Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Poison Snail Fight by Robert Kaye

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Schwarmerei

If you are wondering about today’s image of snails on a beer stein – here’s what it was about.

Today’s little piece of flash fiction is a particularly good one. Click and Read – it’s worth it, trust me. Or at least listen to the Audio Version.

Poison Snail Fight Robert Kaye

Poison Snail Fight – Audio Version

From Fiction Southeast

Robert Kaye Homepage

Robert Kaye Twitter

Flash Fiction of the Day, Live Stream by Kaj Tanaka

“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”

― Marilyn Monroe

A couple kissing, an engagement photo shoot I assume, in front of everyone waiting on a concert. Reflecting pool in front of the opera house, Dallas Arts District

Sometimes the internet is a time machine – a melancholy and distorted one.

Live Stream by Kaj Tanaka

Kaj Tanaka stories

Short Story Of the Day (flash fiction), Trilobite by Bill Chance

“Language is fossil poetry”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trilobites

 

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#32). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.

 


Trilobite

One day, decades ago, little Charlie Cook found a fossil shark’s tooth along a rocky road on a family vacation trip. He was mesmerized. He started to collect every book on fossils he could get his hands on – starting with the “Golden Nature Guide” that had 481 Illustrations in color. He devoured these books because that was how he was.

One day he was looking out the window while his parents drove into the country for an antique sale. His eyes grew wide as the car moved through a high road cut. Charlie recognized layers of limestone and shale… and what they would have to contain. He could almost feel the millennia piled up right there.

“Mom? Dad?” he said, “If I can get Reggie and Sherwood to come with me would you drive us out to this road cut and pick us up at the end of the day?”

“Why?”

“To look for fossils.”

“Are you sure that’s safe?”

“We’ll be careful.”

Charlie’s friends did not care about fossils but they were up to any kind of adventure. He misled his parents about what they would be doing; assuring that they would only be looking along the road. Once the car was gone, they started climbing all over the cliff – nimbly picking their way up and over the layers. Charlie had a real rock hammer his uncle gave him for Christmas and he was elated to be using it in the field.

It was one of the best days of Charlie’s life. They climbed, dug, and whacked at the stone with the pick end of the hammer. Their moms had even packed lunches: bologna, mayonnaise, and sheets of fake cheese on white bread with bags of chips and juice boxes.

And they found fossils. Mostly the corrugated cylinders or individual disks of crinoids. These were cool and all over the place. They even found a couple wedge shaped brachiopods. Nothing rare or amazing – but a good haul for a kid. Charlie scrubbed the rocks and lined them up on a shelf in his room – prized possessions.

Over the years, as he grew, Charlie would go looking for fossils. He found a few, more than most, but there was one prey he never caught – a trilobite. He always wanted one – but never found one. It was no big deal. There are remote places where you can go – a flight, a four-wheel-drive-rental, long lonely drive, isolated camping – and you can pay to dig for trilobites. But it never worked out – he never went.

Finally, he broke down in a rock shop and bought a little trilobite in a plastic box. He had one. But he hadn’t found it himself and it never went onto the prized shelf.

Now, twenty years on, Chas Cook was a geologist who, like every other geologist at that time, worked for a hydrocarbon exploration company. He was stuck in a low walled cubicle high in the air among the mirrored glass crystal canyons downtown. Instead of traipsing around in the wild, digging up and looking at the remnants of animals that lived millions of years ago, he was stuck at a desk reviewing reports that the lucky bastards out in the field sent in.

The day was getting long and boring when Chas noticed a commotion along the windows next to the maze of cubicles. There was a buzz with everyone pointing at the street. He walked over to see a huge fountain streaming high in the roadway below. A water main had burst deep under the pavement. Of course, the whole office rushed to the elevators and outside to see the show.

Not long after they clustered together on the sidewalk, the city began turning the pressure off and the giant geyser began to dissipate. All that remained was a decent flow that gurgled up from deep below but never made it into the air.

Everyone else let out a sigh of disappointment and headed back up to the office but Chas noticed that the water was pulling a lot of coarse gravel through the broken asphalt from deep below and spreading it out across the street.

“Urban geology!” he shouted. “I’ll bet there are fossils in there.”

Chas waded out into the water, bent over and began picking through the gravel. It was a cornucopia of ancient critters – Chas supposed that the street was over an ancient rocky beach and the water from the leak was lifting all that good stuff up and delivering it to him.

There were (at least pieces of):

Ammonites

Brachiopods

Bones

Snails

Crinoids

Gastropods

Echnoids

… Then, there it was… right on the street perched and cushioned on a little bed of sand, a small but complete and perfectly preserved Trilobite.

Chas snatched it up and held it high and proud. He looked around at the massive buildings, the traffic, the commuter train going by, the crowds of onlookers, the colossal city itself perched above the  unknown remains of millions of years. He breathed in the exhaust, fumes and smoke and listened to the dense urban cacophony of horns, rumblings and shouts. What an unexpected place for an ancient extinct Trilobite to end up. But it had.

And he had found it.

 

 

A Month of Short Stories 2017, Day 3 – The Ambush, by Donna Tartt

M41 Walker Bulldog
Liberty Park
Plano, Texas

Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.

Today’s story, for day 3 – The Ambush, by Donna Tartt

Read it online here:

The Ambush, by Donna Tartt

“Oh my God!” he said. “Stay with me, Hank! You can’t die, you son of a bitch!”

I grimaced and tossed my head from side to side in agony as Tim – in a desperate effort to revive me – pounded on my chest. I was impressed by his profanity, but even more impressed that he had taken the Lord’s name in vain on my behalf.

Far away, from the back porch, Tim’s grandmother called out to us in a thin, irritating voice: “Do you all want lemonade?”

—-Donna Tartt, The Ambush

A while back I read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and liked it more than I anticipated. The Goldfinch is on my list of books to read – a long list that is, unfortunately, growing rather than shrinking.

Maybe before I die.

Today’s story, The Ambush, is a spectacularly well written tale of childhood and war. The descriptions are all too precise and knowing for a child of eight (the narrator) and you know it is being told from a point far in the future. That the memories are so strong and accurate shows how important the events are to the character, the author, and the reader.

It is a story of the time, a time gone, but of a time I remember. It’s a story of the death of a friend’s father and of the death of a certain kind of life we used to live.

This is something that the novel does better than any other art form: reproducing the inner life and the inner experience of another person, particularly extreme forms of consciousness like grief, dreams, drunkenness, spiritual revelations, even insanity. Unlike movies, where we’re always onlookers, in novels we have the experience of being someone else: knowing another person’s soul from the inside. No other art form does that. And I like dealing with particularly intense inner experiences because I think that in many ways, this is what the novel does best.
—-Donna Tartt

The Perverse Lucidity of Nostalgia

“In her final years she would still recall the trip that, with the perverse lucidity of nostalgia, became more and more recent in her memory.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

When I was a little kid I, because I was an army brat, saw a lot of movies. A lot of movies. You could see them on base for a quarter. A quarter was worth more then than it is now, but it was still pretty cheap. I thought everybody went to movies all the time for a quarter. It was a shock when I started college and realized that not all movies started with a playing of the Star Spangled Banner (like all films on military bases did – no matter where you moved, the movies would start the same way, with the same film behind the music).

In my isolation, what I didn’t realize is that these films were at least a year old. They were the equivalent of a lower-tier dollar theater today. The other thing is that I didn’t realize how bad some of these films were.

And as a movie-loving child, I didn’t realize how bad these films were, even after I saw them.

And, like a curse, I still remember so many of these films. I forget my ATM PIN number with regularity but hundreds of movies still well up from the stratified thick mists of memory up to a half-century fossilized now – still clear and sharp. But I remember them not as I am now, but as I was then. I recollect them as a wide-eyed child, sitting in the dark, in amazement and wonder at the flickering images on the screen.

Given the time, not surprisingly, a lot of them are of the cheap, second-rate, third-tier, science fiction, monster-riddled, space opera genre. In those days I thought The Green Slime was the greatest piece of art the world had ever seen. I remember enthusiastically hauling all my friends back the next day for an encore showing.

However, even within this fallow soil of vast film awfulness, a few jewels would fall. For example, I remember First Spaceship on Venus – an amazingly odd East German – Polish film adapted from a Stanislav Lem novel. How this came to be featured on American Military bases during the height of the cold war is a mystery. I was excited a few years ago when I was able to get a copy from Netlix. Now, the thing is readily available on the internet and, although dated, is still an effective piece of entertainment. I always liked the look of the rocket.

Movie Poster for First Spaceship on Venus (Silent Star) - I remember the excitement of seeing this poster, even though I was probably six years old at the time.

Movie Poster for First Spaceship on Venus (Silent Star) – I remember the excitement of seeing this poster, even though I was probably six years old at the time.

Then, a few years ago, something came along to through those old memories back into my face. Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you don’t already know, the idea behind MST3K is that an ordinary everyman is trapped by evil scientists on a space station and forced to watch horrible old movies. He builds a few robot sidekicks to help pass the time and this motley crew are shown sitting there in silhouette, throwing up witty insults while the execrable cinema offerings are running across the screen.

My kids always said I should be on that show because of my bad habit of insulting the television to its face.

What the problem was, is that a lot of those films from my childhood showed up on MST3K – and, instead of the glorious examples of moving picture shows they were revealed for the celluloid crap they really were. I suffered from a terrible rejection of the beloved icons of my childhood.

Even First Spaceship on Venus showed up there. What a sacrilege.

I was reminded about this humiliation last night when Paste Magazine published a list of The Ten Most Unwatchable Films Featured on MST3K. I didn’t realize it has been 25 years since the show started… time flies. One good thing is that a lot of these are now available on Youtube – if you have a lot of time to waste.

Of the ten Paste Magazine reviled films – these are so bad they are in a world of their own and I only remember one of them from my childhood.

I won’t tell you which.

I will own up to one film, though. There was one movie I was that, although I didn’t remember the title, I did recall many scenes… the beautiful french temptress turning into a horrible monster with glowing green eyes, the dragon, and most of all, the spinning yellow spiral that burned the brave knights to death. I had always wondered what movie that was – and then, one day, I saw a bit of MST3K and there it was… The Magic Sword.

And now it’s out there on the internet and I can watch it whenever I want to.

You know, it isn’t as good as I remembered it… but it isn’t really all that bad.

MST3K Version

Unmessed-with Version

First Spaceship on Venus (more accurately known as Silent Star)