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Jan 31, 2014

by Nyc_Tattoo

In, customer


Jan 31, 2014

by Nyc_Tattoo

Tracey and the Robust Vegetable
Customer, 1300 words

Tracey knew she’d gotten in over her head after moving out East to work in the big city, but she hadn’t figure she’d be getting lost even in the suburbs she now called home. Yet here she was, having spent at least a half-hour wandering the aisles of the local superstore, VoidMart. She’d been searching for some time for the Outdoor Garden department, the location of which she’d clearly seen as she pulled in towards the large, domed building across the street from the shopping center where she so often took her son in to GameStop. On a quest for a more robust vegetable than the tomatoes her garden squirrels had devoured, she must have gotten herself lost in the labyrinth of dingy aisles. From outside the ziggurat-like warehouse had seemed, while large, not quite so large, and the elevators she saw at intervals claimed to lead up more than twenty floors. She couldn’t quite grasp the building’s architecture. Chicago was big, she supposed. And full of local brands, as the Golden Bean Café she had stumbled upon, back at the main entrance, was just as unfamiliar to her as VoidMart itself.

“Morning, lady, what can I get you?” the barista asked, scowling over the golden, bean-shaped glasses that all the employees sported.

These city folk were as rude as Tracey expected. She glanced over the menu, disappointed at the lack of the fall beverages she went for this time of year. “Huh, I’ll try the Salted Chili Vanilla Latte, grande,” she said, recognizing several of the ingredients. “And I’m looking for the Garden Department. Can you tell me where that is, please?”

“One chili vanilla, medium! Next!”

Tracey was taken aback. “Sir, please, the Garden Department?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Hook a left leaving the café and you’ll find the exit. There should be some outdoors crew smoking. Ask them.”

Tracey wasn’t sure she liked Chicago.


Rude though he’d been, the spectacled barista’s advice was more-or-less true. A few crewmen who’d identified themselves as night stockers, all clad in deep black cowls and thick sunglasses, had directed her with amazing precision to the Garden Department’s exit and the iron-fenced courtyard beyond. At least there were a few kind souls around here. And to the barista’s credit, the latte sizzled pleasantly on her tongue, chili and sea salt flavors mingling with the bitter espresso and sweet vanilla.

The Garden Department’s outdoor entry was pleasantly lined with tall shrubbery that arched towards the top, so high and thick as to almost block out the sun. Her new found appreciation for VoidMart didn’t last long, however, as she came to encounter twists and turns and even some forks in the hedges. She realized she couldn’t find her way back after having come so far in, and so plodded forward, or left, or right, until she finished her latte. She was almost ready to give up when out of the darkness sauntered a pale figure in a purple-and-black vest. An employee.

“Sir, sir, excuse me, please! Can you help me? Kevin?” He picked up his pace and his name tag was visible in the dim light before she finished speaking.

“Yes-yes, hmm, we are Kevin. Quick-quick, we’ll help. Welcome to the Garden of Shadows!”

Of course, trust a place like this to hire some druggie. Well, he was better than nothing. “Thank you, yes, ah, is this the Garden Department? I seem to be lost.”

Kevin flashed a yellow smile, nodded, and began to pace away, moving in a way that made Tracey recall taking her son to see chimpanzees at the zoo. “Come-come, department, this way. Not garden! Hurry!”

Tracey jogged after him, a protest that yes, she did mean the Garden Department falling on deaf ears. She felt put-upon but didn’t fancy being lost anymore. After a few twists and turns the sun burst back into vision as the hedges gave way and made Tracey squint. All around were thick tangles of plants of every variety, and tables, racks, and shelves of plants, pots, soil, and equipment. In both cases, many were so tall as to obscure the view of what was beyond.

“Department! Kevin has shown the way, yes-yes?” Kevin held out his hand and gazed at her. Was he expecting a tip? No way, she thought, not for just doing the bare minimum.
No, it turned out, as he grabbed her hand and began to lead her further into the Garden Department. “Now, Kevin will show you our department. We have many growing things, many indeed. Yes!”

He dragged her along a short way before stopping to gaze around. There were purple flowers, a few wheelbarrows, shelves of fertilizer. Some grotesque, off-white bulbous plants Tracey took to be some sort of onion caught her eye. More vegetable plants stretched out further beyond them.

“I’m looking for some vegetables to plant in my garden at home. I’m new to it, is all, and the bugs and squirrels around here keep killing my tomatoes and peppers. I don’t have much time to fend them off, between my son and work,” Tracey said.

“Vegetables? Many!” Kevin nodded, dandruff and strands of long, black hair falling as he did. “What sorts? Look-look, here is bulbs of blood garlic, and beyond, angel hair squash, mandragora. Look-look, here see, a few pickle plants left.”

Tracey had hardly been gardening a few months, and the pickle was the only vegetable she recognized from Kevin’s list. Her son didn’t like pickles though, and no one she knew grew them. They must have been beyond her ability.“I’m looking for some more robust vegetables, you know? Something that’ll survive the pests and doesn’t need much looking after.”

“Ah, we know just what you seek-seek. Come!” Kevin took off again.

They arrived in another section of the garden center, this one just as far from the exterior fences. Kevin directed her to a collection of flower-like plants with large tops and blood-red tomatoes dangling from their sinewy stems.

“Carnivorous tomatoes. Yes-yes, good. Watch.” From one of his vest pockets Kevin drew a squealing mouse and hurled it into the tomato patch. From the central pistil of the nearest flower a fleshy appendage emerged and devoured the creature, catching it in mid-air with a toothed mouth on its end and swallowing with a sickening, wet sound.

Before Tracey had even processed the mouse’s end, another, closer stalk erupted from the larger plant Kevin had placed himself near. He howled as the mouth closed around his midsection. He was too large to swallow whole, and so his wriggling form was lifted from the ground as the teeth began to saw through muscle and bone. More mouth-stalks emerged and the gangrel man was ripped to pieces. Tracey retreated, sprayed blood congealing unpleasantly on her blouse and face, when a pleasant voice spoke from behind her.

“Oh, I’m sorry about that, ma’am. Sometimes the younger employees slack off and don’t fertilize the plants properly. They get hungry, you know? What was he helping you with?”
Tracey turned and saw a pretty blonde woman. “Marsha: Manager,” her name tag read. Thank God, some real help around here. “I was just looking for some low-maintenance vegetables, and maybe something to keep squirrels away?”

Marsha smiled and beckoned Tracey to follow. “Oh, right this way, I’ve got some lavender and perennials you might be interested in, no worry about animals for those. Perhaps scallions.”
“Oh, that sounds perfect! Tell me, what’s a perennial?” Tracey asked. She was a novice at gardening.

“What’s a perennial! You have so much to learn. Marsha lead Tracey further into courtyard. “I’ll learn you all about feeding them.”

Jan 31, 2014

by Nyc_Tattoo


Jan 31, 2014

by Nyc_Tattoo


Butterfly Sails
618 words

Long ago there was a sailor from Languedoc, named Guilhèm. During one battle, when the carnage had all but become too much for him, he lept from the deck and took flight. He couldn’t explain what had possessed him to jump from the deck, and he had no intention or expectation of flight. Under normal circumstances this would have earned him strange looks and perhaps a flogging. But instead, he flew.

He circled upwards, and far on the horizon he spied the ship. Made of a bright red wood and crowned with a masthead in the shape of a butterfly, this was no ordinary ship. Its sails were gone, and instead a team of enormous butterflies were lashed to the mast, pulling it through the air. There were no cannons on deck or gun-ports below, and Guilhèm flew as fast as he could towards the ship.

The butterflies flew faster, though, so Guilhèm resolved himself to a long flight. He could intercept the ship when it next made port. He made westwards in its wake, dreaming of what sort of exotic landscapes such a ship must sail to. After two days in the air it became clear that Guilhèm now needed neither food nor rest. Perhaps flying was much more efficient than the gruelling activities normal man could do.

A few more days into the flight, a dolphin descended from the clouds and took flight alongside Guilhèm for a while.
“Guilhèm, hello,” it said. “What’s possessed you to make a flight like this?”

Guilhèm was not as shocked as he once would have been, and tried to respond. But no words came from his lips. It felt like sea mist had filled his body, making him lighter than air but unable to force words through his lips.

“I know you feel like this is an escape from where you were. Heaven knows we dolphins don’t like wars or fighting. But let me tell you, you should slow down. Look at me, look all around you. Not every mortal gets the chance to sail the skies.”

Guilhèm knew he’d sail further and faster in the ship. But he couldn’t tell the dolphin, so it continued.

“I know I can’t choose your course for you, but you’ll get where you’re going, eventually. This journey you can only make once. Come up into the clouds with me, or visit the depths of the sea. Turn left or right and see lands far beyond your native coasts.” The dolphin took one last, long look at him. “Very well then, friend. Farewell.” It turned and swam back up above the clouds.

No more companions visited Guilhèm, and after a week he spied the ship again. It floated low towards the sea, and at the edge of a green coast with purple mountains far beyond, just visible on the horizon.

Happily he descended down towards the ship. But he fell faster and faster. He was so close to the sea now. Too close! Too fast! He was going to land far short of the ship. He tried to twist in the air, he tried to call out. But he was stuck in some aerial current, stuck mute and numb, and with great speed he slammed head-first into the ocean.

The fate of the butterfly-sailed ship no one knows, but the last mortal to see Guilhèm was a fellow, who murmured a prayer for the youth who stood in the path of the cannonball. The boy was taken straight in the neck, and for a handful of long seconds his head careened into the air, eyes cast about in fear and mouth straining for breath, before it slammed hard into the water and was gone.

Jan 31, 2014

by Nyc_Tattoo

In, flash me

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