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The Ode

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster

 

We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.

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Welcome to the Loop (part VIII)

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Vancouver, WA

May 31st, 2020

“We were almost out,” Amelia said, stirring a pot of stew that she had on the oven. Roxanne had decided to pay a visit to the family she’d cheated out of their opportunity at leaving what they called “the Loop”, and discover just what was really going on.

“And then you had to come along and-”

“Tony,” Amelia interrupted, looking at her husband where he was leaning against the nearby counter. Tony was a rather big man and looked like he could get good and angry if he wanted, but it was obvious that Amelia, small as she was compared to him, was the real voice of reason in this household.

“I’m sorry,” Roxanne said, “I didn’t know you were aware of what’s happening.”

“Oh, we’re still not entirely sure how or why we’re here, just like anyone else that’s finally woken up. All we do know is that getting out is possible, because we’ve seen it.”

“You saw someone get out?”

Tony nodded as Amelia fetched a cloth to wipe her hands on at that moment.

“One of our neighbors a block away stepped into a doorway that had no business existing where it did on his home. He never came back out.”

“The Ashbey’s?”

Amelia nodded this time, “He was aware of what was going on, and he found his way back to what we can only hope is the normal time continuum, or whatever you want to call it.”

“But how?”

This time Amelia shrugged, “The only thing we could figure out it that a doorway shows up every now and then where it’s not supposed to, and whoever goes through that doorway just doesn’t come back.”

“But that doesn’t mean-”

“We’re hoping it means getting back to a time where the days roll by like usual,” Tony almost growled. Amelia just looked at him as he turned away, walking off towards a different part of the house as he disappeared around a corner.

“This has been hard on Tony,” she said quietly, “He’s a man that loves order and reason, and at this point there’s little of that left.”

“You don’t know where the next door will be, do you?” Roxanne said.

“No,” Amelia replied, shaking her head, “But so far there have been two doors that appeared in this neighborhood within the last few cycles, so we’re hoping now that another one will show up eventually.”

(to be continued)

There’s a Place and a Time for Expletives

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The moment you read a book, turn on the TV, get on the internet, or even just go outside and listen to people talk there are times when you’re simply bombarded by expletives of all varieties that are used to describe a great many things in our world or to curse them or to simply add on for the sake of fun. Now I won’t be a total hypocrite since I use them too, in times of anger, frustration, or as part of a bad habit that was developed with friends back in the day. But there really is a place and time for expletives and there are moments when you should leave them out of conversation, articles that people read, or simply out of the picture in general.

Granted, they lend a bit of emotion and a lot of punch to certain moments, especially in movies and sometimes TV, but then there are those moments when they’re simply not needed and could easily be ditched for another word that might carry a lot more meaning.

Around children, swearing should be kept to a minimum if it’s used at all.

This is an argument that a lot of people would take up and that many would agree is one that’s vitally important to the social upbringing of kids. It’s one thing to use them, but it’s another thing to use them in the proper context and to know WHEN to use them. For instance if a child swears at their parents the average person is going to dish out a punishment they feel is worth the slight, and in some cases as it was back in the day it meant having a bar of soap jammed in between your teeth so that you could ‘clean your mouth out’. Anyone remember that? In truth, teaching kids about swearing isn’t the best idea largely because they’re usually still developing their social graces and haven’t quite gotten to the part in life when they know when to say something and when to keep quiet.

It’s not necessary to follow up every other word with a swear word.

This is shown in movies and in TV shows quite often and it’s become something of a habit that gets kind of irritating at times. Swearing can add to the story and it can help to develop a character but there are those moments when it feels like an overused gimmick that feels cheap and extremely overdone. Some might argue that they’d rather be around a person that swears all the time since they can trust that they’re being real, but in truth swearing isn’t a sign of a limited vocabulary as much as it’s a sign of someone that has fallen into a habitual method of socialization that doesn’t often allow them to converse without throwing out a handful of expletives every time they talk.

And now we get to my own pet peeve, expletives in writing.

Quite honestly the same thing goes for swearing when writing as it does when speaking. It’s got its place and time and considering that a fiction story isn’t real life it’s usually accepted far more and criticized less. But once again there are places and times that are more appropriate for expletives than others, and in the regular articles one sees on the internet at least three or four out of every ten, and that’s being conservative, will feature a handful of swear words as the writer unleashes their opinion upon the masses. There’s no need to condemn them for their language as they’re being honest, but at times it still seems to be a little much for a simple article. In many ways it feels as though the reader is in the writer’s living room listening to them go on a tirade concerning their opinion over what they just wrote.

It’s not a bad thing to swear in public or in one’s writing, but keeping it balanced is preferable to just letting the words fly free on a constant and continual basis.

No Trust (part I)

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Portland, OR
November 22nd, 2020

“I can trust you, right?”

“How can you even ask me that? Of course you can trust me? I’m actually kind of insulted.”

“Good, because last time you hung me out to dry when we did this.”

“That was-”

“It was about your self-interest and that of your party, don’t try to deny it because you admitted it later on.”

“Okay, so I made a mistake!”

The answering snort wasn’t much in the way of a response but it was given with such disdain that Milton couldn’t help but feel rightly chastised as he shook hands with his business partner, grimacing as Chad gripped his hand just a little harder than usual, as though to make his point.

Today hadn’t quite gone the way he wanted it to, especially considering where the current POTUS was at in the polls. He’d been crowing so loudly about Trump’s chances of retaining his place in the White House that he and many others hadn’t seen the rise of the Democrats and their surprise candidate until it was too late. They’d noticed her of course, but it had been laughable to think that a woman would be able to displace Trump when he’d already bested Hillary four years ago and had made it clear that he’d always expected to win.

As his partner walked away, the hard soles of his shoes making a hollow sound upon the tile floor, Milton eyed the back of his three-hundred dollar suit and wondered if Chad really did trust him to come through on their current agreement. Trump was still just barely ahead in the polls, but his opponent was catching up quickly, far too quickly to be believed. It was as though she was sprinkling magic fairy dust over the people to entrance them and then making their dreams come true some how in a way that shifted them to her side.

He didn’t want to admit it, and he wouldn’t to anyone within ear shot, but Trump could actually lose this time.

And if he did, then Milton was up a certain creek without a paddle.

(to be continued)

Welcome to the Loop (part VII)

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Vancouver, WA

May 31st, 2020

The thought that she’d kept another person, more than one actually, from escaping this strange time loop left her staring at the ceiling as she tried to go to sleep that night, wondering just what it would take to finally realize how to get out of this place and if there was anyone that would be willing to help her. She wasn’t about to go back to that house if she could avoid it, even if they didn’t remember her tomorrow, or the next reset, or whatever.

As it turned out however she didn’t need to wait.

“Roxy?” her mother called, sounding uncertain. This wasn’t standard for their usual evening, as her mother was usually in the kitchen reading a book and her father was glued to the TV watching one of his favorite shows. She felt apprehensive immediately, but also somehow excited.

“There’s someone at the door for you sweetheart,” her mother called, still sounding as though she didn’t quite understand what was going on. “Could you come here please?”

Making her way from her room she then felt her feet moving but didn’t really register her passage through the house until she reached the front door, which her mother opened to reveal the same couple whose house she’d broken into. Fear gripped her immediately as she tensed, but she held it together just long enough for the couple to speak.

“Hi Roxanne, my name’s Amelia and this is Tony,” the petite woman in front of her said with a smile, “We were looking around the neighborhood for a sitter for tomorrow evening and heard from a friend of a friend that you’d babysat for a little while.”

Her mother looked at her with a smile, nodding her understanding as she said “Ah, I’ll leave you two to it then.”

That raised a huge alarm in Roxanne’s mind, though as she turned back to the couple she saw their smiles fade just a bit as they watched her mother walk away. When she was out of sight the woman looked at her in a way that made Roxanne’s blood chill ever so slightly.

“Welcome to the Loop lady,” she said with a grin, “There’s a few things you ought to know.”

(to be continued)

Why the Past Needs to Stay There

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Too many people love to dwell on the past, to keep it close and let whatever happened back then take control and twist and turn them until it’s all they know since the present and the future are behind them. They’re looking backward, progressing forward without seeing where they’re going, and it’s one of the biggest mistakes that anyone could possibly make in their life. By living in the past and foregoing what’s happening in the present or what will happen in the future you’re missing out as you continue to go over the past, never able to change anything but somehow willing to relive the same moments again and again.

That’s not a life, it’s a memory that consumes a person, and it’s what keeps that person from seeing what might be a great life yet to come. There are many ways that we look to the past, but not all of them are healthy, just as many of them aren’t harmful.

Remembering loved ones is great, but many of us know what they’d say if they were still around.

I don’t know about you, but my grandfather might look at me as if I’d gone batty if I decided to sit around pining for him. Mourning the people we lose in this life is all well and good, it’s human and it’s natural. But taking the time to mourn them each and every day becomes an insult not only to their memory, but to the promise that they placed in us the day we were born, the day they first met us, or the day that they became an important part of our lives. That promise is that we’ll go on, and that we’ll keep their memory strong by LIVING, not by looking back and mourning.

Holding onto negative memories gives those that caused them power over your life.

It doesn’t matter if they’ve passed on, it doesn’t matter if you decided never to speak to them again, holding onto a negative memory of someone that did you wrong is self-defeating as it gives that person a power over you that they don’t deserve. People hurt one another constantly and don’t always apologize or even try to make things right. It’s difficult not to hold a grudge, but it’s far easier to live your life by letting go of the pain, the hurt, and the anger you hold towards someone else for something that happened in the past.

The past is a lesson, use it as such.

Whether you’ve had a good life, a bad life, or something in-between like so many others, the past is a lesson to learn from that teaches us what works in life and what doesn’t. We’ll all make mistakes now and again, that’s a given. We’re human and there’s no way around that from a genetic standpoint. But living in the past is a sure way to sacrifice the future, while keeping the past where it is and using it from time to time as a valuable tool is the way that people really go on living.

Welcome to the Loop (part VI)

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Vancouver, WA

May 31st, 2020

She’d found something, but she wasn’t sure what it was yet. There was a door where there shouldn’t have been anything but a simple wall. Finding it hadn’t registered with her at first, but thinking about it now as she woke to another day the mere presence of such a mundane thing was more than strange, it was a small spark of hope that allowed her to keep believing that her theory was sound.

There was a way out of here.

The only problem was that she’d had to bail before the family dog and the family had come barreling down on her, escaping through the same back door she’d gone in through even as the dog had been hot on her heels. She’d had to use a few alleyways and little-used passages to give the dog the slip, but eventually she’d managed to find a way to ditch him completely by climbing a fence and finding a spot to hide until his owners came and retrieved him. They hadn’t bothered to go looking for the intruder at that point, simply taking their pet home thankfully, but she’d caught a snippet of what they’d said to each other thankfully.

“-think she saw it?”

“Doesn’t matter, it’ll be gone tomorrow.”

She hadn’t heard the rest of the conversation as she’d remained hidden beneath a stack of old, moldy cardboard boxes, but from the general tone it sounded as though they hadn’t been pleased. That had set her mind to wandering, and had even made her feel a bit guilty.

Had that door been their way out? Had she ruined it for them?

(to be continued)

A Message to Internet Trolls, or a Ramble

Just bring it

So I’m a writer. That means a lot to me, it means that I have some skill with the written word, that I’ve a skill that a lot of people have but not everyone uses to the greatest extent. But it also means, like anyone that puts their heart and soul on the line, that there are detractors out there willing to stomp on what I love to do and call me a talentless hack……

Really? That’s all of you’ve got? Attacks on my writing, on my person, on my intelligence? That’s all the trolls have to offer? Those of you that sit behind your screen and get paid to hate on other writers and brag about making money hand over fist, that’s all you’ve got? Writers like myself get mocked for not making the big time, not selling my principles or screwing someone over just because I want to get paid. The words like ‘honor’ and ‘integrity’ are mocked because they don’t get a person paid.

Read the words above and you’ll know just how much I give a damn about your opinions.

You’ll know just how much I don’t care if you like me or not. I’ll write until the day my fingers don’t work, and even then the stories won’t end. You don’t like what I write? Fine, move on. You’ve got clothes that cost more than my car? That’s not really that hard, but hey, way to go. You’ve got more invested in this or that than I’ll ever see in a lifetime? Okay, and I’m supposed to care?

Trolls, your opinions are about as important to me as my writing is to you. We live in a world where it’s unfortunate that you do provide a service and get paid for being assholes, but at the same time it’s rather interesting back and forth battle to see who’s the more intelligent between the writer and the troll that wants to claim to be a writer while acting like a sellout for the fistful of dollars they get in return. Did that sound juvenile? Good, I wanted to make sure I was at your level so you could understand.

Now, if you’d like to voice your rebuttal, I mean if you feel the need, just remember…..

Welcome to the Loop (part V)

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Vancouver, WA

May 31st, 2020

Waking up the next day she did everything in an automatic fashion as her mind kept spinning, trying to find somewhere she hadn’t been, something she hadn’t done, and someone that she hadn’t noticed the day before. It was a metaphysical conundrum that threatened to make her head hurt as she thought about each place and what she’d already done or seen. Each time this happened however she did her best to veer off in another line of thought, something she might not have seen yet in her mind’s eye.

There were supposedly an infinite amount of ideas that could be constructed in the human mind, or so she hoped. If there were only a set number of ways that she could leave this place then she might have already exhausted most of them. She’d been as far as she could get from Vancouver in a day, and that included crossing state lines and going to the coast and back. She’d slept outside, she’d slept in different homes she’d found empty at the time, she’d even slept under a few bridges, but she didn’t want to do that any longer since others seemed to find those adequate spots to rest and they weren’t always the nicest folks.

Today she was going to try something she hadn’t tried yet, something that she had actually been too scared to try as of yet since it met forgetting a lot of her morals and going against everything she’d been taught. She was going to break and enter into a home that actually had people in it. Saying it in her head made it seem like a ridiculous and even juvenile act, but she’d done just about everything else and had come up with nothing. She’d picked out the home she wanted to break into and thankfully didn’t know the people, but knew just where they would be when she decided to break in.

The only trick would be getting back out before their Doberman decided to take note.

(to be continued)

The Deeper Anger (part XI)

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(continued)

Portland, OR

Jan. 23rd, 2019

The demon became her weapon in that moment, the instrument of her revenge upon everyone, anyone, that dared to stand in her path. She knew the intent of the angel, he would try to banish the demon, to send Azazel back to hell. That she could not allow.

So thinking she wrapped the demon within her memories again, harnessing the outrageous amount of power that it still possessed at its disposal and sharpening it as she called upon the times that she’d had to explain one bruise after another to her teachers, how she had tried and failed to explain why she couldn’t make friends because she trusted no one, and why she didn’t want to go home sometimes after school. So much of it had been treated as mundane and easily-explained by school counselors and teachers, and yet none of them had even guessed at the truth. These memories and so many more, more than any child her age should ever have, allowed her to wield the demon like a tool, blocking every attack the angel sent her way, battering the winged opponent about like a toy in the paws of a very angry and very demented feline.

It took far less time than she’d anticipated to almost literally disarm the angel, as she watched the divine creature glare at her in confusion and abject hatred. She knew very well that killing an angel would condemn her for all eternity, but she had a ready solution for this as well.

“God, will never, love you,” the angel growled, trying in vain to hold his left arm up with his right. The muscles beneath the flesh had been sundered, and his arm was hanging on by just a few thick bands of flesh.

“No one ever has,” she growled with Azazel’s voice, “There’s no reason to expect it now.”

Reaching down she felt the smooth, worn grip of the angel’s blade, a wondrous weapon that Azazel attempted to avoid, but could not as she commanded him to pick it up. The weapon hissed and sizzled within her palm, but she felt no pain as the demon tried to escape, to back away, to flee from her mind and body in that moment. But it could go nowhere, as it had been caught. Her anger was deeper, darker, and far more powerful than anything either celestial creature could have imagined.

“Do not do this,” the angel pleaded, “Do not let-”

That was all she cared to hear as she rammed the tip of the blade into the angel’s throat, forcing Azazel to twist it savagely as he did, opening a wider wound and forcing the angel to choke and gargle his last few breaths as blood streamed from his mouth. As the demon pulled the blade free the angel collapsed, dissipating slowly as soon only wispy, ashen motes were left of his body.

What now? The demon’s voice was weakened, but she could feel the power it had yet to give. Amaya looked over her shoulder, back at the mainland. The crimson within her gaze burned brightly as she thought of home, and of business left unfinished.

The End

The Deeper Anger (part X)

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(continued)

Portland, OR

Jan. 23rd, 2019

the child known as Amaya began to hate by the time she was four. She hated her parents, those lying, deceitful beings that kept her alive but not much else. By age six she learned that they made money on her, that they collected money from her birthdays and even during holidays when relatives gave her money. They kept it for themselves and acted like model parents, treating her with love and kindness that was as false as the smiles on their faces. Those smiles disappeared when they returned home to their trailer park home. It was kept up nice, but in no way accommodated a young girl growing up. She had to feed herself, bathe herself, brush her hair, her teeth, and dress herself to their liking to be made to appear as a well-adjusted little girl. There was hell to pay if she did not.-

Damn you! the spirit roared, Stop this!

Amaya hated them with a deep and resounding passion but was smart enough to know that she could strike out against them, as they would repay this in kind with their own brand of cruelty, as they had done on a few occasions when they felt she deserved it. She’d had her right arm broken for being what they’d said was quiet arrogance, she’d received a black eye from her father after asking him to help her in opening a jar of jelly, and her mother had even come close to allowing her to die of heat exhaustion by denying her air conditioning in her room during a particularly hot summer. She hadn’t been allowed to open her window, only to sit there in quiet contemplation looking at the bare walls of her room, hating them even more deeply than before. All that had happened to her they’d explained away, and they’d been believed-

I beg you, STOP!

“God’s mercy,” breathed a voice in front of her, and finally Amaya looked up, seeing an armor-clad stranger that looked absolutely beautiful, shining, and regal in his shining suit and with his white, shimmering wings spread out behind him.

She felt more than saw as Azazel, demon that he was, flew from her, or tried to as she latched on tightly and used the demon in that moment as the tool that she’d been seeking for so long, something with which to finally exact her revenge. She might only be a girl, but her anger ran deep, deeper than most hells could contain, and darker than any angel would dare to venture into. She had studied for years now the lore and any and all tomes she could find on angels and demons, and she had laid her trap perfectly. Implausible as it was, a young girl had found the means to defeat them both, and was prepared to do so without hesitation.

The angel hesitated. His mistake.

(to be concluded)