Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Close Call


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Harlen Jacobs found himself in a predicament. He was adrift in the waters of Micronesia. Ten miles North of the Marshall Islands. There were many populated atoll's in Micronesia, but the one he was heading for looked deserted.

The day started with a slight morning breeze. By mid-morning it was gone. His boat was equipped with a small engine and he used it periodically to keep within the prevailing current as he headed toward his destination.

All was well until late afternoon when his engine decided to go as dead as the morning breeze. Harlen retrieved his toolbox and went to work on the engine checking the wiring for shorts, cleaning the spark plugs, filters, fuel lines and making minor adjustments wherever possible. Nothing he did seemed to work.

The sun was getting low and the tide was getting high. In the distance he could see a sandy shore as well as a smattering of hazardous jagged rocks. That didn't bode well for him or his boat, The Antebellum.

Harlen wasn't having much luck with the engine. The rocks were getting closer. Soon the waves would pull him toward danger.

His boat was equipped with halogen lights. In a few minutes he would need them.

Once the sun had set he stopped working long enough to turn them on. He strained to see past their reach, but was useless. They didn't shine out far enough. He could only hear the waves in the distance as they beat against the rocks.

He recalled a clearing between the rocks and hoped he was drifting toward it. If he was lucky, he would skirt the danger zone and make it to the beach unscathed. But that was a big if.

He was running out of time.

Not finding a problem with the engine itself, he started troubleshooting the fuel lines and valves leading to the engine. Maybe something was clogging them.

Another few minutes and he'd be hitting the rocks. He switched the fuel valve to the spare tank. He tried to start the engine. No go.

In a last ditch effort he disconnected the line from the valve and shoved it directly into the tank. He tried to start the engine again. It sputtered, then died. He was getting dangerously close to the rocks. He tried to start the engine again. It sputtered again, then took off.

Harlen focused the light toward the bow. The rocks were directly ahead. There was no room to turn around so Harlen headed for the shore. He quickly maneuvered to the starboard side of the closest rocks and skirted them but the boat glanced off a rock on the port side. A narrow passage opened up ahead and Harlen steered for shore.

The following morning he checked the Antebellum for damages. She had a few scratches and a broken keel but she was still seaworthy. He could slowly limp her into port to get the needed repairs while he enjoyed his stay on the Marshall Islands.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bad Decisions


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Haluk had come to his fathers homeland. Now he wished he never had.
His father's last wish was to have his ashes buried in Turkey, the land of his birth. Haluk, having lived in the United States all his life had never even considered a trip to Turkey, but he felt the need to honor the last wish of his dying father.

Having never traveled out of the country. Haluk was excited to be on his way to Istanbul.

Once there, he booked a room along the bustling Istiklal Avenue. His eyes were opened to many new and exciting things like the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Galata Tower and the Spice Bazaar. In time he sprinkled his fathers ashes among the flowers in Gulhane Park.

Before leaving for home he took one last drive around the city. As he drove, he didn't pay close attention to the road. A bicycle rider pulled in front of him and Haluk hit him.

He stopped and got out to see if the rider was OK. A police officer pulled up behind him and got out to investigate.

It was an accident. He seems to be OK,” Haluk reported.

May I see your drivers license,” asked the officer.

I don't have one. I'm from the United States. The car is rented.”

Then may I see your papers.”

Haluk suddenly realized he didn't have them. “I'm afraid I've left my passport in my hotel room,” he replied.

I see, replied the officer. “Did you know it is against the law to be without your papers while visiting this country. For hitting this poor man and damaging his property and for not having your passport with you, I'm going to have to arrest you.”

Haluk didn't want to be arrested. He would miss his flight. He had heard that most policemen in Turkey would accept a cash payment to keep from having to arrest someone. He asked the officer to step over to his car. He then pulled a one hundred dollar bill from his pocket and held it out to the officer. “This is the only paper I have on me,” he sheepishly stated.

What is this? Are you trying to bribe me? Now you are under arrest.”

Haluk protested. “No, I wasn't trying to bribe you, really. I only, I only...No you can't arrest me. I need to go home. I can't miss my flight.”

The officer grabbed Haluk and placed the cuffs on him. “Hitting a man on his bike, not carrying your papers, offering a police officer a bribe and now resisting arrest. You are digging yourself into a deep hole young man.”

Haluk was taken to a police station and thrown into a cell with several seedy looking men. They smiled and looked him over carefully.

One of the men said something to the others and they all laughed. Haluk didn't understand the language.

Translation: “Look Kuzey, a young one.” The man advanced and Haluk screamed.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Predator and the Prey


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He knew he needed to keep very quiet and perfectly still while he waited.
Lester Craw had been an avid hunter ever since the day he was old enough to shoot a rifle. He enjoyed the woods. He enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and he enjoyed fresh venison whenever he could get it.

Over the Summer, Lester had scouted out a new hunting area. It was deep in the woods where old growth fir trees still stood, and well off the beaten path where other hunters were less likely to have scouted the area ahead of him. There were good game trails and plenty of tracks and scat from deer, bear and at least one cougar, as well as a small watering hole. All the signs of an area that should produce a trophy buck.

It was a brisk early morning just before sunrise when Lester arrived. There was a thin layer of frost on the ground. The air was so still, the slightest crunch of a fallen leaf could be easily heard. Lester found his spot downwind from the watering hole where he quietly sat and waited. He knew from experience, something would show up, and when it did, it would be at his mercy. Mercy was something Lester Craw new little of.

~~~~

It was well before sunrise. The big cat limped its way along the game trail toward the watering hole. As he had been doing for weeks, he would wait in the brush on the downwind side hoping to catch a rabbit or some other small creature. Because of his limp, he could no longer chase something down. It needed to be a surprise attack.

The limp wasn't new. He had it since last Spring. He thought he could pick off a black bear cub when it had wandered too far from its mother. It was a miscalculation. The she bear was on him at the cub's first whimper. She took a swipe at him and put a deep gash in his hind quarter. Since then, the meals had been either sparse or non existent. The injury was taking a long time to heal and he was hungry.

As the cougar sat in wait, it caught the scent of a human. It stayed put hoping it would pass. It did, but not far enough. The human stopped in front of a fallen log not more than fifty feet away. Instinct told him to leave, but hunger told him to stay and patiently wait.

Lester sat motionless as he hid behind a fallen log. With a good view of the water. He patiently waited for something to show itself.

Within fifteen minutes he was rewarded. A big buck with a huge rack cautiously eased toward the hole for a morning drink.

With Lester's full attention on the deer, the cougar advanced.
Lester lifted his rifle and took aim. The cougar sprung from behind. The deer darted back into the woods at the sound of a scuffle.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Held For Ransom


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

An internal investigative report concerning a release of toxic gasses by the Calendine Corporation was accidentally posted on the internet last night.
It was quickly removed, but not quick enough. Michael Warfton captured the report and immediately posted it onto his Facebook page. It has since gone viral.
The accident, which took place in a small Brazilian town called Maraba. It was severe enough to require an investigation. Apparently a malfunctioning valve was first thought to be the cause and indeed it was. But, as it turns out, the malfunction was no accident. The valve had clearly been tampered with. Not physically, but electronically. From within the companies software which was designed to keep this very thing from happening.

Someone had hacked Calendine's files and rewrote several of the safeguard protocols. They bypassed all the automatic controls and safety backups designed to regulate the valves that distributed highly toxic gasses into their appropriate containment vessels. They then reprogrammed the software to release the gas from a single valve right in front of a return air vent sending it into the plant's ventilation system.

Sensors within the vent system were set off causing a full scale evacuation of over one hundred people. The gas was quickly purged and recaptured before it escaped to the outside environment.

By law, the company was required to report the incident within seventy two hours but company officials neglected to do so as they discussed how to handle any negative press coverage and how they planned to spin the incident. Realizing they couldn't keep it in house much longer, they reported it.

World Environmental Health regulators and top computer experts were called in to investigate the situation. The plant was immediately shut down until the investigation was complete.

The company spun the incident to the press stating the evacuation was a mandatory drill and the current shutdown was scheduled maintenance. There was nothing to worry about. The people of Maraba were perfectly safe and the Calendine Corporation was being proactive for the greater good of the community.

Company officials scrambled when two days later a video addressed to the company president was received. A young man in disguise stood in front of a screen displaying a scene of carnage. For five minutes he let his demands be known. What it all came down to was if the company didn't stop the production of these lethal gases. These “weapons of mass destruction” used to kill innocent people, he would continue to wreak havoc with the plants systems, eventually rendering the whole plant useless. The company and its owners would be bankrupt.

Brazilian Security forces were called in to track down the terrorist. The company hired the best computer programmers money could buy to plug the security holes. Each time they thought they had it, another breech would develop.

In the end. The Calendine Corporation couldn't fully secure their software. The plant was not allowed to reopen. It eventually ceased its operations and pulled out of the country.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Accidental Winner


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Ever since Eddie won the grand prize, he had the feeling he was a marked man.
It started three months ago. The National Alliance of Casino Operators held their annual drawing. The grand prize was ten thousand dollars a week for life. Coincidentally, all of the people who had won the non-transferable prize in the past were in their seventies and in ill health. At twenty five, Eddie was not only the youngest to ever win the prize, he was also the healthiest.

Being non-transferable, once the winner died, that was the end of the payouts.

Maybe Eddie was just being paranoid. Then again maybe not. He did know that two weeks after his first payment, he began having a rash of bad luck. It started with a hit and run car accident. From out of nowhere a large truck broadsided him on the driver side. Fortunately, it was a brand new car. The side airbags saved him. He was shook up but alright. The other car was never found.

Next was the drive by shooting. He had one of the neighborhood kids take his dog out for an evening walk. It was cold so he loaned the kid his jacket. He was shot about a block from the house. Fortunately he lived.

Then there was the suspicious package mailed to his house. Sensors at the post office picked up gunpowder residue. The package was diverted to the local bomb squad. They x-rayed it and sure enough it was a bomb. They detonated it without a problem.

It was apparent that someone wanted him dead. Eddie wasn't stupid. He figured it had something to do with the money. He knew it wasn't a family member. They were being well taken care of. He thought it was some jealous sicko unhappy about not having won the prize.

Eddie decided it was time to hire a bodyguard. Someone to hang back far enough not to be noticed, but close enough to quickly step in if the need ever arose.

It did, and rather quickly too. Eddie and a friend were walking down the street one day when a fancy black car with tinted windows pulled up alongside them. A man jumped out and tried to tackle Eddie. The bodyguard was on his toes and quickly intervened. He slammed a stun gun into the guys gut and put him down. He then dove into the open car door and put a gun to the drivers head before he could get away.

They were both arrested and interrogated. Turns out they were a couple of armature murder for hire thugs hired by an anonymous individual to “fix a mistake that should have never happened.” Payment was sent by courier with no way to trace it to the sender.

Eddie found a good lawyer and set up the prize payments to come through his office, then forwarded to an undisclosed off shore account. He took out a huge life insurance policy, then disappeared from sight.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Never Threaten a Thief


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The hospital was on high alert as the seriousness of the event began to unfold.
The tsunami had struck without warning in the middle of the night, leveling most of the small seaside city. The emergency room was beginning to see the first of many serious injuries coming through the door. Beds were filling fast. Within the hour people on stretchers were lining the halls. All staff members that could make it in were on duty. It was nothing short of pandemonium.

Emergency services were summoned from towns further inland. Paramedics treated injuries in the field. Firefighters worked at controlling a large fire that had broke out near the edge of the disaster. Police officers and the military paroled the area keeping looters from taking advantage of the situation.

Peter Aldo wasn't a looter, but he was taking advantage. Trained as an accountant, he had gone to work for a large company whose business it was to keep the books for many smaller businesses throughout the area. Over the past year he was cooking the books for the company he worked for. They were embezzling money from a number of their clients. Peter was embezzling money from his employer.

With this current emergency situation at hand, the company had ordered Peter to take advantage and destroy the evidence. Blend it into the mayhem and make it look like it was unavoidable.

The servers containing the evidence were all in house. Fortunately, the building that held them still had power. Peter, always one to take advantage of a situation, began downloading all the incriminating evidence onto disks. When he had finished, he put the disks in his briefcase and then proceeded to systematically corrupt every hard drive on every server. He then set the building on fire and walked out the door.

The building burned to the ground. The company had gotten away with millions and no one would ever be the wiser.

It took time to get things back on track. They worked out of a temporary site until their new building was complete. They held on to clients that survived the disaster plus picked up a few new ones. Everything was going smoothly. Then it started again. Peter's employers began pressuring him to start cooking their clients books. He had dodged one bullet. He wasn't about to risk it a second time. He gave his resignation.

Peter's employers refused his resignation and threatened him. Told him to either show up for work or learn how to breath under water.

Peter wasn't intimidated by their threats. The following day he didn't show up for work which infuriated his superiors. Concerned that Peter Aldo knew too much, they began to make plans to follow through on their threats. They were about to put them into action when a package addressed to Peter's boss arrived. It contained several disks along with a note. “These are only copies.” signed Peter Aldo.

Realizing they had been out maneuvered, the plans were dropped that very day.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dark Night of the Soul


A 500 word short story by Scott Gese

It was a dark and stormy night. Dell Perry sat easy in his saddle on the far edge of town. The clouds had come out of nowhere at the end of a hot Summer day.

It's not letting up, he thought. Better get this done with.

The storm didn't really matter to Dell. Nothing mattered these days. The world no longer made sense. Life had lost its meaning. In his mind, tonight was no different than any other night. It had been that way ever since the lynching.

~~~~
Dell Perry had brought his wife and young son to Crystal Springs when the town was still in its infancy. They had traveled close to a thousand miles across grassy plains, high desert sage and tall mountain passes.

As others kept moving in search of elusive buried treasure, Dell marveled at the abundant tall timber in plain view. He bought it cheap and set to building a mill. If this town was going to grow, it would do it with his lumber.

For ten years he struggled. He built his mill along with a name and reputation. He built a fine house for his wife and son. His lumber did build this town. It was his life blood, and now the town had betrayed him.

It started with the mill fire. It was clear that someone was unhappy with the way Dell ran his business. He was bull headed when it came to making deals. He always got the upper hand even if it meant being a little underhanded. It was a tough business and only the strong survived.

Two weeks after the fire, his wife took to her bed. She was a frail thing and had become distraught over the loss of the mill. She never recovered. Her passing was unexpected.

Dell's son, Frank, was sixteen. He was a hot headed kid not unlike his father. He thought the Mayor had set the fire. He had recently become a competitor and it only made sense in his mind that he was the culprit. Frank went after him one afternoon and shot him dead in front of several others. The Mayor was well liked and the townsfolk took offense to young Frank shooting him. They went after the boy and lynched him from a tree just outside of town.

Dell was beside himself. He had lost everything that gave his life meaning. He blamed it on the town.

The sun had set and most of the towns businesses were shuttered for the night. The time had come for retribution.

The town had turned against him. Now he turned against the town.

He pulled the torches from his saddlebags and lit them. He slowly rode down the street tossing them through the front windows of several businesses, including the town hall.

He was surprised to have made it all the way through town before the commotion started.

The rain poured down. It was indeed a dark and stormy night...except for the flames.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Three Amigos


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese


They had all gathered together for one last time. Robbers, thieves and killers of the worst kind.
Men like Arthur Klemp, horse thief and cattle rustler. Johnny Bad, killer of four men. And the worst offender of them all, Santos Francisco, bank, stage, train robber and killer.

All had escaped the noose. They served their time and now they each found themselves past their eightieth birthday, living in poverty. Their past deeds had earned them nothing. Except for Johnny Bad. He carried a bullet, shot from the gun of the last man he killed.

It was rumored that Santos had buried a cache of money but had forgotten where. Age had taken that memory from him and he mourned its loss.

~~~~

Powell Lancaster owned the Harley boarding house in Elko, Nevada. Built in the 1800's, it was a relic of the old west. Bypassed by customers in search of more modern living quarters. It was 1925. The town was progressing. Lancaster needed a way for his boarding house to bring in more revenue and he found it in Arthur Klemp who lived just outside of town.

Powell had become acquainted with Arthur over the past year. The two had occasionally shared a beer and a game of checkers. Arthur loved to talk about the old days. He came up with the idea to bring two of his old cellmates, Johnny Bad and Santos Francisco to town. They would all live in the boarding house at no cost. Lancaster would let it be known that they were boarding house residents. In exchange, they would entertain paying customers with stories of their past exploits. It was a winning combination certain to bring in new customers. They would even let Lancaster sell autographed photos for a 50/50 split.

It wasn't difficult to talk Johnny and Santos into it. They both needed better living conditions and the money was an added bonus. The plan was put into action and soon the old boarding house was booked solid. Everything was going as planned. Lancaster was making enough to afford some much needed repairs and the three old desperadoes were making a name for themselves once again. Only this time it was all legal and above board.

Six months had gone by. Johnny Bad and Arthur were on the front porch talking with one of the guests when Santos came out and sat down at the other end of the porch. He kept motioning for the two men to come over. They politely excused themselves.

What's so urgent that you had to pull us away from telling a good story?” Asked Arthur.

We need horses,” replied Santos.

Horses, Why do we need horses? I haven't rode a horse in years,” Replied Johnny Bad.

Do you remember when we were cellmates, I told you I hid a lot of money, but I forgot where?”

Ya, what about it?” They replied.

Santos almost yelled it out. “I remember where I hid the money.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Real Story


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

There had been many theories about why she had been murdered.
All of them were wrong. Only Malcolm, her agent, knew the real story and he wasn't talking. At least not to just anyone.

His shrink knew the story.

Malcolm, I thought we had everything out in the open, but there seems to be this overriding issue of guilt that I can't seem to place my finger on. Is there something you're not telling me?” Malcolm's analyst shifted patiently in his chair waiting for a reply.

Yes, yes there is,” Malcolm replied nervously. “Are you sure we have complete doctor patient confidentiality?”

Of course we do. Nothing leaves this office. Now tell me what I don't already know.”

Malcolm got up from the couch. “I can't lay down right now.” He fumbled for a cigarette, lit it, took a deep drag and began.

Do you recall the sensation about Gretta Levine's murder? It was in all the papers.”

Of course. Seems they found their man but he never confessed. Claimed he was innocent. He died of a massive stroke. Isn't that right?”

Part right. He did die of a stroke, but he wasn't the murderer. I know who is and I know why it happened. That's what has me in knots. I don't know what to do with this information.”

Why don't you take it to the police?”

I can't do that. I'm responsible for this persons safety. If he goes to prison he'll die there.”

Well than tell me this. Why did this person do it? We'll start there and see what develops. Is that OK?”

OK, I'll tell you that much. Gretta was at the peak of her acting career. I being her agent had nurtured her to this point. She was having a hard time handling the fame. Too many people trying to pull her in too many directions, plus the Paparazzi were relentless. She couldn't take it. She wanted out. I tried to talk some sense into her, but she kept babbling on about disappearing somewhere in Idaho. Said she wanted to find her center, whatever the hell that means. She wanted to work on her art. Did you know she was one hell of a painter?”

No, Malcolm, I didn't.”

Well she was. But there's no money in that. People were depending on her. She couldn't just walk away. She was under contract.”

So you're telling me she was killed because she wanted out of the business. Is that correct?”

Yes, that's right.”

But that doesn't make sense. Those who depended on her still lost out.”

It wasn't intentional. It was an accident. The person responsible framed the guy who was arrested. Why do you think he fought the charges so hard?”

I see, so now that we've determined the why, maybe you'll consider telling me who did it?” questioned the analyst.

Malcolm considered his reply. “I did.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Dream Too Real


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese


When Angelo closed his eyes for the night, he had no clue as to what was about to take place.

It was a routine evening. He brushed his teeth, set his alarm and went to bed. What he expected was, as always, to wake up in the morning and start another workday. What happened was much more than that.

As he drifted off to sleep he suddenly found himself standing bare footed on a tropical beach wearing shorts and a tee shirt. He felt the warmth of the noonday sun on his face. A slight breeze drifted in from across the surf. He stood at the waters edge and let the warm waves lap up around his legs. It felt good. He felt good.

Coconut palms lined the beach as far as he could see. They lazily swayed in the breeze as if waving a welcoming hello. He wasn't alone. There were others enjoying the sun and surf. Angelo decided to walk as he enjoyed the moment. He knew it was a dream but it seemed so real. So lucid.

As he walked, he could hear tropical birds and howler monkeys in the distance. They blended nicely with the sound of the surf. Angelo took it all in. The tropical smells and sounds. The vibrant colors, the feel of the warm water, sun and the sand between his toes.

As Angelo walked he met a man who began to walk with him. He was told the beach was along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The stranger was quite intuitive. He understood things about Angelo's psyche that most people wouldn't be aware of. He enjoyed talking with the stranger but they eventually parted company.

Angelo spotted something that intrigued him. It was away from the beach amongst the palms. He could hear music so he decided to investigate. As he got closer he could see people milling around. Two young women, well tanned in string bikini's walked by carrying boogie boards. Others were eating, drinking and enjoying each others company.

Angelo walked up to the bar. “Welcome to Lola's Beach Bar,” greeted the bartender. “What can I get for you?”

I'll have a cerveza,” he replied.

He handed the man his Visa card. The bartender handed him an ice cold bottle of Cerveza Imperial. Angelo took a seat at one of the tables overlooking the ocean. Everything was perfect. He sipped his beer until the sun faded below the horizon reflecting its warm red glow off the clouds above. It was one of the most spectacular sunsets he had ever seen.

Just as suddenly as the dream had appeared, it vanished. Angelo was back in bed. His alarm was ringing.

That evening as Angelo's wife was at her computer going over the bills she called to him. “Angelo, come take look at this. I have a Visa charge here for one beer from a Lola's Beach Bar in Costa Rica. I don't get it?

Angelo smiled. He got it.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Bad Idea


A 500 Word Short Story by Scott A. Gese

As she stopped to catch her breath, she looked back.
She was concerned about her boyfriend, Bill. He was slower than her. They were running uphill and they were both tiring fast. She was relieved to see he was still behind her. Stopping may have been a big mistake. It was a bigger mistake to even be there in the first place.

It all started a few days ago. It was a Saturday night. Olivia and Bill were at a college party. There was plenty of beer and they were drinking even though they weren't of legal age. Something was said about a hidden pot farm in the hills not too far from where they were. The plants were budding and ready for harvest. Bill made an off the cuff comment about getting his hands on some of it before it was gone. Several others at the party jumped on it. They were willing to pay for some of it if he could get it.

They goaded him into it and he goaded Olivia into giving him a hand. Olivia knew it was a bad idea from the very beginning. Bill thought the same but figured he and Olivia could pull it off.

At times teenagers don't think about the consequences of their actions. At that young age they're invincible, or so they think. The two laid their plans with no more forethought than as if they were heading to the grocery store. There was very little planning put into how they would pull it off. They hadn't even checked out the grow plot.

On the afternoon of their attempted heist they quietly worked their way up to the edge of the trees overlooking a very large plot of plants. Being a weekday, they were hoping no one would be around. It looked like they were right. They cautiously approached the edge of the field unaware that they had set off a trip wire which alerted the growers that someone was there.

Bill removed his backpack and they both quickly started snipping buds. In less than ten minutes a truck roared up and three men jumped out. They were all armed. Bill and Olivia stayed low and headed for the trees. One of the men spotted them and let off a couple of shots in their direction as they gave chase. They may have been older and somewhat out of shape, but they were determined not to lose part of their crop to a couple of thieves. Bill and Olivia were determined not to get caught. They were running for their lives.

Bill was struggling to keep up with Olivia, but he was well ahead of the men chasing after them. They barely managed to escape.

The following day they were celebrating their success with a few of their friends. Olivia happened to look out the window just as a pickup truck pulled into the driveway. It was the same truck that had roared into the field the day before.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sudden Darkness


A 500 Word Short Story by Scott A. Gese

She stared into the darkness unable to move.
She had heard it and now she felt it. Something or someone was staring at her. A cold chill worked its way up her spine to the back of her neck. She could feel the hairs standing on end. A sudden shiver of fear came and went.

What had she heard? She wasn't quite sure. The next camp stop was still a quarter mile away according to the map. The last mile of the trail had dropped down into the trees blocking out the low hanging sun. Darkness had come on too quickly and she wasn't prepared. A tactical flashlight/stun gun combo hung from her backpack. It was readily accessible. She kicked herself for not getting it out sooner. But now, any sudden move might bring whatever was out there down on her.

Decisions needed to be made.

Candice was an outdoors person. Always had been. She camped and hiked with her family as a kid and continued to enjoy it throughout her adult life, usually by herself. She liked it that way. Nice and quiet. Time to reflect while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounded her. Learning survival skills played a big part in her life. She knew how important they were especially when a person was out on their own, which is why she was being so hard on herself right now. She knew better.

She decided to move. Slowly reaching behind her hoping to find the flashlight that was hanging from her pack. No luck. It was too far and out of reach. The backpack would have to come off. Even in the cool night air, sweat was beginning to bead on her forehead.

Eyes straining to pierce the darkness, ears straining to hear any little noise, muscles tense and twitching, nerves ready to unravel. How did she want to remove it? Slow and deliberate right where she stood. Slowly stoop low to the ground and then remove it. Slowly step off the trail first; or just do it in one swift motion and hope for the best. Whatever she was going to do, it needed to be sooner than later.

The decision was made. She whipped off her backpack as fast as she could, but before she reached the stun gun, whatever was out there swiftly pounced on her. She screamed and lashed out kicking and thrashing her arms as furiously as she knew how. Whatever it was suddenly jumped back. There was silence. A light came on. A man holding night vision goggles stood before her.

He was holding his side. “I'm a cougar and you're dead. Damn, I think you might have broke a rib.”

Candice was still trying to catch her breath. “Freddy, you bastard. You're lucky I didn't get to my stun gun.”

No, you're lucky, Lucky to be alive. This survival class is all about keeping you that way. You made a vital mistake. Let's get to camp and talk about this.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Time Bender


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He was the top coder in the country.
Timothy Wilkins was a twenty-eight year old prodigy. Hired by the NSA to develop software for a top secret project. A project that had been in the works for five years. No one had been able to complete the necessary coding needed to finish the project. Top coders had tried and failed.

The “machine” was nothing more than a helmet. A sophisticated version of a virtual reality headset. But this project wasn't a game. It was real. The movie titled “The Matrix” only hinted at what was really possible. Recent advancements in the understanding of quantum physics had made the project more than theoretically possible.

The project Timothy Wilkins was hired to complete was the manifestation of that theory. It was a machine that could actually bend time. It was a time machine.

In the past, the thought was that the body would move through time in some sort of a craft. The new thinking was a radical departure from the past.

The New thought was that physical travel didn't need to happen. The body would stay put. The mind will do the traveling. It goes way beyond Lucid Dreaming or Out of Body travel. Mere child's play compared to the technology being developed by sources much higher than even that of the NSA. The NSA was a front for the real power players.

The problem wasn't that someone couldn't be sent forward. That had been done. The problem was twofold. They couldn't bring them back and they couldn't communicate with them in real time.

A few experiments had been attempted. Someone was sent forward by a week. They would leave a message in a predetermined location acknowledging their arrival. A week later the message showed up. It was a slow system. Currently six people were stuck in time, unable to return. They were virtually alive and living in the future. But their current time bodies were in a secure room, comatose, waiting for the day they could return home.

Wilkins was hired to figure out a real time communication system no matter how far in advance future travelers were sent. Communication was the top priority, not bringing them back.

He worked tirelessly on the project for close to a month. Twice the attempt was made. The secure room body count rose by two.

Unbeknownst to the NSA, Wilkins was working on a side project. How to return from a future time.

Over the next month the body count grew by another two. It looked like the problem wasn't going to be solved any time soon. The bodies disappeared along with the funding. Wilkins was let go, but not before he had downloaded all the information he needed to build a machine that could bend time.

He may not have solved the communication problem, but he did figure out how to return. The world was about to change for the better and Timothy Wilkins was the man who would lead the way.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Change of Heart


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The old man sat motionless behind the wheel
Before him was the cliff. All he had to do was step on the gas and it would all be over in a few seconds. He had made it this far, but now, faced with the possibility of impending death, the end of his ninety-plus years on this earth, the end of his life as he knew it, he hesitated and he remembered.

He remembered all the firsts in his life. His first job. The first time he saw a television set. His first car, his first date and his first kiss. Her name was Emma. She had the reddest lips, big brown eyes and auburn hair. The memories were now pouring in. Lost within the dark recesses of his mind for so many years, they now broke loose and came flooding forward like a tsunami wave heading back to shore.

He recalled his wife of seventy years. He still loved her even though she had passed on some ten years ago. Secretly, he had always wanted her to go first. To spare her from the grief he knew would come. To spare her from the loneliness he now felt. He knew her, and thought he could handle it better than her. He didn't realize how hard it would be or that it would last so long. Why was he lingering here? Why hadn't he passed on right after her like so many couples he had known?

He recalled his kids. Two girls and a boy. His son was killed in action. He was given a metal and the flag that draped his sons coffin. It was a worthless consolation for the loss of his only son. His two girls grew up and grew old. One passed last year. He lived with the other. He was a burden to her and he knew it.

He recalled many things as he sat behind that wheel. He looked out over the ocean ahead of him. He couldn't see the secluded beach below. He had left a note behind so his daughter would be able to find him. He knew she would be distraught, but at the same time relieved.

As he sat there in deep thought, a knock on the window brought him back. It was a police officer.

Mr. Sheridon, are you OK?”

How do you know who I am?” The old man asked.

Your license plate. Are you OK? Your daughter's worried about you. She told us where to find you. She thought you may have driven over the cliff.”

No, I think I've changed my mind on that. I think I want to go home.”

That's good Mr. Sheridan. Why don't you let me give you a ride.”

He turned off the ignition and stepped out of the car.

The family on the beach directly below the cliff enjoyed a picnic lunch on a beautiful day. Unaware of what was taking place just above their heads.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The End of Harvey Anderson


A 500 Word Short Story by Scott A. Gese

He had the best of both worlds.
He was rich and he was famous. For twenty years he lived the life of a rock star. Sold out concerts, platinum albums and all the liquor, drugs and women a man could ask for. It seemed as if there would be no end to this life of unprecedented fame and fortune. But of course, everything comes to an end. And so it did for Harvey Anderson and his heavy metal band called Hardrock Quarry.

The band was playing their final encore to a sold out show in the city of Chicago. Harvey was smashing his guitar on the stage floor. He had done this so many times, the audience expected it. What wasn't expected, at least by Harvey, was the shard that flew back and lodged in his throat. As soon as it happened he dropped his guitar raised his hands as if the show was over and exited the stage. He had worked the audience into a frenzy. They never knew.

Backstage there was pandemonium. Harvey was bleeding heavily. The shard had nicked an artery and lodged in his larynx. Fortunately the band traveled with a personal physician, mainly to keep an eye on them as they frequently partied with hard liquor and illegal drugs.

Tonight he earned his money. He kept Harvey alive until an ambulance arrived. Harvey was admitted to the emergency room of the local hospital. The shard had damaged his vocal chords.

As Harvey recovered, it became apparent that his natural voice was now but a shadow of what it used to be. He could no longer strain his vocal chords when he sang. Even talking was difficult at times. His life was saved, but his career was over. Without Harvey, the band fell apart. Its members went their separate ways. Harvey went home to his Malibu house lost and confused.

For several months after word got out, a constant string of well wishers stopped by to console and party with Harvey, but it wasn't the same as when he was on the road. Over time, Harvey felt less like partying. He was changing and as he did, his partying friends dropped off.

He was becoming bored. He needed an outlet. Harvey may not have been able to sing like he used to, but he could still play the guitar. From time to time he would anonymously fill in as a lead guitar player for other heavy metal bands, but his heart was no longer into their wild lifestyle.

His Malibu home held a state of the art recording studio. Harvey used his time doing something he had frequently thought about, but never had the time to pursue. With his raspy voice, an old Lee Oskar harmonica and a secret love for the blues, Harvey Anderson reinvented himself.

Harvey Anderson had died on that fateful night. In his place, a new man was born. His first release was called Outland Blues. It took the world by storm.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Payback


A 500 Word Short Story by Scott A. Gese

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Biggs continued to admire the photo of his German Shepherd. “Sandy would have been twelve today. Just look at that face. I tell you what, that dog could talk without saying a word. Look at those eyes. What an expression...”

Enough!, enough already! I'm so damn tired of hearing about that dog I could puke.” Johnny Martin was Larry Biggs' partner. They'd been patrolling the South district together for the past two months. They worked the night patrol.

The South District at night was a hell hole. Hookers, junkies, dealers and gang bangers all jostling for a piece of concrete turf. It was smack dab in the middle of a mid-August heat wave. Hot and sticky even at one in the morning. The heat brought out the worst in people. Tempers flared. Guns and knives were drawn at the slightest provocation. People died for nothing more than a terse word or a dirty look.

Tonight was no different.

Biggs closed the visor where Sandy's photo hung. “Sorry Johnny, Sandy patrolled with me for close to ten years.”

You never did tell me what happened to her,” quizzed Martin.

Sure you want to hear?”

Ya ya, go ahead. I'll be good.”

Sandy was my patrol partner. Like I said, we were together for close to ten years. She saved my butt and I saved hers as well. We were a damn good team. One night we got a call. A shooting on Flanders Ave., not too far from here. When we arrived there was still trouble lurking. I called for backup. Sandy and I got out to question a couple of hoods still hangin' around. One of them pulled a gun and Sandy went for him. He shot her and took off running. I let him go and took care of Sandy. She died in my arms.”

Wow, sorry to hear that, Biggs. Did you catch the guy?”

Not yet. I know who he is and where he hangs out. We drive through the area every night. He'll show up. When he does, he'll wish he hadn't.”

Several weeks went by. Biggs and Martin were driving through the area where Sandy was shot. Suddenly, Biggs hit the brakes. “Well I'll be damned. There he is. The kid in the red hoodie. The Sandy killer.”

Are you sure about that?”

Damn sure.”

Biggs hit the gas and screeched to a halt right next to him. Both men jumped out and the kid took off. Biggs was hot on his trail. Martin jumped behind the wheel and gave chase. The two ran down an alley and Martin pulled in. It was a dead end. Biggs had the kid trapped. His baton was drawn. Martin jumped out and Biggs ordered him back into the car.

Don't do anything stupid, Biggs.” Martin shouted.

He murdered my partner, paybacks are hell,” replied Biggs. “Don't worry, he'll live.”

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Beating the Odds


A 500 Word Short Story by Scott A. Gese

There was nothing left of the money.
They took it all. Wiped me out and then asked me to leave the table. Not even a “Sorry 'bout your luck” farewell drink. Bastards! Luckily it was only a thousand dollars.

It's not just my luck that's gone sour. For the past couple of months my whole life has hit the skids. The last of my kids moved out of the house. My wife was close behind. Said she had “fulfilled her obligation” and now her life was her own again. She made it quite apparent that I was no longer included.

It looks like I'm a free man now, except for the job I really despise, but need. So maybe I'm not as free as I think. I'm shackled to it for now.

The day the divorce papers were finalized I was feeling low. I stopped and had a couple of drinks after work. I bought a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket on the way out. I don't normally play the lottery, but as I said, I was feeling sorry for myself and I needed something to cheer me up. It felt good to fantasize about what I would do if I ended up being the big winner.

When I got home I threw the smokes and the ticket on my dresser and went to bed.

The ticket was promptly forgotten about. A full week went by before I remembered it. I had heard some lucky bastard had won the grand prize. Whoever it was was probably sitting on a beach in Tahiti right now sucking down one of those fruity umbrella drinks. I knew my chances of winning were slim to none and probably closer to the latter. The odds favor the house in a big way. That's why I never play.

It was Monday morning. I shoved the ticket into my pocket and figured I'd check it when I got to the office.

It was around noon when I finally checked the ticket. I pulled up the lottery website. My head bobbed between the screen and the ticket as I checked the numbers. Then I checked them again. Then I checked them for a third time.

Each time I checked I made excuses. My eyesight's bad. I'm not reading these numbers correctly. I must not be doing this right. But every time they came up the same. A perfect match. The prize was twenty million dollars. Things like this don't happen to me. My heart was pounding with excitement. I began to feel queasy.

I wasn't sure what to do next. I had to read the instructions on the back of the ticket before I realized I needed to sign it. I did, then tucked it safely into my wallet.

I regained my composure, walked into my bosses office and gave him my notice, effective immediately. I redeemed the ticket and booked a flight to Tahiti.

I was looking forward to one of those fruity umbrella drinks.

© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.