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Anomalosity III

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Okay, so I wrote Anomalosity III in response to the theme for this months Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group meeting, which was National Preparedness.  I was a little rushed as I was also writing a story for the public reading we’re doing on Oct. 28.  When I read the story to the group I could see/hear it had many faults.  I hope I’ve cleaned up much of that.  So here is Anomalosity III — I hope you enjoy it.

Anomalosity III

September 2012

 

Harwich, England 

“Hello, Mr. Nostrum. I’m the Executive Director of U.C.U.E. And you must be the ‘investigative reporter’ from the States.” The director rose from behind his desk and reached across to shake the reporter’s hand. The director was tall and lean, with a shock of unruly white hair and an irregular but good-natured face. The reporter was less than average height, with a shock of brown hair, and a round and friendly face that fit his somewhat stocky body. “I understand you are looking into the ‘die offs’. We here at U.C.U.E. have been looking as well.”

“The ‘die offs’ are alarming, and please call me Tim.”

“It is alarming. Bats, bees, varieties of fish, some crop staples… When they are gone, what happens?”

“That’s my questions, Mr. Stratos: what happens? Does everything on earth line up and march off into oblivion and something else take our place? What do you think?”

“Anything U.C.U.E. has to offer now by way of explanation is pure speculation.”

The reporter became earnest.

“Please tell me your speculation. I need guidance for my next step. Your network has ears and eyes.”

Stratos took a deep quiet breath and gauged the man standing before him.

“You’ve come a ways to be here, Mr. Nostrum.”

“I have.”

“You are independent. It must cost you a pretty penny to gadabout the world seeking what is behind crop circles, cattle mutilations, and archaeological mysteries.”

Nostrum chuckled.

“I am far from affluent”

Stratos chuckled.

“I admire you, Mr. Nostrum. Most of my time is taken up with fund raising and administrative tasks. Sadly I have no time for fieldwork. But I’ve read your work. You are not a sensationalist. I can see how your books and articles appeal to those with an appetite for the unusual delivered in a clear and factual manner.”

Stratos sat down behind his desk, picked up an old-fashioned fountain pen and slip of fine notepaper from beneath the desk blotter, and jotted down several brief lines.

“Go here, Mr. Nostrum. Seek out this man. He operates a boat yard. Show him this note. He’ll know from the watermark who penned it. Please be discreet.”

Nostrum took the note, glanced at it briefly and tucked it into an inside pocket.

“Thank you, Mr. Stratos.”

The two shook hands and parted. Once outside Nostrum took out the note and studied it closely:

Neils Amondson

Admondson Maritine Facilities

Bjork, Sweden

He quickly did a mental assessment of his finances.

“Yeah that’s it,” he said to himself. “Here to Hoock of Holland, bum a few rides, make a train connection, get across Denmark, ferry to Sweden… Crap, like I can really afford this.”

Bjork, Sweden

It was a beautiful setting, a picturesque inlet with a narrow outlet to the sea. A series of docks and slips lined the waterfront. Pleasure boats were tied up at one side, and small work boats at the other. The sounds of people and machines at work, the cries of seagulls, and the fragrance the tides filled the air. Two men stood before a large work shed.

“You bare a note from my good friend. Welcome!”

“Thank you, Mr. Amondson.” Nostrum paused and smiled at Amondson. “You hear of things that happen along the coast.”

“Yes. Nothing escapes the water people.”

“I’ve been investigating the ‘die offs’ in various places around the world. Bees here in Europe and the States. Bats I the States. Some large mammals in Africa. Some ethnic groups in Africa.”

“I’ve heard about those things too,” Amondson said. “But I don’t think that is why our mutual friend sent you to me.”

“No?” Nostrum said.

“Come with me,” Amondson said and beckoned the American reporter to follow.

They walked through a spacious work shed, out the back side, and across the rear of the boat yard to a thick tree line of conifers.

“Careful here,” Amondson said as he parted boughs and stepped onto a path of uneven rocky ground. “You can easily turn and ankle.”

Once through the tree line they walked along a narrow path. Before long they approached the tightly knitted limbs of a cluster of trees. It looked impenetrable. Amondson lifted the woven branches passed beneath.

“Jeez,” Nostrum said beneath his breath. “Where are we going?”

But as he pressed through the ferny barrier he entered a dry rocky room – a cave.

“We are not conspiracy theorists, Mr. Nostrum. But we are also not fools. I will be careful about what I am about to show you.” He picked up a small electronic device about the size of a paperback book. “Here are two videos. The first is from a cell phone that was recovered from the pocket of a life vest that washed up onto shore not far from here. The second is also from a cell phone, one of our ‘operatives’, you might say, who came upon two bodies washed up on shore about 60 kilometers from here.”

He activated the device. The screen displayed a shaky video of what appeared to be a very large sea creature close alongside a fishing boat, tangled in its net.

“My God,” said Nostrum. “That looks like some pre-historic beast. Are you saying that is real?”

“We think so. Not so much from examination of the video, but from reports from other fishing vessels of terrifying sea creatures.”

He started the second video. It began by focussing on a body in deep-sea scuba gear, gently rolling in the waves by the shore. The face behind the helmet was bloated, the one eye that was open was milky white. Gradually the view moved to frame another figure, very large and dull gray black. A giant man-like figure, but desiccated looking. It was hard to tell what it was wearing, if anything at all. Its head was triangular in shape, just depressions where eyes and mouth might be. Its feet were huge, as were its claw-like hands.

“What’s that?” Nostrum said.

“That’s our question too, Mr. Nostrum. The man in the dive gear is David Sezzling, a member of a salvage company that discovered the ‘Anomaly’ on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Have you heard about it?”

“Yes,” said Nostrum.

“The UFO people think it is an alien spaceship,” Amondson said. “Some believe it a natural geologic feature. Who knows? All we know is that no one seems to be able to get near it.”

“And that dark gray figure – a man in a monster suit?”

“Who knows? But I lean towards the UFO people’s explanation. I think that ‘creature’ is a genuine alien.”

“What about the person who took these videos?”

“The one of the sea monster? That person we believe is dead and for the reason that you see in the video. The other… Like I said, Mr. Nostrum, he is one of our associates. He was arrested and his cell phone confiscated, but not before he emailed the video to us.”

“And your associate?”

“He was released. It was made plain to him that he is watched. He is of no use to us for the moment.”

“Albert Stratos insinuated that some events are related.”

“Yes,” Amondson said. “Have you heard about the outbreak at the university? The sealed building there, the infirmary?”

“Yes, I heard about the quarantine. And everyone was evacuated from the campus.”

“And the town!” Amondson said. “That’s hard to cover up. The authorities put forward that they’re being careful about a virulent case of meningitis.”

“But you think?” Nostrum asked.

“They sealed that building hermetically, with people inside. Still Alive.”

“How do you know this?”

“A call from a professor to one of our associates.”

“And what did this Professor say?”

“Something about the tooth of a different kind of marine animal.”

“The one in the video?” Nostrum asked.

“Discovered in a wood fragment from a fishing vessel that was wrecked.” Amondson paused. “Mr. Nostrum, you see the connections. Would you agree to become an ‘associate’?”

“How?”

“Keep doing what you are doing. You have a public visibility: the investigative reporter of the unusual. If you disappeared your followers will want to know where and why.”

“And you’re not the conspiracist?

“I’m the realist. We cannot communicate directly again for a while, but when we do approach you, you will know us by these signs…”

 

Dyke, Virginia

“Grrrrr! Stop that!” Eddie Shifflett yelled at his lab top computer.

“Eddie! Stop that yellin’!” his mother yelled.

Eddie huffed and grimaced.

“Stupid stupid,” he said.

He tried again to enter his on-line fantasy game. Again the screen froze. Eddie rapped keys rapidly, then beat his hands on the paperboard desk.

“Arghhhh… What the???”

The Blue Screen of Death became a palette of swirling pastille colors.

“Woooah! What’s this?”

Eddie tried punching a few keys and moving the mouse, but to no effect. Then letters began to emerge:

“Am. Am. Am.”

“Am?” Eddie said. “Like A.M in the morning?”

“Am. Am. Am.”

“Am what?” Eddie said. “A friggin butthole?”

“Am here. Am here. Am here.”

“Woooah! Who’s here?”

“Eddie! Who are you talking to?” his mother yelled.

“Never mind her, Am Here. What else have you got to say?”

The colors on the screen changed, melding together, becoming pure, then melding again. In yellow letters came, “Here. Here. Am here. You here.”

“Yeah, and don’t we all wish we were somewhere else.”

“Am here.” The words appeared this time green on a blue screen.

“Okay,” Eddie said. “Malware. I’m talking to malware.”

The lights went out.

But on the dark screen words continued to appear.

“Eddie! What did you do!” his mother screamed.

“I didn’t do nothing, Ma!”

“Am here.”

The words kept repeating. Eddy rapped on the keyboard and even hit the power button, but nothing interrupted the flow of words. He picked up a small radio and stuck the ear buds in his ears. Static. He rolled the tuning control backwards and forwards and found a couple blips in the static. He slowly tuned the control and found a signal, as he watched the words “Am here” repeat to where half the screen was filed with them. The blip in the static blurted into a broadcast. A singsong monotonous voice announced: “A blackout has struck North America. Some networks, amateur radio operators, ships at sea have sporadic communications. Government and armed forces…”

The broadcast ended.

“Hey, Ma! There’s a blackout everywhere!”

“Shut up and come help me find a flashlight!”

Eddy took a last look at the lap top screen.

“Am here.”

“Listen, Am Here. Go shove it!”

Eddy hit the power button again, but the computer didn’t turn off.

“Some damn blackout,” he said and pushed away from the laptop. He didn’t see the last words appearing at the very bottom of the screen:

“Want talk. Help.”

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One of the themes for Septembers Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group meeting was ‘sea monsters’.  And several members of our group did prepare stories featuring a sea monster.  My story was “Anomalosity II”, a continuation of the story I began the previous month.  I’m posting it below.  If you read it, I hope you enjoy!

Anomalosity II

August 2012

 

 

 

On The Baltic

 

 

Loud hissing spray obscured Sven’s observation of what was happening close along the starboard side.

“Bjorn! Something is dragging us to starboard! Are we caught on something?”

Bjorn leaned over the starboard railing of the antique 35 foot lapstrake double ender. It was the pride and joy of Sven Svensons’s family. As family patriarch Sven manned the helm in the tiny wheelhouse, peering out the starboard side window trying to see what the problem was. The fishing vessel’s boom stood out perpendicular from the hull, straining over the starboard side, and the ancient 2 cylinder engine labored against the drag of the net.

“Bjorn! What’s the matter! Bjorn!”

Thomas, Bjorn’s cousin, released the clutch on the boom winch, allowing the net to slip away. The vessel arighted as the stress was relieved. Sven staggered and grabbed the wheel to keep his balance.

“Thomas! What are you doing?”

“The engine can’t take it, Uncle. There’s something big in the net. It’s not just dragging – it’s pulling!”

“Watch out!” Bjorn cried.

A solid thud against the hull knocked them all off their feet.

Sven struggled to get up, blood streaming from his nose. He pulled back the throttle control and the engine revolutions slowed. He steer slightly to starboard, careful not to cross the net lines.

“What was that?” Sven yelled.

“Look!”

Sven locked the wheel and rushed out of the wheelhouse. He immediately saw a long black ridge, longer than the 35 foot boat, that rose above the vessel’s gunnel. Gradually it descended below the waves. With some trepidation Sven moved to the starboard side and looked down.

A huge form lurked just feet beneath the dark green seas.

“Bjorn, Thomas, this is a whale?”

Bjorn was speechless. Thomas stood gape mouthed but managed to say, “I don’t think this is a whale.” His face suddenly lit up and he drew a cell phone from an inside pocket.

“What’s it doing? Bjorn! What’s it doing? Let go the net! Lose the net!”

The great creature arched the back half of its body downward, and as it did the great length of its head rose above the waves. The vertical slit of its bright green eye squarely met the startled gaze of Sven. Its long serrated jaws opened in the semblance of an evil smile. Sven backed into the wheelhouse and felt for the vessel’s radio. He spun the dial to the emergency frequency and yelled at the built-in mike:

“Coast Guard! Coast Guard! We are the fishing vessel Altmark. We are in distress!”

On Campus

“Professor, what do you make of this?”

The faculty head of the Marine Biology Department gave a studied double-take at the contents of the bio-box. Inside the sealed container with the clear top, cradled with packing, was a piece of wood pierced by what looked like a broken tooth, flattish with a keen edge and widening to a thicker core. A pinkish interior was revealed where the tooth was broken..

He pushed his glasses up onto his head and said to the graduate intern, “too bad we only have a piece. I’d like to see what the whole thing looked like. Big. Why don’t we take this to the lab and have a look at it under the microscope.”

They left his office in the faculty building and walked across the busy campus. The fall semester was in full stride and there was a brisk nip in the air. Sweaters and jackets were in evidence everywhere.

He was tall and long legged and his pace was rapid. She skipped just to stay close behind him. They rushed up the front steps to the science building and clattered down a stairway into the basement where they approached a security door. With his left hand on the door handle, he punched a security code into the keypad with his right. She placed her hand over his on the door handle and tried to catch his gaze.

“Please, Claudia,” he said. “Not now.”

Lights came on automatically as they opened the door. The lab was bright and clean: tables lined with glass vessels, hoses, tubes, water taps, and shelves of specimens behind glass fronted cabinets.

“Bring the specimen box over here, Claudia. Let’s get a sample of the dentine into a petri dish.”

They darned lab coats and pulled on laytex gloves. She broke the seals on the specimen box and removed the clear sealed plastic bag containing the piece of wood and tooth fragment. She pulled a red tab that opened a seam on the bag and coaxed the contents into a specimen tray.

She then opened a package of dissecting instruments and picked out a scalpel with a blue plastic handle.

“Where did this come from?” he asked.

“The Coast Guard retrieved it from the site of a ship wreck.”

“At sea or on shore?”

“On the open waters, miles from shore. They noted there was a fuel slick on the surface, but this was floating free from that.”

“And why did the vessel wreck?”

She pointed at the tooth fragment.

“This is not a whale tooth. And whales seldom upset boats at sea. From the structure of this specimen I wouldn’t say this is picene at all. Can you get a scraping from the dentine?”

She applied herself to the task, taking firm hold of the piece of wood and pressing the blade of the scalpel to the exposed interior of the tooth. The light tool felt awkward in her hand. She pressed harder. The tooth suddenly came free of the wood and the scalpel slipped and sliced into her finger.

“Shit!” she cried.

“Clumsy, Claudia. Have you contaminated the specimen?”

“I don’t think so.”

He took the tooth fragment from her.

“Give me a fresh scalpel.”

He held the tooth down firmly, scraped out some whitish substance and swiped it into a specimen container.

“Okay,” he said. “I have this in a medium. Let’s put it in the refrigerator and look at it in the morning. It’s getting late. I need to get a few things done at my office before going home.”

“Do you want me to prepare a few slides? Maybe we could come back tonight when there won’t be interruptions.”

“No. Tomorrow. Put some disinfectant on that cut.”

They left the science building and went separate ways, but she turned and watched him go towards the tram stop instead of this office.

That Night

The soft buzzing… How long had that been going on. She heard the answering machine switch on. Moments later the phone was buzzing again. She reached a hand over and shook her husband. He groaned.

“Leave me alone,” he muttered sleepily.

“Answer the phone, Karl. You know it is one of your students. Tell them not to call so late.”

He sat up on the edge of the bed, his sleeping shorts riding up into an annoying wedgy. The answering machine switched on again. He waited a few moments. The phone didn’t ring. He started to lay back down but felt his wife’s hand against his back.

“Listen to the message, Karl. Look. There’s seven messages there.”

He looked at the phone base and saw the number seven in the tiny window. Seven new messages since they went to bed. The time on the phone base said 3:15AM. He picked up the phone and was about to push the ‘play’ button, but he felt his wife’s hand on his back again.

“No. I want to hear. Play it.”

She turned on the bedside light. She was fully awake now and her eyes were fierce. He pushed the play button and prayed it would not be a female voice.

The first few messages were blank. He could feel his wife’s eyes burning into his back. The fourth message was a female voice: Karen, a graduate student who was not particularly fond of him.

“Pick up, please,” came her tinny voice on the answering machine.

Two more blank messages, and then finally, “I am sorry to disturb your slumber, but something has happened to Claudia. If you care, please call my cell phone.”

She recited a number in a hard voice.

His wife hurrumphed.

“That one must not have sucked up to you.”

“I expect a lot from my students,” he said sharply. “They resent it that I hold them accountable for the work I give them. I’m tired of your insinuations.”

She rolled over and turned out the light. He dialed the number and rose to go to another room.

“Don’t leave. I want to hear,” she said from the dark.

He dialed Karen’s number.

“Hello,” Karen answered.

“I’m sorry. We were both asleep and it took a while to deal with the telephone.”

“Claudia is in the infirmary. She’s very sick. She’s sweating and her skin breaking out.”

“When did all this start?”

“Early last evening. She was complaining of not feeling well. Then she vomited. I cleaned her up and brought her here. They’re going to take her to hospital once they’ve made arrangements.”

“I’ll be right over.”

He started pulling on clothes.

“Where are you going?” his wife asked.

“The infirmary. One of the students is sick.”

“And they need you?” she said.

At the Infirmary

The tires of his Saab ground to a halt as he pulled over on the street outside the infirmary parking lot. The flashing lights of emergency vehicles illumed garishly the building’s exterior. He strode to the entrance but was halted by a policeman.

“You can’t enter, sir,” he said.

“Why not? What’s the matter?”

“Quarantine. Stay back, please.”

Other emergency responders were setting up barriers, and the police were surrounding the building. He dialed Karen’s number.

“Yes,” came her excited response.

“What’s happening, Karen?”

“No one can leave the building. Some of us who had contact with Claudia are getting sick. I’m sweating and I vomited.”

“How’s Claudia?”

“She’s in the isolation room. I can see her through the window. She’s naked on a gurney and I can’t tell if she’s breathing. There are fluids dripping onto the floor beneath her.”

“Where are the staff?”

“Those that haven’t had contact with Claudia are locked in an office.

“Why isn’t anyone helping?”

“They’re afraid! I have pimples on my face and arms, like running sores. They hurt! Excuse me.” He heard the sounds of vomiting, then, “Ugh, I’m sorry. Can’t you help me? Can’t you get me out… “

Then the signal from her phone went dead.

Anomalosity

 

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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/  

Anomalosity

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 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.

Our group meets monthly and many of the members prepare a story, responding to a preset theme, to read at the meeting.  This month’s theme was Immortality.  I prepared a story, but due to a class I was taking at WriterHouse I just didn’t have a lot of time to write, so my story is short, and I inserting it here.  I hope you enjoy it, and let me know what you think!

 

2 June 2012 

Immortal

There was something about the glistening drop on the side of her glass of ice water. It sparkled colors not seen in any of the other drops; sparkles of green and blue, twirling and gyrating. What could be causing that? She peered closer. The drop vibrated. She placed her hands flat on the table, yet there was no discernable vibration from a passing truck or bus she could detect. Why did it do what it was doing?

“Wow!” she said aloud. “What’s that about!?”

She pushed herself away from table and went to the counter to pay her bill.

The drop sparkled like a quasar. Within the drop a figure crouched, silvery white, lithe and nimble. A twist of its palm and a beam shot forth, exploding in the birth of a galaxy. From another palm a beam shot forth piercing through the center of a black hole. From its brow came waves of creation. Cities rose up, continents emerged, oceans filled and drained. Vessels escaped worldly bounds, leaving for the horizons of other worlds.

And then it sat back to consider its work, and its work was good. Across the eons the lights of creation sparkled. Galactic waves of creation, creating over and over.

Within its crystalline self the silvery figure closed its eyes and melted back into its seat of forever.

A busboy came to the table, dropping plates and utensils into a plastic tub. He went to pluck the glass from the table and hesitated. A drop on its slippery surface flashed a brilliant blue ray. For a moment his mind toyed with the vision. Then he rolled his eyes and tossed the glass into the tub, the drops on its side melding together, running into a greasy puddle on the bottom.

 

Hello world!

Just putting in my two bits.  Here’s hoping readers and writers will feel free to post comments here.  Writing is an dream, but my real income is derived from real estate.  Here’s a link to my real estate web site (you can search for Charlottesville area property there):  www.johntansey.com 

I will publish in this blog short stories and portions or longer work.

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