My Short Story: “The Last Mortal Immortal, a Tale.”

 Bertha

Bertha

The Last Mortal Immortal, a Tale.1

It happened in a flash, like the flash of lighting, but the thunder… the thunder never came. I was marked two days after the forming of new political parties was forbidden2 in my Vaterland.3 Bastille Tag. Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin — more even than death…. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.4

I remember this know this well, because it was the date the rival for my mortal beloved5 Bertha6 set his trap of treachery. Heinrich7 denounced me to the police that night- the night of the silent lightning storm. He announced to the Gasthaus8 that he would do me in- and that this time- he meant it. I ignored him, like so many times before. I ignored the dark eyed, dark haired, devil. I had only been listening to his raving for 33 years then. I did not know that his knife had grown that long.9

Oh that I had died that night.

The charge was false, of course. I was as loyal to the government then as I am now. I do not concern myself with politics. How parts of this story came to happen, I do not know. I can only relate those which I have witnessed- to which, I shall give a full accounting.

You have no doubt heard stories of reanimation,10 of those that never sleep,11 and of those whom have been the subjects of great trickery like that of Sultan Schemzeddin12 (all of which are fictions by the way). So, I will expect you- with your scientific minds- to be incredulous and to offer me nothing more then score. But hear mean out- because it is possible to live forever.

When it happened, I was younger, before the war, I was possessed of modest means, though I was to see fortunes come and go, and I was possessed of a great love- which has never been replace. As the years have drug on, it is her memory that has sustained me. Only the pondering over the fate of her should and of my own soul has kept me from attempting to take my own life (a point on which I am not assured of success). If I only knew whence she had gone and could be assured of following her, I would have undertaken the journey long ago. I, like Juan Ponce de León,13 do not fear length, hardship, or time… I fear only the unknown.

When the political difficulties14 of my Heimland15 were concluded on that lovely day in May,16 I set about that very afternoon to assemble the pieces of what had happened to me. But, I should begin at the beginning, rather then at the end.

Even before my rival had spirited me away, my friends had urged me to find a different profession. I was studying the wrong sort of physics they had told to me. It is true, I was a devoted advocate then- and now- of the Heisenberg17 Heresy, but what can one do? Is not the truth still the truth, even when one is told that it is not? My model thought so and I followed in his footsteps, though to my doom, for I had not the talent that he (which preserved his life, though not his reputation).

But this story is not of physics, but rather of biology. Continue reading “My Short Story: “The Last Mortal Immortal, a Tale.””

My Short Story: “The Interview”

The Interview

Igneous Charles “Charlie” Uther hated driving his wife’s car. No matter how many Saturday afternoons he spent cleaning it out, vacuuming the carpets, and pickling his hands with fabric cleaner, his wife’s car was a wreck by Monday afternoon. Then again, twins, and an Irish triplet, all under the age of 3, did that to any car. Today, this Friday, followed a Saturday that Charlie had missed cleaning the car, and it showed. There was a blast pattern milk stain across the back of the driver’s seat; something sticky all over the parking brake, enough Cherrios to keep a full grown man regular for a week in the front floor board, and an extremely dog-eared binky in the ash tray. Charlie had not smoked for five years now, but he still tapped his finger on the pulled out ashtray. At least, he did in his own car, which was somewhere between Louisville and Chicago, bringing his wife home from her mother’s sister’s daughter’s wedding, and getting much better gas mileage than the old 1990 Beamer.

George Wiston’s “Lullaby” played softly, on repeat, in the rear speakers. Charlie had heard the song so many times that it often got it stuck in his head, on repeat, and forgot that he was nowhere near a radio.

William “Willy” Johnson Smith hated walking, particularly in the rain. His car was nothing much more than scrap metal now. He had been driving it to work about two months ago, out at the UPS hub, and was hit by a drunk driver. Willy had not had insurance, and spent the weekend in jail, and later worked three hundred hours of community service in lieu of the fine that he could not pay, having lost his job due to being in jail. Maybe had his son not been sick costing Willy all his leave time, or his team lead not been a total waste, or something, then maybe, it would not have all gone that way. Maybe was not something that Willy really thought about anymore. He had made up his mind to put an end to the stack of bills, the eviction notice, and get himself through until UPS stopped fighting his unemployment claim.

The rain padded down on the sidewalk. Willy tried to ignore it. He was too wet to care much anymore anyway.

Charlie drummed his fingers on the large manilla envelope that sat in the passage seat, and sighed. Five green traffic lights had come and gone while Charlie, and a half dozen other cars, had sat waiting for the 16 wheeler to figure out that it was not going to get under the bridge. Charlie had thought about pulling the u-turn, and tracking back around the college campus, and then had decided against it. It was a straight shot up 3rd Street to his accountant’s office. All he had to do was drop off the family and the business tax papers. The refund would be very useful just now, since the economy had so recently “exploded.” The suspension on the Beamer needed work, and life was almost quiet at the moment, saving the Honourable Winton’s piano. Charlie though it best just to wait it out, and watched the large truck back-up, forward, back, forward, slowly turning around.
Continue reading “My Short Story: “The Interview””

Short Story: “Sushi to Go,” by James H. Peterson III

“Sushi to Go,” by James H. Peterson III

For Aziraphale and Crowley

1.

It began, or part of it began, near a motel in Salt Lake City. Several people had a very bad day. It was the sort of bad day you often dream about after you have seen a vivid and violent movie coupled with Cajun food. This bad day differed for most of the participants because they never awoke from the dream. Sensational movies, serious documentaries, and both good and bad books were written about this bad day.

Two young men were arrested and charged with crimes they did not commit. One of the young men never said anything, not even to his lawyer. The other young man confessed to everything the police told him he’d done. The police had told him what he did so many times and showed him so many pictures that he had come to believe, convinced by his nightmares, that he had, in fact, done the crimes. He dreamt of the slaughtered cheerleaders, the blood stained money. He dreamt of the motel manager in his sloth and the crisp clean mini-market across the dusty street, and the once pretty, now dead cashier. Most of all, he dreamt of the little girl, that one that had come to the motel with her uncle. Once the dreams started to produce prolonged insomnia, the confessing young man went onto confess to every sin he could remember. That same young man’s lawyer later tried to use the fact that the confessing young man also confessed to being James Earl Files’ back-up shooter to make the point that this client was no longer dealing with reality in any coherent fashion. The judge disallowed this evidence, and the confessing young man and his friend were subsequently given due process, and multiple life sentences. No one on the jury was bothered by the fact that none of the physical evidence placed the young man at any of the murder scenes. He had confessed, and that was the main fact presented at his trial. Later on, almost no one would remember that the young man’s lawyer had been out of law school for less than one year, and had never argued a capital case before.

Somewhere fifteen hundred miles east, Mary Smith put down the Courier-Journal newspaper in disgust. She and her husband John had become involved with The Innocence Project after John had picked up a copy of “The Innocent Man,” by John Grisham that one of John’ students had left in his classroom. Neither of them realized at first that the novel was a non-fiction account of Ron Williamson’s life. Williamson spent 11 years on death row, more than once coming close to the last terminal show, before being cleared by DNA evidence.

Mary had been motivated to enter law school and had finished with the distinctions that only come from ignoring everything else in your life save the winning of distinctions. John had remained a history professor and continued with surgical precision pointing out death tolls, casualty counts, the logic of blood debts, the cyclical nature of violence, and the long-term consequences of this or that war to whichever of his students managed to stagger into his seminars.

Mary stood, smoothed her red, orange, and yellow sundress before walking through their apartment to the bathroom. She inhaled the cold crisp winter morning air breezing through one open kitchen window of the fourth floor Cherokee Road apartment. She remembered how that same breeze would carry the smell of coffee and Indian food from the streets below. Stopping just before the open bathroom door, she cast a critical eye over her husband.

“We are going to be late,” she said.

John finished the stroke of his razor before turning to her. One-half of his face was covered in shaving cream.

“Right, let’s go,” he said.

Continue reading “Short Story: “Sushi to Go,” by James H. Peterson III”