Friday, June 12, 2009

The Final Report of Chrissmas Collins' Fancy Foods Stand

Warning: This story contains several "naughty" words. I don't mind 'em, and hope you don't either, but c'est la vie.

I'm Chrissmas Collins and I had just gotten my first order of the day. One of the Grays came by and asked for depilatory cream. I shit you not, they stop here for depilatory cream.

I may be the only human who knows why. When that Gray thinks he's out of sight, he'll pop the cap off and squeeze a bit out and eat it. It's like junk food to them. The way they eat it, it must be awesome. I'm not stupid enough to try it myself. I'm just following the good old Earther way: earning my keep through private enterprise. Chrissmas Collins' Fancy Foods stand. Yes, I'm that Chrissmas Collins. Blond Bombshell of the Stars! My hair isn't really blond, my boobs are real, and my life isn't as glamorous as that special made it seem.

For instance, you saw me cleaning up after carrion, but you don't have to smell it in cramped quarters every day.

Earth wasn't always an abandoned theme park. Admit it, Earth was a theme park. The interstellar thoroughfare brought us out of a decades long depression. And then the Bellitans pulled a Route 66 on us. Now you can buy an Earth putt-putt place for a few hundred ounces of depilatory cream. No one likes putt-putt that much.

I don't like making depilatory cream. Sure, it's steady work, but I'd rather park my stand along the new highway and steal whatever business I can from space restaurants.

One of my buoys picked a Spryde ship. I punched the button to transmit a Spryde version of my blurb and let it wail on. I don't understand a word of Spryde, but according to the guy I paid to program the tone, it says "Chrissmas Collins' Fancy Rocks! We've got the most interesting rocks from the most interesting places in the Galaxy, fast and cheap! Come [untranslatable verb] our rocks!"

Luck was on my side. The ship docked with my stand and in an hours' time, I served about thirty Spryde. They're easy to please and hard to understand. Fortunately, they knew about my shortcomings and tried not to make things hard. They always love rocks from Earth and Mars, whatever the kind. They'll float it in the dark cloud of their body and their little purple sparklies will dance around the rock for a few minutes. Then, they'll give the rock back no worse for wear.

I can "sell" any rock an infinite number of times. Whatever they're doing to the rocks isn't noticeable to even other Spryde after the fact.

The rush wasn't all ease, though. One Spryde tried explaining something to me. Its sparklies kept going reddish. I couldn't understand what it was saying. "Bob's anthem marjoram parsec intersection banana hafflouty" was part of it. Yeah, I don't understand it either. Another Spryde came by and made Red see things my way. Red and my defender floated away after that.

It was a tense situation, but I kept cool under pressure.

As they left, one last Spryde approached the counter. "Bureaucrats. Coming. Affection feeling. Refuge."

That made sense, thank God. I thanked the Spryde and waited for them to leave my stand. As soon as they were out, I closed every container, clamped everything down, and got ready to make way. The bureaucrats want stands to pay a licensing fee.

If I could afford the license, I'd get real inertial dampeners so I wouldn't have to batten everything down. And I'd get real gravity plating to replace these gravity boosters I scrapped from an abandoned Mars facility. These don't even give one full Earth Gravity and I have to turn them off when I get the engine going or I'll blow a fuse and spend a week repairing life support. That's always fun.

I busted ass but wasn't fast enough. I heard the swooshy sound of a Bureaucrat ship connecting to my stand and about half a minute later a very old Garzango walked to my counter. His middle left leg seemed completely useless to him. I felt bad watching him struggle his way across the floor.

"What can I do for you, sir?" I asked. He wore the red pendant of a Bellitans bureaucracy high ranker.

"Stop selling without a license!" He growled.

"Oh really?" It was time to see if the way to this Garzango's heart was through his stomach. "I think you'd much rather a well-aged raccoon carcass. You should see how succulent it is. It's about three days old and I kept the temperatures rotating between 15C and 49C. I even have some of the original flies with it. Five in total, I think, sir."

The Garzango considered this. "My name is Uyullank. And no, I think not. It sounds very tempting. You humans really do make the best food. But you need to learn your place in the galaxy. You could make lots of money working in a Garzango restaurant.” He waved one of his feet to emphasize his point. “More than you could running this stand with a proper license!"

"Maybe so, sir, but I can make more running this stand unlicensed and I'm barely making enough money as it is. Why do you hate us so much?"

"The Garzango don't hate humans," he squinted.

"I didn't ask why the Garzango hate the humans," I put down my towel. "I asked why you hate us. I have many many Garzango customers and none of them have ever been anything but kind to me. Why does Uyullank hate humans?"

"You're trying to take our place. You take money from our restaurants. Even our kin eat here!"

You can't talk sense into someone who feels their family is threatened. I flashed the sign for family duty, nodding. "We aren't trying to take your place, but even if we were, we have as much of a right to be in space as anyone."

"Perhaps on Garzango dinner plates," his back legs flexed.

"We're not dead, Uyullank."

"Not yet, Collins. Not yet." Uyullank slapped a fine on my counter and hobbled out.

I hope his threat was an empty one, but if it's not, maybe someone who can do something about it will read this.

Attention Ms. Collins,

Thank you for your colourful report, which I believe could have been summarized as “Grays eat depilatory cream and some Garzango would like to kill all humans.” If you send further reports, please keep to the point. Do you think the Grays are interested in different flavors?


P. Jacques, Earth Information Administration

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I still exist!

Hey, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that I still exist, and I'm still writing. Various annoying things have slowed my progress, but I'm hoping to have some things up soon.

My VD project is still in the works, even though it is painfully late. However, if it turns out well, I may be submitting it to some publications rather than posting it here. That doesn't mean it will never show up here in any fashion, it's just not likely to show up that soon.

I've also discovered a new path to writing success (I'm being ridiculous on purpose, I know how it sounds, haha). No, it's not some sort of crazy scam. One of the issues with trying to get your work published these days is that unless you're already famous, it's very hard to convince a publisher to take a chance on you.

If you already have a proven audience, however, things are a lot different. A community of writers has grown up around the concept of Podcasting fiction. Some of the Podcasts are full audio drama productions (like Metamor City Podcast and Murder at Avedon Hill) and others are more like audio books (J.C. Hutchins's 7th Son trilogy and Christiana Ellis's Nina Kimberly the Merciless). Almost all of the ones I've mentioned here have turned their podcasting success into opportunities to be published.

I've actually been concerned for awhile that traditional book-and-mortar publishing is going away. Even people that I would consider real "readers" aren't sitting down with books that much any more. They are listening to podcasts. Most of them aren't listening to podcast fiction yet, but I think they will be in the future.

For the moment, I've set aside the idea of getting a book published traditionally. I'm hoping to start my own podcast, but I will probably start with a one off production like Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long-Blog, but we'll see.

In other news, you really want to buy J.C. Hutchins's new book, Personal Effects: Dark Art, which you can find in a bookstore near you, I kid you not.

P.S. The "Read More" link from the homepage is a lie unless someone comments, and then it isn't a lie.

Also, I just realized I'd left the default CAPTCHA system turned on for this blog. I don't believe in CAPTCHAs because they are ineffective and make sites inaccessible. I have turned the CAPTCHAs off and taken steps to ensure that I'm aware of spamming as soon as it occurs so I can remove it.

I understand this isn't reasonable for every situation, but if you have a blog, I urge you to look for ways to counteract spam without decreasing access for disabled people.

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