2014 in Retrospect

As you all well know, if you are reading this, I usually keep this blog as a place of fiction and comics. Last year at this time, however, I got it into my head that it might be nice to talk a little bit about what’s happening in my life, for those that may be interested.
If you aren’t interested in my personal drivel, then take the week off from reading my stuff. If you are really hurting for a fix of Richard fiction, there are 95 other posts, most of which are fiction. I can’t imagine that there is anyone that has read them all (If I’m wrong about this let me know! You’ll get a prize!).

This year was… well… it was a year.
It was my first year with a smart phone, so endless hours disappeared to wherever those hours go. However, this also allowed me to become more active on Twitter. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t have many friends that also wrote. Now, because of Twitter, I have quite a few, many of which I cherish as close friends, though I’ve never met them in person, and have known them less than a year… which is strange.

I also made a few friends through wordpress, and I would trade them for nothing in the world.

As far as my writing goes…
I successfully posted at least once a week all year to my blog (this one!), and I’m fairly proud of most of what I put up.
I wrote the first draft of one novel, edited one other, and am in the process of editing another now, getting it ready for querying. The most exciting news of the year, however, is that during a pitch party on twitter, someone from Divertir Publishing expressed interest in my novel Harold and the Purple Wormhole. Long story short, check out their coming soon page.
I signed my contract in July, but I still can’t believe that I’m going to be published!!
No word yet on when the book will be coming out, but, trust me, once I know, EVERYONE will know.

This was my first full year in Graduate school. I’m working on my Master’s degree in Physics at San Diego State University. I’m doing some neat research involving properties of neutron stars as they spin down. In theory, I’ll be done with my degree at the end of this school year, at which time I’ll be out on the street looking for jobs teaching Physics or Astronomy at a community college.
If anyone has a suggestion for where I should apply, let me know!

My special lady and I are creeping up on 3 years together which has been wonderful beyond words. I adore her even more now than I did last year at this time, which I wasn’t sure was even possible. I could go on, but I fear it may get gushy and gross… and nobody wants to read that.

Thanks for another great year everyone!
May your new year bring you more curiosity than boredom, and reward your curiosity with wonder.20141224_154602

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Santa Claus is not Probable… Probably

Santa The sleigh-bells rang, but no one listened. The hoards of people waiting to see Santa stood in a haphazard line that snaked through the courtyard of Green Mountain Shopping Center and around a corner out of sight. The mall staff had gone through so much trouble, Nick noticed, to decorate the area for the holiday scene and play festive music fraught with sleigh-bells and warm, fuzzy feelings, but nobody paid attention to the sights nor sounds. From his great big chair, flanked by elves, Nick saw the uncomfortable parents herding bored children forward by a few steps every minute or so. Why? He asked himself, as he did every year. If it was such a pain, why did all these people wait through the line to get a picture with him?

He knew why. It was because they thought that they were supposed to and many of them, unfortunately, thought that way about all of the holidays. They gave presents, because they thought that they were supposed to. They sang, they decorated, they gave gifts, and baked cookies. They kissed under sprigs of a parasitic plant decorated with ribbon. They cut down trees and adorned them with shiny balls and flashing lights, to display the wilting corpse in their living room. They did all of these things at great expense of money, effort, and time, but none of it meant a thing, because they only did it because they were supposed to.

Nick knew the point of it all, but he had stopped telling people in recent years, because they just didn’t seem to understand. The point of Christmas, or any holiday for humans, really, was that it was a time set aside to show people that you cared about them. It was really very simple, but Hallmark had crammed the idea down everyone’s throat in the way large corporations did anything, making the sentiment feel fake and plastic.

All of these thoughts slithered through Nick’s mind in the time it took for one child to be taken off of his lap and another to be brought forward.

“This one,” Nick thought to himself, keeping a jolly smile on his face, “this one is going to be trouble.”

It was a little boy of about eight years old, wearing a blue jacket, a beanie, and a mischievous, determined grin. Nick appreciated determination, and thought a little mischief was a wonderful thing in children, so it wasn’t the grin that bothered him. What bothered him was a certain glean in the kid’s eyes. Nick had learned long ago to recognize that shine. It was the look of a kid who had recently “found out” that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. He was angry, learning that he had been lied to, and he was determined to prove to the fraud sitting in the big chair that he wasn’t an idiot. The kid wanted  to pull Nick’s beard off and declare him a fake to the cheers of suddenly enlightened children. Nick’s beard, though, was real, and it hurt like a bitch when these angry kids tugged on it.

The two elves ushered him toward Nick, but he didn’t need to be herded, he trudged straight toward Nick. The boy’s father stood back a ways, readying his camera.

Without waiting to be lifted up onto Nick’s lap, the child climbed up himself, which was awkward and uncomfortable for all involved. Including the two elves that got there just late enough to confuse things.

“What’s your name? Little boy?” Nick asked once the child had settled down on his leg. He watched the kid’s hands. Currently they sat on his lap, but were ready to launch up at any moment and grab hold of the beard.

“Jared,” the kid stated, not an ounce of humor in his voice.

“Don’t worry about that part,” Jared’s father yelled over to them, “Just pose. He already knows that there’s no Santa.”

Nick’s eyes flicked to the line of waiting children standing behind the man, horror on their faces and the promise of tears reflected in their eyes. Nick was generally good at keeping a smile on, but he knew it faltered a bit then. One of the elves, a mall security guard named Nolan that had volunteered to help out, jumped to the man and said something quietly to him. Nick tried to regain his grin.

He saw the father glance over his shoulder at the kids and shrug. Nolan stepped aside and looked back and Nick apologetically. The father began snapping pictures with a shouted command, “smile!”

Nick didn’t believe in physical violence, but if the Overlords felt the need to vaporize this man with one of the high-precision laser cannons attached to the ship in orbit, he wouldn’t have complained. He looked back down to Jared.

Before he could say anything, Jared said, “You aren’t real!” and reached up, grasping the beard in his tiny fingers. Nick couldn’t very well slap the kid’s hand away, so he grimaced and waited, wondering if maybe next year he could shave his beard and wear a fake one.

“What makes you say that?” Nick asked, trying to keep the appearance of good humor.

“It’s not possible for you to visit every kid in one night!” Jared yelled, then he yanked.

 

It was a few hours later. Jared and his father had left with a memory card full of pictures of Santa frowning in pain, while Jared battled Nolan the elf with one hand, while tugging desperately at Nick’s beard with the other. Nick almost would have liked to see how that Christmas card was going to turn out, as he rubbed his chin, still sore. He made his way down into the underground parking garage. The rest of the kids in the line had been well behaved, if not a little sad. Their attentions failed to notice the sleigh-bells from the mall speakers, but one asshole adult says that there’s no Santa Claus, and not a single tiny ear goes untouched.

He walked down the gentle slope of the garage, pulling a little black box from his pocket. The parking lots on the other side of the mall were all mostly full still, despite the late hour, “’tis the season…’ Nick grumbled at the thought. The bottom level of this parking garage, though, was completely deserted. There were a few cars, but no people.

He heard arguments against the existence of Santa Claus at least a few times a year. Kids generally decided that he didn’t exist for one, or both, of two reasons. Either they, like Jared, decided that he didn’t have time to travel all over the world in one night, or they were bothered by the idea that there were Santas in Malls all over the place. They couldn’t all be real, could they?

As he raised his arm and pushed the small button on the little black box, he wished that he could explain it to them. He wished that he could show them that there WAS actually a way to do all this, but he knew that he could not. The wormhole that his little box opened made a jingling noise in the air as it caused small pressure variances. He stepped through: out of the garage and into the lab at his workshop at the north pole. All around him bustled jolly fat men that looked exactly like him, tending tall tubes that grew even more clones.

Several looked up to Nick as he passed, nodding cheerfully. Only cheerful because they thought that they might be different from the other batches. Every year, he told them that they had changed the cloning procedure slightly, and that this year it might last. Every year, the clones believed him and thought that they wouldn’t die in excruciating pain as their bodies shut down before the new year settled in, but every year it happened anyway.

He smiled back, and delivered a few winks as he walked. He had stopped looking for a procedure that would work many years ago, resigned to the fact that it was not possible, but the lie kept them happy.

Nick wanted to explain to the small children all over the world how he could actually exist, but he didn’t think that they would understand. The humans would try to take the wormhole device that he had pilfered on Xelnak 7 before coming to earth and they would use it for war. They would try to study him in an unpleasant way. They wouldn’t appreciate the morbid cycle of cloning and death, but he did it for them.

Sometimes he wondered why he even still did it, but then he remembered, he did it because the Overlords had deemed it his punishment.

He did it because he was supposed to.

If as a Poet I did Pretend

If_as_a_poetIt’s a pitty
this ditty
I wish it had never been penned

It just will not finish
on my record a blemish
To my will the words just won’t bend

Of nothing else I can think
my brain ragged and pink
A helping hand no one will lend

They just don’t understand
why my life’s become bland
To this poem I can only tend

I try to do other things
but in my mind it still sings
For the nut-house they really should send

It’s just out of reach
help me please, I beseech
for myself I can no longer fend

I know it’s absurd
but I can’t find the right word
to give this poem a… something…

Fuck it, I give up.

Reposting oldies

I’ve recovered from the computer related catastrophe and have managed to repair the dropbox links that were broken… as far as I can tell.
If you find one that is still broken , please let me know.

I’d like to take this opportunity to repost links to those that have been fixed, because nobody has looked at them in a while, and I like them… so there.

Enjoy!

Richard

Tittle_AttractionTittle Attraction – Tittle Attraction is 4449 words. It is the quirky and awkward story of two girls brought together by an unlikely method of communication: writing on the wall of the restroom.

 

Distinct_ImpressionA Distinct Impression – (5600 words) When Elaine finds a painting in a dumpster her life takes a turn. The painting is beautiful and skillfully created, but viewing it in different lighting reveals its more sinister side.

 

Forgettable_FacesForgettable Faces – Forgettable Faces is a short piece of fiction, just under 800 words. It’s about an older man named Gerald who is out walking his dog when he runs into someone from his past.

 

Porpoise_Problems

Porpoise Problems – Porpoise Problems is just under 800 words. It is a piece of fiction about a girl and her solution to a problem she had with her personal pod of porpoises.

 

20130603-193839Magnetic Monocles –  (1500 words) In a world where the ownership of robot butlers is a status symbol, Magnical is the largest manufacturer and distributor of magnetic decal decoration for butler robots. When a member of the advertising committee makes a typo in the announcement that they will be selling a line of magnetic monocles, the internet community is outraged. Might it spell a swift and decisive end for Magnical?

 

20130520-230204

Job Proposal – Job Proposal is a 1200 word story about a hiring manager at a mining facility on the asteroid 41 Daphne. Someone from his past pops up during his search for a new school teacher, this is the story of how he deals with it.

Rumplestiltskin2sm

Rumplestiltskin 2 – As the title may suggest, a 4100 word sequel to the classic fairy tale about a woman forced to spin straw into gold who is helped by an odd little man who wants a baby. In this rendition, things work out differently, as our protagonist is the strong-willed daughter of a blacksmith with a quick mind and a few tricks up her sleeves.

 

Singleton Paradox – Singleton Paradox is a 8800 word piece of character driven science fiction about a physicist that returns home after a long voyage on an alien spacecraft following a catastrophe on his own.
Fun fact: Before this story I had written (an entire piece of crap novel, in fact), but this story is special to me, because it was among these specific typos and clichés that I first felt like a writer. It is also the oldest piece of writing that has made it onto this blog.

 

 

20130510-11310220130509-210231The Great Hat Caper – The Great Hat Caper is a short story (1600 words) about a man and some monkeys.

 

A Sunset for Iris – (1200 words) A Sunset for Iris is a piece of fiction about a boy and a girl on a date.

 

20130418-084926CROPA Story Washed Ashore – A Story Washed Ashore is a piece of fiction about a writer with writer’s block that goes on a vacation he can’t afford in an attempt to relax. In this 3600 word piece, the protagonist finds an unlikely way to unblock his writing.

20130418-084524CROP

 

Little Round Window – (8200 words) The Pisthetaerus is a generational star ship boasted to be the greatest piece of engineering ever created by man. This story takes place several years after the cataclysmic event that left Castor as the only living thing aboard, or so he thinks.

A word on some of my older stuff

Hey all,

I just wanted to say that I had some computer troubles yesterday and, though all my writing is safe, I needed the Dropbox space in a hurry and moved some folders around.
Many of my longer works that I’ve posted on here, mostly older stuff, are download links instead of the actual story. Because I moved stuff around, they are no longer accessible.
I plan to fix this in the next few days when I get a chance. I’ll post again when I do so.
If you are really jonesing for some Richard fiction, there are plenty of other stories up that don’t require a download link!
As always, thank you for reading!

Richard D Mellinger Jr

Prelude in D Sharp Major

PreludeThe most important moment to every thing’s existence is, one can argue, the moment that it came to be, yet it seems to be some sort of rule that one cannot remember it. The air gave me form. I was born through the coming together of many separate particles in the haze, condensing into a single body, or so I have been told. I don’t remember the event, of course.

It’s like there is no exact moment that I became conscious, either. I can remember, I presume, almost to the beginning, to what I am forced to assume is the beginning, because things moved less quickly then, and I looked different. I have gotten bigger, and I can remember with gray, fuzzy clarity that, once, I was much smaller, so that must have been near the beginning, but there is no definite edge to my memory, only a fading into obscurity.

As time marches forward, so do I. In every single memory that I have, I was propelled forward out of it by something: fate? time? destiny? I don’t know what it is, but I can’t go back. I left the wispy gray of my past and it was gone. As I was pushed faster and faster my shape changed, I became longer, and lost some of my roundness, but I gained other strange bulges. More important, I think, than what I am now, is that I used to be something else and can never go back. Am I still changing? I don’t feel like I’m changing, but I must be in flux, since I am not what I used to be. What lies ahead? I can’t tell. I can see that those around me have gone through similar changes, and those ahead of me are different still, but is that what I will become? What will it feel like? I see that I may look different, but will that change who I am? I resign myself to waiting to see, then I can compare, but by the time I get there, that is me and what I was when I asked is just a memory. That won’t do for objective comparison, so I let it go, and just assume that I have changed.

Way ahead in the distance I can see a vast, dark, blue expanse; an end to my existence, but it is far away, and bigger than anything I have ever seen. I can tell every once in a while that it is getting closer, but as with my changing form, its distance seems static. Its existence is disturbing, so I try not to think about it as I barrel on ahead towards it.

The wind tosses me about. I still charge ahead, I can never stop charging ahead, but sometimes the wind pushes me side to side and I meet others like me. Together we dance, and laugh, and share, but we are all headed towards that great big end, and we all know it. Some of those around me have been with me all along, as far as I know. There are others that come and go on occasion, and though a few of them I consider friends, we cannot fight the wind. It’s like our charge towards the end, we must just accept that some will be with us for the entire journey, others will come and go, while others still will enter our life for a brief time, then disappear, never to return, like the past.

I learn to enjoy and cherish those that the wind has allowed me to be near while we charge ahead to the big, dark, blue end.

The end, as it gets closer and closer, begins to develop texture, an uneven surface, and a looming presence that seems to be approaching faster than I originally thought. I try not to think about it still, and enjoy the company of the friends around me, but it is so close now that everywhere ahead of me is now an expanse of uneven, dark blue that swells and pulses, changing all the time, but always there, getting closer. I have moments where I can push it out of my mind, but as it grows closer, those moments become harder to come by.

I start to see some of those ahead of me, many of which have been my friends, disappear into the dark surface. I am scared, but it is not a surprise, I have known this was coming since the first time that I looked ahead, but it seems to be coming too fast.

As I get closer, I can see each one of them plunge headlong into the surface, the form that makes up what they are is immediately dispersed. They are gone, leaving nothing but a small ripple.

It is so close now that I can see that the surface, the end, is made of the same thing I am, when I strike it, I will become part of it, and it will be changed in a small way because of me. I suddenly understand that it only exists because we do, and we are only able to make our journeys, as short as they are, because of this great looming end. In my last moments, now able to hear the splashes of those around me meeting their ends, I reflect on my journey from the clouds. I smile as I strike the surface, sending out my own little splash and disappearing forever into the sea.

I smile because I have finally learned that without the sea at the end, raindrops like me could not exist.