Sunday, May 13, 2012

More of Shadsie's Animal Adventures

Cross-posted between Deviant Art and Blogger.

Some days I feel like “Shadsie Irwin.”

Yesterday evening, I went into work – for anyone who doesn’t already read me regularly, I work on a farm cleaning up after horses.  I got a surprise.  

There’s a big barn and a little barn and on a yearly basis (I’ve been working there for a couple of years now), springtime brings birds that like to nest in the big barn.  I think they’re swifts, not entirely sure – they look reasonably like that family as illustrated in the Peterson’s Guide.  There’s a pair that’s been taking a particular nest-building site inside the big barn that my guy, Bob, and I like to call “The Bickersons,” because they loudly argue.  Drives the barncats nuts… Brave little things – they’ll swoop right by your head if you’re too close to their nest, dive-bomb the cats…

Apparently, the Bickersons’ brood from last year came back with them and a pair of young birds has been staking a claim in the little barn for the first time – right inside the doorway.  There are lots of fly-paper and fly-sticks hung up there because the little barn is close to the Great Lord Smellypyle (manure heap) and gets things especially bad and especially early with the flies.  So, I go into the little barn to take care of the couple of the stalls I’m in charge of cleaning there and I notice something odd about the orange, tubular fly-stick hanging from the ceiling… I thought it had a rather large bit of debris caught onto it from wind.  I took a second look and it was a bird.

A bird was just stuck on there by the wings and tail.  I looked up, thinking “poor dead thing, to die like that,” then to my resolute horror I saw its head move.  It was still alive, the poor thing! I called Bob at his work, asked what could be done… tried to rouse my immediate supervisors who live on the farm, but they were out partying – it’s Saturday… wound up getting one of the neighbors who lived on the property to help me out.  We took the fly stick down and gently pried the bird off.  I set it down to see if it could fly and it couldn’t get off the ground.  I scooped it up, just as Mr. Big, the multi-toed giant shorthaired barn cat came thundering up.  Told the neighbor to get on his computer and Google wildlife rehabilitators. Called Bob again, holding the scared little swift. 

It was close to quitting-time for Bobbert, so I waited, holding the little bird gently while he picked up some organic/non-toxic goo-gone and the kind of scentless, neutral dish soap people use on animals caught in oil spills.  The bird was nice and calm for me – probably in shock.  Its left claw had a death-grip on my thumb.  The barncats were especially interested in me…  And, so I started in on my work quite late because of birdy-rescue.  Bob and I managed to get some of the goo out, but ultimately we wound up finding a box, putting some soft hay in it, and Bob took it to the local wildlife rehab while I did my job. Bob said the people there were going to keep her until her tail feathers grow back in – because the fly goo had just wrecked it.  Her wings weren’t really all that bad.  I’m hoping she hasn’t laid eggs yet because that means they’re pretty much doomed.

Then, for dinner, I had Dairy Queen chicken strips.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ideas for a story, possibly novel

I have a stray idea that I sketched in a notebook.

Yep, that's a human heart embedded with clock-gears.  I don't have enough "story" in my head yet to start writing a story, all I have at present is a sketch.  Perhaps if some nice people were interested in publishing my other work (how many months ago did I send out queries for novels  "A World of Rusted Dreams" and "Malarkey and Belinda?" ), I'd have the little bit of umph I need to get my head on an original story idea like this and out of the stupid videogame fan fiction I've been into of late.  (Though fans of my fan fiction probably want me to stick around in that world).

Anyway, I have a title and a basic concept... on a torn out notebook page... with a creepy drawing of a heart.

Title: "Secondhand"

Setting: The setting is a world where the "seat of the self" isn't viewed as the brain, but the heart - kind of like the way of thought in the ancient world (Ancient Egypt, if I'm not mistaken), except in this world, it's actually true. More appropriately, the "soul" of a person is in their blood in this world.  There is an energy or "essence" that is known to flow in the blood of humans and animals and it is a measurable, scientifically-known, detectable material thing rather than a vague concept.  This energy, however, is mysterious and things about it are not completely understood by the science of this world.  It is thought to be the root of emotions.

This "essence" vanishes from the body after death.  It is not known whether it lives on or just decays into the earth like the rest of the body. It sort of just disappears - poof, no residue left behind at the moment of dying. I am thinking that most people in this world are of the latter ("decays") opinion, but there's no hard proof either way, which pretty much makes questions of the soul in this world much like questions of the soul in our world. 

Basic Plot: One nation's scientists/thinkers/engineers have discovered a way that the "essence" can be regulated.  If it's "flow" through the body is adjusted, it can be tightly controlled and thus emotion can give way to reason, calm and the controlling of a populace. The "essence flow" can be controlled through controlling the actions of the heart.  Being that this particular, powerful nation's culture generally frowns upon "overages of emotion" so a governmental motion is carried to give people after a certain age (when they are out of childhood and have stopped physically growing in any significant way) artificial clockwork hearts.  The artificial hearts allow blood to flow normally, but regulate the "essence."   

(Remember, kids, this is a fantasy world, I'm not even trying to be medically accurate).

Having an adult population with clockwork hearts (called "secondhand hearts" and the surgery to get one is called "secondhanding") keeps society on an even keel.  The people are kept "controlled."  However, as it turns out, these "secondhand hearts" don't work for everyone. Even people who survive the surgery intact sometimes, without explanation, continue to emote strongly, secretly question their government and innovate in unexpected ways...

I'm thinking that much of the story is in a protagonist seeking asylum from his country of origin in a country that has developed a "world gate" enabling contact with our world and the guy ends up explaining his world and his country to an interviewer from our (brain-based) world.  I also think the day he found out that his "secondhanding" didn't take and he was an "Irrational" (a person that would be branded with the epithet) when he *had a dream.*  It was actually a pleasant dream, but is scared the poo outta him because adults with secondhand hearts don't have dreams.  (REM sleep is essential for our brains, but not essential to survival in blood-soul-world) - and dreams are looked down upon, something "to be stamped out" in the secondhanding culture because they are irrational, something the society wants to eliminate. 


I think I may be channeling a bit of "Brave New World" here. I know I'm channeling a bit of the anime, "Kino's Journey" - there was an episode of that detailing a small country where people were lobotomized into adulthood and strict, unquestioning obedience of their government.  I think this idea is also a metaphor for psychiatry in a way:  I have a disorder for which I take medication and make attempts to "normalize" myself in order to function in the world.  How much should someone give up of themselves in order to be a part of the world? How much should someone give up of themselves to feel like they're in control and to feel like themselves?  Where do we draw the line at order and disorder?

I read an article yesterday on a news site where some guy was trying to "debunk the myth of the mad genius" well, I tell you, bunk on him because there are ideas I know I'd never come up with or be able to do with any kind of realistic efficacy if I were *normal.*  I see this as one of those ideas.