Something on the Wall for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, November 16, 2018.

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                                      The Palimpsest of J. V. Leiberhofft

                                                             By Jeff Baker

                       

            Ian stopped dead and stared at the wall. His jaw dropped.

            “Oh…my…God…” he managed to say. “Is that what I think it is?”

            Corey nodded and grinned, letting Ian take it all in.

            The room was not that big and bare. Black vinyl floors, white walls, white lights on the ceiling, just the right brightness. The figure on the wall dominated everything. A young man, clad only in black shorts, his wrists bound in front of him with matching black leather bindings, head bowed, muscular arms, legs, abs, chest, the whole package. He was either backed up to or growing out of his back behind him two spreading bare branches from a small tree, giving the look of wings stripped of their plumage. The whole thing gave an impression of restrained motion and grace. Tension beneath a surface. Freedom cut short. It was only when Ian looked closer that he noticed the slight pinkish tinge on the pale flesh, the slight yellowish in the blonde hair. 

            “I thought, well at first, you had a model posed up against the wall,” Ian said, “but this is fantastic!”

            “Look a little closer,” Corey said. Ian nodded, still in a daze. He stared at the edges of the canvas that covered nearly the entire wall, held at the corners by white thumbtacks. In one corner was a small white card, tacked to the wall.

            “Hey, somebody tacked this card right on the canvas!” Ian said.

            Corey was pouring two glasses from a bottle on a table in the far corner of the room.

            “Take a good look,” he said. “I’ll have this ready when you do.”

            Ian bent down and read the card aloud. :”Flight. J. V. Leiberhofft (2107) Oil and Pastel on Canvas.” He looked up. “Yeah, Leiberhofft. I saw an exhibit of his paintings in New York a couple of years ago, but I didn’t…” He had reached out to touch the card. It felt flat and firm. So did the thumbtack. He cautiously ran a finger along the edge of the canvas. He looked up again.

            “This is all a painting…” he breathed. “All painted on the wall…even the thumbtacks are a painting…My God! This is the original!”

            Corey handed Ian the champagne. “Thought you’d want this.”

            “Yeah…” Ian said, sipping the champagne, “Thanks.”

            “And it’s not the original,” Corey said. “It’s a copy he did later after he sold the original.”

            “The New York exhibit called their copy ‘the single most erotic artwork that entered into mainstream America in the first part of the century.’”  Ian said, staring at the painting.

            “And that’s James-Steven Coe, he was Leiberhofft’s usual model,” Ian said.

            “I know,” Corey said. “I’ve spent my share of time admiring James-Steven since I got this.”

            “Where did you find this anyway?” Ian asked.

            “When I bought the house there was a mural on this wall,” Corey said pouring himself another glass. “One of those awful retro-abstract things. I wanted to have it painted over but luckily the painter scanned it before he started painting and told me there was something else underneath. Cost me about $100 to have the abstract thingie dissolved, but this was what was underneath. A genuine Leiberhofft.” Cory finished his glass. “And I checked at the Records Hall and then did a little research and found that the guy who owned this house twenty-five years ago had been a friend of Leiberhofft. So, he definitely stayed here.”

            “And he painted this right here,” Ian said, sipping his champagne.

            “He and James-Steven were here,” Cory said.

            Ian stared at Cory and broke out into a smile. “Did you buy the house and the painting just to get romantic with me?”

            “No,” Cory said, putting down the glass and kissing Ian. “But it’s a nice idea!”

 

                                                —end—

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Posted in Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Incident on a Dirt Road” Flash Fiction Draw Story for November, 2018 by Jeff Baker.

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                                                         Incident on a Dirt Road

By Jeff Baker

The genre, setting and object for November 2018’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge (drawn by ‘Nathan Burgoine) were an action-adventure, a bridge and a sandbag. I wrote this one sitting around as my car was being worked on.

 

Jake ducked as the big man swung his fist with a roar.

“Close!” Kate said, ducking herself as what looked like a crowbar zipped past her ear.

“You got the thing?” Jake asked, flipping the big man onto the ground.

“Yes. No!” Kate said as the man jumped to his feet and grabbed the slender, wrapped package after her hand and took off running.

“Come back with that!” Kate said as she tossed a throwing star after him. The man collapsed screaming, the star embedded in his butt. “That’s mine, thank you,” Kate said, grabbing the package from the writhing man’s fingers. “How many more?” she asked Jake.

“Dunno! They’re regrouping!” Jake said.

“Then let’s get out of here!” Kate said.

The two of them ran out of the warehouse and jumped into the big Army surplus truck. Jake gunned the engine and they roared out of the parking lot into the South American night.

There was the sound of an engine behind them and the unmistakable sound of bullets hitting the truck.

“Glad they didn’t think of guns when we were back in the warehouse,” Jake said.

“I think this is a second group.” Kate said looking in the side mirror. “I haven’t seen that truck.”

“Second?” Jake said. “How many of them are there?”

“How much is this worth?” Kate said, holding up the package.

“Good point.”

“How far’s the bridge?” Kate asked.

“About three miles thataway,” Jake said, thumbing behind him. “But we’re going,” Jake pointed ahead, “thataway.”

“What? Why?” Kate asked.

“Because it’s a lot more dangerous,” Jake said.

“Oh,” Kate said.

A bullet hit the driver’s side mirror.

“Ow!” Kate said.

“Good thing they hadn’t thought of shooting out the tires,” Jake said. “Hang on!”

Jake floored the engine. They lost the pursuing headlights in dust and distance. Ahead Jake pulled the truck behind a large clump of trees. They waited. The other truck sped past without stopping. When it was gone, Kate and Jake pulled open the back doors of the truck and lowered a ramp. Inside the truck was a small, red pickup.

“Nobody will give this a second glance,” Kate said as they climbed in the cab of the pickup. “Let’s see; keys, check. Package, check. Sandbags…”

Jake looked through the back window at the sandbags in the truck bed.

“Check,” Jake said.

“Okay,” Kate said. “Let’s go.” She started the pickup and headed back the way they came.

“Perfect distraction,” Jake said. “Lead them on a wild goose chase, change trucks; nobody’s looking for us going back the other way.”

There was the sound of gunshots behind them.

“Almost nobody,” Kate said, flooring the pickup.

“Damn!” Jake said as the pickup roared down the road, past the warehouse, the bigger truck in hot pursuit.

There was a rattling sound as they raced across the thin, rickety bridge, the truck behind them stopping at the foot of the bridge. They heard more gunshots, fading into the distance as they drove away.

“Their truck couldn’t have crossed that bridge any more than ours could have,” Jake said. “That’s why I went the other way to mislead anybody who was following us.”

“You do this pretty good,” Kate said. “For a man, I mean.”

“Who said I was a man?” Jake said. “No, I’m not kidding.”

“Really?” Kate said with a growing smile. “Well, maybe this changes everything.”

 

—end—

 

Posted in 'Nathan Burgoine, Fiction, LGBT, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Something Unseen for Friday Flash Fics. by Jeff Baker, November 9, 2018.

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                               The Invisible City of Kahyav

By Jeff Baker

 

I am not expecting this document to be believed by the time it is found, but as I shall be gone by then it does not matter. I have been engaged for the past several years in research documenting my ancestors and other Russian immigrants who found their way to Kansas and in particular to a small group who settled several miles west of what is now Kansas City and for all intents and purposes disappeared off the face of the Earth.

The papers Marco found gave us the location, but not the how, why and when of the moving of a population from one continent to another. Their being invisible doubtless had something to do with it. As remarkable a thing as it is to believe, these people were immigrants from the fabled invisible city of Kitezh! We were able to discover what we should have guessed: that the evacuation of Kitezh was connected to the turmoil in Old Russia in the decades leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

It was at this point of wondering that Marco disappeared. A week later I received a message slipped under my apartment door at midnight:

Join Me!

Bring Pears!

Signed, Marco.

Underneath this was a set of directions. I first assumed it was a joke, but I as live in a high-security building and found that nobody had entered or left. Video showed nobody near my door. And I remembered an oblique reference in the papers to a lack of fresh fruit.

So I will be standing at the appointed place at the appointed time with clothing, a few books and an offering of pears from the local supermarket. I will doubtless feel strange standing in the middle of nowhere with a suitcase but I shall be waiting for a door to open to grant me entry into a life in an invisible world.

 

—end—

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The fabled(and invisible) Russian City of Kitezh makes an appearance in an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov. The classical station used to play the overture.

 

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Late (Or Early!) Story for Hallow’een. Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, November 2, 2018.

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                                                               Pumpkin Patch

                                                                    By Jeff Baker     

            The small, tinny voice came out of the first ceramic pumpkin on the shelf outside the store.

            “Hey! You guys okay? Azazott, you still there?”

            “Yeah, Kozmoz. I’m here,” said a similar voice from another pumpkin.

            “How about the rest of you?” Kozmoz asked.

            “Yeah, I’m here!”

            “Yeah, same here!”

            “I’m okay!”

            “Ow! Just tired of bending around avoiding the sunlight!”

            “Hey, how long we been in these things, anyway?”

            “Since genius boy here thought it would be funny to pop out of these pumpkins and scare people!”

            “Hey! Is it my fault I got the time wrong? Six in the morning, not six in the evening?”

            “Yes, Ikonn, it’s your fault we’ve been in these things all day, ducking out of the direct sunlight, unable to pop back to the nether regions until after dusk.”

            “And it was bad enough, and these things are facing where we got the sun all day through these pumpkin holes. Ever tried to bend under a sunbeam shaped like a smile?”

            From under twenty ceramic pumpkins came a chorus of tinny voices saying “Yes!”

            “Hey, it’s probably close to sunset! Let me look and…Waaaagh!”

            There was a tinny popping sound. A puff of purple smoke puffed out of the face of one of the pumpkins.

            “Oh, there goes Dizzralak!”

            “Did he look out the eyeholes or something?”

            “Or something. He was never the brains of the outfit.”

            “I’ve been counting seconds. We probably have a couple more hours ‘till dusk.”

            “A couple of hours? Oh, my God. Awwwk!”

            There was another popping sound and another puff of purple smoke.

            “And be careful what you say,” Kozmoz said. “We’ve lost five of us already. Just hang on, shut up and stay out of the direct sunlight.”

            “Ma, look,” came a bigger voice. “Pun’kins!”

            “Joey, we have pumpkins at home,” his mother said. “Don’t touch those. Come along.”

            “Ma, these are cool!” Joey said.

            “Joey, start acting like you’re eight, not three,” his mother said.

            “But ma, this’d fit in my room and…MA! I picked this one up and…”

            “Joey, put that down before you break it.”

            “There was a little purple man with horns, an, a tail and he just went poof and, and…”

            “Joey, come on!”

            “But Ma, it was like when I’m playing Mega-Monsters an I kick one of the little Gorbots an they blow up an…”

            “And no more Mega-Monsters,” his Mother said, walking away.

            “But Maaaaaa!” Joey said following her.

            “Okay, that’s six,” Kozmoz said, when he was sure the humans were gone.

            “Two more hours!”

            “His Nibs isn’t gonna like this!”

 

 

                                    —end—

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Halloween, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

J. Scott Coatsworth’s “The Rising Tide”

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My friend J. Scott Coatsworth is releasing his book “The Rising Tide” today. Science Fiction and adventure in the grand style with Queer characters! Here’s more, with links!

Book Blurb:

 

Earth is dead.

 

Five years later, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever, a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship. When Eddy Tremaine and Andy Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind.

 

Control the AI, control the people.

 

Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes—people of every race and identity, and some who aren’t even human—must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide.

 

Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history.

 

Series Blurb:

 

Humankind is on its way to the stars, a journey that will change it forever. Each of the stories in Liminal Sky explores that future through the lens of a generation ship, where the line between science fiction and fantasy often blurs. At times both pessimistic and very hopeful, Liminal Sky thrusts you into a future few would ever have imagined.

 

Excerpt (non-exclusive):

 

Cassie climbed the foothills at the edge of the Verge, carrying Eddy up toward the Anatov Mountains. The horse seemed to enjoy being out there in the wilds. As wild as they could be on a man-made world.

Eddy stared up at the vast peaks that towered above them. Even after six years, Forever still had the capacity to surprise him. It was hard to accept that the world—built on such a grand scale—was the work of the hands of man. Or woman. The Anatov—Ana Anatov—who had gifted her name to these peaks.

The foothills were sparsely planted, mostly a crabgrass variant that spread on its own, and occasional wildflowers—though to call anything on Forever “wild” was a stretch.

There were only scattered trees up there. The glowing grass had been beaten down along the path of the marauders, creating a dark and ugly stain across the hills.

It was hard for Eddy to imagine anyone doing something like this on Forever. He’d seen enough of the crimes of humanity when he’d fought in the wars that had consumed Earth in her last decade. But his world was supposed to be different.

The world was like an island among the stars. Where was there to hide?

He checked his loop for the time. It was close to nightfall. His circadian rhythms had adapted, aligning themselves with Forever’s days and nights, but he missed things like cold and hot. On Forever, it was always temperate, a side effect of the seed ship’s living architecture. It never snowed, and it was most certainly never hot.

He climbed to the top of one of the rolling foothills and turned to look at the world behind him. From here, he could almost see the South Pole, the wall that marked the end of Forever. Around him, the walls of the world curled up to meet high above, their point of merger hidden by the sky glow.

Micavery was too small to see at this distance.

He’d come all this way on horseback, while traveling inside a ship floating in the void. It was surreal. He supposed future generations would come to see it as normal, everyday even—but he was still an Earth boy at heart.

The grasses around him went dark, as did the glow that emanated from the middle of the sky. Nightfall swept toward Lake Jackson far below, passing the Verge, the ranches and farmlands, and the orchards where so much of the world’s food came from.

At last, the shores of the lake winked out, and he could finally see Micavery Port, the lights of it, anyhow, as they shone in the newly come darkness.

Above, the golden glow of the spindle had diminished to a silver gleam.

He sighed. It was such a beautiful world, but it seemed it still harbored some of Old Earth’s evil. Wherever mankind went….

Eddy dismounted, lit a lantern full of luthiel, and set about making camp.

 

Buy Links:

 

Publisher: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-rising-tide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-476-b

Publisher 2: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-rising-tide-by-j-scott-coatsworth-477-b

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D8GFSJW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537143258&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Rising+Tide+Coatsworth

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rising-tide-j-scott-coatsworth/1128277505?ean=9781640806276

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-rising-tide-24

iBooks: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-rising-tide/id1393283474?mt=11

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/the-rising-tide/
Goodhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39305370-the-rising-tide

 

Giveaway:

 

Scott is giving away two prizes with this tour – a $25 Amazon gift card, and a signed copy of “The Stark Divide,” book one in the series (US winner only for the paperback). For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

 

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4734/&#8221; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”b60e8d4734″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_f3vjboki”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4734/?

 

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

 

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

 

His friends say Scott’s brain 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 seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

 

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction reflecting their own reality.

 

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jscoatsworth

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

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

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

Posted in Books, J. Scott Coatsworth, LGBT, Liminal Sky, Promo, The Rising Tide, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Of Dark Hands, Eternal Clubs and Roman Spectres

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                                                By Jeff Baker

                                                (October 28, 2018)

            For years on Halloween I would celebrate by reading through some of my favorite ghost and horror stories. In the last few years I’ve posted a list (and sometimes links) on my Facebook page. As I’ll be busy Halloween Night, I’m going to post some of them here. The times we are living in are grim and call for watchfulness and activity, not lethargy but we have always needed the escape of a good tale well-told. So, without further ado…

 

            THE BROWN HAND by Arthur Conan Doyle.

            I am a big fan of Doyle’s fantasy and horror stories, and I first read this story nearly fifty years ago when I was in grade school, but didn’t pay attention to who wrote it. For years I thought it was Kipling. Doyle based the story on an old Indian legend, and although it does not feature the author’s most famous character, it does involve some detective work.  I cannot note the passage of time by a square of moonlight from a window without flashing back to this story.

            THE EVERLASTING CLUB by Arthur Grey.

            Grey set most of his stories during the turbulent history of his college (Cambridge) in earlier centuries, such as this tale of college partiers who never really grew up and really should have been more careful with what they agreed to. This fine frightener is told in the form of an evaluation of the mysterious “Minute Book” of the title club.

            Grey was a friend and colleague of the author of THE HAUNTED DOLL’S HOUSE, M.R. James. Likewise a Cambridge Don, and a master of the classic ghost story, this one blends humor with the tale of an object that replays a tragedy and the ghostly vengeance which followed. Incidentally, his stories were written, not for Halloween but to be read at Christmastime, a traditional time for English ghost stories.

            British writer Ramsey Campbell follows in James’ example in liking to read his stories aloud to an audience. I can’t settle on one Campbell story so I’ll recommend his collection WAKING NIGHTMARES, the first of his I read. M.R. James is an offstage character in Campbell’s story “The Guide.”

            THE LEMURES by Steven Saylor features his detective of Ancient Rome trying to solve a supernatural occurrence, in a story full of the Roman beliefs about ghosts.

            I’ll add my own contribution to the festivities; my story DUSK AT MARSDEN TOWERS was my Christmas ghost story for 2017 and appeared on this blog on December 29 of that year. No co-incidence the name of the hotel sounds like a house in King’s “Salem’s Lot.”

            So turn the lights down low (not too low) pull up a book or laptop or e-reader and happy reading! Happy Halloween!

           

 

Posted in Halloween, Horror, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Friday Flash Fics for October 19, 2018, by Jeff Baker.

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We’ll Be Right Back After These Amusing Epigrams

                                                By Jeff Baker

                                      

            Pete was sitting in the sun, reading Dorian Gray when he started to doze.

            “We are back,” the host said, “and we have, oh, you certainly may applaud the band! Thank you! Anyway, you all know our next guest, back with us again. He has a new book out, a new play out and, well I’m sure he’ll tell us all the rest. Please welcome, Oscar Wilde.”

            “Oscar, wonderful to see you again. Last time you were here you presented the host with a lily.”

            “Yes,” Wilde said, “it seemed to fit as she was a guest host.”

            “You’ve been travelling, I hear?”

            “Oh, yes, Once more across the continent. I did it before, you know.”

            “Back in, I think, 1882, wasn’t it?”

            “Yes,” Wilde said, “and I had a largely wonderful time. I drank whiskey with some lovely miners in Colorado.”

            “You know, you seem to make light of everything,”

            “In public, yes.” Wilde said, grinning at the audience.

            “But you stay impossibly busy! I mean, busier than me in divorce court!” The audience laughed, knowingly. The host’s many marriages were regular tabloid fodder. “Besides the book coming out, you have, how many? Two plays on Broadway?”

            “You can’t count the third, because it’s a revival. So, two.” Wilde said. The audience applauded and Wilde shrugged. “I’ve found,” Oscar said, “that even if you lead your ego around on a leash instead of the other way around, you still have to feed it.” The audience laughed again.

            “Where were they during my monologue?” the host quipped. Wilde and the audience both laughed.

            “It’s art for art’s sake,” Wilde said.

            “Speaking of art, we have to pay for ours,” the host said. “We’ll be back with more of Oscar Wilde and later Pete Barbutti after this word from our…”

            “Pete! Hey, Pete!”

            Pete jerked awake; he’d fallen asleep over his book in the warm sunshine. Pity, he thought. He would have wanted to see Barbutti trade quips with Oscar Wilde.

 

                                                            —-end—

           

           

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 2 Comments