You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, a fantasy adventure novel available at Barnes and Noble Online.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Warren Povich had been thinking about his reset button. Now, everyone in the year 2187 did not have a reset button. Only about a dozen, if the information Warren had was accurate. It might be possible that the Temporal Research Institute was just feeding him some bullshit when he became part of the program. The only way to find out would be to push the button.

Warren was a sales technician. It was not much of a job when he took it, and not much of a job now. He was facing an inadequate retirement, if he hoped to make up for the sacrifices he had made for his family. Warren did not really regret his life, but he did sometimes wonder what it might have been like to do it again. Differently.

He had joined the Temporal Research Institute while still in college. They needed test subjects. He got some money for school by letting them wire his brain and do silly experiments.

At least, he thought they were silly. He couldn’t ever remember them clearly. Those memories were like the tail end of dreams that fade upon waking.

Apparently they thought he was a good subject. They offered him the reset button. Just like in a computer game or multidimensional experience theater production. He laughed quietly to himself at those analogies mentioned when he was so young. Still, the analogy held, even if technologies have moved far along other paths.

Warren ordered a cup of tea from his kitchen, and took the steaming cup with him out onto his deck. Humble housing, but still a good view. He always enjoyed it in light of his grandfather’s recollections of the last days of urban crowding and the last of the era of polluted air. Technology and government had matured over that time, and the populations had been dispersed to better suit the needs of the earth and all who lived upon it.

Idyllic, but boring. He reflected on a very good life. His wife and kids had provided enough positive feedback to counteract the tedium of his job and a life with few prospects beyond safety and comfort. Yet, at any juncture that might offer a decision to follow adventure and danger, he had opted for safety and security.

He sipped at his tea, and accepted its predictable goodness. When he had realized that the reset button that the Institute had given him provided a license for all sorts of misadventures, he surprised himself by adopting a very conservative approach to living his life.

He still surprised himself. It might well be time.

Leaving his tea, he went to the closet in his bedroom. Moving a few items, he was able to reach the door to a small safe. He pressed his thumb to the lock, and the door opened. Warren extracted a small item that looked like a common remote.

It was a small instrument, of some form of plastic. A place to put his right thumb on one side, and a similar place for his left thumb on the other. It was intentionally awkward to hold while activating. The experiment required that the initiation of a reset must be intentional. That was also why the unit included voice recognition.

Warren held the object carefully by its edges, and intoned, “There’s no place like home.” A silly password, but it had seemed both amusing and appropriate in that long ago time when the experiment was fresh and new. With his thumbs so far from the reading surfaces, there was no danger of a reset.

He took the object with him, this button that held an entirely different future for him. He carried it with him as he returned to the porch. He took up his tea, and sipped at it. Still warm. Everything in Warren’s world was designed to serve him. The cup would not let the tea grow cold.

Warren thought about his wife. How they had grown apart, but complacently so. He thought about his children, who had lives of their own. He thought about his grandchildren, who loved him just as vaguely as he loved them.

As he thought, he placed the plastic object between his hands. Thumbs found their ways to the reading surface. There was no change in the device, but he knew that it awaited the voice code. It felt anxious in his hands.

Warren faced the setting sun. It was quite near the horizon.

What would happen if he said the words? How would the reset affect the world? He had stood like this, countless times before, and thought these thoughts. How many times might he have done this, already? Was this life the result of multiple resets?

Though many times he had been tempted to do so, he had only made one reset point in all of his years. Just before getting married. Just before starting this long, boring, yet vaguely satisfying life.

Warren watched the sun dip slowly past the horizon. The passage of time presented visually before him. He stood, hands together, thumbs on the plate. Darkness grew around him.

Between past and future, Warren stood.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Diet

The Diet

A short story by Michael R. Lockridge

“Hello?” Inquired Adriana Loomis, as she opened the door of the little shop. “Hello? Anyone here?”

The room was dark, and draped with tapestries. Mystical. Medieval. Exciting.


She stood near the center of the small room. It contained two chairs, neither of which looked capable of carrying her substantial personage. She had passed petit in her youth, dallied with curvaceous for a season, and spent many years as big boned. At this point in her life she was corpulent, on a good day. On bad days she was as big as a house.

“Hello? I am here about the diet.” Adriana said, waving around a piece she had torn out of a newspaper. There seemed to be nobody to see it as she waved it about, so she stopped. It drooped in her hand.

“One moment.” Said a voice from behind one of the tapestries.

She waited.

The tapestry was pushed aside, and a surprisingly young man stepped into the room.

“Are you really a Gypsy fortune teller?” Adriana asked. He seemed so young.

“Romani.” He said. “I am of the Romani people. I tell fortunes. I read cards. I read palms. You mentioned the diet?”

“Yes. Your advertisement says, ‘Lose a pound a day for the rest of your life.’ You can do this?” She asked.

“I can, if you are sure it is what you want.” Said the young man.

“I have tried everything. Oh, please. Can you help?” Cried Adriana.

“You have the money?” He asked.

Adriana extracted a large roll of bills from her purse. She handed it to the young man. He glanced at it, and put it in his pocket.

“You didn’t count it.” She said.

“I am a fortune teller. It is correct.” He said. “You are very sure of this?”

“Yes.” She moaned. “Please.”

The young man reached up and brushed her face with the back of his hand. He leaned close to Adriana’s ear.

“Thinner.” He whispered.

He stepped back. “It is done. A pound a day, for the rest of your life.”

Adriana was incredulous. “That’s it?” She asked.

“It will work.” He said. “I learned it from my grandfather. It worked for him, and his fathers before him.”

“I…..believe you.” Said Adriana. She turned to go.

“One more thing.” He said.

She turned back. He was holding out a business card. She took it, and looked at it.

“My sister’s bakery.” He said. “If you change your mind, talk to her. Ask for the strawberry pie. It was my grandfather’s favorite.”

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Everything You Need

Everything You Need

A short story by Michael R. Lockridge

“What is it?” asked Tommy. He held the old canvas bag up and looked at it. He gave it a sniff, and was pleased that it did not smell as musty as it looked. It smelled old, and somehow smelled a bit like the sea. It looked to be about three feet long, about two feet in diameter, and it had a braided chord drawstring.

“It is a family heirloom.” Said his father. “Look inside.”

The request seemed silly. The bag was empty. Tommy pulled the mouth of the bag open, and reached inside. He touched something. Tommy almost dropped the bag. He gripped the object, and pulled it out of the bag.

“A book.” He said. “An old book. Leather.”

“The letters on the cover stand for Thomas James Morse. Your great, great grandfather.”

Tommy turned the book in his hands.

“Dad, the bag was empty.” Tommy said.

“Yes.” Said his father. He left the room and closed the door.

Tommy came into the kitchen to get a glass of milk. His father was sitting at the table, reading the paper. He folded his paper, and set it down next to his coffee.

“Dad, why aren’t we rich?” Tommy asked.

“You have been reading the journal?” his father asked.

Tommy nodded, and sat down. He put his glass on the table, and waited for his answer.

“What part did you read?” asked his dad.

“Thomas Morse was lost at sea. His ship broke up on a reef near an island.” Tommy related.

His father nodded, and encouraged him to go on.

“There was a seagull feather stuck between the pages at that part. That’s why I started reading there.” Said Tommy. “He grabbed the bag as the ship broke up. He made it to shore.”

His father took a sip of coffee, and waited for Tommy to go on.

“When he made it to shore, he opened the bag. Inside were this journal, a pen and ink. There were also a hatchet, a knife, some string, a small pan, and a box containing tinder and flint.”

“Everything he needed.” His father said, quietly.

“But Dad, the bag could have given him food and stuff.” Tommy said.

“What did he do with the things he got?” Asked his father.

“Built a fire to get warm and dry.” Answered Tommy. “He then was able to make a shelter. He made snares and fishing spears. He was able to stay alive for months, until a ship finally picked him up.”

His father nodded.

“He could have been rich!” Tommy blurted out. “We could be rich, with a bag like this!”

His father just looked at Tommy.

“Where did it come from?” Asked Tommy. “It’s just too weird.”

“I don’t know. We have Thomas’ journal, but he never relates just where the bag came from. He may not have learned to write before he got it. He was a man of the sea, traveling far. Some far off port, I have always imagined.”

Tommy thought for a while.

“It doesn’t give you what you want, does it?” Asked Tommy. “That’s why we aren’t rich, isn’t it?”

“No Tommy. It just gives you everything you need.” His father said, quietly.

“Everything you need.” Tommy thought out loud.

His father nodded, looking a bit sad.

“Everything you need.” He repeated. “Use it carefully, Tommy.”

Tommy nodded. He got up and went to his room. He looked at the bag for a long time. He then picked it up, and folded it carefully. He found a dark place, deep in his closet. He put the bag there, and then closed the door.

“Everything you need.” He repeated, and walked away.