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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

First of all, make sure you are not posting a link. Post the actual writing that way more people will look at it because (no offense) people don't really klick on the links that often. More people will see your story this way. If your story is long and you don't have enough room in your posting box to post the whole thing than do this:
blah blah blah (room is taken up)
My story part 2:
blah blah blah (YA!)
Just make sure you label that it is still part of your original story.
Post a link from your story on the creative writing page on this site (also known as goodreads) that way people can like it and you will get more views. If it isn't posted under creative writing on goodreads then post it now! Its simple, just click on explore then move down to Creative Writing and click on that. Look in the corner and you will see a My Writing link. Click on that and then click on the Add New Writing thing. Its easy after that!
Anyway, thats it.


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments Hieronymus LaRoche, DDS
by
Chris Riker


Dr. LaRoche moved with purpose, using two of his six legs to pull the water pick with him as he crawled over gums and molars to reach and clean deep crevices in his patient’s mouth. He found no new cavities, but those would certainly appear if this man failed to do a better job of brushing and flossing. There! A putrid hunk of masticated ham tucked behind a bicuspid. Dr. LaRoche reached in with one barbed appendage, skewered the morsel, and quickly jammed it into his own mouth parts. “Waste not, want not. Indeed, indeed!” he thought.
The dentist gave his patient a new toothbrush and inculcated him on the benefits of oral hygiene. The man, a sedentary-looking policeman with colorful donut sprinkles on his uniform, thanked him and hurried out the door. He’ll be back, Dr. LaRoche thought. More work for me. The thought of being useful bolstered his natural zeal.
The final patient of the day was a slender professional woman with glossy hair the color of radio wiring, which put ribald thoughts of nesting into Dr. LaRoche’s mind. The woman scanned the room, at first believing it empty. Then she noticed the diminutive dentist on the instrument tray and let out a yelp. “A roach!” she cried.
“La-Roche,” he corrected politely. “My family came from France. These days, we’re well established in Atlanta, though I have relatives all over: New York, New Jersey, indeed pretty much any city. I am Hieronymus LaRoche, DDS, just as it says on the diploma.” He used a stainless steel probe to proudly point to his bona fides, which hung on the wall next to a sign bearing the message: ‘Please don’t bite down during the exam.’
“You’re the dentist? My friend said you were good, but she didn’t mention
--” Her tone seemed uncertain.
“I am fully accredited in the state of Georgia.” Standing on his hind legs, he continued, “You have magnificent teeth, Miss … Miss?”
“Constance Wainwright.”
“What a lovely name, indeed,” he responded, smiling.
Her pale blue eyes were wide. Dr. LaRoche said, “Hop in the chair and let’s take a look.”
Constance Wainwright hesitated a beat, then climbed into the dentist’s chair as instructed. Dr. LaRoche scurried over the bib covering her provocative bosom and onto her lower lip. With a bow and a wink, he stepped inside.
As he worked, Dr. LaRoche could not help but feel there was something special about this woman; perhaps it was the sweetness of her voice, or the heady vapors from a lunchtime Pinot Noir which hung in her mouth and eased him into a pleasant euphoria. Whatever the case, Dr. LaRoche found himself daydreaming through the whole check-up. Was this the kind of woman, he wondered, who would like a large family? Perhaps three or four hundred children?
Dr. LaRoche paid special attention to the cleaning, using his antennae to polish her brilliant white enamel. From deep in the throat of Constance Wainwright came a tiny song-like vocalization, rising sharply each time Dr. LaRoche scampered across her tongue. The melody escaped Dr. LaRoche, but he indeed enjoyed its child-like inflections.
He pondered whether she might enjoy dining in some dimly lit spot far away from the gaudy glare of neon. Dr. LaRoche screwed up his courage while putting his instruments into the sterilizer. As Constance Wainwright straightened her smart business attire, he asked, “Would you like to have dinner with me?”
Constance Wainwright did not acknowledge that she had heard his invitation. She took a swig of mouthwash, leaned over the tiny sink, and spat. Then she rinsed and spat again. And then twice more. Quickly thanking him, she was off and gone.
Dr. LaRoche locked up his office for the night. There was no denying it: Constance Wainwright had disappeared from his life as quickly as she had come. The loneliness of his existence weighed on him for one brief moment, but only one. Then, he brightened and thought, “Indeed, there are other fish in the sea. In a city this size, there must be some lucky lady who wants to date a dentist. Perhaps I’ll find a wine and cheese tasting club. Ah, the days ahead will be sweet. Indeed, indeed!” Dr. LaRoche’s gait became jaunty as he whistled to himself all the way home.


message 3: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments “A Home on the Hill” (PART ONE)
by
Chris Riker


Aimery Jaymes loved the tempests of late winter, or nor’easters as they’d been called in the days when hurricanes struck Jamestown, as it was then known, during predictable seasons. He loved their primal fury and the capricious violence they dealt upon the village below. He could hear the tell-tale flapping of torn fabric in the storm’s tapering winds, slapping wildly against the blister’s surrounding panels. The noise had awakened him, along with the draft of salty air, storm-washed of most of its usual muck. The scuttlebots would fix the tear in time, he knew. There were still enough of the drones left. Try as it might, the sky’s rage could not defeat the transparent blister protecting his family home; the giant dome’s membranous layers allowed clean air and sunlight into the grounds while keeping pollution and unwanted visitors out. Safe. Life was good here in Jaymestown. The gold rococo clock on the mantleplace read just past nine. There was simply nothing like a storm for sleeping.
Well, that and a foursome at bedtime. A pity the others--two village girls and a boy hired for the price of a meal and some black market liquor--had scattered like roaches at first light. It would have been fun to enjoy a second round. Or maybe not. He rubbed the fleshy wattle under his chin. His lymph node implants ached; time for a tune-up. Aimery considered the impromptu orgy a warm-up for his 104th next month. He made a mental note to scour the red light sector to find enough un-pocked girls and boys for a proper celebration, a bona fide bacchanalia like the ones enjoyed by the emperors of old.
Last night’s affair had been a birthday gift of sorts. His eldest turned 77 yesterday, providing impetus for Aimery to indulge in some much-needed personal gratification. He’d sent Barry a nice message, but gotten no reply; not surprising. Ungrateful. Barry, like his other children, was more than comfortable, thanks to his generosity. They had homes, incomes, and mindless sinecures so they could toss around meaningless titles at parties and impress the inevitable hangers-on. Their mothers, too, were well looked after, spending his money in far flung parts of the world. He loved them all, in his own way. A smirk came to his face as he played out a well-worn thought in his head: Sometimes we love best from a distance. Had he said that aloud? No matter. There was no one around.
He padded across the Brazilian hardwood floor to the spacious Calacatta marble shower, where the water kept changing temperature despite a read-out that promised a consistent 105 degrees Fahrenheit. After checking the mirror for silvery traitors to his carefully maintained crop of black hair, he dressed in a tailored suit, including a fine coat of midnight blue with gold filigree. By then, his breakfast had arrived in the outer room of the Master Suite, as if by magic. The kitchen staff knew to keep out of sight.
He could usually hear them, of course, thanks to their books. He’d provided each of his serving staff with an extravagant gift: his Book of Jaymes, made of steel with a lifetime energy cell. The power of reading had largely gone out of the world, so the books were set to recite his words in his voice, hundreds of gems recorded over a lifetime. From another hallway, he could just recognize his own stentorian tones: “Before you risk losing, you must know what you get if you win.” That was a good one. Idiots spent fortunes trying to acquire holdings only to learn the prize had lost all value over time. Aimery made it a point to never confuse pride with business.
Another of the sayings he made sure to include ran: “Worship the God who speaks to you.” He never understood those who raised an impotent fist against the wealthy, raging about how the rich worship the almighty dollar. As if that were a bad thing. Throughout time, money had created purpose: to help it go forth and multiply. Money had built cities from sand; forged champions in the furnace of war; made towering leaders of those possessed of the wisdom to bend to its will. The god of the old book made all of those same promises, only to fall silent, leaving the average man thirsting and directionless in a trackless wilderness. His grandfather understood, as Aimery did now: you can be master of the home on the hill, or stare up from the slum below. It was why Grampa Avery had renamed Jamestown to Jaymestown, to properly honor their vibrant, strong family rather than a dead regent from a dead empire.
He ate a few bites then called for the maid to take away the rest. He knew the staffers would eat his leftovers. He paid them well, deducting only a reasonable amount for room and board, and yet they stole the crumbs from his table, like rats.
On his way to his office in the south wing, he stepped onto a broad balcony under the hazy morning sun and called for a lens. The virtual device obediently manifested in front of him, offering a detailed look at what the storm had done to the blister. Only a few bots were at work, securing loose fabric to the great spidery frame. At this rate, the repairs could take days. He needed more techs, or better techs, but…
Looking through the clear blister, his eyes drifted over the broad sweep of Narragansett Bay, taupe under a heavy sky, past the huge storm wall that struggled to protect the bay’s coasts and islands from the rising Atlantic, and past the fleet of tattered fishing boats whose crews seemed oblivious to a great dark thing not far away. There, just off the main channel about halfway to Newport’s bayside communities, lay a mass in the water, its bulk anchored or fixed or grounded, whipping spume around its edges. Gulls and other scavengers swooped down to nip at the oily, undulating bits above the surface. A few of the birds looked much too large to be this far north, although with the changing currents and climates, the idea of a ‘north’ or ‘south’ meant little. Large, dull grey sea birds with long beaks settled onto the islet long enough to fill their voluminous orange pouches with twitching flesh before flying off. There was plenty of live traffic in the water around the great lump. Occasionally, an identifiable set of fins (that one was a shark, a big one!) broke the water and appeared to attack the central bulk. Aimery’s eyes widened. This was not one living thing, it was a great many creatures. It was a colony of many flashing colors and shapes, all maintaining tight formation within a slowly expanding volume. And it was eating. The splashing activity at the edges revealed itself as sea life rushing in to bite at the greater whole. Rather than diminish it, they enlarged it ever so slightly. Each new gnash of teeth drew a fresh gush of blood, which in turn drew in more hungry mouths. It was a cancer in reverse; it grew not by feeding on those around it, but by ringing the dinner bell for ravening multitudes.
The image stayed with him as he tried to do his morning work. The computer offered intermittent service. The home had the best receivers made, albeit upwards of a decade old, but there were hours every day when the computer sat useless, unable to connect to the outside world. That meant he was out of touch with his holdings.
After some frustrating attempts, he made contact with his top staffers in Manhattan. He hadn’t been there in person in years. He hated visiting that office. The landowners had diverted trillions in tax dollars to build protective dykes around key districts, including, of course, Wall Street; still, the rising waters of the Atlantic would not be stopped. They pooled and stagnated in ruined subways, courtyards, and back alleyways, relentlessly weakening aging brick and steel structures as well as moldering wood and drywall, and adding vast clouds of mosquitoes to the city’s occupying force of rats, roaches, fleas, flies, mice, mites, and assorted carrion eaters. Humans slogged through the pungent water on foot or in rickety water taxis. Better to work from home.
This morning’s main business was to get things moving on the Styx Project. Jaymes World LLC was poised to acquire controlling shares in a consortium of funerary real estate, huge tracts in nations all over the world. Laws and public opinion were blocking the individual owners--blocking him--from developing the lands beyond their current, sentimental purpose: slabs of overpriced marble marking holes containing forgotten piles of dust. What a waste. With some carefully crafted legal instruments, JW would offer the descendants of the decedents what his people termed ‘reverse mortal mortgages,’ known as revmorts. Paying pennies on the dollar over a few short years, the project would get families, more or less willingly, to cede their rights to the land in which their loved ones rested. The true value of the land could then be exploited, as it should be. Arlington National would be the test case. If the team could handle any protests there, it would be relatively simple to rezone countless other tracts. Legal was behind schedule drawing up the paperwork. One junior VP openly asked where the dead would rest, ensuring an end to his tenure. Planning was in a tizzy about a dearth of labor for any construction, not to mention what the team called a collapse of demand, all due to the shrinking population: five billion, down from eight billion. Aimery knew they were thinking pragmatically when they should be thinking strategically. Properly handled, The Styx Project would explode in tens of thousands of locations all at once, like everyone discovering the latest pop star all on the same day. The result would be a quantum hike in stock values. At that point, he could decide whether the final goal was viable, and if not he could simply dump the whole project onto one of the other global corporate dynasties at a hefty profit. He half-thought, half-muttered, It’s time to light a fire under some asses and get this project in high gear.
He managed to place several key calls in between satellite gaps. By early afternoon, he’d managed to check on most of his accounts and send updated instructions to functionaries on four continents.
He’d learned from his father’s failures to keep a tight grip on things. Bertrand Jaymes had presided over the family’s various holdings during The Great Resizing. Nearly two decades saw the loss of sixty percent of total global wealth and production. Father had left it to his boards and collectives to staunch the bleeding at Jaymes World, but nothing worked. Union agitators sprang up in every shop. Aimery, a young man of 42, stepped in and whipped the family dynasty back into shape, breaking labor collectives, legally and otherwise, and moving jobs, factories, and headquarters wherever the environmental laws, wages, and tax rates dictated. A few strategic donations made all the difference. No, not a few; a whole hell of a lot of them. And it worked. JW kept the lights on, brighter than ever. Until lately.
He was about to break for lunch when the contessa called. He popped her up onto the wall, making her translucent so that he could continue to check his stocks on the next vid layer while appearing to meet her eyes. The global indices were continuing their downward slope. More and more commodities were rising in price, but only because supplies were drying up, in some cases entirely. Eleven straight quarters. His people could still slice out a profit, but the pie was shrinking. The trend was troubling, to say the least. It was as if the markets were losing the will to live.
“You look well, Aimey.” He hated that nickname more than he could express, but had practiced hiding his disgust.


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments "A Home on the Hill" (PART TWO)
by Chris Riker

Margherita De Pascale--the contessa of nothing, though that didn’t stop her from flashing the title like a fifty-karat diamond at any jackass who’d coo and smile--represented a bankroll comparable to his own, and he was not one to insult wealth. At 113, her latest re-facing seemed to have gone well, mostly, so he returned her compliment.
“And you are the most beautiful liar I know, Maggie. Don’t ever change!” They half-laughed at the tired joke. “You’re lucky to get through. I’ve been having troubles with the comms all morning.”
“It’s not like the old days, Aimey. There are just too few of us with the focus to learn how to get things done. I remember being able to call for new satellites whenever I needed them. But, that was--well, never mind how long ago. Point is, it’s impossible to get a satellite built, let alone launched. So, we’re just waiting for the last of the old ones to go dark.” He had to admit she had a decent mind. If only the rest of her body matched her face. Why in the hell she paid surgeons to fix the chandelier while ignoring the plumbing was beyond him. The thought of her nest, even in the half-light, left any lust he might have felt in a bloody heap; their last time together would remain their last time.
“I’d like to talk to you about a new program to address that very concern. And not just communications satellites. A new generation of tech schools and a fine crop of graduates could unlock vast potentials--”
“No, no,” she cut him off. “The brain drain is complete. The universities are worthless. No one understands the specs and blueprints. It’s gone, Aimey. Entropy wins. Gone and not coming back. I’m afraid our dreams of boldly going into space have been popped like a balloon.”
“Quite the opposite, dear. Our projections suggest the time is ripe to clear significant profits from ice mining, getting an unlimited supply of potable water from the outer solar system.”
“Yes, that fits with the reports my people send me. Fewer than ten percent of known aquifers still produce safe water.”
“Add to that the concern that pharmas are turning up in even the most carefully treated drinking supplies. Demand for unadulterated aqua vita is skyrocketing. My people suggest that despite the enormous initial expense, the ROI for space-based ice mining will tip to the plus side very soon. From there--”
“And what I wanted to suggest, Aimey, is that we pool our remaining resources on the refurbishing and fortification of Sicily.” She attempted a warm smile, which had the odd effect of pulling on heavily reworked skin in ways that made it appear she was wearing an ill-fitting mask. “Think of it: we could share coffee each morning looking out on the Mediterranean. Darling, say yes and please a lonely woman, hmmm?” Her vamping nearly made him lose his composure.
Still, this was no idle project. The island nation was already more fortress than resort. What she was saying, he knew, was that she’d become frightened that the recent uprisings in Nepal, Peru, Indonesia, Eastern Africa, and China would spread to the Mediterranean. He told her he’d consider throwing his weight behind such a project, though he mentally rejected the idea of actually joining her in Sicily. This house was his home and always would be.
Onto the main subject: “I wanted to be sure you got my invitation.”
“Yes, Aimey. I’d love to pop in. I’m not sure whether I can be there in the flesh, but I’ll be an electronic fly on the wall, as it were. Assuming the satellites permit it. Now, what do you want for your 104th?”
She had not quite finished asking when a loud crash erupted in another room. What the-- “I’ll have to call you back.” He severed the call and got up to investigate, using his wrist link to call for his guards to meet him in the library annex, where the noise appeared to have originated. Walking there took him through a section of the great house that was under renovation. He stopped dead in his tracks as one large room revealed itself. It was one of the rooms added by his father--garish and ‘modern’ as people a generation ago had perceived ‘modern.’ He hadn’t been in there since he ordered the makeover. The work was to have been finished by now. Instead, there was an entire wall stripped down to its wooden skeleton. The room itself was littered with plaster dust and construction debris. Missing, too, were building supplies, tools… and workmen. They’d begun work weeks ago. Where the hell are they? He made a mental note to get answers for this dereliction. Unless something happened to them. No, that’s stupid.
Continuing on, he dodged, as he always had to, the incredibly ugly statue his father had ordered placed in the center of the hall: an eight-foot samurai warrior largely carved from a single block of fine jade. Pearl-handled daggers jutted viciously from between the plates of his armor, indicating he’d been pierced in the liver and one lung. The figure’s face was twisted into rage as he held his katana above his head, ready for an apparent death blow. The target of that fatal slash was whoever stood in front of the piece. The sculpture, by some long-dead artisan, carried the title: ‘No Surrender.’ The message hardly reflected the man who had bought it. Aimery wanted to move it, but it weighed many tons. The floor below had been reinforced to carry its weight. Over many years, he’d tracked down most of the junk art his father had amassed and sold what would sell, then donated other pieces for tax write-offs. Let them take up space in public museums. This green monstrosity, however, appeared fixed in place for all time, like the house itself. At least his people told him it was still ridiculously valuable. That was some comfort.
Aimery’s father had graduated to the catacombs of senescence, as he called it: actually The Karkor Institute in Newport where his father’s husk could presumably continue forever, like the ship of Theseus. As in that famous thought experiment, doctors had replaced virtually every organ in the old man’s body, raising the question of whether they were now treating the same patient as when they started. Whatever the answer, his father had not spoken a coherent sentence in over thirty years.
He met the guards and quizzed them on the state of things. One said nothing. Neither met his gaze. They’d long ago learned the ‘see but don’t look’ method of the servant.
“Where is Duerr? He should be here.” So much for Teutonic efficiency.
“Sir, Captain Duerr went to help his family; their home took heavy damage in the storm. I think his daughter may have--”
“He left without my permission? Well, congratulations--” He looked at the tall, beefy guard, whose face almost disappeared beneath an elaborate indigo tattoo. What trade winds had blown this man so far from home, he did not know, but damned if a Māori warrior wouldn’t scare off intruders!
“Maaka Parata, sir.”
“Congratulations, Captain Parata. You’re my new security chief. Job one: find out what that noise was.”
“Sir?”
“It was a loud crash. Don’t tell me you didn’t hear it. Are you deaf, Captain? I think someone knocked something over, or maybe someone… or something… got in through the hole in the blister. I don’t know. It was loud. Maybe some goddamned pelican got in and is wandering around my home, breaking things. Look, I don’t know what it is… just find it and kill it!”
“Yes, sir.” The newly-minted Captain Parata couldn’t hide his apparent confusion.
“First, get the car. We’re going into the village for lunch and to arrange some things.”
The giant car wound through the cracked and potholed streets of the old seaside villages nestled in the parts of the island that lay outside of the Jaymes estate. There were no other cars. It had been weeks since fuel carriers had serviced Jaymestown; his own car’s supply was always perilously low. Being able to afford something and being able to get something were not the same thing these days. He found the situation ridiculous, but could do nothing about it.
The local hotels were once the envy of the world, but times had changed. Their fortunes fled, they’d become out-of-the-way places for a handful of wealthy tourists to discover, year after year. Their condition now showed generations of decline. Indeed, it was testimony to the skill of the original architects that the hotels still stood at all, considering the quilt of patches: corrugated metal and tarpaper replacing whole sections of clapboard elegance. Comically mismatched windows marred the face of many of the multi-story hotels. They, like the shacks and shanties in the area, wore a uniform wainscoting of brine and muck from last night’s storm surge.
This area was far beyond the blister. Here, shore dwellers took their chances with the increasingly vindictive ocean. The storm had caused light damage to many homes. For every one where workers were patching cedar shingles, other properties stood quietly showing off the effects of the latest assault as families sat resignedly on the curb staring into space. A stretch of Walcott Avenue, around Union and Lincoln, had apparently taken the worst of it: carefully preserved Cape Cod-style houses were gone, leaving a few pipes and a single chimney rising up to nowhere, piles of broken shingles, and random detritus wrapped around salt-water poisoned red maples.
In the front seat, beyond the sound partition, Captain Parata was motioning to the driver to pull over. Aimery looked out and spotted the apparent focus of the guard’s concern: in the twisted branches and scraps of fabric and sodden papers, was the shape of a large doll. It was face down in a mound of mud, its life-like hair matted with filth and dried leaves, one red ribbon neatly in place. A woman sat nearby, staring out to the horizon… and beyond. Just as Parata was reaching for the door handle, Aimery flicked the intercom: “What are you stopping for? Keep going.” There’s nothing to be done about that, not on my time in my ship. The two men up front exchanged a quick look, then drove on.
He liked to think of any vehicle he was in, be it car or plane, as his ship. It led his thoughts to roll back like the ebbing tide, revealing a carefully preserved memory. As a boy, he had loved being on the water, learning to handle a Sunfish as well as handling the girls who were drawn to sailboats. During his sixteenth summer his Grampa Avery had taken him on a month-long voyage around the Caribbean aboard his schooner, a hand-crafted wooden two-master christened Bindi’s Virtue. One night in Saint Martin, while drunk as proverbial pirates, Grampa Avery had confessed to him every detail of his wild weekends with Bindi, even revealing the true owner of that name. The boy Aimery came away blushing, with a mission to live life as boldly as Grampa Avery, whom he secretly considered to be his true father. He missed those days. He tried, in his eighties, to recapture something of those exhilarating times, even commissioning a 120-ton brigantine with a towering square-rigged foremast. Three seasons in, the foul waters of ports from Boston to The Keys had permanently etched a brown stain along the waterline. He never forgot the smell of those chunky harbor swells, and never took her out again.
They drove on to Newport for lunch. He might have preferred one of the Italian restaurants serving mounds of pasta on Federal Hill in Providence or one of the many quiet taverns dotting East Greenwich’s Hill and Harbor district. There was a problem, though: traversing the 60-year-old Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge connecting the island westward to the rest of Rhode Island was problematic. Pedestrians packed the crumbling lanes in each direction, on foot or bicycle, carrying everything they owned. Some dreamed no doubt of opportunities on one side: work or a market for whatever wares or services they had to sell. The rest were equally sure that reaching the opposite shore would reverse their dim fortunes.


message 5: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments "A Home on the Hill" (PART THREE)
by Chris Riker

So instead, the big car sailed east along the stately Newport Bridge, which had patrols to keep the pedestrians off.
The city had fared better in the storm than the villages around his home. These days, Newport’s marinas were only half full of aging luxury craft, and though most appeared to have escaped damage overnight, they had not escaped the relentless gnawing of time’s teeth. As a young man, he’d joined in ‘the happening,’ a summertime moveable feast of sex, booze, and drugs that jumped from one yacht to the next. Male cadets from the naval college performed admirably, pleasuring the wives of billionaires whose mogul-husbands were busy striking drunken deals aboard the floating palaces. All that was a distant shadow now. The party atmosphere had long since fled these slips, leaving crusty hulls and sagging grey rigging swaying in the dirty breeze as a sad reminder of the city’s once giddy excesses. More than a few giant gas-guzzling yachts lay at the bottom of the Atlantic, their owners having scuttled them for the insurance money and grudgingly switched to sail or wind turbine power.
He chose a restaurant along Thames Street, tucked between various upscale shops and bars, just far enough from the putrid water of the docks to avoid the stink. The beer was cold, if weak. As usual, beef was nowhere to be found on the menu. No sweet pork, either. Although it’s not like the owners are gonna advertise it if they have that. A couple at the table next to his looked over. Oh, that had come out aloud. Whatever. He settled for a bowl of Rhode Island Clam Chowder. The clams--quahogs, in fact--were most likely the product of one of the many land-based aquacultural farms that thrived even as the oceans died. The potatoes seemed real, but he recognized the onions and celery as the artificial cellulose produced in one of his plants. The bacon was anybody’s guess. The crackers came sealed in the same packets he remembered from childhood, and for all he knew may have been sitting in a warehouse since then. As he chewed the quahog bits, an unwanted image came to mind of the dark mass he had seen in the bay this morning. He pushed that thought away and finished his meal.
The wiry-haired woman who served him said not a word. Instead, he enjoyed the sound of a familiar voice, his own, coming from the Book of Jaymes she wore around her neck. “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” One of his better snatches of wisdom. The book followed up with: “Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life.” He forgot in what context these had occurred to him. What mattered is that he had recorded them and generously shared them with his employees.
He took a closer look at the woman who wore the talking necklace. He thought he recognized her from many years before; perhaps a former lover, or a maid, probably both. If she still felt anything, indeed even remembered him that way, she’d never given any outward sign in all the times he’d been here. Not that he really cared; she was much too old now for him to go looking to stir the ashes. Whatever.
After lunch, he stopped by the clinic to see about his lymph node augmentations. The building was closed. A note on the door explained that Dr. Laghiri was dead and his aides, who had only minimal training, had decided to move on. When did this happen? He looked through the glass door to see that the clinic’s furnishing were absent, save for a dark green fish tank and some overturned chairs. It took money to attract a proper longevity doctor. He could do it, but he’d face a bidding war with a dozen other corporate dynasties, no small matter.

He shook off the surprise and focused on the final, and most pleasant, item on the agenda. He checked with planners about arranging his own birthday party. Only a handful of people came and went in the shops. Although it was June, tourists now avoided this place, exposed as it was to the Atlantic weather.
Really, someone should be doing this busy work for him, but there was no one he could trust. Barry was useless, and besides he had not seen the boy in years. His daughters were off, doing whatever they did with his money. It wasn’t the kind of thing he’d leave to his corporate underlings. So, it was up to him.
As they traveled on, Captain Parata informed him that the guards had conducted a thorough search of the Jaymes mansion and grounds, but found nothing. Couldn’t have been all that thorough, now could it? Parata offered his best apology and they drove on. His first day as captain was not going well.
Aimery looked from one run-down shopping plaza to the next, finding a little here and more there. Favors and trinkets, snacks, booze. His favorite independent stores were long gone. In fact, he’d made it a point to buy most of them, with an eye to developing them into global chains. In the end, though, he folded them into larger retail holdings, in some cases erasing generations of work. No matter, since his business savvy ensured greater profit from each of the locations. At least for a while. These days, nothing was sure. But, that wasn’t his fault. People were failing in their roles as supporters of the greater good that Jaymes World offered.
The car rolled over streets lined by nine-foot privacy walls and trees from all nations. In the 18th century, sheep farmers cleared virtually every native tree. Then, the leisure class of the Gilded Age embroidered Newport with lush elms, European beeches, Japanese maples, and countless gardens crafted to rival Versailles. These days, what little decorative flora remained stood sickly and stunted.
Stopping at Rosecliff, he made sure no one objected to his using the massive old summer cottage for his party. It wasn’t as though the staffers could refuse. He just wanted to ensure that the estate was closed off to public visitors in time to put everything in order. The stony edifice had cost two and half million dollars back when crews finished it in 1902, an insignificant fraction of the cost of building such a home now. Getting things done had been easier for the great oil barons of the day; no one questioned their place atop society. Rosecliff had once provided the setting for a movie based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby. As a boy, Aimery dreamed of being Robert Redford in a flawless pink suit and keeping the lithe and lovely Mia Farrow all to himself in an oversized marble dollhouse. Aimery had thrown parties there before, allowing his guests to wander the south-facing cliff walk from one of the great houses to the next. None of the Newport pharaonic locations matched his own home, of course, but he had no intention of letting so many friends and strangers into his special preserve. Easier to make proper use of this dandified vacation home. That was the real benefit of ongoing efforts to keep Rosecliff in decent repair, along with a handful of lesser but still fine homes along Bellevue Avenue. His footsteps echoed through the atrium as he walked in the door. Gazing up, he pictured himself descending the grand staircase dressed in a splendid white tuxedo. Having his party at this location was a cliché, but the best possible kind. Not bad.
In the evening, he, his driver, and Captain Parata made their way home. The big car drove through a tunnel under the blister and dropped him at the main atrium, then drove out of sight. Stepping inside, he heard, and felt, something. Not silence. The wind still blew through the damaged blister. The house still made sounds. There was something else. Something large was slowly moving through the upper levels, just at the edge of his perception.
A new thought occurred to him. What if these sounds he heard were not some broken, wandering creature, but rather from one of his own spawn. Is that you, Barry? Barry had been busy, lately, trying to tap into some of the family’s business interests. What if he had ambitions to do more than just fiddle with them? What if Barry was planning to send Aimery to join his father at the clinic? No. That was not going to happen. He would put a stop to any thoughts the boy might have. Barry would learn--maybe sooner than later--that power meant always being ready to fuck or fight. To kill if necessary.
He summoned his staff, but only four came. They stood, haggard and gaunt, in their cheaply made uniforms. One of the girls--no smile; too bony to be sexy--had failed to properly press her uniform. He made a mental note to dock her pay. He paid them good money. The fees he charged covered uniforms and laundering. They were responsible for presenting themselves in proper order, not this sad puppy condition.
“Has my son been here? Or my daughters or any of the former Mrs. Jaymeses?” He noted the vacant looks in the row of sunken eyes. What was wrong with them? Are you people or old ragdolls with mud for brains?
Then another thought hit him with a sudden chill. Perhaps these sorry excuses for staffers were in on this… this plot. Or, maybe some of the villagers had allowed their envy of his fine house to get the better of their reason. They’d throw away all that he had brought to the island just to possess what was his. Not a chance. These half-starved peons couldn’t muster a decent fart, much less a coup. That was--that should be--impossible. He dismissed the idea as he dismissed the blank-faced servants.
He spent the next hour going from room to room, but found nothing. Out one window, the spotlights revealed how overgrown the topiary had become, how laced with choke vines; he couldn’t tell the lion from the panda he had loved as a child. His explorations took him to parts of the house he hadn’t visited in years. The solarium held a dozen or more aviaries. On the bottoms of the oversized cages, there were dusty feathers but there was no sign of any living bird. Had they perished by some intruder? Somebody get hungry? Up on the fourth floor, he found his grandfather’s suite. Propped on a stand, a hand-written journal stood turned to a page with a single entry: "We gladly gave our nights to every whispery sin, until the daylight found us bitter and empty." Grampa had gotten morose in his later years.
Again he assembled the staff. This time, the troop review totaled three. When none could explain the absence of the fourth, he ordered them all off the property immediately. He threatened to call security, wondering if indeed he still had a security department. The ex-staffers made no challenge and quietly collected their things and left, walking slowly back to the village that, weather permitting, still included their homes.
Aimery began the business of rummaging up dinner in his cavernous kitchen. Thankfully, the utensils were still in place. But, try as he might, he could not find all of the ingredients to make any of his favorite dishes. There’d been theft here, too. As he filled a Wedgewood plate with canned salmon and olives, his ears pricked up. There was a scraping sound, like a rake being dragged over the dining hall’s fine tile and teak inlay floors. He stopped what he was doing and listened. Nothing. He hummed to himself and started to bring his plate to a small servants table by the massive copper-hooded stove. The scraping drew slightly closer, then stopped again. Craning his neck, he could see down a small corridor to the dining hall. There was no sign of any movement. Screw it. He released a disgusted breath from his lips, and ate his dinner.
Aimery settled in for the night, with the help of a bottle of Courvoisier XO Impérial and some carefully hoarded pot. In the days to come, he had a great deal to do.


message 6: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments "A Home on the Hill" (PART FOUR)
by Chris Riker

He planned the best party ever, complete with the finest foods available, a rainbow fountain of liquors, four bands, and a coterie of young people for sex and feasting. His invitations drew near unanimous acceptance and gifts soon began pouring in.
Ten days before the big event, he canceled the entire production, canceled the food and liquor, canceled the three-night reserve on the great marble mansion on Bellevue Avenue, canceled the brigade of servants and hired lovers. He did it all with one note fired from his wrist link. He eventually acquiesced to allow his friends, employees, and admirers to send video greetings, but no actual guests attended his grand masque. The 104th anniversary of the birth of Aimery Jaymes became an evening for one. He was sorely lacking in energy.
His implants were no longer responding as they should, not to mention the noticeable drop in certain vital hormones. Any attempt at debauchery could only end in frustration, possibly humiliation. No. Just no. He’d have to find a new doctor to replace them, soon. No matter, he’d tend to it.
He hired a new set of staffers, and fired most of them within three days. He just didn’t like the look of that bunch. He oversaw the bots as they finished repairing the blister, only to watch another storm tear a new hole in the northeastern section. He checked with all of his corporate departments to see whether they could muster the resources to build new bots and the operating support to go with them. All resources were committed; all supplies were facing sharp rationing. His people promised him they’d get it done somehow, but he knew… he knew they were lying.
It didn’t matter. He was home. He was safe. Was that damn thing moving again? No. No sound. Good. Good. No sound. He just needed to focus on the next business at hand: The Styx Project. That was the future.
###
[Note: Chris Riker is not a plagiarist, but Aimery Jaymes is. Two of his Book of Jaymes quotes are lifted from Ayn Rand and Frederick Nietzsche.]


NOTE: If you enjoy this story, PLEASE SHARE the news... and please check out my novel, 'Come the Eventide' on Amazon or Audible or CometheEventide.com Thanks.


message 7: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments "Mara" (PART ONE)
by Chris Riker

I chose the triquetra pattern for Mara, my forever one. I run my fingers over its interlacing trinity knots and declare that she and I are united in eternity. There are three of these. Mine is coming. The original still lies, I suppose, painted on a granite wall deep inside our improper cave. Triads. The power of three. What you carry, what you seek, and what those make of you.
OK, I have to back-up.
Our teacher, Mrs. Flynt, took us on a field trip once to the Alton Jones campus. I was amazed there were so many acres of cedar, oak, and poplar inside West Warwick. On that spring day we hiked through the hilly woods, passing speckled red mushrooms, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and fiddlehead ferns until we came to a spot near the lake. In her sing-song teachery voice, Mrs. Flynt pointed out “a cohort of igneous titans dredged and dropped in a glacial campaign fought eons ago.”
Someone said, “It’s a cave!”
Mrs. Flynt said, “No, a proper cave is formed by water chewing its way through limestone or by a lava tube or some such.” I took a closer look at the cluster of boulders forming a big hole in the ground. This must be an improper cave, I thought.
Later, we got a talk about snake bites and venereal disease–it was two talks actually; I think Mrs. Flynt used the snakes to build up her courage. My classmates and I hiked back to the school bus laughing and joking about “ssnakesss with ssyphilisss.” It was a fun day. I didn’t get many of those.
Mara wasn’t on that trip. I met her at a party months later. I don’t usually go for Goth chicks, but there was something, a presence, about the pale girl sitting all alone, intensely scoping the room. She was underdeveloped, filling out her black dress slightly more than the hangar it came on. Her bangs were comically uneven, but cute.
She caught me staring. “What?”
“Sorry,” I stammered. Indicating her dress, I asked, “Who died?” It was a stupid thing to say, an aggressive-defensive, insecure mess of an opening gambit. She was enjoying my obvious discomfort.
“Don’t make fun of the dead,” she said, her lips widening into a crooked grin. Weird, but cute.
I took a chance and sat down next to her. We talked nerd stuff. She was super smart, got straight A’s in chemistry, a subject I barely survived. I sketched a few things on napkins and bragged that one day I was going to be an artist.
She said no. “Not the hang-it-in-the-Louvre kind, anyway. These are good, but it’s more like you’re trying to tell a story. You need to write, use these to help tell stories.”
“Like kiddie books? Like Where the Wild Things Are?” I asked.
“Or, who’s the guy who wrote The Giving Tree?”
I can never remember his name; the guy who looked like a bald biker dude and wrote those gross, funny poems. “You must read a lot,” I said, trying to keep the conversation moving.
“I like books more than people.” She looked at her knees.
I wanted to change the subject. “What else do you like to do?”
“Nothing.” I thought she’d frozen me out. Then, she said, “I like to learn about the secret arts.” Cool!
We drifted outside and she told she practiced Wicca. She told me how it was all about living in harmony with nature, and how she wasn’t supposed to use her special knowledge to hurt people. “I seek to honor the Triple Moon Goddess and the Horned God.”
My mouth hung open. A horny god. I had no clue. “So, what kind of spells do you do?”
“I am learning ways to build inner strength and acquire wisdom, to provide protection.”
“I’ll protect you,” I offered and leaned in to kiss her.
“No!” She pulled away abruptly, then walked off into the night. I hadn’t meant to make fun of her beliefs. I just wanted a kiss. I headed back to the house, carrying an empty beer and a rapidly fading erection.
The next time I saw Mara was at the homecoming game. I played bass drum in the marching band, not because I was good, but because I was tall. For our half-time show we did Copa Cabana and Star Wars Theme and We Are the Champions and we sucked. Afterwards, we took a break. I spotted Mara in the concessions line. It was warm for September, but she wore a dowdy brown coat with a high collar and a wide-brimmed (witch’s?) hat pulled down over her eyes.
“Hi!” I called.
She flashed a smile. “Chris. Hi!” She sounded genuinely happy to see me, and that was electric joy to my senses. For an instant her face peeked out from under the brim. I saw that one snaggle-tooth that shows when she smiles, her big, expressive brown eyes, and the fading purplish marks along her jaw, poorly hidden by make-up.
She saw the concern in my eyes and that’s all it took. It was like watching a time-stop movie of a flower blooming, except in reverse. She closed up tight and turned her face toward the person in front of her in line. For the second time, I had blown it. I was determined to do better. I realized we had something in common.
We met a few times in the cafeteria and I made a point of saying, doing, and thinking nothing offensive. (You try it!) She warmed up to me, even suggested we enroll in an art class after school. She passed me a library book on Celtic art. The triquetra drew our attention, the perfection of a triple race track turning back on itself into infinity. We spent the next Saturday morning painting that design on the big rock that acts like a watchman at the entryway to EGHS. (That’s East Greenwich High School. Go, Avengers! Huzzah!) It wasn’t vandalism; everyone painted the rock. New layers obliterated the ones below, though they wound up looking the same.
This was my time, the one part of my life when everything was possible. The future lay in a perfect pattern before my eyes. I owed that wonderful feeling to Mara. We were sharing a chocolate cabinet. OK, you’re probably not from Rhode Island. A cabinet is an ice cream shake. Anyway, I blurted out that I loved her. She spoke softly. “I love you.” I heard her say those words. I can still hear her saying those words, just as I can still feel the warmth of her skin and the thrill of her kisses. Yes, it happened.
Don’t ask me why, but I felt there was something only I could give to Mara, something she needed. I knew her secret; the clues were on her like cheat notes to a test. The trick was to get her to say it. Over the course of weeks, I got it out of her in bits and pieces. Her mom’s boyfriend, Brad, liked Mara as much as he liked her mom. Maybe more. And he was a mean old drunk. I asked Mara why she didn’t tell the police, or her mom. She said she thought her mom knew. That sucked. I told her (honestly) that I knew how she felt. I told her about Barry.
Uncle Barry used to visit my room when I was little. I don’t remember much, but I know what I know. He’s gone now. Moved to Oregon and died. When I heard, I wanted to laugh, but that’s not what I did. That’s the really fucked up thing about me.
Brad sounded like another Barry. I told Mara, “The difference between men and women is that a man wants to beat the shit out of his attacker.” That wasn’t completely true, but she accepted it. I sensed she appreciated my candor. A spark went off in my mind, my heart. I was her brave knight. I promised her I would avenge her; it would be my life’s quest.
She held my hand tightly. “Together,” she said.
Being the future writer, I laid out our plan. Mara was the brainy Wiccan, so she brewed up a chemical arsenal.
Obviously, we picked Halloween, or Samhain as she called it. After her mom left for work, we put on a little performance for Brad, complete with music, magic, and Mara’s special spooky punch. He fell like a lightning-struck oak. We got him into his brand new Cordoba with its Aztec eagle hood ornament and drove to the wilds of West Warwick. My learner’s permit meant I had to have an adult with me in order to drive after dark. Nobody said the adult had to be conscious.
We dragged the groggy old bastard for an hour under the gibbous moon until we found our secret place; my memory did not falter. The boulder pile offered up its intimate domain. (Halloween makes me talk like this.)
I dropped Brad down the hole, into that stony interior with its rudimentary floor of mud and leaves and muskrat turds. Mara was dressed in full regalia, with a black and red hooded cloak. By lantern light, she performed an arcane ceremony, at one point holding up a wicked cool dagger with a pentagram on the hilt. “Death to lies,” she said.
I went to work painting a nice triquetra on the wall above our semi-conscious subject. The Day-Glo green came alive in the lamp’s aura. It wasn’t paint, but a special, permanent dye, Mara’s creation. I was careful to save enough. We worked together to turn Brad’s manhood into a baby gherkin.
Pointing at the symbol that stood over our work, I said, “We should get tattoos.”
“We should cut the design into our flesh.”
I looked at the blade again. “We should get tattoos,” I repeated.
We decided to do it in henna, there being no end of surprises in Mara’s little bag of tricks. To this day I can feel the spot where the tattoo was.
Brad was still in la-la land. My heart was pounding like my bass drum; I was jazzed from what we’d done. It felt … righteous. As we sat there in our improper cave, I turned to Mara. “Let’s make love,” I said.
Familiar storm clouds filled her beautiful eyes. “I … can’t.” Everything I needed to know was in those two tortured words, if I had listened, but I was young and horny and stupid. She was trying to explain her situation. Mara said she needed me to be her friend. What I heard was rejection aimed straight at me. Poisonous pride flooded my brain. I had offered her my cock like it was some great gift. She didn’t want it.
We spoke only a little as we hoisted Brad’s fat ass out of the hole and dragged him back to his car. Pain and awareness was seeping into his mind. I told her we should have used her dagger on him, but Mara stopped me. “This is enough. It’s wrong to add more evil to the world.” So, I wrote a letter and put it in his pocket, saying next time he wouldn’t find a pickle dick; he’d find a stump.
Brad moved out of her mom’s house. I hope he died, but I really don’t know. The cops never came knocking, so to hell with him.
Mara and I saw each other often. We walked through graveyards; gawped at the lizards in the pet store; went antiquing (what teenager goes antiquing?); and ate the world’s best pizza at Two Guys from Italy on Main Street. I cherish those moments, replay them often in my mind. I called it dating, but she corrected me. She said we were best friends. So, I went to a boutique in Newport called The Operculum, and bought her a friendship ring: a moonstone set in tri-color gold. Witchy chic.
Anyway, try as I might, I graduated a virgin. Mara skipped commencement. We saw each other a few times that summer, but something had changed. When we kissed, she—it was— I’ve tried a million times to figure out what I could have done differently, but succeeded only in making myself ache. I have to accept my past as it is. (That’s a fucking lie, in case you couldn’t tell.)
She went off to college at UC Berkeley; I guess they have more Wiccan circles out there. I got into RISD (just Google it) and focused on my art and my writing. I got pretty good. I’ve written more than a dozen children’s books over the years. “Danny the Lonely Blue Dragon” is mine. I like talking to kids at book signings and public readings, with their folks around, of course.
I don’t have any kids of my own. Dawn, my ex, said it was best not to. “You know how you are.” I do know. At times, I’d be all over her, but mostly I wouldn’t touch her, just sit around wishing and being moody. My compass really spins! Dawn used to say her love was worth more than that… more than me. She was right.
After the split, I’d hook up with other women, single moms. It’s no use. What I carry has become what I seek. (cont'd)


message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments "Mara" (PART TWO)
by Chris Riker


I haven’t … but I can feel the beast getting stronger. Bourbon and a pricy shrink help, but the main thing is Mara. I feel her presence warning me against passing along this dark gift. You can believe that or not; it’s what I feel.
I wrote to her about all of it. She wrote or emailed often, telling me about her life, her Wicca buddies, her three fat cats, her career in pharmaceuticals and the difficulties she had at work, plus the gory details on why her relationships crashed and burned. Some of it hurt to read, but I was glad she trusted me with her private thoughts. She signed her letters “your enchantress.” She never wrote the word “love.” That hurt, too.
One day, I found a letter in my mailbox, written in her fine hand on parchment stationery. Mara said she might be coming back to Rhode Island soon. It was like my heart stepped out of the freezer. Maybe, I could say or do or be something different this time. I wanted to be better, to be someone who could offer her a decent future. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter now. It didn’t happen.
And now it’s time for me to exit the infinite track. All I have left is the quest, then I’m done. I couldn’t be her protector, so I’ll be her avenger. Huzzah!
Witnesses say Jack, her junkie boyfriend, threw Mara against a wall so hard it caused bleeding in her brain. The prosecutor tried to pin it on him, but he was miles away when the aneurism killed her, so the jury gave him a pass.
The funeral was nice, I think. I was pretty drunk. I’m glad her mom brought Mara home and hope she doesn’t mind that I came back today and replaced the little bronze plaque with this big Celtic marker.
So, I stand here crying like I haven’t done since Barry died. I’ve got one hand on Mara’s stone, the other holds a fifth of Cuervo Gold and a plane ticket. Without her, I’m a bad thing waiting to happen; it’s only a question of who gets hurt. I choose Jack. I’ll do what I have to do and make the cops do the rest. I’ve made sure the matching triquetra headstone I ordered for myself will be ready when they bring me back here.
Mara, I can’t claim to understand your choices; I hope you can accept mine. I like to think you’re wearing the moonstone ring. Under this vacant October sky, I pronounce the two of us bound to eternity. I am a used and broken wreck of a man, but you, Mara, are beautiful. You are love-worthy.

-----////------

Thank you for reading my story. If you enjoyed it, please tell others about it. And please check out my novel, 'Come the Eventide' on Amazon or Audible. Or go to CometheEventide.com.


message 9: by Les (new)

Les | 4 comments Chris wrote: "Hieronymus LaRoche, DDS
by
Chris Riker


Dr. LaRoche moved with purpose, using two of his six legs to pull the water pick with him as he crawled over gums and molars to reach and clean deep crevic..."


I believe the days ahead will be sweet for LaRoche, he seems a real go-getter...a family man at heart too. I can't quite get my bearings on his size. Seems small, almost tiny but then he has instruments and other things that make him seem possibly larger (giving the cop a toothbrush for instance). I bet he would have been elated to have found that putrid hunk of masticated ham in Ms. Wainwright's mouth, mmmmm...

Anyway, it's creative and had my attention. He appears to be a multidimensional character hopefully we hear more from him.


message 10: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments Thank you for your comment.
This one's really just for fun, though I think there is a bit of humanity in Dr. H... even if he is a, you know, dentist.


message 11: by Les (new)

Les | 4 comments It was kind of erotic, lol

I'll try and read your others. I have kids too and have no time right now to sit down for a longer read.


message 12: by Chris (new)

Chris Riker | 10 comments I hope you enjoy the others too.

Erotic? I'll tell Dr. H you said so.


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