Hidden

(A note about ‘Hidden’) 

I initially posted a draft of this story several years ago. I wasn’t a big fan of it, so I reworked it significantly and re-published it today. I hope you enjoy it.

“This is the perfect hiding spot, isn’t it?”

The teenage boy hiding behind the big oak tree along the edge of the park nearly jumped out of his skin as the man’s voice broke the silence of the wooded ravine. “Shhh!” he hissed as he peeked around the tree to try to see if any of the other kids who were playing Hide and Seek had heard the noise. “You’ll give me away!”

“I wouldn’t want to do that,” the man whispered, joining the boy in peeking around the tree.

The boy looked at the man suspiciously for a moment before setting his focus back to the open field of the park on the other side of the big tree. “I’m going to win this time. Jimmy Falloner always wins these games, but this time will be different. This time I won’t be the first one they find.”

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Mercury Marshmallow Men

by Nick Diaz and Rob Diaz

(A note about ‘Mercury Marshmallow Men’) 

My son has been struggling in school with writing.  He has been putting together extremely brief answers to essay questions and largely not enough details about anything.  The other day, he got a ‘D’ on a story he had to write. This was because he was supposed to write a complete story and he, instead, wrote three or four sentences.  His ideas were very good, he simply didn’t explain them or explain what happened before or around the ideas.  He acknowledged that he really didn’t do the work but he didn’t know how to expand the simple ideas.  So, I decided to try to help him learn how to build a larger story, essay or answer from a brief idea. We sat down and took the last email I received, which was an update on NASA’s MESSENGER probe.  I said, “So, MESSENGER gets to Mercury and finds flashing lights.”  We built up the concept of the story from there over a 10 minute conversation in which we asked “okay, why?” and “Okay, what did it smell like?” a lot.  Then, based on our brief notes, we started writing.  This story is the result of our efforts.  We both worked on this and in spots it is probably clear who was leading the effort.  But ultimately this was collaborative.  And, it was a lot of fun. We’ll probably do it again.

It had been only thirteen days since NASA’s MESSENGER spaceship first went into orbit around Mercury on March 17, 2011. Scientists on Earth were studying the data being sent back from Mercury when they noticed that the spaceship had recorded several bright flashes of light on the dark side of the planet. Over the next few weeks, the scientists directed the spaceship to spend more and more time focusing its cameras on the crater where the light was coming from. They used the spaceship’s cameras to zoom in and take close up pictures. They were surprised – shocked, actually—at what they saw.

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The Supreme Ruler of the Universe: An Autobiography Written Especially for the People of Earth

Some people say that I’m pretty special.

I just laugh. Me? I’m nothing! I’m just like any other guy of superior intelligence, better than average looks and awe‑inspiring charm, imagination and athletic ability.

Really.

Yet, there are still some people who insist on calling me “special.”

I hear you and I know what you are asking.

You’re asking, “What is the reason for all this hype over a seemingly average Joe?”

You’re thinking there must be something about me that causes everyone to stare at me with that glazy look in their eyes, some reason why people step aside out of respect whenever they see me enter their vicinity. “What could it possibly be?” you wonder.

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The Truth of the Matter

(written for the [Fiction] Friday prompt on July 9, 2010: “In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up ‘tails’”.)

There wasn’t much more to say, so I stayed quiet.

The officer looked at me icily, contempt and scorn the only things to be seen through the angry look frozen on her face, a look that grew angrier with each passing moment of silence. Yet still I stood there, mutely ignoring her scowls as best as I could while holding the hot blowtorch in my hand. In the distance I could hear the fire engines coming nearer, their sirens echoing hauntingly off the cold stone buildings and the low cloud cover.

Eyewitnesses, reliable as they might or might not be in a case like this, had called the police to report a set of car fires and a man holding a blowtorch wandering up and down the street shouting gibberish. That blowtorch-wielding man was, of course, me, since I clearly had the torch in my hand and just as clearly had been wandering up and down the street, shouting. I knew they were calling at the time but I did nothing about it – their calls were the least of my concerns.

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Of the People

(written for the [Fiction] Friday >prompt on August 28, 2009: “A new Government research and development facility is built on a decomissioned prison site”.)

“Hey! Watch where you’re putting that picket sign, buddy. Some of us like our faces the way they are!”

James Madsen cursed under his breath as he walked down the sidewalk past the old Albercrombie Maximum Security Prison. It was no longer a prison, of course, having been closed for thirteen years now. In fact, the government had just reopened it as a brand new, state of the art research and development facility. Dubbed the CRAP Institute by the media, the Center for Realizing America’s Potential had been opened with much fanfare, including a visit from the President himself. After an interminable number of speeches which included the obligatory self-congratulatory statements of the co-sponsors of the Formation, Accumulation and Revitalization of the Country’s Ego Act (the FARCE Act), the Institute’s official purpose was announced: to find that which makes us human and enhance the bonds between the people of the country.

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Music in the Air

(written for the [Fiction] Friday >prompt on July  17, 2009: “Your character stops on the way home from work and buys an unusual musical instrument — why today?”.)

Jenny hummed quietly as she sat on the bus and looked out the window as it rumbled its way down the busy street. The rain had passed earlier and the dampness on the street was disappearing thanks to the bits of sunlight streaming through the rapidly waning cloud cover and the cars that were speeding on top of it.  She looked around at her fellow passengers on the bus, wondering how many of them were staying on the bus for the long ride to its eventual Atlantic City destination and how many, like her, were just making their regularly scheduled trip from work back to their homes or, in her case, back to her father’s home for her weekly dinner with him.  Another ten stops and then she would be off of the bus with a five minute walk to his house ahead of her. 

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