The Mad Time God makes some changes

I, the Mad Time God, look upon the timeline before me. Something is not right. At first, I cannot name the problem. Then revelation shines upon me. A wave of my hand summons a mortal into my presence. Let’s call her Petunia.

Petunia: Um, hello?

Mad Time God (that’s me): Ah yes, Petunia, so good to see you. How’s the husband?

P: He’s —

MTG (not looking up from laptop): Good, great, super. Listen, I’m going to make you a platypus, okay?

P: What?

MTG: Platypus. Egg-laying mammal, lives in Australia. Don’t worry, I won’t make you live there. But the platypus thing is firm.

P: I’m okay staying human, thanks. (looking around for an exit)

MTG: Oh, that’s so cute. You act like you’ve always been human. Trust me, you’ll love the change. Really fleshes out your character arc.

P: But what about my husband?

MTG: No, he can’t be a platypus, that makes no sense whatsoever. (taps chin) I might be persuaded to make him an echidna, for the right price…

P: No, I’m saying I don’t think he wants a platypus for a wife.

MTG: Isn’t that the point? I’m not supposed to make it easy for you mortals, right?

P: Well, you could if you wanted.

MTG: NO. NOT FUN. NOT INTERESTING. (slams laptop closed) Now go get ready for platypusification. (waves hand, Petunia vanishes)

Some time passes. Looking at the timeline, frowning, still perturbed. Again I wave my hand, and again Petunia is beside me.

MTG: Changed my mind.

P: (looking relieved) Oh, good. I wasn’t looking forward to being a platypus.

MTG: Hmm? Oh, no, that’s still going forward. Tested well in focus groups. Can’t disappoint. No, I’m just altering the beginning of your story. Here’s a copy for you, and one for your hubby. (hands over two paperclipped packets)

P: (reading through the packet) You can’t be serious.

MTG: I’m rarely serious.

P: I mean you can’t really be considering —

MTG: I’m not considering anything. It’s done.

P: But — but — this changes the story entirely!

MTG: Yes? So?

P: All those scenes lost. Motivations changed. New settings. What happened to the climax?

MTG: Misplaced it. I’m sure it will turn up eventually.

P: I can’t allow this to —

MTG: Silly platypus, you have no free will! Now off with you. I have to brush my teeth and it creeps me out when people watch. (wave of the hand, Petunia vanishes, etc.) Wait, that’s not true. I love it when people watch me brush my teeth. Washing my feet, that’s what I was thinking of. Oh well. I’ll do it solo this once.

# # #

Just a little dramatization of my editing process for my latest story. Identities changes to protect the innocent.

I didn’t actually turn a character into a platypus, but I did change a fundamental part of her during the first draft, completely changing the story and, in fact, making it weirder. Well, maybe. It depends on your definition.

Changing the beginning of the story, now that part is true. It has created an entirely new timeline. Now, many of the events remain unchanged or only slightly modified, but others have more dramatic differences. The climax of the story isn’t different, but the lead-up to it, the motivations, have changed. And all it took was one tweak, one event changed, to start the domino effect.

It made more work for me, but I hope it is worth it. Really started editing today after several days of planning and re-planning. Hope to have the second draft done by Friday.

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Awkward Hawk, issue #1: Beware the Stare of Dr. Gorgon

Okay, here’s the first in my “Awkward Hawk” series. As I have it planned, each will be a vignette based on one of my socially awkward quirks. Afterward, in case the quirk was not made obvious by the tale (And if that’s the case, what kind of writer am I?), I’ll offer a brief explanation. Let’s get to it already!

WARNING: It turned out longer than anticipated. Advance at your own risk.

Awkward Hawk

Issue #1

Beware the Stare of Dr. Gorgon”

I didn't mean to scare you.

(Picture by electricbill on Flickr)

Dr. Gorgon strolls through the garden of statues clogging Main Street. She peers into cars to see stone drivers and passengers. There’s even a dog statue lifting its leg on a tree. If that isn’t proof of her villainy, I don’t know what is. That dog has to hold it in for who knows how long.

Hurts me just to think about it. Hold on, I’m taking a bathroom break before I continue this narration…. Okay, I’m good.

Nobody can challenge me,” the bad doctor whispers with a smile, then pauses. “Oh, wait, Daring Demon would be a nuisance, being blind and everything. But he’s in New York, so it’s moot. Nobody else can challenge me!”

A pigeon, being unobservant, suicidal, or both, chooses that time to take off from a windowsill. Dr. Gorgon’s gaze swivels in its direction, and she whips off her tinted goggles. The pigeon’s eyes meet hers. Flesh becomes stone, and the pigeon statue plummets to the street, sure to smash upon impact.

That is, it would have, if Awkward Hawk didn’t come swooping down to catch it just in time. Hawk sets it down on the sidewalk. Does a pigeon count as a full life saved? he wonders. Eh, I’m going to say yes. What, is someone going to audit me? He takes out a notepad and adds a tally on the “lives saved” page. After a brief struggle with conscience, he puts a tiny asterisk next to it. Best play it safe.

Really?” Dr. Gorgon scoffs. She has replaced her goggles. Sure, she’ll take them off again when she wants to finish Hawk off, but it’s only polite to allow for banter and/or monologuing. “Awkward Hawk comes to stand against me? Was the Gilded Grasshopper busy? Don’t you have a cave to hide in?”

For your information, it’s being fumigated, and Grasshopper has a dentist appointment. But I would have come anyway!”

I’m certain.” The doctor sits on a car hood and crosses her legs.

So what’s your plan, Gorgon?” Hawk asks. “You aren’t the type for harming the innocent unless there’s profit involved. Where’s the profit here?”

I had a grand speech prepared, you know,” Dr. Gorgon says. “Embellished the affair a bit. But since it’s just you, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version. Did you attend the city council meeting about the road work they planned for next week on this street?”

I think my perfect attendance at council meetings is public record.”

Ah, good. That’s it.”

That’s – what?”

I’ve clogged the street with human statues so they can’t do it.”

But why?”

Because I live right there,” Gorgon points at an apartment building just down the street, “and I work nights, so it would keep me awake.”

Wow. Effective.”

I know, right?” Dr. Gorgon slides off the hood. “Well, it’s been a nice chat and everything, but let’s finish this.”

Good. I was hoping to get to Subway before the lunchtime rush.”

Dr. Gorgon lifts her goggles and stares at Hawk, anticipating his fate as her newest statue. It would be a good one, too, what with the wings and all. Maybe she’d sell that one to an art gallery and pretend she sculpted it. She was preoccupied trying to think of a name for the sculpture, so she didn’t notice Awkward Hawk walking towards her, not turning to stone at all. She settles on “An Angel Falls” when she finally comes to her senses and sees Hawk standing right in front of her. “You’re not stone,” she says.

No, thankfully, I am not.”

But how? My power is irresistible. I could turn an elephant to stone!”

Have you?”

It’s theoretical, but the math supports the hypothesis. How are you doing this?

I dunno.”

Wait – hey, you’re not even looking at me.”

Um, nope, I’m not.”

Have you even looked at me since we’ve been talking?”

Hawk fidgets. If he wasn’t already looking away, he would do it now in embarrassment. “Maybe not.”

That’s just rude.”

Not as rude as your stony gaze, villain!” He was already embarrassed, so he figures he can get away with that line.

Damn it, come here and look at me, coward.” The doctor grabs his face and tried to turn it so their eyes meet. Awkward Hawk struggles, as I’m sure you’ll agree is a good idea in the situation. As they struggle, he twists away rather violently and ends up clipping her with a wing. She goes down without further fight.

Awkward Hawk hasn’t noticed yet, as he is crouching in the street with his arms flung over his face. When he finally peeks out and sees the unconscious villain, he simply says, “Well, this is awkward.”

* * *

And there you have it. So what is the social quirk this is based on? If you guessed “corny one-liners,” you’d be wrong. It’s all about my aversion to eye contact. I can make eye contact, and frequently do. It just makes me uncomfortable for some reason. When I’m talking to someone, I’ll often look off to the side. I’m sure it makes me seem rude (as many of my quirks probably do), but I swear I’m just weirdly shy.

Wow. This turned out longer than I planned. I expected just a piece of a scene – maybe a bit of comic action with some dialogue. Ended up with some bona fide flash fiction over here. As fun as it was, I’m not sure future installments will be as long. I was also considering playing around with a script format (something I haven’t done before). We’ll see. I hope anyone brave enough to read the whole thing enjoyed it.