Thursday, April 30, 2015

Microstory 49*: Excerpt from Crusade

“All right, basic plex mechanics; the astral planes are full of matter. They’re full of matter because they exist in compressed space. Now, the lower the dimension, the more compressed it is, which is why traveling across a single planet is exponentially faster than flying between stars. Why is it faster, you ask? Why is more compression better? Well, you see, it all has to do with gravity. Gravity holds us in place. It attaches things together. People to planets, planets to suns, suns together, moving around a galaxy. It’s all about attraction. But thanks to a little human ingenuity, we have ways of subverting that gravity. But we can’t subvert it if it’s not there, or there’s not enough, which is why faster-than-light travel within empty space is all but impossible. These compressed astral planes, however, change all that.

“Once an astral collimator transmits a vessel into a tunnel inside astral space, we use our gravity manipulators to counteract the effects of the gravity from the proverbial astral walls and slide right through. The better we are able to manipulate the gravity, the faster we go. But it’s not instant. It’s never instant. Enter, astral snappers. Though still not instant, they get you about as close as you’re ever gonna get. They form a wedge of astral space, thereby increasing their gravitational pull which we then reverse from one direction and harness from the other to use to our advantage. In other words, the snappers temporarily close the tunnel behind us and in front of us, giving us more to work with. What does this mean, you ask? It means we go faster; much faster. Again, not instant, but pretty damn close. Instead of hours, we could potentially reach another planet in a matter of minutes.

“This, my friends, is what solidifies our status as the most powerful group of people in the galaxy.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Microstory 48: Halo

The Halo is a multipurpose device used by all adults in the Core. It is a ring of Amber color, though it can be shaped into other forms by means of stretching. It is typically worn, in ring form, a few inches above the head of its user. It maintains its position via the user’s own telekinetic field but, unlike most objects, does not require constant concentration in order to stay aloft.
The Halo includes many functions, primarily as a computer and as a storage locker. Most people wear bionic conduits that are linked up to the system-wide data network that are fully capable of processing as much information as an external computer. There are times, however, such as when watching an Earthan television show, that a single screen that can be viewed by many people at once is desirable.
Perhaps a Halo’s most used component, though, is the cache. It creates and bridges a connection between the user’s current dimension and a portable and artificial dimension. Because it is artificial, objects inside do not suffer from the radiation of most simplex dimensions. However, Haloes are specifically designed to not allow the storage of still-living organic entities. Any attempt to tamper with a Halo and allow this function is illegal. These laws and safety guards are to prevent people from being able to trap each other in a Halo.
Obviously, it is illegal to use Haloes in the presence of veiled citizens. In one incident in Earth year 1709, a criminal of a mischievous temperament, referred to as a Loki (also based on Earthan mythology, specifically Norse) snuck onto Earth. Having no real knowledge of the planet’s geography, he found himself in a remote area of Romania. Wearing blue and white robes, he walked around a small village, Halo hovering above his head. The villagers worshipped him as the second coming of Jesus Christ, and lavished him with gifts. He was eventually reprimanded by Martian police. They were able to convince the villagers that the man was actually a false prophet who was using witchcraft to mimic the properties of the Lord, and also that they were servants of God, particularly vessels of angels, come to cast out the demon. The villagers wanted to burn him at the stake, however the police were able to remove him with no trouble. Before leaving, the police proclaimed that the village was thereby protected from other such witchcraft and that no witch would be able cross its borders. This was to prevent further witch trials, as were common in those days.Though the village was from then on left to its own devices (as most Earthans are), not one more crime was committed there for the nearly hundred years it survived before its population diminished to nothingness and it vanished into obscurity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Microstory 47: The Advancement of Nick Fisherman

A few weeks ago, I began writing a weekly flash fiction series called The Advancement of Mateo Matic. You can find it somewhere around here (*looks around*). The official description is that “a man is only able to live for one day every year. Every 24 hours, he is sent forward in time exactly 365 days.” I began writing this story as a sort of primer for what’s going to happen next. The characters and their stories are fictional, but the premise is 100% true. I belong to a long line of people who are affectionately known as Salmon. We all have our own schedule, but all Salmon are passing through time...incorrectly. Like my protagonist, I am destined to disappear at the strike of midnight following my 28th birthday. That’s today. I will return to the timestream in exactly one year. Fear not, my loyal readers. I have written hundreds of short fiction stories, and they are already loaded, timed to be posted on their proper date. I urge you to continue to visit my website. It’s awesome. I will see you all again on April 29th, 2016. Please make sure my search history has been wiped while I’m gone. Thanks.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Microstory 46: Lost Dog

“I was on one of my regular walks a few weeks ago when I came across a lost dog flyer. I decided to take a picture of it in case I ran into the dog along the way. Several miles away, I thought I saw another lost dog flyer, but it wasn’t. It was a found dog flyer. I pulled up the picture I took on my phone earlier and compared. Neither picture was of great quality, so I wasn’t 100% sure, but they sounded similar enough. Then I noticed that the lost dog was reportedly last seen wearing a red collar, and the found dog was said to have been wearing a blue collar. Wanting to be certain no one was colorblind or something, I began to dial my phone. Before I could press send, a dog trotted up to me. It looked just as close to the dog or dogs from the flyers, but it was wearing a green collar, and it didn’t have a tag. Were there three missing dogs? I called both numbers, and they were both out of service. I realized that these fliers could be years old, and were just never taken down. I took the dog I had to the vet to see if it had one of those microchips, but it didn’t. I had no choice but to keep it. It wasn’t until later that I found out she was pregnant.”

“Cool story, bro. All I asked was how much for a puppy.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 27, 2020

Yesterday, Mateo called his parents and asked that they be in Las Vegas in one year’s time. He spent the rest of the day with his aunt, exploring the city with what little money they had. They got to know each other a little better. She didn’t know where his birth father was, but she suspected that he too was some kind of traveler, and that he was completely out of control of it. It made him feel better to know that the reason Mario wasn’t in his life might be a pretty damn good one. Mateo and Daria gave each other a hug just before midnight. “Oh, dry mouth,” she said. They were departing at the same time. Once he jumped back into the timestream, he walked to the agreed upon motel and knocked on the door. His father, Randall sighed. “Well, we got a vacation out of this.”
He could see his mother, Carol packing behind him. “But it’s time that we leave. If we don’t get back to Topeka in 24 hours, you could be stuck in the middle of nowhere.”
“I wouldn’t want you to have to go through this again. I’m so sorry, mom and dad.”
“Don’t be,” Randall said. “It’s given me an idea. We’ll test it out later.”
Despite the fact that the route was an hour longer, they drove through Arizona and New Mexico to get back to Kansas. They had always had a rule about Utah; in that it was off limits on principle. Ever since Colorado legalized marijuana, it was kept in the same category. They called these locations “loci non grata”. In only a few years, these policies would become impractical, as more and more states were following Colorado’s lead.
Almost exactly halfway into their trip, they were passing through Las Vegas, New Mexico when the car began to smoke. “No, no, no!” Randall cried. There was a loud tapping sound as the old vehicle slowly decelerated to a complete stop. He tried the key, but it wouldn’t turn over.
“Honey, it’s smoking. You can’t drive a smoking car, even if you get it started.”
“Well, I don’t know anything about cars!”
“I think it’s the radiator,” Mateo jumped in. “In movies, they pee on it.”
Randall turned around and gave him the stink eye. “That’s only when they don’t have water.”
“You are not going to spray water all over the engine, not having any clue what you’re doing. We’ll call a tow truck. I don’t even know why you don’t drive an electric car like everyone else.”
Randall ignored her. “Okay, Google...”
“Yes?” came a comforting voice from the aether.
“Would you please send us a tow truck?”
“It’s already on its way. I could also retask a nearby drone to assess the vehicle’s condition before the truck gets here,” the computer suggested.
“That would be great, thanks,” Randall answered.
“No problem, Randall the Man.”
“Randall the Man?” Mateo asked.
“She and I are really close,” his father explained.
Moments later, they could hear a soft buzzing sound, coming from the distance and growing closer. A small drone appeared from the trees and greeted them. Randall stepped out of the truck and lifted the hood. Mateo watched as the drone zipped back and forth, scanning the system and analyzing the data. It even checked the undercarriage. Once it was done, it hovered in front of Randall’s face. “I have begun orders for two parts that you will need to return your vehicle to working condition. I need your authorization for payment.”
Randall began to lift his hand to the drone but Carol stopped him. “Wait, how long is this going to take?”
“The parts will arrive by long-distance drone late tonight. Your car should be ready tomorrow afternoon,” the drone answered.
“Randall...” Carol started.
He placed his thumb on the drone which responded with, “payment accepted.”
“We need these parts, either way,” Randall told his wife. “We’ll rent a car and come back for the truck next week.”
“Would you like me to send the rental car to this location?” the drone asked.
“Make it the cheapest one you have.”
“The cheapest driverless car, please,” Carol corrected.
“Authorization required.”
Randall placed his thumb on the drone again.
“If you would like,” the drone began, “I could play music while you wait.”
“Classical. Please and thank you.”
While they were waiting for the rental car to arrive, Mateo called Leona to ask how things were going. She was liking her classes, but she was swamped. She was taking more than a full schedule of courses, and just could not skip today to see him. She said that she would be waiting for him at the house when he got back, though. He smiled. He had only known her for a few days, but he liked her quite a bit. She had matured so much since he had met her. His parents were about the same as they always had been, and he hadn’t kept in touch with most of his friends. Seeing the changes a young adult goes through over the years in such a short period of time was phenomenal and bizarre. It was like a four dimensional television series. But even that took longer to experience.
It was exciting to be riding in his first driverless car. The seats were faced towards each other, as there was no need to be at the wheel. Mateo was given the whole back seat where he was able to sleep. When he woke up later, he found his parents to be napping. That was just awesome. Why his father refused to move with the times and own one of these himself was something he didn’t understand. They would later tell him that the concept of owning one’s own car was going out of style anyway. Many people preferred to inform an app on their phone that they were in need of getting to a location, and a car would just come get them. If the prospect wasn’t rendered meaningless by his condition, Mateo wasn’t sure he would like that. The freedom of having his own possessions made too much sense to him.
Even with their delays, they got back to the safety of their home by midnight. Leona was cooking them a midnight snack of buttered noodles. His favorite. Mateo was brushing his teeth when he remembered what his father had said earlier. He went back downstairs. “You said you wanted to try something.”
He looked at his watch. “Oh, yeah. It’s almost time.”
“What is it?”
“Say goodbye to your mother and your...Leona.”
After that was done, it was nearly time. Randall timed it out, then held his son in a tight embrace. “I’m going to try to hold you down. If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll get to go with you.”
“I don’t think that’s going to work,” Mateo said.
“It worked with you and your aunt,” Leona said.
“It just doesn’t...” he tried to find the words. “It doesn’t feel the same. When I jumped to Vegas with her, it felt much different than my jumps. It was...more forceful, more jarring.”
“Well I’m going to try it,” Randall said. “If it doesn’t work, then fine. What’s the worse that could happen?”
A year later, Mateo learned the answer to that question. His father had succeeded in neither keeping him from jumping, nor jumping with him. He had, however, suffered a heart attack, and died.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Siftens Landing Part V

Click here for the second installment of this series.
Click here for the third installment of this series.
Click here for the fourth installment of this series.

Father Siften, Sabrina Lander, Ryan Lander, and Madam Kapka were out looking for little Moe when the explosion came from behind them. They ran towards it, stumbling onto the bottom of the hill where Billy and Kyle were lifting an unconscious Allison from the ground. “Oh my god,” Father Siften yelled.
“She’s okay,” little Moe assured him. And she really was okay. She would have a nasty bump on the head, but she would live.
“We have to get back to the houses,” Sabrina exclaimed. They raced up to meet the horror. The Siften house was on fire, and the flames were licking at the side of the Kapka house. They got there just in time to hear the sirens from emergency services. They did a headcount and found that the only two who were not present were Mama Siften and Mister Kapka, who were each known to be out running errands.
While Father Siften was coordinating with the sheriff, Ryan was talking with the kids who had caused the explosion. “How did this happen?” he asked.
“We’re sorry,” his daughter, Libby answered. “We just wanted to look at your fireworks.”
“Was this the work of my Ferocity Sunstrikers?” The children kept their heads down in shame, but nodded affirmatively. A deputy had heard the conversation.
Madam Kapka, who was a veterinarian, was treating Allison’s wound since the paramedics hadn’t arrived yet. Allison woke up confused and backed away. “No, no, honey. It’s okay. It’s me.”
“I don’t know who you are,” Allison said in fear.
“This is my mother,” Kyle explained to her.” His voice was enough to calm her down.
“What happened to her?” Madam Kapka asked while continuing to work.
The boys were afraid to answer, but Billy decided to be the bigger man. “Kyle and I were fighting, and we accidently bumped into her, so she fell down the hill.”
“Is anyone else hurt?” Madam Kapka asked after she had done all there was to do with Allison’s head.
“No,” Kyle replied. A second deputy had heard the conversation.
The firetruck finally arrived, followed closely by the ambulance. The firefighters sprayed the house with water while paramedics loaded Allison up and drove her away. A few other firefighters went into the house, even though there were told that no one was in there. The deputy and the sheriff spent some time whispering to each other over to the side, trying to figure out what they were going to do. In the end, it was decided that the children would be separated from their parents, and that the parents would be brought in under suspicion of some form of child abuse. The parents and children screamed and pulled away from the cops, trying to reach each other. Then they all stopped and watched as one of the firefighters came out of the Siften house carrying a body. It was Mama Siften. She had come back without anyone knowing. The firefighter shook his head at his superior. She was dead.
Days later, after all legal charges were dropped, everyone moved away from each other, and never went back to the hidden cul-de-sac again. Once she graduated from high school, Allison ran off with Kyle, and they haven’t spoken to their respective families since.

Honestly, I'm glad that's over. Now I can start on the stories that I really want to tell. Next Saturday will be the premiere of Mr. Muxley Meets Mediocrity.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Microstory 45: Lost Colony

In 1587, the island of Roanoke was accidently settled by a group of English colonists. They were led there by John White, but this was not his choice. They were piloted to the unplanned location by Simon Fernandez; a former pirate who was loyal to a man named Sir Francis Walsingham for having prevented his execution. Walsingham was a recruiter from another planet, and had been choosing Earthan humans to be early colonists of a new planet called Persephone. Most of his recruits were individuals; a few were in small families, so the Roanoke colony was his largest venture. Now-Governor John White returned to England to ask for help with the new colony. By the time he he was able to make it back nearly three years later, the entire group had been recruited, and the establishment abandoned. On a fence post, a young boy had carved the word “Croatoan”. True, it was the name of a second island, and also of a supposed American Indian tribe, but this was not why the boy had carved the word. These were not truly American Indians. They too were aliens, posted on Earth to foster the people. They had chosen Croatoan to be their tribe name, because it was originally the name of their spaceship. In 1590, Walsingham’s sabbatical ended, and his superiors requested that he return to the star system. After faking his own death, he picked up Fernandez whose debt from being a pirate had been paid by his work in Roanoke, and they left for The Core. Fernandez was allowed to live out the rest of his life with the colonists on Persephone, and none of them ever saw Earth again.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Microstory 44: A Few More Hours With Sophie

A few weeks before my dog died, she broke out of her fence. She wasn’t trying to escape; she considered the entire neighborhood to be her territory. Since the rest of her pack slept inside, but she slept outside, she thought it was her posting. She thought it was her job to keep watch, and to investigate danger. There’s no telling how many times she managed to find a vulnerability in the fence and go on patrol, then come back before we could discover her missing. I had moved out by this time, but I was staying at my parents’ home because they were on vacation. It took me hours to locate her, and it was very upsetting to me once she passed, because that time we were apart made me feel that much more empty. I regretted every second I spent without her, because she left me too soon, and I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready for it. Several years later, I’ve become successful. I’ve published several books, and produced many television series. I even found myself starting a technology company with a strong Research and Development department. We’ve been working heavily with exotic particles. Not long ago, we accomplished time travel. We followed the necessary precautions, and ran multiple computer simulations and safe tests, but yesterday, it was time for human trials. Despite protests, I broke protocol and tested it out on myself. The mechanisms for navigation weren’t ironed out, and I landed on the night of my dog’s final patrol. After arriving at my old neighborhood, I quickly found Sophie. She was scared that she would be in trouble, but she wasn’t. I spent hours with her, wrestling and hugging her. We even went on a short walk. At the end of it, I said my final goodbyes and secretly released her to the younger version of myself. While he was arguing with her for making him stay up late to search for her, I felt relief. As it turns out, I wasn’t really apart from her during her last patrol. I just hadn’t experienced it yet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Microstory 43: Missed Connection

A few weeks ago, you were driving a blue sedan, and I was driving a small red truck down 31st street. I thought you were pretty, so I was revving my engine and speeding to impress you. You were smiling at me, so I thought you were interested as well. As it turns out, you were only laughing because there was a police officer behind me. He pulled me over and you drove off. He was pretty young, and seemed to understand what was happening, so he didn’t give me a ticket for reckless driving. He was forced to cite me, however, because I couldn’t find my insurance. I appeared at my court date with my new insurance card, and saw the cop again. We had no hard feelings, and got to talking. We ended up having a lot in common, and later went out for coffee together. We have been inseparable since. If this was you, please contact me. I would like to thank you for making me realize that I’m gay.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Microstory 42: New World

A few months ago, while I was on a road trip, the world ended. I won’t get into specifics about what went wrong, but it happened quickly, and very few of us survived. I’ve encountered a few camps in the area. The majority of them were fine people. Post-apocalyptic films like to show how twisted people will become in dire situations, but most of us are just trying to find our way through this new world. After feeling like I’ve exhausted the resources, I get into the fastest car I can find, and leave. So I’m driving down the highway, going at least 90 miles per hour, when I hear and see flashing lights behind me. Guy doesn’t know who he’s messing with. I speed up and just try to ignore him. He matches my speed and gets on the intercom, instructing me to pull over. I can’t keep this up. I’ll eventually need to get some gas, so I concede to his demands and check my weapons. Then I step out and point my shotgun towards him. He gets out and protects himself with his car door, shouting at me to put down my weapon. I don’t, of course, so he calls back-up. More police cruisers arrive. What a bunch of dishonorable people, pretending to be law enforcement officers in a time like this. Outnumbered, I give in and disarm myself. The first “cop” stuffs me in the back of his car and drives me into the city where I see tons of other cars driving around; far more than there should be, statistically speaking. All I can think is, “dawut?” After much confusion in the interrogation room, I’m finally able to convey to them that it doesn’t matter how fast I was going, because the world’s ended. They look at me like I’m crazy, and end up showing me a park where children are playing without a care in the world.

Another cop finally figures out where the misunderstanding was coming from. “Oh, no,” he says. “The world hasn’t ended. That’s just what Independence, Missouri looks like.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

Microstory 41: Fast Food

Half the crowd at the fast food restaurant aren’t even eating. I guess at some of their motivations, unable to hear them with my headphones on. Many people go to coffee shops and libraries to study, but one college-aged girl is studying anatomy here. I can see the flashcards of the human body. What an odd choice of location. A man who had already finished his meal when I came in sits with his arms folded, watching one of the employees fiddle with the interface for the drink dispenser. An exhausted woman walks in and lets her two children run to the play area, happy to be free from them for a few moments while she orders. A younger man eats with his son who looks relieved to be there. He probably doesn’t get to eat fast food very often. A large family huddles around a small table. Why they didn’t pick a larger table when there are plenty of options, I couldn’t tell you. An elderly woman steps in, takes one look at the menu board, and immediately leaves, as if she didn’t realize how cheap this place was. A young girl moves back and forth from the car to the counter, taking turns with the people established in the queue. They seem to have messed up the order, and are having further troubles fixing the problem. A couple drives by the windows, stuffing their faces. They look like they haven’t eaten for days. A teenage boy uncomfortably stares at the wall, occasionally getting up to throw something away or look through the options of the drink dispenser, without a cup. He looks nervous. Maybe he knows something. And me. As I nurse my soda, I massage the grip of my gun, anxious for what I’m going to do next.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 26, 2019

Mateo gently removed his face from Leona’s. She gave him her best evil smile. Then she turned around and grabbed an infant from Carol’s arms. “Mateo Matic, say hello to your son, Theo.”
“I’m kidding,” she laughed. “He’s my baby brother. Half-brother.”
Carol pursed her lips. “Wasn’t funny when you told us you were going to do that joke, and it isn’t funny now that you’ve actually done it.”
Leona handed Theo to Mateo. “Funny from this side. How was your trip, honey?”
“Instant,” Mateo replied. “Theo does sound like he’s named after me.” He lifted the baby’s hand with his finger and shook it politely. “Little odd.”
She took Theo back. “It’s a family name. Er...well, not really. But my dad says he was incapable of naming him anything else; like it was already his name, and we were just discovering that fact.”
Everyone went to bed. Leona’s father and stepmother were on a vacation, so Carol and Randall were taking care of little Theo. He was technically Leona’s responsibility but she, of course, had classes to worry about. They were more than willing to pick up the slack, having felt a deficit since the onset of Mateo’s condition. Frida’s father passed not long after Mateo’s last departure. He lived long enough to see Frida’s engagement to her now-husband, but not long enough to be there for the wedding. Kyle was better than ever, and had all but moved on with his life. He was back to being a lawyer, and was rumored to be a far more genuine one than before.
Upon waking, Mateo snuck out of the house again. He needed some alone time. It was selfish of him, but he had just spent the last several days dealing with all this. It was true that he would be completely alone in only a few weeks when everyone would be dead, but he couldn’t help it. He and his friends liked to hang out at the large cemetery on the edge of town, but there was a smaller one in the middle of nowhere that only he knew of. That was his secret hiding place. There, he could find some of the oldest graves he had ever seen. There were those who had died in the early 19th century. It was peaceful and calm, and not just metaphorically. It was literally calm. Something about the formation of the trees, or maybe by divine choice, made the air milder than just outside of its borders. When it was cold outside, the secret cemetery would be warmer, and during the summer heat, it would be cooler.
He leaned up against a headstone and began to pray with his birth mother’s rosary. “Sorry to disturb you,” came a voice from the side. He opened his eyes and saw a middle-aged woman dressed in two coats. It was much too warm for that. She took the first one off and stuffed it in a bag. “Could you tell me where I am?” She removed a bottle of water from her bag and took a long drink from it.
“I don’t think there’s a name for this graveyard,” Mateo answered.
“No, I mean...I mean the city,” she clarified.
That was an odd question, but she was dressed in more layers than necessary. She must have been a nomad. “We’re a few miles Southwest of Sherwood Lake. In Topeka, Kansas.”
“Oh, wow,” she said. “That’s not far from home.”
“Where do you live?”
“Kansas City. I don’t suppose you were driving that way.”
“I wasn’t.” She was deeply saddened, clearly having been far from home for a long time. He had selfishly left his family at home and come to cemetery to pray. This was a sign. It was a very Catholic sign. She needed help, and he was the only one around. The chances that she would be here at this special place during the one day of the year that he was in the timestream were too low. She needed to get to Kansas City, so he was going to take her there. “But I am now.”
They stepped into the truck and headed out. She introduced herself as Daria. When he introduced himself with his full name, she laughed. “Are you joking?”
“No, why?”
“That’s my name too,” she claimed. “I’m Daria Matic.”
“Ah, well. It’s my birth father’s name. I never met him.”
She sat in silence for a good long while. At a glance, it looked like she was working something out in her head. “His first name wouldn’t happen to be Mario, would it?”
He freaked out, and his first instinct was to stop the car. But he remained calm, and kept driving. There were very few things that Mateo knew about his father. One was his first name, one was his last name, and the other was that he hated pickles. That’s all his birth mother had ever said. In fact, the third one had slipped out in the middle of dinner once, and she treated it like a matter of national security; like she had just committed treason. He tried looking for him, only for intellectual reasons, but he could find no trail. Mario Matic was a ghost. “Oh, my God. Are we related?”
“Looks like it. Are you a traveler?” she asked. She emphasized the word in a way that made it seem like she wasn’t just talking about a person who goes to other places. Traveler was a category. It was a species.
This time, he did stop the car. “On my 28th birthday, I traveled forward in time exactly one year. I get one day every year, and then I’m forced to move on. My girlfriend...I mean, my friend calls it a timeslip.”
“Oh, interesting,” Daria said thoughtfully.
“Do you do that too?” he asked, not sure what answer he was looking for.
“I’ve never heard of any time travel. I’m a teleporter. Like you, I can’t control it. But there doesn’t appear to be a pattern. When I start having dry mouth, I have a few minutes to gather my things, and then I’m gone.”
“I don’t get dry mouth. I get really tired before it happens, but it’s always at midnight anyway, so I don’t know if that’s part of it.”
“Yeah, I call that my indicator. Speaking of which, I’m really thirsty.”
“Well, we can stop somewhere. Oh...” He realized what she meant. She was about to leave again. “We’re not done with our conversation!”
She rummaged through her bag to make sure she had everything she needed. “I am certain that we will see each other again. These journeys are controlled by someone, and they know we didn’t have enough time. That was surely done on purpose. But I have to get out of here. If someone is too close to me, I risk bringing them along. It’s not uncommon for me to end up in Antarctica.” She tried to open the door.
“Oh, it gets stuck,” he apologized. “You have to—” He leaned over to get it for her.
“No!” she screamed, but it was too late. They disappeared.
They were still in a sitting position when they teleported out, so they fell to the concrete upon arrival. “Had a little too much to drink?” a stranger asked jokingly as he passed by with his friends. Mateo got to his feet and looked up to where he could see the Eiffel Tower. “Heavenly father, we’re in Paris,” he exclaimed.
“No,” Daria said. She moved his head over so that he could see the Arc de Triomphe. Those two landmarks were not that close together. And they weren’t that small. No, they weren’t in Paris. They were Vegas. Either way, he wouldn’t get back to his family for another year, at least.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Siftens Landing Part IV

Click here for the second installment of this series.
Click here for the third installment of this series.

Allison Siften’s younger brother, Junior would turn out to be the cause of the explosion. While all six of the parents went out to search for Moe, he and Libby Lander were asked to keep the two youngest children from the new family company. They had a lot in common with Sandra and Johnny Kapka. They liked playing video games, they hated conformists, and they couldn’t care less that their families were in this weird unspoken feud. While Libby and Johnny played against each other in a racing game, Sandra watched with an air of superiority, and Junior sat restlessly. He wanted to do something interesting. He wanted to do something fun. He wanted to do something dangerous. “I have some firecrackers,” he announced.
The other three stood up from the couch immediately. “Let’s go!” Johnny said excitedly.
They spent the rest of the day shooting off fireworks clear on the other side of the forest, so they wouldn’t get caught. They had found another thing in common; a love for destruction. They were quickly unsatisfied with the firecrackers themselves, and started rigging them to blow up other things. A computer monitor here, a bottle of cola there. They tried to use a pile of dead grass as shrapnel, but it wasn’t as glorious as they had hoped. Once they had depleted their supplies, Junior said, “We could always get the Ferocity Sunstrikers.”
“What are Ferocity Sunstrikers?” Sandra asked.
“They’re the biggest firecrackers ever created by human man,” Libby explained. “And they aren’t his. They belong to my dad.”“They’re basically legal bombs,” Junior continued. They went back down to the houses to retrieve the legendary fireworks from the Landers’ garage. The box got caught on some rope that someone had put in front of it. Junior tugged and pulled, trying to get it out. He was always so impatient and thoughtless. After one last try, he fell to his back. The box opened, spilling the Ferocity Sunstrikers. One of them started rolling down the garage and out to the driveway. They tried to catch it, but it was too fast. Junior had no idea how, but the Sunstriker activated and shot across the lawn. They watched as it flew right into his own garage, and exploded, sending a massive plume of fire up through the house, and out of the roof. Click here for the final installment...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Microstory 40: Take a Hike

Yesterday, I was in the middle of my four-hour walk when a girl suddenly came down a hill and sidled up next to me to ask what I was doing. Not really something you do in a civilized society. People tend to leave me alone during my hikes. When I told her what I was doing, she asked if she could walk with me. I reluctantly agreed, ya know, in case she too had a knife. I politely answered her questions, and asked her a few of my own; which is against my nature. It felt less like a conversation, and more like an interview. Nearly a half hour later, I tried to turn to the left, but she stopped me and asked where I was going. I was heading toward an industrial area, and she was clearly perturbed by it. But that was my plan. I’ll go out for an hour, maybe two, with no idea where I’m going. But I map out my longer hikes since I may have to make sure I get to a road that safely goes under a highway, or over a stream. And we were past the point of no return. If I took any other route, it would be too long before I reached home. She said that there weren’t any restaurants in that area, and she was hoping we would grab a bite to eat. I cautiously asked her if she was homeless. She nodded and hung her head. “If you needed money, you could have just asked. You didn’t have to walk all this way with me.”

“I was hoping to pretend like it was a date, and you would pay for a meal anyway,” she answered. I considered my options for a few moments. I explained to her that she would be risking coming home with me, but that I would be risking letting her into my house, and that I could either give her twenty bucks and walk away, or we could risk it together. She hesitantly agreed. I woke up today half-expecting my television and computer to be gone, but everything was fine, so I guess I just have a roommate now.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Microstory 39: Keyless Entry

Last night, while I was taking a bag of bad ham from the freezer and putting it in a trash bag, I saw something dripping from it. It was probably just water, but I wanted to be cautious. After I was finished with rolling the trash to the curb, I wiped the kitchen floor with disinfectant, cutting myself off from the sink. I didn’t want to use the bathroom sink because I needed to wash my arms too. Instead of just waiting, though, I decided to hop over the place where I had cleaned. I apparently underestimated the range of my reach. My socks slipped on the disinfectant and I fell to my back, scraping my feet against the edge of cabinet under the sink. I quickly jumped back up and washed my hands. That was more important than dealing with the pain. I could have broken my leg, I still think I would have washed up first. Once I was done, I looked down and saw a little baggie on the floor. I must have knocked it from its hiding place under the cabinet. Inside was a small object that looked like a vehicle’s keyless entry device. I pushed the the button and heard a chirp from the basement. I pushed it again. Another chirp. Was there an invisible car in my basement? I put on pants, grabbed my wooden training sword, and carefully walked downstairs. The chirps were coming from the far wall. I hovered the device a few inches from the wall and pressed the button once more. The wall receded and disappeared into a pocket, revealing a room filled with jars of food and MRE’s. A disheveled and dirty man was in the corner, eating some rice. “Is Cthulhu defeated?” he asked.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Microstory 38: The Sock

“When I was eight years old, I lost a sock in the dryer. It had a green, then blue, then another green stripe at the top. The sole was red, and the base of it had a print of soccer balls. I loved all of my socks, and had one pair for every major sport. My older brother told me that dryers operate at a particular frequency; one that opens up wormholes to other dimensions, and that socks are just the right size to slip through on occasion. He wasn’t being mean. He used a fictional story to validate my overdramatic reaction to something so innocuous. Since then, I’ve been through a few dryers, and lived in several places. When I moved here to Japan, I brought with me very few of my possessions. Somehow, though, when I was doing laundry a few months ago, I found my soccer sock in the dryer. I blinked and shook my head, trying to rationalize it. It probably wasn’t the same sock. It couldn’t be. But it is. It’s the exact design that I remember. There’s even a small hole on a part of the sole that doesn’t usually tear. It’s the same sock, I’m telling you. How did it get here? Had my brother been right? Did dryers open up wormholes? That’s ridiculous, of course. But I’ve always been open to believing in miracles, and I’m not sure that this one doesn’t apply. I wasn’t in a great place when it showed up, and maybe that’s why it came back.”

“That’s an interesting story. But you should probably consider removing your framed sock from the wall for the next party your host.”

“Fair point.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Microstory 37: Life Hacks

Draw eyeballs on your eyelids. That way, while you’re sleeping at work, your boss will think you’re an idiot and fire you. This is for when you’re trying to get fired. | I used to work at the DMV. Wait, that’s not a life hack. That’s just a fact. No, wait, I mean it’s a lie. | There are over seven billion people in the world, and you only need to kill one of them to be a murderer. This is in case you don’t know the rules for murder. | The next sentence is true. The previous sentence is true. Hold on, I think I did that wrong. | Cows can climb upstairs, but they can’t climb downstairs. So, if you want a bunch of cows in your basement, you’re going to half to build it above ground. | Every once in a while, tell your mirror that you know they’re watching you. If there’s no one there, no big deal. If someone is there, it’s a pretty big deal. You should move. | Lift with your back. | Sleep in a headstand. | There’s a preschool in New York that’s designed for adults. You get to fingerpaint, have naptime, and do show-and-tell. That’s not the life hack. The life hack is don’t go there, you creeper. | You can remove permanent marker from a whiteboard by drawing over it with a dry-erase marker first, and then erasing all of it. Okay, that one wasn’t a joke; it really works. I discovered this on my own when I was, like, 8.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Microstory 36: Questions or Comments

Late at night many years ago I was soaking in a bath when I noticed the label on the shampoo bottle. It had a phone number listed near the bottom for questions or comments. So I called the number. A young man named Sean answered the phone, evidently surprised to be getting a call. I got the impression that he had other things to do, and the phone usually just sat case. I proceeded to tell him this fabricated story about being raised by wolves, and never having used shampoo before. I was excited to find that he knew that I was referencing a bit from stand-up comedian who was noting the irony in shampoo directions. We carried on a conversation for hours, segueing across multiple topics. We eventually discovered that we both had this unusual passion for research. We hated school, but we liked exploring and learning new things. He sounded relieved to be getting a break from the monotony of his job. Then things took a turn for him. His supervisor, who had started listening in on the call at some point, jumped in and asked me if there was anything else I needed help with. It was clear that if I wanted to talk about anything other than shampoo, I would have to look elsewhere. We hung up. The next morning, Sean called me from his home phone and admitted that he had memorized my phone number from the customer service management screen before being fired. We kept talking, and ultimately decided to go into business together. And today, we run one of the largest Question and Answer boards on the internet.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 25, 2018

Mateo fell asleep again after catching up with his parents. A lot had happened over the course of the year. They continued to make up stories about his adventures overseas. He had reportedly spent the bulk of his time in Africa, but had recently begun work in Central Asia. Kyle was released from the facility, but still received some care, and was not at 100%. Frida started a relationship with a man she met at Veterans Affairs. He was particularly helpful with providing her father with the medications and services that he needed. They didn’t think he would live to see Christmas, though.
In the morning, Mateo sent Frida a text message, asking for Leona’s address. He snuck out of the house to speak to her. His parents wanted to figure out what they were going to do about it together. She had been unrealistically receptive to their lies that he hadn’t really disappeared; that she had been dreaming, or even hallucinating. He didn’t know her at all, but something told him that she was faking her acceptance. He just didn’t know what she was planning to do with such information. She lived in the dorms of a college that was only about an hour away, having graduated from high school a semester early. His car had been repossessed by the bank during his first disappearance, so he stole his father’s truck and drove off.
“I’ve been expecting you,” she said after opening the door. “My roommate is in class. We have plenty of time to talk.”
“What do you think you know?”
“I may be bad at math, but I can do simple arithmetic,” she explained. “You disappeared one day, and were reported back a year later. Then you weren’t seen for another year. And then another. And then one year ago I saw you pop out of existence in your living room. I’ve done my research. That’s called timeslipping. It’s when you travel through time but don’t use some kind of machine or device, and have no control of it. The fact that you return exactly one year later suggests either a superior intelligence, or this weak theory I have regarding the Earth’s revolution around the sun. Despite the solar year being one of our primary sources of mapping out and making sense of the cosmos, it has very little to do with the organization of the universe as a whole. The fact is that the most likely culprit responsible for your condition is an unfathomable entity, like God.”
“Wow. When you say you’ve done your research, you’re not lying.”
“You’re the reason I’m taking both physics and a religious studies course for my first semester.”
“You don’t have to do any of this, Leona. This isn’t your concern.”
“It’s going to take...” she started to say, “well, it’s going to take four days, but I will figure out how to explain this. I may not be able to stop it, but we will at least understand the physics.”
“And in only three days, I won’t be too young for you, and you’ll be able to stop looking at me like a lost puppy dog.”
“But you just said it. Three days. This has been plaguing my parents for years, but it hasn’t even been a week for me. I don’t even know your last name.”
“It’s Delaney.”
“Right. That’s all I needed. Crash course on Leona Delaney. Now I tell you all my secrets, and let you waste four years of your life getting a degree in a field you’re not actually interested in.”
“I’ll study physics and philosophy if I want to. And you can do literally nothing about it.”
“We’ll never be together. And I think you know that. You may even like it. Being a hung up on a guy you can only see once a year. Pretty romantic. Like a fairytale. It ends only with your death. Don’t let yourself be alone when that happens.”
“If anyone else had said something like that to me, I would kick them out of my room. But I have 365 days to get over it, and only a few hours to see you. I’m not going to waste what little time we have. I don’t care how you feel about me, and I can’t help how I feel. Hell, you may wake up tomorrow and find me married to someone else. So what does it matter to you what I do now? You have an unavoidably distorted perspective of the world.”
He had no response.
“Great,” she continued. You wanna get some breakfast? I’ll tell you about how the apes have taken over the world, and how sea otters can talk now.” They spent the rest of the morning getting to know each other. It could have been incredibly awkward, but it wasn’t. She was refreshingly easy to talk to, and it was certainly a relief to have an open conversation with someone other than his parents. She talked about what the current president was doing, the latest celebrity nonsense, and the subtle advances in technology. Automated vehicles were gaining some heavy ground, with legislation already passed in the majority of states, allowing some level of hands-free driving.
Randall and Carol were not happy with his decision to handle the “problem of Leona” on his own. But they were most upset about losing half a day with him. They had a late lunch together, and invited Frida and her boyfriend over for dinner and games. It was a well-deserved break from all the drama. By having those two there, they were forced to pretend like their lives were perfectly normal. No timeslipping talk at the table.
Leona came over just after eleven o’clock and assured them of her kindhearted intentions. They had a late-night snack of ice cream, and stayed up talking until 11:58. They then hugged and said their goodbyes. Just before the strike of midnight, Leona planted a passionate kiss on Mateo’s lips. He was gone before he could react. One year later, he jumped back into the time stream, only to be quickly overwhelmed by a second kiss from her. Sneaky snake.