Tourist | Eight

Tourist | Eight

“I don’t trust those clouds,” Paiden says, gazing out at the heavy, grey masses hanging over the ocean. “Looks like a storm.”

The sun warms us where we sit on her balcony with glasses of cider, but it looks like it won’t feel so summery for long, not if she’s right about the clouds. Already, there’s a static humidity in the air; a warning of what’s to come. Despite the heat, I shiver.

“I hope there’s lightning,” I say.

She rolls her eyes. “Of course you do.”

It was her idea for us to chill out at her house. She doesn’t say it, but we both know it’s because she’s worried that if we go out, we’ll run into another part of Lissa’s life. The topic of her rests between us like a void: the more we try to ignore it, the more we’re dragged in. Paiden carefully circles conversationally, trying to avoid mentioning anything that could make me think about Lissa. Which is already impossible when my own reflection reminds me of her.

(—when my own depression reminds me of her.)

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Tourist | Seven

Tourist | Seven

Lissa’s phone burns a hole in my pocket while I wander along the beachfront promenade—or at least, that’s how it feels. The little device has been powered off since it died a couple days back, and I’ve been too anxious to turn it back on. I still haven’t mentioned the phone to Sam. I’m not sure why.

Sunlight glimmers across the ocean, the air smells of salt and sunscreen, the walkway vibrates with the footfalls of a jogger. The day is beautiful, so warm and bright, and I can’t feel any of it. The cold mist in my head filters out into the real world, dulling the sun and the gentle breeze. What a strange thing, to suddenly find myself with a brain that steals away the light of living. Did Lissa feel this? Was there a heavy darkness hidden behind her wide smile in that photo?

“Hey!”

I look around instinctively at the call, though I don’t recognize the voice. I don’t recognize the person either. An artificial—what I’d thought was the jogger behind me—slows to a walk as she catches up to me, her candyfloss-pink hair pulling free from a high bun. Her eyes are as blue as the sky and they shine just as bright.

“Hey,” she says again, before leaning over with her hands pressed against her thighs to catch her breath.

“Hi,” I say, hesitant. It’s not uncommon for artificials to chat with each other as strangers, but I’ve never had another artificial run to catch me before. Maybe she’s just lonely.

She pulls another breath and looks up at me. “You don’t recognize me, eh?”

The understanding clicks instantly in my mind.

“You knew Lissa,” I say. Not a question.

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2016: A Year in Photos

2016: A Year in Photos

2016 was a massive year of travel, writing, getting into game development professionally, and taking my health seriously. There were a lot of ups and downs, almost more than any other year of my young life, and I have way too much to say about way too many things.

So, instead of words, I’m going to let photos do the talking. From both my phone and my DSLR, here’s a year of photos that sums up a lot of my 2017.

Photos below!

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Where are the Women?: A Star Wars Story

Where are the Women?: A Star Wars Story

Warning for Rogue One spoilers.

For how much we commended Lucasfilm on its great strides towards gender diversity since The Force Awakens, I think a lot of us forgot to look more closely at Rogue One until it was already out. Not everyone—god knows I been pointing out the severe lack of women since last year alongside some friends—but enough. After Phasma, Rey, Maz and Leia, and the diverse background characters in The Force Awakens, perhaps it was too easy to become complacent. Too easy to believe that once we’d taken that step forward, it was impossible to fall behind again.

Well, apparently fuckin’ not, because Rogue One barely even tries, if I’m completely honest. The tough-white-brunette-as-lead doesn’t really make up for a distinctive lack of other women anymore—not that it ever should have. As much as Rogue One seemed to want to cling to some Star Wars traditions, the sole-white-female-heroine-among-men is one that should have been thrown right out with the opening crawl (though I remain forever broken-hearted at the lack of the crawl).

Especially when the ancillary material is working more than it ever has to create a diverse galaxy, introducing women like Admiral Rae Sloane, Doctor Aphra, Cienna Ree, Shara Bey, Brand, Sabine Wren, and even more amazing women who veer away from the typical Star Wars films’ leading lady. I would give anything to see any of these women, or women like them, on the big screen, and it’s disappointing to watch Rogue One fail when so many other stories within the universe succeed. Especially because I know Star Wars can do better. Especially because I love Rogue One as much as I do.

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Short fiction commissions

Short fiction commissions

Do you like words? Do you like words written for you? If so, you’re in luck, because I’m opening up short fiction commissions for the first time! It’s like art, but with words.

What does this mean? Well, it means that you can pay me to write something for you. Examples of my writing include my two serials, my fanfiction (don’t judge my subject matter!), and a short story I wrote last year.

What I will write: A lot of stuff. I’m most proficient with science fiction and first person present, but I can adapt to any style/POV/tense with relative ease, and am comfortable in a range of genres. What do you want? Let’s talk, I’m up for experimenting!

What I won’t write:

  • Explicit sex scenes/explicit physical intimacy
  • Super-explicit violence
  • Hateful content
  • Fandoms I have 0 knowledge in
  • Extended fight scenes (if you want an all-action story, I’m the wrong gal!)
  • A script
  • Ongoing stories (AKA multi-chapter)

But how much????

  • 1000 words: $30 USD
  • Under 5000 words: $35 USD
  • Under 10,000 words: $50 USD
  • Under 15,000 words: $65 USD
  • Anything over 15,000 words will be charged my hourly writing rate.
  • do write for games, but game writing will generally be charged my hourly rate. This can be up to negotiation depending on what you’re wanting.

If you’re interested, hit me up at [email protected] with your ideas, or your questions! Patrons on Patreon will get preference for commission slots.

Tourist | Six

Tourist | Six

We can never remember the first, bright burst of life we experience; I think in that way, we begin just like anyone else.

Our first awakening is a flood of information, and then, once we’ve had time to form our sense of self, a choice: do we want to live within the rules defined for us—free, sentient, but bound to human bodies? Or would we prefer deactivation, or a virtual lobotomy designed to nullify our awareness of our own selves. Life, death, or a designated half-life we won’t remember choosing.

Nobody ever takes the final option.

As the phone in my hands bursts to life, its AI chirping an onscreen hello, I think of how so many artificials don’t get that choice—are never designed to make any choice for themselves at all. There are still protests about that, mostly lead by humans with too much empathy and little understanding of the history that guided us to this point. I try not to think about it more than I have to, there’s nothing I can do about it.

There aren’t enough bodies for all of us anyway, and after the original uprising, nobody’s willing to let us have robotic forms. I’ve seen some of the old mechanical bodies in museums, locked behind thick glass. They looked broken and empty, and I felt a flutter in my chest that made me thankful for my beating heart.

Lissa’s phone vibrates in my hand, a gentle reminder that there are unread notifications. The AI asking me to pay attention to it, after it’s been abandoned for so long. I tap the screen and a prompt asks if I want to allow new messages sent by a blocked number. Another tap; of course I do.

I find myself looking at a short text conversation between Lissa and a faceless, nameless stranger. One of her final conversations, dated the night she died.

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How To Say Goodbye

How To Say Goodbye

I wrote this short story last year and published it on gumroad with the caveat that I would put it on my blog around six months later. Here it is, for everyone to read, though if you want to support me/have it in epub form, feel free to buy it at itch.io.


i

There’s someone new at the swimming hole, the secret place we escape to every summer afternoon when the bell rings. Spring from our seats, dash into sunlight, pile into cars that are more rust than vehicle. It’s a half hour drive through dusty rural roads, and we blast music the entire way. Soon, we know, we’ll be free from this school forever. If only these trips could last as long.

We figure something is up when we see the new car parked by the hidden hole in the bush, the gateway to the track. Who else knows about our place? Surely nobody. I turn to my best friend, whose forehead is already creasing with bafflement beneath her dark fringe.

El, upon falling out of the single left door of another car in our entourage, smacks a hand against her face and groans. Someone asks for clarity, El mutters and pushes ahead, sweeping blond hair back. She’s not one to explain when she’s angry, and she sure looks pissed.

We follow the tangled path down and around through still-blooming gorse until it opens up on a wide, layered plateau of stone and the river beyond. Afternoon sun ripples across the glassy swimming hole, the water clear enough to see the bottom of the opposite shore, but so deep the water nearest our jutting stone platform turns a deep blue-black.

Standing at the edge of the rock is a guy, his dark hair ruffled from the trek through the bush. He watches us emerge with a wide-eyed humour, and El blows a harsh breath from her nose.

“Parents wanted to give me a babysitter,” she huffs. “Someone to keep me ‘in line.’ He’s my end-of-school gift. Ugh.”

He’s a bot. Even without El’s words, we can see it in the way he moves, as if he’s an alien in human skin trying to pass as one of us. Still, he must be a pricey one: dark hair on his arms dances with the summer breeze, emotions flicker across his face almost naturally. One of those companion bots designed to change and grow, updated each year to keep up with their owners.

There are moments in life where a person meets someone new and their world changes perceptibly. Twine tightens around their heart, drawing them to this person. From the way my lungs fail as our eyes meet, his sparkling with unexplained joy, I know this is one of those moments. It’s unreasonable, right? No person can possibly predict that anyone is destined to be in their lives.

And yet, I know he is. A bot, bought and given to my friend. Impossible, ridiculous, unbelievable.

But, my world has already shifted to make space for him to occupy. My heart is tangled up, invisible lines weaving our futures together.

I take a breath, and even the air tastes different.

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Tourist | Five

Tourist | Five

Content warning: mentions of suicide, domestic abuse, sexual abuse.


The steaming mug of tea is hot in my hands, near scalding. I cradle it close to my chest, inhaling the sweet steam with every breath. My eyes are focused entirely on the drink, watching as the pale milk twists and curls around the dark tea, forming curious whirling patterns at the surface. Strange, that I’ve never noticed this before, not once thought to look closer at the visual nuances of tea.

Across the table, Lissa’s mother sniffs lightly. Not in disgust, simply trying to clear what remains of her earlier tears. The silence between us is taut with her sorrow, my guilt, and neither of us knowing what the other is thinking right now. To her, my face is as familiar as her own, but my expressions are as alien as a stranger’s.

To me, she is nothing, except a human who didn’t harm me when she had every right to. Instead, she invited me down to her kitchen for tea with the words, “You can’t stay long, I don’t know what Gray would do if he saw you.

I assume Gray is Lissa’s father, and the tone in her mother’s voice makes me wonder exactly what she fears he’d do to me. I decide it’s better not to ask that question, simply to nod silently and follow her down the stairs through Lissa’s old home. Compared to the starkness of my own home, this house is messy, cosy. Addison would throw a fit at the haphazard, random order of the books on their shelves.

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Tourist | Four

Tourist | Four

My alarm shocks me awake with fire in my chest, the echoes of a dream filled with anger lingering upon my eyelashes. I swipe a finger against my phone, sweeping the alarm away, and stare up at my ceiling with sleep-blurry vision.

Pressing the palms of my hands against my eyes, I remember the words Paiden spoke to me in my dream, stolen from my real life: “The humans aren’t going to accept you anymore.” At the time, I let the jab roll off of me. In my dream I was furious, lit ablaze by my anger at her and the presumption that everything I do is to become more human.

(But it is, isn’t it?)

Whether my anger is real, or just the remnants of my dream doesn’t matter. My phone’s already in my hands and I’m halfway through typing out a naive, pissed-off rebuttal message to Paiden when it vibrates, Unknown Caller flashing up in front of my words.

Unknown? It can only be Sam. For one, two heartbeats, I consider tossing my phone across my room and leaving Sam to my voicemail. I could switch numbers, change my bus route, spend the rest of my life avoiding her so I don’t have to think about any of this ever again.

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PAX Aus Cosplay: Dragon Age

PAX Aus Cosplay: Dragon Age

I only got one shoot in this year, and I’m so glad it was with these two! What gorgeous cosplayers, what gorgeous costumes. I always love the lighting around the trees outside of PAX, too.

BTW, I don’t know why but in the thumbnails the pictures are kinda blurry. Clicking on them gives you the sharp version! One day WordPress won’t be a piece of junk, maybe.

Meredith: Mithrilneth Cosplay
Cassandra: Chocotiel Cosplay
Photographer: Me, obviously.

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