*Magnify*
    September     ►
SMTWTFS
   
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
Archive RSS
SPONSORED LINKS
Creative fun in
the palm of your hand.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/thundersbeard
Rated: 18+ · Book · Personal · #1808259
"I could eat alphabet soup and crap better lyrics then that." - Johny Mercer.
From June 2016 entries are entered into "The Bard's Hall Contest"   by StephB Happy 21 WDC

From May 2017 entries are entered into "Invalid Item"   by A Guest Visitor /right}
From June 2017 entries are entered into "Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks"   by Andy~Stargate WDC is live

From June 2016 entries are entered into "Blogging Circle of Friends "   by Witchy woman



Logo for my blog ... with a play on words

I'm a writer, who doesn't write.
An artist, who doesn't paint.
I'm a blogger, who doesn't blog.
I'm a dreamer. And all I do is dream
.


I was born a donkey, but lived as a man. My parents sent me out from the paddock so that I could learn the secrets of corned bread. Seeing for myself the world of men made me curious because that was my weakness. Always my weakness. My hind-legs were strong and so began my masquerade. I became a man and walked the world of men.

I tasted many delights, and many disasters. But soon I found that I needed a thing called money. To continue my quest I would need to work. A courier seemed the most obvious thing. Although, was I not a man now and not a pack-mule? No. No couriers work for me. I chose a trade and worked in a factory.

I had not forgotten my quest for the secret of corned bread. Every night, while printing the newspaper on the night shift, I would see the grand old culinary designs in the food and drink section. There was so much more to food then corned bread.

Continue My Memoir of Magic and Dreams

This is my blog documenting my experiences on http://www.writing.com. In it, I will include my reviews of others works, links to offsite writings, and importantly, I think, moan and complain constantly about the machinations of this beautiful, sexy, inspiring and fearsome beast of a writing community.

I didn't do anything about my desire to write for over 20 years and I have a lot of catching up to do. I'm a little worried that I've left it all too late and I won't have enough time to become a good writer.

I'm always up for joining in on blogging groups and challenges, so if you have one - let me know here.

Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... Next
September 14, 2018 at 12:02am
September 14, 2018 at 12:02am
#941383

I was looking through my google drive files to find an assignment I have misplaced - and I stumbled on some old assignments I did almost ten years ago for an online fiction writing course (not on this site - an actual, accredited writing course). This was well before I found writing.com, and it was before I had made any inroads at all on battling my writer's brick (my term for an inability to sit down and write). Unfortunately, I only did 3 or 4 assignments before the weight of performance anxiety got to me. That's right, when it actually came time for me to write a real short story, I folded and ran away with my stripey tail between my legs.


You may find it a tad confusing at first, the teachers edits and formats didn't come across in the cut and paste.

I really wish I had finished this course.

---


ASSIGNMENT 1
Intelligent and insightful first assignment.
I’m very impressed by your creative leap in changing ‘war’ to ‘laughter’ as a commodity.
Terrific work!
June Colbert
Send a copy of the story you read in the set task, together with your answers. If you feel this story could be improved, tell us your thoughts.
SET TASK
Find a short fiction story in a newspaper or magazine. Read and analyse this story, answering the following questions. (Cut out, or copy the story, so you can submit it when you send this lesson’s assignment.)
How was the theme developed? (Analogy, Chronological, Deductive, etc.) With suspense/action and lots of exposition. Well analysed
How would you categorise this work? (Fantasy, Suspense, Comedy, Drama, etc) science fiction It has the science element – yes – and could almost be classed as Speculative Sci fi – a kind of ‘what if this happened’ with a scientific basis. It reads like classis 1960’s futuristic sci fi and is very imaginative and interesting.
Recognising that there are certain characteristics common to a fiction story, identify each of the following, if it exists, within this story:

-A strong plot Neel is investigating the rising k factor on a world. Costa is helping him in his secret investigation which is full of danger.
-A protagonist. Neel
-An obvious motivation Societics has detected problems on a world. Good. The story of Societics is a backstory in itself -how it came to be and how it came to be accepted – and this informs our response to the story.
-Action the riots, Costa’s death, Neel’s capture
-A colourful background: globe trotting scientists yes
-An antagonist Neel’s old buddy


2. Plan a variation on the story you analysed in your set task, where you retain the characters and setting, but change the events in order to create a different category of story. For example, if it is a romance, consider how you might retain the characters and setting but by changing the events, create a drama, suspense or comedy.
Change the K Factor to mean not War but laughter. Use the comedians term “killing” as in making the audience laugh instead of Kill Factor meaning actual killing. This is imaginative and quite brilliant, I think. Make Costa a bumbling Colombo type and have Neel broadcast Costa bumbling around like a Jackass performer to the masses. The K Factor balances out again, as humour is subjective.
3. What three categories of story do you think you are most suited to write? In your own words differentiate between these three categories. In answering this question, show us that you can focus on what is being asked, and not stray from the question. We want you to show differences between three categories. We do not want you to show similarities; nor are we looking for definitions.
Fantasy Category deals with strange worlds that could not be the Earth as we know it. Science Fiction is different in that its stories could very well have happened or have happened. Where fantasy is usually medieval or primitive times Science Fiction is using an alternate advanced world or a possible future world. The third category I feel that I could write is comedy. Where the other two categories deal with setting, comedy deals with style. Insightful analysis. Technically, fantasy could also be set in the future but somehow the sword-and –sandals brigade and the medieval fanciers have high-jacked the vast majority of fantasy series.
However, future worlds can be fantasy without strictly being sci fi or speculative fiction (one of my own favourites).
4. In your own words, define the following terms:
Prose: a written story.
Narrative: a story path.
Drama: an emotional story.
Genre: background/setting of story. Genre refers to type – e.g. sci fi, romance, or crime genre refers to specific types of books that conform to set conventions – eg. Crime noir (like James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler) Paranormal romance (Twilight series) , Sci fi (E. Doc Smith, Isaac Asimov) etc



The Project Gutenberg EBook of The K-Factor, by
Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: The K-Factor

Author: Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

Illustrator: Summers

Release Date: September 8, 2007 [EBook #22540]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE K-FACTOR ***




Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net







THE
K-FACTOR

By HARRY HARRISON

Speed never hurt anybody—it's the sudden stop at the end. It's not how much change that signals danger, but how fast it's changing....
Illustrated by Summers


E'RE losing a planet, Neel. I'm afraid that I can't ... understand it."
The bald and wrinkled head wobbled a bit on the thin neck, and his eyes were moist. Abravanel was a very old man. Looking at him, Neel realized for the first time just how old and close to death he was. It was a profoundly shocking thought.
"Pardon me, sir," Neel broke in, "but is it possible? To lose a planet, I mean. If the readings are done correctly, and the k-factor equations worked to the tenth decimal place, then it's really just a matter of adjustment, making the indicated corrections. After all, Societics is an exact science—"
"Exact? Exact! Of course it's not! Have I taught you so little that you dare say that to me?" Anger animated the old man, driving the shadow of death back a step or two.
Neel hesitated, feeling his hands quiver ever so slightly, groping for the right words. Societics was his faith, and his teacher, Abravanel, its only prophet. This man before him, carefully preserved by the age-retarding drugs, was unique in the galaxy. A living anachronism, a refugee from the history books. Abravanel had singlehandedly worked out the equations, spelled out his science of Societics. Then he had trained seven generations of students in its fundamentals. Hearing the article of his faith defamed by its creator produced a negative feedback loop in Neel so strong his hands vibrated in tune with it. It took a jarring effort to crack out of the cycle.
"The laws that control Societics, as postulated by ... you, are as exact as any others in the unified-field theory universe."
"No they're not. And, if any man I taught believes that nonsense, I'm retiring tomorrow and dropping dead the day after. My science—and it is really not logical to call it a science—is based on observation, experimentation, control groups and corrected observations. And though we have made observations in the millions, we are dealing in units in the billions, and the interactions of these units are multiples of that. And let us never forget that our units are people who, when they operate as individuals, do so in a completely different manner. So you cannot truthfully call my theories exact. They fit the facts well enough and produce results in practice, that has been empirically proven. So far. Some day, I am sure, we will run across a culture that doesn't fit my rules. At that time the rules will have to be revised. We may have that situation now on Himmel. There's trouble cooking there."
"They have always had a high activity count, sir," Neel put in hopefully.
"High yes, but always negative. Until now. Now it is slightly positive and nothing we can do seems to change it. That's why I've called you in. I want you to run a new basic survey, ignoring the old one still in operation, to re-examine the check points on our graphs. The trouble may lie there."
Neel thought before he answered, picking his words carefully. "Wouldn't that be a little ... unethical, sir? After all Hengly, who is operator there now, is a friend of mine. Going behind his back, you know."
"I know nothing of the sort." Abravanel snorted. "We are not playing for poker chips, or seeing who can get a paper published first. Have you forgotten what Societics is?"
Neel answered by rote. "The applied study of the interaction of individuals in a culture, the interaction of the group generated by these individuals, the equations derived therefrom, and the application of these equations to control one or more factors of this same culture."
"And what is the one factor that we have tried to control in order to make all the other factors possible of existence?"
"War." Neel said, in a very small voice.
"Very good then, there is no doubt what it is we are talking about. You are going to land quietly on Himmel, do a survey as quickly as possible and transmit the data back here. There is no cause to think of it as sneaking behind Hengly's back, but as doing something to help him set the matter right. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Neel said firmly this time, straightening his back and letting his right hand rest reassuringly on the computer slung from his belt.
"Excellent. Then it is now time to meet your assistant." Abravanel touched a button on his desk.
It was an unexpected development and Neel waited with interest as the door opened. But he turned away abruptly, his eyes slitted and his face white with anger. Abravanel introduced them.
"Neel Sidorak, this is—"
"Costa. I know him. He was in my class for six months." There wasn't the slightest touch of friendliness in Neel's voice now. Abravanel either ignored it or didn't hear it. He went on as if the two cold, distant young men were the best of friends.
"Classmates. Very good—then there is no need to make introductions. Though it might be best to make clear your separate areas of control. This is your project Neel, and Adao Costa will be your assistant, following your orders and doing whatever he can to help. You know he isn't a graduate Societist, but he has done a lot of field work for us and can help you greatly in that. And, of course, he will be acting as an observer for the UN, and making his own reports in this connection."
Neel's anger was hot and apparent. "So he's a UN observer now. I wonder if he still holds his old job at the same time. I think it only fair, sir, that you know. He works for Interpol."
Abravanel's ancient and weary eyes looked at both men, and he sighed. "Wait outside Costa," he said, "Neel will be with you in a minute."
Costa left without a word and Abravanel waved Neel back to his chair. "Listen to me now," he said, "and stop playing tunes on that infernal buzzer." Neel snapped his hand away from the belt computer, as if it had suddenly grown hot. A hesitant finger reached out to clear the figures he had nervously been setting up, then thought better of it. Abravanel sucked life into his ancient pipe and squinted at the younger man.
"Listen," he said. "You have led a very sheltered life here at the university, and that is probably my fault. No, don't look angry, I don't mean about girls. In that matter undergraduates have been the same for centuries. I'm talking about people in groups, individuals, politics, and all the complicated mess that makes up human life. This has been your area of study and the program is carefully planned so you can study it secondhand. The important thing is to develop the abstract viewpoint, since any attempt to prejudge results can only mean disaster. And it has been proved many times that a man with a certain interest will make many unwitting errors to shape an observation or experiment in favor of his interest. No, we could have none of that here.
"We are following the proper study of mankind and we must do that by keeping personally on the outside, to preserve our perspective. When you understand that, you understand many small things about the university. Why we give only resident student scholarships at a young age, and why the out-of-the-way location here in the Dolomites. You will also see the reason why the campus bookstore stocks all of the books published, but never has an adequate supply of newspapers. The agreed policy has been to see that you all mature with the long view. Then—hopefully—you will be immune to short-term political interests after you leave.
"This policy has worked well in turning out men with the correct attitude towards their work. It has also turned out a fair number of self-centered, egocentric horrors."
Neel flushed. "Do you mean that I—"
"No, I don't mean you. If I did, I would say so. Your worst fault—if you can call it a fault, since it is the very thing we have been trying to bring about—is that you have a very provincial attitude towards the universe. Now is the time to re-examine some of those ideas. Firstly, what do you think the attitude of the UN is towards Societics?"
There was no easy answer, Neel could see traps ready for anything he said. His words were hesitant. "I can't say I've really ever thought about it. I imagine the UN would be in favor of it, since we make their job of world government that much easier—"
"No such thing," Abravanel said, tempering the sharpness of his words with a smile. "To put it in the simplest language, they hate our guts. They wish I had never formulated Societics, and at the same time they are very glad I did. They are in the position of the man who caught the tiger by the tail. The man enjoys watching the tiger eat all of his enemies, but as each one is consumed his worry grows greater. What will happen when the last one is gone? Will the tiger then turn and eat him?
"Well—we are the UN's tiger. Societics came along just at the time it was sorely needed. Earth had settled a number of planets, and governed them. First as outposts, then as colonies. The most advanced planets very quickly outgrew the colony stage and flexed their independent muscles. The UN had no particular desire to rule an empire, but at the same time they had to insure Earth's safety. I imagine they were considering all sorts of schemes—including outright military control—when they came to me.
"Even in its early, crude form, Societics provided a stopgap that would give them some breathing time. They saw to it that my work was well endowed and aided me—unofficially of course—in setting up the first control experiments on different planets. We had results, some very good, and the others not so bad that the local police couldn't get things back under control after a while. I was, of course, happy to perfect my theories in practice. After a hundred years I had all the rough spots evened down and we were in business. The UN has never come up with a workable alternative plan, so they have settled down to the uncomfortable business of holding the tiger's tail. They worry and spend vast sums of money keeping an eye on our work."
"But why?" Neel broke in.
"Why?" Abravanel gave a quick smile. "Thank you for fine character rating. I imagine it is inconceivable to you that I might want to be Emperor of the Universe. I could be, you know. The same forces that hold the lids on the planets could just as easily blow them off."
Neel was speechless at the awful enormity of the thought. Abravanel rose from behind his desk with an effort, and shambled over to lay a thin and feather-light arm on the younger man's shoulders. "Those are the facts of life my boy. And since we cannot escape them, we must live with them. Costa is just a man doing his duty. So try and put up with him. For my sake if not for your own."
"Of course," Neel agreed quickly. "The whole thing takes a bit of getting used to, but I think I can manage. We'll do as good a job on Himmel as it is possible to do. Don't worry about me, sir."
Costa was waiting in the next room, puffing quietly on a long cigarette. They left together, walking down the hall in silence. Neel glanced sideways at the wiry, dark-skinned Brazilian and wondered what he could say to smooth things out. He still had his reservations about Costa, but he'd keep them to himself now. Abravanel had ordered peace between them, and what the old man said was the law.
It was Costa who spoke first. "Can you brief me on Himmel—what we'll find there, and be expected to do?"
"Run the basic survey first, of course," Neel told him. "Chances are that that will be enough to straighten things out. Since the completion last year of the refining equations of Debir's Postulate, all sigma-110 and alpha-142 graph points are suspect—"
"Just stop there please, and run the flag back down the pole." Costa interrupted. "I had a six-months survey of Societics seven years ago, to give me a general idea of the field. I've worked with survey teams since then, but I have only the vaguest idea of the application of the information we got. Could you cover the ground again—only a bit slower?"
Neel controlled his anger successfully and started again, in his best classroom manner.
"Well, I'm sure you realize that a good survey is half the problem. It must be impartial and exact. If it is accurately done, application of the k-factor equations is almost mechanical."
"You've lost me again. Everyone always talks about the k-factor, but no one has ever explained just what it is."
Neel was warming to his topic now. "It's a term borrowed from nucleonics, and best understood in that context. Look, you know how an atomic pile works—essentially just like an atomic bomb. The difference is just a matter of degree and control. In both of them you have neutrons tearing around, some of them hitting nuclei and starting new neutrons going. These in turn hit and start others. This goes on faster and faster and bam, a few milliseconds later you have an atomic bomb. This is what happens if you don't attempt to control the reaction.
"However, if you have something like heavy water or graphite that will slow down neutrons and an absorber like cadmium, you can alter the speed of the reaction. Too much damping material will absorb too many neutrons and the reaction will stop. Not enough and the reaction will build up to an explosion. Neither of these extremes is wanted in an atomic pile. What is needed is a happy balance where you are soaking up just as many neutrons as are being generated all the time. This will give you a constant temperature inside the reactor. The net neutron reproduction constant is then 1. This balance of neutron generation and absorption is the k-factor of the reactor. Ideally 1.0000000.
"That's the ideal, though, the impossible to attain in a dynamic system like a reactor. All you need is a few more neutrons around, giving you a k-factor of 1.00000001 and you are headed for trouble. Each extra neutron produces two and your production rate soars geometrically towards bang. On the other hand, a k-factor of 0.999999999 is just as bad. Your reaction is spiraling down in the other direction. To control a pile you watch your k-factor and make constant adjustments."
"All this I follow," Costa said, "but where's the connection with Societics?"
"We'll get to that—just as soon as you realize and admit that a minute difference of degree can produce a marked difference of kind. You might say that a single, impossibly tiny, neutron is the difference between an atom bomb and a slowly cooling pile of inert uranium isotopes. Does that make sense?"
"I'm staggering, but still with you."
"Good. Then try to go along with the analogy that a human society is like an atomic pile. At one extreme you will have a dying, decadent culture—the remains of a highly mechanized society—living off its capital, using up resources it can't replace because of a lost technology. When the last machine breaks and the final food synthesizer collapses the people will die. This is the cooled down atomic pile. At the other extreme is complete and violent anarchy. Every man thinking only of himself, killing and destroying anything that gets in his way—the atomic explosion. Midway between the two is a vital, active, producing society.
"This is a generalization—and you must look at it that way. In reality society is infinitely complex, and the ramifications and possibilities are endless. It can do a lot more things than fizzle or go boom. Pressure of population, war or persecution patterns can cause waves of immigration. Plant and animal species can be wiped out by momentary needs or fashions. Remember the fate of the passenger pigeon and the American bison.
"All the pressures, cross-relationships, hungers, needs, hatreds, desires of people are reflected in their interrelationships. One man standing by himself tells us nothing. But as soon as he says something, passes on information in an altered form, or merely expresses an attitude—he becomes a reference point. He can be marked, measured and entered on a graph. His actions can be grouped with others and the action of the group measured. Man—and his society—then becomes a systems problem that can be fed into a computer. We've cut the Gordian knot of the three-L's and are on our way towards a solution."
"Stop!" Costa said, raising his hand. "I was with you as far as the 3L's. What are they? A private code?"
"Not a code—abbreviation. Linear Logic Language, the pitfall of all the old researchers. All of them, historians, sociologists, political analysts, anthropologists, were licked before they started. They had to know all about A and B before they could find C. Facts to them were always hooked up in a series. Whereas in truth they had to be analyzed as a complex circuit complete with elements like positive and negative feedback, and crossover switching. With the whole thing being stirred up constantly by continual homeostasis correction. It's little wonder they did do badly."
"You can't really say that," Adao Costa protested. "I'll admit that Societics has carried the art tremendously far ahead. But there were many basics that had already been discovered."

"If you are postulating a linear progression from the old social sciences—forget it," Neel said. "There is the same relationship here that alchemy holds to physics. The old boys with their frog guts and awful offal knew a bit about things like distilling and smelting. But there was no real order to their knowledge, and it was all an unconsidered by-product of their single goal, the whole nonsense of transmutation."
They passed a lounge, and Adao waved Neel in after him, dropping into a chair. He rummaged through his pockets for a cigarette, organizing his thoughts. "I'm still with you," he said. "But how do we work this back to the k-factor?"
"Simple," Neel told him. "Once you've gotten rid of the 3L's and their false conclusions. Remember that politics in the old days was all We are angels and They are devils. This was literally believed. In the history of mankind there has yet to be a war that wasn't backed by the official clergy on each side. And each declared that God was on their side. Which leaves You Know Who as prime supporter of the enemy. This theory is no more valid than the one that a single man can lead a country into war, followed by the inference that a well-timed assassination can save the peace."
"That doesn't sound too unreasonable," Costa said.
"Of course not. All of the old ideas sound good. They have a simple-minded simplicity that anyone can understand. That doesn't make them true. Kill a war-minded dictator and nothing changes. The violence-orientated society, the factors that produced it, the military party that represents it—none of these are changed. The k-factor remains the same."
"There's that word again. Do I get a definition yet?"
Neel smiled. "Of course. The k-factor is one of the many factors that interrelate in a society. Abstractly it is no more important than the other odd thousand we work with. But in practice it is the only one we try to alter."
"The k-factor is the war factor," Adao Costa said. All the humor was gone now.
"That's a good enough name for it," Neel said, grinding out his half-smoked cigarette. "If a society has a positive k-factor, even a slight one that stays positive, then you are going to have a war. Our planetary operators have two jobs. First to gather and interpret data. Secondly to keep the k-factor negative."
They were both on their feet now, moved by the same emotion.
"And Himmel has a positive one that stays positive," Costa said. Neel Sidorak nodded agreement. "Then let's get into the ship and get going," he said.
It was a fast trip and a faster landing. The UN cruiser cut its engines and dropped like a rock in free fall. Night rain washed the ports and the computer cut in the maximum permissible blast for the minimum time that would reduce their speed to zero at zero altitude. Deceleration sat on their chests and squeezed their bones to rubber. Something crunched heavily under their stern at the exact instant the drive cut out. Costa was unbelted and out the door while Neel was still feeling his insides shiver back into shape.
The unloading had an organized rhythm that rejected Neel. He finally realized he could help best by standing back out of the way while the crewmen grav-lifted the heavy cases out through the cargo port, into the blackness of the rain-lashed woods. Adao Costa supervised this and seemed to know what he was doing. A signal rating wearing earphones stood to one side of the lock chanting numbers that sounded like detector fixes. There was apparently enough time to unload everything—but none to spare. Things got close towards the end.
Neel was suddenly bustled out into the rain and the last two crates were literally thrown out after him. He plowed through the mud to the edge of the clearing and had just enough time to cover his face before the take-off blast burst out like a new sun.
"Sit down and relax," Costa told him. "Everything is in the green so far. The ship wasn't spotted on the way down. Now all we have to do is wait for transportation."
In theory at least, Adao Costa was Neel's assistant. In practice he took complete charge of moving their equipment and getting it under cover in the capital city of Kitezh. Men and trucks appeared to help them, and vanished as soon as their work was done. Within twenty hours they were installed in a large loft, all of the machines uncrated and plugged in. Neel took a no-sleep and began tuning checks on all the circuits, glad of something to do. Costa locked the heavy door behind their last silent helper, then dropped gratefully onto one of the bedding rolls.
"How did the gadgets hold up?" he asked.
"I'm finding out now. They're built to take punishment—but being dropped twelve feet into mud soup, then getting baked by rockets isn't in the original specs."
"They crate things well these days," Costa said unworriedly, sucking on a bottle of the famous Himmelian beer. "When do you go to work?"
"We're working right now," Neel told him, pulling a folder of papers out of the file. "Before we left I drew up a list of current magazines and newspapers I would need. You can start on these. I'll have a sampling program planned by the time you get back."
Costa groaned hollowly and reached for the papers.
Once the survey was in operation it went ahead of its own momentum. Both men grabbed what food and sleep they could. The computers gulped down Neel's figures and spat out tape-reels of answers that demanded even more facts. Costa and his unseen helpers were kept busy supplying the material.
Only one thing broke the ordered labors of the week. Neel blinked twice at Costa before his equation-fogged brain assimilated an immediate and personal factor.
"You've a bandage on your head," he said. "A blood-stained bandage!"
"A little trouble in the streets. Mobs. And that's an incredible feat of observation," Costa marveled. "I had the feeling that if I came in here stark naked, you wouldn't notice it."
"I ... I get involved," Neel said. Dropping the papers on a table and kneading the tired furrow between his eyes. "Get wrapped up in the computation. Sorry. I tend to forget about people."
"Don't feel sorry to me," Costa said. "You're right. Doing the job. I'm supposed to help you, not pose for the before picture in Home Hospital ads. Anyway—how are we doing? Is there going to be a war? Certainly seems like one brewing outside. I've seen two people lynched who were only suspected of being Earthies."
"Looks don't mean a thing," Neel said, opening two beers. "Remember the analogy of the pile. It boils liquid metal and cooks out energy from the infrared right through to hard radiation. Yet it keeps on generating power at a nice, steady rate. But your A-bomb at zero minus one second looks as harmless as a fallen log. It's the k-factor that counts, not surface appearance. This planet may look like a dictator's dream of glory, but as long as we're reading in the negative things are fine."
"And how are things? How's our little k-factor?"
"Coming out soon," Neel said, pointing at the humming computer. "Can't tell about it yet. You never can until the computation is complete. There's a temptation to try and guess from the first figures, but they're meaningless. Like trying to predict the winner of a horse race by looking at the starters lined up at the gate."
"Lots of people think they can."
"Let them. There are few enough pleasures in this life without taking away all delusions."
Behind them the computer thunked and was suddenly still.
"This is it," Neel said, and pulled out the tape. He ran it quickly through his fingers, mumbling under his breath. Just once he stopped and set some figures into his hand computer. The result flashed in the window and he stared at it, unmoving.
"Good? Bad? What is it?"
Neel raised his head and his eyes were ten years older.
"Positive. Bad. Much worse than it was when we left Earth."
"How much time do we have?"
"Don't know for certain," Neel shrugged. "I can set it up and get an approximation. But there is no definite point on the scale where war has to break out. Just a going and going until, somewhere along the line—"
"I know. Gone." Costa said, reaching for his gun. He slid it into his side pocket. "Now it's time to stop looking and start doing. What do I do?"
"Going to kill War Marshal Lommeord?" Neel asked distastefully. "I thought we had settled that you can't stop a war by assassinating the top man."
"We also settled that something can be done to change the k-factor. The gun is for my own protection. While you're radioing results back to Earth and they're feeling bad about it, I'm going to be doing something. Now you tell me what that something is."
This was a different man from the relaxed and quietly efficient Adao Costa of the past week. All of his muscles were hard with the restrained energy of an animal crouching to leap. The gun, ready in his pocket, had a suddenly new significance. Neel looked away, reaching around for words. This was all very alien to him and suddenly a little frightening. It was one thing to work out a k-problem in class, and discuss the theory of correction.
It was something entirely different to direct the operation.
"Well?" Costa's voice knifed through his thoughts.
"You can ... well ... it's possible to change one of the peak population curves. Isolate individuals and groups, then effect status and location changes—"
"You mean get a lot of guys to take jobs in other towns through the commercial agents?"
Neel nodded.
"Too slow." Costa withered the idea with his voice. "Fine in the long run, but of absolutely no value in an emergency." He began to pace back and forth. Too quickly. It was more of a bubbling-over than a relaxation. "Can't you isolate some recent key events that can be reversed?"
"It's possible." Neel thought about it, quickly. "It wouldn't be a final answer, just a delaying action."
"That's good enough. Tell me what to do."
Neel flipped through his books of notes, checking off the Beta-13's. These were the reinforcers, the individuals and groups who were k-factor amplifiers. It was a long list which he cut down quickly by crossing off the low increment additions and multiple groups. Even while the list was incomplete, Neel began to notice a pattern. It was an unlikely one, but it was there. He isolated the motivator and did a frequency check. Then sat back and whistled softly.
"We have a powerhouse here," he said, flipping the paper across the table. "Take this organization out of the equations and you might even knock us negative."
"Society for the Protection of the Native Born," Costa read. "Doesn't sound like very important. Who or what are they?"
"Proof positive of the law of averages. It's possible to be dealt a royal flush in a hand of cards, but it isn't very common. It's just as possible for a bunch of simpletons to set up an organization for one purpose, and have it turn out to be a supercharged, high-frequency k-factor amplifier. That's what's happened with this infernal S.P.N.B. A seedy little social club, dedicated to jingoists with low I.Q.'s. With the war scare they have managed to get hold of a few credits. They have probably been telling the same inflated stories for years about the discrimination against natives of this fair planet, but no one has really cared. Now they have a chance to get their news releases and faked pix out in quantity. Just at a time when the public is ripe for their brand of nonsense. Putting this bunch out of business will be a good day's work."
"Won't there be repercussions?" Costa asked. "If they are this important and throw so much weight around—won't it look suspicious if they are suddenly shut up. Like an obvious move by the enemy?"
"Not at all. That might be true if, for instance, you blew up the headquarters of the War Party. It would certainly be taken as an aggressive move. But no one really knows or cares about this Society of the Half-baked Native Born. There might be reaction and interest if attention was drawn to them. But if some accident or act of nature were to put them out of business, that would be the end of it."
Costa was snapping his lighter on and off as he listened to Neel, staring at the flame. He closed it and held it up. "I believe in accidents. I believe that even in our fireproof age, fires still occur. Buildings still burn down. And if a burnt building just happened to be occupied by the S.P.N.B.—just one tenant of many—and their offices and records were destroyed; that would be of very little interest to anyone except the fire brigade."
"You're a born criminal," Neel told him. "I'm glad we're on the same side. That's your department and I leave it to you. I'll just listen for the news flashes. Meanwhile I have one little errand to take care of."
The words stopped Costa, who was almost out the door. He turned stiffly to look at Neel putting papers into an envelope. Yet Costa spoke naturally, letting none of his feelings through into his voice.
"Where are you going?"
"To see Hengly, the planetary operator here. Abravanel told me to stay away from him, to run an entirely new basic survey. Well we've done that now, and pinpointed some of the trouble areas as well. I can stop feeling guilty about poaching another man's territory and let him know what's going on."
"No. Stay away from Hengly," Costa said. "The last thing in the world we want to do, is to be seen near him. There's a chance that he ... well ... might be compromised."
"What do you mean!" Neel snapped. "Hengly's a friend of mine, a graduate—"
"He might also be surrounded ten deep by the secret police. Did you stop to think about that?"
Neel hadn't thought about it, and his anger vanished when he did. Costa drove the point home.
"Societics has been a well kept secret for over two centuries. It may still be a secret—or bits of it might have leaked out. And even if the Himmelians know nothing about Societics, they have certainly heard of espionage. They know the UN has agents on their world, they might think Hengly is one of them. This is all speculation, of course, but we do have one fact—this Society of Native Boobs we turned up. We had no trouble finding them. If Hengly had reliable field men, he should know about them, too. The only reason he hasn't is because he isn't getting the information. Which means he's compromised."
Reaching back for a chair, Neel fell heavily into it. "You're right ... of course! I never realized."
"Good," Costa said. "We'll do something to help Hengly tomorrow, but this operation comes first. Sit tight. Get some rest. And don't open the door for anyone except me."
It had been a long job—and a tiring one—but it was almost over. Neel allowed himself the luxury of a long yawn, then shuffled over to the case of rations they had brought. He stripped the seal from something optimistically labeled CHICKEN DINNER—it tasted just like the algae it had been made from—and boiled some coffee while it was heating.
And all the time he was doing these prosaic tasks his mind was turning an indigestible fact over and over. It wasn't a conscious process, but it was nevertheless going on. The automatic mechanism of his brain ran it back and forth like a half heard tune, searching for its name. Neel was tired, or he would have reacted sooner. The idea finally penetrated. One fact he had taken for granted was an obvious impossibility.
The coffee splashed to the floor as he jumped to his feet.
"It's wrong ... it has to be wrong!" he said aloud, grabbing up the papers. Computations and graphs dropped and were trampled into the spilled coffee. When he finally found the one he wanted his hands were shaking as he flipped through it. The synopsis of Hengly's reports for the past five years. The gradual rise and fall of the k-factor from month to month. There were no sharp breaks in the curve or gaps in the supporting equations.
Societics isn't an exact science. But it's exact enough to know when it is working with incomplete or false information. If Hengly had been kept in the dark about the S.P.N.B., he would also have been misinformed about other factors. This kind of alteration of survey would have to show in the equations.
It didn't.
Time was running out and Neel had to act. But what to do? He must warn Adao Costa. And the records here had to be protected. Or better yet destroyed. There was a power in these machines and charts that couldn't be allowed to fall into nationalist hands. But what could be done about it?
In all the welter of equipment and containers, there was one solid, heavy box that he had never opened. It belonged to Costa, and the UN man had never unlocked it in his presence. Neel looked at the heavy clasps on it and felt defeat. But when he pulled at the lid, wondering what to do next, it fell open. It hadn't been sealed. Costa wasn't the kind of man who did things by accident. He had looked forward to the time when Neel might need what was in this box, and had it ready.
Inside was just what Neel expected. Grenades, guns, some smoothly polished devices that held an aura of violence. Looking at them, Neel had an overwhelming sensation of defeat. His life was dedicated to peace and the furthering of peace. He hated the violence that seemed inborn in man, and detested all the hypocritical rationalizations, such as the ends justifying the means. All of his training and personal inclinations were against it.
And he reached down and removed the blunt, black gun.
There was one other thing he recognized in the compact arsenal—a time bomb. There had been lectures on this mechanism in school, since the fact was clearly recognized that a time might come when equipment had to be destroyed rather than fall into the wrong hands. He had never seen one since, but he had learned the lesson well. Neel pushed the open chest nearer to his instruments and set the bomb dial for fifteen minutes. He slipped the gun into his pocket, started the fuse, and carefully locked the door when he left.

The bridges were burned. Now he had to find Adao Costa.
This entire operation was outside of his experience and knowledge. He could think of no plan that could possibly make things easier or safer. All he could do was head for the offices of the Society for the Protection of the Native Born and hope he could catch Adao before he ran into any trouble.
Two blocks away from the address he heard the sirens. Trying to act as natural as the other pedestrians, he turned to look as the armored cars and trucks hurtled by. Packed with armed police, their sirens and revolving lights cleared a path through the dark streets. Neel kept walking, following the cars now.
The street he wanted to go into was cordoned off.
Showing more than a normal interest would have been a giveaway. He let himself be hurried past, with no more than a glance down the block, with the other pedestrians. Cars and men were clustered around a doorway that Neel felt sure was number 265, his destination. Something was very wrong.
Had Costa walked into a trap—or tripped an alarm? It didn't really matter which, either way the balloon had gone up. Neel walked on slowly, painfully aware of his own inadequacy in dealing with the situation. It was a time for action—but what action? He hadn't the slightest idea where Costa was or how he could be of help to him.
Halfway down the block there was a dark mouth of an alleyway—unguarded. Without stopping to think, Neel turned into it. It would bring him closer to the building. Perhaps Costa was still trapped in there. He could get in, help him.
The back of 265 was quiet, with no hint of the activity on the other side of the building. Neel had counted carefully and was sure he had the right one. It was completely dark in the unlit alley, but he found a recessed door by touch. The chances were it was locked, but he moved into the alcove and leaned his weight against it, pulling at the handle, just in case. Nothing moved.
An inch behind his back the alley filled with light, washed with it, eye burning and strong. His eyes snapped shut, but he forced them open again, blinking against the pain. There were searchlights at each end of the alley, sealing it off. He couldn't get out.
In the instant before the fear hit him he saw the blood spots on the ground. There were three of them, large and glistening redly wet. They extended in a straight line away from him, pointing towards the gaping entrance of a cellar.
When the lights went out, Neel dived headlong towards the cracked and filthy pavement. The darkness meant that the police were moving slowly towards him from both ends of the alley, trapping him in between. There was nothing doubtful about the fate of an armed Earthman caught here. He didn't care. Neel's fear wasn't gone—he just had not time to think about it. His long shot had paid off and there was still a chance he could get Costa out of the trap he had let him walk into.
The lights had burned an after-image into his retina. Before it faded he reached out and felt his fingers slide across the dusty ground into a patch of wetness. He scrubbed at it with his sleeve, soaking up the blood, wiping the spot fiercely. With his other hand he pushed together a pile of dust and dirt, spreading it over the stain. As soon as he was sure the stain was covered he slid forward, groping for the second telltale splash.
Time was his enemy and he had no way to measure it. He could have been lying in the rubble of that alley for an hour—or a second. What was to be done, had to be done at once without a sound. There were silent, deadly men coming towards him through the darkness.
After the second smear was covered there was a drawn out moment of fear when he couldn't find the third and last. His fingers touched it finally, much farther on than he had expected. Time had certainly run out. Yet he forced himself to do as good a job here as he had with the other two. Only when it was dried and covered did he allow himself to slide forward into the cellar entrance.
Everything was going too fast. He had time for a single deep breath before the shriek of a whistle paralyzed him again. Footsteps slapped towards him and one of the searchlights burned with light. The footsteps speeded up and the man ran by, close enough for Neel to touch if he had reached out a hand. His clothing was shapeless and torn, his head and face thick with hair. That was all Neel had time to see before the guns roared and burned the life from the runner.
Some derelict, sleeping in the alley, who had paid with his life for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. But his death had bought Neel a little more time. He turned and looked into the barrel of a gun.
Shock after shock had destroyed his capacity for fear. There was nothing left that could move him, even his own death. He looked quietly—dully—at the muzzle of the gun. With slow determination his mind turned over and he finally realized that this time there was nothing to fear.
"It's me, Adao," he whispered. "You'll be all right now."
"Ahh, it is you—" the voice came softly out of the darkness, the gun barrel wavered and sank. "Lift me up so I can get at this door. Can't seem to stand too well any more."
Neel reached down, found Costa's shoulders and slowly dragged him to his feet. His eyes were adjusting to the glare above them now, and he could make out the gleam of reflected light on the metal in Costa's fingers. The UN man's other hand was clutched tightly to his waist. The gun had vanished. The metal device wasn't a key, but Costa used it like one. It turned in the lock and the door swung open under their weight. Neel half carried, half dragged the other man's dead weight through it, dropping him to the floor inside. Before he closed the door he reached down and felt a great pool of blood outside.
There was no time to do a perfect job, the hard footsteps were coming, just a few yards away. His sleeves were sodden with blood as he blotted, then pushed rubble into the stain. He pulled back inside and the door closed with only the slightest click.
"I don't know how you managed it, but I'm glad you found me," Costa said. There was weakness as well as silence in his whisper.
"It was only chance I found you," Neel said bitterly. "But criminal stupidity on my part that let you walk into this trap."
"Don't worry about it, I knew what I was getting into. But I still had to go. Spring the trap to see if it was a trap."
"You suspected then that Hengly was—" Neel couldn't finish the sentence. He knew what he wanted to say, but the idea was too unbearable to put into words. Costa had no such compunction.
"Yes. Dear Hengly, graduate of the University and Practitioner of Societics. A traitor. A warmonger, worse than any of his predecessors because he knew just what to sell and how to sell it. It's never happened before ... but there was always the chance ... the weight of responsibility was too much ... he gave in—" Costa's voice had died away almost to a whisper. Then it was suddenly loud again, no louder than normal speaking volume, but sounding like a shout in the secret basement.
"Neel!"
"It's all right. Take it easy—"
"Nothing is all right—don't you realize that. I've been sending my reports back, so the UN and your Societics people will know how to straighten this mess out. But Hengly can turn this world upside down and might even get a shooting-war going before they get here. I'm out of it, but I can tell you who to contact, people who'll help. Hold the k-factor down—"
"That wouldn't do any good," Neel said quietly. "The whole thing is past the patch and polish stage now. Besides—I blew the whole works up. My machines and records, your—"
"You're a fool!" For the first time there was pain in Costa's voice.
"No. I was before—but not any more. As long as I thought it was a normal problem I was being outguessed at every turn. You must understand the ramifications of Societics. To a good operator there is no interrelationship that cannot be uncovered. Hengly would be certain to keep his eyes open for another field check. Our kind of operation is very easy to spot if you know where—and how—to look. The act of getting information implies contact of some kind, that contact can be detected. He's had our location marked and has been sitting tight, buying time. But our time ran out when you showed them we were ready to fight back. That's why I destroyed our setup, and cut our trail."
"But ... then we're defenseless! What can we possibly do?"
Neel knew the answer, but he hesitated to put it into words. It would be final then. He suddenly realized he had forgotten about Costa's wound.
"I'm sorry ... I forgot about your being hurt. What can I do?"
"Nothing," Costa snapped. "I put a field dressing on, that'll do. Answer my question. What is there left? What can be done now?"
"I'll have to kill Hengly. That will set things right until the team gets here."
"But what good will that accomplish?" Costa asked, trying to see the other man in the darkness of the cellar. "You told me yourself that a war couldn't be averted by assassination. No one individual means that much."
"Only in a normal situation," Neel explained. "You must look at the power struggle between planets as a kind of celestial chess game. It has its own rules. When I talked about individuals earlier I was talking about pieces on this chessboard. What I'm proposing now is a little more dramatic. I'm going to win the chess game in a slightly more unorthodox way. I'm going to shoot the other chess player."
There was silence for a long moment, broken only by the soft sigh of their breathing. Then Costa stirred and there was the sound of metal clinking slightly on the floor.
"It's really my job," Costa said, "but I'm no good for it. You're right, you'll have to go. But I can help you, plan it so you will be able to get to Hengly. You might even stand a better chance than me, because you are so obviously an amateur. Now listen carefully, because we haven't much time."
Neel didn't argue. He knew what needed doing, but Costa could tell him how best to go about it. The instructions were easy to memorize, and he put the weapons away as he was told.
"Once you're clear of this building, you'll have to get cleaned up," Costa said. "But that's the only thing you should stop for. Get to Hengly while he is still rattled, catch him off guard as much as possible. Then—after you finish with him—dig yourself in. Stay hidden at least three days before you try to make any contacts. Things should have quieted down a bit by then."
"I don't like leaving you here," Neel said.
"It's the best way, as well as being the only way. I'll be safe enough. I've a nice little puncture in me, but there's enough medication to see me through."
"If I'm going to hole up, I'll hole up here. I'll be back to take care of you."
Costa didn't answer him. There was nothing more to say. They shook hands in the darkness and Neel crawled away.
There was little difficulty in finding the front door of the building, but Neel hesitated before he opened it. Costa had been sure Neel could get away without being noticed, but he didn't feel so sure himself. There certainly would be plenty of police in the streets, even here. Only as he eased the door did he understand why Costa had been so positive about this.
Gunfire hammered somewhere behind him; other guns answered. Costa must have had another gun. He had planned it this way and the best thing Neel could do was not to think about it and go ahead with the plan. A car whined by in the roadway. As soon as it had passed Neel slipped out and crossed the empty street to the nearest monosub entrance. Most of the stations had valet machines.
It was less than an hour later when he reached Hengly's apartment. Washed, shaved—and with his clothes cleaned—Neel felt a little more sure of himself. No one had stopped him or even noticed him. The lobby had been empty and the automatic elevator left him off at the right floor when he gave it Hengly's name. Now, facing the featureless door, he had a sharp knife of fear. It was too easy. He reached out slowly and tried the handle. The door was unlocked. Taking a deep breath, he opened it and stepped inside.
It was a large room, but unlit. An open door at the other end had a dim light shining through it. Neel started that way and pain burst in his head, spinning him down, face forward.
He never quite lost consciousness, but details were vague in his memory. When full awareness returned he realized that the lights were on in the room. He was lying on his back, looking up at them. Two men stood next to him, staring down at him from above the perspective columns of their legs. One held a short metal bar that he kept slapping into his open palm.
The other man was Hengly.
"Not very friendly for an old classmate," he said, holding out Neel's gun. "Now get inside, I want to talk to you."
Neel rolled over painfully and crawled to his feet. His head throbbed with pain, but he tried to ignore it. As he stood up his hand brushed his ankle. The tiny gun Costa had given him was still in the top of his shoe. Perhaps Hengly wasn't being as smart as he should.
"I can take care of him," Hengly said to the man with the metal rod. "He's the only one left now, so you can get some sleep. See you early in the morning though." The man nodded agreement and left.
Slouched in the chair Neel looked forward to a certain pleasure in killing Hengly. Costa was dead, and this man was responsible for his death. It wouldn't even be like killing a friend, Hengly was very different from the man he had known. He had put on a lot of weight and affected a thick beard and flowing mustache. There was something jovial and paternal about him—until you looked into his eyes. Neel slumped forward, worn out, letting his fingers fall naturally next to the gun in his shoe. Hengly couldn't see his hand, the desk was in the way. All Neel had to do was draw and fire.
"You can pull out the gun," Hengly said with a grim smile, "but don't try to shoot it." He had his own gun now, aimed directly at Neel. Leaning forward he watched as Neel carefully pulled out the tiny weapon and threw it across the room. "That's better," he said, placing his own gun on the desk where he could reach it easily. "Now we can talk."
"There's nothing I have to say to you, Hengly." Neel leaned back in the chair, exhausted. "You're a traitor!"
Hengly hammered the desk in sudden anger and shouted. "Don't talk to me of treachery, my little man of peace. Creeping up with a gun to kill a friend. Is that peaceful? Where are the ethos of humanism now, you were very fond of them when we were in the University!"
Neel didn't want to listen to the words, he thought instead of how right Costa had been. He was dead, but this was still his operation. It was going according to plan.
"Walk right in there," Costa had said. "He won't kill you. Not at first, at least. He's the loneliest man in the universe, because he has given up one world for another that he hasn't gained yet. There will be no one he can confide in. He'll know you have come to kill him, but he won't be able to resist talking to you first. Particularly if you make it easy for him to defeat you. Not too easy—he must feel he is outthinking you. You'll have a gun for him to take away, but that will be too obvious. This small gun will be hidden as well, and when he finds that, too, he should be taken off his guard. Not much, but enough for you to kill him. Don't wait. Do it at the first opportunity."
Out of the corner of his eye, Neel could see the radiophone clipped to the front of his jacket. It was slightly tarnished, looking like any one of ten thousand in daily use—almost a duplicate of the one Hengly wore. A universal symbol of the age, like the keys and small change in his pockets.
Only Neel's phone was a deadly weapon. Product of a research into sudden death that he had never been aware of before. All he had to do was get it near Hengly, the mechanism had been armed when he put it on. It had a range of two feet. As soon as it was that far from any part of his body it would be actuated.
"Can I ask you a question, Hengly?" His words cut loudly through the run of the other man's speech.
Hengly frowned at the interruption, then nodded permission. "Go ahead," he said. "What would you like to know?"
"The obvious. Why did you do it? Change sides I mean. Give up a positive work, for this ... this negative corruption...."
"That's how much you know about it." Hengly was shouting now. "Positive, negative. War, peace. Those are just words, and it took me years to find it out. What could be more positive than making something of my life—and of this planet at the same time. It's in my power to do it, and I've done it."
"Power, perhaps that's the key word," Neel said, suddenly very tired. "We have the stars now but we have carried with us our little personal lusts and emotions. There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, as long as we keep them personal. It's when we start inflicting them on others the trouble starts. Well, it's over now. At least this time."
With a single, easy motion he unclipped the radiophone and flipped it across the desk towards Hengly.
"Good-by," he said.
The tiny mechanism clattered onto the desk and Hengly leaped back, shouting hoarsely. He pulled the gun up and tried to aim at the radiophone and at Neel at the same time. It was too late to do either. There was a brief humming noise from the phone.
Neel jerked in his chair. It felt as if a slight electric shock had passed through him. He had felt only a microscopic percentage of the radiation.
Hengly got it all. The actuated field of the device had scanned his nervous system, measured and tested it precisely. Then adjusted itself to the exact micro-frequency that carried the messages in his efferent nervous system. Once the adjustment had been made, the charged condensers had released their full blasts of energy on that frequency.
The results were horribly dramatic. Every efferent neuron in his system carried the message full power. Every muscle in his body responded with a contraction of full intensity.
Neel closed his eyes, covered them, turned away gasping. It couldn't be watched. An epileptic in a seizure can break the bones in a leg or arm by simultaneous contraction of opposing muscles. When all the opposed muscles of Hengly's body did this the results were horrible beyond imagining.
When Neel recovered a measure of sanity he was in the street, running. He slowed to a walk, and looked around. It was just dawn and the streets were empty. Ahead was the glowing entrance of a monotube and he headed for it. The danger was over now, as long as he was careful.
Pausing on the top step, he breathed the fresh air of the new morning. There was a sighing below as an early train pulled into the station. The dawn-lit sky was the color of blood.
"Blood," he said aloud. Then, "Do we have to keep on killing? Isn't there another way?"
He started guiltily as his voice echoed in the empty street, but no one had heard him.
Quickly, two at a time, he ran down the steps.
THE END
Transcriber's Note:
This etext was produced from Analog December 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note.





September 14, 2018 at 12:02am
September 14, 2018 at 12:02am
#941382

I was looking through my google drive files to find an assignment I have misplaced - and I stumbled on some old assignments I did almost ten years ago for an online fiction writing course (not on this site - an actual, accredited writing course). This was well before I found writing.com, and it was before I had made any inroads at all on battling my writer's brick (my term for an inability to sit down and write). Unfortunately, I only did 3 or 4 assignments before the weight of performance anxiety got to me. That's right, when it actually came time for me to write a real short story, I folded and ran away with my stripey tail between my legs.


You may find it a tad confusing at first, the teachers edits and formats didn't come across in the cut and paste.

I really wish I had finished this course.

---


ASSIGNMENT 1
Intelligent and insightful first assignment.
I’m very impressed by your creative leap in changing ‘war’ to ‘laughter’ as a commodity.
Terrific work!
June Colbert
Send a copy of the story you read in the set task, together with your answers. If you feel this story could be improved, tell us your thoughts.
SET TASK
Find a short fiction story in a newspaper or magazine. Read and analyse this story, answering the following questions. (Cut out, or copy the story, so you can submit it when you send this lesson’s assignment.)
How was the theme developed? (Analogy, Chronological, Deductive, etc.) With suspense/action and lots of exposition. Well analysed
How would you categorise this work? (Fantasy, Suspense, Comedy, Drama, etc) science fiction It has the science element – yes – and could almost be classed as Speculative Sci fi – a kind of ‘what if this happened’ with a scientific basis. It reads like classis 1960’s futuristic sci fi and is very imaginative and interesting.
Recognising that there are certain characteristics common to a fiction story, identify each of the following, if it exists, within this story:

-A strong plot Neel is investigating the rising k factor on a world. Costa is helping him in his secret investigation which is full of danger.
-A protagonist. Neel
-An obvious motivation Societics has detected problems on a world. Good. The story of Societics is a backstory in itself -how it came to be and how it came to be accepted – and this informs our response to the story.
-Action the riots, Costa’s death, Neel’s capture
-A colourful background: globe trotting scientists yes
-An antagonist Neel’s old buddy


2. Plan a variation on the story you analysed in your set task, where you retain the characters and setting, but change the events in order to create a different category of story. For example, if it is a romance, consider how you might retain the characters and setting but by changing the events, create a drama, suspense or comedy.
Change the K Factor to mean not War but laughter. Use the comedians term “killing” as in making the audience laugh instead of Kill Factor meaning actual killing. This is imaginative and quite brilliant, I think. Make Costa a bumbling Colombo type and have Neel broadcast Costa bumbling around like a Jackass performer to the masses. The K Factor balances out again, as humour is subjective.
3. What three categories of story do you think you are most suited to write? In your own words differentiate between these three categories. In answering this question, show us that you can focus on what is being asked, and not stray from the question. We want you to show differences between three categories. We do not want you to show similarities; nor are we looking for definitions.
Fantasy Category deals with strange worlds that could not be the Earth as we know it. Science Fiction is different in that its stories could very well have happened or have happened. Where fantasy is usually medieval or primitive times Science Fiction is using an alternate advanced world or a possible future world. The third category I feel that I could write is comedy. Where the other two categories deal with setting, comedy deals with style. Insightful analysis. Technically, fantasy could also be set in the future but somehow the sword-and –sandals brigade and the medieval fanciers have high-jacked the vast majority of fantasy series.
However, future worlds can be fantasy without strictly being sci fi or speculative fiction (one of my own favourites).
4. In your own words, define the following terms:
Prose: a written story.
Narrative: a story path.
Drama: an emotional story.
Genre: background/setting of story. Genre refers to type – e.g. sci fi, romance, or crime genre refers to specific types of books that conform to set conventions – eg. Crime noir (like James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler) Paranormal romance (Twilight series) , Sci fi (E. Doc Smith, Isaac Asimov) etc



The Project Gutenberg EBook of The K-Factor, by
Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: The K-Factor

Author: Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)

Illustrator: Summers

Release Date: September 8, 2007 [EBook #22540]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE K-FACTOR ***




Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net







THE
K-FACTOR

By HARRY HARRISON

Speed never hurt anybody—it's the sudden stop at the end. It's not how much change that signals danger, but how fast it's changing....
Illustrated by Summers


E'RE losing a planet, Neel. I'm afraid that I can't ... understand it."
The bald and wrinkled head wobbled a bit on the thin neck, and his eyes were moist. Abravanel was a very old man. Looking at him, Neel realized for the first time just how old and close to death he was. It was a profoundly shocking thought.
"Pardon me, sir," Neel broke in, "but is it possible? To lose a planet, I mean. If the readings are done correctly, and the k-factor equations worked to the tenth decimal place, then it's really just a matter of adjustment, making the indicated corrections. After all, Societics is an exact science—"
"Exact? Exact! Of course it's not! Have I taught you so little that you dare say that to me?" Anger animated the old man, driving the shadow of death back a step or two.
Neel hesitated, feeling his hands quiver ever so slightly, groping for the right words. Societics was his faith, and his teacher, Abravanel, its only prophet. This man before him, carefully preserved by the age-retarding drugs, was unique in the galaxy. A living anachronism, a refugee from the history books. Abravanel had singlehandedly worked out the equations, spelled out his science of Societics. Then he had trained seven generations of students in its fundamentals. Hearing the article of his faith defamed by its creator produced a negative feedback loop in Neel so strong his hands vibrated in tune with it. It took a jarring effort to crack out of the cycle.
"The laws that control Societics, as postulated by ... you, are as exact as any others in the unified-field theory universe."
"No they're not. And, if any man I taught believes that nonsense, I'm retiring tomorrow and dropping dead the day after. My science—and it is really not logical to call it a science—is based on observation, experimentation, control groups and corrected observations. And though we have made observations in the millions, we are dealing in units in the billions, and the interactions of these units are multiples of that. And let us never forget that our units are people who, when they operate as individuals, do so in a completely different manner. So you cannot truthfully call my theories exact. They fit the facts well enough and produce results in practice, that has been empirically proven. So far. Some day, I am sure, we will run across a culture that doesn't fit my rules. At that time the rules will have to be revised. We may have that situation now on Himmel. There's trouble cooking there."
"They have always had a high activity count, sir," Neel put in hopefully.
"High yes, but always negative. Until now. Now it is slightly positive and nothing we can do seems to change it. That's why I've called you in. I want you to run a new basic survey, ignoring the old one still in operation, to re-examine the check points on our graphs. The trouble may lie there."
Neel thought before he answered, picking his words carefully. "Wouldn't that be a little ... unethical, sir? After all Hengly, who is operator there now, is a friend of mine. Going behind his back, you know."
"I know nothing of the sort." Abravanel snorted. "We are not playing for poker chips, or seeing who can get a paper published first. Have you forgotten what Societics is?"
Neel answered by rote. "The applied study of the interaction of individuals in a culture, the interaction of the group generated by these individuals, the equations derived therefrom, and the application of these equations to control one or more factors of this same culture."
"And what is the one factor that we have tried to control in order to make all the other factors possible of existence?"
"War." Neel said, in a very small voice.
"Very good then, there is no doubt what it is we are talking about. You are going to land quietly on Himmel, do a survey as quickly as possible and transmit the data back here. There is no cause to think of it as sneaking behind Hengly's back, but as doing something to help him set the matter right. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," Neel said firmly this time, straightening his back and letting his right hand rest reassuringly on the computer slung from his belt.
"Excellent. Then it is now time to meet your assistant." Abravanel touched a button on his desk.
It was an unexpected development and Neel waited with interest as the door opened. But he turned away abruptly, his eyes slitted and his face white with anger. Abravanel introduced them.
"Neel Sidorak, this is—"
"Costa. I know him. He was in my class for six months." There wasn't the slightest touch of friendliness in Neel's voice now. Abravanel either ignored it or didn't hear it. He went on as if the two cold, distant young men were the best of friends.
"Classmates. Very good—then there is no need to make introductions. Though it might be best to make clear your separate areas of control. This is your project Neel, and Adao Costa will be your assistant, following your orders and doing whatever he can to help. You know he isn't a graduate Societist, but he has done a lot of field work for us and can help you greatly in that. And, of course, he will be acting as an observer for the UN, and making his own reports in this connection."
Neel's anger was hot and apparent. "So he's a UN observer now. I wonder if he still holds his old job at the same time. I think it only fair, sir, that you know. He works for Interpol."
Abravanel's ancient and weary eyes looked at both men, and he sighed. "Wait outside Costa," he said, "Neel will be with you in a minute."
Costa left without a word and Abravanel waved Neel back to his chair. "Listen to me now," he said, "and stop playing tunes on that infernal buzzer." Neel snapped his hand away from the belt computer, as if it had suddenly grown hot. A hesitant finger reached out to clear the figures he had nervously been setting up, then thought better of it. Abravanel sucked life into his ancient pipe and squinted at the younger man.
"Listen," he said. "You have led a very sheltered life here at the university, and that is probably my fault. No, don't look angry, I don't mean about girls. In that matter undergraduates have been the same for centuries. I'm talking about people in groups, individuals, politics, and all the complicated mess that makes up human life. This has been your area of study and the program is carefully planned so you can study it secondhand. The important thing is to develop the abstract viewpoint, since any attempt to prejudge results can only mean disaster. And it has been proved many times that a man with a certain interest will make many unwitting errors to shape an observation or experiment in favor of his interest. No, we could have none of that here.
"We are following the proper study of mankind and we must do that by keeping personally on the outside, to preserve our perspective. When you understand that, you understand many small things about the university. Why we give only resident student scholarships at a young age, and why the out-of-the-way location here in the Dolomites. You will also see the reason why the campus bookstore stocks all of the books published, but never has an adequate supply of newspapers. The agreed policy has been to see that you all mature with the long view. Then—hopefully—you will be immune to short-term political interests after you leave.
"This policy has worked well in turning out men with the correct attitude towards their work. It has also turned out a fair number of self-centered, egocentric horrors."
Neel flushed. "Do you mean that I—"
"No, I don't mean you. If I did, I would say so. Your worst fault—if you can call it a fault, since it is the very thing we have been trying to bring about—is that you have a very provincial attitude towards the universe. Now is the time to re-examine some of those ideas. Firstly, what do you think the attitude of the UN is towards Societics?"
There was no easy answer, Neel could see traps ready for anything he said. His words were hesitant. "I can't say I've really ever thought about it. I imagine the UN would be in favor of it, since we make their job of world government that much easier—"
"No such thing," Abravanel said, tempering the sharpness of his words with a smile. "To put it in the simplest language, they hate our guts. They wish I had never formulated Societics, and at the same time they are very glad I did. They are in the position of the man who caught the tiger by the tail. The man enjoys watching the tiger eat all of his enemies, but as each one is consumed his worry grows greater. What will happen when the last one is gone? Will the tiger then turn and eat him?
"Well—we are the UN's tiger. Societics came along just at the time it was sorely needed. Earth had settled a number of planets, and governed them. First as outposts, then as colonies. The most advanced planets very quickly outgrew the colony stage and flexed their independent muscles. The UN had no particular desire to rule an empire, but at the same time they had to insure Earth's safety. I imagine they were considering all sorts of schemes—including outright military control—when they came to me.
"Even in its early, crude form, Societics provided a stopgap that would give them some breathing time. They saw to it that my work was well endowed and aided me—unofficially of course—in setting up the first control experiments on different planets. We had results, some very good, and the others not so bad that the local police couldn't get things back under control after a while. I was, of course, happy to perfect my theories in practice. After a hundred years I had all the rough spots evened down and we were in business. The UN has never come up with a workable alternative plan, so they have settled down to the uncomfortable business of holding the tiger's tail. They worry and spend vast sums of money keeping an eye on our work."
"But why?" Neel broke in.
"Why?" Abravanel gave a quick smile. "Thank you for fine character rating. I imagine it is inconceivable to you that I might want to be Emperor of the Universe. I could be, you know. The same forces that hold the lids on the planets could just as easily blow them off."
Neel was speechless at the awful enormity of the thought. Abravanel rose from behind his desk with an effort, and shambled over to lay a thin and feather-light arm on the younger man's shoulders. "Those are the facts of life my boy. And since we cannot escape them, we must live with them. Costa is just a man doing his duty. So try and put up with him. For my sake if not for your own."
"Of course," Neel agreed quickly. "The whole thing takes a bit of getting used to, but I think I can manage. We'll do as good a job on Himmel as it is possible to do. Don't worry about me, sir."
Costa was waiting in the next room, puffing quietly on a long cigarette. They left together, walking down the hall in silence. Neel glanced sideways at the wiry, dark-skinned Brazilian and wondered what he could say to smooth things out. He still had his reservations about Costa, but he'd keep them to himself now. Abravanel had ordered peace between them, and what the old man said was the law.
It was Costa who spoke first. "Can you brief me on Himmel—what we'll find there, and be expected to do?"
"Run the basic survey first, of course," Neel told him. "Chances are that that will be enough to straighten things out. Since the completion last year of the refining equations of Debir's Postulate, all sigma-110 and alpha-142 graph points are suspect—"
"Just stop there please, and run the flag back down the pole." Costa interrupted. "I had a six-months survey of Societics seven years ago, to give me a general idea of the field. I've worked with survey teams since then, but I have only the vaguest idea of the application of the information we got. Could you cover the ground again—only a bit slower?"
Neel controlled his anger successfully and started again, in his best classroom manner.
"Well, I'm sure you realize that a good survey is half the problem. It must be impartial and exact. If it is accurately done, application of the k-factor equations is almost mechanical."
"You've lost me again. Everyone always talks about the k-factor, but no one has ever explained just what it is."
Neel was warming to his topic now. "It's a term borrowed from nucleonics, and best understood in that context. Look, you know how an atomic pile works—essentially just like an atomic bomb. The difference is just a matter of degree and control. In both of them you have neutrons tearing around, some of them hitting nuclei and starting new neutrons going. These in turn hit and start others. This goes on faster and faster and bam, a few milliseconds later you have an atomic bomb. This is what happens if you don't attempt to control the reaction.
"However, if you have something like heavy water or graphite that will slow down neutrons and an absorber like cadmium, you can alter the speed of the reaction. Too much damping material will absorb too many neutrons and the reaction will stop. Not enough and the reaction will build up to an explosion. Neither of these extremes is wanted in an atomic pile. What is needed is a happy balance where you are soaking up just as many neutrons as are being generated all the time. This will give you a constant temperature inside the reactor. The net neutron reproduction constant is then 1. This balance of neutron generation and absorption is the k-factor of the reactor. Ideally 1.0000000.
"That's the ideal, though, the impossible to attain in a dynamic system like a reactor. All you need is a few more neutrons around, giving you a k-factor of 1.00000001 and you are headed for trouble. Each extra neutron produces two and your production rate soars geometrically towards bang. On the other hand, a k-factor of 0.999999999 is just as bad. Your reaction is spiraling down in the other direction. To control a pile you watch your k-factor and make constant adjustments."
"All this I follow," Costa said, "but where's the connection with Societics?"
"We'll get to that—just as soon as you realize and admit that a minute difference of degree can produce a marked difference of kind. You might say that a single, impossibly tiny, neutron is the difference between an atom bomb and a slowly cooling pile of inert uranium isotopes. Does that make sense?"
"I'm staggering, but still with you."
"Good. Then try to go along with the analogy that a human society is like an atomic pile. At one extreme you will have a dying, decadent culture—the remains of a highly mechanized society—living off its capital, using up resources it can't replace because of a lost technology. When the last machine breaks and the final food synthesizer collapses the people will die. This is the cooled down atomic pile. At the other extreme is complete and violent anarchy. Every man thinking only of himself, killing and destroying anything that gets in his way—the atomic explosion. Midway between the two is a vital, active, producing society.
"This is a generalization—and you must look at it that way. In reality society is infinitely complex, and the ramifications and possibilities are endless. It can do a lot more things than fizzle or go boom. Pressure of population, war or persecution patterns can cause waves of immigration. Plant and animal species can be wiped out by momentary needs or fashions. Remember the fate of the passenger pigeon and the American bison.
"All the pressures, cross-relationships, hungers, needs, hatreds, desires of people are reflected in their interrelationships. One man standing by himself tells us nothing. But as soon as he says something, passes on information in an altered form, or merely expresses an attitude—he becomes a reference point. He can be marked, measured and entered on a graph. His actions can be grouped with others and the action of the group measured. Man—and his society—then becomes a systems problem that can be fed into a computer. We've cut the Gordian knot of the three-L's and are on our way towards a solution."
"Stop!" Costa said, raising his hand. "I was with you as far as the 3L's. What are they? A private code?"
"Not a code—abbreviation. Linear Logic Language, the pitfall of all the old researchers. All of them, historians, sociologists, political analysts, anthropologists, were licked before they started. They had to know all about A and B before they could find C. Facts to them were always hooked up in a series. Whereas in truth they had to be analyzed as a complex circuit complete with elements like positive and negative feedback, and crossover switching. With the whole thing being stirred up constantly by continual homeostasis correction. It's little wonder they did do badly."
"You can't really say that," Adao Costa protested. "I'll admit that Societics has carried the art tremendously far ahead. But there were many basics that had already been discovered."

"If you are postulating a linear progression from the old social sciences—forget it," Neel said. "There is the same relationship here that alchemy holds to physics. The old boys with their frog guts and awful offal knew a bit about things like distilling and smelting. But there was no real order to their knowledge, and it was all an unconsidered by-product of their single goal, the whole nonsense of transmutation."
They passed a lounge, and Adao waved Neel in after him, dropping into a chair. He rummaged through his pockets for a cigarette, organizing his thoughts. "I'm still with you," he said. "But how do we work this back to the k-factor?"
"Simple," Neel told him. "Once you've gotten rid of the 3L's and their false conclusions. Remember that politics in the old days was all We are angels and They are devils. This was literally believed. In the history of mankind there has yet to be a war that wasn't backed by the official clergy on each side. And each declared that God was on their side. Which leaves You Know Who as prime supporter of the enemy. This theory is no more valid than the one that a single man can lead a country into war, followed by the inference that a well-timed assassination can save the peace."
"That doesn't sound too unreasonable," Costa said.
"Of course not. All of the old ideas sound good. They have a simple-minded simplicity that anyone can understand. That doesn't make them true. Kill a war-minded dictator and nothing changes. The violence-orientated society, the factors that produced it, the military party that represents it—none of these are changed. The k-factor remains the same."
"There's that word again. Do I get a definition yet?"
Neel smiled. "Of course. The k-factor is one of the many factors that interrelate in a society. Abstractly it is no more important than the other odd thousand we work with. But in practice it is the only one we try to alter."
"The k-factor is the war factor," Adao Costa said. All the humor was gone now.
"That's a good enough name for it," Neel said, grinding out his half-smoked cigarette. "If a society has a positive k-factor, even a slight one that stays positive, then you are going to have a war. Our planetary operators have two jobs. First to gather and interpret data. Secondly to keep the k-factor negative."
They were both on their feet now, moved by the same emotion.
"And Himmel has a positive one that stays positive," Costa said. Neel Sidorak nodded agreement. "Then let's get into the ship and get going," he said.
It was a fast trip and a faster landing. The UN cruiser cut its engines and dropped like a rock in free fall. Night rain washed the ports and the computer cut in the maximum permissible blast for the minimum time that would reduce their speed to zero at zero altitude. Deceleration sat on their chests and squeezed their bones to rubber. Something crunched heavily under their stern at the exact instant the drive cut out. Costa was unbelted and out the door while Neel was still feeling his insides shiver back into shape.
The unloading had an organized rhythm that rejected Neel. He finally realized he could help best by standing back out of the way while the crewmen grav-lifted the heavy cases out through the cargo port, into the blackness of the rain-lashed woods. Adao Costa supervised this and seemed to know what he was doing. A signal rating wearing earphones stood to one side of the lock chanting numbers that sounded like detector fixes. There was apparently enough time to unload everything—but none to spare. Things got close towards the end.
Neel was suddenly bustled out into the rain and the last two crates were literally thrown out after him. He plowed through the mud to the edge of the clearing and had just enough time to cover his face before the take-off blast burst out like a new sun.
"Sit down and relax," Costa told him. "Everything is in the green so far. The ship wasn't spotted on the way down. Now all we have to do is wait for transportation."
In theory at least, Adao Costa was Neel's assistant. In practice he took complete charge of moving their equipment and getting it under cover in the capital city of Kitezh. Men and trucks appeared to help them, and vanished as soon as their work was done. Within twenty hours they were installed in a large loft, all of the machines uncrated and plugged in. Neel took a no-sleep and began tuning checks on all the circuits, glad of something to do. Costa locked the heavy door behind their last silent helper, then dropped gratefully onto one of the bedding rolls.
"How did the gadgets hold up?" he asked.
"I'm finding out now. They're built to take punishment—but being dropped twelve feet into mud soup, then getting baked by rockets isn't in the original specs."
"They crate things well these days," Costa said unworriedly, sucking on a bottle of the famous Himmelian beer. "When do you go to work?"
"We're working right now," Neel told him, pulling a folder of papers out of the file. "Before we left I drew up a list of current magazines and newspapers I would need. You can start on these. I'll have a sampling program planned by the time you get back."
Costa groaned hollowly and reached for the papers.
Once the survey was in operation it went ahead of its own momentum. Both men grabbed what food and sleep they could. The computers gulped down Neel's figures and spat out tape-reels of answers that demanded even more facts. Costa and his unseen helpers were kept busy supplying the material.
Only one thing broke the ordered labors of the week. Neel blinked twice at Costa before his equation-fogged brain assimilated an immediate and personal factor.
"You've a bandage on your head," he said. "A blood-stained bandage!"
"A little trouble in the streets. Mobs. And that's an incredible feat of observation," Costa marveled. "I had the feeling that if I came in here stark naked, you wouldn't notice it."
"I ... I get involved," Neel said. Dropping the papers on a table and kneading the tired furrow between his eyes. "Get wrapped up in the computation. Sorry. I tend to forget about people."
"Don't feel sorry to me," Costa said. "You're right. Doing the job. I'm supposed to help you, not pose for the before picture in Home Hospital ads. Anyway—how are we doing? Is there going to be a war? Certainly seems like one brewing outside. I've seen two people lynched who were only suspected of being Earthies."
"Looks don't mean a thing," Neel said, opening two beers. "Remember the analogy of the pile. It boils liquid metal and cooks out energy from the infrared right through to hard radiation. Yet it keeps on generating power at a nice, steady rate. But your A-bomb at zero minus one second looks as harmless as a fallen log. It's the k-factor that counts, not surface appearance. This planet may look like a dictator's dream of glory, but as long as we're reading in the negative things are fine."
"And how are things? How's our little k-factor?"
"Coming out soon," Neel said, pointing at the humming computer. "Can't tell about it yet. You never can until the computation is complete. There's a temptation to try and guess from the first figures, but they're meaningless. Like trying to predict the winner of a horse race by looking at the starters lined up at the gate."
"Lots of people think they can."
"Let them. There are few enough pleasures in this life without taking away all delusions."
Behind them the computer thunked and was suddenly still.
"This is it," Neel said, and pulled out the tape. He ran it quickly through his fingers, mumbling under his breath. Just once he stopped and set some figures into his hand computer. The result flashed in the window and he stared at it, unmoving.
"Good? Bad? What is it?"
Neel raised his head and his eyes were ten years older.
"Positive. Bad. Much worse than it was when we left Earth."
"How much time do we have?"
"Don't know for certain," Neel shrugged. "I can set it up and get an approximation. But there is no definite point on the scale where war has to break out. Just a going and going until, somewhere along the line—"
"I know. Gone." Costa said, reaching for his gun. He slid it into his side pocket. "Now it's time to stop looking and start doing. What do I do?"
"Going to kill War Marshal Lommeord?" Neel asked distastefully. "I thought we had settled that you can't stop a war by assassinating the top man."
"We also settled that something can be done to change the k-factor. The gun is for my own protection. While you're radioing results back to Earth and they're feeling bad about it, I'm going to be doing something. Now you tell me what that something is."
This was a different man from the relaxed and quietly efficient Adao Costa of the past week. All of his muscles were hard with the restrained energy of an animal crouching to leap. The gun, ready in his pocket, had a suddenly new significance. Neel looked away, reaching around for words. This was all very alien to him and suddenly a little frightening. It was one thing to work out a k-problem in class, and discuss the theory of correction.
It was something entirely different to direct the operation.
"Well?" Costa's voice knifed through his thoughts.
"You can ... well ... it's possible to change one of the peak population curves. Isolate individuals and groups, then effect status and location changes—"
"You mean get a lot of guys to take jobs in other towns through the commercial agents?"
Neel nodded.
"Too slow." Costa withered the idea with his voice. "Fine in the long run, but of absolutely no value in an emergency." He began to pace back and forth. Too quickly. It was more of a bubbling-over than a relaxation. "Can't you isolate some recent key events that can be reversed?"
"It's possible." Neel thought about it, quickly. "It wouldn't be a final answer, just a delaying action."
"That's good enough. Tell me what to do."
Neel flipped through his books of notes, checking off the Beta-13's. These were the reinforcers, the individuals and groups who were k-factor amplifiers. It was a long list which he cut down quickly by crossing off the low increment additions and multiple groups. Even while the list was incomplete, Neel began to notice a pattern. It was an unlikely one, but it was there. He isolated the motivator and did a frequency check. Then sat back and whistled softly.
"We have a powerhouse here," he said, flipping the paper across the table. "Take this organization out of the equations and you might even knock us negative."
"Society for the Protection of the Native Born," Costa read. "Doesn't sound like very important. Who or what are they?"
"Proof positive of the law of averages. It's possible to be dealt a royal flush in a hand of cards, but it isn't very common. It's just as possible for a bunch of simpletons to set up an organization for one purpose, and have it turn out to be a supercharged, high-frequency k-factor amplifier. That's what's happened with this infernal S.P.N.B. A seedy little social club, dedicated to jingoists with low I.Q.'s. With the war scare they have managed to get hold of a few credits. They have probably been telling the same inflated stories for years about the discrimination against natives of this fair planet, but no one has really cared. Now they have a chance to get their news releases and faked pix out in quantity. Just at a time when the public is ripe for their brand of nonsense. Putting this bunch out of business will be a good day's work."
"Won't there be repercussions?" Costa asked. "If they are this important and throw so much weight around—won't it look suspicious if they are suddenly shut up. Like an obvious move by the enemy?"
"Not at all. That might be true if, for instance, you blew up the headquarters of the War Party. It would certainly be taken as an aggressive move. But no one really knows or cares about this Society of the Half-baked Native Born. There might be reaction and interest if attention was drawn to them. But if some accident or act of nature were to put them out of business, that would be the end of it."
Costa was snapping his lighter on and off as he listened to Neel, staring at the flame. He closed it and held it up. "I believe in accidents. I believe that even in our fireproof age, fires still occur. Buildings still burn down. And if a burnt building just happened to be occupied by the S.P.N.B.—just one tenant of many—and their offices and records were destroyed; that would be of very little interest to anyone except the fire brigade."
"You're a born criminal," Neel told him. "I'm glad we're on the same side. That's your department and I leave it to you. I'll just listen for the news flashes. Meanwhile I have one little errand to take care of."
The words stopped Costa, who was almost out the door. He turned stiffly to look at Neel putting papers into an envelope. Yet Costa spoke naturally, letting none of his feelings through into his voice.
"Where are you going?"
"To see Hengly, the planetary operator here. Abravanel told me to stay away from him, to run an entirely new basic survey. Well we've done that now, and pinpointed some of the trouble areas as well. I can stop feeling guilty about poaching another man's territory and let him know what's going on."
"No. Stay away from Hengly," Costa said. "The last thing in the world we want to do, is to be seen near him. There's a chance that he ... well ... might be compromised."
"What do you mean!" Neel snapped. "Hengly's a friend of mine, a graduate—"
"He might also be surrounded ten deep by the secret police. Did you stop to think about that?"
Neel hadn't thought about it, and his anger vanished when he did. Costa drove the point home.
"Societics has been a well kept secret for over two centuries. It may still be a secret—or bits of it might have leaked out. And even if the Himmelians know nothing about Societics, they have certainly heard of espionage. They know the UN has agents on their world, they might think Hengly is one of them. This is all speculation, of course, but we do have one fact—this Society of Native Boobs we turned up. We had no trouble finding them. If Hengly had reliable field men, he should know about them, too. The only reason he hasn't is because he isn't getting the information. Which means he's compromised."
Reaching back for a chair, Neel fell heavily into it. "You're right ... of course! I never realized."
"Good," Costa said. "We'll do something to help Hengly tomorrow, but this operation comes first. Sit tight. Get some rest. And don't open the door for anyone except me."
It had been a long job—and a tiring one—but it was almost over. Neel allowed himself the luxury of a long yawn, then shuffled over to the case of rations they had brought. He stripped the seal from something optimistically labeled CHICKEN DINNER—it tasted just like the algae it had been made from—and boiled some coffee while it was heating.
And all the time he was doing these prosaic tasks his mind was turning an indigestible fact over and over. It wasn't a conscious process, but it was nevertheless going on. The automatic mechanism of his brain ran it back and forth like a half heard tune, searching for its name. Neel was tired, or he would have reacted sooner. The idea finally penetrated. One fact he had taken for granted was an obvious impossibility.
The coffee splashed to the floor as he jumped to his feet.
"It's wrong ... it has to be wrong!" he said aloud, grabbing up the papers. Computations and graphs dropped and were trampled into the spilled coffee. When he finally found the one he wanted his hands were shaking as he flipped through it. The synopsis of Hengly's reports for the past five years. The gradual rise and fall of the k-factor from month to month. There were no sharp breaks in the curve or gaps in the supporting equations.
Societics isn't an exact science. But it's exact enough to know when it is working with incomplete or false information. If Hengly had been kept in the dark about the S.P.N.B., he would also have been misinformed about other factors. This kind of alteration of survey would have to show in the equations.
It didn't.
Time was running out and Neel had to act. But what to do? He must warn Adao Costa. And the records here had to be protected. Or better yet destroyed. There was a power in these machines and charts that couldn't be allowed to fall into nationalist hands. But what could be done about it?
In all the welter of equipment and containers, there was one solid, heavy box that he had never opened. It belonged to Costa, and the UN man had never unlocked it in his presence. Neel looked at the heavy clasps on it and felt defeat. But when he pulled at the lid, wondering what to do next, it fell open. It hadn't been sealed. Costa wasn't the kind of man who did things by accident. He had looked forward to the time when Neel might need what was in this box, and had it ready.
Inside was just what Neel expected. Grenades, guns, some smoothly polished devices that held an aura of violence. Looking at them, Neel had an overwhelming sensation of defeat. His life was dedicated to peace and the furthering of peace. He hated the violence that seemed inborn in man, and detested all the hypocritical rationalizations, such as the ends justifying the means. All of his training and personal inclinations were against it.
And he reached down and removed the blunt, black gun.
There was one other thing he recognized in the compact arsenal—a time bomb. There had been lectures on this mechanism in school, since the fact was clearly recognized that a time might come when equipment had to be destroyed rather than fall into the wrong hands. He had never seen one since, but he had learned the lesson well. Neel pushed the open chest nearer to his instruments and set the bomb dial for fifteen minutes. He slipped the gun into his pocket, started the fuse, and carefully locked the door when he left.

The bridges were burned. Now he had to find Adao Costa.
This entire operation was outside of his experience and knowledge. He could think of no plan that could possibly make things easier or safer. All he could do was head for the offices of the Society for the Protection of the Native Born and hope he could catch Adao before he ran into any trouble.
Two blocks away from the address he heard the sirens. Trying to act as natural as the other pedestrians, he turned to look as the armored cars and trucks hurtled by. Packed with armed police, their sirens and revolving lights cleared a path through the dark streets. Neel kept walking, following the cars now.
The street he wanted to go into was cordoned off.
Showing more than a normal interest would have been a giveaway. He let himself be hurried past, with no more than a glance down the block, with the other pedestrians. Cars and men were clustered around a doorway that Neel felt sure was number 265, his destination. Something was very wrong.
Had Costa walked into a trap—or tripped an alarm? It didn't really matter which, either way the balloon had gone up. Neel walked on slowly, painfully aware of his own inadequacy in dealing with the situation. It was a time for action—but what action? He hadn't the slightest idea where Costa was or how he could be of help to him.
Halfway down the block there was a dark mouth of an alleyway—unguarded. Without stopping to think, Neel turned into it. It would bring him closer to the building. Perhaps Costa was still trapped in there. He could get in, help him.
The back of 265 was quiet, with no hint of the activity on the other side of the building. Neel had counted carefully and was sure he had the right one. It was completely dark in the unlit alley, but he found a recessed door by touch. The chances were it was locked, but he moved into the alcove and leaned his weight against it, pulling at the handle, just in case. Nothing moved.
An inch behind his back the alley filled with light, washed with it, eye burning and strong. His eyes snapped shut, but he forced them open again, blinking against the pain. There were searchlights at each end of the alley, sealing it off. He couldn't get out.
In the instant before the fear hit him he saw the blood spots on the ground. There were three of them, large and glistening redly wet. They extended in a straight line away from him, pointing towards the gaping entrance of a cellar.
When the lights went out, Neel dived headlong towards the cracked and filthy pavement. The darkness meant that the police were moving slowly towards him from both ends of the alley, trapping him in between. There was nothing doubtful about the fate of an armed Earthman caught here. He didn't care. Neel's fear wasn't gone—he just had not time to think about it. His long shot had paid off and there was still a chance he could get Costa out of the trap he had let him walk into.
The lights had burned an after-image into his retina. Before it faded he reached out and felt his fingers slide across the dusty ground into a patch of wetness. He scrubbed at it with his sleeve, soaking up the blood, wiping the spot fiercely. With his other hand he pushed together a pile of dust and dirt, spreading it over the stain. As soon as he was sure the stain was covered he slid forward, groping for the second telltale splash.
Time was his enemy and he had no way to measure it. He could have been lying in the rubble of that alley for an hour—or a second. What was to be done, had to be done at once without a sound. There were silent, deadly men coming towards him through the darkness.
After the second smear was covered there was a drawn out moment of fear when he couldn't find the third and last. His fingers touched it finally, much farther on than he had expected. Time had certainly run out. Yet he forced himself to do as good a job here as he had with the other two. Only when it was dried and covered did he allow himself to slide forward into the cellar entrance.
Everything was going too fast. He had time for a single deep breath before the shriek of a whistle paralyzed him again. Footsteps slapped towards him and one of the searchlights burned with light. The footsteps speeded up and the man ran by, close enough for Neel to touch if he had reached out a hand. His clothing was shapeless and torn, his head and face thick with hair. That was all Neel had time to see before the guns roared and burned the life from the runner.
Some derelict, sleeping in the alley, who had paid with his life for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. But his death had bought Neel a little more time. He turned and looked into the barrel of a gun.
Shock after shock had destroyed his capacity for fear. There was nothing left that could move him, even his own death. He looked quietly—dully—at the muzzle of the gun. With slow determination his mind turned over and he finally realized that this time there was nothing to fear.
"It's me, Adao," he whispered. "You'll be all right now."
"Ahh, it is you—" the voice came softly out of the darkness, the gun barrel wavered and sank. "Lift me up so I can get at this door. Can't seem to stand too well any more."
Neel reached down, found Costa's shoulders and slowly dragged him to his feet. His eyes were adjusting to the glare above them now, and he could make out the gleam of reflected light on the metal in Costa's fingers. The UN man's other hand was clutched tightly to his waist. The gun had vanished. The metal device wasn't a key, but Costa used it like one. It turned in the lock and the door swung open under their weight. Neel half carried, half dragged the other man's dead weight through it, dropping him to the floor inside. Before he closed the door he reached down and felt a great pool of blood outside.
There was no time to do a perfect job, the hard footsteps were coming, just a few yards away. His sleeves were sodden with blood as he blotted, then pushed rubble into the stain. He pulled back inside and the door closed with only the slightest click.
"I don't know how you managed it, but I'm glad you found me," Costa said. There was weakness as well as silence in his whisper.
"It was only chance I found you," Neel said bitterly. "But criminal stupidity on my part that let you walk into this trap."
"Don't worry about it, I knew what I was getting into. But I still had to go. Spring the trap to see if it was a trap."
"You suspected then that Hengly was—" Neel couldn't finish the sentence. He knew what he wanted to say, but the idea was too unbearable to put into words. Costa had no such compunction.
"Yes. Dear Hengly, graduate of the University and Practitioner of Societics. A traitor. A warmonger, worse than any of his predecessors because he knew just what to sell and how to sell it. It's never happened before ... but there was always the chance ... the weight of responsibility was too much ... he gave in—" Costa's voice had died away almost to a whisper. Then it was suddenly loud again, no louder than normal speaking volume, but sounding like a shout in the secret basement.
"Neel!"
"It's all right. Take it easy—"
"Nothing is all right—don't you realize that. I've been sending my reports back, so the UN and your Societics people will know how to straighten this mess out. But Hengly can turn this world upside down and might even get a shooting-war going before they get here. I'm out of it, but I can tell you who to contact, people who'll help. Hold the k-factor down—"
"That wouldn't do any good," Neel said quietly. "The whole thing is past the patch and polish stage now. Besides—I blew the whole works up. My machines and records, your—"
"You're a fool!" For the first time there was pain in Costa's voice.
"No. I was before—but not any more. As long as I thought it was a normal problem I was being outguessed at every turn. You must understand the ramifications of Societics. To a good operator there is no interrelationship that cannot be uncovered. Hengly would be certain to keep his eyes open for another field check. Our kind of operation is very easy to spot if you know where—and how—to look. The act of getting information implies contact of some kind, that contact can be detected. He's had our location marked and has been sitting tight, buying time. But our time ran out when you showed them we were ready to fight back. That's why I destroyed our setup, and cut our trail."
"But ... then we're defenseless! What can we possibly do?"
Neel knew the answer, but he hesitated to put it into words. It would be final then. He suddenly realized he had forgotten about Costa's wound.
"I'm sorry ... I forgot about your being hurt. What can I do?"
"Nothing," Costa snapped. "I put a field dressing on, that'll do. Answer my question. What is there left? What can be done now?"
"I'll have to kill Hengly. That will set things right until the team gets here."
"But what good will that accomplish?" Costa asked, trying to see the other man in the darkness of the cellar. "You told me yourself that a war couldn't be averted by assassination. No one individual means that much."
"Only in a normal situation," Neel explained. "You must look at the power struggle between planets as a kind of celestial chess game. It has its own rules. When I talked about individuals earlier I was talking about pieces on this chessboard. What I'm proposing now is a little more dramatic. I'm going to win the chess game in a slightly more unorthodox way. I'm going to shoot the other chess player."
There was silence for a long moment, broken only by the soft sigh of their breathing. Then Costa stirred and there was the sound of metal clinking slightly on the floor.
"It's really my job," Costa said, "but I'm no good for it. You're right, you'll have to go. But I can help you, plan it so you will be able to get to Hengly. You might even stand a better chance than me, because you are so obviously an amateur. Now listen carefully, because we haven't much time."
Neel didn't argue. He knew what needed doing, but Costa could tell him how best to go about it. The instructions were easy to memorize, and he put the weapons away as he was told.
"Once you're clear of this building, you'll have to get cleaned up," Costa said. "But that's the only thing you should stop for. Get to Hengly while he is still rattled, catch him off guard as much as possible. Then—after you finish with him—dig yourself in. Stay hidden at least three days before you try to make any contacts. Things should have quieted down a bit by then."
"I don't like leaving you here," Neel said.
"It's the best way, as well as being the only way. I'll be safe enough. I've a nice little puncture in me, but there's enough medication to see me through."
"If I'm going to hole up, I'll hole up here. I'll be back to take care of you."
Costa didn't answer him. There was nothing more to say. They shook hands in the darkness and Neel crawled away.
There was little difficulty in finding the front door of the building, but Neel hesitated before he opened it. Costa had been sure Neel could get away without being noticed, but he didn't feel so sure himself. There certainly would be plenty of police in the streets, even here. Only as he eased the door did he understand why Costa had been so positive about this.
Gunfire hammered somewhere behind him; other guns answered. Costa must have had another gun. He had planned it this way and the best thing Neel could do was not to think about it and go ahead with the plan. A car whined by in the roadway. As soon as it had passed Neel slipped out and crossed the empty street to the nearest monosub entrance. Most of the stations had valet machines.
It was less than an hour later when he reached Hengly's apartment. Washed, shaved—and with his clothes cleaned—Neel felt a little more sure of himself. No one had stopped him or even noticed him. The lobby had been empty and the automatic elevator left him off at the right floor when he gave it Hengly's name. Now, facing the featureless door, he had a sharp knife of fear. It was too easy. He reached out slowly and tried the handle. The door was unlocked. Taking a deep breath, he opened it and stepped inside.
It was a large room, but unlit. An open door at the other end had a dim light shining through it. Neel started that way and pain burst in his head, spinning him down, face forward.
He never quite lost consciousness, but details were vague in his memory. When full awareness returned he realized that the lights were on in the room. He was lying on his back, looking up at them. Two men stood next to him, staring down at him from above the perspective columns of their legs. One held a short metal bar that he kept slapping into his open palm.
The other man was Hengly.
"Not very friendly for an old classmate," he said, holding out Neel's gun. "Now get inside, I want to talk to you."
Neel rolled over painfully and crawled to his feet. His head throbbed with pain, but he tried to ignore it. As he stood up his hand brushed his ankle. The tiny gun Costa had given him was still in the top of his shoe. Perhaps Hengly wasn't being as smart as he should.
"I can take care of him," Hengly said to the man with the metal rod. "He's the only one left now, so you can get some sleep. See you early in the morning though." The man nodded agreement and left.
Slouched in the chair Neel looked forward to a certain pleasure in killing Hengly. Costa was dead, and this man was responsible for his death. It wouldn't even be like killing a friend, Hengly was very different from the man he had known. He had put on a lot of weight and affected a thick beard and flowing mustache. There was something jovial and paternal about him—until you looked into his eyes. Neel slumped forward, worn out, letting his fingers fall naturally next to the gun in his shoe. Hengly couldn't see his hand, the desk was in the way. All Neel had to do was draw and fire.
"You can pull out the gun," Hengly said with a grim smile, "but don't try to shoot it." He had his own gun now, aimed directly at Neel. Leaning forward he watched as Neel carefully pulled out the tiny weapon and threw it across the room. "That's better," he said, placing his own gun on the desk where he could reach it easily. "Now we can talk."
"There's nothing I have to say to you, Hengly." Neel leaned back in the chair, exhausted. "You're a traitor!"
Hengly hammered the desk in sudden anger and shouted. "Don't talk to me of treachery, my little man of peace. Creeping up with a gun to kill a friend. Is that peaceful? Where are the ethos of humanism now, you were very fond of them when we were in the University!"
Neel didn't want to listen to the words, he thought instead of how right Costa had been. He was dead, but this was still his operation. It was going according to plan.
"Walk right in there," Costa had said. "He won't kill you. Not at first, at least. He's the loneliest man in the universe, because he has given up one world for another that he hasn't gained yet. There will be no one he can confide in. He'll know you have come to kill him, but he won't be able to resist talking to you first. Particularly if you make it easy for him to defeat you. Not too easy—he must feel he is outthinking you. You'll have a gun for him to take away, but that will be too obvious. This small gun will be hidden as well, and when he finds that, too, he should be taken off his guard. Not much, but enough for you to kill him. Don't wait. Do it at the first opportunity."
Out of the corner of his eye, Neel could see the radiophone clipped to the front of his jacket. It was slightly tarnished, looking like any one of ten thousand in daily use—almost a duplicate of the one Hengly wore. A universal symbol of the age, like the keys and small change in his pockets.
Only Neel's phone was a deadly weapon. Product of a research into sudden death that he had never been aware of before. All he had to do was get it near Hengly, the mechanism had been armed when he put it on. It had a range of two feet. As soon as it was that far from any part of his body it would be actuated.
"Can I ask you a question, Hengly?" His words cut loudly through the run of the other man's speech.
Hengly frowned at the interruption, then nodded permission. "Go ahead," he said. "What would you like to know?"
"The obvious. Why did you do it? Change sides I mean. Give up a positive work, for this ... this negative corruption...."
"That's how much you know about it." Hengly was shouting now. "Positive, negative. War, peace. Those are just words, and it took me years to find it out. What could be more positive than making something of my life—and of this planet at the same time. It's in my power to do it, and I've done it."
"Power, perhaps that's the key word," Neel said, suddenly very tired. "We have the stars now but we have carried with us our little personal lusts and emotions. There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, as long as we keep them personal. It's when we start inflicting them on others the trouble starts. Well, it's over now. At least this time."
With a single, easy motion he unclipped the radiophone and flipped it across the desk towards Hengly.
"Good-by," he said.
The tiny mechanism clattered onto the desk and Hengly leaped back, shouting hoarsely. He pulled the gun up and tried to aim at the radiophone and at Neel at the same time. It was too late to do either. There was a brief humming noise from the phone.
Neel jerked in his chair. It felt as if a slight electric shock had passed through him. He had felt only a microscopic percentage of the radiation.
Hengly got it all. The actuated field of the device had scanned his nervous system, measured and tested it precisely. Then adjusted itself to the exact micro-frequency that carried the messages in his efferent nervous system. Once the adjustment had been made, the charged condensers had released their full blasts of energy on that frequency.
The results were horribly dramatic. Every efferent neuron in his system carried the message full power. Every muscle in his body responded with a contraction of full intensity.
Neel closed his eyes, covered them, turned away gasping. It couldn't be watched. An epileptic in a seizure can break the bones in a leg or arm by simultaneous contraction of opposing muscles. When all the opposed muscles of Hengly's body did this the results were horrible beyond imagining.
When Neel recovered a measure of sanity he was in the street, running. He slowed to a walk, and looked around. It was just dawn and the streets were empty. Ahead was the glowing entrance of a monotube and he headed for it. The danger was over now, as long as he was careful.
Pausing on the top step, he breathed the fresh air of the new morning. There was a sighing below as an early train pulled into the station. The dawn-lit sky was the color of blood.
"Blood," he said aloud. Then, "Do we have to keep on killing? Isn't there another way?"
He started guiltily as his voice echoed in the empty street, but no one had heard him.
Quickly, two at a time, he ran down the steps.
THE END
Transcriber's Note:
This etext was produced from Analog December 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note.





September 13, 2018 at 10:56pm
September 13, 2018 at 10:56pm
#941372
About to finish my leisure and health course
Enrolled in an education support course
Just got accepted into an inspiring leadership program on a scholarship at an american university based on my peer teaching programs.

I'm officially out of control.
August 8, 2018 at 7:15am
August 8, 2018 at 7:15am
#939357
Had my induction for my new Social Worker job.

It was awesome, insightful and interesting.

July 26, 2018 at 10:45pm
July 26, 2018 at 10:45pm
#938647
Today, as I made my morning coffee I realised that the first restructured unoffical month of 30 day blogging challenge is almost over!

I have enjoyed making the prompts and reading the entries. I often do so while I'm having lunch. Munching sandwiches with food for thought, I call it.

I do have a few ideas for the next one, namely moving away from the format of the Official month (Talk Tuesdays, War Chest Wednesdays etc) and firmly into sponsorship days from other groups.

I'll also be conducting a survey of participants on their thoughts, as well as opening a discussion thread for people to discuss what they liked or didn't like about the changes.

I will be keeping the weekly format and never going back to the daily prompt format. That's something that will really make the official months stand out - that the administrator is in the trenches with the bloggers, sending out prompts on a daily basis. It's almost it's own challenge in itself.

I'm also toying with opening my first cshoppe or equivalent to dish out "unofficial" merit badge prizes and the like. It's the unofficial challenge, so it's appropriate that some of the prizes throughout the month are "unofficial" too.

No doubt, I will do that as I go about my daily life, incorporating my love of writing and my love for encouraging writing into my daily activities.


---
SteamPunk Newsletter Out Now!
 
STATIC
The Clockwork Crier: Beyond Yesterday #2  (E)
Secondary issue of the Steampunk Author Guilds newsletter, The Clockwork Crier. High GP $$
#2092940 by Thundersbeard 30DBC JULY HOST

---
Johny Thundersbeard
Editor, Mentor & Member.
"The Steampunk Authors' Guild
---
WDC Author of the Month May 2012
30DBC Administrator, Judge & Rejigger 2012.
Forum Master "We Need to Have A Talk About Writing... 2016.
July 19, 2018 at 6:34am
July 19, 2018 at 6:34am
#938262
Helping one of my sons work on creative writing for his tutor for the accellerated learning program for his high school. Trying my hardest not to suggest where the story should go, and limiting my input to semantics. He really nailed the opening paragraph in terms of descriptiveness and setting a scene. The rest has been a shitfight. He is getting there though, he's just very impatient and wants to take the easy route.Every time.
He's taken very well to rolling his eyes at me and exclaiming to the imaginary audience of his life, "oh, another story lecture."
Endearing.


--

THis is his progress so far. He has come a long way from his "journalistic" start.

The sign shops door hung loosely on its hinges. The old paint slowly flaked away. Inside, the old metal signs, or what should be signs, were going rusty. The aged shop had not been used for many years as was obvious when you looked in the paint tins. All of the paint had gone hard. The paint on the outside was flaking off. The windows glass had shattered from the wind.



The building held lots of secrets. One of these many secrets was the brutal murder that took place years ago in that very building. The murderer is now paying for his crimes in jail.



This was a bloody and gruesome murder. So gruesome that no police officer wanted to solve it. When one finally tried, they couldn’t find the weapon. The weapon was never found. The police believed it was a metal bar. Blood was splattered all over the walls. All over the furniture. Even all over the radio that was still playing when the bodies where discovered.



The biggest shock was that the person charged with murder was the father of the two twins. But worse still, and even more unbelievable, was the cop that arrested him. He was his brother-in-law.



The murder was of twins. The accused was their father. The twins were murdered by their dad who had been given a life sentence in jail even though he pleaded his innocence.



———





The old sign shop was one of the only memories from the brutal murder that took place in that very town 30 years ago. Now, the only family within 100 miles of the charged murderer was his wife, Susan, and her brother, John, who is a local cop. The local cop who arrested her husband for the murder of her children.



Susan still believed he was innocent and had tried everything even remotely possible to get her brother, John, to help but at the time he had been threatened by the old Police Commissioner that if he didn’t arrest someone for the crime, making his first arrest in 3 years, then he would be given desk duty. John couldn’t think of anything worse.



Stuart was having a really hard time in jail after been prosecuted for murder. It looked to him like he was stuck there forever. All he wanted was a good comic and a Grand Big Mac.



Meanwhile, John was amazing at work after finally solving his first case thirty years ago. He had solved approximately fifty two cases yearly



Bob, the new Police Commissioner, was in his nice office sitting in his shiny green chair and listening to the radio when he suddenly realised that John was standing at the glass door.



“Oh, you frightened me, John,” Bob said getting up out of his shiny green chair and letting him through the glass door. He changed the radio station to the police channel on the way back to his desk.



John handed him the files on the third case he had solved this week. Bob wasn’t surprised to see it was another murder case. John had a habit of solving murder cases, but that didn’t mean it was normal to want to solve murders.



As John left Bob opened the case to have a look. Once again the victim was shot in the head, and the weapon could not be found. No weapons were ever found from John’s cases.

“That’s a bit odd”, Bob murmured. “All of the murders cases solved by other cops had murder weapons.”

Forensics loved murder weapons. They made it easy to find out exactly how suspects had murdered people. He decided to continue to look through the case and found that the alleged murderer said he was innocent but was still charged with murder. Once again it was the same as all of the other cases.

“Maybe it’s time I looked into these cases myself,” said Bob softly. “Starting with the first one.”

The first one was of two twins murdered by their dad. They were shot in the head, the weapon was not found, and the murderer, John’s own brother-in-law Stuart Boggard, said he was innocent as well. He was going to have to interview Stuart in Jail.



Bob looked at the prison with it’s high guard towers on each corner and it’s cameras watching him. It was obvious that no criminal was getting out any time soon. He walked in through the highly guarded building and was taken to see Stuart in the special visiting room.

In the special visiting room are booths with glass windows and phones so no drugs or weapons can be passed to prisoners.

He sat down and picked up the prison phone. After a few minutes Stuart came, sat down and picked up the other prison phone.

“What ten more years in Jail for me?” He said sarcastically.

“No, I am here to ask about the murder of your twins 30 years ago,” Bob kindly responded.

“I already told John every thing I know. I am innocent!” Stuart said while trying not to lose his temper.

“Why are you innocent that is what I want to know, because most of John’s murder cases say they are innocent,” Bob said into the prison phone.

“ I was in my workshop when I heard screaming from the main room in the store. When I came out my twins, who where selling the merchandise to a customer, were dead.”

Stuart broke down crying and explained the twins were very naughty and he thought they were playing a prank with red paint pretending to be dead.

“Ok that will be enough, ” Bob said as he put down the prison phone and left. Bob had interviewed a lot of suspects over the years. He was the Police Commissioner after all. He knew when a suspect was faking. Bob now believed Stuart was innocent.



Bob was going to have to look into the murder himself so he went to the scene. Which was, not surprisingly in such a small town, two streets down from the prison. As he entered the old sign shop he found there was still a lot of decaying merchandise everywhere. Strangely, the old radio sitting on a table still looked fresh.



There was blood stains splattered all over the wall. There was glass shattered on the floor and covered over with dust. It was obviously the scene of a murder. Bob didn’t feel like entering the building. He felt a bit strange.

“I’ll go question John about the weapon instead,” he said out loud as he looked at his watch.

So he left the horrible crime scene. Before though he was going to have to call it a night and go home.

As Bob walked down the street to his home, he could have sworn he heard old style music playing somewhere in the distance behind him.





The next day Bob left to go to Johns house. He knocked on the great large brown oak door. He looked to his left and saw a door bell.

July 15, 2018 at 7:07am
July 15, 2018 at 7:07am
#937970
Here are the prompts for week 3 of the unofficial 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

I hope you guys are enjoying the unofficial challenge and that it hasn't been too unofficially challenging.

From the rescue of the Thai boys soccer team, to clashes at Wimbledon, to upsets at the World Cup, it has been a massive week in sport.

As such this week's prompts are largely, but loosely, sport related with, as you will see, a strong emphasis on heroism.


> MOTIVATION MONDAYS!: We'll discuss quotes attributed to people from all walks of life,
> and you're encouraged to share quotes related to the day's topic.


Today's quote is in regard to women in sport. It is by Billie Jean King.

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943) is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. King won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships. King often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, King was the United States' captain in the Federation Cup.

King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice.

"Ever since that day when I was 11 years old, and I wasn't allowed in a photo because I wasn't wearing a tennis skirt, I knew that I wanted to change the sport." Billie Jean King
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/billi...

> TALK TUESDAYS!: Prompts will encourage a more opinionated, personal response. Get to know
> your fellow competitors...make sure you're commenting!

Speaking of ourselves has been shown, repeatedly, to make us feel good. This is your chance to talk up your accomplishments in life. Feel free to ,unashamedly, boast about your own sporting successes. (And remember, sometimes, a little victory can feel massive especially when you aren't the sporting type)

> WAR CHEST WEDNESDAYS!: A prompt from the pool of challenger-submitted prompts known as The
> Challenge War Chest.

As the Tour De France rages on, an old prompt from the creator of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, Earl, to power your own memories of a rite of passage,

"Tell us about your memories of your bicycle."

> Thursday is THE WILDCARD ROUND!: Anything can happen! Be prepared...and you might win a
> random prize! It could be Gift Points, raffle tickets, or even a Merit Badge!

This week for Wild Card Thursday, I'd like you to invent your own sport. It can be as whimsical or as serious as you like. What would be the perfect sport for you?

> FUN FACT FRIDAY!: I'll provide you with a random fact, and you give us your take on
> it. Feel free to share a random fact of your own as well!


Ah, baseball, the all American game. Although most people have no appreciation for the sport, others really, really dig it! Here are some cool baseball facts that even the most die-hard fan may not know!

Cabbage leaf

Babe Ruth kept cool during games by wearing a wet cabbage leaf under his cap. He “turned over a new leaf” every two innings.

World Series and Super Bowl

Deion “Neon” Sanders is the only person to play in the World Series and the Super Bowl. He is also the only individual to score a touchdown in the NFL and hit an MLB home run in the same week.

Black underwear

MLB umpires are required to wear black underwear in case their pants split.

Three World Series, three teams

Don Baylor played in three World Series, but for three different teams. He played for the Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and the Oakland Athletics in 1988.

Robert Redford

Redford attended the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship. Redford later made the classic baseball film The Natural.

Tallest player

The Minnesota Twins’ Jon Rauch, at 6’ 11,” is major league baseball’s tallest ever player.

Man on the moon

San Francisco Giants’ manager Alvin Dark told reporters that pitcher Gaylord Perry’s hitting ability was so poor that “they’ll put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” Perry’s initial home run came on July 20, 1969 — 20 minutes after Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon

> CREATION SATURDAY!: A creative writing prompt from the War Chest will be used. Challengers
> are encouraged to write a poem or story, but any creative interpretation is allowed (I
> once listed a recipe for fake poo)

The prompts for your creative efforts this week are "rescue", "sacrifice", and "tears", but also "there must be an upset victory".

> THE SUNDAY NEWS!: I'll take a headline from the past week, and you can share your
> thoughts and opinions on it. Encourage a discussion between your fellow bloggers

I would be remiss if I did not present an article that takes an in-depth look at the rescue of the Thai boys soccer team from the Than Luang cave complex. A place and an event where heroes were born, heroes were made, and a hero died.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/in...

"Sedated and passed along an incredible human daisy chain, not even their rescuers expected all 12 trapped Thai boys to live."


Thanks blog squad! And I will see you this time next week with another week's worth of unofficial 30 day blogging challenge prompts.
July 15, 2018 at 7:05am
July 15, 2018 at 7:05am
#937969

Here are the prompts for week 2 of the unofficial 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

I hope you guys are enjoying the unofficial challenge and that it hasn't been too unofficially challenging.

This week's prompts are influenced, if not sponsored by, WDC's own "The Steampunk Authors' Guild " , the home of victorian and americana era science-fiction, fantasy and retro-futurism!

IF you would like to talk about the "The Steampunk Authors' Guild " sponsoring or collaborating with YOUR challenges or events just send myself or (191) a message and we can talk steam-turbine turkey!


> MOTIVATION MONDAYS!: We'll discuss quotes attributed to people from all walks of life,
> and you're encouraged to share quotes related to the day's topic.

Considered by most to be the spiritual godfather of the genre-mash that is Steam Punk (sciencefiction mixed with fantasy), Jules Verne explored the imagined worlds in his daily musings as well as his stories...

"In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York!
Jules Verne
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/lists/author...

> TALK TUESDAYS!: Prompts will encourage a more opinionated, personal response. Get to know
> your fellow competitors...make sure you're commenting!

Speaking of esoteric travelling and travellers, tell us about the most exotic traveller you have ever met. This traveller may or may not be human!

> WAR CHEST WEDNESDAYS!: A prompt from the pool of challenger-submitted prompts known as The
> Challenge War Chest.

An old prompt from the creator of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge, Earl.

"In the past few years books have been adapted into movies. Some have not lived up to their novel origins. What book adaption have you not been impressed by? If you could, would you re-film the movie? What book(s) do you think could make an impressive movie? What book(s) do you think couldn't be made into a movie, no matter what the circumstances?"

> Thursday is THE WILDCARD ROUND!: Anything can happen! Be prepared...and you might win a
> random prize! It could be Gift Points, raffle tickets, or even a Merit Badge!

This week for Wild Card Thursday, I'd like you to detail your day for us - break it down into your daily routine. But then, if you are up to it, put a twist on it. Give us the same routine as if it was either 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future.

> FUN FACT FRIDAY!: I'll provide you with a random fact, and you give us your take on
> it. Feel free to share a random fact of your own as well!

Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and Around The World In 80 Days. These tales in which he blends fantastical locations and voyages with a variety of geographic and scientific adetails, are the first science fiction stories, predating even HG Wells by 2 to 3 decades. Since he wrote sci-fi in the midst of the Victorian era, he is considered by some to be the first steampunk.

Here are 2 fun facts about the Jules Verne and his writing life.

1. Before he wrote stories he wrote libretti (lyrics) for operas.

2. His father, upon finding out Jules was involved with the theater, cut him off and Verne became a stockbroker. He was actually quite good at it although he despised it.

> CREATION SATURDAY!: A creative writing prompt from the War Chest will be used. Challengers
> are encouraged to write a poem or story, but any creative interpretation is allowed (I
> once listed a recipe for fake poo)

Using a feature of any Jules Verne tale (hot air balloon or a lighthouse or a submarine or an exotic voyage or locale,etc) - be creative!

The winner will receive a Steampunk Merit Badge donated by "The Steampunk Authors' Guild " and voted on by it's members!

> THE SUNDAY NEWS!: I'll take a headline from the past week, and you can share your
> thoughts and opinions on it. Encourage a discussion between your fellow bloggers

"The Aussie mayor who wants America to get tough on guns"

Annapolis, Maryland: As he sailed into the harbour at Annapolis, Gavin Buckley had a simple plan: sell his beat-up old boat, make some money and move on. It was 1992 and Buckley was a 29-year-old from Perth with $200 in his pocket and a lust for adventure.

"I thought I was just passing through but I loved the village feel of the place," Buckley says of the Maryland state capital, a quaint city of 38,000 people a 45-minute drive from Washington, DC. He got a job working at a bar, then fell in love with a waitress at a nearby cafe. He decided to hang around.

https://www.theage.com.au/world/north-am...



Thanks guys and you will hear from me this time next week.

I promise to go easy on the Steampunk prompts then, haha
July 15, 2018 at 7:05am
July 15, 2018 at 7:05am
#937968
Here are the prompts for week 1 of the unofficial 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

Apologies for delays, I thought this had gone through but it appears it hadn't. Off the proverbial bush track, and back on the main track now.

TALK TUESDAYS!: Prompts will encourage a more opinionated, personal respone. Get to know your fellow competitors...make sure you're commenting!

"Tell us about that time you were excited about something, only to be bitterly disappointed when it was delayed or cancelled."

WAR CHEST WEDNESDAYS!: A prompt from the pool of challenger-submitted prompts known as The Challenge War Chest.

"Write about the place where you go when you want to get away from life, pressure, work, family etc?"

Thursday is THE WILDCARD ROUND!: Anything can happen! Be prepared...and you might win a random prize! It could be Gift Points, raffle tickets, or even a Merit Badge!

"Tell us about your experiences at Writing.com. The laughs and the loves, the lights and the lows."

FUN FACT FRIDAY!: I'll provide you with a random fact, and you give us your take on it. Feel free to share a random fact of your own as well!

"More than 90% of the Australian population live in urban areas on the coastal fringes – the Outback is therefore mostly uninhabited..."

CREATION SATURDAY!: A creative writing prompt from the War Chest will be used. Challengers are encouraged to write a poem or story, but any creative interpretation is allowed (I once listed a recipe for fake poo)


"The creative prompt for Saturday is: a good habit makes things bad, and a bad habit makes things good."

THE SUNDAY NEWS!: I'll take a headline from the past week, and you can share your thoughts and opinions on it. Encourage a discussion between your fellow bloggers


“Citizen Scientists” Map Birdlife on Mallee Wetlands"

http://www.milduraindependent.com/index....


I've almost finished my own outback travails, so the next week's prompts would/could/should arrive on time.

See you then!
July 5, 2018 at 4:11am
July 5, 2018 at 4:11am
#937443
Really proud of the progress my daughter has made making detailed maps of her fantasy land.


---
SteamPunk Newsletter Out Now!
 
STATIC
The Clockwork Crier: Beyond Yesterday #2  (E)
Secondary issue of the Steampunk Author Guilds newsletter, The Clockwork Crier. High GP $$
#2092940 by Thundersbeard 30DBC JULY HOST

---
Johny Thundersbeard
Editor, Mentor & Member.
"The Steampunk Authors' Guild
---
WDC Author of the Month May 2012
30DBC Administrator, Judge & Rejigger 2012.
Forum Master "We Need to Have A Talk About Writing... 2016.
June 21, 2018 at 10:02am
June 21, 2018 at 10:02am
#936698
When, in the interview, they ask if you're willing to fly to head office in another state to accept a company award, you know
a. the interview is going really well.
b. you really want to work there.
c. you're going to have some shit workmates.
d. the bar is going to be set real low - and you're going to fit in just fine.
June 6, 2018 at 8:55am
June 6, 2018 at 8:55am
#935880
Sometimes you just have to have a little bit of fun with your homework! Handed this in today as an Assessment Task for using Communication to Build Relationships unit in my Leisure and Health/Recreation Therapy/Activity Programmer course.


Eagleswood Close Community Centre
Minutes of meeting


Title of meeting Fundraising Meeting for new Wet Area of community centre

Date of meeting 1st April, 2018.

Venue Eagleswood Close Community Centre, Conference Room

Participants Dan Rugby, Elvira Byrd, Rami Kitchi, Vonny Lonnegut (chair), Hamish Slevin (minutes)

Agenda Item 1
Description and purpose of the agenda item
Community members have expressed a desire for a wet area for clay, mosaic, etc groups.
Main points of the discussion
Funding plan, feasibility study,
Action items agreed
Rami Kitchi to contact council about funding.
Elvira Byrd to spearhead feasibility study and organise auditor.
Dan Rugby to talk to contractors.

Any areas not resolved. If a kiln is needed, and if so does it have to be indoors or can it be outdoors.

Agenda Item 2
Description and purpose of the agenda item
Fundraising Detective and Cake Stall Night. Ie. Deduce which cupcakes have laxatives in them.
Main points of the discussion
Set up costs, Up front costs versus cover charges, door prizes, and cost of cupcakes.
Action items agreed
Vonny Lonnegut to investigate laxative prices.
Any areas not resolved.
Cleanup costs.

Agenda Item 3
Description and purpose of the agenda item
Community members have expressed a desire for a Mens Group focusing on Hawaian Shirt appreciation.
Main points of the discussion
Hawaaian shirts. Social aspects over creative or fashion aspects. Large interest in this group so a waiting list will have to be established.
Action items agreed
Kenny Lonnegut and Hamish Slevin to model and pose for promotion photos.
Any areas not resolved.
Rami Kitchi expressed he did not appreciate Hawaian shirts at all.


Agenda Item 4
Description and purpose of the agenda item
Collecting Golfballs.
As Eagleswood Close Community Centre is next to a golf course, a kids fundraising group has been proposed where kids “get outdoors” and collect golfballs to then sell back to golf club members.
Main points of the discussion
Whether the activity could be extended to the local aged care centre, and golf ball hunt outtings could be organised for the residents.
Action items agreed
Elvira Bird to contact aged care centre.
Rami Kitchi to contact local kids at the Remand Centre across the road.
Any areas not resolved.
Legalities.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

and then ....

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Email text template

To: warden@eaglewoodremandcentre

Subject: bequests

Body of email: Dear Warden,
My name is Rami Kitchi, I represent Eaglewood Community Centre.
We have your golf balls, please pay $5 per ball or you will never see them again.

Kind regards,
Rami Kitchi.
Fundraising Committee
Ps: for another $5 I will tell you which cupcakes have laxatives.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

and as if that wasn't enough ....

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Part B – Memo to CEO

Write a memo to the CEO to advise them of the progress so far in developing a formal communication strategy for the Centre. Use the template provided below for this memo.

Remember that the CEO was very concerned about problems with communication in the Centre and has asked for a communication strategy to be put in place to address this.

Your memo must be professionally written. It must be accurate, easy to understand and grammatically correct.



Eaglewood Close Community Centre
Memorandum


To: Christopher Skase (CEO)

From: Elvira Byrd (Communications Officer)

Subject: Formal Communication Strategies for Centre.

Date: April 1, 2018

CC: Pixie Skase (Company Secretary)

Body of memorandum:

Dear Mr Skase,

Re: Communication Strategies for Centre.

A communications strategy that does not involve notes made up of letters cut out of newspapers and demands for large sums of cash has now been instigated. Please find enclosed a pdf of the policy for your perusal.

The new communication strategy is much more in keeping with modern times, as you expressed. It includes instructions on how to log on to the community centre computers and execute the new ransom ware software for blackmailing companies, and how to spell anonymus. Anonimus. Anonymous.

A copy of the new communications strategy documents will be available for all members of the Eaglewood Community Centre to refer to.



Recommendation:
CEO Christopher Skase to give final okay to new Communications Strategy document, and return it to me this time.


Signature block

Kind regards, and best wishes for your continued health,

Elvira Byrd,
Communications Officer
Eaglewood Community Centre.


--------------------------------------------------

oh boy! It didn't stop there!

--------------------------------------------------

Template for letter to family member/client

Eagleswood Close Community Centre
102 Eagleswood Close
EAGLESWOOD VIC 3999



Sylvia Aivlys
100 Sylvania Waters,
Eagleswood VIC 3999.

April 1st, 2018

Dear Sylvia,

On the 20th March, we met to discuss the local newspaper photographer not obtaining proper permissions to utilise your photograph in an article highlighting the work of the community house.

I would like to reassure you that this was an oversight, that has how now been rectified. A new permissions document has been written and given to all staff. Copies are also available from the front desk, with a sign to visitors and contractors that it must be signed and handed in before any similar actions taken.

The community centre prides itself on the services it offers, and the wellbeing of its clients are paramount. I would like offer my sincere apologies and determination that nothing of this sort will happen again.

The community centre would like to extend an invitation to our new photography club, first session free in lieu of the drama that has unfolded. You might know the new teacher, he is the newly unemployed photographer for the local newspaper.



Yours sincerely
Steven Stuart
Letter Writer,
Eagleswood Close Community Centre.

--------------------------------------------------------------

I will keep you posted on my teachers response.
Years ago, in a media studies course I did, as he read my assessment essay, the teacher spat coffee onto the poor student in front of him.

---------------------------------------------------------------
May 30, 2018 at 10:02am
May 30, 2018 at 10:02am
#935514
I should probably start writing some fiction soon.

Especially as I am about to start facilitating 3 writing groups. A legacy dot journal group for the elderly, a writing flash fiction group for a group of kids of mixed ages, and a writing research excursion group.

Still, if you can't fake it, make it.


*Type**Type**Type*


Man, I should consolidate all my contests into one and just change which contest is the focus each month.

*Type**Type**Type*


An idea is taking shape for a new contest. It's a big stretch this one though.

I have a few ideas on how to make it work, but they involve involving genre groups.

Only now I can't find any! I swear there used to be a sci-fi group at least.

So, my big idea I'm playing with is an invitation only contest. Big stretch I know.

But, the gimmick is that it is a Genre Versus Genre Contest like Sci-fi Vs Fantasy.

A group puts forward a volunteer, for their sake hopefully their best writer, and they write a story that must compete, with the same prompt, against other genre groups/stories.

It will never work. But it sure would be fun.
May 23, 2018 at 9:35pm
May 23, 2018 at 9:35pm
#935161


glynisj asks about "1st or 3rd person"   over at my writing craft forum "We Need to Have A Talk About Writing...

I responded with the following advice, "Re: 1st or 3rd person"  .

What would your advice to glynisj be?


dont quit your daydream


"We Need to Have A Talk About Writing... is a discussion forum and you are welcome to join me there to discuss the practicalities of writing.

I am somewhat of a writing academic. I think about the craft of writing a lot, and I read about the craft of writing a lot. Sometimes I like to talk about it too.

When I find, or I write, interesting articles on the topic of writing, I will often repost them there, so keep checking back. (feel free to also post articles that you think I, or others, will find interesting).

Some Topics Covered So Far:

The merits (and drawbacks) of Hand Written and/or Hand Drawn Journals.
What does it mean to write?
Naming Characters
Adding Characters
Constructing Flashback Sequences
The Changing Nature of Genre Labels
Pandering To An Audience Through Imagery
General Discussion on the Books We Read
The vagarancies of research (a win for libraries over internets)
The Greatest Writing Formula of them All
5 Awesome Ways to Plot Individual Scenes (the value of frameworks)
Great Writing Email Newsletters Worth Subscribing To
The Foundations of Childhood Style
How to Write Great Flash Fiction.
Reviews of my work for discussion.
My reviews of others work for discussion.


Storytelling is one of the most powerful techniques we have as humans to communicate and motivate.

What are your best tips for telling stories? Have you had similar experiences with telling stories?

I’d love your thoughts on this topic in the comments.

May 14, 2018 at 7:33am
May 14, 2018 at 7:33am
#934526
Loving the gig as a Community Group Facilitator for hire.

The Community House that I run kids and mens art programs out of has given me a stipend for both programs. I use it for art supplies, of course, but I also plan to get some casual art teachers in for specific workshops here and there.

My own kids are in the kids art group, and that's how I ended up in the position I'm in. They've been doing it since they were little tackers, and I've always tagged along as a parent helper except for a 2 year period when I was working as an allied health assistant for wheelchair rugby athletes.

My two eldest are the groups Art Leaders - one is a natural artist and the other is a natural teacher. The introvert and the extrovert.

On saturday I took those two for an art store run in between their netball and basketball games, and on sunday I took my youngest for another art store run after his footy match.

We got some,

12 x ALDI acrylic paints of various colours for $1 each.
2 x jars of BORAX (for slime!)
4 x bags of various types of non-patterned balloons (the first rule of art group is PLAY)
4 x bags of corn flour/starch (for paper mache clay and also ninja stress balls)
2 x pairs of scissors
6 x glue sticks
2 x sets of 24 connector textas
2 x sets of various coloured pencils.
5 x scourer sponges (for dry felting)
3 x whiteboard markers (the extrovert child likes to draw diagrams of the projects on the whiteboard)
1 x set of patterned scissors, about 6 different patterns.
1 x set of patterned hole punches, about 6 different patterns.

The Community House does have supplies but they have largely remained unupdated since my kids started their five or six years ago.

I've got some cool stuff planned and so there will be more supplies bought and crazy projects made. Every session, however, I make sure I talk to each of the kids about what kind of journey they want to take with their art. This includes asking them what supplies I should buy, and what styles of art they would like a casual art teacher to come in and showcase for them. It's a philosophy I've borrowed from working with Recreational Therapists in the Hospital I volunteer at.
May 11, 2018 at 12:10am
May 11, 2018 at 12:10am
#934352
 Dream Interpretation  (E)
Rhyming Allitersen Poem
#1827555 by Prosperous Snow Celebrating



Love the spectral spiders and tiny terrors lines.

They remind me of the time we had a friend and his wife stay over night when we first bought our farm. The wife had a phobia of all things creeping and crawlling. When they went to leave, she couldn't get to her car as they had accidentally parked on an ants nest and they were all running around near the car (on the ground and not her car, thankfully). She eventually managed to leap into her car, which was no mean feat as she was not a small lady.

My wife and I watched them leave commiserating on the poor lady's phobia, and then we went inside to clean up the guest room etc. While we were outside saying goodbye, a batch of baby huntsmen spiders had hatched and were crawling everywhere in the room. On the bed. On the walls. They were dropping off the ceiling.

Rather then panic ourselves, we could only marvel at how lucky our friend was that she had left when she did, or that those tiny terrors hadn't hatched during the night while she was laying in bed! Can you imagine that!

Fourteen years later, we still have not told her of her close call with those tiny terrors.
May 10, 2018 at 1:03am
May 10, 2018 at 1:03am
#934291
Big day yesterday, I got the okay to run a men's art group for discharged hospital patients at my local community centre, as well as a teaching kids bike maintenance program.


---
SteamPunk Newsletter Out Now!
 
STATIC
The Clockwork Crier: Beyond Yesterday #2  (E)
Secondary issue of the Steampunk Author Guilds newsletter, The Clockwork Crier. High GP $$
#2092940 by Thundersbeard 30DBC JULY HOST

---
Johny Thundersbeard
Editor, Mentor & Member.
"The Steampunk Authors' Guild
---
WDC Author of the Month May 2012
30DBC Administrator, Judge & Rejigger 2012.
Forum Master "We Need to Have A Talk About Writing... 2016.
May 8, 2018 at 8:46am
May 8, 2018 at 8:46am
#934152
a funny thing happened on the way to my own death.

i discovered a new life.

i'm now a creative therapist working at a major metropolitan hospital, as well as running a kids art and play group and a mens art therapy group at my local community house. I'm also working as a community support worker for an agency, and with a couple of professionals I've met, I'm in the process of setting up a consultancy on using games and creating games groups in rehabilitation settings and community centres.

In regards to writing, I'm about to start a new community group showing folks (especially in hospital where they may need something else to focus on) how to write their own life story as a legacy for their family and friends using art, writing, and note taking techniques with bullet journals.

Long way from a machine shop.
September 23, 2017 at 2:00am
September 23, 2017 at 2:00am
#920764
Things I have searched on Google today.

- ames job network provider review
- Matchworks disability employment
- real life work for the dole examples
- aspergers syndrome psychopathy
- are most kids on the spectrum really smart?
-mark gibbon Clancy brown family
- sienna miller
- ethernet cable how long is too long
- learn to draw star wars ships book
-

September 13, 2017 at 7:55am
September 13, 2017 at 7:55am
#920261
"Drop Deeper"

Life isn't giving me time to waste, but it hasn't given me the skill to cope, or the skills to achieve, or the skills to motivate.

Here's why I leave: I keep yearning. I keep knowing what I haven't got, what I can't do. I can't unsee what I know I want. My heart's howling.

Here's why I stay: I've done the best I physically can with what life has given my body and my brain. I've lived with cruel knowledge's fate; midnight hour's anxiety
of dread and stomach acid.

Here's what lights me up: a chance to laugh.
(I've failed, and failed, and failed again, but, still I'm getting up, to fail again. I'm laughing at me too, not with me.)

Here's what darkens my heart: the inconsistency; the dysphraxia; the narcolepsy; the inability to think, and process, and understand; the crying in the shower. Like all men should do, instead of writing poetry.

I can't unsee.

I drop deeper.

244 Entries · *Magnify*
Page of 13 · 20 per page   < >
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... Next
© Copyright 2018 Thundersbeard 30DBC JULY HOST (UN: thundersbeard at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Thundersbeard 30DBC JULY HOST has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/thundersbeard