• My submission for the Anthology

  • james-mcgill

    May 11, 2021 at 5:00 am

    As requested, I have a flash fiction story for the anthology. I know you guys said 1,000 words, but I needed an extra three hundred to finish it. So if anyone has any ideas on how to shorten it, I am all ears. Otherwise I can’t come up with anything else. It was inspired by a free form poem by Neil Gaiman called the Rhyme Maidens. If you have a copy of “An evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer”, it’s on there.

    I hope I you guys like it.

    A Reservation at the Time Inn
    By James McGill What is the Time Inn?
    This is a question I have been asking.
    To describe it is like trying to describe time itself.
    Nothing but contradictions, for what is time but being new and Old at the same time…
    Depending on how you look at it.

    Upon entering you smell the odor of old wood with a little bit of rot.
    But after a few more steps in, you pick up on other scents you weren’t expecting.
    The smell of sawdust and plaster as if they had just finished building the place.
    Running your hand over the wall, it feels as if nothing had been dusted in months.
    But breathing in, it feels as if all the windows were open and everything is as clean as spring.
    Walking towards the front desk, each foot step sound crisp as if walking on the hardest of Oak flooring.
    But as you apply weight to the step, the same flooring creaks as if it will break at any moment.
    As you walk towards the front desk, the items furnishing and decorating the room confuses your eyes.
    Each item appears to be new but as you get closer, you can see their age.
    Small bits of paint flaking off the art, small cracks web themselves through the chairs and tables.
    You think that if you were to actually sit in them, they would disintegrate to dust.
    But then a guest takes a seat in one and nothing happens. You get to the front desk and ring the bell.
    The clear sound a new bell emanates for a short while.
    However, the sound abruptly stops as if the vibrations in the bell had come upon an internal dent.

    A week ago, an old man came across your path and for some reason, you had lunch with him.
    All you remember about him is the conversation and the gift he gave you.
    You pull out a piece of paper that, you realize, is just as confusing as the Inn itself.
    It looked brand new but felt extremely delicate as if it were an ancient scroll.
    If asked, you would be unable describe the voucher.
    However, you were still able to use it to make the reservation.

    A young Asian woman appears at the desk, who doesn’t look older than 28.
    But, you can tell she has more wisdom in her eyes than any person her age should.
    She welcomes you with a smile and your key without even asking for your name.
    At the bottom of the voucher were two boxes and a hole.
    The woman behind the desk took the voucher and punched a hole on the second box.
    She informs you that the third box will be punched if you have any guests during your stay.
    She hands the voucher back to you along with your key.

    Goosebumps went up your arm and down your spine.
    The woman walked back into her office and closed the door.
    You realize you forgot to ask where the room was.
    You head to the elevators and push the up button.
    10 minutes later you discover yourself in front of deep green door with the numbers 1996 on them.
    You realize you walked here as if you knew the way all along.
    Suddenly, you suffer a severe case of Déjà vu looking at the door.
    You decide to push the oddities out of your mind and enjoy the area, maybe the beach.

    A shower, change of clothes and 30 minutes later you find yourself outside the Inn.
    Just as your chose to go left, you realize you don’t have your wallet.
    You berate yourself for a moment for your absent mindedness that is your genetic legacy.
    Then you feel a tug on your shirt.
    Looking down you see a small boy about the age of 8.
    He explains that he had been separated from his parents because he had stopped to pet a cat.
    As his parents had been in a hurry, they hadn’t noticed.

    You bring the boy into the hotel and go up to the main desk to speak to the woman from before.
    She agrees to help by contacting the local police station.
    Then you hear a click.
    The receptionist has clipped the third square of the voucher.
    Realizing what your act kindness cost you, you berate yourself a little more for not realizing.
    You bring the boy with you to retrieve your wallet. As you head up to your room you see the boy follows you.
    You realize he’s hyper-focusing due to the adrenaline spike from getting separated.
    When you reach the room, you have the boy stay outside while you retrieve your wallet.

    While you are in the room you hear a sniffling coming from outside.
    Upon exiting the room the boy is on the floor crying while cross legged.

    You sit down in front of him, in the same pose, and tap him on the shoulder.
    “What’s wrong? I’m sure your parents will be here shortly.”
    “I’m an idiot. I can’t do anything right. I can’t even follow my parents for 10 minutes.”
    His cheeks were glistening from tears and you feel a drop in your stomach.
    “No way.” You say quietly to yourself as a memory clicks in your head.
    The Déjà vu goes away as memory becomes crystal in your mind.
    “Yes way! I can’t keep my thoughts straight.”
    Then you look him in the eye and say the words that helped you.

    “You’re not an idiot. Your brain works differently, that’s all.
    You’re not going to be able to understand why just yet, but I promise you, understanding will come.
    Do not let what you’re feeling now be your standard.
    When you feel this way, feel it.
    But then move past it.
    Hope is a better way to live than despair.
    Hope for the best, expect the worst.”

    You stand up and take the boy’s hand.
    Two hours later his family finds him and lovingly scolds him for getting separated.

    After they leave you wonder what the hell this place is and how you just spoke to your 8 year old self.
    You decide that you don’t want to tempt fate with a place like this and get your things.
    When you get to the front desk you apologize and ask if it would be okay to check out now.
    The woman behind the desk smiles and nods.
    She completes the check out process and thanks you for staying at the Time Inn.

    Attached to the bill was the voucher but all three boxes are unclicked.
    The woman behind the desk explained that she had had made a mistake when you brought the boy in.
    You are getting a new one to correct the mistake.
    The idea of coming back unnerves you a little but you still take it to be polite.
    You think you probably won’t end up using it.

    As you walk out the old man you ran into walked into the hotel.
    As he approaches you, you see a look of wonder in his eyes.
    He knows you but not in the way that he knew you from a week ago.
    But as if he hadn’t seen you in decades.
    He greets you, makes small talk, and asks if you know of any good places to eat.
    You think you know what he is asking, because it is what you would ask.

    You give him the name of the restaurant you met him at previously and he thanks you.
    As he is walking away you pull out the voucher and hand it to him.
    “You might need this.”
    “I know. I remember.”

    You leave wondering when you will get to walk back into these doors and give your younger self a severely needed talking too.

  • thesurrealari

    May 11, 2021 at 8:31 am
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    You are ahead of the game. Rough drafts aren’t due yet. I will look over your poem and see if there are any places I think you can cut (and I encourage other to do the same) once that step opens on wednesday.

  • thesurrealari

    May 24, 2021 at 8:18 pm
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    This is really cool. You deal with a lot of interesting and important concepts here. If you are looking for places to cut words, I don’t think you need the explanation that he is going to meet his younger self. For me, it’s implied in the story.

    I definitely see the Gaiman influence, so good job there.

    • james-mcgill

      May 27, 2021 at 8:24 pm


      Thank you man. I appreciate that. You have a good point. I’ll remove that line. If you can think of anything else, I would appreciate it. I’m still over a 1000 though. Sorry about that.

      • thesurrealari

        June 6, 2021 at 11:55 pm
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        If you send me the doc in a format where I can suggest edits, either word or google doc, I can take a swing at it. I am pretty good at cutting with the scalpel rather than the axe, but I would want you to see the suggested changes at this point rather than impose them.

  • thesurrealari

    July 8, 2021 at 4:15 am
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    I have not forgotten about this. I will have my suggested cuts to you by the weekend.

    • james-mcgill

      July 8, 2021 at 6:14 am

      Not a problem sir. I didn’t think you had. I pretty sure you have a lot on your plate at the moment that is probably much more important. Get to it when you can. I’m not going anywhere.

  • thesurrealari

    July 21, 2021 at 1:51 am
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    Your art came in, and it’s been uploaded to your folder. If you’d like to see it, take a look.

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