Friday, April 29, 2011

Sentience Part 5

Links to the previous installments:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

And here, for your enjoyment, Part 5 of Sentience.


He kept driving, staring ahead. The passenger stared straight ahead as well.

Frederick failed to see the fist flying at him before his jaw exploded in pain. He pulled the steering wheel back as the car swerved to the left.
The android was staring at him.

"What was that for?" he asked it calmly.

"I was sort of hoping you'd crash."

Expected. "Why?"

"Oh, I don't know, so maybe I could get some help because I've been taken against my will and I probably will have a concussion later because you no doubt watch too many movies."

Frederick rubbed his jaw gingerly, flexing it slowly. "How do I deactivate you?'


"I need to deactivate you. It's more humane. That's all I can give you."

"I wasn't aware I could be deactivated." The robot rubbed its face. Frederick felt sad.

"You're one of those, then."

"One of what?"

"Those machines who don't know they're machines."

There was a long silence. It stared at him incredulously, then spoke.

"Yeah, you definitely watch too much media. I think it's addled your brain."

"But you're a machine."

"And where did you hear that rumor?"

Frederick kept driving, deeper into the desert. "My...clients. They created you and hired me to retrieve you and bring you back to them or eliminate you."


"I'm sorry."

She--it--fished in the bag on the floorboard feet and pulled a rather large knife from it, setting the blade to its wrist.

"Wait, what are you doing?"

"Showing you that you're a gullible idiot." It pressed down.

"No, don't-" Frederick looked away as a tiny spurt of blood hit the windshield. Marie clapped a hand over the wound.

"Do you have a first aid kit?"

Frederick nodded, fighting back nausea. "In the glove box."

Marie opened the kit and pulled out a miniature fluid analysis machine. A drop and a smear of blood went in, and the machine beeped a few moments later, the results showing in bold, bright letters.

Frederick glanced at the screen.

BLOOD. Type: A+. Glucose Level: 93. More data he couldn't see.

That was his machine. It wasn't tampered with, couldn't be. He pulled over.


That's all for today, and thanks for tuning in. Stop by soon for more.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The kraken is said to come forth from the sea and destroy those unfortunate ships that happen to be in its path, devouring lives as it goes, a monster. It can disappear quick as it came, only to rise again, leaving devastation before it slips beneath the seas to await another opportunity.

The past 24 hours have been horrific for the Southern United States. The number of deaths is over 200 and rising. There was little warning.

I live in Eastern North Carolina, and we have been unaffected so far by the storms that struck Alabama, Georgia, and several other states. I have been watching the news, though, and an image I saw this morning struck me more than anything.

A huge tornado moved along the ground somewhere in Alabama, classified as an EF-5, the strongest tornadoes, whose winds can reach over 200 miles per hour, some close to 300. This huge beast that raged through Alabama was moving fast along the ground, and every so often there would be thin offshoots from the main body, like tentacles.

A tornado is a kraken of the skies. A tornado is the only storm that can be considered an entity rather than a weather phenomenon. It is a beast that does not grow, or sprout, or appear, but spawns, the only word to describe an animal made of wind and pressure.

On April 16, a series of tornado cells raged through North Carolina. You may have seen the articles and pictures. Homes leveled, a Lowes Store destroyed, 22 deaths in the state alone. A storm took out a dry cleaners and messed up a Walgreen's near me, blew apart some houses down the road from the Walgreen's. I wasn't in my town that day. My family was working at a pet show and visiting friends in New Bern, North Carolina, and were heading back, late afternoon, we dueled a monster head-on.

It had been windy all day, and was looking pretty bad when we left New Bern, but not bad enough there to worry too much. As we drove further west, reports came on the radio of tornadoes striking throughout the state. Dad was on his Ham radio trying to get some information from other operators and trying to get out some information about the storm. The skies grew darker and the wind was picking up. In the distance, a dark blue cloud was moving and changing and pushing down a white funnel. The sky changed over us, not black, but the sick color of mucus, and hail began to pelt the car like bullets. There were no shelters to stop in, and my dad was about to pull over so we could climb into a ditch that was already filled with water. The wind and the hail picked up steadily. Barely, I saw cars pulled over, flashers on, waiting out the storm. My dad chose to keep driving. The van was having problems staying on the road as the wind picked it up and the acceleration of the tires barely kept it on the road.

And then everything turned white, and the roaring began.

And we prayed.

And there was the city of Goldsboro. The sky had cleared. Praise be to God, we made it through. Dad pulled off into the parking lot of an Outback Steakhouse, we emerged from our cocoon, shaking, but exhilarated. Marble-sized hail littered the ground and cooled the air.

That night's dinner was the best meal ever.

Having survived an encounter with a beast of the skies and, I know how blessed I am to even be alive, much less unscathed. You do not forget what it is like to survive a tornado. My heart hurts for the over 200 people who went to bed never expecting that they wouldn't see the sun the next morning.

God be with us as we remember this day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sentience: Part 4

After a long hiatus, here is the fourth part of Sentience. Enjoy.


He had read the documents again, carefully. The address given where the machine resided. It was an apartment, a cheap one, in a care-worn part of the city. Trash here and there, the typical scenery, a contrast to the stark cleanliness, and far from the central city, and quiet.

5:00 A.M. The customer had called two hours ago, demanding the machine, sooner as opposed to the later option that brought more threats.

There was no one to threaten close to him. But the thought of disappearing, with no contact, no message, only a cold and indifferent notice to his faraway family, however estranged they were, got his attention. Marie the robot would have to be destroyed. Escape was the option afterwards. He'd disappear then.

The door to the apartment complex opened, the only movement for three blocks. He watched.

It was her.

Not's not a human.

It would recognize him, and he may not have time to find the switch to turn it off before he did the job. He'd have to move fast. He had locks in the car only he could control.

He stepped out of the car and approached the machine. It was searching in a bag, and glanced up as he reached it. It didn't move.

"Are you stalking me now?" It took one step back. Frederick hit the button on the control in his hand that opened the passenger door of his car and grabbed the machine's arm, gripping it, caught off-guard for a moment. It was soft, without the quiet mechanic buzzing usually present in computers and appliances. The technology was impressive. He forgot this as she began to fight him, kicking at his legs and trying to beat him over the head with her free hand. She wasn't fast at all, or strong. He dragged it back to the car, tuning out the screaming and pushing its head against the door frame. It hadn't been able to fight him off.

"Ow!" He expected the clank of metal, not the convincing thunk of tissue. He shoved the convincing machine into the car and walked around to the driver side. He could hear the thing inside the car, beating on the windows and metal and plastic, and hoped it didn't break something. He got in himself, sighing.

It turned to look at him, its false eyes slightly glazed and its hand rubbing its scalp, a tremor in its motion, probably from some minor scrambling in its head. "What did you do that for?"
"I'm sorry."
"No you aren't. Let me out of here." It was panicking now.
"I'm sorry, but I can't." His needs were important. This thing was good, this machine. It sounded like it was close to tears. Maybe it didn't even know it was a machine, like in some Earth drama from years back.
"...I'll let you know later." He accelerated down the street, going slow. Being pulled over would not help the situation. His heart was racing.

What was he about to do to?


That's all for today, but we'll be back soon with more, so tune in again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Heads Up For This Summer

Southern Fried Fantasy is going on the road!

Sort of.

No, I mean, eventually we are, to Central Florida later in the season. But in the meantime, I thought y'all would like to see some pictures of the places that leave me with a profound sense of inspiration. Seriously, I can't even look at an old house without going "this is an opportunity for...dundundun...a story."

I think I'll start with a bridge.

No really.

Isn't it amazing?

This bad boy is located in Brunswick County, VA, near where my Gramma's home in Lawrenceville, VA (which Forks Washington cannot hold a candle to in terms of smallness and middle-of-nowhere-ness.) I am seriously in love with this bridge, and I plan to use the image for a future project not related to writing at all. This bridge is amazing in any light, but you can see that the day this picture was taken, the weather was cloudy.

What's the point?

I'm not sure, but it is a gorgeous picture, thanks to Kodak and my ability to take pics under pressure while dodging other cars on a two-lane road. I owe more to the location, however, and my upbringing.

I think my life would be a tad boring if I lived in New York City or any major area. I live in a suburban/rural (yes, it can be both) area, and there is a high degree of sheer quirk every day. A lot of my job takes me into the areas outside my town and into the county. Abandoned stores and derelict (don't you love that word?) tobacco barns dot the land. My great grandmother is buried in a tiny, and I mean TINY, family cemetery out in the literal middle of nowhere, near the birthplace of William Pender (who I may or may not be related to). These types of cemeteries are everywhere, including in front of an office building in town and in the parking lot of our outdated and mostly empty shopping mall. Cemeteries, barns, bridges, and abandoned houses date back to a time when the land was not quite tame and shoes were still optional.

You want it newer?

A duct-tape basketball goal near the rough part of town, a building labeled with ancient Egyptian names and acting as a home for abandoned cars, an old vehicle leaving a doughnut in the gravel parking lot of a trailer home...oh yeah. The Kenly skating rink, a popular birthday venue when I was younger, which had cigarette burns clear through the heavy wool inner walls.

Cities are boring. The West is desolate and kinda scares me a little. I'll take the hidden, quiet settledness of the Southeastern United States.

So ask yourself, for fun, what mysteries surround this bridge that I've provided a picture of?

If you want to write for this blog, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to have you as a guest.

Tune in tomorrow for a picture of...The Tramp.