Star Wars videos you need to check out

Star Wars used to be all that I knew about film. Those films, Ghostbusters and the Spy Who Loved Me. They where the films that I enjoyed most as a kid and would watch them almost every weekend.

Why wasn’t I out playing when I was younger I hear you ask?

Simple, I didn’t have many friends.

Now I’m much older. I lived through the disappointment of the prequels. Now with a whole new spate of Star Wars films from the Disney corporation. It’s safe to say that I’m done with the franchise.

I knew I was done with it when I watched The Force Awakens. I saw Rogue One because everyone said it “Was pure class like”, it wasn’t. The Last Jedi was good in that it cured me once and for all with my fandom.

Where the Star Wars Prequels as bad as you thought?

You know, with the Disney Star Wars, my lack of interest, it got me thinking. Where the prequels as bad as all that.

To an extent, yes, as a work of storytelling, the Star Wars prequels aren’t good. The biggest problem that I have with the prequels aside from an overreliance on special effects is that tonally they’re all over the place. For every good aspect, the films have they have two bad ones as well.

Even Lucas was aware of the tone and pacing problems the film had.

The films are great on a technical level. The prequels helped pushed the envelope regarding technical innovation.

I wasn’t aware just how much the films pushed technology forward until this video showed up in my home feed.

When you watch this video, you realise that George Lucas did a lot to help bring filmmaking to where it is today.

Money for old hope

The tonal and pacing problems of the prequels aren’t new in Star Wars. Even before A New Hope, the issues were there. George was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of people who cared about him and the film. They cared enough to fight with him to make the movie better than the sum of it’s parts.

This video shows you how Star Wars was saved in the edit.

Would Star Wars be held up as a cinematic classic had it been released as Lucas had originally intended?

It’s debatable.

What always amazes me about behind the scenes on film is that films are even made in the first place. That they’re even let alone half decent is something else.

In the beginning

This documentary about the making of The Phantom Menace is also worth a look.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched it since I first got the DVD all those years ago. This is a fascinating insight into the making of the most anticipated film of all time.

It appeared everyone was aware that the film was going to suck. People valued their jobs more than the finished result.

The Unsung Hero

Gary Kurtz, the producer of A New Hope and The Empire, Strikes Back died last month. Kurtz is the unsung hero of the original trilogy. He left at the start of Return of the Jedi’s scripting phase. It’s a shame that he did because his story ideas sounded much better than what we got.

Here’s a link to an interview with him that is well worth a read.

Inspiration for filmmakers

There you have it. If you’re a filmmaker and you’re struggling it just goes to show that no one knows what they’re doing. Sometimes that leads to something magical, many times it doesn’t but hey,

Do or do not, there is no try.

When in doubt, cut to the droid.

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Surry gation Anxiety: Complete short story

Date with a Surry

“I have a date. With my surry” Derrick said without warning. The waitress set the drink on the table in front of him.

“Sure,” she replied uninterested, unphased and, unlistening. Derrick looked up; an overhead light shone in his eyes. The shine stopped him from reading the name badge. It prevented him from personalising the interaction any further.

Derrick flashed a brief, fake smile at her silhouette standing over him. She in her politeness returned the gesture.

As she turned to walk away, he finally saw the name Ciara emblazoned on the badge.

She must be new as he had never encountered her before. Ciara, the waitress, walked back over to her till on the other side of the cafe.

The cafe had few people in it, couples. They were cosying up to one another as unending soft jazz filtered into patron’s ears.

The shop floor was expansive, littered with round tables and hard chairs. If there was ever a need, it could seat one hundred, but there never was.

The café’s popularity had waned since it was opening many years ago.

Now the skeleton crew that was its staff did all it could to keep it ticking over.

Derrick still liked the place and was one of the few remaining regulars. Derrick came to this cafe for two reasons; the first was for meeting his surry. The second was they did the best hot chocolates in town.

Derrick looked down at his beverage, the awning of the cup chocked with cream and marshmallow. He thought that they always skimped on the marshmallow, even when he paid for extra.

Derrick plucked a marshmallow from the cup. He held it to his mouth and sucked it from his hand swallowing it in one gulp. He looked at the cream that was making the descent from his fingers to his wrist.

Derrick licked each finger. He had now created a clean patch on his skin. Derrick knew he would have to shower but leaving it another day or two wouldn’t make much difference.

Taking a spoon, Derrick began fishing out the clumps of grime.

Derrick tried not to push the flecks into the melting mallows. He pushed the dark intruders to one side of the cup. Lifting them out so as not to let them slip through the tiny gap between cup and spoon.

Derrick grew impatient, pressed the spoon too hard and managed to tip the cup over. Derrick did all he could to save the contents of the cup.

The teaspoon slid across the table. It slipped through a gap between the table and window. The spoon hit the ground near his feet. Derrick did his best to locate the spoon with his feet.

After a considerable struggle, he relented. Derrick and bent down to perform a more thorough search. At his size, even this small task put a strain on his heart causing his breath to shorten.

Looking down he could not see the spoon but knew that it was there somewhere. Derrick managed to get the spoon back to hand by pure chance.

Derrick sat upright.

Another man had joined him at the table.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”

“You can’t still be at risk? You’re looking much better these days,”, Mick said.

Nick always complimented Derrick’s appearance at the beginning of their interactions. This was partly to encourage him but more because he had nothing to say.

Derrick had transformed over the period that the two had known each other.

Derrick’s face was becoming one with his chin which in turn was joining his neck.

Derrick’s face was more akin to that a miserable cliff than that of a human. “How’s work?” Nick said to curtail an ever-expanding silence.

“Don’t talk to me about it, another mine closed,” Derrick said.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nick said, “Something will come along.”

“Thank goodness; I was almost worrying.”

“You’ve been through worse.”

“I have?”

“You always pull through.”

“Otherwise we’d be done,” Derrick said.

“And we wouldn’t want that.”

“Unless you want to work for free?”, Derrick said. The lack of response from Nick spoke volumes, “Thought so.”

“I’m a diligent employee but not a charity. You wouldn’t want to give a surry no money. They find a way of getting paid.”

“So you are like the others?” Derrick said.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the unpaid surries out there. You keep a flow going so, that scenario isn’t applicable. Have you given any more thought to that cruise?”

“Seeing as I may be running out of money in the next month or so I’ll say it’s received the appropriate amount of thought.”

“thought I’d mention it.”

“If you want to top up your tan, do it on your own time.”

“I do.”

“Your natural tan then.”

“What’s the difference?” Nick said, “You should consider getting one yourself, you’ll look even healthier.”

“More money I don’t have spent on things I don’t want. I like that, put that on my gravestone.”

“I’ll never get that self-deprecation thing you do down. It’s the one part of you I haven’t got right.”

“It’s not self-deprecating when it’s true.”

“You need a holiday.”

“I do, but when I get the chance, I want to be the one going on it.”
Derrick said.

“You will.”

“I mean physically,” Derrick said. He had drunk the majority of his hot chocolate. Melted mallow sat at the bottom of the cup, turning into a gooey mush, unable to move, trapped. Derrick reached in dragged it up the side of the cup and placed it in his mouth and gulped.

“Shall we?” Nick asked.

Derrick nodded.

Nick leaned over and opened up the black satchel beside his feet. He took out a device with several ports and placed it in the centre of the table, the Emphatic 2.2. Not the latest model but it did the job.

“You’re going to have to update that soon,” Derrick said looking down at the device. The device had a few more blemishes on it’s surface than it did the last time. “Some of those early memories are starting to get a little fuzzy,” Derrick said.

“Degradation’s part of it.”

“Forgetting is happening too quickly for my liking.”

“If you want a clearer longer lasting memory I’ll have to upgrade the hardware. I need money for that, and since you’re the only one I surry for, it’s up to you.”Nick said.

Nick took out a small display and attached it to the Emphatic. Images flashed before his eyes. Derrick tried to get a look. “Do you want to see it or do you want to remember it?”.

Derrick said nothing, he sat back in his chair, folded his arms and looked out to the street. The steady traffic of people was becoming more infrequent. The business district was shut down for the evening.

Derrick looked back over to Nick.

“What’s taking so long?” Derrick asked.

“I wouldn’t want any of my memories getting in there. It’d bore you, gym, football, meaningless one night stands and way too much masturbation. Nothing you’d want to see.” Nick said.

“Name a price,”

“They’re not for sale,” Nick said. Derrick’s eyes narrowed, “And on that note here we are, date night. Before we go on, I’m going to need payment up front this time.” Derrick was silent, “I have a few outstanding payments with other people, I need it now.” said Nick.

“You can’t wait a few minutes?”

“Oh I can, it’s just that the people I owe to, can’t.”

“You taking again?” asked Derrick.

“Couple of previous clients are in there pretty deep. Every time I think I’m rid of them, those memories come bubbling back up. Wouldn’t want that interfering with yours”, Nick said.

“Get them vaped, I’ll pay for that”

“I’ve heard vaping causes long-term memory damage, I’ve been getting some Ignoral from a friend.”

“This friend, the impatient one?”

“Send me your dignautre”. Derrick took out his phone, made a few gestures and then looked at Nick. Nick took out his phone and received a notification.

Derrick watched as Nick sent the money on, “That should brighten up some people’s evening”. Nick put his phone away and smiled at Derrick, “It’s ready.” Nick said.

Derrick put on the headgear. It looked odd but was minimal enough not to attract too much attention, not that anybody would care. An image faded in, Derrick sees through Nick’s eyes. The image flickers. “Could you mute the blinking?” Derrick asked.

Nick did so.

The image remains constant. Derrick is in a room, a familiar one, his bedroom. Derrick in Nick’s body sits on a futon. He picks up the drink beside him and downs it in one. A tap runs in an en-suite. Steam floats through the door into the bedroom and dissipates. The flow of the tap stops and a woman exits the en-suite.

Stands and walks towards her. Their hands meet, fingers rub and stroke against each other. Derrick notices the woman wearing a beautiful yellow dress accentuating her tan. Something else catches his eye.

“She prettied it up,” Derrick said to himself in the cafe unheard by Nick.

A pale pink line starts between her breasts goes down her chest. The accident happened early on in their marriage. One day she was a keen cyclist the next she was not.

Derrick wondered if Nick ever noticed the scar if it gives him shivers the same way it did him. There were certain things that Nick could give to Derrick’s wife. Some things were only ever going to be between Derrick and Catlin.

Catlin asks if they can talk. Derrick let out a sigh, “Forward” he said to Nick. Nick obliged him.

The images speed up.

Through the talking, which goes on for quite a while and through a cab journey. Time slows and resumes normal speed in a cinema. His hand reaches down and picks up popcorn and shovels it into his mouth.

“Salted?” Derrick tastes it, “Why am I eating salted?”

“Ladies choice,” Nick said, although he is only inches away his voice is that of a disembodied ghost in his head. Did Nick eat salted deliberately Derrick wondered.

“What the hell am I watching”, Derrick demanded.

The film has subtitles, there is no way Derrick would ever watch this kind of thing by choice. Catlin loved this kind of movie. Due to strict anti-piracy laws concerning surries, Derrick could never see top-tier blockbusters. Derrick could never understand what he wanted.

Derrick becomes impatient, “Give me a breakdown.”

“Croatian, first time director. Has a rawness that comes through in the camera work. The minimal story doesn’t quite adhere to logic. Several strong vignettes deal with life after a war”. Nick said.

“Any tits?” Derrick asked.

“No,”

“Forward”.

The images speed up again.

Derrick is sitting with Catlin in a restaurant, food in front of him. A fork in his hand delivers the meat to his mouth.

Sensors in the Emphatic fire up taste synapses. It’s a sweet chicken dish causing Derrick’s mouth back in the cafe to salivate. An inferno ignites in Derrick’s mouth.

“What the hell is this?”

“Chicken Bhuna”

“My brain is going to make my IBS flare up, you know that right, my brain is stupid like that”, Derrick said.

First salted popcorn, now spicy food. Nick was doing this deliberately. Nick was messing with him.

“Derrick, Derrick?” comes a voice from somewhere out of eye line. A man stands at the table, hand thrust out, Bill Carthage. “Great to see you here Derrick, Catlin. Derrick, have you got a chance to review those forms?”

“Did I get them?” Derrick asked Nick back in the cafe.

“You never gave me anything to say.”

In the restaurant, there is silence.

“Take your time sure and get back to me on that,” Bill says, he walks away, returning to a table to sit on his own.

Derrick smiles, for all his looks, his style and colossal wealth Bill seems to have a pretty empty existence. Bill is proof that nice guys finish alone.
Catlin spoke, “Derrick, can we talk?”.

“Does she ever want to do anything else? If I wanted to talk to her, I would make time for her. Let’s skip to the good stuff” Derrick said.

“Sure?”, Nick asked.

“Yes, I am sure,” Derrick said, his impatience growing. The images sped up once more until Derrick recognises his bedroom again,

“Here we go.”

Derrick was kissing his wife through Nick; he could taste her. Derrick enjoyed the kiss, and it manifested itself as a slight groan in the cafe. Nick heard it only slightly.

“Are you sure about this?” Catlin asked.

“Jesus Christ I am sure,” Derrick said.

In the memory, Nick answers on Derrick’s behalf in the affirmative.

Catlin turns and goes into the bathroom. The lights in the room dim. Her figure emerges, silhouetted by the bathroom light.

The light turns off.

She disappears into the bed under the covers. Nick undresses as he dives into a sea of blanket and comfort. Derrick feels the tingling begin in his crotch. The pleasure was cascading down his spine like warm water.

Derrick sees the main reason he hires Nick. While Derrick may not be able to give his wife the pleasure she deserves, but he can afford a person who could.

Derrick feels the passion of their kissing, her body relaxing into his. He slides into her with ease.

Both inhale sharply.

If Derrick were ever to try to do something similar, it would take far longer than this. Fatigue would set in before anything substantial had occurred. Even if he could rise to the occasion, the centre would not hold.

This was the best alternative for everyone. The surrogate was carrying out the physical tasks of being a husband. Derrick would provide the much-needed finance. The kissing stops. She rolls on her stomach. Fingers wetted, and nipples rubbed. His right-hand pushes her upper half down and shapes her back to bring her ass up further.

Derrick’s brain can’t tell the real from memory. Electrons fire, sending messages throughout Derrick’s body.

Derrick tenses up, and his breathing restricts. It takes a moment for Derrick to reassure his body that this isn’t real and to enjoy it.

Back in the cafe, Derrick’s moans increased in volume and length. Nick was aware and becoming more uncomfortable. He had heard the groans of his employer before, but repeated exposure did not make them any more bearable.

Nick cast a stealthy glance across the cafe to make sure that they were not arousing any suspicion. No one seemed to notice. Everyone was wrapped up in themselves. Everyone except the waitress who was staring right at Nick. She knew exactly what was going on.

Derrick went quiet, tilting his head. Nick watched him.

“Go back,” Derrick said.

“No, review it in your own time.”

“Something’s not right.”

“I have places to be.”

“Go back and pause.”

“Alright, say when” Nick rewound date night. Derrick signalled him to stop. The evening froze before him, his wife on her back with her face obscured by a pillow. “You can review this as much as you want in your own time”.

Derrick sat motionless. Within the viewer, his eyes scanned the room.

He had seen something that struck him as not right, but he ignored that notion. Finally, Derrick realised that what was wrong was not what was there but what wasn’t there.

“Where’s her scar?” Derrick asked. The question set off an avalanche of other issues that were in his mind. Derrick noticed something in the image. Off on the sidelines, a slight light reflected in what limited glow there was in the room. There was a person in the bathroom watching the pair make love.

The light was reflecting of glitter, glitter used to pretty up a scar, his wife’s scar. It was Catlin standing in the bathroom, watching him. Who was having their face mashed into the headboard?

Nick would know. Derrick removed the headgear to find an envelope sitting in front of him. Derrick opened the envelope and withdrew its contents. “Divorce,” Derrick said,

“Where did this come from?”

“My bag.”

“That’s not what I meant”

“It’s been there a while.”

“What are you talking about, she hasn’t said anything.”

“She has you just skipped those parts,” Nick said, Derrick looked at him blankly.

“Put it on.”, Derrick said.

Derrick put the headset back on. Nick manipulated the evening taking him back to the start of the evening where she first wanted to talk.

“Derrick, this is it,” Catlin says within the memory, “Derrick if you go through with this it’s over. I can’t wait forever, please this isn’t a memory you want to own, is there anything you have to say?” Derrick had not been keeping up with his memories, so Nick sat silently in the room, “OK”, she said.

Derrick took off the headset and looked up at Nick, “I’m going to have to ask for that money back.”

“You already bought it, and the money is gone, you consented to this memory.”

“You tricked me, you never gave me any warning.”

“It’s not up to me to warn you, I get the memories, it’s up to you to remember,” Nick said.

“This isn’t fair.”

“You know what isn’t fair, having to sit and watch a wonderful person ripped apart. Having to hear her plead with you but I can’t respond because you can’t even bother to listen. The worst thing is that she was always going to give you a chance after chance. You were going to keep ignoring her so yes, I wasn’t entirely honest. If you had been doing your bit, listening, you wouldn’t have fallen for it. “

“You’re not supposed to get involved.”

“You’re not supposed to be skimming my pay. Like I said surries find a way of getting even.”

“Now what?”

“Fire me.” Nick packed his gear away and rose from the table. Derrick sat unblinking, unsure of what happened. Nick left the cafe. Derick remained there for quite some time.

Nick walked down the street, a smile crept onto his face. He smiled because he got one over on his former employer and because now they were free to be together. He saw Catlin parked up ahead. Nick tried to keep calm, but his step quickened. Catlin didn’t see Nick. He approached her passenger side. He knocked on the window she looked up at him and lowered.

“Nick”, she said.

“Where are we off to?”

“We?”, she looked around, “Oh.” Bill Carthage exited the restaurant and got into the car beside Catlin. Bill ignored Nick.

“What’s this?” Nick asked.

“You didn’t, I am so sorry, I thought you knew,” she said, “I mean you’re a surry for god’s sake.”

“I thought.”

“Surries shouldn’t think”.

“Shall we?” Bill said interjecting.

Catlin nodded, she gave a look at Nick. The car disappeared around a corner.

A woman approached Nick, she was pretty and had a big smile on her face.

“Nick,” she said, “It’s me, Catlin, we have a date.”

“Sure”.

Parallelacide: A super short story

Parallelacide: Short Story

Not in this reality would it ever be clear why they sent her to the university for her first assignment. Shelly stood by the coffee station and held a styrofoam cup to her mouth. She wasn’t drinking from it. She narrowed her eyes and scanned the room for an appropriate place to stand.

There were far more seats than were necessary.

As Shelly looked around, she saw a technician adjusting a camera. They were wearing a polo shirt that carried the symbol of Delamore Universtiy. The technician tampered with the lens looked through the viewfinder. She then clicked her fingers in front of the microphone.

There were other miscellaneous people present. They could be reporters, there was more a chance that they were here for the free doughnuts.

Two middle-aged gentlemen entered and looked around. One of them had a newspaper folded over his arm. The man with the newspaper nudged the taller man beside him, took out a coin and flipped. When it landed, he covered the coin. Shelly saw the taller man’s mouth move. Newspaper removed his hand. Judging by the taller man’s reaction, he did not get the result he wanted.

Newspaper went and sat down. The taller man approached Shelly.

“You look like a fresh meet,” he said passing her, grabbing a styrofoam cup.

“Good to see that sexism is alive and well,” Shelly said.

“Oh, as in meet rather than meat, It wasn’t meant to be sexist. While we’re clarifying, when I looked at your chest it’s because that’s where your press pass is, Shelly”. The taller man scanned the table, “Where’s the full?”

“As in fool or full?” Said Shelly.

“I know where the fool is, he’s on the other side of that whiteboard getting ready to embarrass himself again. I’m talking about the milk. I mean milk is bad for you anyway so if you’re going to do wrong, you may as well do it right.”

“I didn’t see any”

“Budget cuts. What a world that they can afford to give this guy a salary but can’t give us lowly documenters of truth some full fat.”

“What a world we live in”

“By fresh meet, I meant that you look like you’re new on the scene.”

“First assignment, I came from,” Shelly said before stopping when the taller man held up his hand.

“I’m going to have to stop you there,” he said. He didn’t speak.

“Any particular reason?” Shelly asked.

“OK, this is going to come across as rude, promise you’ll get upset.”

“Promise?”

“Now, I’m of the opinion that our minds are of limited space and as the years go on that space becomes more of a premium. Space gets smaller, value goes up. Now I’ve been in the game for about a quarter century, a lot of that space is gone. I don’t like wasting space. You aren’t going to be here that long. Start off your career, you got ambition, and you’re going to go on, do better things. This’ll be a forgotten memory in a few weeks. I don’t want to waste the space of getting to know someone too much if they’re not going to be about for long.”

“Oh, OK,” said Shelly.

“You promised you’d get upset,” said the taller man.

“I’m not, you don’t want to talk to me, that’s rude, but you’re a man. I think I understand.”

“Now I’m of the opinion that there’s no point in talking to you, but I can’t bluff for shit. When you’re in debt to a colleague such as mine like Paul over there, you make other kinds of bets. There’s a version were I won the coin toss, and it would be Paul talking to you but, well, here I am.”

“You sure talk a lot for someone who doesn’t want to talk.”

“It’s early” the tall man picked up two cups filled with coffee. He walked over to the doughnuts. They were being guarded by low-level university admins. The taller man turned to Shelly and gestured with his head. She walked over to him.

“The real question is whether these are jam or custard. Grab a plate and lift us one please”. Shelly obliged him. “Come sit up front with us.”

“But I’m not worthy,” she said.

“I don’t care about that. You’re going to want to get as close as possible to a Dr Lazlo Banks presser. Heard of him?”

“Should I have?”

“The creator of telepathy for chickens? How could you not.”

The two made their way to the front and sat down beside Paul.

“See it’s nice to be nice,” Paul said to the taller man.

“I felt my soul die a little” he responded.

Paul leaned forward and looked to Shelly. He extended his hand. As she shook his hand, Shelly noticed that he although he was old his face looked young. He had big round red apple cheeks, and a permanent smile etched on his mouth. The effect of this made his blue eyes look small.

“You didn’t mention she was with the tribune Gary, this changes everything,” said Paul. There was an exaggeration of shock on his face.

“So I have to be friendlier with people unless they’re with the tribune?” said the taller man, who she deduced was Gary. Shelly would make an excellent reporter.

“The tribune is a rag,” Paul said looking at Shelly, a massive smile escaped onto his face. His eyes were wrinkling so much he couldn’t see.

“Who are you two with? I haven’t seen your passes, you’re probably not even reporters” said Shelly leaning in.

“Move back, I can get territorial when it comes to a week old,” Gary took a bite, “Custard, custard goddammit.”

Shelly leaned back.

“You don’t want to know who we’re with. No pass is better than who we’re actually with. We’d like you to have a bit of respect for us old-timers.”

“Tell me,” Shelly said.

There was a noise from the other side of the whiteboard wall.

“Looks like Dr Lazlo is ready to start, you’re in for a treat Shelly,” said Paul. The three of them turned to face the front. Conversations around the room stopped. All eyes were on the door beside the whiteboard.

The side door opened and a man in a white coat entered.

“The good doctor looks a little strung out,” said Gary.

Dr Banks carried a lockbox and set it down on the table.

“This’ll be good,” said Paul.

Dr Banks leaned over the table and shuffled some paper on his desk around. His mouth was moving, but no sound came out. He looked up and focused his attention on the assembled audience.

“This won’t take long. Man’s quest for immortality has gone on since we first stood up and stepped into the sun. In the scientific community there are known to be many universes. These universes are existing now, in other dimensons. Many are concurrently operating realities. They exist alongside us. There are infinite realities. If there are infinite realities, then there are at least several were our wildest dreams are true.”

“What is he talking about?” Paul asked.

“He doesn’t know,” Gary said. Dr Banks looked at them and sighed.

“C’mon guys, questions at the end,” said Dr Banks.

“We don’t have any,” said Gary.

“Well, that’s a wasted opportunity. I’m right here in front of you. What you should be asking is how do we know what reality we’re in?”

“What reality are we in?”

“Shhh, questions at the end. I have a device that will help us discern which reality is the correct one.”

Dr Banks moved over to the box and opened it up. He took out an object that was masked by a purple velvet cloth.

“He’s not,” said Paul, leaning back in his seat.

“Jesus,” said Gary

Dr Banks removed the cloth revealing a shiny silver gun.

“Gun” shouted Shelly.

The whole room recoiled. One man dropped his doughnut another put his hands on his ears.

“Banks, what the hell are you doing?” a voice from the back shouted.

“This isn’t happening,” said Paul.

“Someone call the police” another voice sounded.

“Before you do,” Dr Banks said, “I just want you to know that I pose no harm to you, or even myself. That is if my theory is correct.”

People moved towards the door.

“Now even though I mean you no harm I will have to ask you to remain in the room for a few more minutes.”

People in the room continued to move towards the door. Dr Banks pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand.

“May I remind you that I have a gun.”

The people stopped moving. Some of the more exasperated in the audience lowered their arms. The room was serene and still. Dr Banks smiled and then looked to the camera technician.

“I hope that’s recording Janice.”

“Let me line up the shot.”

“Me too,” said Dr Banks. He held the gun to his temple and looked to Janice.

Shaking, the viewfinder in front of her eyes, removing her from the realness of the room, Janice focused on Banks. Once she had done so she outstretched her free hand and gave him the thumbs up.

“If my theory is correct then the gun, will not go off and I will be one step closer to becoming immortal. Then, then it won’t matter.”

In one reality, Dr Banks was an undying god.

It was not this one.

Victim plays and how you write pop songs (Genre Cheat 3/3)

This post is the final part about genre. I’ve written about the cancer of modern drama that is the victim narrative. I’ll talk briefly about gangsters and rom-coms how they are two sides of the same coin. I also write briefly about the meta-narrative and how to write a pop song.

Victim Play

This is an extension of the drama but it’s toxic, and you should avoid deliberately writing one. I’ll tell you what to watch out for. The most mainstream example of the victim play is the film Philadelphia. When people mention Philadelphia, they talk about how groundbreaking it was. It helped bring discussing the plight of people with AIDS into the mainstream. No one ever talks about the film and whether or not it’s any good. The film isn’t.

A man gets fired for being gay/having AIDS because his bosses hate gay people. A man hires a homophobic lawyer. A homophobic lawyer learns that gay people are people too. Court rules that gay people are people also. Gay guy dies.

The audience realises that gay people exist. I want to make it clear that the makers of the victim play have good intentions it’s that practically it’s a big “and” at the end. The people who need to watch Philadelphia and take the lesson from it never will. The victim play reduces people to morally simple cyphers. Gay people are living saints; everyone else is Satan.

With the victim play, there is also a degree of fetishising the injustice. If you make a film about the domestic abuse, you will have to have a scene where the wife beats the husband.

In Philadelphia, there’s a scene the homophobic lawyer uses all the slurs that come to mind. It’s a case of having your cake and eating it too.

Rom-com/ Gangster

The rom-com and gangster film are two sides of the same coin only one is feminine and the other masculine. They both deal with rules of behaviour in society. The only difference is the consequences. In the rom-com, you are undateable and lose your chance at love. In the gangster film if you snitch they will kill you. Both end in similar ways. There is usually a wedding at the end of the rom-com, the heroine leaves the dating world behind. In the gangster film, the hero leaves the life of crime behind. They leave “the life” through the witness protection programme or death.

Meta-narrative

If you can find a way to make a commentary on the nature of storytelling or filmmaking, there is a chance that you are a master storyteller. The most popular means of doing this is through the framing device, the voice over. Many times it’s forced and can seem cheap. The best example is The Ponderosa Wedding Massacre from It’s Always Sunny.

The Lord of The Rings has a meta-narrative with Frodo writing the story of the Lord of The Rings.

If you can do it subtly, then you are a master. Inception is as much about film as it is about dreams. Look at the scene in the cafe; they are talking about screenwriting.

Arrival is also a good example too. It deals with the distortion of time and our perception. You think that you are watching a flashback when you’re watching a flash forward. It’s a magical manipulation of time.

Briefly about pop songs

There’s no real another place that I will get to put this in so I’ll talk about it here.

With pop songs, you take an old cliche and put your spin on it. Let’s assume for example “A stitch in time saves nine”. You recognise the expression OK, so now what, you look for a word that rhymes with nine. “A stitch in time saves nine/ How come I’m eighth in line?” Not great but not terrible for thirty seconds of work. Those lyrics don’t make literal sense, but that doesn’t matter. Pop songs are better left vague.

As for chorus’ something repetitive and simple.

If you’re a man: Make it about either saying that you screwed up and are heartbroken.

If you’re a woman: Make it about how he didn’t do enough, and you’re irreplaceable.

Pop is all about selling a comfortable lie.

Conclusion

Hope that these three parts helped you gain some clarity when it comes to genre. I enjoyed writing about this and hope that you enjoyed reading up on the subject. Feels like I’ve only scratched the surface. I will return to this subject later.

If you liked reading about what genre and want to know more would you mind leaving a comment because I want to help you. Unless you want to write a victim play.

Thank you.

This Cheat Sheet will make you master genre Part 1

Intro

Genre can be difficult to pin down. You know what works but you find yourself grasping for something but you don’t know what.

First of all, this is by no means a comprehensive list. I’m not an expert either so treat the following accordingly. While I’m not an expert I have a skill for pattern recognition in film.

I’m going to be looking into what are the subconscious undertones of each genre.

If you’re a writer and are considering working within a genre there’s no harm being prepared.

Even if you’re not a writer you understanding a genre can help why you watch something that is fine, but there’s a missing element. Usually, it was because the creators have deviated from some of the staples of the genre in an unsatisfying way.

A quick example is Kill Bill. Revenge movies have to end with the death of the character getting revenge. The heroes purpose in revenge stories is to right a wrong and then die. The hero cannot come back from the underworld and return to the normal world, certainly not whole, they have to lose something on the way.. Kill Bill not only has the hero returned from the underworld alive she has returned unscathed. That may be good filmmaking, but it isn’t great storytelling.

Know your genre.

I’m going to be talking mainly about screenwriting but this applies to other forms of fiction writing if you can see the patterns at work.

If you are considering writing a script, then I recommend The Hero With A Thousand Faces, anything on Jungian archetypes and The Uses of Enchantment.

Genres

Sci-Fi

Sci-fi is about the quest for higher knowledge about ourselves and our universe. It ends with the hero transcending, either by dying or disappearing.

Sci-fi in it’s most simple terms is “Where is god, there is god, I am god”

By god I don’t mean Yahweh the Christian God I mean god in the sense of being a higher being, higher knowledge, the next step in evoloution.

Sci-fi deals on the subconscious level about shedding the ego and the id to be part of something greater.

There is always an element of the religious when it comes to sci-fi. That is because the Bible is the basis for all sci-fi. That is why you will see a lot of Jesus imagery in sci-fi films. 2001: A Space Odyssey ends in death and rebirth as does the Matrix. Even low key sci-fi taps into religion Children of Men is the Nativity story. Battlestar Galactica is Moses in space.

The key to creating good sci-fi is reading the Bible.

Horror

I love horror; I made a horror film that you can watch here. Horror is the inverse of sci-fi. Sci-fi is an outward optimistic journey whereas horror is a pessimistic journey inward. Consider 2001 and The Shining. In 2001: A Space Odyssey the Discovery travels from Earth, and David transcends to become the Star Child. In The Shining Jack Torrance enters room 237 and goes insane.

At a basic level horror is a fear of death but let’s look at it on a deeper level. If sci-fi is the voluntary releasing of the ego, then horror is the taking of the ego. Horror is the loss of identity before the self is ready.

In slasher horror like Halloween, Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods, Texas Chainsaw Massacre there tends to be five main characters. This number can deviate, but five is a number that represents psychological wholeness.

When the characters enter the world of the film, they are stable but as the numbers dwindle so does their psyche.

The characters in horror aren’t individuals, but together they make a whole. Cabin in the Woods spelt out Jungian archetypes for audiences. That film is a good resource for anyone wanting to develop their horror writing skills.

Monster Monster Monster

Let’s talk about the monsters of horror in broad terms.

  • Vampire stories are about the fear of promiscuity and sexual diseases.
  • Zombies are about the fear of losing your identity and becoming part of the crowd.
  • Werewolves are about the darker side of male sexuality.
  • Demonic possession is about our dark shadow, the evil that exists in the best of us. There is an argument to be made that demonic possession with the dark side of female sexuality, in Evil Dead the first victim has been raped by a tree and Regan from The Exorcist gets possessed right as she enters puberty.

Ghost Stories

Ghost stories are a genre onto themselves. They tend to have less death and any deaths that there are tend to be less violent.

The basic structure of a ghost story is as follows: There is a ghost, you are a ghost, I am a ghost. The Shining follows this structure as does The Others. There are ghostly goings-on that start small. Creaky floorboards etc. Usually ends with the hero finding out that they have been dead the whole time.

Ghost stories are about repression. It’s not uncommon for the ghost to be a symptom of the repression rather than a cause. An unsolved murder or a past wrong tend to be the centre of ghost stories.

Fantasy

If you had to sum up the fantasy genre into a sentence, it would be: Let’s set aside our differences and tackle bigger problems. You see it in Lord of the Rings; the kingdoms must unite to take on Sauron.

Even the anti-Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones you can see the structure asserting itself. The four houses are now having to unify to take on the undead.

Why You Find Star Wars a bit dull

Part of the reason that the new Star Wars films are boring is that there is no advancement of what went before. Star Wars is a fantasy film within a sci-fi setting. I tried to rewatch Return of the Jedi recently, I struggled, it’s a boring film. It should have steered into the fantasy structure.

Instead of a pointless rescue mission that takes up forty minutes of a two-hour film, you could have raised the stakes. Princess Leia is on diplomatic missions to win over more worlds to the rebellion. Meanwhile Luke goes to confront the Emperor and in doing so becomes the new one.

I may go into how I would have written Return of the Jedi. Even though I’m no longer interested in Star Wars, I still fanboy over the prequel trilogy and the missed opportunities in the saga.

To be continued

I didn’t expect to have so much to say about the genre. There are still more to cover so I’m going to split this into two and I’ll post part 2 on Monday.

You have a great weekend now.

Getting into Dune: Gateway Spice

Arrakis…Dune…Desert planet

Brief summary

You don’t have time to read this and I understand, thanks for the view either way. This post on Dune is is long so I’m going to boil it down to one sentence. There’s no set way to approach something so experiment with different paths. In order to get into Dune I had to take a different path.

I Love sci-fi

What’s your favourite genre of fictional book?

If your a normie there is a good chance that you like mystery thriller novels. Books like Gone Girl, Harry Potter and Jack Reacher might be right up your avenue.

You don’t want anything too heady because that’s not why you read. You want something that’s easy to read, has a few thrills and maybe a sex scene. I don’t blame you. Life is depressing enough without long-winded, boring books with no hanky panky.

You probably aren’t a big sci-fi fan. It’s nerdy, unrealistic and has no characters. That’s not how I view it but understand your point. I don’t find sci-fi boring because I don’t read it literally.

On a basic level, yes sci-fi is about flying cars and laser guns, but those elements are window dressing. What I find so enjoyable is that underneath the surface sci-fi is an exploration of what it means to be human.

Sci-fi asks, “who are you” and “if everything about you were to change, would you still be you?”. The answer to the question is hard to pin down, and I’m going to butcher it here. “I am a part of the universe, and the universe is part of me”.

A lot of sci-fi ends with the hero transcending. The Matrix ends with Neo realising he is “The one”. Interstellar ends with Cooper outliving his daughter and flying off into space.

In novels, it’s more heavy-handed. Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch ends with humanity taking on the teeth, eyes, and bionic hand of Palmer Eldritch. Richard Matheson’s I am Legend ends with Richard Neville executed. He lives on in the tales the new vampire civilisation will tell each other.

Delaying the inevitable

There was always one book that I avoided though, and that was Frank Herbert’s Dune. I have many reasons for not wanting to read the book. It was long, I don’t like dessert adventures and that so many people like it must mean that I’ll hate the book. I had many reasons which is the equivalent to no reason.

The real reason and a problem that I have with reading, in general, is that I struggle with comprehension. When I talk to people about books, I’ve read, and we’ll be talking about sections and the person asks me if I’ve read the book. I get embarrassed.

I tend to come up with my own vision in my mind’s eye and don’t like books with too much description. I’m going to come up with whatever I want anyway.

I avoided Dune. It wasn’t until I read in the back of Tools for Titans that the change started. Dune was on several smart people’s top ten list. I knew that I would have to give it a read.

The book still intimidated me. I decided to take the indirect approach.

Dune the movie

I’d seen the Dune movie years ago whenever Channel 4 used to put on cult movies late at night. I wasn’t impressed then but if I was going to read the book I w decided to watch it again as it was available on Prime.

I’m going to talk about the film in general terms.

First of all, it’s beautiful, the production design and costumes are great. It’s nice to look at, and the special effects still hold up today.

Second, the cast is excellent, but the performances are not. There are so many roles in the film and trying to develop them all in two hours would be impossible. Kyle Maclachlan does well in his first film role. Kenneth McMillan stands out because he’s so over the top and appears to be enjoying himself. Everyone else fades into the background.

A more accurate title for the film would be Dune Plot Synopsis. The movie covers the majority of the main action of the novel, but it lacks the spirit.

I understand why this film failed to connect with audiences.

The first three scenes are cinematic dead weight. The first scene is someone explaining to you how the world works. The second scene is about the main planets. This scene is infuriating because this information is never brought up again. The third scene, in essence, is “Watch out for this person” but it goes on forever. The scene is included because it’s the only scene aside from the sandworms to feature a creature. The scene could have been thirty seconds.

For comparison could you imagine if Star Wars: A New Hope began with someone explaining the Force? Then the next scene explained the Empire and rebellion. Would the film have been as successful?

Once Dune’s plot kicks in the film is more enjoyable. It’s not the disaster that everyone thinks it is, but it never rises above being acceptable.

The movie Dune may have failed as a film but as a primer for the book it worked.

Do your own research

I then looked online for as many explainers as I could find. I didn’t want to read this book, so I tried to prepare as much as I could for taking it on. It wasn’t until I watched Thug Notes break down that I found the theme that would hook me in. That theme was the idea of fulfilling the prophecy v being the one prophesied.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey because of a prophecy. If Jesus was the Son of God would it matter if he fulfilled the scripture? Did Jesus become the Son of God by fulfilling the scripture?

You’re probably thinking, who cares, what does it matter but this kind of question is my Chicken or egg.

How can I make this more relatable to you? What is the difference between being confident and acting confident?

I don’t consider myself a confident person. I have a lot of doubt struggle with decision making, but I’m told that I’m confident. That is because I act confident. If you find yourself with diminished confidence, take this small step. Stand up straight and take up more space than usual. You’ll give yourself a confidence boost. This has nothing to d

This philosophical Chicken or egg question got me excited to read the book. The book has confusing words, so I downloaded the book on audible first and gave it a listen.

The audible version of Dune is more akin to a radio drama version of the book.

The production is sloppy. There is a narrator, and other actors provide the voices. It’s inconsistent; sometimes the narrator replaces the voices of the actors sometimes not. If anything the poor production made me more determined to read the book.

Dune the book

It turned out that the research paid off. I flew through the book. It’s split into three sections, and the chapters are short. The annoying, confusing words weren’t a challenge.

The book is odd as it is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The plot is basic. It’s a story of revenge. When Avatar came out, everyone called it Dances with Smurfs. Having read Dune, I’m surprised there weren’t more comparisons made. Outsider turns on the system, joins native population. The outsider becomes their leader and finally drives back the invaders.

World building is the books strongest feature. You get hints of a larger world. The dialogue is on the nose, and the characters are simple. Whenever you’re dealing with massive concepts, it’s better to keep it simple.

There’s more I want to say about this book, but this has post already run long so let’s sum it up.

The weird in way

Throughout your life, you’re going to have encounters that intimidate you. Could be a book could be a person, something that you have to engage with. You don’t have to use the direct approach.

Think of yourself as the frog in the pot, even though the frog dies in the end.

If you try to jump straight in you may get burned and be put off getting back in. Instead, ease yourself into something, do your research.

If you’re considering reading Dune, which is recommended, but don’t know where to begin I suggest this overview. It gives away the ending but the ending is such a small part of the journey.

Enjoy.

Review: Esther Part 1 – The Relique

I’m reviewing Esther by Mark McCann and Ryan Brown.

Mark McCann wrote for this website last month.

 

Now Mark along with artist Ryan Brown have come out with Esther, a comic book which you can read the first issue of here.

 

Just know that I am biased and will be giving this a positive review.

 

The World of Esther

The world of Esther is intriguing. Let’s see if I can give you an idea. It’s a post-human world where robots have taken over. The robots have become like medieval knights on a crusade. They may be robots, but they believe in gods and humans have become deified in their absence. The robots mention Christ and talk of him being the son. It’s an interesting idea, can a machine have faith?

 

The robot knights also have little helper robots who carry their equipment. These smaller robots help to mend them after the battle. There appears to be a societal hierarchy which I hope they explore further in subsequent issues.

 

Plot

The first issue is brief. The plot involves a battle between the robots and a rival faction known as chimaeras. The robots then discover an “organic”. An organic in this case is a human woman; she’s in a comatose state hooked up to a machine. The robots look to her as a divine being. I’m intrigued because what way will it go? Will she be a character in her own right, will she be a McGuffin that drives the plot or will she be both? I look forward to seeing where the creators take the idea.

 

Character

Due to the briefness of the issue and the emphasis on action, there is no real character development yet. There is some talk between the robot knights. There is an inner monologue that considers faith, existence and death. I enjoyed how it appears to be establishing our lead robot will be dealing with their own beliefs. Mark and Ryan are laying the groundwork in issue 1 of Esther. I look forward to seeing what they build.

 

Presentation

The artwork is beautiful. It’s dark yet distinct. The use of yellow in their visors is a smart choice. Yellow could mean optimism, faith, loyalty and truth. The yellow then switches to red when they are in a battle which is done subtly and without explanation.

 

The battle could have been confusing. It’s grey robots fighting grey robots, but Ryan Brown has made each distinct from one another. Good guys have horizontal visors that glow red; bad guys have vertical visors that glow white. Simple yet effective.

 

Ryan also brings out the texture of this world through contrast. You get the idea that this is a harsh world, metal, steel, rugged landscapes and terrible weather. This makes the soft fragility of the organic all the more apparent.

 

I love the look of this comic.

 

Conclusion

Well done to Mark and Ryan for creating something beautiful together. Wish them all the best for subsequent issues.

 

Can’t wait to see what direction the story takes.

I, Genus

The screen was on. Finnegan sat in front of it taking in all the information radiating from the display.

The living room had become his second bedroom. He sat there motionless.

Amber and Rike came down the stairs. Finnegans back was to them.

“Ok Finnegan we’ll be back soon,” said Amber. There was no response from Finnegan. Amber looked at Rike and shrugged.

“Did you hear us, Finnegan?” Rike said, approaching him. Rike navigated a minefield of sweatshirts, crumpled food wrappers and wires.

“Sure,” said Finnegan, not turning around. Rike saw a pair of shoes, the soles peeling off them, covered in mud.

“Finnegan, those shoes are ruined. You’re going to need a new pair” Rike said.

“Huh?” Finnegan said.

“I said” Rike began, Amber cut him off.

“Rike, it doesn’t matter. Our ride is here. Bye Finnegan. We are going to lock this door” Amber said.

“Sure,” said Finnegan.

Rike and Amber got into a car. The car drove off.

The car arrived at the I-Genus facility. Amber and Rike got out of the car and went straight inside to the reception desk. The desk told them where to go, and they went.

Amber and Rike sat on chairs in a hallway.

“Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” Rike asked.

“You have had so long to think about that, and now you decide to bring it up. We can leave if you want.”

“I’m not, it’s just that, you know.”

“Look we’re here, you’re nervous, that’s fine,” said Amber.

“It’s Finnegan,” said Rike looking down. There was a child at one end of the hallway. The child may have looked like Finnegan, but it was not him.

“You’re nervous, you have to relax,” Amber said. A door slid open, and a man in a white coat with dark hair stepped out. Amber rose from her seat and walked over to greet him. “Doctor Teng,” she said taking his hand.

“Doctor Mathers,” the doctor said.

“Sorry,” said Amber. Rike shook hands with the doctor.

“Come right on in,” Doctor Mathers said.

Amber and Rike followed him into the room. There was a table with a split in the middle. The three people sat down around the desk.

“So Amelia and Rance, how can I help?” asked the doctor.

“It’s Amber and Rike,” said Amber. The doctor leaned forward and checked a display.

“Oh, so it is,” Doctor Mathers said. “Hold on”. Doctor Mathers scrolled through the notes in front of him. “You’ll have to excuse me for a minute” The doctor pressed a button. A barrier emerged from the floor sliding up through the split in the table. The doctor now sat on the other side of a sheet of glass.

Amber and Rike sat looking at him. Doctor Mathers pressed a button, and the barrier dropped.

“I’ll have to try again later. What can I do for you?” Doctor Mathers said. Elbows on the table, hands steepled covering his mouth and his head tilted forward into a glare.

“It’s Finnegan,” Rike said. “I mean obviously we love him. He’s the perfect child. In many ways, that’s the problem”.

“Ok,” said Doctor Mathers.

“He doesn’t need us. It’s almost like we’re there to make sure that he isn’t disturbed. Not even by us. He’s very intelligent, but we’re just live in maids”, said Rike.

“That’s what parents are,” said Doctor Mathers.

“And the shoes, he keeps destroying his shoes. I don’t know what happens to them. I never see him out of the house. How is he ruining them? That’s at least four pairs he’s been through.” said Rike.

“Kids being kids,” said Doctor Mathers.

“What we’re saying”, Amber cut in, “Is that while we love him and the service that I-Genus provided, it’s not what we wanted. We wanted a kid who would not need too much maintenance, but this isn’t right. If I wanted a family member who we didn’t talk to living with us, I would have asked Rike’s mother to move in.”

“Right, I see,” said the doctor.

“What we have come here today for is to factor in a post-natal, Finnegan is under six. We were also looking to consider something that was more, dependent.” Amber said.

“You’ll have to excuse me again,” Doctor Mathers said. The doctor pushed a button bringing the shield up again. The doctor looked down. Amber and Rike could see the doctor’s mouth moving, but they couldn’t hear a word he said.

“You know, we’re the ones who are here,” Rike said.

“You know what doctors are like, always trying to make as much money for themselves as possible” Amber said.

The doctor looked up from the other side of the barrier and made eye contact with Amber. Amber smiled, and the doctor returned the gesture.

The barrier dropped.

“Ok, I can show you some of our offers on the catalogues. Before that, for the legal records, I have to have you say that you want a post-natal. Everything has to be above board.”

“Ok we can do that, I Rike Theremin want a postnatal performed on Finnegan Theremin.”

“I wasn’t recording, but I only need one of you to say it for clearance, Amber could you say it for the records?”

“Sure, I Amber Theremin want a post-natal performed on Finnegan Theremin,” she said.

The doctor sat for a moment and made a few notes.

“Ok, that’s all I need in that regard. You have requested a post-natal. Now let’s show you what we have. Before I hand it over to you, just thought that I’d point you to some of our latest packages. We can offer packages that are highly dependent on the guardian. You can have severely disabled. Now, this might be out of your price range, but we have a new addition which we call the sleeper cell package.”

“We haven’t heard of that” Amber said.

“It’s great, you get your package delivered, but it’s randomised, determined by an algorithm. You could have the package for the rest of your life, and it’s fine. Or boom, twelve years in and leukaemia” said Doctor Mathers. “It’s the luck of the draw, how does that sound? It’s proving popular with some higher-income households”.

Amber and Rike sat in their chairs, thinking it over.

The doctor’s phone rang.

“I have to take this,” the doctor said. He pressed the button, and the barrier came up. The doctor leaned back in his chair and spoke.

“This will get sorted,” Rike said.

“It will” Amber added.

The barrier came down, and the doctor sat before them. He licked his lips.

“Let me give you a tour of the facilities. I’ll show you the post-natal area, you won’t feel a thing” the doctor said.

“We?” said Amber.

“Sorry, I misspoke,” said the doctor. He stood up and led them through the door.

Back in the house, Finnegan was sat in front of the screen. The post came through the door. Finnegan turned his head at the noise.

As he turned his head back to the screen, he caught sight of his shoes. They had served their purpose but they beyond use. He would need a new pair.

Super Short Story: Be the Blocker

Stop Procrastinating Facebook CoverJustin heard noises.
It took a moment for feeling to come into Justin’s body. He could feel a build up within him that made his head tighten and his body bloat.
Justin got up out of his bed and made his way downstairs. The floor tiles sucked the heat out of him so fast his knees bent. Justin steadied himself.
Looking through the glass of the front door he could see all three cars in the driveway. Dad was in the house.
There was the clink of plates and cutlery coming from behind him. Justin walked down the hallway towards the bright light coming from the kitchen. The intensity of the light caused him to shield his eyes.
When Justin entered the kitchen, he saw Brandi in her dressing gown. She was seated at the counter a bowl of fruit in front of her.
Father came up the stairs from the light room. He was naked, having finished some high-intensity light therapy. Father’s skin pulled tight over his body, it did not betray his age.
“Hey high achiever, there’s some granola and soy milk left out for you,” father said. His deep baritone voice resonated through the kitchen.
“Dad I don’t feel so good,” Justin said walking over to the counter.
“No matter our feelings, it’s no reason to abandon our manners.”
“Sorry sir,” Justin said arriving at the counter.
“While we are talking of sorries I saw that you were looking up properties online. Going, to be honest, it hurt my feelings. Give it another year or two. I want you to think long and hard about what you’re doing before committing to the action. You have everything you need right here”, said father.
“Thank you, sir, but I want to be out by thirty.”
“That’s an arbitrary number that you are ascribing. It doesn’t matter if it’s thirty or forty. House prices are so high, it doesn’t make any sense for you to want to move away. You are always welcome in this house.”
“I know that I am. It’s like I need my own space to be able to develop.”
“OK, I understand that.”
“And I want to come off the blockers,” Justin said. His father looked at him.
“That’s a big decision for us,” father said, placing arms on the counter. Justin noticed father’s veins wrapped tight around bulging muscle.
“It’s not a big decision, I’ve been considering it for a while.”
“This is your mother speaking isn’t it, poisoning you, wanting to develop you,” father said.
“I want to develop, I mean, look at you.”
“You don’t want that. That is the worst thing that you can have happen. I remember puberty. It felt like there was no end in sight. You won’t be able to concentrate on anything. You have the choice of becoming an adult, I’m going to say, don’t. You think I enjoy having to go through everything just to stay normal. This may look good but the cost. You don’t have to go through it. You have a choice, use it wisely.”
“I’d like to experience it,” Justin said. He lowered his head to deepen his voice to give himself more authority.
“Once you go through puberty, there’s no going back. Look we’ll talk about it some other time. You OK, you look peaky.”
“My head is stuffy.”
“You could be early.”
“No, you drained me recently.”
“You and I don’t know when we need to, still not an exact science. Let’s drain you, just to be sure.”
“Let’s leave it, sir, probably a reaction to the antibi’s I’m on.”
“Now son, if you’re under my roof it’s my rules” Father walked around and grabbed his arm.
“Dad put some trousers on”
“My roof, my rules,” Father dragged him downstairs into the light room.
The draining device was towards the back opposite the light box.
Father led him to a chair and strapped Justin in.
“You and I may need to go deeper, some of your veins are receding.”
“Last time was more painful.”
“Oh I know, but my roof” Father checked the settings on the extractor.
“Dad”
“Sir” father said correcting him.
“Sir, please.”
“This will be over before you know it,” Father said and flipped a switch on the control panel. Justin felt the needles enter his body. Justin’s body jerked, but the straps held him in place and then hot electricity shot through him. Justin convulsed the straps of the chair burning.
Father in his haste had forgotten to put in the mouth guard. Justin held his tongue to the back of his mouth to stop himself from gnawing it off.
Between the strobe of his rapid blinks, Justin could make out his father. Concentrated on the control board. Justin saw father’s finger hover over the switch. Justin mouthed the word ‘stop’ foam dripped into his lap.
Father looked up and noticed. He pressed the button. The machine stopped, the needles left Justin’s body. Father ran to Justin, taking his cheeks in his hands.
“My boy, I am so sorry, I didn’t realise,” Father said.
Father put in the mouthguard. He returned to the control panel and turned the machine back on. The needles reentered. Justin’s body spasmed strapped to the chair.
“You know this counts as your daily exercise. All that moving about might be uncomfortable, but you’re getting healthier.” Father said, Justin barely heard him.
Finally, it was over. The amount that came from Justin filled thirty vials.
“Let me try” Father took a sip from a vial. “This is good, you should be proud. You must excuse me, I need to tell this to Brandi”.
Father left, rising as he ascended the stairs. Justin sat there, strapped to the chair, drained, unmoving.
Justin heard noises.

Super Short Story: Surrogation Anxiety 3/3

“Sure?”, Nick asked.

“Yes, I am sure,” Derrick said, his impatience growing. The images sped up once more until Derrick recognises his bedroom again,

“Here we go.”

Derrick was kissing his wife through Nick; he could taste her. Derrick enjoyed the kiss, and it manifested itself as a slight groan in the cafe. Nick heard it only slightly.

“Are you sure about this?” Catlin asked.

“Jesus Christ I am sure,” Derrick said.
In the memory, Nick answers on Derrick’s behalf in the affirmative.

Catlin turns and goes into the bathroom. The lights in the room dim. Her figure emerges, silhouetted by the bathroom light. The light turns off.
She disappears into the bed under the covers. Nick undresses as he dives into a sea of blanket and comfort. Derrick feels the tingling begin in his crotch. Pleasure cascading down his spine like warm water.

Derrick sees the main reason he hires Nick. Derrick may not be able to give his wife the pleasure she deserves, but he can afford a person who could.

Derrick feels the passion of their kissing, her body relaxing into his. He slides into her with ease. Both inhale sharply.

If Derrick were ever to try to do something similar, it would take far longer than this. Fatigue would set in before anything substantial had occurred. Even if he could rise to the occasion, the centre would not hold.

This was the best alternative for everyone. The surrogate carrying out the physical tasks of being a husband. Derrick would provide the much-needed finance. The kissing stops. She rolls on her stomach. Fingers wetted, and nipples rubbed. His right-hand pushes her upper half down and shapes her back to bring her ass up further.

Derrick’s brain can’t tell the real from memory. Electrons fire sending messages throughout Derrick’s body.

Derrick tenses up, and his breathing restricts. It takes a moment for Derrick to reassure his body that this isn’t real and to enjoy it.

Back in the cafe, Derrick’s moans increased in volume and length. Nick was aware and becoming more uncomfortable. He had heard the groans of his employer before, but repeated exposure did not make them any more bearable.

Nick cast a stealthy glance across the cafe to make sure that they were not arousing any suspicion. No one seemed to notice. Everyone was wrapped up in themselves. Everyone except the waitress who was staring right at Nick. She knew exactly what was going on.

Derrick went quiet, tilting his head. Nick watched him.

“Go back,” Derrick said.

“No, review it in your own time.”

“Something’s not right.”

“I have places to be.”

“Go back and pause.”

“Alright, say when” Nick rewound date night. Derrick signalled him to stop. The evening froze before him, his wife on her back with her face obscured by a pillow. “You can review this as much as you want in your own time”.

Derrick sat motionless. Within the viewer, his eyes scanned the room.

He had seen something that struck him as not right, but he ignored that notion. Finally, Derrick realised that what was wrong was not what was there but what wasn’t there.

“Where’s her scar?” Derrick asked. The question set off an avalanche of other questions that were in his mind. Derrick noticed something in the image. Off on the sidelines, a slight light reflected in what limited glow there was in the room. There was a person in the bathroom watching the pair make love.

The light was reflecting of glitter, glitter used to pretty up a scar, his wife’s scar. It was Catlin standing in the bathroom, watching him. Who was having their face mashed into the headboard?

Nick would know. Derrick removed the headgear to find an envelope sitting in front of him. Derrick opened the envelope and withdrew its contents. “Divorce,” Derrick said,

“Where did this come from?”

“My bag.”

“That’s not what I meant”

“It’s been there a while.”

“What are you talking about, she hasn’t said anything.”

“She has you just skipped those parts,” Nick said, Derrick looked at him blankly.

“Put it on.”, Derrick said.

Derrick put the headset back on. Nick manipulated the evening taking him back to the start of the evening where she first wanted to talk.
“Derrick, this is it,” Catlin says within the memory, “Derrick if you go through with this it’s over. I can’t wait forever, please this isn’t a memory you want to own, is there anything you have to say?” Derrick had not been keeping up with his memories, so Nick sat silently in the room, “OK”, she said.
Derrick took off the headset and looked up at Nick, “I’m going to have to ask for that money back.”
“You already bought it, and the money is gone, you consented to this memory.”

“You tricked me, you never gave me any warning.”

“It’s not up to me to warn you, I get the memories, it’s up to you to remember,” Nick said.

“This isn’t fair.”

“You know what isn’t fair, having to sit and watch a wonderful person ripped apart. Having to hear her plead with you but I can’t respond because you can’t even bother to listen. The worst thing is that she was always going to give you chance after chance. You were going to keep ignoring her so yes, I wasn’t entirely honest. If you had been doing your bit, listening, you wouldn’t have fallen for it. “

“You’re not supposed to get involved.”

“You’re not supposed to be skimming my pay. Like I said surries find a way of getting even.”

“Now what?”

“Fire me.” Nick packed his gear away and rose from the table. Derrick sat unblinking, unsure of what happened. Nick left the cafe. Derick remained there for quite some time.

Nick walked down the street, a smile crept onto his face. He smiled because he got one over on his former employer and because now they were free to be together. He saw Catlin parked up ahead. Nick tried to keep cool, but his step quickened. Catlin didn’t see Nick. He approached her passenger side. He knocked the window she looked up at him and lowered.

“Nick”, she said.

“Where are we off to?”

“We?”, she looked around, “Oh.” Bill Carthage exited the restaurant and got into the car beside Catlin. Bill ignored Nick.

“What’s this?” Nick asked.

“You didn’t, I am so sorry, I thought you knew,” she said, “I mean you’re a surry for god’s sake.”

“I thought.”

“Surries shouldn’t think”.

“Shall we?” Bill said interjecting.

Catlin nodded, she gave a look to Nick. The car disappeared around a corner.

A woman approached Nick, she was pretty and had a big smile on her face.

“Nick,” she said, “It’s me, Catlin, we have a date.”

“Sure”.