Cancer and the Art of War

Cancer and the Art of War

Pondering Cancer and the Art of War

I first saw my cancer though the eyes of my son. Three weeks of coughing had continued to get worse. Alex, needy as always, slept in my arms, refusing to sleep in his crib. I awoke both of us with a gut wrenching, gravely cough‐wheeze. Instead of startling, or crying, I look down and saw in the face of my son a look of deep concern and compassion, deeper than I had ever seen on an adult, with an understanding far beyond his nine months. Seeing that look I asked myself “I wonder if this is worse than I think. How can he know?” A week later they found the mass in my chest. It is the size of a soda can, wrapped around my heart like a glob of concrete fired from a canon.

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I have been madly editing stories for the competition. The one I just wrote won’t be ready for the Sci-fi submission, so I will go to a fall back. The horror story is in edit number ten or so, and I hope will now hold its own. So much work for such short stories!

Update: My story “Paint Drying and a Fractured Mind” won honorary mention in the Writers Digest 2012 sci-fi short story competition. It will be published eventually in an anthology of stories for kindle.  I need a kick-in-the-ass to get myself to do the final steps in the preparation and conversion process.

Writing within constraints.

I have started to re-write a story to enter into a competition. There is a 4k words limit.  I have already cut this story down twice, and am still over 4k, and I am not finished writing it.  On one hand I hate constraints.  On the other, it has forced me to cut the story down to the grizzle, but such a evisceration, while befitting a horror story, might remove all life from its whittled corpse.

The Sketchbook, Prolog draft.

Fire is supposed to burn. Burn grass, burn wood, burn flesh and blood.  Fire is a thing of wonder, and of fear.  Man harnessed it, used it to illuminate the fearful dark.   It shatters rock, boils water, destroys forests.  But, there she stood, the building falling around her, wooden beams crashing from the high ceiling and showering glowing embers in arcs dozens of feet high.  She carried the last of the children in her arms: a five year old who had hidden under his desk instead of running like he had been told.

The firemen thrust the lever up and down wildly, pressurizing the pump, which fed the water to the hose. The horses whinnied, anxious around the cracking pillars of fire.  The small pump wagon creaked as the pressure built inside and the hose sprayed a pitifully small stream of water at the roaring fire.  Water which rapidly boiled to steam and barely impacted the roaring flames.

She stepped through an arch of fire where the front of the schoolhouse had collapsed.  Random flames lapped at her body, but she hardly seemed to notice. In her arms she clutched two things, the first was the crying child, and between him and her bosom was the book of lessons and psalms she had carried to school every day for the last four years.  The old woman was the first to scream.  Not the screams of desperation that the parents had been crying as they saw the school burn.  This was a scream from the darkest fear. It cut through the roar of the flames like a siren.

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Black and White: 1

Click “today on Cooking L..” Click “You too can loose”..Click “ riots at the G-8 summit today” Click “Mommy, can I” Click. The Images and sounds rapidly flew across the TV screen. Dave kept clicking, then clicked back a few stations. Saturday morning TV was terrible in London, and his hangover made it very hard to see anything. He went back to SNN Satellite News Network. It was showing images which caught his attention. It seemed that some people wearing red bandannas as masks were having a bottle-distance-throwing competition with some police officers. So far it seemed the police were winning, but Dave figure that was because they were cheating. The protesters were hurling bottles at the police, which happened to be filled with gasoline and burning. The police were hurling bottles back, which happened to be spuing CS gas. But the police were cheating because they were using tear-gas launchers. Dave was just memorized by the images, and was totally losing the words the announcer was saying.

This, what has become a bloody tradition of protesting globalization” the announcer continue. Dave figured it was a moot point. Globalization was nearly complete, with only the poorest countries not being a part of the World Trade Organization. But all this thought was well beyond his minds current abilities. He looked around the room. Empty whiskey bottles, vodka bottles, beer cans lay strewn about everywhere. It looked like he had a big party…but he was quite sure just by the state of his head, that he had drunk most of this alone.

He went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and get some liquid into his parched throat. He nearly tripped over a few bottles, stumbled to regain control, stepped on a glass, which luckily only tumbled away and did not break, then finally found himself at the sink. He pulled a glass from the cabinet, poured some water from the filter, and drank it, then drank another, then another. This was not going to be enough, so he headed for the bathroom to get some Advil. He made it into the bathroom without incident, and fumbled for the light switch. He found it, and went to wash his face. All these normal tasks seemed to border on impossible. Continue reading

Dreams Spilt on Paper

I have been weeding through the dozen or more stories I have written as I try to figure out what to post here. Creativity for me is a dream– both a waking one and a sleeping one– for my mind drifts through stories throughout my day, and my dreams demand to become stories after I awake from sleep. Some are magical, mythical, and spiritual. All are vivid and real while I am in them, and require me to pour them onto paper before they fade into the fog of memory. I just read one story from a dream that I didn’t remember having, but I am very glad I had taken the time to begin it, and then outline it through to the end, for it brought back the images from the dream as surreal and frightening as when I dreamed them. For me that adds to the importance of my writing, because on many levels, for lighter and darker, it is me spilt across the page.Image