Great Hites # 29

A Promo for Guy David at http://nightguy.guydavid.com it is to unreal to describe you will just have to see it for yourselfThis week hear the Promo for Murder At Avedon Hill By P.G. Holyfield Click here to find out more

Also this week we are also very excited about next week. Week 30 of Great Hites. Let Everyone know that it is a special week and that we are trying to get an many people as possible to come out and write next week. Maybe I will even get a guest voice or two. Anyone!?! Anyone!?!

I Am Sitting in a Room
By Guy David:

Alvin positioned the speakers to face the first recorder, then faced the second recorder opposite the first one. He hooked up the mike, then positioned the single chair in front of it. The room was empty otherwise. Alvin proceeded with the recording:

“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice…”

The door opened and Joan Minskey walked in. “I’m having a problem with the recording equipment. Can you please help me?” “Sure, no problem.” Alvin stopped the recorder, rewinded the tape and went over to the faculty’s state of the art recording studio. This new equipment was supposed to be the best in the field, but the students kept complaining and for some reason, they always came to him for help, not that he minded though, he loved helping out, but sometimes it was an inconvenience. He locked the room and went over to help her. By the time he finished, he had a class to deliver, so he didn’t get back to the room until much later. He repositioned the two recorders and the speaker and started the recording again:

“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording…”

The door opened and Ian Tablenkov walked in. “Can you help me? I’m having some problems with this composition. Something about the meaning of those harmonies is not quite right.” Alvin sighed. It looked like he wasn’t going to finished this recording now, so he locked the room and went over to help his students. He decided to come back later, after everyone left and record this in peace. Being the head of the faculty meant that he had a few privileges, including the possession of the keys to the faculty.

When he returned later, it was already getting dark. He opened the doors to the faculty, went over to the room and unlocked it. He positioned the recorders and the speakers once again, set down on the single chair and pressed the recording button:

“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies…”

A security guard stormed in, gun drawn in hand. “Oh, it’s you” he said, “Sorry, mister Lucier, I thought it was a burglar.”

Alvin did make the recording that evening. Scholars all around the world pondered about the slight stutter in his voice on the final recording, and how it deliberately affects the resonant frequencies of the room, but only Alvin Lucier and the room itself, know the truth.

Find out more about Alvin Lucier
His home page – http://alucier.web.wesleyan.edu
The original recording of “I Am Sitting in a Room” as well as some of his other works – http://www.ubu.com/sound/lucier.html
Alvin Lucier on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Lucier
“I Am Sitting in a Room” on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_am_sitting_in_a_room

*******

He Stormed Into The Room
By Robert Jahns

Alex was a bright man, more than his years would indicate. In his early twenties, his business acumen allowed him to acquire several prime pieces of real estate. He started with less that $25 in his checking account. The art of negotiation was not lost to Alex.

A fortune had been acquired. He lost this thrill when his business goals were reached. Family was of upmost importance to him.

His older brothers, James and Joel, were hard workers. They were more conservative in their ambitions. All three of Stanley’s sons earned high honors at University.

Their father Stanley said, “All three are good boys. Each has different strengths. James is the oldest and an honored teacher of science. Joel was the wild one, and we worried a bit about his future. He fell in love with aircraft and now is a design engineer for Lockheed-Martin. And Alex…” Stanley lowered his gaze as his voice began a slight tremble, “Alex is. Was the proverbial tempest in a tea pot. You never quite know what he would do next.”

All now gathered to say goodbye.

Alex exercised his whims of thrill seeking. Sports car racing, marathons, snowmobiles in the winter, and speedboats in the summer – all brought laughter to his life. Early into his thirtieth year, just two days after New Year’s Day, a snowmobile accident took his life.

The minister stood at the front of the church, amazed at the hundreds that came to the services. At least a dozen of Alex’s friends rose to speak of his life. His life-long friend, confidant, and intimate brother-confessor rose for his turn to speak. Bob had a smile on his face.

“I cannot be sad today. Alex packed all of his living into his few years on earth. I expected to give this speech as best man on his wedding day.” Bob paused for a moment.

A strong gust of wind blew the church’s doors open. For a January day in this Canadian town, the wind smelled of spring and carried a warm greeting as it circled the church. Bob said, “Just like Alex! He storms into this room and takes over center stage. This is one great celebration, one party that he did not want to miss.”

*******


Beat at His Own Game
By: Jeff Hite

Captain Roderick stormed onto the bridge. As much as he could storm in low gravity. It was not as if he had to float around. They were accelerating at a substantial rate so there was some gravity on the ship which meant that at least he was standing upright, but not enough to go stomping unless he wanted to go flying into the ceiling. The worst thing that he could think of was being angry and having to take it laying down, as you floated around a ship in micro gravity.
So today the best he could do was wait for the pressure door to slam shut as he pushed off it toward his command chair. He waited until the ringing of the slamming door stopped and everyone’s attention was on him.
“Alright I want to know who is responsible for this.”
Most of his senior staff, with the exception of his first officer, was on this shift so he was pretty sure that the culprit had to be there. But as he looked around the room there were a few sheepish grins but no one was coming forward. That was fine, if that was the way they wanted to play it, he could play it cool as well.
He moved himself carefully into his command chair and waited. The first one to speak would catch his wrath, and then, if they were not the guilty party then maybe a little guilt would get them to come forward, when they saw their comrade French fried.
“Captain?” The navigator youngest member of the bridge crew said.
Of course they would choose the youngest as their scape goat. They all knew he had a soft spot for new members on the space corp. Well not today.
“Yes, ensign?” He kept his voice level so as not to betray the anger just below the surface. He would wait for the right moment.
“Sir, it may not be my place.”
You know you have been put up to this, of course it is not your place.
“But, what are you talking about sir?”
“Ensign,” this was it he was going to let it all come out. He did almost feel sorry for the fresh faced ensign, “I want to know why you posted my birthday in the galley, the posting of…” He never finished the sentence.
“Your Birthday? Why Captain, we didn’t know.” It was his first officer.
He must have sneaked in while he was preparing his venting, and now it was all over.
“Now we all know how much the Captain loves a good time,” he continued. “I think we all ought to to sing him a little song.”
The strains of happy birthday could be heard throughout the ship, both crews were awake now and joining in the fun. He had been beaten as his own game.

Download Great Hites # 29

Great Hites # 28

 

Download Greathites 28

The Alarm Sounded
By: Guy David

It didn’t sound right. Sam brushed his long hair with his hands and adjusted his Lennon style glasses. He knew The Galactic Union relied on the sounds he could create, but it just didn’t sound right. It had to make a statement, give people a specific message. Someone hearing the sound had to instantly know it’s time for action. Someone hearing the sound had to know he will have to put down what he’s doing and get moving. Sam sighed. It was one thing to get hired for creating action adventure sound effects for virtual worlds, but that was different.

When the man from The Union approached him a week ago, he thought he was pulling his leg. Sam was just an average guy from the industry, one small fish in a huge pond, which was full of people with strange job titles such as “virtual lighting expert” and “cinematographic camera movement planner”. His expertise on the Machinima scene was in the field of getting the right sound at the right place. He was no one special. He was surprised The Union actually heard about him.

The Union was founded in 2025 as a result of the rising fear in the public about the possibility of hostile alien encounter. The Human race has just settled a first colony on Mars and it was already looking beyond his own solar system. Now, five years later, they where still working on ways of recognizing those alien threats and setting up an inter-planetary alarm system that could warn them of an approaching alien threat. Sam was put in charge of the actual sound of the alarm, and he was not sure why. The pay was good though, so he wasn’t complaining.

They already rejected three of his suggestions, so he had to be extra careful about how he approached this. He didn’t want to lose the contract and the prestige that came with it. After he finishes this, his name would be known in the industry and he would be able to get any job he wanted. He gobbled another piece of pizza and got to work, mixing the sound of a wolf from the archive with that of a wounded hound, then speeding them up a little, just for the effect. He was just playing around for now, between trying this and that, but something in that sound got to him. There was something there, something desperate, crying out. It was something he could work with. He got to work, using various filters to change the sound without destroying the feel. When he finished with it, the origin of the sound was not recognizable anymore, but the feel was there. He knew that was it. He picked out the phone and called the man from The Union.

23 years passed, and much have changed. It was 2053 now and Sam was very different. Everyone was different. The human race had enhanced itself and changed, became much more intelligent and faster thinking. They have developed an interstellar means of traveling and started venturing into the stars. Science had advanced and the speed of light was no longer seen as the limit of space travel, so it became a viable possibility. As Sam traveled with the new expedition, his thoughts wondered, and he was lost in them for a while, but then he was startled by a familiar sound. He didn’t recognize it at first, then he realized what it was. It was the sound of a wolf and a wounded hound, mixed together and masked by some filters. A chill went down his spine as he realized what the sound meant.


The Alarm Sounded
By: Robert Jahns

Paul awoke, sat up and then slowly started his daily routine. He swept the night from his eyes and glanced at the alarm clock. Six o’clock on the dot – time to begin the day.

Gail had the pancakes on the griddle. “Good morning, Paul,” she said. “The paper hasn’t come yet. Maybe you can relax a bit this morning.”

“No time for relaxing today. The guys have to get the trucks loaded and on the road by ten,” mumbled Paul. “If they don’t get their loads to the mill before noon, they will be waiting in line for hours to unload.” Mary plopped a half dozen flapjacks on his plate. “Where’s my sausage?”

Gail smiled and reached for her coffee. “You know what the doctor said, Paul. He wants to keep you on your diet. I do, too. We need you around here,” she said. All Paul could do was grumble and put the “fake butter” on his breakfast.

There was cold in the air, a sign that winter was on the way. Paul liked winter. Half of his drivers headed to the Florida sunshine. He got to do what he liked best, driving his trucks. He didn’t drive too far. Mostly, he rearranged the trucks in the yard as he plowed snow and tinkered in the shop with the behemoth diesel trucks. That’s how he started here, working for old Charlie Davis. When Charlie retired, Paul put everything he had in hock to buy this outfit. He hadn’t missed a day’s work in nearly thirty years. Finally, he had paid off all the debt and he no longer was beholding to any bank.

By 9:30, his drivers were on the road carrying their “40 bushels” (40 ton) of logs to the paper mill. They would return by dark when more men would appear to drive into the hills to pick up yet another load for tomorrow’s delivery. This was the same routine that old Charlie had developed and had worked well for nearly fifty years now.

“Get that old Cat Diesel into the shop,” Paul asked his mechanic, Greg. “I want to go over that one and see if I can find why the power is down. It’s not ready for a rebuild yet.”

The last thing Paul heard was, “Look out! The door is coming down!”

He felt the strong blow to his shoulders before things went black. Then the alarm sounded.

Paul awoke, sat up and then slowly started his daily routine. He swept the night from his eyes and glanced at the alarm clock. Six o’clock on the dot – time to begin the day. If he didn’t show up on time, that old Charlie Davis was sure to dock his wages.

Morning
By Chris Hite

Chris didn’t get his text to me so you will have to listen to hear his story.

Frozen
By: Jeff Hite

The cold was intense and made him wince at every move. Alex tried to move, but the pain in his joints was nearly enough to make him blackout but, he knew that if he did not move soon that he would freeze to death. He opened his eyes but there was little difference. The flight deck was black, and the little star light that filtered in through the two small view ports was feeble at best. When they had lost power to the rest of the ship two days ago, they had been forced to feel their way through the ship. After he had put his sister in a stasis tube he had sealed off all but the bridge and pumped what was left of the air up here.
Alex pushed himself up from the seat and nearly blacked out from the effort. He steadied himself on the back of the command chair until the room stopped spinning.
“Oxygen level, 20%.” The computers emergency alarms rang out.
“I know, I know.” He waited until his head cleared and then spoke again, “Computer, how long did the burn last?”
“Emergency engine burn lasted approximately 45 seconds.”
“Calculate time to Mars.”
“Mars is not along current trajectory.”
“Calculate time to nearest human outpost,” There was no response for several seconds.
“There are no current human settlements along current trajectory.”
“Damn.” Alex felt sleep beginning to overwhelm him, but he wanted to know if there was a chance. “Calculate time to nearest trade route.”
“Three years 25 days.”
“How long can the power cells run two stasis tubes and the distress beacon?”
“Three years six months.” He sagged against the seat. Just long enough he thought.
“Which trade route?”
“Mars, Ganamead.”
“That is only run about twice a year.” He needed to think but his mind would not function clearly. After some difficulty, “Is there enough fuel in the thrusters to stop the ship?”
“Not at current velocity”
“If we used the thrusters to attempt to stop the ship how fast would it be going when the fuel runs out?”
“Eight meters per second.”
He let out a long breath. Too fast. At that rate they could be thirty or forty thousand kilometers away from the trade route when a ship passed by. Way too far for their feeble distress signal. “Are there any ships in the area?” He knew the answer. He had already asked it at least a hundred times.”
“There are five ships within two days travel at current velocity.”
“Identify.”
“One Mars battle cruiser , and four Mars attack class vessels.” The ships that had attacked them. No chance of getting help from them. He had waited this long to attempt the burn, while their fuel leaked into space, and their chances dwindled, so that the attack group would not see them.
“expand search to oxygen limit.”
“Search is already three hours beyond the oxygen limit at current consumption averages.” He didn’t respond. There was no point. He had done all the searches before. Alex slowly went over the whole thing in his head again. The Mars battle group were the only ships even close. Those bastards had made sure of that. After the convoy had been attacked they had run. Run as far as they could, trying to get away from anyone. They had needed time to regroup. He had thought that it would be best.
The Mars battle group had followed them, just outside of the Pegasus’ sensor range, it was the second wave of the Mars group that had attacked them and destroyed the rest of the convoy. The Mars group had learned their lesson the first time, they waited until the Pegasus was so far out that there would be no one to come to their aid, and then mercilessly ripped her to shreds. The attackers disabled the main engines before he had even known they were there. Then with high powered lasers they had cut holes in all the major sections of the ship, letting her bleed to death.
Only three of them had survived the first wave of the attack. Most of the rest of the crew was either killed by massive decompression or blown out into space as the air rushed out the gaping holes cut into the ship’s skin. Only the engineer, Alex and Angel had survived.
The three of them had waited for hours, with only leaky emergency patches in place. Then, when they thought the battle group would have thought the ship devoid of life, Alex and the Engineer suited up and prepared to put more permanent patches on the ship and see what damage had been done to the engines.
The Captain of the battleship was cruel. The laser had cut the engineer in half with no warning, after they had gotten patches on only three spots on the ship. Then he nicked Alex’s suit.
“Now you will slowly run out of air like your ship and sister are doing right now, boy.” he had said over the suit’s communications link. “That will teach you damn rovers that no one ever gets the best of a Mars battle group.”
Alex had barely made it back to the airlock when the rip in the suit opened up exposing his whole left side to the cold of space, and he had completely blacked out by the time Angel had dragged him back into the ship.
He and Angel had waited three more days before they made another move. Before the engineer had been killed, he and Alex had managed to get patches on the holes in the engineering section and the bridge. Angel and Alex inspected the engines and the fuel status. The engines themselves were a total loss. The only thing left were the emergency burn cones, but the lines from the fuel tanks to them had been severed, and all but one of the fuel tanks were now empty, and it was leaking badly.
After compressing two of the living sections there was only enough air left in the ship for another two weeks. There were three working emergency stasis tubes and one working escape pod. They had agreed to wait until the ships had gone for at least the balance of a week before they attempted a burn, because one of them would have to go outside and repair the fuel lines. But on the fifth day, the patch in engineering blew out and they lost main power and most of the breathable air.
Now they had no choice. Angel would go into a stasis tube as soon as Alex was able to repair the lines to the burn cones. They had fired the retro rockets ever so slightly to slow the spin of the ship to give him more time when he would not be exposed to the mars ships while he worked, but it meant that he also had to waste more time waiting for the ship to turn back around so he could continue work. Then once the balance of a week had gone by he would fire the engines in an emergency burn and climb into a status tube himself after turning on the emergency beacon.
It was a long shot they knew, but it was better than both of them freezing to death or suffocating.
There was nothing more he could do. The Ship was moving now and if he wanted to live, the stasis tube was the only way. He looked for a moment at the one holding his sister. Her naked body floated in thick blue liquid, her eyes shut, there was no movement, not even the gentle rise and fall of breath. She could have been dead.
Then grudgingly, but quickly he stripped off his clothes. The cold air burned his skin, and threatened to overwhelm his already exhausted body.
“Engage stasis tube number three.” he said through teeth clattering so hard that he was not sure the computer would be able to understand him. He could barely feel the needles prick his skin as he leaned his back against the freezing cold metal and he briefly thought of the stories of children getting their tongues stuck to metal object during the winters on earth. Then he felt the liquid around his feet. It rose quickly and he felt the sudden panic of drowning just before the powerful sedatives from the needles in his arms took hold of him.

Great Hites 27

Originally Posted Nov 12 2008

This week there are four Stories
They are by:

Guy David Find out more at www.guydavid.com
Anima Zabaleta Find out more at Zabbadabba
Robert Jahns Who does not have a web site
And me.

Please take the time to vote for your favorite!

Great Hites 27
Guy David
Anima Zabaleta
Robert Jahns
Jeffrey Hite
  
pollcode.com free polls

A Minute of Failure
BY Guy David

Emma knitted the sweater silently. She always knitted when she was stressed out. It helped her calm down and think clearly, and thinking was what she did best. It was her skill, and the one she relied on. She had high hopes and thinking was the way of making them into a reality.

The problem ahead was not an easy one, though working at home meant she had an army of like-minded thinkers at her finger tips. All she had to do was to go on-line and ask someone, but she was a stubborn one. She had to solve her own problems herself. It was the only way she would be able to quit her day job, by doing all of this by herself. This has made her a lone wolf, and she liked it that way, no one to distract her from her goals. She fixed up the glasses on her nose bridge, a sub-conscious gesture done absent mindedly, then she put down her knitting and headed for her computer.

The HTML danced in front of her eyes, refusing to untangle. Bits of CSS and PHP where flawlessly intertwined within. Other bits where connected from the outside. It was obviously a work of art, neatly knitted pieces of code, some functioning on a local level, some more universal in nature and some surviving into other pages. It was a work Emma was especially proud of, yet again, that particular web page had failed to load for a minute every time. It was exactly a minute, no more and no less. It was as punctuate as the coffee she took every day at 7 AM, and the bus she took for work at 8 AM. She knew her day job was a necessary condition on the way for something better, and she knew that something better was right in front of her, if only she could find the cause for that failure.

She looked at her half knitted sweater. A small ant was crawling on it. She looked at the ant, then she looked at her code. Suddenly she could see it. It was like an ant crawling inside her code, contaminating it and keeping it from functioning properly. She could see it clearly now, and she could see the solution. She shook the ant out of her knitting and set to work on the code. She fixed a bit here, which made another flaw apparent, so she fixed that too. It was a little like lying. You told a lie here, so you had to support it with another lie there, only coding was more finite. It was contained in a much smaller world, so it was manageable. Finally, the page was fixed and worked flawlessly. Another level in her goal was achieved. Quitting her day job was one step nearer. She smiled at her little victory and went back to her knitting. She had allot more to think about.

A MOMENT OF DISTRACTION
Anima Zabaleta

A moment of distraction, a minute of failure to pay attention? and now, of all the ridiculous places, I find myself in fancy dress, in the park, in front of our friends?

How did this happen? I am a nice well adjusted person, I vacation in Baja, or Aspen or the Adirondacks as I see fit. I live in a nice one bedroom apartment in a tony neighborhood. I don’t drive by choice, finding it too complicated to keep a car in the city. How did I find myself a candidate for a minivan?

I thought I knew you. It started benignly enough, a cup of coffee, then an art opening; there were a few things in common, and it grew. You learned about the past relationships, the baggage in tow; I met your kids. It didn’t seem like too much to deal with. A weekend to the coast seems reasonable, and you got me that really nice birthday gift; we were still in the realm of having a good time.

A few years pass, things are comfortable; I know what to expect: Alternate weekends and holidays. Plenty of time to do your own thing, my own thing, you have a change of clothes in the closet in case you spend the night. I have a toothbrush at your house. This groove feels right; I’ve even go to the school plays and last month helped pick out the new puppy.

You bring a small box to dinner, filled with sparkle, shattering the dream. It wasn’t supposed to go this far? I was only looking for something to occupy my time after work. You’re a nice person, and I go along with it, not ready for the tears, yours or mine, that will happen when I break up with you.

You dirty dog! You tricked me! You made me pick a date, and promised it would be a small ceremony, not a big deal, nothing would change. Liar. But you ARE an affable liar, and I think I can forgive you. The more I consider it, makes me realize it is more fun to cook dinner together, and discuss bad art films. My heart must have been paying more attention than my mind. But I still want to go to Baja without the kids in tow.

A Minute for Victory, A Minute for Failure
-by Robert Jahns

What are the costs of victory? What are the costs of defeat? Kings and presidents, despots and dictators, kind leaders (even cruel leaders) struggle with these decisions. When a leader commits to war, monetary costs can be calculated. Ships, arms, supplies; all can be assigned a value. The unanswered question is how do you value human life? Is that even possible?

A leader that decides to go to war makes the valuation that the lives of his soldiers are worth the price of victory. Those leaders sit in buildings of the state, well insulated from the dangers his citizens will face. They steal away the time to make these deep decisions. They pray that they possess the wisdom to make the correct judgment.

Generals command their troops to battle. Away from the front lines, they feel the weight of sacrifice much closer than the leader. Generals are insulated from the immediate smells of gun powder and death. His decisions may be based on moving small pieces on a map of a battle ground. He may have precious little time to contemplate his strategy.

Manning the front lines is an amazing experience. Young leaders, younger soldiers, are all wide eyed and a bit frightened. They huddle in wait to repel the next attack or for the orders to charge forward. It is action and reaction, a “hurry up and wait” time. Fear is good. It keeps soldiers alert.

A strange thing happens when there remains no reasonable chance for survival. Fear wanes, a calmness and purpose rise to the forefront of the mind. Soldiers perform their tasks to the limits of their ability. Soldiers follow orders. Some will die trying to achieve victory. Alas, they may have but a single moment to contemplate success or failure.

There is a minute for victory and a minute for failure.

A Minute of Failure
By Jeffrey Hite

Time travel is supposed to be for one of two things. First you could go back in time and fix something so that it would turn out better. You could go back and ask that pretty girl out with more confidence. You could make sure that your dog does not get hit by that car, that your parents don’t get divorced, or your sister does not get that really bad dye job right before her big date. Or you can go into the future to learn something of what will come, the out come of sporting event, the names of all your children, who will be your best friend in twenty years time, or even so that you could steel something from the future, pretend to invent it and make millions. Either way it is about gaming the system. Either, fixing your mistakes or fixing it so that you don’t make the mistakes in the first place.
The problem is that there are a number of way that this can back fire on you. Look at all the time travel stories, you have that guy that wanted to get back to 1985, first of all why would you want to go back then, but second he tried to win a sports, and what happened the bad guy got the book, and almost erased his whole family. Or what about the little kid, he wanted to go back and figure out who his mom was so that she would not give him up for adoption, when he had a very bright future ahead of him, that would have screwed everything up. And what about those guys that tried to go back and get the whales? They nearly got caught because one guy didn’t know how to use a computer and another one couldn’t find the navy ships.
The point is that it takes very little to screw up the whole time line and then there is often so much damage that you can end everything, and I do mean everything. And if you don’t think that anything like this can happen to you, I am here to tell you that it can.
Forty years ago I invented a time machine. No I am not crazy, I really invented a time machine, and it worked too. Now I can see by the look on your face that you don’t believe me but just listen while I tell you what happened, and I will tell you about my minute of failure that almost ended the whole world.
When I was a young man I wanted to know what the future would hold. I wanted to know if we would make it to the other planets, and the stars beyond. I wanted to know if, there were computers smart enough to take over the world. I wanted to know what my dog was saying to me when it barked from across the yard. So I started researching ways of finding out. I read all of Einstein’s papers and moved on to anyone else that talked about relativity. My first road block of course were the enormous speeds that one must travel to gain any noticeable effects. Then comes the great amounts of power that are required to reach those speeds. Then once you have gone forward how do you go back. Science says that if you travel fast enough that you will move forward in time much faster than everyone else, basically skipping the years in the middle. But although you can see into the past by gazing and distant objects, there is no really practical way of getting there, or at least there wasn’t, but I found a way.
Now I am not going to tell you how I over came these problems. If I told you that you might very well make the same mistakes and end up wasting your life the way I have fixing the problems you inadvertently created, and then what would be the point of telling you this in the first place. I had invented a time machine and I went into the future. There I found more amazing things than I ever dreamed possible. But I also found things that disturbed me beyond my ability to handle them. It was one of these things that almost caused the down fall of man, and maybe the entire universe.
In the future you see they were working side by side with computers that could at one time be an incredible aid to them, and yet enslave them to work for hours on end, they had become so ingrained in their lives that, people not only worked with them, but also lived with them. They were everywhere, in their homes their modes of transportation, in small devices that they carried with them to communicate, and even listen to sounds that they would pump directly into their ears.
When I saw how the computers had enslaved the young and old people alike, I knew that I had to do something about this. I had to go back in time and stop this advancement, and prevent them from taking over. I had to stop them and I will I have tried many times and failed everyone. Every time I think that I have manged to stop the growth of this It always turns out worse and I have to go back and fix the problems that I have created.
“Ah there you are mister Mathers. You know you are not supposed to leave the compound. I am sorry is has been bothering you folks.”

Download GreatHites # 27

Great Hites # 25

Originally posted Oct 30th 2008

 

Thank you to Ann Hite for the extra voices. Enjoy!
Download The Audio

The Finding of Mt Olympus
By Jeffrey Hite

March 21 9:30 AM Eastern Standard Time.
“I’ve found it!” Larry shouted standing up in his cubical so that we could all see him. “I found Mount Olympus.”

“So? Why not Atlantis, Larry? Hundreds of thousands of people have found Mount Olympus, most notably the Greeks. It’s an actual mountain in Greece you know. “. Sue rebuffed him from the next cubical over, not even bothering to get up.

“What?” I blurted out while standing up for the first time.

“Mt Olympus, you know the home of the gods come see…” he said, ignoring Sue and beckoning me over.

I hesitated; going over into Larry’s cubical was a bit like stepping into a fantasy world and more often than not, not one you would really like to visit. His normal variety of fantasy was not something I really liked, but Greek myths were a passion we both shared.

“Come on it will only take a sec,” he said when we saw my hesitation. “It’s here on the map.”

“Alright, I’ll bite.” I said entering his cubical. As expected it was a dizzying array of posters, drawings and fantasy character figures. They were everywhere: on the desk, on top of his test systems, on the keyboard tray, even on the phone and his monitors.

“Hey, where did you get those?” I said pointing to the two Apple thirty inch cinema displays.

“Never mind that, they’re mine.”

“And you brought them to work?”

“Yes, yes, I needed them to look at the maps and satellite images. Look here.” he said pointing to the center of the display on the left.

“It looks like a bunch of mountains.”

“Right, let me zoom out a bit so you can get an idea of where they are.” He grabbed the mouse and scrolled out so that we could see the whole land mass. It was, of course, Greece. Then he zoomed back in. “Here, do you see that?” he said circling a spot on the map with his finger.

“It looks like a mountain, just like all the rest around it.” I liked Larry. He was a good guy, and despite his fascination with the fantasy world, he was a brilliant technician but I was beginning to regret this trip to Larry Land.

“Right. We are looking at the official topographical map. Now if I switch to satellite view.” He clicked and the image changed.

“What’s the joke? We’re still looking at the same peak.”

“Yeah, but look closer. Do you see that shadow?”

“Yes.”

“Look at the peaks around it. Do any of them look like that? In fact, have you ever seen a peak that looked that perfect except in drawings?”

I looked at the image and he was right. There was nothing around that looked like the shadow and it did look particularly perfect.

“Now watch this.” He changed the angle of the view so that we were about 45 degrees from the ground. “Look, look, do you see it?”

“My God!” On the screen all the other mountains had flattened out as in most two dimension pictures, but the shadow stood up straight, an almost perfect cone. “Wow! That is really cool. I wonder what that is? It has got to be some kind of software glitch.”

“No, it’s not. I tried it on this other program too. See?” He switched applications and there it was again. “The last one uses fly over views from aircraft, this one uses satellite photos.”

“Right, well maybe it is one of the other peaks that just looks distorted,” I said sitting back down in my cubical.

“Yeah maybe.” He didn’t say anything to anyone for the rest of the day, and when I left late that night he was still in his cubical. I sneaked a quick peek as I walked past toward the door, and he had both images up on the left display and a number documents up on his other one that didn’t look like the code that he was supposed to be working on.

March 29 8:15 AM Eastern Standard Time
Larry came in a little later than normal with his habitual cup of coffee in his left hand and big mailing tube in his right.

“More posters Larry?” Mike asked laughing. Larry, as usual, ignored him. He walked past and sat down in his cubical. I could hear him tearing the tape off the tube and pulling out its contents. I tired to ignore him. If it were new posters, putting them up would be an all morning affair and I had things to do. I couldn’t get sucked into it. Three new systems were going live in a week and I needed to make sure that the databases would actually work when the customers started making their queries.

“I was right!” Larry screamed twenty minutes later. “I was right, I was right! See, come look at this Rob!” despite the need to get the systems out I was more than a little interested. The Greek myths were something that had always interested me and, well, I really needed a break after the morning I was having. Sue and Mike both gave me sidelong glances and Dave, our boss, gave me a look that told me that I would be working overtime if those databases were not up and running.

“What, Larry?” I said.

“Look!” he said pointing. On his desk were a dozen or so maps of different types and one huge blowup of a satellite image. “I had a friend of mine at NASA get this for me. I owe him about three cases of booze for it but it will be worth it.”

“What is it?”

“Come on,” he insisted pointing at the image. I looked closer. It was a picture of the same spot he had shown me last week. The lighting was different but the shadow still stood exactly as it did before.

“Wow ,that is really cool. What do you think it is?”

“Damn it Rob, don’t you believe me? It is Mt Olympus. You know, the home of the gods.”

“Larry, that is not possible. It’s a myth.”

“All myths have their roots in some fact. In ancient times no mortal could find it unless the gods wanted you to. I think this is one of those things.”

“But why would it show up like this?” I said gesturing to the pictures.

“Because you can’t hide from photography. The eye you can fool, but not film. And,” he said smiling a little, “I think that maybe they want to be found or at least one of them does.” I sat back in the extra chair in his cubical. It was then that I noticed that Larry’s office had changed. There were none of the normal posters of his fantasy world. In their place were maps of every sort of the area around Mt Olympus. On some of them he had drawn in the cone with red pen. There were maps of ancient Greece, with clear overlays of the modern map. There were genealogy charts that followed all of the gods and goddess. He had taken the system roll-out schedule off his white board and replaced it with lists of supplies, travel plans, flight numbers and hotel names.

“Larry, what is all this?” I asked gesturing to the new decor.

“I have been digging up everything I could on this in the last couple of weeks, and not just on the Internet. I have done some serious book work on this as well. I have found some really great stuff.”

“What about the roll-out schedule? Have you been doing the development for that? I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology too but…”

“Forget that, this is huge. What if we could find our way into the home of the gods? Think of the things we could ask them.”

“Larry, we are going live with the first site in less than two weeks.”

“Is that all you can think about? Look at this.” He picked up a book about the stealing of fire from the gods. “This talks about how it only happened because Prometheus, one of the gods, wanted it to. Think about what it could mean.”

“But…”

“But nothing. This is huge.”

“Larry, what do you think you are going to find? What do you think you are going to prove?”

“I don’t know what I’ll find, but I’m going to find something. But right now I’ve got to go talk to Dave about some time off.” With that he got up and walked out of his cubical and headed towards Dave’s office.

“Larry, he is never going to give you time off now!” But he waved me off and walked right into Dave’s office.

They had a short argument that I can only guess at, but in the end Larry threw up his hands, came back to his desk and spent the next hour or so packing everything up.

“Larry, what are you doing?”

“I quit! Can you believe it? They would not give me the time off when I have found something this big. Dave said something about after the roll-out. But what if this thing disappears, what if this is a short time offer. What if it is only one god that wants to be found, like I think it might be, and the others find out about it and close the door. We can’t wait. We have to get over there now and check this thing out.”

“Wait a minute Larry. I can’t go. I have a job to do. We both do. We are grown men, we can’t just go running off on a wild goose chase.”

“You too? Damn narrow minded people, can’t even see past the end of your noses. You sound just like the rest of them!” was all that I got from him as he pushed past me and walked out.

March 29 10:45 AM Eastern Standard Time
“Rob,” I looked up to see Dave standing at my desk. “I hate to have to do this to you but it is going to be hard on all of us. Larry quit this morning, as I am sure you know, so we are going to have to divvy up his roll-out responsibilities.” Dave always had this way of whining that made my skin want to crawl. It was only worse when he wanted to give you bad news. It was as if he picked the most annoying voice to deliver the most annoying news.

“Dave, what did he say?”

“Something about finding Mt. Olympus and that he needed time off. I told him some time after the roll-out was completed, but he insisted that it had to be today. When I told him that was not possible, he quit. Just like that. So like I said, we are going to need to you do some over time.” there was that voice again.

April 11 2:13 AM Eastern Standard Time
I woke the sound of the phone ringing and it made my head hurt.

“Rob, Rob! Wake up man.”

I rolled over to check the clock, and winced as the receiver pressed against my ear.

“Larry?”

“Rob, I’ve found it! You’ve got to come see this. It’s here.”

“Larry, what are you talking about? Do you know what I have been through the last two weeks since you left?”

“Rob, screw all of that. Listen to me. This is huge. I’ve found it! The entrance to Mt. Olympus. I bought you a plane ticket. I need someone here to help me document this. You are the most detailed person I know. You have to come here. I mean, it is nothing like I expected. It is more than I ever imagined!”

“Larry, hang on a second. What? There is no way. What about Dave?” I was still half asleep and having a hard time understanding him.

“Rob, I promise that you will not regret this. Listen, the ticket will be delivered to you first thing in the morning. I have to go.” The line went dead.

I lay in bed for a long time, not able to get back to sleep. Half of me was cursing Larry for waking me up, half of me dying to see what he had found. I had to admit even with everything I had been through in the last few weeks, I was interested. I had been since the first day he had shown me. I did not quite know if I should believe him, but it was certainly interesting. Besides, although he was a bit odd with all the fantasy things, Larry was not one to really make something like this up. He always did his homework.

For a long time I could not decide what to do, but in the end practicality won out. If this ticket did show up in the morning I would just throw it away and go on like the phone call had never happened. Larry would have to find someone else.

April 12 8:42 AM Eastern Standard Time
“Rob, is that your fifth cup of coffee?”

“Yes, Sue, it is.”

“Going kind of heavy aren’t you?”

“I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“But it’s not even nine in the morning.”

“I have been here since five, Sue.” I was beyond aggravated with this line of questioning, and so made my way to my desk trying not to hear her last comment. She was the kind of person that always had to get the last word in.

I had no more than sat down at my desk when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and was both relieved and concerned that it was an internal call. That meant that the customer was not having a problem with their newly rolled out system, but it could very well be Dave with a complaint that the customer had taken over my head.

“This is Rob.”

“Rob, this is Mary, you have mail and it is marked urgent.”

“Thanks Mary. I will be up in a little bit to get it.”

“It needs a signature, and it is not marked with Untide’s name. You know the policy about not signing for personal things.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” I said with as much annoyance in my voice as possible. “I will be right up,” she hung up the phone and I headed for the front desk.

“Not going for more coffee already are you? You are going to give yourself an ulcer, you know,” Sue was at it again and I did my best to ignore her.

When I got to the front desk, Dave was standing there and he didn’t look happy. Apparently Mary had called him right after she got off the phone with me. Or maybe right before. One look at the delivery guy, and decided it must have been before. Mary and Dave looked like a firing squad.

“Thank you.” I said taking the envelope from him and checking that it was addressed to me and not Unitide.

“Just sign here.”

“Thank you, I said handing the clipboard back to him.

“Rob,” Dave was using that voice again. “You know the policy about getting personal mail delivered to the office.”

“Yes,” I said turning around. suddenly felt like a little kid who got caught stealing a cookie.

“What is this all about, who is it from?” I had not looked at who it was from but I knew it was from Larry. “Rob? Who is it from?” Now he was getting on my nerves.

“What difference does that make?”

“You are not supposed to be getting mail at the office. It is a distraction. Hand it over and it will be on my desk when you are ready to go home.”

“You are kidding right?”

“Come on hand it over.”

“Like hell.”

“You had it delivered here, it is company property.”

“Go to hell Dave,” I said as I walked back to my desk.

“Rob!”

Who did Dave think he was? Wasn’t it illegal for him to take my mail? I would have to look it up when I got back to my desk.

“Rob, we need to talk about this,” He must have taken the other way around because now he was standing at the entrance to my cubical.

“What is the deal Dave, why all the fuss over a letter?”

“It’s from Larry isn’t it?”

“What is the difference?”

“Do you know why the policy is what it is?”

“You know, I never really understood that. You think that grown men and women are going to be distracted by getting mail? We are not three-year-olds Dave.”

“It is what it is, you can have your opinion, but there is more than that. We think Larry could be a security risk since he knew our roll-out schedule before he left.”

“Bull! Larry never cared about what we were doing here, he was here for the paycheck and you know it!”

“He knew the schedule.”

“What did he tell you before he left?”

“Give me the letter Rob you can have it back after work.”

“I am not a three-year-old,” I said raising my voice a bit so that everyone else could hear. “This is total bull. You have no right to take my mail where ever I get it delivered. I have given ten years of loyal service to this company, and you want to treat me like I am a child. Fine! You want the letter, take it.” I held it above me head waving it slightly. Dave reached for it but came about six inches short. I smiled at him and walked past him into my cubical. I picked up my jacket and keys with my free hand and pushed past him again.

“Where are you going?”

“Same place Larry did. I quit!”

“You can’t!”

“Watch me.”

A few minutes later I sat with my head on the steering wheel, my heart pounding and hands shaking. What was I going to do now? I was on my way home to get my resume up to date, when I remembered the letter. It was sitting on the seat next to me. I felt like it was calling to me, tempting me to open it. I didn’t even want the damn letter and now I had quit my job over it.

“What was I thinking? I wonder if it is too late to go back in.” Still the letter was calling me. I reached over and opened it. Inside was a set of plane tickets, a thousand dollars in cash and a note.

-Rob,

The tickets are for a 2:30 flight so you will have to hurry once you get this. Don’t worry about packing. If you need any clothes or anything you can use the money in the envelope. I will pick you up at the Athens Airport.

Larry

“Now what?” I had his money. I was glad that I had not run the entire letter through the shredder or given it to Dave. “But, now what?”

April 13 7:30 Am European Summer time
This morning I found Larry standing in our hotel room. His towel still wrapped around him, a set of maps in one hand and a slice of bread and lox in the other. He didn’t notice me for a few moments.

“You eat that?” I said, making my way to the coffee pot.

“Oh, good morning Rob. Sleep okay?”

“Yeah, where are we? It was pretty late last night.”

“We are in the Olympic national park, south of Mt. Olympus. Here, let me show you.” He carried the map to the table with the coffee pot spreading it out. “Here is Mt Olympus. It is about 2917 meters tall. Now here is the GPS unit I bought. See, it has the ability to save previous locations so you can find your way back. Now I know that it is accurate to about one hundred feet. See, the latitude, longitude and elevation of this place is here, and this is what the GPS shows.”

“Wow it only appears to be off by about twelve feet.”

“That would be because we’re one floor up. Last week, I climbed up to the highest point on the map, here.” He pointed first to the map and then to the GPS the numbers all matched. “Then using this enlargement of a satellite photo I found this trail right here.” He said pointing to a thin white line on the photo.

“Okay I see it.”

“I followed that path for about ten minutes, and it was pretty steep. Since this is a picture and not exactly the same scale as the map, although it is close, I would guess that I stopped about here and took a GPS reading.”

“3024 meters.”

“You know that that means don’t you?”

“Yeah, I means you found a point higher than anything recorded.”

“No. It means that I found the home of the gods!”

“Larry!”

“Rob, listen to me. When I was up there as soon as I found the trail, everything around me seemed to be shrouded in mist. At first I didn’t really notice it, but the further I went the denser it became.”

“You are high enough up that you could have been in a cloud.”

“I thought so too, but then when I turned around I had a really hard time going back down the path. There were even parts I felt like I was going up again, and I can promise you that when I was going up there were no downhill parts. It was like I kept getting turned around, but the GPS unit said I was going the right way. And here is the kicker: as soon as I was back down at 2917 meters, no mist, no cloud, nothing.”

Could it really be possible that he had found what he was looking for? That he had found the fantasy world he had been trying to find all of his life?

“So?” He said breaking me out of my thoughts.

“So, what?”

“Do you believe me?”

“Larry, I’m here. You have given me some pretty hard evidence, but I want to see it for myself before I totally agree.” I could not believe the words that were coming out of my mouth.

“Good. This morning after we get dressed, we’ll go into town and get outfitted with some supplies. It is a two day hike to the top. You will be glad of all those times I dragged you to the climbing gym with me.”

April 15 3:30 PM European Summer Time.
“The path was just over here.” Larry said as I trailed behind him a few feet. We had reached the peak only a few minutes before.

“Hang on a second Larry,” I sat on a near by rock and caught my breath. “Larry, I had a thought. What if we get up in the mist like you did and we can’t find our way out?”

“That is why we have the extra supplies. They should last us a few days at least, and longer if we get really lost. But I don’t think we will get that lost. We have the GPS unit, and can just keep following it until it eventually leads us out.

“Eventually? that is not very comforting.”

“Everything will be fine. You’ll see Rob. Ah, here it is!” He was pointing to a little worn spot in the rock. “This is it, just like I told you! Now we just follow this a little ways and we are in. Ready?”

“I have an idea.”

“Let’s tie the climbing line it to something down here in case we need to find our way back. Then we can move it up the path when we run out.”

“Wow! How low tech of you my friend, but I am game!”

I tied the rope to the base of nearby boulder and we started up the path. Within seconds we were enveloped in a fog so thick, we could hardly see each other.

“Okay Larry, end of the rope. I will go back and untie it. You wait here and tie your end off,” I said a few minutes later.

“Fair.” He said as he looked around for something to tie it off to.

I picked my way along the path and as Larry had said at points the path seemed to go up and down, even though when we had come in it was most certainly all uphill. When I finally made my way back down to the base the fog had indeed cleared. I untied the rope and made my way back up the rope, winding it up, as I went so that it would not get snagged on anything.

“Rob? Is that you?” I heard Larry voice just a few feet in front of me.

“Yes.”

“Did you hear that?”

“What? You calling to me?”

“No, before that.”

“I didn’t hear anything. What was it?”

“I thought I heard someone talking.”

“No, I didn’t hear anything.” When I was close enough to see him we stood still and listened for some time, but we didn’t hear anything.

“You know something weird?” Larry said breaking the long silence. “When you were walking away, you went down the path, but there were times that I watched the rope, go way up like you were going up hill. Just like a told you.”

“Yeah, it was very odd.” I was starting to feel more than a little nervous. “Did you tie your end off the line off?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then let’s keep going.”

“Right,” he said taking the coil of rope from me and heading up the path, but he could not hide the slight quiver in his voice. Whether it was from excitement or nervousness, I could not tell.

“I will go back this time. You look a little wiped out.” Larry said when we reached again reached the end of the rope. It had taken us longer this time as the path had begun to wind and we had to find places to loop the rope so that we would be able to follow it back if we needed to.

“Thanks,” I said as I watched him walk back in the direction we had come. In truth I was more than a little tired. I tied my end to the nearest rock and sat down on it.

“Why are you here?” a voice from the mist said.

“Larry?” He didn’t answer. I pulled gently on the rope and I could feel him moving away.

“Why did you come? It has been so long.” The voice said. The voice was soft and sweet and definitely not Larry’s. Then I heard something moving nearby and it sounded like a big animal, but it was coming from a different direction than the voice.

“Who’s there?” I said, no longer able to hide the fear in my own voice. There was no answer. I yelled for Larry again.

“Coming,” he said from only a few feet off. “What is it?”

“Larry, the voice you heard before?”

“Yeah?”

“Tell me you heard it again.”

“No.”

“Larry there is someone out here with us. And I think they might have brought an animal with them.”

“Come on, lets keep going.” he said, a little more calmly than I felt.

“Larry, I am not afraid to admit, I am more than a little freaked out.”

“Come on, it will be alright.”

“You have nothing to fear.” the voice said again.

“I heard that,” Larry said.

“Me too.” We looked around but could see nothing in the mist.

“Let’s keep moving,” He said. I again handed the coil of rope to him and we walked on, the voice urging us on now and again.

“I’ll go back this time,” I said when we reached the end of the rope.

“Don’t go back,” the voice said. “You are too far now.”

“Rob?”

“What?”

“Did you see that?”

“No, what?”

“I’m not sure but it was a huge shape.” We watched the swirling mist for a few minutes but saw nothing more.

“I am going back to get the rope,” I said after a few moments.

“No!” came the voice, more insistent this time. “You will not be able to return.”

“You mean we can’t leave?” No answer, but now I saw something moving in the mist. “I am not going on with out the rope,” I said to Larry.

“I know I made fun of you before but I totally agree with you now.” With that I headed back to untie the other end.

“You have come so far,” the voice said, sounding as though it was weeping.

“Who are you?” I asked, but there was no reply.

In a couple of minutes I found the end of the rope. I untied it, turned around to go back and bumped into something. It was softer than rock, but just as solid. I backed away and felt something brush against me.

Whatever it was, it was moving around me to prevent me from going either forward or back. I fought to keep calm and tried to see through the fog, but could see nothing more than a large vague shape and feel the occasional brush of what felt like hair against my skin.

After what seemed like an eternity the voice spoke again, “You cannot return to your friend. He has passed beyond you.” This time it had more firmness than before, but it was still soft.

“What do you mean?”

“Follow the beast, it will show you the way out. Do not attempt to come back. It will be guarding the way.”

“What about Larry?”

“He is with us now.”

“What does that mean?” There was no answer. “Hey, what does that mean? What have you done with him?” Then I felt a huge body pressing against me. It was covered in hair and more than a match for me. “Wait!” I yelled, but it did no good. The beast was forcing me down the path. I screamed for Larry until my voice was gone, but the beast never faltered and soon I stood alone on the top of the mountain. The air was clear and I could see all around me.

I tried to go up the path again and again, only to find the huge beast there.

That was three years ago. I have written down every detail of what happened to us, thought it will make little difference as no one will believe it. I have tried many times since then to go back, but each and every time I did the beast was there. I heard from Larry only one more time. I returned to the mountain ten days after our first encounter. This time the beast was accompanied by a smaller creature. It appeared to be a sprite of the kind that Larry used to keep on his desk. It did not speak, but handed me a small scrap of paper.

Rob,

I have found it.

Larry


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Great Hites # 23

Originally posted Oct 15 2008

 


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Welcome to Great Hites, With Jeffrey Hite. This is Alex I am sitting in for Jeff this week.

A Note from Jeff:

This has been a very busy week, I am running very late, and I have only my story so I have decided that since I do it for other people I would let Alex read this story.

So on with the story:

This weeks prompt came from Peter S. “The empty shell of a boat house.”

So sit back relax and make sure you know who your friends are.

The Boat house.

By: Jeffrey Hite

The boat house stood silently on the edge of the lake. It was a very simple structure, with nothing inside. It’s only reason for being was to shelter the fisherman’s boat, who had died long before Jonathan had risen to the throne of the kingdom.
This much he had learned from the men he had sent here last night to check it out. They had reported that there was no place to hide, no place to conceal a weapon, just an open room, with a small dock around the inner rim. His watchers had been there since before sun up and had seen no one leave or enter, and they had cleared the surroundings.
And Yet he was afraid. He could admit that, and he had good reason to be. Marcus the captain of his royal guard, and been taken hostage by these monsters. A man who was many times more capable of defending himself than he was. Even though they had grown up together, and Marcus had trained him. It had been his job to run the country, and he had fallen out of practice of defending himself. Something he was not proud of, but it was the facts of life. It was one fact that right now he wished could be altered.
Two nights before, he had received the letter. Come to the boat house alone, or you will not see Marcus again. Even through his elation that Marcus was alive, he had been afraid. Though at that point it was more of a nagging at the back of his mind afraid, now it was a full bodied terror that gripped him. It had been almost a year since Marcus had been captured and they had given up all hope that he was still alive. Especially since the killers had taken to not only murdering the victims but leaving little more than a bloody mess behind.
It was time now, he knew that he would have to go forward, that he would have to enter the boat house. Three of his men were to be on the roof of the boat house in case something happened. He could not see them from where he was standing but that might have been because of the slope of the roof, or the fading light. But they were among his best men, all trained by Marcus himself so he knew that he had little to worry about.
With tentative steps he walked to the door at the rear of the building and pushed it open. At first the room inside the boat house was too dark to see much, but he could tell that he was not alone.
“Come in your Highness. I have been expecting you.”
“Where are you?”
“You have nothing to fear from me. As I said in my note, I only wish to talk with you.”
“Who are you?”
“Oh come now, you would not want to spoil the surprise, like our friends here did.” As he said this three bodies dropped into the water. The king hurried to the edge to look in and saw the nearly unrecognizable forms of his guards who had been stationed on the roof. Had it not been for their uniforms he would not have known for sure.
“Why?”
“I told you to come alone!” The voice was angry now. “You had people prowling around here all day, you are lucky that it was only these three that paid the price for your arrogance, but I am sure you feel it was a worthy cause for them to die. You value the lives of your servants so.”
“What do you mean. I.”
“Oh come now you called off the search for your friend long ago. There was no body, there was nothing, and yet you called off the search, and he was your the man you called best friend. What can these men have meant to you.”
‘I care for all of my people.”
“Ahh I am sure you do. But maybe you can tell me how you do it.”
“What are you talking about.” For the first time the man speaking came out of the shadows, the light was to his back so Jonathan could not see his face.
“How you can be that insensitive. How you can feel nothing. Because, as my hero,” his tone was mocking now, “I figure you might have some advice to give.” He walked full into view now and Jonathan saw the wreck of a man that his friend had become.

Great Hites # 21

Originally Posted Oct 8 2008


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This weeks prompt came from Mur Laferty’s news From Poughkeepsie. Learn more at Murverse.com

Time Traveler
By Christopher Hite

Date: Tuesday March 19th 1945
Time 2:30 Pm
Place London, England

So many times he had walked this road and so many times he had come upon, battle tanks, damaged planes and dead bodies of men who had fought for freedom from the Nazis. But the war was over, and there was nothing or anyone to worry about. Nothing but the black smog of the burnt gun powder, that came of the guns.
It was as if he James Henry Jr. was the last person thing alive. james walked the road for many miles until he stumbled on a device that looked oddly like a rock, but he could not be sure. he pushed a button and ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th 2010
Time 2:40 PM
Place London, England

James found himself in the same place that he started from, only it looked newer. There were skyscrapers as tall a hundred suburban houses put together. Oh well it must me my imagination. He moved on. The place that he called home was up ahead. It was a really a building that had been destroyed by bombs during the war. He soon came to a building that looked like his, but it was some how different, in a way that he could not put his finger on. It had been repaired of course and painted white, had doors of glass, but there was more to it than that. He looked down at his shoes. His clothes were different.
A man rushed out of the building, and said quickly, “The meeting was suposed to be started already. But because you were late, we were late to start.”
“But, but,” James said.
“No buts,” said the man who had come out of the building. “Lets go,” he said pulling his arm.
“Ouch!” James said. “My name is James Henry.”
“No matter,” said the man.
“let go,” said James “I came from the year 1945. What year is this?”
“This is 2010,” said the man urgently pulling on his arm. “I come from the year 1920, but still they don’t believe me.”
“But I…” he was hauled on to an elevator. he thought, I wonder if I will ever get home.
They entered the meeting room, and greeting them was a jumble of noise. “Welcome to the meeting,” the man at the head of the table said. “My name is Phil Smith. Sit down and enjoy one of our doughnuts, and some coffee.”
James found a seat and happily enjoyed a Boston cream, one of his favorites, it hit the spot because he was starving. When the meeting ended he left the building and he immediately found the time remote, and pushed the button on it. ZAP!

Date: Tuesday March 19th. 1945
Time 2:50 PM
Place London, England

He returned to the destroyed building, knowing that one day it would be inhabited by people again.


NOTHING IS NEW AGAIN
Robert Jahns

The Beamer office building rose majestically over San Francisco’s skyline. The owners insisted that recycled steel beams be used in construction. Bright steel and blackened glass captured the bright September day’s light. It was 9:00 a.m. A thousand workers were there this Tuesday.

FLOOR 74. Hal sat at his desk, searching for a clue to solve that elusive program problem. His mind drifted toward his stray thoughts. His eyes slowly, quietly closed.

FLOOR 35. Alice was a good manager, perhaps with too much dedication to her people. Promoted to the job she always wanted, her task was now to cut the staff by ten per cent. Tears fell as she reviewed the hefty list before her. She lowered her head to the desk, cried,then dozed off.

LOBBY LEVEL. Sammy O’Neal was not an educated man. He knew how to work hard and his bosses were pleased. After an hour’s fight with an ancient floor buffer, Sammy stopped for a short rest. He sat heavily into a wooden chair, slowly pouring his coffee. He slept peacefully.

First was heard a low and constant rumble.

Was this an earthquake? Was the city falling into the ocean?

No one knew for sure until the planes hit the tower.

Then, they too slept.

Mine!
By Jeffrey Hite

“Geeez Susan, I’m sorry I was late,” Neil said walking to her office. She signaled for him to close the door. “The directions that they gave out on Friday were horrible and I got lost. But I was only fifteen minutes late, I didn’t think that warranted a closed door meeting.”
“Come on Neil, you know that is not what this is about. I wanted to show off my new office.” She stood and spread her arms “Look I can’t touch both walls at the same time.”
“It is pretty big.”
“And look at this view,” She said turning around to face the window. “How is your office?”
“Not as nice as this one, but much better than that rat hole they had me in in our old place.” They watched the ducks in the pond out the windows for a few minutes.
“Neil, since you have a guilty conscience I do have a problem for you to work on.”
“Susan, you know my work load.”
“It is not a big deal, just something I want you to look into when you have a few spare moments.”
“Alright, so what is this little project you want me to do?”
“Simple, my desk lamp is missing.”
“Oh come on Susan…”
“Now wait a minute,” She interrupted his protest. “It is not the only thing. The C.E.O’s favorite coffee cup, and a few other people have reported things missing.”
“You know those things could have just been lost in the move.”
“Well that is where this starts to get weird, they were all here yesterday when the management team and I moved in. I talked to the Custodian this morning, and he said that the things might be in the mine. I don’t have the slightest clue what he is talking about, and well, I know you are into the weird stuff.”
“You know just because I have a suit of armor and go to the renaissance festivals, does not really make me into the weird stuff, but fine. What is it you want me to do?”
“Simple, talk to the custodian, find out what he is talking about and get our stuff back.”
“Fine. Sounds like fun.” The phone rang and he showed himself out of the office.
He made his way back to his office mumbling the whole way. “How do I get myself into these things. I don’t even know how the heck to find the custodian.” But he knew that if he didn’t do what Susan had asked there would be hell to pay. He turned his computer on and watched the emails spawn in his inbox.
Hours later as he made his way out of the building he remembered Susan’s tasking. He spun around and tried the door, but it had already locked.
“You forget your key?” The muffled voice of the older man in coveralls came to him from behind the glass doors.
He had forgotten about the passkey to get into the door. So he nodded. The old man opened the door and let him in.
“Are you the building custodian by chance?”
“That would be me, name’s Bob,” he said holding out his hand. Neil took it. It was rough and showed the signs of a life of manual labor.
“Neil.”
“What can I do you for Neil?”
“My boss, Susan said that some things were missing from our new office, I think she talked to you this morning about it.”
“Ah yes, that is one pretty lady,” the older man said wistfully.
“Well she wanted me to get the things that were missing back from you.”
“Oh, I ain’t got them. They’re down in the mine.”
“Well, can you take me down there so that I can get them?”
“I tried to explain to your boss this morning, that ain’t gonna work. You can take them back, but once the are down in the mine they will stay there.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It happens some times with these new buildings especially when they get to be a couple of years old. See, they are like little kids. They take things that catch thier attention.”
“A building can’t do anything like that. A building is made of steel and concrete. It can’t take things.”
“Suit yourself. You believe what you want to believe. What do I know, I am just the custodian,’ he said mumbling and shaking his head.
“Look, just take me to this mine and let me get our stuff back.”
“It won’t do you no good.”
“It’s our stuff.”
“Fine. Follow me.” He lead the way down several sets of stairs to the sub basement.
Finally they stood, in a dark corner of. Before them was a small collection of things, arranged neatly on the floor. Above the items was the word ‘mine’ scrawled on the wall.
“There, that is my boss’s lamp and the C.E.O.’s coffee cup.”
“Look, I’m telling you that is a bad idea. You can take those thing, but she might get upset. It would be better to just go get yourself a couple of replacements. I ain’t never seen one that was this possessive. She’s got herself a temper.”
Neil ignored him and walked back up to their offices. He put the desk lamp on Susan’s desk and the coffee cup in the kitchen, it looked like it needed to be washed any way.

*****

“Neil I need you to come into my office.” Susan’s voice came from his phone, but instead of her normal calm, it had a definite edge to it.
“Be right there.”
“Come quick!” He set the phone down and walked over to her office in time to hear Susan’s scream.
The scene in the office was utter chaos. Paper and furniture were everywhere. The cord of the desk lamp was tangled around Susan’s neck and her face was beginning to turn red.
“Help me!’ she choked.
“Mine.”
“What?”
“Help me! Help me get this thing off me.” She scratched at the cord.
“Mine!”
“Who said that?” He looked around for who or what was pulling on the other end of the lamp and strangling his boss.
“Mine! Mine!” He managed the get his pocket knife out and cut the cord.
“What the heck is going on here?”
“The lamp, it started to fall off my desk,” she said through shallow gasps. “I tried to grab it, but then the cord got wrapped around my neck.”
“Did you hear that?”
“What?”
“The voice, it kept saying, mine.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Never mind I better go check on Bill.” He rushed out of her office and down the hall to the executive suite.
Bill’s receptions smiled a greeting until he rushed past her.
“Wait you can’t go in…” That was all she got out before he opened the door.
Bill was laying face up on the floor with a mark the shape of a coffee cup on his forehead. The cup lay broken on the floor next to him.
“Mine,” the voice sobbed. “Mine, mine, mine.”

*****
Neil walked out next to the stretcher with Susan on it. As the walked across the lobby, Bob came up to them.
“I told you to leave it alone. She has got one heck of a temper. And being two she thinks everything belongs to her.”
“Mine,” Neil whispered.

Great Hites # 20

Originally Posted Sept 29, 2008

Download GreatHites 20 Audio

And hear the promo for Chasing the Bard.

The Earth Stood Still on the Day We Wed
By:Robert Jahns

A cold breeze caressed your china white face. Your mother was
beaming, your father held a secret tear. The old preacher droned on in
a monotone voice, reciting the Bible’s ceremony. He had no emotions
left in him, just a job too simple for his high self-esteem.
The ancient church pews threw out groans from the maple seats. Sounds
of children’s giggles made you smile. Uncle Al’s hearing aid squealed
incessantly, yet he could not hear the painful electronic screams.
All fell silent. The clouds froze in the sky.
Uncle Al stood and shouted, “I was wrong. It’s global freezing!”


THE EARTH STOOD STILL
by: Anima Zabaleta

Find more from Anima at
zabbadabba

The earth stood still the day we were wed:
I remember the laughter we shared, the tears that we shed.
The house we built together, of fieldstone and log,
The birth of our daughter, the adoption of Scruffydog;
And the day we found out the cancer had spread.

You were a saint, who could fish and could cook;
Sang songs in your sleep, looked good with a book,
Planted a garden in spring, canned the results in the fall,
Painted stunning watercolors, split wood with a maul;
And made me shiver, with that one special look.

Here we stand now, in the lee of this hill,
Wondering at your bravery , when you were so ill.
You shared all you had your last final days,
I cried inside and out, trapped in your gaze.
Why does the earth revolve? I want it to be still.

Last Man Standing.
By Jeffrey Hite

“Look, there will be plenty of time to toss your life away, human, today may not be the best day.”
“And when would you suggest that I do it Crag?” Brent stared into the face of the alien, who had now become one of his only friends.
“I am sorry for your loss Brent, but it will do your kind no good for you to die uselessly,” He said compassionately. He was right of course, even if Brent hated to admit it. It would be beyond useless for him to add his life to the billions that had already been lost.
“You are right of course.” Crag removed his hand from the air lock controls and took a step back. “I want to see it!”
“That is not wise.”
“I don’t care. I have to see it. You brought me all the way back here I want to see it.”
“As you wish, but you will have to stay in the twilight area. The extremes of either the day light or the dark side will be too much for your environment suit.”
“Very well. when?”
“We will be in orbit in a three standard hours,” even though he had been with them for over a year of his own time, he still had to think about how long that would be. After a few moments of thought he decided that he would have time to cleaned up and get something to eat before he would need to start getting ready.

*****

Five standard hours and a very bumpy shuttle ride later, they stood on Liberty Island, and looked over the remains of New York harbor. Three miles to the east, seas were frozen, and to the west the lands were scorched.
“Who is this statue of?” Crag asked breaking the silence that had lasted since they had landed.
“I don’t know who it was modeled after, but it was a gift from France a country to the east of here, to the land to the west of us. It was a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.”
“Not so universal, I would guess, I didn’t know what it meant.”
“Yeah.” Brent said with a snort. There was a long silence after that until he finally ask the question he had wanted to ask for over a year. “Why did they do it Crag?”
“Brent as I have said before I do not pretend to know the reasons for many of the things the galactic government does.”
“But they had come to us. They wanted to know more about us, then, then this.” He swept his arms wide in either direction to show the utter destruction.
“I don’t know my friend, but I am glad that I was able to rescue you. I just wish I could have helped more of your people.”
“It was my wedding day, and they stopped the earths rotation, they killed my wife.” He said barely controlling the sobs that were trying to break through.
“They killed many millions more and would have killed you too had I not been here.”
“I know.”
“We must leave soon, that suit was not designed for you, and it is beginning to show signs of malfunctioning.”
Brent looked for the last time at the planet of his birth, and wondered if there would ever be a time when he would feel at home again, and doubted it.

Assassin’s Quest (GreatHites Classic)

Originally posted on Aug 19, 2008
Assassin’s Quest read to you by Ann and Jeff Hite

This weeks prompt comes from Mur Lafferty’s News from Poughkeepsie Find out more at Murverse.com

“Shaman, you need to take this baby’s soul back; you’ve given her the soul of an assassin,” my father said to the rheumy-eyed little man. The little man shook his head and walked out of the door muttering, and calling my father a fool.
My name is Betha MacTaggart, and that was how my life started. At least that is the story my mother told me of how it started. The other villagers have told me that the following day my father tried to kill me by throwing me in the river, but my mother would not hear of it, and in the end it was my hand that held the knife my father was carrying and as he tripped it drove into his chest. Not what I would call a good beginning.
We don’t get to choose the souls we are given, that is just the way life is. You get what you are given and you live with it. My soul was that of an assassin, and I started out my life by killing my father. It was obvious from that point on that I was going to be an assassin. The problem is, that is not really a popular field to go into, and people who are assassins are not exactly coming out of the wood work to tell you about themselves for obvious reasons. So finding a teacher or a mentor is a little difficult.
Any dummy with a weapon can kill someone, but how many people do you know that can kill someone with a single finger, or a blade of grass, and never get caught, or better yet blame it on someone else. That is the true job of an assassin. And that is what has brought me to this little town, nearly a months journey from my home, and had cost me almost everything I owned.
There was a rumor that the King’s own assassin was going to be in this town, not to kill someone, but to meet with several other assassins and discuss their trade. My best chance to get the training I needed was to be here and find them. The problem being that although just about everyone knew they were going to be in this town, and that they were supposed to be here this week, no one seemed to know where they were going to be meeting, or when they would be getting here. Worse still no one knew what they looked like. Keeping your identity safe is also part of being an assassin.
The best lead I had gotten was from the local shaman, he suggested that one hundred years ago when The kings assassin had called a council here that they had met in the tavern. At least that is where they gathered at first to discuss the next place to go. So here I sit in the tavern waiting and watching for I don’t know exactly what.
“Hello, young lady may I buy you a drink?” The skinny old man said sitting down beside me and waving the barmen over.
“No, I have one thank you. Can I help you?” I said watching his eyes rove over me.
“I hear you are looking for some people.”
“What is that to you?”
“I might be able to help you find them,” He answered with a smile creeping across his face
“I find that difficult to believe,” I said. “I bet there is a price involved that has me doing things that I would rather not do.” Then two things happened that I saw. First while I was talking to him he moved my cup closer to me. When he did that the tip of his finger touched the foam of the beer. I noticed right away the slight yellow tint that spread across the surface and disappeared. Second as the barman brought my plate of food the old man reached up and passed it to me from across the table, as he did I saw a little bit of an oily sheen that was very hard to see in the light once the plate was in front of me.
“Don’t let me slow you down, please eat your dinner.” He said with a wave of his hand. I carefully pushed the plate away from me. I had never seen either of these poisons before and I didn’t know how potent they were. so I didn’t dare even getting close.
“I think I will have that drink you offered.” I said hoping that he knew I’d caught him.
“You are pretty perceptive, but you will have to work on that because there is much more that your eye cannot always see,” He said. Then the thing that I did not see happened. There was a slight pain in my leg and then everything went black.
When I woke up I was in a stable, and wearing only my underwear. I stood up, and checked the door to the stable, it was locked but I could get under it, or over it quite easily. But first, I wanted to get an better idea of what kind of a situation I was in. People don’t normally just drug you, steal your clothes and dump you in a stable, unless you have the kinds of friends that do that kind of thing, and I didn’t. Come to think of it I didn’t have many friends. Most of the people from my village knew my history and avoided me.
I lay down on the floor and looked under the door. There was nothing obstructing the way but there was something reflecting a lot of light from the door. Likely something that was meant to fall on me or jab me, if I went over, the second I stuck my head around the door. Who ever put me here had done a good job, there was nothing in the stable besides a small amount of straw and a few horse droppings. Not much I could use to test my theory. I picked up one of the balls of horse droppings and rolled it slowly under the door, and sure enough a a rather large heavy looking metal plate dropped to the floor, splattering the horse dung and effectively blocking the opening.
“That would have been my head,” I whispered to myself. “These guys don’t mess around.” I was running out of options. There very well could be a trap still to get me if I tried to go over, or that could be my way out. I tossed a second piece of dung over the door but nothing happened. That didn’t mean much, since it was going much faster than I could ever get over the door and it might not have been big enough to set off what ever it was. I was not quite ready to toss my life away that quickly. In frustration I kicked the door, and sprung the second trap. I single nasty looking pike shot from behind the door into the ceiling .
I stood there starring at it wondering what kind of people went to this much trouble. That was when I heard something new. There was someone else in here. It was very low, but I could hear them breathing. They had a bit of a cold and their breath whistled a little. I stood as still as I could and listened, willing my heart to stop pounding in my ears. It took several minutes but in the end I could tell they were in the loft above me. They were watching me. That was when it hit me. This was not to get me out of the way. They were trying to kill me. The man I met in the tavern was an assassin, that much was clear, but why would he have come after me?
I didn’t have time to ponder that at the moment, first I needed to get out of here and figure out who it was that was out to kill me. I tried the door again. it was still locked, but if I kicked a few more times I might be able to break the latch. After about three minutes all I had managed to accomplish was a bruise on my foot and my shoulder.
“That makes sense, that door is meant to hold an angry horse, a ninety pound girl does not have much of a chance at breaking through.” That meant I was back to the first two options. Under and over, under was blocked. But over was not. And there was a pike lodged in the ceiling that as I went over I could grab and use against whoever was out there. I climbed up on the side walls of the stable Then made my way toward the door. Just as I was a going over the top another pike shot up and grazed my shoulder. It left a nasty gash, but it had not killed me. I grabbed both of them and jumped down on the other side of the door.
I was still nearly naked and didn’t know where I was but I was out of the stable and was now armed. I looked around. There were a number of other stables, but mine appeared to have been the only one that was Boobie trapped. There was small room in the corner and a loft above me, where whoever had been watching me presumably still was. The room seemed like the best bet. I had no idea if there was more than the one person watching me, and pikes, although good weapons for a large man, were not much of one for me. I needed something much smaller.
The room as nearly empty, but there was a cloak and a few tethering spikes. Not the best weapon, but easier to hide that then a pike, and something I could use. I put one of the pikes in the corner and put the cloak on, it itched an smelled of horse dung, but it covered me, and that was what was important. hiding the spikes in the pockets I then pulled the hood up and grabbed the pike. Now to get out of the building. At least then I might have an idea about where I was. I found the door at the far end of the stables. It opened without a problem, I carefully pushed the pike out there door. Nothing happened. At least this door did not appear to be booby trapped. There was a huge open field for as far as I could see.
“Where do you think you are going Missy.” I spun around to find a mountain of a man standing at the door behind me. “You have my cloak and I will be taking it back.” His smile said he had plans to take more than that.
“I think I will keep it,” I said holding the pike in a defensive posture.
“You will want to put that down before someone gets hurt.” He moved forward, and I lunged at him with the pike, he easily swatted it aside and made a grab for me, but I pulled the spike from my pocket and put it against his throat.
“That will be far enough. Now tell me why you put me in there.” I had no doubt he was not the one that had put me there. He didn’t look bright enough to have rigged that trap.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I saw you stealing my stuff and I…” His hand darted out and grabbed the spike and nearly broke my hand in the process, then in an instant he was on top of me. “Now lets talk about what you are doing here.”
“What do you mean, you and your friend back in the tavern drugged me and dumped me in the death trap back there.”
“Why are you here little girl?” He repeated. “This is vary dangerous business.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why are you here? Why did you come here?” It sunk in then. He was one of the assassins that had come here.
“Where are they?” He looked at me quizzically. “I came here to learn from the kings assassin. Where are they meeting.” I said finally.
“And why would you be looking for the kings assassin?” I managed to get my hand loose and swung it up against the side of his face. He rolled off me and I was on my feet in an instant with the other spike in my hand.
“Because I was given the soul of an assassin. I need to be trained to use it.”
“You?” he sad laughing roughly. He moved forward again but I dodged out of his way and managed a swipe across he chest that left him bleeding. He grabbed his chest and winced in pain. “You have some skill already I think.”
“Jacob, that is enough.” The voice came from the stable door. I waited until he looked toward the new voice before I risked a look. It was not the man I met in the tavern, but a much older man. Although his voice was still very strong and commanding. “It is alright miss MacTaggart you may lower your guard. The test is complete.” Three more men came out of the stable, all rather slight in build. One came to Jacob right away and started checking his wound.
“You are lucky she didn’t find the poison this could have been fatal, you need to be more careful.” He said to the much larger and younger man.
“What do you mean test?” I asked finally.
“Miss Mactaggart, you were seeking the kings assassin to acquire training, were you not?” The Old man asked.
“Yes,” I answered slowly.
“You have found him. I am Wilimaster the king’s assassin, you have earned a chance to get training you desire.”
“You mean that was a test? I could have killed him.”
“Or been killed yourself,” he said softly. “Do you think that the risks to your life will be any less when you are given a task of killing someone else.”
“No , but if this was a test…”
“And you passed by surviving and protecting yourself in very difficult circumstances. We had our doubts about you but I believe that they were miss placed. Jacob will be your master.”
“But I?” I started to protest.
“You prefer to not get any training?” He said his face growing dark.
“No.”
“Then you will be Jacob’s apprentice.”
“You might want to get into your clothes again.” Jacob said tossing me a small bag and motioning me to the barn. “We have along ride ahead of us.”

Creative Commons License
Assassin’s Quest by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Old Kelly

This was Originally posted May 21 2008

This prompt comes from Mur Laferty’s “News From Poughkeepsie” series. http://murverse.com/2008/05/10/the-news-from-poughkeepsie-day-19/

Old Kelly had been in prison for so long that she didn’t even remember why she was there, but when the King summoned her from her dark cell, he reminded her.


Download and listen to Audio for Old Kelly.

This weeks reading is by Ann Hite.

Also hear the News From Poughkeepsie Promo.

Old Kelly

Kelly looked out of the windows of tower room and saw the kingdom below her. She had not seen this view in over thirty years. That was the last time she had been allowed out of the basement cell.
The King was cruel to have locked her up all those years ago, but he was not an evil man, he had ordered that she have time nearly every day, to see the sun. Normally that was at sundown, and from the top step of the prison cell block. So at least she remembered what it looked like. The rest of the world though had faded in her memory. She was not even sure that it had been a king that had sent her to prison, it might have been some duke or something. But, they said it had been the king had summoned her to day. So she had to assume that it had been the king that had doomed her to thirty years in that hole. And for what. That she did not remember. She just remembered laughing at him, that day and for many many days after.
Today had been completely different. She had been woken before sunrise and taken, not by the normal older prison guards, but by two young men to this room. To this prison cell, for that was still what it was. Despite the niceties, the door was locked, and occasionally she could hear the voices of the guards outside the door. There she had watched the sunrise for the first time in many years.
Shortly after sunrise two maids had come in. They bathed her and dressed her. They had called a seamstress, but the clothes she had worn the day of her imprisonment still fit so she was sent away. The maids combed and brushed her black hair which was now down to her knees, they trimmed the end s off but left the greatest majority of the length. Then they braided it.
Several hours had passed, and now she stood alone trying to remember why it was that she was there, and wondering why it was she was being summoned before the king.
“Madam, you need to come with me now,” the voice of the young guard brought her back to the moment.
“Of course,” She said following obediently out of the room. He lead her down a long series of step and to a small room, with a set of large doors on the opposite wall. There they waited. The main doors finally opened but only a little hand waived them in.
“Today I will remind those of you who do not remember of a dear friend of mine.” The king said as she entered the room. She was still well to the back of the room and mostly concealed by a set of curtains. “She was a wonderful friend of mine when we were younger. Since the age of twelve, she was always by my side. There to help me and guide me in many ways. We had a great many things in common. All but one, and I will get to that in a moment. For I first want to tell you more about her.”
Kelly began to remember the king. He had been a young man when she had gone to prison. But no longer. His hair and is beard were silver, and his skin a pale sickly looking yellow. He had grown thin in all the years since.
“You will remember my kind ladies and gentlemen that she was a woman of unique gifts. She was extremely intelligent, and without a doubt she was beautiful. Of her beauty she was very proud. Too proud in fact, and this is where the differences between us become important. I am the king, and she was not even of royal blood.”
Kelly listened as he rambled on for some time about blood lines and, the importance of the rule of law. As he did the past began to come into focus for her. She remembered now the days that she had spent with him. The hours they had spent learning the laws of the kingdom, the horsemanship, and though it was deemed to be above a woman’s station, swordsmanship. They had also spend hours just by themselves, riding through the towns and villages of the country side. She had loved to see the changes in them… At that moment it all came back to her.
“I asked her to kick the mud off her boots and to change her life forever. I asked her to marry the king, but she refused. She actually said that her beauty was too great for some one like me.” He said gesturing toward himself with his ancient looking hands. “Bring out the mirror,” he bellowed.
To the side of the great hall another door was opened and four men entered with a very large mirror. “We will now see if she is still too beautiful to marry me. Of course I am now off the market so to speak,” This last remark was made with a sweep of his arm toward a woman that looked older than he. It was obvious that she had been beautiful at one time, her hair was still long and flowing but all white now.
When the mirror was positioned in the center of the room the guard leaned over and whispered in her ear. “This ain’t going to work out like this ol’ king thinks.”
“No I don’t believe it will.” Kelly replied, straightening her dress with her hands.
“I will now turn my back on her, as she turned her back on me thirty years ago, and let her see if her beauty is still enough to keep her happy.” He gestured toward her now and turned around to face the rear of the room. “Guard, bring my old friend Kelly in her now and let her see her reflection.”
From behind her the guard pushed gently.
“It is alright, I will go without a fight,” she said. Kelly walked proudly into the main hall and right up to the mirror. She turned slowly, so that everyone in the room could see her as well and only occasionally looked at the mirror herself, she knew what she would see.
The whispers that had started when she walked into the room and the members of the court has seen her, had now increased in volume so that she could hear many of them without trying. The mirror blocked her view of the king, and his view of her. So it startled her when he spoke from just behind it.
“Kelly, was it worth it?” He asked first in a quite voice and then again so that the whole room could hear. “Now your that youthful beauty has failed you, would it not have been better to spend that time with me, instead of wasting away in the cell below…”
“Your highness,” a random voice said from her side of the mirror.
“Move the mirror!” He shouted. It was moved away, and for the first time in thirty year he looked at her. His face turned ashen white and he dropped to the floor. Kelly stood for a moment longer admiring her appearance in the mirror before the guard pulled her away again. Thought she was much older than the king, by hundreds of years, it would take many hundreds more before, she started to look old, and once again she found the laugh that had send her to prison.

Creative Commons License
Old Kelly by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Video Book Give Away

You are going to get two meta-posts in a week but this was something that I could not pass up.

Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, has taken things to the next level. Like some of the podcasters who are giving their books away via podcast, he his doing nightly readings one chapter at a time, then streaming the video recording, and giving it away for free. You can find this at his website Mouse Circus. Go out and take a look. I think it will be worth your time. Also here is an article about the book give away, with a short interview.