Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Adventures thus far as a Canadian Juror...

I had to write something about this as, driving from the courthouse back to work for the third time today, my expierence as a Juror has been fairly humorous and, I would hope, not common. But lets not start at today, lets start about a month ago when I received the letter. For the past month I, John Gunningham, have been a part of Canada's Judicial system, sitting in the Jury panel.

I had a couple misconceptions going into this thing. The first and probably largest is the amount of time it would take. I thought, naively as it turns out, that there would be a day of selection followed by, if one was selected, however many days of trial. This course of thought is very untrue. When selected to be in the pool of Jurors the court effectively owns you for 5 weeks. At any point inside those five weeks if there is a trial, you could be selected. So you're selected to serve on the first trial's Jury, you're exempt from the rest right? Nope. You come back the next week as they will undoubtedly need another 'panel of peers' to condem the next poor sod.

As it turns out, I'm 2 for 3, having been selected and served on 2 of the 3 court cases. Both ended the same way; the accused pleaded guilty before much of anything was done. So, as it turns out, a jury was not needed at all and about 3 days worth of my time was consumed, as a fire consumes paper, utterly without any kind of interesting by product. During this time they would give us 2 hour lunches only to have us return to tell us we could go, creating the equivalant of a human yo-yo. Perhaps this is just a game the judge plays, bouncing us like balls for his whims.

Now I have a theory. The court is intimidating, and this prompts wrong-doers to confess. A group of 12 people, strangers, staring, makes the accused confess. Therefore I theorize that instead of a Jury, we use a pack of gorillas. Large, male and angry. True the court system would lose a "rational" decision making body, however the intimidation factor would be through the roof. Imagine, your life in the hands of a 300 pound silverback, who will more likely squeeze hard than offer any sort of "Not Guilty" statement. Crime would stop. End of Story.

I just wanted to get that theory out there, if anyone with any kind of power sees this I would be more than happy to debate my condensed, abrupt form of Justice, dished out as it would be by a King Kong version of Judge Dredd. I also think bingo balls would be much prefered to the random selection dished out from cards in a box.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Snow fell in bursts, blown down from the heavens by a wind intent on piercing through even the thickest of winter garments. The town gate, usually seen from atop the farthest part of Travellers pass, was obscured in white. Piper stopped trudging and held a hand up, the falling snow causing it to vanish at an arm's length. Yet, despite the wind and snow, the bitter cold and all the trappings of deep winter, there was a serene quality to the day. All sounds were muffled in the deep white, and the landscapes many rugged obscenities were covered up with sheets of snow. Not the cleansing of a thunderstorm, but at least giving an illusion of purity.

"Such is life," Piper sighed and he walked on into the town.

"Please Sir, my mama is sick, we need some small amount for food.... please Sir..."

"The winter... the guards took all we had..."

"Please Sir..."


Piper passed by them quietly, tiredly. The children and widows sat pleading at first and then spitting and condemning. It was their way, a nature inside themselves that could not be broken; the way of the begger. Having what little they earned taken from them for tax filled them with spite, not ambition to strive for more. It was a cycle that the current merchant lord of the town could break, except for greed and lack of any good intentions. So the snow fell and heaped on their slumped shoulders, covering them but not purifying.

Piper sighed and slowed his walk. A large man sat shivering by himself, holes in his wool mittens.
"Please Sir, the crops... the Master took what the drought didn't. Please Sir, I have family... anything helps... anything at all..."

"Do you have anything to trade?" Piper asked the man.

"I have... nothing..."

"I can not give you charity, it must be a trade. There is nothing that I can give you that will help past this day, but you may be able to give me something to help yourself. Tell me, what is in the sack, the one that hangs from your belt?"

"Please Sir, only next year's seed. I keep it on me for fear of theft, these are hard times. I can't trade it, I can't."

"Is that so? You still grasp onto hope for a better year... I think there is a way that we can both be warmed this day." Piper said, "you see, I am looking for the good in this world. I have been cursed with a name, a name that brings upon me grief and trouble. I travel to find my faith again, my faith that things are not as bad as they seem. Trust me, good Sir, and I promise that you will be rewarded in full. I will trade your seeds for a song."

The man stared at Piper, his haggard face one that had seen too many promises broken to be naive. He had lost everything, his family depended on a bag of seeds tied to his belt. Yet there was something in this strange man's eyes, something that spoke of kinship and hardship and, above all else, an endurance that had allowed him to rise above all that had happened. The man had felt great sorrow, yes, and yet he remained. There was something in him that was worth trusting.

Hesitantly, the old farmer reached for the bag, then stopped.

"A song?" He stated flatly, "this is my future, all of it. What am I going to do with a song?"

"You'd be surprised," Piper said, "it is a very, very good song." Still there was that sorrow in his voice and honesty unburdoned by even a trace of a lie. For an instant the farmer beleived him, beleived that all he really did need was a song, a good song, and his life would be put back to order. He handed over the seeds.

Piper smiled.

"You have kindled something in my heart, you have nothing and yet you gave it on the word of a stranger for nothing more than a song. You trusted me."

"But you said... you said I would be paid in full?"

"And so you shall, so shall you all!" Piper spilled the bag on the snowy ground to the protest of the farmer. From the inner pockets of his long jacket he produced a long pipe and, upon wetting the wood with his tongue, began to play.

The first note was like the dawning of spring, a warm gust of sound that stirred hope inside the old farmer. More followed, and the blizzard hesitated, trying to decide if it was correct in blowing snow into a place where such a song existed. More notes came, and they layered impossibly so it sounded like more than just one man playing the flute, but choirs of beautiful singers creating a music beyond imagination. Slowly the song progressed from the earliest of spring moments into a time when the plants would bud and the new seeds would put down their roots.

The peasants and beggers came, drawn out of their misery to the music and, upon gazing at Piper, they could not beleive their eyes. Snow blew around him, but did not touch him. The air had grown warm, not a lull in the storm but an absolute absence of it. The song had brought spring to that place in the town, the snow had melted away and, before the unbeleiving eyes of the villagers, the seeds spilt on the earth had began to sprout.

Sprouts of grain threw down their roots and grew tall and lush in that moment of spring. The music turned to a summer rain and the plants were nourished. As the beggers watched, more people came, merchants and business men and guards from their posts at the wall. They saw the grain stalks grow into a sheaf, and thicken, twisting themselves around each other until the stalks were like the truck of a tree. The magic of the song made the grain grow taller, far taller then any normal grain, with golden branches and silver leaves, spreading out over the heads of the crowd. A dark fruit hung heavy on the branches, dipping them low.

Piper's fingers slowed on the pipe, the music wound down until the chorus had left and it was just him playing, a simple traveler and a pipe. And then the music was gone, the crowd left blinking in the special silence of after music and winter storm. For a moment they almost beleived it hadn't happened, but there the tree stood, untouched by the storm and heavy with food. A guard pushed past the crowd.

"I claim this tree in the name of the Lord Merchant!" He exclaimed and moved forward to grab the produce. His hand stopped inches from any branches and though he strained he could not force his hand closer. Cursing he drew his sword and swung hard, the blade stopping short with enough force to jar the man backwards.

"What manner of magic is this?"

"Its a beggers tree, it only feeds those that need it, those that deserve it." Piper said. He put the pipe back into the folds of his coat and picked a fruit off the tree. The farmer stepped up and reached his hand forward, picking a fruit and gingerly trying it. His face brightened.

"Its good!" He yelled, and threw his head back laughing, "come and try it! It is good!"

The beggers came and the peasants came. Any who were deserving ate their fill and there was still more. Those undeserving could not reach the tree, and the fruit they stole turned to ashe in their mouths. The beggers of the street rejoiced, singing praise to the myseterios stranger and exclaiming to those that had just arrived the miracle they had witnessed.

"He played a song, thats it! And the tree grew where the storm parted!"

"You're daft! That was more than a song, that was powerful magic, of the likes I've not seen, nor heard!"

"It was a miracle! A miracle! Where is he? Thanks to you stranger, where is he?"

The people looked but Piper had left, moving on like gust of wind in the storm. Looking back from the road on the town and hearing the noise he smiled. Slowly he tugged off the glove that covered his hand and gazed at the glowing marks there. Two of the sun's beams were glowing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tales of Sorrow...

The door bell rung, a heavy dong that resounded the whole of the room. It was a Stone pub, built heavy with large things, tables chairs and walls all over built. The door bell was no exception.

"Leave guns and stuff with me, no trouble wanted here. No trouble wanted." The towering Stone gaurd rumbled. He hardly bothered to glance at the lean man who had arrived from of the flurries outside.

"I'm unarmed." the man said simply. The Stone guard shifted its gaze slowly, like a mountin moving. Bits of grey living pebble crumbled at his neck joint where the winter wind had patterned frost. White eyes regaurding the man whose only defining feature was a stock of redish brown hair pushing past scarves and the tall collar of his jacket. Dark tinted snow goggles hid the rest of his face. He was ageless

"You travel out there with no guns? Nothing sharp? I no believe you. Give them over, no trouble wanted here." The Stone rummbled again. His wieght had started to shift, massive gey boulder hands reaching out to grasp the man if needed.

"No guns... but I have this..." The man pulled a thick glove from his hand and held the hand up. A glyph in the shape of a sun glowed softly on his hand and the air around him turned warmer. Only one of the glyph's sunbeams glowed like the core, though, making the marking lopsided "I can't give you my hand, its attached."

"I can unattach anything." The rock hands kept advancing. There wasn't a smile on the cold face.

"I doubt anything." The man said. It wasn't a threat, it lacked the tone and any air of malicious intent. Still, the heavy man's hands stopped.

"You no make trouble?" He rummbled.

"I'm hungry and wet, I don't need trouble."

"How do I know?"

The man paused. "I swear by Kalas, our Dead King." The man spoke slowly. His words carried wieght, causing more in the tavern to look than when the door bell had rung.

The Stone turned slowly "Mistress?"

A woman dressed in fur cloaks and a ring of beads strung in her white streaked hair approached. She was younger than most in the place, but heads nodded an acknowledgement of authority as she passed by. Her eyes held fire and her the sort of beauty that can be found in chisled statues of heathen goddesses.

"You swear by a dead king? what kind of promise is that. Why would such a man as yourself hold your word to that?"

He started to speak but she raised her hand.

"I know more than you think, I see more than you see. Your aura is filled with pain, your power is more than mine. If you willed it this house would be in ruins. But I also see a calm mind, and a weary traveller. You may stay, so long as you wear my mark."

"I gave my word on Kanas..."

"You are far from that broken kingdom, a name of a Dead King carries little wieght here."

"So be it..."

The woman extended her hand, looped in beads. Each bead was written a mark of power. At her touch blue light blazed from the man's forehead, then his eyes and then his mouth. In an instant he fell to the floor of the tavern, a yelp of pain escaped his lips.

"Kanas was a fool!" the woman snarled, pacing around the man in agony. "Did you think your name had not reached here? Did you think someone of your stature would not be looked for? Jonas looks for you, and punish all who get in his way. We will deliver you, so I think he will shower us with gold, is that not right? Man of Sorrows?"

The man writhed, but then the light dimmed, the mark on his forehead squirmed like a living worm. All the while the heat in the room rose until waves rippled around the man. His shouts of pain became something else, words of struggle muttered in the forgotten langages of Inferno and Suns. The woman looked on unbeleiving.

"No! This is my house! My power will not be undone under My roof!"

"This house is... undone!"

The Stone's did not move fast enough, the mark on his forehead shattered and the man rose off the ground in a pillar of fire.

"If Jonas comes, tell him I look still, I will always look. His power will never stop me!" His eyes were light and the voice that emitted shook the tables of the Stone tavern. "As for you, you who tried to bridle me, you shall wear my mark. Piper Sorrow says so."

The woman was powerless to stop the advancing finger, frozen in fear. The mark seared into bear hand and each bead she wore melted into smoke and ash. The fire dwindled, the man left and the woman remained, broken.
Well as my Creatures stories are hodge podge at best and the most I've blogged lately has mostly been structural (planning, story boards, character design and plot line sculpting) work for 1001, I don't really have much in the way of content. So I've been reading a few other writer blogs, seeing what works in this super short medium and what obviously doesn't. I'm used to detail, twists and turns and though my skill be great(hah!) it is a small petty, thing beside the greatness of my peers, whom tower over us all in their grasp of english and story telling.

So here's what works, I think, and this is what I'll try. Episodes. One constant character in certain situations. The setting will be the creatures universe, and you can rest assured that all the common monsters will be present. Gobs and cans and leafs and drops will all be present in their own ways as our main character strives through situations, a hero beyond imagining. haha should be fun, I'll post soon about this character but for now I will leave you a name: Piper Sorrow. Though he is known by many other names...