Hope It – Dream It- Cure It: Relay for Life

Photo courtesy of Chuck Woodcock
Photo courtesy of Chuck Woodcock. Plane flew over Relay for Life as relayers painted HOPE

Firstly, I apologize for my absence. Life happens.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life again. I was the team captain for The Rockin’ Entourage, a team made up of mostly my family and a few close family friends. I chose to do the relay for my senior community service project because of how much the event means to me.

Why do I relay? Originally my mom was part of a team called the Walk N’ Rollers. The team lasted for quite a few years and had even claimed the Top Fundraising Team for two years in a row. My mom had even claimed the prize of Top Individual Fundraiser in 2008. The team was put together because my brother’s aunt got cancer. Although she survived, she was near death many times and still suffers from the damage chemo and radiation did to her body.

Then on June 8 of last year my grand grandpa died of cancer at the age of 90. He was too old to undergo any treatment and he was given a window of the time he had to live. 

I signed up for the event and registered by the first team captains meeting. I was ready to help finish the fight and put an end to cancer. Then cancer struck back.

My journalism teacher, who is definitely one of the greatest people I have ever met, was diagnosed with cancer near the end of the school year. This came just months after another teacher at my school was diagnosed with cancer and had to take leave for the remainder of the year. He was okay, he took the last week of school off and had the cancer removed, but it was just a reminder for me that cancer can strike when you least expect it.

The relay itself was a joy as always. My team dressed up as 1980s hair band members and my tent site was decorated by stringing my family’s ’80s rock t-shirts together. We also made a team sign and sold Epic Donuts (thanks to my neighbors, the owners of Epic Donuts, for donating six dozen to us) and held a raffle on a massive bird house. Our efforts to compete in every spirit activity and to act silly paid off. 

We won Best Decorated Tent for our unique ideas. We didn’t win best baton, but our Aqua Net hairspray was pretty clever too. And, unfortunately, we didn’t win most spirited team, despite our 24-hours of running around the track in zebra-print pants and wigs while doing guitar solos to rock songs. It was still a fun event, and a very important fundraiser. We contributed nearly $2000 to the relay, which isn’t bad for a brand new team. 

I will never forget the Luminaria at the end of the first night, where we remember those who we have lost to cancer and recognize those who are still fighting or who have succeeded in their fight. I will never forget when we painted HOPE on the field and a plane flew overhead to take out picture. The Relay for Life is a very powerful thing.

I really recommend the Relay for Life experience to anyone who has been affected by cancer, or who knows someone who has. Even if you just want to help raise money or just show up to see what relay is all about, it is bound to be an exciting time.

Hope It – Dream It – Cure It. 

As the American Cancer Society puts it, “follow us to a world with more birthdays.” PASS HOPE ON.

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Gramophone records

There’s something about pulling the large, black vinyl records out of their sleeves that gets me every time. I place the large disc onto its spot in my turntable and manually move the needle to the start of the record. I push down lightly on the lever, watching the needle slowly make contact with the spinning disc and music begins to play from my large Sony stereo system.

Even at just 17 years old, I love the sound of vinyl records. There is nothing wrong with playing music from a CD, or through my 160GB iPod Classic, which by the way is nearly full. I use my iPod all the time, like I am now. But there is something about the genuine sound of vinyl records that seems superior, even more pleasant to listen to.

I only own three records: AC/DC’s ’74 Jailbreak, Def Leppard’s On Through the Night, and Cinderella’s Long Cold Winter. I admit to having all of these in their respective CD forms, but when I saw them at a local antique store I had to have them. Just over a week later I found myself at Target, purchasing my first turntable. What’s special about it, is that it can burn the vinyl records into digital MP3 files on my laptop.

All that I need, more records. Good thing my neighborhood’s twice-annual community garage sale is this weekend. Maybe someone will have a few crates of records I can look through, and at a good price as well. Then, I may hit up 6th Street Records in Tacoma to see what they have. My brother has always said that their deals are the best in the area.

Until next time, listen to some good tunes.

Camp NaNoWriMo: day two

Today marks the second day of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. I only have about 460 words so far, but I plan to write the first chapter of my novel today. My goal is to write 1000 words a day, despite my current recovery from getting my wisdom teeth out and my planned trip to San Diego next week without my laptop.

My experimental novel for this month is an Adventure/Thriller novel about a biker gang in Tacoma, Washington and their smart son who attends University of Washington- Tacoma to become an Urban Planner, called Sometimes Saints. This novel will allow me to expand on fight scenes, gore, and explicit context that are mostly nonexistent in my current novels.

What are you writing about?

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Camp NaNoWriMo April 2014

 

Tomorrow is the start of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, a day I have been anxiously awaiting since “winning” National Novel Writing Month in November. But for me, today marks the start of the writing frenzy. I don’t mean to “cheat” by starting early, but this decision comes out of necessity. 

Tomorrow I get all four of my wisdom teeth removed, which means I will be unable to write tomorrow or probably the following day. So, its really not cheating, more of just planning ahead. 

It will be a miracle if I reach my goal of 30,000 words. April is a busy month with recovery for my wisdom teeth, then a 4-day trip to San Diego next week for the National Scholastic Press Association/ Journalism Education Association national convention to take classes and participate in a write-off competition. I will not be taking my laptop with me because I am afraid it would be stolen by my roomates, 3 other students from my high school. These setbacks may prevent me from doing much, but that is okay.

Participant 2014 - Facebook Cover

Now for the good stuff: what am I writing? Well, I will be trying to write a genre and style I have never used before, so it should be interesting. In brief, the novel will be set in the City of Destiny: Tacoma, Washington, in the 2020s. It will follow the life of a young man attending the UW-T to become an Urban Planner, but his family is keeping his dreams from coming true. His family, of course, being members of a motorcycle club responsible for much illegal activity and corruption in the city. 

So this brings me to my conclusion, what is your favorite part of writing a novel? What is your favorite thing to see in a novel?

The Wall

The Wall scorched the man’s hand, flooding in around his rough flesh and trapping it there for the usual sequence. The man strained as he tried to pull away from the red field, veins popping out through his fit arms.

He knew there wasn’t much time.

He could feel his hand melting into the world beyond. It was like his skin had been pulled apart from the rest of his hand, and then cooked ‘well’ until the very blood turned into its gaseous form. He knew it was an illusion, but the pain was real.

He could recall that he had passed through The Wall many times before, each time worse than the one before. He couldn’t take it anymore: the unnecessary suffering, the draining of strength, and the quickening evolution of fear. He had to escape.

“Relax,” the familiar voice said from somewhere above. “You must be cleansed.”

“Cleansed? You call this cleansing?” He asked, spitting at The Wall. “I got something to tell you, I…agh!”

The pain from the current of electricity that had just passed through him caused him to partially collapse, hanging to the wall by his locked hand. He kicked at the wall, yelling in pain as his toes broke on impact. The rubber-toed shoes were completely stripped by the kick, The red Wall appearing to shimmer with delight.

“I bet you love that!”

The man had this all planned out. He wouldn’t take any more of it. “Hey, I’ve got somethin’ to say to you,” he began, reaching down for his black bag on the floor. “It’s a little song from the old days: we’re not gonna take it, no, we ain’t gonna take it…”

He opened the bag with his free hand, withdrawing a sharp, jagged rock. He raised it above his head and brought it down upon his wrist. He screamed as the pain rippled through his body, but he kept smashing at his wrist, warm blood trickling down his arm and dripping onto the floor. He couldn’t tell if the self-inflicted pain was better or worse than that of The Wall, but it didn’t matter.

He was free.

His hand remained inside the wall, melting as it passed through at a pace slower than a turtle. He began to laugh as he dropped the rock on the ground, looking at his crushed wrist. He turned to run, tripping over his bag as he headed through the corridors. The Wall howled in anger and the ground began to shake and bend.

I’m free!

He had become too weak to go any further. He collapsed to the ground, trying his best to crawl. He heard footsteps and a thousand screams. He felt lost and defeated, yet also victorious and found.

“Come and take me!”

Then the man was lifted by his feet, being hauled along the floor by cold hands. “You have expired. Protocol must be initiated.”

He felt a claw to his head, then a buildup of pressure. He let his mind wander as blood dripped from his nose. His eyes bulged and his ears began to ring. For the first time in his life, he actually wanted to live. But it was too late.

“Protocol requires that I take out the trash.”

It would be the last words the man would ever hear.

Slang Deluxe Edition

On February 11, the day after my birthday, Def Leppard reissued the album Slang as a deluxe edition. When I first heard the album a few years ago, when I first got into rock music, I was very disappointed. 2010 was a strange year. I had finally made the transition from being a die-hard county music fan to becoming a fully-fledged rocker. My favorite band at the time: Def Leppard. I had fallen in love with the band’s music after borrowing my brother’s 2-disc greatest hits, Rock of Ages, and quickly began to purchase their studio albums. On Through the Night, High ‘n’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, Adrenalize, and Retro Active were in my hands by that Christmas. The next two albums in chronological order were 1996’s Slang and 1999’s Euphoria. My brother owned the latter, but at the time I decided against downloading it to my iTunes because it sounded different. The same could be said of Slang. 

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I couldn’t stand the sound of the album when I decided to listen to it via YouTube and quickly considered it as one of the worst rock albums of all time. Released in 1996, the album was a radical departure from Def Leppard’s traditional glam metal sound made popular with 1983’s Pyromania and 1987’s Hysteria. The album was written during a dark time in the band’s career, following guitarist Steve Clark’s death in the early 1990s and the rise in Grunge music from my home metro area, Seattle. With a majority of the glam acts already being labeled as has-beens and long-time producer “Mutt” Lange out of the picture, the band saw an opportunity to express how they were feeling at the time. The result was a darker theme and more acoustic sounding album that went hand in hand with the ’90’s alternative rock scene. I often wondered if the band could have kept their popularity strong throughout the 1990s if they would have sticked to their heavy metal and glam metal roots that made them one of the best-selling artists of all-time.

After a while I began to accept more styles of rock music and appreciate much of the music that was put out during the ’90s. I gave Euphoria a second listen in late 2011 and decided to download it, noticing that it was an attempt by Def Leppard to reestablish themselves with their ’80s audience. It really didn’t differ much from their older collection, except for the more produced sound. I gave Slang another listen and grew to appreciate a few of the songs, but I still decided against making a purchase. Then in early 2013 I gave it yet another listen. This time, I realized that Slang is truly a masterpiece. While it sounds different than anything Def Leppard had done or has yet to do since, and lacked any major hits or good album sales, it still isn’t bad.

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Slang shows that Def Leppard can strip down the twin-attack-guitar technique and the cut out the metal hooks and still make some good rock music. Right from the start Truth? delivers a heavy, dark-themed punch that continues for much of the album. The backing vocals on the song are much “angrier” and less harmonized. Turn to Dust is probably one of my favorite songs from the album with the experimental instruments in the background and the powerful harmonizing vocals from singer Joe Elliot and the ‘good-ol’ boys. Slang is probably the most produced song on the album, although still more organic sounding than their earlier work. It also appears to be the one song on the album that doesn’t have a deep meaning, though I could be wrong. All I Want is Everything shows a side of Def Leppard no one knew existed before.

Overall, the album takes its place with the band’s earlier work as a great, flawless album through and through. With the exception of Euphoria, Def Leppard has yet to make an album since that matches its greatness (with the disappointing pop-album X  in 2002 and the so-so Songs from the Sparkle Lounge in 2008).

The Deluxe Edition also includes some drafts and rough/early mixes of the album tracks. Some of the drafts are actually quite good, such as Raise Your Love, an early version of Slang that may even be better. The album also includes some hard-to-find songs, such as Burn Out, which was released as a b-side for a single from Euphoria, Worlds Collide, All On Your Touch, Can’t Keep Away From the Flame, and Move on Up. 

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The Lost Souls: Part 2: Looking Glass

Sorry for the delay. I have had much going on lately, so I decided to post what I have of the second part to Initiation. It is a little rushed, but I will continue to work on the rest of this series.

North American Space Union, space station: Silver Mountain, orbit over Earth

May 2353

It should have been a sunny day. The swirling white clouds were avoiding the green conifer forests of western Washington, thundering upon the Oregon coast with what would soon be rain.

Correction, acid rain. It would definitely be acid, Ritchie thought.

He took the controls of the telescope, zooming in to the smoking ruins of his hometown. The skyscrapers were missing their upper floors and the network of freeways remained littered with cars and semi-trucks. Bullet trains and monorail cars were scattered along the vacant rails or smashed into the concrete below the viaducts like squashed watermelon. Worst of all, the bodies. Ritchie hated to spy on the resting places of dusty skeletons. The city’s bay was full of green and brown poison-water, dead fish beached along the sea walls.

Seattle.

Ritchie often wished he could go back to the time before the war, before those gray-skinned aliens arrived. That day was one he could remember clearly. A six-year-old boy, he was with his parents at Green Lake park learning to ride a bike. He had fallen a few times, on purpose, to get his parents to take him home. When that plan failed he sucked it up and began to ride on his own, which is when it all happened. The space ships entered the atmosphere and all hell broke loose. Life hadn’t been the same ever since.

“Doctor Scott, stop playing with the instruments and get back to work,” the voice on the intercom told him.

“Yes, sorry Sir.”

Ritchie watched the camera near the door stop beeping as the Captain stopped his spying. He turned the telescope off and stepped over to his messy work station, scattered across the tops of multiple tables. Test tubes were filled with a variety of liquids and substances that had been collected from the aliens. Scales and burners were placed around the workstation and data displayed lit up with plans, notes, and references.

It was Ritchie’s job to help what remained of human government to discover more about the aliens. That included alien technology, for which a separate workroom had been set up across the hall. Ritchie hadn’t been able to make any breakthroughs in understanding, and as a result he was in danger of being fired.

And in this day and age, being fired meant being returned to the dying planet below.

Ritchie had had some progress, however. He believed that he was getting close to understanding how aliens had been able to slip past human defenses without being detected during the invasion. His research just needed a final step. That step required funding and time, however. He knew the Captain would never approve of a mission to benefit his experiments, nor would he be able to convince what remained of the Earth Commonwealth government to grant him some. They had enough on their hands at the moment.

“Good day, Doctor,” an automated voice said as he began to work.

“Is it day?” Ritchie asked. “I seem to lose track of time out here, Terence.”

“So does everyone else, Doctor. Your work may have to be put on hold, I’m afraid. You are going to have some visitors.”

“Visitors? Who…”

“They are on their way.”

Ritchie couldn’t remember a time that Terence, the station’s artificial intelligence, was completely helpful to him. He tended to only have a presence in the station’s bridge and in the engineering sectors, leaving little time with doctor. When Terence did decide to pay Ritchie a visit they were usually very quick meetings with very vague conversations.

Still, Ritchie respected the AI. He couldn’t be sure if it was because of Terence’s endless pit of information or because he had control of the station’s life support and gravity systems.

As Terence had promised, there was a tap at the door and sound of it sliding open. It was followed by the sound of boots and the rustling of combat armor. The man, Ritchie assumed it was a man anyway, grunted to get his attention. Ritchie removed himself from his studies and walked over to the man.

“What can I do for you?”

The man removed his black helmet to reveal his dirty, hairy face. “We have a wounded man. Captain said you could help us.”

“Well, don’t keep the man waiting. Bring him in,” Ritchie said.

“It’s not that simple,” the soldier explained. “He isn’t one of ours. We found him on that incoming cruiser. I’m afraid that you will have to come to him.”

Ritchie followed the soldier just outside the door and across the hall into the sick bay. The station’s medical team was out on a supply run on the Earth’s surface, leaving only Ritchie to deal with the medical duties. The man from the ship was strapped to an operating chair and surrounded by a dozen or so armed soldiers, including a few bear-like guards.

Cherjiks, he thought in disgust. They sure aren’t letting him go easily.

The man’s face was bloodied and his clothes were stained. His armor had been stripped off and piled on the floor and his shirt ripped in various places. His black hair was dripping with sweat and his face had concerned written all over it.

As Ritchie entered one of the men stepped before him. He was wearing a black helmet and visor, but Ritchie felt a chill run through him as he looked where his eyes would be.

“Finally!” The man spat. “Took you long enough doc. I thought you would already be in the sick bay.”

“My apologies,” Ritchie said. “I was not aware of the situation. I was just focusing on my research duties?”

“Research?” The man laughed. “I thought your name was Doctor Richard Scott.”

Ritchie nodded. “No matter, I will take care of the patient.”

The soldiers began to file out of the room, leaving only Ritchie, the man, and the patient. The man took one last glance at the patient before pointing a finger within the “too close for comfort” radius of Ritchie’s face.

“Don’t let him do anything stupid.”

The man rushed out of the room and sealed the door behind him, leaving the room silent, except for the light sound of the ventilation system and the hum of the station’s mechanisms. Ritchie approached the man, many questions burning through him.

“I am Doctor Scott, but you can call me Ritchie. I will be tending to your wounds. Now, please hold still.”

Dreams that remain

Sorry for the gap in posts. I have been finishing up another short story that should be posted in the next few days. For now, you can read some of my reflections.  

Have you had those dreams that seem exceptionally long? How about those dreams that feel real and carry more detail than usual? I had one of those nights. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with what has been going on lately, but it seems like a likely candidate.

As it has been for the past two weeks I had some discomfort with going to sleep. I keep trying to blame it on my ear piercings but I doubt that is the cause. Its like my pillow has betrayed me. No matter which way I try to sleep or how many times I flip the pillow over or try to fluff it out a bit I can’t find comfort. I also had a few thoughts on my mind, but that wasn’t what was keeping me from sleeping. January 29 was going to be Culture Day in Spanish 2 and I had to give a presentation. I hadn’t prepared, but I knew I would do fine anyway. I was very knowledgeable on the subject. 

Eventually, I did find my way slipping through the cracks to the sleeping world sometime after 10:15 PM. I am not one to usually have dreams. I know, my psychology friends would kill me for saying that. Fine, I am unable to recall most of my dreams when I wake up. It wasn’t one of those nights. My dream was one of those long-lasting, vivid ones that feel real. Even though everything was twisted from what it should be, as are with dreams, it felt real. The fact that the dream took place on January 29 definitely helped with that. 

Upon waking up to the loud and obnoxious beeping of my alarm clock at 5:25 AM this morning I could recall the dream very well. Waking up almost startled me to be honest. But the important thing about this dream isn’t that it happened, it is what I am going to do with it. The dream provided me with a foundation for a future novel or novella. What happened in that dream will remain between me and my ideas journal for now. 

The dream almost succeed in escaping from its cage within my mind while my attention was turned elsewhere. I was supposed to write it down, but it had led me to forget. I went through the last day of the semester at school without even thinking of the dream, even when a discussion about dreams had been brought up. But now I have it and I am not going to lose it.

I have lost too many dreams. 

Out my past door: Volume One

This is the first part of a collection of short stories and flash fiction that I wrote a while ago. The ones you are about to read were written when I was in the ninth grade. As promised in an earlier posting, I found them in my ninth grade files. I had forgotten that some of these entries even existed. I am posting them just as they were found, grammar errors and everything. 

~Chase~

Darkness: Written February 6, 2012. I wrote this in 20 minutes during a free write time. I remember sharing this one to the class.

The world was silent. The crimson lightning struck into the distant hills, obliterating a piece of Earth that would never return. The boney trees spoke of death that frightful night, something they know much too well. A thick black mist shrouded the base of the hill like a barrier to the good in the world. The howls of wolves sounded in the night, screaming of hunger: something they know much too well. Even the careless settlers in Angark’s Hollow were fearful of the night, something new and frightening. The great wizard  tried to calm the town, promising a better tomorrow, but not one soul calmed down. How could you when you just witnessed the cold, dark face of the reaper?

Misfortune: Written February 13, 2012. I believe this was an in-class prompt and we had to use the word lugubriousness. I don’t remember writing it, but I do remember reading it aloud one time to someone. 

In the land of Charunte, you may not know, there is a man with a cat, who always wears a hat, and loves to bat when you step on his mat. Silly you say? I say ridiculous! The man is a fake, a different person in the real world than who we see.

You may have seen him by the lollipop tree, waving his pink hat to spread joy. You may have heard him whistle a tune from his smiling lips. You may have even watched him boot scoot boogie with his neighbors. But alas, you have only seen his mask. Let me tell you how he really feels.

That man is a misfortune. He spends his solemn nights alone. Alone, due to an irreversible mishap. Due to his lugubriousness, he weeps into his pillow, hoping to lock himself out of this truly cruel world, from the world that killed his wife. From the world, he watched, as his wife died.

Insanity: Written February 13, 2012. I don’t remember anything about this one, but it was interestingly written on the same day as Misfortune. 

Mirror, Mirror, oh how you saved me

Saved me from myself

Oh how you helped me

See the best of myself

Mirror, Mirror, oh how you have saved me.

You can stop talking to your friend.

That mirror isn’t real, its inanimate.

Listen to me, I am you and you are me.

The world likes you best with your insanity.

The Lost Souls: Part 1:Initiation

Here is a little something that I recently wrote. Science Fiction is not my usual genre, so this is a bit experimental. Enjoy!

Initiation:

It’s time to start again. It’s time to breathe in the air that has been long forgotten, much like the past. He knew it was time. The internal mechanisms of his mind had been calibrated to recognize the thaw command since birth. His mind was soaring over the glittering cerulean oceans of Earth, through the steel and glass towers along the sandy coasts, and the dense leafy forests along the edges of mountains. The images were of a dream, but also a memory. He had never visited the blue planet before, but someone else in his mind had. Someone he couldn’t remember. It was a dream he had grown familiar with, even comfortable. His memory was slowly flooding back: his identity, his mission, his personality.

Leviath. That was his name. He began to sense reality again, his eyes flickering open to the blinding glow outside. Vapor swirled around him, condensing on the thick glass wall before him. He threw his numb hands on the glass, acting on an instinct mankind had always known—trying to escape from the cage. The cryo-tube was just large enough to house his body.

He began to bang at the glass, but his body was too weak. A voice came through the tube’s speakers, although it sounded electronic. It was a woman’s, and very monotone.

“Thawing complete. Starting welcome initiation.”

Leviath began to remember where he was. He was on board a space cruiser or part of it at least. His team had been sent on a mission to scout out a nearby galaxy, or at least his ancestors. He had been born during the return trip, just after they were attacked by an alien race. There had been much bloodshed and communication with Earth had ceased. The slip space engines had been disabled and the ship torn apart. He had entered into cryo-sleep when he reached 30 years of age. How long he had been frozen was unknown to him.

He was wearing a helmet with a visor, which came to life with monitors and controls as the voice spoke again.

“Welcome committee complete. Initiation complete. Preparing for extraction.”

The glass lid began to squeak open and the hiss of gas release hurt his eyes. His skin ached like hell, but he found the urge to life himself up and out of the living casket.

He entered into a bright room, three levels of cryo tubes strapped to the pale walls. The black metallic floor clanked as his combat boots made contact. An observatory box hung partially suspended above him, although he couldn’t see anyone through the tints. The room was empty of life, the only audible noise being the hum of machines and the beeping of computers.

Someone should be here, he thought. I wasn’t alone when I went to sleep.

He stretched a bit, his muscles stinging as he reviewed his cryo status on a nearby data display.

  • LEVIATH INITIATED. SYSTEMS ONLINE. MONITORS ONLINE. EXTRACTION ENGAGED.
  • CRYO BAY 5 MANUAL OVERRIDE INITIATED.
  • WAKE STATUS—SLEEP TIME—23 YEARS—10 DAYS—15 HOURS—31 MINUTES.
  • WAKE-UP STANDBY. OVERRIDE. SECURITY LOCK DISENGAGED.
  • MANUAL OVERRIDE—PASSCODE—EARTH BOUND.
  • 98743127601.981.27.5—LOCATION RECOGNITION—0. AUTOMATIC SYSTEMS OFFLINE. MANUAL SYSTEMS REQUESTED.
  • CRYO BAY 5

23 years! He thought, how can anyone possibly stay alive for that long in frozen sleep?

But one detail startled him. He was manually thawed. It wasn’t like his crew not to send welcoming party. He began to head for the automatic door, which’s sensors were already glowing blue for unlocked. That’s when he heard the rattling.

The first thumps and rattles clanged against the door outside. It was like claws scratching against the metal and the pounding of the wall. Leviath’s heart pounded quickly as he raced for the keypad, punching in a command that locked the door. A titanium blast shield slammed into place as he backed away.

Clearly not the welcoming committee, he thought.

He made his way to the back of the room and peeled the metal blinds open to peer out the window. He knew what he saw from his dreams.

A planet with blue oceans and white whisks of clouds spread out below the ship. Green land masses bordered the seas like a multi-colored marble, but it differed slightly from his dreams. A great column of gray clouded a good portion of the globe, the red glow of fires visible at its base. Glittering objects floated in the planet’s orbit, space junk, and lots of it.

He had little time to consider what was happening. Heavy thuds slammed against the blast door. It began to bend and glow orange like the embers of a fire as the titanium melted. He heard the scattering of clawed feet and the thumps of heavy boots. A bright light blinded him and he felt something slam against him. His knees gave way as he collapsed to the ground. His vision faded in and out as he felt a swipe to the face, his helmet breaking off from his head like glass. Then he felt a punch. He could taste his blood as it drained into his mouth, filling in the spaces between his teeth.

He could see a blurred movement in front of him as he tried to crawl across the plated flooring. A foot pinned him to the ground. He planted his face into the metal, hoping it would end soon. A clawed hand gripped into his head and pulled his face up to view his captors.

A man dressed in dark armor and a slightly tinted visor smiled. He was surrounded by a group of bear-like creatures who gripped some sort of gun, which pulsed with an orange glow. As if they, too, were living.

“Welcome to Earth,” the man greeted him. He bent down and offered his gloved hand. Leviath took it, but felt the cool barrel of a gun at his bloodied head.

“I hope you enjoy your stay.”

“Please,” Leviath managed. “Don’t kill me.”

“No?” The man questioned him. His finger was on the trigger, squirming as if trying to intimidate Leviath. A shot rang out and a flash of orange momentarily lit up the room. It was followed by another shot, brain matter splattering the walls and floors. The man felt satisfied.