These days, I do nearly all my reading on an e-reader, currently an InkBook Obsidian, but I do on occasion return to the dead tree books of yore. Typically this will be because someone gave or loaned me said dead tree edition. Such was the case with Dune, which, being a door-stopper of a book, I eventually bought in e-form so I wouldn’t have to fight with it when reading at lunch; and such is the case with the Nero Wolfe books, which my father sent to me in a box a while back. I’ve read them all before, but now I’m reading them again, because who doesn’t like to spend some time visiting old friends? The one I’m currently into is Plot it Yourself, in which Wolfe goes up against a con artist with a fondness for pretending that popular novels are plagiarisms of his or her own work, and also for knives.
So I previously mentioned that, having finished “Breaking Bad“, I have now been charged with finding a new show that can catch and hold my wife’s attention. Although there’s been no shortage of suggestions on shows that might fit the bill, those who are familiar with my movie rating system (“This movie put my wife to sleep in X minutes”) will not be surprised to hear that the search is not going well. WARNING: Minor spoilers below!
No random rejections, reviews, or scans of early childhood scribblings this week — it’s the last day of my vacation! But rather than let Sunday go home empty-handed from Scribblings, here’s a randomly selected short story from the unpublished archives. Any resemblance to Night at the Museum is purely coincidental, as this story predates it by many years; any resemblance to the “Zuni Fetish Doll” episode of the old Trilogy of Terror television movie, on the other hand, is less coincidental, although I play the scenario more for comedy than for horror.
One interesting thing about this story is its reliance on the Internet for a few plot points, making it probably one of the first stories I wrote that did so. Another issue that befell this story is that, as I used to do with all my books and stories, it was originally stored in Microsoft Binder format — a format that has since been abandoned. Although there is an extractor that is supposed to be able to pull the contents of a Binder file out into their component files, it didn’t work all that well on this file, and I was forced to reconstruct it by looking at the binary (gibberish-filled) Binder file itself, and piece the story together that way. I think I got all of it, but I’m not completely sure (although I do know that the ending that’s there is original and complete). The moral of this story is to be wary of weird minor proprietary file formats, or else to make sure you always keep (and can run) a copy of the original software that created the files.
And now for our feature presentation, “The Patter of Little Feet”!
“Visions” is a story about a psychic who assists the police with catching a serial killer. I can’t say too much about it without giving away any important plot points, so I’ll just let it speak for itself. “Visions” appeared in the PDF-based magazine Blue Murder in May of 1999.
When the sheriff came to Ada’s house, she was waiting for him on the porch, rocking slowly in her grandmother’s cane glider. Iced lemonade sparkled in a tall pitcher beside her, the droplets of condensation on the glass mimicking the perspiration glistening on her bare neck and shoulders.
The sheriff parked his cruiser at the curb and walked slowly up the gravel path to the porch steps. “Afternoon, Ada,” he said.
“Afternoon, Dan.” She picked up the pitcher and refilled her glass, then rubbed it over her cheeks and forehead. She took a sip through the limp paper straw. The flow of liquid caused it to stiffen. The sheriff watched from the front steps, just out of the brutal August sun.
“Want some?” she said, proffering the pitcher.
“Looks good, Ada, but no thanks.” He scuffed his foot in the gravel. “Hot as hell today,” he said at length.
“Hotter.” Ada stretched a bare leg toward the railing, making her knee crack. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“Yeah?” He gently kicked the front of the bottom step. Thump, thump, thump. “Guess you know why I’m here, then.”
“Why, sheriff,” Ada said. “I expect it’s about the killings.”