Procrastination

Another week flies by, and things still feel the same. Writing is still slow, which is irritating. I can’t seem to just sit there and write. I had 2 good days last week, but every other day is just filled with pushing it later and later until bedtime arrives and there’s no time left. I need to be harsher with myself. It’s annoying that I’m not doing it, and it’s from plain laziness. There was also no story uploads last week, simply because I only remembered when I was away from home. As stupid as that sounds, it’s the truth.

There will be the next chapter of To The Other on Wednesday for my Patrons and the next chapter of The Broken Pocket Watch on here, Friday (Thursday for Patrons). No excuses.

My aim this week is too organise my days better. Maybe a stricter schedule outside of work would help in some way. I’ll set tomorrow that 10am til 11am will be for writing. I’ll just sit in front of the computer and do it. I say tomorrow, yet it’s half midnight so later today. What happened to the time. I’m sure by 9am I’ll have forgotten and scrapped the idea, but let’s see.

I’ve nearly finished reading See How They Lie, only about 50 pages to go. My hope is to finish it and have a review on here on Wednesday. After one of my readers suggested more book reviews. It’s been a while. I’m sure I’ll achieve that one. I’m enjoying the book so far, and can’t see it getting boring in the last few pages.

I went to see Dunkirk at the weekend. One of the most critically acclaimed films of the year so far. I really enjoyed the film, but I think I was expecting too much. I don’t know how I feel about it. I know there were some great scenes and I really enjoyed a lot of it, but I also wasn’t completely amazed. There were points when I couldn’t look away and completely forgot I was in a cinema, and then reality shook me and I was just waiting for it to end. An incredibly well made film, but I felt very detached from it while also enjoying it. If that makes sense, because it doesn’t really too me and I’ve been thinking about it for the last two days. I’m still not sure.

I’ve started watching Sherlock, which has been one of Tabby’s favourite shows for years. I’ve always been put off by the length of the episodes. After the first 15 minutes I was completely hooked and watched 2 episodes back to back. I can’t wait too watch more. I feel really stupid for letting something so stupid get in the way of watching it, but 90 minutes is a lot of time to dedicate to a TV show.

I’ll get back on that after sleeping and hopefully writing in the morning.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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The Good, the bad and the weekly update

It’s been a slow week, without much happening. I’ve done a bit of writing, a bit of reading and the usual playing games and watching TV. I’ve noticed that I tend to have one day, normally Wednesdays when everything is non-stop. I’m writing and the words are just flowing, and then the rest of the week is slow. A little here, a little there. I’ll get there eventually.

Yesterday was a stunning day for TV. Firstly Doctor Who. A female Doctor, finally? It doesn’t bother me. It’s in the show that Time Lords can swap genders during regeneration, but my God some people are so stupid. The amount of comments, on YouTube and Facebook, that start with “I’m not sexist… But”. The best one was someone who claimed to have been watching since 1963 but has given up after the BBC have ruined their favourite character. As if the announcement of a female Doctor, and not seeing her in action, is the worst thing in the world and worthy of that. Unbelievable. Stupid people.

Besides that though, the long-awaited seventh season of Game of Thrones. I only caught up last month, so the wait hasn’t been that long for me, but I still felt it. It was a stunning opening to the season, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever seen. That’s not an exaggeration. It felt like the first part to the most epic story ever. I didn’t move for the entire episode, just sat there captivated by what was happening in front of me. I’m so glad I started watching it and caught up so I can watch this weekly.

Which also means I have 3 weekly shows that I’m actually going to keep up to date with at the moment. Twin Peaks being the second, which is really starting to shape up. There was one episode, I think episode 6, where I began questioning whether I was enjoying this new season because I like it, or because I feel like I should. But it’s all coming together. I’m kinda ignoring, at least while I get my head around, episode 8. That was a complete trip into another realm. I’m still not sure what to make of it. But this week was brilliant. All of the story lines are progressing nicely and it feels like the connections are coming together. I still think it would be better to binge watch the show, but I’m enjoying it regardless. We’re over half way through and I’m nervously anticipating the end.

The third show is Preacher, which I will be watching tomorrow morning. The first season had its highs and lows, but so far season 2 has been all highs. I’m loving it. Can’t wait for the next episode. I’m sure it’s going to continue this trend of brilliance. So much good TV.

My plan this week is to finish the book I’m reading and put a review up on here, as well as the next chapter of The Broken Pocket Watch on Friday (Thursday for my Patrons). I’m going to go and read a bit before bed.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

If you want to enjoy and want to support my random ramblings then check out my Patreon page. You’ll get early access to my stories as well as exclusive extras. I can’t thank you enough.

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The Broken Pocket Watch – Chapter Eleven

I can’t believe it, I’m actually going to meet my Uncle. Finally. I simply don’t remember any other family. My Dad has always been there. I have flashes of who my Mum is, but everyone else is just a mystery. I wouldn’t recognise any of my family, even if I was in a room just full of them. And now, slowly and surely they’re appearing.

Randell walks me down street after street, winding around the labyrinth of the city. It feels like the buildings are moving around us, twisting and turning, bending into new shapes. We’re moving down dark alleys, the whole city feels alive down here. There is a murmur of chatter, just sitting on top the breeze, moving around us, people sitting in doorways, relaxing. People smoking out of window. The chatter is carried from all of them. For the first time I don’t feel safe here. Everyone seems to be staring at me, and if I move my gaze around the sea of eyes I start to feel dizzy, as if just the looks are piercing my skin. I try to just stick to looking at Randell, who has moved in front of me. He stopped speaking the second we walked into the alleys, and quickened his pace. I begin to question whether it was wise to trust someone who I barely know. Someone who claims to have a connection to someone else I don’t even know. A couple of people stagger passed me, and I skip to keep up with Randell. I don’t like it here. This is worse than the village. The air is sharp, as if even that could slice you to shreds, steal anything you own, and then throw you to the side. Discarded.

Not one piece of the wave of rabble is aimed at us, even though the eyes are. I don’t think Randell is anymore welcome here than me, but that might be because he’s bought a newcomer to the area. They don’t trust me. The air is stale with booze, something I recognise from when Troblyn stumbled into the shop one night when both me and my Dad were asleep. Both awoken by the crashing of someone throwing themselves into the clocks. He thought it was his house. I tried to help my Dad carry him outside and towards his house, next door, but I couldn’t do much. The smell that clung to his clothes and breath. That’s the one thing I remember. And here it is again. But this time, just buying a lock for the door won’t do much to help.

We move down into another alley, the buildings growing taller with each turn we make, and now I feel as if I can barely see the sky if I look up. It can barely be in the afternoon, but the sun is nowhere to be seen down here. It’s just shadows. The sun blocked from ever entering the this man-made pit. We walk down one alley that has a dead-end. This is it. This is where I die.

But Randell moves up some stairs and opens a door to one of the towers. I follow quickly, wanting to escape the eyes from windows. I instantly feel better inside. The light is welcoming, and the entranceway is empty. In front of us, is a metal door, and stairs on the left hand side. The room is pretty bare apart from that. Randell walks over and presses a button near the door. I wait, noticing the peeling wallpaper, and spray paint over the walls. Just random symbols, and pictures. Nothing really stands out. The floorboards are discoloured, where some of them have been replaced.

“What is this?” I ask.

“The poor area of the City. It’s not that much better than the villages, to be honest. This is what happens if you lose your job, or can’t work. You move here, and live of scraps and no one thinks about you. At least you have a warmth.”

“I don’t like it here. I feel like I’m going to be attacked.”

“I know the feeling. They’re just feeling you out, seeing how you react. I’m sure they wouldn’t attack you, it doesn’t look like you’re hiding a small fortune under those rags. Someone else, they might just beat and rob though. So you should be careful.”

“What about you though? You aren’t wearing the same rags as me, you look better dressed than anyone from around here. And what are we doing? Can’t we move yet?”

“This is a lift, it will take us up the building when it arrives down here. And they don’t attack me, because they know me. They see your uncle as some kind of messiah, and he has blessed my visits here. They understand that even though he works for one of the biggest and fake magazines in the City, that at the same time, he’s the only one who wants to help. That he puts most of his money into starting the charity, his own leaflet thing, it won’t just help the village, it will help these people as well. They see him as a voice of hope. And here we are, the lift has arrived. After you, please.”

I walk inside the little metal box, not wanting to. I want to run, back to the village and back to the safety of my Dad. I just wanted to find my uncle, my family, not this. No one even knows where I am. I don’t have the watch. I don’t like it. That’s all I can say about it. I don’t like it.

Randell follows me in and presses something on the wall, I stand in the corner and watch as the doors close. My eyes drift down and stare at the bubbles in the metal floor. Layers and years of dirt shoved into every crack, and crevice in the box. The lift. I can’t control my breathing. I shove my hands in my pockets, wanting them to stop shaking. It takes everything to just breath in and out, and not lose complete control. I’m going to fall over. I can feel it. My legs can’t keep me up much longer. Is this thing moving? I’m going to be sick. This is how it works? I should have just taken the stairs. I know where I am with them.

“Don’t worry,” Randell starts. “It’s a little weird the first time, but it’s safe. I won’t make you do it again, if you want to walk to the fifty-sixth floor, then that’s completely up to you. I would rather just wait in here though. You will get used to it.”

I don’t answer, but bring out a hand to steady myself against the railing jutting out of the wall. Something about it is slimy, but it helps. And before I can count to ten the doors open again, I stumble out before Randell and nearly fall through the window opposite the box. A long hallway stretches out to the left and right, turning at each end, going behind the lift. But right in front of me is a window, and through it I can see through more towers, but that’s not what I focus on. I make the massive mistake of looking down, and I can’t see the floor. At least there is sunlight coming through. The shining rays shimmering down from above. Randell walks down the hallway, without a word. I stare at the view for a few seconds more, and then follow him. As much as I just want to stand here, and stare at the height, I don’t think it’s going to achieve much. I can’t believe how high I am, after such a short journey in the box, we’re up here, closer to the sun than I thought possible. I’ve walked so far today. I can almost feel the blisters forming on my feet. The sweat between my toes shifting with every step. I’m not even half way through yet. I change to a quick jog to catch up with Randell, and then resume walking at his speed.

“It’s the second door after the turning. That’s where Maz lives. Has done for as long as I’ve known him. I’m sure he will be glad to meet you, after all this time.”

“I don’t know anything about him, I only heard about him the other day. Dad showed me some of the photos he took of my family, well our family. Some of the only pictures of my Mum. I just want to know more about her. And I can see how much it hurts my Dad to talk about, so this seemed like a good idea.”

“Are you not sure now?”

“I don’t know. I had this image in my head, walking into the City, finding him, getting a drink in a cafe and talking about our family, his achievements since moving to the City, stuff like that. It just isn’t what I was expecting. This is just. New. Different.”

“His achievements? That’s what people will call them in a few years. He is on the cusp of organising one of the first events in the City hall. He’s going to invite everyone he knows to it. Near enough every big name in the City. Once the guest list goes around, everyone will want to be there. It happens all the time. But this one will be different, once they are there he will spring this all on them. The poverty of those outside the villages, and he will force their hand. It might seem unjust at first, but as more people hear about it, the wheel will start to turn by itself. Poverty will be a thing of the past. He just had to build his persona, make the world know him. His connections have connections now. That’s his plan. Years in the making, and so close to paying off.”

“Don’t people know about the villages?”

“Of course they do, but they don’t feel the need to do anything. This will change their mind.”

I don’t say anything to contradict him. I see enough people enter the shop in the Village, and no one cares. I would rather live there than in this part of the City anyway. We reach the door, and everything stops. I watch in slow motion as Randell raps his knuckles on the door, three times. Nothing, and then “come in” echoes from within.

Randell opens the door and walks in, for a moment I want to follow, but I can’t. I have to go back. To the village. Back to Dad. That’s where I want to be. Not in some kind nightmare. My feet take over and walk inside the room. The man inside, is older than I expected, with a receding hair line, and tired eyes. He looks at me, but doesn’t notice me. He’s working on something. Somehow he looks older than my Dad even though he’s got to be around the same age. His whole body sighs and he places the piece of paper down on the table.

“Hello? Do I know you?” he asks, straight to me.

I don’t know whether to let Randell answer, or speak for myself. I’m not usually in this position.

“Um, hello? I’m Nymia. I’m your Niece. Your my Mum’s, Maria’s, brother.”

“Am I? Really? That would make you. My God, how is he? How is he? Jik? How is he.”

“He’s good. He told me about you, and I wanted to meet you.”

“I can’t believe it. This is such a surprise. I can’t believe you’re actually here. I’m so sorry that we have to meet like this.”

All of a sudden he becomes so lively, gesturing for me to sit down while also running around grabbing glasses and filling them with water. I sit down, and he hands me a glass of water, the outside wet, where he was rushing around. I switch hands and wipe the wet one on my top. I take a sip, and my thirst floods me. It takes every restraint not to gulp down the whole glass in one. I don’t want to be seen as some kind of desperate child, not in front of family I haven’t met before.

“I can’t believe how old you are,” Maz starts. “I mean, the last time I saw you, you were in a crib, and all these years have just zoomed by. Has it really been that long since we lost Maria? I can’t believe it. Time really does just fly by. I kept on meaning to come out to your village and catch up with your Dad, get to know you. But things happen. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright. Dad, he said the same thing. Life just gets in the way. I understand. I just wanted to get to know people. I want to find out about my Mum and her family. Find out where she’s from. I just know that my Dad could only tell me so much. And it hurts him talking about her. I want to hear from someone else. Then I found you.”

I take another restrained sip.

“She was a wonderful woman, and a lovely sister. You kind of look like her, when she was your age. I miss her.”

“Thanks. I can’t really remember her.”

t r “That must be hard, but at least you know she loved you. At least that’s something. A lot of people don’t even get that.”

“I know.”

“So how did you find me?”

“My Dad told me that you moved to the City to become a photographer, to show the poverty in the villages. So I came to the city without a plan, and luckily ran into Randell, and he took me straight to you.”

“Really, you just ran into him? Just like that? Must be fate.”

“I suppose it is.”

“I moved here years ago, to this flat. I spent a few years working for anyone who would take me, until I got a steady job. And now I’m in charge of PRF. Poverty Relief Fund. To get money to the villages and poorer areas of the city. I’m actually organising my first fund-raiser later in the year. Maybe you and your Dad could make it.”

Hearing him talk about it, made it seem so real. Unlike Randell who has a weird obsession with my Uncle. He made it sound so much more sane and normal.

“Maybe, I’m sure he would like that. He spoke highly of you.”

“I can’t believe you’re here. I’m sorry I keep on saying that, but it’s true. Jikwin’s child, my niece, just turning up out of nowhere. I honestly can’t believe it. I knew him, before he met your Mum. Years and years ago, I went to his village as part of a university project, taking pictures of small businesses, and I met him there. And then all of a sudden he was delivering clocks in the City for his Dad and I bumped into him, took him to the cafe your Mum worked at, family discount, and then he met her. Didn’t realise at first that she was my Sister. Kind of funny when you think about it. Almost love at first sight. They were such a beautiful couple. Hard to believe how long it’s been.”

“He’s told me bits, and he showed me the cafe.” I stop myself short, knowing I don’t want to reveal the stopwatch to him. I don’t know if Dad told him, but somehow I doubt it.

We spend the next hour or so talking about my Mum. How he visits his home village a couple of times a year, and would love to take me there one day. How his charity is doing. How he hopes to make enough money to bring his family in the City. I don’t tell him that I think that’s a bad idea. The area he lives in still scares me, even this high above it. Before long I notice the time. He offers to walk me to the City limits, which I take, knowing I probably couldn’t find it by myself.

“Please, don’t hesitate to come back again. I would love to get to know you. It seems so weird knowing there is family so close, that I don’t really know.”

Tell me about it.

“I’ll try and come back again soon, but with school and the shop. It might not be for a while. You could always come to the Village. I’m sure Dad would like to see you again.”

“Probably,” he laughs. “It would be good to catch up.

I say my goodbyes and start my trek back home.

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Thoughts After A Day With Final Fantasy XII

Cementing the idea that this generation of games is all about remakes and remasters comes a remaster of Final Fantasy XII only a few weeks after the Crash Bandicoot and Wipeout remakes. There’s a comfort playing games I’ve played before, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels it, or they wouldn’t bother with remasters at all. Looking over the PS4 games that I own, there are a ton of remasters, more than there should be. How many times do I need to own Resident Evil 4? Too many times to admit. But some remasters are special. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is special.

It’s been about 10 years since I last walked in Ivalice, the setting of Final Fantasy XII as well as the Final Fantasy Tactics games and the often overlooked Vagrant Story. It’s good to be back. This time we get not just Final Fantasy XII but a new an updated version, based on the Japan only International Edition of the original.

We get a more focused job system. Instead of the open licence board from the original, you have to choose jobs for each character, forcing you to think about the party you’re creating as these jobs can’t be changed. While I liked the original, this is reason enough to come back. It makes the characters feel like they have more purpose. You need to choose the healer, the tank and the damage dealer.

Another very welcome addition is the fast forward button. Speeding up gameplay by either x 2 or x 4 makes grinding and walking the long distances, simple and less painstakingly boring. The truth is that 10 years ago when I was playing every night for way too long after school, I had the time to play Final Fantasy. I don’t have the same liberties now, I have work, other games, trying to maintain what I like to call a social life.

I do feel a little sick with the screen shaking. It makes me dizzy for some reason. But I’ve still been using it, all the time since I accidentally pressed L1. It feels too slow without it on. I love RPGs and it seems like this is the best way to play Final Fantasy XII.

I’ve only played around 5 hours so far, only starting it this morning. It’s great to play this masterpiece again. I don’t use that word lightly. The battle system in this game, is superb. Setting gambits and walking around and seeing monsters, no more random battles, was mind-blowing back then, and it feels just as great now. It may not be my favourite game in the series, X by the way, but I still love it. Playing it today took me back to when I was still in Secondary School. I remember talking to friends about this, discussing how far through it we were, how we got past certain areas. I miss those days. Simple times with no worries.

The game looks stunning as well. Obviously, as it’s a remaster, nowhere near as beautiful as Final Fantasy XV which is a piece of art to look at. But there’s something about walking around in a Final Fantasy game which is so engrossing, the world looks amazing, the vast sprawling desert, the bustling towns, and of course the characters. They all look really good, as good as they felt on the original.

It may be because I’m older, but the game feels easier. I haven’t died yet, while I remember dying quite a bit in the early parts of the game. I’m still as stupid with potions, saving them for the last possible second, working out if I can kill another enemy before I use one. I don’t know why I do this. But even still, I haven’t died. Maybe at 23 the gambit system makes more sense to me. I hope that’s what it is, because I remember some parts of this game being challenging and I hope they still are when I get there.

Final Fantasy XII is still a wonderful game set in a beautiful world full of character and captivating music. The soundtrack to this game is one of my favourites from the series, along with 6, and you have the option of the original or a re-orchestrated version, which is a nice touch. I love this game, and have done since the first time I played it. A worry with revisiting anything is that I won’t like it as much, or I won’t get it in the same way. Things age, but Final Fantasy XII hasn’t. This game is brilliant. I’ve only been playing it today, but I know this is going to take up so much of my time over the next few weeks. I’m already more immersed than I was with XV. If you haven’t played this game before, then there has never been a better time. It takes the original and adds to it.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

If you like my ramblings and want to support me, then check out my Patreon page. You’ll get access to stories I write earlier as well as exclusive chapters not available on here. Thanks for having a look, I appreciate it 🙂

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Concerning Spider Man and Crash Bandicoot

I was looking forward to Spider-Man Homecoming. Tom Holland proved he was a good Spider-Man in Civil War, but now it’s his turn to take centre stage. He is a brilliant Spider-Man and Peter Parker. I wasn’t comparing him to either of the recent actors while watching the film, which I always think shows a strong performance.

The Vulture is one of my favourite villains from the early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics. Michael Keaton did a great job bringing him to the big screen. He was a well made character, whose motive feels justified. His suit looked cool and there were some entertaining fight scenes. What more can you ask for in a comic book film?

I enjoyed the film, although it did feel like it dragged on a little. My biggest problem, which might not be a problem at all as I may be wrong, is the timeline in the film. It securely establishes that Homecoming takes place 8 years after Avenger Assemble (As it’s called in the UK) and a couple of months after Civil War. Avengers was set in 2012, which means that Homecoming and Civil War are set in 2020. The next Avengers film, Infinity War, according to Kevin Feige is supposed to be set 4 years after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (which was set in 2014), so 2018. It’s not really a problem, and it won’t ruin any part of the series for anyone. But it bugged me as I figured it out while the opening scenes were playing.

It’s a decent film, either way. I recommend it. One of the better comic book films I’ve seen this year. No where near as good as Baby Driver, which was simply stunning. I recommend that above all else. Brilliant cast, acting, directing and most importantly music. Best film of the year, and proving that Edgar Wright can’t go wrong.

The rest of my week has been spent either at work, writing or reliving my childhood with the remakes of Crash Bandicoot. I’m having a love/hate relationship with the trilogy. On one hand it’s been so long since I’ve been able to play a “new” Crash game, 9 years. So it’s good to see he’s back. On the other hand, not everything is better. At the moment I’ve got 100% on the first game, and a decent way into the 2nd. The controls don’t feel right, some of the jumps feel off. I keep on slipping off things I wouldn’t have in the original, which I only played 6 months ago. I don’t think all of the graphical improvements work. The level Slippery Climb, it doesn’t look like you’re climbing a menacing tower of doom and dread. It looks like a playmobil castle, which is simply stupid.

While I have some minor issues with the game, I still love playing it. It’s good to see Crash back, the 9 years were worth the wait. Getting the platinum trophy on the first one was so challenging (I hate those time trials) and yet so rewarding. I hope getting the 2nd and 3rd while prove to be as exciting. It’s worth the money for a nice remake.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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