Monthly Archives: September 2009

Murphy’s Law

Andrew Finch was wet, and he was sick of his bad luck. He couldn’t hold a job due to luck, even though he was a genius. As yet, he’d failed to obtain his PhD in physics because he hadn’t made it to the defense of his thesis—due to a car accident. Then, his father, who was also his mentor, had mysteriously disappeared, leaving him to face his lot alone.

Lately, his bad luck had touched his love life. He had finally discovered the perfect woman, the brilliant Elise Murdoch, who was the daughter of longtime family friends. But every attempt he made to woo her went wrong. When he took her to a restaurant and advised her what she should order, she nearly died of food poisoning. When he practiced his declaration of love for her on his neighbor, Elise happened to be coming up the staircase and misunderstood his intentions. That very evening, when he invited her for a walk, clouds appeared from nowhere, and a summer shower poured on them.

Still wet from the shower, he stood at her door. A moment before, she’d slammed it in his face. He envisioned her pale, dripping lashes and red hair made stringy from the torrents. If anything bad could happen, it would happen to him, and not to somebody else—that was the true nature of Murphy’s Law.

Several months ago, he’d decided to give up the laws of physics for researching Murphy’s Law. In a good stroke of luck, Andrew had discovered, while searching through his father’s papers, the original bad-luck Murphy—or so he hoped. His plan, now, was to kill the Irishman who ran his life, and kill his bad luck with it, even if he had to travel to eighteenth-century Ireland to do it. No Murphy, no Murphy’s Law.

He ran home to his family’s brownstone apartment building, stole his grandfather’s revolver, then ran downstairs to the basement, and stared at his father’s computer, which doubled as a time machine. Andrew had helped him build it. He carefully enclosed himself in one of the time travel suits, keyed in the pertinent information, and braced himself. Soon, he felt the earth shake around him, felt himself sucked into the vacuum of time. Eventually, the vacuum pressure let up and shot him out.

He landed in a muddy street and was nearly crushed to death by a carriage. Several dirty street urchins stared at him with wide eyes. He didn’t care. Let them stare. He had one destination only: the pub called The Brazen Head, where, reputedly, Murphy drank his life away.

He pulled off his head unit. “Can you tell me where The Brazen Head pub is?” he asked a ragged boy.

The boy pointed to a sign across the street. Obviously, Andrew had keyed in his destination accurately. Murphy was not going to beat him this time—and yes, time—he had to beat that. He’d programmed the computer so it would send him back after twenty minutes. He certainly didn’t want to get stuck in eighteenth-century Ireland.

He marched across the street, ignoring the world around him, which at any other time might have fascinated him. But right now, the Irish people in it pointed and stared at him. So what if he looked like an astronaut? It was 1790. They probably assumed he was wearing the latest French fashions.

He threw open the pub doors and shouted above the din, “All right, where’s Murphy?”

“Which Murphy would that be?” asked the bartender, and several men shook with laughter. “And what kind of fool Englishman are you?”

Andrew pulled out the revolver. “Dubhan Murphy.”

“Andrew, what are you doing?”

He whirled around. “Dad?”

“Dubhan Murphy is right here; we’re drinking a pint together. Put that gun down and tell me what you’re doing in one of my suits.”

Bewildered, Andrew saw that his father was, indeed, drinking a pint with a black-haired man who was laughing like there was no tomorrow. So that’s where his father had gone. He was busy supping up the soup and brew with the very man whose curse was destroying Andrew’s life.

Andrew didn’t think. He simply aimed the revolver at Murphy’s laughing face, pulled back the hammer, and fired.

The pub went quiet, except for his father, who yelled, “No, Andrew, don’t!”

But he’d already done it. He rearranged his head gear and, before anybody woke up from shock and nabbed him, the vacuum sucked him back to the brownstone. Elated, he pulled off the suit, ran up the stairs, and burst into his apartment. He was finally free from the curse!

“I’ve got to call Elise,” he said to his mom, who was peeling potatoes in the sink.

“Who?”

“Elise, Mom. You love Elise.”

“You’ll have to introduce me,” his mom said.

Dread filled Andrew’s chest. He dialed Elise’s number, and a strange voice answered.

“Is Elise there?”

“I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number.”

“Elise,” he muttered, as he paged through the phone book, searching in vain for the woman he loved. “What have I done?”

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An entry from my daughter, Eva (761 words): The Dryads Of The Aur Wood

Far off in the land of Senium there was a vast forest that covered thirty leagues or more, and then dropped into the valleys. This forest was called the Aur wood. At the edge of forest, near the valley, were two very old moss covered oaks covered with lichen. Dryads they were, and they talked of things that were and things to come. Softly they talked branch in branch.

In the middle of the oaks, stood a lone tree. It was a grey skinned tree with bunches of green needles. It was a rutilus aurum tree. In the forest of aur were the only rutilus aurum trees for they were rare, being special, because under their bark was a skin of gold; real gold.

The men of the surrounding cities would often, in their greed for gold, come and cut the trees for the gold. This tree was a miracle, for no tree of yet had planted itself in the valley. This tree had, from a hewn rutilus tree’s seeds. And yet the men, swarthy and dark, came again and chopped more trees.

Then the one tree wept, for these trees had been friends.

“Alas. Alas,” he cried and called himself Amarus, and walked no more in the sun lit valley.

At the sun rise the next morning, as the sun filled the sky with gold, the dark haired men tramped in. They cut more trees than ever before and cut some trees without reason, for they were not rutilus aurum trees. A great groaning was heard in the forest, and the trees gathered together to do something about it.

Then Amarus voiced his thought, “If all the trees would labor and make grassy ropes and trip wires we can capture the men.”

This was done, and also a great store of boulders was laid up.

The next day the men came back, but they were ready. Before they had gone far, they were entangled in the ropes. The trees then took them and guarded them. The other men, who had escaped, however, took torches and set the woods on fire. The trees soon blistered and many died, and gold from the aurum trees rolled freely through the land.

Amarus was angry and took boulders and hurled them at the men. The men quailed before his anger, and his eyes lit with a burning yellow flame.

The leader stepped up and announced, “We will bother you no more if you can beat our troll in single combat.”

Amarus agreed. The troll was brought out. It was several feet high with thick slimy scales, and toe-less feet. Amarus and the troll fought to death with fists. Amarus was battered practically to death, when the troll, accidently, fell into a trip wire net. Amarus strode forward, grasped the net, and through it far beyond the forest.

The men immediately agreed to go and left in haste.

All was left in order, and in the valley where the gold spilled forth many young aurum trees sprouted. Amarus walked in peace and called himself Asher, and the two oaks continued talking of ancient lore, and here is some of what they sang:

“Along the Ripple Rover River
Fog lies thick hiding every wold
Dwarven lanterns blue, red, gold
Ripple over the naiad pools
Like piles of ancient jewels:
The flag stoned pools covered by reeds
Hide dryads toasting on dry mead:
The dwarves are frying bacon
The parties finally waking
And the coffees in the making:
The dryads feast on earthy loam
The naiads drink sweet water foam
Along the Ripple Rover River,
Of beer the dwarves drink a deal;
Then the dwarves do stagger and reel,
They click in perfect rhythm
Over mint and sage and thyme:
The naiads dance the waves of Tory,
The Dryads dance with shadowed glory
Along the Ripple Rover River,
The dwarfs’ great beards wave and wag,
A cave troll grabs them for her bag,
“Sweet meat.” she sings, “For old cave trolls.”
Along the green and grassy knoll
The trees booming voices roll:
They tear her up to bread crumbs
With gigantic gnarly thumbs:
Everything has gone so dark:
The pool’s all so quiet and stark:
Dwarves tumble free by the river
Out the lamps to warm their shivers
Along the Ripple Rover River,
The dwarves go back to their delving,
The dryads back to sing of elves
The naiads go down in the deep
The water is a gurgling
Naiads snoring deep in their sleep
Along the Ripple Rover River.”

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