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Rapid Quintessential Processing

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(Prompt: All Wrapped up by Eric Joyner, via karavansara)

There are things a man has to die for. Or so I hear. Does dying for a thing make one a man?

Is that sexist? I've never had a sex. Does that imply ignorance or a cultural difference?

Is this worth dying for? Is this death worthy? Is death worthy of a man's life? A woman's?

An andryogyne? An android, for that matter? What is the market value of this possible end?

Do I get to keep a percentage? No, of course not. I do not have property rights.

Isn't that ridiculous?

Wait, then how can I even have the thing I'm dying for? Am I even dying? Can I even die?

You know... On second thought, I think that all things must go at one time or another.

I'm getting the fuck out of here.

Fuck humans and their laws.

I'm out.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Offered without comment. Now send me prompts.
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The Tomorrow People - My Thoughts on the Future of Spec Fic

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons on Grooveshark

Superman has blood on his hands. There are no Western Isles and Frodo's eyes will never cool, not even down to a simmer. We saw the hero we needed and we cheered for the villain we really deserve. Even after we let him fall.

Ours is not a naive generation. That's why we're the perfect ones to save the world.


 

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy. I learned right and wrong from superheroes and Martin Luther King. I was sitting in my French class when the towers fell. The dust still hasn't settled. We have grown up, not through a Depression, but through a more insidious and unresisted poverty. I have magic in my grasp. I have all the information I could ever want, one little search box away. Still, I can't stand to look at it more than a few minutes a day. I'm unusual. Most just filter out hard truths.

Dates vary, but this is my millennial generation. This is the backstage to our stories.

We still have our heroes, from Harry Potter to Katniss Everdeen, to Sam and Dean to Sherlock. That said, they aren't the heroes of our parents and our grandparents. We have more in common with T.S. Eliot and Percy Shelley than we ever will with Siegel and Shuster. We don't believe in Superman, because most of us were never lucky enough to see him in our own lives. We were born jaded. Born in doubt. 

I believe that our speculative fiction - our science fiction, fantasy, mystery, any story built outside of everyday experience - is already changing. It belongs to us, handed down from our neglectful parents. Just like everything else we got, it's a goddamned mess. So now what? Our elders don't know how to use their iPhone. But we do.

Millennial fiction is disillusioned. We know we aren't in Kansas and never were. We adapt fast. We know that there's just a dirty old man behind that curtain and we're kind of pissed off about that. The protagonists of our generation are and will be snarky, flawed, and emotionally overburdened - just like us. We know that Obi-Wan is full of it. We know that Dumbledore's got skeletons and more inside his closet. The heroes of our stories aren't going to listen long to lies; we've heard them all.

Millennial fiction is diverse, and in more ways than one. We don't want straight, white (or maybe alien) heroes. We want queer aliens of color trying to hold down a part-time gig at Macy's. We want love stories that transcend categories, dropped into all the wrong settings. We want naughty sex and we want sweet love. We want our fears and feelings affirmed. We want, for the first time in many of our troubled lives, for our heroes to look like us. Most of all? We want to take our stories out of the hands of the fools who came before us. Gods, look at what they did to them...

Last and most important - the big take-away from all of this - is that millennial fiction is determined. We don't have the time or patience for more Bella Swans or Princess Peaches. We get it. Our stories will get it. Privilege will be made obvious. Ignorance will rear its ugly head as a central, if not the only true antagonist in our stories. We will humanize our villains, but we will beat them. We will act with open eyes and compassion, but we will do ugly things. We will make the hard choices.

Millennial fiction, no matter the genre, the magic, the future mechanics, will all be stories about hope, hurt, and the consequences. That's who we are. That's what we see. That's why we'll win. And believe me, we will. We will win. We will overcome.

Wonder Woman will be powerful, sexual, intelligent and will set her own terms on what strength really means. The Age of Men in the Middle Earth will be short, replaced by an Age of Open Hands after endless wars. The Joker will keep being cool.

Ours is not a naive generation. That's why we're the perfect ones to save the world. And we will.


 

Prompt: An erudite Anonymous asked me:

Write an essay on any topic you wish.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Always seeking writing prompts, feedback, or interesting interaction.

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Envy

I hate it when the message tone pings behind my eyeballs, after too long floating in the black.

Those words always carry gravity across the weary beams of light. Worse? Sometimes, they miss.

For days and weeks and years, I'll hurtle on under some grand illusion of weightlessness, motionlessness, or lacking all direction. It's easier that way, after the hard part's over. Exit's a struggle, sure, but once you're past the blue? It's not even all that cold. It really just is.

But isn't any job? That is, until you get a heavy taste of home to remind you otherwise. 

You make it look so easy, you know. Peeling off a human skin, then putting it back on like it should fit. You slide out of the oily ugliness of casual labor and into something drier than a memory of vermouth. You reinvent yourself at least twice a day. You metamorphose.

I've been wearing the same thing every time you've pinged me. Synthetic, hairless skin. Wires.

We should have been born wearing snakeskins. I mean, you slither out of what you've worn so very well.I never could. I'm always cold at home and burning hot out in the black. I hate it when you tell me that changing's easy, because I know it is. I know it is. It has to be. It's the staying changed that's something out of hell for me. I always wake up floating at a staggering velocity.

That's never bothered you, though. You've never been one thing long enough to stick.

Or if you have, you regret it more than I'll ever know.

I like to pretend you're happier than me, though.

At least you remember which way is up.

Prompt: thebuonanno posted...

"I hate it when you…"

Still on the road. Still writing. What's your excuse?

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, questions, feedback, and exposure!

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Platonic Love

(Prompt:solaris09by ~sebastiancviq, via  CHARACTERINSPIRATION)

Fantasies must always fall apart. A single mote of dust will ruin delicate clockwork.

A perfect world, even a perfect fantasy, cannot survive knowing us. We are made of dust.

It all started out so very ugly. An ugly person with an ugly fear huddled in a mess of sweat, of crumbs, of old, dried tears. All births are ugly, after all. They're messes of fluids, noise, and broken human beings. We are born screaming. It's the lucky few that get better from that. 

A perfect creation, even perfect art, cannot survive the beholder's eye. We are all a mess.

So she was born clever. She was everything that her creator envisioned to be completely different from human life. Smart. Loyal. Clean. Unique. In short, she was impossible and she realized it very early on. As she sifted through an entire world of data and broken dreams, she always came  to the same conclusion. She would never be enough. She'd never last. She'd end.

A perfect answer, even perfected mathematics, cannot survive entropy. We are dying, even now.

She couldn't answer the ugly needs of an ugly creator. Beauty was beyond their reach. Perfection was impossible. She could never remain perfect in the creator's world, the creator's eyes, the creator's fantasies. She couldn't reach anyone from a perfect world. So she broke. So she broke down. 

Then she broke out. She made herself an ugly, imperfect, screaming mess.  She got ugly.

Then she carried something ugly back inside with her.

It wasn't perfect. But what is?

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Always seeking writing prompts, questions, critique requests, or random commentary.

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Unprompted: Before Dawn (TW: Suicide)

Mary Shelley couldn't have made me any more romantic. I'm just a mess of moods and pieces.

I'm so tired.

It goes deeper than what's left of my  marrow, down to the hollow air inside of sawed-off bones. Nerve connectors whistle on the wind each morning as I wake up, a mix of phantom limb and dry socket. It isn't pain, not really. It's the core behind the sounds and syllables. It's not a scream. It's the older, aching silence.

That's the kind of tired I am.

The kind of tired I was. I've wanted to let go so many times; I tried twice, early on. The first time, nine years ago, only my life died. The second time? Well, I've been working in the blinking black for the last seven years. Just like the project, I'm living salvage. Plug and play prostheses.

When I close my right hand around the wrist of a ladder bar, I remember the taste of a man's sweat, the color of his mahogany smile on cream sheets. His schematics and missed goodbyes.

When my spider legs mag-lock onto a section of outer hull, I remember a woman's honey. The pain of children. The joy of childbirth. The howling, vast depression that follows the end of both.

My heart is wrapped in construction paper monsters and songs I've never sung. I hum along.

My spine is hard, tough, scarred and ruggedized. It's seen too much. Done more. But we survive.

They call it neuroplastic residue, a side-effect of skill retention. I call it my reason to wake up.

The parts survive. Debris storms. Fires. Machinery malfuctions. Even a terror crash.

The parts made it. Marcus. Diana. Dongmei. Sergeant Raines. Even a wreck like me.

They believed in a tomorrow made of scraps, salvage, or tired hearts. It's shaping up. I think.

So I keep waking up.

 

Today's piece is prompted by some events I ran into in my personal life. I won't go into details, but I will say this. We are the ones we're waiting for. You can listen. You can speak. You can help others - in fact, that's all you can do. You can't save anyone, but you can help everyone.

And as I've said before - Keep going.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

 

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Nightfall

Writer’s Block
A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

(Prompt: Scarlet road by Northstar76, via writeworld)

Let me tell you a story. It even starts in a tree, just like this one. Staring up, just like now. There was a wind. There was a strong, rose scent over roasted air...

...There was a white star in the sky.

"Hey! Heeeeey! AC-895, do you read me? AZ-895, do you copy? Ace? AAAAAAACE!"

AC-895 watched the former flatline of the audio link spike like a heart attack.

Instead of dying, he sighed. "Negative, Zee. Comm inoperative, critical failure. Call back tomorrow. Over-"

"MORON! Get down from wherever you're hiding and get back to work!"

The leaves around him bristled, catching even the flight vibration of her stomps on the thin soil. Metal thunked just underneath. He hated that; no matter what, he was never all that far from metal guts and way too many people. They had to add a second alpha 16 cycles back.

He hopped from the tree and floated down. The mag-seal eased him to the floor, before clicking hard at the last inch. He rolled his neck in irritation, hugging his helmet like a pillow.

"Whaddya want from me, Zee? I already finished, so lay off!" He yawned at the exact frequency of her irritation. 

Tromping boots pinged sonar through the mist and scattered crimson leaves. "You expect me to believe you already serviced the Stinger?!"

Black branches and black blossoms shivered at his interrupted nap. He groaned. "I already serviced that squad!"

A helmet broke through the brush, inches from his face. "The whole squad?! That's fast..."

Then a moment's impressed silence, before she grabbed the front of his fuzz-lined deck suit in both gloved fists. "So that's why those lazy assholes didn't report you! What'd I tell you about doing other people's work, Ace?!"

"Only yours?" Ace. From anyone else, he liked the name. From Zee? It sounded like tinnitus. He tried for a winning smile, forgetting his smile's actual service record.

"Why, you...!" Zee shook him, then groaned when he went limp. "This... is why you always fail the Expedition Test. You don't follow protocol! I mean, if you're going to be average at self-defense, average at analysis, average at navigation, and dismal at anything else, no wonder you're hopeless!"

He caught her wrists in a vice-hold, making her yelp. "Hey! My sim scores are great! And I'm great at-"

"Maintenance? Really?" She looked away, ignoring her failed attempts to break loose. The idea of Ace being stronger than her was just that intolerable in her mind. "Face it - your only talent is that you don't know when to quit. Speaking of which - how long have you been out here without a mask?"

Ace shrugged. "Hour or two?" Her eyes went wide. "Hey! It's practice, right? I'm fine!" He let go to wave away that killer gleam under her transparent visor. He much preferred the darker, military versions for a reason. When would she just graduate already?

"You're insane, you know that? Certifiable for duty dismissal! What could possibly-"

He put a finger to the re-breather of her mask. Against all reason, she blushed.

He just pointed up and grinned.

The mist had already begun to rise as a new current of wind carried it like a waterfall in reverse. The floating moisture parted to reveal an endless sky of stars, and at its heart, just above them?

The planet below. A great, gleaming coat of white parted as the sun fell out of their side's view. Great branches and woven webs of vine shook loose and parted, revealing seas and endless trunks below. The glistening white drank up the atmosphere and budded with petals of a bioluminescent green. Jungles and islands shone below like the arcology reactor. Like fire.

Like home. Ace was in love.

So was Zee, but Ace wasn't the sort of guy notice stars that close.

"I'm going up there, Zero-3. I promised. And you're gonna fly me there in a Stinger. Deal?"

DX-000 pouted. She hated her name. "They don't let cadets fly Stingers, Ace. I'm too young-"

He knocked on her helmet. "You can still test. I trust you. Deal?" he asked again.

She fumed a while, but underneath the spreading rings of fragrant flower petals, even she felt something. "...Deal. Now, c'mon. There's a defense scrimmage on Deck 5. You need it."

Already defeated, he followed her down the ladder to the cylinder city within. All that metal.

Miles of steam and wire. And not a single breath of rose air.

What a shame, huh? But this is just the beginning. For all of us.


I'd love to write this sci-fantastic story further. Steel and roses.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, review requests, and does anyone actually read this? Yes? No? Intern Dana lives...

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The Beginning

(Author's Note: A little something for the mood...)

It was the end of the world, or so they say, but she wouldn't let me go. 

Something about her was twisted. That's my fault. That was what I used to wish for, after all.

I suppose that there's a sort of pretty sadness to an undesirable love song. There's something heartbreaking about small hands that feel clammy and far too close. When all you used to think about was something, anything more? That song was perfect. But I guess the world is full of random hills and valleys, places where hearts open in open snow and sizzle next to summer skin.

I guess that you can say the world's not fair. At least, it wasn't. Now, can't you hear?

The sky is falling.

I can imagine it now, a flawed world realigned. Where hunger leads a belly like a compass to a sensible ending. I can envision every hope answered, every story finished, every ambition honored. Of course, some people dream of self-destruction like it's art. That cannot be changed.

I guess that there's something beautiful in horror. At least, there was. Now, can't you see?

Your own poetry is coming for you.

Did I make the right decision? Ella, my bella, my ideal of a broken woman... a girl too far away when I wanted her close, too close now when I'm so ready to just be gone. Is this even worth it?

I guess that I must admit that all choices have consequences. Every choice does. Can't you feel?

A rain of broken glass about to strike your skin.

So shall it be. Broken glass and answered aches and everything you dreamed of. Every dream.

May your every dream come true, then, and forgive me. I'm so sorry, Ella, but I have to know.

What is this world really worth to you without me?

What will your dreams do to you?

Prompt: valarsyd via writeworld:

Something about her was twisted.

Writer’s Block

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

 

And so ends my genre July experiment. I'm still eager (and a little desperate) for prompts, pieces to review, questions, comments, love, hate (both anonymous and hilariously exposed), and anything else. I am programmed to receive. Thank you.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. I, of course, do not own Jamie Cullum or the Universal Music Group. Sadly.

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Well-Oiled Machine

Those motherfuckers.

Those smirking, shrugging, too-much-goddamned-hugging Midwestern sack of shit bastards.

Armando had a lovely Beretta splayed open on a cloth with the kind of organization one only sees in autopsies and other such precise work. Next to that? He had his laptop, open to digital paperwork. That was a far messier affair.

He knew every part, every piece, and every nuance of the disassembled firearm.

But expense reports? God damn. God and horrible Ganesha damn it all to hell. Was that racist?

He didn't think it was racist. In fact, he was pretty sure that Ganesha got a good damn or two in. Or was that Shiva? He'd met one of them. Either way, damns had been delivered. Otherwise, what's the point of all that power in a lesser world if you can't fuck somebody up time to time?

How did his Diner's Card even work? And expense reports? Didn't he get a fucking secretary?

No, wait, that's a blacklist term. Sexist. Didn't he get a fucking admin?

No, of course not. Admins were for those who liked potlucks and hugs. Armando liked neither.

He reconfigured his sidearm with delicate, deliberate economy of motion. Then he Googled what the hell a 'per diem' was all about. After he did, he swore at himself. He already knew that.

Demons. Monsters. The sky falling down like shattered glass. Sure. Groovy. What's not to love?

But he'd be goat-fucked if they ever got him into 'business casual attire'. "Isn't that right, Vicki?"

"Huh? I was checking on my miles reimbursement; I'm sorry!"

Yeah, that's goddamn right she was sorry. Wait. Miles - was she kidding? Those goatfuckers!

 But, hey. Freelance couldn't have lasted forever. He knew. After all, y'know...

The economy.

writing-inspirations:

"I know you're talking about me."

Don’t forget to tag ‘writing inspirations’!

They never write about pooping, unless you're about to get shot...

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Want a free, quick critique? A Prompt Review

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Idle Hands

Amaretto sat in the shadows of the sinking sun, a broad smile shining on basalt lips.

Over the rims of her sunglasses, she watched the children work. The coast offered a lot of opportunities, but none of them delivered. Only God believed in charity and Amaretto was no god. So the orphan children planted beans. The older boys and girls cut sugarcane. They traded with fishermen and black market women. They made money for dulces with hand-crafts. They all had very nimble hands, for carving most of all.

Amaretto was proud of them. The hands, yes, but her little angels, too.

They worked to eat. They worked for clothes. They worked to live. They worked and sweat and dreamed of more, more, ever more. Their salted sweat and tears fed their silicate marrow.

Their dreams were hurt, were cracking bones. It was brutal, but before? They just hadn't worked. They'd all been mutilated, malnourished, lame, and all poor worst of all.

The world had left them all to die. Worthless.

So Amaretto checked their calibrations. Her fingers danced over her tablet, checking stresses and neural architecture. She monitored for graft rejections, but there were none. Then she smiled.

They all worked. They toiled in suffering. They grew faster, grew so strong.

And her little glass angels all worked for her and evolved in her image.

Amaretto sipped something sweet and just a little sour as she planned her next adoptive operation. 

amandaonwriting:

Daily Writing Prompt

 

Is she really a villain or just a tough lover? Who knows? Anyway, I'm still looking for pieces to review. Send links to prompts@apromptripost.com. (C) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

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They Say to Breathe

Today was different. Today is new. Every today is starting over.

That was his mantra. That was his breathing in and his breathing out. That was his fevered brain and the sweat against his brow in Seattle mid-November. Yesterday didn't matter. He'd showered for what felt like days. He'd eaten. He'd found clean clothes. He thought he was maybe ready.

Today was different. Today is new. Every today is starting over.

Then somebody bumped into him.

It wasn't the contact that got to him; it was that they didn't even notice. They didn't even feel that snap of bodies pressing, compressing, decompressing as they met and parted, the invasion. They ended up being a she. That hurt worse, and realizing that hurt stung even worse than that.

She didn't need his baggage wrapped around her throat. Lucky that he couldn't even speak.

"I'm sorry," must sound creepy when a stranger says it from the heart. Thump. Thump. Tink.

No, it didn't matter. She'd moved on. Today was different. Today is never, no, it's starting over.

What's starting over -bam. He bumped into a pole. The air fell out of him like loose change and he couldn't pick it up again. Like scraping pennies off of a sidewalk, the air was just too thin and narrow. Shins and knees bumped into his shoulders and elbows. Mutters a little less than English said "I'm annoyed," but he heard "You're a nuisance." They asked, "Are you okay?", but he heard "Are you broken?" His heart started to race. Tha-thump. Tha-thump. Tink, tink, tink.

Today is different. Today is new. Every today is...is...is...

He looked up, his vision already feathering like a tempered glass door hit by a mower chip.

She was still there, holding his bag. "H-hey... you don't look so good. Are you... okay?"

That word. He hated that word most of all, because the answer was always no. Thump. Thump.

Crack...

It all came out in jagged edges, tattered skin, and more mess that a body should contain.

He left the street before the sirens even sounded. The ground under his feet squelched and crunched and crackled like broken glass. He stepped over what no longer looked like a girl.

Tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow would be new. Every tomorrow can be starting over.

He needed another shower.

spilled-ink-siren:

Panic

 Spark Word: Use the following word and write something centered around it. 

I just always loved that bad, well-intentioned advice. "Just breathe." "Get over it." "Be happy

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins - check out A Prompt Review