Refuge Lake

resort by a lake

© A Mixed Bag 2013

Marco felt creepy whenever he made a delivery to the resort in the Sierra Nevada’s. Scenery changed from alpines and mountains to high desert and a salty lake.

He got a bonus for doing the run every month. He never knew what he was hauling. Once he arrived, he was paid to get drunk and play with barmaids. Next morning he drove his empty rig back to L.A.

The resort and wasn’t on any map. Whenever he got close to the place, his GPS went nuts.

One night after making a delivery, he tried talking to the local girl he’d had sex with.

“Say girl, what goes on here?”

“We’re just visitors, refugees starting a new life.”

“You look more Swedish than Syrian. Who you kidding?”

“Just go to sleep and don’t worry, boyfriend.”

When she was sleeping, Marco got up and looked out toward the lake. People swimming even at this hour in a glow under the water, but they weren’t exactly people. The light got brighter, then it broke the surface and sailed up into the heavens.

Marco muttered, “Refugees, but from up there.”

He turned around. Marion was standing behind him, nictitating membranes fluttering across ichthyic eyes.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for December 3rd 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

The image reminded me of a high desert lake and Mono Lake, CA is about the strangest lake I’ve ever seen. This doesn’t look like Mono Lake, but I wondered if I could somehow make this place not as it appears.

I saw that the truck to the left hand side of the frame said “Thermo-Express,” and a quick Google search turned up a trucking company from Los Angeles by that name. I doubt it’s related to the truck in the photo but I decided to use it anyway.

A salty lake with no inlet or outlet, a place that should be in the Sierra Nevada Mountains but then the terrain abruptly changes. A resort not on any map and that doesn’t register on GPS.

If alien refugees needed a safe and isolated place to settle and make a life for themselves, maybe it would be like this. They’d still need supplies from outside though, but for the right price and certain other incentives, maybe a driver could be convinced not to pay too much attention to what he was delivering.

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

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Audrey of the Sewers

 

sewer

© A Mixed Bag 2014

“Hey, kid.”

Twelve-year-old Jeff Edwards was crossing the street when he heard it.

“Down here.”

He looked down at the sewer drain.

“Come a little closer.”

“What the…?”

“Wait! It’s not what you think.”

Jeff stopped. The drain was securely grated so he figured nothing could get out. Then he felt something. A little vine had wrapped around his ankle. He pulled but was stuck.

“No, stop!”

“C’mon, I haven’t had a descent meal in forever. Getting tired of rats, mice, and dead goldfish.”

“Somebody help me!”

The vine got stronger, growing sharp spines.

“Just a few toes, I promise.”

“Ka-chunk”. Jeff saw Old Man Henderson slamming his ax down on the vine cutting it in two.

“Run, boy.”

Jeff jumped to the sidewalk.

“Figured this thing’d grown back by now.” He was wearing a metal tank on his back. The sexagenarian grabbed the tank’s hose by the nozzle and sprayed liquid into the grate.

“No. Please. Crap, that hurts. Stop.”

The plant’s voice faded. Jeff looked and saw nothing green was there anymore.

“Damn plant,” cursed Henderson. “My neighbor Seymour dumped it in the sewer but the alien keeps coming back. Herbicide’ll put it down. Best run along, Jeffy.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for 12 November 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

When I saw the sewer grate, I immediately thought of the 2017 film It based on Stephen King’s novel. I’ve never seen the film and never will (mainly because I don’t find being scared to death entertaining), but I’ve seen the advertising and the image of the clown peeking out of the sewer drain in the gutter is iconic.

However, I didn’t want to just re-write the same story and seeing a bit of plant life growing out of the grate, I took a look at the 1986 version of the movie Little Shop of Horrors based on the off-Broadway play and starring Rick Moranis as florist Seymour Krelborn.

In that movie (which I’ve never seen either), Seymour used an alien plant he named Audrey II (the original Audrey is his girlfriend) to draw business to his florist shop before realizing that the plant liked to eat human flesh and blood. The film ended when Seymour electrocuted the plant which destroyed his shop. Subsequently, he and Audrey married and settled down in the suburbs. However, a smiling Audrey II bud can be seen among the flowers in the front yard in the movie’s last scene.

I decided to extend that idea, having Seymour find the bud and flush it down the toilet. Audrey II survives, but old man Henderson, having discovered the carnivorous plant and realizing what it was, keeps it in check each spring with his ax and a tank of herbicide. He’d been working in his yard when he heard Jeff scream and, knowing what happened, grabbed what he needed and put Audrey II down for another year.

I just wrote this tale for the fun of it, mixing a serious horror movie with a horror-comedy musical.

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

Epilogue: Key Out of Time

key out of time

Cover to one of the paperback editions of Norton’s 1963 novel “Key Out of Time”.

Circa 1333 BCE – Egypt

“So you’re the legendary Sennedjem, called the Overseer of Tutors, Father of the God, Beloved of the God, and Fan-bearer of the Right Hand of the King. Such illustrious titles for a glorified teacher.”

“And you Ross Murdock, can only see and hear me because who I was, the legend and the man, was recorded in an alien artifact over 3300 years before you were born. Thanks to an extensive telepathic session with similar but dissimilar aliens, you are able to interpret that recording through means even a man of your experiences would find astounding.”

The 21st century time traveler and former professional thief didn’t seem to find it strange that he was standing on a balcony in a palace overlooking an ancient Egyptian city, and yet the city was not a ruin, but a living, breathing community of men and women, from the very young to the very old. He was dressed as he expected to dress when not on assignment, yet the man called Sennedjem was attired as an 18th Dynasty Egyptian.

“You brought me here to tell me something, Sennedjem. What? You’re an alien?”

“Hardly. I am as human as you are and we have something else in common. We both know about aliens and time travel.”

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I See You: An Alternate Ending

bridges-dickinson

Lloyd Bridges and Angie Dickinson in the 1970 made for TV movie “The Love War”.

Allan didn’t need the glasses to read and he didn’t even need them to survive, not anymore. He had written an app so that it accessed the camera on his phone, letting it perform the task of detecting his adversary automatically.

He took a seat in the back of the coffee shop where he had a clear view of everyone coming and going. He had ordered the establishment’s trademark latte more to blend in than because he liked it.

To the world around him, he looked like a middle-aged man, blond, athletic, bronzed from the sun. He could have just finished a game of tennis or golf.

In front of him was a mystery novel by a well-known author whose name was, as they say, a household word. And yet Allan couldn’t have told you any other books the writer had penned. Like the latte, it was camouflage. Even his name was misdirection and subterfuge.

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I See You

bridges1

Actor Lloyd Bridges in the 1970 television movie “The Love War”.

Allan didn’t need the glasses to read but he did need them to survive.

He took a seat in the back of the coffee shop where he had a clear view of everyone coming and going. He had ordered the establishment’s trademark latte more to blend in than because he liked it.

To the world around him, he looked like a middle-aged man, blond, athletic, bronzed from the sun. He could have just finished a game of tennis or golf.

In front of him was a mystery novel by a well-known author whose name was, as they say, a household word. And yet Allan couldn’t have told you any other books the writer had penned. Like the latte, it was camouflage. Even his name was misdirection and subterfuge.

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The Visitors

spaceship

From “The Invaders” television program (1967-68)

The strange irony was not lost on David Vincent when his car’s GPS device failed to lead him to the all-night diner off the old state highway and instead revealed a horrifying discovery.

“Damn it.” The young architect, driving through a remote area of Arizona after meeting a developer at the proposed site of a new data center, wanted to grab a cup of coffee before continuing his drive back to Los Angeles. It was after midnight and he was exhausted. Instead of a hot coffee and maybe a pastry, he found a restaurant closed for over a year. No town, not even a gas station within miles.

“I can’t make it. Got to get some rest.”

He pulled his Audi R8 off to the side of the building and after stepping out to relieve himself on a dying shrub, returned to the car’s interior and prepared for an uncomfortable nap in the front seat.

At first he thought he was dreaming. There was a shrill sound getting louder, fluctuating in tone. David opened his eyes and looked out the windshield. Off to his left, around the corner of the building. Bright, multicolored lights. He got out and hiding in the shadow of the old diner, peered around the side.

It was big, about the size of a two-story house. A short cylinder flaring out at the bottom. Three…no, four landing struts. It was setting down. There were windows in the top part of the cylinder. He could see figures moving inside. Then a light shone down one of the landing struts. Stairs. Figures were coming out. People. No, they couldn’t be.

“It began with a closed, deserted diner, and a man too long without sleep to continue his journey. It began with the landing of a craft from another galaxy…Now, David Vincent knows that the invaders are here. That they have taken human form. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.”

The Invaders was an American television show that ran on ABC in 1967-68 and starred Roy Thinnes as David Vincent, a man who had witnessed the landing of an alien spacecraft and learned that their intention was to invade and take over the Earth.

The last bit of narrative above in italics is taken from the opening title sequence and was dramatic as heck to me when I was thirteen years old.

I was reminded of the show when I read a piece of fan fiction earlier this morning, so I decided to recreate that opening for 2017. Below is a YouTube video of the show’s opening sequence. To find out what happens to my version of David Vincent next, read The Hidden.

Incursion

ice station zebra

From the 1968 film “Ice Station Zebra”.

Kelgarries wanted the job done in a month, but he was a soldier, not an engineer. The construction and precision placement of twin temporal gates, one at the highest point on Vila do Porto, one of the smaller islands of the Azores, and the other at the epicenter of the Tunguska Event, some 65 kilometers north-northwest of the town of Vanavara, could not be rushed, particularly at the stage of configuring the fusion generator for each and then applying power to the gates.

Both gates had to be absolutely synchronized in power output and frequency for their plan to work.

The plan? To intercept an experimental alien space and time craft that launched nearly 4,000 years ago from what used to be the main island in the Atlantis chain, where now remains only the tiny islands of the Azores, and due to explode in the atmosphere above a remote portion of Siberia on June 30, 1908. The field the gates would generate between the launch and crash points would create a nexus in the time stream intersecting with the ship and sending it off source to another place in the far distant past.

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Nereid

atlantis

Atlantis: The last sunrise by batkya

Now in this island of Atlantis, there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia…But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the substance of the island.

Plato from Timaeus 25

“You’ve done what?” Aiyana Zheutlin knew their next mission would be particularly dangerous and it would be difficult to travel back in time to an island that does not exist in the present, but what Colonel John Kelgarries was telling her sounded insane.

“Given the extraordinary situation we’re presented with, I think it’s the most reasonable solution and the Temporal Research Group, including Dr. Barnes, agrees with me.”

Ashe’s team was meeting with Kelgarries for the pre-mission briefing, however in addition to Antoine Barnes there were two other people seated around the conference table who were not normally present. The first was Thomas Lucius, now the top time gate technician at the Project and sometimes called “the Control Voice”. The second was a Naval Officer who introduced himself as Captain Owen Redfeld.

“Dr. Zheutlin, I would not have authorized this if I didn’t believe it was perfectly safe. True, it is an unorthodox application of our temporal technology, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work.”

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The Moaning Stone

rock

© CEAyr

“We’ve hiked three days to get here, Jason. Are you sure it’s worth it?”

“According to the old library book it should be.”

Jason and Jill climbed down the heavily wooded gully. “Should be around…there. The moaning rock.”

“Just a big rock, Jason.”

Then they heard the moan.

“I don’t like this Jason. Let’s go back.”

“Wait.”

“Alone.” The voice from the rock sounded like the wind.

“Are you the spirit?” The book was written eighty years ago by a hiker who said the rock was haunted.

“Home.” Lights started shining from deep depressions.

“No, Jason. Not spirits. A spaceship.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long based on the photo above. My word count is exactly 100.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture of the rock is that it looked like it was somehow alive. I was torn between making it a horror story or science fiction. Jason and Jill almost had their souls eaten by spirits. Then I decided for a happier ending.

To read other stories inspired by the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Tomorrow or Yesterday?

yesterday, today, tomorrow

Found at flickr.com

Major John Kelgarres had been the military commander of Operation Retrograde for over five years but in all that time, he’d never gone through a gate. Not until today.

“Are you sure your presence is really required John. After all, we know our job.”

“It’s not you Gordon. I’m Walter Byrd’s C.O. I’m responsible for the safety of the men and women under my command. Byrd’s been out of touch for a long time. He and his people have been stuck tens of thousands of years in the past. They thought we gave up on them, they thought they were alone, cut off. If there’s any doubt he’ll order his team to come home, I’m here to see otherwise.”

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