Passages 1


Passages 2




sffworld blog

The White Picket Gate


Kaimi Conner sat looking at his computer display, the last words of a story shining out at him.: “When he turned back to the little Korean lady, her glass was empty and she was gone.” He had typed those words and, as he thought about the story, he thought to himself that seemed as much as could he say about that topic. Astonishingly, the line summed up his thoughts. Her glass was empty; she was done. His turn.

He looked at the note posted on his bulletin board, the series of questions he’d written down. Not one grabbed him. It was as if writing about martini-soaked olives had made all the other questions irrelevant placing him at an end point.

“No,” he thought, “not an end point, simply a milestone on the path to be trod.”

On the screen, the display changed. A meadow came into view, lush, vibrant, living under a brilliant sun and a magnificent blue sky absent even the suggestion of fleece. From the speakers came a familiar voice, “hey, over here,” it commanded and a little hand appeared at the right side of the screen waving a come on to Conner. Depressing the right arrow on the key board moved the focus so the rest of the gnome joined its hand on the screen. “Do some more,” the gnome said. When Conner depressed that right arrow a few more times, a fence appeared behind the gnome, a white picket fence. Behind the fence, the scenery may have been as lush as it was on this side but nothing Conner could do would bring that territory into focus.

“That’d it be a virtual tour, laddy, and you know the rules. You pays the price of admission afore you get admitted.” The gnome smiled but his smile had iron behind it.

“But, I answered the question,” Kaimi protested, knowing as he did that one answer to one question would never resolve the puzzle that had brought him here in the first place. The gnome did not deign to respond; he simply peered out from the display with an air of infinite patience.

“What was it, Arien asked?” Kaimi thought.  Absently, he depressed the right arrow key, the view on the screen behind the gnome shifting in response until a gate came into view. This gate was bland, a mere continuation of the fence between two posts. Nothing auspicious, nothing grand, nothing inspiring; just a gate to be crossed, a little latch holding in it place. The latch brought the answer to his thought. “Face,” he told himself, “the acronym.”

His fingers moved the cursor to the task bar at the bottom of his screen where he selected “martini-soaked olives” causing the display to revert to the word processing software, the last lines of that story still illuminated.   He used the cursor to command a fresh document and his fingers danced on the keys…..