The Inheritance

Usher

Image: Daniel Oines

In the years just before Bastion Rutherford Koch was born, the scientists had a name for it, and the politicians had another. But that was a long time ago and everyone just calls it The Vine now, of course, growing over everything and choking the life out of it once it takes hold. It took over the Eastern Seaboard completely in matter of weeks, they say; the buildings, the roads, the bridges, and all the food, and the drinkable water.  Everyone had to move, even those who had once ruled the world, like Bastion’s parents. They left the masses behind them.

They cut their losses.

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The Patron

1920s Farmhouse

Image: shuitt

When the burlap sack put over my head was finally taken off, I looked up into the eyes of Joey Bentz, the bankrobber. He looked a little older than the pictures on the wanted posters in Wichita, but I suppose he was only thirty or so. He had that same stare; black eyes, not brown, not hazel, but black. He had black hair to match that came to a widow’s peak on a wide, pale forehead. His looked like the face of death. Before any sense kicked in, I was sure he was going to kill me right there. But, when it did kick in, I figured if he wanted me dead, he wouldn’t have had his guy lift me off the street, bag me, and drive me out to the house where they were holed up.

And who was I to them anyway? I was just a scribbler, an artist who worked for a magazine in town. I was no Rockwell. But, I wasn’t too far off for a kid working for a local magazine. But, I guess I gained a reputation for realism around Wichita, and I’d got a job with the magazine there almost right out of high school because I had a good eye for detail, and a good drive to do good work. It was the summer of 1928. That was the thing at that time, not like now. You had to draw and paint as if you were capturing a real moment in time, just like a camera, and you had to do it fast by hand.

“What do you want?” I squeaked. I was pretty scared, and never a tough guy.

“You the painter?” said Bentz.

“Well, I’m one of them.” I said.

“Then you’re gonna paint me.”

I said “Sure.” Continue reading

Forever Young

The Museum of Art was unusually busy for this time of night. Admission was free on the first Tuesday of the month. They kept this space open until midnight in the hopes of enticing attendees who otherwise tended to busy themselves with television sitcoms or sitting on their favorite barstool. They welcomed a motley lineup of tweed jacketed intellectuals, college hipsters, romantic couples in ties and pearl necklaces and tourists with backpacks and cameras slug over their shoulder. Everyone was welcome. Continue reading

The Data Model

night sky

When The Cornicopia left Io Station, they were all asleep in their regeneration chambers. The voyage would take a little over a century, far out of the solar system into deep space. They would settle on Foreman 12-01-70, a planet classified as being hospitable to human life. Even before they fell asleep, they felt no fear. It had been bred out of them in the gestation units, raised as children to adulthood by the guidance of The Algorithm.

To survive in the void of deep space, it was postulated that only their single-mindedness would serve them. The extraneous emotional range of traditional human psychology and makeup had been stripped away from them for their own protection, and to support their drive to achieve success in settling another planet light years away. They would leave the barren solar system and all of the irrationality and unpredictability of their former histories behind them. Those Proles remaining on Luna, Deimos, Phobos, and on Titan would take their insecurities, their feelings of inadequacy, their jealousies, their debilitating memories of lost love, and their broken dreams with them into oblivion.The occupants of the Cornicopia would wake in a new world. In it, there would be no place for such things. Continue reading

Guns in Guatemala

It wasn’t even past 10 am in Guatemala City and already Detective Rick Rhodes was sweating bullets. Traffic snarled outside the decrepit café that survived in this derelict avenue, attached to a boarded-up hotel where lizards scampered in the early morning shadows. Rhodes had seen his share of slums – this dank and dusty pothole, where bums sweated out rubbing-alcohol flavored Tequila from their pores and the prostitutes were all either under thirteen or over fifty-five, just might have been the worst.

No. Maiduguri was worse. But Africa’s a whole other planet. At least Guatemala City was in the same hemisphere as America. Still… it was bad. Continue reading

The Station

Church house

Adapted from a photo by: Bernt Rostad

After my grandfather passed away in the year 1854, my grandmother came to live with us in Baltimore. I was eleven. The move was against her will, having lived in Virginia for many years after immigrating from England with her husband, and arguing the point with my father with many sheets of parchment and veritable gallons of ink that comprised their correspondence.

But, my father insisted that she should leave the empty estate in Virginia and join us all in Maryland. He was a successful accountant for a textile firm, while Mother dedicated all of her waking hours rearing us. My grandmother was to join her in that role, with time for her quilting, and for her watercolors, while mother made social connections in town. Father was seeking to rise in the ranks, and Mother intended to help him through the wives. As for my Grandmother, it was the promise of the company of us children that convinced her to acquiesce to my father’s wishes, she told us later.

At age 65, my Grandmother retained the fiery spirit of someone much younger. According to my father, she’d always been outspoken, without any thought to the consequences of her words. She was impulsive. In my father’s world of carefully observed social discourse, it was something that we children greatly admired in her. To us she’d had always seemed to us to be an adventurer, even if the adventures she had pursued by the time she’d come to live with us were of a more subtle nature. There was something of the pixie about my Grandmother. It was as if she was not of her time, not because she belonged to the age previous as so many of her generation did, but more that she belonged to an age to come.
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