Guest Blog: Smart Machines by Kay Tracy

Smart Machines by Kay Tracy

It was a Saturday, before the holidays. I had to pull some overtime on a few reports for the boss. Friday night, in the winter, now well after dark, and I couldn’t get the door to open. Something moved behind me low on the floor. A mouse?

That was three weeks ago, and I am still here. I can’t get out. Gods help me, I truly wish I could say it was because of my boss. How I wish a mouse was what I had glimpsed!

The firefighters who broke open the door keep trying to tell me I was in shock.

People sometimes ask about it, but no one really ‘knows’. Folks really don’t want to know.

You have seen them in many offices, those machines that will print, copy, and, staple. Oh, to be sure, there is someone who is designated to change the ink or toner as it calls for it. And usually, office etiquette says, if you empty the paper, then you are supposed to put more into the machine. Easy enough, But there is one thing most people never think about. I know I never did. At least, not until now.

I t was trivial at first. I started noticing little things go missing. It was easy enough to think it was my co-workers. Steph had run out of paperclips and took some from my desk. No worry there. The odd safety pin that I would keep in my drawer was next. I did think it was a bit rude for folks to go into the drawers of my desk without asking first. I mean, really!

In talking to others, I found out that they too had had things go missing from their desks. Small stuff at first. Then James complained that his new steel mug and thermos was gone. Julia’s power cord to her computer was next. Harold had an entire desk lamp disappear. The objects were getting larger, and stranger. Soon, anything that was made of metal was going missing. Small pocket change, keys, it seemed odd. Then William asked when we got the pretty staples. Everyone came to see, and there on his desk was a stack of reports with copper colored staples. I wondered about all those pennies that were once in the coffee fund can, which was now missing. But then, so too was the coffee maker!

I am desperate now, trying to find a way out of here. The parts inside the phone are gone now. The thing grows longer snakelike arms every day. The larger, more complicated items it brings to me for disassembly. I have no idea when it will have all it wants or needs, maybe then I can leave.

People really should know about these things. Maintenance includes more than just the paper and ink. More than just the “machine guy” every three months for a cleaning and lube. The staples should not be overlooked on these ‘smart machines’.

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Kay Tracy is now retired, and has time to do all the things she thought she never would do! She loves to travel, play Magic, and write.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kay Tracy is retired and now have the time to do all the things she never thought she would! She loves to travel, play Magic, and writing.

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Guest Blog: The Sign by Kay Tracy

The Sign

I have always struggled with these things. There are signs everywhere to give you direction. You see them, Stop signs, Green lights. These are for those obvious things in life or death. Where to look, though when things are not as obvious as you, or I, might wish them to be? It depends. There was the day that everything was in place. It was ‘ON!” I had planned it to the second! Every detail covered, every contingency accounted for. Or so I thought. All of it. I was ready to proceed, then, it began to snow. Lightly, but enough to mean there would be tracks, visible evidence would be heightened. It was a sign, a signal that this was not to happen. A ‘No’ go. Or perhaps, they chose to direct me to something, or someone, else.

I hate when anything interferes. They will only wait so long you know. I HAVE to appease them. I don’t do these things for just myself. No! You have to understand, they have very far reaching desires. My small contributions to their demands help keep them contained. Satisfied, if you will. Or so I hope. They hunger, and I try so hard to keep them in check. Of course, they frighten me. You would fear them as well, I know it. If you realized just what those dim shapes you glimpse now and then, just out of clear view, really were. Be glad that don’t. God knows, if he exists, there are days I wish I did not have. There is no time for self-pity.

It’s time now. Everything is in place, ready. Now to wait for the sign if this thing is to be done. There are people everywhere. Firefighters. Adults, and small children. And the firetrucks are inside. They could be a disadvantage, this will be very difficult with so many. I am sure I have done everything as instructed, according to the plan, but I need the sign. I have to know if this will be the time, and I am to go ahead. Is it on? Is it now? I look up, and there, above me, I see it, my answer, shining clearly.

photo credit:  centennialbulb.org

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Kay Tracy is now retired, and has time to do all the things she thought she never would do! She loves to travel, play Magic, and write.

Guest Blog: The Blind Seeker by Kay Tracy

 

The Blind Seeker
by Kay Tracy

The lousy weather was holding, with the same miasma of fog and overcast. Lack of sun will make people do and see strange things, so they say.

The usual snarl of homeward commute traffic seemed worse than usual today. There are always those people who drive like, well, I guess idiots would be the more polite word to use. Cutting people off as they weave from lane to lane, trying for that extra car length they just know will get them home faster. It had a been a long day, and I was not looking forward to the rest of the commute. I pulled my truck off the road to take a break, and have an early dinner. I enjoy finding small out of the way places to patronize, and my hunt for something other than the standard fast food or drive through took me a couple miles distance from the highway. This stretch of road should have seemed familiar, I had driven here before, but there! That place was new, a small Taqueria, with a big hand lettered sign, “Fresh Tamales!” Well! If you have never had a fresh from the steamer hand rolled Tamal, you are missing one of life’s great pleasures! The sweetly plumped corn meal holding the tasty secret of filling that the individual making them takes such pride in! Not very large, this place Only 4 tables, a counter near one wall, and a door opening into a small Botanica shop. I looked for the owner (it is always the owner who works in these places) and wandered next door, into the attached Botannica. The scents of the food from the kitchen mingled with numerous herbs, powders and scented candles from the Botanica. My stomach was growling.

The older woman in the shop must have heard my stomach, as she greeted me warmly and asked me “Comida?”- Food? I nodded and said “Yes! Tamal con Pollo por favor” I replied “Three, er Tres”. My Spanish is not that good and I forget the words sometimes!

“Give me a moment” the old woman replied, her English was impeccable, as she winked at me slyly! She was tall and on the thin side, not quite gaunt, but her face showed her bone structure, as well as her laugh lines!

She ushered me back to the restaurant side and placed a small plain black wooden box on the center of the table indicating that I should sit there. I sat looking at the décor. Painted plaster walls, scenes from Central America? Step pyramids, bright feathered birds, or were those the head-dresses of Mayan or Aztec kings or priests? The woman returned and brought me a frothy cup of chocolate. Mind you this is not the chocolate of my childhood in Pennsylvania, all milky and sweet. No! This was chocolate as the Aztecs might have prepared it, spicy, with a hint of chile, whipped to a frenzy!

I know I said I liked out of the way places, and I am always willing to try new things, but that chocolate, if you are not used to it, has some odd effects on one! I looked up, as I dabbed the chili sweat from around my eyes.

The woman came out to sit down at the table, “they will be a few more minutes” she informed me, “you cannot rush the magic of the Tamal, it happens as it should.”

She opened the box that had been placed on the table, earlier and took out a black cloth, spreading it out, carefully smoothing out the wrinkles. “While we wait,” she said, “Shall we see what there is to be known?”

“I am tired of the traffic,” I said, “ And I am hungry. Do I need to know more than that?” I said, laughing slightly.

“Perhaps she replied” as she lit two small candles and stood them in small cups just inside the box. I looked as she looked, down, and saw there was a shallow bowl, sort of, the only black. She was staring into it, a sort of glazed look coming into her eyes. I saw the candles reflected in that bowl, flickering yellow lights, and other colors too, red, blue, reflections from the wall paintings? I leaned in closer to see. A trick of the candlelight? I blinked as her hand appeared and she sprinkled some sort of fine white powder over the bowl. My awareness came back suddenly, and I leaned back, after all, it IS California, and there are many things a “powder” could be! The old woman spent a few more minutes gently waving her hands and staring into the bowl when suddenly her face became grave. She picked up both of the candles and turned them over into their little cups. The candles out, she closed the box and got up. “Your dinner is ready now”. Swiftly she went to the kitchen, leaving me to sit, blinking from the change in lighting. There, then. I saw it. The top of the box. There were faint white marks on it, letters? Writing? I leaned closer, yes, there it was. I could make it out, “6 205 Muerte”

I took a moment to think, 205, that is the road, the highway I had been on, that traffic nightmare!

Just then my Tamales arrived, and the aroma seemed to make me forget all about the box, and the commute. I carefully untied the strip of corn husk and peeled it free so I could take a bite, and burned my tongue, just a bit, on the hot steaming cornmeal. The clock from back in the little kitchen chimed 6 pm. The old woman turned on a tiny television she had on her counter as she brought me more chocolate, she smiled sadly at me then, as she filled the cup again for me. She placed a small vase filled with marigolds onto my table as she removed the little black

box.

I fanned my burning tongue and looked up, “ Thank you” I said, just as I saw the news started up on her little TV. There it was, the same flashing yellow, and colors I had seen in the little bowl. There! On the news. The reporter was pointing as the crawl along the bottom had something about a multi-car crash on 205, that just happened. The image was very jumpy- the cameraman was running after the reporter with his gear, (they had been in the counter-commute lanes) There it was, I stared, transfixed at the tiny screen’s image, and looked again. Three of the cars in that wreck, I recognized them, they had been near me in the commute, when I pulled off! One of them had been the idiot weaving in an out trying to pass everyone on the road. And then, there was that truck, mangled, familiar looking…

 

Free Fiction Friday: The Ratter by Kay Tracy

The Ratter by Kay Tracy

I remember the first time. A warm late spring day in Lake Charles. It was humid and sticky. I did not like it, it was very ” unpleasant”, but momma insisted. “Too many to feed” she told me. “You won’t be eatin’ them when they are grown so…” I was six. I had no idea how to do this. This tiny baby rabbit, one of 6. I asked momma how I should do it. “I don’t care!” she said “You just go handle it girl!”

I was known as a curious child. By that I mean I was always looking in books, and encyclopedias to learn new things. I experimented. A lot. Momma mostly left me alone then. I think she might have been just a little afraid by the time I was ten. Did you know that alligators like the taste of rabbit? Among other things.

I had a nickname, though folks never used it to my face. I knew they called me ‘the Ratter’. I really didn’t mind. They paid me to deal with their “pests”. Sometimes they paid me very well. It wasn’t so bad now. You just had to figure out what the best type of bait was. The rest was usually quick, and almost too easy. I told myself way back when I was six, that “If I ever stop caring about doing the killing part, I would stop doing it.”

Momma used to say I had a gift, that what I did was a service that folks needed. She said I should be glad she made me take that task when I was little. She might have been right.

Sometimes things take a little longer than others. That can lead to certain ‘odors’. I learned that ammonia can help with those. Not too much though, just enough to do the job. The real secret though, like I said, was the bait. All the difference in the world between working easy or hard is in the bait.

No one ever asks how, or when. I never ask why. All folks want to know is “How much?” I always ask about a ‘deadline’, and what sort of ‘pest’ they want me to take care of. It keeps me busy enough, and I like my big house and car.

Funny how some folks never had a momma to teach them that they should “Just go handle it!”
That’s okay by me though. I always take the time to do things right. I care about my work. I think it shows too!

Well. If you ever need my services, just contact me.

USS Hornet by Kay Tracy

Since January is Vile Vacations month, Kay sent this story of a personal vacation experience. Hope you enjoy this story as much as I have.

 

I have a short tale of my “night” aboard the USS Hornet, the retired aircraft carrier, and now, floating museum in Alameda California.

I know a few folks who used to volunteer at the museum there and almost to a person, they have tales of seeing unusual “things” aboard that ship.   Thanks to my contacts, I was invited to do a science/aerospace lesson series for a youth overnight event a number of years back.   I gave my presentations, and activities had a light dinner with the youth group and settled in. We were regaled with tales of ghosts and unusual occurrences by some of the staff, but as a self-avowed “Science Nerd”  I was more than a little skeptical.

The night itself was uneventful.  The next morning, was another story.   I had finished the educational program, but we could not bring the vehicle to remove the equipment until the end of the museum hours.   Being a bit tired from two days and a night aboard, I settled into a bunk in the forward quarters overlooking the anchor chains for a short nap.   I awoke to the feeling of my head at an odd angle as if I was wedged up against a wall.   I reached my arm up to push myself down to a more comfortable position, only to find I was nowhere near the bulkhead or cabinet!   I attempted to sit up in the bunk, with no luck,  It felt now as if someone were sitting on my shoulders!   I took a breath, and, keeping my eyes closed, “calmly” said; “If I am in your bunk, I apologize.  If you will get up a moment, I will get up and leave it to you!”  The weight lifted, and I quickly opened my eyes and got up.    I moved to a small table nearby and sat where I could see the bunk I had been in.   I never saw anything move, or appear in that space, though when my co-presenter returned from fetching a soda, she looked at me and remarked “Are you alright? You look as if you have seen a ghost!”     I never did “see” anything, but I can say what transpired is nothing that I can explain with science.   I have since become a founding member of the Society for Unusual Manifestations.