The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp: A Film Review

antman and wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) movie poster

Yesterday, my nine-year-old grandson and I saw the film Ant-Man and the Wasp starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, and the amazingly cute Abby Ryder Fortson.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but I can’t promise to conceal everything.

I read another review of the film (and sadly, I must confess I can’t remember where) which said the movie was the story of three fathers, Scott Lang (Rudd), Hank Pym (Douglas) and Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), each trying to save their own daughters, although Foster isn’t biologically Ava’s (Hannah John-Kaman) Dad.

After seeing the movie, I’d say that’s a fair analysis, and as a Dad and Grandpa, I enjoyed this aspect of the film, especially since all three men are depicted as heroes, which is somewhat rare in today’s entertainment industry.

Of course, all three are flawed in some way, and they wouldn’t be interesting if they weren’t. Scott, for all of his good intentions, manages to screw up almost everything he tries for a good part of the film, but manages to redeem himself in the end.

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The Fan

maradona

© Susan Spaulding

“And here you go. My pride and joy, so to speak. Signed shirt from the great man himself.” Andrew Cullen puffed up his chest as he showed his friend Tommy Cabrera his trophy room. “Diego Maradona. Best footballer ever. Your American mates call what you have football, but this is the real deal.”

“I wasn’t always an American, Andrew, and I know what real football is.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry about that. You emigrated to the States from Argentina, right?”

“Yes.” Tomás and Andrew met online at a fiction writers forum five years prior and hit it off. Now Cabrera was visiting his friend in Swords, outside of Greater Dublin, while on a promotional tour. His fictionalized autobiography had become a runaway bestseller, and he had personal appearances scheduled for all over the UK and Europe.

“Anything the matter? You’ve gone awfully silent.”

“Just remembering, Andrew.” Tomás didn’t give voice to the memory of growing up in a totalitarian socialist regime, nor how Diego Maradona had unswervingly supported the communist dictators who had crushed the souls of his family, and nearly killed him. “Sorry. I can’t say I’m much of a fan.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for 15 July 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 191.

Being an American, I don’t know much about the World Cup, and in fact, I don’t follow sports even in my own country. I had to look up Diego Maradona and discovered he has a colorful history. I chose to focus on his political views and found out he supports a number of socialist dictators, including Carlos Menem, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chávez. No, I’m not much of a fan, either.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Industry

abortion industry

Image found at the European Centre for Law and Justice – ACLI Site Banner – Credit unavailable

Dr. Edna Thomas had drawn the proverbial short straw this month, and was assigned to the “Disposal Unit,” a slight euphemism for the plant that provided for the orderly disposal of what was left of the aborted “material” once the stem cells and other useful biological components had been removed.

Since inadvertent contact with the remains was always a possibility in so massive an operation, she had donned the required smock and gloves, though she wouldn’t use the mask and protective lenses unless the needed to personally examine the “leftovers” on the “production” floor.

“Reynolds, have you go the latest audit info uploaded to the database yet?” She turned to the IT tech sitting next to her at the control console in the glassed-in observation room.

“Just now, Doctor. Nationally, we’ve extracted and processed 108,773 units this month alone. That should keep the bosses happy.” Glenn Reynolds seemed to authentically enjoy his work here, and was totally unphased by all of the blood and tiny body parts passing by in buckets on six parallel conveyor belts.

“What about our plant?”

“Statewide? Wait one. Yes, here it is. Just over 2,100.”

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The Future King

peabody

© Google, 2017 – Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University

Twelve-year-old David Cohen experienced a rare moment of awe standing in the George Peabody Library. He’d been accepted in the Cantate, a part of the Peabody Children’s Chorus, certainly a tremendous honor, but a secondary achievement.

He had started reading at age two, mastered algebra at four, spoke five languages by six, and written his first symphony by eight.

His goal now was to devour the contents of this library in under six months, just as he had already consumed most data sources accessible online.

His mother used her influence as the President of the National Academy of Sciences to conceal David’s “talents.” If the government found out his IQ was rated somewhere between 300 and 450, they’d turn him into a lab rat when his ambition was to cure the ills of the world.

But even he had no idea that one day, he would be called King and Messiah.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Of course, I looked it up, but it wasn’t until I paid more attention to the image above and imagined myself standing in the middle of that library that I got my “hook, or rather part of it.”

Of course, the information about the Peabody Children’s Chorus figured into my tale, as did the ScienceTrends.com article Here Is The Highest Possible IQ And The People Who Hold The World Record.

But there was still one piece missing. What sort of goals should David have? I’d picked his last name at random, but then I realized that if one were to become the long-awaited Messiah, one would certainly have to train for it.

Unlike Christianity, in Judaism, the Messiah isn’t a supernatural being, but rather a wholly human Jewish male of the line of David and the tribe of Judah, who would grow to become both a great military leader, and a person of remarkable wisdom and piety.

150 words didn’t give me enough “space” to describe his religious training and accomplishments, so they’ll have to be assumed.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Boiling Point

sulfur pit

Lassen National Park Boiling Sulfur Pits – Found at Dailymotion.com

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon and When Hell Boils Over first.

After giving Alfred and Merlyn Landon’s invisibility cloak, and making sure they entered the secret entrance to the Moose King’s castle, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon used a separate and most secret entrance himself, this time straight to Hell, or as close as he could get without being dead or dying. Asmodius, the head of all of Hell’s demons, wouldn’t expect him to enter their realm by posing as one of the dead on a barge crossing the River Styx.

The dragon, Landon, and their magical companion Yao Jin had been exceedingly lucky to escape this place in the past. But he couldn’t let Landon die, and he would do anything to save the boy, including sacrifice his own life and soul. However, there was more involved in his quest than even that.

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The Wishing Tree

wishing tree

© Sue Vincent

Little Mari, a year younger than five-year-old Zooey Davidson, took her by the hand as they ran toward the wishing tree. In their free hands, they each held a colorful cloth provided by Tala, who looked like she could be Mari’s teenage sister but wasn’t.

“Danilo helped me put my first one up. Now I’ll help you.”

“Did your brother tell you what it is?”

“Of course. It’s a wishing tree.”

“What do you wish for?”

“Anything you want.”

“Can I wish to go home?”

“I don’t know. A lot of the kids don’t want to go home.”

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Epilogue: The Dragon’s Library

gerliliam

© James Pyles

“Dragons roared and children picked up musical instruments and played. Many alighted to the ground to dance, and the singers clung to tree branches like birds. It was a moment of grandeur and promise. But as bright as it was in the city of Vovin, the city of dragons and children, a dark night was coming.

“The end.”

The ancient dragon Gerliliam reclined in his favorite chair in front of the fireplace in his library, and slowly closed the book he had been reading.

“What do you mean ‘the end,’ Gerliliam? That can’t be the end. What about the Grey God? How are the kids supposed to get home? Does that mean the demons are going to come for us, too?” The excitable and feisty sparrow hopped annoyingly back and forth from one of the dragon’s shoulders to the other. In ages past the dragon would have simply swatted him with one of his wings, but then, that was ages past.

“Excuse me, but I think he’s right. You can’t stop reading now. There’s so much more to tell.” Mr. Covingham, a brightly colored garter snake, was comfortably curled on a pillow set on the floor, not too close to the fireplace, but not too far, either.

“But that’s what it says, my friends, ‘the end.’ That rather means there is no more to read.”

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Lost on Forlorn Seas

dragon

Japanese dragon

Kiyohira Arita was the only one in the lifeboat when he regained consciousness. What had happened? The eleven-year-old student had been on a ferry, the Shiun Maru. Yes, that was it. He was with his class on a school field trip crossing the Seto Inland Sea. The fog was so terrible. He and some of the other boys were on desk. He was trying to be brave, but he’d been freezing. Then he heard something, a horn of some kind. Then the world tore itself apart.

Now it was sunny and warm. Kiyohira had to take off his jacket because it was hot, like a summer day in the tropics though he knew it was only the beginning of May. Where was everybody? There must have been a crash, a collision. He looked in the water. No debris or wreckage. He looked further. Kiyohira knew she should be able to see land. They’d been in the middle of their transit so he shouldn’t be more than fifteen or twenty kilometers at most from the shore and even closer to one of the islands. They’d be impossible to miss on a day like this. Not a cloud in the sky.

But it was like he was in the middle of the ocean. He’d never been on the ocean before but he’d read books. Somehow he was put on a lifeboat after the collision and floated out to sea.

No, that was insane but how else could he have gotten here?

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Waiting For Time to Pass (Expanded Version)

airport

flight-airport-airplane-plane-34631 pixel photo

I can barely see them inside because of the glare on the window, but they all look like ordinary people flying out or flying in. Ordinary people getting on with their lives, unlike me. In the window, I can see the reflection of the plane behind me, the luggage carts, the main terminal, everything out here except my own rather ordinary face. You see, I don’t have one yet.

I caught “CBS Sunday Morning” on the tube and saw the front page of “USA Today.” It’s Wednesday, 11 July 2018. If I can keep from losing my mind another ten years or so, I’ll be back, at least that’s my theory. I’m glad I’m the inventor and not a test pilot. One of them wouldn’t have a clue as to what happened.

Oh, my name is Ernie Pratt. Actually, Dr. Ernest Irving Pratt (no relation to the actor), Ph.D in Temporal Mechanics, though I never thought I’d be the one to invent a time machine, even by accident. I was working on the core of an experimental time-space drive that would manipulate a tertiary quantum realm, ultimately propelling a vessel faster than light.

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