“Cold War” is in Daikaijuzine Sept 2020!

Those wonderful, brave, and intelligent folks at Daikaijuzine are publishing my short story, Cold War, today.

 
I first wrote the story in 1987 and it lay dormant for a long time. It originally appeared in Midnight Zoo, October 1992 and was reprinted in Horizons Science Fiction, April 1999, and my self-published anthology, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires V1 2016.

Fortunately, Daikaijuzine’s editors and publisher have exquisite taste.

Don’t you think?

 

Don Quitamo Sails

This story appears in the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue.

 
I explain the story’s genesis here. Subscribers get to read the full story below and should also pick up a copy of the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue. All others, here’s a taste…and do pick up the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue, as well.


Don Quitamo Sails

Don Quitamo rested his head on fine silk pillows and pulled the most excellent satin sheets over his body. Waves rocked his ship lulling him to sleep.

“Sleep well, Lord Quitamo.”

His cabin door closed quietly and latched, secured. He relaxed and allowed his mind to wander. Seldom did The Lady Eglesia’s captain get a full night’s rest.

Behind closed lids the cabin grew dim. He thought ‘She snuffed out the candles’ and soon slept.

How long he slept he wasn’t sure. The ship chronometer’s eyes glowed in the dark, moving back and forth as they ticked off the seconds of the watch, its tail swishing rhythmically as if time, too, obeyed the sea’s waves.

First Mate León, his shoulders like a lion’s and his hair a golden halo about his head, called through the horn. “Your forgiveness, Lord Quitamo. The Merchant Vessel Tyree hails us from the shoulders of Orion.”

He shrugged off sleep with his satin sheets, rising and reaching for his cutlass in one continuous motion. “I know no Merchant Vessel Tyree. What colors do they hail?

“They hail safe and well, Lord Quitamo. They say they’ve been followed through four starfields but the other ship won’t identify.”

“Call for full sail.”

His command spread like fire. The Lady Eglesia spread her wings until so much white filled the sky nebulae grew jealous.

The Lady Eglesia, the smartest ship of the fleet, emboldened her icon and stood it before him. “Where are we questing today, Lord Quitamo?”

“Show me suns I’ve never seen. Show me skies that have never known man.”

The Lady Eglesia’s ports opened. Energies spread along her sides like water spilling from a deck’s good washing. In a moment her hull hardened such that no life, no forces, weapons neither energy nor mass driven, could penetrate her.

“Now, my lord?”

“Now.”

Once again her wings lifted, filling with so much sunlight she rose from the oceans and gravity no longer claimed her.

“Prepare me for the bowsprit.”

He strode confidently, knowing The Lady Eglesia would protect her Good Captain, and in a moment felt her energies caress and cover him with a second flesh. Seals opened and closed as he walked until he stood with nothing but space under his feet.

The Lady Eglesia sent her energies forward, questing like dolphins in the night, leaping above the surface of the space-time continuum until they found entry, and diving they pulled her through the folds of space to the Tyree, her aft guns blazing at a ship flying no colors, dark in the night, the Tyree’s shells falling far from their mark.

The Lady Eglesia surfaced from deep space, Lord Quitamo’s Golden Sunfish on her prow.

The Tyree’s mainlight signaled: May the Tides of Space befriend thee, Lord Quitamo.

Don Quitamo gave the order and The Lady Eglesia’s lights signaled back: And you as well, Good Captain.

Quitamo called into the horn, “Bring me along side her.”

First Lieutenant Oso, The Lady Eglesia’s gunnery officer, called back. “The far ship won’t answer a hail, Good Captain, and her battledoors are open. She could be preparing to fire.”

“Lady Eglesia, rig for battle. Prepare the batteries. Strengthen your sides and hull.”


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“Don Quitamo Sails” is in Harvey Duckman Presents Special Pirates Issue!

C.G. Hatton, the gracious and EverWise editor of the Harvey Duckman Presents series, mentioned a few months back that Harvey was planning a special Pirates issue. Would I be interested in submitting a story?

 
My immediate response was “Sorry, I don’t have anything in inventory even remotely to do with pirates.”

But then I remembered a story idea I had almost two years previously. I was driving around back country roads (a favorite pastime of mine. Gives me a chance to relax, think, flush out some cobwebs, work out story ideas, plots, develop characters, refine dialogue, all those good authory things. And smoke a cigar), turned around a bend in the road and BOOM! I saw a ship plying the ocean, a man straight out of Procol Harem‘s Conquistador, one foot up on the gunwhale and staring ahead from the bow, humanish creatures racing about the deck, the ship, The Lady Eglesia, under full sail and suddenly her sails became wings as she lifted from ocean to air and then changed again to a hull as she slipped through the atmosphere into space.

 
I literally pulled over to the side of the road and made notes. A full page and a half. The opening straight through to the introduction of the Merchant Vessel Tyree calling for help as a dark ship pursued her through space. Even the title, Don Quitamo Sails.

Wow.

I mean, just wow.

“Yeah, sure, I may have something for you. Give me a bit.”

I had no idea where the story was going. Truth be told, I had no idea what the story was about.

And aside from a few books I’d read researching anthropology and linguistics issues, I didn’t know much about pirates, ancient through modern (although they are a fascinating study, I’ve come to realize).

So where did the story go?

Stop being the author, start being a character.

 
My studies of storycrafting and storytelling caused me to create helpful (to me) adages. Example: when you’re stuck, stop being the author of the story and start being one of the characters in the story.

Another great one comes from Cozy author Donna Huston Murray; when you’ve run out of things to do with your protagonist, write about what the antagonist is doing.

Thankee, Donna, works every time.

So I became Don Quitamo for fifteen-twenty minutes.

And the story revealed itself to me.

And here’s what author and fellow Harveyist Mark Hayes wrote about Don Quitamo Sails:

Joseph Carrabis first came to my attention in the third Harvey Duckman volume with one of the oddest and in many ways most beautiful short stories I’d read in an age. In this regard he represents all that is great about been involved in the Harvey Duckman Anthologies for me, because they give the reader (and the writers for that matter,) a chance to discover new authors they would never otherwise have come across. He is not alone in capturing my interest, he is one of several authors that I have been lucky enough to discover through Harvey and while not every Harvey author may have become my favorite, every one of them has becomes someones I suspect. Joseph in this regard, is one of mine, (but don’t tell him that…) mainly because I never know what to expect from one of his stories.

Yeah, I’m liking it.

And thanks to #weareallharvey for signing me aboard.

Other fine authors are in the Pirates issue include Liz Tuckwell, R. Bruce Connelly, Nils Nisse Visser, Mark Hayes, Peter James Martin, C.G. Hatton, Andy Hill, and Kate Baucherel (and you should read them all).

Kits Over Jennifer

No, that’s not some bizarre, exotic dish.

I touch base with Jennifer The Editress about once a week. Often we go over works-in-progress, sometimes we discuss books we think the other would enjoy, usually we catch up and detox (we touch base on Friday afternoons).

This time out, Jennifer The Editress and I were deep in conversation when kits showed up in abundance.

That left Susan, Wise Woman of the North, to capture their antics on film…uh…digit?

Anyway, enjoy.

 
The video trailers I mention start with The Augmented Man Video Series Episode 1 – “Good Run, Trailer?”

The son-of-a-bitch I dogeared is Susan Bell’s “The artful edit” (and highly recommended).

Faith Untested

This story has been haunting me since 2013 and has gone through four revisions. I believe there’s one heck of a story here…somewhere…comments welcome…


Faith Untested

Many years ago Ben grabbed William by an ankle and dangled him outside my third story dorm room window. It was a warm, Spring afternoon that suddenly got hot. Ben, a muscular wrestler, spoke calmly. “Tell me where the Jews are.” Ben’s quiet voice reverberated in my room like a rifle shot.

Some of us gathered to discuss an Ethics class assignment: It’s The Holocaust. You’ve hidden Jews somewhere in your home. The Nazis burst in the door demanding to know where the Jews are. What do you do?

Some confessed they’d cave. Some professed they’d stay resolute and hoped they could endure torture. Much was said between these two points. I was in the resolute-endure-torture camp but secretly knew I’d go with the crowd: “Want the Jews? Well, here they are! All wrapped up and neatly waiting for you in my basement! Aren’t I a good doobie? Getting them all together for you like this?”

My room was at the end of a hall, tucked away in the top floor southeast corner of the dorm. A perfect place for lively discussions.

None of us noticed William, not in the Ethics class, on the other side of the doorway in the hall, standing stiff and attentive, listening, bible in hand. His father was a Bible answer man at a Christian radio station. In an era of long haired hippie freaks, William stood out in his close cut hair, pale skin, a perfectly starched and ironed white shirt with thin black tie that hung on his closet-hanger shoulders and billowed about his once-a-week-fasting frame. Blond and blue-eyed, he took every opportunity to evangelize us. He wasn’t a pain or a nuisance, though. He was more like a gnat.

He cleared his throat and we looked up. “I would tell the truth, tell them where the Jews were, and trust Jesus to perform a miracle and save them.”

“Really.” It wasn’t a question. It just sounded like one.

“I’d have to tell the truth because that’s what God requires of me.”

“You tell the truth, the Jews die. This is what God requires of you? You can’t lie and trust all that forgiveness of sins crap you talk about?”

“My faith tells me God and His Son Jesus Christ will save those Jews.”

“You mean a miracle of some kind? The Nazis go blind? Or just decide, fuck it let’s knock off early and grab some brews? Maybe the Jews disappear? You think God’s going to pull some kind of Jedi mind trick?”

“Please don’t curse.”

Ben, his massive arm eclipsing my small black-and-white TV on my bureau, chuckled at the Jedi remark. Moonless midnight sky black hair and always in need of a shave, he laughed when we described him with “arms as big as legs and legs as big as people.”

Ben lost people in The Holocaust.

He listened patiently, his brow furrowed, his lips silent, his eyes fixed on William and squinting as if William were some bright light on a close horizon. William started insisting that telling the Nazis where the Jews were hiding would be a test of his faith.

Ben quietly opened a window. He put his hands on the window sill, inhaled deeply, upturned William, grabbed him by an ankle and held him outside the window, three stories up.

“You have ten seconds to decide. Tell the truth, sacrifice the Jews and hope for a miracle, or lie, convincingly, and save your life. In ten seconds you’ll fall three stories. You may not die, but you’ll be badly hurt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be spared in either case. You admit there are Jews in your house and you’ve harbored Jews, you’re an enemy of the state and will be killed as an example to others. You convince me there are no Jews here and I may kill you anyway as a warning to others.”

“Ten…”

We didn’t think Ben would let William drop. He’d never been violent or even angry that we could remember. Even when we went out for pizza, he was the one who stopped arguments and shoving matches with reason and quiet good humor.

Now he relaxed his grip a few times. Whatever blood should have been rushing to William’s head never made it there. He was blanched white and screaming for Ben to stop.

“Nine…”

William never called for Jesus to save him. He begged Ben to bring him in. He screamed at us to help him.

“Eight… Where are the Jews?”

More screams. We could hear people outside on the college quad shouting up at this strange play. Somebody hollered for others to call campus security.

“Seven…Where are the Jews?”

William screamed hysterically now. Hysterically. “PLEASE DEAR GOD SOMEBODY MAKE HIM STOP!” I remember thinking, “Does that count as a call to God or is he just using the adjectival modifier?”

“Six…You are going to drop to the ground unless you tell me where the Jews are. Where are the Jews?”

At this point one of the other fellows in the room said, “Ten dollars Ben can’t hold him the full ten seconds.” Ben wasn’t breathing hard. He looked like he could hold William out the window forever. I said, “What?”

“Five…”

A window in the room next to ours opened up. Somebody shouted “William says he’d let Nazis kill the Jews and hope for a miracle. Ben’s going to drop him unless he changes his mind.” There was a quick response from the crowd, “Let the fucker fall!”, but nobody laughed.

“Four…Where are the Jews?”

William screamed, “I don’t know! There are no Jews!”

“Three…I’m not convinced.” He took his eyes off William, turned his head and looked at us, “Are any of you convinced?”

Somebody said, “Ben, come on. Enough’s enough.”

“Two…Nobody here’s convinced, either. Where are the Jews?”

William is crying now. Screaming and crying, hysterically begging for someone anyone to help him. He’s calling to Jesus Christ and all the saints and not in ways I think they’d recognize as calls for help.

“One. Time’s up. You die.”


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