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In hindsight, the solution was obvious.

Anyway, that's what I thought when I awoke, face and hands already sweaty, the dark and humid air beginning already to claw at my face.

There was no light. I didn't have one on me. Didn't think I'd need a phone, with no reception. No, that wasn't part of the plan. And I don't smoke.

So, unlike the movies where there is in-scene lighting when the hero is trying to claw his way out of the coffin, it was nothing. It was dark and moist and stiflingly, oppressively silent.

The plan had been easy:...

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It was the fall that surprised me most.

I had never intended to move to the Northeast. Strange set of circumstances. Long story. Really long. Maybe not too long to relate, but longer than I'd like it to have. I just sort of ended up there.

Anyway, I got there in early December. I thought, having come from California, that that was "winter".

That's not winter.

Winter is bleak. Winter is white death. Winter is hell -- not just for Chekhov, mind you. For Vermont, too.

The first week I was there, I was talking about how poorly-equipped Southern California...

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Daring to be noticed for the first time in her life, she pushed her chair back and stood up.

"Ladies? Gentlemen? Entities?" Helen paused. No response.

Helen glanced around. The large workroom -- some schizophrenic combination of retro and avant0-garde -- was loud, clicking and warbling and chatting in a very large number of tongues.

Helen cleared her throat. It should have been for effect, but it was because her throat had suddenly dried, as if she had swallowed the entirety of the Sahara back on Terra. "People! And non-people! Listen!"

To their credit, many did. Many didn't, but that...

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"No. Seriously. More natural. It won't kill you.

"What? The camera. The wait, though. The wait might kill me.

"You, sit down. No, please. *Please* sit down. No, not you. Because you're in white trousers, that's why!

"Look, I know this is new. This is new to me, too. But in the future? Oh, yes! In the future! This will be the thing. THE. THING.

"What? No. No, they won't need flash pans. I'm certain. Or these -- these tents. No, they'll be able to carry them around in their pockets. No, not like those pockets. No, sir, please, hands...

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"Hey! You! Jackass!"

Geoff was trying to make eye contact -- or, failing that, ear contact -- with the ferris wheel operator below. Geoff and Jo had been stuck at the top of the ride for more than five minutes now. And the effort might not have been so much in vain were they not surrounded by a cage.

No response. Of course.

"Will you knock it off?" asked Jo. "He'll get to it when he gets to it."

"It's just. Gah!" Geoff started rocking the ride. Back and forth, back and forth, the range of motion increasing each time....

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Dear friends:

I am standing in the field. The field where he died. The field where, for a time, I wished I had died. Sometimes still do.

This photo he took of the field was humbling. Ground-level. Weeds blowing. A branch sticking up. Forked. On that day he was forked. And I was blown. Blown flat.

Shit, guys, that sounds so dumb, doesn't it. I meant to write it on a postcard. I meant to get this photo printed -- Snapfish or something -- and have them sent to me glossy. And get one of those fine Sharpies and scribble...

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"Mister Cloone?" said the sergeant as he sat down. "You know why we're holding you, right?"

Cloone shrugged and leaned back. "Fascism? Something something smokes?"

Sergeant Miller took off his own glasses. "We're stopping you here at the Richford/Quebec crossing because you were smuggling Cuban cigars into the country. Why would you do that? You didn't even try to hide them."

"It's the Hemingway in me. Cuba. And 'fuck the system'."

"You think that smuggling cigars makes you Hemingway?" asked Miller.

"I think it's a good start," replied Cloone.

"We have the boycott in place for a very good reason....

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"If you weren't strumming that chord over and over, I might think you were asleep," said Howard.

"Yeah, you might be forgiven for thinking that," replied Memmy. "No, I just rest my head on the body of the guitar. Here. Like this." Memmy's head didn't move. It was already on the body of the guitar.

"Don't you guys play electic guitars," asked Howard.

Memmy didn't look up. "Not when we're depressed. Hey, hand me that bottle, would you?"

"Which bottle?" asked Howard.

"The one that's not empty," said Memmy. He still hadn't looked up.

Howard shook several in sequence. One...

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