Window Shopping – Free Short Story

Kelly soaked in the warm bathwater without a care. The bubbles’ sweet scent placed her back in her childhood as she leaned her head against the tub’s edge. No more exams, no more homework for three months, she thought. When her freshman year had come to a close, she declined both the summer job her mom offered and summer classes; she worked herself to a breaking point and needed the time off. She could earn money with a job during the fall semester, and she would take more classes later, but for now, she had to enjoy this time.

Throughout high school, Kelly overworked herself. While it earned her the title of valedictorian and several high paying scholarships, Kelly felt cheated by her high school experience. Though she managed to meet her long-time boyfriend, Russell, she had missed out on the tight friendships that she admired from a distance. She craved to have a close girlfriend she could share her thoughts with, or even a couple with whom she and Russ could double-date. Normally, they went out with Steve and Karen. Kelly hated Karen. Since Kelly was attractive in her own right, she felt no jealousy towards Karen, but Karen was just plain stupid, almost as if she were doing it as an act. Kelly couldn’t relate to the girl, but Russell and Steve went way back, so she kept her mouth shut and played nice.

She stopped these thoughts and let her mind wander towards nothingness. She didn’t want to think about school, work, or anything stressful. Just relax. With her parents gone for the weekend, Russell would be over after work. Her head began to sag as Kelly fell asleep in the bathtub.

The sound of scratching woke her from the sleep. The sound was coming from the lock, and it reminded her of when Russell would pick the lock to surprise her.

“Russell?” She called out. No answer, but the scratching continued.

Kelly leaped out of the bathtub spilling water on the floor and rug. Bubbles clung to her naked body. She swiftly wrapped herself in a baby blue robe.

“Who’s there?” The scratching continued. “I have a weapon!” The scratching suddenly stopped. Kelly grabbed a pair of scissors from the side of her sink. Kelly grabbed the door knob. The handle shook like a pair of dice in her hand. She twisted. The bark of Paxton, her bulldog puppy, startled her. He looked up at her with his mouth agape.

She listened in the dark house but heard nothing. She tried to shake it, but the electricity of fear pulsed in and out of her. Something was wrong.

Kelly glided along the wall of the hallway. A bedroom was approaching directly in front of her on the side of the wall she was sticking to, while on the opposite wall, there was a closet. In a flurry, Kelly jumped to the opposite wall, holding close to the closet. The wood panels created a shuffling sound as she walked fast past the open bedroom door. She rushed to the end of the hallway to hit the light switch.

After a few seconds of adjusting to the light, Kelly could see the hallway to the old house was empty. The 14-foot ceiling remained its bland white. The high 10-foot doorways remained flanked with old wood. There was nothing to fear in front of her. As Kelly turned around, something in the window sent her heart pounding. It was a face.

In the window that opened to the backyard of the house, a man of no discernible age stood looking at her. His jaw was slack, and from the heaving, she could tell he was breathing strong. The man had a black and white beard that looked like a dog with mange. His left eye never broke from hers. His right eye was staring towards his ear. The man revolted Kelly. A sound caused her to break her gaze. It came from her left in the kitchen. When she looked back at the window, the man was gone. She shuffled to turn the kitchen light on and found her phone twitching on the counter. The number was private. She slowly raised the phone to her ear after pressing “answer.”

“Hello?” She said. She heard what sounded like moaning. “Who is this?”

“You’ve been a bad girl…” she heard a deep voice mutter through moans.

“I’m going to call the cops if you don’t leave me—”

“Looking so bad with that short blue robe… you tease…” He groaned. She nearly collapsed. Two possibilities blossomed in her head: either the man outside had her phone number, or someone else could see her. She hung up the phone and called Russell. He answered on the third ring.

“Hey, babe, what’s up? Kinda busy.”

“Please come over now,” she shrieked into the phone. “Someone is outside… I saw him… he was at the window.”

“I’m on my way. Call the cops… now!” A loud bang echoed from the hallway before she could reply to him. With the scissors in hand, she walked into the hallway and looked towards the window. She began to scream as she saw a message, in blood, written from the inside.

“No cops!” The blood dripped down the window towards the floor where Paxton lay dead. Kelly began to lose her ability to breathe regularly as she realized the enormity of the situation.

She wasn’t alone in the large, old house. Russell was on his way, but he had miles to drive. Her parents were as good as another planet away. She knew the safest room to wait for Russell was the bathroom: one door, one shallow closet, and one high window. Before hiding, she ditched her scissors in favor of her mother’s butcher knife. With all the courage left inside of her and knife and phone in hand, she stormed down the hallway to the bathroom. Inside, she yanked the closet door open. Nothing. She pushed the shower curtain aside. Nothing. Finally, she pushed the bathroom door closed all but a small bit to hear for Russell.

The wait seemed like hours. Her phone shuttered in the palm of her hand. The number was private. She bit her lip to stifle the sobs.

“He won’t be here in time.” The mirth in his voice was sickening. “As you saw, I have a key.”

“Who are you?” She whispered as her strength was sapped.

“I’m almost at the door. Here we go. Inserting the key.”

Kelly listened and heard a key enter the lock. Without hesitating, Kelly sprang from the bathroom and charged down the hallway.

“Knob is turning.” The knob turned. She kept her pace, knife cocked and ready with the phone pressed hard to her head. As the door opened, her hand came down like a bolt of lightning. The knife found bone and stuck. In the house lights, she saw Russell’s face begin to go flush.

“I knew you were a bad girl. Now, I get to punish you.” He let out a cackle that sounded infinite. The voice wasn’t from the phone anymore but behind her.

As Russell bled out from the knife wound, his eyes grew wide as an owl’s. Kelly started to turn, but before she could, she felt a wet, sweet-smelling cloth pressed on her face. Then, she felt nothing.

End.

Short Story Commentary: Window Shopping


When I first started a writing project in 2010, I had no idea exactly where I wanted to go with it. I knew the short stories would be lacking at first, but as I wrote, I hoped that the story quality would step up.

I decided to restart my project with my first completed short story “Window Shopping.” Pacing-wise, it is a bit lacking. Some of my typical elements are there (unseen force of evil; blacking out to death; etc.), but I think this was my first attempt to succinctly build a scene with lots of tension. The character is completely innocent and naive, so like the stranger who is watching her, we are given a candid look into her thoughts and actions. The only gray area for us is we have no idea what the stranger is thinking, planning, or why he targeted this character.

I got the inspiration of this story, much to my wife’s chagrin, by writing by a window near my computer desk. I started to think how terrifying it would be if I would walk into the perpetually dark room, which isn’t helped by the hunter green walls that absorb all the light, and see a second of a face in the window that moves when we make eye contact.

I took that fear and modified it; instead of fleeing at being caught, the stranger was excited and enticed. Kelly, without realizing it, had willingly accepted to join in his game. The results were obvious from the start.

I think if I had to go back and flesh this story out, I would have made the death of Paxton a little more organic. How did the stranger get in the house? Later, it’s revealed he has a key. Why isn’t Kelly more startled with the fact that he would have had to enter the house to do what he did? I guess I can attribute that to shock, and she did act within her means. Running outside wouldn’t have helped her.

The conclusion to the story is something I planned pretty early on. How horrific does her ordeal become when she suddenly kills the only person who can save her? Not letting her mull this over in front of us, I have the stranger knock her out with ether or chloroform and drag her for his own unearthly plans.

The elements of this story will appear in others. I do have some form of justice in mind for the stranger, as well as the appearance of Kelly and Russell. Hopefully, this entry was done well enough to whet your appetite and give you impetus to watch me improve.
Thanks for your time.

Disclaimer

The ideas, words, and works are solely the creation and representation of me, Eric Ponvelle.

None of the opinions, beliefs, and values of my content represents any other companies, individuals, and enterprises other than my own.

“Bows and Internets” by Eric Ponvelle

Originally published on The WiFiles

An’ki woke with a slight throbbing in his head. He sat upright on the fur covered ground. He looked down at Sul’ki, looking tiny and peaceful as she slept. He hated to wake her, but she panicked when she woke up without him near.

“Sunny,” An’ki whispered in a language unlike anything in modern society. “I am leaving now.”

“Ok, Annie.” She smiled and went still without opening her eyes. An’ki brushed the black hair that had fallen on her midnight-hued skin. She had taken fourteen years to get this beautiful, and every day she wowed him more.

An’ki stood at the entrance of the hut he built years ago while courting Sul’ki, when she was known as Sulia. The sun illuminated the valley below the village’s cliff with a sheet of gold. In the distance, An’ki could see a smoke serpent rising to the sky near a glowing, golden tree. Above this distant village, a Flyer fluttered. An’ki knew it buzzed like a dragon fly. Like the one in An’ki’s village, its wings and tail moved rapidly to keep it afloat. It made hunting and exploring easy.

An’ki smiled at the village his brother, Wyn’ki, built. He missed him greatly. At that thought, An’ki decided he would head to the Dome.
An’ki set himself for the community pantry to prepare for the experience. The tightly bound hut of leaves and sticks was guarded by two men, one older than An’ki and one younger.

“An!” The man on An’ki’s left shouted, becoming animated. “How are you?”

“Good, Kull.” An’ki looked over to the other man. “Ja’ki.” His younger brother tried to steel his expression. A smile broke through. Kull looked at him, resetting Ja’ki back to stone.

“What do you need?” Kull’s tone remained light and friendly.

“I am going to speak with Wyn’ki in the Dome.” Kull stiffened and nodded. He grabbed the door and said nothing more.

An’ki entered the pantry grabbing dried fruits and collected nuts from various shelves and baskets. He knew how much was needed for the “connection” he was about to undergo. He left the pantry and headed towards the Dome.

Kull’s reaction was typical with the older generation. They feared what the Dome provided, but they were compelled to stay near the Tree.

An’ki descended a small slope from the cliff where his village was. In front of him, a large building sat next to a golden tree, like the one near Wyn’ki’s village. The Dome looked like a large bowl, down turned, and placed on the ground. From the tree next to it, glowing yellow tendrils fed into the top of the Dome. An’ki ate his snacks as entered the Dome. He didn’t have to stoop.

Inside the Dome, six other people sat in the dark with golden tendrils in their mouths. An’ki finished eating and withdrew a free tendril from the cluster in the center. Sitting in a corner by himself, An’ki let his breath out slowly, emptying his lungs. He placed the tendril in his mouth, pulled deep, and within seconds, he went blind and could hear voices of everyone around him.

The chatter of his village’s residents merged with the voices of every other village that connected to their own trees. He began a slow, mental chant of “Wyn’ki.”

“Brother?” An’ki heard a monotone voice that matched his and everyone else’s. “Is that you, An’ki?”

“Yes, Wyn.” He could not sound excited. “I see your village is growing.”

“It is.” An’ki knew how proud Wyn’ki was for this achievement. His village was growing faster than An’ki’s.

“I saw the flying ship. Was that yours?” His voice held no inflection of a question. This lack of emotion frustrated An’ki.

“I learned of the design from the northern villages.” There was a pause. “Since you wouldn’t share.” An’ki knew Wyn was laughing to himself.

“Do they bring anything else?” An’ki could hear voices mentioning being from the north. He blocked them out and focused on his brother.

“A bad storm is coming. It passed them yesterday.” An’ki knew Wyn’ki was afraid of the northern storms.

“We’ll be okay. What about the southern villages?” An’ki listened, but no one from the southern villages mentioned anything. Both An’ki and Wyn’ki had sent several men and women to the south to find more trees and establish more villages.

“Yes. They are experimenting with one of the trees in the south. They have broken pieces of it to attempt mobile connections to the mind hub.”

“Any success?” An’ki was shocked and horrified that they would destroy the trees.

“I have heard words here and there.” That development intrigued An’ki. “But they still must bury the broken pieces for now.”

“Keep me informed. Goodbye, brother.”

“Goodbye, An’ki.”

An’ki stayed connected to the mind hub asking questions to anyone who could answer. After several hours, he was jolted by a tap on the arm. In his shock, he spat out the tendril. His vision slowly returned.

“I’m sorry, Annie.” It was Sul’ki. She looked groggy. “I’m hungry.” An’ki stood from where he connected to the tree. He picked the tendril off the ground and returned it to the cluster. He was towering over Sul’ki and smiled at his young bride, twelve years his junior.

“I’m sorry, my love. Let’s find you something to eat.”

“I want deer.” She smirked as his eyes enlarged. “Is that okay?”

“I will get you one. Wait in the hut.” She hugged him tightly and ran off. After leaving the Dome and ascending the small hill to the village, An’ki headed to the hunters’ lodge. Their hut was close to the trees.

When their hut came into view, An’ki was relieved the village Flyer was docked and ready for use. He would finally be able to use it.

An’ki looked at the vehicle. It had a large circular hull, divided into an area where the pilot sat in front. The back had seats for up to five people: two on the wall the pilot shared and three on the opposite side. The outside of it had four large wings that were circular shaped, two on each side. In the back a flat tail would spin to propel the vehicle as a burst of energy would speed it forward. The device ran nearly silent, making it ideal for hunting.

“An’ki! Welcome.” A man somehow taller than An’ki broke the chatter in the hut as An’ki entered. “What can I do for you, friend?” Thull’s voice boomed in the hut.

“I need a deer.”

“Excellent! We were about to head out for a quick hunt. Do you want to join us?”

“If I may.” An’ki, unlike the other village Elders, enjoyed hunting. An’ki was the youngest of the Elders because his father had died recently. He knew eventually he would become sedentary like the rest of the Elders.

“Let’s depart now.” Thull charged out of the door, bursting with excitement.

Thull and the other two hunters loaded spears and nets into the hunting vessel. A fourth hunter was starting the process to fly the vehicle. The pilot began to pump his legs, charging a propulsion unit in the back of the vehicle. At a much faster rate than he pumped, the wings began to flap quickly and produce enough wind to push An’ki back. He laughed at the sensation. The wings began to flap harder pushing the vehicle off the ground. Once in the air, the wings would expand out, and the vehicle would hover down. Ropes kept the gliding vehicle from straying from the launch pad. This stage was when it was possible to board.

“Ready, An’ki? I’ll go first.” Thull jumped in right as the Flyer set down. The wings flapped seconds after he sat down and locked his arms in his seat. It shot up high above An’ki and the two hunters.

“You go next, sir.” One of the other hunters spoke to him. An’ki tasted adrenaline pumping. The device was gliding back to its starting position. As soon as it touched down, An’ki dove inside to a chair on the same side as Thull. No sooner did he drop into the seat did he feel his stomach lurch as the device bounded skywards, much higher than before.

“This will get higher before we start moving. Lock your arms.” Thull yelled over the blasts of wind as they got higher above the village. An’ki’s long black hair covered his face like a mat of fur. Sweat, despite the cool wind, drenched him. The wind pulled at the only cloth An’ki wore around his waist.

“When everyone was boarded, they will close the hull’s doors,” shouted Thull.

As they glided down, much slower than they ascended, An’ki let out a breath. “Have you ever flown before?” Thull shouted despite the reduced noise pollution.

“No.” An’ki could feel his stomach and head spinning.

“You get used to it. Anytime you want to come out with us, feel free.” Thull was smiling, but An’ki couldn’t imagine ever returning.

An’ki jolted in his seat when the device hit the ground. Both remaining hunters entered from opposite open sides. He saw the tethering ropes, loose on the ground. The Flyer shot up once again, even higher and faster than before. The two hunters stood up and grabbed small flaps that extended outside each opening. They were holding their chairs tightly with a free arm. If they fell out, they would surely die. An’ki closed his eyes. When the flaps were closed, An’ki was shocked by the reduction in noise from the wind.

“Hold on tight!” Thull shouted. An’ki wanted to question it, but a loud boom from behind the other two hunters muted him. The Flyer shot forward. An’ki heard a buzz as the back tail began to spin to propel them forward. The wings outside were flapping quicker than before to keep it moving. “You can stand up now.” Thull laughed, hovering over An’ki. “It will be pretty stable now.” An’ki tried his legs, but they weren’t working. He shook his head. Thull laughed again and yanked him up.

On his feet, An’ki could feel that the vehicle was shaky, but it was more stable than he expected. An’ki looked out the open window in front of the pilot. He saw the contours of the trees and landscapes. His mouth hung open as he saw various animals roaming and plants in full bloom.

“It’s beautiful.”

“It is.” Thull sounded vulnerable and happy. “I would never give this part up for anything.” An’ki wanted to leave the Elders and fly for the rest of his life in this moment. This was worth the discomfort of take-off. “That’s where they the deer will be.” Thull motioned to a clearing of woods. It was a little higher than the areas surrounding it.

The hunting vessel tilted to the right and quickly turned to the left. An’ki braced himself against the opening to the pilot’s area. An’ki saw the other two hunters fastening themselves to the frame of the left side opening. Suddenly, they opened the covering flap exposing the left of the vehicle to air and the clearing. Thull walked carefully, using a guide pole in the middle of their seating area’s ceiling and handed both hunters spears. The pilot flew below the tree line. An’ki began to fear his tight grip on the cockpit’s frame would fail him. He could see deer starting to flee from the passing vehicle. Both hunters threw their spears hard. Both spears impaled deer through their necks perfectly. A loud pop from where Thull was standing startled An’ki. A net exploded from a device in Thull’s hand that grabbed both of the impaled deer together. Thull removed the rope that was attached to the device, tied it to the guide pole, then began to pull the net up with the aid of the hunters. Both deer made it inside.

“Are these big enough, young Elder?” Thull laughed. An’ki was shocked at how big the deer were up close.

“More than enough.”

“Get two more.” Thull shouted to the pilot. The repeated the same process, and without mistake, the hunters collected two more deer. As the net containing the last two entered the hull, the hunters tied to the open frame and closed the flap. The change in the air made An’ki’s ears hurt slightly.

“Thank you, Thull. I appreciate it.” Thull was beaming at the praise.

“Let’s get back to the village.” Thull struggled to reply.

As they flew back, An’ki noticed a speck off the coast, not far from his village.

“Do you have a scope?” He asked the pilot who never ceased pumping his legs. He looked exhausted. Automatically, the pilot reached and handed him a tiny monocular scope. An’ki held it to his eye.

The speck enlarged to reveal a very big ship. An’ki saw the ship had white pieces of clothes with barbed Xs the color of the setting sky. These were not ships of the tribes. An’ki felt a nagging sensation.

The Flyer touched down, and An’ki helped unload in silence. He needed to get back to the Dome.

“Here’s your deer.” Thull smiled.

“Thank you.” An’ki was too preoccupied to show much gratitude. He lifted the deer onto his shoulders and started for the Dome. He knew he should eat first, but he also knew he wouldn’t be long. Inside the Dome, An’ki dropped the carcass near the center where the tendrils remained. He remained standing while he sucked on the tendril. The world faded to black and voices rose around him. An’ki spoke quickly, but the limitations of the connection showed no change.

“Is anyone sailing off the Eastern shores?”

Chatter continued, ignoring his question.

“If anyone is sailing off the Eastern shore, please say yes.” An’ki wanted to scream this at the top of his lungs. His fears were growing. There was no response.

He spat out the tendril and ran to his hut. Sul’ki greeted him.

“No deer?”

“I need the scopes.” He saw his panic scared Sul’ki. She ran inside and came back with two scopes like the one from the pilot. He held them both up to his eyes. The ship was near to shore now. He could make out individual people. They were pale men dressed with heavy clothes. He could see they had fat spears in their hands. An’ki dropped his scopes and ran back to the Dome. He grabbed a tendril, sucked hard, and began to repeat Wyn’ki’s name.

“Is something wrong, brother?” An’ki knew his brother was much more frantic than his voice sounded.

“Burn the tree. Tell everyone to burn the trees.”

“Burn the trees?” There was a pregnant pause. “Why?”

“Invaders are coming. We must protect the other villages. Burn the Flyers too.” An’ki spit out the tendril. He left the Dome and bounded up the slope to a fire that cooked various meats. With a long burning log, An’ki returned to the Dome and threw the burning log at the glowing tree. It ignited instantly. Returning to the fire, An’ki grabbed a second burning log, ran to the now empty hunting vessel and with great sadness, ignited it.

Residents of the village walked out of their huts in shock. Before anyone could speak, An’ki raised his arm and pointed to the shore. Men in heavy closes with fat, hollow looking spears began to march towards the village. An’ki prepared for the battle that was coming.

An’ki walked towards the fire that produced the logs he used to burn the tree and the hunting vessel. He reached into it and produced a scalding hot rock that was larger than his head. His survival instincts let him block out the pain. As the war party grew near, they spoke in a language that flowed together quickly. An’ki, hand in pain, looked at the terrified Sul’ki. He stepped forward the flung the hot rock at one of the closest men. It slammed into his head and dropped him instantly.

An’ki waited for the war party to retreat, but instead, he heard them shouting louder as they approached their dead comrade. An’ki moved to the fire to retrieve more burning rocks when he heard several loud pops from their fat, hollow spears. Smoke and fire flashed out of the end of them. An’ki felt strings of searing pain travel through him. An’ki heard another pop from a spear aimed higher at his head. The world turned dark. As his body fell to the ground, the last thing An’ki heard were the shrieks of Sul’ki. He died feeling helpless.

Buy “Illusion of Choice” Today!

This was a long time coming. Like really long.

My novel “Illusion of Choice” is available for pre-order from select retailers online. Please visit Amazon for more information on purchasing. If you purchase before April 7th, 2015, you can grab the book for $0.99. On April 7th, it will revert to its full retail price at $2.99, which I’d argue isn’t too bad.

This post is a hard one to write because it requires me to sell myself which I don’t really enjoy doing. I’d rather be observed of my merits than having to push people to see my skills. Unfortunately, I do want this book to have some traction, and for some reason, a paygate allows for that to happen.

I started this book as a teenager when I thought making video games were easy. It was a pretty big concept at 14, and I don’t think even today it’d have a chance at getting made. It had too many working parts. Somehow, underneath all those parts, I pulled out a story about an individual named David Warren whose life wasn’t what he wanted it to be. David just wanted a normal, simple life. From the onset of this story, we see even a simple morning cannot be normal for David. As the story progresses, we learn how far from normal his life really was and how he never had a chance to fit in.

The story has a lot of action, violence, profanity, I think some sex, but I try to do all of that as flavoring for the under arching story. I’m not done with this universe, but I think this is a great entry point.

If you decided to purchase the book, thank you very much. It means a lot to me, and probably more than you can realize. And if you enjoyed it, please submit a review. I know reviewing seems so tedious since people tend to only review stuff they hated, but it’d help me a lot to hear that people actually enjoyed something I did. Also, if you did enjoy it, feel free to share it with anyone you think may like it and forward them to my blog. I want readers more than anything else.

Here are the links again in case the hyperlinking failed:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Choice-Eric-Ponvelle-ebook/dp/B00UTQODI0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1426729970&sr=8-6&keywords=Illusion+Of+Choice

It is available under creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-SharALike 4.0 License –

Creative Commons License
Illusion of Choice by Eric Ponvelle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Psychopathy of Fox News

I have been working on a piece for a little while on psychopathy, but until I am fully ready to post that paper, I’ll settle for this mini-essay on Fox News.

Fox News is the last bastion of true opinionated journalism, and I mean that without any sarcasm. They push their own agenda so hard that is obvious to anyone who cycles through the channels who they support. This is opposed to the other media outlets that try to conceal that.

Where Fox News fails, other than being a vacuum of information, is they seemed to have slipped in their own punch and have lost all composure.

Take for example this “report.” In it, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says we should show “respect” to our enemies and even empathize with them, if possible. Fox News proceeds to lose their shit. Oliver North of all people then comments, using “utopian” as a term of slander, that this is horrible while the Fox News “anchor” says she wants to “wring the neck” of terrorists personally.

This is the ultimate summation of Fox News: they are unable to understand that war yields more war. They cannot understand a leader who is not (at least in this moment) a blood-hungry warmonger. The two terms should go hand-in-hand. They do not understand empathy in the way adjusted humans do because to Fox News, empathy is completely unattainable. You empathize with people you agree with only, and that’s that. Thus is the psychopathy of Fox News.

I wish I could cite the person who said it, but one quote always sticks out to me: “When you kill someone, you are creating widows, widowers, orphans, and others who have lost someone they loved.” This summarizes why a “War on Terror” will never end. You are creating new soldiers with every drone attack that misses the real target. You bomb a funeral procession that was supposed to have several members of al-Qaeda or ISIS, but instead was filled with civilians. Then, all of those affected by that attack are now more sympathetic to the terrorist cause.

What Hilary was saying it was most libertarians and pacifists want: we shouldn’t involve ourselves in other matters without first understanding the root cause. The reasoning for 9/11 is all over the place if you read any of al-Qaeda or bin Laden’s materials. They were attacking us for our sustained occupation in their region and allying with their enemies. Their method of getting their message across was horribly off point, but this was the result of decades of frustration and anger that no changes were happening through diplomatic means. A “smart power” policy could prevent the next 9/11, and it could regain some of the clout we lost in the last decade.

When Fox News suggested that Hilary wasn’t a warhawk at all, as if implying that as a slight against her, they really missed the mark. I have no doubt that if she wins, we will be in some other war. It’s how modern presidents work. Fox News will take any chance they can to slander their enemies. I used enemies instead of opponents because they are so far off the scale of reason and logic, that I think they see all of this as a war.

Fox News is the type of network that would deride Obama for freeing the slaves as attacking legal business owners. They are unable to come to any sort of bargaining in terms of reason and logic, and the end it creates an atmosphere of fear.

Cop Killers and Killer Cops

I really don’t want to publicly talk about this, but I cannot censor myself either. My book features a lot of talk about corrupt cops, a full-out onslaught on the power tripping police, and freedom through this action.

That’s what makes me so sad at how often these stories are popping up. I’m not linking to anything. There’s enough everywhere you look. Everyone is drowning in stories of it. Where I take umbrage is the notion that the job of police to kill if necessary. That is the job of a soldier.

Somewhere in this messed up decade, the police went from people you could run to if you needed help to someone who may gun you down and never face any real repercussions. We may act shocked that this is happening, particularly when there is no indictment, but this has happened a lot. Rodney King wasn’t that long ago. For some reason, police are held to a different standard than we are, especially if the civilian involved is a minority.

This is not an indictment on all police. I have had equal parts good and bad run-ins with the law. Some clearly overstepped their bounds, and some where truly kind people who were just doing whatever they can to help. Therein lies the problem. These truly good men and women who risk their lives by being on the front line of civilian violence, and who are good, honest people are put in extra danger because of psychopaths.

This brings me to what drew my anger: some guy shooting and killing two innocent cops. This act by a raving lunatic wasn’t political; it was selfish. Any sort of solidarity concerned citizens were rallying was shattered with that act. Now there are two extremes: One said are the people against murdering cops like the one who gunned down Tamir Rice for having a toy gun without any attempt to disarm him. A video shows him, admittedly moving his hands towards his waist band as a cop car with two individuals pull up, the door opens, one fires on the child and hides behind the car, and that’s it. Murdered.

On the other end, we have some guy killing two cops who did nothing wrong under the guise of some social message. It wasn’t. It was blind terrorism.

As a country, we are afraid to talk about race and racism. We are afraid to ask what made Michael Brown, a teenager who had a past, into the type of person where his unarmed murder by a cop isn’t a clear case of his innocence. We’ve failed him as a society just as we’ve failed the police who resort to violence before they resort to using psychology. When every cop is a soldier, does that make anyone who opposes them insurgents?

From http://imgur.com/r/YOLO/tuSan

In Defense of YOLO

A few years ago, “rapper” Drake is credited with penning the timeless classic “The Motto,” which created the meme of “you only live once,” or as it is best known “YOLO.”

Many like to castigate this song as a silly form of social Darwinism. There are examples of people doing some utterly fucktarded things while rambling about how they only live once so they may as well enjoy it, like a guy who died while drunk driving and tweeting. Most interestingly, the song has gone from an actual movement with people adopting it as their own personal mantra to just an ironic joke. But is this correct?

The notion of “you only live once” is unique to the current generation. After the Boomers have ransacked and held the economy for ransom, the generations that followed were forced to accept a future without any guarantees like the Boomers had. Went to college so you can make a successful life? Well, tough because the Boomer before you is occupying any promotion you’d be able to do for the next 20 years. So, rather than focusing on a life where you save money to pass on to the next generation, and work for that imaginary job, the concept of you only live once has never been truer; for the majority of us, we won’t work one job but several rotating jobs in various career paths. Instead we should enjoy the time we have now before we die in whatever job we landed in today.
Furthermore, we can extrapolate that YOLO is a condemnation of religion. It resonates with the youth because they no longer see rewards in the afterlife. This is our only time to enjoy what we have, and we had better take it for ourselves. The Boomer generation takes a lot of flak because they hold a lot of the cards, and a lot of the blame for the economic turmoil. That topic deserves its own dissection, but the point remains that the generation in power is the one that taught “Me first” concept that lead to the belief of entitlement in the Millennials.

The concept of you only live once is a notion that a lot of other generations won’t get. I like the slogan from Aleister Crowley, boiled down to be, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.” What this states is we should do what is in the best interest for us first, be that taking care of our health, our happiness, or those who contribute to that. Since that is a bit of a loaded phrase written by a raging bigot lunatic, we have to find new ways of adapting this to the times.

In the end, do what makes you happy, be it helping others or yourself without hurting anyone else. Above all, act in a way that you will be able to live with and ensure you do so without unnecessary risk. Because after all, you only live once.

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer [Review]

TL;DR

A hacker finds a file that allows him to edit the world around him, proving humanity is part of a computer simulation. Immediately, he gets himself into federal trouble and does the only logical thing with his god-like powers: journey to Middle Ages England and pose as a wizard. Really good book!

Full Review (Spoilers Ahead)

Humor is a hard genre to write well. For every really funny book, you will have cringe-worth writings that miss on every mark. Fortunately for Scott Meyer, he has the chops from stand up to pull off a genuinely funny book.

The book follows a young hacker who spends his time sifting through various databases. He eventually stumbles on a file that allows him to edit his height. After some humorous experimentation, he creates an app that allows him to do it on the fly, editing everything in his favor. Nearly, instantly, Martin Banks is suspected of committing computer fraud and the federal government starts hunting him down. Naturally, Martin decides to go to Medieval England where he could disguise himself as a wizard.

Once there, Martin realizes he wasn’t the only one with this idea as he meets many hackers-cum-wizards. As his life in this new time goes on, Martin must solve the case of a bunch of people being murdered in ways that only a wizard could.

The story is short, refreshing, and not too heavy-handed on the simulation argument that is the crux of the story. Scott Meyer has already released book 2 showing he is ready to dedicate a lot of time to this series.

Check out on Amazon: Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0)

Altered States of Consciousness

Every now and then, I like to create projects to create a focus for my blog. Here’s one.

I study altered states of consciousness a lot for my own entertainment. Something about the notion that the only thing separating us from utter insanity is our access to “sobriety.” The problem with the notion of sobriety is that it isn’t made equal across the board. For schizophrenics, for example, have trace amounts of dimethyltryptamine in their urine. So, taking no substances that change their perception, is “sobriety” really sober? This is question is why I propose using the term baseline, which varies from individual to individual.

For this blog experiment, I am going to try various forms of legal altered states of consciousness and document my results. When doing this sort of research, I am often frustrated with the lack of quality information out there. It seems like it is far easier to find how to change yourself with illegal means, but nothing really detailed with holotrophic breathing, for example.

I am going to change that. My goal is to attempt various methods over a span of time and document my results.

For my first experiment, I am going straight to baseline.

I am a coffee drinker, and I do the ketogenic diet. My goal for my first experiment is to eliminate the first while performing the second. This will likely be painful, as I have been off the rails since December. I will also likely have headaches from the lack of caffeine, which is risky since I am prone to migraines.

As a “pre-trip” report, I will say I am very hungry all the time thanks to sugars, and my mood is very neutral to negative. My attention to the situation and awareness in life is very lacking as well. I have a good deal of energy, but I am prone to laziness.

I’ll report back after two full days of purging carbs and coffee.

On a general front, I am hoping to have an update regarding my novel and other writing related things pretty soon. I hate to be the type to do the “new year, new me” thing, but it sort of worked out that way.

Until next time.

Growing Psychonauts with Dreams

While brainstorming on the importance of lucid dreaming, I reflected on my personal experiences. Unfortunately, unlike a lot of the presenters at this conference, my childhood dreaming endeavors were smothered. Rather than encouraging my interest in dreams, my parents ridiculed them as unimportant. Since they only gave nightmares any importance, these were the dreams that remained in my memory.

The nightmares led to lucid dreaming, as is usually the case. When the nightmare got too real or scary, I would become aware in my dreams and combat the monsters. As a result of these experiences, I questioned scary things such as monsters in horror movies and noises in the dark. If it seemed too real and too scary, I assumed I was dreaming. This unintentional practice led me to become a rather skilled lucid dreamer at a young age. When I would talk about the experiences with my parents, the typical response was “You just imagined that.” I’d talk about it with friends, and the responses were slightly more varied. Most didn’t care, some didn’t believe it, and some were really interested. The last group consisted of friends who were simply sufferers of nightmares. Because the parents of these different groups were taught like mine that dreams were unimportant, they imparted this belief to their children, crushing any chance of personal exploration.

In elementary school, where we should be free to explore ideas and concepts without fear of attack, my stories and craft projects about my dreams were dismissed as not meeting the assignment because I wasn’t using my imagination consciously; the dreams just came to me as they did with everyone and weren’t considered special by my teachers. This notion went contrary to how ancient cultures like the Egyptians who “believed that the gods showed themselves in dreams” (ThinkQuest.com). Rather than like ancient societies where dream sharing was encouraged, dreaming wasn’t considered anything more than superfluous thought spasms while we sleep. This restriction created a self-censor for my friends because if dreams, something we just perceived as normal by nature, were forbidden, what else could we not naturally talk about? Most around this age were reluctant to volunteer answers and be wrong much less share something so personal as parts of their imagination and be discredited. By starting this trend so early, it created a fear of the mind and explorations of consciousness at an early, impressionable age.

Through these early experiences, I have learned that my parents’ generation were taught to ignore and dismiss dreams. The problem with this phenomenon of thought censorship is it creates an avalanche of thought suppression. In Kate Kelland’s article “Drug laws ‘censor science'”, as psychedelic drugs were banned in the 1960s, the prohibitors “have set back research in key areas such as consciousness by decades” (2013). Further in her article, Kelland cites Dr. David Nutt a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, who calls the prohibition of psychedelic research the worst crime to science since “the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo” (2013). By removing an area of research, the precedent was set that consciousness exploration was dangerous, evil, and wrong. In the same article, David Nutt says that “The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe. And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes” (Kelland, 2013). What this message tells the younger generation is that rules are static even if evidence changes. This fallacy creates a future where scientific reasoning and faith are indistinguishable. While an extreme example, organizations like the Multidiscipline Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) shows how damaging this prohibition can actually be. MAPS states that their plan is “a 10 year, $15 million plan to make MDMA into an FDA-approved prescription medicine, and is currently the only organization in the world funding clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy” (MAPS). Through research and tests, they have shown the benefits of drugs like MDMA for treating soldiers with PTSD. Despite these breakthroughs, due to legal prohibitions, this research has been forced underground.

Consciousness exploration is something the majority of people don’t even consider. Most look at psychonauts as drug-addled rejects who go on tangents about nonsense. While this image may accurately describe some of the community, most of us simply believe dreams to provide a deeper glimpse into the fantastical feat of existence. By the time most of us are of age to freely practice exploration of the mind and universe, life and the rigors of day-to-day experiences will staunch all of our free time to learn, question, and explore. Instead had we built the tools necessary for consciousness exploration early on, we’d have the skills and experience to utilize every moment to its fullest.

By using sleep, the time when we are recovering from the day, to explore, we are using even more of ourselves without much sacrifice. This limited time frame is the reason lucid dreaming serves as the best tool for the modern psychonaut. This is where children have the advantage. According to research byDr. Tamar Kushnir presented in a white paper by Cornell University, children are able to “learn about people from statistical information and they in turn evaluate evidence in light of their developing social knowledge, in an ongoing, reinforcing cycle“ (Cornell). Children lack the self-consciousness that inhibits true exploration. They are eager to try an experiment, such as performing a Mnemonically-Induced Lucid Dream (MILD) attempt day after day, failing, and trying again.

The child’s mind is more open to new ideas. In her research, Dr. Kushnir noted that during “a series of experiments exploring children’s causal reasoning, [it was] demonstrated that children can revise existing beliefs if they receive good evidence that contradicts their earlier assumptions” (Cornell). Adults will usually change their belief system when confronted with evidence, but there are always incidences of clinging to old, defeated beliefs. Since the child’s mind is just about exploring, and the ego isn’t fully developed, abandoning current beliefs in favor of new ones is of no difficulty.

The openness of children isn’t to say that their lucid dreaming attempts should be solely deep exploration of the subconscious. In fact, I propose the opposite. Children should be encouraged to use lucid dreaming as a tool of exploration and creativity. They should be encouraged to play in the dreamscape without reservation, and eventually, as they grow, these tools could be used for further exploration. If a valuable life truth reveals itself to them, then their open-mindedness will allow easier integration than that of adults.

When I finished college, I had a very vivid lucid dream that ended with an ego death. The dream showed me a truth that I hadn’t understood and couldn’t accept. The truth was revealed in a manner that I couldn’t integrate in my current path of life.

In the dream, I was in a grey plane. In front of me, there is a holographic globe that emits a bright light. I am compelled to touch it, and I plunge my head into the sphere. In seconds, I am overwhelmed with a great sensation, and knowledge is imparted on me. I turned away from the sphere and in front of me stands millions of people. From their hands and feet, strings ascend into the sky, controlled by writhing entities. From my own hands and feet, my strings are cut. I turn back towards the globe and dive in completely. I shatter to white light and feel everything and nothing at once.

After the dream, I withdrew completely becoming a husk of a person for several weeks. Years later, I understand that my ego was so shattered by the truth revealed in this dream that it had to be rebuilt in a more open way. I learned that despite our actions we are all connected deeply, and we all possess the capacity to escape even if it is terrifying. Had I experienced this revelation at a younger age or with stronger tools to cope with, I believe the experience wouldn’t have been as traumatic and devastating.

The dreamscape allows the perfect palette for creation. Children like to experiment with their surroundings constantly, often testing the limits. When an enterprising child dreamer decides to see if he can fly and does, he is shown that the world of dreaming has fewer limits than the world of the waking. When a child dreamer decides to summon their favorite cartoon character, and Dora the Explorer takes her on a journey through the Amazon, she is shown that the limitations are her own. This reinforcement creates excitement in lucid dreaming, which usually yields more lucid dreams. The most important part we can serve, however, is as advisors and cheerleaders for these novice dreamers.

As the young psychonaut reaches the age when things go awry, puberty, they are going to have an extra set of skills that their peers do not have. During these years, we develop a stronger and sometime too dominant ego. For the majority of society, this ego goes unchecked and is even encouraged. For the psychonaut, this ego stands as a barrier between them and true understanding. For the young psychonaut, however, they are humbled and more open to alternative viewpoints. Through constantly questioning and learning about the growing limits of their consciousness, they understand humility of human experience and are unafraid of testing their belief structure.

Exploration of the self at a young age provides a lot of natural benefits. First, the young psychonaut understands how to question his or her own perception. For example, by questioning whether or not they are sleeping, the psychonaut is able to appreciate the world around them and live in the moment. This translates to a more robust life where a young psychonaut can travel to new pastures at a whim and summon untold amounts of creative energy. By being connected with this creative intuition, the psychonaut of tomorrow will be more exploratory and more adventurous.

Following the Flower Power Generation, psychonauts of today are more prevalent and in the open. People who question the world around them are opening the eyes of others. In the last decade or so, films on consciousness and questioning of the self have boomed. Two films in this vein, The Matrix and Inception, caused a miniature revolution in the thoughtscape. The Matrix pushed for questioning of reality itself. As Morpheus urged Neo to make the choice between remaining asleep or waking up to reality as he knew it, he was talking to the audience. The audience could join Neo and question the world around them. While more mundane than a world of simulated reality, the real world, when viewed through the eyes of the awakened can be a very shocking place. Inception took this notion a bit further and created a world where dreams were used as a means of committing corporate espionage. While appearing as the main point of the story, the game of intrigue is actually the backdrop to a story about questioning reality, losing yourself to obsessions, and losing the passion for creation. As Cobb descended into the world of crime, he lost the fact he could create the world however he wanted without restrictions.

While films like Insidious and Inception portrayed dreaming in a dramatized version, they did pave the way for new advancements. When Inception was released in July 2010, lucid dreaming search terms increased from 14% in June to 30% in July (Google Trends, July 2013). By having increased interest in lucid dreaming, the communities saw new ideas flourish. More people were able to learn how to lucid dream and expand their conscious, even unintentionally. This all came to a head when Bitbanger Labs raised over 1600% of their goal on Kickstarter for the Remee Lucid Dream Induction device. With items like this being shown to gain public acceptance, we are in an era where the average psychonaut has a wealth of external tools and information.

While consciousness exploration avenues are still limitedthe novice psychonaut, there is clearly a silver lining. Conferences like this one and groups like IASD proves that the total suppression of childhood enthusiasm for dreaming and consciousness exploration hasn’t succeeded. As enthusiasts in consciousness exploration, we hold the tools to further push the next generation to look at the mind and consciousness as something positive and amazing rather than something that should be feared.

The first step towards rebuilding these burnt bridges is engaging children in your life about topics involving consciousness. Ask the children in your life about their dreams. One idea I did with my brother-in-law was to give him a dream journal and encourage him to share the dreams he records. By creating this importance of recording and sharing their dreams, it creates the foundation for practicing dream recall and eventually pushing their own conscious boundaries through exploring the lucid dreamscape.

Another important step is to share your dreams with the children in your life. By sharing your dreams, you are showing them dreams are always important as is questioning what is the nature of consciousness. Since children always look to role models, taking the mantle as a consciousness role model could be the very first step towards building a life-long quest to exploring reality. By not simply taking everything at face value, these individuals will enjoy a more robust life where they can appreciate the small things thanks to a better understanding of who and what they are.

Another step towards rebuilding that consciousness bridge is sharing your dreams with other adults. Everyone has a dream they love to share. When you ask a friend about their dreams, they will recall that dream, and by encouraging that sharing and pressing for more details, you are cueing them to embrace dreams as something fascinating and important.

The final, and in my opinion, the most important thing to do is question yourself. Why do you lucid dream? What is consciousness? What is reality? By answering these questions and creating your own life mantra, you become the vehicle for the message of exploring consciousness that was lost through the years. By being able to summarize these answers to your friends, you become a person that makes something esoteric become something that they feel comfortable and confident in sharing.

Exploring consciousness and learning about the world around us is extremely important to appreciating life. As life coasts too fast to see the scenery, we need the tools to be able to appreciate the moment and slow down everything. By encouraging children to build these skills and practicing these skills with them, we can create a generation where this becomes the default rather than some outlandish claim.

References

Learning About How Young Children Learn. (n.d.). Cornell Department of Human Development. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from www.human.cornell.edu/hd/outreach-extension/upload/Learning-about-how-children-learn-Kushnir.pdf

Kelland, K. (n.d.). Restrictive drug laws censor science, researchers say – Yahoo! News. Yahoo! News – Latest News & Headlines. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://news.yahoo.com/restrictive-drug-laws-censor-science-researchers-041853065.html

MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy. (n.d.). MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.maps.org/research/mdma/

McNamara, P. (n.d.). Lucid Dreaming and Lucid Nightmares | Psychology Today. Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dream-catcher/201207/lucid-dreaming-and-lucid-nightmares

Trends. (n.d.). Google Trends. Google. Retrieved July 24, 2013, from http://www.google.com/trends/explore?q=Lucid+Dreaming#q=Lucid%20Dreaming&cmpt=q