I decided, over the weekend, I would start a new routine this week. Early wakeup and writing, writing at lunch, exercise after work, yada yada yada. I started the week right by getting sick on Monday, dropping completely off the schedule on Tuesday, and getting up 45 minutes later than I wanted today. So yeah, not the best start. But I suppose this all comes around to the whole, “If you have to wait for the perfect conditions to work, you’ll never put a word on the page.” E.B. White said that, or something like that.
I still wrote before I got to work, and I wrote at lunch, exercised when I got home, and worked afterwards too. It’s good, if not the way I wanted it to go.
Lessons are things I have to learn over and over again, and it can be very frustrating to slap my forehead and realize I’ve already been down this road before. Discipline has always been something I’ve lacked, as I’ve either bit off more than I could chew and got burned out, or chose to do the minimum required amount and felt terrible about it. Such is the Ying and Yang within me.
As anyone could notice, working on stories has somewhat fallen by the wayside. If I continue this way, I won’t be done with this blog until September, which feels like a lifetime away. It’s frustrating, being so eager to jump onto new projects, while still needing to finish these. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen to this blog once it’s done. Whether I’ll toss it aside, or keep the name (because let’s be honest, it’s a damn good website name) and change it to some sort of platform – ugh – blog kind of thing. Probably the latter.
So maybe, rather than let this thing trail off, I should put up some parts of the stuff I’m actually working on here. Rather than just the same kind of quick one-shots I’ve been doing lately. Here’s some of the project I’m labeling Crystal Keep:
Gary Wiegar regretted many things in his life. He regretted never leaving Blooming Fields. He regretted working for Oakley. He regretted that he wasn’t closer with his mother – the Alzheimer’s was sapping away whatever connection they had. He regretted he couldn’t find a girl to save his life.
Mostly, he regretted having stepped into the forest on this January night. Every step through the packed snow, a complete crunch he’d been so fond of as a child, now sounded like the brittle breaking of bones.
He walked as fast as he dared, the ancient silence of the trees as off putting as the eyes he imagined watched him from the dark. The box in his hands, the cardboard bruised around the edges, felt like an awkward dance partner. He’d taken a girl dancing once. Sally, her name was. Sally Something. Took him two weeks to ask her out. She worked in the supermarket two towns over. He brought her to this nice place he’d heard about, bought dinner, everything. But when it came time to dance, he stepped on her toes one too many times. Then she kept smiling at the waiter, and that was the end of that.
“Almost there,” he said. “Almost there.” It was a mantra to stave off the helplessness, and break the quiet.
There should’ve been some noise; some kind of wildlife. He’d never been one for the outdoors, especially at night. Alan and Joe had always dragged him out here when they were kids though, and during the day, the hills and forests were filled with animals. At night, they were just _gone._ Hidden away in whatever alcoves they alone knew. Humans, it seemed, weren’t as smart.
He tripped on a buried stone, and felt something lurch within the box. He dropped it into the snow and stared. It didn’t move. He reached out and poked it with his fingertips, jerking back each time, expecting another shift. When nothing happened after a minute, he said, “Almost there,” again, and picked it up and hurried on.
It broke through the silence and filled him up like an oil drum, the sickness washing over him staggered. That sound. The implication of gnashing and being devoured, like a hundred thousand of those joke teeth from the fifties. He was shaking and crying before he could form a coherent thought, and all he could do was keep his hands on the box and keep going. “Almost there,” he said, but the words were half-sputters now. “Almost there.”
Somewhere ahead – in the black – was the cabin. The place he’d been told to go. He’d done everything asked of him. He broke into the old station, took the box, and marched through the snow and was here now. Almost there.
His legs were baseball bats, stiff and heavy, and all his energy went to throwing them along. One step, one crunch, and always the clicking.
It circled him now, like a ring with him in the center. Gary wondered why they or it didn’t come for him, but he just kept marching, unsure of where the sound was coming from. “It’s not fair,” he said, to nothing. He collapsed. Done. Kaput. He rolled over onto his back, sinking into the snow, and letting the wet soak through his jacket and sting the back of his scalp.
Then the sound was gone. Like someone had pulled the plug, gone. Gary lay there, breathing in the cold air, staring up at the stars, and waiting to die.
The cold hurt. He sat up. He was alone. The cabin was ahead somewhere. Just ahead. He pulled himself up, lifted the box once more, and continued on.
Dead center in a clear patch among the trees, sat a small cabin. His cabin. He yanked the door opened, and fell inside. The box slid across the floor and bumped into an old chair. It was pitch, but the moonlight showed a few things he imagined were typical for a place like this. Table, parts of a kitchen, one of those old round stoves, and a fireplace. He was supposed to wait here.
Gary wondered if the clicking would come back but it didn’t. Instead, after a few minutes of sitting on the floor, in the dark, he heard the sound of footsteps from outside.
The door opened and a single figure stood in silhouette against the moonlit snow.
“I brought it,” Gary said, dragging himself over to the box and standing up. “Just like you wanted. It’s right here.” The figure walked over, knelt by the box, and opened the lid. After peering inside, they closed them and looked at Gary. He suddenly felt like a fly. “So, that’s it?” He asked. “Am I done?”
“Yes.” The word reverberated through his skull, and suddenly the person in front of Gary wasn’t just a person.
Behind their eyes, Gary saw an expanse of strange constellations – space empty of all colorful nebulae, but riddled with stars like furious eyes – all watching him. Amongst them floated a shape like a tower made of rotting fungus. It writhed in the void, and stared at him, despite not having anything similar to something a human could recognize.
In the nanosecond it took Gary to realize that this person before him was also the thing he saw, his mind broke. He pissed himself, and his perceptions fell away.
The figure drew a shape in the air and turned to leave, the box in hand. “Give the warning.” Gary was babbling things humans would dub incoherent. It turned back to look at him from the doorway. “And thank you.”
Gary started to laugh. Then wail.