Wednesday’s Wafers VI

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.

Return next week for Chapter 4 in my short story.

I’m not a gamer. I never play World of Warcraft. I don’t own any consoles or first person shooter games. I used to love watching my son play Halo and Elder Scrolls, etc., but I never spent time playing any of them myself. I do like to play a word game and a puzzle game on my phone occasionally because I feel it helps keep my mind sharp. Well – then I discovered Empires & Allies, a strategy, resource gathering, base building, base raiding game. I’m so hooked lol. I joined an alliance and laid low for awhile because my base and troops were so weak. But I made friends with several alliance members, and now I’ve followed them from one alliance to another and then another. I like being one of the guys, so to speak. I love building and gathering types of games and I’m pretty competitive at times. I’ve just never played any for very long, until now. This is what I do when I have a spare moment, or I’m taking a break from work. So, thought I’d write about it. Hope you like it. Thoughts?


Gang’s All Here  by Karolyn H

eanda

Melody of beeps, increasingly louder…
The alarm drags me out of my slumber.
I fumble for my phone and swipe it off.
It’s quiet, no one’s up. Dark. Why am I….?
Oh yeah. E&A Alliance War.
Sitting up, I check Messenger.
4a in the alliance group chat wreaking havoc. Someone must be drunk, lol.
Ricky sending hearts and Sandan telling us to attack early.
‘Yarrrr!’ I text, before leaving Messenger and opening the game app.
While the game takes foreeeveeeerrrrr to load,
I put on my robe and slipper socks and sit in my office chair.
Game loads. X out the annoying ad.
First things first: check time remaining until alliance war begins.
15 minutes. Good, plenty of time.
Tap alliance war shield.
Apply Strike Force to base defensive buildings.
Request additional defensive troops from alliance members.
Back to my base. Tap tap tap to collect fuel, steel, tech, resources.
Damn, attacked 3 times overnight? Revive Colossus in the Robotics Bay.
Open War Factory, collect Command Points bonus that’s finished building.
Purchase elite cache with Advance Materials, get a construction boost, resource boost, and 30 gold.
Tap on fuel stockpile, tap on speedup icon to request help from alliance.
Check Call to Arms mission. Nevermind, I’ll worry about that after I use my AW attacks.
Guess I’ll wait to finish Killswitch after the war too.
Need a couple more uplink modules so I can build another Ion Cannon.
Tap on Alliance chat. Gang’s all here. I smile.
Swarm: wzup dragon!
Gen Dragon (me): thanks for the troops. Ready to kick some ass
Swarm: Everyone pick your targets, claim them.
Steveo: I’ll take nomad, 72xp
Dragon: I’m fine with my recommended target for first attack
Illbreed: Ready to nuke something. I’ll go for bitbit, 71xp
Spos: I’m on my way to work guys, I’ll attack when I can
4a: Fuck you all!
Dragon: lol
Hard Target: I finally upgraded HQ to 20
Ricky: hey, way to go buddy
ANNOUNCEMENT: War’s about to start. Load strike force. Attack early. Don’t waste attacks
Sandan: Dragon, switch to squad deployment, instead of individual.
Dragon: roger that.
X out of chat. Tap on HQ, switch to squad deployment.
Apply auto repair boost to Colossus from Inventory.
Apply bonus command points boost to Weapons Command.
Apply strike force to 3 troop tarmacs.
Banner pops up on the screen. Alliance War has begun.
Tap on alliance war shield.
Screen freezes, then…
World map zooms in. There’s my base.
Recommended target is identified. Tap on Scout.
Adrenaline rush.
Here we go!

-5/16/17-

Wednesday’s Wafers V

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


Chapter 3 of my short story has arrived. I think it’s turning itself into a Mystery!


Ch. 3  A.P.E.  by Karolyn H  ——-  [Ch. 1] [Ch. 2] [Ch. 4]

crabappletree

I hopped into my 1979 Toyota 4×4, and pulled the door shut. Starting the engine, I rolled down the driver’s side window and adjusted the mirror. My Golden Boxer, Soco, was sprawled out on the porch, looking a bit dejected, ears drooping sadly.

boxer “I’ll be back tonight, beautiful. Keep an eye on things, like you always do.” She woofed once in reply, with a brief wag of her tail.

I drove down the dirt driveway, avoiding the cavernous pothole around the curve. Glancing in the rear-view mirror, I took a long look at the crab apple tree planted several feet from the porch steps. I remember the day we dug the hole for it. It was three years ago, on a Saturday, and the sun was shining through the trees surrounding our small farmhouse and patch of property. We’d started early, to avoid having to work in the heat that was expected later in the day.

I hadn’t had any previous experience with gardening unless you count mowing the lawn and watering potted flowers. You had somehow convinced me that we needed this tree, so there we were, lowering the fledgling tree’s mass of roots into the hole. After filling in around it with the rest of the soil that had been dug out, you stood there with the hose, watering it for a good ten minutes. I smiled, remembering how you’d “accidentally” sprayed me a few times, feigning innocence. I had returned the favor, which led to a serious water fight and both of us being drenched after only a few minutes. sprayhose

Pulling out onto the main road that led to the highway, I checked the clock on the dash. 9:41. Glad I stopped for gas when I went to the store yesterday. Stopping now would make me late.

I cruised along, my mind running down the list of chores I would be doing at Mr. Pagano’s house today. When he hired me, he’d given me a general idea of what he expected, but left it up to me to plan out my time. This was unexpected, but a pleasant surprise.

Turning onto Cedar Lane, I slowed down then pulled up to the third house on the left. A cream and white postmodern four-bedroom home, with an immaculate lawn lined with carefully trimmed hedges.

I was barely on time, although it probably wasn’t a big issue as Mr. Pagano had already left for his job three hours ago. Parking in front of the garage, on the farthest side from the entryway, I grabbed my purse and phone and walked up the stone path. Second-guessing my memory, I rooted around in my wallet for the slip of paper I had copied the new entry code down on. Nicholas had called me yesterday to let me know he had digital keypads installed over the weekend.   

keypad After pressing each of the six numbers carefully, I heard the lock click, then grasped the curved handle. As I was pushing the door open, I remembered just in time to look down and be alert for Spooky—who should have been named Sneaky—who, according to Mr. Pagano, liked to wait in the shadows and attempt to slip out the door if you weren’t quick enough.

No kitty monster in sight as I closed the door. A duplicate keypad was on the far wall of the foyer, and I crossed quickly to enter the same code within 90 seconds to disarm the alarm. Well, I fucked it up the first time, the keypad flashing red accusingly at me. Anticipating the blaring alarm, I was ready to cover my ears, while cursing and entering the code correctly this time.

Spooky meowed in greeting from the staircase, then immediately ran to the kitchen, to sit by his food dish. I followed, and set my purse down on the counter.

I spied a note Mr. Pagano had left for me on the table. It included a grocery list and a message about garbage and recycling pick-up days. He thanked me again, and had signed ‘Nick’ with a flourish at the bottom.

After taking care of the ravenous beast, I located the door that led to the garage, and ventured in to look for the plastic garbage and recycling receptacles. They were over in the corner nearest the wide automatic garage door. Looking around, I observed that this was likely the cleanest and most organized garage I’d ever seen. Hopefully that meant that I wouldn’t meet up with too many creepy crawlies.

I lifted the green bin marked “Recyclables”, and saw that it was only about a third of the way full. I was about to drop the lid, when my eyes locked on to the distinct mustard yellow color of a manila envelope sticking out from under some newspaper ads.

I reached in and grabbed it, hoping to find some of its original contents still inside. It was empty. I was disappointed, but was not surprised. I flipped it over, and read the address label, confirming that this was the same envelope I’d briefly seen last Friday. It was addressed to Mr. Nicholas Pagano, and was from Absolute Protection Enterprises. Or, A.P.E. for short. I snickered, even as I rifled through the other papers on the top of the pile, looking for anything that might be from the same company.

Not finding anything that appeared useful, I laid the envelope on top of the bin and snapped a photo of the address with my phone, then tossed it back inside.

I hadn’t discovered any visible cameras in the living area last week, when I had briefly scouted the place while vacuuming. But I mentally kicked myself for not checking the garage just now, before taking the photo. Looking around again, but with an eye for blinking lights and reflective lenses, I was relieved that there didn’t appear to be any in here either.

My husband, Morgan, would have commented that for someone who managed a security company, this guy didn’t appear to represent the industry very well. He would have said that, if he were around.

A lump formed in my throat, and my eyes teared up. I brushed them away and gave my head a shake, to clear away the memories for the time being. I needed to be strong and I damn sure needed to find out what really happened to my cowboy, the love of my life.

Back in the kitchen, I brewed a cup of java and started planning dinners for the week, exploring the pantry and refrigerator to find out if anything else should be added to Mr. Pagano’s grocery list.

————

After a busy day of shopping, cleaning and dodging kitten attacks, I was glad to be headed home. A good country song came on the radio so I turned it up and sang along all the way to the end my driveway. I locked it up, and Soco ran up to greet me, bouncing around, overjoyed that I hadn’t abandoned her forever.

Before climbing the steps, I stopped in front of our crab apple tree, affectionately named ‘Auntie Apple’ by Morgan the day after she was planted. I reached out and touched one of her branches, and whispered, “Thank you for holding my fears.” This was one of our rituals. It was his idea. He said that we should always feel safe in our home and in each other’s arms, so he declared that Auntie Apple would be appointed to hold our fears for us before stepping inside. And in his arms, there had only been love.

Soco followed me inside, and raced me to the sofa, jumping up just before I dropped heavily onto the cushion next to her. She laid her head on my lap and looked up at me with those dark, expressive eyes of hers. “I know, angel. I miss him too.”

But now I am finally starting to heal and was ready to continue on the path towards some concrete answers. I laid my head back to relax, and caressed Soco’s soft ears. My mind, refusing to relax, was spinning, as I wondered how long I would have to wait, until I could access Mr. Pagano’s laptop. He was in the dark as far as any relation I had to Morgan, and his own company. But he certainly was not in the dark about events that led up to my husband’s disappearance.

-5/10/17-

Encounters

pathinlife

Project quote

“…academic ability and talent actually have [only] a small bearing on success in life. Instead, I believe that your path in life is opened up through encounters with other people and through [hard] work…” (Yukimasa Ueyama, 2017)

My thoughts

I agree with this sentiment to a large degree. Improving skills and building on talents can certainly improve one’s life and financial situation. But I feel that how a person takes advantage of their opportunities, learns from experiences with others, and puts effort and integrity into everything they do will determine how likely they are to achieve the success they are aiming for. These are goals that I work at continually.


Editing projects for week ending April 30, 2017

PowerPoint website promotion
Interview article
College essay

Client countries: Canada, US


 

Wednesday’s Wafers III

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


Are you ready for the next chapter in my story? I love how my character is developing. Let me know what you think is going on. Enjoy!


Ch. 2 Surreptitious by Karolyn H  —-  [Ch. 1] [Ch. 3] [Ch. 4]

manila2

oxfords.jpg The front door opens, and a man in a business suit steps inside, shutting the door behind him. He wipes his brown suede Oxfords on the mat then crosses the foyer to hang his suit jacket on the coat rack.

He sees me and smiles tiredly. “Erica, thanks again for starting today. I’ve had quite the crazy week. Any problems so far?”

“You’re very welcome, Mr. Pagano,” I replied. “And no problems at all. I took the liberty of preparing a light lunch since you mentioned that you would be leaving work early today.” Hoping that I didn’t sound too eager, I shifted my legs awkwardly, clasping my hands in front of my waist.

“Thank you, and it’s Nicholas. Actually, just call me Nick, please. No need for formality really,” Mr. Pagano—Nick—assured me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I barely caught a glimpse of the tiny black shadow that streaked across the floor to slide comically into a heap in front of my new employer. Nick’s face lit up and he bent down to scoop up the kitten, who was now purring furiously and trying to lick any part of his human that he could reach. Chuckling, Nick carried him into the kitchen, setting his laptop case down on a chair, and a few pieces of mail on the dining table.laptopcase

“I see you met my new roommate! I think I’m Spooky’s hero, at least for a little while. I guess he hasn’t forgotten how I rescued him a couple days ago. I probably shouldn’t have kept him, but now he won’t be home alone all day, at any rate, since you’ll be coming by a few days every week.” By now, Spooky had climbed onto his shoulder and was sitting there contentedly, rubbing his cheek against Nick’s ear.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the adorable little sidekick. “Well, how could you possibly resist that face? Even if he does like to race around the house, testing my balance and reflexes.” Walking to the nearest cupboard, I opened the doors, looking for tableware.  I found a set of square, black dishes and matching mugs in the next cupboard over. These’ll do, I decided, and brought two plates to the table then hunted for some silverware.

Nick headed towards the wide staircase at the end of the hall, kitten still latched on to him. “I’ll go change really quick, then I’ll be down for lunch. Don’t feel like you need to wait, help yourself.”

I waited until Nick was out of site, and I could hear him treading across the carpet into his bedroom. When his door shut, I zipped over to the table, and immediately started flipping through the envelopes strewn across the tablecloth.

praying My heart beating out of my chest, I listened closely for any sound upstairs, and prayed that I could remember how the mail had been arranged so that he wouldn’t suspect that I’d been snooping through it.

Bill, bill, credit card offer, bill, ads…I glanced at his laptop case, debating. No, not right now, it’s just too risky. I’m sure I’ll have a chance another day. I picked up the last piece of mail on the bottom of the pile, a letter-sized manila envelope.

Reading the return address label, my hands began to tremble and my cheeks felt flushed.  I knew it—could this really be from who I think it is…?

Just then, the door upstairs opened, and I could hear Nick scolding the kitten. I frantically put the envelope back underneath the rest of the mail, and spread out the stack how they’d—hopefully—been tossed originally.

Choosing my seat at the table strategically, with my back to the stairs, I calmed my nerves and focused on not having a panicked expression.

Nick pulled back the chair across from me, now dressed in blue jeans and a casual Henley t-shirt. Smiling, he declared, “This looks perfect, Erica. I’m starving. Please, join me, no need for you to rush off yet. You’re scheduled for two more hours anyway.” He sat down and immediately started dishing out some pasta and using the salad tongs to serve himself a large portion.

Spooky, indicating that he was clearly suffering from immense thirst and starvation, was mewing at us insistently. He had followed at Nick’s heels all the way to the table.

“I fed you not that long ago, buddy,” I said to the kitty, which had no effect on his cries, but did allow me to further compose myself.

“Mr. Paga– Nick, I do need to run the dishwasher, and I haven’t finished folding the laundry. So, I’ll stick around to take care of that before going home for the weekend. Is there anything else you need this afternoon?” I looked at him expectantly, trying to avoid the sharp little claws that were stretching up to dig into my slacks.

Nick chewed and swallowed, putting down his fork. “Heavens, no. When you’re done, take off and enjoy your Friday night! Here,” he reached into his back pocket for his wallet, taking out a few bills. “I’ll pay you for today, then every Friday of each week, how’s that sound? And I insist that you eat with me before you go.” manpayingmoney2

As he handed me my wages, I opened my mouth to respond, and his cell phone trilled. I waited while he glanced at the screen. He stared at it for a moment, as if contemplating whether he wanted to answer the call or not. He looked up apologetically. “Sorry, I have to take this, but it should only be a minute.”

He pushed back his chair to stand up and swiped at the phone to stop it’s ringing. Putting it to his ear, he spoke to the caller in a business-like tone. “Stefano, it’s great to hear from you. Let me step outside.”

He strode toward the sliding glass doors that led to the back patio. Then, he stopped and pivoted around, walking back to the table. He proceeded to search through the mail, and selected a familiar manila envelope, taking it with him outside. As he was sliding the door closed behind him, I heard him say over the phone, “I’ve received the package in question, and will open it now.”

Stunned, I numbly added some pasta and salad to my plate, paying it little attention. I ate, not tasting the cucumbers and onions, but watching Mr. Pagano instead, trying not to look like I was.

Who was he talking to? How can I find a way to read what’s in that envelope? The weight of what I was here to do and the reasons why caused my throat to tighten and my jaw to clench.

When it appeared that he had ended the call, and was coming back inside, I stopped eating, having lost my appetite. Keeping my inner turmoil from showing on my face, I got up to clear my plate.

“Now, where was I?” Nick asked. “Right, lunch.” He resumed enjoying his meal, not looking the slightest bit concerned.

Clearing my throat, I faced him and spoke carefully. “Nick, cash payments once a week works fine for me, thanks. I think I’ll get busy now, so that I can get out of your hair sooner. Enjoy your lunch.”

He nodded, his mouth full, and waved me off.

I washed my hands, then headed towards the laundry room, on the other side of the pantry. My mind, filled with both apprehension and resolve, wandered through various scenarios and memories. Memories that I could never forget. Plans that I refused to alter.

blackkitty2

Spooky squeezed around me, and hopped into the basket full of warm shirts and towels, curling up to take his next catnap. I scratched his ears, pulled a bath towel out from under his tail and started folding.


-4/25/17-

Signs of life

punnysign

This sign happens to be outside a gas station in Seattle, which is the city I grew up in. Apparently they put up a new punny sign every week.


Project quote

“Ferdinand de Saussure was a well-known and influential Swiss linguist of the 20th century…Saussure classified language as a system of signs.” (Albert1990, 2017)

My thoughts

Most of us, including myself, have taken language for granted. Really, language is so complex and versatile. Without it, how would we tell stories so detailed that the reader can place themselves in the moment and see it clearly? Without language, how would we explain physics or program a computer, or write a moving poem?

I know I’m not the only person who thrives on word play, puns, and strategic comedy. Just a few things that would be impossible without language. I can’t imagine having to communicate purely by speech and pictures. The book The Handmaid’s Tale portrays a disturbing society where items at the grocery store are labeled with pictures only and women are not allowed to read. There were other disturbing things in the story of course, but for some reason, the thought of my intelligence being insulted and restrained gave me the cold chills. Comparable to only being able to text using emojis and emoticons…oh the horror!


Editing projects for week ending April 23, 2017

College essay, Thesis dissertation

Client countries: US, Canada


 

Wednesday’s Wafers II

Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series where I share some of my own recent writing.


flower Happy Spring! I hope you enjoy my short story below.


Ch. 1 Preparation by Karolyn H  —–  [Ch. 2] [Ch. 3] [Ch. 4]

preparation

She plucks the apron off the wall hook, and tips her head forward to fit the halter around her neck. She pulls her thick, brown hair back into an elastic scrunchy, then ties the two apron strings behind her back in an uneven bow. apron_strings

She bends down to pull open the cupboard door and reaches in to grasp the handle of a medium-sized pot. She carries it to the sink and twists the faucet handle to run the cold water.

Holding the stainless-steel pot under the steady stream, she watches the water splash. Her thoughts drift, a smile tugging at her lips. Secrets dance in her eyes.

The pot overflows, so she pours the excess water into the basin. Turning off the faucet, she picks up a towel from the counter, and dries the bottom and sides of the pot. She places it on one of the front stove-top elements.

Examining the knobs, she peers closer to see the symbol that shows which knob controls which element. A fly on the wall might wonder why, assuming she’d cooked on this range countless times before. She pushes in the knob, turning it to the highest setting, feeling it click into the groove.

lightbulb Walking to the far end of the kitchen, she steps into a small pantry, and pulls the cord hanging from the ceiling to turn on the single light bulb.

To her right, cans of soup and boxes of pasta are patiently positioned in haphazard rows, collecting dust until chosen. She ponders for a moment, tapping the tastefully manicured nails of her right hand on the shelf, then selects one of the boxes.

“Fusilli it is, then.” Turning off the light, she moves toward the stove and trips over a small black furry creature streaking between her feet.

“Spooky!” she tsked, “you’ll be the death of me yet.” Chuckling, she bends down to stroke the kitten who had returned to curl his tail around her ankle. He looked up innocently, his purrs rumbling loudly.

Steam was rising from the pot, as it had just begun to boil.

Swiftly, she pries open the box and empties its contents into the simmering water. A rebellious corkscrew-shaped piece escapes and lands on the linoleum, only to be captured and batted about by the playful predator.

She lowers the heat, and stirs gently with a slotted spoon for a few seconds. While the pasta cooks, she gathers a colander, two cobalt glass serving dishes and forks, along with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. bowl

Searching the refrigerator, she collects a few ingredients and sets them on the countertop next to the cutting board. Withdrawing a knife from its slot in the wooden block, she twists her wrist back and forth, watching the sunlight shining through the window play along the sharp edge.

She slices two cucumbers and one red onion into very thin slivers. After she’s finished, she sweeps the slices into one of the serving dishes.

In a small metal mixing bowl, she combines lemon juice, vanilla yogurt, fresh dill, a small portion of sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. After adding the mixture to the cucumbers and onions, she sets the serving dish in the fridge to chill.

The pasta should now be just about perfect, so she turns off the stove and removes the pot from the heat. She carefully strains the pasta, then transfers it to the second serving dish.

kitty Her tiny companion’s mewing is persistent, so she stops to feed him before continuing.

After adding a liberal amount of olive oil in a circular motion over the fusilli, she sprinkles salt, pepper and garlic powder on top. Satisfied, she then piles the dirty utensils and dishes into the kitchen sink.

The faint sound of tires in the driveway tickles her ears, and her pulse races in anticipation. She rushes to set both serving dishes of food on the round dining table covered with a pale-yellow tablecloth and white napkins.

She unties her apron and hangs it back on the hook. In front of the hall mirror, the slim, petite woman lets down her hair and inspects her reflection. Arresting eyes, whose color matches the shade of the serving dishes, express brief indecision. She wonders—not for the first time—who the woman gazing back at her really was.

A key turns in the lock, and she turns toward the sound. She runs her fingers through her hair and adjusts her blouse.

Game face on. Smile. I’m ready.


-4/18/17-