I’m back…sort of

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To my followers, past readers, and future readers,

I planned on starting another writing streak this month. The problem is I’ve been on vacation since the 1st of February.

I was charging my batteries in January in preparation for an avalanche of flash fiction in February. Now that I’m back, I’m staring at the keyboard wondering where my muse is?

What happened?

My beady brain is not infused with fresh ideas. I feel like I’m sitting in a desert wondering how I got there, and why I don’t have any supplies.

There’s nothing more daunting than looking at a blank page with a blank mind.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up this project.

I’m just pushing my own deadline back to take the pressure off while I muddle through this temporary creativity blackout.

If you are a new reader, I hope you take a moment and peek at the archived articles on the right side of this page.

For those of you who are willing to wait until I get my act together, thank you. I’ll try not to disappoint.

As It Stands, may you have a great day!

Breaking For The Holidays

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Dear Readers,

I want to thank you all for visiting my blog since I unveiled it in July.

I especially want to thank those of you who are following me.

I also want to thank those of you who made constructive, and encouraging comments.

I started my daily writing streak in the middle of June. Since then, I’ve written 130 consecutive flash fiction stories.

It’s been fun, and challenging. I plan on starting another streak in January 2018.

If your new to this blog, I invite you to go through the archives on the right side of the page.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! And, a Happy New Year!

As It Stands, I’ll be recharging my batteries.

The Eternal Writer’s Saga

counter-writers-blockI am a writer.

I record human successes, failures, and follies.

I’ve been writing since Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization in 3100 BC.

My words can be found scribbled in the earliest Egyptian hieroglyphics, and ancient Mesoamerican mounds.

I’ve been called Petrarch, Aristotle and Plato. My words have brought down mighty countries, and inspired people to die for freedom. Ships were sunk and castles stormed to protect my words of wisdom and hope.

Names are meaningless to me. I have to change mine every century.

You can find my deepest thoughts written in the Indus script of the Bronze Age in ancient India.

I’ve written lists on papyrus using the Phoenician alphabet, and carved scripts like the Runes into stone tablets, using their complex Cyrillic alphabet.

My name changes with every culture. Every era. Egyptians once called me Ptahhotep, and the early summerians called me Enheduanna.

I was William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinback, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Words weave picture stories like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer. Words written by influential visionaries, like George Orwell, warn of future dangers.

My mission is to record it all. To give every culture, and nation, a voice. A history.

Words can be worth their weight in gold. They should not be used as weapons. Instead, words should be used to guide civilizations, and bring order to chaos.

Words separate mankind from all the other life forms on earth.

The ability to read words from our past gives us insight into who we are now. What mistakes our predessors made can be recorded as future warnings.

Likewise, many of the things our ancestors did right, are still right today.

Every civilization has a story to tell, and writers to save it for posterity. Words are building blocks that create firm foundations for all nations. They should be used wisely.

The gods are watching…

As It Stands, writing has always calmed my soul, regardless of the subject.

The Time Assassin

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2037 – A secret location in Mandan, North Dakota

He opened his eyes and the bright lights made him blink.

A white room. He was lying on a bed in the center of the room. White sheets and covers. He was dressed in white pants and a white shirt. His feet were bare. His head was bald. His face was smooth and hairless.

He felt stiff like he’d been laying down for a long time. He wasn’t sure where he was at.

“Good morning Josh…” a mellow feminine voice greeted him from hidden speakers.

It’s time for today’s mission.”

He sat up, stretched, and watched a hidden door slide open. He felt slightly dizzy when he stood up, but it went away immediately after he took a step. Down a long corridor with overhead lighting.

He stopped when the corridor abruptly ended. A sliding door opened and he entered.

The room was full of computers and technical hardware not found anywhere else on earth. Three male technicians with long white coats were taking turns viewing a small monitor.

One of them became aware of Josh who was standing there and waiting for instructions.

“Josh! There you are! Come over here and take a seat,” he said, gesturing towards an adjustable reclining chair with wires and cables attached to it.

He obediently sat down.

The technician, Eric, pulled an electronic headpiece down from above Josh’s head and secured it with a strap under his chin. Lou, the second technician punched a code into a computer and a thick glass shell lowered down over Josh.

Perry, the third technician finished instructing his computer and a thick titanium shell lowered down over the glass one. Eric spoke into a speaker, “How are you doing Josh? Are you ready?”

The monitor he was watching went blank. “Yes,” he replied.

Lou punched in the time machine’s coordinates:

November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. Dallas, Texas, Dealey Plaza.

Josh stepped into a grassy area and pulled out a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter model 91/38 Italian rifle from beneath his trench coat. No one paid attention to him when he took aim and fired the fatal shot that killed President John F. Kennedy.

He quickly covered the rifle back up and headed for the Texas School Depository. People were running around in a panic. No one noticed him enter the building or plant the rifle on the second floor.

Back in 2037

The three technicians watched the titanium shell’s glow fade away. Perry and Lou sat down and began typing at their computers. The titanium shell rose and disappeared into the ceiling. The glass shell followed.

Josh was still in the chair. Unconscious.

While they waited for him to wake up they ran the video of the assassination again, making sure there were no slip-ups. They had a duty to country. Failure was not an option.

Josh was a one-in-a-million freak. He was the only one who had ever survived their time machine. They couldn’t explain it. They just knew he was special. They were able to control his memories with drugs so that he never recalled any of his missions.

When he wasn’t on a mission, he ate and slept for his country. That’s what they told him. For his country. He was a patriot. A 21st century Captain America. When the Commander-In-Chief called he must always be ready.

As It Stands, imagine how our government would misuse time technology!

Artist Confronts Daffy ‘Devil’ Duck

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William J. Bernstein was famous for his accuracy as a professional illustrator of animals.

His talent was apparent as early as kindergarten. He drew the best rabbits, puppies and cats in the classroom.

When he was ten he was drawing animals so accurately that his art teacher helped him put together a portfolio of his work. Family and friends were impressed with his artistic flair. In high school he was selling his illustrations to magazines and exhibiting them in art fairs.

His work was popular from the get-go. His admirers talked about how real his animals were. How they could almost walk off the paper they were drawn on.

But William fought an inner war that no one, not even his parents, knew about. It started when he began drawing animals in kindergarten. The first time he drew a rabbit it talked to him!

Startled, he looked around the table at the other kids to see if they heard. They apparently didn’t. He was afraid to reply to the rabbit’s questions and have everyone stare at him.

Even at the tender age of five, William knew rabbits didn’t talk to people. He asked his parents if there were any animals that talked to people? They laughed, and his dad patted him on the head, “My little artist,” he said.

As he got older he became aware that the conversations he was having with animals were in his head. If they were intrusive he would have sought help, William told himself.

The fact of the matter was he enjoyed talking with rhinos and parrots because they shared so much about themselves. The problem was they were becoming his family, at the expense of his real family, and friends.

It was gradual, this transformation from a social little boy to a reclusive artist living in a loft who was awkward around other people. He was an accomplished illustrator that made animals come to life under his pencil but totally lacked any social skills.

When he decided to explore his art – and try cartooning – a new world opened up to him. Literally. The cartoon animals were unpredictable and not always nice, like the realistic ones he drew.

But what an adventure! He’d hole up in his loft with snacks and draw cartoons for hours.

His research included drawing established cartoon characters to “get the feel” of the methods that other cartoonists used. At first, his attempts didn’t say anything. After countless hours of practice however, they proved to be downright gabby.

As the days went by, William made a lot of brand new friends with great stories to tell. Elmer Fudd and Sylvester the Cat had a wonderful sense of humor and he found himself laughing so hard at times his ribs hurt.

One day after drawing Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and The Tasmanian Devil, he discovered another side to famous cartoon characters; they weren’t all nice. Some were downright mean, and in the case of one…evil.

Daffy Duck: What do you think you’re doing? You’re not a cartoonist!

William: Whoaa! Hold on there Daffy! What’s the problem?

Daffy Duck: “You are, you ugly little creep! Why don’t you go stick your blockhead into the toilet bowl and flush it?

William: I don’t get it. You’re acting more like a devil duck than the funny character who I grew to love while growing up and watching TV.

Daffy Duck: When Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones died, I didn’t see any reason to be happy anymore. So, I went to sleep. And, now you woke me up ass brain! There’s hell to pay now!

William: If that’s the way you’re going to be, I guess I’ll put you in the fireplace,” he warned as he grabbed the piece of paper Daffy was on. A minute later he threw it into the blazing fire.

“So much for you, you damn duck!” he crowed, and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

When his parents found him during their weekly trip to his apartment, he was sitting in the middle of the living room weakly laughing.

After he was admitted to a mental institution, William no longer talked with people (his parents included) and he showed no interest in drawing animals anymore. After a year William was deemed harmless, and allowed in the general population.

On his first day, an orderly put cartoons on the big screen TV. When Daffy Duck appeared William screamed…and screamed…and screamed.

As It Stands, horror is where you look for it!

The Dimension Walker’s Fate

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There exists nearby, another dimension that is invisible to the naked eye.”

-Dr. Harold Suskin, PhD, in Psychology, 2021

Peter Grimley led two lives. 

In one he was a respected teacher, and in the other a depraved serial killer.

It all started twenty years ago when he was in college. He was sipping a cup of coffee in the plaza square where the students liked to hang out before, and after, classes.

It was cold and foggy outside. Peter set the book down he’d been reading and saw the most beautiful woman in his life walk by! She looked worried and seem hurried. He watched her head for the alley behind the old theatre and suddenly got an urge to follow her.

He paid for his coffee, put his book into his knapsack, and went in the direction of the alley. The visibility was getting worse as more fog rolled in from the ocean. Peter thought he could hear footsteps and blindly followed the sound.

Then he saw her. Then she disappeared!

He ran toward the spot where she was standing and passed through a dimensional door.

He was no longer Peter Grimley.

He was Simon Ertz, a psychopath who eluded authorities for years. He spent his time traveling around the country on a murder spree. He was the dark horse of a very wealthy family who didn’t want anything to do with him.

In Simon’s world there was a lot of pent-up anger. Sometimes he heard voices, but they didn’t bother him too much. The voices also tried to confuse him by calling him another name now and then.

Maybe it was just coincidence, but Simon seemed to find dimensional doors wherever he went. When he did blunder into one he blacked out.

And Peter was back in college feeling hungover the next morning after last night’s blackout in the alley. Some friends found him and thought he was drunk and took him back to the dorm.

After that, Peter started reading about temporal dimensions. He discovered that time is often referred to as the “fourth dimension.”

His studies showed that a temporal dimension is one way to measure physical change. It was perceived differently from the three spatial dimensions in that there was only one of it, and that it couldn’t move freely in time.

Peter began to challenge that hypothesis when he walked through another dimensional door while hiking in the nearby woods. They seemed to be everywhere. And when he blacked out violent and bloody dreams haunted him.

As the years went by the dimensional doors kept opening when Peter was near. After years of pondering his situation he came to the conclusion that he lived another life in another dimension.

That other life was full of anger and innocent victims were being assaulted because it was fun. Simon thought it was a real hoot to watch people die. No one ever appreciated his talents, they just taunted him in school and called him “poor little rich boy.” 

It was about humiliating his victims. Playing with them like a cat with a mouse. They always ended up dead, but not before he had his fun.

The only thing that bothered him were the blackouts. They were starting to feel like a problem to him.

When Peter woke up he was propped up by a tree just off the trail. No one was around. He still had his knapsack on. It was really bad this time. He realized that someone else was living in his brain.

He was the same man with the same body, but with a totally different life in another dimension. It hurt his brain to think about the physics involved with time and space.

After graduation, Peter got a job teaching at a local high school. It had been a long time since he blacked out, and he was starting to think his life was returning to normal. Three years went by in a blink of an eye, and Peter had a woman named Darlene in his life.

The night he got up the nerve to ask her to marry him, he went for a walk on the beach near his house. The waves rolled in and…

Simon was pissed!

The SWAT team had tracked him to the community park. They were getting closer by the moment… and suddenly he was on a strange beach. He sat up and stretched. He was thrilled with whatever happened.

His head felt funny. Then he heard someone calling for Peter. When she got to him she seemed worried, and asked him if he was all right? He stared at her for a moment until a name came to him, “Yes…I’m fine Darlene. Help me get up.” 

Peter didn’t have a chance.

When the SWAT team member saw him appear from behind a tree, he opened fire with his AR-15!

As It Stands, time and space can be a messy proposition for mere humans.

Adventure of a Lifetime: See Jeb

 

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Okay, my friends! It’s time to put your backpacks on and to follow me!”

Seven people dressed for a long hike fell into an irregular line behind their guide Jeb Brewster, III. Four men, and three women. All city-slickers. All wearing expensive new gear and clothing.

All out for a big adventure.

“North Carolina is the Pine Tree State,” Jeb said, as he led his clients deeper into a narrow forest pathway.

We have eight different kinds of pine. My favorite is those loblolly pines on your right.” Nine pairs of eyes briefly swiveled to the right. Thus far, Jeb was the only one talking which wasn’t unusual.

Finally, the woman just behind Jeb asked, “How long until we set up camp?”

Another hour,” Jeb replied.

There were more than 5,500 acres of woodlands inside the city’s Outer Loop, and Jeb knew them all like the back of his hand. He was raised in these wild woods. His family, the Brewster’s lived in Raleigh since 1800.

Jeb came from a long line of famous guides, and trackers. His reputation brought in a steady flow of clients. He charged more than any of the other local guides, but promised an adventure of a lifetime.

He refused to take a client who wasn’t in good physical shape. He made his clients sign contracts that they would not sue him if something went wrong on the four-day excursion.

Jeb called for a 10-minute break for anyone who had to void their bladder. It was a good time to sit for a short spell. Jeb had set a brutal initial pace to make sure they made it to the first clearing to camp out before night fall.

The group sat around a fire Jeb built and smoked weed. They laughed, ate food, and told scary stories late into the night. Jeb listened, but didn’t contribute to the story-telling. He quietly sipped on a silver flask filled with homemade moonshine.

A Red Wolf howled as the group settled down for the night. Two raccoons watched them from the concealment of the debris on the forest floor. A Bobcat slowly approached the fire but suddenly ran away when Jeb threw a rock at it.

The pace was slower the next day. They were in Cherokee territory when Jeb began pointing out small monuments, and grave sites off the beaten trail. He talked to them about how the white man almost wiped the Cherokee off the face of the earth.

On the second night they camped out near a running stream. This time the group built the bonfire. After listening to the group tell their stories for awhile Jeb spoke up, “I’ve got a story for you folks.” 

The little group turned their full attention on Jeb.

My kin have been up here for over 200 years. The first Brewster to enter these parts befriended the Cherokee people. We even intermarried. My mother was mostly Cherokee. Through all of these years we’ve hunted these woodlands.

“Heck! We still enjoy hunting, but we’ve been running out of game for the last twenty years.”

One of the men coughed, and then passed his pipe to the woman next to him.

That’s why I decided to start my own guide business. City folk like adventures in the wild and like I told you from the onset, I’ll provide you with the experience of a lifetime. If you live through it, you’ll agree.”

Nine worried sets of eyes latched onto Jeb. “What the hell?” one man asked.

Then the group saw them. They were wearing traditional war paint and carried tomahawks. Their leader came up to Jeb…and they hugged.

Joseph says he’ll give you a lead,” he told the group. “You have until daylight. If you bear north you just might make it back to Raleigh!”

As It Stands, traditionally native Americans have got the short end of the stick. I thought I’d reverse that for once.