Wednesday, 5 October 2011


     A very long time ago, there was a small village near Lublin, in Poland, which became renowned throughout that part of Europe for the beauty of its women. Not a daughter was born to any family in the village whose every feature was not pleasing to the eye, and as each year passed, these daughters grew into young women so refined and comely that one could not look upon them without sighing, and many men would break down and cry at the sight of such perfection.
     It was a wonder to everyone that such exquisite beauty should exist in our world. Naturally, parents came from far and wide to arrange marriages for their sons to such beautiful young women.
     But then, one day, tragedy struck.
     It happened to one household, but soon began to spread throughout the village. That day began as any other. A mother arose just before dawn, quickly arranging her scarf over her hair as she climbed over her sleeping husband.  She was careful not to waken him before his morning prayers and tiptoed to the cupboard bedroom where her two daughters and young son slept. She woke her eldest daughter and sent her to the well to bring fresh water for breakfast.
     As in every other household in the village, it was the custom that each morning the eldest daughter would bring fresh water from the well while the mother laid the fire and prepared the family breakfast.  All seemed normal that morning, but as the mother began to shape the balls of potato dough into pancakes, she began to wonder, where was Yenka with the water?
     And so it was that Yenka, her beautiful eldest daughter, never returned from the well that day. The other girls from the village found the empty bucket laying beside the well, but there was no sign of Yenka.
     At first, some of the villagers thought she might have run away, eloped with one of the Gentile boys who sometimes visited the village to admire the women there, but a week later, another daughter from a different household disappeared at the same well.  After that, no daughter was allowed to visit the well by themselves - or to go anywhere without a chaperone.
     But despite these precautions, the following week, another beloved daughter disappeared, this time from her own bed, which she shared with her two little brothers. No one saw or heard anything. She simply vanished and that was that.
      Now the village was in an uproar.
     The wisest man in the village was the Rabbi, of course, himself the father of three gorgeous daughters. He called together a meeting of the entire village, men, women and children.  He began by listening to the parents of the missing girls. Their stories were heartbreaking and many of the villagers cried upon hearing them.  Then he allowed any villagers who wished to say anything or offer any suggestions to speak. Most only wanted to express their fears for their own daughters, but several suggested some useful ways to better protect their families.
      After listening carefully, the Rabbi told the villagers what he thought.
"My friends. These tragedies can have only three causes. One, that our daughters are unhappy here and for some reason have decided to run away. leaving without a note or a word to anyone. Two, some person or persons, either out of envy or wickedness, have stolen into our village and kidnapped our daughters from under our noses, or three, evil sorcery is at work, and our daughters are being stolen away by demons, whether out of pure evil or mischief or for a purpose we cannot know or fully understand.
     As for the first reason, let me tell you now, that I do not think our daughters are running away or leaving of their own free will.  We know that our daughters are good girls who love their families and would not leave them without a word of goodbye.
     As for the second reason, it is possible, because mankind has such a great capacity for wickedness, that some person has been clever enough to steal our daughters our from under our noses, so this must be considered and our daughters better protected. But for the third reason, I believe it is most likely that someone or something dedicated to evil is responsible. Our girls have vanished as if by sorcery, and sorcery is the most likely reason behind these tragedies." The villagers gasped at this proclamation, but the Rabbi continued.  
     "Because of the seriousness of our misfortune, I must consult with the High Council in Lublin. I will leave in the morning and I will be gone for 3 days, but when I return, I will be able to tell you the exact cause and the steps we must take to stop this misfortune from recurring and to bring our daughters back from wherever they have been taken."
     Then the Rabbi added, "In the meantime, we will take the suggestion offered by Jacob Weisman, and divide your households into guardian teams, so that your daughters can be watched over and be guarded both day and night." 
     The villagers were in awe of the High Council of Lublin and the Rabbi's words reassured them that help was on its way.  They gathered round Jacob, who regularly led the minyon and who could be relied upon for neighbourly advice, and they began to form themselves into teams to watch over each family throughout the next four nights, until the Rabbi's return.  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

THE MIRROR - The Full Moon Rising

     I am in here. I am inside the glass now, inside the mirror, the one above the fireplace. There is nothing that could have prepared me for this. Nothing that anyone could have told me. No warning would have been enough. And no warning was enough. But, the terror that Sophia described is nothing compared to the reality.
     This is the very essence of unsettling. Disembodied, I am in here. I am nothing but myself, just my self, literally, the kernel of what I am. I don't know if I am my soul or I am my mind, all I can say is, that I am. Not that I can actually say anything, for I have no mouth. That was a joke.  I think therefore I am. Period.
     I am not alone. The other creatures are in here also. I think there may be thousands of them. They make quite an uproar in a language and range of sound I can not understand. Yet it is not unpleasant and somehow vaguely familiar. I know! They sound like wind chimes, that's what they remind me of, wind chimes.
     I seem to be the only human in here, could that be possible? I feel terribly alone and helpless. But at least I have sight.  I have no eyes, but somehow I am able to see everything in front of the mirror. Thank goodness I chose the living room and not the bathroom! Another joke.  I watch my family move in and out of the room. They haven't even noticed that I am not among them.  They think that the body the creature inhabits is actually mine. How can that be?
     Sophia was right. They are very clever. It must have been watching me for years, memorising my speech, learning our language and our habits, and biding its time.
     "The spirits in the glass will steal your body from you in the wink of an eye." She had told me, countless times.  "They will use your body as their own and will imprison your soul in the glass in their place. It only takes an instant, and poof! You are lost forever."
     She told me about the full moon, that the full moon releases the creature's powers. How I should never look at my reflection on a full moon night. She had even covered all the mirrors and all our windows on those nights as a precaution. I half believed her, which only made me more curious, too curious, too reckless, and now I am locked in here forever. That is, unless I stoop as low as they, and entice someone else to look at their reflection on a night when the full moon is rising. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011


The next time Max opened his eyes, he was looking straight up into the eyes of a hypno-technician. He recognised it at once, because the eyes locked onto his in an instant, and, never blinking, they began to implore him silently with their gorgeously soothing depths of limitless love.  But he wan't lulled and he wan't fooled. He was prepared for this and almost anything else they wanted to throw at him.

Tom Elliot watched through the one way window and shook his head grimly. A few minutes later, when the technician reported its lack of success, Tom sent it away and made the call to headquarters.

"Jack," he said, connecting at once through his direct line, "I hate to say this, but we blew it. We should have taken the wife, too. It's only been 8 hours, but I can see that there isn't a chance in hell that we can get Max to willingly join the Company. He's going to hold on to his plans and there is no way we are going to get them out of him."

"No, don't you think we tried that already?  We should have known he'd already be vaccinated against our truth drugs. And, no, he's way ahead of us there, too.  He's got some software block installed in him so our hypno-technicians can't get anywhere with him either. You have to believe me. We're lost unless the Director relents and lets us use torture." Tom paced the cubicle.

"That is, unless it's not too late to pick up the wife.  Let's hope it's not too late and she's still at home. Then I can get Dr Lerner to pick her up. I'll have him tell her that Max is staying with him and wants her to join him. I'll think of something - and I'll put together a back up plan, too. We're going to need her for leverage, I realise that now.  Yes. it was a mistake. Right. I'm on it now." And he hung up and stopped pacing to watch Max, who was still lying prone on the bed in the next room. Max was struggling with his straps now and looking pretty pissed off.

Might as well send one of the aides in there to let him loose, Tom thought. Get him to relax a bit. Wait for him to put his guard down. Then he checked the contact list on his cell for Dr Lerner's name. Yes, there it was.  Good. Max trusted him, so there was no reason why his wife should be suspicious. He rang the number. "Lerner? Yes it's me. Look, we have a bit of a problem with Max. No, he's fine. None the worse for wear, believe me.  Just misses his wife. Yes, I'll admit we made a mistake. We should have brought the two of them in together.  No, that's just the problem.  He won't give it up and he is insisting that we bring him his wife. We think we can get him to be more forthcoming if he is certain his wife is all right."

"I need you to drive over to their house and pick her up," he continued. "No, I have no idea if she's still at home or if she's noticed that Max is missing. I'm hoping that she thinks he's with you at the University." Tom watched Max through the glass again. He'd better get an aide in there quickly before he hurt himself. Then he turned away and sat down in the plastic chair near the small table by the door.

"Listen carefully, Lerner.  This is what I need you to do. First, I want you to telephone her. Tell her that Max came to your house early this morning. Tell her that he thought his data was being compromised, so he brought his PC with him and came to your home. Tell her he is with you and that he's safe, but that he is worried about her and wants you to bring her to him."

"No, just make something up if she questions you further, or wavers.  But tell her you are on your way and for god's sake, get over there as fast as you can.  Yes, and bring her here."

He rang off and standing up, pressed the  buzzer by the door to call an aide. A young man, dark skinned and fine boned, neatly dressed in white lab coat and carrying a small chrome tray with various glass tubes in it, answered the bell. "Dil," Tom addressed him, reading the name tag over his pocket, I need you to sedate our guest again.  You better do it while he's still restrained."

"Yes, sir," Dil answered, waiting expectantly for further instructions.

"Then, when he's out, I want you to take off the straps and remove them from the room, so that when our guest wakes up he can move around freely in our guest room and use the facilities. Understood?"

"Perfectly," Dill answered and, turning on his heel, walked back out into the hall.

Tom let the door shut behind the aide before sitting back down in the plastic chair and, with his elbows on the table, cradled his head in his hands and began to work out his backup plan.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Anonymous said...

I could hardly wait for my wife, Kelly, to get home. I tried laying on the sofa for a while, mindlessly flicking through the mindless choices on the TV, but I couldn't sit still for long. I listened for the sound of the bouncing ball in the hall or the whimper from the dog in the kitchen, ready to jump up and investigate at the slightest noise. I was restless, keyed up, and I wanted to tell somebody about what was happening in our flat.

Thankfully, Kelly had also experienced the children playing ball in the hall. She had even seen the little girl playing all by herself. Kelly said she had seen her do a little dance in the hall one afternoon, while I was at the grocery store, and, Kelly said, she was wearing a blue dress this time.

Of course we've told our friends about the sightings and we'd all laughed about it, knowing that no one really believed it or even thought we believed it. But the dog was different, special in its own way, because it could see me - and interact with me and seemed to be with me in my own time and place and I was just going to go mad thinking about it.

Because, no matter how weird all this was, and Kelly and I had discussed it thoroughly when we first noticed the children, we were certain that the flat was not haunted.

We were convinced that these things we saw were not ghosts. We honestly felt that the children and the carriage and horses were really there, just in their own time, and for some reason, we were lookiing though a window into their time and esperiencing what we could only describe as a time hic cup or something.

We knew we needed to speak to some expert - a scientist who actually studied phenomena like this, but in our laymans' opinion, we were somehow crossing over into the time frame of these children. Children who had lived in our flat at the turn of the century - when the house was new. We seemed to be witnessing some sort of time loop that played every now and then like a stuck record.

But the dog. That couldn't explain the dog. But what could explain it?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


It must have been several months after the day I first saw the children that I began to see the dog.  It was getting towards evening and I was in the dining room at the back of the flat.  I can't really remember what I was doing in there. Putting away the wine glasses? Looking for a platter? All I remember, from that day, was how startled I was when I heard a whimpering sound coming from the kitchen.

These old San Francisco houses have wonderfully spacious kitchens at the back of their homes with views over the gardens and most of them still had a swinging door opening into the dining room. 

We had kept our kitchen in a vaguely period style, spanning several decades and we'd installed our beloved 50's era O'Keeffe & Merritt gas range - a huge white enamelled affair that fit the kitchen perfectly.  But when I opened the kitchen door, just leaning on it slightly to peek my head around, I could see right away that the stove was gone. 

In its place was an elaborate iron contraption, from a much earlier decade, sitting up on ornate metal legs, and under these legs was a dog's basket bed, and inside the basket, was a real dog.

It was one of those absurdly cute, little white dogs, with big black eyes and pointed tufted ears, and it stopped its whimpering as soon as the door creaked open, and, to my astonishment, immediately turned its head to stare at me.

It can see me! I thought with surprise. And then, before I knew what was happening, the  creature jumped out of it's basket and trotted straight up to me, its short white tail wagging furiously. I crouched down and offered it my hand, the way you would to any friendly,  small dog, and I felt the little creature's cold black nose nuzzle against my hand. 
All I could do was hold my breath and marvel that such a thing was really happening, as I ran my hands through the little dog's curly white fur, surprisingly silky, and felt the small muscles and sinews of its neck.  It was a real dog, all right. 

I caught myself talking out loud to it. "Well, hello there. Who are you?" I asked, as it rolled on its back and offered up its little pink and white belly.  Its tongue lolled out of the side of its mouth and it wriggled happily under my hands and I wished I could call my wife over to have a look, but she wouldn't be home from work for another hour. 

I remained crouched there for sometime, uncomfortable, but afraid to get up, lest the little dog disappeared. I ran my fingers through its tangle of white curls around its collar as it sat up.
That's it, I thought, There might be a clue in the dog's collar! 

I twisted the collar around carefully, and found the narrow silver plate, like an ornament on the side of the collar, and sure enough, it was engraved. I leaned my head closer to read it, "Bobby" was all it said. "OK, Bobby, I said, disappointed that the owner's name wasn't on it, but the little dog only cocked his head to one side and looked at me expectantly, as if I was about to feed it.

My knees were beginning to hurt and the door felt tiresome and uncomfortable.  I was still crouched half in and half out of the kitchen, with the dining room door resting against my shoulder.  Before I could stop myself, I stood up, letting go of Bobby's collar just for an instant, pushing the door open fully with my other hand. And that was all it took. 

As soon as I let go of his collar, he was gone.  My own familiar dog-less kitchen slid back into place, like an architects template. The big white O'keeffe & Merritt range stood in its usual spot with no dog basket in sight.  I stood alone in the doorway, feeling suddenly bereft and lonely and at the same time cross with myself for letting go of Bobby's collar.  Above all, I felt terribly exhilarated and filled with astonishment, my hands still warm from the little dog's fur.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Anonymous said...

Sometimes, in the late evening, usually when twilight was just beginning to cast its eerie veil over the day, I would hear the clatter of hooves outside, a sharp sound like flint against rock, and I would look out the upstairs window, down to the street below.

At first, I was surprised to see the roof of the ornate black carriage, the coachman with his top-hat and the spirited horses straining against the reins, their delicate heads decorated with black plumes.

I added...

The Coachman never looked up, and if the horses sensed my presence, they never showed it, but continued to prance in place, anxious to be off on their errand. These times, I did not need to turn away, for as I gazed down at the carriage and the cobbled street below, with the tall gas-lit street lamps glowing feebly in the twilight, it would be as if someone had suddenly turned a page, or a theatre scrim had been dropped over the scene, for in less than a blink of an eye, the carriage would disappear, and the street would be replaced by the familiar asphalt road with cars parked bumper to bumper along its sides, the electric street lamps just beginning to shine.

Friday, 9 September 2011


I have found some other victims (writers), willing to contribute to a stream of tales that I am beginning tonight.

Please do not be shy - anyone can contribute,  just add your tale or paragraph or mere sentence to the comment box and I will add it as the lead to the next day's blog (unless you do not want that).

The children are playing in the hallway again. I can hear the gentle thump, thump, thump of the ball (red) bouncing down the hall between them. The hall is glorious and long, as halls  always are in these stately old houses, with embossed wainscoting covering the bottom third of the walls, and ancient delicately decorated wallpaper running up to the picture rail, with the ceiling a full two feet above that. 

If I step out into the hallway now, I will see the children, a boy dressed in short pants of the turn of the last century, the girl in a fluffy white dress and apron.  A large bow ties her apron at the back. They will not notice me and will be laughing gaily at each other.

When I turn to look at the little girl, the little boy will disappear, and when I try to see where he has gone, the little girl will disappear also.  It might be months before I see them there again. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

POWER SOURCE - Chapter 4 - Wake Up!

Max was gently awakened by vague muffled sounds, almost like seagulls calling from faraway over the ocean. He hadn't opened his eyes yet and he just lay where he was in a dreamy state. He felt sleepy still and thought perhaps he should allow himself to fall back to sleep. He decided to turn over and that was when he realised that something wasn't quite right. The sheets must be twisted around him, he thought, because he seemed to be caught in them and actually, he could not move at all. "Roxie!" he called out, and his voice echoed back to him, all muffled and weird, and he opened his eyes for the first time.

He was laying flat on his back in a bedroom, but not his bedroom. The light was dim, but he could see the low ceiling and inset LED lights and recognised the design of one of those new Plastiment Homes. The rounded corners of the room gave it away. And it wasn't a sheet that was wrapped tightly around him, although he was covered by a sheet and quilt, he was strapped with his arms at his side to an otherwise relatively comfortable bed.

He still felt groggy and his eyes were crusty and he wanted to reach up and rub them, but he couldn't and that was when he started yelling. "Hey! Is anybody there? Hey!" he yelled louder, with his voice reverberating in his head, causing an uncomfortable pain to begin to throb in his forehead. "Hey, what's going on? Will somebody come in here please?"

He wasn't so groggy that he hadn't already conjectured what was happening to him. He had always known, ever since his father had revealed what he knew just before he died, that he would also be watched and if he wasn't careful, he would be in danger of being too useful an asset to be allowed to live his own life and make his own choices.  There were lots of  greedy servants of unscrupulous and obscenely wealthy organisations who would not hesitate to take what they wanted if they couldn't buy it - and he had made it clear that he wasn't selling.

No one came into the room when he called and he wondered if anyone was in the house at all. But he had heard voices, he was almost certain he had heard voices. He could turn his head and he did so, surveying the room, looking for a window or one of those one way glass things that looked like a mirror.

It was a nicely decorated room, if you liked the modern minimalist style.  It looked like it could be someone's real bedroom, but somehow he doubted it. It was just a clever duplicate, made to resemble a comfortable home and to put who ever they usually kept in here at ease. They were probably watching him through one of their one way mirrors right now.  He suddenly remembered Roxie, and felt a pang of fear. He wondered if she had been taken, too. He wondered if she was safe. And he began to fret and worry and he had to bite his lip to keep himself from crying.

Monday, 5 September 2011

THE ANGEL AND THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 3 - What We Found

The Angel and The Hourglass
What We Found

Dan was on his knees admiring the now obvious disparity between the inside and the outside of the trunk.  He took out his knife, ready to attack the chest wherever the opportunity presented itself, but Sam was bent over the inside, running his hands systematically along the inside edges of the trunk and I knew he was looking for a catch. Secret compartments like this one always had some kind of mechanism to open them, even I knew that. Well, I especially knew that, from reading so many mystery books...

"I can't feel anything in here." Sam said after a while, "Missy, you've got little fingers, see if you can feel anything."


"Anything sticking out anywhere it doesn't belong, anything that might open this thing." Missy practically fell headfirst into the trunk, trying to reach the opposite side. It was a big old thing and her little arms barely reached to the false bottom. I slid my hands in too and pretty soon there were 3 sets of arms wiggling about in there, but no sign of how the thing opened.

"Let me just pry it up!" Dan pleaded, standing back and watching us impatiently.

"Wait!", I said, bringing my amazing powers of deduction into play, the ones I had gleaned from my extensive library of mystery and fantasy books. "I bet we're looking in the wrong place. I bet the catch is in the lid!" and we all reached out to examine the lid, which none of us had noticed before, because the lid had fallen behind the chest when Sam had opened it. Sam lifted it now and held it up for us. The lid was arched on the outside, and had several cloth covered compartments in it that looked promising.  Dan and I searched the compartments,which had sweet little cloth doors that snapped open when we pulled their little cloth flaps.

Sadly, they were all empty and there was nothing in any of them that could be considered a lock or catch, until of course, the very last compartment, down at the bottom of the lid, adjoining one of the back hinges. When this one snapped open, we were surprised by a little cloth doll that fell right out and dropped with a soft plop onto the false bottom.  I immediately scooped it up to examine it, while Dan examined the compartment.

"I've got it!" he shouted and with a soft click the false bottom lifted up as if it were attached to a spring. When Sam pulled this all the way open, it revealed something large wrapped in a white cloth cover.  "It's heavy," Sam said, lifting it out. "Bring me that table over there."

And Dan darted over to a small round table abandoned alongside a pile of "National Geographic" magazines. It was light and he carried it over and plunked it down next to the trunk. As Sam laid the thing gently on top, I could see that the white cloth covering was actually some kind of shawl. It was satiny looking and it had a fringe.

I held onto the doll, waiting to examine it more closely later, and we all bent over to watch as Sam gently unwrapped the shawl. "Look at that!" exclaimed Dan, and we all sucked in our breath, for it truly looked like a small treasure chest. It was a wooden box, and I could not tell what it was made from, but it was gorgeously decorated with colourful symbols and what looked like lettering on it.

"Look, there's writing on it!" exclaimed Missy, but Sam and I already recognised the lettering.

"It's Hebrew!" Sam announced.

"Wow, this thing must be really old. Let's open it!" cried Dan.

"Not so fast," Cautioned Sam. "I think I can read this inscription."

My brother Sam is not only brilliant, but he had been Bar Mitzvohed last year - and he had actually bothered to learn Hebrew, instead of just memorising the text he had to read in the ceremony. "What does it say?" I asked, staring down at the lovely gold lettering.

"I think it says "Do Not Open This Under Pain of Bringing Eternal Misery upon Yourself", either that or "Open this and Eternal Beings will Destroy you"! Either way, I don't think we should open it just yet."

Sam was often very wise and we all stood back a little and stared down at the box with a new respect.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 2 - The Attic

The Angel and The Hourglass
Chapter 2.
The Old Attic

Dan was the first one up the tree.  He was usually the first one anywhere we went. He walked faster, for one thing, and he ran faster, swam faster, and thought faster than everyone else, too. He was also better prepared.  He never went anywhere without his trusty Swiss Army Knife, and not one of those massive clunky bits of kit, either, but a streamlined pocket-knife, with only the most useful parts: a flat headed screwdriver, a bottle opener, a sturdy metal pick, and a good sharp knife.

None of us imagined that we would need anything more than Dan and his trusty pocket knife to deal with whatever we were about to uncover in the attic.

Everything was going well, it was still early afternoon and there was plenty of sunshine left and climbing the tree turned out to be as easy as it looked, even for me.  That little attic window proved to be no match for Dan, either. So, while we all clung to the branch behind him, he worked the screwdriver under the edge of the window, just where the two sides met at the latch, and soon, with a resounding crack, it split open.  A second later, Dan launched himself off from the branch and somehow managed to squeeze through the opening, and jump down to the attic floor.

Before any of us could even gasp appreciatively, he turned around and reached out his hand for Missy, who was right behind him. Missy, short for Melissa, is just that, short.  She's Dan's little sister and my best friend, but she's also extremely nimble and a fast climber.  But now, faced with the empty space between the end of the limb we were on and the attic window, even she hesitated to lose her hold on the branch.

"It's all right. Don't be afraid, I've got you." Dan assured her, and before she could protest, he had grabbed her hand and pulled her right in beside him.  Crap, now it was my turn.  I was holding onto that branch for dear life, inching my way slowly toward the attic window. I'd felt safe enough with Missy just ahead of me and my brother, Sam right behind, but now, with no one in front, the branch suddenly seemed awfully spindly, and the ground... Oh no, don't look at the ground, I warned myself. I suddenly began to feel dizzy and I'd wished I'd never climbed up the stupid tree in the first place.

But there was Dan, leaning his head out the window, smiling his toothy smile, and reaching out to me until his hand was almost close enough for me to grab onto it. In fact, I did just that, thinking to steady myself for a moment.  And before I realised what was happening, Dan was pulling me right through the attic window, too.

"Ouch!" I complained, standing up too soon and bumping my head on the window frame. No one paid any attention to me, though, for both Missy and Dan were watching Sam now, who was bringing up the rear, as usual.

My older brother Sam was as slow and methodical as Dan was quick and reckless. He was the same age as Dan, 14, but nearly twice his size in height and girth, but he wasn't stupid. He was merely extraordinarily cautious as well as exceedingly gifted, but he had a mind that needed to be allowed to follow its own logical pathways.  This meant that sometimes it took him a few seconds longer then people were used to before he would speak. A lot of kids thought he was slow, but that was because they couldn't wait long enough to hear what he had to say.

He had stayed on the ground and waited for me to start the climb, because he knew I would be too scared to climb up that high without knowing he was there to catch me if I lost my grip. He was that kind of brother.  But now, there he was, he had reached the end of the branch and he looked up at the window doubtfully, "Do you really think I can fit through?"

"You're gonna have to," answered Dan optimistically.

"Well, here goes then." and Sam reached up and grabbed the inside of the window frame with both hands and began force himself through, wriggling in kind of a hilarious way, so that I had to keep myself from giggling.  But then, just when it looked like he had made it, he got stuck!  His belt buckle was caught on the ledge.

"Whoops", he groaned, but Dan had already grabbed him by the back of his belt and somehow, with his wiry strength, managed to heave Sam right through the window, kind of like a big fish, so that Sam dropped with a thud, both hands on the attic floor to cushion his landing. One second later he was up and laughing and there we all were, finally inside the old house.

We turned around and began to examine our surroundings.  The sun's afternoon rays shone weakly through the swirling dust motes from two tiny windows. The light they cast was much too dim for us to see very far into the depths of the attic.  Gradually, however, our eyes grew accustomed to the dim light and we began to make out the eerie shapes around us.

"Golly," cried Missy, "It's just like a movie. Look!" she added excitedly, "There's the rocking horse!"

It was true, as the objects began to take shape around us, we could see the old rocking horse, motionless and spooky, just like in a film trailer. Missy ran over to it, jumping over stacks of old magazines, and began to pet it.

"I think its mane and tail are real hair!" She exclaimed, running her hand down its wooden spine and picking up the long tail. "Wow! it's beautiful!" But the boys weren't interested and were already examining a pile of old sleds on the other side of the attic.

"Just like "Rosebud" in that Orsen Wells movie, said Sam, knowingly. "I didn't know that summer crowd ever stayed here in the winter..."

But I had already begun opening a cardboard box nearby.  It was filled to the top with lovely Christmas Ornaments. "Well, I guess they must have spent a few Christmases here, look at this!" and I lifted out a delicate glass angel, that sparkled in the dustmotes dancing in the last rays of light still shining from the small windows.

Missy picked her way towards me across some broken lamps and once useful objects strewn about the floor, and then, I don't know why, we all turned around, almost as one, and began to scan the attic space again.  And again, almost as one, our gaze landed on the most attractive object anyone could imagine - a big old steamer trunk, sitting by itself underneath the window on the opposite side of the attic.

We all had the same thought. A trunk could be filled with all sorts of treasure. In fact, it could be a treasure chest!  Dan reached it first, naturally, and tried the latch. "It's locked!" he called gleefully over his shoulder, but Sam was right behind him, and gripping the lid from both sides, tried to force it open.

No joy there. "Oh, we've got to get it open!" cried Missy, as Sam and Dan doubled their efforts.

"Wait! Don't break it!" I cautioned. "Can't you pick the lock, Dan? With that thingy in your knife? You could use it like a lock pick."

"Oh, yeah" agreed Dan, and he took the knife out of his pocket and opened the pick part of it and inserted into the old lock. "I don't exactly know what I'm doing, though."

He knelt down in front of the lock and I knelt down beside him, "Just kind of dig around with it," I instructed, "go slowly, try to feel for something.  See if you can connect with a gear or another hole or whatever." I'd seen enough detective shows on TV to think that picking a lock was easy.  It always looked easy, anyway.

"I've got something, Aimee!" Dan whispered,  "I think I've got it!" and with a grumble and a creak, the catch gave way and as Dan and I stood up, Sam lifted the heavy lid.

"Oh", was all Missy could say. And 4 disappointed kids gazed down at the contents of the trunk.  It seemed to be filled entirely with neatly folded fabric, just old linen table clothes, embroidered aprons and monogramed napkins.  Dan shook his head and turned away impatiently and started rummaging through some boxes nearby, but Sam and I began to search through the trunk, feeling our way carefully and lifting bits out to show them to Missy, who laid them neatly on a hatbox beside it.

We tried to admire the embroidery and the lace we found inside, but, as beautiful as they were, they were'nt much of a treasure.

"Why would they lock this crap away?" wondered Sam aloud, methodically sorting through the trunk.  It was only when he had finally lifted out the last of the lace doilies and handed them to Missy and me, and we had folded them neatly on top of the other linens, that he realised something wasn't quite right. "Wait a minute! Look at this!" He called out to Dan, who came back to take a look and we all grouped around Sam and stared down into the now empty trunk.

"What are we looking at?" asked Missy, finally.

"The bottom of the trunk! Look, the inside of the trunk is at least 8 inches above the bottom of the trunk on the outside!  It has to have a false bottom!" He was right, we realised, excitedly.  But, oh, why did he have to be so darn clever! If only he hadn't noticed, and we had just piled all the linens back in the trunk!

But then, we wouldn't have much of a story, would we?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

THE HOURGLASS (The Children's Hourglass) - Chapter 1, Version 2

The Angel and The Hourglass
Chapter 1. Version 2
The Old House

Along the shoreline highways and byways that follow the Long Island Sound all the way out to Rhode Island, you'll see numerous attractive old towns. The same sort of towns you've seen in those sentimental family movies they show on Sunday afternoons.  Towns with elm lined main streets and huge wooden homes in the gothic-colonial style, with gabled roofs and dormer windows, wide wooden porches and screen doors.

Nowadays, these old towns subsist mainly on software start-up companies or, if they're lucky, they'll have a Navy or Coast Guard base. But once upon a time these towns were flourishing resorts for the rich of New York City, who travelled down in their yachts every year to splash their wealth around in the country clubs and golf courses of this prosaic region of New England.

Somehow, perhaps it was during the Second World War, these New England Resort towns fell out of fashion.  The owners of these grand gothic-colonial summer homes, with their gabled roofs and dormer windows, simply never returned. One autumn day, when their owners had departed for the city, their caretakers or gardeners carefully covered all the furniture with sheets, closed and locked all the shutters and boarded up whatever was loose, before they too headed back to wherever it was they came from.  And it just so happened that after that autumn, none of them ever returned.

Town life just went on around these houses, almost as if they didn't exist, or existed with no more importance than the big trees that stood out prominently in the landscape of the town. The best real estate in these towns is still occupied by those once grand, abandoned dwellings.  Still, amazingly, these houses were hardly ever broken into, as if they still deserved the respect their owners once received. And for years they just stood there, patiently waiting, facing the sea, snugly shuttered, and slowly decaying.

Naturally, for curious children or daring teenagers, the empty houses were an irresistible attraction, but it was many years before anyone actually broke the taboo surrounding the houses and dared to sneak up the hill to play among them.  And when they did, it didn't take them long to discover the massive old maple tree growing right at the back of the grandest house of them all.  A maple tree with thick sturdy limbs spread evenly up its strong trunk, limbs that reached up and over the roof top gables.  With a tree like that, it was a snap to climb right up to where they could pry open the tiny attic dormer window that no one had bothered to board up.

And that's when their troubles really began.


HEY! Today is a new day and I am pretty disappointed in everyone who has glanced at this blog.  This was meant to be a joint effort, that means me, of course, and YOU.

NEW PLAN: So, I have a new plan. I really want some participation and I am willing to try almost anything, so I am going to try this:

STARTING A NEW STORY ARC: Yup, I am starting a new plot.  This time I am only allowed to write a few short paragraphs to start it out and no outline at all.

PLAN:  You add your ideas by writing them in the Comment Section under the Blog - and I publish it on the Blog! Right Here! Got it?

This means you write something, anything, but something in the style of this story idea and become a Contributor!!!

1. You are allowed to simply comment or criticise if that is all you want to do.
2. I publish your comments without editing them!
3. If you want to edit them yourself, simply write another comment!
4. I can comment on what you write!
5. Not hard and fast, but try to stay within 3 or 4 short paragraphs.

Now here goes:

THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 1 - The Old Houses

The Angel and The Hourglass
Chapter 1.                                          
The Old House

One really great thing about living in a once grand old seaside town is that we have all these fabulous old houses sitting up on the hill overlooking the ocean, all boarded up, but left just as they were 50 years ago, waiting for their rich old owners to return.

It seems crazy, but when everyone started going to the newer more fashionable towns, those rich people just left their old houses as they were and simply bought new houses in the new towns.

You'd think there would be squatters or something, or they'd be broken into all the time, but amazingly, they just stand there, waiting, facing the sea, snugly shuttered, but slowly decaying.

Naturally, us kids began to sneak up the hill to play around those houses.  They were pretty irresistible.  The biggest house of all had one of those huge old maple trees, the kind with thick sturdy limbs evenly spaced up the  trunk, growing right at the back of it, so it was easy to climb up it and pry open the tiny attic dormer window that no one had thought to board up.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Fiction Victim: Power Source - Chapter 3 - Version 2 - The Incident

K9 was trotting around the desk, sniffing the air, his ears pricked up and turning on their gyros, trying to collate the information and figure out what went wrong. He cocked his head to one side and turned his glittering eyes on me. "Phone Max." was all he said.

His eyes darkened for less than a second, then " 415 328 7999" 

I rang the number and someone at the reception picked up, "SF University Science Lab, Emma speaking."

After several long minutes, during which I paced the room about a thousand times with K9 watching me curiously, the voice came back: “I'm sorry Mr Green is not in right now.”

Monday, 29 August 2011

Fiction Victim: Power Source - Chapter 3

Power Source - Chapter 3

Story Idea: Power Source - Scenario

Here is the Outline:  A power company teams up with an evil venture capital company to mine what appears to be an unlimited power source from another dimension. 

This other dimension was discovered by the cosmophysicists of the mid 21st Century, but was tippy top clearance - level 11, and only  a few knew about it.  Max was one of them - and he is the one who is about to sell his mining plan to another power company.  

Oh, yeah, we have run out of power sources by now after nearly destroying the planet with our carbon induced Global Warming, but at least we have reduced the population a bit, along with the animal population.  Max is kidnapped by the forces of evil... who want the monopoly on the new power source.

Powers of evil forget that they would need Roxie, Max's wife, to use as a blackmail tool, to force him to do what they want, but she is wisely on the run, so they manufacture videos of her and pretend she is being held captive.

Roxie herself, has gone into hiding with the dogbot, K9-5.

The evil ones plan to set up a their power station in New Mexico, where else?  Promise of a new economy.  No one is to know where the power is coming from, but the Government has already approved it and keeping it under "Top Secret". All Hush Hush

Problem – MAX gets the power coming in – All is fantastic for the forces of evil - but something in this dimension has to be traded for it – substituted – like mass for mass.  Turns out this other dimension begins to extract their missing energy from the Sun.

Temperature and weather changes begin to occur.

And meanwhile Max's wife, Roxie and their dogbot, K9-5 are on the run planning a rescue mission for Max.

Power Source - Chapter 2. Extraction

We got him. It was easy.  A perfectly discreet extraction. He made it easy for us, living in that ridiculous house. We'd been watching him for the past year. Ever since he applied for the grant. We followed him on his move down to San Francisco and it was easy to set up surveillance in that house of his.

All the new builds are plastiment - and they usually come with an option for debugging. We would have gotten in just the same, only not quite so easy. But this was, as they say, a piece of cake.  We could have picked him up on the road, but we needed those last pieces of intel he kept locked away at home. So we waited until he was ready.

Then they always foolishly turn off their dogbot at night. We had overheard them debating this issue.  He wanted to save the batteries and she didn't like being woken up by the dog barking every time a pinecone fell on the roof. So smart and yet so stupid.

He works late often, had to, he was close to finishing his designs, but he always came home to check his data.  He kept his intel at home; he didn't want anyone in the University knowing what he knew, so he kept it in a secure PC in the house.

His wife is usually asleep when he comes home late, but she always wakes up and they chat a bit and watch some streams before going to bed. Then he gets up before she does, takes a look through his files, checks that its all there, and heads back to campus with the sunrise. We picked him up last night when he had just sat down at his work station.  All we had to do was drop by with our Steletto.

We had already reprogrammed his window locks, so getting in was not a problem, and used our "Silence is Golden" femmebot to make the extraction.  Not even the dogbot detected her.  A tranquilliser dart and sturdy net and out the window and into the Steletto - and now we have him all to ourselves.  Max and his data and designs, and no one is the wiser.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Power Source - Chapter 1. On Mute

When I woke up this morning, he was gone.  That's not so unusual, so I wasn't worried yet.  I turned on the dogbot and the coffee machine and walked down to the beach with K9-5.  All our dogbots have been named K9. It's not very original, but we still have a soft part in our hearts for that old Dr Who relic of the 20th century.

Actually, for scientists, we keep a lot of old relics around. That's one thing we've always had in common. The love of antiquities, old music, old books, old robots.
We lived in an old house, too, made of wood, still standing after the great earthquake and tsunami of '34. It's in Stinson Beach, just outside of what was left of San Francisco.

The house was built on a hill on solid bedrock overlooking the bay and the earthquake only shook it up a little bit and the flood waters just ran right through it, so in '59, when Max and I relocated to the University of San Francisco, it was selling cheap. No one wanted an old fashioned  wooden house anymore, just Max and me.

It was low tide and the beach was deserted as usual.  I threw some pieces of drift wood for K9 like I always do. Its hilarious to watch him navigate through the sand dunes. Sand may not be the best thing for a machine, but he has special fans that blow the sand right out of his joints and it hasn't hurt him yet.

He usually springs up and catches the wood before it even begins to descend. He always catches it, no matter how hard I try to trick him. He has sensors that predict the exact arc the stick will take, and sensors that pinpoint the spot he will grab it out of the air.

He's sensitive all right, so its my fault that I did not realise something was wrong when we got back to the house.  First of all, I forgot that I had him on mute, so while I was making myself a bowl of cereal, he kept annoying me by clattering back and forth between Max's study and the kitchen and bumping into the back of my thigh with his cold metallic nose. I finally realised he was trying to tell me something, and strolled into the sitting room to pick up the remote control I had left next to the X-stream Machine.  I took him off mute.

"Problem detected. Room 3, Max's study. Suspected theft." He announced immediately, and pranced off down the hall.

K9's are always pretty terse, but his message was clear and I fairly flew to Max's study. The door was unlocked. Max's PC was gone. He never takes it with him. I began to feel sick to my stomach.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Trying this one out: Teenage Detective, Victoria Gold

Yup, I am planning to use this blog as a sounding board - or rather, Story Board, for some fiction projects I am planning. Feel free to join in, but beware, I plan to steal any and all great ideas that come my way and use them to my advantage.

So, I have had this idea for a while: a teenage girl detective, but not your usual Nancy Drew type, although I love her dearly, this is more the "Ironsides" style of teen detectives! She is a semi-invalid, stuck at home with her tutor, but with lots of friends to be her "Scoobie Gang" and do all the physical investigating that she can't do.

Naturally, she is a genius as well as a computer whiz and a bit of a hacker.  Naturally also, her dad happens to be the District Attorney for the big city across the river. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that this is all taking place in the USA - in a small town in the state of Connecticut.

This small town will be a hotbed of drug smuggling, pedophile rings, unexplained cosmic phenomena, you name it - its all there. As much as I would like to start this today, I will begin tomorrow. As she said in Gone With The Wind, "Tomorrow is another day!"