Saturday, March 31, 2012

Excerpt from Zombieman

This is an excerpt from the novel I'm working on called Zombieman.


Alex arrives at his grandparents' house. He uses his key to enter the house. He walks into the living room. Eleanor is sitting at the computer playing a slot game. Alex walks up quietly and puts his hand on her shoulder. She jumps and turns to face him. Alex grins.

“Jesus! Don't do that,” Eleanor says.

“Sorry, where's Grandpa?” Alex says.

“He's in the office. He's messing with his radio stuff again.”

“All right.”

Alex goes to the office. He opens the door and sees his grandfather sitting in front of a radio setup. His grandfather turns to him.

“Hey buddy!” his grandfather says.

“Hey Grandpa. What are you up to?” Alex says.

“Oh, just messing around.”

“Find anything interesting? Last time I sat with you on this thing, all we found were guys telling dirty jokes.”

“Well, we did get some laughs,” Alex's grandfather says. “What were you hoping to hear?”

“I don't know,” Alex says. “Some interesting stories maybe?”

“Weren't you hoping we'd find some number stations?”

“Yeah. But you know, I've read more about number stations,” Alex says. “That kind of made me lose interest. I mean, I recall reading about one number station translation that was taken from some spies that got arrested. I think they were from Cuba. One of the messages was just them wishing everyone a happy International Women's Day. That kind of ruins the mystique, you know? Knowing that the creepy number reading might just be saying shit like that.”

“Hmm,” Alex's grandfather says. “I found one I think you might be interested in.” He reaches for a dial and turns it. “I found it about a month ago. Here it is.” He turns up the volume.

There is a brief crackling and then a voice comes through. It is low and distorted and repeats the same word over and over. “Ocho, ocho, ocho, ocho.” Alex makes a confused face at the radio. The voice continues. “Ocho, ocho, ocho ocho.” Alex looks at his grandfather who shrugs. “Ocho, ocho, ocho, ocho.” Alex mouths the word 'what' as he shakes his head. The voice keeps going. “Ocho, ocho, ocho, ocho.”

Alex's grandfather turns the volume down. Alex scratches his head.

“Was it like that when you found that station?” Alex says.

“Yeah. Just kept saying the same thing over and over again,” Alex's grandfather says.

“Doesn't say anything else? No jingle or anything like other number stations have?”

“Didn't hear anything like that whenever I tuned in to it. Just the world 'ocho' over and over again.”

“Christ, that's fucking creepy.”

“Yeah, don't know what to make of it myself.”

“I'm going to go use the bathroom.”

Alex exits the office and goes into the bathroom. He takes off his glasses and splashes water on his face. He rubs his eyes. He looks at himself in the mirror. “Jesus, that's just … “ he says to his reflection. He shudders and exits the bathroom.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why I Want to Fuck Rick Santorum (Short Story)

With apologies to J.G. Ballard.

Castration: Anxiety or Paraphilia?

A number of studies have found that the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001 has led to a wave of castration anxiety in American males. These researchers argue that this is the main factor in a resurgence of a conservative outlook on sexuality in the United States. However, this conclusion ignores the existence of the castration paraphilia. While this may seem like an esoteric fetish, our research suggests otherwise. In a study of a random sample of 2,000 college-age males, 5% who were shown a video of a castration of an adult male showed both physical arousal and self-reported a high arousal level while watching. Of the 89% that self-reported no arousal during the video, all of them showed physical arousal. This seems to suggest that the sexual appeal of castration largely exists within the subconscious.

In another study of 4,300 randomly sampled self-identified gay men of various ages, the subjects were asked to describe their most common sexual dreams. A surprisingly common dream had them frotting with a partner while being menaced by a public figure with a knife. The dream would end with the public figure severing their penises, their partner first and then them. Mostly the castration happened during orgasm but occasionally right before it. The figure varied widely from person to person. The most common two were Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Other figures included Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, Bob Vander Plaats and Rick Santorum. In a follow-up study with the same subjects, Rick Santorum had become the most common figure in the dream. Of interest to note is that almost all the subject described the penises of them and their partners as “standing together like twins” just before the castration. The castrations were almost always described as resulting in “explosions” of blood and semen.

Abortion Paraphilia

The increasingly more common phenomenon of women experiencing orgasms during abortions has only recently become the subject of research. It is tempting to dismiss this as a mere physical reaction. However, the rate of orgasm was found to be the same in women who were given a local anesthetic as compared to women given none. This is only possible if intense psychological arousal is present. Some psychologists speculated that this arousal was due to sadism and their orgasms were the result of taking part in ending what they perceived to be a human life. However, the limited research at present suggests that while sadism is a factor, and the primary one in a minority of cases, the majority of women were primarily masochists.

In a currently on-going study, women were asked to speculate why they felt aroused during their abortions in preliminary interviews. Some answers included feeling helpless and out of control during the process, being “invaded” by a stranger and the cold, “medical” feeling of the intimate procedure. 53% responded 'yes' when asked if they ever had any dreams relating to abortion in a sexual context. When asked to describe them, a common pattern emerged. The dream often began with the woman being thrown on a crib mattress or a pile of baby toys by a man famous for their opposition to abortion. Rick Santorum was the most common, with Scott Roeder and Rush Limbaugh also appearing very often. The man would then shove a bent coat hanger inside their vagina while screaming misogynistic epithets at them. Sometimes, the man would simply punch their abdomen. The dream would usually ended when the man shoved the remains of a fetus in their face and told them to “kiss their baby”. The final results of this study should prove insightful as to the nature of the apparent surge in paraphilia for abortion.

The Psychosexual Appeal of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is a common thread in not just the previously mentioned studies, but in many other studies concerned with the impact of politics on sexuality in the United States. This may suggest that his recent increase in popularity, so much so that he is the front-runner for the Republican Party presidential candidate as of this writing, is due to a psychosexual appeal that should be examined. So far, one lone study has been completed on this subject. The results prove inconclusive. The study of 1,300 randomly selected men and women (equally represented) showed a positive view of Santorum was strongly correlated with a high rating of paraphilia for castration, abortion, erotic sexual denial, infantilism and fecal matter. However, these subjects were a small minority. Participants that did not rate particularly high on any paraphilia tended toward a more ambivalent to negative view. Gay and lesbian participants with no high rating on any paraphilia gave almost universally negative ratings as did participants who rated highly for pictophilia and navel fetishism. A major flaw in this study is that it did not control for any possible subconscious paraphilia in the participants. Further and more rigorous studies are necessary.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The Human War by Noah Cicero

I read The Human War by Noah Cicero today.
I really enjoyed it.
I could write the whole review in the same style as the book.
But I won't.
That would be lame.

The first of Noah Cicero's works I read were the e-books he had on I like them a lot so I decided to get one of this books.

I ordered The Human War from a local book store. When I picked it up, the woman at the counter was really amused by the "about the author" on the back. She also said she really liked the cover art. The cover art is pretty cool.

The Human War is a novella plus two short stories, "The Doomed" and "Little Flowers". The titular novella is about a 22 year old man in Youngstown on the day the Iraq War began. He has sex, hangs out at Denny's, goes to a strip club and gets drunk. It's interesting to read about this day from this perspective. I was in middle school when that war started. Mark, the protagonist, is trying to cope with his own feelings of powerlessness and his inability to make sense of the things far beyond his control. He talks with several people. Most either against or ambivalent about the war, though at least one unambiguously for it. It doesn't matter though. Nothing they say or do will have any effect.

Both the short stories continue on similar themes. Feeling powerless and insignificant, misanthropy and the things people do to cope with these feelings.

The style of the writing makes the novella and stories look like long poems. They all feel very frantic and fast paced, despite little actually happening. There were some very funny moments in them too. My personal favorite parts were probably the opening and closing lines of The Human War.

I will be picking up more of Noah Cicero's work in the near future.

Buy The Human War by Noah Cicero here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Electric Tree (Short Story/Film Treatment)

This is a short story/film treatment that I wrote for a class in college. I recently re-read it, and I actually like it quite a bit. Enough to post it here, anyway. I hope you enjoy it too.


We see what would have once been called the skyline of the city. However, instead of the gray buildings contrasting themselves against a blue sky, they are against a sheet of pure white. It's like an unfinished sketch. The brightness of the large lights which hang from the dome encasing the city obscure its dark, opaque glass divided into honeycomb sections by the white beams which run across it. Shifting attention to the city itself, we see that each of its buildings look identical except for width and height, which seems to vary haphazardly like blocks placed by a child. Past the other gray blocks, towards a particular building, through one particular window, into one particular apartment we see a man opening the door and stepping in.

This is Cory, age 28. He is pale and thin with a face that does not immediately indicate his sex. Faint traces of black surround his dull eyes that appear to struggle to look anywhere but down. His brown, mid-length hair is pushed back, which seems to flaunt the beads of sweat that cover his forehead. Panning down, we can see that his gray tunic is marked with the number '1663' in black thread on the right side of his chest. In his left hand he carries a black duffel bag, which he tosses to the corner of his one room abode. Closing the door behind him he steps over and opens the one immediately to the right, a tiny bathroom which is nothing a shower stall with mirror under the shower head and a toilet mounted on the opposite wall. He turns the shower handle slightly and catches the trickle of lukewarm water in his hands, splashing it on his face.

After coming out and wiping his wet face on a towel hanging on the narrow wall between the front and bathroom door, he checks the clock sitting on the large, brown box that is his desk. The blue digits read 1450. He decides that he must leave now if he is to be there on time. He turns around and exits the apartment.


Cory walks down the sidewalk. We can see him passing by identical entrances that are distinguished by signs which differ only by the words on them. Apartment Building 9-6, Office Building 9-3. The street is almost empty. Cory walks several blocks before seeing another person, the one he sees every time he takes this particular route. Standing at a head taller than him, the police officer wears a tunic nearly identical to Cory's but emblazoned with the word 'POL 9 ICE' in yellow thread and around the waist is a belt with a holster on each side. He steps in front of Cory, stopping him.

“Out for a walk again, eh?” the officer remarks.

Cory brings his head up slowly, as if a weight were tied to his chin, his face meeting the officer's. The mouth on the policeman's square face is frozen in a smirk worthy of the most stoic of poker players, and his gray eyes seem to pat him down without the aid of his hands.

“Do we have to do this again, Kim? You know who I am,” Cory drones.

“Hey, I didn't make the rules. And it's, Officer Kim,” the policeman replies.

A groan crawls from Cory's throat as he reaches up and pulls down the zipper that runs up his left sleeve, revealing a bar code branded on the side of his upper arm. Officer Kim reaches in his left holster and pulls out a gray instrument. He points it at the bar code and pulls the trigger on it. A red beam flashes across Cory's arm. The officer reads the green text that scrolls up the small screen on the top of the instrument.

Name: Cory

Age: 28

Citizen Number: 1663

Occupation: Pending

Criminal Record: Attempted to publish research

findings in violation of the Safe Science Act.

Served 1 year in prison.

“The Bureau still hasn't assigned any work to you, huh?” Officer Kim notes.

“Not since I got out. They shut down the Research Facility,” Cory responds.

“That's the problem with smart guys like you. You never know when to keep your mouth shut.”

“May I go now?” The boredom in Cory's voice is obvious.

The officer steps aside and allows him to go on his way. Cory only takes a few steps before Officer Kim calls to him. “Hey, just a sec.”

Cory looks back at him.

“If you're going to be walking in Section 7, watch out. The new guys assigned to patrol there aren't as friendly as I am.”

Cory nods to Officer Kim and then turns and walks away.


It is an hour later. It is darker and the sidewalk that Cory is walking on is cracked and dug up in places. The buildings begin to show individuality. He passes a building made of red brick with most of its windows broken out, an empty doorway and a sign that has long faded away. Looking up we can see that several lights on the interior of the dome in this area are shattered and the glass on the dome is broken out in several places, allowing natural light in and revealing a green sky. Cory finally comes to the edge of the city where the dome meets the ground. He climbs through a honeycomb section that is missing its glass.

Cory sets foot on the red soil outside the dome. He examines the hill in the near distance, covered with occasional patches of brown grass and then looks up at the green sky punctured by a white sun that is settled just above the top of the hill. He trudges up the hill and stands on the top. Looking back towards the city, he can see most of the dome, plus the traces of other domes near the horizon. He turns around and peers out over to the other side. We see over his shoulder. In the distance, where the green sky meets the red ground, he sees a figure come nearer and nearer at a rapid pace.

Zooming in on this figure, we see that it's moving at an inhuman speed. Its boots kick up a cloud of red dust. Its brown camouflage raincoat sways behind it. The hood is pulled over it's head, hiding it's eyes but still showing a silver jaw with an unmoving mouth. The figure comes to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the hill where Cory stands then lightly jogs up to him.

“Sam,” Cory says, nodding to the figure standing before him.

“Cory,” the figure replies in a distinctly female voice with a metallic reverb. “Has your hand been working well?”

Cory holds up his right hand. “Yes, I've been able to hide it and I've had no problems with it so far”

Sam takes Cory's hand and pinches the skin at the wrist. She pulls it forward and the epidermis peels off like a glove, revealing a robotic hand in a shade of silver that matches Sam's unmoving mouth.

“Good” Sam says. “We'll do the lower arm today. This may take a little longer. Remove your tunic and lay on the ground.”

Cory follows her instructions. When he strips off his tunic it reveals his pale, almost skeletal physique. He lays down and Sam reaches into her coat and pulls out a syringe. She looks for a vein in Cory's arm and then injects a clear liquid into it. Cory lays staring up at the green sky. It begins to become foggy and then all goes black.


A field of tall, lush green grass sways in the light breeze. A blue sky that seems to go on forever hangs over and a bright yellow sun is the only thing that interrupts it. The wind begins to pick up and the color of this scene fades away as if an eraser is passing over it. The blades of grass become a metallic silver and bend with the wind by hinges that go across them. The sky is now black and the sun has been replaced by a giant white halogen bulb. A sharp pain and a loud crack as the bulb burns out and bursts. All goes black.


Cory awakes to an intense jolt of pain running through his arm and pulls it away from the source, yelping loudly. He sits up and sees Sam standing over him with a tool similar to a soldering iron in her hand.

“Hmm, I guess I didn't use as much anesthesia as I should have,” she says, “Thankfully, that was the last nerve I just connected. I see that you can move it properly.”

Cory looks down at his new lower arm that matches his hand. He moves it around, able to control it as well as he could the old arm. Glancing next to him, he sees a blood stained sheet and the stump of bone and muscle that was once his lower arm. A slight movement of revulsion turns in his stomach.

Sam takes the glove of artificial skin and puts it back over Cory's hand. This time, she stretches it beyond his wrist and to his elbow. It seems to melt against his real skin as she presses the flesh glove against it. His arm looks as if nothing has changed.

“Remember, keep it hidden,” Sam says, “we don't want anyone to get suspicious.”

“Sam, this is the most inefficient way possible to go about this,” Cory says with a tone of annoyance in his voice, “why can't you just replace it all at once? Why do I have to keep going back to the city?”

“If you're away for too long, the police will notice,” Sam replies, “and they will come looking for you. We can't afford the possibility that they'll find us before we're ready.”

“Still speaking in the vaguest terms possible. You and this group of yours claim to have this rebellion all mapped out, but you won't tell me anything. I'm beginning to wonder if you're just jerking me around like the people who run that place.” Cory gestures towards the dome.

Sam's unmoving mouth frowns. “Look, I apologize but I must follow the plan …”

Cory interrupts her. “Which phase of this plan involves explaining the plan to me?”

“Enough complaining. If you think I'm going about this the wrong way, you needn't come back.” She picks up the stump, wraps it in the sheet and tucks it under her coat.

As Cory puts his tunic back on, he says, “Is it the right way to go about it though? Changing ourselves this way?”

Sam sighs and puts her head down. “Humans can only prosper under the right conditions. The possibility of achieving those conditions was destroyed a long time ago. The only way we can hope for a future is to rid ourselves of our humanity,” She turns around. “You better hurry back. It'll be night soon.”

She takes off into the green to yellow gradient of the falling sun. Cory turns and heads in the opposite direction, walking back to the dome. “Rid ourselves of our humanity,” he mumbles to himself.


It's the next day. The lights on the inside of the dome are dimmed to the point that they resemble artificial stars aligned in a grid that could form no constellations except basic geometric shapes. We watch them gradually brighten and flood the city with light. Inside Cory's room, we see him sprawled across his cot asleep. As the light pours into the apartment and across his face, he stirs and awakens. He rubs his eyes and stretches, gets up and walks straight to the duffel bag in the corner of his room.

He unzips a pouch on the bag and pulls out a screwdriver. He then walks over to his desk, and takes out four screws on the side. The panel comes off, revealing that the desk has been hollowed out and there are two shelves inside full of tools and papers. He takes the clock, which reads 0604, off his desk and sets it on the floor. He takes a large white sheet of paper from the inside of the desk and lays it across the top. Next, he takes out a blueprint and pins it up on the wall. It shows a round object with a slice removed, reveling the inside. The layers of the object are labeled in messy scribbles. Cory takes several of the various tools and lines them on the desk. Next to this, he sets a stack of papers.

Cory briefly looks over the first paper in the stack. He walks back over to the duffel bag and pulls out two small, corked jars filled with cloudy yellow and blood red liquids. After setting these on the desk he goes back again and pulls out a small chunk of scrap metal. Finally, he sits down at the desk and begins to work.


The clock on the floor reads 1338. Papers are littered around it. Cory is still at his desk peering down through a standing magnifying glass. The sheet on the desk is torn in places and stained with black spots. Droppers rest inside the jars of red and yellow liquids. We finally see what Cory has been working on and it resembles a small ball bearing with tiny holes. He sets this aside then places his wrist under the magnifying glass. He takes a small blade and makes a slit in the artificial skin, exposing a section of his robotic limb. He removes a small section of the silver plating and exposes the wires and circuits underneath it. Holding the incision open with a surgical retractor, he uses a tiny pair of scissors to snip some of the wires. The contortions in his face make it apparent to us that this is a painful process. He takes the ball bearing, and with a pair of tweezers guides the wires into the holes. The wires seem to heal inside of the ball bearing which has become part of the robotic limb's system. He replaces the small section of plating and closes the slit in the artificial skin. It fuses together and we see no sign of the wound left.

Cory moves his wrist around to ensure it still works properly. Seeing that it does, he takes a rag and wipes away the sweat from his brow. He looks out the window at the white sky and the gray buildings.

“Well, Sam,” he says to the empty space, “if you don't have a contingency plan, I do.” He looks at his wrist. “It's not that I don't trust you, really. I just can't stand leaving someone else in complete control.”


It is a week later. Cory is running up a stairwell and cursing to himself.

“Shit! Shit! I should have paid more attention to the news! I should have known they would be renovating that section! I should have found another way! That fucking construction worker blew the whistle on me!”

He runs through a door exiting the stairwell and down the hall to his apartment. He throws open the door then slams it shut and locks it. He grabs the duffel bag and tears the panel off the side of his desk, throwing the tools and papers into the bag.

“There's still a chance! I still have time to find another route out of the city and meet Sam. She won't be happy but,” He pauses and throws the last of the contents of the hollowed out desk into the bag, “If I can just avoid the police. It won't be easy, but there's still a ch...”

He's interrupted by a bang on the door, which dashes his hopes of escaping. He looks out the window and briefly contemplates jumping before the door bursts open. Officer Kim stands there with his pistol drawn. Their eyes meet.

“You were caught trying to leave the city without authorization. Sorry, Cory, but I've been ordered to shoot you on sight.” Officer Kim says, his voice showing that his 'sorry' is, indeed, sincere.

“They always told us that we couldn't leave because, the air was poison outside. That's how it always works, isn't it?” Cory attempts to hide the fear in his voice, but it remains apparent, “Every new law is passed with our safety as the reason. But the Bureau can't outlaw the real threats, because they are the real threat.”

“Look, it's like I always told you, I don't make the rules.”

“No, you just follow them. It's only because you follow them, that they mean anything. Without people like you, they're nothing but impotent declarations. Without complacency, the power hungry starve.” Cory is on the verge of crying.

“I …. look. I really am sorry about this.” Kim's voice wavers.

He fires and the bullet goes straight into Cory's stomach. He clutches the bloody hole in his gut and then collapses in a heap on the floor. Kim's head drops and he rubs his eyes, attempting to hold back tears. Suddenly, a soft grinding sound comes from Cory's body. Kim walks towards him to investigate the sound.

As quickly as Kim blinks, Cory's body seems to become drained of all its fluids before collapsing into a single spot in his right wrist like a dying star. Out of this spot, a long metal appendage shoots. This robotic tentacle impales Kim through the chest. Before his face is able to register surprise or pain, he seems to mummify before our eyes and is absorbed into the appendage.

One floor down, in an apartment almost identical to Cory's, a man is taking a nap on his cot. He briefly snaps awake to a flash of silver bursting into his gut. In the basement, a janitor in the boiler room falls back in shock as the appendage barely misses him and continues to dig down into the floor. Outside, at the entrance of the building, a congress of policemen have gathered.

“The records say this is where he lives,” One of them shouts. “We have orders to shoot him immediately. Do not attempt an arrest!”

“Hey, what's the noise?” Another one says.

Another appendage, much wider in size, shoots out through the side of the building. It comes down on the policemen and the ones who are not crushed are thrown back by the force of the tentacle and the concrete rumbling and breaking. One building over, in an apartment larger than Cory's, a father places a sleeping infant into a crib as the mother sits on the cot. He turns to her and is impaled by another metal tentacle. She gasps in shock as her husband disappears, absorbed by the silver thing. She tries to run to her child but the object expands in size and blocks her path. She pounds on it, crying as she hears the baby wail on the other side. Two floors below this, a man is taking a shower when he hears the loud rumbling noise, like an earthquake, of the floors breaking he outside. He tries to open the bathroom door to investigate the noise, but the robotic tentacle has grown too large and has blocked the door. He is trapped inside.

Back in the building where this began, 5 floors up from Cory's apartment, a man is looking out his window. A column of silver bursts through his floor which pushes him out and sends him falling to the sidewalk below. Panning back, we see the metal column burst through the roof of the building, having expanded to become wide enough to completely obliterate the top two floors. It continues upward.

On top of the hill outside of the city dome, we see Sam pacing back and forth. She comes to a stop after a moment and puts her hand on her chin. “I guess he decided not to come back. A shame, he would have been a valuable asset to our cause.” Just as she finishes saying this, there is a small earthquake which catches her off-guard followed by a loud rumbling sound.

Turning her attention to the dome, she hears an ear-drum shattering crack as a giant silver column bursts through it. The column folds down into a shape resembling the top of a tree and yellow lights running up and down it crackle on. In shock, she is unable to do anything but stare at this giant mechanical tree until she receives a signal from the tree, like hearing a voice in her head.

“Cory? Is that you? But how...” She is dumbstruck, “What the hell have you done!?”

The lights on the tree blink, indicating it is giving a response.

“Your 'contingency plan'? But what is this? How is this useful!? How can this possibly help us at all!?”

The lights blink.

Sam freezes, she raises her arms as if some great truth as been revealed to her. “Of course! Yes! There's no way we can lose now! Please, go on.”

The lights blink in response and Sam stands there listening. Her unmoving mouth smiles.

End Credits Roll.