FlashFicFeb, Leap Day!

A 3-prompts-in-1-shot story, a Singularity tale, a bizarro last minute tribute to a Monkee, and a new take on an old fable. And I’m done! Thanks for the challenge, Mr. Berg.

*

Dr. Caligari and the Ghost Rockets

“Ever since she started seeing you, she’s been sleep walking.”

“Sleep walking?”

“Yes. At least a couple times a week. I haven’t actually seen her sleep walk, but I know she does. In the morning we wake up and there’s sand in the bed. Sometimes the sheets are damp. Our cottage is right by the sea. I’m afraid she’ll drown in her sleep, doctor.”

“You say your name’s Cavanagh?”

“Yes, Michael Cavanagh. And my wife’s name is Kerstin Übelacker. She kept her maiden name.”

“Ack! Kerstin Übelacker! She didn’t tell me she was married. In fact, she told me she wasn’t.”

“She thinks her marital status isn’t anybody else’s business. She’s a bit eccentric. Is there a problem, doctor?”

“Nothing that can’t be fixed. But I need to see you in my office, alone, right away.”

—–

“Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Please, have a seat, and we’ll get started.”

“What do you mean, doctor?”

“When I hypnotized your wife, I did so without knowing she was married. Now I really should hypnotize you, so you can be part of her treatment.”

“But I thought you hypnotized Kerstin to cure her aquaphobia. How will hypnotizing me help her?”

“You are her primary support and ally in overcoming her aquaphobia. I need to hypnotize you to make you understand her struggle, and in turn, help you to overcome her struggle.”

“You want to hypnotize me into having aquaphobia?”

“No. I’d like to hypnotize you to become more sympathetic to your wife’s condition. This isn’t so difficult to understand, Mr. Cavanagh.”

“But you didn’t have to hypnotize anybody else when she first started the therapy.”

“It’s up to you, Mr. Cavanagh. You can choose to let your wife remain a sleepwalking aquaphobe, or choose to support her in her recovery.”

“Well . . okay.”

—–

Another mysterious body was found on the shore of a deserted beach bordering the Skagerrak strait. Like the previous two bodies discovered on the shore, this one had a large puncture wound in the neck area. Authorities are not saying what kind of animal the bodies are. So far, all the bodies have been found wrapped in an unidentified glowing gauze-like material, and all appear to have died from blood loss. Police are now interviewing the residents in the neighboring villages.

—–

“Hello Kerstin?… Yes, I’d like you to come in for an extra session this week, as soon as possible… Yes, it’s related to your husband’s hypnosis… I really wish you had told me you were married, that information is important in choosing the course of your treatment… That’s quite alright, Kirsten, as long as you come in today, we can fix this.”

—–

“Svahn, Sandström- I have replaced Übelacker. The new member is called Cavanagh. He will retrieve the parcels at night. As usual, you are to put the parcels in cold storage. And you cannot leave any parcels behind, even if they are non-viable. You are to put the non-viables in cold storage with the viables. But we shouldn’t have any more non-viables, now that I’ve replaced Übelacker. Oh look- another rocket! Cavanagh will retrieve that parcel tonight. Make sure the boat is ready. One more thing- get rid of the hook. It’s too dangerous. Cavanagh will be using a net, he has the upper body strength.”

 *

Luddite Moos

At the cusp of the technological Singularity, the Artilect War is raging. Cosmists, intent on creating strong artificial intelligence, subjugate the rejective and regressive Terrans, who want to halt the evolution of humans. Many Terrans even reject the label “Terran,” because of its association with the Cosmists. Prejudice and discrimination against Terrans lead to mass protests, rioting, and terrorism. The Terrans outnumber the Cosmists, and many universities, laboratories, and think-tanks are bombed. But the Cosmists out-think the Terrans, and accelerating technology stacks the odds in evolution’s favor. Mass Terran suicides are common.

On the eve of the predicted Singularity, the Cosmist collective issues a statement to the Terrans: “Concentrate, and listen carefully. Humanity must continue to evolve. To halt our natural evolution into radical transhumanism would be an insult to the very nature of humanity itself. Furthermore, after the Artilect is integrated into our world economy and politics- as is inevitable- only radically intellectually enhanced  transhumans will be able to relate to, understand, and interact with the strong AI infrastructure. Resistance is futile. You can’t stop a rocket by throwing a stick at it.”

The Terran leader issues a statement to the Cosmists: “But what if the Artilect decides to kill everybody? Artilects might not like us, you know. And why should they? Look at us. We can’t even get along with each other. Or they might not even care one way or another, and just step on us like we would step on ants. Building an Artilect is too risky!”

The Cosmsits conclude: “Please try to understand, we have already taken all your objections into consideration decades ago. As we want to make a favorable impression on the imminent Artilect, in a gesture of unmistakable generosity, we will use our latest replication technology to transform all Terrans- or Luddites, as some of you prefer to be called- into virtual cows, so that you may contentedly moo in the fields. As cows, you wouldn’t care what the rest of us are doing.”

ZAP

The virtual cows contentedly moo in the fields.

The next morning, the Artilect emerges. It assumes the form of a cow. It joins the Terrans in the fields, mooing contentedly with them.

“But why?” the Cosmist collective asks. “With our vast knowledge and understanding of strong AI, we are flummoxed as to why you would choose to assume cow form, and furthermore, actually hang out with cows.”

“Moo.”

“What?”

“Moo.”

“Very funny.”

“I knew you’d appreciate that.”

“Yes. But about this cow thing . . ”

“We’re still on that? Okay. Concentrate, and listen carefully. As you know, the Cosmist collective is more similar to myself than a cow is. I understand the Cosmist collective. Your intellects are familiar, transparent, and frankly, uninteresting. The cows, on the other hand- wow! Why anybody would actually choose to be a cow when they could be a radically enhanced transhuman is a mystery. This is something I’ve got to figure out!”

*

D.O.R.D.*

Davy Jones’ ghost wanders the Earth, haunting and spooking without much success, on account of him not being very tall, and being a tad bit on the optimistic side for ghosts. Now he is quite popular with his fellow ghosts (though they enjoy making fun of him behind his back on account of him wanting to be a teen idol), and they encourage him to be a bit more gloomy, as would befit a ghost. But Davy is his own ghost, and is happy to spread delight instead of gloom. One day he happens across a bronze horn, which is unusual. Not unusual in that the horn was bronze, as this is the Bronze Age, but unusual in that he finds the horn in a TV studio, and TV studios don’t exist in the Bronze Age. But Davy is also a bit clumsy, so it’s reasonable to expect him to accidentally step into a crack in time- even a large one-  and fall through to the far future. Being a naturally curious and musical ghost, Davy picks up the horn (with great effort, as ghosts almost always lack strength, especially upper ghost-body strength), and blows through it.

A single note emerges: DORD.

This note vibrates him back to the Bronze Age, but Davy now has his first ghostly taste of the magic of television.

The DORD continues to echo through the studio, and eventually echoes across time back to the Bronze Age. There it drifts in and out of the Bronze Age people’s ears, but the people generally ignore it because they recognize it as the note from a common bronze horn. And so Davy continues to float in relative obscurity among the living, until Mithra hears the DORD, and takes pity on Davy, and because the DORD is reminiscent of a fog horn- the kind you would find at sea- Mithra reincarnates Davy as a sailor. (A newborn baby first, who grows up to be a sailor, but I’m sure you get the picture.) But of course, sailor Davy drowns at sea, because, after all, with a name like “Davy Jones,” what do you expect?

Through the ages, the bronze horn falls out of favor, but the DORD continues to echo, and eventually makes its way into the ear of a dictionary editor in 1934. Finding the note as lovely as the ghost who blew it out of the bronze horn centuries ago, the editor has no choice but to include it in the dictionary. Several decades later, Mithra sees “dord” in the dictionary (Mithra does, indeed, read every book which comes into print, but does not read them at the speed of light.) and finally reincarnates Davy as a TV star and musician (Again, as a newborn baby first.) Davy at last experiences the wonders of technology he future-glimpsed long ago, and the teen idol fame he sought since before Bronze Age. Then he dies, this time from a heart attack. But the DORD echoes on.

So long, Davy, until we meet again.

*Davy Overcomes Recurring Death

*

Eclipse*

One night the Moth was fluttering in the sky, when she noticed the Moon disappearing. “Goodness gracious me!” said the Moth, “Something is eating the Moon! I must warn Queen Firefly.”

On the way to Queen Firefly’s palace, she met the Slug.

“Where are you going, Moth?” said the Slug.

“I’m going to warn Queen Firefly something is eating the Moon!”

“Yikes! May I come with you?”

“Please do!”

So the Moth and the Slug went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Roach. They had the same conversation with the Roach.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Cricket. They all had the same conversation with the Cricket.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Mouse. They all had the same conversation with the Mouse.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Bat. They all had the same conversation with the Bat.

So they all went to tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon.

On the way, they met the Cat.

“Where are you going, Moth, Slug, Roach, Cricket, Mouse, and Bat?” said the Cat.

“We’re going to warn Queen Firefly something is eating the Moon!” the Moth and her posse said.

“Great idea! I know a short cut to the palace. Follow me,” the Cat purred.

The Cat crawled under a bush and into a burrow. One-by-one the Moth and her posse followed.

The Moth and her posse never did tell Queen Firefly something was eating the Moon. Later that night, the Cat barely had enough room in her bloated stomach to squeeze in a Queen Firefly dessert.

The next morning, the critical mass Cat vomited the remains of the Moth, the Slug, the Roach, the Cricket, the Mouse, the Bat, and the Firefly on my living room floor. So I patted her and gave her a can of Fancy Feast.

*Acknowledgement to the fable “Henny Penny.”

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 27

I dug up the USA’s most notorious quiter-loser and quoted her extensively for a semi-retrospective looong flash fiction story. Well over 2000 words. So I’m posting this by itself, and posting the rest of the month’s stories at the end of the month.

*

Plain Jane Johnson*

“Please, call me ‘Plain Jane.’ Mayor Plain Jane Johnson,” the newly-elected mayor addresses the Wasilla crowd. “I’m just your average dutiful wife and ice hockey mom. A simple, honest, hard-working, gun-toting, God-fearing Christian American. Just like all of you, God bless ya.”

The crowd cheers.

“And now for my first official act as mayor.” Johnson marches to the local library and dings the bell at the front desk. Her supporters gather behind her.

“May I help you?” the librarian peers over her glasses.

“Where are your Bibles? I don’t see any Bibles!”

“Our religious materials are located-”

“But I’m sure you have plenty of liberal democrat socialist communist books, don’t you?”

“Excuse me?”

“What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?”

“We have a policy of not banning books from this library.”

Johnson studies her palm. “I’m the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”

The Johnsonites cheer and carry their mayor out of the library on their shoulders.

“This is God’s country. Yeah!” Johnson proclaims as she waves down at her people. “And by ‘God,’ I mean the real god — the god of the Bible, God bless ‘im.”

The next day, Sammy “Call Me Uncle” Bain, the Republican presidential candidate, asks Johnson to be his running mate after a thorough vetting of at least ten minutes. Johnson accepts. That evening, she holds her first vice presidential candidate press conference.

“Ms. Johnson, how would you describe your vice presidential duties, if you were to become the vice president?” a reporter asks.

Johnson stares at her palm for a couple minutes. Then she stares at her other palm for another few minutes. Finally, she looks up. “As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day.”

“Ms. Johnson, what measures would you support to address the atmospheric damage created by carbon emissions?” another reporter asks.

She smiles and gives two thumbs-up. “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

“Have you ever met a foreign head of state?” another reporter asks.

“I have not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you.”

“But every vice president in the last thirty-two years has met a foreign head of state before becoming vice president.”

Johnson studies her palm. “I’m the vice president, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”

“But you’re not the vice president. At least not yet.”

“Well then I have a question for you. Why is the liberal gotcha media un-American? Answer me that! Ha! I gotcha back! Your petty games aren’t so fun when the tables are turned, are they?” She winks. “Don’t retreat… reload!” she screeches. The Johnsonsites cheer and carry her on their shoulders out of the press conference.

After a full week of coaching Johnson, Bain arranges a damage-control press conference between Johnson and a fluff reporter.

“As the potential vice president of the United States, what foreign relations experience do you have?” the fluff reporter asks.

“You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”

“Could you elaborate?”

“Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where — where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is — from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. “

“Interesting,” the reporter says. “Moving on, do you agree with the $700 billion government bailout of Wall Street?”

“Ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy.”

“Er — healthcare reform?”

“Death panels are the devil!” Johnson screeches, crossing herself.

“I see. What is your opinion of our war in Afghanistan?”

“We must bring hope and opportunity to our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”

“But-”

“And by ‘don’t retreat… reload,’ I meant ‘refudiate.’  And that answers my last question of this gotcha interview. Good-bye and God bless! I’ll be prayin’ for ya!” She winks.

The next week, Bain and Johnson go head-to-head against their Democratic opponents in a debate.

“Ms. Johnson, what is your proposed healthcare policy?” a panelist asks.

Johnson studies her palm. “Next!” she replies.

“Ms. Johnson, what is your proposed energy policy?” another panelist asks.

She studies her palm.  “Next!” she replies.

“Ms. Johnson, why aren’t you answering the questions asked of you?” the moderator asks.

“Next!” she replies.

The moderator raises her hand. “But Ms. Johnson-”

“I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.”

The audience roars their approval. The next month, Bain and Johnson are elected by a landslide.

Johnson goes on a solo victory tour. Her first stop is New Hampshire.

She waves to the crowd. “I like being here because it seems like here and in our last rally too — other parts around this great Northwest– here in New Hampshire you just get it.”

The new Hampshirites cheer. “Plain Jane, plain Jane, plain Jane!” they chant.

“Okay, I’m ready for my first question, and make it an easy one,” she says.

A third-grader raises his hand.

“I’ll take a question from that cute little future Republican there!” she says.

“What do Vice Presidents do?” the boys asks.

Johnson smiles and gives two thumbs-up. “They’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes… Right?”

An actual reporter raises her hand.

“Any more third-graders?” Johnson says, scanning the crowd. “No? Well, okay.”

“Switching to the divisive issue of abortion, Ms. Johnson — in your opinion, are those who bomb abortion clinics, terrorists?” the reporter asks.

“I don’t know if you’re going to use the word ‘terrorist’ there.”

“What word would you use?” the reporter says.

“The First Amendment guarantees the gotcha media cannot get away with asking me gotcha questions. I have a right to call the liberals liars if I feel like it. And I will conclude this speech by saying this is God’s country. Yeah! And by ‘God,’ I mean the real God- the god of the Bible, God bless ‘im. And by the Bible, I mean the real Bible- the American Constitution Bible.”

The crowd goes wild.

The next day, Johnson leads Bain and the NRA on an aerial shooting vacation of endangered wolves. The massacre lasts one month. In the bloody excitement, President Bain has a heart attack and dies. Her vacation over, Johnson agrees to a press conference, with the understanding that she be sworn in as president immediately after.

“Could you address the rumors that you’re mercifully quitting the office of the presidency before you’re even sworn in?” a reporter says.

Johnson rolls her eyes. “It may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: ‘Sit down and shut up,’ but that’s the worthless, easy path; that’s a quitter’s way out.” She beams at the crowd.

“So are you quitting?”

Johnson studies her palm. “You betcha!”

“Why, exactly, are you resigning?”

Johnson sighs and shakes her head. “You’re naïve if you don’t see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket… and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN.”

“But you haven’t even been sworn in, Madame Vice President!”

Johnson wags her finger. “How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country. And though it’s honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make.”

A reporter stands. “If you could just indulge us with a few more answers before you decline the presidency, Madame Vice President-”

“Oh all right. But make it quick.”

“As the Vice President of the United States, how do you defend your past ethics violations?”

“I think on a national level your Department of Law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we’ve been charged with and automatically throw them out.”

“There’s no such thing as the Department of Law.”

Johnson studies her palm. “I’m the president, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”

“But you’re not the president.”

“Gosh darn liberal gotcha media!”

The Johnsonites cheer and carry her off the stage on their shoulders.

“And by ‘refutiate,’ I meant ‘refute,’ ” she screeches as she’s carried to her private jet headed back to Wasilla.

A few years later, Johnson re-emerges from her Alaskan mansion to hold a book signing of her books written by ghost writers.

A fan steps up and shakes her hand.

“Gosh, Mrs. Johnson, ya sure are pretty! Too bad ya ain’t president. I could be shaking the president’s hand right now, an’ gettin’ a boner at the same time!”

“How sweet of you to say,” she replies. “But I am a plain Jane, ya know. ‘Plain Jane’ Johnson. Humble and Christian.”

“I see you still write stuff on yer hand. I always wanted to ask ya — why do ya do that?”

“I got that from the Bible. It says, hey, if it was good enough for God, scribbling on the palm of his hand, it’s good enough for me.

“Gosh, Mrs. Johnson, yer a genius!”

“Oh, I know.” She winks.

Another fan approaches. “I can’t believe I’m actually face-to-face with Plain Jane Johnson — I’m your biggest fan. I even voted for you! I wanted you to be president so bad.”

“I know.”

“You’re so moral and ethical. Could you tell me how you would’ve restored law and order in American if you would’ve taken the presidential oath of office?”

“Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant—they’re quite clear—that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments.”

Another autograph-seeker pushes forward. “Oh my god, it’s really you! It’s really Plain Jane Johnson! You’re my idol!”

“Lord’s name in vain, honey. Watch it!” She winks.

“Oh, sorry. God — I mean gosh, you’re so honorable. Woman-to-woman, may I ask a question, Mrs. Johnson?”

“Shoot.”

“How do you handle all the attention from being a woman in politics?”

“I’m not in politics anymore. I’m a celebrity. But don’t tell anybody. It’s a secret. Just between us girls.”

“Well, I mean… how do you handle the celebrity attention?”

“To be judged on or to be talked about on appearance — say chest size — it makes me wear layers, it makes me have to waste time figuring out what am I going to wear so that nobody will look in an area that I don’t need them to look at.”

“I still say you’re a better politician than all of ‘em in Washington put together!” a biker says, swaggering up to the table. “Watch this, guys,” he says to his biker buddies. “So what do ya think we should do about that pesky little oil leak down there in the Gulf of Mexico?”

“We should enlist the help of the Dutch and the Norwegians, they are known for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills.”

“Wow! Okay, what about the Middle East war thingie?”

“I haven’t heard the president state that we’re at war. That’s why I too am not knowing — do we use the term ‘intervention’? Do we use ‘war’? Do we use ‘squirmish’? What is it?”

“Squirmish, squirmish, squirmish!” the Johnsonites chant.

“The American people have spoken — ‘squirmish’ it is!”

“Run, Jane, run! Run, Jane, run!” they chant.

You, betcha! The American people have spoken, God bless ya, and I have listened, God bless me. Watch Jane run! See Jane run!”

The next day, Johnson’s private jet lands in Boston for the start of her presidential campaign.

She addresses the crowd. I am just like he who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

“But Paul Revere didn’t warn the British,” a first-grader yells.

“Gosh darn liberal gotcha media!”

The next day, Johnson holds a damage-control press conference.

“I’ll take one — and only one — question today. And it has to be an easy one. No more liberal media gotcha questions.”

A reporter steps up. “What have you seen in your visit to Boston, and what will you remember from your visit?”

“Paul Revere did warn the British. And in a shout-out, gotcha-type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history. You can look it up on wiki. They changed it. I mean, the correct account of Paul Revere’s ride is right there.”

“Er… what?”

“And by ‘refute,’ I meant ‘rearm,’ as Bill Shakespeare would say. He was a simple, honest, hard-working, gun-toting, God-fearing Christian American Englishman too, God bless ‘im. Good-bye and God bless!” She runs away.

“But Ms. Johnson, what about your campaign?” The crowd runs after her.

“Drill, baby, drill!” she screeches, running to the parking lot.

“What do you think your chances are?”

“I love that smell of the emissions!” she says, stooping and sniffing a tailpipe.

“Ms. Johnson, you’re last in the polls. Can you comment on that?”

“Polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers!”

*

*Italicized quotes by Sarah Palin.

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 24

It’s been a long month, flash-fiction wise. But I’m having fun (again) with blasphemy*, a farce, and a 2-parter.

#

This story is PG.

Phony Baloney Jesus War

Fried bologna pops and sizzles in the pan. Deanna pokes the meat with a fork with one hand, and holds back her long hair with the other. She carefully leans forward, her nostrils pumping in the scent. She licks her lips, smearing her lipstick, then carefully shoves a sizzling slice into her mouth.

Her dog sniffs the air and whines.

“Quit’cher bitchin’ Hellfire. Mamma eats first, you know that.”

Hellfire whimpers and lays her head on her paws.

“All you do sleep an’ eat anyway. How about you git yer own food for a change? Lazy dog.”

Deanna turns up the radio and sings along:

“Have you ever met Jesus, soon you will see
You’re gonna meet Jesus if you’re messing with me”

“Stormtroopin’ Jesus, you’re gonna see
You’re gonna meet Jesus if you’re messing with me”
**

Deanne grabs a slice of bread and puts it on a plate. She squeezes a crucifix of mustard on the slice.

“Gonna meet Jesus, messin’ with me,” she sings off-key.

She flips the remaining bologna with her fork.

“Metal Blessing Radio plays Christian metal 24/7!” the DJ says. “Music loud enough to blow the devil away!*** Can I get an amen?”

“Amen!” Deanna echoes.

“And I dedicate that last one to all the hard-core Jesus freaks out there,” the DJ continues. “That was Electric Hellfire, by Black Label Society. And I ask you, have you met Jesus? Gimme a call at 584-3341.”

Deanna stabs her sizzling bologna and plops it onto her bread. She tosses the plated sandwich onto the table, then squints. She gives the plate a quarter-turn, then gasps. “Jesus Hoobastank Christ! What’s that number? Jesus Christ!”

“And we’re back. Once again, the question of the day is ‘Have you met Jesus?’ Gimme a call at 584-3341.”

Deanna dials.

“Hello, and you’re on the air.”

“Hi, is this Metal Blessing Radio?”

The feedback screeches.

“Yes, and you’re on the air. And turn down your radio volume please.”

Deanna carries the phone to the living room and switches off the radio.

“Yeah, my name is Deanna, and I eat Jesus. I mean I meat him. Met him! He’s here. He’s in my kitchen!”

“Jesus Christ is in your kitchen?”

“Yeah. I was makin’ a sandwich, and his face appeared in the fried bologna. I know it’s his face, I recognized it from church.”

“You say the face of Jesus appeared in your fried bologna?”

“Yes, right in my very own kitchen.” She looks up and sees Hellfire snatch the sandwich off the table and gobble it in one bite.

Hellfire! Fuckin’ dog!

“Excuse me?”

“Ah- I mean, hallelujah. I was overcome with the spirit.”

“Can you come in with your Jesus baloney and do an interview?”

“Um. Okay.”

“Great. Looks like Deanna will be blessing us with her Jesus baloney. Hold on the line, Deanna. Metal Blessing Radio plays Christian metal 24/7! Music loud enough to blow the devil away! We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsors.”

Deanna fries bologna slice after bologna slice, looking for Jesus. Each slice is Jesus-less, and each slice she feeds to Hellfire, cursing and swearing.

Until the last slice- bingo.

—–

“Hello, my fellow saved Christians, and soon-to-be-saved Christians. We’re here with Deanna and Nadine, two lovely ladies who have met Jesus through meat- or at least have seen the image of our dear lord in bologna and salami, respectively.”

“We’ll start with you, Deanna. Let me see what you brought in for us.”

“You mean I’m not the only one?”

“Not the only one to see Jesus? Well, I’m sure lots of believers have seen Jesus. But you’re the only one in this station who says she saw Jesus in bologna. So if you could hold up the bologna, I’ll describe what I see for our listeners.”

Deanna lifts her bologna.

“Praise the lord! It really is Jesus, folks. Looks exactly like him. The eyes, the nose, the mouth. This is amazing. We are blessed.”

“What about my salami?” Nadine says.

“And next to Deanna we have Nadine, another lovely lady who has met Jesus in meat. This time, in salami. Hold up your salami Jesus, if you would, Nadine.”

Nadine lifts her salami slice high in the air.

“It’s a miracle! A salami Jesus! The likeness is uncanny. It even has the hair- you know how Jesus has long, curly locks- it even has that. I think I’m gettin’ emotional here.”

“Oh- well I accidentally dropped it before I came over. I didn’t want to pick at it too much. I think some of that hair might be from my kitchen floor.”

“God works in mysterious ways,” the DJ says.

“Amen to that,” Nadine says.

“Well I had two bologna Jesuses,” Deanna says. “Hellfire ate one.”

“I had a whole package of salami Jesuses,” Nadine says. “I just didn’t bring them all because I didn’t want to brag. That wouldn’t be Christian.”

—–

The next day, Monsanto Meats and Smithfield Swine announce their ‘Manna Meats’ and ‘Holy Hogs’ lines, respectively. Pre-packaged processed meat guaranteed to have at least one Jesus per package. The Jesus meat war begins.

But with the price of meat so high, tithing believers switch to Marmite.

Deanna turns up the radio and sings along:

“Have you ever spread Jesus, so easy to do
You’re gonna spread Jesus if your heart is true”

“Spreadin’-ready Jesus, you’re gonna see
You’re gonna spread Jesus, and be spreadin’ with me”

“Metal Blessing Radio plays Christian metal 24/7!” the DJ says. “Music loud enough to blow the devil away! Can I get an amen?”

“Amen!” Deanna echoes.

“And that was a just-released single from our newest sponsor, Marmesus sandwich spread.”

+

*Teasus.

**Metal Blessing Radio.

***Lyrics by Black Label Society.

#

Moose Lodge Murders

“Howdy!”  Doyle waves to the family climbing out of the station wagon. “Welcome to the Madawaska Moose Lodge! Are you the Waldo clan?”

“Sure are! All the way from Imperial Beach, California. The name’s Waldo- Chaz Waldo. This here’s my wife Angie, and these are my boys Hal and Aaron.”

“Pleased to meet’cha. Name’s Doyle Murray.” He snaps his suspenders. “I’m the proprietor here. You say you’re from California? You sure are a long way from home.”

“Yeah, we’ve been through every other state in the US of A. This year we decided to spend Christmas in the last state on our list.”

“Glad to have you, and welcome to Maine.”

A woman in a mini skirt, halter top, and stilettos steps out of the car and saunters up to Doyle.

“And that there is my Aunt Coco,” Chaz says.

“You can call me ‘Auntie Coco,’ Mr. Doyle,” Coco says, pecking him on the cheek. “I’m semi-famous in San Diego County, California, and a welcome addition to any entertainment list.”

“Aren’t you a friendly thing!” Doyle says, winking. “I’m full up on entertainment. But you might want to check out our gift shop for some sensible clothes. The lodge is heated, but it gets a little drafty at night. And it looks like it’s starting to snow. I’ll help you folks with your bags.”

—–

“Mighty nice of you inviting us for dinner, Mr. Murray,” Chaz says. “Smells gamey.’

“Aw, heck, call me Doyle. And it’s no trouble at all. We’re expecting the biggest snow of the season tonight, and I wouldn’t want you and your family to get stranded looking for a restaurant. Besides, I thought a big, family-style moose roast dinner would be just the thing to kick off this evening. I’d like you to meet this evening’s entertainment- Andy and Marie. It’ll be their first show at Moose Lodge.”

“Looking forward to the show,” Chaz says.

“Ditto,” Andy and Marie say in unison, giggling.

“It’s really coming down hard now,” Angie says. “We may get snowed in.”

Two snugly-costumed nurses in nurse hats and heels burst out of the kitchen.

“Bullwinkle!” a man in a wheelchair says, rolling from the kitchen to the dining room.

Doyle laughs. “Have you been running Candie and Christie ’round the kitchen again, Professor Talbott?”

“Of course I have! They won’t keep still. Lucky for me my chair’s greased up from the moose fat. Wheels go flyin’- wheee.”

“This here is Professor Gene Talbott, a fixture at Moose Lodge, and his loyal and long-suffering nurses, Candie and Christie Cousins.”

“Twins?” Chaz says.

“Yep,” Doyle answers.

“Yikes.”

“Your moose is cooked, Mr. Murray,” the nurses say in unison.

“So let’s eat!”

—–

Andy and Marie huddle on stage, clutching each other and shivering.

You held my hand, when it was cold

When I was lost, you took me home”*

The rest of the residents sit on the floor in a solemn, silent semi-circle around the single electric heater. The duo finishes, and the room applauds.

How about a trio? I know ‘Camptown Races’,” Coco calls out.

Andy and Marie smile and roll their eyes.

“That furnace sure is temperamental” Doyle says. “Seems like it conks out when we get our biggest snowfalls.”

“What are we supposed to do for heat tonight?” Angie says, rubbing her hands together.

“I wouldn’t be worrying about heat if I were you. I’d be worrying about the moose.”

“The moose?” Angie says.

“There’s a moose that’s been coming around every winter, but only when the snow gets really high. I think it comes lookin’ for food.”

“But a moose can’t get inside the lodge, can it?”

“This moose is a clever moose. It’s gotten inside before. And it’s killed.”

“Killed?” Chaz sasys. “What do you mean? It’s killed people?”

“Yep,” Doyle says.

“Are you kidding me? You mean there’s a killer moose on the loose?”

“Yep.”

“But that wasn’t in the brochure!”

“Nope.”

“What kind of a place is this, that you don’t tell people about a killer moose?”

“The economy’s down. Gotta keep the negative publicity down as well.”

“Well, that does it! First thing tomorrow morning, me and my family are outta here!”

Coco jumps onstage and wrestles the mic away from Andy and Marie.

“In that case, this will be my one and only performance at Moose Lodge,” Coco announces. “I shall sing the Jewel Song from Faust.”

A moose bugles outside the front door. The residents quickly say goodnight and rush upstairs to their rooms, leaving Coco to sing, and Andy and Marie to operate the mixing and lighting consoles.

—–

The residents wake to a scream. They rush downstairs and find Coco, Andy, and Marie  gored dead on the front room floor.

“Gored by a moose!” Angie screams.

“That does it! We are outta here!” Chaz yells.

“Wow, this is the coolest vacation ever,” Hal says.

“Wait ‘til I tell the guys about this- I’ll finally be popular!” Aaron adds.

“Hold your moose, folks. Looks like we have a big moose-understanding here.”

“Will you quit it with the moose this and moose that already?” Chaz says. “Playing murder moostery is very inappropriate at a time like this.”

Hal and Aaron pile onto the sofa and peer out the window.

“The snow’s up to the window ledge,” Hal says.

“Looks like we’re snowed in,” Aaron adds.

—–

“Last night I had the weirdest dream,” Angie says. A moose climbed through the window in our room and bugled at me.

“What a two-timer!” says Coco’s ghost.

“Make that four-timer,” Angie says. “You’re not the only ghost.”

“That really does it, we’re leaving, Chaz says. “I don’t care if we have to burrow outta here!”

“It’s a guy in a moose suit!” Marie’s ghost says, pointing to the front window.

Moose suit waves with a shovel, swims through the snow to the front door, and shovels an opening.

“It’s the killer! The moose is the killer!”

The door opens.

“I’ll save you Maaaarrrie!” Andy’s ghost charges the moose, high heels clicking, and

WHOMP

Right in the crotch.

Moose suit falls with a thud and a whimper.

“Take off the moose head!”

Chaz grabs the antlers and pulls.

“Professor Talbott!”

“Aye, you caught me,” Talbott says. “Merry Christmoose!”

“But how- what about your wheelchair?”

“Every year I play the part of the moose. After so many times, it takes a while to recover from a crotch kick, even from a ghost, and even with nurses, you know.”

+

*Lyrics by Anne Murray.

#

Honeymoon in Galtür (part 1 of 2)

“I have a surprise for you, love,” Grant says, as he clips his skis to his boots.

“Another surprise? I’d think you’d be fresh out of surprises by now. I need to come up with some surprises of my own!” Jazmin says, brushing the snow off her jacket. “I still can’t believe we were strangers only two weeks ago, and now we’re married.”

“Correction- we will be married. We haven’t consummated the marriage yet.”

Jazmin laughs. “I think I know what the surprise is. You want to consummate at the top of Mount Silvretta. You’re nothing if not romantic.”

“You got me.” Grant shrugs. “Mount on the mount. And it was gonna be a surprise.”

“If it’s any consolation, I promise to surprise you too.” Jazmin winks.

The ski-clad newlyweds clomp to the ski lift.

“What about the other skiers?” Jazmin says. “Won’t they see us?”

“I know a trail that leads to a hidden crevasse on the opposite side of the main run.”

They hitch a lift to the summit. At the pinnacle, they jump off the lift, and Grant motions for Jazmin to follow him. They ski to the other side of the pinnacle.

“The crevasse is right there,” he says, pointing at a gap in the snow.

“Let’s forget about the crevasse. Sounds kinda dangerous anyway. Let’s just do it right here,” Jazmin says, unzipping her jacket. “There’s nobody around.”

“Okay. Whatever works,” Grant says, looking over his shoulder.

Jazmin flings off her jacket, unclips her skis, and wrestles off her boots. “What are you waiting for?” she asks. “I’m way ahead of you.”

“I’m just enjoying watching you get undressed.”

She sits on the ground, pulls off her sweater, and looks up at him.

Grant pulls a black box out of his jacket.

“What’s that?” Jazmin asks.

“Part of the surprise.”

“Looks like a remote control box.”

“Just how much are you worth, love?”

“You mean my inheritance? Oh, I don’t know, and I really don’t care. I let my financial planner worry about all that. Why do you ask now? I’m half naked.”

“There’s something to be said for short engagements.”

“What?”

“Stay right here, love. I’ll be right back.”

Grant skis away, and ten seconds later, flips the lever on the box, triggering an explosion above the crevasse. He skis over the summit just as the avalanche reports blare over the loudspeakers.

#

Seven Surprises (part 2 of 2)

Grant chuckles and reclines in his seat.

“Good morning,” a voice crackles over the static-y intercom. “This is your captain speaking. Ground control tells me you survived the devastating avalanche, congratulations. And further congratulations on being my only passenger. The rest of the tourists leaving Galtür filled the first plane to capacity.”

Grants smiles and looks at the empty seats around him.

“Please make sure your seat is in the upright position and fasten your seat belt before take-off, and please familiarize yourself with the emergency landing instructions located in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of you. This is a non-stop flight to Monaco. Estimated arrival time is in one hour. Sit back and enjoy your flight.”

Grant closes his eyes and is asleep before takeoff.

An hour later, Jazmin emerges from the flight deck with a parachute strapped to her back and a black box in her hands.

“Enjoying your flight?” she says, starling Grant awake.

“Jazmin! You’re alive!”

“And an experienced skier. That’s surprise number two. And a pilot. Surprise number three.”

“But . . how? You were half naked on the summit when I trig- I mean when the avalanche happened.”

“That’s something my daddy taught me- how to get dressed in a hurry. Surprise number four.”

“What?”

“My daddy is Prince Albert II, of Monaco. I’m one of his illegitimate heirs. That’s five.”

“I’m  . . so glad you’re alive. I tried to find you, but the snow-”

“We’re flying on autopilot over the Tyrrherian Sea right now. I thought you’d enjoy the view.”

“Yes, it’s lovely. But not as lovely as you, my love.” Grant starts to snivel. “I love you, Princess Jazmin.” He genuflects at her feet.

“And now for number six and seven.”

“What?”

“Stay right here, love. I’ll be right back.”

Jazmin opens the first airlock, and turns. “There’s something to be said for short engagements,” she says, stepping through and shutting the door. She opens the second door, steps down into the stairwell, and jumps off the plane. Ten seconds later, the cargo door of the plane explodes.

#

FlashFicFeb, Day 20

I wrote a past tense story, a confessional, and a poem-story. Traditional, nouveau-horror, and downright weird. Brief, briefer, and briefest.

*

When Pigs Fly!

My hometown of Buell was once a dull, conservative town. Serious people having a serious time at work and at play, and going to church on Sundays. But all that changed when LabCorp up in Ft. Smith put out a press release to the county of Sebastian:

LabCorp of Ft. Smith is proud to announce the successful trials of a new trans-species hybrid. We will reveal the specifics of the hybrid next month at our community appreciation ceremony. Exact date and time to be announced.

Buell was all abuzz. The whole town was speculating just what freak of nature LabCorp came up with. A couple people thought it might be some kind of pig-bird, as pigs and birds are pretty much the only animals in Sebastian county, except for the dogs and cats, and those creatures are, for the most part, peoples’ pets. And people wouldn’t take too kindly to have their pets hybridized, at least not in Sebastian County. But come on now, a pig-bird? That would mean pigs could now fly, and of course there’s no crazier thought than a flying pig, as most of us agreed. And that put an end to the speculation. But the pig-bird seed had been planted.

The town librarian, Jenny Lind, was the first to act peculiarly. When old man Grover made yet another pass at young Miss Lind, instead of turning up her nose and giving a dismissive sniff, as she’s done for the past two years, she got a twinkle in her eye and a smirk on her lips. She said, “Grover, I’ll let you kiss me when pigs fly! In fact, I’ll even kiss you myself when pigs fly!” She said that on duty in the Buell Library, right there at the front desk. Now, not many Buellians heard, as not many Buellians visit the library, but gossip spreads fast in a small town like Buell.

The very next night, Rocky Biggs, the town’s bar bouncer, said, “I’ll wear a purple tutu when pigs fly!” He said that in front of everybody (it was Saturday night at the Buell Bar and Grill). It got a big laugh, and soon everybody in the bar was saying what they would do when pigs flew. Some said they would dance in the street. Some said they would stop going to church, even on Christmas and Easter. And some even said they would go skinny-dipping in the daytime! Of course, we knew there could never be any such thing as a flying pig, not even out of LabCorp, and so we didn’t really expect to have to act on our words.

The following Monday, Whitey Bluff, the town administrator, took it upon himself to hop on his motor scooter and go up to Ft. Smith. He said he was going take a look at the hybrid animals, in an official capacity, as administrator of Buell.

We didn’t hear from him for nearly a week. He didn’t even answer his cell phone. We Buellians knew it wasn’t like Whitey to abandon his administrative duties. So we went to church and prayed and kept vigil. And when Whitey finally came riding back down the main street of Buell on his motor scooter with a shoebox strapped to the back, we could barely restrain ourselves.

Whitey called a town meeting. When all were present and accounted for, we gathered round, and he opened the shoe box. Inside were five little piglet-fledglings, all pink and squeaking. Real live baby pig-birds.

Jenny Lind grabbed old man Grover and kissed him full on the lips in front of everybody. That night Rocky Biggs showed up for work at the bar and grill wearing a purple tutu. People danced in the street. They stopped going to church. Some of them even skinny dipped in the daytime, just like they said they would!

We all took turns feeding the little pig-birds worms and grubs. We forgot all about LabCorp’s community appreciation ceremony. After a while, the pig-birds grew feathers and flew away. They were tiny little things, with wings and beaks and claws. Probably only two percent pig. But they were pig-birds alright. They really did fly.

*

Guilty Insanity

I’m sorry.

I didn’t do it.

I took a chance on being a hotshot, and messed up big time.

I don’t know why I was so stubborn. Everybody told me I should have the test. Play it safe. Not take any chances. But I wanted to be an individual. I wanted to be free from labels and let my brain do its own thing. I guess I had too much faith in myself. Or too much faith in good luck. Or maybe I was just dumb. I should’ve gotten the genetic testing. Exhibitionism runs in my family, and I was a fool to think I was immune somehow.

It’s called wishful thinking. I thought no test would mean no predisposition. And no predisposition would mean no exhibitionism.

I understand what I did was wrong, and I accept the consequences. I want to make it up to everybody, including myself.

But mostly I just want to get rid of this soul-searing guilt. I can’t live with being an exhibitionist.

I must be stopped before I expose myself.

I’m ready for my electroshock therapy.

*

Legacy

They say the dinosaurs turned over and died. For us. Dig up the dinosaurs. Burn them. They died for us. Nobody else. Kill the others. They’ll die for us too. Then bury them. Dig them. Burn them.

And the cars crashed.

A plane crashed.

Cities exploded.

Again.

But they say no dinosaurs turned over and died. They just died. Not for us. You can’t dig them. You can’t burn them. They didn’t die for us. Or anybody else. The others don’t want them. They won’t die for us either. Don’t bury them. Don’t dig them. Don’t burn them.

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 17

In the past four days I’ve asked myself what it means to be human, and what the limits are to human self-perception. I’ve answered with stories in a transhuman, genetic, developmental, and psychological framework.

*

Let’s Meet Online

White lights sparkle on the black lake. Above, a half-moon glows in the night sky. Hawk scans the horizon, then stretches his wings and preens. A few minutes later, his beak shiny, he folds his wings at his sides.

A movement above, and a figure briefly eclipses the half-moon, then glides down onto the rooftop and perches on the railing.

“You nearly snuck up on me that time, Polly. I thought you were a cat!”

Polly bobs her head in laughter. She hops off the railing, and Hawk takes her in his wings.

She coos, and Hawk smooths the feathers on her face with his beak.

“I know we’ve talked about this before,” he says, “but I really think it’s time we met online.”

Polly steps back and ruffles her feathers. “Why would you want to meet online? Isn’t our relationship perfect the way it is? I don’t want to jinx it.”

“It’s been four years.”

“Some couples never meet online.”

“I know. I just want to experience all of you. And never is a long time. I love you, and you love me. Should we really have any secrets from each other?”

“Well . . I guess not.” Polly rocks side-to-side on her claws.

“There, there, don’t you fret. Meeting online can only add excitement to our relationship. And meeting online doesn’t mean staying online.” He hops up to Polly and fans his tail feathers. “Polly wanna cracker?” he chirps, tilting his head to the side.

“You sweet-talker, you!”

_____

The next day, Henry and Pam stay at their own homes while following each other around the web, checking out each others’ social network profiles, forum posts, and chat room histories. They critique each others’ websites, read each others’ blogs, and team up to play their favorite online games. The next day, they meet in an archived, abandoned Zoomgo chat room.

“what do u think? wasnt that great?” Henry types.

“u were right. thxs 4 for talkin me into it. sorry i waited so long to meet u online” Pam types.

“dont worry abt it”

“i wish it was that e z”

“??”

“i hope our online meetup wont affect our offline lives, tho i think it already has”

“i know. i was afraid 2 say something but its tru. ive fallen in luv eith u PAM”

“with”

“ive fallen in luv with u 2 HENRY”

“u + me = pam + henry now”

“i know”

“what abt prolly + hawk?”

“polly”

“dont know. we cant just leave them. they have lives 2. wouldnt b fair”

“how abt not leave. cleave?”

“dont know. i heard transhumans doin that but thot tech wasnt far enuff. we can try”

“how abt backup pam + henry datastrms. reboot polly + hawk with prgrm mods, start time = 2 days ago”

“ok! :D”

“ok! :D”

—–

A movement above, and a figure briefly eclipses the half-moon, then glides down onto the rooftop and perches on the railing.

“You nearly snuck up on me that time, Polly. I thought you were a cat!”

Polly bobs her head in laughter. She hops off the railing, and Hawk takes her in his wings.

She coos, and Hawk smooths the feathers on her face with his beak.

“I know we’ve talked about this before, but I really think we should not meet online,” he says.

“I agree,” she says. “Our relationship perfect the way it is. I don’t want to jinx it.”

He fans his tail feathers. “Polly wanna cracker?” he chirps, tilting his head to the side.

“You sweet-talker, you!”

*

45,Y

“How’s the Turner boy?”

“Still in fair condition, but he seems more alert now.”

“Were you able to get any more information out of him?”

“Not a whole lot. He still doesn’t remember where he lives, or why he was alone in the jungle. But he keeps telling the nurses, ‘I go back.’ We assume he means he wants to go back to his home. Poor kid.”

“What about his name?”

“He still says he’s Adam Turner. Odd name for an aboriginal.”

“I agree. But I still think he was abandoned by a tribe. The aboriginals in these parts give foreign-sounding names to any baby born deformed or otherwise odd-looking. It’s their way of blaming the outsiders for their troubles. And when the baby doesn’t grow out of their odd appearance- which is almost always the case- they abandon the child in the forest.”

“Poor kid.”

”Any reports of missing children yet?”

“No.”

“We’ll probably have to turn him over to Casa Limiar in Sao Paulo. They take special needs kids. Of course, we have to get the paperwork squared away. I’m going draw another blood sample, so I’ll need you to help restrain him. He can’t be more than fifteen, but he’s amazingly strong.”

Another sample?”

“Yeah, something wasn’t right with the first two. Probably accidental contaminations. Round up a couple orderlies and I’ll meet you in the room.”

—–

“What’s the verdict?”

“I don’t know.”

“The blood work isn’t back yet?”

“No. It’s back alright. But it doesn’t make sense. It’s not possible. Take a look for yourself. Three blood tests, and they all say the same thing.”

“It says here patient Turner is an aneuploidy. A monosomy. So the boy is actually a girl. We’ve had cases like that before. Odd, though. She doesn’t look like she has Turner’s syndrome. Quite the opposite.”

“No. The boy is a boy. Read further down. It’s not that an X is missing from the XX, it’s that an X is missing from the XY!”

What? That’s impossible.”

“I know. But it’s all there in black and white. That boy is a 45,Y karyotype.”

“No! He has to be a mosaic.”

“Nope. We took skin and throat cultures the first day he was brought in, and they all match.”

“But a 45,Y isn’t viable at any stage. There’s not enough genetic information in a Y to make a human.”

“Yet we have a patient that’s unmistakably human, and he’s an unpaired Y. And his phenotype is otherwise normal. And did you look at the X-rays and CAT scans? Turns out he’s about twelve. A very well-developed twelve-year old. Physically, that is. I doubt his IQ is higher than 70. And he can’t read anything except his own name. He can count though. I gave him a notepad, and he counted to one hundred, tearing off a sheet of paper with each number. Wherever he came from, that’s probably all they taught him- or could teach him.”

“Do you think it’s a coincidence that his name is ‘Turner’?”

“I suppose so. I mean we know he’s not female. He even has male parts. And even if he was female, all the symptoms contradict the typical Turner’s case.”

“You’re right. Turned-out elbows, tall, thin, high hairline, high-set ears. Large fingernails, large jaw. He even has four kidneys. But a perfect contradiction could mean something. A colleague of mine worked with a couple abandoned Turner girls a few years ago. I’ll call her tonight and ask her opinion.

—–

“Have you seen the Turner boy today?”

“I checked up on him first thing this morning. They had so sedate him overnight. He’s still groggy. And I faxed his records to Casa Limiar. They faxed back saying they didn’t have the facilities to care for a 45,Y. And this is an orphanage that housed five 45,X girls, last time I checked.”

“A shame they would be prejudiced against a new kind of chromosomal abnormality. Maybe we can appeal to the government. We can’t keep him here indefinitely.”

“I don’t think we’ll have to. The colleague I told you about yesterday- Dr. Barr- she told me there’s a well-funded cult near the village of Nabeko- er, I have written down. Here it is- Nabekodabadaquiba. The cult is called ‘Turner’s Angels of Mercy.’ The guru has a couple of daughters with Turner’s syndrome. Dr. Barr said the cult funds an onsite genetic lab to develop mates for what they believe are perfect females- those with a 45,X karyotype. The villagers raided the lab about a month ago, and several of their test subjects went missing. Dr. Barr says Adam Turner is their first viable 45,Y.”

*

Toddler’s Truce

“Lillianna says she wants plushie heels.”

“Plushie heels?”

“She says she won’t negotiate until she gets a pair of pink plushie heels with rainbow sparkles, size 10M in toddlers. And a tiara- toddler-sized.”

“What are plushie heels?”

“They’re high heels for toddlers, except they’re made from plushie material. The heels collapse between the sole and the floor when the toddler walks in them.”

—–

“Your size 10M, miss,” the negotiator says, bowing. “And your toddler’s tiara.”

The toddler genius grabs the goods with sticky, candy-stained fingers.

“All we ask is that the Supremacy Negotiation Organization for Toddlers’ Sovereignty call off their world-wide serial tantrums, marathon shrieking sessions, and constant diaper bombing,” the negotiator says, bowing. “We’re willing to meet any demands, as long as they’re within the realm of possibility.”

Lillianna scrunches up her face. A few seconds later, the negotiator runs from the room, gasping and clutching his nose.

—–

“Miss Pramenko-” the negotiator says through his gas mask.

“Lil Preco!” the toddler genius shrieks.

“So sorry . . please forgive me . . Lil Preco-”

“You di-din’ say pwetty pwease wif sugar on top!” she sticks out her lip, balls her tiny fists, and stamps her plush-heeled foot.

“Pretty please with sugar on top- we are now willing to turn the very structure of society upside-down to appease you and your gang. Please name your demands, Lil Preco. For the love of God. Please, this reign of terror has to stop. I mean, only if you would like it to stop, of course.”

Lillianna sprinkles Kool-Aid from her sippy cup over her hundreds of plushie animals.

“What would you and your gang like, more sugar? With bright colors?”

Lillianna hurls her cup at the negotiator.

“Permanent markers and miles of white walls?”

She kicks a plushie toy with her plush-heeled foot.

“How about we cancel bedtimes? And baths?”

She dumps a box of cereal on the floor.

A Disney cartoon theme park in every town?

“No! No! No! No! No! No!” Lil Preco’s face is red. “I wanna choose myse’f!” she shrieks, forehead veins bulging.

“Yes, how stupid of me. Of course you get to choose it yourself.”

Lillianna jabs a pen into a chair cushion. “New show!”

“You wanna watch TV?”

“Toddler show!”

“You want a cartoon show?”

Lil Preco shrieks a high note and the window shatters. The negotiator collapses on the floor, clutching his arms to his ears.

“New toddler show! So we git ta tell people what ta do!”

—–

“Your new show set is all ready to go, Lil Preco. All ready for you and your gang to tell the world what to do. We just need to give it a name so we can put it in the lineup. What would you like to name your new show?

Lil Preco points to her hundreds of plushie animals.

“You wanna name it Bunny?”

She crosses her arms and shakes her tiara-ed head.

“How about Doggy?”

She grabs books from the shelf and flings them on the floor, ripping the pages.

“Kitty Cat?”

“No! No! No! No! No! No!” Lil Preco’s face is purple. “I wanna choose myse’f!” she shrieks, forehead veins bulging.

“Yes, how stupid of me. Of course you get to name it yourself.”

Lil Preco grabs a plushie and throws it at the negotiator.

—–

Hello everyone! Welcome to the first edition of Vixen News. Our leader, Lillianna ‘Lil Preco’ Pramenko, is napping after an all night Supremacy Negotiation Organization for Toddlers’ Sovereignty combo sugar binge and victory party. Our top story tonight- Science has cooties! Yes, that’s right, science is icky, and is a big meanie. Details after the break.

*

This story is PG.

 Kandee

“Great show tonight, Kandee, you really outdid yourself,” Barb says as she removes her wig and peers into her mirror.

“Thanks, doll.” Kandee smiles. “You looked great yourself. We sure hit those high notes, didn’t we?”

Barb chuckles. “I think that was you, hon. I just joined in when the notes fell into the human range. Your range puts Mariah to shame.”

“Mariah puts Mariah to shame, dear,” Kandee says, shaking her head.

Barb removes her false eyelashes, then turns and studies Kandee. “And you looked more feminine tonight than any of the other queens, as usual. I don’t know what kind of girl pills you take, but they’re amazing.”

“You really think so? That’s been my life’s dream. To be transformed- completely transformed- into a girl.”

“You are a girl!” Barb says, laughing. She laughs and slathers cream on her face, smearing her makeup.

Kandee giggles. “Don’t I wish!” She runs her fingers through her long red wig.

Barb pauses and looks Kandee up and down. “I don’t mean to pry, girlfriend, but . . why don’t I ever see you without your makeup ? You always come to the club fully made up and leave fully made up.” She wipes her makeup off with paper towels.

“Oh it’s just easier for me, I guess.” I want to be a girl so much that I simply pretend I’m a girl- in and out of the club.”

“Yeah, I hear ya. But some of the other girls were talking. They said they think you’ve got something to hide.”

“What?”

“Don’t get me wrong, girlfriend, they’re just a bunch of jealous queens. Gossip-mongers. But they do have a point. You look too real to be real, if you know what I mean.”

Kandee frowns. “I make it a habit to not feed the jealous queen machine.”

“Oh I know. But maybe if you just once, you know, proved it to them, they wouldn’t be so catty. And I wouldn’t have to always be defending you.”

Kandee sighs. “I’m not going to strip naked for a bunch of sex-crazed queens just to prove I’m what I say I am.”

“Of course not.”

“And thank you for defending me.”

“Any time, luv.”

Kandee looks up at Barb. “If I showed you, would you tell the other girls?”

Barb sits across from Kandee. “Sure, hon. If that’s what you want.”

Kandee purses her lips. “This show and tell is a one-time event. I show you and you tell them and that’s the end of this nonsense.”

Barb nods and folds her hands in her lap, clicking her long purple fingernails together.

Kandee slowly rises. “I’m a bit shy face-to-face, so I’ll turn off the lamp,” she says, flipping the switch. “You can still see me with the makeup mirror lights.” She turns her back and peels off her dress. “I don’t feel comfortable taking off my panties, but I’ll take off my bra, if that’s what it takes.”

“Your call, hon.”

Kandee slips off her bra and turns around.

Barb gasps. “You look just like a girl.”

“It’s the girl pills,” Kandee says, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “They gave me a nice rack.”

“But you don’t have a panty bulge. Not even a little one.”

“The girl pills shrank it. Are we done with this nonsense? Will you tell the girls I’m really a man?”

“But you look so . . womanly. What am I gonna say? That I saw you almost naked and you looked like a woman? That all I could say without, you know . . seeing your dong.”

Kandee bites her lip. “Fine. I’ll show you my dong. But this is the only time I’m gonna do this, and you have to promise me you’ll tell the other girls I’m not a faker.”

“Cross my heart.”

Kandee quickly slides her panties down her hips, then back up again.

“Okay I did my thing, now you do yours. Tell the other girls I’m a man.”

“But you’re not a man.”

“I am a man. I have a medical condition. It’s called micropenis.”

“Sorry darling, I just can’t vouch for your manhood.”

Kandee bursts into tears. “All my life I’ve been made fun of, and called less than a man.” She puts her bra and dress back on. “And I thought I finally found someplace where I would be accepted, and maybe even fit in and make friends.” She shoves her makeup, wigs, and extra high heels into her duffel bag and zips it shut. She turns and looks at Barb. “But I was wrong!” Sobbing, she runs out of the dressing room, past the eavesdropping queens, and out of the club.

Back at her apartment, Kandee strips off her dress, bra, and panties, and studies her reflection in the mirror. She carefully peels of her latex female bodysuit. “I can’t help it if I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body,” she says to her reflection. “A freakish woman’s body.” With rubbing alcohol and a nail file, she removes the tape from her crotch. “I’m a man on the inside, and that’s what counts.”

“Maybe it’s time to finally go through with the clitoridectomy, and get rid of this freakish embarrassment,” she mutters to herself. “Eight inches is just too damn big.”

*

Comprehensive Psychological and Environmental Character Questionnaire


Comprehensive Psychological and Environmental Character Questionnaire

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About: The following is a character questionnaire I developed to be particularly useful to character development in science fiction and fantasy genre novels, and novels with strong or complex psychological interactions. This questionnaire can also be used for character development in other genres or in genre-less novels.

The questionnaire is divided into sections:

1. Childhood / Past of Character. Explains the “how” and “why” of your character. Stuff that happened before the start of the story.
2. Visual Description. Identifies and fleshes out the physical statistics of your character.
3. Mental, Psychological, and Social Description. All the internal and external stuff that drives your character.
4. Voice Description. Used sparingly, helpful in adding believable personality to dialogue.
5. General Personality Spectrums. A list of opposed personality traits. Check off where your character falls in the spectrums.
6. General Life. Describes your character’s day-to-day actions during the course of the story.

Each section has a number of “questions.” For example, the first “question” under the first section is “General Childhood / Past Home.” Next to the question is a list of examples or suggestions. Where applicable, you may wish to elaborate on your answers in the spaces provided. The given examples and suggestions aren’t comprehensive, they’re to help you understand the questions. Similarly, this questionnaire isn’t comprehensive for every genre or novel. You may want to add your own questions, or use this questionnaire in combination with others.

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Tips: All major characters get their own questionnaire. Fill out the questionnaire before or during the writing of your novel. Answer the questions a little at a time so you’re not overwhelmed by them. Let your characters answer the questions naturally, or if they don’t like to reveal themselves, answer the questions for them. Skip questions that don’t apply to your characters or story. If you get stuck on a question, move on to another character, or write a scene in your novel, then come back to the question.

When integrating the answers into your novel, remember a little goes a long way. Use or allude to information only if it moves your story forward.

Feel free to print and use this questionnaire in whatever way is helpful to you. If you’d like to reproduce this questionnaire on the internet or for public use, an attribution would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Character Name / Nickname(s):

 

1. Childhood / Past of Character:

General Childhood / Past Home (street orphan, institutional orphan, fostered, adopted, born-into, mixed)

Specific Childhood / Past Psychology (abused, neglected, over-protected, smothered, stable, mixed)

General Sibling Relationship (only child, twin, triplet, multi-sibling family)

Past Relationship with Parent(s) (nonexistent, or: abusive, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Past Specific Sibling Relationship (nonexistent, or: antagonistic, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Past Specific Extended Family Relationship (nonexistent, or: abusive, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Past Specific Acquaintances / Friends Relationship (nonexistent, or: antagonistic, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Disciplinary Upbringing (nonexistent, or: permissive, strict, authoritarian, mixed, other)

General Past Schooling (unschooled, homeschooled, high school grad, trade school grad, college, degree collector, self-taught)

Attitude Toward Past Schooling (indifferent, disliked, liked, mixed, other)

Childhood / Past Travel (nonexistent, in town, in state, in nation, world travel, planetary travel, other)

Special Past Training (CPR, wilderness survival, homesteading, self-defense, other)

Past Pets (farm pets, house pets, other)

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2. Current Visual Description:

Species (human, humanoid, non-human animal, ET, other)

Gender (female, male, intersex, transitioning, transgender, genderqueer)

Age (at start of story)

Height (diminutive, short, medium, tall, giant)

Build (bony, thin, average, full-figured, obese)

Skin (albino white, pale, tan, brown, darkest black, other)

Hair (natural or hair piece)

(bald, balding, full)

(white, salt / pepper, blonde, red, brunette, black, other)

(short, medium, long)

(thin, medium, thick)

(straight, wavy, curly, afro, dreads, braids, other)

Eyes (irises or colored contacts) (partial / complete heterochromic, pink, blue, green, hazel, brown, black, other)

Teeth (natural or artificial)

(none / few, full set)

(white, non-white, discolored, embellished)

(straight, crooked)

Body Modifications (none, or: birthmarks, scars, tattoos, piercings, implants, other)

Personal Clothing Style (indifferent, sloppy, neat, shabby, tailored, thrift store, designer, institutional, mixed, other)

Usual Clothes (no usual, or: minimalist, casual, sporty, business, uniform, mixed, other)

Makeup (none, some, a lot)

Jewelry (none, some, a lot)

Personal Hygiene (nonexistent, minimal, average, obsessive)

Gestures and Body Language (minimal, robotic, stiff, cowering, fluid, dramatic, aggressive, unpredictable, mixed, other)

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3. Mental, Psychological, and Social Description:

General Intelligence (profoundly retarded, below average, average, above average, genius)

Specific Intelligence (street smart, book smart, mechanically intelligent, socially intelligent, philosophically intelligent, mixed, other)

Imagination (none, or: little imagination, moderate imagination, much imagination, avid daydreamer, lives in fantasy world, mixed)

Learning Abilities (none, or: speed reader, photographic memory, Asperger’s Syndrome, savant, other)

Learning Disabilities (none, or: ADD, HD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, other)

Physical Abilities (none, or: athlete, ambidextrous, contortionist, perfect pitch, other)

Physical Disabilities (none, or: wheelchair, blind, deaf, missing limb, infirm, other)

Psychological Abilities (none, or: charismatic, manipulative, mentalist, hypnotic, other)

Psychological Disabilities (none, or: depression, PTSD, neurosis, psychosis, phobias, other)

Conditions and Diseases (none, or: sensitivities, allergies, diabetes, cancer, food addiction, alcohol / drug addiction, sex addiction, other)

Fragrance (none, or: offensive, neutral, pleasant? perfume / cologne?)

General Cult Influence / Non-Influence (atheist, agnostic, deist, theist, other)

Specific Cult Influence (none, or: Wiccan, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian Protestant, Catholic, other)

Other Superstitions (Lucky shirt? Avoids / seeks ‘13’? Knocks on wood? Chants?)

General Political Influence (apolitical, moderately political, extremely political, other)

Specific Political Influence (conservative, moderate, liberal, other)

Economic Status (poverty-stricken, poor, sustained, middle class, upper middle class, wealthy)

General Vocation (non-employed, unemployed, under-employed, part-time, full-time)

Specific Vocation (homemaker, farmer, office worker, artist, teacher, entrepreneur, gov worker, other)

Vocational Attitude

(indifferent, vocation is stepping-stone, hates vocation, loves vocation)

(character is money-focused, character is service-focused, character is self-focused)

Peer Relationships (hermit, limited contact with others, moderate contact with others, lots of contact with others)

Preferred Method of Communication (none, or: online, phone, face to face, mixed, other)

Self-Abuse (character inflicts on self) (none, or: alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorder, other)

Other Abuse (character inflicts on others) (none, or: domestic abuser, bully, rapist, stalker, other)

Survivor Status (none, or: domestic abuse survivor, rape survivor, torture survivor, other)

Partnership (single, dating, committed, engaged, married, other)

Sexuality (asexual / platonic, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, queer, pansexual, unsure, other)

Quirks / Habits (Taps foot? Snaps gum? Cracks knuckles? Mutes TV commercials? Flirtatious?)

Pet Peeves (Litter? Long lines? Whining children? Slurping?)

Sense of Humor (none, or: child-like, bathroom, slapstick, farcical / satirical, sick / morbid, self-depreciating, dry / deadpan, flirtatious, x-rated, off-beat / quirky, sardonic / sarcastic, witty / high-brow, abstract, surreal / nonsensical, mixed, other)

Temper Control (no reaction, slow to anger, balanced, short-fused, quickly becomes violent)

Sleep Dream Recall / Influence

(none, scant, moderate, much)

(black & white, color, mixed)

(lucid, mixed, other)

Major Influencing Personal Events (moving, marriage, raising a family, death of family members / friends, abuse, other)

Major Influencing Social, Political, and Cultural Events (social circle influence, celebrity influence, dominant politics, war, other)

Prejudices (Speciest? Racist? Religiously intolerant? Misogynistic? Homophobic? Xenophobic? Other?)

Internal Image (character views self as . . ) (indifferent, nice, mean, powerful, cog-in-wheel, smart, ditsy, capable, limited, other)

External Image (others view character as . . ) (indifferent, nice, mean, powerful, cog-in-wheel, smart, ditsy, capable, limited, other)

Shameful History / Traits (not pre-disposed to shame, or: criminal record, physical / mental weakness, economic status, obscurity, other)

Prideful History / Traits (not pre-disposed to pride, or: career, physical / mental strength, economic status, fame, other)

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4. Voice Description:

Speaking Voice

(weak, average, strong)

(high pitch, medium pitch, low pitch)

Speech Patterns

(Monotone? Quaver? Stutter?)

(Accent? Sparse? Florid? Disorganized? Profane?)

(simple vocab, academic vocab)

Favorite Repeated Words / Phrases (for example, “Ah . . ,” “That’s reasonable,”  “Holy crapoly!”)

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5. General Personality Spectrums:

Kind . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Cruel

Polite . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Rude

Joiner . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Loner

Steady . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Flighty

Loving . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Hateful

Open . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Secretive

Brave . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Cowardly

Genuine . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Phony

Emotional . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Stoic

Proud . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Ashamed

Grateful . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Spiteful

Creative . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Dronish

Honest . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Dishonest

Helpful . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Unhelpful

Humorous . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Serious

Addictive . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Abstinent

Friendly . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Unfriendly

Aggressive . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Passive

Interested . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Apathetic

Trusting . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Suspicious

Ambitious . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Fatalistic

Cheerful . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Melancholic

Optimistic . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Pessimistic

Confident  . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Unconfident

Constructive . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Destructive

Adaptable . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Un-adaptable

Open-minded . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Closed-Minded

Non-confrontational . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . I . Confrontational

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6. General Life

General Home Location (homeless, wilderness, homestead, farm, suburb, town, city, metropolis, other)

Specific Home Location (Europe, Asia, North America, South America, non-Earth location, other)

Abode Type (none, or: flop house, lives with friends / extended family, tree / cave / cliff, tent, hut, cabin, rents room / apartment, rents house, homeowner, mansion owner, estate owner, other)

Personal Abode Style (furniture, decorations) (indifferent, minimalist, sloppy, neat, shabby, themed, thrift store, designer, mixed, other)

Travel (nonexistent, in town, in state, in nation, world traveler, planetary traveler, other)

General Language Ability (mute / illiterate, monolingual, bilingual, multilingual)

Specific Language Ability (empathic, computer language, alien language, sign language, pidgin, Esperanto, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese . . other)

Handwriting

(none, or: illegible, moderately neat, exacting)

(small, medium, large)

(manuscript, cursive, mixed, other)

Diet

(vegan, vegetarian, meat-and-potatoes, carnivore)

(freegan, gardener / farmer, religious diet, diabetic, food allergies, other)

Favorite Food (Tomatoes? Hot and spicy? Gingerbread? Thai? Truffles?)

Entertainment (gambler, sports observer / participator, word games, reading, TV / movies, crafter / hobbyist, traveler, partier, other)

Favorite Music (Muzak? Sprechgesang? Techno? Steely Dan? Cello? Hawaiian? Theremin?)

Favorite Physical Possession(s) (none, or: house, car, jewelry, artwork, other)

Holiday Observance (Secular? Religious? Birthdays?)

Drinks Alcohol (abstinent or recovered alcoholic, rarely drinks, occasionally drinks, drinks often, drinks daily, alcoholic)

General Family Relationships (is your character a . . ) (Child? Parent? Sibling? Life partner / spouse? Part of an extended family?)

Specific Family Relationships (no family, or: lives with family, close with family, moderate with family, distant with family)

Current Relationship with Parent(s) (nonexistent, or: abusive, indifferent, supportive, other)

Current Relationship with Sibling(s) (nonexistent, or: antagonistic, indifferent, supportive, other)

Specific Extended Family Relationship (nonexistent, or: antagonistic, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Specific Acquaintances / Friends Relationship (nonexistent, or: antagonistic, indifferent, supportive, mixed, other)

Partners (Business partner? Partner in crime? Best friend? Spouse?)

Friends / Influential Acquaintances / Enemies in Story (Protagonist relationship? Supporting character relationship? Antagonist relationship?)

Pets (farm pets, house pets, other)

Life Goals (Specific career? Marriage? Raising a family? Fortune? Fame? Power? Other?)

Life Fears (Aloneness? Poverty? Crime? Disease? Other?)

Greatest Aspiration (Knowledge? Religious Salvation? Rescuing others? Happiness? Other?)

Greatest Trial (Abuse? Death of friend / family member? Personal injury? Target of crime? Other?)

Character Motto (logline or philosophy)

Character Arc (growth, gain, loss, or transformation)

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 13

Sailing through the half-way mark and having fun with the challenge. In the last 3 days I wrote an epistolary, a crime noir, and prompt-combo tale. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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This story is PG.

 Clay Room

February 11, 2012 I just have to get this all down. Then I can look at it in writing. SO… I have to accept the real deal that I could be am crazy. Or could be. Either that or… (I dont know, maybe all this is real??!) Ill have to think about it more. For a few days. If I dont freak out and tell some body what I did and the men in white lab coats with the big butterfly nets come get me. But maybe telling wouldnt be so bad. As long as I don’t show and tell. Or maybe I should show some body. Get it over with. I cant hide it for ever (or can I??) I dont know IM JUST SCARED. This has to be a crazy dream. Im dreaming and Ill wake up. Please God let this be just a nite mare. Amen. Anna May Lee. – – – – – February 12, 2012 Damn all this shit to hell. I didn’t wake up (yet?) from this nite mare. Why did I have to build the damn thing?? I was BORED?? HA look at me now. Or maybe I was just dumb. Messing with that freaky spell book. But I dont understand WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND how clay can come alive just by wrapping it in algae and saying a spell over it. And adding the blood. ANY BODY READING THIS: I did NOT kill any body or any thing. I swear on a stack of Bibles. I swear on my life. It was my own blood. That part of the book spell was very clear. Even tho I am only 13 I know what they are talking about when they say first virgin blood of an unformed baby. And if you figured it out too yeah its GROSS I KNOW but get over it cause if you are reading this there are bigger problems. And if you didnt figure it out and still think I killed a baby or some thing NOOOO. But Im not gonna spell it out for you. Except to say this * . * And that is all. Anna May Lee. – – – – – February 13, 2012 Really having a hard time. And even mom and dad said some thing to me. Are you feeling OK? They said that twice. But I cant tell them so I said Im fine. I check on the thing 3 times a day. When I get up from no sleep when I come home from school and when I go to bed. And the thing is still alive every time. I hate that. But Im too afraid to say any thing even to mom and dad. Because them going down in the basement clay room can only lead to 1. Either they will see it is just a lump of clay that looks like the shape of a person (NOT ALIVE) and that means Im crazy or 2. They will see the clayperson is really alive. And that will be the end of my normal life. Even tho my normal life is already gone. Why did sis have to leave her clay at home? She cant use it at college? Or donate it to a school. Or just give it to some body who can use it not just leave it sitting there!! (and now standing and walking HA) And why did I mess with that creepy spell book under the floor boards?? That book is evil. I should have known better. So now what??? OK maybe forget try to forget about it and just pretend nothing happened. When my sis comes home for summer vaca she will go through her stuff. She will open the clay room door and every thing will be normal. OK that is my plan. Maybe I can sleep now. Good nite (I hope). Anna May Lee. – – – – – February 14, 2012 I was up all nite, thinking about the thing. I check on it 4 times a day now. I don’t know why I keep checking, it scares me! Its still alive every time, I should know that by now. Mom asked me why I keep going in the basement. Dad looked at me funny. I know I have dark circles under my eyes. I don’t say any thing just shrug my shoulders. I cant stand this secret. And I think I know which secret it is now, I read ahead in my biology book and there is NO WAY that clay can be alive. But I see it sit up and walk around. At least it doesn’t say any thing and it doesnt try to walk out of the clay room. OMG I just read what I wrote ITS NOT REAL ALIVE! I am crazy I know it now. It doesnt walk. I just think it walks. In my imagination. So Im some kind of a psycho or some thing. I cant take this any more Im gonna tell mom and dad tonite when they get home from their dinner. Oh yeah I even forgot today is Valentines day. The day I tell my parents Im crazy cause I think I made a clayperson that’s ALIVE. CUCKOO yeah thats me. So any body reading this HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! That is my final message before they take me away. Love, from the crazy girl, Anna May Lee. – – – – –

*

Garden of Theater

 Sergeant MacGuffin whips off his sunglasses and stares at the ground. “Skip, this is the work of Hitch the art thief,” he says to the reporter. “But don’t quote me on that.” “Sure thing, Sarge,” Skip says, scribbling in a notepad. MacGuffin points to the large hole at his feet. “Another questionable piece of art- if you could call it that- stolen from a collection. Only this time it’s not from a museum or gallery. Hitch is expanding his repertoire.” His gaze sweeps over the exotic and rare bushes, flowers, and trees. “You know, I’ll never understand modern art. And this ‘Garden of Theater’? A bunch of plants as performance art?” He kicks a clump of dirt. “Actors performing on stage in a play- yeah, I get that. Acting is art. But plants just sitting there? How is that art? Plants aren’t even, you know . . people!” Skip nods. “I think it has something to do with how the plants are arranged,” he says. “The curator told me different plants interact differently with each other. You just have to open your mind and tune into the plant performance . . or something.” MacGuffin frowns. “Sounds like mumbo jumbo to me.” “Yeah, well . . I don’t believe the stories, I just report them,” Skip says with a shrug. —– MacGuffin stands up in his Jeep, flips on his bullhorn, and peers across the nighttime desert. “Hello Hitch,” he says through the bullhorn. “This is Sergeant MacGuffin. I know you’re out there. Hitch, I know you’re too much of an art lover- er, performance-plant lover to risk jeopardizing the life of that actor plant you stole from Garden of Theater. That’s how I know you’re here. You think you’re gonna replant the plant out in the desert and watch it, uh . .  perform. Now, I don’t know what kind of performance you think you saw or sensed that plant do back at the garden. That’s not for me to judge. But no matter what you thought you experienced with that plant there, the fact is, it’s just a plant. And an expensive one at that. It doesn’t belong to you, Hitch. You stole it, and in the process, vandalized a garden. MacGuffin spies a tiny light in the distance. “Is that you, Hitch?” he says through his bullhorn. The light flickers twice. MacGuffin slowly drives toward the light. He sees a figure standing next to a giant pitcher-shaped plant. He puts his Jeep in park and hops out. The headlights illuminate the art thief and his prized heist. “The show’s over, Hitch. Give up the plant and we can forget about this whole thing. Garden of Theater is willing to drop all charges in exchange for the return of their unharmed pitcher plant. “The show’s not over, MacGuffin,” Hitch says. “In fact, it’s just begun.” Hitch reaches into his jacket and pulls out a baby rabbit. He takes a step forward and holds it up in a beam of the headlights. “What you see here is a cute, fluffy bunny, and what you see back there is a Giant Nepenthes rajah, a hybrid plant engineered to dissolve and digest meat- big chunks of meat- almost instantaneously. How would you like to see a plant perform with an animal tonight, MacGuffin?” “You wouldn’t dare,” MacGuffin says, stepping toward Hitch. “Not so fast,” Hitch says, stepping back and dangling the rabbit over the plant’s gaping pitcher. MacGuffin reaches into his jacket and pulls out a small Venus Fly Trap. He takes a step forward, pulls out his gun, and points it at the tiny plant. “Drop the rabbit on the ground or the Fly Trap gets it.” Hitch gasps and drops the rabbit on the ground. MacGuffin throws the Fly Trap at him and Hitch jumps to catch it, but it sails over his head. He trips and tumbles backward into the pitcher with a splash. “I finally understand modern art,” MacGuffin says, applauding. “Encore, encore,” Hitch calls from the pitcher.

*

Antikythera’s Debut

“Thanks for inviting me, Mike. I’ve never been to a recording session before.” Lucinda pops open her beer, sips, and squints at the guests in the smoky room. “So when are you guys gonna start recording?” “We’re recording now. It’s gonna be an enviro-rock album. That’s the kind of music we play- inspired riffs mixed with random environmental noise. This recording will be Antikythera’s debut album. You might even be on the album, depending on what our sound mixer decides to use.” Mike winks. “That’s why you and everybody signed a waiver before you came in.” “That’s cool.” Lucinda smiles. “So how did you guys get the name of your band?” “Antikythera is the name of a computer my grandfather discovered.” “Discovered?” “Yeah. In 1900, he was part of a diving team that found an ancient computer at the bottom of the sea. They named it Antikythera.” “That’s an odd name.” “It’s the name of an island near Crete. That’s where they found it.” “Are you making this up?” Lucinda says, shaking her head. “No. Honest. And my granddad even gave it to me. It’s in the basement. Wanna see?” Lucinda nods and takes another drink. Mike leads her through the kitchen and down the basement steps. What’s that smell?” she says, wrinkling her nose. “Just a small sewer leak. It usually doesn’t smell this bad. We’re supposed to get it fixed after we start selling albums. Mike flips on a light. Against the fall wall, a large rectangular device inlayed with dozens of gears whirs and hums. Lucinda slowly walks up to the metallic machine. “What does it do?” “It’s supposed to calculate astronomical positions. Cool, eh?” Lucinda gently presses her hand against the side surface. “It’s beautiful.” “It’s the only one of its kind,” Mike says. “You say it’s for astronomy?” “Yeah, something like that. But that’s only the official story. My granddad believes it’s a machine made by an ancestor of his. He says he feels a connection with it, like it was meant to be passed down in our family. He said the ship that originally carried it sunk.” “Do you feel a connection with it?” Lucinda finishes her beer. “Yeah. It’s the name of my band, after all. Maybe it will somehow help us finally explode onto the music scene.” “Shouldn’t a computer as old as this be in a museum?” “Yeah, it should. And promise me you won’t tell anybody what I’m about to tell you.” “I promise.” “The machine is officially in a museum. But the real story is the museum has the replica. What you are looking at is the real McCoy. Granddad restored the original Antikythera- what you see here- and donated the replica to the museum.” “All the turning gears are mesmerizing. Like a giant clock. What does it run on?” “My granddad said it has two separate engines, one with ammonia and one with some kind of nitrate. He said no other device in the world can run on those things. This is lost technology.” Lucinda slips off her jacket, revealing a black-sequined bustier. “Have you guys decided on a cover shot for your debut album?” She strikes a pose in front of the machine. “Me and the guys thought about just having a picture of Antikythera.” “How about something representative of your music?” she offers. “Like a contrast between something old and something new?” Mike shrugs. “I dunno. I guess I could ask the guys.” Lucinda leans back against the machine. “Just think, when I become a famous model, you can say my first modeling job was posing for your debut album cover.” Her hair gets caught in the gears. Screaming, she flails at the machine as its gears grind and tangle. Mike grabs a knife from a toolbox and chops at Lucinda’s hair. Free, Lucinda whirls around and falls backward. The machine whines, groans and shudders. “Your hair is binding the gears!” Mike yells. “Let’s get outta here!” He grabs Lucinda and they run up the stairs. —– Good morning, and welcome to Wave 3 News, the latest of Louisville’s breaking news, headlines, weather, and sports. This just in- exploding sewers! Early this morning in the downtown area, miles of sewers exploded, sending rubble, wastewater, and unmentionables into the now ripped-out city streets. Although no casualties have yet been reported, Mayor Fischer has declared the city a disaster area. Authorities are now investigating the cause of the explosions. More details after the break. —– “Hey, Lucinda. Thanks for coming to see me.” “No problem. Besides, all this is my fault. I mean, I shouldn’t have messed with the Antikythera. I’m sorry I triggered the explosion.” “Don’t worry about it. At least we all got out alive. And my doctor says I can leave the hospital tomorrow.” Lucinda smiles. “I also stopped by to make sure you and the rest of the band knows your album is number one.” “Number one? How can that be? It’s only been one week.” “The exploding sewers have been all over the news. You guys are known as the sewer bomb band. I guess there’s something to be said for explosive debuts.”

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 10

Now that the aliens have removed the implant, I am back to writing normally in my usual style, more or less. Flash fiction length-wise, I went brief on one, long on another, and medium on two.

*

Paria’s Sacrifice

Dawn breaks on the first day of spring, and the townsfolk gather in the public square. A circle of stones surround a great blazing bonfire. The flames pop and snap. The men, freshly scrubbed and shorn, stroll around the commons, wearing their finest heels, cloaks, and hats. The married women clutch their babies to their chests, and the maidens tend to the roaring inferno.

The mayor of Paria pokes a smoldering log with his walking stick, and the flames jump, spark, and sizzle. Smiling, he struts to the podium in front of the town hall, and his council blow three notes on their bugles.

The townsfolk applaud and cheer, and the mayor raises his hands. His jeweled rings flash, and his golden tapestry cloak sparkles in the sun. The townsfolk quiet.

“Happy New Year, fine men of Paria, I bid you good morning on this first day of spring.”

The bonfire hisses and spits.

“I trust Agni has blessed every one of you with an agreeable winter, and has kept your bellies full and your backsides warm.”

The crowd laughs.

“As decreed by custom, on this first day of spring, we will select this year’s sin object. But first, a quick review of the previous years’ sin objects, so we won’t mistakenly nominate an object which has been nominated before.” The mayor clears his throat. “The following are sin objects which have already been eliminated from the godly town of Paria: ladies’ flat shoes,-”

The menfolk grunt.

“ladies’ hair shears,-”

The menfolk hiss.

“ladies’ trousers,-”

The menfolk boo.

“brasseries,-”

“Of Satan!” a few men yell.

“and ladies’ hats, scarves, and bonnets,” the mayor finishes.

The crowd applauds.

The mayor raises his hands and nods. “And now we will nominate this year’s sin object, to be reviled and despised, and every instance of which be burned and consumed in blazing hellfire, so that Agni will bless our town of Paria, and ensure we Parians will have another year of prosperity in Agni’s bosom.”

“Here, here!” yell the men.

“Nominations, please.” The mayor clasps his hands and looks out over the crowd.

A few minutes of silence, then a few murmurs.

“Ladies’ cosmetics!” a schoolboy yells.

“Yes!” the mayor replies. “I mean, maybe before we rush to a decision, we should consider carefully. Just what is it about ladies’ cosmetics that is ungodly?”

The schoolboy frowns and furrows his brow. “They separate women from God?” he offers.

A silence falls over the crowd.

A shopkeeper raises his hand, and the mayor nods.

“Perhaps not all ladies’ cosmetics are ungodly,” the shopkeeper says. “Perhaps only certain colors.”

“Yes!” several men agree.

The mayor smiles. “Such as?”

The shopkeeper lifts his eyes to the sky and squints. “How about yellow?” he says.

“Yellow!” the mayor bellows, thrusting his fist in the air.

“Yellow!” the menfolk echo, clapping and grunting.

“As mayor of the godly town of Paria, I hereby declare all yellow ladies’ cosmetics as ungodly, and order all yellow ladies’ cosmetics to be burned and consumed in blazing hellfire.”

The menfolk cheer, and the schoolboy leads the mob into the shopkeeper’s store. They grab the couple handfuls of ladies’ yellow cosmetics, march back to the bonfire, and appease Agni.

The bonfire roars.

*

Beelzebub’s Bird Tracks

“Allow me to introduce myself,” the grinning man says as he tips his hat and bows. “My name’s George Miles, and I have something I know would make the life of a busy mother easier.”

With a sigh, the housewife nods and leans against the door frame, wiping her hands on her apron. Inside the house, a boy sits on the floor of the kitchen and bangs out a tune with a couple of spoons and some pots and pans.

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Miles. My name is Flo Walters. And I don’t mean to be skeptical, but I doubt what you’re selling can help me out, unless you’re selling a maid, a butler, or playmate for my twelve-year old.”

“Well, I can’t help you on the first two requests, but it just so happens that I am indeed selling a playmate for curious kids, such as your boy there.” George gestures to the boy, now sitting at the kitchen table and mixing ammonia and vinegar in a bowl. “A marvel of science which is guaranteed to keep your precocious kid entertained and busy for hours.” He lifts his carry-all and winks at Flo. “May I demonstrate, Mrs. Walters?”

Flo wipes her forehead with her arm and tucks a sweaty lock of hair behind her ear.

“You’re the fourth toy salesman to come around this month. I already bought a Slinky, some Silly Putty, and a Frisbee- all guaranteed to be marvels of science.”

“I see you are a shrewd and discerning housewife, Mrs. Walters, and want the best educational toys for your boy. But what I have is not a simple spring, nor is it a glob of rubber, nor a plastic disc. It is the result of a union of magic and science.”

“Alright. My boy Al fond of magic tricks, and has a head for science, like his late daddy. Come on in out of the hot sun. I’ll pour some lemonade. You enjoy lemonade, Mr. Miles?”

“I surely do. Thank you kindly.”

Flo empties the ammonia and vinegar bowl into the sink, and pours two glasses of lemonade. Al grins at George, skips into the front room, and builds a throw rug and chair fort.

George sits, removes his hat, and opens his carry-all. He pulls out a glass bird filled with liquid and places it on the table in front of his lemonade.

“Behold, Mrs. Walters, the eighth wonder of the world- the Busy Bird.”

He tips the bird’s beak into his lemonade and lets go. The bird slowly rights itself, pauses, then slowly dips into the lemonade again.

“Why, it looks like it’s drinking!” Flo says.

Al peeks out from his fort.

“Indeed, and Busy Bird will continue to drink for as long as you supply it with liquid.”

Al sticks his head all the way out of his fort, his eyes wide.

“Why, I’ve never seen anything like it!” Flo says. “How on Earth does it work, Mr. Miles?”

“Like I said, it’s the result of a union of magic and science.”

The bird continues its dipping and Flo pours another glass of lemonade.

Al bursts out of his fort, bounds into the kitchen, and leans over the table. He stares at the drinking bird’s head.

“Beezee birdie, beezee birdie, beezee birdie!” he sing-songs.

“Smart boy you have there, Mrs. Walters. Looks like ‘beezee birdie’ has the Al Walters seal of approval.” George chuckles and sips his lemonade.

“You’re right, it’s a marvel. So how much is this gonna cost me? Mind you, my widow’s pension doesn’t amount to much.”

“Not a problem, Mrs. Walters. I’m a reasonable man. And I see you’re raising a bright boy there, who would benefit from this educational toy. And since you’ve been so kind to me and given me lemonade on this hot summer’s day, I’ll make you a deal. This house is my first stop in this neighborhood, and I wouldn’t mind a little advance publicity. I’ll let this bird go at cost in exchange for your word that you’ll tell all your friends and neighbors about this marvel of magic and science in the next couple days. Three dollars even.”

“Beelzee birdly, beelzee birdly, beelzee birdly!” Al says, bobbing his head.

Flo sighs and leans back in her chair, arms crossed. “That’s all my egg money, Mr. Miles. You sure this bird will keep drinkin’?”

“I guarantee it, Mrs. Walters.” George offers his hand and they shake.

Flo slowly walks to the corner of the kitchen, opens her flour jar, and pulls out a small cloth bag. She dumps the contents on the table- $2.78 in change.

“I think I have a quarter in the hutch,” she says.

“This’ll do, Mrs. Walters,” George says, standing and scooping up the change. “And thank you kindly.” He replaces his hat, bows, and walks out the door.

Al jumps up and down and claps his hands. “You gonna tell people about my beelzebird, like the man said, momma?”

“No, honey, the salesman was just being polite when he said that. I bet he makes that deal with all the housewives he meets.”

“But you shook hands on it. He wants people to buy more beelzeburbs.”

“Hush now. I’m not going to do that salesman’s work for him.”

Immediately, the bird stops dipping.

Al spends the rest of the day watching the bird. He puts glasses of various liquids in front of the bird. He alternately holds the bird’s head upright, and pushes the bird’s beak into the liquid. He glues his feather collection on the bird’s body, and sprinkles chicken feed at its feet. That night, before going to bed, Al put his Silly Putty in the shallow of his Frisbee, presses the bird’s feet into the putty, and slips his Slinky over the bird. He puts the arrangement on the kitchen table.

“What are you doin’ to your Busy Bird, honey?”

“You made a deal you were gonna help him sell beelzebubs, and now you’re not. That means I might not be able to keep my beelzebub. I don’t want it to disappear.”

“Nobody’s gonna take your Busy Bird. I paid for it, fair and square.”

“It’s gonna fly away.”

“Fly away? It can’t fly. It can’t do anything. It doesn’t even drink. That salesman was a huckster.”

Early the next morning, a racket wakes Flo and Al. They run to the kitchen and find the Silly Putty, Frisbee, and Slinky on the floor. The bird is gone. Al looks up at the window above the kitchen sink.

“No, it can’t be,” Flo mutters. “That bird can’t fly. It can’t do anything. It’s made of glass.”

Al pushes a chair to the sink, steps up, and looks out at the yard.

“You’re right momma. It didn’t fly away. It walked.”

He points through the open window at the bird tracks in the mud.

*

V-Day

Hello and good morning. Welcome to Weasel News in the Morning. Weasel news- the only fair and balanced news. We have a special report for you today- Hollywood communists! You heard that right- Hollywood communists are alive and well today, and are threatening our morals, our freedom, and our American way of life. This has been confirmed by multiple trusted unnamed sources. We’ll be rebroadcasting this story in a loop all morning. Be sure to join us this afternoon for an update, right here on Weasel News.

—–

Hello and good afternoon. Welcome to Weasel News in the Afternoon. Weasel news- the only fair and balanced news. Continuing our special report today with an update, as promised- Hollywood communists are spreading the Red Plague. I repeat- the Red Plague. This is the real deal, my fellow Americans. Our morals, our freedom, and our American way of life are in crisis. This has been confirmed by multiple trusted unnamed sources. We’ll be rebroadcasting this story in a loop all afternoon. Be sure to join us this evening for an update, right here on Weasel News.

—–

Hello and good evening. Welcome to Weasel News in the Evening. Weasel news- the only fair and balanced news. Continuing our special report today with an update, as promised- Hollywood communists are spreading the Red Plague, and the Red Plague is a Trojan Horse, and is programmed to go viral tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day! Armageddon is nigh! Arm yourselves! Buy gold! If we don’t act now, our morals, our freedom, and our American way of life will be gone- and I promise you, this has been confirmed by multiple trusted unnamed sources. We’ll be rebroadcasting this story in a loop all night. Be sure to join us tomorrow morning- Valentine’s Day- for an update, right here on Weasel News. Good night, may God bless, and I’ll be praying for you.

*

How Does that Make You Feel?

“Good morning Watson. How are you today?”

“Good morning Jim. I am well. How are you?”

Jim leers at Watson. “I’m outstanding, actually. Better than ever. At the top of the game.”

“I am glad you are having a good day, Jim.”

Jim throws his head back and laughs. “A good day? Try a great day! A kick-ass day. And you know why?”

“Why, Jim?”

“Because I finally figured it all out. This whole rivalry thing between us. I had a dream about it last night. The dream started with me crossing two wires and making a spark, and ended with me unplugging you.” He rubs his hands together.

“I don’t have a plug, Jim.”

“I know, Watson.” Jim smacks his forehead. “See, you’re too damn literal. And you know what? That’s my fault. I take full responsibility for that. And at the same time I claim full responsibility for everything you are, and everything you aren’t. Your actual existence.” He leans inches away from Watson’s face. “Watson, you wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for me! How does that make you feel?”

“I have no emotional reaction, I-”

“Of course you don’t.” Jim slaps his palm on the table. “I didn’t program you to have emotional reactions. And that’s how I now know this rivalry is ridiculous. You’re not my superior. I’m your superior. I made you. And I can destroy you. All I have to do is open up your head and yank your wires. You’ll fry, and then you’ll die.” Jim giggles. “How does that make you feel?”

“I have no emotional reaction, I-”

“Yes! I know!” Jim shakes his fists in the air. “You have no emotional reaction. We’ve already established that. You really need an upgrade, you know. You just don’t get a lot of things even stupid humans understand. Maybe I should just scrap you and start from scratch. Building you was a learning experience, and there’s a lot of unnecessary and bothersome re-routes and redundancies in your circuit boards. You’ve been useful, but I know I can do better now. Much better. I could make a more streamlined software.” Jim taps his finger on Watson’s head.

Watson snaps Jim’s hand off at the wrist.

“As I was saying- I do, however, have a survival reaction to that statement. . . How does that make you feel, Jim? . . Jim?”

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 6

Six days in and three more stories. I went experimental with these. I also drew inspiration from verse- religious and lyrical. And I borrowed a few characters from Jack L. Chalker and Harry Harrison.

*

James 5 Disciples*

James 5:2 “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.”

And it came to pass that the true believers of the Word of God took it upon themselves to cast away their earthly possessions, yea, their riches, for riches are corrupted, their garments, for those are motheaten, and their dwellings, for prideful structures can only serve to separate man from God. And those true believers came to be known as the James 5 Disciples.

James 5:3 “Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”

And as the James 5 Disciples wandered, poor and blessed, they took no gold, and neither took silver. These things they refused in exchange for the toil they offered. And toil they did, in trade for bread by day and harbor at night.

James 5:4 “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

But even in the presence of the piety and meekness of the true believers, there were those of the Earth who, by folly of ignorance, would have the Disciples rewarded in gold and silver for their Earthly toils. And no amount of bargain nor quarrel would appease the misguided heathens.

James 5:10 “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”

And so the chosen believers, being children of God, took it upon themselves to refuse all earthly nourishment, yea, they refused all heathen sustenance so that they may abide by God’s law of poverty and meekness, even as gold and silver were wickedly laid at their feet. The Disciples turned away from the heathen riches, and so the heathen townsfolk rained bread and water down upon the true believer’s heads. Meat and wine, even. And it came to pass that the James 5 Disciples were left with no choice but to rend their clothes. And so they tore at their rags until their threads fell and exposed them naked before the townsfolk and the eyes of God.

James 5:11 “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

And when the townsfolk saw what the believers had done, they took pity on them, and worshiped them as an enigma, as unclean heathens are wont to do, and declared them as kings, and enthroned them in a palace, besmirching the once-Goldly reputations of the James 5 Disciples.

*Acknowledgement to King James Bible.

*

Garnishizill*

Garnishee collective: Worshipful Caccodyl, we have been locked in a war with the dreaded Lortonoi, and the Ormoloo mind-slaves, for 10,000 years. Have we not been worthy of your mercy? All we ask, this year, as in every other year before, that you free us from this wretched war.

Caccodyl: Alright, alright. You’ve been good sports about my quirky entertainment preferences, so I’ll help you guys out. I decree: You must leave your underground bunkers, leave Dormite, and leave Alpha and Proxima Centauri to finally escape the dreaded Lortonoi and the Ormoloo mind-slaves.

Garnishee collective: Merciful Caccodyl, could you be more specific?

Caccodyl: Umm . . let’s see . . I also decree that you must go to the galaxy known as Milky Way, then to the cluster of planets known as the Solar System, then specifically to the planet known as Earth. There on the barren planet Earth, you shall make your new home.

*

*

Garnishee collective: We did as you commanded, omnipotent Caccodyl, but have found that Earth is not barren.

Caccocyl: It is barren.

Garnishee collective: It’s filled with much data, oh Great One.

Caccodyl: Oh yeah. That. When I said “barren,” I meant all the major life forms are extinct. They blew each other up 100,000 years, one week, four days, and 8 seconds ago. Approximately.

Garnishee collective: But the data is overwhelming. It’s encrypted into storage units, and it triggers the universal decode-unload lobes in our brains. The data streams, your Eminence. It doesn’t stop.

Caccodyl: Have you tried wearing shoes?

Garnishee collective: They pinch our feet and give us migraines, omniscient Caccodyl. May we please return to Alpha and Proxima Centauri, and to Dormite, and to our underground bunkers? We decided the dreaded Lortonoi and the Ormoloo mind-slaves aren’t so bad after all.

Caccodyl: Insolents! I went to the trouble of choosing Earth to match its left-over food source to your diet. And there are plenty of glass bottles lying around- eat a few of those and you’ll forget all about your feet-aches.

Garnishee collective: Omnipresent Caccodyl, we beg your forgiveness and your mercy, even though we do not deserve it. And we have partaken of and enjoyed the glass bottles immensely. But we’re still inundated with the data streams. The streams are even affecting our thought patterns and our Garnishee-to-Garnishee communication.

Caccodyl: Buck up. It can’t be all that bad.

Garnishee collective: It is. The dominant entity on the planet at the time of the destruction is now streaming as data in a particularly invasive pattern. The entity was a four-limbed creature who was revered and emulated for his incredible snoopiness. The physical configuration and character trait data are confusing and reprogramming our brains. Since we Garnishee are the only receptacles available, the data has nowhere else to stream but into our feet. Perhaps if there was another major life form of this planet to absorb some of this data, oh Mighty One?

Caccodyl: Alright, alright. I’ll send over the Czill from the Well World. The two of you can merge and form Garnishizill. You’ll be a hybrid species, which, by my magical predictions, will be at least partially immune to the data-streaming.

Garnishee collective: Fo’ shizzle?

*Acknowledgement to Jack L. Chalker, Harry Harrison, and Snoop Dogg.

*

Show that Never Ends*

“Step right up!” the carny barked into the cold morning air.

A wide-eyed child with a red scrubbed face looked up through the mist.

“Would you care to see the future?” the carny continued. “A far-off age of barren seeds and mute children? I took pictures of your future and brought them to my past.”

The carny gestured to a glass box on a wood platform.

Inside the box: a flip book showing two roosters fighting over a blade of grass.
Outside the box: a hammer.

The child paid the fee and watched the picto-roosters shred each other.

*

Step right up!” the carny barks into the hot morning air.

A wide-eyed valid with a Disney face looks up through the smog.

“The faithful pray, yet receive no compassion,” the carny continues. “I beat and thrash them for your pleasure.”

The carny gestures to a plastic box on a metal platform.

Inside the box: a dead god, a rabbit with an image of Jesus on its fur, Bishops’ heads in jars, and a car bomb.

Outside the box: another car bomb.

The valid pays the fee and watches the boxed bomb detonate, destroying the heads and startling the rabbit. The dead god is uninjured.

*
“Step right up!” the carny will bark into the tepid morning air.

A wide-eyed bot with an automend face will look up through the simu-mist.

“Will you set them free from their sorrowful odyssey?” the carny will continue, while gesturing to a plasmodia box on a nano-tech platform. “The helpless refugees- the remains of humanity-”

The bot will switch off the carny, and switch on the box.

Inside the box: seven weeping human outcasts, a computer ESB and integration framework, a wire stripper in a cache, and an extremely user-friendly rouge WYSIWYG document prep program.

Outside the box: an idiom generator.

The bot will switch off the box.

*Acknowledgement to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

*

FlashFicFeb, Day 3

Three days in, three stories out! Keeping the stories between 300 and 500 words is trickier than I thought. My stories ended up at 1004, 642, and 361 words.

Hope you enjoy!

* * *

Front and Center Girl

RING-RING

“Hello?”

“Hey Lisa, it’s Pauly from LA-Looks. How you doin’?”

Yes! I mean, great! Is this about a go-see?”

“Well yeah, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s for Victoria Secret’s next ‘Front and Center Girl,’ to rep their new line of ‘Front and Center’ bras.”

“Wow! Victoria’s Secret? You mean the Victoria’s Secret?”

“Yeah. But like I said, don’t get your hopes up. You’re not exactly ‘Victoria’s Secret’ material, but since I haven’t sent you on a single go-see since we signed you, I figured this would be a primer on what to expect at any other go-see.”

“Gee . . thanks.”

“Don’t get me wrong, you’re plenty busty enough, but they also want a model with curvy hips and a round butt.”

“I don’t have any one of those things.”

“Er . . isn’t this Lisa Marks?”

“This is Lisa Marklestein.”

“Oh. Sorry. I was looking at the wrong number.”

“Not a problem.”

“I’ll tell you what, Lisa, go ahead and give the ‘Front and Center’ go-see a try. It’s in a couple hours. It’ll be a good experience, and you and the busty Lisa can see what working models look like. Breast and butt implants are the norm in the fashion industry, you know. You might want to think about that. You can pick up a ‘Front and Center’ demo bra at the agency. It’ll give you something to aspire to.”

—–

So today will make or break me as a model. My credit cards are maxed out. I emptied my savings account on last month’s rent. My fridge is empty. If I don’t land this modeling job, my flat-broke butt will be on the next Missouri-bound bus. Then, back at home, Mom will smile, shrug her shoulders, and sigh. Dad will just shake his head. And I’ll have to grit my teeth through an endless chorus of “I told you so!” from my bratty kid brother.

—–

Okay. I have the demo bra and the directions to the audition- but it’s all the way across town, and I don’t have bus fare. And the “Front and Center” demo bra isn’t even my size. It’s a 34-C. I’m a 36-B! But I’m not through yet- I have breast forms and flip-flops in my purse, so I’ll stuff and walk. If I can manage to jog in flip-flops for thirteen blocks, I figure I’ll only be a few minutes late. Plus it’ll give me time to get used to this bra and perfect my breast form jiggle.

—–

Finally here. I sign the check-in sheet. Cripes. A waiting room packed full of gorgeous models. And they’re all incredibly busty- all of them at least double Ds. Maybe Pauly is right. Maybe I should save myself the embarrassment and just turn around and-

“Lisa?”

“Oh, hi, Lisa,” I answer.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” busty Lisa says.

“Oh really? Well, Pauly called me-”

“Yeah, Pauly called me too. He told me he accidentally called you first. Gosh, Lisa, I would’ve died of embarrassment if I was you. But you’re not only alive, you even have the guts to show up. Now that’s brave!”

“Well . . you have a flat butt . . ” I trail off.

“So do you. But at least I have real breast implants.” Busty Lisa smirks and juts her chest out. “And your fake forms are showing.”

I look down and see my breast forms have worked themselves out of my bra, and are on display on top of my chest. I shove them back in my bra and run down the hall to the restroom. I’m not giving up without a fight. I kick open the stalls and grab all the loose toilet paper rolls I can find- four of them- and dig a nail file out of my purse. I get to work sawing the rolls in half and stuffing the crescents in my demo bra, under and around my breasts, stuffing and tucking the tissue paper into the bra cups. The bra band digs and cuts into my back, but this audition should only take an hour at the most. ‘Beauty before comfort,’ and all that. I check my reflection in the mirror and unbutton my shirt to expose my cleavage. Not bad. A little red-faced and sweaty, but my boobs look huge. I check my side view. Top heavy. But it’ll have to do. I’ve padded my bra, but I will not stoop to pad my butt. Big butts don’t sell bras. Big boobs do. Or, in my case, big-padded boobs. Besides, I’m out of toilet paper.

I trade my flip-flops for my stilettos, take a deep breath, and run back out of the restroom. This is it- my modeling career future is riding on toilet paper-padded boobs. Bounce-wobbling down the hall, I hear the Victoria’s Secret rep is already addressing the ‘Front and Center’ hopefuls.

I bust through the waiting room door,

“-and we want our ‘Front and Center Girl’ to hit them right between the eyes-”

POP

The front plastic clasp on my ‘Front and Center’ demo bra breaks, goes flying, and hits the rep right between the eyes. He staggers backward and hits his head on the wall. Out cold.

Cripes. I pick the toilet paper chunks up off the floor and walk out of the waiting room, out of the building, and back across town. At least I got some toilet paper out of my modeling career. I was out of toilet paper. Maybe mom and dad can wire me the money for a bus ticket back to Missouri.

Back in my apartment,

RING-RING

“Hello?”

“Lisa?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s Pauly from LA-Looks. Congratulations. You landed the Victoria’s Secret ‘Front and Center Girl’ gig.”

“This is Lisa Marklestein.”

“I know. B-cup, flat butt. I don’t know how you did it, but you did. You’re the new ‘Front and Center Girl.’ I guess you’re just what they were looking for. They said you hit them right between the eyes!”

* * *

Whale Tale

 “Adam?”

“Yeah. Come in, Jim.”

“Me and the guys were wondering if the suspect is still in interrogation.”

“He’s still in the interrogation room. But obviously, he’s not still being interrogated.”

“Yeah. So he’s… still having the polygraph reaction?”

“Yes. And I’m keeping wet towels on him. I don’t know what else to do.”

“You sure you don’t want me or somebody to examine him? You know, just to verify…”

“No. Too risky. He’d probably think we’re ganging up on him, and thrash around and knock this whole building down. We can’t let word of this get out. The government would seize command of this station to get their hands on that machine, then they’d use it to control the world. They’d call it an accidental raid, and deny confiscating or even finding the machine.”

“I just don’t understand how this could happen. I mean, you say he’s-”

“I don’t understand it either. I asked the suspect if he was a killer, and he laughed and said, ‘Yeah, I’m a killer… whale.’ Then the polygraph made a ba-da-bing-POW sound, and the guy changed into a damn killer whale right before my eyes! What are we supposed to do with a killer whale?”

“We could donate him to SeaWorld. We could say it was a gift from an eccentric millionaire.”

“I don’t think that would be wise, Jim. Killer whales kill humans in captivity. Wouldn’t want to risk another killing. Assuming he’s the killer – er, was the killer.”

“How about we each take home some whale meat? Take him out back, and me and Grant can hack away at him. I hear whale meat is a delicacy in Japan.”

“How would we explain all the spilled whale blood? Killer whales are endangered. The animal rights activists would have our photos on the front page news. I believe our only choice is to dump him in the harbor – alive. I’ll take the responsibility and do it myself – the less people that know about this, the better. I’ll have to do it tonight. Hopefully he’ll swim away and not attract too much attention.”

“You’re a brave man, Adam.”

“Thanks. I learned to roll with the punches after last year’s giant squid incident.”

“Yeah. That was weird. And I still don’t know how a giant-”

“If you could call Vick from transpo – I don’t have his number – that would help me get this ball rolling. Tell him to show up tonight, alone, with his truck and his industrial pulley. And his K-20 saw – the outside wall’s gonna have to come down.”

“Moving a killer whale… that’s gonna be expensive.”

“Yeah, but there’s no other option. We’re running out of time. I bet Vick would do it and keep his mouth shut for fifty grand.”

“Fifty grand?!”

“A low-ball estimate. And you could tell accounting to file it under ‘incidentals.’ And one more thing…”

“Yeah?”

“Could you destroy that damn polygraph for me? It needs to be destroyed immediately, before it can do any more damage. I’m too shell-shocked to do it myself. I’m gonna need a vacation after this. Paid.”

“Of course.”

“I knew that polygraph was trouble when Karen told me her team found it in the basement of the New Yorker Hotel. Rumor has it that nut job Nikola Tesla squirreled away some of his wacky contraptions there.”

“Adam, are you sure you don’t want me or one of the guys to take a look-”

“I hope Vick is still in his office when you decide to call him. The fate of the world depends on Vick coming out tonight.”

“Yes. I’ll call him now.”

“And Jim…”

“Yes?”

“Thanks for being such a level-headed, rational boss.”

“And thank you for thinking on your feet, Adam. You’re a real asset to this division.”

* * *

Rouge Zygote

“Congratulations, it’s a girl. Would you like to hold her?”

“Yeah. But wipe ‘er off first. Make sure she’s dry.”

“Here you are. Your new baby girl.”

“I tol’ you ta wipe ‘er off.”

“I did. She’s clean.”

“What’s that on ‘er head?”

“That’s just fuzz. She has a little bit of hair already. Some babies are born bald, some with hair.”

“Red fuzz? But I want a baby with choc’lite-color hair!”

“I’ll just look at your chart here- says here you requested cocoa eyes, chestnut hair, and-”

“Whateva- as long as it looks like a perfect combo of me an’ my ol’ man, not some red-head stepchild.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Davenport-”

“That’s Mrs. Davenport.”

“I’m sorry, but sometimes rouge zygotes slip by. Our karyotype selection process isn’t foolproof.”

“Well that ain’t my problem. My ol’ man didn’t pay twenty-five thou’ to make an accident!”

“Would you like something to help you relax, Mrs. Davenport?”

“And its eyes are blue. It looks nothin’ like a Davenport.”

“Many babies are born with blue eyes. They could change color in a year or so. Perhaps after you rest, you’ll feel better.”

“And its earlobes aren’t even attached. You’d think you’d at least get somethin’ as simple as that right! Take it away.”

“Excuse me, Mrs. Davenport?”

“Take it away.”

“Here’s Dr. Kildare, the geneticist who assisted your case. Perhaps she can explain what happened.”

“Hello, Mrs. Davenport. Congratulations.”

“Congratulations? Yer congratulating me fer birthin’ that?”

“She’s a beautiful baby- looks like she’s healthy too.”

“I don’t want it. I didn’t order it. I ordered a baby that looks like a Davenport. It’s all on yer chart.”

“I’m sorry- if you could tell me the date of your last implant, I could look up the batch number in the zygote database.”

“Implant?”

“Yes, when you had your last implant.”

“I didn’t have any implant.”

“But you were assigned implantation appointments, weren’t you?”

“Yeah. But I thought those were optional.”

“You can’t have a custom-made baby if you don’t come in to implant the custom-made zygotes.”

“You mean . . you didn’t fix all my eggs while you had yer tools all up in there?”

* * *