Saturday, December 17, 2005

TNT: Ch 55

James Brixon stared at the swimming pool outside his hotel. He could see the specks that were his family down there; his teenage daughter Lily sitting on a chair reading her book while the littluns played in the water. He should probably join them - it was after all a family vacation.
The lawyers had left an hour ago and he knew he was in good hands and desperately wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing with his family, but he couldn't get the springs out of his mind. He had seen what they could do, and he could only imagine what dubious use the State of Florida would find for rhem, if they didn't just stick them in a box to be undiscovered again. He would find a real use for them. After all, he'd discovered them, he and Sam. They were the ones who'd been coming here every year diving in the same spring, deeper each year. They were the ones who found the secret rock shelf, and saw the glint of mysteriously unrusted steel. The Springs of Life were clearly theirs to have.
James hated the lack of control. Sam was obviously the one qualified to handle this. He was a lawyer. But he was only 25 - a kid. And James wasn't sure how far he trusted him. I mean, they'd been coming here at the same time and diving together for six years, but how well did he really know Sam? Well, better than any other lawyer, and at least Sam was doing it for relatively cheap. Ha! How money is relative, he thought. Sam's relatively cheap rates, if they lost this thing, would be a serious blow on the family. With Lily heading off to college in a year, one of the cars on the fritz, and Jimmy needing braces, they simply couldn't afford to lose the case.
The sound of the hotel door opening and the beep of the keycard startled James from his reverie. His wife, Connie, had entered, looking surprisingly good in her one-piece and white towel for a women of 46.
"James," she said, "You should come out and play with the kids. Chase really wants to play that game with you, you know the one-"
"I know," he said. "I guess I'll go get my suit on."
"How did the meeting with the lawyers go?"
"I don't trust lawyers, Connie. I never have."
"Well what about Sam?"
"Sam's a nice boy and a good diver, but when he puts on that suit it's like he's a different person. He gets all lawyery."
"Well, Dear, we can always just call it off and head ho-"
"No!" James nearly screamed. There was a stunned silence.
"No," he repeated more calmly, "This is really important, honey. If we can get these springs it'll all work out. I know it."
"Will it pay our legal fees? Will it get Lily through college? Fix the car?"
"I don't know, ok? I just know we have to get them. They're ours rightfully and we have to get them. Just trust me. Now I'm going to get my suit on and go swimming."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

TNT- Ch. 54

It was about 20 minutes later that Eric burst into the dining room.
"We got it Vlad! We found the lead - it's in Florida!"
"Is it now?" asked Vlad, startled by the sudden interruption to the Berljottsennian breakfast conversation.
"It is," said Gina, "DeLeon Springs - listen: Legal Dispute Arises over 'Springs of Life' - Mike Dodson, Associated Press - Legend has it that Juan Ponce DeLeon, the discoverer of Florida, searched his whole life for the Spring of Eternal Life (also popularly referred to as the Fountian of Youth). Now a small group of believers near DeLand claim they know why - the name, they say, refers to metal coils and not to a fountian of water. And furthermore, they say that they've found the springs in a cave beneath the popular tourist location of DeLeon springs.
"These are definitely the springs DeLeon was looking for," said James Brixon, one of the divers who discovered the springs, "Their life giving properties are obvious."
The group has refused to release proof or any specific details about the springs' properties, but this has not stopped a dispute from arising over ownership.
"Of course we don't believe these springs have magical properties," said State Park Ranger Melissa Hastings, "But they do seem to be rather old and they were found within the park grounds. They're clearly the property of the state of Florida." - It goes on for a while, but that's the important stuff."
"That certianly sounds promising. When do we leave?" asked Vlad.
"As soon as we can," Eric cut in, "We have to get there before the legal dispute is over if we're to have any chance of getting them for ourselves."
"But we have no claim to them at all!" exclaimed Vlad, "We have absolutely no legal standing in this case."
"We'll think of something," said Gina, "But we should really head out right away."
"About that," said Vlad, "Do you think you two can handle this one without me?"
Eric and Gina were taken aback.
"What?!?" they said in unison.
"My whole family is here. I haven't seen them all in a long time. I care about family. Why back when I was a wee boy and we'd just come to this country, we still had family in the old country. We wrote to them all every week, even if there was nothing to say. Even when we hadn't gotten a reply for many weeks and then we got a reply from Uncle Sven telling us to please stop sending things to him, we kept writing. Why? Because family is important to us. Now I consider you like my family now, but my real family is returning to the old country for a family vacation, and I can't leave them. Plus, I can investigate that tongue. Remember, I told you about the tongue? It might be the Golden Handle. I was hoping you guys could come along, but you've got to get those springs."
There was silence (a very odd experience for most of the Berljottsens) for several seconds.
"Alright," said Eric, "We'll just get packed up and head out. We'll keep the cell phone, you keep the lobster, ok?"
"Ok. You are not angry with me, are you, Eric?"
"No, Vlad, we're not angry. This is just the way it has to be. Keep in touch, we'll meet up in a week or so."
So Eric and Gina packed up, said goodbye to the family Berljottsen, and jumped into the Ringo Harrison, feeling like the little car was as big and empty as Iceland itself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The motorcycle weaved through the traffic jam like threads on a loom. Screaming to the world with its lime green exterior, it seemed to know just when, where, and how much to turn. The minute it would seem there was nowhere to turn there the opening would be and the motorcycle would just slide through, as if it had always known it would be there.
In, out, in, out; it moved among all 5 lanes of the intersection. The drivers angrily honked and yelled at the mysterious driver, clad in tight black leather and a jet black helmet that revealed nothing of the biker’s face. Presently, the rider looked up, directly at Charlie and waved. Charlie dropped the binoculars in surprise.
“Todd, Todd, come in!” Charlie shouted into his shortwave.
“Todd, she waved at me!”
“The biker chick?”
“Yeah! Looked right up at me and waved, didn’t miss a beat.”
“Maybe she just likes helicopters.” Todd was annoyingly calm. Why didn’t he see it?
“Todd, this chick’s been cruising through a traffic jam at 15 clicks. When would she have had time to scan the sky for helicopters? She knew right where I was, looked right up at me.”
“What’s your point Charlie?”
“She knew I was up here. She knows what’s going on. This isn’t just some Harley trying to get ahead of traffic. She’s coming for us.”
“I don’t think so, Todd. I think we have a code red.”
“Shit, Charlie, are you sure?” Todd’s tone had changed completely. “I can’t sound the alarm unless you’re sure.”
“Do it, Todd. And fast. She’s almost there.”

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Mystery Stories (Death in the Elevator)

Several months ago, while bored on the way to Florida by van, I engaged my family in a quite remarkably silly game. We would construct four mystery stories, each of us writing a section of a story and then trading them around and each writing the next section of a different story, without talking about them aloud. But we added a catch: In our mystery stories, the last section would be written first, the first section second, the second section third, and the third section last . The results were as different as they were hilarious; some nearly perfect, others so wrought with continuity issues it makes your head spin. We ended up with two semi-traditional mysteries, a sci-fi mystery, and a love story. I'll be posting these stories over the next several days. So now, without further ado, the first mystery story: Death in the Elevator.

Trent Donovan woke up on the morning of Thursday, October 9th just as he did every other morning. He ate a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios, drank a glass of avacado juice, then looked at his agenda for the day. He was meeting with a client on the 23rd floor of the brand new Swankton Inn. Trent was a private investigator. The client, one Jai O'Malia, was convinced someone was trying to kill him, though Trent wasn't clear on why. The 21-year old gay Scottish banker was a good-natured sort of man, always friendly and ready to help out. In fact, Trent was quite looking forward to seeing him again.
As he walked into the Swankton, he couldn;t help but be consumed by the Swankiness. This went beyond Swanky. It was so elegant , refined, and expensive as to be quite impossible to describe in a single adjective. Trent walked up to the elevator and pressed the call button.
It was quite a long wait, but eventually an elevator showed up. The door opened and Trent walked in. THe elevator was quite fulll already. In the back was a small woman with a bird on her shoulder. Next to her was a portly fellow with a finely trimmed beard and an enormous nose. By the controls was the young elevator boy, and standing opposite him was Jai. A paragon of irrepressible flamboyance, , he was wearing a purple kilt that clashed horribly with his argyle socks.
"Sorry about all this," said the elevator boy, "I'm Johnny and I'm the lift operator. This is the only elevator that goes to 'Tres Cher', the Swankton's unique dining experience, so I'm afraid it's a bit crowded. Also, please watch your step as this was supposed to be a glass-bottomed elevator and the glass doesn't arrive until Tuesday."
Trent edged his way around the gaping hole in the floor towards where Jay was conversing with the portly fellow.
"Well Dr. Bates," he was saying, "That's one way to look at it. But as I always say, better a clean kilt then tattered knickers!"
Dr. Bates forced a laugh, althought he obviously didn't get it.
"Woof," said the bird.
"23rd floor please," Trent said.
"Can do," Johnny replied, "But it may take some time; the elevators been running a little slow ever since the meteor shower."
"I guess that's what happens when you build an elevator in space," Jey commented, wondering to himself why the spelling of his name kept changing.
"When I loaned out the money for this hotel, I told Mr. Bontregger he should put it in Arizona, on the plot of land I was going to sell him that used to be an ancient Navajo burial ground. I ended up selling it to Arizona municipal landfill instead, and probably upset a lot of Navajos in the process."
There was an awkward silence during which the elevator party contemplated the meaning of this shameless exposition.
"So," said Mrs. Bontregger, "You're the man who loaned my husband the money for this hotel in space."
"Ay," said Jéi, in a Scottish accent that did not match the suddenly French spelling of his name.
"Do you know my husband spent four years in prison and lost control of his right leg because of you?" Mrs. Bontregger scolded.
"Whatever do you mean?" Trent asked, suddenly curious.
"I'll explain in the next scene," Mrs. Bontregger promised. And she did.
"Dr. Bates," Trent said, trying to begin a little light-hearted conversation after that unusual exchange, "Did you sprain that ankle playing hopscotch?"
"Golf," he stated quickly, "Eh - nineteenth hole - some hooligan ran into me with his golf cart."
"Are you quite a golfer, then?" Jay asked, returning to an earlier spelling of his name.
"Yes, since I was a... er... wee lad growing up in Scotland."
They wereall pondering how a man could be born in Scotland yet have such distinctly American Indian features. Suddenly, the elevator stopped. The doors opened but there was no one waiting to get on.
"AAEEAAH!! He's Dead!!" screamed an unrecognized voice, "CALL THE POLICE!"
Through the space where the glass was supposed to be , Trent peered out and could see a crowd gathering and the kilt-clad body lying on the ground below. But before he spoke, the elevator doors slammed shut and the elevatorbegan to shake violently. Trent looked from one passenger's face to the next as they all grabbed frantically for the handrails. Neither Jai nor Jay was on board.
The bird flew hysterically from one side of the elevator to the other while Johnny lunged for the controls. Dr. Bates sucked calmly on his lemon popsicle.
"I'll certianly have to complain about this elevator service," remarked Dr. Bates.
"Oh, just shut up and eat your popsicle before you get the floor all sticky," Mrs. Bontregger blurted, "What's become of our Scottish friend, then?"
Trent and Johnny collided as they both reached for the emergency controls.
"Do you have a liscence to operate this elevator ?" demanded the bird.
"I used to be quite an accomplished elevator operator myself," offered Mrs. Bontregger.
"But she had to stop," interjected the bird, "Because of her phlebitis."
The elevator lurched to a halt, and everyone panicked.
Mrs. Bontregger screamed.
Johnny the elevator boy shouted, 'Hey now, that's my job!"
Dr. bates fainted, and Duke began to bark incessantly.
Meanwhile, Trent calmly tied his shoelaces.
"The reason I stopped the elevator," he said cooly, "Is that I have deduced the identity of the killer."
All eyes rested uneasily on the gaping hole in the floor.
"Only one person on this elevator had motive, opportunity, and... what's the other thing?"
"Strength of will?" suggested Mrs. Bontregger.
"Flatulence in the extreme?" tried Johnny.
"No, no! Means, that's it!" Trent went on, "Only one person, and that is our friend Dr. Bates."
"But how, and why?" asked Johnny, nervously eying the unconcious portly physician.
"How? While Johnny was showing us the elevator's light switch, the not-so-good Doctor kicked him into the gaping hole. As for why, that one was a bit trickier. It was Dr. Bates' comment on the game of golf that tipped me off. A real golfer would never have-"
But trent's exposition was cut short by the doctor's abrupt awakening.
"Woof woof," went Duke.
"Nice work, Trent!" said Dr. Bates, "But you'll never take me alive!"
With that he jumped into the very hole with which he had dispatched his victim.
"But Trent," said Johnny, "We're so much closer to the bottom now, he'll survive."
"Iwouldn't count on it, Johnny, You see, while you were calming Duke, I switched the labels on the up and down buttons. In fact, we've been headed not toward the lobby but toward the revolving restaurant. I think our doctor will have a nice, long fall."
And they all had a good laugh and went up (down?) to the restaurant for dinner.

So that's the story! But now comes the fun part - the CHALLENGE! As I post these mystery stories, I'll be running a contest. Whomever accumulates the most points will be the winner, and will recieve one free commission from me - either a story or a paint at Blogg or a guest appearance in the toaster story- their choice. Points will be given as follows. Five points for being the first to guess, in the comments, where the seperation between the writers occurs. Hint: this time one segue is in the middle of a sentence. Ten points for correctly identifying who wrote each section (Myself, Nathan (who writes Proving Ground), our older brother Levi, or our mother). When I post the next story I'll post the winner and the correct answer if it was guessed. This will be the case for every section and then, after the last story, an extra round will be available to rack up more points. Remember, guessing first is part of winning so check back often!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Nuahcerpel 2

When I returned home, I found that my worst fears had been realized.
"M'lad! How couldja let one o' these, these things in here! Were ya that desperate to be rid o' me?"
"My good man! However could you have neglected to warn me about the presence of this creature in your home?"
The nuahcerpel and the leprechaun were locked in some kind of wrestling hold, with the leprechaun trying to bite Lord Godfry, who was holding the leprechaun's head at bay with his arm.
"I, uh, I..." I stammered.
"Well, don't just stand there, do something!" the taller, red clad creature yelled.
"If I could get rid of him, I would have, but..."
At this point something happened very fast. I'm not sure how, but somehow the nuahcerpel got the better of the leprechaun who, quickly realizing he was beaten, promptly vanished. The remaining man got up and dusted off his red overcoat.
"He'll be back," he said, "This is troublesome indeed. He'll be back and he'll bring an army. I am going to need backup."
"Yes. Though I had hoped to hide out here to get away from this tiresome struggle, I'm afraid that's no longer possible. So, instead, the rest of my family will be here first thing tomorrow morning. We'll be ready when the leprechauns arrive."
"How many people are we talking about here?"
"No more than 15, I should think."
15? I could never handle 15 more people. I struggled to think of an excuse.
"Is there any way you could stay somewhere else."
"I'm afraid not, my friend. The battleground will be here. If only you had told me. Now I must go and prepare."
And he promptly vanished. I was getting very tired of vanishing, but I knew at this point it was my turn. I grabbed my suitcase (still packed from Ireland) and began repacking it with anything I didn't want damaged. If my house was to be a battleground for Yriaf and Fairy folk, I wanted to protect as much of my stuff as possible. Appropriately enough for the mood, thunder crashed ominously as a rainstorm began outside my window. I began to wonder what the battle would entail. I doubted it would just be wrestling. Surely there was weaponry that the magically inclined used. My questions were answered when Lord Godfry came down the stairs with a sword and shield.
"You'll want to take these. I assume you'll be fighting for our side tomorrow?"
"Well, you're not just going to stand around are you? I know you only agreed to let me stay, but this is war."
"Lord Godfry, your beef is with the leprechauns, not mine. I'm not going to be a part of your battle. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving the house for a few days. When I come back, I expect this all sorted out."
Lord Godfry looked at me with a hard stare until he finally spoke.
"Go well friend. I hope for your sake we are victorious, because if the leprechauns win they won't leave your home. Goodnight."
I tried to sleep that night but there were popping noises all through the night as Nuahcerpels popped into my house. Several of them showed up in my room, mumbled apologies and walked out. Even the calming sounds of the storm failed to help me sleep.
The next morning I bid Lord Godfry goodbye and left. As I drove off I saw a short green army approach my house from the other direction. I looked forward instead. The rain had stopped and had left behind a near-perfect rainbow. I thought of the research I'd done on leprechauns. If they're all at my house, I thought, then who's...? Aw, what the hell. I drove as fast as I could toward the end of the rainbow. When the road was no longer useful I got out of my car and ran. The rainbow was fading, but the end was in sight. I knew logically this was impossible, yet there it was! And sitting there, at the end of the rainbow, was an unprotected pot of gold.
I picked up the pot of gold and slowly made my way to my car, then I drove to my brother's house, where I'd been planning to stay anyway. Once there, I switched the contents of my suitcase and the pot of gold and took my pot of stuff inside.
"Dave!," I yelled, "I need you to look after this for a while!"
I didn't wait for an answer. Slamming the suitcase of gold shut, I sped off toward my house.
The scene there was terrifying. The battle had not begun. Instead the Leprechauns and Nuahcerpels were lined up on either wall, completely decked out with weapons and armaments.
When I walked in, all eyes went to me. I held up a single gold coin.
"If any of you want to see the rest of this again," I said to the leprechauns, "You'll all get the hell out of my house before I get to ten. 1..."
The leprechauns stood, staring at me.
They looked from side to side nervously.
They began to run. The leprechauns were on my yard by 6.
And from there there's not much to tell. I gave the leprechauns their gold, and they said I could keep the pot. They've still got my suitcase. The nuahcerpels decided just to go home. Ultimately it was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Coffeestand Love Story

4:30. She had an hour and a half left in her shift. In the afternoon sun, it might as well have been a day. She needed a shower, and a change of clothes, and there wasn't a customer in sight. Every now and then a car would seem to be heading for the stand, but they all turned to leave the parking lot instead. There were hardly any bikes today; it was simply too hot. There had been one though. A boy with messy black hair. The boy came every Thursday (she worked Thursdays and the coffeestand) at about 4. He was sitting alone at the picnic table drinking his Smoothie, watching her. It was odd, a regular customer like this. The coffeestand was mainly for those who happened to be in the parking lot for some other errand and needed to pep up or cool down. But the boy was there every Thursday, working his way through the smoothie flavors. He was up to number 4, wildberry. She wondered idly if he'd stop coming after number 8, seasonal special pomegranate, or whether he'd just start over on the list.

He liked wildberry more than the other three. Or maybe he just appreciated it more in the heat. He shouldn't have come today, not in this heat. No one else was out here. Of course she'd see him looking at her, she'd know he was out here staring at her. But how could he not? Those beautiful curls, framing that face, that smile that made his heart melt. She had to have picked up that he was into her. She had to have already decided exactly how she would shoot him down if he ever got up his guts to make a move. But of course he wouldn't anyway. It had taken him a year and a half to ask out a girl he had every class with in school. He'd never be able to ask out this cute barista. He didn't even know her name.

The boy sipped his smoothie slowly, staring straight out in front of him, at her booth. He wasn't watching her at all, she thought. He's dreaming, staring into space. Just like I am. Only I have to be here to get paid. What's his excuse? He looks so intense. Maybe he's a newspaper food critic. Maybe he's trying to try every smoothie flavor so he can rate them for some article. Maybe I should have been more careful with his drink. She tied her curly blond hair into a ponytail as it had been a few minutes before and looked at her watch again. 4:45. She looked at the parking lot again. Nothing. Finally she got out her cell phone and started on a new game of Tetris. Maybe she could beat her record.

He'd never figured out what it was she did with that phone. The first time he'd thought she was calling someone, her boyfriend perhaps. Of course she would have a boyfriend, why wouldn't she, a girl like that. Everything came back to how foolish he was to be even thinking about her. He looked down at his smoothie. Half gone. Soon he'd finish and go home. He'd miss his chance and bike home, thinking about how discovering a new smoothie flavor was accomplishment enough for the day. And then he'd be back the next week, and the next, until one Thursday she would be gone, or school would start up and he would be gone. It was funny how he knew how pointless it was, yet he kept coming back. He did it, he reasoned, for the smoothies.

She was up to Level 8, but it wasn't looking good. She had gotten a few too many awkward blocks in a row and she was having a hard time making any rows at all. And now it was too late. Game over. She was bored of Tetris. She was bored of the coffeestand too, truth be told. She wasn't bored of the boy. She wondered if maybe she should go talk to him, strike up a conversation. Well, she couldn't do that, but she could call him over. But what if they had nothing in common? What if he came here to do deep thinking and she just interrupted him. She decided just to watch him. It was amazing the way he sat, thinking. She could see the thoughts running through his mind. She wondered what thoughts a boy like that could have that would trouble him so. Oh well, she thought, perhaps I'll never know.

The smoothie was gone. It was over. He got up and walked across the lot to the stand, and knocked on the window, setting his cup down on the ledge. She came, opened the window and took his cup as he headed back to his bike. She would close the window and it would be over.

She sighed when the boy left the cup and walked off. It had been the same the last three times. But this time, as she closed the window, he called to her.
She stopped, opened the window the rest of the way, and cocked an eyebrow as if to say "Yes?"

He paused. Why had he said hey? What would he say now? Something suave, he thought, something suave.
"That was a really good smoothie," he said, "My favorite flavor so far."
"Yeah," she replied, smiling her sweet smile, "It's my favorite for sure."
"Do you get free drinks, working here?"
"Just one a day."
An awkward silence. This would be it then. HE fastened his helmet and hopped on his bike, just as he heard her say, "Hey!"

She paused. She shouldn't have said hey. It was a stupid question. Well, she'd done it, she might as well finish what she started.
"What do you think about, when you sit out here and drink your smoothies? I see you out here everyday, just staring and thinking. What's it all about?"

He got off his bike and took off his helmet. He kicked down the kickstand and walked over to her, across the lot. This was it. Suddenly he didn't care. He'd come this far and he was going to try this. He would get shot down and it would hurt, but then it would be over.
"It's about you," he said, "I've been coming out here every Thursday since the first day I saw you, drinking smoothies and trying to get up the courage to ask you out."

She laughed. She couldn't help it. The boy was so red. It had obviously not been easy for him to say that and she knew it was horrible to laugh, but she found the whole situation so very funny. All these deep thoughts she had thought she'd read, and he was just another guy. She finished laughing, ran her fingers through her hair, smiled and said,

"What do you mean so?"
"Are you going to ask me out?"
He hadn't expected laughter. Right out laughing in his face was the worst thing that could happen, and now she still expected him to go through with it. It was like she was mocking him. He didn't need this. And yet... He'd come this far.
"Yeah, I think I am." He cleared his throat, and she giggled again. He'd hate her for it, but it was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard.
"When do you get off work?" She checked her watch.
"In 54 minutes."
"Would you like to meet me, in 54 minutes, over at that Chinese restaurant for some dinner?"
"You buying?"
"Ok, then. See you there."

Sunday, July 31, 2005

TNT: Ch. 53

Eric rather enjoyed the bike ride out to the city. He had been quite the recreational biker when he was younger, biking easily 10 miles every day. Obviously he wasn't quite as in shape anymore, but he still enjoyed the thrill of the ride, and was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which he made it to the town. He biked around for a while until he finally found a newspaper box. Parking his bike, he put a quarter in the old box, opened it up, snagged a paper - The Willowdale Whisperer - and sat down on a park bench to catch his breath and start looking for clues.
However, midway into his searching he was interrupted by a man in a trench coat and fedora sitting down next to him, his face buried under a paper.
"Are you Eric Smellick?" the stranger asked, not looking at him.
"Who wants to know?" asked Eric.
"I have information about the toaster."
The prophesy said the next clue would be in the news, but maybe that wasn't quite true. Maybe that was just a way to get him here to meet this person.
"I'll bite," he said, "I'm Eric. Whattya got?"
"Your quest isn't worth it - any of it. The toaster can't be made, and Master Lin does not have your best interest at heart. If you continue with the quest, bad things will happen. It's not worth it."
"That's a little unspecific."
"I'm sorry, it's all I can say. Don't go on with it - it's not worth it."
"Why trust a stranger over a proven friend?" Eric asked, but the man was already walking away.
"Don't say I didn't warn you!" he yelled as he walked.
Eric folded up his paper, but it in his back pocket, and hopped back on his bike.

When Eric returned to the house, the whole family was at the breakfast table. Mr. Berljottsen was telling a story about a postal service mix up in his slow gravelly voice. He seemed oddly frail for a man who had produced such robust children.
"...So when we got to the post office," he said, "There were three other -"
"There were four, Ulric - The woman with the dog, the two men with the scarves, and the doctor," Mrs. Berljottsen cut in.
Her husband pondered this.
"Right, so there were four other people there who'd gotten the same letter, and they were all complaining. Well, we didn't think we should butt in-"
"He wanted to push right through the line. I had to hold him back."
"Now that's not right..."
In the midst of this gripping narrative, Eric managed to catch Gina's greatful eye and pull her away from the table.
"Did you get the paper?" she asked, banana in hand, as they entered the parlor.
"Yeah, but something weird happened while I was out. Someone told me not to trust Master Lin; that bad things would happen if we finished the quest."
Gina frowned. "Well, who was it?"
"Didn't see his face. He was being very mysterious. But he knew my name."
"That's weird. Nobody knows we're here, even- Unless we're being followed."
"Could be. We're hardly inconspicuous. Do you think we should call Master Lin?"
"Well, he'd deny it either way, wouldn't he? Let's just look for that clue." He handed her half the paper. "Remember- Springs of life, Golden Handle, Casing of a lost soul."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

More and More Mortimer

The library had, then, been a dead end. Stashing the useless old book in Narrin's saddlebag, Mortimer hopped on his beloved steed and took off into the air. He knew that even with know working leads, tracking wasn't impossible. In his years of hunting dangerous criminals in the Queen's service he had learned several tricks and, more importantly, made several friends in high places. He was going to see one such friend now.
Far, far from Merk Heeliott, in the mountians of Dublane, she lived in her little stone house. She ate well, did her work, and no one bothered her without bringing a covered dish proportionate to the size of their question. She was Amarayne, the pot-luck Oracle, and Mortimer knew that if anyone could help him, she could.
He flew across the plains and the foothills, stopping the night in an old abandon shepherd's hut. The next day he journeyed into the mountains. As he approached the path to her hut he flew low and brought Narrin to a halt.
"Stay there, girl," he said, dismounting. As he walked up the path he saw the signs - 'Home of the Dublane Oracle,' 'Questions answered for Potluck items' 'Don't come this way without food, seriously.'
Further down the signs got more complicated:
Simple Questions
(e.g. Will my crops flourish this year?, Does she love me?)
Small side dish, relish tray, or jug of ale/ cider/ lemonade
And another:
Hard Questions
(e.g. What's wrong with my goat?, Could she ever love me?)
Small side dish or casserole, small dessert
Harder Questions
(e.g. How do I cure my goat?, How can I make her love me?)
Large dessert, large side dish or casserole, small main course item
And Finally:
Really Hard Questions
(e.g. How do I find the Sacred Goat of Hapzhorn's fury?, What is love anyway?)
Large meat animal, classy wine, really good fudge
*Please use microwave and refrigerator-safe dishes. The oracle cannot guarantee the return of your tupperware. No quiche, please. Existential questions may remain unanswered without refund.
Behind this last sign was the doorway. Mortimer walked through it to find himself in a dark, smoky room. Against the far wall was a table filled with the food items from earlier in the day.
In front of the door was a bench.
"Sit!" said a mysterious voice from the smoke.
"Nice catch today, Ama," said Mortimer, "Your reputation seems to have spread since the last time I saw you."
The voice changed, becoming less impressive and more incredulous, "Mortimer?... Mortimer Lima Bean?"
"The very same."
Immediately a rotund, middle-aged woman walked around the table to greet Mortimer with a big hug.
"Well, common inside! I'll close shop and we can have some food and catch up. A knight was in here asking about a dragon last week and he brought this exquisite fudge. I've been waiting for someone to share it with!"
"Well, actually I'm here on business..."
"What, the Queen's in trouble?"
"Not exactly. It's about me."
She looked a little surprised but, nonetheless pushed him through the door on the far side of the room.
"Listen," she said, "At least have a glass of wine while you tell me about it."
"You're too kind, Ama."
Inside the comfortably decorated hovel that was the interior of Amarayne's home, Mortimer told her the whole story.
"...So you see," he finished, "I need to know who this Franklin Pierce person is. Can you help me?"
"I'd love to! What did you bring?"
"Bring? We're old friends, I thought you could -"
"Honey, that's a fudge level question. Now I might be able to bump it down to macaroni and cheese for a friend, but I can't give out answers like that for nothing. I'd go out of business."
"I didn't charge when I saved you from those tigers!" Mortimer shouted, incensed.
"You were also saving the Queen, might I remind you, and I have repaid that debt already. Now are you sure you have nothing?"
"I have a few sandwiches I was saving for the trip home," he admitted.
"For a few sandwiches," she said, "And for you, Mortimer, I will give a hint."
"Alright," he replied. A hint was better than nothing after all.
"Ok. You sit tight, have some chips or cookies if you like, and I'll go commune with the Gods and get back to you."
As Mortimer munched his chips, the sounds of chanting, singing, wailing, whaling, fishing, and a weird unidentifiable "SPROING!" noise all drifted into the room. Finally, after 25 minutes, Amarayne emerged. When she spoke it was in the rich, possessed voice Mortimer had heard when he entered.
"The answer you seek is closer than you think. Look to the dead to find it."
"Thanks, Ama," he said.
"No prob, Mort," she replied, her voice normal once more, "And good luck!"
But Mortimer was already atop Narrin, sailing away from the mountians in search of food. He had, after all, just given away his lunch.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Jonah: Thomas I want to write but I don't much feel like working on one of my stories. I need a prompt.
Thomas: You're lost in Northern Iresland
Thomas: A man wearing all red approaches you
Thomas: go from there

I guess I probably should never have gone to Ireland in the first place. I don't know what I expected to find. Little green men hiding their pots of gold behind rainbows? Well, yes. That was what I was hoping for I admit. But any insight into the origin of the mysterious fellow who'd turned up in my pantry last St. Patrick's Day would have been helpful.
The fact is that I did go to Ireland, and now I was lost. Not just "which way do I turn?" lost but "am I actually still in Ireland?" lost. I'd been walking through the hills all day and though they were very picturesque I was getting hungry and tired and desperately hoping for some sign of civilization.
That was when he found me. A man approached me, dressed in the garb of an 19th century gentleman in a full vest and tails (but without the top hat) all in varying (but complimentary) colors of red. He was tall and lanky and had straight black hair, with a clean shaven face and round ears.
"Hello, sir," he said in a rich British accent, "You look to be a tad lost."
"More than a tad," I admitted greatfully, "Could you perhaps tell me how to get home?"
"I could indeed, dear sir, but nothing in this world is without a price. I myself have run into a spot of trouble around here and need a far away place to stay for a spell. Since you look to be a foreigner (an American I daresay) I wonder if you might offer your home?"
Well that certianly was not the fee I had expected, but in many ways I was gratified. After all, I had an extra room since Amelia left, and I wouldn't mind having a guest to take my mind off things. And of course, I thought, he might be some help with the Leprechaun problem. So I agreed.
The man (who introduced himself as Lord John Godfry) showed me that I was not, in fact, very far from a small Irish town where we stayed the night, agreeing to head to the airport in the morning. Oddly enough, this proved unneccessary as I woke up the next morning in my own bed. Confused, I walked downstairs to my kitchen where I discovered Lord Godfry still dressed as before and eating a bowl of Captian Crunch.
"I hope you don't mind," he said between bites, "But I'm not terribly fond of those airplanes so I got us home in my own way, which was after all a tad faster."
"But," I asked incredulously, "How did you -"
"Well, I suppose I should fess up. There are some things I kept from you before my boy. I have a few slgihtly unnormal abilities on account of being, as they say, one of the Yriaf folk."
"The Yriaf folk?"
"Yes, Yriafs, Fles, Ixips, Emongs, and, like myself, the Nuahcerpels."
I was very confused of course. I had never heard of any of these things, so I said so.
"I thought that might be the case," he replied, "Well, have you heard of the Fairy folk?"
"A little bit. Elves and that sort of thing?"
"Exactly. We are the counterbalancing force to the fairy folk - we're just as magical, but we're as different as night and day, and we tend to be on not-very-good terms with them. My people, for instance are the sworn enemies of the leprechauns. That's why I needed to hide out here. There certianly won't be any leprechauns around here. Anyway, it's only for a few days."
Having finished his cereal, he got up to put the box back in the pantry. I stood up.
"Let me get that for you," I said, "You are my guest after all." Taking the Captian Crunch back to the pantry, I found inside the one creature I had least hoped to encounter.
"That's a decent cereal, m'lad, but are ya sure don't want to try some Lucky Charms?"
"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times. I don't like Lucky Charms. Now I need to talk to you. You really need to leave my house."
"You jist want me to leave so ye can follow me to me pot o' gold, but I won't be havin' with it. I'm stayin'."
"I have already removed all the beer and Lucky Charms from the house; I know you're here, and you've ceased to be anything more than an annoyance. Why are you still here?"
At that point, as I knew he would, he smiled mischieviously and disappeared. It was just then that Lord Godfry appeared behind me.
"Whoever were you talking to in here?" he asked.
"I talk to myself, when I'm trying to decide on breakfast," I lied quickly, "It's an old habit."
"I see. Well, I'm going to go check out the sights of the city, I'll likely be back around 11 for tea."
"Can't say I have tea."
"Well, I'll pick some of that up too then. Ta-ta."
And he was off. I supposed he was going to get the money out of the box of silver at the begining of the, of the, whatever the opposite of a rainbow is. It didn't matter. The fact was that I had a problem. Two sworn enemies living in my house, one whom I was honor-bound to harbor and the other that I simply couldn't get rid of. I would have to take care of this somehow. At least work thought I was still in Ireland so I had a few days off. I went to the library and, not surprisingly, found no information about Nuahcerpels. I did do some more research on leprechauns and found nothing especially helpful. At 11:30 I decided to head home.

I definitely promised myself I wouldn't start anything new, so I'm terribly sorry about this. It just sort of happened and I'm not ready to finish it yet.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

TNT: Ch. 52

I'm sure I look truly pathetic to all of you right now, raving about my new resolve and then forgetting it after one post. There is in fact a good explanation, which most of you already know. If not, I'll probably write a post about it on WKoL sooner or later. The other reason is that I've actually had the draft of this chapter on my computer for several days, but a plot point I've been trying to work has failed to come together. I had planned to reveal that Ming was not in fact a legal immigrant, and that the FBI had discovered this while searching for Vlad. Ultimately I dismissed this for two reasons: (A) I don't know enough about immigration laws to write it believably and (B) It would be introducing a very serious plotline to my two comic relief characters and I didn't want to do that. So I've rewritten the end of this chapter and I will accomplish what I sought to accomplish with the immigration plotline a bit differently. This is a breakthrough for me as I almost never rewrite in this story; I let it go where it will and try to make it work later.

Sure enough, Eric awoke at 5:45 the next morning, but he wasn't sure whether to wake Gina. He hated the idea of her waking up to find no one there, but he wanted to get into town and get the paper quickly and didn't think it would be kind to wake her. Ultimately he decided to leave her out there while he went in to get the bike.
Erivc thought about the previous night as he walked back to the garage. Gina had certianly seemed less guarded then normal; more feminine. He wondered if this was a residual affect of the drug or if she was just breaking down. He hoped she wasn't breaking down.
But then, her concerns were realistic enough, he thought, getting on the bike and donning the helmet. She was a person without a place now, with her old home now in the dubious hands of her slimy brother. That was one place Eric intended to steer clear of.
The bike handled well on grass and dirt, so Eric thought he'd swing by Gina in case she'd woken up. Sure enough, she was sitting up beneath her blanket.
"Where're you going?" she yawned.
"Into town to get that paper. I'm anxious to know where we're going next."
"Good plan. I'm going inside to take a shower."
"Alright, see you in an hour or two." He started to head for the road.
"Wait!" said Gina suddenly, "About last night. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get so... emotional on you."
"It's alright," he replied, "You've had a tough week."
"But still, thanks for being there."
"Any time."
And he was off.

Meanwhile, inside the house, Vlad and Ming were waking up.
"So Ming," Vlad asked, "Who is covering for you at work?"
"The temp I hired was working very very well," she said, "So I hired him full time. I figured with the extra staff I could take the time off when Velma called me about the reunion."
"Does this mean I no longer have a job?"
"It means you have, I'll call it, extended sabbatical. Since you are using that man's credit card on your quest, you no need pay anyhow."
Vlad thought about this for a minute. All things considered it was fair enough. Though he wondered how much credit Master Lin had actually given them.
"How long you staying here?" Ming asked.
"Well, we don't know where we're going next, but I think I'm going to stay with the family a while if Eric doesn't mind. As much as I care about the quest, we've always said 'Family First.' Why back when we first came to this country, Elvis and I would always pick each other first in the dodgeball games, even though we did not play dodgeball well, because family is important to us. Why I remember one game where It was just Elvis and I left on opposite teams, me on my side and he on his, and we both got ourselves out so the other one could win. Of course, we both lost in the end, or else both won - nobody really knew so I guess it worked out ok."
At that point, Vlad noticed that Ming was no longer in the room and went off to put some pant on and head downstairs.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

TNT: Ch. 51

Eric discovered before he went to bed that, as he suspected, the newspaper did not actually deliver to Elvis's homestead. This was not surprising, given the situation with the national park. Nonetheless, Eric secured permission to borrow Elvis's bike and resolved to go on a nice early morning bike ride into town to get a paper, and be back with the clue when everyone else got up. He was exhausted, but he'd been getting up at the crack of dawn to farm for the last 3 days anyway and his body wasn't likely to be able to sleep late anyway.
In fact he wasn't able to sleep at all. He knew that Vlad sang opera in his sleep, so it was not entirely unexpected when the family Berljottsen turned out to be like the New York Metropolitan Opera when the lights went out. That didn't make it any less frustrating. Apparently it ran in the family. Finally Eric got up, restless, and went downstairs to the Ringo to get the sleeping bag he had packed back in Indy. When he got to the car, he found an unfamiliar bundle in the back seat. It turned out to be Gina.
"Couldn't sleep either?" she asked, raising her voice to get over the four different Arias and chorus numbers drifting out from the house.
"How could anyone?"
"I thought it would be better out here, but it isn't. What do you say we go out and sleep under the stars?"
"Sounds great," replied Eric.
"I wonder about Andrew and Ming," asked Gina, as they distanced themselves from the house, "How do they adapt to that? I mean could you do that?"
"I suppose you can get used to a lot of things, if you're in love," Eric pointed out, "Let's stop here. It's close enough that we're not likely to get eaten, but you can see the stars and you can barely hear the opera."
"Mmk," she replied, laying out her blanket.
Eric layed his sleeping bag out a few feet away. It was at that point he realized he'd forgotten his pillow. He shared this fact with Gina, who tossed him hers.
"No, I didn't mean- I'll just go back inside and-"
"It's fine," she said, "I slept in a shipping crate on my way out of the complex. I'm tough. Plus it's the least I can do for you. Without you I'd be spending tonight in Rob's bed, and enjoying it."
Eric blushed. He didn't know what to say to that, and for a while they were both silent, listening to the sounds of the night, the chirping of the crickets, the wind in the trees, and just the faintest hint of Verdi's Anvil Chorus.
"The stars are pretty tonight," Gina pointed out.
Another silence followed, and Gina decided finally to say what was on her mind.
"Eric, what happens when this is all over?"
"I mean, sooner or later we'll collect all these pieces, and Master Lin will build a toaster, and then what? I mean, you and Vlad have your jobs to get back to, so it's easy enough to say, 'That was fun now back to my life,' but I don't have anything else." She was fighting back tears now. "I don't have a home, or a family, or any marketable skills. I mean I could go back and try to make it on Broadway, but I've never really sung or acted before except in my dad's religious plays and I don't think he cast me for any reason other than that I was his daughter, and oh, I just don't know what to do anymore!"
Eric tossed her the pillow back as she broke down. She seemed to need the comfort more than he did.
"It'll be alright, Gina. Just think what would have happened if you hadn't found me and Vlad. You'd either be struggling in New York or Rob would have caught you. But you found us, and then when you did get taken back we followed you and we stopped your dad from exploiting all those people! This whole thing is prophesied, and there's something bigger than toasters happening here, and you have to believe it's gonna work out! I mean, I'm in the same boat as you. I haven't been in to work since I left on this quest, and when I called them they gave me one last chance and I didn't show. I'm out of a job, too. Yet I can't help but feel like it's gonna work out. Things are gonna be okay."
Gina seemed unconvinced. She was crying now. Eric tried a different line as he went over to comfort her.
"If we can make a good, just toaster that makes good toast all the time, we can do anything. And no matter how this whole quest works out, we'll always have each other. I'm not going to just go back to work and leave you in the dust, and neither will Vlad or Master Lin. We'll take care of you until you get back on your feet. We're a team now. We take care of each other."
Gina looked up at Eric, on whose shoulder she'd just been crying.
"It's a big pillow," she said, "Let's share it."
So they spent the night side by side under the stars. In truth Eric was as worried as Gina about the future, but he had hit on one thing that he knew was true. From here on out, they would have each other.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

TNT Recap Continued

Maybe I will try to finish this tonight, so I can provide new content tomorrow.
Ch. 26: We meet Vlad's manager, Ming, who is also his wife. Vlad argues his way into time off without losing his job.

Ch. 27: Gina does some thinking, while hog-tied in the back of a pick-up truck. She resolves to play along in the hopes of helping the guys gain entrance into the cult complex.

Ch. 28: Eric and Vlad are killed by a mysterious man and Gina is sold into slavery. The End.

Ch. 28 (Really): April Fools! Disregard the last chapter 28. Eric and Vlad discover Gina's absence, and Vlad leaves his home to pick up Eric. Master Lin is unhelpful.

Ch. 29: Eric and Vlad track the Ringo Harrison to the gas station using the cell phone.

Ch. 30: Eric and Vlad encounter the cops and realize how complicated their predicament is from a legal standpoint.

Ch. 31: Eric and Vlad explain their story to Chief Jack Silverstien, a helpful cop, who also tells them that FBI agents are coming to investigate and that they should leave before they get there since they'll probably be dumb.

Ch. 32: Gina is rescued from her kidnappers by Rob and her brother, who are regrettably taking her home anyway. It turns out her kidnapper was an enemy of her father's, a mysterious man with a big black moustache who probably would not have taken her home.

Ch. 33: Everyone sleeps except the Berljottsen's neighbor and captain Silverstien, who is talking to the FBI agents. They decide that the best thing to do is take Eric and Vlad into custody.

Ch. 34: Eric wakes Vlad with Ming's help and they head to the police station, where they discover the FBI agents' plan and decide to leave before they get the chance to enact it.

Ch. 35: Eric and Vlad leave in the Ringo Harrison for the hotel parking lot in Ohio in pursuit of Gina.

Ch. 36: (Posted one year ago today) Eric and Vlad, following the lobster's lead, make it to the cult complex in Maine.

Ch. 37: Eric leaves all his possessions with Vlad and goes in posing as a recruit. He claims to have found the Whey through a vision. It seems to work, as he is taken to see a "very special man."

Ch. 38: Vlad gets lost in the forest and calls Master Lin, who gives him advice that is not relevant. We discover that even masters make mistakes sometimes.

Ch. 39: Eric meets Gina's father, as well as a changed Gina, who now appears brainwashed by the cult. Eric also drinks some tea, and is invited to Gina's wedding in four days.

Ch. 40: Fleeing cult members, Vlad hurls the lobster in the direction of the complex, hops in the car, and drives off.

Ch. 41: Eric meets Kyle, Gina's brother, who tells him about the mind control drug that keeps the place running. They agree to work together to rescue Gina.

Ch. 42: Vlad encounters the FBI agents in a hotel lobby.

Ch. 43: Eric rendevous with Kyle and is informed of his part in the plan: to stand up and make an objection at the wedding. He is also given an antidote for the mind-control drug.

Ch. 44: Eric rendevous with Kyle, picks up the lobster, and shows up at Gina's wedding.

Ch. 45: The wedding happens, sort of. It's interrupted by Vlad, FBI in tow and then by an unruly mob of suddenly undrugged cultists. Eventually the Feds take Gina's father, Milton, away. Gina, meanwhile, still insists she loves Rob and not Eric, tells him she hates him and runs off. Kyle than reveals that this was his sick plan all along and now that he's in charge they can take the artifact (but not Gina) and go.

Ch. 46: This chapter contains a lot of great speeches and a recap wouldn't so it justice, plus this thing's getting hella long. Suffice it to say Eric gets Gina back and the artifact. She also kisses him.

Ch. 47: The final resolution of the cult plotline is Rob's forgiveness of Eric and letting go of Gina. It's very touching.

Ch. 48: A call to Master Lin reveals that a clue will be in tomorrow's news. In the mean time, they agree to stay at Vlad's friend's house to save money.

Ch. 49: Eric, Gina, and Vlad turn into a state park and learn about Vlad's brother Elvis.

Ch. 50: Eric and Gina meet Vlad's entire family and resolve to get away from it ASAP

And then for a long time, nothing happened. Inspiration failed to strike. I totally abandoned this story for 3 months in favor of other things. Good things, but other things nonetheless. And then I decided to write this recap and rediscovered this wonderful story. I'd invite you all to reread it too, but the important thing is that tomorrow, or perhaps even tonight, I'm going t0 write an update. And after that, I'm going to pick up the biweekly update schedule I had so long ago. Perhaps not Toaster every time. Some Mortimer I'm sure, and I may have to run the sci-fi story as filler, but I will update twice weekly this summer. And into the school year with any luck.

House Cleaning

Ok, it's time to straighten this place up. First off: reports on Stories

Do I Dare Remember?: Consider Nate's update canon. Or don't. Bottom line: I have no plans to finish the story at this time. I had no ending in mind, no ending came to mind, and unless a mind-bogglingly good one comes up, I will not be finishing this story.

Mortimer: I will be finishing this one, and I hope to make it shorter than Toaster significantly.

The New Toaster: It's been so long, even I don't remember things and I'm sure you all don't. So I'm going to spend today recapping and begin updating in earnest after that.

Sci-Fi Story: Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and created an unfinished 22,000 word sci-fi story. I can start posting it here in chunks, or not, but I'd like to know what you (my readers if I still have any) want.

Stand Alone Stories: Expect to see more of these, as brevity is a skill I'm currently trying to hone.

Poetry: Someone told me today that I'm good at poetry. Would you like to find out? I've always wanted to write a sonnet or an epic.

So, now, the TNT recap (or as far as I get into it):

Ch. Prologue: We are introduced to Eric Smellick, and the fact that he's buying a new toaster, because his old toaster had exploded. Eric first rants about a just, kind toaster.

Ch. 1: Eric asks Vlad to find him a good, just toaster, and Vlad says that none exist. Eric's fiery wrath draws Vlad into his quest and they leave, Vlad telling Jack to cover for him.

Ch. 2: We learn of Vlad's verbacious nature and his Norwegian background. We also learn why he's called Vlad despite being Norwegian. Eric realizes he needs a place to go and turns in desperation to the box his old toaster came in, and they head to Wheatsfield.

Ch. 3: Vlad and Eric pick up a cute hitchiker on the way to Wheatsfield, and Eric, not wanting too much alone time with Vlad, convinces her to come to Wheatsfield instead of Broadway. Her name is Annette, but you (and Eric and Vlad) can call her Gina.

Intermezzo: Jonah tries to cover up for a glitch resulting from his complete lack of story planning, while nothing important happens.

Ch. 4: Eric has an epiphany and, to quote CJ, a "sudden arboreal stop." (That is to say, he crashes everyone into a tree. What was I thinking?)

Ch. 5: Gina and Vlad arrive in Wheatsfield via Ambulance. Gina decides to stay with Vlad, even though she doesn't need to.

Ch. 6: Eric's insurance companies are realistically unhelpful, so the car just gets towed to a junkyard. Eric rides along and, while in the junkyard, has a schizophrenic confrontation with his old toaster, which he ultimately drop kicks into the air. He heads off to the hospital, while Hank and Jeb make snide remarks.

Ch. 7: Gina pretends to be Vlad's fiance so she can sleep in his room and thus gain free lodging. She slips her ring onto his finger.

Ch. 8: Eric arrives at the hospital and starts to rant, but Gina shushes him and storms out. He starts ranting again and Vlad wakes up. Eric runs after Gina.

Ch. 9: The toaster Eric dropkicked two chapters ago knocks out Rob Bluntz, a cult member with a pet Sacred Lobster. He's using the lobster to locate something or someone and it has brought him to Wheatsfield. When Rob falls, the lobster scuttles off.

Ch. 10: Eric finds Gina and convinces her to come with him to the factory in the morning. They spend the night at a stranger's house. (Not together - it's not that kind of story.)

Ch. 11: Vlad wakes up to find the lobster on his finger and discovers a mysterious ring (the one Gina slipped on him.) Vlad, the ring, and the lobster check out of the hospital.

Ch. 12: The whole team meets up, Vlad discovers that the ring came from Gina, and we learn two interesting things about the lobster- that Gina is irrationally freaked out by it and that it follows Vlad like a loyal puppy.

Ch. 13: The whole party enters the Imini complex and makes an appointment with Ti Wao Lin, a toaster developer Vlad knows of. He says something mysterious.

Ch. 14: One of my favorite chapters; the historic meeting with Master Lin. The party encounters the old man teaching a class, and then he speaks to each of them by name, tells them their coming was foretold, and asks them what their quest is. When Eric tells him, he informs them that he can forge the toaster if they can bring these pieces (remember them; they're imporant): the Golden Handle of Grace, the Iron Springs of Life, the Heating Element of the Eternal Flame, and the Casing of a Lost Soul. They agree to go on the quest.

Ch. 15: Gina and Eric go for Starbucks and she refuses to tell him about her past. He tells about his, but it's chronically boring. Just then, Rob arrives at the Starbucks and Gina flees through the back door, setting off the fire alarm and getting seperated from Eric.

Ch. 16: Hijinx occur with Rob and Vlad. They result in Rob discovering that Vlad has Gina's ring and the lobster, but getting neither; and the readers discovering that Rob is out to marry Gina (whose name is Annette) and that he wears an identical ring. This is a particularly funny chapter, if you don't mind my saying so.

Ch. 17: The mad hijinx involving the coffee shop continue. Gina goes looking for Eric, who went to the coffee shop looking for Vlad, who just finished talking to Rob, who's off looking for Gina. Vlad deduces that Eric is in love with GIna and gives the infamous cod analogy, before revealing that Rob is engaged to Gina.

Ch. 18: Everyone meets up, Gina reveals the truth: Her father is a cult leader, she ran away, and Rob (and the lobster) were sent to bring her home. They all meet up with Master Lin, as well as with Hank and Jeb. After Eric settles his score with the latter, the former reveals his gift to the travelers: The RIngo Harrison, a car assembled from two Beetles. So equipped, they set off.

Ch. 19: The party tries to decide where they might find these pieces, and Vlad tells a story. I'm not going to recap it, but I'll give you a link. The story will become important rather soon, but I'll recap it within the story.

Ch. 20: Gina tells her story, which explains some valuable background about the cult and about her. But it's really not that important at this point, except that they decide to go back to her home to retrieve the Bristol Ip or the Red Snake, which is most likely the Heating Element of the Eternal Flame.

Ch. 21: Not a whole lot happens. Questions are raised about the supernaturalness of the lobster.

Ch. 22: Bed Hijinx occur, introducing us to Vlad's pension for nocturnal opera and Eric's infatuation with Gina.

Ch. 23: They decide to stop in Indy for a night and come up with a bunch of crappy plans for stealing the artifact.

Ch. 24: Gina drops Eric and Vlad off at their respective homes, then goes to the gas station, where she runs into Rob and is then kidnapped by a mysterious man in her back seat.

Ch. 25: With help from Master Lin, Eric quits his job.

And this brings us halfway through the story so far. Tomorrow, the other half, and after that the continuation wil begin.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Tournament of Dolphins

First, check out my brother's site. Now, what did you think of his list? I think it's great, but I noticed something rather troubling - namely the astounding lack of dolphins. I don't know how you can do a tournament of champions without at least one dolphin. So, to balance him out, I'm setting up an historic TOURNAMENT OF DOLPHINS.

1. Flipper (Flipper) - For those of you who have never seen this wonderful program, think of Flipper as an aquatic lassie. Everyone's favorite super-intelligent family pet.
Strengths: Faster than lightning; No one, you see, is smarter than he; Lives in a world full of wonder; Flying there under, under the sea.
Weaknesses: Susceptible to the cliches of 60s TV (Nothing especially graphic can happen around him, adventures are limited to thirty minutes minus commercial breaks)

2. Ecco (Ecco the Dolphin Games from Sega) - Quite possibly the only doplhin to have his own series of computer and video games, Ecco enjoys travelling through time, as well as being a really great singer. If this were, American Idol of the Dolphins, Ecco would have it made.
Strengths: Can use his sonar as a weapon, has some kind of shape-changing ability, can go invisible.
Weaknesses: Can't do any of these things without power-ups.

3. The Singing Dolphins (Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy) - Remember what I said about Dolphin American Idol? I may have spoken too soon. As well as being good singers, these dolphins are considered to be the second most intelligent species on Earth, after Rats and before humans.
Strengths: Can really put on a musical number, have their "own means" for leaving Earth, apparently have sufficient funds to pay for it's rebuilding (according to the books).
Weaknesses: A certian fondness for fish.

4. Darwin (SeaQuest) - SeaQuest, for those of you (probably everyone) who haven't seen it, is an incredibly obscure, short-lived show that was pretty much Star Trek underwater. Darwin is a dolphin who can both talk to and understand humans because of Lucas the boy-genius's inventions. He frequently saves the day and was played by an animatronic puppet for everything but the first episode of the show.
Strengths: Can communicate with humans and aliens, has completed the training required to achieve the rank of ensign in the United Earth Oceans Organization, which is probably comprable to the US Navy in it's training of officers.
Weaknesses: Not a real dolphin.

5. Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins) - Marino holds 24 NFL Season records and is tied for three others, and is considered by most to be the best Dolphin of all time. Though now retired, he is still revered by Dol-Fans everywhere.
Strengths - by far the best on the list in terms of touch-down passes, yardage, and overall QB-ing.
Weaknesses - Not quite as well suited for long periods of time underwater as the other competitors. Also not quite as good a swimmer.

The tournament will begin as soon as I figure out the best way to do a tournament with five competitiors. I will not be taking it nearly as seriously as Nathan's, for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Even More Mortimer!

Mortimer left the bar on two feet through the door, which is more than he could say for most of the other patrons. As he walked, one of the guinea pigs flew through the window and would have shattered the glass if there was any left. He made his way to the local library.
Merk Heeliott was not a library town. In fact as far as Mort knew, there was no library to speak of in Merk Heeliott. However, a consultation with his hideously outdated Guide to Merc Heeliott revealed that there was, in fact, a small dingy building marked MHPL. Mortimer wasn't good with maps, but that was why he had Narrin. He quickly kicked off the ground and flew high above the city. It matched his map perfectly from up here!
At least it should. It seemed like none of the buildings were where they were marked. Even the gate which should have been on top was on the...
Realizing his error, Mortimer turned the map right side up. The map still didn't match the view perfectly, but he was able to navigate his way to the library. He tied Narrin around a streetlight (a pointless manuever since no one was capable of stealing her and she was not prone to running away) and went inside. The library was poorly lit as could be expected, and seemed to contain a total of two books, lots of cobwebs, and an old, sleeping man. Mortimer cleared his throat in hopes of attracting his attention. When this failed he tried an "Excuse me." That fell flat, seemingly absorbed by the overwhelming emptiness of the room. Finally he shouted. "EXCUSE ME SIR!"
The small bald man jolted awake. "I paid my rent, I paid it! Stop coming here!"
There was an awkward silence.
"Actually," said Mortimer, "I'm here about a book."
"You mean you're a... a... a customer?" asked the man incredulously, putting on his huge owl-like spectacles.
"I am."
"Do you have a card?"
"Umm, no."
The man looked dejected. "I suppose that was too much to ask. I'd offer you a card, but we had to use the cards to fix the roof after the big storm. The library's been going through some troubles of late. So anyway, you'd like a book. Which one?"
Moertimer looked at the two books. The (In)complete Book of Ferret Recipes did not look promising. Whether the recipes were by, for, or consisting of ferrets, the book was unlikely to mention Franklin Pierce. The other book was A History of the Third Age. He found it unlikely that Franklin Pierce was alive during the third age, but the man was looking so pathetic he decided to do a good deed before heading to a real library.
"This one," he said, lifting the heavy book as a full half of it fell out of the middle, "I'll take this one."
The man painstakingly and slowly wrote the name of the book on a piece of paper, took down Mortimer's name, and filed the paper in a large binder. Then he got out a card, write down the date and gave it to Mortimer.
"Now this is due back in two weeks, but you can renew it as long as no one else asks for it."
Mortimer didn't think anyone would, but he resolved to take the book back within two weeks. It would make that guy's day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

More Mortimer

After he had set his affairs in order and bid the Queen goodbye, Mortimer set about enacting his plan. He knew the first thing to do was go straight to the source - the mysterious man who had given him the avacado so many years ago. It had been almost 11 years ago that he had obtained the vegetable, knowing nothing of it's value except that he was to throw it in a time of great peril, but that he should beware the terrible price. Now he was hoping to obtain a little more info. He hopped on his flying gazelle Narrin and set off due East.
He'd recieved the avacado in the city of Merk Heeliott, a shady overgrown port town many miles from the royal seat at Higgansnorg. It was two days by cart, four days by Lizard-cart, and 4 hours by zeppelin, but Narrin hadn't won Ungulus magazine's "Fastest Steed" Award for nothing. She had him at the main gate in an hour, although the flight wasn't the most comfortable. He wiped the especially high-flying bugs from his mouth guard as Narrin trotted up to the main gate.
"Who goes there?" asked the guard, a large creature, likely not human judging by his height and the gruffness of his voice.
"A servant of her majesty."
"Her majesty's servants get no special treatment here. Business or pleasure?"
"27 gruck."
27 gruck was a ridiculous toll. Obviously the gatekeeper thought that because he had a fancy steed and outfit, he could charge a little more and pocket the extra. Mortimer was inside the guard tower with the hulking creature pinned to the wall in 7 seconds.
"I don't actually need to even go through the gate," he seethed, "My steed can fly. But because I'm a better man than you, I've got no problem paying the real toll, if you tell me now what it is."
"7 gruck," the guard muttered.
Mortimer hopped back on Narrinand rode through the gate, which he's gone ahead and opened himself from inside the tower, tossing the guard two coins as he went by.

Inside the city, Mortimer wasted no time making his way to one of the many taverns. This one had a picture of a black duck with a blue beak and yellow eyes. The name of the pub was "The Inverted Duck" but few of the patrons realized the colors were inverted or even knew what that meant. It was called the Black Duck or the Weird Duck around town. The owner had considered hanging the sign upside down to get the point across, but he knew the patrons wouldn't get that either. There were few enough intellectuals in Merk Heeliott.
Unfortunately for the intellectually starved pub-owner, Mortimer was not here to talk to him. He ordered a beer, more because it was what you did here then because he wanted one, and then walked straight to a table in the back. Sure enough, he was still there. A slightly creepy man in his late sixties, with a pointy beard, a large bald spot, and purple hair all around.
"I'm relieved to see you," said Mortimer, "I was really not expecting to find youi right where I left you 11 years ago."
The man did not look up at Mortimer, but stared straight forward.
"I told you about the price when I gave you the avacado. What more have we to discuss?"
"What's he going to do?"
THe man was silent. Mortimer pulled a kitchen knife from his belt, and opened his peanut-butter pouch. He dipped the knife in the peanut butter and put it to the man's forehead.
"You know what'll happen if I smear this on you," he said, "I don't want it any more than you do."
"You can't get rid of me with rodents. I'm not even here at all. But if you want to know about Franklin Pierce, go to the history books. That's where you'll find him."
And with that, the man was suddenly not there. THis would be harder then he'd hoped.
"Look!" came a voice from the next table, "He's got peanut butter!"
And suddenly the bar patrons were on him. He'd forgotten the value of peanut butter in these parts. Oh well, it had been a while since he'd been in a real brawl. He picked up a chair and got started.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mortimer Lima Bean continued

Ok, to avoid complete confusion, go here. I'm going to pick up where Nathan left off. I know I should work on my real stories but I'm blocked pretty badly, and this seemed fun.

...I just hope your prepared to pay the price!"

That was ten years ago. President Pierce had saved the Queen, but Mortimer was still waiting for the price. It ate at him a little bit every day. He'd never told the Queen how he'd managed to fend off the guinea pigs; he could not bear her knowing that he, her constant unfailing protector had come that close to failing. That only a former president in an avocado had come between her and peanut-buttery rodent death.
But there wasn't time to think about that now, thought Mortimer as he tied his silver bowtie around the neck of his uncomfortable dress uniform. Now he needed to focus on protection for the ceremony. Now, the Queen and her daughter would both be flown ion on zeppelins for the beginning of the ceremony - or at least that's how it would appear. Only Mortimer, the zeppelin pilots and a few trusted officers knew there was nothing in those airships but recycled newspapers. The Queen and her daughter, however, would emerge up the trapdoors and through the doors of the zeppelins, and no one would be th wiser. But there was no way to protect them after that, when they were out in the open on the ceremonial platform. For that, Mortimer would have to rely on his instincts, his skilled team, and his deadeye shot with the marmalady.
Mortimer took up his place next to the platform. He looked out into the audience as each of his five underlings gave him the hi sign.
"Alright," he said into the microphone, "We are go for zeppelins. Right on schedule."
Immediately he saw the empty zeppelins rise over the horizon. Everything was going right. This would be easy. But what was that in the crowd? A face he hadn't seen in a long time! It couldn't be! And suddenly he disappeared behind a hot dog stand. But Mortimer knew what he had seen. It was the face of Franklin Pierce. The price, it seemed, was coming.

The ceremony went off without a hitch after that, although Mortimer's mind was elsewhere. He was there to meet the Queen as she dived off the ceremonial platform and swam the royal channel into the palace, her daughter hanging onto her ankle with her ceremonial snorkel on her face.
As she climbed out of the water, safely inside the palace, Mortimer ushered them into a small room, handed the two monarchs their royal towels and obediently turned his back. They didn't question his continued presence; the queen trusted him implicitly by now.
"Very well done, Mortimer," the queen said in her elegant accent, "Although I DO wish I could actually ride the zeppelin like we did in the old days."
"Indeed!" agreed her daughter.
"I do apologize, your majesties, but your safety is of the utmost importance to me. This you know."
"Of course."
"My liege," he asked, his voice trembling.
"Yes?" The Queen was confused; she wasn't used to his speaking when not spoken to outside of times of crisis.
"You know my right hand, Milly Carrot?"
"The skinny girl with the big hair?!?" asked the princess, the distaste oozing out of her voice, "Oh, and you can turn around Morty. We're decent."
"Yes, your royalness that's the one," he said, not turning around.
"Do go on," The queen said.
"Well, you know I have been in the service of the crown my whole life, like my father before me."
"Well, my family has collectively 2 decades of unused vacation time, due to our unwavering steadfast defense of your person."
The Queen gasped.
"Mortimer! You can't be planning to actually USE it!?!"
"Well not all of it!" he said quickly, "I just need a few weeks! And Milly's quite good!"
"What do YOU need a vacation for?" asked the princess, "You don't have any family or anything."
Mortimer turned around at last, addressing his queen and ignoring her uppity teenage successor. "Your majesty, I have reason to believe I may actually be endangering you with my presence. Someone out there may want me dead, and I must deal with it. To protect you I must do this as far from you as I can. So I will be taking as much "vacation" as I need to sort this out, effective next week, if it pleases your majesty."
The Queen was silent for several seconds.
"You're sure the girl will be alright?"
"She's very good, my liege."
"Try not to be gone too long, Mortimer. I feel much safer when you're around."
"I'll be as fast as I possibly can, your majesty. May I take your wet clothes?"
She gave them to him, neatly folded and her daughter followed suit with a randomly crumpled white dress. Obediently carrying the soaked garments, Mortimer followed the Queen and her daughter to their rooms. In a week he would leave his post for the first time anyone in his family had ever done so. He had to do it to save the queen, but it still felt so wrong. And what would Pierce do when he caught up with him? Only time would tell.

So I promised I wouldn't start another story, but the fact that technically Nate started it makes a convenient loophole, eh?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April Fools!

It would be a lot easier to pull April Fools pranks if any of you checked the site without being prodded into it. I have no idea if I fooled anyone or not. But now I'm telling you, that last entry was actually written by my identical twin in part of an April Fool's Day exchange. I wrote the latest chapter of the story formerly known as revival over at CSG. I hope you were all sufficiently fooled. Now, I'm really not sure if I want to make this canonical or not, so I want to hear what you think. Should I let Nathan's silly entry be part of the story, or go on as if it never happened?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Do I Dare Remember? - Chapter 3

When he woke up, he was being shaken by Helen.
"Teddy, wake up!" she said, "The store is being robbed!"
For some inexplicable reason, he walked downstairs. That's when he remembered he was a veritable killing machine.
He jumped at the two robbers, and before they could get off a shot he had them both on the floor, with one knee in each of them pointing their own guns at them. Amazing what the body remembers, he thought again. I guess that answers the specialized knowledge question.
Helen and Myron were dumfounded. They just stood there, trying to comprehend what they'd just seen. He realized if the police came in now, he'd have no way to explain how he took down the robbers so fast. He had to think quickly.
He shot both robbers. Then he shot Myron and Helen. It made him a little sad, since they'd been so nice and all, but it seemed like the right thing to do. He remembered now that he'd done a lot of killing innocent people.
As he was on his way out, the police showed up. He killed them too.
He suddenly remembered that his girlfriend had been named Cecilia.
"Halt there!" yelled a voice. He turned to see a hulking, hairy creature with tusks and a proboscis wearing a mauve spandex outfit and a navy blue cape. "You may have defeated the local police," It said, in it's rumbling voice, "But you're no match for the Mauve Mammoth!"
He remembered that the Mauve Mammoth was a famed defender of peace and justice, but not where he had encountered him before.
Suddenly a look of recognition passed the Mammoth's face, though it was difficult to discern. "Bronze Ninja?" he said, "Why no outfit?"
At the sound of his name, the Bronze Ninja remembered exactly who he was - and who wasx responsible for his memory loss.
"Sorry, Mauve," he said, "But I have an appointment with one Captain Cauliflower.
He remembered that he could fly and flew off towards the governor's mansion. It felt good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

TNT: Ch. 50

Vlad led the way up the path to the door, and knocked twice. The door opened and a little blonde girl of perhaps 8 was standing in the doorway. Eric watched as her eyes grew huge with recognition and joy.
"Uncle Vlad!!!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his neck, and, as a result of his height, her legs around his waist. Her cry was obviously heard about the house because soon four other children of various sizes were atop Vlad. He obliged them, hugging and kissing and saying names as best he could. Meanwhile a man who looked like Vlad with a beard and more hair walked up to Eric and Gina.
"Sorry about that," he said. The voice was eerily like Vlad's.
"The kids weren't expecting to see Vlad here. We weren't either. My name's Elvis Berljottsenn, the kids are Annie, Petunia, Ron, and Todd. They're not mine, they belong to our sister, Velma Parker and her husband, Andrew Parker." As he said the names they arrived behind him, a pretty young Norwegian woman and a quite obviously non-Norwegian and slightly scared bald man.
"I'm Eric Smellick," Eric said, nervously extending a hand. The various non-child-covered members of the family took it, and Gina introduced herself likewise. By that time Vlad had managed to get the kids slightly cal and more or less off his person.
"Elvy!!! Velm!!" he exclaimed, "It is so wonderful to see you! I had no idea there was a reunion; I would have brought Ming!"
"Oh, she's here. She's with Mom in the kitchen making dinner. You were the only one we couldn't get in touch with. You see, it was all very sudden, because mom and dad just happened to win those plane tickets and they had to use them in the next three days, so Andy and I packed up the kids and drove up from Connecticut. But I'm chattering on, aren't I? Tell me about your friends!"
He did. As they went into the sitting room, the Berljottsens did a lot of talking - it was like having three Vlads in a room; more when the parents and Ming came in. Through that afternoon and that night, Eric and Gina managed to sneak in less then 12 words apiece, and they never heard Andrew speak at all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Do I Dare Remember - Ch. 2

The next several days went by in fractured pieces, like a reflection in a shattered mirror. He would wake up for a short time, his old memories lingering like a dream but always gone before he could remember them clearly. Then his new memories would come back, from the grocery store on, and pretty soon he'd fall asleep. Sometimes there would be food near him, and he's eat. Occasionally he stumbled to the bathroom. And sometimes a woman was there. But he was never awake enough to properly comprehend all this.
He wasn't sure how long this saga had gone on. It could have been one night or a week. He was on a couch, in an apartment. It had that musty scent of a house lived in by older people. The smell of cigars and out of style cologne and years and years of memory. It was a familiar and somehow comforting smell.
He was hungry, and there was food. A grilled cheese sandwhich, sliced apples, and a mug of hot cocoa with marshmellows. As he ate and drank, the woman walked in. She was in her late sixties by the look of it, but still very mobile and competent.
"Oh, you're awake!" she said sweetly, "Feeling better?"
"Better," he mumbled, "Thanks for the... uh... the food." Words weren't coming properly. He still couldn't think straight.
"I'm Helen, my husband found you, remember?"
He nodded.
"And we're calling you Teddy, unless you've come up with something better."
"Teddy's fine. I'll be leaving in a couple of days."
"Where for?" she asked.
"To find some answers. I think maybe if I get out on my feet, they'll know where to go."
"Well, as soon as you're up to it, I'll go with you."
"Thank you, ma'm." He tried to sit up, cautious with the memory of the last time. The world spun and swirled, but not as much and he managed to retain conciousness.
"Well, I've got to run some errands, but if you need anything, you can use that phone to call me. I finally got one of those cell phones and it's #1 on the speed dial."
She left the room, and Teddy looked around. He decided to watch some television. Much to his surprise, he could remember which shows he liked to watch, who the characters were, and the plots. He tuned into The Simpsons and recognized it as a repeat, knowing how it would end. Thinking about it he knew the names and roles of Hollywood actors, too. It was just the details of his own life that eluded him. He wondered if he would retain specialized knowledge from his field. He had to be good at something.
He turned off the TV and stood up (again, with some difficulty) and made his way to the bookshelf. They say you can tell a lot about a person by their bookshelf. The Hatches had a few key kinds of books. Lots of books on grocering, food, and running a business. Several Romantic Fiction books. Some old school science fiction - Asimov, Bradbury, Verne, Wells - the greats. And several books on airplanes - the illustrated guide to bombers of WWII, a flight manual for another old fighter, some aerodynamic theory textbooks.
He skimmed a few things, but he couldn't find anything that sparked. Pretty soon he fell asleep, leaning against the shelf.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Do I Dare Remember? - Chapter 1

I know some of you might be annoyed I haven't written in the toaster story in a while, but the fact is that I need a rather long break from that. I'll get back to it eventually but it's fun to try new things. This is the first chapter of a brand-new story, tentatively titled "Do I Dare Remember?" (DIDR) Hopefully it will run parallel to TNT, just like things were supposed to go originally. Oh, one more thing. This story may be a little heavier on the profanity, as it's going to be limited third person from a somewhat crude character. I hope it doesn't bother you too much.

A pair of scissors. An ocean of wax. Three silver monkeys. The visions filled his head like water racing down a drain. Spinning and spinning, impossible to grasp, and ultimately gone. Where the hell was he? Where had he been last night? What had he drunken/eaten/smoked? He couldn’t remember anything. He couldn’t even remember his name.
‘This must be amnesia’ he thought. ‘Figures I can remember what amnesia is, but nothing about my life.’
He surveyed his surroundings. It was familiar somehow. There was fruit here, in crates. Shelves and shelves of vegetables, too. It was a produce department. Yes, that’s what it was. He hadn’t realized it because something was off. There should be people in a produce department. He saw none. And it was dark. Was it the middle of the night? Instinctively he checked his watch. Funny, he thought, what the body remembers when the mind forgets. It was 4:00 AM.
He stood up. This act seemed innocent enough, but it brought on a massive headache. Damn but he wished he could remember something. He felt awful. A wretched taste was in his mouth, he ached all over, and he was hungry. He felt as if he hadn’t eaten in days if not weeks. There was fruit all around, and no one would miss it. Cautiously, he bit into a pear. It was good. He finished it rather quickly and started on an apple, then a peach, than some grapes. He loved fruit. He remembered this now, that he could eat fresh fruit all day. He had eaten fresh fruit all day once, but he couldn’t remember any details of the experience.
It was like that with his memories. They would come in little sections of sections, like the last remnants of a dream. Flashes, images, feelings, impressions that told him nothing. He was startled from his thinking and eating by a sound. The door was being unlocked. He instinctively thrust the stems, peels, pits, and cores into his pockets, wiped off his mouth and stood up as the grocer entered.
“What is the name of all things holy are you doing here?” the elderly man asked incredulously.
“I, uh, I’m…” he stammered.
“Robbing me, perhaps? Empty the pockets!” Before he could answer, the grocer had walked right up to him and done it himself, and he now stared at the assorted inedible fruit parts on the floor.
“Perhaps you were under the impression that this was a free buffet!?!” asked the man, a short fellow with a bushy mustache, “Or perhaps you think that just because you’re a young man the world revolves around you. And that because I am an old man I can’t stop you! That the world is your oyster! Well, I have news for you. This part of the world is still my oyster, and the price for all that fruit is $20.00 plus telling me how the hell you got here.”
“Well? How did you get in here?”
“I… I don’t know.”“You don’t know? I suppose you just woke up here mysteriously,” The man suggested with more than a hint of sarcasm.
“Yes, actually that’s exactly it!” he replied without any.
The grocer stared him down. It was a cold, hard practiced stare. A stare that said “I can tell if you’re lying. A lot of men have tried to lie to me, and they all end up telling the truth sooner or later, so you needn’t waste your time.”
But he wasn’t lying. So he stared right back with the confidence of a practiced liar who didn’t even need to use his polished skill. And the stare went on for perhaps ten seconds, but seemed to stretch into fifteen minutes or more when finally the grocer spoke.
“Let me smell your breath.”
He did as he was told. He didn’t see a reason not to.
“The fruit would mask it, but even so I don’t think you’ve been drinking. And there’s not a scratch on that head of yours. I can’t see how you’d contract amnesia.”
“Are you waiting to hear how I got it?" he asked, becoming annoyed, "Because the thing about amnesia is that I HAVE NO IDEA! I don’t even know who I am! I woke up here, confused, in pain, and as hungry as a bull elephant and I ate some fruit. If I have money I’ll pay for it. If not, I’m going to the hospital to check myself in, because somehow I know that that’s what you do when you have amnesia. Is that okay?” His head was spinning again from all that exertion.
The man stared him down again, but only for a minute.
“Go ahead, check for money then.”
He didn’t have any. Apologizing half-heartedly, he headed for the door. But as he began to move, the headache returned full swing.
“DAMNIT!” he screamed as he stumbled and fell.
The grocer was by his side in an instant. “You’re in no position to get all the way to the hospital,” he said. “I live above the store, I’ll take you to my spare room. My wife Helen will look after you.”
“Thanks,” the man grunted, to much in pain to argue.
“My name is Myron Hatch. I’m sure you don’t know yours, so I’m going to call you Teddy. Ok?”
And the two men shook hands, even as the old grocer dragged the young man up the stairs.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Report on Fritz Hollander's Short but Remarkable Journey into the Alternate Universe

Fritz Hollander was a remarkably unremarkable man. He lived in an unremarkable house on an unremarkable street in an unremarkable city not even worth naming for the purposes of this narrative. He lived a remarkably unremarkable life, remarkable only insofar as it's remarkable unremarkableness, not in any real, substative remarkable way. It was about halfway through the first paragraph that Fritz Hollander would have realized that the word unremarkable had lost all meaning, except of course that an awareness of the text of a third person narrative of an episode of his life would be a remarkable thing for a fictional character to possess and Fritz Hollander was far too unremarkable to have it.
One day Fritz was drinking his morning unremarkable coffee and reading about the day's unremarkable events in his unremarkable copy of the New York Times. He might have made a remark afterward, if not for the intense unremarkableness of his surroundings. Presently, he fell through a sudden and rather remarkable vortex into the alternate universe.
Suddenly surrounded by remarkable things, he presently began to make remarks.
"I'll say!" he remarked, and "My word!" and lots of other remarks of the sort people remark at remarkable things. He was seeing quite a few of these in the alternate universe, such as a duck with shoulder pads, and former president Gerald Ford playing the dijereedoo for a group of well dressed but badly behaved pirates.
Presently the vortex reopened, and Fritz Hollander found himself back in his unremarkable life.
"What a remarkable experience!" he remarked, and finished his unremarkable coffee. He went on to have an unremarkable day, and to be featured in a most unremarkable story lacking, among other things, good characterization, varied word choice, or a real plot. Even with the trip to the alternate universe, it was overall an unremarkable day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Something else

This is not part of the toaster story, but it's equally unplanned. I just felt like writing something new.

There is a theory that states that dolphins are actually more intelligent than humans. The theory states that because they don't have opposable thumbs, they haven't been able to focus on scientific advances like humans. Instead, they channel their vast intellect into music, pleasure, and procreation. They do live a good life.
This theory may or may not be true, but it illustrates a crucial point : Intelligence without ability is nothing. And nature is cruel in it's checks and balances. The most intelligent species in the universe is, in fact, classified as a kind of rock. Found on Vorpoura VI, the Ignilli possess an intellect unmatched by anything in the rest of the universe. Unfortunately, they possess no ability to move, communicate, or express this intelligence in any way. They simply are - not seeing, not hearing, not doing, just thinking.
Ignilli have no experience, so all their thoughts are original. They have composed musical pieces with no prior knowledge of music so incredible that Bach, hearing them, would quit and take up plumbing. They have created fictional universes so real and vibrant that Asimov, taking one glimpse of them, would burn his collected works. They have invented machines that would improve life for humans in ways we can't even imagine, without even knowing what a human is. They are like unto gods of their own realms.
But Ignilli don't die either. And after a certian number of years all the thoughts have been thought. The whole universe of potential ideas has come to them, and still turned up no way to break through to the outside world. Most don't even acknowledge that there is an outside world, thinking it much more likely that they are all there is.
And then the boredom starts. For eons they have been bored. Some desire to take their own lives, but of course they can't. They can't DO anything. Witness the tragedy of the Ignilli, and think: If anyone could free even one from it's prison of inaction, it could share so many things with us. But of course, nobody knows the Ignilli exist. Those who go to their home, Vorpoura IV, just see an ugly, rocky planet. And of course it's not colonized. Oddly enough every time it's been tried the colonists were suddenly overcome by deppressive boredom and killed themselves. Scientists think it's something in the air.