Saturday, April 19, 2014

Brief Announcement

I am dropping the price of my Kindle book Fourteen Stories of Dreams and Death to $0.99 for the foreseeable future.  The link is to the left if anyone is interested.  (I'd love to hear suggestions on a better title as well.)

I will probably end up deleting this post at some point, as it is not a dream (unless one counts the dream of selling ebooks.) 

I'm picky that way ;) 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Collaborator

I accompanied the Overseer as she made her rounds of the facility.  She was a rather severe woman, dressed in a military uniform of high rank, her blonde hair gathered into a tight knot at the nape of her neck.  I was dressed in a uniform as well, but one more sloppy and tattered, as befitting a lackey.  Some yellow dust clung to my baggy pant leg where I had brushed against a wall.  I tried to brush it off with my hand as I hurried to keep pace with the Overseer.

We came upon a room which some workers were painting.  There was newspaper spread out on the floor beneath step ladders spattered with yellow and white paint.  Utilty lights set up on the floor cast long shadows up the walls.  These workers had been abducted and forced to work against their will.  They were terrified of the Overseer.  Their hands shook visibly when she criticized their work.  Their faces paled with thoughts of whatever abominable punishments they might face for their failures.  Their voices faltered, their eyes flinching involuntarily, betraying an anticipation of blows.

I had been abducted along with the rest of them, and I considered myself to be just as much a victim as they were.  I lingered for a moment after the Overseer had left the room.  I went over to a woman who was working with a brush in the corner.  I tried to tell her that I was sorry for all of this.  I tried to explain that I was caught up in it all just like they were, that I had no choice in the matter, that I was just trying to make the best I could of the situation.

The woman took a moment to weigh my words, nodding thoughtfully as she stared off.  Finally she turned to me, staring pointedly into my eyes as she said, "It don't matter.  I got to thinking about it and I figured it out.  When the police come, they'll know who to arrest."  And she turned back to her work and I knew that she was right.  I was dumbstruck with the realization of my own guilt, but I knew things were going to be different.  I made no effort to catch up with the Overseer.  I let her go and I just stood there smiling, whatever the cost.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Graveyard of Past Regrets

As a relaxation technique,  I was asked to picture my sins and mistakes in some kind of physical form.  I thought of a little plot of land on the beach where everyone's transgressions were buried.  The places were marked with tall wooden stakes dabbed with a touch of red paint along the top.  Everyone wandered silently, mindless of one another, passing from row to row looking for the stakes which belonged to them.  The tide came in, and the water flowed in between the stakes, each wave broken into separate rivulets of foam and then receding back into the sea.  And all the while, a flock of grey birds gathered on a dune across the way to witness our strange human compulsions.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Running Late

I was running late for work, which rarely ever happens.  As I was rushing around trying to get ready, I could somehow hear the chatter between the other guards at work on the radio.  The guard I was to relieve at my post was moaning about the futility of his existence and going on about what a bastard I was for leaving him stuck there and so on.  Meanwhile, I was having my own problems.  I kept trying to put on my guard uniform, but every time I looked down I found that I had put on my normal jeans and t-shirt, and I had to start the process all over again.

Finally, I thought I had it right so I was off to work.  By that time it was getting light out, and I found myself reporting to a park in the early morning hours.  I headed for the guard shack on the premises, but a supervisor caught me on the dirt path.  He took me over to a shaded area where the management were all waiting around a cluster of picnic tables.  First they reprimanded me for being out of uniform, and it was then that I noticed that I was still just wearing jeans and a flannel shirt.  On top of that, they told me that the shirt was ugly, which seemed unnecessary.  Then they made me watch some kind of training film right there at the bench.  I tried to go, but I knocked over the projector as I was getting up.  They told me that the film stock was very old and fragile, and that in damaging it I had released dangerous chemicals into the air that would probably give us all cancer.  I wasn't exactly having the best morning.

Monday, December 16, 2013

From the Outside

I had a nice old colonial house that sat in a clearing with clusters of weeds growing around the foundation, but for some reason I always slept on a straw mat laid out on the front lawn, curled up in a wool blanket that had gathered thistles and thorns.  There was something appealing about forsaking the shelter of the house in exchange for being out in the open air, under the stars, exposed to the elements, and all just mere feet from my door.

One morning I awoke to find a small group of people gaping in at the windows at the corner of the house beside the front door.  I wasn't bothered at all by the impropriety.  I just rubbed my eyes and crawled out from under my blankets.  I heard them complimenting the rustic furnishings, the carvings on the wood, the inviting comfort of the interior.  There was a desk there beneath the windows, nested in the little nook at the foot of the stairs.  There were wooden figurines scattered on the desk, their fine details painted to various degrees with a toothpick and a set of acrylic paints.  A magnifying glass on a metal crane shined a light down on this cluttered work space.

I fell in along the back of this clustered group, almost impersonally partaking in their gaping admiration of my house's charming interior.  But I knew I was going to have to tell them the truth.  I wasn't responsible for any of it.  The previous occupant had done all of that.  All I had ever done was hang some paintings on the walls.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Decomposition

My friends had a son that really loved video games.  They had a little area set up over in the corner of the room with a small TV and some shelves to keep all of his games on.  The kid would spend hours sitting over there on the floor playing his games.  He spent so much time over there, in fact, that his parents didn't notice for quite some time that he had died sitting there facing the screen.

He sat there for several weeks, rotting away. His skin began to turn green.  The features of his face began to droop and run and flake and even ooze off everywhere in a very unsightly manner.  Flies had even begun to buzz about him, settling unpreturbed on his arms and the back of his neck.  The game controller lay loose in his hands and the bones of his fingers and knuckles were starting to show through where the flesh had rotted off.

Finally his father stopped by to give the kid's head an affectionate tossle.  This caused the boy's jaw to unhinge and fall to the floor in front of him.  As the father pulled his hand back loose clumps of hair came with it and the body pitched forward limply.  At that point, I imagine he began to suspect that something might be wrong.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chemicals of War

My friend and I were discussing World War I, and it was as if we were right there, witnessing it all first hand.  We stood on a high hill where we had a view of the whole battlefield of Europe laid out before us, the soldiers all digging row upon row of those endless trenches beneath the broiling late afternoon sun, all the vast preparations for war.  My friend nudged me and told me that the army issued many of these soldiers such substandard equipment that often times they ended up being exposed and dying from the gas themselves as they were releasing it on the enemy.

As I considered this unpleasant piece of information, I found myself in a dark place, lost amid piles of skulls and bones piled higher than I could strain my neck to see, pile high enough to block out the light and the sun.  I could hear the awful rasping rattle of someone's dying breath, all sick and muffled.  I turned and saw a gas mask staring out at me from one of the piles, the eyes black and empty. 

I knew that the gas had been released in the air.  I tried to hold my breath and run.  But I just kept hearing that rattle, right over my shoulder, right at my ear, dogging my heels.  I kept seeing those black-eyed masks staring out at me from every pile.  I ran on and on, but there were just more and more piles, and I knew I'd never make it.  I'd never escape the gas before my lungs gave out and I'd be forced to take a breath.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Storybook Illustration

I opened this children's book to a random page and there was a colorful drawing of a girl climbing over the fence of an amusement park that sat beside a small lake.  The wooden fence meandered along the shore to the spot where she climbed in the foreground; the Ferris wheel there, spinning off the edge of the page.  In the background, amongst all of the other rides, there was a huge animatronic dinosaur tethered with ropes or wires.  The text in the bottom corner explained the scene.  It said that the girl was fighting some monster and she recalled seeing the same creature in that theme park many years ago.

I was more fascinated by the picture, however.  I felt like I could stare at it for hours, like a childhood memory, the endless details of the park and the rides, the games and concessions, the people gaping at the towering toy dinosaur, holding cotton candy and pointing up with their free hands, the watercolor lake tapering off into yellow paper nothingness, the pastel boats floating aimlessly.  I felt like I was poised at the edge of an adventure or closing the book at the end of a long rainy day.