State of my Short Stories

So, this past Sunday I put another one of my short stories up here. And while I haven’t heard much reception, I’ve heard people close to me say that I need to be careful when it comes to putting my material up here basically letting people read it for free. Going through this blog, I have published just about five short stories, and altogether I’ve written less than ten. If you ask me, that’s not enough short stories to do anything with.

That being said, I guess that if I have any short stories that anyone with something resembling professional clout could consider “good”, I could go down the route of selling my stories to magazines and the like, and then put them here once it’s painfully clear that publishing them on my blog is the only way I can hope to have my short stories exist somewhere other than my hard drive. Even then, my blog is currently in a state where the only audience I have to speak of is mostly family and friends.

So, where do I go? If I have an idea for a novel or a feature screenplay, that’s not going up here because of just how much effort I have to put into it. Exceptions are:

  • If I write a short story and I post it here to gauge interest in the prospect of the concept being expanded further.
  • If I start a long work based on a short story I write, and the long work differs drastically from the short story. The amount of difference is at my discretion.

This isn’t me saying that I’m stopping the posting of short stories here. I’d say it’s me saying that short stories are probably going to appear here probably less frequently.

Thoughts?

 

Vampire Dinner

And here’s something special: The first short story I wrote after I graduated. It was just a few months after putting Drexel behind me and a month after I volunteered at the Philadelphia Film Festival. I think I got the idea for this story from checking the architecture and old feel I got from hanging around Old City for ten days as a result of being a film festival volunteer. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy.

 

VAMPIRE DINNER

 

Zach walked down the street. It wasn’t too bad; he was no stranger to the streets of Philadelphia. He knew which neighborhoods to avoid, and which parts of the city were seemingly asleep during the nighttime hours. It was just that the whole time he was walking, he was just lamenting that he could save some time and be on a bus if it weren’t for the birdcage in his hands, and the bat inside said birdcage. “What are you gonna do? Risk freaking out a bunch of commuters and risk incurring the wrath of SEPTA? Fucking bastards. ” Zach thought. Zach continued to walk down the streets adorned by rowhomes and illuminated streetlights until he found the one he was looking for.

“Is this it?” the bat asked. “Yep, this is the house,” Zach answered, inspecting the house. “Eagles flag, old Phillies flag, this is it.”

“Come on, Zach. You’ve been here too many times to count. You ought to know what the front of my place looks like.” Zach looked up to the voice that broke his inspection. It was Claudia, sitting on a broom, floating in the sky.

“How long have you been up there watching me?” Zach asked. Claudia looked at the streetlights. “About…five minutes, or however long you started walking down the block,” Claudia answered. She adjusted herself on her broom and flew down to the street, jumping off the broom as she was at Zach’s level. “Anyway,” she replied. “My mom and grandma are home. Hope you brought you brought an appetite.” Claudia looked at the bat in Zach’s cage. “You got a new pet? And you didn’t tell me?!” Claudia hit Zach on the head with the end of her broom. “About that,” Zach replied. “Can we go inside? It’s kind of cold.” The two walked inside.

Inside Claudia’s house, her mother Diana and grandmother Sarah were in the kitchen stirring a pot. The two didn’t flinch when Claudia greeted them with “Hi, mom. Hi, Nonna.” But when the two heard “Hi, Mrs. Agresta. Hi, Mrs. Dupont.” Diana turned off the pot to greet Zach. “Hi, Zach,” Diana said. Sarah eyed the bat in its cage. “So, Zachary, this is the bat you wanted to show me?”

“Yeah,” Zach replied nervously. He put down the cage gently on the floor, opening the door on the cage. The bat let its claws off of the cage bar, flew out of the cage door…and transformed into a girl before the eyes of the four people. “H…hello.” The girl said meekly. Sarah and Diana were mesmerized by the girl’s blonde pigtails, red eyes, and the small fangs protruding from the top of her mouth. Diana moved in front of Rachel, staring at the girl. “What is your name?” she asked. The girl shook where she stood, feeling the eyes of the short Diana stabbing her. “My name is Rachel, I’m six years old,” she answered. Diana looked further at Rachel, focusing on her eyes and fangs. “You’re not telling me everything.” She said. “Who are you really? Where is it that you hail from? What clan do you belong to?” Rachel began to look down at the ground, heart racing and on the verge of tears. “Mom, that’s enough!” Sarah interjected. Diana backed away from Rachel, and Sarah took her place and crouched down to be at eye-level with Rachel. “I’m sorry about my mother. What she was trying to get across was that we want to know some more about you so we can find out how we can help you get home.” Rachel looked up to Sarah. “You can trust me.” Rachel exhaled. “My name is Rachel Paoli Desrosiers. I am pleased to make your acquaintance, ma’am.” “What kind of name is that?” Diana asked. “ Are you some sort of Main Line girl? Does your have a secluded place in Rittenhouse Square?” Sarah shook her head and grabbed Diana’s arm, asking, “Why don’t we focus on dinner?” as she dragged Diana into the kitchen, with the short woman sternly replying with “Is that how you’re going to treat your own mother?”

Rachel turned to Zach and Claudia in confusion. “What does the short woman mean by Main Line and Rittenhouse Square?” she asked. ” The Main Line’s the place where people who got money live if they wanna get out of the city,” Zach answered. “And Rittenhouse Square is where rich people live if they wanna stay in the city. They also got some nice restaurants, a library, and a Barnes & Noble.”

“It’s basically Philadelphia’s Central Park,” Claudia added. Sarah popped her head out of the kitchen. “Zach, Rachel, would you two like to stay for dinner?” she asked. “The Phillies are playing tonight.” Zach lit up, and the next words were “Sure. We’d love to. I’ll just have to call my mom first and let her know I’m here.”

Sarah went backed into the kitchen and rejoined her mother at the stove. “Great, now you’re inviting her to eat with us?” Diana snapped. “What is with you?” Sarah retorted. “What drives you to scare a little kid? Why can’t you lighten up?” With her finger, Diana summoned a wooden spoon and hit Sarah in the head with it. “Ah! What was that for?” Sarah asked while rubbing her head. Diana simply answered with “Don’t ever question or backtalk your mother.”

Zach and Rachel sat down on the couch, seeing Claudia come to the living room with TV trays. “I don’t need any help with anything,” Claudia said. In response, Zach walked up to the TV, flipped through the channels until he saw Tom McCarthy and Ben Davis on The Comcast Network welcoming everyone to Citizens Bank Park. Zach muttered a simple “Got it.” before striding back to the couch, nearly hitting one of the trays. “Hey, watch the setup!” Claudia protested. Rachel simply observed and replied with, “This is a strange group of people.” The vampire serenely focused on the images ranging from shots of Philadelphia that signaled the beginning and ending of commercial breaks to the antics of the Phillie Phanatic. Her concentration was broken with Claudia coming onto the couch telling her to scoot over and Sarah putting plates on the trays. “Hey, Rachel, I hope you like Chicken Parm.” She said. Rachel thanked Sarah for the meal and looked at the plate, taking a sniff of the chicken and the spaghetti. “What’s wrong, little girl?” Diana asked. “Afraid garlic will get stuck in your fangs? Afraid you’ll get something?” Sarah looked at her mother with a glare that read, “Mom, please, for the love of God, don’t start.” which caused Diana to back off. Zach moved toward Rachel and told her, “Hey, if you eat garlic now, you can develop immunity to it. How much would it scare people to see that their repellant is ineffective?” Rachel pondered Zach’s statement, cut into the chicken, putting a piece into her mouth. After a cough and a breath, she took another bite. And then she smiled as if she was thinking, “Take that, nonna.”

Together, the five ate dinner and watched the Phillies play the Tigers. Midway through the game, Sarah asked Zach, “So, Zach, how’d you end up finding Rachel?” “Um, interesting story that,” Zach answered. “I found this bat twitching on the ground, so I took it home to see if I could nurse it back to health enough to a point where I can get it either take it to a vet or release it into the wild like some 90s movie.”

“And how did…well, you know,” Diana asked. “Hang on, I was just getting to that part,” Zach replied. “The bat was moaning and groaning, and when I put the cage away from the window, it just…stopped. And at about 7:00 that night, I hear this faint voice saying ‘Please open the cage’. So I do. And then…the bat flies out, and Rachel transforms and hits my floor.” Rachel looked down to cover her face after the last part of the story was said. “ And I gave her some snacks to nibble on to do something to get her strength back, but she just said that being away from the sun would be enough for her. All I gotta do is cover her cage with a blanket when she has to sleep during the day.” Zach composed himself. “And the reason why I’m here tonight is to ask if Rachel can stay with you guys.” Claudia, Sarah, and Diana all stopped in shock. “Why would you wanna do that?” Claudia asked. “What’s wrong with your place?”

“Well”, Zach replied, “I’m not sure how long I can keep Rachel under wraps from my mom. And I’m not sure how she’ll take a vampire being under her roof. And I know that you guys have the attic that doesn’t get sunlight that only requires a good sweeping to not get stuffy. And two out of three of you seem to have already taken a liking to her.” Zach got blank stares, and Claudia would go on to break the silence, asking “Why are you worrying that your mom won’t let you take Rachel in?” “Because,” Zach answered nervously, “I think that, like your grandma, she’s worried that Rachel will bite her or me.” “Would you like me to help you?” Rachel asked. “It’s bad manners to just bite somebody if they don’t want to, and I’ve heard that when I get older, there are times when I really want to bite someone or something..” Claudia looked at Diana. “Nonna, does that make you feel any better?” Diana only replied “Baby steps. Go to your mother, and then there’s a chance we can talk, Zachary.” Claudia looked at Zach “You hear that? You got my grandma on the path to liking a vampire. I think that you can convince your mom that Rachel won’t be a menace.” Zach sheepishly smiled. “Thanks,” he replied. “Now weren’t we watching a baseball game?” With that reminder, everyone refocused on the TV and cheered wildly at the ensuing Phillies home run. As cheers and high fives went around, Rachel simply focused on the illuminated Citizens Bank Liberty Bell as it rocked back and forth, back and forth. Back. And forth.

When the game ended in a 5-3 Phillies win, Rachel had turned back into a bat and was in her cage and Zach was ready to head home. “Well, guys, I’m off to try to convince my mother why having a six-year-old vampire won’t be a terrible thing.” He said as he picked up the cage. “Well, if you keep Rachel in the cage, you could spin it as convincing her to let you keep a very special vampire bat as a pet,” Claudia replied. Zach simply smiled and gave Claudia a simple “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.” And with that, Claudia, Diana, and Sarah wove goodbye as Zach and Rachel walked out the door into the Philadelphia night, with Sarah telling Rachel to come back soon, and that hopefully, she could convince her mother to let the attic be open for her.

As Zach and Rachel walked home, Rachel hummed to herself in her cage, comfortably in her bat form. “Your friend and her mom are really nice,” she said. “Glad you think so,” Zach replied. “Sorry about Grandma Diana, and I think that maybe either I or Claudia should have warned you beforehand. You’re not too upset about that, are you?” Rachel shook her bat head. “No, I think I’ll be fine. Hey, remember when you said that if I eat a lot of garlic, I’ll develop immunity to it?” “Yeah,” Zach answered. “Do you think that there’s any truth to it? Because I know that garlic can’t kill a vampire, only keep them away.” Zach looked at the moon for a moment. “I don’t know,” he replied. “But I can get some food from the restaurants in Little Italy and test your theory. If you’re right, you can really scare the socks off of Claudia’s grandma.” Zach brought the cage to his face so his face could meet Rachel’s. “But if you’re wrong,” he added, “I don’t want to deal with a severe case of vampire indigestion, okay?” Rachel. Hanging from the bar inside the cage, only answered with, “No promises.” Zach simply sighed, put the cage back by his side, and walked home with Rachel.

Answers

WHAT? A sequel? Yeah, kind of. This takes place after Sirens, which I posted yesterday. This one I wrote in my senior year at Drexel. I wrote this for my Writing Fiction class.  Here’s the class description taken directly from Drexel’s online catalog:

“A creative writing workshop course focusing on fiction. Students read and write short stories. Students develop skills by creating complete fictional works and critiquing the work of other students. Emphasis placed on narrative structure, prose style, pacing, voice and tone, appropriate material, character, plot, description, dialogue, and editing.”

Anyway, this story was originally called A Night At The Bar when I wrote the first few paragraphs for my midterm in that class. The title Answers came when I wrote the rest. I explain it more in the Author’s Notes, and I’m going to leave the date at the end because it captures the spirit of that college student I had doing it for this class. As always, let me know what you think, especially if you want me to expand this further because I think this one has potential to actually be something bigger.

Answers

Steve rode his motorcycle down the dark night streets until he found the familiar turn in the road. And then when he turned right, he found it. The same overpass connecting the two buildings. The hues of the red lights that preceded tons of bars, shops and other…less than savory things. And one thing came to his mind: How long has he been gone, because it hadn’t changed at all. Instead, he just rode down until he found the bar. But this wasn’t just any bar. This was a bar that had posts of work of questionable legality, and just like many of the places in this neighborhood, there was always the prostitute willing to take you for a round…or whatever you wanted for the right price. Steve just walked to the door as he always did. Walking inside he made his way down the stairs to a lower door. And then he knocked.

got some scars to show for it. Be sure that we get your picture taken so your profile can be updated, okay?” “Okay,” Steve replied. And then, Steve’s eyebrow rose. “ What was that about a bombing? That’s news to me.” But then, Jeff was gone tending to another soul. Indeed, Steven had been out of the loop for a while. All that was needed from him was to be a getaway driver, and after a lot of things went south, Steve found himself on the ground writhing in pain and agony, shrapnel in his eye, and in the worst pain in his life as he saw his beloved car be stolen. He could feel he had gotten a raw deal, and he was going to pay for it with his life. The next few months were rehab, conversing with an android nurse called Sakura, and working at his friend’s restaurant to pay his medical bills. But he knew that if he wanted his burden of bills to be a thing of the past, he knew he had to do a job, so here he was. Plus, the thrill was too much to pass up. Putting the scotch and cigarettes on hold, Steve went into a room and got his pictures taken for a file that had the names, pictures, scars, and tattoos of anybody take a job from the establishment. And it was Steve’s turn to have his file updated. He had his picture taken different ways. Front, right side, left side. With his eye patch. Without his eye patch. With his shirt. Without his shirt, that showed all the scars from the bombing that were spread across his torso. When it was finally done, Steve was able to get to the bar and get a glass of scotch and a carton of cigarettes. Steve was contemplating with his scotch and was about to switch to the cigarettes, but then something caught his eye. A young blonde woman, blonde hair in a ponytail sporting a white shirt, a black skirt, and a black necktie to complete the look. And she was going to town on a punching bag, finishing with a powerful punch that saw her punch through the bag like it was nothing. And if Steve wasn’t mistaken, he saw what seemed like electrical sparks come from her gloves. The woman fiddled with her gloves and sat down next to Steve.

“Jeff, I punched a hole in your punching bag. Let me know how much I owe you for it.” The woman said. “Son of a bitch, Christina,” Jeff replied. “I take it your gloves are working perfectly. How wonderful.” “Watch the sarcasm.” Christina retorted. “It’s my goddamn bar. I’ll be the most sarcastic little shit if that’s the mood I want to be in!” Jeff responded. “Anything I can get you, ma’am?” “Not right now” Christina answered. And with that, Jeff was off. “You’re a new face. You look like you come from some high-end part of the city.” Steve extended his carton of cigarettes. “Name’s Steve. Want a smoke?” Christina smirked. “Sure. Why not?” She called on Jeff to give her a light. “Two questions. One, that your motorcycle out front? And two, what happened to your face that got it looking like that?”

“Well,” Steve began. “To start off, I got my face by having Nico’s literally blow up in front of me. My left eye had to be taken out because there was so much freaking debris in it, so the guys who worked on me took it out and gave me a prosthetic with a red pupil. And a cop gave me the eye patch as a “congrats for surviving” present or something. So excuse me for having scars that make my eye look like the sun. As for the scars on my right eye…it’s personal. We haven’t hit it off yet and as a result, I won’t tell you that story.” Steve finished his scotch. “As for the motorcycle, got it at a police auction. Knew I had to get it when I saw the attached sidecar. Looking at it, I saw that said sidecar had a compartment for storing stuff. Makes for a great place to keep a spare helmet for somebody who wants to join me on the road. Getting that thing was the only time I ever splurged since I left the hospital. What about you? And your gloves?”

gloves?” “Alright, Steve entertained.” Where did you get your gloves?”

“Karen Talley designed them,” Christina answered. “Did you ever hear of her?” Steve could only reply with a flat no. “She’s a great engineer. Used to work for a killer scientist, then he just left town. Now it’s just her and the android he built. Nice little thing. Goes by, uh, Sakura, I think? Can’t think of a reason for a name like that.”

Steve’s eyes lit up. “Sakura? That’s the nurse that took care of me. Do you know anything else about either of them? I’ll pay you for information if that’s what you want. But I only want information.” Christina sighed and let out a chuckle. “Fine.” She said, “My place? And maybe I can see your motorcycle?” Steve smiled. “I use the hidden compartment for a spare helmet and goggles,” Steve answered. And with that, Steve paid for his scotch and cigarettes, and he and Christina were gone. Jeff saw the two head out. “Pretty lucky for a guy that had nothing but a hospital bed a few months ago.” he thought.

The two made their way to Steve’s motorcycle. “Pretty nice ride,” Christina commented as she looked at the motorcycle. “If you hadn’t told me about the compartment in the sidecar, I never would have thought that this thing would be at a police auction.” “Yeah, my buddies I went to the auction with said that the thing was caught being used in drug running. Apparently, nobody expects the motorcycle with a sidecar.” Steve replied. Christina asked Steve to take her home. As Steve rode with Christina in tow, he saw the storefronts on the streets turn from greasy spoons and pawnshops and 24-hour bodegas to high-end boutiques and trendy bars with lines going at the door and restaurants with outdoor seating. The whole thing seemed rather surreal to Steve, and women eyeing his motorcycle as he waited at a red light only seemed to solidify that Steve was pretty much a fish out of water.

“So, Christina,” Steve inquired as the light turned green again. “Is it normally like this on the way to the West End?” “Is it like what?” Christina replied. “Do people around these parts normally balk at a guy with a motorcycle? I mean, I’ve never been around here, but it seems that I have all the eyes on me.” “Eh,” Christina answered. “There are nice and flashy cars all the time around these parts, and I don’t think you’re any different. If anything, they’re balking at the site of a sidecar, when normally a girl would be wrapping their arms around the badass biker in a ‘dating they bad boy your dad hates’ kind of way. But either way, you should be around here during the day if you want to see a touch of class. I can’t complain, some of these people pay pretty well.” Steve just sighed. “Don’t worry,” Christina said. “We’re almost at my place.” Steve rode on until he saw the outskirts of a park. The perimeter was scattered with restaurants and luxury condominiums and high-rise apartment buildings. Christina directed Steve to her building The Wharton. As Steve parked his motorcycle in front of the building, he found himself just mesmerized at the sight of the building, not noticing Christina put away the spare helmet and goggles in the sidecar’s compartment and he found himself face to face with a burly, hulking robot when he came back to reality. Further shocking Steve was the fact that there was four of the same model robot in a formation surrounding his motorcycle. “Don’t worry,” Christina assured him as she walked back outside. “They’re not going to hurt you. The Wharton has these things guard vehicles when it gets late, and they’ll disperse when you’re ready to leave. Unless you want to head to a parking garage, that is.” Steve just stared at the robot inspecting him as if the two were about to go into a fight. Steve adjusted his eye patch so his artificial eye and its red pupil could give an illusion of machine versus machine. “Did I mention that this service is free? And that there are cameras watching the entrance?” Christina added. “So there is, huh?” Steve replied. He readjusted his eye patch and patted the robot on the head and walked into the Wharton, following Christina into the elevator and into her dwelling Apartment Number 1017 and as soon as Christina said the words “make yourself comfortable” he was sitting on the couch, albeit gently as he didn’t want to disturb any of the high class that he found himself surrounded by.

“Would you like any refreshments?” Christina asked. “Just a water, I guess,” Steve answered. Christina came to the living room with a water bottle in hand and gave it to Steve. “So,” Steve said. “Tell me about this Karen Talley and this Sakura.” “Okay,” Christina began. “So, there’s this great scientist Dr. Haverford. He’s real great with robotics and whatnot and he’s made a fucking killing. He’s had Karen as his assistant for years.” Steve finished his water. “What about Sakura?” he asked. “Calm your balls, I’m getting there.” Christina retorted. “The thing is, everyone says that Sakura was his last major achievement. Because after he made Sakura, he just fell off the face of the Earth. Karen runs the lab now and she dedicates her time to taking care of robots and making prosthetics and just taking care of people’s robotic needs. Sakura helps sometimes, though, but you know she’s a nurse at…where did you stay?” “Dorsey Memorial,” Steve answered. “There you go. She’s a nurse at Dorsey Memorial Hospital.” “Hey, do you know if Karen is looking for this Dr. Haverford by any chance? Because you just said he disappeared after he built Sakura.” Christina thought for a moment. “Actually”, Christina answered. “I have something that can answer that question. I’ll be right back.” Christina left the couch and headed to a room in the apartment. When she returned, she had a poster and a manila envelope. At the top of the poster in big letters were the words MISSING: DR. CONRAD HAVERFORD. “Karen has been printing these out pretty frequently. I know that because it’s one of the jobs that always seem to find its place on the job board at every bar and club advertising. Must be some cops and detectives that aren’t scared to tangle with my kind of crowd, even if it’s just a way to get leads about things that leave them scratching their heads.” Steve looked at the poster, studying all its details, from the picture of Dr. Haverford to the bottom of the poster talking about the reward being offered for his safe return and/or information leading to said return. As Steve prepared to put the poster in the envelope, Christina snatched it away. “Hey! What’s the big idea?” Steve asked. “It’s a surprise,” Christina answered. “I don’t do it for everybody I give information to. I’ll do it for you because you seem pretty cool.” As Christina answered, her phone rang. “Hello?” she answered. “There’s a guest at the front desk for me? What is she wearing?” A brief moment of silence followed. “A trench coat? Stockings? Black high heels? Sounds like someone I’m expecting

As the elevator returned to the ground floor, Steve gave a small hello to the doorman and Christina’s guest before heading back to his motorcycle. He placed the envelope in the sidecar compartment, but on his helmet and goggles and rode off. He let out a sigh as his traditional sights of old apartments, neon beer signs, and the streetlights above convenience stores returned and adorned the streets. Steve slowed down as he reached Nutter Street, he turned left and slowed when he saw the shine that came from the Chinese restaurant that told him one thing: he had reached home. Steve turned left and stopped, pushing his motorcycle past the sidewalk and turned left into the alley behind his building and putting the kickstand down and opening the compartment to retrieve the envelope before putting his cover over it. “Perks of a police auction.” Steve thought. “They were nice enough to throw in a goddamn cover.” Steve walked out of the alley and walked into his building and trekked up the stairs and into his apartment. Looking at the place, he took in his dwellings and realized that there was pretty much no chance that he would live in as posh dwellings as Christina, even though he was pretty content with that knowledge. As he walked in he heard a meow and a rubbing at his feet. “Hey, Felix,” Steve said to the cat. “You definitely won’t believe who I met tonight.” Steve walked to the kitchen table, sat down and opened the envelope, followed by Felix who jumped onto the table from a chair. When Steve flipped the envelope and shook out its contents, out came the missing poster, along with some other papers. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the surprise that Christina had prepared was pictures of her in provocative attire and provocative scenarios. Along with the pictures came a note:

Steve,

You seem pretty interesting. If you go looking for Dr. Haverford, I wish you good luck. Thanks for the ride home, by the way. Consider these photos a way of repaying you. I’m here if you need some muscle…or a good night.

-Christina

After reading the note, Steve put his hand into the envelope to see if there was anything left Christina placed to surprise him with, and all he found was a card that had Christina’s phone number. “Check it out, Felix,” Steve said to his cat. “She’s really something, isn’t she?” Felix meowed and jumped off the table and walked away. Steve just sighed and put the pictures and card back in the envelope, took it and the poster to his room put the envelope in his dresser and pinned the poster to his wall with a thumbtack. As Steve looked at it, he contemplated. If he could find Dr. Haverford, he could be done with his medical bills for good. And maybe he could buy something nice for his place as well. Not as swanky as Christina’s or any place on the West End, but it would be something. And in the millions of thoughts that raced through his head, Steve thought if he started the search for Dr. Haverford, maybe there was a chance he could figure out how he wound up in the hospital all those months ago. That’s what Steve knew was involved in the location of Dr. Haverford: answers. Feeling good about all that had transpired in the last few hours, Steve finally got into bed and went to sleep. As Steve slept that night, he dreamed of the search for Dr. Haverford on his motorcycle.

The next morning, Steve was up bright and early with the rising sun. The first thing he did after taking a shower and putting food out for Felix was look at the poster. He saw the bottom of the poster and studied the address. As soon as he got the address down pat, he took the poster down, folded it, put it in his pocket, and headed off toward Karen’s lab. Once there, he saw the storefront that read HAVERFORD ROBOTICS and the balcony above featuring an American flag hanging from it. From that image, Steve figured that he had the right place. Before going any further, Steve went into his phone and dialed a number. “Hey, Bobby. Yeah, I’m going to be a little late coming in today. I just have some matters to attend to before I come in. I won’t take too long to come in.” And with that call, Steve only had one thing on his agenda to do: talk to Karen. He walked up to the door and knocked on it. When the door opened, he saw a redheaded woman sporting goggles and a lab coat. “We’re not open yet.” The woman said looking at her watch. “Come back in about three hours or so.” “Are you Karen Talley?” Steve asked. “I am,” Karen answered. “And I told you before, and I’ll tell you again, we’re not open yet.” “Sorry,” Steve replied before taking out the poster and unfolding it. “I just came to see if you had any information on Dr. Haverford I could use before I head off to look for him and bring him back.” Karen’s eyes widened and she took off her goggles. “So that’s the case, huh? I’ve heard some people reach out to me about him, but never come to the front door of my lab, which is right below my residential dwelling.” “Yeah, sorry if this is a bad time. I’ll come back later.” Before Steve could head off, however, he felt Karen grab his arm. “Come in. Come in. I can talk and give you some information.” And with that, Steve was pulled inside Haverford Robotics. Inside, there was a slew of projects, blueprints, and tools littered around, albeit in some form of order, like multiple states of organized chaos. Karen sat Steve down at a table, holding a picture of her and a man that he concluded was Dr. Haverford after looking at the photo and the missing poster.

“Dr. Haverford was my first major job in the field after I got out of college.” Karen began. “He was a really smart guy, a real man who liked to help people. I’ll admit he came a little eccentric and had some out there stuff.” Karen walked off to a wall and came back with some blueprints, unrolling a set before Steve. “Like these gloves he created. The idea was to just punch into a generator or a power circuit or some other appliance and the electricity will spread through the thing giving it power. I feel like he came up with the idea after watching a Happy Days marathon.” Steve chuckled at the story. “That actually makes a lot of sense once you think of it like that. Or at the very least, the idea that you could come up with an electric glove after watching Happy Days. “And then, all of a sudden he just disappears after getting a real lucrative job. He left a note. A note! Said the whole thing was hush-hush and classified, tells me to look after the lab in case he doesn’t call back, and after a few months, Sakura shows up at my door, and she has a note saying how to keep her at full power, that the doc had set everything up so that she will have a job at the hospital as a nurse, and telling me to look after her. I just want to know why he just skipped town and didn’t even freaking write. The least he could fucking do was write, for fuck’s sake! And I’m hoping that he turns up soon because if it turns out he’s kicked the bucket a long time again and the thing had been under wraps for whatever reason, that’ll be a fucking headache for me with all the legal hoopla. I mean, I can run this place by myself pretty well, but I have this gut feeling that he’s out there, and he’s still alive and kicking. I’m not ready to give up faith yet. I mean, maybe he’s doing something to make money to keep the lights on here, who knows?” Karen sighed. “But, at the end of the day, I can’t complain. Because all things considered, Sakura is a great android, and there isn’t anything or anyone like Sakura.”

“Did someone here ask for me?” Suddenly, a rather monotone yet feminine voice piqued the attention of Karen and Steve. The source of the voice was a five-foot tall woman. Or, as Steve and Karen knew, an android made to resemble a woman. She had a small smile on her face as if it was calculated to give the appropriate facial expression to make an impression on the people in the room she was entering.er mechanical mind granted her. “Oh. So you’re the Steve that Sakura was telling me about these past few months.” Karen said. “It’s nice to finally meet you and have a face to the name, and it seems that your appearance matches Sakura’s description.” “How are you doing yourself in the time since you were in the hospital?” Sakura asked. “I’m doing fine,” Steve answered. “My artificial eye is still scanning the names and vitals of people and the models and serial numbers of robots when I look at them with it.” “Ah,” Sakura noted. “It seems that must be a downside to the eye. If you were an android like myself, you would be able to process the information and have it stored in your memory banks in a matter of seconds. Instead, you have to do something to retain the information somehow. Your predicament seems rather unfortunate. But, as in the time of your rehabilitation, you do not seem to be reacting negatively to the situation once you realize the actual situation. But there one thing I do not understand, Steve. What are you doing here?” Sakura tightly embraced the poster and ran off with it. Karen walked off and returned with a new poster for Dr. Haverford. “You’re…you’re most likely not going to get that back, so here’s a new one for you. It’s got the same information and everything.” Karen said. “Like I said, I haven’t seen Dr. Haverford since he left on what I can only assume is some classified project and the last I heard from him was Sakura arriving here. I hope whatever he was doing wasn’t too shady. I mean, I know I sold those electric gloves I showed you to a bounty hunter. I’m not one to dive into crime. But I will tell you, if anyone tries to hurt me or Sakura, I will fight back.”prosthetic arm on a worktable in another room. “I’ll leave you to your work now. I got to get to work.” And with that Steve made his exit, hightailing it on his motorcycle to get to work.

The Hungry One Diner wasn’t the most luxurious diner, but to a lot of people, Steve includedwere twenty minutes you were late by, then we’d have to start talking. Also, next time I probably won’t be so lenient on you.” Bobby hit Steve on the top of his head with his fist. At least you called me and told me this might happen, so I can’t be too angry. But still, ten minutes. TEN MINUTES!” Steve couldn’t tell if Bobby was playfully being angry or was genuinely pissed, but judging by the way Bobby was talking, Steve guessed that the former was the more likely option. “How’d your morning go?” Bobby asked. “Pretty well,” Steve answered. “I just talked about this.” Steve pulled out the missing poster. “I was wondering if we could put it up on the wall because we have announcements about all the other stuff going on in the community. And in case something happens to me, I thought someone would try to go for this.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, “Bobby retorted. “What’s going on? Are you really telling me that you’re talking about jumping back into the game, man?” Bobby pulled Steve’s eye patch and watched as it snapped back to its place over Steve’s eye. “Do you remember what happened last time?” “Yes, I do,” Steve answered. And no offense, but being a cook won’t pay my medical bills as fast as a bounty would, man.” Bobby sighed. “You’re right about that, I just want you to have a place where you’re safe. But, I guess I have to assume that these underworld jobs are things that just keep calling back to you, I guess.” And with that, the conversation ended and Bobby and Steve went inside. As for the day that transpired? It seemed like things would be a normal, run of the mill day at The Hungry One. Bobby and Guy took care of the front of the front half of the restaurant, and Steve would kill it in the back half of the restaurant with the occasional assist from Guy when the occasional swamp of tickets hit, though that particular thing didn’t happen on this day. Instead, it was rather slow, with Steve being lucky enough to catch the occasional news update on TV. Steve had come up with a plan: work for about a month or two, make enough money that he could save for a trip of indefinite length, and head off to look for Dr. Haverford, and find him and bring him home or die trying. The rest of the day, Steve thought that he had a great, concrete, bulletproof plan, and he mused to himself all the things he felt he would need. However, Guy’s metallic voice would break his line of thinking. “Steven, you are needed in the dining room. I can take your place from here.” “Uh…sure. Thanks, Guy,” Steve responded. After making his way into the dining room, Steve stopped in place at what he saw. “Sakura, what are you doing here?” Sakura merely bowed her her head for a brief moment to greet Steve before she spoke. “You intend to go out and searching for my creator,” She said. “I intend to go out with you. Is it possible that we begin our departure and instigate our mission tomorrow?”

 

Author’s Note:

Oh man. It’s done. It’s finally done. With over 5,300 words written in just over 12 hours, writing pages 6 to 15 is probably my most laborious writing effort (or at least the one I had the longest time doing in a quite a while). Anyway, I decided to call this long thing Answers because that’s what seems to be the thing that’s being sought after in this thing. What do you guys think of that title? Does it fit? Do I suck at coming up with titles? The other things I had a bit of a hiccup with were Sakura’s lines if only because I wanted to capture that cold, calculating, monotone voice that’s usually associated with robots and androids. Also, I hope I did a good job in building a coherent narrative. I know that sounds weird, but I usually have the idea for the plot points in my head (with some visuals of the scene as well), and I come up with the dialogue as it comes into my head, and everything snowballs from that. I kind of feel like I’m making a manga in a way…if that makes any sense. Either way, tell me what you guys think. Also, thank you all for reading my story. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

-Martin White II

May 30th, 2016

 

Sirens

Okay, here’s another short story I created from a prompt. This one is from Unwriting Writer’s Block and this is the prompt itself:

“Monday morning I woke up to sirens ringing in front of my house. Sirens are never a good thing, and it obviously made this Monday morning even more annoying than I thought it would be.”

I wrote this for fun in my junior year. Being a film & video major at Drexel University, there are times where you may find yourself with some downtime. What you do with that is up to you. I wrote this in the first person because I thought it would be interesting to write this from the perspective of the three main characters in this story. After the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, I’m not entirely sure if writing in the first person is cool anymore. But I never really cared about being cool, so it is what it is. Anyway, here’s Sirens. Enjoy. Also, be sure to read the Author’s Notes at the end.

Sirens

Steve:

I wake up, and there are a few things that I realize. One, I’m not dead. Two, my neck and my torso feel really stiff. And three, when I woke up, I could see the sirens out the window. I feel like shit. And judging by the fact that I can only see out of one eye, I’m betting I look like shit as well. I still remember the last thing I was doing before I got here. I drove up to the pizzeria, started walking up to the door, and then the explosion. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and a piece of debris hit me in the eye. I can still remember putting my hand over my eye as I tried to chase after the son of a bitch that drove off with my car. And before I blacked out, I could hear a robot repeating the same six words: “You are going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You are going to be okay.” ad nauseam before I lost any feeling. And now I’m in this bed, with most of my head wrapped in bandages save for my right eye and my mouth. I can barely turn my head but I can see sirens from outside the window. It completely sucks. If there was anything I want, it would be somebody talking. It’s just too damn quiet and I would like to hear anything that isn’t a machine beeping my heartbeat. And then I hear a voice:

“Good morning, sir. How are you feeling?”

It’s a nurse. Somebody to talk to. “Like shit,” I answer. She has a clipboard that I’m assuming is my file of my injuries. “Steven Williamson”, the nurse began. “It seems you have had quite the brush with death. Your internal organs suffered significant damage and you had multiple broken bones. We had you in intensive surgery and we had to do much work. There are now mechanical implants in your heart, lungs, and many of the bones of your upper body, and your neck should feel particularly stiff. At least for the first few months or so.” All I wanted to do was tell her why the doctors felt they had the right did all that to me, but since I was near death, I’ll just leave the whys to them. Though there was one thing I had to ask. “What about my eye? Did you get that piece of debris out? Is there a reason you bandaged about half of my head?” I asked. The nurse then had a sort of glum look on her face and walked up to me and started unwrapping my bandages. “It seems the debris did significant damage to your eye and as a result, we had to remove it. In its place is a new artificial eye.” The nurse finished unwrapping my bandages and told me that she had a mirror and asked me if I wanted to see my new face, and I accepted her offer. When I looked into the mirror, I saw that my left eye was now just black, and if wasn’t for a red pupil, it would have looked like my eye had been gouged out. So now I have a mini HAL 9000 for an eye and a bunch of metal in my bones, and in some places where my bones should be. Fan-freaking-tastic. “I was wondering, Steven, where did you acquire the scars on your unaffected eye?” The nurse shocked me with her question, but when I heard her question, I realized that I have two eyes that look kind of weird. “The scars on my right eye are from a cat”. I answered. “I was helping my friend catch his cat so he could put him in a crate so he could move…but he wasn’t cooperating and gave me a few scratches and I dropped him and he just darted off. We put off the cat hunt so I could get treated.” The nurse just told me how much sorry she was for my ordeals. “Don’t be sorry.” I told her “I still love cats. Got one of my own. Also, you’ve been calling me Steven. Steve is just fine.” “Sakura”. The nurse replied. “I am a robot, although when it comes to technical classifications, I am classified as an android. My serial number is SKH-U9699, however, in terms of proper human names, I am called Sakura.” “Sakura, huh? That’s a pretty cool name.” I got started talking about my best friends Bobby and Guy and their restaurant…but then I see her go to a pager and look at it intently. Then she just looks at me. “There is a button on the side of your bed. Please press it in the event you need anything else.” And with that, she left. So now, I’m in a hospital bed feeling like crap with an android nurse taking care of me. At least I’m not dead.

Sakura:

TIME: 6:15 AM

POWER LEVEL: 100%

ALL SYSTEMS OPERATIONAL

GOOD MORNING.

These are the first things I say when I am activated. I can feel the plug being removed from the back of my neck. The woman takes the plug and places it in its latch on my headboard. “Ready to get going, Sakura?” she asks. I reply affirmatively. “Great. Okay, let’s go.” And off we head to her car. You are probably wondering who this woman is, but to do so I think that it would help to explain my history. A scientist who had a peculiar history created me, however, there are many details that I do not know, mainly because after he created me, he disappeared and all the memories I have of him aside from the fact he created me for a project can be found in my memory. Now, I work as a nurse and live with my creator’s assistant Karen in the robotics laboratory that originally belonged to my creator. How can I describe Karen? In her own words she’s “not short, but not super tall either”, she has the most amazing brown hair, and she’s always wearing some eyewear, either work goggles or eyeglasses like now. She works on my upkeep, and I work to help her when I can, and when she is tired, I bring her a blanket at her workstation. Other times, I will carry her to her bed. She is absolutely wonderful. As for myself, I work as a nurse in a hospital. There is a fairly decent amount of rounds for me, and every time I check, the lights of the ambulance sirens are either turning on as they head out, or they’re turning off as they carry another soul that is most likely at Death’s doorstep, though this may be an exaggeration from what I see. Karen’s car parks in the parking lot, and I step out. “Okay,” Karen says. “According to your hours, you should be done at about 7:00 PM, if the stars align. Either way, I’ll be in the waiting room after my jobs are done.” “Very well,” I respond. “If I finish much later than expected, I shall be charging my battery in the break room until it is a safe time for me to walk home. Do not worry about me. I can handle myself well.” And with those words, I hug Karen goodbye and walk into the hospital. I am informed that I have a new patient I am to look after: A patient by the name of Steven Williamson. It turns out that he was one of the individuals that survived the explosion from a few days prior, and now he was awake. I told him about his condition and all the procedures that had to be performed to save his life. I wonder he feels any resentment to the fact that his body was so heavily modified in order to save his life. But when I see his eye, I wonder if he is, as some would say, “crying on the inside”. I feel like I have to say something to lighten the mood. “It seems you now have two eye sockets that bear unique features. Claw marks on the right, and scars surrounding a red dot on the left.” Steven chuckled at that, so I feel that I am making progress in helping him feel better, especially because he informed me that he prefers to be simply called Steve. I can only tell him my own name and serial number before I see that I am required elsewhere. Which is rather a shame, because he seemed like he wanted to go on with his conversation. I walked down the hall, went down the elevator and found in at the receptionist and found my superior Dr. Armstrong talking with a woman I’ve never seen before, a redheaded woman who appeared to be on the short side, a badge around her neck. And she looked at me. “Sakura, is it?” she asked. “I’m Detective Madeline Ackerman. I received word that you have a patient under your care that I need to talk to.” “Is it possible that I can have the name of the patient you are inquiring about? ” I replied. When she told me that the name was that of Steve, I just told her, “Please follow me.” As I took her to Steven’s room I could only feel that she didn’t seem like the joking type Steven made himself out to be. Her face had no emotion. When we reached the door, she only said one word to me: “Thanks”. Not “Thank you”, just an informal “Thanks”. To confess, I have never had a detective come to see me or a person I was caring for before, but in the event anything happens, I fear I may not have the benefits of “doctor-patient confidentiality” on the accounts of myself being merely a nurse. Either way, it is rather interesting to meet new people. And judging by how Steven was rather open, I may have someone interesting in my life aside from Karen.

Madeline:

I have no idea how many nights I’ve slept on this cot in the station or how many times I’ve dozed off at my desk or how many times I’ve just caught some Z’s at my desk as opposed to my bed in my apartment. But it comes with being in law enforcement and at least my captain was cool with having me bring in my own pillow and a blanket. Looking out the window, I see a police car leave the lot and entering the morning traffic, and I see one having its siren being tested. Getting back from putting my blanket and pillow in my locker, I go to get some coffee, and I see some bagels with cream cheese next to the coffee machine, along with cream cheese and smoked salmon and onions and the whole works. When I get my coffee, I see my partner Detective Chris Elliot getting a bagel. “Hey, Chris. You know where the bagels came from?” I ask. “You know that old lady Mrs. Cooper that lives two blocks away from us?” Chris answered. “She decided to come in and give us breakfast. She says she likes to spoil us. You get any good sleep?” he asked. “I mean, I haven’t been able to get any since this explosion investigation, so I’ll take what I can get.” And with that, he went to his desk. When I followed, I went to check the footage of the explosion of the pizzeria. Aside from the people running away and the flames burning, I managed to point out a face, lying on the ground. He was covering his eye, and he was rolling in pain. I’ve seen that guy before. I pause the footage, print the capture, and make my way to the ID system. I place my hand on the print for scanning, and the system activates. “State you name.” it says. “Detective Madeline Ackerman.” I reply. It tells me to hold, and then it scans my hand, my eye, and my voice. “ Analysis Complete. Greetings, Detective Ackerman, what can be done for you at this time?” As I feed the picture into the system, “I need you to find the person in this picture and see if he’s been admitted to any hospitals within a five-hundred-mile radius.” I head to my desk and wait for the results to come. Chris is just looking at me. “What’s the deal with your fascination with the guy in the explosion? And why do you need to check every damn hospital within a five-hundred-mile radius of this place?” After a few minutes on my computer, and my captain telling me that I can sleep on the cots as long as there’s nothing major going on or if there’s a suspect in holding, a small-wheeled robot maneuvers around the precinct and darts to my desk. It prints something from its top and I grab it. “Steven Williamson is admitted as a patient at Dorsey Memorial Hospital. That’s what I needed, Chris.” “You want to deal with that bounty hunter lot? Be my guest.” And with that, and a check-in with my captain, I was off. At the hospital I found a doctor talking to a receptionist. He introduces himself as Dr. Armstrong, and I introduce myself in turn. He asks me what I can do for him. “I ran a database check and it turns out that a patient named Steven Williamson has been admitted to this hospital. I need to see him. Also, can’t I see a guy who was able to get out of a brutal explosion with his life?” “Give me a minute.” he says. I see him go down to his pager and talk into it, and when it seems that he’s going to immerse me in a lively conversation about the Chicago Cubs, an android comes out behind the doctor. “Detective, this is Sakura. She’s been Mr. Williamson’s nurse in the time he’s been here.” And with that, Dr. Armstrong made his leave to another round, and I followed Sakura to Steven’s room. “The patient has been recuperating rather adequately given the circumstances, but he is still not at a point where he can be discharged, much less leave his room. As a result, I advise that you keep his stress levels at low levels.” When I reach Steven’s room, I tell Sakura that I need to talk to him alone. “Understood,” she replies, “I shall be outside in the event that either of you need anything.” And with that, I walk inside and I see Steven. His head is looking out the window, and when he sees me, he just turns off the TV and welcomes me with “Hey, Maddie. What’s up?” One scowl from me and an utterance of “You want to try that again?” leads to him just groaning and a bored, “Good afternoon, Detective Ackerman.” As I feel like he’s starting to show some respect, albeit a shoddy illusion of it, he caps off his greeting with a dry “What do you want?” “Steven Williamson,” I answer. “I’m here to tell you, all six feet, a hundred and sixty-seven pounds and every drop of type O blood in your body, just how lucky you are.” “Save it, ma’am.” he replies. “I know how this goes, you’re here to tell me that when you enter a life of crime or join the ranks of bounty hunters, you’ll either end up in prison, in a box in the ground, or whatever happens after you’re turned to ashes in a giant oven. So I can tell you I already know that me lying in this hospital bed makes me luckiest man on the fucking planet.” He’s good. “My partner would say something like that, but I only say that because he’s right”. Anyway, that explosion, I need to know what you know about the scene. What happened? Do you know anyone involved? Is there something going on that the police don’t know and aren’t being told?” As I interrogated him, he looked at me with this sense of disdain, but at the same time, I could feel that he was putting up a front, like the true him was him trying to call me Maddie, something that I don’t let just anyone do. It’s like he lives on playing me. “Look,” he replied. Even if I were to know anything, why would I tell you and risk my hide? Besides, I’m just a guy who drives a getaway car to whoever needs me. You guys have my record. If anything, when you guys collar me, I’ll go down as an accomplice, at worst. We’ve been down this road before. And before you go any further, I’ll tell you that I’ve never killed a single soul, in any capacity.” The way he talked made me think that he may genuinely not know anything about the situation that put him in this bed. I just had to leave because we were just going to ride each other. As I made it to the threshold of the door I heard him ask, “Has anyone ever said that you make for one hot redhead? Because you do.” “Thank you.” I replied. I circled my left eye and left him saying, “Hope the whole artificial eye thing works out for you.” As I walked out, I checked my hair in my extension from a cabinet holding a fire extinguisher. “I admire your hair.” I could see Sakura in the reflection, and when I turned around, she was already heading into Steven’s room. I checked my hair one more time. I like my hair, and while I hate how Steven can grind my gears, at the same time, there’s something about him that…I need to get back to the station and see if there are any more leads about the explosion. Last I checked, the explosion was an intentional one.

 

Steve:

It was like she knew my balls were still intact because I can tell when they’re being busted. I’m not sure if she enjoys that or what, but whatever I can take, I can sure as Hell dish it back with the same force. Sakura tells me that hopefully, I can start my rehabilitation soon and that she’ll be my nurse for the duration of my stay, though she can’t spend all her time with me because she has tons of other patients as well. Great. Not only can I make a new friend, but at the same time, I feel like I can get on the road to getting out of here.

The next morning, Sakura brings me breakfast, just some plain ass cereal and milk. My arms feel a little stiff as I’m preparing everything, but it just feels good to be back to eating something (though it helped that the hospital had sloppy Joes for dinner last night). As I was eating, Sakura came in with a box in her hands. “You acquired a gift last night,” she said. “It was real late, so it was left with the receptionist.” It was a rather small box, and I have no idea who would give me a present, but I opened it. It was a simple black eye patch, something that could be bought at a pharmacy for five dollars. I could only think that I look pretty cool with an eye patch covering my artificial eye, and it could even counter the disappointment that could come from the red iris not being able to pulsate. There was also a note in the box:

If there is one thing that time knows, it’s that the truth will come out soon.

It always does.

Get well soon,

Detective Ackerman

As I asked Sakura to put the eye patch on me, I could only think of one thing: Maybe Maddie really does care about me in some special way.

 

THE END

Author’s Notes:

And now this is done. I wasn’t expecting that this would end up being ten pages, but here we are. So, the idea of this prompt was that I wanted three different perspectives, and I think I got it. To anybody reading this, do you want me to expand on this? I’m asking because I have something that you could call a bigger story that I may write if you guys want me to, and I kind of hinted at in this. Let me know what you think, and if you want more from this. On a more fun note, there are some fun little references that I slid in. I’ll tell you where they are:

  • An aspect of Steve’s appearance
  • The names of all the characters except Steve
  • Madeline’s hair (It’s part of the way I visualized Madeline. Her hair is one of the three ways I thought up Madeline when writing out her lines. If you get the way the hair plays, feel free to guess the other two women that came to my mind when I thought of Madeline.)
  • The name of the hospital
  • Sakura’s serial number (and if I expand on this, this may become a recurring thing, keyword being may, because for every robot/android, I want there to be a unique serial number for each one.

Can you guess them? If you choose to try and guess them, I wish you good luck. Also, tell me what you think.

 

The Swordfight In The Snow

and So, this story. What can I say about this story? Well, the general idea behind this story came after I watched the movie Frozen and I spent much more time than I probably should thinking about why Elsa never really learned to control her ice powers. So I wrote this as kind of a way to do the “princess with ice powers” thing my way. And then I entered it into a writing contest at Drexel during my junior year. I didn’t win. Anyway, I emailed my parents and they said they loved it and wondered if I was going to develop it further. I never really gave it much thought until recently. So, I want you guys to read it and let me know if you want to read more about this because I think this could be something that goes somewhere. Without further ado:

The Swordfight In The Snow

            Chester was what you could call an early bird. Every morning, he would wake up, eat his breakfast, and tend to the fields and orchards of his boardinghouse, all before he had to get ready for what the day had in store for him. But today was special for Chester. Because today, it was Chester’s turn to head into town and run the stall that the boardinghouse had in the town market, which happened after every harvest that the boardinghouse had. After breakfast, Chester grabbed some crates and headed towards the fields. There, he saw his fellow boardinghouse dweller Clarice eating an apple with a smirk on her face.

“Well, well, well.” Clarice chided. Looks like it’s your day to go to the market and raise money for the house. I’d join you, but I have to practice my sword skills.” As Clarice tried to reach for another apple, Chester smacked her hand. “Yeah, and I would like it if you didn’t eat all of the harvest unless you came to town and actually bought one”. Chester was trying to keep a level head, but sometimes when Clarice played with him like this, his patience would start to wear. “Also”, Chester stated, “I’ll be able to become more of a people person. You know how I’m trying to open up to people, right? Now, if you’re going to stay there and look at me like that, help me pack up the cart”. And so the two would work to pack their horse-drawn cart with their corn, apples, potatoes, and onions, along with all of the produce that made their harvest. Soon, the cart was fully loaded, and Chester was ready to head the market. However, just as Chester prepared to crack the whip to get his horse-drawn wagon moving, Clarice opened her mouth. “By the way”, Clarice blurted, “I saw the Crazy Wizard, and he said that it may snow today.” Just thought you might know. Chester stopped in his tracks, stepped down from his and darted back to the boardinghouse. “You thought you could tell me this earlier, Clarice?” Chester asked as she ran.

Meanwhile, in a castle, a young woman entered her bedroom and moved to her bed where a cutlass was resting inside its sheath. The woman took out the sword and out from the sword and rested it on a desk, then she lied on her bed. Just as the woman was about to get fully relaxed, she heard a voice go: “Marie? Your Highness?” The woman, known as Princess Marie, recognized the voice right away. “Oh. Hello, Sulmnia.” Marie weakly replied to the voice that belonged to someone called Sulmnia. “If I don’t sound too happy to added, “I do KNOW that it’s going to snow today. Would a goddess lie?” Marie retorted with a quick “To screw with me, then a goddess would.” Marie then gave a command to Sulmnia. “Anyway, I’m going to take a nap. Feel free to wake me if it gets on the late side for me to make the market”. Sulmnia responded with a quick, “As you wish”, then closed her eyes, disintegrated into a light, then retreated to the hilt of Marie’s cutlass. After three hours, Sulmnia would manifest from Marie’s hilt. She moved toward the window of Marie’s room and saw the skies turning gray, and could sense the coming snow from inside her body; even if it was just simple flurries and not the blizzard that usually excited her. Sulmnia moved over to the sleeping Marie, and placed a hand on her head, which caused Marie to jolt awake. As soon as she saw Sulmnia, all Marie could utter was, “I hate you”. Sulmnia responded with a cheery, “Oh, I love you too. Now come on, let’s get to the market.” And with that, Sulmnia retreated to the hilt of Marie’s cutlass, and Marie sheathed her sword and put it on a bandolier that she strapped to her back, and grabbed a basket by her door. And with this, Marie made her way out of the palace, telling a guard that she was heading to the market, and not to worry about her.

At the market, things were going well for Chester. He was making great money, and there was always a steady stream of customers. However, when he saw the door open, he was shocked. He had to shake his head and rub his eyes just to make sure that his mind wasn’t messing with him. A young woman had just walked into his market, but to him, it didn’t look like just any other girl. When the woman came to Chester, all he could muster to say was a nervous “y-Your Highness? What brings you here?” Marie only smiled at Chester’s nervousness. “Please, just Marie is fine.” Assured the Princess. “Anyways”, Marie began. “I came here because I heard you have some of the best produce that the city has to offer, possibly the best in the whole kingdom.” Chester scratched his head and replied, “I’m not sure about the best in the kingdom, but my boardinghouse prides itself in great stuff. Just take your time and pick out whatever you like.” Marie then went on to look through all the produce offered to find something that interested her. At the same time, a burly man with a claymore at his side came in and approached Chester, filling him with dread. The man uttered some words that Chester picked up on immediately. “What’d you make today? I’d like some”. As Chester realized he was being robbed, Marie made her way to Chester to pay for some apples and potatoes she had picked out. But after seeing Chester being held at swordpoint and scared still, she put down her own basket, reached for her cutlass, and pointed it toward the man with the broadsword. “I’d put the sword away, if I were you.” Marie warned. But the robber was unfazed. “Don’t make me laugh. You, with that flimsy piece? What do you think you can do to stop me?” Suddenly Marie’s sword began to glow blue, and a flurry of snow rushed out, knocking the robber away from Chester and onto the ground outside. Marie was shocked and went to see if the robber was okay, with Chester not to far behind. As Marie went to see how the robber was doing, Chester could only freeze in fear in the doorway, as he robber would only respond with a grim “I’LL CUT YOU TO PIECES!” Marie dashed to make distance between herself and the robber, and she knew that she had a fight on her hands in the falling snow that seemed to be picking up in heaviness by the minute. The robber charged with his claymore, looking to cut Marie to ribbons, but what he didn’t know was that Marie had enough sword training to hold her own, and she raised her cutlass to meet the claymore’s blade. What followed were a series of parries…and occasionally a burst of snow would come from Marie’s blade, and slush would hit the robber’s face, making him more angry than anything else. “Stupid tricks you’ve got,” uttered the robber. “What are you, some kind of witch?” Marie’s response was to regain her composure and return to a fighting stance, in anticipation of the robber’s incoming attacks. And attack the robber did, as he constantly slashed and stabbed to take off Marie’s head, only to see Marie either block the robber’s attacks with her sword, or just duck or fall to the ground to dodge them entirely. Following what Marie had to imagine was the fifth set of strikes, Marie knew she had to at least try to take the offensive. “Alright,” Marie said. “I’m gonna make sure that you never come around these parts ever again.” The robber smugly readied his sword. As Marie charged toward the robber and began to swing away at him, the robber merely blocked all of Marie’s strikes. As Marie tried to stab the robber in the stomach, the robber just stopped Marie’s cutlass in its tracks, and struck downward with his claymore, causing the cutlass to hit the ground. The robber then backhanded Marie, causing her to fall face first into the snow. The robber then turned to head away from the market, but not before giving some parting words to Marie.   “Humph. You’re out of your league, lady. Go bake a cake or something.” Marie looked at her cutlass, and saw it glowing a faint light blue. “What could this mean?” Marie thought. Marie took a few deep breaths, and picked up her sword. “Hey, where you going?” Marie asked/taunted. The robber stopped in his tracks. “I’m not done yet.” The robber turned around and readied his sword. Soon after, the two were locking swords again. However, every once in a while, the robber would take a heavy swing, only for Marie to miss the blow. Also, Marie noticed something: the robber’s strikes were getting slower. Now was her chance. Marie ducked a strike, then moved back a few steps. When the robber swung to take off Marie’s head again, Marie dodged the blow, and then when claymore and cutlass met again, Marie pushed on her sword causing the robber’s sword to hit the ground, then Marie spun…and her sword hit the robber in the arm. The robber could feel the cutlass enter his flesh, and he could start to see the blood begin to gush from his arm. The robber tried to fight through the pain, but at the same time, he could feel his arm starting to freeze solid from both inside his wound, and his arm. The robber placed his hand over his hand over his wound, and pointed his sword at Marie. “You’ll pay for this.”   That was all the robber would say as he retreated away from the market.

Chester ran outside and saw the robber run away, and saw Marie with her sword. Marie was put back by the look on Chester’s face. “I’m really sorry about all this,” Marie confessed. “I’ll make sure the Royal Guard pays for any damages.” Marie went back inside and picked up her apples and potatoes, in a sloppy effort to regain some form of regality. Marie proceeded to bid her farewell with, “It was nice to meet you, and I hope to see you again at this market.” Chester felt like that now was a great time to close his stand for the day.

Back at the palace, Marie darted to the kitchen and placed the apples and potatoes on a table. Then, she went outside to a lake and just put the sword in the water to wash off the blood. Then she just made it back to her room and plopped on her bed. As that happened, Sulmnia manifested from Marie’s sword. “Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?” Sulmnia asked. Marie let out a small smile and replied, “I guess it was. But when you forced the robber out, and when you froze the robber’s arm from the inside, how did you do that?” Sulmnia just smiled. “I’m a goddess, and let’s just say snow increases my power. I could tell you more, but it looks like you’re pretty tired. Get some rest.” Marie obliged, and just let sleep take over, and Sulmnia retreated back to Marie’s sword hilt.

Chester took as the big seller?” Well, Chester answered as he continued walking. “I met the princess today, and I saw her stop a robbery. I just need some time to myself right now.” Clarice just rolled her eyes and just gave a half-hearted “Whatever.” before biting into her apple. As Chester reached his room, he laid down on his bed and took a look at the ceiling, silently contemplating about all that happened on this snowy day.

 

Out of My Kitchen

Okay, so here’s something interesting I want to do on this blog. I’ve written a few short stories in the past, and I hope to write more in the future The Author’s Notes at the end were just my thoughts that came from when I was writing it. This particular story was written in January of 2016, my senior year of college. The title and plot comes from my response to a prompt from the Tumblr page Unblocking Writer’s Block (and in case you’re wondering, they haven’t really updated from the last time I checked, so it may be dead by lack of updates. Here’s the prompt in question:

“I love you from the bottom of my heart, but I don’t trust your cooking. Stay out of my kitchen.”

If you have a better idea for a title, let me know. Without further delay, here’s the story. Enjoy.

OUT OF MY KITCHEN

“Look, I need the kitchen, I’ll be doing a lot of stuff in here, and I need things to be in some sort of order. So, you can’t be in here. I’ll let you know when you can come back, okay?” Those were the last words Jerry was told before his friend Mary shooed him out the door. Mary walked back into the kitchen and she didn’t get to even open the pantry when she heard Jerry’s voice. “Can I at least know what you’re making?” Jerry asked. “Please?” Ignoring her friend’s pleas, Mary opened the pantry and sighed in disappointment. She opened her refrigerator and all she could utter was a single word: “Really?”

And with that, Jerry found himself outside and the door closing in his face. He had to stop to grab a railing just to stop from falling on his butt on a count of being pushed out of the house. But then, he saw the door open and saw Mary. “Since you’re already outside, can you get these things for me?” Mary asked. Jerry inspected the list and saw what he felt were basic things: Milk, eggs, sugar, all-purpose flour, milk. “How do you not have these things?” Jerry asked. But he only saw a door closing before in his face. “A please or a thank you would be nice!” Jerry spun on his heel and walked away from the house and trekked to the grocery store.

At the store, Jerry grabbed a basket and made his way to the dairy aisle. As he reached the milk, he heard a voice ask “Yo! How’s it going, amigo?” Jerry could recognize the voice immediately. It was Nathan, riding a cart and stepping down just a few feet from hitting Jerry. Jerry greeted his friend. “Hey, Nathan, how’s it going?” “Not too bad, how about you?” Nathan answered. Jerry told him how Mary threw him out of her house because she needed to cook without him getting a word in, and giving her a shopping list “That has to suck.” was all Nathan had to say. “Yeah, it kind of does,” Jerry replied. “Besides, she wouldn’t even let me ask if she needed help or anything. I mean, I know I’m kind of messy, but come on. At least give me the honor of being rejected for crying out loud.” As Jerry grabbed a carton of milk, he was unaware a smirk formed on Nathan’s face as he took his shopping cart and moved down to grab some eggs before heading to the baking aisle. “Hey, you’re a good cook, I know you got skills, so how about we show her what she’s missing out on?” Jerry heard his friend’s words and but only uttered “Uh, sure.” before he walked away. Jerry also heard Nathan yell to meet him at the checkout lines.

At the checkout lines, Jerry was stunned to see Nathan’s cart. He head pasta, ground pork, eggs, cheese, and a slew of food. “What is all this crap, dude?” Jerry asked. “Mary gave me a list. The stuff you got…most of it is not on this thing.” Jerry shook the list in Nathan’s face. “Listen, Grasshopper…”Nathan replied. “We’ll get back to my place, we’ll cook up a storm, and we have to get Mary to apologize for throwing you out, man. It’s a can’t fail plan.” After placing everything on the track to be scanned, Jerry replied with “Fine. But you’re paying for all this.” Nathan just shrugged his shoulders and obliged, and the two walked out. Before heading to Jerry’s house, the two boys drove to Mary’s house. Jerry put the groceries he picked out by the front door and rang the doorbell. By the time Mary was at the door, the two were gone. All she saw was the groceries and a note attached to the bag: “Here you go. See you soon. Jerry and Nathan.” Wondering where the two boys went, she took the bag and went back inside.

A few hours later, Mary would hear the doorbell again. Opening the door, she saw Jerry and Nathan, holding foil pans of food “Hello, boys.” She cheerfully greeted them. But when she saw their stunned expressions she asked, “What’s up?” “What’s up with what you’re wearing?” Nathan asked. Mary looked down and saw how they were looking at her dress. It was a green conservative dress, something out of Little House on The Prairie. The two boys didn’t even notice the bonnet on her head! “Like what you boys see?” Mary teased. She twirled around displaying her dress and signaled for the two boys to come inside, and the two followed her into the kitchen.

When Jerry and Nathan walked into the kitchen, the two were stunned to find on the stovetop there were cookies, a pie, and some biscuits…as well as a mountain of dishes built up in the sink and the trash can starting to overflow. Finally, Nathan broke the silence. “So, what’s with the getup?” he asked. “I’m glad you asked,” Mary answered. “You’re looking at the new Pioneer Jane”. “Pioneer Jane?” Nathan asked. “Yep,” Mary answered. “You are looking at the newest mascot of Samuel Morris High School. Home of The Pioneers. Except Pioneer Joe isn’t here.” Nathan was dumbfounded, and all he could say was “I’m not following.” Jerry explained, “At our school, we have the mascots Pioneer Joe and Pioneer Jane. They have their own costumes and their own backstories, and their own characteristics. It changes every year, and starting next year, Mary here will be Pioneer Jane.” “Ah,” Nathan said. “I think I’ve seen someone dressed like you when we play you guys. We brought food because Jerry here was peeved you wouldn’t let him in to help cook.” “Well, what did you cook?” Jerry and Nathan uncovered their hotel pans to reveal macaroni and cheese; sausage patties topped with fried eggs, and even some freshly made sausages. Mary’s mouth was agape. “Now, why couldn’t Jerry here be in here?” Nathan asked. Mary regained her composure and closed her mouth and answered, “Because you were cooking, and I was baking. There’s a difference.” Nathan could only respond with “What? What are you talking about? It’s all about expression when you’re in the kitchen.” Mary came back with “Yeah, but you can do crazier stuff when you’re cooking. I bake. I have to make sure everything is precise and every measurement is just right, and I have to be sure that I take everything out at the right time. Cooking is an art. Baking is a science. Does that make any sense? Also, I kind of didn’t want you to see me wearing this.” The two boys raised their eyebrows with that last statement. “Wait, Why is that?” Jerry asked. “Yeah, do you like my buddy Jerry?” Nathan added. “No,” Mary answered. “It’s because I’m going to show off my costume at the pep rally tomorrow and I don’t want you two babbling on about it to anyone”. Jerry adjusted Mary’s bonnet. “We wouldn’t tell anyone. Besides, none of the people in this kitchen are what you would call popular, so who would we tell?” And if we did tell, who would listen or care?” Mary rolled her eyes and bonked the top of Jerry’s head. “How about this?” Mary propositioned. “My parents are coming home in about an hour, and the cookies and stuff are how I’m going to tell them I’m going to be Pioneer Jane. If you guys help me with the dishes, I’ll eat your food and I’ll tell you my Pioneer Jane story.” Jerry and Nathan wasted no time in their response. “You got yourself a deal”.

 

THE END

 

Author’s Notes:

So this was a fun thing to write. Most of this I wrote in a few hours listening to the music on my iPhone. I’m kind of like a machine that way. The idea for the Pioneer mascot comes from an idea of a series of high school football rivalries I had thought of a few years ago, where I would showcase a (fictional) high school football rivalries and this would be featuring rivalries from around the country. The idea of the Pioneer mascot came from High school mascots where it was an actual person as opposed to somebody in a costume (think Notre Dame’s The Leprechaun), and the idea of giving the Pioneer character a backstory comes from The Doctor from Doctor Who. The reason being is that while The Doctor is the same character despite the change in actors and each Doctor is different in how they dress, how they take on enemies, and their likes and dislikes. I find that cool. Also, sorry for not showing any cooking. I once tried to write out cooking and I even thought about writing it out here, and thinking about it, I’m not really the best in writing out cooking and making it super interesting. But anyway, I hope you enjoy this story.