The Unbelievable Death of Joseph Goldberg by Oliver Franks is the lead story of four short stories presented in 106 pages. The author mentions in a message to the reader that he is starting out as a writer and has several projects planned for 2018. What follows is a sampler.
The Unbelievable Death of Joseph Goldberg Joseph had an unremarkable life except for a couple of incidents in his youth. The two incidents caused others to think him crazy. First, he had left the church and spent all his time contemplating starlings on a pier. This lasted until he went to Burma as part of the Air Force, crashed and nearly died in the jungle, and was nursed back to health by a village shaman. The shaman’s medicine was quite powerful and initiated many hallucinations. His final hallucination, when he became a beetle, was the most disquieting but he was able to kill his opponent, a larger beetle.
It affected the rest of is life. Returning to “civilization,” he spent the rest of his life in a downward spiral accomplishing nothing. Joseph had the companionship of an equally uninspired wife who accomplished nothing more than preceding Joseph in death. He found himself back on the beach and pier of his childhood where he did not die. He morphed into starlings, not one starling but an entire flock. As a flock of starlings, he returned to exact small measures of revenge on those groups which had offended him in the past.
But this morphed form was not immortal. Read the story to see if you can appreciate the justice or logic of the unbelievable death of Joseph Goldberg.
The Chair When the woman summoned Gerald to meditation he knew he was in for a night of chanting and meditation to prepare for the next day’s painting. He would chant all night and wait for the attendants to take him to breakfast the next morning. Then there were pills. Finally, he was left alone near a bridge. He would paint trees and nature while staring at an empty bench until she appeared. Never in solid form, usually translucent, Gerald was at peace as he painted.
But the form was not a ghost, was instead a female military officer research scientist many thousand miles away researching a way to remotely control human behavior from great distances. She did this with the intent of helping people like Gerald, patients in mental health care facilities.
General McDonnell had a different vision. He wanted to weaponize the technology and he wanted it done now. There would be no further delays. Dr. Lucy O’Connor knew more about the capabilities of the technology than the General did. She knew it was already capable of some of the things the General wanted. She had to stop what she thought of as madness. What could she do and how could she do it? How could she protect Gerald? Read this short story to find out.
The Dark Matter of Dreams The Hero of this story has no name, for convenience, I will refer to him as Hero. He stares around his bedroom as he lies next to his sleeping wife and is sure that there is more to the universe than the reality of his room. He thinks that reality might only manifest itself to those who are unconscious. What follows is a mystical, heroic journey with things to win and lose. He may even live through it. This is a story that mixes Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and a few other heroic myths for good measure. Which world is the reality? Read the story to find out.
Without the Simple Science Land was uninhabitable, the last spaceships had taken off in an escape attempt to other worlds, the only possible hope for survival was to live under the sea. But they had taken a vow, no use of any scientific devices as thousands gathered for a final picnic by seacoasts all over the world. With no communication among mankind, how could they coordinate any survival program?
Read the story.
Short stories are always fun because … they are short. Readers don’t have time to get bored as authors fast-track their tales to get us the maximum information in the minimum number of pages. This was a fun read to which I assigned four Amazon stars and I will look for more by this author.