Tag Archives: forty-minute story

Forty Minute Story “All a girl wants is a big rock”

I’m a nice guy if you get to know me.

I know I seem hard on the outside. Well, on the inside too actually. But I like people, really I do.

It’s true that I’ve spent a lot of years doing the lone wolf thing, on the road all by myself, never staying in one place too long. But I used to have friends. I know how to be social.

Granted, all me and my mates used to do was bang into each other, but what group of guys doesn’t have a little fun rough housin’. Sure bits of us were broken from time to time but that’s life, you get a few cuts and scrapes.

But now I’m gonna die and it’s all because of a girl.

A real clingy one too. She’s been pullin’ at me ever since she first lay eyes on me. Hell, maybe even before that. I was mindin’ my own business, visiting some of my cousins when I first lay eyes on her.

She was so … blue.

Not sad mind you. But more like blue and innocent and pure. Virginal even. Unspoiled.

You can see the appeal.

But she’s a trickster. I didn’t stand a chance with her. She’s had her eye on me, and she’s been pulling me closer ever since. Already the air between us is becoming warmer. It won’t be long before she pulls me to her in one first, last, fatal embrace.

And all with him watching too.

See, she’s not as innocent as she looks. She’s brought men to her before. One in particular had such an impact on her he took a piece of her with him, and he’s been hangin’ around ever since.

Still, he did try to warn me. Not that there’s anything I could have done. And he isn’t gonna stop me, for fear that she’ll change her mind, and want him for another tumble.

That’s all women seem to want men for anyway, a little hay-howdy. Maybe kill a few spiders, or in this case lizards or giant birds or whatever the hell they are.

Wham bam and then extinction.

Earth’s a heartless bitch.


PS. Brian, it’s been a long time coming, but I finally got this one together. Hope you enjoyed!

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Filed under Short Stories, Writing

Forty-Minute Story “Gray”

This is a sequel of sorts to a scene I wrote about eight months ago, itself a tangential piece relative to one of my works in progress. Before you read this scene, you may want to go back and read “Dust“. Enjoy!


The orange sphere arced through the air on the way to its target. Cora stood watching the ball, her “fingers” still out-stretched hoping to hear the satisfying flick of “nothing but net.” All her ears were met with, however, was the capricious clank of backboard, and rubber against the gym floor.

“Pretty close from half court,” a familiar voice shouted.

The last few months had brought a degree of informality between Cora and her commanding officer. Instead of snapping into a salute, Cora ran forward to pick up the errant ball and position herself back at the center line.

“I’d like to see you do better.” Cora pulled the ball up to her chest, her elbows flying out to chest pass the ball, but dropping at the last second with a little laughter, and a softer toss.

“A throw like that and you’d put me down in rehab with you,” He joked, passing the ball casually from hand to hand.

“No thanks,” Cora said, using her flesh and blood arm to wipe the sweat from her forehead. “Been seeing too much of you as it is.”

“I notice the arm’s sill gray.”

“Yeah, what of it?”

“You know the nanites can be rearranged to realistically mimic skin. You’ve got yours looking like a prosthetic arm from twenty years ago.”

“Mimic skin, huh? Like this?” Cora flicked her wrist and within in an instant she had a flesh and blood hand, attached to a dull gray robotic arm. She flayed her fingers to examine them.

“I could never get my nails looking this nice, even with a dozen manicures. See?”

She held up her other arm for comparison.

Her commander took her hand. It was cool to the touch, but otherwise felt perfectly normal. Her fingernails scratched his hand as she pulled back suddenly, another flick restoring the cold gray appearance.

“I keep it this way because I don’t want to stand out from the other soldiers. It’s bad enough I’m one of the only ones with a private room, I don’t need anyone else prying about the special hardware you’ve grafted onto me.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m no fool. This wasn’t just a new experimental procedure, the next generation in prosthetics or whatever line you sold me. You built me for a purpose, and I think it’s about time you told me.”

She swiped for the ball with the new arm and flung it toward the basket without looking. The ball was palmed in her iron grip as her arm stretched and arced, her eyes never breaking contact with her commander. When her hand was just above the basket she just dropped the ball, and was rewarded with the swish she’d been looking for.

“That’s why I’m here, Cora. I think it’s time for your first assignment.”


Filed under Short Stories, Uncategorized, Writing

Forty Minute Story (“Future Self”)

“John, see that bloke across the street?”


“The one in the white shirt buying coffee.”

“I think you’ll have to be more specific.”

“He’s right at the front of the line!”

“What kind of coffee is he drinking?”

“How should I bloody know?! He’s across the street! You see him?”

“Of course, Dave. We’ve been talking about him for the last 30 seconds. What about him?”

“That’s my new boss, Brian.”

“I didn’t know video store clerks had bosses, Dave.”

“What? Of course they do, and I haven’t worked at the rental shop for at least three months.”

“Oh smart move. I don’t know who rents movies anymore. Where d’you work now?”

“Bookstore. Anyway, Brian’s me future self.”

“I don’t know if owner of a bookshop is the best life goal, Dave.”

“No, I don’t look up to him, I mean he’s me, from the future.”

“But he’s at least two inches taller than you.”

“A man can still grow after his twenties right?”

“I suppose so. How d’you know he’s you? Has he said anything?”

“No. It’s just a sense I have. I’ve thought it since the moment I saw him.”

“Even though he doesn’t look a thing like you.”

“They have plastic surgery! Maybe I’ve been sent back for some kind of mission, to change a critical point in my life.”

“Like preventing yourself from working at a bookshop?”

“No, I’m serious. Maybe it’s a dangerous relationship, some woman takes me for half me money.”

“You haven’t had a date in six months.”

“Well time travel isn’t the most reliable is it? Maybe he got here earlier than he planned and is waiting for the time to be right. Or he’s building up trust with his younger self so that I’ll believe him when he tells me what he’s come here to do.”

“That does sound like something you’d do.”

“Look I know it sounds like I’ve been watching too much sci-fi, but it’s a sense I can’t shake.”

“Oh, I know people are here from the future. I just can’t imagine what they’d need to do with you.”


“Well it’s obvious isn’t it? Take Conan O’Brien, his future self’s been walking around for years.”

“Really? Who?”

“Donald Trump, isn’t it obvious? Why do you think they used to work at the same network?”


“Think about it. Conan’s never really gotten over the whole Tonight Show thing. Sure he seems cool about it now but add another ten years and he’ll become a bitter malicious old sod. What better way to take revenge than to amass a huge fortune, and tell a bunch of celebrities they’re fired.”

“But Trump’s so much shorter than Conan?”

“Well that doesn’t matter does it? Your future self is taller. Maybe height can be whatever you choose in the future.”

“What about the hair?”

“Well if I’m not mistaken your Brian’s wearing a rug. Maybe jumping back in time causes you to lose your hair.”

“You’ve gone daft man.”

“No, I’m serious. Here’s another one. Daniel Radcliffe, y’know Harry Potter?”

“I believe I’ve heard of him.”

“Well he’s obviously John Oliver.”


“The summer host of The Daily Show.”

“I’d thought Jon Stewart was looking better these days.”


Filed under Short Stories, Writing

Forty-Minute Story “Babel”

Blogger’s Note: The blog will be on hiatus next week, but will return April 29th.


“So, when are we gonna start this thing or what?”

It was crowded in Brian’s dorm room. About six or seven of his fellow computer science majors and a few other casual observers had been coaxed into the room with free beer and the promise of seeing “something cool”.

“Yeah, us actual computer science engineering majors have some physics tests to fail.” Brian was a computer information science major, not an engineer like the rest of them, a fact the engineers tended to remind him of frequently. Brian let it slide as he always did, knowing that the rest of them wished they had chosen the path without all the ridiculous courses that were kicking their butt.

“I think we can begin,” Brian said, taking a sip of his own beer. “The next 10 minutes took months to generate and actually bricked the desktop you see behind you.”

Everyone took a curious swivel, then turned back to Brian.

“Fortunately the hard drive wasn’t cooked or else we’d be waiting til next semester. What you’re about to see is what I believe to be the deepest dive into the Mandelbrot set ever achieved. If we consider the classic Mandelbrot “bug” we all know and love to be roughly the size of the universe, then we will be diving deeper and smaller than the quantum particles that make up matter. We will be traveling to a place deeper than our physical laws, ladies and gentlemen.”

“I hope you set this thing to some good music,” Brent, a bearded giant already on his second beer, piped in.

Indeed Brian was grateful to Sound Tribe Sector 9 and their more than 10 minute cuts which had relieved him of having to try to cut several things together.

“Let’s just watch, shall we?”

The view started with the Mandelbrot zoomed all the way out, awash in a sea of blue and purple, with fiery oranges, yellows and reds right at the border.

“We’ll be diving today into the seahorse valley, located here along the neck,” Brian said as the animation started its dive.

“I feel like this should start with ‘billions and billions of years ago’,” Brent added, chuckling loudly.

Someone in the back shushed him. The screen was filled with hundreds of tiny nodules lining the longer curved surface of the ‘neck’ of the Mandelbrot, at the end of each were several spiral bursts, and it was into one of these that the animation dived next.

“How’d you figure out where to keep going without manually adjusting,” Carol, a short girl with red hair and a high voice asked.

“The first three minutes or so is manual but the program is learning from the structures around it to get some idea of what to expect if it dives into a similar structure. As you can see, though, the Mandelbrot is unpredictable and can change radically.”

For the last few minutes they had been going from spirals, to starfish and back to spirals, all the while seeing echoes of the Mandelbrot scattered throughout the arms and swirls. Each of these Mandelbrots in turn contained a universe as complex as the one into which they were diving. It was almost like looking at the multiverse.

But now the screen resembled something out of 2001. Long bursts of color on all sides gave the effect that they were going through a tunnel, even as they were getting smaller and smaller. After about of minute of this they emerged and again their field of view widened into an interweaving spiral structure. The colors Brian had chosen gave the effect of electricity or lightning sparking from every direction as they kept going down.

At about nine minutes in the screen began to shake. The image began contracting and stretching, first slowly, then with almost distracting speed.

“What’s going on with the picture?” asked Brent.

Brian sighed, “This is where I’m reaching the limits of the floating point math generator I was using. It’s almost like the pressure we’d get from a deep sea dive, eh? We’re about to go to static in just another … ”

The screen had been violently shaking, and then it just stopped. The surrounding colors were cool and serene, and at their center…

Static colored lines, then black. The click of a hard power off indicated the abrupt shutoff of Brian’s computer. Brian resisted the instinct to power it immediately back on, but counted to ten as quickly as he could then slammed the contact down. The BIOS came up as normal, but after that all he could see was a blinking cursor.

Fortunately they were in a room full of engineers.

Within minutes the case was open and the hard drive connected to Carol’s laptop, with Brent on the ground taking a look inside the case.

“Your registry’s been erased, as well as the boot sector. Something in those last few images must have killed the system. Did you play this all the way through before showing it to us?”

“No,” Brian said, “You think that’s why the other computer kicked out as well?”

Brent nodded, “The rest of the hardware looks fine, heck there’s not even any dust build up. Carol, is there a way you can safely isolate those last few frames? Did anyone else see something weird right before it gorched?”

There were a few murmured nods, and an intense look from Carol as she scanned the drive. “There looks like something’s been hidden using a steganography algorithm.”

“You mean code hidden inside the picture?” Brian asked.

“That’s what it looks like. How well plotted is the Mandelbrot anyway?”

“It’s infinite. It’s like pi, it can never be precisely calculated and it’s infinitely complex. But a section that acts like code?”

“Hey you’re the one who’s diving deeper than anyone did before,” Carol said, “I should be able to strip out the malicious code without damaging the picture too much. Give me a minute.”

The only sounds were the whir of laptop fans, and a few more nervous sips of beer. Another engineer in the crowd, Chandra, had pulled out his laptop and was scanning the hard drive from the first computer, confirming that its registry had been wiped as well. Unlike, Carol, however he broke the connection as soon as he finished his initial scan. Re-installing an OS, and fixing a corrupted BIOS were not his idea of fun.

“Okay, I think I’ve got it, but if this bricks my machine you owe me a six pack of something better than Natty Light.”

Everyone crowded around Carol’s 13 inch screen to see…

“Is that Kevin Sorbo?” Carol asked.

Brent laughed, “Hercules, friggin Hercules is at the bottom of the Mandelbrot set. We gonna see Xena next?”

Whatever momentary awe had gripped the group had surrendered their attention, and they began to disperse back to their various dorm rooms. Even Brent left, grabbing another beer on his way out. All that was left was Carol and Brian.

“How much would the steganography have altered the image?” Brian asked tentatively.

“Difficult to say,” Carol shrugged. “It looks like it accounted for 20% of the total image size, so quite a lot.”

“So we probably didn’t see Hercules.”

Carol shook her head, “I don’t know, what did you think you saw?”

Brian took a long swig of his beer, “I don’t want to say it out loud.” He reached over to her laptop and hit the delete key. “I might end up speaking another language.”


Filed under Short Stories