Category Archives: Guest Writer

Around Gray Publishes Presents – Lisa Dugaro – The Identical Children

Once upon a time, the True King and Queen of our Land suffered from infertility, as did the king and queen of our neighboring land. The neighbor’s State Witch had a spell to relieve them of their childlessness, but it would require the cooperation of all four royals. When the spell was fully realized, both Queens gave birth at the same time on the same day to two sets of identical twins each. Each queen had two boys and two girls, and all four boys were identical and all four girls were identical.

Late on the night of the children’s thirteenth birthday, the neighboring king paid a secret visit to our Queen in her rooms. He admitted that he hadn’t believed that the plan would work, but now that it had, there was no need for eight royals where there had been only four before—and there would be no need for two kingdoms now that he had enough progeny to rule the entire land. He revealed that at that very moment our Queen’s children were being killed in the next room.

He vanished. Despite our Queen’s agonizing wailing and screaming, no one heeded her cries to check on the children. She was assured that they were sleeping peacefully in the rooms down the hall. The next day there was no sign of the children or their bodies, just fine silt on the floor of the nursery and a few small pieces of white rock. No DNA samples had yet been taken of the children, and there was nothing left to compare it to anyway. Likewise, there were no other clues leading to the perpetrator of the children’s disappearance. Hearing these things, our Queen’s heart and mind broke.

In time, the neighbor’s children grew up and, after a series of battles against our King’s army, the neighbor-king’s identical boys inherited and shared the rule of the land. Our True King and Queen were deposed and dispatched, our Queen never having regained her sanity.

Her True Highness has never stopped looking for her children, and searches for them to this day, letting nothing, including death, including the passage of hundreds of years, stop her.

Around Gray Publishes Presents – Lisa Dugaro – Holley Rosenberg

Holley Rosenberg sighed as she dropped down on the window-seat. The rain was lashing down and the trees in the yard had already dropped three or four large branches. No, there wouldn’t be any powder-puff football game that night.

Growing up as an only child to a single dad hadn’t been so bad, except that her father had wanted a son. He was still kind to Holley, but she could see in his eyes the mist of what-could-have-been whenever she made him come to one of her dance recitals, horse shows, or gymnastics meets. He was proud of her, she was sure, but he would have been happier with a son.

In her final year of high school, she had suddenly dropped out of all her after-school clubs and joined all new ones. Now she was in woodworking classes, automotive clubs, and powder-puff football.

She’d signed up for the powder-puff on a whim. She couldn’t have played on the boys’ football team, and had considered playing girls’ basketball instead. Then, on the day the school held a “club info” session at lunch, she found out that some of the girls in the school were trying to put together a girls’ football team, with all the same rules as the boys’ football, but without tackling. Before the end of that very lunch hour, she was on the team.

In the first few days of school, she’d been scared of all the guys in the woods and metalwork classes. They were bigger, louder, and knew so much about how real things worked. She’d been intimidated, but she remembered how she’d felt as a novice dancer, and gymnast, and rider. She remembered that there was a learning curve and she strove to do her best. By the time the powder-puff football practices began in October, she was already louder, and more handy around the house.

Already feeling more confident, Holley had started the power-puff football team as a leader and dove into the practices, theoretical study, and even the fundraising with gusto. But what she was best at was playing the game on the field itself. Over the month of practice and the first few games in November, she’d both excelled and improved. She’d even scored the winning touchdown in the game last week.

Her dad had been behind her every step of the way. He didn’t understand why she had changed so suddenly, but he was happy to see her enjoying whatever it was she was doing. He’d been her best customer for the chocolate bar sales (fundraising for the team t-shirts) and managed to bring at least 20 of his friends’ cars, one by one, to the fundraiser car wash. Son or not, he was Holley’s biggest fan.

This week, though, was scheduled to be the last game. Holley had agonized over the end of the short powder-puff season as it grew near, and then again when the weather reports started coming in. Rain, they said at first, then a windstorm. Now there was a full-scale hurricane beating down on Holley’s hometown, drowning out the field and cancelling the game.

Holley watched a few minutes longer while the rain poured down. She pulled herself away from the window and went downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water. She’d texted her father already to let him know the bad news. He sent a message back asking if strawberry ice-cream would cheer her up. Of course it would, she responded. Doesn’t it always?

When her father came home about 20 minutes later, she didn’t come down to get the ice-cream. Thinking that was rather strange, Holley’s father went looking for her throughout the house. When he checked the window-seat in her room, he was horrified to see a branch flung through the window and the carpet already soaking wet from the rain. But Holley was not inside her room or anywhere outside the house. The half-filled water glass on the kitchen counter was the only evidence she’d been home at all.

Holley Rosenberg was 17 years old when she went missing on December 21, 2005. Since then, her father has not stopped looking for her. She has naturally blonde hair and blue eyes, and is at least 5-foot-7-inches tall. The clothes she was wearing last were dark blue jeans and a red hoodie. If you have any information on Holley’s current whereabouts, or any past sightings, please call the number below right away.

Around Gray Publishes Presents – Lisa Dugaro – The Tragical History of Charlie Porter

Elevators don’t have to simply go up and down.
It was Charlie Porter’s dream to liberate the elevator from the meaninglessness of simple up and down movement. He’d just been fired from his elevator-repair job when he came up with the plan. Perhaps he’d felt a kinship with the machine’s scripted responses and powerlessness of direction, or maybe he was just cracking up. That night, he spent a good chunk of his savings on a liquidated antique lift.
A year later, Porter was living on ramen and A & W ketchup packets, but he’d managed to establish a track for his lift that allowed it to move diagonally and right and left as well as up and down.
In another six months, homeless and scrounging for paper to further his plans, he’d done away with the track. The antique lift was long gone, replaced by a theoretical lift which existed only on used napkins and discarded business cards. Of course he was collecting other things, too. A board here, some electrical circuitry there. Porter was building a new elevator from scratch.
In the end, it wasn’t much to look at. The cage was completed with duct tape spun around a tarp, several feel of mis-matched vinyl fencing, and an assortment of beams and bars. The floor was a mosaic of carpet samples and there was no roof. But porter knew his invention would work because of his “secret weapon”–the one item he’d actually stolen.
Knowing he needed an electrical board to program the lift, Charlie Porter did something he’d never thought he’d do: he broke into City University and stole one. Or, at least, the nearest approximation. It was perfect–the panel already had readouts and tuning switches designated “Location” and “Time”.
It was New Year’s Eve for everyone else when Porter decided to take his maiden voyage. He was particularly oblivious to the goings-on around him as he was making the final adjustments to his machine. Even when well-meaning passers-by dropped change into his tool box, he was more annoyed than grateful.
Finally the street quieted down and Charlie Porter was alone with his obsession. He calibrated the elevator to move both up and left, intending to land atop the building on one side of his alley. His directions to the machine were precise: the panel required latitude and longitude as well as planet and solar system information. Chalking it up to interference from whatever the university students had planned it for, Porter dutifully entered all the specifics. The “Time” setting, though, he left on the default 0.0.
Charlie Porter entered his lift and pressed his jury-rigged “Close Door” button. Then he and his machine disappeared.
Thirteen and a half billion years ago, the big bang occurred. If anyone had actually been there, though, they would have described it as “a big bang and also a kinda human scream.”

Around Gray Publishes Presents – Sammy Vickstein

“Jane, I need the ring back.” 
Jane’s imagination raced to make sense of Gerald‘s words.  She ran her thumb over the ring in question, she had not yet gotten used to the  token of their only now two day long engagement.
“Oh, no, it’s not like… let me explain,” Gerald said, moving over to the couch where Jane sat.
She made room for him, decided to hear him out.  She owed him, no, she owed herself that much.

Gerald began:
Apparently Mrs. Schwarz, the lady who sold Gerald the ring, had made some sorta  mistake.  The ring Jane now wore should not have been sold, not to Gerald at least.  Something about magic powers.  The Germans wanted it, the Russians wanted it, the Jewish rapper Dr. Ira wanted it, a guy named Hal Jordan wanted it.  Mrs. Schwarz had called Gerald earlier that day and tried to explain, realized it all sounded ridiculous and asked Gerald to stop by the jewelry store with the ring and she would try to explain in person. 

Jane was pissed, wished Gerald respected her enough to be honest about whatever it was that was going on.  She was just about to tell him so too- when a beam of white light shot out of the ring and went through their front window before slicing in half a German thug who had been sneaking up their lawn.