Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ghost Creek, Episode 3

PREVIOUSLY- Sean and his friends explored the mysterious abandoned house in the woods, finding nothing inside but a mutant rodent-eating frog. Sean led them into the basement, the place where he was kept during his abduction experience. There they found a room drenched in red paint, an anachronistic CD player (the source of the screaming which had led them inside in the first place,) and a strange man claiming to be Sean, who offers them pudding.


“What do you mean,” said Sean, “you are me?”

“Just that,” said the older man. “I am you at the age of twenty-eight. To save you doing the math, that means I’m from the year 1999.”

“Yeah, right.”

“See, I knew there’d be this whole awkward ‘trying to convince you’ thing, so listen up. When you, we, whatever, were seven, we were riding our bicycle, pretending to be Luke Skywalker in his X-wing fighter, and Dad’s Mustang was the Death Star. We got a little too close, and put a big scratch in the paint. Dad freaked out when he found it, but he thought Tommy Stipe next door keyed the car. We never told him, or anybody, the truth.”

Sean gaped up at the older man. “How did you know that?”

“When we were nine, we found a cardboard box by the side of the road with some newborn puppies someone had abandoned. We knew Mom wouldn’t let us keep them, so we hid them in the shed in the back yard. They all died within a day, and we buried them beside the garden. Again, never told anybody. You want me to keep going? Because I’ve got about a dozen of these,” he looked up at Bobby and Marcy, “and some of them are kind of embarrassing.”

“No,” Sean said. “I believe you.”


“Wait,” Bobby said. “This for real? This guy’s from the future?”

“No,” said Marcy. “I don’t believe it. It’s impossible.”

Sean-at-twenty-eight raised a finger. “You’re right, in a way. Time travel is physically impossible. But psychically, astrally, whatever you want to call it, it can be accomplished by certain talented individuals. See, I’m not even really here. This space we’re in doesn’t literally exist. The three of you are asleep on that ridge up there, dreaming this. But it is real.”

The three kids exchanged baffled looks. None of this made sense.

“So, if you’re from the future,” Bobby said, “what about me and Marcy? What happens to us?”

“Let’s see,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “You, Bobby, are a very successful psychiatrist. You and your boyfriend Tony . . .”


“Yeah, you’re gay.”

“I’m gay?”

“Don’t look so shocked. You told me yourself that you always knew.”

Bobby flushed red and made a slight sputtering noise.

“What about me?” Marcy said.

“You, ah, well, let’s just say you are a very good person who helps a lot of people.”

“What does that mean?”

“I really, ah, I shouldn’t have even told you that. People shouldn’t know too much about their futures. It kind of messes things up, trust me.”

“I can’t believe I’m gay,” Bobby was able to mutter.

“Look,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “We don’t have much time. This is a temporary state. I don’t know how much longer I can hold it. Let’s get down to business.”

“Yeah,” said Sean-at-ten. “Why are you here? What do you want?”

“Well,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “You ever hear people say things like, ‘if I knew then what I know now,’ or ‘if I had it all to do over again?’ This is a unique opportunity to make some changes in my life. I’m going to finish college this time, do . . . fewer drugs, and most of all I’m going to boink Nikki Phillips in my sophomore year. Plus, I went on the internet and memorized the winning lottery numbers from the week I turn eighteen. Ten million dollar jackpot.”

“What’s the internet?” said Sean-at-ten.

Sean-at-twenty-eight broke into a huge grin. “See? You’re going to have so much fun.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t just come back here and slip into my old skin,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “It’s a paradox. Two souls, or whatever you want to call them, can’t occupy the same body at the same time without a lot of complications. So this is like a swap.”

“A swap?”

“Yeah. You go into the future and take over my life. I come back here and take over yours. Everybody wins.”

“I can’t . . .”

“Ah, but you can,” Sean-at-twenty-eight interrupted. “And you will. I know you will. I’m you, remember? We’re science fiction freaks. I know you can’t pass up the chance to actually go into the future. 1999, man. There’s no flying cars or men on Mars, but there’s a lot of other fantastic things. Trust me. And you’ll be an adult! You can do anything you want. We’ve got our own apartment. A gorgeous girlfriend. I’m not going to say any more. You in?”

Sean-at-ten but his lip and considered for just a few seconds.

“What about Wilson?” he asked.

Sean-at-twenty-eight shook his head. “I don’t know. They never found him. We still don’t know what really happened. I think whoever took us did something to us to our brain, though. That’s why it’s possible for us to do this.”

“But the dream . . .”

“I sent you the dream,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “Another talent of ours. I’m sorry, but I had to use a potent bait to get you down here. Come on, Sean. What do you say?"

“You can’t trust this guy,” Marcy put in.

“But he’s me. I can trust myself, can’t I?” Sean looked up at his older self. “What do we have to do?”

“That’s the weird part,” said Sean-at-twenty-eight. “We have to, ah, kiss.”


“Yeah, I know. Ew. I’m not looking forward to it any more than you are. It’s like a fairy tale thing, though. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Frog Prince. I guess the soul can be transferred through the breath, or something. I don’t pretend to understand, but that’s the way it works.”

“You are not going to kiss this guy,” Bobby said. “He’s probably just a child molester, messing with our heads.”

Sean-at-ten shook his head. "I'm ready," he said to himself.

Sean-at-twenty-eight took Sean-at-ten gently in his arms. He leaned down, tilting his head and closing his eyes to bestow the kiss.

“Oh, wait, one more thing,” he said before their lips could touch. “If you happen to run into the forty-two-year-old Sean, don’t listen to a word he says. The guy’s a liar.”


But then the man’s lips fastened upon the boy’s with incestuous fervor. Sean-at-ten closed his eyes and the world spun. He had the sense of being dragged into an immense whirlpool, a spiraling backwards plummet into a black void.

And then he awoke.

NEXT TIME: Party like it’s 1999. Another strange frog. Idiot box.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ghost Creek, Episode 2

PREVIOUSLY- Ten-year old Sean Preston has been subject to prophetic dreams since an abduction experience three years before. Now he has dreamed of finding his friend Wilson, who was abducted at the same time but was never returned. Following the sign-posts of the dream, Sean leads his friends Bobby and Marcy to an abandoned house in the woods near the rumored-to-be-haunted Ghost Creek. From inside the house, they hear a boy screaming.


Hands were on Sean’s shoulders. Bobby and Marcy each had grabbed him and were trying to pull him away.

“Let go!”

“You were right, OK?” Marcy said. “But we have to call the police.”

“Didn’t you hear? He’s in trouble. We have to help him!”

“What are we going to do?” Bobby demanded. “If we go in there, they’ll just get us too.”

“Dammit, let me go!”

Sean swung out blindly. The punch landed on Bobby’s soft sweater-padded belly. It was not delivered with much force, but Bobby doubled over with a comical-sounding ‘oof.’ Marcy let go and Sean bolted forward, through the unlocked door.

The light inside the house was dim and oppressive, filtered through shrouding trees and dirty broken windowpanes. The air was heavy with hot summer dust and the smells of old wood and rodents. The screaming had stopped. The dead silence was so absolute it was difficult to believe the sound had ever existed.

His friends were behind him in the house, Bobby red-faced and sputtering anger.

“You hit me!” he whisper-hissed.


Missy looked around, surveying the gloom. The room was bare of furniture except for an ancient, cabinet-style television with a tiny round screen.

“There’s nobody in this house,” she said. “You can tell.”

“You heard the screaming,” Sean said.

“Maybe that was just . . .”

The front door slammed shut with a sudden burst of wooden thunder. All three kids jumped, grabbing each other tight.

“Just the wind,” Bobby whimpered.

“Oh, yeah, it was blowing like crazy out there, wasn’t it?” Marcy said. She ran to the door and rattled the knob. “Locked.”

“No.” Bobby bubbled tears.

“It’s all right,” Sean said. “That happened in the dream, too.”

“Yeah?” said Marcy. “Thanks for warning us.”

“Come on,” said Sean. “The basement stairs are just off the kitchen.”

“Basement?” Bobby’s voice had degraded to a squeaking rasp, like an oil-parched hinge.

Sean led and, rather than being left alone, the other two followed. Through a swing-hinged door into a dirt-crusted linoleum kitchen. The light in here was even dimmer.

“There’s a back door, isn’t there?” Bobby said, blinking behind his glasses. “Please tell me there’s a back door.”

Darting movement caught their attention. A small rat scuttled across the counter. It ran smack into the protruding tongue of a fat bullfrog squatting motionless by the sink. The twitching furry thing was pulled into the amphibian’s mouth with a squealing shriek. Two grasping bites and a gulp and it was gone. The frog let out a burping croak and licked its lips. The creature had a disturbing profusion of mutant legs, more than could be counted at a glance. Like some abominable cross between frog and spider.

“OK, I did NOT just see that,” said Marcy.

“Was that in your dream, too?” Bobby asked.

“In my dream, it ate a little bird,” Sean said. “Come on.”

There was a door in one corner of the room. Sean opened it and they all looked down at stairs leading into utter darkness.

“Got a flashlight?” said Marcy.

Sean reached over and flicked the light switch on the wall. A line of bare hanging low-watt bulbs filled the dank concrete basement below with dusty yellow light.

“I didn’t see any power lines outside,” Marcy said. “Must be a generator.”

“No,” Sean said. He descended the stairs.

The basement was empty except for some scraps of wood along the walls. Across the room was a door, painted a lurid red which seemed to glow with a light of its own. They were halfway across when the boy’s scream came again, bouncing about the concrete chamber with ringing echoes.

Bobby shrieked. Marcy grabbed Sean’s arm hard enough to bruise it. Sean pulled from her grasp. He ran forward and opened the red door.

At first all they saw was the blood. It was everywhere. Great red splats covering the walls and the floor. Ribbons of gore dripping from the ceiling, into their hair.

Bobby tried to step back out of the bloody room, but smacked the back of his head on the door frame. He collapsed to the floor with a hiccupping moan. Marcy threw her hands over her face and screamed.

“Not blood!” Sean had to shout to make himself heard over his friends’ terror. “Paint! Smell it! It’s just red paint!”

After a few moments the adrenal spiking of their hearts subsided enough for them to understand. Marcy reached a hand down and helped Bobby up off the floor.

Now they could see the room. It looked like somebody’s Dad’s garage workspace. Tool shelves and work benches. Fluorescent lighting. Another door on the opposite side of the room. In the center was a table with a portable stereo. As soon as they saw this item, the boy’s scream came again, issuing from the speakers.

“It was just a recording,” Marcy said.

“Great,” Bobby said. “So I pissed my pants for nothing.”

Sean went to the stereo. He pushed a button and a strange silver disc was ejected. Black letters on the front read: “Hollywood Sound Effects, Volume 6: Sounds of Terror.” Sean flipped the disc over. The back side reflected sharp lines of brilliant rainbow color when held at an angle to the light.

“What is this?” he said.

“Some weird kind of record maybe,” said Marcy.

“It’s a CD,” came a man’s voice from the opposite door. “Compact Disc.”

The three children looked up. The man was about thirty, not very tall with a mass of uncombed dark hair. He was eating what appeared to be chocolate pudding from a small plastic cup. The resemblance was immediately remarkable. He looked enough like Sean to be his Uncle, though Sean had never seen him before.

“Hey, you kids want a pudding cup?” he asked. “I got a whole fridge full of them. My favorite food in the world, and in here I can eat whatever I want.”

Their gaping jaws could issue no speech. Sean finally recovered enough to say: “Who are you?”

“Well, Sean,” said the man. “I . . . am you.”

He chuckled at their looks of identical stupefaction. “You sure you don’t want that pudding cup?”

NEXT TIME: Sean at twenty-eight. A proposition. Sean’s first kiss.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ghost Creek, Episode 1

A New Year and something different with this silly blog. (Less eye-straining look, too.) The sporadic attention I've paid to this thing has been in part because there's not much I want to say ABOUT my writing that I don't already say THROUGH my writing. In that spirit, here's some actual fiction output; an on-going serial that is very representative of my work. I promise I will be dilligent about posting episodes, and that I will do my best to keep them short. Please post comments (the course of the story may be influenced by reader input) and, if you like it, tell yer friends already!

This is very much an experiment. I'm not sure if anyone will even read the thing and, truthfully, I have only vague ideas about where the story is heading. But, writing "without a net" is also exciting to me. So, as my good friend The Lash might say . . .
come weez meee and I vill take you on an exciting journey . . .


Sean Preston, ten years old, squinted at the twisted rusty remains of the derailed train. The accident had been three years before. Everything valuable or dangerous had been removed in the days following the wreck, but the rest of the stuff was just left here to rot. Misshapen tadpoles swam in the pools of orange rusty water which had formed about the train detritus. Sean had caught a few to keep as pets in his bedroom. They grew into five and six-legged frogs which never lived very long.

“It is so muggy,” Bobby said. “I swear, I’m going to wilt.”

“Quit your bitching,” said Marcy. “God, you complain so much.”

Bobby Dent and Marcy Rollins, Sean’s two best friends. He had brought them along because they had been in his dream. It was important to remain as true to the dream as possible.

“Where are you taking us?” Bobby demanded.

“Down to the creek,” said Sean.

“Come on,” said Bobby. “I just got ‘Asteroids’ on my Atari. And my house has air conditioning.”

Sean walked down the tracks away from the site of the wreck. A few moments later, Bobby and Marcy followed.

“You had a dream about the creek?” Marcy asked. “That’s why you’re taking us down there?”

“I remembered something about what happened to me and Wilson,” Sean said. “I remembered where we were kept.”

“Kept?” Bobby gulped.

“Yeah,” said Sean. “In the dream, Wilson was still there. We found him.”

Marcy stopped. “You mean we found his body?”

“He was still alive,” Sean said. “Actually, he was still seven years old.”

“OK,” Bobby said. “Is anybody else freaked out by this? We should not be going down there by ourselves. If you really remembered something, you should tell your mom. Or the police.”

“They wouldn’t believe me,” Sean said.

“They’d believe you, freaky dream boy.”

They had come to the point where the creek ran under the tracks, through the big concrete pipe.

“There’s the creek,” Sean said. “When we get down there, we’ll see a snake swimming in the water.”

“Oh good, a snake. That really makes me want to go,” Bobby said.

“Come on.”

Without waiting for his friends to follow, Sean slid down the rocky hill. At the bottom, he saw the curving ‘S’ of the swimming snake slip from the mouth of the pipe.

“There it is,” he noted.

In his dream, it had been a milk snake, with colorful bands of red, black and yellow. This was just a common garter snake. The dreams often worked like that. Correct in the general but off in the particulars. Like when he had dreamed of buried treasure in his backyard, and had dug up the exact spot only to find a cache of old nudie magazines.

“All right,” Bobby said. “So you were right about the snake. That doesn't mean you're right about everything else.”

“We just follow the trail beside the water for a while.”

They walked down the wooded trail beside the gurgling creek, deeper into the timber than they usually went. Their heads were up, attuned to danger. Older kids, teenagers, also hung out down here and sometimes tormented the younger ones just for sport. There were whispers of darker things, too. The stream was called ‘Sugar Creek’ on all maps but among the children it was known as ‘Ghost Creek.’ Schoolyard rumors told of haunts roaming these woods at night, though anyone who claimed to have been down here in the dark was certainly a liar.

The creek forked and they made a splashing cross to follow the Southward tributary.

“God, are we almost there?” Bobby cried.

“This is where we get off the path,” Sean said.

Marcy looked at her watch. “I have to be home for dinner. It’s almost four now. It’s going to take us at least an hour to hike back.”

“It’s just a little further,” Sean said. “I promise.”

Sean led his friends off the path into the crunching undergrowth of the deep woods. Walking faster as the sights became more familiar. Every tree, every rock, every call of every bird was exactly as he had dreamed it.

“Just over this hill,” he called, breaking into a run.

Bobby and Marcy caught up to him just as he crested the hill. In the clearing below was a house.

“I knew it would be here,” Sean said. “I knew it.”

“That’s where,” Marcy swallowed dry spit, “you were taken?”

“Yes,” Sean cried. His eyes gleamed with tears of joy, or of terror.

The badly dilapidated two-story farmhouse had once been white, but the paint was flaked almost completely away, exposing weathered grey wood. Half the shingles were missing from the roof and a few gaping holes were visible. Every window had at least one pane busted out. The driveway led to a rutted, grown-over trail which might have once been a dirt road. Trees shrouded the property so completely it was not hard to imagine the house staying hidden for years.

“We are not going inside,” Bobby said. “Now that you know this place is here, we should just go home and call the police.”

“I hate to say it, but I’m with wuss-boy on this one,” Marcy concurred.

“You guys can wait outside if you want.”

Sean ran down the hill. His friends called after him, but he barely heard them. The old house held the answers to questions which had tormented him for three years.

Who had taken him?

What had they done to him?

What happened to Wilson?

Why couldn’t he remember anything?

The thirst for revelation outweighed everything else. Before Bobby and Marcy could catch him, Sean had stepped onto the rotting wood of the front porch. His hand was on the knob. He knew the door would not be locked.

From inside the house came a sound which Sean could not recall from even the darkest of his dreams.

A boy was screaming. Screaming for his life.

NEXT TIME- An unusual method for rodent control. A discussion of the weather. Why the caged boy screams.