Found an old notebook from 1992 with some unfinished stories in it.
The first story, dated 10-9-92, is called “Bleeding Universe.” I would have been 27. It begins:
The age of Automatic Teller Machines made Baxter Hoenig’s job as a night teller more dull than it would have been otherwise. No one had come in the bank since six and it was now nine. He had spent the entire time either reading a book or thinking of ways to make his life more enjoyable. There wasn’t much. His nights were ruined by the bank and he couldn’t afford to go to school with the tuition rising like it was. He was stuck.
At nine he locked up and went out into the lighted parking lot to his car, passing a disheveled man making exasperated sounds at the ATM. He didn’t give Baxter so much as a glance.
The parking lot was deserted. There had been a mini-mall sharing it with the bank, but the main store, a shopping center, closed up six months ago. It didn’t take long for all of the satellite stores to fold, as well, all except for the video rental shop. Those always did a brisk business. Baxter supposed he could do worse than the night teller job; he could be working there to midnight at the video place.
He reached his car, a dark blue Sentra, and unlocked the door. The key stuck in the lock for a moment, then went in. Strange, it had never done that before. He unlocked the door, then removed the key to examine it. There was not so much as the tiniest knick [sic] in the metal. The only thing he could figure was that the lock had been tampered with. He thought of getting a car alarm as he opened the door and slid inside.
He pulled out of the driveway onto the busy street, mostly kids illegally cruising on a Friday night. The loud thud of a repetitive beat jarred him along until he turned at the next light, heading toward and through downtown.
As he drove, he noted one of the buildings looked different somehow. It took him a moment to realize it was a different color. It was blue, now it was black. Hadn’t it been blue? Maybe it had been black all along. He drove this way every day, but rarely noticed his surroundings any more. It could have been black for a year and he wouldn’t have noticed.
A tiel [sic] car cut him off. He slammed on the brakes as the car slowed down.
“Idiot,” he mumbled, taking in the license plate number and car make. It was a Nissan Transporter. Funny, he’d never heard of that. He shrugged. They were always coming out with new model names. Besides, he never kept track what car companies were up to.
That’s the first page plus one paragraph. Seems to be a story about slipping into an alternate universe. After twelve handwritten pages, on 10-16-92, it abruptly ends.
That same day, I write half a page. There is no title:
Senator Phillip Wuesthoff said goodbye to the other fourteen Senators and switched off the image projector. None of the Senators had been in the same room, but with the projector, it had appeared that they were. Once the projector was switched off, all fourteen of them vanished. Senator Wuesthoff leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes.
“Father?” came a voice from the door speaker. “May I come in?”
“Open,” he said, using the code word that allowed entry into the conference room. His son, Vincent, walked in as the panel diminished its existence.
“How went the meeting?” Vincent asked.
“The Californians are on the rampage again,” the Senator said. “There’s been a strike at Yreka. Rape, pillage, murder… The Senators voted to use force to quell them.”
“Who are they sending?”
“General Waltis Bernadotti. Against my better wishes. After than blunder at Atascadero, the Senate should have clearly seen his lack of ability in defeating the Califs.”
“He’s Senator Bernadotti’s son, too,” said Vincent, giving the reason the General was chosen for duty.
It ends there. Not sure where that was going. Apparently, I didn’t then, either. The next page was begun 10-19-92, titled “Nuclear Windows.” This one I remember. It had to do with a weapon that created rotating, ever-expanding windows into other universes. In the margin, I wrote “Thx to Mike.” That must have been Mike Callaghan. I worked with him from 1991-1996 when he committed suicide. Not sure what I’m thanking him for. Surely not the story, since he wasn’t a particularly creative individual.
The story begins with California seceding from the union. Yes, they were talking about that even back then. I was living in Sacramento at the time and the story takes place in that area of the state. This story goes on for 54 handwritten pages, ending with the words, “DEAD [underlined twice] IN THE WATER! UNSENSIBLE STORY!!” Most of page 54 is crossed out. Looks like I got frustrated with it on 11-25-92 and quit.
The next story in the notebook is called, “While The Lighthouse Keeper Slept.” The note in the margin reads, “Make this happen in one nite.” Date started, 12-1-92. I’m guessing Thanksgiving spanned the gap between this one and the last.
The main character is Justin, a lighthouse keeper in the first lighthouse to have electric light. He is alone one night and starts seeing and hearing things. He hears a knock on the door, calls down, “Come in,” but no one is there. A delivery man visits and tells him maybe it was his lady friend. Justin tells the man he’s the only one there. Then he finally sees her climbing on the rocks during a storm. There’s another knock on the door, again with no one there. Then Justin dreams he’s the girl. She is confronted by her husband who accuses her of cheating and yanks her out of bed. He forces her into a boat, but she gets away. She spots the lighthouse and runs to it, screaming for help. She pounds on the door, but there’s no answer. Her husband catches up to her and tells her the lighthouse is abandoned. He comes after her with a knife and leaps at her. Justin wakes up and goes to the spot the girl had last been in the dream. He sees her there, her eyes pleading with him. She pointed down at the rocks. He sees a ship coming toward shore, a figure at the helm waving. He tells the man to stop, go back, the rocks, but the man shakes his head and points at the shore. Justin refuses to look and the ship continues on unscathed. Lightning flashes and Justin sees a body floating near the shore. The ghost appears, pleased with her job well done. The cops arrive and the last line reads:
The next day, Justin’s replacement arrived.
This story appears complete, but I don’t think I ever typed it up. It is a little over 11 handwritten pages long, the 2nd to last paragraph crossed out. The ending date is 12-9-92. This is actually a neat little story. I might publish it someday.
The rest of this notebook is blank.
I decided I wanted to become a professional writer when I was nineteen, in 1986. The first thing I can remember writing after that was a short story about a spacebus that had stops with what I thought were science-fiction names. The only stop I remember is Gorbachev. The story had no plot and I think was only a couple of pages, double-spaced. I typed on a Canon electronic typewriter then. There was no saving to disk! I don’t know if I still have that story. The first two novels I wrote (1987-88) were on this typewriter, called “Gallimaufry” and “A New Coast.” I still do have these and they are terrible.
I purchased an Amstrad computer in 1988 the novels I wrote in the years after that are not currently accessible to me. They are on 5 1/4″ floppies in WordPerfect 5.0 format. A particular fantasy novel that I spent a lot of time on got ruined one day when I removed the disk while it was saving. Two sections of the novels were lost. I was so despondent (angry) I never rewrote them. I remember twin girls that together had some kind of magic power, nothing else. I gave up on fantasy early, decided I had nothing new to add to the genre. That goes with vampires, werewolves and zombies. I leave them to other authors and, frankly, I have no interest in the subject.
I have written somewhere between 25-30 novels since 1986. I once had a chronological list of all my books, but no longer. I can’t remember the names of all of them. The number goes up if you count novels I couldn’t quite finish and even more if you count all of the little scraps that never got very far.
A few years ago, I decided to write a novel about a fictional character in ancient Rome. I had been reading Roman fiction and fact for many years and felt I had that world figured out and had some ideas that were interesting. Wrote about 100 pages before I burnt out on it. I had briefly published a short story called “The Kalends of Martius” on Lulu that was a condensed version of the attempted novel. I took it down after a while and it is not currently available.