Good Boy

March 28, 2012

Good Boy

D.A. Bancroft

He wasn’t much older than a boy when he joined the police force. He had barely made his way through the academy. A simple boy that grew up on a farm outside of Chambers, Nebraska, and really had no place in a city like Los Angeles. He also shouldn’t have been promoted as quickly as he did.

“Alright Ricky. Cut the blue wire. The blue one. Go ahead. Cut it.” said Bomb Tech 1st Sergeant Raymond Butte.

“Woof!” replied the fat yellow lab known as Ricky. He wagged his tail not knowing of the danger that laid between his chubby paws.

That danger was a Class III detonator that was attached to a dozen sticks of dynamite. It was located inside of a Mercedes van parked outside of a few buildings downtown. A crowd had gathered after the L.A.P.D. Bomb Squad arrived with it’s lead investigators. Unfortunately, there had been some serious downsizing in the department. As well as some strikes over pay cuts. There was also the problem of a lack of funding in the first place.

In reality Raymond and Ricky were the entire Bomb Squad. But bomb scares were so uncommon these days that the police department figured they could float by on the two dimwits for a while and hope that things picked back up before things started blowing up.

Raymond wasn’t a smart guy, he knew that, but he recognized how his bad situation could end up. If this bomb went off inside of this plaza it would be more than Raymond’s job. It would cost him his severance pay too. Also, it may result in his immediate death.

“Hey man, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” hollered a concerned bystander nearly 40 yards away behind the police tape surrounding the scene.

“Yes, I’m a trained expert. I’ve dealt with situations like this plenty of times before.” lied Raymond. “Now just back away please, my partner is working on the situation.”

The man didn’t listen. “No man. Your partner is a dog. And for the past twenty minutes he’s been locked inside that car. That’s just stupid.” The man started to walk away. “I’ve seen a lot of crap man, but you take the cake. How’d you flunk your way through life”

Raymond’s stomach grumbled. He liked cake. He tried refocusing his attention on the pressing matters at hand. He had to diffuse this bomb and he was running out of time.

When Raymond and Ricky had arrived on the scene they had both suited up and walked carefully over to the vehicle. They noticed the bomb in the back and decided to diffuse it carefully. Raymond knew he had a time limit. So in order to save time, as well as make sure the bomb was safe from people walking around in the plaza, he told Ricky to stay in the van while he went back to the truck to bring some supplies.

When Raymond returned, somehow Ricky had locked himself inside. The recent memory of this made Raymond think that if Ricky was smart enough to lock himself inside a van, then maybe he would be smart enough to pull out a wire. It was at least worth a shot.

“Okay Ricky. I want you to bite the blue wire. Can you do that boy? Can you?” he tried inflecting his voice the way that would entertain a three-year-old. Ricky replied by flattening his ears and looking back with a blank stare.

Raymond put his face up to the driver’s side window. He could see the timer on the device counting down.

Two minutes left.

He and Ricky had not really accomplished much in their short career together. Their magnum opus up to this point in their careers had been that one time when they split that box of two dozen glazed donuts they got for free after one of their “training sessions”.

But maybe that could change today.

“Ricky,” he began angrily. “You better stop your lollygagging and get to work. You’re a trained professional. Act like one for once. We need to show people that we can be the best we can be.”

Another random citizen replied on behalf of Ricky. “That’s the Navy’s thing man.”

“Shut up.” Raymond spat back. “I’m trying to work here.”

“Could have fooled me.” said the man as he walked away.

Raymond cursed the man under his breath and look back down at the timer.

One minute.

“Please. Ricky. Do this for us.” begged Raymond. He hoped this canine could understand him for once.

The dog sniffed the bomb with interest. His belly was wobbling as his head searched around the edges of the bomb. Ricky even tried repositioning himself to smell with greater detail It was as if he had come across a new dog butt’s scent and he needed to know more.

“That’s right. Now just cut the blue wire. Just rip it out.” Raymond perked up. He felt the weight of his suit pulling him down. The heat building up inside of the heavy gear made his clothes stick to him. His underwear felt very uncomfortable.

Ricky then began to lick the bomb.

Just then Raymond then started to see how hopeless his situation was. He had been on the job for less than six months and everything fell apart. He was the only one left on the job and he only knew one thing. Always cut the blue wire.

That was the extent of his training.

Raymond counted all the things he had accomplished in his short life. He hadn’t even been to Disneyland.

Thirty seconds.

As Ricky was sniffing the bomb something miraculous happened. His collar got hung up on some of he wires to the device. With a good enough tug he might be able to disconnect the wires.

Raymond felt heartened. “Good boy. Now…up!” he commanded. He tried gesturing a lifting motion, but the suit made it look like he were miming dropping a hot plate of food.

The dog sat upright and yanked out the blue wire. Ricky’s tail wagged with delight. Raymond’s heart was about to burst out of pride and appreciation that his partner had finally pulled through.

Raymond stood there motionless. He held his breath. For a few seconds nothing happened. Then relief.

In the few seconds after Ricky had successfully saved the day Raymond began to think to himself. He pondered how he was going to turn his life around. Maybe he would actually read the Diffusing For Dummies textbook when he got back to the station. Maybe he’d take a few more notes. He had never learned about red wires, maybe they had something to do with bombs and stuff.

He even imagined taking Ricky out to buy two dozen glazed doughnuts from that place down the street that he liked so much. And since he was going to be the hero for the day maybe the boss would let him take some time off. Some R and R. Raymond imagined taking the time to visit Disneyland.

Then there was a spectacular explosion.

Not much of them were left afterward. Investigators had only found a chubby paw and some sweaty and charred underwear.

A funeral service was held. The two were buried next to each other. After the ceremony somebody had even left a few doughnut crumbs behind on their graves. They would have enjoyed that.

The strikes and pay cuts were ended and real professionals went back to work. Everybody was grateful the city was safe again.

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Happy Birthday

March 25, 2012

“What is it? What did you get me?” asked the rambunctious little boy named Darren. His mother walked into the room holding a bag that he knew would certainly contain his birthday present.

“Oh sweetie, you’ll just have to wait.” said his mother. Her loving eyes playfully narrowed into a weak scorn. She loved her son and she wanted to make his perfect day one that he would not soon forget. She knew she had picked out the perfect gift she just needed to wrap it and hide it.

“Oh come on Mom! Just a peak! Everybody else always gets me okay presents, but yours are the best.”

“Nope. You’ll just have to wait until Friday for your birthday party.” she replied. She knew he was going to have a hard time containing himself. She looked at her husband reassuringly. “And Harry, could you put this up so Mr. Sticky Fingers won’t end up ‘accidentally’ opening his gift to early.”

“Fine. You guys never let me have any fun anyway. Why would anything else change? It’s only my eighth birthday for cripes sakes.” he said with a pouting bottom lip.

Today was Monday. Darren knew his tiny little brain couldn’t possibly wait that long to open that present. Immediately he decided he was going to scheme his way into peering into that delicious box. He had to see what lie within. Even if it meant getting in a little bit of trouble.

It took him many hours of scouring around the house to find where his present was hidden. He had to hide his scouting missions because if his parents noticed what he was up to the jig would surely be up.

On Wednesday he eventually found it. The top shelf of his parents closet. They had tried covering it with some older sweaters but some of the wrapping paper still shown through.

Target acquired, now it was time to move in for the kill.

Darren waited until the evening when his parents had left to go to a friends house. They sometimes left him alone at home when they wouldn’t be gone for long. This was his only opportunity. He had all the steps laid out ahead of time. All it took was a quick hand and a sensitive ear.

When they said their goodbye and walked out of the door Darren sprang into work.

He raced to the garage and brought the step ladder and a roll of clear tape with him up to his parents bedroom.

He locked eyes on the present and quickly retrieved it the way he had practiced it in his mind.

Success. So far so good.

It was beautiful. Bright blue paper with a golden bow to top it off. He decided that if he just removed the pieces of tape that were holding the wrapping together he should be able to slide out his prize take a peek. Later he would replace them and just follow the folds to make it seem like he never even touched it. He even took a note of how the sweaters rested on the present before his retrieval.

The plan was flawless.

For each sliver of tape that he removed he checked over his shoulder. He perked up, wide eyed like a meerkat, at every sound that the house made. He knew he would surely be punished if he were caught. He kept up his pace like a surgeon trying to save a life. Delicate work that had to be done quickly.

Finally he got to the brown box that was hidden. It revealed nothing. He listened for his parents and continued further into the mystery. Just a peek is all he desired…but his urged yearned for more.

As he pulled back the flaps of the box to reveal his little surprise.

What he saw left him feeling a little perplexed, but excited none the less. It may not be exactly what he wanted, but he knew how to get it.

He gave himself a devilish little smile.

 

***

 

Jessica and Harry pulled into the driveway having only been out of the house for 45 minutes. They had just gotten back from a friends house where they dropped off some Tupperware they had borrowed. As they walked up to their front door they could smell smoke. They feared their son, whom they had left alone for only a few minutes, was in danger.

They threw open the door to see their young boy sitting at the dining room table happily eating a piece of blackened toast. Smoke still hung in the air throughout the house.

“What’s happened here?” they said in unison.

“Sorry to ruin the surprise. But I couldn’t help myself.” said the little red-headed rascal they called their son.

The little boy took hold of a butter knife and applied some more butter to his slice of charred toast. There were several plates with burnt up slices on top of them. Small stacks of ten each dripping with butter scattered around the table.

“A toaster! The best birthday present ever! I love you mommy and daddy!” said the tiny future-arsonist. He slipped out of his chair and gave his parents the nearly eight year old equivalent of a bear hug.

Jessica and Harry looked at each other with curiosity.

Jessica spoke up. “Honey, what toaster are you talking about? We don’t own a toaster.” She tried to hide her growing anger. Her son had nearly burnt the house down.

“Jessica,” started Harry. “The toaster was for you. Happy early birthday.”

Harry tried to compensate. “At least he didn’t find the Transformer we bought him.”

Darren offered them both a heavily buttered slice of carbon and asked, “Well, if the toaster wasn’t for me, can I still get my Transformer?”

His parents agreed. They had burnt toast for dinner and Darren had is Transformer early.

The plan had worked perfectly.

The Man in Blue

March 20, 2012

(Author’s Note: This story is just a shell of what it should be. I completed the story parts…but decided I would save a much better edit until later. That means this is a very rough cut of the story I’ve been working on. Sorry it’s not more polished. I’m just a little too excited to share it I guess.)

The storm outside was relentless. The drops sounded like they were the size of quarters banging against the side of the once beautiful home. Now the unkempt home’s missing shingles allowed for a stain to grow in the northeast corner of the ceiling in the living room. James stared up at it as it grew during the duration of the storm.

He had been squatting in this house for the past four months. James did his best to hide from the neighbors but he was sure they knew. He didn’t speak to anybody and only stayed inside at night. One of his safe moves was to make sure he never used lights at night. It was a lonely place at night.

He only left during the early morning hours. During the day he would hang around the back of a Lowe’s closer to town hoping to get picked up by somebody for a day’s worth of work at a construction site. It usually didn’t work out. But the little money he did earn was usually in sweaty dollar bills and rolled up in a rubber band. Today was a wash out, so no work.

That’s why he had been sitting in his borrowed living room all morning trying to cook some Ramen Noodles on a small camping stove. It wasn’t working out too well. The last flavor packet had gone missing. How do you lose something when you hardly have anything to lose? James thought to himself. Today he would just have to settle with the flavor of hose water and plain noodle.

The little money he did earn was quickly sent off the pay for his growing alimony debt. He kept 50 bucks for himself when he could so he could scrape up some non-perishables from the store every couple of weeks, sometimes some propane cans when he was filling selfish.

If I only had more money. This was his daily mantra. He lived and died by these words, not that he had anybody to say these words to.

Thunder shook the house and made the windows rattle. James never liked thunder. When there was thunder there was lightning. He was terrified of lightning. It always brought up bad memories from his childhood.

As his pot of water started hissing, a knocking came form the front door. James passed it off as hail banging against the door.

James didn’t stop trying to stir his uncooked noodles. He looked back up at the stain on the ceiling. It had grown considerably in the past couple of hours. He thought about the idea that may need to ditch this place for another one soon. A different neighborhood always presented more problems. Maybe his future neighbors wouldn’t take kindly to the homeless moving in.

The knocks came again. This time they were much more rhythmic. James knew a person had to have done that. He left his noodles and snuck around the corner into the foyer. He tried peeking through a window for a car but didn’t see one.

Probably the police. I guess I overstayed my welcome. He pondered to himself.

“Mr. Harris?” came the muffled voice from outside.

A man in a blue suit stood under his porch. He had a weak smile and a fedora pulled across his brow hiding his eyes. The stranger looked like he was pulled out of the advertisement for cigarettes in the 1950’s. He was holding a briefcase that was handcuffed to his wrist.

This is weird. James thought to himself.

James opened the door timidly. “Yes. I’m here. What do you want?”

“I have something that was determined to be given to you.” said the man in a routine manner. He punctuated his sentence with the same passive smile that he wore before.

“What is it?” demanded James.

“Money. And lots of it.” the man stated with casual ease. He looked up to meet James’s gaze. He had dark eyes.

Bull. That was James Harris’s first thought.

“Bull.”That was also James Harris’s first reaction. He immediately felt like recanting his statement but he didn’t have a choice.

The man in blue shook his head. “You tell me.” The smile never left his face.

He pulled up the briefcase and unlocked it with a key he pulled from his breast pocket. When he opened his jacket James saw the holstered polished steel beneath it. The man in blue continued to open the briefcase displayed it packed neatly with stacks of 100 dollar bills.

“Holy-” James put his hand over his mouth the way an elderly woman shows shock at the sight of women in pants.

“That’s got to be close to a million dollars…” he finished his thought.

“Actually it’s 17.3 million.” piped the man in blue.

“Wow.” James continued.

“So are you interested in what I have to say?” chuckled the mysterious man.

“You may be my new best friend.” said James. I must be crazy. This can’t be happening.

“Fine then.” he gave a slight pause. “Would you mind if I stepped inside briefly?”

“Oh, yes.” said James, seemingly forgetting common courtesy. This guy must be soaked.

The man looked behind him at the storm with indifference as if taking notice of it for the first time. He turned back and smiled wryly. “That would be lovely. Thank you.”

They walked into the living room ignoring the storm outside. The man in blue stepped into the foyer without wiping his shoes on the old floor mat. James even noticed that the man didn’t appear to be wet at all. His shoes didn’t squeak on the marble floor. The man in blue turned and extended his unoccupied hand to James.

James returned motion and shook the man’s hand. Feels like this guy has had his hand in ice water.

The man in blue held the grip for longer than normal. “You’ve got a good grip there. You must work in construction.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks?” James stammered out. “So, what can I help you with?” he eyed the side of the man’s jacket with the gun.

“I’m sorry to intrude like this but I was told that you would be here at this time. Your place of residence looks…lovely.” said the man in blue.

“Oh, yeah, well…” James tried a little humor. “My place in the Hampton’s is still being renovated. So I just pitched my tent here, for now.” James never took his eyes away from the holstered pistol.

“I don’t have much time, so if it’s not a bother to you, I would like to get straight down to business. I think that’s the phrase.” stated the stranger.

“Yes, I think that’s the phrase.” James agreed sardonically. The storm outside was picking up. The thunder really made James feel the uneasiness in his stomach. He felt like something bad was going to happen.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.” the man in blue unbutton his coat jacket, the gun now in plain sight.

“I’m going to ask you if you wish to participate or not. If you agree, you will get this briefcase and you can do whatever your little heart desires with it’s contents. If you disagree-” the man thought seemed to trail off. “Well, let’s just say you’re going to participate.”

James’ heard the threat clearly. He swallowed and responded. “Free money sounds like a good idea.”

“Great.”

The man in blue uncuffed himself from the money and latched it onto James. James contemplated objecting be decided it was in his best interests to cooperate fully. He also couldn’t stop salivating at the idea of all that money on his wrist.

Heck, if this guys going to kill me, I might as well die rich.

“There is, of course, one catch.” said the stranger. His eyes narrowed. “You will have six days to spend all of this money. You are expected to spend it correctly. If you fail to do so within the assigned time period-” the man opened his coat jacket to reveal the gun fully. “I’ll kill you.”

James swallowed hard.

“That’s it.” The man buttoned his jacket again and started toward the door.

“W-wait. You’ll just kill me if I don’t spend the money? And you’ll kill me if I spend it wrong?” he waited for a response from the man.

“Yes. You have six days as well. Don’t forget the six days part.”

James was trying his hardest to not evacuate his bowels in front of this mysterious stranger.

“How am I supposed to spend it the right way? You want me to give it to a charity or something? Why not do it yourself. Why am I being … chosen for this whole crazy scheme.” whimpered James.

“You said you wanted more money. Here’s your chance.” stated the stranger.

Can this guy read thoughts or something?  James wondered to himself.

“Actually, I can.” said the man in blue.

“You can what?” queried James. He felt like he was going to throw up.

“I can read your thoughts. I can also tell a lot of things about you James Allen Harris.”

Woah.

“Woah, indeed. I can also tell you that were the person I picked for reasons you can’t see right now. You’re just going to have to trust me. I haven’t picked a winner yet, but you might be the lucky one.” the man finished. He started walking toward the door.

“You mean everybody who’s done this has failed?” said James.

“It’s a shame to say it. But yes. They have all failed.” The man reached into his pocket and tossed the keys at James. “Catch.”

James didn’t move and the keys hit his chest and fall to the floor.

As the man in blue opened the door the wind from the storm kicked some rain into the foyer. The splashing from the eve above made it sound like a waterfall outside.

“Oh, and I’d hate put you out like this, but you should probably use some of that money to replace these windows.” said the man ignoring the torrent outside.

James looked like a bewildered owl. “Windows?” he inquired.

His question was ignored and the man in blue stepped outside and closed the door behind him. No less than than 3 seconds later lightning crashed just outside of the same door.

Glass shattered and the windows blew inward. James thought a bomb had went off and threw himself down to the ground covering his head with the briefcase.

For a moment the shock took away all memories of the man in blue. James opened his eyes half expecting this whole ordeal to be a hallucination but he felt the cold handcuffs around his wrist. When he picked himself up he raced to the door and threw it open. The rain persisted but the man was gone. Vanished into thin air. It smelled like flowers.

Only a small piece of paper lay on his porch. James picked up the sopping wet rag.

It read:

June 9th at 9:00 p.m. I’ll see you then.

P.S. – Sorry about the mess.

James forgot his fear of lightning and stood outside as more arcs bolted across the sky. He ran down the street not caring if the neighbors saw him.

Six days. 

The Man in Blue.

D.A. Bancroft

Ideas

March 17, 2012

I got another short story coming. 

I didn’t plan it. It just showed up like an unexpected visit from an uncle that has that funny smell. Don’t get me wrong, you love him, he’s your uncle…but that smell. You know what I mean.

It’s one of those moments of Writer’s Non-block. If that’s a thing.

As a matter of fact the idea came to me at about 1 a.m. this morning. Like lightning….

Oh…you’ll see what I did there soon enough…

::Rubs hands together menacingly:::

So yes, this is a short post now telling you that I will have a longer (and hopefully a better) post tomorrow. I could have just surprised you with some productivity by displaying a new short story tomorrow. You would have made a double take. But I’m not going to use too much energy for this post. I’m in the writing mood. I’ve got the basic story down…now I just need to edit and make it better.

This additional brain usage will prevent me from making much more than that awesome pun you read above.

And a few notes: (in convenient listy goodness)

1. This will be more of a shorter story but it won’t be a flash fiction.

2. The reasoning behind this story is something I heard about writing. I’m not sure where I heard this but this is the idea.

There are two kinds of stories. One is a story of ‘The hero goes on a journey’. The second is ‘A stranger comes to town’. 

I like the idea of “a stranger comes to town”. It’s so mysterious. So cool. So here’s my take on that. A stranger comes to town.

3. It’s not going to be the most original idea ever…you’ve probably heard of a variation of it. But this one will be distinctly mine.

It’ll be called The Man in Blue.

Bottoms Up

March 14, 2012

In the summer of 1974 I was in love.

Her name was Cynthia Herron. She had braces, red hair, and a slight overbite. A consummate beauty.

I jumped at the opportunity when she invited me to a party.

It was a pool party for her 11th birthday.

Everything would have gone according to plan had it not been for that diving contest.

I hardly knew how to swim, let alone dive, but if I wanted to win her hand (and I did) I knew I would have to meet any challenge.

We formed a line behind the board. All the girls watched us guys. They whispered their picks for winners. I was third in the queue.

First up was Tommy. He was built like a can of sausages. He flew like one too. A cannonball resulted in a big splash. Cynthia was not impressed.

The second was Aaron. He was shaped like a pencil that had been broken and taped back together. He went for the jacknife. There was a loud pop as his belly hit the water. It barely pequed her interest.

Finally I was up. My heart raced. If I wanted to win I needed to make sure that I won on perfect form. that would impress her.

So I went for the perfect dive.

I put my ten-year-old toes up to the edge of the board. It felt like I were staring down the side of a building. My head was dizzy. Time slowed to a hazy ripple.

I took a breath and closed my eyes. With a bend of the knees and a hop from my heels I went floating through the air. I felt ecstasy on my dismount. The tuning fork in my mind rang with peace. I knew I was going to slide right into that pool and come out to applause.

The perfect dive.

As I entered the water I could feel total freedom. The water rushed past my ears. The cold water gripped my body. I swam out a few strokes while under before I let buoyancy release me back to the surface.

I felt so confident.

Until I realized my swim trunks were floating next to me.

 

Bottoms Up – D.A. Bancroft

He was battered and bruised. Sweat was dripping from his brow. Heat peirced his mind. He was exhausted. He stopped walking and considered his future. It didn’t look well.

“This will be my demise,” he thought to himself. “No man could continue in these conditions. I pray the Lord meets me with comfort on the other side.”

The trip was a disaster. His entire expedition crew started with 36 men. Now, after nearly 7 months lost in the jungle, it was just him. His last mate had succumbed to disease, probably malaria, nearly three weeks earlier. He wasn’t in any condition fit for traveling either. He was sure he had a fever, dehydrated, and starving.

The bones in his feet felt like gravel. He couldn’t go on.

“I will lay here. Maybe the heat will take me quickly.” he mumbled to himself.

He pulled off his pack. It didn’t have anything in it but it was still a relief to take it off. Maybe death wouldn’t be so bad. It would only take a little while. He was certain the only reason he was still standing was because of his sheer willpower.

But now his will had run out. He no longer wanted to continue.

He looked out into the landscape and took one last look at what drew him to this jungle. His expedition was sent here by King Ferdinand II in order to explore the new territories his country had claimed. He would be the first to pave the way for new colonies. But from the very beginning things had gone awry.

“It would be beautiful if it were not so venomous.” he mused. “Maybe the next group will come and find my dry bones. They will then bury me at home. That is the most fitting thing I can hope for.”

In his breast pocket he felt the paper. It was the last letter he had written to his wife, Emily. It had never been sent, but he kept it close to him in hopes that, if he were found, she might get to read his last thoughts. His thoughts of her.

In his last surveying of the land, he spotted a small flicker. A small fire.

A camp?

Rescue?

He knew he couldn’t make the walk down the valley. His legs would not move anymore after he stopped. His only chance was to call out and hope they heard.

He knew he would use all of his energy to just get the words out but it was his only chance.

“Still,” he said to himself, “I must try.”

He screamed until the blood rushed into his head. Before he blacked out he remembered how Emily looked on a Sunday morning. Maybe he would see her again one day…

***

“Where have you been?” the soft-spoken shadowy figure asked him.

I- I’ve been-” the man tried coughing out the words. The figure then gave him a little water to ease his pain.

The person began, “We didn’t hear word from your journey so a rescue team was sent out. We were getting concerned you wouldn’t come back. We have been searching for your team for months. Up until today, we thought all hope was gone, but we only found you. What happened?”

“I’ve been-” he looked for the words. “House sitting.” he whispered before he passed out again.

Emily looked at her exhausted husband. He was alive but was clearly defeated.

What had happened to make him utter such strange words?

Journey’s End © D.A. Bancroft

 

I”M BACK! No more house/animal sitting.

I know….the story was pretty lame…but I feel relieved like the weary traveler.

Full internet access. No dogs. No cats. No geckos. No turtles. No frogs. No more cleaning of animal feces and urine. No more wondering how the light switches work. No more anything.

Oh wait… I got hired.

So I guess let the worrying begin!

I would love to tell you all about the crazy hiring process that I’m going through but, hey, that’s not going to be very entertaining nor informative. That’s because I just do what they tell me and hope I’m doing it right.

In short, I will have less than a week before I get access to textbooks/materials/classroom/computers before students show up. So I will have to plan my entire year in the matter of a full work week.

Still, I’m looking forward to it!

I understand that it’s going to be hard and annoying at times but at least it’s my room. My plans. My effort. It’s all mine.

I’m not trying to sound very possessive or anything but I just haven’t been solely responsible for a classroom yet. I’ve only interned and that felt like there was a lot of ‘hand-holding’ involved.

I have a lot to say that I haven’t been able to say in the past week or so…so expect that to show up on here within the next week. This is really more of a “hey, i’m back” post…

So, what did you do while I was gone? (I hope it involves monster trucks and not cleaning up dog crap.)

D.A.

Moving Ahead

July 10, 2011

Thunk.

Julian’s bloodshot eyes suddenly opened. He turned to see that his alarm clock read 6:32 a.m., much too early to start a day. He lay half-naked in his bed clinging to his childhood Batman blanket. Sleep was still in his eyes and the sun was just barely peaking through his broken blinds.

Three hours of sleep wasn’t going to be enough to get through today.

Julian Sanders wondered what had woken him. Did he hear something? He threw off the old tatter of a blanket sat upright in bed. After some hard blinking and rubbing of his eyes, he turned and placed his feet on the bare wooden floor. He kept his breathing shallow as he tried to listen for another sound.

After some time of waiting, and nothing happening, he assumed it was safe.  Julian contemplated not getting out of bed. Maybe he could lay back down a get another few hours of rest.

Thunk.

The sound seemed to come from his living room.

Did somebody break in?

He didn’t have anything of value, except maybe his pitiful DVD collection. And what kind of burgler would work at six in the morning?

“Nah,” thought Julian. “Nobody in their right mind would be up this early.”

Maybe it was his neighbors in the apartment above had dropped something on the floor. Julian contemplated going up there and complaining. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Now he heard muffled voices. But these were definitely coming from his living room.

Julian’s mind raced and he had to stop himself from panicking.

Somebody was out there.

He knew he had to see what was going on, he had to do something. Julian glided his way toward his closet. He didn’t think to reach for pants, or a phone, but instead grabbed his Louisville Slugger.

“I’m not going out there with nothing.” he thought to himself. The plan that formed in his mind involved a lot of bravado and yelling. While he may not be a very loud and aggressive man he expected the bat would do most of the work for him.

“Okay, Julian, just stay cool. Just walk out there and get ready for anything that comes at you. Remember, you’re the boss.” Julian’s conscious spoke to him. “These punks probably don’t even expect me to be home. So, I’ll just go out there and demand they leave. They’ll be out of here in a split second.”

He took a few deep breaths and convinced himself that he was brave. Julian kicked open his bedroom door and stepped out to confront whoever was out there.

He expected to see one or two guys wearing black ski masks and carrying crowbars. Maybe they would be carrying sacks with all of his things stuffed inside. They were probably tip-toeing around as well.

Instead, he opened the door and saw two rather normal looking men in uniforms. There were a lot of open cardboard boxes scattered around the room, some of which contained his possessions.

There was also a large opening in his wall that emanated a green glow of light. These men did not seemed alarmed by the unnatural object whatsoever nor the half naked man facing them armed only with a baseball bat.

The men in the yellow and blue one piece work-suits continued onward, moving boxes to the middle of his living room, and carrying on normal conversation.  

Who- who do you think you are?” Julian managed to squawk out. He had wished his words sounded more menacing.

The men finally took notice of him.

“Oh. Hi there.” said one man casually. “Did you not get the notice? We were told you had gotten notified of your departure.” said the man with blonde hair that was holding Julian’s table lamp. His voice was bright and cheery.

This was discomforting for Julian this early in the morning.

“What notice?” cracked Julian’s voice.

“I guess not.” replied a mustached moving man now walking in through the portal. The bill of his yellow hat was bent in the middle, causing it to look like a cartoon duck bill. He grabbed a box and walked back into the doorway, leaving Julian behind, dumbstruck.

“Did he just walk through my wall?” Julian said. His eyes were locked on the green passageway.

“Yeah, now I know you didn’t read the letter of notice.” said the friendly looking blonde. “You’re moving. Today. And you’re also coming with us.”

“Did that guy just – walk – through -my wall?” Julian repeated with obvious discomfort.

“Yeah, if you would have read the notice you wouldn’t be so concerned right now.” said the kindly man.

After a few seconds of incomprehension Julian allowed a small dribble of drool fall out of his mouth. He had just seen a man walk in and out through a solid wall. It might have been very early for Julian, but he knew that something wasn’t quite right.

Taking notice of Julian’s confusion the blonde man set down the lamp and slowly approached with open hands.

“Okay bud, just take a seat.” He guided Julian by the shoulders to sit on a box full of his unimpressive DVD collection. “Don’t flip a lid. Breathe. Just. Breathe.” The man’s voice was soothing. “Here, drink some water.” he handed him a nearby bottle of water.

Julian wiped the drool from his face with the back of his hand and began to drink. His eyes were still locked on the odd opening in the wall.

The moving man extended a hand. “Hi, I’m Frank. That’s Grant. We work for a moving company – of sorts.”

“I- I don’t understand.” said Julian. His eyes finally broke away from the portal and met those of Frank’s.

“Of sorts?” Julian asked. ” There’s a hole in my wall. I don’t know many moving men that put glowing holes in your house.”

“Oh, no, that’s not a hole per se. That’s what we in the business like to call a ‘Dimential Rift Membrane.’ Most other folks just call it a ‘rift’ for short.”

Grant walked back into the room and tried to explain what he could. “We work for a company that relocates those who have been displaced by the Korring Effect. That’s when people from one dimension end up in another by accident. Our records show that you were moved here, and we’re here to bring you back.”

This guy wasn’t making any sense. Julian thought of the possible explanations of his current state of mind. Maybe he was hallucinating. After all, he did order take out from a very questionable restaurant last night. Perhaps he was still sleeping and a gas leak is causing him to have a trippy dream. Still, everything felt so uncomfortable it had to be real.

After a few awkward seconds Grant spoke again.

“Hey buddy, can you get up? I need to take that box next.”

Julian decided now was as good of a time as any to stand up and fight these guys. He was determined that he wasn’t just going to get robbed, or moved, or evicted without a fight.

“Get  away from my stuff!” he leap up from his box and held his bat in a swinging position. “I’ll hit you so hard your mustache will fly back to where it came from.” Julian didn’t think too hard about his insult, but he figured that if he said it loud enough, they would stop what they were doing.

“Mr. Sanders, just stay calm. We will explain everything but you just need to calm down.” said Frank.

“How about I don’t calm down and you explain everything, or I make that hat become part of your skull.” Now his threat felt a little more convincing.

“You live in a dimension that is not your own. You were moved here when you were young, you just don’t remember. Our company checked your records and decided that it was time you came back to your original dimension. You were slated to move today. It’s not a big deal. It happens all the time.” explained Frank. His voice had a casual tone.

“How can you just “move” me to some other place. I live here. This apartment is my home. I don’t want to crawl through some hole and end up who-knows-where.” he complained. He searched for something else. “Plus, that thing will probably give me cancer or something!”

“No, you don’t understand.” said the man with the mustache. “We move people through, what you might call, ‘wormholes’ to other dimensions. It’s totally safe technology, just this dimension hasn’t discovered it’s wide spread use yet.”

“So, you mean this is like, some Stephen Hawking stuff?” Julian managed.

“We don’t know who that is, but if it makes you calm down, then yes. Yes it is.” said Frank cooly. “Just put down the bat and we’ll get this process started.”

After a few moments, Julian calmed down enough to have a seat. Frank pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.

“This is a copy of the notice you were supposed to have read. Read it and then you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.” said Frank as he handed the paper to Julian.

It took a few minutes, but Julian read every word.

After another few minutes, Julian stopped crying.

He was placed in the wrong dimension. Something called the Korring Effect causes rips in time and space that mixes things up.

Maybe this is why he always felt alone in this world. Maybe this is why he never found it too easy to live in a world where people lived like this. He always felt out of place.

This could be his opportunity to start over; to fit in.

“Okay, I think I’m ready to – leave – I guess.”

Great!” said Frank. “Come with me. Grant here will take care of the rest of your stuff and I’ll just guide you through.”

“Okay. Just don’t break anything.” said Julian. He dropped his bat and figured Grant would take care of it.

They walked up to the gateway and looked into the green swirl that seemed so sophisticated and terrifying. The neon glow seemed to churn within. There was no sound, nor was there anything to identify inside. It looked like he was going to walk into a dense cloud.

“Now, just walk through. There’s a little step, so don’t fall.”

“Okay…”

Julian took a deep breath, and stepped into the green world that lay beyond.

He was trusting his life to these two men; men he had never met before today. Men with funny yellow hats. Men who were comfortable around the idea of a wormhole.

He wasn’t sure why, but he decided to close his eyes. Maybe it would make the decision less terrifying if he didn’t see what he was getting himself into.

Julian took one step and found nothing for his foot to land on.

He fell.

He decided in that moment to not open his eyes. He would prefer to not see how he died.

Sooner than expected, he hit the ground, face first, in a heap.

When he opened his eyes he saw Frank, heartily laughing, helping him up.

“I said don’t fall.” Frank chuckled.

“Sorry.” Julian squeaked.

“That’s alright. Now you know. Keep your eyes open next time.” Frank opened his arms wide and looked all around him. With a big smile he said. “Welcome to Plane #243 D, Alpha! Your new home.”

After looking around the building he was now inside, his breath was taken away. This was his new home.

Julian acted accordingly.

After another few minuets, he stopped crying and took his first steps as a new resident of Plane #243 D, Alpha; wherever that was.

“Hey, uh, Frank?” asked Julian.

“Yeah?” replied Frank.

“I think I need some pants.”

Explaining My Delay

July 4, 2011

I’m not going to post a story tonight.

Yeah…it seems silly to draw attention to my own ineptitude but there you go.

Last week, when I thought up of this thing, I said to myself, “Now that’s an original thought, it will be a breeze to think of a story behind that.” Now I look at the idea and I say, “Wow, what’s the point of this story? Where is it going?” It just doesn’t have a real point. It’s pretty aimless.

I even rewrote it at least 3 times. New ideas were tried. Different characters were brought in. Nothing seemed to be able to fix the problem of the plot. There was just no way for me to squeeze a plot out of this thing.

I will freely admit that environments and kooky (if this is even how you spell this word) situations usually lead me in developing characters and stories. This time it seems that this process has failed me. Or maybe I failed the process. Either way, I always end up developing a story second. Maybe that’s a shortcoming that I need to work on.

So I’m going to try again, from scratch, and try to focus on a good and interesting story first. Then I will allow myself to develop the characters and environment.

I’m going to try to think up something and get a story done some time in the middle of this week.

I was looking forward to getting something done, but I’m not going to try and throw something up here that would only confuse you and embarrass me.

Just stick with me, I promise I’ll actually get something done sometime,

D.A.

When I Grow Up

June 7, 2011

“I checked every room for 15 minutes Mr. Krantz. I opened every drawer, cupboard, and box I could find. It wasn’t there.” the sweaty man huffed for air. “I think our tip was from a bad source.”

“Yeah right. You said the same thing three hours ago and I found you sitting in the kitchen eating a box of Yum-Yums.” the man known as Krantz spat back at the other. “And I don’t care where our information comes from, I just do what I’m told to.”

“Well I wouldn’t have needed to eat something if we could take a break every now and then.” the now visibly upset fat man, named Reed, walked back into the living room. He put his hands on his hips in exasperation. “Let’s just let the boss know it ain’t here and we can move on with our lives.” He loosened his tie.

“The only way we’re going to be able to ‘move on with our lives'” Krantz mockingly used finger quotes. “Is if we are allowed to keep them. If we go back to the boss without what we’re here for, he’s going to shoot us, hang us, kill our pets, and then write mean letters about us to our families. And trust me on this, my grandmother couldn’t handle anything like that.” Krantz’s nasally voice hung in the air.

Reed reluctantly gave in. “I know, I know. But I get sleepy when my blood sugar is low, so if you want me to keep working-.”

“Shut up and grow a pair!” Krantz interrupted. “Just keep looking!” Krantz lit a cigarette out of frustration. “We will turn this place upside down if we need to. Remember it’s a small green box. It shouldn’t weigh much either. It’s just a jewel.” Small clouds of smoke filled the air around his head.

These two men were looking for the Jewel of Yamamoto, an ancient gem that had been discovered to be one of the largest found in the eastern hemisphere. Earlier that day, they had been assigned by the owner of the gen to guard it during a private display. Everything was fine until a child had ran in and took out most of the security. She also took the jewel. Since the display box was also taken, the tracking device hidden inside had signaled this house as being the location of the jewel. So they followed.

Across the street, in the second story of an abandoned house, sat a little girl in a window. In her possession was a Hello Kitty walkie talkie, a Girl Scout uniform, and a backpack with one small green box that didn’t weigh very much. The tracking device for the jewel lay hidden in the house where the two men were arguing.

Marla switched channels on her walkie talkie. “Come in Condor, this is Bumble Bee.” her childish voice sounded strangely mature.

“Go ahead Bumble Bee, this is Condor.” the voice broke through the static.

“I’ve got the package. Request new orders for delivery. The first drop point is hot. I repeat. First drop point is hot.”

“Wait, you’ve got the jewel? Already?” the voice sounded surprised.

“Yup.” Marla stated with a level of confidence that was similar to a car mechanic talking about transmissions.

“Okay, one minuet.” the man on the other end muted his channel. He was probably checking with the higher ups to make sure they understood the situation. They would also give her new orders.

The man came back on the line. “Alright, you drop point is Honeycomb. Repeat, Honeycomb.” That was the code word for the park near her house. Marla loved that park. That’s where the big swings were. Plus, that’s where her and her friends would play hide and go seek. But most importantly, it would make her trip home shorter. She didn’t have much time.

“Okay Condor. Honeycomb is go.” She was about to end the transmission when the other voice came through again.

“What did you do about the guys on your tail? If you leave in the open, they could find you again. HQ needs an answer.”

“Nothing. Yet.” She almost forgot to get rid of these bad guys.  She was almost certain one of them actually saw her steal the jewel. It would be necessary to make sure they didn’t follow her or find out who she was. That could make her job much harder. It would also mean she would have to skip school for a couple more days. But she had a spelling test on Friday, so that wasn’t an option.

Marla needed to think of a plan, and quick. If she wasn’t home before six her mother would get home, and then she would be in real trouble. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of them. See you at Honeycomb. Over and out.”

She clicked her walkie to the other station. This station was rigged to listen in on the bug she planted in the house across the street. She though it would be a good idea if she was going to leave the tracking device their as well. Every word that was spoken between the two men was heard clearly. She had the element of surprise.

“Fine, I’ll check the living room. Again.” Reed huffed.

Marla heard him move close to the hidden microphone she had planted. If he finds it, she thought, then they will be on to me. She needed to do something. As she looked around her bag she realized that she only had the equipment she used from the heist. She also had her Girl Scout uniform and a few boxes of cookies.

And just like that, she had her plan.

“The living room is clean Mr. Krantz.” Reed yelled to the still smoking Krantz. “Will you at least help me look around instead of just sitting there puffing away at your cigarettes?”

“No.” One could hear the simple joy in his voice when he said this.

“Why not?” Reed started to sound like a little kid.

“Cause I’m thinking, you lump. Just keep working -” he was cut off by a knock at the front door.

Knock, Knock, Knock.

They both froze.

“What do I do?” said Reed only standing a few feet away from the door. “Oh no. What do I do? What do I do? WhatdoIdo?” he was losing his composure.

“Just answer the door and lie to them. Tell them you’re a prospecitve buyer or something. Just get rid of them.”

Quietly Krantz slipped into the kitchen, hiding. Reed slowly approached the door. He took a deep calming breath.

“Uh,” he tried hiding the uncertainty in his voice. “Who is it?”

A muffled response came from the other side of the door. “Gril Scout cookies!” The voice was sweet and innocent. And it promised tasty delights, that seemed safe enough for Reed to open the door.

“H-Hello little girl, and what have we got here?” he started. He saw a young girl, no older than seven, looking up at him with a big smile that was missing an incisor and trying to hand him a box of Snickerdoodles.  “I don’t think I ordered any cookies. You have the wrong house.”

“Oh no, Mister, I have the right house, but my mommy told me that the people who used to live here ordered cookies. Since we don’t have their new address or anything I asked if I could give their cookies to our new neighbor. She said that would be very nice of me. So here I am!” Her little teeth were beaming.

“Oh, well, that’s so nice of you. But I’m sorry little girl, I don’t have any money to pay for these. So, you know, go away.” He didn’t know how to act around kids. He didn’t even really like them all that much.

“Oh that’s okay Mister. It’s free.” she nodded reassurance at Reed as she put the boxes in his hands. “I’m just doing my Scout Duty.” She even gave him a short stature salute.

He had to admit, this kid was cute. She was handing him free cookies. And Snickerdoodles were his favorite. Maybe if he took them he could solve two problems at the same time. He could get the kid to leave and he could satisfy his hunger that had been sticking with him all day. Why couldn’t all kids be this way? he wondered.

“Oh. Alright. If you insist.” He gave the little girl a crooked smile. ” Thanks.” He didn’t wait for her response, he quickly turned back inside and kicked the door shut with his foot. His hands were busy opening the first box of cookies. He was starving.

Reed walked back into the kitchen after taking a deeply satisfying bite of a freshly unpackaged cookie.

“Who was that? And what are those? Asked Krantz from his hiding place, underneath a table.

“These are snickerdoodles, and I am one happy fat man.” replied Reed. Cookie crumbs started hitting the floor.

“No, you slob, who was at the door?” Krantz asked this in a heavy whisper.

In a normal tone and volume Reed informed Krantz “It was just some gap-toothed girl scout. Nothing to be afraid of.” He continued to devour the cookies. “These are delicious.” he exclaimed delightfully.

“Girl Scout? Like with the sash and buttons and all that?”

“Yeah, the whole nine yards. I think she even had a missing tooth. Pretty cute kid.” Reed’s answer was muffled by the last of the cookies he shoved in his mouth. He started opening the second box.

“Did she have pigtails in her hair?”

“Yeah, but don’t they all?”

Krantz looked deep in thought, the only sounds that could be heard were the crunching sound emanating from Reed’s mouth and a slight beeping coming from the kitchen.”

Beeping? Krantz thought. That didn’t seem right.

“What’s that sound?”

Reed’s chewing stopped but the beeping continued. Now it was picking up in rhythm. Reed looked inside of his newly open box of cookies and pulled something out.

“Hey Mr. Krantz, what do you think this is?”Reed held it up, in Krantz’s face.

It was beeping.

A beeping block of C4.

“I don’t think that was a Girl Scout-”

The explosion was covered during the six o’clock news that night. Marla watched it from her living room couch. She even beat her mother home by half an hour. Marla greeted her mother at the door when she arrived home from work.

“Sorry I’m late honey. There were police blocking off some streets because of a house fire a few block from here.”

Marla’s mother put her car keys and purse on the side table by the entrance. “And what did my little Bumble Bee do today?”

Marla gave her mother a hug. “Nothing too much. I had a Girl Scout meeting after school.”

“Oh yeah? And what did you learn about?”

“Fire safety and cookie sales.” she smiled.

When I Grow Up    © D.A. Bancroft

Charlie 3

May 29, 2011

“One minute ’till glory, boys!” the Sergeant grimaced through the puff of smoke in his face. “Hoorah?”

Every man in grunted out their response with gusto. “Hoorah, Master Seargent!”

The yellow ready light turned on. The men stood from their seats and formed two single files.

Master Sergeant Dripps knew the men in front of him were nervous. He tried to make a point of looking nonchalant about their work even though the plane bounced in the storm clouds. He was about to give the speech that he had given to all the men he had previously led into battle. While looking into their frightened eyes he spoke clearly and with confidence.

“We are here to do one thing. That’s to kill us some of those humans that crawl beneath us. They’ve scuttled around on the ground for long enough. They enjoy the freedoms that we deserve.”

I know I don’t need to remind you that they consume us. They feed off of us.” One man in the back of yellow team had begun to throw up. He had probably seen it happen before. The enemy below were known for doing deplorable things to his fellow people. There were even rumors that the humans had build machines that allow them to drink the fallen.

“I know you can’t stand it. I can’t either. Even though this war seems like it doesn’t end we’re here to make progress. When we jump, we jump for a promise of hope, a promise of victory.” his voice sounded like gravel. He had given this speech hundreds of times.

The Sarge, as he was affectionately known, surveyed those who were in front of him and he saw the potential. The potential for these men to stand up and become fighters; heroes. And he saw the potential for them all to earn nothing more than an obituary. That was the reality of  those who served in the Drop Trooper Program. They always turned out to become one of two things. They could become total wash outs, or they could reach the highest state in The Cycle.

The Sarge quietly hoped for the latter.

His second in command handed him their orders in an envelope. They were kept secret until the last possible moment. It helped to stop the humans from predicting their movements.  He snatched the paper from the younger officer and read the words before him. He understood his orders. He knew they were going to jump into certain death. He did his best to hide his disappointment in front of the men but despite his effort, his men seemed to know. With a fake sense of confidence, he gave the orders.

“It seems that our target has been designated Charlie 3. It’s big. We are to hit it with full force. No mercy. Use whatever you’ve got equipped. I know you don’t want to hear me admitt this but it looks like we’re going to have casualties. Remember your training and you can survive. Remember the target. Charlie 3. Don’t deviate. Don’t miss. Every hit counts.”

The sergeant took note of the effect his words had on the men around him. It wasn’t enough. They needed something more. None of them had the fire they needed to get their job done. His job was to make sure every man he led met the call of duty. He decided to reach out and remind their tired hearts of how the Cycle could help them come to terms with their fates.

“I know it doesn’t look good boys. But remember what The Cycle means. You know the motto: ‘If it falls, then it will rise. If it rises, then it will fall.'” he got some silent nods at this. They all knew about the Cycle. They’ve been taught about it since they were young. “All out us have been through it before whether you remember it or not.” More nods. He was getting through. Some of their demeanors were starting to change for the better.

“You’ll come back. We all get the chance. Maybe by the time that you’re back here, we’ll have made some real progress in this war. And when this thing is finally over, maybe we’ll never need to be Cycled again. Until that day comes we have a job to do. So let’s get to it!”

“Hoorah!” they trumpeted in unison. This time it was enough to shake the chest of the Master Sergeant that stood in front of him. It made him grin.

He pulled out his cigar and gave them the only appropriate response. “Hoorah.” He snapped a salute.

Finally he could see the fight in his men. They wouldn’t become washouts. They were heroes already.

With that small sign of comfort, he walked around to the end of the Yellow Team line. He attached the hook for his chute and double checked his cable and harness. No mistakes would be allowed.

The pilot looked behind him and yelled into the fuselage. “30 seconds until drop!”

“Blue Team! You’re up. After 15 seconds I expect to see each one of you on your way down. Then Yellow Team will follow. I’ll be jumping with them.” the Sarge barked. He knew deep down that these men were ready. They knew they were going to complete the Cycle.

For a few tense moments nobody spoke or moved. They could only hear the hum of the engines and the rumble of thunder outside of the craft. The sounds of war.

The yellow light turned green and Blue Team started their exit. They took their leave in a tight order and each man yelled “Geronimo” as they dove down toward their fate.

Another green light blinked on, and the men in front of the sergeant quickly stepped to the edge and looked into the wild blue yonder.

“Alright you lollygaggers.” The sergeant seemed to speak through his smoldering cigar. “Go! Go! Go!”

They took flight knowing only one thing. Hit Charlie 3.

***

On the earth below them Becky Bainbridge looked out of the windshield of her 1998 Volvo. She heard the loud splat of a drop of water on her roof looked up toward the sky.

“Hmm, It looks like it’s starting to rain.” Soon, and in rapid succession, she heard the rest of her car get hit with droplets. This time, before she heard each drop she could have sworn she heard a tiny scream.

“Odd.” she said to herself. Becky shrugged it off and started her engine. “Well, I’m not going to let it ruin my day.”

Charlie 3     © D. A. Bancroft