Thursday, May 31, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 71: Of Mansions and Machetes

          Okay, so it's more of a fort than a mansion, per se...
          I had an interesting day. It actually started with my haircut yesterday, after which I purchased a new machete because my old one was getting really beat-up. I'm sure you know how it a new machete and you just can't WAIT to test-drive that sucker, right?
          Oh, you've never purchased a machete? Never mind then. All you really need to know is that I really wanted to go cut stuff down.
          It's a very neat machete. It's double-bladed; has a straight edge on the front side and a jagged sawing blade on the back end. I figured the back end was more decorative than anything else, because I've seen similar blades before and none of them worked very well. Still, worth a shot, right?
          Back when I was younger (and a little shorter), I had taken half an acre of straight thicket and thorn bush and riddled it with hallways and rooms, creating a fortress completely inaccessible to anyone who didn't know which key branch to move to enter the hidden passageway (since the outside was completely composed of thorn bushes, the key branch was crucial knowledge) and didn't happen to have a chainsaw at the time. It was glorious. However, I hadn't been inside for the last two years due to bugs and injuries, so I figured today would be a good day to take a machete to the growth inside the fort.
          Why is it that only prickly undergrowth, like thistles and thorny vines, like to grow in a space that is already composed of thorn bushes? Not fair.
          I was wishing for a weedwhacker by the time I made it to the main chamber, but my machete was cutting through everything nicely. A rather large branch had drooped to the point where it made passage through the fort rather difficult, so I took a few half-hearted swings at it before I decided, just for the heck of it, to try the saw blade out.
          One minute later, I had the branch cut out and dragged over to help bolster the defenses on the south wall. I was also excitedly explaining to my dog Max how well the machete worked. After I finished, I cut down a branch for him to chew on to thank him for being such an excellent listener. I had to wake him up to give it to him.
          So that was my day. I finished clearing out that fort and I started in on an entirely new one a few hundred yards away, in case the first one is ever breached. I also took a thorn branch to the eye and accumulated several thousand cuts (none from my machete, though--a new first for me!!!). Also, mosquito casualties were in the millions...
          Tomorrow, we see if I can cut mosquitoes down in midair. With the machete. Or a weedwhacker. THE WAR IS ON!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 70: Death and Destruction in the Line of Duty

          Ever taken a sledgehammer to a grill?
          Yeah, I didn't think so.
          This lovely opportunity was given me yesterday, as our family got a new grill and I was ordered to dissemble the old one. The words "by any means necessary" were actually spoken by the short-sighted parental unit, so I suppressed maniacal laughter, took up a sledgehammer, and began gleefully whacking the daylights out of the poor grill.
          Thirty minutes later, I was marveling at the grill's structural integrity as I switched from hammer to angle grinder. For those who have not grown up with tools, it's basically a hand-held tool with a composite metal disk that can cut through steel and iron with ease, throwing out a satisfying shower of sparks as it does so. If you ever get the chance to use one, make a great effort to locate a suitable pair of glasses, because my efforts to secure a pair were not great enough, and after 15 minutes of happy sparking, I shot a metal shard into my eye.
          After I removed the metal, I returned to the sparking and managed to cut through the rest of the grill without incident. I attempted to save the igniter in the hopes that a new battery would provide me with the trigger mechanism for my Fourth of July cannon, but after seven Band-Aids later, I decided regretfully that it was not to be and threw the pieces of the now-conquered grill into the back of the truck for dumpster disposal later and retired to the barn to get flattened by a horse and spat on by an alpaca.
          Why do we even HAVE those things?
          Leaving behind some amused animals and nursing some bruised ribs, I returned to the house to catalog injuries and ponder my next move. It came in the form of my old machete, which I managed to dig out of my closet and sharpen up. My dog and I then left for the woods to test it out.
          We returned in an hour, leaving in our wake a trail of new forts, shattered forts, and blood trails (mostly from me. Okay, totally from me). I shall leave it to the imagination as to how our time was spent...but I'll give you a hint. IT WAS AWESOME!!! Just...don't ever forget you're holding a machete when you try to swat a mosquito. Yeah, you'll kill the mosquito, but you're going to lose a lot more blood then you would if you just let the mosquito and his entire extended family have dinner. On the other hand, there's the principle of the thing...I'd personally rather lose blood by my own hand than by a stupid bug.
          But I digress.
          So yeah, this is the first day of my summer...and ironically, the last day before I head over to another college for a one-week summer lab that's scaring the living daylights out of me just thinking about it. Oh's only a week, and after that I can come home and begin planning the epic fireworks display for the Fourth that will make national headlines, either because it's amazingly cool and can be seen from three states, or because the farm vanished and left behind a smoking crater. Or both.
          Just kidding.
          Watch the skies.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 69: Dragon Master

This is a short excerpt from a book I was working on a LONG time ago. I gave up on it after a while, but am considering revisiting the concept. It had some potential. 

“Hey, Aaron, what’s up?”
Brown-haired, brown-eyed Aaron Henderson looked up into the tree he was walking under and saw his best friend Jason Everett perched on a tree limb ten feet off the ground. “Hmm, that’s a hard one,” he said dryly, “but I’d have to say that would be you.”
The blond-haired, blue-eyed boy looked down at him. “Didja bring your swords?   I was hoping we could do a little fighting.”
Aaron shook his head and cursed. “Dragonsteeth! I got back so late from our last battle that I got strapped by Henderson for not feeding the horses on time. I was only ten minutes late! He sold one of them, but he lost the money gambling, so he was in a really bad mood.”
Jason looked down at him curiously. “Which one did he sell?”
“Falnir, my favorite. Blast!” Aaron cursed again. “If only Henderson could have waited for the next race, I know I would’ve won on him!”
Jason shrugged. Aaron was an exceptional rider, owing partly to the fact that he could somehow communicate with the horses through his mind, a secret he had only shared with Jason. “Which horse will you ride in the next race?” he inquired.
“Firetail, unless Henderson sells him too,” Aaron grumbled.
“Well, good luck to you,” Jason said. A sly smile spread across his face. “You’re going to need it!”
Aaron growled at the insult and started shaking the sapling. Jason yelped with surprise—and fell off onto Aaron, knocking them both to the ground with a thud. Aaron squirmed out from under him and jumped on him, which started off a wrestling match which ended abruptly when they heard peals of laughter from behind them. Jason shoved Aaron off of him and stood up.
A party of three men and two women, the youngest a girl about the boys’ age and all of them on horseback, were standing behind them, having apparently snuck up on them while they were wrestling. Aaron got up, brushed the leaves and dirt off himself, and bowed, Jason following his example. “Good afternoon, sirs and madams,” Aaron said, hoping that was the right thing to say. “What brings you this far into the Divide?”
The girl looked at them coolly. “We are out for a ride. Father wanted to see how his new horse handled. And you?”
“Wrestling,” Jason said, grinning. He was about to say more when Aaron suddenly walked forward to the horse on which the lead man was sitting. “Falnir!” he exclaimed excitedly. “How are you, fellow?” Falnir nickered and shoved his nose into Aaron’s chest. Aaron laughed and rubbed his neck. The man on his back smiled. “So you’re the hand of Slagar Henderson,” he remarked. “You take very good care of the horses. I wish I had a hand that was as good as you.”
Jason stared. The man’s face had finally clicked. The Governor of Gatesville! He was the governor of the town on whose outskirts Aaron lived, and the orphanage was located near the middle of it. No wonder they sounded royal.
“Has Falnir lived up to your expectations?” Aaron inquired politely.
“Yes. He was very well trained. Was it you who taught him?”
Aaron flushed and dropped his eyes, embarrassed to receive such attention. “Yes,” he muttered.
“You have a way with horses,” Governor Sendic replied. “How old are you?”
“Fifteen, sir,” Aaron stated, backing away slightly. “I must be going now. It’s almost feeding time for the horses.”
“Yes, yes. Do not keep them waiting. Good-bye!” the governor said cordially, as with a light touch he guided Falnirv away.
“Good-bye!” Jason called out as the rest of the party turned and rode away as well.
Aaron grinned mischievously as he saw Jason staring after them. “You’re sweet on the youngest, aren’t you?” he asked innocently. Jason glared at his friend. “I am not! Shut up!” Aaron smiled even wider and started chanting, “You’re sweet on the youngest, you’re sweet on the youngest, you’re sweet on the OOF!”
Jason had lunged forward and tackled the chanting boy around the legs, bringing them both to the ground. They started to wrestle again. Suddenly Aaron broke free and jumped to his feet. “Look at the sun! It’s going down! It really is feeding time for the horses now.”
Jason grimaced as his stomach grumbled. “It’s feeding time at the orphanage too! Good thing they’re used to my nomadic habits, or I’d catch it!”
Aaron groaned. “I will catch it if I’m not back! Good-bye, Jason!” he yelled as he darted into the woods like a deer.
“Good-bye, Aaron!” Jason called after him. 

After ten minutes of running, Aaron broke out of the Divide and onto the horse farm on its border. He was panting hard as he continued running towards the barn, thinking Maybe Henderson isn’t home…..