Monday Musings

Mind of a Writer

I want to get back into writing posts here weekly. One of my favorite things to do is finding new ways to consider old questions. Every time I read interviews with authors, one of the questions that always comes up is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Stephen King answers this question in On Writing with “a small, bloodthirsty elf who lives in a hole under my desk”(check out this post). I’ve heard other responses, such as “There’s a warehouse loading dock on 6th and Lake if you’re there 6:42 a.m., a guy name Neil sells ideas for $5 a pop.” While these snarky ideas are meant to answer a question that most writers can’t answer with one definitive sentence, there is a way to answer. It will just take more words than you want to digest in a sentence or blog post.

I want to marry these two ideas. Writing again on my blog, and answering this ages old question. Each Monday, I will post that looks at the process of ideas in-depth. For the inaugural post, we will start with the kernel of an idea:

sin-eaters

Some of you might be asking, what the fuck is a sin-eater? Some of you might have some ideas. I used this in the novel I am writing, a page a day over 2016, (The Executioner’s Journal). A sin-eater, in ancient times, was someone who symbolically ate the sins of others. Some would travel the world, going village to village. They were fed meals that symbolically held the sins of those who lived there. Stephen King took this kernel of an idea and turned it into his long-running serial turned novel turned movie “The Green Mile”. John Coffey was a sin-eater. He took the darkness, the pain, the sins of others, into himself, so that they might live.

So… that’s been done. I love the idea of someone taking the pain, the darkness, the hurt of others onto themselves so that those people might have a better life. Delving into this idea, I can see that someone who is a sin-eater would have a lot of emotions to deal with. Especially ones that are not their own. Perhaps they would also have memories, latent, extra things left over from the actual sin.

What do we have so far? The idea of a sin-eater. Someone who eats (in some way, perhaps a symbolic, perhaps a literal way) the darkness, pain, and sins of others. When he does so (He? Did I just decide that? Yeah, he just came to mind. I write about women, I write about men, this idea speaks as a he to me.)… when he does so, he has these residual emotions, feelings and sometimes memories leftover.

This leaves a lot of questions for us. Who is this sin-eater? Why does he eat the sins of others? Does he enjoy it? Where is he from? What does he do, is this his full-time job? Questions are good! They spur on further character development. It means that, so far, our idea is holding some water. It might be muddy water that we have to stir with our fingers, looking for a bit of clarity, but there it is.

In this installment of “Monday Musings”, we’re going to answer one of those questions, and then decide what we want to work on next Monday. I’ll pick this time, next time, you get a voice in deciding. I’m going to choose “Who is this sin-eater?” This question is packed with tons, upon tons of other questions about small details and characteristics. Today, we’re going to go with his name. What is our Sin-Eater’s name?

Naming a character can be daunting. In fact, it’s probably the one hurdle that I see most people having a problem with in writing, table-top roleplaying and MMO games. I start with an idea of who this character is. I look for something unique. Our character, the sin-eater, is taking the sins of others, their darkness and pain, and taking it into himself. That’s much of what a martyr does. So, I point a browser to this page to get some ideas.

Halfway down the page, I find this blurb:

“Brought to Christ by his brother Andrew, Peter is known as the disciple who often spoke before he thought. After Christ’s death, Peter was the fiery preacher prominently seen in the first half of the book of Acts. He founded the church at Antioch and traveled preaching mainly to Jews about Jesus Christ.

Peter was martyred under Nero’s reign. He was killed in Rome around the years 64 to 67. Tradition holds that he was crucified upside down. Like Andrew, his brother, he is said to have refused to be crucified in the same manner as Christ because he was unworthy to be executed in the same way as the Lord.”

That one line speaks volumes to me: “Peter is known as the disciple who often spoke before he thought.” I like characters that have a will of their own. Looking at any baby name book/website tells us that Simon means “to listen, to hear” and Peter means “rock.” So here we have a guy who is headstrong, he speaks before he thinks, but he listens, and he can be a rock, a solid foundation.

Our sin-eater is named Simon Peter. Which also tells me that his family, if not himself, are Catholics. I like the idea of having faith, but having doubt as well. Peter was the apostle who denied Jesus, so our Simon Peter will also have an estranged relationship with the church and God.

This leaves us with the framework, the bones, the skeleton of our character: Simon Peter, a lapsed Catholic, who speaks before he thinks. He listens to others, which means he has empathy, and can be a rock, a solid foundation when he makes his mind up.

So what do you want to work on next Monday? Vote on the following questions in the comments section and the one with the most comments is our task for next week!

  • Why does he eat the sins of others?
  • Does he enjoy it?
  • Where is he from?
  • What does he do, is this his full-time job?

Cheers!

 

Lexi Heartsmith, a beginning?

I started off with just a name: Heartsmith. As I do with characters, I began to think about the name, who it might be, what they might be like, and the name Lexi came to me: Lexi Heartsmith. Or Alexis as her mother named her, but she would rather not go by. During this same time I found this picture of Scarlet Johansson, and instantly knew that this was Lexi Heartsmith. Then comes a host of questions? Why is she dressed like this? Why is her hair like that? What is her relationship with drinking, as there is a glass in front of her. Over the last few years I have been slowly developing her as a character. As I have written of her, I have realized that I have shielded her far too much. I have not allowed the bad things that need to happen for her to develop to happen to happen to her. I hope, as I once again turn to her, that a new side can be developed, one that will show her for the amazing character she is.

Lexi

 

They say that when you truly want something, the Universe conspires to help you achieve it. Perhaps that is true. As if it is some truth carried in the bones of our world. I wanted to die, and the events that would give me the opportunities to do so fell into place.

I know what you are thinking. Sitting there, your hands gripping this book. Eyes roving the page like hungry jackals for a reason to my words. That is all that I can give you. These words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, to help you understand why I did what I must do.

It all began on the day that I turned thirteen. My birthday party was something that I looked forward to each and every year. Mostly because my mother spent extravagant amounts of money to ensure that my friends and I were well entertained. In the rear garden of our palatial home, each year, she would turn the rows of lilies and orchids, the well-worn stone paths and the gurgling fountain in the center into another world.

Or, at least, she would pay someone to do so. Being the foremost surgeon in the United States came with a great deal of responsibility and oceans of money. What I lacked in my mother’s time, touch, attentions and presence, was made up for by anything that I wished for. Bought, delivered and setup at my whim.

I had, at her insistence, invited every child in my grade. They all came. Each one showing up promptly at the front door starting at two o’clock. Smiles on their faces, best set of clothes on their backs, and a large present, topped with a bow for your’s truly. Not attending was the equivalent of social suicide in my class.

I stood at the door, as mother had instructed, shaking each child’s hand, curtsying to their parents, and telling them, “…how delighted I am to have at my party…”. While it was very easy to feign such airs with most of the children and their chaperones, one in particular, Davis Kentworth III, took all of my graces to maintain composure in his presence.

Davis was one of those children who believed that everything should be done his way, for him, about him and include him. Should any of these rules be unmet in a situation he had the height, the weight and the girth to physically voice his displeasure to the offending party.

While I grew up with the possbility of acting the same way, my mother had instructed me on how life worked. That it operated on deeply laid rules, which if not followed would cause the very breakdown of our society and life as we know it. I did not take kindly to those who broke these rules, and as I grew, I came to not just resent when people did, but I voiced my displeasure, and eventually acted upon it.

Those traits would be the reason why my thirteenth birthday party would be the last that anyone attended. Everything that I have ever done, my mother has always had an idiom for just that occasion. It would be after everyone left the party that she would present me with another one.

“You see, Alexis. When a young woman reaches a certain age, her body begins to mature. No doubt you have felt your busom beginning to expand, hair growing in places where it had not before, and now this…” As ever, my mother knew how to make me feel even less.

I can remember that day as vividly as if it were happening right now. I can see the purples and whites of the flowers in the garden. I can smell the water as it bubbles up through copper pipes and fills the pool around the fountain. I can hear the children laughing as they play, their parents voices murmering below them, and I can see the pure white, virginal dress that my mother had purchased especially for this day.

I loved that dress. When I wore it, it made my own eyes sparkle and shine like sapphires in a dragon’s hoard. It caused my flaxen hair to gleam, as if spun directly from Rumpelstilskin’s own wheel. It gave my skin an ethereal quality, as if I truly were a faerie princess, to match the diamond-caked tiara on my brow.

As I made my rounds through the party, ensuring that my guests were enjoying themselves, as mother had instructed, I found that I was tired, weary and that something I had eaten did not agree with me. The sensation swept up on me like high tide at sunset. It washed over me, dragging me down before I even knew that it was there.

It began with the feeling that everything I wore was a size too small. As if suddenly my beautiful white dress had shrunk, and my body was aching to burst forth from it. While simply a mild inconvience, it did nothing for my mood. I can remember, while trying to adjust one strap, in hopes that it might alleviate some of the strain, a young girl made a terse comment and I snapped at her.

“You know, if you are not feeling well, we would understand if you…”

Feeling well? Did I look as if I were about to die? Had the ethereal quality of my skin gone from pale faerie to day’s-dead corspe? It was not my normal aplumb when I replied.

“I’m fine. Eat your cake and shut up.” I said stalking off to the garden fountain.

I could hear them, the girls, nattering behind my back like a swarm of angry bees that had just been jostled. Despite the straying from the nicities, I did not care. The uncomfortable feeling of my dress was soon joined with the sensation of having to tinkle. Which was swiftly joined by a pounding in my head, as if the elephant that my mother had hired, was standing next to me beating on a bass drum. Finally, my skin turned flush. It was as if I was expanding like a balloon filled with hot air, and I was nearing the point of bursting.

It was then that I reached the fountain in the center of the garden. I had hoped for a few moments alone, where I might dab some of the cool water on my cheeks and compose myself, but I found that Davis Kentworth III was standing by the pool, one hand on Jenny Montgomery, a soft-spoken, but pretty girl in my class. Their interaction did not look pleasant to me.

“What are you doing to her?” I asked.

The large boy let go of her dress and stepped away, glaring at me.

“None of your business, princess. Why don’t you toddle off to your party and let your friends fawn over you some more.”

“This is my party and my house. What you do to my friends is my business, Davis.” I said through clenched teeth.

My stomach felt as it were Moby Dick, and I had just been harpooned. I doubled over at the waist, and drew in a sharp breath through my nose. It took every modicum of composure to not spill my breakfast on the ground infront of these two. When I could finally stand, I crossed the worn stones to where the boy stood. On the tips of my toes I pointed a finger (despite what mother says about pointing) and shook it at him furiously.

“I did not want you at this party. I do not like you.” I cried.

As he stared down at me, his deep, dark eyes were wide with shock. He took a step backwards from me, trying to distance himself from my fury. At first I thought it would be enough, but a look crossed his face, and a manical grin broke over his expression.

“You’re disgusting.” He said.

The words were a slap in the face. I had done nothing to deserve that. I was not disgusting. I was beautiful.

He stepped closer, looking down at me.

“You’re dirty, and everyone is going to see who you are.”

I looked down at myself. I was pretty, pristine, white, virginal. I was a beautiful faerie princess… and the lower half of my dress was stained through with bright red blood.

“Pig.”

It wasn’t the words that made me snap. It wasn’t Davis’ face, and how he grinned like a rabid dog looking at a piece of rotted meat. It wasn’t that my body felt like a too full balloon, that my head swam in a sea of pain, or that I wanted to vomit all over the ground and never stop.

It was the sound of Jenny’s laughter.

When one person makes fun of you, it is easy to dismiss. When a second joins in, that is when things become complicated. At that moment, my mind could not handle the complications. I reached up and grabbed Davis Kentworth III by the shoulders and shook him for all I was worth. Which at four feet, eleven inches, and about eighty-six pounds was not a lot.

What happened at that fountain, to this day, still haunts me. With my dress coated in slick blood. The red staining the white. With Jenny Montgomery giggling into her hand behind me. My hands on Davis Kentworth III, I yanked. I did not toppel the much taller boy, instead I pulled something free from deep within him.

I grew up Catholic. We attended church every Sunday. I sang the hymns, took communion and went to confession. I learned about the Ten Commandments, Jesus birth, life and crucifixtion. I had the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, beat into my brain on a weekly basis. What I pulled from Davis Kentworth III, to this day, I believe was his soul.

Jenny Montgomery could not see what happened, because she kept giggling like a hyena behind me, but Davis Kentworth III could tell. I held him, the spirit stuff that his soul was made of in my hands, and it was as if there were two of him by that fountain. The physical one, standing there, stunned that this little girl had grabbed him and torn his soul from his body, and the spirit one, in my hands and being shaken like an earthquake seeking to rip him in two.

While his body stood motionless, his soul screamed, cried out and tried to escape. I did not let him. Furious over the embarrassment and wroth with anger, I shook him back and forth, screaming incoherently the things that I would do to his mortal soul. When, finally, the rage subsided, I let go. What I held hung there, briefly in the air for a second, before it snapped back to his body.

Davis Kentworth III stood on the worn path stones surrounding the fountain, and before our entire class, peed himself. It was his turn to be embarrassed. His turn to flee. And he did so. I was told later that he did not even find his parents. He simply ran all the way home.

I would not feel vindicated, standing there, covered in blood, before my peers. In fact, I felt less. The feelings in my body had not subsided, but under their gaze, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. As their attentions turned back to me from the fleeing boy, I ran to the house. Ran up the stairs. Ran to my room. I barricaded the door and did not come out until every single one of them had left.

I stood in the bathroom, staring at myself. My make-up was streaked from tears. My dress was wrenched, dirty and bloody, but the most shocking evidence of that day, was the lock of hair hanging down over my brow that had gone completely white. I collapsed against the door, to the sound of my mother beating on it, and cried.

That was the day I was set upon this path. The first step in a journey of one thousand steps. A young girl, angry at the world for what it had done to her, and fighting to keep that from changing her spirit.

Just a snippet of ‘The Frozen Lotus’

Evadar sat in the largest chair his raiders could find, staring down at the villagers who had submitted to him. He was disappointed. His scouts had told him of skilled warriors who had dispatched three of his best. All he had found amongst the valley dwellers were soft, fearful beings who would give up any liberty just to stay alive. At first he meant to raid them, take what he wished and returned to the high places of the Clã, but now, after having bested their leader, he itched to use the combined might of his twin gloves. He gestured with one finger to his man at the end of the line of villagers.

The raider reached out, yanking a man up by his hair so that he was forced to look the Thane in the eyes.

“Where are your warriors?” Evadar asked.

“Please, I beg of you,” he began.

Evadar made a cutting motion with his finger, and the raider drew a blade across his dirty neck, letting the blood splatter out onto the dirt before him. When it slowed, he dropped the body and moved to the next person, yanking their head back.

“I do not know!” the man screamed. “I do not know anything!”

Evadar gestured again. Again a bloodless body dropped into the dirt and the grass.

The raider moved to the next, but the woman, before he could grab her hair, moved from his reach. She pushed herself to her feet, arms tied behind her back.

“We have no warriors.” She spat. “This is a broken, disused farming village. So deep in the Verde that the Mescate’s barely know it exists. Whatever you are looking for you will not find, no matter how many men you kill.”

She stood defiant before him, staring down at the first man who had been blooded.

Evadar appraised her. She was older, but still useful. Her body would bring enjoyment to the raiders, if he gave her over to them. She had a fire in her, and a need too, that he could see. She hated this place, and longed to be elsewhere. Her chin jutted out in anger and he knew that she would provide ample entertainment.

“A warrior bested three of my scouts in the woods south of here. They say he wielded two axes and caused them much shame.”

The woman laughed. It was a surprising reaction to his statement. Evadar thought that eventually he would find someone who knew this warrior, who could give him the leverage that he needed to draw him out and best himself, but laughter was never mixed with what he thought would be the reaction to such details.

“He?” She asked.

“Aye, He. Two axes, like the crescent moon, a just as deadly.” One of the raider called.

The woman turned her deep, forest-hued eyes to Evadar.

“Your man lies.” she stated.

The other raider was on her in an instant. Blade to her throat, point piercing the skin so that a teardrop of crimson rolled down to he hallows of her throat.

“No one speaks to the Thane as such.” He whispered against her ear.

“Then he should question his men, because they lie to him.”

The blade began to sink deeper in. Evadar watched as the woman bore the pain with the grace of someone who was not afraid to die. He lifted a hand for the man to hold back. He removed the blade and did as his Thane bade.

“Why would you accuse such?” He asked. “Among the Wind Clã, such would be grounds for combat. Should I offer you a blade so that he might seek reprisal against you?”

She shook her head, wiping her neck against her shoulder.

“No, but I know this warrior you ask of.” she replied.

Evadar stood up, nearly leaping from the chair to stand before her. He had been waiting for this moment. When he would find the clue he needed to tracking him down.

“Tell me everything you know.” He said towering over her.

She stared up at him, and now that he was closer, her body beckoned to him. He bit his lip, seeking to hold his own desires at bay until he knew more about the warrior.

“This… warrior, as you say, has trained outside of this village from a very early age. Each day, before the sun rose, conditioning body and mind to work in concert. Wicked, round blades on hafted handles, like the crescent moon slicing down to the earth to kill. Day-in and day-out, practicing to be the best here and everywhere within this world. Tell me… Thane,” She said, as she moved close, her body touching his as she looked up into his eyes. “What would you give for everything I know of this warrior?”

He smiled. Women had their wiles, when they could not stand beside a man. Many times those who could not match him in strength, ferocity and desire had sought to use his physical desires to gain an upper hand. Her ploy would work as well as there own had. He leaned down, his lips against her ear.

“Tell me what you know, and I shall free you to be more than you have ever wanted.” He whispered a skein of lies across her mind.

Her eyes blinked, and he could see the desire and greed cross them.

“The warrior you seek is no man.” She said. “She is my daughter, Olathe. When you find her, she will put her axes into your skull and stand over your dying corpse.”

Her head came up swifter than Evadar could imagine, connecting with his chin, and sending him reeling. His vision went black, and there was thunder in his skull. He howled, but could only hear the commotion of his men scrambling to act and the remaining villagers attempting to use the opportunity to escape.

“Bring me her head!” The Thane screamed at the sky.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Issue 1, Vol. I – “A Portrait of Everyman”

LOEG_Logo

Since the day Monte Cook Games launched the Kickstarter for The Strange RPG, I have been itching to run a campaign. Like most RPGs, the players create characters that they make decisions for during the game. Unlike other RPGs in the Strange you are not tied to one specific genre. In fact, the amazing aspect of the game is that you can play through a variety of genres in several or even one session.

The basic premise of the game is that you play a person, called a Recursor, who can translate through this mysterious, dark web called the Strange that surrounds our world. All of our myths, legends, stories and tales feed into the Strange can create recursions based upon them. For instance with all of the revitalizing attention that Sherlock Holmes has received in the last few years, there is a recursion called “221B” based upon the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a recursor, you could translate to it, and find yourself living inside the “Sign of the Four” or “Reichenbach Falls”.

This part of my blog is going to be dedicated to detailing the story of the campaign that I am running, stolen from the long-running comic book and movie, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” pays homage to their stories, while working to be new and unique. Let me know what you think in the comments below, like and share on social media, I’ll send you $5… ok, no really, but I’ll love you for it.

Cast of Characters

To be able to follow any story, you need to know who the good guys are, who you are going to support. The game currently has four players, and each of them was tasked with creating a cypher system character, based upon a literary character. Like the comic books and movie, the idea is that, in the Strange, these literary figures have become self-aware and are now working to save not just their world, but the entirety of the Strange. When creating a character in the Strange, there is a simply sentenced that is used “I am an Adjective Noun who Verbs”. This is the basis for every character and gives a whole host of options to make someone unique.

John Clayton “Tarzan.”Tarzan

Taken from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Clayton, or Tarzan as he is best known, is the most physical character of the group. He is direct, blunt and protective of those he is involved with. He is a Strong Vector, who Excels Physically. He was found during his search for the scientist Jane Porter, and because of his new insight into the Strange, translating, recursions and cyphers has come to the notion that Jane may also have been a recursor.

Dr. Victor FrankensteinFrankenstein

Pulled from the pages of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s masterpiece, Dr. Frankenstein is part of the intellectual side of the group. He is a smart, quick, intelligent scientist who fits well into the story. He is a Mad Paradox, who Conducts Weird Science. Tieing into the book, Victor is concerned that his creation may have awakened as he has and has been able to traverse the Strange.

 

Hiro Protagonistmed

From Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” comes the character of Hiro. A counter-culture hero, hacker, and fighter, Hiro brings a skillset to the group that the other characters do not possess, or in some cases may not understand. Hiro is a Lucky Spinner, who Works the System. Despite his computer and technology background, he finds himself, with the others, thrust into Victorian England.

 

 

 

Jay Gatsbyjay gatsby

The final and fourth member of the group is none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. Found nearly dead in the swimming pool of his West Egg mansion, Gatsby is returned to life, and shown how to travel the strange. While the rest of the group is strong, intelligent, crafty and combat inclined, this character brings a social side to the group. Jay is an Appealing Spinner, who Entertains.

 

 

 

“A Portrait of Everyman”

Having not yet been fully formed, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, currently consisting of Tarzan, Dr. Frankenstein and Hiro Protagonist, under the wing of the mysterious Jacob Marlowe, brought together in a Victorian London recursion. They are given a base of operations in the highest levels of Big Ben and allowed to acclimate themselves to the city. One morning. However, Jacob comes to them with a request. The British espionage agency, MI6, has suffered a rash of employee home break-ins and attacks. The most recent, the home of a Mr. Derks was broken into, and a local constable chased the would-be thief through the home and into a closet, where he vanished. The League agrees to investigate it and heads to 1894 Ecclestone Square.

At the home, they interview the constable, one Belfour Bellamy, who explains exactly what he saw, what he did and the results. The aged constable seems quite flustered and upset, as he is now the laughing stock of Scotland Yard for chasing a vanishing thief into a closet. While Hiro continues to interview the Bellamy, Victor and Tarzan enter the home to see what they can find. Following Bellamy’s story, they find the closets, and after Tarzan unceremoniously empties the entire space, they find two footprints in the center of the closet, and no way to escape.

Hiro also enters the home and begins to search the area where the thief was first encountered. As he sifts through shelves of books, he finds a handwritten journal out of place that could very well have been the thief’s target. As he reads through, he discovers that the owner has foolishly documented several names of high ranking members of MI6, including it’s head “M”, who the writer notes as “Mr. Gray.”

It is at this moment that a strange sound can be heard upstairs. Victor and Tarzan investigate the noise to discover a mysterious hooded and masked man climbing out of a window and into the Everymannearby trees. Without hesitating, Tarzan follows him into the trees. Victor rushes downstairs to inform Hiro, who sprints out of the house in hopes of helping Tarzan. Meanwhile, the two men swing through the trees, as the masked man heads for the opposite side of the road and the rooftops of the houses there to escape. Victor tries to slow him down by mentally causing a branch in his grasp to shatter. The masked man is still able to make the eaves of one house and turns to face both Hiro and Tarzan. As they watch, the man grips his wrist, and right before their eyes, splits into two versions of himself. One running to the right, and one to the left.

The two Gentlemen split, following separate copies of the thief. At the corner of the buildings, as the man attempts to swing up to the roof, Hiro draws a pistol and shoots him in the shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ground. Upon hearing the crack of the pistol, Tarzan turns from his prey and runs to help Hiro. Working together they pin the man to the ground.

Back at the house, Victor enters the foyer. There he finds a third copy standing in the room holding the leatherbound journal. He draws his pistol and moves forward, but the man reaches out a gloved hand, and Victor is paralyzed, frozen in place. The man pockets the journal and leaves. As he does, the duplicate, pinned to the ground beneath Tarzan disappears.

The League regroups in the house, discovering a few items, cyphers (unique objects that can perform amazing, one-time effects) on the floor and take them. They head back to Big Ben to report to Jacob what they have discovered.

Jacob seems worried about the story they tell and leaves to search out more information. During this time, Hiro ventures across the city to search for his own at Kensington Gore. There he ties the owner of the home to a prominent MI6 agent known as Mr. Ralph Ansely. When he returns, he finds the Jacob has found credible information that Ansley may be the next target of the masked man. The League is sent to his home to protect him.

Arriving at the home, the League sets to work surveying the security of the home, interviewing Ansley and making a plan to protect him. They decide that Hiro and Tarzan will remain on the first floor hoping to catch the thief, while Victor and Mr. Ansley hide in a basement safe room. Hours pass, as they wait for something to happen.

It is during this time that Mr. Ansley confesses to Victor that while he does not keep documentation of his work at MI6, “M” had entrusted him with a codex for coding system he was creating. Pulling out one of the cyphers they’d found, a vial of purple liquid, Victor speaks telepathically for a short time to Hiro. He explains the oversight, and Hiro heads to the bedroom where the safe is. Upon returning, he finds the masked man standing in the foyer.

It is during this time that a rattle can be heard in the air shaft above the safe room. As they watch, what looks like a coconut, drops onto the floor and begins emitting a gas. Victor grabs Mr. Ansley and forces him out of the safe room.

Upstairs a fight breaks out, as the masked man once again, duplicates himself. Battling against Hiro and Tarzan. In the kitchen, Victor finds himself face to face with a third duplicate of the man.  Tarzan leaves Hiro to face the two opponents and rushes to the kitchen to help Victor. Hiro makes quick work of both, and Tarzan, through brute strength crushes the man to the floor.

The League heads upstairs to defend the safe, only to find their passage blocked by a fourth duplicate. They battle, Hiro stabbing the man through which his sword, and he vanishes, as all of the duplicates have upon death. In the bedroom, they find the bed moved, the carpet pulled back and the safe empty.

With everything was done, and no more leads found to track the mysterious masked man, Jacob brings a sleek carriage to take them home. Inside they are introducted to “M”, Dorian Gray,  who has a task for them, He wants them to take his portrait to a different recursion for safekeeping. He states that they will work with the Implausible Geographic Society to find a suitably safe one. With this information the League is dropped at Big Ben and told to rest up.

19 Years, 2 Months & 26 Days… A look at depression from a male perspective

I started my time in the military on April 1995, that will be twenty years in thirteen days. I wentRobin Williams in Las Vegas from the Marine Corps Reserves to active duty in the U.S. Navy on my birthday, I believed I was making the best decision that I could. I was newly married with a daughter on the way; she’s eighteen, a senior and preparing for college next year.

This post isn’t about the beginning, it’s about the ending. I’ve gone through a lot in those twenty years. I lost a friend to a horrific helicopter crash (rest in peace Eddie), I watched an F-18 Hornet crash into the flight deck of the USS John F. Kennedy, not 30 feet away from me, I’ve fought fires, seen people commit suicide, stood helpless as I watched a young man goes through the worst thing I could think of at the time, and all I could do was be there for him. A lot of the time military service gets divided up into two camps: Those who saw combat and those who did not. I want to tell you that sometimes the support side can be just as tough. In the end, it wasn’t any of those things that hit me the hardest, it was something I have dealt with my whole life: belonging.

The last few months I have had to go through some bouts of glaring honesty, and this is one of them. I have never really felt like I’ve belonged. At times, small moments, I’ve felt the rush of companionship and knowing what it’s like to be a part of the team, but they’ve been just that, moments, fleeting and never with any permanence. The last three years, I think, have been the worst. At the end of my Naval career, when my peers are advancing to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (something I dearly desired, despite what I might say), I was past up every selection season for eight years.

I attempted, with great determination and enthusiasm, to become a Substance Abuse Counselor for the Navy (one of the hardest schools to graduate from). Despite being top of the class academically, I was dis-enrolled because I could not display the emotion they were looking for. It would be that point in my life, that I started to take a seriously hard look at what I was doing and where I was going. This left me heading to the USS Ronald Reagan for my last three years, and it would be this time that would prove the most challenging in spite of everything that I had experienced to date.

I went to this command with a strike already against me: a body weight failure in the bi-annual Kenphysical fitness assessment. Under the current rules, if you fail three of these within a four year period you are separated from active duty. In 2011, I failed my first, and immediately began to work to correct this deficiency. Not only did I change my dietary habits (for a second time in several years), I saw a nutritionist, hired a private fitness instructor and took classes outside of my military requirements. All of this, the most extreme measures aside from surgery, only brought me to just barely passing. When I arrived at the Reagan, the only thing that was taken into consideration was that I had failed once, and it meant I would be a problem for the command.

I continued everything I knew to do, I ate right, I worked out and I did my job. However, the weight still would not come off. In 2012, I had been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a disorder that works hand in hand with several systems of the body. Because I was not getting enough quality sleep, and because of the stress that I was under at work, everything that I was doing to lose weight, was barely touching it. Prior to leaving my last command two medical doctors and my entire chain had agreed to give me a body composition assessment waiver because of these medical issues. When I arrived at the Reagan and gave this to them, I was, to my face, called a liar.

These first impressions, both mine and their’s, would set the stage for the next two years. In the spring of 2013 I asked for a second waiver, as the Navy had failed to provide me with the treatment for my disorder. The Senior Medical Officer for the command had me weighed (at the time I was 251 lbs). He told me that I was a liar, concerning my sleep apnea and difficulties gaining the treatment. The one phrase that has stuck with me to this day is, accompanied with a disgusted sneer, “How could you let yourself get this way?” I felt so ashamed that I walked out of his office. I had previously asked several chiefs in my department to assist me with speaking to him, but each one told me no.

The request for the waiver wasn’t so much to have the opportunity to continue my efforts and pass, but more that the Navy would have been required to send me to a Medical Review Board, where all of my issues would have been addressed and I would have been evaluated for further Naval service. This now left me failing a second physical fitness assessment. I was at my wits end. There were months of days where I went to work, did my job and went home. There were days when I felt like I couldn’t make it any further, and turned to the only solace on the ship: the chapel. Within those darkened walls of solitude, I could break down in tears and anxiety that had built up from the looks that people gave me, or the comments that they made. I could break until I had the strength to shore up my demeanor and go back to work.

I’m not telling you all of this because I want sympathy or advice, or anything from you. I am telling you all of this so that you understand that depression, negative body image, anxiety, and shame are not just things that women or children suffer. Men are just as affected as well. By the end of myo-NEGATIVE-BODY-IMAGE-facebook time on the USS Ronald Reagan and in the US Navy, things had become so bad, that all I wanted was for it to end.  There were days where I had to force myself into uniform and up the brow to work, because if I didn’t, I don’t think I could find the will to keep going on. I would not eat around other people because I felt ashamed by my weight and judged by the sailors around me.

To give an example, a sailor who worked for me had bought a box of girl scout cookies. He offered one to our chief, who accepted and began to eat it. The young sailor then offered me one, being kind. Before I could decline, I saw the chief reach out to stop him, shaking his head at the sailor and saying “No…” Instances like these built upon each other, brick-by-brick, laying a foundation of shame, guilt and anxiety.

February 13th, 2015 was a morning like any other. I got up at 5am, put on my uniform and drove to the ship. I began working at 6:15am (leaders always start the day an hour early or so I was always told). By 9:15am as I was going about my normal routine, I was approached by one of the senior chiefs in my department to talk. As we walked to his office, I tried to turn in my head what the nature of our discussion would be. When we reached the door, I had it nailed down. The message had come from Chief of Naval Personnel, Rear Admiral Bill Moran, that I was to be separated from Naval service within 10 days. On March 5th, 2015 that was what happened, leaving me with a career that had spanned 19 years, 2 months and 26 days per my DD214.

What is interesting about Admiral Moran are these words, as quoted from the Navy Times, “We run into sailors at all-hands calls who stand up and say, ‘I’m a three-time failure,’ and you look at them and go, ‘Pretty sharp. You look good in uniform. You don’t look overweight to me, at a distance,'” and this quote, “There’s no doubt that body shapes have changed in the decades since the Navy wrote its height and weight chart.” As you can see, even the man who ordered my separation doesn’t agree with what the Navy is doing.

As I write this it is 24 March, 2015, I have been a civilian for almost 20 days. I can say, without a depression-quotes-black-and-white-267doubt, that it has drastically improved my mental health. Without the constant judgement from my superiors, without the disgusted looks from my peers and the ever present guillotine blade of the physical fitness assessment hanging over my head, I am improving.  So what exactly is the moral to this story? There isn’t one really, this is my “poison-pen” to the Navy, to the superiors who stood by and did nothing when I begged for their help, to those who turned their back on me when I needed it most. It is my thank you to everyone who stood by me, supported me, and helped me through this. It is a request, to anyone in the military, Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, who feels like there is nothing out there, that it is hopeless, pointless and wants all of it to just end. There is hope.

If you feel this way, please contact one of the following resources:

Military OneSource

Navy Fleet and Family Services South-West

Stigma Fighters

Military Gamers

WHAT TO SAY TO YOUR DEPRESSED FRIEND

Many times people will use phrases like “Stop it, You are lazy, or what’s wrong with you?” because they do not understand depression. Sometimes it is because they see these symptoms in themselves, other times it is because they just do not understand them. When you have someone, be it a Co-worker, a friend or a family member, even a stranger who exhibits these symptoms follow the advice of Stephen Covey, who wrote “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – “5 – Seek first to undertand, then to be understood.” Simply put, listen. Find out where someone is coming from, what they are dealing with, before you judge them. The last year in the Navy I have been dealing with an abundance of senior leadership and officers who too often judge me for what they see, and have never taken a moment to understand what I am going through or what I am dealing with. I’ve dealt with symptoms of depression for nearly two years now. It’s a hard row to hoe, but it can be done with support.

32 Game-Changing Quotes About Love And Life That Will Make You Feel Better, Instantly

Good thoughts, for a good day.

Thought Catalog

ScribeScribe


I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching they are your family.

Jim Butcher


Please know that there are much better things in life than being lonely or liked or bitter or mean or self conscious. We are all full of shit. Go love someone just because, I know your heart may be badly bruised, or even the victim of numerous knifings but it will always heal even if you don’t want it to, it keeps going. There are the most fantastic, beautiful things and people out there, I promise. It’s up to you to find them.

Chuck Palahniuk


Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness.

Anonymous


People don’t like love, they like that flittery flirty feeling. They don’t love love – love is sacrificial…

View original post 1,125 more words