Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little... Pancake?

I don't often post about my personal life, but I decided that this was too cute and funny not to share.  My daughter, who is now 5, likes me to sing "silly songs" at night for bedtime.  Her favorite song is "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Pancake", though sometimes she suggests different objects for me to sing about.  For example, Benny (her brother), Daddy, Teddy, Miss Fishy (her fish, who is a boy, btw), etc.

Here are the lyrics for "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Pancake":
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Pancake
How many can that little man make?
Up above the plate so high
With some syrup in the sky
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Pancake
How many can that little man make?

This song often starts a short discussion about how many the man can actually make.  Most of the time the answer is 10,000; which he sometimes shares with his friends, unless they are dead or he wants to eat them all himself.  When he does eat 10,000 pancakes himself, he will explode, of course.  That many pancakes is too many for one person to eat, obviously.

Just a few of the 10,000 pancakes.
These discussions are very fun and show her creative and storytelling side.  They remind me of "Written By A Kid".  I can imagine the man making 10,000 pancakes and getting ready to deliver them to his friends to either find them dead, or to decide to eat them all himself and explode.  Sometimes her stories vary wildly, too.  He once fed them all to everyone in town, another time he fed them to all the animals.

Her creativity and ability to tell a story about what she's thinking about make me one proud daddy.  I can't wait to see what she's going to come up with next.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Story: The Day the Saucers Came

This is another of Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges.  I hope that you enjoy it!


Everyone else remembers it as the day the saucers came, but I remember it as the day a man in a suit shot my father.  First, let me back up a couple of days.  It all started Friday afternoon.  My mother was in the kitchen and I was in the living room, reading.  My father came in the front door and I heard him cuss.  This was surprising to me, since he rarely swore.  I looked over and saw a large bird fly into the house through the open door.  My cat, Onyx, jumped off of my lap and started jumping at the bird, trying to catch it.  She chased the bird into the kitchen and I hear several crashing noises, coupled with the shouts of my mother.

I jumped up and ran into the kitchen to see a lot of shattered glass on the floor.  Onyx was on top of the bird, laying amongst the ruined dishes.  I grabbed a nearby kitchen towel and stole Onyx's prize from her.  The bird was badly injured and I carried it towards the front door.  My father saw me coming and said, "Darn bird.  Startled the heck out of me."

I could tell that he was making an effort not to cuss now, which put a smirk on my face.  The smirk faded as I said, "I don't think that the bird is going to make it, Dad.  Can you take care of it?"

He nodded and took the towel from me.  He opened it up a little and I heard him cuss again, under his breath.  "What's wrong now?" I asked.

"This is one of Mr. Trundel's racing pigeons," he said.  "He's not going to be happy about this.  Well, he's out of town until Monday.  I'll leave him a note."

My father left with the towel and bird and I went to go help my mother clean up the mess my cat had made.  She had already broken out the broom and dustpan.  I took them from her with an apologetic smile.  I swept up the broken dishes and tossed the bits into the trash can.  It was full, so I took the trash out.

The rest of that day and the weekend went by without any further incident and I'd totally forgotten about it all until Monday.  That morning was similarly uneventful, and it wasn't until after my father got home from work that things got interesting again.

The excitement started when the UPS man came to the door.  I answered it and signed for the medium sized box he delivered.  The box had my mom's name on it, so I called up the stairs for her.  She was in the kitchen, so I brought her the box.  She was so excited for what was in the box that she called out to my father who was changing into casual clothes after work.

"Simon, they've arrived!  The saucers have come!" she yelled down the hall towards their bedroom.

I rolled my eyes.  At that age, I didn't understand how a little thing like teacup saucers could make someone so happy.  Another knock came at the door, so I went back down to the entry way to answer it.

It was Mr. Trundel, our neighbor, standing on the other side of the door this time.  He must have just gotten home from work, too, as he was wearing a very nice tailored suit.  I knew that he was a business man of some sort.  "Is your father home?" he asked.

I nodded and said, "I'll go let him know you're here."

I ran up the stairs two at a time, as was my habit when I was younger.  My father was in the kitchen with my mother, who was unboxing her saucers.  "Mr. Trundel is here, Dad.  He's waiting at the front door."

My father nodded and walked out of the kitchen.  My mother said, "These are replacements for the saucers that your cat broke a few days ago."

Suddenly, I felt a strong surge of anxiety.  "Oh, no, that's the day that Onyx killed one of Mr. Trundel's birds!"

I heard a funny popping sound coming from the entry way.  I ran to the top of the stairs and saw Mr. Trundel lowering a peculiar looking gun.  I looked in horror at my father who appeared to be covered with strange blue and green spots.  It took me a moment to realize that the gun had been a paintball gun.  "That's for Frenchy," Mr. Trundel said.  Without another word, he turned and walked back towards his house.

My dad turned to me and we both started laughing uncontrollably.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Story: Star Trek: Spock's Dream

It's been a while since I posted anything here, so I figured it was time to post a story that I've been working on for a while.  It's my first attempt at the Star Trek universe (that I'm willing to share, anyway).  I hope you enjoy it!  I will tell you that it is in the "Alternate Timeline" that started with the most recent Star Trek movie, maybe a month or two after the end of the movie.


"Ambassador Spock, you are the most troublesome Vulcan that I've ever had the pleasure of working with," Admiral Pike said to the aging Vulcan standing in front of his desk.  "Why do you insist on doing your own thing when the Federation is doing what's best for what remains of your people?"

"With all due respect, Admiral, I feel that I am acting in the best interests of my people and the Federation.  Unification of my people with the Romulan people has long been a dream of mine, shared with many Romulans and Vulcans," Spock responded.  "Meeting with them to discuss this isn't violating any laws, oaths or orders."

Pike sighed.  The Vulcan from a future that would never happen was undoubtedly a great asset to the Federation, though he was also turning out to be hard to keep reigned in.  "From your debriefing after the Nero incident, you gave us a pretty detailed 'history' of the Federation that was supposed to happen.  You told us that we would eventually ally ourselves with the Klingons, not the Romulans.  In light of our weakened state, we're actively working on forging this alliance right now."

It was Spock's turn to sigh, which surprised Pike.  He said, "Admiral, that alliance wouldn't happen for roughly thirty-five Earth years from now.  The situations of both the Klingon Empire and the Federation were very different than they are now.  They were motivated in that timeline by internal and external forces that simply do not apply now and will not likely develop in this timeline."

"You'll remember that the Klingons experienced significant losses during the Nero incident as well, Ambassador," Pike replied.  "Since they are weakened as well, we're hoping that they will be open to these talks."

Spock shook his head, and said, "Admiral, I have personally known many Klingons and worked closely with their people for many years.  At this point in their history, they are not going to be open to negotiations.  It is far more likely that they have already replaced most of the lost ships and are building up extra forces.  Their purpose in coming to the negotiating table is to appear weakened so that when they strike, it will be from a position of complete advantage and surprise."

Pike grimaced, realizing that what Spock said was also a quite likely scenario.  "What about your Romulan friends, then, Spock?  We've had several reports of incursions into the Neutral Zone over the past few weeks."

"They are doing what Romulans of this era do best, Admiral," Spock said.  "They are testing us, provoking us, and spying on us.  They have no real interest in expansion into Federation territory.  They are still quite isolationist, but in the timeline that I come from, they would soon have a short lived alliance with the Klingons.  I was hoping that an alliance could be forged with the Federation, instead."

Pike checked his notes on Spock's debriefing and said, "Yes, it looks like that alliance gave the Klingons the cloaking device and the Romulans some territory and many starship designs and prototypes."

Spock nodded, "The Federation never really knew the terms of the alliance, but it was clear that it benefited both sides greatly.  If we could negotiate similar terms, the Federation might be put on equal footing with our currently hostile neighbors instead of giving the Klingons yet another advantage."

"Yes, the Breen, Cardassians, Chalnoth, Gorn, Tholians, among others have been raiding our borders ever since the incident.  We've begun rebuilding the fleet, but these things take time and I'm afraid that we don't have enough of it."  Pike looked up at Spock, his jaw clenched.  "At this time, I can't authorize you to continue your negotiations.  However, I am not restricting your movements either.  Do you understand?"

A thin smile showed on Spock's lips.  Pike was again surprised by any expression on a Vulcan's face.  "Of course, I understand, Admiral.  I am also quite familiar with the human ability to, 'bend the rules'."

A smile showed on Pike's face after the Vulcan turned his back to him.  He watched Spock leave his office, then said, "Bend the rules."  Chuckling, he picked up his communicator and dialed in a particular frequency, then said, "Victor Delta Foxtrot."  He then put the communicator down and went back to his normal work routine.

In orbit around Earth, a small Vulcan craft named Surak was preparing to leave orbit.  The ship housed twenty-four young Vulcans who, before the Nero incident, had been living on Romulus keeping the hope of reunification of the two races alive.  "We have unofficial permission to continue with our mission," Spock announced when he arrived on the command deck.

Tal'dek, the oldest of the other Vulcans, seated in the pilot's seat, said, "Unofficial permission?  This is a curious phrase."

Spock sat in the captain's chair and said, "One thing that you will all learn about humans is that although they like to make rules, they also have the knack of knowing when the rules need to be broken."

Tal'dek shook his head and said, "Curious.  Our course is to Romulus, then?"

Spock replied, "Yes, as fast as this ship can take us."

Surak left Earth's orbit and passed by the planet's moon.  As it passed, a ship, painted black and without any markings or light emitting from its surface, left orbit of the satellite and followed the Vulcan ship.  Both ships jumped into warp.

Several hours later, aboard the Surak, Tal'dek took not of the readings on his tactical display.  He said, "Spock, there are four vessels on an intercept course with us."

"Are they in visual range?" Spock asked.

Tal'dek shook his head.  "No, but they are coming from the direction of Klingon space.  Their energy signatures do not match any Klingon design we have on record, but neither do they match any Federation vessel or typical Romulan signatures."

"Let's go to yellow alert, raise our shields and hail them," Spock replied without any hesitation.

Tal'dek keyed in the commands.  A few moments later, he replied, "We are not receiving any response."

"Send our status back to the nearest Federation outpost and forward to the Romulan Star Empire," Spock said.  "We shall also go to red alert and arm our weapons.  Prepare for battle."

Four sleek ships, in formation, approached the small vessel and the lead vessel fired two warning shots at Surak.  Tal'dek said, "They claim to be from the Klingon Empire.  They are demanding our immediate and unconditional surrender.  They have mentioned you by name, Spock."

Spock was silent for a moment, then said, "The only logical course of action is to surrender.  All stop, but keep our weapons and shields at the ready."

The five vessels came out of warp.  The four Klingon vessels remained in formation in front of Surak.  Tal'dek's console beeped at him and he said, "I'm picking up some weapons fire coming from behind the four vessels, but there doesn't seem to be a ship there."

The black vessel that had followed Surak from Earth opened fire on the Klingon vessels from behind them.  It scored several hits on the lead vessel with both phasers and photon torpedoes.  The Klingons' formation quickly dispersed and they circled back to where the weapons fire originated from.  The black vessel, from a different location entirely, fired on the lead vessel again, disabling its engines.  Tel'dak relayed this information to Spock who ordered Surak to join in the fight.

The three remaining Klingon vessels formed a new, loose formation that gave them weapons coverage of much of the space around them, but the black vessel was more agile and kept slipping into and out of the Klingons' blindspots.  It fired repeatedly at the Klingons from locations in the shifting blindspots.  Soon, with the aid of Surak, the shields were disabled on two of the remaining Klingon vessels and the weapons of the third were offline.

Spock ordered Surak to warp, the Klingons did not give pursuit.  Spock said, "Hail the hidden vessel."

Tel'dak did so and said, "They are responding with audio only."

Spock nodded and said, "Unidentified vessel, thank you for your assistance.  I would ask you to identify yourselves."

"I would prefer to keep that information to myself, Ambassador Spock," came the reply.  "You may call me Captain Romulus.  We had hoped that you wouldn't need our assistance, but we couldn't stand by and let you be captured by the Klingon Empire."

"I must ask you, Captain Romulus, do you plan to follow us all the way to Romulus?" Spock asked.

"I must refrain from answering that at this time, Ambassador.  Just know that we are here to help troublesome Vulcans in the event that any plans become unraveled."

Spock smiled and immediately knew who sent these mysterious strangers.  "Very well," he said.  "We will not look for you except in our time of need."

Tal'dek said, "They have cut the transmission, Spock.  Likely because we have entered the Neutral Zone."