Thursday, March 30, 2017

Once upon a [Story]time: The Waterfall

The Fellowship arrives at the PlateauThey had traversed the epic beige desert, and crossed the cold slick tundra. Their guide said that all that was between them and the great waterfall was a field of gray – and a giant pink mountain with its white plateau.

They made their way up the sheer face of the pink mountain. Standing on the plateau, they saw it. The white pool where the waterfall should be… but there was no water.


Three of them rushed ahead. They had waited until the giant creatures had made a mistake. Waited for the one time when they had gone and not ushered them all back to the dark cave. Waited for what seemed like ages – years even. Others, the guides included, had seen the waterfall – taken there by the smaller of the giant creatures – but these three had only heard the tales.

UntitledThere they stood; just outside the white pool but there was no cool mist, no splash of water from above.

The hasty travelers were joined by the rest of their party, and climbed down into the dry lagoon. The white rock was rough, and cold. The air rumbled, and suddenly a wizard appeared with his knights!

UntitledFools!” the wizard bellowed. “You have trespassed in the Great Ones waterfall! Only when they enter this lagoon does the water flow. Only they have the power to make the cleansing mist! Only those deemed worthy by them may enter here.”
They had come so far. But for what? The ground rumbled below them.

THE GIANT CREATURE HAD RETURNED!

UntitledBefore they could escape a hand reached down, and grabbed one of the knights!

Perhaps they were doomed to live in those dark caves forever…


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quote of the Week: A new Blossom

"And the day came when the risk to remain 

in a tight bud was more painful 

than the risk it took to blossom." 

- Anais Nin


"Boss man wants to see you." A grim face poked around the cubicle wall. His chest tightened. Fridays were firing days now that they had hit a major downturn. "I wouldn't make him wait if I were you."

He had 3 job offers lined up, most of the office did. He had 2 that would be equitable to his salary now, and one that would be a slight loss, but the hours might be better. 

In and out of the boss' office was less than 15 minutes. Severance was reasonable, bordering on generous - he might even take a short break before starting the next job. Maybe Julie could take a few days off to go away with him. It could be their first trip together as a married couple, since they couldn't afford the time for a honeymoon. 

He walked past the cube of the next victim, told him he was next, walked back to his desk, cleared it out, and walked out the door. He didn't even bother finishing his last report. 

On his way home, he stopped at the Farmers Market to pick up dinner items. He couldn't remember the last time he had made Julie dinner. Maybe he would surprise her by vacuuming the house before she got home. His step was a little lighter, and his shoulders a little less drooped. 

He had time to vacuum, make dinner, and clean out the fridge before Julie got home from work. 

When she saw him setting the table, she knew. She hugged him close and held on tight for a long time. It was nice to feel her heartbeat, he thought to himself. 

"You made dinner?" She asked at last.

"I made fish, with salad, asparagus, and baked potatoes. I hope that is still your favorite." She nodded. 

"You vacuumed?" Her eyes were a little watery. He nodded. She cried. He was very confused. 

"Are you alright?" He asked, helping her sit. She nodded again. 

"I'm pregnant. WE are pregnant. Tell me you are happy." He was, he was more than happy. 

"Yes, yes, I'm excited!" He knelt down and hugged her close.

They sat, and ate. He suggested the trip, she thought it was the perfect time.

-----

The next week, she went to work, and he cleaned the house. He packed her lunch, and packed their bags. He cleaned out his garage woodshop, and drew up some plans for a crib. He felt the best he had in ages. 

They spent 4 days at the beach, swimming, sleeping late, and doing barely anything. 

When they returned, he finally made himself call the companies that he had lined up, and made a choice. 

The following Monday he woke up, put on his suit, and trudged off to his new job. It turned out to be exactly the same as the last job, no more no less. It was as if nothing had ever changed, like the last two weeks had never happened. 

Months passed, Julie's belly grew, and one day they realized they needed to plan for what would happen after the baby was born. So they started a spreadsheet, crunched the numbers, and made the discovery that it would cost more for daycare than he was making at his job. There was no way Juie could leave her job, with her seniority, investment plan, and stock options at stake. 

He pondered, as he sanded the last piece for the crib. He painted well into the night, and finally crawled into bed sometime before the sun rose. 

Hours later he woke to the smell of coffee, and bacon. Julie stood there with a tray, balanced on her belly. He sat up and smiled. She put the tray down for him and sat next to him on the bed. 

"So what if you stayed home." She blurted out. He practically choked on the bacon. "Hear me out. You will be the best dad, and I was thinking... maybe you could stay home with the baby. You are a financial wizard, so you could do some freelance work, and we would come out ahead in the deal."

He promised to think about it - and he did, constantly. What would his friends think? Where would he find freelance clients? What were the risks?

He looked at their finances again, and again. He looked at where they could trim the budget, but he couldn't make up the loss that daycare would hit them with. The risk was huge, if he stayed at his new job. He had only been there a little over 6 months, there was little to no promise of a raise or promotion.

At work, a few days later, he looked around. Grey walls, grey cubicles, no one talking, just processing reports. The lunch room was grey, the bathrooms were grey, and there wasn't a window to be seen anywhere. He sighed. He was happy but not satisfied. Every day he pulled himself out of bed, and everyday he sprinted out to his car to get home to his wife. Was that what he wanted for himself? for his child? 

---

It was almost time, the doctor said, it could be any day now. He had put off deciding, and now... she was waiting for an answer. It was physically painful, the very idea of not going back to work after the baby was born, but worse was thinking how much he would be missing.

That night turned out to be The Night. They rushed to the hospital, and the following afternoon they met the newest member of their family. He held their little girl, and suddenly there was no easier decision in the world. There was no way he could ever go back to being the man he was before. He was a dad now, and that was the best job title he could ever have. 

He quit the next morning, and never looked back. 




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quote of the Week Short Story: Simple Answer to Complex Questions

"Sometime the questions are complicated 
and the answers are simple." 
Dr. Seuss


She cracked open the door and peered inside. Dust lay thick on the floor, cobwebs decorated the shelves. The air was thick with age, musty and heavy. She heaved the door opened the rest of the way, making a curved shape in the dust.

This was the room that her parents never opened. This was the room that she fantasised about her whole life. What crazy secrets were here that needed to be hidden away?

After her Mom died, her father still refused to open the door. It took all her will power not to open it when he ended up in a nursing home. Her brother had suggested they wait until after their father's will was read - in case there was something included regarding The Room. When there was nothing, they decided that it was time. They were left with more questions than they had before, and even less answers.

Now here she stood, and her brother stood behind her. They stared a long time into the dim room - flashlights still in hand, unlit. It was hard to make herself step inside. Her brother coughed as the cloud of dust moved past her, and enveloped him. She took the first step and then the second.

The inside of the room was disappointing, empty shelves and one old chest. She sighed. Her brother sucked in his breath, and stepped in next to her. He put his hand on her back. She was seconds from crying. He stepped to the chest, looked back at her. Somehow, her head managed to nod. He lifted the lid.

Baby clothes, folded carefully were the first thing she saw. None of them were ones that she remembered her brother wearing, and they certainly weren't hers. Carefully he lifted out the clothes, and she wiped the dust away from a spot next to him. He placed them gingerly, almost reverently, on the floor, and picked up a photo album. He opened it, gasped, and she peered over his shoulder.

The woman in the pictures was certainly their mother, but the man was not their father. There was a baby, and a woman who looked a bit like their Aunt Jane. As they flipped pages the baby got older, was walking, and apparently potty trained.

She peeled a picture off the last page. The date scribbled on the back was a full 2 years before their parents married.

The secret. After all these years. Mom had another family - but where were they now? What happened to them?

They knew that Mom and Dad had met in high school, and that Dad had gone off to the Army, and then to war. It wasn't until after the war was over that they got back together.

Pieces were settling into place, but so many were missing. They dug further into the chest. A wedding dress, a ring; a marriage certificate, a birth certificate. James was what they named the baby, Chadwick was the father.

Underneath all of this was a funeral bulletin, for Chadwick. A boarding school certificate for James, and more pictures. Letters from school, written by James, but never opened. They sat the letters aside, to read later. She realized that the letter were written while she was a little girl. Her mother had to have snuck into this room when no one was home and put them in the chest... or her father had.

It was making less and less sense as they pulled out item after item. Who had been paying for the boarding school? How had Chadwick died? Why did they seal up this whole room? It didn't make any sense.

In the bottom of the chest, under all the other things were 2 loose pictures. 1 was a little boy, being measured up against a doorjamb. She saw their kitchen in the background. She turned and looked back out the door. This was James' room!

She walked over to the door jamb and saw the gauges into the wood where they had last measured James. A tear escaped her eye. She had another brother, about 7 years her senior - but may never meet.

Her brother piled most of the contents back into the chest, closing it with a wooden 'thunk'. James' birth certificate, the marriage certificate, and the stack of letters. He walked out of The Room, and placed the stack on the kitchen table. Armed with his tablet, he went to work searching for their brother.

As she closed the door of The Room, he turned the tablet around to face her. There, staring at her, was the face of her brother. The funeral director.

Days later, they stood in the funeral home. Ushered into the Director's office, they sat uncomfortably while they waited for James to come in.

"He died."James said from the doorway. "My father." They turned to look at him. "Heart problems. He died in my room. I never went back in." He sat at his large desk. "I didn't handle it well, and ran away a few times, I left Mom no choice but to send me to a boarding school."He sighed. "When she married your dad, I stopped hearing from her - but I still got Christmas and Birthday gifts. When I got out of school, I came back to find you two, and no room for me in the family. I saw Mom twice after that, then not again until her illness. She felt guilty, and remorseful, but we made our peace. I'm not sure your father ever knew who I was."

Finally, all the questions had one simple answer - sadness. All the secrets were because of sadness. Mom had been sad because she lost her husband, James had been so sad he left her too, Dad had been sad because of Mom's first marriage, and in the end she was sad she had been deprived of an older brother for all those years.

The three siblings hugged. No more secrets. No more sadness.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Zombie Love Story: Chapter 4

Zombie Chapter 4

Saturday Afternoon 1:15 pm – National Guard Post

Xander, Andrew and 100+ other citizens were sitting in folding chairs. The briefing would be starting at 2pm. Everyone was a buzz about getting to kick some Zombie butt.

Saturday Afternoon 1:24 pm – Brian’s House

Chazz and Joy pulled their SUV into the driveway, then into the garage and hopped out.
They closed and locked the garage door behind them, and started to unpack. Brian’s wife, Chris, slowly opened the door to the garage. “I am so glad you made it safely.” Her face was tear-stained. “Andrew already left for the National Guard meeting.”

Saturday Afternoon 1:30pm – News Conference

“The Evacuation zone has been widened by a 2 mile radius. National Guard SUV’s are being dispatched to this new zone to assist in the evacuation. Please call your local Police Station to find out which Public School your neighborhood is being evacuated to. More on the evacuation plan at 2:30pm”

Saturday Afternoon at 1:37pm – Jess’s House

“Jess! Erik!” Jess’ Mom hollered. “We have to go! We need to pack up now!”
“What!?” Jess said as she poked her head around the corner.
“We are in the new evacuation zone. We have to get some things packed, and then get out of here. We need to get to the High School. Now get packing! Just the basics!”
Jess turned to Erik. She was very anxious. He gave her a huge hug. He wondered how George and Megan were doing.

Saturday Afternoon 1:45pm – Megan’s neighborhood

George had finally had his first meal. It felt weird, and good, and slimey. Now he was hungry again. Megan was insistent that they were heading toward a good meal. She could smell them. They were coming right around the corner… She couldn’t wait.

Saturday Afternoon 2:00pm – National Guard Post.

“Citizens, thank you for volunteering your time. We will be breaking you out into task forces. There are needs for containing the Zombies, organizing the Evacuees, and making sure all houses are evacuated. We will need to be organized, and efficient. We need to keep the so-called Zombies contained and apart from non-affected citizens. If you are interested in assisting the Army, Marines, and Guard members in containing the Zombies, please remain seated. If you are interested in assisting with the evacuation efforts, please make your way to the doors in the rear of the room, and if you are interested in getting all evacuees to the appropriate locations, and organizing temporary housing please head to the doors on the right of the room. Thank you. We will be starting the Containment briefing in 15 minutes.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Zombie : A Love Story Chapter 3

Saturday Morning 10:05am Joy and Chazz's House

"How much yarn do you really need?" Chazz asked Joy, as they packed up their truck.

"Enough for at least a week. We don't know how long til the Zombies get here. And no idea when the yarn shops will open back up. Plus, what happens if someone screws up and we end up in some post-apocalypse nightmare?" Chazz just rolled his eyes. Stress makes people think of strange things.

"Ok, you bring what fits after some clothes and tools, and the dogs, and the non-perishables from the pantry." Joy nodded. She really wanted to crawl back in bed and pretend that morning hadn't happened.


Saturday Morning 10:10am Jess' House

Erik finally arrived, to Jess' relief. She was shaking still, and crying. Erik watched the footage, in it's edited form, as the news station played it over and over and over again. He felt sick. Jess was curled up against him on the couch, and he was trying to make her eat something.

Now what would they do? He'd lost his best friend...and so had Jess.

Saturday Morning 10:15 am News Report

"Thank you for joining us for the Governor's Pres Conference. We will keep this brief. Investigation into the explosion last night, and the so-called 'Zombies' is currently underway. We will continue evacuations as already announced. If you want to volunteer to assist in evacuations, and have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, please contact your local county police communications division. The phone numbers will be shown at the bottom of your screen, and will repeat with evacuation updates throughout the day. That is all for now, we will have more information for you as we recieve it. The President will be conducting his news conference at approx 10:30. Thank you for your immediate cooperation.

Saturday Morning 10:20am Andrew's House
"Dad, I'm going to volunteer. Please don't argue." Andrew said, and got up off the couch. His dad knew arguing wouldn't deter his son. He was proud, but concerned. They still didn't know exactly what they were up against.

Saturday Morning 10:20am Xander's house
"Dude, I am TOTALLY volunteering, wonder if they will let me shoot some Zombies in the head?" Xander said to no one in particular.

Saturday Morning 10:25am Megan's house
George's lifeless body stirred. He opened his eyes. He was starving! What time was it? When was the last time he had eaten. He looked around. Where was he? Oh, right, Zombies, Megan...Megan! What they hell had happened after he hugged her? Gosh he was hungry!

He tried to jog over to the house, and knock on the door, but his feet didn't really want to move. It was like they were made of lead. His arms felt heavy, and he had a hard time raising his arm to knock.

It was like he was drugged, or something. He saw his hand, and it was white, pale, pale white. He was cold, and the more he thought about it, the more he realized it was hard to think. It was like his brain was made of pudding. hmmmmmmmm, brain. He shook his head to try and clear it. What was going on? Where was everyone?

Megan swung the door open, well, kind of. It was a jerky movement, and slower than usual. He tried to step up into the house, and it felt like it took forever.

"You get used to it after a few minutes." She said. There was dried red saucy stuff all over her left cheek and jawline, and her eyes were a bit glassy. She looked a bit pale too.

"What?" George asked. That mushy brained feeling was still there. hmmmmm, brain. He shook his head again.

"The slowness. It's a little annoying, but you'll get used to it quickly. Once you've had a quick meal, you'll be better too. I think the neighbor are all done, we may have to go a few blocks to get you a meal."

"Meal?" George asked, still not quite sure what was going on.

"Brains silly," Megan giggled,"Once you have a little brain, you'll feel right as rain." She giggled again. "Come on, let's go!" She took his hand, and she started to head out the door.

"Wait, your face. Is that... blood?" Things were starting to click in his brain...brain...brain. He shook his head again.

"Oh, crap, guess I have a little breakfast on my face huh? Ok, one sec" She moved fluidly into the kitchen, and washed her face in the sink. He wasn't sure, but George suspected that he had been breakfast.

"Well Come on Georgie. Let's find you a meal!" If you could bounce in slow motion, George was pretty sure that Megan was doing just that now. His head was hurting... his brain was hurting... brain... gosh he was hungry... He ambled after Megan, a meal sounded great...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Zombie: A (short) Love Story Chapter 2

Saturday Morning. 9 am. Jess’ house.
Jess woke up to her Mom screaming, then silence. She tossed the covers off, and ran out of her room and down the stairs. Her mom was staring blankly at the tv.
“Mom?” Jess said quietly, “What’s wrong?” Her Mom turned and looked at her with an ashen face.
“Sweetheart. You need to sit down.” Jess plopped down next to her on the couch. “Something bad happened, to Megan and George.” Jess looked at her mom, then to the floor, and then to the tv, where they were replaying the mornings events. Over and over and over again. Suddenly Jess felt sick, and the room went black.

Saturday Morning. 9 am. Xander’s House.
Almost ready for work, Xander was brushing his teeth. Another Saturday wasted, he thought to himself. His cell phone rang. He looked at it. His boss was calling?
“Yesh?” He said, toothbrush still in his mouth. “Why?” He spat into the sink. “What are you talking about? No, I haven’t seen the news… Really? Whoa. Ok, ok.”
Wow, some dude got his head ripped off by a girl on TV, and he had missed it, and now they were in a state of emergency because of some graves that were empty. Weird. Maybe they’ll show it again, or maybe someone will have posted in online.

Saturday Morning. 9:10 am. Erik’s house.
Quietly dreaming, Erik heard his cell phone buzz next to him. He must have fallen asleep right after talking to Jess the night before. Looking around, he found the phone, and flipped it open.

“Hey babe. Are you ok?” He heard Jess crying. She took a deep breath, and told him what she saw. “What! Ok.Ok. I will be right there. No, I won’t hang up.” Still dressed from the night before, he slipped on his shoes, and grabbed a clean set of clothes out of his drawers, and grabbed his back pack. What the hell was going on? He wondered.

Saturday Morning. 9 am. Andrew House.

“WAKE UP!” His dad bellowed. “Andrew! Wake up!”
Andrew rolled over, and stared at his dad. Something was wrong, very wrong. His dad looked frightened, and there was a gun in his hand.
“What the hell dad?” Andrew said, sitting up. “What’s going on?”
“Apparently… Dead people are roaming around, killing people.”
“Are you being serious?”
“National Guard has been deployed, to get people out of their houses, and to safe locations. We are in a state of emergency. White House Press conference. The whole deal. Joy and Chazz are coming here, we need to get ready son. “
“Wait, we are talking ‘zombies’, right?” His dad nodded soberly.

Saturday Morning. 10 am. News Report.
“Last night, we reported an explosion at a local hospital. This morning, while we were updating you on the rescue efforts, we filmed this disturbing footage.”
*Footage of empty graves, and Zombie attacks*
“The Governor has declared a State of Emergency. The National Guard has deployed trucks of all sizes to get people to safety. The so called ‘Zombies’ are slow moving, but the mass panic this morning’s news footage has caused has resulted in traffic jams. The National Guard, State and local Police, are working together to clear the highways, set up perimeters, and evacuate people who are in the most danger first. The map you are seeing now, shows the immediate evacuation zones in red, and the orange will be after that. If you are in the Green, Purple, or Blue zones, please get to your local Public School. More information on procedures are available on our website, via your local police station, and there is an automated recording available at 1-800-555-1212.”
“We will have the Governor’s press conference for you shortly, as it is scheduled to begin at 10:15, and the White House press conference will be at 10:30.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Zombie: A (short) Love Story? Chapter 1

Friday Night. 9pm. Megan’s House.

“BOOOOM!” The walls shook, dishes fell off the counter, and a picture frame fell off Megan’s wall.

“Oh My Gosh!!” Megan screamed, startled. “Mom? Dad?” She carefully crept downstairs. Her parents were looking out the window, staring at the thick black smoke visible just past the graveyard. “What was that?”

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good. Let’s check the news.” He flipped over to the local news channel.

Announcer – “Breaking News. Local Hospital seems to have exploded. Our Eye in the Sky Chopper is on the scene. Mass destruction. More information as it is available.”

“That’s just down the road.” Her dad said.

“That’s so sad.” Her mom said quietly.

“And Scary.” Megan added. She decided to go back up to her bedroom, with her trusty puppy, and call her boyfriend. He always made her feel better.

Saturday Morning. 8 am. Megan’s house.

The mist was beginning to clear at the Graveyard across the street. Megan stared out the window, thinking how pretty it usually was. This morning was different, as there was still smoke in the air from the explosion the night before. Just as she was about to turn away to watch tv, she saw something move at the graveyard. She looked harder, and swore she saw a gravestone move a little. She rubbed her eyes, blinked a few times, and looked again. The gravestone fell over… And a figure rose up from the ground. Megan screamed…

Saturday Morning. 8:15am. George’s House.

Bleary-eyed, George groped for his cell phone as it rang on his nightstand. He knew it would be his Meggie, calling to say Good Morning! He hit the answer button, and all he heard was screaming.

Now suddenly very awake, George jumped up out of bed and began getting dressed while he tried to get Megan to say something.

“Meg, Meg, Meg, what is it? What’s going on? Are you ok? I’m driving to your house right now. Should I call the police. Is everything ok? Megan!!??”

Finally, as he was racing down the steps, and snagging the car keys off the key rack, she said the word that stopped him in his tracks.

“Zombie. Dead guy, gravestone. Oh My God, there’s another one!” And the screaming resumed.

George didn’t know what to make of it. There was no such thing as Zombies. Like Vampires, big foot, and Frankenstein’s monster, they were all just myth and legend. But something had scared Megan… He decided to grab his soft air rifle and a baseball bat that was in his garage, and jump in the car.

Saturday Morning. 8:45am. Joy and Chazz’s house.

“Get the phone.” Chazz said, smacking his wife gently on the back.

“Wha?” Joy said, blinking. Oh the phone, she thought. Right. She grabbed her cell off the night stand. George’s picture stared back at her. “It’s George. That’s weird.” She sat up, hugging the blankets around her. “Morning George, what can I do for you?”

“Zombies. They are everywhere here. I think they got into Megan’s house. I’m going in to find her. “ Joy blinked again.

“What? What the hell are you talking about.” Chazz sat up at that one. “George? Did you say Zombies? Are you drunk or something?” In the background she could hear a low grumbly, gurgly noise. “George?!”

“No, I’m serious. Zombies. I’ve got to find Megan. Then we are heading to your house. You might want to call the police, or something.”

Joy turned to Chazz. “ Who do you call for Zombies? Police, or an Ambulance?”

“What the hell are you talking about.” Chazz asked.

“George is at Megan’s and says there are Zombies everywhere. He is going to find Megan and come here, and thinks we should call the police.”

“George,” Joy said into her phone. “What are the Zombies doing?” Chazz laughed, and turned on the tv, to catch the morning news. The Eye in the Sky Chopper is flying over the graveyard next to the hospital that exploded, and there are empty graves… lots of over turned gravestones…. And George on his cell phone. “George, you are on TV!”

“Really?” George looked up to see the helicopter, and then waved.

“Oh look, Meggie just came out of the house!” Joy said, looking at the TV screen.

George turned around. Joy and Chazz realize that something isn’t right.

“George… George… no George, don’t hug her! Oh My God! GEORGE!!!” They watched as George ran over to hug Megan, and then George dropped to the ground.

Joy dropped the phone as she watched George twitch, and stop moving. The helicopter feed stopped as Megan looked up, and everyone saw that she had a good part of George's scalp in her one hand, and blood on her face. Megan smiled. Joy threw up.