New Project?

So, in amongst everything else going on at the moment, (new part time job, new challenges, new goals) I mentioned a potentially new story that was floating around my mind. Tonight I actually wrote the first part of it. It’s a very short section but here it is anyway.

 

A woman entombed in stone slowly wakes up. She tries to move but finds her body restricted by something cold and heavy. A moment of claustrophobia takes her before memory begins to return.
She’s a vampire.
It takes her a moment to process this revelation, a moment that seems to drag out with images of… something.
As that thing takes shape she realises that she’s been asleep for a long time, in a state that vampires call Torpor. She remembers being beaten by a small faction who opposed her.
She remembers they opposed her because she was the Prince of the city.
Rage sends a pulse through her and she pushes up against the stone entombing her. It resists for a moment but then lifts just the slightest amount. She manages to push it far enough to the side to be able to see and feel the cold air on her face.
Again she pushes and this time the stone lid slides off the sarcophagus and crashes to the floor. The sound echoes weirdly in the room she’s in.
“Welcome back.” A voice says, sending chills down her spine.
It’s the voice of the man who deposed her.

 

I don’t have a name for the story yet even though I have a vague idea of where it will go. The first few chapters will probably follow the protagonist above, but from there I think it might move to someone else. I’m looking forward to writing again.

Still Alive

Somehow I am still here. Not in the physical “I’m still breathing” sense, that’s not entirely surprising, but rather in the “I’m still blogging” sense. I didn’t expect to still feel any draw to the site after the first couple of months had passed. And yet here I am, a year and four months later. I’ve shared my life as well as my work on here and I still don’t feel like I’m ready to disappear again.

Which is good I guess.

But on the other hand I do feel guilty for not posting often. And I feel guilty when I post too often. It’s a weird balance that I have to keep in my own mind.

The reason for today’s post though is so that maybe I can get something new started. I’ve been thinking of another story. This one I have not written before but the storyline itself feels fairly familiar to me. It promises to be interesting, or at least, what has happened in my head has been interesting so far. Right now though I’m worried about it since the last time I wrote, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable.

Having said that though, I do want to get writing again.

Anyway, hopefully the next post will be with the beginning of the story, the opening scene which sets the premise for everything else. It’ll be loosely based in the ‘Chronicles of Darkness’ rules and world. I say loosely because I hope not to let the rules get in the way of the actual story.

Soon we shall see if my worry is unfounded or not.

Nothing personal and something intimate

There are two sides to this post. It’s one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, but at the same time one that’s only come to me now.

The first part is simple. I don’t talk to people. There are a very limited number of people who I can handle at any one time. Currently my limit is three. Beyond that my mind starts to drain, I start to get unstable and I end up becoming snappy and unpleasant. And so I avoid interaction with anyone beyond the three people who I can easily talk to without freaking out.

This is important for me. When my mind does snap (when the snappy and unpleasant doesn’t chase people away) then I can’t even maintain a civil conversation with one person and so I suffer, and so does everyone around me.

Why does this matter?

Because there are a couple of people currently who I haven’t responded to. They pushed too hard and I shut down as a result. I had to reboot and ignore them to be able to maintain my own sanity. Which is why I say it’s nothing personal. It’s not their fault, they are trying to be friendly, but I am incapable of that right now.

Which brings me to the latter subject. I’m starting to struggle. That’s what my reboots have told me. Something in my life is draining me and where I can normally handle short jolts of conversation with certain people, now I can not.

I’m also becoming reliant on a couple of people, and of late those people have been experiencing their own struggles. This has led to them pushing me away, in one case really hard and almost intentionally, in the other politely but definitely intentionally.

Now, I do understand what they’re going through, after all I described the same process above, but to have it happen to me, and now when my mind is already unravelling, it’s not ideal.

So what does this mean for me?

Nothing right now. I’m not going to just back down and give up. But if I don’t manage to turn things around soon, it might mean curling up in a corner, closing myself off to everything and fading for a long, long while.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Where to restart

So, somehow it’s been a few weeks since my last post. I honestly have no idea how that happened. During that time I’ve been on leave (during which I actually went away) and have had various wonderful and awful things happen.

I’m going to gloss over most of those though.

What I can start with is the fact that I’ve been learning Japanese using Duolingo. It’s been interesting, with a fairly high level of frustration in certain areas. Mostly it’s been going into the sentences, things like “John is American” are not exactly simple to figure out from the hiragana and unfortunately I forget what some of them sound like now and again.

Which isn’t a problem when I’m translating to English, but it’s a huge problem when I’m translating to Japanese. Now with other languages (French for example) when you put in the French words it reads them for you. But for some reason they don’t do that for Japanese, a language that uses what could very well be an alien alphabet when I’m under pressure.

So that’s been interesting as I said before.

Beyond that I’ve still been gaming. I’ve been getting better at both Dota and CS:GO, with the former getting to the point where I’m actually getting a little more confident. The latter isn’t going badly either, although competitively I’m still facing more losses than wins.

Anyway, for now that’s all the updating that I’m going to spill, but below is hopefully the last bit of that dream that I started in the previous two posts. I hope that it doesn’t feel as awkward as the previous section.

 

After what seems like hours of the mindless meandering we arrive in a room which is unlike the others. It lacks the mind-boggling perception of the corridors we took to get here and standing on a table in the middle of the room is a doll’s house, front up hiding its contents.

Slowly we approach the model, my companion seemingly wary of it. I can’t help but understand that feeling as I feel my own heart pounding in my chest, fear clutching at my throat and making it hard to breathe.

Once we’re close enough to inspect it I lean forward and look in through one of the windows. To my horror I see someone moving around inside, checking the windows and staring out at us but apparently not seeing us.

I realise as she pauses at another window that it is the girl from the foyer, except she is unarmed now and wearing a pale blue dress not unlike the one Alice is depicted in in most of the Alice in Wonderland renditions.

“This is a problem.” my companion states matter of factly, looking around the room as if looking for something specific. I turn to look at him, inviting elaboration.

“We have to destroy this model to get out, but when we do the real house will start to collapse. We’ll be able to get out fine, but if we start without her knowing, she could die.” he explains coolly.

“Can’t we get her out?” I respond curiously, leaning closer to the glass as if to try and let her know we’re here.

“Not without going in ourselves.” he replies grimly, “and even then it’s not likely we’d make a clean escape. The best option right now is to leave her be and hope.”

“There must be something we can do.” I can hear the whine in my voice, the hatred of helplessness coming through but he just shakes his head.

“There isn’t always a solution to everything.” he says, walking over to a corner table and ripping off a leg. He returns to the house. “Which side of the house is she in?” I point to the last window I saw her at and he nods.

“Luckily on the same side that we are.” He says before swinging the leg down on the opposite side of the house. A crunching crash shatters the silence and the floor seems to lurch under our feet again. I somehow manage to keep my balance and take off after him as he begins to sprint into the corridors again.

I can hear the house starting to fall, the initial crash now followed by various creaks and smaller crunches that I can only assume are floors, walls and ceilings becoming nothing but rubble. As we run I wonder whether we’ll be able to make it out in time.

As if in answer the ceiling above my head starts to droop and then falls away, the board landing on the floor just behind me before the walls collapse in as well.

“Almost there.” my companion reassures me and sure enough as we round the next corner the entrance hall comes into view. We rush down the stairs, having to dodge the steps that disappear before us but somehow make it to the door and out just in time. There we wait, watching for the girl.

The house collapses with no sign of her.

I stand there staring blankly at the rubble, unable to believe what I had gone through or the fact that the girl was gone. Slowly I start to walk towards the broken building, wondering where to even start.

“I see you two survived.” I hear the commander’s voice behind me, obviously talking to my companion but I ignore it, focusing on not losing my footing as I venture into the rubble and over it, looking everywhere for some hint that she could be here still.

Some time later I finally find her. In what I can only assume was a stairwell she lay sprawled on the floor on her back. She looked like she had been knocked out by falling debris, bits of roof and ceiling lying all around her, a large gash in her forehead. Strangely she’s still wearing the Alice in Wonderland dress.

I move over to her and check her for other injuries before slowly lifting her and moving to carry her out.

Standing on the rubble, looking over me with a glint of approval is my companion. I glare at him, anger bubbling inside me for no reason I can find as I make my way over the rubble and to safety.

Gaming

So over the last few weeks I’ve been getting back into my gaming, which I’ve spoken about recently.

Last I wrote it was still half and half on whether it was going to continue properly. Since then I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like I’m holding my own in matches, both in Dota as well as CS. I wouldn’t say I’m competitive just yet, but at the same time I don’t feel like I’m holding my team back anymore.

What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Nothing really. It just means that for me it’s a little more enjoyable than it was before. I don’t mind playing terribly. But when you’re in a team of five, any one person not carrying their weight leads to a terrible experience for everyone.

That’s not to say I’m not having bad moments. In the last game I started terribly (Dota), feeling like I was being left behind by the rest of the team. Until we started roaming together, at which point from the kills we managed to score I caught up in levels and net worth and so was able to start providing a meaningful contribution.

What I also found was that I was using my spells in a completely different way from what I was used to. I was using them for utility rather than for damage and that in itself is a great little piece of progress.

Anyway, onto why I actually came here. Let’s try and not screw up part two of last night’s story 🙂

 

Having seen what had been living in the house where I had been staying I couldn’t take it anymore. And so I moved to another abandoned house. This one was a bit more remote. From what I had heard it was tied up in so much red tape that no one wanted to buy it and so despite the fact that it was a mansion, it was uninhabited.

I wasn’t complaining.

I look around, once again waking with a start. I’m certain I heard a footstep downstairs, the entrance hall just outside my door. Cautiously I peer around the corner and I see a lady slowly walking in from the main doors.

My eyes are drawn to her left hand in which she’s holding a hand crossbow with a loop on the front. Although I can’t see clearly from where I am, I catch a reflection off the tip and it confirms my suspicion.

This woman has the same kind of bolt as the man from before.

“You again.” his voice comes from behind me. I turn nonchalantly, trying to hide my surprise at not having heard his approach at all.

“Who is this?” another voice asks, a woman this time, from in the shadows in the corner of the room.

“I bumped into him on my last job.” he explained to the shadow. I turned to look back to the woman in the hall but she was gone. At the back of my mind I wondered whether she was in fact the shadow.

“Coincidence. Get him out of here.” she commands. The man seems to consider this for a moment then shakes his head.

“I don’t think it was. I’m going to keep him with me.” he responds before handing me a hand crossbow from deep within his trench. “Point and shoot, it won’t hurt any of them.” he says with confidence. I take it and stare down the sight before lowering it, keeping it mostly level.

“This is on your own head if it goes wrong.” I sense her leave somehow, wondering where she went considering there were no other exits to the room.

“Don’t make me regret this.” he says gruffly before leading the way out into the corridor. I have no idea where we’re going or even what we’re looking for but I follow nevertheless, crossbow ready, expecting something around every corner.

It isn’t long before we hear a sound that does not belong, a deep sighing sound that somehow doesn’t seem human or animal.

“Shit.” he says as I hear a creaking behind me. I turn quickly, raising the crossbow and firing at a silhouette against the one wall.

The shattering sound of glass precedes the splattering of water and a slight hissing sound.

As the hiss becomes louder the ground heaves and shivers throwing me to the floor.

“Well done newbie, it’s the house.” he says angrily. He grabs me by the collar and lifts me roughly before leading deeper into the house, moving far quicker now.

Somewhere in the distance we hear a scream and then a sucking noise which ends the former. I say nothing, focusing on reloading the crossbow, trying not to think of what may have just happened.

“We need to find the heart.” he says quickly, his voice rushed but despite the fact that I’m already feeling tired, he doesn’t sound like he’s working at all. I follow him at this quickened pace, starting to need to push myself but not wanting to let him down.

As we move further the house begins to start playing tricks on us, the corridors become formless and indistinguishable and I can swear that we pass the same ‘landmarks’ multiple times. I don’t question it only because the man seems to know what he’s doing, although I do notice that if we get to a fork or a turn, he always goes left.

 

Well, it seems like there will be another section after this, although it’s likely to be far shorter.  I do feel like this section is less interesting and less well written than the previous but right now it’s not really about that and more about actually getting this story out there. Hopefully tomorrow evening I finish it and then I can get to the point of this section of posts.

Reflection

Weakness has been a recurring theme in my thoughts on what to write lately. I’m not sure if it’s such a bad thing.

You see in seeing weakness in yourself you can address it, work at it, strengthen those places that need reinforcement and move forward.

On the other hand though you can look at your weakness and loath yourself because of it, hating that you can’t do it alone or can’t seem to ask for help or don’t seem to be able to progress or whatever is the result of your weakness.

I had a dream a little while ago which I thought at the time, I should definitely write that one out. Now though it’s a faded memory with a couple of scenes that stuck in my mind. Why didn’t I follow through on that thought? Because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it justice. Which is stupid.

If you don’t try, you can’t fail.

If you don’t try, you can’t succeed.

So which is more important? Not failing? Or not succeeding? Most of my life I’ve lived by the first. Lately though I’ve had something that’s been driving me to try the second and for the most part it has gone pretty well.

But the last couple of weeks have been hard on myself and that inspiration. I’ve found myself turning inward and losing myself in my own mind more and more often. And it’s holding me back just as it did before.

So now, despite the fact that that dream of mine is a couple of weeks old, and my mind is still telling me I’m going to mess it up, here it comes.

 

I wake up with a start, looking around at the shattered remains of my life; the dark, dingy and abandoned building where I’ve been staying since everything fell apart. I sigh deeply, shaking my head before putting my palm to my forehead. It’s been two weeks since I left my flat, leaving almost everything behind. I still can’t tell you why I did it either, nevermind the fact that I’ve been pondering that point ceaselessly for just as long.

Slowly I stand, something making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, that feeling of being watched coming on strong. It hasn’t been unfamiliar in this place but this time it’s stronger than usual and somehow, this time I can also feel something else.

There’s a sense of hate in this moment.

I reached down and picked up my pack, keeping my back to one of the walls as I slowly sidle out into the passage. There I start to jog, heading for the entrance, no longer mindful of what I’m putting behind me, everything telling me “It’s time to get out.”

I do exactly that.

Standing on the street outside I look back at the house, my head cocked slightly, trying to figure out what exactly had just happened, checking at the windows and door to see if I can spot anything that could have been giving me the feeling of being watched.

There’s nothing at any of them.

“You’re lucky to be alive.” A gruff voice says beside me. I jump away from the sound, turning in the air and landing in a defensive stance. A man is standing there wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a crimson trench coat made of what looks like leather. He exudes an air of confidence but more than that he makes me feel distinctly inadequate.

“What are you talking about?” I can’t help but ask. He turns to me, curiosity in his dark features. I can’t see his eyes through the shadows of his hat but I can see the stubble across his chin and cheeks, scars causing criss-crossing patterns of places that have no hair.

“With how quickly you got out, I thought you already knew…” he pauses after he speaks, obviously considering something. “It’ll be easier to show you, come with me.” his voice holds a note of command that I feel it would have been nigh impossible to resist even if I wasn’t curious to see what he was talking about.

He leads the way back into the house, walking with absolute confidence. As he crosses the threshold he draws what looks like a crossbow with a ‘water bolt’ loaded into it. I note a piece of string from the tip of the bolt to a reel on the underside of the crossbow.

As I follow him the feeling of unease comes back, that feeling of being watched by something that loathes me.

“It doesn’t like you.” he says conversationally, not turning back to look at me at all, his mind focused on something else. I don’t say anything in return, I have nothing to say.

Suddenly he stops and turns, lifting the crossbow and bringing it to bear, his wrist resting on my shoulder. I hear a twang and then another before the shattering sound of glass and the hissing of acid follow. Quickly now I duck and turn, looking up at a beast that has half of its face melting away. My mind can’t fully comprehend what it’s seeing, the facial make-up of this thing too alien to process.

I watch helplessly as it slowly topples forward, its body falling towards me. As I brace myself for the impact that must surely come the thing turns to mist and disperses around me.

Silence follows in that moment, my heart in my throat.

When I look back to where the man had been I find only air.

 

Well, oddly enough this isn’t even the part that I remembered. There is another section coming, hopefully soon.

Progress and Weakness

So, let’s start with the first one.

For the first time in many years I’ve rejoined the ‘competitive’ gaming scene. It’s something that I’ve thought of a few times before but after a couple of rather horrendous experiences I ended up dropping away from it and never really looking back.

A series of events lately saw me give it a go again. On one hand I played online matches in Dota (which although not strictly speaking competitive, it is pretty nerve-wracking even in the pub matches) and on the other I played two competitive matches of CS:GO. Now this second one is a big deal to me because way back in the day (CS 1.6 era) I actually did play in a couple of tournaments and we did fairly well.

As for how I’ve been doing so far… Dota I’ve won one match out of I don’t even know how many.

CS:GO we’ve won two out of the two matches I’ve played. And what’s more is that I wasn’t as useless as I thought I would be.

I’ll admit that I was in the lower half of the ten players, but for someone who has played a total of 16 hours of CS over the last five or more years I reckon that’s not a bad place to start (since I wasn’t dead last by a long way)

((If you are interested in stats: Dota, CS:GO))

So that’s progress.

As for weakness it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. That side of me that’s screaming that I’m not good enough, that I should just give up on both of those things and leave it to the ‘pros’. It’s stupid and I know that if I actually give it some time I’ll end up back at where I was all those years ago, heart pounding as we face off against a team that’s coordinated and deadly.

But for now I wonder whether the people I’m playing with would be better off without me. In Dota I can’t entirely dismiss that thought, especially considering my very poor win rate at the moment, but in the end it boils down to experience. Most of the people I know that play the game have played more hours than me in a smaller amount of time and so they understand the meta, they understand which heroes are strong and which are weak, how to counter the ones I pick and which ones are insignificant enough not to even worry about.

But then again, if I never try, I’ll never learn. So for now, I’m going to keep playing, throwing myself against the wall that is the enemy teams and hopefully I deal enough damage to it to eventually break through.

Teaching, learning and yearning

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I teach a small jujutsu club. That club is something that I’m passionate about, something that I enjoy immensely.

Being the sensei is one of my most challenging and exciting tasks each week. Not because I lack the knowledge, although I do feel like that is true, and not because I’m not strong, which I also feel is true, but because I lack the confidence to put those things entirely aside and focus on what’s going on.

This means that I often end up stuttering or otherwise losing my focus on the mat. And when we are fighting that shows most.

In training situations, where we are looking at moves, going over techniques, figuring out counters and blocks I feel at home. My mind can immediately pull out something that will work and walk everyone through it. There is no lag time, the thought is just there.

But in a fight (on the mats in this case, I haven’t ever really fought off it) I doubt myself, I tell myself that the other person probably knows better than me, that they will counter whatever I try. And so in a way I freeze, unable to move forward in case I give my opponent the opening they’re looking for. This of course leads to my eventual defeat, especially if my opponent is stronger in one aspect or another of the art.

Which leads to my next point. I have a few students who are from different backgrounds. Now, most of them I can easily move around and outmanoeuvre  and outwit, but there are a couple who learn so quickly that if you get them once, the next time they’ll know that move and put it right back on you.

This is great for me.

My learning was cut short quite abruptly. I feel like I know practically nothing even now and so when one of my students starts to think the same way I do, I feel great. For one thing, my teaching provided a base for them to build from and they’ve built that well. For another it means that I can learn with them. They think differently and so when I might go one way, they’ll go another, and so instead of having one way to counter something, we suddenly have two.

This is my favourite part of running my club, that constant knowledge that as we all progress, we all help each other.

 

Now onto the last topic, yearning. It’s got nothing to do with the above but tonight I went over to one of my student’s house and we all shared a drink (the entire club.) It was a great experience but while I was there, I ignored my phone.

Unfortunately that meant that I didn’t respond to messages until I got home, and since those messages are my only means of communication with my other, it means I felt very, very cut off, especially since two of my students had their significant others there.

Now that I’m home though and I’ve replied I haven’t gotten a reply back. It’s conceivable that she’s gone to bed, but in the back of my mind I worry, my paranoia kicks in in a big way. What if she’s angry with me? What if something’s happened to her.

I know it’s stupid but those thoughts are the ones I am dealing with right now and I thought it might help to get them out.

Other worlds

I’m no stranger to other worlds. I write about them, I imagine them, I imagine living in them, I help other people see those worlds through my eyes. Some scare me, others merely exist and still more fascinate me.

But something I didn’t expect to happen was for one of them to invade my waking moments without being called.

I had a moment where I was driving along, with a clear destination in mind and the route planned out. Both of those things I have travelled a hundred times and more.

But as I came around the corner to where I needed to be I felt detachment. I looked at the scene and felt like it was not what I was expecting, like although logically it was all the same place, somehow it was different.

The colours were more vivid, the lighting better than it should have been, even with the moon high and bright as it was. And just behind every part of this scene there was something fundamentally different to what it should be.

I pulled into my stop and even there there were familiar sights but once again they were different in some indescribable way. It was only when I walked in and stood staring at the fridges that reality seemed to return. It was a truly surreal moment up until that point.

Unfortunately it’s not too much of a mystery as to why it happened, even though the what is not exactly certain.

Between frustrations at work, pressure at home and stresses in my personal life I’m feeling my depression trying to kick in. I can feel it right on the edge, and in that moment before the world changed I was deep in thought about it and the effect it could have on myself and those who are close to me.

It has a lot of evil potential.

But that moment of difference somehow held it at bay, that moment of wonder where my mind was so thoroughly distracted somehow broke the power of my depression. For now it’s not imminent, although I expect it to be back soon enough.

Comfort

Tonight has been an interesting night on the back of a hectic week. Tonight I explained my a couple of my deepest issues and their sources, I spoke about how various triggers affected me and found out how many things affected others.
I ate way too much and regretted it for a while but that’s generally what comfort eating does to a person.

Which leads almost perfectly onto the actual subject of this post.
Comfort is one of those things that people can not live without. I’m not talking nice furniture and other ‘physical’ comfort items. I’m talking more about the mental state the people can end up in.
Comfort is absolutely necessary for someone to move forward. If a person is uncomfortable in a situation, they will fight, and squirm and try and find a way out of it.
If they’re comfortable however they’ll be open to moving forward and so are more likely to do so.

To me one of the things that I need before I become comfortable is trust and I think tonight I saw that more than ever.
I trust people implicitly. I believe that they would never intentionally hurt me. It’s naive and stupid but I like thinking that and it allows me to form relationships far quicker than otherwise.
Unfortunately it also means that when the betrayal eventually comes I get caught completely off guard by it and so I get hurt fairly easily.
At this point this has happened all my life. Luckily I was always ‘scary’ enough not to be pulled into one of the more elaborate bullying pranks, but people were quick to find out secrets from me and then exploit them.

Nowadays things are better, I’ve learnt how to turn that exploitation inwards and use it against who ever is trying to work on me. But that’s still not an ideal situation.
Slowly I’m working my way to a middle ground, somewhere where I can happily live and not have to worry about the horribleness of people.

One day I’ll find that space.