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Friday, December 16, 2011

Free Short Story: The Last Christmas before the End of the World

The Last Christmas before the End of the World

by Georgevine Moss

There was only one week left for Christmas. Benny swooped up his six year old daughter Grace from the playroom and tricked his teenage son Mark into coming to the basement with promises of letting him have the car for the weekend. Yes, he was that desperate.

Everything was going from bad to worse. Everything he tried to fix at home collapsed in his hands, his work…he didn’t even want to think what was happening at work. Even his wife Annie seemed to be in a rut of bad luck. She had been dieting and exercising for weeks now and the results were non-existent. What the hell was going on? Maybe there was nothing he could do about everything else that was going on, but the moment you diet and don’t lose any weight is probably the moment the world is going to end.

He took the kids to the farthest corner of the basement and sat them down on the floor as if the ending was near.

“Come on, dad. What do you want? I’ve got stuff to do,” Mark said.

Mark was already annoyed. Benny couldn’t tell if this was yet another bad sign. Mark had been permanently annoyed for almost three years now. Other parents had told him this was normal. Some other people had told him that medication might be good for him. The internet didn’t make things any better either. According to his research his son was either a psychopath or an angry teen in need of…love, was it? He didn’t know. His research was inconclusive of what such a teen might need. Looking on the internet for answers wasn’t a total waste of time though. After reading a medicated teenager’s story on the Huffington Post he was certain that going down the pill road was a definite no, no. And it had nothing to do with cost. Imagine that…

“Kids, what I’m about to tell you is really important.”

Grace gasped. “Are we going to die, daddy?”

Where did that come from? Should he start worrying about Grace too now? “What? No. No, we aren’t going to die. Why did you think that?”

“Mark told me that bad stuff is going to happen in the world and we are all going to die.”

He should have known. Of all the things he could be doing Mark seemed to take particular joy in reading weird stuff online and later recount them to Grace. Was THAT a bad sign? “Well,” he said. Before going on he threw a glance at Mark. He didn’t do it as a way to disapprove of Mark’s actions he just wanted to see if he was smiling. He was. “Bad stuff has been happening all over the world in 2011 too Grace so…”

Grace interrupted him with another dramatic gasp. “We are going to die?”

“No. No.” Shit. What was he thinking? “Grace,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen in 2012 but no one is going to die.”

Grace looked at him like a puppy. Not a confused, can’t-tell-I’m-looking-at-my-own-reflection-in-the- mirror puppy, but a really smart puppy that just wants to play with you. “No one?”

Trick question, trick question. “No one.”

“Not even that really old lady with the cane and the fake teeth and the tubes we saw at the hospital when we went to visit grandma?”

Mark burst out laughing.

“Grace, don’t interrupt me again.”

“OK, daddy.”

“According to the Mayans though…” Mark said.

“Mark. Stop it. If you want to read about the 2012 apocalypse check out Wikipedia, but keep your mouth shut.”

No one spoke. Not a bad sign, but weird. Benny finally tackled the serious issue at hand. Christmas. “As you both know in a few days we will be celebrating Christmas.”

Grace grinned. Benny preempted her with a serious stare. “So,” he said. “All of your grandparents will be visiting us this year and I really need you to act your best.”

“What do you mean, daddy?”

“Your mommy is feeling very stressed with her work and…other stuff, and I—we all need to help her with everything, just this one week. OK?”

“OK, daddy. Will you help her cook?”

“Um, no.”

“Don’t worry, daddy. I will.”

This was a bad idea. He shouldn’t have said anything. “OK…Mark?”


What? No argument? What was going on? Should he be afraid? Benny wasn’t afraid, just worried. Maybe the world wasn’t going to end, but with the way things were going he wasn’t all that excited to wish anyone “Happy New Year” come 2012. What was worse was that he was the one he had to take the kids shopping today. Kids, toy store, Christmas and small budget didn’t bode well. In fact, it sounded more like one of those IQ test questions. Which one of these words doesn’t fit in?

Benny, Mark, Grace and Annie wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discussion Topic: Branding


by Georgevine Moss

Harvey Weinstein has been in the press these past few days, mostly in relation to the Weinstein Company produced “My Week with Marilyn” movie, which opened this year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

An Associated Press article written by John Carucci and featured on Yahoo! recounts the desire of Mr. Weinstein to turn his film company into a brand.

Brand examples mentioned in the article, mostly for their widely recognized logos, include facebook, twitter, Apple, and MGM. More specifically, there’s talk about facebook’s F, twitters’ T, Apple’s chipped apple and MGM’s lion.

Facebook doesn’t really have a logo though, does it? Facebook doesn’t, and twitter’s logo is the cartoon-looking flying bird which appears right after the social network’s name, not the little square light-blue icon with the letter T in it. That small square along with the dark-blue icon with the letter F in it are buttons used in almost every webpage and every blog as a simple way for people to promote content on these social networks.

This use of the icons is what made them so familiar to a wider audience. Whether you use those networks or not doesn’t matter, because if you use the internet then those two icons can’t be avoided. In that regard, twitter’s logo, or facebook’s lack of one, doesn’t seem to be that important.

On the other hand, Apple and MGM have strong logos, but are they important, and how do they work for their respective companies?

Very effectively for Apple, one could say. Every product is stamped with that chipped apple and that logo instantly renders it recognizable as an Apple product. That single image passes a variety of messages to the consumer, mainly the key attributes Apple wants to represent, sleek design and ease of use. Also high price, but, thanks to the power of the brand, that otherwise undesirable characteristic ends up being another part of the advertised package. So overall, the logo seems to play an important part for the brand.

How about MGM? How does the lion, which becomes even more memorable on film where it changes from a static image to a moving one, help the brand? Aesthetically it is a very powerful logo. It is also a highly recognizable one on its own. But is the MGM name associated with it and thus equally known and what does it represent to the consumer?

Does it pass on a specific message to the mind of the consumer other than that “this is a movie you are about to watch”? And does the casual non-OCD viewer pay any attention to anything else but the lion? Does it even matter?

Overall, one could argue that for a film studio a well-recognized logo with the effectiveness of Apple’s, wouldn’t deliver the same value for two reasons. First, most movies nowadays are made by a combination of partnerships with a bunch of other studios and second, most studios make a variety of different kind of films. Both these elements dilute the message a brand could deliver.

When it comes to branding, movies are tricky products. Genre trumps a studio’s name, star-powered names trump genre and oftentimes actors’ names substitute genre, e.g. an Adam Sandler film, instead of a comedy.

Then there are the directors’ names. Those mainly sell a specific style. A Quentin Tarantino film, a Coen Brothers film, those names, when consumers hear them, they get an idea of the style of the movie and not necessarily its genre, and that’s exactly what those names sell, the unique style attached to the specific name.

A studio like the Weinstein Company would probably be able to create a brand, which would sell a specific kind of movie style (editing, production) and not genre or the vague characterization of a “serious” film as mentioned in the Associated Press article. For instance, “The Iron Lady” could be called a “serious” film but one may not necessarily consider “My Week with Marilyn” a movie of the same level of “seriousness”.

The Weinstein name, though known, doesn’t seem to be widely associated with the movies it produces or distributes. With their films it’s very likely that consumers who watch the trailers or the posters choose to watch the movie based on whether they’re intrigued by the subject of the movie or not. The trailers though, to some extent, do show the style of a Weinstein Company film, so both the logo and the name of the company should stand out in the trailers and the posters in order to not only become recognizable, but to be associated with those films as well, until the brand is able to deliver its message (namely the style of the movie) on its own.

Perhaps that can be achieved with a small change to the existing logo, like this?

For more on branding here’s a recent article on branding myths which appeared on CBS Money Watch. Finally, you are most likely to find at least one thing about branding, which is both useful and informative, by reading these MIT Marketing lecture notes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

PICTURE BOOK SAMPLE: HALLOWEEN (The Fruit Bat And The Shabti Statue)


On Halloween night David went out trick or treating. All was going well until a storm broke out just as little David was knocking on the door of the last house. In he went, though he was scared, and that’s how he met Albert and his pet and learnt all about a statue that was different than any other statue he had ever heard.




How the story begins...

The Halloween night our story is told, the moon was full and the air really, really cool. But the bats didn’t mind the cold so when the time came and they woke up, they flew way up guided by the moonlight, which was really, really bright, and they all went out flying into the night.

The picture book is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, and Amazon JAPAN.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Free Short Story: Animals Have It So Easy: A Mom and Son Conversation

Animals Have It So Easy: A Mom and Son Conversation

by Georgevine Moss

Andrew had to go back to school in September and after about a month of that he just had enough. After a long, hard day of sitting in an uncomfortable chair listening to people talking Andrew was glad to be back at home. It also happened to be Friday so homework could wait and let him take a breather. Not much of a breather when mom is waiting to question you; hiding in the kitchen, where she knows you HAVE to go in order to eat.

Andrew has some pretty strong thoughts about this. Once he even recorded these thoughts on his webcam. He thought he was so good that he gave his mom a USB stick with the video copied in it. His mom keeps it in a safe at an unknown location, probably for evidence.

Video Recording: Playing

“I mean, really, what’s up with that? They are worse than some crazy stalker. They know exactly where you are at all times, where you’ll go next and when and if by some miracle they don’t, they extort it out of you. And despite all that, despite all this Intel the CIA would be lucky to ever have on its suspects, they still hide in your own home, waiting to ask you where you have been anyway. I mean why do they do that? Do they want to piss you off and why? Do they get a kick out of it? Is it some sort of reimbursement for having you? What?”

“And when you ask them, they say it’s because they love you and care about you and don’t want to see you hurt. Well, guess what. That’s exactly how stalkers feel about their victims too, but they still lock THEM up.”

Video Recording: Paused

Andrew stormed in the kitchen and went straight for the fridge. His mom sat in the middle of the room, resting both arms on the bench, leafing through a fitness magazine.

Mom: Good evening to you too.

Andrew was too busy drinking water to reply. Was he being rude? People need water. He was thirsty. People die without water. What’s the point of “good evening” anyway, to start up a conversation? She knew he was coming, she knew where he had been and what he had done—more or less— and she knew what he wanted in the kitchen. What exactly did she want to know?

Mom: So how was your day?

Andrew: Same.

Mom: School OK?

Andrew: No.

Mom: So you weren’t lying then.

Andrew: Funny. Why do I have to go to school anyway?

Mom: I am not going to debate this again with you. You are too strong-headed about this to offer any meaningful counterarguments; you know, like ones that actually make sense.

Andrew: Oh, yeah? How about this: animals.

Mom: OK. That’s new. I’ll bite. What about them?

Andrew: They have it SO easy.

Mom: Uh-huh.

Andrew: Take bears for example. Do they need to get up before the sun even does and work way into the night, for like ever? No. In fact, they don’t even need to wake up AT ALL during the tough times, which also happens to be the winter for them too even though they don’t have school like I do, instead they sleep it off.

Mom: So what you are saying is you want to sleep during the winter and wake up in time for the summer?

Andrew: NO. I’m just saying…it’s so much easier…Never mind, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

Mom: OK. Hey, here’s an idea. Why don’t you gather your thoughts together in a nice recording like this other one you made, remember?

Andrew: I'm busy.

Mom: Take your time, there's no rush...but don't forget to make me a copy, OK?


Not surprisingly, there seems to be a discussion about school, sleep and children here: Let Students Sleep. Of course, any comments on the subject or the story are welcome in the blog too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011



by Georgevine Moss

Mike Dallas stared at the numbers changing above the elevator doors. The roomy space was packed with suits, briefcases and dangling financial newspapers. Mike stood in the middle of it, pinned to the spot, motionless and pale like a corpse in a casket.

The elevator got lighter by several dozens of pounds on the 30th floor; on the 40th he was the only one left, briefcase in hand, tie loose and sweat beads all over his face. Of course he was the only one left. This was his floor; everyone else was at their desks, working. Everyone else wasn’t late. Everyone else wasn’t him.

He rushed out the elevator and continued with a run, one that could easily pass as a brisk walk in case anyone looked up from his screen and noticed him. To get to his desk he had to go through the maze of cubicles that had taken over the once clean space just like mold spreading on a nice slice of bread, unwanted and perilous to your health. He did so like an excellent skier sliding down a remote mountain, an avalanche waiting to crush him at every passing moment.

Mike dropped to his chair and stared at the computer screen in front of him as he typed in the password. In a few seconds charts had taken over the three screens on his desk. Also struggling for his attention were several red and blue squares flashing with ever changing prices like strobe lights in a drug-addict’s mind.

Without wasting any time Mike got to work, putting lines wherever he could think of and drawing Fibonacci retracements wherever he felt it was right. He was skimming the economic calendar on Bloomberg when his cell phone started vibrating in his pocket.

He stared at his wife’s number on the small screen with his thumb hovering over the “end call” button. Several seconds later he answered the damn phone.

“What?” he said. He rolled his chair closer to the desk and began fiddling with the mouse, scrolling through pages filled with fun words such as “debt”, “collapse”, “earnings” and “GDP”, but he did not actually read anything. His brain was like a steam engine, hot and fuming. “You want to talk about it?”

Mike only left her enough time for a heavy sigh. Then he ended the call with a short monologue. “You want a divorce. Got it. Talk to my lawyer. Oh, wait. He is your lawyer too. And you are screwing him. Guess he won’t be looking for my bests interests, is he?”

He sat in his chair feeling stupider than ever. Surely he could have thought of something to say that would actually hurt her feelings instead of just reiterating the facts that made him sound like a failure, yet he hadn’t.

In the midst of his happy thoughts the phone on his desk began ringing. Mike picked it up and answered with the same charming tone he had talked to his wife. “What?” he said. At which point he realized this was his work phone and his face turned white.

“Mr. Johnson would like to see you in his office,” a very calm, female voice blared in his ear. She wasn’t screaming but he got a headache anyway.


“An hour ago.”

Mike tried to swallow but his mouth was dry. “I’ll be right there,” he said.

He stood up, straightened his tie and began the long walk to Mr. Johnson’s office. So his boss knew he’d been late that day. So what? He’d never been late before. But what if Mr. Johnson asked why he’d been late? Would it be better if he said he’d overslept? Probably.

There was none of the usual pleasantries once Mike was in Mr. Johnson’s office.

Mr. Johnson, a tall lean man in his eighties, sat behind a grand oak desk. “The day of reckoning has come,” he said in a grim voice that matched his black three piece suit.

Mike stared into Mr. Johnson’s steely blue eyes and all he could think of was of vodka and ice; maybe because his brain was frozen and he felt sick.

“Today will determine your future in this company,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mike was stupid enough to joke about it. Well, try to joke about it. “Oh, so there is a future,” he said, smiling. “I was a bit worried about that.”

“You should be,” Mr. Johnson said, not smiling. “What I need from you today is a technical analysis report for GOLD, S&P 500, EUR/USD, CABLE, EUR/AUD, USOIL and ASE.”

“But, sir, I don’t trade the Athens stock exchange index.”

“I know. I added that one for fun. You are allowed to make one trade. You better make it a successful one.”

Mike decided it was best to be concise. “Or?”

“Or you are fired. Any more questions?”

“But I’ve been doing nothing but losing so far, you can’t honestly expect me to do this?”

“That’s a very good plea Mr. Dallas. If, by any chance, this doesn’t work out for you perhaps you should consider becoming a lawyer?”

And with that helpful suggestion the meeting was over. Back at his desk Mike began charting his future, his wrist watch loudly ticking away the minutes. Tick, tick, tick…

Mike Dallas entered the GBP/USD trade. Is he going to keep his job?

8/31/2011 15:30 EST

S&P 500
SHORT SELL at 1.21500
BUY at 1.12500
STOP at 1.36500

SHORT SELL at 1.34450
BUY at 1.23950
STOP at 1.42000

LONG BUY at 1.82400
SELL at 1.98500
STOP at 1.70000

SHORT SELL at 1.62400
BUY at 1.61200
STOP at 1.63500

LONG BUY at 1.43750
SELL at 1.50500
STOP at 1.39000

SHORT SELL at 88.88
BUY at 84.45
STOP at 92.20

LONG BUY at 916
SELL at 1160
STOP at 720

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Non-Fiction Article: Amelia Earhart Day - July 24

Amelia Earhart

by Georgevine Moss

On July 24 1897 a baby girl was born in Atchison, Kansas. Her name was Amelia Mary Earhart. In 1921 that girl, now aged 24, began taking her first flying lessons. A few years later, in 1928, she became internationally known as the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air when she rode the Friendship plane as a passenger. After that, Amelia seemed to have made a plan of breaking records every couple of years. In 1930, she set the women’s flying record (181.18 mph) and in 1932 she flew across the Atlantic this time as a pilot, solo, thus becoming the first woman to do so.

Perusing the Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers at the online Purdue Library is striking to read her viewpoints on women and life in articles written by her, a woman in the 1930’s.

For instance, in an article titled “Should a Wife Support Herself?” she makes the case for the benefit of women having economic independence and when asked about the possible ramifications on children whose mothers preferred to work she offers this gem: “Some of them have too much mother, anyway. I know from my experience in social service that there is such a thing as too much mother. Let a father take more interest in the child. I am sure that such a plan will work out satisfactorily for both.”

In another article, featured in Cosmopolitan, titled “Women and Courage” Amelia aptly replies to a frequent question addressed to her not so much as a pilot, but a woman that happens to be a pilot. That question was “How much courage does it take for a woman to make a solo transatlantic flight?”

Though Earhart admitted that she often tried to evade the question her reply in the article manages to answer it fully, while at the same time avoiding making it a woman’s issue as those who asked it obviously thought it was. Her answer was simple. Anyone, man or woman, that finds himself into a perilous situation has so many things to do at that critical time in order to save his life that there really isn’t any time to do much other than act.

The online resources about Amelia Earhart offer a glimpse of what seemed to be a unique personality, a woman who was much more than what she is mostly known for, an aviation pioneer. One of those sources is an audio file of a speech she gave on the role of women in science, which can be found here.

In that speech she concludes with the wish that “…women may come to share with men the joy of doing.”

Check out onewomanmedia's Google Doodle in celebration of Amelia Earhart Day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Short Story Sample: MINERS


John and Margaret are two scientists who have found the perfect way of spending more time with their two small kids, taking them to short exploration trips. This time their destination is the old mine up on Mt. Fearful. Everyone is excited to check out the rich biodiversity the area is known for but no one could have ever imagined…

It was supposed to be safe.

The mine was abandoned long ago.

EVERYONE thought all the miners were gone.



WORD COUNT/A4 PAGES: 12.000 / 29
Other Mt. Fearful short stories: ZOMBIE CURSE

The road became bumpy after the first turn round the tall mountain. John was driving the van and Margaret was nodding off at the passenger’s seat. The couple was not alone. Six year-old Grace sat at the back seat, her ten year-old brother sitting next to her. Grace had her face glued to the window and seemed to be having fun; her brother, not so much. Though he, like his little sister, enjoyed these trips way too much for the average city kids they were, he always had internet access throughout the whole thing.

Isolated in a boat in the middle of nowhere? Internet connection: signal booming. Lost deep below the surface of the earth? Internet connection: all bars green. Driving up a dirt road a few hundred miles from a sizeable city? Internet connection: down.

The connection was cut off like a candle flame in the wind the moment they started going up Mount Fearful. At least he had finished that story about the scientist who’d gone missing at the same mine they were about to visit. The last line of the article was: “He is presumed dead.”

Tommy’s eyelids were drooping and his usual foot tick had ceased much to his father’s great peripheral vision delight. Unlike Grace, he couldn’t muster up any excitement looking out the window. At least reading every sign they passed on their way to the top was a good distraction from the single disturbing thought going round and round in his head. No internet connection.

The first few signs seemed normal enough, warning them of dangers that might come, like the yellow triangle with the word ‘HAIL’ written on it, or the signs with pictures of animals on them. Most of those depicted a lone wolf or a single bear, which made sense. Subsequent signs though showed what looked like a pack of wolves followed by other signs of a lone wolf or a bear.

What that meant exactly Tommy wasn’t sure yet. He was still processing the possibilities. Could at this point of the road a pack of wolves block their way at any moment while at this other location only a single wolf might make an appearance? Was this other spot some kind of a single ambush territory only? No other wolves allowed? And how come it only applied to the wolves?

Tommy’s train of thought was interrupted by the creepy, unfamiliar with the flow of human speech female voice that was the vocal brain of their GPS.

“Turn left,” the voice said and Tommy’s heart skipped a beat. He knew he was facing to the right and right was where the solid mountain side stood, which meant that on the left was the cliff. Also, he did not need to have a direct view of said cliff or know the altitude of their current position to feel scared. Judging by Grace’s excited expression alone he could safely assume that the fall would be a steep one.

The car veered to the left just a bit as John followed the woman’s commands by default, but slipped back to its safer position on the road, away from the edge of the cliff, in no time.

As their van wobbled up the winding road round the mountain, the signs got weirder and weirder. Not that a sign of a wolf or a bear or a congregation of any carnivorous animal wasn’t weird enough, but those other signs, they barely even made sense.

Tommy perked up and started paying attention. They passed two rectangular signs which pictured a baby monkey with prolonged spider-like limps and the words “IF SEEN, FEED” at the bottom. In between those, he saw a smaller, circular sign with a picture of what appeared to be a swarm of bats. There were no instructions on that one so he made up his own. The first thing that came up in his mind was “NO FLYING ZONE”. But that didn’t make sense, “IF ATTACKED, COVER YOUR HEAD” sounded far more appropriate.

Tommy saw the next sign from several feet away. Apparently, his dad hadn’t. The van came to a screeching halt. A cloud of dust rose from the ground swallowing up the car, hiding it from sight like a magician’s trick before settling back down. With the seatbelt tight against her chest, Margaret bounced back into her seat, snapping out of her dream back into reality. Little Grace was not so lucky. She tumbled over on the floor, hitting her head on the seat in front of her.

“What happened?” Margaret said, ignoring her husband and glancing at the back seat instead. Grace smiled back at her.

John pointed out the window over to Margaret’s side. A bright red sign stood at the edge of the dirt path, flashing the word “STOP” back at her in huge white letters.

“John, you’ve driven all over the world. What an earth possessed you? The kids could have gotten hurt. It’s just a STOP sign.”

“I wasn’t expecting to see one up here,” John said trying his best not to look like he was acting in a sitcom.

Those acting classes he’d taken had really ruined John’s speech patterns and body gestures as far as Margaret was concerned. Now, whatever came out of John’s mouth, whether they were discussing the kids’ performance at school, work-related nightmares or reminiscing about good past times, it all sounded like silly made-up lies.

John went on undaunted. “Besides, the kids are all buckled up, right, kids?”

John looked at Tommy over his shoulder and then moved on to adjust the rear view mirror. Grace scrambled up on to her seat, buckled up and put a huge grin on her face just in time. One of these days little Grace would learn to keep her seat belt on, so far though, whatever trouble her habit of disobeying her parents’ rules brought on, she seemed to weather it fine. It always ended with her uninjured, and much to her mother’s dismay, undeterred. John just found it cute.

A big black sign towered over them like a blackboard from their worst school-themed nightmare. The sign was screwed over a trunk-like wooden pole, not hammered into the ground but growing out of a rock in the middle of the forked road ahead of them.

John stooped over, hugging the steering wheel, and stared up at the sign, mouth agape.

“What is it daddy?” Grace said, hopping over to her mother’s lap on the front seat.
Tommy grabbed the headrest in front of him and pushed himself forward as far as his size would allow him, which, as it turned out, was a lot.

The oversized sign was chockfull of information.

Tommy began reading aloud. “Dangerous Species,” he said, slowly reading the heading that was crammed on the sign’s right side. A long list of names, both familiar and alien-sounding, filled the space below it all the way to the bottom.

John, Margaret and Tommy stayed focused, mumbling random words as their eyes shifted from name to name and various warnings and notes scattered all over that blackboard from hell. Grace who had only recently joined the ranks of those who could read was more interested in the pictures. There were only two, one of a black flower that apparently had teeth and one of an animal that was neither a bird nor a rodent but looked like both, namely it looked like a big, fat rat with wings.

Grace focused her eyes on the rat picture. “Mommy, mommy look at that,” little Grace said, eyes beaming.

Margaret closed her eyes and seemed to be praying while John laughed.

“If we find one can I keep it?” Grace said.

“Turn right,” the GPS voice chimed in.

“It’s a rat, stupid,” Tommy said. “You can’t have a rat as a pet.”

“Turn right.”

“It’s not a rat. Rats don’t have wings,” Grace said.

“Tommy, don’t call your sister stupid. And Grace, we already agreed to get you a puppy. We discussed this. You can’t have two pets, OK sweetie?” Margaret said.

Grace climbed back to her seat and sat close to the window, eyes filled with tears.

Margaret took a deep breath. “OK. John, I know the GPS says we should turn right, but I think we should trust the sign for now and go left, what do you say?”

“Left it is,” John said without pause for thought, as if Margaret’s voice, or, evidently, any female voice, had a Siren-like effect on him. He turned the steering wheel, glanced in both directions and steered the car up the dirt path with caution.

“Recalculating,” the GPS voice said calmly. Then it said it again. And again, at which point John turned the thing off.

Under the weight of the slow-moving van the gravel turned noisily into dust. The car stopped and silence took over. The sky was of a deep dark blue now, stars already flickering above them. Soon it would be blind black.

With the ground coming to an abrupt end on one side and the mine’s entrance on the other, gaping at them crippled by time and abandonment, its wooden beams on both sides struggling to keep the pile of dirt from collapsing, their camping site couldn’t have looked smaller.

John turned to Margaret. “Cozy,” he said.

Margaret gave him one of her venomous looks without commenting.

John was trying to play it cool but a strange fear was suddenly growing inside him. He parked the van on one side of the entrance with the front of the car facing the dirt path that had led them here. He did it instinctively, as a safety measure. A quick getaway had been proven life-saving in the past. It was bizarre though. Never before had he felt fear such as this upon arriving at a location they had chosen to explore. The silence worried him. There was something about this place. They were alone, even nature seemed to be absent, and yet he felt the presence of many, many…things.

John and Tommy collected rocks and used them to form a big circle in the middle of their camp. They hurried, quickly building a fire within the constraints of the rocks as Margaret and Grace slowly unloaded the camping gear from the back of the car.


Little Grace was already fast asleep in the tent she was sharing with her brother when everyone else got ready for dinner. Margaret knew her husband would fall asleep the moment he lied down in their tent so she ate fast and excused herself in order to beat him to it. Falling asleep first was the surest thing to a good night’s sleep next to a separate room.

Even after his parents had settled in their tent Tommy, tired and disappointed he wouldn’t get to tell his ghost story around the camp fire (for what was the point if Grace wouldn’t hear it?), sat by the fire, lingering on until he could no longer keep his eyes open. Slowly, he dragged himself to his tent and pulled the zipper down to get in. He jolted back. Grace was standing inches away from his face. Tommy stepped aside and Grace, barefoot and with her long hair covering most of her face, stepped outside the tent and began wandering around.

Tommy watched her until Grace had set a clear course toward the edge of the cliff several miles away from their camp.

He took a deep breath. “Mom,” he said, calling out with all the strength he could muster. “Dad,” he called out and paused, waiting for a response.

Grace’s nightie, though white, was barely visible now that she was so far away from the fire.Wolves howled somewhere up in the mountain top that looked down on them not much higher up than their camp site.

“Mom, Grace is sleepwalking again,” Tommy screamed like one would when trying to communicate through walls.

Margaret sprang out of the tent and looked around the camp. Grace’s dark silhouette had vanished in the distance.

“Where is she?” Margaret said, veins popping in her stark-white face.

Tommy raised his hand and pointed toward the darkness waiting just a few feet away from the fire. Margaret grabbed the flashlight lolling about her feet, turned it on and began running.

As Margaret ran, the light shone briefly all over the place, changing direction like a panicked bee. It spotlighted things that made Margaret’s heart skip several beats. Thick, tall undergrowth at the sides and red dirt mixed with small rocks beneath her feet, but no Grace in sight; all she had to go on was the feeling that she was running out of ground.

“Grace,” she screamed. Her breathing was heavy, though she looked like she could run all the way down the mountain without so much as a pause. She didn’t want to scream, the doctor had advised against that. But Grace hadn’t sleepwalked in two years now…and this was not their apartment. That advice just wasn’t applicable when you were running toward a deadly drop in the midst of a wolf and bear habitat.

“Grace? Can you hear me? Grace? Grace wake up honey, Grace…” Margaret stopped, and stood, eyes shut, for just one moment, trembling in the cold night. She was barefoot and she was bleeding. “Grace,” she said. Her voice was weak, her breath turning into steam on the spot, forming circles about her as she pivoted around herself.

Margaret closed her eyes again, this time taking a deep breath. Her face turned icy calm, the veins on her neck smoothed and all her tears dried up. She looked around to establish her position. The fire was nothing but a weak flame in the distance behind her. She turned around again and flashed the light about with organized slowness. “Grace,” she said, this time just to hear her name, and began walking forward, canvassing the area.

The light dropped on a small figure, lost in the undergrowth. “Grace,” Margaret said and burst into a run. Little Grace was standing amidst the flowers, the weeds and the bushes, eyes all white staring into the darkness. Margaret dropped to her knees and hugged her, clinging on as if it were the rope that held her up between the roof a skyscraper and the pavement below.

The flashlight slipped from her grip and rolled on the ground, shining its light on Margaret’s bleeding knees.

“Mommy,” Grace said. “I’m cold.”

Margaret stood up, one hand firm around Grace’s arm. “Oh, Grace, don’t worry, sweetie,” she said. She quickly wiped her tears off her face with her free hand and bend down, picking the flashlight off the ground. A retch-inducing stench surrounded her here at below-flower level. “Come on Grace, give me your hand,” she said, slipping her hand from Grace’s arm to her little palm. “Let’s go sit by the fire where it’s warm, OK, sweetie?”

“OK,” Grace said, nodding. She began taking small steps alongside her mom, the weeds crunching under her feet.

A noise behind them stopped them cold. Grace turned around but without any light all she could see was the darkness. Margaret squeezed Grace’s hand and took a small step forward, her eyes frozen. She stopped. No sound. “Come one Grace. It’s OK, there’s nothing there. Let’s go,” she said and moved on with a quicker pace, dragging a wide-eyed Grace along with her.

If you liked this sample you can buy and read the e-book on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR, Amazon ES, Amazon IT, and Amazon JAPAN.

Also available as an EPUB at KOBO.COM

Friday, May 20, 2011

Free Short Story: Judgment Day

In case you haven't heard Judgment Day is supposed to be happening on May 21st 2011. So what better than to read a short story on the subject written by Georgevine Moss?


by Georgevine Moss

Joel stood behind the kitchen counter and reached for the TV remote. Half-awake, a scruffy beard on his face and nothing on but a pair of boxers he held his coffee mug close to his face. The coffee was so hot he could only take sips but he hoped that inhaling some of that strong coffee smell would help do the job. It was 10 a.m. already and he wasn’t just sleepy, he was feeling as if someone had drugged him.

Some guy on the TV was talking. “For those who just tuned in, please be reminded. The dead have risen from their graves,” were the words that stood out among all the babbling.

Joel lost his job one year and six months ago to the day. It was the final blow of what must have been the worst decade of his life. Weren’t you supposed to have some of the most fulfilling years in your thirties? Divorced and with a low sperm mobility that prevented him from having kids, he was now simply eating away what little he had and was still his after the divorce settlement. Joel wasn’t feeling bitter though, just numb. As if that wasn’t enough, now he was also in a drug-like state, worse than a dreamlike state but probably better than being fully conscious. Maybe he had too much sleep?

After eighteen months of listening to directionless, pointless blathering from several uninformed talking heads, Joel was good at blocking everything he didn’t need out. He was his own search engine; looking for keywords in the sea of bullshit coming at him from those who were paid to talk to him through the TV. Like the search engines his system wasn’t flawless. He could be gamed, tricked by a headline that had all the right key words but the story was actually about something else. Maybe he had gotten too indifferent, but most of the times even useful things had to be repeated to get under his radar. No problem there, though. People repeated things all the time on TV.

The man on the screen kept talking to him. “The dead have risen and are taking over the streets all over the world,” he said.

Joel felt a flutter in his chest. Had caffeine performed its magic? Was his body finally waking up from its lethargic state? Whatever it was, it was working. The fog wrapped around his brain had started clearing up, and he could feel it, he was now capable of thinking. He panicked. Now that he could think what was he supposed to do? He had a whole day to fill. This wasn’t good. He had no drugs of any kind in the house and going back to bed would be torture.

He grabbed his net book and sat down close enough to the TV so he could hear. Now that he could think, browsing the net AND watching TV would be a breeze. Wasn’t multitasking considered a desirable skill in the job market? He should brush up on it, every employer asks for good multitasking skills, he thought.

He went on the first search engine he could think of and typed the phrase: “The dead have risen.” It got him lots of good results. He must have opened more than twenty tabs. He had a vague idea of what the man on the TV was blathering about. Now he went for the details. The first story he began reading was about a government website that gave instructions on how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse and as a result so many people visited that crashed the server. The headline was spot on. It read: “Zombie Apocalypse Campaign Crashes CDC Website”. That was before the dead had actually sprung up from the earth and began walking around and about. At least thousands of people were actually prepared for this, he thought. That was good, but theoretically it was too late for him. He went on reading the article anyway.

OK, now he was prepared for hurricane season come June. The info wasn’t useful for actual zombies anyway… First aid supplies? Evacuation routes? Really? That’s all you need to fend off the undead? Or should you feel relieved just because someone in position would do tests to find a cure for the virus that brought the dead back to life? Joel shrugged. He knew it was a fun article that only meant to pass on knowledge for real case emergencies, but damn, the dead were alive.

What was the best reaction in this situation? Trust the government to solve this mess while also providing you, along with millions of others, food, water and safety or go at it alone? For a moment he remembered the last horror/comedy movie he had watched, Zombieland. For some reason, getting a shotgun, putting on a cowboy hat and start roaming the streets appealed to him a lot more than flocking with all the so-called healthy ones in some camp like a prisoner.

Joel moved on to the other articles about Judgment Day. He skimmed through all of them. The gist of it all was that on May 21 2011 an earthquake would shake all the dead bodies out of their graves. (Joel never felt the big quake but he WAS a pretty deep sleeper and dead people had risen from their graves, so that part sounded reasonable enough to him.) Next, after all these people went on and littered the earth, the true believers would go straight up to heaven like, say, when you’ve reserved a table at a busy restaurant; you get seated before all the others who weren’t prudent enough to call ahead. The other dead bodies would just lie there, feeling ashamed. All that would happen at 6.00 p.m.

Joel saw several inconsistencies with all of this. First of all, it was only 11.00 a.m. Also, the dead that remained on earth were not just sunbathing in shame. They were walking around. Now, that was a biggie. What could the dead do and not do? For example, say they could feel and they felt hungry. What kind of dietary needs would they have?

The man on the TV did some more talking. “The dead have risen. Nobody believed this would happen but it did. It’s happened. Judgment day is happening. Right now, in front of our very own eyes.

“That’s’ right,” another talking head said. “It’s happening. This morning my father- in-law surprised me at the doorway on the way to work—he is dead by the way—I freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. Started yelling and swearing at him, you know to scare him away, I mean that’s what you do to keep wild animals away, right? Yell at them? Anyway, I managed to lock myself in the car and drive off, but man was that scary.”

“Yeah,” a female talking head said. “I heard that those who remain might try to visit loved ones…or just people they know... you know, something like that.”
Joel was glad his father-in-law was very much alive. That guy was big, mean and knew his way with a gun. Not that he needed one. Also he loathed Joel. The only dead person on his ex-wife’s side that perhaps could show up was the granny. She had Alzheimer’s toward the end of her life and always confused Joel with her beloved son. But that was OK. The granny was small, frail and had no teeth.

As far as his own family was concerned, he needn’t worry. Joel was an orphan. His mom had left him sleeping on a seat in a big, lavish church when he was a baby. She and his father never showed up at the church-sponsored orphanage they put him in when they found him on that pew, several days later, crying from hunger.

Perhaps his mother couldn’t support him and being the caring, responsible person she was she decided to dump him there so a nice, decent middle class couple took him as their own. Such couples did occasionally pass by the orphanage for a tour. Many kids did get adopted. Joel had to wait till he was old enough to walk himself out of there. Good then, maybe he’d finally find out who his parents were. Oh, shoot, they had to be dead to come looking for him. He did not wish such a thing but if they were dead…they were welcome.

The last Rapture-related article he skimmed over was the most worrying. Those who survived would live an agonizing life full of horrible earthquakes, a life rife of horror and chaos. Not only that, but each day until October 21st people would die one by one. Then after those horrible five months the earth would be destroyed and all who survived would die too.

All this was just terrible, but Joel could not feel bad about any of it. Joel wasn’t a bad person. He knew that. So, in order to figure out why he couldn’t feel bad about the imminent end of the world, he decided to make a mental list of all the terrible things that had already happened in the world.

Let’s see. Stock market crash? Done. Major earthquakes? Check. Violence-ridden riots all over the world? Yup. City-wiping tsunamis? Uh-huh. How about a nuclear disaster? That too. Say what? People are dying every single day?

Joel processed all the info in his mind and came to a satisfying conclusion. If what was happening on May 21st 2011 was the beginning of the end, then that day was the equivalent to the perfect murder. Judgment Day was the perfect act of terrorism. No matter whether you had the antivirus or not, whether you were a believer or not, it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. This was happening and it was not up to you to stop it. The free will bottle, uncorked all these years ago, had been resealed. The higher power used its veto vote. There’s NOTHING you could do.

Joel felt better about himself. He wasn’t a bad, miserable man. Perhaps everyone should feel better. Someone hit the reset button. But if what was happening today was NOT Judgment Day… they were all screwed.

That last thought made Joel feel really, really bad. Then he remembered that if the Rapture wasn’t happening then that meant that the free will bottle was still wide open. Theoretically, the living could do something about all those horrible, terrible things that were happening…maybe there was still time to fix things until the real end of the world DID come.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Free Short Story: William, Kate and Zombies

You know those mash-up novels? Do you like the idea? No? Too bad. As you may have heard there’s a wedding happening on Friday April 29 2011. Reportedly, lots of people will be watching. In an effort to offer you different forms of entertainment for this special day here’s a little urban fantasy story by Georgevine Moss called…wait for it...

William, Kate and Zombies

by Georgevine Moss

Elaine Smith had been planning her first vacation ever since she started working at age twenty. Now, twenty years later it was time to enjoy her decades-old crafted plan, a journey around the world in eighty weeks.

The flight was booked, the suitcase packed and the cab engine running. All in all, everything was ready and the plan in motion. First stop was London. If all went well, she’d arrive at midnight, local time, Thursday April 28, 2011. Hopefully, all this hoopla about the royal wedding going on and around the city wouldn’t jeopardize her plans.

‘All these years of planning…’ The words kept swirling in Elaine’s head, caught in a never-ending cycle, as the cab driver sped off towards JFK airport. “…of all the months and days available, did he have to choose that one day to get married?’ She certainly wouldn’t be able to do many of the tourist stuff she had planned for Friday, but, hey, this was a one-kind type of event, right? Yeah, the wedding wasn’t an obstacle. It was an omen, a good one.

All these people watching from their TVs, while she’d get to actually experience the whole thing from up close…or at least part of it, it’s not like she’d spend her first day of not worrying about anything camped outside a church with a bunch of strangers just to catch a glimpse of another bunch of strangers.

No flight delays. Grand, she was so worried about this. Year after year she had to sit, mouth shut and an understanding look unwavering on her tired face, and listen as friends and family bitched and moaned about being groped by security only to see their flight being delayed or canceled. Lots of groping had of course taken place at security, but that wasn’t so bad…A woman in a blue uniform woke her up from deep sleep. She had only taken a couple of Valiums…and now she was in London? Splendid, though it wasn’t just the drugs, she was sure. That little head rest pillow thingyshe gave in and bought three years ago had helped too.


Thunders rolled and boomed, eventually waking Elaine up at six in the morning. She felt great. She hadn’t missed a day at work, after all, and she always woke up at six on the weekends too anyway, so why would her body do otherwise now?
At first she worried about the rain. Could it ruin her plans for the day? ‘Maybe dampen them a little, but ruin?’ She thought. She opened the curtains and all she could see was clear skies. Another loud thunder sounded overhead. My, oh my, this surely was an omen.

Giddy from a deep-rooted belief that this was the first day of the best vacation ever, Elaine jumped into the shower to prepare for a long day of overflowing joy. ‘Cause this day there really was enough joy for everyone or almost anyone. But not all was rosy as she soon realized by a doing a quick online search the previous night. Apparently, some just couldn’t get into the day’s mood. In this economy they just couldn’t afford it. Elaine surely understood the sacrifices one has to make to achieve his dreams, so being a party-pooper and not watching the wedding but going to work instead was OK in her book.

As Big Ben chimed seven the British tomb of the Unknown Warrior broke into pieces, rocking the Westminster Abbey grounds. There were a handful of people around the grave at the time. They all froze in place. White-faced and speechless they stood watching the dirt twirling around itself up in the air, slowly getting bigger and bigger until it stopped and everything silenced. A mummy was staring back at them. The remains that on this day had so suddenly come to life clearly were once a full-bodied male. The man stumbled among the broken stone pieces, a strange look fixed on his mummified face. He was not frightened as the humans were, but he was very, very confused.

Four of the humans, tourists by the looks of it, what with the smart phones in hand taking pictures moments before they turned into living statues, kept their mouths shut and began mirroring the mummy’s movements, only they moved backwards as the mummy tottered forwards.

Then there was the priest. He was tall and lean and still firm at his place. “The Unknown Warrior,” he said and then he fainted.

In that one instant, when everyone diverted their attention to the priest and watched him falling down with a great thud, a bunch of mummies materialized all around the Unknown Warrior. Some were wearing PH helmets and thus could be clearly identified as First World War soldiers, but the others, the others were an elegant, though in dire need of dry cleaning, mix of costumes all from different eras.

The tourists turned around, prepared to make a run for it, only to be stopped short and forced to retreat by a gang of well-groomed mummified, but very well preserved, men.

“I’m Sir Isaac Newton,” one of the mummies said, standing tall.

Lord Byron,” another one said, his voice bouncing off the walls.

Whether it was fear or sheer admiration that caused it no one could tell, but the four tourists dropped down on the floor, not dead but unconscious.
The mummies ignored the fainted weak and scattered around. Enjoying the reflexes, the vitality and flexibility of any human that happened to be alive, the mummies blended easily in the large crowds gathered in the surrounding areas, going unnoticed. Oh, what joy it was to be walking the London roads again, even if everything seemed slightly off.


Elaine was out and about, bustling through the packs of happy tourists and other people. The thunders had stopped and the sun was shining down on all of them in all its glory. But not all was good for Elaine. She had been developing a dreadful headache. At first it was only an annoyance, now it was insufferable. Her head was throbbing non-stop, while the pain hit her in sudden bursts, as if someone suffering from a bad case of the hiccups was pounding on her head with a hammer.
Big Ben chimed eleven. The wedding ceremony had began and she was feeling nauseated. That was not good, omens or not. At eleven thirty she spotted her first zombie. The fact that she seemed to be the only one that noticed a corpse was standing amongst the living, watching, quiet enthused, the royal wedding in the big screen at Hyde Park was a little scary. On the bright side, her headache seemed to be losing steam.

Then the most amazing thing happened right here, in front of her very eyes. A bunch of Hackney coaches sprung from the ground, the horses neighing and whinnying. It was surreal. The cab waited, but no one else seemed to be giving the strange vehicle a second glance. At first she was reluctant. The driver was surely a corpse, she could see that. But he was alive. So that made him a zombie. And what do zombies do? Well, all sorts of things from what she could recall, but this one didn’t seem to be hungry or want her harm, so she asked him for a ride and the cabbie agreed to do it at a very, very fair price, which was good, because the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound wasn’t helping at all.


And then it was over. The newlyweds kissed and the people clapped and cheered. No one knows what happened of the dead that came to life that day. The grounds and tombs of London seem undisturbed, so if they still do walk among us will be revealed as soon as the people start noticing. One thing is for sure, Elaine Smith caught something today. Maybe it is just a cold, maybe it isn’t. Whatever this thing is though, it sure isn’t going to stop her from traveling all around the world.


If you still want to follow the wedding online you can do it here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


This morning, March 5 2011, the number one New York Times Most Popular (Books) e-mailed and viewed article was “Books of The Times: Application Adventure: A Dad’s College Essay”. It was only the number two most blogged article…maybe because of the different title, ”Crazy U” , by Andrew Ferguson, on College Admissions – Review”.

Many interesting events have taken place on March 5 in previous years. For example, in 1920 a multitude of families requested from the U.S. Government to accept their sons in the army, so that they could receive the quality education they could not otherwise afford. (Source)

This year, in recognition of the perpetual buzz around the "college education" subject, OneWomanMedia offers you a Georgevine Moss postgraduate-related short story.

Warning: R-rated for language.

The Student

by Georgevine Moss

“We want your money, your brain, your soul. Study hard, work harder. Then we might consider accepting you into our program.”

Admissions Board

“Study hard, work harder”. That was the credo young Nathan had been trying to adhere to until the age of twenty-five. Then he was accepted into the North of Nowhere University, in the Social Finance Studies Department, and he no longer had to think about it.

Studying the application of econometrics in fine arts was a waste of time, money and youth, but when no one else wants you, you’ve got to go with those that do. That was the theory Nathan had constructed and began abiding to from the age of twenty, a time when he had been rejected by every university he had applied to—even the liberal art wacky new departments that had started springing up like lotuses in the middle of hell’s toxic garden—a time when young Nathan had managed to reach the lowest of lows one could have ever reached by the age of twenty, and didn’t work in show business.

After six months of intense courses in finance, Nathaniel Gregory Dayton had another six months to finish his research and present his findings in a twenty thousand-word document by the second week of July. His topic could not be merely financial, of course. It also had to match his department’s name, and thus use econometrics to study a topic with at least some connection to the arts. And so Nathan G. Dayton had found himself waiting at New Horizon prison’s visiting room.

His topic? “What Factors Could Drive a Sculptor Honoree and Prominent Professor to Murder his Manager?”

Nathan was staring at his blurry image bouncing off the polished floor when the buzzer sounded. Metals clanged and men of various ages trampled in the room as if there was a cockroach per step quota: every ten cockroaches one extra minute of daytime TV.

The man walking toward him wasn’t too tall, or too old. He wasn’t too sad, or too bothered. He was an average man; discontent but coping, nothing-to-gawk-at but self-righteous. He was a professor—well, a former one anyway.

The professor sat in the stripped metal chair facing Daniel, laid-back as if he were sitting in the Eames lounge chair at the dean’s office. “Getting in a university is like checking into a hotel, kid,” he said. “No matter how much you pay, you’ll always be considered a guest.” He paused. “They are doing you a favor.”

Nathan sat next to this professor-turned-murderer looking apathetic as a statue. He was, unconsciously, sitting not too close but not so far away as to feel safe either, in case the professor decided to hurt him, for a reason to be determined by a poor man’s soul seeking graduation sometime in the future…For that reason alone, Nathan decided it was best to keep his mouth shut.

“For the right price, they’ll give you what you need. Basic law: supply and demand,” the professor said, encouraged by the silence. “They are the suppliers. You are…fish in a tank. They give you food, you eat. They tap on the glass, you swim fast to see what they got for you and what do you do when they just start laughing in your face? You watch.” He sprung up and leaned his wide—yet fixed into a miserable bent—shoulders toward Nathan. “Society is your tank, kid. You swim until they fish you out. But, see, fish are lucky. They get picked out of the tank, they die. You get picked and you’re just getting thrown into another tank. You are not lucky, kid. So, why don’t you do yourself a favor and go away.”

“Very poignant, professor. I see all those years of teaching turned you from a young enthusiastic asshole into an old sad fuck.” Nathan said, his inner voice already screaming at him, all squeaky. “You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you?” it said, reminding him of his mother.

All of a sudden, the professor started looking like an inmate in a state prison. “You think you know better, kid? You disapprove of my theory?” he said.

“On the contrary, professor,” Nathan said. “I fully approve. However, in order for me to accept your theory I need you to back it up with evidence. You know? Let me help you. The fish is your depended variable, the tank an independent variable. You figure out the other ones, OK?” he said and waited, his inner voice still there, but weakened.

“You think you are smart, don’t you, kid? What, because you’ll soon have a post graduate degree? I have one of those too. Get a job and then let’s see how smart you’ll feel,” the professor said. He leaned back in his imaginary Eames chair, displaying his priggish smirk with shameless pride.

“OK, but I’ll still need you to provide evidence to accept your theory even if you’re proven right. And, come to think of it, it won’t be that easy, professor, because not all fish are equal, are they? It all depends on what kind of fish one is, right?” Nathan said and knew it was over. The voice had lost. Nathan had just begun.

“Don’t sweat it, kid. Shark or sweet-fucking-Nemo, you run when you see them, you eat what they give you. That’s it,” the professor said, his prudish ass smirk wiped off his face.

“I’d like to debate you, professor, but time is up. Tomorrow maybe.”


Passing through the university gates felt like going back into that visiting room, minus the very personal body search. Nathan took a moment to ponder this sad realization, and then went on his merry studying way. Day one was over.

On day two nothing had changed. The professor was still an asshole and Nathan was still at a loss of how to carry out the econometrics part of his project—oh, why couldn’t he have picked an easy topic, say for example, “What Factors Drive the WTI Oil Price?”—he had, however, finished writing up half of his dissertation and his counselor was past from being encouraging and close to being congratulatory.

“They wanted me to make two sculptures,” the professor said. “One of presidential candidate A, and one of presidential candidate B.” He paused and waited for Nathan to take his seat.

Nathan hadn’t even managed to say hello before this statement was so eloquently verbalized. He sat down and shook his head in response.

“Of the same party, of course,” the professor said. “They were paying big money too, both of them, out of their own private sponsors’ pockets.”

Contrary to what one might have thought by looking at him, Nathan was awake. “Did you take the job?” he said, looking as interested as ever.

“In what world do you live in, kid?” He chuckled. “Did I take the job?” he said, his eyes lost in a stare of no specific direction, his head bobbing back in two consecutive chuckles with a one second pause in between.

“My mistake professor,” Nathan said with all the seriousness he could muster. “First question: Did you believe in the candidate’s core values and program? Second question: “Did you take the job?”

“No, my mistake, kid. I just assumed you had a brain. Of course I took the job.”

”So you compromised.”

“My sculpture of candidate A was said candidate bending over the oval office—to pick up the phone, I told them,” the professor said, winking at Nathan. “The sculpture of candidate B depicted said candidate holding the oval office phone. See, he had gotten to it first. That was all I was trying to say.”

Without any warning a buzzer resounded in the room, signaling the end of Nathan’s visit. But to Nathan it sounded like Satan’s horn to wake up the dead for their 100th celebratory round of torture. Day two was over and he had to leave with a full but useless notepad. Oh well, maybe he could use this information to create a dummy variable.

On day three, Nathan decided to take control. Time was slipping by, and his counselor seemed to be happier now, after what seemed to be a persistent shock of self-disappointment. He just couldn’t risk losing riding on this momentum.

“As interesting as our little chats might be professor, I’ve only a couple of weeks left. So I need to ask. I have only three questions. You can be brief—I’ve already covered ten thousand words discussing previous literature…add the econometrics test results, and I’m pretty much done.”

“Right. They did teach you something after all, eh kid?”

Nathan ignored the professor’s comment and cut to the chase. “What were the three most significant—in your opinion—events prior to the murder?”

“Had a bad lunch. Had a call from my manager informing me that my presidential candidate commissioned work was canceled. My manager came over at my place to check on my work for the second time in a week.”

“Prior to committing the murder, would you say that you were tired of teaching? Bored of making sculptures on commission? Anything aggravated you more than usual?”

“All of the above.”

“What was your first thought after the murder had taken place?”

“My sculpture is a fucking masterpiece, it was worth it.”

Empirical Results

The Health and Passion (for art) variables were found statistically significant at the 10% significance level. Current financial condition was statistically insignificant, and major emotional events (victim sleeping with professor’s daughter ) was significant at the 1% level.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This study was based on qualitative data, facing a number of limitations as described in section 3.1. The empirical results are partly confirmed by the court verdict, which deemed the defendant guilty of first degree murder. According to the court and the jury, the professor’s actions did not signify a passionate crime, the defendant was not under any influence and wasn’t in any way temporarily insane. According to the empirical results of this study, the emotional event was the most significant factor of the actions of the professor. These results, as presented above, could be further analyzed in future studies by utilizing data extracted from the professor’s psychiatric evaluations during his imprisonment.

It should be noted that the professor’s last piece of work, the life-size sculpture of a man about to fall on the ground while grasping his groin, crafted in such detail reminiscent of Ron Mueck’s work, was exhibited soon after the event at the Modern Age Gallery, where it was visited by more than six million people and garnered numerous praising reviews. It was later auctioned and sold for fifteen million dollars to an anonymous collector.

North of Nowhere Alumni Newsletter

Nathan G. Dayton graduated with honors on July 2008. After trying to get a job in finance, he decided to study some more in order to pass the preliminary evaluation test of a major consulting company and go through a set of three rounds of interviews, just like he did in his search for a higher degree—this time in hope of a higher salary. He made it to Round Two, just on his first try. He is still unemployed.

Friday, February 11, 2011


You know when you are thirsty but nothing you drink seems to make it go away?

Thank the heavens. Sarah didn’t commit suicide. She was murdered. When Mrs. Lombard hears the good news she sets off to find her daughter’s killer. She never meant to raise the dead in the process, but the detectives were of no help and that doctor at the sanatorium did nothing but anger her. So she cursed them, how was she supposed to know it would work?

WORD COUNT/A4 PAGES: 8.500 / 23


“No place ever got its name for no reason…just like one’s street name, see. Name’s ‘Strange’? Then, that’s what you’re.”

Amelia ‘Strange’ Crane, Kinaya Court, Opening Statement, August 1991.


There are all sorts of signs along the road to Cursed Hill, the smallest of the villages up on Mount Fearful, and the only one that is still occupied since that cursed night in 1975. That night, the mine workers left. The mine didn’t shut down, but the workers…they just gathered their families and left, and the villages emptied.

The signs on the road warn the visitor of hail, bears and wolves. Then there’s the one that says: ‘Welcome to Cursed Hill’. That one also has the word ‘Danger’ on it. It used to have some pictures under that word, but they worn off a long time ago and those who know what they were, don’t want to tell.

That’s the place where Amelia Crane grew up in, same place where Sarah Lombard went missing on her fifteenth birthday. The dogs found her the next day. She was floating on the cold waters of the Cursed Hill Lake, blood trickling down her wrists.

Sarah never told anyone what had happened during those hours she was missing. Don’t believe she said a word since. Weeks later, Sarah’s mother got the call. She stood tall over the heavy black phone on the side table in the hall of her home and listened.

“I’m very much afraid Mrs. Lombard that your daughter’s injuries were self-inflicted. I recommend immediate incarceration at the Cursed Hill sanatorium,” the doctor said.

“For how long?” Mrs. Lombard said, calm as a comatose patient.


Now, like any good Cursed Hill native, Mrs. Lombard knew her daughter wouldn’t ever think of ‘doing the deed’, for she had taught that child well. Sarah knew all about the punishment. And burning in hell isn’t one of those things you forget. No, Sarah would speak again, and when she did, the truth would be revealed and her soul saved.

Sarah never did, not even when they strapped her down tight on that flee-infected mattress at the sanatorium; probably because she couldn’t feel much. See, she was drugged for a good twelve months. That’s right, twelve months. Then, one rainy afternoon, Sarah woke up in that same filthy bed, leather straps around her wrists. It was her sixteenth birthday.
They say she was fighting herself free when the nurse came in…


“How are you today, Sarah?” the nurse said, rolling in a wheelchair.

Sarah looked at the woman’s scratched forearms and then at her pale face. It was an unusual shade of paleness; the kind that the flesh slowly turns into when it hasn’t seen any other light than the cold, florescent white of a morgue. “Where are you taking me?” she said.

“It’s Monday, Sarah. The storm may have cut the power, but that doesn’t mean you should miss your session.” The nurse clasped Sarah’s arm with both hands and helped her sit on the wheelchair. “I’m Mary, and I’ll be taking you to Dr. Aston.”

Wheeling Sarah across the sanatorium’s grand hall, Mary nodded at the guard sitting behind the reception desk. He, in turn, rearranged his feet on the metal desk and raised his cup. The scent of coffee coming out of the cup was so strong that hovered in the large hall as if the very coffee beans it came from were being roasted under the guard’s desk. Sarah stopped staring at her feet and looked about the room. She glanced over her shoulder and when she saw the guard she began screaming. She tried to stand up, but fell face down.

Mary kneeled by her side. “Calm down, Sarah,” she said, fighting to keep Sarah still to the ground.

Sarah kicked and screamed, pushing Mary away. Mary fell back and Sarah scrambled forward. She loosened the straps around her feet and stood up. Just then Mary leapt forward and grabbed her foot. Sarah kicked her hard on the face and when she was free of Mary’s grasp she made a run for it.

The guard ran over and squatted next to Mary. “Are you OK?” he said.

“I’m fine, Nigel, just get her.”

Sarah was half-way through the front double door when Nigel dived forward managing to grab her ankle.

Mary strolled over to them and secured the wheelchair next to Sarah. “Help me strap her down,” she said as she lifted Sarah up into the wheelchair.

Nigel scrambled off the floor and leaned down to strap Sarah’s feet.

“I should have strapped her hands too,” Mary said as she fastened the straps around Sarah’s wrists. “I don’t know what I was thinking. At some point, they all freak out and they all try to run.”

“Do you need any help?” Nigel said, hovering over at one side.

“No, should be fine now. Thanks.”

“OK,” Nigel said. “I’ll be at my desk if you need me.”

Mary wheeled Sarah at the other end of the room, stopping at the top of a swirling marble staircase. “I’m afraid you’ll have to walk now, Sarah,” she said, removing the straps. “So, don’t try anything. ‘Cause if you do, I’ll have to drug you again. And we don’t want that, do we?”

Sarah stood up and took the first step down. Minutes later, she was in another room, a small, dark room below ground, lying naked in a bathtub. A gray-haired man sat at one edge of the tub, placing wires on her head.

“Where’s Mary?” Sarah said, her lips trembling from the cold.

“Mary’s gone till we’re done, Sarah. I’m Dr. Aston. I’m here to help you get better.”

“I’m—I’m cold.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve been doing this for years. It’ll be painless and quick.”

Dr. Aston got up, turned on the faucets and waited till the tub was full. Then he walked over to the machines lined up against the wall, he flipped on a few switches and got out of the room.

Sarah could almost see electricity sparking from one end of the cord to the one attached to her head for the third time since Dr. Aston had left her boil all alone. The fourth time, the door opened just a crack. She saw a hand fumbling at the wall; she heard the click of the light switch, and then the little spark of light in the bulb faded out and darkness took over the room.

Sarah began convulsing again. The power moved from her head, through her body, to her toes and then up again for the fifth time. She couldn’t tell when, but the spasms stopped and she stayed floating in the water, tense as a corpse. She lay still in the cold water, her heart thumping in her chest, until she heard footsteps.

“Dr. Aston?” she said.

When her voice’s echo died down, the room got dead silent. She splashed around, making her first attempt to get out of that liquid grave, but just as she was about to lift herself up someone grabbed her out of nowhere, clasping his hands around her neck. Her head hit against the bottom of the tub. She struggled to get free, fighting until her last breath was nothing but immersing bubbles.

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