It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 5

Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?
Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning

Chapter 5: The Yellow House Again

“So why did you bring Sam’s electro-acoustic transducer?” asked Pumpkin, as soon as they were well out of the small throng of annoying people the world has the graciousness to call “reporters.” 

Johnnie pulled her eyes violently down in an attempt not to roll them. “It’s a phone; just say phone. We can stop talking code now.”

Pumpkin shrugged. “I’m not the one who thought using three words instead of one was a good code. But anyway you know Sam gets mad if anybody answers his phone calls.”

“Well, I needed it,” Johnnie explained. “Tradam’s going to send him a picture of Mr. Semmes – and we may as well do something as not.”

“Like look at it?” 

Johnnie nodded. “Might as well have as much fun as we can while Sam’s stuck in the parking lot,” said Johnnie to herself, grinning. “You don’t happen to know his password?” she added aloud. 

“Oh no,” replied Pumpkin, quickly. “He doesn’t have a password, he uses one of those fingerprint things.”

Johnnie looked at the phone in sudden horror, and as she looked at it in horror she exclaimed, “Dash it! then we won’t possibly be able to break into it. Oh bother it all, now we have to go back. Oh bother!”

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 5

It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 4

Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam
Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?

Chapter 4: Tradam’s Warning

After Johnnie had hollered through the keyhole for a solid five minutes, the secretary came in. 

“Shall I show you the way out of the building?” she asked politely, as she led them all out into the hall. “The nearest exit is right over here,” she added, pulling Rosy – who was walking in the wrong direction – back by her hoodie. 

(“Dear me, she’s distressingly anticlimactic,” thought Johnnie dolefully to herself. “I was just starting to feel like a real heroine too!”) 

Johnnie had just said this to herself when, turning round a sudden corner of the building they bumped unexpectedly and violently into a cup of coffee (and Mr. Tradam as well).  

Continue reading It Was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 4

It was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 3

Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation
Chapter 2: Sam

Chapter 3: Who Stole the Cookie?

The steel door slid open soundlessly. (I don’t know what steel door it was, but as you don’t either it can’t much matter.)

AV waved his hand over the room and announced carelessly, “Mr. Semmes’s office.” 

(–“And it really made him sound like a footman,” as Johnnie said.) 

There was a rush, a scramble, and a “don’t touch anything!” from Sam to everyone except AV, who was looking on in horror. 

“Is everything okay? Why does it smell like freshly mowed grass?” he asked apprehensively, when Johnnie, Sam, Rosy, and their excitement had subsided a little.

Continue reading It was All Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 3

When I Am Sixty

One day when I was seven years old, I woke up with a strange thought in my head. I wonder if you know what that feels like? To me it felt a little green, and a little old, but still quite fun, sort of like my grandpa. This particular strange thought liked chocolate. I knew because my tummy was telling me it did.            

So I got it some chocolate, and then it went from being just a thought to being something I decided I would do for fun.

I would tell you what it was, but if you are like my sister you probably want to know my name. She can’t read anything, not even something like “It was a bright fine sunset evening” without crying out, “I don’t understand this story! Who is the main character? What’s his name? If he doesn’t have a name than that means he’s not real!” So I will tell you my name, so you know I am real.

My name is Abernathy Benjamin Hanks. I’m American but my daddy is French.  

My mother died in a building. She was building, I mean. It was a barn, I think. She was real smart, so’s my dad, but he didn’t let a barn fall on top of him, so he was still around when I was seven to tell me he was. I was seven once you know, as truly as you were. I can say that because most six year olds can’t read very well, and stopped reading this story when they got to the word particular.

The thought I woke up with when I was seven was pretty simple, like most the thoughts you have at that age are. It didn’t have any reason to be in my head, but it was there anyway. Maybe it was a left-over from one of my dreams.

Continue reading When I Am Sixty

It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 2

Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation

Chapter 2: Sam

It is a loss to the world no doubt, but I can’t tell you anything about how Sam found his way to the WAS highrise office; or how he bumped into Pumpkin and offended that said gentlemen greatly by knocking his ice cream over and not apologizing for it; or how he forgot to make himself look tidy, or about his desperate thoughts about not having any cookies in his pocket; and I can’t tell you any of this for the sincere reason that I really don’t know anything about what happened on his way there, for Sam is a quiet fellow, and he never did tell anyone about it. 

For all I know he lost himself three times, and didn’t bump into Pumpkin at all; or stopped by his grandma’s, and didn’t have any desperate thoughts about cookies. 

Continue reading It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 2

It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 1


Chapter 1: Cookie of Consolation

It was half-past five. The half-past-five train, which has nothing to do with our story, had just heaved into the station; and Johnnie, who was nowhere near the station, had just walked into someone she knew. 

“Why, Sam, old fellow, where did you drop from?” she began with a smile, pulling up her hair into a quick ponytail. 

“You can’t expect me to answer a question like that,” replied Sam, offering her a cookie. 

“Well, at any rate, I do expect you to answer my next question. Is it true that Pumpkin ate three pieces of pickle-and-peanut-butter pie and didn’t leave any for me?” 

“Quite true,” Sam replied, with a melancholy air. “I only got two. Pumpkin’s a horrid fellow.”

Continue reading It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Chapter 1

It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Prologue

The briefcase closed slowly, the pages inside crinkling and crackling like a winter fire, peeping out of their cage like they wanted to let the world know what the dark, threatening black ink on their pages said. 

A hand pushed them gingerly back in, touching them as little as possible, as if it knew that with only a spark they could set the world on fire. 

Mr. Semmes paused, his hand still on the briefcase, and stood looking absentmindedly at the bitten cookie on the refreshment plate that lay on the paper and dust crowded desk. 

He closed his eyes and thought for a moment. 

Was it really that easy to get away with such colossal crime?

How is it that in less than the space of time it takes to finish a good old fashioned homemade cookie, everything can change?

Mr. Semmes found a back exit out of the WAS building, pulled his coat closer, and borrowed a light bender from his Executive Protection Agent, who said in reply to a startled question from Mr. Semmes, “I sent it home an hour ago, sir. My Winton blur detected a DGR device on it. Evidence points to the substitute limousine never making it. You have our apologies, sir. A walk seems quite safe, though it will be a long one, sir.”

Mr. Semmes felt all in a moment that it was too awful to live like this. 

“We’ll walk to the yellow house on 24th St. then,” he remarked, in a depressed voice. “It’s only a few blocks away. Unfrequented streets too, is it good?”

The EPA nodded.

A few days ago, Mr. Semmes would have wound his way along the streets carelessly; would have never glanced backwards; would have never asked his Executive Protection Agent to pace up a bit; would have never been afraid of the dark.

Tonight, the very air had subtly changed; he knew he was being followed, somehow, someway, he knew harm was coming fast, and swift, and sure, and would find him at last. 

Continue reading It was all Pumpkin’s Fault: Prologue

Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 6

1: Welcome to Place
2: Number 877
3: Hiding
4: Cold, Cold Steel
5: Down to this Wire

6: The Last Sunset

Malcolm had made no errors in his calculations, and he knew that rescuing Savannah from her addiction was the easier part of his task.  As a Unit, he could only ignore the code by overriding his core programming.  But though Savannah was cured and he knew it, the code knew no such thing.

Continue reading Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 6

Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 5

1: Welcome to Place
2: Number 877
3: Hiding
4: Cold, Cold Steel

5: Down to This Wire

On the far outskirts of Place was the trash heap.  In Place, most material was recycled—the system was a closed one, with few new raw materials entering—but some years trash production exceeded recycling capacity, and the leftovers ended up on the trash heap.

The heap was an unsorted pile of anything from food wrappers to broken appliances to splintered lightbulbs.  There was even the occasional defunct Unit.  All things considered, the trash heap was an unsightly mess—to most people.

Continue reading Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 5

Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 4

1: Welcome to Place
2: Number 877
3: Hiding

4: Cold, Cold Steel

Savannah grew up—and grew out of hide and seek.  Malcolm, learning as she learned, but not growing as she grew, was always ready to follow her interests, and they were almost inseparable.  But every now and then Savannah said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and would give Malcolm some complicated commission while she roamed through old unused warehouses, empty office buildings, or any out of the way spot in Place she could gain access to.

One afternoon Savannah came back from a ramble and found Place buzzing with excitement.  Knots of people stood on every street corner, whispering.  Savannah, glancing from face to face, caught the curiosity tinged with horror and stopped in front of her apartment building, lending an ear to the gossip.

“They said it was a bloody mess,” a neighbor was saying.  “His hand was chopped clean off at the wrist and he bled to death.”

Continue reading Malcolm Defroster: Chapter 4