Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guest Writer: Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge


Daniel’s pockets were bulging. It was not simple to walk all easy breezy with his pockets full of stones, but Daniel believed he was gliding. Not that anyone noticed that was not the case, not really. Who had time to watch people, even less their pockets these days.
The stones in Daniel’s pockets were far from ordinary, but Margaret kept on referring to them simply as ‘stones’, in spite of their respectable age and origin. Those ‘stones’ were about 4.5 billion years old, as old as the solar system, and they came from above. They were chondrites, stone meteorites.
Although his step seemed light, Daniel was very worried. Doomsday was approaching, and people were not taking it seriously. No one was doing anything about it. Nothing serious, anyway. A lot of lunatics on TV and YouTube and silly articles in newspapers now and then have just diminished the significance of the fact that the world was coming to an end, and humans could not prevent it. Not if they did not start thinking and doing something now. Like – give up on silly wars and cheap entertainment and start solving the real problem. Daniel was talking out loud about his worries for years, but no one would listen. Two years ago he went silent and took action.
Margaret kept on telling Daniel that there was no real evidence to support the doomsday myths about the Mayan calendar that ends on December 21, 2012. She suggested that Mayans were simply wiped out before they could make another calendar. Daniel thought that Margaret herself believed in what she was saying, but that was nevertheless just silly. Anyway, the only subject she really knew a lot about was – shoes.
Margaret owned 84 pairs of shoes and whenever they argued about it, she would say that Imelda Marcos had 2700 pairs of shoes at one point of her life. Daniel did not understand how that mattered, but somehow – it did. Also, Margaret expected him to be happy that her collection count was nowhere close to 2700. Only not yet, he thought, not being happy. No, he was not happy at all.
But, he had his chondrites, and so they lived together, in a 25sqm apartment, with 84 pairs of Margaret’s shoes, a pile of stones under the bed and a few other things as well.
Every day, during lunch hour, Daniel would drop the content of his pockets on people’s heads. He would go to the top of the buildings into which he managed to enter, and drop small meteorites, one by one, on passers-by. The stones were small, but they would hurt upon impact; he saw that most people stopped and felt their heads. Some would even look up, but he was always fast to hide.
Daniel has been meteor-showering people, as he called it, for some time now and he thought that he was quite good at picking his spots and victims. The weapon remained the same, and Daniel would always collect the stones scattered on the pavement after his shower action, trying to stay unnoticed. Daniel had lost a lot of meteorites over the course of time, since he could never find all of them, so he used to purchase new ones monthly, over the Internet.
But, today, Daniel did not have time to do the lunch meteor shower. Margaret called him while he was looking for a suitable building. She wanted them to have a lunch together; she would bring Chinese takeout and meet him in Eastside Park. Daniel was not happy; his lunch breaks were very important to him.
Daniel walked to the central part of the park, and there she was, sitting on a bench. Pretty as a picture, Margaret was framed with an elegant fountain in the background, two takeout boxes in the lap and a plastic bag lying on the bench beside her. Shoes. A new pair of shoes! No… Two pairs of shoes! What was she thinking, were the shoes to be put in the bathtub? Or was he supposed to sleep there, so that she could have all of her beloved shoes in the bed, next to her? There was no free space left in their apartment, no free space at all! Daniel felt that his temperature was rising and his head was about to explode. He saw Margaret moving her lips, but no sound came out.
That was it. He had it. His head exploded and thousands of dark spots spread over his field of vision. For a moment, Daniel thought that those were the pieces of his head, but then he realized that he could not be headless and think at the same time. No, the dark spots came from elsewhere. The sky opened and black rain started pouring on them. His head hurt, and the pressure was coming from the outside this time. He ran and hugged Margaret, protecting her with his body from the small stones falling from above. They ran towards a big tree that could give them shelter. Daniel felt something hit his head. The pain came instantly, just before everything went dark and silent.

They were sitting under the tree, Margaret sobbing, Daniel resting in her arms. Daniel opened his eyes and touched his head. It still seemed to be in one piece, painful and swollen here and there, but nothing serious. Around them people were lying, crawling, walking over the piles of stones; some were crying. Scratches, a bit of blood and ripped clothes, but no bigger damage was to be seen.
Daniel was something of an expert on meteorites, after all his time of studying and using them. Not so many people had his kind of experience with meteorites; first-hand experience, so to say. He looked around, his eyes trying to absorb as much of the view as possible, his brain trying to understand what did not feel right in this meteorite-painted picture.
No, he was not surprised that the sky had opened and the meteorites came down; of all people, he was the one who knew this would happen one day; he had tried to raise the awareness; he knew this was just a beginning and that doomsday had been knocking on Earth’s door for some time now.
But, something felt wrong. Was it the shape; was it the texture; was it the grouping of the stones? Was it the whole setup? What in the picture before his eyes was not quite right? His head hurt. He did not know if the pain was caused by the stone shower or by the tension from trying to understand what felt wrong.
And then millions of small stones opened as upon command. Miniature insect-like creatures started pouring out of them, from their small meteorite-shaped space ships; the first ones to come and put their little insect feet on our Earth. Daniel closed his eyes. This was the most amazing lunch hour ever.

© Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge 2010

Jelena lives in Sweden, with her husband and their cats. She is perceived by some as a programmer, engineer and mathematician. In fact, she is an alien. In her spare time she writes and paints.
Jelena's fiction has appeared in Pulp Metal Magazine, disenthralled, Negative Suck, Boston Literary Magazine, Blink|Ink, At The Bijou and 6S. Some of it you can read here.


  1. yikes!- appears Daniel has some competition- be careful of what you wish for- nice read Jelena

  2. What a great story, Jelena! New and different, and I think I just got hit in the head by something...wait...there's something crawling out of a rock! AAAAAGGGHHHHH! We're all gonna die!!! You moved me...

  3. I like scifi, especially stories that have an original twist on a known storyline. These mini aliens and end-of-world pod shower are just great.

  4. I pictured Daniel as being very young, certainly no more than 16. Then I read that he worked at a job and slept with a woman. Despite that, I still pictured him as young. Strange how the mind does that. Your story comes at a perfect time because the summer meteorite showers are just starting and will continue through August. Thank you.

  5. YES! This is how I always pictured the end of the world. I'm going outside to wait...

  6. This reads to me like a comparison of individual obsessions - shoes versus meteorites - and, not being that well-versed in sci-fi, I wondered if it wasn't that Danny had a brain seizure of some sort ... but that's just my take on this intriguing tale.

  7. Good job, Jelena. Nice twist. I liked Margaret;now she can wear out her shoes stepping on the insect aliens. Not too crazy bout Danial, a practical joking, weird, doomsayer that drops meteor pellets on innocent passers-by.
    Looking forward to the sequel: If the shoe fits, wear it.


  8. This is a very puzzling and curious tale..disturbing! Well told and paced, I was justifiably creeped out.

  9. Great sci-fi piece. Loved it.
    Adam B

  10. Thank you for your kind comments! I had a lot of fun writing this piece. Any similarity to real persons is more than mere coincidence.

    Kawfeee: Daniel is not a prankster, he is a man with a mission. And a plan. ;)

    Sandra: Seizure is an option. Perception is reality.

    Thank you again! I am glad if you enjoyed it.

  11. I like your writing and the picture was perfect for the story. Daniel is a great character.

  12. "Stick 'n stones may break my bones..." Love the distinct characterizations, the mystery of reality, hallucination or mental 'break,' and don't think this will make the "Top 100 Bedtime Stories for Grandparent Reads toGrandkids" cuz I'm hopin' this doesn't invade MY dreams! Excellent development and execution.

  13. I find myself going back to read this, and wonder what it is that attracts me. It's a simple enough tale, smartly crafted. I think perhaps it's on the edge of being surreal. Although I was a bit taken back when Daniel meteor-showered people, I soon realized that was part of what gave the story its irreality. I'll be reading this again, and more than once. How can I resist?


MDJB at GoodReads

Michael D. Brown's books on Goodreads Bastille Day reviews: 2 ratings: 3 (avg rating 5.00...