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.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Poet, Warrior,
Philosopher, Priest.

World Maker
Dream Hunter
Nightmare's Scribe

Weaver of Shadows,
Sculptor of Lights.

by Michael R. Lockridge

This was a poem I wrote some years ago to (at least in part) describe myself and my relationship to writing. I pulled out the Nightmare's Scribe to title one of my short stories. That story follows this entry. I thought I would put it up here to provide some context for the story.

That, and because I like it.

Nightmare's Scribe-

Nightmare's Scribe

a short story by Michael R. Lockridge

Tyler Jenkins carried the hot tea pot with care. Once he was out on the front porch he placed it on the small dining table he kept there for evening meals on nice days. This was a particularly nice day. A few fluffy clouds in a deep blue sky, his nicely trimmed yard before him. Tyler sat down at the table and poured himself a cup of tea.

It was Oolong, one of his favorites. Tonight he had ordered Chinese. Tyler was savoring the aroma of his tea when the delivery van stopped at his curb. A young man got out and carried a white bag up to the porch steps. Tyler removed his wallet from his pants pocket and extracted the requisite number of bills to cover the cost of his dinner and a nice tip.

"Enjoy your meal, Mr. Jenkins." said the young man. "I am a big fan of your writing, Mr. Jenkins."

Tyler nodded in acknowledgment and began setting his dinner out on the porch table. The young man remained, which did not surprise Tyler. His horror novels had not become best sellers, but he was making a name for himself in the genre. The nominal fame he had acquired had not yet become troublesome, and he did not mind the moments of awkward adulation.

"Do you live here for inspiration?" asked the young man. He was looking past the house to the large fenced facility beyond. The small yard surrounding the house actually was encompassed by that fence on three sides. It was the only house on the same side of the street as the state mental institution at which the young man was gazing.

"In a manner of speaking." answered Tyler. He stood by his table and sipped at his tea. The food was still quite hot and he could afford a few minutes for this young fan.

"Kind of weird how this house is almost part of the nut house." said the delivery man. "I would think it would give you nightmares."

"It was in that hope that I bought it." said Tyler. "When the mental institution was being built the owner of this little Victorian gem would not sell. They had to build their fence around the place. It did keep the property value down, and I bought it from that owner's estate several years ago."

The delivery man nodded, and then turned and walked to his vehicle. "Enjoy your meal, Mr. Jenkins. I hope you have some wonderful nightmares!" He waved as he got into his vehicle and drove away.

Tyler did enjoy the meal. He gathered the empty boxes and the delivery bag and carried them to the trash can at the side of his house. He looked through the fence and watched as light after light went out in windows in the institution next door. It was almost time.

He picked up the tea pot and his cup from the porch table as he went into the house. He rinsed them and set them on the drying rack. He then went into the room at the back of the house that was nearest to the main institution building.

Tyler turned on his computer. While it went through the start up routines he selected several crystals from a large collection on the shelf behind his writing chair. This was done intuitively. Finding the right stone was a very subjective activity. One by one he touched the stones. Some he held for a moment. Some were rejected at the first touch. Tonight he found three that felt right.

He placed the crystals in a bag and hung the bag around his neck. Yes, they felt right! Tyler sat down in his writing chair and opened a document on the computer. Then he just sat and waited.

Soon the deep anguish of some poor soul in the institution touched Tyler deep in the heart of his being. He felt the tendrils of other hearts and minds touch him, and he welcomed them. Memories not his own, real or delusional, flooded him. One moment he was laughing, the next sobbing uncontrollably. Then he reached out with both hands and found the keyboard.

Tonight he wrote for three and one half hours. Then the waves of agony and ecstasy abated, fading to vague memories of memories. Tyler saved the document without reading any of it and shut down the machine. Tomorrow morning would be the time to read and edit. Tomorrow he would work the nightmares he had captured into stories to be shared with the world.

Tyler carefully put away his crystals.

It had been draining. Tyler went to the bathroom and took a shower. Soon he was ready for bed.

As he drifted off to sleep he wondered who might capture his own dreams.

"Who eats the sins of the sin eater?" he mumbled as sleep engulfed him. Vaguely he recognized that the answer might make a good story. Perhaps, but a story for another day.

Tyler slept soundly. He never heard the chorus of screams that arose from the institution next door whenever he went to sleep. For all he knew, his sleep was always dreamless.

His neighbors might be inclined to disagree.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is A Quarter Too Much To Ask? -

Bob Jenkins dug into the left front pocket of his best dress pants. He dug with little hope, but the guy juggling on the street corner really deserved something for his efforts. The guy was good. As a long time amateur juggler Bob knew how much work went into the seemingly simple routine.

The sign at the feet of the juggler read: Is A Quarter Too Much To Ask?

Bob didn't think it was too much to ask, but he doubted that he had a quarter. He largely used his cards, these days.

"Oh, got something." he said. Bob pulled a quarter from the pocket he had thought empty. He dropped it in the basket next to the sign.

He watched a little longer, and then continued down the sidewalk. He had a job interview in about a half hour, and wanted to get to the place on time. He was not yet in dire straits, but he needed to find some income soon.

As he walked along he put his hand in the pocket from which he had retrieved the quarter. He found another one.

"I could have sworn I had no change in these pants." he said, bringing forth the shining coin. If it weren't so far back he would have given this one to the juggler, as well. He looked back down the street, but the juggler was no longer in sight.

Turning back toward his destination Bob continued his walk. Just as he approached the place he was to have the interview he spotted the juggler plying his trade on the sidewalk near the entrance.

Bob absently dropped the quarter into the juggler's basket. He was musing on the juggler and the quarters well into the interview, which did not go particularly well as a result. Coming out of the building Bob resolved to confront the juggler. He at least wanted to find out how the guy had gotten ahead of him on the street.

The juggler was nowhere in sight. Bob checked his pocket again, and found another quarter. He had pulled seven quarters from his pocket by the time he was convinced something very strange was going on in his pants. Pull a quarter, and the pocket is empty. Put hand in pocket, find quarter.

Bob had a vague recollection of a very old story about a man wearing a bear skin that seemed somehow similar to this strange event, but could not recall enough for it to be of any use. Bob pulled out another quarter and then stopped into a quickie mart to pick up a hot dog and soda.

He sat on the sidewalk and ate his meal, thinking about quarters and pants and men wearing bear skins. Bob resolved to go home.

At home he began pulling quarters from his pocket, stacking them in dollar stacks on the table. One. Two. Three. Four. A dollar. He did this for two hours. He had produced nearly a thousand dollars in that time. A thousand dollars, all in quarters, sitting on his table.

Bob looked at the shiny piles, and guessed that he had enough to test this new situation. He was afraid to remove the pants he was wearing, thinking he would break the spell. Did he want to live in the same pants, never taking them off? That wouldn't work, and he could already detect some wear around the pocket from constantly putting his hand in for another quarter.

He changed pants. He added another three hundred dollars to the stack while testing every pair of pants he owned. Finally he had enough. The pile of quarters was going to be difficult to move to the bank to change it into something more portable. He didn't want to do the quarter trick anymore. He was tired.

He ate a small meal, put on his pajamas and went to bed. He made sure that his pajamas did not have any pockets in them. He was tired of pockets.

In the morning he went out to the table, planning to find a box or bag to carry his quarters in and take them to the bank. The quarters were gone! He grabbed up one of the pairs of pants he had tested the night before and rummaged in the pockets. Nothing!

He quickly put on the pants and put his hand in the pocket. Bob sighed with relief. He pulled out a quarter. He had several dollars stacked on the table before he realized that it would make more sense to do this at the bank. That way he wouldn't have to carry all of the quarters.

Bob spent several hours at the bank, standing at a side table producing and rolling quarters. He had almost fifteen hundred dollars worth of quarters rolled by the time he felt he could do no more. He converted them into a savings account and some pocket cash and left the bank.

He dined in a fine restaurant that evening, mulling over his new wealth. He figured he could have enough to pay the rent and buy a new car if he spent the rest of the month doing as he had done today. Finished with the meal he wandered home, excited by his new prospects.

The following day Bob went to the same bank, produced quarters at an obscure side table and rolled them. He just did a few hundred dollars before he wanted to go to lunch. There was a nice restaurant he wanted to try but had never had the money before.

When he tried to put the money in his savings he discovered that there was no record of the previous day's transaction. His money was gone, as if it had never existed! The clerks and the assistant manager investigated, but there was no record of his money from the previous day. For a time Bob was irate, but over time he recalled the piles of quarters that disappeared from his table.

He thanked the tellers, apologizing for his error. He told them it must have been another bank, and that he had become confused.

Once outside, Bob sighed a great sigh. "The money won't last into the next day!" he said out loud.

Still, he had enough to try that great restaurant. Lunch was fantastic! He couldn't recall enjoying a meal quite so much. After the meal he sat over his coffee and thought about his new fortune.

"Though I have money for nothing, I am not a wealthy man." Bob mused. "I can easily take care of my daily needs, but cannot accumulate enough for big purchases. This is going to require a lot of thought."

The next day Bob went to the bank and worked long enough to have several thousand dollars in his pocket. He went out and bought a used van. He took care of all of the details that day, getting license and registration and insurance all taken care of with his cash. He drove the vehicle back to his apartment and parked it in his parking space. He had not used that space before. It looked strange, having a car there.

Bob had a simple meal that evening. He watched a little television, and then went to bed. He slept fitfully, and awoke early. He looked out the window.

The van was still there.

Over the next few weeks he spent part of each day at the bank, getting together enough cash for the day. He got the van running well, and began to outfit it to live in. It was a cargo van, one that would blend in anywhere. He figured he could live in it, parking wherever he could for those nights he didn't want to use a motel or a campground.

Motels and campgrounds would easily fit within the limits of the money he could produce in any given day.

Bob let the landlord know he would not be renewing his lease. He was moving out, hitting the road. He figured the income from his pockets would be enough to cover the day to day expenses of a mobile lifestyle. He wanted to travel, and now he could.

No more job interviews! No rent! The whole world was waiting!

On the day he was ready to leave on his fabulous journey, Bob stopped by the bank to produce some quarters and convert them into some more ready cash. When he came out he started to pass by a young lady holding a sign.

Is A Quarter Too Much To Ask? read the sign. Bob stopped and dropped a quarter in the hat at her feet, and added a five dollar bill. She smiled in thanks, and Bob gave her a wink.

As he got into his well used van and started the engine, he resolved to give away some of his wealth. As long as he was thinking small, thinking day by day, the quarters he could produce would be more than enough. He could afford to share with those in need who might cross his path.

He put the van in gear and pointed it toward the horizon. A whole new life awaited him. He planned to live it a quarter at a time.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Like a Virgin-

Chet Atwood loved virgins. He was obsessed with them. He hunted them in his youth, and was quite successful in seduction. He gathered photos and biographical information on his conquests, and built quite a library on his little hobby.

It all went well until he finished college. Access to virgins was better in high school, but not too bad in college. Out in the real world, the world of business and adult recreation, virgins began to be in short supply.

Hunting at high schools was out. Chet wanted to dominate his quarry. He did not want to be dominated by some convict after being sent to prison for molesting children.

College would have to do. So, he adjusted his career plans to allow him to work in the field in which he wished to hunt. Junior professor, and then full professor. Romantic poetry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

His hunting went well into his early thirties. His library of conquests was vast. To protect himself he stored the information in a self-storage facility. The account was in another name, and paid always in cash. Chet wasn't stupid. He was a professor, after all.

In his mid-thirties he began to find the freshest fish were no longer interested in him. He was just too old. It was time to change the game. Chet began studying pornographic videos and visiting emporiums that catered to alternative lifestyles. Extreme alternative lifestyles.

Bondage and domination became his new thing. Not just bondage and domination of women who were into that sort of thing. He became a master of introducing women to this new realm of experience.

They may not have been virgins in fact, but in the ways of bondage and domination they were virginal enough to suit Chet's particular needs. More than a few of his inductees found their ways deeper into the sub-culture. Tattoos, scaring, multiple piercings and the like became the passion of some of Chet's conquests.

That, of course, was long after he had cast them off. He wanted virgins, and so was always seeking innocents.

That is how he found her. A new research librarian in the college library. New enough to not have picked up on the underground opinions about Professor Atwood. He was always careful, but even the greatest care cannot stop the rumors from flowing. Chet had to work fast.

He approached her first regarding a real research problem with which he was dealing. She really did help a great deal, and Chet made it clear that he appreciated her efforts. A few more projects and he was ready to ask her out.

First was dinner. Then dinner and a movie. She really was an innocent, though she succumbed to his charms readily enough to share his bed on the fourth date. Then he suggested a weekend at his cabin.

He introduced her to some light bondage and playful spankings. She responded well. Slowly he edged her from her comfort zone, and she came along. He planned to push her as he had done all of his conquests. Push her to the point she would finally reject him. Most didn't take long. By then they were far from virginal, and he was ready to let them go.

Chet was surprised when she sent him something in the mail. He opened the large envelope and found several photos of her in leather dominatrix garb. "Come to me." said the little note.

He called. She said she was waiting. It was his turn for a spanking, and maybe a little more. Chet found it exciting, and was quickly on the road to her place. He had not been there before, but Google had given adequate directions and in no time he found the place.

Gothic. An old Victorian painted and decorated to be deeply Gothic. Not at all what he had expected from his little librarian. He rang the bell. She opened the door. He leather glistened and Chet felt several things at once. He felt desire. What man wouldn't? He felt a loss of control. He felt just a touch of fear. This last feeling drove the desire through the roof, and he went in.

Soon it was Chet who was bound. Leather and chains. Riding crops and a playful cat-o'-nine-tails. He could not move, she was in control, and Chet was still not sure whether he liked it or not. He began to sweat when she held up something thick made of glass. He might have screamed, if not for the ball-gag in his mouth.

Her expression changed. Up until then she had been smiling and playful. Now that dropped away. She looked at him coldly, as if looking at a dead fish in her bed. Then she turned and went to a closet door. She opened the door and stepped back.

Through the door came two robed figures. They were stooped and moved strangely. At the sight of them Chet tried to scream. The ball-gag held in the sound. Chet struggled but was already heavily bound. They began to unhitch him from the bed, but left most of the bindings in place.

A third creature came through the door that she had opened. Tall, seemingly human but obviously not human at all. It handed her a satchel, which she opened immediately. She hugged the satchel to her breasts as she withdrew from it a vial. Quickly she popped the top off of the vial and downed the contents. An addicts joy flashed across her face.

She glanced once at the former professor being removed from her bed, and left the room. She hugged the satchel as if it were her very life. Perhaps it was.

The tall creature gestured toward the door. It turned and passed through the opening. Chet's robed porters hauled his bound body from the bed and followed. Chet felt like he was being turned inside out as they passed through that doorway.

In that instance he visualized an infinite series of universes joined here and there at minute binding points. He realized that they were passing through one of those points at that very moment.

Down a dank hallway they hauled him. Into a poorly lit room. He was hung upon a hook on one wall, still bound. One of his bearers ripped the ball-gag from his mouth. Chet caught a glimpse of the inhuman face and began to scream. There was no gag to stop the sound. He screamed again, and again.

Perhaps he is still screaming. With an infinity of universes filled with an infinity of possibilities, who might know?