Saturday, December 2, 2023

A Feverish Telegram From Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara

Earlier this week, I received the following text from Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara: "I've got COVID. Every time I publish a book, I get COVID."

Ed Calkins is referring to his bout of COVID two years ago at this time of year when I was editing "Ruthless," his first BryonySeries novel. 

I am currently editing "The Fifth," second book in his "ruthless" trilogy, which he wants to release by Calkins Day. So our Calkins Day celebration this year would be a book release party, too.

Now the "telegram" was the blog post I received from Ed the following day. Ed's wife Nancy had already updated me on his true condition (he was pretty sick).

I'm actually amazed that Ed wrote anything. He's a far more determined writer than I'll ever be. I'm in awe, actually.

Below is the feverish post Ed wrote for this blog early into his illness. I'm sure we've all experienced something like this.

Dear MOMI,


 Sometimes I get tired of being a ruthless dictator with covid and trying to pretend that it was getting infected with the disease by droplets rather than finishing a novel and sending it to the editorial process. Actually, I could live with the ruthless dictator part, it’s the covid I can’t stand. Being as feverish as I got might have given me some clarity as to which Ed Calkins I am. Obviously, vampires do not contract covid. But the clarity I crave was muddled in a waking nightmare of sorts.


 For the first few days, every time I closed my eyes, (which was all the time), I saw chess pieces in a game that I couldn’t stop playing. In every class I was clearly ahead but the broad made no rational sense (something kind of important to the game.) I would make moves trying to put the game at an end but there always seemed to be too many pieces for where the opponent’s king was. I’d make a move and a piece I didn’t notice would block it. My head was hurting in multiple migrating places, and I only wanted to shut my mind down and go to sleep. But the game kept going and the ‘checkmate’ eluded me.


 After countless hours of misery, I decided the answer was to lose the game. That’s when I noticed the strangest thing of all. My side had no king. Without a king, I couldn’t be checkmated. Since there was no opponent to resign to, the only way the game could end was a stalemate. A stalemate only happens when there are no legal moves, something impossible when pieces just materialize.


 On the second night my wife fixed it all. It was late at night, nearly eight o clock when I must have dosed off still in this terrible unending game. My wife was sleeping next to me, something she was warned not to do, but you know how lovebirds are. Anyway, she must have heard my complaint of a reappearing knight that I kept capturing and recapturing.


 “No chess pieces in bed,” she muttered, still sleeping. It sounded like an order. Chess, even imagined chess, requires pieces, imagined or real. I fell instantly asleep.


“To sleep perchance to dream.” Dream I did. I was in the science fictional world of Star Trek. I was the captain of the starship Enterprise. We were surrounded, outgunned and outnumbered in a hopeless battle against enemy dreadnoughts. A sense of doom was undeniably overwhelming.


Of course, it was I that changed everything. I ordered my communications officer to open a channel to every alliance captain and crew. Then I gave my memorable speech. I imagine you’ve already heard it. I don't think you have but I do imagine you did. With red sirens blaring and lights flashing I stood tall and told all who served. “Ask not what those dreadnoughts can do to you. Ask what you can do to those dreadnoughts.”


Everything changed after that. Did we win the battle? Weren’t you listening? I told you the battle was hopeless. But with everyone so focused on what they could do to those dreadnoughts, no one seemed to notice the Enterprise drifting to the edges of the mechanical carnage. As soon as we could go to warp, we punched it to get as far away for the battle. One of my Orion crew members was able to hack into the credit accounts of the ships that had fallen, which was all of them except us. Some of them had vacation time on Risa, an interstellar vacation destination, a cross between Disney World, Jamaica, and Las Vegas.



Of course I woke up and I wish I hadn't. I wish I was still a on the beach with the sun on my skin, a vixen on my lap, and a drink in my hand, spending some dead captains credits and trying to figure out some way to explain all of this to Starfleet Command when those credits were exhausted. My fever peaked at that point. 102.4. I was stuffy, dizzy, achy, and miserable. I still hadn't figured out what to tell my commanding officer should I fall asleep again. The sun on my skin had been my fever, the vixen on my lap was a very nasty handkerchief, and I don’t know what the drink in my hand was, but I was about to throw it up.


You know how it is with fever, my body is hot, but I feel so cold. Hot/cold/winy…it fits somewhere. Like, if people were chess pieces, some would be hot bishops and the others cold. Bishops only move diagonally in checkerboard squares which means no matter if you a white piece or a black piece, you’re either a red bishop (too hot) or a black bishop (too cold). Each kind of bishop envies the other kind, thinking that the other complains too much. I bet they are not the only complaining pieces/people. Rook people can only go straight and are easily blocked. Knight people are slow moving and can’t only protect other pieces/people that aren’t next (close) to them. Pawn people…well you know. And what about queen people. Queens are the most powerful pieces/people on the broad but that play second fiddle to a slow-moving cowardly king people. What about king people, huh? They do the most complaining because the game should be all about them, but it’s not. Everyone know who Bobby Fisher was, but did the kings he used even have a name?


The though of breakfast makes me nauseous, but I vowed to be a good chess piece and put something down my throat without reminding my wife how miserable I am. Right now, I'm thinking that knight people are also the sneaky ones… the telemarketers of the world. It's hard to block a knight. Maybe going back to sleep wouldn't be the worst idea. No knight people can follow me into my sleep if I’m on the bed. What will I tell my commanding officer?


“I have no idea Sir. We were fighting bravely in battle, and we must have fallen into some kind of time continuum or subspace vortex or some other science thing that sounds unlikely but makes perfect sense once you've done the research.” The truth is they'll be happy to have a survivor of that terrible battle. As a king piece person, my command would be too tired of taking responsibility for the way the true powers that be move her.


COVID out.



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