Evan Quinlan

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Almost to Fuji

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 28, 2010 at 9:54 pm

First Hillary and Norgay climbed Mount Everest and now this: another historic event.

The expedition left base camp at slack tide and continued up the northward ridge.  The change in atmospheric pressure had long become deadly for the climbers, who wore pressurized, solar-shielded suits only tested at elevations thousands of feet below their current position.  Finally, on a warm June afternoon, the party transcended the last layer of breathable atmosphere and emerged, triumphant, into the brave, new world above.

Hikaru screamed; just yards away what looked like large, robotic centipedes were crawling out of the ocean onto the Japanese shore.

The Great Puppeteer

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Harold set sail from England aboard the merchant ship Caribdis to follow his dream of studying puppetry in Venice.  Just hours into the voyage he began to notice the crew’s strange behavior: no one ever spoke (not even to each other), no one ever strayed more than a few feet from his post, and each man’s body moved queerly, as if he lacked control over his head and arms.  Only when Harold went below and saw the large tentacles rising through holes in the hull and main deck did he realize he had witnessed the greatest puppet show ever performed.


In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 24, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Nobody imagined that Aten might fall in love, but he did.  Each morning he burned for the Pharaoh’s daughter as she watched the clouds.  She’d never look directly at Aten, for her delicate princess’ eyes would find him uncomfortable to behold.  Yet when she gazed skyward, neck craning, Aten felt himself turning to stone for want of her.  Sometimes a petrified piece of him fell to Earth.  Once it cooled, the people would stand it outside the palace, its tip pointing toward Aten.  And each morning the princess would stand in its shadow, for she knew it had fallen for her.


The Slow and Silent Victor

In Drabbles, Fan Fiction, Fiction, Short Stories on October 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm

In the Green Park, London, a blue police box hovered just above the ground.  In its state of semi-materialization nobody below could see or even feel it.  But the box’s two occupants could see outside.  They watched as a tree grew rapidly before their eyes, sprouting from a sapling into a giant, black poplar.

“See how tenaciously it lives?”  Said the Fourth Doctor.  “How nothing—not the coming of war or famine—can divert it from its purpose?”

“My people revered such trees as great warriors,” said Leela, “for on many battlefields, they were the last to remain standing.”

The Doctor laughed.

That Magic Feeling

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Merlin couldn’t find his goddamn quill anywhere.  He’d searched all morning.  Blessed with the gift of foresight, he knew exactly where he’d leave it tomorrow.  Fat lot of good that did.  Shouldn’t he be able to predict where he’d find it five minutes from now?

“Looking for something?”  A voice purred.  Merlin turned to see a beautiful, naked woman at his bedchamber door.

“Sorry,” said Merlin.  “Long story short, my memory works in reverse.  Who are you?”


Merlin looked into his future and saw she would bring him darkness, betrayal, and eternal suffering.

“Ah,” he sighed.  “We’re married, huh?”

Fitts’ Law of Approachability

In Drabbles, Non-Fiction on October 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

In 1954 Paul Fitts proposed a law of human-computer interaction.  Fitts’ Law states that the time it takes for a person to access a control depends on its width and its distance from the person’s starting point.  Imagine mouse-clicking a tiny text link across your screen versus a huge button next to your cursor.  Which is faster?

Sometimes I wonder how easy I am to click.  Am I distant and narrow or nearby with a wide-open mind?  I hope the latter.  I want to be a big, green button that says “Click Here.”  I want Fitts to be proud of me.

The Big Score

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

“I’m tired of digging,” Swamper whined.

“If we don’t hide this thing, somebody’s going to eat it before we do,” Hillbuck said.

Swamper’s ears drooped.  “Can’t we just eat it now?”

“I think we need to boil it first.  Now hurry before somebody sees us with these shovels.”

Close by, the owner of Hank’s Produce peered out at the empty street corner where there was supposed to be a kid handing out samples.  Had the kid chased after those damned rabbits again?  Well, he’d better not ruin that promotional carrot costume he was wearing.  It had cost Hank a fortune.

Exeunt Falsity

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

On stage he possessed an uncanny quality of truth that massaged people’s ability to suspend disbelief.  He faded masterfully into the fabric of a play, his refined banality upstaged easily by more ambitious thespians.  But one skill made him famous: he could cry on cue.  How his tears touched those faces in the darkness!  He cried, too, in life to get his way and almost always succeeded.  Almost.  Tonight he shouldn’t have checked his text messages backstage.  She had seen through his act, shrewd girl, and now more than anything he wished he knew how to stop crying on cue.

When Mother Knew Best

In Drabbles, Fiction, Short Stories on October 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm

“Go outside!”  Zachary’s mother pulled aside purple curtains and gestured theatrically at the window.  From where he sat on the floor, Zachary could see blue sky.

“But Lost is on,” he protested.

“Television will rot your brain.  You need fresh air,” she said.

Years later, Zachary’s television lay in a heap next to the ceiling fan, on what used to be the ceiling but was now the floor.  Zachary gazed down at blue emptiness through the skylight at his feet.  A good thing he’d been inside when the Inversion happened.  In the end, rotting his brain had saved his life.