Aug 112019
 

One of the holes in our plan to offer something in every sub-genre of SciFi is High Fantasy, something many of you love. We have a number of urban fantasies, but haven’t checked the high fantasy box yet. I did offer a contract to an author, Verna McKinnon, who wrote an awesome story about a female, dwarven bard (“The Bardess of Rhulon“). She chose to sign elsewhere (I’m not upset, she did the right thing for her) and I still support her and her book! But it leaves me with a hole :(

I would write my own high fantasy novel but as a famous character once said, “A man has to know his limitations.” Every attempt I’ve made at writing high fantasy has ended in disaster. Just about any other area within SciFi I can give you exceptional writing but not high fantasy.

So, what to do? I keep looking for someone that will match our business model, but in the short term we will be doing a high fantasy anthology with the working title “Of Witches, Warriors, and Wyverns.”  If you are interested go to Of Witches, Warriors, and Wyverns anthology guidelines. 

Our plan is to have this available before GenCon 2020.

 

 August 11, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Aug 112019
 

by Thomas Gondolfi

I want to start by thanking ALL of our fans for stopping by the booth (to buy or not to buy). Something not known is that booth time is slow time. While we do try to engage the throng that move past us, often times we end up doing nothing better than thumb twiddling. So when you come and visit, we get to talk to you about what’s happened new in your life and vice versa. So thank you. BTW… I don’t know how many of you know, but after the dealer room has closed on Sunday and we have packed up, we go to dinner with anyone who wants to come along, usually about 6 PM. Keep this in mind next year and come with us to talk about… well we talk about anything and just enjoy one another’s company.

We had an exceptional GenCon in 2019. With only one new book since GC’18 we missed a sales record by 3 books (well, 2 if you count the promised autographed book for one of our fans Aaron.) 3 lousy books, sigh. Next year… Next year.

I’d like to explain why we only had one new book since GC’18. In the last 21 years I have only had a single vacation of over the length of a long weekend. This was magnified when I started TANSTAAFL Press as I was doing two full time jobs, rather than one. So I decided to give my family a bit of attention. My wife and I managed our second vacation. As a result I didn’t get more than a single book into print. Mea Culpa. However, for those of you who don’t know, I officially retired from my day job July 8 of this year. In the 23 days I had before GenCon, I wrote the entirety of Window of Opportunity, a collection of short stories in the CorpGov Chronicles universe. That is a novel length rough draft in… call it 4 weeks. At this speed I believe I can have 3 new novel length products for GC’20 plus other interesting items I’ve got in the queue for our fans, old and new alike.

So I came in to say how great our GenCon is and I’ve spent the largest amount of time whining.  Getting back to that — speaking of records, Thursday was the single best day of any convention we’ve done. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that a Thursday is a throw away day unless you have a hot limited edition game, a limited give-away, or some other draw. To me this spoke volumes. Remember my first statement where I thanked our fans? Many of those sales happened because our fans showed up day one. This means our folks find us as a priority, not just someone they happened to stop by when they get a chance. This makes me warm all over.

Again, thank you for another spectacular year in Indianapolis.

 

 

 August 11, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 042019
 

I’ve noted a trend in dealing with you, the public. I am often asked about some facet of writing, or the business of writing/publishing. So much so that I’ve decided to foray into non-fiction (GASP) and write some small books on specific topics. Often I don’t have the time to dedicate at a show to detail all of the things I’d like to share.

I’ll write them not in lurid prose or stilted business style, but more like I’m sitting in the room with you snacking on chips and sharing war stories. They will fall into two categories: TANSTAAFL Press on Business, and TANSTAAFL Press on Writing.

Additionally, printing costs permitting, I’d like to offer these near $5 so that you can purchase sound, tested advice on the topic of your choice for a very small price. To keep costs down I intend to do some of my own picture covers (Don Quixote to the rescue).

BearWTypewriter copyBearWAddingMachine copy

Our first offering from the writing side has the working title of “Exorcising the Ghost of Writer’s Block” on the front and “To Outline or Not to Outline…” on the back. Yes, because these topics are so small we are putting two together like some very old style pulp fiction.

TANSTAAFL on Business will have the first books as, “Flirting for Fun and Profit” and one other that hasn’t yet been decided.

Hope to have these short offering out in the fall.

 July 4, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jul 042019
 

So you have heard of the year of the dog, the rabbit, etc, but for TANSTAAFL Press this is the Year of the Trailer. We purchased a small camping trailer so that we can do longer forays in order to service the needs of our fans and increase our fan base.

Curbside

 

As a sleeping space, it isn’t impressive, nor does it have many amenities. What it does have is a bed, a toilet, a camp stove, power (solar panel on the roof and generator) and a massive advertisement on each side.  Think those will catch some attention?

TrafficSide

As we mentioned last month, we are in the planning stages for an 8 week book tour in 2020, all out of our mobile billboard. Stay tuned for dates and locations as they become available.

 July 4, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jun 182019
 

Thomas Gondolfi has started a new steampunk / alternative history series “The Monarchy of America” which he hopes to have in print by early 2020. With his permission we are dropping a small portion of the ROUGH DRAFT of the book here to tempt you along with a view of the tentative cover.

ODAC - Working Cover copy

 

1

“Electric Light Fraud!” hawks a bundled-up youth with the late edition. The Boston Herald never has warmed up to Edison. I think the idea of lightning running through my house, no matter how chained, rather disturbing. No great loss.

The snow piles up in drifts grey with soot between the ruts of the cobblestone streets and against the red brick buildings. The chill of the light wind cuts through my long cloak, even with the rabbit fur around the high dog collar. The shiver stifles the yawn that had been poised on my lips. I pull the cape closer. With a long metal pole bearing a slow wick, another lad lights the gas streetlight in front of me. As he turns to race to the next lamp he nearly runs me over.

“’scuse me, Widow Ochoa.”

“Out of here, scamp,” I say swatting at him playfully. The little ones can’t know how much I hate the moniker ‘widow.’ I always associate it with someone old. At twenty-three I’m not even a spinster. Oh, I’m not young, and definitely not beautiful.

Ten hours of spelling coal byproducts from the gritty Boston skies has me wanting nothing more than to stoke the fire in my room, climb into my night dress, and bury myself under six layers of blankets for some well-deserved sleep. My pay and the widow’s pension from the Royal Treasury of King Fredrick II gives me barely enough to live at Chapman’s boarding house. With a two-hole privy and accommodations with just enough room to change my petticoats, it borders on livable. On good days, the North End stench of the fish offal and rancid whale oil from the docks doesn’t cover up the smell of Mrs. Chapman’s pickled-cabbage stew, a taste treat at which even pigs turn up their noses.

The tinny sound of bells pierce the evening air. I wince. Only the Mission Church bells carry that thin tone. Three quick strikes on the higher pitched bell indicates an alarm meant for me and my team of hell-fighters. This is the second time this month. The two-tone bells call out a Morse message. Low tone pause – T. High tone low tone high tone pause – R. High pause – E and more before the message repeats itself. Tremont Street about a mile out. Rich neighborhood.

Walking all that way in store bought shoes doesn’t appeal. Corns have already formed on the tops of my feet but I daren’t dip into my savings to get a cobbler to fix them. Hacks don’t come down here this time of the night. At this hour I might find one cruising the bars along Prince Street but I can’t stretch the coin.

As fate has it that night, a streetcar meanders down to the corner at the end of the street. I run over, being extra careful not to turn my ankle on the cobblestones or slip on the ice.

Raising my skirts and undergarments, I climb onto the running board. The vomit and muck on the trolley’s floor make me rethink my decision but the damage is already done. I envision the scrubbing time it’s going to take me to clean some previous drunk’s evening from the hems of my dress and undergarments and frown.

The driverless transport waits its prescribed thirty seconds before trundling off again. I don’t quite understand all of the reasons we don’t need a driver. Something about a pair of bumpy round cylinders, cams, they used to follow set paths. Missing the horses I understand. The earth witch in me can feel the energy stored in the massive metal springs in the thick ceiling above me.

The trams are free, if a bit finicky. Sometimes they stop and never restart. Once I saw one turn in a circle and kept turning. It took three engineers to get that one stopped and back on track.

The only other passenger, a bookkeeper from his looks, dressing in the bare minimum society requires of his station, sits across from me. His black breeches have seen too much lye soap. He wears a leather coat patched eight times more than a stumblebum might wear, and a dress shirt fraying at the cuffs and collar. Turning toward me, he says, “Them bells sound’n’ off ‘gain. Must be mean’n’ ‘nother demon on the loose.” He runs a finger inside the stiff collar neck of a shirt that may have at one time been fashionable in France, but nowhere else.

I try and stay out of conversations with men as a general rule but especially on a tram. Besides I have my work cut out for me as the person who left the glorious trail of after-excessive-drinking seems to have doused the entire floor. I lift my hem from the mess, knowing the cause is lost already.

“Oh, this here trolley is going right up where the hellfighters is gonna be.”

“How do you know about that?” I ask. “I mean, I know, but –”

“Don’t need no book learnin’ to understand them bells, Mum. Theys installing them right after the Demon Fire of ’72. I hears them so much I figures out right quick what they means. That there low bell is a T,” he said, making out the bells that continued to ring until all of my fellow hellfighters arrive. “And that there is an R. Puts ‘em all together an’ you got Tremont.”

His statement requires no response so I try to ignore the man so I might get a nap on the way out. I lean back and close my eyes.

“Maybes you lookin’ fer a man?”

“What?” I ask sitting up with a start. I don’t need a book keeper or any anyone else pawing at me.

“Thems hell-fighters makes a good livin’. Not like no hack driver or no bookkeeper neither. I hears some of the high born ladies say theys mighty fine lookin’, too.”

“No. I assure you I am not looking for a husband. As a widow I’ve had quite enough men for this lifetime and probably the next.”

“Youse don’t look old enough to be no widow woman. But then the Irish Rebellion did chew up lots o’ men. Is that where you lost yourn?”

I try not to think about my husband Aaron, dead only five years. It seems like he just stepped out for a pint yet five long years separated us. “Yes. He died at Termonbarry.”

“Lots of good men went to St. Peter at that place. Did they ever find out who summoned that demon? Survivors tell stories that don’t match. English, Irish, American. Me, I think us Americans and the Irish gave them bloody Brits just a bit too much steel to—”

“Will you please be quiet?” I say giving just a little too much snap to my voice.

“Sorry, Mum.”

Aaron, my massive Moor. Had I loved him for even a hundred years it wouldn’t have been enough. My husband’s loss in that cauldron of death, Ireland, left a charred spot in my soul bigger than their entire accursed country.

Oddly, as a girl growing up, I’d never held any fascination for boys or men. Girls around me, especially Karie, giggled and wondered what matching their parents might make for them. With one exception, I found the male sex beastly at best and demonic at worst. I would go a long way around the carriage house to avoid talking to one. My mother, the reigning goddess of all knowledge about the stronger sex, despairs at my lack of interest. While not part of royalty, my mother always adopts an air eight stages better than her station in life. Back in my youth she insisted I have a coming out party and engage with the Boston socialites. Never had so much money been spent on so little outcome. By the end of my fifteenth year I’d danced with ten young gentlemen, received one young man (who got his instep spiked by my heel when he attempted to put his arm around me in the buggy) and shockingly no proposals.

I see the red of fires glowing to the northwest but still no definitive location as the tram rolls up the empty street of Tremont past Dartmouth.

A green delivery trailer with gold stencil proclaiming “Dunne’s Butchers” flies across the street. I mean flies, not just moving swiftly. It smashes against a brownstone like a china cup dropped on the floor. Splinters and gobs of meat rain down. This is the sign I’ve been waiting for. I pull the trolley exit cord. The tram rattles to a stop.

“Youse sure you be wantin’ to get out here, widow woman?” the bookkeeper says from his hunched over place beneath the edge of the tram’s window.

“Yes. Thank you for your concern. This is definitely my stop,” I say as a horse, minus its head, follows the delivery trailer against the wall with a gory sound of a wet slip slammed against a washboard.

“Go with God then, Miss Widow.”

Ignoring the simpering fool, I manage to exit the tram without further damage to my skirts. A steam-wheezing, brass-and-steel, self-propelled monstrosity misses running me over by a whisker. Its huge broom sweeps up the snow and horse apples in front of it. The simpleminded machine puffs and scrubs down the lane toward the source of the chaos and likely its own demise.

Over the top of the machine I see the flaming visage of a demon’s face, twisted and contorted in rage. With skin the texture and color of a pig roasted overlong on a spit and beady crimson eyes set deep in its skull, it masses the same as thirty stout men. Its great ram-like horns reach the middle of the nearby building’s second floor. I can feel the waves of anger and fury boiling off the hell spawn as bursts of heat.

At least it is a large beast. That means a short night. The larger the demon the weaker and stupider that it is. Those brutes have to put a show on about how impressive they are in size rather than what they can do. The ones you fear are those the size of a child – tricky and powerful enough to melt your flesh from your bones.

The horned beast holds a pram like a child might hold a marble. I whisper a prayer to Saint Nicholas that no babe is inside as the evil creature crushes the stroller between its forefinger and thumb. As all demons, it rejoices in the death and destruction torn from our world. It laughs in a deep, tone that sends shivers down the spine.

But I am its antithesis.

I bend over and pick up a small bit of cobblestone that has withstood the street sweeper. Popping it into my mouth I march toward the maelstrom. The earth witch in me feels the orderly structure of the stonework. I taste gritty, acrid clay interspersed with the minute flavors of pig offal, spilled flour, slivers of rust, fragments of store candy, and remnants of manure.

Every time I attempt to describe the symbiosis of witchcraft I fail. I don’t steal another’s power. I don’t get filled with its essence. Instead I feel the living entity of the street below me. Its energy and mine merge together in a swirl like that of a baker creating a cinnamon roll. It doesn’t fill me, but we share a portion of our spirit. And like that sweet treat, we become more than our components. No longer am I just sugar, cinnamon, or dough. I am more.

A whistle of agony broke my communion. Two great fists crush down the top of the mindless cleaning machine. Its tarnished pressure vessel spews its power into sound and a jet of steam. The evil beast throws his head back from the superheated water with a bellow even though it can’t possibly hurt him.  After the flinch it tears the street sweeper into two uneven pieces, stopping the device’s death throws. It picks up the smaller piece, only the size of an oxen team, and looks around for a target. Its fiery eyes lock onto mine.

 June 18, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 102019
 

Well, we here at TANSTAAFL Press endeavor to be transparent. When we mess up, we say so up front, like the travelling error in Toy Wars, or for using REND instead of RENDER in the same book.

Well, we’ve done it again. As usual, the Ooopsie Award goes to author Thomas Gondolfi. He also gets the No-Prize for finding it. As he is preparing the next book in the CorpGov Chronicles, and anthology with the working title “Window of Opportunity” he needed to have a physical description of Grandma Ice. He dug down into all of the previous books.  In doing so he found that in Thinking Outside the Box he said that GMa Ice was 74 years old. Color him surprised when his character notes said she was 94.  When he went looking he found the ninety referent in The Bleeding Edge.

“Good grief! I can’t believe I pulled such a bonehead maneuver,” Tom said when he discovered it. “So if any of you nit-pickers find this, her real age is 94 at the time of the base trilogy. I humbly apologize for not having done the research on that point.”

 

 March 10, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Jan 172019
 
IMG_20150912_173835_399

by Thomas Gondolfi

Many of you have heard me said that I’m retiring from my “day job” and thus would be able to devote more time to writing and marketing my WONDERFUL books. Many of you have also heard that the date for my retirement is/was 5/15/18 or about 9 months ago. If you haven’t been paying attention, that didn’t happen. I wanted to retire but my financial advisor gave me bad info… so I fired him and started over. If I’m allowed a minor whine, I wanted to retire probably more than you wanted me to make new stuff for you :)

Last year was a very, very slow year for me. I attended only 7 conventions (less than half my norm) and while I managed to put 3 new products on the shelves for you voracious readers they were almost done already so I didn’t even write much.

So that is the past and now to talk about the future. With a new financial adviser (and my own evaluation) my new retirement date is set for 5/15/2019… May of this year. While I’ll be continuing my low convention attendance and writing until that date, after that I have a flurry of activity planned (just look at my scheduled releases!) I plan on hitting many more shows, many of those outside of my normal range, ramping up our marketing (don’t be surprised if you see our name in many different places), and creating many, many more works of fiction for y’all.

Fasten your seat belts, folks.  2019 is going to be wild!

And for those who remember the T-Shirt I often wear:

I was an
Engeneer
Enginere
Engenere
I’m still good with math

 

 January 17, 2019  Uncategorized No Responses »
Oct 102018
 
Cow

“Well… It’s Your Cow” anthology isn’t published by TANSTAAFL Press but rather Impulsive Walrus Books. However our premier author, Thomas Gondolfi, had a piece accepted and published within it.

When Thomas Gondolfi heard about the anthology concept (all stories have to start with the line “Well… It’s your cow”) by Impulsive Walrus Press, his quirky sense of humor forced him to write a story for it. His cyberpunk story of a coup against the crown prince was accepted along with great work of other authors!

The “Well… It’s Your Cow” anthology by Impulsive Walrus Books is now available for preorders on amazon.com (click on the title for direct link).

Go and get your copy today… again you can find it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J4S3VTV.

 

 

 October 10, 2018  Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 302017
 

My name is Thomas Gondolfi, author of many novels and owner of TANSTAAFL Press. I am the primary judge of the contest held at Nanocon in March 2017. The NanoCon convention chairman, Togusa, looked over the top three and gave his inputs.

All contestants should be proud. On a scale of 0-20, the scores ranged from 11-15½. This to me means that everyone wrote and provided something valuable. All writers should be commended.

Below, in no specific order, you will find the inputs from each of the contestants, winners and participants both. I do have to caution you that this is flash fiction. The participants were provided with a pen, a writing booklet, and a prompt. They were given one hour to complete their short story.

This means these are far from polished stories. This means there are typos, spelling errors, sentence fragments, logic errors, transcription errors (by me), and more. There was no rewriting. There was no outlining. You write what is in your head and hope that it makes a good story.  I hope you enjoy the works that our authors provided.

Writing Prompt: What if electricity was found to be too
dangerous to use BUT we were able to harness gravity.

 

2nd Place

Lelia Rose Foreman

Tuvuu spit over the side of the bridge and watched his spittle until the thick hydrogen/methane clouds obscured his view. Would his spit evaporate or crystalize as it dove to the pure diamond they said made the core of Jovann? They said all mining equipment would smash to a few atoms thick if the machine even made it as far as the core. Still, Tuvuu would have liked to try. Maybe mother would stop looking so sad if he gave her a necklace with diamonds as big as his fist. As if he could afford any kind of necklace.

Tuvuu sprinted across the bridge that led from the school to the commons and the next bridge from the commons to the tunnel bristling with home pods.

His front door dilated. He grabbed the upper lintel and swung himself in “Mom, I’m home.”

It turned out he was home, but she wasn’t. He strode across the cavorite floor that kept all the buildings of Verne Colony in the upper atmosphere of Jovann.

His home lurched. Sirens wailed. He rolled to the nearest scream to check the outside cameras.

A wale scraped its back along the tunnel. Couplings crunched together. The wail nose-bumped his home.

With a crack! His home pod separated from the tunnel. The cavorite shot his pod higher and higher into the astmospher. No!

Before the pod burst, Tuvuu saw the stars for the first time with his own eyes. The stars shone like diamonds.

 

Participant

RG

I remember those words. I remember those days where being told our world nearly perished as we attempted to harness something and being told one thing. The element we were harnessing kills. Destroys.

It destroys so many innocent lives. Tear buildings apart and corrupt minds. That the day I was born, every figure being powerful nor weak, spoke of electricity and the dangers that came with it.

But of course the dangers and hindrances in life can all be solved. Solutions are always things that help attempt to balance out the hardships of life.

And what may you ask is said solution?

Gravity. Something people in our world have blessed and thanked for.

Gravity of course helped with many things. Only if harnessed correctly, it could power way more than expected. But, some however don’t care to explain how or what makes it work.

Just to my luck those people who honestly I find lazy are my peers and family – teachers preachers. A lot of the time of the time I figured they were coving, of course soon realized that in fact I was half right.

Half right. A deep root in my mind tells me this and a blooming curiosity persuades me to figure out why I feel this way. Why some people cover up? Why do they coverup?

Is it dangerous? Is it safe? It is evil? Good? All those questions boggle my head and some days I know I have to ask or say something?  But what do I say? Who do I tell it to?

Logging and jotting down my ideas of course is a dangerous work itself. I live in constant fear of the people finding my entries. The work I’m doing is illegal. It’s not that I’m completely swearing against those of a higher power. We all are allowing our own will as long as it lies within believing in gravity. Of course the irony behind it is that the one thing we all rely on or “gravitate” to can actually tear us all apart in aways. Well, belief-wise.

Yet relying on gravity in my mind is a preposterous idea.

Yet… it could be plausible?

Now I’m just contradicting myself.

Either way I know our world “uses” gravity as a better replacement for electricity.

 

 

Participant

Ashlyn Jones

Lance felt the pressure of darkness as he blew out the candles. His mouth pouted to the side, his eyes searching aimlessly for a flicker or a glimpse of a reflection.

He heard the cars rush by, eager to get home before the moon broke out. Sitting in his small and quaint bed, he felt queasy, like nothing would get better. Papers to write, things to do, life seemed empty .

His eyes closed, tensely relaxing in. Lance had found himself in the end of days, and, to be quite honest, hit his limitations in every subject there ever was.

No inventions were coming out. No goods shipping out at a faster rate than back in the 1700s. Human kind hasn’t progressed.

Dreaming, Lance murmured to himself, fighting off the dark evil men who insisted on killing anyone who found a solace in light. Cliché, he knows that.

Then he couldn’t breathe. His choker rang out in his cold and dark apartment. The blankets hugged tightly against him, his hands turning read and purple underneath the dim moonlight that flooded through the open windows.

Lance’s eyes peeled open slowly, or he came to the realization of his desperation. He croaked, unable to move his body under the enormous weight? Wait a minute. He just… air…

In the dialated blink of an eye, the blankets, pillows, his clothes, candles, and so much more slowly, ever so slowly, began to rise. The various items floated about effortlessly, and his breath was taken away in a lighter, shock-and-awe sense.

Looking around him, Lances mouth dropped open, his hear-rate speeding up. One would think they were dreaming, but not Lance. He knew he was awake. Whe4ther it was the brisk air cooling his hot, tan face, the hairs on his arms that began to rise, or the sensation of feeling that warm welling up inside expressing itself in one, single moment- he didn’t know. All he could recognize was the reality in front of him and trust when he says that he experienced too much reality in his seemingly long twenty-eight years of boring existence.

However, when he reached for a candle and matches, not even register the small sizzle as the match lit ablaze, everything fell.

The blanket snuffed out the match, the drawer splintering as it slammed onto the ground. Everything went quiet, and the golden knob on the black splintered dresser had the audacity to break and roll around on the wooden floor.

Lance waited a few minutes in shock, then relit the candle and eagerly got dressed. He grabbed his signature jacket, a black hooy with red stripes and set out with a lamp in hand. He even forgot to lock the door.

He sprinted down the block, the bronze lamp knocking against his knuckles, swinging back and forth. The thud of his loud and quick steps seemed to follow him and every

Lance waited a few minutes in shock, then relit the candle and eagerly got dressed. He grabbed his signature jacket, a black hooy with red stripes and set out with a lamp in hand. He even forgot to lock the door.

He sprinted down the block, the bronze lamp knocking against his knuckles, swinging back and forth. The thud of his loud and quick steps seemed to follow him and every once in a while he wouldn’t hear the loud trudge of his steps. Until he looked down and noticed he was running on nothing but still making forward progress.

Lance’s eyes widened in shock and he immediately lurched forward to get some sort of bearings. This, in turn, causes his cheek to slam down into the pavement, his body rolling over itself.

He heard the steps of someone else; Erons. His best friend. A night owl, lance wasn’t surprised Eron rushed out without skipping a beat. “Salut..” Lance murmured.

“Ca va?” Eron asked mildly worried about Lance’s fall.

“Ca va. Ca va.” Lance finally got a good look of Paris at night. Truthfully, he hated the dark and could not see why anyone would go out at night.

The conversation ceased when Eron saw Lance float off the ground, legs dangling with no inherent reson. He looked anyway, finding his own reflection in a puddle, but not Lances.

“D’accord.”

 

Participant

Teresa Bailey

We watched our sister planet destroy itself as her inhabitants harnessed the most dangerous of materials. We wept as their world began to lose vibrancy and life; our wails might have been heard light years away as the beautiful Uneth became a hallow shell.

From a young age, Enatheans are taught that electricity is dangerous, and destructive. We learn that the great powers of our storms were once harnessed on Uneth, thus causing the end of her life-time. The beings did not seem to realize their wrongdoings until it was too late. Sometimes, though, I wonder what electricity was.

“Lanee!” My name is barked harshly as my teacher finds me daydreaming. The students around me tittered with laughter. “No that you‘ve felt inclined to join use, tell me, why do we not harvest electricity?”

This was easy. We all knew why. “Electricity is dangerous – our sister planet Uneth used electricity  and destroyed the planet.” I felt proud of my answer, as plain as it was.

“Yes, but why don’t we harness it in small doses? Could we not also use electricity for things like heating bath water? Or powering the trains?” Our teacher was calculated and needling with ther questions.

“I-I’m not sure, ma’am. I guess I do not understand.” I could feel my cheeks warming up in embarrassment.

“We do not want to see our planet destroyed, so, we…” the teacher began another boring lecture, one I prompltly tuned out.

It seemed the same day in, day out. “Why do we not use electricity?” “Why is electricity dangerous?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” Each pestered me in my dreams, where I dreamed of a place of electricity.

Everything was so brightly lit, and fires in the home were mostly unheard of for cooking. Hot water came at the turn of a colored knob, not at the pull of a rope, and always the perfect temperature – because of electricity. They were truly beautiful dreams, ones I wanted to linger in for ages. That world I made up in my dreams was never dull, and so much unlike the one I lived in day by day.

Gravity, while beautiful in its displays, was just not the proper way to power things. We used gravity to remove things from machines, where electricity would have worked so much better. Trains were not mean to be powered by g-force, they were meant to run electrically.

If only… If only… Yes, I would be like an inventor, like the one on Earth, that Thomas Edison, and harness my own electricity. It is forbidden, but the laziness of not trying would far out-weigh the disappointment of failure of trying.

I would not sit idly.

 

3rd Place Winner

Kayla Shiloh

He walks down my street every day but Sunday, it late mornings and early nights. Every day but Sunday I watch from my second story window. I assume he is around my age, bronze skin, straight back, a brisk walk colored with purpose; a young man on the dawn of adulthood. Everything about him speaks of a future of potential and success. Less might be said for me, the boy who would rather talk to himself than with strangers, the boy who spends most of his time invested in creating trinkets for convenient use. Every morning I activate the apparatus that boils and eventually serves my morning tea with the pull of a lever. Without going into boring specifics, the contraption mainly uses dense lead balls, pressure plates and a small hot air balloon. Ah, if only I had the time to describe it in detail.

After my tea brews, I sit by my shaded window and wait for the young gentleman to pass.

He is of course one of the many who walk that path but what makes him interesting is that leg of his. It’s beautiful, more beautiful than his human leg, and makes a gentle hiss with each step. My obsession started with this peculiar prosethetic, then expanded to his daily life; where he went, what he sees, how different is his own would from mine? My interest grew beyond the tool of his disability and into the nature of his person.

This last Tuesday, I decided to take action without actively engaging myself. Using a similar apparatus as my tea maker, I arrainged a machine that simply drops a lead ball directly at his feet on the way home. Inside a note of my intrigue can be accessded with a push of the side panel. The first time I dropped a ball, he stared, and moved on. The next day, he picked it up, then gingerly placed it in a waste bin. (Good to know he disliked littering as much as I did). By the fifth or sixth attempt, he picked up the ball and waited outside my doorstep, tentatively looking up at my window every minute of so.

I quickly made another note and placed it in a sphere and set it down the chute, allowing a bit of the paper to stick outside the panel. My heart nearly stopped when he pulled the note to read it. A simple introduction lay inside. I sat by the window and waited.

He waved to me up at my room, and simply asked “Would you join me for tea?”

In my excitement I grabbed my coat off its hook and met him outside.

 

 

Participant

Shelby Brown

Light was a danger.

Perran knew this as well as anyone. That was the reason he was considered old. The young man lived alone in a canyon where a river once flowed.

Storms would roll through and he would xxxx. The dancing clouds and flashes of sun amazed him while others hid away.

Only a select few knew of his fascination with it. And every time he brought it up they would always remind him.

“The light burns,” the would say. “One day it will kill you,”
they say. Perran would listen but would reply. How could he? What could he possibly say when all he really wanted to do was draw closer and feel the light and energy on his body.

But xxx that wasn’t the case. The night was the ruler here and the moon the only source of light.

Perran worked through said nights in the open air, slaving away over his tools, carving and painting, shaping and sanding.

The tools and weapons he made were marvelous and when he had started it had almost been love.

The energy needed he created by turning a wheel providing things like heat for the small fire he and the others kept.

Perran worked with two older men at his side one by the name of Nuebay and the other Vesrad. Vesrad and Nuebay both wanted to move on to other thingsThe work simply didn’t appeal to them as it did Perran, at least not anymore.

Vesrad often held his tongue but Perran knew he wanted something to change and not just his job.

There were times when the man with teal eyes would offhandedly mention something about a rebellion and how these considered lower should be given better treatment.

Nuebay and the other hand didn’t quite seem so clear.

He was more quiet and secretive and judging by the way he acted when his partner came around his ideas were not necessarily the most mad.

They were both interesting and Perran did live to watch them but he had other things casually on his mind.

Especially this day.

A young man Perran had never seen before was walking among the buildings with a girl.

The man had bright green eyes and held himself nearly as a prince would. Though Perran had never seen a prince, he expected that that would be how they walked.

The girl that walked with him seemed to rely heavily on the hand she had clamped in her own. The reason was unclear until she turned and for a moment Perran thought their eyes had met. Until he realized that was impossible. The girl was blind and the prince was her guide.

Without a word Perran stands and edges his way towards the pair and the closer he drew the more he noticed. The girl had scars around her eyes that almost look as if they’d been burned.

Perran winces anywy, unable to image how that may have felt. He was hesitant to speak at first. “Excuse me?” His voice was soft, trying not to sound loud or intimidating.

The prince immediately turns, blinking and then offering a smile. “Hello. How can I help you?”

Perran bit his lip, “I am Perran and I just wanted to ask yuou something?” His voice raised into a question.

“Well what is it? Are you asking me or her?” He tilted his head to the girl.

“I’m asking her,” he trailed off, unsure whether or not he should actually pose the question. “You are blind, correct?  What happened?”

They all fell silent before she finally answered in a sweet voice that almost seemed too pure.

“I was pushed,” She said simply.

“And burned?” Perran blinks at her questioningly.

“She means into the light.” The prince runs a hand through her hair, seemingly not wanting to talk about it.

“The light?”

“During a storm. I was pushed against a metal object and the light struck it, burnt away my sight.”

“Who pushed you?”

“A man no one is allowed to talk about.”

 

 

1st Place

Scott McCully

They told me the electricity wars were an old nightmare. Four hundred years they still don’t feel that old; when those maniacs first turned on the juice no one would have guessed mankind would turn that power on one another.  Makes sense we would though, there isn’t an invention out there that hasn’t been used at one point or another, to butcher other people.

New York was the first to go, the papers now call the city the baked apple; millions dead and then a war; never learn do we. After the war a special commission was created, hunt down the remnants of electricity and those that use it.

The hover car bounces up and down as I pull near the destination, these crazies always live in the atmosphere, anti-grav apartments were all the rage a few years ago. Now there just floating hunks of garbage; amp heads think they’re safe this high up. Guess they’ll learn how wrong they are. I dock the car in the courtyard. I see lights flickering in the windows, electric lights worked better, I’m told, but grav lights don’t flicker. The building where the lights shine, stands out against the dark gray skies. I can hear music coming from the apartment. Must be one of those old record players. My gravity gun hums as I power up. Saps don’t stand a chance. The gravity field will keep ‘em isolated till I bring them in. The smell that emanates from the room as I kick in the door is rancid, rot, death, and decay. The grav gun does the job. Suspended in mid-air an old woman and two children.

The young girl cries out “Leave grandma alone!”

“By order of the Trans Gravity Initiative, you are under arrest for the use of electric technology.”

“Sir, please; our grandmother is sick,” the girl started. “The ventilator is all that is keeping her alive.”

“This tech is illegal and too dangerous to use,” I replied.

“People are dangerous!” the girl called back. “Any tech in the wrong hands can be deadly.” As the girl shrieked at me I felt a shudder. The anti-gravity thrusters had just gone out. Years of abuse and rust had finally caught up with the building. I disengaged the anti-grav field.

“Come on,” I yelled. “This place is coming down.”

I carried the old woman with the two kids in tow. My car was the only chance we had. The altimeter on my wrist was spinning fast. We don’t have long now. I set the grandmother down and jump into my cruiser. I turn to see that the little girl has already released the docking clamps.

“What are you doing?” I ask. “Get in.”

“No,” said the girl. “People are dangerous; no matter what tech is used.” With her final words she pushed the car away from the falling island. The last thing I saw was the small family as they plunged down to the city below. Point taken kid. Point taken.

 March 30, 2017  Uncategorized No Responses »