TOO Historical Fiction 80 The Emperor Defeats a Pidgeon

By Gary Girod
Read by Shawn Robertson

Period: Ancient Rome

Atticus ‘Atti’ Tarsus had spent the entire morning trying to stack grains of rice on top of each other. Unlike the rocks he would stack as a child or the coins that the children of Roman patricians would stack, the grains of rice held no wobbling illusion of stack-ability before falling down. His disappoint was always instant. Occasionally he would pause as he caressed his arthritic fingers against the pain and would look over at the bowl filled with thousands of grains of rice. He realized with some sadness that he would never even pick out a third grain of rice, though that was just as well. If he did somehow miraculously manage to stack a hundred grains of rice it would be so tall he would not know how to add another one.

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TOO Historical Fiction 79 Memory is Translucent

By Adele Gardner GardnerCastle.com
Read by Shawn Robertson

Period: 1800’s England
Genre: Horror

 

LETTER FROM MRS. HARKER TO VAN HELSING

“7 October, 1 p.m.

“My dear Dr. Van Helsing, —

“How can I tell you of an event that we all so deeply regret? I cannot express how sorry I am to bear such news, for I know that the grief that prostrates us will wound you even more. Your good friend Dr. John Seward was found dead this morning in his office. The police thought at first that he died by his own hand, but the strenuous objections of all who knew him, and the escape of one of the more violent inmates, have called this verdict into question.

“I thought that you might wish to conduct your own investigation before the case is closed. We have managed to postpone the funeral until Friday. You are most welcome in our home in any event, but especially in this crisis. Good friends must comfort one another at such a time. I trust that your intelligent inquiry may soon put these troubles to rest.

“Yours most faithfully,

“MINA HARKER.”

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TOO Historical Fiction 78 A Sudden Shade of Death

By Ed WeissBy Teel James Glenn
Read by Shawn Robertson

Setting: New York City
Period: 1937

The entrance outside of the Combination Club was in an alley that looked like a movie set, complete with an always-wet street (courtesy of the leaking hydrant down the block), steam from the cleaners next door, and a neon sign that proclaimed the club’s name. It was located in the Chinatown section of the city on the border of Little Italy so it got what the sports columnists called a ‘colorful’ clientele.

The co-owner, Slugger Harris, a little badger of a man and his silent partner, had just helped some of that ‘colorful’ clientele to leave abruptly; and were standing in that same alley.

“They won’t be thinking of anyone but you any time they look in the mirror for weeks, Slugger,” the partner said in a rich base voice.

The ‘partner’ was a giant of a man, dressed to the nines in a slate gray suit of summer-weight cloth that did little to hide his sculpted muscular physique. In fact, he resembled nothing so much as a sculpture of granite—with skin a pallid gray and prematurely silvered hair brushed back from a high intelligent forehead. All that animated him was a warm smile that went all the way to his eyes.

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TOO Historical Fiction 77 The Way of the Wind

By Bruce Markuson
Read by Shawn Robertson

That old iron horse blew its whistle. Smoke belched out of the diamond stack of the Jupiter Steam locomotive. Steam blew out at me as it backed up to hook up another baggage car.
The Transcontinental Railroad had just been completed a couple of years earlier, and they were getting ready to build a new line. I had just turned eighteen then and was in the U.S. Army Cavalry. I was on guard duty that day, somewhere in the Wyoming Territory or maybe it was the Utah Territory. I was at some railroad station in a town in the middle of nowhere. They pulled a few of us up from Fort Laramie to relieve the soldiers riding on the train. I had my Springfield rifle as I walked alongside the train, moving slowly along at the station. I was on one side of the train, and another soldier was walking along the other side.
It was hotter than tarnation on that day. The local town folk really needed some rain; none had fallen since the previous year. I could hear the bang, clank, and rumble behind me as they hooked up the other baggage car. Then the train came to a stop. A few minutes later a two-horse wagon pulled up next to that new baggage car.

The man in the wagon had his face covered with his hat. “Whoa now,” he said as he stood up and opened the door to the other baggage car.

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TOO Historical Fiction 76 The Adventure of the Sweet Strength

By Stephen R. Wilk
Read by Shawn Robertson

It all started out with a puzzle, which is how things often begin when Baytim is involved. But it ended in several violent deaths, which, sadly, was how things often ended when Sunny was involved.

I think that I am the most long-suffering Philistine in Timnath or the Five Cities. My career in the army was cut short when I took an arrow through both my arm and leg before I qualified for a land grant to retire on, and I had no friends on the staff who could wrangle anything for me. Since I had picked up skills in dosing and bone-setting, I was entitled to a small pension, too small to provide me with a place to stay and to let me eat. One of my army buddies put me in touch with another Lost Soul in similar straits, and together we found a couple of rooms in the house of the widow of an officer, the son of the legendary Black Hood himself. She needed the extra income as well, and so we three Army castoffs lived together on the street of Bread-Makers and looked every day for better things.

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TOO Historical Fiction 75 Other Wishes

By Richard Zwicker
Read by Shawn Robertson

England Turn of the Century
Detective Story

Christmas wreaths, tinsel, and stars lined the smoky walls of the White Hart Pub. Memories of holidays, softened by distance, battled the harder edges of my current situation: a widow unsure of whom to give a present. The lack of possibilities in my dark flat once again sent me here, where I’d at least find a cast of characters. I pulled apart a wishbone from the remains of my chicken and chips dinner, the larger piece remaining in my left hand. 1902 had been disappointing. I wished to be a part of something positive in 1903. In hindsight, I advise not to bet the house on wishbones.

“Did you make a wish?”

I looked up and saw standing before me a young, dark-haired woman with a pleasing face and an expensive fur coat draped over her shoulders.

“Yes, I wished there was more meat on this chicken.

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TOO Historical Fiction 74 The Monkey’s Paw

1902 Creepy story
By W.W. Jacobs
Read by Shawn Robertson

Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.

“Hark at the wind,” said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.

“I’m listening,” said the latter, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. “Check.”

“I should hardly think that he’d come to-night,” said his father, with his hand poised over the board.

“Mate,” replied the son.

“That’s the worst of living so far out,” bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; “of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway’s a bog, and the road’s a torrent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses on the road are let, they think it doesn’t matter.”

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