Monday, February 24, 2014

The Bar.

4pm. At the bar three regulars sit and sip drinks. They sit apart. Three or more bar stools between each of them. The leather padding on select bar stools is cracked, exposing yellow foam underneath. Another customer enters and moves methodically to one such worn seat. The maroon padding sighs deeply under familiar weight.
I incline my head to the bartender. Neither of us speak. I let my eyelids fall, listening. Three cubes drop into a short glass. Trickling nectar. The slightest crackling. I inhale, a faint burn. Scotch. Finally soda fizzes and the glass slides across slick mahogany to rest against my forearm. My lids flicker and I thirstily sips. Satisfied, gulps.
As I drink, I listen with one good ear. A cue ball strikes another sphere. I revel in the sharp, audible sound. I enjoy it because it permeates and resounds inside my skull. Many sounds do not. In loudness - bustling, mingling noise -  sounds don’t reach me. I hear them but they are nonsense, a scrambled blur of meaningless racket. I enjoy this bar for its softness of sound. Most nights the cracking of billiard balls is the dominant utterance. And I enjoy the regularity of my visits, how I needn’t to verbalize. Needn’t strain my puny voice to gain what I desire. The bar is one of very few public places I don’t avoid. Most others are loud. Busy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"So long, mister."

I looked at a butt. It was a butt I once enjoyed. Now this butt was like a sagging wedding cake. Spongy, stale and expensive. Jeans covered the butt like sloppy frosting - too thin in some areas, bulging out in others.
"This is not a good butt," I said.
The butt’s owner looked at the ground, his gaze fixed on a trampled cupcake wrapper. I had eaten that cupcake and thrown the wrapper on the floor. Fuck janitors, I remember thinking to myself.
"What do you have to say for yourself? For your butt?" I asked him.
His eyes still clawed at the empty space between his head and the wrapper. He was silent other than the heavy breaths escaping his mouth.
"Why are you still here? You’re not good enough to be in the cowboy butt contest. You won’t even tell me why your butt is so bad," I said.
His head eased up like a rusty cellar door. He focused on a spot of air two inches away from my head.
"I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy. But I can’t rope. I can’t sing a sad song. I can’t shoot straight. Horses don’t like me. So, mister, what I figure is that this ol’ cowboy butt is all I’ve got left," he said in a mournful yodel.
"As far as butts go, it’s an abomination," I replied. "If I ever hear of a terrible butts contest I’ll call you up. But there’s no such thing and I’d never call you. For any reason."
With a tip of his white, crusty hat he turned around.
"So long, mister," he said.
His boots sounded like a forlorn train on the linoleum floor as he left. The screen dour bounced shut after his escape.
"There goes the finest cowboy I ever met," I stated with a grin.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Damn Those Schizophrenic Writers.

Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack…
Hear that, sweetie? That’s the synchronized heartbeats making up your universe - the universe that exists within one of my quarks.
Somehow, I found it, your voice finding me. I’m trying my best to make you heard, sweetie, but there are too many times the voices become little more than buzzes, your universe’s heartbeat a small ache in the back of my head.
Some days - nights, really, as if you wish to never allow me sleep - the pain intensifies and spreads, no longer able to be ignored. The voices rise in volume, drowning out any other thoughts I may have.
Quiet! Quiet, please!
My hands are shaking; I’ve missed a key.
Tell me what happens next, I plea.
Quiet! The lot of you!
Only one can be your narrator.
Sweetie, speak now.
Tell me how you become their savior.
The voices die again, and I can finally sleep, but until that final page, I’ll never have peace.
A twist! I never saw it coming, even as my hands work, possessed.
My narrator was the villain the entire time, and this revelation leaves me perplexed.
How can this be, sweetie?
Have I heard the voices right?
Should I go back and change some things?
Fine! I won’t! Relax!
This universe is only one, and another is begging for life. I’ll get to them later, listen for their voices and universe’s heartbeat.
I don’t know their story, but images come from time to time, when I need to keep my mind on another track.
I hope to have enough paper and time, but universes, honey, is never something I will lack.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Reminiscence, I Don’t Remember

Meanwhile, I sit in a busy coffee shop on the Mexicali border. Outside, locals busy themselves as they dart to and fro past the dusty glass front of the cafe. The wafting aroma of seared taco meat and wilting vegetables are mixed with the smells of belching car exhausts. The chatter of a million Mexicans are lost in the baneful tune crackling out of the broken rockola.
I set pen to paper and reminisce about when I was nineteen years old...

Hair gathers on the bedroom floor and clumps together in the shape of a Ducati. I suddenly recall those motorcycle evenings with him. My hair would always be in midnight disarray, playing catch in the wind for firefly light. The moon doesn’t reflect as marvelously on the marina at any other hour. Ah and cigarette smoke. I used to convince myself I was quitting, but I loved the taste it leaves in his mouth. The burnt iron that tided with every breath. Those nights were mine. When we left the bed and decided to honor the night for a while. Honor it through other things besides fucking and quivering at the entrails of ecstasy. Those nights, as an unspoken covenant, were exclusively for me: belonged, owned, enslaved. Mine alone.
With the bike parked, he would prop me up and settle in his usual place between my legs and stand still. Soft hair feather-slipping between my fingers. His stubble against my cheek, my lips, my naked adoration. He’d have a hard-on of course, but during those hours I was the goddess of the moon, and he would have to strain in his jeans all night long if I decided he should. I relished the part where I take off his shirt and run my hands across the expanse of his torso. And that part where he moaned under little pinches, noises and my tender nibbling.
My nightcap was a final embrace. I would hold him and rest my head on his chest and he would indulge this necessity. In reminiscence, I don’t remember what made me love him so or what makes me love him still. It fell into place. Like the ground, I was simply there. Like the sky, he simply covered me. There were, of course, other things more important than my midnight evenings bathed in moonlight. But they are drowned. Own and be owned, the tender mourning.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"To Boldly Go..."

As mentioned previously, after I am finished re-writing my "first" novel Borrowed Flesh (I am completely going experimental Burroughs with it a la Naked Lunch) I am planning on penning a novelization based on Gene Roddenberry's first pilot episode of The Cage he did for his Star Trek series.
I had attempted for literally months to locate the rough treatment online I had once read in a book called The Making of Star Trek by Stephen Whitefield. I had finally found it. And for you nerds and curious, I have posted it in its entirety below.
My take on the story will stay close to the teleplay with additions that are mentioned in the treatment. I enjoyed the fact that the Talosians are completely alien looking - crab like creatures and not short humanoids with big brains - which made Vina's line in the show at the end more probable. "They'd never seen a human before. They had no guide in putting me back together." The story plot line differs sometime from the filmed teleplay, I like the unused "illusion segments" as well, which I will incorporate into the novel.
I plan on writing the novel in a style as if the reader had never seen or heard of Star Trek before with full character descriptions based on Roddenberry's original ideas (i.e; Spock was supposed to be the first and only alien to serve aboard an Earth vessel), and fleshing out and updating technology. It will be lavishly detailed in description, the Kaylar will be the only major change, from a buck-toothed viking to a large, black furred, four armed gorilla in body armor who will actually talk (well...grunt and snarl in an alien language), other than that I am sticking to the script dialog with the slight updates of "Talos star group" to "Talos star system" and "We come from a planet on the other side of the galaxy" to "We come from a planet on the other side of this quadrant". As for technology aboard the Enterprise, no more dials and buttons, the Enterprise will feature high tech touch screen technology. 
So, here it is, the treatment to The Cage. Enjoy.

“The Cage”
Story outline by
Gene Rodenberry

The U.S.S. Enterprise, cruising towards its next port of call, intercepts an emergency astro-wave sent out fourteen years previously from survivors of a space ship which had disappeared years ago. The message states that the ship had run into difficulty, attempted to set down on planet Sirius IV, crashed. The survivors had since been using fading power, hoping their radios appeals would be intercepted by a passing ship. We get a good look at the workings of the Enterprise as Captain Robert April diverts it to Sirius IV.

The Enterprise orbits the planet, the ship’s electroscopes locating the crashed ship and focusing a picture on it onto the giant picture screen at the bridge. Radio contact is established, and they hear a strange, atonal recitation voice of one of the survivors. Navigator Jose Tyler is a bit suspicious of some of the message, plus the fact that the fading ship’s power had lasted so long. But everything else seems to make sense. Robert April selects a recon party of himself, Mister Spock, Jose, and the ship’s doctor Phillip Boyce, and they step into the transporter chamber. We get our first look at this procedure, too, as it beams them to materialize on the planet’s surface below.

The landing party is beamed to materialize on arid, rocky Sirius IV a quarter mile from the wrecked ship. They move carefully, maintaining defense security, come upon a small encampment containing the few, half-starved survivors who are almost unable to believe a rescue party is finally here. One of these is a young woman, Vina, provocatively lovely, showing so few effects of the ordeal that Dr. Boyce becomes suspicious, and he finds other things that don’t make sense to his medical mind.
At an appropriate moment, we pull back and realize all this is being watched on a strange-shaped televisor screen by crab-like creatures. Although in no human way, they are obviously intelligent and have digital capabilities via six multiclawed arms and legs. The screen goes close up on several of the Enterprise recon party members, finally centers and stays on Captain April. The crab-creature at the televisor controls turns from the screen, using claw snap and chatter for speech, and the other two creatures respond to it and depart.
At the survivor camp, routine recon party security has been abandoned in the excitement of finding survivors. Dr. Boyce reaches April with his warning. April is diverted by the girl Vina who seems to understand those doubts and wants to tell him something important. She moves with him to an odd shaped geological formation and, standing directly in front of him, she suddenly disappears! The entire survivor group and encampment have disappeared in the same moment, and the recon party from the Enterprise stands totally alone, stunned, separated from each other, and momentarily defenseless. And in the same instant the two crab creatures suddenly emerge from a trap door in the rock formation immediately behind Captain April, expertly enmeshing him in a plastic bag of extraordinary strength, drag the struggling Enterprise captain into a metal lined underground passage as his struggles grow feebler and he falls unconscious. Mister Spock and navigator Tyler race there, laser guns out and blasting away at the rock, earth, and strange vegetation which camouflage the entry, succeeding in only exposing a gray metal cap which their laser beams will not penetrate or even mark.

Captain Robert April awakes, rolls to his feet, checking to find his weapons have been taken. He still has his small telecommunicator which has slipped down inside his shirt during the struggle. He starts to pull it out, freezes as he becomes aware his “cell” is enclosed on the forth side by a fully transparent panel and crab-creatures stand outside watching him. He palms the telecommunicator, moves to the transparent wall. Outside, his captivity is creating considerable interest among the creatures; we can hear the snapping and clattering of their claws and external armor-skeleton. April stealthily tunes his telecommunicator until the clattering noises blend into an atonal translation.
The reciting voice makes it clear that April is in a “zoo”, his cage is only one of many that line the corridor outside. The “Keeper” is lecturing the others on his estimation of this sample of protein-life they have captured. The others out on the planet’s surface cannot interfere, since their power and weaponry is of a primitive laser-beam type. This particular one in the enclosure seemed the healthiest and most alert of the lot, the best choice for the “experiment”.

We are outside April’s enclosure, the crab-creatures continue to discuss their specimen. As with the similar creatures who died in the spaceship crash years ago on their planet, the intellectual process seemed as primitive as their weaponry. It was quite simple to bait them in with messages and images of surviving fellow creatures. Apparently they have little ability to distinguish imagery from reality. And if the observers will tune in on this biped protein-creature’s mind, the Keeper will demonstrate.

Inside the enclosure, April has begun the attempt at communication with the crab-creatures. Absolutely ignored, he tries to rap on the transparent wall. Still failing to get their attention, he finds a water container on the floor, moves to strike it against the transparent wall. In mid-motion the water container becomes an odd-shaped short sword, he is wearing beryllium armor, using a shield to protect himself from similarly armed hairy manlike creatures who are attacking him, trying to get to the woman he protects. Exotically dressed, this is the illusion-woman Vina who he previously met at the “survivors” encampment. April is stunned to find himself in this position but cannot shake of the reality of it when a sword cut draws blood on his left upper-arm and he is forced to fight back in defense. A blow from one of the hairy bipeds sends him spinning, and his telecommunicator falls out of his shirt onto the ground. Protecting himself with his shield, he scrambles to regain it.

We are back with the crab-creatures, watching April inside the enclosure, in the same position scrambling on the floor for the telecommunicator he had dropped. The water container is still in his hand, his other arm raised as if holding a shield, protecting himself from the enemies he is fighting in the illusion. Scrambling back to his feet, he continues the swordplay, shouting back at the nonexistent girl to get away while she can.
The Keeper, via the atonal voice, is explaining that this is the planet Endrex II on which the subject once landed and was involved in a similar incident. A female has been inserted into this illusion to demonstrate how deeply these bipeds are moved by danger to their females.
One of the crab-creatures inquires about the small telecommunicator in April’s hand, and the Keeper correctly identifies it as a simple language translator device. There’re letting the subject retain it in the event that they wish to communicate with him.

Inside the enclosure, the illusion is suddenly over and Bob April finds himself back in his cage, wielding the water container like a sword, disheveled and perspiring. All the crab-creatures are departing except for the Keeper, who moves to a sort of desk at the end of the corridor of enclosures containing various life specimens from other parts of the universe. (Theses enclosures are staggered so we see little of the others from April’s location.)
In addition to the water container, April’s cage contains a sponge-like epiloid that can serve as a bed, covered with a filmy metallic blanket; a decorative pool of surging water that has something of a splashing fountain in the center – the enclosure spotlessly clean and bare, utilitarian but not unattractive. There are no visible exits or ingresses, no crannies, no holes – April is hopelessly trapped.
A voice – April whirling to find the girl Vina, now in a metallic dress approximating the filmy blanket, in the cage with him, watching him. An unusual conversation – April, defiant and angry, is not interested in wasting time on illusions which come and go like snapping a light switch on and off. Vina laughingly agrees she has no real substance, that she is a product of his mind, and as such she is naturally attracted to him. Isn’t that the male dream image of a woman, one who cannot resist? And Vina does seem almost compulsively attracted to April, strangely playing the seductress. He tries to ignore her, works with his telecommunicator to produce a maximum radio signal. Vina tells him that they are far underground with a half-mile of solid balsite rock insulating them from the planet’s surface. There is no way a radio signal to penetrate this and give the spaceship a bearing on him. Vina also seems to be fully aware of all the spaceship’s capabilities and systems, the limitations of its power, the use of the matter-energy scrambler by which men and material can be transported from the ship to the planet’s surface, April’s status as commander, and so on. Being made up as she is from April’s thoughts and memories, she knows this and much more. Even secretes about himself he’s never admitted to another human being, terrestrial or otherwise. Then, seemingly annoyed by the fact that he won’t answer, she disappears as abruptly as she arrived.

On the U.S.S. Enterprise, the recon party has returned and reported Captain April’s capture to “Number One”. The resources of the Enterprise are being organized for a location and rescue. In this, utilizing conflicts of viewpoint and attitude, we continue to explore the series’ regular characters. Phillip Boyce, M.D., has made the most accurate analysis of the life below. Mister Spock has fairly close estimations on the science of the civilization, plus observations of the planet composition and structure. Youthful navigator Joe (Jose) Tyler is irritated at the caution of the others, insists on an attack in force, is already utilizing his brilliance in determining in how some combination of the ship’s power might penetrate the planet’s surface to locate underground passages, even permit radio waves to operate through what appears to be solid rock so that some sort of communication can be established.  Lovely J. M. Colt, the captain’s yeoman, is enough concerned with April’s safety that she slips in her duties and draws a rebuke from a seemingly emotionless “Number One”.

The commander of the U.S.S Enterprise is asleep on his odd-shaped bed in his cage. Outside, the Keeper has been joined by another crab-creature, and they hover over a screen watching the sleeping man. Back to Robert April, then the surface of the bed begins to shimmer and change, the covering over his body going from metallic cloth to brocade satin. Then a slim hand reaches in and shakes him. April awakes, finds the lovely illusion Vina with him again. He is lying in a richly appointed bed in a luxurious room. She wears a robe that can only be from the Renaissance period, addressing him as “M’Lord” as she tells him that she has arrived in answer to his request. Despite what April says, she continues as if some romantic tryst had been arranged between them. April tries reason, finally becoming annoyed that he raises his voice, and a pike bearing man-at-arms enters from the double doors, thinking that his “master” has called out in alarm, apologizes quickly upon seeing Vina, exits again. April angrily goes to the window, looks out, and finds the scene of Renaissance Venice, his building a palace at the edge of the old city’s central piazza.
The lovely Vina persists in playing it as a lovers rendezvous until it becomes obvious April has no intentions in succumbing. Then, amused, she drops her Renaissance seductress and tries to accomplish the same through a logical analysis of his situation. Why not relax and go along with the illusion? It’s pleasant, isn’t it? Everything looks real, feels real; the pleasure can be equally real. And he can’t deny this is out of his own daydreams. And it’s a fine one. The more intelligent he man, the more colorful and more pleasant the variety of dreams. Imagination is superior to real life; there is no flesh and blood to be hurt; he can even relax and delight in those secret evil things that lurk in the back of every man’s mind.

April, on the other hand, can guess that all of this is being watched by the alien life that imprisons him, and he damned well will not perform for their amusement and edification. And he is beginning to have some doubts about Vina, is she completely a figment of his imagination? April baits her into talking about the crab-creatures, their civilization and their planet. Seeming to please him in all ways, she explains that the intelligent crablike race had once lived on the planet’s surface but that recurring wars, overpopulation, and exhaustion of the planet’s mineral and vegetable resources had eons ago forced the planet’s scientists to band together and begin burrowing into deep underground communities to protect themselves from the certain destruction of the civilization of the planet above. The creatures who have captured April are the decedents of this scientific society. The surface civilization died long ago, leaving the surface of Sirius IV the arid waste found by the Enterprise recon party. The crab-creatures are advanced far beyond man’s capabilities, gave up space travel long ago as vastly less efficient and pleasant than utilizing the power of pure thought.
April questions this sharply, and Vina admits this has been discovered as a mistake that has seen the crab-creatures lose their vigor and old disciplines; they are incapable now of repairing their wondrous cities and machines. They sit at their televisors, living and reliving experiences and emotions left in the thought records left behind by their forebears. Even the “zoo” is part of this – the cage holding descendants of creatures brought back hundreds of centuries ago from other planets, living exotic experiences and emotions from specimens, too. Thought-imagery has, in fact, become a vicious drug by which the crab-creatures have become incapable of experience and emotion of their own. They have become so totally dependent on the minds of others that it will ultimately destroy the surviving crab-creatures as effectively as war and pestilence destroyed their ancestors on the surface.

Captain Robert April finds himself sitting in the exact same position as an instant ago but now on the bed in his cell; Vina also sitting beside him in the same position but now back in the metallic cloth dress. She is in mid-sentence, adding, “Unless the acquisition of an animal like you allows them to..." She trails her words as she, too, realizes the Renaissance illusion is over, stops frightened. April is not willing to let her stop there. For one thing, she can’t be totally a creature of his mind. He has never seen her before, never even imagined her. Why does she keep reappearing? And how can a figment of his mind tell him things he does not know? His mind contains no information on the inhabitants of this planet. Is she one of the crab-creatures in the thought-guise of an earth woman? Her expression changes, as if by a sudden decision, and she quickly says, “I am real, as real as you are. We’re…well, like Adam and Eve. If they can…” Vina vanishes in mid-sentence as if she had suddenly been taken away before she could complete the statement.

On the surface of planet Sirius IV, a recon party under the direction of “Number One” has brought one of the vessel’s huge matter-converters to the surface of the planet, is focusing it on the sealed tunnel entrance at the outcropping of rock where April was captured. Using enormous force, risking dangerous depletion of the Enterprise’s energy, they attempt to cut through the stubborn metal. It glows red, then white-hot, but stubbornly resists even the maximum force of the converter. “Number One” calls the ship where navigator Jose is in deep computation on ways to look into the planets rock crust. He has gone down one blind alley after another without result. He now wants to orbit and probe with electromagnetic waves. If the intelligence below is using any form of radio, this would distort their magnetic field, give them some estimation of the location and extent of the civilization below.

April is being fed. The Keeper is able to pass material objects through the transparent wall which April himself cannot penetrate. It is a small vial of heavy, dark liquid. To encourage April to eat, the Keeper finally communicates – the atonal voice explaining that April’s chemical processes have been analyzed as completely as his thought processes and that the vial contains a protein-carbohydrate mixture more than adequate for nourishment and health. If April wishes, it will be quite simple to create the illusion that the vial is a banquet spread with whatever food April cares to draw from his memory. April rejects this and challenges the Keeper. Why should he not let himself die of starvation rather to continue as a captive? The Keeper unemotionally recites that this impossible since they are perfectly capable of creating for him the illusions of hunger so continuing and powerful that he would be unable to resist. Or there is the unpleasant alternative of punishment…
April is instantly writhing in brimstone, a sulfurous, smoky hellfire place where flame licks at him from all sides and screams of pain are wretched from him. It only lasts a few seconds and he is back facing the Keeper through the transparent wall. This is a sample from a childhood tale April once read and remembers. There are even more unpleasant things in April’s mind. Does he care for another sample of punishment?
April bargains with the Keeper. What is the identity of the image Vina? He’ll take his food if the Keeper answers that question. The Keeper hesitates, then, as unemotionally as always, recites that April has already guessed the truth. There was a single survivor from the Earth ship crash on the planet surface, a female. They found this specimen interesting, particularly the fact that it responded well to the planet’s conditions. They repaired her injuries and have kept her, waiting for another Earth ship to pass through the galaxy. The U.S.S. Enterprise was baited here by the false radio message so that they could have a male specimen of the same species. Life for April and Vina will be made extremely pleasant, indeed much more pleasant than could ever be possible for him or the woman in any other galaxy or on any other planet in the Universe. April starts to set the vial down, the Keeper continuing, “For example…”

April, in the exact same posture and motion, setting down a china coffee cup onto a saucer. He and Vina are in a penthouse overlooking an Earth city, circa 2049 A.D. The young woman, acting as his wife, is moving to refill his cup and is stating that their friend Varjos Miller has four tickets on the Tahiti jet. It might be fun for the weekend. It’s less than thirty minutes away, and the Federated Park Commission is doing a festival of the old islands outrigger races, fishing, village ceremonies, and so on. During this, Vina’s voice fades under and the Keeper’s unemotional recitation voice is heard explaining that April can live on Earth in his own time, enjoying all its pleasures. Or…
April finds himself in an almost fairy book vine-covered cottage on one of the rural can-farms of Mars, still with Vina, in different garb and background. She is continuing her sentence, saying that the Colonial Grange Society is also planning Barth races and that there will be a fifty mile sled ride down the Great Slopes that evening. Does he remember how they first met on one of these Martian “hay rides”? During which Vina’s voice again has faded under, and the Keeper’s voice recites that April can also live in simpler ways…or he can live in wild excitement…in any one and every one of ten thousand places he has visited or even imagined…
April finds himself on Protos VI, cushioned in barbaric splendor in one of the planet’s eerie rainbow gardens, facing a magnificent feast across which Vina and sinuous green dancing girls of that world dance for him, the long-eared courtiers subserviently bowing and scraping. Vina, whirling in the barefoot dance, makes a misstep, falls, and a giant Protos slave is on her with a whip, viciously lashing, and a courtier is in quickly bowing and apologizing, promising the girl will be destroyed immediately. April, despite his knowledge that this is only imagery, is forced to his feet, appalled, shouting for the slave to stop beating the girl.
And at that same instant he finds himself back on his feet in his cage, biting off his words. The crab-creature Keeper is watching him through the transparent wall. A voice at his elbow says that she is pleased that he does seem to care for her, and April whirls to find Vina standing next to him. The Keeper scuttles off back to his “desk”.
Vina waits long enough only for the Keeper to leave, and she reveals that she is holding a space-boat axe out of sight behind her body. She took it from the wreckage, and been hiding it since. The corridor outside is empty, and if he could use the axe to break the transparent wall, they can escape. The crab-creatures are relatively slow and weak, and they long since stopped carrying weapons. April swings hard at the transparent wall. It gives slightly, he swings harder, the Keeper outside scuttling towards an alarm signal as April finally crashes through with the girl behind him. She screams at him to stop the creature before it can reach the mechanism. April leaps across the corridor, swinging the axe, and destroys the machine. The crab-creature attacks him, and April defends himself, dispatching the Keeper. He and Vina turn to flee down the corridor.

No alarm has been sounded, the “zoo” corridor is empty, and despite Vina’s frantic urging to leave immediately, April cannot resist looking into the glass front enclosures that line the corridor. The first is a shocker – a huge six-legged spider-anthropoid with saber toothed fangs throws itself directly at him, stopped only by the transparent wall. Snarling and screaming in fury, the creature flings itself again and again at April, trying to get at him through the barrier. Vina identifies this as the spider-ape of a Rigel planet group.
At the next, a writhing mass of intertwined, hissing, snakelike bodies with vague humanoid faces and atrophied arms. Another enclosure contains incredibly delicate and elongated winged “angel” creatures, perched on ledges of what appears to be a “zoo” mock-up of a wispy, sky-spire city. And another, mongoose-like rodents, but clothed and weaponed like a feudal civilization, complete with a tiny castle, moat, ramparts, etc. It’s night, oil lamps can be seen burning in the tiny, toy-sized windows. The last civilization April himself has seen before – the intelligent Lemur-life of a Class M planet in the Arcturus system.
At the end of the corridor is a low hatchway door shaped to fit the crab-creature shape. April forces it open, and the two flee down a long tube-like metallic corridor – directly into a group of angry crab-creatures blocking their way.

Back on the U.S.S. Enterprise, navigator Jose has continued probing the planet electromagnetically, finally picks up interference at one point. Probing more deeply, he finds that his instruments are able to analyze it as a feeble signal up through the rock from April’s telecommunicator. Computing rapidly, Jose gets a fix on depth and angle. Sending a recon party will be highly risky – if the vector is a fraction of a degree off, the rescue party can find themselves materialized inside solid rock instead of a cavern or passageway. “Number One” insists on leading the rescue party; Jose demands that he be a member and take the risk of his own computations, Yeoman Colt also volunteers, and Mister Spock is selected as the fourth member. They arm themselves and prepare to be transported down. One of the spaceships technicians is frowning over his instruments, whirls and tries to warn them he is getting some kind of “feedback”. But it is too late. The transporter has been energized, and “Number One” and Colt are dematerializing already. But Jose and Spock remain where they are – for some reason only the women are being transported!

“Number One” and Yeoman Colt arrive inside April’s “zoo cage” sans weapons. And find themselves watching the strange spectacle of Captain April holding the hand of the young woman Vina, both their eyes glazed like sleepwalkers, legs moving as if trying to escape something in a dream. Then April and Vina stop, come back to reality, realizing where they are. The Keeper, alive and unharmed, stands outside the glass wall watching them. The escape has been merely another illusion.
The Keeper is amused. There is no need for additional male specimens so their transportation was blocked off. But the arrival of two additional females is quite welcome. Obviously the specimen named April does not care for the first female, and so he has now two alternate choices.

Aboard the Enterprise, all controls on the transporter has gone dead. Their scanners, communicators, all contact with the planet has been lost. Jose can hardly believe the only answer his computations can offer – that the civilization below has devices capable of using pure thought to warp time and dimension to their needs. The Enterprise has no way to counter this. Attack on the planet would be foolhardy as an ant attacking an elephant.

In April’s “cage” Vina fills April, “Number One”, and Colt in on why they are there. At first, during her five years of captivity, she believed the crab-creatures desperate attempt to attract a male Earth man to the planet was merely so the Earth specimens could have offspring and not die out, adding some new and different Earth illusions to the menagerie. But she has grown to realize there is a deeper need behind all this. The crab-creatures are dying out. Their ability to live other lives, painlessly and effortlessly, completely without danger to themselves, has drained their vitality and courage. Even their creativity. The great science civilization has stagnated; the machinery left behind by their ancestors is falling into disrepair; none of them care to repair it or know even how it works. Their once proud capacity for adventure, risk, travel, and all the things that make growth and life possible, has atrophied away.
The Keeper, watching them through the transparent wall, now interrupts, pleased with their capacity for logic. This, with their high degree of adaptability, makes them ideally suited to the formation of communities on the surface of the planet, a parasite civilization which will exist to serve as farmers, technicians, and even scientists. The crab-creatures who control their minds will mete out illusions of pleasure and pain as it becomes necessary to evolve them and their descendants into a life of unselfish service. Robert April interrupts, pointing out a flaw in all this. The human creature is incapable of surviving in imprisonment. The Keeper disagrees, points out the first and most powerful impulse of life is for survival. Although they will have no freedom of choice, those who adapt will have wish-fulfillment rewards more pleasant than anywhere else possibly in the Universe. Meanwhile, the male specimen April can have any one of the females, or all of them. The choice is his…now.

At that moment, again in mid-word and mid-motion, April and the three women find themselves upon the planet’s surface. The Keeper’s voice can be heard continuing. They will immediately begin guided lives of labor, pleasure, and punishment. Wrong-thinking is prohibited, and the training of their children will be strictly controlled. The crab-creatures will patiently wait the generations necessary for them to build their parasite civilization of trained, right-thinking servants. For the use of themselves and their descendants, the zoological gardens will furnish a variety of plant life and certain animals that will be domesticated. If they will look at their belts, they will find their Laser weapons have been returned so that shelter and tools can be fashioned. Plus their telecommunicator instruments which will provide translation until the science language of the planet can be learned by them. They are completely controlled; there is no possible escape. Any thought of contact with their vessel…interrupted by “Number One” who has taken out her telecommunicator, but falls to the ground writhing and crying out in pain. The Keeper continues that, as they can see, wrong-thinking is not only useless but will also be severely punished. Yeoman Colt, showing an unsuspected streak of courage, starts to say, “I will not…”, also begins suffering an illusion of intense suffering.
It is later, a violet-sky evening, April and the women sitting, waiting, wondering. Suddenly “Number One” realizes she has been thinking of the ship and rescue and had not been punished. April nods, has realized the same. For a moment at least they are free to do and think as they wish. He slowly draws his Laser gun, adjust the setting on it. Vina looks at him, frightened, begins to plead. She has been here so many years; the Keeper was right when he promised that there could be pleasure that exceeds imagination. She has cooperated and discovered this. April has seen only the smallest sample of possibility. “Number One” interrupts, insisting to April, “Now! Before they stop us!” Yeoman Colt, although frightened, also nods at April. Vina throws herself at him, trying to stop him, frantically screaming that the crab-creatures are actually kind and gentle; they can give unimaginable pleasure if you cooperate with them…April interrupts, saying he has no right to force their decision onto her. For them, they prefer death. He has set the gun for hypo-pellet; death is instant, painless…
April raises the gun, aims carefully at “Number One” then finds himself unable to move. A clatter of external skeleton is heard, then April is finally released to turn and find the Keeper and a group of other crab-creatures there, facing him. Strangely, there is something of a sadness in the Keeper’s atonal, reciting voice. They have been probing deeply in his and the other women’s memories, tracing the violent history of their race. April was right; although Man’s history is savage in the extreme, it has almost always been a fight against some sort of captivity, even if death was the price of escape. Intelligent life here on Sirius IV has the same history, but it was assumed unique to this planet.
There is another parallel between them and Earth life. To kill is considered wrong. Their laws do not permit them to be responsible for the death of another creature…even if it means the death of their own civilization. They will seek another solution. If it is the will of the Creator of the Universe that they live, a solution will be found in time. They’re all now free to transport to the space vehicle. An angle on Vina…as she protests. April can’t possibly understand, but she has been here too long, enjoyed the dreams too long. She does not want to go back. And as she talks, we see the slow aging from a lovely, youthful woman to an almost grotesque middle-aged woman, bearing the scars and burn marks of a spaceship crash. Trying to hide her face from April, she frantically pleads to the crab-creatures to keep her here. She is not like the others – she wants captivity. She doesn’t want reality, she wants dreams…please!
The Keeper asks April his wish. Do they desire to take the survivor specimen with them? Then, before April can answer, the crab-creature Keeper intones that he’s read April’s answer and understands.

Aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Mister Spock is working at the transporter’s dead controls, then reacts as the machine hums back to life. Images begin to form in the materialization chamber, and April, “Number One”, and J. M. Colt appear, and step out into the room, alive and unharmed. What they say to each other about hoping this escape is not another illusion doesn’t make much sense to the rest of the crew.
Yeoman Colt, always much the female, wonders which one April ultimately would had picked. April, half-amused at Colt, admits the dream-like Vina was much more eager and cooperative than either the Yeoman or “Number One”. This gets him a sharp look from the otherwise unperturbed Executive Officer, who excuses herself, moving off to take her position up on the bridge. J. M. Colt would probably exhibit more jealousy, too, except for the rank between herself and her captain. Navigator Jose Tyler, always the Latin, is instantly interested, wondering whether or not this “illusion” was beautiful? April nods, stating there is nothing more beautiful than an illusion. Or dangerous. As the civilization on Sirius IV had discovered. When they are under way, he’ll work with Dr. Boyce and the science lab technicians on a report for Earth on the narcotic danger of illusion. By the time man develops the full power of his mind, he’d better be aware of that fact.
“Number One” and the crew on the bridge are standing by for orders. Captain Robert April gives the command that will head the Enterprise back on its former course, leaving Sirius IV behind in the distance. A shot of a space vehicle picking up speed into hyperdrive and…


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pre-Test Jitters

I am preparing to take my first exam today for the TEFL certificate. The first part is that I have to draft up a lesson plan for an English class. It is not as easy as it sounds. Their guidelines are very strict. I went online and studied other TEFL teachers lesson plans, read the ebooks from the school, I have a general idea. I want to do more than cut and paste, I endeavor to actually grasp the concept.
My colleagues in Asia who are already teaching have reassured me that the certificate isn't actually necessary, but it would help on landing a better paying job. And, that's what it is all about, right? Money. Acquiring my ultimate goal of opening a B&B on some exotic beach in the years to come.
My only road block it seems is my mental deficiency of staying on one subject. I plan to rent this god awful room in Mexicali for $70 a month and save enough to relocate to Cambodia, but already plans are looking elsewhere. Why can't I choose? Why can't I stay on one path once I've decided on something? Am I that fucked up in the head? The various doctors I have seen over the years have diagnosed me as been bat-shit insane. Maybe I should take heed. But, I have always rallied under the flag that the best minds, the geniuses of our species have always been equally touched in the head. Perhaps I should just ignore these doubts - which I see as completely normal - and simply go with my gut instincts. It hasn't failed me yet...
Oh, about the apartment and 'Skipper', last Sunday we went to Mexicali and checked it out. It was everything I had expected in a Mexican slum for a $70 rent. Small, unfurnished room, bathroom down the hall used by all the tenants - pretty shitty. However, it is temporary and that is the key. Some place where I can write my next book and rest my head in peace. But, I have to furnish it...I really should attempt to find a furnished room. Ho hum...

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Everything is Permitted

And so, the previous week it had started. I began that TEFL class that I had been going on about for so long. It seems fairly simple, it is just a lot of text book reading and cramming of information. I miss-read the starting pages and spent an entire day reading the wrong textbook - 197 pages. I was highly confused, I didn't understand a word of it. The following day when I noticed I had studied the wrong one, I began a new and it is far much easier. So stupid I can be sometimes.
This transitional housing crap has went on for ten months too long. I am going to rent an apartment in Mexicali tomorrow with the assistance of Skipper, that sea fairing hobo of yore. I just need a year. I year to write another novel (well, rewrite another novel) and save money. A year to dodge the all seeing eye of the government and then skip out of this country for good.
My main complaint of this small community is that there is nothing in Calexico per se; everything - social security wise and mental health wise - is located eleven miles north in El Centro. What a drag it is to take an always packed bus of locals up there. The positive is that I get a higher pay rate because of California's living scale. I now wait patiently on my MediCal card for my meds.
On the writing front, I have begun collating a new and improved version of the Borrowed Flesh novel. It will be heavily inspired - in writing style and look - to Naked Lunch, who'se demented, surreal prose instigated all this madness. Also, I will write a novelization to the pilot episode of Star Trek called The Cage. So, I will at least keep myself busy the following months. Oh, and I will be reporting on Mexicali for you filth freaks, so don't begin your tired sighs of disillusionment quite yet.
Nothing is real. Everything is permitted.

Monday, February 03, 2014

3am Alcoholic Rant

What is it with American expats not being friendly? Living in Mexico has conditioned me to constantly smile and say hello to random passersby, and whenever I do this to other fellow white people, I get a look of "What are you doing here?". It has gotten to the point where I just give other white people I see a "What are you doing here?" look back.
I have a theory that many of us think that we're special snowflakes for packing up and moving to good ol' Meheekoh, and let's be honest here, we get more attention from the local population because we're foreigners. Most people in our countries wouldn't bat an eye at us, so when we see another white person roll past us, we get jealous that they're moving in our own "unique" dream. "Hey, they're my people! Hey, that's my lady that I buy flautas from out of her storefront! Hey, that's my taco stall! Hey, that's my taxi driver!".
There just seems to be a huge amount of "hipster" cred that people seem to lavish upon themselves.
The other thing that caught me off guard is the complete lack of helpfulness from gringos. I'm now accustomed walking down the street and asking for help from random people if I can't find a place or want to know where I can get something. I've done this with some white people in the deeper areas of Zona Norte, Tijuana and I either get ignored, or when people do help they look extremely annoyed.
One would think that running into another American or Anglophone thousands of miles away in a relatively obscure country would invoke instant camaraderie, but this hasn't seemed to be the case. I get a cold stare, and to be quite honest with you, I feel that I relate more to some of my neighbors that I can barely communicate with than some of these people. It makes me want to pack up and move to some remote colonia.
I've realized a long time ago that border towns on the Mexican side attracts sullen, died in the ass grumpy fuckers who have already laid waste to the joyful spirit of their own countries and communities. They've made every other cunt unhappy at home and long to cast their morbid, cynical, pessimistic, sad misery web further afield. I think most of them are empty inside and maybe they know it. They know they're fake, they know they're losers...hence they drink so much and get stupid and blame everyone and everything else.
I'll admit that I've stated many times that I prefer talking to locals than I do my own countrymen. They just seem to care about things that actually matter - family, daily life, etcetera. In America, it's rare that I meet people who like to talk about things other than themselves. Mexican locals are always interested in you and your family, and will remember everything about you down to the last minute detail. Maybe other gringo's have felt this way as well and don't want me moving in on their turf. It's even like this with people I associate with who are Americans. Whenever I make friends with other Mexican people that my associate "knew first", I feel like they become competitive and will brag about how many Mexican house fiestas they got invited to, how many people they know on their street, how many bizarre yet charming experiences they've had, will start trying to correct my Spanish when I'm talking to Mexicans, and will intentionally not include me in large group events that happen between Mexican locals and Americans, and I'm later asked by Mexican friends "Why didn't you come?" etc. I find this ridiculous and don't understand the jealousy, and I don't even think most people are aware they do it. I think that most expats get wrapped up in this bizarre Messiah complex and feel like they're not worth anything if someone is moving in on their people.
Then again, I always remind myself that I have the privilege in the first place of having the freedom to move to Mexico to live a "simpler life". It's a total First World thing that is quite strange.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Plans Under a Calexico Moon

He stood leaning over the railing. He glanced up at the navy carpet of stars as ranchero music drifted in from the surrounding, serene neighborhood. A full moon beamed down bright, bathing his long, lanky body in faded dungarees with a pale luminescence. He was shirtless and held a smoldering cigarette in his right hand. Though thin, he was slightly flabby being sixty-one years old. He had no teeth and his hair reminded me of the receding yet gravity defying coif of Larry Fine of the Three Stooges. He was born from a family that lived off the sea. His father was a fisherman, his grandfather a fishermen, and so forth. His parents had named him 'Skipper'.
A glistening, serpentine tongue writhed across thin, chapped lips. He hacked a smokers cough and rasped, "Now, I know of a cheap apartment building in Mexicali. Really safe. The building entrance has a steel door to the street. Mostly farm workers. Real quiet. Only seventy dollars a month."
Visions of the rat trap where I lived in Juarez for so many years swirled in my head. Same set up. I had paid $120 a month and it was safe and had tolerable neighbors. But, seventy dollars American? It had to be a real dump.
Skipper took a long drag and droned, "I lived there. Had me a bed, coffee maker, Foreman grill." He grinned a toothless, old woman smile. "Them grills work fuckin' great. Don't ever under estimate a Foreman grill." Snorting up a wad of mucus, he hocked it onto the patio's grass. "It was a nice little room. Close to the border."
I took a long drag of my own cigarette and stated, "Wait. Room? You mean it has a shared toilet and/or shower...if any?"
He sputtered, saliva flew from that toothless hole, "Well, yeah, but it ain't like..."
"No, no, no." I said, waiving an index finger. "The past nine months on the road and dwelling in 'communial facilities' have taken their toll. I've been sharing toilets and showers for far too long. I want my own."
"Fair enough...I got it." Skippy agreed.
I thought, But seventy a month. Tempting.
In a flashbulb of recollection, I was reminded of my current goal. I am to remain one more month at the shelter. During that time, I will finish the online TEFL coarse that I'd began and never completed. Afterwards, with two checks under my belt, I will move into Mexicali and attempt to save as much as I can for one standard year. From what I gather chatting online with fellow teachers in Cambodia, five thousand should do it to start, minus air fare. In which I will relocate to Cambodia and jump on the English teaching gig. However, that only being a stepping stone to my final goal - to save money from teaching and open a coffee shop or a B&B. Lofty dreams, I know. But, I will do it. I recently had an life epiphany and decided I have nothing else in the United States that interest me. If anything, this country is like the sinking Titanic, and it's already halfway under water.
I stood transfixed at the splash of stars in the sky. The serenity of it. Out here in the remote farmlands away from the fluorescent glow of the cities, I forgot how many there actually were in the heavens. I took another drag, exhaled, "My bunky - Fred - stated that there were apartments for rent across from Park Ninos Heroes in Mexicali. I'm gonna check them out. I don't require much. I just want a small, furnished place - with my own bathroom and toilet - while I do my business."
Skipper flicked his smoldering cigarette butt into the grass, "Oh, you'll land a cheap place. It's not as expensive as Tijuana or Juarez. I've lived in both of them. But, the city isn't as chaotic. You'll like it."
I recalled that a farm worker named Mario - who recently moved out of the shelter - offered me a small casita behind the larger house of his aunt. I did go to Mexicali to check it out with this Mario character, but it was in such dire repair that I turned it down. I was hoping that Skipper...and Fred...were right. However, I don't know why I am worrying. I have the knack of making any grotto home. Anyway, it would only be temporary.
I thrill at the prospect of this blog switching dramatically from lurid tales of life south of the border to far flung, exotic Asia. Only fate will decide what wacky and strange adventures await these posts...