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(Contains: strong language)
Everything was coming in on schedule, except the water. That was three months overdue. In about two weeks they'd start dying of thirst, and there was nothing to be done. And it was all because Sherman had put the wrong date on the delivery eight years ago. Axton and Caroll stared at the back of his head now, both thinking about how much they'd like to shoot the stupid sonofabitch.

Sherman didn't let on that he felt nervous, sipping his coffee ration in recumbency, his black-and-yellow thermals on the respirator panel and some kind of old timey jazz on the beacon unit. Even Sherman felt the irony of his continuing to safely guide in the parts shipments was excessive, so, though he was by far the most experienced with the telemetry software, they had him in the air room all day, listening to music and monitoring the scrubbers. As it was the dullest assignment on station, he might have hoped they'd consider it his due penance and leave it at that. But his mistake was going to kill them all, and no contrition would make up for the fact. Axton glanced at Caroll, Caroll returned the look with sardonic vehemence: there wasn't a damn thing they could do, except dream about pushing Sherman out the airlock, and they knew it. They went to the mess for breakfast.

Six months earlier, Rhea, Axton, and Cubby, that poor bastard, seated with him in the mess for recon'd hash and pork, Sherman had been looking over the schedule on his pad when he suddenly cried, "Oh, shit!" and dropped it on his orange juice (also recon'd), splattering his peers with sticky liquid. Axton, who hadn't liked Sherman much to begin with, went livid, but Rhea ignored the mess out of concern over Sherman's gaze, which was like that of a man who'd just realized he left the gas on before taking off on vacation. "What is it?" she said.

"The hell is your problem, Sherman?" Axton said, before he could reply. Cubby, arrived on station only two weeks prior, said nothing, but took up the pad and scrutinized it. His eyes went wide.
Exercise: Calendar [300 words]
Daily exercise, generally short fiction.
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(Contains: ideologically sensitive material)
When the booze and the E hit, they want frantic on the floor, their bodies enflamed with music as it had never been, grinding teeth and swaying to the pulsing bass. Luca ignored Donovan's offer of a hit and stood at the balcony, watching the enthralled participants in the weekend ritual with benign grace, admiring the glistening bodies of man and woman alike when dancing lights illuminated them. Terry was in the middle of the throng, moving with religious ecstasy as well as chemical, and Luca caught and lost sight of her a dozen times in the dry ice fog.

The near-full glass of merlot weighed heavy in his right hand. He was nursing it after the fast five rail whiskey shots they'd pushed on him half an hour before. That had been awful, acrid stuff, chased by tomato juice and a promise to himself that he wouldn't do it again for a full fortnight, this time. He knew it was a lie. If Terry even hinted at another night out--tomorrow night, it could be--he'd phone in another delay on the article and dress up. She had him completely, and she didn't even want him.

Michael was out, too, deep in the mix, dancing for himself. Luca could see Terry's eyes on him from time to time. He'd have been bitter about this abortive triangle, once. Now he simply felt empty in his heart. It wasn't the booze, though that did make him sadder. Michael was a real nice guy. And they got each other. Luca understood that, with perhaps a trace of self-pity, and knew that while he loved Terry deeply, and secretly, for the vibrancy of her approach to life, the enigmatic but persuasive joy she took in drugs and dancing, and the wholeness of being she worked into such acts, he could not match her in it the way a man like Michael might.

Luca was not entirely cold to experience--he loved a good drunk, had private energy for working his body into fine shape, laughed loudly at a clever joke--but he wasn't very warm, either, sipping merlot on the balcony alone save for some thoroughly trashed young woman on the edge of getting sick over the railing. He reached in his back pocket and withdrew his reporter's notebook and the fat pen he brought everywhere, but when he flipped to a blank page and no words came to mind, began idly doodling a wine glass. The sick girl glanced blankly at him and lurched off in search of the toilet. He impassively watched her stagger from sight. Suddenly displeased with the doodle, he wrote:

"What are you doing here?
Are you going to dance, Prince?"

This made him laugh. He replaced the notebook and pen in his pocket and chugged the wine, which was rather good and made him regret the act with its quality. But he finished and wiped his mouth where it had leaked and sucked his fingers clean, and leaving his glass on a standing table nearby, left the balcony in search of the stairs to the dance floor. The grated metal steps were sticky with vomit and spilled mixers. Some poor bastard below glanced up from mopping, probably to see if he needed to get out of the way.

The strobing floor lights disoriented him at first, and while he got his bearings he began to lamely sway to the music. House had never been his sound. Toward the floor's center the crowd grew impenetrable. Tall, and with lifted boots, Luca could see well over the crowd, and orienting himself by the balcony, he thought he could see Terry's long, dark hair swaying. But when he approached, the girl turned, and it wasn't Terry after all; it was some wasted looking thirty-something toward whom he felt unreasonably angry. A flash of heat went through him, snarling his lips. Just then he caught, by chance, Terry's face about twenty meters away as the dense crowd parted briefly. The glance he shot her was unnecessarily furtive, for she was wholly consumed with the dancing against Michael, who ground his jaw as he slipped back and forth against her body.

The gap closed again as Luca turned for the exit. Twenty meters of dense crowd might be all that separated them, but it might as well be twenty kilometers for all the chance he had of closing the distance tonight. Was it the booze that made him feel so light? He kept his eyes on the door and danced out of the club.
Exercise: Dance [300 words]
Daily exercise, generally short fiction.
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I keep praying for the power to express in a phrase what it is I see when I read these stories-
Holocaust and murder and unforgiveness-
And I'm a worm on the floor on its wormy knees-
Begging- O Tell me the word!-
Because there are a million million of us, and we're them.
I know it.

I look in the eyes of fat and greasy on the street, and he or she is the bloated carcass of the perverted soul in my testicles, the motivepart of my being.

I cultivate a practical air of civility-
Say the pretty ones do it for you by their minds-
Say the lightning holds no awe for your petty soul-
And when the bullet comes, who cringes more than thee?

I forgive, really, and it's a helluva forgiveness.
There are people going out in bandages and blood-
And I'm preserving society with porcelain film critiques.
Fuck me- I think and think and think-
Plastic, extruded product of thou do-
Good, aye-
The only thing about you that gets raw is your fingers from these asinine polemics

THE STATE THE STATE

Well, who did you vote for?

I really haven't much to say that isn't in my books-
That's my authorship- exposed!
I just wish I had the phrase.
Mon, Feb. 16, 2015
Exercise poem. 
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"I still think you're crazy," Jackson said, handing Davies the helmet.

"You and everyone. I stopped caring when they greenlit me." Davies lifted his perpetual smirk at Jackson and then glanced past him to the lift.

"I really don't see the point. There's nothing to see down there--no place to plant a flag--"

"There's no point to half this nonsense," Davies countered, taking in the control room with a gesture. "Thirty years ago there was a point. But there's no life--we know that now. So what the hell, I'm going to dive it. It's that or another thirty-six on station looking at the same scans they could have handled from Earth with a robot and a relay."

"That's not fair and you know it!" Jackson said. "We're beholden to the people who sent us here, to--"

"Shove the 'for the sake of Mankind' bullshit, ok?" Davies placed the helmet over his head and snapped it into the cowling. For a moment he could hear nothing but the blood in his ears. Then he flicked the com switch and heard Ruby say, "That's right, beacon, we have normal telemetry. Bring it on in."

Jackson began speaking into his wrist mic, and Davies switched over to channel four in time to hear: "You just be safe, you crazy bastard."

Davies gave him a double thumbs up, and after a fifth check of his vitals and the equipment, Jackson walked to the lift airlock controls. As the doors opened and Davies stepped through, he could hear Jackson mutter, "crazy bastard."

The lock secured and began to decompress. While it cycled, Davies switched back to channel one. "I'm going for a swim, Ruby. Have Jackson greet our guest." Ruby, far more amenable to Davies' breach of protocol, laughed and said, "Will do, Tom. You better not get lost down there."

"Don't worry," he said. "I have line and a radio beacon. Giving myself an extra two hours of air and double batts on the lights. I just--I have to do it."

"First crew on Europa not exciting enough for you?"

But then the lift started down, and Jackson broke in with, "Don't go more than a kilo from the beacon. You don't have the trans strength of the submersibles."

"Christ's sake, Jackson--I'll be fine! Bad enough this lift takes twenty minutes. Go greet the new blood."

"And what do I tell them about our commander's absence?"

"Tell them--tell them I'm stuck in the john. Hell, with that new tofu ration, it could be true." Jackson laughed in spite of himself, and suddenly Davies was left alone on the narrow lift, descending slowly through a tube cut in the surface ice. He couldn't remember being so alone in a very long time. During the descent he nervously checked his tanks several times. The only thing he hadn't quite been able figure was the effect of pressure at that depth. Air, he reflected, was almost certainly safe, despite the depth, because of the small size of the moon. He had some helium mix as well, but helium was not plentiful on the station. The carbon-dioxide scrubbers read full-capacity--good for a week. It was just the nitrogen that concerned him.

"It's really nothing to worry about," he said.

"I didn't quite catch that," he heard a voice say. It was Jackson.

"It was nothing. Just a bit jittery. Almost at the bay now." And indeed, the lift at that moment stopped and opened on the submersible bay.
Exercise: Nitrogen [300 Words]
Daily exercise, usually short fiction. 
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Meditations on the Willow

1. The young willow is usually born of the severed branch of a mature willow. By storms are generations distributed, scattered at the parent's feet, for the mature willow's roots are broadly spread. Other times, it is planted intentionally by men, who desire its beautiful, drooping shade, the pussy-feet of its catkin flowers, its excellent capacity for natural soil retention. It is said the weeping willows of England have a common progenitor in one planted by Alexander Pope a quarter millennium ago.

But what if Men reproduced in such manner? If after battles, beleaguered armies found the limbs of comrades swinging on newborn bodies, and every severest crisis of the body saw the potential for new life? Absurd, indeed, to imagine the great piles of limbs observed by the morbid Whitman while serving in the medical corps of the Union joining together to form odd hybrids of mutilated men--men who perhaps chewed willow bark to relieve their pain with the Salicin in it! Parents planting digits in the garden when wanting children might go and water daily a finger crop: a sacrifice more easily made by a tree bearing innumerable branches, surely. And what, then, with our scores of safely lost teeth? In such circumstances, more potent seed than these might not be found, for are we not apt to lose some at play in the backyard or the park?

2. The bride willow lifted her veil to receive a kiss from her groom, the West Wind. The mossy boulder blessed their union in the forest chapel, and their embrace was passionate long into the night. The creek burbled merrily next door to the bridal house, and the fawn who came to drink averted his gaze out of propriety.

The mother willow watched her children grow. Each birth had been a brief pain, but the West Wind was cool and gentle on her rough bark, and his passage was seldom more ardent than a caress. Well did they grow, down the riverbank, some carried far away by the creek, who saw them safely under the bridge over which the buses and cars ferried back and forth and past the locks that governed the pace at which water entered the river flowing through town. Where they came ashore, by the pond, she could not see, but the far roaming bees brought news of their thriving each Spring.

Old Mother Willow bore the mourning veil year round for her daughter, cut down to make way for the two-story Summer home of a middle aged couple who saw the site and fell in love immediately one Summer day. They came down the bank beneath her branches and admired her fine roots and the way she leaned slightly, as though curtsying to the creek. But the mossy boulder they had rolled away to make way for a gazebo, and her veil they trimmed that they might walk more easily beneath her branches. When her husband returned from his travels abroad, she felt his affection more weakly, and he creaked and groaned like an old man in the stiff beams of the gazebo.

3. He took the long fronds, stripped of their pain-relieving leaves and bark and twisted the ends to form a simple frame. The wood was slick with sap and cold despite the little fire in the cave. Ar and Mak pounded nuts with stone mallets on the other side of the fire. As he began weaving the shorter willow fronds into a net, the sweet smell of nut-meat roasting in maple leaves made his stomach growl.

Nuts would not be sufficient. They needed meat, but game was scarce, and so he would return to the river--the swollen river where three days ago it had taken all Mak's strength to rescue him from drowning. But that was how it had to be. Ar was not strong enough for the net, and Mak was bad with the fishing, too stupid to learn how to catch anything. And he had lost the net, the perfect net, five seasons old--the work of Bano, before he began coughing and went in the ground. He could make another net, but it would never be as good as Bano's. They searched for hours after he was dumped breathless on the riverbank, but the net was gone.

Ar looked up at him from beneath pained brows and rubbed her swollen belly.
Exercise: Willow [300 words]
Daily exercise, generally short fiction.
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An outline:

1. The land of dreams (of death)
    a. Buildings (architecture)
    b. Darkness ('light from out the lurid sea')
    c. Creatures (guardians, Cerberus)
2. A dreamer wakes
    a. Dark, confined space (coffin, sarcophagus)
    b. The room, the corridor
    c. The architecture (moving rooms, changing doors)
3. The dreamer sees the citadel (of Death)
    a. The dead garden (Proserpine)
    b. The hall of warriors (statues)
    c. The climb (citadel stairs)
4. The threshold of Death
    a. Death on the throne (a vision)
    b. The life-song 
    c. The postponement (of death)

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Vorduul
Erik
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Comments


:iconpomohippie7:
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   Writer
Thank you very much for the watch! :heart:
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:iconvorduul:
Vorduul Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Student Writer
You're the one being all watchable. Keep posting, please!
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:iconpomohippie7:
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013   Writer
Oh, thank you again! :blushes:
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