DEFEAT. 041 – Second Wind 1970

[DEFEAT. is a   coming-of-death novella. every week a new episode pops up, accompanied by full art by Brian Galiano. for fans of science fiction, fantasy, video games, comics, war epics, and feats of triumph]

Bursting into tears, the girl ran into her father’s open arms. She was seven years old and learning about the unfortunate end of life. Death. She was learning what it felt like to watch a loved one succumb, to fall victim to the force by which we are all eventually swept away.

He wasn’t her brother. But he sure felt like it, having been there for the duration of her entire short existence. From the very first day Betty brought her home from the hospital, the seven-year-old had been loved and protected by this surrogate-sibling. And now she had to watch as he withered away into nothing.

Nothing living, anyway.

“Daddy, why is this happening? It isn’t fair! I don’t want him to die!”

Stoically taking a rip from his pipe, the father looked at his only child. He was challenged in a way that was new and unnerving. Which was saying something, given the scope of his life experience.

He had survived war. He had moved to America with nothing and made something of himself. He had mastered the arena of political science, becoming the department head of a prestigious university.

And he had done all of this with self-assurance, an unwavering belief that the path he had chosen was the right one.

But now he wasn’t exactly sure what to do. He gently parted his lips, allowing for a light puff of tobacco smoke to billow upwards. The father savored the taste of the smoke and anticipated the rush from the nicotine. This was his ritual when preparing to do some heavy-duty–

“Daddy,” the daughter interrupted, “isn’t there anything we can do?!”

“I’m still doing zee heavy-duty thinking.” He hadn’t completely shaken his accent. Years later, when his daughter realized he had an accent, she’d find it endearing. But right now, she just wanted a solution to what had been described to her as an insolvable problem.

She had heard the word from all of them. Her mother. Her father. The doctor. They all had different ways of explaining what it meant. The maternal optimism that everything would be fine, despite what the word suggested. The paternal idea of confronting the inevitability of the word, becoming stronger in the process. The scientific defining of the word, plagiarized from a textbook. Yet, nothing curbed the inherent terror of the utterance.


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DEFEAT. 033 – Hallway Lesson Plans

[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction.   Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]

Gramps and Daryl walked down the hallways with resolve. Neither had any desire to spend another second in the school, a place that was supposed to foster reason and rational thought but was overrun by small-minded tyrants. Ah, just like the real world!


And also like the real world, Daryl had been punished for calling into question the legitimacy of a reigning power. With his balled-up fist, Daryl asked Brady Moore’s jaw Hey, what makes you think that you have the right to do whatever you want?! For these efforts, the teen was suspended for the remainder of the school day.


The bell rang and a cavalcade of bleary-eyed youngsters filed out of classrooms. They were tired and hungry, teeming with hormones and devoid of reason, underappreciated by their teachers and over-appreciated by their parents. Those that noticed Daryl slapped him on the back and thanked him for his early-morning contribution.

After all, word travels quickly in a high school. In terms of pure speed, the gossiping patterns of suburban youths ages fourteen to eighteen should be studied by telecommunications companies. Without any sort of genuine perspective, most of these students find no greater satisfaction than in hearing and spreading the tale of some rule’s infraction:

Who did what? Seriously? Does Becky know? She doesn’t? She has to. Well, yeah, I know she’s stupid but Jake is her boyfriend! And they’re serious! They’ve been a couple, for like, seven weeks! Well, I think it’s cool that he did that but he’s going to get in trouble and you have to realize that if it comes out that you were with him then you’re totally going to get busted as well, and there goes our big after-prom party that I finally convinced my dad…

And so on.
And so on.
And so on.

Swimming against the current of rumors and unfulfilled potential, both Daryl and Gramps saw a figure with whom they needed to speak. The relationship each held with this pretty young thing was unbeknownst to the other. For one of them, she was one of those rare teachers who was both intelligent and concerned. For the other, she was the daughter of a friend who had been known and looked after for decades.

Worlds apart and yet within the same hemisphere.

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DEFEAT. 026 – Family Ties

[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction.   Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]

December 10th, 1964

It’s been nine years since I wrote you last. I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but I’ve spent a good many number of these in anger. Towards you, that is, as well as your refusal to support my marriage. I understood why you might have been put off with my decision to wed Lukas, but I guess I had hoped you would put aside your disapproval for my sake.

After all, what’s a family if not a collection of people who tolerate disappointment for the sake of solidarity?

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