Stephen L. Thompson's Weekly Stories for the second half of 2008

Stephen L. Thompson’s
Weekly Stories for the
Second Half of 2008

July 6, 13, 20, 27

August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

September (See 30 Stories in 30 Days?)

October 5, 12, 19, 26

November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

December 7, 14, 21, 28

For the week of:

July 6, 2008

Jump the Gun

“Look out, he might have a gun!”

The woman turned her head to see a man drawing a gun. She dropped to the sidewalk and covered her head as two shots exploded above her.

For several seconds she lay on the ground trembling. Then she heard the man saying, “It’s okay. You’re safe.”

Slowly, she looked up and saw the gunman holding his hand out to her. Turning her head the other way she saw some guy – who had been walking towards her – lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood.

Shaking, the woman stood up and asked, “He had a gun?”

“He might have.”


“He might have had a gun. And he might have used it to kill you.”

The woman thought for a few seconds. “Did that man have a gun?”

The gunman shrugged. “He might have. And he might have used it to kill you.”

Backing up slowly, the woman stepped to the fallen man and knelt beside him. She checked to see if he had a pulse, but he did not. Then, using all the skills she had from watching cop shows, she patted him down. Glaring at the gunman she announced, “He doesn’t have a gun.”

“Well, he was probably going to get one. Then he might have used it to kill you.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Well, he has the disturbed look of someone who was probably trying to get a gun to use it to kill people.”

For several moments the woman just stood silently before slowly saying, “Oh, and going around killing people because they might have a gun is so rational.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

July 13, 2008

No story this week. Sorry. I was working on one, but I’ve had car problems and other stuff came up so I haven’t been writing. I know, it sounds like a lame excuse to me to. But I’ll have that story done for next week.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

July 20, 2008


Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.

“I believe this week I’ve made a closer connection to God.”

Tom nearly choked on his coffee at his writing partner’s words. “I thought you were a diehard atheist.”

Jeremy smiled. “I am. I was just being ironical to get your attention.”

Tom just grunted.

“Besides,” Jeremy went on, “I’m already a god. And I have a beard, how much closer can I get?” For a few seconds neither said anything, then Jeremy added, “Even without a beard, you’re a god as well.”

Rolling his eyes, Tom lifted his hand to stop his friend, but Jeremy forged on, raising his own hands and flexing his fingers. “With these extraordinary digits, we create and destroy worlds at our whim. What could be more godlike?”

“Before we digress and have this conversation, again,” Tom replied with a smile, “perhaps you could go back and explain your epiphany or whatever you had.”

“Why, do you have somewhere better to be? Is your time so precious?” Jeremy asked with a wide grin. Leaning back in his chair he began, “Okay, you know I’m working on a fantasy trilogy.”

“The Never-ending Untitled Project,” Tom smiled. “Of course.”

“I’ll have you know I have titles for the books, just not for the series.” Jeremy gave a defiant nod towards Tom before continuing. “Anyway, I’ve been slacking these past few months. At first I thought it was just that I had other things on my mind, then I was thinking it was the weather – I prefer the cold – but now I think the problem is more internal.”

“You’re just lazy?” Tom asked with a smile.

Ignoring him, Jeremy continued, “I think the reason I’m having trouble writing the trilogy is because I know how it ends. I’m almost finished with the rough draft of the first book, The Hope, but I already have the last two books – The Lie and The Truth – outlined. It’s … if you already know how a movie or book ends; it’s not as much fun watching or reading them. But writing a book …. Once you know how it ends the thrill of creation is over, replaced by the drudgery of producing words.”

“There is still a thrill of creation as you write,” Tom said. “Creating a character who advances the story.”

“Those are minor thrills.” Jeremy drummed his fingers on the table for a moment, then said, “They’re like flipping through a Playboy after having a threesome. It’s nice, but it doesn’t really compare.”

Tom was silent for a few seconds. “Interesting analogy.”

“Thank you.”

“Anyway, so how does this fit in with your connection to God?”

Leaning forward, Jeremy said, “Once I realized that the main thrill of creation was over with, I was kinda pissed – just like the wrathful God of the Old Testament. But that anger was replaced by apathy, the, ‘Ah, let somebody else deal with it,’ of the New Testament.”

For several seconds Tom glared at Jeremy. “I know your theology should offend me, but on the other hand …”

“It makes sense.”

Tom shook his head and took a sip of coffee. “So, ah, do you want some other author to finish your novel?”

“No. I just …”

“Or,” Tom interrupted with a broad smile, “do you want another author to join you, to spice things up with your writing, a Ménage à novel.”

“Wouldn’t that be a Novel à trios?”

Tom shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t speak French.”

Jeremy shook his head. “No, that isn’t what I want. I just …. I guess the thrill is gone from writing my trilogy. Part of me wants to move on, but another part of me wants to remain … faithful.”

Lifting his coffee, Tom said, “That’s why I stick to short stuff. Literary one night stands. There’s fewer complications.”

Jeremy only grunted, and sipped his coffee.

After a few moments, Tom said, “So, Mister I-have-the-whole-trilogy-worked-out, tell it to me. You’ve only let me read a few bits and pieces, and if you don’t get off your ass and finish it, I’ll never know what you’ve been working on all these years.”

Jeremy only stroked his beard.

“What,” Tom asked, “are you afraid I’ll steal it?”

With a grin Jeremy replied, “My trilogy is too complex and subtle for a man of your simple means.”

“Sure, sure. Sounds like you’re just talking out of your ass.” Tapping the table Tom said, “Come on, lay it all out. Let’s see if it’s any good.”

Jeremy took a deep breath. “All right,” he said. “If it will shut you up.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Jeremy just shook his head. “Okay, some background. Years before the story begins there was a prophecy that a great darkness would arise, covering the land. Each time someone fought it, the darkness would get stronger. But, when things looked their darkest, the Chosen One would arrive. He is the only one who can defeat the darkness in one-on-one combat.”

Tom rolled his eyes. “You’re actually calling one of your characters the Chosen One?”

“There are elements that need work. I just haven’t come up with something cool sounding, I mean, not everybody can be the Kwisatz Haderach.”

Tom shrugged. “Good point.”

“Anyway, The Hope begins with Bloaw, the Chosen One, who has spent his life training at the wizard monastery setting out to the fortress of the Dark One.” Pointing at Tom, Jeremy said, “Shut up.”

“I didn’t say a thing.”

“With him is his friend Enarg, who is a few years older. He was born with a birthmark and his parents took him to the monastery to see if he was the One, but he wasn’t, so they left him there. They already had, like, ten kids.

“Now, the trip to the Fortress is expected to only last about six months. The two set out and at first they go in secret, but then at one village somebody gives Bloaw some wine, which goes to his head. Soon, everyone knows who he is and they start passing him willing maidens. Enarg, who has dabbled with wine and maidens before, isn’t as affected. So, some six months later, they still haven’t made it halfway. Bloaw has become a drunkard, and word of his debauchery has spread before them. At first, knights joined their cause, but after seeing Bloaw most loose interest and leave. Many tell Enarg that they would rather follow him instead of the Chosen One. Then, one dark night, Bloaw falls off his horse, breaks his neck, and dies. The end of The Hope.”

“You kill off the Chosen One? That’s bold.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, The Lie begins with Enarg holding Bloaw’s body and basically crapping himself. What can he do now that the Chosen One is dead? So he goes back to the knights who are still there – the true believers – and apologies to them. He says the wizards were worried that one of the Dark One’s minions might try to kill him, so they sent him out with a decoy. He shows them his birthmark and says, ‘This is the true mark of the Chosen One.’ And they believe him, because how can the Chosen One die? So word goes out and all the knights who said they would rather follow Enarg come back and they finish the march to the fortress. Oh, before they bury Bloaw, Enarg takes a locket that Bloaw’s mother had given him saying he will return it. That’s important later.”

“You shouldn’t tell me it’s important later. I should get that from the story itself.”

“Well, I’m giving you a broad overview, and two sentences about a locket isn’t quite important enough to be mentioned, unless it plays a big roll later on.”

Waving his hand dismissively, Tom said, “Whatever.” Then with a smile he said, “Go on.”

“Meanwhile, the Dark One hears that the army of the Chosen One is coming at him, so he calls in all of his minions. He doesn’t really have an army, his minions just go across the land terrorizing the people. But he calls them all together so thousands of minions and hundreds of knights meet on the field of battle. Enarg and the Dark One face each other, but while Enarg is a strong guy each swing of his sword leaves him weaker, until he passes out. In the end, the knights are slaughtered. Enarg and five or six others are captured and taken before the Dark One who asks, ‘Where is the Chosen One?’ And Enarg has to tell the truth that the Chosen One fell off his horse and died. At first the Dark One laughs, then he gets very angry and yells at Enarg, ‘And you thought you could impersonate him and defeat me, and I wouldn’t notice?’ So as punishment, the Dark One slowly tortures the other knights to death while making Enarg watches. That’s how The Lie ends.”

“Hmm.” Tom said, “Are you sure you want to make it so cheerful?” After a slight pause he added with a smile, “It might ruin your reputation.”

“The ‘cheerfulness’ as you would call it serves a purpose.”

“Well, I’m hooked. So how is the Dark One defeated?”

The Truth begins about a year later. While the knights were slaughtered, they took many of the Dark One’s minions with them. But after the battle, the Dark One sent the survivors out with the message that the Chosen One is dead and the people have no hope. And the minions make up for their fewer numbers by being even crueler. We meet a beggar trying to stab himself with a dagger, but something prevents him. In frustration, he trades the dagger for a loaf of bread. The baker asks if he has anything better than the dagger, and the beggar clutches his chest for a second and says no. Later, while he’s eating the bread, he reaches under his rags and pulls out the locket.”

“The beggar is Enarg?”



“After the other knights were tortured to death before him, the Dark One put a spell on Enarg that would prevent him from killing himself. He then set Enarg free, to wander the land and tell the tale of how the Dark One can’t be defeated. After ten years, Enarg could return to the fortress and the Dark One would lift the spell so he could finally die.”

“That’s very kind of the Dark One.”

“He’d screw Enarg over some other way. Anyway, so Enarg wonders, sells his armor for food, and every morning tries to kill himself. The next day, while he’s hanging from a tree, a hermit comes to him. But he isn’t just any hermit, he’s the former teacher of the Dark One.”

“The plot thickens.”

Jeremy just rolled his eyes. “This hermit used to be a wizard at the monastery, until he began delving into darker things. He didn’t go as far as the Dark One, but the other wizards didn’t like him. He’s sort of in the grey; too good to be bad, too bad to be good. So this hermit takes Enarg to his cave, and explains what happened to the Dark One. He had read the prophecy about a darkness that only got stronger whenever someone fought it, and he worked out the spell that would allow that to happen.”

“Ah, that’s why Enarg got weaker as he fought.”

“Exactly. But within this spell and prophecy is the key to defeating him. The Dark One takes power from those who fight him, but he can also give power to someone. The only one he knows can defeat him, the Chosen One.”

“Who’s dead.”

“But, the hermit in his studies, has found a way to call back the spirit of the dead. All he needs is a beloved object for the spirit to home in on.”

“The locket.”


“So it is important to the story.”

Again Jeremy rolled his eyes. “Enarg hands over the locket, the hermit does his spell, and the spirit of Bloaw appears. Death has mellowed him, and the three of them set off to the Dark One’s fortress. They arrive unchallenged, because all the minions are out causing trouble, and the final battle is rather wimpy because Bloaw’s spirit just absorbs all of the Dark One’s energy. Bloaw’s spirit then dissipates, his destiny completed, and the Dark One is left an old, powerless man. I haven’t figured out yet if Enarg will leave him alive, or if the former Dark One attacks Enarg and Enarg kills him accidentally.”

After a moment, Tom asked, “That’s it?”

“Well, Enarg and the hermit then set out to destroy the remaining minions. They need to raise an army of the people to do it.” After a pause, Jeremy went on, “Okay, so I don’t have every detail worked out, but that’s the basic story. And I’ve already worked out some of the deeper meanings to the story.”

“Which is?”

“The Hope that someone else – a Chosen One – will solve all of our problems, the Lie that our problems can be solved through force of arms, and the Truth that life is far more complex than that.”

Tom shrugged. “I’ve heard worse.”

“But what’s the point of writing it all out now? Why should I go through the drudgery of work when I’ve already gotten the pleasure of creation?”

“Hmmm.” Tom thought for a few seconds then chuckled. “You know,” he said, “you might have a story there.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

July 27, 2008

One Can Hope

Writers to fly
By Andrew Carruthers

Spaceport America, NM, March 5, 2011 – Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic, announced today that to mark the 25th passenger flight of his burgeoning space fleet, six writers will be given a free flight. “These individuals have helped spread the word of commercial space business, and offering them the chance to see the fruits of all of our labors is my way of thanking them,” Branson said. The current ticket price for a flight to the edge of space for five minutes of zero-g is $155,000.

The six are scheduled to liftoff onboard VSS Enterprise (the first of five scheduled Virgin Space Ships) by the end of the month. The lucky writers are: Geoffrey Attlee, who has written extensively on the business model of Virgin Galactic; Samuel Harper, author of the forthcoming Inside the Virgin Space Ships which details the mechanical inner workings of Branson’s fleet; Maria Hinojosa, operator of the Fantastic Flight website which deals with all aspects of flight both within and outside the atmosphere; Tina Poe, a prolific writer on the issue of space medicine; Roger Ranson, who – not only is working on a biography of Sir Richard Branson – has also written short biographical pieces on the first several paying customers of Virgin Galactic; and Thomas Stevenson, the author of Eve’s Children, a collection of fictitious stories of Virgin Galactic flights. (The Eve in the title referring to the first mothership – named for Branson’s mother – which was rolled out in mid 2008.)

“I thought it was a prank,” Mister Attlee says. “[Virgin Galactic] called and said, ‘Sir Richard Branson would like to give you a free trip into space to thank you for all you’ve done to support commercial space development,’ I hung up on them. But then when they sent me a ticket with all the official looking paperwork, I … I almost had a heart attack thinking how close I came to missing this.” Mister Stevenson reports, “When they asked if I wanted a free trip into space, I replied, ‘You have to ask?’” But not all jumped so eagerly at the chance. “When they asked me, I had to think about it,” Mrs. Hinojosa states. “I thought about it for five minutes, and then kicked myself for wasting five minutes thinking about it.”

“It was a remarkable experience,” Branson says of his own flight last year. “I put up the money for this enterprise, so I got my chance to go. But these individuals have put up their dreams in order to make this dream come true. Giving them the chance to go up is the least I could do.”

There have also been hints that to mark another milestone flight (perhaps the 50th) Branson will offer the same chance to six journalists who have helped spread the word of commercial space business. When asked his opinion on the matter, local reporter Andrew Carruthers had this to say, “That would be awesome. And it’s Carruthers, with three r’s.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

August 3, 2008

From the Past, to the Future

A bottle was pressed into Nikos’s left hand. He wiped the rim with his fingers, took a swig, felt the burn of alcohol, and passed it to his right. Every seat in the theater was filled, and the air trembled with noise. From conversations in a dozen languages to generic shouts of joy. The woman sitting in front of him was panning a video camera around while giving a loud narrative in what Nikos thought was Chinese. Nikos shouted a whoop, just so whoever watched the video would know he had been there.

The huge screen showed a less raucous group in the nearby stadium. While Nikos could have stretched his budget to afford a ticket there, he felt it was better to experience the moment with the masses, not the dignitaries.

On the top of the screen was a clock in the last minutes of a countdown. The noise level remained fairly constant, until around thirty seconds before zero. Then a few members of the audience tried to hush the rest. At first their efforts had the opposite effect, but when the countdown finally reached zero, the theater was quiet. Every eye was on the screen which was focused on the entrance to the stadium.

For several heartbeats, nothing happened. Then, a young, thin woman jogged into the stadium carrying a small torch. The theater around Nikos erupted. People were jumping up and down, clapping, shouting, hugging. Nikos stood on his seat and added to the din with a wordless yell.

On the screen, the woman jogged to the center of the stadium where a cauldron stood on a raised platform. When she reached it, the theater went from deafening to quiet stillness in a few seconds. Around Nikos everybody stood holding their breath. The girl with the torch looked around the stadium with a smile splitting her face. Nikos saw her take a deep breath, then light the Olympic Flame.

The theater exploded in joy. At first Nikos joined in, shouting and laughing and hugging people at random. But then the energy left him, and he stood still with tears running down his face; everybody had waited so long for this moment.


It took several minutes for Nikos to work his way out of the theater. He had experienced the big moment, what could the dry speeches of politicians and celebrities add to that?

Nikos walked along the corridor, brushing his hand along the ivy that covered the rock wall, until he came to an elevator. He stepped in and once the door closed a computerized female voice asked, “Destination.”

“Level One.”

The elevator accelerated up, but then slowed to a stop after a few seconds. A yellow light came on above the door and the voice stated, “Warning. The grav-plating on this level is at 0.9 gee. Please watch your step.”

The door opened to anther ivy covered corridor of vitrified bricks. Nikos stepped out and his stomach quivered at crossing the gravity differential, but settled as he relaxed with his new lightness. Ten meters in front of him was a window. He walked up to it and looked out. He ignored the dark gray landscape and looked only at the glorious blue-white orb hanging in the black sky. He could see most of Europe but Greece was under thick clouds.

Nikos grinned. It was possible that when Heracles started the Games millennia ago to honor Zeus, he could have foreseen them spreading beyond Greece; with the world’s athletes competing in the great cities of the globe. But even he could not have seen that one day, the Olympic Flame would burn upon the moon.

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

August 10, 2008

I had a story for this week about the war in Georgia, but for several reasons I never finished before it became irrelevant. Then I decided I needed a mental health break.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

August 17, 2008

I’m taking a mental health break.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

August 24, 2008

I’m taking a mental health break.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

August 31, 2008

I’m taking a mental health break.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

October 5, 2008

Small Step

Closing her eyes, Cherie took a slow, deep breath. Opening her eyes she looked out upon the gray, rolling landscape. For a hundred meters the land was lit by the ship’s spotlights, but beyond that lay only blackness. She couldn’t tell where the planet ended and space began. If they hadn’t spent months on the moon practicing for this landing, it would have been disconcerting. Just for a second, Cherie let herself wonder if she was still on the moon, but the unusual weight of her suit told her otherwise.

Accepting that she was really here, she turned her back on the scene and began going down the eight rungs of the ladder. At each rung she silently thanked someone for helping her get to this point: both of her parents, her brother, several teachers and professors. On the second to the last rung she thanked her husband Peter, and on the last one she thanked her daughter Victoria.

From the last rung it was a short drop to “the porch.” This was a grated plate where she and her crewmates could clean some of the dust off their suits before re-entering the ship. It was also a place for her to turn around and take in the view again.

Taking another deep breath, Cherie told herself enunciate, then lifted her right boot and set it down upon the rocky surface. “I take a small step with winged feet.”

After gently grinding her foot on the ground for a few seconds, Cherie stepped back up onto the porch. Leaning over she saw it wasn’t the iconic, Armstrong boot print in the lunar regolith, more a patch of disturbed rocks. She took several pictures of it anyway thinking, You can’t have everything.

Then, with a wide smile and her feet together, she jumped like a kid into a mud puddle. As she hit she began to chuckle, which turned into cheering laughter.

“Somebody’s having way too much fun,” she heard Mike say over the radio.

“I know,” Nobutaka replied. “Do you think we should go out and join in?”

“Give me a couple minutes … at least,” Cherie told them.

Looking up, she could just make out the blue-white star of home through the glare of the spotlights. In a few minutes, billions of people would see her take her small step. Then thousands more on the moon, Mars, among the asteroids, even the Sandra colonists in another star system would watch her. Cherie wouldn’t trade places with any of them. She was the first person – and for a few minutes more the only person – to stand upon the surface of Mercury.

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

October 12, 2008

A Liter of Puppies

Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.

“Are you all atwitter for tomorrow’s debate?”

Tom sipped his coffee, then set his cup on the table. Looking around the bookstore café he sighed. “You know, I think I’m finally sick of this election.”

Jeremy nodded. “Welcome to the club. But political rants are your bread and butter.”

“I know.”

“So what was the final straw?”

Taking another sip, Tom replied, “I think it’s just the realization that Obama will be the next President. So why do we have to put up with all this crap for the next three weeks?”

“There could be an October Surprise.”

Tom shrugged. “True, but I don’t think there’s anything that could make a difference.” After a pause he went on, “I think part of it is … I’m sure McCain is a great guy. I have the greatest respect for those who’ve served their country and I wanted to vote for him in 2000, but now … it seems he’s no longer trying to get people to vote for him, but to get people not to vote for Obama.”

“Politicians do that all the time.”

“And people hate and distrust politicians all the time. Could there be a relationship?”

Before Jeremy could reply, Tom held up his hand. “Don’t get me started.”

Jeremy smiled. “You’re already started. Your foot’s just on the brake.”

“Well, don’t make me take my foot off and run you over.” After a short pause, Tom pointed at Jeremy and jokingly threatened, “Because I will.”

Jeremy laughed. “Fine, fine.” He sipped his coffee, then said, “Something I found amusing the other day.”

Tom sat back in his chair and stated, “This should be good.”

Ignoring the bait, Jeremy asked, “You know those cheap, wooden chairs I have?”


“Well, the legs on one of them kept coming apart, so the other day I decided to try to fix it. Long story short, I fixed the legs but ended up breaking the rest of the chair.”

Tom snorted and received a glare from Jeremy. “Sorry.” Leaning forward, Tom said, “Please continue with your tale. I’m … on the edge of my seat.”

Jeremy continued the glare for a moment, then muttered, “Asshole.”

“I’ve been hanging out with you too long.”

Both chuckled.

“Anyway,” Jeremy went on, “instead of going to a store and buying a new one and send my money to China, I decided to buy American.”

“How patriotic.”

“Plus it’s cheaper.”

“How miserly.”

“So I was looking in the ‘Furniture for sale’ section in the classifieds. In the next column over was the ‘Pets’ section.”

Jeremy paused to take a sip of coffee. “You know how sometimes – if you’re not looking right at something – if you see it out of the corner of your eye, you don’t read it correctly?”

Nodding, Tom replied, “Yeah.”

“Well, somebody was looking for a good home for a ‘litter of puppies,’ but in my mind … I dropped a ‘T.’”

For a second, Tom sat looking at his friend, then it hit. “A liter of puppies?”

“That’s just what I thought it said. There wasn’t a typo in the ad or anything.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“But it got me thinking. That could be a good title for a book.”

Tom furrowed his brow. “What kind of book would you title, A liter of puppies?”

“A book about the importance of reading through everything you write. I mean, a liter of puppies is not something that would be caught by a spell checker. That’s one of those things you’d have to find on your own.”

Tom was silent for a moment, then admitted, “You have a point.”

“And I was thinking for the cover you could have a picture of a blender full of puppy heads.”

“You sick fuck.”

“Photoshopped. Photoshopped puppy heads,” Jeremy said, a little too loud because he received some odd looks from the people at the surrounding tables.

“Sure, sure.” Tom stopped chuckling to coldly say, “You sick bastard.”

Shaking his head, Jeremy said, “I’m not going to live that down, am I?”

“Nope. Why a blender full of ‘photoshopped’ puppy heads?”

“Because books need to have covers that make people want to pick them up and …”

“… and throw it through the living room window of the author,” Tom finished. “Are you going to have a ‘PETA disapproved’ sticker on it as well?”

Jeremy stroked his beard. “That’s a good idea.”

Tom took a sip of coffee. Shaking his head he said, “You need to get out more often.”

“Maybe so,” Jeremy said, “but let me ask you this: would you rather talk about politics or puppy heads in a blender?”

Tom began to reply, but stopped himself. He set his coffee cup down and thought for a moment. Finally, he said, “You know, that’s a tough call.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

October 19, 2008

They Can’t “Win”

Letter to the editor, November 10, 2008

An ignored key to Obama’s win

I hate to rain on the liberal’s parade (not really) but while they are carrying on like Obama is the best thing since sliced bread, I have to point out a key to his “victory.” I and many conservatives stayed home on Election Day. Not, as the media would have you believe because we knew we were beaten, but because there wasn’t a candidate who deserved our vote. If there had been a real conservative on the ticket instead of a flip-flopping maverick, then the election would have been a whole other ballgame.

And before anyone can lecture me on how voting is a chance to make our voices heard, I need only point out to the GOP that when the conservatives go out and vote – as in 2000 and 2004 – we give them victories. When we stay home, they are defeated. Our voices have been heard.

Stan Kranick

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

October 26, 2008

When Did That Happen?

With his third cup of coffee for the day, Morgan Foltz sat down at his desk with the latest edition of his newspaper, a couple of his competitors, and a few national papers. After an hour of study, Morgan picked up his phone and dialed his assistant Joyce Martin. When she answered, all he said was, “I need to see you.”

A minute later, she entered his office with her BlackBerry in hand. “Yes, Sir?”

“We’re going to have a problem,” he began. Pacing behind his desk he explained, “Next Monday we’ll have the latest in the campaigns. On Tuesday we’ll have the latest latest, and we’ll encourage all of our readers to get out and vote. Wednesday, we’ll have the results – hopefully – and initial reactions. But Thursday? We could have person-on-the-street reactions and more of an in-depth analysis, but everybody,” he jabbed the pile of the other papers on his desk, “is going to be doing that.

“What we need to do, is find the next big story, and be the first to jump on it right after the election. So, what I want you to do, is see if you can find where the next big story will come from. Wars, destruction, the usual.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Sitting down, he asked, “So, is there anything big going on in the world now?”

“Well,” Joyce checked her BlackBerry. “The planet Mars exploded yesterday.”

Morgan was about to shake his cup to see if there was any coffee left but stopped. “What? How?”

“Nobody knows. But scientists expect the Krentians are behind it. They, of course, deny having anything to do with it.”

“The … the who?”

“The Krentians. The aliens who made Contact with humanity about a month ago.”


Joyce paused as though she couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard. “Yeah. They’ve been watching us for centuries, but they had to wait until we could pass one of the five tests for Contact.”

“Test for Contact?”

“Yes. Until a species has managed to accomplish one of the tests, they are considered too primitive to join Galactic Society.”

Morgan sat silently for a moment. “Oh.”

“We passed a test when the team in Germany demonstrated their time machine.”

“Time … machine?”

“Actually,” Joyce checked her BlackBerry, “The Real Jurassic Park is set to open next Friday in Brazil, assuming all the legal issues have been taken care of by then. It’s not as big a story as the election, but it might work for a day or two.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

November 2, 2008

It Ain’t Over

November 8, 2028

When Officer Joe Brown arrived at the station ten minutes late, his partner Will Newsom said, “Hey Joe, about time. I was starting to worry.”

“Sorry, I’m just …. Last night was really depressing.”

Will sighed. “Come on man, it’s not like it’s the end of the world.”

“No, just our way of life.”

Will shook his head. “I knew it. No matter how the vote went, one side or the other would be bitching and moaning about it for years to come.”

“I’m not ‘bitching and moaning.’ How are Sara and I supposed to raise our son in a country that lets homosexuals get married?”

For a few seconds Will only looked at his partner. “What difference does it make?”

“What difference does it make?”

“Yes.” Before Joe could say anything, Will held his hands up. “Okay, okay. I realize you and Sara have a moral objection to same-sex marriages. But hey, you guys also have moral objections to drugs, alcohol, violent emersion games, and thump music. Will you guys change the way you raise Michael just because some of those things are legal?”

“Well … no.”

“Exactly. I mean it’s not … this morning I heard an interview of that bonehead webevangelist Chapman who acted as if now the gays will flip some switch turning every child in the country gay. If you believe something that moronic, I may just have to shoot you.”

At first Joe did not say anything, but when Will rested his hand on his sidearm, Joe spoke up. “I don’t believe that.”

“Just making sure.”

“It’s just … you try to raise your kids right, but with the government teaching them something else it makes it much harder.”

Will rolled his eyes. “Do you know how many disreputable things our government has done over the years? Yet some people still turn out just fine.”

Joe sighed. “I guess.”

“Hey, you want my advice?”


“Grow a pair.”


“You heard me. Grow a pair and be a parent, or roll over and let society with its ‘evil ways’ raise your kid. Those are your only two choices.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

November 9, 2008


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The mailboxes in the apartment building where Joe lived were in a small lobby between the front doors and the elevator. As he returned home from work he saw one of his neighbors stop, pull out his mailbox key, and check for mail. This brought a little smile to Joe’s face which turned to a frown when the man – realizing the mail was delivered that day – slammed his mailbox shut and mumbled, “Lousy Veterans Day.”

The other man hit the button for the elevator and both men exchanged nods. While they waited Joe wondered why the other man was so upset about missing out on mail for one day. Did he really want to see the supermarket fliers? Was he looking forward to receiving a bill or junk mail? What could be so important that having it delayed a day could provoke such annoyance?

The elevator opened and both men entered and selected their floors. It’s Veterans Day, Joe thought. Going a day without mail is a small sacrifice compared to getting shot at. Joe felt like he should say something to the man, about how on Veterans Day we should put honoring our veterans above our petty need for mail. But what did I do today? Joe asked himself. He hadn’t planted any flags on graves. He hadn’t thanked and shook the hand of a veteran or current member of the military. He had just gone to work and did his usual thing. Thinking about it, he didn’t know if he even knew any veterans. There had been some guys he went to high school with who went into the military, but he had lost touch with them years ago.

Joe had often heard how countless men and women have died for us to have our freedoms. As the elevator stopped and the other man got off, Joe shook his head. Apparently those freedoms included being upset over not getting mail and being too much of a coward to not saying anything about it.

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

November 16, 2008

Wandering Fingers

“Did you have any problem following him?”

“No. He gave no indication he knew I was watching him.”

“Good, that’s good. Is he … is he cheating on me?”

(pause) “No.”

“Oh thank God. But what does he do all day?”

“Here’s a list of his activities last Wednesday. From the two weeks I watched him this is very representative of his normal day.”

7:30 AM Wakes up 7:31-7:56 Eats breakfast, checks all seven email accounts, checks hits on his websites, blogs, MySpace, Facebook, and eDudes profiles. 7:57-8:01 Prepares for work 8:02 Leaves for work 8:08 Arrives at work (8 minutes late) 8:09-11:59 Works 12:01 PM Leaves for home 12:06 Arrives at home 12:07-12:59 Eats lunch, checks email accounts, searches writing and sf blogs to comment on 1:00 Leaves for work 1:05 Arrives at work (5 minutes late) 1:06-4:50 Works 4:53 Leaves for home (7 minutes early) 5:02 Arrives at home 5:03-7:19 Replies to emails and the comments on his blogs and various social networking profiles 7:21-8:06 Eats dinner and goes through his bookcases adding to his Shelfari profile 8:07-8:53 Goes for walk to “clear his head” 8:55-9:06 Showers 9:07 Opens a beer 9:08-10:12 Types up blog, sends out bulletins and tweets, comments on more blogs 10:13-10:56 Watches two South Park episodes online 10:57-11:15 Checks email one last time 11:16-11:20 Prepares for bed 11:21 Goes to bed

Sigh. “I see.”

“He’s not cheating on you by writing another novel, he’s …”

“He’s …. You’re right. There isn’t another novel, but he’s writing emails and comments and blogs …. He’s writing everything but me.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

November 23, 2008

Coming With Forks

“The in-laws are coming. The in-laws are coming.”

“Okay everyone, calm down.” General Turkey looked over his troops. “We knew this day would come. It will do us no good if we panic.”

Once everyone had settled down, Colonel Ham asked, “What’s your battle plan, Sir?”

“We’ll try to hit them in waves. The first in will be the Cookie Unit.”

Lieutenant Chocolate Chip stepped forward and saluted. “Sir, on behalf of my unit, I wish to thank you for giving us the honor of being first into battle.”

The General returned the salute. “I only wish there was more honor in your task.”

“Nevertheless,” the Lieutenant replied, “we’ll do our best.”

“I know you will.” Looking back to the rest of his troops, the General continued, “Once the Cookies have broken through, the rest of us will follow. The spearhead of our attack will consist of myself, Colonel Ham, and Major Mashed, with Majors Gravy and Stuffing in support.”

“Here, here,” Colonel Ham piped in, while Majors Mashed and Stuffing said only, “Very well.”

After a moment Colonel Ham asked, “Major Gravy, your thoughts?”

For a few seconds there was silence, then Major Gravy blurbled in reply.

“Um, yes. Well said. While we make our advance,” General Turkey hurried on, “Lieutenant’s Casserole, Sweet, Peas and Carrots will protect our flanks.”

“What about us?” Lieutenant Roll asked.

“Deploy your men to fill any gaps.”

“Yes Sir.”

Taking a look around at the assembled troops, General Turkey asked, “Do you all know your missions?”

A chorus of “Yes Sir” greeted him.

“Good. Now, I won’t lie to you. Some of us will be lucky enough to live on as leftovers for a few days, but all of us will take heavy casualties today. But know this, every bite they take of us will be one less bite they’ll be able to take of our precious pies. Earlier I spoke with Apple and Cherry and His Eminence the Pumpkin, and they wanted you to know that they thank you – from the bottom of their crusts – for your courage today.”

The General let that soak in, then cried, “Lieutenant Chocolate Chip.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Take your men in.”

“Yes Sir. Cookies, front.”

Once the Cookies were lined up in ranks of Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip with Walnuts, Chocolate Chip without Walnuts, and Sugar, Lieutenant Chocolate Chip cried out, “For the Pies!”

Watching the Cookies charge, General Turkey put a wing to his breast and whispered, “Such giblets.”

(On a serious note, I wish to dedicate this story to Preston & Steve’s Camp Out For Hunger 2008.)

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

November 30, 2008

Preston & Steve’s Camp Out For Hunger 2008

This is a photo essay of my trip to the Preston & Steve’s Camp Out For Hunger 2008. Click here to read it.

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

December 7, 2008

Your Gods are False

Drawing his sword, Tal told the other man, “I’ll give you this, for an idiot, you are brave.”

The other man – a monk carrying a large wooden sign – replied, “My bravery comes from my faith in Lepluc.”

Tal spat. “It’s bad enough you cut your blasphemy into that wood, but don’t speak that name to me.”

“Why?” the monk asked. He then recited the words carved into the wood, “Lepluc is the only God; all others are false.”

“Wrong,” Tal stated as he put the tip of his sword to the monk’s throat. “The only Gods are Magan and Zel. If we weren’t on sacred ground, I’d cut your throat and offer your blood up to the true Gods.”

The monk smiled. “As you said, this is sacred ground which means violence is forbidden, so I don’t know what you hope to accomplish with your sword.”

With a snarl, Tal sheathed his sword. Glancing at the monk’s sign he gave a humorless laugh. “It seems fitting for a pauper monk to carry such a sign, whereas the followers of the real Gods can afford this.” He waved his hand towards the imposing stone sculpture of Magan and Zel creating the world. For countless eons the universe lay in chaos as the two endlessly fought one another. What one built the other destroyed. It wasn’t until they set aside their differences and worked together that the world was made.

Again the monk smiled. “I’ll admit, that is a beautiful sculpture, but Lepluc is not impressed with simple artwork. My fellow monks thought it best to just state the simple truth.”

“The simple truth is that you blasphemers are trying to destroy our most holy holiday commemorating Magan and Zel creating the world.”

“I thought your most holy holiday was the Feast of Greubuk, next spring.”

Tal had nothing to say to that.

“Besides,” the monk said, “you are the real blasphemers. This,” he tapped his sign, “is to commemorate Lepluc bringing knowledge to humanity. Even with the lie of your gods, you can’t escape the importance of this time.”

“Enough,” Tal shouted. Drawing his sword again he held it to the monk’s throat. “Your god is false.”

“No,” the monk shouted back, “your gods are false.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

December 14, 2008

The Duh Age

Author’s note: This is a Tom and Jeremy story.

As soon as Tom was inside the bookstore, he stomped his feet and brushed the wet snow from his coat. Shivering, he walked into the café and saw his writing partner Jeremy sitting at a table deep in thought.

When Tom hung his over the back of the chair opposite him, Jeremy leaned forward. Tom held up his hand and said, “Wait until I have coffee.”

Jeremy nodded and sat back.

A few minutes later, Tom returned with his coffee. Sitting down he asked, “So, what dreary thoughts besot you this … wonderful evening?” before taking a sip.

“I do believe,” Jeremy replied, “that humanity is getting stupider.”

Tom thought for a moment. “How, specifically?”

Leaning forward, Jeremy explained, “If you went back twenty, thirty thousand years and met up with our distant ancestor … Ung on a night like this, his thoughts would be,” here Jeremy deepened his voice and spoke slowly, “Ice fall from sky. Stay in dry cave.”

Returning to his normal voice, Jeremy asked, “But look at us. We were both in our warm, dry, brick caves, but we went out into the cold, wet, night so we could come to this warm, dry, brick cave. Why did we do that?”

“It couldn’t be for the company.”

“Of course not.”

Both men smiled and chuckled.

Tom waited a few heartbeats before answering, “Because we’re stupid.”


Tom took a sip of coffee. “Was I stupid this morning when I left my home cave for the corporate cave?”

Jeremy sat back. “That’s where it gets complicated. The primary factor for you heading out to the corporate cave this morning wasn’t stupidity.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“The primary reason,” Jeremy continued, “is that you – like millions of others – have been enslaved by the Holy Greenback.”

Tom had been about to take a sip of coffee, but he set his cup down on the table. “I’d think I’d rather be stupid.”

“Well, were you enslaved because you were too stupid to escape it, or is enslavement a natural calamity like an earthquake you can’t escape?”

With his chin in his hand, Tom thought for almost a minute. “Going back to, Ung was his name?”

“I believe so.”

“He wasn’t enslaved to the Holy Greenback, but was he enslaved to clams, or shiny pebbles?”

Jeremy stroked his beard for a few seconds. “Well, I’d say it was Mrs. Ung who was enslaved to the shiny pebbles. Always demanding bigger, shinier ones.”

Tom laughed.

“Actually,” Jeremy went on, “it would probably be Mrs. Ung who would look at a night like this and decide that it had been too long since Ung had taken her out for mammoth. And since Ung was the progressive type, he didn’t just bash her over the head with his club. Instead he rolled his eyes, went ‘Fine,’ and took her out into the cold and wet night where she started complaining about the cold and the wet.”

Before Jeremy got too much momentum going, Tom held up his hand and asked, “Are you implying that women are the source of all of men’s problems?”

Jeremy sat for a moment before wiping away an imaginary tear. “You don’t know how happy it makes me to hear you say that.”

Tom laughed then stated, “Oh, Helen wanted me to wish you Happy Holidays.”

“Tell her to go to hell.” Both men laughed for a bit, then Jeremy waved his hand. “Kidding. Thank her, and the same.”

Tom lifted his coffee cup and they toasted the holidays.

After taking a sip, Jeremy said, “This will probably get me kicked out of the Bitter Divorced Men Club …”

“Not only are you the President …”

“I’m also a member … but I don’t think women are the source of all men’s problems because I think women are as stupid as us. I mean, look at who they marry.”

Tom thought for a moment, then conceded the point. “But are humans getting stupider or have we always been stupid?”

“Hmm.” Jeremy stroked his beard for a bit. “I think we’ve always been stupid, but progress has made for bigger and stupider stupidity. I mean, years ago the village idiot was confined to their village. Nowadays, they have their own TV show.”

Tom chuckled, then asked, “‘Who’s more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?’”

“See,” Jeremy pointed at Tom. “Obi Wan was wise, but he lived a long time ago.”

For awhile both men were silent. Then Jeremy said, “I wonder if you can say we’ve entered a new age? There was the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Steam Age, the Atomic Age, the Space Age, the Information Age, but has all that been leading to, I don’t know, the Duh Age?”

Tom shrugged. “Possibly. But remember, ‘In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’”

Stroking his beard Jeremy replied, “True. But in the valley of the stupid, the smart man may be … dinner.”

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

December 21, 2008

Future Letters

Dear Santa,

What I want this year for Christmas depends on what mom and dad get me. You’ll have to ask them what they are getting me. You can reach them at momdad@miller137.fam. I want the new Lambda 6 game system and the X500 game card. I need both, so maybe you can get me what they don’t.

I’ve tried really, really hard to be good this year, but it is tough with David. I know it’s wrong to say I hope he gets a bag full of coal, but I would laugh if he got coal and I got a Lambda 6. I would be nice and let him play with it, even though he doesn’t let me play with his stuff.

I have a question. How do you deliver toys to the kids in the Lunar Colony? David says the kids on the moon are all naughty so they don’t get toys, but if they are naughty, won’t they get coal? Bobby Johnson at school says there is a wormhole connecting the North Pole with the North Pole of the moon, so you can get to the moon in a few seconds. But how do the reindeer fly in space? Do you have spacesuits for them? But Jen Conroy says you sent a clone of yourself to the moon, but instead of reindeer and sleigh he uses a rocket powered rover to deliver the toys. I asked my dad and he said he wasn’t sure, but knew you would figure something out. If it’s not too big a secret, I would love to know. If you do need spacesuits for the reindeer, do you have a photo of Rudolph in one? I think that would be funny.

Love, Tim Miller

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

Top of page Steve’s Homepage
Weekly Stories Main Page

For the week of:

December 28, 2008

Lessons from Buddy

I had considered writing a story for this week, but in the end I decided to take a lesson from our dog Buddy.

This time of year is sooo tough on him.

Top of page Steve’s Homepage