Finally, I’m writing something in my Blarg again. It’s been a while, and despite not posting to this blog, I am working on some of my own projects, so there’s still fodder and it’s still a-comin’. This post is brought to you by Zoundary, a nice FREE desktop blog editing/writing software that I found online. It sure as hell beats the WordPress editor. I like WordPress, because I like having my blog on my own domain, but the web interface to edit isn’t that great — as I’ve learned with most web interfaces. Not all of the wonders of the web 2.0 world can really replace a decent word editor that doesn’t rely on an asynchronous callback to determine when and if it gets updated — nice to use in a pinch, but since I do my blogging at home and in the wee hours of the night, this is much better. BTW, if you use other blogging software, I think Zoundary can work with it. Give it a shot!
Speaking of projects that I’m working on…I’ve been slowly getting back to writing. So the winds seem to be shifting again. A month ago it was about messing with XNA and building a raytracer. I’ve since stopped working on perfecting my raytracer, because I could simply be doing that day-in and -out forever. It’s quite an obsession once you can get it going and have the pieces working right. I’m still messing with XNA here and there, now and then, and maybe you’ll see something on that front soon enough.
In the meantime, my friend, Mike Brinker, and myself started doing some exercises out of a book called The 3 A.M. Epiphany. It’s written by Brian Kiteley and it’s a book of 200 writing exercises. So far I like it. I have a bunch of other “how to write” books that go over the basics of forming character, plot, setting, etc., but this book takes all those things into account and asks you to challenge yourself with one of its 200 prompts. Why do this? Well, my ulterior motive is to write some short stories and eventually a novel and get it published, so it helps on that end. Brinker and myself are also big fans of games like Bioshock, Half Life, and the ilk…games that have decent stories. If Ken Levine can pull Bioshock out of Atlas Shrugged’s ass and place the bar for story telling on a higher peg, then…I suppose that means there’s some hope left and it’s time to move beyond aliens, Nazis, and zombies and strive for something deeper and more interesting. Of course, games should still be fun, I wouldn’t want to sacrafice that.
This exercise is from the 3 A.M. Epiphany. It’s exercise #6, which is “The Royal We.” See if you can figure out how the narration working, and if you do, tell me. Enjoy!
“The Royal We” Exercise
We were both in the cockpit of the shuttle as it careened through Earth’s atmosphere, plunging towards the Indian Ocean at a rate that would kill both of us and tear the ship to pieces. Amanda pushed the dead pilot aside and took the flight stick and pulled back with all her trembling might. Amanda thinks that things in the real world work like things in television shows and movies.
Amanda called out, “Help me, dammit!” We couldn’t hear one another.
Jun took her time getting into the co-pilot’s chair and both of us tried to pull back on the sticks. We could hear the metal skin of the wings screeching and whining as we prodded them to turn this bird away from the water. We weren’t going to make it, but we had to try. Amanda continued to wrangle the controls in a futile attempt to make the machine acknowledge her presence. Jun left the controls alone and studied the heads-up display intently looking for something, some bit of information that would help us out of our stalled dive. We didn’t know anything about space planes — it was really just Amanda who didn’t know anything about space planes — let alone regular airplanes.
Amanda let up on the yoke, her breathing slowed, and she became much more calm. The floor rattled and shook as the bolts of the plane were coming undone. We were done for, that’s for sure. The blue of the ocean was now filling everything. Amanda closed her eyes. Jun placed her hands on the control yoke. Amanda’s lips were moving saying something that we couldn’t hear — the engine was roaring behind us. It was impossible to hear anything.
I turned the engines off. Amanda’s voice carried a prayer, a useless cry for help to a diety that won’t respond. Why didn’t we have a 100% chance to live, because one of us was busy chanting, wishing for a miracle that would never come. There are no such things as miracles, just us — we have to help one another or there is no chance we could ever survive. Jun (thank god) saw the controls for the manuvering thrusters and she turned the forward thrusters on. Amanda latched onto the flight yoke again and pulled it back with all her might. The plane lurched, the nose pointing up towards the cloudy sky — it must have been the moonson season. We were both weightless slipping out of our chairs.
Jun fired the dorsal thursters and we leveled off again and then she was able to ignite all of them. This was the miracle that Amanda was looking for with her quiet wish. The rockets broke our freefall. Amanda kept us steady despite not knowing a thing about how a plane flies. Amanda adapts and learns quickly — it’s amazing how she can put two and two together so fast. Just by looking at Amanda one wouldn’t expect that from such a young and waifish looking thing with blonde hair and dull brown eyes. We mastered the controls. It felt as if we were floating like a feather towards the blue ocean.
We crashed into the water, but the ship floated. Thank Heavens! Jun turned her eyes to Amanda and neither of us said anything. Amanda was trembling, but now that we were in control of the situation again, I could see the tension easing in her face.
Our silence was broken with crash after crash of waves and the sound of water leaking through the bulk head. Both of us left our seats. Amanda went straight for the door trying to open it. Jun snatched Amanda’s hand and pulled her away, throwing her backwards almost. She pressed herself to the door, her ear against it listening to the water pouring into the passenger compartment.
The sound of water was all encompassing. It was sloshing about outside the cockpit and hammering against the windows. Every particle of water raged and howled for our bodies. We weren’t welcome in this untamable, relentlessly violent world. We were alien and needed to be consumed, dragged into the depths of the ocean to be digested by the Earth itself. Water blocked the door between the cockpit and the rest of the plane. It too was being slowly devoured for trespassing.
Amanda sprung into action like a violent twister. Instead of whispering meaningless prayers, she flung cabinet doors open around the cockpit and yanking the contents out, rifled through them with her hands, and flinging them aside. Food packages, bags of water, extra oxygen tanks, a fire extinguisher, a hand taser, flashlights, flares, radio beacons, PDAs, a geiger counter, a small radio transmitter, and finally a flotation device.
One for us.
We were almost tilted a full 90 degrees and were lying against the wall with the door. The water crashed and pressed against it, frothing and bubbling through the cracks. The sky was right above us. Amanda stood on the wall Jun laid against to brace the door and hold back the horde of water pounding and pressing against the other side. Amanda cried out, “There has to be another one!” Her nimble hands tossed and threw things from the cabinets in every direction, but there wasn’t one. “Think! How do we get out of here?” Amanda asked Jun. “Do something!”
The door was giving way. Even if both of us could press against that door the weight of the water would have still muscled its way through. Jun gave it up, she sat up in the growing puddle of water. Silently, Jun surveyed the mess Amanda made, found the fire extinguisher tossed aside. Jun took it and clambered up the wall of the cockpit and pulled herself onto the co-pilot’s chair. She stood on the chair’s back support cushion, her fingertips gingerly pressed to the glass windsheild. Jun’s eyes fell on Amanda. Amanda knew right away what Jun meant to do, and that Jun did not want or need the life vest. Amanda put the vest over her shoulders and tied the ends together as tight as possible, but did not inflate the vest yet. Amanda braced herself against the wall with the cockpit door — the water was now well enough to cover her amost completely if she laid down — and Amanda held onto the latch keeping the water flow at a steady infux.
Jun slammed the butt of the fire extinguisher against the windshield. A spot of crackled glass formed. Amanda shielded her eyes. Jun cracked the glass again with the extinguisher. Tendrils of breaking glass creaked and the spot of shattered but stuck glass, grew larger. Jun glanced towards Amanda to avoid getting glass in her eyes. Jun shut them and with all her strength she slammed the windshield again. The red cylinder broke through and water lapped at the edges and spilled into the cockpit from above first in a trickle then like a small waterfall. Amanda took that as her cue to open the door keeping the water at bay. They were surrounded in water — falling water, rising water.
Jun held tight to the co-pilot’s chair. The rush of water pushed Amanda upwards, and we met face to face. Jun touched Amanda’s face, almost like a caress. Jun helped Amanda through the windshield first, careful not to cut the life vest, and as she stood above the plane, Jun let go of her hand.
Amanda was free of the plane. Jun looked up at Amanda. “Hey!” Amanda called. Jun wasn’t moving, she wasn’t trying to climb out of the hole she has made. Jun just waited on the co-pilot’s chair. It seemed that Jun had even closed her eyes and let the water consume her. Jun always had a death wish, it was the look in her eyes, the quiet look of someone who had long given up on living. But, why? We are so different in this regard.
But, we are going to escape this plane together. We are going to swim this entire ocean and get back to land. Amanda dived into the water, she reached into the hole and pulled Jun through. On the ocean surface, Amanda inflated the life vest. The waves pushed us around. It was unable to swallow us, and now the energy of the waves meant to push us out of the body of water trying to remove a foreign object from its clean and brilliant self.
Amanda tried to swim but soon grew tired. It was the best decision to give Amanda the life vest.
Amanda wanted to live after all, and that meant my chance of living was that much better because of her. That meant it would be alright, because of her will. Her strength defies her body — any man looking at Amanda would accuse of her being weak, but her will supercedes her true nature. We would be alright.
We were both sure that we would be alright.