Tidbits from Gary

Hello and welcome to Stories by Baker!

This just in: you can now find me on facebook under an official fanpage name!! YAY!

Anyways, and as always, enjoy if you will or don't if you won't!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dragon Rider

“Dragon Rider”
a short excerpt
Gary Baker, December 2013
(possibly the prologue to Kingdom's Rise)

Ride high! We've almost got him!”

Vaughn kicked his stallion into gear and charged faster to clear the dust of the prince's gilded mount. The warm saddle shifted as he swung his hunting pike, a long double-hilted shaft of the finest hardened oak that ended in a lightning-like double spike, and pulled closer to his king's heir.

Ahead the drake sped like a hare being chased by a hawk, though with none of the ragged misdirection. It was young, that much was obvious. It's opalescent gray armor shone in the light of high noon, almost reflecting the vast green of the broken plains around them. Vaughn found it inspiring to watch the beast sprint like never before, as it's muscles grew taut as it leapt forward and how they bunched into massive hunks of glistening smoke-gray mounds as the beast landed.

The beast began to veer off to the left, trailing toward a series of jagged cliffs that arose from the grassy hills as though broken by the hammer of god. This was where they would do it, he knew. This was where the beast would die.

Lithomir!” He shouted over the ever-present thunder of the group's stallions pounding the earth beneath their feet. The prince looked over, excitement showing in his deep green eyes, his golden hair held back in a long tail over his chrome-armored back, and grinned. It was his tell-tale sign that he was up to something again. Vaughn, captain of the boy's personal guard, knew this look all too well. The blasted heir knew.

He must have planned this from the start.

Vaughn dug his heels into his mount's hips and pushed closer to the silvery white horse armored with plated gold and steel over intricately woven crimson wool, noting the series of weaponry that the heir seemed so attached to. Though everyone knew he wasn't one, the heir carried them like a Centurion: always ready for anything, prepared to fight until the last breath with whatever he had on him. In Lithomir's case, however, the boy seemed to think this meant he should carry more should he drop anything, instead of the usual mantra that followed along “a man's blade is his life, lose it and death will be there waiting.”

The guard captain looked back over his shoulder to gauge the depth of the playing field as they closed in on a corner in the cliffs. The others had fanned out to give the heir more room, and took unspoken orders from the boy to block off the passage should the beast turn and flee. Their own mount's shuddered with the growing energy: Huira's murky dappled mare cantered as he slowed near the far wall, his pike drawn and ready, Kilnar's jet-black mount pushed ever harder against the reins as he flanked off to the right, crossing with Jilai as they rode onto the rises that overlooked the coming arena. Vaughn had to admit that the arena was well-planned, too. At the far end it rose with a sheer wall of granite over three stories high, and tapered out on either side with not much room to spare other than the not-quite-circular clearing where they were headed. The flooring was well-packed with plenty of grass to soften falls without losing too much traction, and the bottleneck would give the drake just enough of a view into the arena to expect an outcropping where it might leap with it's ungodly strong hind legs and escape.

There wasn't any such ledge, in truth, but the young beast didn't see that until the group was following it into the corner.

Instantly Vaughn spotted the continuing crevice where the two sides had collided into each other, and would have been traversable for a while longer for a man on foot. The drake made for this only to crash against solid stone against either shoulder before it spun to get out and found itself flanked on all sides. Kilnar and Jilai then dropped bolts of weighted arrows here and there to keep the drake in the furthest point in the corner until the prince and heir could become the gatekeeper of the bottleneck and prevent it from escape.

Vaughn and Grishe then slowed to a trot and watched from the opening as the would-be king swung his pike side to side to loosen his arms. “You think he's ready for this?” Grishe grumbled under the ear-piercing cry of the trapped drake, timed so the heir wouldn't hear. His brown stallion heaved it's head side to side as it fought to run again, but stayed put as the rider quickly yanked the reins twice consecutively.

The captain held his breath for a moment and felt his pulse quicken as he watched the arrogant young man move from wall to wall while flashing the blade in an attempt to intimidate the beast that must have been scared half to death by now. “It's possible,” he admitted uneasily, “he is the King's boy, after all.”

Grishe nodded at that, snapping a fist to his heart in salute to the great leader's mention, and turned back to watch the display. There were a couple of wayward attacks from either side as the game moved into showoff mode and the heir grew visibly cocky, throwing obvious swings to merely antagonize the beast into another pointless charge. “I hear he's been training with Master Ghera's centurion's,” he glanced across to Vaughn from under his scarred right eyebrow, his dirtied helmet barely hiding his deep black curls that fell along the sides of his face, “what might yon Captain Vaughn Heirsguard think of that, eh?”

Vaughn pressed his lips tight as he fought to intervene in the boy's display of bravery and show. “The men of the empire will never follow a man who is weaker than they, Grishe, you know that.” He gripped his pike tighter and brought the shaft into his lap atop the saddle, distractedly fingering the dark, carved oak while expecting the beast to land a fatal strike at any moment. It made him twitchy, watching this. Each time the wingless, gecko-shaped dragon launched forward, it's horned spines gnashing the air, Vaughn kept thinking his future king was about to be gored before ever reaching the age of two-hundred and twenty new moons. “The boy has to fight harder than any of us, Grishe, and I'd be hard pressed to say his training hasn't done him some good in the last fifty or so, other than this increased bravado.”

Just then the drake leapt off the ground, using those toad-like hind legs to send it full force into Prince Lithomir's face. They all witnessed as the boy brought up a hand just in time to deviate the beast's maw before the two tumbled in the grass. The heir's stallion then did what all Celestial mounts were trained to do in such a situation and shot quickly out of reach where it could not be harmed in the ensuing fray, taking with it the boy's only means of escape.

Vaughn inhaled suddenly, his lungs becoming solid as his grip tightened on the lower hilt of the pike, as his eyes searched through the cloud of dust to find his charge.

Finally the air cleared just enough that they could see the prince now standing in the corner with the drake between himself and his guards. Vaughn moved to kick his horse into action when the prince held a hand and stopped him mid-way. “Stay!” The boy shouted, “he's mine!”

Jilai barked a laugh that echoed down from the plains above and mocked the horseless heir. “Would you look at that! The wittle bwayby pwince feww off his howse!”

Kilnar joined in, then, with a “you know the rules!”

No remount!” Grishe joined in with a static grin towards his captain.

“Take him on foot!”

“Show him who's the true heir to the empire!”

Fight like a man!”

Vaughn scowled as the scene deepened into greater feats of callous manliness and show. Personally, he felt that a man should prove his strength in battle against his fellow men, not in a self-made arena against a young, just-off-the-teat drake. Yet the odds seemed even more against the young heir now, as the beast was easily as tall in the shoulders while on all fours as the heir was standing as tall as he could.

The problem now was that the drake was in it's natural element whilst the heir was weighed down by several blades, his armor, and the heavy cavalry pike in his hands.

Yet Lithomir grinned at his cliff-top comrades and dropped the majority of the weapons into the soil before he began to spin his pike in circuitous motions until it became but a blur of silver and two gold-framed hilts churning the dust once again. He moved to the side, the beast watching him and doing the same, and lashed out twice before the drake reared back and slapped the pike high into the arena walls. Suddenly the boy was on his own with nothing but an ornate dagger at his hips and a short-sword on his back.

“How could you not block that?!” Kilnar mocked.

“Lithomir!” Vaughn scoffed, “pay attention!”

“Hey, Kingsheir!” Jilai sang. “You dropped your pi-ike!”

Grishe brought himself a few paces closer. “Now what would your father say, if he heard about this, eh?”

Kilnar bellowed with laughter from his perch, “he'd be shamed, he would!”

Vaughn found his eyebrows cinching toward each other, burrowing as he watched the fangs appear and the spines flare out from the beast's body to make itself even more fearsome. “Lithomir do not let this break you!” He pushed his mount as far in as Grishe's and brought the pike back out and to the side, ready to swing should the need arise. “Focus, man!”

It was obvious to the captain as the boy began blindly boasting and laughing off about the drake's inferior speed and mobility, that the heir, too, was scared out of his wits. “Look at him!” The heir shouted, “if he were human he'd be crying!”

“What a bwayby!” Jilai taunted.

Kilnar added in, then “does the wittle thing want his mommy?”

Seeing the heir's lowering sense of bravery and thus his narrowing ability to survive this event, Vaughn, too, played along to keep morale high. “Hell if I was it's mother I'd tell it to lay down and die already! So weak!”

“Well let's just be glad you're not!” Jilai retorted. “This is the most fun I've had in weeks!”

Lithomir lashed out, then, using standard Centurion slash and dodge techniques. He swung the sword low to clang against the solid armor of the drake's outer elbow, and side-stepped the beast's whip-like tail as it spun to slam it into the grass. Vaughn felt the earth shudder as the tail hit home, knowing that had it hit the boy there would have been no going back. Every bone would have been crushed by that blow.

He was lucky this time.

This went on for a handful of further attacks by both the heir and his target when finally the boy made contact with penetrable points in the underside of the drake's shoulder, as well as another gash into it's chin. Neither were of any significance, but the beast had started bleeding and that was the point. Now the grass was becoming redder and redder as the minutes wore on, with the traction loosing quality as blood was churned into the soil to become a brutal, gory mud. Vaughn raised his chin at the sight, seeing all too many memories of battles waged against the various surrounding territories as the centurions had vanquished all opposition in the age of expansion. Nowadays the broken plains that surrounded the empire's capital was as bloody in history as the arena in which the heir was finding his manhood, though the plains had long ago overgrown the thick rivers of gore while this corner was just getting a taste for it.

When the drake had been gashed enough to cause it to lose balance a few times and stumble on it's own feet, it charged full-force, much to the captain's dismay. Unexpectedly, and just like a battle-seasoned centurion, the heir shifted on his feet and grabbed one of the four arm-length head-adornments to swing himself up and over the beasts neck and onto its back. Instantly the boy was riding the wild drake as though he'd gotten atop of a wild stallion, fighting to stay on as it bucked and rolled to get him off.

Haha!” Howled Jilai. “Look at him! Our prince – a bonafide dragon rider!”

Grishe rubbed his chin with his free hand, watching the show with overly excited bouts of laughter and howling. “Why, I'll be that one day they'll call him 'Lithomir, Lord of the Drakes'!”

The captain rolled his eyes angrily. Each second that this went on for was another second in which the beast could impale the boy on a stray horn, or worse: on his own weapons that still lay end-first in the grass at the far end of the arena. “Lithomir, get it over with!” He hollered through cupped hands, “I'm hungry for good meat and you're doing nothing but serving to make it bitter!”

The heir made eye-contact with his guard captain, then, and grinned as wide as Vaughn had ever seen the boy grin. Cockily, he reached down with his dagger as the drake charged toward Grishe and Vaughn to break their lines at last, sending the whole group charging after him, and slid the blade up along the young dragon's throat. It stopped in mid-stride as he did so, seeming to know what was about to happen, and reared back onto it's hind legs one last time. It was an ungodly sight for Vaughn to watch as the heir rode the drake's flaring form even as he brought the blade through the beasts spraying neck and against the armor scales along it's spine. The whole sight then ended with the beast falling, headless, atop the king's heir in a heap of gore just beyond the entrance to the broken cliffs.

Vaughn leapt from his horse just as the mount brought him close and sprinted to the headless dragon's side where he'd last seen the king's son. Neither the head nor the boy were anywhere to be seen for the longest time, until finally the boy stumbled out from behind the mound with a gory dagger in one hand and the drake's head dragging along the ground in the other. He was painted in blood as though he'd just been swimming in wine, though he limped on one side where Vaughn instantly spotted the bone spike jutting from the heir's left side.

No one spoke for the longest time.

Grishe seemed cowed for once, and the two jokers in their gleaming chrome armor stared with slack jaws from atop their horses. The heir looked from one man to the next with his opalescent teeth the only contrast to the steaming gore. Even his now-crimson hair was so drenched that it had fallen from the ties. The heir appeared more like a child soaked in the innards of a sweet cherry pie than he did a man with a drake's horn rammed through his kidney.

At such a sight Vaughn felt a beaming smile of his own creep over his cheeks as he cupped the boy's chin in a dark-gloved hand. “You're an arrogant bastard, you know that?” he guffawed, “just like your father!” Together they all fell into a fit of raucous laughter.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


a working of character
Gary Baker, (date unknown, sometime within the last few years)

Bright light; blinding, searing. An intense ripple of electric pain, so great that it seemed to drive toward insanity, until that blessed moment of sure-to-be emptiness.

Then something changed.

A slim, faded blur of green wisped across and then gone. Curiosity peaked and then came the tantalizing rub and tug of flesh on bone, of liquid within the flesh morphing it's shape just slightly enough to turn the skeletal fragments housed within. Then the glidingly easy, lubricated sensation of that bone turning on cushioned cartilage.

...and the green blur appeared again.

Focusing on the green enabled more, and the painful white existence became numb. The green began to grow, sharpening and gaining contrast with itself, forming new shades and slashes of darker tones interspersed like stones in the sand.

Continuing still, the blur dissapated into shards with shadows generating the darker hues while spots of glimmering light generated brighter tones. As if in response, the green region grew, reaching the sides of the visible white expanse where it then sharpened until it became visibly soft.

At first the green appeared fur-like, but with second thoughts coming from an unseen zone of being, came the notion of grass. The green shards were grass.

But what was this 'grass', really? And how was this known? Surely knowing such would be impossible to something nonexistent, yet sensation overrode doubt and existence, too, was known... though not how.

The thoughts crept out more, touching the place where the bone and flesh sensations had emanated, in that far-off point in space, and found a sturdy, unseen force in the way. The force had a cushioned quality, with the idea of connectivity to something larger, though displaced by invisible fog, and hinted at a more in-depth force of being than was currently known.

In shock and curiosity both, the thoughts felt onward, driven by a greed to have as much of this knowing as possible before it slipped away again. They imagined five-pronged appendages with more of this amazingly addicting bone and flesh feel, though why five was not yet known, where each struck out from two larger lengths and everything within cognition was contained within a slightly oily, slightly dry, not very sticky but not gripless surface. The thoughts imagined eight of these as small projections containing an overwhelmingly greater number of points where they could relish in the sensation of flesh and bone turning and pivoting with the help of oily cartilage. Somehow, from those same thoughts came another realization that these chaotic instruments were known as hands, and that these hands had four fingers each with an opposing thumb off to the side.

The hands returned to the point of origin to find the same feeling as before, only now more intensely felt through comprehendable fingertips and fleshy muscular pressure. The fingers pressed and prodded, all at the thoughts command, creating the image of moving liquid within the fleshy origin, so near to the wonderous lumescent green and yet so very far away.

The thought came to find the end to this new idea, and through unspoke commands the fingers once again slid away, deep into space beyond the origin, finding more bony structures beneath more flesh and padding. An Array of bumps caused by long, horizontal-but-curved bones beneath more flesh, then quickly faded beneath separate mounds of piled flesh ever-so-slightly more padded to the touch than the other fleshy regions thus far explored.

Continuing still, the fingers relayed signals of more beyond as the flesh dropped away in a deeper curve than that which had started these mounds, until once again bony flesh came to pass. A series of ripple-like bones beneath a thinner layer of flesh slid beneath the exploration and ultimately gave way to an unexpected flaw. The fingers paused, hesitating as they found themselves without command whilst the thoughts tried to comprehend why it was the bone had suddenly gone away, replaced by a full region of space where only flesh could be found. Worried, the thoughts sent the fingers out again, frantically seeking a return of these lovely structures of bone.

It was then that the smallest of the fingers, a twin of the smallest on the other hand, dipped into a sudden divot. The thoughts reeled, both ecstatic at such a find and terrified that this was the beginning of the end, that from here on there would be no further space to traverse into. So they made up for it by sending all fingers at once to push and shove their way over and into this tiny point, discovering a short drop ended with more crevaces than there were fingers, all smaller than the thoughts could imagine as being possible, yet there they all were, held together by a tiny mound at the cratorial center.

After much deliberation, the thoughts became coherent enough to send the fingers out further, to seek out more of these elusive nuances. Continuing, the fingers reached an unknown substance further below the lone divot, where tiny spindles of corrosive fibers splayed out with no intended direction, as though this form of chaos was normal.

But why? Why enable chaos on a perfect existence? Curioser still, what would the spindles of fiber be intended for? And by whom?

The thoughts grew ravagingly more greedy to find out the answers, and pushed the fingers further, pressing into what could only be imagined as wiry grass that grew from the flesh beneath, where they finally reached a sharp decline. On the sides of the fiberous expanse the flesh moved onward without delay, yet within the area of the fibers the flesh fell away dramatically. Pressing onward to sate a curiosity of their own, the fingers delved into a point where both the flesh and the innermost fibers felt warm and wonderfully moist. Further on this warm flesh then became folded and rippled, and more moisture seemed to appear the longer the fingers pressed onward.

The thoughts became ecstatic again, decidedly knowing that this point in space was where the flesh originated from. There was no other explanation for it. They revisited the divot above and came to a similar conclusion, though chose instead that this was an older point in existence, one that had been used for it's course and had simply became outdated in time. Further review brought the thoughts back to the mounds, where flesh seemed to be stored, kept within reach until the need for growth became tangible and in one swift move the thoughts declared this space to be known with truth.

There was an unmistakable doubt lingering within the thoughts, like an echo hailed against a cavernous wall, but the more important matter of discovering where it all ended still remained. Returning to the origin point above, the fingers responded to this matter by moving in the opposite direction with renewed vigor.

First came the sharp incline of incredibly bony flesh followed by an ever-so-slight decline with more flesh deposits beyond. Pressing with all ten appendages, the fingers found several openings to more moisture, the largest and closest to the sharp incline resembling a horizontal version of the opening beyond the fibers below. Above this existed two smaller twin openings on another sharp incline, and two more beyond that.

Moving further, the fingers reached over the two latest openings and the thoughts could only watch as the glowingly trance-like grass became obscured by deep shadowy blurs of darkness.

Instinctively the fingers drew away quickly to keep the grass within view, but curiostiy peaked again and the thoughts turned the structure of bone and flesh to move the fingers back into view below the image of the grass. Once again the shadows hovered there, moving when the thoughts commanded the fingers to, and faded into clarity with the prolonged exposure. The light dimmed slightly as the shadowy fingers came into reality, declaratively seen through the oval holes above the point of origin, and the thoughts chose to know that these figures were the very fingers that they controlled. Of this, there was no doubt.

Then came the details, so many wonderful details. The fingers were pale, but not too pale, the thoughts somehow knew, but more pale than they lighter grass tones. Over the places of cartilage, creases were visible in the outermost layerof pale flesh, as if merely there to remind of the magic-like structures within. They all seemed to hint of more and, sure enough, as the fingers flexed toward the ovals that enabled vision, a new texture could be seen hiding on the back of the fingertips, seemingly made of a glossy flesh that drove into the first joint of each appendage.

The grass flickered slightly and the thoughts pulled their new-found gaze toward it once more, to see a tiny figure resting where one had not been previously. The figure wasn't anything like that which the fingers had explored. Instead of a patch of fibers, the new figure was covered completely in white and muddy brown red splotches. The figure stood on all four limbs with it's head tilted to the side, curiously.

What is this? The thoughts wondered, coelescing into one lone voice with all the vigor of much-needed comprehension, while pushing into lower limbs of it's own extending below the fiber-covered opening and swung them aside like larger fingers. Something touched the limbs where the vision could see them end with five more digits per limb and when the voice within tried to understand what it had been, something exploded in the space between the two figures. A painfully loud bellow of a high-pitched yelp seemed to emanate from the four-legged figure in the grass and instantly the hands reached for the sides of the voice's own head, as if this could block out the sound.

Unfortunately, however, upon clapping to the head the hands created loud 'pop' sounds of flesh hitting bony flesh again, followed by a painful ache within the voice's head, swimming around the source of the thoughts with pulsing irritation and a 'ping' that eventually gave way to an endless high-pitched ringing.

As cognition returned, the fingers suddenly became aware of more fibers, less coarse than those down below, but more greater in number and apparent length. Following the ends of these fibers, the fingers reached across and over the ovals of vision once more, pulling the long strands of pale whitened-tan fibers into view. These fibers seemed to draw in the perfection of the existence beyond them to display it all with glittering realism.

Entranced, the fingers reached up and meshed into the sheer immensity of how truly thick these fibers clustered around the origin of thought. Again the fingers brought these forward so it could gaze at what the unheard voice kept hinting at as being hair, and pure joy rushed in, starting within the inner thoughts until it reached out and drew into the flesh of the head. Muscles tugged at the sides of the horizontal opening and ecstatic joy overflowed the thoughts into a twitch that reached through all points, explored and unexplored alike, ending in a sudden exhalation of air through the horizontal opening that sounded like a toned-down version of that which had come from the figure in the grass.

Suddenly the voice declared itself a figure and witnessed in awe as the mind-generated thoughts began to connect pieces together with a knowledge of unknown origin; recalling folds of flesh between it's lower limbs, the mounds of flesh above the divot and the intensely long hair, to bring the notion of womanhood into being. With this in mind, the figure reached out to an intangible sound somehow already known: she.

She reached out again, concentrating on what to call the figure in the grass, coming up with only 'it'. Frustrated, she pushed harder, delving into the expanse of knowledge contained within her thoughts, focusing on the figure to bring clarity. Finally she hit her first clue: she was nearly bare of the fibers known as hair, whereas the other was covered entirely. Somehow this meant the other wasn't a figure at all, but a... thing? Yes. But no, it was something else... a... creature? Yes! That was it.

'She,' she mouthed, 'it.' Her face contorted the muscles to somehow give her more clarity in thought and then brighened suddenly. 'Cre – ture' she mouthed, then pushed harder with an exhalation of breath like something hinted at from the back of her mind, while instictually contourting the muscles within her neck. “Cr – ea – t – sur.” No, that wasn't quite right. “Cr – ea – jur.” Still not right. “Cr – ee – ch – ur.”

Another wave of ecstacy pulsed through her body and she knew she'd gotten it right. “Cr – ee – ch – ur,” she exclaimed, “cree – chur.” With excitement as her fuel, she finally pushed to speak it faster “cree – chur, creechur! Creature!” The low-toned yelping sound came back again with more joy that she couldn't help but release and she began to scream with this sound that her mind told her was known as laughter.

As she let the convulsions of amusement roll through her, her mind began to wander, stuck on the idea of all this knowledge coming so very fast. What was this knowledge? How did it know these things? And why was a four-legged being known as a creature? For now it didn't matter as all existence of her body, the grass and the fluffy creature before her exhaled in an outrageous fit of pure wonder and joyous laughter.

“Creature!” She yelled, “it! She! Grass!”

The fit continued even as she stood from her seated position in the still-white expanse and took her first step toward the grass. The step pushed the feeling of tiny, sharp, loose stones and dirt into her mind, where the feeling seemed painful as there hadn't been any just moments ago. Still laughing, she took another step with slightly wobbly balance and then another and another and another, each time she came ever-closer to the furry creature in the grass.

When she was only a step away from the grass, she turned to see how far she'd come by this new sensation of walking and saw that where she'd stepped was no longer white, but a deep brown and black with dark grey stones scattered within each footprint. Amazed, she knelt and put her palm to the ground and felt the stinging sharp roughness of the stones and the smooth, silky feel of the soil.

Then the sound of the creature panting brought her attention over and as she turned to it, she grabbed a handful of the soil. Moving toward the creature again, she slowly set her foot down into the grass, sure that the sharpness of it all would cut her wide open – but as she pushed her toes down first, they seemed to slide into the soft, hair-like tufts of greenery. In awe, she nearly let go of the soil, until she concentrated hard enough to keep it in her fist as she knelt to touch the blades of grass with her free hand. Her fingers pushed into the grass much like they had in her hair – now hanging around her neck to barely touch the back of her grass-covered hand.

The excitement returned, and she convulsed with laughter again, causing her to fall over and let go of the soil. Her right shoulder hit first, landing easily into the lush fur-like foliage with a soft 'shush' sound, followed closely by her back as she rolled to laugh hysterically at the sensation. Feeling the energy of the moment, the creature ran with small leaps until it landed beside her and shoved it's soft head into her hands.

Smiling broader, she grabbed the small figure and hugged it closely, gently stroking it's fur. With tears in her eyes, she repeated “creature” over and over while it wriggled within her arms.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Truth of Rialto

“The Truth of Rialto”
a short excerpt
Gary Baker, December 2013

Amir vaulted over a fallen cactus arm and felt his ankle slide open where the hand-length needles had grazed him. His heart hammering the tattoo of a Beethoven battalion, he barely noticed until he had gotten another seven steps further.

When he did stop it was beneath an acacia something-or-other that he only remembered from Mexican travel guides, as though he'd seen it when high as a kite, feeling none of the awe that he would have felt at another time, had things been different. Instead he felt the rough bark beneath his right palm and the airless breeze wreak havoc on his wind pipes as he fought to stay in control, as he fought to regain his composure, and knew this was it.

Hawkins -- Rialto, Amir had to remind himself -- was out there, in the desolate darkness, searching for him. He couldn't afford to stop.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Banners, Men and Manners

"Banners, Men and Manners"
a short story
Gary Baker, December 2013

Gah!” Rudolpho Mizrahi shoved his chin deep into his high-collar scarf and exhaled a bit of his body heat to warm himself up from the outside. Even with the layers of soft wool beneath the outer layers of his thick shark leather coat, mist formed where his breath escaped. “Is it just me or does it get colder the older we get?”

His companion set his jaw around a long shaft of whittled ivory, a thin gray plume barely visible at the end amidst his own exhaled fog. “Well, 's a certain thing that,” the man grumbled through grit teeth, “plus that you can't very well get colder without gettin' older now can ye?”

Mizrahi scowled. “Well by that logic you may as well say that you can't very well smoulder without getting older, too, eh?”

The gruff man snapped his mittened hands from the safety of his thick pockets and laboriously scrubbed them together beneath his unruly white beard. “Well I suppose ye might also say ye can't carry a shoulder without gettin' older, too.” Suddenly the pipe pitched to the side as the man brought his lips to one side, “no, wait, tha's not right, now, is it?”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Curious Species

"A Curious Species"
a short story
Gary Baker, August 2012

The aquatic being surfaces, exhaling water into the air.

A large ship sits in the distance, just off the shores of a small jungle island.

He had been watching this human vessel for a long while, now, curious as it had ventured along the coasts.

He watches as a female human is loaded into a small boat by ropes from the main deck. Gulls cry while thunderous waves crash against the ship, and water clips against merman's membranous ears as he lowers himself to take in more water.

Looking closer, he sees that the woman's body is tied, and her hands bound. Her eyes are shielded by cloth and her mouth is gagged by thick ropes.

Soft sounds echo across the water as the men begin to talk, their language guttural and warty--filled with sudden exhalations and tonal drops. Nothing like the harmonious songs of whales or the chittery tweets of dolphins.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


a prologue
Gary Baker, November 2013
(a part of the 'Song of the Julara' excerpts)
[(Sorry this piece is so late!)]

Stars! Look, there are stars!
Hya lifted his chin, breaking chunks of condensed dust and lichen in long stretch marks that hadn’t been moved in centuries. It took his eyes a second to realize what exactly he was looking at, the jungle that had grown around him turning much of the scene into scratches of darkness over the brighter backdrop of pinhole points that speckled the greater backdrop. He didn’t think they were stars, despite the voice so deep within his blessed consciousness telling him so. Hya would have said they seemed more like fireflies, if anyone so much as asked him, not that anyone ever had. 

Sure enough, however, there they were, blazing orbs of fusion and energy aloft in deep space somewhere, eons from his little rock, and yet so very close just then. Their spectroscopy lined up along the edges of his vision, numbers and letters, all characters of an age long gone and long since deceased, that seemed to hover where his eyes couldn’t comprehend; almost along the perpendiculars, though still accessible enough.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


a projected end to an old project
Gary Baker, November 2013

Gusts of air caress the lobes, singing of truth beheld in weeping fallacies and of lost hopes in the dying age of the modern man. With our feet so high above us we plummet like jettisoned matter expelled from crumbling masses as the heat breaks apart the teeniest particle and disrobes the faith we once had that this might all end up with smiles and cheery grins.
Not this time. No, certainly not this time.
Siv was falling. From so high and far from any terrestrial surface that nothing seemed to indicate that he had ever so much as looked at this globe before. And here it was coming at him like a godly marble shot from an even godlier cannon, wondering just why he had come here at all.
Condensation pressed against the facial visor of the jumpsuit, Sivs breath cleaned and re-oxygenated by nanos in the sealed space around the skin, just a centimeter, but one that spanned the whole head minus the ears. The ears were the crucial part, it had turned out, able to sense the most minuscule change in vibrato as the jet-stream mounted passed as if on a cavalry charge into space.
And still the ocean-side forests sped ever-closer.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Phone Booth

“Phone Booth”
a short story
Gary Baker, November 2013
(one of several tests for an idea for a larger project; check back often to see the other pieces as they come about)

Amir slid his arm over the payphone wall panel, carefully making sure he could see the taxi and it’s current occupant without anyone being able to say for sure. “Yeah, I know it’s not a good idea,” he began with a sigh, “but just think of the money! Can you even imagine what this much money can do for the business?”

Gerald, his boss, grumbled on the other end, “and what happens if he kills you along the way, eh? What then? You think I can just sit by and allow the man to murder my best driver? Well I think not. No way in hell, buddy.”

“Well he won’t, so stop worrying,” but the truth was: he wasn't entirely sure about that, himself. Realistically this trip had taken a sudden left turn out of nowhere as soon as he’d picked up that paper in Santa Fe and now, at the last gas station for miles upon miles into the desert, Amir was starting to admit how terribly bad the next day or so might end up; namely with his rotting corpse left in a ditch between dunes to be eaten by maggots and vultures alike.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Drowning Man

“The Drowning Man”
a short story
Gary Baker, October 2013

The date was August seventeenth, two-thousand and twenty, and I walked the pier leading out over the lake, knowing that I had a major problem. This was the second time this month, the seventh this year, and had accumulated into who knew how many after what, three years?

And that was just it: three years had officially passed, today, almost to the exact hour, where the sun so high in the sky cast deep rays into the crystalline waters. Down there, amidst the rippling molecules, at the bottom where fish and weeds could clearly be seen living their lives, I had lain for little more than four minutes without breathing.

I know, that seems like a lot, but hear me out, alright? This is a confession, after all.

You see, I had gone out for a swim that day, three years back, but had misstepped my dive and slammed my right temple on the edge of the redwood planks on my way in. I had been so cocky then, that I just assumed doing a full cartwheel off the end to hurtle myself in feet first would be a good idea.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Last Day

“The Last Day”
a short story
Gary Baker, October 2013

Recognition dawning, secrets climbing, fruit upon the vines declaring the day well-spent.
Breakfast harbors lingering wishes, strips of bacon cringing while they roil about in bed, hissing for another five minutes.
The T.V. doesn't work, so no news explains the current of humanity, but then again nothing else does either lately, not this close.
She looks over, anticipation in her eyes, tears of wonder glittering like raindrops, possibly the last he’ll ever see.
“You ready?” she chimes, her voice a harmonious melody of unexplored beauty.
“Yeah,” the jaw answers without the mentality to force it down, a hard lump caught in the place just above the thyroid, “ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Don't Forget the White

“Don't Forget the White”
a short story
Gary Baker, October 2013

“Why do you eat the white part?” She asked, her chin held in curious fingers.

I looked across from my park-side stone bench, the kind that appears as though carved from marble despite being everyday cement, and into the crystalline eyes of an elderly woman in an automatic cart. “Why do I eat the white of the melon?” I responded back, unsure of how to answer.

The real question she should have been asking was: why wouldn't I? or better yet: why didn't everyone else?

But I had always eaten it that way. It had always been the sweet, tangy crimson red first, dribbling down my moistened chin like an ecstatic cannibal with vegetal gore slipping down the corners of my lips, along the crevices made by years of childish smiles, and out over the overhang of my own mandible. It always made my jaw muscles ache with awe each time I bit into it, made my tongue sear with relishing delight as those black and white seeds floated over and beyond the grasp of my ability to bite down on before they, too, slid down my gullet and into a core of happiness.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


another excerpt
Gary Baker, October 2013

Sunlight searing, almost a sky-spanning white, with volumous realities criss-crossing in viewing rampart waves. Pines blurred, grasses as tall as homes turned to walls of color, stone fortifications melted in subsystomic bursts and a new world was borne from the last.
Eyes twinkling, always twinkling, she looked to the new skies, searching, wondering, hoping. Mascara drizzled over prim and proper painted cheeks, red hues tracing over her bones with a blushing intent, freckles opened into the night air, exposed like pebbles covered in mud in the rain.
Not here. It never was.
Maybe the next one. It always would be.
And blurs began again, smells coruscated into burning air, tastes of everything from sap to soil to saline droplets from the eye became metallic and raw, then nothing. Colors swept out, creeping like spiders in the mist, webs spearing the darkness with reflected tangibility, then connected and filled in to make the next in line what it was.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tremors of the Heart

“Tremors of the Heart”
a short story
Gary Baker, October 7 2013
(a special story to commemorate one full year of short stories, here on Stories by Baker)

It lasted for ages, the city swaying and juddering through hazy earthen convulsions. Standing at an open park bench, his book bag jostling in the grass at his feet, Ariel watched buildings begin to fall…

...and the screaming begin to rise.

The mall across the park from Ariel swayed, seven stories loosening in their gravestone foundations until, finally, one side buckled and brought the rest down in a cascade of stone and dust. The hideous screams rose to a crescendo, flooding Ariel’s ears like water breaking at the floodgates of a wounded dam.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Reinvention of Bond

"The Reinvention of Bond"
an excerpt
Gary Baker, September 2013

Corporal Roi Anxo, lead mechanical engineer for the United States Army drill base, located deep in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, stared, wide-eyed, as the silhouette came closer and closer, step by step consuming the space between itself and the high-grade military-issue rifles that had just riddled it with holes.
...and still it walked like an agent, calm, collected, and confident.
“Give me that thing!” The general forcefully grabbed the PK-Assault Rifle from the soldier closest to his left side and, with precision and speed only gained by years of use in the field, struck in a new magazine, brought it to his shoulder, using the shieldman for cover, and began a sharp, repetitive rat-tat-tat over the man’s shoulder. The man-shaped shadow stopped, hesitating in mid stride, then seemed to shake it’s head and turn around.
“You don’t want me out there, that’s fine.” It -- he -- spoke, using the regal coolness of tone that only one without fears might use. He knew he was more than safe in this situation, though Roi couldn’t comprehend how. “But at least take my invitation and enter my abode, if you would be so kind.”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Passing Glance

“A Passing Glance”
a short story
Gary Baker, September 2013

I'm glad you chose to meet me here, Raelyn” Turen began, watching the newcomer from over a steaming ceramic mug. All around them, the busy city of Paris bustled in the throes of mid-morning tourism and locals making their living amongst the less-than-warm fog. “Though I'm really not sure what to say.”

The woman stood across from him, having just made her way to his table moments ago, appearing as formal as they came in terms of European corporate attire. Her pinstripe grey pencil-skirt had been freshly ironed while her well-tailored blouse had been ruffled only at the hems where the belt of a taxi cab must have held. All in all, she was more magnificent than Turen could possibly remember.

Monday, September 23, 2013


a Stories by Baker exclusive
Gary Baker, September 23, 2013

Carnival lights flashed, kids shooting clowns with water toys squealed, petting zoo goats bleated into the air; and all as the smooth, suave, lady-man spy, Carlos Manzana, flickered passed in his Armani black suit.

He vaulted over a bench with a couple slapping tongue, turning even as he landed down to shoot her a wink, then back to running; bad guys were on his heels. Balloons burst as fragments of pistol-whipped bullets broke through them, glass jars with the little orange fish that die two days after you win them shattered in a quick barrage as Agent Manzana swept around the booth corner. Ladies screamed, hands flying to their hair in utter panic, their shrill cries echoing through Manzana who wanted nothing less than to hold them close and let them swoon their fears away.

Most would anyway, Manzana knew, but lets get this straight: most men would too, for this beast of beauty's rock hard bod.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Bow d'Longoria

"The Bow d'Longoria"
a short story
Gary Baker, December 2012

Desperately Esri drew the bow and let loose a sharp pang of heat across his fingertips even as a bolt of pure white struck down a man in the doorway below. Instantly the man became chars and fell to the floor in a crumbling mess.

It worked. The fabled bow had awakened.

Esri stared in awe, expecting it to be the disillusioned ramblings of a dying mind after an unseen deathstroke. It couldn’t have worked, not for him, not for the manservant with none of the abilities that made his race so noble.

He was the dud, the one man hidden away from the rest of the world in the garments and back alleys of servantry so that no one could ever tell such a mishap could take place for a race with powers over matter and energies from other realms. Yet they couldn’t kill him, either, not without altering empires-old legislature at the core foundations of their society.

And just as daunting was the awakened bow.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Photograph

“The Photograph”
a short story
Gary Baker, September 2013

There’s something in the way that a sandwich cut in halvsies from the corners seems to mystify the world versus leaving it whole or cutting it like a grid. It’s like taking the first swig of an unshaken gallon of milk, or the singlemost first slice of apple pie when it’s still steaming from the oven and how the world magically contorts to make these as magical as possible. Or like how taking a bite of a chocolate bar made from fairtrade chocolate from Costa Rica or the Amazon in Brazil or something like that, where it’s meant to be snapped into smaller bits and enjoyed piece-by-piece yet choosing not to follow the unspoken rules results in a far superior taste of that one, lone, first bite.

Today was like that, for Savannah. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013


a short story
Gary Baker, August 2013

Never before had I yearned for death to come as much as I do now. For years have I put up with this affliction, and just one more day will be the end of my sanity and humanity alike.

You see, this all started as great as things could get, I was the top of my class, the highest rank achieving the highest high a man could receive by non-organic means. I had it all. Dreams became reality at my feet and leaders came from afar just to meet me, a simple man turned god in less than a decade.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; my name is Jessie Jack -- no not Jackson like the thief or whathaveyou from millennia ago -- former CEO of iGiga, lead producer of humano-mechanical entertwination. So that’s not a real word, but I’m disgustingly rich so who cares; in two months that word will be lighting the pages of dictionaries across the globe.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Outpost

"The Outpost"
a short story
Gary Baker, August 2013

Ship Captain: Farah, to the bridge,” came the light, airy female voice over intercom speakers. “Attention Vassals: would Captain Farah please return to the bridge?”
It wasn’t a question; but then again it never was. Not with her.

With a heavy sigh, Ship Captain Julian Farah thrust himself the rest of the way up the corridor ladder and into a long, open passageway. He stood there for a moment with his hands on his hips, letting the gritty scales of the powersuit bore holes in his palms while basking in the blue-green glow of ever-present LED lighting.

“Ship Captain: Farah, to the bridge.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013


a short story
Gary Baker, August 2013

We thank you all for coming, and assure you that you have had the best of times tonight.” The primly dressed woman in pale khaki trousers and skin-tone stockings gave a curt nod, then proceeded off the stage and back to her end of show routine.

Ghera stared at the empty stage, barely two feet deep before a massive white cloth backdrop rose up like the face of a cliff. Murmurs rose from the audience as they shifted and set about leaving, though Ghera couldn’t understand why.

They just got here, not ten minutes ago according to the hard drive in his temporal reactor chip.

“Hey,” he leaned toward the cute grandma-like woman sitting next to him with large pearls around her neck and turquoise teardrop stones hanging from her ears. “Why is everyone leaving?”

She smiled as though he’d fallen asleep. “Why, because it’s over, of course.” She shrugged and settled into her coat with a sigh, “and it was such a ‘best of time’ sort of occasion, wasn't it?”

Ghera blinked. “So... I slept through it?”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tablets, part 2

a short story
Gary Baker, July 2013
(part 2 of 2)

It was near-instantaneous after that, as his reality twisted in an unexpected direction. He felt annoyance boil up at how the streets had been abandoned, yet people lived on them nonetheless. The city didn’t care for them, which was hilarious, but maddening in that they left the poor to their own devices only to crumble and burn out like lichen in the pyres of a long-since-used hearth.

He felt the thrill of rising anger as these annoyances drove him into red-faced mumbling about each thing that caught his attention.

He watched flies flit about, wanting to stop them from buzzing, their incessant noise grinding, berating, drilling deep into his head. Sure he didn’t have any headache just then, but did that give the pests an excuse to make all that racket? People walking the streets at near-midnight beyond the alley passed by without even noticing, but why didn’t they come down this way? Were they avoiding him? Were they too good to come down this way? Did they think they were too prim and proper to venture down here and risk what only they could assume would be a mugging? Did they not believe that he, a businessman from the upper reaches of society, deserved to be down here with the scum of the earth?

Well fuck them. Fuck them all. What good are those that are too afraid to do anything of worth or risk? Sissies, every last one of them. Fucking pansies. Piece-of-shit pussies, too good for this alleyway.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The End of an Age

"The End of an Age"
an excerpt
Gary Baker, July 2013

The dance went on for ages, a time that lapsed into the subconscious mind where it was quickly forgotten and barely noticed. Tips of steel and violent edges of hardened wood traced hornet trails in the air, leaving dark crimson mist in their wake.

Yet still Lithomir moved like a god at the heart of making the sun and moon and planets work, orbiting and lifting and launching here and there under cosmic certainty that nothing too horrible could happen to him so long as he kept his pace with the rhythm dwelling deep down. All he had to do was simply keep moving, to continue swinging and arcing and shifting the extensions of his hands, two lengths of folded iron with a taste and hunger for human flesh.

One good thing for the ever-unsatisfied blades was that soldiers swarmed the scene around the Dragon King like a nest of wasps turned over in midsummer when the insects were more apt to be driven to fury. Half of the sightless human forms in the midst of battling chaos seemed to intend almost utter silence as they fought, a choice completely and unintentionally unwise, as the other half “hum-bumbumbum”ed and thus avoided the sharp agony of an encounter with Lithomir’s blades.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tablets, part 1

a short story
Gary Baker, July 2013
(part 1 of 2)

Alright,” said the shaggy thin man through lips pursed around a thin cigarette. “Alrightalrightalright. Here.” He pushed a hand toward a well dressed businessman sitting against the brick wall in the midnight alley beside him and dropped a gray tablet into his hand as he reached for it. Seeing the speculative look on the businessman’s face, the shaggy man nodded, “the ‘calmer’. We call it ‘le neutral’, don’ever take s’m’others withou wonna these in between.”
The businessman, audibly referring to himself as ‘Cookie’ for the purposes of this meeting, looked to the two quiet men on the cement next to Shaggy. One watched him like a hawk from mascara-lined eyes and piercing-riddled features, while the other seemed entranced in his near-empty bottle of low-grade vodka, would-be grout-cleaner trickling down his chin to seep into the pores of his ragged coat.