Tag Archives: father

Piety by Proximity – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Piety by Proximity

My dad believed in piety by proximity. His nightstand was a stack of Bibles. My desk lamp was holy, he told me.

“It’ll keep you safe from demons,” he said.

“What’s a demon?”

“It’s like a cross between a deer and a lemon, I think.”

One day, I went on a field trip to the cathedral and saw a row of lamps like mine, one missing.

“Did you steal my lamp?” I asked him later.

“They have five more,” he protested.

“What about the eighth commandment?”

“I didn’t covet it; I just took it.”

I suggested he read his nightstand.


The Family Chain – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright C. Hase

Copyright C. Hase

The Family Chain

The gaping hole in our backyard was my father’s retirement fund. There was gold down there somewhere; his father and grandfather had sworn on it.

It started with ten grand pirated from my college savings for digging equipment and from then on yielded a steady -20% return on investment until his bankrupt deathbed.

“I failed,” he told me. “Finish the work. Find my gold.” And I felt the heavy chain being passed to me.

I waited until after his final breath to put down that chain forever. I couldn’t let him see me do it. It would have killed him.


Blue Lightning Express

I’ve been away a lot lately, but thank you to those who have stuck with me.
My Fiction T’s promotion ended last Wednesday and the winners of the free t-shirts were Amy Reese and Sharmishtha Basu! Many thanks to each of them for sharing my post and many thanks to Mike, Miles, Alicia, Dale, and Raluca for sharing it as well. If I missed anyone, I am sincerely sorry.

Blue Lightning Express

It was a question that children asked and their parents lied about because they didn’t know: where does the blue lightning send things? Every day at midnight, a single bolt of blue lightning struck the weather vane of the municipal building and whatever was in the iron chamber beneath disappeared without a trace.

The chamber was known as the Celestial Chariot, because of a legend that said it was a pathway to Heaven. These days, however, the town used it to dispose of their garbage.

It wasn’t something you thought about after a while. I stayed up late once and snuck out with Pete just before midnight to see it hit. You could see a sapphire glow start to build high up in the sky for about a minute before and then, wham! A bolt of silent blue energy shot down to kiss the weather vane and a wriggling blue snake of afterglow danced in front of your eyes as the darkness returned.

After you’d seen it once, it was no big deal, just part of life in the small town. Didn’t every town have this? I didn’t know. I didn’t care either, not until the day it changed my life.

I was playing out in the field behind our house. I was the Indian with a little homemade bow of string and stick whose arrows couldn’t have killed a sick mosquito. I was sneaking up on Pete, who was the cowboy that day, when there was a gunshot from town and then another one. It sounded like adventure and to young boys, adventure had the attraction of a black hole. We were running towards the middle of town when my mother came running towards us. Her face was so white, I thought she was wearing powder. She grabbed me and propelled me, struggling, home.

“I want to see what’s going on,” I yelled. She didn’t say a word. Pete gave me a look of sympathy and kept running for the town center.

My mother pushed me inside and locked the door and for an hour I pressed my face to the window, trying to see what had happened while my mother sobbed at the kitchen table.

She never told me what had happened, but I found out soon enough anyway. They had caught my father. He had “been with Mrs. Larson”, the mayor’s wife. I didn’t see the harm in that: they’d been together lots of times at town picnics and whatnot, but apparently this time it was a terrible thing. They had dragged him to the municipal building and threw him into the iron chamber. All day he lay in there, screaming and banging on the inside. Then at midnight, while I lay sleeping and oblivious, the blue lightning had struck and disappeared him.

No one spoke of him again. Not my mother, not Pete, not the men who had pushed him into that terrible chamber and locked the door.

I played along, not speaking of him, even when I got older and came to understand what he had really done. I kept the memory of him alive in my heart, surrounded by a prickly layer of hate for everyone who had done that to him. They never knew and I never let on.

My mother wasted away and for a year before she died of fever, she was like a living ghost, flitting silently around the corners of town life. Mrs. Larson kept presiding over town socials and picnics, beaming the smile of the sublime hypocrite. And no one said a word.

I inherited my father’s slight physique as I grew up and they nicknamed me Slim. Slim was a good old boy, who loved to laugh and have a drink with the guys after work. He was good folk and no one talked about that thing his papa had done once. He was a guy you could trust, so much so that they made him the mayor one day. They made him mayor and gave him the key to the iron chamber, with a smile and a handshake.

We went out to celebrate that night and drank together, one of mine for every three of theirs. Then when they were all asleep, I took a wagon and rode out to the mining shed two miles south of town. I came back with it loaded high with dynamite and stacked it like cordwood in and around the iron chamber. I set a long fuse and locked the door.

I was going to ride away without a word, but at the last minute, I rang the town bell. It was after 11:30 pm. The people staggered out of their houses and I quelled their cheers for me.

“Twenty years ago, you dragged a man and locked him in the iron chamber,” I said. “You killed him without a trial. Now your judgment is here.” I told them about the dynamite. I had expected some bravado but not a one would risk his life to save their precious town. They scattered like cockroaches, riding hard to escape the blast.

I rode up to the bluffs and just as I arrived, an azure glow began to build. Suddenly, blue lightning arced down from the heavens, right into the municipal building, but this time there was an answer. The building erupted into a fireball that engulfed the town, wiping it from the earth. I camped the night up on the bluffs, planning to ride away the next day.

The next day the air reeked of garbage and I looked out over the town to see a massive mountain of refuse and broken odds and ends. One man staggered through the debris of a century, looking lost and dazed. I almost rode my horse to death getting down to him.

“Papa!” I said.

He looked up, squinting. “Who are you?”

“John, your son.”

He ran a hand over his face. “But you’re all grown! The last I remember, I was in that box.”

“That was twenty years ago, papa.”

He looked around. “There’s an awful lot of garbage around here.”

“Yes papa, but it’s all gone now,” I said. “I think it’s best we be moving on.”


The Re-Genesis Hour – Sunday Photo Fiction

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

The Re-Genesis Hour

There was still half an hour before dawn when Gina, the serving maid, slipped open the door. The boy pulled himself down the steps, scuttling sideways on his misshapen stumps and keeping a hand on the railing for support. Once outside, he pulled himself through the dewy, cold-shock grass. The world was fresh and alive in its daily re-genesis.

A rabbit ducked out of a thicket to his left and he gave chase for the sheer fun of it. The rabbit won, escaping back to its hole just before the boy reached it. He laughed and stood there for a moment, palms flat on the ground, cold and wet.

He continued on, farther and farther until he reached a road he had never seen before, going down to a high iron gate. A car was coming down from the house, its powerful headlights sweeping over him as he ducked back into the bushes. Not fast enough. The car stopped and a man and woman got out.

“What in Heaven’s name is that? It’s hideous.”

“George, please. I—”

“What is it!”

“It’s your son, George.”

.

.

.

.

.

“I have a son?”


Truck Reborn – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright Roger Bultot

Copyright Roger Bultot

Truck Reborn

The state fair was abuzz with the news: a boy had grown a truck for his 4-H project.

“How did you do it?” the judge asked.

“I planted part of the chassis and watered it with motor oil, infused with Miracle-Gro,” the boy said dully. His was the only unexcited face in sight. “It doesn’t matter: it didn’t work.”

“What do you mean? This is a miracle! You took a wrecked truck and brought it back to life.”

“But I did it for my dad.”

“Ah,” the judge said. “Where is he?”

“He was in the truck when it wrecked.”

 


Superdad

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had the time, energy, and Internet access to do the Sunday Photo Fiction story. Hopefully, though, I can continue this from now on though.

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

Superdad

“You know, Harry,” I said, sitting down on a bench overlooking the lake. “This is where I went to camp when I was young. That’s when I found I had powers.”

“Is this like how you say you have eyes on the back of your head?” my son Harry asked.

“Kind of,” I said. Except I could use my mind to move things. I was out one night and suddenly—POW!—a boulder almost fell on me. I picked it up with my mind and threw it in the lake. SPLASH!”

“So, you’re like a Superdad?” Harry asked, skepticism oozing from his expression. “Well, do something now to prove it.”

“Ooh sorry, I’m retired now. Being a father and all, you know.”

“Yeah. Can we get ice cream now?”

“Sure,” I said. Harry stood up and walked towards the roadside ice cream stand.

“You almost had him there,” a middle-aged man sitting nearby commented.

“I don’t know; kids are pretty shrewd these days. Excuse me for a moment.” I could see a swimmer across the lake struggling in deep water. I pulled him into the shallows, turned and nodded to the man, then followed Harry to get ice cream.


My Father is Dying in the Desert

 

My Father is Dying in the Desert

The Stone Emperor was dying. It was just the two of us now, wandering across the burning expanse of desert, towards the far-off dream of the ocean. I staggered along in his shadow as he towered over me. The sand trembled as he walked—one step for every fifty of my own.

“I must stop.” He sank down slowly onto the sand. More rocky scales fell from his skin; more of his molten blood oozed out.

“We are almost to the ocean, Father!” I shouted up to him. Ever since he had adopted me when I was little, I had ridden on his high, craggy shoulder, but not now. Now he literally glowed as his life’s magma seeped out through a thousand cracks. Humans could not know the diseases that afflicted a rock giant.

“This is the end,” he rumbled. “You have been a good son, more faithful than any of my own strata. Stay with me, until the end.”

The sun went down slowly and although the air was cold, the escaping life of my father kept me warm.

“God in heaven,” I prayed. “Keep him alive until we reach the ocean.”

During the night, I awoke to rain falling, hissing and spitting as it cooled and healed the Stone Emperor’s skin, sealing in his heat. God had not brought us to the ocean; he had brought the ocean to us in the desert.


5 Minutes = 5 Years of Therapy

“You want to hear a story? Let me tell you about the real Jennifer. I won’t tell you about the time in kindergarten when she proposed to the mailman, or that time in high school when she somehow caught her shirt on fire on her first date. No, this story comes from the year 1994, when our little angel was only 8. She had a part in the Thanksgiving play at school. As a Pilgrim? As an Indian? Nope, as a turkey! Yeah, that’s right, we always knew she was a turkey and now she had the costume to prove it.

“Seriously though, she volunteered for the role because she only had two words to say: ‘I’m delicious!’ And even that scared her to death. I used to tease her when she was practicing in front of the mirror. ‘I’m delicious! I’m delicious!’ I even put a can of cranberry sauce on her bedside table one night.

turkey costume

“Anyway, the big day came and she was so nervous, she ate twice as much as normal for breakfast. Me, I can’t eat a bite when I’m nervous, but Jennifer gets a truck driver’s appetite when she’s on edge. I guess she’s got some big, beefy butterflies in her stomach, waiting to chow down. Well, we go and sit in the audience and yawn our way through the Mayflower and Squanto and everything until the cornucopia bursts open and all the food piles out. They get through the vegetables and then turkey-Jennifer steps forward, a big Butterball sticker on her chest. ‘I’m delicious!’ she says, and in the split-second silence that follows, a huge fart echoes through the auditorium.

“It wasn’t even her; it was the dopey kid dressed up like a yam. But no one knew that then and everyone started laughing. Our little Butterball turned so red you’d think her costume was a lobster and then, blam! Out came all that breakfast, all over the pumpkin pie twins. Little Jenny tried to run off stage, but tripped on the edge of her costume and down she went. Knocked out cold. She spent a week in the hospital but it all turned out okay and in the meantime, Farty McYam confessed to everything. Still, we couldn’t even mention turkey for a year without her turning a little green at the gills.

“So there you go, something you didn’t know about the bride. Now let’s all raise our glasses to Rob and Jennifer. May they ever be happy and may she never dress up like a turkey again!”

The father of the bride sat down next to his wife, breathless and flushed. “You promised you weren’t going to tell the turkey story,” she said.

“You think I went too far?”

“Well, she forgave you for the graduation party, so I guess she’ll forgive you for this too.”

“Ah, I didn’t mean anything bad by it. Should I go talk to her?”

His wife looked over to where their daughter’s eyes were lancing fiery death down on her father. “I’d give her some time, dear. Maybe a few years.”


The Horse Bridge, Part 4 of 4

The final chapter of the Horse Bridge story, based around the picture below, which was drawn for me by the always awesome Sorina at Chosen Voice. If you missed the previous chapters, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The story is a science fiction story based on a world where people live inside multiple virtual reality worlds in a program called Real World. They create the first world and then the computer creates iterations of it to go deeper in realism and intensity. The main character goes into the new 5th iteration, only to find a white horse that he did not put there that brings him to see his father, who in the outside world is in a nursing home with brain damage.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, by the way. This story is partially dedicated to my awesome dad. I’m far away from him at the moment, but I love him a lot. I wish we had a computer program we could go canoeing in together.

copyright Sorina M

copyright Sorina M

The Horse Bridge, Part 4

When I got to my father’s room in the Tall Maple nursing home, he was on a ventilator. A nurse was making notes of his life signs. She nodded at me when I entered.

“What’s wrong with him?” I asked immediately. “I was here yesterday and he seemed fine.”

“He’s had a massive stroke,” the nurse said. “We were trying a revolutionary type of therapy, using online realities. He collapsed while connected.”

“Which one did you use? Was it Real World?” Anticipation was crackling through my nerves.

The nurse nodded. “It was to try to get him out of his shut-in little world and experience something bigger. The doctor doesn’t think the stroke was directly related to the therapy; I don’t know.”

The nurse left a moment later and a doctor came in.

“Thank you for coming in so quickly, Mr. Sherwood. Your father had a stroke last night. This is the second one he has had, and much worse than the first. There was extensive damage and combined with his other chronic injuries, he may not have much time left.”

“The nurse said that you hooked him up to Real World,” I said. “Was he on public channels? Could he interact with other people?”

“No, of course not,” the doctor said. “The point of the therapy was to recreate an environment he was familiar with; it has been shown to help rehabilitate cases such as your father’s. We connected him to a blank world and he filled it in with his memories.”

“I know,” I said. “I visited my father yesterday, in Real World. He was camping by a lake. We canoed together. There was no invitation: I just found him.”

“I didn’t know that was possible,” the doctor said.

“Neither did I,” I said.

I stayed by my father for hours. I had always dreaded having to see him every month, but now I wanted to get back there—to go canoeing with him and to continue getting to know him as I never had in real life.

The doctor came in again at last and her expression told me everything before she even spoke. “There is very little hope,” she said. “His brain activity is shutting down and it looks like he won’t regain consciousness.”

“Would he still be able to communicate in Real World?” I asked. “If you hooked him back up?”

“Conceivably, yes, but there is no real point. We only did it as a form of therapy and he is past therapy now, I’m afraid.”

“Hook him up anyway, please,” I said. “I made contact with him before somehow and maybe I can do it again. I just want to say good-bye.”

“You can try, I suppose,” the doctor said. “It won’t hurt anything, at least.”

I went down to my car and hooked in to Real World there. The day before, I had made a quick-jump link to my 5th iteration dragon-world and in a moment, I was standing on the plain with the weirdly glowing purple and white sky over me.

I needed to find the white horse. “Hey, where are you?” I shouted. I flew up in the air, scanning the area for any sign of it. Then I saw it, galloping down from the high air above me. Without saying a word, I climbed on its back and again, it flew up, heading towards one of the countless millions of glowing spheres in the sky.

A moment later, and I was high above Forked Lake. The horse was descending and I could see my dad’s canoe pulled up on the shore and the tent pitched beside it.

He was lying in the tent and for a moment, I thought he was dead. But then, he opened his eyes and smiled at me.

“Jeremy, you came back. I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Dad, are you okay? How do you feel?” I ran to the tent and gave him a hug.

He laughed in surprise. “I’ll feel fantastic. Are you ready for another day of canoeing?”

“I’d love to,” I said, but inside, my heart was breaking. “First though, I want to say good-bye.”

“Good-bye?” He looked puzzled. “Where are you going? You just got here. I thought we were going canoeing.”

“We will go canoeing, Dad. I just wanted to tell you I love you.”

He looked at me steadily for a moment. “I love you too, son.” He smiled and then nodded. “Okay, let’s get packed up.”

We loaded the canoe and launched it into the still lake. The sun was bright but not hot as we paddled out. We had just reached the middle when my father stopped paddled. I looked back at him.

“It’s beautiful here,” he said. “Thank you for being here with me Jeremy. Thank you.” Then he bowed his head slowly and disappeared.

Reality flickered for a moment, then stabilized. With an aching sadness in my chest, I disconnected.

I went back upstairs to the hospital and met the doctor in the hallway. “I have some bad news,” she said. “Your father just passed away. I’m sorry.”

“I know,” I said. “I was there when he died.”

After I filled out paperwork and took care of my father’s funeral arrangements, I went home. I summoned Helper and we searched for a long time, but never found any reference to the white horse, or any other device that let you travel to another person’s world, uninvited. No one had heard of such a thing and most people protested that it sounded like a virus—an invasion of privacy—more than anything else.

About a week after my father died, I was climbing up to the top floor of my home base of Darktower when I glanced out the window into the pitch blackness beyond. I had never really thought about why I had made the land beyond in darkness except that I had liked the idea of my tower standing tall and isolated in an abyss. Now, however, I wondered what I would find if there was light outside. I pulled up a menu and set the sun to rise outside.

As soon as the sky began to turn pink in the distance, I gasped, then laughed. The sun rose slowly over a vast landscape of mountains and forests, but what shocked me was that the outer walls of my tower were clear, just like the Light Tower my father had built for me when I was young. As the sun climbed higher, I found myself standing in a crystal spire that towered high above the land. Had I planned to make it with clear walls like my Light Tower? I didn’t know, but it was comforting to know that even here in my home base, my father lived on.

Just as I reached the top floor of the tower, I looked out to see the white horse galloping over the hills towards my tower and I smiled.


The Horse Bridge, Part 3 of 4

Here is Part 3 of a story I wrote based on a picture drawn for me by my good blogging friend, Sorina at Chosen Voice. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. It is a science fiction story based on a world where people live inside multiple virtual reality worlds in a program called Real World. They create the first one and then the computer creates iterations of it to go deeper in realism and intensity.

copyright Sorina M

copyright Sorina M

The Horse Bridge, Part 3

I slid off the horse’s back but still didn’t take my father’s outstretched hand. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I’m making lunch,” he said. He turned back to the fire. “Sit down; it’s almost ready. Are you hungry?”

I sat down, still stunned. An iterative world should not contain anything that I had not put into previous iterations, and I definitely had not put my father into any of them.

“Where are we?” I asked after a moment.

“This is Forked Lake,” he said. “I came canoeing here with your mother before you were born. It is one of my favorite places in the world.”

I stood up and tried to fly up and look at the lake from the air, but I fell back down. “What’s wrong with the physics here? I can’t fly.”

My father laughed, a simple joyful sound I had never heard from him before, at least not in decades. “Have you ever been able to, Superman? Come on; sit down before you step in the fire.
I sat down and tried to figure out where I was. If this was the 5th iteration, I wasn’t sure I liked it. I suddenly could not change anything and the physics was messed up. It was like I was not in a computer anymore, but actually out in UX somewhere. The thought made me panicky.

Of course, that was impossible. I had just left my father, senile and frail in a nursing home and UX had no places like this left. I had never seen so many plants in one place. The air smelled clean and fresh and I found myself drinking in huge breaths and feeling refreshed.

My father served up the lunch and handed me a plate. “How long have you been here?” I asked.

“Just an hour or so. I came down the lake from the north fork this morning and decided to stop for lunch. I’m going to go as far as the rapids tonight. Do you want to join me? Canoeing is more fun with two people.”

“I’ve never been canoeing before.”

He nodded, almost as if he was expecting that answer. “We never got the chance to go as a family, did we? It was one of my regrets in life. I’m sorry, Jeremy.”

I nodded, awkwardly. I didn’t know if this was just some projection of my subconscious or if, by some miracle, I was actually speaking to my father at that moment.

We ate lunch. The taste experience was amazing; much better than 4th iteration, but I was relieved to feel that infinitesimal lag between eating and tasting and the subtle difference between tasting with the tongue and tasting with the mind. I was still in a computer program and that quieted some of my worry.

My father asked again if I would go canoeing with him and this time I accepted. We packed up and launched the canoe. The white horse was nowhere to be found now and when I asked him about it, he did not remember seeing it.

“Do you remember the glass palace I built for you when you were younger?” he asked. We were on the lake, paddling leisurely along the shore.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “What was it?”

“It was something, alright. Your mother was not much of a creator; that was more me, and you too. You were always drawing pictures of castles and fantastic places. So, I made you a castle that was all glass. Well, plexi-glass really, but it went up three stories, with a tower and a secret hideout at the top. You loved playing in it. You called it your Light Tower.”

“I almost remember it, now that you mention it,” I said. “I must have been pretty small. I didn’t know you built it though. What happened to it?”

“The environmental meltdown made it so you couldn’t play outside anymore,” he said. “It got to be too hot in the Light Tower. After treating a few of your bad sunburns, we rigged you up a cave in the basement instead.”

As we paddled along and the sun began to sink down into the lake behind us, I learned more and more about my father—things I had never known before; things I couldn’t have known, about when I was a baby and before I was born. He told me of hiking trips he had taken with my mother, where they would go into the wilderness and not see another person for a week or more.

We camped by a set of roaring rapids. My father made a fire and cooked supper for us as the sun died and its light was resurrected as millions of glowing stars that pricked the blackness above us. The smell of the wood smoke, the taste of the food cooked over an open fire—it was the best experience I had ever had in a computer world or out of one.

I woke up the next morning to find myself lying on the flat plain with the cloudy purple sky above me. It was the dragon-world, where I had first entered the 5th iteration, before the white horse had appeared. I went back to my home base tower of Darktower. Among the messages waiting for me was one from the Tall Maple nursing home. It read:

We are sorry to inform you that your father, Mr. Mason Sherwood, has become quite sick and may be in the last stages of life. Please come to the hospital as soon as possible.

For the second time in 24 hours, I put up my status as “UXing” and left my apartment to drive to the nursing home.

 

(to be concluded tomorrow)


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