Wednesday, April 20

Three Word Wednesday

I knead the dough mercilessly, relentlessly.  Father said the work a man does with his hands is what cleanses his soul of sin.  I am generally inclined to disagree with the old man, but he knew his sins, so there must be something to that.

I work the dough until all my sins have passed into it.  Then I shape it into a loaf, placing it in the oven to bake.  Later, I melt some butter to make a glaze; later still I give it to my dinner guests.  They devour it, sin and all, with smiles on their faces.

Warriors of Khor

No update this week, but we will be back next week with a double-sized episode!

Monday, April 18


I have a piece of flash fiction called Car that's been published on the Flashes in the Dark site:

It's a fun little zombie story set in the same city as the novella I'm currently polishing up called Ward Z.  More on that later (I don't like to talk about projects while I'm still working on them. Bad juju.)

Tuesday, April 12

Warriors of Khor part two

Previously, in Warriors of Khor

The next morning, Stuart arrived at work so tired and bleary-eyed that he could barely see. After what he was already calling his “character assassination”, Stuart had tried to log back onto one of the Khor servers, but had had no luck doing so. After that he had spent hours online the night previous, trying to understand what had happened to Graeden, trying to learn what his guild had done to him and his account. He'd gotten nothing.

His only hope now was to contact customer support, something he was loathe to do, as it typically meant spending hours on hold only to get advice from people with less technical skill than he had.
“Hey, Stuart, wait up!” he heard as he walked paat the office's kitchenette. Stuart stopped his beeline towards his office and turned to see his boss, Mr. Daniels.
“Good morning, sir,” he said hesitantly, surprised to see Daniels here so early.
“Stu, did you get a chance to start that research that we were talking about in the meeting yesterday?”
“The research? No, not yet, sir,” Stuart said, completely oblivious to the subject of the research that Daniels was talking about. “Had a bit of a project backlog to get through yesterday. I should be able to get a start on it this morning, though.”
“Good to hear, good to hear,” Daniels said. “This is a big project, Stu, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with.”
“Yes sir. I'll get on it right away,” Stu said, turning to return his walk to his office.
By the time he had reached his office, Stuart had completely forgotten about the research. Instead he was on the phone immediately, dialing the support line for MagiGame Entertainment, the company that produced Warriors of Khor. He immediately found himself on hold.
Stuart realized he would likely be on hold for awhile, so he put the computer on speakerphone, turned on his computer, and closed the door to the office. He opened several files on the computer once the operating system had loaded up; enough to make it appear as though he was hard at work while he waited for the phone.
Half an hour later, someone picked up on the other end of the phone. “Hi, you've reached MagiGame customer support. This is Darcy speaking. How can I help you?” came the voice on the other end, the words stringing together as if they formed one long sentence. Stuart picked up the phone.
“Hi, I'm calling about a problem with my account,” Stuart said, just as there was a knock on his door. Stuart took a quick look at the window next to his door, and saw Shiela, one of the office gophers, waving at him. He waved for her to come in.
“Okay, sir, do you have your account number handy?” Darcy asked.
“Yeah, it's account number 64832G41KT,” Stuart said, reciting the account number from memory.
“Here are the minutes from yesterday's meeting,” Shiela whispered, sliding a single piece of paper onto his desk. Stuart nodded his head in acknowledgement and she left.
“I'm sorry, sir, that account number doesn't appear to be in our database,” Darcy said after a few moments of typing. “Are you sure you have it correct?”
“Yes I'm sure,” Stuart said dismissively.
“Do you have the email address associated with the account?” Darcy asked. “I could always search based on that.”
He gave her his address and she tried again. “I'm sorry, but I'm still not finding it,” she said after another search.
“That's impossible,” Stuart said. “I've been using that account for the past three and a half goddamn years. How can you tell me it's just not there?”
“I'm sorry, but it's just not,” she said again. “I've ran the search twice, both by the account number and email address that you provided, and both came up blank. Are you sure you had an account with us?”
“I'd like to speak to your manager,” Staurt said through gritted teeth.
“Okay, sure thing,” Darcy said. “Just give me a moment, and I'll transfer you to him.”
Stuart spent the next hour on the phone with a Customer Experience Manager, trying to convince the man that he was sure that he had an account through MagiGame. “I've been playing the damn thing every night for the past three years,” he finally said. “It's not like I would have just imagined that!”
“At this point, sir, I'm not sure what more I can tell you,” the CEM told him. “If you'd like, I can set up a new account for you, and we can send you a free demo disc with a thirty day trial version of Warriors of Khor on it, if you'd like?”
“Yeah, sure, why don't you do that?” Stuart said, slamming the phone down on its receiver. The phone hung up, Stuart looked at his clock and realized it was already time for his lunch break. His appetite ruined by the morning's telephone exchange, he decided to go out for a walk to try to work off some of his frustration.
As he circled around his office building, Stuart had a realization. He shouldn't have hung up on the customer service person, because a new account was exactly what he needed. And he knew exactly what he was going to do with it.

Wednesday, April 6

On comments and interaction

I'm absolutely horrible when it comes to commenting on blogs and having discussions on message boards. I often start off well-intended: I read something interesting, and want to respond to it or contribute something to the discussion of it. Then, once I've done so, I close my browser window and I promptly forget about said discussion, sometimes not recalling it until the next time that I'm visiting that person's site. It's a bad habit, I know, and it's happened enough to me that I get hesitant now to comment on blogs at all, knowing that I'll eventually just wander off mid-conversation.

Long story short: THANK YOU to everyone who's been commenting on my stories over the past few weeks as I've been posting them here. Every comment is greatly appreciated, even if I haven't been responding to them individually.

Tuesday, April 5

Warriors of Khor part one

In the interests of trying something new, I'm going to try serializing a short story here.  Episodic storytelling's something that's always appealed to me, as a kid who grew up reading comic books and now as an adult who's developed a love for podiobooks.  It feels like a natural thing to try, but at the same time is something I've never really attempted, so it should make for an interesting experiment.

The story's called "The Warriors of Khor", and is about a MMORPG player named Stuart.  Updates will happen here every Tuesday and will be labeled with the tag Khor.  Hope you enjoy the story as it develops!

Friday, April 1

Friday Flash - April 1, 2011

Friday Flash by Laura Packer

She hated sunny days. Sunny days hurt her back. She shrugged her shoulders, trying to ease the cut of backpack straps. Damn sunny days, making her carry extra supplies every single time.

It all started about 17 months ago. Alright, it started 17 months and two weeks ago, if you want to be precise. She was travelling somewhere, don't you worry about where, suffice it to say it was far away. She was travelling student style, with a little satchel for a few changes of underwear, her notebook and camera. She had the best of everything, just not much of it: one lightweight rainjacket, one pair of excellent walking shoes, one collapsable wide-brlmmed hat and little else. She felt intrepid and bold, never mind that she smelled a bit and neither the locals nor the out-and-out tourists eyes her with distrust. 

She's been out on her own for a few months, sending notes home when she found internet cafes but mostly just "living wild" as she called it. She tried to eat only where the locals ate (okay, so it was sometimes disconcerting seeing something with eyes looking up at her from a bowl of broth), stayed in local guest houses (bedbugs? who cares about bedbugs) and tried to speak the local language. That was where the trouble began.

She was in a little village high in the mountains, walking to the next village, when a sudden storm broke out. One moment the sky was bright and sunny then before she realized what was happening, the rain obscured everything. She was afraid she would step off the cliff. Inch by inch she found her along the muddy path until she came to a divot in the side of the cliff. She huddled, trying to keep the worst of the rain off, while she struggled to pull her highly-compressed rain jacket from her pack. It was then that she realized she wasn't alone. 

A boy sat with his back to the soil wall, his knees pulled up to his chest.

He seemed to be shivering. 

He looked at her, then at the rain and said something in the local language which, truth be told, she didn't understand at all. She stared at him, thinking, "I don't want to deal with this." She felt very far from home, cold and wet. All of a sudden she felt like a foreigner, not an intrepid explorer. She missed being clean and warm and the convenience of easy access to socks, television and language.

He said it again and pointed to her jacket, then to himself.

She looked at him, then at the rain, put on her jacket and walked back out into the storm. She could hear him shouting something as she left.

She walked along briskly, avoiding the biggest puddles.  Sure, she felt bad, the kid was clearly wet and cold, but so was she. Besides, her jacket cost a lot of money, if she gave it to him it would only cause strife in his village, where ever that might be, when all the other kids saw what he had and they could never have. It was like the prime directive in Star Trek, right? And she was going home soon anyway, why risk ruining the rest of her vacation by risking a bad cold or worse?

The farther she walked in the bright, warm day, the better she felt about her decision. It was the ethical thing to not intervene. You help the poor too much and they only become dependent.

Within a few weeks she was home, telling her friends and family about her grand adventures, the people she met, the things she did. And that was when the trouble started. 

If the weather was fine and sunny it would rain when she went out. Once it snowed in July. If it was pouring buckets it seemed as though the rain would stop once she was just far enough away from home that she had to carry her umbrella and rain jacket. It seemed like a joke at first. Soon enough though, her friends would tell her they would meet her somewhere, rather than travel with her. She couldn't go outside with out an umbrella, boots and spare t-shirt, because no matter what she did, the weather was contrary. Worst of all, these freak snow squalls, thunder storms and microbursts were never reported on the news. It was though no one else noticed.

And sunny days were the worst. Because she knew it would always change, that she had to be prepared for every emergency and a few spare pairs of underwear simply wouldn't be enough.

April Fools! The story you just read appears here on my blog as a part of the Great April Fool's Day FridayFlash Blog Swap, organized by Tony Noland. You can find my story for today at Laura Packer's website, To read all the dozens of stories swapping around as a part of the GAFDFFBS, check out the GAFDFFBS index over at Tony's blog Landless. For hundreds of thousands of words of fantastic flash fiction stories, check out the FridayFlash hashtag on Twitter. It happens every Friday!

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