October 23, 2012

"Junkyard Sprites" (Formerly "Junkyard Guardians")

What wonders can we find if we just stop and look a little closer to even the most unsuspecting of places? What happens when we let obsession blind us?
There they were. They’re so small, probably 4 inches tall. Little humanoid bodies, like dainty metal dolls. They each had a glow of a different color about them. Like pulsing LEDs getting brighter and dimmer. Yet, through the light, I could see their bodies were a dull gray. Every so often little puffs of steam would shoot out of one or another. 
In the faint dusk light, I could barely make out their shimmering, insect-like wings. When the bustle of the city ebbed, I thought I could hear what sounded like the whir of servos coming off them. 
Their movement was so graceful, yet so mechanical. Like a choreographed dance of industrial robots. So smooth, so exact. Yet they moved with the breeze, so carefree. They were nimble and precise as they picked up pieces of metal or electronic junk, sorting and discarding pieces with some sort of mysterious intent. Puzzling and entrancing all at once, their strange behavior was. 
In the air there was the smell of old motor oil and wet dirt. A junkyard is never a pretty sight, let alone after a rain, but that’s when they come out. I didn’t know what they were, but they were the closest things to fairies I’ve ever seen. 
As the sunlight faded, their distinct colors stood out more: blue, orange, red, violet and a dozen or so more. Each had a distinct personality. The one that caught my eye more and more each visit was the turquoise one. She was always the first, always the last. She seemed more curious, more courageous than the others. I don’t know why exactly, but she became my favorite. 
As the sun finally set, the orange street lights came on. That’s when they left. They dashed off towards the East where its dark and hard to follow. They lived deep in the heart of the junkyard, amongst the exposed graves of steel carcasses, all dull gray and red, rusted from the elements. At least, as far as I could tell, that’s where they must have lived. 
I had only been living here for a few weeks, but I saw them out there every night I walked past the dump, and I was just fascinated. There hadn’t been a day that went by when I hadn’t thought about them: the glint of their metallic bodies, the whine of their mechanisms. At the same time they were magical and alien and yet very much of this Earth, of this dirty city. 
Even the rain, as much as it poured, couldn’t clean the filth off this city, and the dump was a testament to that. Yet, that was what the fairies called their home. I often wondered how they ended up living there. 
Where did they come from? I knew they weren’t simply someone’s creation. They were too mystical. It was almost as if they were born of the junkyard, like the fairies and sprites of old forests. 
Once again, I found myself crossing the bridge that went over and around the the junkyard. My pace was fast. Cars sped past me. They were all filled with sad people mindlessly stuck in their ruts, going from boring jobs to boring homes. Not me. That magic, that moment was all mine. The sunlight shone through the chain link fence. I knew I didn’t have long. 
I was practically running when I got to the spot. I was giddy and anxious. This time was going to be special. I just knew it. 
I stopped and caught my breath, then I crouched. I could never tell if they were able to see me, but I wanted to be careful. I didn’t want to scare them and risk never seeing them again. I loved those fairies. 
Then I saw her. First, as always, she was cautious at first, staying low and hopping from one perch to another. Then the next came out. Soon, one by one, there were a dozen or so fluttering about with their graceful precision. Each of their individual iridescence darted and danced. It was a beautiful show. 
I sat, mesmerized, as usual for minutes. Then, I didn’t know what came over me, but I had to get closer, closer to her. I found the opening in the fence and silently made my way towards them. I was careful not to make a sound. 
The sun was approaching the horizon. The lights would come on soon. I didn’t know what I wanted to to then, nor do I know now. I just had to get close. 
I was almost at arms length from the turquoise one, and had managed not to be noticed. Up close, her glow was very bright. I found cover behind a rusted street sign. I peaked over the top resting both my hand on either side of my face. The only part of me visible was the top of my head, from my eyes up.
She was so close, I could feel on my face, the puffs of steam she gave off. Then something amazing happened. She saw me. I know she did. I know she was looking at me and didn’t fly away. I couldn’t tell if it was a few seconds or a few minutes, but I swear she was looking at me with her shiny black little eyes. My heartbeat quickened. I knew today was going to be special. 
In my excitement, I probably put more weight on the sign than I should have because it collapsed and brought down more trash with it. The fairies scattered, but not her. She couldn’t. 
What happened seemed to progress in slow motion. A pipe that fell with the sign hit her. I nearly screamed as I saw her get flung into the mud. 
I was breathless as i went to her. I found her in the mud. I got down on my knees and picked her up. I delicately wiped off as much mud as I could. She was even lighter than I expected. Up close I could tell how delicate she really was. Between thin plates that made up her “skin,” I saw tiny gears and thin wires. Her limbs on her left side were torn off. Sparks flew from the torn wires. 
Her turquoise glow was flickering and getting dimmer. Her crushed wings twitched, uselessly. Her one good arm was reaching up, grasping for anything. The other, half gone, moved in an aimless circle. The little body was writhing, slowly in my hands. 
I didn’t know what to do with myself, with this beautiful creature that I just destroyed. I just sat there on my knees in the mud. I was on the brink of bawling, but I couldn’t. The noise itself could do even more damage. I watched this delicate thing die in my hands. It moved less and less; the light became dimmer and dimmer, until finally... 
image credit: Late Night Junkyard CC BY-NC-SA havehart on deviantart.com

October 22, 2012

"That Night With Her Friend"

Fiction piece, inspired by a couple of people I know. The narrator is me, but a very sarcastic and exaggerated version of myself. Supposed to be funny, and again, Fiction.
     I was lying in bed, next to my wife, Penelope. We both had a long day. Her more than me. Before I go too far here, let me go back and recount the day in more detail.
     Penelope had met with this friend. I’m not sure where to begin with her. I guess her name. Her name is Emily. I don’t think anyone would call her autistic, but, on that note, I don’t think anyone would call her smart. If I could go on with describing her, before I talk more about what happened that night.
     She is of average height, but overweight. She has a bit of an overbite and is a slight mouth breather. Because she never quite closed her mouth, and has the vacant stare of some sort of animal, again, no one would really call her smart. She was, however, Penelope’s friend.
     Now, Penelope, is a beautiful young woman, with naturally blond hair, grey-blue eyes, and soft, perky breasts. Her smile is genuine and infectious, and she is more compassionate than anyone you’re likely to meet. Which is why, I think, she tends to befriend people more on the pathetic side.
     Anyways, this friend, Emily, and Penelope had spent a long day out, doing things together. Talking, mostly. This girl has had an on again-off again relationship with a goofy looking guy with a beard. He leaves her alone, feeling like crap. At least, that’s what I hear from Penelope.
     Well, they came home. Both Penelope and Emily arrived at around midnight. I was relaxing: sitting down with my writing and some music. Penelope sat by me on the big couch, while Emily slumped over in what could be called a sitting position.  Prior to their arrival, it should be known, I was given a small set of instructions.
     “Did you guys have a good time?” I directed this question in the general direction of the pale mass on the smaller couch, adjacent to the one I was on.
     “Yeah,” she snorted.
     Then, Penelope chimed in, “We had a great time. We talked and I did her makeup.”
     On cue, and with as much of a convincing a performance I could muster at that hour, I gave my lines. “Oh, you look nice, Emily.” Then, ad-libbing, “Penelope really likes that girly stuff.” Admittedly, not the best line, but I had to keep the ball in the air.
     The rest of the visit, at least for me, dragged on like a wet mop on a cold floor of an empty laundry mat at 2:49 AM. It was only 12:26 AM, local time.
     I’m pretty sure Penelope could tell I was ready to go to sleep. Emily, seemingly catatonic, in a lively sort of way, was still on the couch. I walked into the hall, followed by Penelope. She touched me on the shoulder to turn me around. Those slender arms lazily wrapped themselves around my neck. Those big blue eyes looked up at me and those supple lips opened up and whispered, softly, “Baby, Emily is feeling bad and I don’t want her to be alone, tonight.”
     “So y-” before I could finish, she moved up on her toes and kissed me, softly and sweetly.
     “Is it okay?” Again, with those eyes.
     “Yeah, it’s okay,” I said, gruffly, begrudgingly, yet understanding. I was never going to say “no.” She didn’t have to butter me up. It does help,  though.
     Penelope got some spare blankets around for Emily to sleep on the couch, while I brushed my teeth. As I did, I wondered how Penelope could tell she was feeling bad. Her expression never changes.
     Penelope and I made it to bed at the same time. As we made ourselves comfortable, she nuzzled up against me and said thank you. She gave me a squeeze, I kissed her forehead, and she fell asleep.
     I must have been asleep. I don’t remember not sleeping. I do remember getting aroused. Then I was awake. At first, I didn’t know what it was that I was feeling, but as I gained awareness, I figured out what it was exactly: a hand was fondling my genitals. It felt good, I have to admit. I turned to face Penelope, but she had her back to me, as she usually does when she sleeps. I was even more lucid now, but not enough to process that fact and get to the proper conclusion. Which is why I almost screamed when I looked down. I saw that dumb cow face, blankly gazing up toward the ceiling. I saw a slightly open mouth with drool dripping out of it, down the chin below. If I had my faculties about me, I probably would have kicked her in the face. In retrospect, I’m still not sure if that would have been a good idea. But I couldn’t do anything. I was mortified, petrified. It could have been a minute; it could have been twenty.
     I just endured. I endured until she shuddered slightly and emitted a sound that was a combination of a moan and a snort. I really couldn’t describe it better than that.
     Then, with all the grace of a pregnant hippo, she skulked away to her bed on the smaller couch adjacent to the big one. And I was left there, still mortified, still petrified, with my eyes wide and my mouth agape.
     Needless to say, I got little sleep that night.

October 21, 2012

Pre NanoWrimo Update #1

10 days and 15 hours

At this time, I have most of my important characters, my outline, my history, arc for my main, and general plot of my novel. I also have is a giant plot hole at the end of the first third. I'll figure it out. If not now, the pressure from writing and needing it will drill it out of me.

Soon I'll be stockpiling coffee, energy drinks, sticky notes, and maybe bacon. I have yet to find a suitable writing spot. I don't know what it is, but there's something about my desk. I find it really hard to write there. I like to write in coffee shops, but I know I can't do that every day. I can't be on the couch unless I unplug my TV. I know that has to happen, anyway.

I will blog when I can. I hope to update once a week after November starts. Four times. It's funny how a month can go by so fast sometimes, yet I don't think next month will be as forgiving.

October 20, 2012

My NanoWrimo Survival Kit

Apparently, these are things. So here's mine.


Modest 12" Samsung "Princeton". Basically, it's a MacBook Air competitor before Intel came up with the idea of an "UltraBook." Running Ubuntu, but I'll be writing all my stuff in Google Drive.

Nexus 7 Android Tablet

Second screen and perfect for reading and proofreading my work. Also, games for distractions.

Cheap composition notebook and black Pilot gel pen

My particular notebook was made out of sustainable sugarcane, $3. And those are my absolute favorite pens.

Google Drive

See above. For something this sensitive, I'd rather it be stored automatically in the cloud.

Coffee and my giant writer's mug

Frankly any caffeine will do, but coffee is my drink of choice. Black, bitter, very hot and very cheap. Dash of cinnamon for flavor. My mug was a gift, from Starbucks, but minimally branded.

Pandora and Songza

As far as writing goes, instrumental dubstep really get's my creativity flowing. Don't judge me. I also like Tool, Cake and the soundtrack to the french movie Micmacs

Messenger Bag and Duct Tape Attache Case

For a while I was obsessed with making things with black duct tape. One of the more useful things I made was a portfolio thing. I've been using it to carry loose papers, my notebook and my tablet around. I don't always write at my desk. In fact, most of my best writing has been done at my favorite coffee shop or on campus of UNM. Those things are indispensable. 

Steve the Dalek

It seems that a lot of people have what they call a "writer's totem." Well, I don't have that. I have a plush Dalek, and he's more of a slave driver/personal motivator. (I love how "dalek" isn't a misspelled word according to Google's dictionary.)

"Orange" - Excerpt from Unfinished Story

Got this idea while walking past a certain bus stop at night.  Over a year later, I got another idea and it fit so well with the main character in this piece, I knew exactly where to go. Here's this.
    Dark, cold and orange.
    These were never explicitly thought, but understood. Basic and essential. Understood to Hank, as home.
    Hank sat on his bench. During the day, it belonged to the city, for people waiting for the bus. But at night, it was Hank’s. The man spent what change he was able to beg for on a small plastic bottle. As he drank, he spilled half of it on his faded, decades old, army fatigues. Whether the uniform was his originally or someone else’s, he couldn’t remember, nor did he care to. He wasn’t even sure if he was a vet, let alone in the Vietnam War, like he told people. He wasn’t sure of much anymore. Just that this was his bench, on the corner of his street, in his dark, cold, orange home.
    He was dozing off, leaning more and more into his plastic bag, holding his clothes and doubling as a pillow. Cigarette smoke and the sound of people startled him awake. He barely saw the group of people pass in front of him when he started to speak. Half in a drunk stupor, half reflexive, he mumbled loudly at their backs.
    “scoosme! Doohaf change?”
    They ignored him, or didn’t hear him, already crossing the street, leaving him standing uneasily, still trying to work his mouth to get their attention. He stopped after awhile. He sat back down and closed his eyes. A nearby neon light buzzed and whined, a few cars drove by. He opened his eyes, sensing a presence.
    Sure enough, a young man approached. The man was dressed in black: black jeans, a black leather jacket over a black hooded sweater, hood covering his head. But Hank noticed none of this. Again out of reflex, Hank asked, “Canyouhelpme?”
    The young man, not dismissive in anyway, replied dryly yet almost compassionately and without pity, “I can help you.”
    “I need change for a cigarette.” Hank’s words were practically forced out of him, slurred and wheezy. His gaze never focused on the man, but rather just behind him, to his right.
    “I can give you a cigarette.”  He seemed intent on helping this drunk old man. With cold calm; a sense of professionalism. The man stood distinguished, yet unassuming. He looked Hank dead in the eye. He pulled out a pack from his pocket and popped one out. Hank took it and the man even lit it for him. He did not take one for himself.
    Almost without interest and, again, with dry compassion, the man asked, “What’s your name?”
    “Mynamesshank” he said, slurring every syllable. “whatsyurrs?”
    The young man did not reply.
    Hank, feeling the nicotine’s effect, noticed the young man’s face, the look in his eyes. In a rare moment of clarity, Hank asked “Whado you want? whatdoyou doin hur?” Fear unintentionally seeped into the last question. The man took his time to answer.
    “What I want doesn't matter...” at this point the man stood up and Hank noticed his height for the first time. “I was sent here to kill you.”
Image credit: "too long at the bus stop" CC BY-NC-SA kungfudemoness on deviantart.com, remixed by me


Xander - Book #1 in a new Trilogy by Ravel Lopez. 

The story follows Xander, a troubled young boy raised by a deranged father, as he grows to be a man, then rises to power in a struggling colony on a desolate planet.

Set thousands of years in the future, after the Earth set out to colonize new planets in desperation  A pair of twin planets were discovered, both in equal but opposite orbits around a medium sized star. Both had Earth like gravity, but one flourished under terraforming, the other wouldn't. The rich planet became the metropolized center, the other became a wasteland occupied by outlaws and outcasts. For a gruesome crime he commits, Xander gets sent to a penal colony on that planet and unites the downtrodden workers, becoming a hero and leader, but at what costs?

This book was written as part of NanoWrimo 2012 and is the first in a trilogy set on these two strange planets.

"All I Have"

Inspired by a beautiful song, this is a small, personal piece I wrote a few years ago, when I started writing creatively.
The water drops on the rooftops with a constant, light beating. Yet, the setting sun manages to break through the gray blanket of clouds giving everything an amber glow. 
But the rain still persists, drowning and breaking off the delicate blossoms below my window. My gardenias remain untouched under the awning. Smiling to myself, From just inside my apartment, I admire their demure beauty. Perfect. 
A whiff of smoke catches my attention. I turn away from the balcony and in the darkness, I see the small orange glow of the cigarette hanging out of an invisible mouth. As my eyes adjust, I make out his tall figure, standing in the door way. Soft, but piercing eyes materialize out of the black and turn me to stone. 
Our gaze remains locked as he flicks the cigarette and brushes my hair back, my behind my ear. His hand, now behind my (at this point I feel that I should soften my narration voice a little, not sure how though) head, gently guides my lips to his. His kiss, ooh his sweet, long kiss. It is all so intoxicating: the smell of his skin, the smoke, the rain and flowers, combined with his sweet lips. He pulls our bodies closer as the rain falls outside. The orange sun sets long before our embrace ends. 
I wake up, alone. 
A cold, steely darkness surrounds me. I see the moon outside, peeking through clouds. She is alone too, ashamed to show her beautiful face. Her blue light illuminates nothing. I walk to the balcony where empty pots lay, broken. 
"Why are you so lonely, so sad?" 
No answer, but I know. I know. Her partner is gone. It has been cloudy and dreary for over a year. A year since the war started. A year without happiness, joy, dancing. A year without gardenias. A year without love. 
A tear falls on shards of clay.
Image credit: "Rosal the white flower" CC BY-NC-SA by serr-angel08 on deviantart.com, remixed by me.