Monday Flash Fiction for March 20, 2017

Train Station

                                                By Jeff Baker


            It wasn’t until they noticed the writing on top of the train car that they realized they’d climbed into the Russian zone by mistake.

            “Aw, Hell!” J.D. spat out.

            “Let’s go back,” Kyle said.

            “We can’t go back,” J.D. said. “It’s one way, remember?”

            “But we climbed the fence; we didn’t use any of the gates!” Kyle said.

            “Doesn’t matter,” J.D. said. “We’d have to sign in at the gates. Keep low, follow me and don’t touch the trains.”

            The two men walked at a crouch behind shrubbery and several seemingly abandoned train cars parked on the tracks which ran through the fenced-in area. They stopped behind a caboose, careful not to step on a rail. J.D. pointed. There was a black, opaque column extending upward from a fenced-in area J.D. guessed just north of where they were.

            “Must be one of the American zones,” J.D. said. “We’d better stay away from that. It’s after sundown there. I don’t want to be around any trains after dark.”

            “Look!” Kyle said, pointing in another direction.

            “Yeah, I see,” J.D. said. “Clear skies in that zone and I don’t see any tracks. Lemmie think.” He glanced back at where they’d climbed over from the French zone and glanced at where Kyle had pointed. Yeah, they’d be moving in a clockwise direction; the only safe way.

            J.D. nodded. “C’mon.”

            The two of them crouch-walked past more of the parked passenger cars and quickly scaled over the fence. It had looked grassy with rolling hills from the other side, but now that they were there it was flat and barren of plants.

            “Where are we?” Kyle asked.

            “Not sure,” J.D. said. “Maybe the desert, maybe Spain.” J.D. had never been to Spain, not the real one. They walked around warily.

            “Look out!” Kyle yelled.

A locomotive! Damn! It was positioned in front of the black column of darkness from a neighboring zone, blending in perfectly.

It turned on its headlight.

J.D. doubled over and clamped his hands over his shut eyes. “Don’t look! Don’t look at the light!” J.D. yelled.

Too late.

J.D. shielded his eyes from sight of the locomotive’s light but could see Kyle staggering towards the locomotive, climbing in the cab.

Everyone always said that trains had souls.

And now, this one had Kyle’s.





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

Uncork Monday Flash Fic. for March 13, 2017


                                          The Inaugural Wine

                                                By Jeff Baker


            “First off, I’m not a private detective, I’m a lawyer.” Musselman said.

            “Then why don’t you have a bigger office?” Mr. Wilford asked. “Honest-to God, when I first came in here I thought I’d walked into a closet by mistake.”

            “It’s cheap.” Musselman said. That was pretty close to the truth. He and Pearce had actually flipped a coin to see whose name would go first on their firm and when the coin had fallen under a desk he’d had to angle himself so he could see whether it came up heads or tails.

            “The half-empty vodka bottle is a nice touch.” Wilford said.

            “Yeah, but that’s water. For the plant.” Musselman gestured at the potted green thing on top of one of the bookcases that lined the office.

Wilford set a green bottle with a faded brown label on the desk. “Take a look at this,” he said. “It’s what all the fuss is about.”

The bottle was long with a rounded base, full of dark, reddish liquid, looking very much like every wine bottle he’d ever seen, except for the label which was brown and brittle. He could barely make out a clock face, hands at five before midnight and the Roman numerals I, II, III and IV and so on. Beneath he could make out a date in smeared ink which started with “18” and a cursive signature that started with a capital “J” and trailed off into another smear.

“How old would you say that bottle is?” Wilford asked.

“Hmm…over a hundred years old, look at the 18.” Musselman said.

“If it’s real,” Wilford said. “This bottle has been in my family since about 1910.  It passed down to me but one of my cousins says he’s the direct descendent of the man who bought it at a sale.” Wilford sighed. “It’s supposed to be one of a batch from Thomas Jefferson’s cellars that was served at his Inauguration.”

            Musselman let out a low whistle. “As a historical artifact, this bottle would be priceless. If it’s real,” he repeated. “And you have to be careful carrying something like that out in public.”

            “Our ancestor who bought the bottle, or said he did, was a bit of a shyster from all I’ve gathered. We don’t really know if the story of his buying it at the sale was real,” Wilford said.

            “I’d take the bottle to an appraiser, or maybe a vintner but I wouldn’t bother with a lawsuit,” said Musselman, who’d been staring at the bottle. “If I’m right, this bottle may not be over a hundred years old, certainly not two-hundred and sixteen.”

            Wilford stared. Musselman pulled out a pen and drew on a notepad.

            “This label shows a clock face with the numbers one through four in Roman numerals like this.” He had drawn IV on the notepad. “But clocks didn’t regularly use a Roman four like this one until long after Jefferson’s time. In 1801, it would have been depicted like this.”

            Musselman drew IIII.

            “And as this label would doubtless been supervised by Jefferson if not actually drawn by him, I can’t imagine him not depicting a clock of the era accurately.” Musselman said. “After you’re sure, you can give your cousin the bottle if you want.”

            “Good Lord!” Wilford said. “I can’t thank you enough if you’re right! What do I owe you?”

            “Give me a call,” Musselman said. “We’ll work something out.” He leaned back in his chair and smiled. “Maybe enough for a nice bottle of wine.”




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

Mike, the Wolfman and Me



            The past couple of weeks have been eventful writing-wise. February 25, 2017 (a week or so ago) I received an acceptance of one of my stories that I sent off to an anthology about three months ago, (and not for the first time either!) A few days later (Monday, Feb. 28) I got an e-mail from SciFan Magazine saying that since I’d published with them they wanted to see if I’d subscribed with the magazine.

            I didn’t know I’d published anything in SciFan. I checked; there was a payment in my account. And there, in the February 2017 issue was my story “The Shifter,” the fourth of the Demeter’s Bar science fiction tall-tales to be published (counting two on this blog as “published”) and actually the first written. Influenced heavily by L. Sprague DeCamp and Fletcher Pratt’s stories about Gavagan’s Bar and Arthur C. Clarke’s White Hart stories, they are different in that they are set in a gay bar (or at least they start out there!) “The Shifter” looks good (thank you Kindle!) and is a credit on my expanding resume.

            Today, Monday March 6, I got an e-mail from the editor of the anthology series “Werewolves Vs…” about my story “Wolves in the Cloisters,” which he loved and wants to publish! Three in a week’s time, give or take a day! “Werewolves Vs. Fascism,” the e-anthology in question will donate all proceeds to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The story will appear under my nom-de-plume Mike Mayak, first time I’ve published under the name, which I started using in the hopes of getting into a magazine which seemed to be rejecting Jeff Baker’s stuff willy-nilly. I’ve since found out the magazine rejects everybody like that, but Mayak is launched.

            Three stories at the early part of the year. Such are the rewards of a writer. I’ll have to get back to the grindstone—I have at least three stories underway, with a deadline at the end of the month, to say nothing of a novel I’m working on. Progress, progress!

            And the rewards are there.

                                                                        —-Jeff Baker

                                                                        March 6, 2017


Posted in Demeter's Bar, Uncategorized, Writing | 6 Comments

Butterflies swoop in for Monday Flash Fics, March 6, 2017



                                         Butterflies are Forever

                                                By Jeff Baker



            They kept asking for a story, so he told them about the field.

            It had been late summer, the time of year when butterflies and bees are seemingly everywhere. The three sisters who lived near the field had been jealous of each other their whole lives and when they first saw Marcel, each one of them wanted to have him for herself.

            The first sister lost interest when she found that Marcel wasn’t rich. She wanted to outdo her sisters with money. The second sister wanted to outdo the others with passion, so she wined and dined Marcel and plied him with affection and they even made love in the field in broad daylight beneath the summer butterflies. The third sister sought to win over Marcel with pity and so she wept and moped and could be heard sobbing all over town, trying to outdo her sisters with sorrow.

            Marcel decided he wanted none of them and when he suddenly left town, the third sister laid down in the field to die of a broken heart.

            But that wasn’t the end of it.

            Late that next summer, when the butterflies were hovering low, the townspeople swore they saw the third sister rise up from the field to look for her lost Marcel.

            Here the man paused in the story, remembering when he was a young man in the town he had laughed at the story of the three sisters until one afternoon when the butterflies were brushing against everything in the late Summer air he had seen a pair of arms slowly rise up from the field, butterflies circling in obeisance and he had run, run, run and never looked back.

            And never returned.




Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Monday Flash Fiction, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Monday Flash Fic. for February 27, 2017

16832033_637487209771703_8346055720847872019_n                                   I’ve Got You Under My Skin

                                                By Jeff Baker


            “What do you mean I can’t use the redhead?” 27 asked.

            “The last one who used it didn’t put it away,” 53 said. “It’s all brittle this morning.”

            “I like the redhead,” 27 said.

            “Me too,” said 53. “A day in the spray and he’ll be good as new.”

            “A day in the spray? As good as new?” 27 said. “You sound human!”

            “Too bad I don’t look it,” 53 said, opening the chamber door. “Ah, here he is, all moist. As fresh as the day we grew him.”

            “It’s supposed to be his off-day today,” 27 said.

            “Day off,” 53 corrected. “Just remember to complain a few times.”

            “I’ll remember,” 27 said, stepping into the simulacrum which was still moist from its time in the spray. A moment later, the simulacrum stretched its arms, and 27, now inside and in control said; “Darn this job!”

            “Close enough,” 53 said with what passed for a smile.

            Rock Hard Tattoo didn’t look like it had a spaceship under its basement. In the parlor’s front room, 27, his current human form grown from borrowed cells, was busy adding ink to a young man’s body while simultaneously extracting a few choice cells as the young man talked the way humans often did.

            “So, I told him, ‘Hey, like I love you but you gotta get a job. I mean, I was okay with the working two shifts thing at first but it’s getting,’ Ow!”

            “Sorry!” 27 said. This man was very good at complaining, 27 thought. And he hadn’t even lost a world.




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

Monday Flash Fics; February 20, 2017; “Wild Horses.”



Wild Horses

By Jeff Baker


Their love was forbidden.

Zavid and Zannic were both pledged to serve their own Masters, but they were able to be together when their Masters met to race their horses. Zavid and Zannic were able to grab a few moments together in the stables or in the paddock. And the horses, who know more than men think they do, took pity on them. For they knew that Zannic’s Master was planning to move out of the country, and that Zannic and Zavid would never see each other again.

And the Harras called upon the Horse Lords who transformed the two lovers into horses.

Zannic and Zavid galloped from the Master’s paddock, free for the first time in their lives.

And they say, when the three moons are high and bright in the summer sky, the two lovers can be seen galloping together in the moonlight. And in the dark of winter when a noise is heard in the paddock or stable and men check for wild beasts they always count the horses. They may find two extra; Zavid and Zannic, bringing their warmth to their fellows in the night.




Author’s note: a “harras,”is a gathering or group of horses.

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

Monday Flash Fics for February 13, 2017; “Cold War.”


Cold War

By Jeff Baker


The two men sat on the park bench in the snowy dusk.

“Snow everywhere, just like in Russia,” said Illianovich.

“Snow like in New Jersey,” Meader said, idly brushing snow off the edge of the bench. It wasn’t snowing at the moment, but it was still cold.

“I don’t remember the snow fifty years ago,” Illianovich said.

“We had other things on our mind,” Meader said with a smile. “But the first time we had a meeting here was in September that year.”

“That building across the street wasn’t built yet,” Illianovich said pointing. “And there was a stone building by the pond at the end of the park, remember?”

“I remember. I thought it looked like a mausoleum,” Meader said.

“Appropriate,” Illianovich mused. “Considering what we were a part of.”

“I know,” Meader said. “If we’d each played our intended parts it would have been death on a grand scale.”

“But I was a new father,” Illianovich said.

“So was I,” Meader said. “And we sat right here, shared a bottle of vodka…”

“I remember the vodka!” Illianovich said. “And we wondered what our governments were fighting about.”

“Politics.” Meader said, flicking snow off the bench with a finger.

“Politicians.” Illianovich said.

“We were just cogs. Cogs in a machine,” Meader said.

“Small, unnoticed, pivotal cogs,” Illianovich said, raising a gloved finger. “We were Gabriel blowing his trumpet. Yes, I knew who Gabriel was back then!”

Meader had looked at the other man in surprise.

“But we met, knew who the other was.” Meader said. “We talked.”

“And talked,” Illianovich said.

“And talked,” Meader said. “And your government never knew?”

“That I was colluding with the enemy? And that we were telling our governments what they needed to hear? No.” Illianovich said.

“To avoid Armageddon,” Meader said.

The two men sat in silence in the growing dark.

“When did you come to America? To stay, I mean?” Meader asked.

“1971,” Illianovich said. “I asked for asylum.”

“Mmmmmmm…” Meader said.

“Enough of this chit chat,” Illianovich said. “Did you bring the vodka?”

Meader laughed. “My doctor told me it wasn’t good for me, so I don’t drink anymore.”

“Pity. It would have kept us warm,” Illianovich said. “Well, I’m going home. My wife is with our great-grandchild.”

“Wonderful!” Meader said standing up.

They shook hands and the two old men walked out of the park as light snow began to fall.




Author’s Note: I know of at least two incidents, one during the Cuban Missile Crisis and one in 1983 where Russians in charge of launching missiles and effectively beginning a nuclear war refused to do so. There were probably a few other incidents we don’t know about. This story is for them. —-J.S.B.


Posted in Fiction, Monday Flash Fiction, Uncategorized | 6 Comments