Monday, January 25, 2016

A New Story for No One

Dear No One,
I have another story I want to do aside from Lady in the Labyrinth. I'm sending you the first few chapters to decide whether I should keep going with one or the other. Let me know what you think.


Chapter One

Everything is elemental; this is the first thing we learn before being tested. Lines of young people are led into the huge, creased dome they call the hive. Nervous or fearful or resigned, I fall into the final category. This is my seventh testing, and by now it is a given that all this is just formality. The solemn looks, and sober music, none of it matters. No one Senses on their seventh try. If it was going to happen i done so years ago.
Walking beside me is a kid around eleven years old. This would be his first trip unless his parents had had enough influence with the regulators to get him an early trial. Some of us show signs of a Sense at a very young age, the powerful ones usually do. This boy didn't have the look. He was too anxious, his eyes roving everywhere.
Hey, I whisper, and he practically hops in surprise. We aren't supposed to speak in the halls of the hive, like it's going to disturb the psychic resonance or something. The newbies take the warnings particularly seriously. "You're going to be fine." I tell him. "Don't worry."
His eyes went huge as he shook his head, probably trying to tell me to shut up, poor thing.
There is plenty of air between us and the ceiling, but the passage is so wide it feels like the stone is coming down on us. There is a slight breeze moving inward, dry and cool, moving so as to suggest that it is also going to be tested. It will also lose its value if it fails. Lanterns that never run out of fuel, werelights, lead us down the curve to the waiting area.
There are rows of benches that fill up quickly; the rest of us stand in the corners and spare spaces in involuntary clumps, many waiting out in the halls. There are several arches leading to this chamber, and a single door to the testing ground. Proctors in white were calling names from vellum scrolls, and the youngest were hurrying to have themselves checked off and go through the door. The children are the most likely to succeed. The older boys and girls were all proven failures.
I waited two hours for a seat. The room had been downgraded from packed to crowded. I would be among the last called, and I had nothing to do but wait. I put my head in my hands.
"Hellebore?" I flinched a little at my own name. It wasn't a proctor calling me, it was a girl a year behind me. She had failed five times instead of six. She was brown haired and wide mouthed, so that her smile seemed to eat her face in a not unpretty way, and this was the only day of the year I would see her.
"Solace." I greeted her, pretending to be happy, and stood up for her to give me a quick hug. We lived in different provinces, and would have never met if not for this room, if not for having to come back. It should have been a good thing to see a familiar face in a place like this, it would have been, except that it reminded me I would never have another chance. What were you supposed to talk about with someone who was seeing you for the last time.
"How do you feel? She asked me.
"Not good." I stayed standing, letting someone else have the bench so we could move away from the crowd to talk.
"Nothing's going to happen." She said.
I grimaced, "That's the problem. I'm going to be sent home again."
By the wall we could pretend we were alone, our voices concealed beneath the general din of nervous adolescents. Solace twisted at the waist, uncomfortable and fidgeting. "Would that be so bad? I'm going home too, and I don't think I'll come back. There wouldn't be any point."
"Then why bother coming this year?" I was sharper than I had intended. Forgoing a test was something I couldn't imagine, however small the chance that I would discover a Sense. The barest hope was worth travelling across the country, saving all year to come to the hive again. My dad had stopped paying for these excursions when I was thirteen, and it was clear I didn't have any talents hidden in me. But I couldn't let go of my hope, of my daydreams of splendor and power. My family wasn't totally without gifts, I had a grandparent with Earthsense and a distant cousin who could bend steel. I didn't know them personally, but if I passed the test I would go to stay with one of them.
Solace looked away from me, still shifting. I had hurt her. "Nothing changes," she said, "We'll go on living like our parents do. You don't need a Sense to be a glassblower, my dad does well enough, and he's letting me practice too."
I nodded, a Senser with a hint of either glass or flame affinities could do ten times the work her father did, that was if they bothered. Most crafts were beneath a Senser. The primary exception being Steelsensers who forged the best armor and weapons in the realm, and Earthsensers who raised the fortifications that kept our cities safe from the wilds.
"I don't want to be a merchant." I sounded petulant even to myself.
"Better than a porter," she shot back, "or a servant or a serf. We can live in the cities and have most of the privileges Sensers do. It isn't something to mope over."
I kept myself from getting angry. This was her way of coping with a situation she could not change. She was as talentless as I was, and she pretended it was of no importance. It was important, though, and there was nothing I wouldn't give to go through that door and experience a Sense, any Sense, and all the power and privilege that went with it. It was the most important thing in my life and I had already failed it half a dozen times.
"I guess you're right," I said, not wanting to fight, wanting to focus on something else.
She was wearing her best suit, the woman's style being a veritable labyrinth of folds and layers and overlapping patterns of navy blue and purple edgings. Solace was lean, but the suit padded her sufficiently to give the appearance of curves. She caught me looking at her and I glanced past her face to the benches.
"What is it?" She smiled, transforming her face in an instant with it.
"Nothing, " I said, "I was distracted."
We talked more easily over the next few hours as the benches to clear. Meals were not provided, and veterans like us knew to bring snacks. I had bread sticks baked around small sausages, and she had brought fruit and cheese, so our combined meal was a success.
"We're good planners." She said, poking my shoulder.
"Bad planners who happen to be lucky." I said.
"Solace!" A proctor called her name. She smiled again, and slipped a note in my suit pocket as she went by me, gone before I could say anything. When she went through the door her face was blank. I didn't expect I would see her again. I examined the note, still standing there alone. It was a neat square tied with red twine. It smelled faintly of her, though I had not before noticed that she had a smell. I put it away without reading it; I couldn't think about it with my test looming so close.
The numbers dwindled to under a dozen, my legs were restless. I paced to and fro, sweating profusely. My suit would be sticking to me when I failed again. I was sure Solace was gone, I would not see her in the room. When they did call my name I almost missed it.
I shot to my feet and nodded my way past the proctor. It was a woman I remembered from the previous years, and worse, she remembered me.
"Good luck, Hellebore."
I slammed the door on my way in, and in the silence of the proving grounds it was loud enough to cause every head to turn toward me. The few exceptions were those too enthralled by a Sense to notice a thunderbolt.
I ducked along the side of the chamber, embarrassed and trying to become invisible. I was in the main dome of the hive, the vault so high it felt like we were outside. Elemental displays dotted the open floor. There was a brazier for fire, a bowl full of water, and wind chimes moving without sound. Mounds of earth were on display near the center of the chamber, red clay and tawny sand, rich ,dark loam. A dais displayed six kinds of metal, bright ingots arranged in a semicircle, and other stages held timber or chalices filled with deadly liquids. Towers of glass surmounted stone faces, and gems decked a cage of ice. The paths were many, and each display was given its own space, its own sense of solace.
Power was woven into the dome so that Senses were enhanced. Some children experienced their affinities before their first testing, the rest of us could use the extra help. After you first knew the Sense, it became progressively easier to call it up.
This time, like every other, I was hopeless. The elements on show felt no different than they ever had. A dead weight settled inside me, the knowledge that nothing was going to happen to me. It would be just as Solace had said. I was not a Senser, I was a lumpen, like everyone else. I would never vote, or own land, and the Sensers could do almost anything they liked to me without fear of repercussion . It was how my family lived, the life of the majority, and I hated it all the more for that.
My eyes were drawn to a vase of water near the center of the room. It was a trap. Anyone who had been in the hive half as often as I had knew what it meant. The forbidden Sense, that could manipulate life itself. All the Sensers had one thing in common, no matter how varied the matter they controlled, it was inanimate. The most powerful Steelsenser could not cause the flower to quiver. The Sensers could crush life, tear it and cut it and burn it, but they could not command it.
There were no exceptions. I tore my gaze away from the flower and circled the proving grounds along the outer track. I half closed my eyes, walking slowly and reviewing the mental exercises that were supposed to open my mind to the Sense.
The long path was deserted, they would clear the dome soon and declare the testing finished for the year. There were windows in the high curve of the dome, and the day was clearly dying. Bright now, it would close within a half hour or so, leaving us in darkness.
That would be the end of my long fantasy. I would he forced to accept my life for what it was, Senseless. My head felt fuzzy, it might have been exhaustion or anxiety. There were seven or eight losers like me waiting to be kicked out, and as many proctors watching them. I passed the brazier and inhaled a lungful of smoke. Coughing, I continued walking, not giving any thought to my destination.
The flower was right in front of me, a white lily . It was outlined by a faint gray aura, a trick of the light. It was clearer to my eyes than anything else in the room. The softness of the petals was on my fingertips even as my hands remained at my side. I loved the flower, the smell was making me dizzy. A taste surfaced on my tongue, earthy and bitter. One of the petals peeled away from the blossom. It broke free, and floated with a languid patience, rocking slowly down until it touched the packed earth of the floor.
Only then did I realize what had happened, and what I had done. I turned to leave the flower, to leave the proving grounds. No one else could see it, had seen it. This was worse than being a lumpen, it was the worst possible thing. I would leave this place with the knowledge that I was a lifelessness, and that I could never reveal it to another soul.
A proctor was behind me, a man in his forties with a chain around his neck swinging a glass bead filled with sand. Many Sensers wore chains like this, advertising their affinities. Of course, he might have more than what he displayed.
"How are you feeling?" His voice was mild, his gaze was not. Or I could have been paranoid.
"I'm not feeling anything." I said, "I'm going to leave."
"It isn't quite time", the proctor said, "you have until dark."
I nodded and bowed away as quickly as I could without seeming suspicious. Maybe he hadn't seen anything, or hadn't caught on to what he saw. Maybe the whole thing had been a figment of my overactive mind. No one was guarding the exit, so I pushed through into a long, torchlit hall. I had walked this path often enough to know well its slow worn tiles. There was a courtyard beyond the hive, a square over one hundred paces to a side, lined with pylons as tall as two men. It was darker here, in the shadows of the stone, and soon I was all but running to escape them.
The marble of the courtyard was a single sheet, coaxed into perfect smoothness by a powerful Senser. I was across it in a few ragged breaths, past the unguarded gate and onto the road behind the hive. Here I had to slow to a rapid walk to avoid drawing attention to myself. Early night, the roads were not crowded but there were still people about. Many of the shops and apprenticers had already closed, and there were no more than a handful of wagons and carriages about, foot traffic and evening revelers.
The testing day was an unofficial holiday, wheb sons and daughters became heirs, and family fortunes were changed forever. Strains of song and laughter drifted across the air of night. They were echoes of the fates far happier than mine.
This was Halcior, and though it was no equal to the capitol of the realm, it was the second brightest star. Hundreds of thousands lived here, a mass of humanity that defied all understanding. The streets were too numerous for anyone to know them all. I followed the main road, not wanting to be lost on my way out. I had to hurry to reach the gates before they were shut for the night. One could leave the city at any time, but after the city was closed I would need to identify myself to the watch. I didn't want to be remembered.
Every step I expected a proctor to appear, or a Hunter to come around the corner of the next alley. There were sensers whose sole purpose was to end the misuse of the power, and to find people like me.
"Hellebore, is that you?" The voice came from the porch of an inn, the one I had stayed at the night before the test. There was a small group coming out onto the road, shutting a vision of warmth and laughter behind them. Travelling with a group was safer, and I had spent some time with them on the road to Halcior. A decision I regretted now.
"Hello Falm," I said. "How are you?"
The man was a merchant, middle aged and thoughtful. We had many lengthy, meandering conversations while travelling together. "Grand,"he exclaimed, "grand! You remember I told you it would be a week before I sold my silks? I've sold the whole lot already." He still had a mug in his hand, and it was clear that he and his company were prepared for a night of pleasure, but his face turned abruptly serious. "Your test, what happened?"
I shrugged, "The same as the years before." I was already walking away, and his next words were spoken to my back.
"Sorry to hear that, son. You had us all hoping."
I nodded and smiled and kept moving, I couldn't afford to be delayed, even if it meant being rude to a friend."
I was nearing the last block before the gate when I Sensed a man. It was like the flower, though less overwhelming . He was ten or so paces away, tucked in the recess of a tenement. He could have been a vagrant or a footpad, I had no means of telling which, but there was a hint of menace on my tongue. I am at a loss to explain what menace tastes like.
I backpedaled, losing precious minutes. If I had not been certain before, I would have been now, this was the Lifesense. Like anyone whose Sense first manifested in the Hive, I would experience it intermittently until it was a constant fact of my existence.
The wall was fifty feet high, studded with battlements and towers, the work of a consortium of Earth and Stonesensers. There were no cracks or blocks or seams, and it was inspected regularly for damage. The raw power that this conjuring had required beggared the imagination. The consortium that had made the wall could have summoned an earthquakes easily, or ripped the top off a mountain and dropped it on the capitol leagues and leagues away. The gate was solid steel, Sensed out of unworked tallo they had brought out of the earth. There were three guards standing around the opening into the wild. One door was already closed, the other left open a half hour longer for stragglers.
I cut back to a brisk walk, and straightened my jacket, wiping the sweat from my face with the back of my hand.
The watchmen tracked my approach. They wore the mail and tabards of Halcior soldiers, and I didn't see any beads. Some Sensers fulfilled their military training by working as guards instead of joining sorties into the deep wilds. These men were almost certainly lumpen.
"alone?" The nearest said.
"I have friends on the other side of the wall." I lied. There were hamlets scattered all over the few miles of patrolled safety around Halcior. They sold their excess crops in the markets, and could always seek asylum if there was another war. It wasn't completely implausible.
"Dressed well for a walk in the woods," another commented.
"It was my last testing." I said, "I want to get home."
There was much unsaid but understood in these few words. These men had all been tested at least once when they were young, and they had hoped, and they had all failed. The first man waved me through.
"Safe journey." He said, and I thanked him.
The sight of the open road was beyond welcome; I felt my heart lift, and the tingling in my spine ease. There were no windows or doors here for eyes to lurk behind. I went a few miles, too far to be spotted from the city, and left the road for a copse of trees to spend the night in. I could have begged a bed in one of the hamlets, but I didn't want to explain myself to the people who lived there, or to lie.
It was only once I sat down in the darkness beneath the limbs and leaves that I understood how prepared I was. I had a few coins, enough to get me home, but I had not purchased any provisions in the city, or stopped at the inn to retrieve my normal clothes. I had no water.
My suit jacket had grown uncomfortable, so I removed it to lay across my lap like a blanket . In the process, I remembered the note from Solace. I unfolded it, and struggled to read her handwriting in the starlight that filtered down to me.
I'm going to miss seeing you. Next year, write me a letter.

Below the note was the address of her parents glass shop beside her signature. I refolded it, and tied the string exactly as it had been. What a strange thought. The sensers had their own message services, but lumpen had to entrust their correspondence to travelers or merchants or an expensive courier. The only way to ensure a letter got anywhere was promising payment on delivery, and he wasn't about to ask Solace's parents to pay for a missive between them. Did she want him to come see her himself?
I didn't think of Solace often aside from testing time. There had been more than enough to occupy my days other than mooning over a girl I had met on a handful of occasions, who lived halfway across the realm.
Suddenly, the prospect of never seeing her again was a sad one, but I had other worries.
Uncomfortably at first, then with increasing confidence, I cycled through the exercises that were meant to help open a mind to its Sense. They had never succeeded before, but now I was aware of the trees, the oak at my back, it age and strength. Sap was coursing in it like the blood in my own veins, and yet it was so slow I would be an old man before had
passed a handful of its heartbeats. I breathed in scents that were new to me, of the pollen and the grass. On a whim, I asked it all to move. There were no words, but a communication nonetheless.
The copse wavered in an intangible wind, and leaves fell about me in a shower. My concentration broke, and it stopped. What I was doing was forbidden, and that couldn't quiet the thrill of power. I could never be a Senser, nor tell anyone what I was, and that was not as important to me as it had been earlier in the day. There was magic in me. I was not a lumpen, whatever people would think. That idea was intoxicating.
For a few moments, the likelihood of my eventual capture and execution meant very little. The world was alive around me, truly alive, and I had been blind to it my entire life, and all the others, even other Sensers, were blind to it as well. I knew the oak, the bark and the boughs, the grass and the trail of ants in the roots and dirt. I was expanding beyond my body in a sphere of awareness, and all within the sphere became a part of me. How could a thing so wonderful be forbidden? I had heard stories, legends that spoke of the evils Lifesensers could accomplish. But any Senser could wreak havoc, they proved that to the monsters of the wild at every opportunity. Killing was killing, wasn't it? So why was this not a gift? Why was I different?
I felt it wake up, the six foot monitor that called this copse its home. The lizard's tongue flicked out, tasting me. I tasted it tasting me.
Its mouth splayed in a his, revealing rows of saw-teeth, hissing as it surged out of the wood.

William Myrl; Letters to No One (37)

Dear No One,
The days all twist and tumble til we cannot parse one from the next. Life is looking forward; to a paycheck or a letter, to a Friday or a publication date. One goal floats into the next, and little changes in between, there is only the hope that some part of one adds on to its follower, that someone is keeping score. For Christmas, Blue, my celly, and I made a pizza. We bought flour from a kitchen worker and cooked it in the microwave to form the semblance of real crust. The two of us get along well, I make him laugh. We have nothing in common aside from context, so most of our interaction is just what is necessary of people living in such close quarters. I talk to him enough, respond enough, that I can say I'm not ignoring him. I'm happiest pretending I'm alone. I wonder what it would be like to share a cell with someone I would talk to if I didn't have to. Ender or Mao; I wouldn't pick Jark because we could never have a conversation that wasn't about a shared project. Too similar in some ways, too dissimilar in others.
On the weekends, final lockdown isn't until one in the morning. Ender and I will sit in the pod, oftentimes the lone pair to remain out so late, listening to music and working on whatever is at hand. Lately I've been drawing tellurians for my Mythopoeia series. He is usually working on maps for his zombie role playing game. We talk in circular puns and dick jokes; I pick at his past and his pathology. He will be here well after I am gone. I have seen pictures of his ex, of them together. It is the strangest thing, and it can only be stranger for him; to look at them and know what he has done, to have that tangled knot of love and of despair, and never letting go. We joke about things it isn't polite to joke about. I try to wear that mask, to have those eyes, and imagine what it would feel like to have murdered someone that you love. I can't explain it, and nothing he says will do. He has serious issues with rage, and though I've never witnessed an explosion, it isn't difficult to imagine him catching fire. It makes me grateful for my passivity.
At work, I sometimes help the backup cutter. His machine doesn't slice the fabric automatically, so every layer has to be done with scissors. He spreads the fabric to the length of four or five patterns, scrub shirts or pants or jumpsuits. We wali back and forth, cut, then back and forth. He switches out the rolls when they run out. Fifty layers, or seventy five, he only uses me for the big orders. We don't speak more than a few sentences to each other in two hours. Back and forth, and back and forth, sort of like the days.

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (36)

Dear No One, 
Procure a ramen noodle package, and crush the contents. Pour a quarter to half of the seasoning packet inside and shake it up. Pour that into an old popcorn bag, and place it all into the microwave, except the original ramen bag, obviously. Cook for thirty seconds, shake it up, repeat until its had about two minutes or so, I prefer a bit more. Eat it 
So there is an original series on syfy called Childhoods End. It is about an alien race appearing in the sky and teaching us to be nice. It feels like a short story concept. The odd part is that the aliens aren't teaching anyone anything. They prevent wrongdoing, force cooperation to help bring food and water to the thirsty and starving, and generally nanny the human race. They heal some people, essentially at random. Why isn't the alien intelligence more clever? Why is their big plan to brute force a solution that requires their long term commitment? Because this alien intelligence is actually writers employed by syfy. You can't actually write about something smarter than yourself, because you can't know what that something would actually do or think. 
So it turns out that the aliens are actually space Satan, who come from the planet space hell, where god lives, whom they call the overmind. They psychically devour all the worlds children, prevent all further childbirth, and blow up the planet in eighty years. This was based on a short story by Arthur C Clarke, or someone, which should have tipped me off that it would be horrible and not make any sense, but I was a fool and watched anyway.
I am going to make a concerted effort to learn japanese. I have all the necessary materials, and I have said this before, and it will probably mean a mighty effort for about a week and a half. I read a book about learning languages more efficiently, and it mostly referred to resources I do not have; the internet and other people. I used a pen pal booklet to attempt to contact a couple of native speakers, and it will likely come to naught. Still, the chance of having someone who could be helpful to contact was worth the effort of writing a few letters.
I listen,to a lot of Japanese music, not actually useful, but it feels like Im doing something positively immersive. Amenoto is good, and someone called Draft Kings. Searching out worthwhile foreign music on the kiosk is no minor task. I try to preview everything I see with a Japanese name that isn't obviously terrible, as exploitation bands usually are, and it does yield rare dividends.
Syfy is also premiering a series called the Magicians, based on a book series by Lev Grossman. I don't think I was writing you when I read them; it was one of the most stressful experiences of my literary life, Bridge to Terebithia stressful. It makes us hate and hurt in equal parts. I am not going to relive that via the series, however little else is on Wednesday nights.
I am sorry I don't have anything exuberantly exciting to share with you. Ive been helping the shipping department out, which means I've been folding clothes and taping them in plastic bags. I actually don't mind. It keeps my hands moving, and my mind is free to wander. The hours pass more swiftly that way than when I spend them pretending to work. 
The days pass more swiftly being there, a good and bad thing. Five months until my essay is published.

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (35)

Dear No One,
It has been a different sort of week. I went to work, returned to the pod, and palavered with my new friends. I doodled, and contemplated upcoming games of the pen and paper variety. I watched network television. None of that, in and of itself, is unusual. These things go on, and above them come my hobbies. Except I wrote nothing, drew nothing of consequence. The measure of my self worth is directly correlated to my production. It has been this way since I was in jail, and possibly before, when I was a real person and didn't know it. It isn't that I don't want to make things, I think I am more comfortable with myself than I used to be. I have done enough to take the edge off of my desperation. It is partially the drugs, and partially being more comfortable with my living arrangements, and partially having accreted an appreciable body of work. There is also Ender. He makes me laugh sometimes, not because he's relating a humorous story, or because it's socially appropriate to laugh sometimes, or because I made myself laugh talking to him, or because of situation humor; he made me laugh by saying something clever. My brothers do that, but they aren't here. The British fellow and Jark both have, I believe, but not with any frequency, and not in the same way. This may seem to be an awfully specific thing to be talking about. You have to understand, that the majority of my daily conversation consists of me making small jokes and quips, most of them ridiculous or puerile. It's how I respond to nearly everything anyone says to me that does not require an informational response. Most people don't mind, or find me funny, and any offense I have caused hasn't had any serious repercussions. This is my sonar. Sometimes I get a response, someone who recognizes my patter as an invitation to play rather than a dismissal. I've been amused, interested, but I soon find they are not playing quite the same game as I, they find something taboo, or they can't keep up, or they are following a circular track that quickly grows stale. I am not disappointed, this is what I have come to expect. 
It is as if I have been pinging for nearly seven years without answer, and suddenly, someone pings back. That is my surprise. So this is Ender; as it turns out he did kill someone, and it was horrible. I read his stuff, and he is not a good writer, but he doesn't have any delusions about being one either. He had a frankly unbelievable childhood, even accounting for what is likely some exaggeration. It wasn't exactly abuse. It was a child in adult situations, and a lot of anger issues. He was a child when he was arrested, even if he was a child who had assumed the role of an adult. He had a breakdown, a violent breakdown. This isn't any kind of excuse, but it is an indication that he is harmless most of the time. We are alike in some ways, though as he once observed; he is passive-aggresive, while I am passive-passive. It isn't exactly true, but it is a solid approximation. I respond to high levels of stress with apathy and distancng behaviours. I cut myself off from the stressor, and all else along with it. He attacks.
There is one other reason for my recent spurt of serenity. One of my essays is going to be legitimately published by a university press in California.

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (34)

Dear No One,
I have had an interesting uninteresting weekend. There was a drawing I wanted to do, a portrait of a friend modified to look like a fox demon. I've watched a lot of anime. I actually started on the outline on Thursday, and decided I wasn't working on it again until the coming week. As often happens when I begin a drawing, I was unable to do anything else productive until it was finished. Friday morning I make progress, shading most of the face. But the mouth wasn't right, so I e everything below the nose. Then I finished the eyes, and discovered that one was out of position. With resignation, I put the picture away, and began again that afternoon. Then it was 12:43 the following night, and I was finished. It wasn't a perfect likeness, but clearly recognizable, and as a picture it was one of my best. It should be on my website at some point. Sunday was essentially a wash. I lifted a heavy thing and put it down again several times. I sorted my photo album. There are two types of people who possess and pay attention to photo albums; nice old ladies and incarcerated felons. Think about it. 
The rest was a waste, aside from sending a letter home. Last weekend I wrote twenty three pages and this weekend I wrote none. Not a fabulous record, thanksgiving will give me an extra day free from the shop, at least. And I won't use that efficiently either.
I am sorry I am being boring. Tommorowland is on. Then the Walking Dead. Mundanity is the greater part of the prison experience, and waiting. For example, I was moved to this building two weeks ago and I still don't have a pillow. The first two days I asked every CO I saw in the entryway to find me one. I talked to a sergeant, and he told me they were doing exchanges on Thursday. I reiterated that I did not have a pillow, and therefore could not engage in an exchange. He told me to put in a request form, so I did, and here we are. There's no one to force these people to do their jobs. This allows us to get away with things, like a strip of sheet clothesline to hang my towels, and being able to sit in the pod chairs against the wall. That's very exciting. And when I need a power of attorney signed, it takes seven forms and three weeks, even though the handbook says a notary should be made available to me within twenty four hours of a request. So I've got some extra sheets bundled into a faux pillow, and I've stopped asking. You win, Virginia, my spirit is broken, and you get to keep your pillow. 
Ill put a complaint form in tomorrow.

William Myrl 

William Myrl; Letters to No One (33)

Dear No One,
I have to tell you about Paper Towns. It is a coming of age movie based on a book, naturally, that was done by the people who brought us The Fault in Our Stars. I was drawn into it far more forcefully than I expected,ridiculous narration and all. I like romantic comedies, which this sort of is. Im attached to the idea of quixotic love, being that it is the only sort of romance I can indulge in these circumstances. Im probably more affected by genre movies than I should be because of that. 
So...Paper Towns. Cara Delavigne is the central point around which this movie turns. It was strange watching her on screen, given that I've spent over twenty hours analyzing the features of her face. It isn't a fixation, I've done a few portraits of her, culminating in Naga Delavigne, the snake girl in my gallery. She's an internationally famous model, and she has some lovely angles, but this movie made her look oddly plain. Her voice surprised me, its the most attractive thing about her. Cara Delavigne has the lower register of a succubus.
But that isn't what the movie is about, and it isn't the reason I am writing you about it now. The ending was murder. It was pat and unsatisfying. Spoiler alert. He spends the better part of the movie looking for her because the night he spent with her was the best of his life and also the night before she disappears. She left clues to her location, though I should mention that the clues were totally unnecessary, he could have found her with five minutes on google. She went on to him about Paper Towns, and then goes to live in the little town next to the most famous Paper Town in america. She leaves an identifying post on the webpage for said Paper Town that states she is living there. They find this post the first time they look up the Paper Town, after half an hour of movie time snipe hunting, and it confirms shes there. It wouldn't be much of a movie without the mystery and the clues, but really, he should have seen that post on day one.
So he finds her, quite by chance, as he is about to leave the special town. The meeting is awkward. I'm fine with and expected this. The clues were obscure enough at the end that they appeared accidental, which they were. But they have smoothies and talk and he feels a bit better about his love for her being mostly one sided. Then comes the parting kiss, and the dilemma: should he go with her or go home? Of course, he is a good protagonist and goes home. I'll take it, except that there's no suggestion they are still in contact afterward. She talks to her little sister every day, apparently, but her little sister never told her Q was in her room looking for clues? She couldn't have given him her number too? Instead, there is a Breakfast Club speech about growing up and the pitfalls of idolization. I am not interested in that. I do not watch movies to be lectured on ethics for juveniles, and yes, I know I'm not the target audience, but I doubt the juveniles are watching it for that either. The moral of the movie about quixotic love was that we should let our quixotic loves go and live our lives like happy cogs. Perhaps this upsets me more than it would other people because if I let go of my quests quixotic there is nothing left. And I dislike when I can hear people pretending to be wise. The movie could have ended with a phone call. It could have ended with him agreeing to go with her, at least that would have been surprising, it could have gone to black on that and I would have been delighted. At least it would have been better than the fortune cookie pretense at a lesson learned we got instead.
A final quibble, why is no one trying to help Margot, Cara's character? She is plainly suffering from serious mental illness. She has a clear behavioral pattern. She runs away to try to escape her suffocating existential issues. Healthy, happy people don't ask why they're alive, they don't ask who they are with that kind of desperation. She has mood swings, and has trouble gauging the emotions and intentions of others. She makes major life decisions in a state of constant crisis. Her parents say she has pulled this disappearing act four times before. This behavior is not a new thing, even if it happened to be triggered this time by her boyfriend cheating on her. You don't run away from home to sleep on the couch of someone you met on the internet and work for minimum wage in the middle of nowhere instead of going to college because you are chemically balanced.
Who will help this girl?
Okay, so I've taken up this whole letter talking about Paper Towns, I hope I haven't bored you. More on real life next time.

William Myrl (32)

William Myrl; Letters To No One (32)

Dear No One,
I feel that I have been neglectful of you. Typing Lady in the Labyrinth has kept my adulterous thumbs busy in another venue. I have a bit to catch you up on. My new address is C2, a pod that was once meant to be all shop workers and is now more of a grab bag. My new celly is a man named Blue, though his actual name is a different color. Blue is a thin, dark skinned inmate of indeterminate age who speaks and moves in the manner of perpetual addle. He is a wonderful celly, at least so far, because he believes in doing his own time, as it were. We talk a little, mostly he plays chess in the pod or watches TV with his earbuds in. Everything is so loud in the silence. Nearly a year with Alfred has acclimated me to a constant aural assault. My tv was on all day, and usually blasting something stupid. Alfred had weak ears, and he enjoyed the history channel, Wheel of Fortune, The Voice. He wanted us to share things, and always look after each other. That may not seem too great a defamation of character, but when you are forced to live with someone you would normally never associate with, his attemps to make you like a family can chafe. I would much rather we both watch our own tvs, and eat our own food, and not try to plan to cook meals together at every opportunity. He gave me a lot of food these past eleven months, I would rather he had put that money toward replacing his tv. All that he could make was soup. Even when he was making wraps, he was really just spooning soup into a tortilla shell. I have never known a man more proud of his culinary prowess. I shouldn't speak ill of one I abandoned to the whims of the unit manager, but it all bothered me toward the end.
I think I have a friend. It is an odd feeling. Point of order, I may have two of them. They are the compounds preeminent manga collectors. They both work in the shops, and that is where their money goes. They run roleplaying games, Pathfinder and some zombie apocalypse thing respectively. Let us call them Mao and Ender.
Ender is a few years my junior, short and mildly stocky. He comes from a line of dwarves that hail from the mountains of Mondoria. He dabbles in art and writing, and though I haven't read his stuff yet I hope to cultivate him. He has a legitimate borderline personality disorder diagnosis, but he evinces none of the bitchiness observed in another known BPD sufferer Im aquainted with. He actually seems quite together, and that is probably coherent with IED, another disorder that involves occassional eruption punctuating periods of normalcy. Two out of three psychiatrists recommended he be confined to a mental hospitol, or whatever they call them now, rather than going to prison. Guess which opinion the judge sided with. It hasn't come out yet what he did, I generally let confessions come about naturally, but I do know he won't go home before his fiftieth birthday. My guess is that there was a fatality involved.
Most of the people in this pod retire by nine thirty, so the kiosk and the phones are readily available to those ready to brave the pod after ten. Compared to where I came from, it is paradisical.
It is after eleven now, I promised myself I would type this tonight. I haven't done anything else today except work eight hours for four dollars and watch the thursday night NBC lineup. I truly need to step up my self control game if I am going to continue working as a clerk. My drawing suffers, and my writing is squeezed into a smaller bottle.
My eyes grow heavy, and my thumbs forget their skill. I will write more soon, hopefully before my bedtime.


William Myrl

PS: Boom Clap.