A couple months back a new member showed up at the Puyallup Writer's Co-op and invited us to a local writer's event. Part of the event was a flash fiction contest, which I entered. I didn't end up winning (my writing buddy Joe
did though!), but I'm pleased with my story anyways. I'll probably spend some more time with these characters and the world I've hinted at in the story.Anyways, here are the rules I had to follow:
This is a lot to fit into 750 words! It was quite a challenge, and you can see by the story that I cheated, not with the word count (it's exactly 750), but by bending the rules a bit. Maybe that's why I didn't win? Ah well. Hope you like it.
- Your character's names are Emma and George
- They can know each other or not
- Their age: your choice
- Setting: any library
- They find themselves accidentally locked in the library at closing time.
- An ensuing storm knocks out electricity to building--the only light comes from outside streetlights
- George's cell phone is dead; Emma only has one bar left on hers
- They end up spending the night at the library
- What happens?
- Write their story; not to exceed 750 words
“They’ll come through the windows any minute now,” George said.
“So you say,” Emma replied.
“Is this really necessary? If you’d untie me I could help.”
“If you hadn’t fallen asleep in the library I wouldn’t have had to tie you up.”
“I’ve nodded off in a fair few libraries between here and Boise City, and I can’t remember ever having been tied up for it.”
“This is a Carnegie library. Only just built. We have a higher standard.”
“I know it’s a Carnegie library, that’s why I chose it. Nice thick stone walls and the only door a good eight feet above street level. Very defensible.”
“Not many people visit the library for its ability to withstand a siege. You make me suspect you all the more, Mr...”
“DuBois. George Washington DuBois.”
“George Washington? After the failed revolutionary general? Your parents must have had some sense of humor.”
“They had none, in point of fact. What are you doing?”
“Trying the lights. They don’t seem to be working.”
“Electric? Fancy. I had no idea Lake City, Iowa was so up to date.”
“Just the library and City Hall. And the streetlights in the square, which seem to be still working…”
“So they’ve cut the power. Figures. They prefer the dark. Least a dozen of them last night. Got my horse. Nearly got me. Be more of ‘em tonight.”
“Them. Them. Who is ‘them’, Mr. DuBois? You’ve not been very specific.”
“I don’t rightly know who they are. Agents, most likely.”
“Agents? Which government is after you?”
“Don’t know that either. They ain’t exactly the talkative type. Probably not British, though.”
“Why do you say that, Mr. DuBois? Are you a citizen of British New England? Your accent surely doesn’t give you away.”
“I’m no Limey, but the guy who gave me that little box was. Asked me to carry some papers to New Amsterdam for him. That was right before the ghosts got him and I ran to Boise City on my own two feet. Rode the rails to Omaha where they finally caught up to me. Stole a horse and rode it hard until last night. All of which I told you already. Have you thought your way to untyin’ me yet?”
“You do tell an interesting tale, Mr. DuBois, but you leave out the good parts. What does this box do? And what, precisely, do you mean by ghosts?”
“The box don’t do a thing anymore. You may have noticed the bullet hole in it, leaking purple blood. Once upon a time it was a kind of long-talking device. A live telegraph if you will. That British guy what gave me the papers said I could use it to call his employers for help. It don’t work so well anymore.”
“Yes, well, getting shot will do that.”
“Speaking of getting shot, what was that you shot me with? It was plenty painful at the time, but I notice a distinct lack of holes in my person. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.”
“It’s a Tesla gun.”
“You surprise me, Mr. DuBois. I hadn’t figured you for an educated man.”
“I’m full of surprises, Miss.”
“My name is Emma. Emma Mae Chatsworth. I suppose you’d better call me Emma.”
“And why is that, Ma’am?”
“It just seems like you should be on a first name basis with someone before you engage in a gunfight.”
“You’ll loose these ropes then?”
“I suppose I’ve no choice. I don’t know what it is I’m seeing out the windows, but it ain’t natural, and it don’t seem like anything friendly would go sneaking around in a storm such as this one.”
“Ah. That’s better now. Let me get the feeling back in my fingers and I’ll be at your service, Emma.”
“I suspect you’d best hurry. Why can’t I see them? They just look like a smudge on the night air. Kind of a vibrating smear.”
“It’s the engine they wear strapped to their backs. Why I call ‘em ghosts. Whatever that thing does, it makes ‘em near impossible to see and damn hard to shoot.”
“Maybe I’d best call for help.”
“How you figure to do that?”
“You aren’t the only one with a magic box, Mr. DuBois. I haven’t used this in years. Probably no more than one good call in it. Been savin’ it for a desperate time.”
“I think now might be that time. There’s a rifle on my pack when you’re finished.”
Clearly my peeps like food. The Spicy Peanut Sauce recipe last week drew way more hits that my normal fare (food pun!). Who am I to argue? Today's BenZen shall be another recipe from The Sauceonomicon, which I give to you for free, but only if you promise you'll read the short story I'm going to post this Friday. Promise? OK then.
Compiled from several recipes
- 2 large (28 oz.) cans tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
Grind everything together in a blender, in batches. Stir batches together in a large bowl. Let stand overnight if possible. Serve chilled.---I used to really hate gazpacho
. I mean, it's basically runny salsa without chips right? Then, in Montreal for some reason, the soup of the day is gazpacho, and it's really hot out, and I think, What the hell?
It was so good!Now that I live in a south-facing Condo with lots of window and no AC, summer cooking tends to be done at midnight or without heat. It took some experimentation to get the recipe just the way I like it, but now Gazpacho is a staple July through September. I
t's easy to blend up a batch. Add more or less garlic as you like, throw in a green bell pepper for more bulk, seed the jalapeno or not as you see fit. Hopefully you have a few more warm, sunny days left where you live, and can put this to use.Bon Appetit!
I rearrange my furniture about twice a year. I do this even if I like the way the furniture is already. I'm not sure if this is genetic, or some mutation that has crept into my psyche since it was birthed, but it is a thing, either way.
So yesterday, looking for something to do that my brain would accept (Brain: No! I don't wanna write!), I laid into the gaming cupboard, the pantry, and my bookshelves. The most exciting thing is that I relocated and/or gave away a bunch of books that weren't novels and that J and I didn't need or want anymore. My speculative fiction library now gets the whole corner full of shelves!
As you can see, there are a couple rows of shelves that still need filling, but this is a project I'm happy to embark upon. After mopping the floor of the whole condo (le sigh) I swapped my reading chair for my writing desk, in hopes that my brain wouldn't notice and would happily write things the next time I went to that spot (Brain: Wait, what?)
When I lived in Kansas City, I took several classes from the Culinary Center of Kansas City
. A fresh graduate of seminary, and out on my own pretending to be an adult, I figured I ought to learn how to cook. Not that I couldn't cook at all, but I wanted some mad skillz (as the kids say). I started with the 101 classes and learned all about the basic techniques and skills, then moved on to some more varied courses.Then I met Jieun, and all of a sudden I have an Asian girlfriend to impress, so I signed up for some oriental cooking classes. I learned to make a few kinds of Dim Sum
, and Jieun and I did indeed end up making fresh spring rolls together.The two recipes I still have from this place are both sauces. I give you the first of them today. You know that peanut sauce you get when you order spring rolls at a Thai place, or a Pho restaurant? Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.---
Spicy Peanut Sauce
From the Culinary Center of Kansas City
2 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
1 ½ tsp. tomato paste
¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. oil
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, tomato paste, hoisin, sugar, and water. Blend until smooth. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil, heat until hot and add garlic and red pepper. Fry 5 seconds. Add peanut butter mixture, stir to blend, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. For garnish, chopped peanuts may be added to the top. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.---I'm not sure what "fry 5 seconds" is supposed to mean. I cook it maybe a minute, until the garlic gets just a tiny bit brown. Don't breathe deeply while standing over the pan at this point. You can increase or decrease the amount of crushed red pepper
to meet your personal Seriously, this sauce is amazing. It's not specifically low-fat or low-calorie, but a tiny bit of it goes a long ways, so it fits into a heart healthy diet pretty well.
Give it a try.
This past Thursday, enroute to other obligations, I ventured north to Recycled Cycles
. Upon the illicit bike rack (Owner's Manual: “It’s a freaking Prius! Why would you put a trailer hitch on it?!”) rested the Raleigh frame I started on earlier in the week
I was a little trepidatious, since the last time I visited this bike shop I met with a Disdainful Hipster. This visit possessed a greater level of fortuitousness, and I was met with a less-common sub-species, the Friendly Hipster.
I had intended to order a set of their hand-built wheels, but the Friendly Hipster guided me to a pair of used wheels with higher quality hubs, spokes, and rims than the standard they build with, and for substantially less money as well. Plus, these wheels come with tyres (yay, English
spelling!) that, while used, will last me awhile and put of that expense unto a later date. PLUS! The wheels have baby blue rims that match the two-tone blue of the frame’s original paint. How groovalicious is that? I picked up a golden coloured (again!
) chain (not pictured) that will also look hella sharp once this project is completed.
I still need three main components to finish this build. 1) A saddle. The budget is busted for this pay period, but when new cash flows in, I’m planning to get a Brooks Saddle
. 2) A set of handle bars. I’m thinking moustache bars
are the way to go. And 3), a crankset. The existing pedal/crank/hub set up could be made to work, but I’d have an extra chainring cluttering up the aesthetics to no useful purpose. The Friendly Hipster guided me towards Go Huck Yourself
, a bike shop that started with BMX only and has branched out into mountain bikes and fixies. I’ll stop in the next time I’m headed that way and see what can be had at what price.
During the second week of October I’ll be attending a week-long professional development conference called CREDO
. Sponsored by the Church Pension Group (official motto: “And You Thought Apple
Had a Large Cash Reserve”), CREDO is a multi-faceted vocational retreat, including financial, spiritual, health, and educational components.
CREDO is fairly involved—there are plenty of tasks to complete before the conference even begins. One of those tasks is to collect and submit several pieces of health data. I went into the lab last Tuesday to donate a small amount of blood for testing. Later that evening I checked my email and had a message from my doctor. Apparently I failed the blood test.
High Cholesterol is a fairly common problem. I’m sure many of you have dealt with it. I’m told I have too many LDLs (the bad
kind): you’re allowed 100 of these bad boys and I have 191. I can either start taking cholesterol controlling medication or I can radically change my diet. I don’t like the idea of taking a pill every day for the rest of my life, though obviously I will if I have to. I’ve decided to try fixing my eating habits first, and getting more exercise. The exercise part is easy for me; I actually enjoy many kinds of physical activities—it’s just a matter of making the time.
The food part is very much more difficult. I’m not on a specific diet, I just have a set of rules that I have to follow very strictly until those LDLs stop having a party in my veins. 1) minimal to no cholesterol. 2) minimal fats in general. 3) minimal sugar/simple carbs. And 4) less salt. Essentially, I can eat chicken or fish, steamed vegetables, and whole grains.
The new regimen is seriously annoying, but has led to two interesting developments this past week. First, in an effort to make steamed chicken and broccoli more appetizing, I went through my collection of recipes and pulled out all the low-fat sauces I could find. There were actually a great many of these. I am compiling a personal recipe book which I have dubbed The Sauceonomicon
. I will be sharing these recipes occasionally here on this BenZen.
Second, to motivate myself towards more exercise, I’ve entered a race at the end of October called the Gladiator Rock & Run
. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Warrior Dash
? Same idea. It’s a 5k run with 14 different obstacles along the way. You run awhile, you climb over a giant pile of old tires. You run a bit more, you scale an 8 foot wall. More running, and a scramble over cargo-netting draped shipping containers. Finally, a mud crawl over the finish line. It’s like an obstacle course for adults. Adults who are a little crazy.
If you, like me, are a little crazy, come join me! I’ve set up a team (The New Land Manifesto) so we can all test the course together. Shoot me an email
and I’ll send you the details.