Saturday, December 27, 2003

TNT: Ch. 12

Two agonizing hours later, Vlad and his new-found friend were walking out of the hospital into a cool fall Illinois day. Vlad didn't have a clue where Eric and Gina were, but he figured they'd all meet up at the factory. This quickly ceased to be a concern when he spotted them walking out of a house together.
"How long was I in that coma," he joked, "That you two have bought a house here and are living together?"
"Nonsense, Vlad," Gina quipped back, "I'd never be living with him when we're still engaged."
A look of understanding passed over his face. "So the ring was from you, and not a lobster."
"Yes," she answered in slight confusion, noticing the crustacean for the first time.
"I was wondering when someone was going to mention that lobster," Eric chimed in, "Why is it covered in symbols?"
Suddenly Gina looked scared. "Vlad," she said in a slow, scared voice, "Let me see that lobster." He brought it closer to her. "Get rid of it. Let it go."
"I do not see what you have against my lobster friend. He may have odd body art, but there could be many reasons for-"
"Vlad, I don't want to talk about it. Please get rid of that lobster. For me. It will be fine on it's own."
"I would oblige you, Miss Gina, but I can't get rid of it. It follows me if I put it down." He demonstrated by setting it down and walking for a few paces. The lobster followed, with alarming speed.
"Well," she relented, "Just keep it away from me."
"Very well."
They walked in silence for a little longer.
"Gina," Eric began, "Why did you-"
"I said I didn't want to talk about it."
They walked the rest of the way to the factory (about ten feet) in silence.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

TNT: Ch. 11

Vlad awoke the next morning to find his finger clamped in a lobster claw.
"Ow!" he shook the lobster off of his hand, but seeing lying on the ground, immediately felt sorry. (He also wondered why it was covered with occult symbols, but that was a minor detail.)
"Small crustacean, I did not mean to hurt you, but why were you clawing at my rin- Wait a minute - This is not my ring! I have no rings. Perhaps the lobster was giving it to me as a gift. Here, you may have it back." But it wouldn't come off. Try as he might, it was stuck.
At this point, the nurse, having heard the "Ow!" rushed in. "Mr. Bergljotssen, You're up!!" she cried.
"Please call me Vlad. And we have this kind creature to thank for my recovery, " he gestured toward the lobster, "Modern medicine is a wonderful thing."
"Mr Bergljotssen, that lobster is not affiliated with this hospital! I will remove it immediately."
"Ma'am, I owe this lobster much. Let me keep it here."
The nurse had a concerned look on her face. "Let's finish up your paperwork and get you checked out. You can take it with you when you leave.'
"Very good," replied Vlad as he scooped up the creature, "It reminds me of a pet I had when I was a boy. Of course, he was a crayfish and not a lobster, but times were tough in the old country and only the rich had lobsters, and they mostly ate them. (Not that I can blame them; lobsters are quite delicious in the right sauce. Anyway..."
As he talked, the nurse was having the sort of thoughts health care professionals are generally ashamed of, namely "I liked him better in a coma."

Friday, December 19, 2003

TNT: Ch. 10

"Gina!! Gina!!! umm... Annette!!!" Eric ran through the street yelling, but to no avail. This was odd because Wheatsfield was not a big place. There was the junkyard, the hospital, and the Imini building, along with sme scattered houses, a store, and a gas station. Eric really was running through THE street. As he ran, he noted the astounding lack of theaters and felt a pang of guilt. Perhaps Gina was better off without him.
"Eric!" uttered a familiar voice, "Stop screaming your head off. You should be with Vlad."
Gina was poking her head out the door of one of the houses."
"He's awake, Gina! He's gonna stay there till morning. But I had to find you. I'm sorry. I had my priorities screwed up. But, now that we're all back together again, we should visit the factory. We're here anyway."
She thought for a long moment.
"Okay. We'll go in the morning. Until then, I'm spending the night here. I'll ask Mrs. Butterworth if you can too."
"You're rooming with a stranger?"
"You pick up a few things when you live on the road. She seemed nice enough. Hold on."
She popped her head in and closed the door. A few minutes later it was back.
"There's only one spare bed."
"Oh," he said awkwardly, "so we sha-"
She slapped him. "I meant you'd be sleeping on the couch."
"Gotcha." They went in, ready to finally end a long hard day.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

TNT: Ch. 9

Rob Bluntz was Silver Moose of the Order of Floobel, a powerful position among the Followers of the Whey. It meant he was next in line to be gold Moose, which was the highest position in the order of Floobel, the second highest among the order. It was a good position, but at some point everything had gone wrong. Currently, he was standing at a crossroads outside Wheatsfield, Illinois, trying to consult the Sacred Lobster of Bune-Doom, whom he had been carrying in a special lobster satchel (The Blessed Lobster Satchel of the Everlasting Fish, Cheesecake Forever Be with Him). It had stopped indicating a direction, which either meant he was at the right spot, or the lobster was hungry. The problem was that Rob had run out of Holy Lobster Food and to feed the Sacred Lobster anything else was blasphemy. Of course, he had the authority to bless lobster food, but he needed running water and a goat to sacrifice.
It was just as he was debating this that he got hit in the head by a toaster and knocked out cold. The lobster wriggled out of the satchel and scuttled off.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Comment This!

A guy named Nik at has a free comment hosting service that I'm now using for this. Shout out to Nik, and if you're reading this I will PayPal you the two dollars soon.

Monday, December 01, 2003

TNT: Ch. 8

She was awakened by a mad shouting at the door.
"You have to let me in! My friend is in there! Vlad!"
"No, but practically! He's my best friend!"
"What's his last name?"
It seemed that Eric was here. She'd bail him out.
"I can't believe you, brother! Forgetting my fiance's last name, on the way to the wedding! And after what happened to him, because of your lousy driving!"
"But that's what I came to tell you... sis. I finished talking to the insurance company and-"
"Oh get on in!" said the fed up nurse, "But don't be staying the night!"
Once out of earshot, they resumed their conversation.
"Fiance?" asked Eric.
"Well, they've got some stupid rule about staying the night here. Anyway, what's the deal?"
"We've got no car and almost no money. But I have a quest, and I will-"
"Your quest has your friend in a coma. Let's get our priorities straight."
Eric tried to interrupt her but was shushed.
"No, let me finish. This isn't my quest and it isn't my fight, but this morning I gave up my dream of being on Broadway to get in a car with a crazy man because I thought he had a vision and a quest. Since then it's been one bad thing after another. I'm only still here because poor Vlad got sucked in like I did and someone should stay with him. Now that you're here, I think it's your responsibility. Try that on for a quest."
She stormed out of the hospital, leaving Eric at Vlad's bedside.
For a moment, everything was quiet, except for the beep...beep...beep of Vlad's heart moniter.
"Vlad. Poor Vlad. I did suck you in, and I got sucked in too. To something bigger than me, something I don't understand. A crazy dream about a new toaster, that would be better than the old one. It could still be out there. Who knows? Who cares? All I know is that I ran into my old toaster today, and it's as malicious as ever. As much as I'd like to go home and call it quits, I don't want that toaster and its brethren to be all there is. I couldn't live in a world like that! I'm going to find a real toaster! A good toaster! A just toaster!"
"And I will join you, Eric Smellick!" said Vlad sitting bolt upright.
"What happened?" he asked more calmly.
"Its a long story, but if you want a place to sleep tonight, pretend to be in a coma."
"And what will you do?"
"I'm going to find Gina!"

TNT: Ch. 7

Gina had been waiting for most of the day. She'd used some valuable food money to eat at the hospital, but was weary of where to sleep. By her original calculations, she was in New York by now. There was some margin for error financially, but not much. The best thing to do, she concluded, was to sit by Vlad's bedside all night. She understood that it was a common practice for family members or close friends of injured people. Of course, he was almost a complete stranger, but it was a place to stay. She had almost dozed off, when a nurse came in.
"Excuse me, ma'am, are you kin?"
"Not exactly," she replied, sensing trouble. "How's he doing?" she changed the subject.
"He's in a coma, didn't they tell you?"
"I must have... forgotten." In fact, the doctors had been keeping her out of the loop all day.
"Well, if you're not kin I'm afraid you'll have to come back tomorrow. We had to do that after we had bums sleeping by random beds."
"Please," she said, discreetly slipping one of her rings onto Vlad's finger, "Vlad and I are... were... engaged -" at this she began to cry.
The nurse looked uneasy.
"Well, I guess that's alright dear. Take care."
She left. That was close. Her years of fake crying to get her way with her parents had paid off. But how long could she keep this up? Oh well, it was a problem for tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Fun with the Template

In case you hadn't noticed, I added a new item to the sidebar- Stories. Currently, this is completely useless. However, should I ever start multiple stories, this will link to the archive where a specific story begins. Also, I just wanted to see if I could do it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

TNT: Ch 6

Eric's day as not going much better. He'd gotten away from the cops once they were satisfied that he wasn't drunk, the owner of the tree didn't press charges, and the paramedics said Vlad was gonna be okay. His insurance agents, however, weren't helpful. Because the crash was a result of his Attention Deficit Disorder, his medical insurance and car insurance were each jumping on the chance to make the other one pay up, and he was the go-between. A few hours of this had used up his daytime minutes and his quarters, and it wasn't looking like he'd get a new car anytime soon.
After he'd squared everything away, he rode down to the junk heap in the tow truck that was taking his car away. He figured it would get him closer to Wheatfield, so there'd be a shorter walk to the hospital.
The junk heap was huge. He walked around, carrying the box of stuff that was once the contents of his car, marvelling at the place, and the facts of life it represented. Nothing lasts forever. Sooner or later, junk ends up here. Then he saw it: the remains of his old toaster.
"It can't be," he thought out loud, "This is Wheatsfield!"
But sure enough, it was. He knew that toaster anywhere. It was the chunk that had stayed together- half a slot, half the handle, the settings knob. It was singed from the explosion. But it still had the same evil look.
You can't get rid of me, it seemed to say, I exploded and ruined your kitchen, and the bitterness I left you with sent you on a stupid, reckless quest. You almost got someone killed. You thought you had the last word, but I'm still with you, and You Can't Get Rid Of Me.
But he could. Filled with rage at the appliance that had used him, was still using him, he drop kicked it. It soared across the junkyard fence.
"You haven't beaten me, toaster!" he shouted, "And you won't. I'm going to the hospital, and then I'm finishing my quest! I will find the perfect toaster!"
With that, he stormed out.
Two tow truck drivers were watching from afar.
"Y'know, Hank, It's a good thing he said he was going to the hospital."
"Yeah, but even so. When that toasters hits somebody, It's us'll get the blame."
"Ain't that just the way it is, Hank? Aint it?"
"Durn tootin', Jeb. Durn tootin'"

Monday, November 24, 2003

TNT: Ch 5

Gina was sitting in the front seat of the ambulance. They'd said mild concussion. That meant things could still turn out ok. She could have left; she wasn't involved in this. She'd met these guys an hour ago, and she had left things before that were much closer to her. But right now, she was needed. Eric had to talk to the police; they suspected he was drunk or asleep at the wheel. She wondered herself. When he went off the road he was just staring straight ahead.
Well, anyway, she felt someone should be with Vlad when he woke up. She was almost looking forward to seeing what the guys would do once they reached Wheatfield. Well, they'd never reach it now.
"We're here, Miss. Wheatfield Community Hospital," the driver informed her.
Or not.
"We're taking your friend inside. You should come; you might need to sign some things."
They moved inside. She signed some papers, even though she didn't know if she had any right to. Attempts to contact Vlad's family had been fruitless, so there was no one else. She went outside to the waiting room. What a name, she thought, what a perfectly ironic name for a room. She sat down and waited.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A note about short chapters

I've decided not to try to write book length chapters. For me, a chapter is a scene. A split chapter is only if I've run out of time to write a complete thought. So basically, a chapter is an entry, an entry is a chapter, and that's okay.

TNT: Ch. 4

Five miles later, everything suddenly caught up with Eric. Gina was talking to Vlads about the finer points of the Atlantic Cod, when it hit him.
'This morning, I was buying a toaster. I never liked my old toaster. It was mean. At least I thought it was mean. When did I start thinking it had a personality? Oh well. I did start thinking it and that's what got me here. Here, in my car, with a strange, possibly crazy Norwegian man with a Russian name and an equally strange, though admittedly better looking hitchhiker, on my way to a toaster factory, to ask them deep questions about toaster nature. What happened to my sanity? What happened to my normal life?'
"What happened to the road and why are we headed into a tree!?!" Gina interrupted.
Unfortunately it was too late. He slammed on the brakes, but felt the jolt as the car impacted with the tree, and the billowing airbag in his face. Everything slowed down, as the car reeled back from the impact. He saw Gina out of the corner of his eye, she looked fine, but Vlad had blood streaming down his face. 'Oh No,' thought Eric, 'What have I done?'

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

TNT: Intermezzo

This might be good time to explain seating arrangements. It might not, but that's what's happening so get with it. When Vlad and Eric first entered the car in ch. 1 (continued), Eric was driving and Vlad was sitting next to him. This is the logical way for two people to ride in a car together. Then Eric, realizing he was going nowhere fast, let Vlad drive there while he jumped in back (Ch. 2). So how did they end up switching places between then and chapter 3, when Eric is quite clearly driving and Vlad is in the back seat?

They switched, at a rest stop, because Vlad was tired. Now back to the story.

Friday, October 17, 2003

TNT Ch. 3

The road to Wheatsfield was long and after only an hour, Eric was tired of Vlad's stories. So, when he saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road, and she didn't look like a serial killer, he pulled over. Plus, she was pretty cute.
"I'm headed for New York," she said, "Going that way?"
He wasn't.
"No, but anything New York's got, Wheatsfield Illinois' got better."
"Including Broadway?"
"You've never heard of the Wheatsfield Theatre Strip?"
"Nor have I," piped up Vlad from the back seat.
"Well, it's Wheatsfield's best kept secret."
"Everything in Wheatsfield is it's best kept secret," she said, "Since no one's heard of it at all! Now, can you take me where I want to go or not?"
"Okay, sounds good." She got in the car. "My name's Annette, but you can call me Gina."
"Sure, why not," replied Eric, who had long since given up on sanity, "We're on the quest for the perfect toaster."
"Sounds fun," she replied, and they were on the road again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

TNT: Chapter 2

It's all very well and good to dream the impossible dream and all that, but what never comes up in the original vow is what exactly you do once the wild winds of fortune have carried you onward. THis is the problem Eric was facing, having gotten as far as his car with Vlad and not having a clue where to go next. Not wanting to look stupid in front of the large Norwegian man, who really seemed to admire him, Eric just started driving. To break the akward silence, he struck up a conversation.
"So, Vlad," he asked, "Where ya from?"
"Norway originally. I came to this country with my parents when I was 12. I remember it was just after we moved in that my father bought our first toaster. It was an old used toaster, that had seen too much burning and overbuttering in it's time. It was bitter. And somehow, the toast was bitter too. I remember when Father brought it home, he said 'Boy, this is America. A land where you can put your bread in a box, and it comes out better.' and Mother replied 'Don't listen to your father. We had a better toaster than this in the old country.' Ahh, those were the days." He fell silent.
"So," asked Eric, "If you don't mind my asking, Why are you called Vlad? Isn't that a Russian name?"
"My father always loved America, and wanted to give me a good american name. Trouble was, the only American names were the ones off the news. And one day when my parents were watching the news the name Vladimir was in it, and my father fell in love with it. Of course, later they found out it was Russian, but it was too late. I tell ya, though, must confuse the helvete out of the census bureau!" At this he laughed very hard, despite the fact that it wasn't funny.
"Yeah." Eric replied. He had stopped listening to Vlad anyway, and was desperately trying to decide where to find this toaster. Other stores would probably have the same problem, as would garage sales. Who would know about toasters, though?What about toaster makers? That was it!
"Vlad, is the box to my old toaster in the back seat?"
"Take the wheel for a minute." Eric climbed back to the back seat. Looking back, he would question the wisdom of letting Vlad drive his car, but now he was on a mission. He looked at the box. Where was it? There!

Send questions, comments, or complaints to:
Imini Appliance Company
17768 Sandusky Blvd
Wheatsfield, IL

What luck! Wheatsfield was only four hours away.
"Mr. Smellick," came the voice from the front seat, "I have no problem driving but, um, where are we going?"
"Wheatsfield, Illinois, Vlad. Onward, to victory."

Monday, October 13, 2003

TNT: Chapter 1 continued

Five minutes later, Vlad walked in. Vlad was a heavy-set norwegian man with dark blonde hair and a bushy mustache. He had a big grin on his face. He spoke in a deep voice as he extended his hand for a handshake. It was a bone-cruncher.
"Name's Vladimir," he said, "But you can call me Vlad. I'm the anthropro- antherpor- the new toaster soul guy."
"Eric Smellick."
"So, what are we looking for today? A vicious guard toaster? A generally nice but prone to fits of toast-burning anger toaster? Maybe a timid, ineffective one?"
"I'm just looking for a respectful, obedient toaster," Eric cheerfully replied.
Vlad's grin fell. "I was afraid you'd say that. I'm afraid we don't have any of those."
"Why not!?!" Eric asked, incredulous.
"As far as I know, there are none. Toasters just aren't that kind."
"I refuse to accept that! There are good toasters, there must be! Toasters were created to serve us, and somewhere, some toaster must do that! If you don't don't have it, I'll look elsewhere. I'll search unto the ends of the earth! Mark my words, Vladimir, I will find this toaster."
Immediately Vlad fell to the ground in awe. "Such fire! Such passion! I will follow you, Eric Smellick, on your quest for the perfect toaster, and together we shall find it!"
And they set out.
"Wait a minute. Don't you work here?" asked Eric.
Vlad walked back into the store. "Jack, I'm going on a quest cover for me!"
And they set out for real.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The New Toaster: Chapter 1

The toaster aisle at Sears was nothing if not extensive. Eric was overwhelmed. The four slot, toasters, the "smart" toasters, the extra large toasters that could fit a full 16-inch pizza; they were all there. Toasters in every color, every shape, every size. A whole world of toasters, waiting to be taken in, waiting to serve. Or possibly to destroy.
This was Eric's problem. He could see everything about these toasters, but there was one thing not written on the box. He could not look into their souls. How was he to find a toaster that would be kind and not cruel? He decided to ask a salesperson.
"So you want to find out about the souls of toasters?" asked the confused and disgruntled salesman.
"I'll go get Vlad, he's our anthropomorphic toaster specialist."
Could it be? Sears had finally hired an anthropomorphic toaster specialist? They actually read what was put in the suggestion box? Things were finally going well for Eric.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

The New Toaster: Prologue

Eric Smellick was finally buying a new toaster. For many people, this would be a routine task, but Eric was enjoying every minute of it. He had hated the old toaster with a passion, but it hadn't given him the pleasure of destroying it; it had exploded instead, leaving him with nothing to do but pick up the pieces. And the explosion, he was sure, was a blaze of glory for the toaster, as it took the last two Toaster Scrambles with it, and left a huge scorch mark in his kitchen.
But none of that mattered. What mattered was that the new toaster was coming, and it would be better. It would be a kind, just toaster, existing only to please its master, instead of to cause him pain and anguish. The trick would be getting such a toaster for under 25 bucks. But Eric was up to the challenge. He entered the department store.
And so it begins...