The Unconscious Mind and Cheese

I’m not sure, but I think a caffeine deficiency can keep my unconscious mind awake. It’s a little bit like having a college roommate who has a schedule opposite to your own. You know about each other’s existence and you may occasionally leave notes for one another, but you never actually sit in the same room. You walk in, see the state of the apartment and wonder, “What happened here?” or “What was he thinking?” or “How did melted cheese end up there?”

I don’t know about yours, but my unconscious self usually keeps to himself. Most of the time, he’ll stay in his part of my brain with the lights off. However, on those occasions where I’ve been too busy to down the minimum amount of coffee for the day, my conscious mind will get drowsy and my unconscious self will emerge from his crawlspace. We’ll exchange uncomfortable pleasantries and he’ll complain about the excessive quietness. We’ll both eye the dishes in the sink and then one of us will change the subject.

He’ll close the window blinds, turn off as many lights as possible, and slink into the shadows. His eyes glow just a bit, so the net effect is a tad unnerving. “Are you awake?” he’ll whisper. I’m not always sure what he hopes the answer will be. I’ll usually pull myself up and pretend that I’m fully alert. While not convinced, he will usually make some excuse and then slip back into his crawlspace. Just before closing the trapdoor, he’ll say, “Stay out of my room. You wouldn’t like what you’d see.” The door will creak closed and metal will scrape as heavy locks grind closed.

“Right,” I’ll declare. “…As if I’d want to see your lair.” He knows I do. However, I know that he knows that I do and that he still got away without doing his own dishes or explaining what happened to the couch.  I’ll pour some more coffee and rub the sleep from my eyes. “That should knock him out for a few hours,” I’ll crow. Deep down, I know that it’s only a temporary fix and that as soon as I fall asleep, he’ll sneak out and lurk, unrestrained, throughout my brain.

That reminds me, I’m going to leave him a note telling him to stop using all of my cheese.

Artificial Preview

For those who like to snag an early glimpse, I’m posting a draft of the Prologue to the third book in The Other Universes series, Artificial Stupidity. For the rest of you, I thought you might appreciate the warning.

I’ve just started work on the book, so I can’t provide many details. I can, however, offer a sneak peak that explains the title. If you are one of those people who either can’t wait, have an unhealthy amount of curiosity, or just like to click links, I’ve posted the Prologue on Wattpad.

This book will bring the major storylines to a close, completing what began in Reality Challenged and Blithering Genius. I hope to see some of the characters again as they spin off from this trilogy.

If you care to do so, I would love to hear your thoughts on the Prologue, characters, or things you’d like to see happen in this book. Who knows? You might get your wish.

A Profound Nonsense of Relief

Time has come. You can probably hear the bells on her hat. Now that she’s here, I feel a profound nonsense of relief. It’s April Fool’s Day and that can only mean one thing. Well, I suppose it can mean other things as well, but it primarily means only one thing. Blithering Genius, the second book of The Other Universes series, has been released.

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. It actually exists. The jingly hat on your head may or may not be virtual, but the book is real. It comes in three versions, eBook, paperback, and mental. Here’s a picture of the first two.

Covers

The mental version is installed as you read one of the other two versions. Think of it as the electronic copy of a movie you have on a disc. It’s actually nothing like that, but think of it anyway. Anyway, the great thing about the mental version is that the characters tend to leave the confines of the book and make themselves at home in your brain. They lose the remote, eat snacks, and nestle into remote corners for naps at odd times. They hang out with characters from other books, jump out and scare your nightmares, and tickle the inside of your skull. Sure, sometimes they’ll wake you up in the middle of the night by playing too loudly with your subconscious, but they apologize and quiet down again. Of course, then you’ll wonder what trouble they’re getting into, lurking around in the darkness beneath your conscious awareness, and you’ll turn on all of your mental lights and climb up on the furniture just to be safe.

At least, that’s the way they act in my copy. Your experience may differ. Just a moment. Time is flipping over her hourglass and the skulls inside are miming walking downstairs. I think that means that I need to wrap this up.

Blithering Genius was a great deal of fun to write and I am excited to be able to share it with you at last. The book is available at all of the usual eBook retailers, along with a pair of short stories and the first book in this series, Reality Challenged. Book 3 is being planned now, along with a group of short stories. There’s a lot more to come.

Here are some links to some of the sites where you can find Blithering Genius.

Amazon USA Smashwords iBookstore Barnes and Noble Kobo

(The Author is not responsible for any damage to a reader’s mental structure, concepts, furniture, plant life, pets, fears, hopes, ideas, or snacks caused by imaginary characters in the reader’s brain.)

Impending Blither

It’s almost upon us. Denial won’t do any good. The Ides of March have fallen and April Fool’s Day looms closer.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

Feeling better? While there are a number of different possible ways to deal with such things, I have chosen to embrace it. The manuscripts have been formatted and uploaded. Preparations have been made. Jingly hats lie in waiting. Very soon now, Blithering Genius will be unleashed upon the world.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

Are you finished? How else would you prefer to spend April Fool’s Day? There’s the usual descent into madness and nonsense: pranks, jokes, and politics. Instead, it seems to me that nothing really encapsulates the essence of the day more than a new Bubba book. Do you hear the sound of mad cackling, crashing universes, and the scritching of tiny legs? Look at the clock. Time is running out. April Fool’s Day is almost upon us.

We can take a few moments if you’d like to enjoy a brief bit of panic.

Cheesters, Earaffes and Snats, Oh My!

Anywhere there are things that Man was not meant to wot of, you’ll find a few lab techs with too much time on their hands. Most tales of Science Gone Wrong hinge on that moment when a sub-basement dweller wonders, “What if…?” Inevitably, they will be aided in their ill conceived plot by a pair of colleagues whose eyes twitch in time with the blinking yellow fluorescent lights and who share their friend’s inadequate grasp of cause and effect.

I’m writing a story that includes a world where genetic engineering passed the point of no return long ago. In the ongoing quest to create animal hybrids without any concept of the consequences, they’ve combined animal DNA that was never intended to play in the same petri dish. Some of their creations are rather harmless. Relatively, anyway.

Cheesters are cheetah-hamster hybrids. Combining the endurance and love of spinning wheels of a hamster with the size and speed of a cheetah, engineers have finally managed to create a specimen that prompts the question, “Why?” An unfortunate incident involving a door that had been propped open with a vacuum cleaner resulted in the almost complete loss of the slothalope population.

Earaffes are, obviously, a cross between eagles and giraffes. Rarely seen in the wild, surviving scouts have returned from the mountains to warn the public not to venture into earaffe territory if they packed a salad for lunch. Beautiful, graceful, and regal…None of those terms describe the earaffe. Vegans refer to them as
“ruthless, selfish, and way too impressed with themselves.” The reality is that there is something genuinely awe-inspiring about the sight of a small flock of long necked, winged earaffes diving out of the clouds into a pack of hikers intent on communing with nature.

Snats, though, are one of the most insidious creations. Snake-cat hybrids, designed by lab techs who had never had pets of their own, were intended to be the ideal house pet. “People like furry animals,” the techs reasoned. “They like having their pets sprawl on them. Having a pet that can hang on to you while you move around the house allows you to keep your hands free, while cuddling with a furry bundle of love.” While the engineer responsible for the creation of the snat was never found, rumor has it that his pet had been observed with a large bulge in its mid-section. Snats love to coil around their owners, purring and cleaning themselves with a long pink forked tongue. The beasts are especially fond of pouncing on guests from between the couch cushions, licking the back of one’s ear when one least expects it, and dropping from a chandelier to land on a pair of shoulders. Snats love to curl up and nap during the day anywhere a sunbeam can be found. At night, they tend to slither under blankets and remind their owner of their presence.  Their playful nature prompts them to ensnare ankles at the top of the stairs, lurk in the shadows, and stare deep into their owner’s eyes as if to say, “Soon, this one will be fat enough…”

All of that makes me wonder. How would you feel about having a snat for a pet? Is it adorable or creepy? Creepable? Either way, I suspect that the internet would sag under the weight of snat videos. I just hope that there’s no one reading this in a lab somewhere thinking, “What if…?”

Blithering Genius Prologue

Some have asked for more details about my upcoming book. The prologue to Blithering Genius features AAAAGGHHHH, a young girl with far too many heads. You’ve been warned…

 

1 Year Earlier…

“Don’t scream. Don’t scream,” Dr. Maryann Jensen silently reminded herself. “Whatever she does, don’t scream.” She paused. “Please, let her have only one head this time.” Inhaling deeply, she stepped into the young girl’s room. The doctor nodded to an orderly who dashed outside and slammed the door.

Facing the shadows in a corner, a single headed child scowled. Dr. Jensen allowed herself a brief sigh of relief before greeting her patient. “Good morning. Have you decided on a name, yet? We can’t very well use that…that other thing.”

“I already have a name,” muttered the girl quietly.

“Yes, but ‘Aagh’ is not a suitable name for such a pretty girl. The executives at the Mongomery Institute of Mental Health frown on that sort of thing.”

“You’re saying it wrong.”

“Well, let’s return to that later, shall we?” Dr. Jensen held up a CD cover. “I wanted to talk about this for a moment. This is the only CD we found in your bag. I would not have expected you to be a Detestica fan. Did someone give you this?”

AAAAGGHHHH’s head cocked sideways. “It’s their first album,” she explained. “It has the extra track. It was a mistake that wasn’t really a mistake.”

“You’re talking about the untitled track, right?”

“Number 11. There’s only supposed to be 10 songs, but they added an 11th track and no one at the label noticed.”

“It’s just noise,” the doctor said. “It’s roughly three and a half minutes of white noise.”

“Not a mistake,” the girl repeated.

Dr. Jensen opened her laptop and motioned for the child to come closer to see the screen. “I want to show you something and ask you a few questions.” A video buffered and then sprang to life. White padded walls dotted with faded cartoon characters filled the screen. “That looks like this room, doesn’t it,” asked the doctor. The camera panned to the left to reveal the jagged edges where the rest of the building used to be. In the distance, fires glowed on the horizon against the broken skyline. In the foreground of the video, AAAAGGHHHH stepped into view.

“That’s you, isn’t it?” Dr. Jensen asked pausing the video. The girl only blinked. “Well,” said the doctor. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it, and that’s one of the things that’s confusing me.” She clicked to resume the video. “Here’s another one.”

Detestica warned us,” said the girl in the video. “Track 11,” she said as she held up their debut CD. “The untitled track. Most people think it’s just noise. They think it’s a mistake.

SHLURP!

“AAAAGGHHHH!” screamed Dr. Jensen, pausing the video. Heads froze, partially springing out of the girl’s skin. “I’m sorry,” the doctor gasped, trying to control her breathing. “It startles me everytime.” She looked away from the screen and rubbed her temples for a moment. “Alright, let’s continue.”

“Eternity,” said a head near the child’s left elbow.

“…in a moment,” continued another on her right wrist.

“Time,” intoned a head on her chin.

“…without Time,” moaned one from her shoulder.

“It’s,” the heads paused. “Fornever,” declared the original head.

“This sound,” groaned a head on her knee. All of the heads froze for an instant, blinking owlishly at the camera. In unison, they chanted, “It’s the white noise of the End of Time.”

SHLURP!

The heads slipped and sucked back under her skin. Eyes darted left and right. “Be very careful what you think,” whispered the sole remaining face.

Dr. Jensen closed the lid on the laptop and tried once again to will her goose bumps to recede. “At the time, everyone thought that was a strange special effect. Eleven years ago, this video went viral and, some might say, is one of the big reasons for the band’s rise to fame. Of course, now that you’re here, we know this was no special effect, was it?” AAAAGGHHHH blinked. “So, one of the things I want to know,” Dr. Jensen said. “I want to know how you could have made this video that long ago? The girl in the video appears to be around your age, so there’s no way the person on the video could be you. Who is this?”

The child stared into Dr. Jensen’s eyes. “It’s me,” she answered. “I’m the only one who does that.”

“That’s not possible, child. When did you record it?”

AAAAGGHHHH tilted her head in concentration. “Not yet,” she answered.

A chill that Dr. Jensen thought threatened to remain permanently ran down her spine. “In what possible universe would you expect me to believe that you travel in time?”

SHLURP!

Dr. Jensen choked down her scream. The heads terrified her infinitely more in person than onscreen. Heads craned and peered in all directions, with blinking eyes and slack expressions. All at once, they stopped. Slowly, each head turned to face the doctor, who felt her stomach attempt to claw its way out of her throat in sheer desperation.

SHLURP!

“Mmmghppp!” squeaked the doctor through her hands, which had leapt up of their own accord to seize her mouth. Her right eye, the bravest and most foolhardy of the two, cracked open to make sure all of the extra heads were gone.

The girl glanced around quickly and whispered, “Fornever…Only in the Worst Possible Universe…”

The Hair Inside

I’m not sure, but I think I’ve been tricked by my hair. For years now, I’ve been cutting it, hacking at it like a jungle explorer with no real sense of direction. It’s had enough. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think it has secretly been growing inward. I mean, it’s not like there’s much coming out on top anymore. There are a couple of wanderers who appear to have a faulty GPS. They may claim to prefer wide open spaces, but they’re not really fooling anyone. Deep under the skin, safe from razors and sharp objects, my hair has secretly explored other nefarious options.

Wrapped around my brain, coiled around my spine, and worming its way between organs, my hair lurks in smug arrogance. I don’t know where it gets that. Oh, you’re looking at me like I’m crazy. When I had a full head of hair, I was a skinny Bubba. Now that my head reflects so much sunlight that it can shoot down satellites, I’m not quite as svelte as I used to be. The implications are obvious. I’m packing hair.

Of course, it slips up every now and then. When one of my eyes feel itchy, like there’s a stray eyelash that can’t be found, I know it’s being tickled from the inside. Strange hairs looming from ears? It’s just my hair taking a peek outside to see what’s going on. The nose hair thing is really just to irritate me. It’s playful that way.

I’m not sure about my hair’s end game. I doubt that it thought this through to a logical conclusion. Sooner or later, it will run out of room, even with an expanding cargo bay. At that point, I think it will attempt to disguise the excess hair as a bad case of Hobbit-Feet. Since hobbits are known for sporting copious amounts of silken locks from their feet, there’s a good chance that no one will notice for quite some time. Eventually, I will solve the problem by using the foot fur as a comb-over, with the added benefit of saving expensive satellites. Hey, I’m not a complete fashion noob.

Time Travel & Brains

To be or not to be is not the question. Instead, the question might be more like, “To be, not be, to have been but have ceased to exist, to never have existed until only recently long ago, to soon never have not been except when one wasn’t, or to not mis-unbe sometimes?” Let’s face it. Time travel is twisty and it injures verb tenses. There’s a simple reason for that. Our brains have difficulty bending in certain awkward poses in order to reach those neurons.

When I think of writing a story with a time travel element, my brain ties itself in knots trying to decide which theory of time travel the characters will encounter. Will they travel back to change the future only to discover that the attempt to alter the past is the very thing that ensured the development of the future they sought to avoid? Is time fluid, so that the future is always in flux and the slightest deviation can have massive impacts? Is the timeline tamper resistant, ensuring that the same outcome will occur even if past events are modified? Do deviations in the timeline create multiple universes? Can my future self travel back and unwittingly trigger a series of events that prevents me from existing, thereby erasing himself? Is there such a thing as a “present” inside a time machine? Would future civilizations use time travel as the ultimate prison by sending convicts into ancient hostile territory to be eaten by dinosaurs? What are the ethics of time travel? Is it morally right to change the past in order to “fix” the future when doing so might negatively impact other people? If it is decided that altering the timeline is wrong, how would we know that someone else hasn’t already messed it up? Would a future Dystopian society poach on the past, snatching victims and bringing them to a terrifying future, thereby causing the collapse of their own civilization by time-napping a pivotal person from their time? When someone travels in time, is the “present” the time the traveler left or is it the time in which he ends up in the past? We always think of the past as fixed and the future as being unknown, but what if the future was set and there were nearly infinite numbers of possible pasts that would all resolve into the single fixed and unchangeable future?

It doesn’t take long before my brain falls off the couch in an undignified manner and needs to spend the rest of the afternoon resting. The English language is no help, either. Attempting to express these ideas leads to impossibly twisted sentences that eat their own tails in self-defense. Villains will offer threats like, “Soon, you never will have existed,” or , “Someday, I will always have gotten away with it, too, since it soon will not have been for those darn kids.” It’s hard not to trip over those lines. After a paragraph full of them, the mind has a tendency to wander off to see what is on TV.

This is why Zombie stories are (almost) always set in the future. The Zombie Apocalypse is never set in the past because deep down, we know better. I mean, the challenge of time travel is the brain bending mental gymnastics one must perform in order to make sense of it all. What is it that zombies crave? Brains. Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. Why don’t we see time travelers running around changing the timeline now? Perhaps it’s because they’re all in the future, shuffling aimlessly in search of brains. If I’m wrong about this, someone from the future will come back and correct me before I post this.

I rest my case.

Get a (Fictional) Job

People have stuff. That guy over there has stuff. The woman in the SUV has her own stuff. Kids staring through the classroom windows have stuff. Sometimes, you look around and wonder, “How did this happen?” You might even ask, “How can I get stuff?”

If there’s one thing we learn in this world, it’s that getting stuff requires some amount of effort. Some people may need to expend more energy than others, but that’s the Law of Stuff. No, that’s not fair and equal. It’s not always fun or entertaining. It may not fulfill one’s personhood. In order to get stuff, one needs to get a job.

Hey, even fictional characters are subject to the Law of Stuff. Somebody has to blow up the massive space station before it can destroy the rebel base. Someone has to guide those furry footed characters through the wilderness in an attempt to destroy some special jewelry. When everything is falling apart, the enemy is closing, and almost all hope is gone, somebody has to give the captain a wee bit more power out of those engines. That blue box isn’t going to fly itself, you know. Being the lord of the jungle is not all fun and games. Somebody has to escort this guy through the zombie horde. I’m sorry, but somebody has to wear the red shirt in this landing party.

Just like real people, some fictional characters are defined by their careers. It might be difficult to picture them doing anything else but their “proper” job. What if that barbarian decides that a career as a mid level manager in an insurance company might be more fulfilling? A starship pilot might dream of someday owning his own ostrich ranch. A mad scientist may tire of blowing up his lab and decide to abandon world conquest in favor of working at a phone kiosk at the mall. If these characters change what they do, will it change who they are? (My characters hate it when I start asking those questions because it usually means that they’re about to get a call from HR.)

So, when fictional folks start complaining about their lot in life, I just remind them that we are all subject to these pressures. I empathize with them and assure them that I understand. I help them analyze their feelings on the matter. I offer the best advice I can give. In the end, I wish them well, and tell them to go get a (fictional) job. It’s the Law of Stuff, you understand. That’s how it works.

Humanity Was Delicious

Well, it was. Sorry.

I should probably start at the beginning. On second thought, I don’t think we have enough time for that. Ok, here’s what you need to know. A group of independent science fiction/fantasy authors came together on the Goodreads website to produce an anthology of short stories. They called their creation, Wyrd Worlds and then someone ate all of the bacon. A few months ago, a strange fog descended over the group and they decided to fry up more bacon and write a sequel. Well, some of them focused on the bacon. In a flash of creative genius, they named the second anthology, Wyrd Worlds II.

Here’s where the carnage comes in. I was minding my own business, writing about a farmer who confronts aliens, when another story crawled out of my subconscious mind. It demanded to be written. More accurately, it described how I might taste if I declined. It turns out, I’d have a hickory smoked bacon flavor. After careful consideration, I decided that the original story could be postponed. Instead, I found myself writing the story of the werewolf who ate the last human on Earth. It would have been easier without a lycanthrope trying to read over my shoulder. The warm breath behind my ear didn’t help my concentration.

Anyway, I contributed Humanity Was Delicious to the Wyrd Worlds II anthology primarily out of self-interest and the desire to avoid hearing the details of more recipes. For the record, if any exceptionally furry person ever offers you a scoop of ice cream filled with liver slivers, you are at the wrong ice cream truck.

Wyrd Worlds II is available now on the Smashwords web site for free. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover new authors and fantastic tales. Within the next few days and weeks, Wyrd Worlds II will be available for free on other eBook sites as well. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to enjoy last year’s collection, Wyrd Worlds is also free on all the normal eBook sites.

For those who download and read these books, I’d love to hear your feedback. Oh, and there’s a certain werewolf who would appreciate it if we would all eat a lot more bacon. I’m already on it.

Wyrd Worlds II is available at: iBookstore Scribd Smashwords Txtr