Blue Word of Happiness (from my Patreon page)


The voting is almost over for the Flash Fiction contest so I thought I would let you see my entry.  Theme was “crosswords”, hence the above image I pulled just for a graphic.

A Word in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

by Robert Garbin

The intensity of the sudden summer storm rattled windows at the old Brandstar Company while shifts were changing.  Lights flickered here and there throughout the complex as thunder shook the ground.  Bob Balleban saw Sheila Randling yawning as he punched in for his shift.

“Don’t get me started or it will be a long night for both of us!”

“Too late old man, I started yawning as soon as I heard you were here,” Sheila replied.

“Nice, I grace you every day with my charming presence and this is what I get!”

Shelia playfully swatted at the man she had worked with the past five years.  He was ten years older with a slim build and close cropped greying hair.  She was in her mid-forties and looked like your average young grandmother.

They walked in comfortable silence to the break room where they deposited their lunches in the company refrigerator.  Bob took time to start a fresh pot of coffee before they both exited.  Quiet dominated the production floor as the shift change occurred; however, the soft hum of equipment held back filled the air with a mood of frantic nervousness.

“Which side you want tonight Bob,” Sheila asked?

“I’ll take the far side dear, I don’t mind,” Bob replied as he worked his way around and over different conveyor belts to the opposite work station.

Bob had just made it to his post when the whistle blew and machinery began ramping up.  Soon the conveyor belts were running at a steady pace.  Their job was ensuring byproducts off the main production line were routed correctly to proper recycling storage facilities within the plant.  With the world in bad shape from decades of conspicuous consumption, no one was allowed to just throw out waste anymore.

For the next two hours the shift ran smoothly and efficiently; large container cubes of water mixed with different contaminants were routed to distillation facilities, while medium sized bottles of resin waste where sent to storage for external reclamation.  From time to time either Bob or Shelia would have to slow the line to reassign miss labeled containers, placing corrected labels as they went.

Sheila was just finishing another relabel when Bob jerked up from his control screen cursing loudly into the communication system they shared.  The system allowed them to talk over the equipment noise.

“What the hell is wrong with you Bob?” Shelia said with and edge of fear in her voice!

Sheila looked across the conveyor belt at her co-worker.  Bob had backed away from the line blinking his eyes rapidly while tapping is right thumb and forefinger together.  He now stood cursing, spouting strange words and directions.  Meanwhile Shelia had to scramble with the flow of waste materials filling the conveyor belt so the company wouldn’t get fined again.  She slowed the line as much as possible without setting off alarms.

“Holy shit,” shouted Bob.

“Jesus Bob, you got to get in here before I have to hit the emergency stop!  We could both lose our jobs if that happens!”

Sheila barely had time to growl out the words as she double timed catching miss labeled bottles of contaminated byproducts from the production floor.  With two people out on medical in the production line, too many bottles were not labeled right and would end up in the wrong bins for recycling.

“Four across Hawk!  Three down Snowy Owl!” Bob yelled.

Shelia, mouth a gape, desperately tried to maintain control of the looming catastrophe.

“Ah … five down, Goose, … seven across Woodpecker!”

Bob continued to spout gibberish for another five minutes as Sheila began to feel flushed from the strain of handling the line solo.

“Seven down … the common name of the duck hawk … wha …,” Bob stammered.

“Snap out of it Bob, damn it!”

“Sheila, what the hell is the common name for a duck hawk?”

“What the hell is going on Bob?” Sheila screamed into her mike.

“For the love of God, do you know the common name for a duck hawk?  I have to finish this now!”

“Quit yelling at me … ah, well, it’s not a goshawk or a redtail”

“Eight letters long, starts with a P!” Bob growled.

“P … uh, perched?”

“No, that is only seven letters, it has to be eight!”

“Wait, I remember this from my dad.  He was a bird watcher.  It isn’t a hawk at all; it’s a falcon … a peregrine falcon!” Sheila said.

“Seven down, peregrine!” Bob shouted.

Tapping his thumb and forefinger together again he let out a sigh and raced to his console where he flagged a mechanical breakdown to stop the system.  Red lights began flashing as the conveyors ground to a halt.

“What in the hell happened.”

“Damned AR contacts malfunctioned and placed a Huntingdon Star crossword up that blocked my view.  The thing wouldn’t shut down either.”

Sheila started giggling.  She looked at Bob and just busted out in laughter, which Bob soon joined.  The absurdity of the situation kept them both laughing, helping to relieve the tension of the last fifteen minutes.  They were still chuckling and drying their eyes when the shift supervisor and his boss arrived with questions about the stoppage.

Bob managed to keep a straight face as he circumspectly described the malfunction of his AR lens and that he would need a few minutes to retrieve basic contacts from his locker.   The shift supervisor frowned but allowed they had made the right decision in stopping the line, his boss; however, was not as mollified.  Bob and Sheila could hear them discussing the need for a new policy on augmented gear on the work floor.

Their shift went smoothly the rest of the night except for the number of times Bob had to repeat the story of his now famous contact lens.  As daylight began edging over the frames of the plant windows, Bob stretched then placed his station on standby.  Across the conveyor Sheila yawned deeply, doing the same.  As they entered the break room to retrieve their lunches, the next shift heard them chuckling, saying names of birds back and forth.  By the end of the week, the incident had become company legend.

Flash Fiction Update (from my Patreon Page)

Well, the flash fiction contest is closed and the voting has started.  Unfortunately, there are only two stories to choose from here.  Usually there are at least six or seven stories to choose and on occasion so many that they have to make two voting threads.  I would like to make it at least a fair contest by getting as many voters there as possible so please come and read the two stories and cast a vote.

Amber Waves (from my Patreon page)

This was my entry for a old flash fiction contest on SFFworld with the theme being “torrential”.  I am posting it here as part of a discussion I plan to post about later.  It also gives you some idea of my writing style although this is a much older tale that I currently do not plan to place in Mystics and Misfits.  One thing to note here, I wrote this story back in 2008.

Amber Waves 

by Robert Garbin

The interview was being held in the corner of the busiest bakery in New York City.  David Attel reporting for Baker’s Secret, a British pastry magazine, was asking the three time winner of the bread making championships, Andre Stephenson, the secret of his success.

“Everyone always wants to know what makes Americans the dominant bakers in the world” Andre snorted.  “You know, four hundred years ago, American baking was considered only less dubious then American cuisine.  We were thought of as crash, tasteless, and immature.”

“Why was that?” David said.

“Because we were, we had lowered our standards so far with mass produced additive loaded crap that our insides were caked with it.  For God’s sake, Hot Pockets were one of the best selling items in every supermarket.”

“So what happened to change all of this?”

“One more idiot.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sure you noticed the strict screening measures at the airport and the fact that you can bring very little with you.  Most everything you need will be provided for you while you are in country, but, unless you have lots of time to wait to bring anything out, everything stays here.  About four hundred years ago, before the genetic manipulation bans, some bright eyed idiot with the dubious financial backing of a fortune 500 company thought he could make a higher yielding wheat crop.  This was around the time when every Tom, Dick, and Harry scientist felt that there was no danger in playing God.”

“I heard about the story in my history class, but I don’t see the connection here.”

“Well, first off, you don’t live in a country that had to rebuild its economy from scratch while battling the effects of a disastrous mistake.  Second, we solved the problem by making lemons into lemonade.”

“I don’t understand!”

“Well the story goes like this.  Some big corporation out to increase profit by cornering the wheat market found themselves a genetic engineer who thought he could make a few genetic alterations to wheat to increase yield and shorten the growth cycle.  If they could get more wheat to market faster than the other guy, everyone would switch to their product.  Maybe the engineer wasn’t a total idiot and maybe meant things for the best, but we are still living with the results.”

“From there, you have to understand how business worked back then.  Basically, the almighty dollar was all that mattered.  Companies constantly flirted with disaster in order to maximize profit.  Look at the oil industry for example.  They constantly told people what they wanted to hear about safety so that congress would allow them to do what they wanted.  But when it came time to actually implement the promised measures they cried that the share holder dividends would suffer, or worse, they turned a blind eye.  That was how the Exxon Valdez happened.”

“What people always forgot was that companies were all about maximum profit and many people equated that with intelligence.  Experience should have taught them otherwise.  How many times did the banking industry have to implode before they figured out that not having strongly enforced regulations was letting idiots and con-artists stick them with the bill?”

“Anyway, back to the point.  In their rush to get the product to market, they pressured the engineer to cut corners to save a few million dollars.  Some safety protocols were skipped and some congressmen’s hands were greased and the wheat was approved for distribution.  Initially, the crops were a great success.  There was a twenty percent increase in yield and as a bonus; the farmers got two full crops in one season.  That was when the problems began.”

“The following year the farmers brought in three full crops, then four the next.  When some tried to put in different crops for rotation, they found the wheat choked out the other crops.  Soon the government had to declare a state of emergency because wheat was turning up outside of the farms.  They first attempted to burn the crops out, but that only made the problem worse.  Some of the seeds were resistant enough to survive the fires and rode the winds further a field.  The only thing that saved the rest of the world was the last line of protocols that held the wheat on American soil for five years of testing.  By that point, the country was under strict quarantine.”

“Believe it or not, the Government was close to setting off nuclear bombs in the heartland.  That is when the country drew a line.  We instituted strict quarantine laws that almost destroyed our economy, but that was better than wiping out a third of our country.  Then we set about dealing with the massive amounts of wheat we had.  We baked our hearts out day and night.  Soon we became the foremost bakers of breads and pastries in the world.  Today one hundred percent of all wheat flour based baking comes from America.  Of course, the product is thoroughly tested to make sure no live genetic material leaves the country.  Also, we did eventually manage to contain the crops to the Midwest, but we have to be constantly on guard against mutations that could start the whole cycle again.”

“So, finally, we come to the reason that Americans have dominated the baking arena for the past three hundred years.  It’s simple really, we had to.  We had to find something to do with all the abundant wheat.”

New $1/$3 Reward Added (from my Patreon page)

Here is the write up for this weeks reward at My Patreon Page:


“This week’s reward sees the conclusion of the first Dragon Dreams story line.  Jason Connors finally reaches the Wise One mentioned in chapter two even though there have been some peculiar events leading to this meeting.  Of course the Wise Man already knows who Jason is and what he is here for, which makes everything a whole lot easier.  Soon all will be set right but there is always time for a meal and a good nights rest before the answers are obtained.  Right?  Join my Patreon page to read the conclusion to Dragon Dreams:  Paths of the Wise One.”

Is it a Repeat, Is it a Political Post, or Is it Other (from my Patreon page)

“I was talking to a co-worker the other about healthcare in the US. He understands the issues but he took exception to a statement some on the left used. They said that “healthcare is a right”. His point is that no one is borne with a God given medical team at their service, which is true. No doctor was born specifically to take care if me. Hell, Adam and Eve were supposedly the only humans alive, where was their HMO.

At the time, I had no argument for this because he was right. Too often loud mouths on the left and right spout things off as being God given rights without understanding that what they call a right is a product of civilization and governmental abilities to enforce them.

So my answer now would be, no, healthcare is not a right, but it should be. That is what civilization and government is about. Too bad the greedy one percent has subverted the roles of both to mean supporting only them.”

When I finish this post, it will also be posted to my facebook page where I wrote and posted the above quote originally.  So is it a repeat?  Well, yes and no, because the intention of this post is to expand on the ideas in a similar yet different way.  Now looking at the content of the above quote, you would be led to believe this post is a political one.  Well, again, the answer is yes and no.  Yes, this is something I believe and feel that America should really think about.  No, I am not including the quote in this post mainly for that reason.  The correct answer is actually other.

I am including this quote because I want the followers of my artwork and writing to see what makes it up.  The above quote gives them a view of how I think and reason, as well as, what I value.  I admit that I have been thinking of starting a separate blog for my thoughts on politics, religion, and science; however, a part of me thinks that would be lying or hiding to or from my followers.  The truth is what you see in my art and writing is derived from my 51+ years of being on this earth.  All the views that were forced upon me before I was old enough to build my own, all the views I have since developed, and all the views I have gained from forces beyond my control are all a part of my creations.

My works are an amalgamation of the history I learned and the history I experienced.  They reflect the views I created from my formal education in history as an American and the views that grew from learning the truth behind the public histories that was swept away or covered up because the picture was unflattering.  My works contain derivations from daily life experiences that show the reality I see as opposed to the fiction displayed and worshiped by the masses.  They also contain things that fascinate me, catch my eye, or make me laugh.  My creations are full of the absurd, the beautiful, and the evil.  They are criticisms, warnings, and hopes all wrapped up in one.

So, the true reason of this post is to share what makes me, me and what makes my creations what they are.  I want to share all that goes into my works, even the whining you see on occasion.  Yes, I am aware that my pleas for patrons to My Patreon Page at times are very whiny in nature but there are reasons.  First, I am desperately unhappy in the job I am doing now.  Not that the work is that difficult other than the shear volume of it, but more for the fact that it wears on my moral fiber and is so mismanaged that I am often frustrated.  In addition, financially, I am sliding backwards.  That is why I am trying so hard to bring my creativity to the fore in a way that I can feel good about and hopefully become my livelihood.   Second, when you see my whinier posts understand that I am at my lowest ebb.  Either work issues, physical pain, financial woes, and/or frustration have combined to cause me to despair for my future and you are getting the overflow, sorry about that.  Finally, all of the above also becomes part of my creations.  Contrary to what some fans would like their favorite creators to do, we do not live in vacuums, separated from the rest of the world.  If we did, our collective output would be garbage.

To conclude, I will be posting as much of everything that I think and do on this site as I can.  I suggest that those who are really interested in what I make take a look at the entirety of this blog to see where I have come from and how I look at problems.  That way you will have a richer understanding of my works.  Bones.

We Built this City on Bugs and Saliva (from my Patreon page)

Well, I actually had some time to work on my Termanicz image yesterday.  As you can see, I changed the background in the direction I plan to head; however, this is not the background I will keep.  I want to make this a diptych of the terminator hidden as the alien and then unmasked.  So I want the images to be more vertical than horizontal so I can put them side by side.  The one image will have a glowing city like what is here now, while the other will be the burning ruins of this one.  You will note that the alien is becoming more detailed with even a hint of texture.  Also, the hexagons of light were done with a purpose made brush in Gimp 2.8.  In other words, I created this brush using Gimp just for this purpose, which I think is really cool.

The World is Just Abuzzzz (from my Patreon page)


Had a good night last night.  Got the laundry and dishes done, even managed to squeeze some time on this painting.  Areas worked on since last update, left eye, fleshy area at base of antennae, antennae, and some carapace detailing.  Look at a larger view to see some of this.