Saturday, September 17, 2011

"A Stop At Stanford" by Robert Collins (Short Story)

Genre:  Science Fiction

Short Story Type:  Short Story

Summary:  Doug Nyren makes videos. He wants to move to a place where the other artists aren’t snobs and his neighbors won’t try to push him to be a sell-out. He visits the tiny town of Stanford on the planet Gypsum. He meets some interesting people there, but will Stanford be the new home he’s looking for?

Doug let his mind wander. He thought back over the towns he’d already been to. Would Stanford be like the artists’ colony he was trying to escape? Would it be filled with people wanting him to be famous, or wanting to be famous themselves? Would it be so obscure he’d have to struggle to maintain what he’d built? Or would Stanford be the place for him to preserve the video career he’d chosen?

I’ll find out soon enough, I guess.

The thought wasn’t much reassurance, but he was running out of such sentiments. The world that he’d been working on had become overrun with an odd mix of fame-seekers and nose-in-the-air artistes. They were driving him away with their desires and opinions. He wanted a place to create his net-movies without having to sell out or sink to snob-appeal.

So far his search had turned up nothing ideal. Each place on each world had too much commercialism, or too many highbrow types, or not enough other creative people to understand him and what he did. The world was flooded with tourists, or so isolated as to be nowhere. He now wondered if he’d have to give up the career path he’d chosen, and compromise his art to fit where ever he ended up.

It was not a comforting thought.

A couple of hours into his trip to the village of Stanford the scenery changed dramatically. Where there had been rolling prairie, now there were tree-covered hills rising sharply around the highway. Winding creeks passed under the road, some with clear currents and white foam. Partial fall foliage created wild patches of brown, orange, and gold among large swatches of green.

The highway ran just north of the town. He took control and turned his vehicle onto the rough street into Stanford. The street crossed only three others before it entered downtown, passing by several modest homes. The “downtown” consisted of two stone and three other business buildings; all appeared occupied. The three other buildings housed a gallery, a gift shop, and the city office. One of the stone buildings was a one-story affair; an elaborate sign across the top read “Stanford General Store.”

The other stone building was the largest in town, two stories tall. A metal canopy covered the entrance. It was newer than the wrought-iron posts that held it up, but the posts were in better shape. Above the second-story windows “Stanford” and “2183” had been carved onto the face. A more recent sign hung from two of the posts proclaiming it as “The Stanford Hotel & Restaurant.” The driver pulled up to it and turned the vehicle off.

He took a moment look around. The town was quiet. The buildings were in good shape, neither decaying nor appearing too alive. The signs over the businesses had personality, but didn’t reek of it. The town made a pleasant low-key impression.

So did the last two, the man thought. They weren’t as pleasant under the surface.

Read this short story on the Kindle or on Smashwords.

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