Runer’s Tale: Preparation

Another day, another run. This week’s thought/life lesson is preparation.

There was a day where I decided about four hours before running 3 miles I thought it would be a good idea to go eat at Taco Bell. And I mean a number six meal with a big old drink. It was more than I should have eaten or spent but boy did it taste good.

Until I went for the run.

Even hours after eating it, I was struggling to move. It felt like I was holding another twenty pounds around my gut. I was moving slowly and sluggish. Whether because it was bad fuel for my body or the fact that it was a big meal (for me), I was not doing well.

When I got done with the run, I decided not to eat so heavy before I go run with my life group.

Then God asked me this: “Why not do that for every run?”

Then it hit me.

Choosing to run for a race requires preparation and dedication. Running every day and running harder each time. Eating right. Sleeping right. Investing my time in what is important.

The same could be said for biggest race that anyone can run in: your life.

No one can run it for you. Some get a better starting position than others. And others squander what advantage they were born with. But no matter, you still have to run.

Dedication. Practicing every day. Pushing yourself harder and go further than ever before. That’s how you run the race.

Winning the race, well that is just living life the best way you can. Not for mankind or some other glorious cause. But living a life that you can live with. Granted if you go off the rails and live a less than moral life you may have others questioning your life choices.

But living for something you believe in is a lot better than living a life someone else told you to live.

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Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 02

Down the hall, it comes bellowing. Sharp claws and teeth glint in the flashing light. Yet its flesh was black, a shadow rushing forward. It cuts the distance between the two in half in seconds.

The girl freezes. Her fists clenched by her side. The creature begins running on its hind legs. Foreclaws stretches forward.

Thirty feet separates them.

Twenty feet.

Ten feet.

The creature bellows with forelimbs stretching out to her.

Five feet.

The girl leaps to the side, slamming into the ground. The creature flies past, claws flexing and reaching for her. Lighting explodes from the girl’s arm and slams into the animal’s flank. It roars in pain and skids down the hall with flesh burned.

As the animal bellows in rage, the girl leaps to her feet. Blue-white lines burn in the darkness as if living lightning has etched itself into her skin. It flows from her elbows to her fingertips like veins.

She attacks again and again. Bolts of energy arcs from her hands and slams into the creature. In angry, the creature rises up on its hind legs. It comes on, roaring and slamming its tail into the walls or floor.

She backs away and continues her attack. Flesh burns and the air is filled with the scent of charred flesh and sulfur. The chest, head, and arms are crisped with burns but still, the creature moves forward. Its red eyes appear as orbs on its blackened skin.

The girl turns and sprints. In a heartbeat, the vein-like lines in her arms disappear. At the same moment, her legs glow with similar blue-white markings.

As the energy in her legs grow brighter, the girl begins to run faster.

The animal leaps after her but she soon leaves it far behind. Its angry howls echo along the empty hall. After a moment she hears a buzzing sound just to the right and behind. Glancing over her shoulder, she sees the little robot.

After a few moments, the robot speeds up and passes her on the right.

“Please follow me. The bunker is not far.”

Taking several turns and running down empty halls, the robot comes to a stop in front of a large door. Unlike other doors, this one is much thicker. Four thick bolts cross in front of the door. The little machine rolls over to a low interface and plugs in.

Soft beeps and clicks echo from the small interface.

A moment later, loud clunks and the sound of gears turning boom from the large door. The thick bolts slide back. The door slowly slides back into the wall. The teen raises a hand to shield her eyes in the harsh light.

The little robot rolls into the room.

“Please. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.”

“I thought I was supposed to get to an escape pod.” The teen mutters as she follows the robot in. “Wasn’t that protocol or something.”

“Emergency Protocol Delta overrides all other actions. In the event of containment lost, securing the asset in question and preserving the other assets is a top priority. All means of possible escape are shut down until the asset is secured. Please remain here. There is food, water, and sleeping quarters available for you.”

The robot spins in place and rolls out of the room. At the same moment, the doors begin to close.

“And where are you going?”

“Executing Emergency Protocol Delta.” It replies before the doors shut.

The sound of locks closing echoes ominously.

“Guess I’ll stay here.”

The girl wanders over to the wall. It seems to shimmer then melt into a clear glass. Below the ship, the world spins serenely. A forest covers a long land mass. Mountain ranges break through the forests like some immense creatures wading through a green ocean.

“Good evening, Specimen 23X7.”

The girl jumps at the voice.

“I am the dedicated operation program for security bunker three three seven, code-named Sarah. Biological scans indicate hunger.”

“I guess so.”

“There is food available in the gallery. Second hatch on your right.”

“Thank you. Um. Do you have records on this ship?”

“I do.”

“What is this ship?”

“This is the Medical Research Vessel, New Horizon. Launched in the year 2347, this vessel serves as an emergency response vessel. Currently, it is conducting research into genetic engineering.”

“For what?”

“Improving the human genome and eliminating the defects that humans are afflicted with.”

“Who started this?”

Before the computer could answer, the door begins to unlock.

The girl turns and energy flairs down through her arms.

The first thing she notices is a small robot.

“Specimen 23X7. I am Biological Mechanical Steward Unit Number 14.”

As it rolls in, two other teens step through the doors. They stop when they notice her. Orange lines crackle down the length of the girl’s arms. At once the two-step apart, making a single shot difficult to hit them both. The girl has dull earth-brown skin and long black hair. The boy has black hair and fair skinned.

“This is the security bunker. You will remain here until the threat has been contained.”

“An elementalist.” The boy murmurs.

“Who are you?”

The two look at each other.

“Don’t remember then?”

The boy nods again, “According to the robot, I am 29X7 and he is 12X7.”

“I am 23X7. Apparently.”

“Nice to meet you.” The girl smiles.

“Please enter the security bunker.” The robot says, “At once. Specimen 332578 has lost containment. Security response is in progress. Please remain here until further notice.”

The two newcomers step in just as the robot slides backward. The door begins to close. A massive creature explodes from the left. Massive jaws clamp down on the robot. Sparks explode as the machine is crushed in the jaws. Spitting out the remains of the robot, the creature pokes its massive head into the room.

In the harsh light, the three can easily see the leathery skin, striped pattern, and four-inch teeth. The head itself is nearly four feet long and two feet tall. Powerful forelimbs hold the door apart. Gears grind and groan as it struggles to close.

Without a word, 23X7 sends out a blast of energy from her arms. The blow knocks it back but not enough to break it loose. Instead, it charges into the room roaring.

The other two launch their own attacks. 29X7 launches her own electric attack, knocking the creature to its side. The boy steps in quick. Long, flat objects erupt from his forearms. Wielding them like swords, the boy slices into the creature’s flank.

It bellows in rage and spins, lashing its tail and arms out.

All three duck and slide, partially avoiding the attack.

“Out!” 23X7 yells, “We need to get out!”

The boy nods his head. Using his arm blades, he lashes out at the tail, cutting deeply into the flesh. The creature roars and jerks its tail out of danger. Using their abilities, the two girls leap through the doorway, dragging the boy with them.

The slam into the wall. Together, they watch as the creature leaps forward. The door slams shut just as the creature reaches them. A muffled bellow and pounding can be heard on the other side.

23X7 lets out a breath.

“That was fun.” The other girl says, “You two okay?”

“Yes.” The boy says. He winces as his forearm blades begin sliding back into his arms.

“Anklo?” 23X7 asks.

He nods, “Yep. And sparky here is an electric type. Just like you.”

“Nice.”

“What do we do now?” She asks, standing up, “Wait here?”

“I don’t think so.” 23X7 says as they stand up with her.

“Why?”

“Because that wasn’t the first one I met. I was attacked before I went into the bunker. I was able to wound it.”

“But that one,” The boy juts with his chin, “wasn’t wounded by anyone or anything.”

“Right.”

“Which means there is at least one more.”

“And they seem to be attacking this point.”

“A bit of a guess.”

“Would you like to error on the side of caution or risk?”

“Good point but where do go?”

“The bridge? Ship has to have one.”

“True.”

“So.” The boy says with a grin, “I am not really going to go with the whole numbers and letter thing. What do you want to go by as?”

23X7 shrugs and holds up her arms, “Blue?”

“Then that makes you Orange?” He turns to the girl.

“Oh no. Not at all. I’ll go with Sparky. What about you?”

“Blades.” Bone structures slide out then back in, “I’ll go with Blades.”

X

Quiet murmurs and the glow of screens fill the dark chamber. Dozens of individuals watch the screens, making notes and whispering instructions.

“How are they doing?”

“Alive so far.” One of the individuals says, “But they’ve been lucky. Very lucky. But I don’t know how long their luck will hold out.”

“So far?”

“Containment lost has already caused the lost of fifty specimens.”

“Security?”

“They are having trouble getting to Specimen 332578.”

“What would happen if we cannot regain control?”

“Then our research is lost.”

“What about the pods?”

“Protocol override would be required. Right now, anyone up there is stuck there.”

“What about an extraction team?”

“Possible but if we do not, any studies could be lost thanks to environment breach.”

A moment of silence.

“Sir?”

“No. You’re right. We were going to test them. Just not this soon. Remain on task.”

X

Runner’s Tale: Life Lessons

Good morning!

I know I have not been the most consistent blogger in the world but life is happening– mainly work. To help keep my sanity, and my weight in check, I have resumed running. To help keep me motivated to run, I have joined a small running group and signed up for a 5K.

Last Sunday was the second time we met and I realized that there is a lot of life lessons within running. I decided that I am going to share my thoughts on the matter.

Today’s life lessons came in the form of growing, commitment, and friendship.

Growing

Lately, in church and in life, there has been a subtle thread of “reaching your next” or moving onto the next thing.

Growing is great and everyone applauds it and wants it. But the thing about growing means stepping beyond what you are comfortable with. You like to create art? Great. Start selling them. Love photography? Enter a competition. Want to sprint a mile? Run. And Run. And run. And run. And run. Growth and maturity aren’t without its ache and pains. Stumbling blocks and “why did I do that?”. But you can’t grow if you don’t stretch.

However, one thing I really don’t like is changing. I like knowing what is coming next. What to expect the next day. Keeps things simple. I like simple.

There is only one problem: no change, no growth.

But if I want to grow, that means I need to step forward.

For me, that means putting my writing out where people can see it. It means expanding my knowledge by getting tutorials. And be corrected when I am wrong. Which is never a pleasant thing to experience.

But this only works if I do one thing: commit.

Commitment 

Wanting to grow. Wanting to become better. I can want all those things but none of them will come into existence if I don’t commit to become better. If I want to be a better photographer. If I want to create a cartoon or do anything else, I need to do it.

The best dancer committed to dancing every day. The best artist worked every day at their craft.

No matter what craft or art or field someone works in, the only way they mastered it was to work on it every day. They committed to practice and practice every day.

And it is not just craftsmanship or skills. It is also relationships. You like her? You like him? You have to commit to developing that relationship. Or if you want a better relationship with coworkers or family members, you have to commit to working through it. Whether it is the hard times or good times.

And that brings me to the final life lesson: relationships

Relationships

Do you want to succeed? Do you want to reach your potential? Than you need to surround yourself with people who will make you better. To make you the best you.

I am not talking about people who are manipulating you to be someone else. I mean people who are going to polish you.

We all have things that are not good in our character. Things include anger issues, shallowness, or lack of empathy.

Good relationships will want us to become better. To correct that. And sometimes that means getting slapped up side the head and say “Yo– you doing a dumb and you need to stop.”

Part of it also means surrounding yourself, good people. If you want to become someone than surround yourself with people you want to become like. Who you are is dependent on the people you hang out with.

Here is an old saying I heard: bad company corrupts good character.

Be very careful who spend time with.

Keep Running

Life is hard, tough, and often times not fair. But you can’t restart or exchange it for someone else’s life. You only get one life.

By the same token, you can’t cross the finish line if you don’t run the race.

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 01

“Are you sure about this?”

“About what?”

“This.”

Silence.

“Well?”

“Am I sure about what is going to happen? Yes. Am I sure if this is the right thing, no.”

“Then why do it?”

“It is the only way.”

Silence.

“It is the only way.”

“Are you sure?”

A soft click echoes in the room.

X

Chapter 01

Klaxons wail and the hull shudders. Normal lights flicker as power surges. Red emergency lights whirl within domes. A box-like machine speeds through empty halls on a pair of wide treads. Four mechanical arms are tucked along its side. On top of its metal body is a structure is a security camera-like structure.

“This is a Class Five Emergency. This is a Class Five Emergency.”

The machine passes open hatches after open hatches. Some lead to vacant personal cabins Others are grand rooms for eating, entertainment, or dancing.

“Warning. Hull breach. Deck Seven. Section Three. Repairs commencing. Warning. Hull breach. Deck Seven. Section Three. Repairs commencing.”

The robot glances up at the disembodied voice and shakes its head. The little machine turns its head and looks out of the window. A green and blue world turns beneath it. In the distance a yellow star burns.

The alarm wails once again.

“Warning. Starboard thrusters. Inoperable. Warning. Starboard thrusters. Inoperable.”

At that new announcement, the robot returns its focus. The little machine moves along at a steady pace until it reaches a closed hatch.

It passes through another hatch and rolls to a stop.

Before it is a single black pod. Despite the power fluctuations, the pod’s light remains steady. The robot turns and runs over to an interface mounted in the wall. Extending one arm, it slips its clawed hand into a jack.

A moment later, a quiet humming begins to fill the room. The lights in the pods begin to pulse brightly. A moment later, each one splits open and a child spills out of it. The girl turns and begins coughing violently. From the lens of the robot’s head, a blue light runs along the length of the child.

“Subject 23X7. Human. Female. Elementalist. Electric. Age 13. Four feet. Five inches. Black hair. White skin. Blue eyes. Status. Elevated blood pressure. Health. Normal.”

The girl turns towards the voice. A black jumpsuit encases her but leaves her head, hands, and feet bare. She coughs violently and looks around in confusion. Her breathing comes hard and she shivers in the cold air.

“What?” The girl stammers. “What? Who are you? What are you? Where am I?”

“I am Biological Mechanical Steward Unit Number 7. I am a long-term facility caretaker. You are currently on board the Medical Research Ship New Horizons. An emergency has been declared and emergency protocols are now in effect. You are required to be transferred to the escape pod facility. Please follow me.”

“Warning. Power loss at critical levels. Warning. Power loss at critical levels.”

“What’s going on?” The girl struggles to her feet. “That doesn’t sound good.”

“The ship has suffered a catastrophic failure. Cause. Unknown. In the event of catastrophic failure. All passengers are to be awakened and removed to the escape pods. Please follow me.”

“All passengers?” the girl asks as the little machine leaves the room.

A tremor shakes the floor.

“We must hurry.”

“What is going on?” The girl rubs her head, “How did I get here? I don’t remember.”

“Memory loss is normal for individuals waking from extended sleep. It will return shortly. Please stay with me.”

The ship lurches as she loses her footing. The girl slides along the width of the room. She bounces against the wall and rolls onto the window. Below her, a storm swirls. It leaves an oceanfront and onto a forest-covered land.

“Stabilizing. Stabilizing.” The speakers blare.

Slowly the ship shifts and levels out. At once she drops to the floor and takes a second look at the world swirling below her.

“Please follow me. The ship’s operating system and repair units will continue to stabilize and repair the ship. You must come with me.”

“Wait. You said that there were others?”

“Correct.”

The girl slides to a stop, “What is going on?”

The robot pauses. Its rectangle head spins and faces the girl.

“Please. Follow me. It will all be explained.”

The girl follows after the robot. The machine moves quickly with a quiet hum of its track. The ship’s intercom system continues to sound out updates and warnings.

“This vessel is en route to the colony world Athenia. However, a ship-wide emergency has required all passengers and crew to be evacuated. You are part of the last to be evacuated.”

“Wait. But the ship sounds like it is getting fixed.”

“Protocol dictates in a Class Five Emergency, all crew and passengers are to be evacuated until the ship is restored to Status Normal and the Captain has cleared the ship.”

A low howl fills the air, the girl slides to a stop.

The robot’s head spins slowly.

“What was that?” She asks in a hoarse whisper.

“Standby. Standby.”

The howl comes again. This time it is closer.

The robot spins in place and begins sprinting down the hallway in the opposite direction. The girl takes one look down the hall towards the sound then starts running after the robot.

“What is happening?” She wheezes out as her chest begins to burn with the effort of running.

“Containment of Specimen 332578 has been lost. Emergency Protocol Delta now in effect.”

“What was lost and what is Protocol Delta?” The girl slides to halt and doubles over.

The robot rolls back towards the girl, “Please hurry. You must go to the bunker.”

“Why?”

The hall lights flicker twice than falls dark. Yellow emergency lights burn to life. The howl comes again. This time much closer.

“Specimen 332578 is classified as a Level 10 Experiment. Any containment lost of a Level 10 Experiment is an immediate transfer of all Specimens to the secure bunker and an immediate purge of the facility. Such protocols have a thirty minute wait time. You now have twenty-eight.”

A howl erupts at the end of the hall. The flickering lights reveal a large shadowy figure at the end of it. The yellow lights flicker off its teeth. With a howl, it leaps forward.

The Paths We Walk

brown leaves on a dirt, forest path

The paths we walk
Lie before and behind
Some hidden, some revealed
Some hidden in shadows
Some bright and clear

The paths we walk
Are not always clear
Yet to take the step we must
For to remain or retreat
Is never to reach journey’s end

The paths we walk
Rocky or smooth
Hard or easy
Are not for others to tread
But for our own two feet

Creature of the Deep

In the deep I swim
In the depths I dwell
Gray of dorsal
White of belly
Strength is in my bones
Grace in my motion

In the icy cold
In the deep blackness
I wander the expanse
Traveling where no man has been
Forever moving
Forever hunting

My teeth are razor sharp
Pure white and never dull
My sight never fails
My smell never dull
I swim out of sight
Hunting fish, seal, and shark

Humans fear me
Fish flee before me
Seals tremble at my coming
I swim alone
Across the miles
A lonely king beneath the sea

Pale Moon

The Pale Moon first rose
Long ago when the fields were wild
It’s light shown upon wild things
When the land was feral

Only animals roamed the land
No sound of humans

Then came the natives
Wanders from distant lands
Seeking out a new home

After came the explorers
Seeking the hidden treasures
Seeking the passage west
Seeking the edge of the map

Then time marched passed
Buildings sprung up
And wars were fought
Between men, between nature

The woods gave way to industry
Men slaved away to gain food for family
The land was tamed
And homes were built

The Pale Moon still rises
Over the lands it beheld in its youth
The lands have changed
The people warred and loved

Still the people live and learn
Still the people fight and love
Still the Pale Moon rises
And remembers all that has past