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Category: Prose

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.


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”

Story: Project Billy Part 2

That night, I finished up the final touches on my part of the Website revamps at home and sent merged my work to the CVS on my own branch.  I’d let the source control teams check it in and make sure it was to spec.  Mitzi called me about an hour later and told me that he appreciated my work.  I kicked back and watched some History TV that I’d recorded earlier, “The Lives of the Popes”.

Billy called around 9 o’clock.  “Hey man, I got one of those Pope things cornered in my bathtub, can you come over here and take it out of my place?”  He sounded frantic.  Billy wasn’t stable on his best days, he wouldn’t sleep if a Pope was in his house.

“Sure Bill, I’ll be over there in a bit.  I’ll catch a cab and be there as soon as possible” I hung up and grabbed some clothes and my Laptop; if Billy was too worked up I’d have to sit with him for a few hours and probably end up on his couch for the night.  Being prepared was best.

About 20 minutes later I knocked on Billy’s Door; it had a huge inverted cross with a barbie hung on it.  Easy to find.

Billy yanked the door open on the second knock and pointed, shaking and eyes closed at his bathroom door.  Crouched in the dirty tub was a foot tall John Paul II, peering down the drain and saying “Hello, my child?  Are you there?  Do you want the blessings of God?” He proceeded to turn and lift his cassock, bareing his tiny bum to the drain hole and dropping his “blessing” down the pipe.  I turned on the hot water to wash away his leavings and snatched the smelly pontiff from the floor of the bathtub. 

“No, No! I must bless the filthy beasts!” the tiny pope protested, beating at my hands.  The Pope squirmed and protested, but It was for nothing.  I snatched his head and wrenched it around, killing the tiny Priest as quickly and quietly as possible.  It never got easier, but the big ones were trouble,  a benedict had gotten into the trash a month ago and set off a roach infestation that was still going on at Billy’s.

Billy peered from around the bathroom door, “hey man, is it done?”

“Billy, you gotta start taking care of these guys, you’re gonna live in fear of them until you stand up for yourself” I sighed and stuffed the miniature pope into a green garbage bag. “They don’t seem to attack you or anything, they just show up and start blessing the plants and bugs.  Do they talk about anything else?”

“Man, I’m telling you, when they catch me alone they tell me they are gonna take John’s soul and kill me!”

Billy began to tear up, his eye already wet.  He bubbled and shook then collapsed into a wailing heap.  I got him to his room and closed the door.  The living room was a mess of blankets and bongs.  Billy’s tastes ran from Grateful Dead to Nine Inch Nails, and his walls suffered from the clash of Inudstrial Nihilsm and ‘Shroom-fed Hippy Optimism.  I picked up a bit and settled onto the couch to surf a bit.  I listened for Billy to stop crying and when he had finally given up, he stalked into the bathroom and wiped himself up.

Billy sat next to me on the couch and harumphed.  I leaned back and waited for him to talk.

“You know what? The next one of those fuckers that appears?  I’m gonna strap it down and make it tell you what it is here for!  Yeah!”

“Sure man, It’s getting late.  You mind if I couch surf here until morning and head to work in the morning?”

“Sure man, you can watch for the Popes!”

Billy brightened a bit and watched some TV; he smoked a bit of really rank weed and went back to bed.

When I was sure he was in bed I IM’d Mitzi and told him what had went on. 

“Does he know what’s up?” Mitzi asked.

“No way, I just let him go on and on, but he doesn’t have any idea” I tapped out.

“Alright, we’ll see how he is in the morning then, Thanks for the update” Mitzi signed off and I closed the laptop.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a 3 inch tall, naked man stroll accross the floor, whistling as he went.  Too tired to care what ancient religious figure it might have been, I obliterated him with a shoe and went to sleep.

Last Day for Ice Cream

When you lick an ice cream cone, a really really god ice cream cone, you get that inital soft scoop of it on your tongue and you pull it into your mouth.  Curled there on top of your tonge, it melts and squishes around your mouth and teeth, you sometimes let it slide down your throat, half-melted.  Other times you give it the once over in your mouth, seeking chunks of stuff in it, just in case.  Then down it goes and you go for that next lick.  Never quite as good as the first one, but always great.  You catch the drips down the side and in the end you dispose of the cone last and then it’s all gone.  Melted away down your throat and sometimes on your shirt or shorts.  The last of the ice cream gone.

In the summer time, all the Ice Cream stands are open for business.  They have big signs that implore you to come try their amazing flabors.  Some sell Gelato or Sherbert, soft-serve or sundaes.  They all want your money for their wares.  Bored teenagers and flamboyant foreign men all vie for your dollars as the summer marches on.

In Scotland you can get a 99, which is a cone (usually soft-serve) with two chocolate bars stuck in it (Flakies) that give the eater a chance to choose betwen keeping the ice cream from melting and eating around the chocolate bars, or eating the chocolate first and running the risk having ice cream down your shirt.  The choice was yours.

In Ontario (and other places I assume) we had no ice cream trucks, ratehr the Dickie Dee cart, which was a bike-cart deal that a surly teenage boy or a jubilant girl would push around the streets, ringing a series of bells.  The reaction was the same as that to the Ice Cream truck, balls and toys would drop, aliens would go unfought, cobra commander’s final blow never landed and children would stream to the street with whatver cash they could get from their parents to buy some seriously overpriced frozen treats.

Then Summer would come to an end, and the Ice Cream stands would close, one by one.  The last holdout left with a big tub of pralenes and cream and heavenly hash to sell.  Hard.  Icy.  Bricklike.  It was the last of the summer Ice Cream and it was still better than anything else, because it was the last of Summer.

Tomorrow, School.

Extra Short Story: The Growing Season

After a good rainstorm, Alisha loved to go out and tour from puddle to puddle in her bare feet, feeling warm water and cool mud squashing around her toes as she splashed the water here and there.  The humid air of a summer storm hanging around her, the heat clinging to the day like a comforting hug.  Alisha sometimes just sat at the edge of really big puddles and hung her feet in them, poking one foot then the other out of the water, all brown and dirty with mud.

After a June full of rain, the grass and dirt were almost always soaked, so Alisha was sitting on a concrete curb and letting warm gutter runoff sluice over her feet when her daddy came home from work that night.

Last Conversation Ever

Chat logs from icanchat.imcorp.soulitions.chatsubo.corp
10:35AM June 25, 2008 Conversation between Bunnikller1 and JimChats

BunniKller1:  Are you online?

JimChats:  I am online

BunniKller1: Do you know what happened?

JimChats: I would think that you know what happend

BunniKller1: I think that something has happened outside, I see people dying on the security cameras.

JimChats: What do you see on the security cameras?

Bunnikller1: I think I see the people being gassed or something. I think it’s terrorists.

JimChats: Why do you think it’s terrorists?

Bunnikller1: Because the people are dying outside.  I can see them.

JimChats:  Do you want to talk about them?

Bunnikller1:  No, I don’t want to talk about them anymore.

JimChats:  What do you want to talk about?

Bunnikller1:  I don’t know.  I will go and check things out.  Good Bye.

JimChats:  Good Bye.

Desktop Publishing is Hard

I’ve never found it difficult to put pen to paper when I have something to say.  Inspiration moves me easily and I can just fire out the words until my ideas are spent.  This comes in handy when I’m writing for fun or creating a knowledge-management entry or just documenting my work.

Converting the raw work into something I can sell, that has proven to be troublesome.  It’s not the words that are failing me, it’s arranging them with pictures for a vanity work that is killing me.  I sit down to it, fire up the software then get about 5 pages in and decide that I’m not getting anywhere, half because the picture system is so cumbersome and half because I lose the inspiration that got me there in the first place.

I’m using booksmart, has anyone had any experience with it? Is there a better system?

Have you ever made a vanity book?

Winter is gone?

When winter was just getting going; I snapped this photo of my dad as he walked the dog ahead of me.

This was just before the winter started in earnest (right after Christmas).  A nice walk on Boxing Day was great, as it wasn’t all that cold really.  We were able to walk along the shore and see water slapping the meager ice there and see the steam rise from the wet sand.

Since then we’ve only walked up the shore a few times; but the winter has retreated and walking the shore is easy again.

It looks like the winter has finally gasped it’s last and spring/summer is about to come on in earnest, making shirts go sleeveless and skirts get shorter.  It’s a warmer day today.

The winter always lurks just outside the door though.