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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.

  Latest Story:  
Fantasy

The Device

There are some places man was not meant to go. For a writer (and the reader) this is no more than an attractive phase letting people know … yep, we're going to go there. Even if the warning is found scribbled in blood inside the ruins of a city where the population mysteriously disappeared from history one stormy afternoon.
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The Device

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Fantasy

A Roll of the Bones

The concept of divination has always fascinated me. I understand the aspect of wanting to see the future, but the comeuppance in the stories is you cannot change your fate. So if your fate cannot be changed, what's the point of knowing it in advance?
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A Roll of the Bones
Science Fiction

Passenger

What happens when we work hard and still don't get our dreams? Like it or not, and despite the best efforts of motivational speakers, this is more often the case. This was definitely a Twilight Zone-like exercise. I used it to experiment with adding real places to the mythology as a way to add impact to the story. To a certain extent it's a bit of a psychological thriller, dealing with dreams… and more importantly dreamers.
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Passenger
Histoprical Fiction

Red Cowboy

From time to time it's fun to write a story based on a writing prompt. On top of that, I have a love of irony. In this case, I imaged the writing prompt to be… what if Marion Robert Morrison wasn't born in Iowa, but outside Moscow. How would that have changed his life? You'll have to read it to find out.
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Red Cowboy
Science Fiction

Understanding

Knowledge is one thing but understanding that knowledge is something completely different. Locked deep inside man's psyche, however, is the understanding that all knowledge comes with a price. And sometimes, sometimes, we come to an understanding of something we'd rather not know.
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Understanding
Fantasy

Meeting in Elysium

Freud always claimed death as one of the two persistent topics. This may be because we have a concern for legacy. We know where our possessions will go, but where does our knowledge end up? For it's our most massive collection. Something even the poorest man possesses. At least until they die. But, in the end, those thoughts, those experiences… where do they go? Who gets our most prized collection… our ideas?
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Meeting in Elysium
Horror

The Bargain

Sometimes there is no avoiding fate… but then sometimes there is. Trouble is you never know which is which.
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The Bargain
Horror

Static

Listening to the airwaves seems like a safe was to get a good fright. After all, sound can't hurt you… not when you control the volume. Beside the radio is an invention of modern man. Its terrors are those fictions created my mortal men. And those that aren't man-made, well, they live in the static between the stations.
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Static
Horror

Barracks 13

This is a supernatural horror story with a different ending. The first of its kind I have even written. Someone… the Germans, the Russians, or perhaps even an unknown invading alien species does the concentrating and the protagonists do the camping.
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Barracks 13
Horror

Unwanted Message

I like the smartphone as a possessed instrument of horror. Technically what makes things scary is when perfectly ordinary objects start acting as if they are possessed. This goes double for modern, scientific objects. Things we don't expect to act in with supernatural air. That's the smartphone in spades.
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Unwanted Message
Horror

Inventing Nightmares

In our modern world, filled with smartphones and computers, we've left behind the realm of the mystic. The places between the sheets where things dwell, we'd rather not talk about. We feel protected by our remoteness, our distance from other people. We can say the vilest things in emails or over the phone, safe in our anonymity, our remoteness from humanity. Some even hide behind the walls of no rely mailboxes. But obscurity can come with a cost.
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Inventing Nightmares
Science Fiction

Where Late the City Crumbles

During WWII the German army fielded units where all the members had ulcers. In these units, they were served a special diet. This got me thinking. What would military units be like in the future… especially those that might be cut off from normal support as in removed by several light-years?
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Where Late the City Crumbles
Fantasy

Game System

In the comic, and later television show Lucifer, the titular character is highly interested in punishing miscreants. His preferred method is making them insane or sending them to hell. Personally, I think he's got it all wrong. You want to punish someone? Make them a monster in a virtual game world. So, they can be killed repeatedly by teenagers and pre-teen game players. Now that's punishment.
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Game System
Science Fiction

Returning Home

Imperfection is a funny thing. We bring it along with us, like a lost dog. Everything we are, everything we do is colored by it. It's part of our human experience. What we build is flawed, because we are flawed. And when things we create go wrong… well, that's us too, isn't it? No matter where we are, no matter how far from home.
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Returning Home
Science Fiction

Bright Sword

Emerging stories can be fun. they are not limited by a set of rules which are prewritten in advance and thus limiting the characters' responses. This tale revolves around a small handful of men and women with a dream. Some, of course, dream a different dream. You and I might call those a nightmare. But which is the dream, and which is the nightmare? Soon there will be four individuals hurtling through space, the only ones remaining who have even a fragment of the dream left.
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Bright Sword
Science Fiction

Environmental Suit

I wrote my first Memoir. Only the character I'm writing about is fictional… and his life happens in the future. Ever since the Deep Space Nine episode, The Siege of AR-558, I've wanted to write a version of what I thought an interstellar war would be like. Don't get me wrong, I thought they did a great job with The Siege of AR-558. But the characters looked too comfortable. I kept thinking back to what soldiers had to live through during WWI when both the elements and the enemy were trying to kill you. All I could think about was how much worse it would be on another planet, where even the air was trying to murder you.
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Environmental Suit
Horror

Not Dying

Imagine the time almost two centuries ago. In a small town near Leipzig. Boys playing. It's so close to today… so very close. The boys are just out of school. There is no objective truth, there are only the boys, running, playing, hunting. There are no values which hang on everyone, only what is of value to the hunter. The value of the prey.
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Not Dying
Science Fiction

The Fermi Paradox

The Fermi Paradox is one of those mysteries which keeps us guessing. Why can we talk to other civilizations? maybe, just maybe it's the universes way of insisting we explore the cosmos in person. Meet alien species face to face. Of course, there is always the chance it is telling us man has no business in space… so don't even bother talking to anyone about it. Although, help me out here. Just how do we aim a signal at a star whose light we are seeing is 400,000 years old? Just what does the universe look like, right now? Imagine a universe ending event that occurred next to a star four billion light-years away.
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The Fermi Paradox
Science Fiction

Burning Bright

In general, we sit safe from the prospect of nuclear annihilation. This is only because if they launch, then we launch. A process referred to as Mutually Assured Destruction. A term which uses the painfully appropriate acronym of MAD. In the end, reasonable people don't press the button because it a suicidal move, not only for them, but everyone else on the planet. So, we go to bed crossing our fingers no unreasonable people wind up sitting next to the little red button which spells 'bye-bye' for the planet. Unless, of course we colonize space… because then… we have another problem.
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Burning Bright
Science Fiction

Return

Edgar Allan Poe claimed the perfect short story should adhere to three simple rules. Number One – Length: the story can be read in one sitting. Number Two – Ending: the story should end in its climax. Number Three – Unity of effect: the story should only have one mood. Isaac Asimov used to claim that the best Science-Fiction could include elements of romance, horror, and suspense. Now imagine what would happen if the two were combined? Say, at high speed in the middle of a particle accelerator. This story might be the offspring of such a collusion. Assuming Rod Sterling was the godfather.
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Return
Horror

Visible Light

I thought up this one while musing on Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Specifically, the way Lovecraft revised the horror setting after WWI by adding the element of space. Or making the setting unexplored parts of the artic. Putting horror in places we were yet to investigate, but areas we soon would. This direction into the future unknown reinvigorated the how concept of suspense and horror. Moving us into world we were never intended to inhabit.
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Visible Light
Mystery

Fly me to the BOOM

This is a spy thriller. James Bond eat your heart out. I love the idea of a story that starts out with the sentence: based on a true story. In 20th to 21st century parlance it's basically "once upon a time." The story can be as factional as the writer wants. Just the one word, based, tells you everything. The amount of fiction in the story can be anywhere from 2% to 99% … you'll never know. In fact, all a fiction writer needs to do is throw in a few real events. They don't even have to be in the right order. Although the closer they are to real events, the better the story. This story is, of course, entirely fictional… unless it isn't.
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Fly me to the BOOM
Humor

Something's Not Right

The theme for this story is smart vs. reckless. It is set in a film noir environment. If it helps, imagine the whole scene in black and white. The story takes place in a single room. Lock the door with your mind, if you wish. The key to this room was lost in 1944. In any case, it will have no effect on the outcome. This is a classic murder scene intended for you to experience a "double take."
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Something's Not Right
Science Fiction

Sightseeing for a Nova

Man's a social animal. With the exception of your average mountain man or hermit we don't do well without some form of contact with other people. Even when we play our games, we play our games with other people. The second 'M' in MMO being multiplayer. Sure, there have been explorers. Some, like Magellan, took years to complete. But then the Portuguese navigator took a whole crew along with him. Some people have attempted to duplicate the achievement alone. Often, we find their boats drifting, empty, with no sign of what happened to its reclusive passenger. That's the one great mystery left for the exploring spirit of mankind. What will happen when we do get to travel in space between the stars? What will happen to us if the trips are far longer than even Magellan could contemplate?
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Sightseeing for a Nova
Adventure

The Vampire Frog's Daughter

There are those who say that the greatest freedom is to walk around unseen. Certainly, in this world of privacy invasion and cameras following our every move it is truer today than in years past. Those who are complete off-grid can act in any form they find desirable. In this day and age, superman couldn't even find a phonebooth to change in. And Spiderman's secret identity would become public knowledge in a matter of moments. But if you could remain aloof, unseen, unmonitored, what would you do?
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The Vampire Frog's Daughter
Histoprical Fiction

When Trumpets Blare

By 1916, the British were desperate for men. Losing upwards of 1,000 men a day, they reached out into the empire for recruits. It would eventually lead to the dissolution of the empire. Men from the distant colonies learned that they could fight and die, just as well as the English… and often better. The flames of independence are often ignited in wars. Into this mess, drop a crew of American filmmakers who are desperate to film actual fighting at the front of the most horrific war in human history. But the only way the British will allow them anywhere near the front is if they join up. Now begins the Battle Royale. Not against the Germans, but against the British. It's officers against enlisted men, desperate to make the first combat film in history.
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When Trumpets Blare
Science Fiction

One is Pretty Much Like Another

There were 977 men who reported for duty in the 12th Louisiana at Jackson, Mississippi on first day of May 1863. Two months later the command was missing 318 men, more than double the number as casualties of the fighting on May 16th. A total of 279 men were absent from the regiment.

Federal records and northern newspapers reported the capture of over four thousand Confederates, primarily from the battle of Champion Hill on May 16th. Included among these prisoners of war were 72 enlisted men from the 12th Louisiana Infantry Regiment with an unbelievable story to tell.
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One is Pretty Much Like Another
Horror

The Flight That Never Was

If you watch the old Twilight Zones, you notice that the writers tend to use two things as a doorway into the unexplained. Both of these routes have no explanation, they just are. One is mannequins and the second is airplanes. Frequently the airplane stories not only had no explanation, but no actual end. We left the passengers and crews in the wake of whatever it was that happened to them. Tales like "The Last Flight", "King Nine Will Not Return" and my favorite "The Odyssey of Flight 33." If you don't like stories of trouble with aircraft, take my advice, don't read this story.
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Flight That Never Was
Fantasy

Odin’s Smell

There was an old, original Star Trek episode where the crew meets Apollo. Since then the idea that there might have been other gods at one time … and that some of them remained has been a source of interest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissatisfied with my faith and I’m out searching for a new one. Far from it. I just thought it made an interesting story telling idea. It covers one of the age-old things we ponder as human beings … what would you do if you were all powerful, but not all knowing.
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Odin's Smell
Horror

Unit 732

Funny how current events can practically force you to write a story. You wouldn’t think it, but Sigmund Freud once wrote about comedy. I know, I found it hard to believe as well. In it, he postulates that there is a joking envelope, a form of acceptance regarding a social space where we can agree things have a potential for comedy. You must be in the joking envelope to find something funny. This story is written for comic effect. So, before you read it, make sure you are in your joking envelope first. Naturally, this is all fiction. Unless, of course, it turns out to be true. In that case, remember, you heard it here first.
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Unit 732
Romance

Not Yeti

We find things in the strangest places. The unexpected corners of the world. This story is an experiment in the nature of the Fantasy tale. It asks the classic question of the nature of what we call a monster … and what makes it a monster in the first place.
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Not Yeti
Fantasy

Community Tree

The trouble with people is they want things. Dental plans, money, maternity leave, vacations, days off, sick days, and more money. Sure, we outsource things to Guatemala, but what happens when the next hurricane destroys your production facility? All because we want to pay less money for things. In fact, we’ve gotten so good at it that people are now paying good money to outsource their own jobs. Because you never think it’s going to happen to you. My favorite part of writing fantasy is that I can write about all this social commentary without ever have to write about it.
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Community Tree
Horror

The Temple of Ultimate Evil

This is a simple horror story. I desperately wanted the word count to end up as 666 words, but fate conspired to prevent it. H.P. Lovecraft was a master at horror descriptions. Although modern day editors and writers would tell you he used too many adverbs. What they don’t get is he was using the words in his story to explain to readers the unreality of the settings he was describing. The incongruity of his creatures. Lovecraft knew, true horror doesn’t come from places or beings in the supernatural. They come from the mundane, the ordinary. The things you would never expect to frighten us. His greatest horror device is a simple book. This is where terror lives, where horror breathes, where life hangs on a thread.

I live in the Managerial age. in a world of “admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in the concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see the final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or office of a thoroughly nasty business concern. – C. S. Lewis
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Temple of Ultimate Evil
Histoprical Fiction

Boomerang

The Dreyfus Affair (1894–99) contributed much to the public interest in spying. It was a case in point, proving the public could be made to believe the most scandalous lies. Most importantly the details were reported by the world press. German, French and other intelligence agencies took note of the information released in the newspapers. It was only shortly after this intelligence agencies started down the serious road of disinformation... with the world’s reporters willing accomplices.

But, of course, the following is all fiction. Wouldn’t you say?
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Boomerang
Adventure

The Art of Being a Spy

This is an account of a man who has just lost some most people consider important. Only he doesn't know about the loss yet. This is because he’s come across an important discovery. Some people worry about terrorists, only a few of them can accurately imagine what a terrorist will do next. Unlike most people, Oliver Stephens has never really thought about his imagination. But he's going to be thinking a great deal about it from now on, a great deal.
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Art of Being a Spy
Science Fiction

Twinkle, Twinkle Giant Star

How far would you go to fulfil a lifelong dream? How want miles would you cross to find a warm sun and a blue sky, a rich land and fresh air? What would you do when your journey consisted of nothing but cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, and sickness? What would drive you on when there was only fragment of that dream left? One person is about to find out.
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Giant Star
Science Fiction

Fire for Effect

One of the points in fiction its ability to reveal a part of the human condition. It’s why we like stories. They tell us something about ourselves. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Mystery, Fantasy, Romance or even Science Fiction. Still there is something‘s unique about the last genre though. it’s the job of Science Fiction to remind us that some parts of the human condition are immovable, inviolate, and unchanging. No matter how much technology you throw at the conditions. Life remains life … especially in the way it relates to death.
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Fire for Effect
Fantasy

Road Work

This is the second part of the ‘Small Job’ story. You can think of it as the second chapter of that story. You might want to read it first. This story allowed me to delve into the reason behind the kobold desire to be shopkeepers as mentioned in the previous story. For me it’s an interesting, somewhat karmic, description of the background for the reason one treats another person fairly in business. If only it was true.
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Road Work
Horror

The Dream Builders

Man, a being of control. Only what happens to a man when he loses control? When he loses his grasp of those things built of crumbling cement and rotting wood? But what about dreams? Who controls them? Who builds them? Men don’t build dreams from mere concrete and rusting steel. No, they are built from thought and memory. They take form only in our neurons. But what happens to our dreams when the dream loses its dreamer?
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Dream Builders
Mystery

The Empty Room

This story started out as a straight horror story and then things went in a different direction. Part of the theme centered around how a continuing story, or a television series, ends. The problem with a satisfying ending for a continuing series is that our iconic character, who we have invested time in, now ends their career as an iconic character. Whether through death or loss of abilities, the result is still disappointing, as we no longer get to see our iconic character do their thing. Probably the only possible ending in such cases resolves as our iconic hero continuing to do their iconic tasks… only we can no longer read about them or see them. This allows the imagination to continue, even if the book or TV series no longer does.
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Empty Room
Humor

Herb Aside

This story was inspired by some song lyrics and some real events. Naturally, they are not the actual events. The ending should make that clear. This is story of two captives who lived undistinguished, perhaps meaningless, pointless, and failure-laden lives looking for an escape—any escape, any way, anything, anybody—to get out beyond their prison walls. Whether or not their effort was meaningless, well, that will be for you to decide.
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Herb Aside
Science Fiction

Dragon's Destiny

This was fun to write. It rolled onto the page in the space of three cups of tea. Like all good stories it began with a very vivid dream. To this is I added a pile of Easter eggs, some references you might find amusing.

My son is a console game player, he’s been one since he was eight. Collecting weapons, defenses, special abilities, levels, and prizes along the way. That got me thinking. At some point in, I hope the ridiculously far off future, these players will reach the end of their earthly logon periods. This gave me pause. Many of these games have a monthly subscription fee that is automatically deducted from a credit card on the first of every month. So, what happens to your characters after your final logoff? What will happen to the piles of goods, some of which you paid real money to acquire after your fingers stop working the controller? Don’t you own them? Even if they are just a collection of electronic impulses, technically they are real property because money changed hands. What happens to the characters you worked so hard to build up? Will the laws be adjusted to allow others to inherit them? Or will something else happen?
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Dragon's Destiny
Science Fiction

Conductive Voices

This is an experiment in a story with only one character and no dialog. Think of it as a journal article in a publication which has yet to be read. The observations of someone on an exclusive journey.
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Conductive Voices
Western

High Card Loses

This is my first crack at a western. But not in the style of ‘High Noon,’ although some of those elements are present to be sure. No, this story has more of the grave about it than the brave … as Scrooge might say. It’s about fear. Fear, of course, is extremely relative. It depends on time, mood, and the nature of the threat. Let’s call this an occurrence at the Faro table. A still valley that is home to the devil … who has all the aces up his sleeve.
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High Card Loses
Fantasy

Girl Knight

This story is a bit of a romance, although I intended it not to seem as if it was a romance. Part of it is a play on the ending and other parts of it are an experiment between character interactions and how to make change standard tropes. Still other parts are practice of the ‘show, don’t tell’ narrative style. Such a style is particularly hard in fantasy there the characters often engage in acts which would seem completely out of place without an explanation … hence the telling part. For example, participating in a medieval tournament. After all, it’s not a setting your average reader would find familiar.
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Girl Knight
Science Fiction

Target Acquired

The question of UFO has always been their intent. Will they be friendly exporters or hostile invaders? The whole question leaves us with the same doubts the Incas and the Aztecs must have felt. As in their case, the inquiry revolves around the nature of a possible defense against such an advanced technology. Yet by the 20th Century, the advantage of a technological advance became fleeting. All one had to do was capture and advanced technology, study it and learn how to defeat it. This, however, presumes the technology is not too advanced.
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Target Acquired
Horror

Virtual Reality Game

Technology can’t be haunted, right? RIGHT? Tell me the truth. Technology is all about science, not the paranormal. The paranormal is lies and crap. Invented by bad TV producers and cheap film makers, right? Actual technology can’t be haunted. It can’t be possessed. IT CAN’T! No, I won’t believe it. Science is science. Technology is just a tool of science. It’s only a tool. There is no good or evil involved. After all, science is the modern, secular religion. Evil cannot possess technology. It would be like a demon living in a vile of holy water … Oh, my God. Oh, my God, no.
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Virtual Reality Game
Science Fiction

Space Vessel 2226

The UB65 was built by Germany in 1916. Trouble came before the UB65's maiden voyage as just before the ship was completed, three men were taken over by fumes in the engine room. They died before anyone could find them. On the maiden voyage, the UB65 hit a storm. One crewman was lost overboard. Another time during submarine diving tests, one of the ballast tanks sprang a leak. It left the crew without any means of renewing the oxygen in the U-boat. Repairs took twelve hours and were completed just before the men suffocated. On the return trip, the submarine was torpedoed, killing the second officer and damaging the ship.

On January 1918, the German U-Boat UB65 sailed into the English Channel looking for possible targets. The U-Boat’s starboard look-out on the conning tower, viewed an officer positioned on deck almost exactly under him, even though all the other hatches were battened down. The ghost seemed to shout a warning, the crew swore he was the ship's previous second officer who was killed in an explosion on UB65's first voyage. The look-out's terrified yells brought the current UB65 captain to the tower who also witnessed the ghost before it disappeared.

But this has nothing to do with this story.
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SV 2226
Science Fiction

The Learning Room

Call this a cross between Science Fiction and Horror, perhaps Science Horror. It’s a cross between Minority Report and several episodes of Twilight Zone with a few Star Treks thrown in for good measure. It’s an altogether different version of dealing with crime than merely seeing it before it happens. I used the name Alice because … well, this really is a journey through Wonderland. Only without the rabbit. It also my experiment in seeing how to move a single character between two different settings without giving too much away. And then, of course, there is the surprise ending … that’s important.
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Learning Room
Horror

The Devils’ Bridge

The Devil's Bridge near Pontarfynach village is a bridge which spans a fast-flowing river. The bridge is unusual because three separate bridges are existent, each one built upon the other. The previous structures were not removed. According to legend, the first bridge was built after a woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When it was finished, the old woman threw a loaf of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. According to some folks … but not Simon. He tells a different story.
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Devil's Bridge
Horror

Anyone Up for a Horror Film?

The classic question of horror is why is the monster a monster. Or, perhaps more importantly why do we think it’s a monster. In general, a monster is anything which threatens us. So, by this definition a predator is a monster in all case where you are currently the prey. So, a hungry lion in our front yard is a monster. But a lion in a zoo is just a specimen. Or is it?
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Horror Film
Fantasy

Small Job

In Eastern storytelling tradition, the hero often has a specific group of allies. An opposite (of the hero), a big guy, a smart guy, and a girl. In another part of Eastern storytelling tradition, foes can often become companions. In Dragon Ball Z, for example, almost all of Goku companions were once his enemies. In Western storytelling, it’s rare for a foe to suddenly become a companion, let alone a trusted friend. Now enter Kleeg and his pals. They have a small mission to accomplish.
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Small Job
Horror

Great Puppet Theatre

At the Grand Guignol in Paris, the audience would see several plays, all at a very naturalistic level. The plays were usually short and many of them were horror based, in the vein of today’s splatter films. By far the most popular were the horror plays, featuring a distinctly bloodstained events as well as notably gory special effects in their notoriously bloody climaxes.
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Puppet
Science Fiction

Return Trip

Conflict is a funny thing. Look up at the moon. It’s hard to imagine, but if there hadn’t been a 40-year long conflict between ideologies, would we have ever gotten to the lunar surface? Or would it still be the province of dreaming writers and film makers? Can we say the Cold War was the push which gave us one giant leap for mankind? But more important than this question is the one all of us should be asking. When well we return?
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Return Trip
Science Fiction

Hostile Take Over

Once a business starts to struggle, well, it not a pretty sight. Ethics, honesty, it all goes out the window. But in the end, “It’s immoral to let a suck keep his money.” Or so people have been known to say. Trouble is what makes morality in a business sense? Certainly not loyalty. Can you imagine a business person as a military man? Sorry, Mr. Bataan Death March prisoner, you’re too expensive for us to come and rescue. But the real question is why solve our business problems when we can shift them somewhere else? Funny how even a sharp criminal organization shows more loyalty to its recruits than your average business. Now, let’s look at things from a different angle.
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Hostile Take Over
Science Fiction

There’s a Duck on my Tail

The Royal Air Force (RAF) had 16 Polish squadrons during the Second World War. One of these squadrons, the 303, was the highest scoring of the Hurricane squadrons during the Battle of Britain. Sadly, the pilots were treated rather poorly by English pilots who saw them as losers … not the operators of obsolete aircraft who none the less shot 123 aircraft out of the sky and damaged another 153 beyond recovery. "Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry," wrote Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, head of RAF Fighter Command, "I hesitate to say that the outcome of the Battle (of Britain) would have been the same." Sadly, these under thanked few, as Churchill so aptly put it, were repatriated back to Poland after WWII for execution or imprisonment by the new Polish state.

So now add the Battle of Britain film (1969), to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009). Watch what happens.
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Duck on my Tail
Fantasy

Trolls

Trolls is a story of a band of trolls. It relates an interesting view of humanity from the other size and spends some time as to the different view people and creatures have as to what constitutes good looks and how that effects relations both between and within a species. It’s a satirical world turned upside down, as ugly green becomes the new black … at least for our heroes.
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Trolls
Science Fiction

Spaceworld

What happens to people's when games become their vacation? Here’s a look at a player, playing a unique game in the future, when gaming is … how shall I put this … very intense. But it’s also a story about when the wrong people get their hands-on capable technology. In the end, it’s a story about how technology changes us.
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Spaceworld
Histoprical Fiction

The Orzel Incident

It’s the opening ways of World war II and the crew of the Polish Submarine Orzel, meaning Eagle in Polish, is taking its first patrol out in the Baltic. What can go wrong? This is a tale of heroism … and a daring escape … from one of the lesser known quarters of World War II. The events are all true … I just added the dialog.
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Orzel Incident
Fantasy

Business as Usual

The magical university is a bit of a trope and it’s certainly been done several times, so readers should be familiar with it. Now, just for fun add an IT department. This story is all about one of the major aspects of fantasy -- the ability to make social commentary. In this case the world of technology and how it affects us. Technology is a special case, now burned into our psyche with more heat than a branding iron. It attempts to create obscure and metaphysical explanations to cover a practical phenomenon. It creates reasons dredged out of the shadows to explain away things which shouldn’t exist in the first place. Call it technical advancement or just insanity. All we know is, it’s not going away any time soon.
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Business as Usual
Fantasy

The Conspiracy

Sometimes you can get inspiration from a concept. Here I got inspired by a set of characters and a magic system. This story covers the question of what happens to a magician who has a vast series of powerful spells locked in his head and he can’t access them. The first character you meet is also not the hero. She’s the catalyst. The hero you meet later. Of course, this isn’t obvious in this story as the hero will not become the hero until later in life. But that’s the subject for another story.
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Conspiracy
Fantasy

Rejected Wizards – Peter’s Tale

This a short tale about one of my characters from my story “Rejected Wizards.” It’s a tale of Peter Arjun, the assembler. A classic tale of a boy and his dog … Ok maybe not so classic. But it is a tale of two frustrated people to band together to build something uniquely special.
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Peters Tale
Romance

The Shed in the Garden

This is another portal story. I love a good portal story. Yes, I know. It’s a cheap way to connect both the characters and the reader, to a vastly different world. But isn’t this what all good books intend to do? A portal story is simply a little more obvious about it. But if you have a good portal, like the one in this story, it adds a special piece of mystery to the tale. Characters in a portal story are usually swept up in the problems and politics of the fantasy world and become important to the course of history there, then return to the real world seemly changed by their experience. Sometimes the change occurs simply from traveling to another place, another time. In reality, a portal can’t make a character something they are not. But it can cause them to release things they’ve been keeping in a cage for an extraordinarily long time.
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Shed
Science Fiction

Escape Hatch

This is a one scene story. The set never changes. the environment remains the same. It’s a locked room mystery. The reader never has to worry about the setting, because everything is character driven. Occasionally, it’s also fun to write a short story as a dialog between two characters. You let them tell the story. It’s my belief this is the origin of the detective tale. A story where one of the characters acts as the reader, asking the other character or a group of characters to tell the story. Asking the questions, the reader would ask. It’s a way of injecting the reader into a story. Having a mystery helps. It’s the writer’s whisper they know something … and if you read to the end of the story, they’ll tell you what they know.
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Escape Hatch
Science Fiction

Divided Planet

This is a classic Flying Dutchman story. Not in the sense of the ship flying around the universe without a crew or a dead one. This is an example of a cursed ship. Maritime history of full of stories of unluck ships, but you don’t see to many of them in Science Fiction. Sure, the ship in Quark (1977) was a garbage scow and the Orville (2017) isn’t exactly a front-line battle craft, but they are not cursed. Not like the AC Simon P. Cain. The Simon P. Cain turns out to be an enigma, a 700.000-ton puzzle made from aluminum, steel, nanopolymers and a few thousand other component parts, none of which add up to a space worthy vessel. Now imagine being assigned to this space Flying Dutchman.
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Divided Planet
Fantasy

Scary, Scary Monster

This is my second Strakx story. Yes, I know. It’s starting to become a habit. It’s a fantasy story, established in a place I’ve taken to naming the Never Realms. Strakx lives there as does Lucid, the subject of my second novel. It’s not only a portal tale, Never Realm is a portal world.

Fantasy has, as it roots, imagination and perspective. In a mystery it’s enough for us know who the monster is. In a horror story it’s enough for us to know there is a monster. In science-fiction we must know why the monster is there and where it comes from. In fantasy, however, we need to know why people think it’s a monster. Strakx is all about investigating who is the monster and why they think some creature is a monster. It’s not an entirely complete story.

Think of it as chapter two in the forthcoming Strakx saga. You might want to read chapter one first.
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Scary Scary Monster
Horror

Midnight’s Pawn

This is a horror story after a fashion. It does involve werewolves, vampires and mummies … plus a few other types thrown in as well. But it’s not the point of the story. In the early 1980’s there was comedy called The Greatest American Hero. It chronicled a teacher’s adventures after a group of aliens gives him a red and black suit which grants him superhuman abilities. Unfortunately for our hero, who hates wearing the suit, he immediately loses the instruction booklet, and things do downhill from there. Now imagine the other side. A normal guy becomes a monster. Only there never was an instruction manual.
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Midnight's Pawn
Fantasy

Journey of the Nimble

I decided to publish this story as a series. Partly because I just wasn’t ready to start my third novel. The other part is due to the Heroine’s quest. She’s after justice … and we all know how elusive that can be. Her life has been a quest for impossible things like flowers growing from a stone or like trying to catch a ray of light out of the air and put it under glass, so it can shine forever. She doesn’t seem like much. A failed revolutionary, a leader without the appropriate skills, but she does know one thing … there's nothing mightier than the meek. Welcome aboard the Nimble.
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Nimble
Histoprical Fiction

The Skoli Vikings

I’ve told this story for years. I heard it once in a different form, but this is my version of the story. The names have been changed because that’s what us tale tellers do. I was intrigued by the dark humor of the tale. The Viking age was a rough time, and I think this story illustrates the effect of such a rough life had on Viking humor. Like any good storyteller though, I’ve embellished a few of the finer points and added a few codas of my own. It’s also a form of trickster tale, my favorite style of story. Enjoy.
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Vikings
Vikings Audio
Science Fiction

Memoir

There really were two actors in 1849 who hated each other’s guts, Edwin Forrest and William Macready. One American and one English. On the same night, they both did a performance of Hamlet in New York city which resulted in an event called the Astor Place Riot. It left between 22 and 31 rioters dead, and more than 120 people injured. Even NYPD officers were injured, and the US Military had to be called out to keep order … it didn’t work. Edgar Allen Poe would tell you this kind of malevolence stays around even after death. Read on, just please don’t do it in the dark.
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Memoir
Fantasy

Delve Into Darkness

This was a challenge I gave to myself. In the game Call to Adventure, you create a hero and then proceed to use the hero for the purposes for which they were created. So, I played a round of the game to create a hero, determined I would write a story based on whatever cards presented themselves. I would then add the appropriate conflicts, sights, and smells to the story … to flesh it out. Here is the result.
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Delve Into Darkness
Horror

Other Poems

The first book Edgar Allen Poe ever published was called "Tamerlane and Other Poems." The title piece is about the historical Timur the Lame who forsakes his true love to build an empire but later comes to regret his decision. He had to pay a printer named Calvin F. S. Thomas to publish the 40-page collection (and you though self-publishing was new.) Poe, like many self-conscious writers, were uncomfortable with the work and had it published anonymously with the credit granted to "a Bostonian." Because of all this, this work is less common than the Guttenberg Bible … perhaps with good reason.
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Other Poems
Mystery

Lost Journey

There are those writers who make the claim in a suspense story the writer makes a covenant with the reader. It’s like saying … I know something you don’t know … but I promise to tell you if you keep reading. This begs the question, what if you ready don’t want to know? What if you are better off not knowing? Are mystery writers ignorant of the basilisk? The creature who destroys you just by looking at it? Have none of these writers read about a medusa? Is it always wise to look up the face of the mystery? Read on … and then you tell me. I do hope you have your mirror handy.
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Lost Journey
Science Fiction

Space Race

The Norse brought the word Raz to France, meaning "swift water" during their invasion of Normandy and Brittany. The word race began to mean a "contest of speed" and was first recorded in the 1510s. Oddly enough, the word Escheat is also a term coined by the French in the 1500’s. It referred to the division of property to the state when the owner dies without heirs. Royal officers who performed such duties evidently had a reputation for unscrupulousness, from which we get the modern term: cheating. Interesting isn’t it? Two unrelated words, both founded at almost the same time. Maybe they are not as unrelated as we might like to believe.
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Space Race
Science Fiction

The Dreamer

What if Calvin and Hobbes were real. Calvin the perpetual little boy and his best friend Hobbes, who he sees as a tiger, but everyone else sees as a stuffed animal? Meet Henry Applebaum. He’s an adult with a standard adult job … by that we mean an employment opportunity that no child has ever said they wanted to grow up to become. It helps pay the bills but does nothing for the soul. To mitigate this, Henry’s become a collector. A frequenter of flea markets and garage sales, specialty stores and eBay auctions. Some of his items are unique, a few are even bazaar. One or two might be called special.
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The Dreamer
Fantasy

Outside the Moral Order

This is a portal story. It a tale of a character who is transported from this world to another. This Magoffin is an effort to place a modern character in a remote or different setting without having to slow down the story with details. After all, we don’t get a full travel log description of the Borgo Pass in Dracula, we simply get the overview. The idea is to allow the character to have more of a connection with the reading audience, rather then be a realistic Roman, for example. I think the true architect of this sub-genre is Edgar Rice Burroughs in Princess of Mars. In this work the main character, John Carter, by hiding in a sacred cave, is mysteriously transported to Mars. This tale uses the portal method to take the main character to another world, but in a somewhat unique way. Not the portal specifically, but in the transformation of the character from a perception to reality … with a few twists. Basically, this is my idea of how Edgar Rice Burroughs would have written for the Twilight Zone. Here’s hoping the ending has the same resonance as Jake Tyler Brigance’s summation to the jury in the 1996 film: A Time to kill.

In this scene the lawyer brilliantly uses the jury’s own racial stereotyping against them. He carefully does not mention race until the very last word. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a short version of the summation:

I want to tell you a story. I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her … Pitch her over the edge. And she drops some thirty feet down to the creek bottom below. Can you see her? Her … beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, … soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white.
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Outside the Moral Order
Fantasy

Battalion! Battalion!

This is a classic David vs. Goliath story. Although it changes the original story to a small number of David’s pitted against a larger number of Goliath’s. The David’s surprised the attacking force with missile weapons for which the Goliath’s had no defense. Although this is a similar story, it shouldn’t surprise you one side has three-foot-tall green guys with overly large heads. Yea, you got it, more goblins. In the end, this is a story about what people will sacrifice to achieve an end.
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Battalion
Humor

Can I Help You?

Introducing Mr. Jason Farber, author, who has a story to tell. It’s a poignant story which could change the world as we know it. This is a quiet man, a friendless man, a lonely man, an anxious, nervous figure of a man. This is a man who has lived 34 undistinguished, toil filled, struggling years and who at this moment is seeking doorway to tell his story — any door, any doorway at all, anything, anybody — to get out of the endless mire he finds himself in. And this little man is just what the publishing world has been waiting for.
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Can I Help You
Science Fiction

6EQUJ5

At 11:16PM on August 15, 1997, Ohio State University picked up a signal from near the star Chi Sagittarius. The radio telescope there was looking for signals higher than background noise. A type of signal many believed would be a sort of greeting card from another civilization. That night among the normal zeros, ones and twos was a signal which rose to six and then climbed to E (the mainframe computer compiling the results listed values above nine as letters.) For 72 seconds the score climbed all the way up to U, 30 points higher than the normal background noise. It subsided down to five before returning to normal. Astronomer Jerry Ehman, who saw the data on a paper printout wrote, “Wow!” in the document’s margin.
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6EQUJ5
Humor

The Celestial Librarian

Ever go shopping for a new computer and come out more confused than when you went in? Ever been confused, bewildered or angered by unintelligible hardware descriptions? Ever wonder what computer features really do? Here is a story about a gentleman that you never want to see as a fellow customer.
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Celestial Librarian
Horror

Primordial Grin

This is a horror story that asks the question how do regular people become cold-hearted killers and how do they change back after the war is over. But this story, however, has a unique twist in it … regarding who the characters in the story really are.
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Primordial Grin
Science Fiction

Oumuamua

We’ve seen out first visitor from another solar system. I can’t decide which tickles me more, the fact people instantly assumed it might be a spaceship or the press going wild over it. Sadly, it’s probably just a piece of space junk. Since it didn’t stop or orbit anything … which would make it a crummy probe. Funny how the scientific community immediately assumed it was simply broken. So, what if it was a spaceship? Wouldn’t you like to read the log book? I would.
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Oumuamua
Science Fiction

Implant

This story could be the beginning of a much longer piece, but I present it in the form of a short story. Admittedly Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley got there first in 1816. However here speculation was based more on suspected medical advances than on the invention of artificial intelligence. So, I present you a slightly different version of a modern Prometheus. Yet it is not quite the fallen angel the creature protests he is to Victor, but an angel of a different verity. The target was a copy of a species of flimsy little two-legged animals with extremely small heads and tiny undeveloped brains. Sadly, yet another failure in the quest of science.
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Implant
Science Fiction

Flash

I’ve never tried flash fiction. I have a very popular oral short story which I tell as an example of an adult tale. It involves a man walking to a bar and asking if it was true, the story of St. Patrick removing all the snakes in Ireland. The bartender replies: “No, it’s an old wife’s tale. But we have asked the English to go home.” It short and it tells a punchy story. For me, it’s the very nature of the extremely short story. Tell a coherent story with a clear beginning and an ending. At the same time, effect an emotional response. Do it all in 100 words or less. In fact, use less words than in this introduction. It’s a skill.
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Flash
Fantasy

Never Use Cheat Codes on a Ouija Board

Sometimes you run across a title which calls out for a story. This is definitely one of those titles. Bellwether Morton is one of those types addicted to the concept of the bargain. But unbeknownst to Mr. Morton is the fact that there's a little surprise in his latest acquisition, neither expected nor bargained for. The creatures involved in this story not only intend to invade Earth by violence, but they are also keen on indulging a festering desire to insult and humiliate mankind in the process.
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Ouija Board
Mystery

Game Spirit

This is a mystery or a horror story, take your pick. Yet horror stories have a particular venue. Strange houses, graveyards, the odd model along less traveled lanes and the occasional high school. But what if the object being haunted wasn’t contained to a single place? What if it existed is an object used by almost everyone. And what if, instead of staying in one place at a time, it was spreading? Don’t read this at night and keep a ice-cold glass of water nearby at all times.
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Game Spirit
Science Fiction

Extreme Squad

The one thing you can say about combat is it’s a shared experience. There’s always someone you can talk to about it. Perhaps this is what allows us to perform these nightmarish tasks without folding … the shared experience. But the day is coming when such might not be the case. A time when the people who fight at your side literally cannot talk to you. Once this happens, the nightmare will manifest as real. Yet, what of these last young men who engage in combat? Proudly wearing the colors they always have: brown earth, gray dust, red blood, and yellow-white fear.
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Extreme Squad
Horror

If You Could Just Wait a Moment

This one is specifically for game players. If you’ve never even seen an Xbox or know what a PSII is, this probably is not a story for you. But for those folks who have played Destiny, Star War Game of Heroes, Age of Empires, Work of Tanks and games of that type, you’ll now right what I am taking about. Some stories are about a cathartic experience for the writer … this is one of those stories.
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Wait
Horror

Brutus and Stern

You think you are ignored at work? That’s nothing compared to what is going one with these two … creatures. They’ve been hard at work for centuries and have just finished toiling over a creation to awake the Elder Gods and punish their employers. At least, that was what they were hoping for.
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Brutus and Stern
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?
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Return Flight
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.
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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.
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Training Wing 13
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.
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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.
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Time Machine
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.
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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.
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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
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.
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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.’
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Twelve Times Backwards
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.
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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

 

  Novelette  
Science Fiction

Throgs Neck Ridge

This story is about death… or more accurately about the process of dying. I think the one thing that disappoints people is not being able to pick when and how they go. Chances are no matter how far into the future we look, the same issue will remain. Only if we get to reach out to the stars and find them populated will we get to discover if our disappointment is shared or if we truly do die alone.
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Throgs Neck Ridge
Science Fiction

Mechanized Battle

Combat and technology have a demented love affair. It's totally dysfunctional. Everyday technology drags along taking a step up every once in a while. Then people get involved in killing. Suddenly, technology not only skips a rung on the advancement ladder, it skips the entire ladder. Rocketing its way up to an entirely different level.
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Mechanized Battle
Fantasy

Mirror, Mirror, Take a Fall

This was supposed to be a short little story. Then it became a Novelette. Sometimes things simply happen. It started as simple version of Paradise Lost, but it added a third factor to the war in Heaven. You see, most rebellions have a third component. 25% of the participants take one side and 25% take the other side. But a full 50% simply don't care who wins. Milton forgot about those. The other half. We'll can them the little people. The people who just don't want to get involved.
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Mirror, Mirror, Take a Fall
Fantasy

Village, Village Burning Bright

Occasionally, you start off with a little story, but the characters won’t let you stop. This was one of those stories. It’s an amalgamation of lots of influences, but mostly it’s a story of morality. Twisted morality to be sure, but morality all the same. Besides, I like goblins they are the Laurel and Hardy of my fantasy world. This almost became novel number three. It still might.
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Village
Science Fiction

Interplanetary Procurements

Sometimes you have a character in mind who just begs for you to tell their story. Janet Pose and her colleagues fell deeply into this category. It can be tough to make your characters flawed. Since they are your creations you tend to ignore their flaws. But flaws can be fun. Not only are they interesting to read about, but they can be fun to write. Once you’ve figured out the right flaw. Janet’s flaw kind of stuck right out from the get-go, like an orange flag handing off a bicycle. She’s beautiful, competent and greedier than twelve Midas’s. So, when the opportunity came along to make more money … well, now we have our story.
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IP
Fantasy

CEO

I should admit, this is another in my series of goblin stories. I think it’s become a theme. As I pointed out before, I believe I have a good understanding of ugly. Turns out that in my pantheon, trolls are ugly and serious, but goblins are ugly and humorous. Perhaps it’s just the image of little green men wearing dirty rags and floppy eared hats. In one respect, it’s the goblin version of ‘The Tramp.’ Sorry, Mr. Chaplin, goblins don’t like bowler hats. In any case here is another goblin story, set inside a book end of the story of my strongest female character so far … more about her later.
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CEO
Science Fiction

Game Plan

In Manhattan there is a small knot of buildings. Once the center of a gaming empire which would rival Genghis Khan, it’s now a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it housed a technology so advanced some called it a miracle. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high canyons of what was once streets, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a cars which once traveled upon its pavement. But since this is strictly a story, it must start this way: once upon a time, in a place very much like ours, one man started a game. And though he's not yet in the game, you're about to meet a most unusual player …
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Game Plan
Fantasy

Far Over the Sky Mountains

I met an editor once who had no idea goblins had existed in any other literature before Harry Potter. Tolkien would have been disappointed. So would several thousand Vikings I could name. What this tells me is humans are collectively forgetful. This is a good thing. It means we can forget we don’t like something, or someone. Now if we could only learn not to take so long to do it. Warning: this story contains goblins, but not the ones Harry Potter would recognize. No these are Viking goblins. Tolkien’s goblins. Goblins to be feared and distrusted. Goblins who hunt and know they are hunted in return. This is also the first part of a hero’s tale. How do I know this is just the first part? Simple. No story has a happy ending unless you stop telling it before the story is done.
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Sky Mountians
Romance

Comrade Commissar

A young man appears in a totally back water town at the height of the Russian Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War. The inhabitants dress and look the part of Russian peasants from two centuries past, but their thinking is anything but. Part of his problem is that in this tiny town, the dead don’t die … they hang around … and they are more than happy to tell him exactly what he should be doing. It’s a story about a young politician learning the hard lesson that national policy doesn’t matter, people matter.
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Comrade Commissar
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.
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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.
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In Disguise
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.
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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.
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Transition
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.
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The Maze
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
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
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

 

  Serial Novels  
Fantasy

Demonmaster Jim: Night of Dreams

There was once a time when people wrote serialized novels. In the fantasy genre, I have to say the idea has a certain appeal… especially since fantasy novels tend to be so dammed long. There was also the appeal of writing a novel where the demon inhabits a man and starts spewing standard business logic as a corrupting feature. It one of those things which make you think… or gives you nightmares. Depending on your point of view. I also wanted to put a new angle on the possession story. One where the host and possessing demon share the same body based on the presence of sunlight. So here we go, part one: The Night of Dreams.
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Demonmaster Jim: Night of Dreams
Fantasy

Demonmaster Jim: Night of the Village Shadow

It's not the things which go bump in the night which should disturb you. No, it's desperation. It's perhaps the worst of the human emotions. Because it breeds the other like wildfire. Desperation is the single parent to a whole host of diseases that are better left in the dark. It's the wellspring of evil. Prejudice and bias have nothing on desperation. And the funny thing is, desperation always like to attach themselves to tout their moral superiority. There people begin practicing their lies to themselves, before they start in on others. Enjoy chapter two… if you dare.
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Demonmaster Jim: Night of the Village Shadow
 

 

 
     

 


Edited = Edited works Self Edited = Self-edited