Tag Archives: house

Free to Park, Free to Die – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

Free to Park, Free to Die

“No parking? What does that even mean? It’s space, your Honor. Space. You can’t own or regulate that. You can’t own anything. Matter was free out in outer space for billions of years and suddenly we put a fence around it? Mine! Don’t touch! Bullshit.

“Of course I entered the yard. I took the vegetables—I made the fire. I’m free, you know. That’s my right. I’m sorry it spread but they didn’t own that house. It’s part of the universe.

“I’m sorry they died. Really. I’m not a monster. But they were free too. They were free to die.”

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The Re-Genesis Hour – Sunday Photo Fiction

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

The Re-Genesis Hour

There was still half an hour before dawn when Gina, the serving maid, slipped open the door. The boy pulled himself down the steps, scuttling sideways on his misshapen stumps and keeping a hand on the railing for support. Once outside, he pulled himself through the dewy, cold-shock grass. The world was fresh and alive in its daily re-genesis.

A rabbit ducked out of a thicket to his left and he gave chase for the sheer fun of it. The rabbit won, escaping back to its hole just before the boy reached it. He laughed and stood there for a moment, palms flat on the ground, cold and wet.

He continued on, farther and farther until he reached a road he had never seen before, going down to a high iron gate. A car was coming down from the house, its powerful headlights sweeping over him as he ducked back into the bushes. Not fast enough. The car stopped and a man and woman got out.

“What in Heaven’s name is that? It’s hideous.”

“George, please. I—”

“What is it!”

“It’s your son, George.”

.

.

.

.

.

“I have a son?”


Home, Sweet Home – Friday Fictioneers

Today I have a double feature for you. I only wrote one though: the other story is by a guest blogger, author Sheila Stewart, who is also my sister. She wrote a Friday Fictioneer story but doesn’t have a blog so I said I would post it for her. Our two stories go together but could also be taken separately.

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Home, Sweet Home (Part 1)

by Sheila Stewart

I found a body on my back deck today. It wasn’t the oddest thing I’d found back there, but it was a bit annoying. Bodies stink and leak. At least I could use the old clothes and blankets people tossed down. I could mend the broken furniture and decorate with sculptures made from various odds and ends I couldn’t figure out what else to do with.

I’m not sure how people got the idea that my house was a garbage dump, but I’m not complaining.

Not usually anyway.

Except now I need to go bury the body with the others.

Home, Sweet Home (Part 2)

by David Stewart

“I just love this to death,” Alice gushed at the hot real estate agent. “The view, the veranda: it’s perfect.”

Chris rolled his eyes. “It’s a bit pricey and this slope looks prone to avalanches. Plus, what’s this MCMG at the bottom of the paperwork?”

“Legal mumbo-jumbo,” the agent said quickly, flashing a grin. “You wanna see the jacuzzi?”

Alice was slightly concerned three months later when she dug up a tibia in the garden, but after she found two skulls, Chris studied the title. On the last page, in 4-point font was the note:

MCMG: May Contain Mass Grave.

 

 


The Silverware Man

This is the result of an Open Prompts challenge that I issued on Monday. I like what I came up with, although the hardest part to incorporate was the length, i.e. cutting it down to this size. Here are the elements that were suggested:

– a red leaf clinging to a tree, trying not to fall (submitted by Anja)

-the title, The Silverware Man (submitted by Chris De Voss)

-a character named Bartleby “Bud” Hobdringer VII (submitted by Miles Rost)

-a length of 555 words (submitted by Catherine)

-lots of water (submitted by Amy at The Bumble Files)

silverware 2

The Silverware Man

After ringing the funereal doorbell for five minutes, the door was finally opened by an old man in a shabby bathrobe.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” he said. “I’m temporarily without a butler. How can I help you?”

“I came about the job,” I said.

He took the newspaper from my hand. “Ah, the silverware man. Come in. We have a very extensive silver collection. We used to have a very large staff, but I am afraid we are suffering a personnel shortage currently.”

He didn’t interview me, just offered to show me around. “Great,” I said, sticking out my hand. “Your name’s Bud, right? I asked in town.”

He shot me a look of disdain. “My name is Bartley Hobdringer VII. Please address me as Mr. Hobdringer, or sir.”

“Yes . . . sir.”

Our footsteps echoed off the dark walls of the entranceway and the smell of mold was strong in the air. A single bulb dangled from a dust-covered chandelier. The house looked deserted.

Most of the silverware was kept in the basement, which I found to be flooded. After wading through hip-deep water, I managed to carry out the warped and moldy boxes and clean them up. By the end of the day, the silverware gleamed and my hands were black with tarnish. I set the table in the palatial dining room: four forks, two knives and two spoons and waited while Mr. Hobdringer sat down with a can of sardines and an apple and fastidiously picked out a fork.

dining room

“I’m currently without a cook,” he said, almost apologetically.

“If you’d like, I could—”

He cut me off. “No, your job is just the silverware. We must do things right.”

He did not dismiss me or invite me to join him and I continued to stand there awkwardly while he ate.

“You must consider me a fool to live like this,” he said after a while. “How far I have fallen from the days of my grandfather, when this house was full of life.”

“I know I am fighting the inevitable, but still, I feel like I must fight,” he continued, speaking out into the gloomy expanse of the room. “I cannot sell this house, but I cannot keep it going either. I’m like the last dying leaf of autumn, fighting to stay on the tree, fighting against every icy blast for just another moment of being attached to everything I’ve always known. I fear falling.”

Life soon became very relaxed. My job was only to wash and polish the silver and set it out for meals—a job that occupied half an hour at most. A week later, Mr. Hobdringer gave me a vase in place of my salary. When the antique shop owner in town heard where I had gotten it, he nodded knowingly and gave me a good price.

Two weeks later, Mr. Hodringer did not come down for breakfast. I finally went looking for him and found him in bed, his body already cold. His leaf had finally fallen. On the desk was a note to me.

Nigel,

Your service, although brief, was much appreciated. Please take the silverware as your final payment. It will repay you well for your efforts. Thank you for bringing a gleam of the past back into my life.

Cordially,

Bartleby Hobdringer VII

silverware


Xerxes’ House

Xerxes stumbled out of gargantuan bed and took the elevator down to the floor. He never made the bed; it was too hard to wrestle half an acre of down comforter into place and he was totally alone anyway.

He wandered in a groggy early morning haze down the hallway, with its towering black walls of nothingness going up and up out of sight.

dark hallway

“Why don’t you love me?” the left-hand wall asked him in a whiny whisper. “You haven’t been down this hall for hours. “Are you avoiding me?”

Xerxes sighed and patted the wall absentmindedly. “I was sleeping, Fretty. It means I don’t move for a few hours at a time. If I’m lucky.”

“I knew you were sleeping,” the right-hand wall said. “You always sleep from 11pm to 7:15am sharp. It’s 7:18 now,” it added proudly.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Xerxes said. “Good job, Yes’m.” He went into the kitchen to forage for breakfast.

“You need more milk,” the wall above the sink said in a silky whisper. “Milk…”

“Fine, I’ll get some more milk.” A second later, there was a rapping at the window and Xerxes opened it to see a pigeon gasping for air as it clutched frantically onto a gallon jug of milk.

“Ah, Prescient Pigeon. Impeccable timing, as always,” Xerxes said. He took the jug and opened the fridge, only to see that it was filled with jugs of milk, most unopened, many past their expiration date. A few were crusted with green and had even passed their Exorcise with Fire date.

Xerxes sighed. “Seriously, Mr. Pettyevil. Why do you keep doing that to me? At least tell me I’m out of cereal once in a while so I can get some breakfast.” The wall in front of him sniggered softly but didn’t reply.

Of course, he didn’t have any cereal either. Every time he got some, the Cereal Python snuck in and ate it all during the night. And on top of everything, it was lactose intolerant, so it never used up any of the milk in the fridge.

“I could sure go for some cereal right about now,” Xerxes said, casting a sidelong glance at the window. It didn’t work. Prescient Pigeon was lying on the windowsill, apparently unconscious from its struggle with the gallon of milk and not in any condition to go anywhere for a while.

Xerxes poured himself a glass of milk from the new jug and stood in the kitchen, drinking.

“It’s laundry day today,” the wall whispered. “Laundry…”

“Shut up, Mr. Pettyevil. I’m not falling for your tricks again, at least for another hour.” He glanced at the calendar. Dang, it really was laundry day. He hated laundry day.

For one thing, the clothes he washed weren’t even his. He didn’t know whose they were; they just appeared in baskets in the laundry room every Monday and he washed them. It was part of his lease agreement. He never went out so his own clothes usually took up half a load. But what was worse than the laundry was the laundry room.

“What’s wrong?” Fretty asked as he walked back towards the bedroom. “You’re looking wan.”

“I’m not wan. I’m just hungry and—”

“Today is Monday, so that means it’s laundry day,” Yes’m interjected.

“Oh, laundry day,” Fretty said. “That worries me.”

Xerxes opened the third door from the bedroom and came into a small round room with a washer and dryer sitting in the middle. Hampers of laundry stood off to one side. As with the other rooms, there was no ceiling and the black walls towered up into obscurity.

“Well, you’re back, I see,” a sarcastic voice said from the walls. “Come to gloat, have you?”

“It’s just laundry day, Penelope. Just like every week.”

“Why don’t you come in here and talk to me more. I’m your girlfriend, after all.”

“Yeah, I know, it’s just that I get busy, and, you know…” The day before, Xerxes had spent the entire day trying to build a house of cards that resembled a jaguar.

“I still don’t know how you ever tricked me into this,” the wall said.

Xerxes walked to the hampers and started picking up the items in disgust with a pair of tongs and flinging them into the machine. The one on top was a set of bloodied chainmail, followed by a filthy leopard skin and a set of tribble-fur underwear.

“I never once tricked you,” he said, “The real estate agent said I needed to find another wall for the house and you said: ‘If there’s anything I can do to help…’”

“I was hinting for you to move in with me!” the wall snapped. “Not that it matters now, I suppose. I’m seeing someone new, you know.”

Xerxes looked around the laundry in an exaggerated fashion. “Seeing someone? Who?”

“Well, another house, actually.”

“That’s impossible! There aren’t any other houses here. I’m the only one in this dimension. The real estate agent guaranteed it.”

“Well, all I know is that there’s a house near here with a nice wall named Bumble. We talked last night. He’s a dining room wall, with a china hutch pushed up against him and everything. Real posh.”

Xerxes didn’t respond. He turned on the machine and left to call his real estate agent.

Xerxes had a ShyPhone 4, which was always running away and hiding under the bed and high up in the corridors. Usually this was fine with Xerxes since he didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway, but now he needed to find it. He had gotten it cheap because it ran on eccentricity instead of electricity. In his house, it was always fully charged.

“Where are you, ShyPhone? Hello?” It liked to be serenaded with Metallica songs, sung in a slow, mellow tone. “Exit light, enter night, Xerxes crooned, “take my hand, off to never never land.”

There was some movement up by the top of his bed. “So tear me open, but beware,” Xerxes sang softly and tenderly. “There’s things inside without a care. And the dirt still stains me, so wash me until I’m clean.”

The ShyPhone fluttered down to the bed and Xerxes grabbed it. Its screen blushed as he dialed the number for the real estate agent.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Conrad, this is Xerxes. Listen, what’s this I hear about other houses being in this dimension?”

“Who said that?”

“Penelope.”

“Ah, yeah, Penelope. How’s she doing these days?”

“Still furious. But listen, she said she met another house nearby. You promised me a place where I could get away from it all. From it all. I paid extra for it. In the ad, it describes this house as ‘a house of unpredictable eccentricity, floating in an abyss of viscous ether. Total isolation guaranteed.”

“You’re still isolated,” Conrad said. The ShyPhone was sweating heavily in Xerxes’ hand and he had to switch sides. “I admit, we had to push a few other houses into that dimension, but you’ll never know they’re there. I promise you. By the way, good job with the laundry. I’m hearing a lot of good things.”

“Thanks, but can they stop with the chainmail already? Some of that stuff weighs fifty pounds and there’s more than just blood on some of it.”

“Hey, chainmail needs to get washed too, you know. Anywho, gotta run. Say hi to Prescient Pigeon for me.”

Xerxes hung up and let the ShyPhone scamper away. He didn’t like the idea of neighbors, even if he couldn’t see or visit them. Hopefully nothing bad would come of it.

(to be continued, at some point)


Brent Thomas: World Scout

Read the first part of this story, See the World Through a Cardboard Tube! or read the other stories about Klista here.

 

A gust of wind blew down the street, knocking a battered circle of cardboard out from behind Brent’s glasses. He dove for it and managed to grab it before it blew into the gutter.

“What is that, like a monocle?” a voice said. Brent turned around to a young woman standing behind him. She was holding a stack of books, evidently on her way to class.

“It’s nothing,” Brent said, closing his fingers gently over the cardboard circle.

“I’ve seen you around before, with that thing propped up behind your glasses. You always seem to be walking around in your own little world. You look happy.”

Brent nodded awkwardly, just hoping she would leave. Instead, she stuck out her hand. “I’m Desiree, by the way.”

“Brent Thomas,” he said, shaking her hand. “You probably think I’m weird. Is it really obvious? The cardboard?” He indicated the circle in his hand.

“Not unless someone looks at you closely,” she said with a smile. “Are you busy? Can I buy you some coffee?”

“Um, sure,” Brent said. “That’d be great.”

They started walking down the leaf-scattered path towards the university coffee shop. “So,” Desiree said, “why do you wear that circle under your glasses? Is it just to be weird?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Brent said.

“Try me.” He just smiled and shook his head.

Desiree dropped the subject and they chatted over their coffee about their majors and school life. Brent liked her and he asked her out the next weekend. They started seeing each other regularly. A month after the windy day when they had met, the two of them were curled up on the couch in Brent’s townhouse, watching TV.

“Do you trust me?” Desiree asked suddenly.

“Of course,” Brent said. “What’s up?”

“Tell me, why do you wear that cardboard circle under your glasses? You don’t do it when you’re with me, but when I’ve run into you, I’ve seen it. You always take it out as soon as you can. What is it?”

“I’ll tell you, but you still won’t believe me,” Brent said. “It lets me see into other worlds.” He saw her expression and preempted her next question. “Look, I can’t explain it—it’s like magic or something. When I was in middle school, this van came to my school and a man and woman said they had a cardboard tube that let you see into other worlds. A few other people tried it and swore they saw strange and amazing things through the tube. Later, I found out that the woman had paid them to say that. The thing is, when I looked inside, I really saw into another world. The woman let me keep the tube. I used to spend hours looking through it—you could not imagine the things I’ve seen. Anyway, I tried cutting a thin slice off the end of the tube and that still worked. That’s what it is.”

Desiree was frowning slightly, as if thinking. “You’re kind of scaring me,” she said at last. Then, “Can I see?”

“Yeah, I guess, as long as you promise not to tell anyone else. Be careful with it.” Brent pulled out a small metal case and gingerly handed the cardboard circle to Desiree. She put it up to her eye and then hit him on the arm.

“You are so full of it.”

“Why? What do you see?” he asked.
“I see you and the rest of the room, of course.” She flipped it around. “Still just you.”

“Give it to me.” Brent put it up to his eye. Desiree and the living room disappeared. In front of him was a dark sky with stark mountains looming up as far as he could see. Fountains of glittering white shot up thousands of feet in the air. In the sky above him wheeled a disc of fiery color unlike anything he had seen before.

He took the circle down from his eye and gave a small laugh. “Well, I guess it’s broken.” She laughed too, gently mocking his weirdness, and turned back towards the TV.

That night, Brent was awakened by his cell phone ringing. When he answered a female voice said, without preamble, “Open your door. Your bell’s broken.”

“Who is this?”

“Just open the door.”

Brent went downstairs and opened the front door. A tall woman with long black hair and a red cloak stood in front of him. She stepped inside before he could react.

“Well, Brent, you’re looking well. How are you?”

Brent stared at her. “Who are you?”

The woman made a noise of irritation. “Didn’t I tell you to remember my name?”

He thought back, trying to remember that name. “Klista? You gave me the cardboard tube, back in middle school. That was five years ago. How did you find me?”

“How could I have lost you? You’re important to my plans, Brent. I see you have been using the tube quite a bit. That’s good. You need the experience.”

“What do you want from me?” Brent said. “You didn’t say back then that there was any catch.” He was about to offer her the tube back, but he stopped himself.

“I see you showed it to someone else recently,” Klista said. “A girl. It didn’t work for her, did it?” She waited for him to nod. “It doesn’t work for anyone, except you. That’s why I need you, Brent. You’re special. Almost no one can see between worlds like you can. It took me a very, very long time to find you back then. You were too young, though, so I thought I’d give you a few years to get used to the extra sight.”

“It shifts from time to time,” Brent said. “The view inside, I mean. It doesn’t always show the same place.”

“The one I gave you was just a passive Gazer,” Klista said. “Dimensions shift in relation to one another over time. The tube just shows what’s closes to you at that moment. But with training, you can see what you want to see, across multiple dimensions. That’s why I want you to come work for me. I need you, Brent, to be my scout. To look across the worlds and see what no one else can see.”

Thoughts rose and fell in Brent’s sleep drugged mind, but all he could say was, “I don’t understand.”

Klista reached over and tapped him on the cheek with her gloved hand. “Wake up, Brent. I’m offering you a job. You will never get an opportunity like this again. You can come back before long, but for right now, come with me and I’ll show you.”

“If is far?” Brent asked. He was wondering what Desiree would think if he suddenly disappeared. Then there were missed classes, angry professors, worried friends…

“Brent,” Klista said, reproach in her voice. “What is distance? Look through the tube. Another world right there in front of you. At least come and see what I have to show you. Then, you if want, come back and keep studying creative writing, making up stories about all the places you weren’t up to visiting yourself.”

“Okay, fine,” Brent said. A thrill of fear and excitement went through him at the idea of actually going to the worlds that he had seen. “Let me go get dressed, at least.”

“I’ll wait here,” she said. “Also, if you have clothes for cold weather, I’d bring those too.”

“Sure.” Brent ran upstairs, his heart pounding.


Wine and Spirits

The third in the Open Prompts series. The story prompts are:

    1. 200 words ( my suggestion but I cheated: it’s actually about 570 words)
    2. a (possibly) haunted house (suggested by Tessa Sheppard)
    3. someone with an OCD problem (suggested by Amy at The Bumble Files)
    4. a rare bottle of wine (suggested by Christopher De Voss)
    5. the mention of an alien/terminator (suggested by Ripley Connor)
    6. a shift in tone from funny to sinister (suggested by Sharmishtha Basu)

It was Halloween and the mansion of Lord Fufflington was crowded with party-goers. The sommelier, Roderick, was busy in the private dining room of the lord.

“Oh, Roderick, can you recommend a good wine?” Lord Fufflington asked. “Maybe something white.”

Roderick sighed inwardly at hearing his entire profession boiled down to one of two colors.

“Sir, I recommend a 2001 Chateau d’Yquem.” The lord waved his approval and Roderick headed for the wine cellar.

He passed a female Terminator and a smaller alien on the stairs and shooed aside a decapitated Spongebob, who was smoking in front of the wine cellar door. Inside, he found Sailor Moon making out with Captain Jack Sparrow. After kicking these out, he found the right bottle of wine and was about to leave when he noticed something that made him gasp. It was the rarest bottle in the cellar, a bottle of 1953 Domaine de la Romanee . . . on the wrong rack.

It was a travesty. He had only been the sommelier of the manor for a month, but he had totally reorganized the wine cellar in that time. The old system had been some jumble of arcane nonsense instead of his new way: reverse alphabetic order by the last name of the vineyard’s original owner. Some party-goer must have moved the bottle. He carefully restored it to its correct place, aligned the label correctly, and brought the Chateau d’Yquem upstairs, locking the door behind him.

As soon as he reached the dining room, Lord Fufflington called him over. “We’ll need another bottle, it seems, Roderick. Lord Kigglistump has just arrived.” He motioned to an obese man whose body was straining against the neoprene rabbit costume he was wearing.

Roderick returned to the cellar and got another bottle of Chateau d’Yquem. On his way out, he saw that two other bottles had been moved. On the side of one dusty magnum was a note rubbed in the dust: Wine must be arranged by phenolic content only! – Diogenes, the butler.

So the butler did it! It was obvious. Roderick stormed upstairs, intent on informing Lord Fufflington. However, the wine requests kept pouring in and he was kept busy running to and from the wine cellar all night. Every time he entered, more bottles were moved and more notes were left in dust, in the dirt, or scratched in wood. They demanded that he return to the old system and threatened him grievous harm if he didn’t. The last even threatened to stab him in the throat in his sleep if he didn’t stop arranging the bottles in his own way.

That was the last straw. Roderick stormed upstairs and into the dining room, interrupting Lord Fufflington in the middle of a bawdy anecdote involving a hang glider and the constellation Andromeda.

“Sir, I must insist that the butler stop interfering with my organization of the wine cellar. He has been rearranging wine bottles all night.”

“That’s impossible, man,” Fufflington said. “The butler has been away all night at a private function.”

“He must have returned early then,” Roderick said. “In any case, tell Diogenes to stay away from my wine cellar.”

“Diogenes?” Lord Fufflington said. “The butler’s name is Ramses. Diogenes was the old butler. He died ten years ago tonight. Why, Ramses is at his memorial right now. I saw, Roderick, you’ve turned all pale and—I say! You just dropped that expensive bottle of wine on the floor. Are you sure you’re really cut out to be a sommelier?”


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