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

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                   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—

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Snowy Friday Flash Fics For December 6, 2019(Delayed a few Days) by Jeff Baker

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From the Journal of Leon Gibbs

By Jeff Baker

 

December 4, 1875

I never imagined this! We had to take a different trail after the river flooded and we were slowed down when one of the wagon wheels broke and put us way off schedule and we lucked-out in finding a small settlement where we could stay over the winter. Pa has a job here on one of the farms and Katie and I have tried to keep up on our schooling. Like how I am writing all of this.

I had seen snow back east of course, but nothing like this! The mountains here in Colorado are huge and right now covered in snow with only the green tops of the trees sticking out. It will be Christmas here soon and it sure looks like it!

December 5, 1875

Ma told us to stay close to the house today. Usually, we can walk into town but Ma thinks more snow is coming—she can feel it in her bones. The house we are staying in is right at the edge of town, and nothing is too big. A few houses, the store, the church and Doc Pomus’ office. And we have school in the morning in the old saloon they closed. Not much here. Ma said she wants to head on to California in spring, but I think Pa wants to stay. The people in town know us now; no more being called Bub and Sis as if we were strangers. But we are here for the winter, I believe.

December 8, 1875

Katie ran off! She is only eight! I am a lot older, I’m eleven! So I am going out to find her!

December 9, 1875

We are both back home, safe and sound! I still don’t know why Katie took off like that but it was dark and snowy and I could see her foot tracks in the snow when the Moon came out from behind a cloud. I walked a few yards from the house into the trees and then I heard a low kind of noise I had never heard before. And I heard Katie talking away. That was when I saw them. She was being carried by what I first thought was a man covered in snow. Then I realized it was covered in fur with snow stuck to it. Long, brown hair, which covered much of the face of the thing except for the red, gleaming eyes and big, shiny teeth.

It walked over to me and I was too scared to run. It handed Katie to me and pointed back into town with a hairy arm. I half-walked, half carried Katie back to the house where Ma was.

When Pa came back from searching, he about had a fit that I had gone out on my own but he was so relieved that we were both okay. I didn’t get a whuppin or nothin.

But the thing I remember the most is, when Katie and I were just outside the house, I turned around and the hairy man was still standing there. He waved his arm and turned as he walked into the snowy night.

 

—end—

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I’ts a Dog’s Life (or Lives.) Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker for November 29, 2019.

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The Dog and the Bastard and Other Oddities of History

By Jeff Baker

 

Talking with dogs is one thing, but this was one time I should have gotten a tape recorder.

“There are advantages to being a reincarnate,” Montpielier said, nuzzling the chair I was sitting in. “Go on, scratch my ears and I’ll tell you about it. Ah, right there! Yes!”

Montpielier had a silky coat, cold nose and big brown eyes. I knew if I kept scratching he’d tell me more. I was right.

I haven’t always come back as a dog (Montpielier said.) I’ve been a man several times. A woman too, but I digress. I was a young man named Stephen of Golweck from about 1056 or so. In England. I worked for His Majesty King William the First, also known as William the Conqueror, and let me tell you that last sobriquet wasn’t given him by any women he knew. Most of us who worked for him thought of him by his other nickname: William the Bastard.

Anyway, back in 1086, Big Willie decided since he owned something he wanted to see exactly what he owned. So, he sent out a bunch of us, myself included to do a survey. Armed with nothing but paper, ink and quill. Or, as one of my fellows said: “The bloody king is in his counting-house, but we’re the ones doing the bloody counting.” Anyway, we went up north, trying to find a route where there was a tavern on every road, those were basically the motels, and we took our survey. Yes, the one that got called the Domesday Book. Sir Anthony, a real piece of work, kept quoting the bit about Caesar calling for all the world to be numbered.

Everything went fine, and we were managing to write down everything without making a lot up, when we ran into some trouble with a group of soldiers who didn’t work for the king we were working for. We ran and left our notes behind. They were safe, in a metal box in a cave but we didn’t go back for it like we planned, we took another route and bypassed the King altogether.

“As a matter of fact,” Montpielier said, pausing to bite at a flea, “we didn’t even finish our survey. So the so-called Domesday Book was off by about an entire section of the country.”

“Thus affecting the course of history?” I asked.

“Probably not,” Montpielier said. “By the time we made it back to court, King William was dead and the new king didn’t know who we were. Anyway,” the dog stood up and sniffed the air. “Open the door will you? I have to take a survey of the yard.”

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’s NOTE:  I owe this story to a jumble of sources including a ramble through the internet that led to an article on the Domesday Book.

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Snowfall and Schnapps for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker, November 24, 2019.

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Snowfall and Schnapps

By Jeff Baker

 

The three of them trudged down the road in the snow toward the lights of town.

“Hey! Let’s go in here!” Snooker said. “Never gone in here before!”

“Yeah! Look at the sign, they have beer!” Stinky said.

“Guys, Sugarplumb’s is just a block away,” Scooter said. “Let’s not…”

But Snooker and Stinky had rushed in through the door. Scooter sighed and followed them in. That’s what they got for taking a shortcut. Stinky and Snooker had already sat down at a booth. Scooter joined them. Stinky was looking at a menu. Snooker was waving for the bartender. Scooter looked around, his eyes adjusting to the dark bar.

“Well guys, what’ll it be?”

The bartender who had walked over to their table was tall, lean and wore the traditional red, with a white and red fur cap, scruffy beard and a big grin.

“We’ll have three beers,” Snooker said.

“And some chips and dip,” Stinky added.

“All right,” the bartender said. “You guys just get off work?”

“Yup! Another long day!” Stinky said.

“I know! Thanksgiving’s next week! The big push comes right after that,” the bartender said.

“Company town,” Scooter said. “You must do a booming business this time of year.”

“Sure do,” the bartender said. “Place is going to get busy after a while. But I know how it goes. I used to work for the old man myself! This is a lot less stressful, plus I’m my own boss.”

The bartender left and Scooter glanced around the bar. Wood paneling, video games and thin wood branches hanging on the walls.

“Uh, guys, this might not be our kind of place,” Scooter said.

“Who cares,” Snooker said. “Here comes our beer!”

“Here you go, guys,” the bartender said setting down the three bottles. “Enjoy! I like schnapps myself. Your chips are warming up. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Snooker and Stinky clinked their bottles and drank. Scooter sipped his, trying to remember where he’d seen the man before. In another minute the bartender was back with a basket of chips and small bowl of dip.

“Do you just want one switch apiece or should I bring the bag?” The Bartender asked.

“Switch?” Snooker asked?

“If you’re first-timers, I’d recommend one of the smaller ones, not like the ones we have hanging on the wall here,” the bartender said as he walked away.

“Guys, finish your beer,” Scooter said grabbing his wallet. “We’re paying and getting out of here. I remember where I know this guy from.”

Stinky, Scooter and Snooker walked into as the snow swirled around them.

“Krampus?!” Stinky said. “Why didn’t you tell us the guy was Krampus??!!”

“I didn’t know!” Scooter said. “He and the right jolly old boss came to a parting of the ways years ago.”

“I could use a beer now,” Snooker said. “And some chips!”

“Hey we’re only a block from Sugarplumb’s,” Stinky said. “I can taste the beer now!”

“But no schnapps,” Scooter said.

“Right,” Stinky said.

 

—end—

 

This one came from seeing a number of calls for Christmas-themed fantasies over the years that said “we see too many Krampus stories.” I’d never written one.

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Wandering Into Dangerous Waters with Friday Flash Fics for November 16,2019 by Jeff Baker

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One Foot On Sea and One Foot On Shore

By Jeff Baker

I’d been walking along the beach for quite a while, since before the sun set. I’d seen the Atlantic, but I’d taken it for granted. The Pacific was somehow different. It seemed vast, endless. More blue. I almost imagined that the Pacific had swallowed the sun.

I stopped and gazed out over the ocean at the darkness. Buildings on a section of beach, looking like they were growing out of the water, lighted windows glimmering in the dark. And a shape under the water slowly moving towards the shore.

The shape began to emerge from the water; a man, wearing a jacket with no tie. He stopped, waist-high in the water. His eyes were shining like the windows. He was smiling, his teeth glimmering.

“The water is warm,” the man said. “It holds pleasures the land cannot offer.”

I backed up a step, the man stood there and spread his arms, spread them in an almost mechanical way.

“You are tired. You have travelled a long way. And you are not yet done with your journey. Here, take a rest,” the man said.

“Uh, yeah. I’ve been traveling across the country,” I said. “I’m Bryce Going. I wanted to see the ocean.” And I’d wanted to avoid being put in a boy’s home or something when both my parents split a year or so ago. I was glad I looked older than I was. I gave the man the once over. He was nice looking, about thirty years old I guessed. His eyes seemed deep, like they could open wide and swallow the world. His voice was soft, but it filled my ears.

“I am a Sea-Dweller,” the man said. “There are many of us. It is a whole world in here, a world you cannot comprehend. A world of beauty and ancient wisdom. You will swim forever…”

I shook my head to clear it. I had started walking towards the water’s edge; I was right next to the water. I stared at the man; he had just emerged from the water and he wasn’t even wet.

I turned and ran. I ran across an asphalt parking lot, barely stopped to check the street for cars and found myself falling against the corner of a brick building maybe a quarter of a mile away. I clung on for dear life, breathing heavily, trying to get the man’s soft voice out of my head. It had been more than his just being a handsome male. I kept remembering something I’d read in school. Greek Mythology. The sirens were sea-beings whose voices could drive men into the sea. Whatever sirens really were, they doubtless had many forms. Like the man, the Sea-Dweller who probably couldn’t leave the water. He wanted me to go into the water. I shuddered again. I looked down; my shoes were wet.

I shook my head again, and started walking back into town. I’d find someplace to grab something to eat and then I’d go someplace else, far away from this beach anyway.

I did not look back at the dark ocean.

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This continues the series that began in early 2018 with “The Flight Into Egypt.” To my amazement, I now have seven stories in this series done.

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A Ghost Story And Some History for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker. November7, 2019

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Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

By Jeff Baker

 

“Well, I’ll tell you why we don’t use the church anymore and then you can decide whether you want to go through with this or not,” the elderly British priest said.

The building was old but sturdy; a wooden church complete with a steeple. It stood on the same land as the original church which dated back to the 1590s, back when Minn-On-The Pye had been a thriving town on the way to London.

“As long as it’s haunted, it’s fine with me,” I said.

“And I’ll never understand how you can be so damn-fool as to want to sleep here on this night of all nights.”

“I traveled across an ocean to write this book,” I said. “I’ve spent the night in castles, old pubs, a barn, a tower in Ireland where I got rained on waiting for the Giant of Glannmurdoch Castle to appear. He never showed, but it was still a good story.”

“This is no make-believe giant,” Father Terrance said. “The ghost here has been heard since 1606 at least.” He took a deep breath and I knew he was going to launch into his spiel.

“November Fifth, Sixteen-Oh-Five was a grim day in our history, the day a misguided group of my fellow Catholics attempted to blow up Good King James and the Houses of Parliament with barrels of gunpowder in the basement.”

I was an American but I knew the story, so I listened politely. Guy Fawkes Night. Bonfires. The whole deal.

“And one of the plotters, young James Canby, lost his nerve and fled. He stopped by this church two nights before and pounded on the door,” Father Terrance said. “And one of my predecessors turned him away; saying whatever his business was it wasn’t church business.”

“If they had listened to Canby, the plot might have been uncovered sooner. Maybe they wouldn’t have been executed. Maybe Guy Fawkes would have fled to try again. Maybe relations between Protestants and Catholics would have become worse. Or better, if a Priest had warned the king. Who knows?” I said with a shrug. “But in the years since, the pounding on the church door has been heard. And tonight it will be heard by me.”

Father Terrance handed me the key to the church door and I grabbed my sleeping bag, flashlight and recorder from my car and took it inside, saying a silent prayer of thanks to the British Metaphysical Research Society for pushing my permission through. By dusk I had set up my equipment, checked the lock on the front door and was busy eating the ham sandwich I’d brought in a cooler. I’d had to wipe dust off the pew; the church had not been occupied, let alone used in many years. I checked the date on my phone; November third.

I was starting to doze when I heard the sound; a pounding on the door, and a voice yelling in strangely-accented English. I glanced at the recorder, it was on and recording. I stealthily crept to the side window and looked out front. There was nobody there. As I watched, the pounding at the door began again, along with the calls for “mercy” and “God’s forbearance.”

“James Canby!” I called out. The pounding stopped. I went on. “The need for you here is done. That long-ago night is past! Go to your rest!”

There was a smell, an odor, overpowering. I began to choke and gag. I ran out the front door, past my car and collapsed on the ground. After a moment, the smell went away. I was breathing heavily, and I decided to take my car and find a motel; the smell of long-ago gunpowder still in my nose.

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Written on November 5th after a British writer I know posted (on Facebook) the poem from which I lifted a line for the title and reminded us that the 5th is the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, and is now Guy Fawkes Night. I don’t know how Jamesian this story is, but I wrote the first draft of another story featuring my ghost-hunter Jerome later the same day. —jsb.

 

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Night’s Falling on Friday Flash Fics for November 3, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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Night’s Falling

By Jeff Baker

 

Ciallo walked out of the sea, his wings dripping wet.

“You’re not going to be able to fly that way,” Sillek called out. Sillek was his little brother.

“They’ll be dry by Night’s-Falling,” Ciallo said, drying his arms and chest with the towel he picked up from the beach. “All I have to do is…” He tensed his muscles and the feathered wings growing out of his shoulders began to beat furiously, spraying water in every direction. His little brother watched in admiration and envy. Ciallo was eight seasons old, almost a man. Sillek was three seasons younger; his wings still hadn’t grown fully.

The beach was nearly full of festival-goers, mostly families, a lot of them with picnic lunches. Some of them with young children whose wings were sprouting running around the beach, arms outstretched, pretending to fly. And young men flexing their wings, ready to fly.

The sun was arcing downward; it would be dusk soon. Night’s Falling. Ciallo looked around, trying to contain his excitement. This was the climax of the festival; he’d never been a part of it before, especially not at the sea’s edge.

They ate light as Ciallo and Sillek’s parents explained that the beach had been very different millions of years ago.

“Before the Big Collision…” Mother was saying.

“The Big Slow Collision,” Father laughed.

“Some people say it never happened, that the Galaxy always was this way and was never two separate galaxies,” Father said. “It’s called ‘Bent-Plate Theory.’ But in truth, the two Galaxies were separate and then slowly moved together and finally merged. We can see the large, flat disc of the other Galaxy through most of the summer.”

“The joining caused gravitic shifts and chaos where stars passed close to other stars,” Mother said. “Civilizations vanished, others fled to other worlds. Our own people were the result of two such species merging. We didn’t always have wings,” she added smiling at Ciallo.

The sky darkened quickly. Soon a few stars could be seen in the sky and the reddish planet Marso high in the sky. And as the light of dusk receded over the sea it was replaced by the whitish-pinkish disc of the galaxy which stuck out at an angle from the heart of the galaxy it had invaded millennia ago. With shouts of excitement, Ciallo and the other young men and women flew into the air and began circling, silhouetting the dim disc which had once been called, in the planet’s dim memory, Andromeda.

 

—end—

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