Category Archives: Fiction

Writing fan fiction is never not fun.

I have been reading the Internet, as you do, and I see a lot of my fellow nerds are as excited to see the TNG cast back together as I am.

I’ve also seen a LOT of people — like, way more than I ever would have imagined –expressing dismay that Wesley isn’t part of it.

I share some of your sadness, for my own reasons, but I choose to focus instead on how special it’s going to be to see my family back together again, and how wonderful it’s going to be to talk with them about it in the Ready Room.

Still, I’ve been thinking all day … what would happen if Wesley DID show up? Why would Traveler Wesley be there? And my imagination did its thing.

So I sketched this out in my head, and … well, it felt like something that was worth sharing.


Jean-Luc sits in a comfortable chair. He’s spent a lot of time here, lost in precisely this kind of thought. He’s sipping a glass of wine. Number One is asleep at his feet. The room shimmers in the golden light — but not the warmth — of a blazing fire. Deep shadows fill the corners, reflecting in their way the shadow on Picard’s face.

He looks up. Did he just sense movement in the shadows? He looks back to Number One, who is snoring on the floor, kicking his legs. Picard slowly stands up.

CUT TO WIDE. There it is. A figure in the darkness.

(more curious than alarmed)
Hello? Who’s there?

A beat. We hold our breath. Is it Q?

The figure emerges from the shadows, instantly familiar to some of us. It’s Wesley Crusher. Older. Wiser. Maybe a little haunted? A Traveler who has seen some shit. He smiles warmly.



It’s good to see you, Captain.

The fire crackles. Picard regards him for a long moment. It’s been 20 years. It’s a lot to take in.

(feeling it)
Wesley, I haven’t been your Captain for a very long time.

Now it’s Wesley’s turn to regard him.

You will always be my Captain.

Picard’s smile almost reaches his eyes. This is more than a simple reunion, and he knows it.

Why are you here? In this place? At this time?

The Traveler takes a deep, deliberate breath. Before he speaks, Number One growls, then barks. Through the windows, it’s getting brighter. Is the sun rising? No, it’s too fast, too bright, to be the sun. This is more like a spotlight being shined directly into the room. Picard shields his eyes from the increasingly blinding light. The Traveler is unaffected.

(as the light begins to swallow them)
… because this is where I am needed.

The white light fills the screen.

Black letters fade in: TO BE CONTINUED.

Writing fan fiction is never not fun, y’all.

in which i discover analog horror

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the paranormal and the occult. I did not believe any of it was real, but I still loved it. I loved how the show In Search Of put this very respectable, credible sort of mask on, and winked at the audience, like, “Listen, we all know this isn’t real. But … what if it was? What if we all agreed to pretend that it was?”

Jack Palance was so intense on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, it was like he dared you to not believe it. It was so great, that stuff. I just loved it. The Time Life Books series you already know I’m talking about before you even look at the link if you’re my generation was also a favorite. In the early days of the Internet, I just about died when I found all the regional urban legends on usenet that never made it to my little part of Los Angeles County.

I saw Blair Witch in the theater. I lurked on unfiction for what feels like ages back before the server blew up like Ricky’s mom. I watched so many found footage movies when they were just this low budget way to make indies, there was nothing left to surprise me when they went mainstream (though I was thrilled for the creators and the genre). I loved Marble Hornets so much, I tracked down like a 200 page PDF all about the Slenderman mythos that existed at the time, and I printed it out so I could make my own notes in it.

And until recently, it’s all just sort of fallen off my radar. I blame … *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing*.

But when I came across Night Mind recently, it all came back. All the fun of pretending it’s real, with other people who are also pretending it’s real, while we all agree not to talk about how it isn’t real … oh man it just scratches this very specific itch that I didn’t even realize I had until I was scratching it. The SCP and EAS videos are just fantastic.

For the last minute or so, I’ve been channel surfing around Night Mind, Nexpo, and a few of those “people who watched this also watched” channels.

It’s one of those channels that surprised me and legit scared the evershittingfuck out of me last night.

Last night, I spent the evening watching analog horror videos on YouTube. I love the familiar, nostalgic, VHS feeling. I love remembering, from the safety of 49, how I felt every single time I heard the Emergency Broadcast System when I was 9 and a Cold War Kid. I don’t know what the modern day equivalent of walking into a room lit only by the static from a TV with no signal that you are positive you turned off an hour ago is, but if you know in your guts what I just described, that’s how these videos make me feel. It’s fantastic.

This is where I reveal that, until about 36 hours ago, I had not heard of “analog horror“. I hope you still respect me.

So, the story these videos and their creators are telling is genuinely frightening. Some real bad shit is happening with the moon and the television and even though I haven’t paused it to look, I just know there’s all sorts of creepy shit in the static. The way they are telling their story is impressive to me for a million reasons, technical and creative.

I think I watched three of them from this channel (they’re all very short, just a couple minutes each). Then they get to this video that slowly begins to feel familiar as I watch it. By the end of the first minute, that familiar feeling has become a memory. I have absolutely seen this before. But that’s impossible, because I didn’t know this video, this channel, or even this genre existed until breakfast yesterday morning!

I make this agreement with myself when I watch these channels, that’s essentially the same agreement we make when we play an ARG or engage with unfiction in any way: I know it isn’t real, but I’m going to pretend it’s real, and we aren’t going to talk about how it isn’t real. So my head is in a VERY PARTICULARLY RECEPTIVE AND VULNERABLE PLACE as this video WHICH I HAVE NEVER SEEN BUT TOTALLY REMEMBER plays out in front of me.

The video is tense and unnerving and unsettling on its own. But this unreal, impossible, yet undeinably real memory of seeing it before makes it feel like I am now inside one of these creepypasta shorts I’ve been watching. Somehow this specific video has also come out of my head and jumped into the computer in front of me and now this memory that I can not possibly have is clearly existing in my head and also on this video and I gotta tell you, bob, it isn’t great.

There’s a flash on the screen and I am already looking at exactly the right place to see the entity I know will be there. There has been nothing in this video so far that would lead anyone who hasn’t seen it to expect an entity. WHAT THE FUCK HOW DO I KNOW ANY OF THIS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

The video plays for about another thirty seconds and then it ends.

I say, out loud, in my empty game room, “What the fuck.” And then the credits roll.

Oh. Okay. This all make sense, now, and I can breathe again. It’s made by Kris Straub, who I’ve known for years. I am a huge fan of Kris’s Candle Cove and Ichor Falls. Then I see that the video is from an idea by Mikey Neumann, who I have done many outstanding creative projects with over the years and love like family.

Mikey and Kris made this video forever ago, and sent it to me before it was uploaded anywhere. In all of the *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing* of the last few years, I had completely forgotten about it. Like, the part of my brain where it lived was not reformatted, but absolutely marked as “available for storage” in my mental fstab.

I did that loud, nervous, I’m-so-glad-I-didn’t-die-I-really-thought-I-was-going-to-die laugh that we’re all familiar with for reasons none of us want to remember. Then I was like, “Okay. Okay. Well done, Mysterious Person Who Is Writing My Life. You just gave me the first good scare I’ve had in a long, long time.”

The series is called Local 58, and so is the channel, which is what I had been watching when I saw the video that made me metaphorically shit my pants. I am so glad I found it, and all the other channels like it that it either inspired, or was inspired by. This is fun, this stuff. This storytelling is doing the exact same thing for me in 2022 that the original analog horror did for me in 1982. I have just started Gemini Home Entertainment, (I know it’s not precisely the same but this Omega Mart training video is great,) and I haven’t even done the Night Mind Deep Dive into Local 58, which I know will open new doors for me to peek through.

As I am someone who is habitually late to every party, I’m sure there’s a ton of good stuff out there in this genre for me to discover. If there’s an analog horror series or creator you love who I haven’t linked to here, link them in a comment, if you want. I’m so interested to see what’s out there.

The Backrooms and Night Mind

A few months ago, I started watching YouTube channels every night before bed. Mostly, it’s been explorations of abandoned places, histories of video games and 80s pop culture, and all sorts of weird amusement park stuff that I never thought I’d love, but can’t get enough of.

At some point, I came across a channel called Night Mind. This dude does magnificent deep dives into all sorts of Internet Weirdness, with a focus on ARGs and unfiction. In fact, the first video posted to the channel is all about my first and favorite creepypasta YouTube series, Marble Hornets.

Real quick: Shortly after the Slender Man myth was created, some brilliant filmmakers took the idea and ran with it to create their own found footage series. I’d never seen anything like it, and I was OBSESSED. It was called Marble Hornets and it ran for three seasons. You have probably divided yourselves into two groups, now. Half of you are like OMG MARBLE HORNETS I LOVED THAT and the other half are like I have no idea what you’re talking about.

After Marble Hornets, my life took me in a direction that veered away from internet creepypasta. I’ve been catching up on what I missed, via Night Mind.

Last night, I saw a relatively recent upload about a new found footage webseries called The Backrooms. I started watching it, veered off of Night Mind and to the source (as suggested by Night Mind’s host, Nick Nocturne), and an hour later I was like WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH HOLY SHIT.

As of about an hour ago, I am caught up (mostly) on the current Liminal Space deal that creepypasta kids are exploring. It’s fascinating and squarely in my wheelhouse. The Backrooms is terrifying, if you allow yourself to buy into the story, which of course I did because it’s fun.

Okay. So. I know that for people who are plugged into whatever the current Internet Hotness is, this is all very old news. I guess the Liminal Space deal has been happening for awhile, and this video I’m about to link to was released in January of this year, making it ancient in Internet time.

Here is the original film, The Backrooms (found footage)

You can watch the entire thing, including all the uploads, in around an hour. Now, I know there’s some show you spend an hour watching that doesn’t deserve your time (I’m looking at you, Reality TV) that always leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied, like you gorged yourself on a Wonka Bar and now you are still hungry. If you are nodding along with me, GO TO NIGHT MIND AND START THERE LIKE I DID.

This series is magnificent, and if stuff like this makes your brain light up in the right places, you will LOVE Night Mind (presuming you don’t know about it already).

This morning, I have wandered around lots of Internet I don’t usually visit, reading about and learning more about The Backrooms and the Liminal Space stuff. It’s deeply satisfying, kind of tickles my imagination, and is tremendously engaging. If you like the same things I like, I think you’ll be real glad you spent some time checking this out.

Oh, and one last thing: the guy who created and directed this stuff, Kane Pixels, is sixteen years-old.

Radio Free Burrito Presents: Return to Pleasure Island by Cory Doctorow

I was talking to my friend, Cory, over the weekend, and we decided that we would each read and release something the other had written, because why not?

I’m a huge fan and admirer of Cory both as a human and as a creative person. He’s been my primary mentor since I started writing professionally, and I owe him more than I’ll ever be able to properly repay. It’s not unreasonable to say that, without Cory’s guidance and kindness, I wouldn’t be a published author.

So it’s with excitement (and a little trepidation, because I don’t want to disappoint my friend) that I chose one of Cory’s fantastic short stories from way back in 1999, which he describes this way:

This is the story of the ogres who run the concession stands on Pleasure Island, where Pinocchio’s friend Lampwick turned into a donkey. Like much of my stuff, this has a tie-in with Walt Disney World; the idea came to me on the Pinocchio ride in the Magic Kingdom, in 1993.

You can grab my narration at my Soundcloud. I hope you enjoy it.

When we were talking, Cory asked me if I he could read something of mine on his podcast, so I sent him a diary I wrote about my son and Cory’s book, Little Brother. He read it on his podcast, making this an official Podcast Swap, which I did not know was a thing.


if you don’t read my facebook, here’s what you’ve missed recently

For posterity, and for my personal ownership of stuff I’ve written, this is a collection of posts I’ve recently shared on my Facebook thingy.

I’ve been at this long enough to feel like posting on Facebook is … kind of icky, from my EFF-loving, anti authoritarian, fuck-all-Fascists point of view, but the shitty reality is that Facebook is where people are these days. When I post on Facebook, I’ll interact with hundreds of people, just like I did in the early 2000s right here in this old blog. But when I post here, it’s crickets. So I’ll go where the people are, but I’ll also x-post some of that here, for anyone in the future who cares to read it.

Okay. Here they are. From my Facebook, over the last week or so:

Reminder that your self care is really important. If you live with anxiety or some other super fun mental illness like I do, you may be feeling extra stress and pressure right now. That’s totally normal and valid!

It’s okay to turn off the news, to walk away from the information fire hose for awhile, and simply … exist. Read a book, have a tea or a coffee, play a game, take a walk if you’re able to do that while maintaining appropriate physical distance from your fellow humans. Draw something! Listen to some music!

Whatever you do, the news will be there when you get back. And, honestly? Things are changing so quickly, it’s okay to miss a few hours of breaking news updates.

I wonder if I’m writing this mostly for myself? I feel like I have a responsibility to be productive, and to stay informed so I can be the best husband and father I can be right now, and it can feel a little (or a lot) overwhelming.


Is this only funny to me?

I want to check in with a friend. So I type “Just thinking about” and I intend to type “you and [her husband]” but I see that the word “your” is in the predictive text thing. And I just *know* what it is going to lead to, but I have to see for myself, you know? So I tap it, and sure enough, the next word it suggests is “sexy” followed by “body” followed by the little smiley emoji with heart eyes.

I audibly groan and delete the predicted text, sanitize my phone’s screen, just to be safe, and send my intended text message, without the suggested, and thoroughly inappropriate, predicted text.

I’m not shaming anyone who texts that way, but I don’t, and I CERTAINLY do not text that to my friends.

It was just amusing af to me that this series of words gets typed enough that my keyboard app’s predictive text thingy was like I WILL HELP YOU, HUMAN. YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO SEND A CREEPY TEXT AND IT IS MY TIME TO SHINE.

Uh, no. Thanks. I’m good, predictive text.


Y’all who are on the front lines, going to work, ensuring that our society continues to function, even while everything is so disrupted, are major heroes.

I am so grateful for your dedication and your commitment to making sure your fellow humans have a place to go, and a person to talk to, when they need it.

Thank you!


A random person flipped out at Anne on Twitter, because she took a walk by herself, stayed far and safely away from anyone else, and had the nerve to post a picture of herself online while she was out.

She’s been getting all sorts of criticism for pretty much everything she does, from tons of random strangers online who seem to keep forgetting (or choosing to ignore) that she’s a grown-ass woman who isn’t doing anything wrong.

This one person in particular made me really, really, REALLY mad. I’m stressed af. I’m wound up as tightly as I’ve been wound up in maybe my whole life, and I feel like I could just EXPLODE if the wrong person says the wrong thing to me … or to the most important person in my entire world.

But I took a deep breath, listened while Anne expressed how frustrated she is feeling with people being shitty to her online, and I tried to maintain some perspective, tried to understand where this person was maybe coming from. I concluded that they feel afraid, and out of control, so they are lashing out, to give that emotional energy a place to go. It’s not okay that this person and so many people like them are telling a fully-grown woman how to live her life. It’s not cool to act as a gatekeeper, diminishing someone’s experience because *you* have decided that someone *else* has a worse experience.

I have the luxury of not being the stressed out mom and wife who is doing her best to get through a *really* scary and terrifyingly uncertain time. I have the luxury of not being the woman who was, once again, lectured by a man about how she is allowed to exist. Check that. I have the *privilege* of being a man, so that gives me an opportunity to depersonalize what happened to Anne, and use it as a teaching moment.

I’m doing my best to be the person I need in the world, and this is what I need today:

*gestures wildly at everything* all this is really hard for everyone, and I have to believe that everyone is dealing with it as best as they can. Yes, even the people who freak out at you online because you walked your dog (while safely staying 6 feet away from everyone). Yes, even the people who show up in every thread to act like this is a contest, gatekeeping who is and isn’t allowed to express frustration, boredom, or fear.

We are all scared, for a whole huge list of reasons that may all be wildly different, and humans don’t make the best choices when we are acting from a place of fear.

I’m scared, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m not. I would be a h*cking sociopath if I *wasn’t* scared. Basic math says someone I care about is eventually going to get sick, and may even die. The jackass president of my country makes things worse every time he opens his lie hole. The work I expected to be doing right now has all been pushed back by months, and I suddenly find myself staying at home, instead of having this amazing adventure, doing work I’m so excited to do.

But I’m not panicking. There is plenty of food, even if some things are scarce right now. I’m safe in my home and in my community.

I am remembering to focus on the things I *can* control, so I don’t obsess (and feel disempowered by) the things I can’t control. I’m listening to public health officials, trusting the scientists, and social distancing. I’m planning my meals with my family, and we’re going to the store as infrequently as we can. (And I wish I could go to the store more often, because a little bit of normal in all of this is SUPER IMPORTANT for mental health. I’m choosing to be grateful when I *do* go to the store.)

And I am doing my best, in my way, to be a helper, because I *need* to see helpers in the world, I need to know they are there. I need to believe that, for every person who is a jerkass online, there are a dozen out there right now, working in grocery stores and delivery services and hospitals and research labs.

Making the choice to be a helper has been really good for my mental health, in countless ways.

Can you be a helper, too?

Let’s do our best to choose kindness, patience, and empathy.
Let’s do our best to be gentle with ourselves, and with others.
Let’s be compassionate.

We are all in this together. This is, literally, our entire planet going through something scary, together, at the same time. And the thing is, it doesn’t care if you’re rich or what country you were born in or who you love. In the eyes of COVID-19, we are all equal, and we need to start acting like it. We need to take care of each other. The only way we are going to get through this, is by working together.

And let us remember that everyone is dealing with this as best as they can, and let us not be a dick to our fellow humans.

Thanks for listening.


Another X-post from my Tumblr Ask Me thingy:

QUESTION: Would you be willing to donate your voice talents to an indie podcast for an episode or two? Should we contact your agents or would you be willing to handle it on your own? (The voice actors don’t get paid as most of us are doing for the love of it and what money we do make has thus far gone into promotion and production costs.) At the very least, would you be willing to listen to the show and mention it on social media if you like it?

ANSWER: I love that you asked me, and I’m going to give you an answer in public that I hope doesn’t turn too many people off: I *love* that you are being creative and making amazing new art. That is wonderful, and I wish you all the success in the world. When I was younger, I did projects like yours all the time and I loved it.

But I can’t be part of this for you, and I want to explain why.

I get asked all the time to donate my work, my time, my experience, etc., to projects, and I always have to decline. It’s not because I don’t believe in you, or want to support you. It’s because I’m working full-time as it is, and any spare time, energy, or creative inspiration I have really needs to go into my own projects, as I continue to build my career as a voice performer, narrator, and (hopefully) novelist.

I don’t feel your ask is unreasonable, at all, and I’m *thrilled* you had the courage to reach out. I’m also honored to be thought of as someone you want to work with. I hope you understand the practical realities of my life, and I hope you aren’t put off by my need to decline your kind invitation.

As to your final question, I rarely listen to podcasts these days, and I struggle to make time to listen to audiobooks. You can send me a link when it’s done, and I’ll make an effort to give you feedback, but I can’t promise anything.

I wish you the best of luck! I hope you’re the next Welcome To Nightvale.


Another question from my Tumblr ask thingy: So, I’m sorry if this is something that you’ve answered/been asked before. But I’m trying to start a DnD campaign. I’ve been playing since I was 4 (so about 23 years now), but I’ve never tried to run a campaign. I’m having a hard time trying to figure out where to start and staying on track with it. But I want to introduce my roommates to the game and I want it to be as fun and magical for them as it was for me when I first played. Do you have any advice? Thanks so much! I hope you’re doing well.

My answer, which I’ve edited a little bit to add some more thoughts:

When I was younger, I always put a ton of pressure on myself to write my own modules, build my own world, and do all that work that I wasn’t really able to do (and didn’t want to do). I have no idea why I felt that way, but it wasn’t until I was teaching RPGs to my own children about 15 years ago that I realized it was time wasted.

So with that in mind…

Don’t start out with the core books and one of the epic adventure books. You’ll all get there, eventually, but that’s a LOT to handle when you’re running a campaign for the first time, or playing the game for the first time. Players and DMs can *absolutely* start there, but I don’t recommend it.

I recommend starting out with the 5e Starter Set, or the 5e Essentials set. Both give you everything you need, for the players and for the DM, to play and experience everything that makes D&D awesome. They both take the players through several levels, and the writers take time throughout the whole thing to tell the DM not just what you’re supposed to do, but *why*you need to do it, to make the game work. You can sort of lean how to run a campaign this way, from some of the best DMs in the business.

But they do not overwhelm you with information, which is what sets them apart from the core books, for a new player. The important, foundational rules are all there, but they are streamlined just enough to prevent overwhelming new players with information they don’t really need. Nobody who ever plays them (and I’ve played them both) will ever feel like they are playing a slimmed-down version of the game. It’s just cleaner and easier to follow.

and finally:

I *need* to be creative, and until I have the creative energy to write my own stories, I’m going to do a thing I’m pretty good at, and narrate some public domain short stories.

As long as people are listening, I’ll keep recording. Your feedback is important to me.

Okay, that just about catches me up, here.