Our Typical Life

The worst thing about working a job at a spaceport is the fact that you have to deal with some of the WEIRDEST people.  No joke, I’ve met people from Earth who are fucking bizarre.  They talk in funny ways, and they dress really weird.  I honestly wish they would just stay on their own planet.  They come to Mars and breathe my air whenever they disembark.  These fucking people need to go.  Honestly, they are all totally disgusting.  And don’t think that makes me a planetist.  Have you seen what they have done to their world?  After the war with the Colonies, there is insane levels of pollution orbiting, which ends up falling back to the surface and smashing into all kinds of shit.  My favorite thing that I read was when a destroyed Colony was falling toward Earth, and they had to nuke it to divert its orbit.  Then they get very upset when the fallout becomes an issue, and the EMP that precedes it knocks out their satellites.  How stupid are these people?!
I honestly wish there was some kind of wall that could go up between our planet and there’s.  I’m sure there are good people on Earth, but the bulk of them are fucking idiots.  Now, the Colonials I like.  Those people got it all figured out.  Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  But the damn earthlings are trouble.  I don’t bother with them as much as I can.  But being a shuttle traffic controller is what it is.  It isn’t a glamorous job, but the pay is good.  You do what you gotta do, am I right?  And it’s all worth it for what waits for me when I get home.  Because today is a special day.  For what happens as my shift is ending.

I get to the end of the terminal.  The sun is going down.  It’s there that I see her.  The love of my life.  I look at her long, flowing, dirty-blonde hair and I feel instantly better.  It’s been three weeks since I saw her last.  The price one pays for having a girlfriend that works in natural resource satellite mining.  The girl was complaining about it the whole time she was being interviewed for it.  But I could tell that she really wanted this job.  Sure, being apart sucked.  However, I knew that if I didn’t push her to get the job, she would be pissed at me for the rest of her life.  The girl spent years in the Colonies to get her engineering degree.  If she didn’t put it to work, it would have driven her nuts.  To be honest, that could have been the end of us.  Thankfully, I have the gift of foresight.  I could tell that she would be happier doing this work.  And I was right.  It made it all worth it for these moment.  The moments where she’d be waiting at the terminal.  She didn’t have to.  She could have gotten a taxi to go home.  But she was waiting there patiently, for me to get off my shift.  Almost made me not want to have this moment end.
The moment where I see her gorgeous, very long hair.  Since she doesn’t work in space, they don’t make her cut it.  One of the mining engineers who worked inside the stations.  It looks so good this long.  Granted, long hair does go everywhere when she sleeps.  Been days where it felt like I was tangled up in that hair in the morning.  Gave her shit, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Well, unless she wanted to cut it.  Can’t stop a woman with a purpose.  Guys and gals who have a girlfriend, you can back me up on this, right?  Never seen her with short hair.  Maybe that would be hot too.  She was still in uniform.  A black jumpsuit.  It was very unflattering, but it’s all good.  Like most women, she was super self-conscious.  Girl said she was fat.  Sure, there was some pudge on her.  But it is minuscule.  No joke, it’s five or ten extra pounds, at most.  The truth is that the bulk of what she has is muscle.  Mostly upper-body.  Arms that could snap me in half.  Under the pudge is plenty of muscle.  To be a mining gal, wanting to look hot.  Females.  They are the ultimate enigma.  She works with roughnecks, but wants to be a knock-out in a dress.  Which she does.  The girl looks fantastic.  And a dress shows off her fantastic bust.  Sorry, it’s a fetish.  Did this get too personal?  Oh well.  You’re still reading, so there it is.  But this does have a point.
Sitting there, looking down at her pad.  Swiping through some Net stories.  To see that beautiful face there.  I could savor that forever.  But it had to end.  She looks up, and meets my gaze.  Another moment I wish I could savor – when she brightens up and starts running over.  The girl damn-near knocks me over when she jumps into my arms.  Her lips meet mine and it’s so wonderful.  Every time.  It’s been a little over a year since she started this job, but it was always like this.  People keep asking how the two of us are able to keep our spark in the relationship going the way we do.  I think it’s because we are able to truly appreciate one-another’s company because we are apart so much.  Three weeks on, three weeks off.  That’s how it works.
She pulls back.  “Hey, babe!”
“Hey you!  Have a good trip?”
Getting down, she picks up her bag and we start walking out.  She puts her arm around mine and stays close.  “As good as an be expected.  We were having some problems with the artificial gravity of the site.  Waking up to zero-g is weird.  Worse – waking up to partial gravity.  It can make certain things weird.  Like going to the bathroom.  There were times I didn’t know if it would be turning off or not.  Worrying about seeing your own shit flying around is a scary thought.”
I burst out laughing.  We both did.  I’m sure people thought the two of us were nuts, but how can you not?!  As gross as that is, I would honestly have paid to see her reaction to it.  Bet it would have been priceless.
“Why was the gravity having issues?”
“Oh, the centrifuge is damaged.  Again!  I swear, the filters in that place must be the shittiest model we could find.  Because we can’t do on-site mining in zero-g.  So the workers are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.  It’s frustrating.  What’s more, the whole colony could start having issues.  That’s serious.  If gravity in the whole place goes off, then tons of people are at risk.  I might end up being laid off for a few while they do extensive overhauls.”  There was a very worried tone in her voice.
“It’ll be alright, B.”
She lays her head on my arm.  “I know.  We have plenty saved up.  But I just don’t like having to worry about the future, you know?  I mean, what happens if the repairs are so extensive that we have to overhaul the colony itself?  Then I’m out of a job for a year.  Maybe more.”
“Couldn’t you get on with another company?”
She shook her head.  “I could, but I don’t want to.  This company has been good to me, and I’m not the type to jump ship at the first sign of trouble.  Besides, we have plenty saved up.  It might eat into our savings to get to Ganymede, but still.”
“I hear ya.  It’s good to be loyal.  One of the qualities I like.”  I squeeze her hand.  Girl gives me a smile.  So beautiful.
“Please tell me you have something delicious in mind for dinner!  I am starving!”
Giving her a wink.  “Don’t I always?”  That’s not just me saying that.  If I didn’t, we are screwed.  My girl has many admirable qualities.  Can’t cook to save her life.  Girl’s burned cereal.  Not even kidding.

Say that I’m being unoriginal all you want, but the thing that I was making that night was homemade pizza.  Pizza is the greatest food to ever exist.  Period.  There will never be another food like it.  The reason that neither B nor I could ever be truly thin was because we both love this food source too much.  It’s not our fault that it is the most delicious food in existence.  That’s a fact.  A life fact.  We ate and talked and enjoyed each other’s company in a way that I always missed.  When it came back, it was always like the first time.  We decided to take a shower together.
Contrary to media, sex in the shower is awkward.  Hence why we didn’t do it.  This was all about the two of us making out and enjoying each other being soapy.  Got to clean a lot of grime off of her body.  The girl was in heaven.  Plus, I got to have some fun with a little fetish of mine.  Don’t care what you think.  I have yet to hear her complain.  Which brings me to the last part of the night.
If you think that anniversary or birthday or whatever sex is good, you haven’t had it until you’ve had prolonged absence sex.  So many guys I know say that they don’t get how I can deal with not having it for weeks at a time.  They don’t know what I do – that the hottest sex I have ever had was when she would come home.  That night, every time, we would have some of the most insane fucking that humanity can possibly come up with.  Because there are weeks of sexual tension that the two of us are letting out all at once.  She can’t masturbate on site, because the employees bunk together.  My girl’s too nice to make things awkward like that.  So she has all the tension that’s been building and building all explode on me at once.  It is the most fantastic thing that has ever been or will ever be.  I love it more than life itself.  Typically because, by the end of the night, I am wondering if I am going to wake up the next day.  Not only is it hot, but it is EXHAUSTING!  You feel like you are about to die.  The girl has infinitely more energy than I do.  I don’t know how she does it.  It’s insane.
Afterwards, when the two of us are able to get back to bed (it always starts there, but almost never ends there), we just lay there.  I look out the window at the stars.  You’d think the city would have a lot of light pollution.  But since there isn’t the same kind of pollution in the atmosphere like there is on Earth, there is virtually none.  So many beautiful stars beaming down at us.  This world is so beautiful.  Terraforming Mars was the best thing that we could have done.  Laying there, with a naked woman in my arms and a skyline unlike anywhere else in the Sol system.  At least not that I’ve seen.  Who knows, I may end up getting to see something truly spectacular.  The future is never what one thinks it to be.
It’s then that I feel her fidgeting in my arms.  She’s looking up at me.
“I love you,” she whispers.
I look down at her.  “I love you too, B.  With all my heart.”
The girl buries herself into me, and I know that I am the luckiest man in the system.  Maybe the universe.  Who knows.  Maybe some alien on Grognar 9 has it better.  I’ll ask him if I meet the guy.

Until next time, a quote,

“We are not given a good life or a bad life.  We are given a life.  It’s up to us to make it good or bad.”  -Ward Foley

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The Last Night

The drink tastes terrible.  It’s the only thing I can think about as I am staring at the firelight, reflecting through said drink.  It’s terrible.  Nothing about it tastes good.  I was told that this was smooth.  It’s not.  It’s absolutely dreadful, and I want nothing to do with it.  What compelled him to say that the drink was good?  Are her taste buds not working?  I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.  All I knew is that the drink was fucking terrible, and I didn’t want this to be the last drink of the light.  What a terrible night.
It’s so quiet now.  After years of people having the opportunity to get ready, now it was the night when it would happen.  The last night for us all.  The last night that any person could possibly do anything.  Because at roughly 6 pm tomorrow night, every single one of us would be dead.  That’s not an if, mind you.  It’s a fact.  We are all going to die tomorrow night.  Our time in this universe is going to be over, and that’s how it is.  There have been the missions where NASA and whoever tried to find a way around it, but it didn’t work.  I mean, where the fuck was anyone going to go?  Any mission to another planet was contingent on getting shit from Earth.  There was no possible way that we would survive.  Maybe we could have, if the government hadn’t fucked NASA’s budget.  But we did, and now it’s too late.  Maybe we could have had sustainable colonies on Mars.  The ones that were set up when the truth was known are a joke.  This would have taken years.  Now it’s over.  And here I am, drinking this terrible drink.  What a way to end a life.
“What’s it going to be like?” he asked.
I looked over at her.  “I don’t know.  From what they’ve said, it will be this insane gravitational force.  The are facing the incoming planet will have all the incoming gravity smashing them.  They will be crushed in seconds.  All the plant and animal life will be turned to mush very quickly.  The atmosphere will cease to exist, so all of us will suffocate.  Then the impact will happen.  I hear that, in space, it will look like the planet is slowing down as it approaches.  We will apparently cause untold damage to the incoming planet, with some theorizing that it will be like what they believe happened to create our moon.”
Taking another drink, he nodded.  “Grim.”
“Tell me about it.”
“So, are you afraid of it?”
I shook my head.  “What’s to be afraid of?  We’re already feeling the forces of gravity acting on us.  The impact will happen, but I guarantee that we’ll all be dead long before we get there.  Hell, most people are already dead.  We’re just waiting out the inevitable.”  That’s when my gaze went up.  I looked at the sky and saw the massive shadow.  By now, it had blocked out most sunlight to places.  The bulk of the planet was freezing.  Hence the fire in here.
She looked up as well.  “It’s just weird, you know?  That this is how it ends.  I was always hoping that it would be something a little more…cathartic, you know?  Like if it’s nuclear holocaust, then at least it makes some sense.  We’re a violent, deranged species, so we have a violent end.  But nope.  It’s just a cosmic hit-and-run.  We get obliterated and that’s it.  No rhyme or reason.”
A small chuckle from me.  “Makes you wonder what the evangelicals and whatnot are thinking now, doesn’t it?  I bet it’s lots of ‘we’re about to be in heaven,’ isn’t it?  All sorts of stuff about how God is coming for them.  Yeah, because this is TOTALLY how the Book of Revelations talked about this, isn’t it?  A massive planetary body smacking into us and turning this planet to rubble.  10,000 years of human evolution wiped from the face of the planet in a matter of seconds. That sure does sound like God had his hands on the trigger.”
His head was shaking.  “I can’t help but wonder, you know?  Like, what if we are all wrong?  What if God is out there, watching us?”
A cold look comes to my face.  “What if?  I’ll tell you what if – if there is a God, that means that he is watching, right now, as a celestial body looks to obliterate his creation.  And rather than poke his almighty nose out and give us a chance to live, he is totally fine letting this celestial body kill us all.  His creation is going to die tomorrow, and he doesn’t have the courtesy to even tell us that it’s going to be okay.  Yeah, if there is a God, he can go fuck himself right up his all-powerful asshole.  Fuck that guy.  Like Carlin said, if there is a God, he has to be a man.  No woman would let their children end up this way.”
Long moments of somber came as I finished my drink.  Thought about leaving, but where am I going to go?  It’s cold out.  I could make it back to my place, but it would be freezing there.  Here there’s a fire.  I can at least wait out tomorrow in some comfort, rather than the insane rioting that has destroyed all of civilization.
Civilized society crumbled about a month ago.  Governments fell to violence.  The US government just up and left.  They figured that it didn’t matter anymore, so why bother trying to keep law and order.  Massive gangs of violence, rape and murder, as humanity stares down the barrel with absolutely no hope of escape.  That’s us.  That’s where we are.  So I could get home, just to wait out this in the freezing cold, and potentially being murdered on my way there.  Or stripped naked and raped, then murdered.  Fun thoughts.  Very, very fun.
“Wanna fuck?” She asked.
It was tempting.  “Nah.  Not my point in it, really.”
He winked at me.  “Come on, no need for condoms.  Not like STDs or pregnancy mean anything.  What else are we going to do?”
That’s when it occurred to me.  “Let’s start a bonfire.”
Confusion.  “What?”
“Let’s take out all the wood shit we don’t need onto the lawn and start a huge bonfire.  Let’s burn the fucking world down and enjoy our one last night being able to look up at the stars.  You can’t take it with you, after all.  Right?”
A smile came to her face, and he nodded.  “Damn straight!  Let’s do it!”

The whole operation took about half an hour.  We destroyed so much unbelievably-valuable furniture.  Priceless paintings that were done by people who wanted to leave a legacy that would last forever.  All kinds of books that were old and relics of a time gone by.  It all went to burn.  It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  The first got so fucking bit.  We kept finding things to burn!  We were throwing in cupboard drawers, shelving units, whatever we could find.  Our massive fire to the heavens lit up the night in a way that nothing else did.
That’s when it happened.  From the woods, people came.  They weren’t looking for violence.  They were looking to not be alone tonight.  All of them wanted to know that there were people out there that were alive, like the.  Almost all of them brought more things to burn.  In fact, some went to get more things.  After all, why bother respecting any object anymore?  Made me wish I could go to the Louvre and get all that artwork and throw it on the pyre.  I wanted to make every single amazing thing that humanity had done burn, so that any celestial being could know that I hate its fucking guts.  But more than that, in this night, every last one of us was alive.
Around that fire, so much happened..  Talking, drinking, love-making.  No one cared who or way.  There was no cause.  People who had spent their whole lives never testing boundaries were getting drugged out of their minds and participating in orgies.  Because why not?  What did any of us have to lose?  Even I got in on the fun.  Hallucinogens while looking up at the looming death threat.  It was amazing.  The most amazing night I could have ever imagined.  If only it never had to end.

But it did have to.  The next morning, I was up, watching the sun rise for the very last time.  My companion came over, and she put his arm around me.  I kissed her softly, pulling back and seeing his face.
“See you on the other side,” I said.
“Wouldn’t go anywhere without you, sugar.”

Until next time, a quote,

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”  -Mark Twain

Peace out,

Maverick

A Day at the Workshop

(Thought I’d do a one-off piece of writing. Tell me which universe I’m riffing on in the Comments)

Way I saw it, it was just another day at the office.  Or it would have been, if my ship hadn’t have gone to shit.  It was on the last job.  The bounty was good, but the prey was smart.  Guess that’s why the price was so high.  They knew that I was coming, and they hid in an asteroid field.  I knew that it was a trap, but that didn’t stop them from having laid it.  Thought I could outwit them with some clever use of cameras.  Little robotic ones, so I could track the enemy’s movement.  Should have known that this enemy was smart.  An EMP blew out most of my cameras, and then it was cat-and-mouse through the asteroids until they caught me off-guard.  Felt like a rank amateur in that moment.  Still, it was a good hunt.  And I’ll get another shot at her.
So here I was, having to take a cargo transport down to Earth.  Yeah, rank amateur.  But I was still in one piece.  Guess that was worth something, right?  Rode the ship down to the surface, had my craft docked, and loaded onto a truck.  This was all money that I hated to spend.  But there was nothing to be done about it.  Only one mechanic in the entire system that I trusted to repair my ship.  The one I bought it from.  Sullivan Graham.  Best old racer in all the system.  The man knew more about starships than most of us would learn in three lifetimes.  He spent as much time tinkering on his ship as he did pilot it.  I remember watching his races when I was a kid.  Me and the old man were in love with them.  Back when the space age was at its peak.  Been a long time since those days.  Which is what led me here.

Pulling up to the entrance, I could already see the vast ocean of ship parts.  There were hulks from old ships that he would strip for parts.  This guy could find parts that were 20 years out of style.  Then there were the ships that he was working on.  It wasn’t a large crew here.  Last I heard, it was him, his assistant, and a young apprentice.  Just three people, fixing starships.  Crazy, right?  Well, they didn’t fix the huge stuff.  Largest they would go is the old big-rig I used to pilot, back when I was a younger man.
The desert air was hot as hell.  Dry as sand.  Felt kind of nice..  A steady breeze was blowing.  Hell, it always blows here.  Always.  There has never not been a point where it blows.  Part of why I like this place.  Hadn’t been here since I bought my ship.  Hadn’t told him why I was buying the ship off him.  Got rid of ten years of savings in order to purchase it.  I didn’t need it anymore.  Didn’t need the place I had left behind, either.  It was all just a memory, of another life.
I parked the trailer with my ship on it in the lot.  I knew that Sully would notice it, sooner or later.  There was the sound of yelling from inside one of the hangars.  A smile came to my face.  That old codger never changed.  He was giving shit to his people, because they had screwed something up.  As I started to make my way over, there was a voice from behind me.
“Hey, that’s the Nightingale!  I’d recognize that ship anywhere!”
I turned to see a girl, with short red hair.  Late teens, by my estimation.  She had a jumpsuit on, with splotches of grease and other fluids on it.
“You must be Sully’s newest protege,” I remarked with a coy smile.  “He never keeps the same one for more than a year or two.”
Her face went pouty.  “Hey, I’ve been here for almost two years!  Ain’t my fault the cranky old coon can’t get rid of me.”
“Who are you calling a cranky old coon?”  Standing there was Sullivan, with the same dour expression that he always had.  Even when he was in a good mood, he looked cranky.  Lines on his face from years of getting old.  Though, I get the feeling that he got some of those lines when he was my age.  If not younger.  Was getting a few lines myself.
She immediately go awkward.  “Nobody, boss-man.”
“Good!  Got get my kit.  We have a ship to diagnose.”
“Right away…”  The girl sulked off.
My smile grew.  “She can handle your BS for almost two years.  Now that’s impressive!”
A grunt.  “Kid’s got gumption, I’ll give her that.  So, what on Earth brings you back here?  Thought you’d be living big somewhere.  You had enough money for the Nightingale, after all.  Why would you need to bring the ship back?  If my old girl had been racing again, I’d know about it.  So what brings you here?”
“Got some coffee?”
He frowned at me.  “Yeah.”
“Well, let’s get some and I’ll tell you all about it.”

This place’s coffee was like turpentine.  Strong as fuck, too.  But it was something to drink, so I took that for what it was.
“So, a bounty hunter, eh?  Never would have pegged that for you.”
Looking out the window, I nodded.  “Well, it wasn’t exactly something I looked for.  I just kind of found it, you know?”
“What do you mean?”
“After the incident with my rig, I didn’t have much else to do.  My operator’s license was dead.  If I couldn’t fly, then what was I supposed to do?  So, I got a friend to forge me a new license, under an old alias I had back during my smuggling days.  Never looked back.”
That sentence hung in the air as I took another drink.  The sound of Sully’s people talking about my ship coming up from the hangar.
“What about your girl?  Didn’t she…”
“B wasn’t around to stop me.  She left long before then.”
Another long pause.  A baseball game was playing on the radio.  Heard the assistant cheering, because his team was up to bat and had just hit a drive out to center-field.  A good play.
“I see.  Heard from her since?”
Shook my head.  “No.  Not for a long time.”  My mind harkened back to days long gone by.  Better days…

It was long before morning.  I closed the door as quietly as I could.  Slipped off my shoes and coat.  Hung my hat on the rack, and headed toward the bedroom.  She wouldn’t be up this early.  Never was.  So I’d get to have some snuggle-time before she went to work.  After a mission this long, it was good to be back home.  I had plenty of time off.  Pulled a triple.  My pay was a small fortune, so I would get to spend the Solstice with her.  When I told her about it, she was very happy.  At least, part of her sounded that way.  But I could hear this other part.  A part that sounded like we were going to have an exchange of words, when I got back.
Got up to the bedroom and opened the door.  The curtains were drawn.  Sunlight always drifted in through the window, so she would close the curtains.  Had fond memories of her grumpy face as I would open them some mornings, to compel her to get her lazy ass out of bed.  Cute girl.  I slipped off my shirt and pants, gently sliding into bed behind her.  I pulled the covers over, and slipped my arm around her waist.  The girl suddenly took notice.  An adorable little moan as she was coming too.
“You’re home!”  That voice could make stone melt.  So cute!
“That’s right!  Not going anywhere for another three weeks!  We got all the time in the world!”
She turned to face me, giving me a gentle kiss.  “I missed you.”
“I know, babe.  I’m so sorry.  But working this many shifts was worth it.  Got a fortune that’s coming in!  We’re set for months.  Maybe can even make a down payment on a house!”
There was this weird dichotomy in her look, between hope and incredulity.  Don’t suppose any married guys will get where I’m coming from here?
“You sure?”
“I want us to get off Ganymede, B.  For us to move to Mars and start actually living.  The way we always talked about.  No more of this getting by. Security, a good wage for us, and somewhere that we can raise a family.  I don’t want to raise a kid this far out in the middle of nowhere.  I want our kid to grow up somewhere nice, you know?”
Her little smile.  “You thinking about kids, now?”
I grunted.  “Hell no.  But someday, you know?  When we’re all nice and settled and the two of us aren’t worried about how we’ll get by long-term.  At least keeping the option open, right?”
Another soft kiss.  The warmth of her sleepy body, it felt so good.  I could be like this forever.  We melted together, and I could suddenly feel some tension.
“What’s wrong, B?”
She pulled back a bit.  “I read another story in the news, about a cargo truck being attacked on route to TJ.  That’s the third on this month.  Elliot, I don’t like knowing that you’re out there, doing cargo runs.  I hate knowing that there might come a day when you won’t be coming back!”
I wrapped my arms tighter around her.  “Listen, B, I’m okay.  The rig that was attacked was off the main traffic lanes.  I’m not that kind of pilot.  I’m not looking to get extra pay by getting cargo somewhere quicker.  I can take the wage I get.  Trust me, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Looking me right in the eye.  “Promise?”
“I promise.”
“Okay.  Can we cuddle for a while?”
“I got all the time in the world, babe.”
Those days were the happiest ones that I could possibly remember.

But then there were other memories that filtered through the ether.  Like the last day I was at that apartment.

Coming home was difficult.  I would have a lot of explaining to do.  She wasn’t going to like this.  All of the plans we had made, they were all falling apart in front of me.  It had been a stupid accident.  I had lied to her.  I used shortcuts all the time.  But I was careful.  Not to mention since I had a history of smuggling, most of the pirates left me alone.  Sometimes they would take a cut, but I still went home with a full wallet.  But it all went to shit.  I had been caught in the middle of an attack on another rig.  Rather than stay and help, I cut and run.  But then I got attacked by the same pirates, who didn’t realize that I had immunity.  Now my rig was busted up, and I was out of a job.
So here I was, now having to find a new way to make money.  I had one.  A friend of mine made me an offer.  We use my connections to get a new ID and pilot’s license, and I work with her as a bounty hunter.  It was grunge work in the extreme.  This wasn’t the kind of work that we were going to be living large on.  Instead, it was the kind of work where I would have to sell the apartment.  Wouldn’t be able to stay in one place for too long.  You gotta live by chasing the bounty heads.  It was the life.  I knew it.  Had even been involved in a bit of it, when I was in the ISSP.  Felt like a million years ago.
Would she stay?  Would she hate me?  What would she do?  A thousand and one different ways that this could play out running through my head, and none of it felt like something that I wanted.  But this was where I was at.  Nothing to do but to bit down on the bullet and live with the consequences.  Falling on the sword, as it were.
It was dark when I arrived back home.  There was a stillness in the air.  The lights were off at my place.  That was odd.  B should have been home from work by now.  Did she turn in early?  Something was up, and I didn’t like it.
The door was locked.  Why?  If she was home, it should be open.  I opened the door and stepped inside.  The stillness was ominous.
“B?” I called out.  No answer.  Shutting the door, I turned on the light.  Everything was just like it had been when I had left this morning.  Did something happen to her?  I hurried upstairs, calling out to her.  No answer.  When I opened the door to the bedroom, the truth became clear.  The closet door was open, and empty.  The drawers where her clothes had been were empty too.  On the bed was a letter, and on top of it was her engagement ring and wedding band.
After opening the envelope, I read the letter.

That had been almost ten years ago.  I was old enough that gray hair was on the horizon.  Listening to the game on the radio, I let the thoughts go to the side.  That’s when I looked at the wall where Sully had a ton of pictures.  One of them was Bailey, in her jumpsuit, a big smile on her face, next to a younger Sully, who also had a warm smile on his face.  That’s when I remembered – this man probably hates my guts.

Until next time, a quote,

“Whatever happens, happens.”

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Ex Machina

Ex MachinaMan, where has this kind of movie been?!  It’s been so long since I saw a science fiction movie like this that I almost forgot that it exists.  A movie that has ethical questions, dark subtext and looks at the human condition.  Movies like this have devolved into action films.  This kind of movie hasn’t been around since Blade Runner, and I am SO glad that it has come back!  This movie was totally engrossing, from beginning to end, telling a very dark story about a young man who gets in over his head and falls into a situation that he can’t control, with forces at work that are both what he can see, and what he feels, all mixing up in a story that is so much darker than it first appears.

The films tells the story of a man named Caleb, who works for the film universe’s equivalent of Google, called Blue Book.  He’s a programmer for the company, and gets invited by the programmer to go work on a secret project that has the potential to be very big.  Right off the bat, it’s a strange thing.  Everything about it is off-putting.  However, when Caleb realizes the project he’s involved with, his entire world changes.  He is running tests on the first ever artificial intelligence, called Ava.  As the film moves forward, however, a much darker purpose begins to hint itself, along with the man who is running the show.  Caleb begins to understand the gravity of what’s happening, and now it’s on to find out the truth, and to find a way out without becoming a victim as well.

The first thing to talk about with this movie is the effects.  This is a very small film.  The set is small, and the whole plot takes place in a very small area.  But there is a special effect that looks so freaking good, and I want to really talk about it here – Ava.  Ava looks amazing.  The blend of a real person and digital effects is almost seamless.  There are scenes where you see parts of Ava’s growth as a person, and it becomes a surreal experience of looking at an effect and real stuff all at once.  No idea how it was done, but I can’t praise it enough.  This film looks amazing.  The whole cinematography is well done.  The shots all have this surreal feeling.  As does the whole movie.

Almost everything in this film is shot in a windowless area that allows for some very claustrophobic feeling to set in.  This works to put the audience on edge, and to show the perspective of the main character, who feels very trapped, and becomes more and more so as the film goes on.  There are some truly captivating shots that really work to show off characters moods.  The way they show Caleb’s emotions with just a specific angle for a couple seconds is great.  Just a few frames and you realize how he feels.  That is a great thing to do.  I wish more movies did it.  Blade Runner was able to show mood by having characters say several things at once.  That was also a good trick.  Each time someone talked, they were often saying several things at once.  A trick that Cowboy Bebop would employ as well.  This movie is very quiet.  While this film is almost-entirely dialogue, it is also very quiet.  Shots to capture mood based on facial expression happen, which makes the emotional moments better, and the tense moments even moreso.

Which is another thing I want to praise – this movie does tension SO well.  One of my favorite scenes in Goodfellas is when you have silence used to build tension at the restaurant when Joe Pesci’s character wants to know what makes him so funny, and this movie has some great moments of silence when you want to show that Caleb is having to think fast to diffuse a situation.  The man hosting this meeting is another great performance.  You can’t tell if this guy is eccentric, crazy, corrupt, or maybe evil.  It’s very clear that he has an objective early on, but the true depths of what he wants to do will keep you guessing right up until the very end.  This film is great at that.

The soundtrack is very sparse in this movie.  A lot of low melodies that work to accentuate a scene.  I love the single-note tension-building bits too.  But when the music shows itself off most is during the emotional parts.

But the real thing that stole the show is the performances.  Every role in this movie is good.  All of them.  Caleb is my favorite, but Ava is not far behind.  Most people would probably pick Ava, and I don’t begrudge them that.  But for me, it’s watching the journey as Caleb begins to understand the test that he’s in, and the true depths of what he’s involved with that makes him such a good character.  Though Nathan is an interesting character too.  He’s riding the edge of so many things, and you never know what to think about him.  He’s a genius.  He’s manipulative.  He’s got some purpose, but you don’t know what it is.  There’s something about him that puts you on edge, but you don’t know what it is.  But, Ava is, as I said, my second-favorite.  She’s learning about her humanity, and unlike so many movies where this has been done, it feels real.  Mostly because this isn’t like she is just activated and she has humanity.  There are parts of her that she is learning about, as she keeps talking to Caleb.  The detachment of their conversations is what makes it work.  She can’t touch him.  She can’t be around him.  All they can do is talk.  Through conversation, and what she chooses to do and talk about, there is so much to learn about her.

I’m not about to pretend that this is a new concept.  It’s not.  But this film took something that is old as science fiction and gave it new life.  This concept was polished and given to the masses, and I think that this is one of the best science fiction films I’ve seen in a LONG time.  Where has this kind of movie gone?  It has to be all bombastic and shit now.  But this movie proved otherwise.  If you haven’t seen it, or are on the fence, do so.  I guarantee, you won’t regret it.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

I already did a First Take about the initial trailer for this new film.  I wasn’t impressed.  Even now, the design of that lightsaber bothers me.  But whatever.  I’m just being a nit-picky bastard.  Not only that, but I have been burned out of Star Wars from how terrible the prequel films were.  I said that this new movie would have to go out of its way to impress me.  A couple other teasers and I wasn’t impressed.  However, they have released the final trailer, and I am just going to come out and say it – I am going to see this movie in theaters.  Assuming I have the money.  Budget is beyond tight, at the moment.  But I am going to see the film all the same.  If I don’t have the money, then I guess I’ll be avoiding spoilers like a bitch and then waiting for it to come out on Netflix.  If I had a Patreon page, would you all donate to that cause?  Don’t worry, I don’t.  Just making a funny.  Sort of.  Written word will never be profitable like YouTube, so I know that no one would donate.  Oh well.  Part of me wishes that I was able to somehow monetize this.  It has been my passion project for years.  Wait, I’m getting off topic.  The trailer.  I’ll let you all see it, then we’ll talk about it.

Well, if they wanted to convince me that this film is nothing like the prequels, this is it.  I mean, I love these environments!  For starters, it is cool to see inside the corpse of a Star Destroyer.  There is this girl character, and I have no idea who she is.  Would have been nice to see something about her.  We did get to know who this black stormtrooper guy is.  I actually like that.  Now, before you get on me, I did actually have an issue with this guy, but hear me out.  As much as we’d all like to believe the prequel films didn’t happen, they did.  The stormtroopers are clones, made from Jango Fett.  So who is this guy?  Why is he in this movie?  Did they start cloning other people?  I wanted an answer.  But now I’m cool with this guy.  It’s hinted that he wasn’t cloned.  Like was raised in this.  I might be wrong, but if that’s the case, then it hints that the Empire is having trouble rebuilding their clone army.  Or maybe they had to start over.  There are cool implications with this character, which is why I now am totally fine with him.  So yeah, don’t go losing your shit because I once had a problem with this.

Next up, there’s the music.  That’s the thing that REALLY got me about this trailer.  This fucking sounds like Star Wars!  For the first time, in ages, this actually sounds like Star Wars.  No idea if they got John Williams to do the score again, but if not, the person they got to replace him is REALLY fucking good.  I like this.

But more than anything else, it feels like Star Wars.  Not drowning in CG.  There is a lot there, but you see that there are sets, and environments, and real things that characters are interacting with.  Do you know how cool that is?!  I’ve been waiting for a movie that makes me feel like I am watching something worthy of the original trilogy again, and I gotta say, this is it.  I like what I am seeing.  The fighter battles were the best.  Something about watching the Millennium Falcon dodging TIE Fighter fire around a Star Destroyer corpse feels SO right.  JJ Abrams seems to have gotten the formula right, and I am actually eager to see what comes next.  This has been a year of disappointing blockbusters, but I think that this is going to be the movie that brings it all back.  Guess we’ll wait and see.  Though, since I am certain that the theaters will be filled for weeks after the film comes out, my review will almost-certainly be coming out next year.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Man, I get up this morning and my inbox on several sites has plenty of people who have flooded it with the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I guess, after my rather scathing post about the first teaser, they wanted me to comment on the new one.  I’m not doing this as a First Take post, because honestly, there’s not much to say about the trailer.  Rather, I want to talk about why, even having seen the new trailer, I have no real desire to see the film.  None at all.  Oh no!  He just said that he doesn’t want to get into the new Star Wars?!  Heresy!  It really isn’t, and I’m going to explain why.  But first, let’s do shameless pandering and have the trailer on here, so you all can gush your little fanboy/girl eyes out!

Here’s something you all need to know about me – I have been DONE with Star Wars for a long time.  The prequel films were terrible.  The absolute worst.  I hated those films from the bottom of my little black heart.  They took a great franchise and threw it in the shitter.  I just got it all out of my system by the last film.  It’s…just not there anymore.

The worst thing about that is that this trailer makes this film look a lot better than the last one.  That stupid red lightsaber design will always bug me, but they at least make the conflict of good and evil look a little more complicated.  You have a stormtrooper leaving their ranks, on a mission all his own.  You have ruins of the Rebellion and the Empire.  It’s clear that the Empire isn’t totally dead yet.  That makes sense.  It wouldn’t have just up and disappeared when the Emperor died.  I’m sure that there were lines of succession.  So the battle is still going on.  And this trailer makes it look like it’s gotten pretty ugly.  You have fights taking place close to ground, with the lines of where the battle happens getting blurred.  That is kinda neat.

Then there’s the battles.  It looks like Star Wars.  It sounds like Star Wars.  It feels like Star Wars!  Everything about this trailer should get me pumped!  But, it doesn’t.  I couldn’t possibly care less.  They even have that bit at the end, where you see Han Solo saying “we’re home.”  I can already hear the fanboys/girls cheering.  And…I don’t care.  It means nothing to me.

You all must be thinking that I’m nuts.  After all, “how can you not be excited by that?!”  I think part of it is because I’m getting kind of sick of the sequel world we live in right now.  For real, almost every film is a sequel, a reboot, or a comic book film.  That’s everything!  And you know, it’s getting old.  The reboots are almost-universally bad.  Or, at the very least, underwhelming.  You have them remaking films that have aged incredibly well, like Secret of NIMH, which, if you read the synopsis they put out, is going to be the stupidest thing of all time.  You have them remaking The Crow, which is especially annoying to me because of the fact that Brandon Lee gave his life for that film, and it didn’t need a remake.  Honestly, I think that Hollywood is out of ideas, at this point.

Before you all come at me, yes, I realize that the reason they do this is because we pay to see it.  Well, you all do.  I only see the films in theaters that I think are worth seeing.  Michael Bay once said that we might hate his movies, but we’ll see them anyway.  I didn’t take that bait.  I didn’t watch Transformers 3, 4 or the new Ninja Turtles movie.  Still, I’m just one guy.  One pretentious douchebag doesn’t mean much in the buckets of money that those movies make.

So yeah, my thoughts in this trailer – it looks a lot better than the last one.  That might actually be a good movie.  But you know what, I don’t care.  I’ll watch it on Netflix, when it comes out.  Until then, I guess you all will do what you want to do.  I know I’m in the minority here.

Until next time, a quote,

“Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?”  -Friedrich Nietzsche

Peace out,

Maverick

The Europa Mystery

My second piece of fiction that I’ve done on this site, in addition to “Quinn.”  This was a project that took a lot longer, but was fun to do.  If you liked this story, I am grouping all the parts here, which you an check out by clicking on each one.  Share the story, and let’s see how big we can make it.  Enjoy.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Until next time, a quote,

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Phillip Pullman

Peace out,

Maverick