Canis Major; Monday Flash Fiction from Jeff Baker

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Author’s Note: Again, this one is probably more a poem than a story. At least I think it’s poetic!

                                             Canis Major

                                              By Jeff Baker

                                   

            They’d spent the usual week apart. That is, for about eight or nine hours he wasn’t in their apartment. It was something the dog and the man were used to. Then, the daily homecoming, the tail wagging, the affectionate talk, the long sleep in the dark.

            And then, the weekend. Usually at this time of year with the windows open and the long nap on the living room sofa, snuggled together.

            And the dreams, the dreams where they were sitting by a huge window watching everything pass by. Or running in an endless, green park, man and dog deliriously happy. Or they are in the night sky, sometimes running past Orion and Canis Major, sometimes they are Orion and Canis Major.

            And, upon awakening, it never occurs to the dog or the man that yes, they did share the same dream.

            Such are the ways of love.

 

                                                —end—

 

 

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Friday Flash Fics. Inaugural Edition (From Jeff Baker.)

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          “…To The Best Of His Ability…”

By Jeff Baker

 

 

Author’s Note: As this is the inaugural edition of Friday Flash Fics, I decided this sort of tale would be appropriate.—-jeff

Schuyler Hampton Jones tossed his bowtie on the sofa next to his jacket, pants and shoes.

“As long as I remember where the bathroom is here, we’ll be okay,” he said. He grinned at Jim who had shucked out of his tuxedo and was seated on the floor next to their bed in just his shorts.

“Too bad you didn’t take my advice and wear the top hat,” Jim said.

“Not everybody can pull off the top hat,” Schuyler said, carefully taking off his cufflinks (they had been his father’s) and putting them in a box on the dresser. “J.F.K. did. I think Coolidge or somebody did.”

“And Lincoln,” Jim added.

“Yeah. Big shoes!” Schuyler said, putting his shirt on a hanger in the closet..

“Don’t forget Armbruster,” Jim said. “He was so preoccupied he kept his top hat on all through the swearing-in.”

“Don’t remind me!” Schuyler said with another grin. “I’m just old enough to remember that!”

“A little before my time,” Jim said. “Besides, Forty-three isn’t old. Not for you!”

“Neither is thirty-seven,” Schuyler said, bending down to kiss Jim.

“You don’t look old and gray,” Jim said.

Schuyler laughed and blushed.  “Give me about four years,” he said.

“Hey, how long have we been up anyway?” Jim asked.

Schuyler looked at the clock. “Since six-thirty yesterday morning, going on twenty-two hours.”

“Ow!” Jim said. “Definitely bedtime!”

“I’ll probably get up early,” Schuyler said with a yawn.

“It is early,” Jim said.

“Yeah, Schuyler said. “Guess I’ll get a couple of hours sleep.”

There was a knock on the bedroom door.

“Mister President,” cam a voice. “My apologies for disturbing you but there’s a call for you. It’s the Joint Chiefs. The Armenian situation, I believe.”

“Be right there,” Schuyler said, starting to put his pants and shoes back on. He glanced over at Jim. “Sorry about this!”

“Hey, it’s the job!” Jim said grinning. “We knew what we were getting into!”

Schuyler grabbed his shirt and quickly buttoned it up, deciding to forgo his tie.

“James Thomas Randall, I’d marry you all over again!” Schuyler said kissing Jim passionately.

“Me too!” Jim said. “You’d better go talk to the Joint Chiefs.”

“Yeah. See you later,” Schuyler said. “Hey! Norcross didn’t wear a top hat either!”

“Way, way before my time!” Jim said grinning again as Schuyler headed out the door.

Jim sat on the bed for a moment then turned off the light. After a moment he got up and looked through the drapes out the window at the snow-covered city, the Washington Monument lit in the distance. It was going to be an interesting four years. He lay back in bed and pulled the covers around him.

No, eight years, he thought with a grin.

 

—end—

 

 

 

 

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Monday Flash Fiction for 10/9/17. Finding something in the woods…

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                                     Love and Languish for His Sake

                                                   By Jeff Baker

 

            They stood there staring down at the boy lying on the forest floor.

“I found him right over here,” Pete said.

The two men were just about a mile from Chaz’s parents house. Chaz had taken Pete out to show where he used to play when he was a kid, living near a forest. They’d wandered around to see if they could find where Pete had tried to build a treehouse to see if any of it was still there. Then Chaz heard Pete hollering. He ran over to where Pete was standing.

On the ground was a young man, maybe eighteen, eyes closed, pale. No sign of breathing.

“You think he’s dead?” Pete asked. “He didn’t wake up when I yelled.”

“No,” Chaz said. “I don’t think he’s dead.” Chaz was staring; there was something familiar about the figure, in his jeans, boots, suspenders at his sides, skinny body, feathery texture to the hair, lips that…He’d seen him before, he knew it. Chaz looked up at the sky through the trees, remembering. He’d even seen the knife at the kid’s belt before.

“Should we wake him up?” Pete asked.

“I don’t think so,” Chaz said. “I think he’s a fairy.”

Pete gave Chaz a glare that dripped of unspoken sarcasm.

“No,” Chaz said grinning and kissing Pete. “Not that. I mean a fairy. A fae. A spirit being. I think I saw him before. A long time ago.”

“How long ago?” Pete asked.

“I was about seven years old the last time I saw him,” Chaz said. “It was about twenty years ago. It was a summer afternoon and I was running through these woods and I saw him just lying there like he is now. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.” He let out a long breath of air. “I imagine I’d had feelings like that before but this was the first time I really consciously realized what I was feeling. I was drawn to him, but,” Chaz shook his head. “There was something unnatural about him. So I ran.”

“Did he chase after you?” Pete asked.

“No,” Chaz said. “I ran to my Grandfather’s. He lived near us back then, so I ran there, out of breath and tried to tell him I’d found a dead boy in the woods. Grandpa had me take him to where I’d found the boy on the ground and he wasn’t there. There was grass growing there and it didn’t look flattened like it would have been if someone had been lying there. My Grandfather looked at me and asked me to describe the boy. When I did, he told me that if I ever saw him again I was not to touch him or even go near him.”

Pete stared back at the young man on the forest floor.

“What I remember most vividly about that afternoon is the knife hanging from the boy’s belt.” Chaz pointed. “That same knife right there.”

Impulsively, Pete reached down for the knife. Chaz grabbed his hand and pulled him away.

“That’s something I read years later,” Chaz said. “If you partake of the food of the fairy folk, you become trapped in their world.”

Pete and Chaz stared down at the boy on the ground for a few minutes.

“Let’s get out of here,” Pete said.

“Yeah,” Chaz said. “I’d much rather be in our world.”

 “Since when do you use words like partake?” Pete asked with a grin as they walked out of the woods.

Chaz grinned and squeezed his hand. “Since I get to walk back home with my husband.”

They did not look back at the forest.

 

                                    —end—

 

           

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“The Stark Divide” J. Scott Coatsworth’s new book! (And it’s book one!) Available October 10th!

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My friend J. Scott Coatsworth, a fine author as well as editor, has a new book out; “The Stark Divide.” But here, I’ll let him tell it

Publisher: DSP Publications

Author: J. Scott Coatsworth

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Length: 284 Pages

Format: eBook, Paperback

Release Date: 10/10/17

Pairing: MM

Price: 6.99, 16.99

Series: Liminal Sky (Book One)

Genre: Sci Fi, Space, Gen Ship, Apocalypse, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer

 

Blurb:

 

Some stories are epic.

 

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

 

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

 

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

 

Book One of Liminal Sky

 

Excerpt:

 

DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

 

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

 

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

 

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

 

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

 

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

 

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

 

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

 

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

 

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

 

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

 

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

 

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

 

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

 

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

 

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

 

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

 

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

 

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

 

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

 

Buy Links Etc:

 

DSP Publications (paperback): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-416-b

 

DSP Publications (eBook): https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-stark-divide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-415-b

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stark-Divide-Liminal-Sky-Book-ebook/dp/B074G2NJP6/

 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stark-divide-j-scott-coatsworth/1126901106?ean=9781635338324

 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-stark-divide

 

iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-stark-divide/id1266474103?mt=11&at=1l3vtqV

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35834187-the-stark-divide

 

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/the-stark-divide/

Addenda: Here’s the correct link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074G2NJP6

Author Bio:

 

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

 

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

 

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

 

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

 

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

 

Author Links:

 

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

 

Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

 

Facebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

 

Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/jscoatsworth/

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

 

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

 

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Conference at Night; Monday Flash Fics for October 2, 2017, by Jeff Baker

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                                    Conference At Night

                                        By Jeff Baker

            The mid-afternoon light streaming in through the big windows behind them made the white floors and the minimalist furniture look even brighter, but to Stephen it felt like the middle of the night. He wished he was wearing something warmer than a t-shirt. Augie, wearing a flannel shirt, jeans and boots was dressed like he was ready to go into the woods. Stephen shuddered.

            Augie was explaining what the three of them already knew; nobody had missed Joey, everybody believed that he’d started his long weekend early. Stephen stared at Rich, in his flannel shirt, matching Augie’s. How could Rich have helped Augie do this? How could he just sit there and drink coffee?

            Stephen shut his eyes tight. He had helped the two of them clean up. He’d volunteered the freezer he had in the building’s basement. He’d helped them carry Joey down to the basement in the private elevator. He was in this as deep as either of them were.

            Augie’s plan was simple; put Joey in his own sleeping bag (which he kept in his office), put Joey in the car, drive down the back roads that Augie knew so well, weigh the sleeping bag down with some bricks, make sure it was zipped up and dump Joey in the lake.

            Weigh the sleeping bag down. Stephen shuddered again.

            No one would find Joey. The lake was deep and miles away from any town or farm.

            Rich finished his coffee. Stephen noticed Rich’s hands were shaking as he set the cup down. Nonetheless, Rich grinned and nodded at Augie. Stephen wanted to run, but in the last two days he’d learned just how dangerous Augie really was. So he grinned and nodded too.

            The freezer key was still in Stephen’s pocket. Somehow, it felt cold.

            In the bright sunlight, Stephen felt the stifling darkness closing in around him.

 

                                                —end—

Posted in Monday Flash Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“By the Light,” Monday Flash Fics from Jeff Baker.

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                                                 By the Light

                                                By Jeff Baker

                          

           

“What time is it?” Danny yawned, stretching his stocking feet out of the tent into the warm, afternoon air.

            “About an hour before sunset,” Leonid said, rubbing his stocking foot against Danny’s. The socks he’d gotten him last Christmas. “Two hours before the moons rise.”

            “Four-hundred light years just to watch two moons fool around,” Danny said.

            “’Occult themselves’ is the technical term,” Leonid said.

            “A fancy term for an eclipse,” Danny said. “Makes it sound like we should be drawing a pentagram.” They both laughed. Danny pulled his feet under the covers.

            “Heck of a way to spend our anniversary,” Leonid said, “dragging you out here.”

            “I don’t mind,” Danny said. “Hey, I don’t know if I ever asked you; you dated a girl once, right?”

            “I dated several girls once,” Leonid said. “Several guys, too. But you knew that?”

            “And this wasn’t, you know, ‘before you knew for sure,’” Danny asked in a fakey voice.

            Leonid laughed. “No, I always knew. And you knew I was bi from the time we first met. And I didn’t date those girls and guys all at once, you know!”

            “I know, I know!” Danny said laughing. “But last year, after that row we had with my ex-boyfriend you said we should lay all our exes on the table.”

            “Sure, I said that,” Leonid said. “I meant it, too. But what brought this up now?”

            Danny grinned. “You were talking about a couple of them in your sleep.”

            Leonid’s jaw dropped. He sat up on his elbows.

            “Oh. My. God.” Leonid said. “What did I say?”

            “Let’s see…” Danny said. “You were talking to someone names Sylvia about someone named Javier.”

            “Oh, my God!” Leonid said. “Javier and Sylvia! I dated both of them about twenty-five years ago!”

            “Sounds serious!” Danny said, propping himself up on one elbow.

            “Not that serious,” Leonid said. “We were all in college. I told Javier I was Bi, not Gay and he stopped seeing me. Sylvia was okay with it. We parted friends.”

            “Lucky for me,” Danny said.

            “Oh, but then there was Andrew, Andrea, Brandi, Carl, Reuben, Rose, Rodney…” Leonid was ticking them off on his fingers.

            “You’re making them up!” Danny laughed.

            “Yeah!” Leonid said laughing too. The two of them laughed and looked into each other’s eyes and kissed.

            “The thing is,” Leonid said. “The only one I ever clicked with was you.”

            “Awwww!” Danny said. “You too, sweetie!”

            Outside the tent, in the dusk the two men sat there as the two moons rose above the horizon. When the one passed behind the other, looking like a giant, lopsided moon, the two men began to sing the lines to the ancient song they both knew.

                        Your silvery beams, will bring love dreams

                        We’ll be cuddling soon

                        By the silvery moon.

 

                                    —end—

Note: Story written in honor of Bisexual Awareness Week, with openly Bi characters. Sometimes I can be too subtle about that!

             

Posted in Fiction, Monday Flash Fiction, Science Fiction, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Soaring into Monday Flash Fics for Sept. 18, 2017

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                                      The River of Birds

                                            By Jeff Baker

 

            At night he rode around the city on the River of Birds.

            It usually happened just after dark. Usually in Fall. The birds would flock and fly around the houses. Vinnie had been sitting on the roof just outside his bedroom window when the birds had swarmed by in the dusk. He’d felt them calling to him; he’d understood and stepped out off the roof onto the birds. Barefoot. In another moment, he was soaring with them around the houses, as if he was standing on a fluttering flying carpet. He learned quickly that he had to crouch like the surfers he’d seen in pictures, making himself more aerodynamic. One of the first times he had fallen off into the bushes. Luckily that time the birds had been swooping low and the bushes were thick. He was fifteen now and was more experienced. At night he would fly around the city, see the looping highway and the lights beneath him, and be eye-to-eye with the darkened windows of the few tall buildings downtown. Usually, he made it back home, but one night the birds swooped low by the lake and dispersed. He’d learned to carry a pair of sneakers with him in case he found himself having to walk anywhere. He ran as he saw the birds flocking and swooping over the lake in the near dark and dove for the flock. In an instant he was swept up and into the sky again.

            When it was cold he had to make sure he bundled up to ride the bird river, sometimes only for a short turn around the neighborhood, shivering in his bare feet. Sometimes he avoided the trips in winter until spring. In summer, the river formed only infrequently, and these weren’t always crows. One night, Vinnie had been out on a river of bats, which flew erratically and dispersed too easily, chasing after bugs. But the birds still came and he could sometimes ride them until late evening, sometimes high in the sky sometimes out of the city over the countryside. On those nights, he sometimes heard a voice calling to him from above and he would look upward.

            There above him streaked the starry Milky Way. On it rode a boy of his own age, but not quite his own species. They smiled and the Milky Way boy called out: “Ho, there! Join me on the starry ride and we can see the universe!” But Vinnie could not control where the birds went and they would not take him high enough to join the stars. So, he would ride the bird river home, and ever after when he would be dozing off, he would wonder what it was like to swoop over the heavens on the Milky Way, a ride that must take centuries, not just an evening.

 

                                                        —end—

 

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Monday Flash Fiction, Uncategorized | 4 Comments