Poetry-Thing Thursday: Your Life

If I had my way,
I’d take back the night,
from those whom stray,
from the path of right,

and in return,
I’d give them the afternoon,
the mornings and twilight,
so the rest could be ours.

I’ve no need of sun.
Sandy beaches.
Nor surging crowds.
I have my fun,
with written pages,
and alt-reality shrouds.

Some say I’m lazy,
or not quite sane,
but after all it’s my life,
and I live it for me.

No matter your pleasure,
so long as it’s tame,
enjoy it at leisure,
indulge in the game.

‘Cause it is your life,
and yours alone,
you have only one,
so indulge it your way.

And forget what is said,
by those unimportant,
for a gift to the head,
is much less abhorrent,

than a punch to the gut,
by those that scoff,
cannot revel in opportunity,
no matter how uncouth.

It is your life,
and yours alone,
and there’s no sharper-knife,
than one made,
from one’s own bones!

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Hijack: Part 8

8.

Gail waited a few hours to mull over her conversation with Nora. She’d come away from it feeling a little less like the whole world was against her. That Nora acknowledged even the possibility of Lone-Wolfe’s innocence kept her spirits up. Enough to wait out the morning in piled-up paper work, anyhow. By dawn, Darian had appeared in the shop, more pressed and dressed than usual. Gail prepped to run her pre-haul check and get on the road. She was anxious to drive. The last run may have been hellish, prescient in its way, but this could be the reprieve she’d sought. She was no longer waiting for the tidal wave to crash down. Instead, she was doing her best to eye the damage, clean up. She even had official help to do so.

She loaded up the W900, fired the engine. It wasn’t long before she was across town, trailer hooked up, and headed for the highway to Indiana. She kept her wits about her, but managed to relax for the first time in days. Oakton Shipping had taken an order for a steel haul to USX, to be delivered at US Steel’s Gary Works. It was a comparably short jaunt to most steel hauls. Usually, she’d pick up steel from USX or Mittal, haul it to anywhere from the East or West coasts to be used in Industrial applications. Easy treks from Oakton’s importing warehouse to the mills, were few, and further between. This time around, it was coils on a flat-bed chained “shotgun style” and secured with wooden 4x4s.

Ferrero’d always insisted on the shotgun style hauling coils. He’d become somewhat notorious for it between Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois’ shippers. It was yet another reminder that his accident was out of character. He’d even take simple coil-hauls seriously. If hauled “Suicide” style, one slip of a chain could easily kill a driver by crushing their cab. Worse, it might murder the poor saps riding behind them. Gail had always been glad for Ferrero’s cautious nature. She was even more glad now that she’d been forced to fill in for Felicia.

In all the years she’d been driving, Gail’d avoided accidents. It was mostly luck. Most drivers had at one under their belt, usually from bumper-stickers– people riding a rig’s ass too and ending up eating trailer or bob-tail axles. Most of the time, they didn’t walk away unscathed. Other times, they didn’t walk away at all. It never ceased to amaze Gail the amount of CB traffic reporting accidents or near-hits.

It helped to keep off the CB, or out of open channels, anyway. She’d submerged herself in the “culture” enough years that it no longer felt necessary. Most of the new-age drivers didn’t use handles, or even for that matter C-Bs. Otherwise, there was no-one to talk to; each day more rigs were autonomous, computer driven. That was M-T’s contribution to the world. That was what they wanted for everyone. Every once in a while Gail’d see the driver-less cabs hauling refrigerated box-trailers or tarp-cover dump-trailers. It always forced a chill along her spine.

She caught site of one of the A-I rigs just past the Ohio-Indiana border. It looked like any other rig at first-glance. On longer inspection, there was a glaring lack of humanity to its driving. It didn’t need to constantly and minutely correct its steering. Instead, it was always “within tolerance.” At that, it never changed speed. The only other indications of anything out of the ordinary were evenly-spaced sensors along its exterior. A normal person might’ve missed them, but Gail’s hyper-alert experience with rigs homed in on them instantly.

Ice once more clambered along her spine; this was the future. Mindless algorithms. Sensors. No hearts pumping blood, no brains thinking. Their routes were cold, calculated, driven by programmers accountable for mistakes or success. People were the weak-link. She couldn’t help but see a future filled with these things. People were too unpredictable. They kinked the proverbial hose’s pristine flow necessary for their function.

For someone as admittedly as cold as Gail, she’d half-expected to find some measure of companionship in the idea. Instead, she felt her first moment of sentiment. With it, came the unassailable gut-sickness that it was merely from her place as a human in a human’s world. That world was fading fast. The rigs were just one symptom, one sign, of a deeper truth; she– and everyone else—were becoming humans in a computing world. Robots, drones, algorithms, A-I, sensors replaced security, cameras, drivers, the list was endless.

Her gut-sickness only increased as the Kenworth pulled alongside the A-I rig. Its M-T Inc logo glared at her from its door: Mechanized Transports. This was their fault. They’d flooded the roads with A-I rigs. Flooded the Unions with work-less drivers. They’d given shipping corporations incentives to cut out drivers– people and switch to machines. That left the smaller companies hanging by threads, incapable of competing with their profit/cost ratios.

Then, the bastards had the gall to try to by her out. It forced her to become even more of an ice-queen bitch than she’d been. When she declined, they’d turned public opinion against her. Like others, she was just trying to make ends meet. M-T and the like managed to smear them, and kill off an American tradition in the process. But they weren’t content with that. When Gail continued to refuse, they murdered one of her drivers. She wasn’t sure how yet, but between Darian and Nora’s investigations, she would learn how. In time, she’d set fire to M-T, that prick Wembley, and their reputation. Then, she’d sit back and watch them burn to the ground.

She sighed. The road emptied of the few cars around her. They dispersed along merges or ramps. She’d left the A-I rig far behind her, hammered-down just to keep her mind elsewhere. She eased off the throttle, let the speedometer sink back toward the speed-limit. The last thing she needed now was a speeding ticket.

Judging by the yard-sticks, she wasn’t far into Indiana. Roughly two-thirds of the trip still remained. If she was lucky, the haul would only take a few more hours. She might still make it in and out of Gary without excess headaches. She wasn’t holding her breath. The place was usually a nuthouse of rig-jockeys fighting for what few hauls weren’t already automated. She was already certain she’d be driving back load-less, wasting fuel and time, but it couldn’t be helped. Ferrero would’ve stayed overnight, waited for another load to be arranged before returning. Gail didn’t have that luxury. Too much needed to be done with the media-circus. Plus, she needed to ready to attend Buddy’s funeral at the drop of a hat.

The road was clear. The sun had just begun shining alongside the highway. Dew still clung to reflectors and guard-rails. Infinite droplets gleamed in sheets along grassy plains that buffering woods and civilization from asphalt. The tranquil serenity Gail had always sought during her hauls returned just in time for the gut-sickness to ramp up. Whether one caused the other, she wasn’t sure.

The brake pedal twitched near her foot. She had enough time to say “What the hell.” Thacker was squawking over her CB. Her hand lifted for it. The rig jerked left. Her stomach dropped. Her pulse started into a sprint. Her hand locked back on the wheel. The rig jerked right. The wheel went with against her will. She recalled Ferrero’s accident, anticipated the next swerve. The rig went left again. Her hands worked. Exhaust and air brakes screamed and chattered, piercing the silent dawn. The trailer brake locked up. The rig was doing its best to come to a stop. It screamed in defiance of the forces acting on it. Technology and physics tugged at it.

The wheel jerked right again. The rig readied to tip. The brakes squealed, chattered, chirped. It couldn’t anymore. Gail’d bled enough speed. The coils weighed too much. Thacker’s voice was frantic. Gail wasn’t listening. She was too focused. She threw on her hazards, blared her air-horn. The rig tried to swerve again, still couldn’t. Gail wrenched the wheel right as it fought for the left. It threw her onto the shoulder. Angry hornets growled beneath the tires from the shoulder’s rumble-strips.

The screams, squeals, and growls waned with the last of the rig’s speed. When it finally came to a complete stop, a quarter mile of smoke trailed behind Gail. A few cars zoomed past in the fast lane. One blared its horn. Somewhere in the back of Gail’s mind, she wanted to flip the bird. The rest of her was too focused on keeping her heart from seizing. She sat, body locked with both feet on the brake and Thacker’s voice badgering her. She breathed, put the rig in neutral, and killed the engine– whatever happened couldn’t continue if the truck was dead.

“Thacker, I read you. Confirm codes–” She rattled off a strings numbers. “I’m pulled over on I-74 just outside Shelbyville. I’ve got a serious problem. Find Darian. Put him on the closed-channel.”

“10-4, Gail. Glad to hear you’re in one piece,” he wheezed, as near to cardiac arrest as Gail felt.

She downed a half-bottle of water before Darian sounded on-air of their private CB channel, “Go ahead, Boss.”

She leaned out the driver’s window, eyeing her mile-long skid-marks, “I’m just outside Shelbyville. My rig’s shot. I need a pick up and exchange with one from the garage.”

He sensed she was avoiding saying too much, “10-4, Boss. Dispatch has your GPS. I’ll tow another rig out myself, prep the other back for inspection.”

His shortness told Gail exactly what she hoped to hear; he’d sensed her subtext and knew to haul the rig to examined it against Bud’s. Hopefully, she wouldn’t total another rig hauling the coils, but the risk had to be taken. At the very least, if something else happened, she’d be ready now.

“Copy, dispatch. I’m issuing operations cease as of today. Have the other drivers finish their hauls and report back. Until we inspect the fleet, I want the rigs under lock and key. And keep Roselle with you. Tell her to use her badge.”

“Dispatch copies,” Darian said a moment later. “ETA two-hours to meet. Sit-tight.”

“10-4.”

Gail threw her head back. It wasn’t often she stared death in the face. That she’d lived through it was almost a stroke of pure luck. The rig had been too heavy. Her memory too attuned to the Ferrero’s dash-cam. She’d recognized the vehicle’s attempts to execute the same maneuvers. However it had been done before, it had obviously been duplicated here.

Darian had flown at top-speed in one of the company flat-bed’s, arrived a half-hour ahead of schedule. Ben Schrier’s Freightliner Cascadia occupied the flat-bed, had just been in for minor repairs. Schrier was currently on vacation with his wife and son somewhere in Florida. Gail helped the pair to lower it off the flat-bed, then carefully maneuvered through the growing traffic to set up for the trailer-hookup. Darian pulled in front of the W900, used the flat-bed’s tow-winch to drag it up the bed and disengage the fifth-wheel. They weren’t about to take chances turning the engine back on.

Gail fitted the Cascadia’s fifth-wheel to the trailer, secured it, then dragged the trailer the rest of the way onto the shoulder. She climbed down and out, engine idling, and met up with Darian and Nora at the rear of the flat-bed. Its hazards flashed, attracting a gawkers in the fast lane. Darian was testing the last of the chains as Gail approached.

“Don’t report it yet.”

Nora’s jaw clenched slightly, “I’m afraid I have to. It’s my job.”

“Not yet,” Gail said firmly. “Confidentiality. Use it. We have to ensure no-one outside the company knows this rig’s compromised. If someone finds out, it could corrupt your investigation.” Nora’s face stiffened at questionable logic. “I know that rig is safe. I’ve driven it for fifteen years. But that’s not everything.”

Nora was uncertain, but resigned to hear Gail out, “How do you mean?”

Darian appeared. “Everything’s green. Ready when you are.”

Gail stayed him with a hand, “Ferrero.”

“You nearly lost control?” Nora asked pointedly.

“I did lose control, Nora,” Gail said carefully. Darian was leaning in now, focused over the sounds of traffic. “The swerving was a point-for-point match. The only difference was that I was heavier, recognized it, and compensated before it completely took over.”

“It? You mean the rig ?” Darian asked skeptically.

“Or whatever’s compromised it.”

Nora shook her head, “This is asinine, Gail. You’re jumping at shadows. You need–”

Gail cut her off, “Someone has done this! They murdered Ferrero. Now they’ve tried to take me out.” Darian and Nora exchanged a disquieted look. Gail sighed frustration. “Just take the rig back. Tear it down. Find the problem. I’m going to Gary. You two hail me on the CB if you find anything. Keep it quiet otherwise.”

Darian shrugged, “We’ll do what we can.”

Nora agreed. “I’ll hold off on anything formal for now.”

“Thank you,” Gail said with genuine gratitude.

The trio dispersed. Gail started out again for Gary again. Whatever the hell had happened, her body was still stuck in it. Mentally, she’d deduced that the danger had passed, but her stomach was knotted and her heart still in her throat. Most of all, she was angry; angry that Nora had doubted her, that Ferrero had been killed, that she could’ve easily been next. However it had been done, she felt M-T’s hand in it through her knotted gut. Whatever hand that was, Ferrero’s blood was on it. Bud may not have even been the first? Who knew how many they’d killed, or could.

Gail couldn’t be sure, but if she had her way, this attempt would be the last. All she had to do was wait for the evidence, then take her opportunity when it came. M-T would burn for this.

The Logbook Archives: Volume 1– Coming 11/23/16

lbav1finlowres

Incoming transmission from The Wordsmith of Sol:

Well, Crew, it’s finally done. The Logbook Archives: Volume 1 is currently on its way to you via the internet’s fantabulous conglomeration of interconnected, intergalactic pipes. On November 23rd, 2016, the first edition of the new, yearly archive of The Logbook will release. For only 2.99 on the Kindle store (or as part of the 5.00/mo contribution reward on Patreon) you can own (or pre-order) the first year’s collection of short-stories and poems in their new format. Over a hundred short stories and poems, in Ebook style, complete with a table of contents, themed headings, and a special foreword by yours truly.

But wait, there’s more!

With “LBAV1’s” completion, I can begin focusing on the Ebook formatting of the first year’s Novellas and the cover design, as well as my next, full-length novel release. But here’s the cool thing; the novella Ebook collection will be completely free! Also, “LBAV1’s” proceeds will go toward first upgrading, then maintaining, this site before it is put to other uses.

It’s been a long year of learning experiences, Crew. It’s taken longer than I’d have liked to get this stuff to you, but I know what I’m doing now, so it will take less time in the future. You’ve all been very patient and I’m extremely grateful for that.

So, thank you for everything so far, and don’t forget to mark the calendar! Alternately, visit Kindle or Patreon to keep abreast of any news you might otherwise miss. Or, if you just can’t wait ’til release, pick up a copy of The Omega Device to hold you over!

SMN

Transmission ends.

Bonus Poem Double Feature: Part 2- Futility

Vigilante,
Closing in on a candlelight vigil,
spies the masked villain,
waiting in the wings for his next victim,
and so strikes with the power of voice,
until fear eviscerates the villain’s volition.

Meanwhile,
across a scarred city in moonlight,
is a deranged would-be protector-man,
whose only intention is that of the crime of murder.
After, he’ll hide behind a shield of metal,
that prompts sounds of mangled meat.

Futility,
is seen through the looking glass of fear,
where it is easy to mistake happenstance for fate,
but reality is Ralph, and harsh and frank,
and so long as we don’t allow ourselves to, we’ll never forget,
that there is no such thing, and thus our own futures formulate.

Speaking,
will forever be the path of sustenance,
as long as our reality is that of society.
We may remain in the din but reign in the silence,
for our hearts beat truest when in solace,
may they forever then, find written words for serene survival.

Bonus Short Story: Horizon of Pastels

Early 90’s metal blared from the speakers of his ’68 Camaro. Over the dash, the waxed polish of the blue coat and white racing stripes gleamed in the bright light of the desert around it. She had her head in his lap, sucking him off. Between the vibration of the 396 V8 and her vigorous strokes, he was in utter heaven. He drove with one hand on the wheel, the other between her legs as she splayed out across the leather seats. Her sundress flapped in the hundred-mile-an-hour breeze while her throat groaned against him.

His fingers were wet inside her as she thrust her hips back and up to get off. He suddenly understood how kings and emperors felt. They were Gods among mortals, a half-dozen women on their knees for them at any time. All he had though– or needed for that matter– was her and the car. The three had been running together for months, every night out doing one drug or another, and at some point ending up in a similar position before passing out.

That was of course, all in secret. Likewise the mornings had always come too early and the glaringly recognizable car had to park down the street to drop her off at home. She walked the block in the near-darkness, her sneakers scuffing gravel the whole way. He watched her every step to the house and into the door, even despite the difficulty. And always, before leaving for wherever he was headed, he waited long enough for her to sleep, revved the engine and sped past too fast to be seen.

She never knew anything of it, but he knew exactly what he was doing. So did her father. He couldn’t see the car, but he sensed it’s owner. Always though, when he went to check on his daughter, she was fast asleep in bed– still sore from their sex hours before. If only that fat, abusive prick had known, he’d have killed them both for it.

He was one of those types that always hid their abuses in community participation. He’d take the family out to church on Sundays, and the quiet, reserved family would silently participate in the sermons. Sometimes, they’d even stay after to mingle with the other members of the congregation. She and her mother never betrayed the secret, no matter how much they wanted to, but from fear rather than love.

When she was younger, Karen– or Kay, as he always called her– had made the mistake of saying something to him about the abuse. Jake showed up the next day with a squadron of cops and a loaded .45. They pulled everyone out of the house, took them into separate interrogation rooms, had female cops examine the women physically. There was nothing to suggest abuse. Kay’s “dad” ended up beating her half to death when it was all over, but when in the hospital, everyone insisted she’d been mugged the night before, walking home.

That was the last time Jake got the law involved. Ever since then, he’d taken matters into his own hands. The prick couldn’t blame anyone when he woke up some mornings with swastikas burned into his yard, or his tires slashed, or with broken windows in his car. He always called the police, and they always took his reports, and did absolutely nothing. Most of them had gone to school with him, took him at his word. It was the same reason he’d gotten away with the beatings and escaped the interrogations unscathed.

Everything changed recently though. How he’d pulled it off, Jake didn’t know, but he knew what he’d pulled off. Kay had been in to see a gynecologist for a cursory examine after turning eighteen. Somehow the bastard got hold of her medical records, or bribed a doctor, and found out her cherry’d been popped. He also found out she was on birth-control, as opposed to the anti-acne pills she’d said she was taking.

The beating she received then only stopped when Jake showed up. The house was wrecked. Glass was shattered all over the place. Kay and her mother were barefoot in the middle of it. Blood spotted the creme-white carpets where Kay had been tossed and shoved around. Jake had been lucky enough to get a call from one of Kay’s friends. The two had been on the phone when her father came in screaming, she heard the first thuds of heavy fists, and immediately hung up.

Everyone knew Jake was bound to do something, and that calling the cops only made things worse in the long run. What they didn’t know, and few did in fact, was Jake’s proficiency with his .45. He’d spent months at the range, learning pin-point accuracy shooting at every range. He’d also learned to control his adrenaline through street-fighting, and had a morbid fascination with human anatomy.

The only thing that kept him from driving the Camaro through the front room was the fact that he’d still need it afterward. Instead, he kicked the door in off its hinges. The .45 was up and aimed straight on the old man. The snake-faced monster was poised over Kay. She lie, sprawled on the floor in her sundress, hands and feet covered in blood.

Her father actually had the gall to bark orders at Jake. He didn’t sway. His voice was calm, firm. He kept his gun and eyes level on her father, “Kay get off the floor. Get in the car.”

“Move and I’ll break your neck!” He spat at her. Jake repeated himself calmly, feeling adrenaline flood him. Her father spat again, made a move, “Son of a–”

The .45 cracked. The aim was perfect. The bullet whizzed past his left ear, close enough for a friction burn. He recoiled with a yelp. Kay skittered toward Jake. She rocketed out the door and into the street, climbing into the car.

“I could’ve killed you,” Jake said simply, unmoving. “I will if you follow me.”

The old man gave a roar, and moved to lunge. The gun angled down. Two rounds blasted his kneecaps. He fell in screaming pain. Jake lowered the gun as the monster howled and screamed pain and obscenities. He gave a final look to Kay’s mother, who stood slack-jawed to one side of the room.

“I wasn’t kidding. If he follows me, I’ll kill him,” he said, turning for the door.

Over his screaming pain, her mother called, “Take care of her.”

He stepped for the door, hesitated just before it. His head cocked a little to the side as if to speak, but he had no words. He started forward again. A few moments later, sirens screamed nearby as the Camaro’s engine revved. It’s tires squealed and it tore away from the house.

Since then they’d been driving, only stopping long enough to refuel, sleep, or fuck. They finished together; she threw back his semen like a pill and he sucked his fingers dry. She sat up with a smile, leaned against the passenger door. The bruise on her cheek was just beginning to yellow, but the light played off her face with an angelic glow, accenting her blonde hair with bright highlights.

“How was it?”

She threw back her head with a laugh, giddy from her newfound freedom, “Magnificent.”

He laughed with her.

They didn’t know what the fallout back home was, or if there would be any. For all they knew, they were fugitives, but something in Kay’s mother had told Jake she wasn’t going to make a case of it. Who knows, maybe he’d liberated her too, or opened the door for her to do it herself. Personally, he didn’t give a damn. He had Kay, she had him, and they had the car with nothing but an open road and a horizon of pastels ahead. Most of all though, they had life.

That was more than enough for anyone.

Bonus Poem: Final Breath

Passion,
Lust,
Desire,
Bred by the heart that’s caught fire.

Betrayal,
Mistrust,
Jealousy,
Claw at the back in simile.

Disgrace,
Disgust,
Shame,
In more than only name.

And yet,
to thrust,
pierce fate,
a word used most in hate.

So we stand,
amid rust,
society decayed,
to carry on as we must.

But when,
blown to dust,
our greatest feat,
We’ve no recourse but to admit defeat.

But such,
is Nature’s gust,
when soiled by us,
and left in a fuss.

She will,
with her great crust,
up-heave and quake,
not stop ’til we awake.

And from,
the miserable thrum,
of cyclic life and death,
compel from us our final breath.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: The Grave

A million to one,
the shot from a gun,
death on the run,
and a life come undone.

We should’ve known better,
than to trust in man’s sanity,
or that blood can’t get wetter,
when mixed with depravity.

But “so what” you say,
“My life’s good and okay,
good job and good pay,
no need for rebellion today.”

But what about when,
the gun’s turned in at you
will you admit then,
that the world’s gone askew?

Maybe, perhaps not.
Even if, you’re forgot.
Then again, you’ll be sought.
If so, quite a lot.

In the end all that matters,
is that life is a lesson,
and when the world’s in tatters,
we’re all a shoe-in.