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ALL Written Works, Science Fiction

An Evening At Mount Baldy

Here’s an excerpt

“Okay Art, why the hell are you so insistent on screwin’ around here on Mount Baldy this late in the day?” Carl Ransom asked.

“Because of what you found while you and your excavating crew were digging the kid out of the sink hole.” Duggen offered in response.

“What?”

“The weird looking metal shapes where the sand piled up on up the beach over the oak trees.”

“Shit , that’s nothin’ just some old metal stickin’ out of the dunes. Mount Baldy’s been movin’ stuff down the beach burying’ and exposin’ shit like that along the Indiana lakeshore for the last thousand years.”

“Sure, I know. But the metal must have some connection to the sink hole. Aren’t you the least bit curious?”

“I said I’d come along today, with my tool bag,” Ransom said, “but I don’t like it. The whole damn mound area’s been taped off with no traspassin’ signs , since we got the kid out. If the Park Rangers catch us pokin’ around up here, it won’t matter that you were the one filmin’ the kid’ rescue from the fuckin’ hole.”

“Don’t worry Carl, the Ranger’s are done for the day.”

“So, what’s the metal got to do with it?”

“Well, I got something else with my camera while I was filming, about a hundred feet from the sink hole. Another hunk of metal near a group of dead trees, downhill. Something the shore winds must have released from the sand. It looked like it might be some sort of a cover,” Duggen said. “Come on Carl, it’s over this way.”

“This it?” Ransom pointed to a depression in the downhill slope of the sand glinting in the last rays of the setting sun.

“You got it.” Duggen replied. “Give me the shovel from the tool bag; you grab the crowbar.”

On hands and knees, Duggen scooped at the sand around the edges to reveal an oddly shaped covering. Ransom easily loosened it with the crowbar. The lid popped open revealing a dark hole.

Ransom looked over Duggen’s shoulder down into the hole “What the hell do you think it is?”

“Pretty damn dark, Carl,” Duggen said. “Get a light.”

While Ransom foraged in his tool bag for a flashlight, Duggen pointed the LED of his iPod down into the newly uncovered darkness. “Stairs,” he said.

Ransom pulled the flashlight from the bag and handed it to Duggen. Following the light, the two moved down seven steps to emerge in an asylum like hallway that ran off in two directions.

Ransom skidded off of the bottom step. “Carefull, Art.” Ransom cautioned. Acoustics reverberate his warning with a dozen haunting echoes. His elbow smacked against the wall for balance. He almost dropped the tool bag. “Damn slippery,” he said managing to hold his footing. “Smells like a damn sewer in here.”

“Yah, like the tunnels in Nam, “Duggen responded. “Take a look at the markings on the walls. What do you think?”

“Maybe someone has been in here scoutin’ around before,” Ransom answered.

“Wonder when,” Duggen said more than asked. “Walls look like metal. Steel. Maybe lead…Come on.”

They moved along the hallway past another intersection with another entrance. Junctions like this occurred all along the hallway. The surrounding walls were covered in graffiti. “Looks like it’s writtin’ in blood,” Ransom said, “ ….strange writin’, somthin’ I can’t make out.”

“Latin or maybe Cyrillic…ancient,” Duggen offered.

“I guess….kinda’ spooky though.” Duggen motioned. “Here take the light, I want to see if I can get this stuff on my iPod,” he said.

Ransom took the light and moved off along the hall trying to avoid the wet spots on the hallway floor while Duggen took pictures.

“Holy shit, look at this Art,” Ransom yelped. He pointed to a heap that resembled a decapitated body. It sat against the wall just past a junction within the next section of the hallway. The ceiling, covered with icicle like spikes, added to the grisly tableau illuminated by the flashlight he held.

“Some strange kind of a mineral shit Carl,” Duggen reassured. “Plays out pretty strange shapes when it drips down to form stalagmites.”

“Gives me the willies. I’ve seen enough of this shit. You sure you want to keep goin’?”

“Aw come on Carl, there’s nothing down here but you and me. I want to see what’s up ahead.””

An Evening At Mount Baldy appeared in Lovecraft After Dark Anthology

Science Fiction

Stories Make the Best Souvenirs

 

Here’s an excerpt.

Snow fell following the prevailing wind on Ezinor’s frozen moon, Jafe, building drifts of blue methane across the plateau. It had been a short climb for the group up the escarpment from the transport portal to the domed shelter situated near the environmental preserve. Etoch entered the metal igloo and closed the airlock behind him. He leaned against the curved wall momentarily to set down his pike. Then he settled into a crouch, away from the three outworld touristers, near enough to the firepot for warmth. The toursters were already out of their metallic heat suits. Their backpacks, holocams and breathers lay on the floor of the igloo. Each of the three held a food squeeze-pack and sucked greedily from their water flasks.

Etoch tossed the iridescent winter fungi he was carrying onto the dying flames of the fire. He motioned to his great-grandson to take the crisping dactyls off of the spit “Eat,” he said to the outworlders seated on the other side of the firepot. “You will need your strength for tomorrows meta’mu hunt.” Pulling a bit of the smoldering fungus from the fire Etoch lit a stalk filled with crarock seed. He puffed out a cloud of dust, and then brushed the falling distillate toward the firepot with the back of his hand. The dust snapped into a bright blue cloud over the newly replenished fire. Etoch waited for the anticipated gasp from the touristers at his magic foreplay. He watched them closely as they ducked away from the cloud in unison. Chuckling at his power, he shaped the cloud into the outline of a meta’mu with several quick movements of his hands

“Enough of your fuckin’ tricks, o’man,” Colboy, the oldest of the three said. “We were warned about the foolishness we could expect from a local. But I chose you anyway because you have a symbio scar on your shoulder that shows that you are from the tribe of o’man. An o’man might be able to handle the weather here on Jafe without equipment and do magic tricks but what I really want from you are stories about the meta’mu.”

“Yes, o’man,” Yolanda, the female tourister said seconding Colboy’s request. “Tell us about the metallic looking creature’s cohabitation with your people. Is it true that each o’man can have only one mutualism?” She had set her water flask down and was now busily combing tangles out of her raven black hair.

“Damn it Yolanda, that wasn’t part of the agreement with the preserve warden,” Marticus, the youngest of the three countered. His thin dark face grew solemn as he spoke. “You and Colboy know damn well that we’re only licensed to holograph meta’mu in the habitat, not solicit made-up crap from the likes of an o’man.”

“Look Marticus,” Colboy said, “it’s going to be a long night so we might as well have some entertainment, a story or two to take back with us. I’m sure the o’man will oblige us. I’ve heard that the local’s like to tell tall tales and there’s no warden on this side of the portal to stop this one.”

Etoch listened to the touristers argue. He laughed to himself. It was always the same. A group of outworlders would arrive eager to watch and record the symbiosis for themselves. Then they would pass the time on the evening before a hunt asking for folktales to record as souvenirs of their visit to Jafe.

“Now you know why I paid for your services instead of using an andro-bot,” Colboy said to Etoch. “Go ahead, o’man tell us a story,” he urged.

Stories Make the Best Souvenirs appeared  in Romancing the Story Anthology.

Science Fiction

Elements of the Game

 

At one point or another most writers attempt to pay homage to authors who wrote the stories that they read during childhood. Edgar Rice Burroughs tales about John Carter on Barsoom are some of those fond childhood favorites that still cast shadows over the way that I put words to paper. Call it cribbing or down right plagiarism there is no more fun than to try to imitate the style of ones preceptor……here is an excerpt from a tale about John Carter’s great grandson on Barsoom.

 

Praised be to our first ancestor. – Thuvia, Princess of Ptarth

     A clear, sweet a trumpet sounded across the field of Jetan as the gates of Mantor swung open. Resolutely the Orange participants entered single file onto the playing field.  Surrounded by the huge stadium they moved one by one across the polished interlocking squares of black and orange to take their appointed places for the game.  Doctor Leland Roush as Orange Chief moved to the dais of square e-1 with Leowe the Orange Princess beside him on square f-1. Carel and Swank stood on squares b-1 and g-1 respectively, as Odwars for the Orange players.

Vol Kindre, Chief of the Black players, already stood on square f-10. Next to him on e-10 held by two First Born guards was Loewe’s younger sister, Belomei, dressed in dark shoulder furs as Black Princess.

Rising to silence the excited chatter of the assembly, Xaxa, Jeddara of Phundahl bid the Jatan begin. Her champion, the ebony giant Vol Kindre, raised his sword and called out to Roush on the far side of the playing field. “Surrender your players to me, champion of Xaxa Jeddara of Phundahl, for the glory and good of Barsoom and all your lives will be spared.”

Hearing no one give quarter, he commanded, “Lead Panthan f-nine to f-eight.”

After that events transpired with great rapidity with both surprising and totally unexpected events at least from the viewpoint Barsoomian where bloody strife had been the first and greatest consideration of individuals, races and nations for thousands of years.

With Vol Kindre’s first move the yells of participants mingled with wild cheers from First Born allies and the hundreds of assorted nobles in the stands surrounding the gigantic board. The Jetan game of combat to the death began.

Following two feinting moves by Vol Kindre for the Black, that were quickly resolved with but a single Panthan pike thrust for a kill, the forth Orange move by Roush was called. Carel found himself upon the blooded spattered space exposed to Vol Kindre’s next move. A Thoat, carrying its rider, moved diagonally onto the square occupied by Carel.

The spectators surrounding the field leaned forward in their seats after their applause and cheeres that greeted the Black move died away. This was only the second disputed square of the game and a hushed silence of anticipation fell upon the vast assemblage. If Carel went down to defeat by the lance and sword wielding Black player riding the Thoat then Vol Kindre could move this victorious player onto the square occupied by Leowe and the game would be over – over in just sx moves and both Belomei and Leowe lives would belong to Xaxa.

*

It had begun as these things often do with a graceful landing of a slipship. This one returning Carel Clayton, Doctor Leland Roush, Agustis Swank and the two Lotharian shifters Flosirie and Hanold triumphantly to Barsoom from their successful Io mission.

The welcome, headed by Sutterland for the task of rescuing his spiritual granddaughter Leowe and the abducted Therns from Io, was well planned. A medical team, on hand, waited at the ready for any casualties; the contingent of Helium and Dor patrician well wishers, all smiles, stood surrounding the quadrants spiritual minister, Sutterland. Cheers went up from the group standing at the docking portal, as Leowe stepped down from the dilated belly panel of the slipship onto the landing platen. There followed a warm embrace by Sutterland and his granddaughter.

Though jubilation surrounded the return of the rescued Therns, Carel felt an air of trepidation behind the conviviality and looked to Roush for a hint of what he only felt. Known for his ability to read minds, Doctor Leland Roush, the Amtor metascientest, was well ahead of Carel and spoke his readings aloud, “The First Born and their allies the Orovars, Warhoon, Torquas and Thurds are stirring up quite a fuss over the implosion of Io and the eradication of the vampire form of the Gorb.”

Having overheard part of Roush’s comment to Carel Leowe gasped, “What….what did you say?”

“A problem dear girl,” Sutterland admitted his dismay to Leowe. “Quite often one action begets another. What Doctor Roush has said is true. The Black scions of the North are readying for battle because of my action against the Gorb. I have not been able to reason with them.”

“Can’t be true.” Swank muttered,” They don’t even have a tie to those cyborg blood suckers.”

Xaxa, Jeddara of Phundahl,” the Doctor sugested.

“Wasn’t she the Priestess who was reborn into a new body by Ras Thavas?” Carel asked.

“Indeed,” Roush continued, “as a scientist Ras Thavas himself was remarkable. The things he accomplished. He was never intentionally cruel and I am sure not intentionally wicked.”

“But the Hormands… weren’t they the predecessors of the Gorb?”

“Yes, Carel, Thavas was guilty of the most diabolical actions and the basest of crimes; yet in the next moment he might perform a deed that if duplicated upon your ancestor John Carter’s Earth would have raised him to the highest pinnacle of mankind’s esteem.”

“And… the Jeddara of Phundahl?”

“Old again. Aging after a hundred years, but not without power and followers. Living now in the grand palace of Mantor.”

“That’s the jest of it all,” Sutterland spoke to the group. “Xaxa believed that Vald Obannato’s mortician, Raduka Hu could redo the brain transfer of Ras Thavas and put her into a new body. While you were away her giant of a champion Vol Kindre, a First Born, raided the Thern stronghold taking Loewe’s youngest sister, Belomei, to set her body aside for Xaxa’s regeneration.”

“Raduka Hu is no more,” Carel said.

Sutterland nodded his head in affirmation as he spoke, “Xaxa knows that. She’s enraged that her chance to again renew into a fresh body is gone and will now only give up the girl through an outright war or Jetan…”

“Jetan, isn’t that a game like chess?” Carel asked.

 

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Forward or Backward Hummmm – Palindromes.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if we didn’t read English from left to right. Imagine if you read this “sentence from right to left” – this is what you would see – “tfel ot ohgir morf ecnetnes.”

What?

Imagine then a word or sentence that you can read from left to right or right to left  or up to down and still come up with the same thing – that’s a palindrome. For instance the word racecar and the name Hannah are palindromes.

Neither spaces nor punctuation are usually taken into consideration when constructing sentences that are palindromes. The most famous of palindromes is “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.”  Referring  of course to President Theodore Roosevelt.

Palindromes are a type of palingram called letter palingrams.  A palingram is a sentence in which the letters, syllables, or words read the same backward as they do forward. The sentence, “He was, was he?” is a word palingram, because the words can be placed in reverse order and still read the same.

When letter spaces are properly positioned as well, the effect is even better. An example would be another famous palindrome “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” attributed to Napoleon on his first sighting of Elba, the island where he was exiled.

The sentence, “I did, did I?” is not only a word palingram but a letter palingram (or palindrome) to boot.

Palindromes are all over the place and once you know what they are you will realize that many of the words that we use on an everyday basis are considered palindrome words because of their ability to be read forward or backward without a change in spelling.

In fact, there are hundreds of palindromes in the English language. Perhaps we could read from right to left  or up to down if we worked really hard at it. There are even palindrome sentences and palindrome paragraphs that make sense…and some that make very little sense but still work. When creating a palindrome sentence it is not important whether the actual syllables match both ways, only that the letters are correct. However, if you make a palindrome sentence  or palindrome  paragraph that actually has the same syllables and spaces both forward and backwards it is considered even remarkable.

Here is  one example of a palingram paragraph.  The video reads the exact opposite, backwards as forward. Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite up to down:

 [vsw id=”aRG4ySdi_aE&feature” source=”youtube” width=”620″ height=”349″ autoplay=”yes”]

A number of palindromes are given below Can you make up one of your own?                                  

Hannah
dewed
emel
level
racecar
radar
redder
Bob
pop
tot
refer
reviver
rotator
rotavator
stats
solos
tenet
terret
testset
Yreka Bakery
Navan
a Toyota.
Deified
dad
repaper
Kayak
minim
radar
Madam
Race fast, safe car.
A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.
A dog, a plan, a canal: Pagoda.
Desserts, I stressed!
Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.
Live not on Evil.
Madam, I’m Adam.
Never odd or even.
No lemon, no melon.
Was it a car or a cat I saw?
“Not New York.” Roy went on.
Not so, Boston.