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.”

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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

I am willing to bet that I’ve done something you never have. It’s not like I’m incredibly proud of this or anything, but from now on I will have a story to tell people. I will also manipulate that story to make it sound like I narrowly escaped death. Now you really want to know what I did, huh?

I grilled ribs in a freaking hail storm. (Totally true)

Yeah. I’m all that is man.

It wasn’t like they were golf ball sized or anything, just small peas. Still, I didn’t want to walk out there and flip the ribs in weather like that. And I didn’t do it to give myself a challenge, I just misjudged what the weather was going to do. And ,apparently, it decided to suddenly have a thunderstorm appear overhead as I just start cooking my dinner.

Now don’t tell anybody, but when I tell the story to people, they will believe that I fought off a tornado and hurricane wrapped into one. The hail was the size of soccer balls and lightning was crashing all around me. And the grill wasn’t just a grill, but a furnace that could only be controlled by my perfectly trained hand. Afterwards my clothes were ripped to shreds and I received a personal letter of apology from all the Norse gods for thinking they had any power on this planet.

Yeah…that’s how it was….

The ribs were delicious by the way.

So…short story time, right?

Well, as you know, I’ve delayed it. I was indisposed at the time of my soft “deadline” of sunday, so no story for you then. Since I’ve lollygagged for long enough I’ve decided that my final will be posted on Tuesday at 11:00 p.m. This will be tough for me to meet, considering I do have other plans. But I will set the timer on the story to send at that time. Maybe if I know a deadline is looming I will buck up and get it done. Or maybe you’ll see a very sorry and poorly written story pop up on here around that time. Either way, you should read it, because it could be a fun story to read or a funny failure to remember.

In other news:

If you recall anything from my previous posts, you will remember I created this fake story of pineapple handed Hawaiian zombies. I named their master “Marla”. Since this name seemed so friendly and interesting (I’ve never met a Marla before) I’ve decided to name the little girl in my story Marla.

And if you haven’t been watching Dr. Who, you need to. This is the CRAZIEST season ever. I saw the first half season finale, and wow, it’s just, wow….

 

Lately I’ve been looking at the use of language in short stories. This includes the speaking mannerisms and conversations of characters/perspectives in a story. Allow me to explain.

Everybody talks differently. I say and use words that you probably don’t, and you probably use words that, if i heard them in conversation, would confuse me. I’d just awkwardly laugh and pretend that I know what you’re talking about. Well, I  think the same is true for any character in a story. Even if it is very subtle, it’s still a difference.

For example, if I were writing a story from a human male perspective, I would include words like “Gnarly”, “Rad”, and “Awesome.” There would also be some smelly armpits in there somewhere. Alternatively, if I were writing for an unintelligent mass of goo, I would make sure the vocabulary included words like “Blurp”, “Squish”, and “Gurgle.” This would be accompanied by some slime dripping (and some stinky pits of some kind).

Now conversations are a whole ‘nother problem.

People not only use words differently, but engage in conversation differently. Maybe they make eye contact with the speaker, or avoid it at all costs. Maybe they are uncertain and shrug all the time. Maybe they tap their fingers or bounce their knee. Suppose the speaker is very authoritative, so they only speak in commands and short sentences. “Do this.” “Go over there.” “Massage my feet, you scum.” You see my point.

This was something that really took a lot of effort for me in Memo. Even though the whole story wasn’t conversation I still wanted the reader to feel like they had a good look at what was going on as well as what was being said. I tried to imply body movement and emotions in conversation. I’m not sure how successful I was in accomplishing this, but I gave it the old college try. It will be something I will work on in the future.

So the next story I’m working on is going to have a noticeably different tone to it. I would like to be able to focus on these issues, but I will likely end up forgetting what I want to focus on, thus leading me to write a story about two tiny ponies that just nay at one another.

Oh Crap! That could be the best idea ever! Better put it in writing!

Pretty Pony: Nay :::translates to: Sup? :::

Cute Pony: Nay ::: Sup?:::

Pretty: Nay Nay :::Nothin’. You?::::

Cute:  Nay :::Nothin’.:::

Pretty: Nay :::Cool:::

Cute: Nay :::Cool:::

Old Englishman Pony: Nay :::No:::

Or, maybe not?

Answer: Nay.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to avoid humor. In fact, I will try to get a serious short story made one day soon. I’ll just write what comes to me.

In completely unrelated news, I’m currently searching for the best way to clean a laptop from the constant touching of my hands. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

D.A.