Author Archives: dkelley44

An Oligarch’s Safari (1,000 words)

This is a work of fiction and should not be taken seriously by anyone. Also, it’s a pretty massive departure from my usual subject matter. It’s for a flash fiction challenge at Chuck Wendig’s blog, TerribleMinds.

 

Sitting in front of the fire, feeling content as I sip from a glass of scotch, my butler enters and informs me that a new shipment has just arrived.

“Thank you,” I say. “Please prepare my things. I believe I’ll head out for a short while before bed.”

He’s referring to the supply for my expensive little hobby. The annual cost is in the millions, but there’s no comparable thrill. Fortunately, there has never been a better time to be a business man here in the good old U.S. of A. The news may warn of dangerous Socialist plots every night but I know better. My company owns the station– the last news station still allowed to broadcast anywhere—because in my grandfather’s day, the news was always a great concern. Bad publicity was bad for the bottom line. But those were the old days.

I down the remainder of my drink and walk down the hallway to my bedroom. In the corner is a chrome pole that runs from the ceiling and down through the floor. I had it installed a year ago to speed up trips to the ground level– to the armory. I climb on, gripping it loosely and slide down, enjoying the feel of the air whipping up my robe.

The room was designed with the Batcave in mind, from the movies I loved as a child. I’ve grown up considerable since then, but I still like to imagine myself as a real-life Bruce Wayne. Fighting criminal and low-lifes with the power of the almighty dollar!

My gear is camouflaged, except for the Kevlar vest and padding that I’ll wear beneath everything else. I shed my robe, pause to admire my toned, naked body in the mirror for a moment, then put everything on.

The helmet is my favorite piece. For my day-to-day purposes, it’s probably overkill, but it looks great and it came with night-vision built in. The belt has a holster for a pistol and a large hunting knife, which I equip myself with, along with a high-powered rifle.

The back door opens to the outside, in the rear half of my estate. Parked by the door is a golf cart. I climb in and drive towards a large expanse of dense forest, which stands out sharply when you fly overhead, because it’s a perfect circle in the middle of acres of neatly trimmed grass. It’s also surrounded by a 15-foot high electrified fence, which is topped with strings of barbed wire.

Once there, I flip a switch on my helmet to turn on the night vision, verifying that there’s nothing hiding near the gate. Satisfied, I use a specially designed program on my phone to open the gate. Inside, I use it again to lock it and turn the current back on.

With the new shipment in, I have to tread carefully because there are at least eight targets in the vicinity. Typically they’ll cluster together until disturbed, not straying far from where they were dropped.

It would be easy to just sidle up nearby and fire from point-blank range, but the cunning warrior attacks in stealth. I have a series of forts built into the trees and I climb one to better survey the area. My gear makes the climb moderately strenuous, but years of practice have toned my body perfectly for this. Even the bitter cold air can’t slow me down.

With the aid of the night-vision, I spot my targets quickly, exactly as I had suspected—huddled together near the gate. Other times I’ve snuck up close to them, so I could listen. It’s always the same dull conversation though.

“Where are we?”

“Why did they bring us here?”

“Think the fence is really electric?”

Sitting and talking. It’s all they’ll ever do unless you put a gun to their head. That’s why these bums, these layabouts, are in this predicament. It’s what allows us to have them swept off the streets and brought to the various hunting grounds of the new aristocracy. In a way, this is probably good for them.

I take aim with the rifle, lying on my belly to get a better angle. I settle on a target with long hair—probably a woman—who’s facing away from me. She’s sitting, curled up with her arms wrapped around her chest. It never ceases to amaze me how clear this scope’s view is. I can even tell that she’s shivering.

I notice a pleasant tingling in my groin and then take a second to readjust myself before training the site back on the woman’s head. I lick my lips and gradually press down on the trigger. Finally, I pull down hard and watch as she lurches forward, with blood spraying in every direction. I grin.

A few of the other targets dash off instantly, like the shot marked the start of a race. Two of them just stand there, scanning futilely in the dark for their assailant. I pop one of them square in the chest and the other finally goes loping through the trees, off to my right.

I sling the rifle over my shoulder, its strap holding it up like a backpack, and leap down to follow my prey. He’s slowed by his inability to see the trees and I catch up with him quickly. I draw my knife and lunge forward into his back and plunge the blade into his neck. He tries to cry out, but the only sound is a loud gurgling. I then stab him repeatedly in his back, until he stops making noise, and wipe the blade off on his clothes before returning it to its holster.

I start to look around for the others when the clock’s alarm in my helmet goes off. It’s midnight and it’s going to be a busy day at the office. I resolve to finish after work, if I still have the energy, and make my way back home for a satisfying night’s rest.


The Pot-Leaf Lighter (Flash Fiction)

This is a work of fiction and should not be taken seriously by anyone.

 

My parents coerced me into going to the flea market on a boiling afternoon in the middle of May, still dressed up after going to church that morning. It was the first time I’d gone since leaving for my freshman year of college back in September and although sleeping until noon was my only real interest for the morning, my parents woke me up.

This little bazaar was an annual event that our church hosted, but it had a carnival-like feel and it attracted people from all over the state. There were vendors sprinkled in among the crowd, who sold food and drink to the consumers and those who had come to market their wares. The smell of fried dough hung thick in the air, as if it was the reason for the uncomfortably hot and sticky atmosphere.

My mother had already collected an enormous pink-leather bag and announced excitedly that she’d be able to bring her Bible with her wherever she went. My silence, aside from occasional complaints about the heat, did nothing to affect her good mood.

“Well, if you’d just cut your hair and shave for once, maybe you wouldn’t feel so hot?” she said.

She continued to drag my father around, examining dresses in one of the displays and I took the opportunity to get away for a moment. After some aimless wandering, a cart showcasing various metallic items under a glass barrier caught my attention. There were knives, pocket-watches, silver and gold little knick-knacks and numerous other items that all glittered brilliantly in the sunlight.

The item that drew my gaze was a silver Zippo lighter with a dark green pot leaf emblazoned on it. It seemed so out of place. There was no reason for me to buy it, since there was no secret stash waiting for me at home. My life of occasionally getting high, of discussing literature and politics and art late into the night with my small circle of bohemian friends and sleeping in on Sundays, that was all on hiatus until the Fall. And there was a good chance that the lighter would never even make it there, thanks to the semi-regular bedroom intrusions by mom and dad and their certain disapproval at a lighter’s presence. Even so, I felt an unexplainable longing to possess it.

A bead of sweat ran down from beneath my bangs and suddenly the tie around my neck felt extremely tight. Loosening it and unbuttoning my collar, my eyes darted back to last known direction of my parents. They were nowhere to be seen. The vendor strode towards me and said, “See something you’d like?” He was a big guy that looked like a biker, wearing a black leather vest over a light-gray T-shirt that matched his goatee. I pointed at the lighter and the vendor said simply, “Thirty bucks.”

Hurriedly I pulled out my wallet, retrieved two twenty dollar bills and took another fruitless glance behind me. The vendor handed me the lighter, took my money and turned to his cash machine to make change. The lighter went into my pocket quickly. My heart pounded against the interior of my chest as I looked around in other directions, half-expecting to be ambushed from behind some other vendor’s cart.

The man handed me a ten back. I thanked him and walked off quickly, then meandered off in search of my parents.

They turned up a moment later, carrying plastic cups with lemonade. My father was sporting a mustard-yellow T-shirt over his church attire with the words, “Jesus is my Homeboy” on the front in big brown letters.

“You like?” he said with a grin. “I got you one too!”

My mother reached her whole arm into her new bag and retrieved a shirt that exactly matched the one my father was wearing and tossed it to me.

“Thanks,” I said, trying hard to suppress the urge to roll my eyes. “It’s too hot to throw on over my church clothes though. I’ll wear it later.”

Already plotting the shirt’s demise, I threw it over my shoulder and followed my family towards our car, my right hand in my pocket, opening and closing the pot-leaf marked lighter with a series of tiny clicks that no one else could hear.

(713 words)


An Introduction

One of the very few positives about being unemployed is the tremendous amount of free time you have.

It’s an advantageous position to be in, as a writer, because you can fill all of that free time with the activities that you need to do in order to improve– reading, writing and a whole lot of thinking. Since SUNY Oswego gave me a harsh shove towards the working world this past May, armed with nothing but a piece of paper that says “Bachelor’s of Arts” and a green and yellow tassel, it’s felt like those writerly duties are all I’ve been doing. I’m a few chapters into my first novel right now and, after weeks of slowly torturing words out onto a Word document, I feel like I finally have a grasp on where the story is heading. So technically, since I am trying to turn this writing shtick into a career, I’ve been hard at work. But, of course, none of this is paying the bills yet.

One of the many negatives about being unemployed is the tremendous amount of free time you have.

I have a set schedule. Sort of. My sleep cycle is constantly out of whack because there’s no need to set an alarm for anything, so I just go to bed when I’m tired and I wake up whenever my body feels like it. One week I’m nocturnal, the next I’m closer to a normal, human, pattern.

So the hours of the day don’t factor into my schedule much, but I have fallen into a pattern. Whenever I happen to wake up, I mosey down the stairs, laptop in hand, and put on a pot of coffee. While it brews I fire up the computer to check my e-mail and twitter account and anything else that I can occupy myself that requires little-to-no focus.

When the coffee is finished brewing I down a few servings and, perhaps, read a few news stories while my brain gradually begins to warm up. Once my eyelids give up resisting consciousness and I get focused, it’s time to write.

And that’s what I do for awhile. Sometimes I write for an hour, sometimes much longer. I go until I feel myself starting to burn out and then I call it quits. Usually this process only produces around 500 words a sitting. Anything more than that and I’m thrilled. If I happen to lose track of my word count until I’ve managed around 1,000 then it will almost certainly be the high point of my day.

I hope you’re beginning to see why I went with “Adventures of an Unemployed Author” as a title. It’s sarcasm– a language I consider myself fluent in.

Although it feels like I’m on the cusp of breaking into a strange new world, the journey is a personal one and my chronicling of it probably won’t be of much interest to outsiders. Or maybe it will, I don’t know. The point is, I’m not writing this for any audience. This blog is purely for my own edification. It’s a place to vent, to spout off, to ejaculate my intellectual concerns into the universe in the hope that simply putting the words out there will help to assuage them.

So, on the off chance that people stumble onto this, I make no promises to interesting, or even coherent content. I can’t say for sure what my ramblings will cover from day to day but I can make a few guesses.

Things likely to be covered are:

Writing– I will discuss how my novel is coming along. I will discuss any concerns I have about it. I will not post any excerpts from it. I have no idea whether my book will be a good one at this point but I’m not about to risk putting my work out there for anyone to read until I find someone who wants to publish it and maybe (just maybe) pay me for the right to do so.

Books– I will discuss books written by other people. Usually people much better at writing than I am.

Politics– Although I’ll attempt to resist as much as I can, if this is going to be a venting space, then politics will surely come up. Taking an interest in how our government functions is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me and I find myself more disgusted with it every day. I tend to lean left-wing but I strive to be pragmatic when judging issues and I avoid ideology like the plague.

Religion– I’m an atheist. And now it’s likely that some people will see that and think, “Hey, didn’t he just say he wants to avoid ideology? What a tool!” But of course, while the word does end in -ism, atheism does not imply any sort of belief system. Atheism is, simply, the lack of belief in any gods. Someone makes a positive claim that god exists and an atheist just doesn’t believe him. It’s about as ideological as not believing in Santa Claus.

I’m sure there will be other things I haven’t listed as well but I’m beginning to burn out. Until next time.