Wag, Not a Dog

Several years ago, I wrote a short story for a British anthology. Most of you never saw it. That’s okay. The book was full of stories even I didn’t like (and couldn’t read), but I still enjoy mine. 🙂 As the rights are now mine again, the entire thing will be posted here, complete. It runs around fourteen pages, so pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, or a glass of wine, and settle in.

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Wag sat in a windowless room all day, every day, creating computer viruses for his boss, the owner of a company that marketed a popular antivirus program used by easily half the PC owners in the country. The owner had a nice enough name, but Wag called him Big Evil Boss, (i.e., Bob). Not to his face, of course. That wouldn’t have been prudent, as jobs like this were hard to find unless you wanted to enlist in the Anonymous corps of worldwide hackers, and Wag enjoyed his paycheck too much to do that.

The Tardis Tornado that had swept the Internet six months ago? Wag had created that. He’d thought it was hilarious having the Doctor stick his head out of a blue police box every single time an exe file was run. The spoken words “Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan!” added a nice touch. Bob had sold a shit ton of programs, even as the nasty cleverness of the virus was admired online for weeks. Wag’s bonus had been substantial. He’d bought himself a new couch, though he was seldom home enough to enjoy it. His life was code, and he was damn good at it.

The morning everything changed, he was at his station, tapping away on the keyboard while acid rock blasted through his earbuds, when Bob opened the door and came in. Accustomed to the way Wag zoned out on music while he worked, Bob waved his hands wildly until he got his employee’s attention.

He removed the buds. “What’s up?”

“We hired someone and need to put him in here until we get another space ready. Is that okay?”

Like it wouldn’t be? No one tells the boss “No, won’t have it, can’t do it.” There’d been an extra desk in his office since he started, shoved up against the back of his.

“No problem,” he said dutifully.

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News and a couple of pics

Last year, in December of 2020, I braved COVID and had the cataract removed from my right eye. The surgery was a success. I went from not being able to see birds in trees to seeing things far away. As a photographer, that was important to me. To this day, I can spot the movement of the leaves and anything hiding in them, and I love it.

Yesterday, about a year later, I had the cataract in the left eye removed while still braving COVID. The surgery was unremarkable, and I went home, where it felt like someone had put glass under the eyelid. 😉 If you’ve never had it done, expect this. It’s common to feel like someone is sticking a pick in your eye. Swallow a painkiller and wait it out; it gets better quickly.

My eye doc wanted to see me first thing the next morning, so yesterday, I was up early for the drive from Avon Park to Lake Placid. I was somewhat concerned about it, as that eye was still blurry even wearing my glasses, but that paled in comparison when I realized the area was blanketed in a thick fog.

Wonderful! Blurry “new” eye and can’t see anything farther than a car’s distance away. I soldiered on, and it was just as shitty on the highway as it had been in my driveway. People were driving more carefully than ever though, and I had warning about red stoplights ahead as I crept through Sebring because I could see the brake lights of stopped cars if I squinted through the windshield and stayed alert. Nerve-wracking drive! Sheesh.

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Well, it’s Christmas

I won’t be going anywhere this weekend. Omicron is spreading like wildfire, and even though I just got another shot (which takes two weeks to attain full effectiveness), nowhere feels safe to me anymore. That pisses me off, and I’ll tell you why.

When I was in my teens and twenties, I suffered from agoraphobia. That’s “fear of open spaces,” but what it really means is you’re terrified of going anywhere. I managed to work full time, take the bus both ways (I lived in Minneapolis then), and very occasionally go somewhere fun, but I almost never ventured into new places, and when I did I was a nervous wreck.

In my thirties, panics attacks added to my misery, and they were nasty. I remember having one at work, in the midst of a presentation during which I spoke through a slideshow to a roomful of people. All I really wanted to do was run screaming from the room. I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t now.

It’s impossible to describe just how awful a panic attack can be to someone who’s never experienced it, but you really do think you’re going to die. There’s no direct threat, you’re probably in a safe, even familiar place, but it hits, and you are going to die.

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Flash Fic: A Different World

We were walking near the beach when we came to a wooden stairs that led to the top of a small, mangy hill. “Where do you think that goes?”

Cory shrugged. “The water?”

“Why not just go around? Wouldn’t be difficult.”

He squinted. “What’s there, at the top?”

“I don’t see anything.”

He put an arm around my shoulders. “Look again.”

“Okay, I see something. It’s like… wavy glass or ripples. Heat shimmer?”

“It’s not that hot, and why would it be in only that one spot?”

A seagull flew overhead, then dipped low to see if we had any food. We didn’t. We were on our way to a friend’s house for lunch and had left early enough to enjoy a walk along the shore before joining him on his fabulous deck, which overlooked the ocean. Disappointed, the seagull left.

Cory pulled on my sleeve. “Let’s go. I’m hungry.”

“You don’t want to check it out?”

“Not particularly. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon.”

“‘Phenomenon.’” I snickered. “Listen to you!”

He buried his face in my neck and nibbled. “You love it when I use big words.”

“Why yes. Yes, I do.” I almost let myself be swayed into a quick and dirty make-out session, but now that I’d seen the wavy sky, my curiosity drove me up the steps. “Be right back.”

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Working hard!

I’ve been editing for several weeks, and I haven’t had much time to get out with the camera. I’ve gotten a few shots almost by accident.

And then there was the Great Jalapeno Overdose, which sidelined me for several days with what I assume is gastritis. I should have known better, but I love their spiciness, and they make food taste better. My stomach did not agree, however. I’ve been in pain for several days, though I’m slowly improving.

This green heron was perched on a branch that stuck out over the water.

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