Surprise, News, Giveaway

Sitting here in the dying hours of the night, before the morning starts to take me towards my day at work, my blog still being here is a pleasant surprise. For whatever reason I believe that it would have been taken down. I don’t know why I thought that it being inactive would lead to it being deleted but there you have it.

So, onto the news. Lately my mind has been a bit of a mess, ideas swirling around aimlessly, taunting me at regular intervals but careful not to be so regular that I could potentially catch one. I’m hoping this means that the next time I sit down to write something properly (probably the beginnings of a DnD campaign) that it will come easily to me. This blog post is sort of a test run to see if I can still do what I remember doing; opening my mind and letting my fingers just create whatever they catch.

So far, it’s not going badly however it’s not going great. I’ve had to correct far too many typing errors already but I’m not entirely convinced that that’s not just because my desk is a little different from when I last did this.

Outside of my mind things have been interesting. Retrokill has provided a fairly constant source of challenges to deal with and work isn’t making things easier, my workload at the moment, while not necessarily traditionally high, has been difficult to keep up with. I don’t know whether this is as a result of the nature of what I’m having to deal with or whether it’s because of the staff changes we have gone through. It could also be because I’ve been sick over the last couple of weeks.

Whatever the reason though, I’m hoping that it starts to get easier again soon.

Back to Retrokill though, a number of us have started to get into the Arma map Antistasi. It allows us to dynamically attempt to take on the entire island of Altis as rebels. So far, it’s going alright, we’re starting to get enough weaponry that we can each pick what we want and not have to worry about running out and taking outposts and resources is becoming easier. We’re still struggling with holding territory though since our AI seems to be retarded.

On my final note for tonight, Retrokill are running a giveaway of R300 worth of steam gift cards. Head on over to https://gleam.io/fb/NLHHj to enter. Good luck 🙂

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Prolific

Once upon a time I considered trying to become an author. When that was verbally beaten out of me by various realists I thought of becoming a blogger…
I’ll admit to my naivete in this matter. I never fully appreciated exactly how much work it was. And the worse thing is that the problem is not a shortage of topics but rather a shortage of drive. I find it difficult to sit down and write as I should.

Over the last couple of months I can at least claim that work has been incredibly stressful and I’m getting more and more exhausted as each day goes by. Couple this with the personal load of a number of secrets that I’ve had to keep and the mental strain alone has been enough to make me feel completely and utterly devastated almost every day.
Over the last two weeks insomnia added itself to the mix as well and led to some rather awkward and unpleasant situations.

Currently I’m no closer to solving the problems that I’ve been having, but at least I’ve found some time to try and engage in something I enjoy.

One day hopefully soon I’ll be able to find the time and the drive to write a full blog post, maybe even including some piece of writing or other, but tonight at least I feel like I’ve made a decent start.

Slow Progress

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve thought of any number of topics, and as per my last couple of posts I’ve been hoping to expand my freedom and write about whatever it was that came to mind.

Something that I underestimated the impact of, however, was the energy drain I’m currently dealing with. Not just the standard “work is hectic” stuff but also a whole bunch of other little things here and there.

Despite my relationship strengthening in some indefinable way and so becoming an energy source over the last couple of weeks the increased work load as well as the strange feelings of fatigue I’ve experienced outside of work have made it so I’m actually a little short of breaking even and so, although before the upturn I was already fairly low emotionally at the moment I’m feeling just generally low as well and lower than I was before.

It’s not all terrible though. I have found that I’m somehow making time for more things that I’ve wanted to for so long. I’m getting more and more into my gaming which is another energy source, I’m eating better (i.e, I’m actually eating food I make rather than pre-made things) and I’ve also started a physical training regimen which I’m hoping will help with my currently ailing stamina.

Speaking of training, I’ve managed to work on my discipline with my Ju Jutsu and have been going even when there are no students. It means that there’s a lot of demotivational moments because I feel like I’ve failed every time there is an empty class but on the other hand the fact that I’m there anyway is something that I’m happy to have achieved.

I haven’t yet managed to get around to actual writing which is something that I would like to get back to, but that will come I’m sure. At some point I’m going to find the time to actually look at what I’ve done so far and continue some of the stories I’ve got lurking around, maybe even the vampire one that I started on here earlier.

Finally I’m looking at getting into a couple of semi-management roles in the near future, mostly it’ll just be helping look after and administrate a Teamspeak server and potentially a website as well but it could grow into a little more than that since the clan that the servers belong to is working on getting into the competitive scene.

Hopefully they do well there 🙂

 

If anyone is interested in joining us on Teamspeak, the server is at retrokill.co.za

 

Candour

When I first started writing here I was open and didn’t filter anything, I spilled my mind and didn’t care who it hurt or who read it.
As more and more people found out about my blog and I gave them links and so on I found myself becoming more reserved and considering each line far more carefully than was ever the intention.

I was fine with that.

But then a moment came where I started to over-filter myself and so every post became more of a mission that something fun and so I slowed down and practically stopped. I felt like there was a standard to try to keep to.
Right now I’m going to try and abandon that standard. If a post is terrible, it’s terrible, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a failure.
While we were in Cape Town there was a picture that I took. It was a moment in time between deciding to take the picture and the actual picture being taken. That candid picture was, to me, far better than the end result and that’s where my mind has been dwelling while coming up with this post; it was dwelling on the fact that candour can be far more beautiful than anything posed.

Of course this doesn’t mean that every candid moment is good.

I’ve spoken before about my webs, my mind’s way of trying to avoid surprises. Recently the webs have been forming again and, like before, they have been complicating certain things.
One of my favourite things about my current relationship is how open I can be about everything from my own insecurities to what I think of other people.
I shared one of my webs though and it has led to an awkward situation since that particular web was apparently one that involved a subject that was a problem already.
On top of that web being a pain certain others which have formed have led to me being unable to calmly handle certain things. It’s not exactly a problem, it just means that while those things are occurring I have to be a little more aware of my own mind and where exactly it is going. So far I’ve worried without reason but the webs are such that that re-assurance isn’t exactly re-assuring.

 

A while back I mentioned a piece of writing that I’d considered uploading. Since this post is all about being open and such, here it is too:

ePub, Mobi and PDF

Hope you all enjoy it. 🙂

Crash

So it’s been over a month since my last post and unfortunately the reason for that is not a great one. I’ve been through two very different crashes over the last month, one physical, one emotional/mental.

I’ll start with the physical one as it’s the far more minor. On Tuesday this week I was rear-ended in traffic. The impact left me dazed and confused for a moment before I realised what had actually happened. Physically my neck was a little stiff for a couple of days but beyond that I seem to be fine.
The car however might not be. With the value of the damage so far I believe there is a chance that it’ll be written off. It’s a fairly sombre thought since I’ve grown quite attached to it.
And yet now because of someone’s inattentiveness it may be about to disappear out of my life.
On the subject of the other person, she was fine however I’m pretty sure her car was not. She was unable to find any gears and the entire front of her car was flattened.

And now onto the other type of crash…

Depression is something that has been a fairly regular part of my life. It’s something that I’m lucky enough not to have to deal with all the time, however on the other hand it does happen often enough that I sometimes wonder if I should actually see someone about it.
At the moment I’m going through a fairly bad bout of it. I’ve been unable to actually do anything I’m supposed to be doing for a long while. What that means is that my flat is a mess, I can’t face many of the people who I should have no problems with and worst is even the people I can face I feel like I shouldn’t.
The reason for that last is because a lot of the people who I care about suffer from their own problems, and a lot of them have actually given up dealing with their problems.
This leads to outbursts of negativity that actually drag me down further into the depths of my own depression. I sit here and try my absolute best to keep everyone up and when people give up even trying it makes me feel like I should just give up and not do anything at all any more. Abandon everyone and everything and just whither away to nothing.
I’ve spoken to most of the people who were affecting me, and they have responded well. They apologised for what they had been saying and truly considered me and what that’s meant is today for the first time in almost a month I’m feeling more like myself.
Anyway… That’s enough of that.

“I wondered if you would be able to actually awake this time.” The voice continues. “After all, you’ve stirred three times since we took you down.” He sniggers at this revelation and she realises what it means. She’s been asleep for far longer than she should have been.
“How long?” she croaks, her voice broken from the long sleep.
“Forty years darling.” he says joyfully. “Forty years you’ve been out of my way. The world is a wonderfully different place now.”
A new voice cuts in in a whisper and the man falls silent for a while after the whispering stops. When he speaks again she can hear the frustration in his voice.
“I would love to continue this chat however duty calls.” he says bitterly. “Out of respect to who you used to be, I’m leaving you with an assistant. She will help orient you with this new world. After all, being a Prince is no fun if there’s no one to hate you.” he laughs loudly as he leaves. She continues to lie in her sarcophagus for the longest time before finally rising and staring at the young girl standing next to the mausoleum door.
Her head swam but she forced a smile.
“Hi.” she managed before she blacked out once more.

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.

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.

Habits, Deliveries, Leave and Apps

Let’s begin with Apps. Recently I’ve been spending time doing things other than mobile gaming. Since I upgraded my PC the amount of time available for other things has drastically dropped.

Despite this development I’ve found myself hanging on to certain mobile apps that I really enjoyed, one in particular being King of Thieves. I love the game and the concept, and for the many months I played it was amazing.

But towards the higher levels you hit a plateau where, although it is possible to progress without payment, it require a large amount of time in order to perfect certain techniques needed to get through the later dungeons.

This time can’t be spread out over weeks or months and so I slowly lost touch with the game. But I’ve kept it on my phone.

This last week I had been inactive long enough for me to lose control of the guild I ran. Now, although running a guild doesn’t take much (or anything at all) it was still something keeping me in the game. With this loss, I feel like I might finally be able to remove the app.

Onto leave. I’m on leave at the moment for a week. Or at least I am in theory.

The reason I say this is because despite this fact I have had numerous work things to do today, things that I shouldn’t be having to deal with. Phone calls from people who have my work number but for some reason call my personal number. I’m honestly not sure why they don’t call the office but I haven’t answered their calls because I’m on leave.

The other thing that interrupted my leave was a problem where the buck was passed away from the person who should actually be fixing it. Now I don’t understand whether this was intentional on her part, or whether it was a side-effect of the people who were supposed to be informing her of the problem just not doing so.

It’s annoying because this particular problem is not actually something that I’m likely to be able to fix without hours of work.

And I have this horrendous feeling I’m going to be asked to come in tomorrow to do exactly that.

Deliveries. This one is a far more positive subject than those above. It concerns the girl I’m now dating. Today I drove her to her nanna’s house, three hours away. It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but it was me doing something I enjoyed with someone I like and it ended up being one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while, despite all the wonderful activities that I’m involved in in various places and with various people.

And finally habits.

A while ago I found an app that allowed you to create a RPG out of your life. I ignored it. More recently I had something asked of me and I thought of that app as the perfect solution to the problem.

So I looked into it. And it was okay, but lacked features that I needed. So I looked around.

And found Habitica

I have been using the app for a couple of days now, and this blog post is actually a result of that use. I’ve set myself certain goals so far as habits are concerned, and custom daily tasks that allow me to push myself into doing things like writing (both my fiction as well as these posts or letters or whatever else). So far it’s worked wonderfully and it’s been a really fun experience to set up.

Hopefully I manage to stick to it because if I do, it means I’ll start to write the space story again, and once that’s going I can look at posting it up here.

Here’s to hoping.