Thursday, December 10, 2009

Webisode Series: The Howling - Part 2 of 5

Part Two<-- Prev   Next -->

It’s colder when I come to. How long have I slept? A shriek impales my ear drums as an elephant stampede might overwhelm a bridge of glued popsicle sticks.

This feels familiar.

I snap alert, but I’m not leaning on the horn this time. The wail silences for a moment and resounds again. I wince as my right ear pops and desperately swing my head around to the source of the noise.

I feel my blood turn to ice in my veins. It's a child. My God! I flip on the dome light, praying the illuminated interior will somehow make it disappear, revealing it a harmless mirage carried over from my subconscious. No such luck. The boy squirms like a worm on a hook in his blue snowsuit and rubs his eyes with fat fingers.

What kind of parent can’t remember having a baby? He hollers again and I fight the impulse to snap his small neck.

Liquid fire pulses through my side and abdomen as I tear through the car. Food! FOOD! Where is his fucking food? I paw over gift boxes enclosed in green wrapping paper. Worthless. I toss them outside. I can’t remember who they are for anyway.

Finally, I find powdered formula and a clean bottle and grin at the boy, thankful for the small measure of good fortune. No water, though. I step outside, scoop fistfuls of snow into the bottle, and warm it against my skin inside my shirt. He cries again. I slam the car door shut behind me. Why should both of us be miserable? That’s not logical.

The cold air bites at my face. Outside, the snow-covered wild earth looks peaceful. The crumpled Buick seems strange here. It doesn’t fit; it disrupts the serenity of the natural world. I know I should be evaluating my predicament. Yes, the art of deduction may not be beautiful or alluring, but in the end it will get me out of this nightmare so I must surrender myself completely to it.

The ride is in perfect condition aside from the flat front tire and engine-turned-accordion, I muse. But, my levity is short lived: something more concerning draws my attention.


I know they cannot not my own. They travel along the side and rear of the car, where they trample on top of each other, as if pacing back and forth. Then they turn the corner, and trail off into the dark woods, come back and trail off again. Come back and trail off.

It’s the man. And he’s not here to help me. Fear seizes hold and my irrational mind compels me to run away. I start to. I lean on my bad foot, but it crumples beneath me. I fall hard on the snow. The pain is too much and I cry out. Warm tears flow down the sides of my face and into my ears.

Idiot! Stupid, STUPID!

It feels as if it takes me forever to return to the car. If he wanted me dead, he would have done it already. I try to comfort myself, but I don’t believe my words.

The radio interrupts my thoughts.

“- for Sedgwick County. Be on the alert of a recent escapee from our local hospital. He is male, 6 foot 4 inches and Caucasian. His name is Robert Sands, also aliased as the Wolf Man.”

Rapt, I notice that I’m holding my breath.

“This person is considered extremely dangerous, known for his violent, random attacks on women and families in the area nearly fifteen years ago. Sands was last seen at 10:15 p.m. in his hospital room.”

I hear the wolf cry again in the night. It rattles me to the core. Tears follow and I let them. What could be the harm now? I know what I have to do. I must kill The Man.

I feed The Boy from the bottle now dirtied with my blood. His rhythmic sucking reminds me of a steady drumbeat. I watch him slide a pale hand over the bottle and through the wet, red ooze. Back and forth, back and forth, as steady as a heartbeat.

... Next installment 12/31 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dexter Season 4 Episode 12: The Gateway Predictions

Yep. We’re doing this again. In a few days the season finale of Dexter premieres and I’m strung tighter than a fiddle. The producers at Showtime have promised us the most explosive episode since the show’s inception. No easy task.

Once again, I thought it might be fun to stretch out the excitement, discussing a few final episode theories. Heaven knows the writers have thrown enough material at us to take it a number of directions. I feel like I could write a book. For both our sanity’s sake, I’ll limit the number of open questions to five.

#1 Will Dexter finally get the chance to kill Trinity?
This absolutely tops the list and I would say: Yes.

I don’t believe we’ll be surprised here. We’ve been strung along all season, watching Dexter thwarted time and again on bringing Trinity to erm “justice.” To be sure, he’s a worthy adversary. He’s the kind of epitome of evil that reminds us why we’re rooting for a killer like Dexter in the first place, but is oh so delicious to watch. Lithgow’s performance has truly been incredible in portraying this vulnerable psychopath, a character who recoils in disgust “I’m NOT a pedophile,” stopping short of correcting, “just a murderer,” but is savvy enough to (I believe) lure Dexter into a trap at the arcade in “Hello, Dexter Morgan!” Awesomeness.

It’s been fun to watch, but frankly, we’re ripe now for the payoff. And I think the writers recognize that. With the final shot of episode 11, ending with a face-to-face intimidation stare down reminiscent of a kind of morbid boxing match, we can be sure they are if anything only encouraging our anticipation. Trinity needs to go down. And not by the law. And it needs to be epic. Anything less will feel less like a witty stab at irony and more like some sick joke at the expense of the audience. From the episode 12 preview. we’re assured at least that he gets wrapped in plastic.

#2 Will Deb learn about Dexter’s Dark Passenger?

I’ve heard Deb finds out about her brother’s homicidal nature in the books, but I’m struggling to see how it would work in the show. Part of what makes the series so satisfying is the constant peeling away of Dexter’s safety nets to see if he can continue to get away with what he is doing. We’ve watched him survive scrutiny in the workplace and at home. This season he’s lost his trophy hiding places (twice) and his ever sturdy foundation, his code, seems to be crumbling beneath him as he finds himself taking hurried short cuts and shuffling life priorities.

Now, back to Deb. Dexter is not going to prison; our hero must prevail for at least another season. I don’t believe he’ll kill his sister, either. Should she learn the truth, it leaves us with Deb as an accomplice, or at least willing to keep his secret. In my opinion, this would suck. It gives him more wiggle room instead of less, loosening the rope the writers have worked so hard to pull taut.

From the sneak peak, we’re assured Deb learns about Dexter’s biological mother. I think it ends here.

#3 Will Quinn and Deb rekindle a romance?

I keep finding this lurking around in prediction circles, but we’ve already seen the Quinn and Deb thing happen in a previous season. Why would we visit it again, or want to? Seriously, I’m asking.

#4 What will happen to Batista and LaGuerta?
Who cares?

Season Four has been wonderful, but not perfect. This has to be the weakest plotline in the series so far. The episode that features LaGuerta staring misty-eyed into the sunset murmuring “I’m afraid… afraid to say [I love you],” in particular momentarily elicited my gag reflex. With all that is happening this season, it’s a gross misstep to assume our investment in a forbidden love affair between two relatively normal people and subsequent catharsis when they elope, escaping tragic “career-ending” consequences. Yawn. As stellar as the writing has otherwise been, I think the acting pair deserved better attention this season.

#5 Will Trinity kill Dexter’s family?
This is a tricky one. Let’s start with Rita and the kids. Probably not.

To build on the second point, we would lose Dexter’s scrutiny at home, and unfortunately for him, less drama for us in season five. But, it would also disrupt the building theme this season that I hope will be expanded upon next year: the detrimental effects living with a serial killer is having on Dexter’s family. Of course Arthur’s family is a mess, but Dexter’s has also been touched this season. His murderous impulses have arguably led to Rita’s “infidelity,” and Cody getting into fight at school. I’ve bought into it; I’m intrigued to see how Cody might be affected growing up, so clearly idolizing Dexter as his role model. Can I say that Rita has the worst taste in men?

And now Deb. Strong likelihood.

As much as I hate to admit it, I do see losing her as a real possibility. In a previous interview, Carpenter leaked that this season we will see a darker Dexter than we have grown accustomed to, that the audience has become too comfortable with our killer, and that is about to change. I can’t think of a better catalyst for his transformation than losing a member of the family, especially now as Dexter has learned how much it means to him.

Her long-held role in Dexter’s mind of moral and familial grounding is arguably now double-covered through Rita. And as a character, I think she may have been pushed about as far as the writers can take her, to the point of suffering the now-famous, gut-wrenching “I’m broken!” breakdown for which I hope earns Carpenter an award. She’s beyond likable, but writer Clyde Phillips maintains his steadfast willingness to kill off popular characters if good story-telling demands it. Adding more fuel to the fire, we’re promised in the episode preview a sinister Trinity visit to the address listing “D. Morgan,” which we might presume is Dexter’s old apartment where Deb now lives. Anyway, it seems an odd listing to have for Rita’s house (where Dexter moved). I’m inclined to vote Deb’s expendability a strong maybe.

So, what’s left?
Probably a lot.

Nothing above is the kind of earth shattering revelation the producers have promised. From the preview we know we get, another body, an emboldened Jonah squaring off with Daddy that potentially leads to a home invasion by the police. None of which I have addressed.

If anyone has pieced together more of the puzzle, I’d love to read about it below.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Webisode Series: The Howling - Part 1 of 5

Part OneNext -->

It’s the sound that startles me awake. I squint through the black and my vision slowly focuses. I can see something: numbers and a word. They are luminescent and blue. The word is: Volume. The sound is maybe a siren… no. A car horn… yes. I’m in the driver’s seat collapsed on the steering wheel. I gasp, shoot myself into the seat and the horn silences. I find myself suddenly alert from an adrenaline surge as I gulp back metallic blood. Pain shoots through my head and abdomen. I’m afraid.

Think, think, THINK! I consciously breathe deeply. Slowly in and slowly out. In and out. In and out. It’s important to avoid panic in a situation like this. One must use the capacity of the mind and cool intellect. There are many questions; prioritize them and survive. Prioritize and survive.

Number one: Am I safe? This question can be divided into two parts. For the first part, how injured am I? Secondly, how safe is my environment?

I relax balmy fists. Every body part must be checked. Stop trembling. Now! OK. I have a broken ankle, a few cracked ribs and a forehead injury. I look up into the rear view mirror, but it’s too dark. I see nothing but the whites of my eyes peering back at me. I press the base of my palm against my head. Two streams of warm blood run down my wrist and pool inside my elbow before running off. It’s not good. I know that I need to address this immediately, but allow myself a moment. I must keep myself awake. I turn on the radio. It works and the sounds of Roxette fill the dark car. I find a knit scarf on the seat beside me and tie it around my head. That should slow the blood flow. I reason that I my injuries are sufficiently taken care of, for now.

Onto the second part. I look around me in the night air. I don’t recognize the area. It must be close to the middle of the night because it is near pitch black. A full moon illuminates the snow covered pine trees below. I’m far from the main road: I can’t even see it. The headlights are still on. They filter bright beams fifty feet in front of me. I can see that I’ve hit a tree. The hood is crumpled against it. I’d be surprised if the car was drivable. It appears I’m alone in the wilderness.

It’s cold outside, but the heater is still running. Where was I going? I can’t remember. What is the last thing I did? I try to backtrack in my mind, but draw a blank. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to recall it.

Who am I? Nothing.

I decide to shove panic aside. What matters at the moment is my need for help. My head injury may be serious and the pain in my side could be a bruised lung or worse. I need to find my way to help.

I’m becoming sleepy. I must fight it. The music fades to a message sputtering through the speakers. I sit still and try to concentrate. I’m hopeful it will give me a clue on my whereabouts.

The seat envelops me like a warm protective blanket. I surrender to it. In the distance I hear a wolf cry. I wonder to myself if man was ever once a creature of instinct. A wolf would fight its way out of this mess, not sit here to die in comfort.

My eyelids are growing so heavy, so I snap them open. Fight it! I dart them to and fro along the wide, icy landscape until I see a figure ahead. Could it be? Yes! A man propped against a tree. It's dark, but there is no doubt that he IS a man. The rhythmic motion of his breathing gives his silhouette away. He doesn't move, only stands at a distance. I think he's watching me. Maybe he'll save me. I know I should cry out to him, but succumb instead back to the Sandman.

Maybe it’s easier in the black.

Next -->

You can help me hone my craft by posting your feedback below. I hope you enjoyed part one. See you next week!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2009 in a Nutshell

Hayden Elizabeth on Thanksgiving My Little Pumpkin Originally uploaded by Linux Chick.

So, Jeremy encouraged me to start up posting to my blog again, basically to stop being “chicken,” and to finally post some of the stories I’ve been working on. So, we’ll see how this goes.

Gosh, I’ve been away a while. No excuses! First thing is first, though. A catch up on the past year is in order. It’s mostly family and friends that check back here, so many of you already know. In case you don’t: we had a baby. :) She’s two months old, born September 12th of this year. She was premature by three and a half weeks, but a solid 6 lbs 12 oz, 19 inches long and no health problems. I’m lucky in that I get to be home with her on leave for another month. She’s pretty much awesome and so I’ve been cherishing the time. Above is a picture of Hayden Elizabeth.

So, besides trying to squeeze back into my old jeans again, I’ve traded my occasional evenings at BJ’s relaxing with a beer for exchanging squishy faces with the little one, cleaning spit up, and singing “You Are My Sunshine” (Hayden’s favorite). Come to think of it, it's kind of nice to have the outlet for some adult conversation during the day.

Has Anyone Seen Vighpyr?
Vighpyr: you’re my reader of 2010, for donating the most to my site’s “penny” jar as you put it. If you’re still around, send me a message here or on YouTube. I have a little Christmas present for you. It's a silly reward that doesn't mean much in the real world, but I want to show my appreciation. Thank you and I hope you continue to drop in from time to time.

Thia’s Webisodes
So, I’m planning to post my first story in short installments each Thursday at 7 p.m. The first story is one I’ve titled “The Howling.” To peak your interest, here is a (very) short preview. If you like it, come back tomorrow and next week to read more. Please don’t forget to comment – I’d love to know what’s working and what’s not for you. I hope you enjoy:


"The Howling"

It’s the sound that startles me awake. I squint through the black and my vision slowly focuses. I can see something: numbers and a word. They are luminescent and blue. The word is: Volume. The sound is maybe a siren… no. A car horn… yes. I’m in the driver’s seat collapsed on the steering wheel. I gasp, shoot myself into the seat and the horn silences. I find myself suddenly alert from an adrenaline surge as I gulp back metallic blood. Pain shoots through my head and abdomen. I’m afraid.

Think, think, THINK! I consciously breathe deeply. Slowly in and slowly out. In and out. In and out. It’s important to avoid panic in a situation like this. One must use the capacity of the mind and cool intellect. There are many questions; prioritize them and survive. Prioritize and survive...

... Next installment 12/3 7 p.m.

Season 4 Dexter Predictions

John Lithgow plays Trinity on Showtime's Dexter series

I’m one of the many completely addicted to this show inspired by the novels of the same name and starring Michael C. Hall. For me, this fourth season in particular has been the most explosive and fun ride yet. As it comes to an end, it’s a bittersweet pleasure of sort to turn on my DVR each Sunday night and watch the next installment. With only two episodes left, I thought it might be fun to spice up the anticipation by discussing some predictions of our own.

Some of my assumptions:
Before we dig into some reasonable and far-fetched, let me lay out some ground work. Scouring the nets, it’s clear that many disagree with the following. Season ending prediction surprises range from Dexter getting caught, dying and the like. These are fun to read, but for simplicity, I’ll lean on the formula we’ve been engrained with from the first season. Let’s assume, that Dexter gets two more victims. He gets one victim maximum per episode, and the last being his prime antagonist, Trinity himself in some explosive manner during the finale. This leaves only one more unknown victim, and he or she will be served to us this week.

So, who dies in episode 11?

Theory #1: Elliot gets the axe
All season, Dexter has been peeling the onion of his own persona, albeit clumsily. The character we have been accustomed to see so stoic and calm, “without human emotions” as Dexter self-describes, slowly realizes how much he values members of his family. He even becomes emotional on several occasions at crimes of the family. This very human response is undoubtedly a weakness: he uncharacteristically overlooks evidence that excludes Trinity from the guilt of his sister’s shooting, and puts himself at risk for exposure on Thanksgiving when he learns his trophy shed is no longer secure, but decides to stay at Mitchell’s house to “protect” Jonah from physical abuse. The “new” Dexter works – very yummy stuff. If you watched last Sunday, as Trinity slips away and an enraged Dexter screams his name into the night, you’ll know what I mean. So, how far are the writers planning to take this new twist on a family man?

We know that Dexter cares for his sister and children. It’s Rita that Dexter has yet to demonstrate he has much of an attachment for. But, then, with Masuka teetering on the edge of spilling her kiss with Elliot over Thanksgiving, his spousal attachment is about to be tested. Joy! I’m eager to find out if we will see the unattached “monster” we’re used to, or if Dexter will be given a lesson from the green-eyed monster. And if he does, will it be enough to send him over the edge to murder Elliot?

Killing (or even attacking) Elliot will not be simple. Dexter’s all too important code will need to be modified. We’ve had murmurings in a previous episode this season that he’d be open to some kind of a change here (the new “revenge page” of the code). But, writers will need to tread carefully to avoid losing our sympathy for our murderous protagonist that dangles by a thread each episode as it is. It may be that they have already begun to gage how far our collective sympathy can be stretched. Remember the recent episode “Road Kill” where Dexter learns he has accidentally killed an innocent man for the first time. Still, it feels a little ambitious for writers even as talented as we’ve seen thus far to pen a scenario in which we can stomach a murder as penance for a kiss. We’ll just have to see.

So, I conclude this is a stretch, but not quite out of reach.

Theory #2: Christine pays the price
It doesn’t take much dot connecting to come to the conclusion that this character has to go sooner or later. With the revelation that she shot Dexter’s sister, she doesn’t violate Dexter’s code and will easily be a major focal point for our hero. Getting to her will be difficult with the assumption at the end of episode 10 that she is now in police custody.

Christine is a huge problem for both Trinity and Dexter, since she has enough evidence to pin them both. It would be a nice and tight ending to see her somehow set loose before she spills the beans, brought to ahem Dexter’s justice, and somehow pinned for the Trinity murders. Unfortunately, the DNA evidence Deb already has on Trinity makes this ending impossible. If the police associate the name Arthur Mitchell with Trinity, Dexter will be linked through Mitchell’s family and his own cell phone records. As his own daughter, Christine is such a problem for Trinity, I could certainly him perform the deed himself.

At any rate, Dexter in jail for Season 5 sounds like a major drag of a show. If we assume Dexter will somehow brilliantly weasel his way out of suspicion this season, Trinity has to go away before the police discover Arthur Mitchell. Christine has to disappear.

Any others?
Before I close: can I say for the record that I *love* John Lithgow in this role? Who doesn’t? He’s the kind of villain you’d hope for: evil to the core, yet hopelessly vulnerable, even socially na├»ve with his own strict code of ethics that leave both Dexter and us audience members captivated by every word. I can’t wait to see him face off with Dexter this week as he learns “Kyle’s” true identity.

See you all on Sunday!

12/9 Update

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rest in peace, Bobimus.

On Saturday morning, I held our dear rat in my hands while Jeremy busily cleaned out his cage. I didn’t know then it would be for the last time. He ate a peanut, his favorite snack, and then nestled down into my Orange Bowl sweatshirt. A short time later, he fell asleep against my palms while we waited together for Jeremy to finish.

For Bob, the rest of the day was spent arranging his fresh rags around his cage in just the way he wanted. He covered his food-bowl with one, in the way we lovingly remark as his “lazy-stashing” technique. The other two, he pulled into his purple house and fluffed, pulled and fluffed again and again, until the entire house floor was covered with comfortable, clean bedding. He left a small opening at the top of his house door, to peer out on us as we unpacked the living room whenever his curiosity arose. This was his routine.

At one point last night, Bob grew tired and slowly made his way back to his house for the last time. He curled up in a ball as he liked to do, shut his eyes and laid down for rest.

Bob was three and a half.

I'm sorry it's a little depressing for a welcome back post. I've missed you guys and there will be more (uplifting news) to come.