Progress Report—and News! August 14, 2020 by Jeff Baker

Wrote both the Friday Flash Fics story (which I had doped out in my head) and a poem which I sent off to The New Yorker!!

And then, totally by accident, I found that I had one of my Queer SciFi columns reprinted on the Amazing Stories website! A helluva credit! In fact, I’ve had several columns posted there! Wow!!!

Thats it for now!

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Pagoda Of Shadows; Enter At Your Own Risk! Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker. (August 14, 2020)


     The Pagoda of Shadows

By Jeff Baker



“The gods have condemned this place. The Spirits have fled. And you should too.”

The old man cast a backward glance at the tall structure. Familiar, slanted roofs, dark windows, somehow more dark than they should be.

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

“Fifty years,” the Old Man said. “Since my youth. As my Father and his Father and his Father and their fathers before me.”

“And you have no one to take over for you?” I asked.

“This place has driven away all that is good,” the Old Man said. “The only reason to be here is to destroy this place and send the evil back where it came from.”

“Destroy it?” I said.

“The only way to be rid of this invading abomination is to destroy the building. The earthly anchor that keeps it on this plane.” The old man shuddered. “To do so would risk your soul. Your very being.”

“I am called here,” I said. “I must enter. It is my duty to confront.”

The old man took a deep breath.

“You must lay down all weapons outside the threshold,” he said. “For only your own power can defeat what is inside this place. Only the light that is within you.”

I had only the sword, sacred to generations of my family. I set it down in front of the door. Then the Old Man and I bowed to each other. I removed my shoes and walked inside the pagoda.

There was no furniture in the large room inside. Just carpeting and cool air. And darkness. There were squares of light on the floor but the windows looked outside to pitch blackness, even there in midday.

I stood in the middle of the room and raised my arms to the ceiling. The squares of light began to swirl around the room; the shadows blended with them into tendrils, surrounding me, groping me. I rose into the air.

I laughed.

“Father,” I said. “I am home. We are one.”

The darkness began to expand outside the pagoda.





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Horror, a Bakery and a Spoon; August’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge Story



AUTHOR’S NOTE: The prompts drawn (thanks, Cait Gordon!) for the August Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were a horror story, set in a bakery involving a spoon. I’ve been in food service, so I’m familiar with the setting. I’ve written seven stories so far about Billy Gonzalez and his knack for stumbling into the weird. Here’s the latest.

Night of the Risen Dough

by Jeff Baker


It was about nine thirty in the evening and my new boss and I were standing in the dim kitchen at the back of the bakery.

“Okay, Mr. Gomez,” he said.

“Uh, Gonzalez,” I said. “Billy.”

“Right. Somebody will be here to open up at around six-thirty, and the truck will be here to pick up the bread right after that. We’ll expect all of these,” he gestured at the tall, wheeled racks in the large, back room, “to be filled. You know how to do it, right?”

“Yessir!” I said.

“So far you’ve done pretty well, but this’ll be your first time on your own. Take a break at about one-thirty for a half-hour, the orders will be taken off-site. Got that?”

“Yessir.” I said. This was my first job in four months; I would have done about anything.

“Okay, Gonzalo, I’m taking off. Just don’t turn on the old oven back in the back.”

I nodded and didn’t correct him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow evening. Be careful! And lock the door behind me.”

“I will! Thanks!” I said.

I’d been working the day shift at Kolobok’s Bakery for three weeks. The night guy had quit, so I’d been handed the position: longer hours, working nights but more money. I just had to get used to going to bed during the Today Show.

I had the radio down low and I started rolling the dough, filling the tray, putting it in the oven setting the alarm. There was a rhythm to it, once I got started. Working in the bakery in the old, stone building on North Broadway didn’t go with my degree, but neither did unemployment. I was just glad I didn’t have to mix the flour with the huge old spoon they had hanging over the door.

The night went on, and when I was near the front windows, I could see an occasional set of red taillights on the highway in the dark. I managed to fill up the first cart with trays of baked bread, the smell driving me wild, me sweating from the heat. Before I knew it, it was past midnight and I was getting hungry. At around one-thirty, I took a break, pulled my bottle of soda out of the cooler and started in on the sandwich I’d stashed with it, really tempted to stick the meat and mayo on some of the fresh bread I was making.

I checked my cellphone; it was about one-fifty and I was going to have to start up again, when I heard a grating grunt from the darkened back of the bakery. It had been built in the 1920s and was full of sounds. Besides, the ovens were still on and the metal pans made all kinds of noises when they heated up.

I started in rolling the dough again. I was filling up another of the racks when I heard the grating noise from the back again; this time louder. I remembered what my Boss had said about there being an old oven in the back and decided to check it, just in case something was falling apart or someone was breaking in. Just in case, I grabbed the big spoon; I’d thought it was wood but it was metal and it was heavy. I felt like I was in my first apartment just off Arkansas Street where I’d kept a baseball bat by the bed and had jumped at every sound. Still, I’d had my share of strange encounters.

The back of the bakery was a jumble with racks and storage and my Boss’ office and a large room behind it that I’d only been in once. That was the original bakery with an old stone oven built right into the stone walls. Dated back almost a century. I switched on the lights and glanced around the storage area. Nothing out of place. I looked around the old stone oven. Couple of broken chairs and a tray on the floor. And the grating noise again. Louder. Like metal pushing against something.

The door of the oven pushed open and the rack stretched out, piled with greyish, expanding dough, like in an episode of “I Love Lucy” I’d seen. The dough spread out around the oven and suddenly I realized the huge wad of dough wasn’t expanding, it was sitting up!

It slid off the rack and moved slowly towards me, indentations in the front corresponding to a mouth. I yelled at it to keep back and that I wasn’t playing around. I swung the big spoon and connected with the thing’s arm which fell off with a splat. Another fingerless appendage started to grow out of what corresponded to the dough thing’s shoulder as it stepped on the detached arm which suddenly blended back into the creature. I turned to run and tripped over the broken chair.

The thing bent down and covered my face with a paw, hand, whatever. I breathed in dust and flour. I flailed with the big spoon and as I connected, the thing recoiled. I scrambled to my feet and ran for the front door. I could hear the thing behind me, feet slapping the cement floor. I grabbed the key in the lock just as the thing grabbed me; I screamed, I heard the thing make a hollow, horrible sound and I pushed the door open, falling onto the pavement outside.

The air was cool, the street noises ordinary and the thing stood there for an instant and let out a long groaning noise as it shriveled and fell apart.

I sat there, breathing hard, trying to get the lines from “The Gingerbread Man” out of my head.



person holding a gingerbread

Photo by Jill Wellington on

Posted in Cait Gordon, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Progress Report; Early a.m., August 10, 2020 by Jeff Baker.

Finished writing the Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge story and did some more work on the Queer Sci-Fi column for August; both due this week.

That’s all for now!

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Progress Report for August 6/7, 2020 by Jeff Baker

Managed to whip up the Friday Flash Fiction story in time to post, and also worked on the new Monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge for August, due next week (a horror story, involving a spoon set in a bakery.) Also I have  AQSF column due next week. I wasn’t going to dwell on a lot of current events in the columns, but I just may this time.

That’s it for now.

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I’ll Fly Away with Friday Flash Fics, August 7, 2020 by Jeff Baker.


I’ll Fly Away

By Jeff Baker


Eddie slapped the side of the plane, making the wing vibrate.

“Hit it!” Eddie yelled.

“On it, I mean Roger!” Manny said.

“Flaps up!” Eddie yelled.

“Flaps up!” Manny said.

“Wheels off! “Eddie said.

“They’re off!” Manny said.

“An’ we’re up!” Eddie yelled. “Lookit the clouds down there!”

“Yeah!” Manny yelled. “Hey, I’m supposed to be the pilot this time!”

“Oh, right!”

The two of them quickly opened the doors and ducked around the propeller in the parking lot, hopping back into the cockpit.

“All right, we ready?” Manny asked.

“Ready!” Eddie said.

“Thennnnnn GO!”

“Hey! What’re you two doing?” The laughing voice came from outside the plane.

“Hey, Granddad!” Manny said, as his Granddad stared in the cockpit of the front half of the small plane pushed up against the wall of his shop.

“Where’d you hear all that airplane lingo?” Granddad asked.

“Played a movie last night!” Manny said.

“Fireplanes Over Topeka!” Eddie chimed in.

“It was cool!” Manny said.

“Yeah!” said Eddie. “I’m gonna be a pilot someday!”

“Me too!” Manny said.

“Well, you’ll have to finish school first,” granddad said.

“Awwwwwwwww!” the boys said.

“Look, you take your cousin in the house; I bet Gramma has something special for you in the kitchen.”

The kids cheered as they hopped out of the cockpit and ran into the part of the shop that was a home.

Granddad shook his head and smiled. How old were they? Eight? He remembered when he was eight. He remembered the firefights; the night the skyscrapers downtown burned; the tanks that rolled through the streets.

He sighed. Hopefully, pilots would only fly on missions of peace.

He headed into the building.




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Progress Report from Jeff Baker, August 1st, 2020.

Been taking it easy, nursing indigestion for a few days and all I’ve written is the beginning of the Queer Sci Fi column for the month. August, including some early birthdays I have to remember, snuck up on me. Been taking pills for the stomach and will have the column finished later this week. And hopefully, I will proofread and finalize the historical mystery and send it off this week as well. I did add one sentence late last week which clarified a historical ambiguity I thought needed mentioning.

Then, I can get back on the swashbuckling LGBT fantasy/adventure story that has a market opening up this fall. I have a couple of chapters done and it’s for a pulp-adventure-style magazine.

That’s all for now.

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McGuffin’s Goal; Friday Flash Fics for July 31, 2020 by Jeff Baker.


McGuffin’s Goal

By Jeff Baker


It was late afternoon in the club and somehow the talk had become nostalgic and had therefore turned to football. Delmar and Aubrey-Smith were recounting their (largely exaggerated) days of glory on the pitch in their youth, and even Old Man Plunkett had chimed in, when someone said that the best part of this was that McGuffin wasn’t here to brag about some exploit of his.

“Ahem,” came the familiar voice from a darkened corner of the room.

We looked up. We hadn’t seen McGuffin come in and he was not in his usual seat.

“Ah, the fond memories of my school days, playing for University,” McGuffin said. (He never said which university.) “We were up for a cup at least once during my time there, but my most memorable match was an exhibition game played in, oh, nineteen…nineteen…nineteen something.”

I grabbed a full glass from a passing waiter as McGuffin rambled on.

I was a young man (McGuffin said.) young and strong and played with energy and enthusiasm for our squad, proudly wearing our colors of…well, that’s not important. Our exhibition game that weekend was between us and a team from Bandilugia, a new country formed after the war. They were as good as we were but that wasn’t quite the reason we were both at zero as the game headed towards full-time. The Bandilugian Goalkeeper was a young man named Arturo. Lean, muscular, with a head of dark, curly hair and with three legs! Yes, three! He could run like the wind and effectively blocked every shot, including mine! He kicked with any of his legs and didn’t even have to use his hands!

We had run through three goalkeepers on our squad, and Arturo wasn’t even winded!

I looked at the clock; time was running out and even though it was only an exhibition game, our honour was at stake. I looked over at the stands and saw members or our school band that had performed during the opening ceremonies, seated in the front row with their instruments. With a series of gestures, I indicated that they should play. They realized what I meant and they played, and a moment later I scored the winning goal, in fact the only goal just as time expired. And in the uproar we were declared the winners.

McGuffin signaled for another drink and sat back in his chair. I stood up and started demanding explanations.

“Wait just a minute!” I said. “How could you possibly have scored a goal just because the band started playing?”

“It wasn’t that the band started playing,” McGuffin said, “it was what they started playing. They realized I wanted them to play the Bandilugian National Anthem. The Bandilugian players, including Arturo, immediately stood at attention and began singing along. And that was when I kicked the winning goal.”



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I Get Interviewed!!!

I forgot to post here from a week ago (after posting it everywhere else! 🙂 ) The Two Gay Geeks, Keith Lane and Ben Ragunton, interviewed me a few months ago for their regular podcast and we had a grand old time! It was just posted a week ago (on my Birthday, July 20th.) Enjoy!



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At Long Last! A Progress Report from Jeff Baker! July 26, 2020.

Okay! Last couple of weeks I’ve been largely lazy, avoiding working on the mystery story i was going to have finished “over the weekend” about a month ago. I finished the first draft tonight, and while it looks like a rough draft I have something to work from! (And I haven’t lost the knack for writing in my lethargy!)

Also polished off the flash fiction story (‘Nathan Burgoine will like this one!) this afternoon. One I’d been wanting to do for a while!

And I surprised myself by writing a poem on Friday (July 24th.) Looks actually good!

That’s all for now!

Posted in 'Nathan Burgoine, Progress Reports, Uncategorized, Writing | 1 Comment