Archive for the calamities Category

A Custodian’s duties.

Posted in calamities, deal with the Devil, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on April 5, 2015 by davidburtonwriting

I haven’t posted for quite awhile, so with a new book, a new novella and a much revised short story out I thought I’d make it hard on myself and start my What If? Blog again.

We’ll see how that works out.

As some of you know, besides being a writerclick here to check that outI’m also a night Custodian (that’s Janitor to those uninformed about the proper nomenclature, you, of course, knew that) at a High School. Now you might think cleaning toilets, mopping floors, and picking up trash is mundane, yucky work. janitor5woman

Well, in can be, but, every time you go into a student bathroom that was sparkly clean twenty-four hours ago it’s an adventure. You never know what you’ll find!

janitor4However, us dedicated custodians do have other duties. Even those at a grammar school. Here’s a short little story to illustrate. What If? man?

The Custodian

The Custodian checked his blue cart in the custodial closet of Grace Glass Elementary School. He secured a trash can on the cart’s front platform, checked for trash bags, paper towels, rags and a couple spray bottles. Besides the usual supplies he set a paper bag with a heavy package inside on top of the cart. He flipped off the light and rolled outside into a quiet evening, students long gone.

Covered walkways accessed all the school’s classrooms. He collected trash from the teacher’s lounge, and the work room. Stopping outside the administration offices, a door opened and Principal Sanchez, a pretty middle-aged Hispanic woman, came out.

He smiled and nodded.

She returned his smile. “Have a good night.” She regarded the paper bag. “Is that…?”

Smile gone, he nodded again.

She gripped his well muscled arm. “Be careful.” She walked out the main gate, and he locked it behind her.

The custodian trashed the offices and the classrooms beyond then worked his way through the classrooms of two other long, single-story buildings. Beyond those were four square buildings with four classrooms each. In room 7 of D building, he blocked the door open and flipped on one set of lights. After dumping the trash, he retrieved a stepladder from an interior hallway and set it up in the middle of the room.

From the cart he brought the paper bag and set it on top of the ladder. He mounted the ladder and slid one of the ceiling tiles aside.

At the edge of his vision he noted a hint of movement. He ignored it. Closer, another hint, joined by childish chitter-chatter. Closer, from another direction, childish whispers. “Stop him. Bad man. Don’t do it, Mister. Hurt him. Stop.”

The Custodian ignored the voices and pulled a homemade bomb out of the bag and set it inside the ceiling.

No. No. Stop him. Hurt him.”

The ladder shook for no discernible reason. He steadied himself until the shaking stopped. ladder2

Ladder returned, he turned out the lights, shut the door. In the trash he noticed a comic book. Its title, Invasion from Space!” He shook his head and rolled his eyes at the absurdity of it. Flipped it into the trash.

The next night, another trash run and another paper bag. Inside Room 8, more chitter-chatter and excited laughter. He set up the ladder, slid aside a ceiling tile and placed another bomb. He jerked his hand out. A scorpion hung from his hand by its stinger. Ignoring the chittering laughter, with only a slight wince, he plucked it off and tossed it back into the ceiling.

Next night, Room 9, another bomb. He descended the ladder and stepped on a large stuffed animal that wasn’t there when he went up. He fell backward, barely missing a teacher’s desk. A computer monitor moved with jerky movements to the edge and fell. The Custodian caught it inches from his face.

Monitor replaced, he continued on his steady rounds.

Another night. The Custodian lounged in his tiny office eating a sandwich and reading a gun magazine. Principal Sanchez peeked in the open door.

Have a good night. Be careful.”

Their eyes connected with hidden meaning. He nodded gravely. Waved one finger.

Lips tight, she nodded back and left.

On his usual trash rounds he noticed a flickering light in classroom 8. Wary, he opened the door.

One interior wall contained a ten foot diameter black hole. Deep inside, as if in a curved, downward slanting tunnel, reddish light cast vague dancing shadows.

The chitter-chatter became more excited as the light brightened and the clank of weapons increased. “Yess. Yess. He comes. Finally, he comes. We will rule. We will kill. We will eat.”

In the tunnel, the silhouette of a huge, grotesque creature marched up the wall. Janitormonster1

The Custodian breathed deep, nodded, and closed the door. Walking away, he took a cell phone from his pocket. With his thumb, he dialed a number. Hit send. There was a faint sound of a cell phone chirp.

BOOM! The interior of classroom 8 flashed a blast of white light, the explosion totally contained inside. Mixed with the blast, an unearthly scream of pain and anger.

Lips forming a minimal smile of satisfaction, the Custodian continued his rounds.                                 Janitor3

See, it’s not all scraping gum or setting up chairs.

Cheers.

My Earth, All Mine

Posted in calamities, Destruction, Disasters, Disasters, End of the world, Loners, Losers, Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, solitary life, story ideas, Story Subjects, Uncategorized, Writing, Young Adult book with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2013 by davidburtonwriting

“Happy Holidays?”  Had enough merriment and good cheer? Tired of  “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year?” Too much generosity and good cheer for you? How about some doom and gloom? This is the time when loners feel their lonesome the most. Give them a little love.

So there’s loners and there’s LONERS. What if you were in the latter group and you didn’t want to be just left alone in your cabin in the woods or your little apartment in the city. You wanted to be the only human on Earth. How would you go about it?earthmine

You’d want to consult with Gaia first. I’m sure she’d be glad to be rid of the human pests, but you wouldn’t want to piss her off by screwing with her plans for us, would you?

I’m not talking about evil super villains who want to have all the money and rule the world.  They need people to lord it over. The same with religious fanatics. They need people to listen to them preach doom and gloom, fire and brimstone, and you’d better have sex with me or God’s going to be mad at you. And political despots. They need somebody to enslave, harangue, and be paranoid about. Without people they’re just crazy dudes ranting at themselves.

The main problem of eliminating humans from the planet is getting rid of them without killing yourself. What good is having a planet of your own if you’re too dead to enjoy it? Inciting a nuclear war probably isn’t so easy now days. And if you could, say, obtain the launch codes for all the missiles in the US or Russia and set them all off and create a full on nuclear winter killing most everything that lives, that doesn’t sound very agreeable. If you’re going to be alone, having warm, secluded beaches or pleasant woodland walks would be a necessity. Whether 8 billion people crowd the planet or none, what difference would it make if you’re shut in your bomb shelter for the next 1000 years?

Mosquitoes are your friends. They inhabit all the earth except Antarctica. They infect hundreds of millionsmosie1 and kill millions every year. All you’d have to do is cook up a big batch of a human specific virus or bacteria, infect  a few million mosquito eggs, and distribute them around some of the busiest airports. Within days of hatching, your personal little pandemic would have spread throughout the world. Then, all you’d have to do is sit back with your beach towel and umbrella in hand and wait for the beach to clear out. Assuming you thought to immunize yourself against your private plague.

Or, you might want to learn how to sail before hand. Once you let the little monsters loose a long cruise into the ocean while the sun, bacteria, insects, and animals dispose of the dead would be nice. If you’re smart, and watched too many horror movies, you made sure that the dead stayed dead.  It wouldn’t do to come back to shore and bezombieblog2 greeted by a few billion hungry Zombies. That could be just as bothersome as a few billion regular folks. Vampires could be a problem. There’re already dead and they’d be really hungry. Better stock up on holy water, silver bullets and learn how to use a svampblogword.

Of course, with humans gone the world will start fixing all the damage we’ve done to it. This includes the return of wildlife. I imagine Bigfoot will sigh with relief not to have all those little humans stalking him with cameras. With small wildlife expansion comes the revival of the big predators; bears, big cats, wolves and the like. So, while you relax on that empty beach best keep an eye out. Those big cats only respect you for your food value, not your desire for solitude.catsblog4 wolfcatsblog2

IDEAS

What If? there really was (there probably is, tucked away in some government vault)  a virus/ bacteria that was capable of wiping humans from the planet? Then some group in a simple steal it/ransom it operation successfully steals it. But, just before they were to get their millions, one of their own, a stealth religious fanatic, steals it from them for his own highly misguided, God, Jesus, Mary Magdalene-told-me-to- do-it  cleanse the earth scheme. Suddenly the bad guys and the good guys have to work together to save all of humanity. Of course the good guy leader is an attractive woman, and the second in command bad guy is an attractive man (or vice versa) and they have to work together, close together.

What If? somebody did wipe humanity from the planet and  was enjoying their solitude when he/she came across a group of aliens intent on taking over the Earth. Well, he went to a lot of trouble to depopulate the world so now he has to fight the aliens for the planet.  He wins and once again enjoys his solitude when a group of astronauts who have been on a long space journey returns. Our single inhabitant sighs, “Can’t a guy get a little peace and quiet on his private beach?” A series for sure.beach2

What If? you were in a group of astronauts returning from a long mission and you found the only survivor of the Great Plague that wiped out humanity. You fight him at first, but he/she kidnaps one of your people and finally decides you can stay. But, the nasty bug is still around and the only way you will survive is if he gives you the vaccine, but it’s across the country and you may or may not have time to get there. Who will survive the journey? Surely not Adam and Eve – that would be too cheesy.

So, whether you’re a loner alone or a loner in a crowd find a bit of Christmas spirit and don’t vanish humanity, at least until after New Years.

Check out and share my first attempt at a book trailer for my story Heartbreak – http://youtu.be/NNLTJNUgYHs

My website (such as it is) with information on my books and stories is: http://dcburtonwriting.wordpress.com

Feel free to comment and Please share.

dcburtonjr@gmail.com

Hey, Gaia, how hot is it?

Posted in calamities, Disasters, Gaia, Global Warming, Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, Uncategorized, Writing, Young Adult book with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by davidburtonwriting

Maybe it should be, how hot will it get? Whether you deny the reality or accept the fact – it’s getting hot outside. And I know why. Well, we all know why, hydrocarbons, human inventiveness, cow farts, all that. But why is all that and more making the Earth hotter every year? Because we have an enemy whose sole aim is to destroy humanity.

The enemy is not aliens bent on making Earth uninhabitable for humans so they can move in because they need a new planet and Earth looks pretty good except for the 7 or 8 billion pesky humans running around taking up valuable real estate.  And  they already made their own planet hot and uninhabitable, and know how to do it so what chance do we have? No, not them.

Nor is it some supernatural entity who wants to make the surface of the Earth available for all demon kind who are tired of living down under. (Not you Australia, farther down) Of course, even among the average Joes and Janes of the supernatural entity masses there will be some who resist change (meaning they would have to accept logic and facts) no matter how good it might be for the people as a whole, or their descendants. Though some might think differently if the Greenhouse Gas oven we are building cooks the humans to a delectably putrid state. Yum. No, not them, either.

No, it’s Gaia (that’s the Earth in case you missed that day in your mythological geology class because you had to spend half the night before figuring out how to update your Facebook status from straight and sober to a loosey goosey high, and back)  herself. I have it on no particular authority that long ago Gaia recognized that humans would be bad for her so she put together a short (in geological time) plan. She knew, with the prescience of 5 million years experience,  that in a few thousand years even though the new hairy beasts only used two feet instead of four, they’d leave a BIG messy footprint.

So she created oil (you do not want to know where that really came from – zooplankton,  algae, dinosaurs, leaves and twigs? Oh please.) figuring they’d figure out how to burn the stuff irresponsibly, causing the atmosphere to heat to uninhabitable levels. Then, in a short 5000 years or so, they’d all die off from flooding, famine, heat stroke, wars for the few remaining resources, or high temperature viruses and bacteria;  or figure out how to leave the planet altogether. Either way, what does she care, peace and quiet at last.

IDEAS

What if you were an astronaut and were sent to Mars with the idea of moving all the remaining humans to that cool red land? There, you meet the God of Mars, Gaia’s younger brother who she tormented endlessly when they were young just forming planets. Mars realizes what you are planning and wants nothing to do with an invasion of immigrants. He also knows some of Gaia’s secrets and sees a payback opportunity. So you make a deal; Mars will spill his secrets and help you return Earth to a habitable state, if humans stay away. You, being a shrewd wheeler-dealer, negotiate the rights to develop one crater as a resort. What a deal. Except we all know what happens when you let a few humans in the door.

What if Gaia has a brain? And you find it while lost deep in a cavern. But the brain is under attack by a virus that had mutated due to the excessive heat on the surface, and even Gaia can not control it. If the brain dies, the power of Gaia dies and the Earth will spin apart destroying all. But, you are a doctor and you cure Gaia’s brain fever. You also convince her that some humans respect the Earth and deserve to live. Grateful, Gaia agrees, but a limited number only,  one billion, the rest must go. She gives you the power to choose. You must mark the areas – cities, states, countries, islands, continents  – for destruction, or all will be destroyed. How do you choose?  Who do you choose? Do you choose? Will absolute power corrupt you absolutely? Will humanity, a billion of them, anyway, be saved? Will you be seen as villain or hero?

No matter how crispy it gets outside, keep your cool and think about why it’s so hot. Then do something about it.

I’m hot under the collar, (or would be if I wore shirts with collars)those people put another of my stories up in their little contest. This is my first and final plea – Please vote for An Accidental Vampire at www.voteformyebook.com. It’s hot!

What a Disaster!

Posted in calamities, Disasters, Disasters, Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Story Subjects, Water, Writing with tags , , on May 8, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Disasters happen everyday everywhere. Some affect hundreds, thousands, millions, maybe even billions for those who believe (rightly) in global warming and look ahead a few years. Some disasters are small – Nobody is reading my blog, AArrrgg!  Some are huge  – earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes/cyclones.

Disasters come in all sizes, just check under disaster in a thesaurus.

How a disaster affects you,  is a personal matter. Of course we all feel for the people of Haiti, but does it affect you more than an accident that requires surgery  you can’t afford? How much caring can you spare for flood victims when in order to survive a disease you have to declare bankruptcy and lose your house? Thousands lose loved ones to wars and natural calamities, but if the one you love leaves you, breaking your heart, which tragedy is the one that consumes you?

Potential disasters of global proportions are always waiting in the wings for their entrance. There’s that old chestnut –  the asteroid heading right toward us. Not worried about that? Ask the dinosaurs, if you can find one. Global warming is a certainly a threat, but who’s going to worry about slowly rising sea levels after a 50 mile wide asteroid plunges into the ocean ( Talk about your tsunamis!) and causes a new 1000 year ice age. At least the poor overfished fish would have time for a comeback.

The only plague, flu, epidemic, pandemic we (you and me, of course, would survive any disaster) might have to worry about after the cleansing rock from space, or was that from God, would be a Zombie plague, assuming they could swim. I wonder what would happen to the Zombies if they ate all the living people. Would they starve to life? Eat each other until the last Zombie standing raised its boney arms to strains of the Rocky theme? I’ll leave that to the philosophers.

Space has several other misfortunes to offer: Our sun going nova, a distant sun going nova so we have plenty of time to attempt a getaway, aliens blowing up the Earth to make way for a new interspace highway – oops, we already went through that, aliens that want to wipe us out just because we’re here, lots of little asteroids, the pissed off ghosts of all history’s innocent victims tired of wandering around space wanting payback, or the soul of a planet ruined by its inhabitants coming to save the Earth from  its unappreciative inhabitants, among other things weirder than we can imagine.

IDEAS

What if  the Earth became so crowded,  and our (or our alien friends) technology became so sophisticated we could slowly move the moon closer and closer to Earth until it gently touched us. How would you like to be a first settler? How would this affect our orbit, our gravity, our atmosphere?

What if aliens did wipe out all the people on earth, except for you, me, and a small group of miscellaneous others. We had no hope of defeating them so the plan was to somehow steal a ship and escape to…. How would we do it? Would we find alien “friends,”  be  ignored, be chased to be put in a zoo, be put on display, then using our animal friends, escape? Maybe we’d escape and meet up with enemies of our enemies and help them wipe out the new Earth tenants and as a reward we get the planet back?

Surely there’s room for one more asteroid-is-going-to-hit-the-earth story. Maybe this time there is a secret government project that wants this particular rock to hit the Earth. A CONSPIRACY! Yes! But A rival group wants to prevent the hit. What is the reason for wanting the collision? Who’s idea was it? (All the conservatives could have a field day blaming Obama, no matter which side he was on.) Who prevails and what happens whether it does or doesn’t happen? And what if when the asteroid hit you lived in a lab 50 feet underwater, and suddenly you were 500 feet down and the shock had opened a volcanic vent close to you so you were going to get baked, boiled or poached if you didn’t escape. Where’s Dirk Pitt when you need him?

What if  the Zombies did take over and ate everybody? Then some alien researchers arrived and wrote a report titled – A History of the  Zombie Occupation of Earth and How It Died (or, How it Thrived)?

What if there was a local epidemic of some kind and the area was domed or force fielded over. Unfortunately you were in the area, fortunately that area covered the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory or JPL or Stark Industries. Unfortunately you were never going to be let out, though you now posed no threat.  What’s a bunch of pissed off brainiacs in one of the most advanced laboratories in the universe to do?

What if the disaster was closer to home.  Your spouse or child is attacked, gravely injured, maybe paralyzed or dying. They needed some sort of transplant and it appeared that the attacker was the only viable donor.  How far would you go, what sort of deal would you make, how much of your conscience would you ignore, what, or who, would you sacrifice to find the attacker and take what was needed to save your loved one? And what would your spouse or child think of what you did?

What if there was a local disaster and the only people available to help were inmates, all set free by the flood, fire, earthquake, at a prison close to a small town.  Who would step up, and save/change civilian lives, and maybe their own?

Tragedy or not, I’m off to my bomb shelter in a deep cave. Will you be here when I come out again?

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