The New Moon rises (ominously) on Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker for July 21, 2019 (way late again!)

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Yesterday, I Saw the New Moon

By Jeff Baker

 

I was between jobs but I was seriously considering staying in town when things went all fuzzy. I was walking down the sidewalk in a crowd of people when the crowd blurred suddenly. I could see two different crowds of people, one set walking through the other, both of them vague and transparent. I didn’t feel dizzy but I grabbed the nearest thing, the door handle of a diner, and walked in. The diner was bright, the windows big and clear and there were few customers and a man in a chef’s hat arranging things behind the counter. There was a black-and-white T.V. sitting on top of a refrigerator. I sat down at a table and closed my eyes for a moment.

“Whaddya have?” the voice said. I opened my eyes. The cook from behind the counter was standing there.

“Uh, coffee. Black.” I said, pulling a dollar out of my wallet. “That’s all I got,” I lied. Since I’d been on my own, bumming across the country I’d gotten into the habit of keeping all my cash in my shoe, in an envelope under the pad. I had about a hundred bucks from my last job and I was saving it as best I could. I was just glad I looked older than I was. I’d been giving my age as nineteen. That was a few years off. I glanced outside through the window; there seemed to be less people on the street than before. And the blurring transparent effect was gone. I rubbed my eyes. The T.V. had the sound off but they were playing that really short Bicentennial show from a few years ago. They’d played it every night, but wasn’t all that over?

“Hi,” said a high wavering voice. The speaker looked to be about 25 or so, standing by my table wearing a green button-down shirt with a large collar and blue jeans. Nice, I thought.

“Mind if I sit down?” he said. “I think you’re…like me.”

I indicated the seat across from me in the booth. He sat down and grinned.

“I noticed you when you wandered in.” he said. “I’m Ray. Ray Scott.”

“Bryce Going,” I said. We shook hands. His hand felt funny, like touching something when you’ve been shot full of Novocain. “What do you mean, ‘like me?’?”

“The wild side. The other team. The third sex. In the life.” Ray was grinning broader. “But then, you’re not like me too.”

Rather than deny it I asked how he could tell, not “what makes you think that.”

The cook brought my coffee. I sipped. It felt good somehow. Good and normal.

“I can tell,” Ray said. “I mean, now I can. It would have come in handy about nineteen-sixty-nine, let me tell you.” He looked right at me. “You saw two different streets out there, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said sipping more of the coffee. “I thought I might be passing out or something.”

“Not passing out, passing through,” Ray said. “You know what a double exposure is?”

“Sure,” I said. I’d taken a Photography class from Mr. Anders in High School. The darkroom had been built to one side of his science classroom, blocking off the windows. I’d made out with a couple of guys in there. “Double exposure is when you print frames from two different negatives on the same photographic paper. If you do it right, you can make someone look like they’re a transparent figure in a real scene, like a…”

“Ghost.” Ray was grinning broader. “Look.”

Ray raised his hand and put it in front of the window. I could see a couple of the buildings through his hand. I sat there and stared for a moment.

“I’m dead.” I said. “I’ve had a lot of weird things happen to me, and now I’m dead.”

“Naaaa! You’re not dead!” Ray said. “But you stumbled into a world of the dead. But you’re alive so you can’t stay. This world will force you out.”

I let out a long breath. “Do I have time for another cup of coffee?”

“Yeah. Maybe two,” Ray said with a laugh. I ordered another coffee.

“So, what happened in sixty-nine?” I asked.

“I picked up this guy at the showers behind the pool one night,” Ray said. “When the pool was closed for the season that was a local pickup joint. We were supposedly going to his place but when we went down this alley two of his buddies jumped me. They beat me up and left me for dead.” He sighed. “Which is how I wound up.” Ray shook his head. “I wish I could still drink coffee.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. What do you say in a situation like that?

“So, enough about me,” Ray said. “What’s your story?”

I told him all about my folks bailing out on me and how I ran rather than be a gay sixteen-year-old in a youth center. Ray listened attentively and then looked right at me.

“Listen; where I’m at right now, time has no real meaning. I can glimpse things. You need to be careful.”

“I know,” I said.

“No,” Ray said. “You don’t. There’s something coming, something bad. It could kill you. You need to take precautions.”

Ray outlined what he could as I drank my coffee. I didn’t quite understand, but I did listen. And afterward, I knew it was time to leave. Ray grinned again and waved as I got up. I looked out the windows; still bright, late-afternoon sunshine. When walked out the door, it was dark. Early evening I thought. I looked behind me; the diner was closed and shuttered and probably had been for a long time. I saw a crescent Moon on the horizon, and I remembered an old poem I’d read once:

Last night I saw the New Moon

With the Old Moon in her arms

And I fear I fear my Mistress dear

That we shall come to harm.

 

—end—

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“Reverse Sweep” for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, July 13, 2019

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                                                          Reverse Sweep

By Jeff Baker

 

Eli was sitting in the hotel window wearing just a pair of jeans looking buff and tanned.

“Over there,” he said pointing. “I lived there about ten years ago.”

“Yeah?” Mack said.

“Back when I was going to school,” Eli said. “I was doing graduate work but I never finished it.”

“Life takes some funny twists,” Mack said, pouring himself a soda from the small hotel fridge.

“Tell me about it,” Eli said. “I really never expected I’d be back here and, and, oh boy…”

Eli stiffened, suddenly doubled over as if he’d sneezed. When he stood up again, he had long hair and a complete female anatomy.

“This has got to stop,” Eli said. “All the people who are paying money to transition and it happens to me all the time.”

“Yeah,” Mack said. “But I’ll tell you one thing.” He stepped over and kissed Eli. “It sure comes in handy that I’m Bi!”

“Mmmm-Hmmmm!” Eli and Mack kissed again.

“Hey, maybe you should start calling yourself Elinore?”

“Shut up and kiss me!”

 

—end—

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“Invasion of the Saucer Men” by Jeff Baker, for Friday Flash Fics, July 5, 2019

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                                               Invasion of the Saucer-Men

By Jeff Baker

 

“They’re coming,” Greg said. “And we’re the only ones who know it.”

“What do you mean?” Doug asked.

“See that over there? The cloud, looks like a big saucer?”

“Yeah?” Doug said.

“It is a saucer, perfectly camouflaged,” Greg said. “Even the lightning isn’t really lightning. No lightning rod will deflect what they’ve got. And the Army, the Air Force won’t be able to do anything. That thing doesn’t just look like a cloud, it acts like one. Not solid. Planes, bullets, bombs will fly right through it. And we’re right here in the CN Tower. Sitting. Ducks.”

Greg stared out the window. The cloud was getting closer; they could see the flashes of lightning.

“Moooooooooom!!!!!!” Doug yelled. “Greggy’s trying to scare me again!”

And doing a darn good job of it too, Greg thought.

“Honestly!” Mother said from the next table. “We get all dressed up, you too, we treat you like adults, let you sit at your own table at the restaurant and now this. Greg, you quit trying to scare your brother. And Doug, quit yelling. You two are nearly ten and twelve years old for Heaven’s sake! Honestly, if I ever thought…”

Greg sipped his glass of soda and tried not to smile.

 

—end—

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Out Of the Freezer for Friday Flash Fics, June 28, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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Introducing Dave Danger!

By Jeff Baker

 

I thought he looked familiar when he sat down across from my desk and handed me the sheet of paper. First of all, hardly anybody does this on paper anymore. Second, he was wearing old-fashioned slacks and a tan tee-shirt. Most people opted for the formal robe and short pants. Of course, he would have looked good in short pants. He was one of those blond guys who gets a good tan and I was thinking that and staring instead of doing my job.

“Uh, are you all finished?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “There’s a problem. It won’t let me fill this out.”

“What, the tabla rosa?” I asked.

He thumbed over at the row of computers on the table.

“I can’t fill out this jobs form on that computer thingie,” he said.

“That’s the tabla rosa. What seems to be the difficulty?” I asked, trying to be professional and not look at how his chest filled out the shirt.

“I keep, uh, typing in my age and this thing won’t accept it.”

“Okay,” I said.

“’Too many digits,’ is the thing that keeps popping up.”

“What’s your birthdate?” I asked.

“January Eleventh, Nineteen-Ninety-Seven,” he said.

“Nineteen?” I blurted out.

“Yeah,” the man said. “I was in the ice chest for a while. That makes me one-hundred and sixty-one years old.” He saw me staring at him and grinned. “Yeah, I don’t look it.

Three digits. The computer thingie keeps saying I need the form for retirement, not taxes.”

“Oh, my Gault!” I gasped out. “I saw you on the news! Disarming that gunman and falling out that window, and grabbing that tree branch! You’re Dave Danger!”

“I wish they hadn’t started calling me that!” the man said, extending his hand. “Andrew David Llewellyn Ethan Piltzer.”

“Alberto,” I said. “Alberto Arrango. Uh, I’m sorry about, uh”

“When I was a kid, they called it going all geeky,” Andrew said.

The story had been all over the place; a convicted icer (that’s what they called them) had been released and thawed when some evidence turned up. Said icer was a sort of, what did they call them, free-lance adventurer for hire. I was never that great at history.

And now, history was sitting across the desk from me.

“When they put me in the Ice Chest, back in ’26, they thought they were getting rid of me,” Andrew said. “Which I guess they did. Maybe they should have had me fill out forms instead. Might have been more effective.”

“What happened?” I asked. “If you don’t mind my asking.”

“I was set up,” Andrew said. “By a guy named Magnus Hawke. The irony, I guess, is that I’m about the only person alive who remembers that name.”

“Magnus Hawke,” I said. “I’ve known that name since I was in school. Master criminal, regularly thwarted by Dave Dang…by you, I mean.”

“They teach espionage history in school now?” Andrew asked.

“No, I studied all this after class. I guess I got obsessed for a while,” I said. “I would have made a lousy adventurer or I would have tried to get a job doing that.”

“Most of the time it only paid under the table,” Andrew said.

“Look, I’m not really helping,” I said. “I’ll send you a copy of form A67. That one covers, uh, extenuating circumstances.”

“Thanks,” Andrew said. He stood up and shook my hand again.

“Well, I won’t need this,” Andrew said, waving the paper in the air with a flourish. He seemed to specialize in flourishes, I realized. “But maybe you do.”

He pulled out a pen (with another flourish) and scrawled something on the back of the paper.

“Call me,” he said as he walked off. “Or text me, message me, contact me. Whatever they call it these days.”

He was grinning as he walked out the door.

 

—end—

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been watching a 1960s British TV adventure show called “Adam Adamant Lives” about a Victorian Era adventurer who is frozen by his enemies and thaws out just in time to see (and be appalled by) Swinging London of the 60s. I couldn’t resist trying my hand at it.

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The Lake at Evening; Friday Flash Fics for June 21, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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The Lake at Evening

By Jeff Baker

 

“Look! The lake’s receding. It’s starting!”

I pointed across the darkening sky. The lights of the town on the other island were twinkling. I could make out the spires of a couple of the buildings in the dim light.

“I see,” Kendall said, putting his hand on my shoulder. As we watched, the water silently pulled away, leaving the firm ground exposed. A yearly phenomenon that exposed walking paths to the island. Not as important as it had been in the days before air skimmers, boats and bridges. But the festival on the island city remained a tradition from ancient times, though sources were unclear as to whether the original islanders were celebrating the island becoming accessible to the mainland or becoming inaccessible when the waters rolled back in three days.

“Want to go over there?” Kendall asked. “Take in the city? Buy a couple of cheap souvenirs?”

I grinned. “Weren’t we just over there the other day?”

“Yeah, but this is tradition. And remember, we were both over there five years ago for the Festival?”

I remembered. I’d been eating sanded lakefish, he’d just bought a mug of Sarga and asked if he could sit down at my table. We got to talking and had walked around the city, taking in the sights and the street shows. We’d kissed for the first time during the fireworks.

“Maybe tomorrow,” I said. “I like where we are right now.”

We stood there quietly. We could barely hear the music, drifting across the lakebed.

“Lakefish for lunch tomorrow,” I said. “With Sarga.”

Kendall nodded and held me close.

The stars were coming out as we stood there and hugged and kissed, the popping of fireworks in the distance echoing in the air.

 

—end—

 

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Oh Moon, Thou Climb’st the Skies; Friday Flash Fics for June 13, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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                          Oh Moon, Thou Climb’st The Skies

By Jeff Baker

 

The weather was warm, the rainbow flags were flying and I was feeling as conspicuous as hell in my “Nobody Knows I’m Bi” t-shirt.

“Relax,” Schuyler said. “You’re as stiff as…well, this is a party! It’s Pride Month! Gay Mardi Gras!”

“Yeah,” I said.” But if we weren’t 1,400 miles away from Wichita, I probably wouldn’t be wearing the shirt,” I said.

“Hey, Billy,” Schuyler said. “Coming out isn’t easy for anybody. But you’re here, you’re wearing that cool shirt and nobody’s going to…Hey! Hey! Over here!”

Schuyler waved, and two people waved from across the street full of waving flags. They were about my age, twenty-something; the girl with long blond hair, jeans and a white tee-shirt with rainbow stripes around the middle; the guy in black jeans, a black tank top and a rainbow striped top hat. Striped top hat looked like he was feeling no pain.

“Guys!” Schuyler said. “Meet a friend of mine, he’s just out.”

“Wha?” the girl said. The crowd was getting pretty loud.

“I said, THIS IS BILLY GONZALEZ,” Schuyler yelled. “WE WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER. HE JUST CAME OUT A WHILE BACK!”

“Hey,” the guy said, flashing a peace sign. He introduced himself as Leo. The girl was Melinda. I allowed myself a lingering glance at Leo’s bare arms.

“Let’s sit down over here,” Melinda said. “Less noisy.”

The makeshift outdoor café was further away from the street. We sat down at the table and ordered drinks. Schuyler finished his in a couple of gulps. Then he had another one. Like Leo, he was feeling no pain. He’d done the same thing when we were in college.

“This makes me think of France,” Schuyler said. “About eighty-four or eighty-three. The Queen wasn’t too crazy about me so I went there,”

“I got some queens who don’t like me, either.” Leo said.

“Yeah, but I remember us marching through France on a street like this and they were waving flags a lot like this,” Schuyler said. “Or, maybe it wasn’t France. Maybe it was further north. I think it was. Sir Phillip was with me.”

Schuyler always got like this when he was drunk. Harmless, but nuts.

“We were heading through Zutphen. That was when the Spanish came,” he said. He was speaking strangely accented English. He’d done it before. “They were going to engage us. We were near the water. I had lost one of my cuisses in the long march. Sir Phillip gave me his, saying ‘Edward! I will not be better-armored then my own men and he bade me take his.’”

“Ooooooo!” Leo said.

“Oh, Phillip, Phillip, the arrow came too fast,” Schuyler said. “And you, un-armored in your thigh. I could never profess my love.” Then he began reciting:

“With how sad steps, Oh Moon, thou climb’st the skies,

How silently and with how wan a face…”

All this sounded familiar. One night in the dorm, Anthony Cardno, a psych major, had hypnotized Schuyler and supposedly taken him back over 400 years in his own memory. I’d remembered a lot of it and had told one of my professors a while later, and he was amazed at all the detail. Detail he’d said Schuyler couldn’t have known. Schuyler was no history geek; he thought the American Revolution had something to do with RPMs. And he didn’t give a damn about poetry. Especially Elizabethan poetry. Reincarnation, or somehow picking up on lives of people who had lived before, wasn’t the strangest thing I’d run into.

“He’ll be okay,” I said. “I’ll get him to the hotel and he’ll sleep it off.”

“You’re a good friend, Billy,” Melinda said.

“Yeah,” Leo said.

They both stood up and kissed me. In public. I was surprised. I smiled.

“Happy Pride,” Leo said.

I was remembering the lines I’d heard before:

Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?

Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

I sat back, feeling a lot more relaxed. Sometimes, you have to be who you are.

—end—

 

 

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Mischief Following Anger for Friday Flash Fics, June 7, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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Mischief Following Anger

By Jeff Baker

 

I discovered one of my ancestors was a witch right before my twenty-fifth birthday. I inherited a box of pictures from my Great Grandmother. It included a letter from her Great Grandmother warning about the influence of Naomi Harker, who had died in 1699. I had the feeling the letter was meant for me. That was when I started doing research into the family history. The internet was a wonderful resource. I found out that a lot of women in my family had greenish-blue eyes, like mine. But I wasn’t a woman, of course. I found that Naomi hadn’t been the only family member accused of witchery; there had been four sisters burned in England, and several others had been accused during the proceeding centuries.

Time, some sources said, meant nothing to a witch. But a witch was nothing until reunited with her coven. Twelve witches and a male sorcerer; an acolyte who was their go-between in their dealings with the dark forces. I lay awake one night, wondering what it had been like for these ancestors in the superstitious past. I suddenly remembered: I had found a line of witches stretching back to the Fourteenth Century. Twelve witches in all.

There was a wind blowing in my room, a fire burning in the ancient stone fireplace (where there had only been a space heater before.) I could hear the call of wild animals outside, and see moonlight, but there was no moon.

My eyes were glowing blue-green as I rose to greet the twelve women who appeared in the dark and to take the flowing robe they offered me.

 

—end—

 

 

 

NOTE: The title comes from a Seventeenth Century charge brought against supposed witches. —-jsb.

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