Archive for July, 2012




This is the story I prepared for the Public Reading at WriterHouse by the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction Writers Group this past Thursday night (July 26, 2012).  We packed the house with many guests and the readings, 9 in all, were very well received.  It was a fun night and many of us enjoyed a glass of wine and some snacks with guests during the half-time break.  The story I read, which follows this intro, was inspired by the Baltic Anomaly.  Check out this link:  http://truthfall.com/tag/baltic-anomaly/  


July 2012

The ROV’s halogen lights showed the way before him, matching his slow forward progress so not to cast a shadow over the surface he was viewing. And what a surface! The slow curve of the anomaly’s huge dome stretched out expansively into the liquid darkness. Flecks of detritus swirled like dust motes in the halogen glare. His breath echoed in this helmet. The occasional crackle of the com-link interrupted his wonderment.

“David, is it like what we’re seeing on the video?”

“What are you seeing?”

“On our screens it looks like a perfectly spread surface of concrete.”

“Yes. It looks like that. I’m going to touch the surface.”

He took a long slender probe from a fix point on his dive vest and dragged it along the anomaly’s surface. It glided noiselessly without any sense of resistance. He dropped his gauntleted hand to the surface. It felt absolutely smooth, yet it looked like concrete. There should have been some abrasive quality to it. There was no sediment on its immense surface. Even if the anomaly came to be here just yesterday there would have been a fine layer of sediment on it. And who knew how long it had been here? And how it got here? Was it natural? Was it manmade?

“David, we see you’re approaching a change that is in the center of the dome. Do you see it yet?”

“Not yet.” He kicked slowly to keep behind the slow moving ROV. It’s light reaching into the darkness seemed to reveal something subtle. The sound of his breathing grew louder. “Can you hear me, Ops?”

“We hear you, David,” Dive Ops answered from the research ship far above. “Go ahead. What is it?”

“I see a change up ahead. Is my support with me?”

“We see Steven and Amanda in line behind you, maybe 10 feet. They see you.”

“Can they hear me?”

“No. We’re trying to find the source of this problem.”

“Feels lonely not being able to talk to them. Tell Amanda to get up here and keep me company?”

A moment passed.

Dive Ops called, “Amanda says she is not that kind of girl and that you need to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

He grinned and retreated into the stillness about him as gradually a circle of what looked like stones appeared around a depression in the dome that must have been about 5 feet across. He noticed that the detritus about him was gently pulsing back and forth as though he were in tidal environment instead of 250 feet down in a currentless section of the Baltic. Then he felt his body being pushed and pulled.

His com-link crackled. Indistinctly through the static came the voice of Dive-Ops.

“David?” Then a question he could not hear. Then, “We’re powering the ROV…” The transmission broke up again. “Dave. We think you should…” Then, “Amada, can you…” Then the com-link went dead.

The surface of the dome grew dim as the ROV ascended away slowly, but in the dimming light he saw he was being drawn towards the depression.

He took a chem-light tube from his vest and snapped it. Greenish light dully illumined his immediate space, enough for him to see that he was not just above the depression but being drawn downward into it. He straightened to vertical kicked hard to reverse his descent, but to no effect.

He saw he was being drawn down a tube of sorts. The chem light showed a changing surface, transitioning from smooth concrete to dull gray metallic.

Suddenly he had a moment of disorientation, maybe briefly blacking out, as he dropped through what seemed a shimmering membrane. He found himself sitting upright on a hard surface, eyes adjusting to a dimly lit space. The regulator vented loudly until it adjusted to the new environment. He did not appear to be in a water any longer, but in some kind of air chamber.

There was a shimmering membrane above his head, the one that he had passed through, and there was a vertical one in front of him.

“Dive Ops, can you hear me? Dive Ops, can you hear me?”

The com-link was dead. He took up the probe that dangled on a loop from his wriest and poked at the membrane in front of him. It gave slightly and then pushed back, and when it did it became transparent. On the other side, dimly lit, a figure sat reclined in a kind of seat, surrounded by a smooth circular horizontal surface. There was no definition to any of the surfaces on the other side of the membrane. The figure was motionless. It seemed flattened and desiccated, its head without features, and very long, maybe 12 feet from foot to head. He could see only one appendage, a very large clawlike hand.

He pulled his helmet off to see better and immediately his eyes and the lining of his nose and throat burned. He pulled the helmet back on. Gradually the burning and his coughing subsided. He breathed hard and deeply. He looked at his tank gauge – there was an hour supply left. The mixture in the tank would allow him a quick ascent to the surface if he could find a way out of here.

He stood and pressed against the membrane above his head. It gave slightly and then pressed back against his hand. He took the knife from the dive vest and drove it against the membrane, but it did not penetrate. He pumped the knife wildly in frustration, then swung towards the membrane in front of him and slashed at it with all his might. He could not cut or penetrate it.

He dropped to his knees exhausted, panting. Stupid. A few minutes of panic had used up half his remaining air.

He sat back and stared into the space on the other side of the membrane. Something was different. The lighting had grown brighter and he could see the figure better. It was monochrome, a flat black from head to foot of its humanoid form.

“Help me!” he yelled, his voice muffled by his helmet.

Something was happening on the other side of the membrane. Dull patches of color flashed on the console that partially surrounded the figure, yet the figure remained motionless.

His mind raced wildly. Images began to emerge, colors swirled, a calming bluish glow behind his eyes relaxed him. He breathed deeply, feeling revived. The colors were indescribably warming and welcoming.

Then suddenly a crystalline sharpness, like a wave of frigid air, came up from the back of his mind. And distinct thoughts. No longer welcome. He wasn’t the one. He was rejected.

Rejected? If rejected, could he leave?

“HEY! Let me out of here!”

The seat on which the figure sat swiveled so that it faced Dave, but the figure remained motionless – flat, dried up, inert

His breath came in irregular huffs. It was hard to breath. The tank gauge was in the red. He was feeling panicked and desperate again.

“If you don’t want me, then let me go!” he screamed.

Was that dark blank face even regarding him? His mind was whirling and his skin prickling. He chest pumped painfully.

“What do you want?” he tried to say, croaking and spitting, his ears ringing. “What do you want?”

Again that feeling – you are not the one.

If not, then who? Who are you waiting for?






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I’ve mentioned…


I’ve mentioned before that our writer’s group; the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group, meets monthly.  Some of us write a story to share at the meeting, according to a theme that was set at the previous month’s meeting.  This past March the theme was a goulash so to speak — everyone suggested a ‘thing’ that had to appear in the story.  Some of these things were:  a poem, a conch, a dragon, a snowball, a drought, etc.  The fun was to try to fit all these ‘things’ into the story and have the story make some kind of sense.  Below was the story I wrote for the meeting.  Unfortunately I had a class that evening and couldn’t make the meeting so I don’t know if my story got read and I never heard the other stories contributed by our members.  I hope you enjoy it!

A Few of my Favorite Things

“Henry. Henry! Put that paper down and listen to me!”

Oh, do I have to? he thought. Does she ever stop?

“Henry! I don’t know why I ever married you. My parents told me I was a fool to marry you. My friends told me I was a fool to marry you. My drunken Uncle Edgar who no one credits with anything told me I was a fool to marry you and they were all right!”

“What do you have to complain about, Gladys? You don’t have to work. You spend your days at your women’s clubs or watching television.”

“My life should have been so much more than just languishing in this awful house next to that cesspool out back, just because you wanted a water view.”

It was true. He always gave in to Gladys except that one time. She wanted to buy a house near the fashionable neighborhood where her wanabe friends lived, but he held out for a water view. Except all he could afford was a house next to a salt water marsh at the Northern Shore.

She never forgave him.

“It stinks, Henry. Your cesspool stinks.”

It did. Two years of drought had dried up the small stream that fed the marsh. That and an exceptional low tide had wrung the moisture out of it and reduced it to a carpet of thick salty muck. Even the ducks had left for happier waters.

“So what, Gladys! So what!”

“I’ll tell you what, Henry! I’ve had enough. We’re going to move to a better neighborhood.”

“No we’re not, Gladys! We’re staying! I love it here. You can leave. Go ahead!”

She huffed in exasperation, her face almost purple.

“You make me live in this dreadful place, Henry. Why don’t you be merciful and just shoot me.”

In a reverie he thought:

Oh what joy

could me mine,

what fun,

if only it were

I owned a gun.

His reverie faded and he turned to her.

“I don’t own a gun, Gladys. Why don’t you buy me one.”

She popped out of her stuffed chair, a surprising move for someone her age and weight, and disappeared into the kitchen. He heard the freezer door open.

“Remember that stupid snowball you made, Henry?”

Oh, now what? he thought. The drought had been accompanied by warmer weather. The one time it snowed a couple inches he had run outside and gathered up a snowball to put in the freezer to remember what winter was supposed to be like. In their younger years she would have made one too, but this past winter she merely scoffed at him and complained about the ‘filthy’ ball of ice in the fridge. Over time it had congealed into a solid lump of gritty ice.

“Remember that snowball, Henry? Well here it is!”

She rushed into the living room and flung it at him. It sailed over his head and smashed a ceramic dragon on the bookshelf, the emblem of his social club: The Fraternal Order of Dragons. Pieces of the thing flew everywhere.

He jumped out of his stuffed chair nearly tipping it over.

“That’s my award, Gladys! My award!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Henry. That’s no award. That thing is the pimple on the ass of your meaningless existence.”

He was a short overweight little man, but with surprising agility he scooped up the still intact snowball and hurled it at Gladys. It ricocheted off her forehead with the ‘k-knock’ noise of a wooden mallet and careened into a crucifix hanging on the wall. The crucifix broke apart, the vial of emergency extreme unction oil popping out like a depth charge, and the nailed Jesus figure detaching and gliding over their heads in a graceful swan dive.

Everything became deathly still, so still that Glady’s ridiculously tiny wind chimes hanging by the kitchen window could be heard faintly tinkling in the breeze.

Gladys slumped back into her chair, dazed and wide eyed, a red lump emerging on her forehead.

“I hope you’re satisfied, Gladys. I’m going for a walk. Good bye!”

Unbeknownst to them, a poisonous cone snail, usually the resident of tropical Pacific Ocean waters, had somehow found its way to Henry’s salt marsh. A victim of the drought, it left that dried-up muck and slimed its way in anger and revenge to their home, up the back of Glady’s chair and onto the coifed hair-sprayed helmet of her hair.

She never felt it until it inserted its proboscis into her ear and released its toxic dart like a harpoon.

Henry heard a bizarre noise and turned to look back down the road. There, in the front yard, Gladys was running in circles, flapping her arms about her head and hooting like a deranged owl.

“Oh, give it up, Gladys,” he muttered and continued on his walk.

A half-hour later, upon his return, he was mystified to find emergency vehicles in front of the house.

“Good afternoon, sir. Do you live here?” a polite police officer asked.

“Yes I do. Why do you ask? What’s all this about?”

“Are you related to Gladys Shrimpton?”

“Yes. She’s my wife. Why do you ask?”

“Would you come with us, Mr. Shrimpton? We have some questions we’d like to ask you.”

Baffled and confused, Henry allowed himself to be leaned against the police cruiser, frisked, handcuffed, and guided into the back seat.

The young couple that lived next door merely shook their heads in sadness. They were the ones who had called the authorities when they saw the prancing Gladys out on her front lawn suddenly pitch forward, heels over head, onto the ground, limbs twitching, foaming at the mouth, and a flow of blood dripping from her ear – the obvious result of a deep penetrating stab wound. Hard to believe of the sad little man next door.

“C’,mon,” the young husband said. “Let’s go in. Let’s be glad we’re not like those two.”

“Sure, honey,” the young wife said.

The door to their modest home closed without either of them noticing the mysterious trail of slime that had proceeded them across the threshold.

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