Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Story Bazaar

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Forty

Whose Dreamscape Is This?

Alexander M Zoltai


John Perkins rose from his desk.

He was in his private car on the 10th Anniversary Transcontinental  Run of his company’s premier passenger train, Dreamscape One.

He drew aside the deep blue, velvet curtains and had to marvel at the view—he’d been working at the desk since morning, when he was near the Plains of Casvella—now, he could see a sliver of the setting sun in a cleft of the highest peak of the Sage mountain range.

His car was the last, behind the caboose (utterly rare on a passenger train), well insulated from the passengers and crew; except for his long-time friend, Engineer-Conductor, Tony Sustrella, famous “King of the Caboose” and devoted to John’s protection…

He let the curtain close and sat back at the desk—work was his mistress—trains were his wives…

His phone rang and switched itself to the speakers:


“Yeah, Tony…”

“We’re forty minutes out from Lost Canyon—want an alert at fifteen?”

“No, I’ll join you in your space in five.”


John stuffed a few papers into his attaché, locked a few more in the safe, put his cup and saucer in the bin by the door, covered the short distance between his car and Tony’s space (something that he loved because, if done right, it was perfectly safe; but, was always on the edge of danger...), and knocked on the door, which opened instantly.

“Hey, John, you look totally ready for the meeting—how long d’ya think we’ll be there?”

“You know I hate Lost Canyon and can barely stand the new Mayor’s meeting room—I’d say one hour, tops.”

“O.K., I’ll keep the paid customers and crew on the train and give the passengers extra drinks and treats so they won’t mutiny.”

“Right… Tony…?”


“I need ya to help me consummate a decision.”

“Sure thing.”

“I want to leave the company and relax in a damnably well-earned retirement—you want to be the boss?”


“You, the man I trust most—the man with almost as much knowledge of the company as me—the man smart enough to learn the rest of its secrets; and, the man who is probably drooling inside right now…”

Tony’s smile said it all…

John pulled some papers out of the attaché and laid them on the table, along with his pen.

Tony glanced at the transfer of ownership papers then looked at John—“You sure…?”

“Come off it, Tony, you know damn well I am.”

“Yeah, you never did joke much…”

John chuckled and pointed at the papers.

Tony signed them…


The meeting lasted fifty minutes, the passengers were still happy, and Tony sat bemused in the caboose…


Four hours later, in the middle of the Shasteen desert, in the dead of night, Dreamscape One derailed—all passengers and crew (including Tony Sustrella) were dead—the train was a blazing wreck—John Perkins was wandering in the desert, crying his heart out…

Gradually, he began to wake from his dream-world—gradually he became cognizant of his true surroundings—much more gradually, over a period of weeks, he tried to work out what the dream might mean—the purpose of the train, the meaning of Tony, the significance of the transfer of ownership, and the tragic yet imaginary accident…

John decided he’d get some train simulation software for his computer so he could model Dreamscape One, reconstruct the dream—work out the message more fully, integrate the shadowy meanings and events into his waking life…


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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Nine

What’s the Value of Truth?

Alexander M Zoltai


The star system was in turmoil…

It’s history was certainly tempestuous enough, though it had begun on only one of the nine planets in the system.

All nine were habitable at the start; but, only one gave birth to intelligent life—Hethal.

That life grew and progressed as a unified multitude of people.

It was the subsequent travels to other planets; and, finally, settlements of certain of the Hethal people that led, eventually, to differences between the planets’ populations…

Some of the differences were slight, like that between brothers or sisters; some were radical like the differences between honesty and treachery.

Two of the planets, Hethal, itself, and Macres, were the strongest in terms of population stability and trade wealth; yet, of late, they were engaged in vile and vicious trade wars…

Hethal had spread its influence and could claim trade affiliation with three of the other planets.

Macres could count on trade from three of the remaining planets.

But, most important, was the planet Belonit—third in the ranking of wealth and number of people.

Hethal and Macres began a dangerous and potentially lethal contest of wooing the allegiance of Belonit.

Yet, Belonit was intent on its own concerns; and, it had enough of the trade with the other planets that it didn’t need to heed the advances of Hethal and Macres.

Still, Belonit was willing to play the wooing game and did many things that not only angered Hethal and Macres but also made them begin to threaten war against each other…

The Interplanetary Information Network began to bristle with acrimonious rants.

One day’s news had this: “Hethal has threatened to bomb the Welthrenal Holdings on Macres if they don’t decrease the costs of shipping.”

The next day revealed this: “Macres has decided to transfer ownership of  the Welthrenal Holdings to Belonit, greatly angering Hethal.”

The same day, this was written: “Belonit said, if it was given the Welthrenal Holdings it would, in turn, cede them to Hethal.”

None of this was based on truth or honest dealings—all was a childish game to try to gain influence with all the other worlds—showing off with hopes of scoring big in the general confusion…

And, the Interplanetary Information Network had its own ideas of what was permissible, often publishing rumors as if they were truth—rejoicing in the flood of new subscriptions to its service.

Needless to say, the craving for exorbitant wealth; and, the willingness to skirt around truth in order to incite intriguing plots geared toward announcing claims of supremacy left all the worlds wondering what the truth in any situation really was…

One thing that remained the truth in all minds (except those of the rulers of  Hethal, Macres, and Belonit) was that, if things didn’t change, total war would soon break out…

The Interplanetary Information Network woke up to the truth of the threat of war; but, it continued to wallow in the backwaters of rumor and hearsay, which added fuel to fiery imaginations and further confused the entire System’s situation.

There were incidents of isolated military strikes; but, again, it was nearly impossible to discern the truth in these civilian attacks…

What actually happened after all this, appallingly sad as it became, was not as critically important as what is now happening…

One of the smaller worlds, Evrensolita, is now the only inhabited world of the System—it’s very crowded with refugees from all the other planets; but, it has an abundance of hope for the future…

The other important thing is that there is a new law on Evrensolita: “Publishing an untruth will incur a year of social service aimed at moral re-education”

The law wasn’t instituted suddenly or whimsically—much thought and the opinions of as many  citizens as wished to comment were used to imagine various punishments for spreading untruths…

The one voted in by the population at large was moral re-education—seeming much less harmful than doing nothing.

When sixty-three billion people die from a lack of truth, the survivors must be supremely cautious…


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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Eight

What Is Youth?

Alexander M Zoltai


“You can’t go in there.”


“It’s for adult patrons.”

“What if I prove I have ‘adult’ sensibilities when it comes to those displays?”

“I’m sorry, you can’t go in there.”

Tina had tried this with every guard the museum stationed at the entrance to the latest show.

She thought it was time to get the authorities involved…


It took her a month of steady persistence to wrangle an interview with the Director of the museum.

She dressed as she always did—fashionable skirt and blouse, with flats and clashing socks.

She had to wait a half hour in the secretary’s area, so she urged her social network pipelines to increase their emails—two or three people in each group—each sending to the people in charge of various departments of the museum (each using multiple email accounts…)—demanding attention be turned toward the age restrictions of the museum…

The secretary had been called into the Director’s office three times, which Tina was sure were “surveillance” runs…

Finally, she was ushered in…

“Hello, Mr. Ashwood.”

“Uh… Hello, Tina… Uh…”

“Thought I’d be older?”

“Well, yes—twenty or so…”

“I’m fifteen.”

“Well, my goodness! Why did you ever think I’d consider—“

“Mr. Ashwood?”

“Uh… yes?”

“I have a proposal.”

“Well, young lady, first, I think you should consider stopping all those emails to my staff…”

“Is it illegal?”

“Well, no; but, it’s just not proper form…”

“Sir, my proposal is that you permit a younger person’s parents to vouch for their ability to deal with what you consider ‘adult’ art.”



“Yes… That seems rational—yet, still—public opinion…”

“What about the opinions of that part of the public who will grow into adulthood and potentially become patrons of your museum?”




“Shall I take that as your agreement to my proposal?”

“…you stop the emails and I’ll institute the new policy…”



“Would you also consider a few new activities in your life that would make you feel young again?”


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April Fools ?

Rather than my normal re-blog today, I’m sharing something from Smashwords.

April Fool's Day

Image Courtesy of Michelle Dennis ~

However, before I share that, I must reveal a particular confluence of my writing and my gullibility

Yesterday, I published the Thirty-Seventh Tale on my Friday Feature, “Story Bazaar”.

It was called “Alternative Facts”that title echoing something that became an “issue” here in the USA (and, I’m sure, a few other countries…—and, in case you missed it, here’s a bit of news coverage…)

Also yesterday, as I often do, I sent my Best Friend, who lives in Australia, a link to a story from one of her newspapers.

It claimed the Mayor of Melbourne was instituting a policy to keep Daylight Saving Time going in the Central Business District to increase financial benefits

It turned out to be an April Fools’ prank that totally took me in (and, if you’re wondering, it is true that Australia gets to any given day sooner than I do…)

So, when I put those two things I did together, I get this weird formula:

Alternative Facts ?=? April Fools

And, all that leads me to the hard-hitting article from Smashwords—Fahrenheit 451 Meets April Fools—read it and ponder

I’ll give you one excerpt to entice you to take the link:

“What does it portend for civil society and humanity when willful ignorance is celebrated above facts?

“As authors and readers, we should care. Books are the best vehicles for deep thinking. We authors have the power – one book at a time – to right this wayward ship.  We readers have a responsibility to demand truth telling.”

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Seven

“Alternative Facts”

Alexander M Zoltai


“What are you talking about?!”

Jim had been arguing with his friend Tom for about an hour—they thought they were discussing various points about the way the city had encouraged so much business construction.

Tom responded: “You don’t know what I’m talking about? After everything I’ve been saying?

“Well, I know What you’re talking about but it still makes no sense…”

“It’s just like the papers say; my god, this is the fifth time I’ve said it…”

“Said what?”

“The papers have always said that the city needs more business—were right near the highway—folks are moving out—we need business to attract residents.”

“Oh, that’s what you’ve said forever—thing is, more business building means less residential building—more business will make more folks move out.”

“Not necessarily—“

“Hell you say!”


The following day, Jim and Tom got into it about women in the sciences.

“Tom, I agree that women have brains but not the smarts needed for the hard sciences.”

“So, keep all the intelligent women in the soft sciences—like what?  domestic science, home economics?”

“Don’t twist what I say—smarts is different than brains—“

“Whose dictionary you using?”


About two days later, Tom and Jim were “discussing” the political scene.

“Jim, how can you believe that the progressives are for the middle class when there is no middle class?”

“No middle class? Tom, you’re so middle class I think they created the term just for you…”

“What’d’ya think middle class means?”

“Well, it seems like you’re using a meaning from some other part of the galaxy…”


Tom and Jim were at the cafe and had just made a new acquaintance, Mary, who was apparently a writer.

What’s referred to as communication was an activity that Tom and Jim were never that good at; but, they had a rare opportunity to learn about communication while Mary was sitting at the table…

About five minutes of general comments circulated around the group; then…

“So, Tom, what about that ball game?”

“You call that a ball game? The Trojans were asleep!”

“Asleep? They were moving, right?”


“Well, your Bulldogs must have over-eaten again!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Neither do you!”

Mary stood up and bowed a bit…

Both men said, “Where ya goin’?”

Mary smiled faintly and said, “Somewhere that has no opinions flying—a space for truth and civility—a land that spawns the search for real answers and firm conclusions.”; and, she promptly left.

Tom and Jim began to argue about who had chased her off…


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com