Cold Front with a Chance of Thunderstorms


Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”

The weatherman lied. That must be it.

I’m so careful not to get caught outside even when there’s a few clouds in the sky. I hate the rain, I hate it.

The weather forecast said there was supposed to be plenty of sunshine and a high of 78 degrees. No one mentioned a possibility of a freak cold front from the northwest dropping temperatures into the 50s within minutes accompanied by a sudden thunderstorm.

It must be because of that tornado, the one that came from outside. Dropped a house on my sister it did, and ruined my chances of getting those ruby slippers of hers.

Now I’ll never get them off of that little brat Dorothy, curse Glinda the Good Witch of the North.

The storm’s almost over but it’s too late. I’m melting.

No One’s Luck Could Be This Bad



From the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

I used to think I was the luckiest freighter pilot this side of hyperspace, but obviously my luck’s running out.

Oh, I’m Camdon Rod, owner and operator of the jump freighter Ginger’s Regret. My partner in this operation is the real Ginger, the woman the ship is named after. There’s just one catch: Ginger’s a ghost.

I didn’t used to think she was, not really. I always figured she was some sort of one-in-a-million aberration of hyperspace physics and the quantum wonkiness of how jump drives work. After all, Ginger was “killed” over fifty years ago when she was EVA while the Regret’s jump drive activated due to an accidental power surge.

But we found out recently that hyperspace is where souls go when sentient beings die, at least I think that’s what we found out.

Ginger and I don’t talk about it. What’s there to say? She’s a soul or spirit or something that can’t get into hyperspace with the rest of them. So I guess that makes her a ghost.

That’s not what I’ve been complaining about though. You know, about my luck running out?

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Temptations of the Prince



Immediately after Dov was revealed to be the heir apparent to the vast Stellar Empire, he was transported to the dwarf planet Arideen by his eternal adversary Serphentine. He was left there for a period of forty standard days with no rations and no shelter in order to contemplate all of the ramifications of his state.

At the end of that time, Serphentine arrived to confront the weakened Prince Dov. The brilliant illumination offered by the dense galactic cluster provided the dramatic backdrop to their encounter on the barren plains of a rock that was just barely larger than an asteroid.

“I am well aware of your abilities young Prince and equally aware of your hunger and thirst. If you really are heir to the Great King, prove it. Command the sand and rock to be your food and drink. I enjoy a good magic show.”

Dov was sitting on the very rocks Serphentine intended to see turned into a banquet. He looked up from his humble position at the tall, dark, and exquisitely handsome noble standing over him.

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Final Justice


Image: ThreeZero Fallout 4 Power Armor Preview from

The armored figure walked into Mickey’s Bar, his eyes glowing a murderous red. The patrons, which included several high-ranking members from the criminal underworld, four on-the-take police officers, a Judge, a Deputy County Prosecutor, and the head of the Local 453rd, all stopped as if possessing one body and stared in disbelief. Mickey, who was tending bar himself this evening, momentarily considered reaching for the shotgun he kept under the bar, but the last time he tried to shoot The Sheath, things hadn’t worked out so well.

For several seconds, no one moved and even The Sheath, his steel-alloy armor reflecting the dim light inside the bar, merely moved his head slowly from side to side taking in the scene as if deciding who to kill first.

Finally Vinnie Russo, underworld kingpin and reputedly the most powerful man in the city, stood. He was trembling, which was uncharacteristic of him, but given the circumstances, quite understandable. The cigar he had been smoking dropped unnoticed from his mouth.

“You…you’re dead! I killed you myself! I pulled off your helmet and put a bullet through your brain!”

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New Brain


Image: Fox News

Alec Reed was at the end of his rope. At age 62, he could no longer keep up with the younger software developers at Intellidrive and accusations of “ageism” or not, if his performance fell too much further, he’d be out of a job.

Before the divorce, he’d have just put in for early retirement, but when Neena left him, she took just about everything including a non-trival percentage of their savings. Now he needed to keep working another five years at least if he hoped to maintain even a halfway decent portion of his current standard of living once he decided to retire.

Getting older was a curse in an industry of the young. Alec’s thinking, reasoning abilities, problem solving skills were all lagging behind the twenty-somethings that were being hired at a startling rate by Intellidrive.

Seniority and a generally good work record kept Alec at the company for the past twenty-two years, but his new, young supervisor wasn’t letting him rest on his so-called laurels. Alec was supposed to produce on par with his junior peers and if he couldn’t, he was easily replaced.

That’s why he had stolen his son’s supply of New Brain.

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Halloween Horror Story Special

shadow man


In going through the short stories I’ve written for this the “Powered by Robots” blog so far, and keeping in mind that Halloween is coming up fast (which is the favorite celebration of some folks who like things such as science fiction, fantasy, and horror), I compiled a list of five tales for my “Halloween Special offering”.

Have a look at these:

The Oppressed People: From the Chronicles of the Diluvian Kings

Shay the Dragon had been terrorizing the People of the Village for untold generations. Today, having heard from the King’s men that the dragon had been severely injured and was lying wounded in her lair, the People decided to strike back and to kill their ancient foe. But what the People find inside that lair is far different from what their legends of the dragon tell.

Last Night of the Vampire

Adrian is a vampire trapped in downtown Los Angeles with thousands of people who have been quarantined from the rest of the city due to the outbreak of a deadly plague. Will Adrian prey on his helpless victims to their extinction or is he their only hope for survival?

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The Homecoming



Thanks to the revolutionary Roddenberry-Cochrane drive, Ellis Vanderberg was able to travel to Proxima Centauri A, the closest Earth-like planet to our own, perform a year-long survey of its one continent and the six largest islands, and then return home in a little over four decades.

Of course, due to the time dilation effect, much more time passed on Earth than Vanderberg experienced during his trip. That’s the good and bad thing about traveling in interstellar space at a significant faction of the speed of light.

Vanderberg was twenty-two years old when he was launched into space. The only son of Billionaire Charles Vanderberg, he had volunteered to test the space craft and experimental drive his father’s corporation invented. The government first insisted that the journey not be made, but the Vanderberg fortune and influence insisted otherwise. Then they insisted that a team of trained astronauts and mission specialists be sent instead of Ellis, but again, the Vanderberg fortune and influence won out.

In the end, Charles Vanderberg got his way and Ellis Vanderberg got the singular honor of being the first person to travel to another planet outside of our Solar System.

Now he’s back. Ellis knew that much more time had passed for the people of Earth than he experienced. Subjectively, he was a man in his mid-sixties, but he expected his parents, his sisters, his friends, everyone he’d ever known would be dead.

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Chewed Up and Spit Out



“We wouldn’t have gotten a divorce if you were more responsible, Joe. I’ve told you a thousand times that you shouldn’t be so late in bringing Timmy home after your visits.”

Joe hated these lectures, which was why he avoided his ex-wife most of the time. It was why he waited as long as he could after his every-other-weekend visits with his five-year-old son to take him back to Janet’s place.

Ignoring Janet, or trying to, Joe knelt down in front of his uncertain and anxious son. “Hey, buddy. Did we have a great time or what?”

Remembering the late-night pizza and ice cream blitz after all day at the amusement park, Timmy grinned. “We sure did, Dad.”

Joe became serious for a few seconds and put his arms around the little boy. “I love you, son.”

“I love you too, Daddy.” Timmy threw his tiny arms around his Dad’s neck and squeezed. Then feeling his Dad start to stand, he let go.

“See you next time, killer.” Joe grinned at the boy.

“See you later, Daddy.” Timmy wasn’t smiling. He was sad to see his Dad go and wished they could spend more time together.

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They’re Finally Here


From the mini-series “It” (1990)

“I’m getting tired of all these clowns trying to lure our kids into the woods or back alleys and I’m going to stop them any way I can.” Brett stuffed the business end of his .45 into his waistband as he opened the back door.

“No, please don’t.” His wife Sheila ran up to him and grabbed his free arm, then staggered backward as her furious husband shook off her grip.

Nine-year-old Teddy and his six-year-old sister Pam were peeking into the kitchen from the hallway not knowing who to be more scared of, the clowns or Daddy.

For months, reports of clowns wandering the streets of communities all across America had been in the news, but in Alanville, Idaho, things had taken a frightening turn.

The small, rural town in the center of the state, famed for its apple orchards, had a population of barely 5,000. It was the type of American community where everyone still knew their neighbors, people waved and said hello as they passed each other on the sidewalk, and doors on cars and houses were only occasionally locked. It was what magazines called a “family friendly community,” a wonderful place to raise children, or at least it had been up until last month.

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Tuning In

flash of lightFrom the Flight Log of Freighter Pilot Camdon Rod

Just completed the jump into the Brinelli system and my head’s ringing like the Cathedral bells at the Lovibian convent on New Mederine. This is the fifth jump where I’ve heard ringing and come away with a splitting headache, and it gets worse with each jump.

Yeah, you know me. My name’s Camdon Rod and I’m the owner/operator of the jump freighter Ginger’s Regret. Right now, I’m regretting taking the job to haul replacement Calidantian micro-spanners to Brinelli for their underwater mining operations. Sure, the price is right since they can’t run the hydro-drills without these parts, but what the heck is happening to my head after each hyperjump?

This has never happened to me before. As you know, any ship equipped with a jump drive plots a virtual point-to-point connection between origin and destination points through hyperspace. The trip is instantaneous from a lifeform’s point of view and it’s impossible to perceive anything about the jump whatsoever, or at least it’s supposed to be.

No time to get careless. A distracted pilot is a dead pilot.

“Brinelli central control to Ginger’s Regret. Acknowledge completed jump.”

There’s Brinelli’s standard acknowledge call. “This is Ginger’s Regret acknowledging jump. Cutting in space norm engines. Estimate landing Ispanzu Port 1450 hours local time.”

“Confirming Regret’s estimated arrival at Ispanzu at 1450 hours local. Welcome to Brinelli. Enjoy your stay.”

“Acknowledge and thanks. Regret out.”

I’m just about gritting my teeth against the pain in my skull but I think it’s starting to ease off some. And so it goes.

“Need some pain killers, lover?”

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