Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Melodie Gore, a short story

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This is a picture I took of my friend Melodie back in April at her birthday party. Not only is she stunning in the picture, but I also found it quite inspiring. So I wrote a little story. I'm not much of a prose writer, but I thought the easiest way to share this with people was to write it as prose. If you don't want to read a bunch of text you should stop reading now. If you like a little fiction, please read on.

Melodie
By Jonathan Tsuei

My home is silent, void of anything that might be a distraction. No televisions, no big electrical appliances that make a lot of noise, no telephones, not even an alarm clock. I can hear the slightest noise in this place and still she broke in undetected, until I caught her scent. You ever meet that person whose smell is so strong to you that as soon as she steps into the same room, you know she’s there, despite not having laid eyes on her? I could smell her and she was on the other side of my bedroom door. I still found her scent intoxicating, despite her intent.

I have worked alongside many Congregation Assassins and of them all, she was the only one that intimidated me. We only had one mission together. A mission that, I theorize, was meant to be a suicide mission. We survived, but just barely. That was the last of my involvement with the Congregation. No matter what year you decide to hide in, the Congregation always gets what it wants. The only way to kill a great assassin is to send the perfect assassin. They want me and they sent Melodie to do the job.

My door is locked. There is no silent way to enter. I grab my sidearm from the nightstand and crouch down next to my dresser. I look down the barrel of my weapon and keep it aimed at the door. If she steps through she’ll get one bullet ripping through her throat and another through the forehead, shattering the backside of her skull as it exits. We assassins are thrilled by the hunt, even if we are the hunted. It’s not the survival instinct; it’s the feeling of dominance over your prey. Outsmarting the target, predicting their next move and ultimately holding their fate in your hands, that’s what gets us off.

The door is broken wide open. I fire off two shots. Melodie is parallel to the ground, coming in feet first and my bullets fly too high. She fucking dropkicked the door down! I duck back behind the dresser just in time for her bullets to miss their mark. Bullets shred through the dresser. As wood splinters into the air, cutting through gunpowder smoke, I realize I’m still alive. I feel a brief pause in the rapid gunfire. I know she’s already dropped one weapon and is reaching for another that has ammunition. This is my opportunity.

I peek out left of my dresser, aiming my weapon at where I believe her to be. All I see is an empty space. Where did she go? I feel a jolt across the side of my face as the sole of Melodie’s boot comes crashing into me. Being low to the ground I maintain my balance and grab her by the ankle, attempting to break it with a swift twist. She turns with my motion and brings her knee crashing down on my skull. I feel dizzy and my vision begins to tunnel. Don’t blackout! I manage to stand and just as I do, I see the bottom of her palm come straight for my nose. I manage to deflect the shot only to be hit by two more strikes on either side of my head. Where’s my gun? Where’s hers? I should be dead by now. Why is she stalling?

I step backwards until I can feel the wall behind me. I hear a high pitched hum and I can’t tell if it’s my ears ringing or something else. My vision is still handicapped, but Melodie is walking toward me. There’s something in her hand. It’s silver. Shit, it’s her blade. This is going to be a lot more painful than I thought, messier too. She raises the blade to my throat and applies pressure. The tendrils of blood coming from my skull touch the blood that now begins to fall from my neck.

“Hello again,” Melodie says to me in a soft, raspy voice.

Her scent fills my senses again and I manage to smile. “Melodie,” I manage as I fight off unconsciousness.

“You know this isn’t personal, I have orders,” she says in a voice much more commanding than before.

“I know. Listen, let’s not prolong this, but I have to ask you one thing before you kill me.”

“Ask.”

“When the Congregation found us unconscious after our mission, you told them that it was me who carried you two miles to safety and signaled for the extraction. You carried me, not the other way around.”

My vision maintains well enough for me to see the discomfort in Melodie’s face. I never did understand why she lied about the mission to our superiors. I slowly raise my hand and place it on her gloved hand and say, “Look…” I stop midsentence as I feel the blade press harder against my throat.

“Take your hand from mine,” she says with a surprisingly gentle tone. I lift my hand away from hers slowly. The reflex of my mind runs through all the possible ways to kill her from this position. When the personification of your every desire comes to kill you, what do you do? Which instinct do you submit to?

Melodie clears her throat, “My mission, like yours, was to infiltrate and destroy the Saturn Compound. We did that. My secondary objective was to make sure you didn’t leave the Compound alive. I wasn’t given a reason and I didn’t ask for one.”

“Why didn’t you follow your objective?” I ask her.

Melodie’s eyes change ever so subtly and I know she’s done talking. She kicks down on the side of my knee with her heel and nearly snaps my leg in half. I fall to the ground and do my damndest not to show her how much pain I’m in. I feel the pressure of her knee on my spine as she grabs a fistful of my hair and pulls my head back. I feel warmth on my cheek as she leans in and places hers against mine.

“Goodbye,” she says, once again in that gentle tone of voice. She releases her grasp on my hair and squeezes a spot on my shoulder. My body goes completely numb and I don’t feel the blade pierce the back of my neck, exiting through my throat. I try one last time to breathe in so that I can smell her again, but nothing fills my lungs. I try to turn my head to look back at her one last time. I can’t move. I can’t feel. My vision goes black. I say in my mind, hoping she can hear me, "Goodbye."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

B&W Part II

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I was having a conversation with a coworker this morning while we still had some downtime. It was a continuation of a subject we came across a day or two ago when he asked me what else I had been working on in regards to my writing. My long time collaborator and I want to do a story in the future that plays with the themes of purpose and life in general.

The question posed in the story is something I believe everyone can relate to. When we are born, is it already determined for us who we will become, or is it our choices and experiences that shape us? There was a point in my life where I was an advid church goer and firm believer in the Christian faith. My faith brought me out to the middle of nowhere Minnesota because I felt as though God was telling me to move there. I am no longer a devout Christian, but I still wonder about who I am meant to be and if the choices I am making for myself right now are the "right" choices.

I went through a good portion of my late teens and early twenties not sure about what I wanted to do in life. I've tried my hand at a lot of things; DJ, bartender, insurance salesman, retail monkey, etc. I came to realize that I have a lot of stories to tell and that I'm pretty good at it. So I decided to become a writer and have been pursuing that full time for the last three years or so. I moved here to Southern California to be closer to the entertainment industry, but have yet to get my foot in the entertainment industry's door. I have however had two published works come out since I've been out here, one of which I wrote while here and the other while I was still in San Francisco, with more to come next year.

I haven't been writing all that much as of late due to a combination of fatigue, laziness and a feeling of going through the motions. I don't believe in writing only when inspiration strikes, I think that's a cop out. I suppose that's why I'm flexing my muscles again on this here blog and trying to work off some of that writer's rust. I need to get back into the daily regimen I once had and hopefully start producing quality stories again.

I don't know the answer to the question of whether or not we are born into who we are or become who we are. I like to believe that we have free will. I like to believe that if I try hard enough to accomplish something, I will. At the very least I hope to gain enough knoweldge to succeed the next time around. But talk of success is nice, succeeding is much more gratifying. 

"At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fates. That's the world's greatest lie. Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."

-The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

B&W

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There are times that I wish life situations were as simple as black and white, they rarely are. However, it makes me appreciate the simple pleasures that dip in and out of your life. A smile exchanged between two strangers with no promises of anything more than a mutual greeting. Holding hands with someone who makes you feel comfortable. A cup of good coffee from a cafe where everyone greets you by name. Megatron. Waking up to a text message from someone who just wanted to say hello because they were thinking about you. Inspiration. A good inside joke that never seems to get old. A new favorite song.

I also realize it's the trying times that make you who you are in life. We all go through our share of growing pains, be it in our professional, romantic, or creative lives. I suppose you can say I'm going through my share of growing pains right now. Things are hardly too difficult for me to handle, my own selfishness just wishes things were a bit easier. Easy is relative though, isn't it? Easy is what we make of a situation. I've never been one to shy away from a challenge and no where inside of me do I intend to start. Black. White. Easy. Difficult. Life. I won't be seduced by ease. I won't be defeated by adversity.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eric Canete's Blog?

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There have been a lot of questions about Eric Canete and his blog as of late. Some people have emailed me personally, others are talking about it on various message boards, some of you have gone as far as signing up for twitter just to ask me what the hell is going on with Eric's blog.

As most of you have noticed his blog is no longer active and I'll tell you why. Eric took a trip to Mumbai several weeks ago and spontaneously combusted while going through customs, taking out several metal detectors, two innocent bystanders and a drug sniffing dog. Luckily his luggage containing all his artwork was not damaged, I am not sure how that is possible. Eric was bringing all his artwork to India to start a school for young Indian artists to copy his style so he could in turn "draw" fifteen books a month. I suppose the forces that be were not happy with his decision to deceive the public and well...poof!

All the artwork was mailed back to his address and I now have all his art because as soon as I heard he had spontaneously combusted I collected everything I could knowing that it would be worth a fortune someday. I will one day sell all his art on the international black market and make a killing. 

(Those of you who are convinced you spoke to him during the Emerald City Con were speaking to the Canete-bot I built two years ago. No need to compliment me on the amazing work I did there, I already know how amazing that thing is. In fact, the Canete-bot has been out and about for roughly two years now. Any face to face meeting with Eric could have been a conversation with the Canete-bot instead. You figure it out, I will not pull up the logs for you, I'm sorry.)

Eric you are truly one of my best friends and I will miss you greatly. Thank you for leaving me a key to your place so that I could plunder it and send my future children to college, you were not only a saint in life, but in spontaneous combustment as well. I love you friend and I look forward to the day where we meet again. We never got the opportunity to release our creator owned projects for all to see, perhaps we will get that chance when we jump ahead to another life. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shit Storm Galore

I've been busy as of late and god damn am I tired. Still in the process of getting my things situated in the apartment, behind on writing and found out yesterday that my position at my nine to five was eliminated. Am I out of a job? Yes and no. I will be offered a new position at a lower pay rate, but the company will pay me the difference at the beginning of each quarter for the rest of the fiscal year. 

So I have a decision to make. I can either take the new position and new lower pay (which I don't know yet how much lower it'll be) or take six weeks of severence pay and try to find a new job in the shitty economy. Fun times. I have no idea what I'm going to do yet, I have some time before I have to give my employer my decision. On top of all that, I found out there was a death in the family. Funeral will be this coming Saturday I believe.

I've always been a firm believer of things happening for a reason. I just wish I had the wisdom to make reason of that reason. I always seem to land on my feet, so perhaps I should trust in that. However, it can be pretty difficult to put your trust in a cliche. Just to clarify the death in the family isn't someone I am particularly close to, but it's just a full on shit storm right now.

Not everything in my life is a mess right now, there are some good things going on. The stress level is very high though.

I took this picture one day as a joke of sorts. Heh, not so funny now, is it Tsuei?

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Secret Identities

So I mentioned quite some time ago about my involvement with an anthology by the name of "Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology". Well, it's finally coming out, April 15th to be exact. What better way to spend your tax refund dollars, huh? So here's my story, entitled "9066". Yeah, that's my whole story, so you technically don't have to buy a damn thing cause there it is. However, if you'd like to support the book you can easily find the anthology on amazon.com or your local bookstore come April. 



The art was drawn by my friend Jerry Ma and the voice over was by Parry Shen, both of whom are involved with the anthology in a more editorial fashion than I am. All I did was write a little story. The real props go out to guys like Jerry, Parry and all the other good people who worked behind the scenes of the book. 

I tip my hat to you good sirs. Thank you for letting me be a part of the project.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Dinner with friends

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So the other night we all went out to eat at Lawry's in Beverly Hills. The night was a combination birthday celebration for all us spring babies, and I guess within our circle of friends there are quite a few. My birthday is coming up on Friday, but it was nice to celebrate it early with some of those who have been the most supportive of me here in Southern California. 

The party was originally intended to be big with twelve people but it dwindled down to five. Good company is good company no matter how small that company is. Unfortunately I was feeling pretty sick that night and had to excuse myself early. I'm still recovering now, but I did get to eat some good prime rib.

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Good eating if you ask me. Thank you to Eric for taking care of the tab you classy man you. Thank you to Sam, Axel and Jonard for the good conversation and laughs. Happy birthday to all you spring babies. I leave you with pictures.

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Me heading out.
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Two Chinese guys.
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Axel brings the seasoned salt, Jonard brings the sexy.
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A moment to consider the menu, or life.
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I'm out of witty things to say.
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I don't remember what story Jonard was telling, but Eric thought it was hilarious.
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I don't know why Sam is pretending to concentrate, he just copied my order.

A couple more photos found on my flickr.