Maybe a heartwarming story to make you smile. A comedy story to make you laugh. A thought experiment to make you think. A weird story for something a little different, or even a published project in case you need to lose yourself in a nice free book.
I was raised by three parents. My mother was a very nurturing woman who made sure I always felt loved and cared for. My father was a great protector who saw that I was provided everything I needed to survive.
Then, there was earth. I was always surrounded by earth. Every book I read. Every movie I saw, even most of the pictures I had were from earth. My mother provided love, and my father provided protection, but earth provided my dreams. All I ever heard about was earth. Whose getting elected on earth. What great new technologies are being made on earth. What great new places have been gone to and explored.
There was great technology and natural beauty on Mars. Our canyons were deeper, and our mountains were higher. Our hydroponics farms and fusion generators were a new wave of technology that was unrivaled on earth, even all these years later, but it was all boring, all lifeless, all purposeless. The farms gave bland food that only served to provide for our barest nutritional needs. The mountains were as inaccessible as the moons of Jupiter. They existed, but I would never see them, and the fusion generators? Out of sight and out of mind. The lights might as well have been powered by ghosts.
My daily life was blank metal and plastic walls and formless nutritional wafers. A blank slate, that’s what my life was. A blank slate onto which I projected earth. Beyond the cold lifeless walls, I imagined not dull red earth, but vibrant grass, trees that reached for the sky, and animals. Deer peeking out from behind every bush, and squirrels scurrying through the branches of every tree. Giant cities populated by countless millions of other people. I could actually meet others my own age.
My parents told me I was the first martian. They were the only couple that had been allowed on the way mission to Mars, and I was their only child. If I was to ever know what it was like to play a real game with others my own age, or to ever know the joy of a date. I had to get off this planet. My parents told me that it wasn’t possible. No government could afford to bring us back, but… hang on, what’s that in the sky? There aren’t any meteor showers scheduled for today.
“Honey! Come down off the observation deck and get your nice clothes on!” My mother called. “The Mars settler mark 2 is landing, and honey.” My mother paused for dramatic affect. “There’s a girl on board.”
I had an opportunity to verify(somewhat) the data I talked about in the last real life story. When I was talking to one of the panhandlers she said that she might make 50 dollars in a day, and couldn’t afford even low income housing. I visually got to verify this as there was only one donation in an hour period, and it couldn’t have been for more than six or seven dollars at the most.
Drawing that back to the title, the donation was once again from one of the more disheveled cars at the intersection. To add to that, there were three panhandlers at the intersection, and while I was talking to one of them, another went and gave her lunch to the third. She’s surviving off the kindness of strangers, and she readily gave up a meal to somebody else.
It kind of makes me feel inadequate somewhat, because it’s easy for me to give. I’m not struggling financially, so going out and giving some food to a few panhandlers is really no big deal, but that lady might have given up her meal for the day, or at least that meal represented a much higher percentage of her daily income than what I give. I don’t want to give numbers about what I make, but suffice it to say I can live by myself without much difficulty. This lady on the other hand, probably makes between 50-100 dollars in a week, so that one meal was likely 5-10% of the money she made that week. To say nothing of the fact that she could have saved a few dollars by eating that meal, and used the extra money to buy an additional blanket.
Speaking of blankets, next winter I think it might be a good idea to hand those out. They’re not terribly expensive, and they’d help out with sleeping in the cold. It got down to almost freezing that night, and two of the panhandlers were going to be forced into sleeping outside in a local park. Writing this up makes me feel a little silly for feeling cold on my forty foot walk from my nice warm house to my soon-to-be-warm car.
Something that always makes me feel awkward, is when I got out to talk with panhandlers, and they thank me for coming out. What they do for each other requires far more sacrifice than what I do for them, and it’s really inspiring to be a part of. I heard a quote the other day ‘the poor are first to suffer, but also first to help’, and it’s absolutely true. Makes me feel a bit more secure about myself. In the extremely unlikely even that I’d ever be in their shoes, I’d be around plenty of people who were eager to help me. They might all be other panhandlers, but that’d be just fine.
As always, would love to hear you guys’ stories, and shout out to /r/homeless.
My friend jumped so high his head almost hit the ceiling.
“What was that!?” He demanded of me. My parents were away, it was stormy outside, and a deep guttural voice from above us had just asked us a question.
Before I could answer he runs to my door and locks it. He’s not a moment too soon, because there is a creaking sound from overhead as the door to the attic opens. It’s decided to come down.
“Did you hear that!?” He frantically demands, looking around desperately for something to block the door.
“It’s m…” I start to say, but he cuts me off. There are footfalls outside my door, and my friend loses it.
“It’s coming!” He shouts, diving behind my bed and covering his head. He’s shaking now, but he can’t help but look at the door as a forceful knocking sound rattles the room.
A hear a squeak from my friend as I get out of bed and move toward the door.
“Don’t touch that!” He orders as I reach for the door handle. I ignore him and open the door to be greeted by what appears to be an eight foot tall jet black yeti with fangs.
“Dude the wi-fi is out.” He tells me.
“Sorry man, I’ll go power cycle the router and see if that helps. You good up there? Any leaks?” I ask.
“Naw man, it’s all good. I was just in the middle of something you know?” He says.
“What are you doing!” My friend exclaims, flabbergasted at the interaction that is taking place.
“I tried to tell you it’s no big deal.” I inform my friend. “♪Cause I’m friends with the monster that sleeps over my head.♫”
As soon as we stepped off the Appalachian trail into the forgotten village, we were swept away by the elder. He had seven eyes and three arms, and called us each by name. The strange man gathered his people to us, and told us of their story.
We took many pictures, and if there had been cell signal, we would’ve called all our friends and colleagues immediately. This was the find of the millennium!
After being regaled by the alien village elder he took us aside one by one into his lodgings, and whenever one of us emerged we wore an expression of utter awe and peace with the world.
When it was my turn to enter into the sacred lodge I was frightened, but I had no need to worry. The village elder told me everything I knew, laid my own life story before me, and told me how it would end. He spoke of my future spouse and children. He told me that my past transgressions against my fellow man were small, and were far outweighed by my contributions.
Hours seemed to pass in that lodge, but when I had emerged a mere fifteen minutes had transpired, and I too wore an expression of peace with the world.
There was food and celebration, and when the sun began to set the villagers urged us on our way. No wanting to displease these marvelous beings, and eager to report their whereabouts, we departed.
At the outskirts of the village the elder stopped to speak with me a moment.
“My son, once you have lost sight of our village you will forget it ever existed. Every picture you took will show only shrubbery, and every face that you remember will seem to be just a tree. We live a peaceful existence and cannot have our secret spoiled, but you shall carry with you, now and always, the serenity you now feel.” I was taken aback.
“Thank you friend for your gift of serenity, but how can your secret survive? Surely someone will come through here eventually.” The elder grinned knowingly.
“My son, this is New Jersey. We’ve worked many centuries to insure that no one wants to come here. Did you not see the Jersey Shore? My name is Snooki, and I bid thee farewell.”
Edit: i have been to new jersey several times, and know a few friends from there. It is a perfectly nice place IMO, but i just couldn’t resist taking a crack :).
Original post:[The Shifter](http://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/2wb322/wp_a_shapeshifter_deals_with_an_existential/)
PDF download(free): [The Shifter](https://samgalimore.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/the-shifter.pdf)
Amazon link(if you’re feeling generous): [The Shifter](http://www.amazon.com/Shifter-Sam-Galimore-ebook/dp/B00UA6KFO0/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425592610&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=the+shape+shifter+sam+galimore)
First bit of the audiobook: [The shifter audio](https://clyp.it/iru4c20s)
Another /r/writingprompt book/novelette finished. This one was completely unplanned. I kept trying to end it as quickly as possible but the story just kept on running. It was so much fun talking with all of you as the thing came out part by part, and I am looking forward to the next time :).
If you read this the first time around, this new version is more polished, having gone through a couple drafts to remove errors. It also has a few sentences and paragraphs added in to smooth out character arcs, but the biggest change is the ending. There’s a page or two right at the climax that are entirely new, and I think will provide much better closure for the reader.
Shameless plug time! If you liked this one, there are two more(not in this series), that you might like. [Letters to my father](https://samgalimore.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/letters-to-my-father.pdf), about a daughter who leaves her father a series of letters in a desperate attempt to fix his future. And [Unhooked](https://samgalimore.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/unhooked.pdf), about a dystopian society where almost everyone spends their lives in lucid dreams, and one man decides to wake up.
That’s all for now, if you guys like the audio version I may run with that, but right now I’m just happy that this is all polished up and ready to go. Thanks again guys!
Until the next journey,
Been a while since I posted one of these. I got snowed out one weekend, and had a weekend-long commitment on another, but now I’m back, and it was really good to get back out there and hang out with the less fortunate.
It was another super busy one. The very first intersection I drove to had three panhandlers. I haven’t seen an almost ‘fully loaded’ intersection like that in a while. I guess times are rough now.
Having three people at one intersection made it a little interesting, and I had to rethink my approach. Normally it’s just walk up to the only person there and ask ‘hey, I don’t have any cash on me, but I was going to get some food if you want to come’, and then we get food. With three people I think it would’ve been fairly rude to just take one person, so I decided I would start with one person, and just work my way around, seeing if anybody wanted to come. If they accepted I would then circle back once I reached the last person, and take all three(or whoever wanted to come), to get something to eat.
Oddly enough, nobody accepted, all three people said they really couldn’t leave their spot, but I ended up getting to feed people by just making a run through a nearby burger king.
I still got to talk to people, but this is making me rethink my strategy. The goal is not just to feed people, but to give them a little time where you can talk to them as another human being on an equal level. However, it does limit me to talking to just one person at a time, and it’s not the most efficient thing in the world. I’m thinking of changing from taking one person(or even a group of people) to lunch, to just going around an intersection, finding what people want, and just making a food run.
This strategy of making a ‘food run’, did still allow for some time to talk with people. I had a chat with one guy for probably 10-15 minutes about jobs. I am extremely blessed to be working in a field that I love, have good job security, and pretty good pay with upward mobility. This guy, until recently, had been in a similar situation(minus the job security). He was something of a local celebrity, and went to school to work in his field, and loved working in his field every day.
The other two people also had what I would consider fairly ordinary jobs that would provide a steady income. Then stuff happened, and now they’re on street corners relying on the kindness of strangers. The scariest part was one of the three said he was there because of a medical situation(got hit by a drunk driver), and the last time I was out both of the panhandlers I talked to said they were on the street in part because of a medical situation. I’ve got pretty rock solid coverage, but it still is somewhat worrisome to think how easy it is to suddenly find yourself in that situation.
I’m now looking through youtube to find a video of this local celebrity, and it’s a fairly surreal experience. Feels kind of like the beginning of a book or something. I won’t post anything if I find it, but I’ve already got one video that might be him. It’s hard to tell because being out in the element changes you a bit, but I think it might be. Famous to homeless(or at least jobless), in no time flat.
Last thought, really thinking about changing from a one on one ‘let’s go eat’ to ‘I’m making a food run, what do you want?’ It would let me do 4-5 people instead of 1-2, and would still let me have an opportunity to share their story.
As usual, I’d love to hear any experiences you guys have had with the less fortunate. I’ll see you guys later!
“Dude, don’t forget the Mentos, we can use those to make bombs.” I the elementary schooler in charge of rounding up the remaining candy at the Toy store. It was the first toy raid that Tommy allowed me to supervise. Tommy was a twenty something who said he had come back ‘from beyond the veil’, to save us once all the other adults had died. Most of the high schoolers, especially the high school girls, had died too.
“Board game section pillaged sir, they had the new settlers of catan expansion.” Another elementary schooler reported.
“Excellent, Tommy loves those games. He will be most pleased.” I tossed the kid a snickers bar as a reward.
“We need to make sure spirits are as high as possible tonight. We’re going to TP the girl’s camp tonight, and we lost three men to the spit wad catapults last time.” That reminded me. “Timothy!” I shouted to the kid who was pilfering costumes over in the toy section. “Be sure and get as much body armor as possible, and make it quick, we don’t want to get caught by the wizards.” I had never met the wizards, but Tommy assured me they existed.
They were men who hadn’t been taken. Men with long robes who kidnapped and ate little boys who took too long gathering supplies.
We heard a distant rumbling on the wind. “The wizards are coming!” I shouted. “Everybody drop what you’re doing and run for it!” Items clattered to the floor as the little vagrants dashed for the door. The little kid in charge of the candy foolishly decided to attempt to make off with all his ill gotten goods.
The rumbling grew louder as they reached the door, and the lad with the candy began to lag behind. The others didn’t notice until they were several blocks away. By then, it was too late.
“Oh look Brother Matt, it’s another group of wandering orphans. Shall we see if they need anything?” Brother Stephen asked me.
“No Brother Stephen, they look like they don’t particularly want to talk to us. On second thought, that slow one looks like he’s taken only candy from that store. I’ll bet he’s got frightfully bad cavities. We better bring him back to the abby and see to his teeth.”