of time.  Four walls meant four devices, four triggers, four timers, and the timers had to be perfectly set in unison so the individual bombs would work concordantly rather than against each other.

Time slipped and he had no idea how many days and nights had passed when the air shifting near the fireplace heralded Hoyla’s arrival.  In her hand she held a satchel that was full to bursting.  Too distracted by her arrival and his curiosity over what she’d brought with her, Antyn couldn’t focus on the intricate and delicate work he’d been engaged in, so he pushed away from the work bench and joined her near the hearth.

He’d allowed it to go cold as his mind had been too full of elements and compounds to notice the chill in the air, and as he took a seat, Hoyla cast the simple spell that caused fire to spring into the hearth, feeding on nothing but her magic and a steady supply of oxygen, “Axt zelab.”

Anytn was grateful for the warmth, and decided he would have to be more mindful in the future of making sure he took care of his body even as he nourished his mind and soul through his work.  “What did you bring me?”

not your usual career

The rain slashed down in ribbons as the storm swirled overhead.  He placed his hand over his brow to try and protect his face but it was a useless gesture and he quickly let his arm drop back to his side.  The water collected in his eyebrows and dripped from his lashes.  Soaked.  Drenched.  He looked to the heavens and squinted against the onslaught.

“Is this what you ask of me!”  More shout than question, he threw his arms skyward, and queried his fate.  He wasn’t ready for the responsibility.  He wasn’t ready to accept what was being thrust upon him.  He didn’t believe so, anyway.

And still, the rain poured down.  Water began to pool around his feet.  He could feel it oozing through his sneakers and eating into his soaks.  The slight tilt of the ground he stood upon offered just enough of an incline for the water to began to pull against him, to attempt to carry him along the path of gravity.

He waited for a response.  He knew it would only be a matter of time before he was answered.  That’s how it had always worked before.  Each new test, each new role, had been questioned and in time answered.  Patience had been his first lesson.

He would need that in his current assignment too, it would seem, for the rain was relentless.  It washed over him and around him.  A downpour of biblical proportions, the irony of which, was not lost on him.

He let his arms drop and his gaze followed.  The world was lost in the curtains of water.  He knew he would be lost too if he fought against it.  Their will was too strong for him to overcome.  Smiling, for the first time since the rain had started 7 days before, he whispered, “So, I’m to be some sort of rain deity then?”

The answer came then, bold and clear through the cacophony of the storm, as if the voice originated from everything around him, “Your tests and trials are over.  You’ve made us proud and now it is time to move forward with your life, it is time for you to take on your final role.  Meet your destiny.”

His smile broadened and he walked the land.  Sometimes he ran, sometimes he crawled, sometimes he rested his weary legs, and wherever he went, the rain went with him.

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Word Count: 398

This bit of silliness brought to you once again by the Inspiration Monday Writing Prompt:

inmonsterbadge1

The Rules

There are none. Read the prompts, get inspired, write something. No word count minimum or maximum. You don’t have to include the exact prompt in your piece, and you can interpret the prompt(s) any way you like.

OR

No really; I need rules!

Okay; write 200-500 words on the prompt of your choice. You may either use the prompt as the title of your piece or work it into the body of your piece. You must complete it before 6 pm CST on the Monday following this post.

The Prompts:

BRILLIANT SUPERSTITION
MEET YOUR DESTINY
CURDLED
AFRAID OF NOTHING
FALLING BEHIND

I didn’t choose this career

Having a unique skill-set doesn’t mean I enjoy my profession.  In truth, sometimes a job is just a job.  I’m famous.  I’m known.  I’m miserable.

No one ever has any sympathy for me.

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Word Count: 33

This week’s Trifextra asked for 33 words based on The Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil.”  It happens to be one of my favorite songs.  How could I resist…