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David Woodruff has been a storyteller for over 30 years. As an oral storyteller, I’ve long been an adherent to the idea that written stories gain permanence over oral tales, but lose power. My written stories are completely different from my oral story telling … mostly because I regularly tell spoken stories that other people wrote centuries ago. Here you’ll just find my original work, in the permanent form of a written story.

Within you’ll find tales that live in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Genres … some of them even have a foot in each of those worlds.

  Short Stories  
Science Fiction

Return Flight

There’s a new movement afoot. It’s driven by the same by the same forces which got us to the moon and back … fear. Pure, gut wrenching fear. It’s turning us into a world of uncaring, emotionless professionals. Don’t believe me? Walk into any doctor’s office. The question is, how far does it spread? At what point will our emotionless professionalism stop spreading? I’m sure that medical schools are right, it’s easier to be unmoved psychologically. Yet if we were looking for easy, would Columbus have crossed the Atlantic? Would the Wright brothers have learned to fly? Once someone made a speech claiming we do things “… not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Good words, but apparently easily forgotten. Maybe this is what happened to the Romans. They stopped doing things which were hard. Or maybe, they simply stopped dreaming. You know what happens when people stop dreaming don’t you?

Return Flight
Romance

Discount Soulmate

Enter the secret life of Walter Mitty, with a twist. The thing about the Walter Mitty format is, they are a series of short stories, all with the same characters. The story makes use of a number or tropes as the characters move from setting to setting. These are almost required to allow the reader to quickly grasp the nature of the change in setting. The famed Pockata! Pockata! English purists will most likely be upset by the fact most of the story is written in the first person. This action is deliberate, as it keeps the amount of data down to only what the character can see, maintaining the suspense. The character is, as you will see, as much in the dark about the things going on as the reader. What will likely upset them most is the sudden change to third person at the end of the tale, that portion of the text in blue. Due to the nature of the story, this last bit of the tale, cannot be related to you by the main character. But I don’t want to give away the ending. Still, I’d classify this as a romantic story … and I don’t write many of those.

Discount Soulmate
Fantasy

In Disguise

It hard to place this in one category, because the story is also a mystery. In the end though, the key element was the involvement of a few characters you wouldn’t normally see in your average mystery, especially the treasurer. But with a mystery, you can’t really give too much away. It’s a rather interesting problem when you can’t use any science to help resolve a mystery. No DNA testing, no fingerprints, no photos on the post office wall. The main characters have an interesting relationship that is mirrored by some of the minor characters. Some of the dialog was exceptionally hard to write … especially for Lord Melton. You understand when you get there.

In Disguise
Science Fiction

Transporter

Yes, the fetid jungle of life. Daily, we do battle with its hazards, its dangers. Yet even amid the terrors of the jungle these is beauty. The colorful plumage of passing birds and the wonder of the mysterious orchid. But like brilliant patches of wonder, their time is brief. The passage of the bird, the flowering of a plant. Only the unending jungle remains. And although we try to remember the brief appearance of the orchid, we spend most of our time trying to forget the horrors of the rest of the jungle. But it’s in the jungle that everyone finds out who they truly are.

Transporter
Science Fiction

Training Wing Thirteen

Real places never meet the recruiter’s descriptions, but the fate of pilots is often well known. Strange how the stories of combat don’t vary between wars. The technology changes, but the task remain the same. I took the details from one WWI fighter engagement and used it as a guide. It was amazing how well it and how easily fit into a science fiction story set hundreds of years later. I expect even the pilot in my story would have recognized the ‘thousand yard’ stare of WWI plane jockeys.

Training Wing 13
Fantasy

Transition

Life is full of transitions. Traditionally, transitions are when we are stressed the most. Now, imagine if transitions were epic in scale. You’ll notice that in fiction Superheroes have superpowers to deal with epic transitions. In role playing games, the characters have a full set of extraordinary tools to face their foes. Armor, weapons, spells. To make the game more exciting, the foes are often upgraded to have near superpowers of their own. Now imagine your average college student going through the transition of being at a school away from home for the first time. No superpowers; barely a pencil and some heavy books as an adequate set of tools. Now let’s introduce some of those upscaled monsters. Now there is an epic transition.

Transition
Science Fiction

Implacable Enemies

One of the big questions one can encounter is what you do when you are caught between a rock and a hard place. I think Col. Puller expressed facing the problem best during the Korean War when he remarked, “We’re surrounded … that simplifies our problem.” The vastness of space doesn’t remove the question, it merely amplifies the size of the rock and exaggerates the hard place. This story is about one of those situations. One of those stories with a truely big rock.

Implacable Enemies
Science Fiction

Time Machine

Ever since I was a kid the holy grail of science had been the time machine. As soon as Einstein said it was impossible, every science fiction author on the planet set out to explain how he was wrong. It had an irresistible lure. As human beings we are explorers, seekers of the unknown and delvers into those impossible dreams. Just ask Wilbur and Orville Wright. Naturally, how could I call myself a writer until I had written a time machine story.

Time Machine
Fantasy

The Maze

One of my favorite tropes is the idea of hiding modern references in a medieval fantasy story. One of my most beloved clips is a fantasy character remarking on a beat up sailing ship, “Yea, and I bet it made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs.” This is also my first heist story. Technically any dungeon adventure where the heroes make off with a ton of loot is a heist story, but this one is a bit more traditional. For a true heist story, the target has to be someone bad. We want you rooting for the thieves after all. So, the big bad should turn out to be the mob, another thief that cruelly betrayed his partners, or perhaps an investment banker. In my case, I happened to pick the kindly Guild of Adventurers Corporation.

The Maze
Science Fiction

Mixed Brigade

I still like the idea of getting a story from a picture. This one came from a coloring book. It was filled with images of old Science Fictions mags from the 1950’s. If I close my eyes I can still see the picture. It’s a black and white drawing, because it’s waiting to be colored by the book’s owner. A French Foreign legionnaire is swinging a sword on horseback. His opponent is an Arab tribesman. But the Arab doesn’t have a face, all he has is a skull. Strange thing is that I been back through the book several times … and I can’t find that image again. Well, if that doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, read this story.

Mixed Brigade
Fantasy

Where? Where Rat?

In the original addition of the D&D Monster Manual, 3rd edition under lycanthropes there is an image of wererats. What I found interesting was that unlike all the other images there were two of them. When I saw that again recently my mind started working on the explanation. Vampire, of course have the allure of immortality, and werewolf’s the allure of power. So, I started working on what power a wererat might have … and what would make it sought after. Obviously, people would seek out immortality and/or animal strength … Right, jack Nicolson? But what would a rat do? Well, it turns out the answer was pretty simple … eat.

Where? Where Rat?
Science Fiction

File This Report

It’s hard to say sometimes what inspires a story. This one must have at least a 1000 influences, everything from TV to books, history and beyond. But the basic story was patterned after every business that has ever opened its doors since the beginning of time. Despite technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to eight hours of middle management drudgery, the simple human factor of loyal service in the face of the abyss we call work remains unchanged. Yet every business has one iron rule: success is more important than loyalty. Any organization which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the loyalty of its members ...that organization is doomed to fail.

File this Report
Science Fiction

Going My Way?

Funny thing about the hero’s journey, we very rarely notice when it is happening to us. Someone else has to point it out to you. Imagine if you were on a journey that couldn’t be explained in any other way but in terms of the hero’s journey? Almost any one can be a hero, you just have to be at the right place, at the right time. So, most of us feel we can never be a hero. Naturally, becoming a hero must happen to a regular guy. The sort of person who would never imagine that he was a hero.

Going My Way
Fantasy

Beneath the Tomb

One more story with a Twilight Zone twist … are you sensing a pattern here? This one takes place in the middle of the journey of a group of warriors. Abandoned by fate or their own countrymen, it’s impossible to tell. What they find is a little outside of the normal things that you or I might encounter on a similar journey. But our fearless explorers are not to be deterred. Some stories you’d have trouble doing on television … even with expensive CGI … this would be one of those tales.

Beneath the Tomb
Science Fiction

Mr. Pennyweather

Allow me to introduce Mr. Pennyweather; age … well, let’s simply say that he’s old enough to know better. He’s an MBA with a form of delusional behavior the rest of us would be locked up for having. In this story, Mr. Pennyweather gets a lesson in poetry, or at least in poetic justice. In his position, there is going to be a significant cost, with no way to lower it. With any luck, as delusional as the rest of us might be, we’ll never have to encounter the likes of Mr. Atwater.

Mr Pennyweather
Fantasy

Strakx

Believe it or not, this started out as a take-off on the Bob Hope ‘Road’ movies … then it all when horribly wrong. It occurs to me, only after I wrote it, that what I did … unconsciously … was write an episode of the Twilight Zone. We have a lone protagonist, who I hope you find sympathetic. At first everything seems normal. Yet as we follow his story, we can see that something in not right. We have a fantasy setting with a very Western twist, something that the Twilight Zone did with some of it stories, notably Mr. Garrity and the Graves. Then … well, let’s not give away the ending, shall we?

The tale does follow the Twilight Zone principle, in that the narrative moves along, building until the reveal at the end. Take, for example, the first episode. We see a man in an empty town trying to find out where everyone is. But at the end the reveal is that the man is an astronaut in an insolation chamber and he has hallucinated the entire thing. The story could proceed from there, but it doesn’t … because you’ve already seen the reveal. You, the audience, is aware of what is going on. The mystery is solved. Not only was no one in town ever missing, there was no town. Label it under stories that wrote themselves after I got the title down.

Strakz
Humor

Furious Sound

This is my shortest story yet. It doesn’t need much, I think you’ll agree. The idea is a simple one, although it involves a fair amount of wishful karmic thinking. Like Leo Burnett, I believe ‘that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.’ I would only at add to that the phrase, ‘in the most annoying way possible.’

Furious Sound
Fantasy

The Long Dark Night of Kabiribiri

I started out this story with the intent to right a journey of the hero from the other side. Someone who obtains a magic item to cross over into our world, as opposed to the hero that crosses over into a strange would were magic applies. That I forgot is that you need to like the hero for that journey to work. Kabiribiri is not likable, not in any sense of the word. But the tale was simply too good. So I modified the story. Now you’ll see the terrible journey of Kabiribiri from his world directly into some of earth’s greatest mysteries.

Night of Kabiribiri
Histoprical Fiction

Operation Pigsty

Heroes are not born, they are breed … accidently. Please keep in mind that this story is fiction. It cannot in any way come close to the experience people had during the actual events. It is meant as an homage to all the TV shows and movies I watched as a kid. The names of the characters are actually from a different war. This is intentional. It’s based a remark in the film the Big Red One; where one character notes that all the names of the men on a monument are the same names as the men in this war. In response, another character says, “They always are.”

Operation Pigsty
Fantasy

Foiled Curses

One of things I like about writing fantasy is that is actually lends itself to other story types. One can’t merely have a fantasy tale, it cries out to be mixed with high adventure, mystery, investigation … or in this case intrigue. It also lends itself to asking interesting questions. Some of which are as simple as what do you do when the person on the other side of the door is not who you were expecting. I’d definitely say this story is all about expectations.

Foiled Curses
Science Fiction

Right Flank, Left Neutrino

Science Fiction is willed with giant space ships fighting laser battles and escorted by the occasional single seat fighter replete with powerful weapons. Of course these are visons of far future galactic wars. But what if the war happens next week? Such a war might be the one where we don’t have a few years to get ready, but only a few weeks. This is also a timeless story of a group of heroes who know that they have no chance for victory, but go anyway. This might have been what the Spartans felt like when they faced the entire Persian Empire.

Right Flank
Science Fiction

The Day the Non-Player Characters Quit

In my day, the game Dungeons and Dragons was considered by some to be satanic. Of course, years before that it was comic books. We fear, not what we don’t understand, we fear what keeps us apart. Anything that isolates our humanity from others could be considered to be the work of the devil. Yet true evil, both in games and, more importantly, outside them, is our desire to control others through promotion, rewards and the promise that all will be well once you become the best. That could be more dangerous than any game ever invented.

Characters Quit
Horror

Twelve Times Backwards

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were once great friends. Doyle became convinced that the performer himself possessed supernatural powers. Houdini, the eternal sceptic, was unable to convince Doyle that his stage performances were simply tricks, leading to a falling out between the two. Enter our protagonist, a scholar, a sceptic, seeker of truth and, regrettably, finder of the truth. A man who will shortly rise from his day to day existence to directly confront a problem that has tormented mankind since the beginning of time. Oh, and after you read this, go and look up George … I dare you.

Twelve Times Backwards
Mystery

The Fold

Isaac Asimov once claimed that all Science Fiction was just stories of people using various levels of science and technology. That meant that Science Fiction could mix with any genre: Western, Mystery, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Romance, Fantasy and so on. So, in that vein I wrote this mystery. It’s the ultimate locked room mystery in that a space station is about as locked as one gets. No murder in this one, but there is a disappearance, but not just one person, mind you, but an entire crew.

The Fold
Science Fiction

Martian Kid

Many of us feel out of place in the world we find ourselves in. Still not everyone believes that they are so out of place that they actually come from another world, but this kid does. And, much to the distress of his parents, he has no trouble telling other people exactly that.

Martian Kid
Humor

Hey, Walt

Just imagine you’re a writer and your publisher is Jimmy James on the TV series News Radio as played by Stephen Root. This is the story of a writer in 1876, having his work reviewed by just such a Jimmy James like character. With, of course, a surprise ending. If you are wondering after reading this story, if all the quotes are by a real published author … they are. With the criticism by Ezra Pound himself.

Hey Walt
Horror

The Unwilling Owner

My grandparent’s house terrified me as a kid. It took hours to get there, so I always imagined it as impossibly far away. Of course, it was creepy and old, its once white walls turned dingy yellow with age. My Grandfather kept a cigar humidor in the living room. Shaped like a skull, it gave me nightmares for years. My grandfather joking referred to it as Uncle Lou, which didn’t help me at all. So, in honor of my grandparent’s house, and that humidor, I wrote a story of another house … perhaps a distant relative to my grandparent’s house.  
Unwilling Owner
Horror

The Threadneedle Rabbit

Take a story that is completely made up and add a few well-known facts and dates. Suddenly the tale leaves the realm of fantasy and enters the real world. As if called into existence by the magic of the written word. Writing was once considered to be a form of magic in and of itself. A set of improbable circumstances you say? Perhaps, but then this may be the origin of Sweeney Todd, late of Fleet Street. Speaking of Fleet street, there is another building not far away that is the subject of this story. To be believed or disbelieved, depending on your frame of reference.

Threadneedle Rabbit
Fantasy

Sometimes the Ocean is Blue

Everything you know about pirates has its origins from a single book, published in 1724, by one Captain Charles Johnson. Yet there was no Captain Johnson. Most people assume that the name is a pseudonym for one of London's more famous writers. Some have even suggested that he was Daniel Defoe writing under a pen name. Although why the man who gave us Robinson Crusoe thought he needed a pen name to tell us about pirates is anyone’s guess. Still, a man who gave us so many wonderful characters for stories shouldn’t pass into the mists of time as an unknown. So, since no one knows his real story … I made one up.

Ocean is Blue