Ten Tales of Spotty Ruin

By Alex Carrick

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Ten Tales of Spotty Ruin is the second in a series of short story compilations by Alex Carrick. Sometimes serious but more often light-hearted and almost always insightful, these pieces are sure to entertain and surprise. Skillfully crafted and mainly written to be fun for readers, they can also bring a tear to the eye when the narrative warrants.

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Chapter titles: (1) One Thousand Years of Baked Goods; (2) Giving a Finger to the Moon; (3) A Father and Son Explore Some Grey Areas; (4) Herb Green Discusses His Finances in Four Letter Words; (5) Saved by a Hare’s Breath; (6) Two Men Who Thought They Knew People; (7) The Weatherman, the Economist and the Gypsy Lady; (8) Fuzzy on the Details; (9) Witness to a Backyard Execution; (10) Queen’s Jester to King’s Betterment.

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Mr. Carrick is a critically-acclaimed author whose story “The Size of the Skip” – found in “Three Scoops” Is A Blast! – was short-listed for the 2010 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Award. In 2011, he received another Honorable Mention in the world-renowned Hemingway competition for “Caboose Follies”, which appears in “Four Scoops” Is Over The Top.

Excerpt

Giving a Finger to the Moon

Frank had learned how to control his dreams. He had never experienced nightmares before. That’s why the past several months were so disturbing for him.

His power over dreams first came when he was a young boy. He’d perused a magazine photo of Michelangelo’s famous scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome’s Vatican. It depicted Adam, from Genesis, receiving the electric shock of life with an outstretched finger. Ever since, Frank used that mental image to adjust his dreams in any way he liked.

Whenever dream sequences seemed to be taking a darker turn, he taught himself to employ a simple trick. He would snap his imaginings back to a dark country lane at midnight. High in the sky, between a lacy veil of branches, a full overstuffed moon would hang bright and shiny.

From out of the horizon on Frank’s left, a giant finger would reach across the sky and push the moon’s bulbous presence. That action would be the equivalent of hitting a reset button. The former awkwardness would immediately vanish and Frank would be transported to a different place, to enjoy ethereal good times once again.

His life was fairly sunny to begin with. He met with mostly success, first in his academic endeavors, then in his business ventures. He usually slept with a sound conscience.

In his dreams, he’d be the star quarterback on a professional football team. Or the best hockey player in the world. The ladies would adore him. Their shapes came in all varieties and guises. He travelled the phantom world and was given the keys to the kingdom wherever he alighted.

That’s the way things had been until a couple of months ago. Suddenly everything was altered. Whenever he walked down that back country lane, the tree branches would bend over and block out his sighting of the moon. He’d hear some distant music that was familiar and haunting, but frustratingly inaccessible.

Then out of the blackness, they would emerge – the crazed-eyed and clearly mad creatures doing their slow dance. It was a league of zombies advancing relentlessly and voraciously to embrace him. Later than usual in life, he was acquiring a familiarity with night-time dreads.

Frank would wake up with a start in a cold sweat and be afraid to go back to sleep. This was leading to a persistent insomnia that was affecting him badly. Going to bed was no longer a pleasant experience. His nocturnal misadventures did open his eyes in another way, however.