Two Phrase Story Challenge

This is a challenge by hbhatnagar. The gist is that you have a unfinished phrase you have to complete and turn into a story. Here goes:

“The plane will be landing in ten minutes,” I heard over the intercom, and so I spent those minutes wondering what I was going to say to her. But when the moment came, I found that I couldn’t speak.

Screw Politics

I hate elections. I really do.

I get really emotionally invested in the political process here in the United States. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing at first. After all, the whole point of democracy is that people get to participate in running the country. Theoretically, being invested in politics is a good thing. And it can be! When people are excited about politics, great things can happen. Real change can be achieved.

But when I get engaged in politics, I tend to get angry. I get angry at politicians I don’t like. I get angry with the people who support them. I get angry at laws that happen three states away that technically don’t effect me, nor anyone I know. I get angry at hypothetical wars and imaginary injustices. And I get really, really angry at poll numbers I don’t like.

Then, when I’m done being angry, I just get stressed out. I worry about the politicians I like losing. I worry about the politicians I don’t like winning. I worry about what might happen in a country where someone I particularly dislike, like, say, a certain orange-faced billionaire, became the president. The thing is, I am prone to bouts of depression and anxiety. Politics tends to exacerbate these things for me.

Usually, I can brush this off and go about my daily life, knowing that outside of voting, there’s not that much I can realistically do. I have a full-time job to think about and student loans to pay off. Politics can wait until election day.

Except, in an election year, it really can’t. The long stretch of debates and primary elections means that politics is on all the airwaves constantly. It dominates my Facebook feed. It conquers my twitter feed. It’s on every newspaper, magazine, TV show and blog. It’s practically in the air we breathe.

It can be hard to find a place to take a break from politics in an election year, so I’m going to carve one out for myself. I’m going to try my damnedest each day to find an hour to put aside all the politics and news and just relax and enjoy a book, or maybe get some writing done. I’m setting aside a daily “Screw politics” hour so that I can keep my sanity. If nothing else, let that be the one thing that politics can never take away from me.


The Wall, Bisecting

Someone has been building a wall
down the center of the city. Pulleys
move bricks and tools up to the workers
on either side. I climbed
up the scaffolding, following the pulleys
to a worker laying bricks.
I asked why he was building
the wall. He sighed and said,

“We don’t know.” So I climbed back down
and packed my bag. At dawn, I left the city
by car, following the wall by way of the Westward
road alongside it. When I reached the edge of town

the wall did not stop.

It continued down the highway, bisecting
towns and villages. And always there were workers
on either side, building it up.

I ceased following the wall when
I came to the coast and the road

The wall didn’t.

It is bisecting the sea.

Copyright 2014, Alex Aloi.

Adventures in Patronage

Yesterday, one of my favorite comic creators beat me to death with a candy cane. It’s cool, though. I came back from the dead and shot his ass with a mini-gun!

OK, maybe I should back up a bit.

Now that I’m out of college and have a means to support myself, I’ve actually been able to join Patreon and start throwing money at creators I like. The very first person I tossed cash at was Shane Sheenan of the webcomic Beefpaper, a semi-autobiographical comic about Shane’s many misadventures and goofball antics. The coolest part of supporting Shane, other than helping out a cool guy who makes the cutest comic on the internet, is that every month Shane hosts a Google hangout with his patrons, as well as his fellow comic creator Tasha Dancy of the sci-fi webcomic Tethered.

During this hangout we played Team Fortress 2, a video game in  which two teams of players try to complete objectives while killing each other. I had never played the game before, despite it being free to play for years now. Somehow I managed to do pretty well, at least in the first two games.

Anyway, Shane’s favorite weapon in the game is a giant candy cane that he wields like a baseball bat. Me? I seem to do best with the mini-gun wielding Heavy.

A screenshot someone grabbed of me during the game.

We spent about an hour and a half killing each other before people had to leave. We then spent another half hour on Twitter talking about the game, tweeting screenshots, griping about how we all got our asses handed to us on the Territories map, and just having a good time.

Being able to interact with some of my favorite comic creators on such a personal level was a mind-boggling experience to me. I’ve loved webcomics ever since I discovered PvP and XKCD in high school. It has been a recurring fantasy of mine to meet and interact with my favorite comic creators. These fantasies usually involve elaborate scenarios in which I not only meet the person in question, but they discover how insanely awesome I am at writing and become my BFF for life. Then we go fight crime and end world hunger. I never really expected any of these fantasies to come true, until one did. Sort of.

Of course, Shane and Tasha aren’t as well known as most of the other creators I follow, so they have an easier time interacting with their fan base just on the virtue of not having thousands of followers and patrons.

I hope that if I ever get “internet-famous” that I am able to establish a relationship like this with my own readers. Being acknowledged and welcomed is a truly self-affirming experience, even when it comes at the end of a blood-stained candy cane.

If you want in on the action, head over to Shane’s Patreon and sign up for a monthly donation.