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

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

  Short Stories  
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  
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

 


Edited = Edited works Self Edited = Self-edited