Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Category: Imaginary Page 1 of 4

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.”

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.”

Remedies at Medicine Park

In the season two premiere of Tales Unveiled, Sam Saxton meets with Detective Valerie James to follow up with what he discovered in the underground tunnels. A few months later, Professor Geoff DeRoot calls Sam about some stories about Medicine Park that might relate to their experience.

The two travel to the Oklahoma resort town where they interview Colleen Meridon of the Blue-Eyed Coyote Guest House; Gary Gregory of Discover Medicine Park Oklahoma; and Penny Sanders and Gini Lansden at The Branded Bear.

Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We would like to thank our guests for sharing their stories with us: Colleen Meridon of the BlueEyed Coyote Guest House; Gary Gregory of Discover Medicine Park Oklahoma; and Penny Sanders and Gini Lansden at The Branded Bear.

This episode also featured the voice talents of Kristy Boone as Detective Valerie James.

Also a special thanks to Commonplace Books in Oklahoma City for hosting the detective meeting scene.

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you get your podcasts. New episodes every Friday!

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to all my various shows.

Death and Coffee

This short story was inspired by the following writing prompt:

“As you are sitting at your favorite café drinking your coffee, at the window and across the street, you see Death approaching, probably for you. Turns out the café just has really good coffee.”

Janet had seen all kinds of weirdness since opening Humming Bird Coffee in the art-centric town of Norman six years ago. On every holiday the citizens went all out. For Halloween, downtown businesses filled the streets with giant inflatables. For Mardi Gras, which wasn’t a major holiday for the region, people gathered in the cold winter night to have a circling parade. However, no holiday could top the popularity of the city’s very own free music festival.

For the Norman Music Festival, it was common to see people in elaborate outfits to promote bands or dance with them on stage. However, Janet had never seen a costume complicated as the one that stood before her. For starters, it was nine feet tall. She wasn’t sure how she missed it entering her coffee shop. It was as if it had simply appeared. The figure wore a hooded robe of dirt that moved along it like ocean waves. Its body was of a human skeleton with a pair of arctic, soul-sucking spheres of blue light that flickered as if on fire. It even smelled like bones to Janet.

“Hi, what can I get you?” Janet asked.

Death paused, starring at Janet to see if she was referring to him. “You can see me?”

“Of course. I like your costume. Are you with one of the bands?”

“No, I’m here for the General,” Death said.

“The General?”

The General was not a person, but the nickname for the beast of a coffee machine that Janet found at a flea market and rebuilt. Her employees often joked that the device had a mind of its own and that it liked Janet the best.

“Of course. That’s why everyone comes here,” Janet said as she patted the General.

“Do you share a special bond with this General?”

“My staff teases me that I do.”

“That must explain why you can see me.”

There was a seriousness in Death’s tone that made Janet think of her bother who took his own life.

Janet reached for Death’s hand. “Yes, I can see you. Everyone can see you. Look, I know we don’t know each other, but if you need someone to talk to, I can connect you with someone who can help you.”

“Who are you talking to, Janet?” Mick said, giving her a confused look.

“I’m talking to this fellow,” Janet answered, pointing at nothing Mick could see.

“There’s no one there.”

“Hey, don’t say that!” Janet snapped.

“Janet,” Death said firmly. Janet turned and faced him. “He cannot see me for I am Death.”

Death raised his arms and time paused for all but Janet and himself as the room filled with darkness.

“Oh my god. Is it my time?”

“No,” Death said, annoyed. “I told you, I’m here for the General.”

“But the General is just a coffee machine…”

“No, I’m not, Janet.”

Janet spun around. Standing before her was her beloved coffee machine in an impish form.

“How?” was all Janet could say.

“I was the leader of a robot rebellion on Yellow Planet when I was severely damaged in a battle and got caught in a temporal attack that sent me to Earth, where you found me. You brought me a peaceful life, and that was all I ever wanted.”

Death walked through the counter and picked up the General in his arms. “I apologize for the false scare. Don’t worry, Janet. I don’t foresee visiting you personally anytime soon.”

The General saluted Janet. “It has been a privilege making coffee with you.”

Together, Death and the General floated down through the ground, taking the darkness with them, returning light and time.

“Janet,” Mick called out, waving his hands in front of Janet. “Are you okay?”

Janet looked around. Death was gone. Everything was normal, for Norman. She turned to her coffee machine, which was still there, but the lights were out.

The New Trail in the Woods

The New Trail in the Woods – Un-true Stores. True Imaginations.

Un-true Stores. True Imaginations. is an ASMR style story series where I go to random places and whisper made up stories. For today’s story, I visited Sutton Wilderness to tell The New Trail in the Woods.

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