New Voices 002
Ghost Exterminators Inc. Two Ghost's Salvation 01-04
By J. R. Kruze The Autists Excerpt from 'When Fireballs Collide':
AND THERE CAME ANOTHER one. BAM! Right against the car we were crouched behind. We were stuck behind a red subcompact, a recent American model. Here at the Los Angeles Observatory parking lot. The night was clear, a very rare occurrence, very unusual for this city of smoke and fog. The stars above mirroring the endless street and building lights that marched out to their California coast. But a clear sky didn't help our situation any. Getting pummeled by red-orange fireballs behind this car couldn't last forever. Especially since they smell of sulfur like a whole case of rotten eggs being broken at once. Big, really huge fireballs had been coming at us for something like 15 minutes. Heat and stench. Coming one right after the last one. The red car was shaking like it would never stop. It was going to need a paint job after this. If they could stand the smell to get it into the shop. Jude and Sal were there with me. Hunkered down like I was. At least I was in my blue jeans and work boots, gray sweatshirt. Sal was in her regular tailored beige suit with gold pinstripes, low-heeled dress shoes. An outfit more ideal for turning heads on Rodeo Drive instead of crouching on dirty asphalt and gravel in a remote parking lot. Jude was at least better off in her black jeans and a tailored black leather jacket, with her clunky black Timberland boots. (OK, she likes black. And looks good in it.) Admiring these two beauties wasn't helping to get us out of this. 'Hey, can't we just teleport out of here?' I asked, behind my sweatshirt sleeve covering my nose.. 'If we were able to concentrate. Not when they are coming a few seconds apart,' said Sal. 'And it's all I can do just to keep this car in one piece,' said Jude. 'Wait, that explains how there was suddenly this car appearing on an empty parking lot.' I replied. 'Just keep it quiet, so I can keep on keeping it there, in between those fireballs and us,' said Jude. 'With that noise, I'm surprised we can think at all,' I added. 'Wait. That's it! It's how we are thinking...' Sal said. At that, Sal suddenly stood straight up and walked out away from the red car. She shouted out, 'Hey - you. Fireball Guy. Yeah, that's you. Is that all you got? Really?' And the fireballs started coming right at her - all in a row and streaming right at her, twice as many than were coming at us before. But Sal just stood there. And the fireballs passed right through her. She flinched at the first ones, but after a few of them she just stood there. Straight, tall, defiant. And started laughing. Complete glee. I thought she'd lost it. But her actions gave Jude enough time to disappear the car and get us out of there. The scene shimmered, like usual. Fireballs, parking lot, all it just disappeared...
New Voices 002
B Y S. H. MARPEL
W ELCOME TO THE WORLD of John Earl Stark. A wonder-filled world. Seriously.
It was another gloomy night and there I was, out on the pasture with dungarees stuffed into mudboots, arms and chest inside my chore jacket, and head covered by ball cap. Somewhere there had been a calf bawling and wouldn't shut up enough to let me sleep. The tall grass and brush was making my walk tough. A stumble now and then. At least my feet were staying dry and warm. But the odd tree branch would catch my hat or whip my face from out of the dark.
I didn't like tending cattle in the dark, but I'd forgotten any flashlight. My cedar staff in one of my leather-gloved hands was helping me find my way. The other was out in front to find those tree branches.
A thick root caught my boot, and my staff only helped slow my fall instead of keeping any balance.
Landing with my other hand out, and rolling to my shoulder kept my face out of the muddy ground. Knees were soaked through from cold mud instantly. And I was on my back where my long chore coat at least was keeping my butt and shoulders dry - for now.
So I rolled back over to knees and hands, using the staff to get myself back upright.
And saw the ghost.
Typical lightish form, almost like thick smoke that was holding together somehow.
"OK - who are you and what do you want?" I asked.
And a typical moan came back to me. This one wasn't going to cooperate.
So I spoke again, "Look, you can talk. Use your English."
"Well, you don't have to be snippy." was the reply.
"You saw me in the mud and you know it's cold and wet out here. The only reason I'm out here and not in my warm, dry bed is because of some over-vocal calf. You didn't have something to do with it?"
A short of shrug seemed to take place in that form. Slowly it morphed into something that looked like a body.
"Oh, sorry. Yes, that was me. Hope I didn't cause it too much upset." Another shrug. "But I was told you could help me."
"Me, help you? How about coming during the day time? Maybe in dry weather?" I snipped back.
"Again, my apologies. There just isn't much time." Now the face and body of the ghost showed. A younger girl, wearing a flowered sundress.
"OK, back up. Tell me your name and we'll see."
"I'm Amanda, or was. And I have to figure something out before they come and get me." A tremble in her voice told her fear of whoever they were.
"Amanda, relax a bit. Focus on what you have to figure out. What can you tell me about it?"
"I don't know if he loves me..." Her hands went up to her face and she started sobbing.
Not knowing how to console a ghost physically, I was forced to use my wits.
"Amanda. Listen to me. Focus on my voice. You're here in the woods near a cow pasture. I'm here with you." She quit sobbing and wiped the tears from her face, and sniffed.
"That's a good girl. Now, you love someone and want to figure out if he still loves you, right?"
She nodded, her hands clasped in front of her chin, fingers interlocked.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
"We were walking. I'd been writing in my diary and he surprised me. So we were walking back to the village. We stopped on a bridge over a creek. He got curious about the diary and tried to grab it from me. He finally got it and when I tried to get it back, I lost my balance and fell off the bridge." She then started sobbing again, head in hands.
"Amanda. Look at me. There you go. Now, what can you recall after that?"
"I was looking down at my body in the creek and he had run down the bank to get it out of there, and then pulled it over to the bank and tried to push the water out of its lungs. But then he saw the blood on the b