The Ronnenberg Confession

 

girl in cave

Image credit – Michal Matczak

The Haunted Wordsmith proposed a challenge whereby participants would pick the book of their choice (hardcopy or digital), turn to page 62, select line 6, and use that as the basis for crafting a poem, short story, or some other creative work.

Since I just checked out Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle from the public library, I decided to use that:

“And must have all the other artifacts in stock examined by University lab.”

As Professor Sterling Piper’s senior research assistant, twenty-two year old Gabriela Wallace had a valid key card to access his private research lab in McCarthy Hall at all hours. However, she still crept like literal thief in the night, dressed all in black, including gloves, and wearing sound absorbing shoes. It was after eleven on a Friday night as she navigated the work benches and displays by dim light.

If anyone checked the logs and discovered she’d been here, she could easily say she’d been catching up on collating recent samples sent over from Scripps, which she sorely needed to do. However, her mission tonight was notably different and infinitely more critical.

The straps of her backpack were uncomfortably tight, but she couldn’t afford to have the weight on her back moving enough to make noise. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous as beads of sweat continued to form on her toffee-colored forehead, except that if she was caught, she could be condemned as an enemy of the state and executed.

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The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don’t apply here. There’s no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

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Koi no Yokan

man on beach

Man on a beach – free stock photo

The sky was a brilliant cyan when she first saw him on the beach. He was staring out at the ocean as if witnessing a tragedy and in spite of her vow of utter celibacy, she experienced an overwhelming sense of Koi no Yokan. Whispering a curse and then immediately regretting it, Merilyn continued her run across the shoreline leaving the solitary young man behind.

The hostel was serving thin Miso soup and fish again that evening when he walked in. Merilyn tried not to roll her eyes as Donn, at the head of the table, was again vaunting about his prowess with the Shinai and how he was sure to win the Kendo games which would begin the next week. They heard a noise at the door and she recognized the man from the beach standing at the threshold. Tradition demanded that even an ego as big as Donn’s cease pontificating so they could greet the visitor.

They each in turn stood and bowed to the stranger, introducing themselves and welcoming him to the competitor’s hostel. He bowed in return in a gradual manner which she would learn was his way in social settings, though most certainly not during battle.

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Dead Man’s Life

Passchendaele

The Passchendaele Battlefield – World War I – Found at World War One Battlefields Blog

I’m dead. I used to be a man, a husband, Dad, Grandpa. Now I’m a corpse. Maybe my body is still lying in the hospital bed where I died, maybe it’s at the Funeral Home by now, or it could even be six feet under. I can’t tell how much time has passed since time doesn’t mean anything to a dream.

That’s what I really am, a dream but I’ve got a problem. I used to be a man in a coma dreaming myself into different versions of people’s lives, in the past in other countries, and even in the future on another planet. But then the dreamer dreaming me died so how am I still here? Who is dreaming me?

Whoever it is, I should thank them I suppose. I mean it’s a really nice dream. I like the ocean. I used to live not far from it, maybe seven miles. Today, I’m walking on my own private beach. It’s a bright, sunny summer day and there’s not a soul in sight. No roads, no buildings, nothing show that anyone has been on this beach ever except me.

I can hear the sound of the surf, sea birds overhead, a breeze blowing through tree branches on my left, but no traffic noise, no talking, no airplane or boat motors. It’s like the world was created just for me. Lucky me.

“Jonathan.”

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Restoration

mosasaurus

A mosasaurus as seen in the 2015 film “Jurassic World”.

“So you’re saying that as a direct result of our time incursion preventing the experimental Forerunner time-spaceship from causing the Tunguska blast and subsequent runaway global warming, we caused this massive change in history. A history where Leif Erikson and Christopher Columbus never visited the New World. A world where Europe never colonized the Americas and the native population was free to develop their own culture into the 21st century. Now, I’ve got a base in Southern Nevada surrounded by a foreign and potentially hostile military force and I can’t find any way to defend them.”

Colonel John Kelgarries, responding to Dr. Antoine Barnes, Project Retrograde’s Chief Temporal Scientist, had been listening to a briefing about his latest analysis of the changes in the timeline. Kelgarries and the rest of the Project were racing against the clock. Their facility at Basecamp was under siege by the military forces of the Southern Palutes State, part of the Hokan-Penutian nation which encompassed all of what used to be California and parts of Oregon, Nevada, and the Baja Peninsula.

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