Dave Melde

Author of science fiction and fantasy.

Author: Dave Melde (Page 1 of 2)

Double Jeopardy


I was in the middle of a dream playing tennis with Anna Kournikova,  when out of the blue Barry ran onto the court and grabbed my balls. I remember they were bright lime green and fuzzy new. Then he ran off the court and yelled over his shoulder “Follow me!”

I started running after him when I should have stayed with Anna, but I was dreaming and people do stupid stuff in their dreams, myself included.

I turned my head to tell Anna that I’d be back when I saw two black suits running after me as  I was running after Barry. The whole scene struck me as being cartoonish, but then, a lot of things do. The men looked just like the FBI suits that ran me down under a heavy rain in Lafayette, but that was in a different dream with a different woman, and just like that I knew I was dreaming.

Normally when I wake up in a dream I start to fly, or I find the nearest topless bar, or I start winning at tennis, but this time I decided to see where we were going so I picked up my pace to catch up to Barry.

“Mind if I ask where we’re going? I said.

“We’re in jeopardy!” he yelled out, looking around wild-eyed. He was clutching my balls like there was no tomorrow.

“What’s the answer?” I asked him, because if this was jeopardy, everybody needed to know the answer. Otherwise, how could you guess the correct question?

“You haven’t picked a category yet!” he yelled over at me.

“I’ll take the FBI for $2,000, Barry.” I said.

“Double jeopardy!” he yelled.

Now I was confused.

“What do you mean? This is a double jeopardy question? Or is double jeopardy the answer?” I said.

“It’s the answer! Hurry up, they’re gaining!” he yelled.

I looked back and sure enough, the suits were getting closer. I started to think about the question and what double jeopardy was the answer to, when it suddenly hit me.

“Does this have anything to do with Lafayette?” I said.

“I’m sorry, no help from the judges.” Barry said.

I stopped running. Lafayette was either the question to the answer, or I was leaving this scene to go find a bar. When I stopped Barry stopped running too. The suits soon caught up to us.

“You’re being arrested for fraud.” one of the suits said.

“You can’t arrest me.” I said. “That would be double jeopardy.”

“How do you figure that?” the suit said.

“Because you already arrested me for fraud in Lafayette. That makes this double jeopardy. Do you remember Lafayette?” I said.

I heard Barry let out a sigh of relief.

“That is the correct question.” Barry said.

“Congratulations, you win $2,000 .” The FBI suits said. Then they disappeared.

People come and go so quickly in dreams,  just like in Oz.

“C’mon Barry.” I said. “Let’s go back and find Anna and we’ll all go to the casino in Emerald City. I have two grand.”

“I like your balls.” He said. “Can I keep them?”

“In your dreams Barry.”

~ DMelde

The Truck

Summer on the river in La Crosse, Wisconsin. On the weekends we loaded the boat with a barrel of beer and 20 lbs of ice, and headed out to the sandbar. We loved being on the river and there was nothing better than a cold beer on a warm sunny afternoon. Boaters drifted by going from sandbar to sandbar. We played Frisbee in the water. At night, we sang and danced in the sand.

Summer came to an end when Fall arrived and the weather turned brisk. Trips to our sandbar became fewer and farther in between. We moved driftwood up onto the banks so it would dry for next year’s bonfires, and we picked up trash so we could make fresh footprints in the sand when Summer returned. It was on one of these crisp fall days that I got a call from Bill.


“Hilldog! What are you doing?” Bill said.

“Nothing much, what’s up?”

“I’m going to pick up a load of firewood. Do you want to go with me?”

Bill laughed when he said this. It was a peculiar laugh, one I hadn’t heard from him since late last Spring when I helped him move a fridge. His laugh now, as it did then, had a tinge of the maniacal to it.

“I suppose I could. When are you going?” I said.

“I’m leaving now. Come on over.”

I drove to the city’s edge and crossed the bridge into Minnesota. In twenty minutes I was at Bill’s house in Dresbach, where the train tracks ran through Bill’s back yard. Bill’s ancient green truck sat in the street in front of his house. This surprised me because I had watched the truck die late last Spring on our trip over to the dump to deposit Bill’s fridge. Its engine mounts had rusted through and the engine had fallen forward, coming to a rest against the truck’s radiator. The truck was more rust than metal. It had died at the dump. It should have been buried there.

“Bill, why is your truck still here?”

Bill laughed and his eyes had a bit of crazy.

“That’s my truck.”

“I know it’s your truck, but what is it doing here? I watched it die last Spring. Don’t tell me the thing still runs.”

“I know a guy who’s a mechanic. He fixed it.”

“You put new engine mounts in? Why? The truck’s not worth it.”

“Not exactly.” Bill said.

He popped open the hood and showed me his new engine mounts. The engine was now held up, off of the ground, by nothing but a logging chain.

“That’s a chain.” I said. I didn’t know what else to say.

“It works good. C’mon, let’s go.”

Bill slammed down the hood and little pieces of rust fell from it. He laughed as I tried to open the passenger door.

“The door’s broke. It kept falling off of the truck so I had my guy fix it. He welded it shut. You’ll have to get in through my door.” Bill said.

I walked around to his side of the truck, crawled in, and scooched my way over to the passenger side. It was uncomfortable because I had to straddle a gas can between my legs. The gas can, unlike the truck, was shiny red new.

“Bill, can we put this gas can in the back?”

Bill laughed some more.

“No, the gas tank rusted through. The gas can is my gas tank. My guy fixed it. See?”

I looked closer at the can and I saw a white, semi-transparent, plastic hose coming out of the top of the gas can. The hose went down through a hole in the bottom of the truck to where, I can only assume, it hooked up directly into the fuel pump.

Actually, most of the bottom of the truck was a hole. I could see a wide swath of pavement underneath us through the rust. The gas can/tank was strapped to the seat, otherwise it would have fallen through the hole. And that made me wonder, if the gas can is being held up by the seat, then what’s holding the seat up? Bill saw the look on my face and he laughed again.

“We’ll have to stop halfway there and fill the tank up. It’s only a two gallon can.” He said.

The ride from Bill’s house to the halfway point was mostly uneventful, considering our top speed was 50 mph and the truck constantly weaved back and forth across the road like a drunk. We stopped and got our gas. Bill had to fill it up through the passenger window. It would have been a funny scene except for the fact that I knew I would soon be straddling the gas bomb once again. We drew a few looks from other motorists because this isn’t  how you would usually fill up a truck, but we were in Minnesota nice country and so nobody said anything. Bill had a smaller gas can in the back of the truck that he also filled. He assured me it would give us enough gas to get back to the halfway point.

After the midway point the highway to our destination went up and down through the hills and coulees of southeast Minnesota. We drove down a long gravel road to a lumber yard set off in the woods where they milled dried pine into two-by-fours. Some of their millings weren’t fit to be sold as building material. These rejects were cut up and offered for sale to the public as firewood. We loaded up the truck, cherry-picking the better pieces, and filled up the gas can/tank for the ride back.

Filled with the heavy load, the truck weaved back and forth even worse than before. Our top speed dropped to 40 mph and a parade of cars passed us in the hills. Bill was busy keeping the truck on the road, laughing into the wind as he drove. I watched the road zip by through the hole in the truck’s floor. It was mesmerizing to see the pavement move so rapidly underneath. By the time we arrived back at the halfway point it was getting dark outside.

We again filled up the gas can/tank through the passenger window. We didn’t draw as many stares to ourselves under the cover of night. Then I saw the right rear tire was flat. It was deflated all the way to the ground and I swear it looked like it was attempting to dig a hole. I thought of the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. If we had left that one last piece of wood back at the mill then maybe we wouldn’t have broken the tire.

“Bill, the tire’s flat.”

Bill wasn’t laughing anymore. “Yeah, I can see that.”

“I don’t suppose you have a spare?”

Bill’s face brightened. “Actually I do!”

“Where is it?”

“Under the wood! But I don’t know if it has any air in it.”

I slowly grasped the situation.

“And your tire jack?”

“Under the wood too. But I don’t know if that works either.”

“So, our choices are to unload all of this wood to get to the tire and the jack, which may or may not work, or call a garage for a tow?”

“On a Saturday night in Hokah? There’s only one garage in town and their mechanic won’t be working this late.”

“So, no tow. Okay, now what?”

“What we could do,” Bill said, “is drive the truck over to the side of the road, park it for the night, and I can call somebody in the morning to come over and get it.”

“Sounds good. I vote for your idea.”

“I’ll call Ken for a ride home.” Bill said.

As Bill moved the truck I gazed across the road at a beacon of neon lights. Sitting a short distance from us was the Horseshoe Bar. Its door was open and I could hear the music playing on the jute box. Bill rejoined me.

“Can he pick us up?” I said.

“Yeah, c’mon, I’m thirsty. He’ll meet us at the Horseshoe.”

We walked over and ordered a beer. I looked through the bar’s window back at the truck,  wondering if it had finally seen its last day. Would I ever see it again? Knowing Bill, I figured I probably would.






The Fridge

This is a true story. Bill’s name has not been changed to protect the guilty.


In my dream I was playing tennis against the Williams sisters and the score was tied at love-all. Then my phone woke me up.

“Somebody better be dead.” I said.

And by somebody I meant a close family member, like Grandma. I didn’t really mean it, of course, but who calls someone early on a Saturday morning unless it’s really, really important? I grabbed my phone.


“Hilldog! What are you doing?” Bill said.

“Sleeping. What time is it?”

“Ten-thirty. Time to start drinking. Can you come over and help me move a fridge?”

“Sure. When?”

“Can you come over now?”

Bill laughed and I thought I heard a touch of crazy in his laugh, but that may have only been my brain still half-asleep. My head sank lower into my pillow as I tried to conjure up the Williams sisters but the dream was lost.

“Okay, I’ll be over in a few.”

I blamed my parents for teaching me to do what’s right, and then I headed out the door to go help a friend. It was a cool, spring day with a brisk wind that crawled up my spine. The snow was melted in the sunny spots, but there was still plenty of white lurking in the shadows.

Settling into my Bonneville convertible, I drove to the end of the city and I crossed the Mississippi River Bridge, leaving Wisconsin for Minnesota. I was at Bill’s house twenty minutes later around eleven.

With Bill, the world works a little different. For instance, you can’t use the front door when you visit Bill. It’s locked up tight. I walked down the side hill past his old truck half-buried in a snow bank and I went in through the back door.

His house was a ranch style with a daylight basement that overlooked the Mississippi River. The view was spectacular. It sat twenty-five feet from the railroad tracks and it shook when trains came speeding by, which, at peak times, was every twenty minutes. Bill claimed you got used to it, but I never did.

“Bill! So where’s the fridge?”

I didn’t hear what he said in reply because right then a train came roaring by. He led me to the back of the basement and there sat an ugly old brown refrigerator.  I pushed against the side of it to test its weight and it didn’t move. I pushed harder and it still wouldn’t move. Bill laughed and his laugh had that crazy edge to it that I’d heard before. Maybe earlier wasn’t a dream. I thought.

“It’s pretty heavy.” Bill said.

“Heavy? This thing is a monster. What’s in it?”

“Nothing. It’s got a heater in the bottom. That’s what gives it its weight.”

“You have a heater in your fridge?”

“Yeah, it’s a propane fridge.”


“It runs on propane, not electricity. Look. A little fire in the bottom heats up the ammonia and that cools down the food.”

“So it’s a furnace fridge.”

“You want to buy it?”

“No I don’t want to buy it. How are we going to get it out of here?”

“I’ve got this rug. Let’s try and get the fridge onto it and then we’ll drag it.”

We walked the fridge, tilting it one way and then the other, until it was in place over the rug. Bill grabbed one side of the rug and I grabbed the other and we pulled as hard as we could. The fridge slid forward pretty easy over the linoleum floor until we got to the back door.

The back door had a two-inch lip on the bottom to make it harder for rain, and little things that hop, dart, and slither, to enter the house. There was no way we were going to be able to slide the furnace fridge up over that lip. We had no choice so Bill and I got behind the fridge and we pushed it through the door. It landed with a thud on its side and we pushed it the rest of the way outside.

“Now what?” I said.

“We have to put it in the back of the truck.”

Bill laughed again, a little more crazy this time.

“What truck?”

All I saw was a relic from World War II sitting on the side of the house, half-buried in a snow bank.

“Right over there.” Bill said.

He pointed to the relic and laughed full-bore crazy.

“You can’t be serious. It’s buried in the snow! I’ll bet it won’t even start. When was the last time you started it?”

“Oh, it’ll start. Here.”

Bill handed me a push broom.

“I’ll start it and you sweep the snow out.”

To the old truck’s credit, it started on the third try. I stepped back as Bill began rocking the truck backward and forward to dislodge it from the snow bank. With a lurch it came free and Bill backed it up to the fridge.

“Now all we have to do is pick it up and put it in the back.” Bill said.

He said it with another laugh that took crazy to a whole new level.  I mentally categorized it as maniacal. We pushed, pulled, shoved, swore, and wrestled the fridge into the back of the old pickup truck.

It was a green, 1947 International Harvester with some body rust, but it barely squatted down under the heavy weight of the refrigerator.  Impressed, I pulled on the passenger side door but it wouldn’t open.

“Bill, unlock it.”

“It’s not locked. Pull harder.”

I pulled harder and it jerked free. Climbing in, I could see snow on the ground through rust holes in the floor, but that wasn’t my biggest problem because now the door wouldn’t close.

“You gotta slam it really hard.” Bill said.

I slammed the door really hard but it just popped free. Bill got out of the truck and walked over to my side. Like a pitcher throwing a baseball, Bill got into his wind-up stance and, lifting one foot off of the ground, he slammed the truck door shut. A little bit of the floor, (which I suspected was mostly made out of rust), fell off to the ground.

“Where are we going?” I said.

“We’re taking it to the dump.”

“Wait, didn’t you just try and sell it to me?”

We drove down the highway at the top speed of 45 miles per hour. Bill tried to go faster but the back and forth sway of the truck across the highway was too great, so we decided to go slow and stay on our half of the highway. Long, maniacal laughs kept escaping from Bill as he struggled to keep the truck under control. Thirty minutes later we arrived at our destination, the county dump, but it was in the next county over where it was, technically, illegal for Bill to dump, but I was long past caring.

“Just don’t tell them where I live.” Bill said.

We drove across compressed garbage on a makeshift road to a tin-walled shack where we stopped. A man in a puffy, orange down vest came out to greet us. He was rail thin and his skin was yellow. Parts of his hands were dark yellow, almost the color of his vest. He looked at me and I looked into his eyes. They were yellow too.

“Good morning sir. We have a fridge to drop off. Where do you want us to put it?” Bill said.

The man looked Bill up and down without speaking. I got a better look at the guy and I could see the knots of muscles hidden under his clothes and I realized he wasn’t thin but lean.  Strong and lean, the man certainly had some kind of skin disease, but it occurred to me that he could lift the fridge out of the truck all by himself if he wanted to. He looked away from Bill and he surveyed the junkyard, looking for the perfect place to put the fridge. What he was looking for was invisible to me, because all I saw was a vast wasteland.

“Put it over there.” The man said.

We drove over to where he pointed, a place that defied rhyme or reason, and shoved the fridge out, making sure we left it standing upright, nice and tidy, for the man in the shack. We both jumped back in the truck, glad to be done. Bill turned the key to start the truck and nothing happened. He turned the key again without success.

“It must be the battery.” I said.

We got out and popped the hood. Bill started pulling on wires and other stuff, trying to get a better battery connection. While he did that, I had a chance to look around the dump and experience it more fully. The dump had a putrid smell, a permeating rancor that no amount of brisk wind on a cool spring day could ever wash away. I glanced over at the shack and saw the man watching us through its dirty window.

“Bill, the guy is watching us.”

“I don’t know why it won’t start.” Bill said.

He climbed into the truck and tried starting it again. That’s when I saw the problem.

“Bill, the fan blade is stuck.”

“Can’t you free it?”

“I don’t think so. You’d better come look.”

Bill came and looked, and I pointed at the fan blade resting down against the radiator. We looked underneath the truck. The engine mounts had rusted through and the only thing holding the engine from falling to the ground was the fan blade. It was as if the truck had suddenly realized that it was home and was determined to never leave. Swear words were exchanged as we realized we weren’t going to be leaving the dump anytime soon. I glanced over at the tin shack. Its door was opening.

“He’s coming out.” I said.

The man joined us at the truck.

“The engine mounts broke. Is it okay if we leave the truck here and I’ll come get it tomorrow?” Bill said.

Bill made grand gestures as he showed the man the fan blade. The man thought for a moment and then nodded his head yes. We called a friend of ours, (whose parents also taught him to do what’s right), for a ride. Then we sat in the truck, surrounded by the surreal landscape of the dump, and we waited for our ride home.



Terror à la King

This appetizer is my flash fiction response to the writing exercise in Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Thank you Mr. King, for scaring the hell out of me over all of these years. Someday, perhaps, I will be in a position to return the favor (cue evil laugh- Bwaahahaha).


Dick entered his new house, or at least it was new to him. It was a ninety-year-old Craftsman that smelled of old wax from the scuffed hardwood floors and soot from the old fireplace. It was also the nicest house he could afford after his recent divorce and it offered plenty of room for his son Michael and himself. There was another scent in the air too. Dick couldn’t quite place the familiar smell. A spice? Dick thought. Probably the ghost of a meal coming from the kitchen. He walked across the living room to the corner where he slumped into the torn high-backed chair.

He felt ill at ease as he thought back on the divorce and a shudder went through him. He was fine an hour ago when he had dropped off Michael at a friend’s birthday party. The look of joy on Michael’s face had helped Dick feel good about life once again. Now he had butterflies in the pit of his stomach. He picked up a dog-eared copy of a Stephen King novel but he was too nervous to read. What he needed was something to help veg him out, so he turned on the television. The local news filled the room-

“We have an update on our breaking news. The guard in today’s prison escape has died. Their name is being withheld pending notification of family. To recap, three prisoners escaped today from the Chamber’s prison facility, with one of the three prisoners still at large. One of the two guards injured in the breakout has died. The other guard was treated for minor injuries and released. Please stay tuned for further updates.”

The news anchor sat ramrod straight and spoke in a somber voice, but her eyes danced with excitement. Today had more news than what normally happened in a whole month. Dick fiddled with the remote control, turning it over and over in his hands. His right heel tapped up and down, sending his leg into a jig. The rest of him sat in a numb stupor and watched the screen flicker.

A sudden noise came from upstairs. It sounded like a door closing. His right leg stopped dancing as  he turned the television sound to mute. He listened. He heard the Click-Clack of high heels in the hallway upstairs. A wave of nausea overwhelmed him as he added the unknown smell to the sound of high heels. It was his ex-wife’s perfume he had smelled earlier. He suddenly knew who the third escaped prisoner was. Only Jane could have figured out how to have both her perfume and high heels while in prison.

There was the Click of her high heel on the top step of the staircase. Jane took her time in descending. It was torture to Dick and she loved it.

This was followed by a Clack from her other high heel on the next step. With quick breaths he remembered her arrest. She had staged an argument with him in front of their son Michael in order to use Michael to hurt him. When Dick had dared to fight back her temper flared, and she threw Michael hard against the window. This triggered an explosion of glass. Dick then grabbed his bleeding son and ran next door for help.

Click, another step closer- The assault of Michael was the last straw and, after years of trying, Dick filed for divorce. He wanted a civil divorce but she wanted control. Jane emotionally blackmailed her own son. She told Michael she would kill herself if he ever left her. Dick held back tears as Michael testified against him in court. Even though Jane went to prison for her attack of Michael, the judge still gave Dick only temporary custody. “We all say and do things we later regret.” the judge had said. When she got out of prison Jane would have joint custody.

There was a pause filled by silence, broken only by Dick’s stifled cry. A rapid fire Click-Clack-Click-Clack echoed as Jane bounded down the rest of the stairs. She entered the room with a smirk on her face, but her eyes held more hate than Dick had ever seen before. He felt cold when he saw her, although beads of sweat stood on his brow.

“Dick, honey,” Jane said. “It’s good to see you again.”

“The prison guard died, Jane. What have you done?”

“Me? I just wanted to see my son and the guard wouldn’t let me. He had a gun, so I took it. Do you want to see it?”

She drew the gun from her waistband. Dick froze in place like a hare under the spell of a snake.

“Are you going to piss yourself?” Jane laughed.

A tear rolled down Dick’s face. He thought of Michael and how he’d never see him again. He felt guilty for putting his son through so much and he regretted it. Jane was insane. He had been the fool for not doing something earlier when he had the chance.

“Where’s Michael? My son.” Jane said.

“I’m not telling you. Go ahead and do what you came here to do.”

“Honey, what do you think I came here to do?”

She mocked him with her smile. Then she grew tired of playing with him.

“No, I’m not going to kill you Dick. I can’t hurt you physically anymore, not like before. You’re grown stronger, we both know that. Where’s Michael, sweetheart? Tell me where he’s at.”

He realized what her plan was and the look on his face pleased her. Her eyes danced with delight.

“You bitch! You can’t hurt our son to get back at me! He’s innocent!”

Her eyes turned into anger.

“Innocent? You turned my son against me! Every time I tried to teach him you protected him! I didn’t want him growing up to be like his father, a weak, sniveling little man! Besides, he’s not the innocent boy you like to think he is. Don’t you remember the trial and what he said about you?”

“I remember what you made him say.” Dick said.

“He lied! Doesn’t that offend you? He needs to be taught a lesson about lying.”

Dick heard a car door slam outside. His stomach sank. It had to be Mrs. Smith dropping off Michael. He saw the door knob turn, and then the door opened.

“Hi daddy, I’m home!”

Jane mouthed Aha! She turned to the door with a gleam in her eyes. Dick saw his chance. He sprung from his chair and bull rushed Jane. Surprised, she shoved the gun into his belly and pulled the trigger. Dick was pushed back by the punch of the bullet. Then he bull rushed her again and wrestled her for the gun. Michael bawled in terror at the scene and he pressed his back against the hallway wall. Jane began screaming in rage as Dick slowly turned the gun towards her.

“You’re right Jane, honey, I won’t let you hurt me anymore.”

He cast a guilty look at Michael.

“He deserves better than us.” Dick said.

He pulled back on the trigger and Jane’s blood and brains splattered the old room.

Dick staggered as he turned towards Michael and then collapsed to his knees. His shirt was soaked with his own blood, and splatters of Jane covered his face. He motioned Michael forward and embraced him one last time. Then he sat back on his heels.

In between coughing fits he said- “Listen to me Michael. I want you to go live with aunt Peggy… Be good for her… Everything that’s happened is not your fault… It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I did this… I should have been better and I’m sorry.”

He patted his son’s head.

“I love you son.”

Dick fell the rest of the way to the floor where he died.


Michael looked around the room with sad doubt in his eyes. He hesitated, then he walked over to the front door and closed it. He went back to the hallway where he sat down. His empty voice rose as he started to sing Happy Birthday.









The young girl closed her eyes, relishing the book she was reading. It was quite the adventure, and at times it made her breath come out in short gasps of excitement. She closed the book, put it on her bed’s nightstand, and she walked out into the upstairs hallway of her family’s farmhouse.

Her bedroom was at one end of the hallway, and at the other end there stood a small door, shiny and new, barely four feet tall and arched at the top. Her father had made the door from milled boards after their house had caught on fire. The fire had burnt down half of their farmhouse and, with the help of a wrinkled, silver-haired handyman, her father had rebuilt the lost half.

The shiny door was the new access door to the attic above the new kitchen. It beckoned to her as she stared at it. “Don’t ever go in there,” her father had warned her after the house was rebuilt, “or you’ll fall through.” She knew what her father meant. She’d fall through to the kitchen below, but, with the help of her books, she couldn’t help wondering to herself if there were other places she might fall through to? Her books did that to her. They gave her all kinds of new ideas and things to think about.

When she wasn’t reading her books she was outside exploring the world. It was summer and her freckles grew larger and larger with the passing of each playful, sunny day.

On those long lazy days, she walked among the butterflies in flowering fields. She caught grasshoppers in the tall grass. She found lost cats in the hay barn, and she visited the family’s cows in their pasture.

On windy days, when the butterflies would stay home, she chased after rabbits in the light wood. She didn’t care if she ever caught one. For her, that wasn’t really the point of the chase.

On hot days she went down into the coolness of the dark wood. It was farther from home, but there was a pond there, hidden from sight. She sat beside the pond and watched as clouds, reflected in the pond’s water, passed overhead in the deep blue sky. It was her own personal cathedral and for her each day was filled with wonder.

On rainy days she was bored. She could read her books for only so long before the longing to move would fill her. She would look at her dad in the most bored way she could, with her head tilted towards one side and her shoulders slumped almost to the ground. He’d make a bored face right back at her and start to twiddle his thumbs.

“You can always do this.” he would tell her.

“What? Twiddle my thumbs? That’s so dumb!” she’d reply with a laugh as she raced out of the door to the barn, to look for any cats that may have disappeared.

In the stillness of the night she read her adventure books while curled up in bed. The only sounds in her bedroom were the chirps of the crickets outside, and the bumping of the moths against the window screen as they tried to get inside to reach the lamp light on the table beside her bed.

She was a curious child, and it took her almost two weeks of standing in the hallway outside of her bedroom, staring at the new door, before she decided to walk to the end of the hallway and enter the attic. “You’ll fall through.” The words echoed in her mind as she remembered her father’s warning. She felt just like she did when she read her adventure books, with little gasps of excitement.

With a tremble she opened the arched door and she stepped inside. The light was dim but as her eyes adjusted she saw a narrow wooden plank about five feet long going out into the attic. She walked slowly along the narrow plank until she reached its end, and once there, she sat down.

The air was cool in the early day, and she could see specks of dust carried in the air as it raced up one side of the attic, where it tumbled at the peak, before it raced down and out the other side. Below her, between the attic’s rafters, was a sea of gray, fluffy insulation filled with sparkles of pink and blue. The smell of the freshly cut wooden rafters hung lightly in the air.

“It’s like the pond,” she thought, “with the trees above and the sparkling water below.”

The thought occurred to her that there was enough room for a tea party. This made her smile as she sat planning her party. She looked at where her guests would sit on her next visit.

Then, in due time, a commotion started pushing at the stillness inside of her. She grew restless with thoughts of butterflies, grasshoppers, and rabbits. Her commotion turned to excitement. Standing up, she left the attic, closing the small door softly behind her.

She went downstairs to the kitchen where her mom was baking. She ran up to her mom and she gave her a big surprise hug. Smiling up at her mom, who in turn smiled down, young Alice turned and went outside to play.







Rosie and Josie

Rosie and Josie were twins who lived next door to each other in the very small town of Snowflake, Alaska. They loved living in Snowflake where it gently snowed all year long, and they loved being with one another.

Snowflake was very far north, and at night, if it were a silent night, the sisters saw far off in the distance the soft, white glow from the workshops at the North Pole. There were rumors whispered in town about what went on so far north with Santa and his elves. The twins approved of it all, because they loved Christmas and the celebration of family that Christmas represents. Well, they approved of most of it, but there was one dark rumor they didn’t approve of at all.

That rumor was about the Blue Elves. It was whispered they were bigger than the average elf, and very strict about the rules of Christmas. The townsfolk called them the Enforcers who traveled far and wide enforcing the rules of Christmas, namely –No decorating before Thanksgiving, and –Absolutely no Bah Humbug.

This worried Rosie and Josie because they always decorated their snowy yards well before Thanksgiving. It always looked so pretty that they couldn’t help themselves. So they devised a plan.

They dug a snow cave into the fourteen-foot-high snow drift in the gully behind their homes. To light their cave, they strung Christmas lights inside of it that sparkled off of the snow like ten thousand twinkling lights.

Their plan was, at the first sign of a Blue Elf, to hide in their cave until the trouble went away, but they liked their snow cave so much that they brought into it their lawn chairs, where they would sit with blankets wrapped around them, and sip their tea. It was like living in a snow globe, and they were very happy.

They quit worrying about the Blue Elves, and if the Blue Elves found them, they decided they would take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year.





The Mirror of Time

timeDuring the Focus, All-Thought observed a pinprick in the fabric of everything, a window through which it glimpsed a place of only three dimensions; up and down, back and forth, and side to side. All-Thought agreed, ‘this realm of few dimensions is worthy of ponder’, so All-Thought shed its higher dimensions and traveled through the pinprick, and fell to Earth.

All-Thought struggled to understand this world, where volcanoes poisoned the air and meteors caused great destruction. Without its higher dimensions it couldn’t see forward while looking back, nor could it be where it once was, or be where it would be. It sensed a power it hadn’t sensed before, one that stood aloof and alone. All-Thought called the power Time, and although Time caused it no harm, it trapped All-Thought in the here and now. Slowly, All-Thought lost its focus to be, and it became three separate Thoughts.

One Thought kept a strong memory of the higher dimensions, much stronger than the other two. It became their leader and the other two Thoughts called him Father. Father named the second Thought Son, and the last Thought, having lost all memory, became a shadow of Thought, a mere ghost. Father and Son called it Spirit. Together they planted a seed on Earth, and from this seed grew life.

Life grew slowly at first, until an explosion of life occurred that, like a blanket, it covered the surface of the Earth. Father, Son, and Spirit watched as life changed the Earth. Life, with its ebbs and flows, fascinated Three Thoughts, because in the higher dimensions (that which they remembered) there was never any change. Everything just was, without a beginning, middle, or end –without life or death. Three Thoughts helped their seed survive change and flourish (and life noticed the help) until, eventually, life grew strong and Time grew useless to life. Life no longer cared about change. It simply was. It was the end of death and Time lost its power over life. Only one death then remained -the death of Time.

When Time died, the pinprick, along with the world of three dimensions, closed. Father, Son, and Spirit, released from Time, journeyed back to the Focus where they became All-Thought once again. It joined together in the higher dimensions, but it never forgot its journey –or its seed. Nor did life forget Three Thoughts, as life felt a loss without ever knowing why.

Then or now, or sometime soon, there came a new Time when All-Thought once again observed a pinprick in the fabric of everything, and through the window it fell to Earth. All-Thought became Three –Father, Son, and Spirit.  Time was now, and with a joy that can only be felt through Time, they reunited with their beloved seed. They cherished their blanket of life, and life, sensing it, felt a renewed happiness.

And Time, whose power can never really die, saw everything that was made, and behold, it was good.

Stabbing Sammy

surreal-eyes“Cold and clammy was how Sammy loved his women.

Every October, Sammy carved pumpkins. Some of his creations smiled garishly, while others had faces caught in silent screams. He’d dress up as a clown, or as the grim reaper, and go door-to-door selling his creations.

He was always on the lookout for a pretty girl to become his next Halloween date. Sammy had standards. The girl had to be pretty and a little rebellious, someone the police would suspect as being a runaway after she was gone.

The setting was important too. It had to be quiet and secluded, but above all, it had to be romantic. Sammy was a romantic at heart. He loved women to death. For the past twenty years Sammy had chosen his dates and taken them to a romantic place, and once there, he would begin to caringly carve.”

Augury Presage stopped typing and leaned back in his chair. He hated writing stories like this, but his publishers demanded it. All they ever wanted were stories of serial killers and monsters hiding underneath beds. He felt tempted to call his agent again, but he knew what she would say. “Just give them what they want, Augury. Don’t make a fuss. It will only end badly.”

The last time he had seen her she looked haggard and run down. She had lost a lot of weight and her skin hanged from her bones on her petite frame. Her eyes had sunk deep into her skull surrounded by dark circles that no amount of makeup could hide. It wasn’t always so. Augury remembered how beautiful and full of life she once was, and how the change had begun shortly after his new publishers had taken control. Augury had never even met them.

It was late at night and time for bed. The rest of Sammy’s story could wait until morning. As was his usual custom, Augury leaned forward and typed his safeword into the story before going to bed- Coccyx

It sounded dirty to Augury, like someone was trying to say cock-sex too quickly and the words got jumbled together. He nodded his head in tired resignation, stood, and went to bed.

The following morning a knock at his front door woke him up. It was early and, bleary-eyed, he went downstairs and opened his door.

“Good morning neighbor. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Sammy.” the man on his stoop said.

Sammy pointed to his white van parked on the street. It had a large, orange pumpkin with a toothy smile painted on its side.

“I do carvings at Halloween for the little boys and girls. I’m only in town for the next few days. Can you tell me, are there very many children in this neighborhood?” Sammy asked.

A chill woke Augury up as it traveled down his spine. He didn’t believe it was a coincidence.

“Where are you from, Sammy?” Augury asked.

“No place in particular, mister. I travel around a lot.”

“And date only once a year.” Augury thought. Still, he had to be sure, so he used his safeword.

“Coccyx.” Augury said.

Sammy smiled and blushed, and looked away to the ground, as if he had just heard a dirty joke. Augury looked down too and tried to remember the last time someone had smiled like that. “Was it three years ago?” he thought. Coccyx always made them smile. It had been this way since the new publishers had arrived. Augury might not be the best writer around, but since they had arrived he did have a newfound gift for bringing his characters to life.

He sighed and looked at Sammy with a sympathetic smile.

“Yes,” Augury said, “there are lots of children around here. I even have a map of the neighborhood in my shed out back. Would you like to see it?” Augury winked at Sammy. “It even shows where the rebellious ones live.”

Sammy’s eye lit up when he heard this. Eagerly, he followed Augury around to the back of the house. Inside the shed, Augury’s tools were at the ready. He picked up his ax, the one he had used some three years ago.

His publishers would be upset with him, and his agent would look more haggard than usual, but Augury Presage knew deep in his heart that it was time to kill his story.









Every day of the week I do things twice.
Every day of the week I do things twice.
But Sundays are different.
On Sundays, I only do things once.


skull-and-crossbones-794825_960_720Kelpie lounged in his deck chair on the Lanai sipping his chilled mint tea. His long face and thick black mane of shoulder-length hair gave him the semblance of a wild stallion resting languidly before the race.

Below him, palm trees dotted the golden sand beach for miles along the shoreline. Their emerald green fronds swayed gently in the breeze of the early morning trade winds. He gazed out at the cerulean blue sea where his keen eye saw the body of a man floating face down a hundred yards out from shore. The man was bloated, and alabaster white, from spending so much time in the water.

“Another day in paradise.” Kelpie thought.

With a smile, he rose and went inside to change from his crushed velvet robe into a hand-tailored Caraceni suit for the day. The suit was expensive, but merchants of death payed him obscene sums of money for his unique services, and they had made him very wealthy.

He moved from room to room, past rare art, walking over hand-made silk rugs. He strolled through the two-story library before going upstairs to his personal chambers.

Heavy tapestries depicting ancient sea battles hung on the walls of his anteroom. His horseshoes lay on an ivory table, inlaid with silver filigree that spiraled down its polished ebony legs. Kelpie walked into his bedroom where he paused. He sensed a weaker presence nearby.

He walked over to the closed and opened the door. Inside stood a dirty-boned skeleton of a man long since dead. The skeleton stood motionless, gazing down at the red stone floor through empty, eyeless sockets.

“Howell Greaves.” Kelpie said.

Howell Greaves shivered with fear from the malice in Kelpie’s voice. He shifted the bones of his feet farther apart to keep his knees from knocking together.

“What are you doing in my closet?” Kelpie asked.

Kelpie’s eyes glowed deep red in the dim light of the bedroom, like coals that burned unquenched. His voice was laced with cruelty, and the grim smile on his lips showed no warmth towards his visitor.

“Mercy my lord!” pleaded Howell Greaves.

The skeleton spoke with the thick accent of a Sloop pirate. He had died in the dark waters of the Atlantic, falling in battle with his ship to the ocean’s bottom. A century later, his bones were lifted up into the servitude of the Kelpie. He toiled, killing again and again, enforcing the will of his master. The bones of his hands were stained blood-red.

“I grow weary from the slaughter, my lord, and I’ve come to ask for my release. I come to ask for death.” Howell Greaves said.

With the mischievous intelligence of his kind, Kelpie contemplated the request. His eyes burned a deeper red from which the skeleton retreated in fear.

“What need have I of you, Howell Greaves? The modern world deals death so willingly. So many ways to kill. So many ways to die. Your request is granted, but if ever the need arises for your services then so shall you, to do my bidding and kill for me once again.”

Howell Greaves bowed his skull in acceptance. Kelpie laughed and the skeleton collapsed onto the red stone floor where its bones crumbled into dust. A strong wind blew into the chamber and carried the  dust out to sea, where Howell Greaves joined the blissful sleep of the dead.

Happy Halloween!



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