The Gate – A Short Story

It came for her in the shower.

The quickening in her womb could not keep pace with the quickening of her heart as, her back against the wall, she felt him enter her.

Semen and water. Running down, down, and out. Down her thighs, down the drain, and out of her life.

Life…

This was how it started, she thought, saying nothing. Seeing nothing. One hand on her ever-expanding middle. The other against the back of his neck. Old habits die hard.

Determined to give as good as she got, she opened her eyes.

Lips puckered for kissing, her mouth expanded into a silent scream as, through the steam, she saw it.

He did not.

Screaming for a very different reason, he never felt the alien’s mouth enter the back of his skull and exit through his own.

“I love your big brain!” she said yesterday.

Today, she felt that big brain, and bits of little bone, hit her in the face, along with pieces of broken glass, as her headless husband dropped.

In shock, she ceased feeling the water against her skin. But she was all too aware of her water against her skin. Feeling the baby kick, she knew that more than a shower door had broken…

Wet and black, the alien’s tail slid up her leg, higher and higher, until it took the place of her husband’s penis.

Inexplicably thinking of her last meal, she imagined the alien lifting. Lifting her baby out of her womb like he was soup in a ladle.

But if the alien’s tail is a ladle, and my son is soup, I’m the tureen.

The ship’s tureen was made of metal.

Metal was strong.

And so was she.

Snatching a piece of broken glass off the floor, ignoring the pain as it dug into her palm, she become one with her husband one more time as, their blood mingling, she kicked off from the wall, aiming for the alien’s face.

Her aim was true.

Biting back a scream as the alien’s acid blood ran down her arm, she ran past it, slipping on the floor before she could get clear.

The baby!

The floor rushing to meet her, she threw out her hands, breaking her fall at the last second. Then she was out.

Naked and alone, the blood-red emergency lights were her guardian angels. Heed them, and she would find salvation.

The smack of her wet feet on metal echoed into the silence as she ran and ran and ran.

She ran until, doubling over to suck in breath, she swore that the only thing left inside her was, judging by a second kick, fighting to get out.

But: She now stood before the pearly gates.

Judgement Day.

Her hand leaving a red smear as she opened one and looked longingly at the other, she had enough time to wonder How long? before she did not have to wonder anymore.

Hot on her heels, it had come.

Inexorable. Not invincible.

As she proved as, careening past her in its blind, furious hunger, she pressed a button before its eyeless face saw the error of its ways, sealing it behind one pearly gate and in front of a second.

The second pearly gate opening, naked and alone is how the alien faced the cold vacuum of space as it was sucked out the airlock.

Her cry of joy froze in her throat, turning into a scream of pain as, sitting on the floor, she opened a third gate.

This gate had no pearls.

She was, after all, a modest woman.

Thank you for reading.

This short story was inspired by fellow blogger Soul Healing. Thank you for discussing Defiance with me. 🙂

Thank you, George R.R. Martin. The scene of the woman breaking her fall in order to protect her baby was inspired by a scene in A Game of Thrones where (SPOILER) Daenarys is attacked by Khal Drogo’s bloodriders while trying to save his life.

This short story is a different take on the shower scene in Alien: Covenant (2017).

Thank you, Ridley Scott, for the “Alien” series.

The College Dropout Survival Guide

Note: Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix. Her post Self-Care Isn’t Selfish is what inspired me to write this post.

It’s now been 3 years since I made the choice to come home after my second semester of university.

Bad grades, combined with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, made me realize I need time to get my head on straight.

Coming home was a choice that almost killed me.

So, in this post, I want to share with you what I have done in order to keep myself motivated to get out of bed in the morning:

Get a job. I initially balked at the prospect of getting a job. But I knew I had to do it — I knew that I didn’t want to spend my life on the couch, living off the charity of others. So, despite the grumbling of that lazy, entitled, refuse-to-take-responsibility part of myself, when a job opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. And I am so glad I did. Sure, my work could use improvement. More than once, my boss has expressed disappointment at my performance. But, I keep at it. And I figure that as long as the paychecks keep coming, than I must be doing something right.

I’m not at Kiki levels of productivity…

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

…but I’m getting there.

Plus, if nothing else: My job allowed me to have enough money to get an Xbox One after my Xbox 360 got the Red Ring of Death.

Have a spiritual life. If you’re spiritual/religious than, if you don’t already, get in the habit of praying at least twice a day — a prayer before you go to sleep and a prayer right after you wake up.

Even if it’s only 5 seconds long and consists of two words — “Hi, (insert name of higher power here).” — praying will do you good.

As the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic. I was raised in the Catholic faith and, so far, my faith hasn’t let me down.

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Star Wars (1977)

Realize that you aren’t alone. Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re in a similar position: You’re not in college and are wondering What the deuce do I do now?

Well, one of the ways to not despair is to know that you aren’t struggling alone. There are people who have gone through, or are going through, what you are, and either they need you to help them, you need their help, or both.

After all: In order to slay the Kaiju that is Despair, you can’t do it alone…

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Pacific Rim (2013)

(I picked Crimson Typhoon because, even though it does get destroyed, I think it’s the coolest Jaeger.)

Surround yourself with beautiful things. I don’t know about you, but: The 24-hour news cycle of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, presidential incompetence, rapes, and murders depresses me. It makes me ask the one question I never want to find myself asking: Should I keep on living?

So, what do I do? I focus on the good in life instead.

For example:

Instead of scratching my head over Donald Trump’s latest tweet…

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…I listen to my favorite song instead:

It’s much more relaxing.

Do what you love. I’m currently teaching myself how to write screenplays.

I’m doing this because I discovered that, in my free time, I would frequently read film reviews. There was just something about the reviews by Steven Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet that hooked me. That kindled within me a passion for film. A passion to not just critique art, but create it. Because anyone can criticize. But not everyone can create.

Lately that passion to create has, unfortunately, been fueled by anger at the incompetence of fellow Christian film enthusiasts…

…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story

…but still: I’m glad to be doing something I love. Even if it can be hard.

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And:

Love yourself.

You’re not perfect.

You’ve failed before, and you’re going to fail again.

But is that going to be the end of you?

No.

Why?

Because: You love yourself, flaws and all.

You know that what you have to offer the universe is unique.

And you know that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before you let life get away with sucker-punching you.

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How I Decided To Not Commit Suicide

Note: Language.

Earlier today, I was feeling low.

I realized I didn’t meet the standards to get into the college I’d wanted to go to and, to add insult to injury, I learned that my financial situation wouldn’t allow me to go to that college in the first place, leaving me once again stranded in Limbo for the time being.

Not the cool, do-anything-you-want Limbo from Inception (2010)…

…the nightmarish “SB-129” Limbo:

With my future looking bleak, my mind went to dark places. Thoughts of suicide popped into my head, and I just let them be — I didn’t make an effort to drive them away.

After letting such morbid thoughts have their time in the sun, I feel that I was able to think more clearly — I feel that there was a method to my madness. After my mind went through every dark scenario it could think of, the light was able to come in.

I realized that I didn’t want to die. I realized that what I really wanted was just for the pain to end. The pain of knowing that my future is looking nothing like I wanted it to look 3 years ago: before I attended a 4-year college for 1 year and spent the next 2 on the couch.

A number of factors snapped me out of my suicidal funk:

I wouldn’t go through with it. There’s a difference between what a person can do and what a person will do.

It would be selfish. I imagined how my family would react, and I realized that making the choice to take my own life is a selfish one. Why? Because I would be putting people I love through terrible pain for the sake of trying to escape my own pain.

I realized I didn’t actually want to die. To reiterate: After letting dark scenarios run through my mind, I realized that I didn’t want to die — I just wanted my pain to end.

My beliefs. Suicide is considered a sin by the Catholic Church. I didn’t want to risk ending up in Hell.*

Beauty. If anime has taught me one thing, it’s to appreciate the beauty of this world that God has made.

When we create, we are, in our own little ways, doing what God does. J.R.R.Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, called this “sub-creation”: Creating secondary worlds inside of God’s primary world.

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And: It might be embarrassing and weird, but it’s true:

I thought of that shot of Yolko’s butt in the Sword Art Online episode “Murder in the Safe Zone,” and that was another reminder of beauty, too.

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I wasn’t glad I thought of that shot because of anything having to do with sex. (Lust is a sin that I try and avoid like the plague.) I was glad I thought of that shot because, like the world that God has created…

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…I see it as another example of beauty that I realized I didn’t want to see the end of.

What I’m trying to say is: There is so much beauty in the world, and I didn’t want to see the end of it by taking my life.

Suicide is not how I’m dying. Everyone dies eventually. And earlier today I decided that since I must die, I’m going to die in such a way that will be worthy of the good life I (hope to) have lived. I don’t know how or when I’m going to die, but I hope it’s in a way that makes God go “And that’s why I made Tim! Fuck yes!”

In conclusion:

I’m doing better now.

Praying, giving myself time to think more about my situation, spending time with my parents and kids from my local Catholic school’s youth group, video games, and music, did wonders for me.

Suicide is a complex and hard subject to talk about.

If anything I said in this post offended or upset you for any reason, let me know, and I apologize, because it wasn’t my intent to do that.

*On a related note: The only sin that God won’t forgive is the sin you don’t ask forgiveness for.
If someone you know has committed suicide, pray for the salvation of that person’s soul, and your prayers will not be in vain.

Need Evidence That Good Will Triumph Over Evil? Look At A Woman’s Butt

Evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Fascination: Draw irresistibly the attention and interest of (someone).

God saw all he had made, and it was very good.
~Genesis 1:31

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
~Genesis 2:22 — 23

The Shadow…can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.
~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Note: This post is not an apologia for gawking, fantasizing, and/or jerking off. Those things are not groovy.

On a side note: This is groovy:

As a Catholic, I believe that the Devil exists.

But the Devil isn’t a being on par with God.

God and the Devil aren’t two titans locked in a desperate battle to the death.

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Godzilla (2014)

The Devil was one of God’s angels. Before he decided that he wanted to do what he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted, how he wanted, to whoever, or whatever, he wanted.

The best way I can think of to describe the Catholic Church’s view of the Devil, is this scene from SpongeBob:

We human beings (SpongeBob) are panicking and despairing because the Devil (Plankton) is running rampant. But God (Mr. Krabs) is not daunted. God walks right up to the Devil and, merely by reaching out his hand, is able to put an end to his scheme.

God could swat the Devil like a fly, but He doesn’t.

Why?

To quote J.R.R. Tolkien again:

Iluvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (the Devil’s) failed rebellion in The Silmarillion:

…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

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The reason I say all of this is:

This shot:

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Sword Art Online

An awkward shot of Yolko’s butt.

Why is the shot awkward? Because: What is the camera doing there?

Anime is a visual storytelling medium. What about the story is being conveyed to us, the viewer, by having the camera be where it is?

I believe the easiest answer to these questions, unfortunately, is:

Sword Art Online is an anime aimed at teenage boys. Is it surprising that there would be a shot of a woman’s butt?”

The reason I say “unfortunately” is:

I believe shots like the one above can cause a person to lust. And lust can make a person do, to put it lightly, bad things.

With lust, the Devil is twisting a person’s fascination with the opposite sex. Twisting Adam’s words of love for Eve:

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.*

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Photo by Tereshkovets

But: Despite the temptation to lust — the temptation to see people as a means of attaining pleasure, not as human beings — our fascination with the opposite sex is still, to quote Genesis 1:31, “very good.” It’s just not as good as it could be, because of this imperfect world we live in. (Genesis 3:7)

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The Devil will use what God has created to try and get us to lust and, thus, be separated from Him because of that sin.

But: Despite the Devil’s efforts to tempt us, what God has created is still inherently good.

What you feel when you look at a shot like this…

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…is evidence that, despite the imperfect nature of the world, God’s creation still causes perfectly natural fascination.

And fascination with the beauty of the female body can lead a person closer to the creator of that beauty.

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That is how a woman’s butt is evidence of the eventual triumph of Good over Evil.

…a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.
~Sharon Hodde Miller

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*I’m not saying that lust is something only men struggle with. I know women struggle with lust, too. I just used Adam’s words about Eve as an example of our fascination with the opposite sex: something the Devil tries to twist.

10-Word Story: Defiance

Tip disappearing between her legs, she moans a word: “Deeper…”

Alien

This piece of writing was inspired by the shower scene in Alien: Covenant (2017):

Watching this scene, I thought: What if the woman didn’t just scream and die? What if she fought back and lived? How does she “fight back”? By taking away the alien’s capacity to terrorize her sexually.

I was worried about this piece. For a while, I put off writing it. The reason why is: I didn’t want to come across like I was glorifying rape or other horrible acts against women.

But the idea of a woman’s horror becoming her pleasure was enough to make me think What the heck. I’ll write down what I’m thinking and see what others think about it.

13 Reasons Why: How To Talk About Suicide?

Recently, a study came out showing that 13 Reasons Why was potentially responsible for an increase in suicidal thoughts:

’13 Reasons Why’ may have lead to spike in suicidal thoughts

13 Reasons Why

Which caused me to think about Kate’s suicide in Life Is Strange.

Even though the scene goes against the World Health Organization’s guidelines for portraying suicide — i.e., don’t show the suicide attempt (don’t show Kate going through with it) — the reason I myself am OK with that, is this:

People have the chance to prevent Kate’s death.

There’s nothing stopping a person from replaying the scene with Kate on the roof until they get the outcome they want.

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Which is why I believe that, when it comes to portraying heavy issues like suicide, episodic games like Life Is Strange are better at it than television series like 13 Reasons Why because, ultimately, the choices a character makes, and how characters respond to those choices, are up to the viewer/player, not up to a writer who could have a different interpretation than you of the story you’re experiencing:

From the very beginning, I agreed that we should depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible. I even argued for it—relating the story of my own suicide attempt to the other writers.
Nic Sheff

To an extent not possible with a Netflix series, an episodic video game’s story is only as harmful as the person experiencing that story allows it to be.

For example: Want to send the message that, when it comes to suicide, it is not others, but the suicidal person themselves, who is responsible for their actions?* Don’t wait for anyone else to say so; send that message yourself by pressing Square:

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*Where the show romanticizes the aftermath of suicide, it also blames everyone in Hannah’s life.
How ’13 Reasons Why’ gets suicide wrong