28 July 2010

Summer Employment Part 1

I named this part one because I have more stories than I want to put in one post.

I have had the joyous experience of working at an amusement park one summer when I was in college. Ever since I worked there I’ve wondered why it’s called that. There are only a few amusements for the employees, and a lot of people get grumpy when they have to follow the rules. Drat safety. It always ruins the fun.

I was a ride operator. Most of the time that meant I checked lap bars on the roller coasters. It is a rule that the first occupied seats and the last occupied seats have to have two people. This is a safety precaution.

My first day on the job there were two of us checking lap bars, one on each side. The other fellow somehow missed the fact that the last seat on his side was empty. (I should have noticed it too in all actuality.) The coaster started up the lift and the operator noticed the empty seat. Because I was over eighteen I got to climb up the little staircase on the side, climb over the fellow in the back seat, secure myself in the empty seat, and ride. Luckily the train wasn’t that high up on the lift.

A few hours later, the train got stuck at the top of the lift. Once again, because I was over eighteen, I got to climb the little stairs all the way to the top. There was a guardrail, but not really. For someone terrified of heights, I’d rather be safely secured in the stuck train than standing on the platform over a hundred feet in the air, reassuring everyone. Not my idea of a great job.

I worked long days and as everyone who goes to amusement parks knows, there is the same speech. “Please keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Do not stand up. And enjoy your ride.” Just imagine how repetitive that gets. What gets even more repetitive are all the customers who ask, “Does that ever get old?”

Really? They have to ask? We say it every time even if we’ve seen them on the ride a dozen times already.

I think I’ve mentioned earlier that I like to talk in my sleep and that occasionally I hallucinate. That summer was terrible. I would get home at midnight and wake up at three in the morning. My brain would think I was at work so I would sit up in bed and say the stupid line, over and over, and over. At about four I would realize I was at home and not at work and would try to go back to sleep until seven when I would get up and go to work.

It is amazing what people do when they think they are alone. One ride I worked was a haunted house. Just so you know there are normally employees in the back checking on customers to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. The employees stay out of sight but they can still see you. I was running the front of the ride, where I say the blasted speech when one of the supervisors came up. He asked to run it for a while. As a young couple got into the car, my supervisor calmly said. “Welcome, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. And remember this is where you bring your family, not make them. Enjoy your ride.”

25 July 2010


Intro: This is a short story that gives a little history about two characters who are in a novel I'm writing. This story is meant to be complete by itself. (Though it doesn't matter in this story, this is currently the year 2247. The genre is Sci-Fi.) Because I can say so, my novel is called Game Over and hopefully, eventually, you'll see it in stores. Probably not in the near future though. Give me a couple years. Enough rambling, let the games begin.

William looked at Samson and felt the burn of jealous. That’s how he often felt being one of a matched pair. Why not him? His only advantage was the ability to learn by the book. Not much of an advantage when compared to someone who could pick it up on the first try.

“William, are you coming?” Samson asked; his usual smile in place.

With careful hands, William organized his papers and books before sliding them into his satchel. Samson was brawnier and his well muscled arm rested across the shoulders of his girlfriend. Fae smiled at William.

“Are you coming with us to the movie?”

It burned William that there was only kindness in her voice. Part of him wanted to argue that he’d seen her first. He should be dating her.

“I have some studying to catch up on.”

“You can always study later.” Samson said.

“One of these days, you’re going to be forced to be the obedient one.”

“Yeah, yeah. Catch you later.”

William waved good bye and watched his older brother saunter off with his arm still lazily holding her close. At home William finished his homework and then played video games with his younger brother, Justin. Even though William was nearly six years older, Justin could beat him at nearly every game. It was still fun though. Eventually, their mother ordered them to set the table.

“Where’s Samson?” Mother asked.

“On a date.” Justin drawled. “With the ever so lovely Fae.”

Mother threw a dish towel which he caught easily. “You’d better not say anything when he gets home. I’m glad to see him getting out more.”

William carefully set down the plate he was holding. He was sixteen too; shouldn’t he be getting out more? No one ever said that to him. When Samson came home, Justin drilled him about the movie. It was an action flick that was doing well.

“You should have come, William. You would have enjoyed it.”

William chuckled. “Naw, I don’t want to see it with someone as squeamish as Fae. I’ll go with Justin this weekend.”

Justin punched his fist into the air, “Yes. You’re the coolest William.”

“Cooler than me?” Samson asked.

“Completely.” Came the quick reply.

Justin hugged William quickly before running off to his room.

Samson scowled. “He never hugs me.”

“Would you rather have hugs from your little brother or your girlfriend?” William asked drily.

With a laugh, Samson replied, “Pretty obvious answer.” He sobered and flopped down on the couch. “I made a decision tonight.”


“I’m dropping out of school. There’s a tech school that offers the program I want. If I start now I can finish in just under a year.”

“What are you going to do?” William asked. He couldn’t picture Samson not being in class with him. Though William studied more, Samson got decent grades in everything but math. In math he was the star pupil without even trying.

“It’s a mechanical repair technician.”

Before William could say anything, Samson pushed on.

“That’s why I was late coming home. Fae and I went to the school before heading to the movie.”

“And what does Fae think of you changing schools?”

“She’s fine with it. I asked her.”

“What about mom and dad?” William asked. His throat was dry as he sat on the edge of the chair.

“We’ve already talked about it. I finished filling out the paperwork today. I start next week.”

“Next week? But we’re halfway through the semester?”

Samson raised an eyebrow. “They don’t have a set schedule. It’s a self-paced class. I can start whenever I want. There’s no point to wait until the end of the semester.”

“Are you crazy? You could get a degree in engineering, or architecture, or design. You’re going to throw it away to become a mechanic?” William stormed to his feet. “Are you stupid?”

“What’s your problem? It’s not like I’m forcing you to come with me.”

William shook his head and stormed out of the house. Since it was nearly midnight, the streets were deserted in the small suburban neighborhood. Though it was chilly, William didn’t turn back. The park was technically closed at dark but it was relatively easy to climb the large fence. He sat with his back against a tree for the rest of the evening.

When morning came, he stretched his cramped legs and left. He skipped school and instead went for a hike in the nearby hills. At dark, he made himself comfortable in the park again. He heard someone call his name, but ignored it.

The third night from home, William was hungry and ventured towards his favorite hamburger joint. He paused when he saw Fae and Samson sitting in a booth. Fae rubbed Samson’s back. Samson stared blankly at the food in front of him. Dark circles were under his eyes and occasionally shivered.

William watched them for nearly half an hour before sneaking away again. This time, instead of going to the park, he went home. There was a large wisteria bush next to the house by his window. Though he’d grown from the last time he hid in it, he made himself comfortable.

At three in the morning he woke to the sound of Samson’s muffled screams. William closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. The nightmares were back for the first time in nearly two years. Though he wanted to climb through the window and help, William forced himself to stay where he was. Samson was always angry when he helped.

The next evening William walked in, just in time for dinner. Justin hugged him and Samson smiled briefly. His eyes were red and his hands shook.

“If you’re not careful,” William said as he took his seat. “I’m going to steal Fae.”

“Give it your best shot.” Samson replied.

That night, William listened but Samson’s nightmare didn’t return.

“I’ll leave her to you.” William murmured as he drifted off to sleep. “For now.”

21 July 2010

Ultra Light

My family likes to camp. I enjoy it when I actually sleep well (rare for me) and have yummy food to eat. When we camp as a family, the food is amazing. My mom is really good at planning meals and we eat great Dutch oven dinners.

When we go backpacking, it is another manner. I don’t know of anyone who is willing to carry a cast iron Dutch oven, the charcoal, or the specific food in a backpack. It just isn’t worth it.

There was a time in my dad’s life when a fifty pound backpack was acceptable, not so anymore. My dad is a great ultra light backpacker, now. He has everything down to a science and makes backpacking a pleasure, now. His meals are satisfying and tasty, now. It wasn’t always so.

I was the first test subject for his ultra light backpacking. He has since apologized and I bare no ill will, anymore. If you had asked me two days into the trip, I probably would have said something much different. I was miserable. But by golly, my backpack was just over twenty pounds, for a four day, three night trip.
I mentioned in the beginning that I rarely sleep well. This is even true in a bed, camping is even worse. In the backpacking escapade my dad decided that the extra weight of my mummy bag should be replaced with a fleece like sleeping bag. (Where we were going, this wouldn’t be a problem for most people.) I don’t really remember sleeping the first night, or the second night.

As for food, well. I never realized how picky of an eater I was. I didn’t use to like cream cheese on bagels. (That has since changed.) For breakfast we had bagels and strawberry cream cheese. I needed the protein so I munched it down. On the third day of hiking we stopped for lunch. While everyone else in our group pulled out something edible, my dad handed me the strawberry cream cheese and . . . the largest cucumber I’ve ever seen. I think it weighed in at a pound. He’d found the largest cucumber he could. My lunch consisted of only that cucumber with strawberry cream cheese. I didn’t even get halfway through the cucumber. (My dad didn’t finish it either.)

When we reached camp I was starving, and exhausted. While everyone else hiked around and looked at the beautiful scenery I slept. That night my dad was feeling bad about the awful lunch, and probably hungry himself, he pulled out the store bought backpacker’s meal. We feasted on teriyaki chicken and raspberry crumble.

The trip is long over but it is now the family joke that dad will feed people cucumber with strawberry cream cheese. His menu is the equivalent of a Dutch oven masterpiece without all the extra weight.

18 July 2010

Updating the blog

You will probably notice that my blog has increased in size. I write a flash fiction story every week. I have gone back through and added what I've written. From this time forward I will post my stories on Sundays.

Every story will be labeled as "Story" and they will all have a * at the beginning of the title.

I hope you enjoy.

*All in Perspective

Intro:When I was in high school I read a story by Ursula Le Guin that made me consider the perspective of every story I’ve read since then. I wasn’t sure what I was writing when I started this piece but it turned out okay. It definitely isn’t the best piece I’ve written but I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy it.

Spoiler Alert: If you are wondering about the Ursula Le Guin story, it’s called “The Wife’s Story.”

The lion roared and I flinched. It didn’t matter that the lion was securely tucked in a cage of bars. It didn’t matter that there was a small chasm between the cage and the fence I stood behind. All that mattered was there was a giant cat, looking at me as a meal. Well, more of a snack than a meal.

The rest of my family gazed at the elephants, contained nearby. I watched the lion. It walked up and down the cage, liking its jowls and staring at me. The amber eyes pierced my resolve and I turned away.

“Don’t worry. It’s not going to hurt you.” The person who spoke wore the drab brown of a zoo worker.

“I’m not worried,” I lied. It was hard to keep my attention on the employee when the movement of the stalking beast could be seen from my peripheral vision.

“You sure look worried. But there is nothing to be afraid of. There is no way Mr. Gilbert can get to you.”

The name of Mr. Gilbert did nothing to reduce the fear welling in my stomach.

“That’s a stupid name.” I replied turning away from the cage. I had to get away. If I stayed too long, I would be a snack.

It was easy to get to the elephants. They were always fun to watch, especially when they were doing tricks. But today, the elephants’ antics were dimmed compared to the memory of the golden beast. I shook myself and tried to look interested in the pachyderms.

“Are you alright?” Mother asked.

I replied with a mumble. When that didn’t satisfy her, I asked where one of my brother’s was. Mother looked around fearfully and counted. Someone was missing. After listening to explicit instructions about not wandering, my parents scurried off calling for the missing child. In no time at all, I found myself back at the cage.

A story came to mind. Aesop’s fables. The mouse and the lion. Those were nothing but stories though. I didn’t know of a single feline who showed such kindness towards a mouse. And no mouse would help a lion. I absently wondered why anyone would write such a ridiculous tale and make a moral out of it.

The employee came back. I ignored him. But that didn’t stop him from talking.

“Many people wonder how we were able to tame such a beast. It was simple.” There was a long detailed explanation that went into how this particular beast was caught. I knew it was only a story to entertain the younger guests that came to the zoo.

Having heard enough, I calmly asked. “I wonder what really happened in Aesop’s fable. Maybe the lion ate the mouse. Maybe the mouse didn’t help the lion. Or maybe the lion didn’t even pay attention to something as small and insignificant as a mouse. What kind of lion would actually chase a mouse? Seems a little demeaning.”

I started talking to keep the worker from blathering on, but the more I spoke, the better I felt. I looked at the lion who gazed between the bars and chuckled to myself.

“I don’t have anything to fear from you. In fact it makes more sense to fear something not even half your size. A house cat is more intimidating than you.”

The lion yawned and flopped to the ground.

Giggling to myself I scampered over to the rest of my family. My brother had been found and we were headed home for the day. It was easy to avoid the humans’ feet as we scurried out of the zoo and headed home to our nest, under a nearby farm house.

14 July 2010

First Date

My first date normally is in the top of “worst date ever” category. Sure, it started out pleasant enough. I was in a performing group in High School and was able to participate in the Winter Olympics. One of the perks for being a performer was the free stuff. We got jackets and crystal obelisks as well as a really neat bronze medal, thingy. (Not a real bronze medal but made by the same company.) All of those perks came after we played at dozens of venues and missed a lot of school. (Not really a perk. There was a lot of makeup homework. And some of the other teachers weren’t pleased. If I remember correctly, I missed fourteen days of school in a three week period. Granted sometimes it was only part of a day. Something like that anyway.)

One of the first perks was every member of the group got two tickets to the pre-dress rehearsal of the opening ceremonies. I was sixteen, the family approved age to begin dating, and really excited. There was a fellow I knew from another school that I wanted to take. It worked out well that he drove to my school and we carpooled to the city with the rest of the group. We used a park and ride, took the train in to a food court where we had dinner and then rode up to the stadium.

I won’t explain everything that happened that night at the event; I’ll save that for another post.

The first problem arose when we realized that not everyone in the group sat together. The tickets were for two different sections of the stadium. We weren’t too worried because we were still with other members of our group. Trying to use the public transportation to get back to the park and ride was awful. We were separated from most of our group. The train was so crowded that we couldn’t get off at the right station and had to get off at a later station then ride back.

When we finally got back to the park and ride, everyone thought the person who initially gave us a ride would be there waiting. They weren’t. We were left in a dark parking lot while everyone else went home thinking we were with someone else.

We decided to head back to the city and hang out at the mall while we figured out a ride home. Since I asked him, I called my parents. The phone was busy. (My dad was hooking up a new computer and didn’t realize he was connected to the internet, which at that time tied up the phone line.) I knew there was a bus we could take that would drop us off at the high school where my date’s truck was parked.

When I went looking for a bus schedule, my date called his family for a ride home. I had no luck and came back. My date, solemn faced, explained that his aunt would pick us up. He then went on to explain that his mother was currently in the hospital. She had a brain tumor and was undergoing an operation. He had no idea before then.

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what could I say? His aunt gave me a ride home and I never saw him again.

So, I started my new job last week. (By the way, it’s totally awesome.) My first day included attending the weekly meeting. As I was looking around at all the new faces in my department, I paused. Sitting across the room from me was a very familiar face.

My first date.

Part of me really wants to know how his mother is doing but I just don’t know how to bring it up. I haven’t seen him in nearly a decade. What if the surgery didn’t go well? I’ve been told to snoop around his desk to see if he has a family photo, or to casually ask “How’s your family?” But, I just can’t bring myself to do it. We talked a few days later and explained to some of our co-workers how we knew each other. (We were in marching band together yet attended different schools.)

The date was never mentioned.

11 July 2010


Intro: Don't be fooled. This is not Earth as we know it.

After receiving some feedback from someone, I will clarify part of the story. In this world, clouds are not condensed water but breaks in the sky. They are openings to space.

Everything was ready. Randy made sure of that. It was his job and he loved it. Playing with rockets was most definitely the best job in the world. The rocket was in place, the astronauts situated in the cabin. There was nothing to worry about. He'd planned for everything.

Randy paced around the floor, his hands behind his back. Everything he could control was in place. He looked at the sky again and grumbled.

“Of all the days.”

He was brought out of his musings but the radio on his belt.

“Randy? This is Gamma Iota Seven. Do you copy?”


“We may have to cancel the launch.”

Randy looked back up at the sky, a thunderstorm lingered over the nearby mountains. Those clouds were screwing everything up. Randy quickly punched the talk button.

“We are not canceling anything. There's still time for the weather to cooperate.”

A breeze ruffled his hair and he absently patted it down. The clouds moved towards the launch site. They needed to hurry. Randy moved off the observation deck and jogged down the stairs. The control center was nearly forty miles from the launch site and a jeep was ready to take him. When he finally arrived, the windshield had splotches of rain. The clouds overhead darkened and a flash of light cut through them.

“Randy,” the radio beeped, “Are we good to go?”

As the rain came down in larger drops, Randy fumbled with the radio.”Prepare all systems, we launch in five minutes.”

“Aren't you cutting it close?”

With another look at the darkening sky, Randy replied, “I know what I'm doing. Spread the word, five minutes.”

There was a small base of operations protected by a heat shield. The speakers blared the countdown as Randy jogged towards the small building. At two minutes he was safely inside. His hair and shirt was drenched with the rain. The water was coming down in torrents and a bolt of light flashed across the sky, illuminating the large silver and green rocket. With the headphones snug over his ears, he barked orders into the microphone.

The count down continued.

“Ready the engines.”

No one question his orders. He was the best at what he did. As the countdown neared one the building shook. Randy braced himself and watched as the rocket raised into the air. At first it was slow but it picked up speed. Randy covered his eyes as the flames from the engines shot across the small window. When the blaze dimmed, he monitored everything on the displays. He could see the cloud cover, it started to thin a little but the tip of the rocket broke into space. The cloud cover was enough.

The rest of the rocket followed into the break easily. As the last of the ship vanished into the clouds, Randy sat back relieved. A few minutes later, the hole to space disappeared with the fading storm.

The rain ended and he began calculating the next feasible storm to use to bring the men home. He was a weatherman, and he was the best there was.

07 July 2010


Hallelujah. I am once again employed. The problem with starting new employment is learning the new policies and procedures, all the new names, and being introduced to everyone. Blah. How embarrassing.

I feel the need to rant. When making a movie from a preexisting story, you had better do it right. I fear going to the theater because of the selection of movies. I want something original. I don't want a retelling, I don't want improved. I want new. There are a few movies based on books or remakes that I consider as good or (occasionally) even better than the original.

The other great fear I have is “when I'm a rich and famous author” someone will want to make my book into a movie. And it will be horrible. Awful. Horrendous. I mean, how would it look if the author boycotted their own movie? I would argue it wouldn't be my movie. And don't think I wouldn't rip it apart on my own website. But the movie would remain, and I would fear it would automatically compared to my story. Ugh.

04 July 2010

*Thank You

Intro: What a wonderful weekend. I'm glad for the opportunity to remember. Thank you.

A waving flag, a flurry of motion, the sound of a loud brass band. Sally Sue of 3rd West and 42 South waited anxiously. The parade was always the best best part during the holiday, and not just because of the candy thrown from the car windows. The fireworks were always pretty but at age seven, it was difficult to remain awake long enough to see them.

“Sally Sue, come out of the street.” Mother called.

She moved back to the small strip of grass between the road and the sidewalk. It was a hot summer so even with all the watering, the grass was still yellow, prickly, and not comfortable to sit on. Her brother, Timothy James, TJ, was taking up the whole blanket. Sally Sue pranced around on the grass while waiting anxiously.

“Did you hear that?” She asked, edging towards the street and looking around all the legs. There was a cheer further down the street. Did you hear that?” Sally Sue asked again, putting a toe on the asphalt of the road.

“Sally Sue, get back here.”

Reluctantly, she moved back to the blanket where TJ grabbed her ankle.

“Are they coming?” He asked.

Sally Sue poked her head around the legs and looked down the street. There, in the distance, were flags.

“They're coming!” She shrieked. “They're coming.”

TJ ran into Sally Sue's back in his excitement. They waved to the floats and TJ ran around catching all the taffy. As the parade wore on, Sally Sue danced around tugging on Father's.

“Are they coming? Why are they always last?”

Father crouched down. “They're last so we remember when everything is over.”

Another large band went by. Sally Sue ate a stale piece of candy and TJ yelled at her. There were more floats, more cars, more people Sally Sue didn't want to see.

As the last car drove slowly down the street, an air of silence settled on the crowd. Sally moved forward on the edge of the crowd and proudly placed her hand on her heart. Several dozen men and women in uniform, walked along the street. More were riding in cars. Sally Sue rubbed at her eyes and took Father's hand. Grandfather would never been seen in the parade. Sally Sue had never even seen him. Father had only been a toddler when Grandfather's boat was sunk.

Sally Sue blew a kiss to an older soldier and was glad when she smiled. When the last of the soldiers passed by, Sally Sue hugged Father's leg and they headed home. They stopped at the cemetery to place the little flags at the grave of her Grandparents. Sally Sue clutched the flag Father gave her tightly. As she pressed it into the ground she gently touched the tombstone.

“Thank you, Grandpa.”