Stories

Concept story – CR1515

I can’t help but jokingly think of this as “Beauty and the Beast with robots”.

This is still massively underdeveloped, of course, but I find it to be a thoroughly fascinating idea.


Aurora’s eyes closed, and for a moment she drifted into sleep before she snapped herself back into consciousness. The horizon was growing lighter, and he still hadn’t appeared. While she was doing her best to maintain the vigil, it was difficult to feel a sense of urgency when the fate of humanity rested on someone who was now hours late.

“He’s not coming,” Talon murmured, closing his hand around Aurora’s. His skin felt burning hot over her cold fingers, so she snuggled up against his side to soak in his warmth.

“He has to,” she replied quietly.

“As soon as the first sun rays appear, we’re out of time.” Talon motioned to the frozen mecha that stood some yards away, still poised in mid-attack. “The artifacts won’t hold it after daybreak.”

“He’ll be here,” Aurora weakly insisted. “He’s the only one who can stop it.”

“We need to leave before we get killed.” Talon stood then pulled on her. “Come on.”

“But what about the artifacts?”

“They’ll probably be destroyed. We’ll have to worry about that later.”

Aurora reluctantly followed Talon, but she couldn’t stop herself from looking back. Recovering the three golden artifacts had been a long and difficult process, and activating them to imprison the mecha had cost them the life of a friend. The thought of being abandoned by CR1515 at the last minute was too much to bear.

“Let’s go find him,” she suggested hopefully.

“If Robot Boy was coming, he would have been here hours ago,” Talon snapped, using the derogatory nickname for CR1515. Even though he was humanity’s protector, there were many people who resented and feared his abilities, and consequently sought to drag him down in petty ways. Despite the intended disrespect, CR1515 had never given any indication of noticing the nickname or the negative attitudes towards him … until his failure to appear that night.

“The Gate isn’t far from here. Let’s just go see if we can contact him, at the very least.” Aurora hated the thought of giving up, and even though she knew her idea sounded silly and irrational, it was far better than doing nothing.

“You go then, if it will make you happy. I need to tell the others what’s happened.” Talon stopped and turned to Aurora, put his arms around her waist, then kissed her lips. “Don’t risk waiting around, though,” he whispered. “If he doesn’t answer in two minutes, get underground.”

“I promise I will.” Aurora closed her eyes as they kissed farewell again, then continued to the Gate alone. She approached the metal door, standing in the middle of an empty lot free from any buildings or walls, and pushed the small button next to it. Silently, she began to count the seconds, feeling the weight of fatigue build with every number.

At 64, the door swung open.

She hesitated, then stepped through.

Aurora was no longer in the empty lot with solid earth beneath her feet. She was inside a large room with windows on every side, looking out at a dark sky that was speckled with innumerable stars, and her breath caught in her throat at the realization that she was no longer on the planet, but far above it in space.

Metallic footsteps came towards her, and she turned to face CR1515. It hurt to find him home, staring at her with his expressionless face, and she couldn’t stop herself from crying out, “How could you?”

He stopped. “Have you never questioned whether or not you are worthy of my help?”

“Aren’t … we?” Aurora was lost for words. The truth was, through all the hard work and sacrifices that they had made to reach their goal, it never once occurred to her to wonder what CR1515 thought of them – she had assumed that he would assist the moment he was needed, because he always had before.

“I have grown tired of humanity. Save yourselves.” He turned to walk away, but Aurora jumped forward and caught hold of his back, pressing herself against him as she begged,

“Please. Please. We’ve done everything we can, but that mecha is … a lot of people will die if you don’t do something right now!”

“No,” came his harsh reply.

“I swear that I’ll do anything you ask, if only you’ll kill that thing!”

“You swear?” CR1515’s metal hands pressed down over her wrists, holding her in place with her arms around him.

“I swear!”

“I want what your species takes for granted.” He thrust Aurora’s arms away from him and once again turned to face her. “I want to touch, and to love.”

She stood, numbed by the words, unable to stop the thought, He’s a robot, from repeating itself over and over in her mind. CR1515 possessed the likeness of a human, but he was undoubtedly made of hard metal. How could he touch?

“Will you be mine?” he asked.

“But …” Aurora’s voice faded.

“Those are my terms. If you won’t accept, then begone.”

“…Yes.” Her lower lip trembled, and she wondered if she should try to take back the word despite having said it.

art

Marking Fabric and Debunking Misinformation

I learned most of what I know about crafting through books that I picked up from thrift stores, usually published in the 70s and 80s. That probably makes me a major weirdo for my age group, but since I was living in a vehicle at the time I started, I didn’t have constant access to a computer or money … so yeah, major weirdo.

In 2017, I bought a book that had been freshly published, mostly out of morbid curiosity, and I found it to be a major disappointment. For starters, the title was grossly misleading. Secondly, the author left out a huge amount of relevant information, but went into an excessive description about how a-may-zing the purple disappearing pens are for marking fabric, followed up with demonizing the blue water-soluble pens as the most useless invention ever.

Everything the author said was accurate enough for where she lived in the deep South, where it’s humid. But where I live in the arid West, it was thoroughly horrible advice. On dry days, I have used the purple pens then watched the marks disappear in a matter of minutes. I only use them when I need to mark something immediately before cutting or sewing it, because the marks aren’t guaranteed to be there ten minutes later. Blue pens are by far the better option for the climate I live in. So far, I haven’t seen any modern creators mention that local weather patterns can have an effect on tools and fabric.

Books from the 70s are a priceless resource for learning how to accurately mark fabrics when neither pen is an option, especially because they don’t assume that you’re too lazy to spend five minutes on doing a good job.

The sewing and embroidery community has since decided that “heat erase” pens are the greatest thing ever, but I strongly recommend against them — on the grounds that they don’t actually erase. It’s color changing technology, and heat makes the ink turn from dark to white. The ink is permanent, you run the risk of bleaching the marks into fabric that isn’t white, and if there’s any chance of the project being exposed to cold (mailing a Christmas gift?), those marks are going to come right back in all their hideous glory and make a bad first impression. So please, save the heat erase pens for design sketches and notes, and don’t use them on your fabric.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the growing popularity of debunking videos. I know that crafting is a little too niche and nowhere near as dramatic as, “THIS WILL EXPLODE ALL OVER YOUR FACE AND KILL YOU!”, so the chances of it getting the same analysis are fairly null. But frankly, it was the misinformation spreading through blogs that killed my interest in using the internet and contemporary books as a learning resource years ago. I still preferentially turn to decades-old books to figure out what the heck I’m doing (and don’t get me started on youtube; slogging through a 20-minute video to get five seconds of clarification is a painful waste of time, and I don’t like your personality enough to want to simply watch you exist).

So, here are my two cents on marking fabric:
Purple air erase pens – good for humid climates
Blue water soluble pens – good for dry climates; rinse thoroughly with cold water before washing with soap to prevent residue
Chalk pencils – good for dark fabrics, may stain pale shades
Heat-erase pens – pls don’t go there

I recommend Sewline products, and heavily use the pens, mechanical pencils, and glue sticks myself.

I can’t help but wonder, are people are ever going to get sick of exploitative clickbait, and cry out to know reality instead? The debunking videos still don’t get anywhere near as much attention as the “hacks” do.

About Writing, The Scion Suit

Hartmann

We’ve finally hit December.

This year has been very draining for a number of reasons. I don’t even want to get into them, because of the overwhelming, “Ugh, just get everything over with already,” feeling that comes with them.

So, along the lines of Things That I’ve Been Thinking About….

Mandatory Exposition: I wrote The Scion Suit in 2019 as a response to a Reddit writing prompt, and it ended up becoming mildly popular, etc. This year, I’ve been working on an expanded version of it.

Given the circumstances of when I originally wrote the story, MSG Hartmann’s character ended up being regretfully underused. I wrote some other thoughts about that. With rewriting and expanding The Scion Suit, I’ve had a lot more time to further develop his character.

At some point during the last several months, I decided that Hartmann coped with the stress of military life through womanizing (specifically PUA), and it’s had a rather interesting effect on his overall characterization.

In 2019, I wrote, “Brooding, he hung around to watch Carol work on his beloved Suit, and his heart stung with jealousy when he saw how tenderly she touched the metal. When she opened it up to wipe down the leather interior, he couldn’t stand it anymore; it was worse than walking in on a spouse in the thralls of another lover.”

But, this new course in characterization has resulted in a fundamental shift.

Instead of feeling possessive ownership over the Suit, Hartmann instead sees himself as The Other, who has no choice but to return the Suit to its loving spouse (Carol) after every excursion. He uses the Suit, but he knows that he doesn’t belong to it — which adds an element of pain to his actions and motivations (and all that jazz).

His development and redemption now involves learning to see himself as a person worthy of an actual relationship and future goals, instead of simply being a military puppet with zero long-term prospects.

But he still has to give up the Suit in the end … because of the aliens… >.<

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Christmas Stockings

You ever have those moments where you type up an introductory paragraph, then decide that it sounds too formulated and generic?

Probably just me.

I’ve been wanting to make personalized Christmas stockings for my babies for *awhile*, but never got around to it. I realized that this is the last Christmas that all of my children are going to have single-digit ages, so I decided that this year is THE year.

And yes, I am aware that I’m not using Christmas-themed fabric.

Highlights include: using batting for the first time ever.

For some weird reason, most people are oblivious to the fact that not all sewing is equal. I specialize in making everyday dresses for women and girls, which has completely different criteria from, say, evening wear or lingerie. I have never done quilting before … and I’m not feeling remotely converted, lol.

Piecing the fabric together is simple enough (with squares, anyway), but OMG THAT BATTING. I purchased the “low loft” stuff, but it still seemed excessively thick, and it wanted to stick instead of letting me position it neatly.

At least I knew enough to use the walking foot that came with my sewing machine, which probably saved me a lot of grief with getting the layers sewn into place. I get the feeling that otherwise the batting would have instantly stretched out of shape, and turned the whole thing into a mess.

Next, the cuff, which is the personalized bit, so no sharing online.

Alice and the Warden, Stories

MatC – Finale (sort of)

I’ve been sitting on this for awhile now.

All I need to do is write up the last few paragraphs, which I have neatly planned out and all that jazz.

But something about it doesn’t feel quite right, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what.

I’ve decided that it’s been long enough that I ought to go ahead and post what I have written, and I apologize that it’s not 100% finished.


Miranda waited outside the prison gates, resting against the hood of her car as she kept a careful eye on the drive between the thick walls and the building kept therein, occasionally fidgeting to check the time on her phone. Her fingers were growing numb in the late Autumn air, and while she considered retreating into her car to keep warm, she knew that she didn’t want to miss the exact moment he appeared.

After ten long years, she was about to be reunited with the man who had both destroyed and saved her life. He had gone into prison every bit a scoundrel, and Miranda hoped against hope that the improvements he had professed to have undergone during their correspondence were genuine. It was easy to keep up a facade in letters, and she didn’t want reality to prove differently.

Two figures appeared, and a relieved smile swept across her face as she recognized the gait of one of them. She stood straighter as they approached, but she didn’t take a step forward until the guard saw the former prisoner and his small box of personal items through the gate to the outside world, then turned to retreat back to his duties.

Damon faced her wordlessly, and they both struggled with how they should greet each other in the moment. He awkwardly put out his hand at the same time that Miranda moved for an embrace, and they laughed nervously then settled on a one-armed hug.

“You sure about this?” he asked, as Miranda motioned for him to get into her car. “It’s not too late to have second thoughts.”

“I’m sure. Just … don’t ever lie to me again, okay?” She folded her arms and bounced lightly on her feet, feeling both antsy and cold. There was a clarity in Damon’s face that hadn’t been there when they had first met a decade ago, and it made her certain that what they had written to each other wasn’t just a fantasy.

Damon looked her up and down, and a mischievous glint entered his eyes. “In that case,” he murmured, pushing Miranda back against he car as he pressed himself against her, gently touching the side of her face as he locked his gaze on hers. “Should we pick up where we left off?”

Miranda wrinkled the bridge of her nose. “With deceit and blackmail? Definitely not!”

“I meant in our letters.” He brushed his lips against hers. “I seem to remember a very sweet confession of love from you, and I want to reciprocate it.”

Her heart quickened and her eyelids fluttered as they deepened the kiss, and his touch felt both new yet familiar. Memories flooded her mind of the nights that they had spent together before his incarceration, back when Miranda had been reluctant to admit how much she loved the way Damon had made her feel alive and feminine while underneath him, and she quivered with emotion as her hands found the nape of Damon’s neck. However, her touch made him flinch, and he took both of her hands into his as he said, “You’re freezing.”

A minute later, Damon’s boxed was neatly in the trunk, and they were both sitting in the car with the engine idling and the heat blasting as Miranda held her hands over the vent to warm up, continually glancing over at Damon to study him. “You’ll like the ranch, I think. It’s good land, and the house is a decent size, too, with a detached garage that you can use as your shop. All we need now are the horses.”

“Sounds good,” he replied simply.

Miranda took a deep breath to work up the nerve, then said, “Let’s get married.”

“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Damon grinned. “You don’t want me down on one knee, after sneaking a diamond ring into your glass of champaign?”

“Don’t you think that we’re a little old for that sort of stuff?” Miranda shook her head with a smile. “We can stop by the courthouse on the way home and get it done today.”

“Sure. No point in waiting any longer than we already have.” He reached over to touch her leg, his fingers absentmindedly stroking the fabric of her pants as he sank into his thoughts. After a minute, he said quietly, “I half expected you to lose interest as soon as I was out.”

Miranda giggled slightly. “I half expected to discover that everything was a lie. We’re a couple of pessimists, aren’t we.”

“Guess so.” Damon chuckled as well. “We’ll suit each other well enough.”

They paused as Miranda popped her car into gear and began driving, then she ventured to ask, “Are you going to reach out to Alicia?”

Damon frowned. “No.”

“Why not?” Miranda asked, surprised.

He looked away. “I … don’t want her to be ashamed to have me as her father. Right now, all I have is my former life and the time I spent in prison, which isn’t anything to brag about.”

Miranda opened her mouth, then thought better of what she had been about to say. Instead, she mused, “I guess a little bit more time won’t hurt,” then glanced over at Damon as she bit her lip. She wanted to argue with him, and tell him that he was being pointlessly insecure about his daughter, but she had grown enough sense to know that she shouldn’t push him during his first hour of freedom. There would be plenty of time for that later. She asked sweetly, “Do you have a recent photo of her?”

“Yeah.” Damon shifted to pull out his wallet, and produced a picture of a 10-year-old girl grinning widely at the camera. “The warden gave it to me this morning.”

“She seems really happy,” Miranda murmured, doing her best to divide her attention between driving and studying the picture. “Spitting image of you, too.”

“Ha. Maybe a little.” Damon smiled warmly at the photo. “Lets get that ranch you wanted up and running first, then we’ll see how it goes.”

“Do you think I can actually do it?” Miranda felt her nerves bubble up as she thought about the plans that she had worked out with Damon over the last few years. “I’m terrified that there’s nothing left of me outside of being a lawyer.”

“I don’t see why not.”

“For starters, there’s not going to be someone announcing whether I won or lost. How am I supposed to know how well everything is going without that?”

Damon patted Miranda’s shoulder, then smiled devilishly. “You’ll just have to go off of how pleased I am with you.”

She felt her cheeks turn warm. “It looks like there’s one part of you that hasn’t changed at all.”

“Don’t think it ever will.”

Miranda smiled as she reached over to take Damon’s hand and give him a squeeze. “It’s a good thing I’m not a pushover; you’re going to have your work cut out for you.” She laughed. “All right, we’re here. Let’s get married before either one of us has second thoughts.”

After a short ceremony and several signatures, they were back out on the road, silent as they drove towards the outskirts of town, each deep in their own thoughts.

About Me

In many ways, social distancing was like a dark burden had been lifted from my life. Now that expectations have shifted back to the way they were before, I’m left feeling … angry.

I like celebrating Thanksgiving at home. I like spending three days in the kitchen, cooking and baking my way to the grand finale of basting a turkey in glorious amounts of butter. It’s exhausting, but worth it.

Yet I also feel guilty.

I spent a few days debating with myself over whether I should try to concoct an excuse, or just flatly say no.

I don’t want to spend my holiday nibbling on bland artificial food while listening to so-and-so ramble about her fake fingernails. I don’t belong, and most of them act like I don’t exist.

I want homemade pumpkin pie and fresh rolls hot from the oven. I want music and laughter. I want to enjoy myself and have fun.

I shouldn’t feel like I’m doing something wrong.

About Me

On Schools

I came across this video, and decided to go ahead and share it.

The gist is that teenagers naturally have a later sleep-wake cycle, and the fact that many high schools start before 8am is damaging their brain development.

This is not new information — we talked about this when I was in high school back in the 2000’s, and the teachers were very aware that our 7:30am start time was bad for everyone. My school even experimented with implementing periodic late-start days, to see how it could address the problem. But you know how it is with bureaucracy: twenty years later, nothing has changed.

I don’t talk much about homeschooling my kids, but this is one of the reasons why I went with that option; I still have a naturally late circadian rhythm, and getting up early every morning to get the kids ready and off to school would kill me. In the vein of “been there, done that,” I know that it would very quickly reduce me down to a depressed, horrible mess that bursts into tears every time the alarm goes off. I am not a morning person.

Because my husband is also a night owl, I’m expecting our children to turn out much the same. With homeschooling, everyone can wake up naturally without relying on alarm clocks, and we’re free to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we get started on the day.

I’m very much of the opinion that the modern lifestyle is incompatible with how our brains and bodies evolved to function — and that’s why society has growing rates of emotional disorders and health problems. I love my children as the vibrant and vivacious individuals that they are, and I could never make them sit in a classroom all day while they are subjected to a “one size fits all” approach to education.

We were meant to move and use our bodies, and to follow our unique passions and curiosities.

About Me

Romance

This month, my husband and I celebrate 12 years together.

It was one of those “love-at-first-sight” whirlwind romances that everyone insists is unrealistic and guaranteed to fail. Yet here we still are, and there’s no one else I’d rather go through the fall of civilization with. 😉

So…

Don’t let the critics and naysayers stop you from making your own destiny.