Linear Fiction

You're sitting around a campfire and someone just starts telling a story. Totally made-up. Then a pause...and the next person takes up the thread. Suddenly, you're telling the story.

The linear fiction project is the same thing, only there isn't a campfire, and you can't actually see the other story-tellers.

Although we're still experimenting, we are guessing that fairly brief additions will result in a fun and fast-paced story. We recommend two to four paragraphs per chapter.

Want to add your own chapter to the linear fiction project? Click here.

By: Chris Herdtemail: chris@osric.comDate: 3/18/01, 6:05 PM
Lester Sweeny, a professor of astronomy at the University of Dubuque, loved coffee. He loved coffee so much that he decided to take a two-week vacation at the end of last December to Neiva, Columbia, to take a guided tour of a coffee plantation.

His tour guide, Lucinda, greeted him at the airport. "You must be Senor Sweeny," she said, "the renowned astrologer."

"Astronomer," said Lester.

"Sorry, my English is not so perfect." Lucinda smiled. "I am a Leo, you must tell me all about my future love life."

Lucinda was an attractive girl...though far too young for Lester...but he may as well have a good time flirting and predicting her future. He grinned, and put his carry-on bag in the back of Lucinda's Jeep.  
By: Nimemail: nim@nimweb.netDate: 3/28/01, 3:01 AM
After thrusting his taught duffel bag into Lucinda's gaping trunk, Lester wearily entered her [passenger] seat. Not only had he been travelling for the last day or so (and subsequently malnourished to the point that he considered a Payday and a Mellow Yellow to be a square meal)but his project of utilizing his vast knowledge of the cosmos to predict the paths of concurrence and non-concurrence between himself and his doppelganger produced earlier in his scientific career had delivered some strange results before he left for vacation and he hadn't time to properly mull over them with a cuppa joe. Why potholders, of all things?  
By: Davidemail: david@davidbrandt.comDate: 3/29/01, 5:17 PM
"Something troubles you, Senor?" Lucinda asked. She steered the jeep along the rutted dirt road.

"Huh?" Lester said with a start.

"You were muttering something. About potholders, I think," Lucinda said.

"Oh," he chuckled. "Well, just before I left Dubuque, I got a call from my
evil doppelganger, asking me to pick him up some potholders. I can't
decide if he's really reaching out, or if it's some veiled death threat."
He paused for a moment. "He's like that a lot."

Lucinda patted his knee. "We get you some nice potholders," she said.
"That will fix everything."

Lester smiled at her. "It's worth a shot," he said.

After a little while, he said, "So, where are you taking me?"

By: Nimemail: nim@osric.comDate: 3/31/01, 4:14 AM
Seated at the bar in an utterly ramshackle tavern in a dumbly tiny vilage in the south of France, Lester Sweeny's doppleganger remarked, "ouch."
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 3/31/01, 11:15 PM
The evil doppelganger, whose name, by the way, is Pierre Mauvais, cursed loudly.

"Sacre Bleu! Damn you, Lester Sweeney! Bartender, do you have a cold cloth?"

The bartender of the ramshackle tavern handed a lukewarm rag to Pierre. "What is going on, Monsieur Mauvais?"

"Merci. It seems that the universe, in its infinite wisdom, has interconnected me to my good doppelganger through potholders. If he were ever to touch a hot pan with a potholder, I shudder to think what would become of these very hands," Pierre told the bartender.

"Please," Pierre said, "may I use your phone? I have a very important call to make."  
By: nimemail: nim@osric.comDate: 4/1/01, 4:03 PM
The dialtone sounded in Pierre's ear with a slightly rustic edge to it, as if it too had spent too many nights sucking complantively on a hand rolled ciggarette in a musky French bistro as the cold winter winds lashed the surrounding countryside with the merciless vigor of a housecat served the wrong brand of cat food. It sounded again.

"Zis is not Marshall. I know not zis 'Marcel' which you seek."
"Wonderful, than you must be Francis."
"Yes, iz zis Lester?"
"Uhh, sure, this is Lester."
"Lester, mon homme! How 'ave you been?"
"Ah, good, good. Look, I'm stuck in Columbia."
"Why Columbia?"
"It's the coffee problem again."
"Ahh... I zee..."
"What I need you to do, Francis, is find my doppelganger and replace me with him in the Columbian prisons."
"Ahh... zat is quite doable vith my rezourcez. Are you sure you are in Columbia, Lester?"
"Umm, I think so. Check, the latest ground breaking venture by the geniuses at, for more details."
"Lester... you know I have no fingers."
"Oh, yes, that's right... So sorry Francis."
"Well, I will get right on it, Lezter."
"Thanks, Francy, you're a doll."

Pierre hung up the phone, took a deep drag on his cigarette, gulped down the rest of his Guinness, and felt much better about the potholders.  
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 4/17/01, 9:24 PM
Meanwhile, back in Neiva, Lucinda described his accommodations.

"You stay with me. I have a house with attached barn near coffee plantation. I live on one side, and my asses live on the other."

"Excuse me?" Lester said.

"You are excused," Lucinda said. "You will like my asses, although they are very loud, EE-aw, EE-aw. You know."

Lester pondered, for a moment, on which side of the house he would be sleeping...or if he would be sleeping at all.  
By: Sammy Famousemail: sammyfamous@sammyfamous.comDate: 5/2/01, 2:47 PM
It was only after arriving at Lucinda's small ranch house, a little drywall-and-palm-leaves affair, that Lester understood how truly weary he was. Ever since he was in college, he had carried a portable Turkish press kit with him that he and a similarly-caffeine-addled classmate converted to work with hot tap water. Before boarding the plane Lester had thought it more than appropriate to whip up a special "mud bath" version of his favorite Brazillian blend. He was correct in his belief that it would help with his travels. Just the noise of his own chattering teeth entertained him for most of the flight. In the seemingly alien world that rolled away in great green mountains around Lucinda's small but comely house, though, he stood as just a bared hull of his former self, as if the true Lester had burned away in a sepia tinted exhaust trail which lay beside his plane's own plume, leaving only a full bladder and ragged scorch marks where his personality once resided.
Of course, Lester could not love coffee more than that moment in Nevia as he stood on the "Hi, I'm Mat" doormat and absentmindedly dragged his bulbous nose across the sensual delight of Lucinda's screen door.
Through the peace, EEEEEE-AAWWWW EEEE-AWWW struck like a knife. Small reserve droplets of adreneline cobbeled together from hormonal spare parts inside Lester drove a similar spike through his consciousness.
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 6/1/01, 1:41 PM
The braying was unbearable. Never before had Lester's ears been exposed to such unwarranted abuse.

He glanced at Lucinda with a pained expression on his face. "Why do they do that?"

Lucinda laughed. "I give them espresso in the mornings. They get pretty riled up. You try some of my espresso, you'll EE-AW like an ass!"

By: chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 6/17/01, 3:10 AM
"Well, how about some of that espresso, then? I want to see if it kicks like a mule," Lester said.

"Kicks like mule?" Lucinda said. "No, it is espresso, you drink it. You americanos are muy locos."

Lucinda opened the cupboard above the most incredible 62-horsepower espresso maker Lester had ever seen.

"Ay, dios!" Lucinda cried.

"What is it?" Lester asked.

"Somebody has stolen all my espresso beans!"  
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 7/10/01, 9:17 PM
Lester Sweeny examined the cupboard. There were small knife-marks that spelled out "8:30 PM". PM - Pierre Mauvais. No doubt about it, his doppelganger was here.

"Lucinda," he said, "we've got trouble on our hands. This is the work of Pierre Mauvais, and that means...

"Lucinda?" he said. But she was fast asleep, slumped over the counter.  
By: Davidemail: bucky@keystreams.comDate: 11/30/01, 10:06 AM
"Lucinda!" Lester called out, shaking her shoulder. "Man, that's the worst caffiene crash I've ever seen," he muttered.

Then he noticed the tiny dart protruding from her neck. He heard a ffft!, followed by a sting in his own neck.

He barely had time to say, "I should have seen that coming," before sprawling unconscious over Lucinda.
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 4/17/04, 1:09 AM
Lester awoke, bound and gagged, in the dank recesses of an old coffee mine. Lucinda was tied up next to him, her wrists bound to his.

Pierre Mauvais was no doubt behind this, but that thought was not forefront in his mind. Lester had a splitting caffeine headache, and craved coffee. He was so close to a rich vein of medium-bodied Vienna roast Arabica he could almost taste it.

If he could only get the cotton rag out of his mouth and lean, with Lucinda, over far enough to get a bite, maybe he could percolate the grind internally?  
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 4/18/04, 3:27 PM
Actually, Lester thought, why try to remove the gag? It tasted like clean cotton--maybe it could act as a filter, to remove some of the oils, just like the unbleached paper filters he used at home?

He leaned over, dragging Lucinda with with, and started gnawing and the vein of pure coffee. He started feeling better within seconds!

He'd been ravenously chewing for five minutes when Lucinda finally awoke.  
By: Chrisemail: chris@osric.comDate: 4/18/04, 3:40 PM
Lester stopped when he heard Lucinda say, "Lester, what you doing? You loco?"

Lester stopped. Lucinda was untying the ropes that bound them. Then she undid his coffee-stained gag.

"Ah, I see--coffee! Here, let us make some for real." She pulled a tiny camp stove, a bottle of water, and a stovetop espresso machine out of her purse.

Lester's eyes bulged. "Lucinda--you're amazing! But where are we? And how do we get out of here?"

"No, no questions. Wait until after coffee!" she said.