Monthly Archives: May 2017

Among the Infected

One hundred people filed into the long hallway. I looked around me and most of them were men, working men of all ages. There were a few older women, even fewer children. But none were my age. 

We packed in like sardines and a loud buzzer went off. A cloud of smoke filled the room and they all began to cough, I tried holding my breath and covering my mouth, but the smoke entered my lungs anyway. A couple men dropped to the floor immediately, they must have been infected. Another buzzer went off and we were led down another hallway.

We reached a waiting room, much that of an old hospital emergency room. In fact, that must have been what this building was, years ago. Everyone slammed against the the open window, where three women were at computer screens. They instructed us to tell them our symptoms, their computers would recognize our voice and record for our files.  Another man dropped to the floor while a few of them developed a rash on their necks. Most of the children cried.

After all the pushing and shoving I finally made it to the window. I had to tell the truth, I needed to get out of here. “I feel fine. No symptoms.”

The lady looked at me over the glasses on her nose. “That’s impossible, sweetie. Come back in a few minutes and let me know how you feel then.”

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Valerie T. Estrella

Valerie set her business card on a small table under a blue tent. This was in her instruction booklet when she signed up for the Art Fair. She couldn’t believe she was finally entering her work. She molded her clay for months, coming up with many designs, in hopes to sell.

The man at the small table took her card and studied it. “You’re Valerie T. Estrella?”

She was nervous. “Yes, that’s me.”

“What’s your age?” He said sternly.

“Uh, 32.” The words almost didn’t come out, almost as if she had forgotten her age.

“From Pontiac, Eh?” A smile grew on the man’s face. “I’ve got cousins there.”

Valerie wasn’t sure what to say. She stood there quietly as he entered more information from her card into his computer.

“Pottery, huh?” He looked up at her.

“Yes, a small hobby. Hoping to do more with it.”

“Well this is the perfect place to drum up some business. Now, here’s a map. You’re in row 8. Perfect I think, you’re more towards the front of the rows so people won’t be so tired. Super hot for Michigan this year. Anyway, this booth right here.” He highlighted the booth in row 8 and handed her the map. “You can use your car or whatever to unload, but it must be moved to the parking area before 10 A.M.”

“Got it.” Valerie thought for a moment. That was three hours away, she wasn’t sure what do in the mean time. “That’s when people show up to look at stuff right?”

He could tell she was new. “When you get your stuff all set up, you can walk around the booths. Pretty friendly crowd, these artists. And it’s a great way to make some friends out there, buy some stuff early, won’t have to worry about your own booth for a while.”

“Thanks, so much!’ Valerie got back in her little SUV and followed the signs for her row. After setting up her booth and taking her car to the parking area she perused the other artists as the man had suggested.

The had two hours to kill before customers started showing up. The first few rows that she walked down seemed to be all photography. She saw many stunning images, but nothing that caught her eye in a way that she needed to purchase anything. The next few rows were paintings of all kinds followed by charcoal drawings and mixed media. The middle of row seven is where the clay started. There were a few potters that concentrated on only pots or only sculptures, but most were mixed products like the ones Valerie made herself. She saw many techniques she’d like to try, one in particular was called horse hair raku.

“Excuse me sir, those vases there are beautiful.” She pointed to the white vases with smoke-like marbling.

“You’re early. Must be competition.” The man said without turning to face her. He was still setting out his cup collection.

“I’m afraid I am.” Her nervousness came back, maybe looking at the other artists was a bad idea after all.

The man still didn’t turn to look at her. “Let me guess. Pottery.”

“Oh, you’re good.”

“Come to steal ideas.” He still had his back towards her.

“I think we’ve started off on the wrong foot. I’m so sorry to bother you.”

“Well you’re here now.” He finally turned. “Valerie?”

She stood there perplexed. “You know me?”

“Nope.”

“She looked around his booth then back at him, not sure how he knew her name. “But, you said my name.”

He threw a thumbs up behind his shoulder.

“Oh. We’re booth neighbors.” She laughed.

A grin appeared on his face and he didn’t seem so agitated. “Yup. I saw you just as you were leaving to park your car. You’ve got some real talent there, but not a whole lot of product.”

“It’s mostly a hobby. You do this full time?” She looked again at all of his work.

“Yeah, I’m a traveling pottery peddler. Well mostly. I also teach some classes in Pontiac.”

“Wow, small world. I’m from Pontiac.”

“Not so small really, we haven’t even left Michigan.” He chuckled.

“I’d love to learn Raku, do you teach that?” Valerie picked up one of the vases with the black swirls.

“Not professionally.” He went back to placing the clay mugs on his display.

There was disappointment in her eyes and she placed the vase back down. “Oh.”

The man reached into his back pocket and pulled out his business card to hand to her. “I make a few exceptions. Here, this has my personal number on it.”


The Lonely Pineapple

The island of Kaliko had enough space for one small village. This village had three elders, five warriors and their wives, a chief and his son, and handful of villagers. There was nothing for miles at sea, when the warriors were sent out for supplies they didn’t return for a whole month. They mostly ate fish and berries and had a special holding trap for fresh water. They were happy folk and knew each other very well. 

Because of its size, not much grew on the island. Some grass that was enough to dry out and build houses and make clothing, a few shady palm trees, a few different flower types and right in the center of the island grew a large pineapple plant. This was the only fruit on the island, and the elders could not explain why it would only produce one fruit a year. 

For as long as the Kaliko people inhabited the island they held a feast the day the one pineapple was ripe enough to eat. Warriors would spend weeks looking for the right fish and their wives would collect all their chicken eggs to create beautiful dishes. 

One stormy summer, the villagers were gathering their foods for the feast when the chief noticed the pineapple plant seemed to be drooping. He went to the elders who suggested that maybe the pineapple was getting too much rain. So the chief built a shade over the plant. Nothing changed so the chief went to the elders again for help. They suggested that the plant was not getting enough sun, so on rainy days the chief covered the plant and on sunny days he would take the shade off. Still nothing had changed. They suggested a better fertilizer so the Chief tried sand, chicken feathers, coconut water, even rotten fish. Nothing had changed still  Again he went to the elders but they had run out of ideas. The days neared closer to the feast and panic had set into the village. 

The Chief’s son, wanting to help, went late into the night to lay with the pineapple. He wispered all night to the pineapple to encourage it to grow. He told the pineapple how thankful he was for his village and how he wanted to keep everyone happy. He also talked to the pineapple about all of his hopes and dreams. The son talked himself into a deep sleep just before sunrise.

The day of the feast had arrived, the villagers were going to continue their tradition with or without the lonely fruit. As the sun rose, the Chief went to awaken his son. The son was not in the hut, the chief thought he had gotten an early start to his day.

The Chief stepped out of his hut, expecting the pineapple to be more withered away, but was surprised to find he was wrong. Now in the place of the lonely pineapple grew two large healthy pineapple plants. The villagers rejoiced, they gathered their feast and had a joyous party. Both plants continued to prosper and so did the village of Kaliko. Though to this day, the boy has never been found. Rumors spread and stories were told of how he was disappointed in the lonely pineapple, but the Chief knew the real reason his son disappeared.


Gibbles the Sidekick

Gibbles the sidekick was no ordinary sidekick. He had a rough time in highschool. No one knew how to pronounce his name. Some called him Gobbles, some said jibbles, Gibblet, Hibbet, Fibbers, Tiddles, and one even said Gobblers. He was always made fun of him because he was the runt of the litter, and he had abnormally large front teeth for a gofer. 

Now, years later he’s the best crime solver out there. Sure, the hero gets the bad guy, but it was Gibbles who did all the handy work. Though he never gets the credit he deserves, being the lowly sidekick.

It sometimes takes Gibbles months to figure out the clues for the bad guy, usually because the hero always butts in when it’s not necessary. He works for a few different heroes and with occasional oversights he mixes the cases, causing at least a week to sort it all out. Of course, the heroes blame him. But he takes it with stride.

A few​ weeks ago he decided to look for a case to solve completely uninterrupted, totally on his own. This time Gibbles was going to be the hero.

There was rumors of the local town ghost that always creeped the cemetery and nearby houses. It was believed to be Sir Bartholomew Abernathy, the only lion to successfully beat the English Cavalry single-handed. Why he died was a mystery, some say he never actually died and was 247 years old, still playing tricks on people. Others believed it was the college Fraternity, Beta Phi Omega, and it was some crazy part of their hazing rituals. Members of the fraternity never kept their stories straight. When Gibbles interviewed them he concluded it was all a big ruse. 

His next plan was to interview the homes surrounding the cemetery. There he concluded that the ghost comes out especially during the summer months, his biggest haunt being the fourth of July. That’s when he decided to stake out the cemetery on that day, even asking the groundskeeper to put a tent out. He of course said no, but Gibbles is after all a gofer and just made his own hideout/sleeping quarters in a hole on top of the hill. It was a perfect look out. 

From what he gathered of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy, he was originally from Africa. Came to this town in search of a lovely feline wife (we didn’t care about the species as long as she was the most beautiful). Though all he found was Beatrice, a calico. The two fell in love anyway and lived a decent life until the war. They say she died of heartbreak over the fret of Bartholomew being gone for so long. Gibbles could never find her grave though. 

The ghost came up from the ground in what Gibbles thought was an empty plot. There where no markers nearby and it was no where near where the actual grave marker of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy was. It was a rather large ghost with a large army uniform on and a hat that hid the face so well. Gibbles couldn’t believe his eyes, even through the hidden cover of clothing, this looked almost nothing like the picture of the great lion. He scurried up to the ghost and followed it into town. It seemed to be searching. 

Gibbles called out to the ghost, calling it every name and nickname in the books of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. It finally dawned on him. He called out for Beatrice Abernathy. The mysterious ghost turned around and headed straight for Gibbles. It was in this moment he had wished the super heroes that he left behind were here, he was unprepared for the scare he was about to receive. The ghost’s hat flew back, and it was revealed that it was infact the feline love of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. Gibbles big teeth began to chatter as he said “follow me, miss.”

He led the ghost of Beatrice Abernathy to that of her lion love and she laid down peacefully next to him and was absorbed into the ground.

It took a few more weeks of the ghost haunting the local people and another night of staking out for Gibbles to finally convince the cemetery groundskeeper that it was infact Beatrice and that her grave needed to be moved next to her husband. No one wanted to believe the lowly sidekick until Humanman the hero bat finally told everyone to give Gibbles the chance he deserved. He was the only hero that respected everything Gibbles did for him. Of course in the end everyone only remembered that it was only Humanman the hero bat that saved the town from Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. But Gibbles knew the real truth and wrote that down in his scrapbook. Someday he’d get his respect but after being so frightened that first night he thought he was better off just doing the grunt work.