Charlie’s Angel

I’ve been in this bed for too long.
Please don’t let me go like Charlie.
My friend Charlie.
He got bad cancer and was in a bed for months.
I made the visits when I could,
bringing his favorite contraband.
His chewing tobacco and a couple cans of Molson’s
in a cold pack.
Charlie started getting these bad sores in different places.
They put on bandages, but the bandages made it worse.
He got a little more sad, each time I came.
At last, I stopped coming.
Crying a lot.  Coward.
 You coward.

I have no cancer, unless it be of the spirit.
I think I am like all of us.
We so need the human touch, the warmth and need of another.
And I do not know, really, why this bed has become such a refuge.
A refuge from what?  Human touch and warmth?
How will I become worthy of these things, and of the whole of love?
Get me up, dammit, I must get up.
As I lie staring, motionless, I feel I am effervescing.
Particles of me drifting upwards, like motes of light.
Soon I will be gone, like Charlie.
But, for now, I spread my arms and legs on these neat white sheets.
And all that will be left, when they come, is a snow angel.

Time after Time

Einstein and Tesla were on its trail.  Many more speculated.  H. G. Wells brought it to the public imagination.  I’m asking you to suspend disbelief in favour of entertainment, and to go along with my story about  a trio of garage engineers who think they are one of the first to have accomplished it.  The unraveling of time.  The capability to view, but not influence, short scenes from the past and from the future.

My name is Rod, and my partners are two nerdy guys named Thomas and Jerry (yes, Tom & Jerry).  We are bachelors, and probably with good reason.  From a secluded underground room in the Hydro plant where Jerry works as an engineer, we have built a machine that made a monkey disappear, and, within minutes, come back to us in an altered state.  The room was part of a network of storage vaults for tools, equipment and the like.  We had access to it because Jerry had some pretty damaging life-changing information about one of the security guards.

Three years it has taken us to come to this point.  What we really wanted was to have control over where and when the machine would go, but so far it is random and without control.  The traveler has no way of knowing the time or place of his visions, and, as mentioned, cannot influence things in any way.  We nicknamed it Galadriel’s Mirror.
The only thing we can do from this end is to bring it back.  The unfortunate monkey could not have known he was making history.

I am certainly not going to tell you how this works, or regale you with imaginative stories of golden levers with glass handles, flashing lights, and the world going by at fast forward as the stupefied traveler sits in his comfy seat.
Our simplified concept sees time as if it were contained in the grooves on a long-playing record of infinite size.  These grooves hold the information of what has been since the beginning, and what will be in the Ever.  The record is there to be seen.  Jumping the grooves is what no one (as far as we know) has been able to do.  To send the machine on its way requires a great amount of energy that must be sustained until its return.  Hence, our life saving deal with the security guard.

After the first shock of seeing our little passenger leave and return, we observed him closely before removing him from his plastic cage.  He was breathing rapidly and looked a little nervous and pale as his glance darted from place to place.  He was unwilling at first, but we coaxed him out.  I picked him up and checked his vitals which were alright aside from the pulse and respiration.  These were calming down quickly.  We let him loose.  He was still a little agitated, jumping from place to place and peering nervously in all directions.  But, there was something a little different about him that I could not put my finger on.

The others noted nothing, and declared our work a success.  Now is was time for me to go.

To be continued……..



How much is that Worry in the window?

Are you going on holidays?  Buy our pills, or you could get traveler’s diarrhea.
(a woman in a white bathing suit runs toward a public bathroom, which is lined up out the door)

Adults over 50 should get the Shingles vaccine.  Talk to your Doctor.  (May cause death in rare cases)

Someone is shown enjoying a drink with a little umbrella in it.  Palm trees wave in the background. There’s a close up zoom on the ice cubes.  Did you know that Hepatitis C can be spread in many different ways?  Get the Twinprix vaccination.  Talk to your Doctor. Because you are a Traveler.

A woman is shown about to give a keynote speech at a business presentation.  She is nervous.  As she points to some items on the screen projection, a sweat stain is visible.
Buy our deodorant, or you could wind up like this.  Sweating and maybe smelling too.

Two neighbours chat in their driveway.  One has just bought a spanking new truck with all the bells and whistles.  “Yep, just got this baby.  Twenty thousand off too.  Too bad about your broken Volvo”.  The other guy with the Volvo has been watering his brown lawn, and his hose suddenly goes limp.

Two women talk in the kitchen.  One is a neighbor who has just walked in, dressed appropriately in a smart business suit.  They talk about dishes.  The smart one, when she sees the dishwasher open, says “Oh My, you have spots on your dishes.  You should be using Cascade.  The other lady, instead of hitting her, looks crestfallen.  Lesson learned.

If you’ve been hurt, or are going to be hurt, in a car accident, call the Four Diamonds Law Firm.  We’ll get you what you deserve from those nasty insurance companies, or you don’t pay.  Of course, “what you deserve” is subjective, and we will take our 90 percent commission, thank you..

A clumsy woman in her kitchen goes to take her turkey out of the oven.  She slips on a goddamn toy her toddler has left on the floor, grabs the tablecloth, everything goes on the floor, and she rubs her hip.  At Manulite Insurance, you’ll be covered for things like this.  Our motto is “You never know”.



We take to the caves (Mars 9)

The day came for our trek to the caves.  Besides myself, there were two committee members:  Sasha and a man named Alexei Nedev, who was the father of Ylla.  Mark and the other committee members stayed back for security reasons.  There were also a couple of the outpost’s counsellors, and, of course, Oceaxe.

We took two motorized transports, which had been charged from wind turbines, and they took us most of the way along the shelf where the famous caves had been found.  Alexei led the way.  There was some climbing involved, but without great difficulty in the lower Martian gravity.  Flagged markers had been placed at the cave’s mouth, so it was not long before we stood upon the threshold.

With lamps glowing, we walked carefully into what appeared to be the main chamber, unremarkable except for its size.  Oceaxe tapped me on the shoulder, and gestured to the side chamber where she had been the first to find water on that singular day some time ago.  It had other tributary alcoves, along seemingly convoluted tunnels.  The one where the bones and implements were found had been flagged as well.  In single file, we threaded our way via a narrow tunnel and entered a room where there were bound chests or caskets, made of metal, and kinds of shelves that had been cut into the chamber’s walls.  Behind me, and second last in line, Oceaxe looked in my direction and smiled.  All of the shelves and chests were empty, as they had left them.  I felt a strange sensation that we were invaders, and marveled at the pool of ice water that could be seen further in.

A more detailed examination of the chamber was undertaken.  No further artifacts were found, but Sasha, having shone her light upon one of the shelves, discovered some curious glyphs that had been carved or etched at its base.  They had almost been missed, due to an overgrowth of some lichen-like fungus that seemed to thrive in this moist environment. As she carefully scraped and brushed, then took pictures, I stood behind her for a better look.  I had seen these, or something similar, before.  We all exchanged glances as to what this could be about, then decided to quit the chamber and explore further if possible.

Along another of the winding tunnels we went, Alexei leading.  After we had progressed some 100 yards, the tunnel straightened out.  We heard Alexei calling for a stop, and beckoning us to catch up.  He reached up to just over shoulder height and ran his gloved hand along the tunnel wall.  What showed in the lamps’ radiance was a wide band of solid metal, some twelve inches in width, that was embedded in the stone.  He got out some small scraping implements that they used in their Martian archaeology, and tested the metal, which seemed, remarkably, to be soft and malleable.  It was a dull silver in color, and, upon further examination, looked to be the flat edge of some kind of a larger structure.  We shone the lights further down the tunnel, which stayed straight as far as we could see.  Then the lights were directed along the flat top edge of the metal rail, or whatever it was.  What we found, over the next hundred yards, was that it protruded from the rock further, as it went along, and then curved back in until it disappeared.

Sasha had been busy taking some metal samples.  Oceaxe was chipping away at the rock underneath the metal.  The others had gone further down the tunnel to see if there was anything else of note.  We stayed for another half hour, and they returned, saying the tunnel came to a blind end, with no side chambers.  I heard Oceaxe in my earpiece, and she called me over, looking at me and pointing sharply to where she had been digging.  On the underside of the metal rail were more of the glyphs, clearly visible and uncorrupted by fungus.  She gave me a puzzled look, and the others gathered around.
I now knew where these had been seen before:  On Oceaxe’s famous “keys”, and, more strangely, in the carved figures we had been presented with upon our arrival on Mars.  The significance of my dream, perhaps, was being made more clear.

to be continued……

other stories in this series are:

The Empath (Mars 8)

This is the 8th instalment of a speculative story of our visit to and colonization of the planet Mars.  The others, in order, are:


A day after our momentous meeting, I was having lunch in the dining hall, and Sasha joined me.  I didn’t know where to begin a personal conversation about the things we had seen and heard .  Instead, she broke the ice with a rare smile, and said “I see you’ve been having the odd chat with Oceaxe.  She seems to have put you on a pedestal, because it’s not often she says more than a few words.”  I said that I had indeed found the girl fascinating, and not a little unsettling, and wondered how she had felt when making her accidental discovery.  Sasha said “She is one of a kind, certainly.  You should know that I have been her confidant, of sorts, and she has said that you are a person to be trusted.  It may not seem like much, coming from a 15 year old, but she is different in this way:  Very intuitive, and, I think, a perfect empath.  It is a little unsettling that she seems to know what people are thinking, or at least what their strong feelings are.  This likely accounts for her withdrawn demeanor.  We take her with us on expeditions because some of us feel that she is a good luck charm.”

I asked why Oceaxe had been included on the fateful expedition in question.  Sasha said “She, of all the children, came with us because her parents were required, and also because, contrary to what you might think, she is very strong for her size and build.
She is disciplined, will take orders readily, and does not muddy things with unnecessary chatter.  Something she has told me in confidence, I will share with you.  It has to do with the objects of metal that were found in the cave.  As you know, they are very oddly shaped, and we are still speculating as to their purpose.  She came to me one day, averted her eyes, and said “They are keys”.  I was taken aback for a moment, and the question, of course, was forming in my mind.  Before I could get it out, she said “The pieces from the cave.  They are keys”.  When I asked what she meant, and what these keys would be for, she said she did not know, but that we would find out.”

There was going to be another search expedition within two weeks’ time, and Sasha asked me to attend.  I was tempted to say “You couldn’t keep me away”,  but just concluded our conversation in a businesslike way, thanking her for the invitation.

To be continued……

Found things

After her death,

We cleared out Mother’s house.

Among the found things were

A stained brown envelope with a marriage license from 1932

A jewelry chest full of baubles we never saw her wear

In with the baubles, wrapped in plastic, someone’s baby teeth

An old leather bound Bible we never saw her read

Pressed within its pages, a ringlet of hair, mine I am sure

A four leaf clover

A dried dragonfly

My baby picture, wallet size

In her ancient trunk,

A folded fur, musty smelling

A letter belonging to her mother, who had a lover, dated 1887

Inside the fur, opera glasses

A moth-eaten raggedy Ann (her childhood friend?)

Hat boxes without hats

In fuzzy black and white, she and Dad on the grass


A new brown envelope from the Hospital

She never showed us, never showed us.

All gone now.

The old lady at the university

A charming story.

Isabelle´s thoughts

I saw her again, the old lady in her seventies, who was sitting in the corner of a sofa outside the library. She was reading a newspaper, all her attention was paid to the front page it seemed, she didn’t turn the page. A half-empty lunch box was just beside her, she had already finished her coffee.

I walked towards her slowly so that I wouldn’t appear intrusive. She lifted her head, gently. No sense of surprise was to be traced, our eyes met, I smiled to her, and she to me. I sat on the floor, looking up to her face. Her grey hair was done in a loose bun. She smiled again.

Her appearance at the campus is quite noticeable, she looks so different from what is expected to be seen at an university. She walks slowly, having her back bent forward to such an extent that her…

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