There is nothing more beautiful than strolling through a forest.
The crunch of my feet over a path of fallen leaves. The rich smell of earth. The bright leaves rustling over my head. It calms my racing mind and grounds me in what once was.
It ends far too soon, when my quota runs out and the scene vanishes, replaced by the harsh shine of an underground tunnel, metallic air stinging my nose.
I sigh and press the implant in my temple, logging into my morning meeting. My colleagues appear as if on a round table in front of me. “The simulation is perfect” I say, after a brief good morning, “But why so short?” Five minutes felt like nothing. After so long without nature, that small taste only intensified my longing.
“Well we can’t have people walking through nature simulations all day,” says my boss. He is front and centre of our digital round table. “Nothing will get done.”
I’m not sure what needs to get done. After we destroyed the earth and raced to build an underground fortress, the only thing that needed doing, was to wait and see if nature would heal. “People are going to want more than five minutes.”
“Yes, exactly,” he replies, and everyone else at the digital table nods in agreement. “Free sample, to convince them to buy.”
“How much?” I say.
He shrugs his narrow shoulders “Hundred a minute.”
I clench my jaw, biting back anger. Greed got us here in the first place, and yet it’s still rampant. “Sir, don’t you think it should be accessible to everyone?”
“No,” says a collogue to my right. “Why should it? It’s a luxury, not a necessity.”
A luxury that used to be free, I think, but that doesn’t matter much, anymore. This is the new reality, and I have to adjust. Employee discount is the best I can hope for “Right,” I say, “And how much for us?”
“Complimentary half hour every day,” says my boss. “After that, you get half price.”
That was good enough for me. I zone out for the rest of the meeting. I only took this job for the nature simulation. There are a variety of landscapes available: Beaches, fields, parks and cities. But I always come back to the forest. It was my favourite place ten years ago. Now it can be, again.
I think about it all day and night, until I can wake up early in the morning and turn on my half-hour of forest landscape, walking through the cold tunnels as if it’s a brisk fall day, feeling a fresh breeze instead of stale air. Only a simulation, but it feels so real.
There is nothing more beautiful than strolling through a forest.
Describe Your Characters
I don’t know if this view will be met with disapproval, but I feel like I’m in the minority when I say, I want good character descriptions. The trend in modern day fiction is to be sparse with the descriptions, if you use any at all. But that method always leaves me a bit dissatisfied. It’s not like I want big long descriptions done via mirror cliché. But I want enough that to be able to picture the characters. Enough so that each character doesn’t just end up looking the same as any other in my mind. A good description will help me remember a character. Good descriptions will help me see a group of distinct and unique characters, instead of a group that all look kind of the same in my mind.
I don’t want grey characters who are essentially a blank canvas for me to fill in. I want unique and quirky characters with memorable looks. I think, sometimes, writers leave descriptions sparse so that the reader can insert themselves into the main character. It goes hand in hand with the bland main character trend. But I don’t want to insert myself into the main character, I want to read about a character that is distinct and unique. They don’t have to be like me to be interesting. They don’t have to be like me to be relatable. Describing a character gives them life. Leaving them a blank canvas, makes them boring.
Broken is often a temporary state. A broken body heals if set the right way. Same with a broken mind. Although sometimes the braking is beyond repair, I'd say the more constant state of humanity is scarred, like the jagged lines on a mended vase. We can function and move on, but the marks of each break follow us everywhere.
Time Travel Failure
Four minutes in, and I knew I had made a colossal mistake. What was I thinking, deciding to kill this child with such… crude tactics? Even knowing what he’d grow up to be, I hesitated, frozen with a glinting knife trembling at his neck, unable to complete the deed. The door to the room slammed open, a dozen rough hands grabbed me and wrenched the knife from my grip. Hitler would live because of me, I thought, as the blade sliced across my own throat.
Are They So Powerful?
Lately, it’s hard to think of my words as powerful. Maybe coming from the right person, in the right context, they can be powerful. But in my experience; trying to tell healthcare workers over and over again what’s wrong, all the places it hurts, all the painful fatigue, how overwhelming it all is, those words often seem to fall on deaf ears.
I mean, sure, some of them listen, but as soon as they choose not to, it’s as if my words lose all value. All voice. Then, no matter how many times I say something, no matter how many different ways, no matter if I write it down or say it verbally, my words can’t seem to penetrate their jaded indifference.
My words feel powerless.
I was supposed to be asleep. But I’m wide awake and can’t move or scream, as I hear the buzz of a surgical bone saw.
A Mistake only a Cave Man Would Make
“What the hell did I do? I dropped the meat in the fire!”
Snatches it out and gives it a whiff.
“Hum, actually doesn’t smell that bad.”
Takes a small bite.
“Son of a lioness, that’s good!”
Roasting the silver lining.
As my world burned, I roasted a marshmallow. Hey, You gotta make the best out of a bad situation, right?
Very Practical Ways to Cure Cabin Fever
1. Dampen a cloth with cool water and place it on your forehea… wait, wrong kind of fever.
1a. Dig a series of tunnels under your house. Maybe throw a bomb shelter in there while you’re at it. Why not? You have nothing else to do. All those underground tunnels will make it feel like you’re in another world without leaving the vicinity of your home. Maybe you’ll even find a secret society of dwarves.
2. You can go down, but you could also go up. Into the sky with tree-houses and catwalks and all kinds of phobia-inducing fun. If you’re scared sh*#less all the time, you won’t be bored!
3. Or if those things are too adventurous for you, you could just stay inside and shrink down to the size of an ant. Make sure to fill your bathtub before you do it, and install tiny ladders on all the stairs and counters before you shrink. Now you have your own obstacle course and giant swimming pool. Food will last forever and suddenly your house won’t feel so tiny and cramped.
4. Or if you prefer to keep your original size, you could harness that sci-fi power to travel to different dimensions. Maybe in some alternate world, your house is a mansion, or your backyard is filled with dinosaurs that never went extinct. There are endless possibilities. You won’t ever be bored, again!
5. Speaking of Dinosaurs, what about good old-fashioned time-travel? You can go back to the Cretaceous, Palaeolithic, Ice Age and more. Or jump forward and see what your house looks like in the future. Time will fly in every sense of the word!
In No Particular Order (or age)
1. I began to write before I could read...
Okay, not really. I scribbled on a page what I thought looked like writing, then showed it off to my mother. I actually thought I had written something, because it looked just like the scribbles I’d seen on paper, so I asked her what it said. I wanted to know what brilliant thing I had written in my scribbles. She just laughed and said, “it doesn’t say anything.”
Guess I really wanted to write.
Okay, real answer… I don’t know exactly. Ten at the latest. I would write journals in school, I wrote a short story called, “the haunted hotel”, and sort of half started another one about a girl who falls through a hole into a fantasy dimension. And I wrote a story about killing a giant that my teacher kept saying was too violent. Guess she’d never watched the Power Rangers.
Don’t remember what age I was for all of these, though. Relatively young.
2. Writing gives me an escape, the same way reading does. It’s an outlet, a form of expression, and a skill to get lost in. Immersion into anything I enjoy is a way to step outside myself and leave all the raging thoughts and doubts going on in there.
3. This one is pretty standard. I want to publish something that sells. Something that people can get lost in the way I get lost in my favourite books. Specifically, I have a working series I would like to publish one day. Sometimes, that feels out or reach. I wish my imagination could escape all my physical, ah, troubles, but it’s a struggle. Sometimes even reading is difficult. Still, the dream is there, however far away it may seem, most days.