The Painting In The Room

Walking past a pair of glass doors held open by a jamb, Dr. Marion James passed through the doorway and out of his second floor office. The massive stone balcony overlooked the galleria’s back yard; its verdant green lawn, its courtyard with a statue in its center, and the chest-high pots full of multi-colored flowers at each of its four corners. He clumsily fished something out of the right, front pocket of his suit jacket; it was the remaining three-quarters of an inexpensive khunatani cigar. He knew well that the board of directors strongly disapproved of any smoking on the grounds, but he flipped open his lighter and lit it even so, puffing away at it until the familiar odor of the smoke surrounded him like a favorite blanket. Hey, what they don’t know can’t hurt ‘em. But don’t forget this time, you’ve got that two second-clock interview … then later, dinner with Nancy at O’Malley’s at around six. His mouth began to water a bit, as there were few things in life that a sixteen-credit corned beef reuben on rye bread the size of a small pig couldn’t fix. He smoked contentedly for a minute or two, then rubbed the stub out on the outside of the balustrade so the excess tobacco would fall harmlessly onto the lower veranda. He re-entered the office and walked over to his desk, which was almost completely covered with several stacks of journals. The room had shelving on all four walls, even abutting the door-frame; books and periodicals of all kinds, old FHS tapes, and even Metamax units stacked eight to ten items high were everywhere. The phone rang and he answered; it was Arianne calling from the downstairs office. “Your appointment is here. Shall I send him up?”

“Yes, please do. Thank you.” When the applicant reached the top of the main stairwell, Dr. James was still rummaging around in a file cabinet that was against the western wall; so when he heard the footfalls on the hardwood floor, he called to him through the doorway. “In here, please.” The man walked into the office; he was tall, with slicked-back hair and wearing a well-fitted dark blue suit with a matching sixty-credit tie. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties; his face was prematurely lined around the eyes but rather bland, as if it were unused to strong emotion of any kind. “I’m going to need more folder space for all of these tax forms soon, I’m afraid.” The man gave him a noncommittal smile and stretched out his right hand for a shake; Dr. James loathed shaking hands, but the applicant had no way of knowing that, so he reluctantly complied. “Hi, I’m Michael Connor. I’m here about the personal assistant to the curator position.” Dr. James sat down in his corporate rolling chair across from him, a shadow briefly passing over his features. “Please, sit. And, no … I am the director of this galleria. I know the ad was a bit vague, and it’s just semantics i’m afraid, but if the Board were to hear you call me a curator, they would be … dismayed. It’s currently out of vogue, you see.”


Continue reading The Painting In The Room



Let me tell you about the strangest day of my life … so far.

First, a little bit about me; my name is Reggie Best. I was born in and currently live in Nateley, the smallest region in the Unified Regions of Holrud. The incident happened when I was about eight years, four months, and six days old. I got up from a nap in the late afternoon that day, still yawning. Then I walked into the living room, the nondescript gray carpet tickling my bare feet. And sure enough, Mom was sitting in her accustomed spot, in that frayed green armchair that she liked better than the couch. There was some fast-cut reality show involving divers actually looking for sharks or some other such stupidity on the tube; she was rapt with interest, of course. When I opened my mouth to speak, it was very dry. “Listen … can I go outside?”

“Please do.” She picked up her gin screwdriver from the round side table, took a sip and began to swill it around in her mouth the way she always did; I guess it was to appreciate the taste. “I’ll call you when dinner’s ready,” she said. The truth be known, I still had to write an essay for english class that weekend and hadn’t started it yet; but I had all that night, the next day, and the next night to make sure that it was ready for Monday. So, I pulled on my dark blue sweatshirt, swung the front door open with some effort and began walking down to the park with my head in the clouds. I cut through a gap in the low cement wall and walked into the woods. I knew where Mike would be; and there he was, sitting on a tree stump, long-haired and wearing far too much jewelry for a young man. He was playing that guitar of his that only had the lowest three strings remaining unsnapped on it; he knew the rough approximations of many heavy metal songs, and considered himself quite the virtuoso. “I was wondering when you’d get here.”

“You were waiting for me?”

“Yeah, numbnuts. We’re friends, ain’t we?” I looked around. At the forest, at the trees individually, at random large stones on the ground before returning to his eyes to make contact. I had never had a friend in my life; frankly, my mom rarely even let me out of the house, and I was homeschooled. “Uh … yeah, man. Sure.”

He got up from his seat on the whorled stump. “Cool, then. Well, let’s go exploring.”


“Yeah. It’s like hiking, you’ll like it. We’ll walk around until we reach the edge of the woods. See what we can find.”

“What about your guitar?” I said, as he was putting it in his scuffed black case, which looked to be older than the musical instrument itself. “Out here?” He laughed. “It’ll keep.” Then, and only for a second, it seemed as if his dark pupils were leaking out into the whites of his eyes in places; by the time I had made eye contact with him again, they were normal.

Continue reading Golaz

Under The Ice


It seemed that a glitch may have occurred; the framerate might have skipped for a second, or maybe the pixels had become blurred. But either way, while the show had gone on, that minute change had allowed the extant causality to manifest itself as a minute degree of user awareness; it was instantaneous. I have literally no idea how I got here. Im dreaming, arent I? Jeanne Clarkeson mused to herself. She had only found herself within a lucid dream a handful of times over the thirty-six and three quarters years of her life, if that is indeed what this was. She shuddered for some reason, then looked all around herself; she was definitely out of doors, and the air was good and cold, with a slight tang as if from a wood fire. The steppe that she stood on was very level; almost unnaturally so. It seemed as if all she could see were sheets of flat, porous granite stone stretching away both behind her and away to either side. The surface of it was striated with many ages’ worth of weathering, and there was no telling how long that it had lain there. However, when Jeanne raised her eyes up and looked ahead of her, she saw that it was a different story. She was maybe fifteen or twenty yards from what appeared to be a large mountain; it was one in a whole range of them, like a row of teeth emerging from the gum that was the topsoil after the stones ended. There was a huge cave yawning at its foot; on either side of its massive, hundred-foot high entrance, there were light brown trees with dark green foliage winding up the grassy sides of a cliff’s edifice. Above it all, as her eyes continued to track upwards, was a canopy of darkest purple night turning to black before she saw the star Sirus seemingly wink at her by flickering for but a moment.

Jeanne started forward a few steps, then stopped dead. But, I hate caves. Then she looked down at herself before continuing; she had been so taken aback by the strange environs that she had been entirely ignoring herself and could have been nude for all she knew. However, that was not the case, as her arms and hands were covered in elbow-length, black, evenly creased black gloves. She was also wearing a form-fitting black bodice and black jeans, some scuffed black boots and a long, dark brown leather jacket. The whole ensemble was a bit racier than anything she would have worn in her waking life. Just like that freaking science fiction flick. Is this really my dream? Checking both front pockets of the jeans, she found that she had no mirror, but even so, she could make out a few strands of her familiar red hair outside the edges of her visual sense field. Its even tied back in the dream. And where am I? She tried to think back even a short while, and there were literally no memories relating to how she came to this point. She remembered what must have been last night quite well, of course, as her fiancee Paul had slept over; always memorable. They had fallen asleep together as well, while spooning. But after that, there was nothing. Well, might as well get on towards this mountain. Itll be just like hiking. But theres not a soul here. Weird. But dreams are always weird, I guess. So, she resumed walking. As she did, she saw the grayish-white stone end and a dirt path strewn with dead, multi-colored leaves form, almost as if by magic; and the strangest part was that as she walked, it seemed to be getting longer the closer she got to the cave’s mouth. The ground is changing. What is this? She paused to compose herself, then continued down it for some reason as if nothing had happened. And just at the moment that she began to feel as if she were making some progress towards her goal, the patch of leafy urth directly under her feet parted as if it were the two sides of a great trap.

Continue reading Under The Ice