Friday, March 2, 2018

Two Short Stories by Keith

I wrote a story in the summer of 2017. Melissa said, "The story was good. Now, you should write a longer story during the fall sessions."

I wrote a story about "The House", it was good. I wrote another story in the last session of 2017 about "The Second House", and it was good, too. It was a lot of work, but I did it.

The House

I bought a beautiful old guitar from a thrift store. When I was replacing the strings, I decided to dust if off inside. My hand finds a small package taped to the inside of my guitar. It contains a map and an odd coin.

I got a book on coins from the library. The coin was not round, it was hexagonal. Very odd coin. The odd coin was very old. It has on one side a cannon and on the other side King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden. It is dated 1632, the year that he died at Lůtzen. King Gustav was a very strange king. He kept several armies and naval forces. He was the man who thought that cannons were the way to go. He was liked by all of the people. He invaded Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Baltic Coast and Poland. He won. 

I decided to look at the map. The map was very old, too. The map is of Sweden, or a piece of Sweden. The old map had a cross in a hilly region of Sweden, not close to any homes. I checked the map with a current map of Sweden. The current maps of Sweden showed the region to be free of homes. 

The map has little writing. The writing was in a Scandinavian language. I got a Swedish- English dictionary from the library with definitions in both English and Swedish. After a while, I translated the legend into English. The legend said "The treasure is buried here by King Gustav." 

I wondered how a guitar, 40 to 50 years old from a thrift store, could have a map and a coin so much older than it hidden in it. I found out the guitar was made in Sweden. Who knew. The past owner was a soldier (a General) in the Swedish Army who’s death was caused by a heart attack, 15 years ago. The store had two branches, in Vienna, Virginia and the other store was in Uppsala, Sweden. When the item didn’t sell it was moved to the other side of to ocean. When I found the map and the coin inside the guitar I took it back to the thrift store, but the thrift store had a "Going out of Business Sale" due to retirement. The man who was in the store said "If you buy it you own it". I kept a secret that I had King Gustav hexagonal coin and a map for everybody expect from my wife.

I will visit Sweden after I get a passport. I will get a passport to travel abroad. I had a stroke almost 12 years ago. I write very well. I read even better. My speech is not so good. I have aphasia. I think that I persuaded the senior official at the Passport Agency that the reason I wanted to travel to Germany, Poland, the English Islands, and the Scandinavian countries was to find out about my past.

I got two tickets from United; $3,000 for two tickets for 21 days with my wife. I arranged for a room at the Best Western Hotel for $3,300. The room came with breakfast. I got a car from Hertz for $2,000. I didn’t think the trip would be so expensive.

I bought a English/Swedish dictionary, too. We traveled to Stockholm, Sweden. We traveled to Uppsala to the store. We found out that it was closed, also. The owner had a heart attack that killed him this year.

We drove to the spot on the map. It was barren of people. It was a hilly region. We looked for a cross or the mark of King Gustav. We found a mark standing up on the cliff. It had a barely visible sign, "Enter your coin here". We got out a coin. I reached up with the coin and I put the coin into a hexagonal area. The cliff face opened up to reveal a vast array of cannons, from two-pound cannons to 64-pound cannons. The largest number of cannons were those in the 12 pound category. The cannons all had wheels and carriages, they had caissons (a wheel container of gunpowder and balls). I estimated the cannons were about 2000 or so in number.

We looked at one another and laughed. We should have known better. King Gustav was know for his guns, especially his cannons. He said "Cannons are the way to go."

We talked be a policeman in Stockholm. He said "The cannons are very valuable. The counties of Sweden would like to each have a cannon, but they would have to pay fifteen thousand dollars for each cannon."

The Second House

I went home to my wife and entered by the garage door after putting my car in the garage. Mary, my wife, greeted me with a hug and a kiss. She said, “I was very worried about you. My friend, Anne from Vermont, called me on the phone to ask about you and she said ‘Turn on your computer to watch the car video and tell me about your husband. I saw a car with a black-skinned crew flying up to a gray spaceship and your husband was on the ground, just telling a guy that he can have his house back’.  I do not want you to look at any more houses without me. Please, I love you but don’t go to the houses without me.”

I asked, “I am sorry. How did you find out about me?” Mary answered,  “Allen was video taping the whole time, from the ghost on the basement stairs, to the officer of the bank agreeing to give his home back. You were not aware of the video taping going on. He posted it on YouTube and Anne called to tell me she saw it. We will go to another house and look at it. I know that the guy from the bank had a second house for us to look at.”

I said, “I am very sleepy and hungry at four o’clock. Can I have a sandwich? I need to take a nap. We should both go to the second home tomorrow.”

I forgot to introduce myself. I am William Fox. My wife, Mary, and I are looking for a new house because our current house is too large. We are looking at homes that are a comfortable size. The vice-president of my bank had two houses for us to consider. I told you about the first house in another story. This is about the second house.

This story is set on August 1, 2025 when I am 70 years old. I had a stroke in 2005. I nap one hour during the afternoon and sleep 7 - 8 hours in the night. My writing is good but my speaking voice is not so good, I have aphasia. I know the words, but the person to whom I am talking sometimes can not understand me. I can write. I can understand everything if the person is speaking clearly.

On August 2, after we got dressed, Mary and I got into my car and drove to the house. The house was five miles away in Clifton, Virginia. We drove to the house, up its driveway and we got out of the car. Mary said, “There is nobody here. How are you going to get into the house?”

I replied, “I have the combination for the lock box. The vice-president of our bank was very worried about giving it to me. I told him about my stroke and that I would not disclose the combination to any one. He gave in. But first, we have to see the outside of the house. Then, I will open the lock box and pull out the house key.”

The house, from the sales listing in my hands, was on a 1/2 acre lot in total. It had a driveway on the far side of the lot. The driveway ended at a two car garage that stood in front of the house. The garage was not attached to the house. We were in front of the garage and we saw that the double-wide garage door was opened. The garage was spotless. It had a white exterior and a gray interior. The back door was shut and locked. We walked on the sidewalk around the garage and saw the eight foot tall stockade fence. Outside of the fence we saw a lawn that was mowed.  

The sales brochure didn’t list the size of the house. Inside the fence, we saw that it was a tiny house, 20 feet on a side and 20 feet high. It had a flat roof. It had white walls and white roof. The door also was white. The frame of the door was black. I said, “It is sure tiny. Do you still want to look at this house?” Mary replied, “Why not?” I turned my head and I saw four houses, not one. They were separated by 20 feet and the outer wall of the first was in line with the inner wall of the second. I asked, ”Do you see this?”

She said, “I saw four houses when I turned my head. But, when I looked at them, I only saw one house. The other three houses didn’t have any front doors or any widows. I hope you saw it, too.”

I agreed. I said, “Let’s look at the yard.” The lawn was not mowed and the grass was about 12 inches tall.  The forty or fifty trees inside of the fence were different from the trees outside of the fence. We couldn’t name any of the trees. Two or three trees had sky-blue leaves, six trees had silver leaves, and eight trees had black leaves and blue branches. Half of the trees were fruit trees but we could not tell the fruits apart from the leaves. The shrubbery was not well maintained, either. She said,“I cannot name any of the trees or shrubs in the yard. You have the sale brochure. Where did the owner go?”

I responded, “The owner is a math professor at George Mason University named Doctor Steven Tufts. It said, ‘The professor vanished in 2020. The house is for sale.’ There is not a house plan.”

She said,”I would like to look inside this house even though it’s creepy. Now I know why you didn’t want me to know about the house you visited yesterday.”

We walked to the front door and I took the key out of the box. I opened the door. We went inside while holding on to each other. The lights were not on. It was black inside that house and I was trying to turn the lights on with a switch. 

I found a switch on the wall beside the front door. When I turned on the switch, the single lamp above the front door came on. We were surprised at all the space, thirty feet across the front, thirty feet deep, and thirty feet high without any other walls. We could not see a ceiling. The floor was granite and the wall was marble.

I said, “I don’t think this is like the little house. The little house became a large house. I have to go to the car and get out a pair of flashlights. Please, you come out, too. I am very frightened of the house.”  She said, “I will go to the car with you to get the flashlights. We should never be apart.”  We got the flashlights from the car and went back inside. The floor was now basalt and the wall was now granite. She said, “I saw the floor was granite and the wall was marble without any lines. Now, the floor is basalt and the wall is granite, still without any lines.” We both turned on our flashlights. Both flashlights have very long beams that revealed a far side wall that was 400 feet wide and a ceiling that was 300 feet up. The near wall showed fifty-five doors (eleven doors on each level) and the far side wall showed the same number of doors. We could not see the other two walls, they were not there.

I said, “I only saw one front door. I didn’t see any of the doors except for the front door. We have to open one door, not the front door. We are going over to the door on the west side.” We walked over forty feet, to open the door. The door was wider and much taller than the front door. We saw the light was different, too. The light was a fluorescent tube that was turned on by a motion sensor. We peeked through the door and we saw a jungle where it was raining.

She said, “I don’t remember this rain or the jungle, either.” I said, “The trees are different, some of them have sky-blue branches and silvery leaves. Look at the rain drops, I think that the rain drops are larger and when the rain drops hit the puddles the water spatters  higher than on our world. Shut the door, we are going to the other side of the front door and will open that door.”

We walked to the east and I opened the door. The door was narrow and shorter and the lamp was a LED light. We saw brown desert and an orange sky. We also saw a mouse eating a seed, but the mouse had six legs and a black and white tail. I said, “I must be dreaming. This  could only be a fantasy novel, not even a science fiction novel. The worlds came together in the house. Look at the doors. I think there are more doors when we move down or up. There are five doors on each side. We have to tell somebody about the house.”

She said, “Who do you want to tell? I don’t think you should tell the government or any businesses or any university or college. I think that you should tell the vice-president of our bank and let him handle the house. How do you get to the second level and above? I did not see stairs or an elevator.”

I said, “We will tell the vice-president of our bank when we leave. He should be in the bank today. I don’t know how to get to the second level or above.” We shut the door of the desert world and we went back to our Earth-side door. We were about to open our door when a door opened on the third floor up and four doors away. We felt dizzy and then a door opened to our left on the same level as us. The walls were basalt and floor was a different shade of granite. And, a person was there! He was a very pale shade of green and he was tiny, three feet tall and about forty pounds.

I said to my wife, “I know how they do it. They do it by rearranging the floor with the walls and bringing the second level or higher to the floor. You didn’t let go of our door, I hope. I don’t know how to get back to our world.” She said, “I was about to open our door. I will hold on tightly to our door. We can open the door and just flee.”

I was about to urgently run out the door when the little green man (I know, that is not politically correct, but he was shorter that us and had a pale green face) pointed to us to stop. The little green man said, “I am a friend. Who are you?”

I said, “I am William and my wife is Mary. We are friends, too. We are interested in houses. This house is different, it is huge, but looks small from the outside. This house, or is it a factory, is open to many exo-worlds. We are from Earth. What world are you from? You speak English very well.”

The little green man said, “Thank you. You speak Lotra very well. My planet is Lolly. My name is Major. You don’t have to worry, all of the languages different people speak are the same. You speak the native language of my planet and you think that you are saying it in English.

We are members of many planets. Your wife didn’t let go of the door. I am pleased, if she had let go of that door you would be lost. You couldn’t find the way out without knowing the way in. A god or an intelligent man, woman, or third sex have designed the factory to open up the doors so that all people can talk and trade. I know, the factory is older than the recent stars. There is only one factory. Your world has a door just as the rest of the worlds each have one door. I know that you have questions. I am not sure my answers will be all the information that you need.”

Mary said, “Did you say that there is only one factory in the universe?” The little green man said, “That right.” I said, “The factory is not constrained by the speed of light. It had to be instantaneous.” The little green man said, “Very good, I didn’t think of that.”

A door opened four rows over and five rows up. We felt dizzy and the walls were gypsum and floor was a different shade of granite. We saw a woman right next to our door. She said, “I am your friend. Very well spoken. What have you got to trade?” 

The woman was five feet and six inches tall. She was dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. She was pinkish colored (like us), her hair was brown, her eyes were blue and she was about 110 pounds. I guessed that her age was 50 years old. My wife, Mary, said, “Who are you? Where are you from? My name is Mary, my husband’s name is William and the man is Major. We are from Earth and the man is from Lolly. We are visiting here. We didn’t know it was a place to trade.”

The woman said, “My planet is Tarre. My name is Shar. I know Major. We traded. I would like to know what you have to trade. Maybe you can trade knowledge, or songs, or writing. I have to know."

The little green man, Major, said, “Yes, I would like to know if you have anything to trade. I have knowledge of my planet.” I said, “My wife was a geologist. I was a chemist. My wife knows a lot of songs. But first, I would like to know what happened to Doctor Steven Tufts. He is missing.”

Shar and Major stared into each other eyes while standing eighty feet apart. Shar said, “Oh, the planet Earth. I know him as Steven Tufts. The Doctor is not there. He passed through a door to your planet and he let go of the door while at the some time somebody else came through his door. He was lost, in the many doors of planets he didn’t know what door to choose. Steven was confused and he went through a door not of your planet. He disappeared about fifteen years ago.”  

Major said, “I liked that man. He taught us math. I think he disappeared about a half year ago, not fifteen years.”

I said, “We are sorry to hear about Steven Tufts.  I thought he could tell the lamps apart. Each door has a different lamp over it. The lamp over our door has a switch that is up and down, up is on and down is off. The lamp has a single tungsten light and the base is made of white plastic and the screw top is made from brown plastic. The lamp is made up from black steel and the lamp shade is made of clear glass.

Now, Shar came from a very little star, like a yellow dwarf star, while Major came from a large star, like blue giant star. Shar is about the some size as us which makes her experience gravity on her planet the same as she does on Earth. and the Major is a very small man with a slight build and small bones, too. I think he was from one-half gravity planet. You can know how large the star is by dividing your planet and the star chromosphere. Everybody knows that.”

Shar said, “You can tell that from a minor fact. I came from a yellow star. I thought that everybody came from a yellow star.”

Major said, “You can tell us apart by simply looking at us. I came from a blue star and I was raised on a planet that is a great deal different from your planet. Steven could not tell us apart. Mary, can you tell us apart?"

Mary said, “I listened to my husband and I can tell you apart. You have green skin and Shar has pinkish skin. You are very little and your bones are little, too. Shar is my size. You said Steven disappeared a half year ago while Shar said he disappeared fifteen years ago. Yes, I can tell you apart. We had better get moving and tell our vice-president at our bank to put somebody in charge of the factory. Come on, William.”

We left through our door and stood outside of the house or factory to be sure that nobody had followed us. I said, “We were lucky.” We left the property and went to our bank.