Category Archives: Creative writings (prose)

My prose.

Serial Saturday: Stolen Man, Episode 1-4

The Beginning, Episode 1-4

Six is sitting at his desk.  You remind yourself that his name is Dr. Sexton, not six, but he’s got the same self-satisfied smile, the same smug arrogance that is all you can remember about him outside of the dream…and you hate him.

You are standing in front of the couch across from him.  You tried sitting, but it felt wrong and you immediately stood up.  He seems content to sit and chat while you stand, and that works for you.

Oddly he didn’t react much when you first came in.  He simply nodded and greeted you.  The conversation so far had been mundane.  It all seemed so normal it frightened you.

“So, where’s Helen now?”  Six was saying.  Dr. Sexton was saying.

“I don’t know.  Sh went home…to her house…I guess.”

“She didn’t want to be here?  With her husband?”

“I’m not…”  You stop yourself.  You promised to try.  “I didn’t want her here.”

“Really?  Why not?”

“I don’t know what her part in this is.”   You can feel the  “Yang” in your pocket.  Or is it the “Yin?”

You continue, “I don’t know if I can trust her or not, but I think she believes I’m her husband.  I don’t want to hurt her.”

“Because of your delusion?”

“Because of the truth!”

“Troy, you told me she explained.  The diamond room, the Yin-Yang, it’s all part of the life you don’t want to remember, but it is your life.”

“I want to see hall 76.”


“76.  That’s where the real diamond room is.  That’s where the machine is.  If it’s all a delusion, then show me hall 76.  Show me that it’s normal.”

“I’d love to Troy, but there is no hall 76.  More likely 76 also bears some relationship to the night of the break, just like the Diamond room and the Yin-Yang symbol.”

“It’s a nice try, Doctor.”  You are trying to inject as much sarcasm into the word as you can, but he doesn’t react.  “But I remember.  And that’s why I’m really here isn’t it?  Not to help me remember but to help me forget.  Forget you, and that other guy, the one I keep seeing.”

“You keep seeing someone Troy?  Tell me about it, about him?”

“I don’t keep ‘seeing’ him.”

“So, you’re worried about someone you’re not seeing?”

“Words.  Don’t play words with me, Doctor.”  There is a distinct sound of menace in your voice you don’t like, but unfortunately recognize.

“No, of course not.  Not with you.  Words are your specialty.”  What the heck does that mean?  Is he mocking you?  He’s smiling, but there’s no warmth in it.  At least not to you.

He turns serious, “Listen Troy.  No one made you forget. You wanted to forget.”

“I want to remember!”

“No, you don’t.  I helped you remember before.  Now you want to forget again, so I’m the enemy.  My therapy brought you healing and now you’ve twisted it so it appears to you to be the cause of your pain…and in a way it was.  What you wanted to forget, what you’ve forgotten again, was more painful than you are willing to deal with.”

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, then let me look around.”

“Of course.  I’ll take you on a tour myself.  You’ll see that hall 76 does not exist.  And perhaps it will jog some real memories.  After all, this was your home for almost a month.”

“You’re serious?  You’ll let me see everything?”

“Of course, Troy.  I’ve nothing to hide.  We won’t go in actual patients’ rooms, but you’ll be able to see that none of the halls are labeled with a 76.”

You hadn’t expected this.  Once again you are sounding crazy to yourself while others are sounding reasonable.

Dr.  Sexton stand up and walks around the desk, “Each hallway is labeled for the floor it’s on–Level 1 through level 9.  Come on, let’s look around.”

You turn and walk toward the door.  You are surprised to find it unlocked.  You turn back to look at Dr. Sexton.  He’s picking up your coat which you left on the sofa and he chuckles,

“Troy, no one is trying to lock you in.  It’s all quite voluntary.  Look around.  If you have any doubts, you can go.  On the other hand, if there is a slightest chance that I am telling the truth, you may decide to stay.   If you do stay, I can help you remember all of it.  Helen, your work, all the important things you’ve forgotten.”

Important.  There was something important.

Ring, ring.

Something important you have to tell someone.

Ring, ring.

Dr. Sexton hands you your coat and turns to answer the phone on his desk.

“I’ll meet you in the hallway, Troy.  I have to get this.”

You are still trying to remember something important as you step into the hallway and only half paying attention which is why your coat catches on the door and prevents it from closing entirely and that is likely the only reason you hear as Dr. Sexton answers the phone,

“This is Six.”


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Filed under Serial Saturday, The Stolen Man

Serial Saturday: The Stolen Man. Episode 1-3

And so it continues. Poor Troy (or is it Troy?)

Miss an earlier episode? (Episode 1-1. Episode 1-2.)

The Beginning: episode 1-3.

You enjoyed the caramel macchiato more than you would have expected given the circumstances. When you entered the Starbucks, breathless and confused, you weren’t sure why you were there or whether you were going to get anything to drink, but as soon as the barista asked, the answer had come immediately without thought. Drinking it had been almost like remembering, almost but not quite. It felt right, you liked it. Whoever you were, you liked it.

Tap, tap.

You had ordered a bran muffin too, which also felt right to order, but not to eat, and it sits untouched next to the half empty cup.

Tap, tap.

Now, though your drink is cold and you have lost any interest in drinking the rest. You have no idea what’s  next. Back to Sunnyvale?

Tap, tap.

You frown at the older gentlemen at a table to your right. He’s been reading the newspaper and tapping that stupid coin since the moment you came in. Except it isn’t a coin. You  spent a few minutes when you first sat, trying to determine by sound what kind of coin it was and  decided that it was no coin you’d ever heard before. It only mildly surprised you that you were so conversant with coin sounds. After all, if you were a banker, you probably heard those sounds every day.

Tap, tap.

More surprising was whatever strange maneuver you’d used to get you away from those guys at Sunnyvale. and  how easily you’d been taken in by Helen, if that was even her name.

Tap, clink, roll.

And there she is: Helen, walking in the door right now. You jump up from your table, but as you move towards the door, Helen blocks your way. You easily sidestep her and she doesn’t resist, but she does say,

“Your coat.”

Looking back, you see that you left your jacket draped over the chair. The older gentlemen is bent down just behind your coat, retrieving his coin.

“Let me explain.”  says Helen.  You look back incredulously at her.

“We tried that already.”

You glance towards the man again, he’s back at his table, head still buried in his paper, now tossing the coin and easily catching it without looking. Something about him is annoying you.

You look back at Helen. She’s turned to grab your coat from the chair and hands it to you.

As you reach to grab it, she holds on to it just long enough to say,

“Caramel macchiato, double shot, but half-drunk.”

You take the jacket, and turn to go. Sighing you turn back, frustrated,

“Ok. How’d you know?”

“It’s not all I know.”

“I didn’t even know what I was going to order. I didn’t even know I was going to come here.”

“I did, and I know you’ve ordered that stupid muffin again. The one you can’t stand, but feel like you have to order for reasons beyond me.”

She sits down in front of the coin tossing man, and watches you. You don’t sit but you don’t leave either.

“I understand you don’t trust me, but you need to know what’s going on. I know that too, Troy, you need to know. You always need to know.”

You hesitate. Glancing over at the man behind her, you are tempted to ask, “heads or tails?” as he continues to toss that stupid coin, head still buried in his paper.

“I just want to explain” she continues, ” I’ll tell you everything I know.”

As she knew you would, you sit down across from her with a sigh of resignation. What else can you do? She’s right. You need to know, and she’s the closest to answers you’ve come.

“I haven’t been entirely honest with you.”

“No kidding.”

Helen nods and continues, “Remember when I said we’d been here before?”

You just glare, which is apparently answer enough for Helen.

“Right. Of course you do. Well, I meant it. We’ve been in this exact same situation before. Just like this. You woke up and remembered nothing of me, of your life. Dr. Sexton said it was a defense against the stress of a life you couldn’t deal with. Powerful men with their millions, maybe billions, I don’t even know, depend on you. They entrust you with the things most valuable to them and you make them happy. Maybe that’s the stress of it. That and things with us. That and…”

Helen pauses. Her eyes shift uncomfortably to the table. She takes a deep shaky breath and looking back up continues.

“Anyway, you had some kind of break. Just like now, you remembered nothing. You began seeing Dr. Sexton. You saw him for a month refusing to accept your life. You kept claiming someone had stolen your life, stolen you. Then one day, you woke up and it was like the month had never happened. You remembered everything except that month. It was like it never happened. That was about five months ago.”

She is looking so earnestly at you now; it’s your turn to shift your gaze. That man is still tossing his stupid coin. You frown.

Helen leans over, seeking to get your attention again, but speaking softer, “Troy. I don’t know why it started again.”

You look back at her, determined to be determined. “You’re really good. But not this time. See, I remember. I remember the building, and I’ve seen the building. I’m not imagining it. I saw the building and I saw the men.”

“What are you talking about? Sunnyvale?”

“Yeah, Sunnyvale. You didn’t think I’d recognize it, but I did. Something didn’t quite work. You stole my life, but the new life you engineered for me didn’t take, so you took me back there to finish the job. That was no bank and you know it.”

“No, you’re right Troy. Sunnyvale’s not a bank. It’s a mental health center.”

“Euphemisms. I remember the machine, Helen. I remember hallway 76. I remember the machine and I remember the two men who hooked me up and interrogated me. They did this to me and no matter how much sympathy you pretend, you took me back to them. ”

She’s pleading, or maybe just whining now, her words spilling out in a rush, “Troy, It’s a mental health facility. It’s where you spent the month with Dr. Sexton. What you’re remembering must be the treatment, not the cause. They helped you, Troy. They brought you back. They can help you again. I knew you wouldn’t go willingly, so I took you. Please, just talk with Dr. Sexton. He can help you again. He’s a good man.”

“It seems to me you’ve forgotten your part, Helen, dear. You’re supposed to be the scorned woman. What do you care if I come back or not?”

Helen sighs. “Honestly, Troy. earlier today I was ready to give up, even with… well even with what we once had, I was ready to give up. There was no way I could do this again. But in the car, the things you said. It’s been a long time… maybe… I don’t know. Just come back with me and talk to Dr. Sexton. If he can’t convince you, I won’t force anything.”

“I can’t Helen. You don’t get it, I remember. They wanted me to forget, you wanted me to forget. But, I remember the interrogation. I remember the weird rooms on Hallway 76. I remember the diamond room and a door with that symbol” – (you suddenly remember what that black and white swirl is called)- “Yin-Yang.”

Helen’s eyes take on new focus.

“Wait, what? Diamond Room?”

“Right, I remember, so…”

Helen doesn’t seem concerned. Why doesn’t she seem concerned? She is starting to look excited instead. That can’t be good.

“Troy, you’re right you do remember. But not like you think. Troy, the “interrogation” was therapy. Last week, we went out, for real. It was like before, when it was good. We were celebrating… well, anyway, it was a rare moment. That must be why it stuck in your head.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Yin-Yang–that’s the circle with the black and white swirls in it right?”


“I know that because you told me. You told me on that night. You told me because you gave me this.”

Helen pulls on a chain lifting a necklace  which has been hanging down behind her shirt. It’s half a Yin-Yang pendant.

“I gave you that?” You are trying to sound sarcastic but it’s coming out curious.

“Yeah, Troy, you did. You had the other half. And you know where we were on that night? You were really trying, I’ll give you that. Went all out. Took me to a very fancy place. A kind of millionaires club. Some perk you got from a real millionaire.”

“Look, Helen, is this going anywhere?”

“The Diamond Room, Troy! That’s the restaurant where you took me. It’s called the Diamond Room. And that’s where you gave me this pendant. Don’t you see? You’re confusing the events in your head. I mean, think about what you’re saying: that two men hooked you up to some crazy machine and brainwashed you. A mysterious hall 76 with doors and symbols. And for what, Troy? You’re just a banker. Why would anyone do this to you? Isn’t it possible, that what I’m saying is true? And if you have the slightest doubt, don’t you owe it to us to find out?

The flash, the vision comes more softly this time, like it’s overlaid on the scene you are in, less jarring and disorienting.

You are still sitting, but not in the coffee shop, but not in the diamond machine. No weird machine at all. Six is here, but he’s speaking calmly not yelling.

Who are you? He is asking reasonably, like he’s helping you remember.

“No, that can’t be right.” you say out loud.

But it could be couldn’t it?   You can’t tell if she’s telling the truth and that’s extremely troubling.

“Can’t it be, Troy? Couldn’t it be?”

Helen places her hand on yours. It’s warm. It feels good and you leave it.

“Will you just come with me to Sunnyvale and talk with someone, please? Even if you’re right, you need the truth and where else are you going to find it?”


Helen jumps. She’s as surprised as you are by the sound. The elderly man is leaving, his back to you. He looks vaguely familiar, which today is saying something.

You eyes drop to the table the man left. The coin. He slammed it on the table.

You walk over to it. You pick it up. Your head is hurting again. What can this even mean? It has to mean something, doesn’t it?

Without saying anything, feeling dizzy but alert enough to hide your actions from Helen, just in case, you deftly palm the object which was not a coin. Turning to Helen, you pocket it while studying the pendant hanging from her neck.  No doubt about it the one in your pocket is the other half.  The one you are supposed to have.

And the man who left it was Seven.


Filed under Creative writings (prose), Serial Saturday, The Stolen Man

Serial Saturday: The Stolen Man Episode 1-2

The Beginning: episode 1-2

(Episode 1-1 here.)

People walk along the street oblivious to the fact that the moorings of reality are slipping their knots, and the entire world is drifting toward madness. There they all are acting as if everything is normal.

How can anything be normal in a world where people pretend they are your wife, strap you to a chair and make you forget who you are. You don’t even know what normal should be for you. Are you happy? The nervous type? Confident? Important or nobody? Rich or poor?

“Who are you?” Six looming threateningly over you; you locked in the chair. He was so angry. You have no idea how you felt when it happened.

When it happened…How could it have happened? Did it really? Could such strangeness be real in a world with these people, these passive unknowing faces which pass by you. You are irrationally angry with them, these passers-by, precisely because they are passing by. You could be crazy, probably are, and none of them care.

Seven standing passively behind Six, watching it all happen.

But maybe someone does care. Maybe. You stop unsure whether to go back to Helen or press on to Sunnyvale.

When he bumps into you roughly and then politely excuses himself it takes you a few precious seconds to recognize him. Maybe it’s because the smile he gives you looks almost warm, not at all like the dream. In those few precious seconds, you mumble some incoherent apology and then you two pass each other.

But it was, and now you are beginning to realize it was, it really was the man from your dream, not the angry one, the passive one. Seven.

You turn rapidly and there he is just disappearing around the corner of a building. Helen, Sunnyvale, none of that is important now. Now what matters is finding him, getting answers from him.

You run after him confident that he will just be immediately around the corner but when you turn it he’s just turning another corner, this time to the left. How did he?

You are running at a sprint now. He is still moving at a calm easy walk so you are bound to catch him this time. You turn the next corner and there he is further down the block now, two streets down, turning again. Did he just look back at you and chuckle? He did. You pick up the pace yet again.

You’ve been running for awhile now. You’re not sure how long. You’re really not even thinking anymore. You feel like a rat in a maze.   It’s probably futile but you have to keep going. Here he is again, maybe this time. Maybe you’ll catch him this time. Another corner, and there he is again turning ahead of you. Are you closer now? Is he slowing down? Yes, he is!

He is crossing the street nonchalantly heading toward another blind corner so you start to sprint across the street to cut him off.

The car which almost hits you honks, breaking your stride and making you realize how tired you are; tired and winded, and suddenly, unable to run. Where are you? How long have you been running? A long time, you suspect. You stand in the middle of the street catching your breath, watching him disappear around yet another corner. You are preparing for another sprint when someone gets out of the car you are blocking and comes towards you.


It’s Helen. She is looking at you like you are a rabid dog, a family pet perhaps, affection but mostly fear.

“I’m not…”

“Just get in the car, Troy.”


You don’t even know where you’re going. What are you doing, just wandering the streets?”

“I have a plan.”

“Well, good for you, but you asked me to prove you were Troy and then when I start to do it, You’ve run out the door! Come to think of it that’s probably the best proof of all.”

You stop walking and stare at her.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying  just get in the car.”

You look back toward the car stopped in the middle of the street, engine still running;  you turn and start walking away from the car. Helen walks after you,

“You’re not listening to me. I said I can prove it.”

“Then prove it. Who’s stopping you?”

“When you left… I went to get your ID.”

You stop walking and turn toward her, “ID?”

“Yeah, ID. It proves you’re Troy.”

“How do I know you haven’t faked it?”

“How could I…? What are you saying, Troy? Listen to yourself. Anyway it doesn’t matter.”

It’s really bothering you that she sounds so reasonable and you sound so crazy. Thinking about the last few hours since you woke up it’s suddenly occurring to you that maybe the world isn’t going mad. Maybe it really is just you. What were you just doing? Chasing a phantom?

How do you know if you’re crazy?

Maybe if what you are saying sounds crazy even to you. Maybe that’s why you at least decide to look at the wallet she’s offering you.

You look through it and find a little cash, but surprisingly no ID. You look at Helen questioningly and, you hope, not madly accusingly.

“Yeah, that’s what I mean. It doesn’t matter. It’s all gone. No ID at all. But I swear to you it was all there last night when we went out.”

“We went out?”

“Well, that’s probably putting it charitably. But yeah, we were together and we ate. I saw your ID where it normally is when you paid the bill.”

“And now it’s gone?”

Helen shrugs and you are angry again. Angry and confused and wondering how you being crazy would make your ID disappear. It wouldn’t would it? And besides maybe the fact you sound crazy to yourself means you aren’t crazy.

If you were you wouldn’t know it, right?  You’d think it was normal.

You start walking away again, but not before sneering, “Convenient.”

“Seems inconvenient to me” replies Helen.

You turn to Helen again, confronting her directly, “No! It’s very convenient for you. For some reason you want me to believe I’m Troy and suddenly all the ID which could prove who I really am is missing.” Is that you speaking? You are surprised at the bitterness in your voice. You’re not yelling but you see how your harsh words are affecting Helen.

You take the cash out and toss the wallet back to Helen.  “Leave me alone.”

Helen catches the wallet and as if the weight is too much for her drops her hands immediately to her side. Her head follows, drooping and with surprise you see that she is starting to weep.

“You are so stubborn, “ she says through the tears, “I told you I can prove it and now you won’t even let me try. You won’t even get in the car. Please Troy, don’t give up now. If it’s over fine, but not this way, not without you even knowing about us, about…”

You can’t hear Helen’s final words or maybe she didn’t actually finish, her mouth still moving in gasps and sobs.

You aren’t sure what to do. Truth is, you feel like a heel, but you don’t even know why. It’s not like you’ve hurt someone you care about, is it? Surely this is just pity, normal human compassion. Would you feel normal human compassion if you were crazy?

Yet you turn and keep walking away, when her words come back to you, her words and something in them perhaps, “…not without you knowing…”

What is it you don’t know? What can she tell you?

Sighing, you turn back. Helen is poised to get back in her car.

“How?” you ask.

“How what?” she says tiredly.

“You said you could still prove it. How?  How can you prove to me who I am?”

Helen looks up at you, eyes already drying, “Work. People at work can identify you. Lots of them. Receptionists, tellers, guards, any of  the employees at the bank.”

She gets in the car and sits behind the wheel waiting for you, apparently, to get in.

You reluctantly get in the car and ask, “I’m a banker?”

Helen turns the car in a graceful u-turn and starts driving.

“No, you are the bank. They know you. You spend more time there than you do with me.”

“I’ve never spent anytime with you.”

Helen sighs, “You used to spend all your time with me, Troy.  You used to love me.”

“I never loved you.”

You can see she is starting to cry again, but trying to hide it while she’s driving. You weren’t trying to be mean. Or maybe you were. You were angry. Now, you’re not. Anger is draining out of you, being replaced by something else.

“I..I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…well I did, but…look you surprised me back there. I didn’t realize…it’s just that it never occurred to me that you …well that you thought it was real. I thought you were acting. I don’t know what’s happening. I thought you were in on it, because I just can’t believe what you’re saying. I can’t believe this is my life. I’m a banker named Troy with a beautiful wife whom he doesn’t pay enough attention to. That’s not me. That’s not my life. I know it’s not.” It isn’t you. It doesn’t feel right…but it’s not all wrong either. You do feel something for Helen. Is it affection? Or just guilt?

“I know you’re my husband.”

“I see that now. I mean I see that you really believe it. I don’t know what’s happening. Maybe someone is playing a trick on both of us. Maybe you’re not the enemy. Let’s go to the bank. You’ll see. I’m not Troy, but maybe we can find him.

“And I know I love you Troy. See, I’m even willing to say it, if it will bring you back.”

Her voice is rich with emotion and you believe her. For the first time you believe her. Without thought you reply, “Right at this moment, I almost wish it were true, that I was Troy.”

“Almost.” She repeats softly, voice still shaking with emotion.

“I can tell you this. I know I’m not this Troy person because if I was, I never would have preferred the bank to you.” Awkwardly you pat her hand resting on the console between you. She smiles briefly and then looks troubled.

“Troy, Listen. I’ve got to tell you something. This isn’t…”

“What? What is it?”

“Nothing. We’re here.”

You turn to climb out of the car, looking up at the tall black building she’s pulled up in front of. You freeze halfway in and halfway out of the car. 911 Eden Avenue. It’s not a bank. It’s…

“Sunnyvale. This is where they did it to me.”

You look back in confusion at Helen.

“I’m sorry, it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

Even as you look at her in disbelief, you scold yourself for your gullibility, and at the same time are intensely aware of the two men in nicely pressed suits coming towards you from the Sunnyvale building. Your muscles are tensing, body poising,  eyes scanning and you are listening. It’s all happening without thought. Confusion is gone, emotion is gone, you are simply responding; not reacting, but pro-acting. You step from the car listening for Helen, so you’ll know without looking if she’s cornering you on that side, listening even to the steps of the men coming toward you gauging who’s slightly slower. It’s the one on the left. He’s got a small limp; so small you can’t see it, but you can hear it. For a brief moment you are distracted, no longer assessing, but doubting.

Can one hear such a thing? Are you just crazy?

That distraction almost leads to your capture,  but your doubt is immediately cleared when you catch a glimpse of the man standing in front of the big doors to Sunnyvale. The suit, the smug arrogant smile, the condescending superior nonchalance. You know this man and you hate him. You’ve hated him from long before your dreams.

Seeing Six standing there releases you from the paralysis of thought. Leaping from the gutter, using the curb to propel yourself you effortlessly direct a perfectly aimed roundhouse kick at the faster man on the right, following the momentum of your kick, sliding easily past the slower limping man, along the side of the building and down the street. towards a narrow alley behind Sunnyvale.

You still think you are a banker, friend?

You are listening for them to run after you, but all you hear is Helen saying, “Troy! Wait!”  And all you can see is the older man, the one you were chasing through the maze of streets, Seven, walking towards you. You quickly make a turn to the left crossing the street away from Sunnyvale, away from Helen, away from Seven. You are surprised not to hear them running after you, but perhaps because you are listening attentively, you do manage to hear Helen say, just before you turn a corner out of sight and out of earshot, “Wait, wait. Let me talk to him. This went wrong, but I can get him back.”

(Click here for next episode.)


Filed under Creative writings (prose), Serial Saturday, The Stolen Man

Serial Saturday: The Stolen Man (Episode 1-1)

For my next Serial Saturday (meaning beginning with this blog) I’m attempting two dangerous things. 1) I’m writing a story which will be at least in part, an unusual tense and person.(I’ll let you discover it rather than clarifying what I mean here.) I think it fits, but it will feel a little odd, perhaps at first. I’m hoping it will flow ultimately. It’s not just a gimmick. I think it fits the story, as I hope you’ll see, and it also drives the sense of an unfolding adventure, almost like watching a tv show; which leads to the second dangerous thing. I wrote this originally as a webisode of 49 distinct cliffhanging episodes. I need far fewer resources to do this as a written story than a nicely done video, but I like the story enough I’m opting to try it here as my Saturday Serial. Rewriting what was exclusively a screenplay is an interesting exercise as well and is in many ways what lead to the unusual tense and person. Hopefully this all works and you enjoy this.

A few other notes before we start. Because this has so many episodes, I’m going to do Parts on both Saturday and Wednesday. It will still be called Serial Saturday, but you’ll need to catch parts on the mid week as well. So when you’re feeling those mid week blahs, there will be an episode to keep you going. It’s a mystery which will at times be truly mysterious, but I promise that I know where it’s going and it will make sense at the end. I am hoping the journey will prompt some discussion, guesses, exploration, ideas and so on. I’m hoping it will become just a bit interactive in that way. I think it’s going to be a good run, so if you like it invite others, talk about it on your blogs, your Facebook and on Pastormac’s Facebook as well and of course, comments are always welcome here.

And besides Saturday and Wednesday in two weeks I will be running my contest winner’s story in four parts, all in one week! The contest winner happens to be my daughter and her challenge can be seen here. Being my daughter she has made it very interesting and being her papa, I’ve decided to up the ante. Not only will I do three parts in close third person one for each sibling, but I will do each of these parts in Roshoman style with each part being a different perspective on the same trip gone wrong. The final part will be a surprise, mystery voice who will be able to show how all the “trip gone awry” actually works out to a trip gone amazingly right. The challenge for myself is I say all this with no idea of what the plot is yet. LQTM (Laughing quietly to myself, which is more accurate than LOL usually.) Well, anyway, keep an eye out for that and of course as usual,

Tomorrow I’ll update you on my pilgrimage for “next”

So, without further ado, here is part one of

The Stolen Man: The Beginning: episode 1-1

The images are confusing, sudden and disorienting.

A flash of a door; cool steel, small square frosted window. You look below the window but your eyes don’t seem to be tracking well. It’s like a flash, rather than a smooth transition; like a blink just a little too long. “A jump cut” they call it in the movies.

The number 76 below the window. A hand reaches just covering the number as it pushes open the door.

A flash of a long hallway behind the door.

Jump cut

Now suddenly you are inside the long hallway; it’s blindingly lit and you struggle to see, but you can barely make out doors, three on one side, four on the other. There are numbers and symbols on the doors, but you can’t quite make them out. One of them has a blank gray panel. You squint to see it and…

Suddenly you are being dragged down the hallway. Again, your eyes are oddly focused on the hand dragging you; a hand coming out of a white loose sleeve, like a lab coat you think vaguely. You don’t resist as you watch this hand pulling you by the elbow forward, but you do try to look up, to see whose pulling you. You can’t. You try to look right; does someone have your other elbow?

The doors you pass are all white with symbols, that you can see.

“Who are you!”

Why is he yelling at you? Who is yelling at you?

The hallway is gone; now it’s a street. A boy on a tricycle rides by in front of you; you smile but you’re not sure why.

Back in the hallway; a door with a diamond symbol on it.

You shake your head and for a moment things clear. You are sitting in a chair; something is on your head. Wires or tubes or something appear to be coming out of your arms. You can’t move, can’t stand up. You try to look at your watch but you can’t lift your arm.

“What time is it?” you ask the dark haired angry looking man standing over you.

“Who are you!” He demands again, only louder. He’s really angry. If you only knew why. “Tell us who you are! How did you get here?”

“Boy, I wish I knew,” you start to say but you are stopped when a sudden realization hits you,  actually two realizations.

One, there are two people standing in the room with you; the angry looking yelling one, and another, quiet, passive emotionless, standing in the background. Two, you know their names, “Six” and “Seven”.

But those aren’t really names, are they?  You close your eyes, shake your head again.  Suddenly you drift out of the chair, across the room. Surprised you watch the angry man continue to yell at you, the you in the chair. The chair is not just a chair, it’s connected to the diamond machine.

Like the names, “Seven” and “Six” you just know this, but you have no idea how you know it or what it means.

You drift past Seven standing impassively, and out the door.  Looking back you see that it’s a door like the others in the hallway, but this time you can make out the symbol on the door. It’s that black and white swirl thing; what do they call that?

“I’ll tell you who you are.” Six is no longer yelling, but still you hear him through the door. “You are…”

You awake with a start. You sigh in a sudden burst of relief and clarity. What a crazy dream. What in the world was that all about? Well, dreams are that way though aren’t they?

There’s a very attractive, but tired looking woman standing at the dresser just past the foot of your bed. She’s putting on makeup and she is speaking. You realize with a start that she’s been speaking and that this is probably what woke you.

“Troy. Come on. You’re going to be late. We can’t afford another sick day. You know that!”

The confusion is returning. The confusion from the dream. Now you can see everything, hear everything. You’re not drifting or being dragged around. You’re just lying here in bed. The world is behaving normally, except…

“Troy,” She’s irritated now. ”Come on! I don’t want to be late. I have a doctor’s appointment remember?”

You look at her in confusion. What she’s saying, how she’s saying it is all normal, if it weren’t for one thing. That one thing that’s been confusing you since you saw her.

Now she’s really exasperated, “You’re taking me, remember? Troy! What is up with you?”

You hate to ask. You know it’s not going to go over well, but you’ve got to ask, haven’t you?   So you do.

“Who are you?”

“Troy” She responds, fear beginning to join her exasperation. What does she have to be afraid of, you wonder? You’re the one in a strange bed, in a strange house talking to a woman who keeps calling you Troy.

“I’m not Troy!” You jump out of bed, looking around in confusion for anything familiar.

“Troy, this is not funny.”

“No, no, it’s not. I’ve got to get home. Quit calling me Troy.”

“Stop it! This is not funny. What…”

There! On the chair, clothes draped over it just like you would do. You grab them and start to put them on. Fortunately they appear to fit,  as you aren’t entirely sure they are actually your clothes.

You speak as you are putting on the pants and shirt, “I don’t know you! Who are you?”

The woman looks near panic and you’re starting to actually feel a little bad for her. Poor thing. Crazy woman wondered into your house…except it’s not your house.

You are trying not to yell, but you suspect you are anyway. “How did I get here? Where am I?”

Her voice is very low now, fighting back tears or panic or anger, maybe all the above.

“Stop it Troy. Please.”

“I’m not Troy.” OK, you definitely are yelling, but she’s just so infuriating.

“You’re serious. You really don’t know…again.”

For a crazy lady she seems to be accepting it easily all of a sudden. Sadly maybe, but easily. But then maybe that’s what crazy ladies do.

“I’m Helen. I’m your wife. This is your home, has been for the last 8 years.”

Now you’re starting to feel afraid. Something about this new tone; like you’re the crazy one, or stupid or a child.

“What are you trying to pull? I’m not married. This is not my home. I’m getting out of here.”

You’ve managed to get yourself dressed and after putting on your coat, going through all your pockets produces only a business card. No name on it, just a business title, “Sunnyvale Heights.” It means nothing to you. Maybe these aren’t your clothes? Never mind; they fit and it’s time to go home. You exit the bedroom, Helen following you quietly. Swiftly you cross to the closet, where the keys to your car are hanging and grabbing the keys you start to open the front door. As you grab the keys they jingle and for a brief moment, it’s like you are back in a dream. A sudden vision overtakes you; a vision of you, sitting in a car; your car, driving calmly, confidently.


“I’m not Troy.” You’re looking at the keys. Something isn’t right. Why can’t you think clearly?

“Stop and think a second. How did you know where the keys were? Those keys are to your car parked in your driveway here at your house. Where exactly are you going? If this is not your home, where is?”

That’s it. She’s nailed it. That is what’s wrong. You have no idea where home is, but still…

“This is not my home.”

“Then where, Troy? Where is home?”

“Everyone keeps their keys by the door.”


“I’m not Troy.”

“Then who are you?”

What a stupid question. Except she’s right. You suddenly realize you haven’t got a clue. You’ve been so focused on asserting who you weren’t that you’ve only now realized you’ve no idea who you are! Wow, that dream did a number on you, didn’t it?

“ I’m…I’m…I’m not Troy.”

“See you don’t even know who you are.”

“No, no I don’t. But I know who I’m not. I don’t know how you did this, or…why? Why Helen?”

You feel defeated, confused. Helen is leading you back to the living room by your arm, just like in your dream. That dream.

“Was it something in my food? Did you drug me? Please just tell me. I won’t be mad. I just want to get home. Get some sleep. Some time to think.”

Helen is looking at you sadly, even fondly. She’s reaching for your face as if to caress it, and you are thinking of letting her, “Oh Troy.”

You pull back suddenly, “I’m not Troy.”

Helen drops her hand. She’s speaking softly now, earnestly, “This is not the first time. We’ve been here before.”

“I’ve never been here before.”

“Do you hate me so much?”

“I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you.”

” What do you know? What can you remember?”

“Something important. I had something important to tell someone…What do you mean we’ve been here before?”

“What did you have to tell someone? Was it something about work? What do you know Troy?”

“Work, I…What’s with the interrogation? What did you mean we’ve been here before?”

“Nothing Troy. I just meant you’ve been acting differently for months now, like you weren’t yourself. What happened to us Troy? It was work, wasn’t it?”

“Nothing happened to us. There is no us.”

There was something, you are realizing, something important. What was it. and…work?

“Why are you so interested in work? What have you done to me?”

‘“Nothing, I’m just trying to help you remember. Troy, I’m on your side.”

“I don’t even know if I’m on your side.”

“You said you were doing something important for work.”

“No, no I didn’t say that. You did.”

“Did I?”

“Yes, you did. You said…

“I don’t need a replay. It’s just that…I hate your work. Do you even remember what you did?

You head is hurting.  You did… you do something important. What is it? You are standing up again, getting ready to leave.

“Look, I’ve got to go.

“Troy, where will you go?”

“I’m not…

“How do you know you’re not Troy?”

“How do you know I am?”

You are watching Helen now, as she motions you to wait and runs off to another part of the house. You watch her go for a second. Too bad she’s not your wife, she’s awfully pretty. You reach into your pocket, planning to leave the keys on the coffee table, when you find the Sunnyvale Heights card again. Looking at it, another waking dream (a memory?) catches you…

A building, tall, at least ten stories, lots of darkened glass and a sign on the outside, “Sunnyvale Heights.” You’ve been there before!

A flash of a door; cool steel, small square frosted window. You look below the window but your eyes don’t seem to be tracking well. It’s like a flash, rather than a smooth transition; like a blink just a little too long

Where does a man go to piece his life together when he remembers almost nothing? He goes where he remembers anything! Sunnyvale Heights. That’s where your going. Running out the door, you catch a glimpse of Helen emerging from the back part of the house. She’s carrying a wallet, waving at you to stop, but you don’t. You run. You run out the door, and down the steps and in the direction of Sunnyvale Heights.

You run, but who are you?

(Click here for the next episode)


Filed under Creative writings (prose), Serial Saturday, The Stolen Man

Well this should be interesting…

I should have known I was in trouble when my daughter won the “I’ll write a story for you” prize in my last giveaway. If you remember, she is supposed to give me a genre, a couple characters and any other quirky thing she wants. For weeks she’s been saying she couldn’t think of what she wanted me to write. And then today I get this very specific detailed directions.

4 parts, a family road trip that goes horribly awry (whatever that may mean to you).
Three siblings:
A son, a very type A engineer 26, taking his two younger sisters (21 a photography student, a little bit too unscheduled for her brother’s liking, and 17 just wants to graduate high school and move away from her brother) to visit their grandparent’s farmhouse which has been standing empty for ten years. They are going to clean it out for their mom (i don’t care if they actually get to the farmhouse in the course of the story or not).

The first three parts should each be told in close 3rd person with one part for each sibling. The final can have a 3rd person omniscient narrator or can switch from a close 3rd of one sibling to the next.

And so it begins. I have something else planned as well for Serial Saturday, so tune in Saturday to find out the plan. I haven’t decided but I may do Lo’s four parts in one week or maybe I’ll do her story in two weeks and then start on my other plan, Hmmmm, As I say, tune in Saturday.


Filed under Creative writings (prose), Giveaways and contests, Serial Saturday

Serial Saturday: Katherine’s story part 10 (Answers and questions.)

It was all moving in slow motion, which was particularly odd because ever since Walter had returned, walking in the door, bringing them to the mine, it had all seemed to be moving too fast, out of control, speeding away from Jonathan like a receding train. He had a plan, which had not just gone wrong, but worse, somehow gone right in a very weird way. How a could a mine he made up be real? How could a story he invented have actually happened? Try as he might he could remember no instance of having heard the story, no evidence of having borrowed from reality for his story. His mind had raced to keep up with the unfolding events before him while he tried at the same time to understand how they could have even ended up here. Clang clang, chug chug, the train raced on.

And Now,

Kati, dear loved-like-a-sister Kati had raced toward the mine shaft. Jonathan thought about calling out, maybe even did (he could never quite remember) but things were still moving very quickly…until,

Jonathan felt as if he were stuck in a dream, or mired behind oceans of water. Rocks were falling, hiding Kati from view, but so slowly, so incredibly slowly. And yet, Jonathan stood. His mind said run, indeed his heart was halfway there already, but his feet just didn’t seem to follow. For a brief moment he saw, no he felt, what Walter lived with day after day. None of this made sense but all lead to this moment, to Kati’s crushing death (or so it appeared at this moment to Jonathan). How could Jonathan’s gag, a stupid story, how could it lead to this? It couldn’t unless God were playing an even stupider gag, taking Jonathan’s made up story and using it to destroy Kati.

The feeling passed almost as quickly as it landed. God was not cruel; this was no gag or dream or game. The confusion fled as Jonathan stopped trying to figure it out. Just move, Jonathan, just move. Finally, his feet loosened and Jonathan ran towards the mine. He tried to help Walter (Jonathan felt a little surprise to find Walter already there…he hadn’t truly wasted that much time, had he?), but Walter was like a mad man, shoveling without regard. Half of the rocks he cleared landed on Jonathan and the other half fell back on Walter himself. Jonathan shouted at Walter, trying to calm him, to bring him back, but Walter ignored him and then it no longer mattered, because he was through.

Jonathan checked to make sure the entry looked at least reasonably stable this time and then followed Walter in. Jonathan looked in wonder…Katherine and Walter were kissing.


They were all back at Walter’s place, even Oscar had been allowed in the house and he nuzzled against Kati’s hand until she scratched the top of his head. Her other hand rested comfortably in Walter’s who kept turning to look at her, even as Jonathan talked as if he wanted to be sure she was really here. As if his eyes weren’t enough proof on their own, every so often his hand would squeeze Kati’s.

“And that’s why I think I win.” Jonathan concluded

“Jonathan, now you’re really stretching it. Really this seems a bit far fetched. You’re saying that God engineered this whole thing and then gave you the story like some prophet in the Bible just so that Walter and I would meet? You can’t really believe that?”

He didn’t.

“Absolutely. I set out to experiment with which of our philosophies make the most sense and when you consider that only God could have made something completely made up turn out to be real…Well it’s the only possible answer.”

Actually Jonathan had figured out a different answer, the real one he was pretty sure, but he had to be completely sure. The problem was, Walter wasn’t paying enough attention, focused as he was on Kati. He’d have to be more direct.

“So, you see Walter, your doom and gloom stance can’t possibly be right. God made all this happen, just so you could be happy. Kati lived. You, my friend, solved a puzzle which didn’t exist, but which had to be solved in order for destiny to bring you two together. How else do you explain it? “

Walter looked up, a rueful smile.

Jonathan waited. This was it. It had to be.

“No sir, I just lied.”

So he was right then.

Kati looked up in surprise, “What?”

“I hope you won’t be too terribly mad at me, but I figured out pretty early Jonathan had made the whole thing up. You forgot my father founded this place, I grew up here. A legend like that wouldn’t have been wholly unknown to me. So he made it up first, I just made it up second. I took you to a mine I already knew about.”

Kati looked stunned, “But why? Why would you do that?”

“I’m not entirely sure. The way you goaded me. I felt like I had to do something, like being passive was no longer going to work. I felt like I had to make something happen…so I did…and it almost killed you.” Walter looked miserable and worried at Kati’s reaction.

Kati shook her head, but not apparently displeased. She looked seriously but not unhappily at Walter, “Good for you. And almost doesn’t count, you know.”

Jonathan laughed, “I thought so. It was the only thing that made sense. I understand why, but how? How did you know about the mine, and how did you get access.”

Walter looked embarrassed and mumbled something.

Kati, closer to him, heard and laughed.

Jonathan smiled, ready to laugh and asked, “What?”

Walter looked up impatient and annoyed in his embarassment, “I own it. I signed the inheriatance papers. Papers, which I might add, list every known mine in the areas, at least half of which belong to me. That was just one of them.”

Jonathan did laugh, “You, my friend, are now the richest man in California!”

Walter looked miserable, “I know. And that means I have the most to lose of anyone. But you see Jonathan. You do not win. I win, which means I lose. No matter how much I tried I could not avoid my fate. “

“But Walter, Kati lived. You acted and Kati lived. All I can see is fate gave you riches and a good woman. If that’s a curse, I’ll take it anyday.”

“Indeed, Katherine is perhaps the greatest curse of all.”

Katherine drew her hand aside and looked in shocked anger at Walter who was looking at the floor.

“It is my curse to be blessed with much only to always lose it.” He looked now at Katherine who was softening,” I know you well enough already, dear Katherine to know that you are no one’s “good woman” You belong to yourself and would not tie yourself down for the likes of me.”

Kati took Walter’ s hand in hers again, “You say you lose by winning, well I’ll admit that I won by losing. I would have been lost in that mine without your help. You were there when I needed you. I don’t belong to you, but perhaps we need each other. I feel somehow as if being with you will not tie me down, but rather free me for the first time, perhaps.”

“You’ve finally come out of the steamer trunk, have you Kati?” said Jonathan softly.

Kati looked at him in surprise, but then nodded slowly, “Sometimes, Jonny, you are a wonder. “

Walter sat silently for a moment and then turned to Katherine, “Perhaps I am falling into fate’s trap, perhaps I will regret this, but you give me hope, Katherine, dear. Would you consent to marry the world’s most wealthy cursed man.”

Katherine looked at Walter and said quite seriously, “As God is my witness, I will never leave you Walter Newhall.”

Katherine kissed Walter.

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Filed under Katherine Suzanne, Serial Saturday

Serial Saturday: Walter (Kati’s story part 9)

So here we are up to the second to the last chapter. In truth there is one more chapter and a bit of an epilogue but we’ll do both of those next week. I’m sure there were days Kelli never thought we’d actually get here…but we did!

I hope it all turns out to be a gift she and her family can delight in. Thanks, Kelli, for giving me the chance.

Tomorrow Morning my family and I visit another church (Paragon I think tomorrow) and tomorrow night I’ll post my next installment of my pilgrimage. As many of you know I’m also working on my Seven Themes book which will be available for no money down (or due ever) and you will be among the first to know how to get it! It shouldn’t be too much longer. After all it’s been (like most of my books and best sermons) 15 years in the making.

So without further ado let’s get back to Katie, Jonathan and Walter with part 9:


When it finally collapsed it all came down at once with a painfully loud crash, which Walter could swear was actually audible. He had thought of his life as complete. Not over, or done, just complete; all the pieces present and accounted for: financially assured, loving wife, first of many children on the way. It was all as he’d been promised, by the fate of his birthright.

He had never understood why he was the one to receive such promise, but it truly didn’t bother him much. It was right somehow. It was not really to his credit; born into wealth, handsome, healthy, even Jainie had come to him. But surely it wasn’t his fault either: that others were poor, ugly, sick or alone. Who could explain why he should be so lucky? He had never explored the question much before it all collapsed, so perhaps thats why it never occurred to him to ask after.

Or maybe he just didn’t like the possible answers.

But happen it did, the first rock to collapse,was his wife and, with her, their child. A few months only remained for his father to live, and when the heart attack took him,, the incredible wealth left was to be split between Walter and his sister. By the end of the year she too was gone, life cut short by a freak carriage accident.

The idea that his great fortune would come at their expense was too much and Walter found himself at first postponing the idea of collecting his fortune till mourning had passed. But mourning hadn’t passed and Walter’s own health began to suffer in small but unsettling ways. A cough here, an ache there, nothing serious but all adding to the sense of his collapsing prospects. Soon he became convinced that the same fickle hand which brought him fortune now sought to bring him curse.

He vaguely conceived of an idea to never accept the financial windfall in front of him, so that he could never lose it. The entire town, property, and wealth remanded unclaimed. Walter lived in a house belonging to no one, more out of inertia than any desire. Even the railroad, key to the fortune was truly owned by no one. Profits and salaries were taken by those who were owed them, but the bulk of the profits, the infrastructure, belonged to no one, like a discarded toy, rather than the integral part of development and daily life it was for those who used it. The mighty railway empire of his father kept running under it’s own weight, many trained hands doing their part, but no one sat in the conductors seat, as it were.

Then suddenly into the rubble of his passive life stepped Kati. She had accused him…accused him of not taking responsibility, not just once, but over and over from their first meeting until now. Finally without being dissuaded from his conviction of the curse, he was at least persuaded he was a coward. So he’d found the mine and…and..

He watched in horror as the mine collapsed around Katherine, hiding her from his view.

The curse would not leave him. Anything he loved would be taken.

At least Jonathan was here. Things tended to work out for him. Walter looked over at him, expecting his friend of action to be running already towards the entrance…but he wasn’t. He was standing looking shocked.

Walter was confused. If Jonathan didn’t save her, who was going to? Still Jonathan stood, unmoving. Walter’s confusion began to turn to anger. Anger at fate, at God, at Jonathan and Katie, and at himself for being a coward, for being cursed for letting Jainie die, and his father, and Alicia, for never having lived, instead remaining submissive to the fickle hand of fate in good and bad.

Even before this anger turned to decision, before he had time to decide to do anything (or not). Walter was running towards Kati behind the wall of rock. Vaguely he realized that Jonathan was now moving behind him; vaguely he realized the rocks were still settling as he reached the entrance. But mostly there was no thought, only action. Pulling first at the big rocks, rolling, heaving, shoving, whatever was needed to move the rocks. Had Walter stopped to think he probably would have given up. Progress was painful and slow. Often when he moved a rock a new one would simply fall into its place, more than once smashing his arm or shoulder in the process. Jonathan was saying something but Walter ignored him and kept moving. Walter kept digging, scraping nails from his fingertips, loosening small grains where large clumps would not come, weeping now in pain and frustration and fear. His senses narrowed in on the one piece of ground where he dug. He saw only his hands, felt only the dirt, heard only his own digging. His thoughts ran in a jumble confusing him. He thought he could hear the cries of Lenore beneath the wall, no wait, not Lenore, it was Jainie…no Kati. His father dug beside him. No, that couldn’t be his father could it? It didn’t matter. Just keep digging, keep moving; that’s what mattered, because somehow, someway, it was actually his own life he was digging for. or was it? Could that be right?

“Walter, poor Walter.” Kati’s voice brought him back to his senses although he couldn’t imagine why Kati would be grieving him when she was the one in trouble. More importantly though it meant he was close. He was pretty sure he had actually heard her…and then there it was.

Just like that he was through. First a hand, then it all fell away, opening as easily now as it had collapsed. Kati was there, kneeling on the ground facing away.

“Katherine,” said Walter hoarsely, realizing with a shock that he was weeping like a baby. She looked up but away from him, not at him, he moved toward her and lifted her from her knees. She turned toward him, words dying on her lips when she saw him.

Holding her firmly in his arms, Walter kissed Katherine.

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Filed under Creative writings (prose), Katherine Suzanne, Serial Saturday