Free Short Fiction: The Gibson Diet

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Eighteen days was how long she claimed to have been on the Gibson Diet.

It wasn’t bulimia. It wasn’t the Keto, or the Caveman, or the Mediterranean. She wasn’t crash-coursing on newly discovered vegetables from Bolivia either. It was the Gibson Diet. The point was to mainline digital nutrients right into the back of your head.

“Digital nutrients?”

She looked at me like I had just asked the stupidest question since, “Are you pregnant?” She didn’t say I was stupid, she just had that look. The one where a woman looks and her eyes squint almost unnoticeably. It’s that slight twitch of the eyelid, so slight, if a guy wasn’t paying attention, he wouldn’t know he was in trouble.

Regardless of how thin the line I walked, she corrected me. The tone of her voice was motherly, parental and condescending. “It uses the elements already contained in your biology and redistributes them as sustenance.”

“Ah, sustenance,” I said with manly buffoonery, “sounds delicious. You say sustenance, I say greasy burger, greasy fries, tall glass of b—”

“Stop now.”

“What? Am I making you hungry?”

“You’re making me ill.”

“Seriously? How can you not like food?”

Her eyes closed and came back open. Her head shook once, quickly. Eyes fell on me in disbelief. “What you listed is not food.”

“Huh? Not…what?” My own disbelief was more vocal, less body-language.

Then she looked away. For a second I thought she couldn’t bear to look at me any more. It wasn’t me—she was looking toward some unknown future. She told me about it, “I’m beyond that sort of carnal chaos. I don’t need bread. I definitely don’t need meat. Vegetables are fantastic, aren’t they? Yes, but I don’t need them. I can live forever without killing another animal or plant, simply by living off of the molecules already contained within my body.”

“Hold on. So what you’re saying is that your body is eating itself? Do you still…you know…defecate?”

She rolled those eyes. She didn’t have to say it, but she did anyway. “Do we have to take this conversation down to such a low level?”

“I’m just saying, if you do still, then you’re going to run out eventually. Do you drink water?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. So your ‘digital nutrients’ don’t include hydrogen, oxygen, calcium…that sort of thing? You’re not making water through that USB in the back of your skull? What about other things the body doesn’t already have? Vitamin D?”

“I can get that from the sun.” It was momentary, but it was a good change. She wasn’t so condescending. She wasn’t quite so supercilious. Her mind went another direction. The tone of her voice became gentle. She explained her diet to me a little more. “The Gibson Diet gives me a steady flow of nutrients, instead of gluts and rushes which can be bad for your insulin count. I also get a scheduled dose of endorphins so I don’t feel hungry. It’s much more balanced than an oral intake. I’m not fasting, and I’m not wasting away. This is the way everyone in the future will get their sustenance.”

There she went with the “sustenance” again. I didn’t mention the potato salad and pretzels that suddenly appeared in my mind. My mouth didn’t sound off and betray the fact that I could practically taste the turkey, avocado, bacon sandwich that I was picturing. And I sure didn’t tell her about the fajitas. Never mind that. I kept my own tone gentle, to match hers.

“Your future looks bright, to me.” I smiled and nodded. Then I excused myself. “Hey, I got an appointment. Thanks for teaching me about your new diet.”

“You might consider it.” She sounded nice, but her eyes fell on my middle, where my girth is at its girthiest.

I knew what she meant, but it didn’t matter because I had somewhere to go.

Lunch.

On the way out, my stomach gave a loud rumble. I was so glad my stomach had the manners and good sense to wait ’til she was out of earshot before it did that.

I wouldn’t weep for the future though. She was wrong. People are too fond of feeding their face. No one wants the basic elements when they can shove breaded shrimp in their maw (and in my case, see if I can beat the record on how many fit in there). No one wants digital spaghetti. They want the real deal. They won’t give up cheese on a cracker for the idea of cheese on a cracker. It wasn’t going to happen, not now, not ever.

So she was wrong about the future. I appreciated her opinion, whether I agreed or not. My hope, to be honest, was that she wasn’t wrong about getting everything she needed. I’d hate to see her waste away.

Recently Read: Isobel Blackthorn’s A Matter of Latitude

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Recently Read: Isobel Blackthorn’s A Matter of Latitude

This review was requested by Isobel Blackthorne. She actually requested that I post a review on Amazon, but when I tried to do exactly that, Amazon told me I couldn’t review anything unless I spent 50$ on their site. Unfortunate.

Still, I promised Isobel Blackthorne that I would review her book, so here it is.

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My first impression: professional writing and editing.

I saw no major typos, punctuation errors, or grammatical faux pas. The flow of words was smooth. Isobel’s writing style is pleasant, mannerly, inoffensive, and conveys thoughts clearly. Each sentence, taken on its own merits, does not require heavy interpretation. That said, there are times within the book, usually at a chapter transition, when point-of-view changes occur, that a reader—this reader—could get confused. Especially awkward is the first person point of view. Isobel handles this point of view well, but probably the book would have benefited if a third person center of consciousness point of view was employed. Then characters could be named directly and the confusion over who was narrator wouldn’t be delayed through quite as many sentences. Another effect of the first person point of view is the diminished intensity of the action and thriller scenes. Since A Matter of Latitude is realistic, there’s no magic or Greek gods to save the character in peril (this is a good thing). The characters have to get out of peril on their own. Despite these style moments, the overall plot was believable, location seemed well-defined, and characters were complete with great dialog. I was super impressed with the dialog. I could recommend the book A Matter of Latitude to anyone ready for a realist drama with hints of tension.

And for discernment‘s sake:

Drawing power 1

Interest factor 0

Offensive factor 1

Range of emotion 1

Character factor 1/2

Style 1

Length 1

Total: 5 1/2 out of 7

 

Writing Exercises

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One of the methods I like to use to boost creativity in writing is the writing exercise.

There are many exercises including the writing prompt, which is a word or a phrase that spikes your juices. Creative juices.

Another one is the photo prompt. Take a photo, like the one above with all the typewriters on old desks, then you write a story about what you see.

Still another is people-watching. You watch humans in their native elements and you write about what you observe.

The one I want to promote here is what I call The Empathy Exercise. It’s similar to people-watching, because you need a little experience with real humans to make any of it work or to make any of it sound accurate.

To do The Empathy Exercise, I’ll take a subject that’s universal, like fear, and I’ll try to imagine as many different types of people and how they feel, sense, or deal with that universal subject. Sometimes I’ll take only one person (a character, for instance) and imagine all the emotions possible and how they react to them. Today, I thought I’d do nightmares. It’s fear, but more specific. What are people’s worst nightmares? How many nightmares, funny or realistic, can I imagine? How many nightmares can you imagine? To let you use this method yourself, I’ll list the categories first, then I’ll list my finished imaginings. If you want to come up with your own imagined nightmares for these categories, don’t read to the end. If you need a little more of a push to get your creative juices flowing, scroll down to see what you might do. If you want to come up with your own categories, no problem, stop here, don’t read any more, and I’ll list one more “if” statement so you don’t accidentally peek and feel like you’ve cheated. IF you want to write some creative categorical nightmares and leave them in the comments, I’d be happy to share them, as long as they’re not too ethically questionable. Here then, is the list:

Rastafarian nightmare:

Catholic nightmare:

Mechanic’s nightmare:

Chemist’s nightmare:

Horror screenplay writer’s nightmare:

Woman’s nightmare:

Man’s nightmare:

Spider’s nightmare:

Spiderman’s nightmare:

Count Dracula’s nightmare:

Metrosexual’s nightmare:

Vegan’s nightmare:

Meat-eater’s nightmare:

CEO’s nightmare:

Democrat’s nightmare:

Republican’s nightmare:

Atheist’s nightmare:

Radio DJ’s nightmare:

 

And these are those I thought up:

Rastafarian nightmare: all the marijuana plants died.

Catholic nightmare: the Pope’s hat really is hiding an elongated, alien skull.

Mechanic’s nightmare: all the sockets are 19/32 and only 19/32.

Chemist’s nightmare: HCl no longer balances pH.

Horror screenplay writer’s nightmare: no one cares what the monster looks like.

Woman’s nightmare: hair became snakes overnight.

Man’s nightmare: size really does matter.

Spider’s nightmare: one hundred other spiders came to live in the same web.

Spiderman’s nightmare: the two spots on his forehead he thought were acne turn out to be growths of hairy mandibles.

Count Dracula’s nightmare: his victims were all lepers.

Metrosexual’s nightmare: unshaved chests are in fashion again.

Vegan’s nightmare: carrots feel pain when they get uprooted.

Meat-eater’s nightmare: cows grow hands, learn to shoot guns, and crave human flesh.

CEO’s nightmare: getting paid (and valued) less than the janitor.

Democrat’s nightmare: to find out you’re as crazy as they say.

Republican’s nightmare: to find out you can see things from someone else’s point of view.

Atheist’s nightmare: the voices weren’t insanity but guardian angels’ survival hints.

Radio DJ’s nightmare: there isn’t anyone out there listening.

Recently Read: Apologetic Poems by David Lir

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Apologetic Poems: Poems Written Under Duress.

To begin, David Lir’s got himself a crazy sense of humor, the likes of which could cure cancer or bring world peace if only more people were aware of it. The masses run around like blind mice in mazes, missing the key turns that would bring them to freedom.

David Lir’s poetic style is a key turn.

I should be clear that not all the poetry is humorous. Every emotion imaginable can be found within Lir’s poetry. He isn’t limited at all in his scope.

Because there are nearly 2,000 pages* in Apologetic Poems: Poems Written Under Duress it may at first seem enormous, or thick, or immense, or dense, but don’t let that hold you back. To purchase a copy of David Lir’s book of poetry is not so overwhelming as you might think. I got caught up in that very feeling when I first started on Apologetic Poems: Poems Written Under Duress even though I was excited to read it. In fact, I quickly read 500 pages of the 2,000 before I realized I was reading wrong. Binging on poetry is like crossing your legs, immediately uncrossing them, and pretending you’ve meditated. I didn’t want to pretend I read the poems. I wanted to really read them, slowly, deliberately, even ponderously. I wanted to think about them, ruminate on them, even savor them.

So I did.

I started over, reading only about one a day, and the difference was incredible. The imagery was intense. The feelings within the poetry are sometimes focused and contagious, other times profound. On the poems in which I felt the meaning obscure, I had fun trying to mull over the possible meanings. That is what poetry is truly about, isn’t it? I may find one meaning in a poem, while another person could get their own meaning out of it. Poetry, like music, can affect different people in different ways. Each one of us in the audience can glean a meaning for ourselves. At times (and I have yet to do this, though I’m sure it’ll happen), we can get a new meaning from a re-read, like a re-listen.

You read a piece of work from a poetic artist, you get a sense of what it’s about. You read the same work again at another time and get a completely different feeling.

My favorites among David Lir’s work are many, however I have to mention some that I found amazing: Sorrows, Herself, Quietude, Words Were Tumbling, and Cough Off. Each of these led me to sense some particular emotion, a specific nuance. I’ll have to read them again to test the original meaning I thought each of them contained.

You can read it yourself by following the link here: Apologetic Poems: POEMS WRITTEN UNDER DURESS

*Note: The digital version has 2,000. The paperback has 300 pages.