Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Streets of the Metropolix - Insignia - #3

Just a very short excerpt from Insignia.  I just wrote this and love how it turned out.

* * * * *

They made their way to the through the crowded street markets on the lower levels of the city. These were the low-lying, frequently flooded sectors of the Metropolix where immigrants, run-down mechs, undercover savants, true humans, and other persona non grata did their business. Outwardly, they all looked to be law-abiding citizens but many of the fronts covered illegal or semi-illegal activity that lurked in basements and back rooms. Because of bootlegging, drug dens, human trafficking, and counterfeiting (just to name a few), one could find any service, pleasure or goods in these districts, all under the watchful eye of the XCGen security forces. The corporations weren’t opposed to these illegal activities, especially when they could draw benefit as well. As such, it wasn’t unusual to see a contingent of security guards prowling between the ale houses and taverns of the lower levels or a smartly-dressed businessmech slipping through the moist and grubby streets to meet his lover of choice in an ancient Chinese bathhouse.

photo from:

The markets hawked all kinds of wares, a lot of them reminiscent of old Asia or ancient Southern America. There were stands serving up delicious-smelling street food of dubious origin, stationery that was curling and water-stained on the edges, useless trinkets, odd clothing, bootlegged electronics and after-market mods. Mara tried not to think too hard on where these “after-market” mods originated, but had difficulty ridding the image from her mind of a squirrely True Human ripping a mech’s arm off as he lay drunk in a gutter.  The mod shops were also unsettling, with faded pictures of smiling mechs in the windows and a bone-vibrating hum emanating from the doorways.  She shivered looking for a salon: a similar faded picture of a smiling mech with far too much hair piled elegantly on her head.

Disloyal, Inconsistent, Unstable?

This photo was recently posted on my 29-yo cousin's Facebook page. Initially, when I saw it, I automatically had a litany of snarky responses:

- "Yeah, because love, finding the right person(s) and happiness are so overrated."
- "So what does that make me, disloyal, inconsistent and unstable?"
- "Nah, I'm still looking for the one(s) who are disloyal, inconsistent and unstable. That's hot. Everyone love a bad boy/girl."
- "Wait, when did you get older than me?"
- "That thinking is how late 20-somethings end up in unhappy marriages and early 30-somethings in happy divorces."
- "Yeah, everything goes downhill after 30. If you don't catch them now, you never will."
- "It's good to have goals.  I mean, mine are happiness, success and self-love. But whatever floats your boat I guess."
- "Right, because no one over 30 dates anymore. Yuck."
- "Well, I'm too old to be stuck in an unhappy marriage with a man that's loyal and stable.  At MY age happiness, self-sufficiency and love is the goal now."

I'm sure there were more but I think you get my point.

Instead I said "Just don't be loyal, stable and consistent with someone you don't love or who doesn't make you happy....."

However, underneath all those snarky comments, I have to say that her post really bothered me.  It made me sad.  I mean, is this the type of thinking of my age group?  I know as many of my friends near and surpass 30, they are ALL caught up in "adulting". I swear, in the last couple of years this word has SKYROCKETED in popularity.  Like, if I had $1 for every time I heard this word, I'd probably be able to buy a case of craft beer or something. Probably actually stock my fridge or buy a kegerator....

What bothered me the most about this saying were two things:

1). "I'm too old to jump from person to person" - as if dating around is a). something only young, non-adult-type people do and b). not an ideal life-choice.  Both of these assumptions are demeaning to people who choose to live an "alternate" relationship style even if she doesn't consciously say so.  This is what I have started calling a passive put-down.  You are implying that to really grow up, you need to stop doing certain things.

I mean, ok fine, there are some things you can be too old for: "I'm too old to wear 2T clothing."  Or "I'm too old to stay up all night drinking and go to work @ 9AM without feeling like death warmed over." "I'm too old to go skydiving because my bones are brittle now." But these are all related to ACTUAL physical limitations - size, body makeup, constitution etc.  And hey, if you're 70 years old and can still safely skydive - go for it!

But to be too old to have lots of sex, date lots of people, refuse to settle down?  That doesn't actually happen.  I mean, maybe SOME PEOPLE, just choose that they no longer want to do these things but it has NOTHING to do with being a certain age.  It has to do with their place in life and that's fine.  But don't impose misguided generalizations onto your relationship choices!

Also..too old  @ 29? Dayum girl, it's not the middle ages.  You're not even middle aged yet.  People live past 40, y'know.

 2).  "At this age loyalty, stability and consitency are the goal." At what age? 29?  At 29, you probably shouldn't be saying "at this age" to anything TBH.  But ok, let's just pretend for a second here...I'm 31, does that mean that I'm NOT interested in those three qualities? OR does that mean  I'm NOT those 3 qualities because I "jump from person to person".  Again, this is another passive put-down implying that people who do #1 cannot be #2,  Which is totally narrowminded.

And what's worse, she probably didn't think this hard about this when she posted.  That means that she didn't even stop to consider that other people (on her friends list) might have a different life path than her.  And if she didn't consider tthis about her FB friends, does she consider this about other poeple in teh world? Or does she just assume that every late-20-something girl has the same relationship checklist:

  • Get a boyfriend.
  • Big trip together
  • Move in with boyfriend
  • Move somewhere with boyfriend
  • Buy a house
  • Get engaged
  • Get Married
  • Kids
  • Kids
  • Kids
So, bottom line, I'm not really mad at my cousin - it's not like she's actively being a bitch or being judgy. At least not in this exact instance.  She is just a product of her society where an "alternative" lifestyle is not her choice, therefore it's easier to not think about it.  And unfortunately, it's this passive sharing of narrow-minded ideals that has caused feminism and gay marriage etc. to take forever to catch on and REALLY be established.  AND, because MANY people share this unconscious, judgmental value system, those who support feminism and to an extent gay marriage (in some circles to varying degrees) are considered dramatic "feminazis" and the like.

I haven't quite decided how to approach my cousin (if I should) about this comment because I don't want to be the marriage non-believer pushing my beliefs on someone.  However...I would like to push my beliefs onto her to an extent that she just understands (and maybe even recognizes?) that others out there are not like her but they deserve respect and consideration none the less.

Now...where's my kegerator?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

We Made Them Remarkable - Insignia - #2

Three hundred years ago, human bodies were functional.  Adequate.  They were just as nature designed them. Boring. Then we came in with technology and made them remarkable. – Memoires of A. St. Claire

- 1 –

The mall was a hub of activity at this time of night. The mechanical humming of cold fluorescent lights could make one forget that the sun had long since set and all sensible people were in their homes, their TVs blaring some obnoxious live broadcast. Garishly colored storefronts looked out into the atrium, silently hawking their wares of manufactured diamonds and cheap plastic toys. On one side, a store sold nothing but top-of-the-line sex toys, the cylindrical outlines of countless male members shivering a welcome to all who were brave enough to cross the threshold of their inhibitions. And on the other, a front of a more sinister nature, where tatted rat boys hunched over too-white operating tables offering up the newest in body mod trends.

Here, some juiceheads sat at a table bristling with folds of muscle so large that they barely looked human. And over there, fashion sisters, their frozen smiles and stretch-tight skin the result of too many trips to the laser salon. A schizo trolled the floor in faded hospital gowns, begging for credits or junk or whatever you had on you, deftly weaving between the tables more silently than any mental patient should be able. A pair of security guards rolled slowly back and forth on one-wheeled scooters, their lurid uniforms thinly disguising the mods encompassing their limbs that pulsed with the synthetic rhythm of black motor oil.

In the center of a cafĂ© sat a woman, of only thirty or so, with the chestnut brown hair and olive skin of a mediteranneo, nursing a cappuccino. She was wrapped in black leather pants the shade of an octogenarian’s favorite easy chair, worn in just the right places, and a dingy white tank top under an equally loved leather vest. She carried no weapons here, as was the rule of all serious establishments. Not that it would matter, she thought, casting her sunglass-mirrored eye over to the juiceheads, many were themselves weapons these days. However, it still felt strange, she thought, to be away for so long from her anlace – a rapier that was part robot and rarely ever left her side, though she carried it more for comfort than safety. She tried to glance coolly around the room, projecting the demeanor of the stoic calm one can only manage just before some erratic act of drama.

The twins had told her that he would be here, on this night, getting into more trouble than he’d ever bargained for. She trusted the twins, they weren’t programmed to lie and even if they’d tried, she had other ways of keeping an honest cyborg honest. They lived in the alleys only a stone's throw from the old stadium and had enough street cred to be in the know for just about every interesting pair of feet that crossed their patch of asphalt. But Mara had more street cred, and she’d pulled some strings and flexed a few muscles – the right muscles – to lead her to this frozen heart of commerce in the Sink.

He was only fourteen and somehow much too young to be pulling off a heist of this magnitude. Mara could only conceive of how he’d planned it, how long it had taken him to devise a strategy that would actually lead him to this very spot on this very night. And she wondered even harder how he would manage to get out of this predicament alive. That’s where she would come in, she assumed, though exactly how, she really had no idea. Clenching her teeth, she forced herself to trust that the right opportunity would present itself.

A commotion arose on the second floor balcony and Mara looked up to see an achromatized pipe banister quiver in response to the sound of slapping feet. Size tens, she would have surmised, if she could’ve seen the scuffed boots with the frayed laces that now raced toward the edge. Her vantage point was such that, across the cafeteria, she had an almost perfect view of the long hallway with its custard-yellow walls scratched and faded from years of apathy. An adolescent with shaggy hair the color of sandpaper, was barreling toward the banister, heedless of bodily harm, eyes wild and breath pounding in and out like a bass drum. Following behind, almost unhurriedly, was a rotund, balding man in an obnoxious band T-Shirt from a decades-forgotten rock group. He wore an expression of boredom as if to indicate that this tourist had already seen the attraction and had found it lacking. 

Mara stood up and downed the last of her lukewarm cappuccino in one frenzied swig, gagging as the undissolved sugar crunched between her molars. She froze. The kid had made it to the banister and reached out to it with one desperate hand, vaulting over as if he were at a track and field event. He seemed to hang in midair, his left leg tucked under him, his right thrust out, grabbing at an ethereal purchase that only he could see. The tourist held out his hand where Mara could see a shiny metallic square on the inside of his wrist. He now flipped that wrist toward the sandy haired acrobat and one rectangle broke off and flew with unnerving speed.

The boy’s face changed from an impetuous grimace of rebellion to a frantic O of surprise as his right leg just below the knee plummeted to the floor. The rest of him followed in a pallid heap of shock and fear. The silver rectangle recoiled into itself and a very faint iridescent thread shimmered in the artificial light. Razorwire. Mara whipped her cappuccino cup at the assassin with more force than her slight frame advertised, so that it not only crossed the linoleum desert of the food court, but shot straight up into the face of the tourist, shattering into a hundred unforgiving shards of cheap pottery. 

She rushed over to Samson, for she knew now that it could be no one else, who was curled up on the floor in a convulsing heap, blood pooling around him. Ripping off a piece of her shirt she tied a tourniquet around Samson’s leg, the crimson spreading over it so quickly you’d think it conscious of its own intentions. Then she flung the now-unconscious adolescent over her shoulder, grabbed his escaped body part and began to slip out of the modish jungle as juiceheads, fashion sisters, rats, schizos and even security guards looked on with only mild curiosity as if something like a young vagabond being pursued by a highly trained, but innocuous-looking, assassin happened every day.
Down here in the Sink, the largest of the scrap cities, maimings, robberies and killings were just daily news. You didn’t get into anyone else’s business and they didn’t get into yours. However, if you happened to be determined enough to start a scuffle, then you’d best be prepared to defend yourself or the sociopathic citizenry could not guarantee what would happen to you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Zombies in the Streets - Insigina by Lyndsie - #1

An excerpt from "Insignia".  Original fiction written by me.

* * * * *

Drug use had become widespread in the country, where wayward youth and bored elite alike used pills, liquids, powders and syringes to escape the filthy, stinking, desolate, corporate reality of their mundane lives and shamble through the streets as zombies. To capitalize on this booming market, the CORPs went so far as to manufacture and distribute their own, distilled forms of popular street drugs; for an exorbitant price, of course. –  from the Memoirs of A. St. Claire.

CYBERPUNK sci-fi game city       g wallpaper background
Pic from:

The Sink was a slum city by definition, with trash-filled gutters and rat infested sewers, but the district she was going to was known as the seediest of the seedy, the not-so-secretly named drug-district. It was the favorite haunt of black market dealers of designer, mind-altering substances and where the most whacked-out junkies and hapless addicts came when they ran out of money, but not of life.

This was where she would fence the Trax, a powerful, medical-grade, sedative that was difficult to bootleg and very expensive to buy pure.  Street versions, known as Scum, were often laced with very foul additives such as battery acid, cyanide, ground fiberglass, mercury, frog blood (why? Mara had no idea) and carbon monoxide.  Scum was growing in popularity due to the increasing rarity of medical-grade Trax.  

The dirt bike whizzed down the narrow streets, skyscrapers looming above like over-protective parents, as Mara wound farther and farther into the web of the city. There were few people on the road at this hour:  a lone pimp in a luxury longcar returning to his whorehouse, a scuffed-up sedan with peeling paint idling at the corner, and one brave cyclist on an electric bicycle with his headlamp barely piercing the gloom of a city on the edge of daylight. The skyscrapers began dwindling until the tallest was only fifteen stories high. The streets became ever more clogged with debris: empty aluminum bottles, metal scraps, rotting food, discarded needles. When the trash finally overwhelmed the road, Mara had to ditch the bike in a side alley and continue on foot, picking her way around a dead rodent and skirting a pack of dogs fighting over a sheet of cardboard.

She not only carried her steroidal anlace, but an old-fashioned handgun the likes of which were rarely seen in today's world. She liked it because she could make the bullets herself out of almost any scrap metal and they would be untraceable. However, she carried it mostly for vanity, preferring hand-to-hand combat. Well that, and she liked the effect a pointed gun had on an adversary’s face.

She was nearing the heart of the district now, the alleys overtaken by shanties made from corrugated metal and rotting wood with cardboard rooves. It was in one of these shanties that her contact resided. It barely stood out from the rest, but the thin plume of smoke particles dancing in the shaft of light from the cracked door indicated that she was in right place.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

She Didn't Belong Anywhere

"She didn't belong anywhere and she never really belonged to anyone. And everyone else belonged somewhere and to someone. People thought she was too wonderful. But she only wanted to belong to someone. People always thought she was too wonderful to belong to them or that something too wonderful would hurt too much to lose. And that's why she liked him-- because he just thought she was crazy.”

This is a quote by author C. Joybell C. who, as Amazon defines her, "is best known for her love of cake, especially that of the red velvet nature. She is the author of poetry and literature books delving mainly into philosophy of mind, esotericism, and all other things wise and wonderful."

I have thought about this quote extensively for two years now, wondering what exactly it meant and why it struck me so profoundly.  What is it, really, to belong?  And, is belonging really a necessity of a fulfilled life? Or is the acceptance of NOT belonging, really the key?

For me, I "belonged" to a large interest-based social group for 15 years give or take a few. But then, being part of that group started making me feel bad about myself. Or maybe, it had been having that effect for a long time but I continued to delve deeper and deeper into my involvement thinking  that if I just worked hard enough, I would really become a part of it. However, I was not receiving the validation and recognition that I needed to feel included. 

And it was not exactly the people individually, but it was the institution. So I thought that if I left the institution, I would begin to feel better about myself.  And on the one hand, not caring about the institution anymore was initially a great weight.  Unfortunately, I still really like a lot of the people in that group and miss them.

But, do those people really like me?  Barely any of them have reached out through text, facebook, any other social media, phone call etc. to get together. Few of them have even messaged to ask how I’ve been or say they miss seeing me around.   Occasionally I see them comment on my Facebook posts but they’re not very meaningful. So were all these people just friends out of convenience?

Anyway, my questions is: Did I ever really belong to this group?  I feel very adrift right now and I have been trying to tell myself that I don’t need to belong anywhere to be happy.  However, I am a gemini, a twin, a pack animal and I do need to belong.   I am not happy being all alone, even if that leads to the ultimate freedom. But how to I find some place or some people to belong to? 

It seems like the majority of the people are just looking for friendships because they want something from the other person.  Sex. Play. Companionship. Marriage. Kids. Money….So, how often, really, do people meet someone and go: “that person…I want to hang out with them because they are just so fascinating.”  I have met some VERY cool people that I like just hanging and talking with.  But it is *near impossible* to get them to hang out.  And, no way in hell can I just call them up to “chat”. Everyone is SO wrapped up in their own stuff.   

I sometimes feel like a crazy person here. I mean, I am hella busy.  Most nights after work I just want to go to the gym and then go home and watch Arrow.  But if one of these super-cool people I met wanted to hang out, or come over to watch it too, or go dancing or do anything, then I would 90% choose that person to being alone.  And not because I don’t love me some quality time with Oliver Queen…just saying.

So maybe that’s what the above quote is referring to.  “She liked him because he just thought she was crazy.”  He saw her for who she was and wanted nothing from her other than knowing her. I know…that’s probably a stretch of an interpretation, but my point is still there. How often have you told you’re friends: “Wow, my life is better for knowing you.”  My guess would be fewer times than you should be.