Caper Away Productions

Repeat

He feels the carpet beneath his bare feet. He scrunches his toes. Up and down, up and down, feeling the short fibers. He moves his shoulders up and down, now, small motions but then increasing in height as the opening beats of the song rise in volume. He closes his eyes, feeling the motion of his shoulders and the muscles of his back tensing and releasing beneath the fabric of his loose, buttoned up shirt. Each rise of toe and shoulders is timed to the beat. Starting to feel it, but not wanting to think it. The lone, repeating beat is joined by strings and then horns. This song feels old and yet sounds new. He does not know how music is made. He has never touched an instrument. He cannot articulate how music makes him feel or why it makes him feel. Foot goes back, arms go up, the tempo increases and he can’t make his legs move in the way he sees it in his mind. He stops. He rolls his shoulders and does a bob of the head to get back into the tempo. He feels the moment is right and starts a fraction too late. He returns to his first position. He checks himself in the mirror. He grimaces at the lankiness of his limbs and the swirl of broom bristle hair that never behaves. He moves his legs in a slow approximation of what he wants to accomplish and likes the way the loose legs of his trousers flow. He nods to himself. He closes his eyes. He breathes. He feels the beats playing along the surface of his mind, the repeated thumps and perfectly timed swirls teasing his limbs. Move. Move. He feels the spot. He enters the music. He missteps. He resets. He nods. He enters. He feels it. He loses it. He shakes his head. He hits a string of moves that feels right and in feeling it he is too aware and loses the feeling. He wipes sweat from his brow. He tries again. He tries too hard. He berates himself. He tries less hard. It works. For a moment. He restarts the song in order to restart himself. He closes his eyes and sees her. Lights of many colours chase shadows across her features. She is among a crowd and yet she is one. Her motions are small, restrained, and yet confident. There is little repetition to way she reacts to the music. To him she appears unaware of everything around her. She is fully in the music. His toes scrunch. He shoulders rise and fall. Sweat rolls down his back. He picks a spot. He enters. He fails. He resets. He sees her. He feels the gym wall against his back. He watches. He resets. He enters. He fails. He resets. He enters. He fails. He resets. He enters. He fails.

[A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

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Slippers

My slippers look like garbage. If someone were to find these in their yard, in their garage, or in their home they would pick one up gingerly with two fingers. Their face would be scrunched up in disgust, eyes pinched and nose wrinkled. They would examine this slipper in the same manner in which they would inspect a dead bird discovered in the shallow grass of a suburban alley. There is equal parts revulsion and curiosity. In the end, revulsion wins the day and the bird is dropped back into the grass. Hands are wiped on pants. The walk continues.

These slippers look like garbage when lying empty on the floor. These knitted, craft fair specials were once rich with contrasting colors. Black yarn amid light tan with the occasional brown. In parts, there is pattern, but in other areas the pattern is forgotten or perhaps mishandled. The effect reinforces that these slippers were made by hand. But now more than two years later the tans are not so tan– certainly not so brightly, freshly tan. There is a look of dirtiness about these foot warmers. This is justified since these have never been in the wash. Too likely to fall part.

Skin touches the floor even when in these slippers. A big hole worn through the left; a slightly smaller one in the right. Horribly stretched, these slide on the feet, twisting at the ankle when walking. Thus when worn these have a sloppy, unsightly appearance.

But oh so comfy. So comforting when more than the feet need comfort.

So these slippers shall endure.

slippers

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

Debris

Scattered across the carpet, a nonsense collection of small, block-bodied people, their accessories, and the building blocks of their civilization. A dozen projects half-started. Another dozen finished yet now partially dismantled, the choice bits mined for new projects. It’s easier to take what is on hand rather than sliding open the bins and fishing through the thousands of loose parts. Those bins– two bins, four-foot high with seven transparent drawers– stand beneath a lonely dartboard and its cork backdrop. Neither have felt the sting of a dart in eleven years. The same cannot be said for feet, which have often felt the darkness sting of hard, plastic blocks.

In the midst of the sea of plastic detritus there sits a pirate ship from another land of the licensed. It has one stiff sail, red with a yellow swoosh motif. A dragon’s head is its bowsprit. This toy trireme has six oars per side but these look more like fins. The body of the ship rests upon sizable squares of green, seemingly beached next to a squat home with an uneven red roof and the skeletal remains of a walking machine exiled from science fiction.  There is no sign of the carpet sailing vessel’s crew.

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

Pens

Pens in a plastic box. Two hinges that have not sealed properly since the box first opened. The label removed but a residue remains on the lid, slightly obscuring the contents if one was looking down at the box from above. Inside, the stock sorely depleted. Pens taken out carried to other parts of the house to be used and stored elsewhere. Inside, the remaining original occupants have been joined with other styles of pen and yet all lay together in a sort of harmony. Red gel. Blue gel. Ballpoint in blue and black. Click pens. Purple pens that have never been used are at the bottom of the pile and at the outermost edge the fanciest of the bunch– sleek red chassis with raised foam finger grips near the polished silver tip. Each pen is a note waiting to happen, a list not yet made, a story not yet written. Each pen is potential. Each pen waits.

Nearby there stands a pen-holder, a ceramic cylinder crafted to look like a ring of books– small books of odd shape, possessing a design but no words on the spine. Standing at all angles, emerging from the pen-holder like spines on an angry porcupine’s back, are chewed pencils, two wide highlighters– one pink, one yellow– a thin, blue marker, and a lone bookmark. These items are not potential like the pens. These items are rarely touched. Not forgotten. Just not used. One pencil wears a squinty-eyed monkey head eraser. The monkey looks unimpressed, as if it does not like its place among these unused tools.

[My warm-up for the week is writing about things I can see from where I write. A warm-up is 15 minutes of writing. No self-editing is the goal. Just 15 minutes hammering on the keys. After 15 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. Similar to my previous (abandoned) ritual called “20 Minutes.”]

Maps

A couple of weeks ago I drew three maps for a 5th edition D&D game. The first map was of a dungeon of sorts. The second was of an island stronghold. The third was the floor plan of one of the buildings of that island stronghold. It was a lot of fun to design these things on graph paper. I flipped through the 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide and The Book of Lairs for inspiration before getting started.

The process reminded me that in the good ole days I used to draw a map for each adventure undertaken by my friends. My binder filled with old school D&D material from the 1990s still contains all those hand-drawn maps.

One of the hand-drawn maps from my 1990s old school D&D days.

The above image shows about 25% of the map I drew for the “4th adventure”. It took the characters 23 days to complete the quest, which took place in the “winter”. (I always labelled the map afterward with the game time duration and the season during which it took place.) My maps never had a scale. Distance was never discussed from what I remember. In fact, I remember much later realizing that terrain should affect the amount of distance traveled in a day. Characters would travel as quickly across mountains as they would across plains or forest!

The maps also never contained a legend. I did use rather common iconography– triangles for mountains, tall tufts for plains, short tufts for swamp, and great blotches with bumpy edges to represent forest. Rivers were lines. The “railroad” looking lines are roads. The dashes show the route taken by the characters. I should mention all the shading on the map was provided by a player. Chris was in D&D for the fighting. During the storytelling moments he would shade the adventure’s map.

Since this was an ancient time before Internet was common in homes, I used fantasy novels for inspiration for my maps. I don’t ever remember copying maps completely from source material, but certain segments and place names look like those from novels I was reading at the time, including Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and numerous D&D and Forgotten Realms novels.  I recognize two things from this map. The first is “Castle de Caela”. The second is “Moat House”. Castle de Caela is obviously inspired by Castle di Caela, which was featured in the D&D novel Weasel’s Luck.  Moat House is also from that novel. It was the home of Galen Pathwarden. Agion (a centaur) and Sir Bayard Brightblade were also characters in that novel. My D&D players would encounter Galen Sath, a centaur named Agion, and a knight named Bayard in one of their adventures– most likely this 4th adventure because of the mention of Castle di Caela and Moat House. The path of the characters as marked on this map seems to suggest that the quest began at Moat House.

I do remember the adventure in which Galen, Agion and Bayard were introduced was not a successful one.  I seem to recall the straight-laced NPC Sir Bayard made all the decisions– that the players were basically “along for the ride”. I don’t remember if one of the players said something or if I could just read the table well enough to sense the frustration and / or boredom, but I do know I ended up killing Sir Bayard in a shocking twist. (He was found pinned to a wall by multiple swords and I remember one of the players [Jason] finding that particularly harsh. Jason might not have liked the character but he felt Sir Bayard did not deserve such a death.) A list of the players’ accomplishments organized by adventure has no listing for the 4th adventure, which I think strongly suggests this map is for that lackluster quest.

Galen and Agion were player characters for a period of time. I do believe Galen became an adopted son of sorts for Roger Gustoff and his female companion Zarine. I know Galen wasn’t used on all adventures. Neither was Zarine. (I’m sure there is more information in the binder about these two.) I can’t recall what happened to Agion. I feel like he was “retired”.

The Grim Collection





The Grim Collection is comics and short fiction by Chad Boudreau.
Art by various artists.
The Adrilles War is 40K fan fiction written by Chad Boudreau and others players in a local 40K campaign.

Web comic by Chad Boudreau and Owen Gieni, currently on hiatus, but check it out if you haven't already.