Schedule and Location

DUE TO COVID 19, WE ARE NOT HAVING LIVE MEETINGS AT THIS TIME!
Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. We meet the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Nokomis Fire Station. Coming from Sarasota or North, proceed a few blocks south of Albee Road on US 41 (past Matthews-Currie Ford) to Pavonia Road. Turn right (West, toward the bay) at the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are 2 blocks north of Dona Bay. Turn left onto Pavonia Road at the flashing yellow caution light. At the Fire Station, drive to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room at the far end of the complex. We Gather for a meet and greet at 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten-minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Adjourns: 9:00 pm

Sunday, October 11, 2020

INTERNET FAILURE

 Computers: aren’t they wonderful?

As a writer, I rely on my computer daily. Word processing is a significant part of my life. I tap away on the keyboard for hours almost every day. I’ve installed programs that allow me access to worlds I’ve not been privileged to see. I’ve been at the signing of the Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States, and witnessed the destruction of historical empires on the screen sitting at my desk. Many virtual scenes in history are not available in picture form, only in words penned by authors. 

While all translations of the authors’ works are less than 100% accurate, an astute reader can check out more than one account and make decisions independently.

With all that greatness, these machines can be a pain in the a… I mean, like the other night, when I was scheduled to host a ZOOM meeting. Five minutes before going live, my internet failed. I don’t know what happened; some of it may have been human error. BUT; I couldn’t make that machine work. I begged, pleaded, pushed buttons, smacked it up alongside its power switch, and resorted to prayer at least twice. None of that worked. A message on the screen kept on telling me, “YOU ARE NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET.” No kidding. 

I’m sorry. Three hours later, the darn thing went “BING,” and the internet worked just fine. My JUNK MAIL folder was full. Oh well, the best-laid plans…

I’m looking at my schedule; I see the third Wednesday of this month, October 21st, is available. I will reschedule our meeting for then. Here’s hoping the electronic elves are working that night at my house. Oh, by the way. I live in a community where there’s only one option for internet providers unless I contract something special. I can’t afford that, so I guess I’m stuck. See you on the 21st.

Until then, KEEP ON WRITING.


Thursday, October 01, 2020

Elizabeth had joined us in our meetings several times. Always informative and in the know about writing and publishing.  

Please join us when mystery author Elizabeth Sims virtually visits Ringling College of Art and Design on Tuesday, Oct 6 @ 7pm
Visiting Writers Forum

An Author Reading & Conversation Series

See the source image
Elizabeth Sims
Tuesday, Oct 6
7:00 - 8:15 pm
via ZOOM
(link below)


Elizabeth Sims is an American writer, journalist, and contributing editor at Writer's Digest magazine. She is a former correspondent for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and author of two series of crime novels, including her Rita Farmer Mystery Series, originally published by St. Martin's Press Minotaur, and the Lillian Byrd Crime Series, originally published by Alyson Books. She serves as a coach and mentor for new and aspiring writers and offers keynote speeches and presents workshops at writer's conferences around North America.

http://elizabethsims.com/
    
See the source image   See the source image 


See the source image

Here's the ZOOM link for this event.


Ringling College Creative Writing Program is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Elizabeth Sims (VWF) Oct 6
Time: Oct 6, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://ringling-edu.zoom.us/j/99001905379

Meeting ID: 990 0190 5379
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Meeting ID: 990 0190 5379
Find your local number: https://ringling-edu.zoom.us/u/acts6IopXC

Join by Skype for Business
https://ringling-edu.zoom.us/skype/99001905379
 
********

While this event is free and open to the public, we do have a limit on how many can attend, so this link is only for people who receive these emails, please.

If others are interested in attending, have them send a request to creativewriting@ringling.edu. We can more than likely accommodate them.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Stories Influenced by Covid-19

The following was sent to us for the blog by Joe Giorgianni. We hope you enjoy a short, but humorous look at our world today.


 Mask-wearing 101

Joe Giorgianni

Recently I was in a market selecting things that I would prepare for dinner.  While there, I couldn’t help but notice how many people were not wearing a mask when all the science and medical gurus say we should be wearing one.  Thoughts went through my mind about the pros and cons of mask-wearing. Some of which I would like to mention in this missive. 

Permit me to first share a few thoughts on the benefits of mask-wearing, besides the obvious.  First, mask-wearing is a good reason to stay away from people you don’t like being around in the first place.  We all have them, so take advantage of this.  No excuse is needed for your distance.  Second, a mask allows a person to eat all the garlic they want and not offend anyone, except themselves. Also, mask-wearing by others keeps you from looking at ugly people.  The thought just occurred to me that I never thought in a million years that I would walk into a bank wearing a mask and ask for money.  

Now then, permit me to expand on the obvious and scientific reasons for mask-wearing during these critical times, including making an effort to stop the spread of this dastardly outbreak.  The scientists, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci et al., who preach to be apolitical, have expounded endlessly on the benefits of wearing a mask.  However, there are those who insist they have good reasons for non-compliance, many of which ring hollow.  Permit me to list just a few, be they lame or justified.

1.    Wearing a mask is uncomfortable. (Not, however, as uncomfortable as being on a ventilator unable to breathe on your own.)

2.    Mask-wearing is claustrophobic.  

3.    Covid-19 is a hoax and not as bad as made out to be. (Tell this to the more than 204,000 who have died from Corona Virus) 

4.    It restricts my breathing, (This was debunked by a physician,  who, while wearing a mask, ran twenty-two miles with no ill effects.)

5.    The mask will cause carbon dioxide poisoning. 

6.    It’s not masculine

7.    Prevents good communication. (okay… on this one, I have to agree.  Being hearing impaired, I do find it difficult to sometimes 

Frankly, and in my opinion, none of the above reasons for NOT wearing a mask in no way debunks the science FOR wearing one.  So, if we might ever meet up again when this crisis is over, or even if it isn’t over, please be considerate of me as well as others with whom you come into contact.  And I almost forget…please speak loudly.  Sometimes my ears don’t work so good.  


What do you think…white or dark? 


Is The Wing White meat or Dark Meat?

By

Joe Giorgianni

If you were at a dinner party where chicken was served and someone offered you a wing, would you be getting white meat or dark meat?

This was the topic of conversation at a recent dinner party at my home recently.  I have to say, I’m more confused now that ever.  The answers, reasons and rationale given for each supporting answer were compelling, but not conclusive.  For example, one person said that the wing of a chicken is dark meat because it is an extremity of the bird.  Therefore, like the leg, it is dark meat.  Another mentioned that since it is next to the breast, which we all know is white meat, the wing would obviously be considered white meat.

Being of sometimes sound mind, and curious to a fault, I grabbed a whole chicken (cooked beer can style on the grill) and ripped off both wings.  My wife, who thinks that the cheese has already slid from my cracker, looked at me like I might be dangerous. 

            “What on earth are you doing?” She asked.

            “I’m proving a point”, I said.  “I’m telling you that the wing of a chicken is dark meat.”

After dissecting the entire bird, I carefully cut the meat from the bone in the wing.  To enable me to see the exact color in the candle lit room I went to the kitchen to get a flashlight.  When I returned, both wings were gone. 

            “What happened to the two wings I had on my plate?” I asked my wife. 

            “Larry ate them,” she said.  “You know how he loves the wings.”

            “But I was doing research on them.” I told her as I watched Larry pick his teeth.

Well that was the end of that dispute, at least for the time being. Later, while getting ready for bed, I asked my wife what her opinion was as to the color of the meat in a chicken wing.

            “What difference does it make?” She asked.

            “I won’t be able to sleep until I know for sure.” I told her. 

Once again she gave me that “you need help look.”

Being fully awake now, I went to my computer and looked up the email address for the United States Council on Poultry.  I thought that if anyone would know the answer, they would.  Addressing my letter to the nutrition/education department, I asked if they could settle this argumentative dispute.  Could they please explain why some of the meat is white and some is dark.  Further, and more specifically, is the meat in the wing of a chicken considered white or dark?

I told my wife that I had written the authorities and when they respond we will finally know the answer to this deep and philosophical question.  I’m pretty sure this in not a priority of hers as I got yet another look that said, “I know the wheel is turning, but I think your gerbil has died.”

The next morning I rushed to my computer to see if the poultry Council had responded to my question.  After sorting through the important messages, such as “Have you found your soul mate?” and “Let us resolve your credit problem,” I saw the response from the council. 

                       Dear Sir:

                        In response to your question regarding

                        the color of wing meat, a meeting of the

                        entire Educational-board was held to

                        determine the best way to answer your question. 

                       

                        After much deliberation, it was concluded

                         that the color of wing meat is actually

                         secondary to our primary concern. 

                        We’re still trying to figure out why the

                        damn thing crossed the road. 

 

            Yours truly,

            Foghorn Leghorn


 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

ATTENTION ALL SARASOTA WRITERS! 



Visiting Writers Forum

An Author Reading & Conversation Series

cherylklein
Cheryl Klein
Tuesday, Sept 22
7:00 - 8:15 pm
via ZOOM
(link below)


Cheryl Klein is the editorial director at Lee & Low Books. She is also the author of two adult books, The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults and Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, and three picture books, Wings, Thunder Trucks, and A Year of Magical Thinking. Prior to her work at Lee & Low, she spent sixteen years at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, where she published a wide array of acclaimed titles and served as the continuity editor for the last two books of the Harry Potter series. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

http://www.cherylklein.com/
     WINGS cover.jpg
 

Klein on how she got started in the writing/publishing world:
Thanks to both nature and nurture, I am a total children’s books nerd. My grandfather was a professor of children’s literature and founded one of the nation’s
first children’s author festivals, so I grew up reading kids’ books long after it was socially acceptable to do so. I decided I wanted to go into publishing while I was still in high school; I read Publishers Weekly at Carleton College (where I majored in English, of course); I became an editorial assistant within three months of my college graduation, and I gave my first talk on craft at a writers’ conference fewer than nine months after that.

Klein on her work as an editor:
I think of my work as an editor as being a mechanic for stories:  I take books apart, examine their component pieces, and help my authors assemble them again as more elegant and polished machines. My writing for writers, from this point of view, is the instruction manual for the machinery — how I articulate the instincts and knowledge about fiction I’ve gained over nearly two decades of working with writers and their books.

 

Here's the ZOOM link for this event.


Ringling College Creative Writing Program is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Cheryl Klein VWF (Sept 22)
Time: Sep 22, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://ringling-edu.zoom.us/j/97849239458

Meeting ID: 978 4923 9458
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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 978 4923 9458
Find your local number: https://ringling-edu.zoom.us/u/aclgw510w8

Join by Skype for Business
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********

While this event is free and open to the public, we do have a limit on how many can attend, so this link is only for people who receive these emails, please.

If others are interested in attending, have them send a request to creativewriting@ringling.edu. We can more than likely accommodate them.

Thanks for your help with this!
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Friday, September 11, 2020

SOMETHING FROM A QUARANTINED MIND

Writing is a lonely pursuit at best. The art of finding a story to tell, finding the right words, and putting them in the order best suited to tell the story bends one's mind. Combine that with an isolation to avoid a pandemic, and you might get something like the following.

Let me hear from you. Send me a story to post on this blog, allow others to share your thoughts. It might even let you take a break from what you're working on now. Sometimes a change of pace allows us to refocus and helps guide our thoughts. 

I hope you will enjoy this little adventure, it really happened right here in Sarasota. 


The Mummy Man

by Rod DiGruttolo


“It’s the mummy! Here comes the mummy!” The shouts of a young boy echo through the empty building. Outside it’s dark, moonless, and the closest streetlight is nearly a block away. It’s 8:30 PM, but to these twelve-year-old boys, it could just as well have been midnight. 


By 1955 reports of a Mummy Man roaming the dark streets and empty buildings around Sarasota had been active for years. Some believed it was an old man who lived in a shack down by the bayou. Others contended it was a murder victim whose unrequited soul remained behind to haunt the city that could not solve his murder. A few blamed an old sarcophagus John Ringling stored in his mansion decades earlier. Regardless, the Mummy Man was real to most kids, and more than one adult.

Pete Brash and his friends had come to think of the empty building as their own. After all, they’d attended elementary school here for at least five years. It was closed now. A new campus was complete a mile away and ready to open for the new school year. This old school was scheduled for demolition. 

Pete and his friends found their way inside almost immediately after it closed at the end of the school year. In the beginning, they roamed the empty halls searching for anything abandoned by teachers, students, or administration. They carried off books, paper, and pencils left behind in old storage rooms or open lockers. Pete even found a pair of tennis shoes he’d lost last school year. 

A few weeks after the school year ended, the School Board dispatched a crew of movers to the old building to remove all the desks, lockers, and useable equipment. Electricity was shut off and water supplies were curtailed, causing the water fountains and toilets to stop working. That did little to deter the boys as the rooms, closets, and hallways were great places to explore, especially those administrative offices ordinarily off-limits to students, unless in serious trouble. Principal Bradly’s office was especially intriguing, though not totally unfamiliar to Pete and his friends. 

Niches and recessed doorways in dark halls provided excellent places to conceal eleven and twelve-year-old boys planning to stage an ambush or frighten friends. The school classrooms were large, with windows filling the whole wall on one side. Even though the windows were slowly succumbing to layers of dust and grime stirred up by the moving men and the boy’s activities, the rooms were bright during the daylight hours. Rain and wind wreaked havoc on the exterior. Without the constant attention of custodians, the process of deterioration took its toll. At least two roof leaks appeared even before the summer was gone. 

It wasn’t until the arrival of cooler weather that Pete and his friends started to notice changes. Things were moved, large footprints appeared on dusty floors, and the strangest thing of all, the water was back on.

Dale Brown, Pete’s closest friend, calculated the school board must have turned the water on. He figured the workers, who would soon be tearing down the building, needed water to use the restrooms and drink from fountains while they were working. Roy, Cliff, and Jimmy agreed, although somewhat tentatively. Mark opted out; he remained convinced the place was haunted by the Mummy Man. 

On a particular Friday night, two weeks before the end of October, the boys planned a camping trip. They’d worked all week diligently convincing their parents this would be a good thing. Their camping area was designated in a small but well-maintained park only a few hundred feet from the chain-link fence surrounding the old school. After checking out the park and observing city police on regular patrols through that park several times each night, the parents gave in; the campout was approved.

After school, the boys assembled at Pete’s house. The two-car garage gave them plenty of room to gather their gear. Six boys, three two-man “pup” tents courtesy of Army Surplus, and three backpacks, vintage 1944 or earlier, filled to overflowing with true essentials like Snickers, Graham Crackers, and Cracker Jacks, were cinched up and made ready for the overnight excursion. The forecast was good, no rain expected, and the temperature was to be mild, low to mid-sixties, overnight. Each boy packed a jacket, Mom’s orders, and rode their bicycles to the park.

Pete’s dad, accompanied by Jimmy’s parents, cruised past the campsite at dusk. They reported back to the other parents how the boys were faring. The campers were set up, the lanterns glowing brightly, and a small campfire burning safely in the barbecue grill adjacent to their campsite. It was 6:45 PM.

“All clear,” Cliff called as Mr. Brash’s Buick turned the corner headed toward home. 

“Ya think anybody else will drive by?” Roy Wilson asked.

“Nah, I heard Dad talkin’ to your dad last night. He said they’d check on us about dark. They were sure the beat cop would look in on us during the night. We got it made now,” Pete said. “We gotta make up the bedrolls to look like we’re in the tents. Come full dark, we’ll get over to the school and find out who’s messin’ with our stuff.”

“I ain’t going over there in the dark,” Mark said, “that place is haunted. I’ve seen him. That Mummy Man over there last week when Mama drove by. We was on the way home from church, and there he was, all wound up in rags and hangin’ out by the front door.”

“Your mama see him?” Dale asked. A sneer flickered on his lips and in his voice.

“No, she ain’t see’d him, cause I didn’t point him out neither. I don’t want her sayin’ I can’t go out after dark.”

“You’re just scared,” Dale scoffed.

“T’ain’t neither! But I ain’t gonna tempt fate. What if that Mummy Man is there and you get caught. What you think he’d do to ya? I’ll bet he knows how to hurt ya in ways no live human ever thought of.”

Dale’s bravado kicked up a notch, “They ain’t no such thing as a Mummy Man. It said so in the paper just a couple of weeks back.”

“That old lady over on First Street claims she saw him last month.”

“That old lady’s nuts. She’s the one what claims to have seen Martians. Dad says she goes through a quart of cheap wine nearbout every day,” Dale retorted.

“Just the same. Remember when that old drunk said he saw Bigfoot last year? Nobody believed him either. What happened to him, huh?”

“That wasn’t Bigfoot. He saw a black bear and tried to catch it. That’s how he got all tore up.”

“If someone had believed him, that bear would’ve been tracked down and shot or sumthin’.”

Dale shook his head and grunted, Mark took the grunt as an agreement. It was almost dark; tree frogs were beginning to join the crickets in their nightly serenade.

As the boys prepared to launch their exploration of the foreboding building in the dark of night, they readied their gear. Pete checked the olive drab flashlight he’d “borrowed” from his dad. Dale, Roy, and Cliff carried similar lights. Jimmy brought a large lantern able to pierce the night with a brilliant beam of light; the lantern was powered by a massive nine-volt battery. 

Mark poked at the embers of the fire in the grill, and it flared as he added another branch. “I’ll stay here and guard the camp,” he said. “Ain’t no need lettin’ someone come in and walk off with our stuff.”

Pete glanced at Dale. Dale was about to say something, but Pete’s subtle headshake made him close his mouth.

“Makes sense to me,” Jimmy spoke up, “I guess we should’ve thought of that earlier. Good thing Mark’s willin’ to stay.”

The boys all nodded in agreement. After clipping the lights to their belts, they set out for the depression under the fence they used to enter the compound.

The window at the back of the school, the one leading into Ms. Johnson’s 5th-grade classroom, was unlocked; that’s how they always got in. The old wooden crate under the window was just high enough for them to hoist themselves over the ledge and slip inside. The wood flooring in the classrooms creaked under their steps in some places, but they’d figured out how to avoid those places months ago. The first indication that they were not alone in the building came as they crept down the hallway in near-total darkness.

Pete was in the lead, followed in single file by Roy, Cliff, Jimmy, and Dale bringing up the rear, they were creeping toward the center stairwell. Somewhere above, they heard something, was it someone walking? When a low groan, like someone moaning in pain, seeped down the stairs. The boys froze in place, eyes wide and mouths suddenly dry. 

“What was that?” Cliff’s rapid whisper made it sound like one word, whawuzat.

“Dunno,” was Roy’s breathless reply.

“Shush,” Pete hissed, “listen.”

The building was quiet. Somewhere above, a fluttering of wings and a series of rapid squeaks drifted on the stale air. “Bats,” Dale whispered, “saw them when we was here last week. That’s what makes that terrible stink over to the old science room too.”

“Bats stink?” Jimmy whispered.

“It’s their poop, dummy,” Cliff growled.

“Quiet!” Pete hissed, “I heard somethin’ else.”

“Huh?” Roy asked.

“Shush!”

Frozen, the boys listened. Each of them strained to hear. Their own heartbeats pounded in their ears. 

Pete took a cautious step forward, his foot slid into the stairwell, it scraped on the terrazzo step. He stopped. Silence permeated the space, the sour stench of fear assailed his nostrils, and a voice deep inside him whispered in a hushed scream. “Retreat,”

Knowing to retreat now would show cowardice to his friends, Pete swallowed his fear and pressed on. Two, three, then a half-dozen steps brought them to the first landing. Still, only silence echoed in their ears. A few more steps and they were on the second floor. The upper floor was even darker than the ground floor. There were no outside doors with glass panes to let in the faint glow of distant streetlamps. All the classroom doors were closed and dark. Somewhere, a beam creaked, the sound of a dripping faucet emulated the beating of an alien heart and footsteps. Someone, or something, was walking ever so slowly down the hall.

Pete clawed at his belt in an attempt to find his flashlight. As he fumbled with the rusty clasp holding the light in place, a brilliant beam cut through the darkness from behind him. The hallway ahead was awash in a stark white glare. Jimmy had turned on the electric lantern he carried. 

The building was frightening in its emptiness. The bright light dispelled darkness in the main hall, but niches, nooks, and crannies were darker than ever. An empty tin can clattered on the terrazzo, and a large rat raced from behind a protruding buttress streaking for the cover of darkness beyond the light. As it flashed past them, the boys hugged the wall for protection, and Jimmy tracked the creature’s path with the beam. As the rat disappeared in the shadows, the light revealed an even more terrifying sight.

Caught in the brilliant beam for a flash, a brief flicker, a man, or what once was a man, stood shrouded in rags streaming from flailing arms. It was there for only a heartbeat before the figure ducked into the rear stairwell. A gruesome wail seemed to come from the apparition before it disappeared. 

Jimmy’s hands shook. He was unable to steady the beam of light. It seemed to bounce from floor to ceiling and wall to wall without rhyme or reason. 

The sound of breaking glass behind them drew a squeal of fear from all five boys.  Pete had managed to extradite his flashlight from his belt and turned it on, aiming it toward the sound of breaking glass. At least two other lights joined his.  A dark bundle of fur flashed across the hall. Whatever it was exited a niche and plunged down the stairs. A shriek of anger and a warning growl followed the creature into the dark. Dale spun back the way they’d come, and the others followed almost as a single body. 

Shadows in that central stairwell vanished before the lantern’s brilliant beam. But Jimmy stumbled and fell. The lantern bounced on the terrazzo as he lost his grip. It ricocheted off the wall, spun dizzily down the steps, and cleared the landing. The light went out. Now, only yellow beams of four old flashlights danced on dirty pale green walls. Even though they’d been burning for only a few minutes, their bulbs seemed to be dimming rapidly.

At the base of the stairs, the boys played their flashlights up and down the hallway, searching for the quickest exit. The smashed lantern lay at their feet, the battery disconnected, and the lens smashed. The hall was empty. Pete held up his hand for quiet, the boys stood stock still. The sound of a guttural grunt drifted down the hall from the front of the building. The source was beyond the range of their lights. The sound seemed to come from all directions as it echoed off the walls. Another sound, more subtle and faint, came from the darkness behind the boys. They strained to hear’ it sounded like someone, or something, panting.

“It must be that animal,” Cliff whimpered, “What was it? Could you see, Pete?”

“No. It was either a huge rat or something that escaped from Ms. Redfield’s science projects. Remember, she had some strange looking creatures in those big old jars.”

“It had teeth at least an inch long,” Jimmy added, “I seen that before it jumped down the stairs.”

“I don’t care about no five-pound rat,” Dale gasped, “What about that thing at the other end of the hall? Was that Mummy Man?”

“Thought you didn’t believe in Mummy Man,” Roy said, his voice was almost a squeak. That failure of his voice had begun to occur sometimes.

“Let’s get outta here,” Dale hissed and started toward the classroom where they’d come in.

Cliff grabbed his arm. “The Mummy Man’s that way,” he gulped.

“How else we gonna get out?” Dale whispered.

“Through here,” Pete whispered and played his light over the door to the Principal’s Office. “There’s window leading out over the grass by the front steps.” Even in the dim light, the boys could see his grin. “I’ve been in that office plenty of times.”

They rushed through the door and past the counter where Ms. Phillips and Wendy, the school nurse, used to do their jobs. A glass door on the back wall still bore the name Parker Bradly, Principal. They burst into the office. Pete was a little surprised, maybe disappointed, that the all too familiar desk and three leather chairs were missing. 

He rushed to the window and tugged up; it didn’t budge. Dale’s hand searched the top of the lower sash for a lock; there was none in evidence. Pete shone his light on the window frame. Two large nails protruded from the wood. “Jeese, it’s nailed shut.”

The boys stood in shock for a moment. A scraping sound in the hallway reminded them they were in a room with no exit. They rushed back to the hall; four dim lights searched the darkness but revealed nothing. Almost stumbling over each other, they began a cautious journey toward the next classroom. The door was closed; they knew it had been open just a few moments ago. A loud crash of breaking glass came from down the hallway. “Yeow,” Cliff yelled. He jumped backward, knocking Jimmy to the floor.

“Shaddup,” Roy barked.

“Shush,” whispered Pete. He waved his light toward the noise and took the first step in that direction. On tiptoe, they worked their way down the hallway to the next classroom. Its open door welcomed them. Pete peered inside; he swept the room with his light; it appeared empty. He stepped in, took a moment to survey the room, then motioned for his buddies to follow.

Dale rushed across the room and peered through the grimy window. “It’s a ten-foot drop to the sidewalk here,” he said. His words rolled through the building like a loudspeaker. 

“Jeesh,” Roy said in a stage whisper. The boys raced back to the door, hoping the hallway was still empty. They played their lights over the hall. The failing flashlights barely penetrated the darkness; they could see nothing. The boys moved past the next two rooms, also directly above the sidewalk. They were now only two doors from where they’d entered.

Cliff’s sharp intake of air seemed to freeze them in place as he pointed toward the open door. His weakening flashlight beam danced around the door, seemingly uncontrolled. “Something moved in there,” he croaked and shrank back, seeking the relative safety of the shadows.

Pete’s light was barely glowing, Dale’s had gone out completely. Roy and Cliff’s lights still emitted a weak beam of light but could hardly illuminate objects five or six feet away. Huddled together, the boys crept to the door and peered into what they hoped would be an empty classroom. It was dark; the room appeared cavernous with less than a quarter of the area illuminated by the dying flashlights. They set out to cross the room, sweeping the weakening beams before them. Roy’s light flickered and failed utterly. Cliff’s had diminished to a glowing speck of wire filament behind a dirty lens. Pete’s was off, not even a glow. Now, only five feet from the window, they could see it was closed. They had left it open.

Pete tiptoed to the window, with his last step broken glass ground under his foot. Cliff played his dying light on the broken glass and then on the window. Jagged spears of glass protruded from one of the six glass panes, and the light flickered out. “Is that blood on the glass?” Jimmy whispered. A streetlamp on the corner showed through the dirty glass with a reddish cast.

Pete grabbed the sash and lifted, the window raised effortlessly, and the crate was still in place below them. He whispered, “Roy, you go first.”

“Uhh-uh,” Roy grunted, “I ain’t going out first. What if Mummy Man’s waitin’ out there for us?”

“Cliff?” Pete asked.

“No way.”

“Move! I’ll go,” Dale said as he muscled his shoulders into the opening. 

“I’m next,” Jimmy said and stepped forward, close on Dale’s heels.

Dale was halfway out the window when a soft but persistent sound of claws raking the terrazzo floor sounded from the hallway.

“It’s the mummy! Here comes the mummy!” burst from Roy. He lunged forward, pushing Jimmy through the window. As they yelled and crowded into the window opening, Dale crashed to the ground, his feet slipping off the edge of the crate, Jimmy landed atop him with an unceremonious grunt. Roy’s feet landed hard wooden box and Cliff landed beside him with a jarring crash. The box shattered under them, depositing both Roy and Cliff on top of Dale and Jimmy struggling to untangle themselves from each other. Pete landed on the ground two feet from the pile of humanity, swearing he’d escaped just ahead of a grasping clawed hand. He twisted his ankle but didn’t realize it until they were under the fence and halfway back to their campsite.


Unseen by the boys, an opossum squeezed out through a small hole in the front of the building. At the same time, an old hobo scrambled from a window in the classroom around the corner from the boys, fearing he’d been discovered by ‘John Law.’ His exit was expedited by the sound of a window crashing closed and the rattle of broken glass falling to the floor. With his raggedy jacket streaming behind him, the bum sprinted across the lot with a disjointed limp. He found the gaping tear in the chain-link fence that had shredded his coat on the way in.


The boys gathered around their barbecue pit campfire and compared notes. They knew The Mummy Man was alive and well in the old school. They’d seen him, and his ghoulish pet with its long hairless tail, giant raking claws, and fangs at least three inches long.

 

Mark listened to the accounts of their close call with a smug smile on his usually expressionless face. He gazed past the boys, past the fire, into the darkness across the compound. While the boys competed to tell their stories, each more frightening and dangerous than the other, Mark watched as a raggedy old hobo made a beeline for the railroad tracks.