Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tis the season of giving, I brought you some words... Despite the Darkness #2

I'm feeling generous I guess. Here is the next bit of the story I'm working on. Please comment and share. I dedicate this section to the WB7EPL, WB7DSA, WB7BAC, and family vacations; without which I would probably not feel such childish wonder along Highway 20 as I do every time I pass over it.

Despite the Darkness

The drive was done in the relative silence of a car traveling at high speeds on the highway with Oldies playing over the stereo and the people inside not talking to each other. The snow was growing thicker on the ground as they moved further into the hills. The landscape changed suddenly when they turned a corner; what were once gently sloped hills turned into a steep sloped ravine blanketed in deep white. The road was clear of traffic in both directions, so they were the only ones traveling up into the mountains in the slush.

“We should have taken Highway 2.”

“This is a straight shot to Mom’s.”

“It’s going to be closed.”

“There aren’t any signs and I checked the DOT hotline before we left.”

“Uh huh.”

He sulked in the driver’s seat while Jan sulked in the passenger’s. The Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations came to a climax and the DJ cut to the local news.

“A string of disappearances in the North Cascades have authorities baffled; Skagit Sherriff’s Deputy Malcom Mead and a Forestry Ranger Amanda Muir didn’t come home two nights ago from their patrols along Highway 20, leaving no clues as to their whereabouts. Listeners are encouraged to call the Skagit County Sherriff’s Office with any information on their disappearance. Meanwhile, the Seattle Police Dep…”
He turned the radio off with a stab of his finger, ignoring the look from his wife. Snowflakes began to fall in earnest; big, wet ones that started to cover the whole road and the windshield.

“We’ll make it,” he said as much to himself as to his wife. The wipers were turned from intermediate to full shortly after. The sun was now set and visibility was cut down by the heavy snowfall.

They had passed the Ross Lake Dam and were almost to Washington Pass when even Isaiah way in the back could see the amber lights flashing ahead. He gripped the steering wheel, girding himself for the inevitable “I told you so.”

“Huh.” There it was.

He slowed down as the scene became clearer - a huge excavator was desperately fighting a shifting, sliding section of hillside that had come down onto the road. Boulders and huge evergreen trees were mixed with mud and snow to cover the whole road. A police car’s lights, parked back from the accident, came on as further reminder that the van should stop.

The Sherriff’s Deputy reluctantly got out of his warm vehicle to personally stop the van’s forward progress.

“Did you miss the road closed sign?”

“Didn’t see one and I checked before we left.”

The deputy sighed. “They said they had it up and would announce it on the radio…“ He shook his head like a man shakes out cobwebs, “Not your problem. This slide’s going to close the pass at least until morning; you folks will need to turn around.”

“We need to eat Steve.” It was less a comment and more a command.

“You passed a little town a few miles back, it’s a company town, but they have a bar and some cabins you can rent if you’d rather stay the night.”

“Canyon Creek?”

“Yeah, they don’t get many visitors.” The deputy smiled crookedly.

“Thank you, we’ll head there.”

“Drive safe.”

The window went back up and the van turned around.

“We should go home and go Highway 2 in the morning.”

“You wanted to eat.”

“Not at some bar!”

“Where are we supposed to go Jan? You’re the one who’s hungry.”

“Dad, I think we should go to Canyon Creek.” Isaiah’s small voice from the back stopped his mother’s retort.

“Honey, we can make it down to a nicer place in just a little bit, o.k.?” She projected back to her son in that pleasant compromising voice, that really meant no compromise.

“No… we won’t.” Isaiah’s voice drifted off and he looked out into the dark woods that were passing by.

“I need to at least stretch my legs and go to the bathroom.”


Questions? Comments? Bribes?

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A sprig of writing to keep you warm... Despite the Darkness #1

In keeping with my extremely flaky posting schedule I'm sharing the beginning of the story I'm working on. Despite the Darkness is my attempt at a Horror/Thriller which I've never done before. Its another story I have bits and pieces of in my head and thankfully my wife is kicking me out of the house once a week to help spur on my writing. I probably won't serialize it, but if you like it let me know and I might post more... maybe. 

Despite the Darkness

   The razor blade hovered just over skin, the blood just beginning to well up, the arm frozen for a moment, eyes locked on the dark red slowly running down his cheek.
  “We’re ready to go.”
  He didn’t move and the blood dripped onto his undershirt. She sighed and groaned in equal measure.
  “You’ll have to change. We’re going to be late.”
  “I’ll be just a minute.”
  She left, mumbling about taking care of things the night before. He staunched the bleeding with a piece of toilet paper and closed his eyes to avoid looking at the blood-shot eyes that looked back too closely. In his mind he saw a flash and heard the scream. He gripped the counter as it grew in intensity, his breathing becoming labored.
  Light crept in from the edges and breath slowly came more normally.
  “Yes, Isaiah,” he asked through gritted teeth.
  “I love you.”
  Eyes opened and those accusing eyes looked back despite the brightness of the vanity lights.
  “I’ll see you in the car.”
  “See you in the car, son.”
  He finished shaving, cutting himself twice more, but somehow persevering to the end. He’d missed several spots, his skin was raw, and the clean shave only accentuated the other disheveled aspects of his appearance. He rolled on his deodorant, brushed his teeth, and then went into the bedroom. His bag sat empty on the bed, a pile of clothes beside it. He tossed in underwear, tee-shirts, jeans, socks, a fleece, jacket, and his a dog eared book he’d been nursing for a good three months. Stopping just before he zipped up the bag his hand shook. The case on the top shelf in the closet beckoned to him… like it had the whole night and the long nights before.
  Jan hated that it was in the house and now its contents were in his hand before he realized he’d moved to pull it down and open it. The black metal was cool and the weight was calming in his hand. It wasn’t loaded but a handful of practiced movements could fix that. So they did.
  I love you. His hands passed the firearm from hand-to-hand, each feeling the heft and smoothness of the piece. It finally rested in his strong hand, his right hand… his shooting hand. I love you. The gun began to feel more and more foreign in his hand, its familiarity slipping like a veil. Treating it now less like an old friend and more like a dead rat, the gun went back into the case, and the lock was refastened. He zipped up the bag, changed his shirt, and then left the house. The case sat on the bed. I love you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Casting I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You

When I was writing "I 01001100..." it played out in my head like a movie... oh, Hello! Yes, I am actually writing. Took a little time to regroup and look back on the whole serial story experience; I have also been reading a lot. Anyway, as I was saying... played out in my head like a movie. So I thought it would be fun to take a page from my good friend Ryan "Shmee" Partlow and his blog Shmee.me (which I contribute to from time to time) and cast my story.

Albro Swift
When I was writing this story I was watching a lot of Chuck with Zachary Levi, so there is a lot of the Buy-More spy and few Chuck references sprinkled throughout the story. He's also a great mix of comedic and dramatic, with a love for the geeky that makes him an inspiration to us all. So he's a logical choice for my lonely Dr. Light*.

At the same time, Zachary doesn't fit the image of what Albro looks like in my head, so to match that with a great actor I have to present David Blue.

I enjoyed David's performance on Stargate Universe, as the awkward, boy-genius Eli who became the heart of the show. He had a wide-eyed wonder and innocence that I think Albro has as well, so he's my choice to play Albro Swift.

Marcus DeMarcus Jefferson
Its a terrible name I know. My first choice for Jefferson was of course Orlando Jones (Make 7-Up yours!) but he doesn't fit into the young and the restless age group I have going on, so the next best option is the man who took over the 7-Up job from him...

Godfrey is a funny man and I think exudes that joy and zest for life that Jefferson has. He's older than the majority of the cast I'm putting together, so to throw out a younger name...

Donald Glover is also funny and full of life. Either would be a great fit for the role.

Gwen was roughly inspired by Luanne, who worked at Lloyd's Electronics in Lynden for forever, but differed from her physically. The picture I always had in my head was from the webcomic The Trenches and the lovely Cora.
She's probably not available, so I'd need a miracle... (uggh)

Miracle Lauri was a delight to watch on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse; she's charming, sweet, and a beautiful woman despite not fitting the acceptable norm. She was exactly who I had in mind as I wrote Gwen and would be hard pressed to pick someone else. She's also very scary if you mention tulips around her.

Calvin Reuben Hanson
When I played Calvin Reuben Hanson, the villain of Time Cop Cruisers 2002 and 2003 at FirCreek Day Camp, I played him like Avery Brooks from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - a little crazy and a lot over the top. So whomever took on this role had formidable shoes to fill (not really). Finding the right amount of smarm, airheadedness, and menace is a tall order. So here are three guys I thought could pull it off.

Jermaine Clement has already played a similar role in Gentleman Bronco, so he can do it, but pulling off the contemporary of either Zachary Levi or Baby Face Blue probably isn't going to happen, but it'd be great.

Michael Cera would more than get this role; I think he'd have fun with the role, chewing up the screen like... like... an Arrested Development reference. He'd also be young enough.

Finally is the oddest of these ducks, Mr. Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec. He's funny, he's young, and he's just that little bit off that Calvin Reuben Hanson (at least in my mind) embodies. Any of these three would be able to pull off an amazing... well, nearly amazing. Those 1st through 5th grades gave me rave reviews. So nearly amazing job at the Big Bad Guy.

Of course these are just some of the people that have come to mind as I have written my story, but who have you thought of as you read it? Is my Albro way off? Jefferson not zany enough? Let me know, I would love to compare.

*A Mega Man reference. Dr. Light is the creator of Mega Man and other robots

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #15 (THE END)

Albro found himself surrounded by a swell of well-wishers and sudden admirers. They all seemed obvious to the fact that his eyes darted for an exit and his body tensed with each pat on the back. Those that tried to engage him in conversation received one word responses and panic looks. Sweat began to bead on his forehead.

Men in dark suits pushed their way through the crowd and slowly cordoned Albro off from the masses; creating a small pocket of breathing room. Calvin Rueben Hanson stepped into the circle.

His eyes remained downcast and his shoulder’s slumped, but then his bearing changed and he stood up straight again.

“Please escort everyone out, Mr. Blithe, but see that they pass the souvenir and concession stands before they go.” The men in black maneuvered the crowd towards the exit.

“They will return… and in greater number,” Hanson said, watching them file out like cattle.

“Thank you Obi One, you’re my only hope.”


“Star Wars… it’s from… never mind.” The two were silent, neither looking at the other.

“I’m sorry Albro, I didn’t know. I assumed and I was wrong.”

Albro was taken aback, unsure of what to say.

“I thought…” he struggled uncharacteristically for the right words, “…in my family you fight for everything. When you didn’t fight me it was the greatest slight you could deal me; it told me I was beneath you and not worth your time. I failed to even consider that you might have other reasons.

“You called me your friend, but I am not worthy of that title.”

“You are so melodramatic.” Albro laughed to himself and smiled a little, but then looked back at Calvin with friendly intent. “You have been and always will be… my friend.” Albro even held up his hand with his fingers split.

“Is that from something?”

Albro just shook his head.

*                                  *                                  *

Jefferson put the last pieces of the Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo on the cart, with T1N carrying Ito in his arms. Albro stopped in front of T1N and looked from him to Ito, to Jefferson, to Gronk who was rocking side to side excitedly.

Gronk. Gronk. Gronk. Fpstttssss! Gronk froze and went silent; he’d blown a cap again.

“Thank you, all of you,” Albro said softly. T1N nodded his head, Ito held his one good hand to his head in salute, and Jefferson grinned from ear to ear. “Let’s go home.”

“Actually, it looks like there’s one more fan waiting to get your autograph.” Jefferson motioned towards the side door. Gwen stood there in her green dress. Her eyes were bright and her smile beamed. Albro walked over to her.

“Good job Tin Man.” Gwen put an arm on Albro’s shoulder.

Butterfly suddenly hatched inside Albro’s stomach and his sweat glands went into overdrive. His mouth became as parched as Death Valley and his knees went weak.

“Something wrong?”

Albro looked into Gwen’s eyes; eyes he’d once only viewed through a camera, eyes he had thought about in wishful moments throughout the day, and now were looking at him and it felt like he was seeing them for the first time.

“You have beautiful eyes,” he blurted and then instantly went red. Gwen’s smile turned impish and she laughed.

“I’m glad you noticed.”

Albro seemed to gain some courage from that, so he looked at her again and then held out his hand. “I don’t think we were ever officially introduced. I’m Albro. Albro Swift.”

Gwen took his hand. “Gwen.”

Albro loosened his grip, but Gwen held his hand gently; she felt safe for the first time in a long time and her eyes shared her contentment with a sparkle that had dazzled the recluse. She giggled and then turned so they were now holding hands, “How about dinner?”

He followed without resistance, but then looked back for the motorcycle helmet and gloves he always wore outside; they were sitting on the cart Jefferson was pushing. He lingered on them for a moment and then felt a gentle squeeze. Without looking back he stepped out into the brightly lit day, the two of them silhouetted in the open door.

The end.

I hope all of you who have been following this story have enjoyed it. This end has been hard for me to write, one of the big problems was whether they should kiss at the end. My wife helped me a lot with this and helped steer me to an ending I think is more genuine to the characters. As always your feedback is most welcome and if you liked it, please share. I will probably do another serial in a little while, so I'll see you then.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #14

Several crew members removed Ito from the field and swept the platform clear while cheerleaders danced to Jock Jams. Unlike Albro and Jefferson, the mood of the crowd was boisterous; enjoying the AAA entertainment Calvin Reuben Hanson had brought to town. Across the field, behind Maximillian, Hanson smiled like a jackal.

“Why so serious, Albro?” Calvin’s voice was amplified, filling the whole place as the music was faded to silence in a very choreographed maneuver. “Are you ready now to admit I am the best?”

“The best? No.” Albro was surprised at the tone in his own voice and he looked up at Hanson with a mixture of shock and determination.

“The field says otherwise, I think. What does the crowd say?” The small roar gave Calvin his answer and he seemed pleased at the results. “And while I’ve just been informed we cannot use the term Robotech Masters, do to some legal difficulties I’m sure we’ll clear up…”  The graphics splashing Robotech Masters all over the platforms suddenly changed to Robo Masters and crew members pulled the banners from the walls. “…I’ve proven what I would have proved all those years ago. You wronged me, Albro, and now I will have my revenge!”

Hanson brought his hand down and on cue the lights, which had been up were dimmed again, and the umpire signaled for play to resume.

“Maxamillian. Kill.” The brute, turned its head to eye its master and then started slowly towards Raphael who kneeled in front of his goal.

“I can’t watch,” Jefferson said before covering his eyes. Albro wished to do the same, but a hand came to rest on his shoulder. T1N looked at Albro and then motioned towards the field.

“I can’t…” T1N leaned in and put his other hand on Albro’s shoulder. “O.K.”

Albro pulled a blue flag from his back pocket and waved it, desperate to get the umpire’s attention.

“What this Guy? Is Swift attempting to surrender?”

“No, Randy, that is the Point-of-Order flag. He must have something he wants to bring to the umpire’s attention. Looks like we’ll find out.”

The umpire stopped play and Maximillian halted his slow march.

“I wish to make a substitution.” Jefferson, Hanson, and the rest of the crowd all whipped their heads around to look at Albro in surprise.

“Who are you going to substitute, Albro? You’re butler?” Hanson pointed at T1N and laughed.

“Is this allowed,” Randy asked from the announcer’s booth.

“It’s an obscure rule, but as long as whatever he fields does not go over the team’s weight limit he can substitute. The only problem is, you don’t get to subtract the weight of the unit you are substituting, so it’s very rare teams have enough cap to actually do it.”

“Does he have the room?”

“I just did the calculations and he does.”

“And it looks like the umpire came to the same conclusion, he’s letting Swift substitute.”

Albro first whispered to T1N, who then went down to relieve Raphael, and then he whispered to Jefferson, who’s smile widened with each moment he listened.

“Gronk! With me,” he yelled and then jumped off the platform.

“I thought tearing the limbs off of that little toy of yours was going to be highlight, but now you give me the gift of your most prized robot…”



“Robot is Czech for… you known, it didn’t sink in in college; it’s not going to sink in here.” Albro fixed Calvin with an unfriendly gaze. “Do you want to know why I didn’t fight you all those years ago, Cal?”

“I know Albro. You were afraid to fight me.”

“I’ve never been afraid of you, Cal; not even now.”

“Then why did you rat me out to the college police and get me kicked out?”

“I didn’t. You thought I was oblivious to what you were doing, but I knew and I said nothing. We were almost graduated, I wasn’t going to do that to you… you were my friend.”

“Then why didn’t you fight me?”

The steel in Albro’s eyes faded and he seemed poised to run from the platform, but then he spoke again, “I had every intention to fight you that night. I was on my way, in fact. That’s when I was mugged.”

The whole expansive stadium fell silent. Randy looked ready to speak, but Guy silenced him with hand over his mouth and a shush.

“He came up behind me and held a knife to my back. He took everything, threw me to the curb, and then proceeded to kick me until I passed out. I woke up two days later. I couldn’t go outside after that. I couldn’t…” Albro looked at T1N and seemed to take courage from the white automaton standing below.

“All this time I’ve been running away, afraid of everything… afraid to go outside… too afraid to get to know anyone… to be known. But I’m not alone anymore. I’m not fighting you Cal, I’m fighting myself… and you’re in my way!

“I built T1N so that would never happen to me again. You’re right, he’s very important to me, but he’s not my butler, Cal… he’s my bodyguard.” Albro spoke to T1N directly, “There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green.”

T1N, who’s visor now glowed red, suddenly moved from a very relaxed position, to performing a series of katas. Then he mimicked stretching muscles he didn’t have.


“DJ Gronk, some beating music if you please.”

Gronk. The little robot had tapped into the snake leading out of the soundboard, effectively taking control.

The lights dimmed so only T1N and Maxamillian could be seen, all else was darkness. Music began to play, growing louder as it built up force…

You've got the touch
You've got the power, yeah

T1N strode confidently, taking a ball from the hopper.

After, all is said and done
You never walk, you never run
You're a winner, you got the moves

Maximillian had returned to guard his goal and he eyed T1N with malice, using one hand to motion T1N closer.

You know the streets, break the rules
Take the heat, you're nobody's fool
You're at your best when the going gets rough
You've been put to the test but it's never enough

T1N crossed the halfway mark.

You got the touch
You got the power

T1N put on a burst of speed, directly at Maxamillian who swung two arms to pulverize the small, white automaton daring to assault him. However, T1N dodged these attacks easily and then struck out at the great joints that gave the arms their movement. Two burst in explosions of green oil and two others would never move again. Maximillian recoiled away and his blood, red eye looked at his useless arms in shock.

You never bend, you never break
You seem to know just what it takes
You're a fighter, it's in the blood
It's in the will, it's in the mighty hands of steel
When you're standin' your ground

Maximillian lets out a fierce roar and swung his remaining two arms at T1N. Bobbing and weaving around the attack like water, T1N again dodged Maxmillian’s attack. Three quick strikes rendered those arms useless as well.

“He’s over 9000,” Calvin Rueben Hanson exclaimed in horror.

You got the touch

Now defenseless, Maxamillian did his best to avoid T1N’s attacks, but each blow landed all over his metal body, crushing and mangling the red monster’s form. Then the attacks stopped and T1N move to stand directly in front of the once great Maximillian, who now looked very much like a defeated fighter, swaying from side to side.

You got the power

T1N gave him one last look and then with the hand that held the ball he punched the great iron beast square in the chest; tearing armor, gears, wiring, and much else. T1N’s hand traveled through Maximillian and out the other side.

You got the touch

The life faded from Maximillian just as T1N tossed the ball into the goal.

You got the power, yeah!

“Eight points! Eight points! I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it!”

“That. Was. Amazing. I have never…” Guy struggled to find the words, so he chose to remain silent.

Hanson slumped to the platform just as his robot toppled over when T1N pulled his hand out of it’s chest.

“That’ll do Gronk. That’ll do.” Jefferson smiled a knowing smile as he surveyed the crowd that had gone wild.

Gronk. Gronk.

*                                  *                                  *

I thought I'd be done after this one, but you wouldn't want to miss out on Maximillian's epic defeat would you? So, I'm not going to promise that next week is the end, but its pretty close. See you then.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #13

“This is Randy Kenworthy in the booth with Guy Werther, bringing you all the action on the floor here today. Right from the get-go its Master Swift starting the action, sending four of his units against the Destroyer, Maximillian,” the commentator said, adding commentary for those watching the duel online.

“I’m told he’s named them after four renaissance artists and it looks like he is about to paint his own masterpiece tonight, Randy,” added Guy Werther, the color commentator.

“Right you are, Guy. Carrying the ball is Leonardo behind Donatello, with Raphael and Michelangelo strung out to the right.”

In a flurry of movements, the four shifted positions, moving the ball between each other. At first this confused the commenters until they saw Raphael with the ball.

“They’re in the red zone, but there stands Maximillian calm, cool, and collected. I don’t think he’s been fooled by their fancy footwork.”

“Not in the least.”

Raphael dashed forward, straight at the hulking, red automaton with the menacing red eye. He jumped and looked to try a shot on goal over Maximillian’s shoulder, but instead tossed it back to Leonardo who had positioned himself off to the side with a perfect view of the goal.

“The ball goes to Leonardo and he shoots!”

The ball slipped past Maximillian’s sluggish attempts to stop it and sailed into the goal.


The platform was a cascade of color and designs, creating a giant 5 that moved from Hanson’s goal to Swifts. The crowd roared as well.

“Five points to Master Swift and I have to say it was done in spectacular fashion.”

“Exactly, like ninjas those units faced Maximillian head on, overwhelmed his defenses, and scored. I have to say Swift’s strategy maybe the better one, if he can continue to score.”

The four units returned to their side and prepared to go again.

“I thought he’d be faster,” muttered Albro.

“What? That lug? No way, you got this Al.” Jefferson was a ball of excitement, bouncing up and down and yelling as if he had to let some energy out or he would burst.

“Mighty Ducks,” was the next call. Cal seemed to be whispering something to Maximillian from his perch on the other side.

“Here we go with ten minutes of play remaining and Master Swift again takes the initiative, sending his units deep into enemy territory.”

“Master Hanson’s reliance on just the one unit gives Master Swift a lot of opening with his lighter and faster units, Randy.”

Three of the units formed a V, with Raphael in the back with the ball. They moved as one, traveling towards the goal, but on the left hand side. The V suddenly veered across the court to the right hand side.

“What’s this? Raphael has cut across to the left while Maximillian is distracted by the formation moving the opposite direction. He has another chance to score! He throws! He…”
Maximillian’s left, middle arm lashed out and caught the ball, gripping it so tight it looked ready to burst. The other three arms also lashed out, catching Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo by various body parts.

“This isn’t good, Randy.”

The three fought back as best they could, but the unyielding steel held them fast. The left, middle arm first took a hold of Leonardo’s blue banded head and then effortlessly tore it from the body.

“That’s three points to Master Hanson! That’s a confirmed destruction.”
Maximillian tossed the body at Raphael, who became tangled up with its brethren’s carcass. Another hand free, Maximillian methodically took the head off of Donatello and then Michelangelo, their bodies lying twitching at his feet.

“Maximillian has just decimated Master Swift’s team. Decapitating three… three units in as long as it has taken me to speak this sentence.”

“It was so fast,” marveled Guy. The crowd to seemed too stunned with only a hand full cheering at first, but slowly the rest found their voice.

Giant 3’s scrolled across the platform as Raphael slowly pulled himself from underneath Leonardo’s body. He tried to stand but his leg crumpled underneath him and he fell back to the ground. The eye of Maximillian came to a rest on the helpless automaton and then he took a heavy step.

“The score is now nine to five, Master Hanson in the lead and looking like he’s going to be adding three more unless Swift’s unit can get behind the blue line. Isn’t that right Guy?”

“That’s right. That blue line, Randy, is the reset line that stops the clock and forces both teams back to their sides after there has been a score,” explained the color commentator. “If that unit can get across it before Maximillian gets his hands on him it’ll give Master Swift a temporary reprieve.”

Raphael clawed his way across the platform, desperately pulling himself closer and closer to the blue line. 
Maximillian took small, measured steps, choosing to loom over the smaller automaton instead of finishing him quickly.

“It is going to be close!”

Just as Maximillian reached down to take ahold of Raphael’s leg the tip of Raphael’s outstretched finger cross the blue line. The crowd roared and a buzzer sounded. Maximillian stopped.

“What a display of mechanical tenacity! That little robot did not give up.”

“He didn’t want to end up in the scrap head like his brothers.”

“No he did not. Now all eyes turn to Albro Swift to see how he will recover from this turn of events.”

Both Albro and Jefferson simply stood in silence atop their platform; Jefferson’s jaw fully open.

“What do we do, man?”

Albro swallowed and slowly turned to look at his friend, real fear in his eyes. “I don’t know.”

The crowd hushed to listen in on the conversation.

“What can men do against such reckless hate?” Albro’s eyes were desperate.

Jefferson made no answer, instead he looked away.

The sound of a small motor running broke the silence. All eyes suddenly turned towards Ito who rolled to retrieve a ball from the hopper.

“Ito no.”

Ito rolled up beside Raphael and motioned for him to stand over the goal.


Ito rocked its head from side to side like it was stretching it’s neck, then it turned to lack back at Albro.

“I think Master Swift has lost control of that unit there, Guy.”

“I think you’re right, Randy. But what can that little guy do against the terror that is Maximillian?”

Ito gave several thumbs up to Albro and then crossed the center line. Maximillian motioned with his own manipulators for Ito to come closer. Dauntless Ito rolled forward and then he stopped just out of Maximillian’s reach. He looked up, cocked his head from side to side, and then spun to the right.

“What a surprising burst of speed from the goal keeper?! He’s quickly moved to the outside but Maximillian is reaching for him!”

A great maw clamp onto several of Ito’s arms, still he spun and pulled against the red devil. Manipulators and arms tore free and once again Ito was moving.

“Ito, no,” Albro whispered as he watched in horror.

“He’s free, but now once again in the clutches of Maximillian.”

“It doesn’t look good this time, Randy.”

Over half of Ito’s arms were now caught, only a handful remained free and they were busy keeping the ball out of Maximillian’s reach.

“Maximillian,” Hanson yelled. “Finish him.”

As if he weighed nothing, Maximillian pulled Ito off of the ground.

“No… no… no… no…” muttered Jefferson.

Maximillian then violently ripped the arms he held out of Ito’s body. The crowd gasped.

Albro’s eyes were locked on Ito, so he didn’t miss the quick look back and the tiny wink. Ito suddenly leaked black oil from his undercarriage, all over Maximillian. The substance must have been slick because Maximillian instantly lost his grip and Ito fell to the ground – right in front of the goal. He little flick of his one good arm and the ball scored.
The crowd went wild.


“I’ve… I’ve not seen anything like that,” Guy said breathlessly.

“What an amazing goal! In true David and Goliath fashion the little robot that could scores over the colossal titan Maximillian!”

“But the score’s now twelve to ten, with only a single wounded unit left. I don’t know if Swift can do it.”

*                                  *                                  *

Wow! I'm tuckered out. I hope that if you've been holding out because I promised robots fighting that the wait has been worth it. If your need a visual for that battle between Ito and Maximillian here are their inspirations: Maximillian is an homage to Maximilian from Disney's The Black Hole (http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Maximilian) with a hint of Battlestar Galactica Cylon; while Ito is an homage to the WED Treadwell droids from Star Wars (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/WED_Treadwell_repair_droid). I had thought that I was going to be able to finish it here, but I didn't want to go overly long either. Next week then should be the exciting conclusion of I  01001100   01101111   01110110   01100101  You. See you then.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #12


Jefferson guided the moving truck back towards the side door of the High School Gymnasium and then he and Albro got out. The back door rolled up and the ramp came down.

“Transform and roll out,” Albro commanded from behind his helmet, sweeping his gloved hand towards the door. Ito led a procession of automatons down the ramp; Gronk coming out last.


“Verbal commands was one of the goals of our club, it required the designer to devise strategies before the match since they couldn’t program them during it. You had to know your opponent or at the very least have contingency plans in place.”

“It doesn’t sound autonomous if you’re telling them what to do.”

Albro went to the doors and swung them open, motioning Ito and the rest to go in. “Are football players autonomous? They get calls from the sideline. The end goal was to have that level of autonomy. Our first matches were more like chess, preplanned routes and movements that were very programming intensive. As we developed more sophisticated AI, we could leave more of the problem solving to them. For instance, the first goal keeper unit I built had to be told to block via a verbal command; now Ito does it automatically.”

The vast gym was bathed in light, both from the overhead and from freestanding can lights that bore down on a raised platform. Currently the floor of that platform raced from one color to the next and then into a series of lines. Banners promoting the Duel of the Robotech Masters were hung from the walls, ceiling, and even the basketball hoop. Platforms with cameras were stationed on the four corners of the room and thick, black cables ran to a central booth at the foot of the bleachers.

“Your nemesis went all out.”


Jefferson sensed hesitancy in Albro’s voice. “You can beat him, man.”


Jefferson and Albro’s attention was brought to the knot of men around the central booth, a man in black turtleneck waved wildly.

“That’s Cal.”

“Albro!” Cal motioned for the two to come over.

“I’ve waited long for this day old friend.”


“Why don’t you take off your helmet and Steve…” “Mark,” the man corrected for probably the hundredth time. “Mark… will get you mic’d.”


“Oh, yes! My viewers, at least the premium ones, get the most intimate access to every duel. They’ll hear the strategy, the agony, and the elation of each match.”


“Good, the match starts in an… oh, you brought your little good luck charm.”

“I ain’t nobody’s good luck charm.”

“I was talking to Ito.” Cal bent down to talk to Ito who had followed behind Albro and Jefferson. “Ito, Ito, Ito. I think the second thing I’ve looked forward to all this time is seeing each of your tiny arms being ripped from their sockets.”

Ito raised several fingers on the ends of his manipulators to show he shared the sentiment.

“Delightful. As I was saying, the match starts in an hour. Prepare yourselves gentlemen.” Cal turned and walked off to a curtained off section of the gym.

“I have never wanted so much in my life to slap someone than right now.” Jefferson glared daggers in Cal’s direction.

“Let’s get ready.”

*                                  *                                  *

The overhead lights had been turned off, while the can lights made it impossible to see into the darkness where the audience was filing in. It was a loud, excited crowd that was filling the seats. Albro, Jefferson, and T1N stood in their team box, a raised platform that was behind the goal. The LED display was emblazoned with the logo of the Lectronic Shoppe and the name ROBOTECH MASTER - ALBRO SWIFT shifting from gray to blue and back again. Gwen had had to plead with her uncle to let them use the store as the team’s sponsor. Uncle Sam begrudgingly let them use it, noting that they’d better win.

Gwen had also provided Albro and Jefferson with matching white jumpsuits, also sporting the store logo.

“She thought of everything.” Jefferson said while checking the suit’s fit.

The lights went out and a hush fell over the crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” The voice of the announcer broke the silence. “Welcome to the event of this century, the dawn of a new age in entertainment, and you will be the first to experience the Duel of the Robotech Masters!”

“He knows that’s trademarked, right,” Jefferson asked. Albro shook his head, no.

“From the first days of man, he has sought to create life. And now in this new digital age, life has been born.” A screen on the far wall lit up and the image of a robot played across it. “The first were simple, dependent, and meek. Today, however, you will witness the pinnacle of robotics.” The image changed to a giant red robot, a single red eye sweeping back and forth. “Maximillian come forth!”

All the lights went out, save for a single spotlight that shined on the curtained area Cal had went back to. Peeling the velvet away were two great pincers. It strode out on two legs like a bull entering the bullring, strong and powerful. The red eye swept the room, seeming to find all it saw lacking. Secondary arms moved like snakes from the midsection of the automaton, moving with an alluring grace.

“Only one,” Jefferson asked.

“He is a machine breed with a singular purpose,” continued the announcer. “To dominate all others and prove that there can be only one… ROBOTECH MASTER!” With this Calvin Rueben Hanson rose out of the center of the platform, his face showing no emotion.

“Thank you. Thank you. I am excited to share with you the next great thing!”

Albro facepalmed.

“The first duel is especially important to me. My opponent and I were once friends, no, brothers, but then he betrayed me many years ago. He thought he could escape justice but fate deemed that we should finish the duel I was denied. Tonight, I battle a man I once called friend… Albro Swift.”

A beam of light illuminated the suddenly weak kneed Albro. Jefferson and T1N put a hand on his back to steady him.

“You can do this, man. You can beat him.”

Calvin made a flourish with his hands which started a preprogrammed display on the platform’s floor. Patterns of robots moved amongst swirls of color, slowly forming the standard lines of the dueling field. Calvin went up into his team box, while Maximillian stepped out in front of his goal.

“That’s your cue.”

Albro’s mouth was dry but he somehow spit out, “Lead them out Ito.”

Ito gave Albro a sharp nod and then rolled out with five other automatons following behind him. The majority of the past two days had been spent on the four other robots, Ito needing only slight modification. These four, who Jefferson had named Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo (he’d even painted colored headbands on each of them), were similar to T1N in design, but much smaller and presumably lighter.

Ito took his place in front of the goal and the four spread out around the field. Leonardo took the offered ball from the match official and again the room fell to a hush.

Albro took a deep breath. His mind raced like it never had before during a match. Obviously it was a combination of the overwhelming feeling of exposure and the countless number of eyes fixed on him. He wanted to run screaming from the room, but one thought kept him rooted. Gwen was somewhere in the stands watching him as well. One last thought of her and then he brought the mental blinders down.

There was only the playing field and the six units now. “Let’s end this,” he said softly.

“Picard Maneuver.”

*                                  *                                  *

And so it begins...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I 01001100 01101111 01110110 01100101 You #11


In a small wood-paneled room about the size of the average living room located on the second floor of City Hall which served double duty as the city council chambers on Thursdays and the municipal court on Mondays and Tuesdays were arranged four rows of folding chairs facing the folding table behind which the five elder statesmen of the town now sat behind.

In the seats were the full membership of the Royal Order of Free Ladies in their yellow scarves, a smattering of bored citizens, and Uncle Sam who took two chairs. Only the ladies of the ROFL were paying any real attention to Ms. VanLoose as she carried on her impassioned speech against robots in all their evil forms.

“I ask the good council if they can feel safe in their own homes, their own families ever at danger from the grave threat of these creations. These soulless things, allowed free and unchecked will grow into a menace that will overthrow all that is good and decent in this world. We've made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our town and we fall back. They assimilate themselves into our lives and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

“I cannot implore you enough, gentlemen. For the safety of all whom live here we must pass this statute to protect our loved one and our own lives.”

The women clapped loudly to the hidden delight of Ms. VanLoose who took her seat with quiet dignity.

“Thank you Ms. VanLoose. Is there anyone else who would like to offer input?”

Sam jumped with a start, racing Ms. Filtcher who hoped to pile the anti-robot sentiment.

“You all know who I am, so I’ll avoid the pleasantries. You also know how rarely I involve myself in the affairs of others, so there’s that. In truth I’d rather not be here, but I cannot sit on the sidelines and watch you all make one of the more stupid mistakes you’ve made.”

The council shifted uneasily in their seats.

“And this is an especially stupid one.”

The chairman of the council looked to speak in their defense, but Sam continued. Sam plucked up the manila folder that had been set and walked up to the council’s table.

“My brother’s a lawyer in California, so I had him look over your little law.” Sam passed papers to the councilmembers. “As you’ll read he’ll be the first to admit that he’s no expert on the municipal law in this state, but in his opinion the law as written is so broad and so vague that you could drive a truck through it. In its broadest interpretation it could be justified that any electronic device falls under the classification of ‘robot’. This probably stems from the fact that most of your can’t even program your DVR’s, which I know for a fact since I’ve done it for all five of you.

“My brother goes on to explain that this law would more than likely result in long drawn out litigation that would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seeing as just the other week you were all whining about the budget, I seriously doubt we can afford sidewalks to no-where and lawsuits comfortably.”


“But wait, there’s more! Certainly my business would be affected by this mockery of justice, but there are others whose business would be impacted, so I took time yesterday to talk to them about it. These are letters from Presidents, CEOs, General Managers, and Owners who business use or plan to use robots in their businesses.” Sam passed a handful of letters to the chairman. “As you can see, several of the city’s largest employers feel this statute negatively impacts them and one even threatens to close should this law pass.”

Sam gave the council time to rifle through the assorted letters, their eyes big as they read.
“I think I’ve made my point.”

Sam made for the door but then stopped. He pulled out a single sheet of paper and gave it to Ms. de Ruiter, the chairwoman of ROFL.

“That is a letter from myself and the other computer repairmen in town, informing you that we will not serve anyone who’s a part of your group.” Sam looked to three women sitting in the back. “You’ll need to pick up your computers by this afternoon ladies and I suggest refraining from communicating with Nigerian royalty in the future because I won’t help you.”

Sam left a stunned room in his wake.

“Mr. Chairman?”


“I’d like to motion that we table this discussion.”

“Second,” two councilmen said in unison.

“All in favor.” The motion passed unanimously. “And for what length of time should we table this discussion Mr. Bright?”



The motion carried unanimously.

*                                  *                                  *

“What are you smiling about uncle?” Gwen asked as she watched her uncle walk into the store.

He did not answer right away, instead he casually walked to his chair behind the counter. He then took a moment to settle into his seat, sitting with the air of a king lording over his castle. He finally looked at his niece. “I have met the enemy, dear niece, and I have found them wanting.”

“What did you do?”

Sam smiled, “I simply engaged in the civic process.”

I move a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. This is the less than exciting political thriller part of the story, that made me think of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace when I was writing. Aaron Sorkin; George Lucas and I are not, but it was needed to advance the story. The next part is the finale that may come in two parts, not sure since I haven't written it yet. Before the end let me express a hearty thanks for reading!  See you next week.