“New Antiques” was yet another go at a little bit of time travel (I’ll figure out how it really works eventually), 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:
The story is also included in the collection Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:
“New Antiques” is also in the collection The Next Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND’:
Smashwords (at 40%-off for the FIRST TEN people who use the onsite coupon RAE50): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/784952
William Mangieri has written several pieces of short fiction, but he also has two series of short stories.
The first series is Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire; the inaugural story –
“Purr Mission”, won him the first of his Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future contest.
Major Tom’s dander is up. His cub is dying of the Morient Virus, and this cat knows that the Ramses Empire’s sworn enemies (the deceitful feline Baastards!) are responsible, but bureaucats have ordered him not to go to their planet to recover the antidote. Well, it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask purrmission. Ready for heroism, space, spies, and lives in the balance? Read “Purr Mission.”
“Purr Mission” can be found FOR FREE at various retailers, including, but not limited to:
(AND – there’s also a link inside for the opportunity to receive “Nipped in the Butt” – the 2nd Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tale – for FREE as well!)
His second series is Detective Jimmy Delaney, with “In a Flash” as the first story.
Jimmy was a good cop, but age and changing times were getting the better of him. If he could only get an edge, take advantage of some of that new-fangled tech. What would be the harm in a brain-enhancing interface – one of those AugMentors? I mean, everybody cheats a little, don’t they? Just be careful not to get caught… Read “In a Flash” to see how Jimmy gets himself in (and out?) of trouble.
“In a Flash” can be found at several online retailers FOR FREE, including, but not limited to:
Go out and give them both a read (and a review would be appreciated, too – thanx!)
The Etaeren sorceror Svaerd destroyed the Aurae Council in his quest to take the power of Taernfeld for himself. He almost succeeded in his designs, but was defeated by the council’s lone survivor. Trapped within a haeld-sword, he plots his escape.
For four-hundred years, magic has been outlawed by Tor-Haval. Sandrik is the first bright-eye to be seen in Caladon in living memory, and he doesn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he keeps his special abilities hidden. But there is more to Sandrik than even he knows. Now he is about to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld to be declared a man, but another fate awaits him. Will he escape it?
My novel Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction. His other 80-some-odd short stories (plus his collections) can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
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