Nanowrimo, The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch. 7: The Ocean

Benny looks up at the stars. Having spent many nights on a boat with only the quiet sea and the vast array of stars to accompany him, he has often acknowledged their beauty, the infinity they suggest, and the wisdom they inspire. But now, thinking about the creature, about the possibility of real aliens, he sees them differently. The stars no longer resemble inanimate Yuletide lights, but a distant city. These lights are not just decorations, they are signs of life. And now, his breath catching in his gut, he sees every single burning star as a sign of life, a neighbor, a home. Out on the island, one can see thousands and thousands of stars. He wonders, the world seeming to spin around him, if each massive ball of burning magma is effectively a street lamp, casting light so that little forms of life don’t lose their way in the dark. Do they shiver at night, and look to the sunrise for warmth? Do they fish and hunt and eat? Do they look up at the stars and wonder what is out there? Possibilities swarm through his mind until it feels full and tires him.

The sun has only just breached the horizon. A shaft of soft blue light jets across the kitchen floor. Jane’s hair is messy, and she wears her usual baggy house clothes, dragging her feet lazily into the kitchen.

She stops, surprised to see Benny there, sitting at the kitchen table. He looks dazed, his eyes wide and vacant.

Jane asks, “Did you sleep at all last night?”

Benny blinks, slowly at first, and then quickly, finally rubbing his eyes.

“No, not much,” he answers distractedly.

“Um… are you ok?” she regards him with suspicion.

“Fine, fine.”

Now Jane trudges over to the window, where she moves the curtain ever-so-slightly to peek out. It looks as though the news reporters have just arrived and are setting up their equipment.

“Great,” she says flatly. “Looks like I’ll be hiding in my room. Don’t let any of those people in here.”

“Are you ever going to tell me what’s going on with yeh, Jane?”

She stares at him. “You said I didn’t have to.” She bristles, “Do I need to find somewhere else–“

“No,” he says, putting his hands up in surrender, still sounding very drowsy, “No, Jane, I’m sorry.” He sighs, “Well no one will be inside the house except…. the lawyer.”

He furrows his brows, as if this last statement has disturbed him somehow, and Jane regards him with concern.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” She gives a great sigh, “do I need to make breakfast?” When he doesn’t reply, she sighs again and gets to fetching the cookware.

“Eggs and hash!” comes her muffled announcement from under the cupboard.

A short while later Benny, Jane, and Cecil are digging in to her delicious breakfast.

The phone cuts into the silence as gently as a hammer tumbling down a lead pipe. Everyone jumps, Benny flying fron his seat as he hurries over to get it. They hear his nondescript responses such as “uh huh,” and “yea sure,” “of course.” Finally he hangs up the phone and looks at the rest of them.

“It’s the lawyer” he says, “Shes coming.” He is suddenly pale.

“What”s wrong?” Jane asks.

“I dont know. I mean, nothing,” he says, “I’ll be right back,” and trots off down the hall.

“It’s ok, Cecil,” Jane says, seeing the boy’s worried look. Shaking her head, she instructs Cecil to finish his food and ignore his “crazy father.”

As Benny closes himself in the junk room, he hears a knock on the front door. Voices float through the house.

“Yes, I am Jessie McManus. Is Mr. Taggart here?”

“He um… just went to grab something.”

Opening the door carefully, he sneaks out into the hall, stops to listen for Jane and the lawyer in the kitchen, and tiptoes into his bedroom, sweat beading on his forehead. He finds his keys, turns around, and runs directly into the one person he is avoiding.

“What are you doing, Mr. Taggart?” she asks, a little too sternly. The woman is unusually tall, currently towering over Benny, who is, embarrassingly, crouching. She is wearing a silky white top and sleek black slacks.

“Oh! Ah… just… gettin’ some things ready!” He laughs nervously, standing up, “Thank yeh so much fer comin’. If you would like to wait in the kitchen fer just a mo’… uh… I’ll be right there.”

He not-so-delicately nudges her, leading her to the kitchen, giving Jane a big wink and disappearing again.

Looking around, back in the junk room, he finds an old, well-insulated wind-breaker tossed on a pile of clothes. Carefully lowering his long arms into the tank, Benny grasps the creature firmly, its strange rubbery skin undulating against his hands. He is glad to bundle it up in the jacket. He has to climb over some things to get to the window. It is an old, thick window, and opens with a hatch. Taking some effort to unlock it and wrench it open, Benny huffs and finds that there isn’t much room. Going feet-first, he barely squeezes through, and carefully holds the bundled foreigner above his head. Once he is clear of the window, he runs to his old jeep.

Hopping over the door, he sets the creature in the passenger seat, turns the engine, and peels out, kicking sand up behind him and speeding toward the beach.

Nearby reporters are snapping their fingers, camera crews rushing to load up and hopping in their vans to follow.

Once a good distance from the reporters and anyone else, Benny approaches the ocean, the front two wheels meeting the water’s edge. The man grabs the jacket, hops out of his vehicle, and runs into the water.

Waves splash against his ankles. The water looks beautiful under the bright sun and clear sky. He hears people approaching the shore.

“Mr. Taggart, what are you doing?” They yell into the wind.

“Nothin!” he yells madly. He high-steps over the waves as the water meets knees.

“You cant take it!” It is likely that no one can hear him. He is waste-deep in water, which slows him.

“You can’t have it back! You can’t trap it again!” He heaves. He dives in and attempts to swim but is slowed down by the bulky load.

Finally, he pins the creature to his back, putting it between himself and the jacket, his arms through the sleeves,using the drawstring at the bottom to secure the jacket around his waste, and he takes off swimming frantically, desperate and fast.

When he is far enough out to worry about the tide taking him, and the people standing cluelessly on the beach look like insects wearing little coats and pants, Benny finally unclasps the jacket and takes a hold, once again, of the foreign creature.

He suddenly feels very foolish, seeing himself out here, treading water in the North Sea, reporters swarming around–probably wondering if he’s gone mad. But he remembers his conversations with the Creature, and he knows this is right.

I will never forget you, he thinks. He has never tried to communicate with the creature in this way, but he is sure the creature can hear his thoughts.

Gratefulness washes over Benny as he lets go. For a moment, he can see the strange, silvery being floating there in the water, its many worm-like tentacles swirling around it in and endless dance, and then it swims away, fading into the murky water.

Life

10 Minutes of Unfiltered Mind

Hmm, 10 minutes of my unfiltered mind? Are you sure you can handle that? I type fast you know… I can probably write a novel… Here we go!

Work going well and not going well. Oh, of course work is the first thing I think about. Yes, I punctuate when speed writing. Today I felt better. I sensed some newness, the old newness that used to accompany me. It goes by you know, it always goes by no matter how much I treasure it, how much I aim to savor the moment at the end of the day the day still ends. This is what I have been struggling with most. But que se-freakin-ra right? That is how it must happen. Without time, we would accomplish nothing. Without time, we would be motionless thought-blobs with no physical, no evolution, no cycle of thought, action and consequence. So I’m back to square one. Might as well enjoy the moment because you can’t stop it from melting into a pool of memories.

Human evolution. That keeps me going. If there is one thing worth all our efforts it is the idea that somehow the future is brighter ahead and we have made some sort of a mark on society that might make lives better for those who come after us. There are even those traditions who believe that we are those same people over and over, so the idea that I could even experience this future is a little heartening. I don’t want to miss out on the fruits of my hard work, after all! I am joking of course. I don’t work that hard.

So yes, speaking of work, it has been a little difficult. A couple of encouraging friends, a few good healthy emotional breakdowns, and I am feeling more and more like my good-ol’ zen self. Peace. Tranquility. The beauty of now. And the knowledge that because of finality, we must strive. We can’t just hang around. We gotta do stuff god dammit because otherwise WHAT IS IT ALL FOR.

The Dalai Llama is coming to my town. MY TOWN. I didn’t manage to get tickets, which is very sad, but I am glad his presence will be here. In this local magazine article he was quoted saying to wake up every day being thankful to be alive. Thankful to be able to experience the beauty of the world one more day. To try and have a positive effect on others as much as possible.

I will hang on to these words, though I have heard them before. To experience Love–true Love–Universal Love…

Inspired by Daily Prompt

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Tree in the Sunshine

Any part of the tree within reach was obscured by a tangled mass of vines, but just above her the thick trunk shot up, covered in pale flaky bark, glowing serenely in the evening sun. Far overhead, the leaves were chattering in their constant, soothing rhythm. And then she watched one tiny brown leaf make its long journey down to the Earth, where it lay now, among the dirt and pebbles.

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Mind-to-Mind Computer Interface

So, I like to incorporate cool stuff I’ve heard of in my stories, especially sci-fi. I feel like life is kind of sci-fi right now. I mean, we have the prosthetic arm which directly connects to the brain via nerve endings on the severed limb, so the bionic human is basically a thing now. We have pocket computers and nano robots. And we also have a computer interface that can link two peoples’ minds (the one mentioned in Ch.2 of The Foreigner,) so that one user can control the motor functions of the other. Yeah, this really exists! As in… one guy thinks “I’m going to move my arms,” and the OTHER GUY’S arms move! Come on, guys. It’s the future.

I first heard about this watching Vsauce2 on youtube, which is full of mind-blowing inspirations, and tech that really makes my head spin. Check it out!

As always, thanks for reading!

-Becca

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch. 6

Ben’s bedroom, like the rest of the house, is simple, practical, and a little messy. The blocky King-sized mattress, his one luxury, is covered in forest green sheets and a plain, cream-colored blanket. His floor is mostly bare, not having a lot of belongings, save for a few dirty clothes sprawled in a corner and half-rolled-up socks. The only meager window is covered with heavy black curtains, not that Benny usually sleeps late enough to be disturbed by the morning light. But on this morning he rolls over, feeling unusually drowsy and terribly unmotivated to get out of bed.

There is a knock on the door.

Strange dreams are still filtering out of his head; a galaxy of lights, weird squid-like creatures, a young woman with messy blond hair, a flying fish, a pool of blood. As consciousness slowly sets in on him, he realizes the last couple of days have been fuzzy. He vaguely remembers his neighbor, Gilly, coming over for a visit, and wonders why no other details are apparent to him.

There is another knock, this one more urgent.

Benny springs up, his feet hitting the floor with a dull thump, and rubs his eyes.

His reverie is short, and he is soon struggling to get a fleece sweater over his head, dragging over-sized wool socks on his feet as he makes his way to the front of the house. He opens the door to find a woman dressed in a red jacket over a crisp white blouse and a matching red pencil skirt. She is holding a microhone. There is a man behind her with a camera.

“Eh… what’s… goin on?” Benny asks

“Mr. Benjamin Taggart, My name is Laurie Hughs …”

“Whats with the camera?”

“The man behind the cam is my coworker, Stephen, and we wanted to be first on the scene to ask you about the fascinating creature you apparently have locked up in your back room.”

“My wha’?” he asks sharply, heat rising up his spine, “How did you… I mean… ah… what’re yeh talkin’ about?”

“Mr Taggart, this image is all over the internet!” She holds her phone up and shows him–how she got it he can’t fathom–a picture of his very junk room, and his very own home-made tank, and his recently discovered strange creature.

At this point, his heart is thumping in his chest.

“… look I’m not sayin’ anything righ’ now. I don’ know how yeh go’ that picture, but I go’ nothin to tell yeh fer the moment. Thank you, goodbye.”

He shuts the door. Jane and Cecil are standing there, staring at him.

Plopping down at the dining table, Benny says, “They go’ a… a picture. Of the creature. The … thing in the tank.”

“What? How?”

“I don’ know!” Cecil is quietly watching this exchange.

“Get a lawyer,” Jane says, before disappearing to her room.

“Cecil, I need you to stay inside, ok?”

“Da, I want to go see the news people! Are we going to be on the telly?”

Benny eyes his son, at a loss for words, as Jane re-enters the room. She is wearing an over-sized beanie, covering her hair and falling just above her eyes, a baggy sweater and sweatpants.

“I can’t be on camera,” she says, staring pointedly at Benny as she once again plops down on the bench.

He looks at her distractedly for a moment, and then appears to remember something. “Oh. Right. Yeh won’, Miss Jane.”

She rolls her eyes. “Dont’ call me that.”

“Why can’ you be on camera, Miss Jane?”

She sighs.

“Miss Jane is very, very camera shy,” Benny says in an attempt to be helpful, and winks at his son.

“Call a lawyer,” Jane repeats.

Not answering, Benny stands up and walks cautiously to the front window, parting the curtain slightly. There are a few people with microphones mulling around, including Miss Hughs. She stands out with her nicer clothes. Apparently she didn’t anticipate the terrain around Benny’s house, because she was the only one wearing heels. There is a news van and several cameramen, a couple of whom hold the camera up, waiting for something to catch on film. Some of them are looking around the side of the house, which is curious to Benny. Will they try to peak in the windows? Will they try to sneak in?

He gulps, looking back at his son and housemate.

“All over one photo?” he asks aloud. “Don’t people make fake ones?”

A distant rhythmic noise registers in his mind. It grows, and suddenly he realizes what it is. Turning around to peak out the window again, he sees–

“A helicopter?!”

Thank you for reading! I will post another chapter this week since 6 was late.

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Nanowrimo is comin’ up, ya’ll

I’m a Halloween person. I’m a Fall person. I LOVE the Fall, the cool breeze, the showers of leaves, and the spooky, other-worldly atmosphere that permeates our dreary, monotonous lives. But do you know what’s bad? I don’t have a Halloween outfit planned and I DON’T CARE. I’m looking straight through October into November. (I haven’t even thought about my birthday, which is also in October.)

If you don’t know, Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month (they also have several other writing programs such as Script Frenzie and the Youth Writing Program!) This is a free, interactive challenge where you attempt to write 50K words on ANYTHING in 30 days. This will be great for my blog, which I suppose is officially going to be prose-heavy for the next couple of months. Hopefully I can juggle editing The Foreigner during the writing frenzy that is November. Otherwise I will find ways to share my new Nano writings in November and continue editing in December.

Join me! If you even mildly like writing, Nano is like learning how to swim by jumping in the water. Marathon-writing works out all the kinks and digs out all the cobwebs. It’s a GREAT creative exercise and I have last November to thank for the existence of The Foreigner (I remember hurling out my last 5,000 words on the final day, just before the deadline. Sigh.) You can also meet a lot of really cool new people at the Nanowrimo meetups (and there is likely one near your city, because Nano’s are everywhere!)