Monthly Archives: July 2013

No. 429 – No. 417 Continues

The story so far…
http://aroundgray.com/?p=450
http://aroundgray.com/?p=452
http://aroundgray.com/?p=454
http://aroundgray.com/?p=465

“That’s her,” said Katy, identifying her driver from a spread of photos that the chief of security had showed her.

“Marilyn Faber,” said the chief. “That’s not her real name, obviously. She’s come up before in our investigations. She’s very good at what she does.”

“I’m still sorry about the delivery,” Katy apologized. “I hope we can get our information back.”

“Don’t feel badly,” said Legacy Corps’ CEO, from the other side of the room. “It could have happened to anybody.”

He got up from his chair and walked over to Katy, extended a hand and helped her up. “Now, why don’t you go to the lounge on the fourteenth floor and have a cup of coffee? Somebody will be down shortly to take you to your hotel and make sure you’re set up to head home tomorrow.”

Katy agreed and was ushered out of the room.

 

The CEO and the security man waited until she was gone to continue their conversation.

“I think this sucker from Wichita might be working with Faber,” said the CEO.

“You could be right,” said the security man. “I can have Pierson go to her room tonight and rough her up a little. See if her story changes.”

“Let’s not put Pierson on it, just yet. That could be a bit drastic. But make sure she doesn’t catch that plane. Keep her in town for a few days until we’re sure.” He began to leave the room and was almost out until he turned back to ask one more question. “Just how exposed are we if the information on those papers gets into the wrong hands?”

The security man looked up from his notes. “It can’t get out. If it leaks, there’s no way we can complete our preparations in time.”

The CEO shook his head and exhaled loudly. “We can’t have that. I’ve changed my mind. If we don’t have a strong lead on Faber by tomorrow morning, send Pierson to the girl.”

 

To be continued…

No. 427 – No. 426 Part 2

Kyle remembered as soon as he left the shop that he should have been more specific about the precise variation of the green version that he wanted. He’d prefer the “Lights and Sounds Action!” to the “Kung-Fu Grip”. He turned around to re-enter to store to let Martin know.

Martin wasn’t at the front desk, and the room was empty. Kyle walked to the back to knock on the door to what he assumed was the office.

“Martin?” he called quietly.

There was no reply.

Kyle pushed the door a little, to see if there was any sign of his dealer. “Martin, are you there?” he called again, tentatively.

He was met with silence a second time.

Just before the door closed, though, he saw something strange.

There, in a neat pile, was a knee-high stack of the rare item that he’d just purchased.

Curiosity got the better of him, and he went through the door.

There was a loud sort of humming noise that filled the back room. Kyle didn’t know what it was, and was shocked to discover a strange, flashing circle, and not the shelves full of backstock that he imagined.

Almost straight away, Martin emerged from the circle with an armful of boxed toys.

Kyle and Martin’s eyes locked.

Kyle was surprised.

Martin was sheepish.

“Um. Is that a time machine?” asked Kyle, speaking first after piecing the evidence together.

“Yes,” Martin replied, caught in the act.

“Are you using a time machine to collect exclusive toys from the past to re-sell to collectors?” Kyle probed.

“Yes,” Martin confirmed.

There was an awkward silence.

“Did you realize that’s probably the worst use of a time machine, ever?” Kyle observed.

No. 426

Martin emerged from the back room of his thrift shop with arms full of “new” merchandise for the shelves.

Kyle, a regular customer, saw the fresh stock and immediately began to paw through it. “You always have the best stuff in here,” he told Martin. “And it’s always in such good condition. You must have some good connections.”

Martin shrugged. “I pick it up here and there.”

“Like, look at this one,” Kyle exclaimed. “I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid! You can’t find them anywhere these days! And it’s mint! How much do you want for it?”

Martin thought for a moment. “Four hundred dollars,” he suggested, significantly undercutting the current market price of the artefact.

“I’ll take it!” said Kyle, without hesitating. “Is there any way you could get another one in here? Or the green version? I’d love to have a set.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” said Martin. “No promises, though.”

“Oh, I understand,” said Kyle. “For sure.”

They completed their transaction, and Kyle went on his way.

Martin looked to make sure there was nobody else in the store, then slipped through a door marked “Employees Only”.

The room was mostly empty, containing just eight metal poles, arranged in a circular pattern, and a large switch mounted on the wall with a dial beside it.

Martin fiddled with the dial and then flipped the switch. Slowly, tiny lightning bolts began to flash between the poles. They gradually increased in intensity until they were whipping around the circle in a continuous band of energy. Martin checked his watch, murmured to himself his memorized shopping list, and then stepped into the storm.

In a flash, he was sent back to 1993.

 

No. 425

Anne believed that something lived under her porch. In reality, it was just a loose board.

The real danger lurked above.

 

Grimroth was fairly weak, as monsters go. He could still tear a human limb-from-limb, but he couldn’t swallow one whole.

He’d made a nest in Anne’s house, mostly because there wasn’t an abundance of clutter in the attic. Probably soon, in the next day or two, he would feel comfortable enough to slink down the ladder into the home and take a bite of her.

That was the plan, anyway, until the night he spent watching Anne through a narrow gap in the ceiling.

She was cute, in a human sort of way.

As Grimroth saw her go about her business, she began to seem less like a snack, and more like somebody he’d like to get to know better.

Even when his tummy got rumbly, Grimroth resisted the urge to murder. He thought that maybe he could make a friend, even though he didn’t know what a friend was.

 

He ignored his instincts for almost a week.  It was a struggle against his very nature.

Finally, he couldn’t hold out any longer.

 

At 7:04 pm, as she watched her favorite show, he crept up behind her and he devoured her.

He felt sort of bad about it, after, though.

No. 424

Lex Orbis burst down through the roof and punched the guy right in the mouth.

He stepped over his fallen foe, and ripped up a trap door. Descending into the secret tunnel, he paused only to confirm the direction on his wrist-mounted tracker-display.

“I know you came this way, Dr. Fire, and I’m going to find you,” he promised through gritted teeth.

 

Ernest Jackson Fire watched the scene on a monitor in his lair. Orbis was miles away from his current location, and headed straight for the carefully-planned trap. It was beautiful.

It was a shame about the henchman that got punched, though. But if he’d been following orders, he would have been waiting outside the building when Orbis arrived.

No. 423

I don’t know the name of the man who lives two doors down from me.

Because I don’t know, when I think about him, I call him “Bob”, as a placeholder.

As in, “I wonder why Bob is home so late?” or, “I sure hope Bob doesn’t play that album on repeat for three days, like he did, last time” or “Bob’s cooking something that smells delicious, and now I’ve realized that there’s no food in the house and I have to go to the store”.

In case you’re wondering why I’m not telling you about my immediate neighbors, it’s because Dale and Shirley are a wonderful couple who often travel, and are never around.

Bob is the interesting one.

To be honest, I’ve never gotten a good look at him. I’m not going to say that I haven’t camped out, just inside my door, waiting for a chance to nonchalantly wander into the hallway at the same time that he does. Or that I’ve waited with the lights off and the curtains pulled back a touch to see if I can see him walking in from his car. Because I have done those things. It’s just that something always happens. The phone rings, or my cat does something cute, or Rickey from the east wing is creeping around.

Like we don’t all know that he’s seeing Judy in 502.

He tried to talk to me once in the elevator. It was gross.

No, Bob goes about his business, and I go about mine, mainly.

Maybe one day I’ll actually introduce myself. That would be the neighborly thing to do. Bake some cookies and take them on over. I’ve thought about it. Bob seems like somebody who would like chocolate chips. “Sara,” he’d say. “I like chocolate chips.”

It would be weird, though. It’s been a year. Too long to admit that I don’t know his name.

You know how that goes?

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.

No. 422

Pete Troutlicky was born with fins for hands, and had shiny scales all over his body. He was unpopular at school, and not particularly good at anything.

He was chosen last for baseball, placed last at his piano recital, and his mark for penmanship was “poor”.

When his school announced that there would be a swim meet in the spring, Pete was excited. Perhaps finally this would be something he would succeed at. He began training immediately, and worked hard all through the winter.

On the day of the meet, Pete was as ready as he would ever be. He waited patiently for his race, ignoring the meaner children, who taunted him. “Fish boy”, they said. “Scaly loser”, they called him.

He took his place on the starting platform, and when the gun sounded, he leapt into the water. He swam as fast as he could across the pool.

When he reached the other side, he popped his head above the surface and looked around.

All the other racers had finished, already. Pete was last.

He crawled out of the water and wrapped himself in his towel. He slunk to the back of the bleachers and sat alone.

A teacher saw, and came closer to speak with him.

“I tried my hardest,” Pete told the teacher.

The teacher nodded. “You did, Pete. But sometimes life just isn’t fair.”

No. 421 – No. 417 Continues

No. 417 – Part 1: http://aroundgray.com/?p=450
No. 417 – Part 2: http://aroundgray.com/?p=452
No. 417 – Part 3: http://aroundgray.com/?p=454

 

The driver smiled as she pulled into the underground parking. She stopped next to the elevators and immediately checked the back seat to confirm her success.

 

Before leaving the car, the mark, Katy, had neatly smoothed and folded the crumpled papers that she had believed were useless packing material.

It had been the driver’s plan all along.

The subtle heist had not been easy to pull off. The driver had waited at the airport every day for the past seven days, watching couriers arrive with the telltale bags. They were transferring information back to the Seattle office in preparation for something. The driver did not know what, yet.

Once she’d found the pattern of deliveries, she arranged a delay for the usual local contact. Then she’d needed to pique the curiosity of the passenger.

 

The driver touched the papers. A shiver ran down her spine. She’d be rewarded generously for her troubles.

Appearing normal, the newspapers were, in fact, the basis of a coded message. With the proper key, random letters would fall into place and reveal Legacy Corps’ highly-confidential research data.

The driver knew her masters were on the verge of cracking that key.

Once they did, the driver would be able to use the secrets to strike at the heart of the beast.

 

To be continued…