Who you calling old?

One of the characters in the novel I’m working on, Blood on the Water, (the sequel to Blood Justice) had herself turned into a vampire to seek revenge. That got me thinking…

If there are such things as vampires, I hope before one changes me into a ravaging blood-thirsty beast I have time to get hair plugs, a face lift, a tummy tuck, a bit-o-liposuction, and a little tightening of the neck. My nose is good. Even though I’ll be lurking in back alleys and dark parks looking for cute, blonde teenage girls (I didn’t add smart because a smart girl wouldn’t be in those places) to slake my maddening thirst for fresh young blood, I want to look good for the rest of my immortal life.

I just celebrated (?) one of those milestone birthdays no one looks forward to. If I’m destined to be changed into an immortal beast monster gentelman this isn’t the one I’d have chosen to be changed at.

What  would be the best age to be upgraded to immortal? “Go Young” you might say. But how young? Certainly not less than 18. It might sound fun to be a teenager for ever, but after 30 or 40 years you might want to go into a bar and have more than a Shirley Temple. They card vampires too, you know. Not to mention that as a teenager you might think you know it all, but you don’t. Unlike Rodney Dangerfield, if you want some respect, you should wait until at least 21 before allowing that charming bad boy/girl vamp to give you the bite that lasts. Even at 21 you’ll still get carded everywhere, and after 20 or 30 years nobody is going to look at your ID and believe you’re 40 or 50 years old. You don’t want people looking into your birth records then bugging you for the secret of how you’ve stayed so young looking, do you?

If you want to flow through the centuries with a certain level of gravitas, you might wait until 50, or even 60. Maybe 62 if you’re big on Senior Discounts. Who knows, if us mortals continue to live longer on our own 60 might be the perfect time to get that sporty convertible to scratch that mid-life crises itch. However, if you’re going to choose that option I suggest you go vegan and to the gym, starting now.

30ish would seem to be the ideal age to receive the gift, or curse, of immortality. Old enough to leave some, not all, of that youthful wildness behind you and still have your body, good looks, and hair.  If male pattern baldness is already creeping up on you, you might consider going younger, or learn how to shave your head. Bald is beautiful, Baby! You’ll also be young enough to be envied by all those old folks over 40. A plus for sure.  At 30, with experience and youthful indiscretions behind you, you’ll be ready to start building the fortune that will sustain you for the coming millennium or two; houses, cars, boats, travel, spouses.

Speaking of hair, make sure you have your hair cut in a classic style for the ages that you like. Because I’m not sure the hair of vampiric immortals will grow out to fix a bad haircut.

IDEAS

What if you were young and down on your luck, maybe living in your car, with few prospects, and a stranger, say 65-70 years old, offers you $100,000 dollars for your youth.  You would still be you, just 65-70 years old. Maybe some grey hair and some sagging here and there, but still you with the same mind as now, just older. You agree. Abra Cadabra you’re old, but not without some intelligence. You look into this age swap thing, find out the stranger’s secret, reverse engineer it, offer some not too bright drunk 25-year-old $5000 for his youth. “Sure. Why not?” he says. You swap, and then you find someone else with $100,000 and make them an offer. And you do this swap again and a again, a nice lucrative business. Except there are some bad guys who want a piece (all of it) of your action. And then there’s the father of a woman whose youth you sort of stole. And a cop who knows more about youth stealing than he should and he’s looking for you.

What if some kids are telling their Grandpa how proud they are of him that he’s such a hero, and he says, “Ain’t nothin’ to be proud of here.” And the kids say, “But everybody says you saved the town, village, city, country, world, galaxy.” “Humph,” he says. “Maybe at the end I did somethin’ good. But that ain’t how it started. They don’t tell ya that, do they?” “What do you mean, Grandpa?” He sips his whiskey and tells them, “Once upon a time….”

What if  you were a retired criminal well into your 60s, but still vital, living nicely with your wife on your ill-gotten gains. Then you had a visit from a some of your old crew. One of the old crew is dying of cancer, because a particular doctor misdiagnosed him, possibly on purpose. He has a family that depends on him. So you agree to look into it and find a criminal enterprise way beyond what you used to do. So you all decide to go against the doctor and all the other white collars who are letting people die for their own gain. The old street-smart tough guys against  the new ruthless, boardroom smart guys.

What if there was a planet where the sentient inhabitants grew old in the usual way, but at a certain time they grew younger, Benjamin Button style. As the unaged they brought all their experience of growing and being old to their government, business and culture. How would that make said government, business and culture different from ours?

What ever your age, be nice to the oldsters. Because sooner than you think you’ll be one of them bitchin that them youngsters don’t give any respect, just like you.

3 a.m. light in the window

Okay, so you’re driving from here to there and it’s 3 a.m.  You’re cruising at 70 mph past a small town you never heard of and have no idea why it’s where it is. It’s the kind of town the phrase, Roll up the sidewalks at 9 p.m., was made for. It’s all dark but for scattered streetlights. You barely know it’s there until you spot a lighted second story window. With nothing on the radio but way past their prime Oldies, Country music, or some talk show host whose only agenda is to make spurious accusations with the intent of dissing someone in power, (you know who I mean) you wonder, Who the hell is up at 3am? And why?

Could it be as simple as a parent up with a child sick with a common cold, or maybe the kid discovered the Halloween candy his/her parents hid six months ago and decided to make up for months of lost candy time in one day? Maybe it’s not so simple. The child is dying and the parent is sitting up desperately trying to thinking of a way to save the kid. And to keep yourself awake as you blithely motor by, you wonder, “What would I do to save my child?”

Of course you’d take a second job, (if you could find one) or a second mortgage, (if you could find one) or set up a website to solicit donations. Who wouldn’t? But what if money wasn’t the problem? How far would you go off the grid, out of the box? If that old cliché’ A Deal with the Devil was a viable option, would you? There are other possible deal options. A lesser demon trying to gain some sort of street cred by recruiting humans to his/her/its thrall. Aliens who need humans to carry out some ambiguous (to you) plan. A sorcerer or witch with an agenda. (see below)

If the only way to keep your child with you was to have him or her changed into a vampire, would you? Did you see the movie Let the right one in? Think carefully. Maybe it’s a vampire kid who’s sick. He got hold of some tainted blood from a drunk methhead and it was screwing up his natural vamp immunity, and his mother is up practicing her Just say no to drugged up humans speech. Or maybe change the child into a werewolf? At least he/she could go out during the day.

That 3 a.m. lighted window could be as simple as a wife waiting up for her husband whose plane was late. The question of whether or not she has a gun beside her to blow that philandering bastard away when he walks into the bedroom is a question that will have to wait for the early morning news from the police blotter to answer.

And by the way, why are you driving past that window at 3 a.m?

IDEAS

See above.

What if it was a sorcerer or witch that made your kid sick then conveniently made himself (I’ll go with sorcerer, but witches can have the same magical problems) available to cure him/her. Cures like that of course don’t come free. Where’s the story in that?  At some future date he will need your help. Of course you agree. It’s your kid and he’s not the Devil, after all. He calls. You go. He wants you to kill somebody. And he’s scared. You try and cry for another deal. No new deal. You allow him to convince you that the woman he wants dead is an evil, scheming, murdering bitch, so to keep your kid well, you agree.  Besides, you got royally screwed over 15 years ago by your BFF/evil, scheming bitch and the thought of bashing in the head of an evil, scheming, murdering bitch has a certain appeal. So, putting aside any flashes of rational thought and downing a couple of whisky neats, you go see this monster all dressed up as a hot babe and…. This is where you have to decide whether you’re going to take the high road or the low road, the road less taken, the sorcerer’s  way or the highway. And that will determine what exciting, dramatic, humorous, emotional journey comes next.

What if there’s a lonely person in that room who’s tearily writing a suicide note, though she’s convinced nobody will ever read it, or care if they do. The window is beside her. It looks out on a cold lonely landscape just like the one she has inside her. Then she sees a car drive by, the first in hours. And for a moment her despair lifts, there is someone else in the world. She presses her face to the window  and her eyes follow you in that car as you turn off to stop at an all night diner, though you weren’t planning to. Suddenly, filled with a strange purpose, the woman dashes out of the room,  races down the steps, jumps in her car and speeds to the diner where she parks next to your car.  Inside, she sits at the counter next to the only customer, you. It takes a while, but, beginning with a simple smile and a “Hi,” a conversation begins. Where it ends is up to you.

What if two lovers are in the room? They keep the light on so they can always see each other. In a tangle of sheets they lay panting, not a care in the world, just basking in  the afterglow. A car drives up. Someone gets out, enters, climbs the steps to the room. This person has a gun. Neither the lover in the bed nor the lover hiding behind the door have a gun. Yet, the car is found two days later in the all-nite diner’s parking lot. It’s owner is nowhere to be found. At least for a week or a month or a year or….

What if you are in that room? Why, good or bad, would you be up at 3a.m?

Whoever is in that lonely room, thanks to Jazz Tales streaming on KUVO 89.3 in Denver www.kuvo.org –  Sunday nights at 10p.m. Mountain Time – Weird Nightmares episode. Check it out.

Please watch out for my new adult, young adult e-novel, Ancient Mariners. It should be available by end of August.

Immortal Love

I’m reading the Sandman series of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman. The series is mostly about “beings” who existed before humanity and will exist after humanity exits the Universal stage.  The Sandman is Dream. His brothers and sisters are Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium. They are immortal. Though they exist in their own “spaces” they do interact with other “beings” and humans.

Humans die.  Immortals don’t. That’s a problem.

Suppose you were immortal. Not an immortal like a member of a team or a club, not a vampire, or a zombie, or a God/Goddess, or an alien who could go into stasis every once in a while to freshen up their  wrinkles, or a superhero, or a demon, or a regular person with superpowers from being bitten by a mosquito cursed by an African witch doctor.  You are a regular person who at a certain age (you pick) was shunned by Death and Aging. You could not die by any means, including your own hand, someone else’s hand, or any hand associated with nature, fate, religion or the supernatural. You did not age.

And you fell in love. With a mortal.

Not just a regular – Oh this person’s hot and sexy I love you let’s have sex – kind of love. A deep soul cleansing, soul mate kind of love. Someone you could say, “I’ll love you forever,” to, and mean it.  Someone you would happily give your life to save, if you could.

It has to end,  you know it does.  At some point your loved one (spouse or whatever) will figure out that you’re not getting any older and they are. Awkward. How do you handle it?  You could tell them the truth, if you trust them. Loving them does not mean you trust them to keep their mouth shut, especially if they think you’re a creep.  Because even though you are just a regular law-abiding (except for the false IDs and offshore bank accounts) citizen with only that one little secret to hide,  doesn’t mean you want it blabbed about that you can’t die.

Especially if you’re concerned (which you should be) that the “Government” might (they will) find out. Law abiding citizen that you are,  if you’ve been alive any length of time you must have acquired a rather strong skepticism about what the “Government” might do to you if they get their military/scientific mitts on you. Think disappearing into a secret lab in the middle of the desert where they’ll poke and probe you, then, for purely scientific purposes of course, try to kill you to figure you out, then, because they’re scared of you, really try hard to kill you. Failing that, it’s an underground apartment in Area 51 on a very long lease. But, there are two silver linings.  1. If you’ve been clever enough to hide all your money gained over the decades/centuries in interest bearing accounts, you’ll be making money, man.  2. You’ll eventually outlive them. So there, Mr. Soldier Scientist.  BTW, by government I’m not talking about any particular administration (though if it’s Republican at the time you’re really screwed.) I’m talking about all flavors of “Government,” with a big G.

So back to your problem. What to do? Disappear before the question comes up? Disappear after the question comes up? Just go and leave him/her a nice nest egg to  help them get over you? If they love you as much as you love them, maybe they won’t ask and you don’t tell and you go along as if nothing weird is happening. Maybe on their death-bed you can explain? How many times would you have to have that conversation over the years before your tears didn’t get in the way?

On the dark side, there’s always a dark side, especially if your true love doesn’t reciprocate like you think they should, the bitch/bastard. The simplest expedient is murder. By accident, of course. You don’t want some hotshot detective (your love child?) looking into their murder, do you? If you can’t manage murder there’s always solitary confinement in a remodeled basement in a house in the country. Best make sure they’re secure, though. If they escape they could easily make it so you dearly wished you were dead. After all, just because you can’t die, doesn’t mean you can’t hurt. Besides heartbreak, that is.

IDEAS

See above– You have time.

Why the Mouse Died

I killed a mouse the other day. Not because I wanted to, but because the Hand of Fate made me do it. Or maybe it was the Hand of coincidence.

Lunch time at work. There was a mouse sighting. A sticky trap was laid down between the desk and a file cabinet. Within ten minutes the mouse sealed its fate by running over it and becoming hopelessly stuck. Within five minutes, accompanied by mini-screams interspersed with laughs, the mouse, very much alive and valiantly struggling, was unceremoniously dumped in a dumpster. A couple of cryptic comments, and the little creature was forgotten by all. Except me.

One of the women in the group was an accomplished mouse killer. I waited a bit, but she neither volunteered nor was volunteered to dispatch the tiny creature whose only crime was being a mouse in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I wondered as I waited for lunch to be over, I knew exactly what I was going to do afterwards, was – why that mouse at that time? If I hadn’t been there that day ( I was only assigned to work there four days) that mouse would have died a slow, agonizing, forgotten  death of thirst and exhaustion as he struggled against the Great Sticky for hours, probably days. Would he wonder, as I did, why he was dying such a torturous death when he did nothing to deserve it but be born?

A few seconds reflection brings one to the expanded question of why does anybeing, human or animal, live the way they live, die the way they die?Why is one child abducted, tortured and killed painfully enveloped in fear, when another lives a long happy life and dies quietly in his or her sleep? Why is one person born into a shitty life and continue to live a shitty life when another person climbs out and makes a happy life?  Does one grab a number indicating the number of years left to live, as one slides out of the womb.  Maybe there’s red Xs by the number, one X means an easy life and death, four Xs and it’s going to bad, painful, and scary.

Or does free will and coincidence determine your end? Everything you do while taking advantage of your inalienable right to make bad choices (okay, good choices, too) puts you on the path to your demise. But coincidence is what seals your end. I used to drink. Many times I woke up scared to look at my car because I was scared of what I might find. I made a bad choice, but coincidence, chance, luck, kismet dictated that I didn’t kill anybody or myself. How many of you made (make) the same choice and it turned (turns) out badly?

Fate or Free Will? All I know about the answer to that question is that if somebody  says they know for an absolute surety which one is the one that runs our life, they don’t.

Another sticky trap, another struggling, suffering mouse. Another mercy killing. I hope fate or coincidence isn’t trying to tell me something.

Ideas

What if when you were born Fate wrote a note in the Great ledger – the when and  how of your demise. But what if Fate wasn’t quite on the up and up. What if he or she could be bribed? What would be the price to jigger your fate – money, sex, prayer, a human sacrifice? What would you pay? Who would you sacrifice? And what if that person made their own deal, involving you? Can you really escape your fate?

What if at some point in your life in order to survive you (meaning you and everybody else in your world)  had to kill the person next to you? How would that affect your life? Would you be a world of recluses? Would you live in fear, wearing six-shooter to defend yourself at the perceived murderous glance for your neighbor,  or accept it and just live your life “normally?”

What if you absolutely did not believe in “Fate,” then found out with absolute certainty you were wrong. How far would you go into the realm of Gods and other creatures to prove yourself right?

What if you absolutely did believe in “Fate” and lived your life under the assumption that whatever you did, whatever happened to you was not your fault. Then you found out with absolute certainty you were wrong. How  would that affect the way you lived?

As Fate would have it, I am exercising my Free Will and going to plan a campagne against Sticky Traps as cruel and unusual punishment. Whether my punishment or the mouse’s I’ll let________decide.

Oh Great Immortal One

Immortality, most people want it. None get it. I’m talking bodywise not publicitywise. Assuming you could have immortality, what kind would you want?

God-like immortality may be your choice. You can not die, period. Blown to smithereens, eaten by  sharks, burned to a crisp, eating the barrel of that handgun you keep next to your bed, you will survive intact. You will not die, ever, whether you want to or not. No take-backs, no do-overs, no escape clauses, no secret backdoor exits. Immortal forever. Only you, no one else. How lonely would you get? Could you handle that?

Vampire-like immortality may be more you. Gunshots, sword thrusts, diseases, long falls mean nothing to you. Shake them off and keep on keeping on.  You don’t get to bite people and share your long life, though. Again, you’ll suffer or enjoy your immortality alone. But, vampires can die and so could you. Your body injured, but intact, you’re golden. Your body destroyed, so is your life. C’est la vie.

Basic immortality is most likely to be available to you from other than supernatural forces. You won’t  age, that’s what most people want from immortality anyway. Most diseases won’t kill you. Injuries will heal quickly.  You’ll be healthy and energetic, ready for that great adventure you always wanted to take. But, your life  will be  vulnerable to natural causes, swords, bullets, buses, a car crash, a statuette ( the one you received for being such an upstanding citizen)  up side the head when your spouse catches you cheating. Or,will you become afraid to risk going outside because any simple accident might take away your gift of long life? You  might become a bit obsessive about it. But what happens when you find out that most accidents occur at home? What’s a paranoid obsessive compulsive agoraphobic to do? Or, you might believe a bit too much in what your immortality covers, go out and risk a little too much and kill yourself. A waste of a perfectly good long life. Moderation should be your watchword if the opportunity presents itself.

Immortality for you is one thing. But what if everybody could be immortal? How would that affect the social structure of the world? If nobody dies and babies keep being born, where will all those people go? How long until the demand outstrips the  resources? (Immortality aside, how close are we to that scenario now?) Would you want to live forever and never be able to eat? Would immortal Zombiefied cannibals roam the land searching for other immortal Zombiefied cannibals? Wither goest society, humanity and table manners then? On the other hand, what if the price for immortality was infertility? How would that play out?

If everybody was immortal, what would happen to human evolution? Would those who lived long enough evolve into pure thought or energy with no use for their bodies? Or would they become a collective mind working on the problem of how to commit mass suicide? The centuries and millenia might wear on a person after a while.

The bottom line, check the fine print before you take that pill or sign that parchment in blood.

IDEAS

What if, knowing what you know now, you were suddenly at  your 21st birthday and you were given a pill that would give you immortality (you pick the level). You could take the pill any time during your life and you would not age from that point. At what age would you take it –  considering family, friends, career, lovers and that you could not have kids afterwards? Are you sure? What if you didn’t know what you know now? Do you think your answer would change?

What if , starting from right NOW, you were full on God level immortal? What would you do? Nothing? Everything? Who would you tell? Would you help the world, or take advantage of it? How long do you think before you began hoping for death?

What if you fell in love? Then you found out your new love was immortal and you would grow old and die while they stayed the same. But this person loved you madly. They had spent decades, centuries trying to make the ones they loved immortal, too. With no luck. But what about going the other way? They love you so much they want to give up their long life to live and die with you. Taking on this journey with them, where would you go to find the key to their mortality? Some secret sanctuary in the mountains,  the end of an underground (underworld?) labyrinth, into space, maybe to (beyond?) a black hole’s event horizon, or track down a particular individual and using the power of your love  convince him/her to relieve them of  their immortality? Ahh, romance.

What if you spent your whole life searching for the fountain of youth, thinking it would make you young again, only to find it as an old man or woman, crippled, helpless in a wheelchair.  Maybe you had an assistant who told you to not drink until he’d translated an inscription on the fountain. But you couldn’t wait and drank, just before the assistant told you that the fountain would give you immortality, but not youth or health, and then he drank and walked away because you were such a driven bastard to work for.  Ahh irony.

What if  you were immortal. Do you think that eventually you could own the world?

“Live long and prosper.” Speaking of prosper, are you saving you dimes and quarters for a copy or six of Blood Justice in October?