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Shadow Tag

March 26, 2014 2 comments

While I was out this weekend I was reminded of just how inconsiderate people can be. I went grocery shopping, by myself, at a local WalMart.

For most, that probably just explained everything.

The one I went to is beside a university. There is a wide variety when it comes to racial and cultural diversity and I think this is a good thing. In my backward, backwoods view of the world, the more different people you have someplace, the more polite everyone should be.

I am sorely mistaken.

It amazes me how clueless everyone was to the presence of others. They bolt and dart around, glaring at anyone who is in their way. I attempt to be polite, saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” anytime I am just getting to close to another person. For my efforts, I get snarled at, growled at and in one case, I received such a specific case of the evil eye that I was forced to tuck a clove of garlic in my pocket to ward off the impending evil.

And that came from the kid in cart. His mother was too busy trying to shove past me while talking on her phone to bother.

Is it really that difficult to be considerate?

Oh, and to the guy who was in such a hurry that he ran into me because I wasn’t walking fast enough, thanks for saying excuse me, but maybe instead of polite you could try paying attention. That would work for me.

This weeks story was a contest submission that didn’t make the cut. It was prompted by a photo of an empty swing with the shadow of a little girl sitting in it on the ground. I hope you enjoy it.

Try to remember to be kind and polite. I will do the same.

L. E. White

Shadow Tag

Cathy and Denise stood together behind Mrs. Ackerman’s azalea bush. Each girl was bent over, hands on knees, peeking through at the old playground.

“This is stupid,” Cathy said. “Nothing is going to happen.”

“Shh. It always happens.”

The humid Midwest summer was merciless but the girls didn’t move. The sun roasted them inside their light dresses and sweat ran down their backs.

Denise checked her watch again. “Now.”

The swing furthest from them started to twist. It moved faster with each rotation until the chains crossed with a clink that carried through the stagnant air to the hiding children before snapping back, motionless.

Denise looked over and smiled with smug satisfaction. Cathy’s mouth hung open as she stared, wide eyed, at the old swing set.

The swing began to move again, going back and forth. Little clouds of dust kicked up like when the girls were swinging at recess.

“I can see a shadow,” Cathy said, her face pale.

Denise frowned and turned. She squinted, but couldn’t see it. “What kind of shadow?”

“Like a girl on the swing.”

They looked at each other and then back, but the swing had stopped. It hung empty and lifeless again.

“What happened?” Cathy asked.

“It always stops,” Denise said. “It only swings a little bit.” She moved to leave, but looked over and saw Cathy’s lower lip quivering.

Denise looked back through the bush. Now, she could see an inky black spot on the ground.

It was coming towards them.

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Categories: Flash Fiction, Horror

Lexington Comic and Toy Convention #LCTC2014

March 19, 2014 3 comments

This last weekend, I was fortunate enough to work as a member of the staff of the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. If you have never done something like this then you are missing out. It was a lot of effort, but it was a blast.

Costumes: There were plenty of people there doing CosPlay. I saw a lot more Deadshot than I expected because I just didn’t realize how popular that comic is. There were male and female version and most of them had purchased the costumes. Still, very cool. I loved all of the bounty hunters and Clone Troopers but the best for the weekend was the Predator below. Yes, there were a lot of great costumes, but I think this guy takes the cake. I will add other pictures after the story, but this one deserves a higher place in the post. Sorry about the pics though, I am a horrible photographer.

Predator

Toys: I don’t mean the collectible ones that people were buying. I am referring to the people who made blasters. Then there were the guys who built a Star Wars Speeder and the guys who brought a Back to the Future Delorian. Also, remember the Ghost Busters Proton Packs and Slime Guns. There were even a few people carrying Tesla Guns to go with their Steam Punk costumes. These were great.

People: Now, the wife and I were members of the staff, so we got to meet a lot of the other staff. As a whole, this group ran their butts off trying to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone. I am happy to have met them all and I hope to work with them again.

The convention attendees were also great. I didn’t have any trouble with anyone and for the most part, I heard that same thing from the rest of the staff. This was a well behaved, polite group of people. I was impressed and never really all that uncomfortable. Since I don’t do that well with crowds, this says a lot.

However, the thing that really made the con was the guests. The wife and I worked as guest helpers. We sat in booth, took money, buffered people and tried to make life easier on them. Had either of our guests been difficult, this convention would have received a totally different review. But got lucky, and both of them were fantastic.

The wife helped Tom Kane. Tom has a long list of voice credits and is a regular to conventions. He was funny, fun to be around and she got along with him as if he was an old friend. I had been worried about her at this. She is a great people person, but she denies being a geek so the group we were with could have been a problem. None of that was a problem and I know part of that was from having such a great person as her guest. She is hoping to work with Tom again.

For my part, I helped a wonderful guest. Roger L. Jackson is a fantastic voice actor with an easy going personality and a deep affection for his fans. Between people, we had some great conversations and I came away with a list of movies and books to explore. This was only the second convention that Roger has ever done but I hope he will keep doing them. His fans loved him and he was a pleasure to work with. His lovely wife came along as well and I couldn’t have been happier to have met and helped her as well.

For us, these three people made our experience something fantastic. I can’t say enough about how great they were so I will stop by saying that I hope we get to see them again. There were others, Jim Cummings for example, who we got to know and had fun with, but since 90% of our time was spent with Tom and Roger, I have to say they are the ones that made the con for us.

Come out and see us next year. With any luck, we will be right back where we were.

L. E. White

Collapse

Tommy walked up to the top of the hill and stared at the ruin of his barn. The winter storm had been the biggest in recorded history, dropping more snow in two hours than any storm he or his father had ever seen dropped in a day. The air had warmed up, changing the snow to rain. The rain had made the snow heavier, overloading the barn roof until it pushed the walls out and collapsed.

“I can’t believe this,” he said. The barn was ruined, the old grain truck, tractors and equipment were underneath the pile of timber and sheet metal, meaning that it would have to be torn down and cleaned up before he would be able to do anything else.

Tommy walked up to the door and looked around inside. There was water and snow on everything. The hay and straw were likely ruined. The old feed grinder had a rafter rammed through it, spearing the big canister like a toothpick holding an olive on top of a fancy sandwich.

He shook his head as he started picking his way through the debris. The only reason he had walked up here was to get some straw for the dog’s box. Poor thing needed to have something soft and warm to sleep in and with his son out of town that meant that Tommy would be the one taking care of it.

“Damn dog.” He cursed under his breath, not really blaming the dog, but needing to curse something as he surveyed the wreckage. “Damn snow.”

The straw was under a large section of roof that still had snow and ice on it. Tommy’s frown deepened, leaving windrows of wrinkles across his forehead. He couldn’t do anything to move the roof quickly, so he was going to have to drag the straw out in handfuls rather than just grabbing an entire bale.

“Damned dog,” he repeated as he started acquiring a pile of loose straw on the ground beside him.

“Ow! Fuck Me!” Tommy jumped backward and bounced up and down before rolling his sleeve back to examine the wound. He knew he had probably just jabbed his arm on a couple of the nails in the rafters but after getting a better look, he thought it looked like weird. There were two neat holes in his arm, both too fat for the sixteen penny nails he had used when building the rafters. There was almost no blood, which didn’t make any sense to him.

A sudden wave of dizziness swept through him, leaving Tommy to stand hunched over, resting his hands on his knees as he waited for his disorientation to pass.

Bent over as he was, he was looking at the ground when a long black stick with shredded bark settled down into the mud. Tommy’s eyes followed that stick up to where it bent, almost three feet above the ground, before he was distracted by another settling down beside the first.

“What …”

Tommy staggered backwards, slamming the back of his head on a piece of rafter, before losing his balance and sitting down with a plop.

His mouth was hanging open and his eyes bulged as he watched the spider crawl out of the straw. It was gigantic, like someone had hooked tree limbs to a Labrador. It was a mottled brown, with hairs on its legs the size of bailing wire. A pair of jointed fangs moved and wiggled in front of its mouth, each one red on the tip with fresh blood.

His blood.

Tommy rolled over and started crawling away. He screamed in panic and slipped down a little, smacking his face into the ground and coming up with a mouth full of mud and wet hay. He spat that out and tried to yell for help again, but just choked and coughed on the dirt.

He could hear the fangs clicking together behind him.

Tommy went under a piece of rafter, crawling through a spot that was too small for the monstrous bug to follow. He looked back, and watched as the beast lunged forward, smacking its head on the boards.

“Can’t get me now can you fucker,” he said before breaking out in hysterical laughter. “I got away,” he yelled between fits and fighting for breath.

The world spun and his eyes closed as the big bug slammed its head into the rafters again.

***

When he woke up, Tommy was freezing and shivering. The sun was almost down and the temperature had fallen at least ten degrees.

Tommy looked around, trying to pay special attention to the shadowed corners inside the barn before he sat up.

“Gotta get home,” Tommy chanted as he tried to crawl out of the barn’s wreckage. “I ain’t going to die to something I should step on.”

The ground was cold, but not frozen. There was a thin layer of freeze on top but he broke it under his weight. He couldn’t feel his feet very well and Tommy was beginning to get scared. He was only a quarter of a mile from home; he wouldn’t die up here like this.

“I hate fucking spiders,” he repeated every foot or so. “I am going to kill every one of them that I see for the rest of my days.”

The sky was still light, but the sun had slipped below the horizon by the time Tommy managed to get his top half out from under the barn roof. He was lying on his stomach, looking over at the southern horizon. He loved his farm, it had been passed from father to son for seven generations, but at this moment, Tommy was wondering if he might like to retire to some tiny tropical island.

He stopped daydreaming when one of the spider’s legs landed on the ground beside his head. Tommy glanced back over his shoulder to see the spider open its mouth. A thick, snot-like glob dripped down in a long, disgusting rope before falling on Tommy’s shoulder.

“No. God No! Ple..”

End

&

*** LCTC2014 Pics ***

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Categories: Horror, Links, Random, Review

Ticking

March 12, 2014 Leave a comment

I have signed the contract and even received confirmation and permission to talk about it. So, it is official that my first standalone story, a novella with the working title of ‘Forever and Always’, will be published by Sirens Call Publications. My cheeks are actually sore from smiling when I think about it.

In other news, I am very ready for spring. I have had enough of this snow and cold to last me forever and I already know I only get a year. Its bad but I am already dreading next winter.

That being said, there is a lot to do between now and then. My newest short story is almost done and I will be submitting it to Cairn Press in the next week or so. Deadline is the end of the month so it is now or never. I have other short stories that need to be written/submitted and I am still working on the third draft for my first novel. So many words, so little time.

Have a good day and I hope you enjoy the next story.

L. E. White

Ticking

The clock was ticking.

A loud, echoing clack as the gears smacked together with each shift of the mechanism.

For each slap of the gears teeth grinding together, there was a small, sharp noise as the arm shifted up and down, moving the gear that forced the thin, red second hand to jump over to the next mark.

Frank was surrounded by clocks. Most of them did not turn, many would never be able to turn again, yet he still had them lined up for inspection. His workbench was covered in springs and gears and discarded hands, except for the spot directly in front of him. Here sat a small rack of tools, the only thing that he kept neat and orderly, beside the arm which held the magnifying glasses.

At this moment, Frank looked through two of the lenses. He had flipped them down so that a spring, smaller than some yarn, looked like a fat, Cuban cigar. Trembling, palsied hands moved the slender loop at the end over a rivet inside of the old pocket watch Mr. Anderson had brought to him.  When the spring was in place, Frank released his grip on the pliers. The spring snapped into place with a tiny click. Frank smiled, twisted the knob on the top of the watch, and was rewarded with the gentle bouncing of the gears as they began to move. “Ahh. Fixed.”

“Is it?” A barrel chested and potbellied man struggled to his feet from the sunken cushion of a chair that sat in the corner of Frank’s workshop. He waddled up behind Frank and peered around the lenses to watch Frank close the face back down over the gears.

“It is as good as new,” Frank said. He wiped the piece down with a rag before handing it back to its owner. “Just be careful not to over-wind it again.”

The standing man dropped one meaty hand down onto Frank’s shoulder, but he hesitated just before making contact. The pat had started out with enough force to have bowled the spindle thin tinker over, but ended so gentle that he might have been playing with a new puppy. “Thank you ever so much Frank.” The big man laid three crisp twenty dollar bills on the bench beside the tools before leaving with a spring in his step that made his belly jiggle and push his pants down until he had to use one hand to hitch them back up.

With the fat man gone, the ticking increased in volume. Many of the clocks seemed to be working in perfect unison, making the glass faces of some vibrate. Other clocks sounded like they were just a bit off, which made their own mechanisms sound discordant. Together, the cacophony was mind boggling.

“I understand,” Frank said. He turned to a closed cabinet and opened the door. “I know you don’t like to be closed off but someone would try to destroy you if they saw and heard you. Nobody would believe that a clock could talk.”

The clock inside the cabinet continued to tick and tock, but mixed between those sounds, the match of the synchronized and out of sync clocks, came mechanical, soulless, words. “You must listen to me Frank.”

“I understand,” Frank said, turning his back on the only thing in his work shop that was older than he was. “I am sorry but protecting you from others is more important than your disdain for my closing you off from the world.”

The clock stood in still, impassive indifference. Yet, if the hands of the individual faces were considered, for this clock told more than just the time, it resembled a scowling countenance.

“I understand,” Frank said, his face growing pale as he turned back to the clock. “I won’t do it again.”

The hour and minute hands shifted, moving closer to the top of the hour as the clock continued to tick and tock.

“No, please don’t.” Frank brought his hand up in front of him, palms facing the clock. His arms shook and his lip began to quiver. “I promise I won’t close you away from the next customer.” His was growing louder and the stooped old man began to rise from his work stool.

Ticks and tocks.

“Please. Please.”

On one very loud tick, the minute hand lined up with the twelve on the clocks face. The next tock came so soft that Frank almost missed hearing it. He sighed, his hunched shoulders relaxing a bit.

And then the clock struck a tiny bell to mark the hour.

Frank jerked, bending forward like he had just been punched. He slapped his hands over his ears and dug his fingertips into the sides of his head. At the second chiming, the crisp, high note of the bell was drowned out by Frank’s agonized scream.

The third chime drove Frank to the floor.

The fourth marked the moment when blood shot out of his nose and mouth.

The fifth caused Frank’s body to start jerking in violent convulsions until the sixth chime brought them to an end.

The bell continued until the clock was finished announcing the hour to the world.

Then, it stopped. No more ticks, no more tocks. The little dials which sat together below the central shaft were each facing out; pointing up like the corners of a smile.

 

 

Categories: Book, Flash Fiction, Horror, Writing

Listen to John Anealio

March 11, 2014 Leave a comment

John Anealio.

 

For all of the music lovers out there who haven’t heard of this. John does some really great things and you can listen from the site. I recommend Steam Punk Girl, but I like most of the songs. Go check it out.

 

Categories: Links

Pot Holders

March 5, 2014 3 comments

It is amazing the effect that the receipt of good news has on you. My wife has mentioned it, something about being bright eyed and in a good mood, and other people are smiling at me as they walk by. If you know me very well then you realize that this is kind of creepy for me so we will see how long the glow of good news lasts. However, for now it must be obvious.

I read a submission call for stories and misread it. It was one year too old and I didn’t read the year carefully enough. So, the anthology wasn’t open anymore. Feeling very stupid, since I had actually written a much longer story anyway, I began to sub it as a stand alone to publishers who might be interested in a novella.

I have received a request to publish and a contract to sign.

Yes, I am dancing on the inside. After a very long dry streak in terms of stories published this is a big boost to the old ego. This isn’t a regular serial or a specific anthology. Someone liked my work enough to want to publish it as a stand alone. I will be getting the opportunity to work with an editor to make something wonderful and I am excited.

I won’t say which story or what publisher until the contract is finished, but I am way to excited not to share a little bit now. In all truth, if it hasn’t been signed and mailed back by the time this is posted you should be surprised. It is difficult to curb your enthusiasm enough to be professional but I am trying.

I am just failing.

L. E. White

Pot Holders

As I lifted the wrench up beside his head, a pair of dark green eyes shifted, watching its movement. “Are you sure about this,” he asked.

“Yes I am.” I put the socket over the hexagonal head of the bolt and began to tighten it into place. “If we don’t get this heap moving in a few minutes the life support system is going to fail. With the size of this ship, we will freeze to death from loss of heat before we suffocate from stale air, but I don’t want to wait around and feel that happen if I can help it.”

I was lying. I had no idea if this would work or not, but considering our options, the explosion that would indicate failure seemed better than a slow death. I had already escaped a slow death once and that meant that I was sure I didn’t want to press that luck again.

“So,” he said while doing his best to hold the heavy reflector in place. “Explain to me how this works.”

“I already explained this once.”

“Yeah, but hearing you do it makes me feel better.”

I glanced down at his smooth scalp, noticing that a little stubble was beginning to show, and frowned as I continued to tighten the bolt. I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed. He was far too simple minded to have been included on a hauling mission into deep space. Jack lacked the intelligence to be a multipurpose officer on a ship, but that didn’t mean that it would hurt me to make him feel better anyway.

“With the engine down, we have to build another generator. Since we don’t have any way to collect fissionable material for the normal reactors, we have to come up with something else. Therefore, we are going to build a dark matter gravity reactor inside of the broken anti-matter reactor.” I moved to the other side and started tightening those bolts.

“So we are going to catch some of the dark matter that is around us?”

“Yes, then we can force it to spin inside of this reactor core by positioning these pot holders around it.”

He frowned. “Pot holders? You didn’t mention pot holders the last time we went over this.”

“Pot holders are a nickname for these white light matter reflectors that we are putting up.”

Jack nodded and closed his mouth so that I could hear his lips clap together. I grinned, wondering again why the union had accepted this guy. “Anyway, all we have to do is turn them on and keep floating. Dark matter moves through all of the normal forms of matter that we know of. It will move through the ship but it will get caught inside the generator when we kick the reflectors on.”

He nodded again and lowered his arms with an exaggerated sigh.  “Good thing we turned the grav down huh?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Good thing.”

We worked for another fifteen minutes before the reactor was ready. I did what tests I could but eventually all we could do was cross our fingers and hope that it worked.

“Are you ready,” I asked. “I am about to fire up the aft side.”

Jack nodded.

“Alright then, cross your fingers.”

I put my hand on to the console and placed my finger over the button. Before I touched it, I glanced over at Jack and saw that he really had crossed his fingers.

The fear washed over me like the waves of the ocean I had seen as a child. It slammed into me the way the water had smacked into the bottom of the cliff I had been standing on.

I wasn’t afraid of dying. I wasn’t afraid of pain or slow death, although I would prefer to die both quickly and painlessly. It took a moment for me to realize it, but I was afraid I would let Jack down. That simple man with his trusting smile and slow mind was the source of the fear that was making my finger tremble. Seeing his look of disappointment was the thing that I was afraid of.

“You don’t have your fingers crossed,” he said.

I looked over at him. Jack was smiling at me and holding up his closest hand, displaying his fingers, one over the other.

I held up my other hand and moved the middle finger over the index. Jack nodded and turned back so that his head rested against his seat.

I closed my eyes, took one deep breath, and pressed the button.

Categories: Book, Flash Fiction, Writing

Dork Tower | The Place for All Things Dork

March 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Dork Tower | The Place for All Things Dork.

 

I agree completely with Muskrat John on this.

I hate winter weather.

Categories: web comic