Smorgasbord Short Story Festival – 9th – 12th June – Search and Seizure by Phillip T. Stephens


Delighted to welcome my next guest writer to the short story festival, Phillip T. Stephens with his science fiction contribution with a topical twist.

Search and Seizure by Phillip T. Stephens.

The Jovian Starlines conveyor belt shuttled Faust and Roxanne to the customs counter. The obsequious looking rodent behind the counter held out his hand. “Name?” he squeaked. His whiskers bounced like a see saw when he spoke.

“Roxanne Street,” she said, dropping her HolID into his white-gloved hand. The rat slipped it into the HoloViewer and scanned the data stream cascading down her fully dimensional facsimile.

“What’s that on your shoulder?” he demanded.

“You mean the whip?” Cracked leather strips, braided together in a chord, coiled up her right arm. “It’s an ancient Terran herding device, now worn exclusively for ornamentation.”

The rodent returned her card. “Name?” he asked Faust.

“Goëthe Whip,” cracked Faust, who collected false identities the way other connoisseurs collected fine wines or pre-Twentieth Century artillery. He gave the rodent his voice activated, instantly programmable HolID. Faust kept his invention secret. Cheap Titan clones would flood the inhabitable planets the day after he sold even one on the black market.

“Open your bags,” the officer ordered.

“Why?” Roxanne demanded.

“Drug search. There’s a big market in Auralen 5 right now.”

“I’m tired of your planetary profiling,” Faust said. “Just because we’re Terran, it doesn’t make us drug smugglers.”

“We all came from the same ocean,” Roxanne said, sliding her solar lenses back into her eyelids. “Besides, shouldn’t you be more concerned about terrorists than drugs?”

“We won the war against terrorism. Don’t you listen to Emperor Trump 720? The new war is the war on drugs.”

The clerk waved through three Martians lugging large trunks without even checking their HolIDs. “See what I mean” Faust said. “Why didn’t you search their trunks?”

“Do they look like drug dealers?” the official squeaked.

Roxanne snapped her whip. The whip cracked against the trunk, opening the latch. Particle cannons and subterranean mines clattered across the star port floor. One of the Martians drew his top-spinning quark gun. Roxanne snapped her whip again. He jumped back from the whip, cracked his head against the wall and collapsed to the floor.

The rodent kissed her feet and thanked her for saving his ass. He returned their bags and passed them through.

Back at their apartment, Faust kissed Roxanne and said, “Great decoy, Rox. We’ll be on Saturn before they discover the guns were fake.”

He set up the flash freezer and froze the whip. Roxanne slammed it on the table. The whip cracked. She slammed it again. The whip shattered, spilling out twenty-two grams of crystal Auralen 5, worth seventeen million dollars. Martian dollars.

©PhillipTStephens 2017

About Phillip T. Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore.

A selection of books by Phillip T. Stephens.

Read the reviews and buy the books:https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip.

Blog: http://ptstephens.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

My thanks to Phillip for his contribution to the short story fest and for keeping you entertained in my absence. Please check out his books and share thank you Sally.

Coming up this afternoon a story from Wendy Janes – From Hackney to Hollywood.

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Party – Guest Phillip T. Stephens with A Christmas Carol: The Sequel


Smorgasbord Christmas Party

My guest, Phillip T. Stephens, was also here earlier in the party with a very informative and important message about adopting a kitten at this time of year.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/smorgasbord-christmas-party-guest-phillip-t-stephens-comfort-and-hair-balls-you-better-think-twice/

He is now back with a short story……

A Christmas Carol: The Sequel by Phillip T. Stephens

The money came pouring in last year. We weren’t rich, but for the first time in three years both my wife and I worked all twelve months, she got a raise and I made twice what I made the previous four years put together.

Let me put it this way: we gave the nineteen-inch TV and our old blu-ray to my son, bought a 4k 3D blu-ray player, a 65-inch HDTV, a stereo surround sound system, another HDTV for the bedroom, and an iMac. Even an X-Box with enough games to keep Bryan in his room for most of the summer. A new microwave, some furniture….

You get the picture.

Don’t think our basic values changed. Carol and I still looked down our nose on materialistic lifestyles. We simply had lived hand to mouth for a long time and wanted to loosen the purse strings. Come Christmas time, we let loose like reluctant drunks released after a year’s sentence in rehab.

Dancing Santa dwarfed our driveway shouting “Ho, ho, ho,” until the timer shut him down at midnight, elves darted down our railing fence over twelve strands of multicolored lights, while a holographic display flashed angels with flashing wings and trumpets across our picture window. Our neighbors drove past shaking their heads in disbelief and dismay with each new item added to the display. One, Jerry Dixon, flashed a finger every time he passed, even if he struggled to stick it up in his leather glove on winter mornings. Inside the picture window, I’m not ashamed, we finally could show off presents piled under the peppermint candy Christmas tree instead of the half dozen shoe box sized gifts and scrawny spruce we showed to the world in years before.

We spent Christmas Eve watching Die Hard and Die Hard II in THX surround sound and fought to keep Bryan out of his presents, finally retiring around midnight, our heads filled with visions of dancing bullets and blood spattered holiday fireworks. I drifted off to peaceful sleep…

…only to be wakened by such a clatter in the living room that I sprung from the water bed to see what the cats had knocked from the mantle. I dashed from the bedroom and threw on the lights only to see Santa stepping through our picture window with our new 65-inch 4k HDTV screen cradled in his arms.

“Bet’y’re wondering what I’m up to,” he said, a drip of tobacco juice dribbling down his white beard.

“Looks like you’re stealing my brand new TV.”

Santa’s outfit had definitely seen better days. The white edging fell away at the cuffs, and I thought I saw teeth marks in a couple of places. The felt looked flat and worn in the late night light. His six-inch belt barely reached around his belly, and an inflamed toe stuck through the seam of his left boot.

He stared at me as though I were Ebenezer Scrooge holding him for ransom. “Not stealing,” he said. “Sharing. What with global warming we’re broke at the North Pole, and I need this TV for the kids at the School for the Blind.”

“What do blind kids need with a high def TV?”

He shifted his fingers along the bottom edge of my TV, almost dropping it onto the window sill. “They turn the sound up real loud.”

“I suppose you want my sound system for the School for the Deaf.”

He chewed on his tobacco for a second then spit into the grass outside. “Senior Citizens home in Bastrop. But half of ’em’re deaf.”

At this point my TV slipped through his fingers and I leaped to grab it before it fell. I detected the sour odor of cheap whiskey and cigarettes. I pulled my TV toward me when his grip tightened and he said, “Geez o’ Pete, ain’t ya got no Christmas spirit?”

I thought about the years I spent on the verge of poverty and the many friends and relatives who wouldn’t give me the time of day. The good Republicans who assured me I should pull myself up by my own bootstraps and my many Christian friends who told me to be warm and filled with the spirit of Christ. Even though I knew I was still paying for that TV at 12 percent interest, I helped him carry it through the window and load it into a battered station wagon which he’d pulled into my backyard.

Along with the sound system, Bryan’s X-Box, the TV from our bedroom and our new iMac. He asked if I had a drink; I figured he had enough already and sent him on his way.

The next morning, when Carol and Bryan woke I told them about reverse Santa and, for some reason, they didn’t share the Christmas spirit to the same degree I did. Especially when Carol told me we wouldn’t be buying any replacements any time soon.

However, after coffee, two glasses of her favorite port, and brunch at Kerbey Lane Cafe, we found It’s a Wonderful Life on cable. With two more glasses of port, Carol began to feel the Christmas spirit. Bryan found an old Nintendo and began to speak to me again.

That’s when the sheriff showed up at our door to tell us he’d arrested someone called the Santa Burglar and would I come down to ID him?

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.

The sheriff explained that he arrested a man whose MO was to burglarize houses and claim to be the reverse Santa, stealing goods for charitable causes. They identified the stolen goods as a television, sound system and computer that we had registered with our insurance.

“Oh, no,” I said. “We told him he could give the television to the School for the Blind.”

The sheriff, a short man, who wore a ten gallon hat half a tall as he, one of those men who sought out law enforcement to prove a point no one else cared if he made, chewed on his ball point pen for a moment and said, “How can blind kids watch a TV?”

My son Bryan yelled over the movie, “They turn the sound up loud.” He said it with the sarcasm of youth, even though he was more angry when he raised exactly the same objection that very morning than I had been last night.

The sheriff didn’t recognize Bryan, but the summer before he declared an X-theme bike race that Bryan won and his son lost invalid and made them run it again. Three times. Until his son won.

“The sound system’s for a senior citizen’s home,” I added.

At that moment the sheriff studied me more closely. “Say?” he drawled, the long “say,” perfected in the Texas hill country where the vowel is dragged out for several seconds. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

“Maybe from the new subdivision protest last summer?” I reminded him. “When you told me any developer with the money to make a campaign contribution had the free speech right to use eminent domain to uproot my cheap ass house?”

The expression on his face told me he suddenly did remember where he knew me from.

“Those weren’t exactly the words I used.”

“To the word,” I told him.

The sheriff left immediately. I don’t know if he let the Santa Burglar go, but I hope he did. But only after feeding him a Christmas meal.

I hope that you appreciate the spirit with which I shared this story. That whatever traditions you celebrate for the holidays, you remember that there are always those who don’t have the blessings we have. And I hope that one Christmas, when you least expect it, the Santa Burglar blesses your house as much as he blessed ours.

©PhillipTStephens 2016

About Phillip T. Stephens

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Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore.

51mzdrcynrl-_uy250_What the readers are saying

“This is an important book that provides positive insights for both for adults and children who have to deal with bullying”.

“Well thought-out, fantastical journey through a spiritual life. Seeing Jesus will challenge you to see yourself.” Jen Winters author, Falling Angels

“A quirky, suspenseful story of school bullying with a surprise ending.” Lynne Murray, author of Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone.

BUY the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Jesus-Phillip-T-Stephens-ebook/dp/B015X2QHII

Also by Phillip T. Stephens

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BUY all the Books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip T. Stephens

Blog: http://ptstephens.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

 

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Party Guest Phillip T. Stephens – Comfort and Hair Balls? You Better Think Twice.


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There are far too many stories about puppies and kittens being given as Christmas gifts and then being given to a sanctuary because the experience is not as joyful as expected. Author Phillip T. Stephens and his wife work with the Austin Siamese Rescue organisation and has written a thought provoking article on the pros and cons of adopting a kitten. So if you are planning on doing so this Christmas, now would be a good time to think things through… and discuss with the whole family.

Comfort and Hair Balls? You Better Think Twice

It’s Christmas, you walk past that pet store or you see the adoption people at the mall and there, staring back at you is the cutest calico kitten you’ve ever seen. Big eyes as though painted on by Margaret Keane, staring at you, pleading, “take me home, take me home.” As Cele so beautifully demonstrates.

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You think, “What a perfect present for the kids. It will teach them responsibility, how to feed and nurture their own pet, change its litter.”

Does Santa have a surprise for you.

Far too many of the kittens purchased as Christmas presents end up at the shelter or with rescue groups like Siamese Rescue. Parents learn far too quickly that their children aren’t ready for the responsibilities of raising a kitten.

They intend to feed Milo, as soon as they finish their homework (didn’t happen), take out the trash (didn’t happen), finish this video game. Or maybe your children do prove to be more responsible than my son, nephews and nieces but many families aren’t prepared for the reality of kittens.[ This includes puppies too. Our first puppy, Pookah, an American Eskimo, in his first two weeks, ripped the wallpaper off the kitchen and bathroom walls, chewed three pairs of Carol’s work shoes, and chewed every wire to connecting my dolby sound system to its speakers]

Kittens may not take to the litter box right away. Kittens chew books, album covers, and important documents. Kittens scratch furniture. Kittens pounce on toes and hair when you’re trying to sleep. (Many adopters think they can fix the furniture scratching by declawing, but that surgery is a cruel, painful process that removes their knuckles and leaves them with no defense against other cats except their teeth.)

Even worse, kittens cry for attention at night. All night.

You might think, how, can Phillip say these things? He’s trying to get us to adopt kitties. Well, actually, I’m not. Austin Siamese Rescue wants to match the right cat to the right family, whether it be a precocious kitten or a mellow middle-aged matron. A good adoption builds the foundation of a successful relationship. Many of our adopters talk to us years later, contact us for friends and refer us to other potential adopters. And who would not want Boyfriend.. in his tuxedo.

image2We don’t want cats coming back because cats suffer depression when their families abandon them. People find this hard to believe, but years of experience taught us that the more homes a cat has been through, the harder they find it to adjust in the future.

Does that mean a kitten is a bad Christmas present? By no means. A new cat can brighten your Christmas like an angel at the top of your tree. But you should adopt a kitten with thought and care. Before your family adopts you should:

Make the adoption a family decision and not a surprise.

If your child has been asking for a pet, make sure to discuss the realities and consequences of pet ownership before surprising them with that cute kitty.

Discuss the potential problems a pet may face adjusting with the rescuer or adopter.
Avoid pet stores and pet mills. They tend to not be responsible for their animals even though they claim otherwise

Consider adopting an older kitty who is older, calmer, more settled and yet makes a great family companion. Kids think they love kittens, but older cats are great with kids and the two often form deep bonds that last a lifetime.

One of the most common reasons cats are returned or surrendered is sudden veterinary expenses. Consider starting a fund, or buying pet insurance for the times when your new pet will need veterinary care. Banking against that possibility helps make sure you keep your family together.

By preparing for your new cat’s Christmas day arrival you can insure a long life of comfort and joy, rather than a return trip to the North Pole on Santa’s sleigh.

Many thanks to my wife Carol and the members of Austin Siamese Rescue for contributing to the advice in this post.

Cele courtesy of Austin Siamese Rescue

Boyfriend courtesy of Austin Siamese Rescue

About Phillip T. Stevens

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Phillip T. Stephens, a professional educator and writer who developed a number of innovative classroom programs for exceptional and at-risk youth, drew on his own experiences as a minister’s son being frequently moved to new schools as well as those of his students to write Seeing Jesus. He and his wife carol rescue and rescue cats in Austin, Texas for http://www.austinsiameserescue.org/

He is author of Seeing Jesus. A humorous, coming of age story, suitable for Christmas reading, Seeing Jesus introduces young readers to questions of spirituality and philosophy they might not otherwise find the opportunity to explore. 

51mzdrcynrl-_uy250_About the book

An unlikely friendship blossoms into a community…

Eighth grader Sara Love’s parents transplanted her from Austin to the tiny town of Pollen, Texas, where she stands out like a blackhead on a bright red nose. Her father expects her to get along with the Queen Bee Jana Payne, the mayor’s daughter, and the rest of her hive because his business depends on the mayor’s approval. The hive wants nothing to do with Sara, nor does class clown Delbert Thrash, or any of the other kids for that matter.

Sara makes friends with Mr. Fisher, a homeless man, who no one else can see. Mr. Fisher tells Sara wonderful stories, stories that not only entertain her but help her discover resources within herself that allow her to cope with her loneliness and frustration.

Her parents aren’t happy to learn about Mr. Fisher, however, and just when Sara is cast to narrate the Christmas play her classmates learn about Sara’s imaginary friend, too. Sara discovers every dark cloud has even darker clouds pushing past, only when she turns to Mr. Fisher for help, he vanishes.

Can Sarah use Mr. Fisher’s lessons to rise to the occasion, gain her family and friends’ acceptance, not to mention save her father’s job and the Christmas play?

N.B. Phillip T. Stephens will release Seeing Jesus in two versions. This, the Young Adult version, and the unabridged version for adult readers.  Without being doctrinaire, Seeing Jesus provides readers a chance to address questions they will confront in the news, their classes and professional lives.

What the readers are saying

“This is an important book that provides positive insights for both for adults and children who have to deal with bullying”.

“Well thought-out, fantastical journey through a spiritual life. Seeing Jesus will challenge you to see yourself.” Jen Winters author, Falling Angels

“A quirky, suspenseful story of school bullying with a surprise ending.” Lynne Murray, author of Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone.

BUY the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Jesus-Phillip-T-Stephens-ebook/dp/B015X2QHII

Also by Phillip T. Stephens

51ppoog-7pl-_uy250_51xc4-s1xrl-_ac_us240_ql65_51tdyc4ho1l 51-yuumf9l

BUY all the Books: https://www.amazon.com/Phillip-Stephens/e/B0091XK7HS

Connect to Phillip T. Stephens

Blog: http://ptstephens.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephens_pt

My thanks to Phillip for this article that really drives home the fact that adopting a pet is not as simple as falling in love and taking it home.. it is a lifetime’s commitment.

I look forward to your feedback and please share this message with your own friends and family off and online. Thanks Sally