Sunday, April 8, 2012

Art Feature: When War Arrives

I don't feel safe in this place anymore, but I feel like I finally have a role. Strange how war brings more roles for people into the community that weren't there in a time of peace.
There's a humvee on nearly every block these days, parked, sometimes empty, but there. It's supposed to be reassuring, I suppose, and there for our safety. It's just a new lawn ornament to me. Nothing special.

I've taken up running again. Haven't done that in years. It's really not safe to walk around, or run, but I still do it. My weights are getting more work too, but the straps that used to bind them to my ankles and wrists have long since worn through. Their weight distribution was uncomfortable anyway; I've restitched them, spread them out a bit more, added more weight. I'm getting stronger, faster, and I keep adding more weight. I know there's supposed to be a point where they do more harm than good, but I've passed that point and my body is holding together better than ever.

I'm seeing more and more people out walking, but fewer of them running. Those that are are still passing me up, making jokes about my youth and lack of effort, but I see the skimpy clothes they wear and those are completely unrealistic. I'm just wearing modified street clothing, but my whole wardrobe is modified these days. I've been wearing a lot more weight, not just in sand and metal bars when I exercise, but I've been fairly heavily armed. Not when I'm running though; then I just wear my two favorite blades, one metal, one hardened plastic, one on my left wrist, one in a special pocket in my right armpit. All the sheaths are home-made; when everybody else was running in the front doors and raiding the gun shops and grocers, I had my car pulled up to the back loading dock of the craft store. People looked at me like I was crazy, but when industries start to fail, they'll be wishing they'd had my forethought.
The government barely bothers with the warning level anymore. Those who still watch television keep track of it, I suppose, but to those of us who are more careful with our energy-allocation, it might as well be red/high all the time. It really doesn't matter: we're living every day just the same as the last.

Continue reading "When War Arrives" on deviantArt or Lemonfingers.

I wrote this before Hunger Games came out, when the book I enjoyed the most with war involved was Souls In The Great Machine. Four songs cycling in my head brought out this strange creation, blended with aspects of my dreams and concepts created by Jim Butcher and Charles deLint.

From my dreams I pulled my wish to get so used to wearing weights that I could operate and behave normally (and continue to add more weight). I know, realistically, even if my body could handle such a thing--at this point it can't--that eventually the curve would flatten out and adding more weight would only cause damage. I reference this directly in the story.

Charles deLint is a little more difficult to spot: he brings in the doorways into alternate worlds. I'll admit that plenty of other illustrious authors have used this concept, including Phillip Pullman, who I am guilty of reading, but he was not on my mind as I wrote this.

Jim Butcher is also an indirect reference, weighing in with the momentum rings that Dresden wears comparing to how much weight I wore affecting the way my body changed to my needs, as if every time I swung my arms wearing either the weights or weapons, my body would store the potential for improvement.

Remember, also, that I was drawing inspiration from a playlist cycling randomly about my head: "The Sharpest Lives" by My Chemical Romance, "Hands Held High" by Linkin Park, "Let Me Take You There" by Plain White T's, and "Hold On" by Kansas. I don't know what drew me to spin this combination, but whatever state of mind it brought me to, it was deep enough to feed me this story.

The story itself takes place in a world that is suffering from a horrible war. Maybe the terrorists are winning, maybe it's a universe where the Cold War didn't stay cold. But the main character, instead of being the kind of person who goes off to fight, instead stays home. This gives him the opportunity to become a victim of the war, but that never happens. Instead of being a victim, he rises above the situation, literally, and somehow (even I don't know how) turns himself into something more.

If I had left the story hanging, without the commentary at the end, I feel as if there would have been more focus on the character--the world he stepped over to, what happened to his future--instead of the world in which he came from. I've had readers asking me about the war, about that world, about what happens to his body, but none asking what happened to his mind, or on the other side of wherever he stepped through to, so I think I succeeded.