Phasks™: My Short Story Of the Week

PHASKS

 

She lifts the Phask™ to her face, holds it nearer and nearer her skin until it connects with her Tempts®, and then exits her apartment. As she heads for the elevator, she tells her quarters to lock up before also hailing a DrUber©.

While riding down the elevator, she dictates a few messages to her friends, confirms the weather, and watches a cat video her sister sent. It’s hilarious.

Her building is an older one, practically historic by the city’s standards, and it hasn’t yet been outfitted with exterior ports. Keeps the rent down, but definitely an inconvenience to actually have to ride an elevator.

After exiting her building, she finds her DrUber© waiting at the curb. She climbs in and takes the only empty seat available. It’s at the front, on the left. There are five other people.

DrUber© flashes a message across her visual welcoming her and then prompting her to confirm the destination. She does so, and it next merges seamlessly into the city’s ever-flowing traffic.

A call pushes through. She sees it’s Alejandra and quickly answers.

“Hey, Alejandra!” she greets.

“Hey, Zee! Just wondered when you’re going to arrive?”

“Hold on, let me check …” Zee asks for an ETA. Her DrUber© messages that it will be three and a half more minutes—they have to drop off one more passenger first. “Just a few,” Zee informs.

“Cloo,” Alejandra says. “That’s about the same for me, too.”

“I’m so excited,” Zee says.

“I know!”

“How many people do you think will be there?” Zee asks.

“Well, fourteen confirmed, so let’s hope we have at least that many, right?”

“I never dreamed we’d get enough people together to start a Jill Thompson fan club!”

“I know! I loved looking at my dad’s copies of her graphic novels when I was a kid, especially Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. She’s such an amazing artist. This is going to be so much fun!”

Zee’s nose suddenly tickles. “I’ll see you there, Alejandra. I gotta go—I think I’m going to sneeze!”

“Get your Phask™ off! You’ll gross it!” Alejandra cries.

Zee disconnects her Phask™ just in time to hold her finger up to her nose and belay the sneeze. “Whew!” she says. “That was close.”

Before replacing her Phask™, Zee waits to see if another sneeze threatens. She relaxes while enjoying the slight hum of the vehicle. The three remaining people surrounding her—two men and a woman—all wear Phasks™ and, judging by their hand motions, seem to be carrying on fairly animated conversations. That, or they could be gaming. Maybe both.

Now alone in the front seat, Zee slides to the right side of the vehicle so she can look out the window at the few people walking. It always amuses her to see all of the adults wearing their Phasks™—No Two Ever Alike—and their children walking alongside them, barefaced. Kids are too little for Tempts®, so they have to make do with handheld devices. She remembers when her doctors said she could finally get a Phask™—it was the best day of her life.

One pedestrian catches her attention. He wears no Phask™, has no device in his hand, doesn’t seem connected at all to anything or anyone. In fact, Zee thinks he looks a little horrified.

Confident her sneeze has completely abated, she puts her Phask™ back on and G-Scans the guy.

No matches. Weird. She can’t remember a single time that’s ever happened.

The DrUber© reaches her destination, attaches to a lift, and then ascends. Even though she’s received thirty-two messages during her sneeze dilemma, she pauses all the activity on her visual and marvels at the parked cars sliding to and fro in order to make way for her DrUber© as it climbs the building. It reminds her of the ant farm she loved as a kid.

“Hey, it’s me again,” she says to Alejandra. “You there?”

“Yeah,” Alejandra replies. “Did you sneeze?”

“Sneeze avoided.”

“Cloo.”

“You know it!” Zee giggles.

“Hold on,” Alejandra says. “I’m talking to Eve. She says Jill Thompson might drop by!”

“No way! That would be fantastic. Makes sense; she does live in Chicago and all …”

“Give me two secs,” Alejandro says before cutting out.

The DrUber© docks at the 201st floor, unloads an occupant, then travels to the 218th. After docking again, the DrUber© alerts its occupants that they can safely exit the vehicle.

Zee double checks her evite to verify the apartment number when Alejandra breaks back in by saying, “Hey, I’m here!”

“Me, too!” Zee responds.

“At the party?”

Zee answers, “No, I’m in the hall, walking to the apartment.”

Zee abruptly feels a tap on the back of her shoulder. She spins around to see one of her fellow passengers standing behind her, removing her Phask™.

“Zee?” the person asks.

Flinging off her own Phask™, Zee questions, “Alejandra?”

“Yes!”

The two women hug while laughing hysterically.

“Oemgee!” Zee shouts. “Did you just get out of that DrUber©?”

“Yes! We’re such itzes! We’ve been together the whole time!”

“Ha! My dad would have a field day with this!”

Alejandra agrees, saying, “Oh, man, don’t even.”

“Well,” Zee continues, “it’s nice to meet you, Alejandra.”

“Yeah, like, in person and for real,” Alejandra says with a grin.

The two women resume walking, side by side, with their Phasks™ by their sides.

“So,” Zee begins, “is Jill Thompson actually coming?”

They reach the apartment.

“This is it,” Zee says. “Let me put on my Phask™ and I’ll let them know we’re here …”

“Girl!” Alejandra chides.  “Just knock!”

Zee raps against the door a few times, then repeats, “So? Is she here or what?”

Alejandra smiles brightly at Zee as the door opens. She says, “Just you wait, Zee. I think you’re going to like what the future holds.”


Copyright © 2017 by Scott William Foley

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.

Read “Christmas At the Cemetery” – A Story To Warm the Heart

Why would a mother and father bring their small child to a cemetery every Christmas? Why would that child actually be excited to do so? Here’s a hint: there’s a grandmother involved! Some holiday traditions are stranger than others, but rest assured, “Christmas At the Cemetery” will warm the heart.  Read my $00.99 short on your Kindle or Kindle app by clicking here!

The Red House by Mark Haddon – A Book Review

As a huge fan of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of the Dog In the Night-Time, I was delighted to receive an advance copy of his latest work The Red House (though it is in stores by now).  I was cautious, though, because while I loved his first book, I did not enjoy A Spot Of Bother, his second novel, nearly as much.

The Red House falls somewhere in between.

I have to admit, in the beginning, the book absolutely captivated me.  The Red House is the story of a middle-aged brother and sister meeting in the country at a charming little cottage.  The sister, Angela, has brought along her husband, teenage son and daughter, and a pre-teen boy.  The brother, Richard, is accompanied by his beautiful wife he has just married and her difficult teenage daughter.

I’ll get to the characters in a moment, but they are not what initially ensnared me.  The book’s structure is what really got me excited.  The book is broken into days instead of chapters, each representing a countdown to when the families’ holiday is over.  Furthermore, each “day” is chopped up by a character’s particular perspective, and Haddon works tirelessly to make each character’s voice and point of view unique.  Though I should probably be ashamed to admit it, I especially relished each vignette because, by and large, most of them were not more than a few paragraphs long.  This meant that I could pick the book up at any given moment, read for a few moments, and then put it down and still feel as though the story was uninterrupted.

The style of the book made it a very quick read and, considering the numerous plots, assured it kept a nice pace.

While I enjoyed Haddon’s characters, truthfully, I didn’t feel most of them broke any new ground.  Angela, the seemingly most mundane of them, ended up interesting me more because, in my opinion, her development proved the most radical.  The rest of the characters, while appealing, really dealt with things we’ve read about before or perhaps even experienced.  Maybe that was Haddon’s point, though?  Even though I’d read their general plots before, that admittedly did not make me like them any less.

I will say that next to Angela, another character that was meant to be the second most mundane was thrust into a plotline that I felt was the most forced and even patronizing.  I won’t go into detail for fear of spoiling things, but had this character progressed with either one or the other storyline, I would have been fine with it, but to juxtapose the two developments for this one character simply did not feel consistent with her previous characterization and, as I said, came off as something more political in nature than an organic evolution.

To conclude, The Red House did not recapture the lightning in a bottle that was The Curious Incident Of the Dog In the Night-Time, but it was a really interesting character study, particularly in regards to Angela, and executed an unusual technique that I felt only enhanced the overall story.

Dr. Nekros: Episode V, Volume I Is Live!

This is it! At last, Dr. Nekros has Xaphan in his sights and the ghost
hunter is ready to exact his revenge, and it’s all thanks to Zetta’s
husband! But when Zetta admits that she knows nothing about Jason’s
information, Dr. Nekros grows suspicious. Is this yet another trick by
Xaphan, and if so, are all of them – including Zetta’s husband and
sons – being led to slaughter? Find out in the second-to-last episode
of Volume I entitled “A Nightmare Realized.”

Just click the link to download Episode V to your Kindle for $00.99!

http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Nekros-Nightmare-Realized-ebook/dp/B006GJOM08/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1323121290&sr=8-5

A Follow-Up To Souls Triumphant?

Writing is a funny thing.

Sometimes a story demands to be written, and when this happens, it is both exciting and terrifying.

A very long time ago, I wrote a book called Souls Triumphant.  It spent some time in limbo before I finally published it, and when people read it, I invariable heard, “Will there be a sequel?”  Stupidly, I would immediately answer, “No, this is a one and done deal.”

I say this was a stupid response for three reasons.

The first reason is that a writer should never do anything to quell a reader’s excitement.  If people wanted a sequel to Souls Triumphant, I should have at least kept an open mind to it.  Instead, I blatantly stated that there would be no sequel, and in doing so, I effectively lost a future reader for a potential book.

The second reason I say this was stupid is because who the heck was I to say I would never write a follow-up to Souls Triumphant?  As I get older, I realize that there are different phases of “me.”  The twenty-four year old me was one distinctive person.  The thirty-four year old me is someone else altogether.  Both “me,” and yet not.

The third reason is that stories are sometimes out of the writer’s control, and writers would do well to accept that inarguable fact.  As clearly established, I never considered writing a sequel to Souls Triumphant.  But then, about a year ago, an aspect of the story crept into my mind and provoked my imagination.  Every once in a while that little detail would flash through my head, and I would always give it weight.  And then tonight – tonight! – an entire story unfolded as I did the dishes.

I kid you not.

The plot, the characters, the theme – all of it.  It just happened.  I wasn’t trying to make it happen.  I really hadn’t even been thinking about it too hard (on a conscious level).  It just popped in there.  And now that it’s fully there, it has to get out.

Will I actually write it?  Yeah, I probably will.  You see, I care about my characters from Souls Triumphant.  I almost consider them family.  And when it dawned on me that one of them in particular got treated in a way my thirty-four year old self just can’t handle … Well, I guess the story demanded something be done.

Is it a sequel?  No, I don’ t think so.  What I have in my mind is more of a follow-up.  Ten years have passed since I wrote the story, and I want Joe and Alessandra to have aged ten years as well.  I want the world to have moved on, too.  Those ten years, in fact, are essential to the plot I have in mind.  We’ve all matured in the last ten years, and this story will reflect those changes in tone, values, and senses of responsibility.

Times like tonight make a believer out of me.  The imagination and the capacity for love are indeed our most beautiful gifts, and make no mistake about it – love is the driving force behind this story’s emergence.

 

Thanks To Toni Tucker And Milner Library

Yesterday I took part in a panel discussion on publishing at Milner Library.  The other authors were Patti Lacy and Adam Decker, and, judging from all the notes I saw the audience taking, the three of us offered some diverse and informative ideas and experiences about the world of print.  I know I learned a few new things from my fellow authors as well!

I wanted to specifically thank Toni Tucker and her staff at Milner Library for inviting me to take part in such a fun discussion and for working so hard to promote a very well-organized event.

Here are some links to get to know Milner, Patti, and Adam:

Milner Library

Patti Lacy

Adam Decker