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The Space between Atoms 30

  As the stream began to climb, it had formed a natural setting for a mill.   Dilapidated, the remains of one crouched alongside the stream.   This was far from where anybody now lived, like the Deserted Village in Watchung Reservation.   Danielle had taken him there.   Technically Feltville, it had been a place where a community had thrived, but had eventually been abandoned.   Houses still stood, falling apart, but the area was now being preserved.   Of course, in New Jersey nothing was really far from anything else, but here?   From the mill Terah saw scattered, clearly forsaken houses, up on the hill. Some towns, like New Amsterdam, caught on and became New York City.   Others, like Pithole City near where he had entered the world, were left to rot.   It was like when you had an idea and began to follow it, but others dropped out when it wasn’t an instant success.   Terah recalled that Weird New Jersey had designated the area around Feltville “the Enchanted Forest.”   Young people
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The Space between Atoms 29

  It wasn’t Lindsey.   Instinctively he darted behind a tree and held his breath.   He heard footsteps but saw no one.   Thoughts of Billy returned.   The boy had been convinced the ghosts were calling him.   When Terah had got him on the trail back to their tent he boy stood panicked, flashing his light into the treetops.   “The voices,” he cried, “they’re coming after me!”   Although it’d been summer, Terah shivered. “Billy, you’ve got to believe me!   There are no voices!”   He’d had some psychology at college, but nothing had prepared him for this.   Indeed, his religious classes hadn’t exactly convinced him that his faith was wrong, but he’d come to doubt the supernatural.   Science courses found a mechanistic universe much easier to comprehend.   Could Billy really be seeing ghosts?   The way he darted his flashlight beam around was creepy, unsettling. Now Terah found himself in the woods on a sunny January day.   He was alone but he heard someone he couldn’t see.   Had his slowl

The Space between Atoms 28

  The dogs were barking at the plow.   No police.   Not yet. Snow-plow drivers, Terah surmised, heart sprinting, had tunnel vision.   He based this on experience.   Once, when waiting for a predawn February bus, a set of three overlapping plows came down the snow emergency route where the bus stopped.   A hooker for capitalism, he stood under the streetlight near the stop.   The plows didn’t swerve.   Or even slow down.   Onward they came, duty foremost.   Finally Terah leapt backward as a rooster tail of scraped snow taller than himself showered down from the blade scraping the asphalt.   If he hadn’t jumped, he’d have been baptized with dirty frozen water.   Tunnel vision. So he assured himself as he tried to climb the hill with the heavy pack on his back.   He leaned forward attempting to launch himself upward to a nearby trunk.   He’d then pull himself to it and try to repeat the maneuver.   He reckoned he’d be out of sight by the time the lonely truck trundled by, its heavy blade

Easy Chair

  So, just when I get started picking up steam in fiction, something drags me back to non.   I suppose the fact that I’ve had four nonfiction books published while my novel has been repeatedly rejected has something to do with it.   In any case, “Easy Chair” is now available on Coffin Bell . One of my Breck stories, this tale was inspired by my experience in higher education.   It’s a hostile environment.   If you’ve ever lost a job as a professor, you know what I mean.   Revenge is something that frequently comes to mind. A fun bit of horror that considers if trying revenge is really a good idea, “Easy Chair” had a relatively easy time with publication.   Unlike almost all of my stories, it was never rejected.   I revised it quite a few times before sending it out, but still, that’s remarkable. My very first published story as an adult (I don’t really count those from high school—who knows anything then?), “Hide and Seek,” was also never rejected.   If it hadn’t been for that early bo

Squirrels

  I’ve been doing some thinking.   I have dozens of stories written.   Most of them aren’t very good, but several of them are.   I’ve been trying to get them submitted. Part of the problem with being a graphomaniac is that you have so much material that you begin to forget it.   I’ve read some of my own stories that I have no recollection of writing.   One that I recently finished was “Squirrel Play.” Recently finished stories I remember.   I wanted this one to get read, so I decided to aim high.   The Horror Zine is a phenomenon that took off.   I’ve tried to publish there before, without success.   I decided to try again. Much to my surprise, it was accepted.   I’m thrilled beyond words! As a struggling writer I wrestle with self-doubt constantly.   I wasn’t given much encouragement as a writer, except by two English teachers in my high school.   Although that was nearly forty years ago, I only got the courage to submit my first fiction eleven years ago. My first submission, to Dans

The Space between Atoms 27

  Terah and Lindsey stood death still as the feet shuffled away and they heard the door close.   They waited several minutes in case, for whatever reason, their owner had lingered outside near the garage.   When Terah spoke, it was in a whisper. “Now we’re trapped,” he lamented rather obviously. “We need to gather the supplies,” Lindsey responded. “We’re not going anywhere.” “Maybe, maybe not.   This side of the garage opens out toward the house.   Did you notice the windows last night?” “Well, yes, we tried to look through.” “How many were on the far side?” “Two.”   The Terah understood.   “The second window on this side—“ “Should be behind this shelf.   We can’t test that hypothesis until after dark, but we’ve gotta be ready to move.” A small fountain of hope began to trickle in Terah’s chest.   There could be a way out.   And maybe something more.   Something that could complicate everything.   Since they had time, they chose which supplies to take.   With Terah’s bum leg they could

AcademFic

  I’m a recovering academic, as my bio makes clear (I hope).   Earning a Ph.D. is a long, expensive way to get a license to write.   Or to be taken seriously, take your choice.   My academic career, sickly to start, never thrived.   Although I still write nonfiction (four books and counting), my real interest is here, in fiction-land. A friend recently pointed out to me a new journal AcademFic (which no spell-checker will accept), run out of Butler University, for publishing fiction by academics.   You may not have known that many of your professors were aspiring novelists, but let me assure you that many were. Of course, aspiring writers aren’t necessarily good writers.   I have a friend who’s an editor with an academic press.   He tells me that few academic writers are even fluent in academese.   Writers, however, sometimes end up trapped in academe. Back when I was in my master’s program, I was working on a novel.   I showed it to a friend whose father-in-law was an English profess