“New Antiques” was yet another go at a little bit of time travel, but I wanted to play with the mundane wonder of being a kid, having to deal with how fantastic reality can be. I saw this one play out visually like a movie as I wrote.
Here’s the blurb:
Tim Crabtree takes time out of his daily harassment by the local bullies to wonder why his new neighbors have built a forty-foot pole in their backyard. Are they trying to get hit by lightning? If he only knew… Help him figure it out – read “New Antiques.”
And here’s the excerpt:
When Tim made it home from school Tuesday with storm clouds threatening, the Prentiss’ backyard had been completely ringed in by a stockade fence, and you couldn’t see the cylinder from the alley unless you stuck your eye up to a gap between the pickets.
But from his vantage point on the roof, Tim could see things the rest of the neighborhood couldn’t. He saw Mr. Prentiss run a heavy cable around the cylinder, over and under several times before he attached it to that forty-foot pole. He also had just the right angle to see the inside of the cylinder reflected in the Prentiss’ storm door, and he watched Mrs. Prentiss, dressed like one of those ladies at the renaissance faire, fiddling with computers and electronic gadgets along the walls. And even though the Prentisses didn’t seem to be aware of them, Tim saw Joey and Butch spying on the Prentisses through the fence. The two never hesitated to take advantage of an open garage door, and. Tim knew they’d love a chance to steal some of what was being kept in the Prentiss’ shelter.
A flash of lightning and a loud clap of thunder a couple of seconds later caught everyone’s attention. Tim had been so absorbed in what was happening across the alley, one of those storms his mom was always worrying about had managed to sneak up on him. It started to pour, and Tim knew he should get back inside, but the wind whipped up so suddenly that he was afraid to try climbing back into his window, so he did his best to hunker down against the storm. Joey and Butch took shelter under the overhang of the Prentiss’ garage.
Mr. Prentiss rushed into the house, but rejoined Mrs. Prentiss on their back porch moments later, with his arms full of clothes. Tim watched in fascination while the lightning got closer and the thunder came quicker; he’d been sure the two of them would take shelter in the cylinder, but instead Mrs. Prentiss helped Mr. Prentiss get dressed like a festival actor, and then the two of them stood on the porch staring at the cylinder.
Suddenly, a blinding electrical arc connected the sky to the pole, and the coils around the cylinder lit up a brilliant blue. The strike was so close by that there was no pause between the lightning and the thunder’s explosion. Tim lost his grip in the shock of it all, and as the Prentisses ran toward the cylinder, Tim slid off the roof, flailing and yelling for what seemed forever until he grazed the bushes by his back door.
He hit the ground hard enough that his yell turned to a gasp as all the wind was knocked out of him. He lay there on his back trying to catch his breath, thinking how his mom had been wrong about how he was going to fall to his death, and staring at the sky. Tim’s vision was hazy still from the ghost of the flash, and he was seeing everything through that same blue glow. The rain had ceased even though the storm clouds still hung black overhead. It was sort of quiet and peaceful. His mom always said the quiet was when you knew you were in real trouble.
Then he remembered that he was in real trouble; he was on the ground with no fence to protect him, and with Joey and Butch just across the alley. He rolled onto his belly and saw them standing in the Prentiss’ driveway, peering through the fence again.
“Look – they left it open!” Butch said
Tim got slowly to his feet and started inching toward the door, and that’s when they saw him. The two ran at him from across the alley, and he barely made it inside and got the door locked before he felt them slam against it.
“Mind your own business, Craptree!” Butch said through the door.
“You tell anyone you saw us and we’ll get you,” Joey said.
Tim stumbled upstairs and climbed out of his window. Everything was still quiet. The Prentisses had left the hatch open; Tim couldn’t see them in there through their storm door’s reflection. He wondered if they’d gone back into the house, and hadn’t thought that anyone would climb over the fence. The Prentisses didn’t know Butch and Joey; they were going to lose all their equipment.
He watched the two step up on a cable television box and clamber over the fence and into the Prentiss’ backyard. Joey undid the hasp on the gate to set up their escape route, and then they crept quietly around the cylinder, steering clear of the cables that still shone that bright, electric blue.
Tim saw them walk into the hatchway, but then a brilliant flash flooded the inside and he lost sight of them. Another electrical arc united sky and cylinder, only this time the blue glow dissipated instantly from the cables and the rain restarted as the Prentisses emerged from the hatch. They carried a small antique chest between them, up onto the porch and inside, and when the storm door swung shut and Tim could see inside the cylinder again, he could see the computers and other equipment along the walls, and a grouping of cloth sacks with another small chest, but there was no sign of Joey and Butch.
I wonder if Tim will be seeing Joey and Butch any time soon… “New Antiques” is a speculative fiction short story, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
“New Antiques” is also included in the collection Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:
Which is itself included in the mega-collection The Next Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’
My next ePublication will be “Date Night”:
Sometimes our demons are all we have. A modern-day witch pins her hopes on an unusual dinner guest.
“Date Night” is a speculative fiction short story with an unusual bit of romance for flavor. It’s also the third of my stories to earn an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. The release date is April 26th, but “Date Night is available now for preorders at online retailers, including, but not limited to:
William Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent release “Reining Cats and Dogs” – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
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