Weekday Word Count

Happy New Year! :O) This year, I’m writing fiction. I’m letting my greatest motivator, shame, keep me on schedule. Every weekday, I’ll post a hopefully-not-shameful word count accompanied by a few turns of Yahtzee and a song. Please feel free to follow along on Twitter or Instagram!

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The Elevator

Gary had been an elevator repairman for thirty years. He was loyal to the work, though it proved to be indifferent to him. He worked for hundreds of different companies on contract with little to no benefits. At this point in his life, it didn’t bother him. He had plenty of projects with overtime pay that he was just squirreling away. It was just him now. He lost Flo six years prior and there wasn’t anybody else’s wellbeing he worried about.

Other than losing Flo, Gary was a man with few complaints about life. He had mild ailments that were creeping up on him with more fervor each year, but he just considered it all “the regular bells and whistles”. The arthritis in his hands gave him less grief than his damn fingernails. He only had a handful of bad habits; biting his nails was one of them. He chewed them to the nubs. He winced when he saw the black dust from old hydraulic lubricant outline his tiny fingernails. It was when he had to grip down hard on tools or pinch end caps closed at the end of wires when he most regretted indulging in his bad habit the previous evening.

Most evenings were more or less uneventful. A typical evening would include a plentiful dinner from one of the better quality fast food joints and a willful television binge. Gary felt the most relaxed when he was in the sitting position in a chair. That is how he was relaxing the previous evening when he watched five episodes of The Twilight Zone while biting his nails the whole time.

He laughed to himself wistfully as a memory of Flo graced his mind. Contrary to Gary’s way of relaxing, Flo’s preferred relaxed position was lying down on the couch or the bed. She would withhold lying down from herself until she was in her pajamas and fully ready to appreciate the first stretch while all laid out. It was one of the biggest treats of her day. “Nothing’s better than that first stretch after a long day. You only get one, gotta do it right.”

Gary tried to mimic her stretches for a week or so after she died, but realized what made him comfortable was different from what made Flo comfortable. To each his own, nothing wrong with that.

“Hey, Gary! We’re gonna test the doors!” Leroy, a friend and frequent coworker, yelled from above.

He capped off the wires he was working on before they turned on the electricity. “Okay!”

They all heard the elevator ding and the doors subsequently closed. Gary always thought of this as his private time, even if it was just for a few seconds. It was like his very own world; probably how a kid feels in their fort when they snap the sheet closed.

The doors dinged and opened. Gary heard Leroy and the other repairman, Slim, chat about something that sounded like lunch. The elevator car was stopped halfway between floors so Slim crouched down to include Gary in the conversation. His face looked labored as the blood rushed to his head. “We’re going to bring the car back up to level and get some chow. You interested?”

Gary shook his head and patted a metal lunchbox. “Got my lunch right here.”

Leroy and Slim razzed Gary about being boring as they got the car level. They made sure all the electricity was shut off for the one elevator and left the doors open. They put up a CAUTION sign in front of the car Gary was in and went down the adjacent elevator.

An elevator car is as good of a place as any to have lunch. Gary sat down with his back against the wall, the handrail just clearing the top of his head. He stretched out his legs and crossed his ankles. Two office employees opened the hallway door leading to the elevators. They were startled to see Gary sitting there in the dark and everybody had an uncomfortable laugh. With his mouth full, Gary pushed the bite he just took of his sandwich to the side of his mouth and pointed, “Other two are operational!”

The office employees stood quietly as they waited for either of the other elevators and Gary felt like his presence interrupted a conversation. He shuffled around in his lunchbox to break the silence and eventually decided to turn on a small portable radio. He kept it at the lowest volume and preceded to eat his sandwich.

He chewed slowly as he looked up towards the ceiling. He exhaled through his nose with the crown of his head resting on the wall. The recessed lighting was nice. This seemed to be an upscale office complex, so it made sense. The light cans were nicer than the ones he had in his house.

He heard a ding from the elevator and assumed it was from the adjacent car, but the doors of the car he was sitting in closed. He waited for a moment in darkness, maybe Slim and Leroy were back and turned the electricity for the door controls back on. “Guys, are you out there?”

No response. Gary carefully laid his sandwich back into where his memory told him his metal lunchbox was and reached back to the handrail while simultaneously tucking his foot under his weight to hoist himself up.

“Guys? Leroy! Slim!”

He turned on his flashlight and pointed it towards the controls. He hurriedly closed the panel he had been working on. Forcing his hand to be calm, he pressed each of the buttons. Nothing.

While reaching in his tool belt, everything simultaneously turned back on and jolted upwards. Still not knowing fully what has happening, he exhaled with relief.

“Slim? Leroy?”

No answer. At least the lights were on. Gary regained his balance and looked up towards the lights. They were shaking despite being recessed into the brackets. He tried to get his eyes to focus but the lights and everything around him were vibrating.

The elevator seemed to have been moving upwards for quite some time. There were only eight floors in the building and he and the guys were working between floors five and six. He should have hit the top by now. The elevator car continued to vibrate and climb up what seemed to be a hundred floors.

Gary was frightened. He figured he must have fallen asleep and was having a dream. He closed his eyes and put his closed fists up to his temples.

“Wake up!”

The elevator stopped. Gary slowly opened his eyes and took his hands away from his face. The shaking ceased and the lights remained on. He felt a moment of calm before hearing a familiar ding from the elevator doors.

The doors opened to an unfamiliar place. It was a vast meadow with pale green blades of grass, speckled with lavender wild flowers.

It took a moment for Gary’s eyes to adjust. He poked his head out of the elevator and looked down. It was the same pale green grass that was spread as far as the eye could see. He stood facing and hugging the side of the elevator and slightly squatted on his left haunch. He extended his right foot and quickly tapped the ground to test its reality.

It was real. He loosened the grip of his bear hug on the elevator and took one step outside. His work boots made a hefty thump. The land was solid and there was a slight breeze. The air was fresh but he found it difficult to breathe.

He took off his cap and bent over slightly to catch his breath. His head bowed down, he took three deep breaths. It felt like he only took one shallow breath. With both his hands resting on either knee, he looked forward into the horizon. The way that the light was illuminating the meadow was piercingly beautiful. The view changed his panic to a temporary calm.

There were trees, but they did not feel familiar. They had wooden trunks with intricate branches, like an oak tree. Instead of oak leaves, they had more of a succulent like leaf filling the branches. Each tree created ample shade as far as they could reach and were sporadically placed throughout the meadow.

He heard a rustle in the grass—more of a rustle than what the breeze had been creating. He whipped around to see what it was only to notice the elevator car was gone.

The panic set back in quickly. He frivolously ran to where he thought he remembered the elevator was and did a full three-sixty.

A dog was staring at him from a distance. From Gary’s point of view, she was backlit and equidistant between two cactus trees. He could not tell if she was a real dog or a statue until her tail made a slow wag from left to right.

His breathing was short and he started to feel faint. Seeping out of the grass was some sort of green ooze that started to create suction around his boots. He ran away from the ooze puddle, but he could not rid it from his shoes. The ooze grew and climbed up his legs. He fell in the tall grass and tried to kick and swat it away to no avail. The swatting helped the ooze travel to his hands. He tried to wipe it off by raking his hands across his chest.

By now, Gary was covered up to his neck in a thin layer of the ooze. It took only moments for it to cover his face and head. He tried to scream but nothing came out. The entirety of his body was now enveloped.

To his surprise, he could breathe more easily than he had for the first time since he landed in this strange meadow. His heart rate was steady and he was lying on his back.

The originally translucent ooze started to turn opaque until the sky and the surrounding meadow disappeared and everything was black.

When his vision snapped back, he was lying on his back in his kitchen at home, looking up at recessed lighting that the elevator’s lights had put to shame.

“What the hell?”

He turned his head and saw a broken glass and realized he was wet from the spilled water. Confused and relieved at the same time, he cleaned up the broken glass and water. He took off his shirt and went to the bedroom to put it in the hamper. Then he beelined it to the bathroom to turn on the shower.

“Why are you taking a shower now, Gary? It’s so late. Just come to bed.”

Gary’s hand froze over the shower knob. He slowly turned his head to look towards the source of the voice. There was Flo. In her pajamas. All stretched out on the bed, looking at him with a smile.

Gary fainted.

***

Leroy and Slim came back from lunch and saw the elevator door was closed. Puzzled, they called out.

“Gary? Gary!”

They had to turn the electricity back on for the door controls. The elevator dinged and the doors opened to an elevator car with its sole contents being a portable radio, a metal lunchbox, and an unfinished sandwich.

No Soliciting

To the tune of a skilled whistle, a man gingerly tromped through the front lawn of a modest suburban home. He reached the front door and knocked on it with authority. It took a while, but a woman finally answered. She was clutching her robe closed and she looked tired. It looked as if she was roused from sleep. She gently asked him what he wanted.

Without warning, the man kicked in the door. The door hit the woman in the face and knocked her down on her back. The man stepped forward and brandished a knife. A malicious smile formed across his face and grew wider as he stepped closer to the unconscious woman. As soon as he was completely in the house, he was startled to hear the door slam behind him.

The small foyer had two exits other than the front door, but he noticed they had been blocked by floor-to-ceiling panes of glass. While he remained confused at the glass walls, an electrical outlet panel bursted open with a stream of water that had the force of an open fire hydrant. Water started to fill the room and there was no visible drain.

The woman has been knocked unconscious and remained on her back. Her robe soaked with the water that was splashing around her. The man hastily stepped on and around her, but could not find an open exit. The water filled the room quickly. House slippers and toys floated around in the water that was, by that time, already at the height of the man’s waist.

The man banged on the door that had previously slammed behind him as he frivolously screamed for help. He heard a faint sound on the glass and whipped his head around. It was a small child on the other side of the glass mouthing the word “mommy” and using his pudgy hand to slap the glass wall. The woman was now floating, face down, along with the debris.

With a glimmer of hope, the man waded over towards the child and shouted at him for help. His shouts went unheard so he banged on the glass with a fist still grasping the knife.

The child had only been concentrating on his mother and, for the first time, looked upward to see the man. The man, realizing he may have a scary demeanor, put the knife behind his back and gave the child the most charming smile he could muster. Then he put the palm of his free hand on the glass as a gesture of kindness and request for help.

Instead of continuing to yell for his mother, the child glared at the man and backed up three steps without breaking eye contact. The man stared back at the child in confusion, panic, and disbelief. He turned towards the woman to try and somehow use her for the child’s help.
What used to be the floating woman was now just a robe and pajama pants, appearing suspended in water, but slowly sinking to the ground.

Something slithered between the man’s legs. He looked down to investigate, but a sight in his periphery caught his attention. He quickly turned around only to come face to face with a creature that had a pair of bulbous, yellow eyes and a mouth set with long, razor sharp teeth.

The aquatic monster gave the man little time to scream as she unhinged her jaw over his head and clamped down cleanly on his neck. Just as his knife clanked on the ground of the water filled room, his silent, buoyant body bobbed up to the surface.

Dogs: Concept Art 1

Even though I’m not planning to illustrate my story about dogs, I got some friendly advice to draw out some of the ideas I had to help me get work through writer’s block.

I’m not going to lie, even though I’m usually happy with the output, I don’t always love drawing. When I get an idea, I just want it to explode out of me all at once and be done. But the reality is, I can’t get what’s in my mind out to share with the world unless I work at it. So here it is! A piece of concept art :O)

A Story About Dogs

I love dogs.

The idea of writing a story about dogs came up on a ride home from work. I thought about the history of humans on Earth and how we got here. It is pretty amazing to think about how human evolution came to a fork in the road and took a turn to for us to become intelligent beings. I wondered how the Earth would be if humans did not rule it. With that idea, I started to write a post apocalyptic sci-fi story about dogs in the Notes app on my phone during my work commute on BART.

Now that I’ve gotten further into the story, my plan is to complete it as a short novel to share with the world! I’ll update my progress here of my journey to publication. I hope to see you on the other side!

Ruth

Ruth approached the building complex that housed the bank corporate offices where she needed to drop off some paperwork from her job. She had been to the building complex many times. It was full of vendors, restaurants, civil services, and it even had a movie theatre in it.

Though familiar with the complex, at that moment she realized she had never been to the bank corporate offices before. She took out the paperwork that she previously tucked into her jacket to shield from the light rain. She quickly peeked at the address for confirmation. “Suite 300,” she read aloud. Naturally, she figured it was the third floor.

The building complex had about a hundred entrances. Not completely knowing which way to go, Ruth entered through an outdoor entrance and headed up the left portion of a double spiral staircase. It was designed in a mirror image and was quite a sight—almost an art piece. She saw an exit from the staircase, but continued upwards since she was headed to the third floor. The next exit was at the top of the staircase which led to a very well kept garden. There were people all over: coming back from grabbing lunch, getting a quick dentist appointment in, and running errands.

Ruth internally questioned, “Did anybody look like they were going to, or coming from, the bank corporate offices?” She passed by a dentist’s office with floor-to-ceiling windows. There were tens of people waiting. It was the busiest dentist’s office she had ever seen. As she walked by, looking lost, the waiting patients seemed to turn their heads in unison to witness her confusion.

To the left of the dentist’s office was a glass door to a hallway. Investigating the hallway revealed that it led only to an elevator. “Maybe there is a directory near the elevator,” she thought to herself. Walking to the end of the hall proved to be fruitless. The only visual offered was an emergency exit map that itself offered little help in the event of an actual emergency. It looked like a maze from the back of a cereal box. It seemed silly to continue wandering in ignorance, so Ruth decided to go into the dentist’s office to ask the receptionist if she knew where the bank corporate offices were.

She walked through the double glass doors of the dentist’s office entrance. The door shut quickly behind her with the sound of a vacuum seal. The hustle and bustle from outside was silenced and replaced with the faint sounds of desk phones ringing and computer keyboard keys tapping.

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” the receptionist called out without looking away from the computer screen.

Not being a dental patient, and not being very patient in general, Ruth thought to quickly interrupt. “Actually, I’m just looking for the bank corporate offices. I thought they were on the third floor. Am I wrong?”

The receptionist stopped typing, sighed, and looked upward towards Ruth without moving his head. His eyes peered from above the frame of his computer glasses. Ruth immediately realized her mistake in interrupting him.

“That’s the third floor. You have to go down the escalator and then through the elevator in the lobby.”

“Isn’t this the third floor?” Ruth questioned.

The receptionist already went back to typing. Since Ruth thought she could probably figure it out from here, she internalized the instructions the receptionist gave her and left. As she exited the office, she felt the staring eyes of the waiting dental patients follow her until their view was obstructed by a pillar.

The light rain speckled her glasses and she noticed there weren’t as many people around as there were when she first arrived. She spotted an awning covering the aforementioned escalators and made her way down to the lobby. When she reached the bottom of the escalators, she stopped to get her bearings. Two businessmen whisked by her. It appeared they were also going to the lobby, so she followed closely behind.

They looked surprised that she was going their way. One of them opened the door and stepped to the side for her. With an arrogant grin he loudly proclaimed, “Oh please, you first.”

Ruth was slightly put off by his tone, but found solace in seeing two security guards chatting in the lobby. She felt that they could point her in the right direction.

Ruth walked up to the security desk to enquire, “I’m trying to drop something off at the bank corporate offices. Where…”

Both security guards answered before Ruth could finish her question. “Oh! Third floor. Third floor,” they exclaimed, almost shouting, as they pointed towards the elevators.

The timing of everything ended up landing Ruth in the same elevator as the two businessmen she previously encountered. The stood side by side and made it so Ruth had to push her way through them to enter the elevator. She turned to rest her back on the elevator handrail and sighed when she realized she couldn’t reach the buttons.

“What floor?” one of them asked.

“Three,” Ruth replied sharply.

The elevator doors closed. In the reflection of the mirror finish, Ruth could see the businessmen exchange glances. They both had large smiles on their faces and pointed at the already lit button next to “3”.

It was a relief for Ruth when the elevator bell finally dinged. She exited the elevator and turned to the right. The businessmen thankfully went in the opposite direction.

Finally, she made it! The reception area housed a small waiting room and a reception desk with a backlit sign of the bank’s logo behind it. Due to the lack of windows, the room felt dimly lit. The recessed lighting created a spotlight which highlighted a single phone on the desk, facing outward.

Ruth scanned a laminated list of phone extensions. She checked the paperwork again for the name of the person she was supposed to drop the paperwork off with: Alice. She found Alice’s extension and dialed the number. Alarmingly, it went straight to a fax machine. She tried it again to make sure she hadn’t entered it incorrectly the first time—still, the fax machine.

Ruth looked around and felt that the setting was a little strange. A corporate office of a huge nationwide bank, and there was nobody at the reception desk. There was little to no instruction on how to reach anybody inside. She sighed aloud and decided to dial the extension of the person right above Alice: Lyra, extension 1000. She laughed and said to herself, “Poor person, they probably get called all the time with that extension.”

The phone actually rang this time. While the phone rang, Ruth realized that she was overly warm. After her journey there, while wearing a raincoat in humid weather, her fingers were swelling from the heat. She removed her wedding ring and placed it to the right of the phone. As she proceeded to massage the indent in the flesh of her finger, a kind voice answered the line. Ruth bent down towards the speaker and made sure to speak in a thankful and apologetic tone, “Hi, I’m really sorry to bother you… I’m up at the front desk and am supposed to drop off some paperwork for Alice. But I wasn’t able to reach her extension. Is there a mail drop or something I can put this into?”

“I can just come up and get it from you.” the kind voice offered.

“Oh thank you, I really appreciate it.”

She stood waiting in front of the phone and gazed at the television in the waiting area. It was playing a news segment. There was a man speaking passionately and aggressively about something. Ruth was confused because even though the volume was plenty loud, she couldn’t make out what he was saying. This perplexed her and she concentrated on trying to understand the irate man. In the midst of her deep concentration, a door swung open from a part of the wall that looked like there was no door. The sudden movement startled her and she jumped a little. She caught herself and laughed in a response to the social anxiety.

“So, this is for Alice?” Lyra asked.

“Yes, she’s expecting it. I already sent her a passworded scanned copy.”

“Okay, don’t worry. We handle all confidential paperwork, especially ones with signatures, with care. I’ll put it right on her desk.”

“Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. And sorry, again, for the trouble!”

As the seamless door closed, Ruth reached for her wedding ring where she left it. Not immediately feeling it, she looked down and saw that it was on the left side of the phone. Her eyebrows furrowed a little bit. She dismissed the contradiction to her memory and slipped on her ring. It seemed very easy to get on, almost too loose, despite the swelling of her fingers.

When she got into the elevator, she realized she didn’t know which floor she originally came from. At first, she felt a sense of panic that’s experienced in a flurry on indecision. Then she giggled a little bit when she realized there were only two choices: “2” or “L”. She clicked “L” because there was a star next to it, and “L” should naturally be the lobby.

Then the thought flashed in her mind that she only descended one floor on the escalators from the floor with the dentist’s office and the garden. That’s what she thought was the third floor. Logic would mean that she came from “2”. She hurriedly tried to press the button for “2” but it wouldn’t light up. The doors automatically closed and made the descent.

Ruth was relieved when the doors opened and she saw the familiar security desk. The security guards must’ve been on break since the desk was empty. She made her way to the escalators so she could return to work.

Ruth walked back to her office quickly. The whole trip felt like it took forever. She was planning to laugh about it with her coworkers, “How could a simple task have ended up being so convoluted?” But when she got back, everybody seemed to have left for the day.

She decided it was a good stopping point and shut down her computer to head home. Her keys jingled as she strung her purse over her shoulder and walked towards the front door. She looked down at her phone when she exited the building. As she stepped through the door, she instinctually expected to feel the hardness from concrete under her heeled shoes. Instead, she felt the plushiness of carpet. She looked up and was alarmed to see that she hadn’t stepped outside, she had stepped into another room. Her eyes had to adjust from the bright office lights of her work to the dimly lit room.

Her eyes finally focused and she realized it was the reception waiting room at the bank corporate offices that she had just visited earlier. Ruth was frightened and confused. She turned around to try and go back into her office, but instead of the door, it was a wall.

Ruth whipped back around and saw the back of a woman that was staring at a television. She questioned her own sanity as she realized the woman she saw in front of her was herself. She saw her other self entranced in the same news segment of the man yelling something that she could not decipher before. The feeling of dread and horror rushed over her body. This time she could understand what the man was saying.

He said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The television switched off and everything went black.