August Short Story: Happy Hour

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during August 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

It also forms the basis of a larger, flash fiction (250 words) based narrative under the umbrella title of ‘The Nexus Bar and Grill’ which is available to read and enjoy for $15 a month (plus a ton of other content) on my Patreon.

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Happy Hour

Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, now grasps a place in the Universe.

During day three in the asteroid belt, between too much alcohol and far too little sleep, for the first time more than just their thoughts can be heard in the womxn’s brain. Amis isn’t sure at first, wonders perhaps this could be more interference on the container’s comlink: it wouldn’t be the first time since they left Moon orbit, except that’s crew commands, machine chatter. This is music, unlike anything they’ve heard; sad, yet achingly beautiful.

Within the flowing progressions, without doubt, are words: sudden panic sets in, need to write communication down before it’s forgotten. The basic Container Plus cabin deal is BBS: bed, bathroom, screen. It is a good thing all Firsts are taught Lateral Thinking during training. The Prophet wouldn’t be here in the first place had they not exhibited exemplary skills during their final year of Psychic Attunement. With no idea of how much more might yet be revealed, or what revelations subsequently could emerge, this impromptu space must be used with care.

Looking down to their right index finger, a spot of blood appears on command.

Let First Words be drawn; Mind will record, message from history that contains everything.

‘their Past reminds
no action fixed
take Present tense
control, defined
Future is ours
all in good time…’


There are rules here, just like anywhere else. Be respectful and polite; no Swipe no Drink, Jukebox Ver. 3.5 is all we have. Please stop asking ‘why not a karaoke upgrade?’ The United Space Agencies never considered catering or entertainment as priorities and probably never will. This ship is not a luxury liner, it’s a scheduled transport, so expecting waiter service or me to come bring breakfast to your cabin ain’t happening. Once this trip took seven months, now it’s six weeks, because two thirds of this bucket is matter engines, and we’re just screwed on the front.

You can do Earth to Mars in 42 days on the Mankind’s Optimism, so why would anybody want to live in a converted container for that long? They do though, without fail. Sixteen fools shoved into cargo space. I’d never wanna be that close to the engines. That’s why I sleep in here. Between freezer and grill’s been home now for almost a decade: not gonna lie, it’s the best job ever. Pay’s going straight into Mineral Bonds: four trips from now I get to retire, for good. I’m going back to the Moon, home to the dark side. There’s a poetry in that I appreciate.

Not the Sith, Syd Barrett: quintessentially English singer, songwriter, musician who co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965. I was born exactly 100 years after the band was formed, in the place they made musically their own. I know he left them before that album was made… Don’t start with me about music trivia, because not only will I own your ass, but set fire to it before ejecting the ashes into space. Welcome to the Nexus Bar and Grill: I am your host, sous chef, fry cook and the only guy on board who knows all the porn channel access codes.

NOBODY is having sex on this bucket, of that you can be absolutely assured: everybody has personal VR however, so this is the currency that really matters. Except today, maybe there is more to consume these 46 claustrophobic minds than just trivia quizzes and personal pleasure… Today is different. Can’t tell you why, no means to describe it: start with the best night’s sleep I’ve had for dunno how long, maybe since a bed on a planet and not this hammock in space. Everything seems… brighter, cleaner. That’s actually a thing, especially here – I’m late.

05:45 ship time: technically I gotta open for business in fifteen, except nobody’s awake until at least 08:00. Except, today there he sits, surly, outside the glass, staring at a space where I’ll stand to start warming up the grills. It’s only an illusion, but still. He’s creepy.

Today, he can sit: I’m gonna watch him for a change.


This is an odd man, undoubtedly, and I’d wager he’s gaining particular pleasure trying to unsettle me. In all my years as an OffWorld Process Server this has to be the most convoluted subpoena process I’ve ever instigated. It’s also fair to say my client is one of the most obnoxiously horrendous individuals I have ever met. What motivates me, right now, is the effectively free round trip to and from the Red Planet, plus a pay cheque that will cancel every outstanding debt I’ve accrued in 35 years.

He believes I’m male, they all do, because no womxn would be stupid enough to do this. You’d think in this day and age people would grasp that there’s more to humanity’s continuing future than dicks and holes, but nope, evolution still has quite a long way to go in that regard. As I sit here, waiting to alter this cook’s future forever, not for the first time does it all feel like a massive waste. When I’m debt free, what then? There’s no plan, never has been. I am, and remain, without a purpose. The thread of motivation is close to breaking for good.

If I were a religious person, would this be easier?


Any perfect storm, when it arrives, is never expected. Universal chaos sees to that, part of the game plan only when you grasp enough of the rules to see beyond your own personal gravity. Humanity’s problem is perception. All these separate, disparate existences, waiting for some undefinable cosmic magic to weave around them, drawing consequences to results, potentials from outcomes. A long time ago a human being speculated how such threads in cosmic chaos might be predicted, and was right, but…

…only to the point where mankind was somehow the most important factor to consider. That’s where Isaac Asimov was wrong. If Humanity were the only intelligent life that existed in the Universe, his theories might have held more credence. They are not alone, just as yet unaware. Those who understand that time’s linear nature is the most dangerous restriction ever placed in a human mind, also grasp that assuming you are the most morally superior intelligence because there’s never been anything else as comparison will undoubtedly present consequences.

When the arrogant look back on their First Contact experience, in centuries to come, history will, as it always does, conveniently forget their contribution. Those of us able to look both back and forward grasp the significance of painting a bigger picture, with broader strokes. Except if Humanity is ever truly to evolve past its inescapable ego, it is a moment for those individual’s outlooks to be presented, challenged and summarily reinvented. Our job here is simple: provide the tools, step back, and see if the semi ape-descendants can bring the goods.

It’s all we’ve ever done since the dawn of this Universe.

Let’s just not talk about how we broke the last one and had to start again, okay?


Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, regains consciousness and takes a moment to grasp what happened.

This ship is no longer moving. Rapid deceleration normally indicates engine failure, yet if that were true there’d be alarms, compartments sealing automatically, panic. None of these currently exist. The Prophet is aware everyone else is unconscious except two unaffected minds. A male cook, plus the asexual courier remain unaware of what is transpiring around them. Nothing in their worlds has altered, not one iota, yet the Prophet understands, only too well, absolutely everything else has. Then there is that third presence, directly outside their cabin.

As old as the Universe, and that which had come before, ancient energy regards Red Amis with increasing interest. This arrival, overheard by accident, significance of moment already grasped; suddenly removed from linear time, womxn resisted command sent to everyone else to sleep.

You are aware of my energy, not afraid of its origin

“You are a prophecy I have grasped since childhood.”

Red Amis speaks to the space where before was nothing and now exists… motion, fractal expansion, molecules that hold no human form yet are undoubtedly human in origin… before blissfully for a second, two entities become the same, one space for the same atoms, seamlessly overlapping before suddenly, the presence has vanished.

Then, all the womxn can do is laugh, because the answer to everything was only ever going to be another question.


For exactly seven minutes and twelve seconds on September 21st, 2099, the container vessel NSS Utopia Planitia appeared to vanish before reappearing on Martian radar. Automated reporting put this down to a system glitch.

History would remember it with slightly more significance.


Paris, Texas

This week’s a bit of a HonestyFest: no, this isn’t another virtual collection of hastily pulled-together people on a Zoom call, I probably know enough people to maybe rustle up three people tops. I’m pretty certain one of them doesn’t have a webcam anyway. What the poetry has done we’ve discussed on Monday, and I mentioned then in passing a long-form piece which contains a lot of early mental trauma as a starting point to where things should move next.

I read it all yesterday, in a couple of sittings. Structural integrity is about 80%, if it were any less I’d have not decided to go public so fast on Patreon. It will be serialised, starting in September, because it is complete. I just needed the nerve and the impetus to push it to the finish line. I’ve tried and failed to get it accepted as a stand-alone work, and there’s just not enough energy right now to move down that path. Instead, it is perfect work to repurpose as subscription fodder.

The timing here is almost… well, prophetic.

Those of you REALLY paying attention will know this took eighteen years to write. With the edit coming up, we’ll call it a round twenty. It’s made the finish line as my NaNo project a while back, and I’ve had it sitting as a back burner project since February. I was fully ready to return, but with a view to try to push for grown up publication. This way makes an enormous amount of sense as an alternative. More significantly, it opens up the Patreon as ‘not just poetry’ and that’s really rather important right now.

This year I become a ‘proper’ published poet, not just a competition winner: I saw the proof of that poem in the Places of Poetry document today, for the first time, and let out a little squeal of delight. More work will be published, I can guarantee you that, but as yet there’s only been lip service granted to what is something that drives a lot of my interest as an adult. Storytelling has always been a goal. The Twitter short story has shown me the market exists. Now it is time to do the things I don’t like: selling both this and me.

As it happens, this is something I am getting used to.

There will need to be a synopsis, and I don’t want to give too much away by doing so. You’ll get introductions to characters and probably some vignettes for each. Mostly however, there is the soundtrack, which I’ll do more justice than has previously been the case. This was the novel that began my obsession with music as background to action, and I’m listening to it now as I type. It’s about to be revisited after a couple of years, with some new pieces added.

I am genuinely excited for this addition to my Patreon.

A Change is Gonna Come

Stuff’s happened quite quickly today: let’s get right to it 😀

This seems like a solid move, in my head: more people can come in and become part of the family, whilst the highest Tier is now cheaper (and hopefully a little more attractive as a result.) Whether of course the person who asked me for this change was expecting it to happen and will now subsequently sign up is another matter entirely. The logic works regardless, and was quite easy to move things around to accommodate a change in focus.

I think it is important, especially in the current climate, to show a measure of flexibility when it comes to accommodating change. It also gives me some thoughts on how to work the upcoming content planned into slightly more attractive packages. This weekend would normally be time off but I’m ready to try and work through some new ideas. We’ll talk about this in more detail next week.

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For now, however, it’s time for some aggressive marketing…

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Back in the Saddle

Normally, I’d be here in the morning to write a blog, but the first of the month, from now on, is likely to be a bit different. Welcome to the New World Order, where suddenly everything is a lot more complicated, but amazingly appears about 3000% more professional. Somewhere between the end of February and now, I became an adult content creator. Blimey.

There have already been complaints and yes, I hear you. I always said I’d be the one who wouldn’t do this, and would staunchly exempt myself from the rigours of capitalism, but right now nobody is working, therefore money has to come from somewhere. There was never a good time to bite the bullet and go subscription, when all is said and done circumstance effectively made that choice for me.

It doesn’t mean however that content stops here, anything but. It’s a simple redistribution of effort and attainment in different locations. I will ensure however that content keeps being saved here: weekly poetry, daily Twitter short story… all those things still have their place in the world and will not suddenly vanish. There will be some new things here too, as time goes on, but first I need the Patreon mechanics to work well.

I suppose if I’ve only upset one person out of (potentially) millions thus far, that has to count for something. If everybody else can adjust to this new normal, that is the direction everything will subsequently head. I’m actually pretty excited because tomorrow I am putting together the first of TWO LANzine for the month: the first one is a dry run to see if anyone’s interested in the sub-only edition for which this post’s header is the main graphic.

The only way you get to swim is to sink first. Time to dive in…

Rise Up

This will be the last post on-site before the big reorganisational change happens, starting next week. Having committed to the change, I’d like to get started on the nuts and bolts changes that need to happen behind the scenes. That will involve a Secret Bonus Area for Patreon followers, accomodation for the NEW Weekly Newsletter… plus shifting around all the old stuff to become more friendly and accessible.

Therefore, starting next week you can expect to see stuff morph and evolve before your very eyes. I don’t have the luxury of just shutting everything down, after all, so we’ll sort as much of the architecture out as possible within the existing framework, then turn up and give the thing a lick of new paint. After all, it would be rubbish to do that first and then discover a bunch of stuff is no longer fit for purpose…

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Then, we’ll relaunch everything in April, with a brief moment for World Poetry Day on March 21st. Of course, you’ll still be able to read my daily rantings via Twitter or on the Laughing Geek Website, or observe my increasing graphic competence via Instagram. I’m going to also be overhauling Ko-Fi to link up with the Patreon, so you can go take a look at that too when everything is complete.

Consider it a general Spring Clean for everything.

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Oh yeah, and about Patreon. I’m gonna go for it again: there is no idea who will be interested, can only hope the content ends up speaking for itself. Lots of people are struggling to get by and won’t ever be able to afford to support me anyway, and as a result I’ve decided to give this whole thing until December to see whether there is enough interest to push forward.

Is what I do worth paying for? It’ll soon be time to see for myself…

Escape

[A copy of this blog post will be copied to my Patreon account as soon as it is posted here.]

I’ve watched the events of the last four days play out on the Internet first with a sense of idle curiosity, and then with increasing anger. For those of you who don’t live online as I do, Patreon announced midweek (and you will now have details) a change to their charging structure. This at first seemed ill-advised, until details surfaced from a financial statement published earlier in the year that the company was less than enamoured with the number of ‘low dollar’ users it was attracting. This Twitter post sums up what then happened pretty accurately:

I think I finally disconnected over the scheduled blog post mistake, for reasons that should not be a surprise to any of my regular readers. I find myself unable in good conscience to continue using a service that feels this way about its user base, spent an entire weekend saying absolutely nothing and is very unlikely to go back on the decisions made. Even if they do, I feel the damage is done for me. If you think that some creators are somehow more important than others because they make more money, that’s unlikely to change, however much noise they make.

I said to myself that I’d wait to see this morning what Patreon’s next move would be, but in the last 24 hours three of my most vocal and enthusiastic supporters have all messaged me privately asking if there are alternatives to using the platform, and the die is cast. I will be cancelling my Patreon on December 22nd. This gives me a chance to let everybody know what’s happening, get physical Christmas gifts to those people who have provided an address, and send off the seasonal Haiku I promised as my December rewards. After that, I’m done.

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To say I’m gutted is an understatement, but I’m also enough of a realist to grasp that this can be an opportunity in disguise. A number of people have already offered to fund me, a couple already have, and to make sure there is some kind of transitional arrangement between the end of Patreon and the New Year, there are now buttons up on my blog that link firstly to my Paypal page and then to Ko-fi. I’m not a huge coffee drinker but I won’t turn down a cup, especially as I’m about to consciously cut ties with a company I feel does not care about what I am or what has been achieved.

I’ve not done enough things in my life on principle. Making the break now really matters, because it will give me time to organise myself better, allow an opportunity to finish the writing projects I have in my own time, yet sustain a decent and consistent form of output here. I intend to make the most of the time I’ll have between Christmas and New Year to overhaul everything site-wise (as was the plan anyway) and come back with new ideas and approaches in 2018. For now, as would be the case with anything else currently, I’d like to cut the toxic influence I feel Patreon has become out of my life.

If you want to move forward with me, here is the place to bookmark for future use.

 

Old Friends

Again, through the wonders of time-travel, I’m writing a post on Sunday that should have been published on Wednesday, but that’s useful at least in terms of deciding what happens to both this website and my Patreon going forward. If you’re a Patron and have not yet taken part in my Feedback Survey, you can expect an email to ask you to consider giving some next week, before I open up the process to the general public. I’m quite happy with the way that poetry is now running, and organising a month’s content in advance has given a lot of freedom for other projects to take flight. Therefore, next month, I’ll be doing the same with a twist.

Before Xmas

This year the festive season will be celebrated in a very particular way: I’ll be producing 25 Haiku up to and including Christmas Day. However, I will be taking the Christmas period off: last day of ‘work’ for me will be December 22nd, returning to full activity on January 2nd. It is still not clear what December’s Patreon content will be, but I’ll have a better idea after the Feedback Survey is concluded. What I will be doing is starting to write the Haiku next week, as many of them will need particular festive pictures as accompaniment.

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I suspect there may be an Audio Advent Calendar too as there’s never a bad time to share music, however that’s not going to need that much additional planning. I’ve decided to not push particularly hard for new Patrons in December but to leave that for 2018: yes, I could give it a go but as most people’s cash over this time of year is quite difficult to come by, it seems only right and proper to not push the point.

Watch this space for more details of how Patreon may change, and what new things might be in store for the end of 2017…

Standing in the Rain

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At the end of this month, the Patreon content produced for this website will take a four-week hiatus in order to allow me to properly participate in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event. However, I do not intend to rest on my laurels: during this time I’m going to survey everyone currently contributing to my cause with some questions intended to try and learn what people like and dislike about my output. Using this, I’ll then replan tiers for a soft relaunch in December. If you’re a Patreon donor, look out for the e-mail in early November.

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The NaNoWriMo preparation is now in full swing. I’ll be spending next week putting down markers for what needs to be done: setting clear objectives, looking at what will cause me issues, working out what needs to be planned in advance. I’m probably about 80% ready to roll on this, all that is needed now is a clear plan of action that I can cross off as things are completed. In fact, if I’m totally honest, this is the most organised and confident I’ve been about this entire event since I started doing it.

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There’s still quite a lot to finish before November is here, however: there’s a couple of week’s worth of Haiku that still require archiving. However, the level of organisation currently is more than satisfactory. Let’s see if we can’t keep that momentum going as we go careening into a new week, the hood of coat on my head as I pretend its a superhero’s cape…

My Affair

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Many of you read my triumvirate of blogs on a regular basis, and will know that all three together are the best way of judging my mental state. I’ve made no bones over the years of how important writing is for keeping me sane, and the last week has brought home the understanding that it also has the capacity to make me reassess myself in ways I’d not previously considered. Last week’s essay asked questions of my past that I’d not been comfortable answering until now. This resulted in a weekend where I went through a phenomenal amount of personal angst, to grasp that history cannot be avoided and ultimately has to be dealt with, whether I like it or not.

This week, therefore, is fairly crucial in proving to myself I am learning lessons. The first 48 hours are always quite stress free: it will be this time next week where I’ll see if the changes in diet, the alteration to my working practices and my change of focus are beginning to have an effect. There is a lot of stuff that I want to do before Christmas, most of which have nothing to do with personal comfort, and are wrapped around beginning to give back to those who have helped me get this far.

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I’m going to be privately contacting a number of people I want to particularly thank for their support but I’ve had a plan for a while to use November’s Haiku in the same way I’m doing with the Inktober prompts via #ThinkTober on Instagram. Therefore, I spent some time on Sunday finishing up a series of 30 Tweets that will be Haiku for November. I won’t say in advance who these thank you messages are for, only that I have spent a quite some time working out who’d be gifted a poem.

I’ve already spoken about NaNoWriMo, more details of which will be discussed next week. What also needs to change, as a result of what I’ve learnt from this month’s worth of Patreon content, is what I’m offering in terms of tiers and rewards.

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It’s become apparent with my mental reactions to the content I’m producing that there is so much more I could be doing, but cannot due to the self-imposed structure I have in place. Therefore, in my month’s worth of downtime in November there’s going be some hard thoughts about how things change, and I will be polling my existing patrons quite extensively on what they would like to see. If you’d like to be part of that process, you can become part of my Patreon family with just a click of the above banner.

I look forward to taking some genuine steps into the unknown in the months that follow.

Breathe In

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I’m here on a Friday to celebrate what has been a successful month for this little site. Starting on Monday is the very real possibility of multiple posts a day and a really rather packed schedule all the way until Christmas. Having already pre-warned you about Think-Tober, I went away and made better graphics, and that will begin via Instagram on Sunday. I suspect there’ll be a compilation of seven days worth of posts in this medium at some point across the weekends in October too.

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We’re still behind a bit, but once October’s Book of the Month titles are posted on Monday along with the last of the outstanding acrostics, there’s no excuse to keep up to date. This month will also see an alteration to Patreon tiers in an attempt to attract more interest, plus some subtle changes to the concept’s major remit. I’d planned to reassess every three months, so this part of my plan is still on schedule. Looking ahead, the Book of the Month will be taking a one-month hiatus in November to accommodate my participation in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event.

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I’ve written on and of for NaNo across five years, but only the last two have been serious efforts. This year, the plan is to come up with something I will turn into a potentially saleable novel. That level of completion and professionalism has, as yet, eluded me, but I believe I’m in a decent position this year to make that a reality. To make sure I’m utterly focused, rethought and re-organised Patreon content will launch again December 1st. Everyone who is currently a Patreon will also be getting an exclusive (and personalised) Christmas gift, as a thank you for your continued support.

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Until then, you can expect an increase in the amount of poetry being written, original works appearing and all sorts of other TOP QUALITY GUBBINS.