Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Five Minutes Ago

A jogger is out on a run, paranoid someone is following, only to discover her stalker is herself in this week’s prompted short story.

A jog in a forest was what the doctor would’ve ordered. Gia needed this escape after the audience from her last production tried to kill her for ridiculing their corrupt ruler. She paused for a moment to soak in the partly cloudy skies, a comforting summer breeze, and the fact that there was no around for miles. The latter was vital because her black leggings and sports bar were not appropriate for the 514 C.E. time.

Not far, there was a loud crack of a broken branch. Gia studied a large, fallen redwood tree for any possible dangerous animals. She thought she heard a voice too, but when nothing emerged, she shrugged it off and continued her jog.

“I’m getting paranoid,” Gia said to reassure herself.

Humans weren’t supposed to discover this portion of land for at least a few hundred years. No one could be there. It was only her. Still, she couldn’t shake off the feeling someone was following her. The trail was thick with twists and turns, adding to her paranoia.

Gia made a sharp turn off the trail and doubled back, keeping an eye on the route she had taken in case someone was following her. The seconds in the four minutes of intense investigation felt like pine needles always poking her. In her journey back, she came across the fallen tree, where she first thought someone was watching her.

As she positioned herself behind the tree, she lost her footing and broke a thick branch in half. She cursed under her breath, but caught herself and shifted her persona to a spy character hiding from enemy forces. 

A moment later, she heard a voice, “I’m getting paranoid.”

Gia crept her head over the redwood.

Jogging along the trail was herself from five minutes ago.

Gia stood up. “This isn’t good. I must be caught in a localized loop, but what’s causing the contamination? It has to be close.”

Gia leaped over the tree and followed her past self down the trail. When she came to the spot where she made the detour to go back, she discovered a set of paw prints. She kneed down to study them.

“These look like lion prints, but they’re not native to these parts.”

As Gia reached for her back pocket, a sneaker hit her on the head. With one hand, she rubbed her head and inspected the show with the other. When she recognized it, she looked up in the sky to herself held by sphinx flying below the treetops. 

“I guess I found the contamination,” the Gia on the ground said.

“You found it?” the Gia in the sky snapped. “I found it first.”

“What is going on here?” the sphinx demanded.

The version of Gia in its grasp answered, “We’re trapped in a micro temporal loop because you don’t belong here.”

“I’ve been here for years!”

“Have you noticed the changing of the seasons?”

The sphinx landed on the ground and released its Gia. The two Gia’s hugged, causing a radiant yellow light that caused the sphinx to cover her eyes with her paw temporarily. When the light subdued, only one Gia stood.

“I hate the headache that brings,” Gia mumbled to herself.

“What just happened?” the sphinx asked.

“My people can merge themselves whenever there’s been a loop,” Gia explained. “It causes an annoying headache as the duplicate memories sort themselves out. But enough about me. Let’s get you home, friend.”

This short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You’re out for a jog and you can’t shake the feeling that someone is following you. It started off as an inkling, but now the idea has consumed your thoughts. As you reach the crosswalk, you wheel around and confront your stalker. It’s you, from five minutes ago.”

Venita Cooper of Silhouette Sneakers - photo by Dennis Spielman

Silhouette Sneakers & Art

For my first proper Uncovering Oklahoma episode for 2020, I traveled to Tulsa where I interviewed Venita Cooper of Silhouette Sneakers & Art. Silhouette is a retail experience where fashion, art, and community converge. In my interview with Venita, she shared the story behind her passion for sneakers and her goals of becoming an inclusive space in Tulsa.

As part of my goal to improve the quality of my episodes this year, for the first time, I’ve released this video in 10-bit 4K HDR HLG. In the past, I’ve typically released episodes in 8-bit 1080p SDR as 4k felt like overkill, plus it allowed me to crop the video without losing quality. This year, I’m also doing interviews with at least two cameras. There are new graphics to go with the new year. Basically, I wanted to flex my skills and be better so I hope you enjoy.

Visit Silhouette Sneakers for yourself at 10 North Greenwood Avenue Suite C (facing Archer) in Tulsa or their website at

Thank you to my supporters on Patreon for helping to make Uncovering Oklahoma possible! Big thanks to superstar supporters: Lynn and Steve Keller-Kenton Family and Revolve Productions.

The Argument at Mercury Theatre

This week’s short story is under 500 words and is inspired by the following writing prompt: “Two time travelers meet in the past and end up getting in an argument about history, unaware that their conversation is being listened to.”

Gia worked on catching her breath as Kojack slammed shut his purple, free-standing door. Across from his door in an office was a green door that belonged to Gia.

“Let’s go back in time to the first bull running,” Gia said in a mocking tone. “It will be fun, he said.”

“It was fun until you tried to direct the bulls,” Kojack snapped back.

Gia didn’t respond. Kojack saw the hurt in her expression. He knew she was trying to become a great director, so he changed the subject. “When and where are we?”

Gia pulled out a tablet from her muddy red dress. “Wednesday, October 26, 1938. The Mercury Theatre.”

“Anything interesting about this place?”

“Anything interested?” Gia said, offended. “This is Mercury Theatre! Why in a few days, they’re going to perform the War of the Worlds radio drama, and that show was one for this planet’s history books.”

“What was so remarkable about this show?”

“The public reaction. You see, Howard Kock was trying to adapt the novel of the same, but Howard was having trouble making it interesting or credible as a radio drama. Then Orson Wells gets inspired by this other program on the Columbia Workshop. They adapt the story by using real people and places for the alien invasion. They even add lots of eyewitness accounts and news breaks to create urgency and excitement, giving the show incredible realism.”

Kojack could tell from Gia’s bright smile how passionate she was about the arts. Getting her to talk about the radio drama got her mind off the mess that was their previous adventure. He smiled back at her.

“Where to now?” Kojack asked. 

“There’s this food truck festival in 2011 that didn’t seem like much at the time, but sparks this whole big movement. I figured we should take a break and get something to eat.”

“Sounds good.”

Gia and Kojack opened their doors, went inside, and when closed, they blinked out of existence like they were never there.

Off in the corner of the room, hidden from sight behind props and costumes, sat Howard Koch, Frank Froelick, and Orson Welles.

Howard turned to Orson, breaking their silence. “I thought you didn’t get a chance to listen to Columbia Workshop today?”

“I didn’t,” Orson softly replied, his mind racing with thoughts from what transpired. “But we should do want they said.”

Showmen’s Rest in Hugo

“A tribute to all showmen under God’s big top,” Showmen’s Rest is a cemetery plot dedicated to circus performers. In 1960, D.R. Miller purchased a section of the Mount Olivet Cemetery to memorialize his sister, Kelly Miller, and other circus performers.

Hugo earned the nickname “Circus Town, USA” as it was a popular winter headquarters for traveling circuses starting back in the 1930s. You can find Showmen’s Rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, Oklahoma. The section is outlined with elephant monuments.

I shot this footage back in November on our way home from my wife and I’s anniversary trip in Broken Bow. We passed through Hugo to check the cemetery as it’s been on my list to visit for a long time. I wasn’t sure what to do with the videos as I didn’t have any interviews to go with them, so I made a one-minute introduction primer story for social media. Over at Uncovering Oklahoma, I included some photos as well as stories by others for those that want more information.

The Red Cube Decision

This prompted short-story is inspired by the idea, “You’re scrolling through social media, like usual, until the screen goes black, it goes black on all your friends’ phones too. A pale man in a dark room is showed speaking on the screen, ‘Thank you, I’ve received all the information I need, Goodbye.'”

“Are we in agreement?”

Mya stood over her two best friends who huddled together around the concrete table and bench. They sat together in silence, thinking over Mya’s proposition, as the cube at the center simply emitted a gentle pulsating red light. Each side of the solid red cube was a couple of inches long. There were no ports, holes, or any way to open it. They tried and even tried to break, but it wouldn’t crack or get any scratches. Joining the cube on the table were their packed lunches and phones. 

Omar adjusted his black cuffed beanie sporting the logo of a podcast reporting local ghost stories to cover his ears from the November chill better. He would instead prefer to have lunch inside the cafeteria. Still, he understood why Mya wanted the privacy to meet outside their high school.

The cube jumped into the air a few inches. All three of them jumped when the cube did.

Emma adjusted her gold metal glasses. “The cube is becoming more active and brighter.”

“I can’t believe that thing is still glowing,” Cooper commented. “It should’ve drained its batteries by now. We’ve had it for almost a month now.”

“Are we in agreement with showing this to Mr. Haines after school?” Mya repeated. 

The cube jumped again. When it landed, it was slightly bigger.

“Did it just grow?” Omar asked.

Emma pulled out a small measuring tape from her lime-green backpack and measured the cube. “Omar is corrected. It’s five millimeters larger than yesterday. It’s almost twelve centimeters.”

“Okay, I think we should show it to our science teacher,” Omar admitted.

“Yeah, we should see what Mr. Haines thinks,” Emma agreed.

“Then we agree,” Mya said as she sat down on the bench. “After school, we show him the cube.”

A pale man in a dark suit, in a dark room, appeared on all of their phone screens, facing the camera.

“Thank you,” the unknown man spoke with a raspy crackle. “I’ve received all of the information I need. Goodbye.”

All their screens went back to black.

After a moment, Emma was the first to speak. “That was weird.”

“Yeah,” Mya agreed.

The three of them tried to turn their phones back on, but couldn’t.

“Can anyone get their phone back on?” Mya asked.

“No luck,” Emma said.

“Ditto,” Omar added. “This has to be some sort of prank, right?”

“By who?” Mya retorted.

Omar shrugged. The cube hopped, but this time no one flinched.

“I’m starting to think we should’ve thrown this back through that purple crack at the lake,” Emma commented. “This has to be alien tech.”

“There’s no such thing as aliens,” Mya retorted.

“No such thing as glowing purple cracks, but we saw one of those,” Omar snapped.

“Let’s not fight,” Emma said, jumping in to prevent an escalation. Both Mya and Omar apologized. “Good. It’s my turn to keep watch of it, so I’ll put it in my locker until after school.”

The other two agreed and continued with their lunch. 

Mya always wondered why Mr. Haines was still teaching classes. For starters, Mya would never admit to anyone, but she thought he was way too good looking to be a teacher. Then there was the fact that he had a popular science show with millions of followers online. She knew he had to be making way more money from his channel than he did as a teacher in one of the lowest-paid states. Though today she was grateful that she had someone brilliant and caring, she could talk to about something so bizarre.

All of the students from the final class had left when Omar and Emma joined Mya outside Mr. Haines’ door. Emma’s backpack bounced, catching Mya’s attention.

“It’s been rambunctious,” Emma explained. “Let’s get inside.”

The three of them went inside as their teacher cleaned the foamy mess from today’s science demonstration. Omar closed the door behind them and locked it. 

“Hey, Mya, Emma, and Omar,” Mr. Haines greeted. “What brings you here?”

“Pull it,” Mya whispered to Emma.

“Oh, right,” Emma said, caught off guard.

Emma sat down her backpack, pulled out the red cube, and sat it down on the table. It sat on the table for a moment with no one saying a word until it bounced up, a few feet high.

“That’s cool,” Mr. Haines praised. “Did you make this?”

“No,” Mya confessed, then she began to ramble. “We found it about a month ago. We can’t seem to open it or break it, and it’s always been active. We figured its batteries should’ve died out by now, but it hasn’t and seems to be getter bigger.”

Mr. Haines rubbed his chin in thought as he studied the cube. “By any chance, did this come out of a purple crack?”

The three students were all taken by their science teacher’s exact guess.

“Yes,” Emma said with slight hesitation. “We found it at Lake Thunderbird, collecting specimens for your assignment when it popped out a purple crack on a tree.”

The cubed jumped, but when it landed, it changed shape to a six-legged spider-like robot.

“The prince has been born,” the pale man announced from the back of the classroom. Everyone turned their attention away from the robot to stranger, who made his approach. “I’ve been hired by the 9S Family to retrieve their child that has ended up on Earth.”

“You heard the man. Give them their kid back,” Mr. Haines ushered.

Mya picked up the baby robot and handed it to the pale man.

“Thank you for watching over the child,” the pale man said, taking the robot.

The door burst open, unbroken, with a short, buzz-cut female police officer. Emma shrieked. The officer’s name tag read, “Mists.” She pointed her gun at the pale man. Omar put up his hand in reaction while Mya stood frozen. 

“You are an unauthorized visitor to Earth,” Mists ordered. “Step away from the children and come with me.”

“Officer Mists,” Mr. Haines addressed. “This person is simply retrieving a lost child that my students found. No need to panic.”

Mists took a good look around the room. She put away her weapon, creating a collective sigh of relief.

“I don’t know what’s going on here,” Omar spoke with a tremble.

“Don’t worry about it because you’ve been pranked,” their science teacher announced dramatically. 

“What,” Mya uttered, annoyed.

“Pranked! You see, I knew a bunch of my students would be at the lake that weekend, so I set up these contraptions to surprise them with these cubes. You’re the first to bring me one of them.”

“So the pale man,” Emma started to ask.

“Hiding in the closet,” Mr. Haines answered. “The robot is a new invention made by a friend, and the officer here is also a friend of mine. I hope you learned a valuable lesson in keeping secrets.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t suspect you,” Omar said, shaking his head in disbelief. 

“Now, head home and enjoy your weekend,” their teacher said, leading them out the door. He closed the door behind them and promptly turned to Mists. “I have never lied so fast and well in my life.”

“Should I wipe their memories?” Mists asked.

“No, I’m positive they bought that prank story. It’s not the first time I’ve pranked my students.”

“Very well,” Mists said and faced the pale man holding the robot. “Let’s get you two back to your planet.”

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