World-A-Week Challenge 2: Liberator

This week’s World-A-Week challenge is brought to us by Tom Barnett, who sent in this image via the latenightstirfry email submission box. I believe Mr. Barnett is the crafter of said image.  I claim no authorship or attachment to said image, and if you are the owner please contact me if you disapprove of the post.  Without further ado…

L i b e r a t o r

2040

Sneezing almost constantly, Alison couldn’t believe that her mother had let this much time pass without them going through their storage unit.  Granted, since they had moved it had become more difficult to get to the place, but the trains still ran most of the time and her mother’s almost OCD obsession with cleanliness should’ve had them visiting on at least a monthly basis.  Still, there wasn’t much left here, just a few trunks and bins that had been old even before she was born.

Not everything was available via the datasphere, despite what her friends said.  And sometimes it was satisfying to hold pictures, books, actual things in your hands rather than just get some weak holographic depiction of them, all ghosty and flickery.  So while it was dusty and she was convinced there were spiders here, she was willing to brave them for the sake of what she might find.  Her mother was outside, talking in a loud voice to her father though she couldn’t really hear what was said.  Too much of that was happening lately, and she never seemed to know what set them off.  It seemed to have gotten worse right when her headaches had begun, and when her mom had bought her the dark, almost elbow-length gloves she made Allie wear all the time now.

Anxious to get started and to ignore what was happening a doorway away, Alison shuffled through the storage cubes, finally settling on one covered in dust and cobwebs buried beneath a smaller stack of cubes in the corner.  She shuddered as she cleaned it off, her eyes desperately searching for the slightest movement of her eight-legged foes—but it appeared they were nowhere to be found.  Breathing a sigh of relief, she accidentally swallowed one of the billows of dust she’d kicked up cleaning off the cube.  She coughed and sputtered trying to get it out of her.

Once she settled down, she took the ring of keys out of her pocket and searched for one that fit the old cube.  It made her chuckle to even think about things like actual physical keys.  Who even used them anymore?  Her mother, obviously, and so now she had to go through the ten or so keys on the ring before she finally found one that fit and heard the familiar click and woosh that meant she’d successfully unlocked the box.  She opened it quickly, and leaned over, peering in to see what her mom could’ve kept inside.

Some picture frames, of course, though they were older and not even digital.  She recognized most of them as being her mom and her sisters, as well as her grandmother.  A book of photographs taped together, that seemed to be people she remembered her mom saying were cousins of hers.  Some sort of toy, with a detachable yellow head and strange hands that were in c-shapes, with hollow holes inside the legs for feet.  The character was dressed like something out of one of the old-school anime she and her mom watched on Sunday mornings, but somehow even more over the top.  A toy plane, though not like anything Alison had ever seen in the sky—this thing must’ve been a relic even when her mom was her age.  It was big though, and when she’d finally removed all that she thought she’d reached the bottom of the box.  Well, interesting enough, she thought, but I was hoping for something a bit more fun.  At least give me something to knock mom on about.

Alison went to drop the plane back in the cube, but her pinky slid against the fabric of the bottom and it slid away.  Well, well, well, she grinned, whatever do we have here?  She pulled the fabric away to reveal what looked like a very old cracked brown leather something, with something else inside it.  The larger something seemed to have longer, elasticized strips on its ends that maybe were ties of some kind.  It looked sort of like a bag, but with a whole side cut away.  Not very useful.  But what was inside it, though…that looked interesting, finally.

Old as the leather, maybe older, were what seemed to be some sort of goggles. Brass rimmed, the glass was dusty and fogged with grime even though the stasis box should’ve kept them preserved in a vacuum.  She glanced at the door quickly, to see if her mom had finished up berating her dad but, if anything, the conversation had only gotten louder.

Well, then, she won’t mind what she doesn’t know, giggled Alison, taking off her gloves and cleaning the goggles with them before stretching the brass and leather contraption across her head and sliding the lenses into place.  Whose were these, she wondered, and how did mom get ahold of them?  And then the whole world lurched.

2010

Molly hated how small she was.  He mom and dad had taken her to a few doctors, all of whom said that she was just maturing slower and that she’d catch up in a few years to her classmates.  Not a big deal.  So she sulked a lot around the house, and only John across the street seemed to want to play with her.  That was fine, as she wasn’t that big a fan of Monster High or some of the other ‘girly’ toys she saw brought and traded at school.  She was perfectly happy playing Avengers with John—and more happy to watch anime and read comics with him and his friends than she was to obsess over Twilight.

She loved old sci-fi movies, the cheesier the better.  She’d seen The Rocketeer more times than she could count, and she was convinced that her love for both movies meant that the Hellboy movies and Sky Captain ought to do a mash-up.  She’d even started a tumblr about it, though she was pretty sure she’d have gotten a stern talking-to if her parents knew that.

More than anything, though, she wanted to fly.  Not like Iron Man, though his suit was sick.   She loved the classic planes, bombers, and supersonic jets.  She had made her parents call her Amelia, after she’d read about Amelia Earhart in her encyclopedia a few years back.  She had even talked her dad into taking her to a local airshow and got to sit in a few cockpits with some real pilots, though she had been too overcome to say much beyond a quiet thank you to them before she left.  She searched for pictures of ships, and stories about them, and posted them on her bulletin board.  If a comic character had a ship, it went to the top of her stack.  So when she’d started to go through the attic to get some extra money from her parents so they’d buy her a complete Last Exile DVD set on eBay (she’d seen an episode on Netflix and talked about it for weeks afterwards), she figured she’d find some roly-poly bugs and organize all the junk up there in some way and call it quits.

What she hadn’t counted on, however, was that some of it wasn’t junk at all.  She found an old jewelry box made out of carved wood with what looked like gold handles on the top and some sort of crest on the top.  When she opened it, there were a bunch of medals inside.  At first, she thought maybe it was her dad’s Boy Scout medal box or something, but the more she looked at them the more she came to think that maybe the medals were legit.   So she’d taken them downstairs and shown her mom.  Her mom had gone tight-lipped at seeing the box, and when Molly opened it up and showed her one of the medals, what looked like a dark brown metal star attached to blue and white ribbon, her mom grabbed her stomach with her right hand while the left went to her mouth to hide her gasp.

“Those are your Grandpa Henry’s,” her mom said after a moment, still catching her breath from the surprise. “Wherever did you find those?”

“I was cleaning the attic like you asked me to, and there was an old cardboard box buried under a bunch of stuff up there.  I found this jewelry box inside, and then the medals were inside.  Did I do something bad, mommy?”

“NO!  Oh, no, my dear sweet little girl.  You didn’t do a single thing wrong.  It’s just been so long since I’ve seen these.  I’d forgotten we’d taken them from your Grandma Rose.”  She dried her last dish, turning away from Molly for a moment to lay down the towel, and said “Why don’t you show me the box you found those in? I think there might be something in there for you.”

Five years ago, Liz  wouldn’t have even thought of this, but her mother  had passed away and so much of what they’d inherited had been buried in boxes long before then.  Besides, she imagined her mother might approve of what she had in mind.  She followed Molly up the sharply angled, thin fold-out staircase up to the attic, pausing at the top to notice just how much work her daughter had done during the last few days to get the place in shape.  She was pretty impressed.  Molly’d labeled most of the boxes, her overly large cursive writing  covered them with lists of things inside some, whereas others just said “CLOTHES” in giant block letters.

Liz knelt down next to Molly, who was opening up the box she’d found her grandfather’s medals in.  There were old newspaper clipping inside, a few photo albums made of black paper with monochrome pictures taped to the pages.  Underneath the albums was one of her father’s spare uniforms, clearly pressed and folded years before when her mother had boxed up Henry’s things.  And beneath the uniform was what she was sure had to be there, lying on top of several sheaves of paper.  She glanced over at Molly, and her face was dumbstruck.

“Mom…was this Grandpa Henry’s too?” Molly whispered, somewhere between awe and confusion.  She lifted out the brown leather aviator hat, its chin strap falling out of where it had been tucked inside.  She turned it slowly around, one hand inside stretching the cap out as far as her hands could.

Liz saw how enraptured her daughter was and knew she’d made the right call.  She reached out for the hat, gently sliding it from Molly’s grasp.   “Yes, sweetie, Grandpa Henry was a pilot.  Well, he worked on a plane.  During World War II, your grandpa ran secret missions into France with some of his friends, dropping off spies and rescuing people trapped there by the Nazis at night. He worked in a little ball that came down beneath the plane, which he shot out of if the bad guys surprised them.  It was very dangerous, because there wasn’t room for even a parachute in the ball with him; he had to keep it inside the plane above him.”

Molly sat for a moment, her brown eyes wide and bright with what Liz thought might’ve been tears.  She reached for Molly, smoothing her straight chestnut hair out of her face.  Holding the back of the cap in one hand, she grasped the chin strap and loosened it as Molly sat perplexed.  That ended quickly, though, as Liz slid the strap underneath her daughter’s chin and slid the cap over her daughter’s head.

Molly was simply overcome, and started to cry.  Liz wished her father had lived long enough to have met this girl, so clearly after his own heart.  She often struggled to relate to her daughter, who already was so much of a tomboy and seemed to be becoming even more so as she entered her teen years.  Then again, Liz barely remembered him herself.  She remembered the feel of sitting in his lap, his hand and arm resting against her shoulder, she remembered what she thought was his voice as he played catch with her for the first time.  That’d been a disaster, but he hadn’t shown any disappointment.  He’d just scooped her up and carried her inside on his shoulders and tickled her as he put her down on the soft rug of the family room.  He even went to one of her tea parties once, the only human in a sea of imaginary friends.  Yes, he would’ve worshipped the ground Molly walked on.

“He must’ve been so scared, Mommy, to sit in a tiny little ball in the dark, waiting for someone to shoot first.”

“I’m sure he was, Molly.  But he was brave, too.  He knew that what he was fighting against wasn’t just people, but an idea he thought was evil.  And he was willing to be scared to fight that, so that someone else wouldn’t have to be scared.  He did it, so that we would be safe, and the people fighting would be safer.  So that it would all end sooner, so he could come home.  And he did.”  Liz reached into the box, as Molly let go of the deathgrip hug she’d latched onto her mother.  She pulled out her father’s goggles, gritty with sand and what looked like drywall dust. She handed them to Molly, who quickly put them on, the bronze frames still not dulled by the years.  She reached behind Molly’s head, chuckling at the mass of her hair spilling out of the bottom of the cap as she tightened the goggles.

“When I grow up, I’m going to fly just like Grandpa Henry.   I’d love to be a pilot, but if I can’t, I’ll do something else.  I’m not scared of falling, so they can put me in a ball if they need to.  I’ll protect you and Daddy, and John, and even Lisa down the street.  So you don’t have to be afraid.”

And then it was Liz’s turn to cry.

1944

 It might have been peaceful, even with the ridiculous amount of noise from the engines vibrating through the plane.  The moon was not quite full, the clouds from earlier in the afternoon had dissipated a few hours earlier, and the stars were bright this high up from the ground.  He could find his bearings by them, if he had to—though he was glad for the maps, too.

Ahead, the black  B-24, almost a twin to his own plane save for its black paint and lack of ball turret, started its descent into the French countryside.  Usually they floated above the drop craft, but after a few seconds, they too started a rather steep descent.  Henry  tightened up the goggles, smacked the bulwark a few times and when the others looked at him he motioned with his hands he was headed below.  The closer they got to land, the greater the chance they were going to be spotted or heard.  He wanted to be sure he was ready.

The guys gave him a lot of grief for the goggles at first, but that stopped after their first few firefights.  The goggles had been his dad’s, from World War I, which in turn had been given to him by one of his French compatriots when he was training at Saint-Maixent. His dad had been one of the first thousand airmen America had trained, and he was here to do honor to that as much as stick up for his country.  He refused to fly without the goggles, and his quick reflexes in the turret ball had already saved them more than once.  In the eyes of the crew, that gave him the right to wear whatever he wanted on his face, as long as his luck continued.

He took out the rough, grease-smeared picture of Rose, wearing the cornflower dress he’d bought her the week before he’d left, and his little Elizabeth with her pigtails and her yellow jumper.  Most of the fellas had girls waiting for them back home, but he was the only one on the plane who had a kid.  Boy, what a surprise she had been!  But he cherished every moment he had with her, even the tea parties where he had to guess where the other celebrants were because they only existed in her curly-haired head.  Looking down over the villages that passed beneath him like a river, he wondered how many fathers and daughters slept soundly there.  He didn’t begrudge them their time.  It just made him all the more eager to do his part, so that this hell of a war would end all the sooner.  He was proud to serve his country, and flying in the belly of the beast had its appeal he supposed, but the constant tension ate at him.

From the ground, sudden sparks of light made him refocus.  The grind of the engines combined with the wind shear of the descent sometimes made the entire turret shake, and keeping his aim on target was a challenge.  This didn’t look good.  As they got closer, the jet black 24 ahead of them evened out, trying to fly around the machine gun fire flying up from the ground.  It was as if someone had known they were coming.  One hand on the trigger, his other put the photo back in his breast pocket.  The moonlight finally let him see what was shooting at them.  His hand steadied, and he maneuvered the reflector sight until they were square on target.  He tapped the goggles twice for luck and pressed the button.  Machine guns whirred and fired as the ground guns turned their sights on him and his plane.  The Joes would have to be dropped off later.  He had to buy them enough time to get away.  The gunfire from the ground suddenly seemed a lot louder.  He heard a few cracks as some of them bounced or embedded themselves into the metal holding his turret.

Just breathe, he told himself.

Rose, honey.  I’m coming back to you.

2040

“What did you just say, Allie?” her mom asked her, looking at Alison with the pursed lips that always meant her mood was going to be rotten for the rest of the day.  She was kneeling down next to Alison, her arm draped over her shoulder.  Though her mouth said she was angry, her eyes looked worried.  Allie reached up to take off the goggles, and got a sharp shock when her hands came in contact with the bronze frames.  She actually jumped both because it had surprised her as well as how much it had hurt.  Her mother gasped though, and it took her a minute to figure out what had caused her mom to react that way. Her gloves had fallen out of her hands at some point, and her mom had seen her bare arms when she had taken off the goggles.

Molly took her daughter’s face between both her hands, and asked again, “what did you say?”

“I’m coming back to you, Rose.  You and Elizabeth”

Quickly, Molly took the goggles from Allie’s hands, throwing them into the box they’d come from.  Alison looked a bit pale, and her eyes were unfocused.

“I want to protect you, you and daddy, and John and…” Allie whispered, her eyes fluttering closed, trying desperately to stay open.

Molly’s voice caught in a sob.  She remembered that day, all those years ago, in her mother’s attic.  She’d worn her grandfather’s goggles and cap for years, eventually using the goggles as some sort of costume thing for some convention somewhere.  She’d never flown a plane, but she had flown.  The world had changed, and she’d changed with it.  But none of it had prepared her for what was happening with Alison.  That’s when the fights with Jack had begun, over how to handle it, and had spilled out to cover so much of what had laid between them over the last few years.  She didn’t doubt they both had what they thought were Allie’s best interests at heart.

This dear girl in her arms wanted to soar, just like she had.  But in a different direction, one which Molly didn’t even know how to describe.  And as the months piled on, it was getting harder to hide from Allie her strange affliction.  The doctors had tried to caution her to think of it as a gift, but what mother wants their daughter isolated like this, traumatized every time she touched anything—or anyone?

As Allie’s body snuggled into Molly’s embrace, her eyes saw nothing but moonlight spilling across the sky, pricked by stars that seemed impossibly bright.  She could hear, every now and then, her mother calling her name.  She just wanted one more second here, and then she’d come back.

Caught up in the mute, soundless beauty of it, she held just a single thought.

I want to fly.

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Wednesday Weigh-In Week 2

Favorite Meal: Another boring week–I had leftovers for the first half of the week, and take out Qdoba last night.  Going to make something fun this weekend though, since I have it off–just haven’t decided what that might be as yet.

Song of the Week: Shooting Star, by Owl City.  Total cheese pop, but totally hits me where I live this week.  Actually, this whole album is amazingly upbeat compared to some of his earlier work–and while his voice doesn’t always hit that sweet spot we want in our bubble gum pop, the earnestness that made a lot of America fall in love with him after “Fireflies” is still there in spades.

Best Media of the Week: Lots of musical media this week.  Most recently, we have the grinning Golden in Hip Dog Digs It.  I giggled for a half hour watching it.  New to some of you, though, may be this next one (especially if you don’t follow me on tumblr)  Behold the dancing Robin GIF: Don’t Judge.  There’s My Name is Kay’s new video for Strangers, too.  Lots of good stuff this week, but hands down my favorite? The Irish President ripping a Tea Party supporter for…well, just about everything he stood for.  Take a listen here.

Comic of the Week: This was a week of a lot of endings in comic land.  Most story arcs in DC’s oeuvre ended this month, due to their flashback month in September.  Green Lantern: New Guardians finished it’s first year story arc this week with issue 12, and there were pay offs galore.  I enjoy this book, but something felt almost forced about this issue…as if it needed another issue or two to tell all that happened, but because of 0 Month in September they weren’t given the space.  I do dig, in a big way, what they’re setting Kyle up for heading into the Green Lantern crossover event that is the next story arc after September’s flashback.

Surprisingly, The Unwritten also wrapped up its current story arc this month and it was epic and awesome in the way that book and only that book can be.  Honestly, there isn’t another comic out there, in my estimation, with Unwritten’s combination of Gross’ art and  the manifold layers of depth in Carey’s written word.  It’s the book I save close to last so I can savor it, because I know I’ll have to read it a few times before I really feel like I understand everything happening.  The ending of this issue had me shouting “YES!” to an empty room.  The best endings are just new beginnings.

Without question Flash #12 had some of the best art of the week, and the story was the tightest its been in months.  In short, THIS is the Flash book we were promised, and I’m thrilled that we’re headed to a place where we’re done with the moping and we’re getting into the frenetic life of what is arguably one of my favorite comic characters (albeit with other people behind the mask) of all time. Manapul and Buccellato managed to make the watercolors–especially on Glider–so effortlessly beautiful without sacrificing the incredible chaotic energy of life on super speed.  Old Friends became enemies, old enemies became friends, and suddenly Central City felt so real again.

The winner of the week, though, was Amazing Spider-Man #692.

 It’s an interesting issue.  I really don’t like Andy Maguire (aka Alpha), and I get the feeling that was sort of the point.  Peter Parker was special in a lot of ways even before that damned arachnid got involved.  Andy isn’t.  He’s worked so hard to become invisible, to not matter, that when he finally does you don’t necessarily wish him well of it.  I think Spidey is amazing about it though, as is the supporting cast.  Reed and Ben make great comedic and serious foils, especially dealing with Pete’s history and the common Spidey theme of hubris.  I agree with CBR’s review that said Slott easily was channeling Stan Lee when he wrote the issue.  It’s a great totally Spidey story, even if I don’t care for his new sidekick.

What amazed me the most, however, were the two backup stories.  The first was written and penciled by Dean Haspiel.  The story was fine enough, though nothing to necessarily write home about–until the last few panels had me in tears.  I love Spider-Man for this very reason, for the simple nobility and the purity of what he stands for.  Totally reminded me of the issue with Pete and Franklin after Johnny’s death.  I love that Haspiel found a tossed away moment in recent continuity and crafted something so totally fitting to honor Spidey’s 50th with it.  The man who found the costume was desperate to make “her” happy, so much so that he tried again and again to give her anything she could possibly want–but ultimately all she wanted was his love.  Heartbreaking.

The second back up was written by Joshua Fialkov, with Nino Plati on art.  I don’t typically love Fialkov’s work, but I loved Plati’s manga-inspired art enough to give it a whirl.  His muted colors softened what could’ve been a jarring switch in style, and engendered a feeling of nostalgia that ran throughout the tale.  Honestly, it could’ve been set almost anytime in Spider-Man’s continuity and it would’ve held up well.  As for the story itself, I hope Dan Slott doesn’t take this the wrong way, but that was as solid a Spider-Man story as Slott’s done in his run.  I was definitely that kid growing up.  I definitely spent the majority of my ‘tweens’ living in my head, to make dealing with the bullying of the other kids easier.  I just kept it to myself rather than tell anyone who could hear.  But Fialkov made me laugh, made me tear up, and maybe even made me want to fistbump my cat at its awesomeness.

There were no humans present, ok?

Owein is chill like that.

 

Tumblr Tuesday/World-A-Week Challenge: Week 2

So Tuesday is happening on Wednesday again this week.  I’m a bit behind, but I’m on vacation so I plan on getting a bit ahead of the game going into next week.  I only got 1 image submission last week, but it was a doozy.  I hope you enjoyed the first story challenge.  This week’s Tumblr Tuesday images can be found here.  This week’s World-A-Week Challenge: People.  So send me any images that have, you know, people in it.  Do you like one of the images I posted? Want to submit your own?  Send submissions for this week’s challenge to latenightstirfry@gmail.com.  Lastly, Javan (the kind gentleman who sent in last week’s submission) sent in one for this week already…so here it is:

 

 

Also, going forward the deadline for image submissions for a Challenge will be Thursday night, at 11:59pm EST.

 

World-A-Week Challenge I: Everybody Talks

 This week’s Challenge Image was brought to you by Javan Nelums, submitted over Facebook.  The image is by JJasso, and is called Thekno City.  I claim no authorship or attachment to said image, and if you are the owner please contact me if you disapprove of the post.  Without Further ado…

E v e r y b o d y   T a l k s

 

Corin dashed through the neon patchwork of the streets, the garish lights of billboards and the corporate spires of the New City muddled by his steps in the ever-present puddles on the street beneath him.  It was December, but that didn’t keep the air from being thick with the humidity of the breath of the millions that lived above him, made impossibly more stagnant with the overabundant scent of the spices flowing from the vendors set up and down the street. He scrubbed the moisture out of the stubble on the left side of his head and took a moment to consider.

He’d arrived in the Old City only a few hours before, having just got into the station from Hong Kong a fraction of an hour before that.  Since then, he’d been wandering without a destination, trying to appear as if he was a Midlevel on a jaunt below, something that had become commonplace enough as to not gather comment.  Small flocks of squawking birds lit on street side heaters used to create circular patios to draw passersby into the shops, their mottled forms outnumbering the few patrons out at this hour of the night.

Few on this level could afford the shops and restaurants’ luxuries, only to work for them.  His father had been one of them, though in a different borough.  Corin had helped as a child, carrying food to the tables of those from the neighborhood fortunate enough that week to be able to order his cousin Sarya’s roasted dumplings, or those slumming from the wealthier Levels Above who came in for his aunt Marda’s pastries.  Traditionalism had been a major fad for several years before he’d walked away from that life, and some of the Midlevels still latched onto it, desperate to gain face with those above them.

The hem of his coat was slick with the mixture of sludge and whatever liquid passed for rain this close to the surface.  The biased leather trench had kept the chill away when he was Above, but he was roasting now that he’d reached the surface. He’d needed to hide, and they’d already been in the station when he’d arrived.  He’d developed some arcane instinct detecting when he was being watched over the last six months.  He’d had to, in order to have lasted this long.  So he’d taken the nearest shuttle without looking, hoping his lack of a plan might buy him some time—but in hindsight setting himself up in a part of town where someone like him stuck out like an out’chiya in full plumage wasn’t going to get the job done.

His steps were deliberate, though his gait must’ve looked peculiar to those who glanced at him as he shuffled past. They didn’t engage their curiosity for more than a moment before they dropped their eyes back to their menus and drinks.  He’d chosen this borough precisely because it wasn’t the sort of place you raised your gaze.  Once part of downtown, the Old City had found itself pushed further and further to the periphery of the ever-growing metropolis.  And in typical American tradition, the ethnic neighborhoods had been pushed to the edge of town as the powerful bought up the center of the city and began to build their spires, domes, and wealth.  He was definitely an outsider here, and he needed to get off the streets before his aimless wanderings made him appear…conspicuous.  He pulled up the collar of his coat to hide what he could of his visage and continued apace.

Corin shook his head to clear his thoughts, his lopsided mahogany bangs matting against the right side of his face.  Cass had loved the look, he remembered wincing.  He’d grown out all of it about a year ago, and she’d given him hell for it, asking if he’d decided to pursue a career as a urisen after all.  She’d been the one to get the trimmers and, after a few too many shots and a dare, he let her shave off the left side.  He should shave it all off.  Get it together, man.  This is not the time to fall apart. Focus. Keep moving. Don’t attract attention. He let the emotions slide off his face and put on a slightly askew, almost teasing grin.  He didn’t care if it looked mocking—that would suit him just as well.

The package bulging through the brown leather bag slung over his right shoulder had to remain intact if he was going to survive this, even if he didn’t understand what it was, or why he’d been chased across two continents for it.  Life as a courier had paid the bills, and kept him light on his feet, but the last year had kept him running almost nonstop, when he wasn’t in the air.  Glancing up, ships lit the sky, flying to and from the New City, disappearing as crackling streaks of light in the smudge that was the sky.  He felt his pocket buzzing, but he dared not answer the UBox.  Encrypted as it was, it was dangerous enough to have kept it on. Just in case.

More blocks than he could count later, he had to stop at the corner of yet another two streets he couldn’t pronounce to make way for some armored transport headed out into the suburbs.  He briefly stopped and contemplated trying to jump alongside, but by the time he contemplated it had long past and he took a breath.  Across the street, a man with a weathered, cracked  face looked up from his street stand and its barbequing meat, his hard amber eyes softening as he saw the tattoo on his neck.  Corin winced—obviously the collar hadn’t been enough to hide what had mattered most.  He tried to not let his exhaustion show as he met the man’s eyes, and nodded softly.  The man was about to speak when Corin started down the side street.  Safer for you to not get involved, he mused, if it came to that.  Whoever wanted what he was carrying, wanted it badly enough to put down his partners in Boston, and the contacts in AIC he’d reached out to in Portland.

Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t realize he’d turned again down a small alley until he was facing the wall in front of him.  Too tall to climb, covered in that damn slime-mold that was a plague on the older buildings of this part of town, he was going to have to turn around.  Dead end, just like the last six months, he sighed, his shoulders slumping and the bag drooping towards the ground.  I’m not going to do this.

Blue goo fell from the sky, some skyward ship dumping its waste in front of him, as gulls and what might’ve been a corvus flew from the nearby heaters and landed to promptly feast on it, screeching at him to protect their feast.

The inevitable footsteps crept up behind him.

Tumblr Tuesday/World-a-Week Challenge: Week 1

So Tuesday got away from me, but I realized if I didn’t post something resembling a Tumblr Tuesday  post, I couldn’t do my inaugural World-a-Week Challenge!  So, I curated a bunch of images from my tumblr page that I think are awesome.  You can find the link of this past week’s favorite images here.

This week’s World-a-Week challenge: Location, Location.  Find a picture that speaks to you for some reason of a particular place, and send it in to the blog here, or to my tumblr. Beings (people, animals, fantasy creatures) can be in the picture, but the challenge for me will be to use the  setting you give me.  I may use whatever else is in the image, if it works with what I come up with (it usually will).

So send me pictures!  Let’s build our first world!

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week One

Comic of the Week: Despite me floundering in the end of Kieron Gillen‘s Journey into Mystery (which, the more I think about it, might be one of my favorite comic runs by anyone of all time) all week, whistfully sighing waiting for Marvel to announce that he is writing that teen team-up book with some of my favorite characters ever (WHEN, Marvel, WHEN?), and the craziness involving travel and business trips for the boyfriend, I haven’t even gotten to last week’s comics yet!  But a commitment is a commitment, and I promised you folks an update.  So I had the unfortunate burden of heading to Culver’s for comics lunch and reading my entire weekly draw from this week.  And there was a lot to read.

I should probably give you all a sense of scale.  This was a slightly heavy draw week off of my pull list at my friendly local comic shop (flcs, going forward).  I had 20 books waiting for me today, spreading between the big 2 (Marvel & DC Comics) and some smaller franchise and independent books.  So when I say something was the best of the week, that means it surpassed about 17-19 other titles each week.  That means I read approximately 80 comics a month.  It also means I’m poor.

So, what won out this week? It was a weird pull, because for a change I had a wide spread across a bunch of genres.  Valiant’s Harbinger, Mike Norton & Tim Seeley‘s Revival, Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, and Nate Cosby & Ben McCool’s Pigs #8 were all tight this week, turning in some of the best work yet on all titles.  For big payoffs, AvX #10 was pretty sweet (been waiting for a decent moment in this title, as its definitely been dragging). Some books that surprised me were X-Factor #242–big emotional moments, but almost no build up left me wanting to feel more than I did.  Red Hood #12 almost made it to the top of the pile, as the storytelling was honestly as tight as I’ve seen Lobdell do since he started his run.  It felt very much the epic, star-spanning swashbuckling story they were clearly aiming for with the cover font choice.  Avengers Academy 35 (which just announced its end date this fall and I’m trying not to cry) had big emotional payoffs this week and ties for the top spot. I’m going to miss the characters something fierce, despite Christos Gage‘s comment that they may be living on in some way in other title in the MarvelNOW iniative. They won’t be the same without his heart and soul filling them up with awesome.

The winner for this week, however, is DC Universe Presents: Kid Flash.  What? A one-shot in an anthology series wins best of the week? HECK YEAH, it does!  For starters, I didn’t realize how much I missed Fabian Nicieza‘s voice in DC’s teen heroes.  I love Scott Lobdell‘s Teen Titans, but Fabian was my go-to guy that made me seriously love Tim Drake–and he does wonder with the New52’s Bart.  Under Nicieza’s guidance, Kid Flash comes across more serious in this one-shot than in the main Titans book, more experienced and wiser while at the same time keeping his humor and awkwardness that made Bart one of my favorite DC heroes ever.  He also goes up against teenage human/dinosaur hybrids that are pretty complex for brand new, one-shot characters.  And that’s just the start.  I almost want him to lead a team of these dino-kids in a longer running mini-series.  The art by Jorge Jimenez is sleek and speedy.  I didn’t exhale until I finished the issue, as it was one beautiful ride that slid effortlessly from panel to panel.  This makes me crush so hard for this creative team, as well as all of the characters.  So if you like dinosaurs, Flash, Bart, or just great teen characters (that ought to be most of you), DC Presents: Kid FLash (#12) is the one comic you should buy this week.

Song of the Week: Well, last week it was Primadonna, by Marina & the Diamonds.  Early this week, it was Want U Back, by Cher Lloyd.  But lately I’ve found myself listening to the remix album of Imagine Dragons’ It’s Time on Spotify on endless repeat. It’s been really energizing, good habit reinforcing, and makes me dance around the house with my gym shorts on.  No videos of the latter.

Favorite Meal of the Week: This week has been boring for food.  Leftovers and frozen dinners.  I’ll Have more exciting things to report next week.

Best Media Stuff of the Week:  Well, the Madonna Bar Mitzvah Boy is big on the gay blogs this week.  I feel envious of him, that he’s comfortable enough in himself, and his family and friends that he could let loose like that at so young an age.  I definitely used to wish to do things like that at that age.  But I think the two best media making the rounds the last week, in the last week or so (keep in mind, some of this is dated but I found it this week) is the story of the momma dog saving her puppies from a burning building in Chile and an old story I found on Kieron Gillen’s tumblr stream about the magic we can give to each other when we rise about ourselves and try to be selfless, even in the smallest ways.  That story made me cry, so it wins this week.  Read it here.

Welcome to Late Night Stir Fry!

So this is it, my inaugaral post on Late Night Stir Fry!  I snagged this domain about a year ago, and I’ve sat on it until I was sure I knew what I wanted to do here.  If you’re looking for my personal blog, you can find it here.  Chances are, though, that’s not what brought you to our door.

Late Night Stir Fry is my attempt to unify my online writing presence, while also creating an interactive space for myself and those that read my work.   So in the words of Sue Sylvester, let me break it down for you.

  • Tumblr Tuesdays: Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting a bunch of images here that will forward to my tumblr blog.  I’ll also put out a request for you to post pictures as comments to the thread.  Each week, I’ll pick one picture and write up a scene inspired by it.  Depending on the week, it’ll be either a Person, Place, or Thing.
  • Wednesday Weigh-Ins: Every Wednesday I’ll comment on my favorite comic of that week, as well as films, television shows, or random pop culture phenomena.  Think of it as a media download with a twist.
  • Spotify Sundays: The last Sunday of every month, I’ll post a Spotify playlist that will be my soundtrack for the following month.  I’ll listen to it while I write the World-a-Week challenges, and comment throughout the month on which songs rock and which grow stale with use–and I’ll definitely take recommendations and requests.
  • Late Night Stir Fry (World a Week Challenge): This is the heart of this little experiment.  Sometime between Friday and Sunday each week, I’ll post the short fiction inspired by one of the pictures you have submitted.  This fiction may or may not interrelate with other week’s challenges.  The more creative the pictures you send in, the more creative I’ll be in turning what you send me into a window to another world.  At the end of a year, I will examine the project’s progress and determine its future.
  • Status Updates on my other larger projects: I have larger, non-web based projects in various states of preparation.  As they move forward, you’ll be able to find preview excerpts here, as well as status updates as my work on them continues.

To summarize, the goal of this site is thus: I write a lot. Pop Culture & Geeky things. Pictures. We create worlds.  We share our imaginations. We win.

Sound good?