Writer in Motion

So I decided to scratch my itch and silently returned to my writing about 7 months ago. Those of you who drop in from time to time might remember that I started a novel a few years back and then stopped at around 30k words. Well, since returning to writing late last year I finished the novel at around 113k words and I’m now close to finishing my first round of edits.

It’s been an awesome experience and getting across the first full manuscript finish line felt amazing. I then put it aside for a few weeks and returned to do the first pass of simple edits, checking for plot holes, flow, etc. I’ve discovered a few gaps in my writing skills along the way that I’ll blog about in the future.

Some of the things I’ve been trying to do as I approach the finish line with my first novel was:

  1. Meet my fellow writers and find a community
  2. Work on refining my craft so I can iteratively improve this novel and future writing
  3. Learn from others what needs to be done to publish this thing successfully.

In the search to find a community, I came upon this great Slack writing community called the Writers’ Craft Room. It’s a fun group of people that help each other with feedback, critique partners, Twitter pitches, etc.

While finding my way around the Slack I stumbled upon this cool channel called #writerinmotion. The channel was about a new project the community was kicking off. It’s described as:

“Create a space where readers can see how a writer moves through the drafting, feedback and editing process to create a polished work.”

I was fortunate that they hadn’t yet started so after I begged (not really, I just asked) if they could use a newbie like me and just like that they welcomed me into the launch crew. WOOT!

So here I am, a Writer in Motion!

This will be a week-by-week process where the 12 of us will draft a short story, revise, rewrite, digest feedback, and blog about our process as we move from start to finish. The goal of the journey is to both document and share the process of writing and refining so people can appreciate and fully understand the creative process of storytelling.

If you’d like to follow any of us on our journey you can find my writer cohorts blogs here:

  1. K. J. Harrowick ( &
  2. Jen Karner (
  3. H.M. Braverman (
  4. J.M. Jinks (
  5. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
  6. Thuy Nguyen (
  7. Kristen Howe (
  8. Kathryn Hewitt (
  9. Sean Willson (me)
  10. Paulette Wiles (
  11. Talynn (
  12. Ellen Mulholland (

Look for my first posting the week of June 1st with subsequent postings at least once per week thereafter.

Inner Ring Supply Run

Captain Monroe stood at attention just like she'd done countless times before. Today was no different than the previous inspections, at least that was what she'd been telling herself for the last hour. These inspections usually last half this time. She'd hoped the rumors of tightened Inner Ring security were just that, rumors.

All of the manifests were in order, all of the seals on the shipments were unbroken and had been resealed perfectly, and the transponders were reprogrammed and working. Every step she'd been trained to follow had been followed meticulously. In the vacuum of space she had nothing but time to engage her inner obsessive compulsive disorder to follow orders. Everything had been reviewed several times over.

Her mind was doing circles now and her heart was beating erratically. Nervously looking around the room, she briefly made eye contact with the guard they'd left with her in engineering while they did inspections. She instantly regretted it. She had to focus and get herself under control. Any sign of weakness of nervousness would certainly give her away. She closed her eyes for a second and started to center herself. Breathing in and out in a controlled manner like all good Outer Ringers learned at birth. Air is precious, air is life … air is precious, air is life. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out.

She often wondered if the ability that the Outer Ring people had to quickly center themselves and control their emotions gave them an edge. Her academic friends certainly thought so but right about now she didn't feel like she had any advantages. Under the stress of looting while at the same time delivering a supply run she wasn't sure she had any sort of upper hand.

A loud noise jarred her out of her focusing routine as she stumbled slightly to catch her balance. The noise of a docking port attaching to a ship is very distinct and unnerving for any captain. It was usually accompanied by the relief of a voyage finally ending or the stress of a random inspection or repair.

One could usually discern the nature of the attachment by the noise it made. The louder the clang the worse the pilot, the worse the pilot the more stress to come. Her flight instructor would have scored that docking job as a first run freshman from a gravity well. It was only when the blast charges went off that she realized this wasn't another freshman inner ring inspection force. It was something far worse, pirates!

Without a thought she leapt across the room and broke open one of the supply lockers. The last thing she wanted to do today was die from exposure. Inside she grabbed two helmets and slammed the door closed. Turning around she was greeted to a gun pressing into her temple.

"Don't move!" shouted the guard. She swore she could hear the firearms capacitor charging as he nervously pressed the gun to her head. He was clearly freaking out as he was trying to unsuccessfully subvocally communicate with his crew mates.

"Are you going to shoot me before or after I save you from exposure?" she asked looking down at the helmets in her hand. Slowly she raised one and held it up to the guard. He hesitated, unsure if this was a ruse to throw him off.

"How about I make this easy for you," she said carefully lowering the helmet. "I'll set it on the ground slowly and back away. Then you can pick it up and safely put it on."

"Ok, yea … that … that sounds good," he stammered.

As she bent down to set the helmet on the ground she could hear it. The distinct sound of feet quickly shuffling toward engineering. That shuffling sound a space born crew would make living in irregular gravity, never fully trusting physics. She only had a few seconds to act.

"Do you hear that?" she asked trying to draw his attention to the aft door.

"Nice try. I'm not falling for…"

Before he could finish his sentence she tossed his helmet toward an aft storage locker to draw his attention. At the same time she tucked hers into her stomach and rolled toward the bow. Just as she stopped rolling in front of the exit the door slid open, sensing her approach. She'd gambled successfully that the security overrides the inspection crew had on her computer would be preempted by the prevailing emergency.

The guard however wasn't quite as green as she'd hoped. While he was initially distracted, he'd quickly seen through her ploy and had crouched preparing to fire on her from a better position. He was however greeted to a loud clank outside the aft engineering door. The distinct sound of a blast charge being placed on a 4 inch thick pressurized door meant to prevent cascading depressurization of a ship. Rather than fire he turned slowly and began subvocalizing something, she assumed to his crew.

That was all the distraction she needed. She shoved her helmet on and launched herself through the bow door. As she cleared it she subvocalized a command to her ship to both lock down engineering and cut the ships gravity. Even though everyone involved was trained in zero-g maneuvers she knew most of them would be caught off guard giving her she hoped a few seconds advantage.

NaNoWriMo Midpoint

So I’ve made it half way through National Novel Writing Month. How am I faring you ask? Well I’m behind the targeted goals but extremely happy with what I’ve written. I should be at 26,000 words or so around today but I’m actually only at 10,300. That’s 10,000 more words than I had two weeks ago. With a full time job that’s crazy busy, three awesome kids, and a wife I’m ecstatic with the progress I’ve made and really excited with how the story is evolving.

I’m about 22,500 words into the overall story line which is crazy to think about. I have ideas for turning it into a series but that all depends on how it works out I suppose. The story ideas and plot twists have been really coming at me the more I write. I had an outline I wrote over the past year and then refined before NaNoWriMo and I’ve been adding a ton of great ideas to it as I write. Those words don’t count do they?

I’ve been writing mostly using Ulysses on my iPad but from time to time I launch it on my Mac as well. It syncs via iCloud to both machines which makes for a seamless workflow. I’ve also setup a Dropbox and git backup of everything I write. You can never be too sure and the backup nerd in me needs to make sure I’m covered in event of a disaster.

Back to writing!!

Word Count: 240

The Same Yet Different

How many different ways can I write about a similar scene to offer different ideas, angles, and perspectives? This is an exercise in engaging and pulling the reader into a situation that’s similar yet complete different.

The alarm gradually pulled him out of a deep sleep. Groggy from working late the night before, he fought the pull of a new day. Slowly reaching to where he thought the alarm was he instead knocked over his cup of water. Swearing at not only the water spilling onto the carpet but at how cold the room was he quickly pulled his hand back under the warmth of the covers. Gradually he realized the alarm was still warning him of the cold. No wait, it was awakening him, that’s right he had to get up. Finally fighting the siren song of sleep he regained full consciousness and reluctantly reached over and turned it off.

The alarms incessant beeping yanked him out sleep. He felt like he’d just put his head on the pillow and was reluctant to move at first. He closed his eyes tighter refusing to admit the new day was here but that blasted alarm continued to drone on. Finally after far too many beeps he reached into the cold room to end the clatter and was greeted instead with a tipping cup of water. Slowly it spilled it’s contents onto the floor. Pulling his arm back to the warmth he could hear the water dripping on the carpet almost like a melody in sync with the beeps. Finally after the duet ended he reached out and put an end to the horrible noise.

It all came down to this, man verse dragon. He’d set his trap and now he was waiting silently for the perfect moment to trip it. Suddenly he heard something, a piercing noise he’d never heard before. Was it the dragon? No, that was no dragon he’d ever heard. Suddenly the chamber grew cloudy and the noise grew louder. Fearing his end was near and that he’d lost the upper hand he reached to trip the trap. A last ditch attempt to get even with the fiery beast rewarded instead with water. Water?

Slowly he awoke to an unfortunate realization that he wasn’t in a cavern after all. He was instead in his bed and had just dumped water all over his end table. That noise, not the infernal dragon he’d longed to kill but something far worse, his alarm clock. Reaching in disgust he turned it off all the while wishing he’d be cast back into his dreamy final battle.

There it was, the alarm. He knew it was coming at some point he just wasn’t quite ready. He’d been up all night unable to sleep with his mind doing circles. No matter what he just couldn’t figure out how to start this new chapter. He hit dead end after dead end, tossing and turning tossing and turning. Finally admitting defeat, the bell now literally tolling on the end to a fitful nights sleep he reached to turn off the alarm. Instead of being given the end he longed for he was instead given a splash to the face. Well actually a splash on the floor from his cup of water on the end table. It did however give him a great idea for the new chapter, water! Quickly reaching to shut the alarm off he jumped out of bed to start writing this down before it washed away.

He laid there staring at the clock waiting for it to ring. Not quite sure what to say. Always a loss for words now wasn’t the time to botch the morning after. He’d never had a one night stand before but he’d seen enough sitcoms to know what not to do the next morning. Forgetting her name ranks right up there with sneaking out of bed.

Suddenly the alarm started beeping and she began stirring beside him. As he reached for the alarm she turned and put her arms around him causing him to jump and knock the water over. Why was he so darn ticklish? He turned to look at her and smiled, she smiled back and pulled him closer. Slowly he leaned in to kiss her and used his free hand to throw the alarm across the room. This was how to start the morning.

The alarm beeped every 1.5 seconds. He timed it as just as he timed everything in his life. He’d slept 10 minutes short of 7 hours. He woke 3 times, once to use the restroom which took precisely 1.5 minutes. As he reached to shut off the alarm, always on the 5th beep, he instead knocked over his cup water. Stunned he wasn’t sure how that had happened, the cup wasn’t usually there. He froze as he watched the water fall to the floor it’s pattern random. He hated randomness. He’d lost track of the count, how many beeps was that? How long had he waited? Slowly he reached and shut the alarm off mid beep instead of in the crisp controlled silence between the beeps. Still staring at the water mark growing on the floor he suddenly realized the temperature in the room was off from its usually precise 70 degrees. He sighed and muttered quietly under his breath, “Chaos! Absolute chaos!” He knew this day was not going to go well at all.

Word Count: 906

Doing Circles

Sitting here watching my kids enjoy their Christmas presents going round and around on their scooters and plasma cars, I can’t help but think about the parallels to life’s journey. Round and around they go, faster and faster, trying new tricks and seeing who can beat whom. One cuts off the other, stops short to cause a near collision, or they out maneuver the other by speeding past on the inside of a turn. Frustration ensues at being bested and the aggressive circling continues. It’s a familiar journey they’ll be following throughout their life journey.

I really hope it won’t always be a journey of endless circles for them but as most people can attest it feels at times like there isn’t much progress or change. That circle takes it’s toll and when we’re just about to hit cruise control we’re sometimes rewarded with an outpouring of successes or new doors open. Unexpected doors with new opportunities and challenging new circles and tricks to learn.

We start by going to school year after year wondering when it’ll end only to be rewarded with the floodgates of college life or a career. Then we step right into day after day at a job and after working hard we might find ourselves at a new crossroads from time to time. A point where we can take a new path, a new set of curves and challenges or continue on the familiar well worn path we’re comfortably on perhaps with some upward movement.

The question then becomes, do we take that inside track and cut to the inside scaring (and angering) some people? Stop short and cause a crash? Or perhaps we continue the comfortable circle focusing on other things?

Let’s face it, we all find ways to pass the time. Anything from our endless hobbies of golf, tennis, cycling, gaming or our seemingly endless “keeping up” with the latest technology or news. These things are all designed to release ourselves from our responsibilities, have some fun, let off a little steam, or divert our attention from the drudgery … an escapism from reality or that endless circle of life.

Some people catch a glimpse of or find that perfect path that’s both fun and rewarding. They’ve mastered that cut to the inside to set themselves up for exactly what they wanted at the right place and right time. Careers that fit their personality and lifestyle without compromise. Sometimes we can even convince ourselves that we’ve found that perfect path only to be forced back to reality soon thereafter.

Does the rarity of that pathway mean we all should accept our places and just “escape” when we seek release? Stop searching for that opportunity or for that career that fits our personality? Should we accept that it’s rare enough that we could spend forever searching and never find it, destine to doing circles with everyone else?

Or perhaps we shouldn’t look at it as a rare and hard to attain goal because perhaps we’ve searching for it wrong. When you first start to ride that scooter or that plasma car how do you learn it? Usually by listening to people in your inner childhood circle, likely your parents or friends. That’s probably fine for something like a scooter but are your parents or friends the best people to teach or guide you about a career path (like writing) if they themselves have no experience with it? If your English teacher is a failed author perhaps they’re not the best or only person who should advise you on what your writing potential is or isn’t.

Seek out someone who’s a success or inspiration in their circle. Someone who’s learned to cut to the inside or do some amazing tricks on their scooter. For authors maybe they’ve managed to write a book every few years or are accomplished writers. Maybe they’ve released their own software or started their own successful companies. It doesn’t matter where you look just make sure you look to the right people and most of all you look inside yourself.

In the end each person takes their own path along their life journey. By a certain point, usually some time around high school, they’ve either become focused on reaching for their dreams or they’ve diverted their attention to something else entirely. Depending on who guided them along the way this dream journey can happen sooner rather than later or not at all for some people.

Don’t settle or get diverted along your journey only to find yourself doing circles years later. Don’t be distracted from your dreams, no matter your age or position in life it’s never too late to realize this. Think hard about what you love, what inspires you, and what makes you excited and then do those things often. Being sure that you find ways to make those things central to your life and your journey means you’ll do less endless circles and more exciting tricks with your friends and family.

Word Count: 832

Telling Stories With Kids

How do you teach children creativity and the art of story telling? With the digital era firmly enshrouding their lives at a very young age it’s becoming harder and harder to get and keep their attention. In spite of this hurdle it’s so important that we allow kids to be kids and to be as creative in their play as possible. The problem as I see it is that so much of their “creative” play is just children repeating what they see on television, social media, and from shadowing what their friends are doing. How then do you really teach them creativity and to not just plagiarize or regurgitate what marketing firms bombard them with?

This site is my attempt to not only hone my craft of story telling but to also put into words my thoughts, ideas, and random revelations along my journey. The above observation and my reaction to it may not be typical but the result was certainly interesting. On to where I was going with this …

I was sitting down one night reading to my children when I was struck by how limited the stories were that I had been reading to them. It’s no fault of my own, I to am influenced by marketing, top ten lists, and recommendations by friends.

When I was reading the books I realized that my kids weren’t themselves being creative. They were reading a story who’s purpose was usually to teach them a lesson or perhaps to educate them about something new. What they weren’t doing though was thinking for themselves.

I know my kids are young and I’m not expecting them to narrate to me the next great american novel but I would love for them to be involved in creating, asking question, and discovering right from wrong rather than just consuming everything. So to start them off I decided to read the next book to just near the end and then close the cover. After the shock wore off I asked them “what happened next?” Given that we read to them each and every night they were able to quite surprisingly narrate the remainder of the story almost word for word. It was scary actually, I’ll admit it, but impressive still.

I then challenged them with another question … “and then what happened?” A simple question but they weren’t sure how to react to it at first and responded with “nothing, that’s the end”. Continuing on I said “But that certainly can’t be the end. Character X didn’t just disappear did they? Wouldn’t they keep on chugging along or go on a new adventure to meet some friends right?” They didn’t know what to say to this so I helped them along a bit and made up a new extended ending.

They were smiling from ear to ear and laughing so hard. They hadn’t imagined that something else could happen and certainly not something like that. The next night when I read that same story again (on purpose) they wanted the same ending but I didn’t give in. “I don’t think that’s what happened this time” I said. This time I made up another completely different ending and again they were so excited they were practically bouncing out of their beds. They actually added some bits of their own to the story which was great.

To see the excitement and spark in their eyes as we were doing this was amazingly rewarding. Something as small as making up a new fun ending to a previously stale story changed story time into exploration time. Within days we weren’t even using books any more but were instead making up entire stories from scratch.

I won’t deny that their stories often have a similarity to something they’ve read or heard me tell but as they become engulfed in their own storyline and relax into their own voice things change. They start to show their creativity and ingenuity making up entirely new characters, words, worlds, and plot twists.

You could argue that there are no new stories being told any more. That they are still just regurgitating things they’ve already experienced but I’ll argue otherwise. When they’re sitting there consuming media they react and absorb things differently than when they’re creating that content. The spark and excitement is present when it’s their voice, something that’s never there when they’re just consuming.

So my suggestion to you, get out there and tell a story to your children. Their age doesn’t matter … just tell them something they haven’t heard before. Make it something from the heart, something exciting and creative or perhaps an interesting life lesson you’ve went through. Instill in them the passion you have for experiencing life, telling stories, and enjoying the art of the spoken word.

Word Count: 795

NaNoWriMo 2015

I wanted to write a posting to let folks know what I’ve been up to. There’s a big gap between my last writing and today. Trust me when I tell you I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve actually been working furiously on researching, outlining, and preparing for NaNoWriMo.

For those who aren’t familiar NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s always the month of November and has been going on for years. Traditionally you set a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. That’s a lot of words but that’s the point. No editing, no proofreading, just writing.

I’ve written a few science fiction pieces I really liked but never published. I was sitting there brainstorming a topic to write about during NaNoWriMo and it all came rushing at me. A story line, characters, and plot twists. I still have a few holes to fill and things to research but it’s pretty exciting. A perfect time to see what I can make of it.

I know I have a lot to learn but what better way than to write? I’ll still be writing here quite often to explore other outlets, refine my writing, and to work out ideas. I’ll also be posting some of the chapters as I finish them in a hopes of getting feedback.

Word Count: 222

Expanding Into Long Form Writing

I’m sitting here on the morning train frozen from head to toe waiting for these heaters to work their thermal magic. Even with the freeze I’m still lost in thought. Yes, I’m wondering when my body is going to regain some feeling from standing in the unusually cold weather waiting on this bloody train but I still have other things on my mind as well.

I’ve really been enjoying writing here and the more I write the more I want to write, it’s a vicious cycle. I find myself wanting to continue writing more each on of the stories I start. It’s difficult at times to wrap up my thoughts into around 750 words. I know that isn’t the point of writing, to just do 750 words. I do however want to tell a story, control the narrative, and do it within a controlled time period. I want to use it to improve my writing while at the same time complete something. To me the deadline of 750 words is doable and fits my work life balance for now.

If you’re like most people, myself included, you enjoy the thrill of finishing something as much as you enjoy starting something anew. Each leads into the other, a continuum of past goals met and future goals set. That rush you feel when you wrap up something you’ve been working on is both sad and rewarding on many levels.

It’s sad because you put so much energy into the writing. You worked hard to ensure it’s perfect (within reason) and that it’ll stand on its own. You’ll miss the comfort of it, the flow of it. Even though it’s only 750 words it’s still your creation, your spark, your idea that flowed into those words. Those words that created a new world, a new future, a conspiracy to unravel and now it’s done. I guess it’s called a “short story” for a reason.

It’s rewarding because the draw of that clean slate spurs the creative juices. Anything is possible starting fresh and you long to just put it all out there in its raw glory. The polish isn’t yet necessary, just lay down the foundation and build up from there. The skies the limit!

So what’s a writer to do? Well first and foremost I’m going to write because without that I’m just spamming nonsense. I am however going to take a few of the stories I’ve already started, and some I haven’t yet, and expand on them over the coming months. I’ll fill in some of blanks and attempt to build on the story lines.

I’m doing this for multiple reasons. First and foremost because I’ve enjoyed the characters I developed and I found myself wanting to write about them again the next day. I forced myself not to however because I wanted get comfortable redirecting the mental juices into new places. I don’t want to get stuck in a mental rut beating an already dead narrative.

The second reason I want to continue these stories is because while I do enjoy writing short form fiction I’d also like to learn how to write more long form. It’s a different creative process that requires you to keep more pieces moving together. A balancing act of building the characters, moving the storyline forward, and keeping it interesting.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve never written anything long form in my life. College term papers for literature class don’t count as long form sorry. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but as I mentioned in my opening posting it’s not something I ever thought was practical let alone possible. After writing these last few weeks I now know that it’s not just possible, it’s definitely something I can do.

I’m not making any leaps here, I know that I have much to learn and that I’m just starting to get my footing here. I’m just excited and felt like pouring some of my energy into a writing to explain why you might see some faces and story lines a little more often. I’ll try to link back to other parts of the story when appropriate. I’m also planning on adding each of the story lines to categories for quick access.

My challenge going forward is how to continue hitting my daily goal of at least 750 words while at the same time moving a story line forward without butchering it. Remember, I’m not spending as much time editing my daily writing because the goal with this site is to just write however imperfectly.

Word Count: 763


Shane had never seen the sun so bright and clear. It’s disk cast a crisp circle in the morning sky highlighting the reds and yellows of the horizon. As he sat on that bench taking in the beauty for the first time he couldn’t help but think back on the events leading him to that morning.

It had only been a month since he’d learned about the Upside. As he turned to look at his wife next to him calmly grasping her cup of tea, the steam rising to join the morning air, he knew he had made the right choice, the only choice. While dangerous at times and filled with deceit and pain he now stood on the cusp of something truly amazing, a new world. He didn’t know if he’d survive another day or week in this foreign place but to see things like the sun rising over the horizon made him think that for the first time in a long time anything was possible.

“I love you,” he paused and smiled at her. “I will always love you. But just promise me one thing.”

“Anything,” she said as she placed her head onto his shoulder.

“Promise me that you’ll never shoot at me or hold a gun to my head again,” he said. She leaned back smiling and gently punched him on the shoulder. Looking into his eyes she leaned in and kissed him. “I promise,” she said as she leaned into him looking again at the sun as it rose through the morning mist.

“How did they keep the Upside from us for so long?” she whispered. “How were we so blind to the world around us that we didn’t realize there was something more? Something beyond the ceiling of those blasted caverns.”

“Religion and years of lies are powerful, they can blind anyone to the truth,” he replied. “If we hadn’t stumbled upon the book we wouldn’t be standing here today.” He looked down at the book he was grasping so tightly in his hands. He slowly turned it over in his hands, gently brushing his fingers over its surface. The cover was torn and weathered so much that the title was barely legible. The lettering was distinct and beautiful, written with a precision and craftsmanship that was beyond that of his people.

Shane thought back to when he’d discovered the book …

Climbing upward was always forbidden. You’ll get too close to the gods the priests told them. You’ll be burned by the liquid fire the ancients sent to remind us where not to tread. He never really intended to cross the river of fire, he used to come here as a kid to see what it looked like. Now he just came here to clear his head, to ground himself after a long day of smarg hunting or plowing in the fields.

As he made his way along his usual route he was thinking of new ways he could outsmart those bloody smarg when he spotted it. He hadn’t ever seen it before, it was something new, something unusual. There on the other side of the river of fire was a container. Just inside a small cavern he’d never noticed he could see it. It’s surface was reflecting the light from above. As he looked up he noticed there were more Lichen above here than usual. Perhaps Fungi, the God of the Lichen was testing his dedication.

Or perhaps the Gods were showing him this to aid him in battling the smarg? He had to know what was in it. It obviously was put there for a reason. The gods wouldn’t have lightened this spot on this day had they not wanted him to see it. It was a sign he could not ignore.

Over the years Shane had thought of many ways to cross the river of fire but had never once tried, he knew better. Today was his chance to put his best idea to the test. He didn’t waste any time sprinting to the largest boulder he could find. Then he began to use his walking stick as a lever to roll it. It was a delicate operation and took many hours to navigate the boulder to the right position.

His idea was a simple one. Roll the boulder into the river and then use it as a platform of sorts to leapfrog to the other side of the river. He didn’t need much space but he knew he only had seconds to get to the other side and back before the fire from the river overtook the boulder. He only had one chance to perfectly roll and place that boulder.

He exhaled and quickly said a prayer to the God of the Lichen thanking him for this challenge and hoping he was worthy of the gift. He leaned into his walking stick and pushed with all of his might to start the boulder tumbling down the small incline. He needed enough force to roll it part of the way in but not so far that he couldn’t reach the boulder.

His timing and pressure was perfect as the boulder stopped precisely where he wanted. With little thought he was sprinting down the hill as the boulder was just coming to a rest and beginning to slowly sink. He skillfully leapt onto the boulder and with all of his strength and momentum he threw himself up and forward toward the bank on the other side of the river.

He landed hard wincing in pain as the stone tore at the flesh on his side. He didn’t have time to feel the pain however because the clock was ticking. He sprinted toward the cavern slightly staggering from the effects of the harsh landing. As he approached the cavern his heart was pounding and his hands were shaking. He reached for the container hoping to grab and go, sprinting back for the return leap. But what he didn’t plan on was what happened next.

As he grabbed at the shiny satchel resting there just inside the cavern entrance something fell from it. Stumbling to a stop and losing all momentum he reached down to quickly grab whatever had fallen. As his hands touched the surface he knew this was something special, an ancient book.

It’s surface was weathered and torn and it was made of a precisely cut and amazingly thin parchment. On its cover in the most beautiful script he’d ever seen read were the numbers … 1984.

Word Count: 1085

A Simple Choice Of Life Or Death

She never knew what it truly felt like to agonize over a decision until now. Life or death? It seemed like the simplest of questions but at its core a twisted quandary. Life for her meant the death of others, people dear to her. There was the also grim alternative which was equally daunting.

“Why can’t you we pretend this didn’t happen?” Avril said to the man standing ominously in front of her. “I promise I won’t tell anyone. I didn’t see anything. Please don’t make me choose,” she begged as she nervously balled her hands into fists.

“You’ve passed into The Order of the knowing. The Order requires that its members remain controlled and in check. We don’t prevent anyone from entering but neither do we encourage or even disclose it’s existence,” said the man. “Knowledge of The Order cannot be unlearned and as such it’s members must sacrifice to retain the knowledge. You must choose,” he said, the words echoing in the hall. “You must choose!”

Hoping for a loophole or any kind of alternative she continued to beg him, “Is there anything I can do, anything at all? I can’t choose. I won’t choose. I didn’t realize the consequences of learning.” She squatted down to the ground, put her arms around her legs, and began to sob all the while shaking her head no.

The man slowly walked to the other side of the dimly lit room and gently touched something on the wall. The entire wall flashed to life, it was actually a huge screen and it brightened the entire space. On it was her life spelled out in excruciating detail. Photos, videos, emails, tweets, private writings … everything was there. “How did they get all of this,” she thought to herself. It didn’t seem practical or even possible. It didn’t seem legal or moral.

She nearly leapt off the floor and screamed at him “Where did you get all of this? What right do you have with this information? These are my private moments and thoughts, you have no right …”

He cut her off, “No right? No right? We never asked you to save your information online. We never forced you to share everything you were doing.” He was now walking toward her pointing his finger at her his voice getting louder. “Privacy isn’t a right when it comes to electronic media. What we have is nothing more than what you’ve chosen to save electronically, everything you’ve ever chosen to save. Your privacy is only as real as your ability to defend and protect it.”

He was now standing directly in front of her. His presence was foreboding and she could now feel the heat of his breath on her face. The room suddenly felt cold or perhaps it was just Avril entering shock. How could she have not seen this coming? Why had she exposed everything she had ever thought and felt? Every relationship she had ever had, every idea or nugget of indiscretion. Why?

“But this doesn’t really show anything,” she said. “All you have is a bunch of random electronic noise stolen from me.”

He chuckled and turned away from her. Suddenly he made a small wave like gesture into the air with his hand. On the screen a majority of the information faded and to the front came the truth. She knew it was there she just didn’t know how they captured it or how they weeded through all of the other noise to find it.

“Do you think we’d collect the information without having a means to use it?” he said as he turned again slowly. Now grinning at her he continued, “Do you think we don’t know the path required to discover The Order? While not all paths begin the same their journey has much in common. Your path while longer than most has brought you here. You must now choose.”

“Why?” she stammered. “Why must I really decide?”

“If you didn’t choose then how would we control the information? How would we prevent you from telling people about The Order? The only reason that society has existed as long as it has is because of The Order. The Order ensures there is the haves and have nots. The Order ensures there is a ladder to climb, a bottom to hit, a middle to become comfortable within. Without The Order society would recede into chaos, uncontrolled entropy that would throw us into the Stone Age again.”

He was now smiling at her as he said “You do understand the why, I know you do. You must now decide. You choose to die and they all live, everyone you know and love, no one the wiser. Or …” he paused. “Or you choose to live. Your silence about The Order protects them but even the smallest blip,” he waved back at the wall and the path glowed brighter still. “Even the slightest hint that you’re sharing information about The Order or the path and they all die, everyone.”

He sighed and then glared at her. “I will ask you one more time,” he said. ”Avril what is your choice, Life or Death?”

“You’re asking me to choose between freedom of life OR the freedom of speech?” she said. “That hardly seems like what our forefathers had in mind does it? One or the other but not both?”

He responded quickly and concisely, “You’re free to speak to anyone else within The Order about it or anything else. What you’re not free to do however is destroy those rights you hold dear by speaking of The Order to others. Doing so puts at risk that Constitution we all hold so sacred.”

She knew then that she had only one option. “I choose Life,” she said as she swiftly turned and walked out of the room. She could hear the man talking to her as she left but it was fading into the background. Already she was devising a plan to expose the truth behind The Order, information needs to be free.

They knew she’d try, everyone does on their path within The Order. What they didn’t know was the depths she’d go to destroy them. Their over emphasis and dependance on modern electronic communications to monitor people meant they had lost touch more traditional means of misdirection and subversion.

Word Count: 1056