I’m Going to Suck

I’ve wanted to be a fiction author for a long time. I took writing classes in middle school in which I started (but never finished) all manner of fantasy novels. As a child, my favorite books were The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and as an adult, I love The Wheel of Time, The Dark Tower, and A Song of Fire and Ice. I am amazed by authors who are able to create such complex worlds and I would love to have that type of impact on someone someday… but I’ve never really started.

There are many reasons that I have not written a novel (yet?), but I am having trouble convincing myself that the reasons are good reasons. As cliche as it is, I am afraid that what I write will be bad or hated or whatever. But I also know that it absolutely will be bad, at least in the beginning, and that’s okay.

I recently read “Rocannon’s World” by Ursula Le Guin. Even if you are familiar with Le Guin you probably have never heard of “Rocannon’s World”. Le Guin is a fantastic author but this novel is really not that good. It was her first novel and it is mediocre, at best. It was the first place that the word “ansible” was used for faster-than-light communication, but that is really all it contributed to science fiction. I have a tendency to not only compare myself to the best, but compare myself to the best works of the best. I read books like The Dark Tower series and am in awe, but I forget that King’s magnum opus is the result of over 40 years of professional writing, 22 years of writing on that series, and thousands upon thousands of hours of practice. Even if I have a smidge of writing talent I have not put in the hours necessary. So yes, my writing will be bad. As Macklemore says:

The Greats aren’t great because at birth they could paint
The Greats are great because they paint a lot

Practice, practice, practice… but I don’t practice, I want the stories swirling in my head to magically appear on paper. I wait for the perfect sunny day where I have the right amount of creative energy to even sit at my computer to write. And because of that, my stories may go untold.

So, is this blog post just a wordy recommitment to writing?

Not really.

I’ve done that before. For some people it helps to make public statements, but not for me. When I make a public statement it tends to destroy my motivation. I feel like talking about creating is enough, that it is an appropriate substitute for actual creation.

I want to be a writer. I want to tell my stories. I want the world’s that swirl around in my head to be made real. And to do that I need to have perspective. My first novel won’t be a best-seller, I’m not Patrick Rothfuss and that’s okay. I’d be fulfilled if I could just tell my tales, and if 2018 is about anything for me it is about seeking fulfillment. 2017 was happiness and stability, but happiness and stability aren’t the end goals of life and I hope I can move beyond them.

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

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Words Shape Mind

Got a question or comment for me? Send your questions or comments anonymously to this form and I’ll address them.  My life is an AMA and no subject is off-limits. I want to know what is going on inside that head of yours. 

Yesterday, I shared a couple images on Instagram of some food I made with a caption about how I saved money by making my own curry instead of going to a restaurant. It was a pretty bland post that I mostly shared to get a little serotonin boost from the likes and to signal the things I’m interested in (vegan food, exercise, home cooking, etc). In response to the post someone made a comment that kind of irked me though. I’m paraphrasing because the comment was deleted, but the person said, “People who eat at restaurants are pussies”.

Yep. That actually really bothered me and I responded with, “I would appreciate it if you didn’t use that word on my posts.” He quickly deleted the post but I wish I would have handled the situation differently. Instead of asking for self-censorship (which I think is valid in some circumstances on a private forum like Facebook) I should have explained why his comment bothered me and turn into a learning experience.

I can’t turn back the clock, but I can use my blog to explain why I don’t like his comment. It really comes down to two primary issues, the first being the word “pussies”. Using a body part that is primarily attributed to a group of people who have been systematically held down in society by men with something negative is problematic. The statement this commenter seems to be making is that eating at restaurants is a sign of weakness and a synonym for weakness is the vagina. Throughout our culture, many derogatory words are associated with females and this is a subtle way to dehumanize women and justify subjugating them.

The second issue I had with the statement is that there is a value judgment to be made about someone for an action that harms nobody (and is, in fact, beneficial to many people). People eat at restaurants for many reasons but I can’t think of one that implies a moral failing. And I’m sure my many friends who currently, or have in the past, work in the restaurant industry would be financially devastated if we started viewing those who patronize restaurants as morally weak.

The words we use matter. Not only because others will make decisions about us and our character based on our words, but because our mind is shaped by language. Our perception of the world is influenced by the words we use, both vocally and in our thoughts. If we view people as “pussies”, “retards”, or “faggots” for doing something differently than us then we are building neuro-pathways that connect people with moral failings. We will start to see women, the handicapped, and the LGBT community as something inhuman, unworthy of respect, or filled with moral weakness simply because of their genetics and not because of their actions.

I think we each have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to closely watch our words and to improve our thoughts. This wisdom has been passed down from before the time of Christ and seems to be universal. We should watch our tongues and be aware of our thoughts, and work hard to improve both and better the worlds. I have failed at this many times in my life, and I am sure I will continue to fail, but simply being aware of my words and the subconscious effect they may have on my mind has been a valuable exercise. And I hope that others will try to be aware as well.


Richard and Lucy (Rewrite)

Alright, as part of my concerted effort to improve my writing and make this into a career of sorts I rewrote the writing prompt from “On Writing” that I talked about in the previous post. I think this is much better, it feels truer. I am also going to submit it to Stephen King as he requests (Edit: Stephen King no longer accepts submissions… womp womp). I’m not sure if I’m going to significantly revisit this writing prompt again anytime soon but I do need to come up with more things to write about for my 1,000 words a day habit. Tomorrow, I plan on addressing some questions sent to me via SurveyMonkey (so get them in soon and I’ll probably respond tomorrow).

Content Warning: Violence, mental health issues, psychological thriller/horror style writing

Richard and Lucy

Richard felt relief as he opened the door to his newly sold house. Today would be the last day that he we would cross the threshold into this house that used to be a home. Instead of furniture and pictures and toys littering the rooms there was nothing but brown boxes stacked with simple labels written on them to make organizing the new home easier. Each word representing a room and a dream. Silverware and plates in a box marked “Kitchen” where Thanksgiving dinner would be made. Towels in a box marked “Bathroom” where he and his wife would bathe their newborn child. Picture frames and mementos in a box marked “Living Room” where they would curl up and watch tv, surrounded by testaments to their joyous life of adventures. Bedsheets in a box marked “Master Bedroom” where he and his wife would eventually, after much practice, give their daughter a new sibling. But those dreams were shattered and Richard knew that he had to finish packing up reality and get on the road.

His new life in a new, safe town was hundreds of miles away and there was a lot of packing to be done. His closest friends offered to help him with the final day of the move, but he decided to do it alone. Their optimistic visions of music, pizza, and beer as a final farewell felt too fake to him. This wasn’t a joyous occasion and it wasn’t a communal one. No, he knew he needed to do this alone. Even his daughter, the only person he knew loved him, was absent. At six years old, she was too young to really help and he didn’t want her to see him cry over these boxes of broken dreams. She needed to know that he could protect her, that he was strong, that things would be okay. Besides, he knew she would have more fun at her grandparents’ house and they wanted to spend just one more day with their granddaughter before Richard and her drove off into the sunset.

Without conscious thought, Richard aimed his phone at the wireless speakers that sat on shelves throughout the house and pressed play. The house erupted.

*symbols and drums*

*guitar screech*

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above! We’re gonna rise above!

The living room, dining room, and kitchen went smoothly as his body got into a routine. Lift box. Move box to the truck. Put the box in the truck. Repeat. Each brown square sitting on top of each other, a simple game of Tetris with the same shape in varying sizes. His mind was completely turned off, lost in the task of moving and the angry voices that echoed throughout the house. The hours passed quickly.

Then, he entered the bedroom and his mind came to life. This room, a place where he and his wife cuddled, made love, stayed in bed all day, fought about finances, and acted silly was where their love began and, eventually, died. His eyes glazed over and he felt an impending panic attack. Usually these attacks were triggered by sites that reminded him of his time in the military, but there was no such trigger around. This room was a trigger. Suddenly, smells flooded back to him. Her favorite perfume, her hair, her scent. He sat down, put his head between his hands and tried to focus on the music, but the music suddenly stopped and the speakers beeped.

**Incoming call from… Mom**

A flash of light.


The world started to come into focus and all Richard could think of was rabbits. Rabbits running in circles. No, they weren’t rabbits he realized. It was a merry-go-round, the one near the beach. His daughter was on one of the rabbits and waving. He was happy.

Then, the rabbits started to disappear as reality returned. He tried to beg them to return but all that came out of his mouth was a groan and spit and blood. He blinked his eyes and tried to focus on something, anything, but it seemed too difficult. Movement appeared to his right. A being in white. An angel, she was humming. He was in heaven. He smiled and relaxed


Richard awoke again and this time things came into focus more quickly. The rust started to come off his soldier’s mind and he consciously realized for the first time that he was in danger. This wasn’t a panic attack and he wasn’t in heaven. There were no rabbits.

He began to scan his body from top to bottom.

Head: hurting from the rear, warm liquid flowing down his neck, he was conscious so no major blood loss, possible concussion.

Senses: No impairment.

Torso: Sitting position on floor facing corner, left side sore with possibly bruised ribs, arms secured behind back, felt like rope, no apparent injuries

Legs: Untied, no apparent injuries. Phone still in his pant pocket.

Conclusion: Culprit is either very sloppy or wants to talk and doesn’t fear him running

Options: Scream for help – unlikely to work due to the distance to nearest neighbor and daytime traffic. Try and move – possible but with unknown assailant(s) and their position, better to preserve energy. Wait and observe – best option, feign weakness.

Richard groaned and coughed slowly, pretending to just wake up.

“Well, well sugarplum! I’m glad to see you awake. I’ve missed you!”

Footsteps approached from his right and out of the corner of his eye he saw a flowing white wedding dress. His ex-wife, Lucy, beaming as brightly as she did on their wedding day. His first fleeting thought was how beautiful and sexy she still looked, fitting into the tight dress seven years after she first wore it. Even the veil brought about a sense of secrecy that he found erotic. His second thought was how strangely appropriate it was that instead of a bouquet of white flowers she gently held the small handgun that he had bought her and taught her how to use. The macabre image was highlighted by her perfect white dress sullied with blood splatters.

“Aren’t you excited for our second wedding?” she asked. “This time our bond really will be for eternity. But first, you need to get dressed!” Her body vibrated with excitement, her face almost childlike as it beamed joy.

He turned to see her and noticed that his tuxedo was draped across one of the boxes. This was a bad situation, but Richard started to become confident. He was larger than her, well-trained, and if he had his arms free he knew he could overpower her when given the right opportunity. She was armed, but that didn’t concern him too much. The handgun was a small caliber and one gunshot from that weapon wouldn’t be fatal unless it was in the head, an unlikely situation if he acted wisely. He knew that one-shot kills and hitting targets while tangled in a fight can make for good cinema but reality was messier and more confusing.

She began to untie him while slowly humming “Here Comes the Bride”. He knew that this could be his best chance to overpower her. If he could stand quickly while she was off balance he could grab the gun, overpower her, and get control of the situation. He started his internal countdown, his senses heightened.


“Now, I hope you don’t get cold feet,” she said.


“I would hate for something bad to happen…”


“…to that bitch that you love more than me.”


“If you try anything you may find her corpse…”

“Wait. Are you going robot on me again?!? You emotionless drone!”


“You always do this! You can’t love meeee anymore can you?! Only that stupid bitch!”


With those words, all thought of escape or fighting stopped. He had to know what she meant before trying anything. If Lucy had put their daughter in danger he knew he had to get information out of her first. He walked over to the tuxedo and slowly, nervously put it on. He had stripped in front of this women many times in his life, but this felt different. He was stripping in front of an enemy, and that vulnerability was difficult to overcome. Senses his reluctance she smiled and said, “Aww, do you want that to be a surprise for our consummation? That’s so adorable!” and she turned around. He dressed quickly, sliding his phone into his tuxedo pocket.

“Okay, I’m ready,” he said after getting dressed.

“EEEEE, you look so handsome!” she said as she walked over. She adjusted his tie a bit and then smiled. “Perfect. Time to get married again!” she said, pointing the gun at him, her face suddenly serious, “go into the study.”

He was painfully aware of how tight this hallway was as they moved to the study. It was barely big enough for two people to pass each other if they turned sideways, and even then, bodies inevitably rubbed together (a happy quirk of the house that has lead to a spontaneous quickie between two lovers on more than one occasion).

At the end of the hallway he slowly opened the door. The light flooding in the windows prevented his eyes from adjusting for a moment, but when they did he witnessed a scene of horror. At the center of the room was a makeshift altar built out of boxes and decorated with flowers and weeds from the garden. Toilet paper was hung from the ceiling and walls, the white broken up by splatters and streaks of red blood. Behind the alter was a dead postal worker in uniform, a clear gunshot wound through his left eye. His right eye was open, staring blankly at the floor and his swollen tongue pressed out between his lips. Blood snaked across the floor, filling in the imperfections of the hardwood floor. The smell of death and shit and piss filled the room.

Richard instinctively recoiled back into the gun that was pressed into the back of his neck. “Don’t worry, my love. I know he isn’t a priest, but as a government employee I am sure he can marry us.” He could hear her smiling through the words. There was true joy in her voice, once again she was that young woman excited for her wedding day. She sounded happy and healthy and joyous about the future, a future that none of them could predict.

His mind continued to race through every possible scenario. Did she really have their daughter somewhere? Or was that a lie? How did she get her? Where could she be keeping her? He wanted to fight back but couldn’t take the risk, he had to play along until he knew the truth.

“Lucy, darling, don’t you think we should have a flower girl for this special occasion?” he said.

“That would be wonderful! But unfortunately, we don’t have time. The ceremony is starting. I love you so much, Richard!”

Lucy walked over to a laptop that was sitting on a box in the corner and pressed a button. The familiar “duh duh da duh” of “Here Comes the Bride” pounded out of the small speakers. Something felt off about the recording to Richard, the music seemed muted and imperfect. It wasn’t until Richard heard a man say, “Dearly beloved…” that he realized that this wasn’t a song, this was a live recording of their actual wedding from years ago.

Lucy took Richard’s hand and looked up at him. “Soon this will be over and we will be able to consummate, don’t tell my parents but I’m looking forward to that as much as this ceremony,” she said. “And then one quick errand and then we are on to our honeymoon! Just the two of us!”

Their short ceremony went by in a blur as Richard’s mind raced trying to find a solution. He pretended to recite his vows as the recording played and Lucy pressed closer to him humming and swaying. Once recording announced that they were married and she let out a cheer, put the gun down, grabbed his face, and kissed him deeply. She quickly headed for the door, dragging Richard into the mostly empty bedroom.

“Hmm, well this isn’t very romantic. We can’t make love on the floor, that isn’t going to work.” She looked around and seemed lost in thought. “I know! We won’t make love, we will fuck instead. We can definitely fuck on top of boxes.”

She stripped quickly out of her dress and stared at Richard. “Take off your clothes my love, we can’t fuck if you aren’t naked.”

He slowly complied.

She looked down at his naked body and scoffed. “What’s wrong? Can’t get it up for me anymore? Or were you always faking? I knew you military boys were just closeted gays. All that time bunked up together fried your brain. Oh well, close your eyes and use your imagination if you have to. Because if you don’t fuck me then that bitch of yours is going to spend the last hours of her short life gasping for air and wondering why her daddy didn’t save her.”

She moved closer to him and started grinding against him, his body responding at as always had to her. Soon his body was ready and she smiled. He felt such shame in the pleasure, his mind was fractured between what he knew he should do and what his body wanted to do. It didn’t take much effort to reconcile the two. If he needed to have sex with her to keep his daughter alive he would.

So, he bent her over the boxes and fucked her.

Their bodies found the well-developed routine and rhythm that comes from a decade of practice and soon they both lay panting on the ground with their clothing as a makeshift blanket. For a moment, Richard forgot his daughter and what brought about this whole situation. For a moment, as he looked into Lucy’s eyes, he remembered falling in love with her in the first place.

“I’ll be back in a second and then we can head to Mexico for our honeymoon,” she said as she stood up and walked towards the guest bathroom. Over the next few minutes heard the toilet flush, the sink run, and the sound of Lucy rummaging through boxes. He knew time was running out. They would never make it to Mexico. Lucy was acting too neurotic to get on a plane and driving for three days was impossible. Besides, there was likely a warrant out for Lucy’s arrest. He didn’t know how she got out of the facility but it was likely violent and people would be looking for her. He had to overpower her now and force her to tell her where their daughter was. If that didn’t work all he could do was hope the police would be able to help.

When she returned she was fully dressed and holding the gun in her hand again. “Time to go! Put your clothes on, we have a long trip ahead of us.”

He got dressed and, as they started walking down the hallway. He knew that exiting the hall into the front room would be his best chance. The room opened in a way that would allow him to quickly move to the side of the entryway and get control. He began to steady his breathing and get his mind back into “robot mode”. He became a machine, violence was his job, his training took over and he pushed his humanity deep into his subconscious. She wasn’t his ex-wife or lover, she was the enemy. She was going to kill his daughter. This was self-defense. He wasn’t doing anything wrong.

As he walked ahead of her he could feel the gun pressed into the lower right part of the back. Good. Even if she got a shot off he knew it wouldn’t be immediately fatal and if he spun to the left the gun would shift right away from his body. He had walked this hallway thousands of times and knew how many steps it was to the end. He put his hand into his pocket and felt his phone.

He began counting down steps.


Visualize the attack


Be ready to improvise




Don’t kill


Get the weapon


Richard pressed the play button on his phone and the house speakers erupted.

The position being taken

She froze in surprise at the music.

is not to be mistaken

Richard spun to the left and raised his left arm. The momentum of his body drove his elbow into her face, making an audible crunch. She had been looking slightly left and took the force of his blow straight on the nose. Blood exploded onto the walls and her vision went blurry. The gun fell to the ground as she instinctually reached up to her face, but her arms never got to her wound. Richard was too quick. He restrained her arms and pushed her to the ground. He straddled her body, pinning her arms against her torso.

As calmly as he could muster he asked, “Where is my daughter?”


“Where is my daughter?”

She started giggling. “You mean ‘our daughter’?” The laughing grew stronger. “She’s fine. She’s in the back seat of the car waiting for us to drop her off at grandmas before our honeymoon.” Her body started to convulse in laughter and she doubled over as Richard jumped off her and sprinted towards the front door. In the back of his mind, he knew that what she said didn’t make sense, but his body was in control.

He lunged out the front door and saw Lucy’s car in the driveway. Inside a familiar strawberry-blonde ponytail pressed into the backseat window. He ran, joy flooding his mind at the sight of his daughter. He tugged on the back door. It was locked. He started banging on the window. “Honey! Honey! Open the door for me, sweetie. Please, Molly! Open the door!”

His daughter didn’t respond.

Then, slowly, his screaming mind overpowered his instincts and he fully realized that something was wrong. His daughter wasn’t moving. Her head was limp against the door. Her pajamas were stained red.

He heard laughter behind him.

He turned to see Lucy, gun in hand.

“You thought I’d let you leave me for that bitch!?”

She raised the gun and took a perfect stance. He could see her eye lined up with the front sight post, exactly as he taught her.

“She always was a good student,” he thought.

A flash of light.


Linneria 287-III (Part 6)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes.  (Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5)

*Tara, wake up. There is a problem*

SAMs voice echoed into Tara’s tired mind. She looked at the clock on her console and realized that she had only been asleep for 1.5 days. I’m awake, what’s wrong?

*I’ve detected military troops and aircraft moving into this region. Local news broadcasts are saying that it is a multi-national joint exercise*

Hmm, okay. Did our visitors contact anyone?

*Negative. I detected no transmissions out of their home related to us*

Maybe it is a coincidence. Maybe it really is just a joint military exercise.

*Unlikely. The primary military force is coming from the superpower on the other side of the planet. I’ve searched their databases and there was no mention of a military exercise until yesterday.*

Shit. Well, either this nation-state is being invaded or they are coming for us. 

*It is likely the latter.*

Okay, how long do we have?

*Unknown, but I will be able to provide a 2-hour warning. Would you like me to prepare our weapons?*

The worst case scenario had arrived. Tara could go down fighting, and probably kill hundreds with her superior technology before she ran out of energy or the creatures resorted to atomic weapons, or she could follow Directive 1.

No. There is no fighting our way out of this one. The loss of life would be catastrophic and it would mostly be innocent people. No. I won’t do that. Can we get a message out to the SLC?

*Not for another 14 hours, unless we take control of their satellite.*

Okay, we are going to do that. Take control of the satellite and send all the information we have. If the creatures become hostile or if I must initiate Directive 1 then I want you to send a warning back home. Let our people know that Linneria 287 has hostile creatures and only observation from outside the solar system is advised. Oh, and do your best to cover your tracks. It would be nice if the creatures had no evidence that we were ever here.


The next two hours passed slowly for Tara. She went for a walk outside the ship and thought about home. She always knew that this type of thing could happen but it seemed so unlikely. Death, murder, machines of war, violence… those things didn’t happen anymore. They were simply historical stories, pushed to the dustbin of history such as slavery, racism, monarchism, democracy, capital punishment, and every other violent attempt by one group of people to control another group. But here she was, likely going to die on a planet that looked like home but was so very different, and there was nothing else to be done.

*Tara, I’ve intercepted a coded military transmission. The soldiers will be here in two hours. They have orders to collect any technology or lifeforms, use of deadly force is authorized.*

Okay. I’m going to lay under these large trees for a while. Let me know when they are a few minutes away.

She lay down and smelled the air and found herself awestruck at the beauty around her. The plants and animal sounds were strange and unfamiliar, but there was something about them that comforted her. Life would go on, even if hers would not. She drifted off to sleep with a smile on her face, knowing that she was going to die doing what her species was meant to do: explore.

*They are approaching, would you like to see them?*

She nodded and instantly a projection came out of the craft and cast itself upon the ground. There before her was a live feed from one of the drones that SAM had sent out to scan the area. Three large, black machines flew through the air towards her. She had never seen war machines outside of a museum, they terrified her. She didn’t recognize the craft and she didn’t know what the white “US” lettering meant, but the phallus shaped objects under the wings could only be weapons.

Okay. I guess it is time. SAM, initiate Directive 1. Total time 60 seconds.

Nearly instantly the nanobots in her body released chemicals into her bloodstream. She felt love, euphoria, and peace, as she sat on the snow. The colors of the strange world around her got brighter and she began to giggle for a few final seconds before her life ended, the last voice she heard was SAM singing her a lullaby.

Her nanobots and their cousins that inhabited her ship began breaking down her body and the ship. They made quick work and soon everything was converted into their base elements, and then even the base elements were reduced to electrons, protons, and neutrons. The only evidence that she had ever existed on Linneria 287-III was a small patch of land that was missing some snow, but even that would be smoothed over with the next storm.

Week 1 of “Forward Tilt” – Update

Last week I started working my way through the phenomenal weekly guide, Forward Tilt: An Almanac for Personal Growth by Isaac Morehouse and Hannah Frankman (it is only $0.99 on Kindle and the paperback will be launching soon). I wasn’t perfect but I think I did okay. The primary challenge this week was twofold: create value and signal to others that you created value.

So, I tried to write every day, as well as work on my professional brand. I only missed one day of writing (which is pretty good for me). As for my brand, I have finished my website, created a Facebook page, went through the WordPress guide for SEO, and I created two ad campaigns, one with Amazon for my book and one with Google for my website.

Overall, it was a really good experience and I learned a lot this week. I’m going to keep writing daily to finish my current short story and then begin the editing process. I am also going to make sure I continue the steps towards getting my brand out there, but that probably won’t be a daily task. Maybe along the way I will find that my writing isn’t creating value, but at least I will have market-tested my creations and received feedback.

Tomorrow starts Week 2, “Slow Down”.

Linneria 287-III (Part 5)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes.  (Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4)

Tara stood in awe in the shadow of the two creatures. Her mind had trouble processing everything that was happening. As far as she knew, she was the first person of her species to interact with an alien life form, but she was terrified. These creatures were large and loud and could kill her easily if she angered them. SAM insisted that they were rational, but they looked more like beasts than an intelligent life form, and they seemed as scared as she was.

When she emerged from the ship the two creatures recoiled in fear, but upon seeing her small size they began to look more sure of themselves. Their weapons were hanging loosely at their sides when she spoke to them.

“Peace. I am peaceful. I mean no harm,” the harsh language came out slowly and stuck in her throat as she tried to make out the words. Despite the slow pace of her words the creatures seemed to understand.

“What are you?” the large one asked.

“My name is Tara, and I am a scientist from another world. My ship has crashed and I am stranded here. Please, I mean no harm but you cannot tell anyone you found me,” she said. She hoped she sounded sincere but her knowledge of the language wasn’t strong enough to master the nuance necessary with verbal communication.

The two creatures spoke softly to each other while keeping an eye on her. She couldn’t hear them with her ears but SAM filled her in on the discussion.

*They are trying to decide what to do. Scans indicate that they are afraid, but they are calming down. The smaller creature wants to leave but the large creature is reluctant to turn his back on you.*

The seconds passed slowly and Tara took the opportunity to observe this new world. It was beautiful, the white snow reminded her of her home, but the trees high above her were strange and made her feel a little claustrophobic. The sun was warm on her skin and she longed to strip off her outfit to run through this new land.

“Are you injured? Do you need clothing or food?” the smaller one said, turning to Tara. The voice was softer than before and seemed to be sincere.

“No, thank you. I have all I need,” Tara said.

“Okay… we will leave you in peace,” the large one said.

Tara sighed audibly and started to return to her ship. SAM, make sure a drone follows them and stays near their home. I want their communications monitored. If there is any chance that they report us we will need an advanced warning.

*Agreed… Tara, it is very likely that they will report you. We should prepare for that contingency. You know that Directive 1 is the only option*

I know… Directive 1 was the only option if the nation-states were informed of her presence, but she tried not to think about that.

“Wait, can I ask you a question?” the small one said, approaching Tara slowly with their arms open wide.

“Sure,” Tara said.

“Have your people visited our planet before? We have ancient legends about creatures visiting our land and giving us knowledge and gifts… most people they are just myths, but I think they might be more,” the smaller one said with a hint of hope in their voice.

“No, I’m sorry, my people haven’t been here before. In fact, I’m one of the first of my species to travel beyond our solar system. It is possible that some other advanced lifeform has been here before, my people have similar myths, but it wasn’t us.”

The frown crossed the smaller one’s face. “Oh, okay, thank you. We will go, but if you need anything please feel free to visit our home. It is just over the ridge a few miles from here. Can you find it if you need us?”

“Yes, I can find you. Thank you for keeping this secret. I will be in contact before I leave,” Tara said.

*You can’t contact them again.*

I know, but it feels strange to just say good-bye. This is a momentous occasion for both of our species.

The two creatures smiled and went back the way they came. The large one occasionally looked back at Tara with a look of confusion and distrust.

*Drone launched and following the creatures.*

Good. Broadcast a report of this interaction home. I’m going to try to get some rest.

*Understood. I have found a satellite in orbit that I can use to transmit a signal to the SLC once a day without notice. In an emergency, I can take control of the satellite, which will give us a transmission window of approximately 9 hours but we will likely be noticed.*

Okay. Broadcast when you can do so without being noticed. This isn’t an emergency.

Back at their cabin, the large creature hunched over a computer. The screen showed images and articles about alien lifeforms and spacecraft. The sources were hardly credible but no credible sources existed for this type of research. The creature emitted a deep groan of frustration, none of the information available matched the alien lifeform that they had encountered. Tara’s skin color, the shape of her ship, and her small stature didn’t match up with any previous reports of alien interactions.

Eventually, the smaller creature convinced the larger one to go to bed and the two lay awake, restlessly thinking about the way their day turned out.

Half a world away a report is printed up and given to a military leader. The report showed an abnormal computer search conducted in a rural area of an allied nation-state. With a few commands, troops were mobilized, satellites were redirected to an isolated patch of snow near the northern pole, and propaganda was put together to justify any death or damage that would soon come. The military leader smiled and laughed, a loud and uncomfortable sound filled the room.

Linneria 287-III (Part 4)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes.  (Part 1Part 2, and Part 3)

The pair of creatures moved quickly towards Tara’s spacecraft in relative silence. They occasionally exchanged grunts as they moved across the familiar terrain, their long legs moving quickly as their large, pale eyes scanned the land ahead. They both had bright yellow hair on their heads that shone almost as brightly as Linneria itself did low on the horizon.

They slowed as they approached the spot where they had seen Tara’s spacecraft set down. They scanned the treeline and surrounding area, unable to locate the craft now that it was camouflaged. They started grunting again, this time the larger one seemed to dominate the conversation and its arms moved quickly in cadence with its voice.

Tara sat in her ship watching the view screen in silence, she was holding her breath even though she knew that her ship was soundproof.

SAM, can you understand what they are saying?

*Affirmative. Sensors are recording their conversation. They are unable to locate the ship and are trying to decide what to do next. Would you like me to put their conversation on the internal speakers?*

Negative. Just let me know if they see us or make a decision… They are a lot hairier than the images you showed me before.

*They appear to be wearing the flesh and fur of some of the semi-sentient beings that live in this area. Scans indicated that the outside temperature is too cold for them to survive long without artificial protection.*

The first statement made Tara almost vomit in her mouth. Wearing the flesh of sentient beings? It was hard not to be disgusted at such barbarism, but Tara was old enough to remember when her species ate the animals of her home planet. It had been nearly 100 years since gaining pleasure off the suffering of sentient beings became socially unacceptable and she sometimes wondered why it took so long for her own species to find harmony with the natural world.

What are those things they are holding?

*Primitive firearms. They pose no threat to the ship, our gravity field will hold, and your body armor will protect you as well. Though, there will be momentary discomfort if you are hit with it*

Then SAM added, almost as an afterthought *It is unlikely that you would survive a shot to your head*

“Great…” she said out loud. There was some comfort in knowing that her suit would protect her from any real damage and that the nanobots would shut off any pain receptors that are activated from a wound, but death could still come if the clearly violent species outside her door were to attack her in the open.

*It appears they have spotted the ship and are moving closer*

Shit. Okay. Play the audio through the speakers, let’s see what we have here.

Immediately, Tara could hear the creatures guttural voices loud and clear. “Hello! Is anyone in there!” the larger creature grunted loudly.

“Do you need any help?!” the smaller creature said, a little more softly than the other one had.

“I think we should call someone, someone from the military or something. It looks like a broken satellite,” the larger one said to the smaller one.

Fuck. That’s the last thing we need. SAM, run an analysis of our options and advise. 

*The likelihood of us remaining undiscovered if the authorities are notified is less than 0.1%. Furthermore, it is virtually guaranteed that one of the more violent nation-states would take control of you and this technology if we are discovered. The best option is to eliminate the two creatures.*

What?!?! I’m not going to kill them just because they happened to be in the wrong place. No, what is the second best option?

Tara knew that this was one of the reasons people were still sent on space missions. It is easy to send robots, but robots act too rationally at times and are unable to thrive in areas where nuance and diplomacy are needed. When dealing with irrational biological beings you needed other irrational biological beings to find the best outcome.

*Given my analysis of the culture of this region and initial brain scans of the two creatures, there is a 54% chance that you may be able to convince them to keep this quiet if you talk to them and explain the situation.*

Well, it looks like we are about to make first contact with a new sentient species. So much for  Directive 4. Alright, slowly open the front hatch.

Tara’s viewscreen disappeared and the hatch in front of her opened with a slight hiss. The star’s light started to fill the cabin and, just for a moment, the warm air reminded her of home. She took a deep breath as her lungs, with the help of the nanobots, adjusted to the thick air.

Once the hatch was open she stood up, smoothed out her uniform, and started towards the light.

Wish me luck, SAM.

Linneria 287-III (Part 3)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes.  (Part 1 and Part 2)

*Target landing location identified. Northwestern edge of the largest continent. The weather is comfortable, it is primarily populated by non-reasoning animals, and there is plenty of plant life available to convert into food. The nation-states for the region are generally peaceful and egalitarian*

Wonderful. Thanks, SAM. Upload the top five languages for the planet and all local languages within the target area.

“Hopefully, I won’t need to speak to anyone…” she said out loud. In the relative silence of the spacecraft, her voice sounded strange, almost hollow. She stretched her mouth and tongue and realized that the muscles of her face were stiff and sore from disuse. She hadn’t talked in years.

*Beginning data transfer*

Tara’s body went slightly rigid as the languages flooded her brain. She felt light-headed and euphoric as new neurons were built and tested in her brain. After a few moments it was over and she understood how to converse in a dozen or so new languages. She practiced for a few minutes with each languange and tried to get her muscles accustomed to the movements. Her brain knew how to converse, but each movement felt foreign to her body. It would take some time before she could fluently speak, even with the nanobots doing all they could, but at least she would be able to understand what she saw or heard.

Ugh, I still hate that feeling. 

*I know, but we didn’t have any other option, would you like to see a photo of the intelligent life on this planet?*

She barely thought Sure when two images appeared on the screen in front of her. The images shimmered and slowly moved in a circle, showing Tara every angle. They also slowly changed color to display the variety of skin, hair, and eye tones for the species.

They’re kind of ugly, aren’t they?

*According to our understanding of aesthetics, yes they are. They long arms and legs, and oversized eyes make them appear unbalanced.*

That’s what it is, the eyes. They are so large and come in so many different colors. I wonder why they evolved that way?

*Would you like me to search their databases for their hypothesis on eye development?*

No, I’m just thinking out loud. I guess we better get on with it. SAM, land the craft.

Almost imperceptibly, Tara’s spacecraft began drifting towards the planet below. Tara’s view was dominated by the large, blue and green planet and she couldn’t stop thinking of how much it resembled her home. Sure, the blue was a little brighter and the planet had a deadly ring of deserts around the equator, but if she squinted she could almost pretend she was making an emergency landing home instead of crashing into a potentially deadly situation.

The ship rocked and vibrated as it entered the atmosphere. The hull and gravity shield was able to protect her from nearly anything, but the ride was still rough.

Then, it was over and laid out before her was the planet’s curving horizon. The snow capped mountains provided plenty of places for her to lay down her ship and stay hidden for a couple of years until a rescue ship arrived. It would be a boring few years but between SAM and the resources on the ship, she knew she could sleep most of the time.

The ship landed gently on the side of a non-descript mountain right along the treeline. SAM launched a handful of drones which began scanning the area for danger and camouflaging the ship.

Alright SAM, begin monitoring local media to see if anyone saw us come down. If we’re lucky, nobody recorded anything and we can just wait things out.

On a neighboring mountain, two creatures hunched behind a tree and stared across to Tara’s landing spot. They grunted to each other and waved their lanky arms dramatically. Their voices got louder and louder until, finally, the larger one sighed in defeat. They grabbed their weapons and headed towards the fallen craft.

Linneria 287-III (Part 2)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes.  (Part 1 is available here)

SAM woke Tara gently with the sounds of the beach. She was dreaming of home and the crashing waves fit perfectly with what she was experiencing. SAM, of course, knew she was dreaming of home and provided stimulation that would help her transition into the waking world as seamlessly as possible.

Report SAM, how is everything looking?

*9.75 hours have passed. Data upload to the SLC is complete and erased from internal hard drives. I have a summary report about the Linneria 287-III and the dominant species whenever you are ready.*

Sounds good. Fill me in on the planet.

*Linneria 287-III is approximately 80% the size of our home world and is made up mostly of water. The poles are a moderate temperature but most of the planet is uncomfortably hot, though the dominant species appears to live nearly everywhere except the poles. I would assume their tolerance to temperature is very different than yours. Absent a violent death, they live approximately 70% of what your lifespan would be without Longevity Technology*

Longevity Technology, or LT for short. Tara was 145 years old, which means she remembered when people died from disease and old age. In fact, as an astronaut, she was one of the first people on her planet to get the nanobots implanted in her that kept her alive. Even as SAM communicated with her ship and processed all the information, the nanobots that made up SAM were constantly scanning her body for cancerous cells, harmful bacteria and viruses, and anything else that could age or kill her. When anything dangerous was detected the nanobots killed it and recycled the biological material for other uses. If she didn’t face a violent death she would live forever.

Immortality was likely for everyone back home. With the exception of a few religious zealots, everyone had embraced LT. It was implanted in everyone at birth and eliminated disease nearly overnight. It also had the added benefit of encouraging peace, when immortality became a possibility it became more difficult to get people to die or kill for a cause. He people quickly became good at finding peaceful solutions to complex problems when death was no longer inevitable.

SAM, how technologically advanced is the species and what do they call themselves?

*There are over one hundred separate languages spoken on the planet with no universal designation for the species. They have discovered nuclear fussion and are accelerating quickly towards LT, AI, and unlimited energy, but the progress is not guaranteed. There are several major nation-states who seem willing to annihilate the species in order to assert dominence. The majority of the people appear peaceful, but there is a fascination with violence and many view elected officials and the nation-state as religious figures*

Kara sighed audibly. That all sounded too familiar. Her own species was not much different 100 years ago. She was always a little surprised that they had pushed passed their primal tribalism and found a way to unite in peace. But they had, and hopefully the residents of Linneria 287-III would be able to as well.

*You are receiving a message from the United Space Science Authority, it states: Analysis of situation complete. Rescue underway, ETA 3.98 years. Initiate Directive 4*

Directive 4 – Land on the planet and observe. Stay hidden until help arrives.

SAM, locate an ideal place to land, the primary concerns are stealth, an ability to transmit to the SLC, and access to food and water.  Activate thrusters and bring us into orbit around Linneria 287-III, and try to keep us on the starside to minimize any chance that we will be noticed. 

Linneria 287-III (Part 1)

Now that my first book has been completed I’ve decided to try and write some fiction. This is my first attempt at it. I’m not sure how much I will write every day, but I plan on at writing something for this story every day this week. We shall see how it goes. 


Tara woke to the sound of a loud siren and flashing red lights. Even with her post-hypersleep grogginess she knew something was wrong but she couldn’t concentrate with all the alarms blaring.

Silence alarms, she thought, and the alarms went silent.

*Good morning, Tara. Would you like a situation update?* A deep, familiar voice echoed through her mind. SAM was her internal computer system and it was linked directly to her spacecraft.

She didn’t actually “hear” SAM, but the nanobots that flowed through her blood stream stimulated the part of her brain that translated sound when it communicated with her. There was no sound but she felt like she heard something. She had the option of telling the computer to just upload everything into her mind, giving her instant knowledge, but that type of communication always creeped Tara out a little. Instant knowledge felt too much like relying on a hunch, instead she preferred the minor delay of having explicit communication with her computer.

Good morning. Yes, a situation update would be lovely.

*We have exited hyperspace on target but the ship has sustained some damage. Our drive is broken beyond repair and thrusters have limited power, though our solar panels are still functional and the nearest star is starting to recharge everything. Life support is functional.*

How far are we from Linneria 287-III? Tara asked. Linneria III was her destination, a small planet that circled the star Linneria 287. The newly developed United Space Science Authority had discovered signs of advanced life from Linneria 287-III several years earlier and dispatched Tara to observe, though it only felt like a couple of weeks had passed since she received the orders to venture out into this new solar system.

*Approximately two days if we continue to drift on course, or we can enter their gravitational pull in approximately 12 hours if we use thrusters.*

Is there any chance of returning home?

*Negative. I have already relayed a distress signal to the SLC satellite circling the solar system, but best case scenario is it will be 3.75 years before someone will arrive.*

Huh. Well that’s unfortunate. Tara couldn’t help but shrug. She knew the risks when she took this mission, but the chance to be the first person to observe a new species was such an adventure and she couldn’t turn it down. How are our cloaking systems doing?

*Physical cloak is not operational, but we are still invisible to all forms of electronic scanning.*

Hmm, hopefully nobody on the ground is pointing their telescopes directly at us.

*It is unlikely that the primitive species on the ground has the capabilities to see a craft this size. We should be safe as long as we stay in high orbit.*

Okay, life support is good but how about food and water?

*The solar-to-water convertor is functional and there are enough rations for 1.5 years.*

Shit. Okay, that’ll be a problem for later. Continue broadcasting all the information you have to the SLC and begin uploading all the information you can get from the planet. Begin uploading any digital databases available from their satellite networks. We might as well do our jobs and find out all we can about the civilization on this planet.

*Confirmed. It will take approximately 9 hours to upload all the information on the planet.*

Sounds good. I’m going to get a little sleep, wake me when all the data is downloaded or if something else happens. Good night SAM.