ZOMBIE

LIMBO_Wayne_Kirton_Writer

zombie in limbo

It was nearly all gone; his memory…

As he was sat on the parquet floor – back against the splattered wall, slumped over and nursing a bite wound in a bloody arm – Daniel Woodman couldn’t help but stare dimly at the family portrait mounted on the wall before him.

It was four years ago – Emma’s first birthday. Dana was stressing herself out as per her usual tall order of “Best Mom Ever!”, proving both to herself and stay-at-home mothers everywhere that overzealous organisation skills serve well beyond the tertiary years.

Dan was on his back on the living room carpet, looking up.

“Who’s a cutie? You are! Yes, you are!”

He was talking to the baby Emma cradled lightly in his upheld hands, looking down at him like innocence incarnate.

Emma laughed, and Dan responded in kind. It was one of those pure and beautiful moments you almost hate to have because it makes you forget that life won’t always be this way.

Here he was, after all, sat on the parquet floor, nursing a bite wound in a bloody arm. It was a Tuesday. Maybe.

arm_bite_close_up_comparison

 “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

While lacking the cerebral capacity now to articulate such emotions,

Dan, or what was left of him anyway, had a deep and visceral sense in his gut that this picture on the wall, the video streams in his head like hallucinations and cigarette burns, these people, evoked distinct feelings of *something* within him. He felt the cocktail of laboratory chemicals and viscous saliva course through his veins. The light burned his eyes. He screamed torturously; his already-rotting arm convulsed violently  – clenching and twisting, scraping up the floor, pulling splinters and leaving behind shreds of ripped fingernail. His head jolted side to side like a malfunctioning piece of machinery and even through the epilepsy Dan could sense his legs were entirely lame by now.

The outside chaos of machine gun fire and civilian screams grew thick and Dan found himself drowned out and lost; swirling the drain in delirium.

And yet, somehow, through the void he could hear her… calling out to him. It was faint; blurry at first. But the tone and timbre – the way she played the air like a pained violin – resonated with his soul. He knew her. And then it all came back, piercing through the haze in one brilliant display of desperation:

“DADDY!”

shatter glass

The blackness cracked beneath Dan like a thin sheet of glass and he fell through into the awaiting light below. He threw his head back in surrender as every joyful memory came rushing back and the most lopsided smile cracked like a fault line across his face.

Partial rigor mortis set in and caught the corner of Dan’s mouth, pulling it higher than muscle can go without snapping like sun-perished rubber bands. He felt the pain. In some sense of the word at least. Yet whatever he felt was left wayside to the tranquility he was experiencing deep within his being.

LIMBO_Wayne_Kirton_Writer
“Happiness is a state of mindlessness!” – Those who know

And there it stayed – his twisted, psychotic, serene smile. Dan lingered in limbo for an eternity as his eyes glazed over and his reptilian brain worked through it all:

He remembered… a beautiful baby girl… and how small her hand was, wrapped around his little finger. How sick she was for three weeks with fever and every night he had to pass out beside her because sleep eluded him.

He called out to her, but could feel the deadened sensation of his vocal cords melting and giving way like fishing line above the heat of his distress. His sounds came out garbled and raspy, filled with coughed up phlegm and blood.

It started to taste good.

“Daddy!”

The sobbing broke Emma’s breathing into pieces small enough for her to manage. Dan corkscrewed his head to the side. The sound of grinding bone and snapping twigs complemented its rickety movement well. Dan was barely able to keep his head off his shoulder as his remaining muscles relaxed with his fading consciousness. He could feel his sanity slipping; his grotesque mask still plastered across his once handsome face.

Through the flickering spots of colour, Dan managed to lock eyes with his daughter for what he knew would be the last time.

“Mommy’s asleep! What do I do?”

Dan watched the vignette encroach on his field of vision, the picture of Emma – the most beautiful girl in the world – fading with the light. He tasted metal.

Dan gathered every last scrap of sentience and muddled it together with what faint heart he had left to form one coherent word, screamed as a whisper through layers of bile and with all the love a father can muster: His daughter’s only hope.

“Run!”

Advertisements

(GIVE YOURSELF A) BREAK [ING POINT]

plane crash - waynekirtonwriter

plane crash - waynekirtonwriter

“MAYDAY! MAYDAY! We’re coming in hot! Fuel’s on E, Carlito’s dead, and I think we just sucked a bird through the blades again! This bitch’s coming down!”

Life was a mess to say the least. And you’d never suspect from his current predicament – his reckless abandon and apparent disregard for human life; screaming into the radio handset of a Cessna 172 hurtling towards the thick South American Jungle below* – the growing pains of someone who once could be so mindful and precise.

 “The comfort zone’s there for a reason,” the Ego said to The Sucker.

“Yeah, seated between Mediocrity and Death!”

“You’re going to die right now…”

“Will you shut up? I’m trying to land a metal box on a tree!”

His mind raced back quicker than the altimeter – space whizzing past the windows providing the backdrop to the visual theater as it replayed that last phone call he made, and how poorly he had treated her ever since they arrived on the this damn island… That college degree he never achieved all those years ago, knowing full-well how proud it would have made his mother. It would certainly have kept him grounded.

“Oh well.”

Back further… His first kiss, and how in that moment – with the sun pouring over him through the trees, as he sincerely accepted love for the very first time – life just seemed so enthusiastically, incredibly possible.

And here it all laid, spread out before him: Failures and regret like piercing branches disemboweling the fuselage and the suffocating vines of Mother Earth calling her son home.

“It’s been nice knowing ya,” he said to himself bitterly.

———————————————————————–

Sometimes life can get crazy.

Everything piles up over time, with us (blissfully and) ignorantly thinking there’ll be more time tomorrow, and somewhere along the line it all starts spiraling out of control. “You’re fucking it up,” the face in the mirror spits back at you self-righteously, always so quick to give you a hard time as if it wasn’t responsible for getting you there in the first place. Sometimes we as “humans”, with all our philosophy and science and sentience, can be pretty fucking stupid.

I wasn’t doing too well. I was freaking out about life. Again. I was doing everything I thought I should be doing but the happiness just wasn’t there. It’s hard to feel trapped within yourself – just you and your thoughts. And the voice is never helpful. The voice usually sounds like that kid who teased you back in school, or your parents, or that ever-present subconscious thought that ultimately you’re not good enough.

I-know-that-feel-bro-blank
Actually, I’m dead inside and therefore have no feelings…

Life can get crazy. And bet your ass it will! But when it does, it’s important and helpful to remember that it’s okay to be feeling the way you do. I’ve been connecting with a lot of people lately, both out of my active interest in establishing new and strengthening current relationships, and also entirely out of the happenings of the Universe. And during the course of my relating, I’ve come to find more and more just how incredibly hard everybody is on their self – how much we expect from ourselves, and the limits and deadlines we install by which we grade and measure our existence. We feel so entitled to endure the pains of life our brains tell us we should be feeling.

“I loved him so much, gave everything, and in the end I just wasn’t enough!”

The thing to realise, however, is that giving in to those thoughts and feelings is a choice. It’s making the choice between 1) this bad thing happened to me and I want to feel bad about it, and 2) this bad thing happened to me and no matter my thoughts or feelings about it, it won’t change the past so I may as well try and find happiness in the present.

“I’ve been struggling with this my whole life and it just feels as though I’ll never be happy!”

I don’t know why we gravitate towards self-deprecation and assault. Why we have to be the ones telling our inner voice, “I’m confident! I’m successful! I deserve this!” I don’t know how we can put a man on the moon but not know how to be happy; truly happy.

Eckhart Tolle postulates that the ego’s need for suffering is to create a sense of identity within the individual. It adds drama to “our story” and makes us unique in comparison to the rest of the world. “This is me and this is what I’ve been through!” The irony being that self-identification is maintained towards the promise of happiness, yet is characterised primarily by misery and suffering.

“When I get that promotion, THEN I’ll start living!”

I’m doing really well now. I think the breakdown was necessary. Sometimes it takes life crashing to the floor to force you to look at it realistically. The reality being that life, ultimately, is only ever as hard as we make it on ourselves.

So be kind to yourself today, forever. Listen out for that voice which tells you you aren’t good enough, or that your teacher was right, or that being skinny will make you happy. And then kill it.

Because the voice is lying to you, man! And we are all idiots for believing it. If there’s anything I’ve learned since connecting more, and just being receptive to the stories so many wonderful people have shared with me, it’s this:

You are not alone.

There is a world of beauty out there, filled with misery and heartache. 7 billion humans scared to reach out and touch each other**. Living in fear of rejection, or the wealth gap, or the colour of his skin. But I tell you this: For every single one of you reading this, for any problem you have been through or are going through right now, there is someone else on this ridiculous spinning rock going through the exact same thing.

Fight_club_Not_a_snowflake

And regardless of how entitled we feel to experience hurt and heartache, ultimately the only purpose it will ever serve is to make us feel like our lives suck.

Life is hard; give yourself a break. You are, after all, only human. Just like everyone else.

———————————————————————–

* Just finished FarCry 3… AMAZING!
** Sexual Harassment is a thing, I’m aware.

The True Cost of Winning, sponsored by iWits

joker curning money

My parents play the lotto religiously. I think that there is a deeply-ingrained desire in the modern human to better and build the world around him. To improve our situations and have all [the media told us] we ever wanted seems to still be the general life goal of the still early 2000s.

Making it rain seldom leads to drought relief
Making it rain seldom leads to drought relief

Even so, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting. And in most cases it’s a blessing unto humanity to wish to build and create where there was only scarcity before. There was a time in early human history where everything was so limited that having anything above the stock of one’s peers held a significantly greater chance for the survival for the individual: the ultimate* human need.

It’s unfortunate to see, however, how the modern-day equivalent of this need has perpetuated itself. To see people who have so viciously identified with the idea of monetary acquisition that it comes at the expense of their values, their lives and, more often than not, the well-being of fellow beings.

War would be the ultimate example of this idea: A few good men** who sit around a board room table and send brothers and sons out onto a battlefield like pawns on a chess board, all for the grand aim of filling numbers on a ledger. War isn’t hell, dear boy; it’s business! And business is booming according to Reuters.

One of my dearest friend’s stepdad was fatally stabbed in South Africa a few years back over a R300 TV set. While I can never claim to understand what the situation of the killer was like leading up to the incident, I use it to help convey a very troubling thought:

That right now, lurking in certain individuals among us, is the belief that money has greater value than human life.

joker curning money

The True Cost of Playing

On Monday 13 October 2014, iWits – local social marketing and web dev company – launched an awareness campaign sneakily disguised as an online scavenger hunt.

The scavenger hunt was a (legitimate) competition for N$1,000; however, some of the tactics employed in the competition were less than dignified.

To enter the competition, eager contestants were required to fill out an online form, read some terms and conditions, click “I agree” and start their journey towards winning that cool N$1,000!

Today (27 October 2014), over 250 Namibians are receiving emails from iWits informing them that they have been conned! Duped and swindled out of their hard-earned money and assets…

The email goes on to explain that hidden within the terms and conditions, which a staggering 83% of entrants failed to read carefully enough, had the following clauses hidden within them:

  • By entering this competition, the entrant agrees to pay iWits a monthly fee, totalling their full salary, allowance or retirement package for a total of 48 months.
  • By entering this competition, entrants agree that all property owned by the entrant or the entrant’s parents will be signed over to iWits within 30 days after the competition has closed.
  • By entering this competition, the entrant agrees that iWits may select one family member of the entrant to use in any and all advertising materials for iWits for a total of 12 months, furthermore agreeing that no compensation will be provided to the entrant or the family member that is being used in the advertising promotion.
undignified baby in an owl costume
“You did this to me!”

The average time the non-reader (a.k.a “sucker”) spent on the terms and conditions page was 1 minute 7 seconds, compared to those who followed the hidden links to the legitimate terms (14% of entrants) who spent an average of 9 minutes 6 seconds reading. 3% of potential entrants (this one included) opted to simply eject from the competition entirely.

It’s scary!

It’s scary because it has real-world implications. People sign contracts every day, and every day people are cheated out of their money. When I was still posted at Ogilvy, I handled the NAMFISA Consumer Education Bulletin and almost every edition there would be some article or paragraph outlining the importance of reading contracts. People will literally sign their salaries and houses away for a thousand bucks without a second thought!

Scarier than that is the fact that there are people who do this for a living! People who spend hours crafting and perfecting ways to trick you out of the money you spend all day earning. And he’ll get it right if you aren’t vigilant.

I personally at least scan through terms and conditions. I’m particularly interested in how a company or website wishes to use my information, as I’m equal parts paranoia and spam hater, but even I missed the first crazy clause. Had it been the only one, I too, may have been suckered.

But I encourage you keep dreaming, Namibia, because there’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life for yourself. Just always a) ensure that whatever you want in life does not come at the cost of your fellow man and b) don’t be so blinded by what you want that you are taken for all you have.

View the official iWits release with all the stats here

###

EDIT: Lastly, iWits wishes to inform the public that the offending clauses have been invalidated and no entrants will be held liable for them – this was only an awareness campaign, after all.

###

*secondary to reading waynekirtonwriter
** Isn’t Jack Nicholson just dreamy?

A Meeting of Microexpressions

Wayne's World

“I’m not here for the radio ad or the brochure. I’m here to build your brand to what I believe it can be!”

A barely perceptible twitch caught the corner of his mouth and curled it up for the briefest of moments. It’s called a microexpression and (mostly) all people demonstrate them.

What it told me was that this guy takes the name of his business to heart. And he should. After all, it’s his livelihood. And while this may not seem like anything special to some, to me it makes all the difference.

“Oh, he’s just so passionate!”

Ever heard that said about someone? What it basically describes is someone who puts their whole heart into what they do and who they are. It also describes a characteristic I look for in potential clients.

ON BEING BOLD

I’m a dreamer. When I was a kid my parents called it “Wayne’s World” – that magical place I would disappear to where I could recreate reality as I pleased. I ended up never leaving Wayne’s World. Instead, I chose to rather find people who were interested in joining my dreams. Nothing’s changed.

When deciding on a client to invest significant time and energy into, it makes sense to do so with one who shares the same passion and ideals as yourself. To overlook this most basic of requirements is to whore yourself for a date neither of you is truly interested in; the fruits of which are often unsatisfying and riddled with worms.

If I’m going to do great things – or any of us, for that matter -, then I need clients who not only believe in what I do, but who also believe in my passion for their brand. The simple fact is that the work I do for them carries my name on it. Literally. And I take this point seriously. It’s in my best interest to supply them with the best work I possibly can, which can only happen with complete faith and trust.

I spoke about his brand like a dreamer and it made him happy.

Wayne's World
Party time! Brand excellence!

It really did! I watched him light up as I explained how social media could be used to engage his audience and keep his profile current. We all want to believe in something better. I think a lot of times life just makes us jaded to the thought something better exists. But he saw what I felt. I told him I care about his brand first and foremost and that, I believe, is what any good business owner wants to hear. Especially when it’s the truth. And he knew what it meant in the bigger picture.

I wasn’t selling a 30-second radio slot or a three-page brochure. I was selling an idea: The idea that his brand is the most important thing in the world of his business. And it deserves originality, integrity and love.

I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from him again. I’ll make my follow-up call, but there’s only so much one can do. I’m not looking to strong-arm anyone into anything. If a client is willing to pay me for the services I offer, I hope they do so because they believe both in me as an artist and business leader, as well believe in my passion for them, the valued clients I humbly serve.

Only time will tell if we’ll work together professionally, but the way he appreciated what I had to say about his beloved brand made me happy at the thought of working with him at all.

Happy Monday!

Back to the Future (of Advertising)

Business Cat

“What the hell is this?” I asked like an uncultured brat, holding up what I know now to be a leopard print catsuit.

“It’s a catsuit” replied my mom.

“Is it dead?” I inquired further.

“For now,” she said. “But don’t worry; it’ll live again.”

What she was implying, I learned, was that fashion is cyclical. Something is dope for the moment, then loses its presence. And the only thing that can give it any presence again, ironically, is its absence.

Fashion Cat
I can haz dignity?

We are creatures of progress: Opposable thumbs, the Magna Carta, stem cell research, Nicki Minaj. My point is that as we create, so we set the foundation for new creations in the future. What started as chemistry experiments resulted in effective batteries, which in turn resulted in the concept of “electronics” becoming an actual possibility. This is something we now all take for granted.

So what is it, then, which compels us to retrace the timeline? To resurface what has been buried? To partake in what has already been enjoyed? Is it nostalgia? Is it something more? Seriously, I’m asking, cause I don’t know…

I came across this ad today promoting the new Ikea 2015 catalogue. It’s a parody on the current state of digital marketing – specifically the iPad. It’s a throwback to the beauty of the old – of the humble and noble book: The Champion of Alexandria.

Featuring “zero page loading time”, “tactile touch technology” and an “eternal battery”, it’s clear that the bookbook by Ikea is the next big thing.

Here’s the ad below. Let me know what you think of it. Personally, I love it. Then again, I might just be old-fashioned. Enjoy!