Saturday, March 18, 2017

Results-Driven Deity

Saw this on Facebook:


And I just... I can't stop laughing.

Can you imagine if Jesus' ministry was results-driven? Can you imagine if Lord Almighty was results-driven?

"All right, human beings. Listen up. That is it. I gave you a perfect place to live. I gave you one rule, and you broke it. I sent you out into the world, and you trashed it. I wiped out the entire sinful lot of you and preserved only the truly faithful, and left them with written instructions so nobody could get confused. And what did you do? You spread right back out and went galloping straight back to sin and iniquity! I came down there and lectured you Myself and left you with a further set of instructions. And look at you now! Just look! I boiled the whole thing down to two rules: love Me and love your neighbors. And what are the two things that you consistently fail to do? Well? That's right.

"I'm sorry, humanity. But after extensive review in committee, We've decided to cancel your funding. We're just not seeing results. You will not be renewed for next season. The good news is, I'm not going to unmake you Myself. No need, really. You'll manage it all on your own. Probably something with North Korea, but that would be telling. Good day, My children."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Opening Scene for Ash Knight

This is the opening scene for something I never finished, but probably should have:

Edrin crouched atop the thick stone wall that surrounded the temple grounds. He balanced easily, despite the rough irregularity of the surface. Chunks of glass had been set into a layer of mortar along the top of the wall, but those were only meant to discourage casual intruders. Edrin's feet found places between them, and the leather of his boots, though soft, was thick enough to protect the places where they pressed against his feet.

The area below him was dark and empty: an open area of grass and a few scattered trees. Edrin dropped into it, then pressed himself back against the wall. Nothing moved; no one cried out. He crossed the grass with steady strides, knowing that if anyone emerged from the buildings ahead there was nowhere he could hide - and knowing also that sprinting for cover would draw all the wrong sort of attention if someone did happen to glimpse him.

A covered walkway ran along the back of the nearest building. He reached it, crossed between two decorated stone pillars, and stopped again. Still there were no sounds -- no human sounds, anyway. The wind stirred softly between the trees and ran its invisible fingers through the grass, while insects whirred and buzzed in the darkness. The Temple Guard would have people nearby, but for the moment Edrin was alone.

He crouched, focusing his energy, then sprang into the air. His hands touched the edge of the roof, and guided him over. His feet landed lightly against the graveled surface of the rooftop, and he straightened. The walkway beneath ran from the Temple offices to the rear gate; the messenger would almost certainly come this way. All Edrin needed to do was wait.

He lay back on the gravel, stilling his thoughts and focusing on his breathing. He could restore his energy, at least a little, before the messenger arrived. Then he heard a door open, and cautious voices drifted across the night air. He turned his head, but still couldn't make out the words. Now he could hear footsteps as well, moving down the walkway. Or perhaps I'll rest later.

He waited until they had passed, then sat up and leaned over the side of the roof. Hanging his head down, he saw three men. The front and rear were heavyset, muscled, and armed; the one in the center was smaller, and carried a messenger's pouch. They seemed wary of the darkness -- as they should be, he thought -- but Edrin had no trouble picking out the Temple's sigil (a divided circle) on the carry-pouch. He swung down, and dropped lightly to the ground. No one appeared to be following the three men, so he fell in behind them. His steps were silent on the flagstones, even when he started to run.

A staff came into his hand as he reached them, formed from the stuff of the Heavens and layered with the curses he desired for this night's work. He brought it across, clipped the rear guard on the side of his head, and swung back to catch the messenger with a mirror of the same strike. Both men were falling as he passed them, and the lead guard was just beginning to turn when Edrin brought the staff down upon his head.

He skidded to a stop as the men hit the ground, and the staff shimmered out of existence. Reaching down, Edrin slipped the pouch off the messenger's shoulder. It was heavy in his hand, just as it should be. He opened the clasp, and saw a mixture of coins and promissory notes. That was good, but the presence of the guards was even better. A messenger might be counted on for discretion, but guards... sooner or later, guards would talk.

The time for discretion was past. He sprinted back across the grass, sprang to the top of the wall, and dropped easily to the street on the other side. It would have been easier -- and far, far safer -- to ambush the messenger outside the walls of the temple, but Edrin meant to send a message to High Priest Mathal Turvis: your status will not protect you.

The first pouch had been simple: it was carried by a solitary messenger who was not expecting trouble. This time the messenger had been accompanied by guards, which was all to the good as far as Edrin was concerned. Next time would most likely be a trap, so he would have to vary his pattern to avoid it. He could not afford to be seen.

Smiling under the hood of his cloak, Edrin walked away from the temple.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Real Work Conversations: Hunters and Badgers

My boss: "So I'll have to hunt that down."

Our Co-worker: "You're a hunter."

My boss: "I'm a hunter. Actually, I'm a badger."

Our Co-worker: "Now I have that stupid song stuck in my head."

Me: "Well, now everything is awesome."