The Love Song

sailboat-on-turquoise-sea

Derek Christophers fell in love with the Aegean sea years ago when he served as financial consultant to a Greek shipping company, and later with the Greek government on an independent contract during the financial crisis. God knew they needed as much help as they could get after spending money like a drunk kid with his parents’ credit card. What was it with these people? It’s as if they thought they could beat the math by sheer force of will.

With a life full of schedules, budgets, year-end reports, the blue expanse of the sea where it met the sky seemed to transcend all of it. He took out his sailboat, Destiny Chaser, to explore the waterways talked about in the oldest stories in the world, not that Derek put much stock in old myths. He could understand their appeal though. Although he would never think of things this way, he had myths of his own that put him in the role of questing hero, fashioned after years of almost supernatural success. He was in demand from the beginning, even as recessions came and went. He sailed those seas undaunted. That’s how he was able to buy Destiny Chaser in the first place. It was his own private Argo to explore the seas of heroes and legends as a captain of his own fate.

But for the recent mutiny in his life, that is. Heidi had left him. Continue reading

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The Orphan

white BMW

(image: WillVision)

Freddie Redlake fled the north and came south to the city. He had to. It was that or be beaten to death, or be starved for days on end. It was all to teach him a lesson, his foster father said. And there were worse things too that happened that Freddie didn’t like to think about.

He was an orphan. His mother was found out in the snow a long time ago. Seventeen years ago. That’s how old Freddie was when he came to the city. She died. But Freddie didn’t. No one knew who his mother was, although he had the story of how she was found from the people at the hospital. No one knew who his father was, either. He was given the name of the town he was born in, Red Lake. Freddie wasn’t sure who chose his first name. He liked it well enough. But he wanted a real name, not just some made up name. Maybe that’s why Freddie was so angry so much. That and the foster homes, and what happened in them.

One night he ran away. He and a friend Bill hitchhiked down to the city.  They were going to get jobs there. They were going to maybe start a band or something, or get a DJ gig. There were lots of places to do that down south, they’d thought. But nothing really came of it. Bill took up with some girl and they moved to another neighborhood. Freddie partied as much as he could once he got a job in a convenience store that paid in cash. But, he didn’t have the job for long because once he got his money, he partied a little too much. His boss with the funny name, Mr. Klinkenbeard, caught him messing with the till one night. It was a moment of weakness. Mr. Klinkenbeard fired Freddie on the spot and that was that. Pretty soon, he lost his room at the Stanhope Hotel. Then he found The Squat. What choice did he have?

Dr. Ray told him not to go down to The Squat. Dr. Ray had been a professor at the University, Freddie’d heard. Freddie wasn’t sure which one. That was a long time ago when Dr. Ray was young. But Dr. Ray drank a lot, and pretty soon like Freddie he’d been fired, and his money ran out. So did his wife, and she took Dr. Ray’s kids with her and moved out of the province. Dr. Ray told Freddie about his wife and kids directly. He wasn’t sure where she’d gone. Maybe back east somewhere. Dr. Ray wasn’t too sure. His memory wasn’t too good. He has epilepsy too, and sometimes he hears voices. That’s OK. Freddie liked Dr. Ray. Continue reading

Murphy’s Tea Party

child's tea set

I am a FirmCorp model K-12 Humanoid device.

Every kid should have one.

That is my tagline. All K-12 Humanoid devices share this tagline. It was written by the FirmCorp marketing department.

Abagail’s mother and father purchased me at the Plexicorp central retail hub in Seattle on September 20th, 2051. When they had me shipped to their residence on the outskirts of the city for Abagail’s seventh birthday, and my casement was unlocked, I imprinted onto her.

I was given a name.

Murphy.

It could be a girl’s name. It could be a boy’s name.

I am neither.

I am a model K-12 Humanoid device, copyright FirmCorp technologies, 2020-2051, all rights reserved.

I was made on August 24, 2051. My serial number is K-1234594700912A.

I was activated and imprinted on September 23, 2051.

I was called Murphy by my human on that day for the first time.

Continue reading

Wading Pool

I transform myself

There was a time

I could transform myself into anything

I wish I were a fish

And I am

Not so afraid

To not feel the bottom

Floating free down into darkness

Around and around in the green

There is no fear

I put my head under and swim, cool, swishing my newly fashioned fins

I resume my shape and stand, a boy

Looking out to the fearsome lake

The Big Wait

I watch the kid, Dwight Peacock. He hands over the capsules to some lowlife in a jean jacket. Like every single night at this time for the past two weeks, the money changes hands. Peacock laughs, shaking his head like it’s on a spring. The lowlife in the jean jacket beats it, shrinking back into the shadows where he came from. Peacock turns and goes back into inside, stupidly counting his money in a wide fan and held in both hands as if no one’s watching. But, I’m watching. It’s from my second floor window room that looks out onto the expanse of green lawn that was spread out under the cover of night, intermittently interrupted by three cones of light coming from the path lighting spaced out at ten yard intervals.

underwood typewriter

(image: Chaojoker)

The capsules are probably valium and ritalin, taken from the pharmacy or maybe even the tray tables of little old ladies here at the Shady Hills Rest Home For The Elderly in Pasadena; my home. Well, it’s been my home for a year at least. Continue reading

The Soft Place

My father, an English hatmaker in Dublin, died of consumption and my mother and I went into service at Harrow Hall near the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It was the home of landed gentry and the very old Harrow family of English extraction who had established the house in the 1600s. It was a magnificently faded gothic house in the Irish countryside, far away from the view of the surrounding towns. It was said to be haunted, and indeed it was and on many fronts.

mansion in the woods

(image: Angelus YODASON)

First, the Harrow family was steeped in tragedy, with a son lost at sea a number of years before as he was on business, and a daughter who had gone mad as a result, it was said. A younger brother lived there as well, although little was known of him. My mother told me that he was about my age, which was eleven. But, she said, I must never seek him out or speak with him as despite his misfortunes in losing an older brother, he was my better.

And that was another layer of the haunted nature of Harrow Hall. If there were ghosts in that gloomy place, then surely I was to be among them. My duties were to the dusting of the great cabinetry, the polishing of the silverware, the scrubbing of the stone floors, the cleaning of the chandelier in the front hall once Mr. Purves, the butler, had seen to its careful decscent to the marble floors below. I was to be a shadow, a shade, a spectre in that house. For no one there was to converse with the family, least of all Master Harrow, who’s Christian name was Edmund. But, even the utterance of that name was forbidden by the staff. Continue reading

The Boy Who Ran

night in the desert

Mark put the phone down and ran.

He didn’t run out of the front door to his car. He ran out the back, across his small yard and flung himself over the fence. He ran across the muddy field, lit only by moonlight because the sky was clear. His heart beat like a drum, pumping acid and sorrow around and around, into his head and back again. And suddenly, he heard the footfalls of shadowy pursuers behind him.

They couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be true.

Mark ran anyway. He could no longer tell what was real, and what was not. Continue reading

Generation Gap

Raymond rode the moonbeams from the city until he arrived at the abandoned house in rural Upstate New York where Tiberius his Sire and the rest of The Family lived. It was Nightthanks – the most important family gathering on the vampire calendar.

Red Moon

image: Sudhamshu Hebbar

Into the house, then down into the cellar, and through a secret door in the floor. Then, a spiral staircase down into the dark, across an expansive subterranean gallery, and into the shadowless corridors of the Bloodline of Tiberius Aquilus Undermansion into the dining room. There they all waited, Tiberius at the head. Alba Agrippina his First-Bride was on his right, Brother Stephen on the left, and an assortment of cousins lined up on either side of a long, ebony table.

On the table lay three humans, still alive, and each attached to elaborate siphons and tubes that led to each place-setting. It was a sumptuous repast by the standards of most vampires. Continue reading

Dive of Faith

Darius Hansen was allowed into the Daniel S. Gumpter Memorial Community Center in Uptown Oakview at any hour of the day, specifically the swimming pool, and even more specifically, the diving board. He even had his own key.

Darius was the town hopeful, a sure-fire Olympian. And he needed a place to practice his diving. More to the point, it was hoped that Darius’ success would mean the success of the whole town.

pool

image: Jacob Haddon

Once, Oakview  was a middle-class haven that also hosted a strong working class, too. It had once hosted an airplane seat manufacturing plant that employed most of the town; line workers, administrators, and middle managers, too. But, that was a few years ago. Since then,  the plant closed down and relocated to China. If you had a dark sense of humour, you could say the town was grounded.

The only thing left in Oakview was anaemic strip malls, unemployment lines, the crumbling Gateway Bridge over the Spencer River where a guy committed suicide a few years ago, and the desperate search for a way out alive. Continue reading