Update and ArmadilloCon

I was at ArmadilloCon 2018 this past weekend. Didn’t stay for the whole event, but I got in on the critique panel, and got a short story of mine reviewed! Got some really great advice for it all around.

I plan on finishing up another short story this month and then I’m back to revising Spymancer again.

Hope all of you readers are doing well (and I hope this post comes out nice looking because I’m doing this on my phone). I hope remember to post something else before this month is over. Haha!

Sincerely,

Philip Hauser

I Wrote An Article on Writing Process for TLDR Press! [Link]

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This article was definitely a lot of fun to write! It’s been awhile since I’ve had to really think about how I go about writing a story, so this was certainly a fun exercise. Sarah Linders, as well as TLDR Press are to thank for providing the platform for me to sound off on this particular subject (as well as encouraging me to write the article in the first place). I’ll provide the link below, but you should definitely check out their stuff since their work and published anthologies all go to several different charities around the world! Thank you for giving this a read!

Article Link

Nocturnal Musing [1]

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So it’s been three months since started this little adventure and I’ve been loving the outreach and experiences that I’ve gained so far. Going back to my first few posts I remembered what I was feeling back then and how nervous I was when I posted my excerpt of Con Job and my first poetry review of Ghost in the Shell. I was nervous about it because I mostly thought I was giving the world the ammunition it needed to prove that I was a freak all along and that no one would be into that stuff. However, I kept going; I wrote more blog posts, a sort-of essay about how difficult it is to be prescient as a writer, my trepidation over the possibly popularity of the live action Ghost in the Shell, and then later the review that blew all those assumptions out of the water in one fell swoop.

Then I started Austin By Night, and that’s when things really took off. I can say that my greatest achievement thus far has been the fact that my visitor counts doubled in not only April, but also in May. Two months of exponential growth! THAT is something.

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I can’t be thankful enough to the people on WordPress along with my subscribers here on this site, as well as the wonderful local community of writers in my city, my home, Austin, Texas. There are many writers on twitter and their openness and willingness to help me make me a better writer have been invaluable. And there are those who are not online, but have also helped in immeasurable ways (and you know who you are and I am eternally grateful).

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I think I’m lucky that I live in a pretty cosmopolitan city that is willing to embrace and support artists like myself. Not an easy thing to be, especially in the American South, but Austin definitely deserves the accolades. Now that I’ve seen what it takes to make it as a writer, I hope to spread the signal further through here and out there.

So, what’s next? Well, I’m working on a novel right now, which I’ve posted an excerpt of over a month ago. That novel has been my off-site project as well as what I do here, along with twitter and youtube. I’ll still be posting videos and continuing the Austin By Night series for the foreseeable future and I hope you’ll still around to see the other projects that I have coming down the artistic pipe-line. Once again, thank you for your support, your subscriptions, and continue to spread the signal. In the end, it’s all up to us! See you soon!

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Austin By Night – Cassandra [Layer 7]

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It takes less than an hour to secure the medical equipment to properly conduct the procedure. I waited in the hotel room for the two other contractors to show up with the rest of the “props” that would finish this task and allow me to get back to my condo before sunrise.

One of my cell phones started to ring and I flip it open to answer.

“Yes?” I ask.

“Did you just order a cleaner to help wrap up your job?” It’s Kimberly, at least that’s what she calls herself.

“Yeah, I have a defector that’s about go into the deep sleep,” I tell her.

“God, I just found some asshole snooping around one of our offices at the Austonian, earlier,” she tells me, “I had to burn the body on the roof earlier. Somebody’s been talking.”

“I’m not paid to speculate, Kimberly,” I tell her.

“No, Cassandra,” Kimberly tells me, “but we are paid to keep our employers happy.”

“Uh-huh,” I say as I take the syringe of dioxin, and plunge the needle into the neck of the defector, while keeping a hand on his pulse, “did your intruder have anything on them?”

“He had his phone on him, the idiot,” says Kimberly, “I traced the only number in the cell’s memory to some parking lot outside a hotel in the downtown area, but they split before I could send a hit team over there. I can pull something off the surveillance cameras, though, if you help me.”

I keep my fingers on the defector’s pulse. I can feel it starting to slow down.

“Possibly,” I tell her, “it’s not exactly my expertise.”

“Do you have another job lined up after this?” asks Kimberly.

“Maybe,” I tell her, “it’s not clear yet.”

The pulse gives a few more slow, thumping beats and stops. The defector is dead.

“Let me know as soon as you find something,” says Kimberly, “I have a feeling this job may start to stop paying as well as it once did.”

“Will do,” I sign off and close my phone shut.

The body is limp as I stay with it inside a dimly lit hotel room that is facing Oltorf Drive in East Austin. I wait until the people I’m expecting open the door, but it is just the woman tonight. She’s dressed in a white pants suit and has blond hair. She looks much older than I do, as if she’s just aged by an extra ten years on this night alone. I can see so many new wrinkles around her cheeks and eyes.

“Sorry, my husband can’t make it,” she tells me, “He’s still trying to negotiate his release from house arrest.”

“You’re late,” I tell her.

“There was an incident at the Austonian and my son was there.” she says, as she sighs and puts her white, leather purse down, “there’s police everywhere right now.”

“How is your son?” I ask her, not really caring, but trying to feel more human than what the pills have done to me.

“Not good,” she says shaking her head and pulling out an orange bottle of labelled prescription medication, “he had to be sent home. It’s frustrating when your own flesh and blood can’t do the job you trained him for.”

I take the bottle of pills with my gloved hand and look at it.

“This man,” says the woman, “I made sure his medical records were altered to state that he had a history of heart problems.”

“Was he a loner?” I asked.

The woman looks down and raises her eyebrows.

“A loner?” she repeats the question as if it bears repeating at all, “he’s just some punk like the rest of them. Like all those other lefty ingrates who don’t know how to make a real buck in this world.”

I look up at the woman and see that she’s serious and I can’t help but raise my eyebrow at her.

“I suppose you’re right,” I tell her.

Author’s note: you can find the other chapters here at the Austin By Night page.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

Cashier Confessions [Hard Drive Archive]

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“Yeah, you laugh now. But the government is burying nuclear isotopes all over the country, and they’re going to blow them all up and take us with them. And then Al Gore is going to be living underground with the Devil with his super babies that are gonna live for 1,000 years. Yeah, Al Gore’s gonna be living fucking fat, while we burn on the surface with the Illuminati kill drones hunting us day and night. You think about that next time you watch the news.”

“Um…Yeah, that’s going to be $1.23, sir.”

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

Austin By Night – Art [Layer 6]

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“I have to make a phone call,” says Molly, her voice in a panic as she continues to look at my screen and dial her phone. Her contact had disappeared off the grid right before our eyes and the chances that he might have been black bagged have become pretty real to us. Molly starts to pace in front of me in the parking lot, while I sit here with my laptop. We continue ignoring the cops that are nearly fifty yards away and she’s biting her nails.

“Ohhhh fuck…” she looks down at her phone, now thoroughly pissed off.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I can’t get to my other contact,” she yells at me, “he might be walking into a trap!”

“Where is he? I can pull him up using the IR system,”

“The Austonian,” she tells me.

I look up at the tall, blue and white lit, skyscraper that lords over the rest of the night skyline in its cylindrical brilliance. For a moment I start to wonder just how many more guys she has on call to do these kinds of jobs.

“Give me a sec’,” I tell her, and I make a few quick keystrokes to pull up the IR and CCTV cams within the building.

My laptop freezes for a moment as it processes the command (and reminds me to upgrade the processor) and I’m flooded by nearly a hundred digital windows full of live feeds that are monitoring the Austonian inside and out. The two-month-old backdoor that I had installed within the serves of the private security firm Grande International was starting to pay its dividends.

“Where is he?” I ask Molly.

“He’s inside one of the condos,” says Molly, “He’s trying to pull something from a PC.”

I type another set of keystrokes that organizes the feeds in a horizontal order and start rapidly swiping with my finger. I feels as if I’m flipping through physical files, one folder after another as each feed appears for a moment before folding itself back into the digital pile and moves to the left of the screen as I replace it with another swipe in my search for Molly’s second man.

“Stop!” she shouts.

We end up looking at a feed shoot from a surveillance camera perched on a high corner of a guy in a white and chrome furnished pent house condo with the lights off. He’s wearing all black and a ski mask as he types away trying to break a password on a desktop PC, via some laptop intrusion deck that he has hooked into the desktops tower.

“Holy shit,” Molly breathes out, “We need to get him out of there.”

“The phones not working?” I ask

“No, someone is blocking the signal,” she says, panicking again, “can we get sound on these things?”

“No, the feeds aren’t equipped with microphones,” I tell her, my pulse starting to race. I know that something bad is about to happen.

The man in the ski mask stops typing and looks up from his deck. He takes his hands off the keyboards, raises his hands and turns around. He then jerks back and falls over against the table, red mist exploding and staining the computers with his blood behind him. He gets shot once again, doubles over, and falls on the ground.

“Molly,” I ask, my voice trembling, “what the hell have you gotten us into?”

We watch the screen, stunned into silence as we see a woman walk into view of the camera. She’s a brunette and is wearing business clothes, black leather gloves and is carrying a silenced pistol. She fires one last shot at the guys head and looks at the body for a moment before bending down and looking through his pockets. We see her take out his phone and flip it open as she takes out a cord from her belt and plugs it into the phone: a tracer. We watch her dial a number using the man’s cell and my heart stops.

I look at the phone in Molly’s hand and we both freeze as it starts to ring. Phone number: unknown.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

 

Austin By Night – Cassandra [Layer 2]

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The sky is a pitch black nothing that carries in with it a cold wind. I cannot move my body, but I can hear waves rolling towards and away from me; a deafening tide. I lift my head to see the ocean in front of me, but it is not a body of water coming towards me, but waves of shattered glass rolling into me like giant blobs of sharp fractals. The tide hits my feet and the sting of the glass edges hitting my body can be felt as the tide rolls in and cuts into my feet and legs with and recedes again. I try to move, but my body simply will not budge. Then I hear the screaming.

The burned corpses, chard and black, crawl towards me on the beach. They are girls that somehow know me, who scream and curse my name in the tongue from the old country where I came from. They weep as they get closer, flames rising from their bodies. They grab a hold of me and claw at me. I begin to shake in fear, trying to scream as loud as they do, but I can’t. Then I look ahead and see a wave, another blob of shattered glass that will engulf us all and…

I wake up.

I’m inside my coffin: it’s cramped, claustrophobic, the only light is a screen showing me a live feed of my room. No one is inside. The ghosts are trying to get inside me again. The coffin may not protect me anymore. I may have to use a thicker coffin in the future. I press a button and the coffin slides open.

I’m back in the same place I’ve woken up to in the past eighteen months: a dark, empty, spacious room, with one of the walls replaced by a single large window overlooking the Long Center and downtown Austin. It’s 9p.m. local time. The only lights coming into the empty condo are the lights of the city beyond the trees.

The phone rings, one of twelve scattered on a towel on the far corner of the condo with several chargers and a zip-lock bag full of SIM cards. I get out of my coffin and follow the faint ring all the way to the one lite phone among the dozen and answer it.

I use the Texas accent I’ve been perfecting over the past year in order to blend in with some of the locals. Presumably, not authentic Austinite anymore, but still Texan by most standards.

“Tech support,” I answer, “how may I help you tonight?”

“Is this Cassandra?” the man asks.

“Speaking,”

“There’s a server that needs to be wiped clean,” says the man, “Malware infection,”

“Can I get its location?” I ask.

“Coordinates are being sent to you, now,”

“And payment?”

“Wire transfer,” the man answered, “the Caymen account. An asset will be waiting for you at the location.”

“Thank you,” I hang up the phone.

I check another phone where the GPS coordinates have been sent. It’s at Walnut Creek Park, just north of Austin. I know of that place: very dark, very secluded at night, the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods know to stay away. All of these choices by my employer make one thing clear to me: somebody they no longer trusted was about to die.

I changed my clothes, and look in a mirror while I watch myself take one pill after another, and swallow them with a glass of two day old water out of a measuring cup. I grab my duffle bag containing my hit kit and code the door to set me out and lock the place up behind me. As I close the door, I can see one of the girls in my dream standing next to my coffin.

The pills do not seem to be working anymore.

Copyright © 2017 Philip N.R Hauser

A Morning Jog With The Zeitgeist [Analysis]

I don’t have to tell you that the world is going through a bit of weirdness right now. Though, if you weren’t surprised by either the election of Donald Trump, or the latest revelations on Global Warming, or the advent of 3-D printed guns, or the Alt-right weaponizing internet memes, or Russia’s meddling in the U.S elections, or the creation of Wikileaks, or the revelations of Edward Snowden, or ghost cities in China, or even this event of strangeness, you might want to stop reading this blog and become an investment banker or leave town before your get burned for being a witch.

This strangeness has been noted by famous surrealist and cyberpunk author William Gibson in a recent interview stating that “the current situation has a current of goofy incoherence,” which is true, if not understated by the overall shittiness of recent events. Though Gibson brings this up as a man of his profession, which is writing, which seems to have become only more difficult lately. One has to be pretty tapped into the current mood and events of the world. The zeitgeist as it is often called is considered by most pop-culture seer hunters to be the catch-all to be anything and everything involving humanity’s culture in the current moment. In the world of entertainment artists, musicians, writers, and directors didn’t necessarily need a crystal ball to tap into the zeitgeist, but often times it certainly helped. Increasingly, however, as more and more pop culture stuff has crowded the entertainment space demanding our attention, that ability to predict the future through art and fiction has become the one X-factor that has proven to be a sure fire way for an artists to be elevated a step above the rest of the crowd. Unfortunately, with the zeitgeist becoming less predictable and more clowns shoes than ever, that ability to be prescient through art has become more difficult to pull off now more than ever.

The internet doesn’t seem to help things by much either, since it has also accelerated the news cycle to where we can’t really pause for more than a few days before the next breaking story or outrage hits us. Our friends and followers can hit us with breaking news on our social media feeds in the morning and it’ll be propelled into the 24-hour news cycle by lunchtime.

For me, the process is exciting, but exhausts me just as quickly as it used to when I was a adolescent information hound that soaked up the digital world like media starved cretin coming out of his cave for the first time. The Zeitgeist — ageless and indifferent to time — has evolved to keep a quick and steady pace; and with some tired resignation on my part, I’m forced to keep up.

Which is why every once in awhile, I have to catch the Zeitgeist on its jogging route and be willing to run with it while I ask it a few questions. Questions that I’m sparing with because I tend to run out of breathe eventually and the Zeitgeist has no interest in stopping, because the rest of world doesn’t want to either. The Zeitgeist is polite enough to answer my questions, but you can tell its sort of rushed for time and you can’t really blame it (though its gotten really good at running in those clown shoes).

I do recall reading how artists, particularly authors, would invite the Zeitgeist for lunch or coffee and discuss with it current events, the state of the world, and where we’re heading. It sounds nice, almost quaint, and it makes me a bit envious that the Zeitgeist had the time back then to sit down and actually chat for leisurely hour or two. However, it’s a waste of time to even be upset about such a thing, since I’m, presumably, the ones of millions of millenials who enabled this kind of fast-pace info-culture to happen in the first place.

It’s also worth remembering that us millenials came of age during a time that included the collapse of the Soviet Union, the founding of the internet, the unabomber, 9/11, the war on terror, the rising consensus on global warming being a man-made phenomenon, social media, the crash of 2008, China rising as a global superpower, the election of the first black president, and the election of Donald Trump. All of these things were seemingly unbelievable, inconceivable, and anyone who tried to argue otherwise was thought of as a weirdo or viewed with the upmost suspicion. One should also remember that, just like us, the Zeitgeist can only be as reactive as we are, for we control how weird and how adaptive the Zeitgeist truly is.

Perhaps at one point we’ll learn to slow down, or will be forced to out of some unforeseen sense of necessity. We’ll learn to take a break from the crazily, infinite barrage of outrage and information to stop and smell the roses. Maybe then the Zeitgeist can stop its infinite jog, take off the clown shoes and come to visit for a nice lunch with a side of latte. We can only hope.