Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dying a Skeptic–Death of a Ghost Hunter Film Review

 

Death of a Ghost Hunter starts slowly, where we see the murders of the family and a girl in the house by the wife. Then it switches to the ghost hunter who is talking on her journal.  After meeting with the house’s owner she gets a team to investigate. They are there for a while and the characters go as follows:

Seth Masterson, the owner of the house. He calls Carter and refuses to enter the house. He was in maybe all of three scenes, so getting a clear idea of Cordan Clark’s abilities is impossible.

Yvette Sandoval, the slutty writer who gets high with the camera man. She’s there to write a little story about the entire thing for the local paper. Davina Joy did a decent job showing a writer’s curiousity and obsession with knowledge.

Mary Young Mortenson, an overly religious girl who isn’t all that believable. She comes across as being overly religious, but is said to be a fanatic. The acting in this girl’s case was under done. I would have gone a step further. Lindsay Page could have done a better job.

Colin Green, the camera man who hopes for a glimpse at the supernatural. Mike Marsh did a phenomenal job playing a sinful man who smokes and does pot. I think that he did a good job.

Carter Simms, a investigator into all things supernatural. She’s one of the skeptical ghost hunters and she makes it clear from the very beginning. Patti Tindall does a good job showing fear and curiosity, but I really do think that she needed to step down a notch during the fight scene. She could have also been mistaken for the fanatic if she hadn’t been talking about things in her field. Leave that out and you have a fanatic of sorts.

The set was well done. It was obviously someone’s actual house because they had such a low budget, but it was well done. Getting pictures made up would be easy enough, as would some of the props. The chains looked real in coloring, but on closer inspection they looked like they might be foam. The sex helmet would be easy to build and set up as well as make a shallow book.

The music was suspenseful when it’s perfect timing and unassuming when it was necessary. The special effects were obviously cheap, but well done. It was so amazingly well done that I actually had to take a closer look at the special effects. The blurred out apparitions was a little obviously played with in photoshop, however.

Timing had a bit of an issue. It took too long to get into the important actions. When you are establishing a timeline in a movie, especially in the last two decades, you show what happened in the past. Then, you show your main character and get a bit of the backgrounds. Afterwards, you get everyone together immediately. Having Carter interview the housekeeper before the group got there was too soon.

The characters had one major flaw: they trusted Mary Young’s words. Carter should have double checked everybody’s names with Seth because a true skeptic would not take anyone at their words. Later, when its obvious, they don’t actually call the police like they should have. They should have also paid more attention to the girl who had obviously become possessed by Mary Beth. As soon as she started acting weirder than she had been before they should have gotten the hell out of there. Of course it was possible that hindsight after she died, as hindsight is twenty-twenty.

The ending was incredibly predictable. I mean it was obviously residual hauntings going on and it was obvious that Mary Young was the daughter of Miranda and the father of the family. As soon as Miranda came in and there was a mention of the baby in the police reports (I think). It was obvious to us, anyway. Dramatic irony for the win, by the way.

I give Death of a Ghost Hunter 4 out of 5 stars.


Breaking through Writer’s Block

The following tips are a combination of the best techniques online as well as what helps me out.

Listening to music

  1. I find that if I can’t figure out what to write I will often pull of Pandora and just listen to the kind of music my characters would listen to. Sometimes I make a list of what bands who would like who.

                                                              i.      i.e: Li-On likes Halestorm, Linkin Park, Seether, Puddle of Mudd, Paramore, and Evanescene.

                                                            ii.      i.e: Hyun prefers Seether, Evanescene, Christina Aguilera, and BoA.

An Outline

  1. I know that everyone says to use a full outline, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really help. A set outline doesn’t help me write, which is why I’ve often just waited until I’ve finished a paper in school to write one. However I have found that if I can’t write something I do skip a head with a few chapters, staying two or three ahead and have two things I want to happen mentioned in brief details. Patty gave me this idea.

                                                              i.      i.e: Chapter Eleven-Rehabilitation of Hyun and Li-On + August Jones makes an appearance.

  1. Writing Excercises
    1. Noticing that I often grow tired of writing my novel, I’ll take a chance to take a breather and write something else. I did that yesterday, actually. I wrote a review of the new show Alcatraz and put it up on my online writing portfolio.  I found that I wasn’t bored with writing my novel any more.
    2. www.wordclay.com says to “Take a few minutes, step away from the project that has you sweating, and write something for fun. These exercises can range anywhere from using a word randomly selected to detailing the dream you had the previous evening to the quirky how-did-this-green-umbrella-get-in-this-room explanations.”

                                                              i.      I’m giving you homework to relax by:

                                                                         i. Take the following words and create a piece with them:

                                                                                1. Bicycle,

                                                                                2. Pizza,

                                                                               3. Needle,

                                                                               4. Cow,

                                                                               5. Boo

Your Audience

  1. If you haven’t picked who you’re writing to, you might want to figure it out. Your audience (or in my case my roommate) wants to find out what’s going to happen just as much as you do. If its not fun, then they aren’t going to find it fun, so yes add the random brothel until absolutely necessary. You’ll be able to figure it out.

Set Reasonable Writing Goals

  1. On the days you have absolutely no inspiration, don’t set your goals quite so high. Don’t expect to get ahead on those days. Just try to get the 1667 words you need or if it’s less to get to the next day’s goal, reach that. Don’t try to write 3000 words if you just aren’t inspired.

Move Around

  1. As writers, we end up spending about 95% of the time sitting in front of a computer, staring into the screen. Try getting up and moving around. Even a few minutes to walk around the local park or garden can get your blood moving. The more blood you move around your body, the more gets sent to your brain.

Rest Hours!

  1. Since this is a nanowrimo sort of class, you can’t really give it a rest for a day or two, instead take a couple of hours and do something fun. Do something that’ll get your blood pumping or cooled, depending on what you’re writing.

A Buddy System

  1. Just like when you were on a field trip and needed a “buddy” you need one on the road to the finished product. Use another writer or a critique group (coughcoughourclasscoughcough) to push through the block. You need someone who will be professional about your work, so friends don’t work unless they are also hardcore writers.

Warm Up

  1. Takes some time—outside of class and before you start your night writing—to free-write. Its just taking some time to put down whatever comes to mind. Its warm-up and might only be used as such, but you might write something that’ll give you a boost in your novel.

Flexibility

  1. You have to be absolutely willing to scratch out or burn ideas, sections, or even chapters that aren’t working. This can help you break the block and start writing again.

Thank you for reading and if you want more information my sources are below.


Alcatraz Premeire-Review

If you have not seen Alcatraz’s pilot, then do not read this article unless you want spoilers.

 

Alcatraz Notes to write review

The first episode starts with a voice-over of the information that we heard in the trailer for the TV show. As the voice-over speaks we approach Alcatraz by boat. Two men get off and something is obviously wrong. The guy that looks like Tobuscus says something and it starts a conversation for while before they go inside to find it pretty much empty. The voice over comes back and to be honest I can’t tell if the set of the old Alcatraz was actually Alcatraz, which would be ridiculous because there would not be that many people allowed to film in the prison itself.

We flash to the present where a little girl finds a man in one of the solitary confinement cells. The man seems disoriented and on the boat he opens the guide book to reveal a picture of himself. Is name is Jack.

Another flash back finds us with dear Jack following procedures until he is called out by a man in a suit. Guards tear about his cell and the deputy warden “finds” a weapon, though its obvious that he placed it there himself.

Not sure how much later we meet the main character chasing down a perp before we go to where she’s sitting with her boss. Apparently they need to give her a new partner. She’s called out because of a homicide of E.B. Tiller, a fed. The feds take over, giving us the Jurassic Park star Sam Neill as the main fed, and she sneaks off with evidence. Jack is the one who did it, big surprise.

Another flashback to Jack in solitary confinement where he isn’t sprung when he should be, then he’s back in the present with a key to a locker room and a gun. Then, we join Detective Madison in a bar where she speaks with an expert, played by a very slim version of a castaway from lost and his hair is still long and curly. They go to Alcatraz where we learn that the department Madison works for gave her a lock pick. Oh, yeah, that was smart. Then someone throws in one of those bombs that knock you out, whatever they’re called. I’m entertained by Neill’s performance when Madison wakes up.

Aparantly there is a secret lab under Alcatraz, run by Neill’s character. They learn that the transfer and death certificate for Jack Sylvane were bogus and he is too young for the amount of time he was supposedly alive. Much confusion ensues. Back in the past Jack’s blood is taken out and he speaks to another inmate by the number of 2002. Jack kills some cops before a Barkley Flynn is introduced. Jack commits another murder and runs off with a key in a soft, black bag.

The cops arrive on scene and find the dead Flynn. They find out that Jack’s wife remarried to his brother and Jack goes after him. The police break in after Jack left with his brother and left his nephew tied up. Madison finds Jack at his wife’s grave and points a gun at him. Jack is arrested.

Madison is invited to join Neill in his quest that he’s been on since he was a kid. Madison learns her grandfather was an inmate, not a guard at Alcatraz.

The acting was splendid and I was charged with electricity to know that Sam Neill was in it, since I love Jurassic Park. The dialogue was realistic and not just something they pulled out of their asses. The best thing was that they sent Jack to an exact replica of Alcatraz underground. It was awesome. The first episode got me hooked and I can’t wait until I can watch every single one. You can find the link to this episode here. It had a great pace, though the suspenseful music was a bit much in places.

I give the Alcatraz pilot 4 out of 5 stars.


Awakening the Red Hood Chapter Two Part Two Excerpt

 

“How do you know that name?”

“He left me a message. Now who is he?”

“Hyun is our teki. He runs the Ookami.”

Ookami?” I asked, walking over to a wall and leaning against it.

“The Lycans. They are the jin who were genetically engineered to fight us in World War three. Ainiku we are now in World War four,” Carolina said, pulling out a cigarette. Xia lit it for her as she took her first drag. I looked at the wreckage of the kitchen and sighed. There was food everywhere, with the gray mush stuff we had to eat on every surface of the room.

“What will we do?”

“Relocate whatever the jigoku we can to the other mess hall. Our people may have to relocate you if it is too chikushoo far,” Carolina responded, taking a puff from her smokes. “Get to work.”

I looked at the equipment that had been damaged and the one that had not been and noticed a difference. The damaged stuff had warnings about radiation.

“Doctor, is this what we need to make the special food for us?” I asked indicating to the destroyed equipment.

Kuso! Hai.

“Damn.”

Hai. Well, I will contact the lab. I know they have something. Kuso!” she cursed before running out the door. We could still hear her swearing for a good twenty minutes before it was suddenly cut off.

“The lab is air tight. It is also soundproof. We will not be able to hear anything from inside and they will not be able to hear us,” Xia said, patting me on the back before suggesting that we return to our rooms. I agreed instantly. They started with me, but I noticed when I reached Xia’s room that they had not come with me. I shook my head and ran to my room.

“Poor, poor little girl. Bu li da by your people. Stupid little girl, why do you bother?” I heard Hyun’s voice in my head again. I shook my head and crawled onto bed, ignoring the hunger pains I had. Carolina appeared in my head a few moments before I turned to find her standing in the door way.

Asagohan is being prepared. I’ll take you to the mess hall now,” she said. I nodded and rose from the bed to walk towards her. She led me along a path that was twisty, turny, and confusing. When we arrived I was glad to sit down and stop the dizzy spell that attacked my head when we were walking.

“Li-On, you know that you are only good for this government as long as you act the way you did today, right?”

“I know. That is the thing about government. If you are not useful you get thrown out. I was wondering if it would be possible to see the sun?” I asked.

“No. It is not. We have been stuck in a snow storm for the entirety of this war. It is not our fault and nor is it the fault of our enemies. It is just so jigoku messed up here on Earth. I wonder how Venus is doing.”

“Why would you wonder about Venus?”

“My sister moved up there to be part of the MMA on the planet,” she responded. “I have not heard from her since then. The only thing in common the two countries have is that we both have severed all ties to Venus.”

“Maybe if our side connected with them again we could win the war and not have it go on forever and ever,” I said, staring at the table top. When I glanced at where Carolina stood she was gone. Twenty minutes later she returned with Xia, Shia Shia, and Kim.

“Sit down girls. Another juppon and you all will be able to eat.”

“Fine,” Xia growled before sitting across from me. The other girls followed suit. We sat in silence the entire ten minutes and I could not figure out how to break the ice. They seemed to be annoyed with me, but I was not sure why. Carolina delivered the food to us and I grimaced at the gray mush.

Since it was apparent the other girls were not going to talk to me I finished my food in a record hour. When Carolina stopped by to check on us she recognized that it was time for me to return to my room.

We walked out in a stormy silence, but I kept my head up straight until we got to my room. Then, I laid on the bed and fell asleep.

I dreamed or saw Hyun again, but after our encounter in the old mess hall. He was bleeding from his chest and one of his pack was laying on the ground, prostate. He was begging for forgiveness from his leader.

“You scratched me as we left. Do you know what you have done? They may be able to find us now. Do you want ju gut?” he asked the man on the ground before taking a seat in a throne made of ice.

“My gwe jok, I beg for your forgiveness. I did not mean to scratch your ah reum da oon body. My liege, I was just trying to push in front of you in case she fired her chong,” he begged, not raising his head even a centimeter. I could tell he was getting snow in his mouth and nose, but he would not move.

I sashayed towards him, closer so that I might touch him. One of Hyun’s servants was placing hot clothes on the wound to soak up the blood as another waited with a bandage. I did not believe that he knew I was there. If he did he would have forced me out, so I walked to his throne and stared into his face. His green eyes stared out at his people and his cheeks sloped angelically. His brow was attractively hardened and his chin was strong. He was handsome, but I did not think he was worth doing anything about. I thought that he was far too dangerous.

The crowd stared at the prostrated man as he begged. At a nod from Hyun they started throwing rocks at him with all of their strength. He ducked his head under his hands and endured each of the hits to his back and legs. The rocks barely missed his head and his feet. Next thing I knew someone had rushed forward and shoved a knife into his back. He arched up, trying to push himself away and into the snow, but someone took aim. When they released the rock, it hit him in just the right spot, killing him instantly. I gasped in shock and rushed forward to make sure he was okay. He was dead when I got to him. Sighing, I turned to the king. He motioned to the crowd and a man stepped forward.

“Do you need a new one, my gwe jok?” he asked.

“Yes. I do,” Hyun replied, leaning back. He held out his hand and his servant pressed a goblet into his hand. He took a sip and threw it at the servant who handed it to him.

“It is sour.”

“I am sorry my gwe jok. I shall get a better one for you,” she said, running off towards a building.

“The girl has already been brain washed,” Hyun said loudly. His sudden words brought gasps from his audience. He rested his head on his right hand before sighing.

“My gwe jok, what do you mean?” some kid in the back called out. Hyun took a deep breath before standing to speak.

“She has shot at our people. She has attacked them and brutally murdered them.”

“All of them have done that!” someone called out. I stood and stepped behind him, drawn to place my hand on his back. He seemed to feel it, glancing back at me, but he did not see me.

“While that is true,” he said, turning back to the crowd. “She was someone special to me.”

“That does not matter. She is one of them now, sir,” Charles said, stepping forward.

“I know, Charles.”

“You need to put her on the list.”

“We need to keep in mind that she is under the United’s control,” he insisted. I walked around him to see his face. It was a mask of utter control. I was about to touch his face when something reached forward and drag me back.

I woke up screaming, trying to get away from whatever had its grasp on me. Jumping from my bed, I was up against the wall in an instant. Its fingers were still on me, all over my body. The fingers were playing with my hair and shoulder.

“Are you okay, Miss Red,” a female voice said through the intercom. I pressed the button and told her that I was fine.

“I was just having a nightmare,” I responded.

“I will get Carolina.”

“No, you really do not need to do it!” I tried to stop them, but I was too late. A few minutes later Carolina was walking through my door. She started checking my pulse and my other vital signs, but she found me to be normal.

“You seem okay. The vitamins you took should have removed all dreams. What happened?” she asked me.

“I was in the snow and I was yanked back,” I told her.

“Was there anyone with you?”

“No.”

“Okay, then it was a fluke.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, sitting on my bed. She nodded. We sat in silence for a while before she took my hand and led me towards the other girls.

“It is time for hirogohan, so it is a good thing you woke up like that,” Carolina said, leading me. We picked up the others and headed for the new mess hall. The girls waited for me to sit down first so that they could all sit opposite of me. As we ate the girls discussed what they needed to do for the pageant that was coming on. I never joined in. I was not interested in a pageant I did not know about. I just wanted to sit back and read a book.

“What are you going to do in the pageant, Miss Red?” Kim asked, touching my hand.

“Oh, I am not doing anything in the pageant. I will not be in it.”

Nani? What do you mean? You simply have to be in it!” Shia Shia said. I shook my head. There was no point in doing it if I did not want to.

“She is not interested. That is not the only thing that makes her completely different. She also has dreams.”

“Shut up, Xia!”

“It is fine.”

Iie, it is not. She needs to treat you with respect. After all, you did technically save our lives. We owe you,” Shia Shia said.

“No, I did not. All I did was kill a bunch of Lycans.”

“You did more than that!”

“No, trust me. I did not do any more,” I said, shoving mush into my mouth. Kim withdrew her hand as if our moment was over. We ate the rest of our lunch in silence.

Carolina leads us back to our rooms. I was surprised to see a weight sitting on my bed. Picking it up, I started with my right arm, doing twenty-four pumps before I put it away. I readied for bed and fell asleep.


Awakening the Red Hood Chapter Two excerpt

Chapter Two Excerpt from my class “A Novel Idea” which I titled Awakening the Red Hood. If I name my chapters it might be the name of Chapter One. Please Enjoy!

 

Chapter Two

            While I was out the girls relocated my unconscious form to my bed, covers over it and everything. However, while they were taking care of my body inside the compound our enemies were plotting something in the frozen wasteland that had become Korea. They were the Lycans, men and women genetically engineered to be able to transform into an animal.

            These men and women have been trained by the best armed forces of Korea before the mutation. I had a vision while I was out telling me that one of the men I had seen in the research facility had gathered the others of his kind around a bonfire so that he could give a speech.

            “One of our spies in the United Continents of America has given me some disturbing news, Comrades,” he said. The crowd murmured for a few seconds before they quieted.

            “Comrade Hyun, what is this news? If it is disturbing, then we must hear it,” a man stepped forward to speak. He bowed in submission as he backed away, waiting for Hyun to speak. He looked over the crowd, allowing his own power to move his long, brown hair.

            “A girl I knew from my time in the research institute was picked up by the UCA from our zone, nearly twenty-five meters from this point,” he said, causing the crowd to gasp in shock. Several people turned to each other, strategizing a way to get me back. Hyun stepped forward and the crowd stepped back to give their leader the space he would need to think.

            “What do we do?”

            “Right now? Right now all, but Charles shall return to their bunkers and settle in for the night. Get going,” Hyun said loudly. Several people left immediately. The rest needed some urging from Charles, whose long hair and slim physic had led several people to assume that he was a woman on multiple occasions. He enjoyed the attention, or so he told me once upon a time.  His face was just a feminine as the rest of him, right down to his bright, blue eyes.

            “Hyun, what do we do?”

            “I am not sure Charles. I am not sure,” Hyun replied, sighing. As Charles was about to say something I was ripped back to my body. My eyes flew open to see Kim, Shia Shia, and Xia staring down at me as I lay in my bed. Carolina appeared a moment later with a glass of water. The girls helped me up to a sitting position and Carolina handed me the glass. I downed the water in a few moments.

            “Daijooboo? Are you okay?” Kim asked, placing a small hand on my right knee.

            “Call me Li-On,” I said, trying to climb out of bed. Shia Shia pulled me back every time my ass breached the air-bed threshold. I glared at her, but she just smiled in response.

            “What is your full name?” Carolina asked, drawing my face towards the right, where she stood with her hand.

            “Li-On Red.”

            “Did you ever have another name?”

            “I did… I think. This one fits me better,” I said, racking my brain. At the time I could not remember what my real name was, but I was in a state where I really did not care. I finally asked what happened. They told me that I had just collapsed after taking my vitamins.

            “Now, are you sure you are okay?”

            “I am fine, Xia,” I responded. They finally let me up so that I could stretch out my legs. The gun felt weightless on my arm, too light for me. I nearly hit Kim in the head when Carolina stopped me. She pressed something on the gun and it popped right out of its socket. I stared at her wide eyed as she walked out with the extension of my arm I was so used to. It seemed weird not to have the weapon attached to me as my limb when I had it so long.

            “This feels weird,” I griped, swinging my arm stub around. Xia shrugged before she started playing with something in her hand. At closer inspection I saw that she was playing with a small, flickering flame. I watched as she tossed it from one hand to the other before turning it into a dog. It barked little flames at me while wagging its little tail.

            “Xia, you are playing with your power again,” Kim said, hopping onto my bed.

            “I know.”

            “Why are you doing it?”

            “Because I can.”

            “Is it not dangerous?” I asked, moving to sit beside Kim.

            “Would you not know? I mean you have your own thing,” Shia Shia said. I shrugged. I had no clue what it was like. I could not get in touch with my power, whatever it was. Kim touched my shoulder and closed her eyes, trying to attach herself to my psyche. I pulled away when I felt the long tentacle-like probe touch my brain.

            “Do not do that!” I growled. She backed away with her hands up.

            “There is no need to shout. Dame desu!”

            “I’d rather not be probed.”

            “Kim, you know better than that! You must ask before you probe. Dame desu!”

            “Sorry, but she seemed so down. The powers are a side effect, so I was trying to find out what kind she had so that I knew what they did to her.”

            “I do not know what they did to me, Kim,” I sighed, moving towards the door. It felt odd having them all in my room when we were supposed to be in different rooms at all times excluding meals. Carolina walked in with something wrapped in some green paper in her hands. She grabbed a hold of the back of my shirt and pulled me to the bed. Kim moved out of her way as Carolina forced me to sit on the bed and extend my arm to my left. She sat on the bed to my left, forcing me towards the end of the bed. I watched her pull out a prosthetic arm and line up its base with my nub of an arm. The arm clicked in perfectly and I felt nothing, but a brief spark in my mind.

            “Woah,” I said, moving my arm this way and that. The hand opened and closed flawlessly, causing the girls in the room to gasp in shock. None of them had seen a highly functioning prosthetic before. I had. All of a sudden the arm started melding into my skin tone, with all the flaws that would have been there. Soon, I was looking at the exact same hand I had before Cryogenesis took me in. I moved my hands together, palm to palm, and moved them apart slowly, watching as they moved in similar ways like my real hand would have done. I reached my left arm over my head to see if the prosthetic would hinder movement. It did not.

            “Thank you, Carolina,” I said gratefully. She waved her hand.

            “Doo itamashita, Li-On.”

            “What are you going to do with your new arm?”

            “Nothing. It is mostly a balance thing. It is going to be weird not having a gun attached, though,” I responded, getting up.

            “Well, it is asagohan time now, girls. Get going!” Carolina said, stopping Shia Shia’s remark before she could have voiced it. We filed out of my room and headed towards the mess hall our usual way, but we were stopped by some men in uniforms.

            “Sargent, what is the meaning of this?” Carolina barked. One of the boys grimaced and pushed the older of the two forwards.

            “Doctor Carolina, the mess hall has been attacked, Sir!”

            “I am not a ‘sir’ and you know that, Sargent!” she barked again. Kim grasped my hand as I looked at Shia Shia. We nodded at each other. All of us knew not to get involved with an angry Carolina.

            “We must order you to the other mess hall, Doctor,” the first one said, peeking his head out from behind his friend. I smiled at him as he ducked behind again.

            “This is the only mess hall equipped for handling genetically engineered food. Are you telling me that you are not going to let our prize fighters eat their food?” Carolina growled. She was finally scaring the poor sergeant whose face was run ragged by the war.

            “The enemy is still in there, Ma’am.”

            “Li-On Red, you know your brand hatsu prosthetic?”

            “Yes,” I replied, lifting the hand to stare at the palm.

            “It fires bullets.”

            “Really?”

            “Hai. Now go out there and make short work of those roba out there.”

            “Yes, Ma’am,” I said, shoving past the two men and into the hall. There were thirteen half wolf-half man beasts tromping over the tables and in the kitchen. I ducked behind a thrown table and peeked out at the enemy. The closest one was approximately fifteen paces from where I crouched. I took aim with my palm and fired. There was no sound, other than the thud the beast made when he hit the ground. I crawled towards the pillow and peeked out the other side, aiming at another thing. It went down with the same thud the first one did.

            I was not caught until there were three left of the thirteen still standing. The largest was brown with bright, green eyes. It seemed familiar, though I soon learned that it was male. He stood on his hind legs and stared at me. There was sadness in his eyes, but I did not think anything of it, taking aim at him instead. He and his two companions were gone before I could fire.

            “What the fuck?” I asked out loud before walking over to the door and knocking on it. Carolina was the first one through and she counted the bodies.

            “Juu. Good job. How many were there when you came in?”

            “Thirteen.”

            “Juu-san. Interesting. San got away. Why not fight?”

            “I do not know. Maybe they were just here to destroy and fighting would be a waste of time?” I wondered out loud. She shrugged. The army men sprinted to the kitchen as Shia Shia investigated the door to the outside world. Xia set the bodies on fire without lifting a finger and Kim sat on the seats of one of the tables that had not been overturned.

            I looked around, seeing not one bullet hole. It was as if my powers involved artillery. Heavy artillery, or so it seemed.

            “Look down, Li-On.”

            I obeyed to see blood where the beast had been standing and there was a broken piece of glass off to the side. Kneeling, I got a better look at the blood. It was red, like my own. A moment later a scent hit my nose and a message spelled itself out in the blood.

            “My name is Hyun. Well met, juk soo,” a voice whispered in my brain. Xia’s hand on my shoulder pulled me free of the grasp.

            “Daijoobu?” she asked. I nodded my head. She smiled before heading off to the kitchen. After looking at each other for a few moments the rest of us followed.

            “The kukku was eaten,” one of the army men said as we entered. They both looked like they had never seen anything, which suggested that the ugly one’s face was ragged because he worried all the time and not from experience.

            “Kuso!” Carolina growled. I leaned over to Shia Shia to get the translation. I found it weird that she would say shit instead of damn, but who was I to judge?

            “Who is Hyun?” I asked finally. The girls turned to me with wide eyes.


Benjamin Britten and the “Ceremony of Carols”

This is another paper I had to write, but this one was for my Choir instructor because I missed two concerts from being sick. Please enjoy!

 

Ceremony of Carols, everyone knows about them or at least heard of them, but how much do we know about their creator. We don’t often think about the life of the composers, taking the time to listen to the music and that is all. Benjamin Britten was an interesting figure whose childhood did not suggest his genius and school experiences that bothered him. With this paper I hope to explore his life and then compare and contrast two choirs performing the Ceremony of Carols.

Benjamin Britten was born in 1913 and was the youngest of four children. His parents were a dentist and a singer/pianist. His controlled his life until she died in 1937. Britten composed numerous songs before he was ten, though his school days were standard for the time period. It appeared that he was not bullied in school because “he was a keen cricketer” (Benjamin Britten, Brett, Phillip). He passed the Associated Board Grade eight when he was thirteen after beginning viola lessons at the age of ten. His teacher, Edith Alston, encouraged concert attendance in Norwich.

He had one hundred opus numbers under his belt by the age of fourteen, but his mother failed to bring his accomplishments to a wider audience. His teacher had two beliefs the first of which was “that you should find yourself and be true to what you found. The other was his scrupulous attention to good technique” (Britten, Sunday Telegraph, 17 Nov 1963). He entered a public school in north Norfolk during the month of September during 1928. He was known to be outraged by the bullying the other boys went through. His music master also “disparaged his composition” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). He coped with several mechanisms including letters to his mothers, suicide talks in his diaries, and psychosomaticism. This would follow him into the rest of his life.

He attended the RCM with a scholarship due to The Birds, A Wealden Trio and several more pieces. Britten was dismayed “at the ‘amateurish and folksy’ atmosphere he encountered” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) while at school. He was taught piano by Arthur Benjamin and composition lessons from John Ireland, but seemed to cause defensiveness in Ireland and the lessons were “portrayed as a dismal failure” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Though later he admitted “Ireland nursed me very gently through a very, very difficult musical adolescence” (Letters from a Life, A1991, p.147). Britten did manage to increase his knowledge of repertory while he was in London. He won the Cobbett Chamber Music Prize in his second year with Phantasy in F minor for a string quintet. In 1932 it was performed professionally for the first time at a Macnaghten-Lemare concert along with “two-part songs on poems of de la Mare” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) which was his first published work. After Phantasy and Sinfonietta he wrote Soirees Musicales and Rossini among others. Soon he heads off to North America.

He left to head to Northa American in 1939 to try his hand. Britten had several reason to go abroad such as the fascism that was growing over Europe and the war that “seemed inevitable” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) as well as two people leaving in January and the pace of the career he was trying to determine his direction. He visited Canada, New York, and Catskills where they visited Copland. They also visited Elizabeth Mayer on Long Island and she became a surrogate mother for Mr. Britten. Young Apollo reflected Britten’s emotional issues while he was in America. He also wrote several pieces that showed the confusion he was feeling about his homosexuality.

A year later he wrote Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo which he dedicated to Pears and “can be taken as a further gesture towards this reclamation of the physical” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) and “the official inception of their partnership” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). The Musical Times said that it had “no thematic connection” to the other songs (Benjamin Britten; Mason, Collins). During the time in 1939 Britten finished the Violin Concerto while Britain went to war. The work has a ominous feeling in the beginning and ends in nostalgia which was “so different from the ebullient Piano Concerto of little more than a year earlier” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Britten completed many works by the end of 1942 and he matured as a person as well as an artist. He also found a “certain level of acceptance among others and, more important, in himself about his sexual orientation” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

In April of 1942 Britten returned to England only to realize that he had to contribute something that was not only new, but powerful to Brittan’s musical culture. His choice was to use opera. The opera was used “to locate the problem as one of society’s vicious treatment of difference” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). However his return was anticlimactic, though it could have been worse. He was called up for non-combatant duties, though he was set free because of appeal, possibly because of “Britten’s continuing work for the BBC” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

Because he had a case of the measles Britten did not have as many compositions made, nor published around this time. After abandoning some projects and being off work he composed the Serenade for tenor as well as horn and strings. He kind of invented his own form of pastoralism with a bit of the “darker side of medieval experience” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Serenade was a solo vocal piece. In Peter Grimes “lies a chilling choral recitative rehearsing the theme of opressioon” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). Because of the success of Peter Grimes he wrote The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, which was “another cycle written for Pears” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This piece was for tenor and piano, but since it was unprinted when The Musical Times Mason said that he “forbear to criticize on the mere strength of the dim memory of an unfavourable impression of one performance” (Benjamin Britten (Continued); Mason, Colin). It is also a rather dark piece that was written while Britten was ill.

Britten worked on a variety of operatic work where he even conducted his own. By doing so he created a family or a clique that “was often, and sometimes brutally, disturbed when members were suspected of giving less than their best” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This family became a very positive music force in Britain that “encouraged Britten’s work immensely” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). After quite a few works, some of which were well received, Britten worked with Cozier on Let’s Make an Opera that had a grand total of “four audience songs” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip) in 1949.

Britten’s success as a composer drew the Arts Council to him, commissioning an opera from him. Billy Budd showed him exploring and toying with changing the output of his operas from a “focus on oppression” to an “exploration of authority” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). This authority and its issues was a point of “importance and also confusion to homosexual people” including his issues over parents who are just like society in the censorship of homoeroticism (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip).

Britten and Pears had an idea almost a year before the very first performance to turn A Midsummer Night’s Dream into an opera. They arranged the play “as a libretto” and used the play to pursue “his interests in the difficulties and dangers in human relationships” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). The play was unconventional in the casting and setting. Instead of Athens he chose Nocturne to set the play as well as many other changes.

During his 50th year on the earth he visited Moscow and conducted Sinfonia da Requiem as well as some others at a Prom concert in 19623. He was proclaimed as the “greatest composer alive” by Hans Keller in public as a tribute. He visited the kabuki theatre as well as attended the gagaku orchestra “whose sounds were to reverberate in Curlew River” (Benjamin Britten; Brett, Phillip). In 1959 he made a drama set in East Anglia. He wanted to remove harmonies from Western music in order to get back to its roots in Curlew River.

In 1964 Britten’s doctors ordered rest. He decided in 1969 that he would make a televised opera based on a lesser known James ghost story. In 1976 he received a life peerage and people have either felt that his acceptance was either ironic or puzzling. However he was ill and had to be visited by a bishop in order to take communion. In November he “took leave of his closest friends” and died in the night between the third and fourth of December in Peter Pears’ arms.

For the compare and contrast portion of this essay I have chosen to review Merbecke Choir and the Antioch Chamber Ensemble’s rendition of the Ceremony of Carols.

I shall start with Merbecke Choir, whose diction was appalling. They are a mix choir of men and women that stood in two lines across the stage. The only two songs from Ceremony I understood what they were singing in were “Wolcum Yule” and “This Little Babe.” The only reason I understood the lyrics of those two were because I have sung them before. I understood that they were in a setting similar to that of DuPont Chapel, but that is where diction is the most important. Also, not everybody pronounced “wolcum” the same. I heard one girl in the first row sing “volcome” instead of “volcume” as it should have been pronounced like the others. No one was off pitch, however, which was a good thing.

Next is the Antioch Chamber Ensemble’s performance. The Antioch Chamber Ensemble is an all female vocals choir with six members. I found that their diction was phenomenal. I could understand almost everything they sang. During “Wolcum Yule” I did notice someone go sharp.  There were other little pitch problems that, had I not been in choir I would not have noticed. I was glad that I could understand everything. It does make everything quite a bit easier to handle.

Over all they both did a good job at certain parts of Ceremony of Carols.  They were both beautiful to listen to; it was just the two main issues I had needed to be voiced.

Benjamin Britten was an amazing composer who did so much and had such a talent for “his harmony, which is often commonplace, but so brilliantly handled that it becomes original” (Benjamin Britten (Continued); Mason, Colin). The Ceremony of Carols is only one of the great man’s accomplishments to British music. If he had not died in 1976 he would be ninety-nine years old and would have been able to witness the Holiday Pops concert with pride.

 

 

Bibliography

 

1)      Philip Brett, et al. “Britten, Benjamin.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 28 Dec. 2011 <http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.fintel.roanoke.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/46435>.

2)      Benjamin Britten

Colin Mason

The Musical Times,

Vol. 89, No. 1261 (Mar., 1948), pp. 73-75

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/936395

4, January, 2012

 

3)      Benjamin Britten (Concluded)

Colin Mason

The Musical Times
Vol. 89, No. 1263 (May, 1948), pp. 139-142

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/935902

7, January 2012

4)      Benjamin Britten (Continued)

Colin Mason

The Musical Times
Vol. 89, No. 1262 (Apr., 1948), pp. 107-110

Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/933105

7, January 2012

5)      Ceremony of Carols, Sheet Music Plus. Copyright 1997-2012

7, January 2012

<http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/look_inside/4163142/image/200989>

 

6)      Photo by: Coster, Howard, 1930s-nitrate negative (NPG, London)

7, January 2012

<http://i12bent.tumblr.com/post/13174731810/benjamin-britten-b-nov-22-1913-d-1976-is>

7)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 1,

 Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; Youtube.

7 January 2012

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmCOEUf2mx8&feature=plcp&context=C371e74bUDOEgsToPDskJrt81NCNMwhmTylFg3RS35>

8)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 2,

Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; Youtube

7 January 2012

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlxVv8VWf9I&feature=context&context=C371e74bUDOEgsToPDskJrt81NCNMwhmTylFg3RS35>

9)      A Ceremony of Carols (Benjamin Britten) Part 3,

Merbecke Choir, 15 December 2011; YouTube

7 January 2012

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep4rttX6pBc&feature=plcp&context=C371e74bUDOEgsToPDskJrt81NCNMwhmTylFg3RS35>

10)  The Antioch Chamber Ensemble- Ceremony of Carols, Part 1- Benjamin Britten

Antioch Chamber Ensemble, 10 February 2010; YouTube

7 January 2012

< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CB2JOQkRBw>

11)  The Antioch Chamber Ensemble- Ceremony of Carols, Part 2-Benjamin Britten

Antioch Chamber Ensemble, 10 February 2010; YouTube

7, January 2012

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRHZj7EhkbU&feature=relmfu>

 


“A Novel Idea” My Novel Chapter One Excerpt Part 2 “Awakening the Red Hood”

Continued from the previous post…

“Hello, Miss Red,” she said, leaning against the wall.

 “Why are you calling me ‘Miss Red’?” I asked. “It confuses me.”

“My name is Carolina. You are called ‘Miss Red’ because we found you in the red division of  the continent Korea. The United Continents of America pulled you out as soon as we knew you weren’t Asian inherited,” she replied. “We couldn’t save your arm though.”

 “What’s going on?”

 “What year is it?”

 “What do you mean ‘what year’? Don’t you know?”

“Why don’t you tell me, Miss Red?”

“Its twenty-twelve,” I responded, trying to move the chair in any direction. When it didn’t budge I glanced down at the feet to see them screwed to the floor.

“Actually, its thirty-twelve.”

“What?”

“In twenty-twenty-five the United States of America combined forces with Japan to launch a new order on another planet and maybe even in another galaxy. That’s all I’m going to tell you about that, but I will tell you the consequences,” Carolina said, sliding down the wall to sit cross-legged.

“What? Consequences?”

 “Korea and China took offense and joined together. That made England, France, Germany, and Spain have a major Bitch-Fest. They joined us and the shit started hitting the fan mainichi. All of the connected portions of Asia joined Korea and we got the Middle East,” she said, inspecting her fingernails.

 “The Middle East? Really? But we are at war with Iraq!”

“Not anymore. Then India tried not to get taken over, but those damned Akai got to them. We got what was left. We are at war with Korea. Those damned Kankokujin started it,” she growled.

“Then, what am I here for?”

 “Miss Red, we need you to do the hardest job of all. The United Continents of America need you to use your genetic mutations for our side.”

 “Genetic mutations?”

 Carolina knocked on the wall over her shoulder with the back of her hand. A screen dropped from the ceiling and rested mere inches above Carolina’s head. A movie came on that explained that I had signed up for the program for one reason or another. The facility had taken my genes and changed them to create the ultimate weapon. I was kept in a cryocontainer to keep me frozen until the technology could come about to control the side effects.

 “Do you understand now?”

  “Are the side effects gone?”

 “No. There was no way of getting rid of them without destroying your Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid. Kuso we tried,” she responded. The screen went back up and a man entered to stand beside Carolina.

 “Miss Red, this is Dick.”

 “Hi, Dick.”

 “Really? This is what you do? You bring in a mizuumi worth of girls who have genetic mutations with absolutely no control of their abilities,” he groaned. I narrowed my eyes at him, feeling the tension in my neck rise. Soon all I could see were sparks, like electricity was the only thing in the world. Someone screamed and a few moments later I opened my eyes and saw the man lying on his side. Carolina just looked at the body as if it wasn’t anything new. It probably wasn’t to her, but I was shocked.

 “Thank you. He’s been a ikai experience for the last fifty years,” she said, nonchalantly. “Anyway, you’ll get to start your training soon enough. Your arm attachment will be replaced with an arm when it comes through the kookuubin.”

“Training?”

“We’ll start with your grappling gun,” Carolina responded, knocking on the wall again. The door opened and a droid entered the door. It beeped at Carolina a bit before using a metal arm to pull the man’s dead body out of the steel door. A trail of blood followed behind like a little lost puppy. Another droid came out to obsessively clean the blood spill.

 “Can you walk?”

“I do not know,” I responded, attempting to stand up. I was on my feet for a few minutes, wobbling like I was going to fall down, before I took a shaky step towards Carolina. She smiled before she ushered me through the door.

 She led me towards a bright, turquoise door that opened upwards. Carolina helped me to the fire range and I aimed at the black person-shaped black paper.

“Now, just tense your muscles in your upper arm and you will fire.”

 “What?” I asked, taking aim. I tensed my upper arm and a rapid string of bullets came from my arm, but it went wild. Carolina halted the flinging of my arm with a robot’s grasp. The gun continued to spasm on my arm, even after I relaxed my arm. She helped me pull my arm back to my side before picking up the clipboard and writing something down.

“Alright. We’ll have to do some strength building exercises for that arm. Now what might help in the beginning is to rest your elbow on the table as you aim. Rest it on your hand right below the elbow on the machine gun. Let it relax and fire,” she told me, helping me adjust my arms so that I held in the same stance Carolina had suggested.

 “Okay…”

“Try firing now,” she said, bracing my shoulders. I tensed my upper arm and relaxed. I hit the paper this time, though I didn’t actually hit anything vital. She pulled away and I attempted to fire again. I followed the same pattern as before. She told me to relax my gun.

 “I want you to use the gun like it is a weight. Lift it twenty times a day,” Carolina said, helping me to stand under the weight of the weapon. She pulled me through another door, into a corridor that lead all the way down. She took me on a path that sloped down, but stopped before the bottom. I watched her red hair flow towards a blue door and a second later I noticed the red fingernail polish on her fingers as she pressed the button. The door slid open in an “x” shape to reveal a sparsely furnished room with a single bed and a toilet.  There was enough room for me to exercise.

“Is this where I live?”

“Now that you are awake it is. You are on the right side of the hall, so you are with the evening shower people. Be very careful with that toilet. It is an old model, pre-3000s, so it may not flush as well. It might even back up time to time. There is hand sanitizer because we’ve found that it is cheaper to make now that the ushi are so rare. We need them solely for milk,” Carolina said, gesturing to the room. “Speaking of milk… Asagohan is at oh-six hundred hours. Hirogohan is right at twelve hundred and kongohan is at seventeen hundred hours. Other than that daishyoobu.”

 “Okay… How long am I going to be here?”

“Until you are completely rehabilitated.”

Carolina helped me to the bed and I sat down. My backside hit the lumpy cushion and she released me. She moved her hair out of her face before walking out the door. The door closed behind her and locked itself with a loud, laser sound. I leaned over so that I was lying on my side. The boots were incredibly comfortable, even lying down.

 I must have passed out because a few hours later a loud alarm jolted me off the mattress. When I should have landed on my head I landed on my feet. A split second later my doors opened, revealing Carolina with three ladies of varying ages wearing the same thing I was. I stood and limped over to the door, nearly falling when I got there.

 “Kongohan, Miss Red,” Carolina said, lifting a clipboard.

 “Kangahon?”

Kongohan, Miss Red. Someone needs to speak to you about your pronunciation. If you want to fit in that is,” Carolina said, gesturing for me to follow the girls. We were lead down a silver hallway and into some sort of mess tent. Aluminum tables lined the room length wise and we were lead to the end of one. As we sat the tent filled up with people in white lab coats and denim pants. A droid zoomed by, dropping metal dishes full of food in front of us.

“My name is Xia Yellow. I was found in the yellow district thirteen months ago. Where were you found?” the smallest girl spoke up, before she shoved a spoonful of the grey mush into her mouth.

 “The red one.”

 Everyone hissed as if in pain.

“That’s a taihenna. I was found in the blue district. Shia Shia Blue is my name. Kim here was found in the violet district,” the tallest one said. I finally looked at her. She had bright blue hair and lips. She would be easy to see in most situations. Kim was a little blond girl with violet eyeshadow on. Xia was the shortest, though I could tell she was the eldest, and she wore her brown hair waist length with a yellow ribbon in it.

 “How long were you guys under?”

“What do you mean?”

“I was in Cryogenesis.”

“We never were. Wow. This is amazing,” Xia said, leaning forward. “What was it like under Cryogenesis? I would love to know what that felt like.”

“Um… I could not begin to tell you. I don’t remember anything,” I said. I started forcing the gray mush down my throat. It tasted horrible. My mouth spasmed in fear as my tongue recoiled away from the hideous thing. Shia Shia obviously enjoyed the meal like it was the most delicious thing she had tasted. I recoiled at each moan of pleasure she let loose.

“How good is this Mush?”

 “Amazing. It is a new flavor,” Kim said, smiling through her mushy stuff. It took a few moments for me to keep my stomach down, feeling like I might vomit. A flash of brown streaked past and Kim ran off after it. Carolina ran past us, towards where Kim ran to.

“I… I don’t think that this stuff is… I’m not a fan of mush,” I finally said, shoving it away. Xia and Shia Shia stared at me, wide eyed. It was then that I realized that I was the only one who had ever lived outside of this society. I was the only one who had once eaten something other than mush.

 “What do you like to eat?”

 “What?” I asked, staring at my hands. The mush suddenly bled to pure liquid and the doors opened fully. Carolina walked over to our table with Kim’s ear in her grasp. She gestured to us before dragging Kim out the door. Shia Shia, Xia, and I followed at some distance behind. We walked slowly and I watched as Carolina put the other three girls back in their cages. She put me back last, hesitating at the door.

 “Everything you say is recorded, Miss Red.”

“Do I get a first name?”

“A what?”

 “Xia, Shia Shia, and Kim all have first names.”

“Ah. You get to pick that.”

 “What?”

“Your first name. You get to choose it. We decided that the colors would be allowed to choose their given names so that they can have some decisions,” she said. “You will be able to make some of your own decisions as soon as you get out into the field.”

 “The field? I’m not sure if I can do this. I don’t know anything about my ability.”

“Do your lifts,” Carolina responded. She left a second later and I was locked in.

 

I was there for a few months, taking lessons from their top people. When we were able to visit the laboratory for our testing I was fascinated by the microscopic things that they were designing. A doctor sat me down and started injecting things into my arms, checking to see me change color. A test went into my mouth before being drawn up and out again. They tested and tested me while Xia and Shia Shia watched. Kim was to my right being tested as well.

 “Doctor, why are you testing me?” I asked. The doctor said nothing. Carolina placed something over my mouth and it would not let me open it. I was wearing a muzzle. The freaks weren’t allowed to be talking to the doctors. Kim fidgeted with the gown they forced her to wear out of the corner of my eye. Shia Shia seemed more interested in her nails than anything else and Xia just simply stared.

All of a sudden an alarm went out, springing Xia into action. She raced from the room at an inhuman speed. Shia Shia followed moments later. Kim was allowed off the table, but they kept me where I was with metal restrains.

“You can’t go out yet and it is probably just a routine check,” one of the doctors said. I growled in annoyance, but no one took notice. A few moments later Shia Shia returned without a scratch on her.

 “Where are Kim and Xia?” Carolina asked, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it with her metal lighter. Shia Shia shrugged before handing something to Carolina. She took it in her right hand and stared at it. I strained to get a better look, but an orderly pulled me back to the table.

“These are for Miss Red, Carolina. Dr. Zah said that he wanted her to take her vitamins tonight at kongohan,” Shia Shia said, walking over to me and placing a hand on my shoulder. Xia and Kim ran in a few moments later. Kim was back on the table the instant her foot entered the room it seemed.

“Then we will give them to her when its kongohan. Now, get to the training yard,” Carolina responded, dropping the items into her pocket. She turned back to me and pulled the muzzle from my face. The doctors helped me off the table and lead me to the doorway. Carolina led us back to our rooms until kongohan so that we could do our daily weights. The machine gun attached to my arm was still heavy, but I could hold it up without toppling over.

I walked into my room last once again and started to do my arm lifts with the gun. I sat on the bed during one of the pumps and just kept going. Carolina did not close the door like she usually did, but came inside and leaned against one of the walls. She watched me work out as I completed my usual count and readied for bed.

“You will have your arm soon,” she said, surprising me.

“Really?”

 “Hai.”

“Is that why I have to take vitamins?” I asked.

Hai.”

 I looked up at her, staring at the mass of hair that seemed to wave hello. She stood there, hands in lab coat pocket, and watched me as I readied for a nap. The cushion was indented from where I slept every night. With the gun on I can only stay in one position while I sleep. I touched the cotton blanket that I had flung to the floor that morning to get up with my foot. I pulled it back up to the bed and laid it flat on the bed.

“Is there a reason you need your blanket?”

“I thought I would take a nap.”

 “Why would you do that?”

“A nap makes the time fly.”

 “Kongohan will be ready in an hour.”

“So?”

“So it will be ready in an hour.”

 “So?”

 “So, shouldn’t you be preparing to eat?” Carolina asked, bewildered. I ignored her to concentrate on my blanket. She came forward and ripped the blanket from my grasp. My empty right hand opened and closed twice before she pulled me from the room by the gun. She slammed me into the wall beside my door.

 “Listen, ass wipe. Kongohan is now in half an hour. So you wasted thirty minutes of naptime on neatening your fucking bed. What do you say?”

“That this wall is uncomfortable.”

“Shut up. You need to get a different set of clothing on this instant.”

“This is the only set I have, Carolina,” I said, shoving her away from me. I walked back into my room and sat back on the door. She followed me back in, but she didn’t step more than two paces in. I picked the blanket up from where she threw it and started to fix it so that it was nice and steady. It took another half hour because I only have one arm, but I did manage to straighten it out nicely.

 “It is time for kongohan, Miss Red,” the doctor said behind me. I turned to her and waited for her to walk out. I followed her to pick up the other girls. Shia Shia was usually the third girl picked up by Carolina and Kim was the first. We were picking up the girls out of order and taking a different path towards the mess hall.

 Our supper was some sort of meat and some sort of vegetable. Of course we couldn’t tell what they were, but we would have to deal. I was just glad it wasn’t gruel anymore.

We ate in silence, enjoying the taste of something different. When I finished the bowl of meat-like substances Carolina dropped off the three pills I have to take. I swallowed them one at a time and washed them down with the last spoonful of vegetable mush. A second later I just saw black.