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Sometimes we create fantasies because the reality isn’t worth facing. We create happy marriages when all we think about is running out the door. We glue something broken beyond repair in hopes that things will get better. We do this because the alternative is scarier than what we have.

After we split, I spent hours every day day dreaming that she’d come back. There were mornings I’d hear her trying to sneak into my room like she had in our college days. I’d feel her warm body curled beside only to find her side empty when I opened my eyes.

And I spent hours contemplating the outcome of “the talk” I had with V. How, in every scenario that played in my head, things turned out better than they did. Because I had this one right. I read all the signs correctly. In the end, I projected my feelings onto her and just read what I wanted to.

Maybe it’s time I stopped clinging to this maladaptive daydreaming and accept reality for what it is. Take charge of the things I can control. Focus on my return to writing, book/movie/television reviewing. So I dropped $60+ on a new theme. It was time to start fresh, you know?

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I present to you my modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It was written in less than two hours for work and recorded last week. There was no time to revise or edit the piece. I may revisit the story in the future and polish it a bit for a repost, but I make no promises. Please enjoy.

Once upon a time – just the other week – Rosita’s mother asked her to take a basket of goodies to her ailing abuela who lived on the other side of town. Because the weather was chilly, Rosita grabbed her favorite red hoodie sweater and set off. But before she can take one step out the front door, her mother asked, “Rosita, did you remember to take your cell phone?”

“Yes, mamá.”

“And what path are you taking to get there?”

“The path that runs straight through the park.”

“And what path are you going to avoid?”

“The path that runs through the woods.”

“Ok, be back before dinner. And please don’t spoil your appetite at abuela’s.”

“Yes, mamá.”

And off she went. When she reached the fork in the path, she had a decision to make. The path through the woods was quicker than that of the park. It was also more scenic. And she loved the smell of the flowers that blossomed in the autumn.

“I know mama warned me not to go into the woods alone, but this way I’ll get to spend more time with abuela.”

The choice was made. Rosita continued on into the woods.

It wasn’t long until she heard the thwack-thwack-thwacking of wood being chopped.

“Hello there,” a woodcutter said. “What are you doing here alone? Don’t you know that there are wolves lurking about?”

“I’m going straight to my abuela’s house to drop off this basket.”

“Seems simple enough,” the woodcutter said, “but should you encounter a wolf, don’t hesitate to call me.” And he passed along his business card.

Rosita pocketed the card and continued on. But the woodcutter was right. There were wolves lurking about and one happened to jump out of the bushes in front of her.

“Why hello there,” the wolf said. “The name’s Leonard D. Lobo and I must say that’s a mighty fine basket you have there. Mind if I take a peek at it?”

“It’s food and medicine for my abuela,” Rosita said.

“Hmm…” the wolf whispered. “How about I carry it for you?”

“It’s not heavy,” Rosita replied.

The wolf needed to get the basket from the girl, but he didn’t know how. And with a snap! It came to him.

“How about you go into the flower patch over yonder and pick some fresh flowers for your abuela? I’m sure she’ll love the idea.”

Rosita agreed, but held onto her basket. When he was sure she was out of earshot, the wolf whispered his plan to himself, “I’ll beat her to the house. Take grandma’s place in the bed and when this little red hoodie girl comes in with the basket, I’ll snatch it from her.”

It was a plan. But it wasn’t really a good plan, because little Rosita had one of her own. She knew the wolf’s game and she was ready to one up him. She patted her pockets for her phone.

Wolf did what he had set off to do. He put grandma in the closet and took her place in the bed. He’d just settled in when there came three strong knocks from the front door.

“Come in,” he said in his best grandmotherly voice.

In strode in a looming figure. Rosita was much taller than he had remembered.

“My you’ve gotten big,” the wolf gulped.

“It’s from eating right and exercising,” Rosita said as she took a step closer.

“And what big arms you have,” the wolf said.

“The better to grab you with,” said Rosita.

“And what…wait…did you say grab?”

And with that, the woodcutter lunged at the wolf, scaring the conniving canine out of the bed and out the window with the sounds of laughter trailing behind him.

Rosita and the woodcutter helped abuela out of the closet and settled her back into bed. And they all enjoyed the goodies packed within the basket.

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“Am I depressed because I’m single, or am I single because I’m depressed?” It’s a question I asked way too often.

I started listening to Mark Manson’s Love Is Not Enough. It was free on Audible – meaning it came with my subscription, no credit required to “purchase” – so why not?

It’s been two years since reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and I wanted to know what Mr. Manson had to say about romance. I recognize a lot of the traits presented in the interviews. From maladaptive daydreaming to grand gestures of affection, I embodied so many terrible habits when it comes to romance.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Normally, I wouldn’t put so much emphasis on my singleness. It doesn’t bother me on most days. Not much, anyway. There are moments that, sure, it would be nice to have someone whose shoulder I can rest my head on. There are plenty of times when it might be nice to cuddle up next someone while binge watching whatever new drug-addled TV show I’m watching.

So I’m trying to distract myself from that emptiness. Because my old coping mechanism has failed me – these blog posts and work stuff are the only writing I get done – I’m looking into new ventures.

Window shopping for a new computer for work purposes has become to window shopping for a camera. Specifically this camera: the Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless digital camera. There’s no rhyme or reason why specifically that camera, but it’s the only one holding my attention.

What will I do with said camera? Well, I have an idea:

The camera isn’t the only venture that’s floating across my mind. A couple of years ago, I also purchased a Blue Yeti microphone.* The idea was starting an audio project; however, the only thing I’ve used the mic for has been work related.

After much conversation, a coworker and I thought of making a podcast together. We worked together with a work project – one I didn’t write, but recorded and mixed – and we seemed to impress people by what we came up with.

I also created an account with ACX with the idea of recording indie audiobooks. However, there’s that fear that arises whenever I think about doing something outside of my comfort zone. What if my voice isn’t that great? I tend to stumble over words often. My voice gets lazy and drags through a sentence. When’s the last time I even tried to enunciate?

And here I am at the beginning again: “Am I depressed because I feel like I’m a failure, or am I failure because I’m depressed?”

*In case you’re wondering, the mic does a wonderful job. While it’s limited – I don’t know how, but a lot influencers have poo-poo’d it – I’ve recorded many a puppet show with this mic without issue. So stop listening to bleach blonde, frosted tipped morons and buy it.

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“I have a role to play.”

These words, said out loud before I have a moment to think about them, hover in the spaces between her lips and mine. My hands are tied above my head. My shirt unbuttoned. This is her need. A moment of control over something in her life.

She pulls away from me. She digs through her over-sized purse, pulling out a Zippo-style lighter and a vanilla-scented candle. She sparks the light and lights the wick. All I can do is stare at the dancing flame as she rotates the candle, making sure to get the wax ready.

How many times has she imagined this scenario in her head? I’m sure the person in it was in better shape. Better equipped to fulfill the need gnawing at her.

She tips the candle just enough for the wax to dribble down. I tense at the sensation. The burn.

“Are you usually this submissive?” she asks.

“I’m whatever you need me to be,” I say.

Her phone rings after. She sends it to voicemail before putting back into her purse. It rings again.

“You better answer it,” I say. “It could be your husband.”

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The Walking Dead will come to a close with its 11th season. Despite all its hiccups throughout the years, I managed to turn in every Sunday to watch the show. While most fans are mourning the lost, I’m content with the news.

Season 10 followed the Whisperer War with the still-to-be-aired season finale being the final battle between our heroes and those who walk among the dead. Those who read the comics know that the Whisperers were the final conflict Rick Grimes and company faced. While the Commonwealth were a threat, they were of another nature.

It’s still unknown if Eugene and company will encounter the Commonwealth in the season 10 finale. As we have seen so far, the series takes liberties when retelling the source material’s stories. There’s still room for speculation in that aspect.

I wondered where the show runner would take the series after the Whisperer War, but I had hoped the series would come to an end somewhere in the same fashion. Of course, it will have to happen without Rick and Carl Grimes’ fate as both characters are no longer in the television series.

There was some speculation on my part that Daryl would take Rick’s storyline (and thus his fate) and have to make the toughest decision of his life: Peace through the sacrificing of someone he trusts or continuing on the path they have for the last several years.

Because there are talks that Daryl and Carol will continue having adventures in a spin-off series, it’s safe to say that he won’t have to make that choice. Though, it does leave me wondering who will.

There’s still plenty of stories to tell within The Walking Dead Universe. AMC once promised a “decade plus” of The Walking Dead, after all.

The Walking Dead season 10 finale will premiere on October 4, 2020. Following the finale, the second spin-off and limited series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, will debut. Fear the Walking Dead’s sixth season will premiere on October 11, 2020.

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Like most people I let my imagination run wild when I first heard about the Dark Web – the seedier side of the Internet only accessible with a special browser like TOR.

Photo by Junior Teixeira from Pexel

A simple search on YouTube will uncover creepypastas, “true” stories of people venturing into the unknown, and mystery boxes purchased on the Dark Web. You’ll hear stories of people buying narcotics, hiring hit-men, and things only meant for the most depraved – Red Rooms and more. We built a monster out it. But are surprised by this outcome? After all, it was Lovecraft who said, The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” And what is more unknown than that which lurks behind the screen?

Curiosity – as it usually does – got the better of me. Before long I was searching through online forums in order to gain access to the Hidden Wiki – an online index of some of the more popular onion sites. As the page loaded, I didn’t know what I expected. My paranoia got the better of me. I taped the lens of my laptop’s webcam before entering.

When its secrets were presented before me, it was anticlimactic to say the least. Sure the links to hit-men existed. And yes, there were sites in which you could purchase drugs – at this time, the Silk Road was still operational. Links that sent you to cannibal cookbooks and one detailing human experimenting. Marketplaces for stolen credit cards and identities. And several links leading you straight to scams. Because on the Dark Web, it’s hard to trace a conman looking for his mark – the unsuspecting noob looking for a cheap (rather expensive, actually) thrill.

Netted: A Dark Web Horror Series Box Set by K. T. Rose

I didn’t, however, find links to any red rooms, a virtual urban legend where you can watch – even participate in – a person’s torture and eventual death at the hands of a sadistic executioner. Using bitcoin, you can have a man’s eyelids sliced off and salt poured on his face as he screams in agony.

While red rooms are stuff of urban legend, in Jessica Frey’s world they have become her escape. One in particular, however: The Silent Red Room Show. From a distance, Jessica began to admire Father Paul. He filled her fantasies, the man – the butcher – behind the mask. What she wouldn’t give to be part of that world. A world where you can put those who have tormented you on the hot seat. Strap them in and watch the master fillet them to an inch of their lives for the entertainment of strangers online. But this isn’t the only dark secret Jessica Frey carries with her. There are much darkness inside her and all she needs is a mentor like Father Paul to help her set it free.

Dale Tilson, on the other hand, is looking for a new beginning. Taking the advice of his younger sister, Diane, he’s making an attempt on a second chance. Using a dating app, he meets Marla at her place. But after a drink of wine, things begin to feel wrong for Dale. And only gets worse when Marla attacks him.

And so the story begins, a three-part saga written by K. T. Rose. A story where Dale Tilson and Jessica Frey are fated to encounter Father Paul and his Silent Red Room cult. The trilogy keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, while sprinkling a few silly name brand products and restaurant names.

Currently, the trilogy – The Beginning, Inside Out, and The Crash – are currently free to read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Or you can purchase all three as a set for $2.99.

On the other spectrum of the Dark Web, sits Moritz Zimmermann whose girlfriend, Lisa Novak, has returned from her trip abroad a completely different person. She’s hanging out with Daniel Riffert, the high school ecstasy dealer. In a brash attempt to win Lisa back, Mortiz buys – and blackmails – Daniel’s ecstasy supplier. When things go sideways, he’s only left with one thing to do – sell the drugs online. Fast.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. With a new found purpose in life, Moritz and company are thrown

One part Skins and one part Breaking Bad, How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) was a whirlwind of a series – both seasons are currently available on Netflix.

The only thing that got me on my nerves is the dubbing. Because the original series was German, the English voices and sync can be off putting. This is, of course, a superficial issue which I can ignore easily – sometimes.

While the Dark Web is shrouded in a created mystery, we can all agree that the best fruit it bears are the stories that come out of it. Until next time, keep on huntin’.