Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Soul Harvest

Brian lays beside his wife trying to match his breathing to hers. He is tempted to wake her up, just to bask in her presence. He does not want to deal with the pointed insomnia, clicking between his nightwardly thoughts. The husband and father turns over and over next to his wife. Trying to give up into his pillow, failing each time.

He hears something, underneath.

The slight vibrations and muffled sounds take a couple minutes to be recognized, but the cause of the sound becomes definitive: Daniel, his youngest son is still up playing video games. A slight anger is pleased to provide assistance to Brian's languid mental workings. Father is wide awake, slipping out of bed and heading downstairs to the room below.

Brian strolls into the den to find Daniel with his game on pause, staring right at him.

"Um..I was just...finishing my last game..."

The lie is feable, one that lazily escapes the mouth to fill the silence.

"It's can play."

"Oh..." Daniel responds. Confused.

"I don't know..." Brian responds honestly, shrugging his shoulders a bit. "I couldn't sleep."


"Well, I'll tell you what, seeing as how I find those games of yours a complete waste of time, try explaining this one to me and then maybe I'll get tired and be out of here."

"Alright..." Daniel responds, eyes now dancing around in their sockets thoughtfully, searching for something in around the desk area. "Ok, look here, Dad..." he starts, finally finding the box for the game sitting under some papers.

'Soul Harvest' the is black and white ying-yang symbol.

"Lovely..." Brian exclaims rolling his eyes slightly.

"It is pretty cool..." Daniel starts, pointing to the box. "Essentially there are two sides -- black and white -- and the overall goal is to harvest souls. Now, each side does it differently..." His son swivels around in his chair back to the computer screen and simultaneously hits a combination of keys which minimize the game window and bring up a page on the internet browser.

Brian can see the words 'Soul Harvest' at the top of the webpage.

"I write on this forum and learn stuff for the game -- almost everyone agrees black is the best because it's more fun if you're on the hunt, trying to survive." Daniel explains. "Black gets way cool technology and awesome effects. White is soooo boring, pretty much everyone agrees that playing black is way more fun. Playing white is just boring, honestly, I don't know why that part of the game was designed that way."

"Sounds like maybe I'd like the white team..."

"It's not a team, it's a soul class, Dad."

"Oh, OK. So...what's the overall point of the game?"

Daniel brings the game back up. "Ok, essentially the black guys are mutli-phase creatures from the start, whereas white can only achieve that later on past all the boring stuff. So, anyways, it's pretty simple, at least at the start -- you want to sneak up on a white Terrcon--"

"What's a Terrcon?"

Daniel points the mouse at a small humanoid-looking creature walking around in the game environment. "That thing" he explains. From the white soul class.”


"Anyways, you phase shift and then sneak up and click 'infest' and if you're successful in your attempt then you can start influencing the Terrcon's body to do different things it wouldn’t normally want to do. It's all about emotion."

"So how do you win?"

"Well, for black it's just to obtain the whole a soul-shell for your character -- like getting a whole black circle" he adds, pausing and bring up his status meter which is 90%."

"What about for white?"

"Well," Daniel shrugs, "I guess it's to get a white circle. The whites start off with a whole soul-shell but they try and decrease their shading of black as they progress -- I don't know really know, it's just kind of the opposite I guess."

‘Hmm’ Brian sounds, half thinking over the game and half thinking over the state of the gaming industry these days. "So do you just control one 'Terrcon' or is there more to it?"

"Oh yeah!" Daniel laughs, starting to punch in more keys and wielding the mouse with a skill Brian will never master. The young man zooms out on the environment map and soon a small country comes into view. A few major cities seem to be visible. "See..." Daniel starts, circling a city with his mouse. "It all takes place in the white world. If you can make a Terrcon afraid then you can gain BSP's, or 'Black Soul Points'. So like... I made this city to be ruled with religion, and this other one with science, and then and once and a while I can convince them to go to war with each other. That's extra points."

"Why would you do that?" Brian asks, letting out a small yawn. He's happy to be tired again and ready to try sleeping, but he is admittedly fascinated by this.

"Well, when the whites kill each other then you absorb soul points and you build more of your black soul shell."

Brian shakes his head a bit. "So, let me get this straight: You're trying to coerce computer things into killing each other for points? Well, that sounds like a real nice game Daniel..."

"No, Dad..." He magnifies back down into the city towards what looks like a church. "You see..." he says clicking on the church with the cursor to bring up a small caption above the stained glass structure. " only half of it. Where you really get points is when they cross over into the black phase. Into de-”

“Into death. Honestly, Daniel.”

He stops, confused, “What?...So when they die they enter the black phase. Depending on what beliefs they formed while in the white phase determines how much extra soul pain you can take them for. The white is physical; black phase is all mental. So you see how I have this church? You need to have some level of fear in order to soul drain from a Terrcon, which is how you get your BSP’s”

“Unreal." Brian just shakes his head, but still wanting more. "What happens in the science city?”

“Well, science cities are for beginner players mostly, and it’s complicated, but essentially you belief apparatus will catch more of the population. Less of them live in fear, so wars and bonuses like that don’t happen as much, but they hardly ever achieve a full white belief function. You want to have zero for the white belief function score, but so far no one's done it. Some of the people online say it can't be done...The company has no comment."

"So besides playing it in the first place, how do you lose this game?"

“Well, the game time moves very fast. The Terrcons age quickly. So when they die, depending on their belief function, they can get trapped in fear, or go to limbo where they sleep for a couple minutes of game time before being re-birthed as new Terrcons, or if a Terrcon soul attains a full white belief function then you lose a portion of your soul shell. Full white belief function is like miracles and stuff -- and they spread. If you lose all of your soul shell, you lose the game.”

Another yawn escapes Brian's mouth and he thinks he's heard about enough. "Well Daniel, I'm not going to lie, if I had known that's how that game transpires I wouldn't have let you get it."


"Anyways, you've bored me enough, I'm going back to bed -- don't be up too late. You have school tomorrow.”

Monday, June 08, 2009


Bowling is a game that takes place in frames, added together. When you get a strike you want to capitalize on the next frame. It has that compounding element to it. A strike is the best there is. Total perfection. It is the moment when you realize that all matter is in motion, and every waking second is the messy collision of forces, but in that prolonged moment is the essence of art and sport alike. It is everything or nothing. It is standing or laying down. It is seeing and believing.

There is a party going on in a bowling alley, and there are also onlookers. Present, focussed.

Thirteen individuals are gathered of varying intellectual anomalies. Their conditions are unfortunate for the onlookers, but some of these people scrape realms of perception the onlookers will never visit. Everyone here, in some way, is the way that they will be for the rest of their life.

“Meagan, I think you are nice.” One young man says this in earnest, awkwardly placing his gentle arms around the birthday girl. He walks up and rolls three gutter balls in a row.

One of the other girls is fixated on one of the older male onlookers. “Richard I think you are nice.” She raises one hand for a high-five.

“That’s...nice.” He lands his hand on her innocent palm, watching her blink a couple times, holding her smile and stare. He pushes a smile again, turning from her to roll a strike.

“I see an alien.” Jules stands near the small mount of shoes which await the end of this game. He is a pleasant, even sometimes witty boy. He is, of course, of some type of impairment, but doctors have found it hard to pin down. He is older than the rest of the kids, but still needs to be watched. “Over there.” He points forward, generally. He is totally harmless.

“Ok Jules, come back over here though, OK?” The mother of the birthday girl beckons him back over to the group with a smile. “It’s almost your turn to bowl.”

“But I see it...”

Another strike from the onlookers, who are surprisingly competitive for their sister’s birthday party -- and surprisingly popular.

“I wish I could see aliens.” They laugh, sparking looks from the kids; from the birthday girl.”

“K, can we get serious here for a minute?” Another strike.

Then another, but this time from the birthday girl. “I did it!” Meagan jumps up and down a couple times before running back to her friends. “I did it!” She gets high-fives from her friends. She is popular. She has the symmetry.

“Hey Meagan.” Jules sits down beside her, his large frame juxtaposed with hers. “I saw an alien. This party is fun.”

She nods knowingly. “Jules, I just got a score!”

None of the onlookers know exactly what to say to all of this. They know each other so well compared to the kids, but communication is not always easy, or at all possible.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Then the body hit the floor.

Sophia’s frame stings with the heat of love. What an inferno it can create. She would scream but there is no one in the house that will do anything. This is not new, and there is nothing but the floor. Likewise Frank doesn’t say a word, he’s always been the quiet type.

It’s just the sounds. A constant reminder for both. This external world.

Sophia was born a very special girl, and so far continues to be. Her intelligence quotient is listed in an anomalous category. Her first strip to the classroom, she explained to the skeptics her epistemology. Some of them stopped laughing, and others started. She is getting older now, developed enough that she cannot fully and permanently contain the images to which she is related.

Frank is a very clever man, for he is Sophia’s father. He reaches down to grip the crown of her skull, and feels a life force pulsing, purple with potential. He knows of this potential, but he yet remains trapped in this dungeon. These walls. There is always a way out. He tells himself this, lifting her up just to throw her back down again.

Then the body hit wall.

Frank knows, as Sophia knows, that he identifies in a different kind of way.


Helen married Frank, all that time ago. A woman never feels as complete as she does on her wedding night, and hers was a perfect. Their union was like two halves of a brain -- one person. She was drunk all night though she never had a glass. She’s always been intoxicated with him. She always will be.

When they first met, he was an athlete; a dream, really. He would get out of the shower and swoop her off of her feet. He would hold her so tight. Frank planned it all out: the future, her career. He does all the taxes, as he is a lawyer now. Often Helen will watch him late at night as he works in his office. The lamp illuminates his serious face with its soft heavenly glow. He sometimes looks up, reaching out his hand to her. She knows he will protect her, but forever she is waiting for a vacation to the mysteries which flurry the butterflies in her stomach. Her, the explorer, and he, the guide.


The Wilbers live on a fairly safe, family street. It is near a school, and there is also a park down the street. You don’t see the police around here too much, in the suburbs, but still you know that they are near if things get dire. There are neighborhood watch signs. People care.

The Wilbers are known for throwing barbecues. Nothing crazy, and definitely not loud. Just some friends. An educated group that will discuss the dynamics of life. Such people are happy, productive, with dark circles under their eyes.