December 21, 1983
Hank had been at the Party since the beginning, and he looked it.
The Party had been going on for a long time. It had started as a Shindig, a few dozen of Hank’s friends enjoying a night of reverie and carousing. After a few hours it had developed into a Party; and then a Rager. It had taken on a life of its own. Hank had glimpsed a slight hope of its ending around three in the morning, right before two more truckloads of people and alcohol had rolled over his lawn and into his house. Another round of pizza was ordered; these boxes were placed over the first delivery boxes, many of which were on top of the first round of bottles and cans left on Hank’s kitchen counters.
Hank had given in and slept for a few twilight hours. He awoke with the sun. There were more people here than there had been when it went down. He knew, he had counted. Roughage and condiments were strewn in front of his demolished fridge. The trail of devoured foods led past a half-eaten frozen burrito, over the melting remnants of an ice cream container, and around a mountain of paper towels mopping up some sort of viscous substance which Hank refused to identify. At the end of this trail was some dude making a huge pan of scrambled eggs while a dozen other hungry partygoers looked on.
The living room was worse. An upset potted plant lay at the foot of a couch covered in three semen stains and at least one puddle of dried vomit. Nerf darts lay in front of his coffee table, which had been upended as an impromptu barricade. His front windows proclaimed “DARCY WILLIAMS IS A BITCH” in large sweeps of mustard and ketchup.
Someone had poo poo in his sink and pissed in his trash can, likely because the toilet was backed up to the point that the lid would not stay down. An attempt at making bathtub sangria had apparently ended when someone had decided to shave their long, blonde hair in the same area.
Everywhere Hank went he stepped over sleeping people covered in their own sick. Piles of cans, condoms, and fast food wrappers were growing in every corner. Hoping for a short respite, Hank escaped to his back yard - only to find the charred, smoking remnants of a bonfire. Huge chunks of his wood fence were suspiciously missing. Strewn about the bonfire was refuse, sleeping bodies, and a snaking garden hose that ended in a fat, bearded man’s pants. The hose was on; water flowed over and out of his trousers and into a rapidly growing puddle in the grass.
A man in a pterodactyl costume walked out of the house. Seemingly unaware, he sat in the larger half of Hank’s shattered lawn chair, exposed himself, and began to masturbate. Hank heard a car roll onto his front lawn. The clinking of glasses in rustling paper bags called to him as an ominous bell.
As if to shatter Hank’s last hopes of reclaiming his house, a drunk, overweight woman fell through his sliding glass door. She rolled around in the shards, mixing blood with the vomit falling from her mouth. The woman stood and stumbled back into the house, muttering something about how she was “not that drunk.”
Hank was at a loss. What could he do? He knew without asking that these people would not leave. Not a single one of his friends remained; so far as he could tell, few of the people his friends had invited were still here. The police would be no help - they had come and gone around midnight. An idea dawned as the sun came over his roof: this was no longer his house.
He was not worried or concerned, just relieved. A man offered him another drink. He took it with a plate of burnt eggs. The grease and booze fell on his stomach like Napoleon fell on Russia - first with great violence, then to be expelled by sheer force of will. It
didn't dampen his spirit for spirits. More spirits. A different sort of spirits.
Hank’s garage door had been split in two by the front half of a green Ford Ranger. Its dimming headlights illuminated a group of filthy hippies gathered around a suspicious piece of glassware. Behind his upturned lawnmower was a large red container marked “NO MIX.”
Carefully, deliberately, Hank poured these new spirits around the edges of his house. He soaked the grass and his dilapidated flower beds, stained the gravel in his driveway and the wood on his porch.
Hank lit a match. It burned in his fingers, and in the light he saw himself: a flame guttering, ready to burn out at the slightest provocation. The match burnt his fingers, and he tossed it down on the other side of his line. There he lay, inside the line of destruction. Maybe he belonged there, inside the thing he had started. Hank put one foot inside the house, then another.
Behind him, an old man lit a cigarette. Something made of glass crashed loudly on his kitchen floor. Hank knew he couldn’t do it. Here he was, holding the gun cocked and ready to fire, and he couldn't pull the trigger. In the moment, he was not brave enough to end this.
The man dropped a still-burning butt on Hank’s pants. He stood up, frantically brushing the ember off and into the grass. Into the gasoline.
Hank's last thought was whether anyone would survive to survey the ashes.
|# ? Apr 20, 2014 19:36|
|# ? May 17, 2022 15:21|
Dr Party, PhD. 1189 words
"More punch! We need three more bowls of punch!" Kumar ran through the house, his lab coat knocking down a vase of fake flowers in his wake. "And I need twenty percent less dubstep and an eighteen percent rise in classic rock on that playlist. The faculty arrives in ten minutes, we need this experiment to work, guys!"
Kumar brushed his hair into his eyes and untucked half of his shirt as the board of academic advisors arrived at his door. He opened it and his shoulders sank. "No!"
Five college professors embodied every stereotype they could on Kumar's doorstep. Starting at the left was a scruffy older man with a leather-patched corduroy jacket, his grey hair tied back in a ponytail. Next to him was an older woman, nose like a hawk, blouse stolen from an unfashionable corpse, holding a bottle of expensive wine in her ink-stained hands. Following her was a short, fat lady in a fluffy pink cardigan, with rhinestone-laced cat eye glasses, holding the hand of an older Chinese man with a short-sleeved button-down shirt, doing his best clothing impersonation of a Mormon missionary. Rounding out the group was a bald, bespectacled science advisor, wearing his own custom-fit lab coat, over a grey wool turtleneck. He, too, held a bottle of wine in his hand, accompanied by a copy of Settlers of Catan.
"Come in, quickly! Before you ruin this!" Kumar waved his hand with impatience, nerd-herding the advisors in through the doorway. As they got inside, Kumar's research assistants guided the professionals into a makeshift changing room, where they were encouraged to trade their dork clothes for more appropriate party wear. The academic advisors, once properly dressed, were escorted into the living room and given red plastic cups of alcoholic punch. They sat in front of a whiteboard and waited for Kumar to begin his presentation.
"We only have a short time until the real guests arrive, so I'll make this brief. Thank you, esteemed professors, for allowing me to test my hypothesis." Kumar sipped from his own cup and nodded to a research assistant, who dimmed the lights. "There have been theories of time travel and of alternate earths existing throughout human history. They fall in line, quite easily, with what we know of string theory and m-theory, although, not in as conventional a sense as a seasoned scientist would prefer. In fact, the only name in physics who has hinted at what I aim to prove was Richard Feynman, and even he..."
"I'm sorry," interrupted the scruffy professor, his corduroy jacket replaced with an ironic sweater. "What does this have to do with these ridiculous costumes?"
"Gentlemen, ladies." Kumar grinned and slid a pair of shutter shades from his pocket to his head. He pulled a curtain down from his wall, showing a mural of infinite Earths in a ring around a cloud emitting lasers painted directly onto the wallpaper. "Multiple worlds are a reality. Time only has purpose on a linear Earth. Tonight," said Kumar as he pointed to a research assistant, "I prove the Partysphere Hypothesis.”
Taking Kumar’s cue, the research assistant started the party playlist. Kumar ushered his panel of professors to their feet. He hid their board games, ugly coats and poured their wine into the bowls of punch. After checking his watch, he stood by the door, ready to greet his experiment subjects. One by one, the guests arrived.
Kumar sipped at the dregs of his second cup of punch. The party was well into its third hour with no signs of slowing down, yet his hypothesis was no closer to proving itself. He slammed his cup down on top of a stack of pizza boxes and pursed his lips in frustration. "This should have worked."
"Hey man, be cool." The scruffy professor threw an arm around Kumar's shoulder, sloshing drink wildly down both of their shirts. "This is the most groovy party I've been to since '68, man."
Kumar shrugged his way out of the drunken hug. "I know it is, I planned it this way. Do you have any idea how much it cost me to bribe Andrew WK to gatecrash with his band? This is the most perfect party that has ever existed. I've studied parties, Professor. I know parties."
The professor shrugged and stumbled away, leaving Kumar to his frustration. After a quick glance around the kitchen, at the various partygoers kissing and dancing, Kumar swore. Months of planning, of coordination, of precise measurements of fun quotients, appeared to be wasted. He mumbled, to nobody in particular, "I need some fresh air," and stepped outside.
The air outside smelled lightly of cigarettes, vomit, and spilled alcohol. Kumar wrinkled his nose and searched for the source of the smell. Somebody had thrown up by his car. He swore, again, and pulled out his phone.
Halfway through typing in his mother's phone number, Kumar heard a shout come from inside. He stared through the window and clutched at the windowsill as he tried to stop himself from fainting in shock. The mural of the earth spinning around a laser cloud was in motion, sending beams of light dancing through the living room. A shout shook the window in front of Kumar's face as a group of men in blue coats danced past, holding archaic mugs of alcohol. A woman wearing a silver bodysuit nodded at them and pressed a button on her wrist, making a cup in her other hand miraculously fill up with alcohol. In the distance, he heard a lute.
Kumar ran to another window and stared through. Instead of his hallway, he saw an impossibly long corridor, full of people of all races, genders, and fashion, dancing and throwing up together. He jumped back from the glass and let out a loud shout. The Partysphere, the infinite connection of all perfect parties throughout time, had manifested inside his house. He could practically taste his forthcoming doctorate, and dashed to the front door to celebrate.
It was locked.
Kumar nailed his doctorate certificate above his desk. In less than a year, his party planning business had grown fast enough to require a larger office, twice. He made sure the frame was level, before hanging up the newspaper piece on the Partysphere Hypothesis. That article was the main reason Kumar made it to the cover of Time Magazine. Kumar felt proud; he was giving people a chance, albeit a drunken one, to connect to and meet up with future generations of their family. He had, singlehandedly, erased the fear of being forgotten, provided you knew how to have a good time.
Kumar tested the three pens on his desk, then lined them up to be perpendicular with the wall. He double checked that he had backup shoelaces in his drawer, then dusted down his chair and sat. His peers called him a bummer, his teachers called him a bore, but of the whole university, only one person had a Nobel Prize. So what if his presence killed parties; at least he had a trophy. Kumar waited for his first client to call.
|# ? Apr 20, 2014 22:42|
Keeping Score (1,152 words)
I never thought Xeroxing my butt would start World War Three. It was New Year’s Eve and the Russian ambassador, Yuri, was hosting DC’s hottest party at his mansion. The bar was open, the hoi polloi were strengthening East-West relations by shaking their diplomatic booties to Katy Perry, and Yuri and I were once again at war.
Yuri was on the dance floor, macking on a blue-eyed blonde, and I snuck up and yanked his briefs over his head - a perfect atomic wedgie. The DC elite laughed, the blonde slipped away and Yuri ran off red-faced. America: one, Russia: zero. Just like it should be.
I draped myself over the shoulders of my two best friends, Booth and Ilyin, and celebrated victory with a bottle of Moskovskaya.
Booth poked me. “You two gotta grow up. Someone’s gonna get hurt one of these days.”
My friends returned to their favorite pastime: standing an inch apart and shouting hypotheticals - who would win in a fight, us or them? Pearlescent spittle flecked their faces.
“Dead Hand means peace!” Ilyin pushed his glasses up his nose. “If generals are gone, it requires only simplest of codes - sequence of pixels, black and white. Stupid generals stay calm and nukes stay in silos.”
And then Yuri pantsed me.
I dropped my bottle. It smashed and vodka soaked my undies. “Dude!”
He grinned. “Eye for an eye, John.”
I yanked off my slacks, whipped them like a towel and booze spattered Yuri. “Anyone got backup pants?”
Ilyin handed me his keys. “My office. Second door on right.”
A full suit hung behind Ilyin’s door. I changed trousers and stalked towards the party. The hallway had a door covered in red Cyrillic, with “Keep Out” beneath.
Russians couldn’t tell me what to do. I tried Ilyin’s keys, then kicked down the door. It was a big dark closet with a copier in one corner, official stationery, and a fax machine beneath a doubly-locked plastic bubble. The fax was labelled in Russian and a red light shone above it.
We had one like it in our embassy; a direct line to the president’s office. Payback time!
I flipped the lid on the copier, spread gooch across glass and hit Go. Monochrome rear end-cheeks slid out, a dozen perfect Moona Lisas. I jumped atop the table, kicked the bubble and it shattered. I jammed photocopies into tray. Send.
“John? It’s almost fireworks time.” Yuri peered through the door. “You’re not supposed to be here.” He glanced at the fax, paled and smacked the stop button.
“Butt for a butt, Yuri.”
Yuri looked from fax to light to me. “That’s the Dead Hand line! Get everyone to the basement.” He sprinted from the office.
I wandered out to the dance floor. It was empty, save for Booth and Ilyin. I grabbed another vodka bottle. “Hey, Yuri wants everyone down in the basement ‘cause I just faxed my rear end to Dead Hand.”
Booth laughed. “They wouldn’t arm that thing now.”
Ilyin shook his head. “Brass probably all drunk for New Year’s.”
“It’s just another of their pranks. I dare you to come watch the fireworks, or are you too chicken?” Booth flapped his arms.
Ilyin grunted and pushed Booth towards the door. “No more chicken than you.”
I followed them to the porch, clinked glasses with the crowd, looked for Yuri. He wasn’t there. Would he forego the big show for the sake of a joke? I left the party behind, went down to the basement. No sense in Yuri missing all the fun.
Inside a steel room behind two blast doors, he sat on a cot, face in hands. “They didn’t believe you, either?”
“This is pretty intense for a prank.”
Yuri groaned and punched a button. The doors slammed shut and he spun the locks closed.
Ever been nuked? It’s like being in an earthquake while on a rollercoaster. Our little steel sarcophagus twisted and shook. Tin cans jumped off the shelves and rolled on the floor. I slammed against a wall and lay on the rollicking floor, sweating out every ounce of booze I’d ever drank in my life. The vodka bottle rolled out of my hands. Good riddance.
When the shaking stopped, Yuri put on an earpiece and hunched over a little box.
“What’re you playing with?”
“It’s a shortwave.”
“Listening for the Soviet army so you know when to pop the doors?”
“Grow up, John.”
What do you do after the end of the world, cry and beat your fists on the wall? Who would that help? What’s life without a laugh?
That night, I short-sheeted Yuri. “Three for America!”
He shoved me against a wall. “Enough. The game’s not funny any more. It’s because of this poo poo everyone thought we were crying wolf.”
“Lighten up. Besides, you’re the idiots who left a doomsday machine armed.”
“And who set it off?”
We didn’t speak after that. We ate beans and drank canned water, sitting on our beds, not looking at one another. He listened for days on end, stone-faced. He needed a smile, so I cooked up the ultimate prank.
I scrounged empty bean cans and started “reading” in the toilet. The cans I sliced into strips, twisted strips into wires and built a little transmitter. I wired up the battery and mic from my cellphone and whispered military junk. “Five, Bravo Actual. Russian sector clear, rendezvous at South Lawn.”
Yuri’s shoes clacked on the concrete floor. “John! There’s survivors outside. Soldiers.”
“Tell Putin I send my regards.”
Steel whined against steel and feet crunched gravel. I gave him time to get away and emerged. Dim gray light shone down a rubble-strewn stairwell. I ate beans and giggled. He’d figure out the joke soon enough.
A day later, he hadn’t returned and it wasn’t funny any longer. I was alone in the belly of a horrible mistake. I reached down my shorts and melvined myself. It wasn’t the same.
I took the shortwave, packed a backpack. and climbed ruined stairs. The splintered walls were osteoporotic, more listening-wire than concrete, riddled with squabbles between CIA and KGB.
Out front, bombs had bleached the porch bone-white. Rubble hills marked buildings’ graves and charred flags hung dead atop poles.
Two black silhouettes were scorched into the porch, throttling one another in death. One shadow-face wore Ilyin’s glasses. My friends had argued until fire etched them onto stone.
I retreated to the bunker, snatched the half-empty Moskovskaya left over from New Year’s and poured it over their sooty grave. I had to say something, maybe a Bible quote. “Sorry.”
The South Lawn was a cinder at the edge of a glass pit. In the shade of an overturned car, Yuri sat hunched over his knees on radiation-wilted grass. He glared. “America, four?”
I handed over his radio. “I’m not keeping score.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 00:06|
Seven Minutes in Heaven (1129 words)
The bottle stopped spinning. Chelsea sighed, frowned, then lead the new kid into the closet in the hallway.
“Yeah Chelsea!” came the catcalls, shut out as Reggie closed the door.
“The stars are nice tonight,” he said.
Chelsea stood with her back to him, examining the shelves of board games. “We're inside,” she mumbled.
“Well,” Reggie rubbed his arm, “I saw them earlier. They were...nice.” He leaned back on the flock of fur coats hanging on the door.
“Uh-huh,” she rustled around in the half light, popping open the lids of games. “Weird. Scrabble box with a Monopoly board inside...”
Reggie's heart kept an unfamiliar beat. The closet was tiny. There was barely enough room for the both of them. Slowly, he reached his hand up and laid it on Chelsea's shoulder.
The girl turned, and Reggie was reminded of how beautiful she was, even in near darkness. Strips of light from outside the door illuminated her green eyes and long, blonde hair. She lifted her plastic cup up as she spoke. He watched her mouth carefully and wished that he was kissing it. “Nothing's going to happen, you know,” she said.
Reggie bit his lip and stared down at his feet. “Like, no offence,” Chelsea continued, “But I don't really know you. At all. My charity work is more the conservation side of things. Red, is it?”
“Reg,” he said.
“Okay. Reg. Sorry, Reg.”
He stared at his shoes and said: “You do conservation work?”
Chelsea shrugged. “I like nature. The environment. I think we should do more for it.”
“That's...good,” Reggie looked up at her, and smiled. He took a small step towards her. She lifted her hands up. “Nothing's. Gonna. Happen. Remember?”
“Yes. Sorry,” the new kid repeated, rubbing his eyes. “Can I tell you something, Chelsea?”
She looked him up and down as she took another sip from her cup. Outside the voices of the group merged into a melange of laughing, shouting, and armpit farts. They had already started spinning again. The new kid was weird, but not weird enough for her to have really noticed him before. He was tall, skinny, the balls of his wrist and his collarbones protruding beneath his pale skin. His eyes were large, but dull. His hair was short and wiry. His voice cracked and strained as he spoke. “Sure,” she said.
“Right,” he said. He clapped his hands together, and reached past her to pull the light cord. She squinted in the light. “Well, for starters. My name isn't Reggie.”
“My real name can't be pronounced using human vocal chords.”
“Because I'm an alien.”
She sighed, and placed her empty cup on one of the shelves. “How close are we to seven minutes?”
“Listen Red,” said Chelsea, trying to manoeuvre her way past the gangly teen before her. “I've heard some lines, but...”
“Okay, okay,” he turned and went to open the door. “Ah.”
“Are you serious?” Chelsea squeezed past Reggie, who stumbled back into the shelves. “You're kidding.” She shook the handle. “loving Ryan, man. I bet it was. Now there's a charity case...” Her back felt warm. Reggie was holding a flame in his palm. “Hey, don't be playing with a lighter in here! This stuff's all flammable...”
“It's not a, um, lighter,” he said, holding his hand closer to show that the flame was suspended above his hand.
“Right...” said Chelsea.
“I'm an alien,” Reggie repeated.
“...So you said.” She reached over Reggie's shoulder and took her cup off the shelf. She tilted it up to get the dregs of her drink.
“You're an alien,” she said, wiping her mouth.
“And my people have so far collected the powers of earth, water, and fire...”
“Wait, you've done what?” The noises outside the closet had almost disappeared. There was just her, and Reggie, in the closet.
“The classical elements? Earth, water, fire?” He looked at her. “We only need one more, and that's–”
“Wind,” Chelsea snorted as a rush of familiar feelings washed over her. “Yep, I get it, Reggie. Or, whatever your name isn't.”
He smiled, and placed his hand on her shoulder again. “Good,” he said. “I'm glad.”
Chelsea shrugged his hand away from her shoulder and adjusted the strap of her dress. “Yeah, I get that you're being gross,” she said.
“Wind? Like, that blows? Good one.”
“I don't understand...” said Reggie, looking at his hands.
“Pretty disgusting,” said Chelsea. She started banging on the door. “Hey! Ryan! Stop loving around! Get me away from this perv!”
“No! No!” Reggie grabbed her and spun her around. She turned and slapped the new kid across the face. He staggered back, his cheek stinging, knocking down the shelves of boardgames and collapsing to the ground amongst them.
“Oh, poo poo,” Chelsea gasped. She knelt down. “Are you okay?”
“Erm,” Reggie coughed. “I think I'll be fine. But...”
“I wasn't lying.”
“Okay,” she sat down, crossed leg, in front of him as he collected himself. “So...say you really aren't lying. What's the rest of the story?”
He shrugged and gave a weak smile. “There isn't much more. We've done pretty much what you've done. Decimated our planet with industry and selfishness. Except now we're trying to undo all the bad.”
“It's necessary,” he corrected her. “Else my planet will die out. And everyone who lives there with it.”
“And how do I come into this?” she asked, tilting her head.
Reggie bit his lip again and looked at the ceiling. “The first time I saw you was out on the...quad?” he said. “I saw you standing there. The wind was blowing through your hair. That's when I knew.”
She looked at him again. His eyes looked darker, richer; his long arms ready to wrap around her; his hair exotic, different. She leaned forward, her lips parting enough to accept his. She closed her eyes and felt the breeze on her back as they kissed.
“Haha, what?” somebody giggled behind them. “Chelsea! Really?” She ignored the voice. Reggie pulled her closer, and she smiled, and he felt her smiling. Ryan stood at the door and laughed, and she didn't care. When they were done, Chelsea stood up, and helped Reggie to stand too. She lead him out the closet, passed the amassed crowd, and into the living room, and then he was gone.
Reggie sat outside on the porch, looking at the photos he'd been told to take of Chelsea on his phone. It was strange seeing pictures of them kissing, like an out-of-body experience. The screen illuminated his face in the dark. He looked up at the stars and thought about the message he was about to send.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 00:06|
The Last Adventure
“My parents are out of town for the weekend, so we’ve got the place to ourselves.” Theo led our group down the stairs to the room where he had everything set up.
“Ooooh-“ came a voice behind me.
“Shut up, Neil,” Jackie said, not even bothering to shoot him a glare. “Not tonight.” Neil didn’t respond, for once, but flopped down at the table with a sulk.
“You enter a vast chamber,” Theo began, from behind the Dungeon Master’s screen as the rest of us got our sheets and dice in order. “The space is reminiscent of the stone forest you found in the labyrinth of the Dark Lords, but this place is thoroughly alive. The trees stretch up to the ceiling, which glows with an unearthly light.”
“Alexis, you wanna see if you can get anything out of the local flora?” Tom said. “You’ve got Speak with Plants, right?”
Alexis rolled a die in front of her. After peering at it with red-rimmed eyes, she looked up. “Fourteen.”
Theo passed a slip of paper across to Alexis, who read aloud: “The plants say that they were brought back to life suddenly two moons ago, when a great tremor shook the earth. Many men and beasts have entered the chamber since, but none have left.” She set the paper down and went back to staring at her lap. Jackie squeezed her knee under the table.
Tom leaned forward and looked at his notes. “Let’s see, two months in-game time was when…”
I leaned back and looked around the table. It was the first time I’d seen everyone since the funeral; the first time I’d seen them smiling since graduation. Well, except Alexis.
“Come on guys, let’s just go already,” Neil said, cutting off Tom. “I’m gonna grab my axes and head into the center of the chamber.”
“For God’s sake, Neil, you do this every time!” Jackie said, but the rest of us followed suit.
“The forest thins as you approach a pool of water, an orb of white fire above it. There is a figure inside the flame, but you’re unable to make it out from this distance.”
“Sounds like a Will o’ Wisp. Maybe a fire elemental…?” Tom said.
“Metagaming!” Jackie said, kicking him under the table. Tom yelped, and I saw Alexis smile faintly.
“I’ll do a Detect Evil check,” I said, grabbing a die.
“You don’t detect evil,” Theo said, without waiting for my roll. “The figure inside the flame rises, and you can suddenly see it clearly. You recognize it as Felwyn Moonhammer.”
There was a moment of silence while we stared at Theo.
“Theo,” Neil said finally. “What the gently caress man?”
“This isn’t funny,” Jackie said. She put her hand on Alexis’ shoulder.
“Jackie, it’s fine,” Alexis said, brushing her off. “James was part of the campaign, too. Let Theo talk.”
Theo smiled sheepishly at Alexis and then the rest of us. “Sorry. Last request.”
“The figure glides forward. It stops in front of the party and each of you feel as though it is looking at you directly.”
Theo stood up from behind the DM screen, holding a packet of envelopes. He handed one to Tom, then me, and proceeded around the table until we each had an envelope and he was back at his seat, holding one of his own.
I looked down and read my name on the envelope, the handwriting familiar from years of passed notes and co-written comics. I opened it.
Dear Shithead, I read, and had to stifle a laugh.
Got you, didn’t I? Laughing at a dead man’s letter, I bet everyone thinks you’re real classy now.
Nah man, I’m fuckin’ with you. It’s cool to laugh. I know this whole thing’s kind of a stupid idea, but I’m a stupid guy, so what’re ya gonna do?
(Sorry, I’m writing your letter last, so you can blame everyone else for hogging up all my genius poetry and poo poo. Maybe if you’re really nice they’ll let you read theirs and see what you’re missing.)
Really, though, I know you’re a serious dude, so you’re probably trying to be all stoic, sitting there with your Mary Sue Paladin and being all “God works in mysterious ways.” And yeah, so I got really pissed off at you sometimes, ‘cause why the gently caress does he have to work that mystery mojo out on me, but I know you were pretty mad about it, too, so I know it’s just your way of dealing.
I just want you to remember that it’s okay to laugh, and it’s okay to have fun. I want you guys to keep playing (hopefully that Theo fucker did what I told him to for once instead of pussing out and putting this poo poo in the mail), and I want you guys to not feel guilty about it.
I’m gonna tell you a secret here, ‘cause I think you get the whole pretending-to-be-wise bullshit and you’ll understand better than those other guys: I’m pretty scared. I thought that I was gonna get more resigned about it, and I am, I guess, but I think it’s mainly that I’m just so drat weak all the time. (Sometimes I think they’re spiking my chemo with valium.)
But you guys made this poo poo bearable, so I’ve got a favor to ask. If I were Tom I’d probably call it a Final Quest or something, but that guy’s an rear end in a top hat (don’t let Tom read that part, unless it’s too late, otherwise lol). Go see all the poo poo that I’m not gonna get to see in the world. Go do all of that stuff we always talked about doing in middle school. Travel the world, mack on some chicks (or dudes, I ain’t judgin’), see if Jackie and Neil ever stop being babies and just gently caress already, whatever. Hell, marry Alexis if you want - I promise I won’t get mad (unless you’re bad to her, then I’ll fuckin’ haunt you).
poo poo, this all sounded cooler in my head. Whatever, you get the point.
Thanks for being my friend, Philip.
Now go kill that loving Necromancer. I hate that rear end in a top hat.
I didn’t like crying in front of other people, but everyone else was too, at this point. Tom had pulled his knees up to his chest like a little kid, still reading. Jackie and Alexis had their heads together on the other side of the table, their letters in their laps. Neil was standing in the doorway, pretending to be absorbed in thought so we couldn’t see his face. Theo was leaning back in his chair with his hands folded across his chest and his eyes shut; after a while he opened them and looked around the room.
“Okay,” he said, and I admired the way that his voice only quavered a little. “Okay. You see a – The figure disappears, and before you is a dark citadel.”
Jackie and Alexis straightened, and Neil came back to sit at the table. I looked at my friends, and we all smiled, even Alexis.
“Roll for initiative.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 00:17|
When Grandma Trudy and Grandpa Ernie arrived all the way up from Philadelphia to shower him with kisses, when aunts and uncles hugged him and wished him a happy birthday, when presents piled up in the corner of the living room and all the big people talked and laughed and sang, Trevor could only think of one thing.
“Eat me, Trevor!” the cake called to him from the kitchen. “Eat me before it is too late!” But Trevor had to wait for his moment. It was when red-nosed Uncle Ernie did the funny dance again that Trevor slipped away, into the kitchen, where he found the cake on the counter, too high for him to reach.
He pulled the wooden stool out of the kitchen corner and put it in front of the counter, where the cake was, but even then, Trevor wasn’t quite high enough. Only know he was able to reach the knobs to his left. He didn’t know what they did, but they were cake-shaped and there were small circles painted above them, probably cake. So Trevor turned the cake knobs. The cake remained where it was.
“Hurry, Trevor!” the cake whined. Trevor knew why. Soon the cake would be taken into the dining room, where the big ones would devour it. But this was his birthday, and it was only once a year, and it should be his birthday cake alone. It was time to take desperate measures.
Trevor pushed the stool over to the window and reached for the drapes. He would climb up and then hop on to the counter, where he would have the cake all for himself. Trevor jumped and reached for the drapes. For a split second he could already taste the cake. It would be delicious, like chocolate and vanilla ice and marshmallows. His fist closed around fabric and the drapes immediately collapsed under his weight, some of them falling to the counter above the cake knobs. They mysteriously caught on fire.
This presented Trevor with a problem. He could inform the old people and have them fix the fire and be forced to share his cake after all, or he could try to solve this problem himself and then get back to having his cake. And eating it.
“You can do it,” said the cake, and Trevor indeed found a bottle of water, which could have totally fixed everything, if red-nosed Uncle Ernie hadn’t just then come into the kitchen, seen the fire, and emptied his glass into it. Whatever had been in there, the flames just got worse.
“Welp,” said the cake. ”Looks like you’re screwed. Sorry kid.” And that was the last Trevor ever heard of the cake. It was also the last he ever saw of it, for soon he would hear his mother scream, and strong hands would drag Trevor out in front of the house, where he would sit in the grass and wait for the firemen to save his house, and the cake, the last of which they never did.
They probably ate it themselves, he thought, and vowed to never trust a fireman again.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 00:19|
Some Sunny Day
Klaxxor kept a tight grip on his drink. He gave Shackron a quizzical squint, “I just don’t know what we’re going to do now that we’ve completed the mission. These parties are always so hollow.”
Shackron shook her torso and laughed, “You’re such a worrywort. There’s always a new mission. You got to enjoy your time on Earth. There will be other planets for you to visit after we’re done harvesting the resources from this one.”
Klaxxor sighed, “You don’t understand. Earth was great. They have this soft, fragrant vegetation called ‘grass!’ They lay down on it and enjoy the radiation of their star. It is a shame you didn’t get to witness it. If we could just give them another week…”
“Just enjoy the party, Klaxxor. I’m going to get more…wait, what do they call this again?”
“Kool-aid. It’s a mixture of water, sucrose, various colori…”
“Right. Kool-aid. Anyway, relax a bit, Klaxxy. You did good. Just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.”
Klaxxor adjusted the party party umbrella in his drink and took in the spectacle around him. They had transformed the observation deck into an ersatz Earthling bar, but the decor was a hodgepodge of Hawaiian luau, American dive bar and Japanese izakaya. Klaxxor crossed tatami mats, weaved through tiki torches and placed himself between the beer-pong table and observation window. The decor might change, but the window was always a safe spot during the festivities.
Here’s to you. Klaxxor raised a glass to the blue and green orb spinning silently beneath his vantage. It’s a shame that nobody will be able to gaze out over your waters again, little Earth.
“Hey there Klaxxor. What are you looking at?”
Rajax. Head of the “Gravitational Re-alignment and Resource Collection” taskforce. “Head of the Group of Jerks who Blow Planets to Smithereens to Mine for Resources,” more like. Why can’t he let me enjoy some peace with you, little Earth?
“I’m just looking at our last subject, Raj. You all set for the fireworks?”
“Set? SET?! Klaxs, we’re going to blow the thing to bits! There won’t be a single one of those four-legged monstrosities left in the galaxy! It’ll be great. First, we’re going to combust their atmosphere to give a show for the families here. After we set the thing on fire…”
“I really don’t want the details, Raj.”
“Just wait, I haven’t even gotten to the antimatter bombs we buried under their mountains.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood, Raj.”
Rajax gave Klaxxor a harsh glance. “Well get in the mood, Klaxxor. I’m thinking of asking you to push the button tonight. I know you get attached to the primitives you meet on your field missions, but remember that your little anthropological studies are just a means of appeasing the peaceniks who are afraid of us eradicating galaxy culture. Some culture,” said Rajax as he flung a party umbrella into a tiki torch and watched it burn. “Well, I’m up again at the beer pong table. We’ll talk. Soon.”
Klaxxor turned back to the window. A song from the American 1920s, “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, started playing. Oh to see those skies as they see them. Klaxxor looked around the room. Months of research. Months living on the surface. For what!? For a twelve page report and a “historically informed party celebrating the culture to be sacrificed.” Klaxxor exhaled and made his way toward the Observation Deck’s exit.
“Hey Klaxxy, where are you heading?” asked Shackron with a smile.
“Oh, I’ve just got a bit of indigestion. We really should stop trying to serve local food,” said Klaxxor with a laugh. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
“Well hurry back! We’re going to start limbo soon, and then it is time for the fireworks!”
“Hooray,” Klaxxor flatly intoned.
After exiting the party, Klaxxor sped to the cargo hold where surface-bound materials are kept. If this is where they keep my lander and camping gear, it has to be where Rajax and the Re-alignment and Resource Collection crew stores their materials as well. Now what does an antimatter bomb look like anyway?
While the crew on the Observation Deck limboed, luau’d and played beer pong, Klaxxor sifted through hundreds of bins, containment fields and storage boxes until he found one marked “unspent munitions.” Inside, he found a small dull white sphere, suspended by a containment field. Satisfied with his find, Klaxxor returned to the party above.
“Klaxxor! I was worried that you didn’t have the constitution for our festivities. You know, I’ve gotten to push the button so many time, I am going to have you do honors tonight.”
“Sure thing, Raj! But first, let’s have one last game of beer pong. Just you and me.”
Raj laughed. “That’s the spirit! I’ll set up the cups. We just need to find another one of those blasted balls.”
“Don’t worry,” said Klaxxor. “I have one right here.”
From Earth, the humans witnessed an explosion unlike any they had seen before. In an instant, the sky filled with orange glowing fire. The fire swirled into a vortex and contracted, compressing down until it was just a pinprick of intense glowing light. The light from the pinprick shone for a minute and then, just as suddenly as it started, disappeared.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 00:34|
What's the Point?
Robert shaded his eyes with a hand as he watched a seagull circled in the blue sky overhead. He could hear Christine and the rest of her friends from the left; apparently they were still playing ultimate frisbee. He should probably join them, since older brothers generally weren’t supposed to be all mopey when their younger sister turned fifteen. But he didn’t really want to move – heck, that statement could be applied to his general situation. The bags he was supposed to pack for college were still empty, the thank-you letters to all his high school teachers left unfilled, and the sketch he wanted to give to Chris before he left still –
Robert felt something wet soak into the shoulder of his t-shirt. As the seagull above made a handy escape from the vicinity, Robert resisted the urge to swear. What the hell was he supposed to do? It’s not like he carried convenient tissues in his back pocket, and there was a distinct lack of napkins in the area, since the all the birthday food was in their backyard. Which wasn’t too far – but the five-minute walk back with this disgusting trophy on his shoulder seemed like a huge pain. He looked down at the grassy ground.
At least nobody outright laughed when they found him, scrubbing at his forever-befouled shoulder with a handful of grass – but there were audible snickers from the six or seven teenagers behind her. His cheeks burned. So much for his hope of being the cool older brother, even if it was just to a bunch of strangers that he’d never see again.
Christine’s face twitched, probably with the effort it took to tamp down her smile. “We’re heading back now. Mom told us to come back by 3 so we could cut the cake, remember?”
Robert glared. “Yeah, I do. Let’s go.”
Robert looked at the mess of wrapping paper and plastic forks that littered the dining table, and with a sigh, began to pick it up. Mom had told Christine and her friends to enjoy themselves in the living room with the “Nintendos,” as she called it, and left it to him to clean up the aftermath of the unwrapping of Christine’s gifts. At least Christine had liked his gift – after living with her for fifteen years, he could tell by the expression on her face whether or not a gift was going to be used on a daily basis, or just one time to spare his feelings, and then placed in a drawer and never touched again.
After about ten minutes, the dining table looked relatively tidy. Robert took a moment to admire his work, then began to lug the bulging garbage bag outside to dump in the garbage can. When he caught sight of Chris’ garage door across the street, he absently recalled the flickering light of the flaming candles in the basement on the day Chris turned eighteen, and how they had burst into a off-tune, warbly rendition of “Still Alive”. They had accidentally set one of the napkins on fire, too, and in a panic, Chris had splashed the table all over with his glass of water. Robert wished Chris had attended the party; Christine didn’t mind him, and he’d have appreciated having somebody his own age to talk to. But Chris had a shift at the hardware store, so he couldn’t make it.
As he shoved the garbage bag into its intended place, he saw his dad drive up and park his car in the driveway. He looked a bit tired, but as cheerful as always, and he smiled when he saw Robert. “Hey, Bobby, how’s it going?”
“A seagull decided to poop on me,” Robert shrugged, “It’s a pretty decent day, all around.”
His father grinned. “And how about Christine? She having a good time?”
“Yeah, she’s having fun. I think.” Robert said.
“That’s good.” Robert’s father paused a moment, and then said, “Lend me an ear, okay?”
“Sure,” Robert said, startled, “What’d you want to talk about?”
His father looked him right in the eye. “Why haven’t you packed for college yet?”
Oh. Robert looked down and mumbled, “I just haven’t found the time for it.”
“C’mon, Bobby, don’t lie to me. It’s summer vacation, and you don’t have even have a summer job as an excuse.” Robert winced, and his father’s eyes narrowed. “Or is this about Chris?”
Robert was not feeling up to a heart-to-heart, so he answered, “What makes you think that?”
“Well, you’ve been acting weird whenever the subject of Chris comes up these days. I don’t see him much anymore, and –”
“He’s just busy. Y’know, with his job and all that.”
“Well, he’s not busy all the time. And since you guys are best friends, I’d thought you’d try to spend more time together, now that you’re going off to college.” Robert’s father watched him intently, but drat it, Robert couldn’t help but take the bait.
“Chris is going to college too, you know,” He said, rather tartly, “Just because he isn’t going a million miles away doesn’t mean that he isn’t getting a good education.”
His father relaxed, and said, “I never said that he wasn’t. Chris will do fine at San Juan. But you’ll do well at UC Irvine, too. You two needed to be apart for a while, anyways.”
“Why?” Robert demanded. “That’s total bullshi– I mean, that’s stupid! That’s just something people say that doesn’t mean anything!”
“Well, Bobby – “
“And I never wanted to go to Irvine, anyways! It’s so far away and –“
“Don’t interrupt me.” Robert’s father wasn’t quite frowning, but he looked serious. “You’re going to Irvine because you need to meet new people. You’re so nervous about trying to make friends here, and it’s pretty clear to me and your mother that you need a fresh start. A chance to reinvent yourself. Irvine seemed like a good choice.”
“I guess,” Robert mumbled.
“You’re going to be getting a good education, and you’ll always be able to call Chris up on the phone. It’s not the end of the world, Bobby.”
Robert didn’t reply, and just glared at the cracked asphalt by his feet. His father sighed.
“If it makes you feel better, I talked about it with Chris, and he said that if you really were getting all mopey about ‘leaving him behind,’ than you should remember the time that he placed a raw egg at the bottom of your backpack. And that time he put a spider egg in your sneakers.”
Robert shuddered as his father continued. “But the last thing he said was that you shouldn’t be such an idiot about this.”
Robert looked up, and made saw his father looking back at him. “Look, I know it’s hard, leaving everything behind. But you should go. After Christine’s friends leave, I want you to start packing your bags. And don’t worry – if you forget something, odds are you can buy it there.”
Robert nodded, and his father smiled. “C’mon, let’s go inside.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 01:24|
The reception was held in the back yard. Tiki torches illuminated the freshly cut grass, offering limited light on the heavily clouded day. Paul sat at a table where no one knew him, spoke to him, or took any particular notice of him. He came alone, and did not bring a gift. He was staring straight ahead, at the bridal table. At Jillian.
She had not left the table for the past two hours, and Paul’s gaze had not wavered. The DJ started the music, and the wedding party, save the newlyweds, got up to dance. Paul slowly pushed his chair out. Frank, the groom, whispered into Jillian’s ear and left the table. Paul quickly stood, smoothed out his jacket, and checked his pocket for the .38 snub nosed revolver. It was till there.
He moved across the lawn, never veering from his path. The dancers revolved around him, vibrant blurs gliding past his eyes. All he saw was Jillian. When he reached the table she was looking down at her phone. He slid his hand into his pocket.
“Jillian?” he said. She looked up and shared his gaze.
“Jillian,” Paul said, “you might not remember me, but”-
“Paul?” she said, and smiled. “I’m so happy you’re here. I didn’t get an RSVP from you. ”
“I wasn’t initially able to come,” he said, “but I had a change in my schedule. I called your mother to see if it would be a problem if I came. She said it would be fine.”
“Of course it is. Why didn’t you just call me?” she said. She stood and put her hand on his shoulder. “I would’ve told you the same. I’m glad to see you again.” She hugged him across the table. Paul stiffened and pulled his hand out of his pocket.
“I…I didn’t want to bother you,” he said.
“No bother,” she said, sitting back down. “It’s good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too,” he said. The song playing ended and a new one began. Paul continued staring at Jillian as her eyes wandered around the room. Paul slipped his hand back into his pocket. His hand gripped the butt of the revolver.
“Jillian, I-“ Paul’s words were interrupted by Frank’s return. He sat next to Jillian and kissed her before noticing Paul.
“Oh, hello,” Frank said. “I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I’m Frank.” He stood and held out his hand. Paul looked as Frank, and then shook his hand.
“I’m Paul,” he said.
“Paul’s an old friend,” Jillian said, turning her eyes to Paul. “He’s always looked out for me, ever since elementary school. In high school, if somebody broke my heart, I could always turn to Paul.”
“Is that right?” Frank said. Paul nodded.
“Well then let me shake your hand again,” Frank said. “Anyone who takes care of Jillian like that is a friend to me. It makes me sad we haven’t met sooner, Paul.”
“I had to go away for a while,” Paul said, turning his eyes to Jillian. She stopped smiling and turned her eyes to the ground. He slid his finger over the trigger.
“I wasn’t able to get you a wedding present,” Paul said, “but there was something I wanted to do for you.” He cocked the hammer back.
“What is it?” Jillian said. Paul looked back and forth from Jillian to Frank, both of them smiling at him. Paul took a deep breath. Another song started, and the crowd responded with an enthusiastic yell.
“I love this song!” Frank said. “Come on, Jillian. Let’s dance.”
“Let’s see what Paul wants to do for us first,” Jillian said. Frank sat back down, still smiling.
“You can see it later,” Paul said. “Enjoy your dance. It’s a lovely wedding.” He bowed, turned, and headed directly back to his table. He sat down kept his eyes on the centerpiece. He rocked back and forth, his hand gripping the pistol.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the DJ said. “It’s time for the dollar dance. Everyone line up for your chance to dance with the happy couple.” Everyone in the room stood and moved towards the bride and groom, except Paul. He went the other direction towards a grove of trees at the edge of the reception area. He stood behind the largest one, away from the music, beyond the reach of the torch light. He started crying. He pulled the pistol out of his pocket and placed it to his temple. The music swelled and the beat kicked in. Paul closed his eyes.
It started pouring. Rain pelted every surface of the yard. The bridal party and the guests ran into the house, shouting. Paul opened his eyes. He lowered the gun and turned back to the reception area to see it deserted. He looked at the pistol and dropped it to the ground.
“Congratulations,” he said, before walking off, deeper into the trees, leaving the wedding behind him.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 01:44|
This is my story; it is 1200 words. Read it as shown above and use this link for the fullsize if needed. The text below is simply for archival purposes. You're welcome!
a new study bible! fucked around with this message at 02:33 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 01:54|
Al dragged his feet through the grass, leaving divots in the grass, staining the tips of his leather shoes with mud. As he cleared the hill, the smells and sensations of the ocean hit him in the face. It stopped him.
Al turned around. Any excuse to look away.
“Um, hello!” Al said. “Alaysha, how are you?”
Alaysha was a young woman, twenty-five years younger than himself. She had a large bag slung over her shoulder. No doubt some wearable art project. Her vitality made him feel even older.
“Wow,” the young woman said. “You seem chipper, tonight. Are you happy with your refund, this year?”
Al must have been smiling, just a little bit. His hand went to his breast. Among a collection of pens was a piece of paper, neatly folded and tucked down at the bottom of his shirt pocket. He had forgotten about it. This small rediscovery brought a bit of joy to his wooden heart. It was the first time he had gotten it so early. He always seemed to bungle the process, somehow.
“Actually, I haven’t looked at it, yet,” Al said. “I figured I’d keep it a secret from myself as long as possible.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” said Alaysha, smiling. A pretty smile.
She walked past him, toward the beach. Al’s wooden heart felt like it could sprout tiny buds. But he reminded himself that she was simply nice, that they weren’t friends. He wasn’t capable of friendship. Not anymore.
He took a deep breath, trying to ignore the taste of the sea, and turned towards the water. The sun dipped below the clouds, touching the horizon, turning the water, and his face, red. A brief, optimistic moment before the profound, starless darkness to follow.
He focused on Alaysha’s back as he walked down the hill. The grass turned to dirt, the dirt to dry, powdery sand. His coworkers were gathered around tiki torches and a grille. They grew brighter as darkness began to fall. As he approached, the smell of the burning meat and torches filled his nostrils, banishing the smell of the sea.
Al joined the jovial community do-gooders, drinking generic cola and eating sausages. Pop music, obscured by the wind blowing past his ears, played from a small radio perched on a card table. He remained invisible, with the exception of the occasional furtive glance from Alaysha, which he made a concerted effort to not place any importance on. In fact, it was probably the shadows dancing that were fooling him. An illusion.
Two co workers playing grabass bumped into Al, causing his dixie cup of Orange Bubbly to splash over his face and stain his white, button-down shirt. They ran down the beach, shrinking in the distance.
Al pulled at the wad of napkins he tucked in his shirt pocket. It was stuffed tight, sharing the room with his pens, and when he tried to pull out one, everything came flying out. And his refund check when flying in the wind, towards the water.
It had been almost ten years since he could even look at the sea without getting sick, but his lust for extra spending money proved stronger. He chased the small slip of paper as it danced in the wind. He flew from the tips of his fingers as if it were alive, intentionally mocking him. His feet slipped through the loose stand, making every step difficult. He heard amused voices behind him, jeering. And one voice that was much closer, more ernest.
Alaysha passed Al, her legs springy with the power of youth and regular sessions at the gym. But her superior speed was no match for the check as it just as easily evaded her grasp. All three of them got closer and closer to the water. Their attempts to snatch the piece of paper from the air became more frantic.
His foot hit the water. The cold Atlantic stabbed his ankle like a knife made from ice. And then the memories came rushing back. His check was instantly forgotten. He could then see the ship he had traveled on, on that day. He could see the ghost. It was all he could remember. He had been afraid that it had been the beginning of some sort of psychotic break. But no. He hadn’t gone completely insane. Instead, the feeling of dread hung over him like a phantom. His new beginning had been soured, and now the town only knew him as someone who at best ignored, but more often reviled.
A hand grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him from the water, and out of his dark dream. The first thing he saw was his refund check, the second was a damp, smiling face.
“Got it!” said Alaysha, re-folding the check and putting it back in his shirt pocket.
“Thank you,” said Al, blinking.
“Let’s get back to the others. We’re going to do the awards ceremony!”
Al untucked his wet shirt, letting it flap around in the breeze. Alaysha was considerably wetter than him. When they rejoined the circle, Al noticed that people had noticed him. Some were still smirking at his mishap, others were mildly surprised anyone had helped him.
“It’s time for the SNCC Oscars ceremony!” shouted the current president.
The South Norworchester Community Ceremony loved these fake things. Al knew they loved to snub him any kind of “award”, as a way to spite him. He knew they would prefer if he didn’t come at all. His last job in his last town had things like this. He was the life of the party. Now he was the cancer the others consciously fought against.
This time was a little different. He was now catching furtive glances from others. He could feel something coming, not like his ghost at the sea, something real.
“Before we begin,” Alaysha said. “I made one for everyone.”
She didn’t just make ENOUGH masks, she made one for each member. Everyone gathered in a tight circle around Alaysha as she pulled out a mask and read the name written on the back.
When everyone but Al had a mask, Alaysha looked at him. Everyone else looked, too, but they had donned their masks already, their looks incredulity and smirking cruelness hid behind colorful animals and weird cartoon faces.
“Don’t look at yours, either,” Alaysha said.
A practical joke? Not her style, Al decided. He pulled the mask out without looking at the front and put it on. Immediately he felt invincible. Like a phantom. But not just invisible, or intangible. That was a feeling he had carried with him for nearly a decade. His wooden heart felt like it had bloomed with hundreds of flowers, like a bush that burned without ever being completely consumed.
A mix of hip-hop elements and a dubstep bass, began to play from the radio. Alaysha put on her mask. Through the slits on his mask, through the dancing shadows and the firelight, he couldn’t make out what it was. But he knew it was a match with his.
He grabbed her hand. “Let’s dance.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 02:11|
4+ BR, Gorgeous View (1194 words)
Belinda rearranged the flowers on the foyer table and deactivated the robotic attack wasps from the home security panel. She checked herself in the mirror by the door: her red jacket was immaculate, her pearl brooch set perfectly on her lapel.
The beat of a helicopter rose out of the quiet. Here were the first guests.
She was talking to a group of prospective buyers in the kitchen when the emergency lights on the walls started flashing red. “Intruder. Front door,” a computerized voice announced.
“Oh! Another guest!” She flashed a smile at the group. “Please excuse me.”
In the foyer, she pressed a button on the security panel. The bolts securing the front door withdrew with a whump, and the door swung open. A handsome man with dark hair and a salt-and-pepper goatee entered, and the door closed behind him.
“Welcome, and thank you so much for coming!” she extended a hand. “My name is Belinda. I’m the realtor.”
The man shook her hand. He spoke with an accent she couldn’t place. “I am Sirius, of Aldebaran. I am pleased to arrive.”
“It is an exciting property, isn’t it?” she asked. She picked up a clipboard from the table. “This is our fact sheet about the house -- square footage, features, history.” She flipped the page over. “I’ve also included a short form beneath where you can provide information about yourself, if you’d like to stay in contact. No pressure!”
Sirius took the clipboard, then handed it back a few seconds later, the form filled with strange glyphs. Belinda felt a faraway pull as she examined them.
Sirius cleared his throat. “I do not suggest reading that. Is the owner present?”
“I’m afraid not, no. He’s on an extended leave for business. That’s why he’s selling, actually.”
“Yes, it really is,” she nodded. “But it’s also your gain! There aren’t many homes with an exterior climate system!” She gestured at the window next to the door. The lawn was spotless, blades of grass glinting in the sunlight. Beyond it, stormclouds partially obscured the crags of the Alaskan Rockies. “Weather’s great all year round!”
Sirius peered out the window. “And what of the settlements nearby?”
“Your nearest neighbors would be a small resort about fifty miles away. It’s perfect for someone who needs time to himself!”
Sirius stroked his goatee. “I will need much time to myself. I have many plans.”
“Boy, you’re telling me!” she laughed, and touched his arm. It felt cold. “My husband has been working on our house ever since we moved in. He thinks he’s a master architect. Now come, let me give you the tour,” she said, leading him down the hallway. “Do you have any kids?”
“I have many. They are in the stars, waiting. They will join me, one day.” He let out a low chuckle.
“Well, then you’ll love the guest bedrooms!”
This house drew the most interesting buyers. Belinda had learned quite a lot from chatting with them: gene splicing, deep sea construction, volcanology.
Her phone dinged. Belinda excused herself from the young, crimson-clad couple she was showing and walked down the hall past the entrance, towards the den. Her husband had texted her.
“How’s it going?”
“Lots of guests!!” she typed. “Offers are really high! Told you this would be good for us.”
“Still not a fan. Who would live out there?”
“Plenty so far!” She sent a follow up. “Don’t worry!! Once this place settles we can get our house back, pay the doctors.”
“I know. It’s okay.”
His next message had a photo attached. “Dasha says hi!” He had taken a selfie with their adopted daughter, sitting in her parents’ living room. Her daughter had a knit cap over her bald head.
“Love you guys!” she replied.
On her way back, she gave wide berth to the trap door that led to the reactor core in the second sub-basement.
Belinda was entertaining three remaining guests in the den. This room was the centerpiece -- it was a curved overlook cut into the mountain, stainless steel floors and ceilings. Mid-century white furniture faced the panorama windows, a glacier flowing two hundred feet below. Belinda had set a pitcher of water and a few glasses on the table in the center.
A squirrelly, stout man named Moses was asking questions about the recreation wing. “And - and the pool? The pool is, it works?”
“It sure does!” said Belinda. “It’s saltwater, in fact, and olympic sized, although the owner didn’t use it for swimming. I believe he keeps sharks.”
“Oh, grand!” said Moses, rubbing his hands together and doing a little hop. “Do they - do the sharks come with it?”
“You might have to ask the owner about that,” said Belinda.
“I do love creatures. And animals. They always do just what you tell them. Just that! But not people. People are so unreliable,” he spat.
“I agree,” said Sirius. “I find the indigenous race to be unsavory. When my children arrive, we will cleanse them.” He turned to Belinda. “I do not mean to offend you.”
“Oh no! Not at all!” She laughed nervously. “But I’m from Idaho, I’m not Inuit.”
“You misunderstand me,” said Sirius. “But perhaps for the better. Tell me of the telescope.”
“Well, the owner was very big into astronomy. I’m told he even worked on one of the missions to the Moon! The outbuilding has a large telescope on the--”
A jet screamed overhead, drowning out her words, followed by more aircraft in the distance. A voice boomed above and around them.
“Attention. This is the Council of Earth. This property has been seized for connections to crimes against humanity.”
Sirius apologized, and disappeared into an impossible slash of purple light. The third guest, a woman named Safara, cursed and ran to the window.
“The Council!” Moses growled. “Here to cage me again!” His teeth looked sharper. He had a beard now.
“What is --” A high whine cut through Belinda’s thoughts, and she clapped her hands to her ears. The pitcher of water on the table shattered, followed by the windows as a squad of dark-uniformed men and women flew in from below on grappling hooks.
Safara, blinded by the glass, cried out in rage. Flames erupted from her hands and engulfed the man who had landed next to her. Another raised his weapon at Safara, and fired.
Belinda turned and ran for the entrance. Behind her, the sound of a raging animal tore through gunfire. The trap door in the hallway opened under her feet.
She awoke in the sub-basement reactor core, her body tingling, her vision surrounded by a faint blue glow.
“Ma’am! Ma’am!” Men in yellow suits walked slowly towards her. “Are you alright?”
Her commission was gone, along with any hope for her daughter. These men did this to her.
The tingling intensified, became electric. She was electric. And there they were. Power coursed through her body, channeling to her hands. The smell of ozone and just-baked cookies filled the room as she stood up, feeling more alive than ever before. Belinda cackled as voltage leapt from her hand.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 02:40|
The hall stank of sweat and vomit. The soldiers who filled it were supplied with endless wine and opium, they supplied endless noise and disruption in return. When Lars finally entered, flanked by the Kings own praetorian guard the crowd turned as one and cheered. He raised his hands and waved to the men that had gathered to see him off. The hall seemed to shake as the guards pushed him through the crowd, Lars did his best to shake the hands of those who reached out for him but the guards moved too swiftly for him.
They stopped only when General Mettius burst from the crowd, his white robe stained red with wine, one hand holding a goblet, the other his golden pipe fashioned in the shape of a snake. Mettius reached out to shake his hand, dropping the goblet as if it had simply stopped existing. Lars tried his best to smile as he took it.
Mettius spat his words in-between sucks on his pipe.
"...You do have it memorized... Than without them... loving dead haha!" Lars could only nod at him and smile. "Not that we're not formidable... Than last time but still more than we could muster... Than turned rear end upwards!"
Before Lars' could respond, Mettius shuffled away, caught up in a fresh laughing fit. Behind him came Renius, and Lars felt his smile come much easier. The guards parted once more for him, not because of rank but for his position in the ceremony. He carried a golden chalice, filled with watered down wine.
"Your father would be proud." Renius said, moving to walk beside him as the Praetorian guard resumed their march through the hall. "It is an honour to bear your cup-..." They both had to pause to prevent laughing, and Renius had already drank too much to prevent himself. The guards shot them both dirty looks when Renius began to laugh as loud as Mettius had, his own rank not high enough to compensate a lack of piety. "Oh to hell with the ceremony, the God's already know my devotion to this man!" He said, as the guards opened the doors of the grand hall, the cold night air flooding in and sending a chill through the crowd behind them.
"I knew they'd pick you, because you're real pious, you can trust a pious man." The guard turned and formed a line, preventing the crowd from following further. Renius stayed with him until they reached his horse, who stood at the edge of the sheer cliff as if peering down into the endless fog below. The mare was pure white, and stood impressive as any steed Lars had ever seen. He had never ridden a King's horse before.
Renius handed Lars the cup, and he drank deep from it. He could barely taste wine for water, but he knew it was because he had to remember his message. A long and dangerous journey awaited, and he could not write down the words the King had given him, lest they be taken from his corpse.
"Servilla is with the children." Renius said, "she could not bear to be here. I tried to convince her, but she would not have it. She has never loved the Gods as much as she loves you."
Lars smiled, and returned the cup. He had so much to say, but the priest had taken his tongue.
"Put in a good word for me when you meet Mars. And if he refuses our call, tell him I will kill him for taking you without cause" Renius cleared his throat, and turned from him. "You must go." His voice broke as he walked away.
The wind began to replace the silence as Lars turned to mount his horse. The white abyss before him called, he drove the horse forward.
The mount didn't hesitate, Lars wondered if she knew the Gods were waiting.
As they left the cliff his heart leapt into his throat, and dread overtook pride as they rode downwards into the clouds below.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 03:02|
Echo and the Bunnymen’s screaming through your mind, “in starlit nights I saw you”, and you hum along despite your better judgement.
The text came in an hour ago. “Eclipse tonight, know anywhere good to watch it from?” You panicked and named the park where you work. There’s no good place to watch it from there, but you’re too new to town to know any actually good vantage points. “Eclipse party woo” comes back to your phone, sealing your fate.
They text you while you wait in the large shadow of an oak. You don’t read the message; you track them by the soft blue glow of their screen.
“You made it.” Your breath fogs the night air, and you’re glad you brought every blanket you could find.
“Yeah. This place is pretty nice. Where’s the best spot to watch this eclipse?”
You look around. For a park, there doesn’t seem to be that many great places to lay out and watch the sky. There’s a group off in the distance, stoking a bonfire, and you’d rather avoid them. Eventually, you settle for behind a building in a flat patch of grass and clover.
The blankets are out, and you’re both on them, curled up against each other, against the cold. Your hand is over their chest, and it moves with their words.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blood moon before. Have you?”
The phrase ‘blood moon’ hits your ears and you smile. “No, I don’t think so. They’re pretty rare I thought?”
“There’s supposed to be like four of them in the next year and a half or something crazy like that. I guess one time there were none for like 300 years, and now we get four? Probably global warming.” They laugh and you laugh with them, your chests trembling together in amusement.
Clouds trawl across the sky, briefly blocking the moon from sight. Your conversation winds from movies to musicals, touching back to the moon as it appears between wisps of cloud cover. The eclipse was supposed to start at 10, but it’s 11 now and you’re looking at an untouched moon. You wind together tighter, waiting for first contact.
It happens, a tiny sliver of red against the cold bright of the moon. The night seems warmer now, despite the shiver from the chest next to yours.
“Are you cold?”
“No, I’m fine. Okay, yeah. Come closer, you’re helping.”
Your face winds up against their neck, and their jugular throbs beneath your lips. You kiss their pulse, and they sigh. You kiss it again, and their grip on you tightens, sealing their fate.
They’re pinned beneath your soft weight now, hands in your hair, your lips still tracing their neck. Your tongue explores the outline, and their heart races below you. Gentle teeth nip at their collarbone, and they’re yours.
Their pulse is faster now, and your teeth are no longer gentle. You bite, hard, and you taste molten salt in your throat.
“Wait, that hurts. Hold up, just…”
You bite again, centered, and they’re quiet. Your tongue moves quickly, lapping the warm blood before the gaze of the moon can chill it.
The moon reaches greatest eclipse, and they’re beneath you, as white as the eclipse is red. You lick your lips and begin to roll the blankets you brought around them, their pale frame enveloped in microfleece. The river that runs behind this field swallows them readily, and the copper moon provides ample light for you to make your way back to the field.
Beneath the moon, you check the field for anything you may have missed. Your hip buzzes: another text.
“Are you seeing this? Check out the eclipse!”
You smile. Greatest eclipse is supposed to last for another hour, you think. You might as well keep the party going.
You sing quietly, “so cruelly you kissed me, your lips a magic world…”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 03:20|
Soldiers had dragged Ronya from the keep's root cellar and thrown her, gagged and bound, into the wagon that held the goods sacked from her kitchen. It had carried her away from the smoke and the stench of blood and spilled bowels, but as the loot convoy slowed--as the shouts of General Thaksiri's men became clear--she smelled blood again, and such meat roasting on hasty pyres as she would never cook.
A man in boiled leather seized her arm and hauled her out; she fell to the dirt. He cut her bonds, knocked her into a daze when she fought him, and pulled her onto her feet. Methodically, he stripped and searched her. He dragged a sleeveless brown shift over her head. Ronya clawed at his hands, and his backhand split her lip.
The man marched her toward a tent that seeped more smoke from its top. Heavy footfalls told her other men were following.
A soldier in chain mail waited inside, along with an oven.
"Ronya of Kamon," her custodian said. He shoved her forward. "Your problem now, Naras."
She staggered, and the soldier in chain--Naras--caught her by the bicep. His fingers dug into the soft flesh there. Like the other invaders, he was wiry and dark haired, with nothing in the set of his thin mouth to suggest empathy. Around them, men from the convoy stacked up boxes, bags, and barrels the contents of which she knew.
Naras took a rag from his pocket and swiped it across her bloody mouth and chin. "We have other prisoners. If you fight, we'll kill them as well as you."
"I won't." The words tasted as foul as the cloth.
"The general stayed for a time in Kamon, years ago. Perhaps you don't remember. But he enjoyed your food enough that he's spared you to cook his victory feast."
The makeshift kitchen included a barrel of fresh water with a basin and soap beside it, and under Naras's watch--the other men had gone to join their brothers--Ronya scoured her hands. She chose pots from the haphazard pile laid on top of a crate of salted fish. She picked out a bottle of red wine from another box and met Naras's eyes as she took a swig.
Ronya fed wood to the stove until sweat broke out on her skin. She dug onions, garlic cloves, and bundles of lemongrass from their boxes and minced them. The knife bit into her finger, staining the pale lemongrass the same color as the battlefield outside. It hurt. How could it hurt? Shouldn't she be beyond hurting?
Then she saw, jumbled in with her powdered chilies, the fruit preserves Gaen had helped her make in the autumn. Her husband's handwriting on the labels blurred as her eyes filled. The tears fell into her widest pan and disappeared in puffs of steam.
Flames caressed the outside of the cast iron pan; she tipped it, and the fire tumbled inside, there and gone. She scrambled potted chicken with the herbs and vegetables, in wine. Spatters of hot oil blistered her arms. Ronya fueled her cooking with that pain, and with the rest: each chop of her knife was aimed at the neck of the invader who'd killed Gaen, at least in her own mind; each burst of fire was for their homes, their corpses; she shredded pork as she would have liked to shred the man who stood there and ordered her to taste this, taste that, prove she wasn't poisoning a legion that deserved it.
Runner boys collected the finished dishes and took them outside, and the laughter of the party kept her food well salted with sorrow and rage.
Until it faded. Then stopped.
Until a different tone of roar replaced it.
The screams were all too familiar, the cries of men killing men, veined with despair. Thaksiri's voice was loudest of all. Naras ran to the opening of the tent, but Ronya stayed at the stove doing what she did best: putting her heart into her food.
It didn't take long for a wild-eyed soldier to shove his way in. With his knife drawn and sauce on his lips, he lunged for Ronya. Naras grabbed him. "She's done nothing!" Naras shouted. "I watched her!"
The soldier, his belly full of Ronya's hate, threw Naras off and cut his throat so that he had no further chance to protest. Ronya felt regret, too late.
She did not regret the knife in her heart, for as she had fed Thaksiri's men her desire for their deaths, she had fed them too her grieving wish for her own.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 03:22|
Domini Cannes – The Dogs of God
“Bless it, Father, that’s too many today,” I said. I knew I was complaining, but there is a point past which even the ‘dogs of god’ cannot bow to the trace any longer.
“There’s a war on, John, haven’t you heard?” My mentor was a huge man, even with his graying hair he more resembled the might of Goliath than our bookish founder, St. Dominic. Father Augustus Judd and I were traveling south toward the border of East Prussia and Poland, on orders from the Holy See that Fr. Judd knew, but I didn’t. Along the way, we had performed baptisms, confessions, last rights, and far too many funerals. With most Prussians fighting the Germans or the Lithuanians, those left behind were either old, sick, female, or all three. This left few strong backs available for grave-digging when someone passed away. So whose hands were covered in blisters from shoveling all day for a week?
My name is Fr. John Martin, Dominican priest.
Father Judd tapped his spade on the pile of earth. “This should keep him at rest,” he said, looking up, “even if it rains tonight.”
I dropped my own spade gratefully. “Then we’re back to the village for supper and a bed, before the rain? Prussian funerals aren’t parties like Russian funerals, but still…”
Fr. Judd laughed. “No, boy, rain’s the best time for walking! It keeps you cool.”
It was autumn, and getting colder. I sighed and picked up my shovel, which felt heavier than before. “Where to tonight then?” I asked.
“Over the border. Dr. Bloch should be expecting us.”
“Tonight? But the soldiers just came through this morning!”
“It’s as good a time as any. The rain will help. Remember to cover the papers in oilcloth before we leave.”
The rain will be frigid, I thought, and no one cares about the Vatican passports. They can all see that we’re priests. All I did was heft my shovel and follow him back to town.
There were two loaves of bread, a pair of hand-beaded rosaries, and no good-byes when we left. It got dark as we walked, and I knew we were truly in God’s hands when Fr. Judd turned off the road into the woods. A few minutes later, it started raining.
The night passed slowly until we heard the dogs. Then we ran.
“Faster John!” Fr. Judd said through the rain.
“Where?” I tried to ask, panting. The dogs seemed to be both coming closer and fading away all at once.
“Ahead,” was the only answer I got. We kept running.
Three lights emerged from between the trees. A village or an army post, we had no way of knowing. I didn’t have the breath to ask Fr. Judd if it was safe. I heard the dogs coming closer.
I followed the giant shadow of my mentor to our left. A house, horses in a three-sided barn, three lights in a window. The door opened and closed and we were inside with half a dozen other bodies. Women, children, and a few boys my own age still growing into their beards were seated on the floor. Two were piled on top of each other, obviously dead. Two others sat in chairs. I thought I could hear the howls fading.
“Father Augustus Judd?” a man asked. He had a straight beard and a professor’s manners. There was a six pointed star sewn onto his sleeve.
“By God’s will,” Fr. Judd answered, still dignified even dripping wet. “Are you Dr. Josef Bloch?”
The man stood. “I am. This is my wife, Miriam,” he said, placing a hand on the shoulder of the woman sitting next to him. Her dark hair and headscarf gave it away before he could say it. “This is her family. They are Romani.”
“Gy-gypsy,” I stammered.
Fr. Judd processed this better than I. “Very good, Doctor. We are here on behalf of your sister, Mother Mary Bloch, and the Holy Vatican, to rescue you. John, the papers.”
I was lost.
“John, the passports,” he said.
I handed over the little bundle I’d tucked in my inside coat pocket. Vatican passports – now I understood.
Dr. Bloch smiled. “And how do you intend to do this? The border guards are not so stupid as to count two passports but seven people, and no one can outrun their dogs.” Dogs that sounded like they were right outside the window.
Fr. Judd looked around, thought for a minute, then said, "We have need of a pair of shovels and some bedsheets. Are the horses and wagon outside yours?”
“My family’s,” Miriam said. “What would you do with them?”
“Lady, I would have them save our lives. Doctor, the shovels? And take off your coat.”
“Right, here.” The doctor reached toward the fireplace for a heavy spade and a pickaxe.
Fr. Judd took them. “Wrap everyone in the sheets and put them in the wagon, if you would.”
Five minutes later Fr. Judd was at the reins of two cart horses with a doctor, a gypsy, two dead bodies and five living ones in the back, the last seven wrapped in sheets. I walked at the horses’ heads as we made our way into town. The sounds of dogs were all around us. They seemed to be everywhere, as numerous as their border guard handlers.
When we finally reached the gate in the fence that served as a border, Fr. Judd produced our papers and the Vatican passports. An officer wearing the SS on his sleeve looked into the wagon. “Who’re you carrying, priest?”
“Two of God’s children, and seven of his lost ones,” Fr. Judd answered. “Their family is of my order, and they wish to be brought to the Holy City.”
“And who are you?” the officer asked Dr. Bloch.
The doctor held up his hands. A rosary, one of the ones given to us in the last village, dangled from his wrist. “I heal the sick, officer, that is all. Sometimes I fail.” He lifted the sheet off the face of one of the bodies. I only hoped he knew which were breathing and which weren’t.
The officer took his time, looking over the bodies and burying tools. I still and hoped he didn’t hear my teeth chattering.
Finally he nodded. “Alright. Bury them before they start to stink. God speed, Father.”
“Thank you, officer.”
We walked into Poland.
“So, John!” Fr. Judd said. “How about that supper and a warm bed?”
I laughed. “No, Father! Hadn’t you heard? Rain’s good for walking!”
We found an inn and helped the Romani family unwrap themselves from their bedsheets.
“Dr. Bloch, would you and your wife join us for a drink? To remember your loved ones, and welcome you to your new freedom?”
“I’d be honored,” the Doctor said. It was either rain or tears, but his face was wet when we stepped inside.
“Now we can give them a true funeral, Jaemelle and Durkin,” Miriam said. “A celebration of their lives.”
“There you are, John. You’ll get your party after all,” Fr. Judd said, laughing. “You might as well be at one now! Two priests, a jew, and a gypsy walk into a bar…”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 03:32|
Murky Waters - 780
The entire family gathered on the lawn for the final part of the wake. The sun had started to set and the low rumble of the plane could be heard in the distance. Walter squinted hard against the sky, he hoped to be first to see his Uncle Roger in the sky.
“Lemonade dear?” His Aunt Maria asked.
“No thank you ma’am,” Walter said and turned back towards the sun.
“Starving yourself isn’t going to bring them back Walt,” she said and turned away.
Maria acted the perfect hostess that entire weekend. It was her house on Pebble Lake after all, something she took quite a bit of pride in. Only ten minutes from Lake Michigan. A flash of her temper was seen when Walter asked, why not just live there instead?
When it came time to spread the ashes no one could decide on what to do. Walter’s dad Mike had wanted to just throw the ashes in a lake, grandpa had been a sailor and he thought it would be make sense for him to return. Mike’s younger brother Henry fought Mike on every decision they had to make about their father.
“It’ll just look like muddy water,” Henry said.
Henry thought they should have Roger fly over the wake and throw the ashes out, mix them with glitter so they’d sparkle in the day. For a year and a half they disagreed until they finally settled on having a plane fly over a lake.
Costs to do this at Lake Michigan were too high so Henry, Mike, and Roger went to their Aunt Maria to ask her if they could use her home for the memorial. Maria was ecstatic that they would come ask her for this. She only had one condition. Her husband need to be scattered across the sky as well.
“I’m not mixing my dad’s ashes with that pervert,” Henry angrily spat.
Mike and Roger wanted to agree with their brother, but they kept up their appearance and asked her if she could think of anything else they could do. Maria went off on a long tirade about how this family had always conspired against her; that her husband was guilty before he was even convicted in their eyes.
“Maybe he should have kept out of those high schools th-,” Henry was cut off by a porcelain mug that smashed into his nose. A piece of shrapnel cut his nostril, the loose skin waved back and forth like a flag as he screamed.
The plane was visible now. Mike yelled to have the music turned down and most everyone stood up from their plates to watch the descent. Henry gave Walter a squeeze as he passed by. The pink line that ran up his nose was hard to see from it’s deep red color. Walter had botched the reading of his grandpa’s eulogy earlier in the weekend and Henry had been very cross with him.This was his apology.
“Suppose that just goes to show you no amount of private school and tutors can teach you respect.”
The plane was in front of them of now. It slowed to a crawl and Roger opened the door. Cameras at the ready they waited for the sky to shine. Everyone murmured when the plane broke off. What had happened to the ashes?
Henry walked over to Mike and the two started to shout in hushed tones. Walter just watched the plane ready for its landing. With the pontoons slightly raised, Roger set the plane down on lake and taxied over to the dock. The sound overtook any conversation that had been going on. The plane went quiet when it finally docked.
Roger stepped out of the plane. From head to toe he was covered in ash and glitter.He pulled the goggles on top of his head and looked up at everyone. He started to laugh. With each shake ash would sift down from him. No one quite knew what to do. Maria had fled into the house because she needed to gag. Henry and Mike just stared at their brother. Everyone else was frozen. They waited for one of them to make a move.
Roger turned and jumped off the dock. Walter started after him. His feet soared a top the lawn, the dock clanged and clattered under him. The water ahead of him shone and sparkled. He dove in.
When he went up for air Walter saw Mike and Henry racing to the end of the dock, they pushed and laughed. The rest of the family looked on in disgust as the four of them played chicken in the ashes of two dead men.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 03:35|
You chucklemucks have THREE HOURS to party before the cops break it up.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 04:01|
It took Sister Mary Margaret half an hour to find a brick large enough to smash open the window to the priest’s car. Another hour she spent cracking open the steering wheel, fumbling with the wires, trying to ignore the car’s blaring siren. A parishioner had exited the church, looking for the noise’s source before seeing her and retreating back inside. Her hands shook as she grabbed hold of the wire cutters.
“Have you tried the green wire yet?” Asked the Archangel Raphael, stretching one of its many wings in boredom, “I definitely think you should try the green wire.”
She closed her eyes and bit her lip, trying to remain calm. The angel had given the same suggestion for the last ten minutes.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t seen any wire like that.”
The angel shrugged and leaned against the door. “Not sure why you’re apologizing. It’s not your car.” Raphael cocked its head. “Anyways, you’ve got like ten minutes before Father Sullivan comes out or the police get here. I’ve seen every eventuality and there is not one that ends well with you standing here.”
Sister Margaret grunted, rolling back her sleeves and shoving the wire cutters back under the steering column. She had dressed in full habit and gown, expecting only to corral some fussy toddlers into the pews and attend an awful post-mass Easter brunch. Instead, a choir of trumpets and cherubim had descended into her office, interrupting her preparations for mass. Fire had split the floor asunder while the phone rang out a litany to the Communion of Saints. She had screamed, toppling her desk as the Archangel Raphael oozed into existence, screaming, “FEAR NOT: FOR BEHOLD, I AM ABOUT TO TAKE YOU TO A SWEET PARTY.”
Her mouth had hung open. Either she was having a stroke or a psychotic break. Archangels did not appear asking to be chauffeured to parties, nor did they talk as freely as the figure before her. Nonetheless, she had listened to Raphael’s request in a half-daze, interrupting only for clarification.
“So, uh, what exactly is the occasion?” She had asked, staring up at the being’s incomprehensible face.
The angel had rolled its eyes, “Well, it’s Easter. I’m sure you can put two and two together on this one, Sister.”
“Oh.” She had said, “And where do you need to go, exactly?”
“There’s a portal to heaven a few miles away in Elysium. We just need to get a ride down there, preferably in the coolest way possible.”
Lacking any means of transportation herself Sister Margaret Googled “how to hotwire a car” and went out to collect the necessary tools. There had not been any other way to fulfill the angel’s request.
Sister Mary Margaret wrapped two unmarked wires together and the alarm stopped mid-honk, replaced by the distant whales of police sirens. Another twist and the engine roared to life. She leaned over the steering wheel and smiled. The Archangel seemed just as pleased, giving her the thumbs up. Sister Mary Margaret floored the gas pedal. The car skidded out of the church parking lot onto the main road.
“Awesome.” Said the Archangel, unfazed by her driving, “I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but thanks for helping me out. I really didn’t want to have to fly in this year. That’s just so cliché. Metatron would never shut up about it.”
Cars swerved to let her pass, she was a latter day Moses parting the seas. The sirens seemed closer now. They had ten miles to Elysium.
“God always loves a good entrance. Exodus 24:9-11,” said Sister Margaret, adjusting her habit as it flapped in the wind. Behind her she could just make out the dim glow of red and blue lights. Her stomach roiled and blood pumped in her veins.
“Exactly. I mean, you got it right on the money there. How stoked is Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, going to be to see me pull up in a stolen vehicle driven by a Saint? Not your regular, lowercase saint but an honest-to-God, Church approved, uppercase Saint!”
Sister Mary Margaret turned to the Archangel, “You really think I’ll get to be a Saint?” She knew the process toward sainthood and that her actions were clear grounds for disqualification. Yet, some part of her relented. She had not felt this young in years. “Is that something that happens after this?”
The Archangel nodded, “Oh yeah, totally. I can totally see you being Saint of Carjackings. At least in some version of reality. Free will and causality are a real pain. If it happens, we’ll have to celebrate.”
There was no time to process these remarks. A helicopter swung low overhead, chopping the air. A police car veered across the median, throwing thick chunks of grass and dirt onto the roadway. The officer pulled alongside her, shouting instructions. The Archangel waved and rolled up its window.
“Not much farther now. You are going to want to take this next exit.”
She turned into the exit, grinding against the police car and causing the driver to almost lose control of his vehicle. They were now in a small forest, there was a small lake in the distance, the welcome sign to Elysium was almost hidden by brush. The helicopter was forced to end its pursuit for fear by the trees. It swung off toward an unknown destination.
“Turn right at the next intersection and go about half a mile. Then, we’ll be there. You’ve done just great, Sister.”
The stolen vehicle stopped in front of a small cottage, music pounding against the walls. Out on the front lawn, someone had mounted a sign reading, “THE LORD IS RISEN.” Easter rabbits decorated the roof. The area was otherwise empty.
“Yeah, I know. It doesn’t look like much. It’s really just a gate. Trust me though, everyone was watching that entrance. Omnipresence has its perks.” The Archangel faded through the door. “Come on, let’s get going before the police arrive.”
She left the car and made her way toward the door. Heart pounding in her chest, she followed the Archangel Raphael inside. It was a pretty sweet party.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 04:27|
Thunderdome LXXXIX: We Don’t Need No Water, Let The drat Roof Burn
The Arboretum - 1200 Words
Felix looked around cautiously one more time before he wiped a circle in the foggy glass pane and peered inside. The green field far below was brightly lit and full of flower beds and tall trees, but they were little more than specks of color from this height. Felix leaned back and sighed. After so many nights looking in, he wanted more.
A loud pop drew his attention to the next row of greenhouse glass as a pane exploded and a figure swung out just as klaxons began to wail. The ubiquitous neon lights of NeoDetroit played out over the person, highlighting their black outfit in a series of oranges, greens and blues, but Felix couldn’t make out any details at this distance. Even at 3 AM on one of the highest buildings in the city, it was impossible to get away from the lights. Felix scrambled back on his knees, scraping them on the rough, unfinished roof. The figure looked over at him and hesitated, then broke into a run as a door clanged open and security poured out onto the rooftop.
They wouldn’t care he was just a trespasser, not their true quarry. Felix scrambled to his feet and stumbled into a run. He could see his auto-zipline hooked to the rim of the rusted fire exit and desperately lunged for it, only to realize it had already been triggered, the hookup already somewhere one hundred stories or so below. He cursed and looked around in a panic. What a fool he was, coming up here all of these nights. He’d be sent to neuro rehab and…
Felix looked around, confused.
“You just giving up or what?” said a patch of darkness.
Felix darted towards the voice and got into the shadows just as security rounded the corner of a massive air conditioner. A hand clapped firmly over his mouth. It smelled like wonderful mulch.
“poo poo!” said one of the men as they saw his zipline. “He’s already blown his line!” The man drew a vibroknife and thumbed it on, the sound of the rapid vibrations carrying clearly in the night air. The man slashed at the line and cleanly severed the tightly bundled wires. Felix gulped, imaging the long fall he would have been in for if the hookup had actually been there.
“Vox downstairs, make sure he didn’t make it down in one piece,” said the man to another guard as he switched off the knife.
Felix shuddered as the men laughed grimly and walked away. After a minute or two of silence, the voice said “If I take my hand off your mouth, will you be a good boy and stay quiet?”
Felix nodded and the hand withdrew, taking its wonderful earthy smells with it. This close, he could tell that the person was female, covered head to toe in a tight black matte bodysuit. She unhinged her mask and grinned at him. “They always think I’m a dude. Works for me! And you’re welcome.”
Felix stammered his thanks as she walked over to the edge of the roof and fired off her own zipline over to the next building. She turned, and beckoned to him with one eyebrow raised. “Well, you coming or not?”
Felix walked over to her. “They’re going to catch us. We’re all over this roof,” he said. Why did he ever start to come here?
She laughed and tossed a little ball high into the air. It burst apart and tiny filaments rained down like a cloud descending on the roof. “Now the DNA of a few hundred thousand other people are up here also.” She winked at him. “Hold on tight to me. Or will that be a problem?” she said. Felix flushed, grabbed her around her waist and they shot off into the multi-colored night.
“I’m Samantha,” she said, as she tossed her hood into the back seat of her car with a flick of her wrist. The passing neon lights played its hues over her hair, blonde and bouncy, making it a brilliant kaleidoscope of color. “But everyone calls me Sam anyways.” She sighed dramatically.
“Felix,” he said automatically. “Look, just let me off anywhere, and I’ll go hide for the next month.”
“Such a downer, Felix. Maybe this will cheer you up,” she said as she reached into a massive pocket in her pants and pulled out a small bush, barely half a foot tall. A goofy grin appeared on Felix’s face.
“Wow, that’s incredible!” said Felix. She pushed it towards him but he shied away from it as if it was a newborn being shoved onto his lap.
“It won’t bite,” Sam said, then frowned playfully. “At least, I don’t think this one does!”
Felix reverently accepted the plant. His eyes sparkled as he devoured every little detail. Reality set in and he looked back up to Sam. “You stole a plant,” he said.
“Yup!” she said, grinning at him.
“No, I mean you stole a loving plant!” he said.
“It’s not worth it, holding it now?” she said.
Felix looked back down at the plant and chewed on his lip. “If we’re caught, it’s not just rehab, we’ll be scrambled.”
“That’s not an answer,” said Sam.
Felix looked back up at her, one hand gently stroking the surface of a leaf, and smiled. “It’s worth it.”
She turned into a side alley, then took a quick turn into a rapidly opening door. “Knew you’d say that!” she said, as fire exploded around them.
Felix jerked back in his chair. Sam broke into laughter. “Sorry, should have warned you, but it’s too much fun! Scourging the car of any unwelcome nanites.”
Sam nudged the car forward until a torrent of water crashed down on them. Felix jerked slightly less violently this time. “Short-circuiting anything left,” she said, and continued forward through a narrow tunnel.
“I didn’t just randomly save you, you know,” Sam said as she took the plant back from Felix.
“No?” Felix said.
“I was casing the area for a couple weeks and saw you every night, like clockwork. How long had you been coming there?” said Sam.
“A few months,” admitted Felix. “It’s what kept me going, you know? Everything around here is either grey or gaudy. And those bastards keep the Arboreum just for themselves!” said Felix.
“I knew it was right to save you,” said Sam, as the car exited the tunnel into a large warehouse. A small verdant field spread out before him, a grassy area with just a few scattered trees and bushes. It was nothing compared to the Arboreum. It was perfect. People were grouped in the middle, gathered around several tables heaped with food and lit by soft lights. Sam popped the car doors and gentle music floated out from the gathering to reach Sam and Felix.
“So what do you think, Felix? Isn’t it just grand?” said Sam as she looked over the interior of the warehouse.
“Thank you, Samantha,” said Felix, tears in his eyes as he looked from the field to her. She smiled back, true warmth radiating from her, grabbed his hand, and they both ran to join the others.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 04:45|
Before he died, Sanders Noonan insisted that his service take place in the church above the group home in which he lived as a child. There would be no traditional funeral — as per his request, there would be only an Irish wake, followed by his cremation. “Life,” he said, “even the snuffing of life, is a momentous occasion. Let the grief come later, let the grief come when the bereaved are all alone with some privacy. And for god’s sake, make sure everyone leaves my wake drunk enough to go home and make love.” They fought him over having an open bar in the church itself but on the day of, a small catering company was led in through the back and filled a pew nearest the organ with bottles of vodka, brown spiced rums and whiskeys.
Crowds congregated through the the parking lots, the church, the steps, heads of young and old hair stood underneath a contemporary marquee that hung lightly above the porch to the church. They funnelled in, but not into seats, choosing to stay standing and socialize with one another, making the whole thing much more casual than any of them had anticipated. An hour after after people arrived and drinks upon drinks were served or spilled into the old oak floor, Sanders’ daughter Elizabeth, having herself just finished a whiskey served neat, stood at the pulpit.
“Excuse me,” she said, “Excuse me.”
Some bodies near the bema turned and began to listen to Elizabeth. To others her voice got lost in the crowd and kerfuffle of the party.
“I’m sure my father would be a little disappointed at… well, at anything less than me standing up here for hours, telling his stories that I’m sure you’ve all heard time and time again.”
The crowd laughed.
“But he also wanted all of you to get very drunk, and I’d like to get very drunk, that’s for sure — I’m already halfway there, so, I’m going to keep this as brief as I can, because it looks like his wish is going to be fulfilled. My father was a bit of a silly character. He was born here, lived right underneath where we are now, but he spent years out east working up and down the coast as a stevedore. I see some of his old friends here, from those days, and I want to thank you all for coming so far west…”
In back near the porch, two old co-workers of Noonan’s finished a shot of rye while Elizabeth delivered her speech.
“I—I gotta piss,” one said.
“Then go to the bathroom.”
“There ain’t no bathroom.”
“Nah… You’re kiddin’ me.”
“You got any idea how old this place is? People mustn’t a had bladders back when this place was built.”
“You don’t think people had bladders back then.”
“Who knows? Evolution.”
“… Yeah. Okay. Piss in that plant, then.”
And so he stumbled and pissed into an old potted plant. No one seemed to take much notice, but a young woman ran back and threw up into the same potted plant almost immediately after it was laced in urine.
“… but it was when he came back here, back home, that he told me he was happiest. He spent 30 years managing the publishing press and I can’t remember a day he didn’t come home having concocted some silly prank. He once told me he convinced T.S Eliot over the phone that Faber & Faber was being all bought up by his tiny company. ‘Noonan trumps Eliot’, and I think I believe it.”
Two couples retreated into a confession booth and started having sex, moans echoing out and upwards into the church. Elizabeth’s mother seemed to be the only person visibly mourning during the eulogy. She was smiling but still crying in a pew close to the pulpit.
She and Sanders had met during his stint out east, when she was an underpaid bar dancer in Portland. Sanders, each night for a week straight, came to the bar and drank and tried to charm her. On the seventh day, she relented after some drinks and went home with him. She woke up on a barge headed back towards Virginia and that was fine by her — hell, anything that wasn’t Maine was fine by her. Within two years they had a daughter on the way and Sanders was convinced that if he didn’t give up a life on the ports he’d drink himself to death before Elizabeth was born. So they moved back west, to where Sanders grew up.
“Sweetie,” her mother said up towards the pulpit, “they’ve all stopped listening. I think you can quit the eulogizing.”
Elizabeth looked around and sure enough she lost the crowd to the revelry that was happening throughout the church — dancing, fondling, kissing, a group of stevedores making a toast to Sanders before downing a shot of irish whiskey, co-workers from the publishing press, clearly out of their element, trying to socialize but failing. All was fine enough until a woman Sanders dated when he was very young knocked over a lit candelabra onto the liquor pew and the fire engulfed it almost immediately.
A majority of the crowd made for the exit and a select few tried to find a fire extinguisher but to no success — the place was as old and ill-equipped as the stevedores thought. Elizabeth was the last one out. She grabbed her mother and two bottles of vodka that were left close to the porch of the church. She turned at the doors and saw the fire creep towards her father’s body.
Elizabeth approached the catering crew with a request once everyone was safe in the grassy field outside the church. They returned from their van with shot glasses and water, enough to turn two bottles of vodka into a shot for every person present. And so they were handed out, firetrucks off in the distance, racing towards the church but far too late anyway, and Elizabeth stood on an old tree stump to address the crowd.
“Somewhere Sanders is looking at all this, having a beer, and I can guarantee you he’s laughing at the whole thing. ‘Saved on the cremation’ I’m sure he’d say. So, cheers to that.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 04:47|
The end of an Era
May walked through the yellowing grass in her front lawn and opened the door. Her roommates, April and June, were lounging about and trying to stay cool. April was face down in front of their failing air conditioner, and June sat next to her reading a book. They both looked up at May.
“We are having a party.” May said, flatly.
“Not here we're not,” said June. “It's roasting outside and our air conditioner is basically fried.”
“Then we can have it somewhere else, but we're going to party and I am going to get drunk.”
“Are we mourning or celebrating?” April asked, propping herself up on her elbows.
“Both, I guess?” May answered. “The end of an era, basically.”
“Did I miss a memo?” June asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I dumped Ken,” May replied, reaching into the freezer for the bottle of Potter's gin they had saved for no reason other than a friend left it there and they had never bothered to throw it out.
“Oh my God,” April said, sitting up.
“Finally,” June said. April glared at her, but got only a pair of rolled eyes for her trouble. “What?” June asked. “He was a dick and I never liked him.” May unscrewed the bottle and took a swig, wincing as it burned its way down even as she celebrated the sudden feeling of cold.
“Wow.” said April, in response to both.
“No, she's right.” May said, thumping her chest and coughing.
June put down her book. “I bet Tom and Dick would be down.”
The phone rang. May, being the only person standing, walked over and picked it up. It was Tom. June put him on speaker. His cheery voice filled the room.
“Hi ladies! Haven't seen you in a while. Did you all want to swing by tonight for some drinks and five dollar poker?
“We're in.” May said, putting the crappy gin back into the freezer.
June, April and May stepped into the air conditioning and perked up perceptibly. Tom greeted them at the door and led them to the kitchen.
Grinning, Dick opened a mini fridge full of bottles. “Can I get you ladies anything?”
“We'll take the lot,” May said.
June chuckled. “I'll take a glass of scotch and some cold water.”
“Cosmopolitan, if you please!” April said, returning his grin.
Dick poured their drinks. “And an Alaskan Amber for Miss May.”
Tom grabbed a few bottles and they all made their way to the living room. For a while they just drank and listened to Judas Priest.
“We were literally just talking about you guys when you called. It's like you're psychic or something.” April said, breaking the ice as she got up to get the cards.
“I am psychic, remember?” Tom said.
“Oh, yeah,” said April.
“I love that you called just after I drank that nasty gin,” said April.
“One must suffer to appreciate joy,” Tom replied.
“I didn't marry him for his sense of humor, you know,” Dick intoned, nudging June.
“I dumped Ken. Apparently he's been banging some skank behind my back.”
“Sweetie, that man is garbage,” Tom said.
“That's what I said,” June said, pouring spring water into her fifth glass of scotch.
“You know what we have to do now, right?” said Dick, putting on his wizard hat.
“Summon a demon to exact our revenge?” April asked.
Dick retrieved some candles from the cupboard, arranging them in a circle. He lit them, said a few words in the old tongues, and reached into his pocket.
“Right after I fire up this joint.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 04:58|
Here are crits from talent week.
I only wrote what immediately popped out to me as being worth commenting on, so if you would like me to go into more detail or address a certain thing, feel free to PM me.
As penance for being so late on this, I will give a detailed crit to any three people requesting it for this week, once the judgement has been issued. Just claim in thread so I see it.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 05:02|
Well my original idea didn't pan out at all so I ended up taking this prompt in a darker direction that I had intended. So, uh, sorry in advance.
The Siege (756 words)
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:53 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 05:43|
Thanks for the crits! And sebmojo: I'll definitely try and go simpler in week 90.
As for 89:
A Man Alone With Himself (1198 werdz)
George W. Bush sat alone painting in his studio of brilliant sea blue, his oasis in the heat of Texas.
George was struggling against a portrait of Karl Rove. Going by photo had made him look like a ham hock. Others painted the strategist, the advisor, but George wanted to painted the loyal friend, and he couldn’t do that off of a photo.
It was a blessing that his hands had steadied with age, and he finally felt like the booze was out of his system. And it had only taken three decades. George’s real addiction, however, was to escaping himself. And in that studio, free from the mirror of other people, lost in his craft, he was off the wagon and mainlining.
The studio door swung open and George could practically hear his wife’s eyes roll.
“Oh George, not another portrait, and why are you painting him? Lord, such an un-a-ttrac-tive man.” George’s head sank, and for comfort looked to an empty dog bed, where Barney used to curl up and watch his master paint.
“What is it, Laura?” He sighed and felt himself drift from his work back into reality, the aches, pains, and exhaustion of age unfolding themselves.
“Well that’s some way to speak to your wife! Its your phone, George, you left it in the kitchen.” She said sharply, throwing the phone into his lap, and walked out taking inventory of his shortcomings as a husband.
George picked up the phone:
1 Missed Call
Tony “Landslide” Blair
“George you really must commit to a decision on this. You don’t have to stay for the entire do -- who does? -- but at least the Cremation.”
The Cremation of Care is the opening ceremony of a two week camp attended by members of the Bohemian Club. Politicians, businessmen, and other influential figures make up the attendees of what conspiracy theorists fear is an occult enclave. However, anyone with all cylinders firing will tell you its just a bunch of rich, old, fat white men dressing preppy and hitting the piss.
“I don’t know, Tony. I’m an old dog. I don’t go out much. I’m in bed by ten. And I-I don’t have the heart for Rummy’s practical jokes neither.” The camp was held in the woods of Bohemian Grove in California where the air turned world leaders into frat boys.
“Well at least think about it - it’d be good to see you, George,” Tony Blair paused. “And by the way, we’re all old men.”
George stood on Bohemian Avenue, at the edge of the Grove. Honky tonk piano weaving its way out to him from the thicket of towering redwoods, chased by laughter and cheers. He looked back up the road towards his hotel. This is when a drink used to calm him down. The party was alive and waiting for him: the flames of bonfires peaked around tree trunks and bottle rockets did star jumps in the sky.
Men in pastel outfits rushed past George as he stepped into a clearing of exotic looking marquees. Dozens, if not hundreds of guy-ropes held up giant canvas tarps over a sprawling floor of thick North African rugs. All around men were lounging in a range of stupors, their sweaty shirts clinging to their overweight bellies. Gaps in the canvas ceiling marked out where you could find a drum barrel fire, surrounded by CEOs and congressmen shotgunning cheap beer cans with garish looking knives. George wanted to go home.
Searching for a friendly face, George bumped into the back of Bill Clinton.
“...only say it once, but: Nixon was right about this pla--Dubya! Haven’t heard from you since Haiti.”
“You know, George, I see Jimmy on TV talking about his books, and your old man’s zippin’ all around the world, but you, George, I don’t see so much of you.” Teased Clinton.
“I um--” George couldn't find the spirit to defend himself.
“Jimmy and Rosalynn just finished a project that housed fifty thousand families in South East Asia. Fifty thousand! Thats a lot of kids with somewhere sleep, George. And you’re at home painting. Sure, its important to have a hobby. But we all still have an obligatio--”
George walked away. He didn’t want to be lectured; he’d spent enough of his life being told what to do. So he made for the darkest path he could find away from the party.
George walked, the sound behind him fading. A crack in the redwood canopy drawing a trail of moonlight further into the woods.
“George!” He turned around, and panting towards him was his friend, Karl Rove.
They walked in silence before the moonlight opened up over a grassy patch, and George sat down to look up at the stars. Say what you will about California, but they got themselves one hell of a sky. Karl gave a sharp grunt as he dropped beside him. George watched as his friend cracked open a beer can and it foamed up over his hands.
“So Boy Genius, how’re things? How’s marriage nu-mer-o tres?” George asked.
“The usual: kids who were in diapers when we were in the White House are trying to put me under citizens arrest. And the marriage? Well, this is the new wife, same as the old wife,” Karl’s answer ended on a jingle, George laughed. “How’re things with Laura?”
“Its hard,” George replied, staring up at the stars. “Its-its a funny story, Karl. When I first met her --as kids-- we got on. She was so smart, so funny and so pretty that when she spoke to me I felt like there was a spotlight right on me. It made me feel myself. Y’see, because this woman was interested in me, I felt like I was funnier, and smarter, and-and... worthwhile. Anyway, for a few months leading up to when I got the courage together to ask her out, she did the funniest thing: she ignored me. She would see me and not say hello, or walk past me like I wasn’t there. The spotlight had been turned away. I was out alone, in the cold, and the dark. And then one day I asked her out proper and I found my way back into the light,” George smiled at the Californian sky. “These days, Karl --after nearly forty years-- I think maybe the spotlight got its plug pulled.”
They sat together in uncomfortable silence. Behind them, a stick snapped.
“Mr. President, you should--” Karl started to warn George.
“--Painted all us, time to return the favour!” The excited voice of Dick Cheney yelled.
“No! poo poo, Dick don’t--” But Karl’s protests were too late as a Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld dumped a bucket of paint each over George’s head. The distinct laughs of Tony Blair and John Howard played out from the background. Karl fumbled in his pocket for a handkerchief and went to wipe the paint from George’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, George, it was just a stupid prank.” But George said nothing, and pushed his hand away. He stood up and started walking back into the dark woods, with no light guiding his feet, and no one by his side.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 05:55|
On Margie’s birthday the year before, her brother Ben accidentally killed her dog. The year before that, her then husband’s mistress crashed the party, intent on fighting, or loving, or just breaking down crying, Margie didn’t know. With anxious nervousness she stared at the ribbons and balloons her mother and friends spent the whole morning putting up and she wondered, what horrible thing was going to happen to her this year.
“Honey, all of that is in the past, isn’t it time for new beginnings,” her mother said. Positivity was apparently all it took to make life just fine, Margie thought. She wanted to snap at her mother, but what was it worth alienating the last family member in her life. Her friends all knew the story, it was old news, it was all she ever talked about, it was all that made her who she was. New beginnings would mean she would have to admit it she was the problem all along. Why couldn’t anyone see that, or did they already know?
Moving from guest, to party tray, to guest, she nervously twisted her wedding ring around her finger. She did it unconsciously, but she knew that people talked; her friends, her mother, they all pitied her, clinging on to the idea that things would magically get better. The reality of it all was that she had tried to sell it one day after the divorce, only to find out that it was cubic zirconium. In a fit of laughter that could only be abated by awkward stares at the jeweler, she slipped it back on to remind herself of the mistakes she made. Of course in Margie fashion, she yo-yo dieted between being too fat to take the ring off, and too self-conscious to even try.
When she saw the black sedan pull up, with tinted windows all around, she stood on her tip toes in the grass, trying to see what was going to happen next. The tiny little ember of anxiety began to kindle. When her baby brother Ben stepped out of the back seat, that anxiety swirled into fury.
Behind Ben was a large man who was dressed in polo shirt and slacks, and somehow emanated menace and gloom. She fell back on her heels, the prickly grass forcing her to acknowledge this was actually happening. There was some assurance in being right, after all. After what seemed like too long to not check, she got back on her tip toes and saw another large man, similarly dressed flanking Ben. They were waiting to cross the street.
She sank back into the grass. She needed a glass of water. A glass of water and a gin. That’s what she said with a smile to the friend next to her. Her friend had said something to her, she never heard the words, the sounds were foreign, something that was supposed to have meaning but she just couldn’t put it together. She nodded and laughed, before she turned and left the person confused in the grass.
She met them on the porch, before they even had a chance to knock.
“You killed my dog, you loving piece of poo poo,” Margie said. That the men accompanying Ben didn’t react to what she said worried her.
“That’s not true,” Ben said. That fire, that twisting fury, roared again. She twisted the ring over and over again. “I need to talk to you.”
“Would your, friends, like some refreshments? Please, feel free to help yourselves.”
One of the large men looked at the other, and they nodded. They were sweating, which Margie just assumed was the burden of large men in dark clothing. Maybe they appreciated the hospitality, she hoped.
They went out the side door in the kitchen, where the laundry was, and strode, with confidence that Margie only thought was possible on TV, to get a beer. They avoided the grass, as best they could, sticking to the concrete and the garden stones. She sipped her gin and water. Tonic upset her stomach.
“I need your help, Margie, please.”
“I can’t believe this, no, actually, I can completely believe this.”
“I need to borrow some money,” Ben said.
“What the gently caress is wrong with you?”
“It’s not for long, I just need a little bit, I’ll pay you back, I promise.”
He gave her a look. It was the same look when she kicked him out of her house, the last look he had ever given her. A look of hurt, that there weren’t any other options, that somehow that all the choices that led to this moment had been nothing but fate, that he was sinking toward failure like a deflating balloon, and she was the only gust of wind keeping him afloat.
“I can’t, I just can’t, there’s nothing I can do,” she said. Her hands shook, and she twisted the old wedding ring around her finger.
“Why do you still wear that thing,” Ben asked. Margie stopped twisting the ring, but she kept her fingers on it.
“I don’t know, maybe I didn’t want to let go of the idea,” she said. “But it’s my birthday, right, time for new beginnings?”
Ben nodded. Margie took the ring off and looked at it one more time, finally setting it down on the wooden counter. She kept her back to him, watching the party out the window. The men he had come with loitered at the table with all the beer and soda and chips, that was originally intended to force people to mingle and talk to each other when they had to refill their just-too-small cups, but they were alone in their broad shouldered stance. She listened to Ben’s footsteps. They were hesitant, trepidatious steps at first, before he came up behind her with a hug.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t help.”
“I know. It’s okay,” Ben said. He squeezed her tight, and that little fire inside her, inside him, flared briefly and brightly, and then all of the sudden let go. A puff of smoke floating away in the wind, Ben turned and left silently. In the grass, he passed in front of the window, leaving his footprints faintly in the blades and he nodded to the men. Everyone’s eyes were on them, watching them leave.
Running her hand across the wooden counter was smooth and unimpeded. She wondered if Ben had taken the ring when he walked up to her, or if he had taken it when he left. She wondered if it even mattered. After all, it was her birthday, it was time for new beginnings.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 06:05|
A Policy Of Perfection
They had engraved Arnold’s name incorrectly on his gold watch. “To Ernold Hemmingsworth - On the Occasion of His Retirement after 40 years of Dedicated Service to Public Policy.” Typical Sarnfield job, he thought, snapping the timepiece shut and taking a hefty swig from the 'DMT' beer the lads in Tech had recommended. Total lack of attention to detail. Just wait until it’s my turn to speak.
Sarnfield stepped back and smiling members of the department stood around the cafeteria, clapping politely or, in the case of the lads from Tech, cheering. Arnold recognised only about five of his fellow policy wonks, and the rest of the assemblage, he assumed, was here for the free booze. He took a moment to despise their cheaply bought sentiment, but managed to muster a grin and a veneer of thankfulness as he motioned for them to be quiet.
“Thank you for the kind words, Mr Sarnfield, and for this beautiful watch. I will surely think of you and your contributions to the Department every time I look at it. Now, I don’t want to interrupt your fun...” He indicated a wide trestle table topped up with discount beer and wine. “...but I did want to say a few, final words before I left the department.”
“First off, I would like to say what an absolute pleasure it has been to work here.” Arnold paused, wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, took a breath and continued. “I would like to, but, alas…”
Arnold trailed off. Behind the rows of embarrassingly polite smiles were giant jeweled footballs in the far corners of the room, bouncing quietly with unfathomable expressions on their faceless faces. They dribbled fiery rubies as they tried to catch his eye. Arnold coughed and looked away.
“...but alas, I fear that in all my forty years I have never…”
His own voice slowed down like a record on the wrong speed. The spheres were closer now, floating peacefully just behind the crowd, whose motions also seemed to have decelerated. “Do not be afraid,” the orbs whispered in his mind’s ear, spraying a waterfall of diamonds as they did. “Do not abandon your sense of self. Whatever you do, do not give way to amazement!”
The crowd surrounding him finally froze into rigidity, some eyes mid-blink, some hands with bottles paused mid-swig. The scintillating balls were hopping from frozen head to frozen head, towards him, and he could feel how excited they were to see him. “Look,” they called to him with their mind words, “look at what we have to show you!”
They sang a harmonic chorus, elaborate, each high-pitched voice a facet of pristine sonic crystal. From within them, tiny policy documents sprang into existence, small but perfectly formed. The documents filled the air around him, accompanied by crystalline laughter and a cascade of grass-green emeralds.
In his heart of hearts, Arnold knew that he had never written anything half as close to perfection as a single one of those gently wafting policy documents. He grabbed at them, afraid that they might dissipate back into dream, but they just floated around his hand, leaving trails of glory in their wake. Yet he could sense their every detail, their infinite precision - each an intent blissfully wedded to meaning “I have never come so close to perfection as this,” he gasped in amazement. And then his heart of hearts gave out, and Arnold Hemmingsworth fell dead.
The crowd took a moment to react, but remembered it for years afterwards as one of the most gracious farewell speeches they had heard.
wordcount: 600 (because drugs)
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 06:14|
I did a good thing today
Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:52 on Dec 31, 2014
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 06:48|
The High Ground
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:53 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 06:55|
The Last Tea Party
“I say, old chap, I think Ariel is the prettiest princess of them all. Wouldn’t you agree, Duchess Izzy.”
“I much prefer Snow White, old bean. She’s much more regal and presentable. Don’t you agree, Princess Mirabella?”
Mirabella shook herself out of her stupor. “Sorry, Izzy, I’m just…”
Izzy’s living room went silent, the kind of quiet that makes you want to go back to your bedroom and curl up in a corner. Izzy must have noticed something off because she spoke up real quick.
“Hey.” Izzy adjusted her glasses. “Mira. Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” Mira lied. She tugged at the necklace made of grass. Lauren taught her to daisy chain when they first met at Camp.
“You don’t look fine!” Lauren chirped “Even Sir Fuzzles can tell you that!”
Lauren turned and looked at the stuffed rabbit in the seat opposite her, with the top hat and fake monocle. When the bunny didn’t speak, Lauren turned to look at Izzy expectantly.
“Sir Fuzzles has taken a vow of silence”, Izzy explained.
“Oh.” Lauren broke character. “You look really sick though, Mira.” she laughed. “Is it because we played Hooky? Are the nerves getting to ya’?”
“That’s it.” Mira gave a nod. “I’m just nervous. My dad gets mad, y’know?”
Izzy still didn’t buy it. She was smart like that. Lauren, on the other hand, bought into it, and she gave a nod and a smile. The pink room they were in, with the frilly table cloth, the china cabinets and the multitude of those creepy German figurines, felt especially suffocating to Mirabella.
“We need more tea,” Lauren moved on quickly, holding up the teapot
“I’ll do it.” Mira said.
“Are you ever so sure, Princess?” Lauren said with a coy snicker.
Mira didn’t answer. She just took the teapot and walked out of the room.
She poured water into the teakettle and placed it on the burner. The itching around her neck was getting annoying, so Mira pulled. Unfortunately she made the mistake of chucking it on the side of the counter. The necklace lit on fire almost immediately.
The fire alarm went off and Mira screamed. In hindsight, she overreacted. She ran out of the house and buried herself on the lawn.
Izzy and Lauren came out. Mira was pulling the grass out of the lawn, ripping each individual blade to shreds.
“Good thing we found you!” Izzy said. “We thought you disappeared.”
Mira didn’t say anything. Didn’t even look up.
“Uhm.” Lauren hesitated. “Everything’s okay. Nothing to be upset over, but…“ She smiled nervously. “Was it your necklace that – “
Her necklace. Her stupid necklace. Hers. That was when Mira broke down. She brought her hand up and hit herself over the head.
“I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m so stupid!”
Her friends just stood there. Lauren stared looking around aimlessly. Izzy braced her hands over her head, teeth clenched. Izzy spoke, telling Mira not to hurt herself. It wasn’t just Mira though. It was everything. Whenever she sneezed and it left a mark; Joey Williams, who had a crush on Izzy and always stole the seat next to her on the bus; her dog allergies; her father stomping. Everything she hated, every little inkling, she took and blamed it all on her, and she transferred that hate from her mind to her palm and brought it cracking against the side of her head. And she kept hitting herself, until she felt whoozy, until she learned her lesson, until Lauren grabbed her wrist and held her back.
“You’re scaring me, Mira.”
Mira wanted to slap Lauren but when all of the stars went away she notice that Lauren was crying. She felt bad because she didn’t want to make Lauren cry. It was Mira’s fault she was crying because everything was Mira’s fault. She stared down at the floor like an idiot, the kind of idiot who sets fire to someone’s house while making tea.
“About what?” asked Izzy.
“Almost set your house on fire. Ruined your necklace. I’m sorry.”
“It was just a silly bunch of grass. Everything’s fine!”
“I walked away.” Mira’s voice turned hollow. “I shouldn’t have walked away. I’m sorry.”
Izzy stopped talking, and she looked at Lauren. Lauren clasped her hands like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Izzy’s hands were on her hips. They both looked unsure. Mira could smell the smoke from outside, metal, cinder and regret and it made Mira want to throw up.
Mira stood there, staring at the floor. Every once in awhile she would look up, just to make sure they were still looking at her. Lauren was ready to ask, but Mira cut her off at the pass.
“My mom left.”
Lauren blinked. Izzy seemed to understand but Lauren was always slow. “She left? Did she go on vacation or something?”
“No,” Mira said. “I – I dunno! Last week I woke up and she was gone. Dad told me she left.”
Izzy frowned. “Jeez Mira, I’m so so -“
“I’m not finished.” Mira said.
Izzy closed her mouth. Noth she and Lauren nodded. They didn’t see anything else. Mira sighed.
“Mom and Dad were yelling last weekend. They’ve been doing that a lot. I didn’t tell you guys because I wasn’t…” She breathed. “Dad came into my room and he asked me if I wanted to come live with him. He just stared at me, waiting, and I didn’t answer,” snot billowed out of her nose and into her mouth, “and mom told him to leave me alone,” she remembered how she curled up into a ball in the corner, her parents looming over her like trees, ”I wanted them to stop but they wouldn’t listen, and,” she shut her eyes and choked on air “he asked me if I loved him more and I said yes and I,” it was all her fault, all her fault, all her fault, “and my mom, she – “
Lauren hugged Mira so tight it pushed out what little air was in her lungs. Izzy joined in, and they held Mira in one big hug pile that crushed the burning in her chest. Mira stopped talking after that, pressing her nose against Izzy’s shoulder despite the snot. Lauren kept telling that she loved her, Izzy kept telling her everything was going to be okay. Mira believed them.
It couldn’t have been longer than a half hour but to Mira it felt like centuries before she spoke.
“I love you guys.”
“We know.” Lauren said.
Izzy patted her shoulder. “You the best, Mira. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a jerk.”
“Yeah!” Lauren grinned. “Your dad’s a jerk too!”
Izzy shot Lauren a mean look. Mira didn’t mind. In fact, it made Mira smile. She even laughed. She laughed so hard that it hurt! It was the funniest thing she’d heard in her entire life! Lauren started laughing, and soon enough Izzy joined in! And there they were, three sixth graders giggling up a storm in somebody’s backyard at noon on a school day. Despite the tears, it was one of the best days of Mira’s life.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 06:56|
Cheese it, it's the cops!
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 07:09|
UNOFFICIAL FILLER PROMPT
Write a story inspired by the photo below:
125 words. No signups. Submissions last until the next prompt is up.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 23:29|
All the balloons end up here. (111 words)
Blame La Niña. That's how I got here, too: trans-Pacific balloon adventure, sudden piff of escaping air, and I'm rear end-over-teakettle onto the island. Even then, it was already ankle-deep in tatters of mylar and nylon.
Now, don't get me wrong. People attach some real sweet notes to balloons, and it's always a pleasure to read them. Letters to lost loves, to strangers, to God. I've even hung some of the prettier balloons up in the palm trees, done myself some interior decorating, as it were. But I do wish that once, just once, humanity would take a break from the releasing-ephemeral-hopes-and-dreams-into-the-air shtick and send me something useful.
Like maybe a boat.
|# ? Apr 21, 2014 23:53|
Get Silly (105 words)
When Alan Livingston Clown College expanded into a postgraduate institution, everyone laughed. What use was clown philosophy in the age of cable news? What use was clown espionage in the age of the CIA? What use was clown engineering in the age of drones?
That all changed when prankster postdocs developed the Balloon Bomb. Under the guise of an advertising campaign, Clown College graduates negotiated with city halls, piled into airplanes, and crossed all their silly wires. When every city in the country was simultaneously bombarded with a wacky colorful attack, nobody was laughing. Until the real army came in, then it was pretty funny.
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 01:54|
Ever since he was a little boy Alan swallowed balloons. He never gave a single thought as to why, or where the balloons went, since they never showed up in the toilet like everything else.
Eventually, Allan went off to college. While crossing the quad one day, Allan felt a terrible pain in the deepest pit of his stomach. He fell to the ground, gripping his torso. From inside his colon he could hear a terrible squeaking. He suddenly felt incredibly full, as if he was swelling. His stomach roared.
Suddenly, eighteen years of swallowed balloons came streaming out of Allan, each fully inflated. The explosion of color could be seen from miles around, and for years everyone remembered the day of the balloons.
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 02:14|
Sorry I'm late.
Son of Man
Word Count: 283
Jermaine reached deep inside the woman and snatched the baby out. There was no time to do things the proper way. The womanly way. His family and friends waited for his successor. He severed the umbilical cord with his teeth and then wiped the amniotic fluid from his chin.
He walked the length of his mansion, headed toward the balcony which overlooked his backyard. A pretty woman - a sweet little thing ran to him and offered him a glass of water. He took her gift and he drank; deep and fast. She suddenly found herself six months pregnant. Her eyes brimmed with tears and then she fainted.
Jermaine got sick of walking. The solid platinum floors kept on getting scratched by his solid diamond Jordans, so he levitated the rest of the way.
At the balcony, Jermaine lifted the baby up to his face. He beamed at the baby and immediately the baby grew a beard and dreadlocks. Jermaine jammed his foot on the balcony edge and with a victorious pose, he held the baby high above his head. The baby’s penis hung down by its knees like a true black man.
Jermaine wept. His tears dripped off his face. As they sped toward the ground, they exploded into shimmering flames and flew away as phoenixes.
Down below, the crowd waited for Jermaine to speak. And he did, his voice boomed across the garden. Two and a half women fainted. “HIS NAME SHALL BE BLACK JESUS WILLIAMS!”
The crowd rejoiced and they danced and they sang songs.
Jermaine nodded as the sweet smell of marijuana wafted passed his nose. “His name shall be Black Jesus Williams.”
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 02:51|
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 03:37|
edit: actually, fuckit. Systran, brawl me or be proven a weakling before god and man.
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 05:43|
Put Your Cup In The loving Bin You Selfish gently caress (125 werdz)
loving Sarah caused the death of several thousand people with the careless toss of a coffee cup. Or rather, hers was the tipping point of all the litter that the park had faced over the years.
The trees shook once, as one, plucking their leaves with a concussive PUH. Trunks instantly withered and sank into the grass, the park was bare except for a blanket of red and brown leaves. Vibrations in the atmosphere blurred the view of the park as the leaves rose into the sky and began forming a mass. The Autumn leaves rose thirty stories high, swirling and vibrating into a colossal hand.
The top floors could only watch as it enveloped the building and wait until it closed its terrible fist.
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 10:45|
|# ? May 17, 2022 15:21|
Bees! BEEES! - 21 Words
A King-Kong made entirely out of bees was not what Frank McKinley was expecting on his commute to work that morning.
|# ? Apr 22, 2014 11:26|