Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Until the Game is Over

Cedric wiped the blood from his stiletto onto one of the few patches of his ragged cape not already caked with pixelated gore. He closed his eyes. It would be a couple of turns before the enemy reinforcements caught up with him.
“I’m still alive, you know,” said Kyra, huddled in the corner of the small, nondescript room.
“And you have, what, one point of health left? I’m all out of potions.”
“Step away from the door. I can still eliminate a few of them before she stops beating herself up for making a bad play and starts the game back up.”
Cedric laughed. “What’s the point? Even if they eliminate us both, she’s going to reset the game eventually, and maybe not the next time, but at some point she’s bound to get us through this chapter alive.”
“You know, she’ll win the game soon,” said Kyra, sighing. “There are only four chapters left. When we reach the end and get to live out our virtual lives in virtual peace, I don’t want to have to remember myself dying without a fight a billion more times.”
“How do you know you’ll even make it to the end?” Cedric said. He heard shouting from beyond the short hallway where his Lord unit had recently fallen, causing the “Game Over” for the player.
“She always resets when someone’s eliminated.”
“In Easy and Normal modes, yes. But this is Hard mode. She may not be so willing to reset the game from now on without Lady Rosa being taken down.”
“Do you really think she’ll quit after this round?” Kyra asked. “Last time, when she waited a month to start playing on Hard mode, I’d thought maybe, just maybe she’d let us be without coming back for the final challenge.”
Cedric shrugged his shoulders. “Look on the bright side, if she goes for round two and you’re lost during this playthrough, you’ll be revived.”
“True.” Kyra shuddered. “Have you ever talked to Barlo about what it was like, being gone—totally wiped from existence—until she switched game modes, after his sudden but inevitable betrayal?”
“Serves Barlo right, betraying us again and again.” Cedric tried to sound serious, but he couldn’t help but put up a half-smile. It wasn’t like Barlo could do anything about the game’s storyline. He had to betray them, every time.
“It’s scary, being slaves to the game, you know, Cedric?”
The duo’s pursuers dashed into view, unwieldy lances swinging. “We don’t want to kill you,” one said.
“Neither do I,” said Kyra. She frowned as she gripped her Electricity tome in one hand and forced its energy out of her other hand twice, reducing the first enemy soldier to three points of health.
Cedric drew a dagger and jabbed it into the weakened man’s chest. He disappeared.
The first of the surviving enemies stepped up and thrust his lance where Cedric’s lightly-armored torso had been just before he’d deftly leapt aside. He stabbed at the soldier in return a couple of times with his dagger. The other enemies stepped forward, waiting their turn to face off against the Level 7 Rogue.
“I should level up this time,” said Kyra. She switched out her Electricity tome for a Blaze tome and eliminated the wounded Level 15 soldier with a lofted fireball. “Yep.”
“What did you get?” asked Cedric. He switched his dagger out for his stiletto and hurled it at the enemy two squares away. It appeared back in his hand, virtually bloodied.
“Just Magic and Skill. I’m a little disappointed, but I won’t get to keep them anyway.”
The Voice of the Game boomed from on high: “Nope, sorry. But she just turned the game back on, so you might have a chance at better stat changes. You two appear in the first cut-scene in 3…2…1…”
Kyra and Cedric shook hands as the world faded to black.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Life Update

I’m going to be brief right now, but I’ll hopefully give more updates later. Anyway, I’m getting married on February 29. Also, I start my second semester as a student and GTA at West Virginia University next week. I’m in WVU’s MA English program. Life is good. God bless.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

It's Been a Long Time, And I Guess I Have a Lot to Say

Some days, I don't do much. Some days, I just free-fall down social media, video games, and Netflix. Sure, I might get some audiobook listening tucked in there, and maybe I have an important conversation at some point during the day. But, overall, it's just a bust. Some days, I'm tired, and I don't know how to get out of it.

More often than not, I have deadlines that I can use to keep me on the right track. I get in some 12+ hour days. I write six or ten-page papers all at once. I slog through four hours of reading in French to stay afloat, at the end of an otherwise-full day. Other days, I crash a little, put in four hours of work and just rest, but it's okay, because I've already gotten forty hours in as of Monday and it's only Friday. The essential work gets done. It's all the extra stuff that gets the shaft. Like blogging. This blog's been rolling over in its coffin for years now.

Tomorrow I'll be submitting my last grad school application to WVU. I've sent in seven so far, to six different schools: Penn State, Pitt, U of Toronto, OSU, William & Mary, and UPenn. To simplify things, I'll say that I'm applying to programs in English or Comparative Literature. I'd like to study one of three things: American literature from the past two centuries, the literature of the long 19th century in America and/or Britain and/or Northern Europe, or the literature and culture of the medieval period. I'll give more specifics when I find out what I'll be doing come the fall.

I might get some responses very soon. If I'm accepted into OSU's PhD program in Comparative Studies, I could know this week, based upon response dates of other years. OSU's PhD program in English sent out their acceptances on January 24th last year, so I could hear from them in the next two weeks. There are no guarantees. I have a good application, but I don't have a Master's degree, nor do I speak more than two languages, and even though you can apply for a PhD without those things, they're very helpful to have in order to compete. There's also always the possibility that I could be rejected by a program simply because they don't need any more students with the sorts of research interests that I've expressed. Or maybe they just don't care about my interests in general. I have been a little bit courageous with my personal statements/letters of intent.

This is looking to be an annoying semester. But on the bright side, there shouldn't be a huge amount of work involved. I'll be tutoring again several hours per week, a job I began last semester, yet that isn't particularly draining most of the time, and sometimes I quite enjoy it. I can generally look on the bright side of life, especially when I'm nice and busy.

After a few years there of solid progress on my walk with the Lord, I'm starting to stagnate in my faith. Some days, I even doubt a little, though I always overcome those doubts in short order. I believe. It's more than just "who I am," it's everything that I am; it's the truth which binds the universe together. I shall not fear, except to fear the Lord.

Yet, some days, I am afraid. I'm afraid of what's going to happen when I leave home. I'm afraid of what I'll have to do if I don't get into grad school. I'm afraid of personal, day-to-day failures. I'm afraid of all of these and more. But I shouldn't be. Anxieties hour-to-hour are expected, good for progress, helpful for focus. Fears, on the other hand, rattle the foundation of faith and strength and truth.

I won't say that I ever feel alone, but I do feel lonely sometimes. I'm 21.5, and I haven't been on a date in over four years. Some of that is me being careful, because I don't want to enter into any relationship that I don't think could last. A lot of it is either God testing me or bad luck. Or maybe it's a combination of both. I haven't always been single from lack of trying.

I know that the common expectation is that you need to be content with singleness, and I believe that to a certain degree, but I also believe that God made most of us to be a part of a couple, and I know that I want to be one of those people. I know that it's God's will which matters far more than my own, but I still keep up the effort, searching. I'll be honest here: I want to be a professor, but before anything, anything at all, I want to be a father. And I'll take as many children as the Lord will give me. I already have a list of names ready.

Some days I feel like all of those hours that I spend with my wheels spinning, churning in the mud, could be remedied if I could just be in a loving relationship again. It's so freeing, being able to bear your soul to someone in that way. There's just no parallel outside of infrequent moments of intense connection with the Lord. And I always felt like I was closest to the Lord when I was talking to my ex (the one I dated for more than four days, though less than thirty-two). I want to feel like that again (with someone else, of course).

Some days, I just feel broken. I know that I shouldn't, and yet I do. Most of the time, I can claw my way into some sense of productivity. I'm doing all right. But I'm living far from my full, God-granted potential. I don't really understand this struggle, but I continue on with it. What else is there to do? More often than not, I absolutely love my life, even if I'm frequently upset with myself because of the extra work I leave undone. Some days are better than others. And I know that every day, God is pouring his abundant love down on me, and He's telling me that it's okay. It's going to be all right. Your sins are forgiven. Your inadequacies are wiped away. Just give Me what you have, son. Not just some days, but every day.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

As Tar and Soot

It's been a while. Yeah. College got pretty busy, and the blog was one of the first things to go this time around, unfortunately. I'm back today with one last link from my Planetside Literary project. Here is my sci-fi flash fic "As Tar and Soot." I'll hopefully have some new content for this blog in the near future. Maybe. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Starting Locations For Sci-Fi Novels

Today, I'll be leading you toward a Google Maps essay that I made for Digital Magazine Production last semester (you should be seeing a pattern in my posts of the last few months, haha). It takes you around the globe for small blurbs on various science fiction novels from the past two hundred years or so.