Stephen L. Thompson's Weekly Stories for 2006

Stephen L. Thompson’s
Weekly Stories for 2006

September 10, 17, 24

October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

November 5, 12, 19, 26

December 3, 10, 17, 24

See the voting results.

September 10, 2006

No Substitute

"Why are you crying?"

Mary turned her head, her new synthetic joints letting her move like she did when she was in her forties, and looked at the young girl standing next to her. She wiped away a tear and smiled, showing the girl her new teeth. "Oh, I was just thinking of my father."

The girl cocked her head to the side and asked, "What happened to him?"

"He…" Mary stopped. Glancing around at the trees and fountains, she wondered how she could explain such senseless loss to a child. Should she explain it? "He died." Looking at the ground Mary added, "Long ago."

"I'm sorry."

Mary looked back at the girl; trying to act like a grown up, but not knowing how. "I was a little older than you are now when it happened."

Mary had to bite her lip to stop from laughing as a look of confusion washed over the girl's face. It was always a shock to learn that old people were once kids.

To change the subject, Mary asked, "What are you doing here on this fine fall day?"

"It's a boring class trip."

Not knowing what to say to that, Mary was relieved to see a young man walking towards her and the girl. "Elizabeth, there you are," he said as he got close. "You know you shouldn't leave the group."

"I know," Elizabeth answered looking at the ground.

The man glanced at Mary, who smiled, then put a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder. Leaning over to speak into her ear he pointed at a woman standing a few hundred yards away, who waved. "Do you see Miss Siever?"


"Go to her. Straight," the man emphasized the word, "to her."

"Yes Mister Patwardhan." Elizabeth took a few steps, then stopped and turned back to Mary. "I'm sorry about your dad."

Mary smiled, and said, "Thank you Elizabeth."

Elizabeth then began walking towards the rest of her classmates. This walk turned into skipping and finally into running.

Mister Patwardhan watched her go, then turned to Mary. "I'm sorry if she was bothering you."

"Not at all, Mister…"

With a quick smile, he suggested, "Josef."

Chuckling Mary said, "Not at all Josef. She reminds me of one of my great-great-grand daughters who I only see in vids since her mother moved up to Tycho Colony."

Josef looked as if he was going to ask something, but stopped himself. After a few seconds, he asked anyway. "I know this is a faux pas, but how old are you?"

"You're not married, are you?"

Josef laughed. "Is it that obvious?"

"A married man would know better." After a quick smile she said, "Two months ago I turned 110."

Josef's mouth opened, but before he could say anything Mary added, "The amazing thing is I'm still 65% original parts. Very few of us old broads can say that."

Doing a poor job to hide his laugher, Josef said, "Yes, that is amazing." Becoming serious he said, "But what I was going to say was that you were alive when this happened," he waved at the trees and fountains.

Turning away Mary answered, "Yes."

After a few heartbeats, Josef asked, "Was your father here?"

For several seconds the only sound was the wind in the leaves and the water in the fountains. Finally Mary said, "I was angry at him. The way only a ten-year-old girl can be at her father who will miss her recital because he has to go on a business trip." Turning back to Josef she added, "He was flying out that morning."

"I am sorry."

"Mister, Patwarden?"

Josef smiled. "Close enough."

"Practically every person I have met in the past century has told me that." Turning away, looking back at the memorial built to honor her father and countless others, she said, "It is a poor substitute."

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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September 17, 2006

The First Frontier

“Try to relax.”

Ghton smiled hearing the voice in her ear. “That’s easier said than done.”

“You’re almost there.”

Ghton closed her eyes and practiced her speech as her ship shook as if all the thrusters were firing erratically. The ship reported all its systems were functioning, it was just the plowing through kilometers of air every second that was giving her the rough ride.

After several gut wrenching jolts, the flight smoothed out. Ghton took the moment of stability to drink a little nutri-mix, knowing what she was about to do would take all her energy.

As she replaced the bottle, the voice in her ear returned to tell her, “One minute to landing.” Closing her eyes once more, Ghton began to silently count the seconds. Just as she reached zero the voice told her, “Touchdown.”

There was a slight shudder as the engines turned off. Then, everything became perfectly still.

Ghton took a deep breath, then spent several seconds checking that her ship, hover chair, and environmental suit were all working. Satisfied, she said, “I’m disembarking now.” A side of the ship folded away, and her hover chair floated outside.

The sun shield in her visor tinted slightly; the light was bright, especially for a native of Alate, but it was not blinding. Ghton looked around her at the landscape, which seemed a never ending series of hillocks, and tried to brace herself against the glaring green. Plants of every shape, size, and shade of green ran rampant across the landscape. It was a botanist’s dream; or nightmare.

Ghton only gave herself a few seconds to look around, knowing hundreds of billions were waiting to hear what she would say. She maneuvered her hover chair to a relatively flat area and set it down; the snap of thick twigs conducted through the chair and the suit to her ear. When she turned off the hover chair, she was exposed to the planet’s natural gravity. It was a little higher than she was used to, but not uncomfortable.

Standing up on the footrest, Ghton cleared her throat, realizing too late that everyone in the known universe would hear that. Pushing that out of her mind, she began her speech. “It has been almost 1800 years since our ancestors abandoned this world, to let it return to its natural state. In that time, we have spread throughout the galaxy, colonizing thousands of worlds. Yet, there has always been the desire to return. Now, once more a human,” Ghton stepped off the chair and onto the ground, “stands upon the Earth.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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September 24, 2006

Cause, and Effect

From atop the highest tower of his castle, King Lawik III looked out upon his domain and frowned. For several minutes he had heard footsteps and wheezes coming up the stairwell, now their source appeared. “Sorry, my liege,” the aged advisor croaked, “I’m not as young as I once was.”

This brought a brief smile to the King’s face, for it was rumored that Drato had been just as old when he had advised Lawik The Great, the King’s grandfather. But this was not the time for reminiscing. “I have heard,” the King snapped, “that the peasants are rioting over lack of food.”

“That is correct, Sire,” Drato replied, managing not to wheeze too much.

“Do they think that by rioting the fruit will ripen sooner?”

“It is true an empty stomach plays havoc with a man’s mind, but, I believe, their hope is that you will open the kingdom’s stores to them, my King.”

“That food is needed for our soldiers to track down Amsoa and his men.”

Drato stepped closer to the King. “Sire, it is true that Amsoa and all members of his bloody band of outlaws deserve to hang from these walls, but the people, if they have to choose between an empty stomach and a distant enemy, will go with their stomachs.”

Lawik grimaced. “But I am King, and I say the food is for our men tracking down Amsoa.”

“Forgive an old man his bluntness, but ‘Kingship is given, Leadership must be earned.’ Your grandfather said that, and he was a great King because he was a great leader. Even those who opposed him would gladly march to their deaths at his command. The people loved him that much. But you,” Drato pointed a bent finger at the King, “you the people do not love. So, despite the correctness of your cause, they will not listen.”

For the next hour Lawik strode around the parapet, frowning, before heading back down the tower. Drato made it to the ground long before him.

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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October 1, 2006


“Welcome back to This Week. In the studio with me is Ann Hu, the author of the somewhat controversial new book: October 2, 2010: The day one nation died and the world was reborn. Welcome.”

“Thank you for having me.”

“Now, in case some of our viewers failed history class, would you give a brief overview of the events of that date fifty years ago.”

“Of course. On October 2, 2010, the former nation of North Korea launched what it hoped would be a blitzkrieg on the former nation of South Korea.”

“These were the divided nations of what is now Korea.”

“That’s right. As part of this blitzkrieg, the North launched three nuclear missiles at the South, causing great destruction and throwing the South Korean military into disarray. The North also launched four missiles to act as distractions; one apparently aimed at Tokyo which malfunctioned and crashed into the sea, and three at the United States. One of these malfunctioned and crashed, and one was successfully intercepted by the America’s missile defense system. The third was partially intercepted; it did not destroy LA as the North had intended, but it did shower radioactive debris over a large area of Northern California, causing health problems even today.

“The blitzkrieg failed, and as a result North Korea ceased to exist as a nation. These seven nuclear weapons represented seventy percent of the North’s nuclear arsenal. The United States’ retaliation with eighteen nuclear weapons represented only a small percentage of America’s arsenal. This unbalance in military might led President Williams to state to the rest of the world, crudely yet powerfully, ‘Don’t fuck with us.’”

“As you state towards the middle of your book, it was that almost nonchalant crudeness that angered the rest of the world and led them to try to impose sanctions on the United States.”

“Yes, and there were several world leaders: Zhili in China, Bolotov in Russia, Farshidi in Iran, and countless others who tried to organize a war on the United States, saying that world peace could never be maintained with a single superpower.”

“And the man most responsible for saving the United States is the unsung hero of your book, Cheong Tae-ho.”

“Cheong is the unsung hero of the world, in my opinion. This is a man who walked out between the remnants of the armies of the North and South, who most likely would have fought each other to the death because that was what they were trained to do and what was expected of them, and got them to lay down their weapons. His ‘We are all Koreans’ speech is one of the most influential, and emotionally powerful speeches ever made. Yet it wasn’t recorded. It wasn’t written down; Cheong just stood up and spoke his mind. In his memoirs fifteen years ago he stated that even he doesn’t remember what he said. While researching this book I interviewed over forty veterans who were there, and they all remember the speech differently. I think that was the key to its power; everyone who heard it was able to find something in it that had great meaning to them, and that is what they focused on.

“But it was this no-name South Korean general thrust into the international spotlight; winning the Nobel Peace Prize and being elected the first President of the united Korea, who is the bedrock for our world today. Yes, he is mentioned in history books, basically just for his speech, but what they fail to discuss is his role in calming the world. He is the one who took on the, at the time considered impossible task of convincing the world that the United States wasn’t evil.”

“This is where the controversy surrounding your book comes in, since the accepted historical interpretation is that it was President Williams who was, what did you call it, the bedrock of our world.”

“Yes, almost everyone says that this golden age of peace and prosperity started with the St. Patrick’s Day terrorist attack on New York in 2012, and the naïve view that President Williams, by himself, was able to succeed where his predecessor had failed in forging a united front to eradicate the scourge of terrorism from the world. What these historians forget, is that the only reasons the rest of the world was talking to the United States was because of the work of Cheong.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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October 8, 2006

If Only

The news anchor looked at the camera and stated, “In a stunning announcement today, The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that Ploughshares Incorporated will be the final recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Ploughshares, which won the prestigious award nineteen years ago for its work on recycling military hardware, won this year’s award for its work on cleaning up toxic wastes from former military sites.

“The reporting of the decision to end the 163 year old prize came a few hours after Ploughshares was announced as this year’s winner, and was made by Jens Sandvik, spokesman for The Norwegian Nobel Committee.”

The news anchor was replaced by the video of a young, well dressed man standing behind a podium. Smiling, Jens Sandvik looked at the camera and began speaking. “Alfred Nobel founded the prize to be given to ‘the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.’ In this new golden age of humanity, that need for building fraternity between the nations is no longer needed.” Holding up a hand, he continued, “Not to belittle the efforts of the recipients of the Prize over the past few years, but there is just very little for them to do, as compared to those from fifty or a hundred years ago. It was the decision of the committee, that instead of letting the Prize fall into superfluousness, it would be better to end it while it was still relevant to the world.

“The other Nobel Prizes; for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economics will continue, and we are discussing the possibility of forming a new prize, in a category yet to be determined.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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October 15, 2006

Cage the Mind

Let the kids out

Friday, October 20, 2056
By Michael T. Crenson

Sparks flew last night at the school board meeting over the issue of whether or not the district should extend its contract with Child Restraints Incorporated (CRI). The two biggest producers of the sparks were David Hartnell, a local doctor, and Amanda Roden, a CRI representative.

Dr. Hartnell began by giving an impassioned accounting of his own educational experience from forty years ago, before the wide use of Educational Restraining Systems. It was a glowing account of a simpler, by-gone era few people remember; where children were not strapped into a desk all day and medicated to be more receptive of learning. “Children in those days,” he stated, “instead of being sedated, were allowed to run and play games to wear off the excess energy of youth.”

Ms. Roden countered Dr. Hartnell’s “selective memory” of the past by stating, “Restraining children and giving them mild sedatives has been the educational standard for decades. And look at the results: practically no crimes committed within the schools, a nearly one hundred percent graduation rate, and the spaces formerly occupied by playgrounds have been converted into classrooms, resulting in fewer schools having to be built at a huge savings to taxpayers.”

Dr. Hartnell then retorted: “And decades of that educational system have resulted in a society of blithering idiots.”

At which point the debate was side-tracked because Ms. Roden did not know the meaning of the word blithering.…

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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October 22, 2006


“It was announced today, from the United Nations’ new home in Paris, that a wall will be constructed around the United States of America to protect the rest of the world from the threat of Americanism.

“Secretary General Kizza Nsibambi had this to say: ‘For many decades the world has tolerated, usually out of fear, the self-appointed role of world guardian the United States has taken. But just like Rome and the British Empire, all major powers must eventually fade and pass into history, to make room for newer powers. It is not a moment the people greet with joy, but it is a moment they must greet. Now is the time for the United States to fade.

‘Despite what the American administration says, I am not calling for the destruction of the United States; Britain exists without its empire. What I am saying is that America has had too much power over the world for too long, and has done too little with it. They say they champion democracy around the world, but they have no problem propping up corrupt regimes if it means they will get cheaper oil. A few Americans killed anywhere in the world is a major news story, possibly leading to war, while millions are slaughtered in Africa in silence, and they do nothing. It is time for the world to stand on its own two feet, and solve its own problems. The greatest obstacle in the way is America as a world power; and it is time the obstacle is removed.’”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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October 29, 2006


Geneg did not raise an eyestalk when her door opened; Kujhyl’s pheromones preceded him. After making Kujhyl wait; until his pheromones reeked of nervousness, Geneg finally asked, “Do you intend to be so harsh with all your tests?”

Kujhyl bent his front legs slightly from the bluntness of her tone. But he quickly straightened to say, “You are, of course, referring to my grade of a Q-minus I gave on my report.”

Geneg clicked off her screen with her right-front arm, and turned to the young scientist; but before she could reply, the ships navigator announced, “Hyper-drive jump in seven yits.”

Waving her eyestalks in disapproval at the intercom, Geneg told Kujhyl, “They have been making such progress over the past five grading periods. Many assumed their awakening to full awareness was coming soon.”

“Just because many wish it, does not make it so,” Kujhyl retorted, stronger than even he himself expected. Before Geneg could respond, he continued, “They are still a superstitious species. They have the means to save themselves, but they expect the universe to do it for them. All they have to do is bargain for it.”

“All species go though such a stage; even ours,” Geneg stated. “A few thousand orbits ago we were little better then they.”

“You speak the truth. And how would we have measured ourselves a few thousand orbits ago? Would we look at how we actually were, or would we grade them on what we hoped they would become?”

Geneg settle back on her bench, not willing to concede defeat. “You speak the truth that many are not ready to look upon full awareness, but you cannot forget that it never happens all at once. It always begins with a few who slowly spread it to others.”

“It is true that many individuals are near full awareness, but the species as a whole…. Right now it seems more likely that those few will be considered outcasts with little likelihood of spreading it to others.”

For awhile neither said anything. Kujhyl was about to break the silence when the navigator announced, “Hyper-drive jump in six yits.”

Geneg sat up straight. “You’re grade shall remain. Now, let us hope the next subjects have improved.” She clicked her screen back on and read the information. “They call themselves ‘Humans’ and scored a Triple-Z-minus last time.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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November 5, 2006

History will Forget

Jake (a die-hard Democrat) and Harry (a die-hard Republican) were arguing over what would result from the 2006 midterm election. Jake claimed that America would turn away from disaster and start down a new path to greatness leading to a better world. Harry, on the other hand, claimed America would leave the path of greatness and start down to disaster, bringing the world with it. As they walked along the sidewalk they kept shouting and listing reasons the other’s candidates did not deserve to win. They were just about ready to tell each other to “Fuck off,” and go their own ways, when a green mist enveloped them.

Out of fear, they instinctively stepped closer to each other. “What is that?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know.”

There was a sudden lurch, like an elevator cable snapping, and then the green mist dissipated.

They were standing in a small classroom. That was the first thought that came into their heads, but upon closer inspection the room did not look like any classroom they had ever seen. Yes, there was a group of about thirty teenaged children, but instead of desks they sat in rows like at a small theater. Instead of a blackboard there was just a large black screen. But what really stood out was the view out the window. Gleaming spires of steel and glass filled the skyline; their tops concealed by clouds.

The teacher, a tall, thin woman whose ancestry was not immediately clear and who said her name was Saskia, quickly explained to them that they had been picked up at random from two centuries earlier. Instead of students learning only from boring text or vids, the education system of the twenty-third century transported people from the past to give the children a first-hand account of the period they lived in.

Both twenty-first century men managed to stay on their feet; but it did take them ten minutes or so to overcome the weirdness of the situation and carry on. Once they had settled down, as much as possible, Harry asked Saskia, “What do you want to know?”

“Well,” she thought for a few seconds, “What were the two of you doing before we brought you here?”

Both men looked at each other, then Jake stepped forward and answered, “There was just an election, and we were discussing the ramifications from it.”

One of the students raised a hand and asked, “Was it a presidential election?”

“No,” Harry replied, “It was a midterm election.”

The student let out a rejected, “Oh,” then slumped back in his seat.

Another student asked, “Were there any important issues in the election?”

“Yes,” Jake almost shouted, “extremely important issues.”

“Do you children not know what was going on in the country in 2006?” Harry asked.

The student who had asked what kind of election it was asked back, “Do you know what the important issues in the midterm election of 1810 were?”

Both men wanted to answer, but could not.

Saskia smiled at them. “I’m sorry,” she explained, “but everyone is getting all excited for our presidential elections next month, and we’ve been studying a great deal of presidential history. Not to minimize their service, but history remembers Presidents far better than members of Congress.”

Harry smiled and asked Saskia, “Well then, do you mind if I ask the children a question?”

“No, of course not.”

Turning towards the students he asked, “Who do you think the greatest President of the twenty-first century was?”

The students began squirming in their seats. After a few seconds of excited debate the class had settled into two camps; one claiming the best was President Quintana for setting so many important projects in motion, while the other said it was President Ries for seeing most of the projects through.

Saskia, seeing the blank faces on both men, explained, “President Alicia Quintana was elected in 2036. Jerome Ries was her Vice-President, and was elected himself, but unfortunately he died in office in 2051. Their terms are often referred to as ‘The Golden Age of Twenty-First Century America.’”

Both men started to ask, but Jake was a little bit quicker. “What party were they?”

“The American Party.”

“The what?”

Saskia shook her head as if she was trying to sort out all she was going to say. She settled on, “The twenty-teens are commonly referred to as the time of the ‘Civil Stress,’ which some historians claim as the closest America has been to a civil war since … The American Civil War. It was a time of divisionism, passionate hatred, and massive corruption.

“The American Party began when people finally got fed up with the two main political parties of the time, the ….” She closed her eyes for a few seconds, then looked at both men, “the Republicans and Democrats?”

“Yeah,” Jake answered.

She smiled, and continued. “For decades the Republicans and Democrats fought each other for power. Often brutally. I’m sure both of you are very familiar with this aspect of history.”

Jake and Harry glanced at each other, but did not say anything.

“Of course, the biggest victim of this never-ending power struggle was America itself. Each party fell into the delusion that only their way of looking at the world was the proper one, and if you were of the other party or voted for the other party then there was something wrong with you. What the leaders and supporters of each party forgot was that America is a diverse, complex nation. Instead of starting with an ideology and trying to cram America into it, they should have looked at America and did what needed to be done. That’s what the founders of the American Party did.”

“Who were they?” Jake asked.

Saskia started to answer, then stopped herself. After a second she said, “There wasn’t a specific group of people. It was a countless multitude who over a few decades came to the conclusion that the status quo was broken, and instead of trying to fix it, they needed to just start afresh.”

“That seems overly rash,” Harry said.

One of the students raised her hand. “I read once that, in the decades leading up to the Civil Stress, candidates would spend millions of dollars polluting every form of media they could find trying to convince people that they cared about important issues, like education. But once they were elected, they could never seem to find the time to pass legislation that would give a fraction of that money to schools to fix leaky roofs.”

Another student stated, “I also read that the politicians of your time talked about problems, but never really did anything to fix them. We,” he gestured to his classmates, “can discuss problems and not fix them. Does that mean we could be Members of Congress?”

“You seem to have only heard of the negative aspects of the political system from our time.”

Saskia quietly clapped her hands. “Well then, perhaps you can tell us some of the positive aspects of the politics of your time.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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November 12, 2006

When Will it Stop?

The reporters talked amongst themselves; comparing recent stories, chatting about mutual acquaintances, and betting on what the “Big Story” was. They quieted down as a young man stepped to the podium. He had all the skill and poise of a movie star and politician; traits inherited from his mother (twice nominated for Best Actress) and his late, Governor father.

As he unfolded a sheet of paper, which was blank because he had memorized his speech, he smiled and nodded in the general direction of random people. Once the paper had been smoothed out, he waved and smiled even more. Leaning forward ever so slightly he said into the microphone, “Thank you all for coming.” He took a half-step back and waited as several of the reporters took his photograph.

Back at the microphone he said, “Again, thank you for coming. I have a brief statement I wish to read, and then I will take some questions.”

He coughed slightly into his fist and then looking right at the reporters stated, “I wish to officially announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.” After a few seconds he continued, “Now, those of you good with math will have already figured out that in 2008 I will only be thirty-four years old. The Constitution declares that you have to be at least thirty-five to be President, and I am not challenging that. I am not running for the 2008 election. I am running for the 2012 election.”

Holding up his hand as if to silence questions that were not being asked, he went on, “Many will question my decision to launch a six-year campaign for office. But, the conventional wisdom is that the sooner you throw your hat in the ring, the more time you have to raise money, and the more money you raise, the better your chance of being elected. I know that sounds cynical, but it’s Washington. Washington isn’t known for being warm and fuzzy. The simple fact is that candidates who want to win need to be ruthless in their methodology.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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November 19, 2006

History Repeating

“They are invaders, and we need to do everything in our power to drive them from our land.” Before sitting down, the young man looked each of his fellows in the eye, especially those that had not supportive during his speech.

For a long time the council sat. One by one each head turned to the old man, who had remained quite during all the speeches. As the time wore on, many began to fidget, almost daring the old man to break the silence. Finally, he did. “You call them invaders,” he said, pointing a shaking hand at the young man, “but invaders come, take everything they can, then leave. They have not done this. They have come, they have built their homes, started families. Are these the actions of true invaders?”

Several who had nodded during the earlier speeches, now nodded at the wisdom of the old man. He continued, “I do not doubt your loyalty, and love, for our people, but there are too many of them. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life driving them from our land, only to see more arrive? Because no matter what we do, more will arrive. I know not why their old homes are so bad that they feel the need to leave, to come here and build new homes, but it is a truth.

“Whether driving them from our land is right or wrong, does not matter. I know, and I’m sure you know at some level, that it will be futile. There are too many of them, and not enough of us. It pains me greatly, but we will have to learn to live with the White Men.”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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November 26, 2006

There was no story this week. I needed a short vacation.

December 3, 2006

History Lessons 1

Philip stepped into the tent and set his gun down. As he took his pack off he commented to his tent mate Michael, “I am getting sick of this heat.”

Michael, laying face down on his cot, just grunted in reply.

Philip sat down on his cot and looked at Michael and waited. After a few seconds of silence, he saw that Michael was reading a letter. “What do you have there?”

“Hmm? Oh, a letter from home.”

“What’s the news from the civilized world?”

“My sister’s pregnant.”

“Good for her.” After a few more seconds of silence, Philip asked, “Is there something else?”

Michael sat up and folded the letter. He grabbed his little journal and put the letter it in. Looking at the packed, dirt floor of the tent he thought for a little bit then said, “They don’t understand why we are here.”

Philip nodded, then said, “So?”

“So?” Michael shouted back. “What are we doing here?”

Philip looked at his fingernails for awhile. Then he said, “People say that the locals don’t want us here, but I guarantee you that if we left, they would cheer for five seconds, and then they would collapse into chaos and beg us to come back. The boy that is throwing rocks at us today, in fifty years will tell his grandchildren that we were the best thing that ever happened here.”

After a short, sarcastic laugh, Michael said, “Is that supposed to make the bruises I have from rocks feel better?”

Shrugging, Philip said, “If you wanted to be loved by everyone, you joined the wrong business.”

Frowning, Michael stood and straightened his bright red uniform. As he picked up his musket Michael asked, “Where are you going?”

Philip paused at the tent flap and said, “Out to be hated, I guess.”

Outside Philip saw row after row of tents; the thick Georgian air smoky from cooking fires. As he walked down the muddy road, he thought about home and his future. His musings were often interrupted by messengers galloping by on horseback.

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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December 10, 2006

History Lessons 2

With short bursts of gunshots echoing in the distance, a man entered the dank jail cell carrying a clipboard. He paused for a few seconds to let his eyes adjust to the dimness.

Once he could see, he glanced at his clipboard and walked up to a man handcuffed to a post. “You have been found guilty of working for the Americans.”

The man had a bloody nose and a black eye. He spat blood on the floor and said, “I was just trying to feed my family.”

Glancing back to his clipboard the man just said, “There are other ways to feed them.” He then turned to a guard and nodded.

The condemned started pleading, “No, no. Please, I have a family.”

Not heading his cries, the guard took the man from the post, and led him outside. The condemned kept screaming, “Nooooo. Nooooo.”

The man tapped his pencil against his clipboard. After about a minute, there was a short burst of gunfire from outside. He made a check on his list then turned to the next condemned; an old woman blind in one eye. “We have reports that you worked with the Americans, cleaning their filthy uniforms. Is that true?”

The woman slowly nodded.

After a nod by the clipboard man, another guard grabbed the woman’s arm and led her outside.

Author’s note:

The origin of this story came from the Massacre at Hue, where several thousand Vietnamese civilians were murdered by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, mainly for not follow the party line. The point I wanted to make, is that with the fall of Saigon, after North Vietnam broke the Paris Peace Accords and invaded South Vietnam, individuals like my fictions bookkeeper (forerunners to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his ilk) were free to roam the country.

The simple truth I would like people to realize is that war is not right or wrong, black or white, Cut-and-Run or Stay-and-Die. These are too simplistic. War is a complicated, organized chaos. Anyone who tries to defend their views with such simplistic babblings are idiots at best, and deceivers at worst.

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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December 17, 2006

H. A.

“Hi, my name is Gary.”

“Hi Gary.”

“Um, this is something that, um, I think everybody is like this, it’s not just me. I didn’t think it was that big of a problem, it’s just, you know, everybody is screwed up. But lately I’ve come to the realization that I, um, that I’m a hater.”

“Why don’t you tell us what brought you to that realization.”

“Um, okay. Uh, I guess, there are things that I know, or believe to be true, and there are also things that I can’t prove to be true but which I am almost certain to be true given everything else that I know. But, with the world being so complex, and there is so much that we don’t, or can’t know, that what Person A believes can be different, even the exact opposite, of what Person B believes. Which wouldn’t be so bad if we could all just agree to disagree, but it doesn’t work that way. There are people who say, and think that if you don’t believe their beliefs, then you’re unpatriotic, or you’re going to hell, or you’re delusional, or you’re mentally deficient, or something equally bad.”

“Why do you suppose that is?”

“Because we’re all people. We all make mistakes, we all try to stroke our egos, even if we won’t admit it. But it’s this constant rain of people telling you want to believe or think or say or do, and if you don’t do exactly as they say then there is something wrong with you, it just, makes me want to scream sometimes. And I get so angry, that I can’t help but hate those who did this to me. It’s,” (laughs) “I became a hater because I was hated by the haters, if that makes any sense. I mean, I feel like a boob saying this, but ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’”

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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December 24, 2006

December 29, 2006

It was fortunate that Jonathon had planned to use the last of his vacation the week after Christmas, because he spent the Friday sitting around his living room. Once he learned that Saddam Hussein’s execution “could happen at any moment,” he spent the day flipping between the various cable news programs and checking internet news sites.

There was a break in the afternoon, when the news turned to California to show the funeral for President Ford. Jonathon sat on his couch, holding off on getting his mail and another beer, to watch the honor guard standing at attention in front of the church. The minutes crawled by; the commentators repeating themselves to fill the time before the motorcade arrived.

Once it arrived Jonathon was awed, yet depressed, at how well-oiled the process was. Even though Jonathon was still crapping in diapers when Ford was President, he figured he was better than any current politician. Ford put the best interests of the country before his own politically safety; something Jonathon could not see Bush or Clinton doing.

Once the coverage of the funeral ended, Jonathon went for his mail (all junk and bills) and grabbed another beer. He then went back to waiting for the Hussein execution. As time passed, it was hard not to compare the two men. The one’s passing mourned by everyone; the other’s eagerly awaited by most of the world.

After a few hours, Jonathon knew there had to be some deeper meaning to the day. It had to mean something; mourning one human’s death while treating another like a sporting event. True, Jonathon had the beer, but he stopped himself from getting his foam finger and air horn. He was sober enough to know he was getting drunk, but too drunk to care.

In the end, he got tired of waiting for Saddam to hang, and spent the night surfing the net for porn.

See what I wrote about this story on my Published Works page.

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My best story 2006.

At the end of 2006, I set up a way for my readers to vote on what they thought my best story had been. As of January 2009, here were the results:

VOTES TITLE 2 No Substitute 2 History will Forget 1 History Lessons 1 0 All the rest

Not exactly stuffed ballots, but still interesting.

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