The Shattered Lens
Out of focus, all the time
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4th-Apr-2014 10:44 pm - I've gone friends only
calvin-rules, rules
Yes. This is it. For completely personal reasons I've gone friends only. This is the place to comment if you think you'd like to read anything beyond LJ Idol Entries.
8th-Dec-2014 05:15 pm - Critical - LJ Idol Week 30
Calvin - Bad Idea
As I stood before the gates, that last day flooded back in my mind.

<Memory images roll past like sepia toned photos on a reel.>

I had been in country for a month, hiking through jungles and swamps, climbing over mountains and crawling through muck. My nerves were getting the better of me. I needed to get things under control. Stay calm and focus.

It took two days to crawl to the top of this ridge. I was lying under a bush on the top of a hill waiting for a minor third world general to come to this remote weapons bunker.

The scope showed the distance to the target zone as 3500 feet plus or minus 25 feet. The shot won’t be a record, but will still be pretty impressive.

          <breathe in>

After crawling into position I spent two more days of watching the bunker through the scope. Intelligence has the target making an inspection tour of this facility once per week.

I had been observing radio silence for two weeks. Random radio signals were too easy for the enemy to find.  This is the kind of a mission that the people back home never hear about. A CIA black bag job performed by a Marine force recon sniper.

                 <breathe out>

I lost my spotter a week ago. We got split up after a local farmer saw us. I waited for eight hours at the rendezvous location for him. I hoped he got out. Somehow I doubted it.

I just had to stay calm, keep watching through the scope, and wait for my one shot. One shot, one kill, just like we always practiced at Parris Island.

                         <breathe in>

I checked the range and wind again. It was so nice that the local troops hadn’t thought to trim back the bushes and weeds near their bunker. I could read the wind on the quivering of the leaves.

A shooter only gets one opportunity at a shot like this. If I missed it the entire mission was forfeit, and I wouldn’t be going home. Of course the chances of my getting out were slim anyway, since I was 100 miles from any friendly territory.

                             <breathe out>

Intelligence had said the target should be reaching this bunker on the 8th. Keeping track of time got hard when you could do nothing more than watch other’s through a rifle scope. I really hoped this was the 8th. It had been a long mission.

A convoy pulled in, security swarming the site before the final car came to a stop in the clearing in front of the bunker entrance.

                                    <breathe in>

The target stepped out of the car and into the open. He even did me the favor of standing clear of his security and looking around like a tourist.
I had him. I let my breath out slowly while squeezing the trigger. The general did a little pirouette as he fell, it was a thing of beauty.


Someone from the security team had spotted me. He pointed right at me and began firing his pistol. At this range he had no chance of hitting me with that weapon, but some of his friends had rifles and better chances.

I had a choice. I could keep firing, take some more of them out before trying to escape, maybe sow a bit of disorder among the ranks. Or I could slowly slide back down the hill and try to vanish. I think I made the wrong choice.

I took one down.

Then another.

And another.

But there were too many of them, and they were easily flanking me. I shouldered my sniper rifle and switched to the carbine as I slid down the back of the hill and tried to evade pursuit. There were too many.

My eyesight went red and my face got slick before everything went black.

<Sepia images fade to black then blinding white.>

St. Peter had a sad look on his face. “I’m sorry, son, I can’t let you in the gate. I know you’ve been told that heaven loves a U.S. Marine, and it’s true, but there’s just no place inside for you. I have a lovely spot on the wall for you. You can help us keep the forces of Hell at bay…”

This has been another entry for LJ Idol where we are in the top 35 and the topic of the week was "Critical Hit".
Calvin - I don&#39;t want to get up
Will was nervous and excited. Tonight was the night he would tell Claire how he felt and ask her out. Her divorce had just been finalized and this was the first weekend that the kids were going to spend with their father, so Claire was having a “Just Divorced” party at her house.

Will and Sarah had been divorced for years, and somehow he had gotten Claire and Jim in the divorce. Friends weren’t supposed to pick sides, but everyone knew it happened. When you split with someone generally she got her friends while you got yours, but sometimes one or two would swap sides. Claire had done that for Will. With Claire and Jim splitting, Will knew who he was choosing.

It was a beautiful summer evening and Claire had the house opened up and the back yard set up with tiki torches. Will arrived early, he was always early, but so did several of Claire’s girlfriends.  He was quickly relegated to party prep while the women talked, so any opportunity to speak with Claire didn’t happen.

As the evening progressed things didn’t get much better. He would make eye contact with her across the room and get a smile and a wink every time. Whenever he thought he would finally get a moment alone with Claire, someone would grab his elbow and he would end up getting more beer from the garage, or more ice from the freezer in the basement.

At one point one of Claire’s friends sought out his help with her baby. Who brings a baby to a party? Will ended up changing diapers and tending to the child for several hours. He had no idea how he got roped into it.

When the guests began to thin out, Claire was busy making sure everyone was safe going home and playing the good hostess, so Will went around and cleaned up, going so far as to wash glasses and take the beer bottles out to the recycling bin. He kept so busy with it that he lost track of Claire for a bit. When he looked around the house was empty. He felt almost drained at having been diverted so many times through the night.

He found her in the back yard, sitting on the kids’ swing set with a glass of wine and watching clouds sweep across the moon. Will stood on the porch for a moment, watching the moonlight in her hair with a glimmer in his own eye.  He was supremely thankful that after a full night all of the obstacles had been surpassed and he would finally get his moment with her, and it was perfect.

Claire smiled when she saw him step from the porch to the dew soaked grass. “I knew you were still here, come on out and sit with me.”

“Some party Claire.” He kept his voice soft as he approached, trying to keep himself calm as his nerves jangled. “Everyone had a great time. How about you?”

“Oh Will, this was a wonderful evening! I really appreciated all of your help tonight.” She looked up at him with a twinkle in her eye as she stood and leaned in to him, her hand on his chest and her eyes closing as he leaned in himself, instinctively knowing that this was the moment, the perfect moment for a kiss.

      Beeep!! Beeep!!         Beeep!! Beeep!!         Beeep!! Beeep!!

Will jolted awake. It was 7am and he was still in bed. The party wasn’t until tonight, yet the dream had been so real. If only it hadn’t shattered just before the best part…

This has been my entry for LJ Idol Week 29 where the topic is "Gauntlet". Yes, this entry did come to me in a dream...
4th-Nov-2014 10:42 am - Awakening to Magik - LJ Idol Week 27
Calvin - Faces
I still remember the exact moment that I found out that magik was real and not just talented con-men pulling the wool over people’s eyes. A very stern man visited me in the local psychiatric hospital to tell me that I wasn’t crazy.

I pieced together things from what he told me and the things that happened to me to land me in the psych ward in the first place. A meteor hit my house. Well, not quite. Technically the meteor hit the twelve foot space between my house and the neighbor’s place. The family next door died, but I lived.

When emergency crews arrived on the scene they found me asleep on my couch. The couch and the space around it were the only things in the house that weren’t demolished. There wasn’t a speck of dust on me. When the fireman woke me up I started screaming. Not from any physical injury, but because there was a giant standing behind him with an axe. Seriously, the dude was fifteen feet tall and wearing untanned furs. Of course none of the rescue people seemed to be able to see him.

All the way to the hospital I saw things that just couldn’t be there. We were followed most of the way by a flight of faeries. One of the medics was surrounded by a bluish aura, while the one driving looked like she had horns and flames surrounding her shoulders.

From the moment I got into the ambulance the electronics started going haywire. The ambulance was backfiring and acting weird and finally broke down in the emergency room entrance.

All the way through the hospital the lights flickered and the machines kept going nuts. The interviews with the nursing staff and the doctors seemed to go on forever, especially as they had to run out of the room to deal with some life support equipment not working. I ended up spending the night in an exam room without lights or working equipment.  It took them 36 hours to decide I was loony and lock me up.

Every time I looked out a window I saw something unreal. One room they put me in had a half dozen people in it that only I could see and hear. They were having a rousing conversation about Watergate and where Nixon went wrong.

The nurses tried to put me in a room in the middle of the building, but it was close to the elevators and they stopped working. The nurses got really pissed off when they had to take the stairs and the maintenance crew couldn’t manage to fix them until I got moved.

I finally got a “private” room. They cleared out a maintenance closet at the far end of the wing, installed a lock and rolled a bed and lamp in.

I saw a doctor once a day. He came in when they brought lunch, so I guess around noon, and asked me more questions about what I saw. It always ended with him shaking his head and prescribing some medication or other. Nothing seemed to work to their satisfaction.

With no window and only the nurses rounds to mark the time it was peaceful. I got them to bring me whatever books they had laying around. I read a lot of random medical journals. With minimal visitors and the door usually closed, my life seemed much more normal. I saw less weird stuff and the staff got happier about having me there.

When Barry Dennis walked in my door things got weird again. He was a hair under six feet tall, with salt and pepper hair and a neatly trimmed beard to match, and wearing a doctor’s white coat.  He was carrying the clipboard I recognized as having my medical information attached to it. “Are you James Varley?” Having appeared to get what he wanted from it he tossed the clipboard casually on the foot the bed.

I wasn’t sure who he was, but since he acted official I answered. “Yeah, that’s me. Jim ‘crazy man’ Varley.”

 “Nice digs kid, what are you in for?” He couldn’t have been more than a year or two older than me, oh and he had a golden aura with little purple and red flecks in it.

“You read the record, I’m crazy, I see stuff; faeries, elves, giants, dead people, auras around people, that kind of thing. Sometimes they talk to me, but I’ve been trying not to talk back to them.”

He looked me over and closed his eyes for a moment before looking me over again with shock, “Holy crap man, no wonder, your third eye is wide open! How long have you been stuck?”

Having no idea what the hell he was talking about at the time didn’t help the look I gave him. “Well, a meteor hit my house, and then all of this other weird stuff started happening. Like the little faerie dude looking in the door just now. Could you close it?”

He shooed the pixie out of the room and closed the door. “So you don’t know?”

“Don’t know what?” Acting clueless is really easy when you actually are. It took about a half hour for him to fill in some blanks for me, starting with an odd mental exercise. He had me relax everything and with my eyes closed try to close them even tighter until I felt a mental snap. When I opened my eyes his aura was gone. He had me run it back and forth a couple of times until he was satisfied that I have a handle on it.

“OK, junior, here’s the long and short of it. You’re a magi. From the sound of what happened to you the destruction of your house by the meteor triggered something that should have happened for you a long time ago. The only reason I even looked into it was that the meteor incident hit the papers complete with the story of the guy who lost his mind afterwards. All magi have this third eye ability to see beyond what normal people see and into the reality of the supernatural. We also have a tendency to draw supernatural beings to us like mosquitoes to a bug zapper.” Barry didn’t pull any punches. We talked for another hour about what had been happening around me and what I could do to get back to something more normal than the Psych ward.

Following his advice wasn’t hard and I found myself released two days later. My sister picked me up, having taken care of the insurance company in my absence, and took me home with her until I could get things taken care of. I no longer had a home. I no longer had a car. I had a job, but didn’t know if I could even return to it. There wasn’t even much left from the insurance settlement after paying the hospital bills.

My house and car were both gone. Nothing is quite as tough as starting from scratch. Thank god for family. My uncle had an old Cadillac that had belonged to my grandfather, big and beautiful in green and chrome with tailfins like a shark. He offered it to me for the cost of the storage bill. Driving the beast was more like steering the Titanic and watching out for icebergs, but it got me around.

Staying with family was nice, though every time I got near anything electronic it went haywire. I was able to watch TV if I sat at the far side of the room, but I couldn’t get anywhere near a computer or a cell phone. This was a pretty big problem. I had been a database developer. Computers had been a huge part of my life, but I had no clue what I was going to do now.

This has been my entry for LJIdol Week 27, where the topic is completely open...
Calvin and Hobbes Dancing
Sarah hated living in the mountain town of Juntelov, and really missed living near the sea. Her mom had moved here for a nursing job in the town’s only hospital. Everyone in town looked alike, with fair skin and blonde hair, making Sarah’s darker hair and sun kissed face stand out.

You are not to think you are anything special.

Most of the town seemed to be related to each other, with most of them named Swenson or Johnson. Sarah and her mom were the only resident Hispanics, and no-one else named Martinez lived here.

You are not to think you are as good as we are.

Sarah had always done well in school, but the school here was strange. She worked as hard as she could but only ever received average grades while the other kids in her class got better grades with less work and more mistakes.

You are not to think you are smarter than we are.

Art had been her favorite subject in her last school, but this school didn’t even have an art class. When she drew pictures in the margins of her papers and at the bottom of her assignments for her own enjoyment her teachers would mark over them in red pen with a note, “This is not part of the assignment.”

You are not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.

She didn’t know why she felt like everything she knew and thought was right seemed to earn her derision and scorn from teachers and her fellow students alike. She tried to be good and “hide her light under a bushel” as her mother told her, but it never seemed enough to everyone else.

You are not to think you know more than we do.

In the school on the coast she had been loved by her teachers and had a lot of friends and now she was so lonely and missing them dearly.

You are not to think you are more important than we are.

Sarah missed art class. She drew and painted on anything and everything she could at home, but missed drawing for her teachers and getting praised for her art. She begged and pleaded with her mom to get more paints, any kind of paints at all. Sarah’s mom had to drive to the next town down the mountain to find any, since there were no art stores in Juntelov.

You are not to think you are good at anything.

When she would play and laugh everyone would stop and stare. No-one seemed to laugh or have fun at school.

You are not to laugh at us.

The people where she used to live were friendlier, and everyone took care of each other. Her new neighbors wouldn’t talk to her, and her teachers spent no time to make sure she was learning. Only her mom seemed to care.

You are not to think anyone cares about you.

 The draw for art kept pulling her onward. One spring Saturday morning, she put all of her precious hoarded paints into her wagon, and dragged the ladder from the garage to the blue wall on the side of the school gym. It was quiet when she went to work and no-one came by to stop her as she painted. Sarah knew that the school and the town wouldn’t stand for it, but she just had to paint.

You are not to think you can teach us anything.

The art was glorious.


This is my entry for LJ Idol Week 26, where the topic is "crabs in a barrel".
23rd-Oct-2014 06:09 pm - Partial Eclipse
Calvin - Oh yeah?
Partial Solar Eclipse - 10/23/14
18th-Oct-2014 01:23 am - Overwatch - LJI week 25
“Overwatch to Alpha, turn on your GPS tracker please.” Colonel Jackson was a little pissed at Sgt Alpha. After three weeks getting her squad up to speed with the replacement soldiers here she was in the middle of enemy territory and she wasn’t following the ops plan.

“Overwatch this is Alpha, tracker engaged. We’re fine sir, I don’t need a babysitter. We’d love to have you out in the field though sir.”

Alpha sounded petulant to the Colonel. “Keep the chatter to a minimum Alpha. No distractions. Overwatch out.” He stepped back from the microphone and watched the control room team as they went about their assigned tasks.

Jackson had been an infantry soldier for most of his career. His Army personnel file was filled with the redactions from years running of special ops missions. Sitting in the control room watching things develop through the eyes of the overwatch satellite grated on his nerves.

“Captain Jenkins, where are we with the tactical map?” None of the operations people in the room knew what kind of soldiers this mission was commanding, they only knew the target and that two Special Forces teams were inbound.

“We have control of satellite A1500 for this mission sir. Camera overlay on the main screen now, weather in the area is clear. Screens two through four are showing the drop off points and target respectively.” This was Jenkins’ room. He knew every nuance of the screens and how things were set. “We have AWACS sixteen on screens five through eight. Full mission control is yours sir.”

“Thank you Captain.”

The Colonel paced behind his control console while watching the blips on screen representing his people as they progressed across the terrain. Alpha squad was approaching the enemy ammunition depot from the north, while Bravo squad, led by SSG Meyers took the high ground to the west and set themselves up in position to observe and lend cover fire.

The encrypted communications channel they were using came to life a moment later. “Bravo in position. Sentries down. Proceed with infiltration.”

Sgt Alpha’s voice sounded a moment later, “Enemy patrols as noted in briefing, moving in, radio silent from here, out.”

The video resolution from the satellite was impressive and the team in the control room was able to see his team work as though they were in a silent movie. Alpha squad moved around the encampment, eventually coming into contact with all of the structures while contacting only two of the enemy forces. They ended their route on the southern side of the camp and the radio crackled to life again. “All packages delivered, Alpha exiting stage left. Next check from ignition point.”

The blips that represented the 501st Special Forces converged at a point about a half mile from the enemy camp. “Ignition reached. Lighting the candle now.” Explosions ran across the enemy camp, showing as bright flashes on the monitors as the planted explosives did their work. “Teams proceeding to extraction, permission to go weapons free?”

The Colonel growled into his microphone, “Overwatch here, take out any resistance on the way to extraction, but this is not hunting season.”

“Roger that Overwatch. Radio silence until pickup. Alpha out.”

The Colonel wasn’t worried about their making it to the extraction point. It was all over but the after action report. “I’ll be in my office, call me when they get to the USS George Washington.” Keeping track of these missions was more stressful than actually going on them. Now he knew what the knowing smile on General Milley’s face was about. “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.” Yeah. He kept thinking, “Why did I want to be in charge of this circus?”

My entry for LJ Idol Week 25, where the topic is "sweep the leg".

Other entries from this world are:
The Beginning (week 16)
Intersection part I
Intersection part II with guest writer shadowwolf13
Aftermath of the loss (week 21)
Feed with shadowwolf13
Fixing the weak links
15th-Oct-2014 12:13 pm(no subject)
Stupendous Man, Calvin - Stupendous Man!, Calvin - Stupendous Man
Find a photographer
Image courtesy of: SnapKnot - Find a photographer
Calvin - writer&#39;s block
The topic this week is The Cupertino Effect...

I read this Monday night on my phone while at work (where I can’t get to LiveJournal) and was almost immediately lost. My first thought (before googling it) was something about design theory rippling out from Apple HQ like a wave of taste in a sea of the tasteless. The second thought was of maybe a technological effect of Apple leading other companies into bigger and better things.

Then I Googled it.

Well, crap.

It’s about how autocorrect has mangled various news items to occasionally hilarious results. The thing is that this is not something that has ever happened to me. I tend to use words with a purpose, especially when I’m going to put them on the internet, and while I have (often) pushed out ill-conceived diatribes to my journal, the choice of words or their spelling has never been in question.

The Cupertino effect has certainly hit me when it comes to text messages from my phone, those are a one on one messaging format and not a thing done with anyone who doesn’t understand that autocorrect sometimes comes up with hilarious results, or embarrassing ones. The worst I’ve done when posting something online is the occasional mixed verb tense or a missing plural, and neither of those is something a spellcheck is ever going to catch.

So here’s an entry, about the Cupertino effect, but all just to say that in the case of LJ Idol week 24, this entry won’t count. This is a week where even Gary admits we should be seeing fifty very similar posts, with everyone trying really hard to stand out from the rest of the field. Somehow I don’t think I’m going to manage that.

I have two byes left and I’d really like to make it into the top 50. So… This is my second bye!

One Left...
Lightning, Incinerated
The alley behind the China Palace restaurant had to be one of the filthiest in town. The smell of the food emanated from the place in waves that after a while took on an air of decay. Or maybe that was just how coming down from whatever drug cocktail had been shot into Marcus the night before made him feel. Everything was more intense the morning after a good fix.

Marcus never woke up gradually. One moment he was asleep, the next wide awake. This had gotten him out of potential trouble a time or two when the cops came around wherever he was crashing, but this particular morning it only felt alarming. There were the normal city noises, a trash truck a block over emptying dumpsters, a tomcat yowling in protection of his space, a truck making a delivery. Marcus bolted upright and immediately regretted it. The world spun and he hit his head on the brick wall. This was going to be a bad day.

It took ten minutes for him to find his feet, and another ten to make his way out of the alley. Gravity was not Marcus’ friend. Sara was. Sara got him the tasty high he had enjoyed last night, and with that fresh in his mind he set out to find her in her usual spots. He had just begun to feel less shaky and more able to walk without a building or lamppost holding him up when he found her. She was on her way to one of her favorite spots to spend an afternoon, a nice little bench in the shade by the river.

“Sara, baybee… I need another hit of that sweet medicine you got us last night. You still carryin?”

“Sorry, sweetheart, it’s all been used up. I might get some more later though.”

“Sweet… Can I score some from you when you do?”

“Marcus, this shit ain’t free. You’re gonna have to come up with some cash. Besides, I ain’t got it right now. Bring me what you can scrounge up tonight, and I’ll help you out.”

“I’ll find something, but make sure you save some for me. It makes everything right with the world!” Marcus truly believed that.

Throughout the afternoon Marcus plied his trade, spending some time with his favorite sign on one of the busier intersections. “Just visiting this planet, need money for gas to get home.” It wasn’t really a lie from his perspective, Earth bummed him out, and the planets he visited while high were just so much better. On his way back to the park, he managed to grab a couple of purses at the sidewalk cafes that weren’t too well watched.

Sara was there, waiting for him, with just the right present. She took his cash and the things he had ‘found’ and hooked him up.

Marcus’ last thought as he passed out in his alley for another night was, “maybe the aliens will keep me this time.”

This has been yet another entry for LJ Idol.
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