Friday, October 12, 2007

"A Touch of Rust" - Free Short Story

Hey folks,

I've been posting a lot lately. I've been working on that high you get after you've busted your butt for so many months on a project and finally completed it, in this case Issue Number 9 of the If - E - Zine(tm).

I appreciate all the comments and communications I've been sharing with many of you as of late. Feel free to keep them coming.

For today's post I offer the first two parts of "A Touch of Rust", one of the three free short stories found in If - E - Zine(tm) Issue Number 9, this year's Special Halloween Edition.

If you'd like to read the full story, you can find it at

Much love and respect,

~ charles, ed.-in-chief

“A Touch of Rust”
© 2007 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be stored, copied or used without written prior permission from the author.

The world had turned to rust long ago. Few saw it happen, yet everyone felt it. Rust was simply too difficult to find in a city of concrete and plasma. The city was home to many things, but vegetation was not one of them.

Little Koji, however, knew of the one unique spot within the vast, sprawling city that held such rare life.

Koji exploded from the school, running through the asphalt playground into the arms of his waiting grandfather.

“Grampa! Grampa!”

“Heya, kiddo!”

They hugged.

“Are ya ready?” Grampa asked.


They were suddenly in a small, battered old truck speeding down the road, pressed on by zooming traffic and sounds of Shostakovich drowning out the world.

They passed through valleys of concrete wrapped in two-way plasma screens each stretching several stories high. From the inside they acted as windows, but from the street-valleys every building was a towering, mountainous billboard playing one channel or another, flashing some commercial or another.

They ignored the psychologically designed brilliantly flashing colors. Grampa drove, windows down despite the thick, heavy smog. Winds whipped at their hair. People stared at them from other vehicles, from behind closed glass.
Little Koji smiled at them all.

The old truck turned, diving underground, searching for a spot in which to park. Koji watched, counting row after row of vehicles. He thought they looked like sticks of gum packaged tightly, only their wrappings each different.
They found a place to park, slipped in and were off to the elevators.

Once again Koji watched, counting the floors as they passed on by. Up, up, ever up they went.

Koji spilled out of the elevator, his grandfather in tow, on the 132nd floor.
With the swipe of a card, a beep and a whoosh Grampa’s condo door burst wide.

Koji ran in, peeling off layers, spraying himself and his accessories everywhere. Here landed a jacket, there a backpack, as the little boy ran around furniture undaunted and heading for another door.

The door was made of glass and slid open. Koji could see his destination through the door as he drew near.

With a slide and a bang the door made way for the little boy. Koji came at last to stand center-stage of the big balcony, reaching high overhead to touch the golden leaves and bark of a tree all aglow with the fires of Autumn. The tree chattered at him with happy refrain, its leaves rustling on self-made winds.

* * * * *

Later that afternoon Koji and Grampa sat at a small table beneath the tree eating snack cakes and drinking apple juice.

“Grampa?” Koji kicked his feet.


“Teacher says there’s not just one kinda tree in the world, but all different kinds!”

“That’s right.”

“What kind of tree is this one?”

“Oh, a glorious maple.”

“Glorious maple,” Koji repeated. “We read about maples in school.”

“Oh? What’d you read?”

“They’re called Acers and there’s even different kinds of maples!”

“That’s true. This one’s a sugar maple. Did you read about them?”

Koji shook his head.

“The western hall of the palace of one of the dragon gods is filled with sugar maples, all turning gold. Maples also keep bats away from your home.”

“Like vampires?”

Grampa smiled. “And vampires, too, I’m sure.”

“Grampa, why do trees change colors?”

“Well, not all trees change color, but maples do. Did you learn about chlorophyll?”

Koji nodded, smacking his lips over a small cake. “It’s what makes plants green.”

“That’s right, and when that chlorophyll breaks down in some plants, like in maples, the colors start to change.”

Koji snatched up another cake and drank his juice.

“Everyone needs a little rust in their lives, kiddo. It makes us old but… it makes us humble… a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Koji kicked his feet. He smiled up at the tree. “I like comin’ here, Grampa.”

Laughing, Grampa said, “It’s just another place to live, kiddo. Just another box.”

“A box with a tree!”

Again Grampa laughed. “I like you comin’ here, too, kiddo.”

Koji gulped his juice.

Grampa smiled.

* * * * *

Read the rest of the story within the pages of If - E - Zine(tm) Issue Number 9 at!

No comments: