Monday Flash Fics, May 1, 2017; “Footprints.”

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                                                Footprints

                                             By Jeff Baker

 

            “Shoes. All over the place,” said Kendall, idly kicking at a loafer lying in the street, a street filled with shoes of varying shapes, sizes and makes. “Where did they all come from?”

            “They fell from the sky,” Hoyt said. “We have witnesses. We have video.”

            “Shoes don’t just fall from the sky,” Kendall said. “They must have been dropped from some plane.”

            “There was no plane,” Hoyt said. “I told you we had witnesses. The shoes just fell.”

            “Like the rain of frogs,” Kendall said. “You hear about these things, but…”

            “We have a working theory,” Hoyt said. “Hundreds of people disappear every year without a trace. So, this is the trace.”

            “Shoes?” Kendall said incredulously.

            “Usually not on this scale,” Hoyt said. “Usually it’s one or two. Never a matched set. In America, the shoes sometimes wind up caught in power lines. I remember reading after they found the wreck of the Titanic there was a moment when they found a lone shoe at the bottom of the ocean. They realized there had been someone in it when it fell there.”

            “So, the shoes are shoes of dead people?” Kendall asked.

            “We don’t know,” Hoyt said. “But I’ll tell you this; some of the shoes are contemporary. Some of them are fashions going back a century or more. And some of them are styles no one has seen before.”

            “Do you, do you think this is some sort of message?” Kendall asked.

            “Maybe,” Hoyt said, staring out at the horizon, “maybe it’s a warning.”

 

                                                   —end—

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A Very Long Smackdown for Monday Flash Fics, April 24, 2017

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                                 Smackdown On Mauradus-Four

                                                By Jeff Baker

                                   

            We were a few days short and more than a few dollars short. The ship we’d booked (and paid a lot!) passage on was supposed to go to Mauradus-Three. Instead, we’d been dropped off on Mauradus-Four. This was a vacation so we were partying during the trip and got really bombed at the hotel bar after we arrived and so we didn’t notice our big mistake until we wandered outside the next morning and realized we were on the wrong planet.

            Mauradus-Three has a casino on every corner and would offer anybody credit, even for a ticket on a shuttle back to a space station on the main shipping lines. Mauradus-Four reminded me of all the stories I’d read of American mining camps of 300 years ago. They had electricity. They had plumbing. That was about it. No credit, no loans, don’t bother asking.

            We were just about broke and definitely stuck.

            Then Hank saw something interesting behind a wooden building that was asking outrageous prices for blankets.

            “Look at that,” he said, pointing.

The big sign read:

“Earn Big Money!

Stay Three Minutes In The Ring

With The Mauradus Mauler!”

So help me, at the bottom of the sign was an image of a gloved hand pointing.

“What do you think, Paco?” Hank asked. “You boxed in the service.”

“I almost got put in a box in the service!” I said.

“All you gotta do is keep away from the guy for three minutes and we’d have enough money to get out of here!”

There was no other way. We followed the pointing hand and found the fight promoter wearing, so help me, a top hat and a green tuxedo.

“So, ya wanna fight Gustaff?” he said, grinning like a cat who’d just found a wallet full of mice.

“My boy will be ready for your boy,” Hank said. Me, I bit my lower lip and tried not to groan. I signed the papers and the release forms and I didn’t see the Mauradus Mauler.

That evening the ring was surrounded by a paying crowd and I was being given a last minute pep talk in my corner by Hank. I still didn’t see the Mauler. The man I assumed was his trainer was talking to an empty stool in the opposite corner. Was there somebody ant sized on the stool? I squinted and for an instant I could see a blurry, full-sized figure sitting on the stool. Then I blinked and he was gone.

“Hey! He’s invisible!” I shouted. “There’s nobody there but there’s somebody there!”

Hank jumped up and confronted the promoter, telling him what was going on.

“You can’t have an invisible fighter!” Hank yelled. “That’s against every rule in the book.”

“Only if he’s fully invisible,” the promoter said calmly. “You said you could see him.”

“Yeah, but just for a second!”

“So, he’s not fully invisible!” the promoter said. “What Gustaff is, the technical term is Focally Unstable. He’s partly visible in the right kind of light or sometimes if you squint.”

“Hear that?” Hank said. “Keep your eyes shut and you’ll do fine!”

Hank’s smile wasn’t reassuring. I stared at the empty corner.

The bell rang. I was squinting, trying to see the Mauler when I tripped and about fell. I got my balance and was looking around when something slammed into my head. My ears rang, I saw stars and for an instant I saw the Mauler; tall, muscular and aiming another punch at me. I ducked and ran around him, or where I’d last seen him. And when I thought I heard his heavy breathing I ducked and ran again.

 Keeping moving was a good strategy until I ran across the ring and collided with the invisible Mauler with a crash. He fell down on top of me. I glanced over at Hank who was squinting, trying to see the Mauler. But I knew where he was; I didn’t need to squint, I could feel him. So, I figured if invisible wasn’t against the rules a knee between his legs wouldn’t be either. I heard a holler of pain and felt him roll off of me.

I stood up and was looking around for any hint of the Mauler when I was suddenly picked up and spun around over the Mauler’s head! I could hear him grunting and hollering and I was screaming as he dropped me out of the ring and I landed on the laps of three people in the front row. Looking up I was nose-to-nose with two elderly, identically dressed twin sisters who were just to the side of my landing area.

About two hours later I found Hank, spending the last of his money in the hotel bar.

“Hank!” I said, rushing in. “Lookit this!”

“Wha? Where’d you get that much money?” Hank said.

“You mean where’d I get more money in a night than we make in a month?” I said. “My new job! Working with the Mauler! The audience loved it! I get tossed out of the ring a few more times and we can buy our own spaceship! Barkeep! Two more rounds and two of the biggest sandwiches you’ve got! Oh, and a salad for me! I’m in training!”

                                         —end—

 

Supposed to be about 500 words or less, but it ballooned to almost 900! The story was too much fun to write!

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

“McGuffin and the Shark,” Monday Flash Fic. for April 16, 2017

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                                   McGuffin and the Shark

                                           By Jeff Baker

 

            Before we could do anything, Old Man Plunkett spoke up.

            “So,” he began, ignoring our frantic attempts to hush him. “How did the deep-sea fishing go?”

            “Well,” McGuffin said, settling into his usual chair at the club. “It’s an interesting story.”

            I was two days out with nary a nibble, (McGuffin said, sipping his whiskey) and was seriously considering heading back to shore when I felt a sudden tug on my line. I gave the fish some play, hoping to tire my finny opponent. That was when the sea suddenly became choppy and the fish leaped out of the water in front of my boat.

            To my amazement, it was a shark, the largest I had ever seen! It continued to jump, the line unbroken as I let out some more of the line watching for signs of weariness from the beast. In the next moment, a huge wave hit the boat, breaking the line and tossing me into the air. To my horror, I landed on top of the giant shark! I determined to hold on for dear life putting to use my years of riding bulls in Texas, realizing that the shark was now playing me as I was his catch!

            With me astride, the shark jumped and thrashed for a few minutes and then, an immense wave carried us up, up, up and tossed us into the air! To my amazement, we did not fall! I realized that by some miracle of aerodynamics we were gliding in the jet stream and were now really flying. By grabbing hold of the shark’s pectoral fins I could steer the airborne shark all the while remaining astride.

            Swiftly we traversed the miles and when I saw land and a great coastal city, I aimed the shark downward. It made a nosedive into the roof of an abandoned building as I jumped off an instant before it speared the roof, landing in a consignment of feather pillows as soft as an egg in a hen’s nest.

            McGuffin finished his whiskey and called for another.

            “Oh, come now, McGuffin,” Aubrey-Smith said. “Even if you could ride a falling shark, jumping off wouldn’t have spared you the inertial…”

            “Yes, it’s a preposterous tale,” Delmar began, interrupted by a waiter carrying a glass of whiskey and a plate, both of which he sat down before McGuffin.

            “Fillet of shark, Sir,” the waiter said. “Compliments of the house, as usual.”

            McGuffin picked up his fork and smiled.

            “I suppose it’s the least they can do, as I was their supplier.” McGuffin said. “But, you know, I do get rather tired of eating the same thing every day.”

            The small group of us stared.

            “I wonder,” McGuffin added, “if that’s how the sharks feel?”

 

                                                —end—

                         

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2 Rms Riv Vu–Monday Flash Fiction for April 10, 2017

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                                   2 Rms Riv Vu

                                    By Jeff Baker

 

            “Very nice,” Marjorie said.

            “I thought you’d like it,” Trey said.

            “Spacious living room,” she said, glancing at the hole in the carpeted living room floor.

            “The hole’s a nice touch,” he said.

            “Any electricity?” she asked.

            “No, but look at this.” Trey twisted the handle of the kitchen faucet which spat and gurgled until water flowed in a steady stream.

            “Running water!” Marjorie gasped.

            “They must still be manning the water works I guess,” Trey said, turning off the faucet.

            “It’s not safe to drink is it?” she asked.

            “We could boil it,” Trey said. “Build a fire outside. That’s how we’d have to cook anyway.”

            “Just as well this place isn’t hooked up for gas,” she said, glancing at the old electric stove there in the kitchen. “Anyway I think I still have one of those water testing kits in my bag.”

            “I knew there was a reason I married you,” Trey said with a grin. The two of them sat by the big hole in the living room and kissed.

            “Love, honor and cherish,” Marjorie said between kisses. “’Till Armageddon do us part.”

            “And here’s a surprise,” Trey said reaching into the hole. “Ta-daaaa!”

            He pulled out a large, blue suitcase.

            “Just the thing for the couple on the go,” Marjorie said. “Let’s see if it opens.”

            It did and the couple spent a minute staring at the neatly folded clothes in the suitcase.

            “Someone was planning on going somewhere,” Trey said.

            “Before all Hell broke loose,” Marjorie added, glancing out the front window at the shattered remains of the distant city skyline. “I wonder what they were like,” she said softly. “The people who lived here, I mean.”

            “We could actually stay here for a while,” he said.

            “Or at least long enough to take a bath,” she said.

            “Oh, a real bath,” Trey breathed.

            “Be it ever so humble,” Marjorie said as they kissed again.

            Trey glanced up at the empty walls.

            “At least there are no pictures,” he said. “I don’t think I could bear it if there were pictures.”

 

                                                —end—

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The Lady of the Lake—Monday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker

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                                    The Lady of the Lake

                                                    By Jeff Baker

 

            “The Lady of the Lake,” Billings murmured.

            “What?” Inspector Satz asked.

            “Oh, nothing,” Billings said. “That line has been going through my head since we started this case. Sad. Just sad.”

            The woman had been found after the rainstorm, drowned face down in the shallow pool of rain on the sunken sidewalk. Floating in the puddle was a small boat made from folded newspaper. Written on it was a suicide note, blaming her professors for her low grades and apologizing to her “wonderful boyfriend.” The note was dated April third, and the time noted as 4:15p.m.

            “Suicide in the rain,” Billings said.

            “When did they find her?” Inspector Satz asked.

            “About an hour ago,” Billings said. “When some of the kids from the dorm were on their way to the cafeteria, about twenty minutes after the downpour stopped. They just found her there. At least nobody touched her.”

            “Except her murderer,” Inspector Satz said.

            Billings looked up, startled.

            “Look at her clothes, they’re dry. She wasn’t out in the rain. And that paper, folded into a boat and carefully written to include the time. Why would she be precise? Drowning oneself by laying facedown into a convenient pool seems an impulsive act, no?” He tapped the sidewalk with his cane. “This killing was well-planned by someone. Possibly someone mentioned in that very note.”

            “The boyfriend,” Billings said.

            “Again, possibly,” Inspector Satz said. “And while it would be worth questioning him, we must keep an open mind. She may not even have been killed here, but I would guess the note was written after the fact.”

            They found the boyfriend hanging from a beam in an attic. In a note at his feet, he confessed to the killing and said he realized he was going to be caught.

            This note, Inspector Satz declared to be genuine.

 

                                                —end—

            Note: I wrote the first Inspector Satz story about twenty years ago for a contest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Didn’t win, but I got an honorary mention!

Posted in Fiction, Monday Flash Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Monday Flash Fiction for March 27, 2017

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                                                Determined

                                                By Jeff Baker

 

            One. Two. One. Two. Right. Left. Right. Left.

            One foot. In front of the other. One foot. In front of the other.

            Mileage sign. Sixteen miles. Into town.

            Maybe a mile. To the house.

            One. Two. One. Two.

            Gun in the holster. One shot. Make it good.

            Left. Right. Left. Right.

            Grab the car. Drive away.

            One. Two. Left. Right.

 

                        —end—         

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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.

 

                                    —end—

 

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