Tales of the Storage Space, Part 10

Frank’s shoulder and right foot hurt like hell from kicking that damn door in.  Hadn’t been as easy as William Hurt had made it look in Body Heat.  And Kathleen Turner wasn’t standing by the stairs, transfixed while waiting for him.  Instead Karen had bolted out the rear door.

That final kick had made everything he ever did in professional football feel like nothing.  Might have broken something, but even that pain felt like nothing compared to the agony in his heart.

Karen with another man, kissing him like that.  Frank knew he’d gone fucking bonkers at the sight.  But he couldn’t help himself.  It was a sight he…how would Karen put it?…simply couldn’t bear.  Sure he’d slept around, and with a lot more than just Marie, but Karen was his wife.  Karen was…what were the words?…elegant…fine…pure.  The only other thing he’d ever had in his life like that was that china cup from his grandmother that he broke when he was a kid.  Frank loved Karen with all his heart.  Without her he had nothing, and he knew it.

Distracted, it took him awhile to notice that the guy, who was shaking violently, was also backing ever so slowly toward the rear door.  Pretty boy.  Unlike Frank, this guy had no scar on his face.  But he was scrawny so fugettaboudit.  Frank knew he could tackle him without even thinking about it.  Naked pretty boy.  Frank found himself checking to compare dick sizes.  No contest.  But somethin’ about that pretty-boy face.  Did Frank know this guy?  Yet he knew he’d never met Karen’s “friend” Martin.  Karen had told him about Martin, sure.  Karen was like that, totally honest.  She’d even told him where Martin lived.  Not the exact address, but close enough that Frank could tail her to it.

Karen…

Frank took a giant step toward the rear door.

Martin froze.  “I can explain!”

“Explain?”

“Yeah, and I’ll have it to you by the end of the week.”

Frank scratched his head.  “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I know.  I know it was due before but….very special circumstances!”

Fuckin’ guy looked like he was about to break out in tears.  But again, something about that voice, that British accent.  Frank recognized this guy from somewhere.

A Christmas in the Fifties

Christmas 1947 in New York, New York, had its Miracle on 34th Street.  But for my brother John and me, exactly ten years later, Christmas 1957 in Hamden, Connecticut, had its miracle on Giles Street.

It started when something I would never have believed possible occurred:  Instead of my brother John and I waking our father up on Christmas morning, he woke us up.  Then, before we could even get out of bed, he gave each of us the strangest possible gift, a teeny ball of string.  And it wasn’t even all wrapped up.  Groggily I got out of bed to wrap up the rest but realized it went all the way across my room and out the door.

My father called after me, “Promise me that, no matter what, you won’t look up from that string till you find its end.”

“I promise,” said I, with no idea what I was in for.

I tottered along the upstairs hallway, wrapping the string up as I went.  The teeny ball was getting bigger.  I heard my older brother John up ahead of me somewhere, wondering where the end of his string was, but I didn’t look up.

The string I was following led into the spare room.  Ah, thought I, it must end with something that’s hidden in here!  But no.  I followed the string over boxes and under old furniture and around a cracked mirror, but then it lead me back out of the room.  The teeny ball I kept adding to, as I rewound the string I was following onto it, wasn’t at all teeny any more.

As I followed my string down the stairs, I realized without even looking up that the whole house had been festooned with string like cobwebs.  John and I were crawling under and over everything from the furniture to the dog to each other.

Finally we arrived in the living room where I followed the instructions exactly but John looked up just before he got to the end of his string.  I heard his sharp gasp of surprise.  Then my hand came to the end of my string, against what seemed like an oddly opaque window, slightly green.   Looking up at last, I saw that the window had a large picture-like frame, but it wasn’t anywhere near an outside wall of the house.  Instead it was part of a huge, boxlike piece of blonde-wood furniture.

Our father turned it on.  The Lone Ranger called, “Hi-Yo, Silver!” as his white horse reared before galloping across that green-tinted window.  It was our first TV.

Five Great Spec Fiction Books Amazon Ships for Free

Twisted (new author's edition 2015)

Even if those people you still have to get holiday gifts for aren’t great speculative fiction fans, I think these personal picks of mine will please just about any intelligent person with an active imagination.  Some aren’t even technically speculative fiction, or purely speculative fiction, but rather a “slipstream” mix of speculative fiction and mainstream which should appeal to all.  And all qualify for free shipping on Amazon if your book order totals $25 or more.

  1. ALL THE NAMES BY JOSÉ SARAMAGO.  I don’t think anyone else would classify this as even slipstream, let alone speculative fiction, but I argue any book where a character lies in bed and talks to the ceiling…and the ceiling talks back…qualifies!  While certainly not for the hardcore fan of military sci fi (no photon torpedoes), I believe most will be charmed by the gentle whimsy of this tale of a lonely and lowly clerk by an author who won the Nobel Prize for literature.
  2. ENDER’S GAME BY ORSON SCOTT CARD.  This one’s definitely speculative fiction, in fact sci fi.  Many, including the author, seem to prefer the next book in the series, Speaker for the Dead.  While I agree that Speaker for the Dead is an excellent book, I fear it sometimes eclipses Ender’s Game, a fate Ender’s Game does not deserve!  Personally I prefer the greater power of story and plotting I found in Ender’s Game.  This is a book that I believe both teens and adults can appreciate, and I don’t think one has to have read any of the previous books in the series before reading Ender’s Game (though I did, and they were good, too).  Ender’s Game won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards.
  3. 2312 BY KIM STANLEY ROBINSON.  This is an amazing feat of science fiction writing, which opens with a sequence set on a colonized Mercury that is sheer perfection.  Among its many achievements is the author’s way of segregating longer scientific explanations into separate sections that are really enjoyable and interesting…but also very easy to skip if one just wants to keep going with the story.  2312 won a very well-deserved Nebula Award.
  4. ROCOCO BY SUE HOLLISTER BARR.  What?  You doubt my objectivity?  It is sci fi, set in a future I think you’ll find amusing if your sense of humor, like mine, is a bit on the dark side.
  5. TWISTED BY SUE HOLLISTER BARR.  This one’s horror, and it could be argued I went overboard by making it really sick horror.  But many have enjoyed this tale of 60s hippies attempting to escape a fate they can’t outrun since it was first (conventionally) published.  And I believe my new author’s edition, published in 2015, is even better.

Ink Splatters 3

Check out my newly released sci fi novella, Rococo!

ROCOCO:  A sci fi novella I had a lot of fun writing!  Even the two years I spent researching our future as predicted by a truly diverse collection of people…but including those paid the big bucks to make accurate calls in such matters for major corporations.  Personally, I love this novella, and its sales so far would seem to indicate that I’m not alone, but in case you’d (somewhat understandably!) prefer a somewhat more objective opinion before spending your hard-earned cash on a copy:

“Welcome, my dearest dear, to Rococo…a novella with as many plot flourishes as its name suggests.  In a richly imagined future, Nan is designing the propulsion system for a vessel with a mysterious itinerary, and she’s working for an elusive boss.  Her work, she discovers, is of interest to many parties, and she has the dark suspicion that not all of that interest is healthy.  There is indeed something sinister afoot, and the voice of Nan’s grandfather echoes in her mind:  ‘Only you can overcome this.’  Sue Hollister Barr’s characters will draw you into this tale, leading you through fantastic settings and swirling twists.” Amanda Coffin, Editor.

Ready to buy now?  Hmmm?  Hmmm?  (The Kindle version’s only 99 cents!)  If so, Rococo‘s currently available a number of different places including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

rococo-by-sue-hollister-barr