Tuesday, April 10, 2012

blast from the past

I wrote the following story back on Jan. 29th, 1999. Back when I was keeping a journal. In paper!
(I did do a little googling of writer's blockage, and also skimmed a book i picked up from the libe, which provided a few ideas, and I'm thinking about writing NEW stuff, and I will, but not today. Just because, ironically, I can't decide which idea to run with. Ha!)

This is, as said, from over 13 years ago. Mourn the passage of time folks. Mourn it!! Okay, starting ...NOW:

I'm reading How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. Card i a sci-fi/fantasy writer who ha won many awards and sold plenty of books. No, he hasn't personally gone door to door selling books to housewives and househusbands - I meant to say that a good deal of the books he has written have been bought by people who read.  Or by really smart dogs. That have money to buy books - or other money costing items, for that matter. Or perhaps they've been stolen - you KNOW the black market demand for sci-fi books (particularly hardcover) is higher than high.

One such thief, we'll call him Randolph, used to be the best book thief in Arkansas - despite the fact that he lived in Tennessee. Randolph knew all the book-stealing secrets - and he'd even invented a few. He'd toyed with teh idea o writing his secrets of book-stealing in a handy "How to Steal Books" book, but the irony of such thoughts prevented him from doing so. Plus, Randolph was illiterate.

Randolph's favorite way of nabbing a book, his modus operandi, even, was to have the book (or, if he felt ultra-lucky, several books) in hand, walk up to the counter, and then point behind the clerk and shout, "Oh my god, look!!"

The clerk(s) would inevitably turn in fear to see what had frightened the customer so. At this point, Randolph would make a run for it. Many first timers would make the mistake of dropping the book and then running. Not Randolph. He would have the escape route planned ahead o time, of course. (It was not unusual for Randolph to "case a joint" days before "hitting" it.) (The previous sentence had two examples of book thief lingo. They were indicated by quotation marks. - Ed.)

Randolph's black market contacts were generally mafia-reject types. Of course, he also had the occasional really smart dog as a customer, but the majority of his clients were human. By "majority", I mean 51%. Of those who were not canine,   Randolph's favorite "buyer" was a woman of Native American heritage. She claimed to be a reincarnated Frank Sinatra - which would make her approximately 9 months old as of January '99.

Randolph was going one day to "deliver the goods" to his Indian woman book buyer when his life  changed forever.

He was approached by two large men wearing raincoats and those old '40's spy hats. At first Randolph thought the men were going to knock him over, but instead they grabbed him by the arms and led him into an abandoned building that always appear in instances such as this.

The men, each about the size of a planet, pushed Randolph against a wall and blocked all means of escape.

"Where ya goin' wid da book?" one of them growled. It came out BUK, and it sounded like a weapon.

Randolph had heard of the ABTP before, but had previously never encountered them. The ABTP, or Anti-Book Thief Police, were a clandestine organization that believed that all people (and really smart dogs) should PAY for books. They barely tolerated libraries and had even reportedly bombed a few. Until now Randolph had never been positive that they existed. Like many book thieves, he halfway considered the ABTP to be the equivalent of space alines or decency in Las Vegas- a thing only crackpots believed in. Now, though, the reality of the group was staring him in the face.

Thinking quickly, Randolph answered, "I'm going to my grandmother's house because she's sick. She likes it when I read to her."

The ABTP goons glanced at each other. Deciding that they didn't believe him, they pushed Randolph against the wall again, harder. "No," one of them grunted.

"The truth," said the other.

Hoping that the truth may be his best way out of this, Randolph began to tell them. "I'm... I'm going to sell it to a customer of mine."

The thugs seemed satisfied. A smile came across the face of one of them. Randolph relaxed a bit - perhaps these weren't ABTP after all, maybe they were prospective clients - or maybe they were fellow book thieves- or maybe they were just overly curious.

When he saw the gun, however, he understood that he had made a fatal mistake.

The officer drawing the gun pointed it at Randolph's head and cocked it. "Your kind make me sick," he spat.

Randolph closed his eyes, witness the majority of his life's events in a forth of a second, and prepared (as much as one can prepare for it) himself for death.

But the bullet did not come.

A full three seconds passed before he opened his eyes. When he did, he still saw the ABTP officers in front of him, but he could also see through them. In a state of shock and wonder and amazement and disbelief, Randolph realized that the men in front of him had been frozen. Literally turned into ice sculptures.

Tentatively, Randolph reached out and touched one - the one with the gun (which had also been changed). Surprisingly, he was not cold to the touch. In fact, the assumption that the men were ice was incorrect. They were liquid, but not frozen. Yet still retaining the human forms...how the hell?
Randolph could not believe his eyes. When his fingers went into the liquid gun, ripples were sent through the man-form.

"Amazing," Randolph whispered. He was in a state that could only be described as awe. He waved his hand in front of the eyes of the men and was not surprised when that issued no response.

Realizing that his current luck may run out, he decided to take the chance to escape. The water-men, however, blocked the way. He would have to go through them  - literally.

He pushed his hand into one of them, then pulled it out. His hand was wet. Being one who normally jumped right into things, Randolph jumpred right in. Or, right through. He emerged on the opposite side of his would be killers soaking wet - but otherwise unharmed. He looked back at the men and was a little surprised to see that they looked a few inches shorter. Of course, Randolph reasoned, I removed part of them just now. He shuddered at the thought. And a small, morbid part of him wondered what would happen to the men if they became flesh again.

"You'll find out, if you stay much longer," a voice from behind him said.

Randolph screamed in fright. He had not known he had company. He turned to see who had spoken, and nearly fainted when he saw the Native American woman he was supposed to sell the now soaked book to.

She was holding some sort of stick with feathers and beads on it in one hand - and a bottle of Evian in the other. Randolph put two and two together and managed to ask the woman, "Did  y-you do th-that?"

The Indian woman smiled, nodded.


Her smile widened and she said simply, "I did it my way."

1 comment:

Amy said...

This is like going back and reading the first chapter of Harry Potter and goggling at how the narrative voice it completely different.

Also this may be my favorite of your stories.