The Fiery Eye by Jeff Baker for Friday Flash Fics, January 18, 2020.

82583757_10159357434216110_7830948870761742336_n

The Fiery Eye

By Jeff Baker

 

“All right, Arden said. “What do you see?”

“Uh, nothing,” I said. “I mean, you, holding a marble, and the dark room behind you, and…”

“What kind of marble? Describe it.”

“It’s…clear. About as big as the end of your thumb.” I said. “I can barely make it out in the light.”

“What light?” Arden asked.

“The light from…” I looked up.

“Keep staring at my hand,” Arden said.

“Right. I didn’t see any lightbulbs, or…hey, the light is coming from the marble.”

“Yeah,” Arden said. “Keep staring. Harder. Harder. Now what do you see?”

“Something white. Swirling. Like…clouds?” I stared harder. “There’s a light, it’s blue, white swirling around it. It’s…the Earth.”

“Keep staring,” Arden said. “Bring it closer.”

“How do I…”

“Concentrate. Like you’re going in for a close-up,” Arden said.

We’d agreed not to use any real-world visual references, just to let this play on its own. Still, I imagined my gaze zooming in. The planet filled my vision. I concentrated a little more and the clouds dissolved. I was looking at a curved, blue ocean with the edge of a continent as if I was hovering over an ocean.

“What do you see?” Arden asked.

“The ocean,” I said.

“Can you see my hand? The marble?”

“No,” I breathed. Just the ocean. I can see the curve of the Earth. And a land mass. Over to my left.”

“An island?”

“It’s big. Real big,” I said.

“Close in on it,” Arden said.

It took me no effort this time; it was just a matter of thinking. I could still feel the chair I was sitting in under me but at the same time I was flying toward the land mass, closing in on a continent, the golden ground the reddish-silver trees, the octagonal houses and the people…

I came to with a jolt. I was breathing hard. Arden turned on a small light on the desk next to him.

“Well?” he asked.

“It wasn’t Earth,” I said. “It looked like Earth, the sky and water were blue but everything else…it wasn’t Earth.”

“And you saw it,” Arden said. “Over untold light-years, you saw it. You can focus not only on things nearby, things in sealed rooms and vaults but on other worlds.” He paused for a minute. “How do you feel?”

“Winded,” I said. I’d been sweating. I shut my eyes for a moment, and then looked up at Arden. “You want me to try again?”

“If you feel up to it,” Arden said.

I grinned. “Let’s do this.”

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been reading some of the Three Investigators books by Robert Arthur and later Willian Arden (Dennis Lynds) which gave me the name used here. The series also gave me the title; from “The Mystery of the Fiery Eye.” —–jsb

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

Tea And Enmity by Jeff baker for Cait Gordon’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, January 14, 2020.

cropped-mike2.jpg

Tea And Enmity

By Jeff Baker

 

I followed Luc down the narrow stone stairway into the dark interior of the ancient castle, lit by the flashlight beams generated by my revulator and by the greenish glow of the device Luc was holding in front of him.

“That looks like something out of the earlier Twentieth Century,” I had said. It did. It was the size of a half-gallon jug of milk, shiny steel with a screen at one end and a metal tube at the other. Luc was aiming the tube at the walls and sighting through the screen.

“It’s based on modern principles,” Luc said. “But it does look like something out of a 350 year-old movie. “But this castle of yours is even older and we should be able to find this thing, no matter how thick the walls are.”

“Pure gold,” I said. Buried in a hidden room, according to what the manuscript I found said. That was why we were in the sub-basement, with Luc searching for treasure with the device he’d invented. He said he’d be living up to his nickname: “Lucky.”

Fortified with tea, freshly made from the antique tea press in the kitchen, we both were waiting as Luc’s device scanned the walls. Then my revulator’s light shut off.

“Damn,” I said. “Probably not getting a signal down here with the thick walls.” I tapped on its old fashioned screen. Nothing. No phone, no webify. Nothing. I put it in my back pocket and pulled out my flashlight. “There. Can you see, now?”

“Yeah,” Luc said, scanning the wall nearest him. He’d been scanning with the dim, green light of the screen while I’d been fumbling with the flashlight. “Hey, how long has your family owned this castle, anyway?”

“Since about 1404,” I said. “And my Uncle Salvatore owns it, I’m just trespassing.”

“Get the gold, get out of here,” Luc said. “Cool.” I could see the greenish light of the screen glistening of his smile. Then; “Wait. I think I got something.” He focused the device on a wall. “There. There’s a room behind that wall. Everything else around here is about a couple of yards of thick stone.”

“Scan the floor,” I said. “If the stories are true there’s a way to open it. You’re looking for metal.”

The lose stone was easy to find. The metal lever under the stone pulled, after a lot of effort. There was a ‘CLUNK’ as the wall edged open, enough for us to peer inside.

“I think I see something,” I said, shining my flashlight around the freshly opened room that had been dark for probably half a century. “Let’s push this open a little more.”

The stone door was surprisingly light. With both of us working, we pushed it open enough so that we could step inside.

“Got your flashlight?” Luc asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “Hey, if we find the gold, maybe we could split it with Giancarlo., if he’s still your boyfriend.”

“He’d like that,” Luc said, as he stepped inside the room. I picked up the device from where Luc had set it down. It was heavy, but I was able to swing it and connect with the back of Luc’s head with a sickening crunch. He fell to the floor.

Giancarlo had been my boyfriend.

Luc wasn’t moving. I dropped the device in with him, and pushed the door shut. It didn’t take much effort. Then I replaced the stone over the lever. The basement and the castle would be flooded in a few days when they re-routed the river. No one would be down here for another century.

I walked up the dark stairs to where I had the tea press in the kitchen. I’d take it with me, but I felt the need for something stronger than tea.

Maybe a glass of Amontillado.

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Written (late) for Cait Gordon’s new monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge. The three cards drawn were for a castle (setting), science fiction (genre) and a tea press (object.)The name “Lucky” is a nod to the story I’m ripping off, er, riffing on.

——jsb 1/14/20.

Posted in Cait Gordon, Edgar Allan Poe, Fiction, LGBT, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Science Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Class of ’47. Friday Flash Fics by Jeff baker.

81565866_10159337688481110_8562635835701198848_n

Class of ’47

By Jeff Baker

 

“Where’s your Brother?” Dad asked. Uh, oh.

“I dunno,” I said honestly. “I think he was headed upstairs.”

“Pete!” My Dad hollered. I knew that tone.

“Yeah?” Pete’s voice came from upstairs.

“Get down here!”

After a couple of minutes, my Brother trudged down the stairs. Dad held up some brown photographs on thick cardboard.

“You know you’re not supposed to be doing this.” Dad said.

“Doing what?” Pete asked innocently.

“This,” Dad said, holding up a picture.

I popped in behind Pete. The picture was an old one, a group of young men wearing football jerseys, some of them grinning, some serious, all of them looking into the camera.

“Great-Grandpa’s college football team from about a hundred years ago?” Pete said, again innocently.

“1947.” Dad said. “I’ll bet you know the date exactly.”

I heard Pete breathe a quiet “Uh, oh.”

“Take a good look, Pete,” Dad said. “That kid right behind the player on the end of the back row. Right-hand side.”

I looked. Yeah, Pete. He’d probably popped in behind them right before they’d taken the picture.

“You know you’re not supposed to time travel,” Dad said. “Not unsupervised.”

“Dad, somebody brought up photobombing in school, and I…”

“Photowhat?” I asked.

“You hush,” Dad said. “You’re going back, supervised this time, and this time, you are staying clear of the football team.”

“Aww, Dad, I was just…” Pete started.

“No, ‘awwww,’ we’ll talk when we get back,” dad said. He looked at me. “And don’t you follow us.”

In another instant, my Dad and older brother vanished.

I smiled. Maybe when I’m older.

 

—end—

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

Farewell to the ‘teens…

49614664_2122154037849157_4664329110451912704_n

                                         A Farewell to the Teens

By Jeff Baker

 

As I write this it is just past three A.M. on December 25, 2019. In less than a week it will be 2020. Something very cool is about to end. In a few days, we will no longer be in the teens. No longer writing ’15 or ’19 to designate the year on a check. Those of us who are old enough will remember our elders referring to ’18 or ’14 as 1918 or 1914. Growing up with sixties, seventies, eighties, the teens always sounded quaint and interesting.

Not that there was anything quaint about lynchings, a killer flu or “The Great War.” And the last time the teens ended we had the Roaring Twenties; a decade-long party (if one believes all the nostalgia) which all came crashing down in 1929.

So, here come the Twenties. Brace yourselves. Let’s make some new nostalgia.

Posted in New Year, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Show Me The Way To Go Home,” Christmas fiction by Jeff Baker. December 25, 2019.

1780186_10153266518945828_1798453373728059158_o

Show Me The Way To Go Home 

By Jeff Baker

 

“I really appreciate this,” I said as we sped down the city street. “I didn’t expect to get a cab this time of night, especially so near Christmas, but then I remembered that app my brother sent me.”

“Well, I have the vehicle and I have to make extra money too you know,” the driver said.

“Yeah, I know,” I said. “I was working two jobs until last week. Then I broke up with my fiancée and the one job went blooey on me.”

“Look, life can be rough,” the driver said, maneuvering in and out of traffic, “and I know about jobs. People think I make a lot of money but it all goes back into the business.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said. “Hey, the street’s closed up here, better take a left.”

“Got it,” the driver said. “Oh, and I’d turn the radio on but all I get is Christmas music.”

“Yeah, I’ll be so glad when Christmas is over.”

“Me too,” the driver said. “Your building’s up there, right?”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “Oh, and thanks for letting me unload like that.”

“Anytime,” the driver said with a smile.

“Uh, oh…” I said “I don’t know how to say this, but I think I left my keys in the apartment again! The super’s not gonna be happy when I call him up and ask…”

“The door to the roof is always unlocked, as I remember,” the driver said.

“Yeah, but…” I started to say.

“Hang on,” the driver said, gripping the reins determinedly. In another moment we were rushing over the row of cars and swirling upward around my building until we made a landing on top of the roof, between the door and an unused clothesline.

“Well, thanks,” I said as we climbed out onto the roof. “I guess I owe you a big tip.”

“It’s already charged,” the driver said holding up his I-Phone. “You be careful going down those stairs.”

“I will,” I said, thankful that the door inside was, in fact, unlocked.

He sprang back into his seat, whistled and they flew away like, well, like a big drone. But I saw him turn and wave. He shouted something. I couldn’t make it out but I was pretty sure what he said. I smiled and headed inside.

—end—

 

Wishing all my loyal readers safe travels, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the best for the New Year!   ———jsb

Posted in Christmas, Fantasy, Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“The Mastery of the Ice” by Jeff Baker. Friday Flash Fics for December 20, 2019.

79991602_10159264503231110_1313139285284618240_o

                                            The Mastery of the Ice

(A Demeter’s Bar Story)

By Jeff Baker

It was a week before Christmas when Andre Lanier wandered into Demeter’s Bar, and we all thought he brought the cold with him. The weather had been nice and pleasant “You could have played baseball on Thanksgiving,” Paco had said. Some of the other regulars admitted they would have paid to see Paco get all hot and sweaty in a tight tee-shirt, but that afternoon there was a forecast of snow on the way within a day and the temperature had already dropped to thirty degrees. Not a white Christmas, but pretty close.

“You have anything warm?” Lanier asked. He was about thirty and wearing a light jacket and a with a wool hat. The rest of us had walked into the bar all bundled up, scarves, coats, the works. He sat down at the bar and drank down the coffee he’d been brought in one gulp.

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” said Mrs. DeLeon from behind the bar. “You used to come in here all the time when I first took over the place.”

“I’ve been travelling,” Lanier said. “And I’ve spent so much time reading old archaeological manuscripts I’m starting to talk like one.”

“Prithee, what wouldst thou have?” someone snarked. Lanier ignored him, but I remembered him from when he came into the bar years ago (I’d thought he was nice and we’d talked a few times.) and it seemed he had developed a slight British accent.

Lanier ordered a Hot White Russian, like a man who had ordered a lot of them, and started talking.

I graduated about six years ago (Lanier said, sipping his drink) with degrees in archaeology and biology. In a roundabout way I found myself attached to an Antarctic expedition within a few months. A Sir Borthwick-Leslie, whose family had been Arctic explorers since Victorian times, was sponsoring an expedition to the Antarctic, what he called “the mastery of the ice,” and I signed on. It was a heady rush to be on such a prestigious endeavor and I was filled with excitement. It didn’t hurt that I had become involved with Carleton, one of the other young men they had hired, he from one of the British Universities.

The expedition went much as you would expect; a flight to the southern tip of Africa, then Australia, then New Zealand. From there we were flown to our base in Antarctica. It was then that we were told the true nature of our trip: the leader of the expedition had found evidence in manuscript, with ancient photographs, of a once-thriving civilization beneath the surface of the Antarctic. If we had a way, some of us might have left right then. But we were largely stuck there for the season. Somebody grumbled that we had travelled all that way “to follow some Edgar Rice Burroughs fantasy.”

We largely found nothing the first month, but we were able to establish another base camp several miles south of our original base. And it was during one of my marches between camps that I got lost. Wind and fog suddenly swept in and I found myself going the wrong way. My normally reliable GPS system simply was not registering, and I suddenly found myself in unfamiliar territory, facing a large, dark mountain. It was at that point that wind and snow began to swirl around me and I looked for some crevasse for shelter. But the hole I found was actually the entrance to a passage; I followed it a short way until I saw a light at the other end. I had felt that I was descending and to my amazement I rounded a bend in the passage and found myself in a huge cavern, lit by some unseen light source. There were houses of some sort scattered around as well as taller structures, all carved out of solid rock. And these structures were inhabited. At first I thought they were ordinary humans and so I started down the path to the structures, but on second glance, I saw that these people bore more resemblance to cavemen; large, muscular, hairy. I ducked behind an outcropping of rock and hid and watched as they went about their tasks. There was a strange atmosphere in the cavern and it was cold. I saw the inhabitants roasting something which I hoped was an animal on a large fire pit. When I was sure nobody was watching, I went back through the passage and somehow found my way back to the base camp.

I told everyone about what I had seen; a still-active prehistoric civilization beneath the Antarctic floor, but was unable to find the passage or even the mountain again. Then a vicious storm blew in and we holed-up for several days in camp. When the weather let up we made a full-scale effort to find the mountain and the passage to the cavern but were unable to find as much as a hint. I kept my eyes on my device, hoping the GPS would shut down, like it did near the entrance to the cavern, but nothing happened.

Carlton joked that it must have been a passageway into another dimension. I stopped dating Carlton. But the idea bothered me.

Lanier finished his story and sipped his drink.

“Do you think that might have been what you saw in those old pictures?” Mrs. DeLeon asked.

“No, the pictures showed some old stone ruins on the surface,” Lanier said. “No cavern. But I have one memento, sort of.”

“What?”

“I can’t get warm,” he said. “I went to a doctor and he said my body temperature has been lowered about ten degrees. The sort of thing that would kill somebody, but doesn’t kill me. I remember the strange atmosphere in the cavern and wonder if that’s how the cavern people survive in that climate. And if I was there just long enough for the atmosphere to affect me. Sometimes for the better. I mean, I don’t need air conditioning anymore, and I don’t bother with a coat in the winter but still…” he smiled. “I’ll have another white Russian. Hot.”

 

—end—

 

Posted in Demeter's Bar, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Science Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Messy Story by Jeff Baker for Friday Flash Fics, December 13, 2019…

78809959_10159239136066110_1386942298197065728_n

                   When Tear Gas Last In The Cell Block Bloomed

By Jeff Baker

 

The young man with the taut muscles sat on the wooden stool and glanced up at the light.

“Once again, Mr. Sandahl, where were you at the time the riot started?”

“About eleven-thirty in the morning?” Sandahl said. “I was on my way to the chow hall.” He reached up and scratched one of his bare shoulders where the tattoo was. “They didn’t have me on work detail until the afternoon, so I got to eat institutional slop instead of slop from a cooler.”

“And before that?”

“I was out jogging with Usain Bolt, whadya think?”

“Mr. Sandahl.”

“Okay, okay. I walked into the chow hall and I heard a bunch of yelling. There was a crash and I realized somebody had thrown one of those metal lunch trays. One of the guards ran past me, that big bald black dude. We call him Curley…”

“Lack of respect from an inmate…”

“You want to hear this or not?”

“Go on.”

“Okay. I didn’t want any part of any riot. I learned over the last two years to watch my back, so I started backing out, keeping an eye behind me. That’s when that one female guard, the one with the nice…”

“Mr. Sandahl!”

“Okay, we call her Mo-mo. She ran past me and that’s when somebody threw another tray, this one at me. This one had a bunch of food on it and I got splattered in the face and got slammed against a wall.”

“Did you see who started the riot?”

“Not with fake mashed potato glop in my eyes I didn’t. Anyway, I tried to get out of the chow hall and had my face wiped where I could see when somebody tossed the garbage can and that was when a bunch of us, guards, cons, my cellie Larry, you know him? Anyway, a bunch of us slipped on the garbage and started sliding on the floor.”

“You and…”

“Yeah, me and Larry and Mo and Curley. Anyway, I managed to roll out the door and made it back to my cell and that’s when I heard all hell breaking loose behind me.”

There was a moment of dead silence. A steely glare was focused on the young inmate.

“Hey, you don’t believe me, ask the guy behind the chow counter. He saw it all!”

“He?”

“Yeah,” Sandahl said with a grin. “Ted Healy.”

 

—end—

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