Saturday, August 25, 2012


This piece is sort of personal, and it wasn't easy to write. I was a fat kid. I managed to lose a lot of weight when I was a teenager, but I did it the wrong way. I was depressed about my weight, and channeled those emotions into motivation to stop eating junk food and to exercise. It did the job; I lost weight. But it didn't solve my deeper problem, which was poor self image. In fact, it might have just made the problem worse.

If you're trying to lose weight right now, good for you. I hope you do it, and I hope you learn something from mine (and Benny's) mistakes.

"Mars" (611 words)
Aaron M. Smith- 25 August 2012

I couldn’t go back to sleep.

I got out of bed and headed down the hall to the bathroom, taking my phone with me. The alarm would be going off soon.

I stared at my face in the bathroom mirror for what felt like an hour. I felt like crap. Why is it that, on days when you needed sleep the most, you never seem to be able to get any? I splashed my face with cold water and started to put in my contact lenses.

My eyes fell on the bathroom scale, on the floor next to the sink. My old nemesis. I’d been fighting that damn thing for as long as I’d been self-aware. My parents said it was genetics, but that gave them too much credit. I was fat.

I didn’t want to get on the scale, but I felt compelled to.  I didn’t have any choice in the matter. I was a mosquito flying headfirst into a Bug Zapper. I stepped on and watched the needle lurch upward.

I stared at the scale and wished I lived on Mars. I wondered if NASA was planning on sending any spacecraft to join the Curiosity Rover anytime soon, and if they needed volunteers to drive the thing. I have my license. There aren’t even any other cars to hit. How hard could it be?

Thirty pounds. That was what I was shooting for. I once heard that you shouldn’t try to lose more than ten percent of your body weight at once, but this was important. I was a Junior. Prom was in eight months. That meant I had seven months, maybe less, to find a date.

And, if history served, nobody wanted to date Fat Benny.

I couldn’t stare at the scale anymore. I stepped off and miserably watched the needle plunge back down to zero. On Mars I’d only weigh eighty-seven pounds.

“You can’t want to lose weight just to find a date for prom,” My best friend Chuck’s words drifted back to my brain. Chuck, the track star, the girl-magnet. The guy who would never have to deal with a weight problem in his whole life. “You’ve got to want to do it for you.”

What did that even mean, for me? I DID want to do it for me. So that me could find a date to prom. How was that so hard to grasp? I ran my fingers through my hair and watched it stick up in all directions in the mirror. I guess I understood what he meant. I couldn’t try to lose weight just to impress girls. But I wasn’t happy. Losing weight would make me happy. And if it helped me find a date to prom, so what? That was just, like, more motivation to do it. How could additional motivation be a bad thing?

My phone chimed. I glanced at it, sitting on the bathroom sink where I’d laid it. The clock on the front said 6:15am. I opened the text from Chuck.


I groaned. I was most definitely not ready for some workout. But Chuck said I could go to the gym with him, in the morning, when it was mostly empty. He said getting a routine and a work out buddy is the easiest way to get started.

I threw the scale one last dirty glance on my way out of the bathroom. 

“I will defeat you,” I vowed.

The scale didn’t respond. I turned, having had the last word, and went to find my running shoes. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"The Coldest October" teaser

I've noticed something. I'm not writing nearly as many short stories as I used to. Even though I've been drawing more cartoons recently than I have in a while, I regret that I've done less short story writing. I'm going to focus on that for a while, especially since fall (my favorite season) is approaching. Something about the crisp fall air and turning of the leaves really energizes my creativity. 

As far as writing goes, though, I HAVE completed my first (good) novel manuscript as I mentioned a few weeks ago. I'm currently accepting requests for proofreading, if anyone is interested. I think anyone who enjoys mystery or sci-fi would enjoy it. Let me know.

To wet your palette, I thought I'd offer a little taste of what to expect in my novel (and in the sequel that I've been brainstorming for the last few weeks). 


“Give yourself up!” I shouted, and he spun around. He must not have known where I was, because he kept glancing around the rooftop. I turned my back to him, putting the machinery between us as I shouted to keep my location hidden. “There’s no getting out of here. If we walk out together, I can tell the cops that you didn’t fight. What’s it going to be?”

For a split second I thought that the unit I was leaning against was powering down, but a moment later I realized that the tapping sound was footsteps. I spun around, bringing my gun up to bear just as the man in grey reached me. His palm lashed out and slapped the gun from my grip. My right hand went numb, pain shooting through my still-sore fingers.

Still sore from yesterday.

His open left hand struck me in the chest, shoving the wind from my lungs and throwing me ten feet across the surface of the roof. I rolled like a lost hubcap until a solar collector stopped me.

“Don’t you get tired of doing that?” I groaned, climbing to my feet. The man in the grey suit had taken a fighting stance. He hadn’t moved from where he’d clobbered me. I took him in- plain grey suit, shirt, black tie. Maybe a size 38 medium. A face so plain that the only remarkable thing about it was just how unremarkable it was. His brown eyes narrowed beneath his heavy brow, the orange-gray New York sky reflecting a bit off of his perfectly bald head.

“Let me guess, Proscor makes a fine artificial skin, but artificial hair is harder to get ahold of. Am I right?” I said, buying time to allow my lungs to reinflate. “Who did your face? It’s good work."

“I know a guy,” it said, narrowing his eyes. “You’ve that private eye I ran into yesterday.”

“’Ran into’ is the right way to put it,” I said. “What are you doing here?”

“Just trying to be left alone,” it said. Something about its voice was more human than the voice of the receptionist had been, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

“Well, I hope you’re happy, because I’m involved now,” I said.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” he said. “But you need to turn around, go back down that ladder and tell the police to leave.” His words were heavy with emotion but as hard as granite.

That was what it was. Emotion.

“You know I can’t do that,” I said, putting my weight on my feet again. “You’re a full Auto, right? I’ll bet you’ve got all kinds of stuff programmed in your noggin. So you probably already know how the PI system in this city works.” When he didn’t reply, I continued, “I’m working with the NYPD on this, and if I let you go they’ll arrest me for aiding a fugitive. I’m not going to Sing Sing on your account.”

He was on me before I could think, crossing the ten feet between us in the blink of an eye. I ducked out of the way as his fist lashed out; there was a shriek of tearing metal as his hand punctured the steel equipment behind me. In the second it took for the Auto to free its hand I’d raked my fingernails across its face and bald head, synthetic skin tearing beneath my hands. When he turned to face me, his flesh-mask hung ragged off of his head like macabre dreadlocks.

“Don’t make me do this!” it shouted at me, and I could see the tiny blue camera-lights flickering beneath the false eyes on the skin. I backpedaled away, trying to give myself more room to maneuver.

The Auto moved faster than I could imagine, and suddenly it was on me again. It threw a wild punch that struck my shoulder, and even though I rolled with the blow jagged needles of pain tore through my arm all the way to my fingertips. I grabbed at his pants with my good left hand and yanked hard as I moved, throwing him off balance.

He stumbled for a moment and my foot lashed out, the heel of my shoe catching the back of his knees. It felt like I stamped my foot on a concrete sidewalk, but the force was enough to stagger him. He fell to one knee but recovered before I could get away, springing back to his feet. He discarded the rumpled grey suit jacket. His shirt had torn at the shoulders, revealing the carbon-fiber body beneath.

I knew I couldn’t beat him. This thing was a literal machine, made of steel and rubber and carbon fiber, and I was a flesh and blood person with a crippled hand and some seriously sore ribs. If this went on for much longer, he was going to kill me. I knew it, and he knew it.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Hmm, I guess it's been a while since I posted. What have I been doing for the last week or two? Well, I SURE as heck haven't been playing all the video games I bought during the Steam summer sale, that's for sure, heh....

Okay, you caught me. I bought Deus Ex: Human Revolution on sale and have really been enjoying it. If you haven't played it, one of the most fun exploits in the game is the ability to crawl through air ducts to sneak up on enemies; in fact it's done so commonly that it almost becomes passe. 

The strange thing is that nobody really seems surprised to see you when you emerge from the HVAC system.

NEVER trust anyone willing to just HAND you access codes. Never.