Think & Write #116

Midnight Shopping

Mick stood outside the River Valley Mall.  The time was 11:55 p.m.  Just five minutes before the mall opened.

To have the privilege of being in the front of the line, Mick has been camping in the parking lot in a tent since Monday.  Thanksgiving was done a little differently, since he wanted to keep his place in line.  After a quick drive to a nearby restaurant for their Thanksgiving buffet, he was all set for the sale.

Mick was not alone.  With him was his wife, Roxie.  Both of them were going to be the first people to enter Brookingdales.  At midnight, Brookingdales would open their doors for their big Black Friday sale.  For two hours, all clothing was 65% off.  In the first hour, all electronics were half off, and they were giving away a 50 inch television for  $1,000, with a free game system to go with that.

Looking around, Mick was in the perfect spot.  The parking lot was full, with people all over the mall starting to line up in anticipation of the mall opening.  Various other stores had sales, too.  But Brookingdales had the best sales.

It was now midnight.  Mick and Roxie entered, full of energy and excitement.  They would be the first to buy that TV, as well as all the other clothing that Roxie wanted.

The crowd became a stampede of people .  It is official.  Black Friday has begun.  The first official day of shopping and the busiest shopping day of the year….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #115

R&R

The last minute finally passed.  I clock out of work.

I exit and walk out to my car.  I am tired.

I put the key in the ignition and drive out of the store.

I drive over to a fast food restaurant.  I walk in and order a chicken sandwich value meal.  I eat it, and begin to drink my cola.

A phone call.  It was my wife.  She wanted to know when I would be home.

A conflict.  She asked me if I wanted to eat out tonight.  I was still a little hungry so I told her yes.

I throw the cup away and I drive home.  I take my wife out to eat at an Italian restaurant.  We took a doggie bag home.

We get home.  I sit in my chair, breathing in and out.

My wife stares at me.  She wants me to go to the bedroom.  I tell her no.

Another conflict.  My wife is in her robe, pleading me to go to the bedroom.  I tell her that I’m not in the mood.  She sighs, and leaves me alone.

R&R.  Rest and Relaxation.  The one thing that we long for.  The one thing that is the most precious.  It is finally mine, and is firmly in my possession.

It is quiet, and I am lying there, relaxing.  R&R.  It is a treasure to me.

I smile, let out a deep sigh, and slowly fall asleep.

R&R.  Rest and Relaxation.  The fruit of my labor, culminating in just a mere 7 hours of rest.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #114

Restoring History

Toric was surrounded.  It was an army of soldiers in hi-tech suits.  His opinion did not matter.  The word freedom did not hold any meaning to them.

Freedom was a new idea to Toric.  An idea that he just learned about.  But the soldiers told him a different story.  “Freedom is what rebels choose.” they told him.  “And these rebels pay the ultimate price.”

But that didn’t matter to Toric.  Toric would pay any price for freedom, no matter how high the cost.

With that, Toric dove for the switch in the center.  This would activate an explosive that would tear the very fabric of time and space.  Some say that it would even reset time itself.  Just as he tripped the switch, he was shot to death.

Then the explosion happened.  Time reset, beginning with the earliest era.   The date of creation.

A few thousand years later, the events began to converge again.  All leading up to the one that began the slavery of all mankind.  The One World Faction, the Collective and the Rebels.  All of the same events were about to happen again.  It all lied in the hands of one man.  Either decision he made would change history forever….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #113

The Next Level

Rob sat down his control with satisfaction.  He just beat the hardest boss on one of the hardest games that he has even played.  Roboman XII on Insane Mode.

He smiled, as he watched the credits roll.  He has beat many hard games before.  Beating one like this was nothing new to him.

However, after the credits, there was yet another level.  This level featured very hard platforming elements, with his HP set at 1.  Even worse, he only had 0 lives.  One hit, and he would be done.

As Rob made his first few jumps with his character, it didn’t take him long for him to die.  The words “Game Over” appeared on the screen.  No continues were there, either.

Rob sighed.  “It would be nice if I could have infinite lives to try that extra level out,” he said, sighing.

For Rob to access that level again, he would have to beat that entire game again on Insane Mode.  So Rob did just that.  About an hour later, he beat the game.  He then got to the extra level, and died again.

After trying this a third time, Rob had enough.  He hacked the game and gave his character infinite lives.  For posterity, he gave him infinite energy as well.  At the extra level, he turned the codes on.  After getting hit many times and falling into pits, he beat the level.

It then hit Rob.  The game designers actually designed that level to be impossible to beat.  Even the most skilled player couldn’t beat it with the way they designed it.  It didn’t matter to Rob, since he was finally able to beat the extra level, and see the true ending to Roboman XII.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #112

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part V

Autumn looked around at the surrounding suburbs.  “Why stop here?” she gleefully smiled.  “I can remodel all these other ugly places too.  Why, I should’ve done this 100 years ago….”

Her destruction continued.  Autumn raised her hands, causing large groups of trees to spring up, destroying entire neighborhoods.  When she got to Cypress Street, she smiled.

“Ah,” she sighed.  “My old house.  Well, Margaret’s at least.  Thank you for the body, sweetie….”  Autumn raised her hand, causing an enormous tree to spring right through the house.

Meanwhile,  a very faint sound was buzzing deep inside of Autumn.  It was deep inside her subconscious.  Now, the sound was actually very loud.  But to Autumn, she could barely hear it.  It was the sound of shouting and screaming.  And crying.  But with this noise being generated at the subconscious level, Autumn was hardly aware of it.

Inside of Autumn’s subconscious, Margaret was shouting and crying.  “Give me my body back!” she screamed.  “Why can’t you hear me?  When I break though, you are totally going to regret it….”

Margaret screamed and shouted, until she couldn’t scream and shout anymore.  She sat down and sulked.  “I hope that Jill got my message,” she said very sadly.  “Jill, please enter that egg.  You are my only hope….”

After that, Margaret started to cry.  Her crying became bawling.  Her bawling became wailing.  Her eyes were flooded with tears, with her cries echoing through time….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #111

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part IV

Margaret woke up, covered in a pile of leaves.  This left her in a state of bewilderment.  There was not a single tree anywhere in the city, except for the Forest Sanctuary, which she visited yesterday.

When she saw the bright light emanating from the golden leaf that she was holding, it made sense.  It was her.  The one who called herself Autumn that was doing this.  Margaret, with the strongest conviction inside of her, knew that this was true.

Margaret went to the window and opened it.  Right after she did this, the golden leaf became brighter and created a strong gale that blew all the leaves out of her room, save the mysteriously enchanted leaf.  When all the leaves were gone, she closed the window.

Her next trip was to the bathroom.  She grabbed her clothes for the day and set them in the bathroom, placing the golden leaf on top of them.  Upon looking at the mirror, something puzzled her.  “My hair!” she gasped.  “Why is it all gold and orange?  It’s also longer than what I had it!  Is this the kind of hair that Autumn prefers?”

Margaret stared at the mirror with a sly look.  “Two can play that game,” she said quietly.  “Using her same powers. I’ll turn it back.”  And with the power of her will, her hair shortened to its normal length and changed back to brown.

Margaret showered, humming a happy tune as she usually did.  After she showered and clothed herself, she began thinking about Autumn.  “That leaf gave me weird dreams last night,” she said to herself.  “I also feel different.  I can’t let her control me….”

Margaret picked up the golden leaf and placed it in her white dress.  “You are going back to the Forest Sanctuary,” she told it.

After getting her hair in a ponytail, Margaret was all ready.  She walked downstairs and approached the door.  Her mother was sitting on the couch, organizing her to-do list on her Multitasker.

“Mother,” she announced,  “I’m going back to the Forest Sanctuary to return the leaf.”

Her mother smiled, giving her a nod of approval.  “Okay honey.  Get rid of that leaf, okay?”

Margaret nodded.  “Okay mother!”

Saying goodbye, Margaret left the house and went back to the Forest Sanctuary, taking the same way as yesterday.  After entering, she went to the same place where she found the golden leaf – underneath the tall tree with gnarled roots and branches.

Margaret reached into her dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  As she tried to release it, the leaf stuck to her hand.  She then put the leaf into her other hand and tried thrusting it as hard as she could.  The leaf remained on her hand.  It would not part from it, no matter how hard she tried.

At that point, she heard a voice that sounded like the wind. You silly girl…. Autumn whispered.  Do you think that I would actually change my mind?  I have made my decision.  You are the next one that I will use.  Being a descendant from your great-grandmother, you are like family to me, and the most suitable place to live.  Be a nice girl for me, okay?  Your great-grandmother was….

“My great-grandmother had no choice!” Margaret shouted.  “You took that choice away from her!”  Her anger began to intensify, but when she saw the golden leaf, it all seemed to vanish, like a distant memory.  “This leaf is too beautiful for me to part with.  What was I thinking?”  Margaret gently lifted the leaf up, and placed it back inside her dress.

Margaret, disappointed, went back home.  Autumn was happy that Margaret had the leaf in her possession.  Margaret, however, wasn’t.

As Margaret entered the door, her mother stood up.  “So, did you get rid of it?” she asked her.

Margaret was worried.  But that worry immediately transformed into a joyous passion.  Margaret eagerly took the golden leaf out of her dress, proudly displaying it to her mother.  “No mother,” she said.  “I couldn’t.  This leaf is far too precious for me to part with.”

Lily, her mother, shook her head.  “Far too precious for Autumn, right?” she said, raising her voice.

Fighting back, Margaret broke down.  “Yes mother,” she sadly admitted.  “This Autumn is starting to get to my mind.  I am not feeling myself.  Really! I’m not!”

Her mother nodded, looking increasingly worried.  “I can see that, honey.  Read those diaries while you can.  There may be hope for you.  Hope for a better future.  Hurry!”

Margaret nodded, fighting Autumn as much as she could.  “Right away mother!  I will read them right away!”

The conversation abruptly ended after that.  Margaret sprinted upstairs.  She still had her wits about her, but knew that this was only borrowed time.  Time that would not be wasted.

Once upstairs, Margaret ran to the end of the hallway.  From being up there with her mother in the past, she knew how to get up to the attic.  She pressed a button, that was hidden behind an old portrait.   This activated a compartment, which opened up to reveal a ladder.  The ladder folded downward until it reached the floor.  Margaret then climbed the ladder and entered the attic.

Sitting in the corner of the attic was an old desk.  The old desk was a mess, with diaries laying all over the place.  There were diaries on the desk and diaries on the floor, all caked with dust.

With so many diaries to leaf through, Margaret didn’t know where to begin.  For her, it would make the most sense to start where the earliest year was.  She quickly arranged the diaries into small stacks, from earliest to most recent.  She began with the earliest one, titled “Maple’s Diary – 2048”.

Margaret leafed through every page, trying to find a date that dealt with her great-grandmother.  She came across a page dated “March 22, 2048”.  Margaret read:

March 22, 2048

My mother has just awakened from her long winter nap.  My father just got back from the forest and told me this.  Why is her naps so long?  When I used to take naps, they were never that long.  When I asked my father about this, he told me that she needs naps like this because she’s special.

My mother spends half of the year living in the forest.  Why does she live in the forest?  I know that other mothers don’t live in the forest.  I told my other friends about this and they said that their mother lives with them.  They’re lucky to have normal mothers because I don’t feel like my mother is normal.

My father said that we will be visiting my mother tomorrow.  I am so excited to see her.  He also said that she will be staying with us until late September, when autumn begins.

I miss mother, and I have a lot of questions for her when she comes to stay with me and father.

That’s all I have to say for today.   Until tomorrow, my dear diary!

Maple

Margaret read on, leafing through the pages quickly.  She found another page that stood out. She read again:

April 3, 2048

Dear diary,

I am right.  My mother is not normal.  I am starting to get tired of asking all the questions.  Whenever I ask her about living in the forest or her long naps, she gives me the same answer as my father.  She’s special.  But what makes her so special?

I also asked her about her name.  When I asked her, she said that her name was Autumn.  It’s really a strange name, since none of the girls that I know at school have that name. 

Well, my not normal mother is calling me again. Don’t worry, diary.  We will meet again.

Always yours,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the rest of the diary, and leafed through a few more.  She then came across a page dated “June 15, 2055”.  Margaret read:

June 15, 2055

Dear diary,

The journey continues in learning the truth about my mother.  But I’m happy to say that I found someone who will help me a lot in that journey.  It’s an older woman named Jaime.  She’s the same age as my mother and she knows a lot about what happened to her.  Hopefully, things will make sense after I talk to her again.  She lives down the street from me, in the same house as my mother.  Well, my mother and father are on a date, and Jaime is coming over here.  Be back later, diary!

Well, I talked to Jaime.  I’m totally blown away with what she told me.  My mother’s real name is actually Jill, and she found this golden leaf when both her and Jaime were nine.  Since she had it, Jaime said that it transformed her into this mysterious woman named Autumn.  Everything that she told me makes sense now.

Well, sort of.  I’m still trying to sort it all out in my head.  I wish that there was something that I could do to help my mother.

I gotta go now, diary!  My mother’s calling me.  I can’t tell her about “the meeting”.  We will meet again tomorrow!

Yours forever,

Maple

On and on Margaret read.  After a few more diaries, she came across something totally shocking.  The page was dated “January 21, 2059”.  Margaret read:

January 21, 2059

Dear diary,

It is now the middle of the night, and I just had this really strange dream.  In this dream, a voice was telling me to build a strange device.  The voice said that this device would help my mother, and that one of my ancestors would be the one to save her.

I found it quite strange to have this dream tonight.  It has been exactly one month since my mother began her winter nap.  I am guessing that I had the dream now so that my mother doesn’t know.

After thinking about it, I know that this dream is definitely from God.  I have been praying and praying for a way to save my mother.  Tonight, I can say that my prayers have been answered.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin on this strange device.  From the blueprint that the voice explained to me, this is going to take a very long time to finish.  I will work on it during the fall and winter months, when mother is not living here.

On another note, finishing my psychology degree will not be necessary anymore, since I just met this lovely man who is pursuing his Ph.D. in psychology.  He is very bright and seems to like me a lot. More on all this tomorrow.  Love ya, diary!

Yours always,

Maple

Margaret leafed through the diaries.  Most of them had to do with her progress on the device and her conversations with her mother.  Over time, she learned that Maple’s mother was getting more and more suspicious, forcing Maple to be more and more cautious on the device that she was working on.

She then came across another entry that sent chills down her spine.  The date read “October 24, 2085”.  Margaret read:

October 24, 2085

Dear diary,

It just happened.  My mother is gone.  After she died, her body went into the golden leaf.  The golden leaf then vanished, materializing into traces of golden light.  From all the information I’ve gathered over the years, it has been 73 years since that leaf appeared.  The next one will appear in 27 more years, at the very spot I’m standing.

Right now, my daughter Lily is in bed.  I will not tell her about this until I am ready to.

As I am writing this, I am starting to worry.  When my mother was alive, I called her Jill ever since I found out her real name.  Before she died, she cast a spell on me.  It was a spell to turn me into a leaf.  She didn’t say when the spell would happen.  All she said was that one day, I would be turned into a leaf.

Well, I’m not going to let this bother me.  I will continue working on the egg.  Well, that’s what the device is starting to look like, at least.  I am almost done with it.  There are just some hard to find materials.  Once I find them, I can finish this egg.

My mother has lived a long hopeless life as Autumn’s puppet.  82 years have been lived, with 73 of them being stolen from her.  I am hoping that either Lily or her child can send this egg back to the past.  Only then will my mother have a better future.

It is too much for me, diary.  Goodnight!

Tearfully always yours,

Maple

Margaret began to tear up, as she read through the remaining diaries.  She finally came to the last one.  The date read “September 30, 2103”.  Full of tears, Margaret read:

September 30, 2103

Dear diary,

I have finally done it.  The egg is finished.  I will tell Lily when I return from the forest.  I go here everyday to visit my mother.  While her body may not be here, I can feel her presence.  It is not Autumn, but her.  I know it. 

Now, it is very important that either she or her daughter send it back to the past.  Lily told me that she was pregnant, and was ready to have her daughter.  When she is ready to have her, I will visit.  I look forward to hearing the g

And that was the last thing that Maple wrote.  The entry was not even finished, something that really troubled Margaret.

The one thing that troubled Margaret even more was the date.  After studying the date, it hit her.  September 30, 2103 was the exact date that she was born.

Margaret frantically looked around in the attic for the egg.  Hopefully, it would be here, considering her current house was different than Maple’s.  In the far end of the attic by the window, Margaret found something that was covered in a large sheet of plastic.  Margaret removed the plastic.  There the egg sat.  On its interior, it looked like some kind of cockpit.  The egg was translucent on the inside with a polished white sheen on the outside.

Upon touching the egg, it lit up, like some sophisticated machine.  A holographic display then came out of the egg, displaying some words and numbers.

“Please enter date, time and location?” Margaret read.  “October 21, 2012.  5:47 p.m.” Margaret than entered the exact coordinates for the tall tree as it was listed on her Multiasker.

After entering the coordinates, one more message appeared.  It read “Record your message.  Say ‘begin recording’ when you are ready.”

Knowing that she was running out of time, Margaret quickly thought about her message.  While she did this, she reached into her white dress and pulled out the golden leaf.  Finally, she was ready.  “Record message.” Margaret ordered.

“To the one originally called Jill,” Margaret began.  “This message is for you.  From researching my ancestors, I have found that you are my great-grandmother.  In looking at your history, I have found that we share the same fate.  Autumn has already tainted you, and she is beginning to do the same with me.  I have found this golden leaf, and I wish that I never had.  It is her vessel.  This is what she told me.”

“Now I know that your name is not Jill anymore since she renamed you with her name.  She has not done this with me yet, which is why I am acting quickly.  While I am still in my right mind, I am executing a last-ditch effort to change history.  That sphere that you see before you is an egg.  Now I need you to enter that egg.  It is the only way that you can kill Autumn.  Your body, however will die with her.”

“But don’t think this is the end.  In place of your old body, the egg will hatch and your new body will be born.  It will be just like your old body, only you won’t have Autumn inside you anymore.”

“Please take heed, Jill.  Autumn will not stand anywhere near that egg, for she fears its power.  But you must fight her.  Fight like you’ve never fought before.  I know you can win.”

“Well, my mind is beginning to fail me.  I am beginning to feel her influence even stronger now as I’m recording this.  I hope that this egg and this message gets to your time period.  I love you very much and I hope that this ripple that I’m creating is enough to effect time.  Your great-granddaughter, Margaret.”

Just as the last word left her mouth, the egg immediately vanished.

“Where is that wretched egg?” Margaret screamed.  “I need to destroy it!”

Margaret then shook her head.  “No Autumn!” she shouted.  “I did the right thing, and history is going to be changed because of it!”

Once again, Margaret continued fighting Autumn.  “No!  I will not….let you….con…trol…..m….eee……”

And just like that, Margaret transformed.  Her hair extended and became orange and gold.  Her body shrunk a few inches and her white dress was now full of autumn colors.  The golden leaf was now grafted to her body, with a network of barely visable roots branching out in every direction.

Margaret’s countenance changed.  Instead of looking stubborn, she now wore a pleasant expression on her face.  “My new form suits me well….” she said, smiling.

She then heard someone climbing the stairs.  It was her mother.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” she said, gasping.  “I heard you scream.  Is there anything….” Her mother glanced at Margaret.  “Oh my goodness!  Margaret honey!  Autumn is starting to control you!”

“Mother,” Margaret told her.  “My name is not Margaret anymore.  I don’t like that name.  I hate it.  I really do, mother.  Do you know what name I like?”

Her mother shook her head in disbelief.  “No, honey….”

Her daughter stared at her with a smile on her face.  “Do you?”

Lily was now crying.  “No! No Margaret dear!  No!”

The daughter nodded.  “Yes mother.  I will tell you, since you don’t want to say it.  I like the name Autumn.  This is my name now, and what you will call me from now on…..”

Her mother sighed, still upset.  “Autumn?”

“Yes,” Autumn said, nodding.  “You will learn to love this name, like my great-grandmother did.”

Her mother was now angry.  “But you’re Margaret!” she shouted.  “I will never call you Autumn!”

Autumn faked a frown.  “You won’t?” she said coldly.  “You will have to, or I will turn you into a leaf.”

But the mother refused.  “No Margaret dear,” she argued.  “You will always be my Margaret!”

Autumn grinned.  “Well, let me tell you a secret then.  Do you remember your mother Maple?  I cast a spell on her before she died.  One day, you couldn’t find her.  Do you want to know why?”

“Why?” the mother shouted.

“That is because your mother turned into a leaf,” she answered.  “And this happened on the very day that your daughter was born.  And now, you will be joining her.  Farewell, Lily….”

Before the mother could scream anymore, she became a bright orange leaf.

“A lily colored leaf,” Autumn said with a smile.  “How nice.  I will now return to my real home.”

Autumn became a pile of leaves, and blew herself in a strong gust of wind all the way to the Forest Sanctuary.  When she got to the tall tree, she was upset.

“Too small,” Autumn said, complaining.  “I can barely live in this glass spot!”

Autumn raised her hands, which caused various trees to spring out of the ground.  Several of them broke through the glass dome.  Around the whole perimeter, trees sprang up everywhere, breaking through the glass.

“I will not be limited to this plot of land!” Autumn shouted.  “This wretched city looks ugly too!”

After a few more trees sprung up, the glass dome collapsed.  Chunks of glass fell to the ground, shattering everywhere.  But Autumn didn’t stop there.  When the glass dome was down, more trees sprang through the skyscrapers, causing many of them to collapse.  Autumn continued doing this to every city block.  When she was finished, the entire city was a vast, sprawling forest.

“Now this is the way I remembered it,” Autumn said with a smile.

Autumn sat at the base of the tall tree, staring at the bright moon above her.  Staring at fields and neighborhoods, it left Autumn unsatisfied.  The city was only the beginning….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #110

Photo Finish

The car careened around the corner, darting around various cars.  The air conditioner was on full blast and some easy listening music was playing.  While this was happening, a series of flashes came from the car.

“Just a few more,” Elliot whispered as he was approaching a stop light.

Click. Click.  A few more flashes came from the car.

Elliot glanced at his watch and sighed.  This was going to be just like last time.  He could already envision it.

The light turned green and Elliot pounded his foot onto the accelerator.  He took the wheel in one hand while taking pictures with the other.  He aimed with his right hand to try to get the shots as straight as possible.

Elliot finally arrived at the magazine publisher.  He pushed on the button to take another picture.  Nothing happened.

He then inspected the camera and noticed that his memory card was full.

How could the card be full already?  It was only empty last night!  Elliot unzipped a pouch to reveal a Ziploc bag containing a small pile of memory cards.  They were all in cases, each holding two gigabytes.  The cards were also color-coded, with round stickers that indicated the card’s status.  Green for empty and red for full.

Elliot reached into the pouch and pulled out the stickers.  He peeled off the green sticker off the case and replaced it with a red sticker.  He then put a new card into the camera and ran into the building.

This is going to happen again!  Elliot felt a lump in his throat.  He darted through the hallway.  He almost dropped his camera, but quickly grasped it.  He entered the room, dreading what would happen next.

“Stevens, you’re late again!”  The words pierced right through Elliot.

Elliot looked at his boss and sighed.  “I…I have the pictures.”

The boss shook his head and sipped some coffee.  “That’s nice, Stevens.  But you’re still late.  It’s important that you show up on time so that the order of things can be maintained.”

“Yes, Mr. Pellbrant…” Elliot nodded, adjusting his glasses.

“Order is very important for things here to run like clockwork,” Mr. Pellbrant continued.  “When you show up late, you disrupt that order and you hold up the work for the editors.  You understand that it’s crunch time, and that the magazine will go to print tomorrow morning.  This makes your punctuality all the more important.

“You know, Stevens, that on any normal circumstance, I would fire you.  However, this magazine cannot afford to lose someone as talented as you are.  You are one of the best photographers that our magazine has.

“Just listen, Stevens.  The tardiness has to stop.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes,” Elliot gulped.  “C-crystal clear…Mr. Pellbrant.”

The boss dismissed Elliot to give him time to work on his proofs to give to the photo editors.

Who begins to show up late for work like this?  It was never like this before. Elliot printed off a few proofs and stacked them on his desk.

Elliot turned on his camera and pointed it at his face.  Click. Click.  The sound was pleasant.  The click.  The flash.  It was the perfect combination.  The art of capturing time and confining it in a box was truly splendid.

Elliot sat down his camera and worked on some more proofs.  Beaches.  Piers.  Downtown.  All the shots were there.  He finished the proofs and handed them to the editors.  The editors selected the pictures they liked.  Elliot then transferred those pictures to the magazine’s server.

The work was done.  There was a sunset in the distance, which prompted Elliot to pull out his camera.  All the angles were captured, and the camera was put away.

The car merged onto the interstate.  Elliot captured a shot of the interstate sign.  It was the main artery of traffic that ran through the state: The 5.

Elliot turned up the radio.  It was still playing easy listening music.  He was still driving and taking pictures.

Suddenly, a dark object appeared in the distance.  It looked like a car, sitting in the middle of the road.

Elliot applied his brakes.  UUUURRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!  The car stopped just inches from the busted car.

Elliot grabbed his camera and shot a whole bunch of pictures.  There was glass missing from the windshield.  The whole car was mangled like a wad of paper.

Several cars stopped behind Elliot’s car and a few sounded their horns.  How did this happen?  What caused the incident?  Elliot could not figure it out.

Elliot then looked up and saw a broken guardrail on the over pass just above him.  He snapped a few more pictures of what he saw.

In moments, Elliot heard sirens and more horns honking.  There was no pileup.  No fender-bender. No collision.  Just one red Toyota Camry, lying on the California interstate, damaged beyond recognition.

The emergency squad pulled the driver out of the busted vehicle.  The person was an old man, covered in blood.  They felt around for a pulse.

“This one’s dead,” A man from the squad said.

Elliot stood there, taking pictures of them carrying the old man into an EMS unit.  One of the men looked back at Elliot and frowned.

“Do you mind?” The man sighed.  “This man just died!  All you can do is just stand there and take pictures.  Do you have a press pass?”

“No I don’t,” Elliot told him.  “I just shoot pictures for a magazine.”

The man shook his head. “Then I would appreciate it if you didn’t take anymore pictures.  Have you any sympathy?”

“I’m sorry.  I just find this quite exciting.”

The man shook his head and joined the rest of the emergency squad.

Elliot got back in his car and followed the police, who was directing traffic around the accident scene.  He shot a few more pictures before the scene was out of view.

Elliot arrived at home and parked his car.  He still couldn’t figure out why an old man would drive over the guardrail.  Was he senile or getting too old to drive?

Elliot opened the door.  The wife stood there in the living room, frowning.

“Where were you, Elliot?” She sighed.  “I was starting to get worried.”

Elliot adjusted his glasses and stared at her. “There was an accident.”

“An accident? Was anyone hurt?”

“This old man died.  Come and take a look.”

Elliot turned on his camera and showed her all the pictures of the accident.

The wife looked at Elliot.  He could see the tears beginning to form in her eyes.  “This was on Interstate 5?”

“Yes it was.”

Elliot picked up his camera and took some pictures.

The wife looked right at Elliot’s camera.  “What are you doing?”

“I am just taking some more pictures.”

“Pictures,” she scowled.  “That’s all you care about.  You could care less about that man or anyone.”

“It’s just another moment.”

“That’s the problem, Elliot.  To you, everything is a moment!  How about reflecting on any of them for once?”

“I must get another angle over here and…”

“Are you listening to me?  Put that stupid camera down and listen to me!”

“I am listening to you!” Elliot shouted.  “It’s just that these moments only last for a short time!”

The wife shook her head.  “You know what?  Just take your damn moments and get out of here!  This is one of the last moments you will be seeing me!”

The wife ran into the bedroom sobbing and slammed the door.

Elliot let out a deep sigh.  Bridget…  Why did I do this to her?

He knew that the house did not belong to him.  Bridget bought this house.  It was her third year of practicing medicine.  Elliot, on the other hand, could not pay the bills with his job alone.

Elliot entered one of the bathrooms and took a shower.  He then plopped down on the couch and fell asleep.

Elliot woke up and glanced at his watch.  7:15. Great.  I’m 15 minutes late!

He scooped up his camera and bolted out the door.  He took a few pictures of the house and sped off in the car.

The car zoomed down the interstate.  The air conditioning was on full blast and the radio was playing easy listening music.  With the magazine coming out today, lost time had to be made up.

Elliot merged over to the lane on his right and took some more pictures.  Elliot heard a honk in the distance, and suddenly noticed a car approaching him fast from behind.

The driver behind him started to apply the brakes, but it was too late.  Elliot did the only thing that he could do at the last minute.  He swung the steering wheel to the right, hoping to avoid him.

Instead, the car rolled against the guardrail, overlooking a complex system of interchanges.  The guardrail snapped and the car rolled off the overpass.

At that moment, everything became a blur to Elliot.  He remembered his 10th birthday.  The gift was a camera and some film.  He remembered the joy he had when he first received that camera.  He went all over the neighborhood, taking pictures of everything that he could.

Elliot now understood why that old man died.  It was a moment.  Life is a moment.  You live and then die. It is not long.

Elliot thought of his wife one more time.  Oh, how he wanted to kiss her!  The sweet embrace and the blessing of another moment was all he needed right now.  He just wanted to say sorry…

The car plummeted toward the busy freeway below.

“I’m sorry,” Elliot sobbed.

Elliot let go of his camera.  The car smashed into the freeway.  The engine exploded and the car blew up.  The flash from the explosion could be seen in the distance as one drove through the California interstate.

______

©2004  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #109

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part III

Something woke up Margaret in the middle of the night.  It was a strong gust of wind.  After realizing her window was shut, she looked around, trying to find the source of the wind.  She then noticed that it was coming from the golden leaf.  Her room was now lit with a strong yet faint golden glow.

Margaret then heard a voice.  The voice was subtle and quiet.  It was a gentle whisper that was just like the wind.

Margaret…. the voice whispered.

Instead of feeling scared, Margaret felt comforted by the voice.  It sounded familiar to her….  “Who are you?” she asked it.

A gentle gust flowed through Margaret’s hair.  I am you…. the voice whispered.

Margaret shook her head.  “You can’t be me,” she told the voice.  “If you were me, you would look exactly like me.  I don’t see anyone around here, so this can’t be true.”

The golden leaf’s light became brighter, and an even stronger gust of wind blew at Margaret.  I am you….!  The voice shouted in a loud whisper.

Margaret smiled.  “For you to be me, you would have to know who I am.  You would have to know pretty much everything about me in general.  Do you know who I am?”

Silence.

“Do you?” Margaret said louder, challenging the voice.

The strong wind became violent.  So violent that it knocked Margaret down on her bed.  The voice then spoke, in a rather quick, stern and quiet tone.   I am you, and you are me.  Just give it time, and you will see.

Margaret’s face lit up.  “A riddle? I love riddles!  And it won’t take me time to figure this out.  Trust me….”

A few minutes passed as Margaret thought about the riddle.  In her head, she kept repeating the words “I am you, and you are me”.   “I am you,” she repeated.  “And you are me?”

Moments later, she got it.  “I am you,” she repeated again.  “That means that I will become who you are.  You are me.  That means that you will become who I am….”  At this, she gasped.  “But who are you, then?”

A playful breeze hit Margaret’s face.  I am you….the voice said.  Don’t you see?

Margaret then thought about the riddle again.  “Oh yeah!” she gasped.  “The last line!  ‘Just give it time, and you will see.’ That means that I am not you yet.  But I will be….”

Then it hit her.  “Wait!” She said, gasping.  “Are you the one that my mother was talking about?  Autumn?”

The wind blew back Margaret’s hair.  You figured it out….The voice told her.  I am Autumn, and you will be soon….

Margaret shook her head in confusion.  “Does that mean that you’re my great-grandmother?”

The voice laughed.  That’s who I was.  But now, I need a new host.  You’re a pretty smart girl and you will suit me well….

Margaret was now shocked.  “Is this what you did to my great-grandmother?” She quietly shouted, careful not to wake her mother.  “You possessed her, and ruined her life!  You will not use my body, you wretched nymph!”

Autumn let out a sigh of laughter.  I’m afraid that it’s too late for that.  Both you and your great-grandmother did not learn their lesson.  Both of you took the leaf out of the forest.  That golden leaf is my vessel.  Now, how would you like it if someone took your bed out of your room….?

Margaret shook her head and took the defensive.  “I didn’t know,” she firmly stated.  “To me, it was just a beautiful leaf!  There wasn’t a sign anywhere that said “Do NOT take this leaf!”.

The wind began to pick up.  As smart as you are, you should’ve left it alone.  But thank you very much, Margaret, for letting me use your body.  I will enjoy it very much, and pretty soon, so will you…..

Margaret gasped.  “But I didn’t tell you that….”

A calm wind blew on Margaret’s face.  Again, thank you….and good night…..

Margaret’s face saddened.  She was thinking about crying, but she knew that this wouldn’t make things any better.  Thinking about what her mother said earlier, she tried to find something that she could do to resolve this problem.

Then she heard it.  The voice of her mother saying “Read the diaries, honey.”

The diaries….” she whispered.  “I’ll read them tomorrow….

Margaret, now calmer, got underneath the covers.  The golden leaf blew into her left hand and rested there.  Knowing that it would be futile to remove it, Margaret let it lay there.

A faint glow emanated from the golden leaf, It covered Margaret, filling her and the room with golden light….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #108

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn – Part II

Margaret stood there, gazing at the golden leaf.  As she stood there, the leaves began to blow in a circular motion, until they were making circles around her.  There was something about the leaf that she couldn’t put into words.  Words could not explain what she was feeling right now.  To her, the leaf felt familiar to her.  She couldn’t explain why.  It just felt that way.

As Margaret remained in awe at the golden leaf that she was holding, a loud beep came from her Multitasker, and a holographic image of her mother projected out of it.

“Margaret, it’s almost 7:00.” Her mother said with a sigh.

This snapped Margaret out of her reverie.  Or perhaps it was a different state of mind or a trance.  It didn’t matter what it was.  All Margaret knew was that she was late.  She looked at her Multitasker.  “Display time.” she ordered.

The Multitasker projected a holographic image of a digital clock.  The time was 6:57 p.m.  “Oh mother!” she said, gasping.  “I’m very sorry!  I was having too much fun….”

“I’m glad that you did, sweetheart.” her mother said, smiling.  “Now….”

“And then I found something that was truly amazing!” Margaret interrupted.  “I’ll be home shortly.  Bye!”

The holographic image of her mother vanished, and Margaret began running towards the exit of the forest sanctuary.  As she was running, she held the golden leaf tightly in her hand.
Such a lovely leaf,” she whispered, in labored breaths.  “Can’t wait to show mother….

Margaret came to the exit of the Forest Sanctuary.  She exited the door she entered, and ran back to the crowded plaza nearby.  She found the coordinates for home and scanned them in, using her Multitasker.  She then pressed the button and was transported to Cypress Street, the road that ran down the subdivision where she lived.

From there, she ran down the street, back toward her house.  27842 was the house number that she stopped at.  She concealed the leaf and approached the door.

Upon opening the door, there her mother stood, with a frown on her face.  “Margaret dear!” she shouted.  “What took you so long?  I was starting to worry!”

Margaret, still short of breath, stared at her mother, smiling.  “I’m….very sorry….mother….” she gasped.

Her mother gave her a hug.  “I’m not mad at you.” she told her.  “I was just worried.  Now dear.  You seem to be quite exhausted.  Now I want you to catch your breath, and then we can talk.  Okay?”

Margaret nodded, still gasping for air.  “Thank you….mother….”

Margaret sat on the sofa for a few minutes and waited for her breathing to return to normal.  Her mother quietly sat there, watching her daughter.

Finally, Margaret’s breathing was normal.  She then stood up and approached her mother.  “Now mother,” she announced, “The Forest Sanctuary was a lot of fun.  I took your advice and I used my imagination.  I created several imaginary friends and we all had fun.  Too bad they all had to leave.”

Her mother nodded.  “Well, that’s your imagination, honey.  They can come and go as much as they please if you want them to.”

An even bigger smile began to form on Margaret’s face.  “Now mother….” she announced.  “The reason why I was so late was because I found this.”  She reached inside the top of her dress and pulled out a golden leaf.  “I found this beautiful leaf in the Forest Sanctuary.  Doesn’t it look amazing?”

At this, her mother gasped.  A sudden feeling of fear began to grip her tightly.  “Where did you say you found that again?”

“I found it in the Forest Sanctuary, under a really big tree!” she told her.  “Is there something wrong?”

A sudden look of anxiety began to fill her mother’s face.  “Yes honey,” she said, her voice quavering.  “It’s that leaf that you’re holding.  Get rid of it!”

Margaret brought both of her palms together, holding the golden leaf in the center.  She then looked back at her mother and frowned.  “Why, mother? What’s wrong with this leaf?”

The mother, still nervous, made a waving gesture at her daughter.  “Sit down honey, and I will tell you.  And please put that leaf away.  I…I don’t want to see it.”

Margaret nodded, and placed the leaf back inside her dress. She then sat down next to her mother.  “Now what’s wrong with it, mother?  I think it’s a beautiful leaf.”

Her mother shook her head.  “That leaf is dangerous, and I’ll tell you why.  It affected my grandmother.”

Margaret gasped.  “Your grandmother?  How?”

The mother let out a deep sigh.  “Well….first of all, she’s your great-grandmother.  Now I don’t remember this happening very well.  When I was your age, she died.  After that, her body went inside a golden leaf.  It was a leaf just like the one you have. My mother told me all this since I wasn’t there when my grandmother died.”

Margaret shook her head.  “That’s sad….Now mother, what was my great-grandmother like?”

The mother sighed again.  “I don’t remember much about her, honey.  Now my mother told me a lot about her.  She said that she wasn’t acting herself and that she lived in the forest.” The mother then stared at Margaret directly in the face.  “Now listen to me, dear.  Because of my grandmother, my mother was crazy.  Trying to cure my grandmother was the only thing she spent her whole life doing.  She wrote in her diaries, filling them with notes from everyone that was able to provide information about her.  She even talked to my great-grandmother and my grandmother’s friend.”

“What was her name?”

“Whose name, honey?”

“Your grandmother.”

The mother paused.  Finally she said, “her name is Autumn.”

Margaret gasped.  “Autumn?  That’s an interesting name.”

The mother grabbed a tissue and wiped some sweat off her brow.  “She does have a real name, but I’ll let you figure that out yourself.  Her diaries are upstairs in the attic.  I’ll let you take a look at them.”

Margaret sat there, her face frozen.  She was dumbfounded.  “Why was your mother crazy?” she finally said.

The mother shook her head.  “She was crazy because of all the crazy things that she wrote.  One thing that she claimed to see was this strange vision.  It told her to do something.  That’s all I’ll tell you.  Read the diaries, honey.”

Margaret nodded.  “Okay mother.  I will.”  After that, she sat there, thinking.  “Why don’t we ever visit your mother, I mean, my grandmother?”

When the mother heard this, she burst into tears.  “It’s because she’s gone, honey.  She disappeared on the day you were born, and I haven’t been able to find her since.”

Margaret sat there, silent, watching her mother cry.  Of all the nine years that she has been alive, she has never seen her cry like this.  After she cried for a while, she blew her nose with a tissue.  After that, she felt a little better.

Finally, Margaret stood up.  “I’m going off to bed.” she told her.  “I’m a little tired.”

Lily gasped.  “Without dinner?”

Margaret sighed.  “I’m not hungry, so goodnight!”

“Good night, dear!” her mother said, smiling.  As her daughter was about to go upstairs, she gasped.  “Get rid of that leaf too, honey!  Return it to where you found it!”

Margaret nodded, both feet on the first step.  “I’ll do it tomorrow, mother!”

Margaret walked upstairs and got ready for bed.  While she was doing this, she left the golden leaf on her dresser in her bedroom.  After getting ready, she put on her light blue nightgown.  She then grabbed the golden leaf and sat on her bed, resting the leaf on her lap.

She stared carefully at the leaf and sighed.  The leaf continued to glow, flashing its golden light into her eyes.  “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.  “What could be so bad about this?”

Margaret placed the golden leaf underneath the covers.  She then turned off the light and crawled underneath the covers.  Grasping the leaf, she held it in her hand, pulling the covers with her other hand until just her face was showing, resting on the pillow.

Margaret then fell fast asleep, with the light from the leaf emanating from her clutched hand.   The light grew and grew, until her entire room was greeted by its radiance….

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #107

The Golden Leaf: Autumn Reborn

Margaret sat in her room on her bed, holding what looked like some black box.  Letting out a deep sigh, she spoke into it.

“Record,” she instructed the box.

“Margaret’s Video Diary,” Margaret spoke.  “Friday, October 14, 2112.  1:04 p.m.  It is official.  I have officially died of boredom.”

At that point, Margaret almost burst into tears, but she held her composure.  “What’s a nine-year old like me supposed to do when there’s no one to play with?  I have uploaded all my lessons for today and watched all the required lessons.  All of my homework for the weekend is already done and has been sent to the Greenville Elementary Learning Network Server.  This neighborhood has no other kids that I can become friends with.  There are students, but they are all much older than me, and would rather not associate with a ‘kid’ like me.”

Margaret pounded her fist into her comforter.  She then crossed her arms on her lavender dress and pouted.  The tears, one by one, began flowing down her face.  She was so upset that she forgot that she was recording.  By the time she realized this, her dress was slightly damp with tears.  Her face reddened in embarrassment.

“Excuse me,” Margaret said, crying.  “End recording.”

Margaret than heard a knock on the door.  “Come in,” she whimpered, as she brought her face to her knees.

The door opened, and her mother, Lily stood there wearing a dress that was similar to Margaret’s.  The dress also reflected Lily’s stature.  When she saw Margaret, she was greatly surprised.  “What’s wrong, Margaret dear?”

Margaret buried her face in her hands and continued weeping.  “I am extremely bored, mother.”

The mother sat down beside Margaret and gave her a pat on her shoulder.  “There there, sweetheart.  There’s plenty to do around here.  Have you completed all your homework, and lessons for the day?”

Margaret gave a soft nod.  And continued crying.  Her eye contact was directed at her feet, away from her mother.  “I don’t have any friends, mother.  And the older students don’t want to be friends with me.”

Her mother sighed, and looked at her daughter.  There was no face for her to look at.  Just a large unkempt strand of brown hair.  Margaret was now looking downward, at her dress and her knees.  She patted her daughter again.  “Look at me honey, and stop crying.” she pleaded.

Margaret sighed and looked up.  She saw her mother, staring at her.  She felt a sense of longing coming from her.  “Oh mother!” she cried.  And then she threw her arms around her mother and gripped her in tight embrace.

Her mother smiled.  “There we go, Margaret dear.” she said, using a soft tone.  “Now you tell me that you’re bored.  What about your video games?”

Margret released her embrace and shook her head.  “I have already played every single game that is approved for someone my age,” she told her.  “Every single one bores me now.”

At that statement, her mother was speechless.  Margaret too, had no words to say, until a troubling thought entered her mind.

“Why doesn’t daddy ever come home?” Margaret complained.  “He’s always on business and he’s never around!”

Her mother nodded, and she hugged her daughter again.  “I miss him too, honey.  But remember.  He doesn’t want to know that you’re unhappy.  If you should be happy for anyone, be happy for him.”

Margaret nodded and sighed.  “I’ll try.  But it won’t be easy with nothing to do.”

The mother gasped, and then smiled.  It was as if a light bulb went off in her head.  “I just thought of something, my dear.” she told her daughter.  “Why don’t you play outside?  I heard that children used to do this a long time ago.”

“But mother,” Margaret sighed.  “Where would I play?  In pretty much every public area, playing is prohibited.  Just recently, they demolished the last playground in the city, because no one showed any interest playing in it.”

But her mother continued to smile, completely unmoved by what her daughter said.  “I know that, honey.” she said.  “But I’m not referring to those areas.  What I had in mind is that Forest Sanctuary.  From my understanding, you can still play in a spot like that.”

Margaret gave her a strange look.  “By myself?  Who would I play with?”

“Use your imagination.” she told her.  “When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Lissie.  Me and Lissie did everything together.  Of course we parted ways eventually, but she was definitely fun to play with.”

Margaret nodded.  “It sounds weird, but I’ll give it a try, mother.  I’ll be back later!”

Her mother stood up and got out a black box like Margaret’s.  “Okay.  Be back at 6:30.  Set alarm ‘6:30 p.m.’ to Margaret’s Multitasker. Have fun, honey!”

Margaret nodded, and left her room.   Her mother followed her, then walked into the master bedroom.

After Margaret left her room, she approached the landing.  From the landing was a spiral staircase leading down to the living room, which led into the great room.  Margraret went down the stairs, walked through the great room and exited the house.

Margaret walked down the street to the end of the subdivision.  The lights were on in various houses, with everyone unwilling to leave them.  She approached an intersection, where a teleporter sat.  Across the street led to another subdivision.  To her left, the street led on, with more subdivisions branching on either side, until it eventually turned into local businesses.  To her right, it was pretty much the same thing, only that street eventually led downtown.

Margaret found the coordinates to the Forest Sanctuary and scanned them into the teleporter.  After the scan, the teleporter automatically entered the coordinates.

She was about to teleport when some older guy approached her.  To her, he looked like a high-schooler.

“Where are you going, miss?” he asked her.

Margaret hesitated, and then sighed.  “My mother always told me to never talk to strangers,” she boldly asserted.”

The guy looked at her and laughed.  “Really?” he shouted.  “That is so old-fashioned!  Now look.  You can trust me.  I’m not like those hoodlums at night.  Where are you going?”

At this point, Margaret was getting impatient.  Giving in, she let out a sigh.  “Okay.” she told him.  “I’m going to the Forest Sanctuary.”

The high-schooler laughed again.  “You’re going THERE?  Nobody goes to that boring place.  I’m going to the abandoned mall, so I can see where people used to shop.  Later!”

At that, the high-schooler scanned in his location with his Multitasker and pressed the button.  The teleporter enveloped him in a beam and he was gone.

Margaret shrugged her shoulders and pressed the button on the teleporter.  In just a split-second, she appeared downtown, in a busy plaza.  The Forest Sanctuary was nearby, which everyone walked past.

Margaret approached the Forest Sanctuary.  It was inside a large glass dome, which covered even the tallest tree.  Surrounded by the 300 acres of domed forest was the city.  Highrises and various skyscrapers dwarfed over it.

Margaret entered the Forest Sanctuary.  From what she learned in her history lessons, she was well aware that trees were becoming more and more scarce in the world today.  With urbanization happening everywhere, a measure was taken to protect the forests that still remained.  With the Forest Haven Act, which was passed in 2073, every city was required to set aside a designated haven of trees.  This would prevent America’s supply of trees from going extinct.

As she walked around, she smiled.  For a second, she forgot that there was even a city around her.  She suddenly remembered when she looked up and saw the skyscrapers that stood much higher than the dome.

For the next few hours, Margaret played in the forest.  Since she had no friends, she took her mother’s advice.  She made up her own.  With her “friends”, she jumped into the colorful leaves that dropped from the various trees around her.

Margaret then approached a very tall tree.  It was taller than all the others, with gnarled branches and gnarled roots.  As she was doing this, her alarm went off.  All of her imaginary friends left her and she was left alone, face to face with a giant tree.

After taking it in for a while, Margaret began to leave, but something made her stop.  It was a flash.  A flash that came from a large pile of leaves at the base of the tree.

Curiosity got the best of Margaret, so she got down on her knees and began digging through the pile, scattering as many leaves as she could.

After scattering a few more clumps of leaves, Margaret found it.  The flash was coming from a golden leaf.  One that flashed its new glow brightly and proudly.  What a discovery!

Margaret lifted up the leaf and let it rest in the palm of her left hand.  The flash came out of the leaf again.  This time, it was brighter.  It was as if the flash was granting her approval.  The flash continued, glowing brighter and brighter until it covered her body…..

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #106

Paralyzed

Amy cruised down the highway in her Lexus sedan.  The sun was shining and all that she could think about was the good news that her company received the other day. The good news was that Pholtage, their communications company had recently made a new acquisition.  With another communications company under their belt, Pholtage would see record profits this quarter.

It was a buyout, Amy thought.  Of all the decisions that the board of directors have made, this was their best one yet. Everyone in upper level management will receive a nice bonus for pulling this off.  This should pay for that week in Waikiki.  Amy turned up the smooth jazz that was playing from the radio.

Not too long after that, Amy felt a buzz in her pocket.  Keeping her right hand clutched on the wheel, Amy grabbed her Pholtage cell phone and answered it.

“Hello.” Amy answered.  “Uh-huh…What?  Our client is there already?”

A brief pause.  “He’s early?  What do you mean he’s early? He’s been waiting for that long? Yes, I’m almost there, okay?  Just give me a few minutes!”

Another pause.  “Yes.  Next year’s budget is all finished!  I’ll see you in a little bit.  Bye.”

Amy hung up and stuck the phone back in her pocket.  Being vice president of finances sure has its ups and downs.  Sure, the pay is great but sometimes the unexpected happens.  Bad quarters can happen, deals can fall through, or a client can show up early for a financial meeting.  He wasn’t supposed to be this early.  Oh well…

Amy came up to the intersection.  The light just turned red before she could even go through it.  Great.  This is not what I need today.

She glanced at her watch.  Fifteen minutes until the meeting actually started.  It was still plenty of time.  It will be fine.  They’re probably making small talk with him right now.

Amy passed a gas station, a gift shop, and a handful of fast food places as she continued in the next mile.

As she passed another gas station, she approached another intersection.  The light turned red again and Amy stopped her car.  Not again.  Twelve more minutes and only a mile to go.

She noticed a stout man crossing the crosswalk in front of her wearing a t-shirt and some tattered jeans.  He was carrying a newspaper and what looked like a Styrofoam cup of coffee.  Amy stared up at the light.  “Could you just change already?”

Two others crossed the street.  A mother crossed with her daughter.  She was carrying a brown grocery bag while the daughter was carrying a juicebox.  Amy drummed her finger on the dashboard.

The light turned green.  Finally!  Amy started to take off when she noticed a car from her side rapidly approaching her.  She was about to go faster when the car zoomed toward her.  The next sound Amy could hear was the sound of glass breaking.

***

Amy heard a series of beeps.  She felt some pain on her temple and cheeks.  She flinched, turning her face and noticed that she was hooked up to an EKG.  She looked up and saw her husband Will standing there, with their son and daughter.

“You’re finally awake!”  Will said.

Amy looked at him and sighed.  I don’t know why I am here, she thought.  “How long have I unconscious?”

Will walked closer to her bed.  “It has been about five hours.  I’m just glad to see you alive!”

Amy tried to sit up, but she couldn’t move.  She pressed her hands on the mattress and tried to prop herself up.

“Use the remote,” Will suggested.

Amy picked up the remote and inspected it.  She found the button that elevated the back of the bed and pressed it.

She looked at her body, which was covered in bandages.  “What happened to me, Will?”

Will stared at her, who looked confused.  “You were just involved in a major accident.”

“Accident?  How did I end up here?  What did the accident do to me?”

Natalie, the younger daughter, stared at Amy’s bed.  “Hang in there,” she sniffed.

Tyler, the older son, shrugged his shoulders and blew his nose with a Kleenex.  “You will be okay, mom.”

Will turned to both of them.  “Can I talk to mom alone for a few minutes?  I’ll go get you guys and we can all see her after I talk to her, alright?”

“Okay,” they both said in unison.

Tyler and Natalie left the room and sat on the chairs outside.

Will walked up close to Amy’s bed and stared at her, wiping tears off his eyes.  “This may be really hard to accept, but you were seriously injured.”

Amy looked at Will with confusion.  “How was I seriously injured?”

Will looked at her legs and then he brushed the steams of tears off his face.  “This is really hard for me to say,” he said, choking back a sob.  “You have a spinal cord injury! You are paralyzed!”

Will continued sobbing and hugged Amy, who was now beginning to cry.

Amy shook her head and sighed.  Paralyzed?  This can not be happening!  What about work?  What about the meeting with the client?  And what about the freedom of mobility?  Amy looked at all the wires that were connected to her and began to bawl.  She tried to move her legs but nothing moved.  “I can’t move, Will!” She wailed.  “I can’t move!”

Will continued hugging her, and stared at her closely.  He tried to say something but no words came out.  He then heard himself say “Oh honey!”

Amy stared at Will, sobbing.  Why did this happen?  She was unable to move the lower half of her body.  She became a paraplegic in just a few hours!  What is going on at work?  How are they faring without her?  “What about my job?”  She sniffed.  “How am I going to work again?  Will I ever be able to walk again?  Tell me, Will!  Will I be able to walk?”

Will grabbed a chair nearby and placed it next to Amy.  He sat down.  “Your job would be the last thing I would be worrying about.  You can call them and explain the situation.  I don’t know if you’re going to be able to walk again.  The doctor still needs to look at all the x-rays.

“Who hit me?” she asked.

“The police told me that it was some young guy.  I left work and I came right over to the accident scene after I got the call.”

Amy scratched her right cheek near the bandaged spot.  “Who was this young guy?”

“The police identified him as Stewart Faulkner.”  Will said.  “He said that they found a quarter pound of marijuana in his car.  Some people that saw the accident said that the car ran through the stop light, but was beginning to slow down.”

Amy shook her head.  “That kid ruined my future.”

Will sighed.  “No he hasn’t.  We can hire a lawyer and sue his family.  Everything will be okay.”

“That won’t fix the problem.  All the money in the world won’t bring my mobility back.”

Will sat and stared at her for a while.  He kneeled down and embraced her.  “Oh honey.  I don’t know why this had to happen to you.  I know that you can’t walk anymore, but you need to count your blessings.  I’m just happy that you’re alive.”

Amy sighed.  It’s true that I’m alive, she thought.  But why do I have to remain alive like this?  Was it some sort of punishment?  Was anyone wronged in the past?  Where did this bad karma come from?

Amy grabbed a Kleenex and blew her nose.  “I want to see our kids.”

Will stood up from his chair.  “I’ll go get them.”

Will left the room and motioned his kids to come back inside.

“Is mom going to be alright?” Natalie asked Will.

Tyler rolled his eyes at Natalie.  “He doesn’t know that.  He knows as much as we know.”

Natalie and Tyler walked over to Amy’s bedside.  “How are you, mom?”  Tyler asked.

Amy flinched, and grabbed another Kleenex.  “My face is sore.”

“Would you feel better if I hugged you?”  Natalie asked.

Amy blew her nose.  “Yes.  Mommy would really appreciate that.”

Natalie kneeled down and hugged her.  Tyler kneeled down and did the same.

Will walked over near the kids as the nurse came through the door, holding a clipboard.  “Amy Thatcher?  The doctor will be seeing you shortly.”

A few minutes later, the doctor came into the room, holding a file and a notebook.  He walked over to Amy’s bedside.  “I see that Amy is finally awake.” He said.  “Amy, I am Dr. Chad Litky.  I ran some tests while you were out of it.  I will tell you the situation we’re looking at.”

Dr. Litky turned to face the whole family and Amy.  “I just received Amy’s x-rays.  I was able to look at them and inspect them for any ruptured or broken bones.  What I found was a broken spinal cord.  From the x-ray here, you can see that it was severed just above the waist.”

Dr. Litky pointed with a pen to the lower middle section of the x-ray.  “What she has is a myelopathy.”

“A myelo what?”  Will interrupted.

“A spinal cord injury,” Dr. Litky explained.

Amy stared at the doctor in shock.  “A spinal cord injury?  Will I ever be able to walk again?”

Dr. Litky shook his head.  “There is no way that you’re going to be able to walk again.  With a severed spinal cord in that area, you would not be able to control any function below your waist.”

Will shook his head.  “What limitations would this give her, other than immobility?”

Dr. Litky scratched his head.  “Well, Amy would experience impotence and certain degrees of incontinence.  I would get her a wheelchair after her recovery here.”

Amy’s face became flush with embarrassment.  “How long would I stay here?”

Dr. Litky glanced at Amy and then at Will.  “To have a full recovery, I’m guessing that you would be staying here for at least ten to twelve weeks.”

Amy cupped her hands over her face when she heard this news.  She wouldn’t be able to work for a long time.  She buried her face in her hands and began to cry again.

***

As the months passed, Amy started to get used to her loss of movement in her legs.  She gave up crying about it.  I guess I better get used to it, she thought.

During those months, Amy had dreams of being able to walk.  One of her dreams was going off to work and talking to the president of Pholtage.  She walked into his office and she was given a raise and a bonus for all the hard work.  As she was congratulated by the president, she woke up.  She then tried moving her legs. When she realized that it was just a dream, she started to bawl.  Why can’t it be real?  It was a nightmare that she couldn’t wake up from.  As she had these dreams more often, she became less depressed.  Oh well, she thought.  I might as well accept reality.

At the beginning of that time, she called work and took a leave of absence.  Over the weeks, she received roses, flowers, and many cards.  Some of them were card trees from her coworkers at Pholtage.  The president of Pholtage visited one time and she was updated on the happenings in the company.  She was told that they were going to elect a new vice president of finance.  She wasn’t guaranteed this position upon coming back but was guaranteed to work in upper level management.

Will and the kids visited Amy three times a week.  During each visit, Will gave Amy some kind of gift.  Once a week, Will gave Amy a fresh bouquet of white roses.

Since Amy’s incident, Will’s work hours declined.  To compensate for this decline, Will had to work half day shifts on the weekends.

After two more weeks, Amy was discharged.  She spent a total of 58 days in the hospital.

During the first week of Amy being home, Will spent most of his hours tending after Amy.  He bought her an electric wheelchair right away.  He made a room for her downstairs, since their bedroom was on the third story. He made frequent trips to the grocery store, buying supplies to address her incontinence.

Tyler and Natalie received a lot of attention at school.  Since the accident was reported on the news, Tyler and Natalie received mixed reactions among their peers.  A few students made fun of them due to their mother’s condition.

At the end of the first week, Natalie came home frustrated.  “Why did this have to happen to mom?”  She shouted.  “The kids have not treated me the same since the incident.”

Will looked at Natalie, squinting his eyes.  “I know that we all had a rough first week.  This is just an adjustment period from her being in the hospital.  Just give it some time to sort itself out.  We’re all in the same boat.

Three more months passed.  Stewart was charged with running a red light, reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs, and personal injury and was put in jail until the date of his trial.  The Faulkner’s were contacted and a trial date was scheduled for five months after the incident.  For the house, an elevator was installed and Will hired a limo to give Amy transportation.  Amy spent three months in physical therapy and she learned how to use her electric wheelchair.

After her physical therapy, she was ready to return to work.  Pholtage gave Amy a job in the finance department.  It would be middle-level cubicle work but it’s better than nothing.

Amy woke up.  She lied down on her bed and pressed her hands underneath her back against the mattress.  Pushing forward against the mattress, she dragged herself backward toward her wheelchair, which was sitting at the same level as her bed.  When she was sitting in the wheelchair, she strapped herself in and turned it on.

Will sat up and yawned.  “You’re up, honey?”

“Of course,” She answered.  “I wouldn’t want to miss my first day back.”

Amy used the joystick and steered the wheelchair toward the bathroom.  Since the incident, all the doorways in the house had to be refitted to accommodate her wheelchair.

Amy got ready for work and steered the wheelchair toward the elevator.  She pressed the down button and grinned.  Before she left the house, her husband and her kids came toward her.

Tyler and Natalie both hugged Amy at the same time.  “Bye mom.”  Tyler said.  “Have a good first day at work.”

“Good luck, mom!”  Natalie added.

Amy looked at them both and smiled.  “Thank you.”

Tyler and Natalie went upstairs to finish getting ready for school.

Will kissed Amy and embraced her.  “You have a good day, honey.”

“I will,” Amy told him.  “You have a good one, too.”

“I will, honey.”

Will kissed her again and she steered herself out of the house.

Amy steered her wheelchair over to a black SUV limousine, which picked her up.

A chauffeur came out with an assistant.  “Let us help you in there, miss,” the chauffeur told her.

The chauffeur lifted her from the waist out of her wheelchair and the assistant supported her legs.  They sat her in the back seat.  They took her wheelchair and placed it the seat beside her.

The limousine drove off to Pholtage headquarters downtown.

The chauffeur and assistant got her wheelchair out and got her back in it.  “You have a good day, miss,” the chauffeur told her.

The limousine drove off.  Amy steered her wheelchair into the Pholtage building.  This was her first time in the building in six months.  This feels kind of strange, Amy thought.  What will I manage today?

Amy pushed the up button and took the elevator to the 40th floor.  It was the top floor of the building.  As she steered her way toward the president’s office, a couple managers looked up from what they were doing and just stared at Amy.

Amy looked at them and frowned.  “Hello, Steve and Judy.”

Steve, the chief of operations, shot Amy a double take.  “Welcome back Amy.”

Judy, the chief of human resources, stared at Amy.  “Nice to see you back.”

Amy sighed.  “Thank you.”

Amy wheeled forward to an office that looked familiar.  She inspected the title next to the door and saw someone else’s name next to it.  This made her frown.

Amy tried opening the door, but it was locked, and the light was turned off.

A voice made her turn around.  “Hey Amy.”

Amy saw that it was Bradley, the president of Pholtage.  Bradley walked toward her.  “You’re right on time!  Welcome back.  Is there something that I can help you with?”

Amy adjusted her tie.  “Yes.  I was wondering when you will be electing a new vice president of finance.”

“As I told you before in the hospital, we have elected a new vice president of finance.”  Bradley told her. “Until the current vice president resigns, I would advise that you stay in the position that we agreed upon.”

Amy nodded.  “Okay.  That’s fine.”

“I’ll let you know when that position opens up again.  You have a good first day back.”

Amy grinned.  “I will.”

Amy took the elevator to the 35th floor.  “Busy cubicle work.” she sighed.  “It’s better than no job at all, I guess.”

As Amy wheeled through the cubicle farm, everyone stared at her.  Amy shook her head and increased the speed on her wheelchair.  She at last found a cubicle with her name plaque sitting there.

Amy moved the chair aside and steered her wheelchair next to the keyboard.  She began processing the financial statements for the company.

Throughout the day, Amy noticed her coworkers staring at her.  When she saw this, she frowned and shook her head.  What is their problem?  I feel so uneasy here, she thought.  Why do the employees feel so uncomfortable around a woman in a wheelchair?

The day ended and Amy left the Pholtage building.  Maybe tomorrow will be better, she thought.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  More people were staring at her and lying to her face when asked why they were staring.  As the days went by, it got worse and worse.  It eventually began to interfere with her work.

Finally, the day came for Bradley and the board of directors to elect a new vice president of finance.  Her replacement found a job at another company.  However, they did not select Amy at all.  Some guy got the position instead.

This was it.  One day later, Amy told Bradley that she wanted to quit Pholtage.  Two weeks later, Amy had her last meeting in the president’s office.

“Farewell Amy,” Bradley told her.  “It’s too bad that you decided to leave this organization.”

Amy stared at Bradley straight in the face.  “Well it’s too bad that your organization discriminates against paraplegics.”

Bradley looked at her with his mouth wide open.  Before he could say anything, Amy turned around and went to the elevator.  She took the limousine back home.

***

A month later, Amy was offered the job of chief of finance at Dietrich & Stein, a major pharmaceutical company located a little further downtown.  It was larger than Pholtage and Amy thought that the corporate culture was a lot better.

Instead of a limousine, Amy bought a van with a movable platform on the door of the driver’s side.  It was designed with hand brakes and hand acceleration.

On her way to work, she came to the same intersection where she had her accident.  The light turned red.

Amy looked around and sighed.  She felt a little more nervous being behind the wheel.  This was the intersection that paralyzed her.  The intersection that almost defeated her.

As the light turned green, Amy looked to her left and passed through the intersection with confidence.  She turned up the smooth jazz on the radio and drove forward.  She stared into the rearview mirror and watched as the intersection slowly began to fade out of her view.

______

©2007  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #105

Referral

After thinking about this for a while, I have made a decision.  I am going to see a back doctor.

Now my friends are already aware of my endless battles with back pain.  Steve, Rodney, Jonas and Cynthia.  After seeing four doctors  and having five appointments, I have decided that enough is enough.

Getting out of bed, my mind is made up.  None of the treatments that gave me were that effective.  Granted, they worked for a time, but they only provided temporary relief.

I stood up, my back beginning to throb in pain.  I called the office and explained the whole situation to them.

“Is your back hurting again?” the receptionist asked me.  “I can schedule another appointment for you with Dr. Murphy….”

“I don’t want him!” I shouted.  “Refer me to a specialist!  A back doctor that could actually treat me more effectively!”

A short pause.  “I’m sorry,” the receptionist apologized.  “But first, I will have to consult the doctor before he can make any kind of referral.  And then we have to find one….”

Now I’m getting impatient, and in a lot of pain, too!  “Just hurry,” I pleaded.  “I am in a lot of pain, so please refer me to someone quickly.”

Another pause.  “How bad is the pain?” the receptionist asked.

“It’s getting worse by the second, and it’s in my lower back,” I told her.

“Okay, Jake.  We will tell Dr. Murphy right away, and he’ll refer you to a back doctor.  Come right in and we’ll get you into one.”

I sighed with relief, but still winced at the pain in my back.  I took another extra strength aspirin and got in the car, praying that the pain would stop.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #104

Inner Child: The Failed Experiment (Alternate Ending)

The next day, Jessica wasn’t crying her eyes out, but she was still sad.  It was the day that Dr. Mayberry came back from his sabbatical.  Jessica called the laboratory.  The assistants told her to come in at noon, and to bring the girl with her.

Once in the laboratory, she entered the same room she was in during the experiment.  When little Jessica saw this room, she frowned.

“I’m scared, mommy.” she told her.

“Don’t worry, honey.” Jessica told her.  “It will only take a second.”

A few seconds later, Dr. Mayberry entered the room.  “Enjoying your inner child?” he joked.

Jessica nodded.  “I’m enjoying her very much,” she told him.  “If you were to ask me that eight months ago, I would have punched you in the face.  But I’m really enjoying her now.  As much as I do though, I’m going to have to say goodbye.”

Dr. Mayberry scratched his head.  “I’ll let you do so then.  As for her, I still am not able to figure out why that happened to you.  If I were to guess, I probably just created a clone from your memories by mistake.”

Jessica frowned.  “It was a mistake?”

“Of course!” the doctor nodded.  “This experiment was something that we have never tried before.  Not even on animals!  You were the first one to try it, so we don’t have much data.  We’re going to repeat the same procedure as you had before.  Hopefully, we won’t end up with another clone from your memories.  Anyway, I’ll let you say goodbye while we’re hooking everything up to you.”

Jessica nodded, as they laid her on the bed.  After that, they strapped her in with the belt over her stomach and attached a helmet on her.

Meanwhile, the girl just stood there watching, with a very sad look on her face.  “Mommy….”

“Good bye, little Jess.” Jessica told her.  “I’m really going to miss you, but you will be in me very soon, okay?  Farewell, honey!”

The girl continued to stare at Jessica, and a tear began to roll down her little cheek.  “Bye mommy…..”

Before they could say anything else, Dr. Mayberry signaled his assistant to turn the machine on.

Like before, Jessica felt a strong tingle of electricity flowing through her.  After that, she was knocked out.

When she came to, she looked around.  Still strapped in, Jessica looked anywhere.  Little Jessica was nowhere to be found.

Jessica then reached out her hand.  Something felt strange when she did this.  Why does everything look bigger all of a sudden?  Looking down at her clothes, she gasped.  She was wearing pink corduroy overalls with a white shirt covered in pink dots.  “What’s going on….?” she said.  Right after speaking, she gasped.  Her voice sounded just like little Jessica.

As they were unstrapping her, she looked around again.  When she could move her hands, she felt bulkiness on her bottom.  That’s when her heart sank.  “No….” she said in complete disbelief.

Finally, when they finished unstrapping her, the assistant approached her.  “This isn’t good,” she told her.

“Definitely,” Dr. Mayberry said in agreement.  “This wasn’t supposed to happen at all.”

Jessica stood up, shaking her head.  “What happened? What have you done?”

Dr. Mayberry hesitated, and then gave a nervous laugh.  “I’m sorry to tell you this, Miss Smith.” he told her.  “Instead of sending your inner child into you, I sent you into your inner child….”

“What?” Jessica thought.  “This can’t be!”  Overcome with desperation, she approached the doctor in her little body. “Change me back, now!” she demanded.

The doctor looked at the machine, which emitted a plume of black smoke.  “I’m afraid that we can’t do that, little miss.” He said.  “The machine’s broken, and it will take us a long time to fix it.”

“Well, fix it faster!” she cried.  “I don’t want to be stuck in this body!”

Dr. Mayberry sighed.  “Well, it’s going to take us a while, missy.  You dropped your phone before the experiment.  Call for one of your friends to pick you up.  A taxi won’t take a little kid.”

The doctor handed her the phone and she grabbed it.  “Well, thanks….” she said, sarcastically.

Jessica stood there, with a sullen look on her face.  After closing her eyes, she realized that she could remember every single detail from her childhood.  But this wouldn’t help her, considering the predicament that she was in.

“My adult mind’s still intact,” Jessica thought.  “Now, I’m stuck in a four-year old’s body. How am I gonna go to work? How are they going to change me back?”

Feeling hopeless, Jessica started to cry.  Streams of tears ran down her pink corduroy overalls as she sobbed.  She was now trapped inside the body of her inner child.  Trapped with no way out.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #103

The Daydream

Darren woke up in a vast field.  Looking around, he thought that this field was real.  That is, until he saw a bunch of clothes growing there.  There were plants that grew socks, as well as plants that grew shirts.  There was even a plant that grew pants.

Even more unique about the field was the way that it was organized.  In one section there were plants that grew women’s clothes.  This was in the largest section of the field.  In another section, where he was in, all the plants grew men’s clothes.  Past the woman’s clothes plants were plants that grew baby clothes.  In the far corner was another set of plants.  These ones grew boys and girls clothes.

But the crops didn’t stop there.  When Darren walked around, he found plants that grew powertools and ordinary tools.  When he turned the corner, there were plants that grew big screen TV’s.  Furthermore, there were plants that grew various other appliances.

Before Darren could explore any more of the field, he heard a voice.  “Darren, wake up!”

Darren woke up.  He was sitting in the break room of Sheldon’s department store.

“Darren!” his boss told him.  “Your break is over.  You can go back to work now.  Please try to save the sleeping for at home, okay?”

Darren nodded.  “Yes sir.”

Darren left the break room and went right back to work.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #102

Voting for Jesus

When I voted yesterday, I really didn’t have a choice for president.  Neither of the candidates made any sense.  Did I want four more years of liberal policies, or did I want a Mormon running the country?

With neither candidate making any sense to me, I decided to do a write-in candidate.  For mine, I nominated Jesus Christ.  Granted, he won’t govern this country.  But he does govern my life, and his government will be established someday.

After leaving my precinct voting area in Cleveland, I told my friends.  They didn’t believe it.

“Why Jon?” Bill asked me.  “Why did you pick Jesus?”

“Why not?” I told him.  “I didn’t like any of the candidates, so I wrote his name instead.”

Now I know that the world is going to end soon.  So it didn’t matter which candidate won.  In either case, we would experience the end of the world.  Now I know that many doomsayers have mentioned this before.  But it’s going to happen eventually.

When it does, I will be glad that I chose to write in my candidate’s name.  Jesus Christ – my savior.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #101

Blind Taste Test

My friend put me up to this.  He said that in a blind taste test, I would pick Pepsi over Coke.

To challenge this, I accepted his terms.  What does he know about my taste buds?  I know how both colas taste.  And from past experience, I prefer Coke over Pepsi.

Over the years, I have always been a Coke person.  Being raised in Atlanta, this has always been the case.  I love the sweet and refreshing drink that is Coca Cola.  Even now in New York, I still like Coke.

“Joey!” My friend called out to me.  “What are you waiting for?  Let’s start this test!”

And so the test began.  My friend Mike asked me to leave the room.  He poured a can of each cola into two plastic cups.  One was labeled Soda A.  The other was labeled Soda B.  When I was called in, I was blindfolded by Mike.  He then led me to a chair and I sat down.

The tasting then began.

I tried Soda A.  It had a sweet syrupy taste.  It was the taste I know and love.  The taste I remembered.

After that, I was given Soda B.  It had a bold taste.  It was syrupy, but it felt like it was more carbonated.

Then came the time for the vote.  I picked Soda A.

Mike then revealed the two sodas.  “Soda A was Coke and Soda B was Pepsi,” he told me.  “Impossible.  How could you have known the difference?”

At that, I smiled.  “It’s because I know what Coke tastes like,” I told him.

And you don’t need a blindfold to tell you that.  Your eyes can’t tell you whether it’s Coke or Pepsi.  This is not a sight test, so all you need is your tastebuds.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #100

Tower of Ideas

I woke up and went to my computer, like usual.  It would be the same kind of drill that I do everyday, right?  That’s what I thought, but how wrong I was.

As I sat there at my computer, typing,  I saw an enormous flash.  Curious about this flash, I looked behind me.  A mysterious door appeared out of nowhere.

Without even pondering, curiosity got the best of me, and I entered the door.

Once inside, I was in this vast field, filled with lush green grass and flowers of every color.  In the distance, I saw a vastly tall tower that challenged the heights of the tallest trees.  None of them could exceed the height of the tower, which mysteriously sat there in the middle of nowhere.  Even more curious, I ran as fast as I could to reach the tower, which seemed like it was miles away.

As I approached the tower, I noticed that it looked just like an office building.  Something like would belong in the city. But here it was, just here in the open field.  Gasping for air, I entered the tower.

Still having a shortness of breath, I stood there, until I could breathe easier.  As I did, I took in all the surroundings.  The lobby was majestically decorated, with Italian terra cotta tiles in a black-white checkered pattern.  The borders of the rooms were outlined in tan, surrounding the checkered floor.  A service desk sat in the center of the lobby, with a receptionist there, busy at work.

Finally having my breath back, I approached the receptionist.  “What is this place?”  I asked her, desperate to find some kind of answer.

The woman looked up at me and smiled.  She didn’t seemed bother at all by the asking of my question.  “This place?” she said, spreading both of her arms outward.  “This is the tower of ideas.  You’re on the first floor.”

I didn’t want to invade on the woman’s privacy, but I had to know who she was.  “Who are you?” I asked.

The woman stopped typing and looked up again.  “Oh.  Sorry.  I didn’t have this on my desk.” She blushed, and got out a placard.  With haste, she sat in on the desk.  “I’m Julia.”

“That is a nice name,” I told her.  “Do you have any children?”

Julia nodded.  “I do have one.  Her name is Cindy.  She lost her cat Mittens a few months ago.  She’s in one of the rooms with her new kitty.”

Then it all made sense.  This woman was the same one that I wrote about in my first Think & Write!  I held our my hand to get her attention.  “I don’t mean to bother you again, but where are the elevators?”

Julie stood up and pointed to an area just behind her desk.  “They’re right over there.”

Giving a nod of approval, I looked at Julie again.  “Thanks.”

Julie smiled.  “Anytime, Mr. Walker.”  Julie then looked back at her computer and continued typing.

I walked away from the desk and approached the elevators.  As I was pressing the up button, a nagging thought entered my mind.  How did she know who I was?  Immediately after I thought this, I knew the answer.  “I created her!” I told myself.  “Of course she knows who I am!”

The elevator door opened and I entered.  Looking at the panel, it was filled with buttons.  There were 100 buttons, with some other miscellaneous ones used for maintenance and emergencies.

I chose the first floor at random, with my eyes closed.  When I opened them, I saw that the button to the 27th floor was lit up.

As the elevator rapidly ascended, another disturbing thought entered my mind.  Where did this tower come from?  And what about the field and the mysterious door?  Before I could wonder any more, the elevator stopped on the 27th floor and the doors opened.

I got off and I noticed a narrow corridor.  After walking down it for a while, it led to another one.  In one of the rooms, I could hear a little girl screaming.

“DON’T PUNISH ME!!!!” the girl screamed.

“Stop that, Sidney.” the mother shouted.  “You’re four years old and you need to start acting like it.”

I knew that it wouldn’t be best to interrupt this argument, but curiosity got the best of me.  After all, I created them.  So they owe me their respect.

I opened the door to find Sidney sitting on the ground, in just a t-shirt and a diaper.  The mother was standing there, holding a wooden paddle.

When the mother noticed me, she sighed.  “Mr. Walker,” she said.  “I hate to say this, but could you come back later?  Now is not a good time.  Like usual, Sidney is acting like a brat.  Never listening to a word I say.”

I nodded.  “I’ll leave you be then, Natalie.  I’ll come back later, when Sidney is under control.” Before leaving, I bended down and looked at Sidney.  “Mind your mother for me, okay?”

Sidney shook her head.  “No!  She’s a meanie!”

I closed the door and left them to their business.

As I walked down the corridors to the elevators, I saw a teenage woman walking toward me.  Who is this woman, and what does she want?

The teen girl was gasping for air and looked desperate.  “Mr. Walker,” she said, gasping.  “I need your help.”

I still didn’t know who this girl was.  “How can I help you and who are you?” I asked her.

The girl frowned.  “You know me!” she said.  “I’m Holly.  Now I need your help.  Somehow, I ended up on this floor.  I need to get to the 47th floor.  Can I go with you?”

I nodded.  “Feel free to.  I’m still trying to figure out how this place can exist….”

Holly looked at me weirdly.  “What did you just say?”

My face then blushed.  “I’m sorry.  Did I just say that out loud?”

Holly nodded, as we both approached the elevator.  I pushed the up button and we both entered.

At random, I chose another floor.  I chose 62, with my eyes open this time.  Holly pressed 47.  The elevator doors closed and began to ascend.

As the elevator ascended, I noticed Holly getting younger by the second.  “Are you aware of what’s going on?” I asked her, who now looked eight.

Holly nodded.  “Yes, Mr. Walker.  But it’s just a dream.”

The elevator then reached the 47th floor.  Holly was now a five year old.  “Thanks Mr. Walker!” she said, as she left the elevator.

I nodded as the elevator doors closed again.  It then went up to the 62nd floor and opened up again.

To my surprise, Holly was standing there again, now in her early thirties.  She ran into the elevator and pressed the close button.

“You need to hide me from those creeps,” she begged me.

I threw up my hands in frustration.  “But I just got here!” I shouted.

Holly shook her head.  “But it doesn’t matter.  I’m not going to let those creeps perform experiments on me.  Now tell me.  Are you going up or down?”

I raised my hand towards the ceiling.  “Up,” I told her.  “And aren’t you a dream anyway, in a clone’s body?”

“That’s what they say,” she said.  “And you’re with them, too?  Well, I can’t really argue with you, considering your position.  Now quick.  What floor?”

I thought for a moment.  “Hmm….”

“Hurry up!” Holly shouted.  “Just pick something!”

Finally, I pressed the button I wanted.  “85,” I told her.

Holly shook her head.  “I don’t want to go there.” Holly then pressed 72.  “I’m getting off there.”

The elevator then ascended and I waited.  Holly had nothing to say, so the ride up was quiet.

Finally, the elevator reached the 72nd floor.  Holly got out promptly and waved at me.  “Thanks Mr. Walker!”

“Anytime, Molly….I mean, Holly,” I said, smiling.

The elevator door closed and it ascended to the 85th floor.

When it opened, I got out.  As I did, I heard a crunch.  I looked down and I realized that I stepped on a leaf.  When I looked up, I realized that the whole floor was filled with leaves.  Leaves of various colors.

As I wandered down the leaf-filled corridor, I saw her.  It was a small girl, with long orange and golden hair.  Her complexion was golden, and she wore an autumn-colored dress with leafy sandals on her feet.  A bright glow emanated from her.  When I approached the girl , her back was facing me.

The girl turned around and smiled.  “Do you like it,?” she asked me.  “I made all those leaves, just for you.”

I smiled, looking around at the colorful foliage that lined the floors and walls.  “It’s wonderful, Autumn.”

As I was about to leave, I turned around and suddenly remembered something.  “One other thing,” I told her.  “Did you enter the egg yet?”

When I asked that, Autumn looked very nervous.  “N-no I haven’t, Mr. Walker.  I mean, it looks like a beautiful egg, right?  I-I’ll check it out, someday….”

I quietly sighed.  “She won’t even go near it,” I whispered.  I then turned to Autumn one last time.  “No need to hide your feelings, Autumn.  I know you hate that egg.  Hopefully, ‘someday’ will come….”

Autumn nodded.  “Someday?!  You’re right about the egg.  It will never happen, Mr. Walker!  Never!”

“Bye Autumn,” I told her.

“NEVER!” Autumn continued shouting.  “Never! Never! Never! Never!”

I ran back to the elevator and pressed the up button.  I entered again and looked at the panel.  I knew where I was going this time.  I pressed 87.  The elevator went up two floors and opened again.  I walked out to find another maze of corridors.

As I walked down one of them, I heard the sound of a very happy girl.  I followed the sound and knocked on the door.  “Hang on, little Jess.  Someone’s at the door.”

The door opened and I saw a young woman standing there.  She was in her late twenties, with a younger girl standing next to her.

“You must be Jessica.” I told her.

Jessica smiled.  “And you must be Mr. Walker!” She shouted.  “Nice to meet you! Well, I already know you, but nice for you to visit!”

The girl looked at me and frowned.  “Who is that?” she asked Jessica.

Jessica looked at her and smiled.  “Oh.  That’s Mr. Walker.  Say hi to Mr. Walker, little Jess!”

The girl look up at me and smiled.  “Hi Mr. Walker!” she shouted.

I sniffed the room and groaned.  “Don’t you have air fresheners?”

Jessica gave me a look of embarrassment.  “Sorry about that.  I just changed her. One moment.” She ran and quickly came back with an aerosol can of bathroom spray.  She then sprayed it around the room.  “There. Now Mr. Walker.  Are you just stopping by?”

I sighed.  “Actually, I’m just exploring this place.  I don’t know how it got here.  I’m actually leaving now.  Have fun with your younger self!”

Jessica nodded.  “I will.  Say ‘goodbye Mr. Walker’ with me, little Jess.”

The girl looked at her and nodded. “Bye Mr. Walker!” they both shouted at the same time.

I went back to the elevator and pressed the up button.  I then went up to the 97th floor.

The elevator door opened and I got out.  In one of the corridors, I saw a girl with a fairly large stand.  It read in neatly written letters “Charlotte’s Cider Stand”.

When I saw the stand, I immediately ran up to the girl.  “Hey Charlotte!” I shouted.  “How goes the cider business?”

Charlotte looked up and saw me.  “It’s going really well, Mr. Walker.  Would you like a glass of my cider today?”

I nodded.  “Sure!” I told her.  “How much?”

Charlotte pointed to all the signs, which were all neatly arranged throughout the stand.  “My cider is 50 cents.  Refills are a quarter.  Donuts are a dollar.  Five dollars for a dozen.  Or, you could have some of my pastries.  Two for a dollar.”

“I’ll just have a glass of your cider, please.” I told her.

Charlotte poured me a glass of cider and handed it to me.  I gave her 50 cents.  “Thanks for your business, Mr. Walker” she told me.  “Have a wonderful day.”

“You too,” I told her.

I walked back to the elevator with the cider and pressed the up button.  I entered it and looked at the panel.  100 was the highest floor.  There was no other floor after it.  Shrugging my shoulders, I pressed 100.

The elevator doors opened and I stepped out.  The floor was an enormous room, lavishly decorated.  A desk sat in one corner and a king-sized bed sat in the other.

To my surprise, my muse was sitting there on the bed, looking impatient.

“What took you so long?” she asked me.

Her question confused me.  “What do you mean?” I told her.  “Were you here the whole time?”

She quickly nodded and sighed.  “Of course!  Why did you bother to go to any of the other floors?  You should’ve came here in the first place!”

I looked at my muse.  Her size was not any different from the last time that I saw her.  She was over twice my height, and getting very thin.

“If I knew you were here, I would’ve come sooner!” I told her.

“Never mind that,” she said.  “How about feeding me for once?  And no.  These tiny crumbs that you call ‘Think & Writes’ do not count.  They are barely enough to keep me going!”

“What about ‘The Golden Leaf’ and ‘Inner Child’?  Those are larger, aren’t they?”

“They’re not enough!” she yelled.  “I need real food, like that ‘Zachary Willowbrook’ story that you stopped working on.  Can I have more of that?”

“In due time,” I told her.  “Be patient.”

I then looked at the room I was in and frowned.  The scenery did not make any sense to me at all.  Enough is enough.  Why is this here?  “What is this place?”  I asked her.

“It’s the Tower of Ideas,” my muse promptly answered, in a matter-of-fact tone.  “I made that door, field and this tower because I was starving.  There’s 100 stories here.  Enough to sustain me for now.  I’ll do this again if you don’t feed me.  I’ll just eat leftovers.”

I shook my head.  “No.” I told her.  “No leftovers.  Now get inside me and I’ll continue creating.”

My muse smiled.  “Okay.  Start making with the food.”

And with that, my muse dove right into my head and became a gentle mist.

On this floor, I noticed a computer sitting on the desk.  When I sat down, I noticed that the latest ‘Think & Write’ was already typed.  At the end of it were these words:

To my master,

I made this for you, and for me.  This is to honor your dedication for 100 days.  Congratulations on reviving me.

Love,

Your Muse.

I then looked at the directory.

The Tower of Ideas – Directory

Floor 01 – Farewell to a Friend  Floor 02 – The Mysterious Blond  Floor 03 – The Fight  Floor 04 – Dreaming While Awake  Floor 05 – Dream Girl  Floor 06 – The Perfect Game  Floor 07 – Leaving the Colony  Floor 08 – The Parched Land  Floor 09 – Unable to Awaken  Floor 10 – Paradise’s Clever Disguise  Floor 11 – Deadline  Floor 12 – Storm at the Summit  Floor 13 – Butterflies  Floor 14 – Returning Home  Floor 15 – The Bright Wish  Floor 16 – Windfall  Floor 17 – A Dream Come True  Floor 18 – Birthday Wish  Floor 19 – Crash and Burn  Floor 20 – The Laundromat  Floor 21 – Faster  Floor 22 – My Muse  Floor 23 – The Gift of Time  Floor 24 – The Chance  Floor 25 – Soup of Ages  Floor 26 – Presentation Day  Floor 27 – The Punishment  Floor 28 – For the Fans  Floor 29 – No Parole  Floor 30 – Sunburn  Floor 31 – Saying Goodbye  Floor 32 – Dead End Job  Floor 33 – Ice Cream My Way  Floor 34 – Gaming Junkie  Floor 35 – Man of the Forest  Floor 36 – Room Service  Floor 37 – Closing Time  Floor 38 – Another Night at the Movies  Floor 39 – The Forbidden Secret Revealed  Floor 40 – A Second Chance  Floor 41 – From Riches to Rags  Floor 42 – A Good Read  Floor 43 – The Pest  Floor 44 – Heart-Shaped Circuit  Floor 45 – Remembrance  Floor 46 – The Perfect Cup  Floor 47 – Benjamin Button on Steroids  Floor 48 – One of Them  Floor 49 – Unfinished Report  Floor 50 – The Flood  Floor 51 – White Collar Toast  Floor 52 – The Family Blessing  Floor 53 – Last Day on the Beach  Floor 54 – Human Time Machine  Floor 55 – Summer’s Last Stand  Floor 56 – The Colors of Autumn  Floor 57 – Lending a Hand  Floor 58 – Night of Pain  Floor 59 – Advancing to Boardwalk  Floor 60 – Shopping List  Floor 61 – Captured  Floor 62 – The Experiment  Floor 63 – My Muse II  Floor 64 – Barriers  Floor 65 – Autumn Lawn  Floor 66 – A New Shade of Gray  Floor 67 – From X to Y and Back  Floor 68 – The Shoes  Floor 69 – The Promotion  Floor 70 – Outcasts  Floor 71 – The Usual  Floor 72 – A Lucid Reality  Floor 73 – Raising Avery  Floor 74 – The Cider Stand  Floor 75 – Out of Time  Floor 76 – The Golden Leaf  Floor 77 – The Golden Leaf: Part II  Floor 78 – The Golden Leaf: Part III  Floor 79 – A Different Set of Feet  Floor 80 – Inner Child  Floor 81 – Inner Child: Part II  Floor 82 – Inner Child: Part III  Floor 83 – Inner Child: Part IV  Floor 84 – The Golden Leaf: Part IV  Floor 85 – The Golden Leaf: Part V  Floor 86 – The Perfect Costume  Floor 87 – Inner Child: Part V  Floor 88 – Sea of Autumn  Floor 89 – Autumn Snapshots  Floor 90 – Pile of Autumn  Floor 91 – No More Leaves!  Floor 92 – The Other Clone  Floor 93 – When I was Alive  Floor 94 – A Heart for the Northeast  Floor 95 – Candy Record  Floor 96 – Leftover Candy  Floor 97 – Pursuing the Dream (The Cider Stand II)  Floor 98 – Nonstop  Floor 99 – Catching Up  Floor 100 – Tower of Ideas

After that, I smiled, thanking my muse for creating this tribute.

To my master,

I made this for you, and for me.  This is to honor your dedication for 100 days.  Congratulations on reviving me.

Love,

Your Muse.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #99

Catching Up

Milton looked at his computer screen and sighed.  On it was a spreadsheet filled with games that he hasn’t played yet.  This list was growing by the day.

Since he finally had the day off.  He decided to start on that list.  He began on the ones that he already started that were in progress.

Milton loaded the cartridge and turned on the console.  It was a classic game that he has played before but never beat.  After what seemed like several tries, he beat the game.

Milton took the cartridge out.  “Next!” he shouted, moving to the next one on his list.

The next game that he had to play was a PC game.  This was a another game that he had in progress, and it was almost done.  In an hours time, he was able to beat it.

Yet another game that he got back to was on one of his newer consoles.  It was an easy game, and all the trophies were easy to get on it.

After finishing that game, Milton took a break.  During the break, Milton went to his website.  Looking at his blog, he gasped.  “Haven’t updated this thing in months,” he chuckled.  And with that, he quickly composed a new post, updating everyone on what was going on.  After posting it, he let out a sigh of relief.

“Three games beat and one blog post made,” he said, smiling.  “My time is so precious now.  Since that promotion, I’ve had almost no free time.  Managing data can be a headache….”

For the rest of the day, Milton spent his time catching up on things he usually didn’t have time for.  He caught up on his laundry, dishes and another chapter of a book that he was in the middle of reading.  While it wasn’t much, it was better than nothing.

As Milton went to bed, he closed his eyes, hoping that he would eventually have another day like this.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #98

Nonstop

The alarm clock went off.  Jack looked at it.  The time was 5:30 a.m.  It was once again time.  Time for a 12 hour day.  This would be his sixth day in a row.

Jack got up, made the coffee and got ready.  He showered, got dressed, poured a quick bowl of cereal, ate it and drank his coffee.

Jack arrived at Salt Corp….again.  He parked in his usual parking spot again and entered the office building again.

He took the elevator to the 22nd floor and walked over to his office.

Before Jack entered, his boss noticed him.

“Hey Jack!” The boss shouted.  “So glad that you could come in on the weekend.  Normally, I would let you have the day off.  But so many people are sick right now.  I’m so glad that you were able to come in….”

Jack formed a fake smile.  It wasn’t his best one, but it was good enough for his boss.  “Anytime, Mr Murphy.” Jack said, with a nervous chuckle.

After that, Jack made a beeline to his office.  While he was firing up his computer, he sighed.  When am I going to get a day off?

“I’ll surely have a day off when I’m dead,” Jack quietly said to himself sarcastically.

Jack started up his email program and looked at the screen.  837 unread messages.

“This is going to take a while,” Jack sighed.

Jack began on the emails and looked at the clock.  7:05.  Taking a deep sigh, a harsh reality hit him.  This was going to be a long day.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

Think & Write #97

Pursuing the Dream (The Cider Stand II)

Charlotte closed her stand once more.  She then counted her money.  It was only $104.   Overall, she made $1,800 off of her cider stand this year.  It wasn’t a lot but it was a start.  A start to the dream that Charlotte really wanted to pursue – her own bakery.

It was not that Charlotte hated the stand.  When she had it open, she loved every minute of it.  It was just that she felt that everything was so limited as to what she could offer to the customer.  She wanted to give them a lot more than what she had.  With her increasingly popular cider, some donuts and a couple pastries, it wasn’t a lot for the customer to choose from.

The cider stand, although it remained the same size, seemed to get smaller to Charlotte by the day.  Next year, she would try to secure a larger area to sell her cider and baked goods.  With the weather getting colder, she knew that it was only a matter of time before she had to close her stand.  For Charlotte, there was no particular date as to when she would close her stand.  This was decided by the weather.  The first snow that comes would be the last day her stand would be open.

Charlotte didn’t want her stand to close.  She loved the customers, and enjoyed talking to them while she dutifully did her job.  Seventh grade was busy enough for her.  She knew that things would get busier the older she got.

One day, her mother came and bought some of her cider.  Charlotte then looked at her mother with a concerned look on her face.  “Mom,” she said with a sigh.  “Do you think that I can open my own bakery?”

The mother gave Charlotte a pat on the head and smiled.  “Certainly, honey.  You are certainly on the right track.  If that is your dream, go for it.”

Charlotte poured her mother a glass of her cider.  “But what if I fail?”

The mother smiled, and took a sip of the apple cider.  “If you fall down, get right back up.” she told her.  “Don’t ever give up on your dreams.  Keep pursuing them until you succeed.  And I’ll have a donut too, dear.”

Charlotte smiled.  “Thanks mom.  Now what donut do you want?  There are three different kinds to choose from.”

The mother pointed to one that was covered in powdered sugar.  “That one will do.”

Charlotte gave her the powdered donut on a plate and rang her mother up for the donut and the cider.  The mother gave her the money, plus a $5 tip.

“You earned it.” her mother told her.

Charlotte nodded, and put the five in her little cash box.  “Thanks for your business.”

The mother walked back into the house .  Charlotte thought about what her mother told her.  Do I really have what it takes to succeed?

After thinking about what her mother said more and more, she nodded.  “It surely will happen,” she said.  “I know it.”

With that, Charlotte continued to work the Saturday afternoon away, selling her delicious apple cider.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker