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Four Unfinished Short Stories (2013)

Four Unfinished Short Stories (2013)

Here are four uncompleted works of short fiction. I like each in some way or another, and so decided to publish them here.






Them (1988)

©1988, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1988). Them. Unfinished short story.

 As with much of my fiction, this story keys to some extent to my experiences in life. I wrote the male character as quite vain and insensitive. That’s not what I’m like, or at least it’s not what I think I was ever like.



By Dallas Denny


They stared at each other across the table, she ignoring her food, he eating his mechanically, not tasting it, cutting his chopped steak into small square pieces without taking his eyes from hers.

“So it’s time for a decision,” he said, “Time to resolve, the crisis. Time to break a couple of hearts.”

“That’s right,” she said. Her face was hardly composed.

“I’m not happy.,” he rationalized, “You’re not happy. We’renot happy.”

“That’s right,” she said again.

“Things can’t go on like they have been.”

“That’s right.”

“I need to straighten up.”

“Yes, you do. ”

He changed the direction of the conversation. “I don’t think you’re being rational about this at all.”

She refused to be maneuvered. “That’s right. It’s all my fault. It’s always my fault.”

“That’s right.” He sighed. “Jesus, what am I supposed to say? You don’t do this right at all. I’m supposed to say I’m right, and you’re supposed to say you’re right, and we go on from there. Got it?”

She just looked at him, tears welling in the corners of her eyes. He was good at bringing forth those tears. It seemed to him as if they lurked inside her tear ducts, ready to spring forth at the sight of him. He often thought such things at times of stress.

The waitress, having picked up on their mood, warily approached. “Is everything all right?” He hesitated until the woman sitting across from him nodded, then nodded also. He had once made the mistake of answering for her when her hamburger wasn’t cooked to her liking and was ever careful not to make the same mistake again. She liked her meat well done, which for some reason hid its animal origins from her, enabling her to eat it. He, hardly sensitive to a little blood, liked his medium rare.

He had a theory about how people liked their meat cooked. He had thought it up while was a short order cook in Nashville. He had explained it to her hardly a month earlier, in the same restaurant where they were now eating.

“It’s like this. People who like their meat well done are conservative, unyielding, unwilling or unable to accept new things. Practical, no nonsense, salt-of-the-earth people. People who like their meat rare are exhibitionistic—they show off. They like to shock, to surprise. They’re poseurs. The medium-well person is willing to try new things. The medium person is half-and-half, a compromiser. The medium rare person—h, the medium rare person—the medium rare person is true to his own tastes, eating the meat the way it’s best rather than allowing himself to be swayed by the expectations of society or a desire to appear a certain way to others.” He had a high opinion of himself, and many things about him showed it.

Both of them thought of his theory as the waitress grabbed his glass and left to refill it with Coke. She picked up the conversation from where he had left it. “I know I bore you. I’m unexciting. Ho-hum. I’m much too middle-class for you, and you grow tired of me.”

“And any time now I’ll cast you aside like a dog casts aside a bone?” he asked.

She nodded.

“And you really believe that, don’t you?”

She nodded again.

“I’ll just fly back to Nashville and leave you, thinking not at all of you?”

“That’s right.”

He looked at her. Her large dark eyes were framed by thick dark hair with streaks of gray which she refused to dye away. Yet she wouldn’t appear in public or even let him see her without her makeup, He was unsure whether she was vain. Some things about her seemed to suggest that characteristic, others flew in the face of it. Many things about her puzzled him. Like, for instance, how someone who had been born and lived all their lives in a small, rural East Tennessee town and who had never been out of the South until he had wheedled, coaxed, and shamed her into letting him drag her all over Europe, could be so damned urbane, so sophisticated. Her looks, her poise, her manner, her accent, all suggested an urban background. Yet her morals were securely bound in Puritanism and the work ethic, the sanctity of wedlock and the family, the opinion of neighbors and her innumerable relatives. And yet still, at some level she hated and strove against the hypocrisy of middle-class small-town life, and she had felt all her life that she was misunderstood, was unappreciated, was a black sheep in a clan still mired in the wife-beating-don’t-take-kindly-to-outsiders way of life of white trash in the South.

And he. He fancied himself an elitist— intelligent, creative, knowing himself and secure in that knowledge, the ultimate questioner, the last cynic. Although he generally lived his life in an orderly fashion, having completed college and graduate school with good grades, usually paying his bills on time, not smoking and rarely drinking, was hardly ever late for work and did a good job while there, he thought himself somewhere to the left of Bohemianism. And yet he always ran out of money a week or more before payday, had never bought clothes for himself except when down to the last shirt on his back, or furniture, or sheets for the bed. He concen­trated instead on records, books, and stereo equipment. And he had used almost any drug he could get his hands on at least once, and some many times, and would go to great lengths to get drugs not commonly found in East Tennessee (he liked psychedelics, in particular). And he was bothered by hardly anything— not violence, not sexuality in any form, not corruption, not human suffering, having tuned sensitivity to some of those things out during his idealistic youth and decided he was not bothered by the things others did, so long as it didn’t hurt him. He practiced monogamy, but not because he believed in it in particular. He was abstinent, but only because he cared little for the effects of liquor; indeed, he often thought he should drink more. He had made it with men, had made it with women; if he had been excited by men he wouldn’t have hesitated to declare himself gay. He had made a point of making it with men in order to test himself, because he felt equally comfortable in the dress and mannerisms of either sex, and had lived and worked and formed friendships both as a man and as a woman— but usually as a man, since the patterns of his life, his past, his family, his oldest friends, his educational background inexorably pulled him in the direction of his manhood. He didn’t mind. He wasn’t unhappy with being a man, merely equally happy with being a woman. He hadn’t crossdressed in public since his beard had come in, except for once to show her how it looked; he had felt it was important to explain it to her as their relationship deepened. She had appeared neither pleased or displeased to any great extent, or even shocked, but what powers of concealment she had! He wasn’t at all sure she wasn’t completely eaten up and riddled with worry or disgust about the cross-dressing or some other aspects of his life.

Only Outlaws Will (1985)

©1985, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1985). Only outlaws will. Unfinished short story.

Here I indulge my imagination, envisioning a future in which contemporary musical items are worth a fortune. You’ll notice the characters have misspelled names of country music singers.


Only Outlaws Will

By Dallas Denny


“See! It’s in perfect shape.” Larry Gatlon turned the twelve-inch vinyl disc over to allow the other man to see there were no scratches. Then, holding the record by its edges, he put it back in its liner, and then back into the jacket. The collage of people on the jacket didn’t appear to notice.

There were seventeen records in all. Gatlon exhibited each in turn to the stern-faced buyer in the business suit. At last he fell silent.

Peter Waggoner didn’t let his excitement show on his face. In nearly twenty years as a record buyer, a collector of sounds from long dead or sometimes merely aging artists, he had seen but one Beatles album, and it bore the scars of a century of wear. Yet this bumpkin not only had the legendary Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band LP— it appeared to be in perfect shape. It was priceless— like a Remington bronze or an Escher lithograph. And the page of cutout figures which was included in the jacket, he was sure, hadn’t been mentioned in any of the articles he had read in Recordings of the Twentieth Century or in any of various journals. Chances were he could publish at least one article, and possibly…

Waggoner pulled a note pad from his pocket and penciled a figure on it. He slid the pad across the desk he was sitting at, towards Gatlon. As Gatlon glanced at the figure, his eyes widened like ripples in a pond. He hadn’t been expecting nearly that much. “That’s what I’m willing to pay,” Waggoner said, “for the lot. The first album you showed me accounts for the bulk of the offer.”

Gatlon shrugged. It was nothing to him. “I’ll sell them for that price, partner. But I’ve brought something else.” He set the cardboard box he had carried into Waggoner’s office (Waggoner had been wondering what was in it) and pulled out a number of cassette tapes.

“Tapes?” Waggoner smiled. “They’re hardly likely to be good, you know, after so long a time. The plastic material becomes brittle—”

“No, not tapes. Something—well, see for yourself.” Gatlon removed a burnished aluminum and wood-grain machine from the box and set it on the desk. The imitation wood was in bad shape, apparently from age, but the apparatus appeared to be in good shape otherwise. Waggoner realized that he was looking at a very old cassette tape player. The presence of the legendary Dolby Laboratories trademark dated it from the 1970s.

Gatlon looked for a wall socket. Finding one, he plugged the player in and pushed the power button. The needles on the VU meters jumped and the dials lit up.

Wait a minute! VU meters? Waggoner was astonished. That meant he was looking at a recorder— not a player. Which meant he was looking not at a cute toy from ages past but at a highly illegal piece of contraband, since Gatlon didn’t appear to be someone who would legitimately own a recording machine.

While Waggoner was busy being surprised, Gatlon nonchalantly inserted a tape and pressed the button marked PLAY. Then, pulling a pair of stereo headphones from the box, he plugged them in and motioned for Waggoner to put them on. Waggoner did, and heard:

It was twenty years ago today

Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play

They’ve been going in and out of style

But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile…

Waggoner yanked the headphones off. “You mean to say this—” he gestured at the machine— “works?” Gatlon nodded.

“You’d better turn that machine over to the FCC,” Waggoner said, as he regained his composure.

Gatlon shook his head. “Got no intention of doing that. How much is that tape worth? Bootleg.”

Waggoner thought for a moment. “I don’t know. I’d say thirty, forty thousand dollars.”

“Yeah, that’s what I guessed. About a fourth as much as the record. How many you figure I can make before the machine breaks or the record wears out? A hundred? A thousand?” He leaned across the desk. “Ten thousand? I think I’ll keep the records— and the machine.”

Waggoner said, “I’ll have to report this to the authorities.”

“You do that. I’m not foolish enough to have given you my real name.” Gatlon repacked his machine, saluted, and strode smartly from the room. Waggoner made no attempt to follow. Instead, after a few moments, he buzzed his secretary. “Miss Pardin, please ring up FCC Regional Headquarters and put the call through to my office.”

Moments later he was speaking to Inspector Snow of the Federal Communications Commission. “This sort of thing happens upon occasion,” commented the Inspector. “Fortunately, most machines that old don’t work, or are turned in even if they do. But every once in a while somebody takes a notion to bootleg tapes. It works for a while, and then, usually, the machine breaks and stops them before they do too much damage.”

“Then you’re not going after him?”

“No, not unless he seems to be moving into volume production. Buying additional recorders on the black market, or that sort of thing. He’ll not last more than a month with a (manuscript ends)

At Home (1982)

©1982, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1982). At home. Unfinished short story.

This unfinished story is pretty much what it was like to visit my parents.


At Home

By Dallas Denny


Outside, the wind shook the last few leaves from the oak trees in the yard, but inside there was only the periodic whisper of the central air conditioning unit and the glow of incandescent lamps. The house wasn’t lit as brightly as he would have liked. He would have preferred one-hundred-watt bulbs, but his parents burned sixty-watt bulbs. The hallway outside his room was feebly lit by a forty-watt fixture. He compensated for the gloom by burning as many lights as he could. His mother was always following him around (it seemed), flipping switches off. She complained of the cost of electricity at supper that night. “Do you know what the light bill was this month?”

Resisting the impulse to reply, he spooned more macaroni and cheese onto his plate. The golden cheese was burned black on the right side of the bowl, and he dug the last resisting bit of macaroni from the left side. The spoon clanked as he sat the bowl back on the table too hard.

“Eighty-seven dollars,” she said. “The light bill was eighty-seven dollars.”

His father took a piece of corn bread from the plate, and began to break it up in chunks, letting the crumbs fall into his buttermilk. His dentures didn’t fit right and he couldn’t eat the bread easily unless it was in milk.

The six o-clock news droned on, occasionally catching their attention. Two teen-aged boys were being tried for taking pot-shots at a picnicking family. They had killed three members of the family, The boys’ lawyer was asking for an insanity ruling because the boys had admitted to taking drugs before shooting the family.

“I think jail is too good for people like that,” asserted his-mother. “They shouldn’t get off because they took drugs. If I had anything to say about it, they would be executed.” He didn’t reply, although he could identify with the anomie the boys must have felt. He could imagine sitting on the banks of the Duck River, his back against a boulder, high on Quaaludes and PCP, a can of beer in his hand, watching the family across the river remove fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, and other aluminum-covered containers from a picnic basket. He could imagine how strange that would have seemed, how tenuous the connection between raising the rifle and firing and with the actuality of murdering real flesh-and-blood would seem. He could identify with the anomie of the two youth who were being led, handcuffed, from the Maury County courthouse.

Or maybe there was a grudge and the boys laid in wait and ambushed the family. Sighing, he poured another glass of milk.

His father was saying something. “If the parents nowadays would take proper care of their children, dad-blamed things like that wouldn’t happen.” He gesticulated with a fork covered with molasses. On his plate sorghum and butter had been stirred into a varicolored puddle in which pieces of milk-soaked corn bread lay.

His mother was making her fifth trip back from the stove. “I don’t think the corn is warm yet.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “There’s plenty of other things to eat.”

“That’s right,” added his father. To his wife, he said, “You sit down and eat.”

“You do the dishes tonight,” his mother said to him.

“OK”, he said.

Arcturans (Working Title) (1966)

©1966, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (1966). Arcturans. Unfinished short story.

This story fragment was inspired by a dream. It’s one of my earliest works of fiction.



By Dallas Denny


Tad Monnick took his eyes from the binocular eyepiece of the electron microscope and hastily scribbled a few notes on the pad by his left hand. He flipped the notebook closed with a sigh and rose, stretching. The long and grueling process of cataloging and preserving the first batch of flora and fauna of the alien planet was at an end, except for more delicate work to be done back on Earth.

Tad walked over to a bank of instruments set in the bulkhead and flipped on the video. The scene which formed on the screen looked remarkably like an Earthscape. A ring of humans, almost the entire complement of the Earth ship, sat on the grass-like covering on the ground. They were sheltered from the blazing Arcturan sun by a cluster of pseudotrees. Bright red flying lizard-like creatures streaked back and forth, tirelessly, feeding upon insectiform flying creatures.

Major Powell, the ship’s captain, was in the process of handing a written manuscript to a naked Arcturan, who resembled nothing so much as a mandrill baboon with a broken nose. Tad switched on the audio and heard the colonel say, “… to the dominant species of this beautiful planet, we, the entire ship’s company, present you with this certificate bestowing the sincere wishes of all Earthmen to your glorious race.”

The Arcturan made a sound which was the equivalent of a human clearing his throat. It spoke in impeccable English, which it had learned in such an incredibly short time that the alien psychologists were stunned. They had mutually decided the Arcturans had perfect photographic memories. The Earth ship had landed only eight days before, and now the Arcturan was saying, with a hint of an Oxford accent, “And we, in turn, take pride in presenting you space travelers with our national beverage, munchant. Our biologists have tested it on many of the experimental animals you gave us, and it had no adverse effects on them.”

Tad stood transfixed as the Arcturans handed out the beverage in Earth-made paper cups. The one hundred and fifty or so Earthmen accepted the drink and downed it. It evidently tasted quite good, for many of the men and women asked for seconds, and got them. Tad seethed. There could be a poisonous compound in the drink, and the entire crew could die. The captain hadn’t even had him run preliminary tests on it! He sighed, and walked into the next compartment, where Anne Hawkins, the ship’s geologist, bent over her desk with her blonde hair falling over her forehead, examining a sedimentary rock which looked much like Terran limestone. Tat sat down beside the geologist and examined a specimen of coal. “Are the rocks and minerals as similar to those of Earth as the biological specimens?”

Anne started. “Why, hello, Tad. I was just looking to see whether I could tell this sample from a similar Earth type. I couldn’t.” Anne grinned at Tad. “Finished, Bug-man?”

“Sure am, Granite-Face. I’m going to catch up on a little sleep. First thing in the morning, I’m leaving the ship. Field trip. I’ll collect a few specimens and waste a few hours.”

“That sounds lovely. May I come too?”

“If you bring your own lunch. You can carry the chloroform.”

“And you can carry my rock hammer.”

“That’s a deal. See you after breakfast tomorrow, then, Anne.”

“Sure thing.”

Tad caressed Anne’s shoulder and walked down the passageway to his room. He pulled his bed from the wall and flopped down, not even bothering to take off his uniform.

Tad was dead tired. He had been working all of the days and most of the nights since the ship had landed on Arcturus IV, studying biological specimens. He was botanist and zoologist, taxonomist and anatomist for the Earth survey ship. When the Earth craft landed on a planet, most of the crew’s jobs were finished. The pilots, the astrogators, the astronomers, and the torchmen had virtually nothing to do while the ship was grounded. But for the ship’s biologist, its geologist, and the organic chemist, the week after landing was a grueling ordeal of preserving as many specimens as possible for study in space. After getting less than three hours of sleep a night, Tad was exhausted. He slept for seventeen hours.

Tad awoke, much refreshed, at ten o’clock the next morning. He showered, shaved, and put on a fresh uniform. He then stormed the galley, where he wheedled the cook into giving him breakfast after hours.

A half-hour later, Tad, his hunger appeased, strode down the corridor, headed toward Anne’s cabin. She lived on E deck, three decks below her office. Tad stopped by his office and filled a knapsack with collecting jars and a jug of formalin. From underneath his shirt, Tad took a half-loaf of bread and a tube of salami, which he had snatched from under the cook’s nose. Tad threw the bread and salami in the pack next to the specimen jars.

The pack flung over his shoulder, Tad walked over to the lift. The lift was two holes in the floor, one with a shaft moving upwards, the other with a shaft moving downwards. Metal footholds dotted the surface of the shafts. Tad chose the one moving down.

Anne was in her room, reading. “Why hello, Mr. Bug Man.”

“Hello yourself, Miss Iron Jaw. Ready?”

“Almost. Here, catch!” Anne swung a pack at tad, who grabbed at it. “Oof!” he grunted. “What do you have in here—rocks?”

“That’s right, darling.”

Tad emptied the contents of Anne’s pack into his own. She had a geologist’s hammer, two cold chisels, and an assortment of collapsible cardboard boxes to store mineral specimens. As he watched, she buckled a canteen full of water to her side and slid a plastic-covered hunk of chocolate cake into a vacant spot in Tad’s pack.

“Mmmm!” exclaimed Tad. “I love chocolate cake nearly as much as I love you!”

Anne flushed. “Thanks for the compliment. Let’s go before I forget myself and kiss you.”

Tad puckered up. “For that, I deserve a kiss.”

The air outside was fresh and sweet, heavy with the odor of flowers. Animals scurried into the bushes as Tad and Anne, arm-in-arm, walked down a path towards a squat, ugly building about a quarter of a mile away. The building was the only Arcturan construction within sight of the Earth ship. The structure itself was two stories high, made of gray stone, with the bottom floor open, with no walls, and the second floor completely enclosed, without any windows. The second floor sat atop thick, irregularly spaced columns of stone. A flight of steps, not spaced for human feet, led to the second floor. Tad and Anne ascended the stairs and peered into a large room. The room, which covered the entire second floor, was lit by a diffuse light given off by sunlight streaming through holes in the ceiling. It was quite bare. Tad and Anne soon went back downstairs.

As they were leaving the building, Tad noticed a curious structure mounted on the front of the column nearest the spacecraft. It resembled nothing so much as an eye, complete with iris and pupil. It was connected with wires to the ground. The wires were evidently electrical wires, metal, and insulated. “Evidently the Arcturans aren’t as primitive as the alienologists thought,” declared Anne. “What could it be?”

“We’d better tell Professor Planck,” mused Tad.

“The Professor can cool it until we get back, Tad. I need some samples. Here’s a good place to start.”

When Tad and Anne returned to the ship, several hours and many specimens later, they found a curious unrest among their fellow shipmates. It took a while to pinpoint what was the matter, for nobody would tell them anything. They went to see the alienologist and told him of their find.

Planck harrumphed. “I know about the ‘eye’. It glows fiery red and every once in a while announces a crew member’s name. The person it calls forgets all else and walks toward that damned building. He won’t listen to reason and there’s no stopping him. The people around here are acting like zombies!”

Anne gasped, ashen-faced. “How horrible! What’s happening to them?”

“Evidently the eye has some sort of power over us. If it calls a person’s name, he must go to it. I’m going to that building to see what they’re doing.”

“Wait for me,” said Tad.

“Me, too,” added Anne.

“You’d better stay, girl,” said Planck.

“No— I— I’ll keep out of trouble.”

“Well, all right. But stay out of the way.”

As the trio left the ship, a voice boomed from the direction of the building. “Francine Miller.” Francine, the ship’s nurse, jerked, rose, and began to walk unsteadily in the direction of the building.

“Francie!” yelled Anne. She ran over to Francine and grabbed her arm,. “Francie, sit down! You don’t want to go there. Stop. Stop!” Francine shook her off and kept walking.

All the way to the building, Tad, Anne, and Professor Planck took turns trying to dissuade Francine from her goal, whatever it was. She paid absolutely no attention to them. She tottered into the lower, open floor, and headed for the flight of stairs. As she started up the stairs, Tad and Professor Planck grabbed her to keep her from going up. She fought like a demoness, and sent Tad flying into Anne. Professor Planck stumbled against a column arid fell flat.

Tad disengaged himself from Anne and scrambled up the stairs. Francine was already in the room. Tad stumbled, regained his balance. He cleared the top of the stairs and leapt into the room, with Anne and Professor Planck on his heels.

A blinding sun shone in Tad’s eyes. There was an unmistakable smell of a great animal, and of blood. A lion and two lionesses stood over the dead body of a girl, gorging themselves. Blood stained the veldt around the body of Francine.

Tad fumbled in his belt and yanked out his needle gun. He set the ray at its thinnest, and burned the lions where they stood. He ran towards Francine’s body. Tad was almost at the body when he stumbled over one of the lions.

The sun was in Tad’s eyes again. He jerked his hand to his holster, but his pistol wasn’t here. Tad opened his eyes and sat up quickly. “The lions—”

“Yes,” soothed Anne. “We saw them too.”

Tad scrambled to his feet and saw he had been carried back upstairs. The room was a room again. The African veldt was gone. Francine’s body was gone. But three very dead Arcturans lay on the floor. They had been burned with a needle gun.

Tad went back downstairs. Anne and Professor Planck were waiting at the foot of the stairs. “Arcturans— not lions. I could have sworn they were Terran lions.”

“We saw them. They were lions,” said Professor Planck. “The Arcturans must be causing all this—the other people coming here— our hallucinations about the lions. The Arcturans are carnivores.”

The three ran back to the shop. Tad found Captain Jones. “Captain, I must speak with you.”

Captain Jones gazed up from where he lay. “What do you want, son?”

“Sir, the people who go to that building are being eaten by the Arcturans. Three of us saw it. I think you should have everybody locked on board, and if they try to escape, jail them.”

“Why should I pen them up, son?”

“To keep them from going to that building?”

“Why should I want to keep them from going to the building?”

“Why— to keep them from being eaten.”

“What’s the matter with being eaten?”

“Excuse me, sir,” said Tad, and turned away. He went quickly back to Anne and the professor and reported his failure to make the Captain realize the danger to his ship and crew. “He’s obviously under their control, too,” said the professor. “The only thing to do is to find everybody who still has free will.”

Five minutes later, the three were in the main control room of the ship. Tad turned on the P.A. system, and his voice boomed both inside and outside the ship: “Attention. Attention, please. Anyone who realizes the grave danger to our ship, please report to the control room. Our crew members are being eaten by Arcturans. Any persons concerned about this report to the control room immediately.”

Within fifteen minutes, three people had shown up. These were George Roberts, the organic chemist; Dr. Matthews, ship’s surgeon; and Becky Carter, a hydroponics gardener. These people were clearly disturbed about what was happening to the others. When Anne and Tad told them what had happened. They were horrified.

Tad told them to stay inside the ship whenever possible. “There must be some reason why we aren’t affected. Everyone else must have done something we didn’t do. I’ve talked to an Arcturan, so that’s not it. We eat what the others eat and— I’ve got it! The drink the others had— the one given to them by the Arcturan. Who drank any of it?” Nobody said a word. “That must be it!” continued Tad. “Don’t drink any of that brew. Stick to water. I’m going outside and try to talk some sense into our people.”

Tad spoke to people singly, in pairs, and in groups, but it did no good. Every twenty or so minutes, the voice would call one or more names, and the chosen people would go to meet their fate. Tad walked to the building again. He went into the room and retrieved his needle gun from where he had left it. The bodies of the three Arcturans were gone.

Tad sat against a column to take a rest. It was then that the eye spoke his name. “Thaddius Monnick.” He jumped, but in surprise, not transfixed. The eye had called him!