Tag Archives: Creative Work

Extra Short Story: Over there; there.

When you live in the shadow of the tallest trees for hundreds of miles, your lives become something of a sideshow these days.

“What’s it like seeing real live trees all day?”

“Is that your tree house?  Can I climb up there?”

“Are you a Druid?  Are you related to one of them? “

“Is it true you dance naked among the trees to celebrate the seasons?”

Day-in, day-out people come to gawk at the century trees and wonder aloud about how they got so big when the rest of the trees have been left stunted brush by comparison.

Calling them Century Trees at all is a bit of a stretch too; as the druids seem to be able to grow massive 200 foot tall apple trees in what seems like less than a decade.  Green thumbs, toes and everything in-between it seems when it comes to the Tree-Folk, which is what they call themselves.  They live around the trees, sometimes in tree houses up in the canopy, sometimes in the trunks but mostly in little adobe huts on the south faces of the trees, attached to the outside of the trunk and slowly rising up, up up as the tree does.

The tourists come into town (Gramercy, thank-you very much, not Apple-Town)  and gawk at the trees to the west and marvel at the nearly constant humidity and the way that the rain has become so predictable in the shadows of the Grove.  They come, stop a while in town, spend a night or two in the hotels or camp in the north wood near the river and then leave; back to normal forests and unpredictable rain; back out over there.

Gramercy was here before the Grove and before the Tree Folk moved in.   We got by as a highway/biway a food stop with curios for people on long road trips going from important place to important place.  It was flat and dry and future-less here.  A town populated by people perpetually leaving or settling in to die.  We had one public school servicing Kindergarten through Grade 12 and then the kids would leave for college and leave the town a little more quiet than it had been.  The closest thing to modernization that the town council had ever implemented was a municipal sewer system to bring indoor plumbing to the sleepy village of 110.

When the first Tree Folk arrived about 40 years back; they were just passing through like anyone else.  The Sheriff at the time thought they were hippies or something and hassled them out of town; but some lingered and bought up the dusty scrub land west of town with what seemed like an endless supply of cash.  This pleased the town council at the time; because the land had been “town land” for as long as anyone could remember and it was good for nothing but rabbit hunting and atv rides in the dust.  The Tree Folk set about building their grove as soon as the ink was dry on the deal and within 20 years something like 30 Century Trees stood west of Gramercy and even in their shadow the whole of the area was green.

The Tree Folk mostly keep to themselves; tending their grove and trading massive fruit for what they need.  They all kind of dress the same, the men wearing tight crew cut hairdos and the women smart bobs.  They all have a healthy glow about them and arms like chimps, from climbing and tending their trees.  The Tree Folk kids attend one of three Public Schools in the area; with Gramercy now boasting a population of 10,000 most of the year and a few (not many) chain hotels and restaurants calling the area a new tourist hot spot.  A wholesome Las Vegas or something.   Their kids rub elbows with the rest of us and then go home to the Grove at night; nestled in their adobe houses on the sides of massive apple trees.

About 35 years back; as the grove started to grow there was a huge hoopla about the water table and how much water all this Green was costing us.  The Tree Folk’s leader at the time, Paul, he just smiled at the question and produced a sheaf of paper showing the water levels for 100 miles around over the past 10 years, showing an actual increase in the water table in the local area.

“The Trees, ” he said, still smiling that beatific smile they all seemed to flash when talking to folks from Gramercy, “The trees don’t take water, they make it.  They convert Oxygen and Hydrogen into water on their own and then the excess leeches down their roots into the water table below.   The trees make their own food and then share the bounty with us”

Some bigwig from the EPA showed up a while later and after some harrumphing and more official visits from the CDC the Tree Folk were given leave to do what they would with the Land; with the only consideration to the government being lights affixed at the top of the trees to ensure they would not be a hazard to air travel.  Paul had smiled a little smile at that, whispered something to one of his followers who nodded and wandered on foot back to the grove.  Weeks later the canopy of the trees glowed a soft blue at night, like the massive leaves had stars weaved into them.  When asked about it Paul would only say “We asked the lightening bugs how they did it then shared it with the trees”

Years later; when the third public school opened and the latest organic plastics plant went into operation (supplied via the skins left from a pulping mill down the way) the Tree Folk became a national treasure; something to read about in books and learn about on educational specials.  Like the Amish of Pennsylvania, the Tree Folk of Montana were just another reclusive farming folk; building their land of Milk and Honey and finding Utopia among the leaves.  And Gramercy, we’re along for the ride, living here in the Shadows of the CEntury Trees and always ready with an answer to “Do you know any Druids?  Did you see them dancing naked at Springtime?”

Lights Out | The Long Night

The office shuddered with the impacts of  sodden arms and bodies.  Fleshy demons slammed against the glassy doors and windows that led to the balcony.  Men and women franticly piled as much office furniture and cube building material against as they could, attempting to blockade the office against the bloody fiends outside.   Panic and fear cemented into determination and bravery.

“Folks; as long as we keep watch and fortify the windows and doors, those things aren’t getting in!” in the gloom, no one knew for sure who was speaking.  “We keep them out there until morning and then, when we can see, we figure out how to deal with them, alright?”

Mutters of agreement came from the people near the window.  Deeper in the gloom of the office people were milling around each other, unsure what to do next.

All through the night, the thudding continued, slowly becoming more urgent and frightening as the ghouls wore away the flesh from their bones, slamming themselves into goo on the windows, smearing their humanity into nothing.  For hours they fell upon the glassy facade of the office, never ceasing, never taking a break.

The people in the office alternated between hugging each other for comfort and steely resolve against the unknown terrors outside.

In offices around the building, fires had broken out and more of the monsters that were thrashing themselves upon the Fledex building could be seen roaming the offices and streets in the smoky gloom below.  The people who now huddled in the Feldex building looked out into an alien world with a small chunk of Minnesota slammed into it waiting for an alien sky to light the dawn.

At approximately 3 am some of the phones in the building began to light up and ring; as if by magic.

Janice’s phone rang with the familiar tone for her mother; “Janice! Janice!  My God! I can’t believe that you are alright!  Where have you been?  I’ve been calling for hours!”

“Mom?  Oh my God.  Mom,  Don’t hang up!”

The celebrations inside of the office whipped the ghouls on the balcony into a frenzy, they surged as one at the window bone slamming glass and metal as one mass, a crack began to form in the glass of one of the doors.  The hideous tattoo of bone on glass was finally moving the glass.

“Mom, please.  Just tell me what is going on in Saint. Paul?”

“Janice, they are saying that there was some kind of explosion or something, it turned some of Saint Paul into dirt and sand!  Janice, where are you?”

“Mom,  I’m at work.  All of us are.  We’re not in Saint Paul anymore.   We don’t know where we are.  It’s night and we’re scared.  The phones stopped working hours ago and now they are working again.  If I get cut off again, I want to tell you that I love you mom, tell Dad that I love him too, okay?”  Janice sniffed, she could hear the same sort of affirmations going on all around her, people whispering and yelling their love to people at the other end of what was an infinite gulf. “Mom, I love you.”

IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, SAY YES” a voice boomed from every cell phone in the office.  “PLEASE, IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, SAY YES

A scattered few yelled yes into their phones.

“I HEARD YOUR REPLY, THANK YOU.  I AM BROADCASTING USING THIS CELL TOWER THAT  I HAVE HOOKED UP AND POWERED UP.  MY NAME IS NOT IMPORTANT.  PLEASE DON’T TRY TO SPEAK OVER ME, IT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR ME TO TELL YOU THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  WE ARE NOT ON EARTH, WE ARE ON A PLANET SOMEWHERE REMOVED FROM EARTH.  OUR BEST UNDERSTANDING OF THE STARS THAT ARE VISIBLE PUTS US SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE MILKY WAY AS WE CAN OBSERVE THE MILKY WAY IN ITS ENTIRETY THE SOUTHERN SKY.  WE HAVE OPENED LINES OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE EARTH VIA THE SAME TECHNOLOGY THAT HAS TAKEN A PORTION OF SAINT PAUL TO THIS PLANET.  AS LONG AS WE HAVE THE MEANS TO POWER IT, WE CAN SPEAK WITH PEOPLE ON EARTH.  THE GATE REMAINS OPEN.  WE WILL BE SENDING PEOPLE IN SMALL GROUPS BACK THROUGH THE GATE FOR AS LONG AS WE CAN ALONG WITH AN UPLOAD OF ALL OUR NOTES AND RESEARCH SUCH THAT PERSONS ON EARTH COULD ATTEMPT TO REPRODUCE OUR EXPERIMENT AND RETURN SAINT PAUL.   PLEASE DON’T INTERRUPT!  I AM NOT FINISHED.  NO WE CANNOT RETRIEVE ITEMS FROM EARTH, WE CANNOT DETERMINE WHY ENERGY IS ABLE TO CROSS IN BOTH DIRECTIONS BUT NOT MATTER.  ATTEMPTS TO CROSS THE GATE FROM EARTH HAVE BEEN MET WITH FAILURE AND NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS WILL BE MADE.  PLEASE APPOINT A SPOKESPERSON FROM EACH GROUP AND COMMUNICATE THEIR NAME AND CELL NUMBER VIA TEXT MESSAGE TO THIS NUMBER 444-231-8899.  WE HAVE AN ARMORED VEHICLE AS WELL AS SECURITY PERSONNEL WAITING TO  RETRIEVE YOU.  DO NOT LEAVE ANY SECURED AREA AS THE REVENANTS OUTSIDE WILL ATTEMPT TO DEVOUR OR KILL YOU.  THERE ALSO APPEAR TO BE NATIVES MASSING AT THE EDGE OF THE TRANSPORT ZONE WE DO NOT KNOW THEIR INTENT AND WOULD RECOMMEND THAT ANY CONTACT BE AVOIDED.  WE WILL AWAIT COMMUNICATION FROM YOU.  THAT IS ALL”

“Janice… Janice, are you there?”  Janice’s mother was there again.

“Mom, I think we were caught in some sort of experiment gone wrong, from the sounds of things it was a military thing.”

“Janice, what are you talking about?”

“Mom, there was a voice, it told us to sit tight and that we would be picked up by an armored vehicle”

“Janice, you’re in Hell”

“Mom, what?”

“Hell Janice.  You’re being punished for your wicked ways.  You lost your virginity and now God wants you dead Janice.”

“Mom, what are you saying?” Janice sobbed, “why are you doing this?”

“Wake up and smell the roses Janice.  You’re damned for all eternity!”

The phone went dead again and Janie slumped against a wall and slid down, crying into the crook of her arm.  People all over the office were wailing and screaming at the phones.

All of the phones in the office leapt to life at once, ringing with the same tone.  People tossed them away as if they were on fire.

The pounding and cracking noises from the balcony filled the darkness as the phones died again.

“What just happened?”  someone asked into the dark, “did everyone just have the same phone call?  Did your boyfriends just tell you that you were going to hell?”

“Yeah, my Dad just called me a slut and told me that I was gonna burn forever” a voice near the door replied.

“Fuck me, my Grandma just called me a sinner and told me that the devil was going to eat my eyes, I’ve just realized, she’s been dead for 15 years!”

Janice stood up and turned her phone back on.  It had been off the whole time.

It was 6AM.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 8

Janice got up from her chair sometime later and wandered back out to the veranda and looked down into the sooty streets.  Screams had become moans and the sounds of fighting below had become the thudding of the crowds on random cars.  Janice wasn’t paying attention to that anymore, she was looking up at the sky and seeing the stars. She couldn’t see a single constellation she recognized and as she strained to do so she didn’t notice that she wasn’t alone on the the deck.

“It’s not the sky”

Continue reading Short Story: Lights Out Part 8

Short Story: Lights Out Part 7

The gravel stopped crunching and Patrick thought, for a moment, that he was alone on the roof.  The flopping monsters that had poured from the door had been dispatched like his former partner and he had pitched the majority into the flaming street below; crossing himself when he could for whatever passed for souls in their grotesque corpses.

Jacks corpse had stood again, stretched and began to lope at Patrick again, his face an obscene smile with mouth agape and askew.

“Jack, shit.” Patrick ran towards his partner and kicked hm in the chest, toppling the bloody thing over the side of the roof and sailing to the street below.

The roof was quiet and empty of danger now, Patrick walked with all due care to the roof door and looked down the staircase for any evidence of more monsters waiting in the dark.  Finding none he turned his radio on and called out for the chief.

“Chief, it’s 13.  I’m 5 by 5 here.”

“Pat?  Good.  We’ve just shut the tenants on 25 in the security office, join me in the main stairwell.”

“Got ya Chief.  13 coming in”

Patrick Farrel had never once killed a man in anger; not in the line of duty either.  His tour in Iraq had been a relativley short one, with a leg injury getting him an early reprieve from the desert.  Security work paid a bit better and couldn’t normally involve much actual fighting.  The busiest days for Patrick had been chasing kids out of the stairwell after sneaking in after-hours.  He hadn’t known Jack long enough for his death to really hurt, but the fight had left him like the long-termers at the VA, lost in the moment, staring into the distance for the next encounter.

He met the guys from Unit 11 as they trotted towards the main stairwell doors, they were smiling and chatting about the tenants.

“Did you see what they were doing in the one office?  I think they were trying to film their own little porno in there or something… hey Pat.  What the fuck was going on up top?”  Patrick knew the smaller one; Henry “Hank” Jacobs.  Young, former cop, fired for some kind of harassment issue.

“Yeah, they were naked, all of them, one dude had a camera and they were in a pile in the middle of the office, like 20 people all getting it on!” The bigger one had just kept on about the discovery in the office.  Patrick just walked on to the door and knocked.  Chief Pendegrass opened up and held the door for the Security Guards to walk out.  He gave Patrick as much space as possible, given the gore that coated his uniform.

“Chief, we got some shit up here like you wouldn’t believe.  Fucking Zombies or some shit.  I fought about 6 of them, Jack included.  I pitched them off of the roof as they came at me, I fucking shot two of them in the chest and they got right up, Jack too.” Patrick found his tongue and wouldn’t let go “Chief, Man. They kept on coming, like they was gonna tear me up like Jack.  I hadda kill them.”

Patrick could feel himself losing it.  He caught himself and led the walk down to the 24rth and down,  sealing the doors as he went.  He described the whole fight to the Chief, who remained quiet and offered no judgment or comment.  When they had finished the sweep to the ground floor, Patrick had told his story a few times and the guys from Unit 11 had simply gone silent and stopped meeting Patrick’s eyes.

Chief Pendegrass put his hand on PAtrick’s should and led him to the Security offices and offered him a seat and a drink.

“Pat, I believe you.  I’ve looked outside, I can hear that stuff out there.  Something has happened to Saint Paul and I’m not clear as to what.  There were two suns out there today, things have changed in a big way.  Find yourself a clean set of clothes and dump that shit you’re wearing in a bag, tie it off and dump it deep in a dumpster or down the chute.  Go nowhere alone and keep your radio on from now on.”  The Chief stood up to his full height and looked deep in thought.

Patrick got up, went to his locker and stripped off his gore covered clothes, dumping them like requested.  He cleaned himself up as best he could in the showers and found a new uniform and some of the tactical gear the other guys had on.  When he caught his face in the mirror, he was sure that it was still him looking out, but there was a small strangeness in his eyes, like when he first stepped off of the plane at Rammstein in Germany.  He had been through something and come back broken.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 6

The Job of a Security Chief in a private building is thankless, stullifying and for the most part as boring as Mime Church on Saturday.  You clock in first thing in the morning, check over the security logs, meet with the building tenants once or twice a week and put a happy if patricial face on the security procedures that inevitably end up annoying or inconveniencing the tenants.  If it has been a particularily trying day, you can get free food from one of the cafeterias in the building or sneak a drink from the executive lounges in the name of a security check.

When the call came in that the 25th was overrun, Mike Pendegrass wished that he had strayed into one of the executive lounge instead of tarrying around 23 looking at the security doors.

“Chief Responding, Unit 12, I’ll lock it down,  sit tight! Units 1-10, lock down floors 23 down to 19, sweep down floor by floor, Unit 11, you’re with me.”

Two worried looking kids in Security Tactical gear appeared in the main lobby on 23, they had pulled out the private securty quivalent of riot gear from the security office on 23.  Mike took a club from one of them and led them out to the central staircase.

“Guys, you know what to do, get up to 25 determine the nature of the threat and seal all exits if that threat could come down on us; now get going1”

“Yes sir!” Like military recruits, the two young men tore up the staircase to the 25th, Chief Pendegrass could hear their boots pound all the way up, then the heavy doors closing behind them.

“Chief, Unit 11 checking in, there are some people milling about out here.  My partner is leading them into the secure area,  we’ll get them locked into a secure area before going on.”

“You lock down that central staircase before you do anything else boys, I don’t want anything coming down those stairs until one of you boys tosses it ahead of them, you get me?”

“Yes Sir, Unit 11 locking down stairs”

One of the boys had come into the stairwall above Chief Pendegrass and used his security key to initiate a lockdown of the 25th floor.  Mike had climbed the stairs behind the two security guards, keeping a safe distance until he was sure that whatever had caught Jack and Patrick wasn’t already spilling into the central staircase.

“Okay, I’ll finish the lockdown.  Get in there and secure the people in the security office in the north corner, it has a chute down to 24 if things go south.  Barricade them in, tell them to sit tight and wait for the all clear then get back down to this door in a hurry!”

The young guard complied and Chief Michael Pendegrass finished sealing the door, he sat down and leaned against it, calling out to his man on the roof.

“Pat, chief here, pick up on private channel” Mike swapped channels over to a private channel he knew was set aside for unit 12 “Pat, what’s your six?”

“…..ssssssSSSSSS……”

“Pat, come back”

Mike switched over to the public channel, “Unit 12, come back”

“sssssSSSS    Unit 12 coming back Chief”

“Pat, switch over to private, you got me?”

“Chief, I’m kinda in the middle of something, I’ll catch you on the flip side if I get through ….sssssSSSSS”

Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, formerly of the Saint Paul Police department smiled a little to himself and thought of the times he had asked people to hold on like that,  as if a life or death matter was some sort of chore that one could shrug off.  Mike Pedegrass leaned his full weight into the door and listened, listened for the sounds of something going wrong, for screams, for gunshots, for anything.  Beyond the murmering that once could always hear in the main stairwell, it was silence.  He could hear the odd footstep beyond the door and occasional check-ins as the units swept down from 23, but the rest was silence and peace.

“Unit 12, come back”

“Chief, this is unit 11”

“Unit 11,  have you secured the tenants on 25?”

“Yeah Chief, coming back to the main staircase, unit 11 out”

Chief Pendegrass stood up and smoothed out his uniform, he began the unlock sequence on the door and pulled open the heavy steel arm that secured it.  He waited for the twin cadenced steps of the guards of unit 11.

And waited.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 5

The roof access stairs were impassible; but it was clear to Patrick that staying on the 25th was going to be a bad idea; he had just heard something wet and horrible happen to his partner over the radio and was sure that he didn’t want it to happen to him.  He leaped over the bloody pools at the bottom of the stairs and caught himself on the railing of the stairs, slick footing preventing a clean landing.  The stairs were gore-laden messes with what appeared to be the remains of dozens of people all over them.  Patrick considered heading back down, but screaming and yelps of pain from behind him spurred him through the grotesque and up onto the roof into the inky, smoky night.

“Chief, this is Patrick Farrel, patrol unit 12, My partner was caught in whatever bingo is going down on 25.  I’m up on the roof to avoid catching whatever caught him!  Chief!?” his radio wasn’t coming back “Unit 12, someone come back?”

“Unit twelve, this is unit 3 on the first, we’re secure down there, what’s your six?”

“Unit 3, the roof lights are out, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone up here.  It’s freaking cold up her Rog.”

“Pat, I got ya.  Keep your head straight and keep an I eye on the roof”

“10-4 Unit 3.  Unit 12 out”

Patrick crunched along the gravel on the roof, and looked over the edge at the city below.  The streets were bathed in yellow and red, smoky and dangerous looking.  Patrick turned back towards the door to the stairs and walked face first into his partner.

“Holy Damn, Jack.  What’s going on, are you alright?”

Jack grabbed hold of Patrick and pushed him towards the edge of the rood, snapping at his face.

“Shit, Jack, what the fuck”

When the light from the fires below lit Jack’s face, Patrick could see that half of it was gone and there was nothing but evil intent in his remaining eye. Jack released Patrick’s shoulder with his right hand and swung a blinding punching into Patrick’s chin, stunning him.  Patrick fell to the gravel next to the short wall around the perimeter of the roof.  Jack began to pummel his partner, bloodying his face; between blows Patrick pulled his pistol from his belt and tried to level it at his partners knees, but Jack slapped it from his hand and over the side of the roof.

Patrick rolled to his left and escaped the rain of blows; kicking Jack’s right knee out from under him.  Jack collapsed towards Patrick who had rolled to his feet and bounced unsteadily way, returning to kick his fallen attacker in the gorey remains of his face. Stomping it.

“Yeah, you like that? Huh?  You like some of this?”

Patrick stomped his former partner until he stopped thrashing around and the wheezing bubbling blood stopped pumping from the ragged edge of his mouth.

“Shit..”

“Unit 12, this is Chief.  Come back”

Patrick’s radio was one the ground next to the wall.

“Unit 12, Chief, we’ve got a problem up on the roof; Jack just tried to toss me over the side”

“Come back Unit 12, what was that?”

“Chief, Jack just  tried to eat my face and kick me over the side of the building.  I had to stomp him dead to to get him to lay still”

“Unit 12, do not leave the location.”

“10-4 Chief.  Unit 12 on the roof and waiting.  If whatever got Jack is up here Chief, I don’t want to meet it.  Jack was all fucked up before he got to me, half of his face was gone; like somoeone ripped it off”

“Say again 12?”

“Jack’s face was torn off!”

“Chief on his way”

“Shit”

Patrick sat on the gravel with his back against the wall and stared at the body of his former partner.  Patrick had been the best man at Jack’s wedding.  He was Jack’s kids’ godfather.  Jack’s wife would be devastated.  Patrick coughed a bit in regret, but snapped his flashlight out and began to scan the roof for other surprises.

There was a bloody trail leading to him from the door, but there was no other sign of disturbance on the roof.  Patrick stood up and walked to the door; from behind the door he could hear heavy, but labored footsteps and called out “Chief?”

There was no response, but a grey arm shot up from the gloom; Patrick pointed his flashlight down into the stairwell and immediately slammed the door shut and sat down against it.

“Chief, lock down the 25th, do not enter 25!”

“Unit 12, repeat?”

“Chief, get the 25th locked down.  There are more things like Jack down there, they are all fucked up and dead Chief.  We got zombies or some shit like that on 25!”

Weak arms began to pound the door behind him, they wanted out but couldn’t budge the door.  Patrick braced himself and then ran for Jacks body, Jack’s pistol was still strapped to his waist.  Patrick grabbed the gun and the extra clips stored there and turned to face the monsters pouring from the door.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 4

When the suns finally fell beyond the horizon, Saint Paul was dark except for the emergency lights of the buildings and the lights of cars gridlocked on the streets.  In the Feldex Building, Janice McMurray and Frank James stared down into the deepening gloom below the building, trying to ignore the fights and recriminations that were happening behind them in the office.

“It’s looking crazy down there, did you see the crash along there?” Frank rubbed his head against the warm glass and stared down the streets.  The dull glow that would normally accompany an evening was an inky blackness punctuated by the twinkling lights of he emergency lights and cars; it was chaos in the streets though.  He could see fires and panic below.

Janice stood up and walked out of the offices, past the scuffles in the common area and walked out onto the balcony area looking down into the city.  Standing in the winds; she could smell the smoke and fires out in the city, she could hear the honking and crashing and sonic violence of a city in panic.  There were sirens and bullhorns bleating all around her; but over it all, there were screams and moans.

In the streets below, in the lights of the cars; Janice could see what looked like a battle; the writhing and scattering bodies of people clashing and flashing into each other in between the cars.  There were, what looked like, wolf packs of figures cutting through the cars, hauling people from them and killing them on the roofs of the idling vehicles.  She turned away from it and ran back inside to Frank.

“Frank, there are people being killed down there!  It’s like the whole city has gone crazy at street level”

The office was in chaos, people had split into factions.  Some were gearing up to leave, intending to take the stairs down and leave via the emergency exits and most were trying to convince them to stay.  Janice screamed at the top of her lungs: “SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LOOK DOWN AT THE GOD DAMNED STREET; IT’S FUCKING CHAOS DOWN THERE! GET A GRIP AND LOOK DOWN!”  She pointed down at the streets as flowers of fire bloomed from below the lines of the windows.  It was clear that cars were blowing up in the crowded avenues below.

The Pa chirped loudly and the murmuring, yelling  and crying halted in the office.

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!   THIS IS THE CHIEF OF BUILDING SECURITY!  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT NOTICE, PLEASE STOP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING AND LISTEN!  We are sealing the ground level and first 4 floors of the building.  There are a number of events going on outside and in order to ensure your security we are locking the building down.  Close and lock all office doors; do not open them until you receive an all clear over the PA system or when a security officer appears in person to lead you out of the building.  Under no circumstances is the 25th floor to be visited.  There is an ongoing police presence on that floor along with building security personnel.  Building residents on the 25th floor are asked to make their presence known via a call to the security desk.  We thank you for your patience.”

The PA chirped again and the announcement was repeated, the PA then hissed and went silent.

Jance fell back into her chair next to Frank and tried to get her cell phone to work.   Frank watched her; waiting for her to talk again.

“It’s a mess down there Frank, it’s like a war is going on in the street”

“I can see cars blowing up down there, Janice.  It’s so dark out but there is so much light down there now from the fires.  Do you want to hole up in one of the exec offices with a couch and try to get some sleep?”

“No, I’m going to stay here and watch the street.  If one of the buildings around us catches on fire, I want to be ready to go it it gets to us.”

“This building is like a fortress, the fire would have to start inside the building to get us and the way the fire-prevention system is set up, it would be confined to one floor.  It’d take one of these buildings collapsing into us to make a real impact.   I’m gonna go and try and sleep somewhere.”

Frank got up and wandered into the gloomy areas of the office, over to the executive offices.  Janice kicked off her shoes and curled into her chair, staring out into the dark and fire lit streets, unsure what to do.

The office had fallen to silence, with people barricading the doors into the halls and recriminations turning into sorrow and fellow-feeling; former adversaries turning to each other for comfort against an increasingly frightening unknown.

“OH GOD JESUS, FUUUCK SAVE ME CHIEF…SQUARKSSSSsssssss”  the PA had burst to life for a moment then hissed into silence again.  The effect was electric, with wails and yells going up around the office.  No one in the office knew the voice, but the fear and confusion was obvious.  “OH GOD, CHIEF!  THEY ARE EVERYWHERE ON 25, LOCK DOWN THE FLOOR, LOCK IT D…” a warm wet squelch cut off the last word and the PA went silent again.

Janice ran to the doors and began to help with the barricading; certain now that whatever was going on was so much worse than she had even considered.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 2

Frank James spent all of his day at work navigating Facebook looking for his ex-girlfriends.  He only had three to look for, but they never seemed to pop up.  Today he was looking for variations on Trudy or Trudelle or Trish, his first serious Girlfriend in High School.  They had dated right until Graduation, when she dumped him the day after Graduation, Frank had been crushed.  He had expected to Marry her during College and have kids before he turned 25.

Now Trudy and Frank were both in their 30s and unknown to Frank, Trudy was single and pining for him after years of failed relationships.  She didn’t use Facebook and rarely used a computer except when demanded by work and even then she left it to an assistant if possible.  Miles away, Frank toiled away at his keyboard, oblivious to the world, save Facebook.

CLICK

The Lights went out and Frank’s laptop dimmed, he tapped on, but when people started to move towards the exists, he started to get ready to leave.  The PA crackled and hissed then a voice came out:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, please remain in your offices and keep the stairs clear at this time.  I repeat please keep the stairs clear at this time.” The PA hissed a bit then everything was quiet.

““Aww, what the hell!?” Frank coughed in exasperation.  He plopped down in his chair and began to unplug his laptop from the wall, planning to pack up his crap except for his Laptop and leave as soon as the all clear came down.  The “official” downtime would give him a chance to catch up on his real work and since the power was down, so was the ‘net.  No reason to search.

Frank looked up when Janice from the next cube had rolled her chair down the aisle to the window and then got back to filling out spreadsheets and poking tracking information into different databases inside the building.  In about 20 minutes, he had finished his real work for the day when the light in the office came back on.  No, it hadn’t, it was brighter though.

“Oh My GOD!” someone yelled from the other side of the Office, “Holy Shit, Look outside!”

Frank looked out of the window and squinted, there, on the horizon above the buildings were two massive lights, two suns.  The Sky was yellow and there were two suns!  Frank snatched his camera from his carrier bag and snapped some pictures through the glass.  The lights dimmed and went orange as the suns began to sink towards the horizon.

Down in the street, people were panicking and running between the cars.  Frank could just make them out in the dimming lights.

Janice joined him at the window.

“Hey, did you know we were bombed”  she drank from a coffee cup, “like, today?”

Frank stepped back and looked at her, “what?  What?”

“Yeah, I got a call a little while back from a friend in Moorehead, he told me that Saint Paul was bombed, most of it is gone”

“You seem healthy for a bombing victim Janice.  You have to tell me your secret” Frank jibed, nervous.

“It’s this double sun, you know?  It does wonders for the wounds.  Fuck. This is fucked up.  What the hell is going on?” suddenly serious, Janice flopped back into her chair and looked around the office, people were gathering in groups and talking on their cell phones.

Frank took his cell phone from his pocket and called his mother, no answer. He called one of his friends in another office, no answer.  Then, no service.

All around the office people started getting angry, yelling about service.  Somewhere an argument had blossomed into a fight which was getting louder.

Frank grabbed his chair and wheeled it over next to Janice, they sat in silence and watched the suns set in the distance, noting for the first time that they were setting in the north.

Short Story: Lights Out Part 1

Life in a high rise office is alright; at least most of the time.  You sometimes have to deal with recycled air or “sick building” syndrome, but you get great views from the windows and the feeling that you are above it all, down there on the ground.  Some buildings even have mezzanine levels that extend from the building with gardens or cafe’s that let you get outside and look right down on the city below.   The only time a high rise is a real pain is when the power goes out.

Which happens now.

“Click”

Shit! Janice thought, mid sentence in an email to her never-far-enough-away college buddy Burgess, a boy who never grew up and a townie from Moorehead.  Burgess was having some kind of family crisis out there in Moorehead and had wanted Janice to come out and help him deal.  Janice was mid “No fucking way…” when the lights had dimmed then flashed off, along with her monitor.

She stood up and watched the Prairie-Dog city that was the cube farm stand up together and look around, the murmers that never seemed to cease had paused and everyone looked at each other for some kind of idea what happened.  The emergency lights clicked on and some people started to walk for the stairs.  Janice started to pack up her stuff and join them when a voice came over the PA

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, please remain in your offices and keep the stairs clear at this time.  I repeat please keep the stairs clear at this time”  the PA hissed, beeped and went silent.

“Aww, what the hell!?” Frank James on Janice’s Left collapsed back into his chair, his dangerous weight nearly collapsing it.  He unplugged his laptop and fired it up, intent on continuing his work.

Janice sat back down. but finished packing up her stuff and then rolled her chair over to the window, where there was enough light to read by.  She took out a collection of short stories she had been carting around with her and began to read, waiting for the power to come back on or for the all-clear to leave.

Around the office, people either returned to what work they could or began to mill around in groups, gossiping or making guesses about what was going on.  Janice tried to concentrate on her book, the story she was reading was about a bunch of guys in an office dealing with some sort of miniature priest outbreak, but she couldn’t get into it.  She leaned her head against the floor to cieling window and looked down into the streets.  Her phone lit up and vibrated at her hip.

“Janice, are you okay?” it was Burgess.

“What do you mean Burg’?  Yeah, I’m cool”  Janice noticed alot of people getting calls, all of them some variation of “I’m Okay” or “What? What do you mean Bombing?”

Janice stood up and pushed her chair to her desk and walked out to the cafe at the end of the office, to get a better view of the streets.

“Janice, Jan.  A bomb went off in Saint Paul, it’s gone, blown up!” Burgess was frantic.

“Burg’ I’m in the office right now looking down at the street, there’s nothing going on down there, all the lights are out, but I can see cars and some lights out there.  It’s just some sort of power out or some…”

Janice looked out at the sky, it had twin Suns set in a sickly green-blue.

“Burgess, I’m gonna have to call you back”

Project Billy Part 4

Pika-Pooooooooo

The yellow rat was cute, that was for sure.  Billy didn’t look too happy about having a small pile of raisin-style defecants in his hand though.  For once, he wasn’t crying about it though.  Billy began to pet the neon-colored rat and it nuzzled his palm as he stroked it.

Billy pushed past me and sat at Mitzi’s desk, setting the rodent down on Mitzi’s paperwork and wiping the small pile of pellets from his hand into the trash.

“He hasn’t ate anything, but he keeps on pooping!” Billy lopsidedly grinned, “it’s a little poop machine, I guess it’s better than an electric mouse.  So, guys, what is going on?”

“Billy, uh, what do you mean?” I stammered a bit and looked to Mitzi to navigate through this.

“You two are both talkin’ in here, like it’s some kinda work meeting that.  Somethin’ up?” Billy scratched the Yellow Rat’s head.  It prompty soiled every paper on Mitzi’s desk out of sheer happiness. “I’m done with the project by the way, man.  It’s all over.  Do you think I could take a few days off this week, just today and tomorrow?”

Mitzi unclenched and walked over behind his desk and sat down, he saved what papers he could and noted on post-it’s what he would have to replace.   “Sure Billy, you can take a couple days off.  What about your partner here?”

“I,uh, yeah, I could use a couple days off too”  I sat down in the chair next to Billy.

“You guys are so intent on working me until I’m crazy, aren’t you” Billy straightened up. “The Popes, now this. You left your laptop on when you went to your desk and I could see some of the IMs from Mitzi up.”

“Look Billy, it’s not like we were trying to hurt you, these popes are amazing!  Did you always make stuff appear like this?” Mitzi started to settle into a rhythm, trying to smooth Billy out. “Billy, we’re your friends, it’s okay, you know.  You’re going to be well-paid for this when we figure out all the details, you know?”

“I know, man!  I know!  I already snagged all the notes off of Jerk-ass’s laptop here”  He thumbed at me.  “I’m gonna spend the next few days thinking about what I’m gonna do about this.  I can’t sue your asses, that would mean I’d have to produce these things,”he motioned to the foot tall Pope Eustace III that had waddled into the room, “all the time, just to prove I can.  Naw, man.  This is something else, I was going crazy.  YOU!  You put the idea in my head about the John Lennon thing too.”

I willed myself to get smaller, to shrink out of sight.  Billy was my friend and I had been exploiting his neurosis for my own ends.  I couldn’t have felt worse at that point in time. Mitzi figured out how to make it worse.

“Billy, c’mon, cool down.  It’s just between us.”

“Shut up! You Jim-Jay-Bullock looking fucker!” Billy stood up and pointed at me “This fucker is going to take me to the bar and get me drunker than a middle-school kid with two bottles of manischewitz!  Then you’re gonna cut me a check for a nice vacation, away from you assholes.  Maybe I’ll go to Disney World or something. C’mon asshole, get your ass in gear, it’s time to get my dose of Vitamin B”

Mitzi gave me a pained look and I got up to follow Billy as he led me out of the office and down the streets.  He straightened himself and looked at me with a devilish gleam in his eye.  “Do you wanna see something really cool man?”

“Uh, sure” I said, not sure what to expect.

“Check this out!” Billy held out his hand and 2 one-hundred dollar bills appeared in his hand.

“Holy Shit, since when can you do that?” I stared at the bills.

“Since I read your reports to Mitzi, man.  I was so mad at first, then I figured out what was really going on, I can make shit appear outta nowhere.  Then I gave it a bit of thought, I was kinda heavy when this all started and now I’m sorta thin, right?”

Billy had lost a ton of weight since we started seeing the Popes, mitzi and I had chalked it up to stress.

“It’s why they poop so much, they’re made of the stuff.  I make them out of the crap in my colon”  Billy beamed.  It’s poop-magic.

“So What now?  Are we cool?”  I asked.

“Oh yeah, man, we’re cool.  I know you didn’t really want to hurt me.  Next time you have a project that involves me thoughh, you tell me, kay?” he put his arm around me and stuff the bills into my pocket.

“How did you know abou the Poke-monster thing?”

“I was outside the door when Mitzi said it. So, are we gonna get our drunk on?”  Billy swerved me towards the Bar and sat at the counter.

“Billy, it’s only 10 AM.  Can we start with something light?”  I was overwhelmed.

“Sure man, two stouts”

Suddenly two stouts appeared in front of me.

“Drink up man”

Billy Grinned.