Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Removed incomplete Futsworth story.
Removed non-story posts.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
It's done now. If you have been reading along, you will notice that I rewrote the last part of the last section to remove an extra character. I keep forgetting these are supposed to be short stories and that adding new characters only paragraphs before the ending isn't a good idea. yep.
Magellanic Cloud 9? Skipper cringed when she heard that. “So cheesy,” she said, to no one in particular. There were precious few people awake nearby to hear it. By the looks of things, sedation was a very popular option on these flights. At least two thirds of the passengers were dead to the world, snoozing serenely ensconced in bungee. Flight attendants were busy drifting through the rows connecting IV’s to the unconscious people. Skipper swooped up behind the nearest attendant. “Hey!”
“Yes?” the attendant replied over her shoulder as she inserted a needle into the vein of an unconscious passenger.
“What are you doing?”
“These are feeding tubes. The sedatives usually last about 24 hours. They will be dehydrated when they wake up if we don’t hook them up to the tubes.”
“Can I help you with anything?”
“How do I get to the medical station? I’m not feeling well.”
The flight attendant pointed. “There’s a map in the commons area, back there. Look for deck number 3.”
Skipper flipped over and pulled herself towards the commons area, tapping the seats with her hands on either side to pick up speed. She very nearly collided with a child zipping along the other direction. The boy deftly kicked at an armrest and vaulted out of Skipper’s path. “Careful! I new at this!” she shouted at him. He made a stupid face at her and launched himself away. The zero-g stuff wasn’t as easy as it looked in the tutorial videos they had shown her back at the spaceport.
Just ahead there was a circular portal with bright orange block letters: DECK 5 PASSENGER COMMONS. On the other side, the ship opened up into a comfortably spacious mezzanine with large windows along the walls. The room was an oval with padded hand holds on ceiling and floor for people to push themselves around the room. Portals identical to the one Skipper came in through were located above, below, and directly across. The map the flight attendant mentioned hovered in the center of the room. This commons area was the middle floor of a vertical series of living decks stacked on top of each other. Aiming for the medical station, Skipper headed down through the portal on the floor, down through deck 4. Deck 4 was the location of the bar the loudspeakers had advertised earlier. Skipper could hear the OOM-pssh-OOM-pssh sound of bar music coming from behind the extra large and garishly flashing MAGELLANIC CLOUD 9 entrance portal. She hovered there for a moment, hesitating. Well.. maybe if I eat something. Yes! Eating. And drinking. A lot. That’ll fix me right up. Skipper pushed off the floor and dove through the portal to CLOUD 9.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
“I don’t want to hear it,” I say, fumbling cold keys into a cold ignition with cold fingers. My breath produces icy white clouds of misery in the cabin. Fog is already forming on the windows. Winter has come too soon.
“But…!” first and second born protest in unison.
“No.” I twist the key. The engine wheezes at me. It clearly isn’t happy. I sympathize. I remember that I made similar noises earlier when alarm clock number one and backup alarm clock number two exploded into a jumbled cacophony of grim AM radio political debates and cheery FM radio top 10 requested song countdowns. The battery strains and the starter squeals its rhythmic call to arms. Five revolutions. Six. Seven-eight-nine-ten. I bite my lip and stab at the gas pedal with pointed toes. Eleven-twelve-thirteen. A sputter. A hiccough. Fourteen-fifteen-sixteen. A roar. Ignition. I retract my teeth from sorely abused lower lip.
“Thank you,” I whisper at the instrument panel, patting the dashboard for extra reassurance. “We’re still friends, you and me.”
Retract emergency brake. Depress clutch. Engage first gear. Gas. Locomotion successfully achieved, at least for today. But what about tomorrow? What about next week? I bite down on my lip again. This line of thought would lead nowhere I wanted to be just now.
“Can we go to the mall after school to buy Halloween costumes?” asks Second Born.
“Pleeeeease?” First Born pleads with puppy dog eyes set to maximum cuteness.
Halloween? I had forgotten all about that. Candy must be purchased, and pumpkins. Costumes, too. Arrangements to be made and many things to organize. What was that noise?
“Did you guys hear a noise? It sounded sharp, high pitched. Pinging, kind of.” I looked in the rearview mirror hoping the kids had heard it too.
“Nope,” replied First Born.
In the mirror I see Second Born fidgeting with her backpack, disappointed that I neglected to answer her previous query. “This year I want to be a witch,” she said. “I was a princess last year and a kitten that other year. Did you know that witches fly on brooms? Princesses can’t fly on brooms. Princesses can’t fly at all.”
“Superman can fly too”, First Born enthusiastically declared. Which was to be expected. He was, after all, presently wearing a Superman branded t-shirt.
“We can stop off at the mall this afternoon but we have to go to the mechanic first. The car is sick. It was making clonking noises all day yesterday,” I explained. The kids seemed satisfied with that. Costumes would be had, despite delays. All was well with their world. They were easy to please. I wish the car was so simple. Clonking yesterday, grinding the day before, pinging today. I squeezed the steering wheel a little tighter. If you’re broken, you would tell me, right? You would show me your warning lights as if to say, ‘I’m in trouble. I need help. This is the part of me that needs fixing,’ wouldn’t you? But what will you do if your warning lights are broken? Will you suffer in silence? One day, will you stall out and leave me stranded in traffic? My grip on the wheel had turned into a death clutch of anxiety. Deep breath. Calm down. The mechanic will make everything okay. The mechanic does not need the warning lights to know if something is wrong.
That afternoon I collected the children from school and delivered our automobile into the caring hands of certified-educated-expert-mechanic-man. As we sat in the waiting room impatiently anticipating the diagnosis, I watched the kids flipping through twenty year old National Geographic magazines and pondered the hundreds upon thousands of things that could possibly be wrong. The hundreds upon thousands of dollars it would cost me to correct them naturally followed.
An hour later, mechanic-man emerged from the garage area and called my name. I waved him over, nervously chuckling to myself about how similar this environment was to a doctor’s office.
“Okay, you’re all set,” he said, fixing me with a grin whiter and brighter than any man’s grin had a right to be.
“You fixed the clonking noise?” I asked.
“I looked everything over bumper-to-bumper,” he said, glancing down at the clipboard in his hands, that megawatt smile of his still in full effect. “You’re good. No problems. All set, like I said.”
“What do you mean, ‘no problems’?”
“There is nothing wrong with your vehicle. Oil changed, tires inflated, that’s all it needed.” He showed me his clipboard, a lengthy list of car parts with checkboxes next to each listed therein. Each box was neatly checked in the ‘okay’ column.Nothing was wrong? How could nothing be wrong? “I distinctly heard a sharp pinging this morning,” I explained to him.
“Maybe you ran over a piece of metal. A tin can,” he suggested.
“A clonking yesterday-”“Cargo shifting around in your trunk?”
“…and a grinding the day before.”
Mechanic-man shrugged. “Now as to that, I can’t say. Your car is old,” he said cheerfully, as if that explained everything.
Reluctantly, I paid the bill and bundled the kids into the car. They were positively thrilled to be back on the road again. It was time for new costumes. First Born and Second Born excitedly chattered about their purchasing plans with carefree delight. Their happiness was contagious. You’re okay, aren’t you? I wiggled the gearshift playfully. The mechanic said you were. He gave you a clean bill of health. You’re fine. You promise to tell me if you’re not, though, right?
First Born reached up from the back seat to tap me on the shoulder. “I heard a bang. Did you hear it too?”
My grip tightened on the steering wheel.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
“When I grow up I wanna be a space ship.”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Sam” my parents said, “You’re a boy. You can’t be a space ship.”
“I could, too!” I replied. “I could have rockets and boosters and big letters down my side that say U.S.S. Samson – Space Cruiser Extraordinaire.”
They glanced at each other from the corners of their eyes then smiled back at me, cheerfully suggesting, “How would you like to be an astronaut instead? Why, you could fly to the moon or to Mars one day. You could be a hero! Wouldn’t that be great?”
“Why would I want to be a passenger when I could be the actual ship?” I argued. “I’d rather be an asteroid than an astronaut.”
They laughed. “You couldn’t possibly be an asteroid, that makes no sense.”
“How hard is it to be an asteroid?” I asked. “All an asteroid does is float around in space. I could be a star, too. All stars do is sit there and burn.”
“You’re a human boy, Sam,” they explained. “You can’t be anything other than that.”
“But, that’s not fair! You told me I could be anything I wanted to be.”
“Of course you can. You can be a doctor or a scientist or a musician or an athlete or–”
“A galaxy!” I smiled, gazing up at the sky.
“I would be the brightest, most colourful, most spinny and twirly galaxy of them all! I would have happy stars and angry stars. Smart ones and stupid ones and crazy ones, of course. There would be bouncy planets and prickly planets, metal planets and wooden planets with mahogany moons and hickory comets flying all around!”
My parents frowned down upon me, their eyes sharp and cold. “No, Sam. You cannot.”
I bunched my fists and stared at my feet. I was furious. They were wrong, I thought to myself. They had to be. I could be anything. I, Sam, could be, and would be, a universe. A universe made of concrete with petrol powered mechanical aliens living on aluminum rim planets with lug nuts for poles.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Ooh, I say, that's quite sharp isn't it? Strong, punchy, full bodied. Too bad about those bitter notes in the crema. Yes, quite. Such a pity. Have you considered roasting your own beans? That's what we do. We grow them as well. I would be happy to give you a tour around the grounds sometime. Our beans are really great, you know. Very choice. This cup you've made me is alright, I suppose, for a grocery store level bean.