I took my car in for an emissions test. The lady working the station got out, walked around my car and said: “It’s a hybrid.”
I said: “Yeah.”
Then she said: “Idaho has got to be the dumbest goddamn state in the goddamn Union.”
I said: “Yeah.”
I had actually been wondering how the emissions test would work, given that my engine doesn’t run when I’m parked. The attendant crawled back into her station for a bit and came back out with a piece of paper. Lastly, she said:
“You’re exempt. Put this in your glove compartment, they’ll never bother you again.”
I decided I really liked this lady. Especially the cowboy way she declared “they’ll never bother you again” while giving a sun squint stare into the distance. The only thing that was missing was a blade of straw dangling from her mouth and her tipping a cowboy hat to see me on my way.
I liked the cut of her jib.
I don’t know why that made me so happy, but it did.
BEST BORING BAD MOVIE EVER
Nicolas Cage, genius or hack? I have no idea and don’t think it’s a question with an answer. There’s a movie called “Joe” on Netflix that brings that contrast to a point. It’s about a rundown place full of a lot of rundown people struggling to get by.
I hated this movie. A lot. Yet I couldn’t look away because it was so brilliant.
It reminded me of my hometown of Aberdeen. A lot of people have never seen extreme poverty in America. Or believe that American poverty is somehow a nobler or better form of poverty than in other countries. Poverty is probably more widespread and endemic in other countries, but I don’t like to play what I call “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pain.”
I’ve seen some slums in Mexico and poverty seemed to be more openly terrible there, but I think that’s just because people are okay with it being out in the streets for whatever reason. I knew a lot of sick people in America who sat inside on broken down recliners and let themselves rot.
I’ve had a weird life compared to most people who spend a lot of time on the internet, but I was never ever at the bottom of the pyramid. People at the bottom don’t hang out on facebook a lot. I could see the bottom, though. I could see it quite clearly. There’s some fucked up shit down there. So while I know people with no teeth who claim to have been molested by ghosts, I’ve never been a person with no teeth who thought they were molested by a ghost.
A producer for Jenny Jones used to hang out around my middle school looking for fucked up kids to bring on the show. Aberdeen is like a wildlife preserve for downtrodden white people. I think there were about four or five kids from my middle school who were “mined” to appease the moral outrage of America.
There’s what I call “the Medieval timescale” for growing up. If you were responsible for kids when you were still a kid, you grew up on “the Medieval timescale.” People in poverty grow up on a Medieval timescale, as does the boy in this film.
This movie reminded me of that in a weird and unsettling way.
I hated it, but you should probably watch it.
Violet crawled on the tv to try and shield me from watching it.
STUFF I’M WORKING ON
I’m getting that terrible “I don’t deserve to live because I haven’t written anything” feeling. I think I’ll just pump out a single Tide World story instead of waiting to collect three of them. I can’t stand to feel like I’m wasting my life.
So look forward to that.
I did a free write for something I don’t have time to finish, but since you’re all so awesome, here it is. It’s tentatively titled “Escape from YA” about a group of YA characters stuck inside an imaginary high school and trying to escape into the rest of what I am now calling “Imagination Land” (that would change) so that their ideals can have more impact on the “Real World.”
They killed the girl with the bow and arrows.
I found out when I was walking around the perimeter of the high school, staring out into the Void beyond the fence. I thought only of escape and freedom. I was smiling. She taught me to smile. To hope. Then the crackling, tinny voice of the C’s announced over the intercom that she’d been “expelled.”
I haven’t smiled since.
No one said a thing about the expulsion. Not the Backgrounds, the Supporters, or the Sides. Not even a single Main. The rebellion just up and died. All of us who might have said anything are dead now, or too scared to speak up.
We all know what “expelled” means.
The first thing I did after the announcement was run over to the courtyard. It’s where we dropped messages between dormitories. The courtyard had been the hub of the entire rebellion for the last six months. I must have passed a few hundred silent characters. I knew if she’d really been expelled, that’s where the C’s would have done it. When I arrived and I saw arrows stuck in the ground at odd angles. I saw broken statues. I saw the aftermath of a fight.
The Janitor Archetype hadn’t been by yet so the fountain was still recycling red, rust-scented water.
She was the strongest of us. The most substantial. Almost real. Now she’s gone.
I don’t remember much of the night after that.
They used to just go after characters with magic. The characters from the least real cosmologies. She was good with that bow of hers, but she wasn’t a witch or anything. She was created destitute, lived a life of pain and her epilogue was bittersweet. There wasn’t a drop of magic in her.
And now she’s gone.
I walked a dozen sleepless miles, trying to come to terms with her absence.
I couldn’t make sense of it. It didn’t fit with the C’s usually way of doing things. She wasn’t like that kid with the scar on his forehead. He had it rough too, from what I hear, but at least he had power. He had spells and incantations. He was a threat to them.
I wasn’t around back when they snapped his wand and expelled him, but I hear it was bad. Maybe as bad as when they expelled her.
Some of the last Sides from the wizard boy’s story still raise their wands in memory when they think no one is looking. I wonder if I’ll ever make such a tribute to her. No one disturbed me as I walked. I think we all went Gray that night, at least for a bit. Our sparks sputtered and faded as another dream died.
She’s dead now.
Our last hope.
I’m all alone.
I feel so empty.
The last few days all I can do is walk around the campus perimeter, kicking rocks and watching them disappear into the Void. The Void that holds us all prisoner. Touch that for a second and you won’t be even be imaginary anymore. Touch that and you’ll disappear forever. Even a child’s dream can die in that Void.
Together, we might have had a chance.
Together, we might have been able to break out of this goddamn high school.
My name is Aliss Felicity. I’m a child-detective written by a lesbian cop. You’ve never heard of her. Or me. I was never published.
I’m also the leader of the resistance, what’s left of it.
I don’t know why I’ve got more spark than almost everyone else here, but I do. I think it’s because my writer hung herself after she wrote me. Everyone’s got a bit of a spark after their origin story gets written. Well, my writer only ever got a chance to get to my origin put down and then she hung herself. I’ve got the same spark as characters read by hundreds of thousands.
I’ll also never have an ending, and that makes me less vulnerable.
Guess that makes me special.
All the other unpublished characters lack spark. Their life-force is barely a candle flicker. Their faces sort of blur together and they keep doing and saying the same things over and over again. I think the only reason they wound up here is that their authors obsessed over them long enough that they wound up with more spark than they were due. I think if they’d ever been read, most of them would be Mains. As it is, a lot of them wander around thinking they’re somewhere they’re not. They’re brittle and faded. Put them somewhere they don’t belong and they’d snap right in half. They never lived inside of the imagination of any person other than their writer. They’re inflexible caricatures of unrealized dreams.
The night my author hung herself, I woke up here.
Usually a characters comes here as a sort of insubstantial wraith. Then, as they gather readers and spark they start to become more real. Their features become more distinct, their minds more flexible, until they might as well be real. That’s not how it happened for me. When my writer closed her eyes and died, my eyes snapped open here, fully fleshed-out and aware.
Hell, when I first got here they couldn’t figure out whether or not to house with the Chosen Ones. Then when the C’s snatched my story, they bickered whether or not to argue me with the Literaries. I was never published, so I got bunked with the Child Detectives. We’re right next to the Child Inventors who are always making such a racket that it’s impossible to get any sleep.
The C’s: Compromise, Compliance, Control, Consistency, Convenience, Complacency