“Bartleby’s Preference” at Crack the Spine

Yuri led an ordered life. He woke up at 7 am, and his breakfast always included half a grapefruit eaten with a serrated spoon. It took him 12½ minutes to bike to his job as a network security consultant and 13½ minutes to bike back (he lived uphill). The hour before bedtime was spent reading on the couch in his living room. At 11 pm he went to bed, and, because he slept soundly and didn’t dream, the time until 7 am the following morning didn’t exist for him.

Then Yuri got a cat…

Read the rest at Crack the Spine

“The Meditations of Fra Colleoni” at Gravel

“But does it work?”

Dr. Seaver leaned back in his chair and blew on his mug of instant soup. The steam fogged his glasses. “Of course not. It’s just a thought experiment.”

“Oh,” I said, picking up a doohickey on the professor’s desk. “Of course.” The doohickey, or maybe gizmo is a better word, had protruding wires and springs and blinking lights that changed pattern as I turned the thing over in my hands. Dr. Seaver watched me indulgently.

“It’s based,” he continued, “on a faulty premise: the idea of the circular spectrum.”

“The what now?” I returned the gizmo to its spot.

Read the rest at Gravel

The Briefcase

Every day Jerry started writing a new novel in the hope that the next day he would find his efforts worthy enough to continue. This never happened. Yesterday’s writing was always Yesterday’s Writing, old and dull and foreign from the new day’s line of thinking. He had been a salesman for thirty-five years, and he knew from experience that when one prospect appeared the least bit flat it was better to look in a new direction than try to import a mountain. So every day Jerry turned and indeed didn’t have to look far before he found something new to get his typing fingers moving. Writing was easy.

After a few months, however, it struck him that he had so many beginnings of novels collected in a stack by the side of his typewriter that he may as well explore the market for beginnings. Why not? Perhaps someone had assembled a similar collection of endings, or a whole lot of middles, and were actually in need of beginnings. Granted, his beginnings were not first-rate, but they were in sufficient quantity to give a prospective client an appetizing variety to choose from. So attractive was this marketing idea, and so tired was he of writing beginnings, and so in the mood was he for frivolous travel, that he straight-away packed up his beginnings in a black leather briefcase and went out to put them before the public eye. Continue reading The Briefcase

Confessions of a Squeamish Vampire

Chapter 1: In which the Vampire introduces himself and attempts to give an idea of the nature of his obsessions.

I moved to the city so that I could be around people. There is nothing I like better than being in the midst of a great throng of strangers, being able to inspect their manners of walking and talking and the ways in which they survey their surroundings. I’m not an outgoing man, so I rarely engage any of these strangers in conversation, unless they are a clerk behind a counter and I am in the process of purchasing something or, as often happens, somebody stops me to ask for directions. Although I am new to the city, I think that I exude a certain level of comfort which persuades people to ask me for help. My level of comfort comes not from any particular knowledge of the city, but only from the fact that there is nowhere I’d rather be than within that throng of strangers. Continue reading Confessions of a Squeamish Vampire