Stories


These stories are novella length. Shorter stories have their own sub page.

T.G.I.F. (1993) (This is a PDF file that can be opened by Acrobat Reader). I think of this as a sequel to “Voice of the High School” though it takes place earlier in time – eighth grade. Obviously I was inspired by real life; my life. Most of the story really happened to me. I remember my professor gave me a B on this and wrote, “Your story, while entertaining, contains characters that are nothing more than broadly drawn stereotypes and are not particularly believable.” Well, I lived with these characters; I have to agree they were pretty unbelievable.

An Annotated History of the Munchie (1994) (This is a PDF file that can be opened by Acrobat Reader). This story was actually developed by me when I was ten or so and Munchie was my “alter ego”. I finally wrote it all down when I was 24 to prove to a friend of mine that Munchie was more than just “a sock”!

No Silver Lining (1995) (This is a PDF file that can be opened by Acrobat Reader). This was my attempt at writing a “Star Trek” novel. It tells the backstory behind the TOS episode “Obsession”.

A Case for Keeps (2012): I joined a local writers’ group in 2012.  We meet once a month for “Prompt Club”.  We each write a short story (1,000 words or so) on a selected topic.  This was my first story for the group and the theme was “You and tequila make me…”  I had fun putting together a little hard boiled detective fiction though it occurred to me after the fact Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe probably drank more whiskey than tequila…

A Note of Hunger (1983): I consider this my second real story. I was 13 years old and fresh from reading Stephen King’s book of short stories, Night Shift. I decided to write my own Stephen King story, turning my junior high school into the den of a monster and populated with kids I knew. I felt a little embarassed at first, killing several of my friends off in such horrible manner, but – to my surprise – they loved it! In fact, I would get requests to have me kill someone off every so often throughout the rest of my school career.

A Question of Balance (2012): The prompt for August was, “Why are you digging that hole?”  I wrote a draft and then completely switched to a different idea.  After that fell through, I came back to the original draft and finished it up.

A Visit from Space (1982): This is my first real story. I wrote this for my English class in seventh grade and ended up going to a Young Authors’ Writing Conference. I can’t say it’s my best writing, but there are some things in it that show up later on… especially my fondness for “The Twilight Zone” endings.

Alien! (1985): A Note of Hunger was my first “Kill Dave” story. I had been inspired by my friend Dave Grelyak and my main character in A Note of Hunger was eaten by his own possessed trumpet. He was less than thrilled to be killed off; he took it kind of personally for some reason. He wrote a short story that featured a main character named “Bob” who ended up dying in a pretty horrible manner, if I remember correctly. So, I one-upped him by killing him off again in this story, based on a tag game we really played as kids.

Bad Habits Die Hard (2012): The prompt for this month was “bad habits”.  The first half of the original version of this story was similar to this version.  The two characters met and talked, but nothing much happened.  Then I wondered what would change if the visitor wasn’t human.  The rest of the story came together pretty quickly after that.

Creation (1985): This is a “Kill Bob” story. I’m still curious as to what would happen if you microwaved uranium…

Death Wears a Tall Hat (1991):  This actually started out as a “ghost story” told live on the radio on Halloween, 1990.  I had a basic premise and pretty much made it up as I went along.  The first draft of the story was essentially a transcript (I even had it documented as such), but I ended up editing all of that out and telling it like a long conversation.

Explorers (1991): If you have read any of my other stories involving kids and mysterious dark areas then this one has a surprise ending.  For those who haven’t, it’s a character sketch of two brothers.

Figments of the Imagination (1985): Another “Kill Dave” story. The sound of the alien came to me in school and it was like a piece of song you get stuck in your head. You can’t let it go, no matter how hard you try. I bombed an algebra quiz because I couldn’t concentrate on anything, but “scrape-scrape… scrape-scrape…” I went home and typed this up in a couple of hours.

Full Circle (2012): Another “Prompt Club” entry.  The theme was “Instant Karma”.  I wrote four other – totally different – versions of this story before coming up with this version about four hours before the meeting.  I read Charles Manson was denied parole again; it gave me an idea.

Good Morning Starshine (1988): If I remember correctly, this was the result of a writing exercise where we had to put a new spin on something. I was listening to the soundtrack from “Hair” and somehow converted hippie love into nuclear war. I don’t remember what grade I got for doing that!

Hard Work, Soft Core (2012): The Prompt Club theme was “writing” this month.  While I have wrestled with my characters on occasion, never like this!

Heaven or Hell (1995): I jotted this down after sitting for almost an hour at the corner of Barrington Road and Lake Street.

In Memoriam via Animae (2012): We had to write a prompt based on a photograph.  My first photo was a modern waiting room and I based the first draft on that.  The main character waited around, trying to figure out if he was in Heaven or Hell.  I lost the picture and found the stadium photo instead.  That prompted me to expand the conceit of the story and how the afterlife works.

Just Another Friday Night at the Good Old Burger King (1995): My ode to Jean Shepherd. A first person, slightly exaggerated description of working at Burger King when I was in high school. Most of the events in this story really happened… sort of.

Lycanthropy Is a Many Splendored Thing (1987): This is – more or less – a one note joke of a story.  Still, I enjoyed writing it and later on it was published in our high school literary magazine with the lycanthrope fully illustrated.

Mercy Mission (2012): This “Prompt Club” short story was based on theme “Invasion”.  I chose the cliche science fiction take on this (even basing it on the classic invasion story of the genre) and hope I was able to give it a little spin that is unexpected.  Another of my many homages to the writing style of Arthur C. Clarke.

Miss Magnetic – Number 1 (2012): This story was based on the prompt, “She woke up one day and found herself magnetic.”  I immediately thought of superheroes, but had to do a lot of research.  There are a lot more superheroes than the general public realizes.  In terms of abilities, I saw some possibilities (and detriments) to having magnetic superpowers.  My first version of the prompt story was about the end of the superhero group she belongs to.  I liked parts of it, but decided to go with an origin story rather than a “crisis” story.

Nearside – Farside (1987): This is a science fiction coming of age story.  I think I was probably reminded of The Body by Stephen King and A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  If you’ve never read either, you should… after you finish reading mine!

Now I Lie, Down to Rest (2012): At the May Prompt Club meeting, we picked ideas out of a bag.  Mine was, “the biggest lie I ever told was…”.  This short story was surprisingly difficult to write because – as I discovered – my characters generally don’t lie.

Of Historic Significance (1987): Another of my Arthur C. Clarke inspired short stories where history repeats itself.

Outlook (1985): This isn’t really a story, but a description of a place. I wrote it for my high school English class and remember that it gave my teacher “the creeps”.

Overnight Involvement (1994): This was going to be the beginning of a longer piece.

Paranoia (1987): This is the youngest I made Dave in my “Kill Dave” stories. He’s seven in this one.

Perchance to Dream (1991): When I was in college, a common criticism of my work were my “twist endings” in a lot of my “Kill Dave” stories.  Sometimes, they didn’t pick up on it or missed the point.  So, in this particular story, I pretty much spelled it out exactly as to what was happening and why.  This isn’t exactly a “Kill Dave” story, but it does contain Bob, Dave and a number of other regulars from the Neighborhood.

Proof Positive (1987): I found an antique manual typewriter at a junk store that was in perfect condition.  It weighted about 50 pounds, was cast iron and looked awesome: tall and imposing with white letters on black keys.  This was the first story I typed up on it… sadly one of the last stories as well.  I bought an electric typewriter not too long afterward.

Rapunzel – Take Two (1995): Kipling had his “Just So” stories, Edward Everett Horton narrated “Fractured Fairy Tales”.  I had my “Take Two” stories; the basic parable is there, but with a better – my feeling more realistic – ending.

Report from Planet Earth (1985): I wrote this story under a deadline to submit something to the short story contest at school my freshman year.  It didn’t win, it didn’t place, it didn’t show.  It has a cute idea, but it requires you to know an awful lot about Schaumburg in 1985 to understand the gimmick.  ARC was the name of the disposal company in the area.

Shoot Out (1989): I wrote this hanging out in a motel room, waiting for my dorm room to become available at college.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Take Two (1995): Another hoary parable given a bit more modern moral.

The Changed (1988): This story could be better described as a “Kill Everyone But Dave”, but Dave does meet his characterstic fate at the end of the story.  Actually, we shot this as a short movie up at his parents’ cabin in Wisconsin… though it’s not anywhere close to the level of gore in this story!

The Last Man on Earth – Take Two (1995): In science fiction circles, this is a classic example of how two survivors of armageddon are left to begin again.  And there names are – (gasp!) Adam and Eve.  I made a few changes in my take on this old chesnut.

The Librarian (or Milkman #3) (1987): Stephen King wrote the first two “Milkman” stories.  They are available in his book Skeleton Crew.

The Long Shift (1987): My first job at Burger King inspired this story and a poem. Even though the story is set in a Burger King, I always wanted to call the story “McHell”… but I thought that might give too much away.

The Messenger (1988): Arthur C. Clarke made a strong impression on me in the way he would describe things, especially in his short stories in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This is a short story I wrote right before going off to college.

The Summer Season (1992): Another “Kill Dave” story. This was the last of these stories and I made the characters in the 40-ish age range.

The Three Bears – Take Two (1995): My first attempt at fracturing a fairy tale.

The Time Travelers (1986): My friend Greg always felt a little left out when he’d read my various “Kill Dave” stories.  While he didn’t die in this story, I did basically erase him and my cohorts in the library from the time-space continuum.   By the way, the calculator thing was real; we had some kid totally convinced we could travel in time with it.

The Trials of Manhood (1987): I won first place in the school’s story contest my senior year.  The last scene was the first part I wrote.  I ended up working backwards, develping more and more back story as I went along.  In the end, there was probably a novella’s worth of stuff that didn’t go into this story (the entire saga of the colonists as they watch everything that has happened four years in the past, what happened to Bill’s wife, etc).

The Vision (1989): I was trying to get into an Edgar Allen Poe frame of mind.

The Walking Dutchman (1988): This is mostly a writing exercise. I can’t say that I had much inspiration to write it, but – back then – I could just crank out something like this in a few days. I do find it interesting that I was writing about the deep dark cold of winter while sweltering in a dorm room without air conditioning in August of the hottest summer on record.

The Widow of Frankenstein (1987): This is an “award winning” story. I won second place in the high school writing contest in my junior year.  Believe it or not, the girl who inspired “To a Special Girl” was also the basis in my mind for the dream woman.

To the Scene of the Crime (1988): I wrote this “Kill Dave” story with the idea of making a movie out of it. I ended up shooting it twice: once where my brother and I were the “Bob” character and a few years later when another set of brothers played the “Bob” roles.

Traveling Through the Dark (1990): This was an exercise for a rhetoric class.  We had to take a poem (in this case “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford) and turn it into a story.

Voice of the High School (1997): I wrote the first draft of this for a college course and refined it a few years later.  This remains my favorite of my short stories.

What If? (1987): This version was dated January, 1987, but I think I wrote this for a high school English assignment the previous year. For those readers who don’t know, the high school mascot for Schaumburg High School was a Saxon (bearded man with a broadsword).

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