Friday, October 21, 2011

Pockett Updates...

Our sister site,, has updated, with an all-new, all-digital story arc! Above is a behind the scenes, un-rendered look at what Pockett Digital really is....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Summer Stories-- How the Dog Died

Before I begin this tale, allow me to assure you that, as of the time of this writing, the dog in question is not in fact dead, though he has an ear infection that smells rather odd. Rather, the title of this story finds its genesis in a quip I made following the events herein....
Following our first broiling night sleeping in the wilds of Oklahoma, the family decided that it was not for us to carry on camping in the midst of a drought. We decided therefor to venture forth and try to find something fun to do that day on our way home. Alas, we found no interest that day. Instead, we found a motel where we could put up for the night, and whiled the day away watching television and lounging in the pool.
The next day we ventured forth once more and lo, we did find something fun to do that day... But that is a story for another time; this story is of our adventures on the road.
We had been on the highway for some time, and decided to pull off for refreshment. We found a fast food restaurant and stopped in for a quick bite to eat. Upon exiting, we were faced with a tent, set up to attract weary vacationers much like ourselves. And what should we weary vacationers find in this tent?
Why, tigers of course.
Four colossal kittens, lounging in undersized pools in the safety of cages. They belonged to a nearby animal reserve that was, quite sadly, a bit too far out of our way for comfort. For now, they were here to promote the reserve; for quite some bit of money, you could enter the cage, pet them, and have your picture taken. A tempting offer, to be sure, but not tempting enough for us to waste our vacation budget. Not that we couldn't look at the majestic creatures for free.
And look we did. We saw them play and splash, yawn and stretch. Honestly, much to much like a normal cat for comfort. Eventually, though, it came to an end, and we had to leave our feline friends behind.
Which was when we noticed the dog was missing.
He had gotten out of the car with us, had wondered across the grassy hill outside the tent. But now... he was gone....
That's when the man running the tent found him. While we were all busy looking at the large cats, our small dog had wondered off into the tent and had lain down next to one of the cages, alone with an infant tent times his size.
We quickly retrieved him, said our fairwells to the man and his tigers, and got into our van, ready for our next adventure.
As we drove away, I came upon the title for my theoretical, maybe-someday memoirs: How the Dog Died. Nonsensical, to be sure, but it has a certain ring to it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer Stories-- Surreality

Continuing my series of... no, wait, this isn't a continuation. This is a bit of a throwback, a long ago something that has come to mind, but can't really be counted as part of the strange tale of last summer. But yes, it is a story, and it happened in the summer, and so the moniker stands.
This is the story of the most utterly surreal event to ever happen to me thus far. Will it remain the most surreal? I certainly hope not.
The time was July of 2008. I was fresh out of high school, ready to go out and explore the world, yearning for adventure. I found myself in, of all places, a shoe store. Exciting! Ah, I can tell there is doubt at this last statement. A shoe store, exciting? Why yes. For a naive young American, any location in the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel was most exciting.
I had been in the ancient city for a scant few days, perhaps as little as one, and my feet were hurting, as they were wont to due. In desperate need of relief, my godmother and momentary guardian brought me to a little store on the edges of the Old City. It was here that I did what any right-minded person in need of comfort but content with their shoes would do: I tried on insoles.
That's when it happened. Another customer came in, sat down next to me and, as customers are wont to do, began to try on shoes. So there I was, a naive young American, trying on insoles, sitting next to another customer-- a costumer dressed head-to-toe in black fatigues, sporting pieces of bullet-proof armor, web-gear, etc., etc. But so what? I've gone into stores dressed far more strangely than that (a particular point of interest was the 'robe in the Subway' incident. Ah, good times). I have not, however, entered into a store bearing an assault rifle on my back.
So there I was, a naive young American, trying on insoles, sitting next to a battle-hardened member of the Israeli Defense Force, decked out in full commando gear... and trying on shoes.
Surreal, indeed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Summer Stories-- The Raccoon of Doom

Near the end of summer, we decided to go camping. The trip had been planned for months, and seemed like a good idea when we planned it. But when the time came, the state was suffering from a severe drought, and the once lush dreamland we intended to visit was reduced to a few buckets of brackish water.
So we arrived, late in the day, and kind of mucked about until it was time to sleep. By this time, we had already decided to leave the next day. However, we were adamant that we would stay for one night.
That night we camped, good and hard. My parents and sister slept in the van, and my brother, cousin, and I slept in the tent. In theory.
The night was freakishly hot, as Oklahoma in a drought is wont to be. I opted to sleep out under the stars, to try to remain cool. It was difficult, but eventually I slept.
Later that night I was awoken by the frenzied whispering of my cousin. "Hey! Go away! Hey! Go!"
I rolled over and told him, in a polite and loving manner, to shut up.
It was then that he revealed the reason for this whispering-- a raccoon was snuffling around outside on the edges of camp.
I rolled back and beheld the beast, lit by the purplish LED of a flashlight, a -snufflin' and a -shufflin'. I watched for a few minutes, observing the creature's blatant disregard of my cousin's injunction to flee.
Finally, desiring sleep and a respite from the threat of rabies, I took matters into my own hand.
Popping up from the sleeping bag, I hissed at the sucker and, wouldn't you know it, the critter done ran.
And that was the last we saw of the Raccoon of Doom....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Stories-- Petunia in the Sky...

As summer draws to a close, I think back to all the craziness that happened. Some was good, some was bad... and some was just plain strange. A few events really stand out to me, though, little anecdotes that are amusing, if not particularly topical.
One such event is the death and eventual funeral of my rat, Petunia. One weekend early in the summer it came time for me to change the litter in my rat's cage. Now, this was a thankless chore, and I didn't want to do it. So I argued with my mother, explaining that doing the job was pointless, as Petunia--an elderly rat--was likely to soon die. Mother insisted, and so I spent the next hour in the sun, slaving away over a pile of hot wood chips.
The next day, sunday, I was in my room when I saw little Petunia, lying on her back, suddenly stretch, writhe, and roll about. I feared the worst. But she was okay. So I continued on with what I was doing:
Later that night I was preparing for bed, long after everyone had faded into the night, when I looked into the freshly cleaned cage and saw, to my grave disappointment, that Petunia had shuffled loose this mortal coil. I was at once sad--my rat was dead--at once relieved--her death had been a constant shadow hover above--and at once really ticked off--I had just cleaned her cage!
I left my room and tried to tell Mom, but she was asleep. I went and found my brother and cousin, informed them of the bad news, and invited them back to my room for a ratty farewell...
We said some words, took some pictures, then I put Petunia, along with her personal little hidey-box, into a plastic bag and then onto the outgoing trashcan.
And thus, she was gone.
In retrospect, that doesn't sound like a very funny story, but at the time it was late, we were tired yet slightly giddy, and we had fun saying goodbye to little Petunia. So we say again...
Goodbye, Tuners. Goodbye.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tales Script...

Well, due to the difficulty of posting documents on Facebook, I've decided to post the script for the pilot episode of "Tales from the Forgotten Wastes." I don't think ther're any spoilers, but read with caution!

Ralph- GM
Carl- Thendorr the Impenetrable—Barbarian
Sal- Brillock the Wise—Mage
Vanessa- Shendara—Thief

Scene one: Exterior, day. This is not the real world. It is a poorly computer-animated prairie, with a mountain in the background. Three characters appear: A hugely muscled Barbarian, a scantily-clad Thief, and a Mage in brilliant robes.

VO: In the Realms of Neldak, chaos reigns supreme. The only thing keeping the chaos at bay is a group of daring adventurers. But who are these adventurers, and how do they keep their world from ending?

The scene slowly zooms out to reveal that the animated portion is on a TV screen.

VO: YOU decide! Create your characters, set your campaign, and save the realms! When you’re done, submit your campaign, and YOU could win a chance to have your campaign turned into an official module, and YOU can come to work for our design team, designing insane new adventures for players the world over!

A logo displays on screen, followed by copy.

VO: The Realms of Neldak! An official campaign setting for Gaols and Goblins, a product of Warlocks of the Shore, a division of Hirschbros.!

Cut to interior of Ralph’s room. It is a nerd den. He is staring slack-jawed at the screen.

Ralph: I can do this…

He begins to type.

We see four characters, all in their rooms: Sal, in a fairly normal room with signs of nerdiness; he is playing a ‘90s style hard-core CRPG. Vanessa, in a rather girly room, is playing a cross between a JRPG and a visual novel. There is little action, and a lot of story. Carl is in a cool/jock room, playing a Halo rip-off. Lastly, Ralph is using a variety of programs to build a campaign. This will go on for a while, alternating between all four. At some point, Ralph will finish, dial a phone, then the montage will switch to the others, getting calls. They all then get ready to leave; not sure what will happen yet, but it should reveal some of their personalities. The final shot will be of Ralph, looking forlornly at the ad for “The Realms of Neldak” right before he sighs, flips off a light, and the screen goes black.

Scene 3: interior, daytime, Ralph’s dining room. Everyone but Ralph is sitting around the table, staring at a large sheet with something under it.

Ralph enters, carrying a plethora of gaming materials. He sits.

Ralph: Okay, so here we are gathered; let’s begin, shall we?

Van: Um, no. First I want to know why we’re here.

Carl: Yeah.

R: What do you mean, ‘why we’re here?’

V: I mean, why did you call us to come here? You said there was going to be a party and fun games; I see neither.

R: No, I believe what I said was that I wanted you to join a game, it would be fun, and it would be like a party.

C: Okay, I’ll buy that. But where’s the game?

Sal: Obviously under the sheet.

R: Thank you.

S: And based on what I believe the game to be, I have to mirror Vanessa question: Why are we here?

R: Okay, well… I thought it might be fun to get to know some people at school a little better, and it said on your Mugtomes that you all liked gaming, so I thought you might be interested in joining me.

S: So where’s your usual group?

R: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

V: Me neither; I’m leaving.

She gets up to leave. Ralph reaches out to her.

R: No, no, please… please stay.

V: No, I really think I’ll leave; I’m almost done with Dream Fantasy 7.

R: No, no, no, no… See, that’s what I mean! You like games, games that vaguely involve role-playing!

During this exchange, C and S roll their eyes.

V (sighs): You’ve got ten minutes.

She sits.

R: Okay, well, I don’t know how many of you have heard of Gaols and—

S: My question still stands.

C: What was it again?

R: Okay, look; they’re gone, alright? Some moved away, one went to college, one went to a new church were they think RPG’s are Satan’s playthings, alright?

S: So we’re not your first choice for this; we’re your desperation squid.

R: Don’t you mean squad?

S: Said squid, meant squid.

R: Yeah… Anyway, that’s not true; I’ve already explained, I know you all like gaming—

S: You just couldn’t get anyone to play your little campaign.

R: Well, if what they guys down at Mini-World say is true, you don’t have much experience in being invited to games!

There is silence; Sal looks hurt.

V: Nine minutes.

R: I’m sorry, okay? Look can we just start?

C: No, this is hilarious.

More silence.

S: Yeah…

R: Okay! Yes, we start!

He pulls back a corner of the cloth, showing a model of a small room with some crude tables and figures. He then passes out the character sheets.

R: Alright, I’m going to start you out on this just a little bit controlling, just to get the story started, then I’ll set you free. Okay. Okay… On the back of your Character sheets, you’ll find some background information and some conversation starters. When I give you the signal, go around, introduce yourselves, and start talking.

Carl raises his hand.

R: Yeas, Carl.

C: Yeah, um… when do we kill things?

R: What?

V: Eight…

C: I know a little about G&G. You just go and kill monsters, right?

S (snorts): typical.

R: Um, no… killing is actually only a small part of the action. The real game is a free-flowing, spontaneous story-telling experience that—

V: Seven

R: Starts in a tavern on a stormy night!

Scene Four: Interior, night. A dark and murky Tavern. We get a shot-for-shot recreation of the Cantina scene, complete with fantasy-appropriate music. Cut to a door. The door opens and three ragged travelers enter. One is a wizard, wearing a long robe; the other a thief in light armor and cape. The third is a hulking barbarian in furs with lots of weapons. They walk to a table and sit down.

A bartender, clearly Ralph in costume, walks up.

R: And how are all of you this fine evening? Beast of a storm out there, dreadful terrible. I’m the owner of this here Inn, and I like to know all them that stays here. Can I get you’re names then, maybe a bit about what you do?

V: There’s not much to say about me sir, I’m just a person about, as you might say. Shendara’s the name; I like to do me a bit of odd work.

S: Yes, the less said the better. I’m Brillock, some call me the wise, wizard extraordinaire!

C: Name: Thenddor the impenetrable, Class: Barbarian. Level, One.

R: Right… So, can I get you all anything to drink?

C: Vodka!

R: (sighing) I’m sorry, good sir, but I don’t think you should have—

C: Hey man, this is a story that we make up, right? I say vodka.

R: No, this is a story that—(snorts in frustration) You know what? Why don’t you check your menus, eh?

He points to the character sheets, which have followed the characters into the tavern.

V: Whoa. It’s got recommended drinks for us? You’re thorough.

R: (shrugs) what you choose to drink says a lot about your character. The recommendations tell you where you start out, but what you choose is the first step towards character customization.

V: Hmmm… I’ll take the cider then, and mix it with the hard liquor from my hip flask.

R: Ah, you found the inventory; excellent. (turns to Sal/Brillock) and you, oh venerable one?

S: I think I’ll have… The Vodka.

C: Hey, whoa, no! How come he gets Vodka?

R: Because his character class is the type that might find Vodka agreeable.

C: Well, I do to!

V: It doesn’t matter what you like, it’s about what your character likes. It’s called a roll-playing game; you play rolls.

C: Well, I play the roll of an ax-happy barbarian! Hragh!

He jumps up, spilling the table and producing an ax. He quickly kills Brillock and Veronica’s character, then sets to work on the patrons.

Cut back to the real world. Ralph slams his hand down on a pile of dice in front of Carl and takes them back to himself, then glares at Carl.

R: Okay, we haven’t actually started yet, so I’ll pretend that didn’t happen.

C: Aww…

Back in game. Try to get a direct correlation to above shot.

C: So what can I have?

R: Read.

C: Mead.

R: Very good. Now, I’ll go get your orders, and you three just relax yourselves here. You look like you’ve had a hard journey. Am I right?

V: Oh, yes. We’ve been traveling along the road from the great city of Zwick, trying to get away from the pogroms committed by the king’s men. It’s been a hard time for all who live on the fringes of society…

R: Oh, it’s always hard on the fringes… But I’ve heard tell that it isn’t the king who’s doing this…

S: Oh, yes, the rumors that the king’s been killed. I’ve heard that—But no, I don’t trust you enough yet.

R: How’s about a free drink?

S: Well… it’s said that the princess’s future husband may be trying to seize the kingdom a bit early, as it’were.

They all look at Carl, who is adding a moustache to his character sheet. He looks up with a moustache of his own.

C: What?

V: You’re next.

C: Next at what?
V: At the script! We’re trying to get through this first little encounter so we can get of into the game!

C: Oh, right, right. Mmmm… oh. (Clearly reads the following) Heard Rumors- Princess’s husband power mad? King dead? Princess exiled or worse? Lie. We are getting away to be safe from reign of terror. Are really joining rebels. If success, Ex-Pee plus 20.

There’s no sound for a while.

R: Right… I’ll just go get your drinks, then.

He leaves.

V: Wow, Carl, I don’t think he believed you.

C: Believed me about what?

S: Wow. I thought it was just an act at first, but I think maybe you really are that stupid. He’s probably going to get the guards right now.

C: Hey, you never now, he might’ve believed me. I have the intimidate skill; it means people will believe me.

S: Not when you blatantly tell them things. You saw him! He didn’t even roll the dice! Instant loss!

R: (VO) please no mechanics in game, thank you!

V: Sorry. Anyway, I think we’re in trouble here. Rebels in places like these are never treated well by guards. Don’t trust anyone; they could be a spy. Especially anyone who asks specific questions about the royalty.

VMH: Did I just hear you talking about the royalty?

She appears behind them and frightens everyone.

V: No, no. Hah! Nothing about no royalty, never could abide them, let them keep themselves to themselves and all that!

S: What we say is of no importance to you, old woman. Leave us!

C: What’re you talking about guys? We were talking about the princess…

VMH: You lot better follow me; saw the innkeeper getting the guards, truly did. I can help you away and maybe… to find the rebels, eh?

They all three stare at her, then glance to the innkeeper who is whispering to a guard and pointing at them. Vanessa motions to the others, and they huddle.

V: It’s a trap. I don’t trust her; she reeks of secret-police.

S: No, she reeks of ham-handed plot progression.

V: Carl, what do you say?

He looks at the VMH, then at the guards coming towards them. Back to the VMH.

C: I say this vile mustachioed hag is a decoy to keep us distracted while the guards get us.

Repeat of earlier scene, although this time, he lops off the head of the VMH.

The guards attack, and they fight back.

R: as innkeeper: Wow, ten minutes into the campaign and you screw it up. I worked for over a month on this and you just screw it up.

S: Hah! I was right!

V: (While fighting guard): well, just say it didn’t happen!

R: No, I think I’m going to let you reap the rewards of your miss-deed.

V: Then I’ll just leave.

R: (crouching over the corpse of the VMH.) fine, I’ll try to fix it.

C: Hurry up! I’m running out of HP! Man, this barbarian sucks!

R: MM, okay. Brillock, you try to heal her.

S: Dang it, GM, I’m a wizard, not a doctor!

The guards close in on the little group, although the Innkeeper doesn’t seem to be interested in all this.

R: Well, I didn’t want to do this yet, but… Yeah, it’ll still work, plot-wise…

A figure in a dark cloak (seen in Cantina homage) suddenly leaps over the guards and proceeds to quickly kill them. He then leans over the hag and dribbles some magic potion of sorts on her. There’s a flash of light, and she’s whole. She’s also snoring. The cloaked figure nods, then stands up and removes it’s hood. It’s the GM.

S: Wow, a GM NPC who can save us all; what a surprise.

H: Well, you fools, do you think you can do any more damage? How do you expect to be of service to the princess when you’re dead?

V: (looting through the bodies of fallen guards): You speak, and act as if you’re a rebel.

H: (Smiling rakishly) Some have called me that, yes. I’m Hrothmeir, the werewolf. Hero, thief, lover, destroyer of all those I deem worthy of the honor. (The smile now disappears). Now hurry! The other patrons have probably alerted the city watch by now! If you’re serious about joining the rebels and helping the Princess, then you need to escape now! I can show you part of the way, at least.

C: No! We stay and fight!

S: (Using staff to cast spells over himself) Yeah, cause that worked so well last time.

V: Tell us, oh mighty werewolf, where is it we must go to help the princess?

H: Follow me, then, out the back door and away from the city!

C: Oh, wait, I saw something about this on the back. (He rummages under corpses until he finds his character sheet.) Okay, yeah: (Not as clearly read as before, but he’s definitely not fluid about adlibbing) We can’t go there… It’s not safe. There’s no civilization out that way for hundreds of miles…

All the characters stare at him in some amazement.

C: What?

V: You actually role-played; I’m impressed.

Brillock walks over and snatches the character sheet.

S: except you role-played a cowardly wizard.

H: It doesn’t matter; your friend is right, there is no civilization that way. Civilization is no friend to the rebels, and for the moment, it is no friend to you. (he walks to a small door and prepares to open it) For now, you must travel with me (he throws the door open, and screen fades to white) –into the forgotten wastes!

Screen fades to black.

S: It’s forgotten cause you forgot to build them, huh?

R: We were supposed to be in the tavern for another three gaming sessions…

© 2011 Hezekiah Bennetts

Saturday, June 25, 2011

E.H.U.D.: Part I: Chapter 1

30 Years From Now

Part I: Resurrection

Chapter 1

In the beginning, there was darkness. At least, that was the first thing he could remember. Other things slowly began to fill the void: the feel of concrete beneath him, the chill of the air around him, the distant shouts and cries of anguish as his soldiers fought on.
Through all of this, Allen stood waiting. He knew he should be out there helping them, swarming through the tunnels with the men and women devoted to his cause. Every few moments, he could feel their minds touching his, asking him why he didn’t help. But he couldn’t help, couldn’t answer. All he could do was wait.
That seemed to be what his life had been for the last… forever. Just waiting. To take action would bring consequences; he couldn’t afford consequences.
One particular mind called out of the darkness, a strong mind, the one he had chosen to replace him in the time to come. Where are you? There’s too many… we don’t have the strength…
Now. Now was the time to act. At this point, there were no consequences for his actions; everything he did now was set, was preordained. Was right. I’m coming…
Around him, minds suddenly fell quite. Active soldiers shut down, dropped from the war.
Allen? What are you doing?
There was no answer he could give that would satisfy the others. His boots thudded as he crossed the concrete expanse. Soon, he could feel a door in front of him, could feel it opening. Beyond the door stood a man, old yet muscular, his body standing erect in a military uniform even as his eyes stared unseeingly into the void.
Allen touched the man’s shoulder and smiled wistfully, even as the few remaining minds railed painfully against his. “It’s time, old friend…”

“And that’s when I wake up.” John Donalson was surprised at the sound of his own voice. Once again, he had been caught up with the strength of the vision, lost in its reality. He wondered how long it had been since he had begun to tell the story…
“What makes you think you’re awake now?” This voice didn’t surprise him. If anything, it had the opposite effect, pulling him down, soothing and smothering him in its rich, powerfully feminine tones.
He felt himself shrug. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“You still have your eyes closed.”
Eyelids split, and there was light. John found himself looking out at a blank world, a swirling void of colors and fog. Below him, there was no ground, above him no sky; there was only his body, bald and naked.
“And me; don’t forget me.”
Yes, of course. Floating close by was Suzanne, as bald and naked as he was. But whereas he looked like a skinned rat, she looked like a goddess, purple high-lights glinting off of her dark skin.
“Somehow, I don’t think this is anymore awake than before. At least in the dream, I had some frame of context.”
She gestured to the void. “This isn’t contextual enough for you?”
“No. I have no idea where I am, what I’m doing. And where are my clothes?”
Suzanne shrugged.
“And most importantly, who are you?”
She shrugged again. “How should I know? This is your mind; I didn’t choose to be here.”
The revelation hit John hard; around him, the swirling colors began to dim.
“Not that I wouldn’t choose to be here, given the choice.”
Well, that was better anyways.
They floated for a while longer, John contemplating the void around him and Suzanne… doing whatever it was that she did.
Suddenly, the colors began to shift, to grow more vibrant, to coalesce into recognizable shapes. At the same time, Suzanne began to fade.
“No! No, don’t go; I can’t make it without you!”
“You have to John.” Nothing remained now but a smile and the ghostly outline of her face. “Just live life without me.”
He reached out to touch her smile, but it was gone. “What do I do without you?”
“Try waking up…”

A woman’s voice, thin and slightly accented, sang over him. “Johnnn… Little Johnyyyy… Come to meeeee…. Come to mommyyyy….”
Eyelids split, and there was light. This time, there were few colors: pastel pinks, mint greens. The shapes the colors adorned were strong and well defined: glide rocker, dresser, Mother.
She hovered over him, alternately rubbing his face and rubbing the tears from her own. When she saw that his eyes were open, she smiled and held a hand to her mouth. “Oh, thank you, God. Thank you for returning him…”
The words passed around John. He stared up at his mother, trying to think of why she was here, where here was.
She looked so old.
“Gnnrthhh… Gh’gggg…” That wasn’t good.
“Shh, shhh… Don’t try to talk, not yet. The nurse will be here soon.”
That answered things. Little facts began to register: The little wires trailing from his sleeve, the industrial fluorescents overhead, the terrible buzzing that filled his head. God, what had happened?
The last thing he could remember was driving home from a meeting with some clients. He was on the road, he was full, he had had maybe one more drink than he should have-- Oh.
Well. That was why he was here, and where he was. But why did his mother look so old?
“Oh, John… Oh….”
Suddenly, it didn’t matter. The room was dull and warm, his mother was rubbing his face, and he was so tired…

A day later, John was sitting up in bed, his mother spoon-feeding him flavorless mush, his father dozing in the glide rocker.
He had had to reevaluate some of his earlier assumptions in the light of new evidence. For one thing, his body had changed; his once thin, nearly muscular build had been reduced to a point just shy of starvation, pale skin stretched tight over bone and gristle. For another, his father looked far older than he should; he had changed from a well-kept fifty-something into a broken-down sixty-something seemingly overnight. A drunken car accident didn’t cover this.
There was motion near the door, and John tried to turn and see it, dribbling porridge on his gown in the process.
“Oh, dear… Levi, get me another napkin. Levi! Wake up!”
A woman, slightly younger than his mother, entered the room and stood in front of John. She smiled, her mouth growing far too wide for her face.
“Hello, John. How are you feeling today? Good? If you can, please blink once for yes, twice for no.”
John blinked.
“Good, very good. Tell me, are you feeling well enough to talk?”
“Not right now, doctor. He’s tired, he needs to eat—“
“Please, Mrs. Donalson, let me do my job, thank you?”
Despite some grumbled complaints, John’s mother wiped his mouth and stepped aside so that he and the doctor were face-to-face.
“So, are you feeling up for a talk?”
John blinked.
The doctor nodded. “That is good, yes. My name is Doctor Chandra Shemuptura; I am a physical therapist, with quite some experience in trauma counseling. You know you are in a hospital, yes?”
John blinked.
“Now, what I am going to tell you is why you are here. Some of it may be a bit hard to take at first. If you find it is too much and wish to end our talk, please just blink as many times as you can, and I will return when you are feeling better. Agreed?”
John blinked.
“Good. It seems that you were having a meeting with business associates at a restaurant in Cherry Hill and on your way home you were involved in a very severe car accident. You were hit head-on by an army officer who was traveling the wrong way down the highway. Are you good so far?”
John blinked. So far, this all matched up nearly perfectly with his own assumptions. The only thing he hadn’t anticipated was that he wasn’t responsible for it.
“Would you like to continue?”
John didn’t blink. He held his eyes nearly closed, thinking. Based on what the doctor had said, the way she was preceding so cautiously, the change in himself and his parents, he knew the rest of the story wouldn’t be nearly as easy to swallow as the first. But at the same time, the little clues called out for him to solve them, to put this whole little mystery to rest. With a sense that he had somehow made the wrong decision, John firmly closed his eyes and opened them wide.
“EMTs arrived and took the two of you to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment; you were both rather bad off. And somehow, we’re still not sure how, at that point your identity was confused with that of the officer, Lieutenant Brian Udarian. In a rather cosmic coincidence, you two both had very similar facial structures, the same blood type, similar builds. What with the damage to your faces, no one could tell you apart, and fingerprints and dental records were rather…” The doctor paused, readjusted her glasses, cleared her throat. “Yes, so, you were confused for each other. Once stabilized you, under the name Brian Udarian, were transferred to the Walter-Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Before arrival, you fell into a coma. John Donalson, the man once known as Lieutenant Udarian, unfortunately never stabilized, and died some three hours after— “
The doctor stopped abruptly as John began to blink back tears; no wonder his parents looked so bad off. As far as they knew, he had been dead for… for however long this coma had lasted. They weren’t a painfully tight-knit family, but they were close enough, and the loss of a son, even temporarily, would have shaken his parents. Images of funerals, of nights spent crying with aunts or drinking with uncles flew through his mind. He was at once touched and horrified at what their reactions must have been to the news.
Someone- probably the doctor- patted his arm, and then he heard her say, “Goodbye for now, John. I will return when you are feeling better.”
No! No, the last thing he needed was to be left like this, with the story hanging! He had to know what happened. Now.
His parents could probably tell him some of it. But mother was still too choked up at his return, and father had never been a good story teller.
Opportunity faded with every dull click of shoe leather against tile as the doctor moved away.
With an effort, John turned towards her and tried to speak. “D-dctrrrr… Sssstttaaaaa….”
She turned, and walked back towards him, then disappeared as mother cradled his head and tried to move him back to a more comfortable position.
“Oh, John, please, no, don’t strain yourself.”
Hands appeared on her shoulders. She stiffened and continued to stare at her son.
“Levi, now is not the time—“
“Marge.” Father’s hands slid down and rested on Mother’s, then pulled them away from John. “Let the boy be. He’s been through a lot, and it looks like he wants to go through more. He’s back, he’s not going anywhere, so just let him make his own decisions right now.”
Mother’s eyes became hard, her mouth set; John knew that look. She knew what was best for her son, and wouldn’t let anything stop her from being a mother now. But something in father’s words must have gotten through, because she pulled back and let the doctor within her sphere of protection.
One of the doctor’s hands joined father’s on top of mother’s. “Mrs. Donalson, Mr. Donalson, why don’t you two wait outside while I finish with John?”
“Please, I think it will be for the best.”
They both left, with only token resistance on mother’s part.
The doctor flashed John a conspiratorial smile. “I think you can handle this better than anyone gives you credit for. The mind is incredibly capable of stretching itself. Now, where was I?”
John fought back the urge to try and remind her.
“Yes, you were in Walter Reed, confused for Lieutenant Udarian. There, I am afraid, you remained in a permanent vegetative state for some eight years.”
With great effort, John remained calm.
“After some time, however, the government felt that it was a wasted effort caring for you, as you were unlikely to recover, and called for a consultation with Udarian’s wife, who agreed that it was for the best that you be moved to a private facility.”
Where was this wife before? John silently demanded. Why didn’t she come and out me as an imposter before all of this?
Almost as if she had heard what John said, the doctor paused and backpedaled. “His wife, Naomi Udarian, was present on the first night of your hospitalization, and tentatively identified you as her husband. This was of course, before the reconstructive surgery; after that, she positively identified you as her husband.”
For the first time, John registered the complete lack of any kind of mirror in the room. He dreaded what would face him when he encountered one.
“Naomi visited you several times, but her work overseas prevented her from constant contact.” She paused and pushed her glasses back up her nose. “I’m sorry, I’m rambling. Are you still with me?”
John blinked.
“Excellent. Following the decision to move you to a private facility, your records were re-examined, and small discrepancies were found, enough so that your identity was called into question. It was then that Mrs. Udarian herself discovered the key to making a definitive identification, something that no one had thought of before. You see, Lieutenant Udarian was raised in a rather conservative Catholic household.”
John glanced quickly down at the blanket covering his body and then back up to the doctor.
She nodded. “It was certain that none of the medical staff had performed the operation, so…” She shrugged. “The only question left in my mind is how no one noticed Udarian’s differences when he was buried in your place.”
John tried to shrug, but the movement was awkward and caused a bit of pain. A sudden wave of tiredness washed over him, and he could feel his eyelids drooping.
The doctor noticed and gently patted his arm. “I won’t keep you much longer. I’ll just finish by saying that with your identity confirmed, your parents were contacted, and they immediately rushed to see you. It appears that there presence has been most beneficial, as you are with us now. Wouldn’t you agree?”
John tried to blink in acknowledgement, but after his eyes closed, he found it impossible to open them again.

When his eyes finally did open again, there was his mother, trying to feed him. The day continued, his mother feeding, his father occasionally talking. Several times a nurse came in to check on him, clean him.
Life continued like this for several days, endlessly monotonous. The only distraction came when Doctor Shemuptura visited, bringing with her pain in the form of exercises designed to help John regain muscle mass and control. Within a week he was able to feed himself with only minimal help from others.
The next month was occupied with daily trips to a small gym, in which John was subjected to hours of physical therapy, followed by time spent with in trauma counseling, followed by one or two hours with his parents, followed by sleep. And, in the rare case that he couldn’t sleep, television. Every morning John awoke half dreading his daily routine, half anticipating the advances he would make in his therapy sessions: first sitting up, then standing, then walking short distances. The progress came fast, as he didn’t need to re-learn the skills, merely work up the strength to perform them.
It was early in the month when John had his first encounter with a mirror. It was a small hand-mirror brought to one of the counseling sessions with Dr. Shemuptura.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that we’ve removed the mirrors from your room, and have always avoided them when taking you to the gym, yes?”
She reached inside a canvas bag and pulled out a paddle-shaped piece of green plastic. “I’ve wanted to keep your recovery as simple as possible, and wanted to keep stresses as few and far between as possible. I felt it best to keep your new face from you until you were in a more ready state to accept the change.”
John swallowed, unsure of how to interpret the doctor’s words.
“Oh, no,” she said, laying a reassuring hand on his forearm. “There is nothing wrong with this new face. It is just different from what you’re used to, perhaps a little hard to accept all at once.”
She slowly tilted the mirror until John could see his reflection. He had been prepared for a shock, but the face that he saw didn’t live up to the fears that he had built. There were a few differences: higher nose, thinner nostrils, little changes here and there. But for the most part, he was the same. What did shock him though were the changes that time had made. The skin around his eyes was looser and more wrinkled; his lips sagged around the edges. He even noticed a few patches of grey stubble around the edges of his shaved head.
“So… what do you think?”
John shrugged. “It’s me, I guess. Close enough, anyway.”
“You seem to have taken that very well.”
“How else could I take it? It’s my face.” He tried to sound calm, but his voice wavered slightly.
“You seem upset.”
“I’m just… old now, is all.”
The doctor nodded knowingly. “Yes, nearly a decade of your life, gone. So much time. Tell me: what will you do now?”
John thought carefully over his answer, pondering his lost time.
“I guess I’ll just have to make up for it anyway I can.”
The doctor smiled and rubbed his shoulder. “That’s the attitude I want to see.”
Sometime after the mirror incident, John was taken to one of his sessions with Dr. Shemuptura and was surprised to find another man in the room with her. He stood when John and entered and offered his hand in greeting. “Mr. Donalson, It’s a pleasure to finally meet you!”
John glanced at the man’s crisp green uniform, then at Dr. Shemuptura, who nodded and beckoned to the man.
John accepted the hand. “And who are you?”
The man forced a smile and returned to his seat. “My name is Major Stephen Polmelroy; I’m with the United States Army.”
“I’ve dealt with the army enough thanks.” He rotated his wheelchair so it faced the doctor. “So, what are we going to talk about today? How to react when old acquaintances feel uncomfortable with us?”
“No, I’m afraid our normal discussions will have to be put aside for today; Major Polmelroy wants to talk with you.”
“But I don’t want to talk with him.”
“He’s come all this way, just for you. It would be rude to turn him out.”
“Arlington’s only, what, half an hour away? I’m sure he won’t mind.”
For his part, the major managed to remain quiet and keep the same pained smile stuck to his face. This complete lack of obtrusiveness was what finally forced John to shrug, say “Whatever you want, you’re the doctor,” and turn his chair towards the major.
The major cleared his throat and folded his hands in his lap. “Mr. Donalson, I’m here, on behalf of the U.S. military, to offer our sincerest apologies for the rather… unfortunate circumstances of the past decade.”
“And that would be what? Keeping me at Walter Reed?”
“Yes and no, actually. While we’re more than happy that we helped to keep you alive, and while we claim no responsibility for the unfortunate mix-up that led to you being at Walter Reed, we do believe that it was entirely our fault that we failed to ascertain your true identity and return you to your family. So, we would like to officially apologize to you and your family for any undue stress caused by this,” he paused for a moment and scratched his chin, “mistake.”
“Mhmm.” John absently rolled his chair back and forth. “So you were sent all the way out here to say sorry? Is the price of stamps up too high to send a note?”
The major blinked and looked to Dr. Shemuptura for support, but she was busy examining a file on her palm-top computer. “Well, as a matter of fact, my superiors felt that in such an extreme case as yours, it was best to take a personal interest—“
“You just don’t want me to sue you for negligence and possibly kidnapping.”
The major sighed and closed his eyes. “In not so many words, yes.”
There was a moment of silence, broken by the sound of the wheelchair as it turned towards the door. “Yeah, I’ll see if my dad still has his lawyer on speed dial. Good talking to you Major Palmy—“
The major half-stood and raised a placating hand. “There is of course the matter of compensation.”
The wheelchair stopped. “How much longer is this session, doctor?”
“Fifteen more minutes I believe, although it can go longer if you feel that it may contribute towards your health.”
The wheelchair turned back into the room and the major resumed his seat. “Allright, Major, perhaps I was a bit hasty in my judgment. After all, you did take the time to come see me in person. Let’s talk.”
Something like a smile, almost a sneer, crossed the major’s face. “I’m so glad you feel that way.” He reached down and pulled up a thin screen from a bag next to his chair. He poked at it for a moment, and then returned his attention to John. “Well, seeing as how the primary victim of our mistake was your family, we have decided to repay any stress we may have caused them by completely paying for your expenses while you are here at this facility. Also, they won’t need to help you get back on your own feet after this; we’ll be paying you a small stipend for the first two years following your release, as well as providing you with appropriate housing.”
“How much is a ‘small stipend’?”
The major tapped at the screen again, then passed it to John.
“Wow. That’s yearly?”
Well, maybe it was good that John hadn’t left yet.
“And ‘appropriate housing’?”
“Well, we assumed you’d be returning to Philadelphia…”
“That’s right.”
“So, we went ahead and provisionally reserved a unit for you at Sky Crest Tower.”
There was no immediate response to that; there was none that was appropriate. Sky Crest Tower was, put simply, the most prestigious place to live in Philadelphia. Over sixty stories of luxury apartments topping a ten story stack of tenant amenities, attached to a massive mall that contained some of the most expensive stores in the city. Sky Crest was the eventual goal of every dreamer in Philadelphia. And, most importantly to John, it was the building that had inspired him to become an architect in the first place.
“I’ll take it.”
For the first time in the meeting, the major’s smile seemed to be genuine. “What, you don’t want to check with daddy’s lawyer first?”
“F*** daddy’s lawyers; this is too good.”
“I’m glad you see it that way. And there’s more. To insure that you’ll be able to become a constructive member of society as soon as possible, we’ve talked Cohen and Associates into giving you your old job back.”
“Okay, I’m sorry, but that I can’t believe.”
If it hadn’t been for Sky Crest Tower, John would have never thought twice about becoming an architect. But if it hadn’t been for Cohen and Associates, John never would have thought twice about Sky Crest. C&A was to the architecture world what Sky Crest was to urban living: the best. And in order to be the best, they only hired the best. John had spent four years after college building up enough of a portfolio and reputation to prove to C&A that he was the best, and he had only been on the job for seven months when he had had his accident. Even after his hard-won start, there was no way that the firm would allow a relatively green architect a decade behind the times onto the team.
“I’m simply too out of it for Cohen; I’ll need to go back to college for at least two years before I’m ready—“
The major waved off his objections. “Things have changed since your accident. For instance, Cohen is now one of the architectural contractors for the government at large, and the army in particular. We hold some sway over them.”
“So… I can just drop in, just like that?”
The smile was beginning to thin again. “Just like that.”
John tapped at his armrest and stared absently at Dr. Shemuptura, who was still engrossed in her palm-top. “What’s the catch?” he said at last.
“You don’t apologize and then shower me with gifts without expecting something in return.”
The major shrugged and spread his hands. “We’re the army; we don’t need anything. Just maybe—“
“Well…” The major tapped at the screen and held it protectively in his lap. “Since we are going through the trouble of compensating you for any damages caused by our… possible negligence, it might give peace of mind to everyone involved if we knew there were no possibility of legal action on anyone’s part.”
He held the screen out to John and indicated a blank line.
John took the screen and stared at it, then looked at the doctor. “Dr. Shemuptura, how much time do I have left with you today?”
The palm-top remained the center of her attention. “I’m afraid I’m needed with another patient now. Perhaps it would be best to wait until another time to sign the document?”
John grinned. “Yeah, let daddy’s lawyer get his hands on it.”
He watched as the major’s smile froze and the color drained out of his face.
A minute dragged by in absolute silence. “Oh, what the h***?” John quickly dragged his finger across the screen, writing his name. He passed the screen back to the major and began to maneuver out of the room.
“Well, Major, it was wonderful meeting you. Dr. Shemuptura, a delight as always.”
This time, she did look up. “I look forward to tomorrow John. Say hello to your parents for me.”
John had just reached the door when something occurred to him. “Hey, Major,” he called over his shoulder.
“What about Udarian’s wife? She get a deal like this?”
“I’m afraid, Mr. Donalson, that that is a confidential matter, and is strictly between Mrs. Udarian and the United States Army.”
John shrugged, and continued out the door.

After two months consciously living in the hospital, John was back to normal enough that he could move freely without the wheelchair. With this newfound freedom, his days began to change. He now took himself to physical therapy and went for walks around the grounds. Each lunch was spent with his parents in the cafeteria, chocking down bland food while he struggled through even blander small-talk.
His parents loved him, it was true, but his absence had led them to treating him more as a distant relative who had come for a rare visit: an enthusiastic welcome, followed by an awkward silence as each party wished the meeting would end. It almost came as a relief when one day father announced that his work was beckoning him, and that he had to return to Philadelphia. The next day he and mother left, promising to return for John when he was ready for the journey home.
With his parents gone, all John had to contend with was the bland food.
Following lunch, he would go back to the gym for some general exercises to get him into better shape, then return to his room and while away the hours by catching up on news, or reading, or playing games on the internet; anything to keep him away from his own thoughts.
One night, shortly after his parents left, John was sitting in his bed, idly surfing through the channels on his room’s wall-screen. An ad for toilet paper, a music video, a sitcom, a cartoon; nothing interested him. He kept flicking his fingers at the screen, and the channels kept changing, spiraling on in a litany of boredom. He was just about to shut off the television and go to sleep when something caught his eye. He twirled his hand counter-clockwise, and the channels began to descend. There!
On the screen was a reporter, a young Latina with close-cropped hair and a strangely frightening smile. For some reason, she looked familiar; the name Suzanne kept rising in John’s mind.
Behind the reporter loomed a massive wall that, based on the swarms of soldiers moving behind her, must have been the Pentagon.
John signaled for the volume to increase, then sat back and listened.
“—after more than thirty billion dollars and fifteen years spent on this project, most members of congress seemed pleased with the results of the ADI Bill.”
The scene suddenly shifted to an obstacle course in the middle of a field. John expected to see footage of soldiers running the course but was shocked to see what appeared to be hulking robots, human shapes covered in grey armor, running, jumping, climbing, and in one case breaking through the course.
“But all agree,” the reporter continued in voiceover, “that the best thing to come out of the research program is the Enhanced Human Ultimate Defense, or E.H.U.D., combat system, unveiled at the Pentagon last week.”
The scene now showed brief shots of different people, all identified by tags at the bottom of the screen as either being senators or members of congress, as they supported the reporters’ remarks.
“Oh, this bad boy is going to turn the war on terror around!”
“I have absolutely no doubt that, in terms of lifesaving mechanisms, the E.H.U.D. is the greatest invention since the seatbelt.”
“Within ten years, I hope we can have these ready for every soldier in the field. If we can keep our own safe, then we don’t have to be so harsh with the enemy. Think of a war where all we do is capture, disarm, pacify, and leave. Clean and simple.”
The reporter returned, again standing in front of the Pentagon. “But for all the enthusiasm over the E.H.U.D., many members of the public have been left wanting to know exactly how the system works.”
John certainly wanted to know. Those things in the obstacle course looked heavy and ungainly, but they were moving and maneuvering like Olympic athletes.
“The actual mechanics and design of the system are of course classified. However, the AmeriNews Network has been fortunate enough to be allowed an exclusive look at the inner workings of the E.H.U.D. combat system.”
The scene changed again, this time to an interior space that seemed to be a cross between a lab and a garage. A man of about thirty stood in front of a locker, dressed in white t-shirt and shorts. He held up a thick black one-piece suit. “This,” he said, “is the first layer of the E.H.U.D.”
He began to pull it on, entering through a slit in the front, then the scene faded into the future and the man stood fully dressed, with a black hood pulled over his head.
The man patted the thick material covering an arm. “The main part of the layer is a standard Gortex weave, able to withstand some good wear and tear, with fiber-mesh quilting on the inside.” He then leaned in close to the camera and shook a bit of the material. “But through the middle of the layer you have packets of a special gel, normally fairly sloshy, which turns tremendously solid when force is applied to it.” He squeezed off a section of the suit on his leg, then hit it with his other hand. The little node was as solid as a bowling ball.
“If a soldier gets hit with a non-ballistic impact, the attacking force basically hits a brick wall, which then fades out into the surrounding gel, blocking and absorbing most of the force, leaving little impact on the man inside the suit.”
The scene faded again and now the man held up a pile of rubber tubes and webbing. “This is the next layer of the suit: the pneumatic sinus system.” After a brief flurry of editing, the man was in the tangle. It criss-crossed over him, trailing thin tubes that connected to sturdy-looking bladders next to joints and along major muscle groups. John noticed that there were also what looked to be medical braces hidden under the sinuses, strapping the tubes close to the body.
“This is where the system really shines,” the man says. He ran in place for a moment, then crouched and jumped. The camera jerked upwards to follow him as he flew into the air and flipped just shy of hitting the ceiling. He landed in a deep crouch, and John could see the tubes and bladders pulsing.
The man smiled into the camera. “The pneumatic sinus system works with the body’s own movement to pump fluid and build up pressure, which can be stored and released in the normal patterns of moving. For instance, if you bend your knee, you move the fluids in such a way that they are sucked and stored in the bladders on the back of the thigh.” As he said this he demonstrated. “When you straighten the knee, an opposite suction is created in the frontal pouch, the fluid is released, and it changes position, providing a significant blast of power to the wearer’s simple, muscle-powered action. In addition to the purely mechanical suction power, the system is equipped with motion sensors that will also create suction and change the internal pressure based on perceived moves, so you don’t have to force movements; the suit works with you. With this on, a soldier need not worry about chasing combatants, getting out of firing zones, or dealing with battle-field rubble ever again.”
The camera faded again, but this time the man didn’t hold up a part of the system and explain it; he merely appeared, about a foot away from where he had been, covered in a thick black suit, much like the first layer. The shape of his body also appeared less human, more like the final combat systems shown earlier in the report. “This layer here is essentially like the first layer; it provides shock absorption and protection to the wearer. Unlike the first layer, however, this is meant to protect against ballistic impact.” He patted several disproportionately large mounds that corresponded to muscle groups, as well as several bulky areas between the mounds. “There’s reinforced armor here, similar to flak armor: Kevlar and Gortex fabric with ceramic plates. In addition to providing personal protection, this layer also protects the sinus system from damage.”
There was another camera shift, and now the man’s transformation was nearly complete: he was covered in thick plates of what had to be armor, with straps and buckles covering the seams and a large frill coming up to protect the neck and parts of the head. “And here at last is the final layer. Advanced body armor, covered in additional Kevlar and Gortex. I’d like to say more about it but,” the man paused and smiled, “I’m afraid that’s classified.”
He reached into the locker behind him and pulled out a full-faced helmet. He slipped it on over his head and turned back to the audience.
John felt a sudden revulsion at this final change: the face was now a pair of dead eye-slits and a grille of some sort where the mouth should be. The mask was corpse-like and alien, yet at the same time weirdly familiar.
The man spoke, his voice clear but modulated. “The E.H.U.D. system is not only proven to effectively protect soldiers against most small arms fire, it has also been proven to protect its wearer from large calibers, traditional armor-piercing rounds, weight loads in excess of half a ton, and high yield explosives. With one of these on, a soldier is no longer a mortal man. He or she is now an enhanced human ultimate defense.”
Now the reporter returned, walking in front of the wall of the Pentagon. “So there you have it: the E.H.U.D. combat system. Promised to be able to save untold lives on the field of battle, it has been fast-tracked for mass production by several military contractors. Despite this, it still may be years before it sees wide combat usage. Until then, it will be deployed to National Guard forces all over the country, for use in both peace keeping and disaster relief efforts. So, be on the lookout for these battlefield behemoths in a town near you very, very soon.” She winked at the camera. “And remember, no matter how scary they may look, they’re here to keep you and the men and women serving in our armed forces safe. For AmeriNews Network, I’m Maria Alvarez.”
A commercial started, and John signaled for the television to shut off. He lay in bed and thought about what he had just seen. The reporter had said that this armor system was revealed to the public a week ago, yet John couldn’t shake the feeling that he had seen the armor somewhere before, and he was also sure that he had not seen the first reports on them.
But as he began to think about it more, he realized that the unveiling may have occurred on one of the nights that he had forgotten to turn of the television before falling asleep; it had happened several times, and he was no stranger to AmeriNews.
Yes, that was a good explanation. John signaled for the lights to turn off, then closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

Friday, June 17, 2011

E.H.U.D.: Prelude to Apocalypse, Introduction

The journey that has been the writing of my first real novel began sometime in 2003. I was occasionally writing a story, then entitled "Sands of Fate," that I hoped would become my first great literary work. It was a science fiction epic, set at some point in the distant future following a catastrophic nuclear disaster. Over time, however, my interest in the project flagged, as I was caught up with, well... being a child. Before the project was completely abandoned, however, I had a dream. Not a grand design, not a hope for what may be, but a literal, sleeping dream. In the dream I saw a film, made to be something of a prequel to "Sands of Fate," explaining the causes and consequences of the event that led to "Sands of Fate"'s apocalypse. Years went by, and eventually this dream was forgotten...

Then, in early 2007, I began to work on another story. It was a tale of super soldiers, fighting against those who would manipulate them. As the story progressed, I began to pull in elements from other unwritten stories, unmade films, undrawn comics. What I drew on most, however, was "Sands of Fate." Eventually, the two became linked, and I realized I had done what I had dreamt of so many years ago: I was writing the back story...

In the four years of writing E.H.U.D., I've found myself stretched as a writer. At first I thought it would be an easy job, extruding my imagination directly onto paper. Sadly, it doesn't work this way. There are re-writes, plans, more rewrites, periods of writers block and, worst of all, research. Yes, I've actually had to work to write this thing. It is by no means finished; in fact, I'm currently re-writing it from the ground up.

A look through this blog will show my past attempts at E.H.U.D. Draft three was published over the course of several months, lost in the archives due to a series of "witty" post titles rather than convenient chapter headings. And now it is time to start again. Draft four is ready to be disseminated to the people, to you. Hopefully, you will enjoy it. Even more hopefully, you will give me free editing advice. If not, well, that is your right.

In publishing this draft, I will be making an effort towards navigability. Each post will be titled with the name of the book, followed by the part number, then the chapter. Each post will contain only the text of the chapter, possibly with a supporting graphic. I will post a comment on each, explaining my thoughts while working on the chapter, as well as any interesting trivia.

Again, I hope you all will enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I can guarantee no schedule of publication, nor can I guarantee that the entire draft will be published. I merely guarantee that I will do the best I can. Goodbye now, God bless you, and have a good week.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Here it is, at last, after months, if not years of promising it... SORRY! A short film I made with my brother, sister, and cousins. Plotted in 15 minutes, shot in under 60, and then edited over the course of 2 years. Yeah...

Overall, I'm happy with it... except the audio. I'm not good with audio.

Anyhoo, enjoy, and be sure to check back next week for E.H.U.D.: Prelude to Apocalypse!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Its almost here...

So... Yeah...
First, "Tales from the Forgotten Wastes" has begun production. Scenes have been shot and some have been edited. Still looking for actors, though. And locations.
E.H.U.D. is almost ready to be put out again. I'm working on a new cover to present with it, which will be ready in about a week. Until then, stay tuned.

As far as any fun or witty insights, I don't really have any. I feel like I'm wasting this blog... i need to do something fun with it, not just give excuses for continued procrastination. Maybe next update, yeah?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tales From The Forgotten Wastes

Announcing, Tales From The Forgotten Wastes, a new webseries created by Hezekiah and Caleb Bennetts! Production starts soon!
The Plot: Four acquantinces find themselves playing an RPG tgether, and slowly but surely become freinds-- if they can survive eachother's company! Meanwhile, their in-game characters must overcome extraordinary odds to save the kingdom from the forces of Evil. Sadly, their own incompetence may cost them the day...
The Problem: We need actors and assistants.
The Solution: YOU! Yes, you, have the chance in joining two novice filmmakers as they embark on the journey of a life time! We need cast, crew, equipment funding. No offer of help will be turned down.
To find out more, or to request a copy of the script for audition purposes, simply leave a comment or send a message.
Stay tuned for upcoming production art and updates.
Till then, Hez Out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Mmmm... First update in months. If I had any readers, they've probably dropped off by now... Anyway...
I'm going to go ahead with updates on the long-term stuff. "Sorry" is still in post-production; I'm currently tweaking the sound. If I could actually just sit down one day and work on it uninterrupted, I could probably finish it, but... Meh.
E.H.U.D., though, E.H.U.D. is going well. I'm working through draft 4, and, after the current chapter is done, will start updating it. For those of you who read draft 3, fear not: this draft is 100% all new.
Other news, other news... I've uploaded a new custom to figurerealm, be sure to check that out. Don't have the new camera yet (a T3, now) but wanted to get it up anyway. Also, Pockett has updated, a real, completely real new comic for the first time this year! The engine and fire where made by me in blender, and the background was lit and rendered by me in DAZ 3D (check it out today, it's free!)
And speaking of DAZ... The picture at the top was made in DAZ, just an experiment I was doing with their dynamic clothing. As you can see from around the knees, there were... strange... results. I couldn't experiment too much with it, though, because it took 3+ hours to calculate each time.

P.S. I found out today that I've been accepted into ORU's Multi-Media Institute! Which means I'll be used for free labor from 8-5 all next year... Oh well, I'm happy. Thank you, Jesus!