“Hello? This is special agent Gobbler calling agent Goosey-Loosey. I’ve found Agent Tom Turkey, and it doesn’t look pretty. Yeah, like we figured. Plucked. Stuffed. Cooked. No, not the Pellegrini Boys, not this time. And not B.U.T.T.E.R.B.A.L.L. either. No, I think it was an inside job. Turkey-Lurkey. Yes. I’m having him picked up. What? Why? Easy. Turkey-Lurkey was wearing an apron. Something he wouldn’t have done unless the act was premeditated. Motive? Jealousy, I guess. Tom had all the hens following his wiggling tail…”
Bragging on myself here, but I did a bunch of writing in the last few hours. Mainly fragments of other stories, the ending for “Summer Job,” my story from the 90s I never really did much on then. Really re-wrote the ending from memory, but I have a synopsis and the characters and am waiting on some background from a friend. Also, wrote a fragment, a scene having two characters in a regular mystery series I’m writing talking about something that happened when they were kids. The talking is happening in about 103 B.C. Also wrote a really short-short Friday Flash Fics story I will post tomorrow!
Okay, I haven’t been posting these lately, but I did do a little more writing than I thought I would! (Been lazy lately!) I finished the QSF column, started another, wrote both the Friday Flash Fics story and the monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge story. Nice to have both of those things around! I appreciate the distraction even if it is “not unlike having an English theme hanging over your head for the rest of your life.” (Paraphrasing Charles M. Schultz.) Not really sure when I posted the last of these!
AND I finished a full-length fantasy pulp-type adventure story early this morning (about 3:30a.m. or so) that I’m aiming for Cirsova Magazine when they start accepting submissions again!
What with every messy thing that’s going on, I told myself I wouldn’t get under any big deadlines, so I’m only going to start one longer story; one originally called “Summer Job” which I started in the mid-90s when i was heavily under the influence of Tom Reamy. (I am no Tom Reamy!) I tried to find my handwritten notes and part of the story I’d started, but as it was all just a lengthy prologue, I will ditch that as I remember the setting, the characters and the kicker. I’m probably a better writer now than I was 25 years ago (!!!!) I’ll try to have it done sometime in January, so I’m going to type up the notes tonight.
AND I got my copy of Steven Saylor’s novel “Throne of Caesar.” On that, more anon.
My hand still smarted under the bandage; at least I only needed stitches and hadn’t cut off anything on the slicer I was using in the back kitchen I was working at. Also, the emergency room doctor didn’t ask too many questions; he believed me when I said I was nineteen and that my name was Bryce Going and I was travelling around the country. Only the last part was true.
When he told me to get upstairs to get a couple of shots, I went. I was just glad nobody asked for my address.
The hospital was being expanded and construction was everywhere, which was probably the reason I needed to get my shots upstairs. Luckily I found my way to the elevator. I’d never liked elevators and I liked this one even less; it was in the original part of the building and had probably been designed by Ben Franklin or something. When I was little I’d liked to run my finger over the rounded button in an old elevator shaped like a globe with ridges but I still didn’t like being in them. And I liked this one even less when it shuddered to a halt and the emergency light went on when the other lights flickered out. I pressed the call button when I heard a noise up above and I looked up to see a panel pulled open and a man in some sort of uniform, complete with a rifle strapped to his back looked down at me.
“Here, take my hand,” he said, reaching down to grab me. I reached out with my unbandaged hand, I thought to fend him off but he was strong enough to pull me up to the top of the elevator. In the dim light of the shaft I noticed a carved stone doorway to one side, not the side the doors opened on.
“We’ve got to go,” the man said. “This way.”
He pulled me through the doorway and we had to crouch down, as it wasn’t very big. The man quickly explained that this was an emergency tunnel that they were closing before the construction exposed their “operation.” I was ready to make a crack about a hospital being a good place for an operation, but I kept my mouth shut. He closed a door behind us and pulled out a flashlight that looked like it had been carved out of wood, but with a lightbulb as we proceeded through the tunnel. After a bit, we could stand up and I realized we were heading downward. We made a few turns and came to another door. We stepped in and I felt a rush of air in the near darkness. We walked on towards a dim light that grew brighter. I could see and feel some carvings on the wall beside me. Just as I was able to make out shadows on a smooth stone wall a distance away, a burly figure stepped into the flashlight beam and held up a hand. His other hand had a mean-looking rifle in it. (To me, all rifles looked mean when they were pointed my way, even by a guy with a broad chest and deep, blue eyes.)
“Who enters the Sanctity of the Cavern?” the figure demanded.
“I, Davhos,” my companion said. “I have brought back our straggler, see?”
Davhos indicated me and I was given the once-over by the big man.
“This is not Imohk!” the man said. “You have brought a stranger here!”
There was a moment of silence. I had the feeling that I was in another world.
“It cannot be helped,” the large man said. “Come.”
We were led further along and I saw a small area with domed, stone buildings and a few people milling about. Davhos began to explain that they were all the descendants of workers on the various buildings and even the subways who had come upon this underground city and had been charged with keeping it alive.
I stared at the people. There clothes seemed to be a jumble of styles, maybe grabbed from clotheslines on forays to the upper world. I realized what I was wearing probably fit in which is why I had been mistaken for their straggler.
“What now?” Davhos asked. “Do we keep him here?”
I wondered for a second: I had been on my own for quite a while and I was getting a little tired of running from place to place. This could be a good home. But I didn’t like that word “keep.”
“We cannot have him here, he must leave!” This came from an old man who had (I was somehow not surprised) a long white beard. “Davhos, you are responsible for this error. Return this one to the surface and find our straggler!”
Davhos bowed and escorted me through a row of domed buildings to a dark side of the vast cavern. There was a long flight of stone steps leading up the cavern wall. Davhos indicated I should go upwards. I looked up and took a deep breath. It was a long way. I started climbing, glancing back once. Davhos was smiling.
“You remind me of my son,” he said. Maybe that was why he watched very carefully to make sure I did leave. The door at the top of the cavern led to a dimly-lit corridor which slanted upward, then to a series of doors which led to a basement room that felt normal. I saw costumes hanging from racks and posters on the wall: a theater.
I closed the door behind me and found my way out of the basement, to the area under the stage. Feeling like the Phantom of the Opera, I crawled up through a trapdoor and headed for an exit.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Cait Gordon’s card draws for the Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge for November were an urban fantasy, involving a gun, set in a hospital elevator. I’ve written about the wandering Bryce Going (not his real name) before: Out on his own after his parents bail and looking older than sixteen, he realizes that the mid-1970s are no time or place to be even discreetly gay in a youth center, so he runs across the country, stumbling across the weird and unusual. This is his latest adventure.—jsb
I was flat broke one time, okay nearly broke, and I wandered into one of those little corner grocery shops and bought a lottery ticket with my last couple of bucks. The ticket didn’t pan out but I got to talking to the guy behind the counter and he told me the guy who worked the night shift had just quit and would I like the job? Another time I was running for a taxi in the rain, slipped and fell and got drenched by a passing bus (which I also didn’t catch) and had to walk home. When I got to my apartment and turned on the TV, I heard that a bus had skidded in the rain and squashed a cab down the street from where I lived. The driver was just banged-up, but any passenger would have been flattened; passenger, yeah me! My rich fiancée dumped me in college, I later found out that she was seeing several other guys on the side and she was wallowing in debt from her supposedly rich father. Stuff like that. Luck.
Which brings me to Friday the thirteenth and the jar of pickles.
I was entertaining that evening, so I set the table that afternoon. As I have a classy apartment I decided to go whole hog and serve hors-duffers; you know, the fancy stuff. I had a jar of pickles but opening it was the problem. There were days when I seriously thought that if I had a lot of money I would forego banks and have it sealed in a pickle jar. I tried twisting it, tapping it and pouring first hot then cold water on the lid. I was bouncing around the apartment, trying to twist the lid off when it slipped out of my hand, bounced off the couch and smashed through the window, falling a full four stories to bounce off an awning and crash to the ground between the horse and the carriage it was supposed to be drawing (these are pretty popular these days.) The horse took off and I rushed downstairs to see if anything had been damaged, anything I might be held liable for (I should have stayed in the apartment, but since my broken window was the only one the jar could have come through I felt I had nothing to lose by admitting it was my mess.)
I found out a couple of hours later that the carriage ride had been paid for by my date’s own new, rich fiancée who was stopping by to punch me in the nose out of jealousy (understandable) but when the smashing pickle jar scared the horse and he ran off, the fiancée made such a screaming mess of himself that when she’d stopped the horse, my erstwhile date dumped the fiancée and called me, saying she’ll take me over money. So we made a date for burgers the next day.
Not bad for a Friday the Thirteenth, even if I did have to pay to repair the window.
Like I said, usually my luck is usually pretty good!
“Hey! Wait! Could you, like, move out of the way? Just out of the way? I’m taking a picture here! With this camera. This one. I’ve been on this beach for an hour. It was dark and I about walked into the water. No, I’m trying to get this picture. That. Over there. Where the camera’s pointing.
“What do you mean, there’s nothing there? The hills, that little slope, how it’s purple but lightening up! The red in the sky, the pink in the clouds and you should have seen Venus before it faded away. I wanted to get the Sun just when it’s edging over the ridge. I tried the other day but it rained.
“Hang on, just stand over hear. Right beside me. Yeah. Here it comes. Got it.
Did a little editing on the big WIP I wanted to finish this Fall. (Okay, I wanted to finish it before Halloween, so I’ll get it done this month. I don’t think its market has even opened yet.) I actually sat down and hand wrote some of the story a day later. I’d actually been putting it off I guess; lack of confidence and nerves.
And I sat down an hour or so and threw together a cute quickie for the Friday Flash story for the week. That’s in the middle of the mess of watching undecided Election returns. It’s 4:47a.m. CST on Wednesday, November 4th right now. Election night may drag on to next week! Hello, year 2000.
It was about 1980-81. I was still in College, living in the dorm. Some time around the 29th-31st we held an impromptu Halloween party one evening in one of the dorm rooms; first floor, west corner. Probably too many people crammed into a room where one person would usually live. There were two radios playing: one to a station playing the old “War of the Worlds” broadcast from 1938, the other playing a rock album based on “War of the Worlds.” Yeah, both going at the same time. Plus, several different conversations going at once, in addition to a haze of cigarette smoke. Plus, we were all drinking either soda or beer. All of us very young all those years ago. Outside, falling leaves, wind and bright sky.
Finished the Friday Flash Fiction story for the week: “Long Ago and Far Away,” named after the song from WWII. Set it in Ramble, MO a fictional town I’ve written about before. Probably influenced by seeing “Back to the Future” (again) a few days ago and watching the Twilight Zone episode “Back There.” I have family in Missouri, so I’ve used the locales before. ADDENDA: I posted this, found & posted the prompt pic for Halloween and the new story breezed out of me!
Just realized I’ve written three flash fiction stories in the last few weeks dealing with time-travel.
The painter finished the house today. Not much to do, but looks nice.