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Jun 29, 2013

In with Boris Manul.


Jun 29, 2013

The Fail Boris Zhdanova and Rise of Boris Manul
1009 words

Near the border of Mongolia, in eastern Siberia, a scrawny zoology professor Boris Zhdanova stepped out of the SUV, about to take up his new post in conservation in the nature preserve. He had been sentenced out to the trivial research project for seducing one of his students, an heiress. He was plump, soft, and not used to any work that was harder than dictating research papers and seduction. He bore little resemblance to his distant ancestor, Genghis Khan.
“Why all the way out here, supervising the reintroduction of horses this god-forsaken gulag of a national park?” he soliloquized upon seeing his new humbler station.

Six months after his arrival, the former professor was all alone in the middle of the preserve, radio tracking the small population of newly introduced wild horses when the sky suddenly darkened. Even though it was winter, the temperature dropped perceptively. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a Pallas’s Cat or Manul coming out of its burrow. Despite its appearance as a larger, grey, longhaired housecat, the feline had the ferocity of its much larger orange and black striped cousin. He turned to face it, fearing his life the entire time.
“Nice kitty, go find a nice marmoset elsewhere. You don’t want to eat me, I’m all fatty” he pleaded and coaxed. Still the feline stared with its yellow eyes at him. After what seemed like eternity, the predator sniffed at the scholar, marked him, and galloped off in search of more sensible prey. Relieved, the researcher turned back to his aging vehicle. He drove back to the camp that had become his home.
“Was that a second Tunguska? Or did God finally get annoyed by some celebrity and cause Armageddon?” Boris asked his fellow researches as he wandered into the research hut.
“Do you understand Mongolian, as that’s all we’re getting on the radio. Seems something terrible happened based on their voices” was the reply.
“Can you contact our superiors outside of this hellhole?”
“All lines seem to be tied up. Not even a dial tone.”
Suddenly the radio broadcast changed into something more intelligible
“Every city that has more than 1 million population and any military instillation with the capability of operation outside the country has been destroyed. The worst fears of the Cold War have become a reality. Stay away from any such areas and expect that life will be very different from now on.”

The first year was hard, made easier by the fuel stocked up in case of a more usual emergency. The Trans-Siberian Railway had been destroyed, never to be repaired. The radio had made several broadcasts in Russian, but for the most part the transmissions were only in Mongolian. The canned food still held out, but preparations were made to start farming if possible. No one farther out than fifty kilometers had visited the remote research outpost. The sky was still dim and the temperature was still colder.
At the start of the second year, the diesel had all been consumed. No more would the workhorse vehicles of the outpost run. By mid-year, airplanes, which were normally rare, ceased to pass overhead. The first attempt at farming had failed and had used up most of the small stock of seeds. Even though they would be hunting amid a sanctuary, it was the only way to get food. The desperate researchers drew straws to determine who would be sent out. Boris drew the shortest one.
He started out to find any signs of prey. The distinct prints of the Mongolian antelope made a visible path through the heavy snow. He followed them, alone on the windswept steppes. Climbing over a ridge he spotted the herd. It was nearly sunset, and he faced the setting sun. He took aim at the middle of the herd, trying to maximize the killing potential. The shot rang out, scattering most of the animals, but in the center, one antelope lay dead. It was the first time Boris had ever killed.
When he went over to collect his prize, a grey, fur-covered creature hustled in to sniff at the dead animal. It was a Pallas’s Cat again, the exact same one that had marked him on the day the world as he had known it had ended. The predator looked at him again, sniffed the slain antelope, and took a bite out of it.
“Why, why are you tormenting me.” Boris lamented. “I may starve to death if you eat it all.”
Without care, the feline ran off again.
At the end of the third year, all the stores of heating fuel had run out. Boris turned over his research papers and books to the fire gladly. It was still not yet as warm as it had been before. The remaining researchers had started to wear pelts; all pre-war clothing had worn out. The radio broadcasts had stopped, even in Mongolian. Even if they had continued, the radio would no longer work. No one had come around in months.
By then end of the fourth year, the original conservation team had dwindled to five. Illness and despair took most, saving the rest from starvation. Bows and arrows and spears were the only weapons left for hunting. Boris became an endurance hunter, chasing prey until it had run itself to death. Eventually, he came up with the idea of taming one of the wild horses that he was sent out here to introduce to the wild. Previously, that had been thought of a sacrilege, taming the untamed beast in exact opposite of previous orders. The head of the research team that had passed down that piece of dogma had died of hypothermia the night before. It was the perfect time to profane the original purpose of the team.
Returning to the ridge that he had made his first kill, Boris held onto his spear, a large net and some rope. He spotted a herd of horses and in it several foals. He hurled the net at one of them and manage to capture it. He tied the rope around its neck, and was about to lead it back to the research station when he spotted the yellow eyes, watching. For the third time, he had been watched by the same Manul.
He had succeeded in bringing the first foal back to the research camp, along with enough for the rest of the researches to eventually be mounted. When the day came to finally ride, he made a declaration.
“My name is Boris Manul, and I will become the next Khan of Khans!”

Jun 29, 2013

I'm IN.

Jun 29, 2013

The death Mrs Smith
1117 words

I was visiting my old school chum, Mrs. Agatha Smith over the Christmas season. It had been nearly a decade since we had started this holiday tradition, after her husband’s funeral. We were joined by her two nephews William Smith, an entomologist, and Henry Darcy, a stockbroker. Her three servants were also there, Mrs. Baker, the cook, Beckett, the butler, and Martha, the housemaid. After diner, on the twenty-eighth of December, conversation had turned to the weather.

“It looks like we might snowed in. The man on the radio said it might be a record-breaking snowfall,” remarked Mr. Smith.
“I will call Beckett and make sure that the furnace is well-banked up with coal,” said Mr. Darcy.
“Now that the weather has been thoroughly discussed, can we commence with bridge?” said Mrs. Smith.
Ah, yes, bridge. I normally would not bring this among ladies, but would you like to make this game a little more interesting? A wager of a shilling on the outcome of the game?” said Mr. Smith.
“Your gambling will be the death of me! If you ever bring up gambling again, I will throw you out of this house and disinherit you. I am going to bed.” said Mrs. Smith, as she immediately left to go to bed.
“I shall also retire, bridge is impossible with three, and I refuse to play the more degenerate games you may get up to.” I said rising.


I had slept peacefully that night until my slumber was broken by a blood-curdling scream. I put on dressing gown and picked up the fire-poker. I went to Mrs. Smith’s room where the scream had originated. Martha was there with Mrs. Smith’s breakfast, and on Mrs. Smith’s chest was the largest centipede that I have ever seen. Mrs. Smith did not look well, so I used my fire-poker as a rapier and skewered the disgusting insect. I set the fire-poker down and went to feel her wrist. I had served as a nurse in the war, and I could feel no heartbeat. My oldest friend had died. As I hung my head to cry, her nephews finally came to see what was the matter.

“We were out the Beckett, trying to see why the telephone was out. It looks the snow broke the wires. The snow is over the ground floor windows. What is with all the screaming?” asked Mr. Smith.
“One of your specimens has gotten loose and your aunt is dead! You should never have brought them here! They could have killed all of us!” I said, brandishing the fire-poker.
“I need these for my research. I went to the ends of the Empire to get them. I designed their terrariums so they could not get out. Here I will show you” said Mr. Smith.
“Don’t show your collection to Miss Crewe. It would frighten her to death and we don’t need another loss today,” said Mr. Darcy.
“No, I will go. It is the least I can do for my old friend,” I said.


In one part of the attic, a laboratory and specimen containment area had been set up. The largest of the terrariums had its mesh lid off.

“I swear I put the lid on the tank tightly the last time I fed Matilda. The lid is too heavy for her to move. She isn’t poisonous. I could have become a professor with what I could have learned from her. I was so careful,” said Mr. Smith.
“Your aunt was old, and even though she let you have the insects in the house she told me that if she ever saw one of them free, she just might die. You are one of the beneficiaries in her will. She disapproved of your gambling habits-” I said.
“I loved her, she was the only way I could even do any of my research. I have never played for stakes larger than a pound.” he interrupted.
“Who has access to the room, then?” I asked.
“Everyone, I don’t keep this room locked. My living specimens were enough to keep most people away.” Mr. Smith answered.


I went back to Mrs. Smith’s bedroom. I wanted to see her one last time. Besides the fire-poker, which had been removed, everything was as I had left it not fifteen minutes ago. Her face and hands were ashen and her muscles had seemed to have contracted slightly. There was teacup on the nightstand next to bed. There was a grainy substance in the bottom. Mrs. Smith never took sugar in her tea, the only lady I have know not to. I picked up the cup and saucer and brought it to the kitchen.


“Mrs. Baker, has anything changed with your mistress recently? She seems to have started taking sugar in her tea.” I said, showing her the contents of the teacup.
“Nothing has changed with Mrs. Smith directly, she still does not take sugar in her tea. She has had a little trouble with her nephews recently, Miss Crewe,” said Mrs. Baker.
“What sort of trouble with Mr. Darcy? I know Mr. Smith keeps gambling and bringing home insects, but Henry always seemed like such a good boy.” I said.
“Mr. Darcy has been reluctant to get married. It seemed like he has fallen in love with a music hall actress. Mrs. Smith never approved of his choice. He has picked up some of her bad habits, I am surprised he does not drop his h’s,” she replied.
“Did Mrs. Smith mention disinheriting Henry?” I said.
“I have never heard directly, but her disapproval of Mr. Darcy’s behavior always seemed a bit harsher than Mr. Smith,” Mrs. Baker said.


Mr. Darcy had left with Beckett to get the doctor. I took that time to peek into his room, to if I could find any clues. He had not left any letters out in the open, but I took a look at the blotter. I read the phrases “soon to be able to”, “she would not approve”, and “matrimony will be bliss”. Nothing else was readable. Then I saw the empty bottle under the bed.


“It was snowing so hard we was only able to get half-way to the nearest house.” said Mr. Darcy.
“I know about Dahlia the dancer. And I know what you did last night. How could you kill your own aunt?” I asked.
“I had hoped the centipede would do the trick and it would be easy death. She had read my letters and I was going to be disinherited as soon as she could meet with her lawyer. I have failed at business and I would have to fall back on my inheritance.” said Mr. Darcy.

Jun 29, 2013

This prompt is cool. IN

Jun 29, 2013

The Armstrong Limit

On Olympus Mons

721 words

“This is basically a road trip through less pretty or interesting France. Hard to believe that we’re trying to be the first to reach the summit of Olympus Mons,” my husband, Claude said. “It’s been two weeks in a space camper, the tallest point in Kansas was more interesting.”

“We have climbed every other major peak on Earth and we’re still richer than Sealand. Scaling Olympus Mons gets us real fame, not just the fifteen we got after being the sole winner of the largest lottery jackpot ever. We bought that ticket so we could afford to climb Mount Everest,” I said.

“All this mountaineering is getting boring. When we get back to Earth, can we take easy for a while?” said Claude.

“Sure, but can you quiet for a bit, the terrain is getting rough.” I said.

A snow storm started to blow, and it was too dangerous to go farther. The ice was a big part of why it was taking so long drive up Olympus Mons. We were also far from the main settlements on Mars, lengthening the trip. At 20,00 meters, the atmosphere’s pressure was so little that it would kill us if we we left the pressurized cabin without protective suits. Even though Mars is terraformed, oxygen was needed outside the space camper 15,000 vertical meters ago.

The storm was letting up when Claude said, “Hey, Julius, I’m going to drive for a while. It will help me to get my mind off of how boring this is.”

“Go ahead. I’m going to check out our route by the satellite data.” I said.

I had just figured we were going to be driving for another three days until we got to the summit, when Claude hit some ice. We skidded for a while, and then suddenly the ground dropped from underneath the space camper. Sinkholes have been a problem on Mars since liquid water came back. After being dry for long, the ground had a tendency to crack if too much weight was put on it. As Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, there are underground magma tubes underneath the surface.

We hit the ground hard, and I heard a hissing noise once once I regained consciousness. The space camper had been dented, and was apparently losing atmosphere. I was in the back and put on my pressure suit. I also grabbed Claude’s suit and went to the cockpit to see how he was doing.

“Holy poo poo, Julius! Do you see what’s in front of us? Those look like bodies in front of us, alien bodies.” Claude said.

“Are you sure you have enough oxygen? How about you put on your suit and let’s take a closer look,” I said.

After Claude put on his suit, we left the camper to investigate the damage and to see our landing site. The entrance hole was at least 10 meters up and the camper’s front axle was cracked. We were probably completely hosed. In order to pass the time before we eventually died, we went to look for the bodies that Claude saw.

Twelve meters in front of camper, there were signs of a building. Three, one-meter long, ash-covered bodies were around what appeared to be the entrance. They had big heads and thin limbs. They reminded me of the Greys from 20th century conspiracy theories. We went into the building, and there were more of bodies. We were in the equivalent of Martian Pompeii.
“Well, Native Martians exist. Too bad we’re screwed” I said.

“Maybe we’ll find their spaceship. Look at this thingy I found. I brushed the ash off and it’s shiny.” Claude said, passing the vase-like object to me.

Unfortunately, I dropped it and I became unbearably hot, and not in the way I do in my deepest fantasies. Without thinking, I pulled off my helmet. I should have died due to my alveolar liquid boiling, the low pressure of the air lowing the boiling point to body temperature.

“I guess the ancient Martians have figured out how to break the Armstrong limit. This is really going to help space travel. Man, this trip has been great,” said Claude.

“We’ll be the modern day Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. Too bad we’re not going to get out of here that easily. Let’s explore some more.”

Jun 29, 2013


Jun 29, 2013



Jun 29, 2013

The Office of Animals
Word Count: 813

Day Eight of all creation had started off normally enough, the restful spirit of the day before had caused most of the heavenly host, including the Office of Animals, to spend most of the early morning watching the Garden of Eden. While watching the Garden and seeing God’s favor toward the two humans, Lucifer became jealous and stormed off, taking a full third of the host with him. Before noon, the humans had fallen to sin and were cast out of the Garden. These two events prompted God to hold an all-hands on deck meeting.

“I am sure all off you know how important the Earth project is. We did add humans to the mix before everything was completely ready. There are still large swaths of the planet that are still unfinished. I wanted to place my Son in charge of overseeing the Earth once He came back from college, but He will there another term. We still have to get this done, so get back to work” was God’s speech.

“More like He fell into a bad crowd. How a deity falls into a bad crowd I will never know” said Ezrael, a Throne, after the meeting.

“Australia still needs to be populated. Most our office defected. I guess they also felt jealousy over the humans” said Muriel a Cherubim.


As the two angels walked into the workshop where they created the animals of the world, they discovered it ransacked. The drawers which stored the animal parts were scattered around the room, and much of the supplies were missing. The notes for Australia were missing as well. Ezrael and Muriel started to clean up the mess made by the departed fallen angels.

“Have you seen any placentas? Australia is going to be warm enough to support mammals and I have not seen any” asked Muriel once the room was cleaned up.

“No, but I have found more venom than there should be. I do not want to face God’s wrath at having too much left over” replied Ezrael.

“I found some pouches and some prototype placentas. Perhaps the new life can start in the womb and then move to a pouch on its mother. That does not solve the extra venom problem though” said Muriel after searching further.

“Poor fetal things being forced out of the only home they have ever known. We could make them lay eggs instead” said Ezrael.

“A mammal laying eggs? Live birth defines the type” said Muriel.

“Only if we get desperate, then. It still seems cruel though. I think I will make more venomous insects than normal to use up the stock” said Ezrael.

“That is fine by me. It will become a motif” said Muriel.


As time passed, the mammals, insects, and other animals started to come together.

“Have you seen any more gifts of flight, Muriel? I do not have enough to complete the birds” requested Ezrael.
“No, they will just have to be flightless. We have done it before, remember ostriches? I did have a beautiful idea. Off the coast, an enormous field of coral should grace the ocean” said Muriel.

“Pretty. Humans will certainly be awed by the majesty of God after seeing that. I did enjoy creating the ostriches. A pity I had to compromise on there intelligence” said Ezrael.


“We are all out of nipples” announced Muriel.

“Really, what else needs nipples?” said Ezrael.

“I was checking the work order and we are short mammals. We are also out of placentas, but we can use the egg laying method that you mentioned earlier. Still, how will the newborns obtain milk without nipples?” said Muriel.

“Perhaps licking it off their mother. By the way you are talking, we do have milk glands?” asked Ezrael.

“Of course, we started with enough for all the mammals. I think the fallen angels took the nipples. Our angelic bodies lack nipples, and having them would let our fallen brethren fit in with humans better” mused Muriel.

“If we are going to create an egg-laying mammal contrary to our previous work, it should be something special. I still have venom left over. That would be interesting” said Ezrael.


The pair of new animals was almost ready. They had webbed feet, electrical sense, and a venomous spur. Only the head remained unfinished.

“These animals need something charming that will set them apart from other animals. Perhaps another bird-like trait?” said Muriel.

“These creatures remind me ducks in a way. I think a bill would be appropriate” said Ezrael.


On the closing of the Eight Day, Muriel and Ezrael presented God with their final creature.

“It is so strange, it almost does not look real” stated God. “That does not mean I do not find it comforting in this time of trouble. I will make copies of them for Earth, but these two are my own special pets.”

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