Author Interview

Kathy Steinemann interviewed me this week. You can read the interview here.

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FUTURE SHOCK

“Congratulations, Mr. Baker. You’re officially cancer free. Welcome to the year 3015.”

I grabbed the doctor’s hand and pumped it up and down. Not bad for a recently thawed popsicle. My billion dollar investment to cheat death paid off. Now I’m healthy and far from my nagging ex-wife.

“Thanks doc. Check me out of here. I’m due for a double bacon cheeseburger and a walk on the beach.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Baker, but outside toxicity levels are inhospitable and the ingesting of animal products was outlawed years ago.”

“Aw, heck. Sounds like my ex’s heaven.”

“There’s also the matter of your bill,” said the doctor. “You’re going to have to work off the remainder as an indentured servant.”

“What?”

“Don’t be alarmed. Your basic needs will be met.”

“So I’m supposed to be some guy’s slave?”

“Only for fifty to sixty years.”

“That’s absurd. I’ll be dead by then.”

“Sorry, but you’re the property of New Life Incorporated until paid in full. The Long-Life serum will keep you young for many centuries. You should feel honored that the president herself requested you as her servant.”

“Well I won’t stand for it. I’m no one’s slave.”

The familiar clicking of high heels made the hair on my neck stand up. I spun around and stared at my ex-wife. She looked as young as the day I left.  My heart pounded as she examined me through narrowed eyes. This was impossible.

“Well according to the law you belong to me.”

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NEWARK AIRPORT: AN EXERCISE IN INEFFICIENCY

Living in the Baltimore DC area, my home airport is Baltimore Washington International. We know the procedure well for picking up people. Wait in the cell phone lot until your passenger has landed, disembarked, and retrieved their luggage. Then it’s a quick drive to the terminal to pick them up. Fair warning to anyone who tries to wait at the terminal. Since 9/11, airport security has been adamant about the no standing or waiting rule. Passenger not there? Security is on you. So unless you want to drive in circles, you wait in the cell lot.

When we needed to pick up my daughter at Newark International Airport for my nephew’s wedding, we obediently waited in the cell lot until she called, then made a quick drive to the terminal…and waited. Cars sat parked two deep everywhere. There were even cars parked on the loop road leading to the terminal. Traffic just didn’t move. It took twenty minutes to move thirty feet to the curb. It was total gridlock. All of it because cars waited at the terminal curb for people to land instead of the cell lot or parking lot. Airport personnel did nothing to help.

Hello… Newark airport… would it kill you to get security to move people along? I realize that a bunch of flights had just landed, and lot of cars swarmed the terminal at once, but this was more than a sudden influx of vehicles. It was an example of simple inefficiency in utilizing resources.

Newark has many lanes for through traffic and several for pickups. All they need is one or two security people enforcing the no standing zone. If your pickup isn’t there, keep driving. Something as simple as that would keep traffic moving and alleviate the huge traffic jam. Time to wake up Newark.

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SHOWDOWN AT SMITH ROCK

Sweat dripped down my back as I studied Smith Rock canyon. I’d tracked Blackjack McDougal all day. The trail had been just a little too easy to follow for it not to be a trap, one especially designed for me. Blackjack was a cheating, lying SOB, but not stupid. He had to know I would come after him. Two weeks as sheriff and the town already questioned my right to the job. After all, it was my ex that robbed the bank and blew up the cavalry commander.

“What do you think, Tin?” I asked my four-legged partner. “Do we wait for X-troop cavalry or take him ourselves?”

Tin’s tail flopped, creating clouds of parched dirt. His whimper echoed my thoughts. There was no way we could do this alone. My shoulders drooped and I turned away, almost stepping on a rattler. Tin growled and we retreated to a safe distance.

“I got an idea, Tin.”

It didn’t take long to make the necessary preparations. The sound of hundreds of rattlesnakes echoed around the canyon followed by Blackjack’s screams. Swaying brush marked Blackjack’s trail as he charged out of the trees and smacked into a wooden fence overgrown with weeds. A full flip landed him at my feet. I grinned and pointed my laser riffle at his chest.

“Problems, Blackjack?”

“Rattlers, hundreds!” Blackjack’s eyes were stretched wider than I thought possible. “For old time’s sake, save me!”

The rattling reached a defining pitch as Tin leaped over the fence and stood over Blackjack, steel teeth bared. Blackjack’s face was whiter than a daisy. I struggled not to laugh.

“Nah, that’s just Tin, my new electronic deputy dog. I reprogramed his bark synthesizer. Always said your rattlesnake phobia would be your downfall. Just be glad I found you instead of those X-troop cavalry robots.”

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THE POTION OF POWER

Colorful glass bottles filled the shelves in the small shop, some tall, others not. A few seemed to glow but that could have been from creative lighting. The containers had only one thing in common. None were labeled. Yet the old woman who ran the shop reached behind several to grab this one for Bob.

It was a long shot, but Bob was desperate. No job, nearly homeless, and the most fantastic woman he had ever met probably didn’t remember talking to him last week. Why would she? He was useless. That small blue bottle was his only hope. If it worked, Vanessa was sure to notice him.

“The ointment must be used sparingly,” said the woman, as she took his last few bills and handed him the bottle. “Too much and there will be dire consequences.”

Bob laughed. “Will I grow fangs or something?”

A toothless grin spread across the old woman’s face, but there was no humor in it. “Remember, you must still find the root of your problem and prune it out. Otherwise it will only fester.”

He left clutching the blue glass.

“Bang!”

Bob’s bottle of salvation slipped and smashed open. His heart raced. People screamed and ran. But Bob acted instinctively. In seconds he pinned the gunman and saved dozens. It wasn’t until the man was hauled off that he noticed Vanessa watching him from across the street. His heart raced as he walked toward her.

#

Weeks later, after the reporters stopped asking questions, after endless job offers, Bob stood by the shop with Vanessa and stared at the concrete where the ointment had spilled. A pair of blue eyes gazed back. Jagged glass fangs stuck up from a long crack in the pavement beneath them. Vanessa leaned over the low fence that surrounded the damaged pavement then smiled at him.

“I didn’t need the ointment at all,” he said. “All I really needed was confidence.”

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“SUPPOSE” Is Now Available In Print

Suppose

For those eager readers who have been asking, “Suppose” is finally available in print: A collection of over sixty riveting tales, with new and expanded stories.


Suppose: Drabbles, Flash Fiction, and Short Stories has undergone a complete rewrite, with new and expanded stories: over sixty tales of humor, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, and life experiences so unbelievable that they have been disguised as fiction.

Suppose you saw something you couldn’t explain. And then suppose it turned out to be something far stranger, or funnier, or more horrifying than you ever expected. That element of surprise, and a different way of looking at things, is what this anthology is all about. Most of the short stories take less than fifteen minutes to read, and the ultra-short drabbles take less than thirty seconds.

Kathy Steinemann, Amber Hayward, A. L. Kaplan, and Donna Milward share their tales and fantasies in this book of drabbles, flash fiction, and short stories.

Why would the government force an artist to paint portraits of despots or drug lords? Why would healthy people die for no obvious reason? Do you suppose that wishes could ever be dangerous? What’s a BioInterFace Fluxxatron? Do aliens watch reality shows? Why would someone pay double the usual rate to move a heavy trunk? Why is the mud from Sludge Flats so valuable?

Discover the answers to these questions in this eclectic collection.

For a limited time, readers can receive a discount on the print edition at CreateSpace, the company that produces books for Amazon. The reduced price of $9.99 USD is further reduced by $2.00 with the discount code below:

DISCOUNT CODE: FPHUKVQB

https://www.createspace.com/5572855

And here are the other formats currently available.

Digital Editions:

Amazon.comAmazon.caAmazon.co.ukAmazon.deiTunesBarnes & NobleSmashwords

Paperback Editions:

Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukAmazon.deCreatespace

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RED ROVER, RED ROVER

“Damn fracking,” mumbled McAllister. He stared at the red water in the little creek. “First they cause an earthquake, then they pollute the groundwater. Now something’s using my farm as a fast food highway.”

After the quake last year he’d been thrilled to have a new creek bubble up across his farm. Not anymore. The weird noises grew louder every night. Livestock vanished with increasing frequency.

Sweat dripped down McAllister’s back, but not from the sun. Last night he saw something slither up this creek bed, leaving a trail of feathers. A dozen of his best layers, gone. The unearthly prints around the hen house were the only clue something wasn’t right.

The bushes rustled. High pitched chirping echoed around him. He tightened his grip on the shotgun and kept moving. The air felt charged, pricking his skin. His heartbeat quickened. Maybe it wasn’t the fracking after all. Maybe it was something else.

Wind and darkness swirled around him. He leaned into the tempest and continued forward. The storm vanished as quickly as it arrived, leaving McAllister in a still and barren landscape with a red stream. He blinked in the bright light and scorching heat. Large and small leathery wings filled the sky. Their screeching and chirps made his hair stand on end, but the golden eyes that studied him nearly made his heart stop.

“Mmm, a human,” said the dragon. “I wonder if it tastes like chicken.”

“Looks old and tough. Not enough meat for the children. Throw it back in the portal and try a different opening.”

The dragon flicked a claw at McAllister knocking him back into the whirlwind. A moment later he landed on his farm next to the now dried creek bed.

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