Monday, November 28, 2016

Mountainside: Part Two

“Do you have my location?”
No answer.  After another long pause, “Location?”
“Yes.  We’ve got you sixty meters from the entry point.”
Arlo looked at his surroundings.  There wasn’t much room to maneuver the side of the cliff.  He took a good look at the mountainside and determined the location of the entry.  He had two options.  One was a straight ascent up the cliff and a difficult lateral path.  The other was a more jagged diagonal climb to the point. 
“Do you have a strategy, A-1?” said a voice from his communicator.
“Yeah Furmin, 63 up 12 over.”
This was not going to be his path.  Any time Arlo gave any information to the Pacifics he made damn sure to give some misdirection. He had little trust in them, even though they saved him and his crew.  Something didn’t seem right.  He did enjoy the equipment he was provided, though.  A nice Chamo suit kept him invisible on the ascent.  The body suit he was wearing blended him into the cliffside perfectly, and his communicator was cloaked with ancient radio frequencies that could easily be encrypted and hidden.
Arlo moved up the jagged mountain carefully and inched his way to his target.  Three hours into this careful mission, it was a game of patience and a journey of tiny moves.  He knew he was off his planned course, and within seconds…
“You’re off course, A-1. “
“This takes time and care, Furmin.”
Furmin was the communications and tech officer back at camp.  Her real name was Minnie Furlong, and she made it her personal mission to be Arlo’s pain in the ass.  Her bob-and-shave haircut immediately made him groan the first time they met at the rescue of his ship, the Fenix. 
“Be careful, A-1.  Watch out for kickers.  Furmin out.”
Arlo was relieved at this.  Micromanagement had been a part of his life for so many years, and it was nice to hear the queen of nitpicking had let him do his work.  Arlo estimated there were about forty five meters left until he reached his goal. 
Minnie was right, there were probably kickers in the mountain he needed to watch out for.  He had never seen a kicker in real life, but had heard some stories from the Pacifics and some of his fellow officers.  One soldier had stepped on one during a mission to Tokyo and blew his leg off.  Another climbed a mountain in South America and accidentally tapped on one when he was nearly at the top of a waterfall, only there to get intel on the area from an elevated perspective. 
Arlo noticed a spot on his current path that looked tampered with, and not exactly natural.  He activated his glance goggles.  They indicated to him a kicker charge, but could not detect the strength of it. It was five meters to his left and one meter up.  Go under it, he thought.  Give yourself a couple meters leeway.  He analyzed it, and if this was the only kicker within ten meters, he could scoot under it and then ascend directly.
“90 minutes, A-1. We have to plant and roll.”
This irritated Arlo.  He was not one to be reminded of the situation constantly, nor did he need play-by-play.  As careful a mission as this was, he just needed some silence to get the job done. He proceeded to do a lateral climb and give himself two meters of free space so as not to trigger the kicker, or any other item.  He was aware security measures such as cameras and radar were all around, and the only equipment keeping him hidden were the radio, Chamo, and his own careful movements. 
There was radio silence for another forty minutes, and this is all the time Arlo needed to get to the designated entry point.  From here, it was no longer a matter of careful steps on a cliff, it was about planting the bomb and timing an escape that didn’t result in death or disaster.  Arlo took a deep breath and prepared.  The Chamo went down the side of the mountain, the communicator was set on fire, and the glance goggles were turned off and buried in a pile of debris at the entry.  Arlo was only left with a dressy outfit, and the destruction of the communicator was a signal to the Pacifics that he had reached his destination safely.
The last radio transmission came from A-1. “I’m in. Let it go.”

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Late 2016

It's been an interesting year, folks.

We've all experienced this year in different ways but in large part have seen what's happening around the world.  So here's how the last bit of it's shaped up in the land of Paperclip.

As you know it's been a busy year in my life.  Getting my old job back was an absolute blessing.  As soon as I had the busy times down it got much much more difficult.  That was six months ago.  It is just now beginning to get manageable.  As it stands now though, I am closing out an old platform, so it isn't going to be heavily busy with that until it's time to switch to the new system.  Then it's a learning curve complemented by almost the same chaos.

I started this year with a few different ventures.  Getting my old job back was the beginning.  Also I became a minister and performed two weddings.  That was awesome.  Spending time doing the logistics and getting the feeling and performance aspects correct were both challenging and very awesome.  Helping join people together in marriage is one of the coolest things I can ever say I experienced.

For now, in the somewhat less crazy period of my current career, I've been able to do a few other things that help my creative side as well.  A few months ago, I had one of those early-morning dreams. You know the kind that are chaotic and bothersome, and move so quickly that they wake you up.  I woke up about a half hour before the alarm, and was furiously thinking about how much I like hot dogs, and making a website or something just dedicated to hot dog recipes, ideas, sausage makers, etc.  It hit me like a frying pan that morning... It was an instant brainstorm, and it led to the idea of a hot dog recipe/enthusiast site called Weinerly.

I reserved the .com and started a facebook page that morning.  Haven't done too much with it since, but after peeing on the proverbial fire hydrant, I did manage to get a free hot dog roller from work and make an initial video.  I've got a couple recipes, and a couple of my friends have some good ones too.  I've got a vision for where it could go, but I'm not saying too much here.  Surprise is important.

I've also been really craving listening to and trying to get good at creating music again.  It's hard to do with an unpredictable and difficult schedule, but it is possible.  It's just coming really slow.  Being busy is important because it means the bills are paid, and that home is taken care of. It also takes precedent over creative ventures and projects. Maybe that's why the ideas are piling up but the action on them don't get too much of a shot.

Such is life, though.  I'm pretty happy with how things have turned out so far.  I guess at this age, it's the priorities that count, and there's still got to be a little bit of energy left for the sandbox when there's time for it.

Mountainside: Part One

An except from a novel I'm writing about a futuristic sabotage mission:

Flyer 23 silently glided west, cloaked, on a thousand click pace nine miles above Earth.  The scenery was beautiful below, only a few clouds floated above the Balkan Mountains, and the swift flight made them look like gentle hills to those who observed.
“Arlo, you ready for this?”
“Yes Minnie. Boomer and Shale made sure I got all the details down.”
“You are quick to act, I’ll give you that, but getting into the Peak is going to take a little more than witty gusto.”
“Something you’re very good at, I might add.”
Minnie frowned at this.  She knew what was at stake, and didn’t think much of Arlo stepping in on her brand of wit.
Minnie replied, “True, but you’re the one going into the hole. You know they don’t mess around at The Peak.  One careless move and you’re done for.”
“You really think I don’t know this?  The only reason I signed up is because you got us out of the mess in the Pacific.  We just needed a ride.  Not a mission.”
“Well, now you’ve got a ride, and a mission.“
Arlo looked through the window again and looked at the hills below.  Dammit, she was right again, and wouldn’t let him forget it.  Flyer 23 had him and his friends at their disposal, and though their story made complete sense, there was still something uncomfortable about joining them and becoming part of an adventure.  What if their story wasn’t the whole story?  Sure, everyone knew there were some secrets at The Peak. Everyone knew that the East and West weren’t quite ready to mend fences.  The non-participants of the world sure weren’t going to take any sides.
Minnie was still there, as if waiting for a response.  Arlo simply nodded in acknowledgement.
“Arlo, do you have everything you need? We have forty minutes to the drop.”
Reluctantly, Arlo acknowledged again.
“Yes.  Chamo, com, and both my packs.  And the payload.  If I have to let it go at the wrong time, I’m sure you’ll get the signal.”
“I’m sure we will, hotshot.” With the word “hotshot,” Minnie pressed the com into Arlo’s sternum.
Thirty-six minutes later, Flyer 23 prepared Arlo for his solo drop just south of The Peak.


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