Thursday, November 28, 2019

Little Caesars Ghost In Audio

New story by me up on the Dunesteef podcast. Check it out and let me know what you thought and what I could do to improve as a writer. I've been writing (mostly) every day for the last month, and I am eager to continue to improve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Oh, and just a suggestion, don't overdo it too much. You don't want to end up like me. This memory came up on Facebook for me the other day, and I looked at it and thought:

Oh, and if you wound up with diabetes like me, get on the either the Ketogenic Diet or better yet the Carnivore Diet, and turn your health back around.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

TGMG About...Books?

The newest episode of That Gets My Goat just hit the airwaves, and by airwaves I mean the internet where you can download and play the file yourself because TGMG will never be on any airwaves. It's an old one that Rish and I recorded way back before I moved to Texas. Check it out if you're masochistic. I'll just say there's a reason we didn't use it originally. Sorry about the poor audio quality and also the sort of boring subject matter.

Week 26

Little late with this update, sorry, but better late than never. Here's how week 26 went:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Week 25

Did this week go better than week 24 did? Check out the video and see.

Christmas Story Prompt

Hey, folks, Rish and I have a request for you. Each year, the two of us have been trying to write Christmas related stories during the month of December. Our stories that we wrote last year will be appearing this December as our holiday episodes of the show.

December is fast approaching, and we thought it would be fun to ask our listeners for a writing prompt for our stories this year. So, if you're interested, toss us an idea, and we'll look at them all and pick one to base our stories on. Make it simple and open-ended, something that could be taken anywhere. Like our prompts from our old Broken Mirror Story Evens.

We'd really love to see what you've got!

You'll Like This One, Char

New episode of The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, folks! Rish Outfield is coming at you with another one of his joints. Check it out and enjoy a fun tale.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Week 24

Sorry this is so late. It's already time for next week's update, but here's last week's update. Here's how I did.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Active Shooter Drill

Here's the new story that I finished in October after I started doing my writing every day goal and trying to get to 300,000 words goal for this year. If you got a minute or two, go ahead and read it over. And feel free to give me any constructive criticism you want in the comments. Eventually, you'll hear a reading of the story on The Dunesteef or The Anklecast. Also, I'm going to try to start publishing stuff onto Amazon and Audible, so you'll be able to get it there too someday.

Active Shooter Training

Justin leaped from his Prius and hustled into the office. As he was stuffing his lunchbag back into his briefcase--he’d dipped into it on the drive for a packet of Oreos--he remembered that his son, who loved Oreos too, had his birthday coming up next week. If he didn’t get him a present and get it in the mail by tomorrow or the next day, it wouldn’t arrive until after the big day. He crushed the two halves of the briefcase together, probably transforming his sandwich into a pancake in the process, and snapped the clasps down. He shoved the briefcase under his arm, pulled his phone out of his pocket, and brought it to his mouth, holding the home button down until Siri started listening in.

“Set an alarm for 7:00 o’clock called remember to get a present for Gerrit,” he said. 

The phone beeped, and responded in the affirmative. The alarm should sound on his way home tonight, and he could go by Walmart and pick out a toy that Gerrit might like. Sadly, since he hadn’t seen Gerrit since Christmas, he really had no idea what would make him happy. It was a shot in the dark. Hopefully something would jump out at him on the toy aisle.

He arrived at the building entrance, but his distraction with the phone left him unprepared. He needed his keycard to get in, which was still in his wallet in his jacket pocket. Justin fumbled around, shifting his phone back to his left pants pocket, his briefcase to his left hand, and excavated the keycard from his jacket pocket and swiped it across the reader. It took three swipes, but at last the green light flashed, and the door lock clicked.

On days like this, it made him miss the good old days when he could just open the door and walk in without having to pass through a metal detector, an FBI background check, and an extra-terrestrial administered anal probe just to enter the building, but things had changed since he’d started working here twenty-one years ago, and it didn’t look like it was ever going to change back.

He arrived at his cubicle, dropped his shabby old briefcase on his desk, and turned on his computer. As soon as the boot up sequence finished, a notification beeped to remind him that he hadn’t yet finished the required company-wide active shooter training. It was due today. Another sign of how things had changed. He didn’t want to do it. It would be one of those horrible soulless online interactive presentations that always takes an hour longer than it reasonably should. He had too much to do to fit this frustration into his day as well. That was why he was still on the naughty non-compliant list.

“Hey, Justin, here’s your ship list,” said a sullen voice from behind him. Justin spun in his chair to see Zack standing there, dressed head to toe in black, glaring balefully at him.

“Oh, thanks, Zack. I guess I’m going to have to do my job after all today. Still got to find time to fit in the training too. Did you do that already?”

Zack didn’t smile, or frown, or show any sign of human emotion. “No, I haven’t” he replied.

“Uh oh. I guess today’s the last day to do it, so you better get on it. I think they take everyone on the non-compliant list and hang them by their toenails in the main lobby as punishment,” Justin said, laughing heartily at his own joke.

“I believe it,” Zack said in an unnerving monotone, “but I don’t care. I’m not going to do it.” He turned, rather robotically, and walked down the aisle of cubicles to deliver the ship list to Miley.

“Alright,” Justin said, “I hope you don’t like your toenails.”

Justin sighed, Zack used to be a much more pleasant guy back before he went all goth or emo or whatever they were calling it these days, before he started wearing all black and dying his hair black too. Was it because he started listening to heavy metal? Did he start doing drugs--meth or heroin or something? Did he go through some sort of nasty divorce and lose his purpose for living? Justin had dealt with exactly that, and he hadn’t turned into a monotone goth robot because of it.

It was a shame, though. Zack had seemed like a pretty cool guy that Justin might even be able to have a good time with going out to get some drinks after work and watch the Texans or the Rockets. Justin had needed a friend after the divorce, but Zack turned out not to be that. Instead he turned weird. The only things he wanted to talk about were horror movies, witches, urban legends like slenderman, and other occult stuff. It was creepy. Justin just wasn’t into it, and had to go elsewhere for friends. Sadly, elsewhere turned out to be nowhere. Justin still spent nights at home watching the Texans or the Rockets alone. He just didn’t have a knack for making friends anymore now that he was older.

He sighed and took a look at his ship list. He’d better get to work if he was going to fit in the training session today without staying late.

The active shooter training turned out to be a little bit interesting in the end. It wasn’t nearly as onerous as the conflicts of interest training he’d had to do last month or the ethics training from three months ago.Those had been so tedious that he would have gladly paid someone else to take the training in his place. The stuff they taught in the active shooter training was actually compelling. 

They talked about how important it was to have situational awareness wherever you go, knowing where the exits are, and paying attention enough to recognize gunshots or screaming--no headphones or other distractions. The part that Justin liked most was what they called the active shooter triage. Three things that you should do in your survival strategy--run, hide, and, if there is no other option, fight. 

First thing to save your ass to get the hell out of there if you can. Know where the exits are, not just the one you usually come in, but the back door and side doors too. Don’t stop to gather up your purse. Help others to escape if you can, but don’t put yourself in danger if they refuse your help, and warn anyone you can on your way out.

If you can’t get out, hide somewhere that they shooter won’t find you. Close doors, and curtains or blinds to windows. Lock the door, because most likely the shooter will pass you by in search of the quickest and highest body count. Spread out as much as you can, don’t give the shooter a bunch of fish in a barrell.

Then, if none of that works and you have no other option, fight. Don’t hesitate and give the shooter time to react. Charge him, he won’t expect that at all. Those assholes think that everyone will cower in the face of a gun, and will likely not react fast enough to being attacked. Grab some kind of a weapon, doesn’t matter what, a stapler would be better than an empty hand. Get a group together if you can and come at the shooter from different angles. And be prepared to deliver debilitating and even deadly force. This is life or death here.

Something about the training actually made Justin feel comfort. There have been so many shootings splashed all over the news with breathless, gratuitous detail, and Justin found that the coverage mostly served to make people...okay, to make himself feel helpless and vulnerable. 

He had often thought about what he would do if he found himself in a similar situation. Would he be like the deputy in Parkland who stayed outside the school in a position of safety while the shooter massacred students unchecked or would he have the courage of Thomas Burnett Jr. and Todd Beamer and the other passengers on flight 93 that fought the 9-11 hijackers and prevented their plane from killing anymore innocent people?

He hoped the latter, but up until going through this training, he never felt like he had the necessary gumption to perform in that kind of a situation. Instead, he imagined himself dissolving into tears and begging for his life if ever faced with a dangerous situation. Maybe not. Maybe this was what he needed to beat the odds.

Justin made it to the final section of the training, where they lobbed several softball questions at him about what he learned from the program. He answered them easily, hit enter, and the screen changed to his certificate of completion. More importantly, it also delivered the message that his fulfillment of the task had been communicated to Jose in HR. He was officially off the hook, and on cue, here was Zack with his afternoon ship list.

“Just finished the training, Zack. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was actually kind of cool,” Justin said. “Did you do it? Or are you still protesting?”

“I don’t fucking care about any goddamn training,” he replied.

“Wow. Okay, well, don’t hold back man, tell me how you really feel,” Justin said with a chuckle.

Zack smiled along. Justin was surprised. He hadn’t seen a smile out of Zack for months, maybe a full year, not since he went emo.

“You know, Justin, I’ve always liked you,” Zack said.

“Oh, thanks,” Justin replied, surprised at this reaction.

“You ought to take off and go home, man. Fuck your afternoon list. You deserve a break,” Zack said.

Justin chuckled at the thought. “I wish,” he said, “doesn’t matter that I’ve been here for years, they’d can my butt in seconds flat.”

“Well, sorry then, Justin. But I’ve always liked you.” Zack walked away, and Justin watched his back, shaking his head as he went. That was weird. He just couldn’t get a read on Zack anymore.

He put it out of his mind. He grabbed his ship list and the phone, and got back to work.It was a slog, and he rushed through it as fast as he could. He had just crossed the second to last name off his list, and was picking up his phone to call the last name when he heard a strange sound from the direction of the lobby. It sounded like a hiss of steam combined with the screech of a bird and a diamondback’s rattle, but not an actual snake’s warning signal, more like the one that you hear on heavy metal band’s songs. Justin thought they probably used some kind of a manmade rattle for that. Justin had absolutely no idea what could possibly have made that sound, but it had been really loud.

He hung the phone back up without dialing, dropped his ship list on the desk, and stood up to peer over the rim of his cubicle. Out near the lobby, there was a large cloud of hazy smoke boiling into the office. Had some sort of fire started out there? He suddenly realized that he hadn’t taken that active shooter training to heart after all. The company had moved to a new building two years ago, and he had no idea if there was any exit from the building in the opposite direction from the lobby. If he had to run from a fire, he didn’t know how to get out.

As he stood there, prairie-dogging it from his cubicle, unsure of what he ought to do next, his phone’s alarm began pumping out cheerful marimba tones. At the same time, Zack dashed into the main office from the lobby cackling madly and wearing something completely different than he’d had on when he dropped off Justin’s afternoon ship list. It looked like a wizard’s robe. It was long and flowing, with wide sleeves and a deep hood. 

The hood slipped off Zack head as he dashed in, and that was the only way that Justin even recognized that it was him. The robe was a deep crimson color, and symbols adorned all of the hems of the outfit. If only Zack had a long beard, Justin would call him Gandalf the Red. Except Gandalf hadn’t been red, had he? Justin couldn’t remember. He hadn’t seen The Lord of the Rings since the theater. Zack also looked a lot like a druid or something like that. He would have fit in dancing around Stonehenge in the moonlight. He did not fit in at the office, however.

The jaunty marimba flowing from his phone was drowned out by a very loud bang from the lobby. Justin flinched, reflexively ducking, then ducking again when another bang rang through the building. Holy shit, it was actually happening. This was a shooter. A shooter at his workplace. The thing he’d been led to fear all these years had actually arrived, and on the very day he was trained to deal with it. 

John quickly ran through what he was supposed to do to protect himself and survive the ordeal. Run, hide, and if unavoidable, fight. Should he run? That tactic would not be helpful since the only exits he’d ever used here in the new building were the lobby doors. He’d have to run right past the shooter to get out. But he hadn’t seen the shooter yet, which meant that the shooter had also not seen him. He could easily get down behind the walls of his cubicle, slip under his desk, pull the chair in, and transform the place into an empty, and uninteresting target for any killer, one that he would walk right past in search of victims to claim.

He settled on that decision, and turned to pull his chair out of the kneehole of his desk, removing his phone from his pocket to shut off the incessantly blatting marimba alarm, when the shooter made his appearance in the archway leading in from the lobby. It wasn’t a shooter at all. It was some kind of nightmare.

It didn’t quite fit under the archway, which was a good twenty feet tall, it bent down and squeezed its way through. It was a massive, red...demon, Jusin guessed. It had to be a demon. Demons weren’t real, but he was looking at one right now anyway. After stuffing its body through the arch, it stood up to its full height, towering over all the employees in the trendy, high-ceiling room. When it rose to its full height, it roared, and further intimidated every witness by unfurling its massive bat-like wings. From its forehead, massive black striated horns rose up to scratch against the ceiling. Its red, heavily-muscled body was also partially covered in thick black shaggy hair. Its arms ended in sharp looking claws, but its legs ended in hooves. Steam, or maybe it was smoke, rose from its skin like the heat of its frame was igniting the very humidity in the air.

Zack ran over to the demon’s feet and shouted up to it, “Come my dark lord, feast upon these benighted creatures. They are sheep for your slaughter.”

Shit, Justin thought, that’s why Zack had changed so much. He hadn’t just gotten into heavy metal or anime or something like that. He had gone full on occultist. He was into dark magic and obviously summoning demons. Justin wished he had taken his advice and beat it early instead of staying to finish his workload. It wasn’t just an idle suggestion, it turned out, he had been warning Justin that he was planning something, and that he should be gone when it all came down.

The demon’s hideous gaze passed over the room, filled quivering people that were surely shitting themselves just like Justin was. Then its eyes settled on him, and its mouth split open in a hideous grin to reveal two rows of savage-looking slavering fangs. Justin realized that his phone was still playing its marimba alarm, and the sound had drawn the attention of the creature. He looked down at the phone, remember to get a present for Gerrit it said on the screen. Justin turned off the alarm. He hoped Gerrit could still have a happy birthday without a present from his dad, because Justin was pretty sure he wasn’t going to make it to the store today, or ever again.

The End

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Writers Write Every Day

It's been a pretty long time that I've been saying that I want to be a writer. For a long time, I've also quoted Stephen King as having said, "A writer is someone who writes every day," although more than likely I've actually been paraphrasing Stephen King. I don't even remember where that came from anymore, though my guess is his book, On Writing.

Over the years, I've made a few pushes toward becoming a writer. When I turned forty, five years ago, I made a goal to do the required stuff to become a full-time writer by age 45. I did a whole bunch of Anklecasts that talked about my progress...until they just petered out...along with any progress I'd made.

There were a few times where I made some real gains though. Like in 2017, when both Rish and I started writing every day together. I wrote my first novel during that. The first novel in a trilogy that I need to finish. And just this year, Rish convinced me to write every day in April which carried through, with less enthusiasm, in May, then petered out in June.

A week or so ago, I turned 45. That was when my goal was supposed to have come to fruition. Five years ago, I made the goal to be a full-time writer by now, but then gave up on the goal halfway through. Funny thing is, back when I made that goal it was because I had been telling Rish about how I'd originally made a goal to be a full-time writer by age 35. He said, "Just change it to when you're 45, and start working toward that." So, I did...for a little while anyway.

But now, here we are, and I'm 45, and I feel like quite the loser for having given up, gotten sidetracked, gotten distracted, gotten depressed, and so on. But, like Rish encouraged last time, I can just change the goal, and work toward it with renewed effort.

If I want to be a writer, I need to write every day. I've done it on occasions, but not managed to keep it up. I'm going to change that this year. I'm going to turn myself into a person who has a habit of writing every day.

How? Well, my goal this year is going to be two pronged. First of all, I will write every day...or as close to that as I can possibly manage. Second, though, will be a word count goal for the year. That way, I will need to keep going even if I fall on my face. And the goal is for the whole year, not just a month or anything less impressive, but a year. That is just year one, but I'm going to worry about year two later.

For the word count goal, I tried to figure out what would be a reasonable goal. On the months that I was writing every day back in 2017, I was able to get in around 30,000 words a month. So, times that by twelve gets my 360,00. Then, just in case I have slower months, which I'm sure that I will, I knocked 60,000 off to make it an even 300,000 for the year.

So, that's my goal for the year. Write every day, and write 300,000 words on the year. I've already started writing...I haven't been perfect, missed a couple of days, but I'm getting there. Getting used to it. As of today, I've written 5,764 words. 2,764 of that was a complete flash fiction story. I think I'll share that with you in my next post. You can read it if you like, though I'll get it on the Dunesteef or the Anklecast eventually too.

So, I'll keep giving you updates as the year goes along. Keep checking back to find out, and if you send encouragement my way, I certainly won't complain.

Cheat Day

It's been more than five months that I've been eating a strict carnivore diet amplified with alternate day fasting to try to lose weight. In that time, I've lost a full seventy pounds, which is pretty darn cool, but everybody wants a cheat day every now and then, right? Even the strictest people have to unbutton that top button, loosen the tie and take a little time to have a break and let their hair down, right?

So, I decided I would have a cheat day. I thought it would be fun to have some pizza, because that was always one of my favorite things before I started into the diet.

I didn't want to overdo it though. I didn't want to destroy all my progress that I've made in all this time. I've done that before, after all.

So, I decided I would just get one pizza, and eat that and no more.

Here's a picture of me and my one pizza:

All right, I'm just kidding. I didn't have a cheat day. I didn't eat even one slice of that pizza. I saw this thing at work, and it was so comically large that I had to take a picture with it.

This is the kind of thing I'm up against trying to lose weight in modern America. You all know it just as well. The food industry doesn't want any of us to stop. They want us to eat bigger and more all the time. That's why a box like this even exists. And when it makes you sick and puts you in the hospital, all the better, because then they can sell you pills and surgeries. It's a pipeline flowing straight out of your wallet into theirs.

Don't stand for it. Shut down that pipeline. Eat fat. Eat protein. Stay full. Stay thin. Stay healthy. Stay out of the health care sector. Again I say, eat fat. Eat protein. It will change your life for the better in so many ways. Don't be fooled by the propaganda that the government and big businesses have been putting out for the last fifty years about how fat is bad for you. It's not bad for you, it's bad for them, because it shuts down the wallet to wallet pipeline.

Go forth, and save...your money and your life.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Week 23

Alright, I made it through week 23. It was One Meal A Day this time, did I make it through to the end? Did it do me any good? Check it out and see.