Posts filed under ‘free stories’

A FREE STORY

Here is a free story. It is free for I cannot think of anyone who would publish it, except me.
You may consider the story not done. That is intentional. That is to give the reader an opportunity
to draw their own conclusions as to what Joe experienced.
If you read this, let me know what your conclusions are.
BEYOND DEATH

Joe Palmer was just your ordinary guy. In his mid-forties, married with two boys ages five and eight. He was happy with his family, he always wanted sons. When he first met his wife Megan, he could not believe he even had a chance to talk to her. Rich black hair, blue eyes and a figure that turned men’s heads. To his surprise they began a conversation, a courtship and married. When he was honest with himself, when they were first married, he considered Megan a trophy wife. But as he grew to know her as more than a possession, and as a person, his love grew and the term trophy wife disappeared. The boys helped strengthen the marriage and everything was fine, until that night.
* * *
Megan was cooking the evening’s dinner, and realized she did not have an ingredient essential for the recipe, mozzarella cheese. Joe was sitting in the family room and reading the newspaper, his usual ritual this time of day. His wrinkled brow told her he was reading a political story. She thought, This should give him a break.
“Joe,” Megan said, “would you mind running to the store for me? I need some mozzarella cheese for tonight’s dinner. Without it, it just wouldn’t be the same. Megan glanced out the window and added, “If you’re going you better get your butt in gear. Grey clouds are building. Better take an umbrella.”
Joe replied, “Okay Meg, I’ll get the cheese.’ He knew the dish Megan was making and it was one of his favorites. The store was only two blocks away and even with the threat of a storm he decided to walk. Beginning to feel his age, he walked whenever he could.
He made it to the store, purchased the cheese and as he walked out the door heavy rain drops began splattering the sidewalk. Grateful for his umbrella, he raised it and set out for home.
And then it happened.
Joe’s neighborhood was a new development. Devoid of mature trees. Only saplings lined the streets. Also, the terrain was extremely flat. He lived in Kansas and the highest point in the area was probably a mound created by a child in a sandbox.
Lightning began flashing the like of which he had never seen. With only a block to go, gripping his umbrella with its metal tip, he took a step into the water filled gutter. That was when his life ended. Joe felt a searing pain. He had been struck by lightning.
Once the pain subsided, he felt at peace. A peace he had never before experienced. Joe felt he was floating, and looking down he could see his still smoking and contorted body. But what was looking down? Was it his mind or his soul, vaguely remembering this phenomenon had been duplicated in the lab. But this was not a lab experiment. This was the reality of death. Ahead of him appeared the legendary light drawing him. Others had reported this same light, but none had gone beyond. He was certain that was his destination. What would he find? Would it be an emptiness, a void? Or would he morph into something like the celestial fetus found at the end of the movie 2001? Ready to take the next step in a wonderous adventure, a journey beyond imagination.
Wondering what was taking Joe so long to return, Megan went looking for him. She found Joe’s inert bony on the ground, half in the gutter and half on the sidewalk. She cried hysterically over her lost husband and the prospect of a future without him.
The funeral was somber for such a young man taken from life, with plans and dreams left unfulfilled. His boys cried. Megan was close to hysterics as the coffin was lowered with all that remained of Joe Palmer.
** *
The event is still unexplained and remains so to this day. Two weeks later at the very spot, at the very time of Joe’s death, he reappeared. To say Joe was confused was an understatement. Somehow a mistake in the time-space continuum or a tear in some property of physics took place. Joe’s return was an event beyond comprehension.

The only course Joe could think of was to go home. He tried the door to the house. It was locked. Using the key under the mat, he opened the door and heard voices. He quietly followed the voices into the kitchen. Not knowing how to announce his presence, without too much shock to his family, he simply said, “Hi Meg.”
He instantly realized his greeting was a mistake. But what else could he do? For Megan turned around, saw Joe, and instantly dropped to the floor, and as hard as Joe tried, unable to be revived. He dialed 911 and within minutes he could hear sirens. As the sound came closer it was blaring, then sudden silence. Joe ran and opened the front door.
The EMTs tended to Megan and in ten minutes she began to come around. Confused, as you might expect, it took time for Megan to focus on what she had just experienced. When she looked and saw Joe, she nearly passed out again, but she held on. The EMTs left and Joe and Megan embraced. Megan had endless questions, but not as many as Joe.

* * *
Joe was not a religious man. Megan was Baptist and attended services with her boys most Sundays. On occasion, Joe would go too, when he planned to take the family out for breakfast. He respected the Baptist minister, Rev. Ruben, after hearing some of his sermons. But now he needed answers scientists could not provide so he sought out someone to explain with whom he could discuss his return. Since his reappearance Joe had not left the house. If anyone saw him, what would they think? Megan called Rev. Ruben saying she had a friend who needed counseling. An appointment was made.
Joe donned a wig of black hair over his almost completely bald head and a hoody. obscuring his face. Megan then drove Joe to the church. Joe presented himself to the pastor with as little shock as possible.
Rev. Ruben seemed to recognize his visitor. But why? He had never seen this man before. Ruben motioned for his visitor to take a seat. But first Joe removed his wig and Rev. Ruben, who was standing collapsed into his chair, “I buried you!”

Joe responded, “Yes reverend, but here I am. I do not know how or why, but here I am.” In any other case small-talk would have followed eventually approaching the subject of the visit, but this was not the case for small-talk.

The two men talked for hours and when they were done both realized this conversation was far from over. Rev. Ruben said, “Joe, I have no control over you. But if the public learns what you experienced it will alter every religion in the world. Please, please, please keep this knowledge hidden. But both men knew the world was owed the story of Joe’s experience.

 

May 3, 2019 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

POEMS & FLEETING THOUGHTS: THE REWARDS OF ART

Time smooths the wrinkles

Of the artist’s life,

Smooth’s away the doubt

Depression and fear

Molding his art,

In life, the artist presses on,

For something is calling to him,

Not knowing the fate of his work,

Not knowing if the future will be kind,

Or dissolve him into nothing.

November 12, 2016 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment

AIR SHOW: READING AIRPORT IN PENNSYLVANIA JUNE 3, 4, 5

I thought with the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, it might interest some of you to revisit World War II, and see the planes, vehicles and reenactors reliving a time we should never forget.

For those who follow this blog, you know of my love for aircraft and flying.  While in college I enrolled in Air Force ROTC, qualified for pilot training and began flight lessons and soloed before I graduated.  (I knew how to fly before I could drive.) 37 I washed out when it came to flying the T- 37, a small twin-engined trainer that I could not master.

Fast forward.                                     

I am a member of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM), and for more than ten years have volunteered at their World War II airshow held the first weekend of June.  If you have a love of history and historical aircraft, and you are in the area or wish to travel, as may do from as far away as England, this show is a must.  Along with the aircraft and vehicles, there are hundreds of reenactors camping on the grounds.  Represented are soldiers and sailor from all sides of the conflict.

Also present are some of the men, and women, who served their country when duty called.

Here is the website for the museum.

 

http://www.maam.org/maamwwii.html

I am also including my first published story which appeared in Enigma, a Philadelphia publication.  Enjoy the story and those who served this country.

 

                                                       REUNION

 

 

 

The June morning was brilliant and clear with just enough of a breeze to keep you cool despite the predicted eighty-degree day.  At the age of eighty-two, for Christopher Johnson, getting up in the morning was not an easy chore and had lately not seemed worth the effort.  He turned his head and looked at the pillow beside him.  “I miss you so much honey,” he said quietly.  His wife Peggy had died less than a year ago.  One night they went to bed as usual.  The last words he had said to her were the words he always said to her before falling asleep, “I love you.”  When Chris awoke, Peggy was dead of a heart attack.  A few days later he was looking into her grave knowing a large part of his life was now buried in the cold earth.  After almost sixty years of marriage, the pain of her loss was intense, almost as intense as the love they had shared all those years. 

With Peggy still on his mind, he sat up and began to stretch his arthritic limbs knowing the pain that would follow.  Next he stood up and took a few steps; those first steps, they were the worst of the day.  He winced with every movement, but soon his joints and muscles settled down to the constant pain that accompanied him these days. 

He had gotten up earlier than usual, for today, unlike most of his days, he had an appointment, something to do.  He opened his closet door and, in the back, he found what he was looking for: his U.S. Army ranger dress uniform, the one he had worn on his return home after being wounded during World War II.  With persistent pain, he maneuvered his body into the uniform that, after sixty years still fit his slender frame.  He looked in the mirror, and the toll of those sixty years stared back at him.  The hair on his head and his mustache had gone gray years ago.  His eyes, once admired by his fellow soldiers for their ability to spot enemy aircraft or fortifications before anyone else, now watered behind heavy bifocals.  He inspected his image, looking over the uniform for signs of moth damage.  The area of his uniform he examined first was his chest; there hung the Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He was proud to have served his country, proud of his awards but knew, that in combat, a split second could mean the difference between a dead soldier and a hero.  Satisfied that his uniform had survived another year, he returned it to the closet and dressed in his usual summer shirt and khakis.

While Chris hung up his uniform, his mind still held the Medal of Honor and the events that led to its award.

The day was D Day, early in the morning of June 6th.  Chris was among a group of Army Rangers that would be the first to hit the beach.  Their objective was to climb and secure the cliffs overlooking the landing sites.  These cliffs held guns that could hazard the ships and soldiers, and the hazard needed to be removed.  German soldiers were stationed on the cliffs, ready to rain death on unprotected soldiers landing on the beach below.  Chris and his three buddies Frank Grimes, Larry Schwartz and Duck Dupont were together in the landing craft, along with twenty other rangers heading toward the beach.

Chris had begun basic training knowing no one.  Soon he gravitated to three other guys who seemed to be as lost and alone as he was.   The four of them gradually became friends and survived the ordeal together.  Of the three, he was closest to Duck Dupont.  Duck’s real name was Willard; he gained his nickname Duck during a basic training class.  The class was walking past the artillery area when a practice round went off.  Most of the class flinched, but Duck was on the ground with his head covered by his hands.  From then on he was known as Duck.

His thoughts returned to June 6th.

It was still dark and they landed unopposed.  The men quickly and quietly disembarked and headed for the base of the two hundred foot cliff – it would be quite a climb.  When everyone was in position, they fired ropes up the side of the cliff.  This brought the response they expected, Germans began firing down the cliff and rangers began to collapse on the beach.  Chris and his friends were to stay together and climb along with most of the rangers while the rest provided cover fire.  Soon the German fire lessened then ceased as the rangers continued their climb.

The four friends were the first to reach the top of the cliff.  What they saw sent a shiver through them all.  Before them, set back about fifty yards from the edge of the cliff, stood a series of three bunkers. The first light of dawn streamed through the trees beyond the enemy, and all seemed quiet and peaceful except for the machine guns projecting from behind sandbags.  They knew they had to act fast, for if they didn’t, the rangers coming up the cliff would be cut down as soon as they reached the top.  They split up into two groups; Chris and Duck went to the left – Frank and Larry to the right.  The two flanking bunkers had to be eliminated before the middle position could be attacked.  Each group approached the nearest bunker and tossed a grenade inside.  The simultaneous explosions sent German soldiers into action.  The rangers had missed one.  Along with fire from the third remaining bunker, a fourth bunker opened up along with mortar fire from behind the bunker.  The fourth bunker surprised the rangers and had a clear shot at them.  Duck was literally cut in half by machine gun fire.  Larry was attacking the third of the bunkers they had seen, having just pulled the pin from a grenade when he was shot.  They never did find Frank.  Chris entered the first bunker they had taken out, pushed aside the mangled German bodies and manned the machine gun.  He quickly took out the bunker they had overlooked before, creeping up to the last remaining bunker; he destroyed it with grenades.  The actions of the four men had saved the lives of the rangers now reaching the summit of the cliff and helped secure the landing site for the invasion.

           In the early morning silence, after the heat of battle, Chris collapsed on the ground part from fatigue, part from pain, but mostly from grief – his friends were gone.  Chris had shrapnel wounds in his left arm and hip.  At some point his helmet had taken a hit and deflected the bullet but the impact gave him a nasty scalp wound.  Blood now streamed down the side of his face and soaked his collar.                                                                                                                                                             

These are the memories that flooded into Chris’s mind as he put away his uniform and prepared to spend a weekend at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum as a guest of honor, something he had done for the last five years.  This would be his first year going without Peggy at his side.  He knew it would not be the same without her, but he still looked forward to the event.  

          The museum had organized a weekend devoted to the history of World War II for the last ten years.  It was a living history lesson with vintage aircraft flown in from all over the country, and encampments set up with hundreds of reenactors dressed in the World War II uniforms of the United States, England, France and Germany.  The museum also invited veterans from the war who would give first hand accounts of combat.  But none of them told what the war was really like for their memories were selective, cleansed by time, and they all carried within them that area of memory they would never enter again. 

World War II weekend started Friday morning and, although he wasn’t scheduled to give his presentation until Saturday, Chris always went Friday to wander the hanger and apron crammed with vintage World War II fighters, bombers, trainers and transports.  He could remember when the skies were filled with their kind.  Now there remained only a few of each.  On those warm Friday afternoons, he enjoyed walking through the encampments.  At one point he saw three men in ranger combat uniforms.  He smiled to himself, glad to see his branch of the army represented.  Chris loved strolling through the tents.  In his mind, there was nothing like the smell of a real canvas tent; the open flaps were your windows and the grass was your floor.  He had seen the tents his grandchildren used when they camped, it was like camping in a nylon bag, no smell, no character. In one of those old canvass tents, he could stand, close his eyes, and the memories of his days in the army would flood into his brain.

  Another reason he enjoyed the Fridays was the veterans whose attendance was heavy.  The old men and women enjoyed the smaller crowds and slower pace that Fridays afforded.  He enjoyed conversations with his contemporaries, reliving the past and recalling the days they were once young and involved in the great adventure they shared. 

Saturday morning arrived, the sky again clear and blue.  He went through his morning routine, slowly struggled into his uniform and waited for his nine o’clock ride to the museum.  Chris looked forward to the day.  Although he had never made a big deal about his award, one day bathed in the admiration of people who appreciated the sacrifices made during World War II did not hurt him, not at all. 

With his first lecture scheduled for 10:30, he was anxious to get to the museum.  He found the tent for his lecture.  There were about fifty folding chairs set up.  He took a moment and stood there alone, letting his mind recall memories that he usually avoided, memories that he would touch slightly, just slightly today.

As he waited at the speaker’s platform, the tent began to fill up. At the back of the tent, he spied the three young men in ranger uniforms he had seen the day before, standing together apart from the crowd.  Maybe today they would learn something about the uniforms they wore.

The chairs were full and people were standing in the back as Chris went into his presentation.  He shared with them the events of that early morning on the French coast, sanitized, but with enough action to keep the crowds attention.  After thirty minutes he was done and ready for questions.  Half way through the questions one of the men dressed as a ranger raised his hand and said, “Sir, I just want you to know we appreciate what you did for your country.”

  That brought a smile to Chris’ face, “I appreciate that son,” he answered.

The presentation over, the tent was cleared, and it was time for a little lunch and a chance to watch the vintage aircraft flying.  This was the part he most enjoyed.  The drone of the B-17 accompanied the whine of the Merlin powered P-51s.  He knew the planes were the big draw, not old men wearing old uniforms, but he was happy to be part of the show.

First to fly were the trainers, SNJs and T-28s.  Then the observation aircraft would fly, the L-19s, followed by the transports, the C-47s and a C-54.  Before the fighters and bombers took off, the reenactors took the field in front of the crowd.  To the left were the men in German uniforms, to the right the U.S. Army.

The uniformed men fired blanks and mock mortars at each other.  There were also smoke grenades thrown by both sides.  All this action took place in a grassy area between the runway and aircraft taxiway.  As usual, the fire department stood ready for the grass fires the smoke grenades always started, and this year was no exception.  The grass fires were more of a nuisance than a danger, and they were always rapidly dealt with.  In fact, the dense plumes were greater than any of the regular attendees of the show could remember, and the fire company quickly prepared to hose down the grass.  Chris stood there with the rest of the crowd as the shroud of smoke drifted over them.

Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder.  It was one of the rangers, “Sir, we need your help.”

 “Sure son, what can I do for you?” came Chris’ reply.

  “Could you join us sir?” the ranger questioned.  The ranger started walking towards the smoke set off by the mock battle, flanked by the two other rangers Chris had noticed before, and bewildered, Chris followed.

Soon smoke enveloped the four men.  The crowd, watching the firemen putting out the grass fire saw the three reenactors on the field but could not imagine why an old man in uniform was traipsing in after them.  They saw the four enter the clouds of smoke and lost sight of them.

Chris walked, not knowing where the three young men were taking him.  His arthritis bothered him as he entered the smoke, but a few steps into the haze his pain was reduced, and then gone.  He noticed something else; he no longer wore his dress uniform but wore the ranger combat uniform, same as the reenactors.  All at once he was puzzled and amazed and had no idea what their destination could be.

The three reenactors slowed down and Chris easily caught up with them.  “How in the hell are you, Chris?” asked Duck.  Frank and Larry were slapping his back and pounding his shoulders, his young shoulders. 

“We’re on a mission and need your help,” said Frank.  “We need the squad together,” he continued. 

“I’m your man,” said Chris taking off his helmet and running his hand through his thick dark hair.  His mind still could not wrap itself around what was happening.

Some of the crowd there to watch the flying saw four figures begin to emerge from the smoke, the figures of four young men.  The men entered another cloud of smoke before them and were gone.

Chris and his three buddies came out of the haze.  They were on a dirt road surrounded by a forest.  They were all holding rifles, but Chris could sense no danger.  They were on patrol and Chris felt better than he had ever felt in his life.  He was with his best friends, men he had missed all these years and men he loved.  The sky was so blue it almost hurt his eyes. The trees and grass were the greenest green he had ever seen.  He set out with his three friends, easily matching their stride.

Suddenly, Chris’ eyes filled with tears.  He did not know how, did not understand what was happening, but somehow he knew his young and pretty Peggy was waiting up ahead.

 

                                            THE END 

  

 

 

 

May 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

A VALENTINE FOR MY READER(S)

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Here’s my present; a free story.

 

 

A VALENTINE’S GIFT                                 

 

 

Jim Reed sat in a desolate park in a seedy section of the city and pulled the collar of his badly worn coat up as the North wind howled, he sipped from the bottle concealed in the brown paper bag and, with each sip, a grimace spread across his face while momentary warmth filled his empty belly.

“That god damned day is coming,” he thought.  He did not have a calendar for a calendar needed a wall on which to hang and his watch was gone, hocked long ago.  Jim kept track of the date and headlines the world produced from the newspaper machines along the sidewalk.                          

He drank rapidly; trying to prevent his mind from wandering to the day he lost his future, his purpose, that Valentine’s Day five years ago.  But he could not prevent his numbed mind from reviewing his life and recalling the day his reason for being was erased.

                                              * * *

While in college, Jim developed a drinking problem, and it lingered after graduation.  He found a job as an accountant, worked hard during the day and drank hard during the night.

A friend from work wanted to fix Jim up with a girl.  A date was arranged, a Dutch-treat dinner.  Jim arrived at the Italian restaurant early, sat at the bar drinking red wine when a stunning woman with long black hair walked in searching for someone.  She approached Jim and said, “I’m Debbie Wilson, could you be Jim Reed?”

Jim could not believe that this woman was his blind date.  He gulped down his wine, took her hand, and headed for the restaurant area.  He drank less than he usually did on a blind date and just enjoyed talking to Debbie.  Before he knew it, they had spent two hours over dinner, and he was sober.  He wanted to pay for dinner but Debbie demanded to pay her own way.  She smiled and said, “Next time you can treat.”  This brought a grin to Jim’s face.  Debbie paid her part of the bill, and as the cashier placed the change in her hand, Debbie exclaimed, “What’s this?”  She looked down at the dirty white penny in her hand.

“That’s a steel penny,” Jim explained.  “One year, during World War II, pennies were made of a lead composite in order to save copper in order to make shell castings.”

Debbie’s eyes brightened as she said, “This is going to be my lucky penny and always remind me of this night.”

Their relationship grew into love, and six months later they were married.  They bought a small house and soon Debbie was pregnant.  Jim’s life had a hope he had never imagined as he watched Debbie grow with their child.

They found a hospital providing a room for natural birth, but had the facilities to cope with any problems that might occur.  One day, as Debbie was preparing a special dinner to celebrate a special day, her water broke.  Jim rushed her to the hospital thinking, “By the time this Valentine’s Day is over, I’ll have two loves, not one.”

After they entered the hospital, a nurse took Debbie’s blood pressure and immediately had her rushed to the emergency room.  Debbie’s eyes reflected the fear Jim felt as he sat at her bedside.  When Debbie began to convulse, Jim was escorted to the waiting room.

Hours later their obstetrician entered the waiting room and sat next to Jim.  The doctor’s eyes never left the floor.  In a soft voice he told Jim, “I’m sorry but your wife is gone, we lost the baby girl too.  If you will come with me, I’ll take you to your wife.”

Jim felt horror, shock and helplessness all at once.  On shaky legs he followed the doctor and soon found himself standing next to a bed and staring down at Debbie’s pretty face.  She seemed so much at peace while Jim was in such torment.

The next few days were a blur; Jim drank himself into numbness while friends and family expressed their regrets.  Jim stayed numb for five years, never cried over his loss, keeping the grief tied up inside.  He stayed numb as he was fired and eventually lost his house.  He had been homeless for two years now and just didn’t give a damn about anyone or anything.

                                                * * *

Jim left the park and made his way into the city.  He mumbled, “That god damned day is here,” as he sat on the grate of an office building immersed in the steam, trying to stay warm.  The hour was late and the street strangely deserted.  Steam created an odd glow around the streetlamps. Through the mist, a small girl approached and stood before him.

“I’d like to help you mister,” she said.

Jim yelled, “Get the hell away from me,” but the girl wouldn’t budge.  She just stood before Jim as her eyes filled with tears.

 “I’d like to help you mister,” she repeated as she placed a small cloth sack before Jim.  As she turned to leave she said something strange, “We love you.”

Jim watched through the mist as the girl departed; saw the tall figure of a woman waiting in the distance for the child.  The child stood next to the woman and they joined hands as they looked back, and then melted into the mist.

Jim sat there, drinking from his bag and lifted the small cloth sack.  He opened it and spilled its contents into his hand.  He sat there looking at the single dirty white penny.  He lifted the paper bag to his lips, and then tossed it away as tears coursed his face.

 

 

                                              THE END

 

February 14, 2016 at 8:11 pm Leave a comment

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

On the eve of this horror holiday, I thought I would offer a zombie treat.

This story was published in the now defunct Blood, Blade, & Thruster in their Winter 2006/2007 issue.  Included in this issue was an interview published with Piers Anthony.  This association caused my writing career to soar.  JUST KIDDING.  I should have saved that for April 1st.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story, and if you have a moment during your busy life, LET ME KNOW, my ego would appreciate the response.

THE RELUCTANT ZOMBIE

As Norman stumbled through the dank Haitian swamp, he groaned, “Willard, it feels so unnatural walking around with my arms outstretched, but I can’t seem to put them down.  “I have an image to uphold.”

Willard, who was shuffling along, shook his head and sighed, “Of course it’s unnatural, you’re a zombie, damn it.  And your image is history.”

Norman complained, “I didn’t ask to be a zombie.”  With some difficulty, he swiveled his neck and surveyed the Haitian countryside.

Norman took in the landscape surrounding him.  He walked through a village.  It was nothing more than a few huts of mud and straw along a dusty road.  Chickens pecked in the brush along the roadside.  Chickens!  For some reason their presence made him uncomfortable.  “I really don’t want to be a zombie,” Norman muttered.  He was a forty-year-old college professor, a dark-haired trim man who always dressed well.  Now he was walking around covered in grime and dressed in rags.

Willard said, “If you didn’t want to become a zombie, you shouldn’t have run over the old voodoo woman’s chickens with your jeep.  Was she ever pissed?  She’s also the one that converted me into a zombie, but that’s another story.”

Norman looked at Willard and could not guess what he once looked like.  Willard was pale, gaunt and dressed in rags.  His age made undeterminable by his zombie state.

“As soon as you angered her she began making one of her little dolls.  She cackled while she worked.  That is never a good sign.  The doll is where your soul now resides.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me, Willard.  I came to Haiti to do research on Haitian religions.  I am, or was, a respected and well-published anthropologist.  Now look at me.  I’m wearing rags and walking around like a…, like a …

“Zombie!” asked Willard

“Just because I ran over a few chickens?”

“Um, Norman, they looked like chickens, but they weren’t.  Nothing around the voodoo woman’s house is what it appears.  They were once her enemies.  She changed them into chickens and you freed them from pecking for insects along the road for the rest of their lives.  You ended their suffering.  So naturally, in her anger, she turned you into a zombie.  I am assigned to train all novice zombies.  To instruct how to attack people teach them what are the best parts to eat.”

Norman made a face at this remark.

“Now what?” asked Willard?

Norman sighed, “I’m a vegetarian.  But I will eat dairy.”

Willard said with disgust, “There are no vegetarian zombies.  And attacking the dairy section of a store is not going to do much for the zombie image.”

Norman grumbled, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to do anything to detract from the zombie image.  Give me a break.”

As the two zombies were arguing, Willard happened to glance over to the voodoo woman’s house.  There she stood in the doorway.  Willard could tell she was not happy.

She hobbled toward Willard and Norman, a waddling mass adorned with bones and beads.  Her crown of thick dreadlocks made her appear as if some multi-legged beast was sitting on her head.

The old voodoo woman shouted at Norman, “I knew you be a trouble maker, with your fancy jeep and running over people’s property.”

Norman mumbled, “Sorry about the chickens.”

“You sorry all right.  You be good and sorry real soon.”

The old woman produced her Norman doll, lifted the doll skyward, and began chanting in a low rumbling voice.

Norman’s soul returned to his body.  He felt like his old self.  He laughed with relief, then glance up.  Willard stumbled toward him, arms raised.

“Willard old buddy, we’re friends – right?”

Willard only growled and roared.

Norman looked desperately for an escape.  On either side of him, zombies with ash-gray complexions staggered in his direction.  He was surrounded.

The old voodoo woman said, “Here be my ‘children’, and they be hungry.”  She cackled as the circle of zombies grew smaller and smaller around Norman.

From beyond the wall of the living dead, Norman pleaded, “Please, make me a chicken!”

THE END

Those that observe ‘Mischief Night, please be kind.

Here are some links where you may purchase my work.

Melange Books

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/walttrizna/index.html

Barnes & Noble.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/walt-trizna?store=book&keyword=walt+trizna

 

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=walt+trizna

October 30, 2015 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

ACCEPTABLE RISKS by ROBIN COOK

I’ve just finished reading Robin Cook’s novel, Acceptable Risks, published in 1995. It was a Goodwill purchase, sorry Mr. Cook. The work whose blurb proclaimed, ‘One of Cook’s best,” I don’t agree with. Although to be honest, I think his name and reputation carry slightly more weight than mine. If I could just live to about 150, I might catch up.

Anyway.

What intrigued me about the book’s premise was the side effects of mind-altering drugs. I wrote a short story, Side Affects, published by BLACK PETALS in2007. Since it is no longer easily accessible, I’m including a copy. I’m sure, somewhere on late-night TV, there exists a lawyer willing to take on the case if I am wrong.

Anyway, here it is.

SIDE AFFECTS

The female picked up her baby and held it close, suckling it for the last time. She did not have a name; language was thousands of years in the future.   As she gazed at her infant, only days old, tears rolled down her cheeks. She caressed the small hairy body and kissed the prominent brow, the two characteristics that spelled the infants doom. She stood, and slowly walked into the forest. Moments later the forest echoed with a child’s scream, cut suddenly short. The female emerged from the forest alone.

She thought of another member of the loosely formed tribe with a similar baby, who did not have the strength to destroy it. The female raised the child, its aggressiveness and appearance different from the other children living in the clearing in the African forest. The child grew strong and hateful. One day a member of the tribe found the mother dead, partially devoured. The child was never seen again. It entered the jungle, more animal than human, to live as its ancestors did thousands of years before.

***

Modern science could have discovered the explanation for these mysterious births. The cause was a unique receptor, a protein on the surface of the cell. Many receptors discovered today are seven transmembrane receptors; they course the cell wall seven times weaving in and out like a tiny thread. These aggressive individuals had receptors that were fourteen transmenbrane receptors, monstrous in size and in action, bringing together hormones in rare mixes, resulting in a savage monster. These receptors disappeared with the extinction of the savage individuals, but the genetic machinery that manufactured these monstrous receptors did not.

Thousands of years ago, as these monsters were born and eliminated; there was another type of individual created. It was rare, rarer than its savage counterparts. These individuals possessed the genetic machinery to produce the aberrant receptors but this could only occur when there was a change in serotonin levels. These changes don’t normally occur in nature now, and the birth of these individuals continued with their genetic potential unrealized. Unrealized, that is, until the advent of the new antidepressants.

***

Jeff Skovich was a quiet guy, the kind of guy you never noticed, primarily because he didn’t want to be noticed. Only Jeff and his wife Linda knew the torment of his life. Lately he was blowing up at the slightest provocation. He was angry all the time and had more and more difficulty dealing with daily routines. Then, one day, Jeff had a particularly violent argument with Linda. After Jeff had nearly struck her she shouted, “You need help! I refuse to go on living like this,” and stormed out of the house. Confused and hurt, she drove aimlessly for hours and when she returned, Jeff was gone.

Days later, a sullen Jeff returned home, and would not tell Linda where he had been. They spent a week passing each other in the house, avoiding any contact, sleeping in different rooms. The love Jeff felt for Linda ran so deep, he could not bear the thought of life without her but could not confront her. Finally, Linda broke the ice. “I love you”, she told him, but insisted, “You need help for your mood swings, and we really can’t go on like this.”

At first Jeff said nothing, and then his feelings poured out, “I feel hopeless all the time. I can hardly function because nothing seems to have any importance. I use all the energy I have just to get through the day. By the time I come home I’m spent, angry and confused. I just can’t deal with things the way I once did.” As Jeff talked, the tears started to flow from Linda’s eyes and from Jeff’s. Linda knew the man Jeff once was and wanted him back.

Jeff finally agreed to see Dr. Roberts, their family doctor, and after a short discussion Roberts said, “I’m going to put you on one of the new serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I think that this medication will help you. We’ll give it a try and see if it makes a difference.”

Jeff filled the prescription and started the therapy he hoped would return his life to him. After a week he noticed a difference in his approach to problems; instead of flying into a rage, he stopped and thought through the conflict he felt. He was no longer angry all the time, had more patience and was more focused on his work. Linda noticed the change too. She no longer dreaded coming home from her job, trying to gauge Jeff’s mood for the evening. Jeff and Linda began enjoying life and their marriage to the fullest. Jeff’s job as an electrical engineer took off. The work he accomplished won recognition and promotions. Linda also grew comfortable in her life. Her job teaching at the local middle school gave her great satisfaction. Linda adored children but was not able to have her own, so this proximity to children fulfilled a need.

Jeff had now been on the antidepressant for years. His life with Linda could not be better; he found himself feeling guilty at times for the happiness that was his. He was now in charge of a major project for the company. The outlook of every facet of his life was positive.

“You know Linda,” Jeff said one morning, “I think it’s a waste of money for me to continue to take the antidepressant. I feel fine, we get along great and things couldn’t be better at work. I’m going to have a talk with Dr. Roberts and see what he says.”

Jeff made the appointment and Linda went with him to testify to the changes Jeff had undergone. Dr. Roberts agreed and slowly began to wean Jeff off the medicine. When Jeff began taking the drug, he started at a low dose and gradually increased the dosage until he underwent the full benefits of the drug. Now he reversed the process and began taking less and less, paying attention to any changes in his mood or behavior, until he was taking the lowest dose used. He still was doing fine so he stopped taking the drug altogether.

Weeks, then months went by and Jeff was even tempered and happy as he had been when he was on the medication, but deep within his genetic makeup subtle changes were taking place. Removing the drug from his system set his cellular machinery into gear, in a manner that had not taken place in man for thousands of years. Proteins were being manufactured that were awesome in length and complexity. They weaved through the walls of his cells fourteen times, like vipers ready to do their damage. The process was slow, gradually creating a monster. The night he began the crossover, Jeff had a dream.

Jeff dreamt he walked an African savanna, hunting for what he knew he needed to continue his existence – food. He stalked his prey, made a kill and feasted on his quarry’s raw flesh. Jeff awoke bathed in sweat, unable to understand his apparition’s meaning. The final image remained imprinted in his mind. In his dream the quarry had been human. This deeply disturbed him for days. He tried to dismiss the dream but couldn’t, for it reoccured. And as the side affects began to alter his body, his dreams became more and more vivid as his mind was also altered.

Six months went by before Jeff noticed a change in his behavior. He was out shopping one day and was about to pull into a parking space when another car beat him to the spot. Normally, he would have uttered some epithet to himself and gone on his way, but this time was different. He pulled his car behind the intruder to prevent him from leaving, then jumped out of his car and attacked. Jeff hammered his fist on the closed window, confronting an elderly couple. The face of the old man behind the wheel revealed shock and disbelief. Both he and his wife cowered as Jeff continued to yell and pound the window. In desperation, the old man began to blow his horn continuously, hoping to attract attention. The noise and forming crowd brought Jeff to his senses.   He jumped into his car and left.

As he drove away, Jeff was shaking with fear and rage. Years ago when he was depressed, he felt rage, a rage born of desperation. The rage he felt now was different; it was animal. For a moment, he wanted to kill the old couple, not considering the consequences.

He did not mention this incident to his wife. He was both scared and ashamed and wanted to forget all about what had happened. Jeff wondered if maybe he should return to his antidepressant but couldn’t realize that there was no turning back. His genetic machinery was in overdrive and could not be reversed.

Jeff had always had a heavy beard. With his thick black hair, his five o’clock shadow would sometimes appear at three, but now by eleven o’clock he looked like he hadn’t shaved at all that morning, and his normally densely haired torso and arms seemed to be growing additional hair. Another change took place that he did not understand, seeming impossible. His face seemed to be altered ever so slightly. His brow seemed to be thickened. It was almost impossible to notice without close inspection. The way Jeff first became aware of this change was that his glasses felt uncomfortable to wear. But this was not a problem for his eyesight seemed to be improving to the extent that he didn’t need his glasses.

The change that distressed Jeff the most was the change in his temper. These days he avoided Linda for fear of a blowup. Small things that she had always done, her little habits, would now grate his nerves generating a mad rage that he fought to keep under control. He had more fits of anger while in public. One day, an elderly woman entered a checkout line at the same time as Jeff, and he pushed her, knocked her to the ground yelling obscenities. A crowd gathered as he ran from the store. In the distance he could hear the wail of a police siren. He walked for hours until darkness fell, and then returned to the store’s parking lot to retrieve his car.

Day by day, his appearance was definitely changing. His brow was becoming more prominent and there was no controlling his beard growth, and his body was covered with what appeared to be fur. Jeff was at a loss as to what to do, whom to turn to for he found it impossible to communicate his rage.

Then one day, Linda was gone from his life too. She knew he was angry again, but not like before. The rage was constant and she couldn’t help but notice the change in his appearance. She couldn’t take the anger any longer and asked, “What’s happening Jeff?”

Jeff’s reply was both verbal and physical, “Shut up bitch,” he shouted and slapped Linda as hard as he could. He had never struck her before. Linda fell to the floor and Jeff began to kick and stomp her until his energy was spent. Linda’s face was no longer recognizable. He left and entered a primal world from which he would never return.

THE END

May 12, 2015 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

BOOK SIGNING

This coming Saturday, 2/14/15, I will be joining a group of local writers at the Atglen Public Library in Atglen, PA. The address for the library is 413 Valley Ave., Atglen, PA and will be from 12PM – 3PM.

I will be signing my novel, New Moon Rising, along with two anthologies, Curious Hearts and Spellbound 2011, where my stories appear. For those on a tight budget, I will also be giving away my short story, The Gig of a Lifetime, published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

Come meet the authors and perhaps buy a book.

See you Saturday.

February 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

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