From the Mind of Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor ~"A Trusted Name in Terror."

The Darkness, Artificial Light, In The Valley of Shadows

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I've been fan fictioned!

This morning I got an email note from another blogger who asked me to check out his blog because the latest post was inspired by events that took place in Artificial Light.
I’ve been writing for a while now and some of the most contentious on-line wars I’ve ever seen have been over fan-fiction. I never entered any of those flame war conversations because both sides make really good points which left me wandering someplace in the middle.
I always wondered how I would feel if I had ever been ‘fan-fictioned’ and now that it’s happened I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m pretty stoked! It was written by blogger Craig Whibley and you can read it here:
Now don’t get me wrong, if I had found out about this via a multimillion dollar budget movie trailer I might not be skipping around on cloud 9 but with so much of my writing being inspired by others how would I look if lost my mind and started acting like a dick, claiming ownership of an idea, and threatening legal action over something as cool as this?
Hell the foundation for my short The Lazarus Antidote is built entirely on someone else’s work (used with permission of course, but still):
And The End is Now would be completely different than it is now if not for the inspiration and collaboration I got from for Lori Titus.
I’m still stuck in the middle over the whole fan-fiction idea but I wish this guy tons of success, because the 1st thing I wanted to do after I stopped screaming in glee was write. I inspired him, and then he inspired me! And so the cycle of creativity continues. And this is why I’m stuck in the middle of this hot button issue because I do believe that the creation of art should have some ownership but to suggest that anything created now is 100% original and wasn’t inspired by anything that came before it is a bit asinine.
The only we as writers are going to be successful and achieve acclaim is if we help each other, encourage each other and be inspired by one another. And we have to allow others, to a certain extent, to be inspired by the work we create.
This industry isn’t every man, woman, and child for themselves. It just doesn’t work that way. In  Monopoly the game is over once ONE person has EVERYTHING. We as artists and creators can’t let that happen because the end game would be the end of books, the end of art, the end of music. Do we really want that?
Well because no post would be complete w/out shameless self-promotion here are two chapters from Artificial Light that inspired the short story Quake. Have a good one guys!
Book II Chptr 8
     “Who’s guarding the gates of Hell while you’re walking Lucifer’s dog?” Dr. Farley questioned when he was within speaking distance. Ken and I both smiled at that.
He looked over his shoulder, then up at the watchtower before addressing me again. “And you are?”
     “Dr. Farley. I’m Artemisia, this is Dr. Kenneth Astor, and this,” I said while nodding toward my dog, “is not Cerberus, but Sentinel.”
    “We belong to the Skyward Group. We’re the ones responsible for your release, because we feel you’re too brilliant of a scientist to rot away behind bars. ” 
     Dr. Farley crossed his arms and looked up again at the watchtower, which, like before, he found empty. In the seven years he resided here, he had daydreamed of escaping and had never once seen the tower unmanned. The mistrust that was written all over his face now migrated to the rest of his body as he took on a more combative and hostile posture.
The large Rottweiler equalized the tension by matching Dr. Farley’s posture of bellicosity. The doctor realized that he was no match for the 107-pound guardian, whose ancient was breed was prized for their fearlessness, strength, and power, and he instinctively took a step back.
         I shrugged my shoulders. “You can go back if you want.”
        “And what will my brilliance cost me this time?” he snapped. “I have been stripped of my license, labeled a crook, a fraud and unreservedly ruined. I have lost the appetite for flattery in the form of half-truths and whole lies.”
         “You’ve already secured a piece of real estate in Malebolge. Why don’t you just wait until you get there to move in? I’m sure you’ll be more than comfortable with the housing arrangements our group can provide while you’re still living, which thanks to you, could be a very, very long time.”
        “What is it that you want from me?” the doctor demanded.
       “Nothing,” I answered while admiring the way my gold bracelets played in the light, wondering if my earring danced in the sun the same way. Dr. Farley noted my distracted vanity with an expression akin to that of one trying to swallow hot sand.
        “I know you have reservations, Dr. Farley,” Ken noted. “However, we are nothing like your former associate, Mr. Sheldon. One hundred percent of the funding for the studies we conduct is legal, and so is twenty percent of our research.”
         “Only twenty percent?” Dr Farley questioned.
           “Twenty percent,” I repeated. “Publicly, I sit at the head of the Artemisia Luxury Group, the core of which is jewelry. I am the owner of Periodic Element AU and Atomic Weight 196, and my jewelry boutiques are scattered over every continent on the planet.
        “You and your associate raised 93 million dollars over the course of six years, which is admirable. However, the revenue generated through the Seattle, New York, and London Periodic stores alone is twice that in just six months.
        “After taxes, payroll, and insurance, the Artemisia Luxury Group earns nearly half a trillion dollars a year.”
Dr. Farley’s mouth fell ajar. “Ken,” I continued, “is the head of the Astor Corporation. You might have heard of them; with over 300 firms worldwide conducting military weapons research, you’d be right to say that the Astor Corporation is the world’s most powerful and influential defense contractor.”
           “It pains me to admit that the Astor Corporation earns more money than The Artemisia Luxury Group.”
          “There are twenty-one founding members of the Skyward Group,” Dr. Astor explained. “All of us own independent organizations that gross more than one hundred million dollars a year, and we’ve all partnered with global organizations who are researching and developing things such as wind and solar technology, weapons, deep-sea exploration, crops that will grow in barren lands, cancer research and the like. Our alliances with these firms and the multitudes of fundraisers we host throughout the year make up the twenty percent of the research that is conducted at the Skyward Group and provides our firm with the first tier of funding.”
“Our second tier of funding comes from covert U.S. military research,” I explained. “But we also conduct experiments for militaries of other nations as well. Two percent of the private earnings of our founding members are pooled together and added to the funds we receive for these projects, which leaves more than enough money to fund an organization such as ours.”
           Dr. Farley remained silent as he once again looked at the unmanned tower.
           “The biggest weapons project we’re working on is the Tesla Project. We’re studying the effects of geophysical manipulation, but you will not be a part of that.”
            “Geo …” Dr. Farley stammered nervously, looking again at the empty watchtower. “You people are trying to control the weather?”
            “Dr. Farley.” I did the best that I could to keep the irritation out of my voice. “There are more neural connections in the human brain than there are stars in the sky that can be seen with the naked eye, yet you have found a way to clone the human mind, so let me be the first to welcome you to the ranks of ‘you people.’”
            “Like you, Dr. Farley,” Ken explained, “Nikola Tesla was a pioneer, and we are simply continuing the research he started in the 1940s.”
“Everyone tries to control the weather,” I said, answering Dr. Farley’s question. “From the sacred ceremonial dances of ancient peoples to children signing ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away,’ everyone tries to control the weather. But we’re not trying to control the weather, Dr. Farley, we’ve weaponized it … and our experiment surpassed all of our expectations.”
“The Indian Ocean earthquake that caused the deadliest tsunami in recorded history was man made. The quake was the second largest ever recorded, lasting almost ten minutes. The entire earth shook as a result, because the initial earthquake triggered other quakes as far away as Alaska.”
            “Wha …?” Dr. Farley was beyond astonishment. “But over 200,000 people were killed.” Dr. Farley’s eyes quickly darted between mine and Ken’s as he took another step back. Beads of sweat began to appear across his forehead as he glanced again at the unmanned tower and the large iron gates of the prison, which had locked behind him.
            “Yes. That was quite unfortunate.” I explained, “The Skyward Group donated two point eight million dollars as a result of the humanitarian plight that resulted. But of course, that wasn’t good enough, because it took them less than a year to retaliate.”
          “Them?” William had been scared beyond description at the prospect of being thrown into and then spending the rest of his life in prison. Now, as a free man, Dr. Farley found himself paralyzed with terror with the company he now kept. 
        “Yes,” Ken explained. “Ten months later, they counterattacked by creating Hurricane Katrina. The scientists behind the assault, the ones who controlled and directed the super storm, were caught and assassinated. In the three years following Katrina, the United States has not been attacked by a hurricane, and that is no accident.”
        “But there was Rita,” Dr. Farley recalled.
          “Hurricane Rita wasn’t a weapon. She was just your good old-fashioned natural disaster. There’s nothing we can do about acts of God,” I explained. “But we’re working on it.”
He appeared stunned, and I was becoming exasperated by the contentious way Dr. Farley was looking at us. 
          “You’re working on it, with weatherized warfare? What is it that you want from me? I don’t want to be involved with manipulating weather; there are limits to what man can …”
         “No there aren’t, Dr. Farley,” I interrupted. “And like I said, you will not be a part of that project. We’re here because of Project Six Thirty One.”
        “What the hell is …” I cut him off again.
         “Dr. Farley, I’m pleased to tell you that efficacy has been established with the pre-clinical trails you were conducting before your imprisonment.”
        The expression on the doctor’s face was indescribable as he looked beyond me to focus on something that wasn’t there. I handed Dr. Farley a thick confidential folder labeled The Children of Project 631, which contained smaller folders with information on six young subjects.

Subject one, female, 11 years old
Professor Mary Stemple PhD, 64, transitioned to Amy Rebecca Winsten.

Subject two, female, 10 years old
April Tanner, 42, transitioned to Stephanie Johnsten.

Subject three, female, 10 years old
Elizabeth Whitley, 64, transitioned to Elisabeth Tiffany Gunnell

Subject four, male, 9 years old
Samuel Whitley, 63, transitioned to Jeffery Samuel Winthrow.

Subject five, male, 9 years old
Army First Sergeant James Earl Lake III, 68, transitioned to Allen Kenneth Morgan.

Subject six, female, 7 years old
Annette Smith, 72, transitioned to Olympia Dawn Michaels.

             “We have taken the liberty of securing all the data that were compiled while you were under the umbrella of the Lotus Foundation. Dr. Farley, we are here to invite you to continue your research under the protection and with the unlimited funding that a group such as ours can provide. However, sir, if you wish to return to prison, that can be arranged, as we can continue this research without you.”
Dr. Farley was no longer uncomfortable in our company or distracted by the unmanned tower. The accomplished geneticist pulled his glasses from his shirt pocket and quickly scanned the patient files that were handed to him. He was back in his element for less than a minute before all the files were quickly flipped through and scanned.
 “Invite me, what an interesting choice of words. Where are the others?”
            “The others?” Ken and I asked in unison.
            “Yes,” he answered irritably. “There are only six patient files here. Eight transitioned, so I ask you again: Where are the others?”
            We said nothing, as we looked at each other in stunned silence.
            “Arrogance breeds incompetence.” Dr. Farley actually turned his head and spat before he glared down at me from over the top of his glasses, clearly no longer bothered by our research or by Sentinel, who issued a growl of warning. 
           “Complete this research without me … maybe. If you paid as much attention to the data as you do to the idol god that you’re wearing around your wrist.”  
         I was furious. “Let me remind you that I’m not the one who spent the last seven years in prison, Dr. Farley.”
         “And I need not remind you that I’m not the only one who’s placed a deposit to dwell in the fourth Bolgia! Let me ask you something, Artemisia, what is it that you need me for?”
        “I do not need you for anything.”
         Dr. Farley barked out a harsh laugh. “Of course you don’t. I assume I have a workspace in all of this.”
         “State of the art,” I snapped.
          Dr. Farley brushed past me and got in the car. “Then take me to it.”
Ken offered to drive.

Book II Chptr 23
              The density of the woods started to recede, and slivers of shimmering skyline began to expose themselves between the branches like a flirtatious burlesque performer, but we were still an hour away from our destination. Dr. Farley had his window down, and cold air was gushing in. I turned on the heater, and Ken slowed down and then stopped.
        “Do you feel that?”
       After a few moments, I did. “An earthquake.” It was strong enough to bounce loose rocks and pebbles on the asphalt.
        “Is this one of yours?” Dr. Farley sarcastically asked from the back seat.
        “No,” we both answered at once. When the rumbling stopped, Ken and I both reached for our phones and placed calls to different departments within the Facility. I brought Dr. Farley up to speed once I got off the phone.
       “The calls were placed in accordance with the Skyward Group’s emergency management procedures, which mandate that all of the founding members and our most senior staff call in to report locations and receive assessment reports on any outside environmental threats, ground or structural damages, and quarantine conditions and, if necessary, obtain any rerouting instructions for the safest and quickest way to the Facility.”
I reached into the center console and handed Dr. Farley a company cell phone, gave him the number, and brought him up to speed with regard to his status reports.
       “When speaking to anyone within the Skyward Group, clients of the Skyward Group, or anyone working for our supporting organizations, you need to do so on the phone I’ve just assigned to you.”
      “Because cell phones and base stations use low-power transmitters, we’ve purchased our own cell phone company to ensure that information traveling through our channels and frequencies does not collide with any other providers and, of course, to prevent any verbal communication from being intercepted and/or recorded.”
        “We also own our own networking and Internet infrastructures, tons of domain names and IP addresses. Anything you can dream of that will allow us to control and monitor the traffic of communication and information, we’ve thought of it first, and we’ve already implemented it.”
        Dr. Farley placed the phone on the seat next to him and commented sarcastically, “Big brother is always watching.”
     “Of course, you can acquire your own personal cell phone,” Ken offered, “but we will tap into and monitor all communications through that phone as well.”
Dr. Farley took a deep, slow breath, checked out mentally for a moment while he thought something over, then turned his head toward the window to allow the cool air to wash over his face.
            Two low-flying Army gunships screamed past us, racing toward the city ahead. I turned to regard Ken with a questioning look.
            “This is intriguing.” Ken placed another call. “Put a squint team together, find out what just happened, and get General Addison on the phone.” Ken ended the call before whoever he was just talking to had a chance to respond.
         “All of your staff has been accounted for, and they are at the Facility,” I continued. “Your personal assistant reported that all of the glass in your apartment building has been shattered, so you won’t be able to sleep there tonight.         It will be too cold; it’s on the eighteenth floor. We have housing at the Facility, but if you wish to stay in a hotel or at a nearby resort, your assistant can arrange that.”
          "My apartment?” He asked the question slowly and in a slight state of confusion, as if he were just coming to after being knocked unconscious.
         “Well yes.” Ken glanced into the rearview as he spoke, throwing quick glances at the road. “The apartment is spacious. The view from the library overlooks the park while the living room and bedroom offer views of the city’s skyline.”
        “It’s a little over a thousand square feet – not too big, but much bigger than where you slept last night, and graciously furnished. The property belongs to the Skyward Group, so we’ll have all the glass replaced in a few days, but if you wish to live somewhere else or buy your own property, by all means do so.”
        “I am a convicted felon with no money, and you’re talking to me about purchasing real estate? And another thing: I am no longer a doctor, so please just call me William.”
         I turned to look at Dr. Farley, ignoring the antagonism in his voice and the lines of irritation across his forehead.
         “You’re right. Dr. William Arthur Farley was a convicted felon, but tragically, he died this morning in prison. You’re still a doctor, and you’re still William Farley, but now you’re Dr. William Ryan Farley.” I removed an envelope from my bag and handed it to him.  
          “Here are your new driver’s license, Visa and MasterCard, passport, social security card, information on your banking accounts, and your company identity card.”
          “Be sure not to lose your badge,” Ken cautioned. “You’ll need it to activate the biometrics security system that will allow you to move about the Facility according to your security level. That badge will allow access to any of our research facilities worldwide that you have clearance for. You’ll have your thumb and eyes scanned when you go through orientation with the security team.”
         William was surprised to see that the picture on his passport was the same one he had taken when he renewed it eleven years ago. His chest tightened. He no longer remembered the man in that photograph. He sifted through the various photo identifications, reached for the cell phone, and put everything into his pocket.
      “So I guess this is a good time to negotiate my wages and benefit packages.” Ken was shaking his head, not at the ruins of the city through which he was trying to navigate, but at William’s question.
       “No. As a senior staff member, you have a base salary of twelve million a year, and it is non-negotiable.”
        The sound that William made was startling. I had been receiving and responding to emails on my handheld, but hearing that sound made me quickly turn to look at Dr. Farley to ensure that he was OK.
          Sentinel, who had been lying in the back seat and keeping a relaxed watch over Dr. Farley, immediately snapped into full, taut attention. Ken was looking at him through the rearview mirror and had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting an emergency responder who was directing traffic.
        With the car at a full stop, and as we ignored the scathing curses from the man we’d almost run down, all eyes were on Dr. Farley. He held up his hands and shook his head as if trying to clear it.
       “Gimme a minute. You cannot imagine the day I’m having. The most frightening, amazing day. Being broken out of prison, told my experiments are successful – that my patients actually transitioned, that they’ve made it.” He took his phone and ID out of his pocket and shook his head again.
      “To be given a new hold on life and to learn you have twelve million in your bank account, to find out you even have a bank account.”
     “Actually,” I interrupted, “you only have just over six. It’s the standard signing bonus, but you go on payroll as soon as you start working.”
     William quickly did the math. “So that’s roughly eighty-three thousand dollars a month?” We both nodded in agreement.
       “Plus benefits and bonuses,” Ken reminded him. William was again shaking his head as if to clear it.
Ken was waved on, and once again we weaved our way around roadblocks and passed herds of people huddled together in wide-eyed fear and relief.
      Falling bricks crushed cars parked below, and the number of killed and injured changed every few minutes.
One sky rise had shifted on its foundation and was now leaning on another for support. When the occasional concrete slab, broken rebar or other building material fell to the earth, the crowd watching from a distance would scream.
       The concentrated area of destruction along with the earlier sightings of the helicopters led Ken and me to suspect that the devastation was caused by a bombing and not the forces of nature. 
       It took nearly an hour to snake our way to the Facility. When we finally arrived, Dr. William Ryan Farley was asleep, and neither one of us wanted to wake him up. He was right; we could not imagine the day he must be having.

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