Friday, June 24, 2011

MBM3: The Issues I Had With Spider-man 2

This is ME BEING ME, where I am going to talk about what's going on in my mind and what I've been thinking about is:The Issues I had with Spider-man 2

Spiderman 3 is universally understood to be the downfall of the Spiderman franschise and Turn Off The Dark is just plain ridiculous when it isn't deadly. But I feel that Spiderman 2 was the real downfall of the franscise. I think so, solely, because of the ending. Yes, there are going to be spoilers. But if you've waited this long to watch the movie, I doubt you were that interested to begin with.

Through out the whole movie, there is this theme of doing what's right at the expense of what you want. Spiderman begins to lose his powers and begins to think that he could lead a normal life, a life with Mary Jane. He soon realizes that his wants are over ruled by the City of New York's Needs. The ending they were going for was going to be unavoidably dark. The ending that was foreshadow was basically one with Spiderman sitting alone in his shitty apartment when the police sirens blare. And then he runs off to save the day. (Spoiler) In a way, the Dark Knight was Spiderman 2 done right. Batman flees the police, allowing them to believe he and not Harvey Dent went on a murderous ramage. Why? His city needed a White Knight. Mary Jane showing up at the end of the movie violated the rest of the movie and it was kind of weird that there were no consequence to that action in Spiderman 3.

Off topic like hell, but why does Spiderman keep taking off his mask. Every five seconds it seems. Does he understand the concept of a secret identity? Battle damaged, I can respect that, but you'll take it off at the drop of a hat. If it's hot under there, say so. Who told you to make your mask out of wool? Silk breaths better.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MBM2: Agents And The Marketplace

This is ME BEING ME, where I am going to talk about what's going on in my mind and what I've been thinking about is:Agents and The Marketplace.

I'm an avid listener of podcasts, esspecially writing podcast like Adventures In Sci-Fi Piblishing, I Should Be Writing, Writing Excuses, and Odyssey WritingWorkshops Podcast. They're normally the first place I heard news from the industry I'm hoping to work in. It was in this vain, I became horribly depressed. I was listening to Adventures In Sci-Fi Publishing (AISFP 124 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch)In this interview, she says outright, Wait at least two years to get an agent because the industry is kind of up in the air right now. Professionals are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, except their wearing nicer suits. The rise of E-publishing has turned the market on its ear. When an author can write a book, edit it, market it, get book covers and, simply put, successfully cut off publishers, what roll do publishers have? Agents and Publishers are trying to figure it out.
Also, Rusch warned about agents misbehaving in this unclear publishing climate. There are agents getting writers to agree to ridiculous contacts like having writers sign over enture books or everything in their backlist to the agent. New writers in this climate are like chum in the water for a bunch of scared, blind sharks. Yet another reason why it's a horrible idea to writing at all. But if you take the two years to let the industry settle down and figure itself out, like a female college student, when you're probably born to write. Take that time to sharpen your fiction and blow your writers out of the water. That's what I'm going to have to do, because I just can t stop.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

MBM1: The Craft of Writing and How Writers Approach It

This is ME BEING ME, where I am going to talk about what's going on in my mind and what I've been thinking about is: The Craft of Writing and How Writers Approach It.

I am a huge fan of Patton Oswalt (Comedian/Actor/Author)and every once and a while, I'll punch Patton Oswalt's name into a search engine to see what's the last interview he's done. (Little bit like stalking, I know. But I probably won't kidnap him and cut his head off.) So, I came across a podcast interview he did on the TOTALLY LAME PODCAST (Episode 52: Patton Oswalt!)On the podcast, he was funny as always and he said something very insightful about why he went into comedy. In his interview, he spoke about how bad he was, starting out and about how he would almost be heckled off stage. His friends asked him, why do you keep going up there? And his answer was that he didn't know. It was a compulsion that he had to submit to. That he would still do it if no one was paying him to get up on stage. I feel the same way about how I write. I am wildly unpublished and it sucks not being published, but I know I'm going to be writng as an old man. I don't know if I'll be published by then. Writing isn't even all that fun. It's really like shitting. Most people only have three possible routes of excretion: Urinating, Pooping and, vomitting (After a long night of binge drinking). Writers have four and the more you write, the more you have to. It's hard to explain, really and this may only be the way I approach writing, but I use writing to clean the filth off my mind and soul (which is why my fiction is so dark.)
And the thing about writing in the industry today is, everyone is writng so the reality is you probably won't get published. It's like having a million wolves hunting like twenty rabbits. Which is depressing, but the ones who make it are the ones who know that and keep going anyway. Quiters never win and Winners never quit. Nevermind the fact that it makes more sense to quit.

Friday, June 17, 2011



My father was forever awake and forever seeking betrayal. This perpetual state was difficult to live with while under his roof and impossible to deal with after he died.
He died in his bedroom, which he had cultivated into a makeshift bathroom. We had all argued about whether or not, we should toss out the 2-liter bottle filled with his clouded, brown urine before the ambulance came to take away the body. They didn’t have their lights on. I remember someone telling me about a stabbing in which the ambulance didn’t have their lights on.
I ended up snatching the bottle as my mother when to open the door for the paramedics. As I returned to my mother’s side, I realized that the house smelt like urine. It didn’t matter that I got rid of the bottle. They had difficulty getting him out of his room. He had somehow managed to get a massive oak desk into his makeshift bathroom/bedroom and arranged it so he could sit at the desk while sitting on his bed. He’d also taken to keeping everything. There were mountains of unopened and wholly forgotten letters. Odd trinkets from his childhood peered down from shelves and windowsills and tucked into the corner, towered over forty books on the occult, stacked in no particular order.
One of the paramedics gave an embarrassed look at us as he stepped on my father’s bed and took my father under the armpits. Once my father was freed from under the desk, the other paramedic took him by the feet and managed to disturb one of the letter piles and apologized again and again. At the same time, I was apologizing and diving down to collect the letters, so they could get by. The paramedic who stepped on the bed told me, I could pick them up afterward. I let them walk over my father’s unopened mail. I cleaned up the mail that had fell and the mail that hadn’t fallen into six hefty bags and dropped them out of the curb. I didn’t bother figuring out which letters were important and which should have been thrown. I figured there would be some amnesty concerning unpaid bills, considering my payer had died. I didn’t like being in the room, not because the burning stink of spilt and dried urine and not because he voided his bowels when he died. As I worked, my father’s trinkets glared down at me. A variety of glassy eyed cartoon faces watched me, accusingly.
Once the letters were out, I uncovered a desktop planner covered in cramped bible passages. The variety of inks and change in handwriting suggested that he’d been writing on it for years. I had never seen it before. I decided not to play with the planner, so I returned to the rest of the family, who’d elected to sit in silence in the family room.
My sister had tears stained on her cheeks, though she wasn’t crying now and my young brother had taken to pacing back and forth. My older brother had my mother in his arms as she made soft sobbing sounds into his shoulder. I took a seat by my sister and tucked my hands between my knees.
We stayed in that fashion for a long time and I started to feel antsy. I stood up and asked to use my sister’s car. She looked up to me with a confused gaze and I asked again. She produced her keys with a shaky hand and I walked out as my older brother asked where I was going.
I clicked on the radio as I pulled out of the driveway. I merged onto the highway and drove aimlessly into the night. The smell of urine crept into my nostrils as my sister’s car pushed to sixty miles an hour. I figured that I had picked the smell up as I cleaned out my father’s room. I stopped at a rest stop and scrubbed at my hands and forearms. I sniffed my fingers and plunged my hands back into the sink. My skin prickled and itched when I was finally satisfied and crossed the street to the Burger King.
A child cried openly as I waited in line and my spine itched because of it. I ordered a cheeseburger and a small Sprite. I only ate half the burger and ignored the small Sprite altogether. The burger tasted off, salty and the Sprite smelt off as well. I thought to complain about it, but decided to just toss both into the trash and wash my hands in the bathroom. I drove onto the freeway and followed random cars for miles. The needle fell on E, but I passed up gas stations. I felt sickened by the giant neon signs that shifted through their patterns. The engine started to knock and I pulled over before the car gave up altogether. I made myself vomit on the side of the road, figuring that the burger had made me sick. I summoned the half-cheeseburger and then forced myself to purge more. I sat on the trunk of the car and stared at the cars as they whipped by. I stole one of my sister’s cigarettes, but only puffed on it once. I tasted old, it probably was. I couldn’t see it, but I knew I was near a trailer park. I could smell the backed-up septic system in the air.
My phone purred in my pocket and I pulled it out. It was my sister. She wanted to know where I, and her car, was. She said I should come back, that the coroner had examined my father already. I told her that her car as out of gas and I didn’t know where I was. She wanted me to wave down a car and ask. She didn’t want me to hang up. I did anyway and I didn’t wave down a car. She called me again and I turned the phone off. I decided that I would test the fumes in the tank and kept driving.
The car stank of urine and I thought it might have been the backed-up septic tank or it might have been my clothes. I didn’t know which. It could have been my sister’s kids and I just hadn’t noticed it. The car gave out half a mile down the road and I was glad to get out. I vomited again, this time summoning only thick, clear bile. I started walking once I cleaned the vomit from my face. The smell was all around me. There might have another backed-up septic system or there might have been some body of water at low tide, but whatever it was it made me vomit again. Cars honked as I shuttered and purged, but none of them stopped to help me. I decided that I was too sick to walk or walk back to the car, even. I sat on the side of the road with my head between my knees and spitting onto the asphalt. I had the notion that someone was sitting beside me, but I didn’t look up to see. A police car pulled up on the side of the road before me and I leaned over to get my knees under me. I laid down on my belly and put my hands on my head.
The police officer said my name and I confessed that it was. He told me to get up and I was terribly confused. I kept my mouth shut and he led me into the back of the car. He didn’t put his handcuffs on me.
He didn’t take me to the police station, he took me to the hospital. A doctor looked over me as I shivered in my underwear. The doctor was an older man and I couldn’t bring myself to complain that he smelt like urine. He let me dress myself in a hospital gown as he explained that I was going to be admitted. He assured me that there wasn’t anything to be concerned about, but he wanted to watch me overnight. A nurse had me put me clothes into a clear plastic bag that stank of feet. My clothes stank of urine, so this discovery didn’t bother me as much as it would have otherwise.
Once I was alone, I decided that I couldn’t stay in the hospital. I slipped out in my hospital gown and was intercepted by my sister and older brother. They questioned me as I backed away into a corner. The both of them smelt of urine and I vomited on their shoes. They scattered away once the damage was done and I slipped past them and out past the nurse’s station. A short woman followed me, calling my name. I ignored her, but she was joined by a large man who gripped me by the arm and I couldn’t get away. He the took me across the chest, so as not to hurt me. He stank like sweat and urine and I purged and purged again. My stomach must have been empty, but acrid, clear fluid came forth. The man let down and called for something I could vomit into. I was dazed and sticky with vomit as doctors rushed to me and shooed my siblings away. There was nothing they could do for me, except give me something else to vomit it and slip an IV into my vein, so I wouldn’t died from dehydration. I stayed in a hospital bed for weeks. My cheeks were raw and thinning from my own stomach acid. When my mouth wasn’t occupied with purging, I complained of the horrible smell of urine which the nurse denied smelling.
The coroner had submitted a report on my father. It said that my father had ingested Clorox bleach. The police came to my room and were tried away, being told that I was too weak for questioning and that I didn’t have long, anyway. It might have been delusion, but in the final days of my life I was sure that I saw my father in the corner of my hospital room. I couldn’t see him, but I could feel his ever-wakeful eyes on me and I could smell his stink of urine.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb (Parts 25- Finale)

We've come to the end of this strange journey into the Joss Whedon Universe. I began this project so I could guiltlessly ignore my novel, The Last Rike, which currently hoovers around 42,000 words. What I found was an exciting and compelling story that needed to complete because I needed to know how it would end. I wasn't sure where this story would go or if it was a waste of time, but all that uncertainty has gone by the wayside as I post this. I hope you enjoy the last installment of MALCOLM REYNOLDS VS. CALEB.
THE STORY SO FAR: Mal finally faces off with Caleb and tosses him out into the depths of space. Later now, after the facts of Inara's death settle in, Mal falls into a depression. Meanwhile, the crew believed that the worst was over with the departure of Caleb, but they were wrong.

Reavers blasted through the black, toward Serenity at a haphazard pace. Ashen smoke billowed from the dying ships in long, swirling clouds. Mal was gone to the world, drunken and unconscious. Numb silence overcame the rest of Serenity’s crew. Zoe had been terribly shaken by the reappearance of her husband. She sobbed in the privacy of her bunk. Jayne heard her from his bunk and was stung by it. He found himself outside her doorway, hesitating to rap his knuckles against the metal when the Reavers came into view.
Panic washed through the cockpit where Kaylee, Simon and River sat, peering into the infinite darkness. Emerging from the starless black, at the edge of space, a flickering pinpoint came. It raged through the sky, nearly tumbling toward Serenity. The hull was pierced and torn and flames licked into nothingness. River at the controls, changed the course of the ship, forcing it away from the hellish sight. Death was on that ship and she could feel their minds screaming at her. Simon saw it first, saw he was losing her. Her face was turning ashen white and her hands trembled on the yokes. Tears were welling in her eyes.
“River, stay with me.” He said, placing his hand on her shoulder. Alarms chimed all around them and Kaylee gasped, looking into a blipping screen.
“They’re gaining on us. Three of them.” Simon attempted to make a connection with River, make her steady. He prayed to deities he didn’t believe in that she could be steady. He wasn’t sure if she had found her way into his mind or he’d found his way into her mind, but he saw through her eyes.
Blood and scream was all he could see and hear. Death, so much death. Simon fell to the floor, gasping at the horrors he saw. Simon began to scream.
River looked to Kaylee and to the screens she stood before. Kaylee started toward the writhing Simon.
“Kaylee, no!” River barked. Her hands were now steady on the yokes and her eyes were steely.
“I need you down in the engine.” She said. Simon kicked and gasped, his mouth frothed and his eyes welled with tears. Kaylee stood still and half-dazed, her eyes locked on Simon’s unfettered horror.
“They’re coming. You saw it yourself. We’ll die if you don’t go down to the engine room. We’re going to try a Crazy Ivan.”
“What?” Kaylee asked, weakly.
“You’ve seen how they’re moving. I know you have because I know.”
“They’re running on broken equipment. The lead ship only has one engine and is working close to exploding.”
“None of them will be able to handle a sharp turn. We can get away, but I need you.” Kaylee paused for a moment, staring down at Simon and then she was gone, running down the halls.
Serenity jostled violently as a Reaver harpoon punched into Serenity and ripping a chunk of metal away. Jayne swore in Mandarin as he crushed to the ground and rolled about. Zoe emerged from her bunk at the sound and stared down to Jayne.
“What going on?” She asked.
“I’m not sure. Mal’s locked up in his bunk. Drunk off his ass and River’s behind the wheel up there. Not sure if that was the best of ideas.” Overhead, speakers hidden within the walls crackled into life and River’s voice sounded.
“We’ve got Reavers. We’re going to attempt a Crazy Ivan. All available hands should help out Kaylee in the engine room, brace yourself or get smashed up when turn about.” Jayne’s face went pale at the word, “Reaver” and he was apprehensive about River’s piloting skills. He had less confidence about his own skill, so he wasn’t about to wrest the controls away from her. Doom crept up his spine as Zoe walked and he limped down the hall. He was heading to the cockpit and she was heading to help Kaylee prepare for the maneuver. The two was soon to part when Jayne stopped her, taking her by the wrist with a gentle grasp. She gazed into his eyes and the words caught in his throat.
“What?” Zoe asked forcefully, but not unkindly. Her tone made it harder for him to articulate what he wanted to say, but then he did what he always done. He was a man of action, not of words. He pressed his lips against her and explained everything he meant with that kiss.
The two parted from one another and Zoe stared with such unabashed confusion. They stood in silence for a while as the ship jostled and bucked. The Reavers were coming, but for that moment neither could care. They stood frozen in time and then time sprung forward at double-speed. Zoe was far gone, hurrying down the hallway and out of Jayne’s sight. Jayne moved in silence to the cockpit, unsure of what to make of what had just happened.
Mal felt the bucks and turns of the ship as River evaded the pursuing Reaver ships, but he plainly didn’t care. Inara was there, with him or something that seemed like Inara. She whispered such lovely thoughts to him and he lapped them up like a puppy dog does gravy. He attempted to draw his fingers through her hair, but he felt nothing, both literally and in a figurative sense. He couldn’t quite smell her scent, but he remembered it all the same. She laid, stretched across his bed beside him, smiling. He was smiling as well. He was welling to be lied to, if only for a moment. He’d understood Inara’s death, but he wasn’t ready to accept it.
The First hadn’t been up to its regular treats with Mal, most likely because it expected everyone on Serenity to be made familiar with a Biblical style massacre. Mal was surrendering by slow degrees, his eyes drooping lower and lower. He fell unconscious, into the incorporeal realm of dreaming. He was back on Shadow. Dust laden wind caressed his cheeks like a lover’s touch and the tall grass swayed from side to side. The sun beamed down on him and he stared across a golden plain to a freshly painted farmhouse. He turned onto a secluded dirt road and was soon joined by a man who looked much like himself.
“Shepherd.” He said, neighborly.
“Malcolm, good to see you home.”
“Ain’t looking to be around too long. I got myself a ship and a crew.”
“But your ship’s beat to hell. Your crew’s dying one at a time. You’ll be back here, soon enough. If you’re not dead, of course.”
“I’m trying like hell.”
“Like you were trying on Maranda? Wash died, there. Shepherd Book before that. So many good men and women died and died under your command. You’re carrying a torch that has been extinguished long ago. It’s about time you hang up the Brown coat, maybe?”
“Really? That easy?” Mal looked to the opposite side of the Priest. Shepherd Book peered back at him with tired mournful eyes.
“We’ve lost the battle.” Mal said, looking to the farmhouse.
“You’re starting to sound like him. Explain, what’s the difference between you and him?” Book asked.
“ I don’t know. I’ve killed my fair share of people. Man who hadn’t done nothing to me, but were in the wrong place.” The wind kicked up and the dust masked the three men’s faces.
“ I wouldn’t look back.” The other Shepherd said. Mal did anyway and a long precession of dead men followed the three. Mal remembered all of them, every soldier he lead over a hill to die, every men he shot dead for being too heavy while he was trying to escape, every friend who closed their eyes, forever more. Mal looked back to the farmhouse.
“What do you believe in, Mal?”
“Nothing anymore.”
“Don’t you? Not the friends you have? Not the family you have?” Book asked, pausing slightly after saying ‘family.’ Mal looked to Book.
“You feel the jostling, don’t said you don’t. I’m technically you and I feel it. That’s the ship being brought down by Reavers while Serenity’s Captain lays drunk in his bunk. Something seems wrong with that.”
“They’re already dead.”
“Not yet.” Mal said. His eyes opened and Inara was gone. The First was gone.
The Crazy Ivan was ready and the crew was braced together, praying that River and Kaylee’s assumption was correct, that they could get away. Kaylee and Zoe waited for River’s command. Jayne secured the writhing Simon into a chair without ever asking what had happened to him. A fair guess might have been that Jayne didn’t care, but that wasn’t it. River knew it and Jayne wasn’t really trying to hide it. The truth was that this one move could easily leave them all killed and skinned like rabbits. Asking questions were only a distraction and the answer only would matter if they lived afterward. River had him flip toggles and pull levers. He had done his best and River kept her patience.
Mal clomped into the cockpit, sweaty and red nosed. He had a sick daze to him, but his eyes were steely focused.
“Thanks for joining us. We’re about to die.” Jayne said, bracing himself in the doorway after he entered. Mal peered about the blipping lights and flicking needles.
“We going for a Crazy Ivan. Our fuels a little low for that. Got ideas about that?” River dropped her finger on a Radar screen, indicating the lead Reaver ship.
“Me and Kaylee are thinking this one’s over-running its engines. We’re hoping it’ll blow trying to get at us, taking the other two with it.”
“Drawing them in for that?”
“Of course. It’d be easier with two pilots.”
“That’s where I’m useful.” Mal said, taking the co-pilot’s seat and grasping the yokes.
As River had hoped, the lead ship’s engine did blow as power was moved to the engines. The left engine spun around and Serenity wrenched in the other direction. The ship leaped up and the three Reaver ships ascended upward like starved crocodiles in the adventure movies of yore. The first blew in its attempt and took out the second ship, the third lurched away to the left and spun wild. Serenity blasted forward, first on its own engine and then on the explosion. The ship spun wild over and over before River and Mal could right her.
Something had been knocked loose in the maneuver and sparks washed everyone in the cockpit. The fizzled on River’s shoulders and her head slumped on the yokes and she fell to one side, blood draining from her nose. Mal caught her before she could hit the floor and Simon sprang and took her from him. He rested his ear between her breasts and then relief washed over his face.
“The medical bay is out of commission. We need to get her somewhere for medical attention.” Mal pressed a comm. button and called from Kaylee.
“We’re going to be limping along, Captain.” She said.
“Can you do me any better?”
“The Crazy Ivan caused a little hell down here, but I’ll see what I can do.”
Serenity limped along through the swelling black with fears of the undestroyed Reaver ship. The air grew thin and the plan became to abandon the ship once she wouldn’t take them any further. They’d pile into the remaining shuttle and they’d fly until that ship could take them further and then they’d probably die.
By whatever benevolent forces that oversaw the path of stars and the fate of battered man, Mal found a vague blip on his Radar. Out that far, where the starlight was such a distant memory, no one was doing even dealings. Mal had Jayne prepare his nicest guns in case their saviors were at all squirrelly.
Their saviors turned out to be smugglers moving stolen protein and counterfeit Russian Nesting Dolls. They towed Serenity back onto the edge after some extensive haggling. Mal lost all of his cargo, but gained the lives of himself and his crew’s lives. Serenity rested on one of the older, outer rim planets and they pulled a couple jobs to get Serenity sky-worthy. The crew lifted off and out into space, flying hurt, but true.
Life on Serenity didn’t change much, but also changed beyond description. Misery weighed on all their hearts, but was eased by each other. Zoe and Jayne left their kiss back in Reaver space, though they both thought of it and they were more tender with each other.
Kaylee and Simon carried on as they did, though Simon would wake in the dead of night, shivering as he remembered being inside the tempestuous mind of a dozen Reavers. He understood the pan his sister had gone through over and over again. He had given her stability, so she could save the ship.
River found herself, barefooted in the co-pilot’s seat listening to Malcolm Reynolds philosophized about freedom of space travel and the love of a good ship. She never let on that she knew about the sorrow and doubt in his heart. Neither he, nor she knew what turned the First Evil away, though they both had theories like fragmented machinery. Mal figured that whatever the First evil was, it was only talk without someone to do the breaking for it. Everybody on Serenity had gotten wise to its mind games, so it turned tail. River thought the entity might have been made of cruelty and the worst of mankind and when Mal got up to aid his crew when it would have been easier to die, it was forcibly expunged. She stayed by his side, letting him know that he was not alone.
The crew of Serenity flew like a leaf on the wind as Wash once said, moving on and closer together.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb (Parts 20-24)

We are on our penultimate installment of Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb. Soon you'll have to find some new addiction. We've had laughs and tears and there are so much more to come. Strap in, because I'm not pulling any punches with the ending.

So without further ado, here's the story so far: The First Evil, who has the power to assume the appearance of any dead people, took the form of Inara and convinced Mal that Serenity was being over-ran by Reavers. In the confusion, Mal almost killed Jayne. Zoe and Simon stopped him. Yay! River shoots up Inara's ship and stopped Caleb from escaping out into the black. She's off to eject the shuttle into space. Now let's get into it.

It was all silence in the hall, apart from the constant crackle and buzz coming from Inara'’ newly destroyed shuttle. Zoe stood in the porthole with her gun drawn, eyeing the ruins. Smoke was bellowing into the halls, but Serenity’s carbon scrubbers and overhead extinguishers were taking care of that. Jayne was attempting to get up, though Simon might have told him it would be better to lay down.
“Zoe…” Jayne said, mournfully.
“You don’t need to.” Zoe said. “Whatever this is, it was trying to get me to kill myself back in the bay. Probably was screwing with your head, too.”
“Yeah. Made me think I could bring back your husband.” There was a long pregnant silence filled with the dying flames.
“Come to me.” Zoe said. “That’s what it kept saying.”
“Thank you.” Jayne said. “You know, for saving my life and all.” Jayne wanted to say more, but he wasn’t sure of how to say it, what it would mean if he did. So, instead he just gave up on getting up and leaned his back against the wall.
Groans and angered cries broke the silence. Zoe rose her gun and fired once, then she was knocked unconscious by a flying bit of debris. Caleb limped out of the shuttle, his eyes black and wet, like a shark’s eyes might be.

Jayne forced himself to him feet, using strength he didn’t have. He was without a gun, River had kept it for whatever reason. Jayne threw a fist and it connected, but did as much damage as if it had missed. He threw his other, broken hand and screamed in pain. Caleb stopped the screaming with a quick strike to the man’s head. Jayne fell unconscious.
Kaylee’s eye went wide at the sight of Caleb. He towered over her, shivering with rage and pain. His hissing wounds oozed black sewage that might have been blood in a human. He limped forth to her, piloting an impossibly broken body. His left leg dragged, broken at an odd angle. The defrocked priest stopped before her, forcing shuttering breaths through a collapsed chest. Caleb brushed his fingers across her face and a single tear rolled down her cheeks as she struggled to breathe. She took his touch like a slap to the face. The world had dwindled down to the two of them, in that hallway. Sounds and light drained away like water out a storm drain and Kaylee didn’t notice Mal’s eyes open.
“Kaylee?” Mal said, weakly. From his point of view, he saw her first and saw the tear roll down her cheek, second. The third thing he saw was Caleb’s horrible face soaked in black blood and bile. Mal rolled from her lap and on to his chest. Caleb caught on to Mal’s motions and a broken smile cracked across his lips. Caleb took him up by the scruff of the neck and Mal winced as he held on.
“Kaylee, you get on.” Mal said with a clumsy tongue.
“You go ahead, girl. I’ll be killing you, later.” Kaylee stood and ran, pausing shortly to see Mal peer back at her.
Mal flew like a leaf on the wind as Wash once said. And like Mal’s boat, Serenity, he slammed gracelessly into the ground below. Mal bounced off some wayward crates Mal had sworn he told somebody to stow away. The crates hurt and the metal grated floor hurt worst. Mal spat blood as Caleb descended from the catwalks where Mal had recently been launched. He still had his broken, psychotic smile plastered on his face and Mal, inexplicably, formed a red one. Mal struggled to his feet, spitting more blood out. The two men stood eye to eye, oddly broken and amused by each other.
“Had a hell of a day, hadn’t it?” Mal said.
“Some day, for sure. Back in my day, we handled things with our fists. I’m all shot up.”
“We still do, mind you. Firearms are just more handy.”
“Very true. I think I’m going to kill you now.” Caleb made a fist and Mal did what was most easy for him. He let himself collapsed to the ground, only catching himself once he was on his knees. Caleb struck down and Mal rolled away from his attempted strike. He got back to his feet and fell away as Caleb attempted to strike again. This all seemed very random and clumsy to Caleb, but Mal was wilier than any coyote ever was.
Mal fell against the far wall where the large bay doors separated the crew of Serenity from the cold of space. His hand hit the control pad and opened the inner door. Caleb hit the wall close to Mal’s head and Mal laid hands on him. With all the strength his drugged and abused muscles could muster, he wrenched Caleb through the doors. Caleb dropped to the ground, crashing against the outer doors. The inner doors lowered as Caleb got to his feet. They were separated by a thick slab of space age steel and nothing separated Caleb from the chill of space. Caleb was weightless, but still there. Mal had the fortune of taking away Caleb’s strength advantage. It’s hard to smash and break without a momentum and traction. Mal could comprehend how a man could stare back with living, black eyes from out in the black.
Mal limped slowly up the stairs and down the halls to the cockpit. Something was dislodged from the ship and jostled him some. Turned out to be Inara’s shuttle as River had planned. Mal had words with her about that, but not before they figured the mussed with wiring. The First remained uncommonly silent and Caleb had failed to hide his way in. Inertia took care of Caleb. As Serenity sped, Caleb lost his grip and disappeared into the black. The crew was soon as whole as they possibly could be, realizing what Inara’s appearance to Mal meant.
A new silence washed over the crew, marred only by sobs kept to the crier’s selves. They thought the worst had left with Caleb, but they were wrong.
Mal sat in the silence of his room with Serenity drifting through the black. Inara’s form swelled into being before him, garbed in a flowing purple gown. She sat at his knee and peered up to him with her soulful eyes.
“Get away from me.” Mal said, bitterly.
“Mal. We never had our time, did we?” Mal remained silent and still.
“I died at the Alliance’s hand. I was shot down after they came asking about you. Might have been better if I never came aboard Serenity.” Mal remained silent and still.
“I was brave. Right until the last.” Mal remained still and silent.
“I did love you, Malcolm Reynolds. For whatever that means, I did. Did you love me?” Mal’s eye turn to a half full bottle of whiskey. He had a beautiful notion of making it empty.