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The wind picked up again. I pushed down my skirt and held it between my knees, shivering a little. I thought about leaving again. I thought about standing up and zipping up my jacket and then walking past everyone in the bleachers and out of the baseball stadium. I thought about taking the bus home and walking up the steps and pushing through the door and explaining to Mom that I just couldn't stand being at that stupid baseball game when Dad was as sick as he was. Even if it was my big brother Todd's first big game and someone from the family needed to be there to support him. And then I thought about how that was such a stupid idea and that Todd was just as worried as I was and it wasn't like me being in the stands was going to help him pitch any better.

I thought about all of those things, but I didn't move.

I hitched my jacket a bit higher around my shoulders and then looked back at the pitch. The dust from the windstorm was settling, and I could see now that the two previous batters for Mudville, Blake and Flynn, were safe at second and third, respectively.

"One more out," I muttered to myself, "One more out and then this thing will be over and we can go back home."

All at once, the Mudville fans started yelling, excited. I looked toward their dugout and saw a big guy strutting toward home plate. My heart sank. I could read this guy like a book. He was the hometown hero, the pride of Mudville. The son of the city that could do no wrong, the all-American boy. The hotshot who everyone thought could've gone on to the big leagues but who stayed in little ol' Mudville to support the home team. Or, at least, that's how they saw him. Disgust welled up in my stomach as he tipped his hat to the old ladies and then wiped his dirty hands on his jersey. The guy was full of himself, high on the attention and praise everyone doled out on him. He was a big fish in a little pond; he knew it, and he liked to keep it that way. I looked to Todd and watched his shoulders sag. Any hope of keeping our miraculous 4-2 lead seemed to have died and taken part of him with it.

I buried my face in my hands in frustration. I was so done with this. Done with losing. Done with trying to get my hopes up only to see them dashed again. Tired of sitting by Dad's bedside and convincing myself that he was getting better only to see him decline even more the next day.

I thought about leaving again.

But then...no. Something changed. I didn't feel frustrated or hopeless anymore, just angry. Angry at the world. Angry at life. Especially angry at that snob standing cockily at home plate, sneering at my brother in contempt.

I straightened out in my seat, then yelled "Todd!" He couldn't hear me. I tried again, cupping my hands around my mouth.

"Todd!"

He heard me and turned around, confused. For a few seconds, we just stared at each other. Then, I gestured roughly at the batter with my thumb.

"Smoke him!" I yelled.

Todd raised an eyebrow.

"Smoke him for Dad!"

Todd blinked, then a half-smile crossed his lips. He nodded and tipped his hat to me before turning around again to face the batter (Casey, according to the crowd's cheers).

Todd waited as he watched for the catcher's signal. He held out one finger, advising a fastball. Todd nodded, then wound up and hurled the ball toward the plate. Casey laughed as he watched it coming, settling back, not even trying to hit it. He said something to himself as the ball hit the catcher's glove, then

"STRIKE ONE!"

The Mudville fans broke into outraged roars. The ones sitting at the front were leaning over the railing, spittle flying from their lips as they yelled "Kill Him!" I was struck with a sense of dread for a moment, but, no, they were yelling at the umpire, not Todd.

Suddenly, they were silenced. I saw that Casey had raised his hand to quiet the crowd. His face was the picture of ease. He smiled at his fans, then waved to Todd ostentatiously, signalling him to continue. Todd snorted, then wound up again. He let loose a change-up, but Casey wasn't fooled by the speed. I rubbed my knees nervously as the ball started drifting inward and out of the strike zone. Casey didn't move.

"STRIKE TWO!"

Casey whirled around and seethed at the umpire, enraged. The crowd was back on their feet, yelling themselves hoarse, calling the umpire a fraud. Casey let them rage for a moment, then glared up at them, bringing another bout of silence. He turned back to Todd, teeth clenched and muscles strained. He stared him dead in the eye as he pounded the plate fiercely with his bat. Todd didn't react, standing cold and solemn on the mound. Casey jerked his head up, inviting the pitch, taunting.

"Come on, Todd," I whispered, "for Dad."

Todd waited a few seconds more, then suddenly sprung into action, drawing back and then snapping forward with the pitch. Casey wound up with his bat and swung, an audible whoosh emanating from the plate as the air sought to escape the force of his blow.

---

The wind storm died down in the late afternoon, leaving in its place a perfectly sunny day. From the park, I hear the band playing; I hear people laughing and children shouting as they chase each other around.

There's no joy over in Mudville; Todd's last pitch struck Casey out. We won.

There's no joy in our home, either; Dad passed away before Todd and I could make it home.
No Joy In Mudville
I think it was in fifth grade when I first read "Casey at the Bat." I tried to memorize it, but I only got the first few stanzas down before giving up. It's stuck with me, though. I like this poem.

How did I get the idea to write a flashfic about it? No idea. I was at work and I was bored and suddenly there was the idea and so I started writing. At first it seemed like it was going to be way too long and I wasn't considering it for FFM, but then at the end of my first draft I saw that it was only 1,600 so I resolved to cut it down. It wasn't too hard; originally I had Cooney, Barrows, Flynn, and Blake's at-bats, so it was pretty bloated. I think it works better this way.

Viva la FFM! Today's entries are here! (Apparently the challenge theme today was surreal horror, so have fun with that.)
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You unzip your jacket and take it off, stowing it in your backpack. You also reach down to your belt and flick off the flashlight clipped there; the night is warmer and brighter than you'd anticipated. A gentle breeze comes through the trees of the sparse forest; you close your eyes and stretch out your arms to better feel the air flowing around you. You tilt back your head and look at the sky. The moon glows intensely, drowning out its more subtle features, a slightly misshapen disk of white. The moon's glow illuminates all of the night sky, making the nearby trees and the faraway mountains stand more blackly against the deep indigo of the sprawling universe beyond.

The wind dies down, and you resume your careful trek through the old forest, ducking under branches and stepping over roots. It is quiet. No precocious vole or mouse scurries underfoot in search of sustenance; no vigilant owl swoops down to snatch them up in its own quest for food.

It is still.

You take another step, and as your foot falls the silence is ruptured by the crack of a snapping twig. You pause as the sound seems to echo through the glen; you imagine the sound wave invisibly rippling outward like waves in a pond disturbed by a pebble.

You stand there, breathing silent, shallow breaths. The air around you still feels warm against your skin, but now you are very, very cold. You feel the hairs on your back and arms start to stand on end.

Slowly, you look down and raise your foot, verifying what you already suspected: below lies a faint imprint of your shoe's tread in a patch of soft moss. There are no twigs there or anywhere near you, broken or otherwise.

You look up again, and your eyes lock with hers, entranced by her hollow, spectral gaze.
Moonlight
So yesterday I had the opportunity to see Welcome to Night Vale live at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City, which was excellent. The performance was entitled "Ghost Stories," and as such was focused on tales of hauntings and possessions and the like. There was an exchange in there where one character claimed that ghost stories were more than just stories about ghosts haunting old houses, then went on to explain that they were also stories about ghosts haunting old houses (except using a broader vocabulary and speaking more circuitously, for comedic effect). It made me start thinking about what other ghost stories could be told, and I thought about the possibility of ghosts in a forest. No existing story came to mind then (I'm sure I've heard one but it's been a long time), but I had an image pop into mind: a hiker suddenly running into a specter on a quiet, still night. Had I not been caught in traffic for nearly an hour on the way home, I would have written it last night, but as it were I got home after midnight and figured I might as well just get to bed and write it later.

Viva la FFM! I have no idea what the challenge/prompt was for today, but I'm sure the rest of today's entries were great! Read them here!
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Sherman knocked timidly on the trailer door.

"Come on in," said Kurt, distractedly, from inside the trailer.

Sherman cautiously opened the door and stepped inside the office. Kurt, the project manager, was sitting at his desk, sorting through expense reports and project timelines. He glanced up from his paperwork at Sherman.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Harriman?" he asked, turning back to an equipment order.

Sherman cleared his throat nervously, removing his hard hat and holding it in front of him with both hands.

"Well, it's Mr. Sykes, sir."

Kurt looked up again.

"What about him? Is he sick? Did he have a stroke or something?"

Sherman shook his head.

"N-no, sir, it's just that..."

He paused. Kurt stared at him, an expectant look on his face.

"...it's just that he's run out of paint."

Kurt raised an eyebrow.

"Are we all out of paint? Do we need to order more?"

Sherman shook his head.

"Nah, sir, everyone else is fine, it's just Sykes that's out."

Kurt sighed, then turned back to his paperwork.

"Then I suggest you get him some more paint, Mr. Harriman. I don't see why you had to come all this way to tell me this."

Sherman shifted his weight from foot to foot.

"Well, you see, sir, Mr. Sykes never runs out of paint."

"And?..." responded Kurt, a note of impatience tinting his voice.

"And, well, on account of it, the rest of the crew has stopped working. They see it as some sort of bad omen."

Kurt paused, still looking down at his desk. His fists clenched, then sprang open, the fingers reaching up and trembling slightly, as if asking questions of the air above them. His head dropped even lower as he released pent-up breath, then he arose, rubbing the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.

"Alright. Let's see what's going on."

"Well, sir, I mean, I wasn't intending to make you--"

"It's fine, Harriman," said Kurt, reaching up to his collar to loosen his tie. "I just want to see this for myself."

The two exited the trailer and made their way across the construction site. Donning their hard hats, they stepped into the unfinished structure of the new college dormitories. Kurt scanned the empty hallway as they walked, noting what had been completed and what remained to be done. The painting had been started but was not yet finished; thick strips of blue paint lined the top and bottom edges of the walls as well as all of the electrical housings. Kurt was surprised to find that the edging had been done in neat, precise strokes, forming perfect lines and squares.

"Did we get some new machine to handle the edging?" he asked Sherman, gesturing at the neat blue lines with his thumb.

Sherman shook his head.

"No sir, that's Mr. Sykes. That's part of the wonder of it all. He just looks at the wall he's s'posed to paint, fills up his bucket, then starts edging the thing like he was being guided by laser sights or something. And he never runs out of paint; it's always exactly enough."

Kurt gave Sherman a skeptical glance, which Sherman answered with an apologetic shrug.

"It's true. Ask anyone around here; they'll say the same."

Kurt and Sherman turned a corner and found the rest of the construction crew, all facing the opposite end of the hallway. Kurt and Sherman made their way through the sea of orange vests and hard hats to the front. The men and women had all stopped a few feet shy of Mr. Sykes, who was staring silently at the wall in front of him. A foot above eye level was another precise blue line of paint, except this one stopped a foot or so short of the adjacent wall, trailing off into faint lines. Sykes' paint bucket sat on the floor next to him. Kurt peered inside and saw that it was, indeed, dry. He made to ask Sherman something else, but Sherman had retreated back to the line of the other construction workers, looking on uncertainly. Kurt turned back around and cleared his throat.

"Mr. Sykes?"

No response. Kurt stepped forward and put his hand on the older man's shoulder.

"Mr. Syk--Ed, is something wrong? Is there anything I can get you?"

Sykes stood still for a moment more, then slowly turned to face his supervisor. His eyes peered out from under folds of dark skin; they were bloodshot and tired. When he finally spoke, his voice was raw.

"What is gone from this world...cannot be put back. Cannot be made right."

With this, he started to walk forward. Kurt's hand dropped off of his shoulder and fell loosely at his side. The crowd of construction workers parted as Mr. Sykes passed through the midst of them, walking out of the building, off of the site, down the road, and out of their lives. They never saw him again.
Sykes' Paint
So what's the deal? Did I die? Was I kidnapped? Did aliens abduct me? 

Was I silenced by Hyrda? Was I busy doing the work of the resistance?

Nothing so exciting, I'm afraid; I just got busy. It's odd; in June I had oodles of time to spare, and FFM felt like something perfectly manageable. After one week, though, my schedule started picking up, and I just had too much to do. When I missed the first day I considered trying to catch up, but when I then missed three more days in a row I decided that wouldn't really be possible. So, I consigned myself to write if I had time, participating in FFM where I could. And, it just so happened that I had time today. 

---

I like painting houses/other buildings, especially the edges, like Mr. Sykes here. I don't have anything near his level of precision, but it feels good to make lines for other people to draw in, so to speak.

I have no idea what's happened to poor Mr. Sykes here, by the way. It's something more than just him making a mistake with his paint, but I'm not quite sure what it is. Maybe I'll come back to this piece when I figure it out.

---

Viva la FFM! Read other great entries for today here!
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Desperate, I grabbed the antique katana and rushed at the samurai on my couch. Anticipating my strike, he swiftly removed something from a sheath at his waist and parried my blow. I went sprawling backward, the katana clattering to the ground behind me. Straightening my glasses, I looked up at the small object clenched in his fist.

"PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN SWORD!" he bellowed, proudly displaying the cheap Bic ballpoint that had deflected my attack.

Knowing in my heart that what he said was true, but yet not ready to accept it, I grabbed a mace from the coffee table and steeled myself for another go.

So continued my epic struggle with Writer's Block.
Writer's Block
Today's entry was supposed to be some epic, 1000 word piece that had flashbacks and flash-forwards and weird lingo and strange objects and all manner of whosie-whatsit.

But guess who didn't get home until 11:30 PM?

And, if I may be frank, I'm rather weary of the challenge structure of this year's FFM. Would I like to compete for prizes? Sure, but a challenge every other day is a bit excessive and restrictive. Yes, you can grow by forcing yourself to write within constraints and not simply do what comes natural. But too many restraints can also stifle creativity and individual thought.

[END RANT]

In any case, Viva la FFM! See the rest of today's entries (those who actually followed the challenge) here.
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As per usual, you go for a stroll in the quiet afternoon.

As per usual, you see the young lovers stretched out on a quilt in the park.

As per usual, you see the old lovers happily feeding ducks at the pond.

As per usual, you see the poor man caught in the self-perpetuating temporal vortex.

"Help me!" he cries, "Take my hand!"

You appraise the hand as he slowly starts to be sucked back into the blackish-purple void that has already swallowed his lower torso.

You consider taking his hand this time, but before you can act the vortex accelerates and pulls him back ferociously. When the last of his fingers disappears into the blackness, the vortex folds in upon itself and vanishes with a loud "POP!" You brace yourself against the sudden rush of wind, then stare at the small, glowing white speck that hovers at eye level where the vortex once swirled.

You take a deep breath of the fresh afternoon air, then look back toward the park and the pond. The young lovers arise from their quilt and walk hand-in-hand around the pond toward the bench. The old lovers rise creakily from the bench and walk hand-in-hand around the opposite side of the pond toward the quilt. With each step, the young lovers age; with each step, the old lovers are revitalized. The now-young lovers settle down on the quilt and start pointing at the clouds. The now-old lovers ease themselves onto the bench and pick up the loaf of bread, breaking off pieces and throwing them to the ducks.

You continue your walk around the block, arriving back at your flat. You hang your keys on their hook and kick off your shoes. You settle down into your old armchair and take a nap.

As per usual, when you awaken, you feel like going for a stroll in the quiet afternoon.
As Per Usual
I sat down at my laptop with only about half an hour to write. I figured I'd try and crank out a drabble about an afternoon stroll before I had to get ready for a dinner party. Hamilton was playing in the background, and the cool wind from the A/C was blowing on my neck.

The temporal vortex thing came to mind after I wrote the second line, I think. Originally, it was going to just be a really small blip in my really short story. As per usual, I couldn't leave enough alone and wrote a whole story about it. A surreal little walk. I don't care much; I've really got to get going to my dinner party.

Viva la FFM! As per usual, you follow the link here to read the other submissions for today, though most of them probably don't feature temporal vortexes. 
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J2571
Jesse
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I used to care about updating this stuff.
Interests
Well.

It's been a while.

And I'm talking to empty space. Or, at least, I imagine I am.

Let's start again.

---

Nearly two-and-a-half years ago, on June 26th, I logged out of dA for what I knew would be the last time in a while. For that, and for other reasons, my heart was a bit heavy. The next day, I bid goodbye to my family (my sister first, since she had to catch classes. That stung a bit), and embarked on a two-year journey of sacrifice and self-discovery.

All I'll say about this journey is that it was a mission for the LDS Church to the Jacksonville, Florida area. If you're curious, send me a message. If not, we'll let it be.

A mission is many things; though at times it was very, very, very taxing, there was a joy about doing it that I'd never felt before. So, it was with a heavy heart again that I boarded the flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta home. I got off the plane, walked through the terminal, went down an escalator, and saw my family for the first time in exactly two years. It was a tender moment.

Since then, I slowly eased myself back into the "real world" of social media and internet browsing. I dusted off my facebook, wrested my gmail back from would-be hackers, and pulled up ign, just like I used to.

The one site I was a bit hesitant to return to was deviantArt. I couldn't really explain why. I guess for starters, I didn't think there was anything to see; the only traffic that came to my page was from "The Business of Murder," that one-hit-wonder of a FlashFic. Though it brought back fond memories, I didn't figure anyone cared about it anymore.

But, at the same time as I felt that dA didn't have anything for me after two years, I have to admit that the feeling was mutual. I wasn't out of practice writing; I'd dutifully kept up my journal entries for the entire mission. At the same time, though, I felt like something had changed. Did I still want to write? Yes...but what I had in mind didn't really seem to mesh with the dA style of things. An old idea, long since forgotten, was growing and maturing in the back of my mind while I was out focusing on other things. Then, one day, I recalled this idea, but I found it was different, to my surprise. The prospect exited me, but I also realized that this was an idea that wouldn't be as simple to put to paper (or word processor, as it were) as my previous work. This was something that was going to take me a long time to finish, if I finished it at all.

So, I avoided dA for a time. Slowly, though, my curiosity grew. I navigated to my page without logging in, looking at how I'd left things and such. I looked at my stats and a couple of old deviations. More time passed, and eventually I caved and logged in. As expected, there was a veritable mountain of deviation updates, journals, news items, and other community mail. Then, to my great surprise, I saw notifications from my own deviations. Incredibly, though it was nearly two years old, people were still discovering and even commenting on The Business of Murder. I was touched.

Since then, I've kept lurking around the site, logging in from time to time. I re-read TBoM and its re-write myself, surprising myself with twists I'd forgotten. I peeked over at old deviants I watched, happy to find them still active and producing amazing work.

So, what now?

Well, to be honest, probably not a lot. Though I'm not nearly as busy as I was during the mission, I am still a university student with finals coming up and a hefty research project coming due at work. I don't expect to be producing anything in the near future, much less uploading it here.

I suppose I just wanted to express my thanks to everyone who's stopped by this old place during my hiatus. Y'all are wonderful people, and your words (or even just your arbitrary clicks) bring a little more light and warmth to my life.

So, while I may not be fully active here, just know I'm back, and I'm watching, like some benign, nonviolent Batman. I'm probably not the dA user the community needs, or even the one it deserves. I'm just me.
  • Listening to: Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack
  • Reading: The Tale of Genji; Don Quixote soon
  • Watching: Korra book 4, Phineas and Ferb
  • Playing: 2048 like a FIEND
  • Eating: Frozen Pizza, leftover Caesar Salad
  • Drinking: Enough Emergen-C to turn me orange.

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:iconsammur-amat:
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2012   General Artist
Happy Birthday!! :la:
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:iconsammur-amat:
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2012   General Artist
Hello there, lovely person! :wave:

You've just been featured in my journal: [link] :heart:

It would mean the world to me if you could the article and maybe even find some pieces worth faving as well? :eager:

Thank you so very much for your time! :la:
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:iconjoohwankim:
joohwankim Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012
Hi,

Hi,

My name is Joohwan Kim and I am a vision scientist working at UC Berkeley. If you're ok with it, I want to use your drawing (Penrose triangle) in the introduction of my talk at a conference. My talk is about the spatial perception of 3D display viewers, and I want to start with Penrose's triangle to draw people's attention. Could I use your drawing? It won't be any commercial use - just one time use in that talk.
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:iconprillalightfoot:
PrillaLightfoot Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave!!!!
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:iconj2571:
J2571 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
No Problemo.
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:iconseika:
seika Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012   Artist
thanks for the llama back! :iconllama-plz:
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:iconlegendtrailers:
LegendTrailers Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav :tighthug:!
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:iconj2571:
J2571 Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
No Problem.
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:iconbetweenasleepandwake:
BetweenAsleepAndWake Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconkawaiistarloveplz::iconsparklesplz::iconkawaiistarloveplz::iconsparklesplz::iconkawaiistarloveplz::iconsparklesplz::iconkawaiistarloveplz:
:star: Thank you kindly, for faving "A wizard is never late" [link] :star:
:iconcuteicondivider2plz: :iconcuteicondivider2plz: :iconcuteicondivider2plz: :iconcuteicondivider2plz: :iconcuteicondivider2plz: :iconcuteicondivider2plz:
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:iconj2571:
J2571 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Sure!
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