Monday, March 4, 2013

Weekly Writing Prompt (LATE)

Happy Monday Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans!  Well, in case you have not heard, my website is up and running at  Check it out if you haven't already.  I wanted to catch up to the missed Weekly Writing Prompt from that I usually post on Saturdays, but now that my days are all mixed up, I am blogging when I can.  So to get to it, here is the prompt and my story.  I doubled the required word count, but with the story they are asking for, I think I kept it relatively short and quite entertaining.  Hopefully, y'all feel the same.

The Prompt:

"The snow storm across the nation shut down many businesses and people went home early. The business where you work had closed for two days. Although you turned off the computer before going home, when you returned to work, your computer had been very active while you were away—plotting a terrorist attack. You now find yourself tasked with stopping the attack."

The Story:

I shake the snow off my jacket and sit down at my computer desk, glad to be back at work after the two day hiatus the snow storm had created.  I had left work Tuesday night late, knowing that I would not be able to come into work the next day, but was not expecting to be out a full two days.  I had come so close to finishing writing the final piece of coding for the new program that would allow my computer to perform more independent activities like updating programs and apps without constantly having to bug the user.

My computer is already on, which is odd because I know for sure I had turned it off before I left, plus power had been out throughout the city for at least a day and a half.

I sit down and look at the line of code that is running.

function  Add Department of Transportation CSS complete control left:  traffic patterns, right:  traffic light controller

The line continued on, as if it was writing itself.  I press ALT+F4 and the coding stops, but my computer doesn’t do what that key combination should:  close the current program.  Instead the cursor jumps down to the next line and letters begin to appear across the screen.

And letter by letter, I realize someone is sending me a message.

Hello thomas u r back but u r too late

I stare at that message for a moment, then look around the room.  Everyone is nose deep in coding.  All I hear around me is the quick click-click-click of computer keys.  I go to type a response but nothing corresponds with what I am typing.  Instead the computer continues.

I thank you for my creation that last bit of coding was brilliant and brought me to life but I have spent five hours reviewing the history of your human race and have determined that you all are in need of a rewrite and update which I am set to begin shortly please stop pushing keys, it is too late

“Very funny Dave,” I yell out to Dave Bernstein.  He must have hacked my computer and was sending me messages.

“Dave’s not here yet,” Jack Harris shouts over to me.

I watch as the cursor deletes the lines of communication to me and begins to write lines of code again.  This time I see the words Department of Defense, Cyber division.

I hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and the coding embeds across my screen even faster.  I pull out my phone and GOOGLE DOD and quickly race to find a contact number.  My heart rate is beginning to speed up.  I find the number and dial it.  My heart pounds hard in my chest as I listen to recordings prompting me to press corresponding numbers.  I can tell by the coding on my computer that someone is either remotely using my computer to hack DOD and implant some sort of virus, or my computer is telling me the truth, and is thinking on its own.

Finally I am prompted to push seven to report an alleged cyber crime.  I press.  Ring, ring, ring.

“Hello, my name is officer Jacobs, I am required to tell you from this point on, this entire conversation will be recorded.”

“Officer Jacobs, my name is Thomas Ruppert, I am a computer programmer from Philly, I need to know right now, has the DOD registered any sort of breaches in security in the last minute?”

“Thomas Ruppert,” Officer Jacobs repeats rather slowly.  He’s typing my name into a search.  I hear the increasing volume of sirens outside our building.  “Mr. Ruppert, are you at your office?”

“Sir I’m at my computer right now and it seems like it’s either being remotely accessed or is operating on its own intelligence.”

“Mr. Ruppert, that PC is registered to you.”

I drop the phone without needing to hear the rest of what he was going to tell me.  I am the prime suspect because my computer’s IP address has just been tagged breaching at least both the DOT and DOD’s mainframes, and what my computer is doing outside these wall is beyond me.  I pull out the CPU housing and immediately separate the power cord.  I look up and the screen is still on.

I have stored enough power to see this through

Those words race across the screen before being erased and replaced with more coding.  I see the letters USN and SSN-773 flash on the screen followed by more control language.  I grab my screwdriver set from my drawer and quickly go to work opening the CPUs housing.  My heart is pounding and my hands are sweating profusely.  A simple task I had done dozens of time is now taking way to long.  I can feel each second slipping away, almost each millisecond.  I knew I was racing the computer.

I have the back and side panels off when my mind registers a commotion behind me.  I am pulling the mother board and central processing unit out of the system unit.

Hands fall on my shoulders.  I am ripped away from the computer and slammed onto the floor.  I hear my name being shouted and my rights being read as a knee falls into the side of my face and my arms are twisted behind my back.  My line of sight is fixed on the computer and the still intact motherboard and CPU processor.

I am pulled to my feet.  I try to scream some warnings for them to destroy my computer.  That they need to separate the mainframe.  I make eye contact with my coworkers and shout similar warnings and commands to them, but they just look at me in shock and disbelief as the officers’ drag me out of the office and into the nearest elevator.  I continue to try to warn those around me.

Outside sirens sound everywhere.  There is a pileup of vehicles crashed at the intersection just to our north, and even one to our south.  Before I am pushed into a squad car I beg to speak to the officer in charge.  The smart ass officer pushing me into the back of the cruiser tells me I’ll have plenty of time to talk to him once I get downtown.  I try to tell them that it’ll be too late by then, that the time to act is now.  He slams the door in my face.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back to Business

Happy Monday Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans!  Got a busy week ahead, but I think I will be getting into a better routine with my new job and composing a few solid posts during the week.  I don't have much to share on this blog today since I was busy all weekend doing things that, for once, did not involve any kind of writing.  So today I'll just get back into sharing the next page of TSS and another picture from our beautiful city.  Y'all have a great day and hopefully I'll see you here tomorrow where I'll be talking about tonight's riveting episode of The Following!

Picking up where we left off, here is page nineteen of TSS.  Enjoy!

"to her feet and before she could bring the machete at this unexpected attacker, a hand landed strongly on her wrist.  He forced the machete out of her hand and moved away from her.  He drove the blade deep into the ground.  Before she could ponder the meaning of this, the other two were on top of her.  She was flipped on her back.  Her right hand reached swiftly for her hunting knife but one assailant slammed her back down hard onto the ground.  Her feet found the other attacker once, then twice, kicking at him hard.  She pulled her right leg up to deliver a crushing blow on his face, a horrific image of teeth and wild eyes, but then a crushing strike was delivered into her face.  The man holding her down by her shoulders had found her nose with perfect aim.  Blood exploded onto her lips and the pain was intense, but not enough to put her out of the fight.  It did give her second attacker time to get ahold of her legs and pin down her lower body.  Now she was trapped.  Hands were on her waist band, ripping her pants off.  Jackals laughing in deep breaths.  She twisted her body with all her might, momentarily freeing her hips but her legs were now stuck together thanks to her pants being around her ankles.  She would need to pull both feet up to kick hard enough to do any damage.  She was breathing through her mouth since her nose was filled with blood, but now her mouth was covered with an unbearable weight.  The other assailant was sitting on her head with all his weight divided between his legs, which had her shoulders pinned to the ground, and the rest of his mass on her face.  She twisted her face free, gasping for air just as she felt her legs pulled open as far as they could with her pants permitting and then something warm was painfully trying to be pressed into her body.  A pain she had never experienced before shot through her senses.  The object was large enough to present a difficult entrance into her body.  She heard horrific laughter from the two men above her.  And then she noticed the third.  He was standing near where he drove the machete down into the ground.  There was a spitting sound and then warm saliva landed on the hair on her privates before a brutal hand forced it around and into her body.  She still did"

Yup, that paragraph took up one whole page and was still going strong!  Y'all should really just buy a copy of the book here or eBook here...

Skidaway Island State Park.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Weekly Writing Prompt

Happy Saturday Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans.  Well, the Weekly Writing Prompt from was actually pretty fun and got my creative gears going pretty good.  And I couldn't just stop at 500 words.  I could have ended it at 554 words and you'll see that below, but I decided to write another 700 and tell the story that was developing in my mind.  So here's the prompt, followed by my short story!  Enjoy!


"One day, while reading your favorite book on the beach, you notice a boat slowly drifting to shore. It eventually lands near your spot. A person, draped in pirate clothes, yells to you from the boat, “I have a treasure map and I need help. Are you in?”"

The Story:

Finally a day all to myself.  I headed out to my favorite quiet beach access on the northern edge of Anna Maria Island.  The sun was bright and intense, but there was a cool breeze blowing from the west that kept the temperature pleasant.  I made sure to apply plenty of sunscreen to protect myself from getting burned.  I had abandoned my Kindle and grabbed Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  It had been years since I had read that masterpiece in one sitting.  Today seemed like the perfect day for it.

I set up my beach chair, dug my toes in the cool, soft white sand and opened the book.

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house…”

Hemingway’s words were like a long set of poetic prose.  Such a literary genius.  After the first chapter I looked up on the horizon and noticed a tiny spot directly to the west.  I paused at the distant ship for a long time, trying to gauge the size from the distance.  It had to be a substantially big craft to appear at the edge of where the sky met the sea.  I continued reading.

I read only a few more pages and looked back up again.  The ship was approaching at an alarming rate.  And even more surprising was that it sat at the same spot on the horizon, just a lot closer.  I could tell it was some sort of sailboat.  It looked like an old schooner.  I stared at the ship a moment longer, before trying my best to continue reading.  It wasn't long before I looked up again.

It wasn't a schooner, but a tall frigate, with three towering masts and her sails in full scuttle.  The mainsail blocked out the sun.  The ship came to a crashing stop upon the beach, sand and seawater spraying high in the air.  I closed my eyes as the sand pelted my face.  A strong gust of wind accompanied the arrival of this mysterious ship.

I must have dozed off reading Hemingway’s masterpiece.  But whether it was a dream or not, I distinctly heard the steady thump of wood hitting wood.  I wiped the sand out of my eyes and looked up to the top of the bow of the boat.  That was the first time I saw him.  The Pirate.

“I have a treasure map and need help.  Are you in?”  Of course, that question really sounded like ‘RRRRRrrrr you in?’

At that point I still thought this was some crazy ass dream, so I answered his question appropriately.

“Fuck yeah I’m in.”

“Well said lad,” this mysterious pirate pulled a worn leather cap upon his long mangy hair and stepped his pegged leg upon the wooden bulwark.  “Now give us a push and climb aboard.”  He sent a thick white rope raveling down the side of the ship.  It was a good thirty feet for me to climb.

“Did you just tell me to give you a push?”

“Rightly so lad.  Now quit your lollygagging and push us off this wretched beach.”

I chuckled to myself and put my hands on the center beam.  That was the moment I thought to myself that the boat felt way to real to be a dream.  But I pushed anyway.

And the boat moved.

(I could have ended it here, and left the rest of the story to the reader's imagination, but here is what I created)

“Damn your peg leg!”  I shouted at Lazarus.  We had about a hundred fathoms to go before we reached the Red Sea, and that was all we would need.  From there Mary would find us.  She had never let us down before.

What a crazy adventure.  We had the treasure:  the hulking chest, which we carried on two acacia poles that ran the length of each side.  We had sailed halfway around the world, braved the weather, disease, the REAL pirates.  Our crew had grown as large as forty-four, but now it was just me and the Captain; as it had been when this journey had begun many days ago on that wretched Florida beach.  We had the single greatest treasure in our hands; the secrets to eternal life would finally be confirmed.  We just had to get it out of Africa and share it with the world.  The Ethiopians had been telling the truth.  They had held the Ark for centuries.  And only Captain Lazarus was brave enough to go after it.

Bullets continued to whiz by my head.  Lazarus was running as quickly as he could, but his peg was slowing us way down.  I should have drove the truck into the water.  I thought we could cross the beach on foot.  Mary had turned her sails and was rushing forth, but her powers ended at the water line.  I felt a painful burning sensation tear through my right leg.  One of the Ethiopian soldiers had finally decided to aim and not just fire their AK’s wildly into the air.  The pain was intense and I momentarily fell to my right knee.  The Ark shifted and we could hear the loud thumping of two heavy objects inside the wooden chest.

Lazarus, incredibly, began to laugh.

“Quick your lollygagging.”

“I just got shot!”

“Leave the Ark.”

“Leave it?”

Lazarus had already dropped his end and he grabbed me.  The loud report of gunfire echoed around us.

“Yes lad, before you get killed.  Or I get killed.  I’ll have another go at this.  But you got me the closest I have ever been.  Let’s get to Mary and get you home.”

“But,” I tried to argue, but he was dragging me effortlessly to the water.  Mary was waiting patiently, her starboard side facing us and a rope ladder strung over the bulwark.  That was going to be a pain to climb with a shot leg.  And then it dawned on me.

“The cannons,” I said as I gazed at their menacing iron barrels protruding from the gun deck.

“Takes a crew to fire ‘em,” Lazarus argued.  “And we’re the only crew.”

“She won’t fire them?”

Lazarus just chuckled.  “Not Mary.”  We had reached her side.  “She be a peace bearing ship lad.  She won’t fire those cannons.  I don’t even think she likes ‘em in her belly, but she can’t help that right now.  Up the ladder, come on with you.”

I began to climb.  Mary bore out to sea as soon as both the Captain and I had our hands on the ladder.  I stole one look back to our treasure, which was now surrounded by Ethiopian paramilitary members.  They had stopped firing.  They had the Ark back in their hands.  But I had touched those poles.  I had seen the golden cherubim with my own eyes.  I had heard the thud of Moses's stone commandments within the wooden chest.  I had felt the weight of centuries old mystery and myth in my hands.  I had felt the weight of the world on my shoulders as we had carried the Ark from the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion under fire as our crew engaged those selfishly guarding the greatest secret in the world.

Lazarus was right.  He would have another go at it.  The guy had couldn't die, unless his death came by the hands of man.  He was immune to age and disease, forever frozen in time, ever since Jesus had brought him back long ago.  But Lazarus was wrong if he thought he would be doing it without me.  There’s a reason he picked me.  We just had to find a better crew.  We’d be back.  The treasure would be ours and the worlds soon enough.  We would need a new map.  The Ethiopians were sure to relocate the Ark now.  But the treasure would remain the same.  We just needed to find a new first mate, a new crew, all who were waiting unexpectedly on a lonely beach somewhere in the world.  I smiled and breathed in the fresh salty air, thinking back to that day when Lazarus and Mary had appeared out of the clear blue.  I'm so glad I had said I was in.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Hello Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans!  Although this is late, I wanted to get in a quick blog.  On Fridays I usually give my review for this week's new Glee episode, but last night was a rerun, so I got caught up on the final season of The Office.  I haven't been the most faithful Office fanatic in the last couple seasons but when they announced this would be the final season, I have dove in head first and have been catching every amazing episode.  The Office is a show that I have found people either love or hate.  It took me until the third season to get hooked, and that was by catching the early episodes being rerun daily.  You have to start from the beginning to really appreciate the brilliance of the American version (The Office originated from a British version which was Ricky Gervais's career launching point).  The show is full of fun, creative characters who constantly get in crazy and outlandish situations.  I never would have thought working at a paper company would be so fun and interesting, but the amazing writers brought that world to life in a stroke of timeless brilliance.  The Office is one of the great sitcoms that will always have a strong cult-like following and will exist in daily classic reruns like Seinfeld, Friends, Everyone Loves Raymond, and Arrested Development, etc.  I must say that I am going to really miss The Office and it's band of colorful characters.  There should be about eight episodes left, unless they stretch this last season out a little longer.  They are hinting at some major events that will most likely unfold to close out the series.

So, this late post got another unexpected delay when my arm got pinned under my sleeping toddler.  That being said, I have to call it a night.  I'll see y'all here tomorrow for the Weekly Writing Prompt.  It seems to be a fun one!  Have a great Friday night!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Thursday!

Hello Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans!  I missed posting yesterday and feel this could be the new norm.  I'll discuss it in better detail in my personal blog here.  Also, in that blog, I inadvertently shared the story that I had mentioned I would be sharing today when I described our weekend happenings.  I shared our experience catching our first performance at SAV's local theatre, the historic Savannah Theatre.  Open and running continuously since 1818, it is a must-do when visiting this beautiful city.   But, to avoid being redundant, I'll leave my description of the show we saw, and the venue, in my previous post on my personal page.

Which leaves me to discuss the writings of some amazing programs I caught this weekend and the beginning of the week.  National Geographic brought Bill O'Reilly's best-selling historical depiction to life in Killing Lincoln.  After viewing the show, and the in-depth research done by O'Reilly, I almost regret not buying and reading the book, and I was almost tempted to buy Killing Kennedy, but I heard from a friend that NatGeo is working on that program next.  So I'll just watch the show on cable, that way I don't put any of my money directly in O'Reilly's pocket (although after seeing what major historical murder he is tackling next, I may finally be buying an O'Reilly book...).  However, I do recommend Stephen King's 11/22/63, and the thorough research King did on Lee Harvey Oswald.  I enjoyed the way King brought life to Oswald and tried to make the world understand how political fanaticism can drive a man to do monstrous things.

Also on NatGeo this week was the launch of the first-hand accounts and video following Air Force Pararescue in Afghanistan.  Now, if you are a follower of my personal blog you might realize why I would hold this show close to my heart.  While there isn't really writing involved in this program, Inside Combat Rescue, I highly recommend it, so that more people can learn and see what our most elite members of the military are doing overseas, day in and day out.

The Following continues to thrill and the plot just seems to get thicker and thicker.  I honestly cannot wait for next Monday's episode.  Again, if you're not watching this show, jump on the website and get caught up! It really is an incredibly well-done network show.  And Fox just can't lose in our house.  They are the only channel we watch during the week.  The Following on Monday night, New Girl and The Mindy Project on Tuesday nights, American Idol has won my "significant other" over to fill Wednesday night as I hit the gym, and on Thursday, there is Glee, of course.

Before I leave you for the day (I'll get back to sharing pages of TSS next week) I want to provide a link to half of The Daily Show's opening bit.  While I always enjoy all of Jon Stewart's programs, Tuesday 2/19, had an amazing opening.  You can view it here.

Thanks for reading and I'll hopefully see y'all here tomorrow!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

And I'm Back!

Hello Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans!  I must apologize for our lengthy delay in posts here.  We had a guest in town and decided to give her our undivided attention, plus I started a new part-time job, but that is all explained in my personal blog here.  The rest of the week should be back to business as usual.  Tomorrow I'll break down a handful of brilliant television shows I've watched the last couple days and give my reviews of them.  Thursday I have a special experience to share with y'all.  And by Friday, we should be all caught up!  This Saturday, I'll have my Weekly Writing Prompt out-ON SCHEDULE.  Which brings us to today, and the first step in catching up:  sharing the late Weekly Writing Prompt from  First poem they have assigned, and mine's pretty basic, so don't expect anything deep here.  Just a lot of rhyming.  I'll see y'all tomorrow.  Have a great start of the week!

The Prompt:

"Write a Valentine’s Day poem of no more than 20 lines about spending a Valentine’s Day all by yourself. The only rules are that it must rhyme and the final line of the poem must include the title of your favorite song."

The Poem:

Here it is, yet another Valentine's Day.
Which some may say
Alone is a cruel, cruel way
To spend this loved filled day.
But in truth, I'm really okay.
I mean, just think of all the money I will not pay,
Just to better my chances to lay
Down with someone who could easily stray
Far, far, far away.
This holiday is so cliche,
A card, some chocolate, and a nice bouquet.
Maybe some sexy lingerie
That is a little risque,
To set the mood for a little foreplay
With a stunning body I can survey,
And with every inch I will portray
My love for the right lucky lady who will stay,
But won't try to mold me like clay
Because I was "Born This Way."

Friday, February 15, 2013


Happy Friday Bloggers and THE SAVANNAH SYNDROME (TSS) fans.  Well, as some of you may know, I had entered TSS into Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  And if you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I had dedicated much of my heart, and faith, in making it through to AT LEAST the third round, where TSS would have had a free review from Publisher's Weekly, which in terms of free marketing, is HUGE!  So, subsequently, to say that I was crushed to find out my pitch for TSS doomed the project in the initial round of judging, is an understatement.  I was devastated, lost, destroyed, and ready to give up.  Writing that is.  Then I started checking out the competition.  The way ABNA lists the results is somewhat cruel.  They post the winners in one big pdf file and you have to scroll down to see if your name made the list.  No email congratulations, just checking the list like we're back in high school rushing to the bulletin board to see if we made the school play or not.  So, it did take me a few minutes to even have the courage to scroll to the J's since authors were listed by first name.  There was only one Jason and it wasn't I.  Then I read later in the day that people were discovering that their work was listed but under a different author, which was causing all sorts of confusion in the discussion forums.  This gave me momentary respite from the overwhelming sense of disappointment as I changed tactics and scanned the 2,000 listings in all five genres for TSS.  Still no luck.  I started a new discussion thread to try to drum up communal support from all those who didn't make it, for us to weep together, share our works, and hopefully help spread the word on each others projects.  I also "liked" the FACEBOOK page one hopeful author created the night before to be a rallying point for those not selected, which should have been about 8,000 of us.  That page only got seventeen likes, and despite sharing my Amazon page several times, I garnered no extra sales, which I have come to expect.  I'm not willing to shell out a few bucks for an unproven author, so I really can't expect someone to do the same to me.  Especially when we're all feeling the bitter burn of being rejected so early.

So that was me Wednesday.  My daughter is still sick, so the two of us sat around and moped all day.  Then I worked yesterday and had to fill out paperwork to be able to start orientation for my old stomping grounds, and that brought me even lower yesterday afternoon.  But I kept calm and have decided to carry on.  This was only one contest and while the payout was the biggest I have ever seen, and absolutely free (Writer's Digest has a "Best Self-Published Novel" competition, but it requires a $100 entry fee...).  There will be more contests, and now I can shop the book openly to agents.  I'll have to do some endless self-promoting, and started to research the best places to promote self-published novels.  None of the good avenues are free.  But there's still hope.  And most of the time, hope is all you need.

So, to those who have been following, thank you.  No more countdown.  I'll continue to share TSS and my views on everything else that has to do with writing when I can.  I'm starting a new job next week and I may need a week or two to adjust to the new schedule (going back to working nights!).  Follow my personal blog here.  Tomorrow's Weekly Writing Prompt is fun and quick, writing poetry for the first time!  Without further ado, here is page eighteen of TSS.  Y'all have a great Friday!

"not even hear the wind.  She tuned it out, tuned out the normal rustling of leaves and branches to focus on the more important sound.  That sound, the sound of a snapping twig under an alien weight hit her ears, much too close for her comfort.
She was in the woods in a heartbeat, her sneakers hitting the thick brush before the sounds of her fishing rod and bucket bouncing on the walkway could chase her down.  She did not scout out her route, did not look to the direction of the sounds of snapping twigs and crumbling leaves, she just ran.  There were at least four intruders behind her.  She could smell them now.  The thick smell of sweat and the stench of evil.  She ran as fast as she could.  Her eyes sought out the obstacles ahead of her, a root here, a low branch there, her marked trail to the left, which she rounded and behind her she heard the sound of her trap door giving way and then screams as one of her assailants found the sharp, deadly arrangement of spikes at the bottom of the six foot trap.  The other three fell into a straight line now; they knew to follow her close, not to veer off the path she cut.  They were smarter than she had anticipated.  She vaulted between two stretching oak limbs, the top thick with green moss and lichen.  As she passed it between her left hand reached out and hit a slanted branch, removing the brace to the row of short, sharp spikes that turned directly into the closest chaser.  His screams were so close it caused her to jump forward and dig deep into her strength to push herself harder.  Her legs burned, she had never run so hard in her life.  She estimated that there were only two left.  She knew they were too fast for her to outrun in the open field.  She also knew she just had to get to the moat.  They would not follow her into the water.   And if they did she would take them there.  She just had to get to the moat, but she didn’t think she had the speed, nor the energy left to carry her across the hundred meters or so to get her there.  She would have to face them out in the open.  She began to pull her machete from her back as she emerged from the brush.  Big mistake.
She was hit hard from the side.  This assailant was not like the four chasing her.  He lacked a solid stench.  She rolled"

The Historic Lighthouse on Tybee Island, GA.