Archives for : "The Black"

NaNoWriMo – The Return

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), and I’ve participated in it for the past number of years, but with a slight twist.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to force you to write a 50,000 word novel in just four short weeks.

But I’ve never done that. I always used NaNoWriMo to further the creation of my own novel, “The Black.”

I came up with the idea for the novel when I was in journalism school, and I started writing it on this very blog. It was fun, interesting and I knew exactly where I was going. Until about chapter two or three, where the book I ended up writing did not resemble the one that I had begun.

So, I decided to stop and spend some time thinking about exactly what I wanted my novel to be. I sat down and wrote an extremely complex timeline, then a plot summary, character descriptions, etc. My book was perfectly laid out in about ten pages. All that was left was to write it.

So, I basically took what I wrote previously as a guide, and started from scratch. Since then, I have been working on it on and off for years.

My problem is this – as a writer and journalist, I spend all day writing, editing, reading and researching for work. So, when I get home, doing the same thing for hours can often feel like a bit of a chore. Sometimes, the words would just flow and I would have no problem writing and writing for hours at a time. Other times, I’d struggle to complete just one- if that.

That is not to say that I do not enjoy writing, as I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be a writer and a journalist.

So, I used NaNoWriMo to not necessarily start a new project (though I do have two other ideas for a novel and a short story that I’m keeping in my back pocket), but to force myself to continue writing “The Black.”

And it worked, but I am nowhere even close to being done. At all.

But this month, I am going to try something different.

Instead of continuing to write “The Black,” or even a new novel or story, I’m going to devote all that time to a new project I am developing. This project will require a lot of preparation, research and a whole host of other stuff.

But, I am extremely excited about it, and think it could incredible. And I have some amazing people that have offered their skills, expertise and extensive experience to help me out with this.

What is it?

Well, that will remain a secret for now, until it launches. But if you know me (or follow this blog), you’ll have a pretty good idea what it is about … *cough* animals *cough.*

Stay tuned!

Last November Update – YOU Decide

And thus ends the Movember and NaNoWriMo great experiment!

How did I do?

Well, let’s see:

For NaNoWriMo, I managed to get through a pesky piece of writing that had been bothering me for quite a long time. I could not come up with a good way to get my characters out of a particular situation, but thanks to this (and some help from writing friends), I managed to overcome that hurdle and write what I think is some pretty good stuff.

Is “The Black” done?

No, not even remotely. But, I wanted to make a dent and a dent has been made. I will endeavor to write more of it soon and will, of course, keep you all apprised.

As for Movember, I am facing a bit of a crisis. I do not know if I should shave off what I have cultivated over this past month. So, I thought, who better than my loyal readers and friends to decide for me?

So, I pose it to you – below are pictures of me in my “clean-shaven” and “Movember” states, and I want you to let me know what you think. Should I go to one extreme or the other? Perhaps some transitional state? Or, should I just let go and grow a full beard?

The choice, as they say, is up to you.

Let me know your choice through either the comment section below, a tweet or whatever way you wish to contact me, and I promise that I will follow thorough.

Movember – Doin’ It Ginger Style!
Unshaven – Blue Steel (or Le Tigre, if you prefer)

You have 24 hours to decide … GO.

November Update Part 2 – The Mustache Strikes Back

With just over a week to go in November, I thought I would post another update on how both my November projects: NaNoWriMo and Movember are coming along.

Firstly, Movember is going quite well. I have developed a very Walter White-esque style of mustache and goatee. And the interest and donations have been staggering! 

I would like to thank every single one of you who have donated to my Movember campaign and helped me raise a total so far of $275!

But, I think we can do better.

If you would still like to donate, there is still time to do so, if you are able. Doing so is easy, just follow this link:

I will, as promise, at the end of the month post both a before and after picture here so that you can all gaze at the glorious mustache that has resulted. The colour will definitely surprise you (not brown, like my hair)!

As for NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) has been going swimmingly! I have written a number of chapters in my novel, The Black, and the plot is progressing along nicely. Recently, I just wrote the most disturbingly dark chapter of it yet, and I was so excited to do so.

As a treat, here in an excerpt from that chapter, with a few names and other details redacted, so as not to ruin the story:

The Return


I was stuck to that spot, transfixed, staring at the pool of inky blackness that [REDACTED] eyes had become. There was no trace [REDACTED], as if they had been cut out and replaced with blank space. No only was there no sign of life within them, but the darkness was so deep that they seemed to drain the colour from the surrounding areas.
But I could not look away.
The buzzing background noise of the klaxon became louder and louder, but there was something else behind it … music?



And then, the darkness began to spill forth from [REDACTED] eyes like black paint, rolling down [REDACTED] cheeks, mouth and chin. Covering [REDACTED] arms and torso, sticking to [REDACTED] jacket, all the way down to the floor. Instead of abating, the darkness continued to gush forth [REDACTED] and the sweetest music I had ever heard came through, but there was a familiar tune to it, like from a time long forgotten.
A lullaby.

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates as the story continues to develop!

The Return of The Black

In just over a week, professional and amateur writers from all over the world will be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which I have missed the past few years. I always heard about it far too late into the month to really do anything about it, but not this year.

The goal of NaNoWriMo ( is exactly what it describes – write a novel over 30 days. Easy, right?

Actually, no.

But this year, I am determined to give it a shot (however, with one minor addition). Instead of writing a novel from scratch, I’m going to pick up my old and dusty copy of “The Black” and continue writing that.

I figured that, since the article on twins and the search for individual identity that I wrote for Scientific American has been published in The Best Science Writing Online 2012 (buy your copy here!), now was a good time to write as much as I could possibly stand.

For those new to my blog, The Black focuses on Roger Wilks, a lab technician for a big pharmaceutical company. After a series of very unfortunate events, he gets exposed to something that causes him to hallucinate his own past. But, when he begins to run out of past to remember, new memories begin to pierce the veil and drive him slowly insane. He then ends up in an asylum known as “Limbo” where he meets a cast of misfits that help him escape and ultimately, discover his destiny and that life is more than a series of accidents.

How does that sound?

I know the entire plot, all the character arcs and the major story beats that I need to get to, the major difficulty is just putting the entire thing down on paper. I’ve been slowly chipping away at writing this for a few years and while it will probably take longer than one month to write it (as it looks to be a long one), I hope to be able to put a dent in it.

This blog will serve, for the month of November, as a chronicle of my progress.

Every week I will update it with my progress, issues that I am having, interesting developments and the like. I will even ask for advice from time to time, which will directly affect the plot.

 I hope you are all looking forward to sharing this neat little adventure with me, and maybe when the month is done, I will put some chapters up for the hive-mind to look at.

An Apology and a Meeting

Dear faithful readers,

It has been a long time since my last post, and for that, I deeply apologize.

While I spend a lot of time reading and writing at work, it becomes a significant effort to sit down afterwards and write a post … or even read for pleasure. But, no longer.

The past while has been interesting, filled with family drama, loss, illness, laughter and joy. Time, it seemed, slipped away.

As an apology for leaving so long with little content, I have a treat for you.

A while ago, I wrote a short story while in journalism school. It was the first and last bit of fiction writing we would create, and we were given no instruction except for the title, “The Meeting.”

It took me a long time to get an idea, but once I did, I just couldn’t stop writing. Everything coalesced perfectly and the story just poured out of me. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had writing.

I was never going to post this on my blog, just hide it away. But, the joy of writing something is for people to read and enjoy it.

Those of you who have been following the progression on my novel “The Black” (yes, it IS still progressing) will see a few similarities in genre, theme and structure. And those who haven’t?
You’ll get to read it soon, I assure you.

Now I won’t blabber on, but please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the story below.

May I present – “The Meeting!”


The Meeting

Chapter 1 – Awakening

When the sun shined through my window, and hit my face, I knew it was time to get up.  However, like always, I kept my eyes firmly shut until the denotation device that I had programmed sprung to life.  It’s a silver monster about half the size of a toaster, but so much more annoying.  I’m talking, of course, about my alarm clock.

I reached over, still half-asleep, and put my hands over the woman sleeping beside me, and prepared myself for the rude awakening.

Good morning folks, it is precisely 8 am on our clocks, and here is the morning news!  Last night, a woman was attacked in her house and kidnapped.  The house was locked from the inside, and the alarm was active.  Police are baffled how someone could have broken into the house without leaving any evidence or setting off the alarm.  In a statement, the police chief said that, “these criminals are smart, but we’ll catch them, because we’re smarter.” 

 “Joan, turn the radio off, will you?” I said, while placing the pillow over my head.  “I don’t want to go to work today.”

“You may not want to get up to go, John,” my wife said, while turning off the radio, “but your boss told you to, and we cannot afford for you to lose your job!”

Meanwhile, a body washed up this morning, which cost one police officer to literally lose his lunch.  Sandra Burns has the report … and then the radio voice faded from the background as Joan turned it off.

“I guess I’ll get up,” I said with a huff, and followed my wife to the bathroom.

I examined my body in the bathroom mirror, and could not help but compare it to my wife’s.

My body was thin and lanky, very apropos and stereotypical for a man of my intelligence, while Joan’s was svelte, but not disgustingly so.  While my hair was greying at the sides and I liked to think it made me look ‘distinguished,’ her long red hair cascaded to her shoulders without the slightest change in colour.  That sight just made me fall in love with her even more.

“You are gorgeous, you know that? How was I ever lucky enough to marry you?”

“It’s a combination of your vast intelligence, your superb wit, and my willingness to settle,” she quipped.  “Now, shower, shave and shove off! You don’t want to be late … again!”

“All right, all right.  But, where did I leave my razor?”

I mean, I’m a certified genius with multiple degrees in a wide variety of fields; You’d think I would be able to keep track of something as simple as a razor! I’m going to be late because of a stupid …

“Found it!” yelled Joan from the bedroom.  “It was on the floor beside your night table. Now hurry up, you’re going to be LATE for MENSA!”

“Yeah, I know,” I said, while simultaneously running into the bedroom and grabbing my razor from my wife’s hands.  Turning back to the bathroom with a wink and a smile, I ran to the bathroom to complete my morning ritual.

“But honey,” I said while shaving, “we never do anything except sit in lounge chairs and talk about what we could be doing. It’s so boring.”

“Well, maybe something interesting will happen today,” she said. “You never know, right?”

“Yeah, I suppose,” I said as I finished shaving and washing my face.

“Now come here and give me a kiss before I leave for school,” Joan said in her unique way that made it sound like both a request, and an order.  “Someone has to teach these stupid undergrads about string theory, and we all can’t be geniuses sitting around contemplating the world’s problems like you, can we?”

So I walked in, like the ever obedient husband, and gave Joan a kiss on the cheek.  Little did I know that was the last time I would ever see her.
Chapter 2 – Discovery

As I drove my car to the MENSA head office, all I could think about was how my intelligence had shaped my entire life.

It all begun over 40 years ago, when I took one of those standardized tests every child takes in school, and scored off the charts.  From then on, everyone started calling me “genius,” and putting me in special classes and schools, trying to help me put my intelligence to good use.

But, by the time I graduated high school in my early teens, I was fairly ambivalent and bored with people telling me what to do.  I was determined to find my own way.

That was when I discovered the MENSA high IQ society, which eagerly accepted me for membership.

It was there I found people able to discuss any and all subjects that interested me, as well as encouragement and support to follow my dreams, changing people’s lives for the better with my intelligence.

I was home.

But, like all good things, they come to an end.

Eventually, my love for MENSA became stagnant and boring.  Individuals who were on par or smarter than me began to leave the organization for “greener pastures” across the world, we were told.  And then, just a few weeks ago, I realized that all my collaborators and friends I had made were gone.  I was alone.

So, I left MENSA, but agreed to stay on their evaluation committee for new applicants that meets every few weeks.  It was a selfish choice, because I loved telling people that they were part of an elite club … special.

Snapping myself out of this melancholy state, I turned on the radio to clear my head.

And for those of you just joining us, it has been a very busy morning.  It turns out the woman who was kidnapped from her bed last night, and the woman who washed up on the shore, are one and the same!  Police have now released the details of her identity: Dr. Bianca Rose, a researcher at a local hospital.  The coroner has said that a cause of death is not known, but the mutilation of the body was done during or shortly after time of death.  He also noted that the mutilation of the body was a direct result of organ theft.  Which organs were stolen, remained confidential.  We’ll have more on this story as it develops.  Next: Sports!

Dr. Rose … I could not believe it.  Before I could understand what was going on, I turned the radio off, slipped onto the side of the road and stared into the distance.

I had just seen her a few days ago, at a MENSA cocktail party, where we agreed to meet in a few days for lunch.  I just could not believe it.  Someone I knew was not only kidnapped, but mutilated?  It was disturbing, to put it bluntly.

But, a small part of me wondered: how was her body mutilated?  And, most important, what did the killers take?

Chapter 3 – The Boss

Finally making it into work, after spending almost 30 minutes by the side of the road, I was in a sort of haze.  Who would kill Dr. Rose and take one or more of her organs?  She had pioneered methods of preserving organs for transplant, and it seemed almost ironic that the murderer would take one of hers.  But, once they took it, what did they do with it? Sell it on the black market?

As I walked past security, I saw my one friend left in the entire organization: Benford (whose real name is Dr. Ben Ford, is was working on creating synthetic blood).  He looked awfully haggard, and was wringing his hands while mumbling to himself.  You can’t blame him, really, as he had worked with Dr. Rose for many, many years.  Their work on organ preservation and synthetic blood was a natural match.

“Hey, Benford, are you ok?  Did you hear about Bianca?”

“Hey John … yeah, I did. Terrible, terrible news.  Just awful.  I mean, there are a few up sides to her death, more funding, primarily.  But mostly it’s a terrible tragedy.  I mean, she was my partner …”

“You don’t seem ok, Benford.  You seem awfully distracted,” I said, with concern.  The concern was not purely altruistic, because he was my last friend here.  And, if he left, I’d truly be alone.

“Yeah, John. I’m fine. Just, you know, uhhh, concerned.  And also, you know how it is with work, very busy.  I’m on the cusp of a breakthrough on creating truly synthetic blood, which can keep tissue alive for decades, even after all organic blood has been depleted.”

“That’s amazing!” I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Bianca would be so happy and proud”


“Sorry Benford, that’s my phone.”

As I took out my phone, I saw I had received a one sentence text from my boss, Dr. Wilton.  “Don’t be late – W.”

“Sorry,” I said to Benford, “but I don’t want to upset W, especially on a day like today.  I’ll stop by later!”  And with that, I took off at a light jog to Wilton’s office.

But, as I was leaving, I heard Benford resume his mumbling.  I could have sworn he said something that sounded like “I guess I’ll need another jar …,” but I gave it no mind.

When I finally reached the boss’ office a few minutes later, I took a deep breath, and opened the door.

Now, Dr. Wilton was a very large man, in every sense of the word.  He resembled something out of a weight loss ‘before’ picture. He was BIG.  He was so big that he needed to specially order a chair to support his weight.  And yet, when he moved, he did not seem to struggle at all – like he walked on a  cloud.  He also had a very loud voice, as if he had a microphone instead of a larynx.

“I know sir, but I just heard about Bianca …”

 “AHHHH YES, YES. DREADFUL NEWS,” he said, as he emerged from behind his desk.  After a forgiving squeak from his chair, he lumbered over to me, and placed a large hand on my shoulder.


“How would you know what she would want?  You hardly knew her,” I blasted back at him, and moved to the other corner of his office.


“I suppose you are correct. No sense living in the past, right?” I said with a small smile.

“WHY DON’T WE HAVE A DRINK, TO CELEBRATE LIFE?” said Wilton, and he seemed to lope to his desk and bend down with a grunt.  When he emerged, he grasped two small glasses and a large bottle of scotch.

“FIFTY YEAR OLD SCOTCH, MADE IN 1959. SAME AS ME,” he said with a smirk.

As he poured the scotch, a knock was at the door, causing my attention to shift from Wilton to the door.

“COME BACK LATER, WE’RE DRINKING TO LIFE!” said Wilton with a booming laugh, as I turned back around.  In front of each of us was a glass filled with roughly two fingers of amber scotch.

“To Bianca,” I said softly, as I lifted my glass.

“TO THE PRESERVATION OF INTELLIGENCE,” said Wilton, as he raised his.

As the liquid gold touched my tongue, I immediately felt more relaxed.  I downed the entire glass and felt warmth rush into my stomach.

“Thanks,” I said with a large exhale.  “That was exactly what the doctor ordered.”

But Wilton didn’t say anything; he just stared with a large Cheshire cat-like smile, which began to drift in and out of focus.

 “Wha … what’s going on?” I said alarmingly.  “Wilton, something’s wrong. The room, it’s become all blurry, and I’m getting very dizzy and disoriented.  What was in that scotch?”

“What … what did you do?” I asked weakly, as I began to sink to the carpeted floor.  The last thing I remember was the squeak of Wilton’s chair, the buzz of an intercom and the words: “prep him.”

Chapter 4 – The Meeting

I awoke with a start, with the mother of all hangovers.

I tried to open my eyes but nothing happened.  I tried to speak, but my mouth did not respond.  I tried to move, but I was too weak.

“WELCOME JOHN,” a voice boomed from the distance.  It was the voice from the last man I had seen before I passed out.  “OPEN YOUR EYES, SO YOU CAN SEE WHERE YOU ARE.  OHH, I FORGOT. BENFORD, HELP THE POOR LAD.”


There was the sound of switches flickering, followed by a loud hum.  And then my eyes shot open and my vision was filled with a cacophony of yellow light in some sort of liquid.

“The experience will be shocking to your system at first,” said Benford weakly.  “Just relax, and let your eyes adjust to the intensity of the light and the consistency of the water.”

After a few seconds, I could make out shapes through the yellow-tinted liquid.  One very large, and the other fairly skinny, beside what appeared to be several yellow lamps.


“I did what you asked,” said Benford.  “I did everything.  Now please, let me go.”


And with that, Benford left, leaving me alone with Wilton.

“Good, I’m glad he finally left,” said Wilton, in a voice much lower than what I was used to.  “All that shouting was beginning to hurt my throat.”

“I know you must have questions, but I’ll answer the two that must be at the forefront of your mind.” The first: Where am I?”

“You’re still in MENSA,” he said, “but in the sub-sub basement I had constructed for this specific purpose.  And, according to everyone above, you just jumped out a window and killed yourself over what happened to Bianca.  But don’t worry, John. I’ll console your wife,” said Wilton with a large smile.

This … this could not be true.  How could I have died?

I mean, I was drugged and woke up here.  I swear, if he touches my wife, I’ll kill him! I don’t know how I’ll get out of here, but I will!
“And the second question,” said Wilton, “What happened?”

“Well, I drugged you, which I bet you figured out already, and I brought you here.  I had Benford perform some ‘elective’ surgery, before I literally threw you out the window.  You died, you see, plain and simple.  Your entire body was liquefied,” he said, as he picked up one of the lamps and began walking to my location.

“And what was that surgery, you ask?  Well, take a look.”

And with that, he held up a lamp so I could see, and if I could have screamed, I would have.

It was a large capped jar, filled with yellow liquid.  At the bottom of the jar, was a tag that said, ‘B. Rose.’

And what was inside, I would never forget.

There was nothing but a brain, and two hovering eyes.

“Say hi to Bianca!” laughed Wilton, as he placed down Bianca’s jar and held up a mirror.

What was staring back at me?

My piercing blue eyes, submerged in my own jar of yellow liquid, attached by nerves to my brain. And a little tag at the bottom, which said, ‘J. Davis’

“Welcome John,” said Wilton, “to where you will spend eternity thinking about ways to better the world.  Isn’t that what you always wanted, to help people?”

Well, now you will.  Welcome to the real MENSA!”

“Welcome, to the Meeting of the Minds!”

It’s Elementary, Watson!

What a week it has been!

So much has been going on that I hardly even know where to start!

Earlier this week, my next Guest Blog for Scientific American went live, which focused on how twins (both identical and fraternal) forge their own identities. Being an identical twin myself, it was a very interesting article to write, as it took hard work to separate myself from my brother and become an individual.

The post is entitled “Mirror Image: Twins and Identity” and I’ve been getting a big response to it. Special thanks go out to my parents, my brother, Amy and Jaclyn Jacobs and Elise Milbrant for helping me with this project.

Also, the great Epic Writing Adventure came to a close this week, as the month went up. Because of an unexpected increase in my work load, I was not able to finish what I set out to do (finishing the novel). However, it got me writing and I am well over 15,000 words into my novel. It is good to know that whenever things die down, I have this little side-project to work on.

Rest assured, it will NOT be forgotten!

And lastly, a new episode of The Definitive Answers is now live! This installment focuses on three questions asked by some elementary school students in New York City.

Remember to email science questions to:

And, for those eagle-eyed viewers out there who saw my shirt in the above video, I ask you this: “What do Androids dream of?”

The answer (for those who don’t know), is “Electric Sheep.”

Thank you, and enjoy!


I made a mistake while listing the weight of the African Elephant. I said that they weigh “220 pounds,” which is, of course, ridiculous. Football players weight more than that!
That number was how much a baby African Elephant weighs at BIRTH, but male bull elephants can grow to upwards of 10,000 pounds!!!

I am sorry for the confusion.

Week One: The Adventure Continues!

Before I get to the update on my adventure into writing a novel, I had another article published in the Scientific American Guest Blog about so-called “ugly animals.”

In the spirit of February (the month of “love”), I decided to write a post dedicated to animals that may not be the cutest or most lovable, but still deserve some love … or at least respect. You can read the whole article, entitled “Ugly Animals Need Love, Too” by just clicking here.

Now, onto the main event – The Epic Writing Adventure continues (Week One)!

I decided against blogging my progress every day, as that could be rather boring, with instead doing a weekly catch-up post to tell you how I have been doing in this little adventure.

Last week, I picked up the 15 or more pages I had written on “The Black” about a year and a half ago, and read all five chapters (plus the prelude) and noticed something. There were a lot of consistent themes and errors throughout my rough draft.

But, equipped with a red pen for corrections and a blue for added content, I persevered. And there were some substantial changes that were made, especially in the first few chapters and prelude.

The greatest asset, that I have found, was an outline of the story I wrote almost two years ago on my computer at work during the summer of 2009. There I laid out all the main characters, the overall narrative structure of the plot, and even some dialogue I wanted for important scenes. If you learn anything from this, or are attempting the writing adventure on your own, an outline is a great thing to have (even if it is just a few points written down).

An outline helps you with flow, but most importantly, organization. The worst novels I have ever read were just scattered thoughts, like buck shot fired at a target. Just random thoughts thrown into a rough narrative structure.

You don’t want to end up with this – just a random assortment of plot points

I am at almost 7,000 words at the moment, and I am still going strong.

I have also decided to throw you, my faithful readers, a few tidbits of information about the novel. As I know you are all looking forward to reading it when it’s done!

First off, the main character’s name is Roger Wilks, and he is a lab technician at an experimental biotech company, testing various drugs on animals. He also recently broke up with his girlfriend, which shattered him to the very core. He needs something to grasp onto in his life, and so he dove into work. But that was not what he needed. He needs friends, a purpose and a mission.

Lastly, the themes of fate versus free will and the subject of destiny play a significant role in the novel, as (eventually) Roger is confronted with two branching paths: one that has been laid out before him, and one he must forge himself.

Which will he choose? Which would any of us choose?

The Beginning of the End

With The Definitive Answers going strong, this seems like the perfect time to pile on even more onto my plate (but I couldn’t be more excited!)

As long-time readers know, I began writing a novel in the summer of 2009 entitled, “The Black.” It all started with a few sentences I wrote down at my job, that blossomed into a chapter that quickly became a whole synopsis of a novel. And so, I began to write.

On the right side of my blog, you will see the first five chapters of The Black, which people have shown genuine interest in me finishing. However, when school started once again that fall, it went on the back burner. It was never forgotten, just often swept-aside in favour of other projects.

But, that time has ended.

In collaboration with a friend on Twitter (@genegeek), this is the start of what we are calling, “The Epic Writing Adventure.”

The rules are simple:
1) Write a novel that totals at least 30,000 words (or write your thesis – just set a goal)
2) We have exactly one month to do it (February 16th – March 16th)
3) To monitor our progress, follow me (@davidmanly) and @genegeekon Twitter, or simply search #TheEWA hash-tag on Twitter
4) After the month, we will edit the novels and perhaps even look into ways to publish
5) ANYONE is welcome to join in on the writing adventure!
6) This adventure is open to both fiction and non-fiction, or even any type of long-form journalism or thesis.

If we get enough people involved with this, we will design a badge for your blog or wall so you can marvel at your great accomplishment once we’re done!

And simply because you have read the first few parts of my novel that I have put on my blog, doesn’t mean you know how the story begins. What I wrote before was simply a rough draft to keep me writing … you haven’t seen anything yet.

Things will be changed, edited, moved around, but the core story will stay the same:

The Black” tells a story of a young lab assistant, who after a lab accident begins to view his past in flashes, starting from the moment of the accident to when he was born. But, the thing is, memories do not stop surfacing. Memories from before he was even born …”

Stay tuned for more!

Welcome to Blog 2.0!

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

As you have most likely noticed, there are a few things different about my blog, so let me walk you through the changes.

1) The colour scheme has been slightly altered. Nothing dramatic, just a few tweeks here and there

2) I have a rather large picture at the top of my blog from my undergraduate thesis. It is an immuno-histochemical stain of a cross section of a frog kidney, with different colours representing different components within.
Blue shows DNA, red is for tight junction proteins (which holds cells together), and lastly, green stands for the sodium-potassium ATPase pump (which controls the levels of sodium and potassium within the blood).

3) The title has dramatically been changed.

My blog is no longer entitled, “Musings of a Manly.”

It served me well in the two and a half years I have had this blog, but as Bob Dylan says, “The times, they are a changin’.”

Let me explain.

I started this blog when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biology, and was simply looking for an outlet for my writing. I wrote about anything that came to mind, but since my life focused around school, that was one of the prevalent topics.

However, since I will be receiving a Master’s degree in Journalism in a few short weeks, it was time to change this blog to something more akin to what I want to do as a career. For anyone who has met me, you all know what that is – science journalism.

Therefore, I wanted a title that had a scientific meaning to it, but that a normal person could say and understand in some way, shape or form.

Numerous ideas came up, and were seriously considered. Some of the options were: Blog-ology, View from the lab bench, and Occam’s Razor.

And then, while thinking about parasites (which I do quite often), I came up with the current title of my blog – The definitive host.

The title, even if you have not studied science, still makes sense. However, if you know anything about epidemiology, the study of diseases, then it has added meaning.

4) And lastly, the most significant change will be the content.

While it will still be my blog, the focus will shift from my life to a more focused view on science and that which I find interesting. While I will primarily write about all aspects of science that peak my interest, I will also discuss movies, video games, technology, comics, etc…

I do not expect all of you to continue reading my blog because of these changes, especially those of you who have no interest in reading about science or technology, but I urge you to give it a chance.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy what I write!


The definitive host

P.S. And yes, I pick up the pen and start writing “The Black” again, as I know some of you have been anxiously waiting to see what I have in store for you. Have no fear, the next part is coming!!!

The Return of the King (and new The Black chapter!)

Howdy folks!

Sorry for the long departure from my Blog, but as I have been so fond of saying as of late, “school is slowly eroding my life.”

To be honest, it is not that bad, just fairly busy. And this week was a doozy.

That said, I will never go almost a month without blogging again!

So, here’s a quick catch-up.

– School is progressing, but I don’t get to see all the J-school friends as much, as we are all taking different classes
– I’m taking one class which is so boring, but the people (most 4th year Bachelor of Journalism students) have piqued my interest
– Night classes suck
– Have a new article up under My Most Recently Published Articles (I was the producer of a piece for a school online newspaper about election preparedness.) It went fairly well, and feel free to check out all the other stuff on the site.
– The next chapter of “The Black,” entitled, “The Path,” is JUST BELOW THIS!

Sorry for the long while in posting this, but I hit some writer’s block. Then, I finished it and I just kept getting distracted and did not put it up. But, here it is! I hope you all enjoy it, and the next chapter will be up soon.

Chapter 5 – The Path

My life went onwards from that point pretty much as it always did. The only thing different were the occasional headaches, but I figured that everyone got those every now and again, so why worry, right?

As for what happened with Jen in the lab, I tried not to think about it. And eventually, like all things pushed to the back of your mind, it stopped coming up. That was, until eight days later.

I was in the lab, testing the memory retention of the experimental rats with a quite complex maze. The rats were rewarded with cheese once the maze was solved, and then had to repeat the maze over and over again until there were no mistakes. Then, every few days, we would test them again. If there were no errors, the mice were rewarded. If there were errors, then they repeated it again and again until there were none.

“Rat number six, placing into the maze. Starting clock,” I said into my portable voice recorder, as I picked up the rat with a number ‘6’ painted on its back.

“3….2…..1… release,” and I dropped the rat at the beginning on the maze.

“Number six is progressing nicely, as it has not required any re-training since the initial maze run. It has now reached the half-way mark, and … wait, number six has stopped moving. Come on buddy, move. Get your stupid cheese.”

“Hmmm, ok, well, I’m going to poke its back with my gloved finger, to get him moving …. No reaction. I’ll try it again, but slightly harder… No reaction.”

“Skin seems oddly soft,” I continued into my recorder. “Almost like poking oatmeal. I think something may be wrong with number six. End testing.”

As I turned off the recorder, I turned and yelled “Hey Jen! Get in here!!!! I think something may be wrong with number six!”

While I heard Jen walking towards me from the adjoining room, I leaned closer to number six, picked him up and examined him closely. His eyes were not the normal red of the test rats, they were darker. The eye was almost completely black, like something coloured it in with a marker. But the pupils, the pupils were dashing back and forth like it was still moving around the maze, instead of being stationary in my hand.

“Its eyes,” I whispered to myself. “It’s eyes. They’re black. Black. Black like I saw a week ago. The black … it’s back … the black … the black.”

As if that was some sort of trigger, my peripheral vision began to fade to black.

NO! NO! Not again! I shouted, but all that came out was the faintest of whispers. And then the pain began.

I tried to fight it, but the pain increased so fast and so strongly, that my body could not fight it. My mind, in order to protect itself, lurched into unconsciousness.

And just like before, there was darkness.

Black shadows.

White. Bright.


Where am I?

Wait, I know this place, I was camping here a month or so ago, with Rachel. This is where it ended. It was a campground just a few hours away. We went because it was going to be converted into cottages the following week.

I guess it was fitting that my heart was to be broken on a campground that was going to be torn down. Rachel always had a thing for symbolism.

And then, I heard something, so I naturally went forth to investigate. And I saw our tent; we were still sleeping beside one another. A squirrel had just dropped a nut close-by.

This must be out last day, before she broke it off.

Without warning, the green began to fade from the trees and the sunlight began to dim. All light and colour was being replaced with blackness. Within seconds, I was surrounded by darkness once again. Except this time, there were stars above my head, little pin-pricks of light.

A house came into view, with a pumpkin sitting out front, carved into the shape of a vampire. Around the house was nothingness, as if I was staring at it through a telescope. Kids dressed in colourful costumes would materialize through the darkness, walk across what I could see, and then disappear on the other side.

Then, a man approached the house dressed in a trench-coat and walking with a cane. At his mouth was a meerschaum pipe, and atop his head was a deerstalker cap.

I recognized him. He was Sherlock Holmes, or, as the case was, it was I, dressed as Holmes. This must be the night, the night I met Rachel …

I kept whispering that final word, Rachel, as I opened my eyes and realized that I lay face-down on the lab floor covered in sweat.

As I heard Jen come into the room and yell for help, my mind was still reeling from what I just saw.

Were they visions? Or just vivid memories?

Was the drug causing the same thing in me as number six?

Only one thing was certain: I was experiencing notable events of my life, in reverse order.

But if they continue, what would happen when there are no more memories left to remember?