Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Halloween Short Story

Remote Control

I awoke in total darkness. No light shone in the room through the window on the wall opposite my bed. The room was likewise shrouded in silence as if the lack of illumination had muffled even the slightest sound. Of course, that’s we went there. That’s why we bought the cabin in the woods. To leave the sights and sounds of the city behind us and “get back to our essential selves.” That was how Rhonda put it. She’d also recently signed up for a pilates class, started watching Desperate Housewives reruns and drinking in the afternoons. I wasn’t concerned until the exercise class thing. That’s the thing that got my attention. Rhonda and I had been married for nine years and, honestly, the heat had faded. My job takes me away from home for long stretches of time and I worried she hadn’t launched her new fitness kick with me in mind. Better safe than sorry.

The cabin had been her idea. She thought it would bring us closer together if we could spend large quantities of uninterrupted time together. So, on one of my few weekends home, we drove into the mountains, found one we liked and bought it. The place had two rooms and few amenities; no running water nor indoor plumbing. No electricity. The kitchen consisted of a propane stove, a sink and an icebox. Not a refrigerator, an actual ice box. For heat, there was a huge fireplace in the main room. And that was it. I thought it might be a little Spartan for Rhonda’s tastes, but she loved it as soon as she saw it. I think a lot of the appeal for her was the location. The closest neighbor was miles away. The glorified path masquerading as a driveway posed a challenge even for our Hummer. Drive-by traffic wouldn’t be a problem. The only hat-tip to civilization on which Rhonda insisted was a ceiling fan in the bedroom. No problem. On another free weekend, I wired and installed the fan, which got its power from a small diesel generator outside the window. I even included a three speed switch on the wall, so I wouldn’t have to climb onto the bed and tug on a string to change it. I was serious about my wife’s needs. Tranquility. At last.
All of this suited me just fine. I wasn’t much of an outdoorsman, but I wouldn’t turn down a chance to piss in the woods for three weeks every fall. So when I woke up in pitch-black silence, I wasn’t surprised.

My difficulty staying awake did surprise me, though. My eyelids felt heavy as if I’d been drugged. The two glasses of wine I’d had with dinner must have affected me more than I thought. I tried to roll over and light the candle on my bedside table, but found I could not. I tossed and turned so in my sleep that I’d wound myself up in the bedclothes. When I attempted to dislodge myself I came to a nasty realization. I wasn’t trapped beneath the sheets; I was strapped to the bed.

“Nice to see you’re finally awake.” Rhonda’s voice drifted through the darkness. “I suppose I shouldn’t have used as much sedative as I did. I might have killed you.”

“What’s going on, Ronnie?” I asked. I tried to sound calm and authoritative. Instead, my words came out panicked and frightened. “Why am I tied to the bed?”

“To keep you from running away, of course.”

I suppose I should have responded to her words, but I didn’t. Words failed me. Hell, thoughts failed me. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the situation enough to understand what a mess I’d landed in. I though the wine caused my mental malaise. On the other hand, there aren’t many experiences one can have that will prepare you for waking up and discovering the woman you love has gone insane.
I heard movement followed by the zip of a match striking against its box. The flame erupted in the darkness, illuminating the entire room. I watched Rhonda light the scented candle on the table next to her then blow out the match. After the prolonged black out, I squinted into the feeble light of Fresh-Baked Cookies.

“I don’t understand, Ronnie,” I said. “Why are you doing this? In fact, what exactly are you doing?”

“We’re finished,” she said. Simple. To the point.

“But I love you.”

“And I haven’t loved you in years.”

“I see. So what’s your plan? Tie me up and run away with your new lover? I would have expected more from you, Rhonda.”

She laughed. I wish I could say there was something cold and evil about the sound, but there wasn’t. It was joyous and full of life as always. She stood - candle in hand - and walked across the room to the ceiling fan switch. She flipped the switch and the blades started to move.

“Do you know how many nights I lay alone on our bed, waiting for you to come home but knowing that you wouldn’t? I used to lay there and watch the fan go round and round for hours on end. Sometimes, I’d dream about it, forever stuck in the same pattern, its momentum causing it to strain at its moorings, never going anywhere except around in the same circle one more time. And no one ever noticed it. Except for me.” Her eyes flicked to meet mine. “Did your mother ever tell you not to stick your fingers in the fan because it could cut them off? Mine did. Then it occurred to that you could sharpen the blades of a fan until they were like razors. Spinning razors. Right above your head.”

She turned the switch to medium and the blades moved faster. The candlelight flickered and I could feel the breeze on my brow. The blades reflected the dim light. They looked sharp.

“All you would have to do is loosen the screws at the base, tilt the fan ever so slightly and who knows what might happen?” She turned the switch again and the blades turned faster yet. “You could cut your fingers off. It could even be fa-“
She never finished her sentence. At full speed, the fan rocked and jolted its base against the ceiling, loosening the grasp of screw in wood. The fan rocked wildly. One of the blades struck the ceiling and snapped off. The broken piece of razor-sharp plastic caromed across the room, striking Rhonda. She fell to the floor, out of my line of vision.

“Ronnie? Ronnie, are you okay?” I craned my neck, trying to see her. All I saw was a dark river of blood slowly spreading across the floor. I flopped back on the bed in triumph as my neck muscles complained about their poor treatment. Ronnie had never been good with tools.



The bedspread caught fire. Above me, the fan still limped along, its deadly broken blades jerked back and forth unbalanced as they fanned the flames on the bed. Panicked, I jerked and tore at my bindings to no avail. Finally, I knew it would be one or the other. As I waited for my fate my only thought was this:

I should have gotten a fan with a remote.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The smell of demons in the morning

Excerpt from Dead of Winter:

I took Father Joe’s face in my hands and smacked him once
to make sure he was listening. I wasn’t going to have time to repeat

“Pay attention,” I said. “We don’t have much time and I don’t
know how long I can hold off the demon. You have to get Drew.”
I pointed to my son. “Take him, then go across the hall and get
Harry. Do it as fast as you can then get out of the house. Don’t
wait for me. Understand?”

He nodded though his eyes were still glazed. He reached under
his jacket and pulled something out.

“Wait,” he said, pressing the thing into my hand. “Holy water.”

Sure. Why not?

“Thanks. Now go. Hurry!”

Father Joe got up just as Remiel unleashed his fury on both
of us. I tried to protect Father Joe but I knew I wouldn’t be able
to shield him entirely. He was going to take an awful hit and I
couldn’t stop it.

From out of nowhere, Hutch came running across the room.
He grinned from ear to ear and looked as determined as an incontinent
cat in the Sahara Desert. He let out a howl and leapt
onto Remiel’s back. Then he bit the demon on the neck, vampirestyle.
It was Remiel’s turn to howl. When he opened his mouth,
Hutch hooked his index finger inside the demon’s open mouth
and pulled. I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous, a ghost miner
pulling a grade school prank against a shape-shifting demon. It
was probably much like the first human in history to eat a chicken
egg. At first it was something you would only do on a dare, but
then it you realized it was a good idea. And it would go great with
bacon. Hutch fought dirty but I wasn’t going to complain about
it. His attack knocked the demon off balance just enough that
his metaphysical cannon blast missed Father Joe and slammed
into me instead.

Everything went dark. The next time I opened my eyes, Father
Joe and Drew were gone and Hutch rode Remiel around the
room like a demonic bucking bronco. He still had the demon
hooked and was sort of steering him around the room. It was
the funniest damn thing I’d seen in a long time and I laughed.
I couldn’t help it.

Hutch looked up at the sound and grinned. “I got a tiger by
the tail here, Allysen. I got him but I can’t let go. What should
I do?”

“Hang on,” I yelled to him. “I’ve got an idea.”

He nodded. “I told you this would be excitin’, didn’t I?” Then
he frowned and smacked Remiel on top of the head. “Dammit,
bitch, I told you to quit bitin’ me.”

I pulled the top off of the bottle of holy water Father Joe gave
me and motioned for Hutch to bring the demon closer. When he
did, I tossed the water at the creature. Remiel shrieked and hissed
giving Hutch time to jump off. He rolled on his shoulder, stood
and brushed himself off while the demon continued to scream.
“Are you okay?” I asked Hutch.

“Am I okay? Damn, girl, I haven’t had this much fun in years.”

Dead of Winter available now from Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Also available in other ebook formats from

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A New Short Story

I have a story to tell you.

I know that seems like an odd way to begin a story, by telling you that I’m going to tell you one. Honestly, I hardly ever do things like that. I tend to be very straightforward and direct in getting to my point and I hardly ever drift off topic. It’s just how I am. I remember one time when I was talking to this guy and he just completely changed the subject right in the middle of the …

Wait. I’m doing it, aren’t I? Getting distracted, I mean.

Okay, you caught me. I lied before when I said I always got to my point. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I get distracted. That can happen when you are omniscient. You just pick up so many interesting stories that you want to tell. Sometimes they all just want to come pouring out of your brain at once. Hey, I bet you want to know how I came to be omniscient. I wasn’t always this way, you know. I was just an ordinary person doing ordinary things. However, one of those ordinary things turned out to be quite extraordinary and … I did it again, didn’t I? I suppose that particular story can wait for another time. Until then, let’s just say something happened and here we all are.

Did you realize that was the way it all happened? All of this, I mean? That something very ordinary happened and here we all are. I just happened to see it as it unfolded. Being omniscient is not without its perks.

It began in the year 2250 in the bedroom of a young man named Charlie Lane. Charlie was twenty-six years old and lived in the basement of his mother’s house. He’d flunked out of college as a nineteen-year-old freshman, moved back home and stayed there. Although he was an intelligent man, school wasn’t for him. Charlie preferred to sit in his room at night, poring through old books and tinkering with whatever mechanical device might strike his fancy.

Most days, Charlie rode the train home from his job and had dinner with his mother before retiring to his room to read his book. It wasn’t really a book, of course. It was an electronic screen that looked like a book. Long before Charlie was born, it had been decided that the resources required to make paper were more valuable as an energy source. Every industry that used paper was required to find another medium. Books had been on the way out for some time, anyway, so it was easy enough to convert those that were left to digital files which could be downloaded to any sort of personal information device. Nostalgia, however, has always been fashionable and there were those who wanted the look of an actual book. Charlie was one of those.

His latest obsession was time travel. For Charlie, the idea was more than a mere schoolboy crush on the unattainable. Time travel no longer existed only in cheap science fiction paperbacks, bought in a corner drugstore and left discarded in some motel room like the byproduct of some tawdry literary affair. It was real. For hundreds of years, people dreamed of ways to achieve it and finally someone did. In the early twenty-first century, the first traveler went forward in time. His name was Richard Duncan and he made history on September 17, 2032. Of course, no one knew it had happened until 2063, when he arrived poof! in the middle of a community theater performance of Macbeth in Newton, Kansas. His appearance caused quite a commotion because he landed in the middle of the stage during Lady Macbeth’s dagger soliloquy. Did I mention that he was also completely naked? After the wardrobe people found him a pair of pants and the police finally left, Richard Duncan was the talk of the entire planet. Originally, he’d planned to surprise his wife the next morning at breakfast but arithmetic was never his strong suit and he’d forgotten to carry a one. Amazing how one tiny mistake can set back the progress of human discovery by thirty-one years, isn’t it?

Duncan’s discovery set the scientific community atwitter. Everyone was suddenly interested in this new discovery (especially his wife who had wondered why he was thirty-one years late to breakfast). There was, however, one catch. Time travel was a one-way street. It only went forward and there was no way back. Once you left, you disappeared from history until you showed up again. This problem meant that time travel was not the boon to the tourism industry many hoped it would be. Only a few people dared to do it.

But the human drive to question and explore remained undaunted. Many continued to explore the possibility that people could travel backward in time as well. This was the concept that captured the imagination of Charlie Lane. He read voraciously on the subject, devouring everything from textbooks and academic articles to conspiracy theories and journal entries by people who were most surely raving lunatics.

One evening Charlie lay on his bed, sifting through his daily readings when one peculiar article caught his attention. It was an old story. The date on his reader said 1986. The story came from a newspaper article about an automobile accident. The accident occurred in the middle of a clear, sunny summer day on a long, straight stretch of highway. On this meager stretch of freeway, a pickup truck collided with a pedestrian. There were several witnesses to the accident and they all agreed the pedestrian had appeared out of nowhere. In the old days, vehicles didn’t travel as quickly as they do now. Why, it was not uncommon for a trip to take hours, despite how ludicrous and time-wasting such a journey would seem now. Not only were those vehicles slow, they were also large and heavy, particularly the truck in question. The result, of course, was that there was very little left of the pedestrian to scoop off the pavement, let alone to question about the purpose and origin of his trip. The only artifact discovered (other than the mess of flesh and bone that makes up the average human) was a small silver bracelet engraved with the initials CJL. More than anything, this drew Charlie’s attention to the story for his initials were also CJL. Almost. In reality, Charlie’s middle name was Lawrence, so his initials were actually CLL, but sometimes the imagination holds more sway with the brain than logic and the small matter of a different middle name meant little to Charlie. For a few days, Charlie even imagined that he was the man in the story. The fact that the man was dead was academic to him. It was the man’s journey - not its end - that mattered to Charlie.

For days, the dead man’s story took center stage in Charlie’s daydreams, but eventually logic once again intervened in his thoughts. The question that kept intruding on his thoughts was this: From where had the mysterious pedestrian come? People rarely materialize out of thin air and those who do tend to take care not to do so in the path of an oncoming truck. Finally, Charlie concluded, that the man arrived at his final destination by accident. Like Richard Duncan, the man must have forgotten to carry the one.

That realization led to another flash of insight for Charlie Lane. If the man had forgotten to carry the one, there must be some set of numbers that led him to that nearly deserted stretch of highway. A smart man could surely intuit those missing numbers, fix the dead man’s mistake and, thusly, correct his fatal error. And so began the turning of various combinations of numbers round and round in Charlie Lane’s head until his mother asked him to fix her dishwasher, which had stopped cleaning cups and plates and taken to destroying them instead. Because he was good with his hands as well as his mind, Charlie obliged and forgot about time travel for a while.

This brief interlude in Charlie’s mental aerobics allows you and I to take a brief time out as well. The funny thing about time is that it exists all around us and happens all at once. That is to say, what happened yesterday is in the past but is still happening. It’s just that instead of happening right now, it’s now happening yesterday. Confused? Don’t worry. I used to be confused about it, too, but then I became omniscient. Since I am and you are not, you’ll just have to take my word for it that that’s the way things are, have always been and still continue to be. Time happens. Always. And if you think about it too much, you’ll give yourself a terrific headache.

Let us return instead to 1986, when a mysterious man appeared in the middle of a highway only to make a high speed union with a half-ton pickup truck. Let’s not focus on the event itself because that would be too gruesome to revisit. Let us go, rather, to the day after the accident and a journey of a different kind that ended (though some might say, with a wink and a nod, it began) in exactly the same location.

Young boys always look for things in their environment to provide their minds with the most stimulation or, at least, to afford them with the most entertaining form of destruction they can find. In 1986, most young boys were limited to television or 24-bit graphic video games for such trivialities. Imagine if you will, the sort of excitement the possibility of actual carnage engendered in the minds of two twelve-year old boys named Johnny and C.R. (and by that, I mean one was named Johnny and the other was named C.R.).

Johnny lived only a few miles from the site of the accident and his father had been one of the witnesses interviewed by the police and the local newspaper. When the man arrived home that evening, he was also interviewed by his wife, which was how young Johnny came to know of the story. Early the next morning, not long after his father left for work, Johnny pulled his worn backpack onto his narrow shoulders and pedaled his pink Huffy (an embarrassing hand-me-down from his older sister) the three-quarters of a mile to C.R.’s house.

Instead of knocking on the front door and waiting impatiently for C.R.’s mother to fetch him, Johnny went directly to his friend’s bedroom window, opened it and climbed in. From the window, he fell directly on top of a sleeping C.R. After some commotion and a little explaining as to why he’d sneaked in through the window like a common burglar, Johnny told C.R. about the accident. No sooner had the details poured forth from Johnny’s mouth than the two of them devised a plan spend the day on an expedition to view the aftermath. In a mere thirty minutes, the two boys had packed lunches of peanut butter sandwiches and Country Time lemonade, packed them in their metal lunch boxes (Star Trek for Johnny, Star Wars for C.R.) and began pedaling their bikes down the long, dusty dirt road toward the main highway.

After biking for five miles, the boys stashed their bikes in the underbrush beside the road and climbed through the barbed wire fence around Mr. McIntyre’s pasture. Then they sprinted the quarter mile across the meadow to avoid the deranged Shetland pony that lived there. On the other side of the meadow, they climbed quickly and breathlessly through another barbed wire fence and ended up standing in the deep drainage ditch that ran alongside the main highway. A short walk later, they stood on the shoulder next to the scene of the accident.

Johnny emerged from the ditch first. He knelt in the tall, thin weeds as they swayed gently in the summer breeze and gazed at the scene. Johnny felt the heat rising from the dark asphalt and screwed up his face in disgust for the shimmering warmth brought the smell of death to his nostrils. The country clean-up crew had done their best to remove the victim’s remains from the roadway, but the porous asphalt still held enough residue in its crooks and crannies to rot and stink under the blazing sun. The worn and faded highway still wore a long, pink streak that stretched some twenty-five feet along its length and ran parallel to the dull, tired center stripe.

As Johnny let his eyes run the length of the stain, he imagined the impact. Steel slammed against flesh and bones, where the latter knew no chance of survival. He wondered what that poor man had thought in his final moments. Had he known the totality of his life has come to this? Had he thought of his friends and family in his final seconds? How much pain did he feel? Did he think anything at all or was it no more than a quick flash of pain followed by nothingness? He wondered what the man’s life had been like and, if he’d had any final thoughts, the man felt he’d affected the world in some way. He wondered if he’d left his mark on the universe. Or if his life had been reduced to the same level as his death: Nothing more than a brief, faded streak on the black asphalt of time.

Johnny was a bright lad, but he was still a child and such thoughts were foreign to him. Even under the blistering midday sun, they chilled him.

C.R. appeared next to him in the grass and surveyed what remained of the carnage. His eyes grew wide and his jaw fell open. Then he uttered a single word:


That solitary syllable broke the spell and the pair of boys bounded out of the weeds. They examined the asphalt in excruciating detail (at least as excruciating as two twelve-year-old boys can muster) and when they grew bored with that, retired to the shade of a large oak tree that grew alongside the road. As they burrowed into their homemade lunches, a flash of light in the distance caught C.R.’s eye.

“Look,” he said, pointing to the bottom of the deep ditch.

Their food forgotten, the boys ran to investigate the light. When they reached its source, they were both excited to discover it had been caused by the reflection of sunlight off of the glass face of a wristwatch. As Johnny picked it up to examine it, he noticed an ominous brown stain on the leather strap. He shivered again as he realized it must have belonged to the dead man. He couldn’t help but feel a little relieved when C.R. snatched it from his hands.

“It don’t look like no watch I ever saw,” said C.R. as he turned it over in his hands. “There aren’t any hands on it, but it’s not digital, either. It looks like it’s a counter of some kind. Look. I can turn the dial all the way to zero.”

Johnny leaned over his friend’s shoulder and watched him tinker with the “watch.” C.R. set the counter to zero and then pushed a large button on the side. Then they waited for something to happen.

Nothing did.

“It’s probably broken,” Johnny sniffed with disdain. “Let’s take it home and smash it with a hammer.”

Off the two boys went, racing back across the pasture and pedaling back to their homes, out of our narrative forever. They went on to lead modest lives with modest spouses and modest children. If only they’d known what had really happened that day in the ditch. If only they’d known what they’d done, for indeed it was not nothing that happened when C.R. pushed the button on the watch. In fact, it was just the opposite.

What the boys had found was not a watch but a rudimentary time machine. I won’t bore you with the technical specifics, so let’s simply suffice it to say that the machine was capable of focusing a great deal of energy on a specific point. Think of the way a flashlight beam works, only in reverse. At the point of the device, energy is dispersed normally in widely scattered pattern. But, on the other end, the beam grows narrower, more focused, more powerful. At that point, it opens a hole in the fabric of time. All the wearer had to do was step through it and Bam! they’d be hit by a large truck in the middle of a highway. At least, that’s what happened to its original owner.

In the case of Johnny and C.R., however, the beam went much further than just a few centuries or even a few millennia. It went back all the way, all the way to zero. All the way back to the beginning, ending in a point of energy so intense and so powerful that it caused an infinitely small, infinitely dense pinpoint of matter to explode. If you were to witness such an event, you might describe it as a really big bang.

And here we are.

Funny how the universe works, isn’t it? Remember what I told you about doing too much thinking about the way time works. It just does. And, for Johnny and C.R., it just did.

I suppose you’re wondering about what happened to Charlie. You’ll be pleased to learn he achieved his goal. Charlie finally managed to travel backwards in time. Oh, yes, he did it. The unfortunate part of his success is that no one ever knew about it.

History is full of failure. As someone once pointed out, before you can succeed, you generally have to find lots of ways to fail. But, history is also full of success stories that will never be known because they culminated in such dramatic fashion. Dramatic, amazing and often fiery fashion. Such is the case with the first human to figure out how to travel into the past. His name was Charlie Lane.

Charlie put all the numbers together, turned them into silicon and circuits small enough to wear on his wrist and was ready to give his invention its first test. He would be the test pilot and launch his grand adventure from the basement of his mother’s house. Just as he readied himself to walk literally (figuratively, too) into history, he heard his mother knock softly on the basement door.

“You didn’t forget what day it was, did you, Charlie?” she asked when he let her into his quarters. “You did, didn’t you? You forgot your own birthday.”

Charlie admitted he had and accepted a kiss on the cheek and a gentle admonishment from his mother to stop working so hard. Then she presented him with his gift: a shining, silver bracelet, which she clasped around his wrist.

“I’ll need to take it back because the jeweler made a mistake on the engraving, but I wanted you to have it today,” she said. “It’s much better than that ugly wrist watch you’re wearing.”

Charlie didn’t want to hurt his mother’s feelings since he knew she was only trying to make him feel special, but he had other things to do and he wasn’t really listening to what she said as he hustled her out the door.

“Dinner will be ready in an hour,” she said as Charlie closed the basement door behind her. “I made something special for you, so don’t be late.”

“I won’t, Mom. I promise.” He meant it. Then he set the dial on his watch, took a deep breath and pushed the button.

And here we are.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sean has poor reading skills at 6am

I've been burning my candle at both ends this week and not for any really good reason. Okay, maybe it is a good reason. My husband has been working long hours all week (leaving at 6:30am and not getting home until 9 or 10 at night) and if we want to talk to each other at all, we both have to stay up really late. Neither of us has had more than four or five hours of sleep per night all week. Normally, I can deal with sleep deprivation but, man, have I been dragging all week long. I've also had a terrible, pounding headache, too. I was beginning to think I might be coming down with something.

This morning, I staggered into the kitchen at a quarter of six to make coffee. I dumped the water in the coffee maker, put the coffee in the filter then just sort of stood there for a minute, staring at the bag of coffee I started using on Monday. It was then I noticed an unfamiliar word on the bag: D-E-C-A-F.

Sort of explains it all, doesn't it?

sleepy cat zzzz

Trying. So hard. To. Stay awake.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Fly

It was August 28th, 1992. My first semester of college. I and some of my newly found best friends headed out from the dorms at Wichita State University for some college hijinks. There were six of us in the car (a 1978 Cadillac Deville), listening to the city’s classic rock station at an obscene volume and singing along at an equally obscene volume. The song “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band came on. We belted out the lyrics.

Then it happened.

We came to the line “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” I loudly sang what I thought was the line. Everyone stopped singing. The driver turned down the radio.

“What did you just say?”

I repeated the line. The car erupted in laughter. And that was the day I learned the song doesn’t go “Wrapped up like a douche, another roller in the fight.”

Go ahead. Laugh. It is kinda funny. I always wondered what they meant by that line anyway.

On a related note, I was once sitting in a radio station with another DJ. We’d been talking but lapsed into silence while the No Doubt song “Spiderwebs” was playing. At the end of the song is the line “Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” As soon as it played, the other DJ commented in an offhand manner “Why do you think she wants to leave a message for Carl Eubanks?”

Any embarrassingly misheard lyrics in your past?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Geology, Geograhy and Me

I have something embarrassing to admit. It requires a bit of background so bear with me.

I was 6 years old in 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington (the state. This distinction will be important later). It was all over the news and I was way into because … I was 6 and volcanoes are waaay cool to six-year-olds. Especially when they live in the middle of the country, far, far, away from the eruption. For some reason still unclear to me, my great-aunt in Washington D.C. (yet another important distinction) sent my grandmother a bit of ash from the eruption. So, if you’ll follow my six-year-old logic. Mt. St. Helens + Washington + Aunt Gladys + Washington = Mount St. Helens is in Washington D.C.

See? That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college and my Geology 101 (aka Geology for Liberal Arts majors) class. My professor was talking about the eruption when, like a lightning bolt from the sky, it struck me: MOUNT ST. HELENS IS IN WASHINGTON STATE!!!

Truly, I felt as though I’d been living a lie. And I also felt like a complete dumbass because I’d never corrected my faulty, six-year-old reasoning. This was the most complete and absolute “blonde” moment of my life. And I made the mistake of telling my husband about it. Being an engineer, he NEVER lets me forget it.

The point of my story: We were watching a program about what would happen if the seething caldera that is Yellowstone National Park were to ever explode. My seven-year-old son asked where Mount St. Helens was located and my husband replied “Washington.” My son thought about that for a moment.

Then he asked: “Washington state or Washington D.C.?”

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Death in the Fictional Family

I was reading another writer's (who shall remain nameless) blog the other day in which this person was despondent over the death of a character. It made me curious as to how others handle eliminating characters. Sure, I've shed a few tears over the deaths of characters written by others, (I STILL bawl like a baby when the little girl dies in Bridge to Terabithia.) but never over my own characters. In fact, I take a fiendish pleasure in devising good ways to remove characters (I have a particularly good death ready for one of my Seals characters. Bwahahaha.). I was discussing this with my stepdaughter Shekey last night and she told me, "It's a good thing you aren't a criminal, because you'd probably be a serial killer." Shekey has a wry sense of humor.

Writers: How do you feel about killing off your characters?

Everyone: Any particular fictional death scenes that really make you turn on the waterworks?