Monday, January 31, 2011

A Short Thank You

Starting this blog has meant many things to me. It sparked my passion for writing once again while also providing a medium to convey what I've written to all of you. This is something that I've never done before. A small community is beginning to amass, and although I've been on the internet for over a decade, I can't say I've felt quite involved in any sort of community as I have with this blog and it's followers.

I can't thank all of my followers enough; you are all a part of a personal journey that holds great value to me.

You've also all made Spiderman very happy.

Enlightenment Lake

If it was society’s judgment day, it would have looked upon Lucas Parkreiner and explained to him that he, basically, did everything right. He had done well enough in high school to get into a prestigious university. His embracing of higher education, and his success in it, led to a jumpstart in his career in business financing. Upon graduation, various companies, organizations, and executives came crawling out of the woodwork in order to obtain Lucas as a part of their respective teams as they worked to pave a road to profit. Lucas took pride in his success; sure, he had worked hard and dealt with many obstacles (mainly people) in the name of personal progress. His bright future was apparent to nearly everyone he encountered, he was very expressive and enjoyable to be around, encouraging, one might say. However, the feeling was not mutual, by any means. On the contrary, Lucas was very dissatisfied with people, specifically with their behavior towards him. Stating that Lucas Parkreiner had a childhood would be nothing less than a bold faced lie. His father didn’t want him, and just a few weeks after his birth, vanished from the family’s cramped apartment in Seattle. At 22, Lucas still hasn’t heard from him and knows nothing of him whatsoever. If his mother ever wanted him, it was only for a short time. After his father disappeared, Rachel Parkreiner slipped into a severe depression, often unleashing her anger and sadness on her young son. She ultimately took her own life and expressed in a note that she did it because she had made a mistake.  A mistake named Lucas. He didn’t experience the trauma of discovering his mother’s corpse, thankfully, as a concerned neighbor beat him to it after hearing a gunshot come from the direction of the Parkreiner home. Lucas was in the yard playing with some sort of Tonka truck. Fearing the origins of the noise, he simply turned and stared as the old Mrs. Stanley did a half sprint across the lawn, up to the doorway. Lucas had heard a scream that was quickly muffled. Mrs. Stanley quickly came out of the front door with her hands gripped tightly over her mouth. She stared at Lucas for a few moments and ran to him, picking him up and carrying him into the house, not even letting go as she used her old cord phone to dial the authorities.

The police quickly decided it was best to never share the note with Lucas, but he didn’t need any sort of written confirmation to be able to understand the obvious. He knew she had chosen to die because of his existence. This may have fazed Lucas at some point, but what should have been pain and sorrow stemming from a tragedy, eventually evolved into motivation as he grew older. After his mother died, he had been forced to move in with his aunt, who had chosen to be his godmother. It wasn’t long before Lucas decided that she wasn’t fit for the role. If she cared about Lucas, she almost never showed it, as most of her “heart” and “love” was being invested into the new boyfriend of the week. On many occasions he had listened to her explain, “Lucas, this is the one, I just know it! He makes me so happy, when I’m around him, all my worries JUST MELT AWAY!” At this time, she had been dating a man named Joey Yokchev, an ex-convict with a rap sheet starting in Russia that was about as long as a four hundred foot drop into the Grand Canyon. For the two weeks he dated Lucas’ aunt, he claimed he was on some sort of path of spiritual redemption. Shortly after, he was arrested on possession of cocaine charges. This was a vicious cycle that Lucas had to witness firsthand throughout the time he lived with his godmother, which was a time that lasted all the way through to his high school graduation. The only choice Lucas really had was to apathetically listen to his aunt ramble about her joke of a love life. That was as far as his relationship with her would ever grow. During these years, Lucas just considered himself to have no family. Unlike most young adults, he didn’t let the flaws that he saw in his experiences and interactions with his ‘family’ break him down. He didn’t let them make him angry, in fact, he saw that as childish. He felt immense pity more than anything else, and as time went on, the only word he could use to describe his family was pathetic. It became engraved into his heart.

Lucas didn’t have many friends as he aged. During his time under the public school system, Lucas was mainly mocked and bullied extensively by his “peers”. The only praise he ever got was from his teachers, who were quite impressed with the intellect that Lucas displayed in the classroom. He always contributed valuable insight to any discussion, no matter the subject. The fact was that Lucas simply excelled academically. Lucas recognized this. Outside of the classroom, his hobbies consisted only of studying and research. Troubles surrounding his family and social life (or the lack of both) never occurred to him. Those horrendous things that he was facing on a daily basis, those events and interactions that should have broken his heart, they merely became the gasoline fueling his passionate fire towards success. Lucas invested almost all of his life into that pursuit, it was the only thing that he felt truly mattered, it was the only thing he could truly depend upon. He didn’t need people. People were so ugly. During all of his time conducting research, reading textbooks, browsing the internet, memorizing facts and data, the one thing that Lucas could never come to understand was how people could be so beautiful yet choose to be so ugly. He didn’t understand why his parents didn’t want him. He didn’t understand why his godmother was more concerned with getting laid than her sister’s orphan son. He didn’t understand why the kids at school chose to beat the shit out of him and curse him instead of appreciating his talents. People were so foreign to him. All he knew was that they were unreliable. These things lingered in Lucas’ mind for many years, but they never kept him from his goals, and he can prove that with his flourishing career.

Lucas wasn’t all that surprised to find out that the business world wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. After all, who runs business? People. What are people? Fuck ups. This became Lucas’ rationality after just a few weeks on the job. Lucas had seen countless films in which the boss is sleeping with the secretary. He had always scoffed this idea off as nothing more than Hollywood cliché, but after six days at TechFactor, it became a sickening reality. Lucas’ boss was a man named Grant Shirley who had inherited ownership of the company from his father, who had founded the company in 1970. Over the decades it had grown into a well-known Fortune 500 company, and when Lucas had been in school and heard that the company had a position for him amongst their ranks, he took it without hesitation. When Lucas had gone into Mr. Shirley’s office for an interview, he had seen the photo of Shirley and his wife and two sons. Lucas never had faith in people, but this fact that Shirley was committing infidelity devastated him particularly.

Throughout his quest for success, Lucas had been under the impression that his work would move him into a position in which he may have been surrounded by better people. People with better morals and work ethic. He thought that maybe he would find more people like him who had worked long and hard for their place. Maybe he would even have friends! People he could relate to! This had been very exciting to Lucas at the time, and his fiery motivation would erupt into a proverbial inferno whenever the thought crossed his mind. However, it only took six days to destroy what Lucas had created inside himself for years and years. He had achieved the impossible. He had overcome the odds and obtained the best version of success one could ever imagine, considering his situation and background. It had been his goal from the start! But he still wasn’t happy. The people had not gotten any better, and Lucas was convinced now that they never would. After only two weeks of time put in at TechFactor, Lucas asked to use some of his sick days for vacation time. Seeing Lucas’ productivity and all of his promise was more than enough for Shirley to grant him this, and Lucas was glad that the man had at least a shred of decency in him.

Lucas had first heard about Enlightenment Lake after seeing an advertisement on the internet with the tagline, “Let the lake become your haven.” It was only thirty miles or so outside of Seattle and the pictures on the website seemed beautiful enough. The lake was very large and was surrounded by thick, tall beautiful trees. Trails lined the outside with shimmering grass all around them. There were no people in the photographs smiling in a very cheesy manner to convince Lucas to visit, but Lucas thought the scenery was incredible. After telling Shirley that he wasn’t coming in for the next few days, Lucas drove from his new apartment in downtown Seattle and took the exit for the lake when he saw it. He followed the exit for a few miles as it became a sort of abandoned back road surrounded by lots of heavy brush. The pavement just seemed to suddenly end and become a dirt road, but Lucas didn’t notice this as he was very much in awe of Mother Nature. Lucas didn’t get out of the city much, after living in downtown Seattle his entire life, he also chose to attend his university and begin a career in the same place, so this was a delight to him. After following the road a little longer, it opened up into a large open space in the forest that he guessed served as the lake visitor’s parking lot. There was a small building made of wooden longs at one corner of the lot, with a trail next to it that he saw led down to the lake. Excited, he quickly parked and exited his car, making his way towards what he thought was a check-in center of sorts. Lucas saw a window in the structure and hurried over to it.

There was no one in the window waiting for Lucas. He stuck his head inside and saw that small little room was completely empty. No desk, no phone, no computer, no check in machine, nothing. Confused, he backed his head out and looked around the parking lot. Still nobody around. No other cars in sight. Staring down the trail, he figured there was no harm in at least checking the lake out. He was actually quite happy that he might be in complete isolation; maybe he could even spend a few nights sleeping out here in his car, purely using the time to reflect and regain his bearings, go back over his tactics. Lucas considered these things as he made his way down the trail that ran parallel just a few feet from the lake. As he walked, he focused his eyes on the shimmering, glittery waters. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to set, creating a little slice of postcard heaven for Lucas to glare at. He marched on for a few minutes before he noticed a little dot in the corner of his eye. Shifting his gaze, his eyes made out what appeared to be a man in a small two-seater canoe, gliding across the surface of the water. Lucas stopped dead in his tracks. The man didn’t seem to be fishing or anything like that; he had an oar in his hands, and was gently pushing into the water to float around the lake. Interested, Lucas proceeded down the trail until there were only a few feet between himself and the man. Lucas walked gently off the path down to the edge of the water, where it met the grass. The man in the canoe looked over his shoulder and caught sight of Lucas, before using his oar to shift the canoe around until its nose was pointed right at Lucas.

“Well, hey there, stranger!” said the man in a boisterous, deep voice.

It took a few seconds but Lucas managed to let out a “Hello!”

The man was rowing towards Lucas and the canoe was beginning to get closer and closer. Although nervous, he stood his ground.

“What brings you out here to no man’s land?” cried the man. He wasn’t yelling but that booming voice seemed to echo throughout the entire forest that surrounded Enlightenment Lake. Lucas noticed a huge grin on the man’s face. Not the sinister kind, either. One that expressed that he man was genuinely delighted to see Lucas. It put him at ease a bit, but he still noted it as odd.

“Just needed a break, I guess” Lucas explained, he even managed to smile a bit. The canoe was now just a few feet away from the edge of the water and Lucas got a good look at the man’s face. He was a very pale man who looked to be in his mid-sixties or so; his white skin matched his grey eyes. He was wearing a fisherman’s hat and a pair of light brown overalls with a ‘wifebeater’ underneath. He had a very warm smile, and it didn’t fade the entire time their conversation continued.

“Oh, lotta’ folks round here say that” the old man sighed. “Always seems like they’re runnin’ away from somethin’”

There was a brief moment of silence before Lucas inquired “Lot of folks, huh, doesn’t seem like you get too many visitors around here?”

“Ah, I can’t say I get too lonely. People always comin’ out here to visit the lake. Mostly lookin’ for peace-uh mind, like you. ‘Course you couldn’t tell that by the lot. I’ say some soul strolls onto the trail ‘bout once every week. Usually have a nice visit, most cases.” The old man never seemed to stop smiling.

Lucas couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness.

“Do you live out here or something?” he asked.

“Oh, I’ve been out here ‘bout what…” The old man pondered. “Must be forty years now!” he said in wonder before chuckling. “Let me tell ya, I’ve loved every minute of it. There’s somethin’ special about this lake, ya know. People tendta fall in love with it quickly. Tell ya what, let me take ya out on the water and you can tell me all about what ya need a break from, how’s that sound?”


Lucas thought it sounded insane. All he was looking for were a nice few days of relaxation away from the pressures of Seattle, from people in general. And here he was, standing by Enlightenment Lake, an utter snapshot of beauty, only to be approached by a strange old man in a canoe who wanted to talk all about what Lucas already knew he hated.There was nothing to discuss. Lucas almost wanted to tell the old man to fuck off for ruining his planned isolation in Mother Nature, for ruining his escape. He was angry.

Instead, all that came out of his mouth was “Sure!” Lucas was frustrated with himself. He concluded that that slip-up was the result of twenty two years-worth of bottled up emotion. Lucas knew he still didn’t understand people.

Lucas stepped slowly into the canoe from the water’s edge and took a seat opposite of the old man, who picked his oar back up and slowly guided them out onto the lake. Lucas still thought the scenery was nothing less than amazing, and beheld it in a silence that the old man decided to break after a few minutes.

“You from Seattle?” he asked.

Lucas was somewhat startled.

“Yeah, just got a job with TechFactor as a financial advisor.” Lucas explained.

“No kiddin’?! You must be a bright one then. How you likin’ it so far?” the old man asked.

Lucas thought many things at this point. The first, of course, was purely lying to the old man, explaining that it was just fine and dandy and everything that he had ever hoped for. But another part of him was tired of lying. Tired of having no one to talk with. Tired of being alone. Another part of himself was angry for even considering admitting the truth to the old man. But, yet again, Lucas’ lips betrayed him.

“It’s nothing like I expected. It’s shitty.” Lucas stated bluntly. There was silence for a few moments, but the old man didn’t seem to be taken aback by Lucas’ words. As a matter of fact, he practically seemed used to hearing such things.

“Unfortunately, lotta things end up that way. Heard a man say once that life is just a series of hurtful tragedies and misfortune” the old man said nonchalantly.

“Anywhere I could meet this guy? Sounds like we could get along pretty fucking great!” Lucas’ anger was growing. Not only was he frustrated that he had admitted something so personal to someone he barely even knew, but with that statement he just made, there was no opportunity for recovery. There’s no stopping an avalanche once it starts, especially one of emotion.

“You know, I never had the best life,” Lucas continued, his tone going angrier and more hostile and his lips formed each sound. “and you know why? People. People fucking failed me! I made do with what I had and I had no other choice but to roll with the punches and take the kicks while I was down! I sucked it all up! I never had anyone there for me! I never had friends to take me out for a night on the town so that I could forget! No one gave two shits about me! Nobody cared about how I was doing! Nobody ever asked me my name except my teachers during fucking attendance checks! I raised myself, and everything I have was obtained through my work alone! You know, being alone gives you a lot of time to watch people, see how they act and what they do! I studied them just as much as I studied any fucking textbook, and it didn’t take years and years of research to conclude that people are some terrible, terrible motherfuckers! I hate them and I never needed them. I succeeded. I did it. I accomplished my goal. So why am I still not happy? Where is the payoff?  Why do I have to go to work every day and know that my boss inherited a company that he doesn’t’ deserve? Why do I have to sit there knowing that he’s fucking his secretary when he has his own family? I’m just so fucking angry, I’m fed up with how much people fail, how often they make terrible decisions, how often they just fuck things up and hurt one another! I feel like I don’t belong on this fucking planet! I don’t understand this life! I did everything right, but I’m still just so….lost…”

Lucas was out of breath. As he muttered that final word, he let his head hang low in exhaustion. After a few moments passed, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“You didn’t let me finish.” the old man said. “Heard a man say once that life is just a series of hurtful tragedies and misfortune…but what makes a man is his ability to be selfless and kind throughout all hardships….people are never gonna be perfect. People make mistakes, but nothing changes the fact that we’re all people, and we all need help. You got a gift. Your insight. Use it for somethin’ good. Make someone happy. Don’t just keepit to yourself and be angry. You’re only going to crumble.”

Lucas was on the verge of tears. He had never been so grateful for a human being more than this old man that he found simply canoeing in a lake in the middle of nowhere on a late afternoon. He hugged the old man out of something that might have been instinct.

“You know, I never asked you your name.” Lucas stated.

“Oh, well, folks ‘round here call me Old Shirley.” the old man said.

Tribute To The Most Compelling Type Of Storytelling

In the midst of writing my first short story, "Enlightenment Lake", I deemed it appropriate it to share a short music video with you all that I made just this past weekend. I recently completed Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and what an experience it was. It played more like an Oscar award winning film as compared to the normal gameplay people might expect from modern video games. The game is incredibly story-driven, with an intricate plot told through four games which were released in a span of a decade. These are the types of stories that I strive to create, not in regards to length, but in effectiveness. The experience has been very influential and partly inspired me to start this blog to begin with. I felt practically obligated to express my appreciation through some sort of creative outlet. This was the result. I hope you all enjoy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Start Of Something New

Hello there everyone,

Just made this blog today. I plan on posting numerous original short stories on this blog and perhaps even other forms of storytelling in order to appease the masses who may be coming to this blog in the near future. I write these stories for you. They all have meaning and value. I put my heart, emotions, and mind into each and everyone of them, and if you just simply enjoy it, well, that's all I could ever ask for.