Tidbits from Gary

Hello and welcome to Stories by Baker!

This just in: you can now find me on facebook under an official fanpage name!! YAY!

Anyways, and as always, enjoy if you will or don't if you won't!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Flight of the Viper

"Flight of the Viper"
a brief excerpt
Gary Baker, December 2014

Lithomir was riding hard with the guardsmen at his heels when the newly banished kings heir caught the sight of a viper in the distance. At first it was just a smoothness in the rugged bog where none should have been, possibly a hill made of wind-swept soil and debris, yet it turned to something much more deadly as he looked closer.

The beast was as much a dweller of land as it was sky, with a long serpentine body fitted with a pair of broad sinewy wings that could fold up as neatly as though they were never there. Undoubtedly it was caught unawares as the beast was completely visible even as Lithomir watched it tuck in its wings and bunch up its neck like a bolt waiting to be released.

The young heir grit his teeth and aimed Vaughn's steed toward the predator letting the mount carry him further south than was necessary just to align the course properly. He swung his head down and glanced beneath his right arm to the riders coming closer behind him with pikes already drawn and swung out for the heir's reaping.

They hadn't seen it.

Lithomir inhaled deeply and kicked the mount into a greater stride, lowering himself to the animals neck while lifting his lower torso off its back. Centurion training had taught him about how a rider might hinder his mounts movements by interrupting the wave-like motion of the spine and how knowing how to undo such hindrances could keep even a plainsdrake from making the wrong kill. As soon as his hips were in the air above the saddle, the mount kicked into a higher pace as though steeling itself against a hail of arrows.

They grew closer yet the young dragon slayer couldn't help but watch as the viper almost completely vanished into the shape of a handful of low laying mounds. Its eyes glazed over and the snout flattened, the only indicative mark being that of its bunched up neck as an oddly-shaped patch of grass sticking from the deep black muck.

"Almost," Lithomir told himself, having only heard stories of such an attack from about a pyre. He remembered old Tsuyir from the northlands drunkenly giving the tale as if he'd seen it himself. The bard had gotten quiet just then, leaning toward his eager listeners to whisper, then suddenly snapping back to shout "AVAST" just when the beast had supposedly shot out toward the valiant hero. Lithomir had only been a babe then, barely seven, yet he remembered just how Tsuyir had claimed this hero evaded the impossibly quick strike.

Then the viper ahead, too, struck out with ungodly speed from an entire bowshot out. The flat snout turned instantly into a pointed spear trailing a long neck like a banner while the wings snapped out to carry the beast through the air soundlessly. More instinctively than he expected to, Lithomir yanked hard on the reigns to shift the mount just aside and swung his empty right arm over and across just in time to slap the viper with his forearm along its lower jaw as it swelled out from the tip.

In awe Lithomir barely caught sight of the barbed talons of the viper's inner cheek which would ensnare a victim before the jaws could set to work. Had even one of those flesh toned hooks taken hold, the heir knew he would have been done for. Instead his forceful blow had prevented the mouth from opening completely and gave him an opening through which to ride passed. The heir yanked hard to the east again and kept on even as the wings sailed overhead, even as the sounds of chaos broke behind him.

He almost laughed at the insanity. In the last day he'd not only slain a plainsdrake single-handedly, but had survived the strike of a fully grown viper while on an overburdened stallion. The only problem was that he no longer had a single soul with whom he could celebrate.

The mount attempted to slow but he kept it running at a breakneck sprint, sure that the viper hadn't completely taken care of his handful of assailants. The mountains ahead were getting closer and he'd been riding for hours; he wanted to reach the foothills more than anything. Once there he would slow down, maybe even make camp, but not until then. The mount was bred for this sort of riding and he was not about to let it relax until the beast had fully proven its worth.

A loud war horn broke the wind with a deep bellow followed by the scream that only a slain horse could make, clashes of folded Centurion steel rang out and then the echo of flapping wings as the viper took to the air. Lithomir bit his lip and kicked the mount hoping it could go one bit faster as he craned his neck over to see the massive thing spiral high trailing blood as arrows were loosed.

Eyes wide he looked to the ground below and discovered that these so-named guardsmen were ranked out like skilled drakeslayers with pikes ready and bows drawn. Only one had been downed, it seemed until the king's heir glimpsed a horseless guardsman kneeling on the ground awaiting the beasts ultimate landfall with a battlepike and shield held at the ready.

The kingsheir snapped back forward and kept on. These men following him were no guardsmen, that much was now obvious. With battle skills and steadiness like he'd just seen of them, there was no way they were anything less than Rangers: fabled mercenaries from beyond the Northern Pass.

For the time being, the newly banished heir chose to set such thoughts aside and survive to see another day. The time to understand what was truly going on here would come later.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


an epilogue
Gary Baker, October 2013
(the ultimate end to my largest project?)

Roi gasped as air was choked from his lungs, the upright beast leader of the invading army holding ringed fingers firmly circumferential to the dangling human’s ever-closing airways. The creature clearly led by powerplay, it’s muscles strangled into bunched masses, tied here and there with metal chain-like cords that had been woven into the thick muscles themselves with weights hanging haphazardly as though at the end of fishing lines caught in the beasts arms. The armor was intense enough as is, without the gold and jade debris cinched deep into the tissues of exposed flesh.

Roi could see where chains had been torn free, whether from being caught by stray palms in fistfights or by being deliberately torn free by the beast who bore them, leaving gruesome scars behind that often came close to bisecting an entire limb. The invasion force, Roi thought, was far more primal than anything humanity had ever been. They had bred themselves this way, in as parallel a path in evolution as cognition was to humans.

Then the pain really hit home, knocking the wind remaining in Roi’s lungs into the back of his throat, only to be blocked by the pressure of the tense grip, which only caused an even worse need to expel that air and reciprocated until the man was sure he was going insane right then and there. The burning of his eyes grew hotter and worse yet, the evidence of his eyes bulging began to show even in his already hazy sightlines as the world picked up a fisheye lens effect, and his hearing all but turned to heavy lub-dubs as the blood in his ears threatened to break free at his eardrums.

The pain intensified, growing stronger while somehow -- astonishingly -- further away. It was as though he and the pain of his own undoing were standing on separate trains once side-by-side and now veering away from each other. The throb began to pulse in his eyes and lessened as much as his vision began to lighten into cloud white. The stammer in his chest beat a constant bulbous beat, but his skin was tingling enough that even deep inside he could feel almost nothing. The grip on his throat pushed closer to being just finger muscles touching messy finger muscles, but Roi was almost certain it wasn’t even his body part anymore.

The scream he heard through bleating eardrums should have been his, but the wind had long since turned to hot ash and therefore couldn’t possibly be coming from him. It must have been someone else, someone nearby.

In a flash of white, Roi and his other train-self were severed completely, on railside vehicle suddenly disappearing behind the stark white walls of endless light and undisturbed abyss. He felt his eyes flicker, then, and his fingers twitch. He heard the dull ache of a familiar voice nearby and turned what felt like well-oiled gears to find himself staring at none other than a smiling Agent Bond, in the artificial flesh.

Welcome back, Bond seemed to say, though no movement of the man’s lips were seen, I trust you come across well?

Roi stared, confused. What was this? Where was he? Had the others saved him and brought him to the hospital?

No, nothing like that, Bond replied, and still Roi gaped at how the man could communicate without moving his lips nor using any sort of speaker system. It was as though Bond were displaying his words directly into Roi’s brain. At that, the agent smiled wanly. Close enough.

Where am I? Roi tried to ask with vocal cords that seemed not to work.

Bond nodded and turned away and into the abyss, trailing his voice as he spoke, again without moving his lips. You are in a state of download, just now, Roi. Be patient. I know it’s a long time, but in merely point zero zero seven five microseconds everything will be as can be expected.

Download? The man stopped, unaware that he had even been moving in the first place. What do you mean, ‘download’?

The agent’s laugh was impenetrably awkward in the void of light, each echo made into endless miniature echoes until the whole of existence seemed to be made of them, the tiny echoes of a laugh made by a man who wasn’t even real. Let us be straight right now, Roi. You died.

I… I died?

Yes, and you don’t very well expect me to have lost such a mind, do you? Bond looked cross, blue eyes fixed on Roi in a hallucinatory, dark gaze. Just then the white started to fade ever darker, until Roi saw where he was, standing in the middle of the chamber Bond had asked him never to venture, a chamber that, until now it seemed, Roi had kept his word about. You see, Bond lifted eyebrows high in a world that seemed both static and slow in the same instant, I, alone, cannot traverse the galaxies with just one mind. I need others to take my place. In this case, I am called Omega, something you humans have gotten wrong for much too long, and you are now called Quintet, with just one other having been made between our creations.

I don’t get it.

Bond laughed, again making that tinny reverberant noise, like a mosquito caught at the point of a massive tin funnel. We never do in the first few microseconds. Let me say this much, though: you are the seventeenth player, and we have only a handful more before the game can begin anew.

Roi fanned out his thoughts, trying to comprehend, only finding empty space and endless facts and tidbits that he never knew could exist at so close a range to his thoughts. The further he reached, the wider Bond -- Omega’s smile went. And then he got it, understanding the whole of the universe faster than Neo had learned kung-fu.

This really was a game -- but it wasn’t between civilizations, per-se, but between the artificial minds behind those civilizations. Each time another race was added to the mix, another mind was captured and put to the test in an all-out game of intergalactic command, expand and conquer until all necessary players had been gathered.

Only afterward, however, could the real game begin; the game to be the last intelligence alive, surviving the downfall of other races and only capable of dying when one’s entire race had been eliminated.

Now do you understand?

All except for one thing, Roi tilted his head to the side in wonder.


Why did you bring me into this? If playing the game means you die in the end if you don’t win, why add in other players that might become your downfall?

Omega lifted an eyebrow high as though mocking Quintet’s thought process and all the systematic hardware that enabled such mechanisms possible. Because playing with the same minds all the time tends to get very, incredibly boring more often than not. In fact I look forward to the day that another player may become my downfall, for that day, alone, would be something far newer than anything I could possibly imagine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


a brief excerpt
Gary Baker, October 2014
(part of the continuing Roi Anxo project)

Public Security Minister, Xu Shengkun, strode quickly under high-vaulted ceilings adorned with red party tapestries. Ahead loomed the desk of Party Secretary Jin Keqiang, current leader of the Chinese Republic, where the man sat poised in thought over a series of papers.

Xu had sent those papers in preparation for this meeting as a way of breaking the ice before another war could break out. They included documents written and signed by the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Consulate, along with similar documents by much more discreet members of the Republic acting abroad. All in all the file ended up far thicker than Xu had intended, but it more than suited the task. When he’d discovered this Anxo footman at the heart of the whole controversy, Xu had gathered what he could as quick as possible and held those additional papers in hand. He stopped just a pace away from the great Keqiang’s desk and waited silently.

After mulling over another page of scriptwork coded with a cypher that only seven individuals in the Republic knew, Keqiang looked up and removed his glasses to place them lightly on the file. “Interesting crafters, our dear American friends are, wouldn’t you say, Shengkun?”

Xu gave a solemn bow, then proffered the new pages.

“Oh?” The Secretary appeared eager, as a child would before venturing into the dark forests at night. Xu could only hope that his president was strong enough to not come out running before first light. “Shengkun you outdo yourself, I assure you.” He took the papers and laid them out neatly, replaced his glasses and began reading once more. In the middle of the third page, he looked up without moving his head, peering over the tops of his spectacles. “Tell me, Shengkun, am I correct to assume that you are one of the few who know this code?” The minister bowed his head silently. “And I am to suspect that there are others, surely, who would know this information as well?”

Finally Xu felt that a submissive bow would not suffice what his superior was asking of him, and let loose a near-whisper in reply. “No, your grace.”

Secretary Keqiang leaned back with a smile, “good. Let us keep it that way, shall we? In fact,” with a short sweeping arc above his desk his arm ended with poised fingertips mere inches above a bowl of individually wrapped candies, “have a White Rabbit for your secrecy.”

Suddenly Xu took a step back without conscious control, eyes widening as though he’d been given a death sentence. “Your,” he stammered, hands no longer held at his sides but aloft of their own accord, “grace?”

A moment passed in silence, neither man able nor willing to move. It was as sure of a standoff as the Collective Communist Regimes had been with the powers of the western world. Xu’s mind wandered here and there like a qingting over lotus leaves in spring. He retraced the files in his mind, wondering what he could have put in that would bring about such abominable dishonor and subsequent death sentence. Perhaps it had even been that he simply knew too much and was now being quelled from the already thin crowd.

Then the Secretary started laughing his light, airy, almost-breathy laugh and laid his arms down upon the desk haphazardly. “So you even know of those, do you?” He leaned forward with another broad grin, “may I ask how many know of this, then, Master Shengkun?”

“I,” he fought for the words, coming up blank with every heartbeat, “I,” finally he sighed and lost some of his controlled confidence. “Not many, your grace.”

Another eerie smile. “And again we shall keep it that way, will we not?” Secretary Keqiang returned his gaze to the papers, this time barely scanning them as his eyes darted about, “I know this code is seldom known, yet I shall burn these momentarily now that I know what they contained. For now I simply wish you to graciously accept one of these treats and keep it on you for,” he glanced to the side as though looking for the right word, “shall we say: ‘a rainy day’?”

The man then stood and held out a hand for Xu to take. Shaking, the Party Secretary and figurehead for the whole of the Chinese Republic bowed just enough to show honorable intentions. “Master Shengkun should you so choose to accept, I have a proposal to offer you,” they released each other and the great man stepped slowly around his desk until he and Xu were both moving toward the main door practically matching strides. “I will not be coy with you, Shengkun, this series of events leads me to believe that China is at a serious disadvantage, and disadvantages for China no matter how miniscule must be stamped out.” He stopped and held Xu’s gaze, “no matter the cost, Master Shengkun.” Continuing their short, slow walk with their footfalls echoing in the chamber around them, Keqiang seemed to lose some energy in his demeanor. “I do not like the idea of placing one so keen to my trust as you so far away, but I need you to take over for Dashi Meng Yuanchao. While my need of you here is great, Shengkun,” he stopped at the door and placed one hand on Xu’s shoulder while the other patted his chest pocket, “there are things which must be done about this footman who claims he can speak for the whole world.”

At that the Secretary gave Xu just enough of a nudge that he moved through the open door and felt it close behind him. For a moment he just stood there wondering what just happened. Surely he didn’t intend for Xu to assassinate the man within the heart of a military base behind enemy lines, not only was he not trained for that sort of act he also would have no means of escape thereafter.

Xu looked down at the candy he’d been given when they’d parted from the desk. It certainly didn’t look like it could kill a man, wrapped in white and blue packaging with a soft harmless rabbit acting as a clear window to the creamy custard paste inside, but he knew better than to see things directly as they appeared after serving his government for as long as he had.

At the soft caress of increasing pressure he sighed and dropped the candy into his breast pocket, only to hear it crinkle on something within. Curious, Xu reached back up and removed not one, but two milk candies from his pocket. While he knew instantly where it had come from, he could only guess as to it’s meaning. One thing was certain, however, and that was that he had much to get ready in the short number of days before he would officially take over for Ambassador Meng Yuanchao.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


a short story
Gary Baker, September 2014
(a practice piece in cross-chronological plotting)

A friend once told me there was nothing to lose, providing proper effort was given where it was due. This person also claimed nothing could get in the way of our dreams were they only strong enough to withstand the close of ages.

What she didn't tell me, however, was that consequences were completely indefatigable.

My breath came in ragged gasps, my back slapped wetly against a shadowed redwood or other deep in the northern woods. I didn't even know where I was anymore. With my head lain back against the bark I released another exhale high above myself into the misty night. The subsequent inhale brought in the crisp reality alongside tangy pine, rustic petrichor and the oddly salt-free taste of woodland fog.

Sweat dribbled across my brow and down my cheek. Moonlight flickered across my loosely closed eyelids with the pace of a breeze pushing branches up high.

I remember how she had summoned me over one day, calling me from the foyer. Poised behind her desk, brows drawn in consternation, she set to lay waste to my dreams. It was a practical battlefield that day in her office, all torn reality and woeful hopes burned at the stake as one regretful sibling to a rising lord seeking kingship. She said my words meant nothing, that no matter what I wrote it could never please her. That I could never please her.

After what felt like ages of resisting, I broke. I had worked my ass off for nothing. I had bore my heart and soul into my most recent article, working prose through fields of ghost-written sciences, never to see the light of day 'neath my own name. I remember the glitter of my tears as they fell.

I also remember how her scowl then morphed so wondrously into a gleam of coy awe. She then told me that any dreams I still had, anything at all that survived such abuse, were the only ones worth fighting for. She told me that any dream that could be broken by unknowing anger, instead of being strengthened, could never place the bread upon the table.

An echo of rushed movement clattered across my lap and I tore away from the tree with my heart in my hands. Feet raw from running, I knew I would be caught sooner than later. I was barely keeping ahead as is, did I really expect to survive this?

In seconds time I reached the pebble-strewn shore of an annual riverbed. The waterline had dropped mere feet, yet it left an island three times as wide as the river currently was. Moonlight on my shoulders, I raced. I aimed myself for the far shore where I could only wish for a place to climb out and into saving grace of darkness once more.

The water came like yet another smack to the face. Ice seemed to form around my very lungs themselves and I gasped for the solace of staying alive, were it only so easy.

She had come around. Leaning on her desk with an arm held out to hand me tissues, her eyes told me everything I needed to hear. She was my mentor. She was my friend. More than that, she was the one who paid me for my articles. She would connect me with scientists needing their experiments recorded and understood by their lesser-minded peers, the ones with the money, the ones who could either shut them down or add another dose of much-needed funding.

She told me the writer within me would benefit from what she had just done, that I should be grateful. I didn't believe her then, but later I discovered she had saved me while sending me off to my executioner all in one.

I thrust my arm above the water to take hold of roots extended into the riverside and came back empty. I fought to reach the surface and came up just enough to find that in a fraction of a moment's time I had drifted deep downstream. Already I had gone further than I originally planned and missed my chance at finding safety on the far shore.

Thinking back, even as the frigid sloshing tussled me in every which way, I chose to make the most of the moment. At least I couldn't be followed by the dogs from this point. Perhaps I could survive this after all.

So I turned into the current and used cupped palms to pull myself further. I swam like a frog, like a dog, I even kicked like a dolphin for a while, doing everything I could to keep warmth flowing through my limbs. When the current tore me around a bend I hit the first of several rocks and debris. Shortly thereafter I was losing consciousness and knew I was losing blood in much the same way.

When I had taken that last job I knew things were different. She had changed me. My will to write was stronger than ever and somehow it had broken barriers of writers block with all the excess energy that coursed within. The original job was to oversee a chemical experiment based on reactions deduced by the particle accelerator in Munich. I was to observe and record while science types tried and failed to reproduce chemicals known to have been used in abroad. For some reason the men and women at the lab I was sent to believed the chemical to have been falsified and, for all that I could tell, they were right on the money.

When things got boring for me, though, I chose to indulge myself. I escaped via a supposed bathroom run and instead began my exploration of the facilities.

I hit another rock as rapids began to form. I dropped several feet into a pool, peace lasting only hints of time until I was once again dragged along into white foam and jagged yanks to and fro. Those bastards, I figured then, might have missed their chance to kill me, but nature was sure as hell trying to do their work for them.

I remember jotting down a rough assimilation of a map, writing my story as I went in my head of how the chemical wasn't properly reproducible and thus disproved any subsequent experiments done with it. I remember altering words from experimental Latin-fused English to much more layman terminology when I found an open door. The door led to some shadowed, as yet unfinished portion of the facility, and from there to a massive basement.

It was like a horror movie turned real and still I pushed on. Suddenly nothing could sate my curiosity, not now that my desire to write, my desire to know, was so strong. What I walked into was the last thing I expected so deep within a chemical laboratory: there in front of me were the stooped forms of human experiments gone wrong.

Beakers upon beakers as large as tables, all stacked with sealed contents of everything from embryos and fetuses to full-grown men with bubbles and blisters formed along every imaginable inch of surface area each in varying degrees. My reporter instinct kicked in and my cell was out and set to record both video and audio in separate files. I cautiously walked the aisles looking over tabs of information and degrees of chemical composure.

Bonnie Jones, here, dosed with what I read as heroin and cyanide in a convoluted molecular solution, then injected into the bone marrow. In big red letters were stamped: Exp-Failed. Cringing, I moved on to the next, finding an illegible name with etches of acid formulas described as having been slowly increased in dosage since birth, grown in a test tube until the body of cells simply went haywire and somehow morphed into a human-sized mass of muscle and tissue. This one was marked as: Exp-InProgress.

It was still alive.

The experiments went on for whole sections of the gymnasium-sized room, when finally I freaked and bolted for the entrance. Immediately I ran headlong into someone on their way in. We fell to the floor with boxes of supplies dropped in the collision, and as I scrambled to rise I found there were others with this scientist. Guards loomed over us, guns in hand; massive guns. They shot their own man first, for what I can only pretend to know, and then began at me. From there I barely made it out alive. Shortly after I had dogs on my tail and leaves slapping my face.

I don't even remember getting out of the water, only that I was suddenly racing with sodden icy clothes into oncoming traffic when a cop hit me. Gun drawn he came at me as I lay roiling in pain on the ground before his beaming headlights. I remember looking him in the eye, how he then grimaced and shrunk back, and how he was then shot more times than I can commit to. His once white shirt was riddled with color, his eyes glossed over quickly and soon there were figures in black surrounding me.

This time I couldn't get away. My leg broken, there was no way I could run, walk, hell I couldn't even crawl my way out of this.

One of the figures then moved over me and placed a thick, heavy black boot on my wrongly-twisted knee. The pain was deafening. When he stepped down it was blinding. I came to again and my throat was hoarse, the cop still bleeding beside me, eyes completely glazed over, and my leg seemed nonexistent.

"I won't tell," I plead, hands raised as I tried to back away by pushing with my good leg. "Let me live and I'll forget this ever happened."

I felt cold metal place itself against the back of my head. From there I couldn't honestly say for sure what happened. It's like time just skipped over the following few years.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


an excerpt
Gary Baker, September 2014
(part of my Corporal Roi project)

First there was a reaction of particulates followed by a burst of photon energy sent forth from heavenly heat and sent careening out into the deep unending abyss. Then, after moments of hasty nothingness, came the reflection which subsequently hit receptors and a message was transcribed. From there energy was sent out once more coursing along minute pathways of similar individuals until it came to a stop within a tangled mess of a much greater number of somehow different individuals, was changed into another message entirely, and was once again sent out in another direction altogether. Again the message of energy coursed along until it struck a mass which then contracted as one, pulling the metal trigger and setting another series of events into play.

The sliver of smooth metal drew down a jagged rod that held back a sharp slab which then, with the haste of a tightly-wound coil snapping back to its proper shape, brought the spike tip careening into a metal wall. The wall then broke just so slightly enough to cause a burst of energy, igniting packed molecules of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate into an explosive burst of an even greater form of energy. This new form then slammed heavily into a particularly-shaped piece of metal with such force as to send it flying.

The projectile form hit molecules of air hard, forcing itself through and through without regard whilst reaching a velocity of seven-hundred and seventy meters per second, followed by a concussive burst of resounding waves, soaring passed legs stomping through in this way or the other, leaving a wake of empty air through crimson mist and splashed mud, cauterizing newly-made holes in still-living leaves until finally it reached the end of its journey. The first layer burned on contact, baring plates of leather inlaid with thick mail-like wire which are subsequently split by the force of contact alone to allow the projectile deeper access. Then came the thick layer of metal sheets formed in a lab for better displacement and, while the momentum is lessened immensely, they too are breached until after a few more layers of fabric, the projectile hits skin and puckers as it passes into the soft cushion of fat and muscle.

With a hideous cry of alarm, Corporal Roi Anxo went down, barely able to reach safe cover behind a mass of shattered cement braced with steel and iron. In an instant he rolled onto his uninjured hip to peer over and survey the damage. His gloved hand came away matted with fresh blood, as though the throbbing fire in his ass wasn't enough to be sure. Adrenaline coursed through him as he tried to guesstimate how deep the bullet had gone, and was almost certain it had came millimeters from hitting bone. There was no way to tell how bad it was, yet he knew instantly that there was no way he could just get up and get to safety.

So he grabbed a morphine needle from his vest and quickly jabbed it under his armor into his side and released the chemicals. Right now he needed to focus on not dying, for that was the obvious detail. Despite that, he had a mission to complete and so he rolled back against the ledge while the numbness made its way through.

Roi hefted the rifle he'd thrown down just before falling and loaded an armor-piercing round into the bay. Nodding twice to himself for a count, he thrust himself up and over the ledge to drop the scope right in line with the invasion commander, a mass of bulbous purple flesh and teeth all over. The beast had already proven its resilience to bullets, and as far as Roi could tell had armor-like bones. The first round he'd sent earlier, just before being shot, had merely left a fractured crack along the creatures head, now lamenting a beautiful blue fountain of blood that only made the beast that much more intimidating.

This time Roi knew for sure that he could do it. One more bullet and the beast would go down, allowing temporary confusion among the invading forces.

He aligned the crossbars of his scope with the commanders head and clicked to zoom in. With some trepidation, the bars then aligned with the beasts missing eye and the crack in it's skull beneath all that blood. The corporal exhaled slowly as the world ebbed into slow motion. He pulled the trigger just before his inhale began and barely kept himself upright when the force of his shot struck.

For a heartbeat there was nothing after the crack of thunder, only emptiness. Then the bullet hit and the commander went from striding callously through the wreckage of bodies to kneeling with both hands upon its face. Even then the beast didn't fall. Suddenly it looked right at Roi with half it's head hanging by threads of muscle, navy blue blood fountaining everywhere as it rose one arm at the corporal and let loose an ugly bellow.

But it didn't falter. The killing shot gave the beast a slower stride, stumbling now and then, but the way that it picked up a fallen assault rifle and emptied the magazine at Roi with what could only be anger sent shivers down the mans spine. Two bullets to the head, one leaving half the skull hanging out to dry, and still the beast walked on deeper into the fray.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Lurid Escape

“My Lurid Escape”
a short story
Gary Baker, August 2014

I remember the sun as it drew across the room, and how I wanted it to stop for one goddamn moment and how I needed the light. I remember the sweetly wafting tendrils of the whiskey beneath my nose, and the way it stung while it enticed. Then came the taste as I lifted the glass and brought some in for further inspection, and the way it was so wonderfully opposite to the scent. In this case, I needed the numbness.

Holding my arm tight, I brought the knife from the jar of rubbing alcohol and set down the tip on an incongruous point of my arm.  I put it where I would have no fear of arteries or the like, no fear of tendons that could be sawn in half, just muscle and a bit of fat with skin in the way. I had to hold a small tasting bottle of scotch with my arm just so it wouldn't twitch on me like a mad soldier under the knife back in the twenties, doing so also kept me focused on my task. I wasn't leaving this be until I'd seen blood.

One drop, I told myself. One drop and I'm done. No more.

So it began.

I pushed in and felt the electric sting, which prevented me from pushing further when it became strong enough to bring stars to my eyes. So I swashed the knife in the clear liquid again and brought it to the pinprick once more. This time I would do it. This time for sure.

Again I felt the sting, the jolt of helpless denial that my body seemed intent on screaming, as though it thought I were some killer from the movies all but unstoppably drawn by the busty blonde with the dagger in hand as he came for her. It seemed to think I could be stopped, though, just like how in those movies the killer can always be talked out of it, perhaps even delayed until some force of nature or police or something could intervene. But not me. Not this time.

I was only here for a drop, after all. No more.

What was the worst that could happen, I asked myself.

I pushed harder and was immobilized by pain, so instead chose to draw rather than push. I laid the blade down lengthwise along the point I'd made, and pulled ever so slightly. While this didn't bring the pain, it also didn't bring the desired gleam of crimson. So I did it again, pushing harder, drawing more forcefully, watching as hairs atop the skin were sliced and the skin broke free layer after layer.

For a moment there I became frustrated enough to saw at my arm. The drawing wasn't doing anything, and this was the sharpest blade I had in the house, sharper than any of the steak knives or such like that, and although they weren't exactly sharpened by a professional they could more than handle the tasks they were made for. Unlike me. Unlike this knife at that moment.

I cleaned the knife again in the alcohol and took a serious swig of the eighty-proof off to the side, downing it like floor cleaner. Delicious cinnamon burned from all angles, evaporating even as I swallowed, or so it felt like. What liquid made it down my throat was dry and searingly wonderful, and my soonest exhale brought gasps of intake as though I'd just swallowed a real fireball. My lips stung with the sweet burn and I allowed my arm the moment to relax as I enjoyed the taste once more, licking it off like a psychotic cannibal tasting flesh after years without.

Then, determined as the numbness moved across my cheeks and into my scalp, I retook the knife and shook the alcohol from it. I brought it to my arm again where that last drop splished on the skin. It was like a magnifying glass. Suddenly I could see into the wound I had made. And I could see quite easily how I still had yet to break the skin. My arm wasn't numb enough yet, I learned then. Haltingly, I retried the piercing method. This time it went in further, but felt no more like cutting a steak than it did like cutting sailcloth. I saw the tip pushed down into my arm, but there was no blood.

This angered me more than I can say. I became overwhelmed by this urge to push it in all the way, all three inches of steel, just to find out if I were even human. Already I had pushed it it more than a millimeter and I could see just where the skin ended, or so I thought, but still nothing so pink as the pastel blossom of a 'naked lady' could be seen. Instead all I was given was an ugly white-ish tone and the jawbreaker-like layers of my skin.

Another swig of whiskey, then.

This next time I knew I had already broken skin, so I chose not to redo the annoyingly tedious task, and instead began sawing at the end of the fissure already made. It worked for a moment, and then I hit something, something threadlike and tight which wouldn't let me cut further no matter how much I sawed at it. So, decidedly believing it to be a small capillary of sorts, I turned the knife around and pulled at the string from the other end. It took a moment to get down that far again, but when I did I knew I had something.

So I slid the blade along behind the thread from the more shallow of wounds and pushed away from myself with hardly enough force to cut into a fly. I wanted the blade to do the work for me, not the other way around. If I had to use brute tactics for this I may as well have tried doing so with a pencil or a pen, perhaps.

For some time the two objects just wouldn't part ways. I had the thread peeking close to the skin layer, stretched from it's depths in my fattier layers one millimeter deeper, with the alarmingly not-as-sharp-as-Id-thought blade tip. Then, as I pondered taking another swig big enough to fill my mouth, I felt a release, and my knife flew free with only enough momentum to jolt my hand.

At first nothing else happened. I grew angry for a moment, knowing I had snapped some thread within me, yet seeing not a hint of blood. After all the minor pain I had endured, I still hadn't gone deep enough. So I retook the blade after swashing it about again and settled myself to no more drinking until I'd seen a drop. This time it only took a second or two of dragging the tip through the opened crevice before I got something.

Deep, dark and nearly brown, I watched particles stream down from the alcohol filled wound opening. Odd, I thought, and cleared the fissure to allow more. When I did so, I pulled from it a mat of congealed brownness that looked more like mud residue than a scab. So I redipped the blade in the alcohol and once again slid along the bottom of the opening until I got what I was looking for.

Barely a single drop came bubbling out, then nothing, then one more and nothing shortly after. I just stared as it did this little routine until finally it clocked in me that this was from the pulsation of some vein inside my arm, near the surface, that was releasing blood with every beat of my heart.

By then the sun had moved across the table and no longer had me in its sights. I moved things on the table and shifted places then, so I could see, and watched as half-congealed blood was pushed through the cut into the real world little by little despite how deep it was I had dug. The fascination grew. I placed my arm atop a paper towel and rest it there while the blood barely dripped down. Every second or so I had to re-clear the wound so it could drip once more, but each time I did the numbness came and allowed me the act before coming again with the pulsation. By this time my arm had an ugly line moving to the towel, pocked with particulates and dried blood in the path of more coming down little by little.

I cleared the line again and felt the rocky roughness of the bottom, so I dug deeper, seeking more to this flow, and yet each time I pulled the knife away it seemed the wound had pressed itself into closure again and that the only way I could see more blood was by pulling one side from the other. So I did. I placed two fingers upon my arm, one to either side of the line, and pushed the lips of the wound away from the other. Blood would come for a moment, and then I had to clear the drying debris once more.

Finally I sat back, relieved somehow, feeling lighter, more real. Somehow the druggy sluggishness of my life had seeped just slightly further away, enough that I could see what the sluggishness was. I looked upon my act and smiled. This was all for that smile, I knew, for that sense of satisfaction for once and, knowing that it was small enough not to be questioned, I sighed with contentment.

No one would notice. No one would know.

Not even my girlfriend would ask me where I got it from, nor the more problematic questions of why I had done it. For once I had a dark secret to hide, and for some reason this made me giddy. I felt the queer throes of withheld laughter inside, threatening to come forth, and knew that this secret, while dangerous in the eyes of those in my life, may have just given me the escape that I needed. I knew then that this would be a return act, an addiction of my very own, could I only get over the nervous pain.

Perhaps, I thought musingly, next time I might try harder alcohol before digging in.

* * *

[August 31, 2014; 2:30 AM]

--> So I wanted to put this out there in the realm of the real, that this work is a piece of nonfiction, and that it was written in what I had thought my lowest point in mind.

Turns out that was anything but true.

I'd sworn it was a one-off deal, that that lone drop (or in all truth, that lone dripping run of quickly-dried crimson) would be the last. Yet such isn't so. I have drawn again. I have drawn my skin open again, to the point of several drops, each more red than the last.

They started out as a brownish hue, like dirt had been globbed in my veins and this was somehow releasing mud from within me. While it felt as if this were absolute truth, I know it was all psychological, and altogether with such knowledge I still cannot figure out what this is all for. I cannot say why I do this, nor what has brought me to it.

Sure I can point to the increasing mental stress lately, about the point at work where I simply broke and resigned despite numerous bills to pay and loans to make installments on. I can also point to those very bills for this. I can show many moments of doubt as deep as the neurons carrying these words to the fingers as they type away here for you all. I can convey so many moral wrongdoings in my world done unto others as well as myself, all focused upon this one lone life and how many it meets along the way to the final end. I can tell anyone who asks of the struggles I face each and every day and how anxiety meets stress so thick it drowns, and how when I actually open my fearful eyes I can see nothing to truly be afraid of, and how this then makes me feel so insignificant and small-minded that I just want to die to be over it all.

Yes, I am a horrible human being. Yes, I take things out on myself that should never have blame set upon anyone and, yes, I know these things to be fallacies in all truth, but that notion doesn't make them any less strong, any less wondrously vivid when push comes to shove. When I see these minuscule things emerge from behind the magnifying glass, like a cartoon bug walking on a scientists desk, instead of acting out against them to rid them of my life I take it out on myself in turn for ever having thought them large in the first place.

So for any out there who understand this... this piece is for you.

I have begun in earnest lately. I started with what turns out to have been a dull knife, that or just way too broad for the task. Now I yearn to distance myself from the razor removed from a box-cutter, cleaned and sanitized with high-grade rubbing alcohol. I found myself doing this even in plain view of Meaghan as she watched a show online earlier. When asked about it, I blame a cat, after having added so many others around the larger ones so as to appear so. Each burns, yes, but each also relieves some tension as I remember how the razor bypassed my sensory objection to pain and alleviated some in its place.

I still am not quite sure why I do this, however, even as I wonder where I should place the next one so its not obvious come daylight. I should admit now, though, that none of these go very deep other than that first time. With the razor in poised delicate-gripped fingertips I fear of going too far and not realizing it until its much too late. Thus I only go, so to speak, skin-deep. I go until I see a neat, crisp line of red, and then stop cutting deeper and focus on letting no scab appear. I scrape it away with the flat of the blade to allow the line to stay longer, to allow it that final course down my forearm and onto the paper towel lain beneath.

Now what was once a dream of mine, a worry without cause but a worry nonetheless, has now become much more tangible and real. I can now truly fear going too deep and doing something I can never do. It really isn't my intention, mind you, to end my life. Instead my intent is to focus on pain in place of mental worries, in place of things I can never truly change. Instead of absolute panic over not having an income just now, I am able to focus on my arm and how much I can take before adding the cleaning liquids and neaten it all up. Instead of fretting over a lack of fuel for a car I currently cannot make payments on, I can focus on how hard I press the blade and when I should begin drawing it along and how long to do this one and which direction and where to make the next one when the time comes and how to make them all look like cat scratches or the like to the untrained eye.

I know it's wrong, but then again this same pain would come from tattoos and a tattoo would last me my entire life... not just a week or so. I guess what I mean to say is that this is real. It doesn't get any more real than this. Yet truth be told too many people dismiss those in my state as small-minded and depressed and mentally unstable and fraught with a disease of the brain and so on, while not many tend to stand aside for a moment and ponder the implications. By cutting I am therefore an outcast among many, and yet by keeping it in and never doing anything physical to release it I slowly become a mass murderer or a depraved psychopath or a true suicidal being. No matter what malcontent it keeps from reaching me, if this act seems horrifying whilst keeping me alive, then I say let the blood come. I say keep this drawing act going...

and let the alcohol clean what ails me one drop at a time, from the internal in the form of drunken charades and from the external in the form of sanitation and fast-healing.

Friday, August 8, 2014


a prologue
Gary Baker, August 2014
(part of a lingering rage-based satire inspired by works of junkie-fiction)

Enter once, twice, three times, hit 'ctrl' and the letter 'A' as one, font select: scroll to Rosarivo, then hit twelve point size, justify margins, and finally one point five spacing. Done. Now the good stuff.

I see the needle coming and my muscles steel themselves from the stimulus. They know what’s coming; I know what’s coming. Hell, you’d think I’d have just gotten over it by now. But no. I won’t. I can’t. Each time is new and, as they say, improved. The bolt is rearing, the liquid viciously awaiting. Like the fluids in a viper’s maw, gunning for that bite, pining to draw blood, needing that orgasmic release of finality as fluids are shot deep into the flesh of another being.

But this isn't at all what my own body thinks of. As the impending prey all my molecules seem unable to justify it all. They think this the end. They think that death comes next. Does it? I ask myself, with none but an echo of thoughtlessness in response. I’m too fear-stricken to believe what lurks, to believe what comes, to understand in a comprehensive manner that which would soon pierce skin raw and delve into the sacredness of unbroken veins.

Alright thare, Mista Gunna, a voice from beyond my cerebral focus echoes in like the shimmering light seen through meters of ocean water. I feel like I’m drowning, like a songbird captured by an all-too-tall wave that should never have been, my feathers soaked and my scrawny pin-prick toes doing nothing to propel me to the surface. Thas ain’t goanna work, you bein so overwrought an all. Wae need to calm you daown.

Suddenly the dark humid room is gone, all the green walls vaporized by a quick burst of light from my peripherals and I feel weightless in a new sensory darkness. All I can think of is how they must have expelled me from my body somehow. Perhaps they yanked my cords a bit too fast, or maybe they just said ‘to hell with it’ in that godawful accent and slit my throat. But that wouldn't be right; they need me alive for the injection to work, for me to work.

Then a light snaps on ahead and I feel myself moved somehow until my eyes are able to focus through the haze of smoke and steam. What I see, then, stops my heart.

In the light, standing in such a way that it seems I view from a ceiling support beam, is this woman of unseemly features. Her hair is both light straw yellow and yet deep murky black, shifting from one to the other with unrealistic fluidity. Her skin transcending in both sandy pale ales and burnt ocher mahogany. I find myself lost for a moment in just that, in the way her tones ebb and flow and how this hair of hers curls about like waves locked in time as it all cascades upon her shoulders, where the collar of a long coat hides everything beneath her chin, all angled at a three-quarter tilt from above and behind.

Thas goode, naw, aint’t? The voice echoes again, suddenly reprimanded by another just at the cusp of audible range. Naw don’ yoo worry, Mista Gunna, yoo jus’ watch an fo’get about us. Jes relax them bones and we’ll all be best’a buds. I hear the bass of the other again and feel the first move away, though from where I cannot say. Then a muffled echo of a disk being dropped, and the first comes back again with a tap of what would be my own ankle if I had one anymore. Enjoy the show, naw, hear? ‘Specially cause yur in fer’a treat.

Suddenly there is movement ahead and my attention resets, brought back to the girl as she slowly lifts away the coat as though home for the evening. She lets it drop into the darkness by her unseen feet, instantly standing alone in the darkness in nothing but glossy obsidian small clothes over creamy light-latte skin. Her shoulders, now unheeded by the jacket, show a bit of sun damage from some foray outside, her freckles almost invisible through the healing tan, and her covered breasts seem curious as they peek just into visibility with the angle I view from. I try not to, but my eyes then move down, across the pocks in her back where her shoulder blades make shadows and across the indent where her spine recedes inward with it’s curve, and roam across her hips. It’s impossible not to admire whomever brought her into being, in that proportions had been painstakingly thought out, whether by genetics or DNA grafters putting her basest structures together molecule by electron-sized molecule. Her cheeks shift this way and that as she moves her upper body, doing something beyond my attention, and slowly the slight amount of clothing stretched out upon them shimmies into the verge between each side. It isn’t much fabric, to be honest, that moves into that line, that highway roaming deep across places that can only be dreamed of, but the elastic that runs the trail renounces complete coverage and leaves her cheeks all-too-nicely unveiled. In that moment her features stop shifting, her latte skin sinfully silky-smooth and her hair a glimmer of strawberry within a light caramel.  

A sudden gut-wrenching sensation hits my left arm and I try to move, try to shift my awareness, the woman fuzzing like static as I finally grasp my own arm from within and attempt to move it. More numbed slicing ensues into searing pain and I feel tendons snapping like cataclysmic rubber bands.

Well sun’offa gun, he mocks again, am I to baelieve yoo felt that? He chuckles an eerily cheerful laugh and I feel movement from my side again followed by what could only be a hand patting my lower thigh. ‘Is time I thaink we turn up the heat, eh, Mista Gunna? Give yoo summa that good ol’ fashion haspitalitay. On tha house, naw.

In an instant the pain was righteously gone, and my attention came to again with the woman turning my way with an unhooked bra held over her poised breasts by crossed wrists. Her verdant emerald eyes shone with something intangible to me until she dropped her hands to her hips and the bra slipped into the depths with her ankles.

Like before, I try not to look, but it’s just uncanny the way her breasts hang just enough with a youthful pugnacity, how they draw in the eye like the physical embodiment of a black hole in space instead placed mystically on the female form. Freckles span these, too, originating near the collar to dip down near the upper contours of her ribcage through a low valley of temptatious flesh. They seem to hang toward me, her form suddenly gravitating in my direction, and I find myself upon a sofa of sorts, this lioness stalking toward me with all but her vulva left visible. The tantalizing draw, the suppressed desire within then loosens and I feel her stepping closer, the by golly, I thaink’e likes this’n almost drowned out entirely as her lips part and reach to my own.

For a long moment I am lost again. I float in space, drifting, falling. The ground is gone entirely, replaced instead by the weightless awe of the woman’s mysterious purr. She then draws away with my upper lip caught between softly poised teeth leaving an urge I’d not felt for a long time in this society of repressed desires. In that moment I need her. Something within tells me not to, but I reach out and bring her close, cupping a shoulder blade with one hand and a handful of buttocks in the other.

She gasps and an accented chuckle reaches me from somewhere else. The wind of the open window playing tricks with the echoes. I feel her pulse quicken, then, and she pulls away just enough to stare longingly into my eyes, the need in her just as clear as my own. Passion moves into play and replaces the fear I can no longer understand as she traces my chest with faint trails of her fingers, ebbing slowly, tauntingly downward. Straddled, I can do nothing about the smallclothes of hers that remain between us, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

She bites her lower lip on one side and again I see that need. I see her desire reflecting my own, driving me crazy, acting out the energies bottled up for far too long, now. Then her fingers reach my belt and before I can attempt to help it’s gone, tossed to the side. Lost forever.

Out in space something slices and I feel a release of pressure. A weight shifts in an impossible location. My eyes begin to wander, trailing away as though in extreme exhaustion.

At that moment she chooses to pull me out and press her palm, caressing fingers and all, into a sensation that brings me back.

“Don’t you go leaving me dry, boy,” she mocks while drawing the highway of obsidian elastic to the side. Eyes wide, I wonder what I was thinking. Why would I fall asleep now?

But then the slicing returns, like the vibration of a badly strung bow upon a tightly-wound violin.

Abruptly a hot anger burns in her eyes, those emeralds turn fierce with rage and she slams down over me. For a slight moment she holds there, eyes locked with mine as though demanding my complete arousal for the amount of time she requires. Again I wonder what could possibly distract me from this.

Then slowly, tantalizingly, she lifts away and sends shivers coursing up my spine. My heart kick-starts, gears within switch into drive, and I clench my fingers across her hips to pull her back down. The quivering then moves from me to her and I know it has begun in earnest this time.

The sofa shushes beneath us, drowned out by her pace-less, ragged breathing. Hair paints my nose when she drops her forehead down, her arms like pillars to either side of my neck as I drive onward with repetitive increased pounding. The ribbed sensation in my arm keeps on, but I ignore it now, too drawn into her rippling muscles to care about the curious phantom. When it increases in intensity I know she spots the distraction coming even as I do, and without loosing me from her hips she spins to lay with her back against my chest on the plush cushion. Her cheeks press emphatically over me, and she pulls me close once more to restart our routine.

There,” she whispers after a few thrusts, and her eyes fight to stay open. When the slicing ensues again I pantingly open my eyes to find her laying over the tingling arm, shifting to the rhythm of my assault. It’s just the sofa. Why would I think it anything else? Then she turns her head to watch me from over her sunburned shoulder with an energetic gleam in her eyes and I wonder if the burn still hurts her or if perhaps the endorphins have numbed it. Again she bites her lip and releases a ragged breath.

This goes on for some time, though I would be lying if I said it went on forever. Ultimately, after some changes in position and pacing, I find myself being hugged between her skyward thighs as I push forth one last time, her hands grasped dangerously upon the contours of my hip bones. She releases a lasting shudder of withheld breath before collapsing into the cushion beneath me.

With my heart still racing I lay down half atop her, still poised between her knees, and bring my eyes to hers. The grin she dons, then, brings an ache to my heart, like warm steel suddenly coursing through my veins. She doesn’t even need to speak it, as I already understand, but she winces and seems saddened as she does so anyway. “You know we can never do this again.” Those emeralds turn bleak by comparison and she looks away, toward the sky. Opposite the direction of my now missing phantom slicing. “Try not to lose this, ‘kay?”

She sounds like a young girl trying to plea to her first love never to leave her, but why would I ever? Even had we not just consummated our passion together, I see no reason why I would ever forget her. Then her eyes turn upon me again and seem to scold, as though having just heard my thoughts.

“They will destroy you, Gunner,” she lectured. For some reason I feel fear building up again and my groin responds by shrinking away in cowardice. The intensity in her voice increases and she rolls her glorious body onto me and bores holes into me with that glare. “Do not let them do this, Gunner. You’re better than that.” She shakes her head angrily and shudders as the living room shifts with sudden static. “What we are, in this moment, should not exist. They think they have you, Gunner, that you have been completely taken over, but they’re wrong.”

She places a palm onto my chest and heaves herself into a seated position, and again the room buzzes with static snapping. Her eyes dart in every direction at once, fear building in her as well. Without warning her glare is back upon me and I am caught entranced by her severity. “What we are doing is against everything they plan. Yes, they uploaded me into your brain, but Gunner you have to understand that you subconsciously took control.”

The room cracks wildly, then, and she disappears for a brief moment into darkness. The room stutters like a corrupted data file and sounds about the same. Her voice lowers dramatically, awkwardly. Her eyes burst with light and her skin seems abuzz with hues of motion despite my feeling nothing of the sort. “I-” she attempts, “-built a-” again the room shutters viciously, threatening to break down into bleak oblivion, “-pocket-”

Then my world is void of everything.

All I can sense is the quickly-fading echo claiming “-to save you….”

The year back then was Twenty-seven thousand plus change. I haven’t aged a day since. Not really.