Tuesday, November 29, 2016

games, part 22

by harold p sternhagen writing as "ralph desmond"

being a sequel to fun

illustrated by konrad kraus

originally appeared in the july through october 1952 issues of walloping midnight stories magazine

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

jenny opened the cellar door.

she listened for a few seconds, but she could not hear rosie and her friend - what was her name? sally? - talking.

maybe they were asleep. not that it mattered now,

jenny pulled the cord on the overhead bulb and started down the stairs.

the friend was asleep, curled up on a rug.

rosie was awake, leaning against the wall beside the furnace. she looked up when jenny approached her.

“what’s up?” rosie asked. she seemed kind of subdued, which was good.

“brenda knows you are down here. i didn't tell her, she must have heard you.”

“oh.” rosie just shrugged. “well, kid, you tried, and i appreciate it. “

“but you can stay - for the night anyway, or maybe until the storm is over.”

“oh? that’s nice.” rosie stretched and yawned,

“brenda says you can come upstairs, she says you can make yourselves useful - whatever that means.”

rosie laughed. “what does it mean?”

“i don’t know, but you should at least get a slice of pie out of it.”

“that sounds good.” rosie got to her feet. “and maybe a smoke? i could really use a smoke.”

“you’ll have to ask brenda,” jenny told her.

rosie looked down at the sleeping sal. “i’d leave her down here but we would probably forget all about her.” she gave her a kick.

“come on, sleeping beauty. we have to earn our keep. for once in your life.”


hal sat in the darkened parlor, listening to the wind and feeling bad about how unfair life was, and how he could never catch a break.

he had turned the radio off, because he could not really hear it over the roar of the wind and rain.

he decided to smoke one more cigarette and then find his room and turn in.

as he was lighting up, he heard someone behind him in the kitchen.

the landlady had said she was going to bed. hal got up and looked behind him.

then the light in the kitchen went on, and hal entered it.

brenda was there. she had some blankets and some other stuff in her arms and was putting them - candles, a couple of flashlights - on the kitchen table.

“i thought you were going to bed, ” hal said.

“i was,” said brenda,” but with the way this storm is going i thought i would get some things together, just in case.”

“just in case - just in case what?”

“just in case the lights go out or the windows get blown in. just a precaution.”

“that doesn’t sound very reassuring.”

“just being on the safe side.”

“jeez,” hal whined, “the whole point of stopping here was because we thought we would be safe, now you are telling me we are all going to get blown away anyway?”

“i can’t control the wind. i tell you what, crybaby, if we all get blown away i will give you your money back, how’s that? as we are flying through the air i will throw you your money and you can see if you can catch it,”

hal was trying to think of something smart to say, when the door behind brenda opened and jenny came in, followed by rosie and then by a stumbling sal, rubbing her eyes.

hal looked past jenny and saw rosie.

rosie looked up and saw hal.

“you!” hal exclaimed.

“you!” rosie gasped.

the two of them stared at each other. brenda, jenny, and sal looked at them curiously.

finally rosie spoke. “you got a smoke?” she asked hal.


“who’s that?” julie asked. “were you expecting somebody?”

“no,” edna answered. “it must be some poor traveler, seeking shelter from the storm.”

edna got up and went to the door. she opened it cautiously, and had to hold on tight to keep the wind from knocking it back into her and knocking her down.

a man stood in the doorway. a thin, middle aged man dressed in heavy rain gear, including plastic covering on his fedora.

from under the plastic-covered hat, edna could barely see his face.

working all her years in the bus station, edna had seen her share of mean and nasty faces, but she thought this might be the meanest and nastiest she had ever seen. not the most dangerous looking - not by a long shot - but just the most purely mean and nasty.

“can i help you?” edna asked the man.

“are you the lady that works at the bus station?” he asked.

“i work at the bus station, i am a lady that works at the bus station. and who might you be?”

“my name is garver, george garver. i believe you have my bride here. i’ve come to claim her.”

part 23

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