Memo: This Fridge Will Be Cleaned on May 2nd

fridge will be cleanedTo: All Employees
Re: May 2nd refrigerator cleaning

If there is anything in this fridge that you do not want to lose, please remove it and take it home after work on May 1st. The fridge will be out of service from May 2nd thru May 4th for a thorough cleansing.

Check to make sure that some of these unlabeled condiments and leftover pizza slices are not yours. If any of the stack of frozen dinner boxes in the freezer belongs to you, claim them now, as they will be discarded on May 2nd to prepare for the rebinding ritual.

The Management understands that the few days of lost fridge time will be an inconvenience to some of you, but for those who cannot manage to do without out, the call-center on the fifth floor has agreed to allow us a small bit of their fridge space during the cleansing. Please do not abuse this kind offer.

We want to make especially sure than any wards and hex bags that may be stored in the drawers and bones of the captured demon from the wastes of the dimension of eternal frigidity are removed on or before May 1st, as these may interfere with the complicated ritual required to cleanse the creature of the vile stench which began after someone left an open cup’a’soup sitting in the back of the top shelf for at least three months as a cover for having, perhaps accidentally, smudged the arcane glyphs which keep the creature peacefully bound to our corporeal realm, and odor free.

Note that this is not intended as a recrimination of the person responsible. As far as we can tell, it was an honest mistake, but hopefully the noisy and visible death of three of your fellow employees at the whim of the unbound refrigerator will serve as a lesson in proper break-room etiquette, so that we do not have to make such rituals a regular occurrence.

Remember, we have no dedicated cleaning crew at this office, and, as the sign above the sink says, “Your mother does not work here.” We each must be responsible for our own messes, and to make sure than any unbound demons are reported immediately to management.

When May 2nd comes, any foodstuffs or mystical charms left within the fridge will be assumed unwanted, or belonging to employees which have since left the company or been devoured by an unspeakable unchained ice-horror. If anything is not thrown away or taken home, it will be lost as the refrigerator journeys through a chain-warded loop of the ethereal abyss, and returns rebound, refreshed, and smelling like lemons two days later.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter,
Management.

Concept: Tina Tomorrow

Proposal for 44 min. sci-fi dramedy serial

Title – Tina Tomorrow

Basic concept – A young woman from 2015 mysteriously finds herself running a ski lodge in 2252, and through her, we discover a new world with many of the same basic human drama as our familiar world and time. The main draw of the show is the character interplay and relationships, with the setting discovery, and the slow reveal of how Tina managed to get into the future, serving as a return incentive. The pilot episode reveals only part of the mystery of how Tina arrived in the future. Further episodes develop the mystery slowly through flashbacks and investigations.

Setting – The Colorado Mountains – 2252 A.D. – Mostly within a ski lodge and its surroundings. Some episodes will have scenes in downtown Boulder.

The United States in 2252 is surprisingly familiar to the audience, visually. This is not a wicked, destroyed Dystopia, an alien-invaded warscape, nor a zombie-wrecked wilderness. For the most part, people are still people, and the world carries on with its own everyday. The society itself has moved on, of course, as it always does. Civil Rights debates have changed, but have not disappeared; political conflict between conservatives and progressives continues, but their arguments and positions have shifted to meet the new times, sometimes ironically or humorously. In fact, most of the social and political issues of 2252 will serve as allegories for discussion of the issues of our own time, just exaggerated, or at least progressed, into the future.

Persona – The main cast consists of four major characters plus guest and recurring characters as needed. The ski lodge clientele and staff offer lots of opportunities for celebrity guests and occasionals.

Tina VanWinkle (Protagonist and POV character) – educated, shy, easily scandalized

Tina takes ownership of and runs the ski lodge after finding that it belongs to her when she wakes up almost two and a half centuries into her future. Most of the other characters are her friends, employees, or the clientele at the lodge. Much of the conflict of the episodes step from Tina’s unfamiliarity or intolerance of some aspect of the future. Being from our own time, Tina offers us the best point of view into this world. A young College student from Boulder, Tina was considered a liberal progressive in her own time, but is often shocked and taken aback by revelations in her new home-time, and, despite her education, she frequently needs fundamental aspects of the world and times explained to her by the other characters. Often she resents or resists these explanations, often needing to “learn the hard way” that her friends are right. The pilot episode shows her arriving in what looks like a hospital room for an undisclosed surgery. She’s given a anesthesia which knocks her out, and when she awakes, it’s 2252, she’s in a hospital bed, unaged. no one seems to know how she got there. After some intense, scenes of Tina out of her element, she learns of her ski lodge (originally opened by her grand nephew), and she decides it would be a good place to escape to for a time.

Willam Ford (best friend, sounding board) – history buff, stoner, ‘old fashioned

Willam is the manager of the lodge, running its day-to-day operations, and has already been doing this job for some time when Tina arrives. Willam is not from 2015, but he wishes he was. He yearns to live in a “simpler time” of cars, air travel, cellular communications networks, and human manual labor. He doesn’t believe that the social and technological advances of his time are wrong, only that they are boring, and that to have lived in the early 21st century would have been ideal. He envys Tina for having gotten to live there, while she envys his ease with handling the future, while seeming so much like herself. They get along well, and frequently get into mishaps together. Much of the explanations about how this world is different from our own will come from Willam. His frequent pot use is a source of humor in the early episodes since Tina sees his open use of the drug as progressive, while other characters consider it an eccentricity, part of his obsession with the past.

Shae Mars (moral compass, love interest) – overtly pleasant, diplomatic, socially awkward

Shae works at the front desk of the lodge, serving as receptionist, clerk, and concierge. He always knows exactly what to say to lodge guests to appease them when ruffled, and is incredibly resourceful. However, one-on-one social interactions are strained and difficult for him. Shae is a Martian. His people are descended from Humans, but have been genetically engineered for planetary colonization. There are cosmetic differences (these can be decided by artists later), but the biggest difference is their sexual-fluidity. To better survive the possibility of massive population loss, Martians are engineered with a constantly fluctuating sex. They are not hermaphroditic, they are only one sex at a time, but they do change back and forth (roughly every six months to a year. On Mars, the colonists raise children communally, and do not take surnames, the few who have emigrated to Earth usually take up the last name “Mars” for Earth’s record-keeping purposes, though they rarely use the name. Shae’s sexual fluidity is not revealed to the audience or to Tina until mid-way through the first season, after she has been dating him for a time. Shae’s change is no surprise to the other characters, who take it, and the resulting pronoun changes in stride. Often when other characters get in trouble, it is Shae who they turn to, and who usually has an answer. Throughout the series, when complex social issues come up which Willam cannot explain to Tina, Shae fills in as guide.

Terrence Harper (comic relief) – oblivious, intelligent, flaky

Terrence keeps the lodge’s robots and other machines running. He is frequently seen engaging in diagnosis and repair work. His humor stems from the classic absent-minded intellectual role. He’s socially unreliable and quiet, but prone to bouts of passionate excitement, especially regarding technology. He spends much of his time nursing a crush on Tina. When a future technology needs explaining, and Willam can’t handle it, Terrence is called upon to explain.

The remaining cast of recurring characters can be filled out with lodge guests, mostly stereotypes, like a flirty snow bunny and a snobby socialite guy, etc.

Flash Fiction: The Shepherd

the shepherdA small group of well-dressed women came around the corner. They glanced at the sports pennant booth and then at the bike-parts stand without much interest. The sun was beginning to set behind the group, but Henri didn’t need to see them clearly to know the type. They were HGTV watchers, Pinterest users. They were here, escaped from their day jobs and their children, to find antiques which looked anything like the starting points of the bric-a-brac projects they spent time watching other people make for their over-full homes and their darling children’s bedrooms. One of the women had her iPhone in her hand, the one in front with stark black hair, a bright red peacoat, black tights, and Ugg boots, a look Henri admired, but would never be able to pull off, if only because of how much her failing grey hair would get stuck to that pea-coat; it would not take long for it too look dingy, matted, and swirled, like the suede cover on her favorite chair at home.

The iPhone was a good sign. Henri used to scoff when she saw young people walking around with their phones out, but these days it usually signalled that they were looking for something in particular, something in a photo on Facebook or Pinterest. Already today she’d sold a small folding room divider, an old broken chair, and a set of four glass doorknobs to women with their iPhones out. She didn’t use these social media services herself, but she felt like if she ever tried, she could slip into them like nature. She’s heard so much about Pinterest from women like this, she would be a native upon arrival.

Henri took a glance around her space to remind her what she had on offer today, then reached over a small tree of ancient necklaces to grab a small panflute. The toy instrument was tiny, fitting entirely inside her one hand. It was brass and steel, and carved with a small boy leading a group of four sheep across the band that joined the pipes. A small white tag hung from the flute. “$20” it read. She had found it in the bottom of a box of old toys from an estate auction six years ago. In that time, she’d gotten pretty good at playing it, and it served well to attract the attention of passers by.

She played a quick tune of her own invention, something quick and birdlike that she’d been perfecting for the last few months. She watched as her short song grabbed the attention of the small flock of women, Red Coat turned toward her, tossed her hair, and smiled. She took a few steps closer, and Henri could see that she was much younger than she looked from further away. A college freshmen, perhaps, looking to decorate her dorm.

She was probably just looking for a mason jar.

“That’s really pretty!” the girl said through a wide-mouthed smile rimmed with bright red lipstick that matched her coat perfectly. It was the lipstick which made her look older from a distance, but that unpracticed smile now made her look younger still, a small child, unaccustomed yet to the world in which smiles are rehearsed and manufactured things.

“Thank you, Sweetie,” Henri said, following her half of the script, flashing her rehearsed smile “Anything in particular you’re looking for today?”

“I want to make one of these,” the girl said, turning her iPhone screen toward Henri. A small, plastic Hello Kitty face on a string dangled in front of a picture from Pinterest. It was a Ball brand mason jar with a string of Christmas lights wadded up inside of it. It was all Henri could do to keep from sighing. She put the panflute back on the counter in front of her, and gestured to a back corner where she kept stacks of the jars. The pack on top of the stack was open, the frayed edges of the wrapping was a torn, cellophane flower.

“I don’t have any Christmas lights,” she told the girl, “but I’ve got those jars for two dollars apiece, or a twelve pack for eighteen dollars.”

A look of disappointment flashed over the girl’s face. Was the price higher than she was expecting? No, Henri thought, she was expecting the jars to be antiques. She led the small group into her stall, and looked around for things that a young lady might want in her dorm room. She watched the girl’s interest in each item, paced her as she talked and gestured, put herself into the girl’s young mind to see what she saw. By the time the girls left, Henri had sold Red three mason jars, a bundle of vinyl flowers, a small wooden folding table, and a metal coca-cola advertisement with a pin-up girl on it. One of the friends had been talked into a set of aluminum napkin rings with a faux-victorian pattern of handlebar moustaches and penny-farthing bicycles.

While she had been showing the girls around, and older man had entered the shop. Henri thought it was her husband for a moment, when she first saw his thick white hair and long black overcoat from behind while she was helping Red pull down an old rocking horse from a top shelf, but then he turned around, and she saw his pinched features. He smiled at her lopsidedly. He was a stranger, and the type to browse without buying. She expected him to disappear again before Red was finished, and put him out of her mind, but he was there in line behind the girls when she rang them out.

When he got to the counter, he winked as he placed two items on her counter, a Ziploc bag full of old coat buttons and the panflute. The panflute! He can’t buy that! It’s mine, she thought, I need it. She watched in fascinated horror as her small brown hands wrapped and bagged the items, working automatically, the hands of a long-time shopkeeper, but totally foreign to her. I love that flute, she thought, already missing it. “Twenty three dollars,” she failed to stop herself from saying. It came out as a croak, her smile lost. And then the cash was in her hand, and the man was walking away.

Henri wanted to shout. She wanted to stop him. She wanted him to bring her flute back, but all she could do was stare disbelievingly at the spot where it had lain on her counter for the last six years.

Concept: Escape from Spincity X

(Note: The work I started on was going to be a short choosable path adventure, but once I started actually plotting it out, it grew far too large for a FF piece, so I present here only the first passage. Perhaps I’ll complete the piece as a novella sometime.)

1

You awaken to a hazy view and a headache. Last you remember you were in your cabin on the HAS Tria. After a long day of negotiations, your employer, the Human Ambassador to The Garrison, was finally getting some sleep, and you were getting ready to do the same, now you’re here. Wherever this is…

Your body is sore, especially your neck. You try to move, but you are bound by your wrists, which lay numbly below you on the hard floor. The location is gloomy, but after a few moments, you make out the scene. You’re on the floor of the aisle of a jumper of some kind. There are rows of seats on either side, and light coming in from windows out of your view over the seats.

Slowly, you manage to roll, and get your knees under you, now kneeling there on the aisle runner, circulation begins to return to your arms. It nearly makes you cry out, as the pain, and need to stretch out your arms, overwhelms you, but you hear voices coming from outside the jumper, and force yourself to maintain silence. You strain, but cannot hear what they are saying.

Looking toward the front of the jumper, you can see that the cockpit door is open. It’s dark beyond the door, but you don’t think you see any movement there. Glancing back toward the rear of the jumper, you can see a small dufflebag sitting in the aisle, propped against a seat. Dark stains cover the bottom and sides

If you lift yourself up to peek over the seats, continue to passage 10

If you crawl toward the front of the vehicle, continue to passage 16

If you crawl toward the rear of the vehicle, continue to passage 21