Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 32


He hit the surface of mental consciousness at full throttle, his whole body pushing up and out.  His mouth ripped free of the air mask, and he felt the suffocating press of a thick membrane stretching taut across his face with the full force of every tensed muscle in his body pressing forward.  Kerr crashed through the imprisoning wall of membrane.  He felt twisting, sucking cords ripping from his skin even as he hit the floor in a heap of limbs and gelatinous membrane fragments.  Glistening containment fluid tinged with a hint of neon blue in the low light cascaded around him.   Pain shuddered through him, blacking out his vision. He felt the deceptively toothless maws of the writhing cords begin gumming at his skin, and he began scrambling out of the pile of debris before the flashing spots had fully cleared from his eyes.  He felt one snake-like cord sink its mouthful of barbed hooks into the back of his right calf.  The shock of pain was almost debilitating, bringing him back down to his knees.  Swinging his hand blindly across the floor, he managed to grab hold of a metal bar that was lying near him.

Spinning, he jammed the end of the metal bar into the taut cord with all his might.  He felt the cord sever under his hand. Cut off from the machine that powered it, the barbs retracted automatically and the mouth of the cord fell lifelessly to the floor from the back of his leg. Black inky fluid drained out onto the floor and began spreading out in an ever widening circle. A mixture of his blood and the incoming chemicals meant to disable him dripped down his leg.

Backing away, he watched intently for any other fast moving cords. When he was certain he was far enough away and it was safe to turn his back, he stood drawing in deep breaths of air and took stock of himself and his surroundings.

He was dressed only in a thin gauzy gown, the slimy fabric clinging to him in the chill air.  His feet were bare.  Tall tubular sacs hung suspended from the ceiling, glowing translucent from within in the dim light. The slack faces within obscured from recognition by the distortion of the sac membrane.  Level 5. He looked next for the control panel hanging on the wall by the door. Green lights blinked back at him as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. No alarms. No warning alerts. Not a single yellow dot among the sea of green.  He didn’t know how Tricket had managed it, but he wasn’t sticking around to take it for granted.  He limped toward the door and the supply chamber he knew lay on the other side.  Hopefully one of the caretakers or the scientists would have left a lab coat or a change of clothes in one of the lockers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 31

Dr. Adelheide She had passed into the third patient ward before the slight rumble of the floor beneath her feet from the marching guards began to lessen. So far they had not entered wards, but she did not know how long they would wait to further widen their search. She continued moving through the tubs in a back and forth grid, looking at each face carefully, before passing on to the next row of tubs. So many against this tiny stand of resistance.

She closed off the thoughts and focused her attention back on each new face, searching. She passed into the fourth ward. Then the fifth. The floors began to rumble again with running guards. She kept her focus. There was no time to waste on them. She passed into the sixth ward. At the far end she saw the heavy black doors of Level 5 and shuddered at the thought of it. Only those considered the “most dangerous” were moved on to the Museum, with its eerie darkness and tall imprisoning specimen sacs. Deactivated men and women held suspended in living tombs of permanent stasis. It was whispered that they were not even granted the mercy of virtual dreams. It was where they would put her when she was caught. If she was caught. She turned away, continued her search. If he was not here, she would turn around and look at each face again.
It was in the next to last tub of the sixth ward, right next to the heavy black doors of Level 5, that she found him.
The patient, head shaved now and fresh blue tattoo marks lined up the side of his neck, lay motionless and weighted against the chilled white porcelain of the basin, his skin pebbled with cold. His gray blue eyes blinked slow and unfocused. She moved around to the end of the tub so she could stand by his head, glancing down at the syringe in her hand as she did so. 

The disconnect serum still held faint tones of amber and none of the slowly forming indigo residue. Excellent. Carefully she pulled the procedure tray out from the side of the tub with her left hand and set down the syringe on its sterile surface. A monitoring board flashed into existence a few inches above its surface, ready for orders. She tapped the red square in the upper right corner to initiate the patient disengagement sequence, then turned back to the patient. Testing his awareness, she swept her fingers gently across his brow, then gradually increased pressure. He continued to blink his eyes slowly, not registering her touch any more than he had registered her presence. About two thirds of the way out of stasis then. He wouldn’t struggle unnecessarily but would still respond fairly quickly to the injection. She turned back to the board and found the button on the screen that bypassed the restraints protocol. Next she asked it to position his head for access to his port. When he was ready, the monitoring board flashed blue. She pressed the button to initiate the opening of the injection dock. This was it. 

She took a moment to stretch tense fingers. Then she picked up the syringe, slipped off the needle cap, and with a single firm motion, inserted the needle firmly into the injection dock. She pressed the plunger slowly, counting out thirty. Finished, she pulled the needle out and tossed the now empty syringe into the biohazard bin. Two minutes to wait now. Even as the patient’s body began to shake, a rending crash sounded from beyond the still doors of Level 5.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Becoming Writer Book Giveaway

Looking for some good writing inspiration?  Joe Bunting over at  Write Practice and Becoming Writer is doing a giveaway of several wonderful writing books:
GO HERE TO ENTER and to find out more information about how he chose these books in particular. Giveaway ends July 27 at midnight.

Tim Grahl over at  is also doing a summer writing challenge to help himself and everybody else get their writing done this summer. While the overall focus of his blog is on marketing your books once you've finished them , he is a man in writing transition and his secondary focus is all about getting the actual writing done.  If you are in need of some of that inspiration

Go Here to Find out more about Summer Blitz: Get Your Writing Done

On a more personal note, it has been a rough few months health-wise here in Zinc world (autoimmune stuff kicking my butt), and dropping out of the blogosphere during that time has been one of the unfortunate side effects of that.  I am on the up swing again though (!!!!), and thought this was a lovely opportunity to ease back in to writing here again.  Thank you all for being so patient in waiting for Silent Room updates.

Best of luck in your writing! (and hopefully you'll see me back around these parts again soon...)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

C is for Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, and Muggy Summer Nights

Tonight, at the end of a long week, as I sat here trying to think of a C word I could focus my brain on long enough to say something coherent, I found myself wandering down memory lane instead.   I found music offering me a sudden ticket back to childhood and lazy summer nights.

One memory in particular stood out.  It was dusk or shortly after dark, a long afternoon and evening of getting the hay baled and put into the barn just behinds us.  For those non farm types, this means being bone tired with the good kind of full body muscle ache that can only come from hard work (like throwing heavy bales for hours). Your skin is covered with the crust of dried salt left behind from evaporating sweat and the bits of dust and dried alfalfa that somehow manage to get into every conceivable nook and cranny. In your ears, down the back of your neck, down the insides of your ankles under the sock elastic.  And now it is night and the work is done.  You are still sitting out under the night sky, having not quite found the energy to head inside yet. Fireflies are blinking in and out across the hay stubble; the stars are beginning to wink into view overhead.  Somewhere the radio is playing, filling the air with warmth of Creedance or the langorous rumble of Johnny Cash.  There is laughter and conversation and cool glasses of mint tea from which the last of the ice hasn't quite melted. It is joy and fatigue  and a good dose of relief all bundled up.

Memory is a funny, wonderful thing attached in interesting ways to sounds and smells.

What about you? Is there a song you've listened to recently that took you back to a moment of time you hadn't thought of in a long time?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are all about the second chances.  Now, when I think  of these miniature darlings with their delicate, pale green leaves and their flavor punch of crisp tender delicate deliciousness, it is hard to remember there was a time when my nose would have turned up at even the thought of bringing these smelly little cabbages any where near my life. Good thing I gave them a second chance. They are now my favorite veggie!

If you’re looking for a good brussel sprouts recipe to give them another try, check out recipes like  Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apple  or Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts over at the foodie blog The Bitten Word.  They have long been one of my favorite food blogs and my first go to when I am trying to decide on a dish for a special dinner or holiday.

What about you? Is there anything you’ve given a second chance, only to be surprised to find yourself falling in love? Or do you have a favorite brussel sprouts recipe (or memory) that you'd like to share?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Alligator

Last week, my sister talked me into canoeing with the alligators. be precise, she talked several of us into it.  We had travelled down to Sarasota, Florida for a few days with my brother to join a friend who was vactioning there from Germany.  The weather was beautiful and warm after the gray, snow-bearing skies of February here in Ohio, and it was our last afternoon before we needed to head back north.   We had already braved about as much sunshine, water, and sand as our winter skin could handle, but it seemed criminal to end our stay indoors when we would be heading back to the brisk chill of early spring weather in a matter of hours.  "Canoeing!" she says, and "Okay," the rest of us say.  And so we headed out to Myakka River State Park and a slightly more Animal Planet experience than most of us had anticipated.   (My sister had apparently been dreaming of the Everglades so this was an acceptable second!)

Or maybe we had all just watched too much Animal Planet?  The alligators we happened to see were peacable and content and mostly just disappeared under the water when we came too near.  Adrenaline and nerves aside, it made for an incredible afternoon of beauty and bird watching. We didn't count, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more than 20 different types of birds. Most of them birds we had never seen in real life before.  It made for an excellent and memory making afternoon. And now I can say, I've gone canoeing with the alligators.

What about you? Have you ever done something you never thought you'd do, only to find out it was something pretty special?

A to Z April Blog Challenge 2015

Welcome any A to Z bloggers who happen to be stopping by!  I look forward to getting to know many of you through your writing in the next 30 days.  Feel free to leave a comment, and I will stop by to check out your hard work.

For me, this is my second year participating, and if last year is anything to go by, it should be a whirlwind month of words, creativity, community, and much needed caffeine.   Look for a hodge-podge of posts here at ZincJourney- fiction, reflections, writing tools, ???.  I am approaching  this a bit like making a Bountiful Quilt  (see here and here), grabbing a little of this and a little of that until we see what it looks like at the end.

As for my "regulars", prepare for a blitz of activity unlike anything you have seen since last April! If you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, click the badge in the side bar, and it will take you to their site. Also, despite appearances, the Silent Room is still continuing and has not been as utterly abandoned as my sporadic posting sometimes infers. Look for another post soon. Probably Sunday...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 30

Dr. Adelheide

Somehow, the last door let her through.

She had been twenty feet from the door that lead to her final destination when the security locks slid into place, the sound reverberating in the still air up and down the hall.  Momentum kept her moving forward even with the heavy sound in her ears. Even as she knew what she was going to find- a locked door; no escape; no salvation for herself or the stranger beyond the doors. 

By then she had been in front of the final door. And as she stopped, waiting for an impossible miracle, it happened.  The locks on the door in front of her began to reverse. The cool gray door of Ward 1 began to slide open. It was... but she did not have time to squander on the right or wrong of impossibilities.

Inside, soft shadows darkened the room, punctuated only by the occasional small light and the hum of machines.

Carefully she walked between the tubs, looking for the right one. Faces lost to chemically induced slumber glinted back at her like small half moons in the dimness. She closed her mind to the worry about surveillance detectors activating defense protocols or the coming guards or the fact that she would be able to take only one of so many with her if, when she escaped.  Just kept moving, kept focused. Tried not to think about time ticking by too fast, the sand of the hourglass running out. 

First she had to find him. Then, she could worry about the next thing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


WNP:  As he stepped out of the plane, he felt like his whole life had changed.

One moment, airplane.  Scuffed, utilitarian aisle carpet.  Blue covered seats in rows of three on each side of the aisle.  Low murmurs of conversation as everyone shifted and moved around him, collecting bags and books.  The stale aroma of whatever attempt at chicken basil dinner they had eaten still hanging in the air. Shirt still sticking to his back in places from the humidity of July heat before getting on this plane, hours ago now.

Then. Cold. Bitter cold. And the overwhelming stench...scent of fish. Through a gap in the walkway sides he could see workers wearing heavy coats with fur-lined hoods shifting luggage and boxes down on the tarmac.  He wrapped his arms around himself and moved quicker.  A few more steps and he reached the terminal gate.

"Welcome to Reykjavik," the stewardess said as he stepped on by.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 29


She woke slowly, as if from a deep sleep after a bad dream. Her body felt weighted. When she opened her eyes, the room where she found herself was airy and gently lit with sunshine. Around her, long pale curtains billowed in a slow swirl of movement. The bedding curled up enveloping her in a white cocoon of softness. It was disorienting in its cleansing lightness.

She closed her eyes again, groaning as she stretched her arms, and tried to remember where she was, how she had got here. She remembered… a ginger-striped kitten, an empty living room. Then nothing. She let her mind drift. Snuggled more deeply into her comforter.

Another thought, an important thought, niggled at the edges of her awareness. Through the cotton wool tangle of her thoughts, she tried to fix her mind’s eye on that brush of memory. A face scrubbed in shadow. Almost.

It slipped a little further away, just beyond her consciousness. Maybe she would sleep just a little longer. She turned her face into her pillow, burrowing in. Then a name slipped into her mind with the soft weight of a pebble dropping into water. Kerr. Sitting up in one swoop of motion, she opened her mouth and began to scream.

Even before her scream reached its full crescendo, she felt a strange sweep of emotions begin to surge through her body in a rushing chemical wave of fatigue and forgetfulness. Her scream thinned, dissipated. She tried to fight it. No, she needed to scream. She needed to… She sank back onto the bed, her eyes fluttering.

As her eyes fought to stay open, she felt a gentle hand stroke the side of her head, brushing her hair back behind her ear. She turned toward the motion. The form of Grandma Nan flickered in and out with the form of a gaunt man in a black suit and a crisp white collar. Grandma Nan stroked her cheek this time, a soft, regretful expression on her face.

“I’m sorry,” she said. He said.

Sora tried to separate them into two.

“I’m sorry,” they said. “It’s better if you sleep now.” The world faded away in soft dreams of wandering clouds drifting above a flock of sheep as they grazed under a lavender sky.

In the background, the cortex manipulation continued to run its diagnostic on her implant chip. When it found the glitch, it reinstalled the program and added on a few patches. Once it had completed its repair work, it restarted the program and inducted her back into the virtual main frame, this time in her own fully functional simulated world. She did not wander again into another’s dreams.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 28


The shadows drifting around the stone walls of Watcher Hall thickened, further blurring the line between the virtual projections of the Watcher Collective and the reality that contained its heart. The arches soaring somewhere overhead were completely obscured now. At the Watcher Table a soft hiss drew attention to the slow wisps of dark mist drawing in on itself as the Watchers began to solidify back into their corporal forms.

Tricket pulled back into the darkness around the edges, hunching his shoulders and bowing his head. Becoming again the forgotten one, the not to be concerned with one. He did not look down at his own battered form slumped in a wheelchair and stuck full with sensors and manipulators. Anger and grief would not aid him in his battle. Only cunning. And invisibility.

They should perhaps have been more wary of him. He’d been with them a long time. Once upon a time, they had known he was capable of far more than being their humble power source and vassal to be commanded without complaint. Here in their sanctum, he had found the safest place to hide from them.

He smoothed his hands down his mentally projected butler suit, their preferred costume for him, muted the crisp of his white collar, blended the the black edges of his coat tails. Blurred his presence just that small bit.

With a final rush the Watchers solidified. In an instant the anger in the room was a palpable, ripping thing. Their great jaws ground together; foam dripped from their chins. The Collective Unison was completely broken by their hatred for a full moment before they snapped back into oneness.

“Find him,” spoke One. His voice jagged and forced. “Find him now.”

“Find him,” echoed several of the others.

Out in the corridors, Tricket felt the guards snapping to attention and moving out in formation under the force of their release command. The first set of locks slid home.
Already guards neared the Silent Room and its emptiness.

With a laser focus he tracked the path of the secret pass he had been trying to block from his mind, held the lock spring on a single important door.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Silent Room, Part 27

Dr. Adelheid

Somehow she managed to keep her lip buttoned despite the entire stream of freaked out “no, no, no, not now, NO” running at full volume inside her head. What did she do with an extra patient? An extra important patient who had not even made it into one of the sub-bullet point list of contingencies because no one, ever, had made it free from The Silent Room once its programs had been initiated? There had been a lot of contingencies in The Plan. A hundred options for what to do if an extra individual made it into the plan at individual points along the escape line. She’d already had to initiate more than one. This was not one of them.

The man lying on the floor was very definitely one of the new “high profile” patients. He still had his prisoner cuff on his left wrist. From the rise of his chest, he looked like he was still breathing. Did she dare aid him? Did she dare not? What if his escape brought the guards rushing into these hallways? What if the doors only opened because she was passing? Seconds counted at this point.

She listened down the hallways for a moment, for any sounds of rushing guards. Silence hung in the air like an enveloping cloud. Keeping her right hand elevated, the capped needle of the syringe pointing up and out lest she accidentally endanger the disconnect serum, she managed to get down on one knee and gently shake the man’s shoulder.

He let out a long low groan.

“Shhh, you have to be quiet, or I can’t help you,” her words a whisper of breath near his left ear. Whether he heard her or simply had come to the end of this particular groan, he didn’t groan a second time.

When she looked back down, a set of eyes looked up at her through the cascade of curls. Okay, so he was alert. That was better than any of the alternatives.

She looked up at the countdown timer above the door. It read S3, so about a third of the way through the cycle. She managed to draw his arm halfway over her shoulder, then she gestured for him to stand up. Gripping fiercely onto, he made a fumbling attempt to get to his feet as she slowly stood up.

It took much, much too long. First to get to his feet. Then to begin making tentative steps down the hall in the direction of the pass through to which she was heading. Sweat began to bead on her forehead. She felt the countdown in her body like a physical presence. The hundred feet remaining seemed impossibly far. Finally she broke.

“Quick,” she murmured softly in his ear. “Quicker than you can possibly have energy for I know. But we have to get to the end of the hall or neither of us will make it out of this.” Somewhere he found the strength to walk a little faster.

By the time they reached the door, she heard the locks unsealing in the far hall and the low voices of the guards beginning to zig and zag through the hexagonal walkways on their evening check. There would be no sliding through unobtrusively under her own name now. She fished under her tunic and pulled out an emergency temporary bypass card. She waved it near the sensor, holding her breath until it opened the restricted access hall. Dragging the patient through, she just managed to get them through and push the door closed when the voices turned into the hallway they had just abandoned.

A minute later, the first of the guards must have discovered the open doorway to The Silent Room as she heard the shouts go up and the locks sliding into place on the doors behind them as the immediate lock down procedure was engaged. She’d have to use two of the escape hatches then. Hope there were enough Resistance members there to help at all points.

On the left wall she found a hatch door leading to a larger laundry checkpoints. It would have to do. She leaned him against the wall and fished a sensor out of her pocket, pressing it into his hand. Then she showed him how to open the door and pull it shut after himself.

“Sorry,” she whispered. “You’ll have to go without me. Get in the closet and slide down the laundry chute. Keep beneath the sheets if you can, and press the sensor until it flashes red once. Someone should find you from there. Hopefully, I’ll have to catch you on the far side.”

Somehow he didn’t argue, just slid one foot into the closet. Maybe the doors opening and closing and the crashing boots… As he got the second foot moving, she turned and made a run for the far end of this hallway while keeping a tight grip on the syringe. Already the serum was beginning to darken in color from too much time at room temperature.

She heard a faint series of thuds from the laundry chute as she slid through the next set of doors. A moment after that she heard all the emergency locks slide into place on all the doors up and down the hall.

This was just so not good.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Silent Room, Part 26

Prompt writing with Copper


She stood in the center of the living room. The same place she had been standing for well over an hour. Ever since she had come back in with the soft ginger striped kitty with its big blue eyes. She had been so sure it could make Uncle Kerr smile. She had only been gone a few minutes. She had only wanted to look at the kittens. But it had been too long.

Nothing felt right anymore. Not the warm welcoming sofa on the side of the kitchen. Not the comforting presence of Grandma Nan. Not even the beautiful fluffy soft kitten rubbing against her leg. Somehow they had switched the important bits out when she wasn’t looking. Like they had done when she first lost Mommy and Daddy, before she found Uncle Kerr. And all the kittens, and all the baked oatmeal with peaches, and all the hugs in the world from Grandma Nan could not make it alright. Uncle Kerr was gone.

Always before she could find him. Find his connection to her and pull herself into his reality. This time it wasn’t working. It had never not worked. Even… She felt the desperation building within in her. She couldn’t let it distract her.

Grandma Nan brushed a soft hand over her brow and tried once more to pull her away from trying to find him. She ignored the soft touch. Instead she focused her thoughts yet again, pounding on the mind door with all her might.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Silent Room: Part 25

Prompt with Copper


He had left before Sora could come back in and find him. Her moment of inattention was his only chance. He would never be strong enough to leave her behind if she had her thoughts on him. Tricket would be strong enough to hide her and keep her safe. He had to believe that. Hope was to fragile a thing to weight against Sora’s life. He ran through the options again in his mind.

The decision was simple, the only viable possibility. He knew it was the only way. Even if he explained to Sora until he was blue in the face, she would never understand enough to get safely away with him. Even if he could find her after he woke to the surface. But still, leaving her? Walking away and leaving this bit of sunshine alone and abandoned again, hurting her in the deepest way? She was still smiling now, but would she be after this? His courage wavered. He sat at the round oak table staring into Grandma Nan’s eyes, agonizing as the ticking of the clock seemed to fill all the space in the suddenly tiny room like an unwanted alarm screaming into the stillness.

Outside Sora laughed. Even now, she might be coming back inside. All it would take was a fleeting thought, and he would have to wait and make this this impossible choice again. The thought beckoned, but he knew the truth. He could never hide it from her, not completely. His distress would be written on the lines of his face and the anxious tapping of his hands.

For such a tearing, ripping choice, the actions themselves had been simple. He had had only to stand, nod once at Grandma Nan, and then walk out the door. As if it was any other day and any other door.

Outside the day had passed into night. He didn’t bother to wonder about how. Somehow Tricket, Grandma Nan had arranged things. He found the glimmering hazy blue light that made up the “north star” in this sky. He looked at it. Focused his attention. Let reality take him back into its arms.