Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

A Forgettable Retrieval

A day in the life story following a skilled thief on the Red Planet whose bloodline has been cursed/blessed to be easily forgotten. 

“Put those back!”

“Sorry, but these belong to your ex,” I explained without making eye contact as I stuffed the last book in my backpack. “Maybe don’t cheat on her next time.”

The sasquatch huffed and marched to his kitchen. Despite the apartment’s open concept, going to the kitchen was enough to put me out of sasquatch’s sight. The moment he stepped on the white granite floor, the sound of his footsteps softened–no longer in a hurry to get a knife, I presumed.

I stood up and slung the backpack on. My standing caught the sasquatch’s attention.

“Hey, how did you get in?” he asked, confused.

“You let me in to get me some water,” I reassured with a lie. The truth was I had knocked and barraged my way inside for the books. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I don’t recall letting you in,” he accused in a weak tone, questioning both himself and me.

“You should go lay down,” I continued. “Don’t worry about the water. I’ll just see myself out.”

Playing it calm and casual, I walked over to the front door. That was a mistake. I should’ve kept my eyes on him because then I would’ve been able to dodge the knife he threw at me. I put one hand over the wound the blade made on my arm while I flung open the door and rushed out. It took serious willpower not to slam the door close, but I knew it was best to leave as discreetly as possible. Makes it easier for people to forget me. At least my blood was the same color was my crimson skin—no unwanted attention from bleeding all over myself.

Though I was outside the apartment, I wasn’t truly outside. Though, it was easy to forget you were in one of the Red Planet’s underground cities with all the plants and artificial lights.

What could I say about Amber Hallows? It was my home. The whole city was fundamentally a giant building. I practically knew every path, every slide, and every blind spot of the city’s ten levels. Except for the first level, which was well-maintained with shops and attractions for tourism, the deeper one went, the newer and more beautiful the level. Currently, I was strolling around the third floor, which was an older, more rustic section with mostly homes mixed with restaurants and grocery stores. Little to none in terms of art to cheer people. 

I took a slide down to the fifth level. Level 5 was my level, right in the center of the city. Upon standing up from the slide, a giant wrapping mural of random shapes warmly greeted me. A short walk later, I was in front of the door to my place. The door automatically slid open for me.

“Greetings, Ronvo,” Ibx welcomed as I stepped inside. “Was the retrieval a success?”

Ibx was the only one who could remember me—not counting my mother, Kira, of course. The anthropomorphic mechanical was explicitly programmed to remember us. According to the story passed down onto my mother, many generations ago, one of our arrogant ancestors was cursed by a god to be easily forgettable. This curse also included fading away from photos and recordings. Instead of being doomed, our ancestors embraced the imprecation, becoming assassins and thieves throughout time. My mother decided to make a pivot for good and only take jobs like retrieving stolen items. Ibx was our liaison for clients since people would forget they hired us.

“I got the books,” I answered as I dropped the backpack on the floor, revealing my wound at the same time.

“I see you’re injured,” Ibx pulled out the medical spray from the first-aid kit on the wall. “Have a seat.”

I sat down on the barstool in front of our kitchen counter. All the dishes had been cleaned and put away. My mother instilled a sense of cleanliness in me because a clean home was easier to tell if it had been disturbed. Ibx spayed the treatment on the wound, cleaning and healing the cut with a gentle tingle. It was hard to see a doctor, for whenever they left the room to get something, they would forget that they had a patient.

“Thank you, Ibx. Is my mother here?”

“No, Kira is currently out on another assignment.”

“Figures. Where do I deliver these books?”

“The client is located on Level 7. I’ll send the coordinates to your networker.”

“Fancy. I wonder what she was doing hooking up with someone on the third level.”

“She confided in me that she was curious.”

I stood up. “If I’m going to Level 7, I bet switch into something a bit trendier.”

“I would support that motion.”

After a quick wardrobe change into a stylish suit, I took a slide down to the seventh level. White and gold was a common motif in the art and architecture of the level. I preferred the more colorful artwork on the fifth level the best, but I liked this area’s cohesiveness.

I found the client, a female sasquatch in a white sundress, waiting on a park bench under a sprawling golden leaf tree. I stopped in front of her, with the books extended out to her.

“I believe these belong to you,” I introduced.

Her face lit up. “Thank you so much! I thought I would never get my books back.” She took the books and flipped through the pages, like revisiting with an old friend. She looked up at me. “Hi, there. Are you looking for someone?”

“Oh, no. I was just curious what you were reading,” I lied.

“Some old books of mine that my ex kept because he’s a cling. I just found them on this bench.”

I smiled. “Lucky you.”

Another happy client.

This week’s short story was inspired by this writing prompt: “A vain, self-absorbed ancestor pissed off a god and was cursed to have his bloodline fall into obsurity. Where ever you go people will forget you, images that capture you will fade, and your name dies on the tip of the tongue. A curse for most but a boon for a thief or assassin.”

For this story, I went on a sci-fi route and wrote about one of the underground cities of the Red Planet, which is part of the Five Following Planets. If I were to flesh this out into a book or write another story, I would revise the backstory to include the line, “My mother did warn that on the rare chance I encountered someone who could remember me to stay because they would bring nothing but trouble.” I didn’t want to include this for the story because you might expect Ronvo to encounter such a person.

Thank you for reading!

The Herculaneum Coin

During an archaeological dig, Hyria found an unusual coin that she shared of photo of on social media. By doing so, she attracted some unwanted attention, forcing her dog to reveal he can talk.

Snuggled warmly in layers of blankets, Hyria released a happy yawn. Her mother’s friends were gracious enough to provide her with a place to sleep while working on her research project nearby. She couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque location than the countryside house they had outside Naples, Italy. Plus, they were awesome enough to let her bring Ace, her black Labrador Retriever.

Hyria couldn’t bear to be without Ace. He was her “Ace up the sleeve” and always there to protector her. As for their origin story, she found him when he came to her aid when someone tried to mug her. She looked around the tiny, cozy guest room for her precious old boy.

“He must be outside,” Hyria shrugged as she flopped back on the bed.

For the first time in ages, her plans for the day were going to be laid-back. She needed the chill day. Following her mother’s career path, she had received a grant that allowed her to join the archeological dig at Herculaneum. The ancient city was on the western base of Mount Vesuvius, which was destroyed—together with Pompeii, Torre Annunziata, and Stabiae—by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 CE.

She didn’t find much during her excavation–mostly household items–but yesterday, she found a purple coin depicting a muscular man on both sides. Although she knew she shouldn’t, she pocked the relic. In her defense, she believed it was modern due to its mint condition and intricate detail. Still, to be positive, she shared a picture on social media, asking for background information. With the grant depleted, she hoped she would discover some great local food and wine during her free time before going home.

Curious if she had gotten any replies about the coin overnight, she stretched her arm out to her cellphone on the rustic seashell white wooden bedside dresser. Without sitting up, she woke up her phone. On the notification was a comment from her mother on the coin post.

“Delete this photo and call me ASAP!” the message read. 

Before she could swipe open her phone, Ace leaped on her bed, purposely stepped on her stomach, and got in her face.

“Okay, Ace,” Hyria groaned. “What do you want, boy?”

“Sorry, I know this is out of nowhere, and I thought we had more time, but we have to go.”

“Did-did, you just talk?” she stuttered.

“Yes, and we need to get going.”

Ace bit on the blankets and pulled them off Hyria. Hyria tossed on the clothes she had already set out for the day from the night before.

“Have you always been able to talk?” she questioned as she put on her jeans.


“Why, just now?”

“Your father didn’t want me too.”

“Wait,” she paused as she dropped her shirt over herself, “you mean my step-dad?”

“No, your biological father.”

“Henry? But he’s dead.”

“That’s not,” Ace started to correct but then stopped. “We need to get going.”

Hyria tied her shoelaces and stood up. “Lead the way.”

“You know that coin you kept for yourself?”

“I was going to return it,” she immediately defended.

“If you didn’t take it, I would’ve put it on your bag.”


“Now grab it and keep it in your hand. You might need its power.”

Ace ran out the door. Hyria pocked her cellphone and keys and grabbed the coin, which she held onto as requested. She chased Ace down the quiet wooden steps into the living room.

“There’s a lot you’re not telling me.”

“In due time,” Ace whispered as they ran to the front door.

They were alone. Hyria assumed her host family had already left for work or the market. Everyone came and went without much communication, which was kind of annoying but also kind of refreshing compared to her mother’s constant contact. Though now, she was starting to wonder what her mother hadn’t been telling her.

Hyria opened the front door. Ace bolted toward the car parked beside the house while Hyria closed the door behind. Locking the door wasn’t a concern. After all, they were in the middle of the countryside.

She ran to the car while Ace started to bark at the sky. Confused, she looked up as the wind raced around her. Floating down on a flying motorcycle, a humanoid shark-like alien landed between her and her car. Decked in a neon blue suit and wrap-around sunglasses, Hyria felt tiny as the colossal creature stood up and marched toward her. Ace growled, signaling to Hyria this wasn’t a peaceful alien.

“Give me the coin,” the alien calmly demanded.

“Sorry, but it’s not for sale.”

“I’m not here to buy it.”

The alien lunged at Hyria. Ace tried to attack his legs, but the alien kicked him with his black boots, sending Ace flying, hitting the side at the house. Hyria screamed out in rage and punched her attacker in the gut, sending him back several meters down the hill.

“Holy shit,” Hyria cussed. “How did I do that?”

“That’s the power of the coin you possess,” Ace explained as he approached her side, uninjured. “Your father made that coin after losing a bet, but it was lost when Mount Vesuvius erupted nearly two thousand years ago.”

“Wait,” Hyria interrupted. “Who in the hell is my father?”


Hyria soaked in what Ace revealed. “Like… the Greek god?”

“The very one.”

“Anything else important you want to drop on me?”

“Well, we’re out of the canned dog food.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the writing prompt: “You wake up one day to your dog sitting besides your bed. He’s suddenly speaks and says, ‘Sorry, I know this is out of nowhere and I thought we had more time but we have to go.'”

The Pacific Northwest Podcaster

A serial killer mistakenly targets a true-crime podcaster.

Whitney’s heart fluttered. Male, late 20s/early 30s with an alethic build? Check. Shaggy, blond hair? Check. Thick, black plastic sunglasses resting on a curved, wedge-shaped nose? Check. A prominent crescent scar on his right cheek? Check. She was positive the stranger jogging behind her matched the police sketch of the Noon Slayer.

Whitney kept a steady pace as she traversed the dirt trail at Stewart Memorial Park. The summer weather in Washington state never got uncomfortable for her noon jogs. The tall, western hemlocks and various evergreen trees provided ample shade with the fresh rain bringing its petrichor fragrance.

She tapped on her headphones, which weren’t playing music. They never did. They were only on her ears for the same reason a worm would be on a hook. The serial killer caught up to her. Whiney smirked. He took the bait.

As the Noon Slayer was about to grab Whitney, she spun around and tased him.

The Noon Slayer’s eyes fluttered open. Directly in front of him was a podcast microphone complete with a pop filter attached to a boom arm. White, nylon rope strapped him tight on the metal chair.

“You’re awake,” Whitney joyfully greeted. “Don’t say anything. I need to hit record real fast.” She took a seat on her RV kitchen bench behind the matching microphone she had set up for herself and pushed the record button on her audio recorder. “Hello, crime-heads. I want to start off this episode by thanking my guest. I’ve gotten in pretty good shape since I started jogging about a month ago to get you on my show.”

“Where am I?” the Noon Slayer grumbled.

Whitney pushed the red button on her pop-out kitchen table, sending him a painful electric shock. It wasn’t enough to kill or do any serious harm, but it was enough to say, “I’m the one in charge.”

“Hey, I’m the host here,” she playfully scolded. “This is my podcast, so I’ll be the one asking the questions–until the end when I let my guests ask me a question before I let them go.”

He looked around the cozy fifth-wheel travel trailer that held him captive. Everything was clean and neatly organized. His gaze focused on a massive cork bullion board the size that was as long as him, pinned with newspaper clippings of all his killings. He nodded toward the murder board. “You a fan of mine?”

“You can say I’ve been tracking you. Oh, wait. That was technically a question.”

She pushed the button, shocking him again. When he settled, she took down the murder board from the easel–revealing another board covered in clippings about a different serial killer–laid his board on the bed next to him so he could see it, and then returned to her seat.

“What do you think?” she inquired.

He reviewed the large board. In addition to the newspaper clippings, there were crime scene photos, a copy of the police sketch, and a pair of gold foil business cards with the word, “Congratulations.” 

“How did you–” he stopped, catching himself. “I mean, I’m impressed you have my calling card. Two of them.”

“Thank you, but truth be told, one is a replica I made. I managed to sneak a photo from one of my sources that’s been investigating you. The public doesn’t know about your calling card. The other is the one I pulled out from your wallet, Trent.”

Trent tried not to laugh at his carelessness. “I knew I shouldn’t have kept my wallet with me.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. In all my years of doing this podcast, I’ve learned that nobody is perfect. On the subject of mistakes, how accurate is my board about you? Are all of those yours? Am I missing anyone?”

“You’re missing my first one.”

Whitney sat up and leaned forward. “I am? Do tell.”

“It was different.” His eyes drifted up as he reflected. “I did it with my car. It was an accident–a complete accident. I wasn’t paying attention to the jogger when she ran in front of me. It was a hilly road. I thought I was going to get caught. But I didn’t.”

“Then let me guess, the thrill of not getting caught become intoxicating.”

“It did.”

“This happened around noon, just like all of the others?”


Whitney nodded. “That’s what the psychologist Dr. Miller suggested when I interviewed him in episode 215. Well, Trent, you’ve answered all of my questions today. Before I let you go, as per tradition, I like to let my guests ask me a question.” 

Trent didn’t say anything. Whitney added, “Don’t worry. I won’t shock you.”

Whitney pulled out the chef knife from the cutlery drawer, walked over to Trent, and brushed the blade along rope behind his back.

“Who are you?” he asked.

She sawed the rope just long enough to give him a false sense of hope before she stabbed him in the back. “I’m the Pacific Northwest Podcaster.”

Inspired by the writing prompt: “A well known serial killer has been following you through town. He seems to be has been targeting you for a while now. But you’re not scared, in fact, you’re thrilled about it. Finally, you have a new target.”

I realized I hadn’t set any of my weekly stories in Washington state, where I grew up in my grade/middle school years. I got inspired by the writing prompt to have a serial killer stalk one of the woods there. Since it had been forever since I visited that area, the only park with a hiking trail I could think of was where my parents found a golden ticket for a radio contest. I texted my Mom for the name of the park. She asked why I was asking about it and I told her the premise of the short story. She asked me if I was going to incorporate a golden ticket into it somehow and I said I’ll see what I can do. Then she suggested it should be the killer’s calling card.

That’s the origin of this week’s short story. Thank you for reading!

Me at Norman 1 Million Cups

Earlier this week I was honored to be a guest speaker at the Norman chapter of 1 Million Cups to speak about my business, The Show Starts Now Studios! After some introductions, I gave a short presentation about my studio project and the various shows I’m producing, followed by a Q&A session. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the monthly event was held online via Zoom. They were kind enough to record the meeting and post it online, which I’ve embedded above.

Thanks to the Norman 1 Million Cups for having me! I had a great time sharing my story with everyone.

Winchester Drive-In Theatre

Keeping the tradition alive started by the Shanbour brothers in 1968, The Winchester Drive-In in Oklahoma City brings families together for a night under the stars and a giant movie screen. Austin Edwards, Jeff Massad, and Erich Massad give advice for those that have never experienced a drive-in before, what to expect, and their food offerings.

In regards to COVID-19 precautions, the Winchester Drive-In is only showing one movie, requiring masks when visiting the concession, and partaking in social distancing and strict sanitary guidelines. For the latest guidelines, visit their website or Facebook page.

Pizza at the Winchester Drive-In Theatre - photo by Dennis Spielman

As for my “reopening” plans at Uncovering Oklahoma, I’m carefully easing back into filming new episodes. With all of the uncertainty, especially with businesses closing temporary or permanently, and with me taking on more freelance work, episodes will be less common for the time being. I plan to focus on outdoor places and retail shops, less on restaurants and bars (unless they have some strict COVID policies in place).

I am holding off on doing guest host videos, which sucks because I had so many great segments planned for this year. One of the guest host ideas I had planned was to start featuring in the Spring were places where English isn’t the owner’s first/best language. In addition to new collaborations, I had planned on doing more volumes of past collaborations throughout the summer. We’ll see how the fall looks.

On the topic of my other shows, Jeff and I recently recorded our first episode for Tales Unveiled since we stopped due to COVID. Still aiming for a fall release for the third season. I’m hesitant about starting the next seasons of Art & Victory and Yes! Science! We’ll see how the fall looks but those might be a next year thing.

While I haven’t been filming as much, I have shifted gears to write more. I’ll be dropping new beta versions of my books in July for those who support me on Patreon. I’m really excited about those!

With the importance of streaming and having videos, I’ve started to pick up more freelance work. I got a big project coming up that’s going to take up like half a month of my time doing a series of educational videos for various local arts organizations in OKC. I’ve also been live-streaming the Sunday Twilight Concerts series so check those out on the Arts Council OKC YouTube channel.

That’s all my news for you today. I wanted to loop you all in on my “reopening” plans with this new video. Thank you so much for your support!

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