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David Woodruff has been a storyteller for over 35 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:  
What’s the Catch?

What's the Catch?

Despite Hollywood movies, our first contact with beings from another world will not be an encounter with a lovable, 3-foot-tall creature with long fingers, a warm heart, and an interest in traveling in bicycle baskets. The more probable result is… well, let's just call it scarier.

He didn't have a name; not in the way we understand names. Everyone simply called him the Ambassador. Frankly, I don't even know if he was male. It was anybody's' best guess. Outwardly, he resembled the result of a consortium of octopi… who'd had an unfortunate accident involving radioactive materials in a particle accelerator. Not the prettiest of sights I can assure you. When I met him, he had the strongest smell of chlorine about him… as if he'd recently climbed out of a swimming pool. Of course, it would have to have been an Olympic-size pool as he was rather on the large size. There was the taste of copper in my mouth. I think I bit my tongue. "What brings you to our world?"

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Rise from the Ashes

Rise from the Ashes

A statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass was ripped from its base in Rochester on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in the city in 1852. Authorities said the statue was taken on July 5th, 2020 from Maplewood Park, a site along the Underground Railroad where Douglass and Harriet Tubman helped shuttle slaves to freedom.

Jarmon didn't like being a demon, he didn't think it was what he was good at. He certainly didn't enjoy the spooky lighting concept. It was a little dark for him and he kept stubbing his toe on the furniture because of the gloom. Plus, he'd never much cared for the smell of brimstone. It had an odor you just couldn't get out of your robes… and it lasted for centuries. Technically, his job was to corrupt humans, but there wasn't much to do. People tended to do a fine job all by themselves, without any outside assistance. Despite racking his brain, he couldn't think of anything he could do to make things worse.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Come Sail Away

Come Sail Away

I like Likks, I think he's a great character. I think he'd be a perfect character for Peter Dinklage to play. Maybe someone can get him for the film. He's the kobold version of the human who thinks he knows everything, but in fact, is missing more than a few marbles. I also liked leaving the story open-ended, with the result clearly off in the distance, and not too difficult to determine.

Likks hated humans. "Stupid towering giraffe-like beasts. Smooth skin, not even any scales." he snickered. But the Ronnu was going to fix everything. The three-foot-tall red-scaled kobold grabbed the bottom of the ladder. He tested the ropes. Likks still wasn't sure the balloon and the boat hanging beneath it would stay in the air. After all, you can't trust wizards. Most of them just don't understand the universal nature of property. As in what is yours is, in reality, mine. Likks had to teach the mage who made the Ronnu's balloon with the appropriate application of a knife blade to his sternum.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Temporal Sphere

Temporal Sphere

There is the notion the use of magic makes things easier. This may not actually be the case. I rather enjoyed writing about Rupert and Avid, the two protagonists in this story. They make an unlikely but at the same time obvious pair. The story is a good example of the portion of the hero's journey where things start going from worse to terrifying and sucking in the characters. I mean, when Alderaan gets blown up in Star Wars, it's tragic, but Luke doesn't have to care. But when he gets trapped in the Death Star… then things start to get personal.

 

From the outside, Rupert Campbell's house looked ordinary. Except for the fact, the gnome lived in a tower without any stairways inside it. The tower's design was intended to make it difficult for intruders, as there was no physical way to get to the upper floors. It was even warded against second-story men. Any ladder or rope which touched the exterior instantly shrunk to six inches in size. One of the local burglars prominently kept a collection of tiny ladders in his study.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Fish Out of Water

Fish Out of Water

What do you do when something happens you can't possibly explain? Most of us don't do well with the impossible, simply because… well, it's impossible.

t crawled out of the fish tank. Jason had never seen anything like it. It had two arms and the same number of legs. Its round, Charlie Brown-like head was about a third of its body. But it was nothing more than water from the fish tank. It was completely transparent. Jason could even see the three goldfish swimming around happily in the creature's chest.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Sweet Nightmares

Sweet Nightmares

I read somewhere patients can fight an affliction mentally. This is most likely quackery designed to sooth the pains of those with Carcinophobia. But then there are those who say we are the dream, that it is our dreams that are reality. With my luck, it'll be my nightmares that are reality.

Louis led the white-robed reinforcements down into the depths. The darkened corridors smelled of copper. Long steel blades flashed occasionally in the darkness, catching a glimpse of what little light penetrated these damp pits. From the shadows above us, they sprang. They were misshapen creatures, heavy and huge. They struck with astonishing swiftness. Arms… well, what could be imagined as twisted, distorted arms flailed in all directions like a maddened octopus.

GENRE: HORROR

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The Tomb Guardians

The Tomb Guardians

I'm hoping there is a nice marketplace for stories about your average Joes just trying to do their jobs. Especially for folks toiling away in positions with no medical or dental plan, no profit-sharing, and absolutely no retirement plan. Even though they've been dead for 400 years. I mean, you need to have an appreciation for being trapped in a job, right? Plus, I've always been interested in what was going on right before the tale The Thing in the Crypt. This is my version.

The lich was beyond death. By the same token, he was beyond life. Then came the time he was beyond caring. He ventured down into the pits, traversing the ageless gloom. He wandered into the deep shadows, laying his bones upon his once-mighty throne. There he stayed. There was no place for him beside death. And death ignored him. The carcasses of his armies collapsed into disassociated piles of bone and grey clouds of dust. All except for two, where his necromantic enchantment still lingered.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

The basic premise of this story is the idea that devils where once angels who rebelled and were cast out of Heaven. Now we combine this idea with the concept of the guardian angel… and a working stiff with… well, let's call it a slightly different agenda.

Garret ran across the burning sands. He could almost smell the rough grains baking under the intense sunlight. It reminded him of glass being made in a furnace. The wind out here even fanned the oppressive heat. He expected the grains to turn into a molten slurry under his feet at any second. They shouldn't be chasing me, the thief thought to himself. He hadn't robbed them blind; but he'd only taken a few of the bigger, more valuable gemstones. After all, they were easier to carry. They had so much of the stuff, who'd notice a few missing? Still, whenever he turned his head back, he would catch a glimpse of the two guards behind him. Garret could tell they were temple guards. Their bright red turbans gave them away. Still, he thought they should have given up by now.

GENRE: FANTASY

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You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

There is an old saying, 'to err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer.' Perhaps this saying should be updated to include the smartphone. Supposedly there are now 2.5 billion of them floating around the planet. That's one smartphone per person. I don't think even the television is even as ubiquitous. I don't even think there had been a pandemic so pervasive and all-encompassing. If every one of these devices contained a bomb the world could end with a single ringtone.

Arliss Pondicare was searching for the ultimate phone app. He never went anywhere without his phone. It was more of a personal extension of himself than a pocket computer. Flipping through the listing, he scrupulously avoided all the apps with in-app purchasing. Arliss didn't object to paying for software, he just wanted the price to be finite. Not an endless stream emanating from his pocket to the wallet of the developers… or more likely the greedy SOBs who ran the marketing department.

GENRE: HORROR

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Close to the Heart

Close to the Heart

Any given story doesn't have to be obvious… it probably shouldn't be. But it does have to be believable and possible. Science-Fiction gives the author a lot more leeway in the possible part, but it still must be believable. However, most of the believability of a will center around the human… not the technological… portion of any story. Still, what a character does has to be plausible. Case in point…

She took a flying leap at the ornately dressed man in the impressive uniform. The dagger struck perfectly between his ribs, seeking his beating heart. The shiny blade penetrated about a quarter-inch and then bent; the point blunted.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Night Terrors

Night Terrors

We think of identity theft as a recent addition to events. One which requires the Internet, credit cards, and electronic records. The truth is doublegangers, changelings, rakshasa, the man in the iron mask… beings that steal our lives have been about long before the invention of the smartphone. Long before anyone even dreamed of electronic records. Probabilities are they have been part of history, only we've never known it.

The heat was oppressive. Standing around you felt like you were being toasted in an oven. Thank God he wasn't in a tank. Despite the extra protection, you could die just from the desert heat. For a moment he thought about the regular residents of Tobruk and he couldn't even imagine living here. Curt Watkins had seen more sand and dust than he had ever wanted to see.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Cosy Dell

Cosy Dell

Who says a vampire story must be about a person? Just because the sun is out doesn't mean you are safe. In fact, the more sunlight there is, the more shadows. Shadows can't exist without light. And the brighter the light, the darker the shadows. So next time you are out in the pristine wilderness, ask yourself why no one lives there.

It was a nice summer day, although a little on the hot side. He stumbled into the bus station at Devore. He looked like hell. His skin was raw as if someone had run over his face with a belt sander. His jacket looked like he'd been through a bombing. Normally, I wouldn't even have noticed him. You know how you train yourself to ignore vagrants and peddlers at places like bus stops. Eye contact can be a dangerous thing. Never look at the crazy ones directly. As I said, I dutifully ignored him, but then he collapsed. There's a whole different rule set for aiding people in physical distress. You help them out because you hope they would do the same for you.

GENRE: HORROR

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The Device

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.

"You know Elenore," her assistant Cyrus mumbled as he tightened the screws on the device, "The gods of old, tended to be rather destructive. Floods, plagues, and the like."

GENRE: FANTASY

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A Roll of the Bones

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?

I remember the old man who taught me to read the bones. The lessons were always taught at night as if the darkness was a metaphor for my understanding. We'd sit beside the fire together, the coarse red glow bleeding over the ghostly ivory of the bones. The smell of the obscuring smoke thick in the air. I'd struggle with the interpretation. "You're not looking," he'd admonish me.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Passenger

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.

It was a slow day at LaGuardia Airport, especially at the regional counters. The sky was clear and blue, with only a few puffy clouds in the distance. Perfect flying weather. Still, not a lot of traveling going on. Vince Eddington sat behind the counter staring at a letter from Southwest Airlines. They'd turned down his application again. Not enough hours in the air. Vince couldn't get into the military, so he couldn't get a position through the standard pilot route. But he loved to fly. Piloting these short hops was the only thing left. Central New York Airways was a tiny outfit. You were the pilot, steward, and ticket counter operator all in one. Short hops between LaGuardia, Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester, and Binghamton. The other pilots called it the Rod Serling route. Ten passengers at the most

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Red Cowboy

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.

Ivan Vladimir Bryusov stood in the turret hatch of his T-34 tank. On the side, in white letters, was the tank's nickname "Commissar." Stalin himself had granted the famous actor permission to purchase his own tank and join the Red Army. At first, he was reluctant. He told Bryusov his job was to make movies and inspire the troops, raise morale. But Ivan kept insisting on it. Some though Stalin was secretly hoping the fascists would kill him. It would bring an end to his constant demands to join the fight. Half the movie studio had gone with him. Ipatyev, his driver, now Chauffeured him around town in a medium tank. Leonidovich, the second-unit director, brought camera equipment along and even now was filming the handsome tank commander.

GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION

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Understanding

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.

The rain pounded on the pavement. You could smell the water in the air. It was cold. But none of this seemed to affect the giant screen looming over the pavement. The man in the image also seemed unaffected by the inclement weather. The sky behind him was blue, the scene pastoral. His suit was immaculate. The voice was charming, convincing.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Meeting in Elysium

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?

James woke up in a ramshackle bed in some strange English cottage. He was groggy, but the house appeared to be one of those people can rent to get a real feel for what living in the Saxon period was like. He did hope they put in some real plumbing. Time to jot down a note not to drink so much at the next party. His head felt like someone had been using it as a drumhead.

GENRE: FANTASY

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The Bargain

The Bargain

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

Tired of the pains and torments of existence, a man decided to end his life. He made an appointment with Death. At the appointed time Death arrived,  a tall, hooded skeletal figure, robes covering his bleached white bones. He was accompanied by the smell of mold, rot, and dirt. There was the sound of distant, ghostly drums. But he appeared mystified. He checked and rechecked his datapad. "Why," Death muttered, "must the IT department be constantly updating things. I can never figure out where anything is. What was wrong with a simple old stone tablet?" He turned irritably to the man, pointing at him with one emaciated finger. "Do you know what I  am doing here? I don't recall your name on my lists."

GENRE: HORROR

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Static

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.

Chris Clement played with the radio dials on the short wave set. He and Danny Belker liked to listen for the spooky channels on the low band end of the radios' range. They sat deep darkness of the Clement basement; the air filled with the strong scent of mold. Tools, some of them rusty, hung off the cement block walls. The boys enjoyed spending time listening to the stations broadcasting nothing but numbers, with the occasional snippet of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It was the kind of scare you could experience in the dark safely. A good jump-fright to get your blood pumping. Mostly what they heard was intermittent bangs, thumps, shuffling, and what sounded like the faint traces of garbled, unintelligible conversations. It felt like wiretapping the devil. The kind of thing designed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

GENRE: HORROR

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Barracks 13

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.

Our camp is a long nightmare. A place specializing in the production of misery and desolation. Our captors are fold of taking prisoners. After all, the dead cannot be tormented. I live in barracks 9. Of course, there is terrible overcrowding. The building was built to house 30. It contains 91. The cold enters the buildings and arrives in your body like a cat. The smells are unholy; death and rot. I cannot even begin to describe them. And if I could, you wouldn't wish to read them.

GENRE: HORROR

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Unwanted Message

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.

I was looking at the cabinets and the floor with a mixture of anxiety and distress. It didn't seem to be in the plants by the windows. I stopped to take in their fragrant odor… and instantly forgot what I was looking for. Ah, yes, the phone.  My smartphone was laying on the kitchen counter. I was always putting it in one place or another. I could never find it when I needed it. The only reason why I could find it now was because my message ringtone was going off.

GENRE: HORROR

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Inventing Nightmares

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.

The curio shop was dim and crowded. Not with people, but with things. There where shelves of herbs, incense, and spices whose plodding fragrance hung in the air. The back corner was filled with odd, dried animal skins. Near the door was a glass display case filled with what appeared to be the skulls of shrunken heads. A spirit could become trapped in this room for centuries counting beads. The rest of the place looked like it was filled with rejects from a garage sale. The walls echoed the faintest mystical piano music. A melancholy soundtrack of distant dirges and haunting melodies.

GENRE: HORROR

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Where Late the City Crumbles

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?

The ground shook again. The Invaders were dropping more bombs on the surface. They roared like thunder, but it was just for show. The damage to the surface had been done long ago. All they were doing was adding rubble to the surface. The intent was to keep everybody awake. Lt. Francie Alderson was used to it. She leaned back in her chair, snoozing. One had to sleep whenever it was possible. Mostly you slept whenever you were waiting around for something to happen.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Game System

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.

The white walls of the jail seemed as sterile and lonely as they always did. George McDermott chaffed at the cold handcuffs keeping him restrained to the table. They seemed overkill. He'd never been violent… not that he hadn't thought about it.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Returning Home

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.

It's been seven hundred years, but I still remember. the memory is as clear as yesterday. I once walked the plains of the Earth. You wouldn't think it to look at me today, but it's true. There was a time I strolled the idyllic landscape on only two legs. Appendages made of flesh and blood; not steel, polycarbonate compounds, nucleotide gels, and electrons. Back then I was mortal and couldn't even dream of existing for the greater part of an eon. Now, if you were to look upon me with my old eyes, you would call me monstrous. But to me, what I am… what I have become… is a survivor. Isn't this what mankind is all about. The need and the will to survive whatever the cost?

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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The Shed in the Garden

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.

Some say the universe is nothing but a dream of some primordial god, testing out the results of various forms of creation. The other gods all laugh at this notion … in their dreams. Physicists claim we are just the reflections of natural quantum activities perpetrated on a sub-atomic level. A echo of parallel dimensional waves which drift across weak celestial boundaries. Most writers hold to the theory the universe is simply a joke, in extremely bad taste. 

GENRE: ROMANCE

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Outside the Moral Order

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.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Battalion! Battalion!

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.

I could hardly stand the wind was blowing so hard. For my money, there's nothing worse than wind. I'm happy to stand in snow and rain up to my eyeballs, but the wind is another matter. It goes right through you.  You can't sleep with the wind screaming either. You can't keep a blanket on top of you and if you're in a tent, it's even worse. All you hear is the tent material flapping … when it isn't falling over on you

GENRE: FANTASY

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Never Use Cheat Codes on a Ouija Board

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.

I'm hiding now and even though there is some light coming from my computer monitor, I don't believe they can find me. Using this old computer, which I found is up in the attic, should keep me safe for a while. The first sighting was in my garage. There must have been twenty of them, maybe more. Counting them wasn't high on my priority list. They were crawling all over the Toyota. They were bashing the hell out of it with stone-tipped spears and clubs.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Game Spirit

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.

Lou Zbreski's face was a mirror of disinterest as he stared at the laptop screen placed on his desk. "What am I Looking at?"


GENRE: MYSTERY

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Hey, Walt

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.

Walter climbed up the long marble stairs, clutching the finely worked iron hand railing. Walter had been in many such buildings, especially during his tenure as a reporter for the Long Island Star. They always made him feel, uncomfortable.  There was a formality about them, a cold cruelness of lawyerly style exceeding the inhumanity of the horrors of he had witnessed during his service as a medical orderly in the Union Army. Climbing up them not only drained the soul but mocked the spirit.

GENRE: HUMOR

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Strakx

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.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Throgs Neck Ridge

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.

The Banshee jumped into the Narathu system without any advance warning from Galactic Defense Command. GDF Intelligence completely missed this one. Despite the fact Narathu was deep in the disputed area. It didn't take them long for them to destroy the two light cruisers in orbit around the primary colonial planet in the system. It was a routine operation. Laser blasts lit the stars in a symphony of colors. At least one cruiser crashed into the surface. Streaming through the air as a bright red flaming comet, burning up brightly, flashing across the night sky. To be honest, GDF didn't expect the two cruisers to put up as much fight as they did. They were there mostly for show, to keep the colonials happy. GDF was depending on ground forces for defense.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Mechanized Battle

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.

They say the interior of the place looks like a Star Trek bridge. It was supposed to appear exactly this way. It's the way they recruit troops to fight off-world. Half of the new recruits were just space jockeys. People who had spent their whole lives dreaming of flying an x-wing against the evil empire. The others joined because the first alien species we encountered thought of humans as a nice snack. They were out for revenge. I guess I'm a bit of both.

GENRE: SCIENCE-FICTION

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Mirror, Mirror, Take a Fall

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.

The Great Goblin Tower rose four stories in the air. Well, it wasn't a tower in the true sense of the word. It was more like four wooden platforms stacked on top of each other, held up by an uncoordinated stack of stilts. It had the appearance of something likely to fall over is a big wind. But it was the center of Goblin Magic. And it was right smack in the middle of a war for control of the universe. A war that could very well spell the end of goblin society. Unless somebody did something.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Village, Village Burning Bright

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.

Smoke rose over the horizon, in the direction of the human village. Mordoc's brow furrowed. He didn't like it when the human villages started burning before the horde got there. It wasn't supposed to happen. Villages were supposed to burn after they got there. It wasn't right. He waved his trusty axe manslicer and directed two goblins up the hill to observe the situation. They slipped off into the woods silently. If those humans had burned their own town to deprive Skull Clan of their loot, someone was going to have a bad day. Mordoc wasn't the type to tolerate those kinds of things. Cleverness always made him angry.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Comrade Commissar

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.

The largest building in the village was a low, sprawling white-washed structure with the type of squat little doors and not only failed to close properly but required even a short man to duck to get through. It may have once been a warehouse, or perhaps some kind of meeting house or school. Surrounded by a low platform porch without railings, it had the looks of a railway station, with the tracks long since gone. Alexander Nicolovich knew it could never have been a rail station, he'd had to come for what seemed like forever using nothing more than a broken-down cart and a mule he'd requisitioned from a town over 60 leagues away.

GENRE: ROMANCE

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Night of Dreams

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.

Jim shot straight up. He had no idea why he was laying down, or where.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Night of the Village Shadow

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.

James Ozymandias of House Issicar, AKA the White Sword Master leaned back in his chair until it hit the wall. He always desired to have no one behind him. Even in a place as quiet and unthreatening as the Seven Pines Tavern. He was a cautious fellow. Jim closed his eyes and drank in the smell of watered-down alcohol. He opened them to be greeted by the smile of a pretty young waitress. For a moment, he started to panic. But the woman kept her clothes on. His demon, Reaper, must be still asleep. For the moment, at least, he shared his skull with only his thoughts. The White Sword Master waved her away. With Reaper asleep, it was too early to start drinking to control the monster.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Hate Filled Her Sails

Demonmaster Jim: Hate Filled Her Sails

This is the third installment of the Demonmaster Jim series. It's the shortest of the sections so far, mostly because it was inspired by a song… a pirate song. Although part of it certainly harkens back to the famous quote Davy Crockett gave to the people of Tennessee after losing is bid for congressional reelection. "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas."

The sky was dark and cloudy, the moon made brief appearances between the thick clouds. The wind filled the ship's sails driving her quickly across the choppy waters. James Ozymandias of House Issicar had decided it would be better for him to work on shores where people didn't know his name. So, he boarded a ship headed for the Far Lands. The ship rocked. Jim could hear the vibration of the rigging and the snap of the sails over his head.

GENRE: FANTASY

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Edited = Edited works Self Edited = Self-edited